Archive for the ‘technology’ Tag

Is too much reliance on Marketing Automation a danger?

I recently read this article by Omar Akhtar on “The case against too much marketing automation” and it got me thinking. Although I am a firm believer in marketing automation, here are several points here where I agree. I am inundated daily from vendors trying to sell me the next best thing in identifying web visitors, automated what content people see based on digital footprint, augmenting my database; the list goes on and on. And some of these do intrigue me. But I do question their actual effectiveness.

I’ve been using marketing automation for over a decade now and I’m a believer. My very small team executes more programs and campaigns than I could ever dream of twenty years ago when I first started in marketing. But nothing replaces actually spending time with your prospects and customers. You need to know what drives them. What are their challenges, fears, hopes and dreams. And then how can you fit into their reality. You will never get this from any type of marketing automation.

You need to spend time with your customers. You need to talk to them. Do this whenever you can – at tradeshows and conferences, customer visits, industry events. Whenever you get a chance. How else will you learn about them – what truly drives them? And how else will you see if your value props and messaging resonates?

face to face

So I’m a firm believer in marketing automation but I also don’t see it as a panacea that solves all your marketing needs. And thank God for that or I’d be out of a job! You need to get face-to-face and talk. There is no automation or replacement for that.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Marketing at the Big Table

Just yesterday, I talked about a marketing management paradigm I found interesting – and potentially very useful. And today, I finally got around to reading “How to Think Like a Modern CMO.” Another great article on the changing needs and responsibilities of leading a marketing team in today’s hyper-active marketplace. Change is coming quickly and much of it requires being savvy in both technology and leadership.

From the article, this quote rings especially true with me and my organization:

“CMOs have to be both analytical and adaptable, rolling and thriving with continuous change. It’s an interesting combination of left brain and right brain characteristics, where creativity is absolutely essential to see around corners, data analysis is required to make decisions, and execution is needed to deliver actual results.”

Personally, I love this. I have a background in engineering so I really get the technology and metrics angle. I’m not nearly as strong on the “traditional” marketing areas highlighted by Mad Men. But I usually can hold my own in that arena. So I love the challenge involved.

But what really interests me is the thought that the CMO (re: marketing) is becoming more important to the success of an organization. This is not so new to consumer brands. But it is in the B2B world, especially in the tech sector where engineering or sales has long ruled.

My company is very progressive in pulling marketing in early and often. And we have a seat at the table – the monthly executive board meeting that all companies have in some shape or form. Marketing in B2B on the rise. Get ready to get caught up in the tide.

 

Marketing Management – Enable both Innovation and Optimization

I recently read the article “The 4 quadrants of marketing management, a 2×2 model” by Scott Brinker. I found it a very interesting read.

Overall, I like this model. It’s simple yet flexible. You can customize the “marketing subdisciplines” to fit your organization or experience. And the 2×2 axis appeals to the engineer in me. 🙂4 Quadrants of Marketing Management

Perhaps my favorite quote from Scott is:

“Both are important to a healthy and sustainable business. Optimization without innovation is myopia. Innovation without optimization is the organizational equivalent of ADHD.” 

I can see uses for the model from both an organizational management perspective:

  • Where are we strong/weak?
  • Where do we need to hire?

To a personal growth perspective:

  • What are my strengths/weaknesses?
  • What do I need to learn/improve to move to another level?

You may even be able to use it to compare your team to a competitor – if you can get their information somehow. I’ll have to put more thought into that one.

At the end of this article, Scott mentions that he is still working on this model – and would love feedback/input. I’m putting some thought into my feedback (other than my quick thoughts above). And I may provide the feedback in person. He may have talked me into attending the upcoming MarTech conference he is chairing this summer!

2014 B2B Marketing budgets set to rise

Forrester Research has released it’s latest survey results on the state of B2B Marketing budgets. Good news is that the investment in marketing is expected to rise 6% this year. Bad news is that, after the recession, it still only gets budgets back up to 4% of company revenues. Pre-recession levels were often cited at 7% or higher. So still some ground to make up.

Forrester notes an increase in spending particularly on technology (read as marketing automation). In order to justify the higher budgets, marketeers are having to prove return on investment. I’m surprised it is taking this long to get there. I remember being pressed for numbers and ROI at least ten years ago. And that was when the marketing automation platforms weren’t as robust as they are today!

B2B 2014 Marketing budget investments

Source: Forrester Research

One other item from this report – how people expect to use their marketing budgets. Here’s a nice pie chart with a breakout of the responses. It is interesting to see how, with all the noise around digital, email and inbound, in-person events remains a very significant piece of the pie. Guess that shows that there is no substitute for face-to-face!

Here at Mercury Systems, our fiscal year runs June through July. I’ll be interested in taking our FY15 budget and seeing how we match up to the rest of the industry – in both size of budget and how we invest it.

Marketing and IT expertise

The latest issue of B2B Magazine has an interesting article entitled In-demand tech experts find new home in marketing. It’s interesting to see how some companies are combining traditional Marketing Operations and IT roles to better support the critical systems many marketing teams now rely on – usually very heavily. In my experience, I would NEVER implement a marketing automation solution without having a solid marketing ops person to support it. And at the companies I’ve worked at that used marketing automation, I also saw much better success when there was a dedicated IT resource(s) to support marketing needs. The third leg is a strong connection with the Sales Ops team as marketing automation and CRM systems have to be intimately intertwined.

For those of you not familiar with the Marketing Ops function, this article from a few years ago still does a good job of explaining the function. Plus, I like their graphic:

Marketing Ops, a comprehensive discipline that leverages technology, process and metrics.  Courtesy of Marketing Operations Partners.

One area where I’ve particularly found the need for Marketing Ops/IT teaming is in metrics. In many organizations, without IT help, you can not reach into key systems to get the reporting you may want. Systems such as financial, ERP, order management, customer service and more often reside with those groups. Unless you have an enterprise data warehouse, you need help querying those systems. And even with a warehouse, you still need expertise to query that. So a solid teaming of Marketing Ops, Sales Ops and IT works to make all teams more successful.

As and aside, as I’m writing this, the marketing ops person on my team is at Eloqua Experience 2012 – Eloqua’s annual user conference – staying plugged into the latest best practices. Even though we didn’t win the Markie award, I will still give them a plug.  : )

 

What’s in a Lead Gen team

Catching up on some reading. From the May 2012 B2B Magazine, there was an interesting article by Debbie Qaqish from Pedowitz Group.

I heard her speak last year at Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Summit in Boston and was impressed. And, in general, I like what she spells out in this article. The only problem is, if you are a small or medium sized business, there is no way you are going to have this many people in lead gen – let alone the whole marketing department! So how do you prioritize the roles? Here’s my take.

Firstly, you need to get to where you use some sort of marketing automation (MA) system. Nowadays, you can get low-end SaaS versions for very reasonable investments (notice my use of that word – investment, not a cost). This must be treated as an investment and you need to get a good return on it. I have several previous blog posts on both marketing automation and metrics if you are looking for more info.

If you have a MA solution, one of the top roles you need is, as Debbie phrased it, a “power user/marketing technologist.” If you are leveraging one of the SaaS solutions that has a more intuitive user interface, you need someone who is more on the power user side and less a technologist. This helps you not need the Marketing Ops person – yet. You can leverage your vendor for tech support when needed.

Another position Debbie mentions that I would have high on my list of “must-have’s” is the content manager. And this doesn’t have to be a marketing position. In fact, I would say this position in many SMBs is held jointly by many people – at least on the content creation side. It is nice to have someone who manages the strategy of what is needed and helps drive the creation process. Without quality content, your marketing efforts through your automation system and social media will be anemic.

The other position that Debbie mentions that I find critical at many points in a company’s growth is the “telequalifying role.” Even with MA, you can’t short-change the human touch. An actual conversation with a prospect gets you the chance to get into a conversation, open the door and possibly find the pain the customer may be experiencing.

Email Marketing in 2012

So I’ve had a couple of interviews with B2B Magazine lately. The first was on the topic of social media. And the latest was on email marketing. Because of that latter article, I have been approached by a reporter at MarketingSherpa, probably the hotbed of leading-edge marketing intelligence, for a deep dive case study. And I’m pretty impressed by that.

I’ve been on the cutting edge of B2B marketing for 20 years now and I think I’m pretty much an expert. Even when I was at the MarketingSherpa B2B summit conference last fall, I listened to many of the speakers and participants and felt like “been there, done that.” To the point where I was critiquing the advice from the “expert” speakers at the B2B events.

As someone who has lived his marketing life in the trenches having to deliver results to both sales and the company (meaning revenue), I feel pretty confident in my abilities and look forward to talking to this reporter from MarketingSherpa.

Going Old School

Like many other marketing people, over the past month, I’ve been planning my next activities for the first half of 2012. I work in an industry of rapid technological change and, as much as I like to plan for at least a year, often many of my plans are three- to six-month campaigns. Branding and longer-term messaging I can plan for a year or more but lead generation is usually two quarters out at best. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

For my upcoming campaigns, among the mix is a revival of some marketing old school techniques. In particular, direct mail. Email has become less and less effective. Open rates are sliding lower and click thrus are even worse. Some of my more targeted emails are very effective. But I need to generate more interest than those tactics provide. I segment my audience based on personas. I try a couple of different subject lines and email content. But I am running into several issues. Primary among them are:

    • Just TOO much email – everyone’s inbox is overloaded. We all know the noise.
    • Email not getting delivered – particularly acute in my industry, aerospace & defense, where prime contractors’ servers are blocking a lot of mass generated email.
direct mail marketing

So our marketing group is working with our sales team to develop comprehensive campaign that will involve direct mail. We are targeting by job role and company and will be doing something high-end (dimensional) for our top persona.

Going old school. Despite the cheerleaders around inbound marketing, as someone with a need to create demand for my sales team and a limited budget, I don’t ignore any channel that can do this effectively. I’ll be doing inbound, social, email, content, video, events – almost any other tactic you can think of. But I’ll be throwing direct mail back into the mix this year.

Marketing Automation updates

The latest issue (November 7) of B2B Magazine has a couple of interesting articles on Marketing Automation. The first, “Lack of Resources Impedes Marketing Automation Adoption,” reports on the results of a survey conducted in August and September. The survey was conducted by B2B and Aprimo, a supplier of a marketing automation solution. So the highlights are:

  • only 44% of b2b marketers have implemented some sort of automation
  • a scary 11% are not aware of marketing automation
11%? Really? What, do you live under a rock? But maybe the 11% just didn’t understand what was meant by marketing automation. Still, that is a rather high percentage considering how long these systems have been around.
Of the 44% of “users,” here’s some interesting findings:
  • 52% use it for automatic distribution of leads
  • 19% leveraging more advanced features such as lead nurturing programs, closed-loop automation (not really sure what they mean by that) and sales/marketing alignment

An interesting part of the article quotes Jeff Ernst, an analyst at Forrester, who says that “full-featured” automation is only being used by about 5% of b2b marketers. Since the survey had a relatively low 276 respondents who likely are B2B magazine readers and more engaged in this area, I believe Mr. Ernst may be closer to the true number. I would be interested in people’s thoughts on this.

As a side note, a little over a year ago, I wrote a blog article on “Evaluating Marketing Automation vendors.” I’m thinking it may be worth re-visiting that article and updating it. There are several new and impressive vendors in this space.

The second article in the issue is “Marketing Automation Requires Buy-In to a Different Way of Thinking.” This article covers some important things to know about implementing marketing automation and the changes/benefits it can deliver.

Both of these articles are worth the read.

Embrace Rogue IT

My technical background keeps me interested (though not always involved) in IT issues. Like most “consumers” of IT services, I always think about what I can do in the consumer market and compare it to the ancient technology most companies provide. I fully understand the pressures most, if not all, IT departments are under. They face daunting and often contradictory demands.

Working in the Defense industry, security is a paramount concern. That being said, I found this article in CIO magazine enlightening. It talks about how people will use new technology no matter what IT tries to do. And that can cause some serious organizational problems. But IT can’t stick there head in the sand – like they do at my company. You are missing the boat.

http://www.cio.com/article/688906/What_CIOs_Should_Do_About_Rogue_IT

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