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Just 45 minutes before a client meeting, a colleague asked me for help with a dashboard they were presenting about lead generation performance. When done well, it should take five seconds to understand the story a dashboard is telling – it took me five minutes to decipher this dashboard. I couldn’t imagine it was going to be any easier for those in the meeting! The best dashboards empower our B2B clients to ask and answer questions about their marketing performance and make data-driven business decisions. Dynamic, interactive dashboards uplevel static spreadsheets or reports and make data approachable and intuitive to clients. This is the story of the principles I used, under a tight timeline, to effectively visualize data for our clients.

Original dashboard

Understand the audience and why the data matters to them

The right way to design a dashboard all depends on who is going to use it and the insights they need. Before I could help my colleague with the redesign, they had to explain to me that the main user of the report was the client’s marketing manager who needed to have a 360-degree view of the leads that we had helped generate thus far. The main questions the marketing manager needed answered were:

  • In what channel was the lead’s initial touchpoint?
  • What stage are they in the buyer journey?
  • How have they engaged with the client since becoming a lead?
  • What campaigns did they come from?

Once I was able to understand the audience and the questions that needed to be answered with the dashboard, I was able to begin the redesign.

The approach

My approach to redesigning this dashboard was to make sure our client could not only answer existing questions they had about lead generation performance, but that they could ask new questions based on the data.

Interactive dashboards enable users to ask questions of the data based on what they see, which allows them to explore beyond the prebaked questions that they have. They allow users to stay in the flow of analysis without needing to use dropdown filters. They are most effective when a user can drill into row-level data based on what they are seeing in the aggregated data.

I focused on three principles to ensure that our client was able to dynamically understand the lead generation performance based on the strategy that we were helping them implement – simplify, situate, and clarify.

Simplify

The goal here is to make sure that every visual in the dashboard is intentional and not repetitive.

I repurposed the four visuals below so that each one provided a different perspective on our lead generation activity. I condensed the two leads by stage (# and %) into one. The Leads by UTM Campaign table is the most granular in the dashboard, so we weren’t doing the client any favors by having additional attributes in there. I removed UTM Source from the Leads by UTM Campaign table and created a separate visual for UTM Source.

Step 1

Now that we had our visuals simplified, the next step was to situate the visuals so that our client would be able to drill easily into campaign information.

Situate

The positioning of the visuals is a crucial aspect to our client’s ability to stay in the flow of analysis while drilling into specific campaign information. People engage with dashboards in the same way they read books: left to right, top to bottom. As such, the highest aggregation should be in the top left, and each visual should incrementally lead to the most granular information in the bottom right-hand corner. I positioned the cards across the top so that the client would be able to get a pulse on the lead generation performance with a quick glance. I then reordered the four visuals to reflect the sequence in which our clients asked the questions that I stated in the introduction:

  • In what channel was the lead’s initial touchpoint?
  • What stage are they in the buyer journey?
  • How have they engaged with the client since becoming a lead?
  • What campaigns did they come from?
Step 2

Clarify

My philosophy behind creating an interactive dashboard was useless if our client did not know what they were viewing. As such, my last step was to make sure the client would be able to understand and interact with the data.

I wanted to make sure the dashboard reflected how our client understood their lead generation strategy. I translated the titles and database nomenclature within the report into marketing terms that they would easily understand. I changed the Leads by Stage visualization to resemble a funnel. We had helped our client implement those stages to help them understand where their leads were in the sales funnel – so I wanted the visualization to be consistent with the methodology that we had helped them adopt.

In order to make sure our client understood how the dashboard works, I added a with instructions in the top left corner and added instructions in red under the titles of the four visuals.

Given that the primary metric in this dashboard is lead count, I wanted to make sure that the colors were consistent in each of the visuals so that the client could easily understand that the metric being aggregated was lead count.

Final result

Conclusion

In just 45 minutes, these three principles helped transform this report from seemingly disparate charts on a page to an intuitive, interactive dashboard that our client could use to understand and further explore lead generation performance.

As an agency, dashboards are not just an opportunity for us to help our clients understand their marketing performance. They are a tool to empower both the client and us at the agency to ask new questions and uncover insights that together help us run more effective marketing strategies.

The post Where potential meets purpose: Maximizing the value of dashboards appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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We’re proud to announce that our Philly office has just been awarded the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Best Places to Work in Greater Philadelphia.

As we’ve grown, we’ve worked hard to ensure that what we love about working at Yesler extends to all our offices around the world. Whether an employee works in Singapore or Philly or from home or on the road, we strive to offer the same benefits and community. So, we couldn’t be more proud.

Want to join an award-winning team? We’re hiring in all our locations. Check out our openings.

And as always, if you want to talk about how our award-winning team can help make your marketing programs work better for you, just get in touch.

The post Yesler Philly Office Voted A Best Place to Work appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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At Yesler, we have a global, cross-functional marketing operations practice of more than 100 people working across nearly every time zone in the world, and we support clients with similar and larger marketing operations organizations.

It might sound like it’s just a group of people working to get marketing into market, and in fact, that’s how it’s typically thought of: as a task center. But for us at Yesler, it’s an interdisciplinary group with the potential to realize efficiencies and scale that tech alone can’t.

Marketing operations makes marketing run, period. That includes building and running marketing automation programs, creating processes, and everything in between. In other words, marketing ops is the glue that holds the enterprise marketing team together.

The critical element is collaboration. Large teams like ours and those of our clients need to be able to collaborate efficiently and in a way that doesn’t disrupt workflow or projects. Doing this is an ongoing effort that everyone on the team will need to commit to and put the work into achieving.

Collaboration starts with company culture by ensuring that commitment to this kind of collaboration is valued and is a prerequisite for efficiency. For smaller teams this kind of commitment is more natural and easier to do. The larger and more specialized the roles across a team, the more challenging it is and the more structure required.

Changes to the team, processes, tools all affect how teams collaborate. Given that there is nothing constant in a large global org except change, you need to account for constant change as part of how you approach your organizational structure and your work.

Here are practices we use at Yesler to promote collaboration in a cross-functional marketing operations organization to achieve global alignment and efficiencies at scale.

Establish a leadership team

Identify leaders in the marketing operations crew to help lead and pave the way to a collaborative future. Call them “Collaboration Champions” and ask them to demonstrate a commitment to both collaboration and efficiency. Nominate those who work well with a lot of different types of people, who show aptitude for getting it done and understanding how marketing works, strategically and tactically. Those are your marketing ops leaders.

The leadership team must know the ins and outs of projects, stakeholders, and teams. Mixing and matching interpersonal styles and skill sets ensures that your best is represented on the team. Involve risk takers as well as the cautious and those who think short-term and long-term and the more process-oriented and detail-oriented.

Don’t expect leaders to possess skills in all disciplines in practice across the org but do expect them to know enough that they can speak the language. Leaders must be able to check each other and the team to improve collaboration and they must work through resistance to new tools and new processes.

Give the leadership team the leeway and runway to make decisions that will affect people outside of marketing ops. If marketing ops changes an SLA, the change will ripple through the larger marketing org. Setting SLAs seems like a small thing but think about the effect a change in SLA might have on a marketing org of 115 marketers, all of whom are trying to use marketing ops to get their campaign into market. So, leaders must be able to oversee these kinds of decisions to be able to communicate changes and adjust other processes as needed to keep things running smoothly.

Identify successes and challenges

Gather feedback from all teams on what’s working and what isn’t. (It might surprise you to find similarities among them.) Then turn challenges into common goals for the team.

For example, Yesler’s marketing operations had difficulty assigning tasks to teams in another practice area. Different disciplines use different terminology and have different requirements, so communication between them about what is needed to complete the tasks was often missed. It frustrated both requestors and receivers. We turned the challenge into a goal by creating request forms to gather required information for a task. And then we gathered feedback two weeks later to see how well it worked.

Connect the team

Don’t let the teams work in siloes from each other. Select key members of each team and set up meet-and-greets. You can’t collaborate with other teams if you don’t know who is on that team and who you can contact for help.

Define roles and responsibilities

Document the roles and responsibilities of each team member and store it in a central place (i.e. a knowledge base, like a Wiki, your intranet, or a product like Confluence) so that everyone knows what role does what or can find out by looking at the list.

Speak the same language

Review terminology with your teams. This will prevent confusion and extra work in the long-term. Do you use three different terms to refer to one thing? That’s a problem. Establish consistent terms so everyone understands what is being discussed.

Tools

Make sure that teams are trained on communication tools and team processes. These could be Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, or a project management tool. Everyone needs to understand the purpose of each tool and how to use them for the processes in place. Make it a required training when onboarding and training new team members.

Centralize communication

Getting pinged from all different directions isn’t collaboration. Centralize communications into one system. Is it email? Is it a project management tool? Is it chat? Having all, or most, of your communication in one system makes it visible to the rest of the team.

Yesler’s marketing operations team uses a project management tool called Wrike to centralize communications about projects, and we use Microsoft 365 tools, like Teams, to help keep conversations out of email.

Processes

If you don’t have a process for each repeating scenario, you’re going to get a lot of head-scratchers coming to you with a lot of questions. Document what works and what needs improvement, then reduce the steps it takes to accomplish a task.

When there is a new change or request, take into account all who are affected by the change and ask them for feedback. Also consider the impact on any existing tools or processes. If you want to know more about how intake processes typically work, read more about it in our post on the topic.

Make collaboration easy

Whatever you do, make sure that the tools and processes you’ve got in place facilitate collaboration. Gather feedback from the teams about what’s working and what needs to improve. Completing tasks shouldn’t require long or complicated processes; simplify them so you can scale and working together is easier.

As your team or work grows, you’ll outgrow tools, too. When you do, this will hinder collaboration. You’ll need tools that can handle increased complexity. Yesler’s marketing operations team has helped clients switch project management tools so they can handle higher volumes of work and work more flexibility than the previous PM tool could do. We moved to Wrike when lightweight PM tools like Microsoft Planner and Trello couldn’t scale with us.

Before switching tools or changing processes, identify pain points and compare tools and different processes against your requirements. Make sure to test new tools and processes with a smaller team before you roll it out globally!

Training

In an always-changing and always-growing environment, training is ongoing. Schedule cross-functional trainings held by team members about different aspects of the projects they work on. Hold a weekly video call with your teams to give updates and how-tos or trainings. For more technical or complicated changes, schedule a separate time for focused training. It’s all about sharing knowledge and staying up-to-date.

Feedback

And continuously gather feedback because there is always room for improvement and your teams are motivated to do their best work. In the beginning, gather feedback more often as you fine-tune processes. Once teams get into the swing of things, go to a monthly cadence and then quarterly after that. Gather it during one-on-ones with team leads and send surveys to broader teams. Just make sure to give teams enough time to gather their thoughts after you’ve implemented a new process, tool, or change so that the feedback is helpful.

Cross-functional alignment on a global scale is achievable—it just takes time and diligence to get it right. The key to improving cross-functional collaboration on a global team in an always-changing environment is to continuously evaluate what’s currently in place so that you can identify steps to improvement!

Want to talk shop? We work with companies like yours to run complex global marketing programs efficiently at scale. Just get in touch.

The post Cross-functional collaboration is achievable—even on a large global marketing operations team appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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I had a great time meeting with Bob Samuels from TechConnectr to talk shop about B2B, covering all facets of account-based marketing (ABM), from strategy to implementation. We dug into ways ABM has evolved and discussed how customer advocacy is key to successful marketing for the technology industry.

While some consider ABM to a be a specialty marketing tactic, we consider it simply the way good B2B marketing is done. And the best ABM applies a unified approach that spans the customer lifecycle. When people are looking to purchase technology, they want to know that companies like theirs are having success using the solution, so customer advocacy becomes the backbone of successful targeted ABM campaigns.

After initial purchase and implementation, SaaS companies must consider future renewals, technology adoption and growth, and activation. ABM platforms and AI tools offer new ways to discover and interpret intent signals throughout the customer lifecycle. By listening to and acting on this information, you can focus on activities that promote customer satisfaction so that customers are more likely to become advocates, which feeds directly back into your ABM efforts. There’s a lot of power in having existing customers go on the record talking about their success with your software. Advocates help you gain new customers while keeping existing customers engaged and satisfied. Win-win!

And, while martech has made ABM more attainable than ever, it isn’t a silver bullet. Building relationships, taking care of your customers, and making them successful is never going to get old. At the end of the day, you just have to think about your customers, understand what is working for them, what you can do to keep them satisfied, and avoid getting distracted by shiny labels and marketing trends.

Listen to our 25-minute interview to hear the entire discussion. Want to talk shop? Get in touch.

The post Martech connects the dots between ABM and advocacy appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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https://yesler.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Chezas-Blog-Read_final.mp3

Marketers, let me know if this sounds familiar:

Too much to do, too little time. When tasks land on your desk, you dive in headfirst. You frequently take an ad-hoc approach to managing your projects.

If this describes you on your enterprise marketing team, then dialing in the way you intake your marketing projects might be what you need to stop losing valuable time, effort, and revenue.

The word “process” holds some unfavorable connotations. Process means red tape. Process is bad for morale, especially on marketing teams, which rely heavily on their creative. Right?

All of that is certainly true of bad process, but good process paves the way for marketing creativity by allowing marketing teams to worry less about how the work will get done and focus instead on doing the work.

Many enterprise marketing teams are lost in process, whether that means there is too much process or not enough. The not-so-secret sauce is to find balance. You need to make sure your marketing is being run properly, in a timely fashion, while still allowing marketers to work flexibly to get campaigns out.

“Intake” has been a tried-and-true method in use across industries for years, but it’s often overlooked as a method for getting marketing content into market. Law firms, hospitals, even schools have an intake process. Think about it: If you intend to do a task a thousand times, why not complete that task in the most productive way possible?

Does that make the idea of an intake process more appealing?

Here are some steps you can take to start developing an intake process for your marketing.

Stop, analyze, and evaluate

You can’t just go with your first instinct and roll with the punches on this one. You’ll need to thoroughly evaluate your team’s project lifecycle first thing.

Sit down with each team member involved in getting your marketing going, from concept to execution. This will include your marketing managers, perhaps your product team, any channel or fields team involved, and the people who are executing on social, paid, and marketing automation platforms. Include anyone who is a stakeholder in reporting, too.

From those conversations, find out the information teams need up front to execute the marketing work that lands on their desk. This becomes your first pass at a checklist, or intake form.

Then, you need to know or set SLAs (service-level agreements) for each step of the process. SLAs help make each step discrete from the others and establishes quality and turnaround times. In other words, they make the task clear so that the person handling the step knows what to do by when, and SLAs reduce the ambiguity that leads to discussions about how to do the work instead of actually doing it.

The goal of establishing SLAs is to have enough knowledge about a process that you can make informed decisions about intake strategy. The more detail you understand, the more accurate and productive the process will be. For example, an SLA can tell you how many tasks can be completed in a day so you know how many people you need on your team based on expected or historical volume.

Ask the right questions

From the information you gathered, you can develop a list of precise and succinct questions for your marketing strategy and execution teams. Ask questions that clarify what to do next on a project. For example, the moment a service inquiry is submitted, it should already provide enough context about the request that the person receiving it can act on it. These are things like how the request aligns to the services you offer and which teams need to be involved to accomplish the project.

This is the second phase of the checklist you’ve already developed. Knowing what information is required from the onset will prevent back-and-forth with internal customers or stakeholders. It also gives you a chance to determine whether the inquiry is consistent with your business objectives before you invest time and effort into a project that doesn’t align with your goals or capabilities to begin with.

It might take some time and a couple of conversations to compose the perfect set of questions, but the payoff in efficiency will be well worth it. These questions will become your intake form fields when you get to the point of automating the process.

Automate to simplify your business operations

Email can certainly be an effective means of communication, but receiving, sending, and archiving important project details through email doesn’t scale and creates confusion. You’re probably buried in emails for an hour or two every day already. So, work on getting the process out of email.

We live in an age where a platform or app exists for everything imaginable. Use this to your advantage.

That short list of standard questions you need to ask internal customers or stakeholders? You can avoid email—automate it. Invest in a tool that can be customized to host questions, receive requestor responses, and automatically route them to the right individuals.

Our clients often use IT ticketing systems customized for marketing. This kind of system will save you time scavenging through your inbox and spamming members of your team while automatically documenting all the requests you receive.

Stay away from unofficial platforms that require manual input, though. You automate to simplify your business operations, not add data entry tasks.

Make 80/20 the rule

You won’t be able to create a process for everything, nor should you try. It would just bog down the marketers who need flexibility to do something unusual, innovate, or just get a campaign into market in a pinch. You’ll have exceptions; count them in.

This is the 80/20 rule: You can plan for about 80% of what you’re doing to be a repeated process, and plan for the remaining 20% to need custom solutions. When a custom solution begins to repeat, move it into the 80% and make it a standard process.

For the 20% you can’t plan for, make a general plan of action. For example: When an urgent request is received that doesn’t follow typical SLAs, create a general rule that you’ll hold a 10-minute stand-up call to discuss and decide how to execute the request.

Remember, the general plan covers exceptions that rarely occur. As soon as it begins to repeat, create a new workstream to fold into your automated intake process.

An intake process creates efficiency that trickles into other segments of your business. Think about the incremental hours you’d save across a fiscal year. This is time you can take back so your business can focus on the tactics of strategic initiatives that will serve your business future.

Interested to know more about intake? Get in touch.

The post “Process” might sound like red tape, but for enterprise marketing, the ROI is relief appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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Our paid media experts are always sharing best practices with other internal teams and keeping up on the latest ad platform developments. A good example of this best practice is our work with Code42.

Every quarter we review our clients’ business goals and update our paid media strategy accordingly. To match Code42’s goals, we saw that a (then-new) LinkedIn form option looked like a great match for Code42’s lead-gen campaigns centered on gated offers.

Hunches are great, but we always like to test and measure extensively to confirm our hypotheses. Happily, the data showed performance improvements in the areas we wanted—so high and so consistent that we transitioned all Code42’s lead-generation campaigns to LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms over the course of 2018.

The path to higher-quality, lower-cost leads

In Q1 of 2018, Code42 began to focus on driving qualified inquiries defined by leads from companies of a specific size in three target segments—commercial, strategic, and enterprise. They had chosen target personas too, defined by lead seniority, role, job title, etc.

LinkedIn was one of a handful of channels we recommended using to meet these goals, in part because of its precise B2B targeting capabilities. It’s also a business-oriented platform where users are in the right mindset to be interested in the educational content, like e-books, webinars, and white papers, that our client had been promoting. (Thanks to our work with LinkedIn over the years, joining alpha and beta testing programs for its new offerings, Yesler had recently been invited to beta test Lead Gen Forms.)

To mitigate risk, we did ongoing testing and analysis of the original user experience (which sent prospects from LinkedIn ads to a Code42 landing page with a contact form) and the new one. We were especially interested in seeing how the auto-populated functionality of the Lead Gen Forms would affect performance.

Standard practice was to have leads manually fill in contact forms, which could result in missing or inaccurate information. People are often in a hurry and, especially on smaller screens, can feel that typing in each field is inconvenient. With Lead Gen Forms, we could capture information about a particular lead entirely within the LinkedIn mobile environment (a desktop option was offered later). When leads click on an ad, a form appears autofilled with data from their LinkedIn profile. That information is highly accurate and reduces the friction on the mobile experience.

Results of the campaign and testing

Lead Gen Forms captured more accurate information than Code42’s forms, for higher lead quality at a lower cost. By partnering with Yesler’s martech team, we could do downstream lead analysis on how Lead Gen Form leads progressed through the funnel. Our hypothesis was that since they didn’t go to Code42’s site via the paid media campaign, they might not be as engaged as if they’d had a chance to click through the client-branded environment to explore. Surprisingly, more of these leads progressed farther than those from the original campaign.

The improvements were so consistent throughout the year that by the end of 2018 we had systematically moved all Code42 lead-generation campaigns over to Lead Gen Forms. Overall, the LinkedIn Lead Gen Form campaigns converted 98% better than campaigns that drove prospects to Code42 landing pages. We also saw a 28% improvement in lead quality. This resulted in a 47% reduction in the cost per qualified lead.

We’re always glad to have our hypotheses proven wrong if the end results are favorable to our clients. Part of what I love about paid media is that you can test and measure virtually any aspect of a campaign, constantly adjusting the elements to get peak performance.

For more details on this project, read the Code42 case study. And if you want to talk about paid media or using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms for your business, just get in touch.

The post LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms score 98% conversion rate hike appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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Self-driving cars. Medical implants made with 3D printers. Refrigerators with built-in LED screens (so you can see what’s inside them without having to open the door). Looking around at all the available data, there’s no denying it: The future is now. And this miraculous future we already inhabit is largely underpinned by data-driven technologies, which continue to spur innovation and growth across countless industries and change the way we go about our lives.

But while we in the world of B2B marketing and especially in B2B paid media have enjoyed the energy-saving benefits of screen-in-fridge technology, we’ve also noticed a worrying trend: B2B organizations, even those with deep roots in tech, often don’t think that paid media can drive meaningful, measurable results.

“Wait, that doesn’t make sense,” you might be thinking.

Our thought exactly.

Paid media is a data-driven marketing medium. Producing meaningful, measurable results is what we do.

And the results from investments in paid media aren’t restricted to the paid media program—when paid media is executed correctly, it provides data that shows which marketing dollars are actually driving sales activity. For example, the multiregional campaigns we ran for one of our clients or the performance reports we provided another client that tied deep, down-funnel sales activities back to their high-funnel ad engagement.

So, it just doesn’t add up that B2B marketers remain skeptical of using paid media when the results speak for themselves.

We gave it some thought, and here’s what we think is going on.

Complexities of the B2B buying journey

B2B firms are reluctant to embrace paid media because the buying journey is more complicated than it is for B2C, and those complexities make the technical and operational setups for paid media more intricate. And because B2C has basically made paid media it’s primary marketing channel, looking at the differences between B2B and B2C offers some insights:

Length of buying journey. Unlike the B2C buying journey, which is typically measured in days and weeks, the B2B journey is measured in months (or quarters and years). A long buying cycle requires a much more sophisticated approach to engagement.

Number of decision makers. B2C transactions usually rely on just a single individual to make a purchase decision. For B2B, that’s almost never the case. B2B products are complex, affect multiple stakeholders, and can represent a significant investment. A whole team of mid-to-senior management is often involved in purchase decisions.

Attribution and ROI. Perhaps the biggest difference between B2C and B2B is the ease of attributing and backing-out campaign ROI. B2C campaigns often report accurate paid media ROI from within the ad platforms themselves. But for B2B, where much of the sales cycle happens after the click and “on the back end,” attribution is never that straightforward.

Any of the above could undermine a B2B company’s confidence in the ability of paid media to provide meaningful results. But none of those challenges are insurmountable; in many respects, paid media is the channel best-suited to tackle them.

But it’s the third bullet­—the data setup and measurement—that we think is the real culprit behind a lack of confidence in paid media. Many B2B firms can’t realize the potential of paid media when they aren’t using all available analytics.

Align data sources to enable analytics

We’ve observed a relationship between B2B companies that are reluctant to use paid media and disconnected platform and back-end data sources. Not being able to accurately analyze data makes it difficult to overcome many of their marketing challenges—not just challenges with paid media.

When platform data has only a vague, correlative relationship to back-end data, the two data sets are much less than the sum of their parts. As mentioned before, paid media is literally a data-driven marketing medium. For B2B companies, the post-click, back-end portion of the sales cycle is what really matters, and excluding that data from the optimization feedback loop makes paid media less effective.

The good news is, this is a relatively easy problem to fix. Aligning data simply requires passing information from the platform to the back-end CRM system, which can be done through tracking URLs or in-platform features like Google Click IDs. Once that information is stored, back-end reports can be exported and matched with the corresponding front-end data. Doing this provides valuable insights for optimization and makes possible granular, down-funnel attribution and accurate ROI reporting.

You might be wondering: “If it’s so easy, why don’t all B2B companies align their data sources and then go crush it with paid media?”

Complexity promotes inertia

The question doesn’t have a single, simple answer, of course. The challenges we’ve seen parallel the idiosyncrasies of the B2B buyer journey we discussed earlier:

Long development time. B2B firms tend to be large, complex organizations, and even small changes to a back-end system (like creating new fields to store URL tracking parameters) can take significant development time to complete.

Multiple decision makers. Complexity in organizations means that even small changes can affect multiple stakeholders and groups, like that “whole team of mid-to-senior management” that is involved in decisions.

Incompatible tech. Although not as common, technical limitations of a back-end system (for example, one that doesn’t support custom fields or can’t pull data from URLs) can hamstring an effort to align data sources.

Internal blockers like those above can be difficult to resolve, but the effort to find a resolution is guaranteed to be worth the rewards. Proper data alignment provides deeper, more actionable insights, which in turn means you can make more informed decisions about where to invest your marketing dollars. And underinvesting in paid media due to misaligned data means you’re leaving sales pipeline on the metaphorical table, and that’s the last thing any marketer wants to do.

Let’s assume it costs 5% of your Q1 marketing budget to invest in better data alignment. The better data you get from the effort allows you to improve the efficiency of your investments by 3% every quarter thereafter. By the end of Q3 you’ve already made back your Q1 investment in increased pipeline. Even in situations where blockers to back-end data alignment can’t be resolved, don’t discount the value of paid media; just keep in mind how the lack of alignment affects that value and hinders the performance of your marketing overall.

Need some help aligning your front-end and back-end data? Or maybe just a good recommendation on a smart refrigerator? Just get in touch.

The post B2B Marketers: How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Paid Media appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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Marketers, let me know if this sounds familiar:

Too much to do, too little time. When tasks land on your desk, you dive in headfirst. You frequently take an ad-hoc approach to managing your projects.

If this describes you on your enterprise marketing team, then dialing in the way you intake your marketing projects might be what you need to stop losing valuable time, effort, and revenue.

The word “process” holds some unfavorable connotations. Process means red tape. Process is bad for morale, especially on marketing teams, which rely heavily on their creative. Right?

All of that is certainly true of bad process, but good process paves the way for marketing creativity by allowing marketing teams to worry less about how the work will get done and focus instead on doing the work.

Many enterprise marketing teams are lost in process, whether that means there is too much process or not enough. The not-so-secret sauce is to find balance. You need to make sure your marketing is being run properly, in a timely fashion, while still allowing marketers to work flexibly to get campaigns out.

“Intake” has been a tried-and-true method in use across industries for years, but it’s often overlooked as a method for getting marketing content into market. Law firms, hospitals, even schools have an intake process. Think about it: If you intend to do a task a thousand times, why not complete that task in the most productive way possible?

Does that make the idea of an intake process more appealing?

Here are some steps you can take to start developing an intake process for your marketing.

Stop, analyze, and evaluate

You can’t just go with your first instinct and roll with the punches on this one. You’ll need to thoroughly evaluate your team’s project lifecycle first thing.

Sit down with each team member involved in getting your marketing going, from concept to execution. This will include your marketing managers, perhaps your product team, any channel or fields team involved, and the people who are executing on social, paid, and marketing automation platforms. Include anyone who is a stakeholder in reporting, too.

From those conversations, find out the information teams need up front to execute the marketing work that lands on their desk. This becomes your first pass at a checklist, or intake form.

Then, you need to know or set SLAs (service-level agreements) for each step of the process. SLAs help make each step discrete from the others and establishes quality and turnaround times. In other words, they make the task clear so that the person handling the step knows what to do by when, and SLAs reduce the ambiguity that leads to discussions about how to do the work instead of actually doing it.

The goal of establishing SLAs is to have enough knowledge about a process that you can make informed decisions about intake strategy. The more detail you understand, the more accurate and productive the process will be. For example, an SLA can tell you how many tasks can be completed in a day so you know how many people you need on your team based on expected or historical volume.

Ask the right questions

From the information you gathered, you can develop a list of precise and succinct questions for your marketing strategy and execution teams. Ask questions that clarify what to do next on a project. For example, the moment a service inquiry is submitted, it should already provide enough context about the request that the person receiving it can act on it. These are things like how the request aligns to the services you offer and which teams need to be involved to accomplish the project.

This is the second phase of the checklist you’ve already developed. Knowing what information is required from the onset will prevent back-and-forth with internal customers or stakeholders. It also gives you a chance to determine whether the inquiry is consistent with your business objectives before you invest time and effort into a project that doesn’t align with your goals or capabilities to begin with.

It might take some time and a couple of conversations to compose the perfect set of questions, but the payoff in efficiency will be well worth it. These questions will become your intake form fields when you get to the point of automating the process.

Automate to simplify your business operations

Email can certainly be an effective means of communication, but receiving, sending, and archiving important project details through email doesn’t scale and creates confusion. You’re probably buried in emails for an hour or two every day already. So, work on getting the process out of email.

We live in an age where a platform or app exists for everything imaginable. Use this to your advantage.

That short list of standard questions you need to ask internal customers or stakeholders? You can avoid email—automate it. Invest in a tool that can be customized to host questions, receive requestor responses, and automatically route them to the right individuals.

Our clients often use IT ticketing systems customized for marketing. This kind of system will save you time scavenging through your inbox and spamming members of your team while automatically documenting all the requests you receive.

Stay away from unofficial platforms that require manual input, though. You automate to simplify your business operations, not add data entry tasks.

Make 80/20 the rule

You won’t be able to create a process for everything, nor should you try. It would just bog down the marketers who need flexibility to do something unusual, innovate, or just get a campaign into market in a pinch. You’ll have exceptions; count them in.

This is the 80/20 rule: You can plan for about 80% of what you’re doing to be a repeated process, and plan for the remaining 20% to need custom solutions. When a custom solution begins to repeat, move it into the 80% and make it a standard process.

For the 20% you can’t plan for, make a general plan of action. For example: When an urgent request is received that doesn’t follow typical SLAs, create a general rule that you’ll hold a 10-minute stand-up call to discuss and decide how to execute the request.

Remember, the general plan covers exceptions that rarely occur. As soon as it begins to repeat, create a new workstream to fold into your automated intake process.

An intake process creates efficiency that trickles into other segments of your business. Think about the incremental hours you’d save across a fiscal year. This is time you can take back so your business can focus on the tactics of strategic initiatives that will serve your business future.

Interested to know more about intake? Get in touch.

The post “Process” might sound like red tape, but for enterprise marketing, the ROI is relief appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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You’ve got a martech stack, but you aren’t sure it’s meeting your needs. As the VP of Sales and Marketing here at Yesler, I was in the same position.

For a relatively small company (Yesler has 230-ish employees, whereas many of our clients have thousands), we actually have a fairly robust tech stack. Here’s a look at how we positioned it for our entry into the Stackies this year:

Still, when I kicked off my 2019 planning last December, I wasn’t sure that my stack was going to meet some of the strategic initiatives I’d set out for my team.

In this video, I discuss our martech stack with Rich Miller, the Sr. Director of our GTM planning and marketing technology consulting team. He talks through his team’s methodology for determining whether our internal martech stack can meet our objectives.

The assessment was a helpful way to determine where I could potentially end contracts to redirect budget to new investments that could.

Watch the short video (7:45) to see what the methodology was and let us know if you found it helpful for thinking about how you’d take on these projects as well.

The post How does Yesler’s own martech stack up? appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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There's a reason that click bait, listicles, and fake news inspire some thumb-stopping headlines. They promise an answer to a burning question we have (or suddenly realize we have). Even before we asked the question outright, someone offered an answer we’ve been looking for to make our jobs or lives easier or better.

Zeitgeist and trending memes aside, at the core there’s something magical at work here with this predictive Q&A approach. As marketers, this is something we routinely forget. The level of effort it takes to jump straight to the sales punchline—“Our product will save you money!” or “Transform your organization with our services!”—is alluring. It’s quick and easy and doesn’t take the time and effort needed to craft a bespoke marketing plan for each of our persona groups.

But in our reach to the MQL finish line, we forget to ask the fundamental question: Why should our audience care about our products and services in the first place? Being confident about the answer to that changes what marketing success looks like.

One way to shift away from the product-first approach is to pivot toward a solution-focused marketing strategy. But while it’ll showcase deeper value (and hopefully outline your competitive differences), it still might not hook readers as they’re thumbing through an endless stream of sales and marketing spam (not to mention all the non-marketing content they see throughout the day).

Which is why, instead of a product- or solution-based strategy, it’s better to start with a question-based strategy.

A question-based strategy?

Definitely. Even in B2B marketing, you need to first consider each of your persona’s unique interests and needs. This will help you understand exactly of the types of content to produce for your audience and help streamline your work by focusing on specific types and how much content you need to create. The bottom line: Understand the underlying problem before you start selling solutions.

This approach is even more important today as B2B consumers are drowning in and tuning out all the marketing white noise. In a study by CMO.com, 46% of respondents said they’ve been decluttering their online presence in the past year by deleting or reducing time spent on social media apps (52%), turning their phones to silent at night (47%), unsubscribing from emails, and shifting to watching or reading more high-quality content (25%).

How do I create a question-based strategy?

Happy to tell you! You just need three key pieces of (100% achievable) research to get started:

Define your personas. This doesn’t need to be a multi-day, multi-phone interview process. Gather reps from your marketing, sales, ops, and leadership teams. They know a lot. Use their customer insights to build one-page prototype profiles for each of your key personas. Aim for three or four to get started. That should help you cover a good chunk of the people involved in your B2B buying process (when you’re ready, check out our Art of Buyer Personas template).

Map your buyer’s journey. With personas in place, you’ve got the right audience lens to start building your list of questions. Make a column for each stage in the buyer’s journey and figure out the questions your audience asks at that exact moment. Rinse and repeat for each persona.

Support your marketing efforts. These insights will help across a variety of marketing efforts—they directly support your ABM marketing plans (knowing specific user intent is your primary messaging goal), they help you build out your SEO strategy (these days question-related searches are the boss), and can help you better optimize your campaigns (with a good list of questions, A/B testing will be as pleasant as a warm, tropical breeze).

At the end of the day, there’s one more question you can ask yourself to figure out if you have a marketing approach that will really work:

If all your marketing efforts got sucked into a black hole, would anybody notice or care?

Want to talk quick-and-dirty but effective strategy? Happy to chat. Just get in touch.

The post Want customer clicks? Start by questioning your solution-based marketing strategy appeared first on Yesler | B2B Marketing Agency.

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