Selling B2B digital marketing to the C-suite

Need to get buy in to resource and investment in digital marketing? Keep reading to learn five ways to get the investment you need.

 

Whether it is ‘intangibles’ like up front strategy, planning and goal setting or ‘tangibles’ like websites, blogs, email systems, databases, social media accounts and more, you need to be able to bring your colleagues with you.

Arguing the case for an investment in digital marketing involves an understanding of the rules and vocabulary of the boardroom.

You have a digital footprint

Everything you and your business does online helps create a digital footprint which has immediate and far-reaching implications on your brand. Customers can make a spontaneous first impression of your capability and credibility so it is important to get it right. With some customers the impression made, the quality of presentation and substance of the content are so fundamental that poor first impressions rule you out for life.

The ability to track and trace

Encouragingly, digital marketing can be tracked in much more thorough ways than other more traditional techniques. An investment in overt migration of traffic towards websites, landing pages and other content hubs is a smart move and getting a view of impressions, clicks and visits helps to establish what works, what is valued and what is not. With the advent of the download, customers are now prepared to exchange contact data in exchange for worthwhile content that will aid their understanding of a given topic or help them in their role.

So, is it any wonder that if you don’t have a strategy that illustrates where you are, where you want to be and how you are going to get there, then when you ask for investment, senior managers appear reluctant?

The benefits of a digital strategy for a business are straight forward and clear:

  • It can deliver immediate, measurable return on investment.
  • It provides a consistent platform for brand communications and amplification in the most important, growing and innovating area of modern business.

Five things to remember when convincing senior and financial management about digital investment

1. Remember, they need your expertise

It’s not that the boardroom is hostile to the concept of digital marketing. A lack of confidence and lack of knowledge probably makes your board nervous. From their kids spending all their time on Facebook, to complicated smartphones to the rise of app culture, the value to B2B isn’t always easy to draw.

It’s your responsibility to bring them up to speed and always make recommendations with the company’s best interests at heart. Simple quick wins might involve internal training, shadowing on projects and visits to conferences and exhibitions to immerse in the industry. This will help you understand issues, trends and fuel strategic thinking.

2. Understand the language of finance

Those empowered with rubber-stamping business investment are invariably concerned about risk, return, cost and savings. With accountancy at their core, their perspective is the removal of excess expense. Consequently, unsubstantiated trends and crazes, new platforms – anything without a reasoned and robust strategy behind them – are not going to get financial backing.

3. Make attribution your friend

Marketing is all too often viewed as an extravagant overhead in many companies and is constantly under scrutiny. Finance Directors can be uncomfortable with marketing campaigns that cannot be measured, partly because of the rather mystical approach to attribution and the squabble that often takes place between marketing and sales teams.

But explaining the principles of media attribution models and the move away from ‘last click wins’ models can really help foster an understanding and buy-in to digital marketing expenditure. It can also help you explain the value of activities which are likely to be more effective in brand building and demand generation than traditional approaches.

4. Paint a picture of an improved future

Or so you might think. Try to build a compelling argument that makes the case for investment in marketing activity based on generating leads (risk), reports greater visibility of results (return), automating previously manual tasks (cost), delivers service at a reduced cost (save). It doesn’t have to be immediate – future time and resource cost savings are as powerful as real time ones.

5. Paint a picture of a future without it

Demonstrate, especially drawing on big industry trends and the activities of your primary competitors how not investing will actually have a devastating effect on the long term profitability of the business.

What challenges do you face in requesting (more) digital marketing investment? Share your challenges and tips below.

 

 

Download the new 440 page Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing eBook from Amazon today – for Kindle and Kindle apps for all devices and computers. 

 

Image credit: Telegraph blog

Social media is dead. Long live social media ROI.

I’m giving a conference presentation on social media use in b2b marketing and PR today. (Doesn’t stop a guy blogging though!)

This great deck from Stefanos Karagos backs up a lot of what I’m going to be talking about in terms of planning out social media use in the same way you would with any other marketing activity, setting objectives and KPIs on which to judge success. Firming up your audience, the content that is going to engage them and the platforms and tools to deliver it.

But hang on, what’s the return? Find out more in here. Illuminating and interesting stuff.


Share

Top Tweets of the Week (14 Oct 2010)

A little late this week (I’m into my last two weeks of intense coursework) but here are some links and content I picked up this week that I feel are worthy of your attention.

Monday – Check out this SlideShare Presentation on LinkedIn : BROKEN MEETINGS (and how you’ll fix them) http://slidesha.re/c8jRsj

Tuesday – 25% of UK Top 100 CEOs called Michael, Ian, John or Andrewhttp://ow.ly/2S2io #dependablenames

Tuesday – Five Corporate Blog Must-Haves http://bit.ly/97jel2

Tuesday – 71% of tweets ignored from @wireduk http://ow.ly/2S2qM

Wednesday – RT @markwschaefer: New post:Twitter success stories: Explaining the ROI of Twitter http://bit.ly/auFwaU

Thursday – RT @briansolis Introducing The Conversation Prism Version 3.0 http://bit.ly/aWgT0O

Friday – RT @smexaminer How to Integrate Video Into Your Social Media Marketing http://bit.ly/9AVfZ4

Marketing Metrics 9: Micro blogging

One of the liveliest and often most polarising marketing debates centres around the relevance of Twitter for marketers. Like most social media tools, Twitter was establishing as a personal networking tool, but brands are trying to use the platform to understand and engage with customers.

What is true about Twitter is its addictiveness. If you adopt a ‘have a go’ approach, expect to spend a huge amount of time but probably garner precious little return – either in investment or involvement terms.

For fairly obvious reasons (and like other marketing tools) use it strategically and to add value or inform your understanding of your target audiences. Sounds complicated and overly dramatic but if you fancy getting your tweet on, consider the following:

1. Personal v business

People still predominantly engage with people. Corporate brands don’t tend to do terribly well on Twitter (though there are frequently cited examples of retail and customer service from Dell_Outlet and Zappos). Corporate accounts can be used to source and find information and insight but arguably little engagement. In my view, unless you already have brand magnetism (like a magazine, website, news resource or consumer brand) it is best to set up a Twitter account with an actual personal identity. It gives people something to engage with. A corporate account will inevitably follow a broadcast rather than an engagement model.

2. Selling v engaging

Businesses have to sell to make money. So be clear – decide if you are selling, if so what, and if so what is the value proposition for Twitter followers. Don’t build an audience following interesting tweets, quotes, comments and insights and then when you have them, hit them with sales collateral. Why? They’ll drop you. If you are going to sell, build in pricing related to time sensitivity – like early bird course bookings which work well in the event sector. Accept that your attempts to build an audience will be more difficult, but you will at least have an interested niche audience.

3. Follows v followers

Conventional Twitter wisdom suggests that if you follow 100 people, 50 may follow you back. This is often how businesses get started. By association. So use Twitter search or look up lists that other people create (@MarketingB2B is one of my personal favourites). You might blast follow lots of like-minded accounts and hope they follow back. Or simply follow those you like the look of. Over time you can use tools like Twinfluence to remove those who aren’t following you – if you are Machiavellian in outlook.

4. To retweet or not to retweet

Depending on the content of your tweets, you’ll pick up followers regularly. Retweeting things you like is the best and fastest way to building a profile and developing influential contacts. You become an information resource to people who haven’t got the time to plough through it all themselves.

5. Metrics

Metrics relating to social media and Twitter specifically cover a broad range from insignificant to significant. My advice. Look beyond follows, retweets etc and consider your wider influence. Is activity on Twitter integrated with other platforms such as your blog, website or YouTube account? Can you see a tangible uplift in newsletter subscriptions, white paper downloads or incredulously, leads?

Monitoring tools like Klout (which has found its way into Hootsuite) exist to give a score based on activity around your profile. I view them with scorn as they are easy to manipulate. If you have way more followers than you are following, succeed in getting your tweets retweeted, receive lots of @ messages then you are likely to have a high influence score. I’ve seen people with 200 followers, sending 5,000 inane tweets have influence scores 50+/100. Is that influence? I’m not convinced.

Here is a metrics-cloud I created drawing on a number of resources, not least Jim Sterne’s excellent Social Media Metrics. Jim compiles a list of over 100 at the outset if you really want to get stuck into it. What it highlights to me is that there are so many ways of determining how investment of time in social media can be measured – and some of them are actually worthwhile!!

Summary

Twitter works for me. I’m in it for the long haul. At this stage I’m not really selling, I’m profile building. I integrate it with other sites for content and use it broadcast my blog and share those I respect from Google Reader feeds.

What has this taught me? A lesson about Twitter, wider marketing and life perhaps. Think through what you’re doing and ensure you are getting something out of it. And, if you are considering it for business, think even harder. Set objectives and a way of measuring the time spent – whilst return on investment might be difficult, return on involvement can certainly be achieved.

Marketing Metrics 1: Why measure?

With the post Principles of Marketing 13: Evaluation becoming the most read blog post on this site in the last nine months, I figured it was time to explode the subject in more detail with a series of blog posts dedicated to measuring marketing effectiveness

This is an area where marketers often struggle and is a primary reason for marketing not being taken seriously at board level in many businesses. A strong correlation needs to be made between marketing investment and return. And it’s no surprise that companies that do well also integrate marketing into their business development and sales strategies.

Whilst online marketing provides a level of traffic and conversion evaluation, more traditional approaches along with the latest viral and digital techniques are more difficult to quantify in terms of ROI. The explosion in the popularity and ease of networking and sharing content online adds to the problem.

Just how do you possibly track back brand awareness, brand and market share, and return in investment to these activities?

Blog posts upcoming include advertising offline, advertising online, direct mail, exhibitions, conferences, websites / blogs, emarketing, social media – Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, brand / brand value and financial ROI.

B2B Marketing Principles 9: ROI unmeasured despite being a primary driver

Do you measure return on investment (ROI)? For all the talk of measurement and evaluation, ROI is proven to be the only credible barometer of marketing success but is rarely done well.

Being able to attribute sales to specific promotional activity is critical whether you have a large marketing budget or a small one. Why? Simple. Spending on activities that make little impact and conversely not spending sufficiently on activities that could reap dividends ultimately risks the long term profitability of your business.

But where do you start? The good news is that even the most basic elements of the marketing mix such as advertising, direct marketing and PR can be tracked with varying degrees of accuracy. Advertising can be evaluated against reader enquiry, direct marketing against post card, email and telephone response, PR against advertising equivalent value (AEV) and any onward PR – for example, from regional to national or local press to headline news.

Taking it to a second level, specific telephone numbers, email addresses, post boxes and website landing pages can be deployed inexpensively to support the evaluation of these marketing methods.

But only when you utilise digital marketing do you bring your marketing to life.

Advances in website, email and advertisement design mean you can run alternate versions of your website, ensure recipient mailing lists receive different versions of email messages, and run different advertisement designs on different websites. This allows you to constantly innovate, test, see what works, continue to gain permission and get a greater insight into what your customers and prospects are really interested in.

And you now use more sophisticated ‘attribution’ models and software to track even more accurately which activities really impact the sale. This becomes more important if you operate a multi strand, multi channel marketing program where customers could come into contact with you because of in-store promotion, online and trade press advertising, after receiving direct or email marketing, by searching for you on the Internet or because they read a feature about you. These products help you allocate the percentage of a sale to each element that supported the sale, and provides you with a more comprehensive view of what worked, rather than simply allocating the sale to the last element or using an ‘average’ score.

If you’re interested in attribution modelling, check this blog which was inspired by the Econsultancy session on attribution at TFM&A 2010.

There will also be an entire blog series on the topic of return on investment and evaluation in April as this topic is amongst the most read on The Marketing Assassin blog since the blog launched in June 2009.

My final observation. The best investment you can make in good marketing is not cost, but rather your time. If you are going to spend ANY money on marketing and promotion, ensure you have set objectives in place from the outset. Objectives act as your safety net. When adhered to, they drive activity selection and give you a benchmark to evaluate success against.

Image from http://buzzcanuck.typepad.com