Planning, measurement, ABM and content mapping were just the tip of the iceberg for the topics covered at this year’s Strategy & Planning Series. Industry thought leaders from companies such as HootSuite, MongoDB and more shared their expertise on the plethora of topics that are having a big impact on how B2B organizations are formulating their playbooks for 2017.
In the B2B marketplace, Q4 is a time of both reflection and a look ahead. It’s that time of year where the entire organization looks back on its initiatives and assesses performance, and then begins to plan for next year. But there’s a lot to analyze as well as plan for, and not much time in the day to do it. Catch up on what you may have missed during last week’s Strategy & Planning Series!
Planning, Performance & Measurement
Each department — marketing, sales development, field sales and the executive team — should remove the role silos to work cohesively together. The executive team, in particular, was highlighted as a key resource that should not be overlooked, according to EverString.
“I consider this concept ‘don’t bench [Tom] Brady,’” said Matt Amundson, VP of Sales Development and Field Marketing at EverString, during his session. “The New England Patriots’ coach would be fired if they only played Brady in the fourth quarter. There is value in having an executive align to a deal right off the bat, such as an accelerated sales cycle.”
Amundson said that while each team has its own roles, they should work together as a single revenue team. There is, however, a common discussion on where sales development should be housed — under the sales team or the marketing team. Due to their role of being the 1:1 contact that provides personalized messaging, Amundson suggests that SDRs work closely with the marketing team.
“I believe that in account-based marketing practice, sales development should fall under marketing. It should be an extension of marketing’s messaging in a much more personalized and account-centric manner.”
Today’s marketer has two jobs: one is to “do” marketing, and the other is to “run” marketing such as marketing performance management, according to Sam Melnick, Director, Customer & Marketing Insights at Allocadia. During his session, he described the four things that the best global marketing organizations do differently in terms of elements of marketing planning strategy:
- Aligning marketing plans with company-wide strategy;
- Structure your plans per industry standards;
- Combine top-down planning with bottoms-up planning; and
- Achieving harmony with the finance department.
Identifying The Metrics That Matter
With a plethora of different marketing technologies in the landscape, marketers have a frustrating time understanding which metrics to use to effectively track their efforts. Marketers either don’t have enough data, or too much, said Dan Roden, Senior Director of Product at DOMO, during his session.
Start by grabbing a paper napkin and thinking about the problem or question you’re trying to solve. Then, figure out the impact of the problem and figure out how you can effectively provide the metrics to support your position.
Then, identify a lead source and where it came from. Once you have that, keep track of the source when he/she comes to your website and provides their information. When the lead reaches your CRM, begin to look at your sales funnel, Roden said.
“As you go through the stages [of the sales funnel], can you effectively say that all the leads came in from a specific lead source in your CRM,” said Roden. “How many have made it from stage one to stage two, and so on? If you can’t, then you can’t answer valuable lead quality.”
To see the ROI, you need to be able to track the lead from beginning to end, said Roden. He concluded the session by highlighting three types of metrics you need to know to successful calculate ROI or soft conversions. They include:
- Foundational Metrics: Page views, unique visitors, average number of page views on a weekday vs a weekend, etc.
- Indicator Metrics: “Can you figure out how many people filled out your web form after being led to a landing page from a specific lead source,” asked Roden.
- Return Metrics: These metrics must be associated with dollars.
One final metric type Roden added that Domo is currently looking at is velocity metrics, which measure time. For example, how quickly do people go through the sales funnel? Do they convert faster from LinkedIn compared to email?
“This has been fun for us to see and has helped us keep the focus on where we’re getting the quickest return on our dollars,” said Roden.
During a session presented by Full Circle Insights, VP of Marketing Christine Vermes, said that “there’s a disconnect in the marketing data.” She also said this can be due to the common disconnect between the marketing automation platform and CRM.
“Marketing automation is great at reporting on the outbound efforts: how many emails, clicks bounces etc.,” she said. “However, once you send that record to Salesforce for sales to work on, your marketing automation system loses a lot of visibility into the outcome of the marketing-generated response. When marketing is reporting out of a marketing automation platform, and sales is reporting out of Salesforce, things don’t match up and it creates a lot of distress between the two.”
While metrics are crucial to measuring campaign performance, it’s not easy to figure out which metric is right for a specific business. In a session hosted by Act-On Software, Chief Customer Officer Matt Zelen shared a proven formula that helps marketers identify the “true north” of their marketing campaigns: customer lifetime value (CLV) divided by customer acquisition cost (CAC).
Zelen said this formula “helps marketers realize if the business made more money from a customer than it spent to acquire that customer.”
CLV allows you to get a complete view of the impact of your customer onboarding, retention, upsell/cross-sell and loyalty programs. It can also be used to determine how much you should be spending on your marketing investments. To calculate CLV, find the answer to the following questions:
- What is the average sales value of your first transaction with a customer?
- How much do you typically make per year from that customer after the first purchase — including cross-sell and upset revenue (if relevant)?
- How long does a typical customer continue to do business with you?
Additionally, to calculate CAC, divide the amount marketing organizations spend on customer acquisitions during a specific period, by the number of customers acquired during the same time. Zelen said that calculating CAC can help you fine tune your email, landing pages, forms and other touch points.
Finally, divide the CLV by the CAC to get your “compass quotient” (CQ), Zelen said. If this ratio equals one, you will break even, but ideally, you should have a 3:1 ratio.
ABM: From Activation To Measurement
Data not only impacts effective campaign measurement; it can also activate and enhance new programs such as ABM. In a session hosted by Madison Logic, attendees learned how to make the most out of their data to activate their target accounts and fuel their ABM programs.
“Many marketers think they’ll instantly gain revenue from running programs with service providers, but that isn’t necessarily the case,” said Sonjoy Ganguly, SVP Product Management at Madison Logic. “In ABM, especially in B2B, there are many factors to seeing success.”
Ganguly shared five steps to leveraging the best data to activate target accounts:
- Leverage data from sales and marketing to identify your audience and surging topics;
- Formulate a data-driven content strategy;
- Balance scale and quality to engage your audience;
- Nurture your prospects with the surging topics you identified; and
- Align your sales team with what marketing is doing to position them with data and insight to close more deals.
“Ultimately, what you need is data and insights to power all this — and this is where the confusion normally comes in,” said Ganguly. “How do we use data and insights to power all those strategies? Which strategies should we be relying on our vendors to help us with more, and which tactics should [marketers] be focused on to make our organizations more effective?”
As marketers get more savvy with their ABM strategy, they begin to focus more and more on how to track and measure those initiatives, according to Demandbase.
“[Marketers] used to be responsible for bringing in a huge volume of leads with incomplete data,” said Nani Jansen, Senior Manager of Marketing Operations at Demandbase, during her session. “Now, demand generation is starting to get laser-focused on the types of metrics that impact business.”
But poor customer data still plagues many B2B organizations. Jansen noted a stat from Celsius INT which states poor customer data costs U.S. organizations $611 billion per year. She added that up to 25% of the average database has critical errors.
You need to make sure that you’re setting goals for your ABM strategy. To determine that, you must get buy-in and input from the right stakeholders, this includes sales, marketing and finance.
“Finance, in particular, will be able to tell you about future financial goals of the company,” said Alex Krawchick, Senior Director of Analytics & Product Management at Full Circle Insights. You can then use that insight to “reverse engineer the process to understand how many opportunities you need per quarter — or per year — to meet those goals.”
That insight can then identify the metrics to measure the success of your ABM programs. Krawchick highlighted four metrics that often provide a holistic view of ABM success:
- % of target account coverage;
- % of target accounts touched;
- % of target accounts engaged; and
- % of target accounts in sales cycle.
Ultimately, marketers must hold themselves accountable when doing ABM and think about why they aren’t engaging with specific accounts, per Krawchick.
“This isn’t marketing 101 anymore, you want to think strategically about who you are targeting and engaging with,” he said. “Think holistically and objectively with your account strategies.”
Predictive & The Age Of Intelligence
Often, B2B marketers embarking on an ABM journey will typically start with the target market assumptions that come out of conversations marketing has with sales to understand the accounts to target.
Target assumptions have traditionally been based on finding accounts that meet specific criteria in terms of industry vertical, number of employees, revenue and geography.
Predictive adds thousands of attributes to every account. Most predictive platforms enable marketers to get smarter about each account, with information such as firmographic data (e.g., number of locations, employees per location), technographic data (technology used by target account employees), behavior and intent data, and revenue data.
“Once sales and marketing puts together assumptions around their target market, predictive analytics brings all the data that enables you to get smarter about each target account,” said Nipul Chokshi, VP of Product Marketing at Lattice Engines, during his company’s session.
Shantel Shave, Director of Demand Generation at HootSuite and a Lattice customer, recounted her ABM and predictive journey for the past 18 months, describing predictive as “a tool that has definitely worked for us.”
Since HootSuite’s 15 million-strong user base is built on a free model, Shave said, “One of my primary objectives for my team is to more readily identify who in our user base is going to be a good prospect to upgrade to the higher-value plans, and it may not always be evident from the data. This is where supplementing that data with predictive can be really valuable.” Hootsuite can pinpoint the strongest accounts that are ripe for upgraded professional accounts, and it surfaced leads more rapidly and moved them more quickly through the funnel.
“Predictive gives us fuel to accelerate the funnel and shorten the sales cycle,” she said.
You can’t talk about predictive without talking about artificial intelligence (AI), according to John Hurley, Director of Demand and Content Marketing at Radius. His session looked to define AI in a practical way, as it applies to B2B marketers, and how it fits into the technology stack.
Hurley said that much like how everyone is talking about ABM, artificial intelligence is not a new topic.
“The term ‘artificial intelligence’ is replacing and becoming more buzz-worthy than predictive,” Hurley said. However, he essentially said AI is predictive analytics. “When we talk about AI, what we’re really talking about — in a product sense — is predictive analytics.”
Content Delivery & Buyer Journeys
Today, marketing and sales know that the way buyers explore a purchase has changed. Much of the education that occurred between sales reps and prospects now happens through marketing touch points and content.
During a session hosted by The Mx Group, the company’s VP of Client Services Tim Cook emphasized that 57% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even contacts a seller. With that said, Cook spotlighted three ways to get back to the basics, and ensure the communications between sales and prospects are effective and result in conversions: buyer personas, buyer journeys and content mapping.
The first step is to ensure that your customers are the “main character of the story,” which is where buyer personas can help. Cook explained three critical elements within a buyer persona, which include:
- What differentiates a specific marketing segment from everyone else you talk to?
- Instead of initiating a conversation by promoting your products, understand the pain points of the person you’re selling to.
- Understand the point of view of that segment as they move through the buying cycle. What is critical for them to know and understand at each stage?
Once you understand your segment and know the buyers’ pain points, it’s important to align the buyer journey with what you learned from the persona. He also recommends shifting your thinking from a sales cycle perspective to a buy cycle perspective.
“Assessing a combination of personas, insights and buyer journeys starts with understanding what your buyers are doing and when they want to do it,” said Cook. “Then, develop the content maps to help make sure you have the content that’s going to pay that off. Those are the three critical things that can be a game changer for you in 2017 from your lead gen and pipeline development point of view.”
Content format normally comes into the picture when mapping out buying journeys, and video has grown as a popular choice for providing buyers with concise and relevant insight. In a session hosted by Vidyard, the company featured a speaker from client MongoDB, which has seen great success with more than 700 videos produced and roughly “thousands of leads generated every year,” according to Jodi Cerretani, Director of Demand Generation at Vidyard.
During the session, presenters explained how video can be leveraged to answer the multiple “how?” questions that B2B buyers are looking to answer when searching for a new solution.
“Video is a rich, engaging experience that activates all the human senses, and it’s efficient — think about the amount of info you can obtain from a two-minute video compared to a two-minute blog post,” said Peter Zawistowicz, Head of Demand Generation for Cloud & Corporate at MongoDB. “If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is worth two million clicks.”
Zawistowicz shared his experience with video content. In one example, he spotlighted how his team leveraged video to promote a new offering and target a newer audience. They created a piece of video content designed to answer a few of the key pain points many of these new audience members faced and saw that leads who watched the video were twice as likely to sign up for a free trial. Also, people who watched the video were 30% more likely to become paying customers.
“They were so compelled by the value that we communicated in the video that they were willing to put money on the table,” said Zawistowicz. “Being able to communicate that value to your target audience is key to accelerating pipeline.”
Everyone is doing content marketing these days, which can lead to buyers experiencing “content burnout.” During their session, Content4Demand’s Dana Harder and Alicia Esposito highlighted some best practices to personalizing buying experiences with content in order to stick out among the crowd.
Before you start to create or repurpose your content, you should better understand your target buyers, said Harder. Personas play a big part in that. Ask yourself:
- Is the buyer a fit for your business?
- What are their behaviors, struggles, hobbies and desires?
- Where can you add value to their lives?
Once you have a persona in mind, conduct an in-depth research-based persona project by interviewing clients and subject matter experts, as well as conducting online surveys and phone interviews with prospects because “those are the people you’re not doing business with but want to get insights from,” said Harder.
Next, create buyer-focused messaging, which is “the missing link in content creation and activation,” according to Esposito. She highlighted two stages in the messaging process: education and definition.
In order to drive better experiences with your content, you should be customizing your content, messaging and emails to your buyer. This includes:
- Highly personalized, custom content featuring the company’s logos/buyer names; and
- Updating callouts to make them relevant for specific industries;
But personalizing content doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, Harder explained. Here are some ways you can do so quickly and efficiently:
- Put a new spin on existing content by making it look like you created it specifically for that buyer;
- Create content hubs or microsites specific to your target audience; and
- Experiment with direct mail.
The process of B2B webinar and content delivery was discussed thoroughly in a session hosted by ON24, and participants came away with insight into how to optimize their content delivery through the entire buying cycle with engagement-based marketing.
“If you go to all the big marketing conferences out there, every year there is always some new thing—ABM this year, predictive analytics last year,” said Mark Bornstein, VP of Content Strategy at ON24. “There’s always something looking to save us because the pressure continues to mount on marketers more than ever before.”
Now, B2B buyers continue to be self-educating, meaning they do not want to engage with sales. Bornstein said that following the same old marketing playbook has only created fewer exposures with prospects, increased marketing noise and made it more difficult to measure sales readiness.
Bornstein also said that since buyers are looking to educate themselves via your company website, social channels and other mediums, it’s important that content delivery is driven by their engagement with your brand.
“This engagement should measure [buyers’] sales readiness,” said Bornstein. “Ultimately, it’s not about gaining more leads, it’s about gaining better leads.”
Want to learn more? All of the webinar sessions from the Strategy And Planning Series are available to view on-demand here.