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A recent survey of B2B companies finds that most are struggling to find and hire marketing talent, particularly in technical roles such as marketing operations.  Results from the survey, conducted by Spear Marketing Group, also concluded that marketers are rapidly adopting a more flexible hiring model, including remote employees, contractors, consultants, and agencies, to help fill the gap created by what Spear calls a “talent crunch.”

The infographic below summarizes some of the key findings from the survey.  More complete results – along with expert analysis and strategies for success – are included in a comprehensive, 19-page “2019 Marketing Talent Crunch Survey Report,” available as a free download from the Spear Website.

Click here to view infographic full size.

The post Infographic: 90+ Percent of B2B Companies Report Marketing Talent Crunch appeared first on The Point.

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Some years ago, our firm conducted a lead management audit for a technology client who was struggling to convert raw, inbound inquiries into sales qualified leads.  During the audit, it became quickly apparent that one of the major issues was at the very front end of the lead qualification process.  

At this particular company, all leads flowed first to a team of Sales Development Reps (SDRs), and were required to be contacted and qualified by that team before proceeding further along the funnel.  As a result, and due to the low rate at which the SDRs were able to engage with those leads, more than 80 percent of inquiries stalled at the very first step of the lead management process.

This anecdote – and others like it – underlines the fact that SDR engagement is a critical factor in the ability of companies to qualify leads and maximize their return from inbound lead generation.  It’s also why the data contained in a new report from Insidesales.com is so compelling.  In their “State of Sales Development: 2018 Report, ” the authors deliver 43 pages of benchmarks and trends that illustrate how today’s leading companies are succeeding in sales development.

As a demand generation marketer, 2 data points from the report stood out:

– contact rates were 400% higher when SDRs used 3+ media types; and
– contact rates increased 100X when a call was attempted within 5 minutes

In the context of the report, the first point argues for SDRs to employ other channels beyond just phone and email.  The second makes the case for fast response times.  But I would argue that both points are also a business case for the integration of automated lead nurturing and sales enablement campaigns into the SDR process.

I’ve written previously in this space about how automated lead nurturing works best, not as a dumping ground for unqualified leads, but as something that works in parallel with sales development to increase lead conversions and maximize SDR productivity.  Indeed, in the client example I related earlier, when we implemented a series of automated emails as a complement to SDR outreach, lead conversions jumped more than 33 percent.

Yes, you can tightly manage lead distribution and SLAs to ensure that leads get called within 5 minutes.  But how much better if that first outreach is automated?  It ensures that every lead gets a prompt, personalized response, regardless of sales bandwidth, and the resulting engagement with that first touch (or lack of engagement) gives the SDR more information with which to prioritize human follow-up.

Similarly, though SDRs now have options beyond email and phone for outreach, notably LinkedIn, the benefits of such outreach are multiplied when they’re supported by marketing, perhaps by a simple remarketing program through a programmatic ad network or a channel like Facebook.  This is lead nurturing beyond the inbox, and part of a larger B2B trend towards omni-channel marketing, a reflection of multi-channel synergies and the simple fact that not all prospects like to be contacted in the same way.  (Spoken as someone that never answers his phone, ever.)

Now that more and more SDR teams live within the marketing organization, there’s even less excuse for those inside sales teams to function without closely coordinated marketing support.  By bringing the right technology, strategy, and creative to bear, the marketing team gets better bang for their demand generation buck through higher lead conversions, and SDRs are more productive – and successful – thanks to leads that are “warmed up” and more inclined to engage with sales.

The post Tips for Increasing SDR Engagement Rates appeared first on The Point.

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There’s a fascinating article over at LinkedIn: “You Are What You Signal,” in which the authors discuss the concept of “signaling theory” in advertising, best summarized in simple terms as the way in which ads “signal” a consumer into trusting a particular brand.

Signaling theory posits that consumers trust brands based less on the compelling nature of the ad’s message, but on how expensive the advertising looks.  Apparently (and this was all news to me), when a product is heavily advertised or advertised in an innately expensive way, consumers believe either 1) the quality of the product must be high, or 2) the company advertising has already persuaded lots of people to buy its product, presumably to justify the investment.

To quote the article:

“That’s why companies like Apple only buy the most expensive (ad) inventory.  Apple knows that expensive signals quality, which sells more phones.”

This is the type of theory that brand marketers love and demand marketers despise.  Brand marketers want you to believe that nothing matters more than the emotional connection you establish with the consumer.  Conversely, demand marketers (this writer included) care little about the brand, and like to claim that, in today’s data-driven world, marketing success is all about measurable engagement.

Like many things, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.  Not all of us are selling phones or other products where branding and emotional connection and image clearly make a difference.  I’m not a Starbucks fan just because I like their coffee.

However, in the world of digital media, signaling theory might give us a reason to look at online advertising as more than just generating clicks and form conversions.  As a B2B demand marketer, I usually recoil at the word “awareness,” as in: “we need to generate awareness for the product,” because it suggests that buyers of very complex B2B products are somehow influenced by mere familiarity.  But, if you accept the premise of signaling theory, and the authors at LinkedIn call it “one of the only scientifically backed ideas in all of advertising,” then digital advertising, even in the absence of measurable response, may serve a real purpose in building brand credibility.

There’s another ramification for signaling theory in B2B marketing, and it has to do with creative.  Very few B2B companies can rival Apple for beautiful (read: “expensive-looking”) ads, and I’ve bemoaned the general state of B2B creative previously in this space.  As demand marketers, we’re trained not to care so much about how an ad (or email, or landing page) “looks” as long as it performs.  But signaling theory would say that the “look” of creative does matter, even if no-one clicks on the ad. 

In an era when B2B marketing sometimes seems to consist of little more than automated emails, it’s an argument for demand marketers to raise their game creatively.

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

The post Is Your Digital Advertising Signaling the Right Message to Buyers? appeared first on The Point.

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I may not be a market analyst, but from what I see working with our agency’s B2B clients, it seems to me that, in the language of technology adoption lifecycles, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) stands at that pivotal junction – what Geoffrey Moore calls the “chasm” – between early adopters and early majority.

That mad rush to jump on the ABM bandwagon (for Fear of Missing Out) has given away to more practical considerations.  Is ABM a fit for our company, our product, and our audience?  How can ABM best coexist with a more traditional funnel-based demand generation model?  What are the key elements that make for a successful ABM initiative?  When so many technology vendors claim to be an “ABM solution,” what are the smartest investments?

There was a time, not so long ago, when Marketing Automation went through a similar transition.  In the giddy, early days when solutions like Marketo first arrived on the scene, the reigning view was that the technology was all a company needed to solve their lead management and woes.  But then reality kicked in, and companies realized (and are still realizing, to this day) that technology alone, without adequate resources, people, planning, strategy, content, and creative, won’t solve anything.

So it is, I would argue, with ABM.  Many early adopters are showing real success, but a sizable number have seen their lofty ambitions for ABM fall short.  Why is that?  In talking to clients about how to better achieve ABM success, here are what we see as the most common pitfalls, misassumptions, and ABM mistakes:

1.  Measuring the wrong thing.

ABM is radically different from inbound, funnel-based demand gen in many ways, and it starts with how to measure success.  Not only is ABM success not measured by clicks, conversions, and leads, but the KPIs may vary according to campaign stage.  For example, in the very early stages of an ABM campaign, success is best measured by Account-Based Awareness and Account Engagement.  In later stages, the measuring stick is more likely to be Sales Qualified Accounts, Meetings, or Pipeline.

2.  Thinking that ABM is a 60-day initiative.

One of the most common misperceptions about ABM is that it’s a quick fix.  ABM is typically best-suited for companies selling complex solutions to buying committees at large enterprises.  These are not impulse purchases. ABM can be a highly effective way to navigate a long, complex sales cycle, but the marketer who thinks that an ABM program is going to convert cold names to pipeline opportunities in a few short weeks is destined for disappointment.  As I wrote in this earlier post, ABM is a strategy, not a campaign.

3.  Lack of personalization.

One of the cornerstones of ABM is that it is primarily, if not exclusively, a “one-to-one” approach vs. “one-to-many.”  Implicit in that one-to-one principle is the need to personalize messaging, content and creative in order to maximize relevance for, and engagement from, a particular account, buying group, or individual decision-maker.  If you’re simply recycling the same broad messages and demand gen content for your ABM initiative, it’s unlikely to generate the results you’re looking for.

4.  Failing to get sales sufficiently involved (planning, engagement)

The days of simply throwing unqualified leads “over the fence” to sales are long behind us, and marketing’s role in the sales cycle is greater than ever.  Nowhere is that more true than with ABM.  ABM is not solely a marketing initiative, and moreover, without the buy-in, advice, and active involvement of sales and sales management, starting early in the planning process, the performance of any ABM initiative is greatly compromised.

5.  Shortchanging message, offer and creative.

B2B marketing is more technology-driven than ever, but technology without the right message, offer, and creative simply empowers you to – as industry observers have put it, “generate more cr*p, more quickly.”  Like Marketing Automation before it, ABM is no exception.  ABM technologies lend efficiency, accountability, and scalability to the process.  But they are only part of the total investment.

[ctt template=”11″ link=”7U7br” via=”no” ]Top 10 #ABM Mistakes via @spearmktg[/ctt]

6.  Not having the right technology.

It may seem contrary, therefore, to argue that – message, offer, and creative aside – technology is still an essential part of the ABM puzzle.  Can you execute ABM effectively without technology?  Certainly.  (Just as you can nurture leads without marketing automation.)  But the lack of appropriate technology, and forcing legacy systems to do things they aren’t built for, can jeopardize success.

7.  Attempting ABM on the cheap.

As I discussed in this earlier post, attempting to execute on ABM without careful planning, audience definition, sales enablement, executive buy-in, personalized content, and dedicated technology is a recipe for disappointment.  Like it or not, ABM is an investment.  Any shortcuts in planning, content and other processes and resources are likely to have a proportionate effect on results.

8.  Not knowing your audience.

Creating personalized messaging and content is one thing.  But personalization relies first on understanding your audience, defining an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), defining key personas within the buying committees at your target accounts, and doing the research it takes to develop and document the pain points and value propositions most likely to resonate with those specific individuals.  Relevance relies first on talking to the right person, and then knowing what makes that person tick.

9.  Ignoring the buying cycle.

I’ve made the case elsewhere that part of the appeal of ABM can be attributed to 1) an inability of many companies to effectively nurture leads through the funnel, and 2) the impatience of sales executives as that process runs its course.  Even the most successful ABM strategy does not eliminate the buying cycle.  ABM can help generate awareness and engagement and even meetings, and bring your company to the table so to speak, but it does not inherently abbreviate the sales cycle.  Many an ABM initiative fails not from lack of success per se, but misaligned expectations.

10.  Approaching account selection like a wish list

ABM journeys often begin with asking sales for a list of their target accounts.  And therein lies the first mistake.  Account selection is not the same as compiling a wish list.  Selecting a list of target accounts should revolve around finding those organizations that are the best fit for your solution, not simply those companies that sales wants most to penetrate.  Look at your own customer data.  Are there industries that have a higher renewal rate?  Or leverage technologies like Predictive Analytics and Intent Data.  They ignore assumptions and sales bias, and help marketers find the “high propensity” accounts that genuinely, and scientifically, are most likely to buy your solution.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The post Top 10 ABM Mistakes appeared first on The Point.

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Social media may be a hot topic in B2B marketing circles, but most of that buzz focuses on the role of social media advertising.  Just listen to marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk, perhaps the biggest champion for advertising on Facebook and other channels, who says that social media advertising is “grossly underpriced” and that companies have a window of opportunity to take advantage before big brands drive up the cost.

All of which begs the question: what about organic?  After all, as earned media, the “cost” of organic social is basically zero.  And yet, at most B2B companies, social media is still relegated to a role loosely defined as awareness, community-building, or even PR.  Precious few B2B marketers can show true ROI from organic social activity, and even less are using organic social media in a systematic way to either generate social leads or drive those leads through the demand generation funnel.

Are B2B marketers ignoring a huge opportunity?  I spoke to Daniel Kushner, CEO of B2B social media management platform company Oktopost, for his perspective.

(HS) Social media advertising has taken off lately.  Why aren’t more B2B companies making the same investment in organic social media?         

(DK) One factor is the new Facebook algorithm, which prioritizes friends’ content over that of companies, so organic reach on the largest social network has gone down dramatically.  Coupled with the fact that it’s harder and harder to get audiences’ attention online, companies have come to believe that social media is a strictly pay-to-play arena, understandably so.

However, that’s not necessarily true.  In fact, one of our customers, a large global consultancy, recently compared the ROI of social ads with that of social advocacy. They discovered that while ads garnered a nearly 4% conversion rate, which is pretty high, advocacy garnered an almost 52% conversion rate, which is 12.5 times higher.

So yes, paid social media can be an effective demand gen channel. However, given the right strategy, organic social can actually yield better results.

(HS) How does Oktopost help companies capture engagement and ROI from organic social?

(DK) Oktopost is a B2B social media management platform that enables marketers to build, measure and execute a social media strategy that caters to the specific needs of B2B marketers. Using Oktopost, B2B companies can manage and schedule large volumes of content, engage in conversations with their audience and track metrics such as CTR and conversions, as well as likes, shares, comments, etc.

Our advanced analytics suite even goes into granular detail, such as the network, post and exact message which generated the clicks and conversions. Beyond the ability to optimize social media strategy, this allows marketers to confidently demonstrate the value of any given social activity on the company’s bottom line.

In addition, the platform integrates with leading marketing automation platforms, such as Eloqua, HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot.  By using this integration, our customers can use social engagement data to build highly targeted lead scoring, segmenting, nurturing and attribution programs.

(HS) What’s the potential payoff from integrating social media into the demand gen mix?

(DK) Social media is a critical component of the B2B buyer journey.  Studies show that 55% of B2B buyers conduct their research on social networks, and that social media represents 84% of the influence on purchasing decisions among C-level and VP-level executives.

The conclusion we should draw here is that social media has a critical part to play in buyer engagement, and that therefore there’s a huge opportunity to use social media to both identify potential buyers and to advance them through the demand generation funnel.  Social media is no longer only a brand awareness channel.

[ctt template=”11″ link=”KTY79″ via=”no” ]Integrating Social Leads into the Demand Generation Funnel via @spearmktg[/ctt]

(HS) Where does advocacy marketing play a role here?  How can companies make, for example, employee advocacy a measurable contributor to demand generation?

(DK) Employee advocacy allows brands to amplify their social reach beyond their corporate profile to their employees’ networks. Advocacy also builds relationships and enhances trust with buyers – a recent Nielsen study showed that 83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over brands.

This benefit is particularly significant when it comes to social selling. According to IBM, when a lead is generated through social selling or advocacy, that lead is 7X more likely to close compared to other lead gen tactics.

(HS) How do you recommend that B2B companies process, respond to and nurture social leads?

(DK) B2B marketers can capitalize on social engagement data to better understand a potential buyer’s needs, interests, and intent. These insights can then allow those marketers to create more personalized, targeted and (therefore) effective lead nurturing programs.

For example, likes, shares, and clicks are all indications of a buyer’s content preference.  If you construct different nurturing streams based on interests, capturing social engagement data will enable you to nurture leads with content tailored specifically to buyer preferences, which increases overall engagement.

Another way to leverage social media is through lead scoring.  If a buyer is shown to be engaging (clicking, liking, sharing) mid-funnel (MOFU) content such as case studies or product tutorials, for example, those actions can contribute to an overall lead score that determines sales-readiness.

By incorporating social engagement data into their overall lead nurture strategy, a B2B marketer will have a more precise picture of a specific buyer, and be able to deliver more relevant content to advance that buyer along the sales cycle.

(HS) Thanks Daniel!

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

The post Integrating Social Leads into the Demand Generation Funnel appeared first on The Point.

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If your marketing organization is 100 percent GDPR compliant (and if you are, you’re in the minority) you may feel that your data compliance issues are behind you.  Think again.  The GDPR deadline may already be a waning memory, but global data privacy regulations are just getting started.

In July of 2018, California passed its own digital privacy law that mimics many of the same regulations present in GDPR, including rules empowering consumers to demand that marketers delete their personal data.  Even though the law won’t go into effect until 2020, the implications for marketers could be enormous.  Quite aside from the potential liability, the law will force marketers to know when they’re marketing to Californians, and adjust accordingly.

Data privacy laws are gaining momentum, and to pretend otherwise is to ignore the inevitable. Marketers can’t know what laws are coming down the legislative pike, but there are ways to be prepared, and to minimize the wholesale disruption and process upheaval many companies faced in May of 2018, when GDPR went into effect.

One argument says that marketers should be adopting GDPR standards across the board, to all contacts in their database, not just EU citizens, based on the belief that GDPR-like standards are coming, whether we like it or not.  That would force companies to execute , for example, on an opt-in basis universally, rendering many marketing databases useless.  (As marketers discovered this year, getting any significant percentage of opt-out contacts to opt-in is no small task.)

Not quite ready to wipe your database clean and start over?  Me either.  But there are steps you can take in the interim that are less onerous, and will still prepare your company better for privacy laws to come:

Ask for less data.

Asking for less information on a form will always increase conversions.  And these days, with a wealth of real-time data append and enrichment solutions available, there’s even less reason to have 8 fields on your registration form, when just a name and valid email address will probably give you what you need.  If you don’t have a use for the data, don’t ask for it.

Let people know what to expect.

It’s marketing common sense to let a reader know exactly what he or she is signing up for.  And here’s another area where respecting the consumer and increasing conversions go hand-in-hand.  Ask someone to “learn more” and the reader may not understand why he receives your e-newsletter the next month when he didn’t ask for it.  Call to actions should always be clear, specific, and concrete. If people opt-in to receive specific information, they’re less likely to complain when they receive it.

Set up a subscription center.

By providing prospects, customers and subscribers the ability to choose the type and/or frequency of communication they receive, a subscription center (AKA subscriber management page or subscriber preference page) can reduce unsubscribe rates by providing the individual an alternative to simply opting out completely.  It can also increase engagement rates and overall email performance by allowing you to segment campaigns based on areas of interest.

GDPR was in many ways the beginning of a new era in marketing.  We may not like it, but we have no choice but to adapt, to change the way we market.  Above all, marketers must build and maintain trust.  Here’s Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing for the CMO Council:

“What marketing leaders have seized upon is the reality that trust is the currency of today’s data-driven customer engagement – without trust, the customer will walk away from an experience, taking their loyalty and their wallets with them.”

For more detailed information on complying with GDPR requirements, download our free GDPR Checklist (no registration required).

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

The post Embracing Trust: How Marketers Can Prepare for GDPR 2.0 appeared first on The Point.

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Just as B2B marketing has evolved rapidly in the last decade, so too have the marketing agencies who service those B2B companies.  In particular, a new breed of agency focused on demand generation (or demand creation) has emerged – these firms tend to be part strategic consultants, part creative agency, part systems integrator.  Demand creation agencies not only design and build content, but can help define and deploy sales and marketing processes, and ensure clients get the most from technologies like marketing automation.

The experts at SiriusDecisions recently created their “Demand Creation Agency Evaluation Framework” to guide B2B organizations in selecting the right  agency partner for their specific needs.  The infographic below provides an outline of what SiriusDecisions considers to be the core capabilities of the new demand creation agency.  You can download their research brief describing the new framework here.

Click here to view infographic full size.

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

The post Infographic: SiriusDecisions on How to Evaluate Demand Creation Agencies appeared first on The Point.

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The analysts at Demand Gen Report just published their “2018 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Survey Report” and one conclusion is no surprise: many B2B companies are still really bad at lead nurturing.

It’s not just that 44% of respondents said that their lead nurturing “needs improvement.”  No, even more alarming is this statistic:

34% of those responding said they are not seeing a measurable difference in the performance of nurtured leads vs. non-nurtured leads. 

Think about that.  For those companies, it makes no difference whether they nurture leads or not.  That’s just depressing.  (The brighter news is that the other two-thirds reported that nurture programs resulted in at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities, so there’s hope yet.)

Here are my other key takeaways from the report, a recommended read for any demand generation marketer:

More than two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents said that they’re measuring the success of their nurture programs based on email click-through rates.  News flash: email clicks are not a valid success metric.  The true business value of lead nurturing is how effectively it moves leads through the demand funnel, and therefore more appropriate measurements are lead velocity, reduction in sales cycle, lead-to-close rates, pipeline acceleration, and an increase in opportunities.

My guess is that most marketers know that email clicks don’t tell the whole story (or anything close to it) but – as other studies have shown repeatedly – they lack the systems, processes, resources or sales discipline (for example, when it comes to consistently attributing leads to opportunities) to make such measurements accurate or even possible.

Curiously, the survey also documented the percentage of leads that companies reported as being “returned for nurturing.”  Just that phrase itself betrays, in my view, an ongoing issue with the way that lead nurturing is both perceived and executed.

[ctt template=”11″ link=”b4a6U” via=”no” ]Report: One-Third of Marketers Say Lead Nurturing Has No Impact via @spearmktg[/ctt]

A lead “returned for nurturing” implies that the lead went to sales first for qualification, was deemed unqualified, and then dumped into the nurture stream.  As I’ve written previously in this space, that’s completely backwards, and a waste of valuable sales resources.  Leads should be nurtured first, and only pushed to sales when deemed qualified through systematic lead scoring or other triggers.

On a more promising note, fully one-third of those surveyed said that they‘re now incorporating sales calls into their nurture streams, signaling (according to the report’s authors) that “SDRs are starting to have a bigger role in helping to further nurture prospects.”  If true, this also signals a real transition to where lead nurturing is no longer perceived as either a replacement for SDRs, or a place where leads go once reps have completed their qualification process, but instead, a truly integrated program that seamlessly combines automated nurturing with human touchpoints.

You can download a free copy of the complete report (sponsored by Vidyard, registration required) here.

The post Report: One-Third of Marketers Say Lead Nurturing Has No Impact appeared first on The Point.

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Recently, a client raised objections to our agency hosting their campaign landing pages on a marketing automation platform, since doing so would require that the pages reside on a subdomain (info.companyname.com) vs. on the client’s core domain (companyname.com).

The client’s reasoning was that by residing on their main site, the landing pages would help support that website’s SEO domain authority and thus improve search rankings.

However, we argued against the move, contending that SEO should never be a factor in designing (or hosting) demand gen landing pages, and that any SEO efforts should focus on the main site exclusively.

Here are the top 3 reasons why demand gen landing pages shouldn’t be designed for SEO:

1.  Demand gen landing pages are temporary by nature and typically live only for the life span of an ad, a campaign or a specific content asset, and so are of limited SEO value in the long term. Furthermore, having temporary landing pages indexed as part of your site can require back-end maintenance (e.g. keeping up with redirects) to ensure a site’s domain authority remains intact.

2.  The type and volume of page content that contributes to search rankings is frequently at odds with the type and volume of content that makes for an effective landing page. For example, the primary message on a campaign landing page should align with the headline or message on the ad or email driving traffic to that page.  Whereas, a landing page optimized for SEO should instead focus on keywords for which the client wants their site to rank highly.

Another example: a landing page designed for SEO would include links to high-profile Web pages to build authority for those pages.  An effective demand gen landing page contains no external links, but instead focuses only on driving the reader to take one, single action, typically filling out a form.

SEO landing pages typically contain more content, the better to rank for a higher number of search terms.  A demand gen landing page contains only the minimum amount of content, no more, to drive the desired action without distracting the reader.

[ctt template=”11″ link=”da1f2″ via=”no” ]3 reasons why demand gen landing pages shouldn’t be designed for SEO via @spearmktg[/ctt]

3.  Maintaining landing pages on a subdomain – and in a marketing automation platform or a landing page platform like Unbounce – allows a company or its agency to make changes to those landing pages – for testing or campaign optimization purposes, say – without making unnecessary changes to the root domain. Such platforms also make such edits and changes easier and faster, and something anyone on the marketing team can manage, compared to requiring a Web developer to work inside a more complex content management system (CMS).

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

The post Should I Design My Demand Gen Landing Pages for SEO? appeared first on The Point.

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Over at the Modern Marketing Blog, Steve Earl offers his theory as to why enterprise marketers choose to switch to a different marketing platform.  He says (in summary):

“It’s because their needs outgrow system capabilities.”

Now, Steve happens to work in product marketing for Oracle Marketing Cloud, home of Eloqua, typically regarded as the most feature-rich (some would say: complex) marketing automation solution on the market.  So, it may just be that Steve’s data is biased in favor of those companies who need a more full-featured solution.  Not that it makes his experience any less legitimate or accurate.

In the broader market, however, our agency’s experience tells a different story.  We work with both enterprise and mid-market companies, and at the lower end of that spectrum, we find the main factors driving clients’ decision to switch to a different marketing automation platform are:

1) cost, combined with
2) an inability to show sufficient ROI from their original investment.

And whereas Steve’s customers are migrating upstream, that is – to what they perceive as a more scalable, robust, enterprise-ready solution, we’re seeing many marketers do the opposite, namely moving to a less expensive, less feature-rich, easier to use platform.  We hear comments like:

“Our renewal date came up, and we decided we just weren’t seeing the value for that cost, so we switched to something less expensive.”

You’ll even hear marketers openly acknowledge that they know they’re moving to a lesser solution, but that they’re willing to sacrifice functionality in favor of a platform whose cost better aligns with the perceived value.

These comments align with industry studies (most recently: Forrester) bemoaning the inability of B2B marketers to leverage marketing automation to its full capability, most specifically in areas like lead nurturing and customer marketing.  (Our agency conducted a survey back in 2015 that scored marketing automation users a “C” in overall maturity, and little has apparently changed since.)

[ctt template=”11″ link=”budHm” via=”no” ]Why #MarketingAutomation Customers are Migrating Downstream via @spearmktg[/ctt]

In fairness, you could also argue that downstream migration is just as much about the emergence of a new breed of less expensive, more user-friendly marketing automation tools, and that customers are waking up to the fact that there are other, lower-cost options out there.  But even then, the trend speaks to a failure of the big marketing automation players to cement their place in the tech stack.

What can be improved?  Plenty.  Here are just a few thoughts:

* Vendors need to focus as much on customer success as they do on new business. It’s not enough to simply train a client how to use the technology

* Marketing ops needs an expanded portfolio and greater investment. Too many very smart marketing ops people know which buttons to press, but can’t drive strategy or creative.

* Both customers and vendors need to leverage experienced, tech-savvy consultants, agencies and other service providers, not to manage systems, but to design and build the programs that truly drive ROI.

* Customers need a plan. Most marketing automation failures come about from a lack of strategy.  The result is invariably a very tactical implementation that never reaches its true potential.

Photo by Laura Lefurgey-Smith on Unsplash

The post Why Marketing Automation Customers are Migrating Downstream appeared first on The Point.

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