social media marketing

Need to Engage and Connect With Prospects and Customers? Marketing Automation to the Rescue (Maybe)

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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 Imagecampaigns (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:

• Connections
• Conversations
• Engagement
• Consideration

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.

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Measuring the Value Social Marketing and Media

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Hardly a week goes by when you don’t read or hear about social marketing or social media, the terms social marketing and social media are frequently used so it’s probably a good idea to define what we mean by these two terms.

Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s. Philip Kotler & Gerald Zaltman, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, in 1971, used the term to describe the application of commercial marketing principles to health, social and quality of life issues.

Social marketing was defined as “seeking to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” It leverages the value that consumers/customers have in sharing between themselves and with the brand/manufacturer. It delivers a two-way communication link between the consumer/customer and the brand.

While social marketing was originally developed from the desire companies had to capitalize on commercial marketing techniques, it has evolved into a more integrative and comprehensive discipline that draws on a wide array of technology, from the traditional media to new media referred to as “social media.” These social media are comprised primarily of Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information such as viral videos, blogs, online reviews, etc. to help the company build its business.

While your website provides customers and visitors with information about your company and its products and you use the Internet to enhance your reach through things such as pay per click, webinars, and search; social media is about leveraging relationships and networks. It complements other online and offline marketing initiatives. Social media and marketing doesn’t replace other media, just as radio didn’t replace newspaper and television didn’t replace radio. Rather, social media are another part of your multi-channel marketing efforts.

And as with any form of communication, people’s attention spans are short and they are easily and quickly distracted. Therefore, just like any other effort, a singular strike may not be enough. When you decide to leverage social media you need to deploy it consistently over time.

eMarketer estimates that social network ad spending will be $1.3 billion in 2009. As more and more companies invest resources into social media and marketing it’s natural to bring to question how to measure the value of this investment. As with any initiative, you can measure the impact of a social media effort only after you’ve determined the business outcome it supports and established performance-based objectives.

For example possible objectives could include increasing customer trial, improving brand advocacy/customer loyalty or increasing share of preference. Each of these objectives should be tied to a business outcome. For example increasing customer trial or share of preference may be tied to business outcomes around new customer acquisition or accelerating the rate of customer acquisition in order to impact revenue and market share.

The metrics you choose for your social media will be determined after you’ve established the business outcome that needs to be achieved and how the social media will support the corresponding marketing objective.

Just as with any communication channel you will want to have some way to create a measurement framework. One possible approach is to measure your social media similar to how you measure public relations (PR) using outputs, outcomes and business results as the basis of your framework.

Why choose a framework similar to one used for PR? If you review the purpose of each you can see they are actually kissing cousins.

Public relations is about attempting to favorably influence the impressions and attitudes of a target audience primarily through endorsements (published articles, reports, reviews, etc) by trusted, credible, objective third parties. Social media isn’t very far afield from this idea when you consider that social media is designed to impact engagement and affect influence through the participation and interaction of third party networks and communities. They both rely on perceived trusted and credible third parties over which you have very little control.

How do you use the outputs, outcomes and business results framework? First let’s define each category because each category measures something different:

1. Outputs – measure effectiveness and efficiency, such as was the campaign cost-effective in terms of the number of positive reviews produced by community influencers or the number of people engaged in a blog discussion on a topic related to your category that includes positive mentions of your company and its product.

2. Outcomes – measures changes, preferably behavioral, resulting from the program/campaign/activity. For example this could be the quantifiable change in the number of positive reviews for your company’s recently launched new product.
3. Business results – measure how the program/campaign/activity helped the organization achieve a specific business objective. For example, the rate of adoption for your company’s new product that is what was the incremental lift in sales for the product as a result of the social media.

The more quantitatively you can measure your social media the better. And its even better the closer those measurements relate to your business outcomes. How rapidly people in the network engage with you and respond to your “call to action” such as write a review, participate in the blog discussion, or forward something to a colleague can all be measured.

What you want to know is whether the social media efforts are having any incremental impact and if so how much so you can assess return on investment. Remember to keep the business outcome in mind, for example such as seeing an increase in the number of people “trialing” your product in order to increase the number of qualified leads in the pipeline and ultimately increase the number of “buyers”.

So even if the social media is producing a good return in terms of its specific metric, if it isn’t moving the needle on the business outcome, then more than likely you need to revisit your effort.

Measuring the Value of Social Marketing and Media

Posted on

Hardly a week goes by when you don’t read or hear about social marketing or social media, the terms social marketing and social media are frequently used so it’s probably a good idea to define what we mean by these two terms.

Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s. Philip Kotler & Gerald Zaltman, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, in 1971, used the term to describe the application of commercial marketing principles to health, social and quality of life issues.

Social marketing was defined as “seeking to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” It leverages the value that consumers/customers have in sharing between themselves and with the brand/manufacturer. It delivers a two-way communication link between the consumer/customer and the brand.

While social marketing was originally developed from the desire companies had to capitalize on commercial marketing techniques, it has evolved into a more integrative and comprehensive discipline that draws on a wide array of technology, from the traditional media to new media referred to as “social media.” These social media are comprised primarily of Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information such as viral videos, blogs, online reviews, etc. to help the
company build its business.

While your website provides customers and visitors with information about your company and its products and you use the Internet to enhance your reach through things such as pay per click, webinars, and search; social media is about leveraging relationships and networks. It complements other online and offline marketing initiatives. Social media and marketing doesn’t replace other media, just as radio didn’t replace newspaper and television didn’t replace radio.
Rather, social media are another part of your multi-channel marketing efforts.

And as with any form of communication, people’s attention spans are short and they are easily and quickly distracted. Therefore, just like any other effort, a singular strike may not be enough. When you decide to leverage social media you need to deploy it consistently over time.

eMarketer estimates that social network ad spending will be $1.3 billion in 2009. As more and more companies invest resources into social media and marketing it’s natural to bring to questionhow to measure the value of this investment. As with any initiative, you can measure the impact of a social media effort only after you’ve determined the business outcome it supports and established performance-based objectives.

For example possible objectives could include increasing customer trial, improving brand advocacy/customer loyalty or increasing share of preference. Each of these objectives should be tied to a business outcome. For example increasing customer trial or share of preference may be tied to business outcomes around new customer acquisition or accelerating the rate of customer acquisition in order to impact revenue and market share.

The metrics you choose for your social media will be determined after you’ve established the business outcome that needs to be achieved and how the social media will support the corresponding marketing objective.

Just as with any communication channel you will want to have some way to create a measurement framework. One possible approach is to measure your social media similar to how you measure public relations (PR) using outputs, outcomes and business results as the basis of your framework.

Why choose a framework similar to one used for PR? If you review the purpose of each you can see they are actually kissing cousins.

Public relations is about attempting to favorably influence the impressions and attitudes of a target audience primarily through endorsements (published articles, reports, reviews, etc) by trusted, credible, objective third parties. Social media isn’t very far afield from this idea when you consider that social media is designed to impact engagement and affect influence through the participation and interaction of third party networks and communities. They both rely on perceived trusted and credible third parties over which you have very little control.

How do you use the outputs, outcomes and business results framework? First let’s define each
category because each category measures something different:
1. Outputs – measure effectiveness and efficiency, such as was the campaign cost-effective in terms of the number of positive reviews produced by community influencers or the number of people engaged in a blog discussion on a topic related to your category that includes positive mentions of your company and its product.
2. Outcomes – measures changes, preferably behavioral, resulting from the program/campaign/activity. For example this could be the quantifiable change in the number of positive reviews for your company’s recently launched new product.
3. Business results – measure how the program/campaign/activity helped the organization achieve a specific business objective. For example, the rate of adoption for your company’s new product that is what was the incremental lift in sales for the product as a result of the social media.

The more quantitatively you can measure your social media the better. And its even better the closer those measurements relate to your business outcomes. How rapidly people in the network engage with you and respond to your “call to action” such as write a review, participate in the blog discussion, or forward something to a colleague can all be measured.

What you want to know is whether the social media efforts are having any incremental impact and if so how much so you can assess return on investment. Remember to keep the business outcome in mind, for example such as seeing an increase in the number of people “trialing” your product in order to increase the number of qualified leads in the pipeline and ultimately increase the number of “buyers”.

So even if the social media is producing a good return in terms of its specific metric, if it isn’t moving the needle on the business outcome, then more than likely you need to revisit your effort.