Excitement around the mobile web was palpable at 2012 International CES. While consumer electronics hardware and product launches dominate headlines, CES has quietly become a must-attend event for digital media and marketing professionals, many of whom were in attendance this year for the first time.

With dozens of sessions on mobile content and marketing at Digital Hollywood and other CES conference tracks, the Las Vegas Convention Center was abuzz with discussions about delivering quality mobile experiences to consumers while efficiently capitalizing on the channel for marketers.

What follows is a summary of insights from some of the best minds in mobile content and marketing who appeared on panels I attended throughout CES.

“Mobile technology is enabling an important and disruptive transition in content distribution, and interactivity, as content becomes aware of users and consumers have a greater ability to interact on multiple devices and from any location,” said Jeff Demian, research strategy and business development director at Intel Labs.

Creating contiguous experiences and measuring behavior were recurring themes throughout the week, as marketers prepare for the onslaught of a multi-screen universe and the need to create compelling, tightly integrated content while catering to the unique characteristics of each platform and device.

Content and Revenue

Saul Berman, global strategy and change leader at IBM spoke about the consumer experience needing to be additive, and in so doing, how it forces the “devaluation and revaluation of content.” In other words, changes in distribution and payment models may result in less revenue per eyeball in the short-term, but leveraged across an entire publishing enterprise, can become an even more valuable asset over time.

Murray Solomon, vice president, digital business development at Time Inc. validated Berman’s assertion, saying early indicators suggest its all-access model of providing both print and digital versions of its 21 publications at a single subscription price is paying off. Bryan Moffett, vice president, digital strategy and sponsorship operations at National Public Media noted how more than 100 million streams of PBS Kids content on the iPad didn’t cannibalize its web streams, and that with ten to 20 percent click-through rates on the iPad, digital is “leading the conversation and resulting in big radio sales.”

Daniel Tibbets, vice president, digital media, Bunim/Murray Productions, says it’s the quality of content that matters most. “Product decisions need to be made on the basis of what consumers want, and their needs to be treated in a way that is unique to each platform.”

Mobile Advertising

Although today’s banner ad paradigm is understandable, display on mobile won’t be effective for long, as consumers demand a deeper experience. Andrew Maltin, CEO of mobile development studio MEDL Mobile, says ”the most engaging apps are technologically advanced and highly interactive.” Cameron Fiedlander, vice president and director of creative technology at Designkitchen/WPP Group notes “we’re seeing mobile formats evolve into deeper, more socially-driven experiences, making mobile display much less relevant.”

Steve Yankovich, vice president of platform business solutions and mobile at eBay, points out that “consumers will dismiss ads altogether if they get in the way of their intent to do something else.” The solution is to have better contextual and geo-fencing capabilities. According to Time, Inc.’s Solomon, “there is no reason why an immersive advertising experience with applications is not also possible in the same way which ads are viewed as valuable content to magazine readers.”

Context Matters

While the need to create a great product is always implied, context may be even more important in mobile.

“If content is king, then context is queen,” says Ashley Swartz, senior vice president marketing at Digitas. “Mobility gives content creators the ability to know more about their audience, and to include the audience in unique ways that before now were not possible.”

Consumers want to pick up the experience where they left off on different devices, and marketers need to be ready to accept them at those nonlinear entry points, while at the same time moving them through a story line or a funnel that ultimately results in some desired action.

Lori Schwartz, chief technology catalyst, North America at McCann Erickson says the near future is going to be all about “long-tail narrowcasting and less about broadcasting. “If you can build a community of uber-influencers down that funnel, it’s possible to create micro-franchises around brands.”

The Year of Big Data

Notwithstanding a slew of legal and regulatory concerns, also on the minds of mobile marketers is the use of real-time data and how it can be used to create relevant brand experiences. While panelists were quick to coin phrases like “the year of big data” and “data is the new creative,” few specific solutions were offered.

On the contrary, caution was urged when considering integration of social graph data into applications. Schwartz suggests pulling data from social media APIs into a custom solution a brand can control for its own brand experiences, rather than integrating in ways that could leave brands vulnerable to the decisions of social media platforms in the long run.

Martez Moore, executive vice president, digital media at BET Networks, says media and brands “need to be very thoughtful about how to integrate third party data that could potentially cannibalize their CPMs were providers to leverage that data too.” Instead, Martez says BET uses social to market, promote and engage traffic, which results in the ability to sell ads at a premium around shows like 106 & Park.

Production Trends

From the production standpoint, the industry is embracing HTML5 as a baseline when developing across platforms, but recognizes there are still gaps in functionality that must be addressed. In the meantime, hybrid approaches are emerging and native apps for iOS and Android are still best when it comes to creating feature rich experiences. While some, like eBay, still develop for Blackberry, Sol Lipman, senior director, mobile at AOL says the BlackBerry PlayBook has “fallen off a cliff statistically for AOL.”

On the issue of whether to develop on multiple platforms concurrently, Lindsey Turrentine, editor in chief, CNET Reviews, points out “these are difficult choices and you have to be very smart about how to proceed. We started with iOS Native hybrid HTML5 approach.”

Swartz suggests building with an eye toward reach and ubiquity, but to do so with a dose of pragmatism. “It’s expensive to develop and promote an app in a world where 60 percent will open it once and never go back, and where app discovery is still an issue for lesser known brands.”

Strong distinctions are also being drawn between developing for mobile phones and tablets, with several describing the iPad as the more engaging experience. Chrisophe Gillet, product manager at Fanhattan, describes mobile as “a start and stop experience,” where users get the information they need and then put their device away,” whereas tablets “have become more of a companion device due to their more comfortable form factor.”

Mandar Shinde, director, mobile monetization at AOL also sees tablet co-browsing as a big phenomenon, citing 50 percent more browsing traffic in the evenings, presumably while consumers are also watching television. The complexity and lack of tools for accurately tracking the integrated viewer behavior across devices was also raised as an issue yet to be resolved.

Growth Through Collaboration

Top of mind for agency executives has been improved collaboration and breaking down silos that prevent marketers from achieving their goals and giving consumers the best of what the medium has to offer. “We’ve been living in the construct of television versus digital for too long,” says Schwarz. It would be a mistake to cannibalize television for digital. We need to look at it more holistically.”

So how do we do we get there? Alexandre Mars, CEO, Phonevalley and head of mobile at Publicis Group suggests all of the agency stakeholders – creative, digital, media and mobile – need to be part of the conversation. Only then will everyone get the budgets required to achieve the goals of marketers and to create more powerful experiences for marketers.

Yahav Isak senior vice president, project management at Digitas Health, says “everything is digital — it’s really more about understanding the different channels of digital marketing and how they can best be integrated.”

According to Tibbets, “the only thing we are limited by is bandwidth and our imagination to create amazing immersive experiences.”

 

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Categories: Advertising, Conferences, Content, Data, Entertainment, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Mobile, Social Media, Technology



Readers, Followers, Friends & Colleagues,

A year after launching Winders Consulting Group, the new year is a perfect time to reflect on progress and, more importantly, to thank the clients who made 2011 a banner year. My typical engagements have been as “CMO-for-hire” for marketing technology and Internet companies looking to increase awareness and sales through more effective market positioning strategies and creative, cost-effective and accountable marketing and communication programs.

One personal highlight has been the opportunity to stretch beyond my expertise in digital marketing technology to gain valuable experience in cause marketing, clean tech and social media. The diversity of my work has also afforded me the rare opportunity to experience firsthand several different business models, systems, processes, styles and philosophies, and to both affect and learn from how founders and CEOs deal with a wide range of challenges.

Below is a summary of my recent projects, including links to my volunteer work with Room to Read and the Digital Family Reunion, an annual holiday event I co-host for the technology community in Los Angeles. I plan to feature more tech startups and great marketing campaigns on “Winders on the Web” in the coming months, so please let me know if there are companies you think I should profile.

It would be great to connect and explore how we can collaborate in 2012. Until then, happy new year!

 

Thank you to these great companies who I have had the sincere pleasure to advise, collaborate with and learn from throughout 2011:

CanaryVoice applications turn collections of voice messages to into digital greetings that can be shared online to celebrate occasions, express opinions and preserve treasured memories.

 

Causecast delivers technology to engage employees and activate consumers with timely and relevant CSR information and nonprofit donation and volunteer opportunities.

 

Fanzila is a social media management platform for Facebook and the web, with applications, analytics and CRM features that engage consumers and create valuable marketing opportunities for small businesses and brands.

 

Rocket Fuel makes digital advertising work better for brands by combining the best of DSPs and networks with advanced response prediction technology.

 

Fraser Communications is a full-service advertising agency providing integrated solutions for the healthcare, environmental, nutrition, banking and automotive industries.

 

 

Digital Family Reunion is an annual holiday networking event for LA’s diverse technology community.

 

 

 

 

Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children’s literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls.

 

 

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Categories: Business, Cause Marketing, Community, Consulting, Friends and Colleagues



Over the past several months, I’ve been honored to assist entrepreneur Frank Catalano with product development and marketing for CanaryVoice. One way we are building awarness for this unique way of using voice greetings to celebrate special occasions, is to create public celebrations like the one we announced today. Since Veterans Day, we have been inviting the public to phone in messages to honor the U.S. armed services, and today we launched the first-of-its-kind audio greeting card for the troops, giving them the ability to hear firsthand how much their service is appreciated this holiday season.

Our “Voices of Gratitude” holiday album for the troops is still accepting messages. Anyone can listen, add a message and easily share the album via email, Facebook and the web, all free of charge. To contribute a message, simply call this number: (847) 598-3466 (Mailbox: 2710 and Pin: 9801).

Even if you decide not to leave a message, we would appreciate if you would share the album to your Facebook wall, so others may have the option to lisen, contribute or share. The completed “Voices of Gratitude” album will be available on the CanaryVoice site and CDs will be mailed to the public information officers of each branch of the military and to select military support groups, publications, media outlets and blogs. For complete details about the “Voices of Gratitude” campaign, or to create your own voice album, visit www.canaryvoice.com.

 

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Categories: Cause Marketing, Community, Culture, Entertainment, Family, Internet, Social Media, Technology



Warrior-Preneur Ann EvanstonOne of the joys of independent consulting is the opportunity to learn from a wide range of companies and the many solutions providers who stand ready to serve them. For startup CanaryVoice, we identified that social media savvy moms are likely to embrace its unique voicemail greetings service, leading us to explore the “momosphere” and participation in the BLP CONNECT! conference where “warrior-preneur” and marketing consultant Ann Evanston gave an inspiring keynote on “The Power of Connecting.”

Her request for audience feedback on the meaning of “connection” elicited a wide range of responses, including: growing relationships, personal converstions, face-to-face meetings, follow-up, support, cameraderie, resources, interest and attention. According to Evanston, connection means “creating an energy that draws people to you.” Pull not push marketing. Inbound, not outbound marketing. Energetically, YOU are what creates your brand, which is distinctly unique from the product you sell. YOU make your brand unique and special, and as such you can program marketing activities to create an energy that attracts customers to your brand.

While the emphasis of Evanston’s talk was geared toward an audience of women entrepreneurs and guiding their use of social media, every marketer can benefit from thinking more about ways to energize and connect with their audiences, no matter what the product or the size of the marketing budget. If the word for 2010 was “authentic” and in 2011 we are talking about being “transparent,” the word for 2012 will be to “humanize” your brand, according to Evanston.

So how do you go about humanizing, connecting and energizing your brand? Here were my take-aways from Evanston’s motivating talk:

1) Create polarity in your marketing. Ho-hum marketing is average and safe — be brave, be memorable and be yourself!

2) Understand that multiple “buying types” exist and that you need to appeal to all of them while being ready to refine your pitch once you determine which buying type you are dealing with. Diversify how you connect by creating different ways to tell your story.

3) Think with abundance, not in scarcity mode. Doing so will help you attract like-minded people who want to do business with you. You will create connections you never thought possible, that will lead to an even greater number of customers, referral partners and promotion opportunities.

4) Let go of the fear. Fear of success, fear of the money you can really make, fear of polarity, fear of that first Tweet. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting the things done you need to do to drive your business forward.

5) Create a step-by-step plan comprised of systems and processes that develop revenue…and, of course, give Ann a call to help!

There is nothing more powerful than the energetic connections an entrepreneur can make when she tells her story with authenticity, honesty and fearlessness. Whether it’s in a selling situation, a speech or social media marketing, let go of the fears that are holding you back. There is a world of partners, customers and advocates out there just waiting for you to make powerful connections that will help you grow your business.

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Categories: Advertising, Blogging, Brand Marketing, Conferences, Events, Internet, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media



“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead

Shervin Pishevar of Menlo Ventures shared this quote to characterize to the Silicon Valley culture, just before announcing the Menlo Talent Fund on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last week. He described it as a “quick decision angel fund” to help entrepreneurs launch their ventures with up to $250,000 in seed funding. With a prominent “Jedi Council of Mentors” and eight companies already funded, he claimed to fund within 24-72 hours of a pitch and offered to “back your dreams and change the world together.”

While this sort of rapid funding approach sounds enticing and may accelerate the deal process and help VCs avoid missing opportunities, it seems like little more than an option to me and not entirely strategic. The Menlo announcement gave way to an interesting discussion about the role of venture capitalists and their relationship with entrepreneurs.

What do entrepreneurs really want from VCs? According to host Michael Arrington, they of course want money, but they would also like for their VCs “not to screw it up,” suggesting they should stay out the way until the companies really need them. Put more diplomatically by other members of the panel, startups should expect their investors to add some intrinsic value to the venture, not just their money. According to Joe Kraus of Google Ventures, there was a time when the VC’s role was primarily to help hire the senior management team and make business connections. Today, he said it’s also about knowing what the business needs and teaching the skills they know best and young entrepreneurs aren’t expected to know yet, like how to hire great engineers.

James Slavet reiterated the point by explaining that venture capitalists aren’t necessarily good at everything, the same way no single employee can do everything. He challenged entrepreneurs in the audience to identify the areas in their relationships VCs where you can get the most value and to understand value can show up in different ways at different times. Slavet predicts the future of venture capital will see fewer firms investing in companies at a wider range of stages, but said it’s hard for a VC to be a generalist and said operating experience, flexibility and specialization within a particular category will always be useful at any stage.

There was a general consensus among the panel that the physical proximity of a startup to its venture capital partner matters to its success, based mainly on contacts and the notion that not being in the same market slows down a company’s ability to hire and limits the number of potential exit opportunities. Arrington suggested this may be more symptomatic of Silicon Valley investors being lazy. After all, there are startups all over the world who are plenty successful. Regardless, it was a poignant reminder that even in our connected world, success comes down to trusted relationships and doing business with people we like.

Wherever a company or its investors or based, venture capitalists should be able, and expected, to make valuable connections for their portfolio companies. Everybody’s money is green. It’s the money that adds the most value to a business that matters most.

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Categories: Conferences, Technology, Venture Capital



Every marketing tactic has unique properties that influence the value that can be assigned relative to its cost. Whereas Part I addressed ROI on a macro level, this post focuses on how to value the most common marketing and communication programs on their individual merits.

Online Advertising
Even though display advertising can and should be measured through to a conversion (easy to do in Salesforce), expectations for clicks should be within those of industry averages (.2-.5%), with even lower expectations set on driving leads. The possible exceptions would include programs specifically geared toward capturing contact information prior to authorizing the download of a research paper or other thought leadership piece.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)
Clicks (eCPC)
Leads (eCPL) – may include leads attributed to the campaign that did not come from a click
Sales (eCPA)

Benchmarks: Compare CTR against industry averages and past campaigns to reflect engagement
Compare CPM against other publications with comparable audience reach/composition
Compare lift in awareness against competitors (third party) during the flight periods

Recommend: Track site visitors and associated leads by traffic source

Print Advertising
Print advertising, while more expensive and less measurable than online ads, should be considered in any ROI analysis. Measuring the impact of print ads can be accomplished with a specific call to action or program (custom landing page, guarantee, contest, promotion, etc.), but its effectiveness is more often relegated to the level of confidence management has in a publication’s ability to reach a qualified audience.

If not centered around a specific promotion or product launch, investment in trade publications is best kept to special issues tied to your industry, which is often tied to a specific industry event.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)

Benchmarks: Compare CPM against other trade pubs with comparable audience reach and composition
Compare lift in awareness of the company during the flight periods

Recommend: Create CRM lead source for “print advertising” and train Sales to associate related opportunities

Paid Search (SEM)
Search engine marketing serves both awareness and a demand generation objectives. However, paid search will always drive some number of unqualified leads and a process must be devised to manage them without becoming a distraction for Sales. While sometimes a nuisance, the value of SEM for awareness, as a defensive measure against competitors’ efforts and the occasional opportunity to land a substantial new client make paid search worthwhile to continue testing and measuring for its effectiveness.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)
Clicks (eCPC)
Leads (eCPL)
Sales (eCPA)

Benchmarks: eCPL against past SEM campaigns
eCPA against total ad spend

Recommend: Track site visitors and associated leads by traffic source.

Event Sponsorship
Regional and vertical event sponsorship can create great awareness and meaningful interaction with qualified prospects. While practically speaking there will always be impressions made and conversations had that will be impossible to track, Marketing must develop a process for entering information from business cards obtained at events into the CRM system.

For this to work optimally, sales leadership must take a proactive role in ensuring opportunities from events are captured as thoroughly and accurately as possible. For example, a conversation with a former client where no business cards are traded but it results in securing an RFP needs to somehow be attributed to participation in the event. Or when a lead captured at an event gets passed from one rep to another it needs to be entered accordingly.

Key metrics: Potential audience – Reach/Frequency of the event’s advance promotion efforts
Actual audience – How many people attended the event?
Share of Voice – How well were we “heard” at the event?
Conversations – How many people did we “touch” during the event?
Leads – How many new contacts/leads were put into the CRM system (eCPL)?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Survey company representatives afterward to compare against other sponsored events
Compare revenue between regional event investments (holds regional sales reps accountable)
Compare revenue between vertical event investments
Compare regional events to effectiveness of vertical events

Recommend: Create a lead source option in CRM for each sponsored event and track qualified
leads/opportunities accordingly

Hosted Events
Investment in a company’s own custom events arguably attract a more highly qualified audience because the invited guests are its most important clients and prospects. For this reason, it is less likely new business cards will be obtained for entry into the CRM and it will be more difficult for Marketing to measure the effectiveness without direct input from Sales about new opportunities obtained as a result of client interactions during or immediately following the event.

Key metrics: Potential audience – How many people did we reach with the invitation (Sales must help)
Actual audience – How many people attended the event?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Survey company representatives after each event to compare against all sponsored events
Compare revenue derived from our own events against each other

Recommend: Create a lead source option in CRM for each sponsored event and track qualified
leads/opportunities accordingly

Webinars/Conference Calls/Podcasts
Webinars can be used for a combination of awareness, thought leadership and lead generation. Similar to custom events, webinars generate a highly qualified audience since the company typically controls the guest list. Although costs increase when partnering with another entity, so does the size and potential to reach new prospective clients. Unlike live events, it is much easier to track the effectiveness based on the number of people who register and attend the event.

Key metrics: Potential audience – How many people were invited to the webinar?
Registrations – How many people signed up to attend the webinar?
Attendees – How many people actually attended the webinar?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Compare growth in attendance over each webinar
Compare growth in sales over time, including impact of different topics or marketing partners

Recommend: Import event registration information into CRM and track leads accordingly

Conference Speaking Opportunities
Part event marketing and part public relations, speaking at conferences cannot be overlooked for its value in the marketing mix. The challenge with measuring speaking opportunities is that we often have no way of knowing the actions taken by audience members who were positively influenced by something our executive says on stage. If the speaker interacts with a prospective client, their information should be passed to a sales rep and recorded in the CRM, yet this easier said than done since the CEO does not (nor should he be expected to) think about ROI measurement from marketing at this granular level. Therefore, it is beholden on everyone in Sales to be mindful of where every lead comes from and to track it accordingly.

Key Metrics: Number of qualified speaking engagements secured (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Number of leads that can be directly attributed to speaking opportunities

Benchmarks: Number of our speaking opportunities compared to prior period (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Frequency of individual competitors appearing on stage during comparable periods

Recommend: Create a lead source for each event where we speak and track qualified leads accordingly
Hold PR firm accountable for number of speaking opportunities

Public Relations
The ability to consistently secure editorial coverage will build awareness, lift overall industry perception and increase sales as described above. But the more quantifiable metrics are the number of editorial placements, and to a lesser degree the type of placement (mention, roundup, feature, etc.) and how prominently a company is featured therein.

In years past, an accepted measurement of ROI from public relations investments was to calculate the advertising rate for the comparable amount of space secured. Today, systems offered by companies like Vocus, United Business Media and PR Newswire offer monitoring across all media with sophisticated scoring to measure things like:

• Type of media
• Type of coverage – feature story, profile, mention, round-up, etc.
• Quality of coverage –positive, neutral or negative
• Consistency, frequency, message saturation and diversity of coverage
• Share of voice against competitors

Depending upon the size of company and the importance it places on editorial coverage, it may be worth investigating third-party PR monitoring services, but often management is satisfied with simply being mentioned consistently in key trade publications and business press.

To the extent that editorial coverage secured can be directly attributed to a lead or a sale, that information should be captured in the CRM. This can be as simple as adding “editorial coverage” in the lead source field, to indicate when a new opportunity comes from any form of editorial coverage.

Key Metrics: Number of editorial mentions in trade and business press (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Number of leads that can be directly attributed to editorial coverage

Benchmarks: Number of editorial mentions compared to prior period
Number of editorial mentions of competitors in comparable time period

Recommend: Hold PR firm accountable for quantity, scale and frequency of trade media placements
Hold PR firm accountable for number of placements in trade analyst coverage
Create lead source for major editorial coverage and associate web and sales leads accordingly

Social Media
While a social media presence is not always a high priority for B2B marketers, it is advisable to at least maintain a Twitter handle, a Facebook page and a LinkedIn company profile, which need to be updated consistently in order to remain credible. Social media activities are relatively low cost to maintain (an hour or two per day of a junior level marketing staffer or intern). While it may be difficult to directly attribute revenue to the social channel, it is highly measurable in other ways and can be a big driver of awareness and thought leadership.

Key Metrics: Frequency of blog posts, Tweets and LinkedIn and Facebook status updates
Number of Twitter followers and Facebook “Likes”
Traffic to blog page

Benchmarks: Compare by channel to frequency of key competitors’ audience size and frequency of updates

Recommend: Report amount of hours spent and frequency of communication by each social media channel

Website Traffic and Analytics
A company’s website is the transom across which leads that cannot be attributed to a specific program will make their way into the company’s sales process. Monthly or annual benchmarks for traffic and leads should be established, but more importantly just looking at and discussing site analytics can lead to great marketing opportunities.

Key Metrics: Monthly unique visitors
Number of leads via the contact form
Source of traffic and leads

Benchmarks: Compare recent traffic and lead patterns to those immediately following the launch of a new site

Recommend: Monthly reporting of unique visitors and leads

Client Communication
Communicating with clients and prospects via e-mail is relatively easy and inexpensive and a newsletter can drive leads by introducing new products, promoting a hosted event or just serving as a trigger to remind a buyer to include the company on its next RFP. Whether completion of a lead form is tracked from a click or you rely on reps to indicate that a client mentioned having received our email, leads from dedicated mailings and newsletters should be tracked in the CRM whenever possible.

Key Metrics: Size of mailing list and frequency of sending to the list
Email open rate and click rates
Lead forms completed as a result of clicks from within newsletters

Benchmarks: Compare size of mailing list, open rate and CTR trends over comparable periods of time

Recommend: Report on frequency of client communication, open rate and number of leads generated

Product Marketing and Collateral
While not an obvious marketing program expenditure, marketing typically spends an inordinate amount of time on product positioning, differentiation, launch promotions and collateral. For the most ROI-obsessed marketers, a field for “product marketing and collateral” can be created in the CRM as a place for sales reps to track when a particular sales deck, individual piece of collateral or knowledge they obtained from a product specialist resulted in their winning a piece of new business.

Key Metrics: Number of man-hours spent on product marketing related programs
Number of opportunities cited by reps as being the result of product marketing initiatives

Benchmarks: Compare growth of new opportunities from product marketing over comparable time periods

Recommend: Identify a new vertical (Education) or product (Brand-DR Connect) and measure product sales

Instilling ROI Values in the Organization

To avoid the traditional tension between sales and marketing, align their objectives from the beginning under a common value proposition and goal. Marketing can take on planning, implementation and measurement of programs while Sales is recognized as the catalyst for winning deals. Account management (operations) also has a role in retaining customers and increasing their lifetime value.

Avoid Sales not entering leads through training and by making the lead source a required field in the CRM. Sales should also be discouraged to attribute leads to a marketing activity just because they want to “help” Marketing. Incentives should be focused on encouraging an honest assessment of where leads come from and enlisting everyone on the team in tracking our ROI so we can make more intelligent decisions about where to place our marketing dollars based on real experience about what works and what doesn’t.

Summary

Key recommendations for measuring return on investment from marketing can be summarized as including:

• Enlist Marketing in refining metrics and benchmarks and determining specific goals
• Make lead source a required field in the CRM and frequently update lead source picklist
• Enlist PR firm in defending their value for media relations activities and reaffirm goals
• Train Sales about the importance and how to properly account for marketing-related leads
• Regularly analyze deal size by source
• Undertake win/loss analysis to determine LTV measurement

Multiple touch-points with an audience, at varying costs and at varying scale and quality will influence each sale, make it difficult to attribute revenue to any single marketing program. Attempting to create a common unit of measurement or scoring system across programs, while possible in theory, would be a futile effort since integrated marketing by its nature is designed to leverage the combined effect of all programs rather than any individual component.

Although it is useful to understand which marketing programs drive new business most efficiently, and the marketing organization can use the key metrics and benchmarks contained in this report to make future recommendations, ultimately management and investors should be more concerned with the cost to acquire a qualified lead (eCPL) and the most effective rate at which to drive awareness (eCPM).

How we make decisions about future expenditures is dependent on our personal experience, recommendations based on others’ experience and our belief in the audience composition of a particular program as described by sales people presenting new opportunities we may know little about. Sometimes the risk of not participating in a program can be as much a determining factor as there being a high likelihood for something positive to come of the investment. No matter what the program or how it was selected, there is always the need (and likely the ability) to test and verify.

The primary reason for tracking the return on marketing investments is to make better decisions about where to make subsequent investments based on the success of prior decisions. However, there are no guarantees that any investment in marketing will result in acquiring a new client or maintaining an existing one. The metrics, benchmarks and recommendations contained in this post are merely guidelines and observations based on my experience. I would appreciate your feedback, as I continue to understand and share insights on this important topic for B2B marketers.

Return to Measuring ROI from B2B Marketing: Part I

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Categories: Advertising, Brand Marketing, Demand Generation, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Automation, Sales




Unlike consumer marketing, where sales from advertising expenditures are a direct operating expense and measuring conversion rates and lifts in retail sales are resident to the business model itself, measuring the sales impact from B2B marketing initiatives is often a more challenging task.

My clients often ask, and this post seeks to answer:

• How do we determine the overall impact of our marketing investment?
• What return on investment we should expect from individual marketing initiatives?
• What benchmarks can be established to compare the effectiveness across our programs?

When measuring the impact of marketing, it is important to do so in the context of the larger corporate agenda. If the stated company objective is to grow revenue while maintaining high customer satisfaction, the related marketing objectives might be to increase awareness while better educating existing customers about products and services they aren’t currently buying. Only from this understanding can sales, marketing, product and operations align under a common value proposition that gets everyone on board with measuring the impact of the company’s external marketing and communication investment.

What to Measure
“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count;
everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

– Albert Einstein

Measurement of B2B marketing effectiveness is a relative one, and somewhere between hyper-obsessive measurement and doing nothing, there lies the opportunity to monitor how a company’s investment in marketing is affecting the bottom line.

The best unit of measurement for B2B marketing is cost-per-lead because it holds Marketing accountable to driving new inquiries at some measured cost while giving Sales a familiar metric by which they can also be held accountable. Ultimately a cost-per-sale analysis should be applied, but a cost-per-lead metric is the most common metric by which sales and marketing can share responsibility for their combined efforts.

Since all marketing programs will reach some percentage of both current and prospective customers, applying a CPL metric removes from the equation events that are out of Marketing’s control, such as competition, objection handling, timing, etc.

Actions a target audience may take along the sales funnel that can feed an ROI modle are:

• Impressions
• Clicks
• Leads
• Conversations (at events)
• Inquiries (by phone ormail)
• Qualified meetings
• Opportunities (RFPs)
• Sales
• Retention
• Lifetime Value (LTV)

There is wide variance in the types of B2B marketing programs available, and an equally broad range of ways to measure their associated impact. Whether considered individually or collectively, B2B marketing programs can be justified and evaluated by their:

• Cost
• Potential to drive revenue (or other rationale made by management)
• Size of audience
• Quality of audience
• Measurability/accountability

Marketing Spend as a Percentage of Revenue
According to a 2008 IDC study, on average B2B companies spend 2.8% of revenue on marketing (ranging from .8% in the services sector to 5.8% for IT companies). Spending levels depend largely upon the stage of the company and its strategic need to invest in awareness initiatives. The study showed marketing programs represented 61% of total marketing spend, with an average of $293,000 of program spend and $16.8 million in revenue for each corporate marketing staff member.

Return on Investment Benchmarking
Ultimately, a company needs to ascertain its ROI from marketing in order to assure shareholders that the expense is warranted, and to more intelligently make investments in the future based on the results experienced in the past.

While every marketing investment will return a different result, at a macro level we can calculate is how the overall amount invested in marketing (entire spend and salaries) relates to revenue. For example, spending roughly $500,000 to generate $20 million in revenue (2.5% of sales put toward marketing), would be a gross ROI of 3900% (ROI = Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment/Cost of Investment).

Such a gross metric, while interesting, is not that useful for making decisions about where to invest in specific marketing programs. On an individual basis, my rule of thumb has always been that it’s reasonable to expect an average gain of 10x the amount spent, or an ROI of approximately 1,000% from any single program. Some will generate more and some less, but using this as a basic metric provides a starting point from which to create historical benchmarks.

Measurement by Objective
While ultimately, the goal of any organization is to drive sales growth, the process typically begins with marketing programs that drive awareness and leads, each of which have unique properties when it comes to measuring ROI.

Awareness (CPM)

Awareness among customers and prospects, and — more importantly — their attitudes and feelings toward the company, is an important metric by which to determine the impact marketing is having on sales. It is also somewhat difficult to measure.

At one (very expensive) extreme, custom research companies can develop custom panels of would-be customers who can be studied year-over-year to show trends in industry attitudes toward your brand. In the online advertising industry there is another less expensive, and potentially more effective, solution is offered by Advertiser Perceptions, which measures awareness, attitudes and perceptions about specific media vendors by marketers and the agencies that represent them.

At the other end of the spectrum, surveying your own customers is an easy and inexpensive barometer of perception. An adept management team should also have an instinct for whether the company’s marketing is resonating with customers based on their direct feedback from the sales channel. If sales are going up and customers are echoing certain brand values and calling for products and features by name, then something about the company’s marketing is clearly working.

Leads (CPL)

I’ve found marketing to drive demand generation in the B2B space less important than the “air cover” a national sales team can benefit from as they seek to ensure their prospects have heard of the company and have a basic understanding of how it’s different from competitors whom they may perceive to all “sound alike.”

Leads are a viable metric for determining the relative effectiveness of all marketing programs, and wherever possible a contact form should be used to obtain for more information. However, lead-generation as a marketing objective is likely to be inefficient for a high-end sale because it is more likely to attract smaller, unsophisticated advertisers when the company has likely already identified and is pursuing through its national sales force.

Sales (CPA)

Fundamentally, all marketing activities exist to support revenue. Marketing’s impact on sales can be felt at many levels – from positioning to equip sales reps with the right words and collateral, to sponsorship and advertising, editorial coverage, promotions and event marketing – done with the intent of driving revenue.

Unfortunately, it’s harder to measure the impact of great sales collateral and a well-differentiated positioning strategy than it is to track a click-to-sale ratio. These intangible measures can only be captured through the close alignment of sales and marketing to ensure market feedback is systematically incorporated into future iterations of product marketing and corporate positioning.

Retention

Conventional wisdom says it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Therefore, some emphasis should always be placed on cost-effectively generating new opportunities from existing clients and sales management should undertake a periodic customer retention analysis to determine the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer.

In Measuring ROI from B2B Marketing: Part II, I will take a closer look at the differences between different B2B marketing tactics and how each can be measured for their relative effectiveness.

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Categories: Brand Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Automation, Online Marketing



I’ve been thinking a lot about cause marketing lately, and based on her recent IMPACT post had fully expected Arianna Huffington to touch on the subject during her keynote address at ad:tech San Francisco. What I didn’t anticipate was to hear so much passion and such a commitment to connecting journalism and online advertising to a higher calling for humanity. 

In an inspiring speech that quoted great poets and thinkers, both dead and alive, Ms. Huffington plainly laid out the case for embracing cause marketing, capitalizing on the power of local media and reminding us all of the importance of disconnecting for our own health and productivity.

Just as Shakespeare kept to the formal constraints of the sonnet, she suggested that today we must find ways to use the tools of social media to tap humanity and the noblest part of ourselves. Echoing Guy Kawasaki’s talk the day prior about moving from engagement to enchantment, she encouraged us not to dwell on those things that are disfunctional and suboptimal in our world, but to focus on the what is being born all around us today that allows us to connect at a deeper level than ever before.

As an example of cause marketing, she cited the Chivas Regal “Live with Chivalry” campaign where the value of nobility is used to sell whisky. If marketing and advertising is a leading indicator of what’s happening in our culture, we need to identify its meaning and tap into this large and profound trend.  We are moving to an era when doing good is not just good for humanity, but also good for the bottom line — where it doesn’t just affect our business, it affects our lives.

Expressing disappointment in the mainstream media, she spoke of how they have let us down by not focusing on solutions and placing too much emphasis on what is not working rather than so many things that are. Whereas mainstream media suffers from ADD by only covering a story for a brief time before abandoning it, in digital we have OCD and the ability to cover stories obsessively until there is a solution.

This is made even more powerful when we engage our communities at a local level. Local, she said, will bring together communities at a time when the media is increasingly more disconnected than ever from our lives. All human existence is local, and that’s where people trust what’s going on around them and feel empowered to get things done.

Taking pride in quoting will.i.am and Shakespeare in the same speech, she referenced a comment he made about how in “the olden days” we consumed news on a couch — today we consume it on a galloping horse. Reinforcing this idea at the local level, she spoke about plans to replicate a popular Greatest Person of the Day feature on the Huffington Post by creating the Greatest Person of the week throughout Patch sites in more then 800 cities. We are longing to connect with each other as human beings at the same time there is a greater explosion of everything life, and that’s why AOL is betting on local.

Finally, she spoke about the need to disconnect from our hyperconnected existence and to unplug and recharge. We can start by simply getting enough sleep and cited “overwhelming medical evidence” about how essential it is for our health and our creativity — likely a tough concept for the always-connected ad:tech crowd.

In closing she cited third century Greek philosopher Plotinus and his teaching about knowledge, wisdom and creativity. And knowledge has three degrees: opinion, science and illumination. The Internet has addressed opinion and science, but not illumination. Many of the leaders running our government, media and financial institutions have very high IQs and access to all of the data and information in the world. What they are missing is illumination, which is ultimately about wisdom.

“My crystal ball sees more explosive wonder, combustible energy to more truth, transparency wisdom, enchantment…and much more digital advertising!”

The entire speech is available online here:

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Categories: Advertising, Cause Marketing, Community, Conferences, Integrated Marketing, Internet, Philanthropy, Social Media



varietyVariety’s Hollywood Creative Masters SuperSession at CES featured five top producers sharing insights on how they are embracing digital platforms to engage consumer audiences and build fan bases for their TV shows and movies. While the methods and reasons for using social media vary from movies to television, and whether content is live or scripted, there was a clear consensus about its value for both engaging existing audiences and mobilizing new ones. 

Here are a few of my key takeaways from the session:

1) Embrace the Digital Natives

Tailor your social strategy to the audience you want to reach. Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of The Walking Dead, referred to herself and the panelists as “digital immigrants,” whereas the social audience is comprised mainly of “digital natives.” By embracing the audience in the language they speak and thinking of story telling in a more three-dimensional way, audiences will engage the franchise wholly too.

Ms. Hurd went on to explain how the primary use of social for The Walking Dead had the advantage of tapping into an existing audience of online fans of the popular Robert Kirman comic series. Whereas Conrad Green, executive producer of Dancing with the Stars, called social media important, but not a major marketing driver since his audience is primarily 50+. Instead, referring to DWTS as a temporal experience, social is used more effectively as a trigger to spark dialogue among younger audiences around controversial contestants like Bristol Palin.

2) Tailor Digital Media Assets to the Experience

One way to make entertainment franchises less temporal is to extend them across media and over time. Tim Kring, executive producer of Heroes and creator of Conspiracy for Good, encouraged embracing fans across multiple digital points of entry, citing that 73 percent of viewers are also on a connected device while watching television. Green elaborated with an example of a contest they are working on that will allow viewers to predict how the judges will vote and to win prizes accordingly. He also pointed out the unrealized potential of how audiences can have more involvement through more innovative use of mobile devices, especially live streaming from audiences’ cameras.

3) Involve the Audience in the Story

Audiences are no longer just consumers of content, they are also creators and promoters of entertainment media. By providing tools and assets for the community to use and interact with, there becomes the opportunity to create more audience engagement.  Bonnie Arnold, producer of How to Train Your Dragon, also spoke of the need for continuity between releases, and in her case spoke of the nine books, a DVD release a Cartoon Network deal and a Christmas television special as ways to keep audiences sated until the sequel in 2013.

Mr. Kring spoke of extending the mythology beyond the core television or movie asset by allowing the story to take on a life of its own online and elsewhere. For example, the back-story about a sword seen on the show could only be found on the packaging of a retail product. By doing things like this, the story ran so deep that the producers had to refer to the fan wiki in order to learn whether one of their own characters was still alive!

4) Keep it Authentic

As with all social media endeavors, having authenticity with audiences is paramount. Advertising and sponsorship are critical, but they can also be a program’s biggest threat when engaging consumers. By involving the creators and allowing them to vet everything used for marketing, promotion and authenticity don’t have to be an oxymoron. 

5) Rely on Instinct

From the real-time nature of feedback from Twitter to television rating reports, the poential exists to react too soon to the whims of an audience. After all,  as Ms. Hurd stated, the audience isn’t supposed to “like” the villans. Whether it’s in real-time or not, the audience will provide feedback, and often it mirrors the opinions of the producers had in the first place. Both Kring and Jeff Ross, executive poducer of Conan, cited the symbiotic relationship with audiences, but also the need for producers to rely on their instinct when it comes to programming according to what audiences want.

6) Protect (and yes, promote) Your Assets

Not entirely off-topic, but certainly top of mind was the issue of piracy. While Kring suggested even those who pirate movies could be your biggest fans, and therefor advocates for viral promotion, others held a more protective view. Ms. Hurd spoke of the need to make a good first impression with audiences, citing an unauthorized leak of a trailer that could have been interpreted as the movie having technical flaws when really it was just an early view of the technology. More to the point of piracy, she called for an industry campaign to show consumers how piracy could prevent the creation of quality content and gave an example of how a unified release of properties globally could reduce the need for international audiences to steal content the would otherwise have paid for.

7) Create a Great Product

Perhaps it goes without saying, but when you take a point of view, tailor content to the desires of your audience and produce a high quality product, social media, and more importantly box office and ratings, success is sure to follow.

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Categories: Entertainment, Film, Social Media, Television



img-featuredCongratulations to Michael Terpin and the Social Radius team for their successful Startup Debut event to kick off CES in Las Vegas. Several influential technology journalists made their way to the House of Blues Foundation Room atop the Mandalay Bay Casino Tuesday night, where they were given an intimate look at some of the hot new media, entertainment, games and mobile companies making the rounds here this week. The full list of participating companies exhibiting at Startup Debut can be found here, but following are a few higlights from my conversations throughout the evening.

  • WOWee ONE - This compact portable speaker unit uses a standard speaker to deliver mid-high frequencies and a Gel Audio™ driver that turns any flat surface into a subwoofer with impressive low end bass frequencies. At a reasonable $79.99 price point and featuring a rechargable 20-hour battery it’s arguably among the best speakers in its category, but by far the best part of this demo was watching my old pal Spence Bovee enthusiastically pitch the product.
  • yap.TV - Billed by co-founder Shawn Cunningham as the first vertical social network for television fans, yap.TV is a personalized TV show guide app for the iPad with an elegant interface for interacting with friends fans in real-time while watching your favorite shows. My favorite features are integration with Twitter and Facebook, automatic check-in to see what friends are watching and real-time private group chat.
  • NTB Media - The A Game is a video-based pop culture trivia game using music videos, movie trailers to entertain users while delivering brands higher levels of engagement across social media networks, third party sites, in-stream video adverstising and mobile.
  • YouMail - Visual voicemail service YouMail showcased its free Android Visual Voicemail Plus application that allows users to share voicemail not only through e-mail or text messages but also by posting them directly to Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Omek - This softwared development enviornment allows developers to create gesture-recognition experiences with any depth sensor on any hardware platform. Think Kinect for the PC. The bigger news is that legendary game industry executive Jonathan Epstein has been named President and CRO.
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Categories: Blogging, Entertainment, Games, Mobile, Social Media, Technology


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    Welcome to Winders on the Web, the online home for my commentary on all things media and marketing, especially those related to my expertise in digital marketing, advertising and communication in the media, marketing and technology industries.
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