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The 4 Biggest Challenges Facing B2B Tech Marketers Today (Part 4)

Unifying Communication Strategies Across Channels Throughout the Customer Journey

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the four biggest marketing challenges faced by B2B tech companies.

Whether you’ve been following along or just tuning in now, you can find the first three installments about utilizing all available tools and technologies, leveraging high-quality, real-time data and generating ROI with less budget and fewer resources on our blog.

For the fourth and final challenge, I will discuss the best strategies to unify communications across channels in order to drive the customer journey.

CHALLENGE #4: How do I unify communication strategies across channels to drive customers through the buyer journey?

Your brand is a powerful thing. Not only does it represent the essence and promise of your company, it also embodies the expectations and opinions of your customer as they move through their buying journey. Each touch point with your brand is a chance to enhance – or diminish – a customer’s perception.

That means that each piece of advertising, each call to your contact center and each visit to your landing page should work in tandem to convey a consistent message that represents your brand. Just one negative interaction can damage your customer’s perception. And it’s much more difficult to reverse a negative perception than it is to proactively ensure positive customer interactions from the start of a campaign.

So how can we ensure a single view of customer across their entire journey, with consistent brand touch points and a clear, unified message? Read on:

  1. Start with a clear definition of your brand. First and foremost, you need to clearly define what your brand represents. Your brand platform needs to be articulated and shared with everyone in the company, particularly the external-facing representatives. A marketing program is the creative output built on top of the brand, designed to build awareness and the desire to purchase.
  2. Decide what you are trying to achieve with your marketing efforts. What is your vision of success? What are you trying to do and why are you trying to do it? At this stage, it’s helpful to look at what Harte Hanks Creative Director Alan Kittle calls The Beautiful Intersection. Draw two intersecting circles. In one, write out what you or your client wants to say. In the other, detail what your audience wants to hear. The intersection of this Venn Diagram is your sweet spot – the message that will tell your story while resonating with your audience.
  3. Identify the necessary building blocks and work streams. After you define your end goal and key objective, work backwards to figure out what will get your there. Start with a solid strategist or planner. This individual or team should gather and interpret all available data, and determine how that insight into the customer will enable a connection with the brand. Data intelligence should help form creative briefs and build a campaign message that is highly measurable.
  4. Cut through with a single unifying thought. In a complex, multi-channel, multi-territory campaign, it is essential to have one unifying idea that all marketing efforts tie back to. In fact, the more complex the marketing campaign – the more channels, audiences, periods of time – the simpler the message should be. By looking at the whole picture, you can determine how all the pieces fit together throughout the journey: how an audience reacts to an email, then a phone call a few weeks later and a piece of advertising leading them to a customer landing page a few days after that.
  5. Create an ecosystem of collaboration and information sharing. It is essential that all agencies plug into the brand and work together in a creative, synergistic manner to tell the same story. Branding agencies need to work in tandem with creative teams – the strongest teams collaborate to make a greater sum of their parts.

By following these steps for a new marketing idea, or to increase the effectiveness of an in-progress marketing program, it is possible to unify communications across channels and create that single, unifying thought that weaves through the entire customer journey. Data helps inform and define this thought and to create a cycle of excellence: use data to create something with the best chance of success, then look at what to improve and start the process again.

The 4 Biggest Challenges Facing B2B Tech Marketers Today (Part 3)

Maximizing ROI with Fewer Resources and Smaller Budgets

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If you’ve been following my four-part series on the biggest challenges impacting B2B tech companies today, you’ll have already picked up some tips on maximizing your tools and technologies and generating high-quality, real-time data.

In this post, I’m going to address one of the most pressing and urgent pain points that marketers face today: how to show an increased return on investment for marketing activities despite shrinking head counts and budgets.

CHALLENGE #3: How do I Maximize ROI with fewer resources and less investment?

With the rise of data analytics, there is more pressure to measure results and account for ROI on ever dollar spent. At Harte Hanks, we’ve found two complementary solutions that work best for driving ROI without hiring a team of marketers or straining existing budgets: Marketing Automation and Centralized Tele-services Programs.

Marketing Automation: Marketing automation platforms help plan, coordinate, manage and measure all of your marketing campaigns, making them more personalized, effective and efficient. The best part is they are executed just as the name suggests­­ – automatically, with minimal need for resource oversight.

Marketing automation has been a buzzword for a few years now, but according to Sirius Decisions, in 2014 85% of B2B marketers using marketing automation platforms feel they are not using them to their full potential. My colleague Anthony Figgins recently wrote about creating more relevant, personal customer interactions using marketing automation as well as some tips for getting started, which I’ve summarized here:

 5 Tips for Implementing Marketing Automation

  1. Pick the tools that best suit your business needs: Identify a tool that fits your goals and budget. We suggest tools that prevent unhealthy data and support better conversion rates, progressive profiling and social integrations.
  1. Select the right team: Because of the complex nature of many marketing automation systems, training will be crucial to success. Empower your team to know, understand and follow best practices and spend an adequate amount of time with vendors to fully immerse with the systems.
  1. Integrate your automation marketing platforms with a CRM system:Many brands use marketing automation solely as an email platform and then sync data with a CRM system. Your marketing automation platforms should work in tandem with your CRM to tell a holistic, cohesive story to and about your customers.
  1. Engage your sales force: Your sales team is the eyes and the ears in the field. They know what is happening with your customers. They can be an excellent source of knowledge about what is working and what needs to be re-evaluated.
  1. Have a plan, process and goal for your tools: Integrate and build processes early to ensure the success of your marketing automation systems. Take a crawl-walk-run approach: Start with an email, then test and refine based on real-time data.

Centralized Teleservices Program: While automating your marketing processes is a sure path to increase ROI, a complementary hands-on approach through a consolidated telemarketing program can also contribute to the bottom line. By simplifying engagement through a central point and single CRM, companies can drive and support both inbound response management to ensure quality customer experiences and outbound lead generation to drive new business.

I’ll give you an example. One of our B2B tech clients was challenged with a waning sales pipeline and declining brand awareness. They had a decentralized model with multiple local agencies, which led to inconsistent service, process, pricing, training, reporting and management. With all of these inefficiencies, the sales pipeline was clearly suffering and the customer experience was fragmented and inconsistent.

Harte Hanks collaborated with the client to design and execute a centralized telemarketing program. The new program offered marketing efficiencies and a commonality of process through a single CRM. Customer experience and sales ROI improved dramatically through simplified engagement with one central support system that drove inbound response management and outbound lead generation.

Through handling 128,000 calls and 30,000 customer and prospect interactions in a centralized manner, the client increased its sales pipeline 300 percent and qualified leads to pass to sales by 500 percent.

With marketing automation and centralized tele-services, marketers can save money and time while still driving ROI.

Join me next week for our final installation of this series: How to unify communication strategies across channels to drive customers through the buyer journey.

 

The 4 Biggest Challenges Facing B2B Tech Marketers Today (Part 2)

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A couple of weeks ago, I kicked off a blog series about the four biggest challenges faced by B2B tech companies. If you missed the first installment about creating an ecosystem that makes use of all available tools and technologies, you can read about it here.

Today’s challenge is around generating high-quality, real-time data and using it to drive sales and ROI.

CHALLENGE #2: How do I make my data high-quality, real-time and usable to drive sales?

Marketers today are inundated with data. Just when you’ve successfully integrated Instagram into your marketing activities, a new channel is added to the mix, be it a new social network, a mobile app or even virtual reality and interactive holograms. With the army of channels comes a network of devices. From our fitness trackers to our appliances to our cars, almost everything is getting connected to the Internet. With this propagation of channels and devices, we have more data, more sources and more insights than ever before. The challenge now is figuring out whether that data is quality and usable.

How to solve it

At Harte Hanks, we are all about the data. Data analysis and analytics is in our DNA, and we’ve spent the better part of the last decade figuring out how to make data work for us. Here’s what we’ve learned about increasing data quality to effectively run your business:

Obtain Quality Data (Data Remediation)

The first step to driving sales through data insights is to make sure you have quality data. My colleague Seth Romanow recently outlined his proprietary 4-Box model for determining whether data will meet marketing, analytics or campaign requirements. In a nutshell, as a marketer, you must:

Match data requirements with your ideal customer profile and marketing objectives, ensuring that data is “fit for purpose.”

Perform a data audit that implements the 4-Box methodology to segment your data based on completeness against your previously defined ideal profile and engagement.

Identify the gaps and develop a remediation plan that defines clear paths to cleaning, updating, appending and enriching your data.

Execute the remediation by fixing data sources and process issues and incorporating new digital and social data sources to add depth to the record and increase the ability to segment and target more effectively.

Use Quality Data to Drive Sales (Predictive Analytics): Once you have quality data at your disposal, things start to get really interesting. Predictive analytics is a great way to drive bottom line results as it can reduce the need for expensive third-party data or telemarketing support, particularly for acquisition programs.

What It Is – Predictive analytics helps identify when prospects are ready for an up-sell or a cross-sell, but that’s only half of the story. They also enable marketers to focus their efforts and budgets on prospects with a high response rate, and they can tell companies the prospects with which they should not waste their time. For example, targeting an individual who just invested in a product that met their needs and won’t need an upgrade for three years is not a worthy recipient of marketing dollars – not only could it waste time and budget, it could also harm brand equity.

How To Do It – There are a couple of different ways to implement predictive analytics: through an analyst or through a black-box solution. If you suspect your data has oddities or you need precise, robust outcomes, the analyst-led, human approach is best. If budget is a consideration and you are looking for a quick, scalable and repeatable solution, black-box algorithms may be the way to go. With either option, predictive analysts pinpoint firms that have exhibited a desired behavior, extrapolate the common factors about those businesses, and then analyze the behavior and features of the business to help identify others with a similar profile to be prioritized for marketing activity.

With data remediation and predictive analytics, marketers can improve their data quality and use it to more effectively drive targeted sales. So, what’s coming up next? The final two pain points delve deeper into ROI and delivering consistent communications throughout the customer journey.

  • How do I maximize ROI with fewer resources and less investment?
  • How do I unify communication strategies across channels to drive customers through the buyer journey?

 

The 4 Biggest Challenges Facing B2B Tech Marketers Today (Part 1)

How to Solve Them? With Smarter Technology, Of Course

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Nearly every industry today is affected by our increasingly digital world and has had to make adjustments – or in some cases, complete business model overhauls – to stay relevant. It is more important than ever before to connect with customers using the technology and channels that are now so pervasive in everyday life.

One of the more interesting industries to look at in the digital paradigm shift is the tech industry itself. How are the companies who are proliferating the spread of marketing automation, software as a service and enterprise infrastructure technologies marketing and selling their own solutions? The B2B tech industry faces similar challenges to marketers everywhere, but there is perhaps a higher expectation to be on the forefront of cutting edge marketing services and data analytics.

Harte Hanks works closely with many B2B tech companies who sell services and products to other businesses, and we’ve seen some common pain points consistently arise over the past few years:

  • How do I build an ecosystem that makes the most of available tools and technologies?
  • How do I make my data high-quality, real-time and usable to drive sales?
  • How do I maximize ROI with fewer resources and less investment?
  • How do I unify communication strategies across channels to drive customers through the buyer journey?

This four-part blog series explores these common challenges and provides recommendations for solving them. Read on for challenge number one and tune in for challenge number two…

 CHALLENGE #1: How do I build an ecosystem that makes the most of available tools and technologies?

 It’s true what they say: technology never rests. New technologies are emerging every day, leaving brands struggling to stay relevant and make an impact. From marketing automation, to customer relationship management, to data management, there is no shortage of buzzwords and platforms, but the question is how to optimize all of these different tools and have them work together in the most effective manner.

For the B2B tech marketer, this means managing new and existing channels in different ways. It can be a complex undertaking to determine the best ways to integrate and create efficiencies, and often times there is a need to outsource or find tools and data to help. Many B2B tech companies list complexity as a core challenge.

How to solve it

We’ve learned over the years that it’s really important to make more of the sales, marketing and IT tools and technologies that companies already have by connecting them with other areas, such as analytics. By building those bridges between functions and technologies, B2B tech companies can build a technology ecosystem that makes use of all of the elements to underpin data quality, improvements and more.

We recommend implementing a solution built on top of the marketing stack components – for instance, Harte Hanks has a Marketing Cloud professional services capability. This solution focuses on the core areas that affect B2B marketing teams, such as campaign management, content & asset management and data management. To implement this, you need to consider the following steps:

Strategic Design: Define the business objective at hand, and design programs and processes that allow you to use the technology tools at your disposal to accomplish it. At Harte Hanks, we generally help take over tactical execution of marketing activities on a given tool, such as campaign execution, content distribution or audience activations.

Planning: The next step is planning out how a particular tool can help accomplish the program objectives. Once the requirements are defined, you can look in-house at what you have, and then procure, invest and outsource where you need to grow.

Implementation: This involves the implementation of the tools for tasks like campaign creation, lead scoring set-ups, audience creation, content workflows, reporting set-ups and more.

Integration: This is the most complicated step, but it is key in making everything work together in seamless harmony. Efficiencies are gained from using integration points that vendors have included in their tools. Some on these integrations may be pre-built by the vendors (i.e. Oracle’s app cloud), but more often the tools will require a programmatic integration through the use of product APIs. www.trandict.xyz This will require development skills that you can source internally, from the vendor or from someone like Harte Hanks.

With the Harte Hanks Marketing Cloud, we take it a step further and help our customers strategically design their cloud to support their customer journey requirements, implement existing components and integrate new components into their existing stack as necessary. The ultimate goal is to realize a more efficient operational environment that makes the most of existing tools by creating a technology ecosystem.

Tune in next for our second challenge: How do I make my data high-quality, real-time and usable to drive sales?

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