Revenue Operations: A Game-Changer for B2B Marketers

Revenue operations is no doubt among the hottest trends in B2B marketing. Look at Twitter, for example, and you’ll see the hashtag #revops popping up more and more frequently.

So why has revenue ops continued to gain popularity and traction by the day, and how can marketers reap its benefits?

First, what is revenue ops?

Before we dive into the impact that revenue ops is having on Marketing, let’s back up and examine what it really means to have a revenue operations team in your company.

Although the concept of revenue operations is fairly new, it is by no means a new function. It’s the alignment of existing business functions—Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success—into one team that is driven by a single goal: growing revenue.

The traditional organization model divides teams by business function, governed by respective departments, such as Sales Ops, Marketing Ops, and Business Ops. Each team brings to revenue ops its own unique incentives, priorities, and challenges, which might not always align with the others’. On the occasions that those goals do overlap, each team may still have its own approach toward a solution based on different perspectives and expertise.

Revenue operations addresses that problem by breaking down the walls between departments and aligning goals, analytics, and the tech stack, focusing all efforts on growing revenue.

Many people refer to revenue operations as the behind-the-scenes driver that advances processes and enables technology and analytics. But that’s not everything about revenue ops. Revenue operations supports the go-to-market teams by providing them with a single unified view of customer experiences and a comprehensive summary of every player in the process of growing revenue.

Revenue operations is the new revenue-production engine

We are undergoing an industrialization of revenue production. The tools we use have fundamentally changed the way we go to market, which means Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Operations have become less artisanal and more operational.

Ten years ago, you were in charge of making sales calls if you were in Sales, and you were in charge of marketing materials if you were in Marketing. Now, marketers need to know how marketing materials will advance leads, and sales reps need to know which marketing assets to leverage if they want to target a prospect.

Integration is the new rule of the game; and if teams want to win, they need to understand exactly how their actions will impact other functions.

Revenue operations has moved from a world in which you must be highly trained to do anything, to a world where you can move ten times faster without intensive training. It’s no longer about the “art of the deal” but instead operational efficiency. Thanks to Big Data, predictive analytics, and now AI, the industry has limitless, scalable, on-demand power, and with that a demand for quick answers to the ever-changing buying environment.

Think of your organization as operating like a production line where your unit of production is revenue, and every business function is a worker along the production line contributing to revenue generation.

In the past, marketers would say, “Marketing is where the magic happens.” Guess what? That’s no longer true with the emergence of revenue operations. Marketing is only one of those many players along that production line that drives operations forward.

For that production line to run smoothly, each worker needs to not only ensure the quality and timely completion of their part but also seamless coordination with other workers along the line.

The emergence of revenue operations is a game-changer for marketers

Many marketers are worried that the emergence of revenue operations may replace their function in the organization, but this is not the case. While revenue operations combines and aligns different business functions from Sales to Customer Experience to Marketing, it’s not meant to be a replacement for any team.

The revenue ops team is neither producing new content material nor approaching new prospects. It’s simply bridging the gap between teams that might otherwise be working on their own. Because of that, marketers should embrace revenue operations and the many benefits it brings along, instead of passing it up out of doubt or fear.

Here are three of the many ways revenue operations will enable marketers to up their game.

1. Revenue operations supports marketing efforts

As noted earlier, revenue operations is meant to support marketing efforts. So, if anything, revenue operations is your powerful ally that will ensure delivery of marketing campaigns and support to sales and customer success teams, and ultimately to the customers themselves.

Think of it as a support function that opens the communication channel and manages the data flow to ensure a 360-view of the marketing and sales funnels.

Use it to align your marketing efforts with sales efforts to deliver kick-ass results.

2. Revenue operations opens up a new channel for communication

One obstacle that always gets in the way of cross-functional collaboration is communication silos. It’s natural for companies to silo because of their different perspectives and priorities, so the best way to combat those stubborn silos is to give the team one single goal to work toward: revenue.

With revenue operations, marketing teams share data with sales and customer success in real-time, enabling a clear view of the funnel, leading to quick internal and external analysis and translating into prompt actions and adjustments.

Revenue operations is the glue that binds everything together and makes sure teams are in harmony from the first time a prospect interacts with your brand to a closed-won opportunity.

3. Revenue ops drives positive cultural changes

Transitioning to revenue operations from a siloed structure will be a big shift for any organization, but the positive, sustainable changes it will bring are significant. With the alignment of data and goals comes the alignment of people. When everyone shares the same view of revenue production, teams avoid wasting time and resources on duplicate efforts. When teamwork becomes the backbone of operations, efficiency and happiness thrive.

Revenue operations also strengthens organizational transparency. By ensuring that team members share a common understanding of what the company is doing and why, revenue ops drives accountability at all levels and replaces the “blame game” with collective learning when facing a challenge.

Revenue ops meets the demands of a new age

Revenue operations is crucial in elevating your revenue production engine, taking into account that operational excellence no longer suffices to create a point of differentiation. In an age of constant demand for data and analysis, the one who provides the fastest and most holistic answer to customers’ needs and wants wins. To live up to that expectation, your organization needs to become a holistic one first, and revenue operations is instrumental in breaking down the stubborn departmental silos to create an open flow of data across the organization.

So, marketers, don’t let fear get in the way of progress. Jump into the opportunity and up your game with revenue operations.

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Forget ROAS, It's All About ROMI Now

Your ad spend is only a fraction of your investment. To figure out the true ROI of your marketing efforts, you need more than a vanity metric.

Measuring campaign performance is an integral part of your marketing optimization. Choosing your campaign KPIs can have a huge impact on how you measure and conceive your failure or success. Though visibility and engagement metrics (impressions, CTR, click rate) will help you gauge your reach, return on investment metrics (CPC, cost per conversion, ROAS, ROMI) will help you objectively determine your campaign’s revenue contribution.

But how objectively?

ROAS—return on ad spend—is ad networks’ preferred metric. It emphasizes the revenue created by the campaigns you run on their networks, while ignoring much of the spend associated with these campaigns. In that respect ROAS is a vanity metric, which may bode well for the ad networks’ goal of enticing you to spend more of your marketing budget with them, but has little to do with the actual success—or lack thereof—of your campaigns.

That’s why return on marketing investment (ROMI) is rapidly gaining popularity as a more informative metric that gives you actual insights to fuel your marketing optimization.

What Is Return on Ad Spend?

ROAS is the most basic way to calculate how much you’ve earned from your marketing campaign.

Here’s how you work it out: You take your sales revenue from the campaign period, and you divide it by how much you spent on ads.

For example, if you spent $1,000 on Facebook Ads this month, and your revenue was $10,000, your ROAS would be 10, A tenfold return on investment. Whoop!

Simple, huh? The trouble is, it’s vastly oversimplified. As we’ll see in a moment, ROAS can become very misleading for that very reason.

Because of its limited scope, it can hardly be thought of as a true ROI metric.

What Is Return on Marketing Investment?

ROMI, on the other hand, is a subset of the ROI metric: It doesn’t look at all the spend associated with your business, but at the spend associated with your marketing efforts.

There are two common ways to calculate ROMI—with and without cost of goods sold (COGS), and they can lead to vastly different numbers. In this article, I’m referring to COGS-inclusive ROMI, but your decision should be based on the specifics of your business. The important thing is to stick to one calculation method to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

With or without COGS, ROMI takes into account all of the costs of running your marketing campaign—not just your ad spend. That includes what you pay out for content creation, agency fees, discounts, etc.

When considering COGS, ROMI takes into account only the money you have in your pocket from sales—i.e., your profits, not your revenue. You start with the profit margin you make on each item and subtract costs like packing and shipping.

Then, bearing all of that in mind, to calculate ROMI, you divide the profits from your marketing campaign by the total cost of running that campaign.

OK, So How Does That Make a Difference?

It’s worth mentioning that no matter how you calculate your marketing spend, profitability may not always be your main driver. One such case is awareness campaigns, for which the investment is long-term; there’s no expectation of immediate returns. That said, ROMI still gives you a far more complete and accurate picture of how your marketing campaign performed.

To take the earlier example, let’s say that as well as the $1,000 you spent on Facebook ads, you also paid an agency $1,000 to make the ads.

And let’s say that the item you are selling is lip liner, and your $10,000 in revenue was made up of 1,000 units sold at $10 each.

Those units cost you $5 each, though, so you only make a profit of $5 on each one. Plus, it costs you $2 to package and post (P&P) each unit.

What’s more, these sales were all made with the $1 discount code that you gave out in your ads. That means you effectively spent $1,000 on making those sales happen.

  1. So the cost of running your campaign was actually $1,000 (ad spend) + $1,000 (content creation) + $1,000 = $3,000
  2. And your profit for the period was actually $10,000 (sales income) – $5,000 (cost of the goods) – $2,000 (P&P) = $3,000
  3. And so, your ROMI for the campaigns was $3,000/$3,000 = $1

As in: for every $1 you spent on your marketing campaign, you earned… $1.

Why Is ROMI Better?

The big problem with ROAS is that it lets the ad network take credit for all your sales revenue while ignoring any inconvenient costs and calculations that tell a different story.

ROMI acts as a much-needed reality check. It tells you what the real returns are on your marketing investment—and it lets you put your ad spend in context: Sure, your Facebook ads might be getting a lot of traction, but if the campaign is flawed in some way, you need to know that before you consider scaling up your ad spend.

How Does All That Work in Practice?

Such attention to detail turned out to be hugely important in two campaigns for the snack brand Mattessons Fridge Raiders in 2013 and 2014-2015.

For its first campaign, the brand came up with a cool idea. Using Facebook ads that linked through to a longer YouTube video, it crowdsourced ideas for a “snacking device” that would allow people to snack without using their hands—to avoid touching keyboards, phones and so on with greasy fingers.

Mattessons’ Facebook campaign generated 120 million ad impressions on Facebook and, during the three months of the campaign, there was a healthy spike in sales. However, they dwindled again once the campaign was over. That was bad news, considering the primary marketing objectives were about long-term growth.

Rather than just running more Facebook ads, the company took a good hard look at its ROMI over the period. It figured out that the campaign was too focused on short-term goals rather than deepening people’s connection with the brand. To tackle that issue, it created an AI robot that target consumers could interact with online, and it expanded the campaign to TV ads, all over a seven-month period.

Four months after the second campaign was over, net sales were still up 70% and the overall long-term ROMI was 1.87—i.e., a return of $1.87 for every $1 spent.

If the company had simply fixated on ROAS, it would still be pouring in money to Facebook ads each month, with diminishing returns!

Final Thoughts

Even if your marketing campaigns look like they’re meeting your short-term marketing objectives, it’s crucial to dive in to view every cog in the machine with a critical eye.

Perhaps your ad spend really does drive your profits. Maybe your overall marketing campaign is solid but the Facebook ads element of it isn’t really contributing to your success in any meaningful way. Perhaps it’s even creating a huge expense that doesn’t directly translate into sales.

Whatever the truth of the matter, you need to be able to analyze it carefully for yourself if you’re going to optimize your spend and boost your marketing ROI over time.

ROAS doesn’t let you do that… but ROMI can.

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Underrated But Effective Link-Building Tactics for SEO [Infographic]

Link-building is a highly effective SEO stratagem. Marketers know that, which is why they engage in tactics like guest-posting.

But there are other, lesser-known approaches that can work just as well. Done correctly, they can have an outsized impact on your SEO results.

And that’s where an infographic from Spiralytics comes in. The performance-driven digital marketing agency lays out a series of nine tactics that can generate links to your website or other content, explaining the process for each and offering pro tips.

For example, the infographic suggests creating a resource page—containing helpful links on a topic that’s important to your audience—on your website. Then, reach out to blogs and other publications that cover the same topic, suggesting that your resource page may be of interest to their audiences.

For more ideas and suggestions on how to build links to your site, check out the infographic:

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Beyond Black Friday: How to Build Revenue-Driving Holiday Campaigns

Shoppers are nuts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, their excitement is spilling over into the rest of the week and leading them to buy everything on their shopping lists—gift or not.

That’s because shoppers have realized that this time of year is the best time to get a deal on practically anything. And retailers don’t let them down: Brick-and-mortar and e-commerce brands alike run their best deals of the year during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That has convinced many shoppers that they should buy not only their holiday gifts during this stretch of time but also any other items on their to-do list.

The key to success this holiday season is discovering how to take advantage of this and other emerging trends. To that end, SteelHouse analyzed thousands of retargeting, branding, and prospecting campaigns across display, mobile, social, and Connected TV (CTV) that ran across the SteelHouse network last year. The collected learnings are summarized in the SteelHouse Holiday Guide to help marketers get the most out of the season.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the study findings, and ways you can leverage them for holiday success.

1. Once Black Friday hits, shoppers spend well into Cyber Week

SteelHouse data from the 2018 holiday shopping season suggests that once Black Friday gets closer on the calendar, shoppers wait to convert. In the 10 days preceding Black Friday, site traffic soared as shoppers researched potential purchases, whereas conversions dropped in anticipation of better deals just days away. Once Black Friday hit, both site traffic and conversions surged, and continued to do so well into Cyber Week.

For any marketer looking to take full advantage of this major shopping period, it’s a good idea to keep your budget prepared to engage users over Thanksgiving weekend as well as into Cyber Week. Shoppers are deal-hungry; and, as the data suggests, many who are active on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will continue to shop days after. Shoppers now see the period from Black Friday to the end of Cyber Week as one major shopping event… and you should, too.

2. Connected TV is an effective performance channel

Over 190 million Americans watch CTV. This holiday season, advertisers need to take advantage of that fact. Based on Q4 2018 SteelHouse campaign data, CTV paired with audience-extension ads (display ads served to viewers who saw the CTV ad) were more effective at driving site visits than social and display prospecting campaigns.

And not only that: CTV holiday campaigns averaged a 6X return on ad spend, proving they too are effective at driving conversions.

Any advertiser with existing video assets—whether intended for traditional TV, YouTube, or social—should strongly consider leveraging those assets on Connected TV as well. CTV ads are unskippable and they reach users as they settle in to stream TV in the comfort of their living rooms.

According to the Video Advertising Bureau, ads shown on TV screens generate 32% more ad recall than the next closest device. Advertisers would do well to take advantage of that fact this holiday season—and start driving site traffic and conversions with Connected TV.

3. Prospecting and retargeting are better together

Based on SteelHouse data, brands that ran prospecting campaigns as well as retargeting reaped significant benefits. Which makes sense: lower-funnel efforts are more effective when they have a large targeting pool to choose from. By launching prospecting campaigns early in the holiday season, you can drive more site traffic, increase your retargeting pool, and then drive more conversions as you bring those users further down the funnel. Brands that ran prospecting and retargeting drove far more conversions than those that ran retargeting alone, our data shows.

There were stark increases in conversion rates in November and December for advertisers that ran prospecting throughout the quarter. In fact, the increase in conversions were almost in direct correlation to the increase in their average spend, showing that advertisers can get a solid return on their upper-funnel efforts.

Prospecting campaigns launched earlier in the season can reap major benefits for your lower-funnel efforts, so make sure you have your budget ready for them.

4. Gifts or not, shoppers are buying everything on their list

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week are the best time of year to get a deal—period. And shoppers know it, which means they’re looking to spend not only on gifts but on everything else on their list as well. Retailers and e-commerce brands that are not traditionally known as gift-giving destinations can benefit by running sales during the frenzy of the major shopping holidays this year.

The key to success for nongift brands is awareness. Advertisers that fall into this category should plan to have deals ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, then set out to raise awareness of their brand and holiday promos. From October to November, launch multiple campaigns across display, social, Connected TV, and email to educate shoppers of upcoming deals.

Your biggest potential obstacle is your audience’s not knowing that you’re offering savings. Once that hurdle has been cleared, you’re in a good position to reap the rewards.

Build a holiday strategy that captures shoppers

Whether they’re shopping from the comfort of their own homes or lining up around a brick-and-mortar retailer on a cold morning, holiday shoppers are ready to spend. If you’re looking for better ways to engage your audience and drive conversions, download the SteelHouse Holiday Guide. It’s full of stats, trends, and insights that you can leverage to ensure you get the most out of your advertising efforts this holiday season.

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Sales Leaders' Top 10 Priorities for the Year Ahead [Infographic]

Sales leaders say their top focus areas in the year ahead are to improve their team’s ability to communicate value and to improve their team’s productivity, according to recent research from the RAIN Group.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in April 2019 among 423 sales and enablement leaders.

Some 70% of respondents say improving their team’s ability to communicate value is a top priority in the year ahead, and 65% say improving their team’s productivity is a top priority.

Other major focus areas for sales leaders in the year ahead include boosting business with existing accounts, increasing retention and renewals, improving sales opportunity planning, improving their team’s ability to inspire with ideas, winning more against difficult competitors, increasing sales manager effectiveness, driving more new accounts won, and optimizing their sales process.

Check out the infographic for more insights from the research:

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey conducted in April 2019 among 423 sales and enablement leaders.

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Email, Content, and SEO: A Marketing Tag-Team for 2019 and Beyond

To step up your digital marketing game, you need to combine your SEO efforts with email marketing to achieve genuine, organic reach for your content.

In the age of digital marketing, excellent content marketing along with the latest SEO techniques (which need to keep up with Google and social media algorithm changes) is absolute necessity. It’s been all about making sure your content reaches your brand’s target audience.

Yet, the market has been saturated with content, and everyone is using SEO techniques.

But there is an unlikely “new” way for brands to reach their prospective customers and target user base: email marketing.

The Sleeper Hit: Email

On average, email users are bombarded with 120 emails a day (some studies claim that number is now closer to 140), and 57% of users say the content they receive through is never or rarely useful.

Yet email remains one of the fastest, most common, and most direct ways of reaching customers. A lot of people also typically prefer to read emails, which often are now read first via mobile. There are few faster ways to reach the audience so directly than email marketing.

The trick is not to overwhelm. The problem is that although everyone uses email, most companies don’t really use it discerningly, instead blasting emails for just about any opportunity. Users are bombarded with clunky newsletter updates, spam, and promotions. As a result, users don’t open those nonessential emails anymore and consider most of them as spam.

So how do you get your customers’ attention via email?

Utililty. Make sure that whenever you contact your consumer base, it’s something they will consider useful. And here’s where content is key.

Say you’re developing an app; you will likely use some form of email communication (it’s important to reach out to new users with a welcoming email). But many companies don’t send welcome emails to new users, even though it’s an ideal time to provide highly useful content to new users by leading them to your website.

Email Marketing Levels Up With an SEO Mentality

By using SEO approaches combined with email marketing, you can…

  • Drive traffic to your website. Make your email more personalized and targeted; think of it as you would content. Use the right mix of keywords and SEO methods to perk up users’ attention and make them realize that this content is relevant to them (something you can do even without the help of an SEO specialist.) Whether it’s trending articles, or a product or service they are particularly interested in, make it super clear what the email is about and its benefits.
  • Once they’re onsite, engage. When qualified traffic heads to your site thanks to the keywords and relevant information in your email, it’s time for reinforcement. Redirect them straight onto the website where the information, item, or service they’re looking for is.
  • Improve mobile interaction. When users receive a notification on their phones, they pay attention. If an email with the right SEO keyword (i.e., relevant to their interest) appears, they’re more likely to open it right then, on their mobile device. That increases website traffic. (Make sure your website is mobile-user friendly!)

The Email Marketing and Content Marketing Tag-Team

In content marketing, you will have fewer better allies than email marketing. It gives content the highest ROI in any marketing channel. Using this combination of content and email can…

  • Improve brand and customer relations. The people you are communicating with via email have opted in to hear from you and are paying attention to what you have to say. Meet their expectations by providing timely, relevant content that they want to hear about. When that’s done well, the customer will keep opening your emails and continue to build a rapport with your brand.
  • Highlight the most important information. Normally, websites contain a great deal of information, and items that you might want to highlight will get lost in the bustle. Using email marketing, you’ll be able to put a spotlight on information that you need the customer to see. It may be a new product or service, or even an important update.
  • Answer your customers’ questions. When issues arise with regard to any item or product, or maybe an influx of customer concerns regarding an incident or event, a combination of content and email marketing will give them their answers, reassurances, or just inform them of the company’s position on the matter. Provided in a timely manner, it will strengthen a customers’ trust in the company.

The Future

The future of these and other marketing techniques continues to move toward greater personalization. What really makes users click open is based on personal interests and individual needs. The more emails seem canned or generic or broadcast in bulk, the more disingenuous they seem. Personalization gives the customer the feeling of truly being given attention, the feeling that the brand is taking steps to address their needs in particular.

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Accelerated B2B Sales Growth: Challenges and Strategies

B2B lead generation and sales is a complex world. As technology, trends, and preferences evolve, so do B2B marketing and sales.

Once reliant on billboards and email campaigns, B2B marketing today involves a smart, robust mix of data intelligence, tech, and the human touch to create and measure effective campaigns. Savvier and more connected, prospects now expect a speedy and highly personalized buying experience. Trends like social selling and advanced call centers can accelerate the sales pipeline while also improving and personalizing the client experience, meeting some of those demands.

Whether you’re trying out artificial intelligence applications or launching a new social media platform for your B2B efforts, a few tips and best-practices can make your B2B campaign resonate and your sales climb.

Challenges of Growth, Lead Gen, and Sales

One of the biggest challenges facing B2B today is siloed marketing and sales teams. When these teams are not in sync, messages become misaligned. Rather than providing buyers with a seamless experience, those buyers may feel confused or misinformed.

Top B2B sales and marketing teams are more than two times as likely to collaborate on projects and meet common goals and metrics. In fact, business buyers often note that the sales team’s awareness of marketing initiatives is a factor in winning their business.

Another common challenge faced by B2B marketing and sales teams is a failure to understand the intended market. Lacking a clear picture of who your products and services target prevents you from creating meaningful campaigns, customized content, and a story that generates leads.

Identifying the right customers is one of the first things a good B2B marketing team should do, and neglecting this prerequisite means your hard work and strategy will fall on deaf ears.

As with their B2C colleagues, B2B marketers also often struggle with being able to prove impact and show ROI. Teams that cannot define ROI have a much more difficult time justifying their value; that can negatively impact client retention in the case of marketing agencies and service firms, and budget allocation in the case of internal marketing teams. An inability to collect and analyze data also means that teams cannot define success and track their most effective strategies and tactics.

Working with data should be a basic requirement for any marketing and sales team; but, unfortunately, it often takes a back seat.

Accelerating B2B Growth

Identifying and overcoming common challenges is the best way to accelerate B2B growth. Of those challenges though, knocking down barriers between the marketing and sales teams may have the greatest impact.

Connecting these two teams allows for the marrying of digital tactics (marketing) and the human touch (sales), which creates the perfect environment for generating and fostering leads and ultimately closing the deal. The branding, website content, and campaigns produced by marketing are more effective when coordinated with the customer-specific solution messaging that sales uses.

Though B2Bs rely on AI, websites, and messaging cadence developed by the marketing team to start the conversation and generate leads, it is the human touch provided by Sales that positions products or solutions that are a fit for customers, building relationships and brand loyalty for long-term retention. Unsiloed marketing and sales efforts are the only way to make it possible for this marriage to happen.

A thorough understanding of your target customers and their path to purchase is another important way to accelerate B2B growth for your company. A combination of first-person market research, persona development, and customer-journey mapping helps identify and make sense of the companies with the highest propensity to buy and define the best timing for touchpoints. Ultimately, marketing teams becomes empowered to craft messaging for the right target at the right moment, and they’re able to help sales teams develop an intimate understanding of buyers’ pain points and needs.

Finally, it is critical that B2B marketing and sales teams know their data. Around 25% of the average database is inaccurate, which means the information feeding marketing campaigns is often leading teams astray. Developing an internal protocol for updating and maintaining databases enables your teams to target the right leads at the right moments.

Your teams should be able to monitor and analyze campaign metrics and prove ROI. Those numbers help inform the path of your current efforts and make data-backed changes for future campaigns. Using that information, you can improve your strategies to focus on the tactics and messaging that most resonate with your customers.

Strategies for 2019 and Beyond

Though many B2Bs say they are already implementing omnichannel strategies, it is easy to spot misalignment in messaging. Looking ahead, B2Bs will become more cohesive in their messaging, integrating social media, websites, the human touch, and all other communication channels into one, seamless strategy.

Today, many B2B marketers see content marketing as more of a B2C game, but teams that learn to implement this marketing strategy effectively in B2B will outdo their competitors tenfold. Content marketing is an excellent way to improve engagement and clearly show how your product or service aligns with the needs of customers.

Social media enablement is also primed to become the next go-to strategy. Monitoring social media channels for interactions from prospects can open up a world of information. That information primes your sales team to be able to pick up the phone and speak to specific interests and needs of the potential customer.


Though advances in technology have transformed B2B sales and marketing, some things will never go out of style. A sound understanding of marketing data and analytics, combined with the power of the human touch, is as important to B2Bs today as it has ever been. Coupling those timeless strategies with new technology will help your team overcome challenges, generate leads, and nurture them into long-term clients.

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Four Types of Influencers for Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns

It’s fairly easy to draw a distinction between a Kardashian and, say, Bill Nye the Science Guy. One fills people’s heads with amazing discoveries and evidence of life in other worlds, helping you imagine lifetimes you can only dream of. The other teaches you science facts.

But do we think to draw distinctions when diving into influencer marketing campaigns? Probably not well enough.

The simple truth is there are various types of influencers. Each of them brings varying degrees of success in delivering what your business wants from investments in sponsored content, endorsements, or long-term cooperation. A logistics management software company attempting to sponsor some level of involvement with, say, Dr. Kevin Lyons, a Rutgers University professor and supply chain management expert, is going to look very different from—and produce different results than —if the company partnered with Gary Vaynerchuk.

Knowing those differences going into an influencer partnership, or just a pitch to create one, can help your business define goals, activities, and measures of success for the relationship.

Types of Influencers

To better define and understand the various types of influencers, I looked beyond my own experience to offer something more credible. The academic study of influencer marketing is just beginning, but there are some nuggets of research wisdom out there to learn from.

One such study is an interview-based project conducted by Jana Gross and Florian von Wangenheim, Swiss professors of technology marketing at ETH Zurich. Their paper titled “The Big Four of Influencer Marketing—A Typology of Influencers” produced insights that certainly correlate to my practitioner experiences.

Gross and von Wangenhem’s four influencer types are as follows:

  1. The Snooper. These are early adopters of social media sites who’s involvement revolves around the fun of the platform to create and share content. They play on social networks as a hobby or passion and seem to focus on building an audience there. (Though, in my experience, this type of influencer often doesn’t do anything with the audience other than continue to celebrate the platform itself.)

    They are great at showing others how to maximize the use of one network or another, and often venture into the inspirational content, beyond just “how to do” this or that.

  2. The Informer. This segment of influencers is focused on sharing knowledge. They fill the gaps left by traditional experts who either haven’t moved over to using social media or don’t come across as genuine enough in our new media world.

    If you’re willing to agree that gossip news is “information,” Perez Hilton became famous in the role of Informer. The Hollywood entertainment and gossip rags weren’t on social media when he emerged. He filled the gap. Similarly, a Robert Scoble and Leo LaPorte filled the gap for technology-minded audiences on social networks when executives or experts at Sun, Oracle, HP, Apple, and others were treating social media as a fad.

    Most of the contributors to MarketingProfs, including me, fall into this category.

  3. The Entertainer. As you would expect, entertaining influencers see themselves as providing, “amusement, enjoyment, and relaxation,” to their audiences. They give their fans a good time with humor, drama, music, art, or just peeks into their daily lives, often with a personal touch. The research also points out that although they may seem like one person who is really engaging, they often have teams of people behind the scenes helping them to create high-level content.

    If you don’t buy the gossip as “information” assertion, Perez Hilton belongs here. But these are going to be people like one of my favorite influencers, Tiffany Mitchell (Tifforelie). She shares a lot of her personal life and inspires people with her style and design, but she isn’t really a provider of how-to-type content.

  4. The Infotainer. The cross between the informer and entertaining is perhaps the biggest and most powerful type of influencer for mass consumers. These people are generally well-read experts in their domain; however, the entertainment value of their content takes precedence. It’s one thing for Vintage Revivals blogger Mandi Gubler to give people the steps she used to create her niece’s nursery; it’s another to produce awesome videos of the reveal, creating an entertaining experience.

Keep in mind that these are four very broad categories. There have almost always been gray areas. An informer can also be entertaining, or a snooper can become an informer. But categorizing the types of influencers you’re working with, and understanding the differences, can help you optimize your influencer campaigns.

How Categories of Influencers Help Your Brand

The primary reason you should understand and categorize your influencers in some way, even if not the four that Gross and von Wangenheim developed, is that your decision-making will be more informed.

Categorized influencers mean…

  • Your requests for content will be more suitable. Giving Entertainers a bunch of how-to content ideas will simply get them, and their audiences, lost. That’s not what they do, nor is it why people follow them.
  • Your calls to action will be more effective. Expecting Snoopers to convince people to download your whitepaper on transactional efficiency in financial software won’t work. Having them ask their followers to follow you on LinkedIn because you provide great tips on using financial software might.
  • Your expectations for their impact on your KPIs will be better managed. Entertainment-driven influencers should be expected to entertain. The clickthrough rates and conversions you can expect from them won’t be as high as from Informers, who can add “Check out Company X’s helpful guide” to the end of their to-do list for a certain project.

Categorize Your Influencers Your Way

However you divide your influencers, add a layer based on the types of content they provide and audiences they engage. Doing so helps you pick the right influencers for the right types of messaging and activities you’re executing. It also helps you pick the right types of content either they or you create to execute.

And, in the end, categorizing your influencers by content types and audiences helps whatever success metric you’re trying to drive turn out better than if you didn’t.

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Get Ready: Marketing Automation Integration Will Impact Your 2020 Strategy

By now, every marketer knows that marketing automation makes tasks, processes, and campaigns faster and more efficient. And nobody will argue that when marketing channels are integrated and automated, campaigns deliver stronger results.

That’s one reason agencies and marketing teams are looking to attain stronger growth through marketing automation integration. Another driver, at least for US agencies, is that agency revenue is realizing modest growth these days, at 1.7%, according to the AdAge Agency Report 2019.

But agencies don’t operate in a vacuum. After all, they wouldn’t exist without clients. As marketing automation moves to the top of the priority list for agencies to better service their clients and boost the bottom line, the real question is whether the effort will pay off, what metrics should be used to gauge success, and when to expect an ROI.

A recent survey by GetResponse and Ascend2 took a closer look at the state of marketing automation integration at marketing agencies.

Here are the key takeaways, including how it will impact your 2020 planning, whether you’re at an agency or part of an internal marketing team.

Five Takeaways and Recommended Marketing Actions

1. Marketing automation integration is being embraced by an overwhelming majority of marketers today. Fully 92% of agencies are investing more time, resources, and budget into marketing automation integration. The top 3 objectives behind this shift are to improve campaign effectiveness, improve quality lead generation, and build stronger alignment between Marketing and Sales.

Action: Marketers should evaluate their current strategy and progress in marketing automation integration. Whether the effort is run in-house or through an agency, it’s clear that those organizations that aren’t currently embracing marketing automation are at risk of being left behind and overthrown by the competition.

2. These are the three most important factors in choosing a marketing automation system to integrate: analytics and reporting, ease of use/learning curve, and total cost.

Action: These priorities make sense, especially when you consider factors such as the ubiquity of reporting tools and the rise of in-house agencies. Based on the data, one can infer that agencies are striving to master analytics and present more comprehensive, yet simple-to-follow campaign reports and are willing to make the necessary investments to do it.

3. These are the three most important metrics for measuring the benefits of a marketing automation integration effort: revenue generated, customers acquired, and conversion rates. Those metrics are followed by Marketing-qualified leads, Sales-accepted leads, cost per lead generated, and open and click rates.

Action: Marketers continue to be driven by numbers and demonstrable ROI for their efforts. Though branding and awareness marketing campaigns still play a critical, strategic role, when it comes to marketing automation, marketers are keenly focused on drilling down into the numbers behind every action. It won’t be a surprise when agencies and marketers that can present and defend their numbers gain a clear advantage when negotiating and planning their 2020 budgets.

4. There is a gap between expectations and reality when it comes to the time it takes to realize the benefits of marketing automation integration. According to the survey, 49% of agency marketers say 6-12 months is a reasonable timeframe for realizing the benefits, whereas 42% say they should see results in six months or less.

Action: When you consider that most agency contracts are renewed on an annual basis, one could argue that agencies should be even more driven to accelerate their integration efforts. For marketers working with agencies, now is the time to get a realistic understanding of the automation process and delivery dates. Based on the information and timeline, build in small projects to gauge progress to date and consider incentives and the addition of resources to shorten deadlines without compromising quality.

5. To accelerate marketing automation integration, agencies are relying on a combination of in-house resources and outside consultants. The survey found that introducing and optimizing marketing automation into an overall strategy can be a time-consuming endeavor. Which is why most survey respondents, 64%, say that it’s most effective to use a combination of outsourced specialists and in-house resources to tackle the effort.

Action: Based on the survey results, one can infer that there will be a growing demand for experts that can accelerate the integration of marketing automation solutions. Further, marketing agencies and in-house teams are also more likely to invest in solutions that are fully integrated so they can realize even faster cycles for revenue generation and customer acquisition and conversion.

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It’s clear that marketing automation integration will remain a top priority for marketers, especially as they plan for 2020. Marketers who aren’t already on board can look to their agency partners to accelerate the path yet need to embrace marketing automation integration or risk obsolescence.

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Five Tips on How to Use Influencer Content in Paid Media [Infographic]

Influencers you work with can create some amazing content for your marketing campaigns. But what happens to that content after your campaign is over?

Marketers who use influencer marketing as a tactic are repurposing that content in their other paid media, such as display and programmatic advertising, according to Linqia.

An infographic by the influencer marketing platform claims using influencer content in paid media has outperformed branded content by up to 266% in clickthrough rate.

So how do you take influencer’s social media content and turn it into programmatic creative? The infographic offers five tips for using influencer-generated in your advertising.

Check it out:

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