Madison Logic Acquires BBN Solutions

Madison-Logic-BBN-Learn-MoreToday, Madison Logic, the leading provider of data-driven, full-funnel B2B marketing solutions, has acquired BBN Solutions, a leader in the B2B advertising space. 

Through the acquisition, Madison Logic adds a premier, top-of-funnel media offering to its industry-leading, mid- to bottom-of-funnel data and demand generation offering.

Madison Logic can now meet the needs of B2B marketers and publishers who have expressed an urgent need for a media, marketing and enterprise solutions partner that can help them optimize and manage their sales funnels, top to bottom, utilizing the cutting edge formats including video, native and high impact branding solutions.

With B2B marketers increasingly seeking to reach and engage demand among decision-making audiences as they progress along the buyer journey, Madison Logic owns and provides access to the world’s largest set of demographic and behavioral intent data in B2B marketing, processing over one billion interactions per month, from 125 million decision makers across all industries. With the newly minted Madison Logic + BBN data set, marketers can leverage high-ROI solutions based on mid and lower funnel targeting criteria and encompassing content syndication, email marketing, retargeting and sequential targeting. 

Madison Logic now maintains over 1,600 direct publisher relationships that utilize our solution to deliver full funnel demand generation campaigns.

Marketers have learned that the key to effective messaging is to be there with the right message at the right time. Targeting companies and audiences is a good starting point but applying holistic “always on” messaging campaigns, driven by intent signals, produces the best engagement rates.

BBN will continue to go-to-market under the BBN brand name for the immediate future, but the end-to-end solutions offered by BBN and Madison Logic will be consolidated and sold as a unified fashion.

Furthermore, with the acquisition, Madison Logic is poised to deliver another spectacular financial performance in 2015 with Q1 revenue booking run rate is up over 140 percent compared to 2014 and year-over-year revenue projected to grow more than 70 percent with a significant rise in profitability.

 

B2B Programmatic Display

3535562503_183fd02280_oWe have seen programmatic quickly become digital advertising’s go-to method for media buying, and across other industries, where experts are saying that 2015 is going to be a year of even more rapid growth in that space.

2015 started off with AOL conducting layoffs as a result of programmatic technology eliminating the need for larger sales organizations to conduct media transactions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company laid off roughly 150 staffers in late January, “mostly people working in ad sales, as the company continues to reinvent itself as a programmatic advertising powerhouse…The company noted during a recent conference call that revenue from this sector nearly doubled from the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014. In fact, sources close to AOL management believe that 50 percent of digital ads will be sold via private digital marketplaces in two years—rather than via ad sales executives negotiating with buyers.

Over the past few years, few companies have embraced programmatic advertising like AOL. Chief executive Tim Armstrong has often referred to AOL’s sales strategy using a barbell metaphor, with programmatic ad sales representing one-end and custom ad packages representing the other end. Now, the middle of the barbell, i.e. selling clients more standard, bulk banner campaigns, is getting thinner.”

WSJ also notes, “AOL is not the only big digital media company facing this issue. During Yahoo’s earnings call earlier this week, Chief Executive Marissa Mayer spoke repeatedly about the industry-wide declines in display advertising. That’s why Ms. Mayer is focused on growing revenue in Web video and mobile, among other sectors.”

The major ISPs are adapting to the new world of programmatic and leading further exploration into the possibilities of programmatic.

For instance, across media channels, video has been making its mark as a powerful engagement tool, but scalability and device integration have presented significant obstacles to its growth. But programmatic may be the way to help alleviate those issues. According to [MediaPost coverage of] a recent BrightRoll report, “nearly four times as many agencies expect to spend the majority of their digital video ad budget via programmatic in 2015 compared to 2014.

BrightRoll surveyed 120 different U.S. ad agencies in December 2014 for the data. The company has been conducting the same survey for the past three years.

  • Nearly one in four agencies (22 percent) plan to dedicate a majority of digital video budgets to programmatic channels in 2015, up from just 6 percent the year before.
  • Over one-third (35 percent) plan to dedicate “around half” of budgets to programmatic this year — up from 32 percent last year — while 43 percent of agencies plan to dedicate a minority of their budget toward programmatic, down from 63 percent the previous year.

According to BrightRoll’s survey, most agencies expect mobile video to be the fastest-growing category in terms of digital media spend this year, followed by desktop video. Interestingly, 27 percent of respondents said they expect “programmatic TV” to be the ad category that sees that largest increase in digital media spend in 2015, tied with mobile display and ahead of desktop display, social and search.”

Native advertising is another important weapon in the marketer’s arsenal that is being impacted by the industry’s general shift toward programmatic. A recent MediaPost article highlights the dilemma that native advertisers are facing when it comes to integrating a programmatic platform.

“[Programmatic] allows sophisticated targeting, optimization, and attribution — without worrying about the nuances of each separate publisher.  Programmatic must allow massive scale without requiring a separate contract for each source of inventory.

Meanwhile, long-form, onsite native creates a tightly integrated experience for highly targeted campaigns aiming to reach a handful of publishers. A single piece of content produced by the advertiser will match the brand voice of these publishers.

However, much as with banner ads, advertisers will never be able to forge direct relationships with thousands of publishers and produce unique content for each of them. So either the unique content limits the scale to a small number of partners, or the content is more general and does not match the editorial voice across the broader distribution of publishers. The former limits the ability of native to go programmatic and achieve meaningful scale, and the latter requires a large set of publishers willing to host arbitrary third-party content under their masthead. Both are suboptimal, with the latter undermining publishers’ integrity.

So, while it will have its place as a niche format, long-form, onsite native ultimately cannot be the standard for programmatic at mass scale.”

However, as MediaPost points out, “by tapping into the pool of programmatic native, publishers can significantly increase their monetization options.

It’s very possible that native will be fully programmatic in the near future. Several large DSPs have announced integrations with RTB-enabled native platforms ranging from Facebook to general translation layers. And with any luck, in a few good years, the days of banner ads might be behind us.”

Across the board, industry insiders seem to think that programmatic technology will eventually enable the various channels to accomplish their goals of real-time engagement at scale. If the first couple months of 2015 are anything to judge by, we’re well on our way to proving them right.

Image via ChrisGampat

It’s Time to Automate Demand Gen and Rethink How Data Improves Marketing ROI

4795118657_7a51dd1c0f_oBy using the classic sales funnel, with disclaimers to how it’s never linear, Scott Vaughan, in his call to “Automate Demand Gen,” illustrates how already automated tasks that fall under Digital Marketing, such as programmatic display, search, video and even social, allow B2B marketers to manage and analyze these functions easily. Similarly, the low end of the funnel is being managed by company’s internal marketing technology, which he refers to as “marketing clouds.” These automated tools increase efficiency as the customer is closer to making a purchasing decision. Automation at the top and bottom of the funnel helps marketers improve ROI.

Somewhere in the middle of the funnel is Demand Gen, most of which is still managed manually. Including lead gen, call gen, content syndication, events, telemarketing and purchased lists—this category primarily relies on third-party data. Unlike the move toward automation in the other areas, B2B marketers are still gathering prospects from events and lists. Vaughan calls this process a “waste,” saying, “these middle-funnel processes and the resulting prospect data remain disconnected from the marketing cloud systems that are having enormous impact at the lower end of the funnel.”

How does Demand Gen waste resources? Valuable time and efforts go into identifying the prospect data, finding providers, setting prices and establishing contracts with each provider. And in many cases, submitting insertion orders and monitoring the reports is a manual function still. The results are usually unable to be analyzed until after the money is spent on a campaign. Vaughan cautions against the significant consequences of manual Demand Gen:

  • More leads expected, fewer resources
  • Bad leads (25 percent estimated) waste sales resources
  • Manual demand gen “hamstring the value of marketing automation” in the other parts of the funnel.

Automation, on the other hand allows for:

  • Standardization across all data sources.
  • Reduces waste of time/resources on manual planning and purchasing. Allows “one-to-many” approach with providers.
  • Technology used to validate prospect data for accuracy and completeness
  • Evaluate campaign during its run instead of after to tweak and improve accordingly.

Companies who automate see increases of “10 percent revenue within 6-9 months,” what are you waiting for?

“Think of Marketing in Terms of Real Time, Right Time and All the Time”

This line from Kalia Doner on “Rethinking How Data Improves Marketing ROI” sums up so much of what we’re trying to do.

  • Data should be built in from the beginning of all marketing campaigns. Often we slap it on mid-process, and it is not as useful.
  • Make sure the data is aligned with overall campaign goals.
  • Real-time marketing yields real results.

We can sum this up in “Always be analyzing and automating.” The more info we have during a campaign, the better we can manage and improve tactics used to achieve the strategy.  Automate demand gen so it’s not clogging up the more streamlined automated marketing tools you’re already using and always measure at every step.

Both of these tips streamline all marketing efforts and simplify marketing on all levels, and of course, improve ROI.

image via Je.T.

Lead and Listen: The Customer Will Do the Rest

3133347219_37b8cccdc3_o“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Let’s invert the old saying a bit and suggest that you can lead a customer by creating demand for your company’s services with effective B2B marketing efforts that market to the lead and listen to your customers. Without their desire to interact, you can’t make them sales ready.

Two articles from Business2Community.com complement each other with these messages.

Dave Hubbard recommends conserving sales resources by fully qualifying marketing leads first…but how? If you listen to potential customers and let them better define their needs before trying to close their business you will be able to gain better insights to close a deal. Unlike erratic consumer customer journeys, B2B customers can be more predictable. They are looking for specific solutions and are spending more money, while having more stakeholders involved. Their buying process consists of gathering a lot of information and narrowing it down to whether it addresses their problem appropriately and fits their budget, before they even think of engaging sales. According to Hubbard, “B2B buyers can complete 50%- 70% of their purchasing process by self-educating online.”

Marketing can respond by attracting, engaging, nurturing, and  then “influencing the buyer journey” to create a truly marketing qualified lead (MQL). And the best part is that self-educating customers do most of the work themselves and soon become self-qualifying customers. The caveat: B2B marketers have to provide their customers with the content and choices along the way, specific to their decision stage. Each time the customer makes a selection, it moves them along the sales funnel because it defines their interests, needs, and level of readiness. Hubbard gives an example of a tightly defined email campaign as a way to elicit customer info without burdening or pestering. When marketers listen to how their customers are interacting with their content, they enable them to self-qualify, saving sales resources and efforts.

From an interview with Howard Sewell, president of Spear Marketing Group, a B2B demand generation agency and one of the “Top 50 Influential People in Sales Lead Management,” we gathered some more insight.

  • “Demand generation and content marketing are nearly synonymous.” Good content informs, nurtures, and converts. B2B marketers should use a content map to serve customers at different points in their journey and create key personas.
  • New demand generation channels, such as predictive analytics, which includes lead scoring, predictive modeling and prospecting, are making things easier.
  • Programmatic display advertising will become more important because it enables more specific, targeted criteria that will yield better ROI than it has previously.
  • Good data is still important for measuring marketing programs, tailoring messages, segmenting, and delivering what customers want.

B2B marketers benefit when they help the self-educating consumer self-qualify. Marketing to the lead, with respect to their journey and needs, using the content and choices they make, will always provide better customer relationships, which affects better business overall.

image via ky_olsen

More Than Just Buzzwords…What Experience Marketing, Budgets and Marketing Automation Really Mean

7027596629_70d7540363_oWhy does James Smith of business2community.com say that customer experience marketing is the future of creating sustainable business?

For B2B marketers, experience marketing enables a whole picture of a customer to form based on every interaction, on any platform or channel, online or offline, that that person has with your brand. Then, predict what this person wants next “using a common set of metrics.” Smith calls this “win-win” because customers will receive personalized, specific information that coincides with their interest and engagement in the product (at their point in the buying cycle) and marketers gain loyalty and consumer trust.

So, aren’t we already doing this on many levels? We gather big data, we use predictive analytics, combine marketing automation with the personal touch, and advocate for sales and marketing departments to work together. Yes, but of course, there is always room for experience marketing to evolve to meet the changing needs of the market, and here are some ways Smith suggests it will happen:

  • IT and Marketing must also work together. Both departments must communicate, identify strategy and share goals, and use a joint timeline to create the holistic customer experience. Data-driven results require marketing analytics to be integrated with IT infrastructure. IT budgets are already shifting to support CMO initiatives here; CMOs “must focus on customer experience metrics” too.
  • Streamlining customer info to create a 360-degree view of customers. Rather than wasting time gathering data from various sources and serving irrelevant ads or tangential content, all data points will be filtered through that common set of metrics, to enable marketers to customize messages and deliver content that is relevant to the customers’ point in the journey.
  • Creating customer loyalty through appropriate communication and information.

Experience marketing is about nurturing the whole customer and not just closing a sale; you want to create customers for life. As B2B marketers get better at harnessing all our data and working together, we will continue to serve our customers better.

Add good news to that message: A recent Forrester survey predicts more B2B marketers will have increased budgets. More than half (51 percent) of the 132 B2B marketing executives surveyed expect increased budgets. Here are some of the other stats:

  • 48 percent say more money to go to digital marketing
  • 45 percent see an increase in content marketing
  • More to be spent on social media over the next five years:
    • 19.9 percent of marketing budget for those offering a product
    • 22.2 percent for those offering service

Current budgets are: 14 percent on trade shows and events; 10 percent on digital advertising and marketing; 9.4 percent on social media, although that is still trying to be quantitatively measured. This is just a summary of the results, but increasing marketing budgets in these areas will help overall growth.

While the trend to increase budgets in social media and digital marketing increase, not all of that money is going to go toward marketing automation. Why are only 13 percent of the 327 marketing professionals surveyed prioritizing marketing automation?

Tom Kaneshige, in cio.com, believes “The simple truth is that marketers are undergoing a crash course in emerging marketing technology that is upending their profession, and their education is lagging.”

So how can they step up to the plate? Marketers must have direct communication with their customers to build loyalty, create a holistic approach across all channels, and create experience metrics that allow them to improve and communicate more. Marketing automation helps filter customer data and best serve them at every touch point.

 

Focus On What Works: Mobile, Content & Trends

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According to the 2015 State of Marketing Report from Salesforce, which surveyed 5,000 marketers worldwide, mobile marketing and social media are on the rise, with dedicated teams managing them, a far jump from a few years ago. Some highlights:

  • 84 percent of marketers plan to increase social and mobile marketing spend
  • More than 66 percent say mobile is integrated into their overall marketing strategy
  • 58 percent now have a dedicated mobile marketing team

And for a twist on this tale, we take our statistics from the Australian version of CMO.com, presenting these findings:

  • 56 percent see mobile as core to their business
  • 64 percent of all the marketers say social media is critical; 57 percent Australian
  • Budgets increased for social media advertising more than any digital marketing channel.
  • Email is still important, 92 percent say it has a clear ROI
  • Conversion rate is the most important email metric; traffic most important social metric.

Australian respondents cited budgetary constraints, new business developments and building stronger customer relationships as challenges. The three global challenges were new business development, the quality of leads and remaining up-to-date with technology and trends. To learn more, we recommend reading the original report (a simple form required to download it) as well.

In this very space, we often discuss how to deliver the right message at the right time and how important content is to B2B marketing initiatives. Marketingland.com reminds us that the type of content we deliver to C-suite decision makers is just as important because it has to address specific needs. Citing a report by The Economist Group, the desired executive audiences are looking for information and to solve problems, marketers are looking to brands to promote their solutions.

Rather than hoping to foster leads and nourish relationships at one tenuous meeting point, marketers can focus their B2B content on what the executive audiences want:

  • Substance
    • Business executives seek more than marketing prose, they want information. The most useful types: “industry outlook on a matter, both sides of a complicated issue, and an area of business they weren’t apprised of.”
    • Focus on the audience and their needs rather than pushing a product.
    • Add value: Simplify a complex topic, inform on a new or controversial topic.
  • Engagement
    • Make it resonate. Quality over quantity. Author Jim Yu makes a good point, what you put out there will live on Google and can help or hurt search rankings.
  • Form and Function
    • Consider your executive reader persona and create content for how they’re reading it (laptop vs. mobile, no video, etc.)
  • Measurement
    • Do we sound like a broken record yet? (Does anyone get that reference any more?) What good is all the best, most apt, target-hitting and serving content in the world if it is not measured?
    • 84 percent of marketers surveyed want to promote Branding, with Leads, Engagement, Sales, Lead Nurturing following. The article and report suggest focusing on the audience’s needs first; and goodwill and branding will follow… and as it’s occurring, measure!
    • As long as we’re focusing on positive B2B marketing, AdAge reports on some trends industry experts see in the coming year, following GE global creative director, Andy Goldberg’s urging to “be more human.”
  • Be relevant.
    • In order to connect with their audience on a more personal level, B2B marketers will develop better storytelling and more emotional connections in their marketing.
  • Sharable content, such as videos that simplify complex B2B messages, will dominate digital and social channels, per John Kennedy, CMO at Xerox. Considering the long selling cycle and high dollars of B2B transactions, the ideal “sweet spot” will be content that “educates the potential buyer, gains interest and goes mainstream.” Along with that, Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction, suggests “consumerization” for B2B to crossover into consumer experience.
  • Seamless user experiences in product design and digital experience from merging of marketing, CIO and CTO strategies, per Eduardo Conrado, SVP, marketing and IT, Motorola.
  • Reprioritization—“marketing within companies” (or “working with all the departments” as we often urge) to create parallel online and offline experiences, per Kathy Button Bell, CMO, Emerson.
  • Connecting technologies—data management, predictive analytics and customer experience—to gain a deeper understanding of customers, per Tom Stein, CEO Stein IAS Americas.

We recognize that the last two articles conflict with each other because on one hand, we’re urging B2B marketers to distinguish themselves from B2C marketing, and then suggesting they steal some of its approaches by being more human, but, overall, it’s because the world has merged and they can both be effective using the same tools and applying them accordingly. B2B marketers can learn from consumer tips and strategies. As long as the focus is on the end user and audience, the marketing consistent and targeted, and the data measured and applied, B2B and B2C marketers will continue to improve techniques and results and borrow from each other’s successes.

Agility. Avoidance. Automation. Three Ways to Boost Your Bottom Line.

Boost SEO, Boost AgilityWow, where has the new year gone to? We’re going from resolutions to regrets this week. Then back to smart solutions for automation and remaining agile.

Let’s start with the regrets. As B2B marketers, we are vying for the same leads our competitors are going after in a specific, sometimes tightly defined industry. Sometimes we get overly eager, overly wordy or even a little sloppy to capture them.

TweakYourBiz lists some of the common lead generation mistakes and gives some tips to avoid them:

  • Too much info on forms.
    – Solution: Keep it simple. Just ask for name and email.
  • Chaos in content and graphics.
    – Use original, well-structured content to educate customers in the research mode and captivate them through their interest in your business.
    – ALSO: Visual marketing is part of content. Quality infographics, images and videos “present the opportunity to be unique and creative” and have “more impact on readers” than mere copy.
  • Not using social media—or not using it well.
    – B2B marketers often see the value in LinkedIn, but Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr also help build the brand, manage customer feedback/responses and promote goods and services. Smartly managing these channels, through dedicated staff or automated tools, will help make a difference.
  • Old lists. Bad landing pages. Wrong platform.
    – List hygiene and maintaining current contact info never go out of style.
    – Test, test, and re-test any user experiences before launch. All buttons, graphics and actions should work—and be measurable!
    – And with that, use what works. Adjust accordingly.

Enough with the bad habits, as any coach or kindergarten teacher worth anything would say, now to focus on the good behavior. Agility and automation are on the rise, and that’s always good for B2B marketers.

Are B2B marketers more agile than a year ago? CMSwire.com revisited an interview with Carla Johnson, president of Type A Communications, to follow up on some 2014 predictions she made.

The good news is: we are more agile, but there is some more work to do. Emphasizing “what can we do to make doing business with customers easier?”
marketers are more agile, better engaged and more responsive to customers. They are better at listening with the goal of creating “systems of engagement” and “experiences that delight audiences.” Johnson mentions that we’re producing more content than we are listening to and need to focus on the customer more and, particularly, measure more, but overall cross-department coordination among sales, marketing, IT—basically, enterprise-wide—are good for creating “momentum to improve.”

A great way to get this momentum is automation and integration. A clickz.com interview with Symantec’s social marketing director Charlie Treadwell highlights some essential reasons for integrating automation with social media strategy that all B2B marketers can relate to.

Much like the lead generation mistakes and status report from Ms. Johnson, the driving principles are flexibility, security and customer responsiveness. As the author states, “Technologies will continue to change and new SAAS products will continue to emerge. Content sharing rests in the hands of the user and big companies cannot afford to not deploy social listening (and reacting).”

While discussing a specific security situation and the solution they employed, Treadwell states the important factors that smart automation and social media strategy require:

• Security/peace of mind
• Immediate knowledge of customer concerns and conversations and a way to respond to them
• Use of social media to listen to customers then specifically address their concerns with custom content and responses.
• Communication and strategy among sales, marketing, customer support maybe IT (across all teams involved)

We shall throw in “measuring” for good measure… After all, one of the best uses of automation and integrated marketing efforts through social media is the ability to measure all campaigns to determine what works and crunch the numbers for more insight on how to respond to customers’ needs.

The technology and the customer’s needs may change, making agility essential. Luckily, B2B marketers are improving customer experience and support through automation, social media responsiveness and outreach, integrated departments with unified strategy, and simple attention to details such as updated contacts and landing pages that work. 2014 might have been the year we woke up to all these factors, but 2015 shall be year we hone and improve them.

New Year, New Marketing Priorities

6636632951_29ae6b49a9_bAlong with the New Year comes new resolutions. This year, marketers are putting a huge emphasis on prioritizing content marketing.

Why?

According to a OneSpot report she cites that online users are engaging with content at an increasing rate.

Content marketing is the the ability to “create and curate” useful content to engage customers on the level of information they’re seeking and has been proven to:

  • Build brand awareness and introduce your products and solutions to potential customers.
  • Promote lead generation through relationship-building. Potential clients recognize you as a thought leader and resource in their industry.
  • Increase engagement by addressing your audience’s needs.
  • Close sales. We talk about this often; if you maintain engagement and deliver relevant information at the right time, you’re more likely to make the sale.

The trends and priorities for B2B marketers in 2015 rely on the growing data collection, automation, personalization, content marketing and integration of sales and marketing practices.They will be fine-tuned and more efficiently executed as the industry grows with the technology and continues to make things actionable, personalized, relevant and measurable.

Image via Nana B Agyei