None of us would agree to play a card game with cards missing from the deck; we would know that the odds of winning would be significantly diminished. Yet surprisingly, many marketers are willing to implement marketing programs sans analytics.
In the past few weeks I have attended several marketing conferences. At each event, marketers are talking enthusiastically about how to make Web sites, SEO, social media, email campaigns, and mobile better. However, there is very little conversation about how to be smarter. Analytics is an essential card — actually an ace — in every marketer’s deck for enabling fact-based decisions and improving performance, and most importantly, for being smarter.
While the ace alone has value, when played with other cards its power is truly revealed. And when it comes to analytics, the other card is data. Yes — we have all heard the common complaint about the elusiveness of quality data. Unfortunately, data quality has been an issue in organizations for so long that it has now become the ready excuse for why marketers cannot perform analytics. To harness the power of your analytics card, identify your data issues and create a plan to address them.
Another reason that you may overlook this missing card in your deck is that guessing or gut instinct has been working well enough. Unfortunately, this approach may not suffice in the long-term and your “luck” may run out as organizations push to make “smart” decisions. As marketers, analytics is our opportunity to actively contribute to fact-based decisions. Through analytics, marketers achieve new insights about customers, markets, products, channels, and marketing strategy, programs and mix. It also enables marketing to help improve performance, competitiveness, and market and revenue growth.
As the importance of analytics gains momentum, marketers with analytical acumen will be in great demand. According to some resources, the complexities of data analysis and management are becoming so enormous that there is a shortage of people who are able to conduct analysis and present the results as actionable information. Taking the initiative and honing your analytical capabilities will enable you to make sure you have this ace in the deck — and preferably, in your hand.
Most of us are already working with a time and resource deficit. Try to find a way each quarter to bolster you analytical skills. Attend a conference, read a book, take a class, and bring in experts you can learn from. Here are some key analytical concepts and skills to add:
· Quantitative Decision Analysis
· Data Management
· Data Modeling
· Industry and Competitive Analysis
· Statistical Analysis
· Predictive Analytics and Models
· Marketing Measurement and Dashboard
If you can build your analytics strength, you’ll always have an ace in your pocket.
This entry was posted in Alignment, Analytics, marketing, Marketing Accountability, Marketing and Sales Alignment, marketing automation software, Marketing Dashboards, Marketing Measurement, Marketing Performance, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Trends and tagged accountability, Analytics, B2B Marketing, data, Marketing, marketing analytics, marketing and sales alignment, marketing dashboards, Marketing Effectiveness, marketing metrics, marketing operations, Marketing Performance, marketing performance measurement, marketing plan, marketing processes, Metrics, performance management, sales and marketing, strategic marketing, VisionEdge Marketing.
Numerous studies throughout 2012 reiterated just how challenged marketers are in proving
Marketing’s business value.
The Capsicum Report found that “Marketers lack commercial acumen and don’t speak the language of the business, reporting their contributions in terms of ‘activities’ or ‘outputs’ rather than the business key performance indicators.”
The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that “the CMO’s traditional dilemma of demonstrating effectiveness, return on marketing investment, and relevance to the business still persists.”
The Forrester Evolved CMO study stated that “to prove their value and justify investment, they (CMOs) must tie marketing closer to business results.”
The 11th annual marketing performance management study conducted by VisionEdge Marketing and ITSMA reported a continuing trend of the C-Suite’s perception that only about 25% of marketers are able to demonstrate their impact and contribution to the business.
Some marketers, though, are cracking the code, and we can learn lessons from them as we work to power up our marketing.
One of the key differences about the stellar performers is that these marketers view and present themselves as businesspeople first. This elite group is customer-centric above all else, and it’s driven to transforming or establishing Marketing as a center of excellence within the organization.
These marketers work at ensuring that Marketing focuses on producing results that matter to the business, particularly in customer acquisition, retention, and value, and they are able to communicate those contributions in ways that are relevant to the C-Suite.
These marketers consistently apply five best-practices:
1. Aligning marketing activities and investments with business outcomes
2. Developing outcome-based metrics and reporting capabilities to demonstrate their
3. Employing and developing analytical skills
4. Investing in the infrastructure, processes, and systems to support their work
5. Building collaborative alliances with Finance, IT, and Sales colleagues.
They also recognize that deploying those best-practices is only part of the equation for boosting their performance and measurement competencies. They realize that playing a more strategic role takes added muscle, which they build by…
- Embracing strong talent, balancing creativity with science derived from valuable customer and market insights
- Emphasizing innovation for all aspects of marketing—related to strategy, implementation, processes, and so on.
Every organization can benefit from adding such power and muscle to their marketing team:
Take a look at the most recent 2013 Marketing Performance Management Report: Executive Summary (FREE DOWNLOAD) or Purchase the Full Report at the VisionEdge Marketing Online Store!
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Why is it marketers become so quickly enamored with the next shiny toy? And at what cost? What do I mean by “the next shiny toy”? For many marketers, the first new shiny toy came in the mid-’90s with the creation of websites. And even though email (initially known as electronic mail) started its humble beginnings in 1969, it wasn’t until the ’90s that it became a pervasive marketing channel.
In addition to email, marketers chased another new shiny toy: Internet marketing. In 1994, zero dollars were spent on Internet advertising. By 1996, US companies had invested $301 million in Internet marketing, primarily in the form of banner ads and attempts to transform other offline advertising concepts to the Internet. We weren’t content, and before we figured out how to strategically use our new toys, we charged off into new territory.
In 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed what would become the most popular search engine, Google, and marketers couldn’t wait to get their hands on this next shiny toy: search engine optimization and pay-per-click (PPC).
In 1997, Jorn Barger coined the term “weblogs,” and marketing had another new vehicle for reaching customers.
In less than a decade, marketers had led their organizations into new channels—without having mastered any of them.
Still, we couldn’t help ourselves when 2001 ushered in the next shiny toy: Web 2.0, which facilitated online collaboration. MySpace entered the market is 2003 as the next shiny toy officially emerged: social media. With the ability to move beyond HTML to rich user interfaces, Flickr came on to the scene, followed by Google’s G-mail and the inauguration of Digg. Marketers experimented with and pursued social media to the fullest extent of their abilities. While we dabbled, mobile marketing hit the scene in 2001. And while we talked the talk, SMS technology didn’t become widely used until mid-2008.
Our appetites for the new shiny stuff seem insatiable.
This article isn’t meant to be “marketing media in review.” Its purpose is to demonstrate that marketers tend to race headlong, hell-bent after the next shiny toy. But at what price? I’d suggest at the price of our credibility and the opportunity to be perceived as a strategic player.
Chasing the next new thing potentially portrays us as tactically opportunistic. If we want to be accepted as members of the strategic team, we have to exercise strategic discipline. That means we need to be concerned with making decisions that affect the direction of the organization and not just add a new toy in the box.
When our enthusiasm (or that of our colleagues) convinces an organization to experiment with the next shiny toy without understanding the strategic implications, as marketers we are doing a disservice to the organizations we support and we’re presenting marketing as a primarily tactical function.
So, am I suggesting we stop chasing the next shiny toy? No. But before we do, we should understand the strategic context and implications of doing so. Perhaps before we leap, we need to master the toys we’ve already acquired. Yes, our competitors may start using the next shiny toy first, but the misuse of a new shiny toy can be far more damaging.
Here are five things to consider before taking the plunge that will, at least, help you appear more strategic in your deployment of a shiny new toy:
- Customer and market demand. Have the customers you want to connect with and engage adopted the new channel, or are you getting ahead of them? Being first on the block may be irrelevant if the markets you serve or want to serve aren’t ready. The timing of deploying a new channel should be based on how stable it is and how familiar and comfortable people are with using it.
- Skill level. Do you and your people have the skills to successfully implement and use the new toy? If a successful implementation requires complex new skills, and if it is too time-consuming or costly to acquire that level of competence, it may be too soon for your organization to tackle the new channel.
- Payoff. New channels have a steep learning curve and are costly. The adoption of a new channel may require configuring systems, upgrading technology, or even adding new systems and training employees. Before you embrace the new shiny toy, develop and present the business case that assures your leadership team that the investment will pay off.
- Vehicle stability. Are the standards for the new channel or technology stable? The value of a new channel or technology increases once the standard of use is established. Otherwise, you may be in for a lot of rework—and that means time and money.
- Critical mass. One of the reasons new channels and technologies risk our credibility is that they often have relatively poor performance in their initial incarnations. A key strategic factor to consider before deciding to adopt a new channel or technology is whether there are enough suppliers in the market to make the adoption easy, cost-effective, and user-friendly.
We’ve all seen how enamored children are with new toys. And we’ve also seen just how easily and quickly they can discard what was once so treasured and coveted. So although the new toy beckons, be sure you have the answers to those five questions before engaging in the chase.
This entry was posted in Alignment, Customer Centricity, Marketing Accountability, Marketing and Sales Alignment, Marketing Effectiveness, Marketing Management, Marketing Performance, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Trends, Product Marketing, social media, Uncategorized and tagged Analytics, attention span, Big Data, brand marketing, data, google, management, Marketing, marketing metrics, marketing operations, marketing optimization, Marketing Performance, marketing performance management, marketing plan, marketing ROI, marketing trends, media, Metrics, new toy, performance management, sales and marketing, sales management, shiny toy, social engagement, social media, social trends, strategic marketing.
Today, a suitable marketing automation platform is available to meet just about any company’s requirements and budget. These platforms often include systems for managing digital assets, allocating resources and tracking marketing expenditures, automating campaigns (online and offline), measuring marketing activity and demand generation, and managing Web content and leads.Many companies invest in marketing automation platforms as a way to make their marketing organizations more efficient. Though marketing automation can achieve that objective, two key benefits of these systems is that they help you connect better with prospects and improve the opportunity to engage prospects and customers.
What Marketing Automation Isn’t
Marketing automation isn’t magic. Success requires taking a methodical and disciplined
approach to segmenting, defining the customer-buying process, establishing agreed-upon
definitions of stages, creating personas, establishing common metrics, and committing to
faithfully using the system
.Marketing automation allows you to tailor your content and interactions to enhance how you connect with and engage prospects and customers. As a result, you can positively affect the conversion rate and sales cycle. And, in these tough times, who wouldn’t want to see higher and faster conversions?
Take a Customer-Centric Approach to Configuration
Such benefits alone present a good business case for marketing automation. But for a system to “be all that it can be,” it must be properly configured and deployed. Proper configuration and alignment require and enable stronger alignment between Sales and Marketing.
Many companies configure their systems around how they might sell and evaluate an opportunity (e.g., whether they’ve identified a budget, project, or need). However, before you deploy, take an outside-in view and configure the system around how your customer finds, evaluates, selects, and buys products in your category.
For your investment and that approach to pay off, Sales and Marketing need to agree on how the customer buys, the buying stages, and what constitutes a qualified opportunity, in terms of both fit (segment, budget, size, etc.) and buying behaviors. This approach allows you to use fit and behavior to create a lead-scoring schema.
Create and Measure Four Customer Interactions
Marketing and sales teams are typically proficient in connecting at the beginning and end of the conversation, but the real challenge is managing the middle of the conversation. The middle conversation is when prospects and customers are in the “in-between”—between initial contact and interest, on the one hand, and the short list and final selection, on the other.
A properly configured and deployed marketing automation system enables you to manage the middle. How? It makes it possible to cost-effectively sustain a dialogue with qualified
opportunities until they are ready to buy while enabling you to monitor the interaction between those opportunities and your organization.
You’ll want to set performance targets for these four kinds of interactions, and then use your marketing automation system to create, measure, and monitor them:
Think of connections as those contacts with whom you have established communication and rapport and who have agreed to be “touched” by your organization. A connection doesn’t necessarily result in a conversation. Connections are just that: two entities that have a link between them.Think of how many people you may have in your LinkedIn network that you are connected with but don’t necessarily have conversations with. Conversations suggest an exchange—the sharing of ideas, opinions, or observations. Consider how many people you “talk” with on a variety of 3 topics on any given day. Though some of those people might be interesting, they may not necessarily be the right people—or they may not be ready to move the relationship forward.
Ultimately your marketing efforts aim to create engagement, and you want your marketing automation system to support those efforts. Engagement consists of interactions that indicate the strength of the relationship.
Finally, you want to produce and measure consideration because it is the precursor to conversion. Consideration simply refers to those prospects and customers who are actively “shopping” for the products and services you offer and are considering your offer among the options.
If You Build It, They Will Come
The premise of marketing automation is that it will help Marketing increase the number of
business opportunities for your company, deliver sales-worthy and ready leads to Sales, improve your visibility into the pipeline, and enable your marketing organization to focus on efforts that will drive the highest conversion rate and the lowest cost.
The value proposition is that marketing automation will shorten your sales cycle and help
improve your forecast accuracy.And it’s all possible with this one caveat: Marketing automation is only as good as the effort you make in using it. To use it properly and realize the kinds of results you want will likely require changing processes, addressing Marketing and Sales alignment, and improving skills.
Research suggests that when marketing and sales processes, skills, and systems are aligned, an organization can see a five-fold improvement in revenue. If you are willing to make the necessary investments, you can realize the benefits of implementing a marketing automation platform.
This entry was posted in Alignment, Marketing Accountability, Marketing and Sales Alignment, marketing automation, marketing automation software, Marketing Effectiveness, Marketing Management, Marketing Measurement, Marketing Performance, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Trends, Pipeline Metrics, Product Marketing, social media, Uncategorized and tagged Analytics, Automation, brand marketing, CIO, CMO, COO, customer centric, customer centricity, customer engagement, lead generation, marketers, Marketing, marketing analytics, marketing automation, marketing automation software, marketing management, marketing metrics, marketing performance management, Metrics, product marketing, sales, sales alignment, sales and marketing, sales management, social media, social media marketing.
By: Laura Patterson, President
The amount of data being generated is expanding at rapid logarithmic rates. Every day, customers and consumers are creating quintillions of bytes of data due to the growing number of customer contact channels. Some sources suggest that 90% of the world’s customer data has been created and stored since 2010. The vast majority of this data is unstructured data.
It is not surprising, then, that study after study shows that the majority of marketers struggle with mining and analyzing this data in order to derive valuable insights and actionable intelligence. A recent report by EMC found that only 38% of business intelligence analysts and data scientists strongly agree that their company uses data to learn more about customers. As marketers we need to learn how to leverage and optimize this flood of data and incorporate it into customer models we can use to predict what customers want.
Many marketing questions require being able to perform robust analytics on this data. For example, understanding what mix of channels are driving sales for a particular product or in a particular customer set or what sequence of channels is most effective. These types of questions often require large sets of data, or what is being referred to as Big Data.
Big Data isn’t new; it’s just gone mainstream. A recent study found that almost half (49%) of US data aggregation leaders defined Big Data as an aggregate of all external and internal web-based data, others defined it as the mass amounts of internal information stored and managed by an enterprise (16%) or web-based data and content businesses used for their own operations (7%).
But 21% of respondents were unsure how to best define Big Data. IDC defines big data as: ‘a new generation of technologies and architectures, designed to economically extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data, by enabling high-velocity capture, discovery, and/or analysis.’
Big Data incorporates multiple data sets—customer data, competitive data, online data, offline data, and so forth—enabling a more holistic approach to business intelligence. Big data can include transactional data, warehoused data, metadata, and other data residing in extremely massive files. Mobile devices and social media solutions such as Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter are the newest data sources. Most companies use Big Data to monitor their own brand and that of their competitors. The use of “Big Data” has become increasingly important, especially for data-conscious marketers. Big Data is a valuable tool for marketing when it comes to strategy, product, and pricing decisions.
Big Data offers big insights and it also poses big challenges. A recent study by Connotate found the top challenge with Big Data was the time and manpower required to collect and analyze it. In addition, 44% found the sheer amount of data too overwhelming for businesses to properly leverage. As a result, many companies aren’t maximizing their use of Big Data.
The effort however associated with managing Big Data is more than worth it. The promise of Big Data is more precise information and insights, improved fidelity of information and the ability to respond more accurately and quickly to dynamic situations.
How to Handle Big Data
So while Big Data might seem a bit daunting, these steps will help you navigate using Big Data:
- Clarify the question. Before you start undertaking any data collection, have a clear understanding of the question(s) you are trying to answer. Using Big Data starts with knowing what you want to analyze. By knowing what you want to focus on, you will be better able to better determine what data you need. Some common questions asked are ’which customers are the most loyal’ and/or ‘which customers are most likely to buy X‘? Big Data is about looking beyond transactional information, such as a click-through data or website activity.
- Clarify how you want to use the data. Will you be using the data for your dashboard, to define a customer target set for a specific offer or to make program element decisions (creative, channel, frequency, etc.)?
- Think beyond the initial question. Invariably the answer to one question leads to more questions. If you’re not sure, hold a brainstorming session to explore all the ways the data could be used and potential questions the answers might prompt. Structure your data in a dynamic way to allow for quick manipulation or sharing. Aggregate data structures and data cubes aid with this step. Construct your data cubes so that
they contain elements and dimensions relevant to your questions.
- Identify data sources that need to be linked. Once you identify the question and how you want to use that data you will have insight into what data you need. To run analysis 3 against data you will need to consolidate and link it. More than likely you will need to collect the data from disparate data sources in order to create a clear, concise, and actionable format. It may be necessary to invest in some new tools so you can pull and analyze data from disparate locations, centers, and channels. These tools include massively parallel processing databases, data mining grids, distributed file systems, distributed databases, and scalable storage systems.
- Organize your data. Create a data inventory so you have a good understanding of all your data points.
- Create a mock version of your data output. This is a key step to helping you determine the data sets. It will also help you with thinking about how you will convert the results into a business story.
Smart marketers use the data to tell a story that will illuminate trends and issues, forecast potential outcomes, and identify opportunities for improvement or course adjustments. They use the data to gain big insights into customer wants and needs, market and competitive trends. Tackle Big Data and tap into big insights that enable you to take advantage of market opportunities, deliver an exceptional customer experience, and give your customers the right products when, where, and at the price they want.
This entry was posted in Analytics, Marketing Measurement, Marketing Performance, Marketing Strategy, Pipeline Metrics, Uncategorized and tagged Analytics, Big Data, customer centricity, customer relationships, data, Marketing, marketing metrics, marketing operations, Marketing Performance, marketing plan, marketing ROI, measuring customer loyalty, measuring ROI, media and marketing, Metrics, performance management, performance marketing, social marketing, social media.