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Navigating Through the Noise of Big Data

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Navigating Through the Noise of Big Data

Marketing teams all over the world are being tasked with meeting increasingly higher customer outreach goals yet industry data for the last five years show the percentage of marketing representatives hitting their numbers has plateaued. That’s even after accounting for the recovery from the great recession. At the same time, marketers and sales people are being inundated with endless noise and chatter from news sites, analyst reports, Twitter feeds and blog posts. Trying to decipher any meaningful insight about customers, prospects or markets can leave little time for actual interaction.

Tools for conducting business analytics to cut through big data noise do exist but until recently have required “braniac” data scientists to use, but that is slowly changing. Personal business analytics are making their way to the front line of sales, providing access to the exact information they need to drive intelligent conversations with key prospects to help meet ambitious revenue goals.

Focusing on Relevant Content

Time spent on account research and demand generation is, on average, taking up one-fifth of a person’s workweek. Many companies are just starting to use business analytics to help their marketing and sales teams identify how customers will react at certain conversion points in their customer revenue cycle. These insights are typically derived from mining data collected in their CRM, ERP, customer support and other internal information systems as well as unstructured data from the Business Web. In doing a peer group analysis of existing customers, they are able to generate a profile of what a highly qualified prospective customer actually looks like.

Relevant analytics to focus on include

  • Specific vertical opportunities and industry shifts
  • Identifying real-time risks and opportunities that your solutions match
  • Building strategy around changing characteristics of your customers and markets
  • Competitor activity and strategies

If packaged and presented properly, technology can act as a digital research assistant by showing the opportunities to pursue and the insights needed to develop effective and strategic marketing or sales plans.

Maintaining Strategic Outreach

Customers today can get a wealth of information about a vendor’s products or services via a variety of online options including your web site, your competitor’s site, reading analyst blogs, joining networking groups within social media services such as LinkedIn, and more. They also have high expectations for customer engagement by demanding that it delivers value at every interaction with them in order to win their business.

The messaging many hyper-growth companies use is no longer centered on the product they sell, but rather on understanding trending business issues, why those problems exist, and how to have the best solution to effectively deal with those issues. For example, it’s especially important for B2B sales teams to identify real-time deep insights on their customers’ business expansions and exits in order to align with that customers present and future needs.

Being effective at this, and being seen as a solution consultant, can significantly increase lead conversion rates and increase customer retention. By aligning solutions with real customer needs, marketers can deliver to their sales teams valuable tools that will enable them to have strategic conversations with their executive buyers, leading to shorter sales cycles and bigger deals. 

In Practice

Even though business intelligence has been readily available across many functional teams in the past, it has not been fully optimized in support of sales driven activities. If a marketer wanted to gather insight about emerging technologies, industry trends, or competitive moves, they typically had to reach out to a small internal analyst team for help, search a broad internal library, or perform their own searches on the internet. Today, when the entire team can easily access and understand their targeted customer, they can be more effective at achieving overall revenue growth.

By weeding out the influx of unnecessary data and maintaining focus on the relevant emerging customer trends and information, teams are now able to access business intelligence more efficiently and effectively- regardless of when and where they need it. A company’s effectiveness at helping their marketing and sales teams bridge their product expertise to become new business problem solvers is going to be what dictates whom the market leaders are.

Click here for more blogs and research from IDG Connect 

Why Giants Aren’t Always What They Seem

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Why Giants Aren’t Always What They Seem

Success in today’s marketplace hinges on innovation. Behemoth enterprises know that in order to stay competitive they need to constantly diversify and improve on their offerings. They need to harness the latest and greatest technologies – but these technologies can’t be made in these large companies’ labs. 

The new technologies are being built in incubators and startups at lightning speeds. Currently, there are 940 vendors in the marketing technology space offering innovative, disruptive solutions, and a lot of consolidation has already taken place here. The giants are relying on the little guys to drive innovation, which is why these small and mid-sized businesses are so important.

Innovation is moving downstream, and with it, marketing automation. In its 2014 Marketing Automation BuyerView, technology guidance firm Software Advice found that 50% of all businesses interested in marketing automation were in the SMB space, and that 90% were considering the technology for the very first time. Similarly, Forrester Research’s most recent Wave report pointed to several vendors who had already taken notice of this windfall, and had developed platforms specific to the small to mid-market consumer.

The lesson to be learned in all this is a simple one: businesses today are looking to move beyond the monolithic, enterprise-level suites of old, toward smaller, smarter, more flexible marketing solutions. In other words, bigger really isn’t better, and the giants of past eras aren’t nearly as gigantic as they once seemed.

For proof of this point, we need only consider the following facts. The marketing automation industry has grown by 50% annually for a number of years now, but has managed only to penetrate a mere 3% of non-tech companies in the mid-market. This leaves open a segment opportunity worth up to $8bn, and yet it is often passed over.

The few businesses that have been savvy enough to tap into this space have reaped tremendous rewards as a result. Act-On, for instance, has garnered 2100 customers across verticals like finance, insurance, agriculture, and manufacturing. Better still, the deals they’ve won have largely been noncompetitive, and from companies that were familiar with marketing automation already but unsure as to what solutions to choose.

More importantly, a great deal of innovation has already taken place at the mid-market level for this one reason: the more modern their marketing techniques are, the better chance small businesses have of competing against larger peers.

As Forrester notes in its recent Wave report, the B2B space for marketing automation is tipped to explode in the coming year, and will likely be driven by small, tech startups; slightly more than 50% of companies in this space already use automated lead-to-revenue management platforms to fuel sales pipelines, improve process maturity, and improve collaboration between sales and marketing. And it won’t be long before others follow suit.

All signs tell us that the days of marketing giants have come and gone. The future of marketing automation will be shaped by the plucky, ever-agile small and mid-market players.

For more blogs and research from IDG Connect, click here

Irrelevant Digital Content Impacts B2B Vendors in US & UK

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Irrelevant Digital Content Impacts B2B Vendors in US & UK

By Jessica Maxwell

We recently completed research that looked at how irrelevant content impacts B2B vendors’ bottom lines. We did two separate surveys that were based on technology buyers who had actively made a purchase decision in the last 12 to 18 months; one was to a US audience and one was to a UK audience.

Despite how different these two regions are, we were surprised to see that the results were extremely similar for every question we asked. Content is irrelevant in both of these markets, and no one is happy about it.

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Here is an infographic view of the US and UK comparison:

irrelevant digital content impacts B2B Irrelevant Digital Content Impacts B2B Vendors in US & UK

For more blogs and research from IDG Connect, click here 

How is Wearable Tech Progressing?

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 How is Wearable Tech Progressing?

There are a lot of joggers along the Thames near to where I live. These normally emerge with the sunshine and come in many guises. Yet a particular hazard of the west London location is numerous, rather daring examples, of the latest kit. The most ludicrous specimen of this type caught my attention recently in a shape of a middle aged gentleman decked out in fully matching green vest ‘n’ shorts combo, neatly accessorised with a gloriously outsized smartwatch. 

The analysts at Beecham Research forecast that the wearable tech market is currently on course to be worth $3 billion by 2018. However, the firm believes that if the market can take a true ‘multidisciplinary’ approach, it could be worth more than three times that, at $9.3 billion. And the main answer? Collaborations with fashion.

In fact, its latest report is co-authored between fashion tech analyst, Claire Duke-Wooley and principal analyst, Saverio Romeo and takes the view that “tech alone” will not drive the success of these devices. 

“We don’t like buying things that people tell us we need,” says Duke-Wooley. We buy things because we like the design of them. This is innate within consumers and something that the fashion industry understands really well. She believes in the future, technology companies will need to collaborate with fashion companies at the conception stage in order to create something that works really well in the marketplace. Naturally the example of the iPhone, a beautiful piece of design that nobody knew they wanted till they had it, is raised.

Nigel Beighton, VP of Technology at Rackspace, agrees: “Fashion is an important element that is being missed at the moment in the wearable market. People don’t wear glasses anymore because contacts are more fashionable, and watches have been replaced with mobiles that fit the pocket rather than on our wrist. Simply put, you can give me all the communication in the world, but if it does not look good I am not going to use it”.

There is some evidence this trend is gradually starting to place. Beecham research points to the new Withings Activité smartwatch, which blends Swiss watchmaking with Parisian design.  Then there is Ringly smart jewellery, which doesn’t look like it contains any technology at all. This is on top of all the developments in smart clothing and textiles, led by companies like CuteCircuit,Wearable Experiments and Studio XO. Yet as Beecham points out in the press release, this has still not moved “beyond the couture end of the market”.

Saverio Romeo stresses wearable tech is part of the Internet of Everything. This itself has many associated tech hurdles and Beighton lists the following areas that need to be addressed “for wearables to be the success that everyone wants them to be”:

“Our networks are already highly congested, so much so that even mobile phones struggle to get 3G or 4G everywhere. [On top of this] the internet wasn’t built for millions of things to be mobile and connected, so adding 1000-fold more devices is going to be incredibly challenging. It will happen as the infrastructure gets better but it’s not one year away, it is more likely to be five, maybe ten years”.

“Wearable technology has a high dependence on cloud services and it needs more communication than we currently have on mobile phones,” he continues. “If I walked into a room with Google Glass, I would want it to tell me who everyone is and where we’ve met before, and it is the cloud that will power the big data stores that we need”.

Continue reading…

B2B Marketing Technology Spend 2014

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 B2B Marketing Technology Spend 2014

QEDbaton’s B2B Marketing Technology Spend Report 2014 gives an overview of the latest trends. When looking at customer-facing technologies, the report shows a migration of B2B marketers away from digital advertising and moving towards social media marketing. The offerings that marketers are investing more in are content marketing, sales enablement, events and webinars, and email marketing. When it comes to managing the marketing data, business intelligence is a getting bigger and bigger, as well as marketing analytics. These two categories are going to continue to see increases in investments. Another big trend that the report touched on was customer data platforms. This has been something that has been discussed a lot lately because as technology is advancing, customers want their experience to be completely customized for them with real-time information. As technology continues to expand, these marketing tactics will expand too and the challenges for marketers to keep up with demands will increase.

B2B Video Marketing

According to Demand Metrics’s B2B Video Marketing report, 69% of B2B professionals have used video for B2B marketing purposes. 31% of B2B professionals have not begun to use video in their marketing strategies, but are planning to do so in the future. The most important video marketing objectives were to increase brand awareness, increase lead generation, and increase online engagement. Although video is becoming a bigger priority for marketers, still only 15% feel that they are very successful, but 67% feel they are somewhat successful, which is a good step. The reasons for marketers not being very successful could be because of some of the obstacles that they face, such as lack of budget, lack of in-house resources, and creating compelling content. The use of video is still somewhat new, and it’s only going to continue to grow over time. Marketers will get better with it as time goes on and they are able to test new strategies.

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Enough with Random Acts of Content

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Enough with Random Acts of Content

By Bob Jonhson

About six years ago I began using the phrase “random acts of content.” Imagine that when you fast forward to today we are still stuck in a rut without the ability to be methodical. We still use what I call a “cover the waterfront” mentality with our content assets. That means they try to cover too much ground such as multiple buying stages, decision roles or audience segments.  This makes it far more difficult to discover several things:

  • How a buyers content consumption reveals the current stage of the decision process
  • What particular role a buyer plays in the process
  • What their primary hot button is if it is technical, financial, or business impact
  • What value propositions are most motivating to them

So, you are left with a demographic approach to nurturing, that is, based on their registration or profile information rather than what they are most interested in. This simply does not enable nurturing which must focus on what is most relevant to that individual with sufficient focus.  So who in your organization is going to step up to this?

I had over thirty recent meetings where I asked the sales and marketing people if the current challenge is to fill the funnel or move the buyer through it. One person said both, one new business unit head said fill it, and everyone else said move the buyer through it.  So, why are so many doing nothing about it except buying more lists, sending out more emails, talking about marketing qualified and sales qualified leads and creating false thresholds of time or number of assets downloaded to determine lead viability and when to push them to partner or direct sales.

The keys to nurture is to break up your content into what can be chunked effectively to the buyer  based on preferences, needs and buying stage. In each asset, call out what stage it is for as well as role and interest.  If you open an asset with something like “While you build your shortlist of finalists…” you immediately tell the buyer what stage the asset intends to aid. But just stick to a single stage in any given asset and for the later stages where you most likely have gaps, take shortened versions of earlier stage assets and pull out the elements that address members of the larger buying teams who are likely from the lines of business, finance and operations. Smarter and more concise content reduces a tendency towards randomness. Then, you can nurture more effectively and better gauge where a buyer is in the decision process.

 For more blogs and research from IDG Connect, click here

5 Ways to Speed up Your Website

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 5 Ways to Speed up Your Website

It’s no secret that in the 25 years of the web’s existence, we’ve become increasingly impatient. What used to be the 10-second rule of performance in 1997 has rapidly shrunk from eight, to four, to threeseconds. Now, at the first sign of inconsistency, most of us will decide that a site can’t deliver the experience we want. And, as we have little charity for poor-performing applications, we then disappear. Forever.

Our impatience isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We simply know now what is possible from the applications that are successfully being served up on the web. Sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, Airbnb, Dropbox, Netflix, serve up some of the most popular applications on the web without compromising on performance. As discerning users, we naturally wonder why these sites can accomplish this feat while others seemingly cannot.

The answer? They use an application delivery toolkit to serve their performance hungry users. And not in the way you might think.

Application Toolkits

Many people may be familiar with high-performance webservers for handling the never-ending growth of inbound connections. That’s great—but they can actually do much more. The more sophisticated sites mentioned above, for example, are using the combination of features in high performance webservers and proxies as an application acceleration toolkit.

There is no single “silver bullet” when it comes to increasing performance and improving the end-user experience. But here are five key reasons why application acceleration toolkits work:

1.    Enhance the power of your existing front end
By off-loading the heavy lifting of HTTP from your app servers, you increase your capacity for handling inbound, concurrent traffic—giving you greater efficiency and performance.

2.    Intelligently route traffic to the appropriate back-end resource pools
Every server need not be the same. You can specialize; tune some servers for fast content delivery without authentication; tune others for high-security transaction processing. Route each request to the appropriate resource pool and get responses back to the client without delays. This technique alone can greatly improve performance as well as security.

3.    Load-balance traffic within pools of servers
Many load-balancing disciplines— which allow traffic to spread evenly between servers—are available that will allow you to disperse traffic across multitudes of servers and pools of resources. Again, this improves performance—as well as availability.

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Track Your Brand Performance in New B2B Markets

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Track Your Brand Performance in New B2B Markets

By Bob Johnson

The Value in Knowing the Good the Bad and the Opportunity

Imagine your company is entering a new market with a new offering. No doubt you ask yourself certain questions prior to entry, but a bigger question is what will you ask buyers in that market periodically after the initial launch? My observation is that too few companies ask critical questions until it’s too late for significant course corrections. I wonder out loud if it is that they prefer not to know, or don’t know what to ask.

No doubt you’ve done your pre-launch homework. But I’ll restate the three most important question across a range of areas so you have all the information in one place:

Where to Target

  1. What target audience is most involved in buying your offering?
  2. What functional areas of the business have involvement in the buying decision?
  3. What degree of influence do those functional areas have in making a choice?

What to Say

  1. What value propositions is the overall audience most interested in that matches their needs?
  2. How do the value propositions vary by audience segment in terms of functions, roles (decision maker vs. recommender) and focus (technical, financial, business)?
  3. How do key topics surround your offering and which are most important?

Where and How to Say It

  1. What content types and formats do your prospects prefer and rely on during each buying stage?
  2. What are your competitors using today for types, formats and messages and what gaps do they have that you can expose to speed interest and penetration?
  3. What sources do they rely on for purchase related information such as you, third parties or peers?

So, you launch and you promote and you begin to fill the top end of the funnel. Competitors react and you amplify, accelerate and do all that you can to build awareness, interest and pipeline. But do you track on a quarterly or periodical basis how you’re doing in terms of awareness, interest and perception?

Speaking with multiple agencies that represent vendors entering new markets there appears a predisposition to not ask the obvious questions beyond looking at funnel and pipeline. Could it be because brand managers are hesitant to know too much too soon? This confuses me, as there is so much that can be done to fine tune your market entry by such tracking.

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Infographic: Are You Concerned About Your Online Identity?

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Infographic: Are You Concerned About Your Online Identity?

Are you concerned about your online identity? Check out this infographic for research on digital privacy:

online identity infographic Infographic: Are You Concerned About Your Online Identity?

Top Tips: How to Engage Customers on the Go

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Top Tips: How to Engage Customers on the Go

Anthony Wilkey

The way consumers access and interact with content on mobile devices has evolved considerably over the last five years. Indeed, recent figures suggest that by 2019, global smartphone penetration will have exploded to 60%, from the 25-30% it is today. The prevalence of smartphone and tablet use by today’s consumer makes mobile a key channel for marketers to employ, engage and interact with their audience.

In my experience, these five tips are essential to make the most of a mobile marketing campaign:

Get into a mobile state of mind

Just as data is critical for fuelling relevant and engaging campaigns, it is equally critical for marketers to understand the driving factors behind their customers’ mobile mind-set when developing mobile marketing strategies and campaigns. Knowing how subscribers engage with their devices (and marketing channels) and when, will help to create a positive customer experience for those on the go, on their couch, or at their desk.

Optimise your content

As strategies are established, it is important to make sure campaigns are optimised for mobile phones or tablets. If email, web pages or forms are hard to view or slow to load, it will be difficult and often impossible to keep visitors engaged – especially if the information isn’t relevant or of value to them.

Test campaigns, reap the rewards

Testing campaigns in their mobile state can identify which campaign elements are performing well, and which may need tweaking. Use the findings to your advantage. For example, if it is found that most mobile users will access their device during their commute at 8am – why not use this information and inject it into future campaigns and make sure to send a compelling and relevant email when they are most likely to see it, read it and respond to it?

Create a consistent, customer-friendly experience

When bringing a mobile, multi-channel strategy to life, it is important to consider the broader customer experience. Understanding when and how to connect with your mobile customers includes considering the experience your customers will have on their mobile devices across your marketing channels. Is everything you’re developing mobile friendly? To connect with customers, brands should look to create an all-encompassing, consistent and emotional experience from the outset, at all stages of the customer lifecycle.

Use mobile to build on a traditional marketing approach


With the help of modern marketing technology, brands have the opportunity to engage customers with one-to-one personalised, real-time messages. But rather than replace traditional strategies entirely with new online and mobile channels, marketers should consider building on their marketing foundations and extending these offers across the channels with which they engage. It is important to recognise that mobile experiences are one part of a multi-channel marketing approach that is continually evolving. As part of an integrated strategy, it has the ability to complement a brand and become a cornerstone of marketing efforts.

For more blogs and research from IDG Connect, click here