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Marketo has been huge for marketing automation. We can hardly imagine what it would be like to go back to doing automated marketing without it.

One of Marketo’s greatest strengths is its web forms. Marketo’s Form Editor and Forms APIs have tremendous flexibility and potential. Both contribute heavily to Marketo’s reputation as one of the top marketing automation solutions. View our comparison between Marketo and Hubspot for marketing automation.

However, with great power comes great complexity. In order to wield the full potential of Marketo forms, it is necessary to understand how best to utilize them. It’s especially important to have a sense of what you can accomplish with Marketo’s included features, and what you might need customized by your dev team.

If you’re thinking about using Marketo, or looking to upgrade your Marketo skills to take an existing implementation to the next level, This article is for you. 

Let’s go over common questions that frequently come up when marketers are building campaigns with Marketo. We hope this FAQ will steer you toward true Marketo mastery.

Frequently Asked Questions about Marketo Forms Q: How do I hide a Marketo form after submission?

A: As much as you want your lead to fill out that form, you also want that form to go away as soon as they’ve submitted it. When a previously-submitted form hangs around like the worst guest at a house party, your lead starts wondering if they actually submitted the form correctly or if you’re just bad at web coding.

You need to use an onSuccess handle like this one. You can find more detailed examples of the code we’re showing you in context on Marketo’s site for this and the next two questions:

form.onSuccess(function(values, followUpUrl) {
        form.getFormElem().hide();
        return false;
    });

Once the user clicks “submit,” they’ll never see the form again – unless you choose to make it reappear for some reason.

Q: How do I prevent a user from submitting a Marketo form?

A: Timing is everything, and sometimes you just don’t want a lead to be firing off a form before its time. If you want to make it impossible for a user to submit a form, this will do the trick:

if (form.submittable()) {
form.submittable(false);}
});

Defining the conditions that “unlock” the form is another question entirely. In its example, Marketo includes code that makes the form submittable again only after a button has been clicked three times. 

Q: How do I set values in a hidden Marketo field form?

A: Everybody in the industry knows that customers get squeamish about watching the marketing sausage get made. Sometimes, you want a submitted form to carry a little payload of information that your lead can’t see. 

Assuming you’ve configured some hidden fields in the form editor when you created your form, this code lets you load those fields with preset values:

form.vals({"hiddenField1":"true", "hiddenDate":"2019-01-01"});

In a later question, you’ll see how you can use hidden fields to discreetly hold automatically-generated data for use when running analytics on your form submissions.

Q: What are MktoForms2 methods?

A: MktoForms2 is an object used in Marketo’s Forms 2.0 API. It’s one of the two main Forms objects you’ll spend most of your time interacting with. It contains functions for creating, loading, and fetching Forms objects.

Here’s a quick rundown of MktoForms2 methods:

  • .loadForm()
    Loads a form descriptor and creates a new Form object.
  • .lightbox()
    Renders a lightbox-style dialog box with the Form object in it.
  • .newForm()
    Creates a new Form object from a Form Descriptor JavaScript object.
  • .getForm()
    Retrieves a previously-created Form object.
  • .allForms()
    Fetches an array of all Form objects previously constructed on the page.
  • .getPageFields()
    Retrieves a JavaScript object containing data from the URL and referrer.
  • .whenReady()
    Adds a callback that will be called once per Form after it meets certain “ready” conditions.
  • .onFormRender()
    Adds a callback that will be called whenever a Form on the page is rendered.
  • .whenRendered()
    Same as above, but also calls the callback immediately for all forms that have already been rendered.
Q: How can I see form submissions for a given time period?

A: If you want to sort and organize reports by the time of their submission, that’s easy enough to do. However, this method will only enable you to track forms by submission time going forward, not retroactively.

The following code will add a hidden field to a form that records a timestamp when the form is submitted:

MktoForms2.whenReady(function(form){
  form.onSubmit(function(form){
   form.addHiddenFields({ LastFormFilloutDateTime : new Date().toUTCString() });
  });

You can then use the timestamp value to sort and filter submitted forms in any spreadsheet or database program they’ve been exported into.

Q: How can I capture lead information in Marketo from a non-Marketo form?

A: When you have a third-party form embedded on your web page, you might want a way to pass information received through that form to Marketo. In theory, this isn’t too difficult to do with a plain HTML form.

Your code needs to catch the HTML “submit” event, transfer the field contents to a bidden Marketo form, and call the Marketo form’s “submit” event.

This can get complicated depending on the types of forms you’re using, but the Marketo community has some coding suggestions for this circumstance.

Q: How do I turn off Munchkin code for Marketo forms?

A: “Munchkin” is what Marketo calls its lead tracking code. The Munchkins do great work serving up cookies and following your leads, but sometimes you may prefer that they make themselves scarce for a while. 

For instance, forms for internal use or special events might end up feeding the Munchkins a lot of confusing and unhelpful data.

At a trade show, you might have a tablet set up with a web form to solicit contact information from your visitors. The Munchkins will see all the forms coming through one device and cookie as one single lead (albeit with multiple personalities and email addresses).

This code will clear the Munchkin cookie value upon submission of the form, but does not delete the cookie itself:

MktoForms2.whenReady( function(form){ 
form.addHiddenFields({"_mkt_trk":""});
form.onSubmit( function(form){
form.vals({"_mkt_trk":""});})
})

The Munchkins will effectively “forget” who submitted the form and you’re free to await the next visitor’s submission.

Q: How can I make a success message show in an embedded Marketo form?

A: If you don’t want to boot your lead over to a different web page once they’ve successfully submitted your form, you can show them an in-line confirmation message. You can even handle more complex situations, like checking for duplicate sign-ups and feeding them a link to an account management page.

Here’s some code for a simple success message:

form.onSuccess(function(values, followUpUrl) {
form.getFormElem().html("Your form has been submitted!");
form.getFormElem().css("text-align","center");
form.getFormElem().css("font-family","'Helvetica'");
return false;
});

Once the lead clicks “submit,” a message appears letting them know that it went through.

Q: How can I create a Marketo form with two fields in the same row and one field in another row?

A: Alternating side-by-side and single fields in one column may not sound like a particularly ambitious design, but it can be a little tricky to pull off in Marketo. There are a few different ways to approach the problem.

The most effective method may be to use an advanced framework using custom CSS, allowing you to use advanced field customization and placement features. It’s possible to use fixed sizes and the Form Editor to set up a form this way, but the placement will not be consistent on smaller screens.

Q: How can I gate online content using a Marketo form?

A: Forms can be a great way to create a checkpoint that requires users to provide some information in order to access additional content. Sometimes it’s better to let information be free and allow your visitors to view and read whatever they want on your site. When you have especially attractive or valuable content, gating it with a form is a great way to pick up some leads.

One way to turn a form into a content gate is to use the Known Visitor HTML feature, which can be found in Form Editor settings. This will display custom HTML pages to “known visitors,” a status you can set once they submit the form.

Conclusion

We hope this FAQ clears up any Marketo questions you might have, and helps you use its forms with confidence. Of course, no mere FAQ can comprehensively address all of the issues and scenarios that advanced users will bring to the surface. Remember that if you’re stumped about how to do something in Marketo, they have an abundance of how-to guides, community support forums, and other resources that can help get you back on track.

With a little creativity in their design and placement, web forms can help you extract all kinds of great information from your leads. It’s hard to beat Marketo when it comes to putting the full weight of your MarTech stack behind efforts to utilize that information.

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In the beginning, marketing was a simple process. You’d take your salable goods to the market, and anyone who needed them would know they could find you there. Boom, marketing.

Every development in the art of marketing since then has served to further complicate matters.

We don’t mean to imply that’s a bad thing. Marketing has had no choice but to grow and evolve.

Omnichannel digital marketing may be more challenging to effectively use, but with potential customers around the globe, you can’t just meet them at the market anymore.

In an interesting twist, one of the newest, most effective marketing tactics would be quite relatable to the market sellers of old. Back then, it was likely that a merchant would be personally acquainted with most of their potential customers. It wouldn’t be unusual to see them targeting their efforts toward specific individuals.

Today, individual customer-personalized marketing may seem impossible, considering the scale at which businesses operate. However, when you’re talking about long-term, high-value purchases like B2B software, it’s not only possible — it may be the smartest direction to take your marketing efforts. We call this strategy Account-based Marketing (ABM).

What Is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

ABM is a strategy that treats individual potential customers as an entire “market” in themselves. In ABM, marketing departments create campaigns, content, events, and promotions that target only one specific customer or account.

Does ABM deliver on its promises? When surveyed, marketers–who should know the difference between hype and reality–seem to believe it’s the real deal. ABM generates higher ROI than other marketing investments, according to 85% of marketers. As many as 60% of companies plan on implementing an ABM program within the next year.

Marketers who use ABM also report higher levels of engagement with their target accounts, especially C-suite executives. They also associate ABM with improvements to their customer relationships and overall reputation, increases in sales leads, faster growth, and greater customer retention.

Harder to quantify, but just as important, is that ABM tends to lead to stronger alignment between sales and marketing departments. This is a key indicator of growth and profit for B2B companies.

How Does ABM Work?

In the broad strokes, implementing ABM is really simple. You use your best sales and marketing tactics, but focus them on a single customer, tailored to their individual preferences.

Part of the idea behind ABM is that, when you’re trying to close a deal with a big customer — which usually means a big organization — you have many stakeholders with needs to be addressed. That means that your one potential customer really is more like a self-contained market with a varied array of interests, concerns, and priorities.

Instead of treating these types of prospects as one customer out of many, you can get much better results by treating them like one market with many customers. All these “customers” need to be acknowledged, communicated with, and satisfied that your product is the right choice.

By regarding each customer as a complex system in its own right, you can target your efforts to address the desires and pain points of each individual stakeholder.

One side benefit of ABM is that it’s easier to track the ROI on your marketing investments. When you can tie the costs of specific marketing activities to a single client (and all their associated revenues), it becomes crystal clear what investments are generating revenue. With ABM, you don’t have to deal with the attribution problems that plague industry-wide marketing campaigns.

Another thing we like about ABM is how it can shorten the sales cycle. When ABM is your focus, your sales team spends less time working on leads that may or may not pan out. Instead, they’re giving important, high-value clients their full-court press.

How ABM Unites Sales and Marketing

Yet another benefit of ABM is its tendency to bring sales and marketing teams together. It’s a cliché that these departments are often in conflict, but like many clichés, it comes from a grain of truth. 

Sales needs marketing to generate good leads and make deliverable promises; marketing needs sales to embrace and carry out their grand designs. When it doesn’t work out as intended, there can be finger-pointing and bad feelings all around.

ABM keeps both sales and marketing pointed in the same direction and working on the same goal. When there’s no tension between the leads sales wants, and the leads marketing is providing, both teams have a much easier time working collaboratively.

Who Shouldn’t Be Using ABM?

Sometimes, when a new process or technology takes the world by storm, its adherents advise everyone to adopt it as a universally-applicable good thing. This is definitely not the case with ABM.

ABM is for enterprise-level accounts

It just doesn’t scale down and out to accommodate marketing done by companies that primarily sell to retail customers, or small to medium-size businesses. If that describes your business model, don’t waste your time with ABM. There’s little chance you’d be able to deploy it effectively enough to see a positive ROI on the hard work and investment put into it. 

Who Should Be Using ABM?

For the most part, organizations best served by an ABM strategy are B2B merchants dealing in enterprise-level solutions. If you’re in a business where every client represents a significant portion of your total revenue, you’re who ABM was made for.

One important thing to note: ABM is not intended as a replacement for industry-wide marketing campaigns

There may be businesses whose products are so individualized that it might make sense to go an ABM-only route. But, for the most part, we’re assuming that ABM should be used as a focused tactic to land big accounts, and establish solid ongoing relationships with them. 

If your broadly-focused campaigns are bringing in leads and delivering good ROI, let them keep doing what they’re doing.

5 Tried-by-fire Tips for a Successful ABM Strategy 1. Choose Your Targets Wisely

Define your target audience as accurately as you can, with as much granular detail as possible. A solid ABM strategy will require a lot of resources. You don’t want to exhaust them all on a prospect that isn’t really interested, a company that’s too small, or someone who already has a similar solution in place.

Before you launch an ABM campaign, it is critical that you do your research to ensure you’re focusing your efforts on the right target.

2. Develop Relationships

Whether you’re trying to convert online using social media, or face-to-face at meetings and conferences, good relationships are the cornerstone of ABM. It’s not about sending more emails or making more phone calls to a specific group. It’s about building an actual, authentic, give-and-take relationship.

That can take time, and there’s no surefire formula for making it happen. When you do it right, however, it will pay the best kind of dividends. Be sophisticated, be smart, and be systematic. When you can be that “friend in the industry” to current and potential customers, you’re laying solid foundations for an effective ABM strategy.

3. Work the Omnichannel

The omnichannel is your best ally. ABM may call on marketers to develop real connections and “be a friend” to your customers. However, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck communicating via late-night chats on a landline.

ABM may be like marketing to a friend, but it’s still marketing. Remember, anything can be part of an omnichannel approach. One of the main challenges of ABM is reaching the decision-makers in the company you’re targeting. Find out how to get to them and go for it. Whether online, offline, at a conference, showing up at their favorite coffee shop, whatever it takes – find a way.

4. Be More Local

When people say, “I hate being marketed to,” that usually just means they’ve never been the target of a great marketing push. Want to give your prospective client a marketing experience so good they won’t even care about your ulterior motives? Host a local event they’ll love attending.

Create a meetup, party, or conference in your area. Invite fifty to a hundred people; but really just targeting a few ABM prospects – or even just one. Tailor the content, venue, speakers, even the food to your target; and do everything you can to make sure they’re able to attend.

If you’ve got prospects at your event, it’s the perfect opportunity for your sales team to step in and chat up your captive audience.

5. Partner Up

You can take great pride in building something all by yourself, from the ground up, with no help from others. But, it doesn’t need to be your marketing channels.

Don’t be afraid to find compatible channel partners through networking, or by just hiring them directly. A lot of the time, it’s easier to piggyback on someone else’s network than to build one yourself, and there’s no shame in that! Any shortcuts that make it easier for you to reach stakeholders within your customer’s organization should be taken, early and often.

Conclusion

Choosing an overarching marketing strategy for your business is one of the most important decisions you can make. It’s also a difficult one with few guarantees – especially if you’ve got an innovative product, or if you’re trying to break into an established market. 

Merchants and entrepreneurs in the new digital economy are often working without a road map. It’s often the case that methods that worked in the past just aren’t good enough to meet the challenges of marketing and selling enterprise-level solutions in 2019.

If the big, long-term prospects that have the potential to sustain your business keep slipping through your fingers, consider giving account-based marketing a try – it might be just what you need.

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It’s 2019, and businesses now have many ways to gather, slice up, and analyze data. With all that available, there’s no excuse for running a business-to-business marketing campaign that can be accurately described as, “throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks”.

For digital marketers, that’s even more important. The industries and markets that digital B2B businesses serve are undergoing constant, dramatic changes. They are always evolving to keep up with the fast pace of technological advancements, new business models, and other shifting paradigms.

These days, marketing initiatives have to justify their existence by showing measurable results. Many marketing executives are inclined to favor quick victories in the short term over long term, strategic gains. Unfortunately, you can only coast on short-term wins for so long before the lack of an overarching strategy catches up with you.

Here at the halfway point of 2019, we’re getting a clearer picture of the B2B marketing strategies that are currently leading the pack. We’re also starting to see the outlines of the ones that will likely make a big splash in the months ahead.

If your marketing strategy feels like it’s out of step with the times — or doesn’t yet exist — here are ten up-and-coming strategies you’ll want to take into consideration.

Strategy 1: Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing refers to endeavors that push your message “out” to potential leads in the wider world. These are methods like advertising, posting flyers, and cold calling. Older marketers used to just call it “marketing.”

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, refers to newer marketing tactics that try to pull leads “in”, such as through blog posts or sponsored content. It’s an article of faith for many digital marketers that inbound is the more effective method. However, the results are slow to come in, and much more difficult to measure.

It’s often the case that once awareness grows around newer marketing methodologies, some buyers shy away from them, and the traditional methods see a resurgence. This may be the case right now with inbound and outbound marketing. We think that a truly effective and well-rounded marketing campaign needs to do both, but don’t give outbound marketing the short shrift just because it might seem outdated.

Strategy 2: Employee Advocacy

For a huge number of internet users, social media is their one-stop shop for everything they do online. At the same time, trust in social media is in a bit of a downward spiral. In other words, people know they can’t trust what they read on social media these days, but they’re still addicted to it. This poses some interesting challenges for social media marketers.

One way of doing an end-run around social media users’ suspicions is employee advocacy. This strategy is built on encouraging or incentivizing the people who work for an organization to talk positively about the organization and its products. Employee advocacy is most effective when it reaches users who know the employee, either personally or by reputation, and have a reason to trust their opinions. In these cases, it’s hard to imagine a more direct or effective way to get your message across to them.

Strategy 3: Business-to-User Marketing (B2U)

This is a fairly new way to employ inbound tactics for B2B marketing, particularly with software companies. Inbound marketing has generally been concerned with nurturing decision makers with content; then moving them further down the sales funnel until they’re fully educated and ready to make a decision on the product you’re selling.

In contrast, B2U marketing doesn’t concern itself with shepherding decision makers toward a final answer. Instead, B2U marketing emphasizes introducing solutions to end users. It lets them do the labor of winning over the hearts and minds of buyers, executives, and other decision makers. Usually, B2U marketing funnels will begin with a free software offering.

The free software is intended to be shared between users within a potential client organization, in order to gain a foothold there. Once enough people within that organization are using the software, the time is ripe to launch outbound marketing initiatives to reach that organization’s key decision makers. The initiatives inform them that many individuals within their organization are already using the free version of the software, and that they can gain even more value with the paid version.

Strategy 4: Direct Media Buys

As third-party ad buys become increasingly scarce due to GDPR and a general crackdown on actions perceived to be invasive to users’ privacy, third-party data becomes harder to obtain. This will cause the price of lead acquisition campaigns to go up even as their overall reach and effectiveness decreases.

This gives industry publications an edge. They will still have a substantial amount of data on their users, and their prices won’t seem as intimidating. They also offer a platform on which users are more likely to engage with advertising.

Many users have high levels of trust and respect toward established industry publications. Those publications are able to amass high-quality user data. Because of those two factors, we believe that marketing strategies focusing on direct media purchases from industry publications are likely to provide a substantial return on investment.

Strategy 5: Influencer and Co-Marketing

We’re living in the age of the influencer, and Instagram is still the capital of their kingdom. A marketing strategy that isn’t getting any likes or shares from us would be one that ignores the unique reach and appeal of social media influencers, and the many possibilities afforded by co-marketing.

Co-marketing is a tactic that aims to take advantage of the strength that another brand already possesses. It does this by combining it with your own brand’s strengths to create wider and greater appeal. This is especially effective among customers who already use or like one of the brands but not the other. What do you call it when Betty Crocker puts a recipe that calls for Reese’s Pieces on a box of their brownie mix? Co-marketing!

Influencer marketing is essentially co-marketing where the other brand is the influencer. Influencer marketing can be risky, because you never know when an influencer is going to have a lapse of judgment and perhaps Tweet something awful. However, don’t underestimate the persuasive power they can wield over their followers.

Strategy 6: In-House Conferences

Sometimes it pays to be your own influencer, thought leader, and trend setter. You can accomplish that by hosting conferences.

It’s great to have a booth at an established industry conference, but if you really want to set the tone and shape the message, create one yourself. Find a venue, publicize the conference, and bring in your target audience. As the host and creator of the conference, you’ll be in charge of lead generation, quality control, the speakers, and every other aspect of the experience.

Give your best marketers and salespeople a captive audience, and the chance to put their best ideas to work in a live, in-person setting — and see what they can come up with. At the very least, you can make connections and establish relationships that can create many future opportunities down the line.

Strategy 7: Put Sales Development Under Marketing

It makes a lot of sense to incorporate sales development under marketing and lead generation. After all, the activities of sales generation are part of the lead generation effort for sales.

Moving sales development under marketing is a good way to have sales development representatives more focused on lead generation. It allows companies to scale up their lead generation efforts more quickly, without getting bogged down in a sales vs. marketing rift that slows down the process.

Strategy 8: Brand Awareness

When your brand awareness is good enough, it can short circuit the buyer cycle. When a potential customer has that light-bulb moment of “Oh, I know this company,” they will often skip over more deliberate steps they might take in researching a purchase.

As short-term digital marketing tactics become more familiar and less effective, companies keep falling back on brand awareness as a tactic with proven value. Many recent studies have shown the effectiveness of brand awareness over time for generating leads and keeping acquisition costs down.

Strategy 9: Time Management

Want to get the most out of your marketing dollars? Don’t make your budget too front-heavy. In other words, don’t spend too much at the beginning, when the marketing campaign is just getting off the ground.

Seems counterintuitive? It might seem like a good idea to make a grand entrance, but withholding some expenditures until you’ve had time to find out what is and isn’t working is both smart and prudent. First, do some A/B testing, and get feedback from real customers. Then you can spend your money in a more targeted, strategic, and effective way down the line.

Strategy 10: Content Retargeting

Life comes at you fast these days. You can make a great impression on a set of decision-maker eyeballs right before they take their coffee break. But by the time they’re back, they’ve already forgotten the amazingly cool ad they just saw.

There’s no excuse for losing these leads if you can verify their social media identities. Serve ads back to them with a content retargeting program, get remembered, and bring them back into the fold.

Conclusion

There are many ways to market yourself, and in a perfect world you could use all of them simultaneously, and only pay for the ones that generate good leads. Since you can’t do that, do the next best thing: make thoughtful, strategic choices based on solid data analytics, your customers, and your best judgment.

This way, you’ll be sure to find the strategy, or combination of strategies, that is most successful for your business.

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Though discouraged by a popular saying, judging a book by its cover is a major element of being human. Whether it be an actual book, a movie trailer, or even a person, our first inclination is to form a judgement based on the images presented. The same holds true for video thumbnails.

Video Thumbnails, or compressed preview images, can be thought of as windows that allow prospective viewers to get a quick snapshot of your video.

These small images, therefore, play a big role. They must convey the subject matter, tone, and style of your video… all within a few milliseconds.

Creating the perfect image might sound like a daunting task, but with these three simple tips in mind you will be on your way to creating eye catching thumbnails that will encourage viewers to click your play button.

Let’s take a look at these YouTube thumbnails from a simple, and perhaps familiar, search – how to train my dog.

Use few, and relevant, subjects.

Notice how each thumbnail only includes the two main characters involved in dog training – the dog and the human who is training the dog. There are not a lot of other animals and humans because the act of training a dog is often a one-on-one experience. This may seem self-explanatory, but the inclusion of too many or unnecessary subjects is one of the most common video thumbnail mistakes.

To avoid this, think about the content of your video, and then decide how you can portray it with as few subjects (people or objects) as possible. Though few in number, however, they should still take up a large portion of the frame. A good target ratio is 50 percent image and 50 percent background or text (more on that later).

Show the action(s) within the video.

As mentioned earlier, thumbnails are a peek into the video. The dog-training thumbnails all show the humans and the dog interacting with each other, which is exactly what you will expect to see throughout the video.

Apply this same principle when creating your thumbnail image. Convey the overarching nature of your video by capturing an action that aligns with what the viewer is looking for.

One way to gauge your video thumbnail is to imagine that it stood completely alone from the title of the video. Would you still be able to grasp the overall content matter? This is important because the very short time of deciding whether or not to click will be mostly allotted to the thumbnail, not the title.

Unless it is a tutorial on how to pose, you should almost never include poses in the video thumbnail. Avoid these yawn-generating images by instead showing a person/people doing an action in which they are not directly looking and smiling into the camera. This will make your video seem more relatable and inviting.

Include words to give context.

Including text within the video thumbnail is a good way to convey more about your video than you could with an image alone. This is not, however, a chance to add the entire video synopsis.

Like the dog-training thumbnails with text, it is best to keep it short and sweet – no more than five to six words. If you are unable to read the thumbnail while scrolling down the page, it is most likely too long.

When deciding which keywords to include, think about which words your viewers would gravitate towards. For example, for video tutorials consider using phrases such as easy, quick, or start here.

Find out more about text, images, and video thumbnail maker tools below.

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Coming off the heels of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 is going live January 2020 and 10 other state based online-privacy based legislation are on the way. The CCPA is the most recent piece of legislation in the US specific to companies with annual gross revenues over $25 million, who annually handle personal information. Due to the expansive, borderless nature of the internet both the GDPR and CCPA have extraterritorial reach and enterprises should be taking care to ensure compliance. The truth is even if you’re GDPR compliant, you still have a little work to do for CCPA compliance.

The beauty of these regulations is that they can be leveraged as marketing points, showing your customers how seriously take data breaches, data collection and their overall privacy. The kind of information the GDPR is looking for includes, but is not limited to: names, aliases, addresses, emails, account names, social security numbers, medical information, passport details, educational information, biometric data, commercial information, IP address, phone numbers, PINs, media information, geolocation, and other info.

The point of the CCPA is for consumers to be in control of what information companies store and sell about them. How? It grants consumers the ability to request that their personal information be deleted, requires companies to disclose the information they collect, and requires businesses to inform people of why their information is being held. It also requires them to disclose which third parties receive the information.

Failure to comply with GDPR policies can result in fines up to 4% of your annual revenue. Comparatively, according to the CCPA, depending on how many individual’s rights you violate your punishments could be uncapped. Aside from fines, failing to respect consumer data can cost you a competitive edge over companies that do. Transparency is all the rage these days, with most consumer groups containing a large percentage of millennials. The majority of your online goers are curious about how you are protecting them.

Below is a little list of FAQs companies might come across during their CCPA transition. When on a call with a customer, designing an information collection form, or publishing information for your company – you can think about these requirements as something you might include as part of that process in order to remain transparent along the way:

1.    Is your link to opt out of data or request information on personal data visible and readily available?

The opt-out link should be extremely accessible to consumers on your home page, in their profile settings, or when they sign up to ensure those who want to can do.

2.    Have you updated your company’s privacy page to alert consumers to your compliance?

When the CCPA goes live, people are going to be curious about who has their information and how they can control it. We’ve all had conversations where we are freaking out because we googled monkeys and got advertisements about the zoo. Get ahead of the trends and show your commitment to data privacy and consider issuing an alert to all your customers.

3.    Do you have a process in place to handle data deletion requests at consumer request?

As someone whose job it is to worry about the appearance of your company, ensuring an intentional message and communication of that message is vital. It’s a bad look (read: illegal) if 45 days have gone by and no one has responded to a customer’s request. Ensuring your company can respond to and act on deletion requests in a timely manner could save you from a PR disaster, because it’s proven that only one wrong tweet from the right tweeter can cause a major (and likely avoidable) stink. Getting the response timing down and the process running smoothly can also help your company avoid fines, law suits and/or uncapped penalties.

4.    When customers are filling out forms, is your company including a button that says, “Do Not Sell My personal information”?

It’s the “Do Not Call List” of telemarketing for the internet. Before selling contact information of potential leads, ensure that no one on that list requested you not sell their information – regardless of its obtainability.

Many marketing technology platforms have taken steps to assist marketers with compliance. Keep in mind, that platforms are designed to help you make things happen, but not necessarily help you abide by key pieces of legislation. If someone uses accounting software to launder money – it’s the user, not the platform, that would likely be at fault. With any platform in your tech stack, using it with the basic data privacy regulations in mind will come in handy for preventing fines or misrepresenting your company.

As an example, Oktopost allows users to delete any personal information being stored at an individual’s request. Users can also tailor how long such information might be retained or discontinue any tracking moving forward. We take data privacy seriously at Oktopost and have taken multiple steps to ensure our tool’s ability to accommodate your legal needs. Read more about our company’s security and customer data protection here.

Disclaimer: This article is the result of my research. I am not a lawyer nor am I certified to provide legal advice. If you feel you need legal advice, please consult an attorney regarding laws around CCPA/GDPR/internet privacy compliance. I do not represent the state of California or the EU in any way. For more information please visit GDPR or CCPA.

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Should I use inbound marketing or outbound marketing? The short answer to that question is usually “both”. Not a very helpful answer to a marketer working on a strategy to maximize ROI. With every marketing dollar carrying the heavy tax of justifying its spending to management, you simply can’t shoot in all directions hoping to hit a lead.

Where do you find that balance between outbound and inbound marketing to maximize and grow the flow of leads? What should you consider when concocting a synergic marketing mix to include both? When in the funnel should you be investing more in which of the two? To answer all these questions, let’s start by understanding each of the marketing techniques, its strengths and weaknesses.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing can be simply described as a straightforward business exchange proposition. “Hey there, want to buy my thing?” is your basic message and approach of outbound marketing. It’s the oldest and most fundamental part of any marketing strategy, and is also what non-marketers assume marketing is all about.

Examples of outbound marketing include telemarketing (“cold calls”), paid mailings (both electronic and “snail mail”), advertising (banner ads, radio ads, billboards, etc.) and even door-to-door sales. It’s all about reaching out and pulling the prospect in. However, keep in mind that outbound and inbound are not just about the medium but also about how we use those mediums to deliver a message to our audience. With outbound, as mentioned above, the message is like a focused lazer. Below, I drill down further into the differences – if you want the tl;dr check out this useful infographic.

Strengths of Outbound Marketing

Not only is it the older and better polished set of techniques, outbound marketing generates sales leads almost immediately. It goes beyond saying that it’s no magic wand, but when it comes to “sealing the deal”, your go-to tools are those in your outbound toolbelt.

1. Easier to measure ROI

One of the many reasons marketers default to traditional outbound marketing is the ease of conversion measurement. Display ads, for example, offer friendly analytics showing you which ads and what placements drove online sales. Cold calls end with an eventual purchase or a refusal, which is pretty binary when you look at it. Even with mass media advertising like television and radio, measuring the impact on sales and lead qualification is not impossible.

2. Quicker to show impact

If you’re doing it right, outbound marketing can start showing results almost instantly. A seasoned expert can have a promotional campaign up and running across ad networks in a day or two. With that, leads (or purchases!) can potentially start flowing in as soon as the ad begins to appear in relevant placements.

3. Potentially Personalized

Many outbound marketing techniques can be individually tailored for each potential buyer or client. For example, “cold calls” aren’t always ice cold. They can be hyper-personalized if you have prior data on the business and contact you’re reaching out to. Email marketing can have a personal effect if you use the data available on your lead.

Weaknesses of Outbound Marketing

Many businesses and brands love outbound marketing for its quick and easily measured results. However, they equally hate the cost and too often the reaction of the target audience, which can easily manufacture a negative sentiment toward the brand.

1. Intrusive

Show of hands, please: Who likes telemarketers and unsolicited emails? What, no one? No surprise there! Outbound marketing can be intrusive (though it doesn’t have to be). It interrupts the users’ experience or train of thought with a marketing message that might not always be relevant to them at that specific time.

2. Expensive

Telemarketers, banner ads and mass media ads are expensive. Even if you’re an optimization genius, there’s a price tag on every click and every conversion, and possibly even a bonus for the telemarketer.

3. Ineffective on its own

Using “push” techniques alone and relying on outbound marketing alone throughout the sales funnel is only effective in a very small percentage of cases or on a small scale. When it comes to most brands and businesses, outbound marketing requires the support of many inbound marketing tools. This is especially true when it comes to collecting the data necessary to move forward the lead qualification process with outbound activities.

What is Inbound Marketing?

In short, the idea of inbound marketing is to create a pull effect to bring in pre-qualified leads instead of pushing intrusive messages to “fish” for them.

Inbound marketing activities include opt-in email marketing, content production and promotion, social media, and search engine optimization efforts (SEO), among other things. However, once again, it’s not just about the medium but also about the message itself. With inbound, the purpose is to try and “pull” in members of our target audience with messages and offers that, potentially, have wider appeal.

Using this method, a type of funnel is created with leads coming in at the top of the funnel (TOFU) and being “nurtured” down the funnel with marketing messages tailored to the stage that the lead is in until they are “ready” to be approached with a message directed to start the purchasing process.

Inbound marketing is a relatively new approach, born in the age of digital marketing. However, it has existed long before and the activities we now tag as inbound marketing fell under the branding and positioning umbrella.

For example, decades ago a manufacturer of cars could place a sponsored article in a motorist magazine discussing modern safety features in new family-oriented vehicles. Of course, their newest models would feature all the advanced and additions mentioned in the article. With that article in the back of their minds, potential buyers are more likely to favor that brand when selecting a family vehicle.

Strengths of Inbound Marketing

Though it existed long before social media and even online sales, the inbound methodology has taken over digital advertising by storm in the past decade. With growing banner blindness, do-not-call lists and the rising cost of users’ attention, it’s no wonder so many brands and businesses include inbound marketing in their strategies.

1. Cost-effective

Before you start moving uneasily in your chairs – Yes, inbound can be more cost effective. While it might not be instantly apparent, inbound marketing should give you more bang for the buck over time. Content created once can continue to attract potential clients and form their sentiment toward your brand for years to come. In addition, many inbound marketing activities have little to no cost at all. This is made possible by a plethora of automation and social media management solutions available for free or for a modest fee.

Of course, there are a lot of “if”s that can be interjected here. Inbound efforts work best when a demand is already there. Then, it’s “just” a matter of beating your competitors for your customers’ attention.

2. Unintrusive

Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing is about being there at the right time and with the right content to attract buyers. It’s about relevance. So instead of mass-mailing clients, for example, it would be wiser to invest in being found online for relevant keywords (SEO).

3. Broad

A single cold-call can reach exactly one person. A well crafted and informative article or video can have thousands of people entering your sales funnel with a positive sentiment toward your brand. Obviously, content should still be targeted for your audience / demographic but you’re not constantly scouring for new leads due to the broad reach that content can have through organic search or social media.

Weaknesses of Inbound Marketing

For B2B marketers, it’s often hard to explain the value of inbound marketing to executives who just want to see those leads flowing in and converting. It’s no longer a new approach and methodology, and yet there are reasons brands sometimes hesitate to prioritize inbound marketing activities.

1. Slow to show results

In most cases, a few well-timed social media posts or a good informative blog post are not going to have the phones in the sales department ringing off the hooks. Even if you employ inbound PPC channels like Google Search ads you’ll still need to work leads down the funnel, which takes time. Inbound can, however, contribute to the critical process of lead nurturing – that magical path people take from the moment they hear about you, and the moment they purchase from you.

2. Harder to measure

Although there are numerous approaches, tools and techniques, measuring the impact of inbound marketing on the overall volume of sales is hard. Not only are results slow to appear, but inbound marketing activities can be described like little drops making up the wave that sweeps leads your way. How does one quantify the contribution of each drop, and when?

3. Impersonal

Having a broader reach and appeal, inbound marketing is not a direct one-on-one conversation between the potential client and you. As such, it usually earns less engagement and immediate response from the potential client.

Brewing Your Marketing Mix

Let’s go back to the question we started with: which should you be using – inbound or outbound? And the answer: both. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each, you can see why both are necessary ingredients in your marketing mix. But how much of each, and when?

A number of variables affect the inbound to outbound ratio of every brand, product, campaign, and even specific transaction. The impact of some might be less than of others, depending on your unique business and product.

Deal Size

Traditionally, when it comes to B2B marketing the major differentiator from the B2C world is deal size. Outbound marketing is very resource intensive. It requires segmented email flows, hiring Sales Development Managers, a sales team, and everything that goes along with it. For this to make sense the average deal size that they end up closing needs to be large enough for a positive ROI.

That said, a good example would actually come from the B2C world. One usually does not buy a house without getting personal treatment from a realtor. That personal treatment can make or break a deal, and so the bigger the potential income, the stronger you will lean toward outbound marketing.

Product Type

Products are differentiated not only by the cost (and thus deal size) but also by the level of involvement and complexity of the purchase. For example, a single ad on YouTube or Facebook might get you interested in an app like Monday or Grammar.ly. However, when it comes to selecting an enterprise solution for remote worker collaboration, it’s going to take a lot more to get a foot in the door.

Outbound marketing is critical when it comes to products that require customization, personalization, or additional expenses such as infrastructure or employee education. However, one cannot ignore the importance of lead nurturing for high complexity and involvement purchase decisions.

Funnel Stages

Perhaps the most important variable to influence the balance of inbound / outbound marketing in your mix is the stage of the funnel your lead is at. With inbound marketing working to nurture leads down the funnel, outbound marketing is there to seal the deal at the perfect time and convert that lead.

The Marketing Mix and Match

Combining inbound methodologies and outbound marketing techniques in your marketing mix is not always easy, but is usually worth it. By defining the correct balance between the pull techniques of inbound and the push techniques of outbound, you can combine both to create an optimized lead nurturing and conversion process. It all depends on how well you know your target audience, and how willing you are to make the effort to cater to their needs along the journey down the funnel.

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Almost 1,500 years ago, the general and philosopher Sun Tzu wrote that the best way to win a battle is to “know your enemy.” Change a word or two, and that could be equally solid advice for today’s professional marketers. Customers aren’t your enemy — but if you want to win the battle for their hearts, minds, and revenue, it pays to know them well.

Savvy marketers looking to gain ground in hotly contested markets will turn their attention to Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). These are invaluable resources for gaining insights into the minds of customers and potential customers.

Let’s take a deep dive into CDPs and learn what they are, what makes them different, who they’re for, and the top 10 currently available.

What is a CDP?

A CDP is a software package that creates a centralized hub for (mostly first-party) customer data. It pools data from multiple sources into a single, unified customer database. They are designed to identify individual customers across all channels and devices. By making intelligent connections between collected data points, they create a customer profile. Think of it as a CRM on steroids, in the cloud; connected to and feeding your customer or lead acquisition platforms with data in real-time. 

This profile can be used as a predictive model to determine how to reach and retain that customer. Customer profiles can be assembled from fragmentary data collected from mobile devices, point of sale terminals, website, emails, and any other marketing channel you can think of.

CDP Vs. DMP Vs. CRM: Setting the Record Straight

There can be confusion over the differences between CDPs, DMPs (data management platforms), and CRM platforms (customer relationship management). It’s not just the similar acronyms — these products do share some overlapping features. However, the differences are significant.

DMPs collect anonymous data from the web and other digital sources to show the big-picture patterns and demographics driving customer decisions.

CRM systems can track your existing customers. However, they aren’t designed to identify the anonymous potential customers interacting with your marketing elements that have not yet made a purchase.

DPMs are usually used to aggregate or pool third-party data into a single point and leverage that data for better messaging, targeting, etc.

Naturally, in today’s digital eco-system, where software providers are extremely concerned with staying innovative and relevant there is a lot of overlap. It is not uncommon for DMP companies to offer a CDP solution (Adobe is a great example) or for CRM companies to add a CDP to their offering (Salesforce, for example).

Regardless, the idea behind the CDP is to bring customer data together with a greater focus on first-party data. This is not only better for simplified compliance with GDPR and other privacy/consumer protection regulations, it’s also better for leveraging your own data in impactful ways.

Who Is a CDP For?

Most CDP providers design for marketers as end users, rather than IT departments. CDPs do not require a high level of dependence on IT or development teams. This gives marketing departments granular control over customer data collection, segmentation, and campaign orchestration.

For retailers, the benefits of CDPs are probably readily apparent. But are CDPs for B2B companies, too?

In fact, CDPs have tremendous potential for B2B companies. The data in a B2B CRM is highly valuable, and if leveraged with external data sources, it can be used to create targeted, effective ads that get in front of large B2B buyers.

The Top 10 CDPs

When it comes to CDPs, there are many feature-rich options available to fit your particular needs. Here are ten of the best:

1. Optimove

For Optimove, the key ingredient to an effective CDP is the strong grasp of the data science underpinning its analytics and insights. Optimove uses unique technology and a science-based approach. It delivers and manages highly segmented, behavior-driven customer messaging in realtime across any relevant marketing channels.

The CDP is offered on a monthly subscription basis at multiple pricing tiers. Optimove’s clients include such big brands as Staples and Family Dollar. They report being highly satisfied with the platform’s ease of use, analytics quality, and customer support. Clients also praise Optimove’s ability to reduce churn rate.

2. Oktopost

Strictly speaking Oktopost is not a CDP. The reason we decided to include ourselves on this list is for companies who don’t yet have a CDP, Oktopost offers a significant, yet less difficult to implement, step on the way to adopting a CDP. For B2B and considered purchase companies, CDPs can also offer a solution to the attribution mess that can be omni-channel marketing.

Through integration with marketing automation and CRM platforms, Oktopost closes the gaps of first party data to create a B2B CDP that is ready to use and leverage right out of the gate. This is actually a very cost effective and quick solution for companies that already have a robust CRM and marketing automation operation.

We’re raising the banner on demonstrating the true ROI of social media marketing campaigns. Therefore, our platform has been designed around making direct connections between social media interactions on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites; and the specific customer interactions that result from those posts and updates.

3. Exponea

Realtime updates and AI-driven personalization power this CDP. Exponea is designed to be a single solution for customer acquisition, conversion, and retention. It handles data gathering and communication along the entire customer journey, across all channels, devices, and touchpoints.

Exponea also integrates with a wide range of third-party tools. Built from the ground up, Exponea offers a variety of packages at competitive pricing levels.

Clients report enjoying the way Exponea empowers marketing departments. It does so by providing them with extensive analytic capabilities, campaign management tools, and machine learning features that optimize their predictive recommendations. This platform also gets high marks for being easy to use and frequently updated.

4. Listrak

Listrak’s platform is built to deliver results for retailers in the form of greater engagement, higher revenue, and stronger customer loyalty. This CDP unifies customer data from all sources into a single centralized platform.

It can generate unique data visualizations; analyze customer behavior patterns; and craft smart, hyper-personalized and micro-segmented communications that speak directly to customers’ prime interests and concerns.

Serving clients such as Papyrus, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and T-Mobile, Listrak reportedly has a steeper learning curve than some other CDPs listed here. However, Listrak comes recommended for its versatility, automation capabilities, and support team.

5. Segment

One of Segment’s primary goals is to make integration easy and seamless. It accomplishes this with a platform that has a powerful, easy-to-use API and an extensive network of partners.

The idea behind the design makes it easy to incorporate a new app or service into your analytics, marketing campaigns, or data storage solution. When you do so, Segment will be there with the digital infrastructure to make it happen with minimal labor and hassle.

Strictly speaking, Segment is more of a Data Warehouse. It can aggregate data from several different sources, house it, and then push that data into other channels. It doesn’t offer most of the features offered by enterprise CDPs but its affordable rate can help smaller companies leverage its capabilities.

Features include realtime monitoring, dynamic UI with modifiable dashboards, and raw data access for manual analytics and interpretation. Segment offers a free package, a $120 per month subscription for small businesses, and custom pricing for larger implementations.

6. Tealium

The Tealium Universal Data Hub platform includes the AudienceStream CDP. The platform pulls fragmented data from widespread sources into a unified whole. This enables businesses to gather, interpret, analyze, and act on customer data, while rigorously safeguarding the security and privacy of sensitive customer information.

AudienceStream allows clients to set up custom rules for customer profiles, establish identities across devices and channels, and take actions in realtime. Learning how to use AudienceStream effectively may take some time and commitment, but the results can be well worth it. Tealium clients include the Utah Jazz, St. Joseph’s Health, and other notable organizations.

7. CaliberMind

CaliberMind is an intelligent platform that uses chain-based attribution to weigh the actual value of each channel’s contribution to your customer journeys. It’s designed to manage customer accounts through their entire life cycle.

CaliberMind empowers marketing and sales teams with data-derived insights that help them evaluate their campaign performance, and determine which channels are getting results. Pricing starts at $1,000 per month, scaling upward based on the number of records and connections. Clients include Frontline Education, Everbridge, and Fidelis Cybersecurity.

8. ActionIQ

ActionIQ is an enterprise-scale, cloud-based CDP designed to help marketers and analysts manage cross-channel campaigns powered by customer data. It provides an accurate picture of by measuring lift across all channels.

ActionIQ’s customers include industry leaders such as The New York Times, Saks Fifth Avenue, Verizon, and Gap Inc.

9. mParticle

mParticle is intended to be a fast, efficient vehicle for centralizing and synchronizing customer data. It attempts to provide comprehensive, holistic customer profiles that offer true insights and understanding.

mParticle is designed to use customer data to increase user engagement, build loyalty, and reduce vendor costs.

Clients like Venmo and Postmates have used it to capture the full range of marketing interactions with customers on all relevant devices and channels.

10. Datorama

Datorama provides centralized marketing intelligence on a robust and flexible platform. Specializing in cleaning up and presenting data in an organized, clear, and actionable format, Datorama offers cross-channel visibility and AI-powered analytics.

It easily integrates with Google Analytics and many other third-party resources. Their pricing structure is based on data row usage rather than the number of customers. Datorama
counts Pepsi, Unilever, and Ticketmaster among its clients.

Conclusion

Knowing your customers isn’t just about coming up with campaigns and ads that will get them to keep clicking and browsing. When you really know your customers, you can see the pathways toward providing them with the products and experiences they truly want. A CDP is a terrific tool to point your company in that direction.

When it comes to choosing a CDP provider, companies have many choices. Finding the choice that delivers more conversions, greater retention, increased revenue, and the highest ROI will take some thoughtful consideration.Marketing managers, and executives in charge of selecting a CDP solution, need to match up the specific needs and challenges of their organization with the CDP provider that’s best equipped to meet them. In this way, a company will derive the many benefits of the customer profiles produced by CDPs.

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Marketing may no longer be the ineffable art it was in the past. It used to be the case that “marketing” was essentially a black box that you’d pour money into, hoping to see a sales increase at the other end. But these days, marketing, and especially digital marketing, has become highly focused on data, analytics, and determining the return on investment for initiatives launched under the marketing banner.

Marketing executives have become practically obsessed with tracking every dollar spent on ad campaigns, sponsorship, blogging, video content, social media, influencers, and other data points. It’s a healthy obsession, as long as the metrics being evaluated are sound. No stone is left unturned in the quest to attribute spent marketing dollars to lead generation and other sales-boosting efforts.

The eternal CEO question is, where did the marketing department’s budget go? Despite conscious efforts to stick to data-driven analysis with the goal of providing accurate and specific answers, attribution is still not where it should be. Part of the reason for that is an ongoing divergence of opinion over the type of measurement model to use.

Let’s take a deeper look into Attribution Modeling, its various subtypes, and another option called Marketing Mix Modeling, to see if we can discern which is the correct protocol for attribution measurement.

What Is Attribution Modeling?

Attribution Modeling is the bottom-up approach to measuring marketing efficacy. It analyzes the paths users take toward conversion by examining data at every step along the process, attempting to identify the value of each individual marketing initiative component.

This method originated from the pressures and requirements of eCommerce, where all manner vast amounts of data are (and many believe should) captured and analyzed. For this reason, attribution modeling tends to focus on online sales, advertising, and other conversion efforts. As more and more marketers integrate their online and offline channels, attribution models must take a wider view to account for offline interactions that less easily yield their data.

The granular approach of attribution modeling means that data is analyzed frequently, in real time, or as close as is feasible.

What Types of Attribution Models Exist?

Due to the wealth of available data and the vast number of marketing channels currently in use, there are several types of attribution models that can be applied by analysts. Depending on your business type and particular sales goals, each one has different strengths, weaknesses, and areas of focus.

1. Last Interaction

In the earliest days of eCommerce, the only model marketers had to go by was giving all the credit for a conversion to the last lead a user interacted with. For many analysts, it’s still the default method.

Here’s an example: a user sees a Google ad for your website while searching for a product. The next day, they remember your site and visit it directly. A week later, they see an ad you’ve placed on Twitter, decide to finally make a purchase, and then they click on the ad. The Twitter ad gets 100% of the credit for that sale.

Should it, though? That ad may have provided a helpful nudge to get them to complete the conversion process, but didn’t they learn about your company from the Google ad first? Could the reason the Twitter ad was effective have been that the content and design of your website made a good impression when the user visited it independently?

As you can see, there are certainly issues not being considered in this particular model.

2. First Interaction

This model assigns all the credit to the source of the user’s first introduction to your business.

Using the previous example, in this model the Google ad would have been credited with the conversion. It would receive the credit no matter what other ads, sponsored content, or social media posts the customer interacted with between seeing that first Google ad and making their purchase.

3. Last Non-direct Click

Like the last two models, this one awards all credit to a single interaction. The difference is that the Last Non-direct Click model reasons that any direct interactions, such as when a user goes straight to your website by typing the URL, should not get any credit. In this model, those actions only represent the user remembering that your site exists because of exposure to previous marketing efforts.

An example of Last Non-direct Click would be a user clicking on a Facebook ad for your product, then, the following day, the user decides to check out your site and order something. Under the last non-direct click attribution method, the Facebook ad gets credited with the successful conversion.

4. Linear Attribution

This model divides the credit up equally among all the interactions a user had before conversion.

Using Linear Attribution in our initial user example, 33% of the credit would go to the Google ad, 33% to the content and design of your website, and 33% to the Twitter ad.

This model is simple and fair (in a way) but if you’re going to apportion out the credit, does it make sense to assume that each interaction was equally influential?

5. Time Decay Attribution

This evocatively-named model builds on the linear attribution model. It factors in when each interaction took place, and assigns greater importance to interactions that occurred closest to the time of purchase. While it can be helpful to focus on the marketing pushes that motivate customers to close the deal, this model still relies on some unknowable assumptions.

For instance, in our initial example the time decay model would place the greatest value on the Twitter ad. To the customer, that ad might have served only as a simple reminder that they already knew and liked your company. Any other mention of your company, anywhere else, might have had the same effect on them. Based on that analysis, it wouldn’t necessarily be effective to invest more heavily in Twitter ads.

6. U-shaped Attribution (Position Based Attribution)

Also known as position-based attribution, this model takes yet another split-the-difference approach to allocating conversion credit. It gives 40% to the first interaction, 40% to the last interaction, and 20% to be divided among all the interactions that took place in-between. You can imagine this model plotted as a U-shaped graph, thus the name.

Other Attribution Models

These are the six most often used attribution models. There are other attribution models that can be derived by modifying these basic concepts, or limiting them to specific marketing channels. As you can see from the previous descriptions, each can be fairly limiting in how it attributes a conversion, and the derivative models further silo the results.

However, there is another type of model we can use that originated with traditional, offline marketing: Marketing Mix Modeling.

What Is Marketing Mix Modeling?

Marketing Mix Modeling developed in the retail sector. In this model, businesses attempt to measure the success of marketing activities like TV, radio, print ads, and promotional efforts at the point of sale. Unlike attribution modeling, it deprecates real-time analysis in favor of performing annual, biannual, or quarterly analysis using aggregated historical data.

Rather than focusing on user interactions, marketing mix modeling takes more of a top-down, macro-level view. It draws on marketing and sales data, revenue, benchmarks, costs, and outside factors. Outside factors include economic and market conditions, competitors, profit margins, and anything else that might influence consumer behavior.

Let’s look closer, and see how it works.

How Does the Marketing Mix Model Work?

The “mix” in marketing mix refers to four key marketing elements: product, price, place, and promotion. Through marketing mix modeling, the hope is to discover the optimal mix of these four elements to meet your company’s objectives. It does this by taking data from all the factors that may be influencing the success of your marketing channels, and performing a regression analysis.

A regression analysis evaluates the impact of multiple independent variables on a single dependent variable, such as your sales figures. It plots these variables on a chart, then calculates a “regression line” that attempts to explain the relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable.

In theory, the line should illustrate how much your sales are affected by each component of your marketing strategy. The marketing mix model is intended to help you “zoom out” to see the bigger picture of how effectively all your marketing channels are working together.

What’s the Best Model for Your Business?

The main advantage that marketing mix models have over attribution models is that they can account for a wide range of data.

This makes marketing mix a good choice for businesses that have:

  • Several different marketing channels.
  • An online and a brick-and-mortar presence.
  • A diverse selection of products or locations.
  • Complex sets of marketing data to evaluate.

For businesses that have a simpler, straightforward marketing strategy to measure—an online retailer with relatively few marketing channels, for example—attribution modeling may be sufficient. This is because it’s an easier analytic process, and does not need to account for the impact of multiple concurrent marketing channels.

Conclusion

Compared to the mysterious marketing of the past, businesses are much better off having the ability to perform rigorous data analysis that shows exactly what works and what doesn’t. These attribution models will point you in the direction of the questions you should be asking, and the marketing avenues you should be exploring.

Remember that while these models are driven by data science, there’s still an art to building and understanding them correctly. Your results are only as good as the data they’re based on, and it’s always possible to confuse correlation with causation when interpreting them. Intuition still matters, and unusual results should be investigated thoroughly.

Selecting a model that accurately attributes credit for sales to specific marketing activities can be challenging, but there’s no denying the value of being able to clearly quantify the return on your marketing investments.

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Attribution. It’s hard to deny that it is the biggest marketing concern in 2019. Especially, for lead generation. Especially, for B2B and Considered Purchase marketing. digital companies now have a veritable plethora of viable and effective marketing channels available for lead generation. These include social media, paid search, organic search, paid social, affiliates, email marketing, marketing automation, and many more.

In addition, today’s buyers are also more complex in their purchasing patterns. In 2015, the average B2B nurture funnel was 12 months long with the full marketing and sales funnel taking about 512 days from lead to sale on average!

Considered purchase funnels are not quite there yet but moving in the direction of B2B funnels. The average consumer comes in contact with a brand 6 times on average before they purchase, which is 4 times higher than it was 15 years ago.

2/3 of touch points in the considered purchase funnel involve time consuming processes like online reviews and word of mouth recommendations from friends and family.

So not only are there several touch points on the way to purchase but many of those are extremely different to measure and attribute to the lead. So, what’s a marketer to do?! How can marketers better understand where to invest their budgets if they can’t be sure which marketing channel to attribute success or failure to. The irony is that as omni-channel marketing becomes more complex the more difficult it becomes to create attribution model, which in turn makes strategy that much more important while at the same time making it very difficult to develop.

Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem—or are there?

According to ChiefMarTech, there are over 7,040 marketing technology solutions designed to help marketers reach their audiences digitally and accurately. Almost 200 of those solutions are designed specifically to track your user data, and attribute leads to resources you’ve spent.

This cacophony of attribution solutions has created an ironic situation. Instead of simplifying things, the abundance of “solutions” can create further complications. Figuring out the right solution for your company’s needs can be difficult. Some might shy away from this but a good place to start figuring out the right attribution software for your needs is understanding the right attribution model for your customer/user journey.

What Are Attribution Models?

An attribution model is a set of rules that helps you determine a consistent way to assign credit for sales to the various touch points in your customers’ path to conversion. A common and very simple one is the “last click” attribution model, which gives credit for a purchase to whatever marketing element a customer last interacted with.

In other words, a customer can view your Facebook ads, click on a banner ad, search for your business on several search engines, and then visit your site after seeing your ad on YouTube. The YouTube ad would get 100% of the credit for that conversion.

Obviously, this model doesn’t account for the fact that the customer was exposed to your business through other marketing channels, and as such is somewhat flawed. More sophisticated attribution models exist to account for situations like this, where it’s not clear which channel deserves the credit.

In fact, this model is on its way out from the digital attribution landscape largely because it reduces marketing content to direct and aggressive pitches that no longer work as well.

Why Multi-Touch Attribution Models Dominate the Landscape

The modern customer journey is not linear. That’s why first click or last click attribution models tend to miss the big picture, and fail to provide an accurate representation of what the customer journey is really like. This means multi-touch attribution models tend to provide a more accurate representation of attribution. However, they don’t come without their own set of problems, which is probably why many marketers are still reluctant to adopt them.

Facebook Vs. Google

Combined, Facebook and Google dominate 58% of digital ad spending. For many marketers, they are by far the most significant marketing channels, if not the only ones they utilize. However, the most common attribution platform, Google Analytics, has no idea what happens in Facebook ads, and Facebook Analytics has no understanding of the Google programmatic exchange.

So, with most digital businesses using Facebook and Google Analytics for tracking and attribution, they aren’t actually able to determine the correct attributions to their social media marketing channels, free or paid. That’s one reason why “dark social” is one of the biggest lead attribution issues facing digital marketing.

With the possibility of attribution inaccuracy in different models, Facebook, and Google Analytics, how does one figure out what exactly is driving leads to a business?

Marketing Attribution Software to the Rescue

The answer lies in finding the right marketing attribution software solution. But with over 7,000 software platforms vying to solve the problem of marketing attribution, how do you know which is the right one to choose for your business?

While every business serves its own market, and has different needs and constraints, there are a few universally helpful features that we always like to see:

  • Easy implementation
  • Various attribution model options
  • Link tracking and creation
  • Channel management (separate reporting for each channel)
  • Omni-channel reporting (reporting that includes all channels in one)
  • Accuracy in both big-picture and fine-grained analysis
  • Reasonable pricing

Keeping those prerequisites in mind, here’s our list of winning choices for your business.

The Top 10 Marketing Attribution Software Solutions for 2019 1. Altitude by Impact

Altitude promises deep insights into customer behaviors, which it delivers by offering a wide range of customization options for reporting and attribution modeling. Their internal analytics suites offer a choice of rules-based or machine learning modeling, and, if needed, you can supply your own ruleset.

However, with great analytics power comes a great deal of setup and maintenance. Fortunately, Impact provides excellent ongoing support to help you get the most out of their product. “It takes a long time to set up and QA Altitude until you can trust the data,” writes one reviewer, “but it can yield great insights once fully set up.”

2. Oktopost

Dark social is a big issue because most social networks are closed gardens. First of all, social networks don’t share a lot of their data with external tracking tools. Secondly, social networks are based on user-generated content which lacks customized links with attribution parameters like UTMs. Oktopost was built by marketers, for marketers. It comes with the promise of bringing all social data into your CRM, and providing visibility into the role that social media plays in multi-touch attribution.

With its specialized focus on social media marketing, Oktopost fills a vital niche for many digital businesses. It demonstrates the value that social media brings to lead generation not just brand awareness. If you look at it like a social media management tool then it’s probably the cheapest solution out there but if you consider the value it brings to lead attribution it’s a must have, if we do say so ourselves.

3. Nielsen Visual IQ

Visual IQ offers holistic measurement solutions intended to help businesses maximize the efficacy of their marketing efforts. Their proprietary, algorithmic attribution model, TrueAttribution, uses a multi-touch approach to help you understand what is and isn’t working.

The exact methodologies used by Visual IQ are kept tightly under wraps, but they have a good track record of accuracy. While some users report that getting it configured properly can be a bit of a struggle, others praise it as user-friendly with a fast learning curve and excellent support. “Visual IQ has been willing to develop new solutions and reports to help answer many of our business challenges, and we feel they are a true partner,” says one reviewer.

4. Neustar

Neustar’s attribution platform is able to bring in data from mobile and offline marketing channels.  It’s a great choice for companies pursuing leads outside of strictly the web and social media.

A few criticisms have been raised about its interface ease-of-use, but Neustar’s support team is first-rate. Its variety of components makes it a strong choice for businesses that require a flexible approach. One reviewer calls Neustar “the definitive platform for combining online and offline insights.”

5. Ruler Analytics

The multi-channel attribution model employed by Ruler Analytics uses a revenue-centered approach called the “closed loop framework”.  It identifies individual customers as it tracks them, then integrates their data into your analytics, CRM, and other products. Once that customer finalizes a purchase, it accurately attributes proportional credit back to the channels, campaigns, and keywords that influenced the conversion.

Users describe Ruler Analytics as easy to use, with a reach that goes beyond standard tools like Google Analytics. One user missed having a date range comparison feature, but praises Ruler Analytics for “identifying high value leads that might have slipped through the cracks.”

6. Kochava

With the goal to provide a robust, configurable solution for web and mobile marketing attribution, Kochava’s Unified Audience Platform can track users across different devices and platforms. It offers a wide array of features, high level support, fraud detection tools, and a reputation for outstanding accuracy. As one reviewer puts it, “Their customer service and client support is the best in the industry. We have had many other software vendors and none come close.”

There are a few notable caveats. Because Kochava is powerful and complex, the initial setup can be daunting, and bugs do occasionally pop up. Some users have also had a hard time configuring the reports to their liking.

7. Google Attribution 360

Companies that advertise through Google would be well-advised to take advantage of the tech giant’s inside knowledge of its own platform. Google’s analytics products go through changes fairly frequently, and their enterprise-level attribution software is still in beta.

Some users are concerned that Google may favor their own channels when providing reports on campaign efficacy. One reviewer who obviously uses a lot of Google products notes, “I like that it brings together Analytics, Adwords, and DoubleClick Search all into one.”

8. Statcounter

If you’re on a tight budget, Statcounter might be the solution for you. They offer a free plan for small businesses that is fast and easy to set up. Statcounter works by embedding code in your website that tracks and monitors users’ actions, which are then processed and analyzed.

Statcounter may not have features as diverse and in-depth as some of its competitors, but there’s no question they’re a perfect fit for some companies. “The data in Statcounter is tremendous and easy to understand,” one satisfied reviewer writes. “We can get complete details on user activity and profiles including their browser information, locations, pages visited, duration of visits, and lots more.”

9. Invoca

This may be hard to believe, but even in 2019, some people still prefer to do business over the phone instead of online. Strange but true! But how do you perform attribution for phone sales? Enter Invoca, which uses AI-powered call tracking and analytics to help connect the dots from your phone orders to your marketing channels.

Invoca may be a little on the costly side, but for companies who do the bulk of their business over the phone, they might be the optimal solution. According to one reviewer, “With analysis and voice calls, you can optimize the entire purchase path, click to call. It is amazingly efficient. You can understand why customers are calling, and make the respective improvements to offer better service.”

10. Appsflyer

In some markets, all the action is happening on mobile apps. Appsflyer was designed to prioritize businesses in those markets, by focusing on providing the best possible mobile attribution and marketing analytics platform.

With a dedicated security and privacy team, Appsflyer takes data protection seriously. Users have high praise for its accuracy, customer service, and user interface. “We are able to solve install attribution, targeting segments, ad attribution, purchase and new buyer attribution via Appsflyer,” writes one reviewer.

Conclusion

Choosing the right attribution solution can be a headache if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Not every marketing attribution software platform is ideally suited for every type of business. Making the correct choice for your company depends greatly on what marketing channels you use, and what type of information you need to extract. Using one of these Top 10 Marketing Attribution Software Solutions will put your business on the right path to more efficient marketing and higher conversion rates in 2019.

Reviewer quotes sourced from Capterra and G2

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We’re delighted to introduce two new features that were recently made available by Facebook: Instagram Videos and Hashtags Search.

Instagram Videos

When Instagram launched videos in 2013, over 5 million videos were uploaded in the first 24 hours. In 2017, Instagram reported that time spent on watching videos has increased by more than 80% while the number of videos created per day has quadrupled from the year before.

Videos are a great way to promote your brand and boost engagement, so no wonder that we’re super excited that Facebook finally made Instagram video publishing available for marketing partners.

In Oktopost, you can now post videos directly to Instagram from the post-console. To publish a video to Instagram, choose a video from your media library or upload one from your computer. Note that Instagram supports videos up to 60 seconds long and up to 100MB in size. For the full requirements list, you can reference the Instagram video upload requirements article on our knowledge base.

Instagram Hashtags

Searching for relevant conversations on Instagram is a great way to find new prospects and influencers, to talk about your brand and related topics, and to engage with your audience directly.

Facebook has recently reinstated the option to search for hashtags on Instagram, addressing user privacy concerns that were raised in 2018 by removing personal information from the feed.

In Oktopost, this option is also now available again with the same limitation. You can search for posts containing specific hashtags from the Streams. The identity of the person who posted the content will not be available, but you will be able to click through to each conversation and engage with the user natively on Instagram.

To learn more about the new Instagram features, please feel free to visit our knowledge base or contact us.

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