Content Marketing

Embracing The Marketing Automation Love Triangle Data Loves Content, But Needs Process As A Chaperone

by Rich Wilson on November 18, 2015 , No comments

Data Loves Content.
So much, in fact, that the progeny of data driven content is enhanced data, more data – data that is often cost prohibitive to generate through traditional research. It’s time for marketers to recognize the fact that nurture marketing has become an established and immutable best practice. Email scoring and automation has been around for a decade and has fully exited the experimental stage. It makes no difference if your market requires a longer-term B2B nurture or a real-time B2C strategy with a shorter cycle. You need to earn the right to take people’s money by being helpful first.

Data Can Do Nothing On Its Own.
It’s the conclusion of an activity. Data loves content because content is the extrovert in the relationship. Without content, data starts to get a little thin. But without data, content is adrift, lonely and often ignored. Data gives content meaning, a reason to exist. It’s a mutual relationship unique to the world of marketing.

More Content Means More Data.
Marketers must become accustomed to the fact that the goal of some forms of content should be simply to produce data. However, this is a difficult position to take when your career lives and dies by the quarterly report. Now, here’s where things can get a little messy. Unless you anticipate the operational needs of a constantly evolving content and data program, your ability to create data is likely to outpace your ability to create content to the same degree of specificity. In other words, data and content love each other so much, they start to get out of control.

That’s Where Process Comes in.
It’s time to put a game plan together. Data points birthed by content-driven campaigns have the potential for immense value. They are also, much like children, more difficult to manage the more you have. That’s why before you get started you need to ask yourself two very important questions:

1. What do we do with the new data once it’s created so that it can continue to add value?
2. What internal or external resources will be need to create an ongoing engine of iterative content creation? When that’s done you can then start to think about putting together a data strategy.

To get more information on implementing a successful data strategy read our newest eBook, “Embracing The Marketing Automation Love Triangle”

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Common Myths About Marketing Automation You Need To Stop Repeating

by Rich Wilson on November 16, 2015 , No comments

Content Should Be Written From The Heart. Wrong.
Too often, content is born the bastard child of the C-level knee jerk or belched “from the gut” of a bad Don Draper wannabe working at a creative agency with Ritalin in the vending machines. Many marketers still don’t know what types of content to create in order to properly nurture customers – so they just start writing junk. Most organizations simply don’t take the time to gather audience insights needed to drive hyper-relevant content.
True marketing automation requires the types of nano insights that help a customer make better decisions when researching a cloud computing solution or looking to address concerns about a brand’s return policy. Don’t write from the heart, write from a well-informed brief!

A 30% Open Rate Is A Sign You’ve Connected With Customers. Not Really.
Relying on “click rates” or “opens” to qualify leads does not effectively capture customer engagement. Traditionally, we’ve been all too happy to back-slap each other if a display ad cracks a 2% click rate or when only 30% of our audience opens an email. Marketers have ignored the fact that the flip-side of these percentages indicate that messages have been alienating the vast majority of customers for a long time. A 30% open rate may show that you’re doing better than most, but it still means 70% of your audience didn’t find the mailing relevant enough to open it.

Big Data Reveals All About The Customer. Not For Most.
We are a population of data creating and data wasting machines. Since the first email was sent in 1971 and the first web domain was established in 1985, respectively, we have wasted infinite opportunities to learn about customers. Think about it, for nearly 30 years customers have been generating and broadcasting behavioral and demographic data about themselves in ever increasing volumes through clicks. Sadly, most of this data never got the chance to grow up and become a real customer insight. Too many IBM Silverpop customers we see don’t have web tracking enabled. Most organizations are missing the opportunity to build a data foundation that can even accept new behavioral data – much less use behavioral insights to reveal demographic profiles. Imagine how many insights you could gather if you simply turned on all the features of the software you’ve already paid for!

We’re Doing Predictive Marketing. No You’re Not. In order to be truly “predictive,” you must:

  • Be able to see the past.
  • You must look backwards at a contact’s profile data. This is the information that may already exist in your database. However, chances are the data is incomplete or lives in different places.
  • Be able to see the present. You must have the ability to set up and test scenarios or observe activities in real time. What’s more, these activities must be tracked and put into proper perspective. Remember that data is useless without context.
  • Take a reasonable stab at the future…
  • You must have enough data connected to a customer profile to model likely scenarios of what realistically may happen next. And finally, all this data must live in an environment where is can be augmented, molded in real-time by a variety of complimentary tools and become fuel for instantaneous action through your marketing automation engine.

Marketing Technology Is Changing Faster Than I Can Keep Up. No Way.
Marketers can and should take advantage of the fact that behavioral marketing automation platforms, relational databases and behavioral scoring engines are finally accessible, often through a single platform. We prefer IBM Silverpop because of the robust scoring engine and because you aren’t limited by a CRM connection to run complex queries, but there’s a solution out there for everyone (over 215, in fact).

It’s actually getting easier to use mountains of data to become more relevant – even without the use of an army of data scientists. In fact, the number of people and the depth of expertise needed to collect, tie together and derive actionable insights from data has decreased significantly over the years and current trends show an even steeper decline as more and more marketing jobs merge with one another to become “new” jobs.

Interested in more marketing automation truth? See how marketing data adores content but needs process as a chaperone in our newest eBook, “Embracing The Marketing Automation Love Triangle”

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4 Do’s of Marketing Automation (Communication is Everything)

by Rich Wilson on November 3, 2015 , No comments

The key to a great relationship is good communication, right? Well, it’s time to recognize that the relationship between companies and customers requires the same level of respect and effort as a valuable interpersonal relationship. Let’s look at four ways to put this into action.

Understand The Hidden Sales Cycle

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in implementing marketing automation is to rely too heavily on the sales team for input. We’ve all seen the stats that say 80% of the purchase decision has been made by the time a customer is talking to a sales person. This means there have likely been multiple touch points where you and your sales team weren’t part of the conversation. Before you can map a plan for marketing automation that touches every phase of the buying cycle, you have to know what those stages are. Buyer’s Journey Mapping is a discipline that has rapidly evolved over the past few years, but you can take a few steps to scratch the surface fairly quickly. Take a second look at SEO keywords to see how many people enter the site using words that might signify an early stage buyer versus a late stage buyer.

For example: If I’m looking to buy new project management software but am just getting started, I might use the term “Enterprise Project Management Software” to see what pops up. However, if I’m later in the buying process I might search for “Microsoft Project versus Oracle Primavera review.” Reviewing the key terms bringing folks to your site can reveal a lot.

Next, ask some critical questions about what you do know and put together a workflow diagram. Are you calculating how many people you have at each stage of the buying cycle? How can you help push leads into direct sales? Where are people stuck? Creating a graphic detailing where your potential customers are in the buying stage will not only inform what you need to do with marketing automation but it will get your whole team on board too.

Browse your internal documents for Buyer’s Journey insights (e.g. Transactional Sales Data, Key Leaders for mind-mapping, Customers That Might Share Insights Freely).

Become A Publisher

If you’re serious about marketing automation, you’re going to produce a lot more content – a lot. Welcome campaigns, bait content, engaging videos, helpful walk-through content…all of it is critical to building and keeping engagement through key points of your buying process. Your goal is to educate and be helpful with content so you can earn the right to sell something. It’s a big shift in mindset for a lot of companies.

Think about what content do you have? What content are you missing? What content can you re-purpose? Go back to your Buyer’s Journey map and create a workflow that clearly maps Customer Journey paths,reveals Hidden Cycles and see what content you have that can address customer questions at each stage – and what you’re missing to create a positive customer experience.

Segment Iteratively

Personas are important, but only because you don’t understand the needs of the individuals in your contact list. Every campaign should be designed not only to move individuals through the buying process, but to gather helpful information. When you send an email to a segment of 100,000 contacts, expect the behavioral observations and new data inputs to result in a few new sub-segments. Look at those who gobble up all the information you put out. Separate the non-responsive contacts and set up a split test with new content. See where contacts go on your site after you email them and see if any patterns emerge.

Your customers and prospects are dripping with information that can be used to sub-segment into increasingly smaller audiences with exponentially more relevant messaging. The problem is, most people either don’t have the appropriate tracking codes in place or haven’t made contact data augmentation a key goal of new automated campaigns. It’s a missed opportunity.

Be Realistic About The Costs

One myth about automation is that it is cheap. But the truth is it’s an investment that pays off. Implementing marketing automation in a typical organization with a mature email marketing program tends to be more costly in the short term run but that’s only because it’s extremely profitable in the long term run. It’s important to note that your marketing automation implementation plan will require more than putting your existing email marketers on new software – it’s a whole new system. This system can and should affect (and augment) other existing systems like CRM, sales processes, analytics and content production.

 What do you want your marketing automation to do? Be specific. Generate a 15 percent increase in acquiring leads, increase sales over the next two years by 20 percent?

Your people will be affected. Is there a team augmentation plan in place? Do you have someone on your team who is certified and well-versed in the IBM Silverpop language? Or will your team need training in everything IBM Silverpop to get you up to speed on how to run the machine? Deploying 1-2 people as the conductor of Silverpop will make it easier to deploy marketing campaigns at lightening fast speed, but it would be great if the whole team was made aware of the basics. Either way, be sure to budget for new people, training or even an agency partner to get you going.

Big Scary Cranium is an “Agency Of The Year” for IBM Silverpop and winner of the “Best Use Of Marketing Automation” award. For advice on how to advance your marketing automation regimen, give us a shout. Or, for more thoughts on successful marketing automation, see how Data, Process and Content are critical to marketing automation success.

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(Video) IBM Silverpop Interviews Big Scary Cranium Founder About Best Practices

by Rich Wilson on November 3, 2015 , No comments

(Video) IBM Silverpop Interviews Big Scary Cranium Founder and Customer Experience Officer About Best Practices

At last year’s Amplify conference, the good folks at IBM Silverpop asked our Creative and Strategy Director, Rich Wilson, to share a few thoughts on how Silverpop helps us help clients with smart email marketing, marketing automation and overall customer experience marketing. Our staff has so far resisted the temptation to re-edit the video with screaming goats, images of Vladimir Putin, shirtless and dancing sharks…so far. Click the link below to see the video:

Rich Wilson, Strategy & Creative Director, Big Scary Cranium

In the interview, Rich highlights how brands should use marketing automation to tell an incremental story and build rapport – not just “batch and blast” as all too many brands are accustomed to doing.

Other key points about IBM Silverpop Rich highlights:

  • Scoring models are key to relevant messaging
  • Iterative segmentation allows brands to address multiple points of the buying cycle
  • Marketing Automation is inseparable from content marketing – the two strategies should be crafted in unison
  • Timing is everything – use all the tools available in IBM Silverpop to send the right message at the right time

If you’re an IBM Silverpop customer looking for help implementing better marketing automation strategies or more efficient deployment, find out how to Step-Up campaign performance.


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Content Marketing and Automation: Wonder Twin Powers Activate

by Rich Wilson on June 18, 2014 , No comments
Content may be some sort of royalty, be it King, Viceroy, Czar or Whatever…but it’s often treated like a serf. It’s amazing how many highly produced videos sit idly on a website’s interior page or the sheer number of white papers laying around on “resource databases” waiting to be emailed to prospective customers at the sales guy’s whim. Content can only be a King if it has loyal subjects – people who love their king and do as he says.
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