Marketing Charts and Trends

May 18, 2011

With an impressive collection of charts, HubSpot released The Marketing Data Box. Get it for free either in PDF or PPT format.

There are 65 charts on 54 data slides showing:

  • The benefits and consequences of social media to US Adults
  • Whether Americans are willing or not to pay for online news
  • The average cost per lead for outbound vs. inbound marketing
  • The percentage of mobile users that own smartphones
  • What activity dominates mobile internet time (and it’s not social networking)
  • Ecommerce growth rates
  • What percent of US population search online for health information, and where they are most likely to go
  • The TV programming that will make your ads more likely to be thought of as trustworthy
Marketing Data Box
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The Rise of the Content Marketer

May 9, 2011

Content Needs a King in Marketing

Content Needs a King

I know I don’t have to argue the value of content to readers of this blog. If you are even remotely interested in marketing it is clear that the more the web has transformed the way we promote our products, the more firmly ‘content’ has planted itself as the center of our lives.

Besides the rise of social media as marketing channel, the emergence of marketing technology, more specifically Marketing Automation systems, in which you can configure the automated distribution of content to customers and prospects has been changing the way marketers see and create conent.

The power of marketing automation is the ability to target your marketing database with specific content based on their behavior and stage in the purchasing process. According to a recent report from Forrester Research titled “B2B Marketers Must Better Prepare for Marketing Automation” (get it from Marketo for free), marketers have to really focus their efforts on content creation if they are to succeed:

“If they only push this type of content out in campaigns, they push their audiences away, since business buyers have a low tolerance for commercial messages. When companies start to tailor content to different audiences and stages of the buying cycle, they greatly increase the amount of content, and the type of content needed changes”

Marketing Roles Are Evolving

Marketing used to have clearly defined roles. Marketing Directors and Managers on top, Marketing Coordinators, Marketing Specialists in the middle, followed by Copywriters, Designers, Web Masters, and more at the bottom. Add a few other roles such as events coordinator and more recently email marketing specialist and maybe even something related to social media and you have the hierarchical organization of 90% of marketing departments today.

With the change and addition of new marketing channels, marketers now see themselves more as content creators than anything else. Twitter feeds need updating, Facebook pages need commenting, blog posts need editing, and YouTube videos have to be tagged. All of this new material requires some form of marketing organization, or better yet, organization and support from the marketing team.

What used to be clear roles (i.e. the copywriter writes copy for the ad while the designer makes the ad look pretty), is now morphing into a free for all. Interns are ‘liking’ pages on facebook while the events coordinator is Tweeting about the trade show giveaway at their booth. Sales reps are sharing webinar recordings with prospects, the CEO is blogging his latest thoughts on the industry, the human resources manager is updating the company’s LinkedIn page.

Does it sound familiar? And scary? Yup!

A new role is starting to take shape. I first heard a term I think will become norm at the last Power of eMarketing Conference in San Francisco, during a panel discussion in which Chris Baggott, Compendium’s CEO, talked about the “Content Coordinator“.

The Content Coordinator

The Content Coordinator is basically the person on your marketing team responsible for coordinating content creation and distribution. Note that this person is not necessarily responsbile for creating the content per se, and in fact some will argue that content creation and copywriting are the same, but rather helping with maintaining a consistent message across all channels (content creation should actually be encouraged throughout the company and a good social media policy put in place).

How you think about what content is for your company will determine how big this role is. Think about:

  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Presentations
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Sales Collateral
  • Blog Posts
  • Tweets
  • Facebook Comments/Likes/etc
  • LinkedIn (company page, discussions, etc.)
  • Website

And the list could go on a few more bullets. But you get the idea… content can be as simple or complex as you make it. The important thing is how consistent, or integrated your message and branding is across channels. And unless you have someone paying attention to it, you’re likely to lose the opportunity to influence people towards buying your product.

So while adding another person to your marketing budget may seem tricky at first, maybe you don’t have to hire an additional person (although for larger organizations that should definitely be the case). You could simply rework some job descriptions to free someone’s time to focus more on the whole content coordination aspect. This could be a good stepping stone for a promising young Marketing Coordinator, for example. The important thing is to make it official and empower this individual to really take charge of content inside your organization. This will save everyone (especially the Marketing Manager) a lot of time and avoid headaches down the road.

Larger organizations may even start thinking of a higher level role, of Chief Content Officer, created in order to plan, coordinate the execution, and report on content ROI.

Whether you decide to formally create this new marketing position or keep things the way they are for now, one thing is certain – your content is more king than ever. How you decide to work with it will determine whether you succeed or fail.


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.


Getting the most out of conferences and events

April 29, 2011

Photo by BillPellowe at Flickr

If you feel like you keep going to conferences and events but don’t have time to apply what you learned when you get back to the office, you’re not alone. Once you’re back and the emails pile up, the phone rings, and people walk into your office there’s not much you can do. All the good intentions you had of applying what you learned when you were out end up being nothing but notes in a drawer.

Making the Conference Count

If you really want to make the most out of your trade show, conference, or other learning event you attended, you have to be prepared to act when you get back to the office. And the best way is to use a systematic approach to attending conferences. I know, it sounds like work but unless you are prepared to approach it as a project, you won’t be able to really take adavantage of the learning experience after the event is over.

How to Take Notes for Learning

I suggest you take a piece of paper (or use MS Word, Evernote, our iPad, it doesn’t matter) and create a template to use at every single session you plan on attending. It doesn’t need to be a full 8.5 x 11 letter size paper, some small 3×5 index cards can do the trick. The goal is to make sure you take the same style of notes at all sessions. Here’s what your template needs to have:

CONFERENCE NAME: [name of the conference]

Session: [title of the session]

Date: [date of the session]
Presenter(s): [name of the presenter, and contact info]

Key Insights: [bullet points on things you’d like to learn more about, research online, or that were just interesting or insightful]

Action Items: [ what will you or your team do once you get back]

The most important part of note taking is the “action items” block. The easiest is to just put down bullet points of what you or your team will do once you get back. Could be as simple as “Review our home page meta tags to improve SEO” or a bit more complex like “Create a project to select a CMS system for our website”. The objective is to write short, very direct items that you will later translate into more details to your team.

As you take notes of each session, an interesting thing will happen. You will suddenly realize not all sessions are really good. If you walk out of a session with a blank page (i.e. no insights or action items) then you know it was just a waste of time. If most sessions end up with blank pages, then that’s a conference you shouldn’t attend next time around.

Acting On Your Learning

Before you leave to the conference there’s two things you need to do. One, is schedule a 30 minutes meeting with your team for the very first day when you arrive back in the office. The second is schedule a one hour slot for yourself either on the very first day or the very next day when you get back.

When you return, you already have a meeting scheduled with your team. Is 30 minutes long, so all those emails and fires can wait 30 mins for you to brief the team. That’s right, you’ll use that time to talk to them about the conference, the good, the bad, etc. And you will also show them your notes and give them an overview of what you’ve learned and what’s coming (action items) to each of them. This serves two purposes. First, with the conference still fresh in your mind you can accurately tell your staff what happened at the show and prepare them for what’s going to come their way, and second it helps you solidify what you learned during the show.

When you get to the second meeting you scheduled prior to leaving the office for that conference, you will then stop whatever you are doing and get all your notes out. Since all of them have an “action items” section at the bottom you can quickly go through your list and start identifying what needs to get done, prioritizing the tasks, and assigning them to appropriate team members (or to yourself).

I think you should also create one ‘master list’ of action items (add the conference name and date to the top) and save it somewhere you can find. If you need to refer back to the list or after 1 year don’t remember how good the conference was, just look at the list.

Sharing the Knowledge

If this process works for you, it is a good idea to show your team what you’ve done. Next time anyone from your group attends a conference or event that’s worth sharing with the team, it will be easier and more productive. As you go through your notes and action-items you are also deciding if this is an event you should go again next time around.

Summary of Conference Note Taking

1. Schedule a 30 mins meeting w/ your team to share what you learned from the show, and to talk about the action items

2. Schedule a 1 hour slot of ‘quiet time’ for you to go through your notes and assign tasks to your team

3. At the conference, write down at each session action items for you or your team to do based on the info provided

4. Back in the office, hold the meetings you have scheduled and share what you’ve learned, assign action items

5. Save the ‘master list’ for reference


Selecting the Right Email Marketing Provider

April 6, 2011

You either have or will have to evaluate and select an email marketing software provider at some point in your marketing career. And there’s a good reason most people dread this project, after all with so many ESP (email service providers) out there, is really a daunting task.

That’s why I wrote a comprehensive guide to help you in your email selection process. Published in a 3-part series by Email Vendor Selection website, it shows a proven approach to quantitatively help you narrow down your choices and select the solution that will be the best fit for your organization.

Check out part 1 of the “Taking control of the email vendor selection process” article and let me know what you think!


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.

 


How Everybody Wins with HubSpot’s Funding

March 10, 2011

As everyone in the marketing industry surely knows by now, HubSpot raised $32 million in additional funding. This means that is time to update my previous charts on marketing automation funding (see below) and the funding timeline, because HubSpot just surpassed Marketo as the highest funded marketing software vendor to date. (Note: yes, I wouldn’t necessarily say HubSpot is a ‘marketing automation’ vendor per se, but they are moving towards that end).

Click to enlarge

With the new round of financing, HubSpot now leads the pack in terms of VC funding and takes the total amount raised to date by key marketing players to over $220 million.

Click to enlarge

Updated above is the timeline of funding for the key players in the marketing automation space (you may argue HubSpot is not a marketing automation vendor, this is subject for another post).

Everyone Wins

But it also means something else. The money flowing to companies like HubSpot is impressive, and the results of the investment will not only benefit them but also the whole marketing automation and marketing software industry in general. Is almost like a virtuous cycle, where money goes to marketing software vendors, who use it to build better products and educate the market, which then learns about the benefits of such solutions, purchase those solutions, and publicize it themselves and pay those vendors for services.

Industry Impact

Should established marketing automation players be worried about HubSpot’s sudden infusion of capital? After all, now that they have the deep pockets to invest in improving their product, maybe their solution will start looking more like what marketing automation vendors have been selling for some time now. For Eloqua, at least, they say there’s no need to worry since HubSpot is serving a very different market.

Market Segmentation

And here is worth pausing for a moment. We sometimes tend to bundle all of the vendors into one big basket, because a search for marketing software solutions will show more results than you would care to browse and the sales literature of most of them will make you think they all do very similar things. Nothing could be further from the truth, since after taking a few of those solutions out for a spin you will discover there’s much difference under the hood… but that is a topic for another post, since it can take some time to untangle the value propositions and real benefit all the marketing software vendors make.

So HubSpot’s recent capital infusion should be treated as good news by all marketing vendors. It does seem the whole industry is due for a shake-down but until then, the awareness and market education will benefit everyone.


WordPress Plugins for Marketers

February 22, 2011

A recent question on the Marketing Over Coffee LinkedIn group about WordPress plugins generated a really great list of tools marketing professionals should consider when running a personal or company blog. To make it easier for everyone I’ve compiled the suggestions from the group into an easy-to-read list (sorted alphabetically). An Excel file is available at the end of the post with all this info.

WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins for Marketers (click to zoom)

Note: Only WordPress.org (the free, host-it-yourself version of WordPress) allows for plugins.

The list is not all inclusive and depending on the focus of your blog you may have to search for that specific plugin elsewhere, but it seems there is an agreement that at minimum you need some kind of SEO and Analytics plugin, and if your blog has enough traffic, a cache plugin is justified. For corporate blogs using a backup plugin is probably a good investment as well and the editorial calendar plugin is a great help for planning content especially coordinating among different team members.

Click to download the WordPress Plugins for Marketers in Excel (XLS) format.

Is there a plugin you simply “must have” or recommend that I have not listed? Let us know!


Marketing Automation Catching On Fire

February 16, 2011

According to the recent report by Marketing Sherpa, “CMO Perspectives on B2B Marketing Automation” (offered for FREE by Marketo until March 1st), “the majority of CMOs have either implemented, are in the process of implementation, or are at least considering implementation of marketing automation software“.

34%: Our marketing automation software is partially implemented

19%: Our marketing automation software is fully implemented

17%: We have not began implementation but plan to

30%: We have not began implementation and don’t plan to

This is probably good news for the vendors, which are competing in an increasingly crowded market. Some have even suggested that marketing automation market is floundering, but it is such a new market and offering that is innevitable to have doubts, especially with these many vendors in the space. With time, a shake out is likely (in fact, the recent acquisition of Unica and Aprimo may point to consolidation) and the evolution of solutions will ensure marketing automation has a place in most marketing organizations, much like CRM is now standard for sales departments.

A Marketing Automation Timeline

So let’s take a look at the marketing automation companies in play today (mostly US based in this case) and when they were founded. Interesting to note that the majority of the players only came to existence not even 5 years ago. This nascent industry still has lots of growth to do.

Timeline of Marketing Automation Vendors

You may spot some companies that were not considered to be “marketing automation” players just a year or so ago. That points to the evolving nature of the market, and the key functions of lead nurturing, scoring, and automated triggers becoming part of email marketing and other marketing solutions. Marketing Automation Software Guide published a B2B Marketing Automation market map that shows a few other players I ignored for the timeline above, like SAP and Oracle because although they do have marketing automation capabilities it is not their core business (and I don’t agree with tagging Salesforce.com as a marketing automation solution).

Investment in Marketing Automation

Another interesting factor to consider in the marketing automation industry and why it seems to be catching on fire is the money that is flowing towards some of the key players. Just a few marketing automation companies have already raised over $170 million dollars combined. Whether they will all be around a couple years from now is still to be seen, but it does make for a highly competitive environment. With cash to burn, these companies are focusing on growing the customer base first, with hopes that revenue will follow.

Total invested in Marketing Automation vendors

The marketing automation infographic above (click to enlarge) shows the top players in the MA space that have raised over $1 million dollars. Also interesting to note that if you break down the fundraising of each of the above vendors into a timeline (like I did below), most of the investment has been made in the past couple years.

Marketing automation funding timeline

You may have to click to enlarge the funding timeline infographic above.

Note: I used publicly available data and wasn’t able to find Eloqua’s Series A, so I deducted based on valuation of their second round.

The Marketing Automation Market

The Marketing Automation market is at an interesting stage. Companies are fighting for customers, trying to educate the market, and we may be seeing the beginnings of consolidation. Based on the investment figures above it seems is catching on fire, but at the same time there’s fierce rivalry and still a lot of room to improve… what will happen? I don’t know but it promises to be really interesting!

What do you think ?

P.S. Let me know if I missed any MA company in the graphics above or if I got incorrect data. I’d be happy to fix the infographics for benefit of everyone.


The Science of Email Marketing

February 10, 2011

I just attended “The Science of Email Marketing” online webinar, hosted by HubSpot and presented by social media scientist Dan Zarrella.

Slides should be available for download soon here.

Key takeaways:

  1. Businesses are consumers (the boundaries between B2C and B2B are blurred when it comes to reading email)
  2. Try sending emails on weekends
  3. Send very early in the morning
  4. Optimize for mobile
  5. Use lots of links
  6. Include reference information in your emails
  7. Serialize and label your emails
  8. Give your subscribers special access
  9. Send email from someone they’ve heard of
  10. Don’t be afraid to send too much email
  11. Your newest subscribers are your best
  12. Make them want to get your emails
  13. Ask people to follow you

The presentation was based on data collected via focus groups and from MailChimp’s email database of over 9.5 billion emails sent.

I like Dan’s presentation for its brevity and focus on key action items based on solid data. What I wish he had shared is how the data from focus groups and MailChimp is broken down. How many B2B vs. B2C companies, industries, and even job titles. It’s easy to say that B2B and B2C email patterns are similar, but without seeing the data underlying that assumption I’m very skeptic. Also, MailChimp is now known to be used by large corporations (they focus on SMB market) therefore the data may not take into account larger organizations.

As with all analysis and reports out there, you have to take all of the recommendations with a grain of salt. Test them, see if they work, then be the judge. No one knows your industry and customers better than you.


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