How to rock a small budget like a Fortune 500 powerhouse

Small budget + small team = limited marketing options, right?  Notsomuch.

You can (and will) make the most of your small budget with a little advice that’s actionable and doable.

Are big marketing budgets all that different anyway?
When I worked for Monster, the global marketing budget was around $250 million per year. So, in an environment like that, you find yourself spending your budget in increments of $50 or $100K. But I have also worked with several organization with budgets around $1 million. And in those instances, we were allocating budgets in $5 or $10K increments.

But I found that while the size of the increments is different, the decision-making process is kind of the same.

How do you make the most out of what you have?

In a smaller environment, you need to watch your marketing investments closely.
Here are some proven tips to help you do more with less…

  1. Amplification through a multi-channel strategy – Promote the same message or asset across all of your channels. Make sure it’s consistent on your site, in your retargeting efforts, used across social, and anywhere else a customer or prospect may find it.
    • Throw one apple at a time – Think of it this way: if I threw an entire bushel of apples at you at one time, you would probably have a hard time catching any of them. But, if I toss you one apple at a time, you could probably catch every one. It’s the same idea when you send one message out to the market at a time.
    • Repetition is the mother of all learning – The more a prospect sees your message on different platforms, the more likely he or she will be to click on it or absorb it.
    • Find a theme that tells a story – If your assets are similar, you’re building on the same theme and telling a story across channels and content offers. You make it easier for prospects to follow since they’re not adapting to new creative every time.
    • Do something different – Marketers with small budgets need to try to break through the noise in their markets. If your competitors are all using white papers, go a different route. Think of how to cut through the clutter with something that’s different and worthy of their time.
  2. Hit the replay button on your content – Reusing and repurposing content is a must for small teams and small budgets.
    1. Do a quick content audit – Run a quick audit to see what you have and then create a content inventory. You’ll formulate your reuse plan once you see a complete listing in one place. You probably have more than you think.
    2. Consider a facelift – Some of your content may be evergreen and would benefit from a simple redesign. A new look and feel could be just what your eBook needs to appeal to another audience.
    3. Breathe new life into it – Have a customer testimonial video? Lucky you, you can rework that into a powerful case study. Look for ways to reuse the great content you have in house.
    4. Look outside too – Find a study online that relates to your industry and polish it up. Highlight the most interesting parts of the study, add images, crank out some charts, and make your own thoughts and predictions based on the data.
  3. Empower your team – Understand your team’s workload and help them focus on your company’s top priorities.
    • Make sure you know what your team is working on and determine if there’s a way to help them streamline their activities. Are they working on high-value activities that generate revenue? As a marketing leader, I made sure I had meetings with my direct reports and quarterly meetings with any level-down staff members. Several times, I uncovered efforts that were taking up a lot of time but not leading to impact for the business. These meetings helped my team focus on the activities that really mattered.
    • Remember that unifying your messaging around a core campaign can help alleviate stress from your team as well. They won’t feel that they’re being pulled a million different ways with tons of tactical activities. A big, integrated campaign motivates your team to work towards a goal they feel will have impact.

Don’t let a small budget (or an even smaller team) hold you back! You have what it takes to rock your budget with your small team by your side.

Anything else you would add? What other ways do you make the most out of your small budget? I would love to hear from you.

Glass bank with many world coins and budget word or label on saving money jar

Is Testing Really Worth It? Word of caution

Everywhere you look in marketing, people are talking about testing. Testing is the best way to get better results! Testing and Learn, they say. But testing takes time and effort. Before diving in, you need to ask yourself: should I be testing in the first place?

For example, if you’re testing content offers (perhaps an infographic vs. a whitepaper), then you’re going to have to double the amount of effort behind content creation. For most organizations, content creation is a 4-8 week undertaking. It’s a worthy commitment, and some companies I work with are great at content creation so testing content offers is easy for them. But if you’re like one of my many clients where getting enough content done to support your efforts is difficult, testing these kind of offers may be out of the question.

Teams that are bandwidth constrained might be better served on focusing on executing one email offer really well, with great partnership and follow-up from the sales team instead of splitting their focus into multiple offers.

But what about testing simple things, like subject lines? Most marketing automation platforms make subject line tests easy to implement so it seems like a no-brainer. But before attempting even these simple kinds of tests, you need to make sure you’re going to get actionable results.

Here are a few things to think about to make sure that your investment in testing delivers the impact intended.

  1. Ensuring statistically significant results

If you’re considering a test, there are three important things to consider to ensure your results are statistically significant:

  1. Volume – how many people are in each of your segments? Is your database large enough to give you statistically viable results once you split it into groups and test?
  2. Conversion rate – how many successes are you going to get (and be able to measure)?
  3. Difference between the segments – It’s hard to predict outcomes if the test results are similar across segments. If they’re too close to call, and you can’t determine a clear winner, then the test is a bust.

In order to mitigate risk, you can always increase the volume of the segments being tested to ensure your results are accurate. There are some great A/B Test Calculators that free you up from doing the math yourself. Email us at info@revenatemarketing.com for an easy to use A/B Test Calculator.

  1. Do I have the operational capacity to support testing?

Ask yourself: will the extra effort to create tests (and the content to support them!) result in a MEASURABLE improvement in results that justifies the extra effort? Besides considering volume, conversion rate and differences, you need to think:

  • Do I have the capacity to create the necessary assets to support testing?
  • Do I have the capacity to manage the campaign logistics to support testing?
  • Make sure your test will result in some kind of incremental benefit you care about before moving forward. Higher engagement does not always result in higher business results. The deeper into the funnel you go to test, the more accurate your results will be.

One of my cautions to teams that are just starting out with demand generation is to focus on doing a few things well. Testing is great and should definitely be part of your plan. However, if your team is still struggling to get a single, error-free email out on time, perhaps it’s best to focus on the basics first.

  1. And, finally is the ROI there to justify testing?

Additionally, the improved results from testing may not be significant enough to offset the increased effort required to implement the tests. Remember the earlier example on the content test? Well, if you double the costs of running the program (2 content offers instead of one) and your test doesn’t result in enough increased revenue to offset these costs, then you have not really improved the results of your marketing efforts, which was the reason to do testing in the first place. Right?

And I add one more thing before you start to test: Do you have your baselines measured? Do you know your conversion rates through the funnel? Do you have the ability to measure your test results through closed-won business or at least a pipeline that’s been created? If these sorts of measurement processes are not set up to have accurate baseline metrics for your relevant channels, then you definitely are not ready to start testing!

Go for it!

The only way to keep improving your marketing is to test new approaches. Your decision-making abilities become clearer when you use data and run tests to see which tactics yield the best results.

What are you going to test? Please share what you’re testing and how it goes!

And if you want more information on testing, please read my other blog post on testing.

2 key ingredients for successful demand-gen

I’d like to welcome a guest blogger, Nicole Sommerfeld, also from TDA Group. TDA Group is the premier B2B content marketing for high tech. TDA Group plans, creates, and manages content marketing programs that help maximize the return on marketing investments—and accelerate sales. And great content is needed to fuel great demand generation!

 

Remember the famous tagline for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? “Two great tastes that taste great together.” Whether or not you happen to be a peanut butter-and-chocolate fan, content and demand-gen definitely go great together. But to drive qualified leads, you need to combine the two ingredients effectively.

Read on, if you want to:

  • Connect your marketing activities to revenue
  • Improve marketing results by delivering truly relevant content
  • Fuel your marketing automation engine with a scalable, efficient content strategy

TDA Group has partnered with Revenate Marketing to hit the sweet spot for growing companies. You may have implemented (or are considering) a shiny new marketing automation system (Marketo, Pardot, HubSpot, or the like). You’ve probably created demand-gen campaigns and assets to capture and incubate leads. As a result, you’ve nurtured some marketing-qualified leads and transferred sales-ready leads to your sales team.

But your marketing engine isn’t living up to expectations.

So where’s the problem?

We find the issue is often the combination of your content and demand-gen strategies. Maybe you have the right assets, but the wrong timing. Maybe your content doesn’t focus enough on the specific information needs of each different persona. Or maybe you have the wrong assets altogether. On the other hand, it could be your content efforts simply aren’t linked properly to your performance metrics, clouding your ability to assess what is working and what is not.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s time to remix the main ingredients and conduct a demand-gen content audit to uncover the great-tasting content in your marketing engine.

Why a demand-gen content audit?

Information needs change as your audience progresses through the buyer’s journey. A demand-gen content audit assesses how well your narrative serves the wants, needs, and information consumption preferences of key personas at each stage in their buyer’s journey. The audit also identifies content gaps and recommends how you can repurpose existing content to accelerate the journey. And it flags gaps in metrics associated with your content performance.

Poor content execution gums up your marketing automation system in countless ways. We see companies struggle with this piece of the puzzle when the content creation team isn’t in touch with the folks running campaigns. In some companies, these people are split into separate organizations that compete internally for headcount, influence, and budget.

Simply put, a demand-gen content audit helps get stakeholders on the same page, focused on priorities for success.

What goes into a demand-gen content audit?

When TDA and Revenate conduct a demand-gen content audit, we review and discuss your personas, explore the roles and information needs of your highest-priority audiences, and examine how the buyer’s journey maps to your campaigns. We also review messaging by persona, and help select the content assets to include in the inventory for the audit. Finally, we assess your marketing automation platform and make recommendations to improve the way you measure the true impact of content marketing efforts and tie results to revenue.

The scope of the inventory for your demand-gen content audit may be broad or narrow, depending on your specific situation and budget. The inventory typically includes web pages, emails, videos, blogs, and other content used in your marketing automation system, as well as assets used by your sales team or business partners.

When conducting the audit, TDA editors evaluate each asset against specific relevance criteria, such as how well the content and messaging:

  • Articulate your business vision and brand POV
  • Focus on the interests and media consumption preferences of each audience segment or persona
  • Cover information needs for the pertinent stage in the buyer’s journey
  • Address targeted industries or market segments
  • Create effective visual presentations optimized for the delivery format—be it in print, on the web, or across digital/mobile channels
  • Comply with brand style and voice guidelines
  • Identify content gaps and areas where assets are being misused
  • Determine metrics to improve content performance and measure results

This assessment provides the insights you need to set budget priorities and focus your marketing spend on the most effective content touchpoints for reaching your audience through the marketing automation system. And it’s an excellent foundation for building an editorial calendar to plan and execute your content strategy in alignment with campaign initiatives.

How do you get started?

Delivering off-target, unfocused, or misdirected material through a tool that is not primed to optimize the performance of the content in your demand-gen programs is like having the peanut butter without the chocolate (or vice versa). You can eat each one separately, but they taste so much better together.

And in our minds, you can’t feed your organization too many sweets: leads, data-driven analytics, and compelling content.

We’d love to help you tackle these content and demand-gen issues. We’ll even bring some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to our meeting. Let’s talk.

Three Proven Ways to (Significantly) Build Your Contact Database

Doesn’t it seem like you receive emails filled with tips and tricks promising to grow your list all the time? Sure, there’s lots you can do – from adding forms to your website, pop-up windows and refer-a-friend campaigns – but, while these are great tactics, each one of those efforts are only going to drive small numbers of new names for your database.

What do you do when you need to significantly grow your database?

What do you do when you are starting from almost nothing? What if, to meet your goals, you need to double or even triple the size of your database?

Here I outline three different methods for significantly increasing your relevant contact database. However, each one has advantages and disadvantages. Your strategy is going to depend on your budget and needs.

Purchasing contacts – In this approach, use a reliable and reputable vendor and tell them exactly what you want. You choose the job titles, segments, geographic breakdowns, industries, size of company, etc. You’ll even get to preview the data to make sure it’s what you want before buying. (Note: It can take time to manually review 1000s of preview contacts but I really recommend doing this to increase your quality). The great thing about this methodology is that it’s usually pretty inexpensive (starting around $0.30 – $0.50/per lead. AND the ability to pick just the contacts you want is also great advantage.Sounds great, huh? Well, unfortunately it’s not perfect. There are two potential problems with this approach.

  1. The first is that the data isn’t perfect. Sometimes the titles are wrong, or information such as revenue and employee size is missing. When you’re dealing in that kind of volume, you’re not going to get perfection. This is another reason why you need to use a reputable firm. It’s worth it to pay more for better quality. Good vendors in this space not only make the best efforts to sell high-quality data but also provide you with the ability to replace any bounces and overall replenishment as your data ages.
  2. The second issue is that the people whose contact info you’re buying aren’t hand raisers. In other words, they haven’t indicated any interest in the problem you solve or in buying your product. If your product category isn’t well known, or if your company itself is not well known, you’re fighting an uphill battle with these kinds of contacts.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to go with a high-quality data provider. There is a huge difference between vendors. Our clients have had success with companies like DiscoverOrg and Netprospex/D&B. They cost a little more than some others but the data validation processes as well as added functionality (such as automated Marketo connectors) are well worth the slightly higher price.

Custom List Builds – One of the newer ways to build your list is specifying the types of contacts that you want and then either searching out these contacts on the internet or hiring a third party to do so. Mechanical Turk (by Amazon) is one vendor that allows you to create a project and have independent contractors bid to take your project. The costs can be very low, such as $0.50 per contact.

The next level of custom list builds is using a vendor like SMARTe. These guys will take your criteria (company names and job titles, etc) and for as little as $5 each, give you phone verified contacts. Now take just a minute to think about that. When we were buying contacts we might pay $0.50 each. With these “phone verified” contacts we are paying 10x more. However, the old adage is true here: you get what you pay for.

Purchasing bulk contacts is going to have a lot more garbage data and phone verified contacts are going to be a lot higher quality. It still doesn’t make them a hand-raiser. There is still no guarantee they have a need for your product or are even ready to move into a buying cycle. But at least you know the data you have is solid and you can reach them with it.

Paid media – There are tons of different paid media channels to explore: retargeting, pay-per-click, social media, content syndication are just a few.

And there are a lot of different vendors for each type as well. However, this strategy helps you build a database filled with “hand raisers.” In most cases, if your ad and offer are designed correctly, people who respond to paid-media campaigns are clicking on your promotion because they have interest in your type of product/service AND they are providing their contact information at the same time. The cost for B2B leads using this approach can vary from $30-$700 per lead depending on how qualified or targeted the lead is. But while the cost is the highest of the three options, these contacts are going to be of the highest quality.

Also because these contacts are filling out a form with their own information, it’s more likely to be accurate. (I am not saying that people don’t fill out forms with false information. They definitely do. But most will provide you accurate titles, company names and email addresses.)

For many of these, you will also need to create content offers to leverage in these programs. This can be an additional cost for your company, on top of the cost-per-lead. Often you’ll need to put your content-marketing hat on and create content that’s relevant to your business as part of these programs.

This helps you position your company as a thought leader and/or helps readers/prospects do their jobs better. This approach helps you capture the hand raisers, so to speak. You can do this through retargeting, pay-per-click, social media, content syndication, and many channels to find leads that will respond to your offers.

Build your strategy.

Even though there’s a tradeoff between the costs and quality between these options, I recommend that you look at a combination of all three: purchasing contacts and list builds and paid media.

For example, you can start with a small budget focused on paid media. But no one has enough of a budget to do it all through paid media. So, simultaneously work with a vendor to create a list of verified contacts from an “ABM” or target account list. Once those are in-house, you may want to supplement with a large volume buy of contacts.

Below I have developed a framework to help you understand all of options and their relative strengths and weaknesses.

For each strategy (Contact purchase, Custom List Build, Paid Media) I have give a score from 1 to 3. A “1” means that the strategy is strong on this dimension.

  • Interest – Likelihood to be in a purchase cycle (i.e. be a “hand-raiser”)
  • Cost – This refers to the cost per contact
  • Accuracy – This refers to the likelihood that the data you receive is correct. While vendors providing contacts in bulk make every effort to ensure their data is accurate, my experience is that there are more errors in their data than the other strategies.
  • Targeting – This refers to your ability to purchase only the contacts you desire. With most paid media channels you can do a pretty good job of targeting and some are now offering to deliver only contacts for your target accounts (ABM). In these cases, I would give paid media a “1” instead of a “2.”
Interest Cost Accuracy Target
Contact Purchase 3 1 3 1
List Build 3 2 1 1
Paid Media 1 3 2 2*

 

So, how are you building your database or keeping your lists fresh? I’d love to hear.

 

 

 

Language of Business

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Revenating marketing by speaking the language of business

In the past few years, Marketing has gotten really focused on metrics, right?

We’ve all reported on all the great things we’re doing. For example, 600 people registered for a conference; page views have increased by 30% YOY; our email open rates have doubled. It’s been exciting to finally be able to quantify all the hard work that marketing teams do.

All these metrics provide great information. We use them everyday to optimize our programs and measure the success of our efforts. But, the truth is that the C-suite doesn’t care. I hope that isn’t too harsh. But they just don’t care about website visits and email click rates as much as you do. What they care about is pipeline and revenue. And when you bring activity metrics to the executive table, you seem not only out of touch with what the business cares about but you also invite them into nuanced discussions about marketing that they may not be qualified to have.

But don’t fear – with the right measurement infrastructure in place, you can connect the hard work of your marketing team to the numbers executives truly care about. And in the process, you’ll learn to speak the language of business, helping your marketing efforts resonate with your leadership.

Where do you begin?

Here’s a step-by-step approach that will strengthen your business acumen and make you a stronger marketer.

 Step 1: Track your company’s overall revenue goals.

It always surprises me when I talk to members of the marketing team and they can’t tell me how the quarter is going from a sales perspective. Are people panicking in the last weeks? Are folks riding high because meeting quota is a done deal? Even worse, some marketers don’t even know what the sales goals are for the quarter!

Make sure that everyone on your team learns the revenue goals each quarter and give time in regular staff meetings to discussing how the company is doing overall. Marketing cannot consider itself a separate entity. And, the closer marketing is tied to the business goals, the smarter marketing looks.

Beyond pipeline and revenue, your team should be well-versed on any other big company goals. Is the CEO talking about adding new logos this year? How many? How are we doing so far? Is the Product team doing a big push to improve the product to retain more customers? What is the current churn rate? What is the goal and how are we doing? Marketers should be able to respond to these kinds of questions.

Note: If things are not going well, marketing will likely be called upon to step up their efforts to support company goals. It is always best to see the early warning signs yourself and prepare to react.

Step 2: Stop reporting on all these metrics

Keep tracking all those activity metrics – they are important! Your marketing team needs to deeply understand the intricate details of how your campaigns are working. And flagging some odd open rate or decrease in website visits could bring to light some operational issue that needs to be addressed. So make sure you are all reviewing and analyzing as much data as possible. …just don’t flood your cross-functional partners with all these numbers.

If you start reporting all your marketing activity metrics to all stakeholders, you may pigeonhole yourself. Expectations will be set and your CEO or CFO will expect growth within each area during every reporting cycle.   …and that may not be the right thing to do from a marketing perspective.

This invites unnecessary questions about the marketing mix, strategy and spend. It’s a distraction that could leave you explaining why you transferred $50K from your SEO budget to your paid media budget. What you did was right for the business, but the short-term drop in website views will alarm upper management if they’re used to seeing growth there every month.

So, you might be thinking: “If I am not reporting on activity metrics, what should I report on?”  Glad you asked.

Step 3: Build the infrastructure to report the right numbers. 

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons that we report on activity metrics is that they are easy to gather. Need to know how many registrations for your webinar? Simple. Just check the number in in your webinar platform. Want to know how many people clicked on your newsletter? A quick glance at a simple dashboard in your marketing automation platform. But actually connecting your programs to opportunities and revenue? That is much more difficult.

If your marketing automation platform is properly syncing information to Salesforce, the easiest number to get is a campaign influence report from SFDC. Unfortunately there are issues with using this kind of report. See my post on Attribution models to better understand the limitations with influence reporting from SFDC.

Lead source/First Touch reporting is a little better, if limited. This type of reporting generally requires some set-up and management in your marketing automation platform to work properly but it is usually attainable for most teams with the most basic infrastructure in place. With this, you can report to the organization on what marketing activities are best at delivering new contacts that turn into opportunities.

But you miss the influence of all the other marketing touchpoints. And with many prospect’s engaging in between 8 and 12 programs throughout their buyer’s journey, this leaves out a lot and could call into question by executives some of your most critical programs, like nurturing.

To truly show the results of marketing, you need use some type of multi-touch attribution model. (again, see my previous post on attribution models). And while some marketing automation platforms can partially achieve this, in most situations you are going to need to add an analytics tool to your marketing tech stack to achieve maximum visibility into your program performance.

But not only are you looking at a big chunk of budget for a new tool, you also are going to have a heavy lift in terms of building out your technical infrastructure and business processes to support this new reporting tool. Revenate Marketing has a track record of implementing these kinds of processes and tools and can help your organization too. Contact us for more information.

Bottom line – Speak the language of your business.

Today’s marketers have more numbers swirling around than ever before. Data helps, but it can also leave you reporting on everything under the sun—diluting the contributions you’re making to the bottom line. Come into meetings prepared to discuss the role that marketing plays in driving revenue with clear suggestions of where and how it can be done. And the more you can call out specific deals that were sourced or influenced by big marketing efforts, the better off you will be.

Anything else you would include? What other metrics matter to your business? I would love to hear from you.

Testing Types

5 Types of Testing Every Marketer Needs to Know

 Testing—why does it simultaneously fill marketers with equal amounts of fear and anticipation?

If done well, testing is a marketer’s friend—and it can help you continually improve your campaigns and bottom-line results.

Let’s embrace it…but how?

The first step is to understand your testing options and which is best for you.

Here’s a quick overview of the five most popular types of testing…

  1. Beta Testing – This is where you try one new thing. For example, for a new website, you can do a beta test that directs only 10% of the traffic to the new site. This minimizes risk and allows you to zero in on the experience of the 10% without jeopardizing your performance. It’s good when you want to what you want to test is risky.
  2. Hold Out – This is the inverse of beta testing. It’s good in cases where you’re trying to prove marketing’s impact. A personal example is when a sales team I was working with doubted marketing’s influence in the sales process.So, we took the audience and held out 10% of it, treating the remaining 90% normally. We then compared how that performed vs. the holdout portion and learned that the “treated” segment performed significantly better than the hold out segment. This test proved the value marketing was providing to the sales team and its process.
  3. A/B Split – This is a very common testing option, yet many marketers get it wrong. They often test more than one element at a time, which skews results. To do an A|B split test correctly, you can only test one thing, like the subject line or the offer. Keep in mind, your split does not have to be 50/50; you just need to ensure you can get valid results from each segment.
  4. Multivariate Testing – If you have the volume to create statistically significant results, you can do this type of testing. It’s like doing an A/B split, but you can test more than one element at a time. You do have to make sure all of these streams have enough volume. And this type of testing gets complex fast. So, without a large, robust database, you can’t really do this well. (It also helps to have someone with strong analytical skills on your team, just to ensure you will get statistically significant results!)
  5. Champion Challenger – This is not a scientific test, but it’s a methodology that’s used in demand gen. Once you have established your baseline results, you can set up a test to try and beat those baseline results. It’s not scientific in nature because the test is being done at different times—but it’s a great way to improve cost per lead and pipeline. At Revenate Marketing, we use Champion-Challenger methods by establishing baselines and then continuously pushing for better results.

Stay tuned for my next post on the ROI of testing, to keep this fresh in your mind.

In the meantime, please let me know what testing you’re currently doing. I’d love to know what’s working and what’s not. We’re in this together!

Attribution Models

Marketing Cheat Sheet: The Pros & Cons of Attribution Models

 “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is
I don’t know which half.”

– John Wanamaker, US department store merchant (1838 – 1922)

In the data-driven windfall that is marketing today, it’s easy to see why marketers have fallen head over heels for metrics and data analytics.

Without the ability to attribute marketing’s efforts to revenue, marketing is out of step with how other departments are thinking about success. The right attribution model arms marketers like you with the campaign-performance insights you need to optimize your marketing mix… and shows how marketing delivers results!

The question is, which attribution model(s) should you use and what are the differences?

The pros & cons of the major types of lead attribution models

Here’s a look at four types of lead attribution models used to calculate your program results:

These examples all involve the same leads, same programs, and same revenue, but—as you can see—you’ll report very different results for the various programs based on which attribution model you use.

1. Influence Model

PROS: This is the most common model used today. It’s easy to pull this type of report from Salesforce, which is one reason it’s so popular. It can be used to compare the effectiveness of one campaign over another but with some limitations.

CONS: This model isn’t very sophisticated and, consequently, has weaknesses. For example, the only criterion for attribution may be that the lead was, in fact, part of the program (and maybe achieved some level of success in the program, but not always). But worse, since the full pipeline value is attributed to every campaign that the lead participated in, the effectiveness of each campaign is clouded and allows for pipeline revenue to be counted multiple times, depending on how many programs the lead engaged with. But the big problem happens when marketing adds all these programs together and announces how their programs drove pipeline in amounts that are completely different than what sales is tracking. This kind of reporting can really hurt the relationship with sales!

2. Lead Source/First Touch Model/Last Touch Model

PROS: This model shows which programs are most effective in bringing in net new leads. You can basically switch out first touch for last touch if that makes more sense for your business. This model gives 100% of the credit for the pipeline revenue to a single campaign. This makes a lot of sense for businesses that have short sales cycles since the lead is not likely to have been part of lots of a different campaign efforts.

It is also an important view into which lead sources are delivering the best performing net new contacts. If you are using last touch before conversion (either to MQL or opportunity) this can also give you insights into what types of programs are the best at converting contacts into the next stage.

CONS: This model doesn’t credit all of the channels or touches that influence the buying process. So it can be hard to get a clear picture of the results stemming from a particular campaign if it was not likely to be the first (or last touch) for a lead. Often nurturing programs and events are undervalued in these types of models.

3. Multi-touch Model

PROS: I’ve found that this is the best model for accurately understanding campaign effectiveness. It allocates campaign results and revenue evenly across all the campaigns the lead participated in. Therefore, it can more accurately calculate each individual campaign’s contribution to revenue.

CONS: Some users feel the even attribution to programs seems arbitrary. Do you give the same weight to the downloading of an asset from your website as you do to attending a webinar? The standard multi-touch model doesn’t try to discern which activity is more important (and in many ways, we never know). So, while even distribution tries to give visibility into all the programs that might have influenced the lead, it’s not perfect.

4. Weighted Influence Model

PROS: This model allows for allocation according to business needs. It takes the buying cycle into account when determining influence. You can weight certain channels or specific programs as a bigger influence.

CONS: This is more complex and requires more advanced software and business analysis. You are also sometimes required to make some arbitrary decisions about how to weight various marketing campaigns which may or may not reflect the reality of their influence on the buyer’s journey.

I am a big advocate of the third model. It does require a strong marketing technology infrastructure to pull off. However, in a world where prospects digitally interact with your brand an average of 8-12 times before a sale is closed, you can’t afford to not be able to attribute revenue across multiple campaigns and touches. You will have to determine how important this kind of attribution is for your business. It takes some work on the front end to set up the optimal model for your company, but once you start tracking and measuring, you’ll be glad you did!

Which attribution model works best for your business? Please keep me posted on what’s working for you.

Partnering with Finance

Are you fluent in CFO Speak? 5 tips to bring Marketing and Finance Together

We’ve all read about the importance of marketing partnering with sales and IT. But to achieve real success, the marketing/finance bond needs to be just as strong. Marketers need to understand what makes finance tick. And Finance needs to see marketing as a revenue generator, not just a cost center.

Plus, CFOs are often one of the CEO’s most trusted resources, meaning that having finance on your side is one of the best things you can do for your marketing team.

EY research shows that this relationship is growing closer, but not quite close enough.

Their report shows that:

  • 54% of the CFOs surveyed say collaboration with the chief marketing officer (CMO) has increased
  • 63% of CFOs report increased involvement in marketing

There’s no doubt that this progress is good, but we can do better.

Here are five tips that will get you and your CFO on the same page:

  1. Build a collaborative relationship – Get to know your CFO or finance person right away. Let him or her see that you take your marketing budget seriously and that ROI is top of mind. If you’re assigned a partner from finance, treat him or her like an extension of your team and make sure they’re included in relevant budget meetings.
  2. Manage your budget like a hawk – Want to earn the trust of your CFO immediately? Watch your budget closely. Marketing tends to have more invoices than most other departments combined! Talk about making a CFO nervous, right? And, you would be surprised how many marketing departments can’t instantly report on their budget status. It’s important to reconcile your budget every two weeks. You’ll be ahead of the game when the CFO comes to you asking for sunk costs, what’s committed and potential savings opportunities. Here’s a simple budget tracker that will help you do just that.
  1. Connect spend to revenue – Or at least pipeline. CFOs don’t care about the open rate on your last email or how many webinar attendees you had last month. A CFO wants to see a connection between your activities and the bottom line. If you can’t track pipeline development to marketing activities, explain how the metrics you’re tracking will lead to pipeline until you get the necessary infrastructure in place. Read my post on teaching marketing to speak the language of business for more on this.
  2. Be transparent but not loose lipped – Share what your team is doing on a high level, but don’t get lost in the weeds. Over sharing the details about branding guidelines, email results and SEO optimization will blur the story you want to tell about how marketing delivers revenue. Their expertise is in measuring revenue, so talk ROI and pipeline.
  3. Get out the crystal ball – Forecasting is your friend. CFOs need to know what lies ahead. How will your campaigns pay off beyond this quarter? Have open discussions about how your marketing will generate revenue and when. Forecasting is advanced for most marketing departments, so make sure you’re building out the systems necessary to track your current activities, giving you the ability to have predictive revenue impact in the future. Revenate Marketing has a track record of building out forecasting models for marketing departments. Contact us to find out more about building models (links to contact form).

You’re not alone

Jim Meier, an executive at MillerCoors, is an expert on getting marketing and finance to work together. He has written about the challenges along the way. He said that, “The portrayal of marketers through the eyes of finance people is amusing, if sadly true. Marketing is seen as being “..fraught with subjectivity, murkiness, and fluffiness”. In return finance people are seen as having a “lack of understanding of what truly matters” (Meier, 2016).

After outlining these problems, Meier explains what MillerCoors did to bring marketing and finance together. They tried to highlight intangible assets and educate the finance staff on the rest of the organization. They also seeded finance people throughout the organization so that their perspective grew beyond their number-focused lens.
Marketing + Finance = perfect together

 When a marketing organization is focused on revenue marketing, you’ll find the CMO and the CFO speaking the same language.

CFO speak is easier than you think! Once you implement these tips, you and your CFO will begin a relationship that bears fruit for your entire organization.

Good luck and let me know how these tips work for you.

Content Marketing Payoff

Are your content-marketing efforts paying off? (Hint: maybe not…)

Avoid common pitfalls—and leverage your content effectively

 – Jason Miller, VP, Marketing Strategy, Marketo

According to recent research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)/MarketingProfs, 77% of B2C organizations and 88% of B2B firms are using content marketing (and the majority of them are creating more content than a year ago).

There is, however, a substantial gap between the use of content marketing and success with it. Last year, 38% of B2B marketers reported that they were effective at content marketing, vs. only 30% this year (CMI/MarketingProfs); these stats are less than encouraging.

Case in point: my inbox is constantly filled with offers for webinars, whitepapers, and more—all designed so I’ll complete a lead-gen form that feeds a vendor’s database.  At least half of the time, I find the offers and content to be uncompelling at best.  So, what are companies doing wrong?

I want to offer you a few tips to get your content-marketing efforts on the right track.

1. Quality (and uniqueness!) trumps quantity

Sometimes it may feel like you need more content in order to get more attention. But if you carefully plan your content strategy, you can re-use a few pieces of high quality content across many, many programs. It just takes a bit of planning and a strategic mind. The answer is not always more content…it’s better, superior content used (and re-used) carefully and strategically across your marketing campaigns.

This is a simple principle: would you rather read several long and boring articles, or a shorter and more scintillating one?  Not only does quality content resonate better with your target audience, but it also ranks better in search engines—creating a win-win.

Just remember that content for the sake of content is not doing your brand any favors. Instead, be thoughtful and mindful about the materials you put out into the world—because the goal is for people to actually want to read and even share them.

2. Keep it simple—and relevant

There are too many choices for content out there that readers don’t spend time on resources that don’t answer their questions or address their needs. Find out what they’re already consuming and where. You can begin by looking at the stats in your marketing automation platform and reviewing the content your direct competitors are delivering, either via their website or nurture programs (have you signed up for the competition’s nurture program? Do it today! The insights are incredibly valuable.)

Your content-marketing efforts, first and foremost, should meet the needs of your customers and prospects. Know what your audience wants and craves—and then deliver it. Do they need to learn a new skill that you can teach them? Can your product or service help them generate greater efficiencies?

Also remember to “show, don’t tell.”  Walk your readers through the content and help them absorb lessons, rather than just shouting takeaways at them. You might even consider employing a visual or infographic to help tell your story. High-quality content needs to be accurate, but it also needs to be easy to understand.

3. Measure and adjust

Once you have your new-and-improved content marketing plan in place, you’ll want to monitor its effectiveness and tweak as necessary.

Is a particular white paper not getting any traction?  Maybe you could repurpose it as a bite-sized graphic that is more easily shared on social media. Or, a great piece of content may be underperforming because you’re using it at the wrong phase of the buying process or because you’re targeting the wrong persona.

Don’t be too quick to throw away this content. Try it in different ways before considering it a dud. And, be open to adjusting on the fly, doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t always remembering the above principles.

Marketers tend to have grand and sweeping goals for content marketing: lead gen and nurturing; brand awareness; customer engagement and loyalty. Content marketing can certainly help you with all of these areas, but not by magic and not without focused effort.  Remember to concentrate on quality, relevant, and easy-to-understand content—and adjust as necessary!

What is your biggest content marketing challenge? I would love to hear from you.