Direct Marketers Share Smart Online Lessons

My colleague Sarah Takvorian attended the New England Direct Marketing Association’s (NEDMA) spring Marketing Technology Summit in Boston. Here are the lessons learned in Sarah’s words: 

  • Create socially enabled marketing campaigns. In his keynote address, Harry Gold, CEO of Boston’s digital marketing firm Overdrive Interactive, reminded us that you don’t need a million Facebook fans (in fact, most companies will never reach that number). To capitalize on the fans you do have, and in turn extend your reach to the people who orbit those fans, you need to integrate social media into your broader marketing mix, working across channels and allowing their successes to play off of and feed into one another and then measuring the results, of course. 
  • Add clear calls to action. Prominently display “Like” or “Share” buttons in your emails or on your site’s most interesting, share-worthy content (perhaps a compelling graphic, article, or product). When someone presses Like on your site, they might not be a Facebook fan, but their action will still feed back into their Facebook newsfeed, thereby allowing you to tap into their network of friends and boosting your brand’s social presence. For example, Levi’s increased its Facebook traffic by 40% when it invited users to “like” content on its Website. 
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Benchmark Your Interactive Marketing Maturity

 

Live today is Forrester’s new free benchmarking tool that can help you compare your company’s interactive marketing budget and organization against your peers’. Simply answer a few questions and our tool will compare your answers with similarly sized companies against five metrics:

  1. The size of your interactive marketing budget
  2. The share of your advertising budget dedicated to interactive marketing
  3. The percent of your interactive budget earmarked for emerging media
  4. The size of your interactive team
  5. The number of agencies you work with for interactive support compared with other companies of your size
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CMO Best Practices For Hiring And Retaining Digital Talent

I’m currently working on a report around how to hire and retain good digital talent. So the CMO panel featuring Brian Lauber of OneAmerica, Jared Blank of Tommy Hilfiger, and Chris Krohn of Restaurant.com that addressed hiring and staffing was music to my ears.  A few takeaways on how to nurture your digital employees:

 *Create an emotional connection between employees and your brand. This helps to brand your company externally. OneAmerica CMO Brian Lauber finds that “Your employees are your best branding.  He tells every single employee that they are the brand. “I tell them to look like it, act like it, talk like it.” Every day. In everything they do.

 *Don’t rely on HR to do everything alone. Creating a strong digital organization isn’t just about having good recruiters. It’s about creating a culture that employees feel part of and proud of. And this lands on managers to create. Chris Krohn of Restaurant.com says his role has two primary components: 1) Make sure the marketing strategy is clear; 2) Make sure we have the right people doing the right things. 

*Create benefits beyond financial compensation. Tommy Hilfiger employees get discounts off of clothes. And buyers of media and of clothes get 10% of their regular budgets to play with. “We want people who are passionate about clothes.  And about our clothes. So we give them a reason to buy our things for themselves.  And we make them accountable for 90% of their budget.  The other 10% they can spend on whatever they think is cool.”

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Best Buy CTO Shares How Marketing And IT Should Collaborate

I’m co-presenting next week at Forrester’s first-ever CIO/CMO Forum with my colleague Craig Symons, a VP and Principal Analyst from Forrester’s IT client group.  We’re hosting a discussion around how to budget for marketing technology purchases. So it was perfect to hear Robert Stephens, the CTO of Best Buy, talk at the Exact Target Connections Conference about the role he plays in Best Buy’s marketing innovations. Stephens is the technology mastermind behind all of Best Buy’s industry-leading efforts like Twelpforce — its Twitter-based customer service organization.  Here are a few sound bites from Stephens’ presentation: 

“My job is to transform trends into reality for us.”  Stephens talked about his close relationship with Barry Judge, Best Buy’s CMO.  They meet regularly to swap ideas and co-support innovations. And Stephens doesn’t view any imbalance in the “power” either of them has over Best Buy decisions.  He’s actually come up with his own share of “marketing” ideas; for example, he came up with the Geek Squad in his lean college years. In his words, “When you don’t have any money, everything is marketing.”  I think this perspective makes sense even when firms *do* have money. What if every employee — including IT ones — thought about all of their moves as marketing ones?  That is ways to create a product, culture, and experience that promotes your firm above all others. 

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Making Connections Through Exact Target

I just spent the first part of the week at the Exact Target Connections Event. What a top-notch conference. 

  • 3,000 attendees
  • Assiduous attention to detail
  • Inspiring and fun speakers including a presentation from Aron Ralston whose survival story was retold in the movie 127 Hours
  • And terrific industry content – I’ll post the lessons I learned at the event in my next few posts. 
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With Or Without Bartz, Yahoo! Lacks Vision

Carol Bartz was fired by phone from her post as CEO of Yahoo! in what must have been a Trump-worthy conversation with Roy Boystock, Yahoo!'s Chairman of the Board. Tim Morse, Yahoo!'s current CFO will act as interim CEO and part of a larger executive committee to manage Yahoo! operations until a replacement CEO is found.

I like Yahoo! And I was optimistic about Bartz taking the reins from Yahoo!'s founder Jerry Yang, as I thought it signaled an desire by Yahoo! to aggressively course correct its languishing strategy.  But now I'm just disappointed. Three more years have passed and Yahoo! is the same sinking ship it was when Bartz took the reins.  Here is my take on Yahoo!'s situation.  Yahoo!:

  1. Has terrific online advertising capabilities.  The online opportunity is *still* a huge and growing one; we project interactive marketing will near $77 billion by 2016.  Yahoo! has tremendous traffic and user engagement globally which populates its monster user database that it is a pro at mining on advertisers' behalfs.  It's ad labs scale testing and optimization.  Its reach and available inventory is massive.  And its ad marketplace is making real-time ad buying mainstream.
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Interactive Growth Does Take $$ From Traditional Advertising, Even If Interactive Investments Are Not In Ads

I've received a few questions and have seen some social conversations around the theme "marketing is not advertising" relating to my recent interactive marketing forecast. I in no way meant to imply through the research that marketing and advertising are the same thing, nor is this the point of the research. So if you are hung up on that notion, let me 1) provide a bit of background on the report, 2) recommend that you read the full report -- I think inferring conclusions from the summary slide published in AdAge may be confusing without our detailed definitions, and 3) iterate that the primary conclusion of the report is that spend on interactive media and technology is no longer experimental, but now established budget line items.

I've worked on this report since 2004, and the report originally began as an online *advertising* forecast -- sizing spend on online media, which at that time was primarily display ads. We've done the report 5 times since 2004, and with each new report, it became clear that budgets were growing to include other investments besides online media. So we have adjusted the forecast to best represent what is included in clients' interactive budgets.

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Interactive Marketing Spend Will Near $77 Billion By 2016

By 2016, advertisers will spend $77 billion on interactive marketing – as much as they do on television today.  Search marketing, display advertising, mobile marketing, email marketing, and social media will grow to 26% 35% of all advertising spend within the next five years.**

What does this growth mean for you?

1)      Interactive media has gained legitimacy in the marketing mix. In past forecasts, we found that interactive budgets grew because of marketing experiments, or firms looking for lower-cost alternatives to traditional media. No more. The next five years of growth comes from bigger interactive teams spending sizably to bake emerging media into their strategies for creating rich customer relationships.

2)      Search’s share will shrink. Search marketing (paid search and SEO) will continue to own the largest portion of the interactive marketing pie. But its overall share will decline as marketers shift search spend into biddable display investments, mobile marketing, and even social media.

3)      Display media will rally. Bolstered by advances in audience targeting and bid-based buying approaches, advertisers will renew their love affair with display media. We expect display investments to grow as marketers apply display instead of search. And niche or remnant inventory sells for higher prices due to demand-driven pricing.

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Acquisio Supports Agencies With Paid Search Technology

In January we published a spate of research around automation tools specific to the search marketing space. See "Automation Helps Marketers Scale Organic Search" and "The New Paid Search Automation Landscape."  Our audience for these reports is the enterprise marketer.  So we represented here tools that sell directly to marketers. But, of course, there are vendors who service marketers indirectly -- by selling agency-enabling technologies instead.

One such vendor, Canadian-based Acquisio sent me some case studies recently about the efficiencies it brings agencies. Like the vendors we featured in our report (e.g., Adobe Search Center, Marin Software, Kenshoo, Efficient Frontier), Acquisio provides bid optimization, campaign management, and reporting.  But Acquisio's sweet spot is providing these services for agencies that might manage high volumes of keyword groups across several search engines for multiple clients. One agency grew its client base by 50% without adding any new headcount by using Acquisio to support campaign workflow, bids, and reporting.

The takeaway here for agency readers is that there are considerable firms outside of the set we profiled in our published research that might provide particular value for you.

Marketers Should Cut Ad Budgets To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer

At least once a week I get a client inquiry wondering what is "the next big thing in interactive marketing," seeking to identify what will out-tweet Twitter or out Goog Google.  Well, in his new report, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, my colleague Josh Bernoff articulates what is next for all businesses: A disruptive shift, where the power of customers means that firms must focus on the customer now more than any other strategic imperative.  In fact, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive, like Best Buy, IBM, and Amazon, are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.

See Josh's post Welcome To The Age Of The Customer: Invest Accordingly for detail on how the Age of the Customer disrupts established competitive strategy.

The zinger in this report for interactive marketers is to: Prioritize word of mouth over mouthing off. Cut your ad budget by at least 10%, and spend the money on connections that have a multiplier effect like social, devices, and content. Ads are far more effective when customers are primed to believe them.

This means that interactive marketing of the future is really focused on interactivity -- not just on pushing out marketing messages through digital channels.  Three ways to get started creating more interactive marketing relationships:

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