Thursday, November 12, 2015

2016 Digital Marketing Trends, Strategies and Tactics

Here are, what I consider to be 3 key transformational digital marketing strategies for 2016. I believe they are key because they align to 3 of the most talked about and most impactful digital marketing trends that many analysts, tech vendors and thought leaders are predicting. They are designed to help lay the foundations for long-term success in our ever-evolving digital marketing world. I’m also including 3 actionable tactics for each strategy to help foster additional 2016 planning.

Trend/Prediction: Marketing Will Ultimately Own the Customer Experience. We’ve all heard this from multiple vendors, analysts and thought leaders. So what has to be fundamentally in place to make this happen?
  • 2016 Transformational Strategy #1: Make love, not war with IT. You will never be able to improve the customer experience without data. And you will never be able to fully integrate, leverage and improve data without IT. So lay the foundation for a long, successful partnership with them. Digital marketing success ultimately hinges on your ability to acquire, standardize and integrate data, regardless of channel or device. You WILL need IT support. And as we all know, they tend to be very circumspect and extremely protective of their systems, their processes and their data security practices. And who can blame them. So the better the relationship, the better the odds are that both teams can work through disparate challenges in meeting common CX  goals.
  • Tactic #1: Start by first getting aligned and in sync with the common goal of addressing full ownership of CX. It will certainly help if the CEO has already mandated this, but you may not have that luxury. If not, IT may need to fully understand and embrace the long-term importance of CX ownership. Alignment can be facilitated by first identifying the benefits of CX ownership, chief among them, a shared success in reaching the company's revenue goals.

  • Tactic 2: Once alignment and conceptual agreement is established, next evaluate the current relationship. Define the commonalities and differences that might prevent a successful CX joint partnership and work through the high level challenges, frustrations and concerns of both teams. One of the best ways to facilitate this is to over-communicate. Increase meeting frequency until all relationship challenges are ironed out and consensus is reached. Also, it doesn’t hurt to spend time building personal relationships. You may want to buy them each Apple TVs , or take them bowling, or some other group activity. Hey why not. To succeed in CX, marketing and IT are not allowed to get a divorce. That option is off the table. So you might as well commit to a blissful and meaningful relationship.

  • Tactic 3: Once a shared vision and a fully cooperative working relationship is established and strengthened, (and IT is bowling in the mid 200’s and thoroughly enjoying their Apple TVs :) begin to analyze the initial data connections that will be required in order to meet customer CX expectations. Start with integrating your own internal CX data points, including customer service, tech support, eCommerce, customer portals, etc. This may be easier said then done, but remember, customers already expect us to have a consistent, cohesive conversation with them. They expect us to know their entire history aligned with every new engagement, no matter where they are in their relationship with your brand. So start by integrating the customer data that your company already owns and controls, but that may reside within disconnected departments/systems.

Trend/Prediction #2: Content Marketing - The Age of “Me” is Upon Us. The days of creating self serving content are all but over. The focus is now on help, not hype.  Of course this is what customers have responded to all along, but it is now more formalized and socialized. So how do we move forward?

  • 2016 Transformational Strategy #2: Make a fundamental shift in content development that moves from hype to help. In Jay Baer’s book, "Youtility, Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype", Jay outlines the impact of creating marketing that is so useful, that people would actually pay for it. In the B2B world especially, potential customers are looking for solutions. No one really looks for marketing collateral, they look for solutions collateral. They have no interest in hearing how great you think you are. They are only interested in authentic content that is the most useful in helping them solve their problem. So begin with that. Answer the question, “What’s in it for me” right up top. It’s really your only hope of getting through the clutter. I’ve written about this many times.
  • Tactic #1: Conduct a complete asset audit and analysis.  Identify all your existing assets and categorize them as either self-serving hype or useful and helpful. Be honest here. Look at each piece of content through the lens of a potential customer. Get past any psychological need to explain why your company is so great. At the end of the day is the content really about you (the company or the product/service) or about me (the customer). Will it enable me to be more knowledgeable, more effective and more valuable?

  • Tactic #2: Once you’ve completed the audit and you have your list of content “keepers”, overlay the content you keep to broad buyer personas and stages. This will help you identify where you are asset rich and asset poor. It will also help you focus 2016 budget and resources on filing the most important content gaps first.

  • Tactic #3: Whether you produce all your content in-house, or outsource some or all of it, making a successful transition from hype to help will ultimately depend on the relationship Marketing has with Creative. As in the IT relationship above, marketers and creatives need to work in lockstep in order to deliver fully executable useful, authentic content. So evaluate the existing relationship. Chances are there are some challenges and frustrations that need to be addressed and resolved. Marketing is sometimes challenged with off-target creative deliverables, while Creatives complain of incomplete or vague Creative Briefs, for example. Easily fixed with better, more consistent communication, along with an aligned understanding of the need to shift from hype to help. Again, gifts and group activities can go a long way here as well.Maybe you can all go skydiving together?

Trend/Prediction #3: A Blend of Marketing Mix Modeling and Attribution Modeling is likely the future of Digital Marketing Measurement. The advantages of measuring “natural” revenue drivers, such as seasonal spikes, global economic factors and competitive pressures/pricing together with attribution modeling is very powerful. While CPGs first adopted Mix Modeling, B2B digital marketing in particular lends itself to Revenue Attribution Modeling, mainly due to the additional inherent data and insights that digital channels and nurturing assets bring to the analysis. So for the sake of this post, let’s focus on B2B  getting a firm handle on marketing’s return on investment.

  • 2016 Transformational Strategy #3: Its time to get serious about implementing ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment), whether the CEO is asking for it or not. If the goal of the CEO is revenue growth (99.9% likely) then we must begin to finalize and fully implement the tools and processes by which marketing will use to evaluate which channels and assets are contributing to revenue, in a holistic way. Especially if we consider the first 2 strategies above surrounding CX and content development shifts. We'll want to also evolve our current measurements to fully capture our overall strategic success.
  • Tactic #1: If you haven’t already, decide whether to adopt basic or advanced revenue attribution. Basic meaning you attribute all the revenue to either the first marketing touch or the last marketing touch. Advanced meaning you spread the revenue across all touch-points, either linearly or weighted. I did a video blog about this back in 2012 that goes into further detail. I vote Advanced revenue attribution for several reasons. First it gives you insights into the effectiveness of ALL your campaigns and assets. Second it begins to expose patterns of content consumption, especially if you focus on the digestion of assets by your best customers, in terms of revenue. Third, this helps create a CX roadmap, and begins to define the strategies and tactics of where to begin. I recently wrote a blog about CX strategy vs technology that goes into more detail about this.
  • Tactic #2: Once you've decided on Advanced Revenue Attribution :) work with IT  and your systems admins to establish the tools and connections that will need to be made in order to tie the revenue with the investment. Typically MA tools provide the investment data and CRM provides the revenue data. These connections may already be productized or may need to be fully customized, depending on your tech stacks. There are also a number of 3rd party tech point-solution tools that address revenue attribution.
  • Tactic #3: Establish a timeline and roadmap for piloting, evaluating, measuring and adjusting the reporting. It’s very likely that the initial outputs aren’t exactly what you expected, so there is almost always an adjustment period. In fact this adjustment period may never end, as technologies, processes and people change. Its critical to start with a pilot. It is sheer suicide if you launch this to the entire organization without first invoking this critical pilot process. And finally, as we consultants like to say, don’t try and boil the ocean. Adopt a crawl, walk, run methodology. It can sometimes take several years to fully refine ROMI.

While this is not an exhaustive list of 2016 digital marketing strategies, use these 3 key strategies and supporting tactics to lay the groundwork that should get you ahead of some of the most impactful trends coming your way. You will very likely reap the benefits long-term and springboard past competitors who aren't ready to make the adjustments in 2016, required to leverage these and other trends.

In keeping with my own conviction to provide help, not hype, I hope you found this useful.

Steve Kellogg is a Digital Marketing Leader, Strategist and Technologist. He is currently Sr. Director of Global Marketing Strategies, Technologies and Partnerships at Astadia, Inc.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Getting Through the Clutter - The Rise of Glance Marketing

First of all, this photo is REAL. I swear, I didn't Photoshop it. I took this picture of someone's actual iPhone after being horrified to see how many unread messages and emails he had. I was literally speechless. 
While this is (hopefully) an extreme case, it does bring to light the sheer volume of  requests for attention now pouring into our phones, which by the way is the first place we usually see marketing messages these days.

We try and keep up with all this inbound. It's common to see people waiting in line, in an elevator, at a restaurant, watching TV, or frankly anytime there is a spare moment, quickly scrolling through emails, texts, posts, tweets, photos, shares, all trying to keep up with the onslaught. So how do we get our marketing messages through this kind of clutter, in this kind of environment?

Welcome to the rise of "Glance Marketing". A few years ago, researchers calculated we had someone's attention for 3-5 seconds  before they decided to either delete or continue reading our marketing messages. Today I would say we only have about a half a second. Today people are only glancing at our beloved marketing messages. You know, the ones we've spent hours creating.

Remember, in a mobile world you're competing for attention along side someone's family and close friends. So when it comes to creating mobile marketing content, what stops people from the usual glance>delete cycle? Here are some tips:

  1. Start with a picture. A really good picture. Use one right up front to get attention. It can be funny, heartfelt, cool, interesting, playful, whatever fits your brand. But make it relevant to the CTA (call to action). Whatever you do, don't use those boring, bland generic stock images we see all the time. (Woman smiling wearing a headset, row of business people staring off into the distance, you know what I mean).
  2. At this point the reader is thinking, "OK, interesting picture, you got my attention, but so what?"  Next, you better answer the question, "What's in it for Me?"  or ...delete. This is where you resist the temptation to go on and on about how great your product or service is and simply articulate how it will help the reader. And it needs to be expressed in one sentence. Just one.
  3. Next up, the CTA. That easy-to-find button that gives the reader access to something really useful.
That's it. Picture first, then "What's in it for me?" (described in one sentence) then the CTA button that gives the reader access to something really useful. That's it -  that's glance marketing.

Try it as a test and see how it performs for you. Be sure to make the design responsive (or at least adaptive). What I find interesting is I tend to actually focus more time on these types of glance emails than ones that have much more content. The lack of content actually makes me stop and appreciate the simplicity, allowing me to focus on the CTA.
Currently, most of the marketing content I get on my mobile is definitely not glance-optimized. But the reality is that's usually all marketers get - just a glance.

Steve Kellogg is a Digital Marketing Leader, Strategist and Technologist. He is currently Sr. Director of Global Marketing Strategies, Technologies and Partnerships at Astadia, Inc.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lead Gen Improvement - Which Comes First, Strategy or Technology?

Each day our inboxes include announcements of new lead gen marketing technologies and strategies. Software vendors show off their latest lead gen tools. We get offers for white papers, webinars and case studies,  all highlighting lead gen strategies. And many of them sound really promising. 

But at some point you begin to wonder if its better to focus on strategy first, then the technology or visa versa. Does strategy drive your choice of technology or does technology influence your strategy? Which comes first, strategy or technology?

The answer is neither. This isn't really a chicken or egg scenario. In fact, focusing on which of these to start with can actually stall the implementation and even hinder the success of lead gen efforts.  So what should you focus on?  Fish.

About 10 years ago I bought an ocean fishing boat (pictured above). 

Living in San Diego, it seemed like a great way to enjoy the ocean with family and friends, see nature in action and have a continuous source of fresh fish on hand. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about ocean fishing or boating.

Since I would never get to any fish without a boat, that's where I started, with the technology. I read up on what features an offshore fishing boat should have, which brands made sense in my price range, which navigation system to get, what radio to buy, etc. Then I focused on which combination of fishing rods and reels I should get, what kind of bait and tackle to use, the list goes on and on.

Next I studied the strategies specific to all the equipment I bought. How to launch the boat, drive the boat, dock the boat, use the radio and the nav, how to use trolling rods, how to keep live bait, which lures to buy, boating rules and regulations, what to do in case of emergencies, etc.

Soon I had mastered the strategies that made the best use of the technologies I invested in. I ended up feeling very confident about my technology choices and the strategies I learned for deploying them. Turns out I was forgetting about one little thing. The fish. I wasn’t actually catching any. Ever.

Had I focused on the fish first, I would have made completely different choices. I would have started by knowing where they live, what patterns of behaviors they exhibit, where they eat, what they eat, when they eat and how much they eat. I wouldn’t have had to purchase equipment for every fishing scenario, just those that supported the actual fish I was trying to catch. And I would have focused on strategies that supported the technology investments related only to my target fish. In the end, I could have cut my investment in technologies by at least one-third. And cut my time researching strategies by half.

So to answer the question, “Should I start with Technology or Strategy?" The answer is neither. Start with the fish (the customer).

When you focus on the customer first, lead gen strategies and technologies become more aligned, more focused and more effective. In fact the good news is that your best customers have already defined your company’s lead gen road map for you! Your first step is to simply discover where they live, where they go, what they consume, how much they consume and how often they consume it (content).

I know, easier said than done. But, now that I’ve started down this ‘fish' hole, lets continue with the "focus on the fish, first" analogy.

Inbound Lead Generation
You've just been promoted to captain of the U.S.S. Inbound Lead Gen, and you're anxious to catch LOTS of fish. Here's your recommended support crew:

Marine (Lead) Biologist: Conducts the scientific study of target species (leads) and how they interact within their preferred natural environments.  Analyze patterns of behavior and consumption, preferences and habits. This provides both the framework and focus for lead gen strategy, technology and continuous improvements.

Bait-Master (Content Manager): Works with the Lead Biologist to formulate the best types of bait to offer a given species, depending on buyer stage, environment, demonstrated interest and behaviors.

Fish School Behavioral Expert (Social Media): Discovers areas where the largest target fish schools congregate, their patterns of activity and who their influencers are. Works with the Bait-Master in serving up effective invitations to the fish hatchery.

Fish Hatchery Manager (Website Manager): Manages the care and feeding of both new and existing leads as they grow and mature through the buyer journey. Works with the crew members above to deliver the most effective nourishment at any given time.

Radar/Sonar Operator (PPC, SEM, SEO, Retargeting, Predictive Look-alike Modeling): Leverages technologies that explore larger areas of ocean in search of lead outliers. Works with the Bait-Master in providing incentives to join the hatchery.

So whether you are evaluating potential inbound technologies, reevaluating the effectiveness of your existing technologies or reviewing your inbound marketing strategies to better align with current business objectives, the moral of my fish story is to start with an in-depth understanding of your favorite fish, then leverage your support crew to overlay the strategies and technologies that are the most effective in finding, capturing, nurturing and growing as many of the same species as possible.

BTW: I sold the fishing boat about 4 years ago to a guy in Australia. I hope he focused on the fish first. Otherwise his shipping costs alone may not have been worth it!

Steve Kellogg is a Digital Marketing Leader, Strategist and Technologist. He is currently Sr. Director of Global Marketing Strategies, Technologies and Partnerships at Astadia, Inc.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Digital Marketing Transformation Road Map

When you think about Digital Marketing Transformation, you probably reside in one of 3 camps:
  • You’ve jumped in with both feet and actually lived to tell the tale.
  • You’ve selected and installed some digital tools, but are not using them to their full potential.
  • You’re overwhelmed by the many shiny tools and technology options, new resource and staffing skill requirements and internal change management challenges, to make much progress.
Here are 5 key strategies I've learned from helping many enterprise companies embark on their own digital transformation road trips.

Digital Marketing Transformation Strategy #1: Get One. Why are you doing this? What is it you actually want to ‘transform'? Are you just looking to reduce marketing costs by switching to digital? Ugh. Hopefully this was accomplished back in 2005.

Are you trying to get ahead of your competition? Are you trying to catch up to your competition? Why? Why? Why? My guess is you are doing it because you have to.

The cold reality is there really is no choice. Your customers have already embraced digital and moved into the neighborhood. They've become locals. You either transform and move in, or live the dream that one day, peel-apart film will once again become available for your Polaroid camera.

Where you get your strategy is just as important.  I’ve seen too many road map failures because the stakeholder(s) got caught up in ’technology tornadoes', allowing these twisters to drive strategy instead of the other way around.

It can be very seductive, discovering that what was impossible yesterday is now possible today and then inserting that into the ever expanding road map. Define your strategy around solid business objectives and let the storm chasers track the tornadoes. Stay the course.

Digital Marketing Transformation Strategy #2: If you focus on what your customers expect, then delivering what your CEO expects (revenue) should take care of itself.
The truth is that all your leads and customers fully expect you to have a continuous, cohesive conversation with them throughout their entire relationship with you. From first realizing you exist to the last call with your customer service, the expectation is that you recognize them, and know their entire history, no matter what channel they choose or which device they use.

Throughout every interaction they are and have been the same person. Why would they tolerate you engaging them otherwise? Succeed at this and you have a ‘loving family member' for life. Fail and eventually no one shows up at your company's funeral. Some analysts predict that, as early as next year, CX will start to become your company's  key competitive differentiator, not your actual product or service itself. Now that's a scary thought!

Digital Marketing Transformation Strategy #3: Lewis and Clark had Sacagawea. So should you.
Acting as interpreter and guide, Sacagawea played a significant role in the overall success of Lewis and Clark’s famed 1804 expedition. According to some reports, one of her biggest strengths was that she could read the landscape, she could read the rivers and valleys. She had a sense of what the landscapes said about direction, where they were, and where they were going.

Imagine how much faster and how much more successful your digital transformation journey would be if you had a similar guide to show you the way? Align with a partner, or hire a Marketing Technologist to help lead the way. The journey is wrought with danger and risk. Hire someone who knows the landscape.

Fun Fact: My great, great, great uncle was actually William Clark (of Lewis and Clark).

Digital Marketing Transformation Strategy #4: You Don’t Need to Live Everywhere – Just Where Your Best Customers Are.
  • Q: Do I need to be on X? (X= Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, FlipaGram, Vine, Google+, SlideShare, Bebo, StumbleUpon,Tumblr, etc)
  • A: Only if your best customers live there.
‘Nuff said.

Digital Marketing Transformation Strategy #5: Connect the Identity Dots You Can – Don’t Worry About Those You Can’t
Realizing you need to have a consistent conversation with everyone is one thing. Solving the identify gaps is another. Even Best-in-Class companies struggle with making the identity connections across all possible touch points, channels and devices. There are probably some channels your best customers use that you don’t own and may never have access to.
  • Step 1: Make a list of those channels you either own or control and can get data from. This would include your own social channels, your website, events, internal email lists, CRM and eCommerce data, your mobile apps, your own customer service center, in short, any 1st party data source.
  • Step 2: Make a list of channels you know your best customers are using, but that you don’t own or control, nor can you get data from.
  • Step 3: Abandon Step 2 and put all your focus on Step 1. Save your Step 2 list for a future discussion with your Technology Tornado Chasers, once Step 1 is fully completed and enabled (which btw is no small feat).
So, once you've addressed these 5 strategies and the ship is sailing towards long term success, the next step is to fill in all the marketing transformation road map details.

Of course we are only scratching the surface in this post. Predictive modeling, and scoring, smart automated retargeting, data science, machine learning, API connections to unconnected databases and systems, data standardization management across all channels, the list goes on. (You see why you need Sacagawea).

Bonus Strategy #6: Become BFF with your VP of IT. You will need each other.  I mean you will REALLY need each other. Learn to play tennis if they play tennis. Buy them lavish gifts (a car, a boat, a Las Vegas vacation, you get the idea).

Why? Since data is the key that unlocks massive digital marketing transformation success, make sure you've established enough trust and friendship so that IT is willing to share the car keys with you (and hopefully some of the driving) as you plan for and embark on your own marketing technology road trip.

Digital Marketing Thought Leader, Strategist and Technologist

P.S. Want to know a bit more about Sacagawea? A few fun facts:
  • Sacagawea was the daughter of a Shoshone chief, and was born in Idaho around 1788.
  • She was captured in her early teens by an enemy tribe and sold to a French-Canadian trapper who was later hired as an interpreter by Lewis and Clark.
  • Sacagawea accompanied her husband on the expedition despite having a newborn son in tow. She soon became recognized as a valuable member of the party.
  • She was the only woman on the Expedition and took care for her newborn son, the entire journey.
  • After the expedition was over, while still in her mid twenties, she gave birth to a daughter, but Sacagawea died shortly afterwards in South Dakota, from what was probably Typhoid fever*.
  • William Clark, who had grown fond of her son during the expedition, took legal custody and paid for his education. He later went on to become an explorer in his own right and lived to about 61.
  • Sacagawea never got paid for her role in the expedition.
  • Clark did pay tribute to her in a letter to her Husband,  referring to her as, "Your woman who accompanied you on that long dangerous and fatiguing route to the Pacific Ocean and back, deserved a greater reward for her attention and services than we had in our power to offer her."
  • In 2000, a special "Sacagawea dollar" was minted in her honor.
  • *Accounts of her death vary and at what age. Some rumors say she died of old age in the company of her Shoshone tribe. 

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