BMA – Fixing the Mid-Funnel

funnel.pngThe discussion focused on the mid-funnel – the “new problem child” for many marketing organizations.

Our environment:

  • 50% of marketers are compensated on generating pipeline
  • If prospects engage beyond MQL, they are more likely to become SQL
  • Natural resistance to engage with the company

How do most marketing organizations solve mid-funnel problem?  At this point, most organizations are either:

  • not doing anything at all or
  • not doing it very well
    • It is challenging to engage prospects; some marketers do it with low productivity, many struggling to accomplish anything

But..   how do we know that we have a mid-funnel problem?  We can look at how mid-funnel is working now: What is conversion rate?  What is sales process?

There is a small segment of marketers, who are unaware about their challenge – still concentrating on the top of the funnel.

“I can just crank out an e-book and drive engagement…”  What is important for mid-funnel?  Connection with sales.  Both speakers suggested integrated programs where general marketing tactics (email, webinars, etc.) are integrated with outbound calling. 

Example: start with the objective, then send an email and call to those who responded.

Example: target mid-funnel with an appointment-setting campaign.

New term (for me): multi-match – getting more responses out of a single lead.

How many touches are needed overall (email, etc. phone) – usually 7 – 13+

Which marketing tactics are effective in mid-funnel:

  • webinars
  • seminars
  • email
  • outbound calling

Product information is useful at this stage: “These guys love speeds and feeds…”  “I would send a copy to sales people to check what will resonate with the customer…”

Any specific recommendations for compressed sales cycles?  Outbound calling!

sales-marketing.PNGConnection with sales is critical.  How do you engage sales team?

“If I can get sales rep to accelerators (a level of revenue when the rep receives an increased commission), I am speaking to their wallet, which is next to their heart.”

Understand what sales priorities are.

“First, get prospects ‘on the buss,’ then, entertain them by marketing to their pain points…  make sure to speak in the customer language, so they are more likely to get to the next stop.”

Example: one rep wanted to connect with CIO of a major bank.  “Do you know that your CIO is on the board for boys and girls club of NYC?”  Rep sent one tailored email based on this information and received the reply.

“Up-level your marketing team to be more strategic!”  When you are talking with sales, talk in strategic way.

Valuable tip: “We do pre-recorded webinars…   we also pre-record Q&A at the end of the webinar, as it is much easier to manage – result is the same 🙂

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BMA – Communicating Marketing’s Performance: The CMO Dashboard

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This insightful presentation included guidelines for creation of a useful dashboard and typical mistakes companies make at the point of dashboard planning and creation (plus examples!).

SiriusDecisions have a very clear approach to measurement in general: people and process first, data and technology second.  The fact that successful measurement organizations spend over 60% of their efforts on the social side of the process is incredibly insightful.

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Creation of a dashboard needs to start from business questions.  NetApp example represents the first step of dashboard development – a “dashboard” of business questions.

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At this point, every person in the industry is probably aware about “silly” irrelevant metrics, which, sometimes, find their way into documents designed to show business results.  Yes, number of “likes” is not a useful business metric.  However, there is another kind of irrelevant metrics, which are more difficult to detect.  These metrics might be quite beneficial for some organizations, but not others at a certain point. If the company’s goal is retention and the dashboard highlights acquisition of new logos, the metric is not relevant for the objective this company is trying to achieve.

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Other curious notes from the presentation:

  • CTR – “back up metric”Sirius.PNG
  • “Pictures worth a thousand spreadsheets”
  • Unfortunately, quite common issue: “it takes 60 hours to produce the report…  we do not have time to analyze the data…”
  • We serve more audiences than just sales, but we get sales myopia
  • “Do you spend 100% of your budget on demand?  No.  Then, why do you measure demand only?”
  • SNOS – shiny new object syndrome
  • Irrelevant metrics are not silly, they are not aligned with organizational objectives

Excellent presentation!

BMA – Artificial Intelligence for Customer-Centered Marketing

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As usually, a thought-provoking event with the main idea “think about an opportunity AI presents!”  We, marketers, often concentrate on shortcomings of current AI to help us do our jobs now, rather than explore the opportunities.

  • Connection of AI and marketing: AI may not need to be incorporated into marketing process itself; AI creates efficiency in production, which allows (requires?) more products to be sold.  Selling products is marketing job…
  • Chat bots are often owned by technology and used to improve web site navigation – it is an opportunity to engage with a customer and should be managed by marketing.
  • Very interesting approach to mobility overall from marketing perspective: “Your customer is talking to a car…  think about the opportunity!”  🙂

 

BMA – Content Marketing at Adobe

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This insightful event focused on content marketing in its broader sense.  This approach is both reasonable and refreshing.

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Interesting – expert content is more valuable that user reviews for purchase consideration. Though preference for expert content was known for years, comparison between expert content and user review is new (for me).

Opportunity outlined by the presenter: we need to create experts.  Now, demand generation is thought leadership.

Not all subject matter experts are good writers; pair good writers with SMEs.

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An unusual approach to “content” is Virgin America campaign to promote its First Class features.  What could be more boring?  Not quite…  A unique pair of sneakers including representation of first class amenities was offered on eBay.

Lyft grew out of a common passion point: feeling part of a community. The company launched a campaign called “Undercover Lyft,” featuring celebrity and local hero Lyft drivers who picked up unsuspecting customers. Through its campaign, Lyft made clear to customers that it understood and could deliver on the need for a sense of community.

Social-media-optimized videos:

  • Social videos work well on Twitter and Facebook, but not on YouTube and LinkedIn.
  • Keep videos to 45 seconds or less in length.
  • Captions are imperative, since 80 percent of viewers will watch without audio.
    Put targets on the audience you want to reach and money behind the posts.

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BMA – ABM Optimization

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As usually, the event started from lovely networking and proceeded to a very insightful conversation about ABM and everything related to the topic (from a marketer’s perspective, it pretty much everything 🙂 ).

Jamie posted Top 3 Takeaways on ABM Optimization after the event, which gives an excellent overview of the conversation.

…Duns & Bradstreet added that they see a data decline rate of 40% in one year. This tracks on par with my experience…

Other interesting points:

  • An issue to consider: who is the prospect and who is the customer?  Two different people in the same organization can “play both roles.”
  • Micro-campaigns for the same account (a play on “Demand Unit?”) – IBM Analytics or IBM Watson as separate segments to target, for example.
  • Even in a medium size company, the organization can have several operations groups, but nobody responsible for the entire process.  As a result, the database may not be cleaned in a decade…
  • Identification of a champion for the solution within an organization is critical.  However, the champion’s involvement needs to be carefully considered.  For example, a champion might do a webinar only for the company where he/she works, and only BU name can be used in promotion, rather thank the person’s name.
  • If sales are asked to select initial accounts for ABM, they often provide accounts, which they were not able to penetrate.  These accounts would not be the best start for the program; it is important to work with accounts, which already expressed some level of interest.
  • How to find champions?  The best source is a user conference.  Finding a champion on the acquisition side is more difficult, and requires close communication with sales.  When the champion is identified, ask “what do you need?”
  • box.PNGDM is a good way to catch attention in the world of electronic messaging.  One of arguments against the approach is remote work, but most people will eventually come to the office.  It is important to include a premium to get results.  People love receiving boxes 🙂
  • Successful tactic: Lunch and Learn.  Getting a list of potential attendees is easy by requesting a list with “dietary requirements.”

flip.PNGABM blog with presenter’s contributions  Flip My Funnel  Curious: the blog promotes “ABX Webinar series.”

BMA – Gaining Truth and Actions from Attribution

full.pngAs usually, BMA presented a very insightful event.  Attribution is a serious, and, sometimes, heated debate between marketing, sales, and even occasional marketing silos 🙂   Blue Jeans uses Full Circle Insights to monitor marketing generated leads and understand channel activity.

blue.PNGInteresting: Blue Jeans start from equal touch attribution, what makes sense.

Innovative analytics point: Blue Jeans used to have a three persons analytics team, which served needs of different case-study.pnggroups, including executive reports.  As the team was struggling to fulfill all demands, a better organization helped to focus the efforts.  Now each member of the team is “embedded” into a functional group and handles all analytics needs of that group (marketing, for example).

Why not make reporting a “self service” for the marketing group?  As operations are busy with the campaign creation, it is highly unlikely they could find time to do deep enough analysis to understand what is happening with the campaign. A dedicated analyst has the time and a skill set to find and share campaign insights.

Marketing fables: “An outdated e-book converts 5 times better than anything else…”  🙂

Beside the topic of the meeting, marketers discussed new Sirius Decisions waterfall – who could resist?  🙂

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Interesting – ABM is migrating into the waterfall and also experiencing an evolution of key concepts.

Demand Unit Waterfall, which starts with a target market containing potential demand units. Demand units are defined as a buying group that has been organized to address a need the organization is challenged with. Demand units – not accounts – are usually the true targets that marketing (and product and sales) should have in mind when thinking about buyers. Buyer, needs and solution must match for a demand unit to exist.

Modern Marketing Experience 2017

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Fantastic conference, as usually!  This year, the emphasis on “people” aspect of the business and organizational alignment, introduced last year, became more clear.

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CMO track was also discussing who are right people for the organization, where they can be found, and how they can be trained and retained.  Modern marketing organizations (and, probably, not only marketing organizations) are working on creating their perfect teams.  Technology is evolving, and new opportunities can fall apart if not supported by human part of the enterprise.

Ron Corbisier (Relationship One), shared an interesting slide during his AI session, where he outlined primary topics of last decade.

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I was fortunate to attend seven of these conferences, and observed a progression of a different dimension – organizational evolution of marketing.

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Starting from 2010 (a year when I attended my first conference), and through 2011, 2012, 2013 “Marketing and Sales” was an important topic, and a few years later, London 2014, the emphasis shifted to “Marketing and IT,” even if challenge of working with sales continued to persist.  Juniper presented it progress as Technology > Process> People…  and, after a thoughtful pause, the presenter mentioned, “we should have started from people.”  Modern Marketing Experience 216 emphasized importance of “people and process” before “technology and data,” what, sometimes, takes a central stage to the detriment of the final outcome.

One more organization, La-Z-Boy, built its leadership team with CIO reporting to CMO.  From another side, one of mar tech vendors noticed that several projects went on-hold as IT was gaining more influence in organizations of his customers.  I guess, next year topic could be the organization itself.  By that time marketing teams will be in place and process within the company will be examined and questioned.

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Building a team: we are observing a usual progress from generalists to specialists, as companies grow and technologies mature.  The new objective of building a team: people who can learn.  We need people who can imagine the possibilities and live them: adaptive, flexible, learning and be open to the change.  Dropping what does not work is important.  Managers are trying to match skills to passion; if people are passionate, they will find a way.  Hiring to the culture is even more important as it was before and and hiring passion is critical.

Building a team of today and tomorrow: team should include partners, coaches, etc., and extend beyond company’s boundary.  CMOs are looking for people who can look ahead and collaborate.  “Your digital transformation brings people and ideas together.”  “We need to breach the silos!”

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Over the years the images of organizational silos persisted, but the number of the silos in the pictures increased – marketers have to interact with more business counterparts to be successful, and companies in general have to work together to innovate.

Innovation was another interesting point of the conference: Oracle presented an “Innovation Journey” wall, with well thought-through steps (from my perspective) of introduction and managing innovation.  The innovation process assessed business in general, rather than marketing or sales – conference attendees.  It was a pleasure to see that marketing “arrived” as an integral part of the business, rather than an independent component with questionable business value 🙂

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The most interesting part of the “innovation wall” was the detailed process steps paper – a list of seemingly ubiquitous points collected in one process.

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Interesting: test is included as part of the innovation, and though test includes agile components, the overall process is a typical example of a waterfall.

Combination of waterfall and agile approaches in project management was also suggested in another session “How Proper Project Management Can Make You a Change Hero.”

  • Only 25% of change management initiatives are successful
  • Top reasons for failure:
    • lack of consistent communication
    • overlooked stakeholders (excellent point!)
    • lack of executive support
  • As additional stakeholders and requirements will be revealed during the requirement gathering phase, it is important to re-identify objectives at this stage of the project.  “With a full understanding of requirements from each group, review your initially outlined objectives and adjust if needed.”  Objectives can change, and it is normal!
  • After the project:
    • review the objectives with stakeholders – were they met?
    • schedule “post launch check” a few months after the launch of the project to check if the change has been implemented successfully
      • During the check speak with stakeholders to make sure that the objectives are still met

Mixing waterfall and SCRUM is beneficial: overall project can be handled as waterfall, and development components can be run as scrum.

Interesting example of a project that faced an obstacle: in the beginning stages of lead nurturing project, executives questioned the need for the initiative.  The team suggested to do a 3 months test for a specific product or region and review results.  The result: time to sale has been cut in half for pilot-affected leads.  After the result was clear, the project has been extended to its original scope.

Beyond the Hype – Keys to Achieving ABM Success (Demandbase)

Beside well-known ABM advantages (better performance and increase of ABM benefits over time), and well-established process (sales and marketing alignment on account selection, etc.), the presentation had a few new (from my perspective) insights.

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Interesting : ABM is also considered an evolution started from new technology and merged into organizational approach.

  • When ABM is started, number of leads will go down, what is not comfortable for the organization, and needs to be communicated in advance
  • Many organizations will pilot ABM on a group of sales reps or a region to see results

ABM leadership team now includes operations (lovely!) – and it is not “IT,” but rather marketing operations function itself (highlights – VB)

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Another interesting point: ABM maturity progression also includes operational alignment, and progression beyond digital channels.  (Highlights – VB)

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Changes ABM is bringing to marketing and operations are generally re-orientation of existing (people, process, and, in this case, technology) to ABM – a more efficient business approach.

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A practical example from the session: a company wanted to increase sales in the enterprise sector.  Before a major advertising push, the organization evaluated the data (basic ISP source of site visits).  Result was revealing: enterprise visitors did come to the company’s site, but were more likely to bounce.  The company adjusted site messaging to appeal to enterprise prospects before advertising push.

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The presentation also addressed marketers’ concern that too much content was required for ABM; it is not entirely true.  Image above is an example of using the same asset (the same white paper), with different description targeted to four different companies.

The result: 200% increase in white paper downloads.

Hot topic of the conference – AI.  Ron’s session “Blowing Past the Buzzword of AI” put the topic into perspective.

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AI is not a “rules engine” or an algorithm, though it is a fantastic buzzword and an excellent excuse for funding.

AI is not a “thing” – it is a collection of things – AI is an “enabler.”

However, AI has requirements of constant data feed to be effective.

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Marketers also need to have a strategy how to feed enough data into their AI aps.  Now we are at the day one of a multi-year run.

We need to go to basics:

  • what is our strategy?
  • what are we trying to do?

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One of the AI application (or, rather, Intelligent Augmentation) mentioned during another session of the event was chat bots.

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Though targeted currently to b-to-c marketers, chat bots are “trained” to connect to the database and answer or even anticipate questions from the user.  Oracle representatives demonstrated an interface allowing to “instruct” chat bots to recognize topics accurately by correcting initial topic “guess” done by the system.

A few more curious points from the event:

  • “Content cul-de-sac” – opened PDF… and now what?
  • “Innovation is creating the best possible match between a solution and a problem (context: using analog experience as part of overall customer experience even if “printed brochure” is not as popular in the industry 🙂
  • Medtronic: achieved a significant improvement in lead conversion when samples (or printed materials) were sent to the target audience.  Target audience were nurses, who did not spend their day in front of the computer.
  • Medtronic: experience matters; physical experience matters more.  Sales can say: “What do you think about the […] we sent you?”
  • Video can be used throughout an entire customer journey, and creates lift in engagement and conversion.  However, it is not practical to use video everywhere.
  • Video case study: account managers recorded personal videos for the accounts they support.  “Hi, I am an account manager…  how can I help you get started?”  Videos have been sent to companies – customers of BrightCove; target audience – people who may be unaware that their organization was a BrightCove customer.  Emails used to deliver the video link received 200% total open rate!
  • Starting points for a video: website!  Gated product demos is #1 conversion point.  Then, customer testimonials is a popular and useful application for video content.
  • Video-focused question: what do I already do and can be converted to the video to be used in the future?
  • YouTube channel: “video retirement home.”  Keep viewers on your site!
  • People are more likely to watch 3 one-minute videos rather than one three-minute video.  Chapters help!
  • What is the biggest barrier for adoption in a large corp – not tech!  Make sure stakeholders are OK, understand who all stakeholders are to make progress.  It helps to have a video champion.
  • DXP – digital experience platform
  • New European privacy regulations are coming in 2018 http://info.mimecast.com/gdpr-prepare.html
  • Test and pilot – opportunity cost is too high to wait for perfection!
  • Transformation tips: break down large projects and make them available to somebody to get quick feedback
  • “Customer experience is a journey, not a destination”
  • What we could have been done better?  Would have started digital education of executives earlier…
  • Organizational challenge: how silo’s owners can be motivated to work across silos..
  • “Data is not a department – data needs to be everyone’s job…”
  • If the person “qualifies” to be nurtured in two topics, which one is first?  This is a business decisions – the topic that makes more sense for the company.
  • B-to-c email list grow: “give people something, usually a coupon…”