Author: Contributor

Marketing Campaigns Might Only Be Mostly Dead

Advertising luminaries such as Eric Wheeler at Ad Age and Bill Lee in the Harvard Business Review have long declared that campaigns are dead. While some campaigns are dead (see the 2016 Iowa Caucus), the idea that structured marketing campaigns are dead is being a bit over-hyped, particularly by social media gurus.

In the Princess Bride, Inigo is distraught because he thinks his friend Westley is dead. Max the Wizard responds, “Well it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Now, mostly dead is slightly alive. All dead—well, with all dead, there’s only usually one thing that you can do. Go through his clothes and look for loose change.”

When companies are spending $5 million for a Super Bowl commercial as part of a multi-channel, platform marketing process, one has to understand that that’s a lot of loose change for a dead man to have in his pockets. Campaigns are not dead, but they are evolving, and at an incredible pace.     

Some things never change. Regardless of the object of our desire, we all go through the same mental process to get what we want. Often referred to as the buyer’s journey, I am going to simplify it and call it the “journey for stuff.” It works like this:

The communications process that makes it easy for buyers to buy a company's stuff is alas, a “campaign.” And while campaigns are clearly not dead, they sure have gotten a lot more difficult to plan, manage, and justify. 

As campaigners, we have so much to deal with. There are issues of buyers’ trust, marketplace disruption, buyers’ attention spans, their need for bite-sized content, their communications channel preference, their expectations, their place of purchase, their mode of payment, and on and on. It’s all about them. We have to be wherever they are, whenever they are there. What ever happened to the four Ps?

Big data is becoming “huge” data. While the best of us can plan and create micro segments and personas and trust in the ability of on-the-fly, dynamic modeling to perceive customer intent and serve the right content on a laptop, a phone, and a wristwatch simultaneously, aligning the right technology to  “mange the moments” that get buyers to buy can boggle the mind. Or at least it boggles my mind. It is amazing how complex the simple sales process of selling stuff has become.

Yet we campaigners carry on. We live for that last-minute rush that stimulates our juices and produces campaigns that are not good, but great. Campaigns, despite the premature prediction of their demise, are not dead, and in fact are more than “slightly alive.” At times, however, the demand for great planning, multi-channel orchestration, and brilliant execution can paralyze us. 

Take heart and remember this from one of the best campaigners in our generation, Don Draper: “Maybe I am not as comfortable being powerless as you are.”

Rather than rely on loose change, learn how marketing automation can get your own campaigns up and moving around by downloading Marketing Automation Simplified.

Author Bio: James Vander Putten joined Merkle in 2015 as Senior Director Channel Optimization. In his career, James has led mission critical marketing functions such as campaign development, advanced customer profiling and segmentation, integrated platform marketing, social media marketing, database development, and fulfillment, as well as global marketing process and organizational optimization. His most recent focus has been on global high-tech demand generation at companies such as SAP, Raritan Computer, and Pitney Bowes, and earlier in his career he led customer development and acquisition functions at industry-best companies like Saks 5th Avenue, American Express, and Altria.

5 Mobile Insights That Will Change How You Market to Millennials

Everywhere you go, millennials are looking down at their phones. The grocery store, the bus, and don’t get me started on the movies. The question is: what are they really doing with their heads down, thumbs furiously typing and swiping?

This is a serious question for marketers who want to not only reach, but genuinely engage their millennial, mobile audience. We know this generation is unashamedly addicted to their phones, but how are they using them to engage with brands? What are their views on privacy? How do they prefer to communicate?

These are some of the questions we set out to answer in Invoca’s State of the Mobile Experience Report, which is based on survey findings from over 2,000 U.S. consumers. Below are five highlights about the mobile experience that may have you rethinking your mobile marketing strategy.

1. Millennials are mobile multitaskers

Millennials seem to check their phones no matter what they are doing or who they are with. In fact:

  • 89% said they would check their phone while out with friends
  • 83% said they would check their phone while out with family
  • 38% said they would check their phone while on a “good” date

It seems even a potential future spouse can’t completely command the attention of a millennial. Millennials are often multi-tasking when they’re scrolling through their social feeds, checking email, or even browsing websites.This shift in social norms has immense implications for marketers.

Marketers need to be aware that when targeting a mobile audience you may not have their full attention, or you may just have a few quick moments. Don’t fight a losing battle. Instead, make sure to engage millennials in simple, yet helpful ways. This means showing up in their social feeds with a highly targeted offer, or giving them the information they are looking for with the least friction as possible - forget online lead forms with seven fields. Be present in those micro-moments (as Google would say), and make it easy for them to pick up the journey where they left off - when it’s most convenient for them.

2. The top mobile activities may surprise you

With Internet access in almost everyone’s pocket, it’s probably surprising that messaging and calling are still the top two smartphone activities, beating out social media, videos, pictures, and email. It appears that millennials favor direct communication. In fact, according to our research, 67% of millennials use their phones to message more than five times a day and 37% use their phones to make a call more than five times a day. And 38% of respondents said if they could use their phone for only one thing, they would use it for calling.

When it comes to communicating big news like getting engaged, respondents said they would make a phone call every time. So even though more millennials use their phone to message, they still make calls when it’s important.

3.  Millennials value conversation more than you think

Even millennials know that sometimes communicating on a small mobile screen with fat thumbs is a real drag. When asked about their preferred method for contacting a business, 66% said they were likely to call a business vs. only 22% who said they were likely to use social media.

And if you think all millennials do is take selfies, think again. Only 17% admitted to taking selfies at least once per day compared to 79% that said they make a phone call at least once per day.

No amount of tech is ever going to completely replace one-on-one conversations. Marketers, even though millennials love all things digital, it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s just easier and faster to make a phone call. Even Google’s Search Chief, Amit Signal, calls mobile a “do device” and says one of the easiest things to do on a mobile device when reaching out to a business is to call them. So remember to include those click to call buttons on your search ads and landing pages and use call tracking to see where those calls are coming from.

4. Millennials love to use their phones to spend money

Millennials live on their phones and buy on their phones. Whether they’re using an app or calling to make a purchase, smartphones have become the new wallet. The majority of millennials (52%) make purchases on their phones at least a few times per month. Peer to peer payments are also gaining traction among the millennial crowd, with 20% saying they send money to a friend with their phone at least a few times a week.

It’s clear millennials are really comfortable spending money with their phone. Mobile isn’t all about browsing and researching. It’s used to make purchases and marketers shouldn’t be afraid of driving these types of interactions on mobile. It’s important for marketers to make their mobile purchasing process as simple as possible – a complicated purchasing process with too many steps will increase your abandon rate. Think about offering a one-click checkout option. Or giving people the chance to call to quickly get their questions answered.

5. You can collect personal data, but use it for good

Millennials are more comfortable than any other generation giving away their data in exchange for convenience. In fact, 84% of people surveyed, including millennials, don’t mind when companies collect their data, and 20% expect that ads they are served later will be more targeted as a result of gathered information.

Marketers must make sure they are using data to personalize and improve the customer experience. This means serving personalized ads, targeting people across channels, and ensuring a seamless experience throughout their journey, even if they move offline.

Millennials’ relationships with their phones is a complicated thing. But the more marketers know the better they can engage in meaningful and compelling ways. One of the biggest takeaways from the report is just how big of a role the phone call plays in the customer journey. 

Get dialed in to your own mobile marketing plans by downloading the Modern Marketing Guide to Mobile Marketing.

Author Bio: Amber Tiffany is the Content Marketing Manager at Invoca, which drives inbound calls and turn them into sales. She began her career as a marketing copywriter and has since gained experience in SEM and content strategy for both B2C and B2B organizations. She is currently training daily to become the first female champion in Invoca’s ping pong league history.

8 Steps to Guarantee Marketing Automation Success

EmailMonday gathered an impressive list of statistics about marketing automation usage and its relevance for businesses in 2016 and beyond. Some key statistics  from various sources include:

• 91% of the most successful users agree that marketing automation is very important to marketing success across all channels (Ascend2).

• Approximately 11 times more B2B organizations are now using marketing automation compared to those in 2011 (SiriusDecisions).

• Best-in-Class companies are 67% more likely to use marketing automation (Aberdeen Group).

• 79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than two years (Gleanster Research).

• 42% of CRM users will increase marketing automation spending in the near future (Software Advice).

• 54% of CMOs have started or finished marketing automation software implementation (MarketingSherpa).

• The most commonly used marketing automation applications include email marketing software, CRM, and marketing automation suites (Software Advice and Research Now).

• In the B2B environment, 69% have used marketing automation for customer acquisition while 50% have used it for customer retention (ACT-ON and Gleanster Research).

As noted by other research, leveraging available automated processes for marketing can add efficiencies, fill in talent gaps, maximize limited budgets, and more effectively target those platforms and channels were customers and prospects are now located. In determining the process for adding marketing automation to your SMB, there are some best practices that you will want to consider before you dive in:

1. Review what you are using now before changing anything. 

Like most companies, you are most likely using a wide range of offline and online tools, having added certain marketing tools as they have been introduced while still keeping old traditional software. You need to know what you have in order to determine what type of marketing automation you can employ that brings it all together and removes any duplication of effort and helps you have more time for other aspects of your business.

2. Research available marketing automation solutions. 

In order to know what you want to automate and what this solution will do for you, it’s important to study the existing solutions. Whether you implement the marketing automation solution or you hire someone to do it, you need to understand why it works for your business. This can help with future strategic decisions related to your marketing effort and other technology investments.

3. Organize existing data to prepare for automation. 

Automating with a mass of unorganized data definitely defeats the purpose, so you need to spring clean your data. This means getting rid of duplicate and inaccurate information before transitioning from multiple systems to just one.

4. Map out your transition to an automated marketing process. 

You may even want to consult with a marketing professional who can suggest a specific way to approach the transition as well as the best automated marketing solutions for your business niche and specific strategy. Typically, you will want to have a centralized marketing database, an engagement engine, and an analytics engine as part of your new automated marketing solution.

5. Align the automated marketing processes with the sales processes. 

It's critical to get your sales team included in the marketing automation process. They will most likely have insights about the type of automated system that would work best for what they are trying to achieve. This alignment can further your ability to qualify leads and turn them into customers.

6. Create a timeline for the marketing automation transition. 

A best practice is to take a stepwise approach to automating your marketing processes. The last thing you want to do is change everything at once. If anything goes wrong along the way, you could end up losing customers and traction. By automating specific aspects of your marketing at one time over the course of six months to a year, you are ensuring everything integrates and is seamless to the customer and prospect.

7. Train your staff to use the new marketing automation solution. 

Ensure that they know how and why this marketing automation solution works for your organization. Even though it is automated, your staff still needs to know what it is doing and what the results mean. After all, overusing the automation can backfire so they need to know the frequency and quality of the messages they are adding to the solution. There are still decisions to be made about marketing content used for the automated processes like email marketing and campaigns plus analytics to analyze and changes to make based on the results from these metrics.

8. Continually review results from the marketing automation effort. 

Your marketing automation processes do not operate in a vacuum. It’s critical that you continue to monitor them and assess the results you get from the investment. The analytics you get from the effort will guide you toward any changes that need to be made and will serve as the benchmark for the type of technology or tools you add in the future.

This is the year for your business to transition to marketing automation to ensure the greatest efficiency and return on your marketing investment. By following these best practices, you can increase the results gained by automating your marketing processes.

This comprehensive guide to Marketing Automation will start your journey down the road of marketing automation success.

Author Bio: John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. He was recently named #3 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and has been one of the Top 10 Most Influential PPC Experts in the World for the past three years.

3 Must-Haves to Convert One-Time Shoppers to Loyal Customers

The first quarter feels like a safe time to put things into a lower gear—crunching holiday stats and forecasting the upcoming year allows us time reorient marketing efforts. Part of that reflection needs to focus on leveraging 2015’s data (especially the customer information gleaned in the holiday bustle) and using it to convert one-time Christmas buyers to all-the-time customers.

According to Marketing Metrics, the likelihood of selling to existing customers is 60-70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent. So it’s a no-brainer to create loyal customers out of those that have recently engaged with your company. That conversion multiples your marketing return on investment many times over. Moreover, Retention Science found that existing customers spent 30 percent more than newer shoppers in the time period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Are you engaging consumers on all the right fronts to ensure that this year’s one-time customer is next season’s returning, loyal customer? To convert holiday shoppers to constant customers, marketers should:

1. Collect and Honor Preferences Everywhere

‘Tis the season for returns, exchanges and frantic calls for product support. You’re likely to see an uptick of communications this time of year. That makes it a critical period to demonstrate that you know your customers and respect their preferences.

That’s why preference management – the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication – should be accessible throughout the company. Without centralized data for all customer service operators and other points of contact, a single interaction can prove inefficient and frustrating, making it less likely that your customer returns.

2. Ensure Cross Channel is in Order

While holiday headlines tended to position e-commerce as a detriment to brick-and-mortar shopping, the truth is that in 2016 savvy marketers know that cross channel experiences can capture a full view of the customer that includes varying shopping preferences—online, in-store and more.

Previously, naysayers warned against “showrooming,” when customers browse items in-store before buying online. But in fact, marketers should embrace showrooming as well as its more modern corollary, “webrooming,” when consumers research products online and then head to stores to make final purchases.

If you’re providing a cross channel experience, the company maintains a single view of the customer across every platform, as well as in-person. That valuable cross channel initiative meets customers where they are and can anticipate their needs by making suggestions based on their channel of choice, past purchases and even search history.

First-time visitors won’t get lost when they change channels. They’ll reappear and be able to engage seamlessly.

3. Reset and Correct the Conversation

Despite best efforts to target and segment customers or personalize messages, company communications tend to be reactive and based on your company’s calendar, not the customers’ needs.

Using preferences provided by the customers themselves empowers marketers to act on stated expectations. Self-reported customer data, paired with proactive communications, allows customers to correct the conversation – responding, guiding, and ultimately asking for more brand-driven conversations on their terms.

Breakthrough customer loyalty is driven by conversations, not campaigns. The faster your company reacts to data gleaned over the holidays and tunes communications to respect your customer’s 2016 needs, the better.

The first quarter is prime time to act on new customer data – ensuring your future loyalists can opt-in for more information, engage on their terms and share their preferences to customize the conversation.

Learn more about building these experiences with your customers both in-store and online with the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross Channel Marketing.

Author Bio: Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today.

Tear Down the Silos: 5 Steps to Improving Customer Acquisition

Reaching and creating new customers can be difficult in today’s hyper-connected world. Marketers are deploying a myriad of programs, processes and technologies to deliver on their customer acquisition goals. Despite advanced tools and data-rich customer engagement and automated marketing platforms, this effort is often not effective because of long-standing organizational and data silos that create incomplete customer and program information. This disconnectedness, in turn, creates not only unpredictable results, but often a less-than-stellar customer experience. Not good.

No single technology will connect the mish-mash of programs, processes and technologies marketers are utilizing. However, when you look at marketing teams that are delivering exceptional customer acquisition outcomes, you observe that they have figured out how to make the “front-end” prospect and customer engagement effort fully integrated with the “back-end” systems and processes. In essence, they have focused on tearing down silos and they have developed a full view of what’s needed to create and delight customers.

Marketing’s Front- and Back-End Defined

The marketing front-end is defined as the strategies and tactics (media channels and budget, for example) marketers deploy to discover and engage prospective customers. It’s the customer-facing side of marketing such as demand gen, digital marketing, event marketing and social media efforts.

The back-end, commonly referred to as the stack, is the infrastructure through which all the available information needed by the marketing team (and other departments) is stored and accessed. This includes the technology and processes marketers use to track and manage customer data, report on and analyze campaign performance, transfer data between teams and departments, deliver unique experiences, etc.

By design, the front end team and back end teams have specific roles and often unique missions. It’s really easy for demand gen teams to fixate on the size of the media budget or the glitz of where content or ad messages are placed, for example. At the same time, your marketing ops team (data ninjas and tech types) can become enamored by the coolness of the latest technology. These conflicting views can perpetuate a divided, myopic focus that is good for them, but not necessarily for the company-wide customer effort.

Total customer acquisition and satisfaction results are what matter, not individual or functional greatness. Customer acquisition outcomes are simply better when these worlds are connected. So, how can marketing teams erase years of entrenched, functional thinking to improve results?

Here are 5 steps to take to become more integrated and drive better end-game customer acquisition results.

1. Start by visualizing your current environment so you know where to focus

To get things rolling, you first have to understand your current state and capture a complete view. One powerful tool is to use a marketing technology blueprint. This effort inventories your current marketing technology and the company’s front- to back-end processes and data flows. The goal is to identify gaps, silos, chokepoints and unnecessary overlap. This information is then all visualized in a simple diagram (or set of diagrams) to provide a complete picture. This blueprint also serves as an invaluable communications tool to get all stakeholders – including your external media and tech vendors – on the same page. You now have the complete picture to start making decisions, based on business goals and priorities, on how to achieve a fully integrated customer effort.

2. Let the data be your guide for change, process be your path to get there

Next, it is time conduct a thorough data auditing exercise to assess where your full customer acquisition effort stands. Pulling customer, program and system performance analytics – even if it is from multiple systems and sources – is a valuable source of your current reality to identify inhibiting silos and gaps and to use this data to make positive changes. Too often, this data audit effort is done at a functional level, masking the real issues and the single view of what’s needed. Once you understand both the critical and missing data you can now prioritize what changes (blow up or simple tweaks) need to be made in roles, tools and processes. In fact, many marketing executives identify process adjustment as the biggest impact to integrate front and back-end efforts to deliver much improved results.

3. Deploy a steering group comprised of stakeholders to drive tech investment

No matter the size of your company, one of the most effective ways to get all aspects of your marketing effort integrated is to pull together a working group represented by the core functions to help make decisions that benefit the collective business, first. For smaller organizations, it may be a handful or fewer people. For a global entity, it could be a dozen or so. This is not about size, politics or bureaucracy. Rather, it’s about getting a group of diverse people focused on delivering improved company results. This steering group leads the blueprint and data audit exercise and shares this transparently with all functions.

4. Marketing “role swap” so everybody gets the full picture

Many CMOs report using a “walk in their shoes” approach to help with change efforts to achieve the full view. Empathy (not just sympathy) is a powerful emotion that can power collaboration and integration, especially in marketing. For example, if the demand gen person experiences what has to be done by the back-end ops team to process, clean and upload the data generated from campaigns, you can guarantee they will be much smarter on the front end about how they generate and contract for data. This new level of true understanding can help bust silos and get all functions focused on what’s need to be done to achieve bigger, better outcomes.

5. Employ “if it doesn’t connect, don’t make the bet” rule

This is an important message for marketing executives who have to prioritize and make choices every day. Marketers often invest in a program, technology or new process because it is leading edge or cool or a competitor is doing it. However, it doesn’t matter how much potential that individual component has, if it doesn’t integrate with the rest of the systems, processes and data, it likely will cause challenges down the road that will bog down the collective effort to hit goals. This is not a message to not invest in innovative marketing stuff; rather, make working with what you’ve got or integration a key criteria for investment or deployment.

Customer acquisition and satisfaction is the core charter of marketing today. It is critical marketing executives gets serious about tearing down silos that are inhibiting the best performance possible. This starts with a front-end to back-end, integrated mind set and a game plan that taps into the current data, processes, tech and people to make needed changes that will determine your future success. 

A key element of this integrated approach to customer acquisition is marketing automation. Marketing Automation Simplified is your guide to thinking through the process for your business.

Author's Bio: Scott Vaughan is Chief Marketing Officer at Integrate.

5 Ways Video will Transform Digital Marketing in 2016

2015 saw some incredible growth in the use of video content by marketers in both B2C and B2B markets. But more importantly, it also saw some staggering shifts in how marketers are using video and the kinds of results it’s helping them generate.

No longer just a tool for brand awareness, top marketers are now using video throughout the funnel to better engage and educate prospects, enhance lead scoring and nurture streams, and boost overall conversion rates. Now that marketers are getting comfortable with video as a content medium for both brand and demand, the real fun begins.

Here are my top 5 predictions for video marketing in 2016, and what you'll want to consider as you plan your year. 

 1. Video Puts Email Marketing Back on the MAP

Email marketing is a critical component of most modern marketing programs, but many marketers are starting to see diminishing returns and falling click-through rates. Everyone’s inbox is inundated with messages. It’s hard enough to get a response from someone expecting your email, let alone from someone who doesn’t know you and is wary of a sales pitch. Video has been proven to be a highly effective way to cut through the clutter and boost engagement in email marketing campaigns. A 2015 GetResponse study of one billion emails found those containing video had a 96% higher click-through rate than those without. And for more advanced marketers, the use of 1-to-1 personalized videos in email marketing campaigns can boost click-through rates by 200%-1500% (more on that later!). In 2016, we’ll see marketers embrace these lessons, which will not only improve email marketing performance but also return email to its important spot as a lead generator feeding data into our marketing automation platforms.  

2. Video Goes from Passive to Interactive

Last year we saw a significant increase in the use of interactive videos to create two-way conversations with digital audiences and to drive more engagement in content marketing programs, particularly in B2B markets. In 2016, marketers will start leveraging interactivity at scale and will start to use embedded forms, questionnaires, surveys, and other types of interactive elements to pull viewers into the story and to gather additional interest and intent data. 2016 will also see the rise of “choose-your-own-adventure” style videos that will enable viewers to self-select their content journey and create a customized learning path without having to search for different content assets. The key for marketers is to build an interactive experience that fits seamlessly within the video so it doesn’t detract from the video experience itself.

3. Let’s Get Personal

We all know that personalization is a huge trend in digital marketing. From the early days of adding a name to an email to modern techniques for dynamic personalization of content, the data proves that personalizing both the content itself and the content journey can have significant impact on results. In 2016 we'll see the rise of 1-to-1 video personalization, offering a huge opportunity for innovative marketers to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by their prospects.

As effective as video is by itself, tailoring it to a specific person is even better. The opportunity now exists, at scale, to weave in the viewer’s name, company logo or photo from LinkedIn directly into a video to draw them into the story and create a unique and memorable experience. Here at Vidyard, we’ve seen huge improvement in click-through rates when we personalize videos with the recipient’s name in the splash screen image.

At a conference last year, one of the things we did was offer a coffee bar at our booth. Obviously, we aren’t the only ones who do that. But we were the only ones who sent personalized videos to attendees before the conference inviting them to stop by. You can see in the screenshot below the cup already has Jenelle’s name on it. She clicked on the video – and stopped by the booth. Video personalization enables us to send videos that not only tell our story but show how it is the recipient’s story too.


For some additional inspiration on personalized video, check out some other examples, including the Hangover movie parody we created for Oracle Modern Marketing Experience 2015 as a fun way to invite attendees to a party at the event.

4. Sales Takes a Page out of the Marketing Handbook

Videos are powerful marketing tools, but they're even more powerful sales tools. In fact, in a recent research report by Ascend2, the companies that are seeing the greatest success with video marketing ranked the effectiveness of different types of videos in the following order:

1. Customer testimonials

2. On-demand product demonstration videos

3. Explainer and tutorial videos

4. Thought leader interviews

5. Project reviews and case studies

6. Live and on-demand webinars

7. Video blogs

8. Event videos

Note that “bottom-of-the-funnel” content like customer testimonials and on-demand product demos lead the list, which may seem somewhat surprising. But if you think about it, this is the content that sits closest to new revenue. Marketers will start to empower sales teams with targeted video content to help them sell, demo, and prove their solution is the best in the market. More and more sales teams will be empowered to create customized and personalized videos to share with prospects to bring the human element back into the selling process. Video is the next best thing to being with someone in person.

5. Video Goes from Outsourced to In-house

For many businesses, video marketing and video production are becoming a core competency, no different from writing, content marketing, PR, and social media. In 2016 we'll see more businesses investing in in-house video production and video marketing capabilities, from hiring creative directors to building out modest video studios to empowering teams across the organization with the tools and processes they need to get video content delivered quickly and at scale. External agency partners will continue to be important, but many more businesses in 2016 will use internal resources to produce product demos, customer testimonials, thought leadership interviews, campaign videos, and the list goes on.

Video has come a long way in the last few years. Content, both for information and entertainment, is getting better all the time. Organizations are getting more strategic with how they use video. They’re taking advantage of the data that comes with it to see what works and what doesn’t. However, when I think about the full potential for video across Sales and Marketing in both B2B and B2C, I can see that we’re still in the early days. In 2016, we’ll see more organizations realize that potential, and more will continue to push the boundaries further. Get ready to press fast forward.

Read what global marketing experts predict for the Future of Modern Marketing in 2016.

Author's Bio: Tyler Lessard is CMO of Vidyard, a leading video marketing and analytics platform.

The Four C’s of Marketing Orchestration Testing

Working within the Strategic Services team, one of our core competencies is to empower our clients to get the best out of the platforms that they use by doing many different things; one of the most important is testing! How many times have you sat around and thought “What should I test to increase my marketing’s effectiveness?” or even better, the simple solution to an argument with a colleague “Why don’t we just test it”. 

But testing for the sake of testing is downright dangerous, costly and most of all a waste of time. So what should we test?

Let me introduce, the four C’s of marketing orchestration testing. 

1. Content
Probably the most obvious of all the four C’s. I have seen Open Rates of emails go up by 20% due to a well-crafted subject line, conversion rates go down because a GIF like video (it was roughly 30 seconds long) was placed into the email and I’ve seen conversion rates increase because the call to action (CTA) changed to two simple words.

So when we are looking at content, what should we be testing?

− Subject lines
− CTAs
− Personalisation
− Dynamic content
− Animation

2. Campaign

One of the most amazing things about digital marketing is that a minor change in a campaign can have a monumental impact… not to mention campaign is the most fun to test. I’m talking about testing engagement, I’m talking about landing pages, do you have one? Do you need one? Deep linking, the design, is the campaign programmatic and is it mobile optimised? That’s why testing campaign is fun:

− Engagement
− Landing pages
− Design
− Deep linking
− Programmatic
− Mobile Optimised

3. Customer

The holy grail of database marketing. The customer and what we know about them. Now whilst this is fun (ok… it’s all fun), this particular C is also the hardest. This is when we start to test engagement, not campaign engagement but customer engagement, has a particular group engaged within the last 6 months? This is when we start to sift through the data and find segments of customers to test with various Content (C ²… amazing). If we look at purchase behavior we can then look at purchase intent! If we have intent and purchase behavior, maybe we can do predication modeling and basket analysis. Now you can see why this C is the hardest!

− Customer Engagement (not campaign engagement)
− Database Segmentation
− Purchase Behavior
− Purchase Intent
− Prediction modeling and basket analysis

4. Channel

So how should we test channel? We should look at what channel a customer entered from, look at what has triggered off a communication and where a customer is in the journey and is there a need for a new channel. The biggest and most important reason for testing channel… if you have been testing Customer Engagement, you will find out that you have customers that have not interacted at all (around 5-10%) and you will also find out you have a large proportion of customers who haven’t engaged in 270+ days. So you tell me… if a customer hasn’t engaged in 270+ days, is this a content, campaign or customer issue? Possibly, but it is more likely a channel issue.

− Channel entry
− Program entry
− Channel engagement
− Channel need

So now we have some structure for all our tests: Content, Campaign, Customer and Channel. The four C’s of testing will help you stop to testing for the sake of testing… please stop doing that… seriously.

Effective cross-channel marketing is vital for any brand's overall success in today's world. Download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross-Channel Marketing and start creating the most cohesive, valuable, and frictionless customer experience possible. 

Author's Bio: Ben Fettes is a strategist with 10 years agency experience, Ben has worked on some of Australia’s largest brands and is currently the lead strategist across APAC financial and airline industries with experience in both B2B and B2C marketing automation strategies. Ben prides himself on finding actionable insights that drive revenue for clients cross-channel marketing efforts.

Content: Not Another Channel

Content this, content that. Content marketing, content strategy. Everyone's talking content, all the time.

The question being most frequently asked is: who's responsible for all this content. Is it communications? PR? Social media? Marketing in general? 

The honest answer to all those questions is yes. All these divisions (and more) play a role in content marketing and in content strategy. 

Too many marketers, and the organizations they represent, mistakenly view content as a channel. Like social media, email, search, media, or direct marketing, they want content to be departmentalized, siloed, circumscribed, and cleanly defined.

Content does indeed require an enormous amount of domain expertise.  A content strategy is required to set goals for content marketing initiatives, and to define how those goals will be measured. Editors and project managers work to build governance around those goals and define how content will be created, approved, distributed, find an audience, be measured, optimized, conform to checks and guidelines (e.g. legal and brand). Within this paradigm areas of hyper-specialization might exist: web and app developers, writers, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, editors, legal – the list can go on nearly ad infinitum.

And that's not to mention the involvement of the aforementioned channels: search, email, media, and social media are just the beginning. All of these require content to function. 

Email is a container for content. Search optimizes content. In advertising, content masquerades as "creative" (because it's more expensive), but at the end of the day, that's just a gussied-up word that means content. Social platforms and websites would be dismal destinations indeed were they not continually refreshed with content. 

Essentially, content is the lifeblood of digital and offline channels, but content itself is not a channel.

Still, marketers have difficulties seeing past channels, which is why content struggles to gain a foothold across the enterprise. Like converged media, content requires players throughout the marketing department and indeed, across the organization, to collaborate and to align. 

Precious few content initiatives these days happen without paid media, for example. Whether social promotion or ads that drive audiences to content executions, media and by extension, advertising, are integral to content campaigns. Yet content and advertising are still viewed by the overwhelming number of companies (with notable exceptions, such as Intel) as very different divisions, the Mars and Venus of marketing.

Search teams, email teams, more often than not look to disparate sources for content, leading to inconsistencies in voice, tone, look and feel. If content (and brand) aren't aligned across a panoply of paid, owned and earned media channels (that become more numerous each month), they risk consumers not recognizing the brand, voice, message or product as they flit across media, channels, screens and devices.

A text, and email message and a banner ad have little in common, other than the fact that all are, in the end, content delivery systems.

Here's where organizations will be challenged in the coming months and years. They will go out and build content teams. In fact, they already are. We’re seeing hiring move up gradually from manager/director level roles to VP-and-higher job descriptions with "content" or "editor" in the title.

But those roles can't be siloed off. They can and must be defined as being on par with, equal to, and collaborative with all the channel-centric marketing initiatives the enterprise undertakes. 

That can only happen with this one big step forward, more of a mindset challenge than we’d collectively realized when embarking on this content journey. 

Content is not a channel.

To start thinking about your own company's content efforts as a broad initiative that crosses all channels, download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing.

Author Bio: Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist. Her areas of specialization are digital marketing and media, with a concentration in content strategy, content marketing and converged media. She works with many of the world's leading brands on digital marketing innovation. Clients range from start-up to non-profits to Fortune 100 brands and regulated industries, including Facebook, Home Depot, Nestlé, Anthem, Adobe, Honeywell, DuPont, Fidelity, Gannett, IBM, Save the Children, Pinterest, Cisco, ad and PR agencies, and The Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Author Bio: Larry Levy served as the Co-Founder and CEO of Appinions Inc prior to its acquisition by ScribbleLive, where he now sits as the SVP. As a serial entrepreneur, Larry brings a wealth of hands-on experience. Prior to Appinions, Larry served as co-founder and CEO of Semagix Group, which was sold to Warburg Pincus in 2006. Larry was also the founder and CEO of Protégé Holdings, recognized as an “Upside 100” company, as well as the founder of Citria and Delrina Europe. He holds a BCom and BAcc from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and is a chartered accountant CA(SA).



Holiday Spending in 2015: Who’s Planning to Spend More This Year?

A little backstory if I may before I get to my post. In 2014, in partnership with Oracle Marketing Cloud, I led a fascinating two-part research study into the minds and habits of holiday shoppers. Surveys conducted in October 2014, and late 2014 looked to compare and contrast the differences between what holiday shoppers say they will do vs. what they actually do. 

The findings were quite intriguing, to say the least.

For example, the overall amount of money a consumer was expected to spend on average via holiday shopping was $791. In reality however, that number was $876, an increase of 11% over the expected amount. 

We are conducting the same two-part research again this year and while the post-holiday numbers are not ready, of course, we do know the expected or anticipated amount from our October 2015 study of over 1000 Holiday Shoppers, and that amount ($829) represents a small increase over last year’s expected $791.

Women Increase Spend 

As you can see from the chart above, when you compare the top set of numbers with the bottom set of numbers, men are actually planning to spend slightly less this year than they planned to spend last year. Of course, as you can see from last year’s actual spend (the middle set of numbers, above) men don’t necessarily stick to their budgets!

But take a look the amount women are expected to spend ($734) over last year’s projected spend ($646). That’s an increase of 14%. And there’s good reason to believe that women actually will spend more than they did last year: if you look at what they said would spend in 2014 ($646) vs. what they actually did spend ($651), the numbers are very close.  

As to why women plan on spending more this year, the reason may be simple. 

In a blog post last week my colleague Melissa DeCesare, referenced research conducted by The Research Moms. As DeCesare writes “The research shows that moms are very positive toward holiday shopping, with two thirds (66%) saying they love it. Another 24% said they shop because they have to and just 8% said it is the worst part of the season. A small group, (2%) said they don’t give gifts.”

So, for 2015, we have a number of factors in play. We have women telling us that they love holiday shopping, and telling us they plan to spend not only more than they planned to spend last year, but more than they actually spent last year. And we have signs of economic confidence, such as the Fed’s recent hike in short-term interest rates. These, and other factors, may contribute to a very happy holiday season, indeed, for retailers.

As I mentioned we are conducting the same research again this year and we will release the findings of that in early 2016. In the meantime, however, be sure to download Turning 2014's Holiday Trends into 2015 Revenue and get a full view into all the findings from last year's research. 

Author's Bio: Tom Webster is Vice President of Strategy for Edison Research. He is a specialist in consumer behavior, and has spent nearly 20 years telling stories with numbers and trying to gain insights from data.

Uncovering 5 Hidden Gems in Your Marketing Data

As a kid growing up in the 80s, I was obsessed with collecting things: rocks, action figures, books, comics, coins, baseball cards, video games and a panoply of other stuff ranging from serious to absurd. One fall, I even spent a week collecting grocery bags full of acorns, just because I thought acorns were cool. To this day, the junk drawers of my parents’ house are overflowing with the artifacts of my acquisitive childhood.

What I realized as I grew up is that not all these collections were of equal value. For example, the acorns quickly rotted and infested my closet with tiny bugs. Other things, like the rocks, turned out to have hidden beauty: my dad and I got a rock tumbler and spent weeks polishing them into shiny gems, which I still keep in a bowl on my coffee table. The most valuable things were those that forged stronger bonds with friends and family.

5 Hidden Gems in Your Marketing Data

In today’s world of limitless data, marketers find themselves in a similar quandary. There is a strong temptation to collect all types of data simply because it’s cool or available. It’s no wonder that 82% of CMO’s feel unprepared to deal with the explosion of data. As data-driven marketing matures, it’s time for us to step back and ask ourselves what data is truly valuable for growing relationships. It’s less about amassing data in our CRMs, DMPs, and marketing automation platforms, and more about inspiring connections with our customers.

Marketers need to consider the possibility that they already possess much of the data they need. Like polishing rough stones, the focus needs to be on refining and putting that data to use to drive growth. With that in mind, here are five types of data that, while often overlooked and underused, have the potential to transform your marketing efforts:

1. Identity data – All the data you collect is useless without a way to tie it all together. Building omni-channel relationships requires data to be consistent and available across all channels. This includes capturing the identity of anonymous web visitors for personalization and linking together CRM and marketing automation data for alignment with sales.

While basic identity data isn’t sexy, it’s critical to breaking down data silos and building a consistent customer experience. For example, two inquiries from the same prospect could create duplicate records in your CRM that prompt follow up calls from two different sales reps. This type of negative experience can be avoided by using identity data to build a single view of customers across channels.

2. Connection data – Have you considered how your customer and prospect records are connected through legal, social and organizational relationships? While marketers often treat contacts as isolated targets, the truth is that they are often deeply interrelated. For example, one prospect in your database may work for the subsidiary of one of your customers. Another two contacts may work for the same VP, or they may be connected through social networks and share articles with each other (shockingly, only 55% of marketers use insights from social data). Finding these missing links between people and business entities is crucial to how you segment, route and communicate with your potential buyers.

3. Signal data – From the background noise of clicks, opens and bounces, successful marketers are using data analysis to extract signals about what their customers really like and don’t like. This signal-based preference data can be extremely powerful, especially when married with traditional firmographic and demographic profile data.

For example, signal data mapped to firmographic data can actually tell you that your target audience (let’s say marketers at high growth tech companies) are not engaging with your nurture programs, while a persona of less focus (let’s say marketers of b2c retail companies) are much more engaged. Perhaps your lead gen efforts are focusing on the wrong industry? Read more about signal data.

4. Onboarding data – Closely tracking and collecting data from your customer onboarding process can have a huge effect on loyalty and attrition. For example, capturing customer business goals as they come onboard can help you build segments and, then, content that aligns closely with customer needs. Collecting implementation requirements can help keep customers happy and on track with their experience. Read more about onboarding data.

5. Fiscal calendar data – Fiscal years have a huge impact on buying cycles. Companies typically plan and set budgets near the beginning of their fiscal year and often spend surplus budget near the end.

Aligning your messaging and sales outreach with these cycles is critical to successful timing. For example, if you are selling advertising and reach a marketing director as they are trying to spend a budget surplus, you stand a much greater chance of success.

This list provides a starting point for marketers to discover their own hidden gems. The data that is really important for you depends on the unique nature of your business and your customers. What matters is that marketers start asking the right questions about how they collect and use data to forge better relationships. Trying to collect everything won’t lead to success. Polishing and mining a limited set of data can help you uncover what’s really valuable in your data. When it comes to data collection, the trick is in telling the rocks from the acorns.

To get started thinking about your own gems in your data, download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Data Management.

Author's Bio: Lucas Rotondo is Senior Director of Marketing at Dun Bradstreet. Lucas is responsible for global marketing of Dun & Bradstreet’s Sales & Marketing Solutions and has 10 years experience in the B2B data industry. When not researching marketing trends and developing strategies, Lucas enjoys playing guitar and catching up on technology news.