MOCCA DC – Marketing Operations

July 18, 2012

Marketing Operations as a B2B discipline is rapidly growing.  As one data point that supports its growth, we had our largest attendance to date for today’s MOCCA meeting in Washington DC with Andrew Gaffney and Amanda Batista of Demand Gen covering recent readership survey results on trends in marketing measurement, changes in b2b buyers, and shifts in content preferences.  Rather than rehash the survey results which are available on DemandGen’s website, here are 4 key takeaways from our hour long question and answer session that followed the presentation:

  • Content:  this area was the theme and background of DemandGen, so it was not a surprise to hear this topic come up.  We spent considerable time discussing the pros and cons of webinars, both live and recorded, and came to the conclusion they are a worthy, cost effective tactic to consider as part of the overall marketing mix.  With today’s integration in marketing automation platforms, there are more benefits reporting wise to use webinars versus in years past.  Video is also a tactic that can be repurposed toward mobile devices and non-mobile devices.  There were a few audience members who suggested that having  4 videos of 5 minutes each were more powerful than one 20 minute video and easier for a buyer to digest.

 

  •        Data Warehouse:  this is an emerging area for enterprise companies that are trying to do data manipulation and more sophisticated reporting.  B2B companies are realizing a shortcoming of their CRM systems and marketing automation systems in terms of lack of data reporting flexibility.  Thus, they are looking to front end load their systems with a data warehouse that interoperates with disparate data sets and can do sophisticated reporting through easier manipulation of data.

 

  • Mobile:  this area remains an enigma for b2b marketers (my data points extend beyond this session with the CMOs of both Cisco and Xerox confirming this same data).  Contrary to what is happening in the market, marketers are just not yet ready to think about rendering b2b campaigns in mobile, either through their marketing automation platform or through companies like Litmus Technologies.  One company mentioned it was beginning to source 15% of its lead flow (not web traffic) from mobile devices yet the majority were not optimizing campaigns or content specifically toward mobile devices.  There are likely too many other competing priorities for marketers to be focused on, thus crowding out mobile for the moment.  Everyone knows they should be doing it (like working out at a gym), but few actually do it.

 

  •        Reporting:  the majority of companies were at the early stages of connecting marketing investment to new revenue struggling with both systems as well as cultural – cultural meaning does marketing ‘source’ revenue or do they ‘influence’ revenue.  The theory models would suggest marketing does both, but not every culture absorbs that methodology.

We didn’t have time to cover it, but data and its accuracy seems to be the next hot topic for MOCCA to talk about.  What areas in marketing operations are you seeing that is hot?


CMO Changes & Challenges: Cisco, Xerox, GE

May 17, 2012

The Chief Marketing Officers from Cisco and from Xerox presented at today’s Philadelphia America Marketing Association (AMA) on “Changes and Challenges CMOs face” and I attended with about 100 others.

Much of what they said reinforced recent observations I’ve had with client and prospect companies in terms of what are executive marketing priorities.  The theme was ‘measure and be accountable but don’t be afraid to go with the gut’.  There are 3 specific areas that were covered today that are worth delving into:

  • Segmentation – There are several key questions to be asking which will later inform the content creation and/or marketing automation strategy to reach prospective customers.  Usually this step is surprisingly overlooked in prospect companies of mine where they have not done enough recent diligence to understand how their buyer buys today (not how they bought 3 years ago) and Cisco reaffirmed this position by offering up some basic questions to review such as – who is our customer?  Do we really understand what is happening in our buying cycle?  Do we understand what message resonates and why?
  • CRM/Marketing Automation – Cisco invested billions in new company acquisitions but the back end infrastructure has not kept pace.  Consequently, the nirvana of a ‘closed loop’ lead system is not yet in place where one can track inquiry to close, likely because of several instances of CRM and/or marketing automation.   A strategy in place to not only identify how to consolidate these instances but how to measure the impact is needed.
  • Experimenting – Xerox emphasized the importance of keeping 5% of their annual budget as an ‘experiment’ budget that gets used with CMO approval.  So often, prospect companies that I work with have hamstrung themselves so much, that the ‘experiment’ promise sounds really good, but executing to that is really challenging.  A good experiment bet to make right now is LinkedIn (see my prior posts here.)

GE Healthcare’s CMO who was an audience member asked how both aligned with emerging market sales efforts.  There seemed to be universal agreement that China and Russia were growth markets.  However, Cisco (and I later discovered in GE) really do not have the marketing resource today to invest in branding and campaigns in these regions, so much of the marketing is event driven marketing.  This is where the puck is headed for marketing and in business – to understand how to get to these new markets by leveraging cost effective technology that has been proven in mature markets.  This runs under the assumption that in region, campaigns are accepted in a digital format (in China for example, YouTube is not allowed/utilized in the buying process.)  This is probably an emerging opportunity for marketing to consider as they plan their campaigns to reach new prospects globally.

What have you found as your burning priorities?


Marketing Operations – MOCCA

May 2, 2012

Today’s MOCCA meeting in Washington DC covered what role marketing operations plays in B2B with a diverse set of companies and vendors.  We discussed the scope of the marketing operations role, benchmarked data from a variety of analysts, and summarized our discussion by sharing our practical operational experiences to overcome a number of challenges.

Here are 5 key takeaways from our MOCCA discussion:

•  From a pool of twenty choices, the two most popular challenges for marketing operation heads were reporting/analytics and data management.  Based on other experiences here, this did not come to me as a surprise (mainly because this is also my primary business focus area of connecting marketing investment to new revenue);  Adobe/Omniture recently said in their 2012 report that fewer than 20% of CMOs were confident in their ROI reporting ability.   As for data management, companies are constantly wrestling with data quality issues where process is king for long term resolution in this area.

• All companies acknowledged process issues across the board, though few dug into what those process issues really meant (nurturing, data quality, lead treatment, etc).  From a non-marketer viewpoint, process is less visible than a more tangible reporting/analytics and data structure for people to see, but without good process, the analytics will be in rough shape!

• There was an interesting discussion around the credibility of marketing as it relates to marketing sourced vs. marketing influenced revenue.  Some companies focused on one category or the other depending on what their culture was willing to absorb.  This is a really fundamental point that is often overlooked in the theory frameworks of tracking/trending marketing– an organization as a whole (beyond marketing) really needs to ‘buy in’ to what the definition of revenue that is ‘marketing sourced’ and/or ‘marketing influenced,’ else the marketing organization risks credibility or relevance issues if the definitions are at question.

• Social is not moving the needle enough for lead generation or is not measurable enough to quantify revenue impact at the top of the funnel.  Twitter and Facebook seem to be ‘nice to do’s’ , yet LinkedIn continues to show strong within groups where a large community can be gathered by word of mouth vs. investment.  This finding is consistent with my post here, although my finding was LinkedIn is helping both top of funnel and later in sales conversion.

• All participants struggle with the ‘HOW’ to get something implemented;  there were theory frameworks which were used as strawman, but when the rubber met the road, people had to wrap their minds on how to execute with limited resources vs. talking about great ideas and new strategies.

All in all, a very good investment of time.   What are some of your marketing operation challenges you wrestle with?


Raising Campaign Effectiveness via Mobile

January 28, 2012

There are 3 key steps in raising email campaign effectiveness via mobile devices.

Mobility is playing an increasingly important role in reaching prospective customers for companies.  Studies show and my own recent customer data indicate that 9% to 30% of web (not campaign) global views are done on mobile devices – and one would expect campaign performance to follow suit.  However, companies on the B2B side are missing strategies  to reach these mobile devices – a key question to ask is, ‘are the campaigns sent actually viewed by an end user?’  Consequently, campaigns not optimized for mobile devices may not get viewed due to poor display or performance – no conversion means no revenue and that is a conundrum to avoid.

To my surprise, some of the B2B marketing automation toolset vendors in my studies do not have a deep level of mobile capability– in fact I have found a few vendors that have no ability to check the rendering (display) of email campaigns on different platforms, different email clients, or different devices.  Consequently, what may look really great to a creative marketer may make no sense to an end user, and therefore no conversion happens!

STEP 1 – inventory how large your mobile audience is.  Tools like Litmus, polling subscribers, adding a link to your campaigns specific to a mobile version to see how it works, adding a mobile option to the subscription page, looking at your Google Analytics statistics are just a few ways to start.

Step 2 – Optimize content for the device experience– flash does not usually work on all mobile devices.  Studies show that 70% of mobile searches are within 1hr of need, compared to 1 month on the desktop. Mobile users have different priorities, operate in a different context, have more distractions and less time.  Litmus may be a good solution here as well.

Step 3 – Measure campaign performance.  Companies like ReturnPath which is more on the B2C side versus pure B2B has tools like Campaign Insight and Campaign Preview, when combined allow an end user to see which campaigns are working and why in addition to checking for rendering.

There are other strategies that can augment mobile devices such as an SMS strategy, though that kind of advertising is specific to a mobile phone vs. a tablet device.  Take a measured approach when considering a campaign strategy that reaches mobile devices.


Marketing ROI through automation

November 11, 2011

There are 3 system components to getting effective marketing ROI leveraging marketing automation:  Content, Process, and Data.  Think of ROI as a 3 legged stool – the automation (seat) is supported by 3 legs of Content, Process, and Data.  The stool falls over if any one element is missing.  Let’s dive in.

 

Content:  Must be relevant for the segment of audience we are going after, and built to keep the segment engaged over a period of time.  Lead nurturing, or the art of keeping in front of a prospective buyer with their permission is the key stage leveraged here.  The example I use in presentations is think about the JetBlue or other airline emails you receive at home – the content is relevant as the emails focus on your local airport and they keep in front of you on a regular basis even when you are not considering an airline purchase.

Process:  Can vary depending on organization size and structure and is most acutely needed when handing off sales ready leads to the sales organization from the marketing organization.  Processes need to be built for the ‘not now, maybe later’ buyer where sales has a clear disposition path of these inquiries.  Processes need to be considered a ‘system’, not a ‘handoff’ – the prospect to customer conversion experience must be seen as one whole, not as two parts with a handoff.

Data:  Quality makes the difference between good conversions and so-so conversions.  This area is often overlooked, particularly around field integrity and processes that eliminate duplication in entries.  In some clients, I’ve seen up to 60% bad data in their database.  Marketing campaign effectiveness is directly proportional to database quality.

When these three areas are tackled, marketing ROI can be measured and improved upon.  Focusing on just one of these elements risks not getting the right return – leads that are hung up in bad processes can not be fixed with good content or good data.  Think of ROI as a system and not as individual pieces and you’ll be on the right road of success.


The First 100 Days: Insights and Lessons

October 26, 2011

Velocidi’s Salon Series, a quarterly series that aims to address the top-of-mind issues for CMOs, included a talk led this week by Margaret Molloy.  Our topic was The First 100 Days: Insights and Lessons featuring Maryam Banikarim, CMO of Gannett  Co. Inc. with about 50 other executive audience members.  After Maryam’s talk, we broke into subgroups and talked about digital challenges CMOs face going into 2012.

Here were the leadership take aways from Maryam on the onboarding process:

  • No silver leadership bullets in leadership. Frequently expectations are for a new CMO to be the savior or offer up a ‘silver bullet’ strategy.  As emphasized in Jim Collin’s latest book, it usually is a series of smaller steps that get a company to success (ala Southwest Airlines succeeding in a tough competitive environment.)
  • Emphasis of building the right team, either externally or internally – you are only as good as your team, and as hard as it is, those that are not ready for change need to exit the organization.  Select the hungry, driven people.
  • Be relentless when selling executive level change in a culture that is not geared for change.
  • As a CMO,  be direct, authentic, honest, speak your mind, and keep building organizational bridges
  • Move the conversation forward – use phases like ‘We’re all in this together’.

Digital take aways from our sub group break out session:

  • Lead by example on the digital front – all marketing leaders should be running ‘experiments’ or ‘tests’ (some called it fail fast, I’m looking more optimistically!) with multiple digital technologies – some marketing teams have been mandated to tweet and/or blog.
  • Community is important to gain acceptance – build internal constituents from the C-Suite (ie CEO) and also keep an eye on how the external community is perceiving your brand on the digital front.
  • Tie digital technologies to business impact – important to show business progress on all levels.

Another GREAT session by @MargaretMolloy and the @Velocidi team!


CMO Roundtable @Velocidi

July 20, 2011

Along with 35 others, I participated in a terrific CMO roundtable hosted by digital agency @Velocidi moderated by @MargaretMolloy in NYC.  @JeffreyHayzlett, the recent head of marketing for Kodak and current head of The Hayzlett Group, was our guest speaker for heads of marketing in a variety of B2B and B2C companies.  Velocidi is the next generation digital agency leader in NYC with global offices and definitely a company to keep an eye on what’s happening next in the digital marketing space.

The topic of conversation was CMOs – what are the key issues we face and was based on some research Jeff had completed.  He had several areas that were important to consider as part of his research and he prompted breakout sessions to validate (or not validate) the research based on our own experiences.  In our breakout session, we had 4 takeaways that were mostly business oriented vs. marketing tactic oriented:

  • Be accountable to ROI – this was a reaffirmation of the research findings, though there was some side debate about ‘just because something could be measured, doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to get measured’.   There was also some side debate about the actual connection to some activity to meaningful results as there is not always a 1 for 1 correlation.
  • Be the steward of change and growth – swing for the fence when culturally appropriate.  The visual of ‘swing for the fences’ seemed to resonate well with others.  Although there was some debate about the degree a company could change, there was no debate that the CMO had to be the steward of the process.
  • Have courage in making tough decisions.  Whether it be people that work for the team or with the team, this element seemed to be a really important area for those that were responsible for implementing change in the organization.
  • Plan for a 3 month to 12 month horizon rather than do an extended planning process.  Technology is changing too quickly to plan beyond this time frame.   Be prepared to adapt people and processes for this planning horizon – there was a published article  in Marketing Week that reaffirmed this view.

It was an excellent conversation.   What have you found in your experiences?


Executives + Technology + You = Results

June 22, 2011

In the B2B world, Executives and teams that master the art of technology in the revenue acquisition process fare 5x better than those that do not according to research from SiriusDecisions – this post is to help executives better communicate and understand what your teams face with their new technology investments in Salesforce.com, databases, and marketing automation.  It also helps those doing the technology work in these areas on how to better communicate with their executive team.  Based on an informal poll of 6 B2B global companies, executives want and demand ‘more’ faster and cheaper yet they have no fundamental understanding of the complexity of their own data and lack an understanding of technology.  On the working side of salesforce automation, database management, and marketing automation, the workers that are knee deep in the technology process often say how out of touch their executive leadership is with ‘data reality’.  Those that bridge the gap will recognize more revenue quicker and cheaper than those that are unable to recognize and effectively bridge this gap.

To best avoid this grand canyon gap between executive knowledge and the workers involved in this technology, here are a few approaches that could work:

  • Roadmap with achievable technological milestones – set realistic expectations BEFORE investing in technology because the tendency of executives is that if you buy something shiny and new, it should pay off immediately which is an incredibly incorrect assumption yet it is how they operate.  Often times there is a significant lag between purchase time of a new revenue generating technology and actual results.  Technology is never a silver bullet.  People are the silver bullet.  People make the technology work.  People drive process.   It’s best to have the people set the executive expectation as to what to expect and when
  • Benchmarks – workers and leaders should actively seek outside benchmarks (ala SiriusDecisions) or actual ‘live people’ testimonials from other companies who have experienced similar implementation challenges so it’s not just your own viewpoint when explaining to an executive why a technology integration is taking as long as it is against the ‘more’ quicker/cheaper executive standard.  Often times when executives hear from other data points outside their own company, it’s additional validation for them.  Outside 3rd parties can take the heat off you yet effectively bridge to an executive in communicating this gap.
  • Metricswhat does your Executive know about your prospect database, which is the lifeline to future revenue for the company?  Does she/he understand it’s relevance is to the target market, what old names are vs. new names are, what a stale database is, what opt in or opt out is?  Executives understand metrics and KPIs.  Workers – you need to translate the health of your database into consistent, understandable executive metrics – the risk of poor data is like a bad sight on a rifle – if your rifle sight is off by an inch, you’ll miss your target by a mile.  If your data is bad, it won’t matter how many people you have on your sales and marketing team, it won’t matter what technology you have to nurture contacts – you have to have a discipline around an area that likely never sees sunlight in your organization.

I see this process as a journey, not a destination as technology is always changing, thus giving people new opportunities to learn and apply their learnings to their company and to their prospect’s buying cycle.  What experiences have you found helpful?


Revenue through Teleprospecting – a changing world!

May 4, 2011

Teleprospecting teams pursue inbound and/or outbound leads via a telephone, are owned 50% of the time by sales and 50% of the time by marketing in a B2B company with the trend heading toward marketing according to a Sales 2.0 recent conference.  The nature of the role has changed dramatically over the last few years with more ability to ‘intelligently prospect’ rather than pure cold call.  This function is often overlooked given its mundane, routine tactical calling strategy yet is pivotal in revenue acceleration.   It’s where the rubber meets the road for revenue recognition!

Beyond lead generation quantity, there are metrics to consider measuring – by tracking and trending deals that actually close from teleprospecting efforts, to the time it takes to close those efforts, to the cost per effort as one can not afford to hire an infinite number of teleprospectors!  It’s important to establish metrics early and often for this function.

There are many different models of teleprospecting from an organizational viewpoint – from centralized to decentralized, to one region vs many regions.  I’ve found the most effective is regional centralization – meaning, keep the resources as close together as possible so they can learn scripts and effective best practices from one another.  However, when looking at this globally, it’s best to have in region expertise that understands the culture and nuances of selling within that region.  Trying to centralize all teleprospecting for a global company is ineffective.

A teleprospector has an infinite number of tools to choose from today that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago – from ZoomInfo, to LinkedIn, to InsideView, to Dun&Bradstreet’s 360, each of these tools or when used in combination, can really hone in on information about organization, contact information, and report structure.  Note that these tools are very regional centric (in this case many are North American heavily used tools).  DemandBase is an effective tool to extract IP address, though mapping an IP address of someone who surfs on your web to an actual contact name can be challenging if that user does not have some relationship with you, either registered, in the form of a cookie, or other trackable means.  Getting a prospect ‘warmed up’ through lead nurturing marketing automation platforms which I’ve mentioned in previous posts is also helpful and increases the chance of a successful close.

Depending on the size of your company, your team might consider using a tool called LookAcross.  LookAcross gives the teleprospecter the ability to scan social media profiles to optimize when the best time is to connect with that person telephonically and also provides much of the data of a prospects’ professional presence online.  It graphically shows a teleprospector the times and days that they are most active online, and what time and day of the week the prospect is likely to be reached.

Revenue recognition is critical and this function is where the rubber meets the roads.   How have you maximized the impact of your teleprospector function?


SaaS: Customer Retention is EVERYTHING!

March 29, 2011

SaaS – software as a service is a business model that was pioneered in the early 2000s to eliminate the costly software license model.  There are now a handful of global public company comparables with metrics that are published on the performance of these SaaS companies (Salesforce.com, Successfactors) and emerging fast growing companies (Appsense, Eloqua, Marketo, and Qualys to name a few).

An attribute to the SaaS business model is recurring revenue with shorter duration contracts, with resign upsell opportunities that typically range from 0-20% of the annual value.   With shorter duration contracts than that of a typical software license sale, retention of customers in a SaaS model becomes CRITICAL for the organization to make it’s overall annual revenue number.

Here are 5 techniques that I’ve used to help aid in retaining SaaS based customers:

  • Formal interviews with exited customers:  to be done by an external 3rd party to eliminate any survey bias and to get accurate information, you’ll be amazed at what your former customers will say about the onboarding process, their interactions, and the touchpoints they have with the organization.  This will also give a roadmap to win back their business.  I’ve used Primary Intelligence in the past with success.
  • Implement Net Promoter Score with existing customers:   to test periodically how customers see progress in your service offering or where the pain points lie on your customer service side.  This is typically done with larger, global enterprise B2B SaaS companies.  There are newer, more cost effective companies emerging to help smaller SaaS companies to run similar surveys.
  • Study and understand the compensation scheme for how your sales organization gets compensated on new and retention business.  A compensation model that is effective is how Gartner Group compensates their reps on new business and retention business (NACV model is what they call it – ask your rep, he or she will know all about it!)
  • Bundle and drive new feature/functionality around the resign period.  This bundling is key to drive price increases, I’ve had instances of other SaaS companies approaching me for annual renewal increases ‘just because’.  That line of reasoning is difficult to justify!
  • Involve your customers in global customer advisory boards so they can help shape product direction.  Engage your customers in regular field communication via newsletters AND LinkedIn (and opt-in customer forum), thus keeping them in constant contact with new developments on your product so they are always informed and never surprised.

What do you find that works for your organization’s customer retention efforts?