Native Intent

Urging “quality over quantity,” in a recent bizcommunity.com article, “Buy Data with Intent,” Louise Robinson comments that it’s not only necessary to reach the right person (decision maker with purchasing power) with up-to-date contact information within an organization, but that timing is essential.

To avoid complete rejection (as in, loss of customers, definitive “NOs”), marketers have to know where their prospects are in the buying cycle and communicate to that need. With “behavioral intent data collecting,”* marketers review past and current buying behavior and modify their message accordingly. This is our stock and trade, we are pleased to see it getting more exposure, especially since B2B marketers are still ramping up to B2C levels of intent usage.

And since we’re discussing growing B2B trends, here’s another one for 2015: “Big Data Is Finally Going Native.” MediaPost predicts that Big Data’s ability to improve targeting, efficiency and relevancy makes it a prime area for native advertising, a form of paid advertising where the experience matches the form and function on which it appears. We’re talking about games, apps and content that seemed more consumer-interest than pure product pushing.

Native advertising faced some challenges—they are non-standard and have small data sets, which the article attributes to “initially built around individual ad units served into closed networks of third-party publishers.” However, technology improves so big data can now go native due to:

  • Opening of large user data sets to third parties
  • Open native exchanges—using programmatic, supply sources matched to demand
  • Enabling of third-party data

Why is this valuable? Advertisers can make “native even more relevant than before, thereby raising response and engagement metrics to unprecedented levels” with such benefits as:

  • improved targeting
  • advanced optimization
  • granular contextualization
  • actionable campaign insights
  • fraud prevention tools

Publishers also benefit from more relevant content. Consumers receive a better user experience too.

What better way to go native than Intent and Big Data? In 2015, the consumer experience will continue to improve based on the data and ability to apply it appropriately.

*We use quotes because it’s her exact phrase, but it’s an expression we embrace too.

Big Predictions for Big Data

Oh, yes, it’s holiday list time. We found a great one, “Four Things Big Data Needs for the Holidays” where author Howard Baldwin rounds up some research and articles and “gifts” us the highlights of what Big Data needs:

  1. Press/public relations. Big Data needs better marketing within organizations to explain the “value proposition” of why it is good for businesses and to overcome institutional resistance to change.
  2. Big data analytics have to prove relevance. Discipline, parameters, collecting and coding can harness large amounts of data to make them applicable to business goals. “Adding an incrementally higher level of insight to analytics potentially means adding more certainty to the result.”
  3. Perspective and personalization. Big data is for the big picture. Enterprise-wide solutions (not silo) need to be enacted to maintain perspective on how big data solutions impact business goals and enhance customer retention and nurturing through personalization.
  4. “Patience.” Starting and stopping big data solutions will yield bad results. Companies have to commit to big data processes for the long term; and test, analyze and repeat/fine-tune its use to improve their overall marketing strategy.

And while we’re projecting into the New Year, Al Urbanski shares some insights from a recent International Data Corporation (IDC) report, which bolster our beliefs about Big Data—that it will continue to get bigger. “Spending on data-related software, hardware, and services will hit $125 billion. Rich media analytics surrounding video and audio campaigns will drive more Big Data projects, and Data as a Service (DaaS) offerings will grow in number and importance.” IDC also predicts that the Cloud services (with sales of $120 billion) will become more crowded, but with more services launching and new partnerships emerging to serve it. China will be a stronger force, in retail in particular, in the upcoming Year of the Goat.

The best thing about year-end and holiday roundup advice lists is that they are useful all year long. Keeping Big Data at the top of the New Year’s resolutions will keep marketing strategies and company goals in line.

Bigger Data, Better Analytics

6259499293_b577b94cfd_bThe cool theme that connects this week’s articles, almost to the similarity in introduction paragraphs, is ubiquity. Both data and analytics are everywhere, growing bigger and being better used…and that’s a great thing for managing intent data, using predictive analysis and fine-tuning B2B marketing efforts.

In an outlook piece for MarketingLand, James Green talks about some of the Big Data trends for 2015:

  1. Big Data will increase in size and strength, forming an insightful Big Data Blob. By combining all the data points, such as “sales, purchase history, search history and site interactions,” marketers will gain consumer insights never before revealed and be able to act on the customer profile, influencing creative decisions, audience strategy and more targeted media plans.
  2. First and third party data, aka businesses’ own customer data plus intent data from the web—social, location and search among them, will merge to allow marketers to communicate with customers at various stages of the buying process more effectively.
  3. Automation is still on the rise. Insertion orders already replace manual entry, there will be a move toward increased RTB, and systems will “seamlessly… improve accountability, measurability and efficiency.”
  4. Crackdown on fraud continues as more search players enter the fray. More organizations are preparing to fight it, and there are more resources too.
  5. Personalization will be more personalized. All the data elements will enable advertisers to “transform generic advertising into relevant marketing in real time, regardless of device or location.”

Big Data is a big win for B2B marketers because it allows for a very personalized, 360-degree knowledge of who the customer is and how to best inform and engage him or her. At its backbone is analytics. In the old days, B2B marketers collected tons of useful information on prospects and customers, but lacked the ability to crunch all the data and make it relevant.

In a very direct article for CMSwire, Tom Petrocelli explains why analytics “is” everywhere. It boils down to:

  1. “The technology has matured.” Citing the new cloud analytic platforms and other tools that influence marketing decisions by delivering smart, segmented, useful information about prospective customers, analytics “delivers reliable and relevant results.”
  2. Modern global business is complex. Analytics help businesses handle: social and digital data, purchase history and point-of-sale transactions, a customer’s journey through the sales funnel and other interactions.
  3. Analytics creates intelligence. The previous method was to rely on luck and a few insightful interpreters of data. By processing the raw data, “machine learning, statistical analysis, software infrastructure and computer horsepower can now provide meaningful and actionable insights to help run businesses more efficiently.”

Analytics frees up the data analysts, the insightful experts and marketing gurus to work on strategy to keep up with the demands of global business, while the Big Data is sorted out and analyzed automatically. Both Big Data and Analytics are everywhere, and there symbiotic relationship will continue to improve B2B marketing efforts.

Image via Kevin Krejci

Avoid B2B Marketing Website Mistakes; Leverage Data and Be an Effective Marketer

5448851027_fa53139280_bAre you a modern marketer or are you falling behind the times? According to a Forrester survey of 500 B2B and B2C companies in the UK and USA, only 11 percent are “modern marketers”—defined by Louis Foong in business2community.com as those who “use multi-channel marketing, gather and analyze real-time customer data, create customer personas based on this intelligence, monitor and measure results.” Beyond data and automation, Foong urges top-down priorities that encourage B2B marketers to “explore, discover and experience” so the whole organization can be responsible for enhancing the customer experience. How should B2B marketers incorporate this learning process?:

  • Explore: Find out where your targeted customers are and reach them there—across channels and platforms, and with content, remarketing and other tools.
  • Discover: Measure the results, and then fine-tune. Predictive modeling and big data analytics help determine engagement levels and where to improve.
  • Experience: Remember, “I’m not only the president, I’m a customer” ads? Well, how can you expect to delight your customers without empowering your employees to be passionate advocates of your own products and services?

By promoting this learning culture, your B2B organization will thrive and share the enthusiasm with customers and prospects alike.

Here’s another nugget from a survey we’ve already seen cited in other articles—92 percent of B2B marketers are using social media, and among those, 59 percent of those publish new content weekly. This is more than other marketing tactics, such as e-newsletters, web site articles, blogs and case studies—tools still used as part of an overall content strategy.

Mistakes, we’ve all made a few. Since our website is so critical to our content marketing strategy, lead generation and company presence, it’s important we avoid the 4 B2B Website Mistakes that Rick Whittington suggests we do not even realize we’re making:

  1. Not providing enough information for early-stage buyers.

Rather, the website should:

  • build trust and be informative.
  • answer visitors’ questions without a sales pitch.
  • address the buyers’ situation/concerns and not be a tone-deaf brag sheet.

Edit your website to address the needs of your customers and add content, such as blogs, that helps inform their research.

  1. Not tracking visitors.

All the articles we choose point to data and content as indispensable to better b2b marketing practices. Knowing where your visitors come from is crucial to analyzing marketing efforts. Then you can determine which marketing campaigns works and allocate money accordingly, and cut the deadweight of ineffectual campaigns.

  1. Static or sporadically updated content.

Quoting Emerson’s “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” is great for high school teachers, but in business, providing regular content updates, in a predictable, reliable manner actually serves the customer well by establishing “expertise, credibility, and consistency” that educates and updates your ideal customers. Otherwise, your company appears out of touch—both by being non-communicative and being out-of-date.

  1. Not focusing on the customer in your company description.

Make sure your homepage addresses whom your target customer is, how you help them, and what advantage you have in understanding their business.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled theme of big data. Tom Murphy, referencing a CMSWire webinar with Heidi Bullock, provides excellent pointers on how to use data-driven marketing to increase your marketing budget and measure business impact:

  1. Know which metrics matter. When reporting up, “using metrics that measure business outcomes and improve marketing performance and profitability” are more important than “vanity” metrics (such as page impressions and Facebook likes.)
  2. “Show impact, not costs.” My recruiter friend gives this as her resume advice too. It is important to demonstrate the results of your efforts and not just provide confusing spreadsheets. Some ways to do this: set goals with stakeholders, design measurable campaigns (with marketing automation), and measure things that can be made profitable and improve marketing efforts.

And the beauty of Big Data is that it can actually help B2B marketers become more personal in their marketing efforts when used right. When broken down into “bite-sized, small data” bits, it can be used for “1:1 marketing pursuits” per Daniel Newman in Forbes.com. The way to make the data the customer provides useful in reaching them personally is by measuring across channels… “omni-channel.” Since customers interact with brands from different devices at different points in the buying cycle, it is useful to gather this data and individualize the message. “In today’s B2B marketing world, personalization of customer data will let marketers build actionable strategies.” The same can be said for keeping a current, informative website and prioritizing marketing goals from the top down. Keep up the good work, B2B marketers.

Image via Becca Peterson / Flickr

Madison Logic Celebrates Year of Rapid Growth With Awards From Inc., Crain’s NY and AlwaysOn

ml-awardsNEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Oct 28, 2014) – Madison Logic, the premier provider of intent data solutions for B2B marketers and publishers, today announced it has received three prestigious industry accolades highlighting the company’s steep growth trajectory. For the second year, the company has been recognized on the 2014 Inc. 500|5000 list as one of the nation’s top 5,000 fastest growing businesses. Additionally, Madison Logic has been named one of the fastest growing companies in New York City on Crain’s New York’s annual Fast 50 list and as one of AlwaysOn’s OnMedia 50 Companies to Watch.

“We are delighted and humbled to be honored by these prestigious industry lists,” said Madison Logic CEO Erik Matlick. “Our exciting momentum has been driven by our clients’ success using our Powered by Intent data products, including the Content Consumption Monitoring program. Intent data is the key to engaging B2B audiences and our clients have enjoyed excellent campaign results that encouraged them to keep coming back. We look forward to continuing on this growth path by offering the best B2B audience insights available.”

Inc. magazine ranked Madison Logic 1,591 on its eighth annual list, which represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy — America’s independent entrepreneurs. Madison Logic was in the top 31 percent of the 5000 company list and joins Microsoft, Oracle and GoPro, among other prominent brands featured in previous lists. Madison Logic was also named 35 in the Crain’s New York Fast 50 Companies list and as one of AlwaysOn’s OnMedia 50 Companies to Watch.

Q2 2014 revenue numbers show a 34 percent increase over Q1 2014, and Q3-Q4 projections are tracking on the same upward climb. The Q3 2014 generated revenue had experienced a 59 percent increase over the previous year, and a 73 percent growth from the previous quarter.

Madison Logic’s Content Consumption Monitoring Program (CCM) aggregates rich intent data that provides segments that produce less opt-outs, higher performance and a better user experience. The company dynamically tracks more than 1,900 topics, giving B2B marketers scalable insights into their customer base, driving scoring, display and sales alerts.

About Madison Logic
Headquartered in the U.S., Madison Logic is the premier provider of intent data solutions for 1,000+ of the world’s leading B2B marketers and publishers. The company’s Content Consumption Monitoring technology provides intelligent lead cultivation and monetization that ensures B2B brands are able to maximize the value of the leads they cultivate from acquisition to loyal customers. Madison Logic’s technology also empowers premium publishers to more efficiently monetize their businesses. With solutions driven by intent data, business buyers receive messages relevant to every stage of their journey to purchase. Today, more than 600 of the top B2B marketers depend on Madison Logic to maximize the reach, efficiency, effectiveness, engagement and insights delivered by their campaigns. The company maintains long-term partnerships with a highly refined base of 450 premium B2B publishers, who rely on Madison Logic to help them drive audience growth and greater revenue. Madison Logic is a global company based in New York City. It is privately funded and profitable. www.madisonlogic.com@madisonlogic

Deep Diving for Better B2B Results

6847212397_4c06c99f27_bThis week’s roundup of B2B marketing news reads like the tabloids: Myths Debunked, the Shocking Truth… Beyond gripping headlines, the really valuable takeaways are even more attention-grabbing: more internal research, data analysis and coordination among departments will yield better results on B2B marketing efforts—along email, website and CRM.

How can something so commonplace be so revolutionary?

First, let us not get complacent that our marketing efforts are easy because we are businesses engaging businesses. B2C marketing requires casting a large net, so more customers can buy. In B2B marketing, your customer base is smaller, more specific, and very knowledgeable about what they need. The temptation is we think we know our customers because we know our industry.

“The shocking truth is, however, that B2B marketing takes tons more research and thought. It needs to hit the right audience, or else you won’t make any money from marketing,” states Robert Cordray in “The Shocking Truth about B2B Marketing.” Cordray urges B2B marketers to have dedicated personnel perform their research to determine what strategies will work with different audiences. Research is essential to maintaining an up-to-date database and qualifying leads. Cordray urges hiring or designating individuals for the database and strategies, and a teleprospecting team to qualify leads. If these essential research functions are treated as an afterthought or auxiliary, sales will diminish. If they are at the forefront, they will yield better results.

And one of our common themes applies too; sales and marketing have to support each other to obtain feedback, deliver premium content and nurture leads to deliver the right message or action at the right time. In other words, stick to the tenets of lead generation and nurturing to be successful. Paul Houston provides a refresher in “10 Tips for a Successful Lead Generation Strategy.” Some of the highlights are:

  • Use correct data to target the right audience at the right time
  • Use measurable and traceable channels to track—via website, email, social media or direct marketing.
  • Create a grading structure and criteria so you can focus on a prospect with the right message.
  • Monitor your competition and structural changes among your own targeted customers.
  • Use social media to share content, build a following and engage in dialogue.
  • Use email correctly to send valuable offers, link to landing page and measure calls to action.

Along with the DIY theme (and isn’t all B2B marketing DIY on some level?), Sandy Gibson alerts B2B marketers in “How Big Data Can Enhance B2B Email Marketing” that our own customer data is often overlooked, yet invaluable to improving our content, products and services. Focusing on CRM data, email and website analytics, here are the key points:

  • CRM data. It is more effective to use CRM data for basic segmentation, determining who’s in the nurture cycle or an existing customer, who is interested in enterprise versus a single transaction, than sending a single email to everyone on your list.
  • Email analytics data. Identifying which content is most engaging and what calls to action were taken is more important than open and read rates.
  • Website analytics data. Reader’s paths help you determine which content is working and what actions are being pursued, which enables you to optimize as needed to move visitors toward conversion.

Combining all this data through your CRM will provide insight into behavior and patterns that will help you deliver “relevant and engaging experiences” and create a roadmap for your marketing and product teams.

“Email is not dead,” declares DM News and so many marketers before. Author Elyse Dupre debunks some common email marketing myths, i.e., volume and old school techniques are the way to go. Here are some of the positive points after the conventional wisdom is deconstructed:

  • Email is still vibrant, with 88 billion consumer emails projected by 2016
  • Separate the opt-in subscribers who want to receive frequent email from those who merely supplied an email for a single interaction.
  • Automatic personalization now replaces “batch-and-blast, to segmentation, to personalization” old order because you can now determine more directly what the customer wants by analyzing the data on your site and emails.
  • Mailing to smaller, segmented lists yields better results.
  • Data, technology and behavioral targeting create more effective messaging than big lists, too-creative content and untested subject lines.

In any business, it is so important to establish trust, and then retain it. Since B2B marketers have a smaller pool of potential customers, it is essential they incorporate research, personalization, customized actions, quality content and integrated marketing efforts that are informed by data and analytics to attract relevant, targeted leads.

Image via U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

Nurturing Leads with Strategic Targeting

We frequently discuss the importance of nurturing leads through the buying process. One method of doing so is retargeting. Retargeting often gets treated as a separate sales initiative to get more leads; however, we see it as part of the overall marketing strategy. We were pleased to see Luke Summerfield’s article, “A Powerful Cocktail: Mixing Retargeting with Content Marketing” because it makes a stronger point: that content marketing should be a part of retargeting, in particular for B2B marketing.

Summerfield suggests a set of tactics to drive leads back through the funnel:

  1. Develop a hyper-targeted blog post geared for your potential customers at the top or middle of the funnel. (Use LinkedIn or Quora to vet topics even.)
  2. Create two mini-content offers from the initial blog topic, with extra value. One will be served to those who performed an action via the blog; the other will be used in a retargeting campaign.
  3. Soft-launch your blog through your network. Incorporate their responses to improve the blog and calls to actions.
  4. Develop a highly targeted paid promotion mix of display and social ads to drive traffic. This gives you possible conversion on mini offer as well as customer data pixels for retargeting efforts.
  5. Retargeting time! Create a list from those who read the blog but don’t act on the offer and then approach them with the mini offers, splitting the offers with the list so you can test each half with your message.

You will be able to drive more people to your content, including existing blogs that are performing well, using these tactics.

ClickZ also reported on the 2015 “B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” survey, conducted by the North American Content Marketing Institute, claiming 86 percent of B2B marketers are now incorporating content marketing, but only 35 percent of those who do track their ROI. In addition to other social media to get the word out, B2B content marketers are using:

  • LinkedIn – 94 percent
  • Twitter – 88 percent
  • Facebook – 84 percent
  • YouTube – 48 percent
  • SlideShare – 42 percent

Paid advertising on search engines is still a factor. Content marketing accounts for 28 percent of the budget for most B2B marketers too.

Just like retargeting is not always considered a part of the content marketing strategy, sometimes email marketing works separately too. Email marketing is the first message you send potential customers, however, so your content should be aligned with your overall messaging strategy. Zach Heller gives us some pointers in “How to Tell If Your Email Is Working” to keep email campaigns vibrant.

  • Track open rates.
  • Track click-through rates.
  • Track email back to sales.

Now the first two are basics, and using unique open or click-through data will help determine the real amount of people you’re reaching. Add some finesse by testing subject lines (also a part of content strategy!) and the various places to click on an email…and you get a pretty tight strategy. But, how do you track sales to your email campaigns? You have to track actions, such as sign ups, referrals, and offers, which means you have to customize your emails beyond the standard service to get that extra information.

Image via Hans Splinter

Content Marketing Strategy and the Importance of Peer Review

Although I’m always promoting the value of high quality content marketing to B2B marketers, I acknowledge Carter Hostelley’s great point in a recent CMSWire.com byline to make sure to get a few peer recommendations to promote your services. Particularly among B2B, “buyers trust the recommendations of peers more than what we marketers say in our blog posts, white papers, webinars, status updates or tweets. Sorry, but it’s true.” So, who are the best advocates for your brand? Reach out to your customers, your employees, your peers, influencers and prospects. The foremost tip on how to generate recommendations: make it easy. Make it easy—for your “ecosphere” of partners, clients, and investors—to share your branded content or their favorable opinion of your business, add a testimonial, and participate in company events.

Tracking ROI is a challenge for content marketers, but those with a documented strategy say they track ROI successfully (35 percent with strategy compared to 21 percent without one). More B2B marketers are creating more content (70 percent), with LinkedIn being the top social media platform (63 percent) among B2B marketers.

Speaking of strategy, Ruth P. Stevens, also reporting in AdAge.com, suggests some ways to most effectively use content marketing as part of the overall B2B marketing strategy. The “Four Pillars of B2B Content Marketing” that strengthen your business’s position while generating and cultivating leads are:

  • thought leadership—not only builds awareness, but “kickstarts” the business relationship by introducing CEOs and executives
  • lead generation offers—irresistible content and research that solves business buyers’ problems and captures the prospect’s data seamlessly
  • search engine rankings—useful content educates and informs potential customers and bolsters organic search results
  • lead nurturing touches—“can quadruple sales” by communicating with valuable, “non-salesy” messaging to existing prospects, rather than wasting efforts churning up new leads

Sales and marketing have to coordinate their efforts and messaging throughout the buying process for the most effective lead nurturing campaigns. Here are “7 Ways Content Marketing Can Simplify Your Customer’s Buying Process.” Author Angela Vuona breaks down the timing of when to deliver the “right content at the right time” by aligning the stages of content marketing with the customer buying process of attract, convert, close and delight, with her tips:

  • Attract: through keywords and educational blogging
  • Convert: through calls-to-action (CTA) and landing pages
  • Close: through lead nurturing emails
  • Delight: after leads become customers, continue to provide useful, relevant content by delivering smart calls-to-action that offers something new or addresses their interests. Use social media to continue to engage customers, provide customer service, and gather endorsements and shares among target audience.

Let’s finish with some more good news from AdAge, and the title says it all: “86% of B2B Marketers Now Use Content Marketing: Only 35% of Marketers Have a Documented Content Strategy.” Citing the “2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” survey of more than 1,800 North American B2B marketers, author Kate Maddox advocates for documented content-management strategy to yield more effectiveness. 60 percent of B2B marketers with a documented content marketing strategy rate themselves highly in effectiveness; 32 percent with a verbal content strategy rate themselves highly.

Peer reviews and endorsements are vital to continued lead nurturing and effective (documented!) content marketing strategy.

Image via hobvias sudoneighm