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?


Improving Conversion through Win/Loss

May 1, 2012

Most organizations have a quantifiable goal toward improving KPIs and analytics on more closed marketing sourced revenue.   A method to accomplish this is to do a ‘win/loss’ analysis on specific areas of the buying process.  One really important element here is to make sure sales and marketing understands and buys into what you are trying to accomplish – the goal is not to audit company losses to fingerpoint, the goal is to improve on conversion rates once armed with data/information on what is and is not working in the buyers cycle.

The key process flow areas to measure are within the CRM system on closed lost opportunity, closed lost leads, and open leads. Try to keep to a maximum of ten questions with an incentive to fill out the survey (though I’ve not found a correlation to an incentive and survey responses.)  You’ll need a big enough pool to get a statistically valid sample size to work, a recent example is we had about a 2% response rate.  There is some validity in having an outside party do these surveys vs. inside party, though depending on budgets and timing, inside may need to suffice.   Externally, firms charge approximately $1250 for each completed survey.

There are two approaches we typically use – ongoing and retroactive.  Most organizations fall into the retroactive category because it’s the best way to get aggregate data quickly, though there are substantial benefits to establishing an ongoing approach.

1.  For an ongoing approach, you’ll get real time feedback as to how you are performing.  How to do this is to create process flow survey questions and structures via CRM/SFDC workflows within key trigger points of buying cycle, thus providing REAL TIME feedback to marketing.  SFDC has a number of surveying tools that are free and can be utilized via the app exchange (note for some SFDC editions, there are a limit of the number of apps that can be deployed.)

2.  Rear view mirror looking – Best used by deploying a survey to a pre-determined pool of closed lost opportunities and closed lost leads for interpretation of data.  While CRM systems allow this batch communication to occur, it’s likely a prospect or existing customer will need to remember what their buying cycle experience was like at the time of purchase.  Looking rear view mirror also allows you to use other tools (SurveyMonkey) for a pulling in of results.

Ideally, the information should be captured in your CRM and/or Marketing Automation instance such that an ongoing analysis can take place on the data.  If it is captured, the prospect will have to reveal their identity (required for the incentive), otherwise they may prefer the SurveyMonkey or anonymous route.  Lastly, if doing this on your own, there may be some survey bias versus having an external firm or company do this.

What have you found that works for you?


Content – how buyers consume

April 30, 2012

Last week, I facilitated a lively marketing leader panel discussion for Andrew Gaffney’s Content2Conversion event which was an audience of 300 B2B marketers cross industry.  The event was focused on understanding what types of content buyers were interested in viewing at varying stages of the buyers funnel.  Leslie Hurst from American Express Open, Heather Teicher from click to chat leader Liveperson.com, Candyce Edelen, CEO of propelgrowth.com, and Amanda Maksymiw from OpenView Labs participated on my panel.    Click here for the webcast to our panel .

Owly Images

While there were several key takeaways around measuring content, mobility, social, and privacy, there were 5 key areas that were surfaced during our discussion that motivated me to capture them in my blog.

  • LinkedIn has increasing relevance and value in the B2B community.  Two of four panelists mentioned how sharing content on LinkedIn was more reliable for information sourcing than that of Twitter as the information from a connected contact has a relationship and ‘feels’ more relevant than a stranger.  One audience member from Rackspace who has 15,000 followers on LinkedIn is leveraging LinkedIn’s APIs to its web product pages, so when recommendations are published, prospective buyers can check to see if other buyers of Rackspace services are in their network.

 

  • Content measuring –  successful companies measured how often a piece of content was shared (shared with a friend, shared on links, shared with a blog, etc.) AND tied it to sales ready opportunities;  at that point a piece of content was seen as a very valuable contributor to the sales and revenue processes.

 

  • On segmentation and reaching end customers – across the panel, there was a relentless focus on understanding the customer and their respective pain points as a precursor to segmentation;  what was less of overall focus for each panelist was reaching these customers via a specific technology (mobile vs. desktop) as well as the medium for reaching the end users (twitter, facebook, linkedin).  Two panelists mentioned that mobile was ‘built into’ the development process rather than thought of as a separate initiative.  Facebook was universally seen as adding a human touch to a B2B organization but was not seen in converting meaningful leads.

 

  • On influencers in the buying process – quite a bit of emphasis was placed on identifying both customers and influencers that would help in the buying process by marketing to them, with them, and through them through co-developing content.  This was also referenced by one of the marketing automation vendors as an approach.

 

  • On Automation – one panelist summed it up best by saying, “Marketing automation has made some of our job much easier and much harder at the same time.  SFDC is not built for marketers which is where marketing automation helps us but marketing automation is causing us to think differently than before and thus creating more work for us.”  This seems to be the conundrum many organizations face – how to implement change with limited resource.

It was a terrific experience moderating this panel.  What are you seeing in these areas?


B2B LinkedIn – Take 2

March 15, 2012

For years, I’ve been raving publicly about LinkedIn and was one of the very early adopters in Silicon Valley of this technology.  LinkedIn has some compelling newer offers to consider in the B2B segment.

Many B2B Marketers have felt a bit burnt by prior years performance of text based LinkedIn ads – investing quite a bit of money at a high CPM rate with little to no conversion, so LinkedIn has some work to do to earn trust back.  However, B2B Marketers that may not have taken a recent look at their advertising capabilities and may be missing out on highly targeted new offers.  As I talk with my global clients particularly with those that are sales oriented are consistently using LinkedIn to get account, opportunity and lead intelligence information – it is by far the global standard for information relative to other comparables (Data.com, Hoovers, D&B, etc.) that are either largely North American centric or English country centric.

Let’s quickly delve into a couple of the newer advertising capabilities of LinkedIn.

First, it is really important to understand what your company is trying to do – drive more revenue, speak more frequently to customers, gain more market intelligence, etc.  Each tactic could use a different LinkedIn strategy.

  • In the newer partner based advertising models, emails can be targeted on a job title basis with open rates on their emails according to one representative from LinkedIn range from 20% to 40% – with click through rates of 10%.  The more granular one can get with the right industry, title, etc, the better these ads perform.  At a cost of $2.50 per message (approximate estimation), it is costly, but  worth the investment for the response rate if you know exactly who your target sponsor, influencer or end user you want to reach by title.  This information was reverified at a recent Sales 2.0 conference which I attended where an enterprise client claimed a 15x open rate vs. conventional email.
  • LinkedIn Polls provide a dialogue and a light weight market research mechanism.   It allows for more engaging dialogue by a community and gives flexibility to virally share ads.  This is probably not ideal for lead generation purposes.
  • Lastly, LinkedIn company pages allow companies to target followers, who are likely to be existing customers or existing ‘net promoters’ of the product (sans competitors of course).  This approach allows direct communication with the follower base through status updates – and the added benefit that information shared with the follower is also seen by the followers network of people.  This seems to be targeted to either customer retention or upsell capabilities within an existing customer base.

LinkedIn continues to innovate.  I’m test driving some of the above concepts more aggressively with my clients in our search to convert more leads to revenue and will let you know what I find out.  In the mean time, I’m curious what your experience is – particularly around other social media mechanisms that are getting more aggressive in the B2B lead generation segment.


Conversion Improvement – what to measure?

February 29, 2012

Many B2B companies look to improve conversions from lead to revenue and increase the productivity of their direct sales arm.  Here are 4 reports that can be run immediately in your CRM that can impact conversion positively without having to invest more money in new marketing programs.

  • Lead disposition reports –  when this report is run, it gives an overall status of how marketing is doing with handling of leads to and through the inside sales function.  Symptoms of problems in this area are a large pool of ‘open’ leads with no disposition.  What this symptom means is inside sales is not taking action on these leads, which requires a root cause analysis as marketing is producing a great quantity with no quality conversions
  • Opportunity reports – look at the ‘closed opportunity’ status pick list (if there is one).  If there are choices that speak to ‘not qualified’ ask yourself or your team, why is it that they were promoted to an opportunity prior to being not qualified?  Within opportunities, look at aging reports, the number of days on average a deal sits in any one cycle.  Because an arthimetic mean is provided, give careful study to the outliers of deals that have sat in queue for a very long time.
  • Funnel metric reports – do an analysis by either lead and/or opportunity (sales accepted opportunity) to study the entire shape of the ‘funnel’.  Is it indeed a funnel or is it a snowman (heavy bottom) or inverted funnel (due to deals getting clogged up in legal review).  Against the backdrop of aging reports, funnel metric reports can be very helpful for sales and for marketing to determine what sales enablement strategy need to be put in place.

 

  • Duplication reports – do some basic analysis in/around fields within the record structure of your CRM – account duplications, lead duplications, and contact duplications.  Salesforce administrators sometimes overlook plugins that can prevent these duplications from happening – consequently, poor performing outbound campaign performance is symptomatic of the cause of poor data hygiene practices.  Poor campaigns = poor conversion.

 

What reports have you found helpful?


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.