Author: Jeff Cohen

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide from the Importance of Data in Modern Marketing

Marketing equals data and data equals marketing. These two things go hand in hand as marketing technology becomes a bigger driver in marketing itself. So it is no surprise that when we asked global marketing experts about marketing in 2017, many of them came back with predictions about data-driven marketing.

And whether that is specifically related to connecting the right data across disparate tools, collecting the right data, focusing on the right data, or even just paying attention to measuring anything at all, data will be a bigger part of what all marketing looks now and in the future.

The thing that will make the most impact on modern marketing in 2017 will be data integration. Unifying the ridiculously fragmented marketing stack is the biggest challenge facing almost every sales and marketing team today. Every silo – whether it's a channel silo or a marketing app silo or an internal organizational silo – both consumes and generates data. Until we can link them up around some common dimensions (like customer IDs), we can't realize the big promise of insanely great marketing experiences across all channels. - Doug Kessler (@dougkessler), Co-founder and Creative Director, Velocity         

Surprising enough, 70% of companies are said to still not be collecting data from social media channels. If this is true, the potential for data-driven marketing to have a huge impact in Modern Marketing in 2017 is clear. From content marketing and social advertising optimization to ideas for developing new products, social media marketing will become a more data-driven exercise. 2017 should become a turning point year as social networks and tools that tap into their data-rich APIs offer marketers more data than ever to help them optimize a wide range of marketing functions. - Neal Schaffer (@nealschaffer) CEO, Maximize Your Social

The only definite way to make a larger impact in 2017 is to focus on the most important metrics for your job and ignore all the shiny objects. 80% of CEOs are not impressed by the work done by marketers and believe marketers are poor business performers. Is Snapchat or more video going to fix that? Maybe… but, if your goal is to drive qualified sales leads, then you better drive qualified sales leads in 2017. - Chris Moody (@cnmoody) Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital 

I believe the biggest impact for modern marketing will be the skills development of B2B marketers to handle the challenges presented to a modern marketer.  Forrester reports that 96% of CMOs say they are being asked to do things they never had to do before, while according to ANNUITAS, only 8% of B2B marketers say they are very effective.  If you want impact, enable and equip your people to make it. - Carlos Hidalgo (@cahidalgo) CEO, ANNUITAS

Read what other global marketing experts think about 2017 by downloading the Future of Modern Marketing: 2017.


Customer Experience is the Most Critical Part of Marketing Right Now

89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator, according to Gartner. That is quite a high number. That means you need to pay extra close attention to the words of our global Modern Marketing experts when they talk about customer experience.

This starts with every interact a customer has with your brand, but it includes the technology you leverage to make those engagements happen, as well as how your people manage those tools. 

The notion of customer experience should not be underestimated as a key function of marketing moving into 2017. Read on for specifics.

One thing that’s going to have a pretty big impact on marketing in 2017 is a much greater sophistication on the part of brands using marketing technology. The integration of marketing technology platforms will allow brands to create much better experiences across channels for the customers that they are trying to reach. - Lee Odden (@LeeOdden), CEO, TopRank Marketing

In 2017 marketers will not just look outside their organizations, but they will look inside their organizations to tell their stories to get everybody on the same page. Marketing is really the center of the customer experience and marketers increasingly own that by telling that story to prospects, to customers, and to their audiences. But telling their story internally is something I’ve seen more and more in 2016 and I think we are going to see a lot more of in 2017. - Ann Handley (@annhandley), Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs     

Building on a trend from 2016 – the mainstreaming of marketing technologists as an integral part of the modern marketing team – the trend in 2017 will be for marketing executives to rise above the whirlwind of marketing technology systems and focus on developing organizational capital to unlock the real potential of these tools. The best marketers in 2017 will concentrate their efforts on reimagining processes and management methods to help their people better leverage software-powered marketing. - Scott Brinker (@chiefmartec), Editor,    

The greatest impact on Modern Marketing in 2017 will be the mass embrace of messaging apps and bots to interact with B2C and B2B customers. The long-rumored replacement for email will begin becoming a reality, as 2 billion people are expected to use these apps routinely by 2018. - Jay Baer (@Jaybaer), President, Convince & Convert       

I expect to see a steep uplift in the use of immersive technology from brands – further enhancing the customer experience through a new wave of content marketing. Virtual and augmented reality is all the rage, with 360 and dynamic video close behind. More than 12 million virtual reality headsets will be sold in 2017, with sales of augmented reality smart glasses expected to be worth $1.2 billion in the same year. - Sam Hurley (@Sam___Hurley), Founder, OPTIM-EYEZ        

To read what other global Modern Marketers predicted for marketing this year, download the Future of Modern Marketing 2017.

Taking Your Content the Extra Mile By Marketing to Marketers, Earning Trust, and Mastering the …

With many not-so-successful ABM implementations, an overload of Pokemon Go content, and increasing obstacles because of ad blockers it’s not surprising so many marketers are embracing a new year. To kick off this year, Randy Frisch and I have an inspirational lineup of content marketers to help you with your 2017 content marketing strategy.

Through our conversations with Travis Wright, Nick Steeves, Claire Suellentrop, Jess Ostroff, and Pamela Muldoon, you will learn the best insights to make the most of your content marketing. 

Tune in to a Content Pros episode while you’re on a run, commuting home, or out for a coffee break. Our guests will fill your ears with goodness.

The Real Impact of Content on Social Selling

Travis Wright, CMO and Chief Marketing Technologist at CCP.Digital, knows that content plays a massive role in the three major digital trends of today: social business, marketing technology, and customer experience. Social selling and content marketing are a match made in heaven when it comes to these trends, but to preserve its impact, marketers need to guarantee its acceptance on all levels of the business.

To ensure that social selling is successful in your company, start with business strategy and goals, only then following with a focus on technology. By starting with strategy, marketers can ensure that they build social content into the very fabric of an organization

After strategy comes action, and that involves creating not one, but two content funnels. By creating a strategy for each, your content will be hitting the right eyes at the right time and for the right purpose.

Listen in now to hear more from Travis on: 

  • Why successful social selling means the entire organization needs to be socially savvy
  • How flexible content marketing means being ready to react to everything at any time
  • Why combining technology with excellent service means developing account-based content advertising
How a Microsite Can Take Your Content to the Next Level

Pop-ups are often thought of as necessary but also as cumbersome, annoying, and sometimes destructive when it comes to moving a prospect along the funnel. However, it is possible to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to conversions and pop-ups.

Nick Steeves, Chief Product Officer at Wishpond, has cultivated a career in successfully using pop-ups to turn prospects into leads and leads into sales. Through careful targeting and contextual CTAs, he takes the sting out of those previously pesky pop-ups and makes them an invaluable marketing tool.

He also has the in-depth knowledge in marketing required to actually market to the well-versed and wary audience of marketers themselves. When it comes to this group, it’s about losing the tricks and focusing on providing a no-nonsense value offer.

Click here for more on Nick’s proven approach:

  • How effective, targeted pop-up management leads customers beyond annoyance to conversion
  • How creating a microsite can lead to keyword dominance
  • Why a convincing call-to-action means moving the CTA from the bottom to the top
How to Find Startup Success Through Content

Starting a business is a risky venture with a lot at stake: money, reputation, career, and the list goes on. Before embarking on this exciting and terrifying adventure, many entrepreneurs do their best to ensure success by creating a solid business plan.

For Claire Suellentrop, Director of Marketing at Calendly, a proper business plan should take a fresh look at content marketing and understand how it can be used to fuel business growth.
By focusing on building the organization as a whole instead of just “staying in your (marketing department) lane,” content marketers can have an enormous impact on the growth and longevity of a startup, making themselves an invaluable asset to any organization.

A few highlights from my conversation with Claire:

  • Why content marketing for a startup means a blending marketing with sales and infusing it throughout the organization
  • How understanding and adapting to the current stage of growth for your company leads to more successful content
  • Why developing impactful content around customer success means rolling up your sleeves and diving into data
The Secret to Exponential Brand Growth Through Podcasting and Atomization

Listeners benefit from informative, entertaining shows that fit perfectly in the hectic, multi-tasking, on-the-go lifestyle common to so many of us these days. But what does a brand get out of producing a podcast?

If you ask Jess Ostroff, Managing Editor and Executive Producer for Convince & Convert, podcasting is one of the best ways for a brand to build credibility and connections with their audience. It gives a unique depth to your company’s presence that is not replicated through any other social media platform out there; it literally gives your brand a voice. 

When presented with a choice in the marketplace, a buyer will go with the one they trust, and by focusing on podcasting development, that choice can be you.

It’s not too late to hear from Jess about:

  • How the evolving world of marketing leads to learning on the fly
  • Why producing in the modern media realm means doubling as IT support
  • How content atomization leads to wider reach and greater insight into what your audience wants
Taking Your Content the Extra Mile

We pour hours of our time and endless amounts of energy into creating single pieces of content that address particular concerns or work towards a certain goal (sales, campaign, metrics, etc.). But what happens to that content once the goal is met?

Pamela Muldoon, Revenue Marketing Coach for The Pedowitz Group, believes that content has multiple lives to lead along our buyer’s journey. By thoughtfully repurposing old content, you not only save time and money, but you also ensure all your buyers find stories that appeal to them and help them along the funnel to conversion.

But for a content marketer to harness the full power of content recycling, they must have organization, dedication, and a champion that understands the impact of properly framed conversations.

Here are three insights to look forward to in this episode:

  • Why being a subject matter expert means putting content updates into your workflow
  • How reframing content for individual personas leads to a fresh, impactful look at old ideas
  • How an internal content champion leads to successful campaigns in even the most regulated of industries

Before you go and listen to these informative episodes, grab a copy of The Future of Content Marketing, to think about what comes next after you implement all the great ideas from this month's guests.

The Future of Content Marketing

Marketing was Hard in 2016. Marketing Automation Helped Those Who Used It.

As we move into 2017, it is instructive to look back at 2016. With more data available than ever, marketing automation was a critical component of B2B marketers' tech stack. Below are some thoughts from Modern Marketing experts about marketing automation. We asked each to provide a data point as inspiration for their views.

It was a broad and complex landscape for digital marketers in 2016 and beyond. We have a highly diverse environment with search, content, email, online ads, and the myriad social networks which means that marketers are ever more time challenged and are often struggling to cover all the digital bases. Marketing automation, to some extent, helps address these issues and provides a highly personalised approach to marketing that has the potential to save time. Implementation is not always easy and things may have to get worse before they get better, but a committed approach to automating your pipeline will improve results and ROI on your marketing budgets. (data inspiration)
- Marcus Miller (@marcusbowlerhat), Digital Marketing Strategist, Bowler Hat         

The biggest impact in 2016 has been the continued complexity of B2B buyers who now buy in committees. This means we no longer are focused on one decision maker, but more than six individuals, on average, who all have their own view, motivations, and biases to a purchase. Marketers are still struggling in terms of content marketing and demand generation according to recent research and the growing complexity will continue to make it more challenging. (data inspiration)
- Carlos Hidalgo (@cahidalgo), CEO, ANNUITAS              

Predictive marketing kicks marketing automation up to the next gear. Being able to better prioritize leads, and rate new leads prior to sales engagement makes double digit increases in close rates possible. (data inspiration)
- John J. Wall (@johnjwall), Producer, Marketing Over Coffee  

Marketing's increased focus on sales enablement is directly and dramatically increasing sales conversion rates. According to a study earlier this year by Heinz Marketing and Highspot, more than 50% of companies that have committed to sales enablement efforts have experienced increases in sales conversion rates of greater than 10%. A full 23% of companies have seen conversion rates increase by 20% or more, and 11% have increased their conversion rate by greater than 30%. (data inspiration)
- Matt Heinz (@heinzmarketing), President, Heinz Marketing

Read what these experts and others predict for Modern Marketing in 2017 by downloading The Future of Modern Marketing: 2017


Analysis: Marketing Conferences are Better Than Ice Cream

Some days instead of writing about marketing I want to write about ice cream. Today is one of those days.

I’ve been sitting at my desk daydreaming about Mint Chocolate Chip. I’m not a purist, so I don’t care if it is green or white, but the combination of creamy mint and the crunch of the chocolate has always hit the spot since childhood. I don’t even mind that the chocolate gets stuck in my molars and i have to dig it out.

The variety of flavor choices is just the beginning. Cup or cone. Hot fudge or sprinkles. Ooh, and you can’t forget Magic Shell.

But as much as I want to write about ice cream, I still find myself having to write about marketing. And in today’s case, marketing conferences. Marketing conferences are a lot like ice cream.

1. Choices Galore

While there are not as many ice cream shops as there are Starbucks, as you drive through your town, or any town in America, there are options. And once you get inside even the smallest shops, how many flavors do you get to choose from? These are good problems to have. There are a great variety of marketing conferences to choose from. And once you are there, you can choose from sessions, keynotes, parties, and a whole lot more.

2. Scoop Deeper

If you are like me, you usually only get one scoop. But every once in a while, you just want more ice cream and nothing less than two scoops will do it. If you have been to a marketing conference lately, you will likely find sessions organized in tracks. These tracks will let you really dig into topics from the beginner level all the way to advanced. You have the ability to really pile up the information until you get a brain freeze.

3. Treat Yo Self

Ice cream is a treat that you don’t eat every day. But when you have it, your whole world lights up. Go to a marketing conference. Learn. Have fun. Network. Improve your business. What a way to Treat Yo Self.

4. Helps You Get Social

Another reason we love ice cream, besides how delicious it is, is because it brings us together. Ice cream with friends on a hot summer day in the backyard. A special trip to the ice cream shop. Marketing conferences feel like that too. They bring like-minded people together to enjoy a whole variety of flavors of marketing. And they create great memories of those fun times. If you don’t come away from a marketing conference with a warm hot fudge on ice cream kind of feeling, then you might be doing it wrong.

5. Look for Rock Stars

Besides a couple of guys named Ben and Jerry, the ice cream world is not really full of rock stars. But marketing conferences? They are filled with rock stars. Not only are there celebrities giving keynotes, company subject matter experts, and award-winning customers, but literal rock stars performing exclusive concerts. Even though you may not score a backstage pass for the show, many of the non-musical rock stars are accessible. And not for autographs, but for conversations.

Somehow, some way, I wrote myself to the point that marketing conferences are better than ice cream. I never thought I would get there. But if you’re looking for a great conference to check out, Modern Marketing Experience in Las Vegas in April should be on the list. And there’s no better time to register. The extra-special, ice cream level Super Early Bird price ends January 22.

The Time is Now for the Future of Modern Marketing

We often think that the future is just over the next hill, but when we asked global marketing experts to predict 2017, it seems like the future is already here.

We all know how important it is to collect and analyze the data—now being generated at a rate of 2.5 quintillion bytes daily—to improve the customer experience. Some of us are doing this now, and we expect to do it better in the future.

There are many marketers who have heard this advice before, and for whatever reason, they still have not implemented it. Lack of budget, lack of organizational alignment, or just a lack of a clear strategy to get there are some of the reasons it has not happened. But the time to act is now or you may be looking at a future that is not so bright for your brand.

Technology—including our understanding of it, our education of how to use it, and how it integrates into all of our marketing campaigns and activities—is what the future looks like. You know those doors that silently slide open in space movies as you approach them—well, ok, I guess that happens at the grocery store too—that is what much of marketing technology feels like when implemented correctly. It helps you know what to do and when to do it. And sometimes it can even do it by itself. This is what automation and programmatic done right bring to the marketing stack.

But with all this technology comes great responsibility. Responsibility to the customer experience. Our experts remind us that customer obsession is more important than implementing the latest and greatest. We will ultimately beat our competition with a better customer experience, not just better technology.

We will achieve marketing utopia by focusing on our customers and prospects as more than names in a database, but as individuals with preferences, opinions, and desires. Technology-focused marketing without the customer experience will lead to a dystopian future where The Terminator’s Skynet really has taken over.

Artificial intelligence and chatbots are more pieces of the future of Modern Marketing puzzle, even though this was written without the help of either one. Well, except where I had to look something up with a search engine. That’s a perfect example of how we have been living in the future for years.

We should not fear the future. We should embrace it. Customer experience first, supported by the right technology and data. Download the Future of Modern Marketing: 2017 to read more details about what the experts think is on the road ahead. Buckle up, because it could be a bumpy ride.


A Look Back at Modern Marketing in 2016

Modern Marketing has come a long way in 2016. More leading brands are using marketing technology to better understand their customers and provide a better customer experience than ever before. Data is part of nearly every marketing conversation. Customer obsession and experience is the main focus.

But this has also created a culture of more, more, more. More marketing technology solutions—nearly 4,000 of them—are available than ever before. More marketers are creating more content than ever before. Whether you view the marketing landscape as an embarrassment of riches that provides a myriad of choices for consumers or as a glut of tools and content that causes analysis paralysis and confusion, this was a year that will be remembered.

It was almost as hard to avoid Pokémon Go this year as it was to avoid discussions of the US election. These popular events brought the terms augmented reality and emotional brand connections to the forefront of marketing. They also changed the way many marketers thought about the mobile environment and the app landscape. Months later, we ask questions about customer engagement and what to do when the event is over and nearly all the participants have moved on.

If you are a B2B marketer, this was the year that you announced your account-based marketing capabilities. ABM was everywhere, as it provided positive ROI and the promise of marketing and sales alignment. This approach is something that will quickly become the norm, as adoption of ABM seems to be quite rapid. This may seem like a fad, since fewer marketers will be talking about it in the coming year, but many will already be doing it.

And finally there was a slowdown in 2016 where marketers fought against the tide of more and thought about less. Asking “Why?” and tying our marketing activities to strategies and business goals. Simplifying systems and eliminating data silos. Shifting from transactions to relationships.

Read what Modern Marketing experts told us about the past year in the embedded ebook below. Read it, download it, share it.

And if you want to read what many of these same experts think will come to pass in 2017, download the The Future of Modern Marketing: 2017. This pair of guides will help you get 2017 off to a great start.

Lead Scoring Setup is Not a Set-It and Forget-It Activity

The turn of the calendar is often a good time to review your marketing plans and make sure every thing is on track for success. Platitudes, sure, but without regular reviews of all parts of your marketing funnel and technology set-up, you can’t be sure that you will continue to meet your goals.

Even if your company operates and reports on a fiscal calendar that is different from the calendar year, it is still helpful to look at a calendar year wrap-up to see how you did.

Focus on MQLs

As a marketing organization you may have tracked things like audience building and engagement, but we are going to focus on some harder numbers that directly lead into your marketing funnel. Specifically the MQL, or marketing-qualified leads.

For the sake of this conversation, let’s assume that you have a marketing automation system. If you don’t, 2017 is definitely a good time to explore your options.

Once a prospect fills out a form to download a sparkling ebook, join a brilliant webinar, or attend a fabulous event, and they get into your marketing automation system, the goal is to convert them to an MQL.

Tracking the Right Data

A marketing-qualified lead is defined as a prospect that marketing thinks is likely to become a customer. We know this based on explicit and implicit data that we can gather about the prospect.

The explicit is based on what the prospect gives you, also known as profile fit. These are things like title, company name, pain point / need / interest, and any additional details you need related to what you are offering.

The implicit tracks a prospect's level of engagement. Examples of these are what emails they opened, what pages they visited on your website or blog, what ebooks they downloaded, and even their social media activity.

Once you set up your marketing automation system according to these criteria, it is the system that determines the marketing-qualified leads. Hopefully this was all determined in conjunction with sales, so they agree with the definition of an MQL. If you don’t have sales buy-in of your definitions, this is a good time to get it.

Time to Review Your Results

You need to work backwards from closed sales and determine how your marketing attributes actually aligned with those prospects who became customers. This is often an eye-opening experience.

It is also worth looking at this the other way. What are the attributes of prospects who never become customers? If someone downloads five ebooks, for example, are they more or less likely to become a customer? They could just be educating themselves. And that's okay, as long as you understand that.

When you are looking at the customers who closed, don’t ignore those who didn’t come to sales through your marketing automation system. This could be through cold calling, or other sales-driven initiatives. It’s really important to understand the profiles of these new customers too.

What Needs to Be Updated?

Let’s get back to the details of lead scoring. In addition to having all of these inputs, some of which may be relevant and some of which may not, you have the ability to weigh the importance of each. This lets you collect something that might not be the most important today, but could be useful in the future.

And as with all data on prospects and customers, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Just because you can collect something, but you know it’s never going to come up, consider leaving that one aside.

If you are selling to consumers, a customer’s birthday is a piece of data worth having. A birthday coupon is a simple idea to implement. But when selling to other businesses, this request is an intrusion because you’re never going to send a birthday coupon. Keeping this information in a CRM might be worthwhile so the salesperson can send the birthday wishes directly.

Now is as good a time as any to review your lead scoring based on this past year's results, and the Lead Scoring Guide for Modern Marketers can give you more details on how to improve your setup.

Top 10 Modern Marketing Blog Posts of 2016

As we approach the end of the year it is always instructive to review the top performing blog posts of the past twelve months. As Modern Marketers we need to know what types of posts resonate with our readers. This understanding of our audience helps us plan for the coming year. When things work, you want to do more of them. When they don't, you stop.

The following are the top performing posts from 2016, that were published this year:

Demandbase Launches ABM Solution for Oracle Eloqua Marketing Automation

This product announcement was the top performing post for the year. As we focus most of the content on the blog at the top of the funnel, without a heavy dose of product information, it is instructive to analyze why this post out-performed all others. In a word, or an abbreviation, ABM. The announcement that you could finally do account-based marketing within Eloqua was a really big deal for our audience. This post resonated so much with our audience that we added an ABM category to blog, where we regularly publish stories on the topic. It was a big thing for Modern Marketers in 2016 and it was a big thing for us.

Announcing the 10th Anniversary Markie Award Finalists
Markie Award Winners Show How Modern Marketing is Done

Everyone loves the Markies, and the coverage of the 10th Anniversary of these coveted awards earned two of the top spots in our top ten posts. Both the announcements of the finalists and the winners showed that readers are interested in companies that are executing marketing strategies better than others. These are also posts that appeal to both customers and prospects.

5 Strategic Business Lessons From Game Of Thrones

Pop culture references drive traffic, but they really drive traffic when the posts provide real insights into the topic. This was masterfully demonstrated by one of our strategic consultants. Plus it has a picture of a dragon.

5 Reasons I’m Unsubscribing From Your Emails
Gmail, TLS Encryption and Why Email Marketers Need to Know About It

These two posts are how-to posts for email marketers, both written by internal subject matter experts. The mission of our blog is to help Modern Marketers do their jobs better. These posts show that our readers respond to our mission.

5 Simple Marketing Automation Tips to Improve Conversion

Another how-to post that provides some practical advice from a marketing automation professional.

5 Ways Video will Transform Digital Marketing in 2016
2015: The Modern Marketing Year in Review

Our readers like to know what's coming and where we have been. The first post is from the CMO of one of our partners who stressed the importance of video in the coming year. The second post was part of our look back/look ahead series of content. This was part of an award-winning content campaign with lots of campaign elements driving traffic back to this blog post, among others.

New Gartner Report: Build Your Digital Marketing Hub

And finally, we make sure we share the latest industry analyst reports on our blog to help our prospects learn more about they types of products that they are considering and to help our customers be confident that they have made the right choices in their martech solutions.

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