Rule 2: Give Your Marketing Team Final Say Over Their Tools
Welcome back to MarTech2020: 5 Rules for Managing Your Technology and Strategy series! So far, we’ve taken a look at today’s marketing technology stack and the average MarTech used by companies annually. In this blog we’ll be taking a look at “Rule 2: Give the Marketing Team Final Say Over Their Tools”.
Think of the MarTech stack as an extension of the marketing team. The team can only operate efficiently if its stack is built to be efficient in the first place. We asked how many MarTech tools our respondents used each month, and the answers closely mirror the number of tools in their technology stacks (Figure 5). This shows disciplined investment in only the tools the marketing team really needs.
Efficient marketers are not wasting time and money to chase the latest technology; they’re building tech stacks to do exactly what they need to do in the way they need to do it. They recognize that there’s just not room for technologies they aren’t regularly using.
You can’t build that kind of marketing machine if another department is selecting the parts. When asked which departments are responsible for procurement and oversight of marketing technology, the most common responses were the marketing department and marketing operations teams (Figure 6).
The IT department (which sometimes controls a company’s entire technology investment) comes in as only the third most influential party and has a say in only 35% of the MarTech decisions. Keep in mind that this chart asked respondents to select all the departments that play a role, so IT only has a say in 35% of cases, which doesn’t mean its say outweighs the marketing department in any of those.
While it’s important to exercise discipline in building your tech stack, it’s equally important to know how to manage the tools you put into it. Marketers are not only building their own tech stacks but managing them as well. Taking on this responsibility is essential to your success as a marketing leader in 2020, providing yet another reason to keep your tech stack at a manageable size.
Rule 1: Keep Your Tech Stack Clean
Welcome back to MarTech 2020: 5 Rules for Managing Your Technology and Strategy. In part one of our series, we saw that the average marketing technology stack may actually be smaller than we might think. In fact, 90% of the marketers we surveyed use fewer than 10 MarTech tools, while most use fewer than five (Figure 1), and two-thirds of our respondents spend less than $100,000 a year on marketing tech (Figure 2).
Comparing annual spending on MarTech with annual marketing budgets (Figure 3), we see that on average, companies spend more on the marketing than the technologies supporting it.
Marketing is still a mostly strategic department. In-house marketing staffs run small, with 80% of companies reporting their in-house marketing departments are no more than 10 people. For two-thirds of respondents, the marketing department is fewer than six people (Figure 4).
Marketing staffs run lean because, for many companies, partners handle a lot of the work. The inhouse team sets strategy and may handle email, social media and a few other channels that closely align with its core mission. But in many cases, a large portion of outbound communication — both digital and print — is handled by specialized agencies, printers or omnichannel marketing companies.
This means that marketers can streamline their MarTech stacks to a few important strategic hubs like marketing clouds and marketing automation systems, freeing up time for the in-house team to focus on how you’re going to reach your brand goals.
Every tool in your tech stack costs money, but it also costs time to install, customize, adjust and learn. The time investment is often a bigger cost factor than the dollar investment. Acquire the tools you need for the channels you use while focusing on building a tech stack that is both efficient and effective.
Check back next week for Rule 2, “Give the Marketing Team Final Say Over their Tools” or click here to read the full report now. And, if you’re ready to see how we can help you strategize your MarTech stack, contact us today.
A Brief Introduction
Marketing technology has done nothing but expand for the past decade. Now in 2020, Chief MarTech’s annual Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic lists more than 7,000 tools across 24 different categories. That is a staggering number of options that has as much potential to overwhelm the people using it as empower them.
When is enough, enough? Where is the line between building a tech stack that enables your team to do great marketing and throwing a bunch of shiny things on top of each other until they just get in the way of clear strategy and effective multichannel marketing?
How do you integrate offline and online marketing to engage customers in the real world when much of the tech stack is focused only on digital marketing?
Those are the questions we wanted to answer in our MarTech 2020 survey (click here to see the full results). In the responses, we found a real marketing landscape that makes a lot more sense than the out-of-control MarTech super graphics we’ve all seen.
It turns out that most marketers value focus and efficiency in their technology stacks. Rather than building leaning towers of digital interdependency, the marketers who responded to this survey are opting for efficient, focused marketing tech stacks that enable them to market better not just online, but offline as well.
Today’s Marketing Tech Stack
Despite an explosion of new technologies, we found that marketing tech stacks remain small and focused. Marketers are avoiding too many technical investments and are more likely to use stacks that are lean:
1. Most marketers use fewer than five pieces of technology in their tech stacks, and 90% keep it under 10 total tools.
2. Marketers use tools that support multiple channels more than tools that are used for a single channel.
3. The marketing team controls these tools, not the IT department, with 68% of marketing departments responsible for MarTech procurement and oversight.
4. Marketers use the tools in their tech stacks monthly, and very few tools go unused.
5. Most companies use MarTech to support both digital and offline marketing.
The key to an effective marketing technology strategy is keeping your tech stack small, but robust enough to engage customers and prospects both online and offline. Efficient, nimble tech stacks allow marketers to focus on their customers and seamlessly engage them wherever they may be.
Based on this data, we’ve identified five rules that we’ll highlight over the next 6 weeks that marketers can follow to build technology systems that empower marketing departments to operate at peak efficiency, leaving more time for creativity.
A Deep Dive into Data Discovery
Welcome to part 4 of our Account Based Marketing (ABM) series.
So far, we’ve taken a look at the basics of ABM, how to align your sales and marketing teams ahead of your ABM campaign, and how to choose your target accounts.
In this installment, we’ll be taking a deep dive into data discovery — the importance of data to your ABM strategy, how to collect it, and why data hygiene is so crucial.
Let’s get started.
Why Good Data Is So Important
Good data is arguably the most important part of developing your ABM strategy, specifically when choosing your target accounts — it’s a B2B marketer’s best tool to identify the decision-makers ready to buy now.
In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to be discussing how to collect and utilize data from outside sources, but it’s important to note that plenty of data can be gathered internally from team members and existing data in your CRM.
3 Steps to Using Data For Choosing Targets
Step 1: Use Internet Data
One of the best ways to identify a target account is by gathering internet data. By using IP addresses and third-party cookies, we can look into online behaviors, such as search engine queries, repeat website visits and content downloads.
Step 2: Identify Net-New Prospects Through Audience Mirroring
As you begin to research and discover potential target accounts, you’ll begin to notice similarities in the types of businesses that come onto your radar. This can be a valuable research tool in helping you identify trends and patterns to build criteria for likely target accounts, ultimately speeding up your identification process and boosting your results.
Some places you’ll likely notice similarities include:
- Employee Responsibilities
- Employee Roles
Step 3: Researching the Individual
By now, you’ve narrowed down a pool of prospects into a group of true target accounts. Now let’s not blow all your hard work with a sloppy ending — it’s time to bring it home with by researching your point of contact.
Figure out who you need to reach out to. Once you have it ball parked (department, level of seniority, etc.) start looking at who the ideal point of contact might be. Some of the specific details you’re after are:
- Job title
- Decision-making hierarchy
- Account affiliation
- Activity/engagement history
- Skills and proficiencies
- Experience with your category
- Personal information (hobbies, family, likes dislikes)
Identifying Weaknesses and Maintaining Data Hygiene
It’s important to recognize areas where you may have insufficient data. This is a good opportunity to partner with other companies who have access to quality data and work together.
It’s also crucially important not to be cavalier in your choices when it comes to third-party data acquisition — choose your third-party vendors wisely to ensure that data is well-informed and accurate
Moving onto hygiene: once you have data, you need to maintain it. While we all know that good data is important, accudata.com offers these statistics to put the true cost of bad data into perspective:
- Corrupted and inaccurate data costs US businesses approximately 3.1 trillion dollars each year.
- Nearly 40% of all sales/donor leads include some form of corrupted data, making them either difficult to use or simply useless.
- There is a 25% rate of consumer data decay annually, requiring consistent vetting.
The bottom line here: make sure you acquire good data and maintain its integrity through best practices.
ABM is all about specificity, whether that’s in delegating roles, establishing goals, or doing research. An ABM strategy can be intimidating, but the rewards are worth it. Make it easy on yourself by starting with great data.
Looking to broaden your knowledge on Account Based Marketing? Check back next Thursday for our final ABM blog focusing on how to execute your campaign.
Think you’re ready to start your ABM program now? Contact us to see what Strata can do for you.
The ABCs of ABM
One of the best things about our modern MarTech is its ability to fine-tune our marketing strategies to achieve our goals in business.
But where does all this fine-tuning lead to? We’d say the development of Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies.
Let’s talk about our ability to target new accounts through ABM and why it’s the way of the future.
What is ABM?
In short, ABM is essentially a 1-1 marketing/sales strategy for B2B businesses — where traditional marketing is more generalized with who it targets, ABM targets specific businesses via team members.
For instance, where more traditional B2B marketing might target MarTech companies doing $20,000,000+ in sales annually, ABM would find a specific business that met that criteria and market to them, targeting key team members/decision makers.
To put it as simply as possible, ABM is about focusing your marketing and sales teams on specific accounts you wish to do business with, not general demographics.
Remember: As a multichannel approach to marketing, employing ABM as a successful strategy requires a continual, focused effort from all members of your team. This is not a “set it and forget it” methodology. Rather, this is a concerted effort to increase ROI and make the most of your marketing budget.
Why Use ABM
ABM is a more efficient use of your marketing budget. Despite the additional effort required to custom tailor marketing strategies to unique targets, a recent TOPO study suggests that an ABM strategy improves customer lifetime value by 80% and increases win rates by 86% over a more traditional approach.
Additionally, with a better understanding of target accounts, the customer experience is generally better, translating to higher retention rates.
There’s also the added benefit of shorter sales cycles — since this approach to marketing starts you further down the sales cycle, you spend less time testing the waters and waiting for responses.
How to Use ABM
ABM can be broken down into five essential steps: identification, profiling, creation, execution and reflection.
The most crucial point behind an ABM strategy is identifying specific accounts instead of casting a wide net at a generalized demographic. Target account selection is critical, so set your sights on high-value targets who may have a genuine need for your product.
Pull information from wherever you can get it, whether it’s LinkedIn, a company’s blog or even their Twitter feed. Create a profile of who you believe the company to be on a brand level.
This is also the time to find out who the decision makers are. These are the people your team will be reaching out to.
Now that your team has identified and profiled your target accounts, create content that speaks to those target accounts as unique businesses while aligning your marketing materials with what you believe to be their core brand. Be sure to emphasize solutions to what you see as potential pinch points in their business.
This is why it’s so important to have your marketing and sales team on the same page. When you launch your campaign, it’s crucially important that your multichannel approach includes appropriate outreach by the right parties at the right times. Your marketing and sales teams need to be on the same page. Develop agreed upon timelines coinciding with your content and goals.
Once your campaign is over and the dust settles, look back at your goals and see where you landed. What can you learn from the successes and shortcomings when employing an ABM strategy to your campaign? Use these insights to inform your campaign in the future.
How We’ve Used It
At Strata, ABM has been crucial to our marketing approach. We’ve successfully employed this strategy for the last several years, but have had notable recent success using ABM and other adaptive marketing approaches to contact decision makers for large accounts at home during COVID-19.
You can read more about our recent efforts here.
Looking to the Future
ABM is the way of the future, and why wouldn’t it be? As an exceedingly efficient strategy with higher ROI and a shorter sales cycles that leads to more valuable long-term relationships with clients, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the industry standard.
Want to see how we can help you transition to an ABM strategy? Contact us to find out what tools we have available for you to get the ball rolling.
How Human Interface and MarCom Create the Ideal Customer Experience
Whether a business is B2B or B2C, excellent customer experience lies at the core. All activities along the customer journey — from acquisition to retention to referrals – begins and ends with quality customer experience.
So how should your company approach customer service to bring it to the next level?
Troubleshooting the Customer Experience
The most valuable asset to a customer is their time, and identifying where you can save your customers’ time is crucial to a quality customer experience.
In some instances, technological solutions are the most efficient path to a quality customer experience. In others, a direct line to a human agent will save your customer the frustration of dialing through automated systems. There are also times where one approach is a helpful lead into the other.
The key is defining which approach (human, technology-based or both) is ideal for the situation.
Utilizing a Tech Forward Approach
Various MarTech products focus on this – whether it’s gauging customer satisfaction or preferred outreach methods.
Automation, for example, can significantly increase the quality of the customer experience. It allows customers to complete simple tasks quickly and efficiently while also freeing up agents to tackle more complex tasks that demand human interaction. Automated services are reliable, efficient and extremely cost-effective.
Another strength is constant availability. Although ideal, most companies cannot have real people available to their customers 24/7. There are plenty of MarTech solutions to help your customers when employees are unavailable. Automated chatbots can be valuable tools to help customers troubleshoot problems for customers who may need guided help after hours.
In outbound customer service, using MarTech suites to reach your customers with special offers and exclusive deals based upon prior purchase history is another great way to enhance the customer experience. These promotions show that your business values the repeat customer and ultimately builds the relationship between you and them.
MarTech also shines in its ability to deliver targeted, relevant advertisements to your customers based on previous interactions. In today’s world of automated marketing processes, this is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Use it.
Utilizing a Human Approach
It should be noted that a business should not hide behind its automation. While efficiency is crucial, it should not come at the expense of human interaction.
The human element of customer service starts not with how your business treats its customers, but how your business treats its employees. Building a corporate culture of patience and appreciation is perhaps the best thing you can do for your customer service in the long run. Those same core philosophies will translate to interactions between customers and agents.
It’s important to note that certain standards of customer service need to be understood business-wide. All departments that interface with customers should have the same basic understanding of the way your business treats all customers, regardless of their level of business dealings.
Different departments should also understand that they’re expected to make themselves available to customers without exception and prioritize a high level of attentiveness to the customer experience.
It’s crucially important that these ideals of customer service are implemented business-wide, and consistently. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and quality customer service across the board can easily be negated by one bad customer service in any one department.
MarTech – like organizational suites centralizing customer inbound requests to make for easier, team-wide response – are great tools to increase your ability to efficiently process customer input.
This should be a focus of your MarTech strategies.
There are a host of MarTech products that allow your customers to interface with real people through technology, like the increasingly popular use of web chat windows. These are ideal because they’re instant, proactive solutions to enhance your customer experience.
There is also data aggregation MarTech that can help you constructively organize and distill customer feedback to pinpoint your company’s strengths and weaknesses throughout a customer’s experience.
The beauty of this type of communication lies in the way it initiates contact with the customer in an era of endless automation. It says your business wants to connect with the customer instead of simply being tolerant of them.
The Future of Customer Service
It’s true — we’re careening towards a new era of customer service.
To succeed in the realm of customer service, it’s important to focus on company-wide policies that put the customer first in a way that’s human and efficient while providing them with actionable resources when agents may not be available.
With today’s tech and the right corporate culture, a motivated business can create a great customer experience with ease, and that might just be the deciding factor in customer retention.
If you’re interested in earning more about how our smart marketing solutions can help enhance your customer experience, contact us.
Effective direct mail means creating a unique user experience.
We’re getting used to being impressed, and not just by a superior product — we’re getting used to being impressed in the ways we’re made aware of that product.
Traditional direct mail is still important — it’s a good way to send follow up mail, surveys, and cover large areas for direct marketing campaigns — but when it comes to selling high-end products and services (particularly in the B2B sphere) traditional direct mail just isn’t as effective as it used to be.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there’s a solution to the direct mail rut we may find ourselves in, and that’s the User Experience (UX) Mailer.
What is a UX Mailer?
A UX Mailer is any sort of direct mail marketing effort that sells to a target audience, but does so in a genuinely engaging way focusing on the end user experience.
UX Mailers include pitch-related gifts, tools for viewing the mailer’s content, special die cuts, or a unique response vehicle. Many UX Mailers fit into the category of dimensional mail, but there are plenty of options for 2D UX Mailers.
Some examples of UX Mailers include:
- A dimensional mailer with a small LED screen that plays a video upon opening
- A “scratch-off” style mailer, where the user reveals QR codes leading to discounted promotions
- A flat mailer with a QR code and fold-out cardboard VR headset meant to hold a user’s phone for a first-person product tour
- A dimensional mailer containing a set of quality headphones to play an audio message, which can then be used with the recipient’s other devices
How to Use UX Mailers
UX Mailers are powerful tools when used correctly. Given the fact that UX Mailers typically require a fairly significant initial investment (more on this in the next section), you’ll want to make sure that your UX Mailer campaign is run as effectively as possible.
In general, best practices generally dictate that UX Mailer campaigns should target a significantly smaller audience than your average direct marketing campaign. This means that your company should focus its efforts on only the highest value prospects and convertible leads. So how small should your target audience be? It depends.
Even large companies employing a UX Mailer campaign frequently limit their target audience to less than 100 prospects, particularly if the UX Mailer is expensive. In more extreme examples, with the right information and projected success of conversion, some UX Mailer campaigns cross over the threshold into the mythical domain of 1-1 direct marketing, focusing all efforts to engage a single target.
On the flip side, there are times where a UX Mailer can be inexpensive enough to broaden the scope of your campaign, focusing on a more traditional direct mail audience. While you’ll always likely pay more for a UX Mailer campaign, there are many options that won’t increase cost prohibitively. For instance, a UX Mailer campaign with special die cuts may cost more to set up initially, but has little-to-no additional cost per-piece, making it a great option to run a larger campaign.
Investment and Return
You knew this was coming: UX Mailers are often a significant investment.
Of course, they’re only as expensive as you choose to make them — there are companies that put actual iPads in their UX Mailers and there are companies that rely on things like QR codes to keep cost down.
The reality is most campaigns fall somewhere in the middle.
For example, a company recently ran a customer appreciation UX Mailer campaign including a Tile key fob. The fobs were sourced in bulk, keeping the cost down to $8 per piece, with the campaign reaching 152 customers.
UX Mailers are an investment, and just like any other investment, their cost should be contextualized in the scope of projected return. With some industry data pointing to dimensional UX Mailers being opened nearly 100% of the time, our experience is that around 19% of UX Mailers result in response.
There’s virtually no other method of outreach with comparable engagement, making UX Mailers a worthwhile investment.
Why You Should Use the UX Mailer
As we’ve touched on, UX Mailers have a distinct set of advantages that boil down to two main points: they have incredibly high rates of engagement and can be tailored to fit most budgets.
Although they are an investment, UX Mailers are undeniably effective, particularly in the B2B sphere. With most B2B deals resulting in $10,000 to $250,000 gross return, the juice is well worth the squeeze.
Are you ready to put your best foot forward with a smart UX Mailer campaign? Visit us at gostrata.com to see what Strata can do for you.
How to Apply the Latest in eCommerce Functionality and UX Design to Increase Adoption
Digital capabilities and payment technologies have changed the way consumers shop; your colleagues are no different. Yet many businesses struggle to keep current internal marketing portals (also commonly referred to as “marketing stores”) that offer some form of ordering/purchasing features. Legacy marketing store systems were often built without scalability in mind, and thus many remain in a form where orders still have to feed through to purchasing departments or internal marketing teams for approval and fulfillment. Not providing a fully self-serve, user-friendly environment makes it harder for marketers to leverage all of the assets they’ve produced, and low self-sufficiency slows down customer-facing functions.
The lack of investment in these systems is understandable; they don’t directly correlate to the bottom line. But if you take the long view, they’re invaluable when it comes to brand and sales enablement. Customer-facing teams are among your best channels for promoting your brand. And with marketing increasingly being held accountable for justifying every expense, it’s critical that what you produce is visible and accessible to stakeholders.
The good news is that big hitters like Amazon and Zappos continue to update and perfect eCommerce, so companies wishing to upgrade internally-facing purchasing systems can capitalize on what is already in existence.
User Experience Is Top Priority
Research is increasingly confirming that one of the most critical determiners of the success of a web application is the user experience.
User Experience (UX) comprises a site’s look and feel, architecture, overall ease of use, shopping cart experience, and more.
You can leverage these very same principles to optimize efficiencies in your brand merchandise and marketing content ordering and purchasing portals. The superior UX and secure, controlled online purchasing available via your favorite websites can now be safely – and more easily – applied to better serve business stakeholders such as sales teams, distributors, and field marketers.
A UX-optimized marketing portal can accelerate many basic sales and marketing functions:
- Increasing adoption and transparency: Pricing and inventory are readily visible and can be updated in real time. Purchasers are better informed, reducing the risk of order changes.
- Improving internal perception of the marketing team: Providing excellent customer service always makes a good impression.
- Speeding up purchasing, fulfillment, and billing: Put merch within users’ reach with features such as frequently purchased items and smart content: similar to what you see in eCommerce sites that feature product recommendations and related products.
- Expediting order submissions and processing: Whether you need to change a ship-to on the fly or quick-ship 50 different pieces of merchandise to 50 different clients, those options are easy to access and process.
One aspect of customer experience that seamless eCommerce functionality does well is convenience. Users want to find what they’re looking for quickly, receive it hassle-free, and pay with their preferred method. While many older systems take in static requests that have to be routed to marketing teams for approval and fulfillment, a more streamlined portal enables automation that empowers users to take care of these processes themselves – easily and quickly.
And importantly, today’s best eCommerce-centric online marketing stores let users upload mailing lists to attach to their orders, rather than offering only a few predefined ship-to address options.
The Personalized Shop…
The level of personalization and ease of use that an eCommerce-style corporate marketing portal provides does well for internal brand perception. Consumers still highly value relationship – strong customer relationships boost loyalty, improve net promoter scores, reduce acquisition costs, and increase the likelihood of conversion, upsells, and expansion. Again, your colleagues are no different. When your tech can support them in every step of their tasks, you are building internal loyalty and teamwork.
Further, because eCommerce is primed to handle large amounts of data with minimal risk, it’s the ideal space to deliver personalized content and services and test new strategies.
If you integrate your internal corporate marketing portal with a robust content management system, you can take your online ordering and purchasing well beyond a more dated inventory library. You can deliver engaging content based on user activity and other data points.
You can also use personalization to move the relationship across channels conversational (chatbot-based) ordering and other purchase-based trigger communications. Such technologies make processes seamless, hassle-free, and scalable into the future.
Ready to talk about taking the best in UX and eCommerce to your online marketing store? Contact us to learn more.
Helpful Tips to Make Your Box Mailer Stand Out
Box mailers (also commonly referred to as box mailers or 3D mailers) can command high direct marketing response rates. With their bulk and size, they rise to the top of the mail pile.
Due to their nature, however, box mailers also come with a higher price tag. They’re typically used for efforts such as:
- Small mailings to targets with decision-making power
- Follow-up on “hot” leads and priority prospects
- Converting prospects where a notable return can be expected
When executed correctly, three-dimensional mailers can communicate that your company – like the mailer itself – stands out and offers real value.
- Be Savvy to Boost ROI
- Consider streamlining dimensions
- The larger the mailer, the more expensive it will be.
- Even a small bulky item will accomplish the mission of standing out, so going big might not up the impact enough to justify the extra cost.
- Select a vendor who can guide you on mailing options.
- Your print vendor should be able to advise you on batch size and package dimensions for optimal postal rates.
- Select your Premium Item Carefully
- Consider audience demographics, including age, gender, and industry. What’s something they’ll actually use?
- The item also should make sense within the context of the mailing, aligning with message, creative direction and end goals of your campaign.
- Brand the item with your company’s logo and website.
- Take it a step further and personalize it with the recipient’s name for extra staying power.
- Design and Message
- Plan ahead so that your copy and design will work cohesively on the multiple pieces of your mailer. A three-dimensional mailer will typically include:
- An outer box
- Inside packaging
- Any labels and/or outer sleeves used
- Area around the premium item
- Any inserts included, such as a postcard or business card
- Work closely with your printer to ensure you have the correct dimensions for design purposes.
- Go for minimal copy. Be personal – aim to tap into emotion, and connect with your targets.
- Include a strong CTA.
- Maybe it’s an offer you want them to take advantage of: a free consultation or trial. Or sign-up for an event or a mailing list.
- Drive leads to a landing page, where you can track response.
- Send recipients subsequent emails or direct mailings to follow up.
Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Strata Company specializes in helping companies create more relevant, personalized marketing. A leader in direct mail marketing for nearly two decades, Strata has experience helping businesses create highly targeted multichannel marketing campaigns. Contact us to learn more.