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Measure Value, Not Activity

30 Aug

Are You Measuring the Right Results?
Business People Meeting Growth Success Target Economic Concept

Open rates, click through rates (CTRs), and conversions are just a few of the metrics most B2B marketers tend to use when determining the results of their work. But are those really the best metrics for determining success?

According to new data from Forrester, not necessarily. More and more B2B marketers are now struggling to tie these results to revenue. The truth is that while the metrics described above do a good job in a vacuum of helping marketers determine whether their marketing is working, they don’t necessarily shed light on whether or not the marketing efforts are generating real dollars for the business as a whole.

Increasingly, it’s not just CMOs who are looking at marketing results, it’s the CEOs. They want to see a direct correlation between marketing spend and sales generation. If the numbers don’t work out, then the marketing department or creative agency might not work out either.

Despite the demand for revenue-based results looming above them, B2B marketers are still struggling to deliver these types of results. So what is complicating their efforts? According to the article, there are several main challenges:

  •  Internal data is difficult to collect, connect, and analyze given the silos that exist in many workplaces.
  • Too much data! Marketers have access to more than ever before, and sometimes it is difficult to cut through the clutter.
  • Marketers aren’t always “numbers people.” Think of the best ones you know—they’re usually creative types who may not have developed the analytical skills necessary to excel—no pun intended.
    Marketing is a subjective field, but by looking at the right numbers and presenting them to the right people, B2B marketers can convert numbers into usable information that can drive real results for the business. (For some fabulous tips about presenting results to others, read this blog by an account service professional at ER Marketing, Matt Bartlett.)

Testing subject lines and measuring open rates and CTRs is great, but only insofar as it improves your approach to your marketing goals. If it helps you fine tune your approach, all the better. To prove your worth as a B2B marketer, you need to start measuring the value of what you do, not just the activity.

To read the full article about the Forrester findings, click here.

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Separating Media Usage Fact from Fiction

8 Jun

New Media Usage Surveys Provide Insights into the State of Marketing

dma-response-rate-report-2015

With all the marketing-related tips, tricks, and think pieces floating around the internet, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Whether it’s in the realm of B2B, B2C, content marketing, or any other subset of marketing, you’re bound to find a few hot takes out there claiming everything from “direct mail is dead” to “email is passé” to “data trumps creative.” Most of these opinions are meant to push people in the direction of digital-only marketing strategies.

Maybe some of those opinions are true, and maybe some of them aren’t. The point is that trying to find the truth in an ever-changing industry like marketing can be difficult, especially with so many voices and thought leaders speculating about it. We all want to be the edgiest and latest to adopt new trends, and sometimes that pushes us to take edgier stances on what’s next for marketing.

I recently read through some stats on different marketing communication tactics, and as it turns out, the truth might lie somewhere in the middle of all the rhetoric. (Shocking, isn’t it?) Here are a few of the findings that stood out:

Fact or Faction: “Direct mail is dead.”

Fiction. Direct mail is alive and well. In fact, 69% of marketers are actually holding their direct mail budgets steady or increasing them. (Source: Target Marketing’s 2016 Media Usage Survey)

Fact or Faction: “Print is dead.”

Fiction. Marketers spend 28.5% of their marketing budget on print and direct mail related campaigns. 8 out of 10 American adults said they prefer to read a printed piece than an online piece. (Source: Target Marketing’s 2016 Media Usage Survey)

Fact or Faction: “Digital marketing is more cost-efficient than direct mail.”

Fiction. Here are some numbers about the cost-per-acquisition for various media categories: (Source: DMA’s 2015 Response Report)

  • Direct Mail: $19
  • Paid Search: $21-30
  • Internet Display Ads: $41-50
  • Email: $11-15

So what’s the takeaway? Simply put, marketers need to temper some of their more bombastic predictions about the future of marketing. Moving forward doesn’t mean abandoning the tactics that have worked well for years; it means combining those tactics with smarter, more insightful approaches that integrate the old with the new.

For example, a strong data approach will empower “outdated” tactics like direct mail and print to drive success. But neither an all digital nor an all traditional approach is likely to be the answer—smart marketers need a blend of the two.

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3 Reasons to Renovate Your Website (And 3 Sites That Are Getting It Right)

18 May

An Outdated Website May Have Bigger Consequences Than You Think

web design

ChrisGuest Contributor:
Chris McCutcheon, Interactive Manager

Websites. We see and interact with them every day, and it seems there is one for just about everything. As an interactive manager at ER Marketing, I’ve seen it all when it comes to websites—the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly.

Not too long ago I had someone ask me to look at their website. I pulled it up on my phone and nothing showed up. Thinking it was a little strange, I waited until I got home and found it on my iPad. Still nothing. I knew then that something was definitely going on with this site. She said it was new, so why wouldn’t it come up? Turned out the entire site had been done in Flash, which I discovered after I pulled it up on my laptop. She was extremely disappointed and had no idea the person she hired to do her website built it using old technology.

So, ask yourself a few questions about your own website. Does it look good on mobile? Is the site built in Flash? Still using clipart from 1999? Still relying on misguided keyword stuffing? Is it supporting your brand? Unless it’s been updated recently, it might be time to rethink your website.

Here are 3 reasons why it may be time to renovate your website:

1. It’s not mobile friendly.

  • Two-thirds (64%) of adults own a smartphone, which means if your site doesn’t render properly, or delivers a bad user experience, potential customers may go elsewhere.
  • Google will ding you. They announced last year that sites will be penalized in the rankings if they aren’t mobile friendly. According to research by online ad network Chitika, Google page one results enjoy a whopping 95% of all search traffic, while 91% of searchers never reach page two.

2. Unknown security vulnerabilities.

  • Security flaws affecting an older website are much more likely, as these sites rely on older technology.
  • Even if you might not have confidential information you are worried about being stolen, there are other reasons you should be concerned, like letting unfiltered data insert into your database. This can cause a high risk of SQL Injection, which leads to your site being hacked—and unwanted links being injected into your site.
  • If you use any kind of third-party software—meaning your IT department didn’t code it—you must make sure it is always up-to-date. Any outdated software with security flaws can cause your site to be at risk.

3. High page abandonment rate.

  • Many older sites take forever to load. Sure, you may love the large images and the huge slideshow, but it’s probably making your site lag. 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. [1] Google values the length of time someone stays on your page, so if your website has a high abandonment rate, your SEO will be negatively impacted as Google puts delivering the best and most relevant content to users first and foremost above all else.
  • Poor navigation. If the user doesn’t know what to do or where to go, you are missing out simply because there isn’t any clear direction for the user.
  • Many websites fail to deliver a clear sense of what the company offers. Unless you are a well-known brand, you need to let people know who you are and what you can offer them in a way they can understand and easily access.

Here are a few sites in the building products industry to inspire you and get you thinking about your own site:

Blu Homes

  • Site is responsive and mobile friendly
  • Good user experience
  • Nice, easy to navigate design

Royal Building Products

  • Loads fairly quickly, even with a full screen slider
  • Offers a clear sense of who the company is and what they offer
  • Displays well on mobile devices

Guardian Building Products

  • Utilizes a card-style layout for chunks of content
  • Mobile friendly
  • Easy to navigate

[1] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/

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Lead Attribution & the Customer Journey (Part 1)

2 May

Use the Data Available to You to See the Whole Picture

Lead Generation

CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

Lead attribution and the customer journey. Yes, these are two of the most commonly used buzzwords in digital marketing right now. This is not a lazy blog post to latch onto what others are saying and to give you a fluffy, rosy version of how you should be considering both the customer journey and lead attribution to make your digital marketing drive results 10x over what you got last year. This blog is to make sure we’re all on the same page and using the data available to us to help make these topics attainable and realistic before we get too “pie in the sky” with our conceptual thinking.

But first, we must answer this question: what is lead attribution? Lead attribution is the practice of giving credit to the source who provided the lead. For example, if you are running a PPC campaign in Google AdWords and that person comes to a landing page on our site and completes the form, then they are a conversion—consequently, that lead gets attributed to PPC via AdWords.

This example sounds like typical and solid tracking; however, it could also be short-sighted when we’re talking about “last-click attribution.” By counting this lead as a lead specifically for AdWords PPC, we’re potentially not considering the other potential ways the user might have found us—and the other ways they interacted with our content before coming back. In this case, PPC is getting the credit.

The customer journey can be defined as the process a user takes to go from their initial step in researching, all the way to the point of conversion. If we’re using the Google AdWords PPC landing page form completion example noted above, then we’re also talking about how that same individual (yes, they’re a person, despite all of our “persona talk” about site visitors and users) ultimately decides to fill out a form, which is recorded as a conversion.

The challenge in all of this is that we don’t often work to connect the dots to attribute a lead to all the channels that had a role in the conversion— not just the one that received the last click. It can be tricky as it often isn’t linear or very trackable; however, that doesn’t let us off the hook. We have some data at our fingertips that helps us start the process of working toward building a system. If you have Google Analytics, then you have a tool that has two reports you should start looking at as your first step.

The first report in Google Analytics to get familiar with is the Multi-Channel Funnels Overview under the Conversions section. If you have conversion goals set up in your account, then you’ll have data in this report by default.

You can use the checkboxes to update the Venn diagram to mix and match, so you can understand how the different channels were involved in user journeys that ultimately led to a conversion. You can also see how many total assisted conversions there were.

The second report to take a look at is the Assisted Conversions report (also under the Conversions section in Google Analytics).

There’s a lot more you can do in this report. At a basic level, it shows a breakdown of assisted conversions, which are channels that were part of a user journey but didn’t get the last click or direct conversion at the end of the journey. If you have values set for your conversion goals or have eCommerce tracking on in Google Analytics then you also can see dollar values for each channel, which can be incredibly helpful in measuring the cost of your efforts against revenue generated. You can customize the data in this report by changing the number of days in the window prior to conversion as well as look at the value of first interaction versus last click.

Bonus: If you want to take another step and get into more advanced territory, take a look at the Attribution Model Comparison report in Google Analytics. There are some fun ways to compare models and see how the data and your perspective on conversions might change. We’ll get into this and go deeper with the next post in this series.

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7 Tips for Effectively Communicating Marketing Results

19 Jan

Results

How You Share Your Results Is Just As Important As the Results Themselves

MattBartlett

Guest Contributor:
Matt Bartlett, Account Manager

A couple of years ago, I was tasked with presenting campaign results to a few C-Suite level contacts by one of my clients. I was extremely excited and wanted to give the best and most detailed presentation they’d ever seen. I included every number I could find. I included every detail offered by the tracking solutions we were using. And then, about halfway through my presentation, everyone in the room was reading email on their phones. I was crushed. How could they not care? What I’ve learned is that I wasted a lot of my time and theirs with that presentation…

We’ve written before about the importance of reporting and analytics when it comes to your marketing tactics. You won’t find many successful marketers arguing that results aren’t important. But the fact is, if you can’t communicate results effectively, you are wasting everyone’s time and money—particularly in the building industry, which has high expectations for ROI.

Your Client Is Not Your Only Audience

There are two audiences to consider when communicating marketing results. The first is obvious: the client (or, if you’re a marketer who works on the corporate side, it may be another department or a member of the executive team).

The second, and one that is often overlooked, is your internal team—the people that actually did the work. It’s just as important for them to regularly hear results (even throughout the campaign) so they know what works and what doesn’t for future projects, or so they can course correct in real-time if performance isn’t meeting expectations.

When Delivering Results, Speak Their Language

Below are some of my tips to make sure both audiences actually understand the results you prepare for them:

1. Include a Summary: And make sure to use common language when you do it. Remember that not everyone is a marketing geek like the rest of us, so dumb down the language and minimize the jargon. Raw stats are great and should be included, but don’t forget to provide a high-level summary for easy, at-a-glance consumption.

2. Focus on the Right Metrics: Does bounce rate matter? What about click-to-open-rate (CTOR)? Does your client care about impressions? All metrics are important in one way or another, but decide early on in the process which metrics tie directly back to the stated goals and only report on those. The rest will only confuse and distract from the point.

3. Define Your Metrics: Not only do you need to worry about which metrics to present, but you also need to make sure that your audience understands what they are. Consider utilizing a standard block of definitions for each of the words that you include in the summary. Make sure the definitions explain not only how the metrics work, but why they matter. Bonus points if you can alter each definition slightly to make it hyper-relevant to the goals of the project.

4. Make It Visual: Different people consume information differently. In addition to the summary and actual stats, consider how you can convert the data into easily digestible graphics. Maybe it’s as simple as creating a bar or line graph, but maybe some information could best be communicated as an infographic. In the case of the latter, you might involve your design team in creating a simple graphic to lend greater clarity to results. Could go a long way in helping all audiences understand.

5. Tie It to the Bottom Line: This can be difficult based on what financial information the client is willing to share, but the best performance reports include ROI and show how the marketing activity in question impacted the client’s bottom line. Understand your client’s overall business, not just their marketing. Your job doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

6. Share It Internally: All departments have skin in the game here. Employees often don’t understand marketing or how it impacts what they do. Make it matter by sharing performance.

7. Time Is of the Essence: In today’s world, waiting two months to report on metrics is pointless. Share performance during and immediately after the campaign. Better yet: if possible, give the client access to real-time metrics so they can monitor progress on their own time.

ROI is only good if everyone involved understands it—your team, your client(s), and the people your client reports to. All too often, you see marketers download a last-minute Excel spreadsheet or print out a screenshot from Google Analytics. But “lost in translation” is unacceptable when it comes to results. As marketers, the core of our work is about clarifying products and services through smart, focused, creative work; why wouldn’t we get just as creative to simplify and clarify those results so we can do even better work in the future?

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