Archive for Marketing Insights

Marketo Summit 2014: Focused on Insights, Engagement, Personalization and Content


Last week, I attended Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit 2014 annual conference along with 6,000 other marketers from around the world. The two-day event was superbly orchestrated to manage the massive crowds and I felt there was a good flow between events each day. There were several breakout sessions and panels that adequately addressed the numerous shifts in today’s marketing environment. From what I know to be true from a personal experience, and from what I learned at the conference, I walked away with three big trends impacting marketing:

1) We have access to better intelligence around target audiences and prospects and the ability to serve up customized content to improve the customer experience.

2) There’s more alignment and tighter interactions between functional groups including sales, marketing, web, HR and digital teams resulting in better outcomes.

3) Content marketing and customer engagement are now high priorities within marketing and support almost every activity (this is where social media plays a large role).

To help accelerate these marketing trends, there were some new Marketo features announced at the conference:

  • Real-time Personalization – A result of the Insightera acquisition last year, this bolt-on offering provides marketers the ability to serve dynamically-generated, multi-channel, personalized communications. The big value prop is that all of it can be done in real-time without IT or a dedicated CMS platform.
  • Marketo SEO Module – Integrated into the Marketo platform, this very intuitive product will help marketers understand how their webpages are faring based on strategic keywords and offers recommendations for better search engine placement. I’m excited because it will be complimentary for enterprise level users.
  • Marketo Marketing Calendar – This new offering got a lot of oohs and aahs at the unveiling proving what a nightmare it is for marketing teams to stay up-to-date on events and activities. The demo showed how changes could be made in the calendar that impact campaign settings within the Marketo platform.
Hillary Clinton and Beth Comstock, Keynote Speakers at #MKTGNATION14

Hillary Clinton and Beth Comstock, Keynote Speakers at #MKTGNATION14

Being a social media strategist, I chose breakout sessions that covered how social can be woven into an automated marketing program. I’m fairly new to the Marketo platform but from what I heard from presenters, it seems like an area still in its infancy even though some brands had good success. I’m quite certain that by next year’s conference, there will be much more to talk about and showcase.

The keynote speeches were by far my favorite part of the conference. Seeing Hillary Clinton share her candid thoughts on Internet freedom, the democratization of social media and the emerging age of enterprise innovation was worth the price of admission. Beth Comstock, CMO of GE, was also quite motivating as she spoke about how her company has managed to stay relevant after 122 years of business – mostly by being innovative. Both sessions definitely made me feel energized and eager to get back to work knowing that a “marketing nation” can, in fact, help change the world for the better.


Hashtag Marketing on the Rise

Photo courtesy of DoubleGrande

Last week as I was organizing my Twitter account I decided to re-evaluate the search terms I was using to find interesting content. This led me to take a closer look at hashtags and their latest use by marketers for business purposes.

As many know, the use of the pound sign (#) is at the crux of the hashtag. Putting symbols in front of words for taxonomy purposes isn’t a new concept. The @ sign has been at the center of email universe for decades now. Not surprising, it’s also used to address someone on Twitter.

However, the Twitter hashtag is more than a simple way to categorize content, identify themes or track real-time conversations. They’re increasingly being used by companies to drive positive online conversation and build brand recognition and loyalty.

Hashtags Driving the Popularity of SocialTV
Television networks have been quick to leverage the power of the hashtag by displaying it in the bottom corner of the screen during a broadcast. Usually it’s the name of the program or TV show such as #Revenge, #TopChef or #PanAm. I noticed that LifeTime’s Project Runway gives each contestant their own hashtag for voting purposes, which is a fantastic idea and also provides more ways for fans to tweet about the show. Expect to see more creative uses of the hashtag by entertainment companies and TV networks in the near future.

Hashtags as Branding Vehicles for Companies
Many marketers are starting to use hashtags as branding vehicles for campaign awareness. A good example is Audi that recently promoted their new LED headlights with the hashtag #solongvampires. The unique hashtag was connected to a TV ad that showed the headlights destroying vampires because of their extreme brightness (part of the product message). The result was a memorable campaign with excellent integration between multiple mediums.

While hashtags can drive massive attention for a branded campaign, some companies are going even farther by using them organically to convey value proposition. Red Bull’s tagline, “It Gives You Wings,” has been parlayed into the #givesyouwings hashtag and is quite popular with consumers when discussing the brand on Twitter and referencing other activities synonymous with the tagline.

The Perils of Hashtag Hijacking
Just like any other communications tactic, careful consideration needs to be given to hashtags. Unfortunately, McDonald’s learned this the hard way when it decided to offer up stories on the healthy aspects of its food using the hashtag #mcdstories. Within hours of the first tweet, consumers hijacked the hashtag and posted negative stories damaging the McDonald’s brand. What started out as a solid communications platform for the burger chain quickly turned into a PR nightmare. (Read: When a Hashtag Becomes a Bashtag on Forbes)

Marketers need to think about how hashtags can be integrated into broader media campaigns without losing control of the narrative. This is especially important since hashtags are now moving beyond Twitter and into other media channels. We’ve only witnessed a glimpse of their true potential and the real opportunities that they can bring for brands and the marketers that use them.

Three Basic Principles of Content Marketing

Photo Courtesy of andi.vs.zf

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is developing valuable content for online consumption. Tom Foremski said it best when he proclaimed “every company is a media company.” Witnessing a sea change taking place in Silicon Valley a few years back, Tom realized that all companies needed to transform themselves in response to shifts in technology and communication. Understanding this new model of business communications may make it easier for marketers to adapt. While almost every company has added social media to the marketing mix, many still don’t understand how to approach content production.

To be successful, a solid content marketing strategy should include three principles:

  1. content must be focused on the needs of your audience(s)
  2. content needs to be formatted to match the channel it’s being delivered on
  3. content should be optimized in order to attract a broad base

Create Content That Focuses on Your Customers and Market

One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is talking about itself too much. Customers see through self-serving content and it usually has a negative effect.  While it’s critical to promote what your organization is selling, the spotlight should be on your customers and market. Make sure you talk about how your organization and its products or services are adding value, solving problems or evolving the industry.

I’ve always recommended a two-pronged approach to creating content that pulls from both internal assets and external information. Internal assets include press releases, case studies, executive speeches and so on and can take on many forms such as blog posts, videos, infographs, etc. That’s the easy part as long you use some creativity and imagination in your repackaging of assets.  External information is a little more challenging because it involves staying on top of what’s happening in your industry. The key is to show your audiences that you know where the market is headed and what your customers are demanding. This is where content curation or a monitoring program are critical in staying on top of real-time trends. Developing content based on information such as analyst forecasts, shifting demographics, or new technologies will position your organization as a knowledgeable leader that shares information freely.

Customize Content Based on the Digital Channel

I’m sure you’ve seen this before: companies that push out collateral to every possible digital touch point without customizing the information for those specific channels. Whether it’s a press release, case study, video, and other type of asset to leverage, it needs to be repackaged for added value, easy consumption and sharing. Think visually, too. Give thought to how you can convey your news or story in pictures and video.

IBM is a great example of customizing content in multiple formats with its recently released 2011 Global CMO Survey. The company developed several delivery methods that included webinars for executives to discuss the survey results, a dynamic video posted to YouTube that spotlighted some of the participants surveyed, and a dedicated web page with infographs, and so on. By packaging up the results in numerous ways for various channels, IBM generated an overwhelming response rate that yielded maximum impact.

Optimize Content for SEO and Social Sharing

Online content has no value if it can’t be found. Make sure to optimize your digital assets with keywords and phrases that your audience uses. This is where you should be integrating the keyword research from your search engine analysis into your content. Many companies have sophisticated paid search campaigns but aren’t leveraging the keyword research and applying it to their organic content. Kill two birds with one stone and increase your ROI.

In addition, provide your readers with links to additional content you’ve developed so that they can easily navigate and find what they need. This will help to build interaction with them and increase your SEO success at the same time (aka link building). Also, don’t forget “call to action” links that move your reader in one way or another to share the content. If you don’t have social sharing capabilities baked into your content platform, you’re losing out on potential buyers and prospective evangelists for your business. As a last step, you should be promoting content though your social media channels to entice and attract a broader audience.

By applying these three basic principles to your content marketing strategy, you’ll be firing on all cylinders and finding much more success overall.

Insights from IBM’s Global Marketing Study

Image taken from the IBM 2011 CMO Study

I recently had a chance to review IBM’s 2011 Global Chief Marketing Officer Study and was surprised by some of the findings. Based on interviews with over 1,700 chief marketing officers around the world, the study reveals that CMOs are struggling to overcome numerous challenges.  Titled, “From Stretched to Strengthened,” it identifies the top marketing trends impacting business from a global perspective.

What I found interesting was that both B2B and consumer brands are equally challenged. There’s wasn’t anything that separated the two business categories in terms of approach. There were also several references to ROI and how CMOs are in a similar position that CFOs were in 10 years ago. This really speaks to the growing analytical side of online monitoring and measurement. While being accountable though, CMOs are much more focused on building and strengthening relationships with customers than in previous years.

I have to give IBM a lot of credit for the way they delivered the survey results. The report was repackaged in so many digital formats that I don’t think they missed a social media channel. I’ve pasted links to various sites at the end of this post.

Here are the top marketing trends impacting businesses around the world:

  1. Explosion of data – Here’s a shocking statistic: 90 percent of the world’s data today has been created in the last two years alone. This presents a major problem in terms of analyzing all of the data and then determining how to use it in to develop better products and improve customer relations.
  2. Social media – The second area of worry is social media, which is primarily responsible for the exponential increase in data overload. CMOs are faced with the complexity of managing and participating in the social media landscape. They also understand that customers see this as a requirement for connecting and communicating with them.
  3. Mobile devices – The third largest issue is the proliferation of mobile devices.  With mobile commerce set to reach $31 billion by 2016, CMOs will need to uncover opportunities that contribute to the bottom line.
  4. Shifting demographics – Coming in fourth place is the shifting of consumer markets with new needs and consumption habits. Mass markets no longer exist and CMOs will need to adapt to those changes in order to succeed.

You can access the IBM 2011 Global CMO Study in multiple formats:

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