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5 Measurement Pitfalls to Avoid

Mashable

Say your goal is to increase the number of customers you serve each day. Perhaps you run a city office processing food stamp applications, or maybe you’re offering technical support for your company’s product. How many customers do you serve online, in person and over the phone? What’s the average time to resolve a problem in each of these channels? Which types of customer requests take the longest, and which can be handled expediently?

If you can’t answer these questions, you’re setting yourself up for failure before you even begin to try.

Data-driven decision making is a way of life these days, from city hall to the corporate boardroom. If you have the numbers to dictate a course of action, the thinking goes, why would you use your heart or your mind? But in the quest to back up every move with cold, hard data, it can be easy to mistake any old numbers for useful numbers. Not all data is created equal, and the best way to ensure you’ll be collecting the right data is to develop the right set of performance metrics.

So how do you decide which metrics will help you and which will just distract you from the central issues? Here are five common mistakes people make when dealing with data, and some tips to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Just having metrics is enough

It’s true that measuring a little bit is better than measuring nothing. But too many people are satisfied upon merely being able to utter the word “metrics” to a supervisor, and too many supervisors assume that if their team is counting anything at all, they must be doing something right.

Data is only useful if it allows you to measure and manage performance quality. This means it’s not necessarily as important for, say, the Buildings Department to count how many buildings passed inspection as it is for it to know the types of citations that caused them to fail, the number of inspections each inspector completed in one day, and how many buildings corrected their violations within one or two months of initial inspection. This richer set of data will reveal inefficiencies in the inspection process and allow the department to work toward better safety standards.

Mistake #2: The more metrics, the better

A common misconception is that if something can be counted, it should be counted. I’ve made the mistake of laying out tabs and tabs of metrics on a spreadsheet, only to find that the effort required to collect the data is a drain on not only my time, but the time of the people assigned to carry out the very work we’re trying to measure.

You never want your performance monitoring to be so onerous that it actually hinders performance itself. When coming up with a set of metrics, it helps to start by brainstorming everything you could possibly measure, then prioritizing the top 10 indicators that will yield the most critical information about your program. Start with a manageable load, and gradually add more — as long as the effort required to collect the data will pay for itself in useful observations and opportunities for improvement.

Mistake #3: Value judgments should be assigned to volumes

On the surface, it may seem intuitive that more calls answered is better than fewer calls answered. But imagine that in order to squeeze in an extra five calls an hour, the quality of each call is compromised. Less information is gathered, and fewer issues are addressed. Callers aren’t satisfied with the first call, so they call a second or a third time, further increasing your call numbers but taking up extra time and failing to address the reasons why the calls are coming in the first place. Perhaps calls that last a minute longer but more adequately address the caller’s questions end up preventing repeat calls, thus rendering the more-equals-better line of thinking not just mistaken, but backwards.

It’s also important to realize that many metrics, when counted as absolute numbers,aren’t particularly helpful. Without context, a number is more or less meaningless. Any numerator deserves a denominator, and pure numbers should be represented as a percentage of the total. For example, moving 1,000 homeless individuals off of the street and into temporary housing is laudable. But if the goal is to create housing for 20,000 homeless people, then it’s important to recognize that you’re only 5% of the way there.

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5 Tweaks to Your Website That Could Increase Sales 300%

Mashable

A company website is a must-have in today’s Internet-driven economy. But while most companies have a website, few use them to their full potential to drive sales and revenue. That’s a shame, because websites are often a major investment in terms of time and money, and they can be a lot of work to keep updated.

So if you aren’t maximizing the return on investment of your site, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Luckily, there are a few relatively simple updates you can make to your website that can have a huge impact on customer attraction and retention, sales, revenue and long-term brand loyalty. These steps don’t require hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment and can be implemented by small companies and multinational corporations alike.

There are five common areas that most company websites can improve upon and expect to see an immediate boost in revenue. Taken together, they have the potential to increase your revenue by 300% or more (depending, of course, on your industry, location and a variety of other factors).

1. Add video content

Consumers love video — and so should you. Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, so ditch the long-winded product descriptions and opt for dynamic video content visitors can engage with on your website. Videos on your landing page can increase conversion rates by 86%, and 44% of customers purchase more products on sites that provide informational videos — and these numbers are only rising.

Customers also tend to stay longer on sites with videos, and even better — they are more likely to return. Engaging product videos, customer testimonials and even tours of your work space can help increase conversions.

Potential opportunity: Up to 86% increase in sales

2. Go global and multicultural

The global economic potential of online communication totals $45 trillion. But if your site only offers content in English, you miss out on a whopping two-thirds of that market potential. Making your website available for multilingual — and multicultural — audiences will help you reach a much bigger slice of the pie, improving your overall market potential by as much as 200%.

Choose a translation management system that integrates into your site; it’s much more efficient than manual translations, which often require time-consuming email communications with translators. New translation tools make it easy to roll out and maintain translated websites for the long-term.

Beyond translation, it’s important to be sensitive to the different cultural norms of your markets. Make sure you don’t make the same blunders as companies like Pepsi, whose light-blue branding alienated an entire market of consumers who associated the color with death. By preparing your site with localized content, you open a world of new opportunities to your business — literally.

Potential opportunity: Up to 200% increase in sales

3. Prevent downtime

On Cyber Monday, Amazon sold 36.8 million items worldwide. Minutes of downtime could have cost the company a big chunk of change. Same goes for your site. If it isn’t loading fast enough, you can lose customers before they even get a glimpse of your content and products. In fact, 57% of visitors abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. It’s important that your website is resilient and scales to meet demand, since 24% of people cite downtime as the reason they abandoned their shopping carts.

Improving your site’s scalability will prevent slow load-times and downtime, ultimately keeping more customers on your website and driving more purchases. Make sure to build your website on an elastic cloud platform that maintains your content and application quality, even when major traffic surges hit. And make sure to frequently test out your page speed on Google.

Potential opportunity: 24% increase in sales

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Price & Big Data for Marketers

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Price & Big Data for Marketers

Marketers have a wide choice of new software solutions that can help them be more productive, including automated lead-generation systems, customer tracking and social media tools. However, when it comes to leveraging big data to enhance revenue and profits, marketing professionals often overlook one of the classic four pillars of the marketing mix—price.  Yet those marketing executives who learn to harness the wealth of big data they already possess can gain substantial advantages and outperform their markets. 

While the marketing function in global businesses is often responsible for setting list prices for products and services, few marketers excel at the task. For distributors and retailers, this can mean a constant struggle to manage prices for thousands of SKUs, as well as associated discounts and promotions. Those suggested list prices can also be discounted during the sales process to close deals and maintain customer relationships.

Unfortunately, there is an unequal balance of power in the battle to maintain prices and margins in today’s highly competitive global marketplace.  That’s because marketing and sales teams frequently don’t utilise the kind of big data tools and insights their customers’ procurement departments possess when negotiating prices and contracts.

By adopting big data solutions to look across internal ERP and CRM data, as well as external marketplace information, you can free your marketing and sales functions from time-consuming, manual spreadsheet updates and other inefficient pricing practices. Analytical tools can efficiently process vast amounts of data to identify customer segments and provide insights into specific customer buying behaviours. Using information this way can also identify the key drivers or variables that influence buyers, and determine their willingness to pay a certain price for a given set of products and services.

As a result, you can begin to harmonise pricing practices across your organisation and align marketing and sales resources to achieve strategic as well as tactical goals. Instead of constantly reacting to price changes in the marketplace, you can test various marketing scenarios and take a more proactive approach to decisions. Harnessing the knowledge locked in your big data translates into the power to price more efficiently and profitably.

Let me offer an example. A global chemical company based in Europe was able to analyse and interpret available internal data, as well as external marketing information. With these combined resources, the organisation integrated pricing and competitive and transactional data in one centralised location.   

The chemical company gained immediate value. By allowing the company to organise incoming data and identify key customer segments, they found 10 key value-based customer-behaviour drivers. Collecting this vast amount of data from various sources and putting it together meant that the company could determine list prices, which they could adjust to help achieve strategic margin goals. In addition, big data enables the company to execute more informed pricing decisions in conjunction with field sales operations, providing specific pricing guidance during contract negotiations. None of this would be possible using traditional pricing and sales methods that frequently rely on outdated, manual spreadsheets.

Today, marketing and sales executives can use pricing technology solutions to simulate pricing and promotion campaigns as a predictive tool. Exploring and then choosing optimum pricing strategies, marketing and sales professionals can execute their campaigns then monitor and measure the results by regional markets, individual sales people and customer accounts.

In the case of our global chemical company, a pricing initiative led by marketing and sales executives established a new process for setting prices that incorporated a wide range of variables, including product bundling, freight and handling costs, payment terms, discounts and rebates, and exchange rates across global markets. The pricing project identified more than USD $20 million of potential revenue uplift within the first quarter of implementing its big data analysis. 

Given the growing complexity and competitive nature of global markets today, marketing and sales executives owe it to themselves and their companies to learn how to exploit the potential of big data in making better pricing and business decisions. The right tools and opportunities exist today. Those who act now will reap the rewards.

Click here to see more blogs and research from IDG Connect

8 Tips and Tricks for LinkedIn Power Users

Mashable

You have hundreds of connections, stacks of skills and endorsements, a killer review of your experience and a flattering but professional headshot. Your LinkedIn profile is all set up for some seriously productive networking, and you’re ready to build up your brand online as you climb the ladder of success.

But don’t you wish you could get a little bit more out of LinkedIn? While having an extensive network is a big advantage, there several little things you can do to help make the most of the website — and a lot of them are free.

Here are eight ways to get a leg up on the LinkedIn competition.

1. Request to connect through search instead of the profile button.

When you send connection requests through the Connect button on someone’s profile, you have to prove you know them through a mutually listed company or school. To skip that step, just search for the person you want to connect with, and use the Connect button next to her name to immediately send the invitation.

2. Set up anonymous profile viewing to explore the network fearlessly.

Whether it’s an old college rival or your new boss, it’s natural to want to delve a little deeper into someone’s professional past. However, LinkedIn’s default settings notify users when someone looks at their profiles.

The first concern is coming off as creepy, but if you’re using LinkedIn to vet potential hires or recruiters, you may not want them to know what you’re doing. Luckily, there’s an easy fix to limit or remove all identifying information from your visit, so the people whose profiles you view won’t knew you were there.

The one caveat is forfeiting your ability to see who views your profile (if you have a basic account), but it’s a small sacrifice for searching in secrecy.

3. Use advanced searches to hone in on the best jobs and candidates.

Whether you’re a recruiter looking for the perfect person for an opening at your company, or you’re just someone looking for a new gig, a basic search might not yield the best results. While LinkedIn offers several paid upgrades that give you special tools for this, an advanced search can help you filter through a slew of postings and connections.

The paid upgrades give you deeper filters and streamline the process, but the free ones are a great first step toward a successful search.

4. Import your email contacts as connections.

If you’ve been using LinkedIn long enough, chances are you’ve connected with most people you’ve done business with by now. That said, searching through your email contacts is a great way to find anyone who might have slipped your mind or works in a different industry than they did before.

It may not make a huge difference right away, but all it takes is one message to start a big business move, whether it’s a new job or a major partnership.

5. Make sure your profile reflects your current work and aspirations.

Keeping your profile updated might not be at the top of your to-do list, but it’s helpful to clear out the cobwebs and keep the information fresh. You shouldn’t need to make major changes to the experience and education sections, but consistently updating your work portfolio will keep connections updated on what you’ve been doing recently.

While this is mainly useful for those in media, graphic design and other industries that often value work samples over resumes, it can also highlight a specific interest or specialty you want to parlay into a new job.

6. Take advantage of groups.

While connecting with people you don’t know is against LinkedIn’s rules, joining groups of users with similar experiences, jobs and interests is a great way to reach more people and resources. There are groups for colleges, industries, professional organizations, companies and common interests, and being part of these groups allows you search and filter through them with an upgraded account.

Each group has a page with an open forum and job board, helping those within the group help each other. Also, group memberships appear on your public profile by default, which will help connections see what you do beyond your listed experience.

7. Ask connections to leave you recommendations.

Letters of recommendation can make or break a job application, and LinkedIn allows users to recommend each other’s work at specific companies and organizations. While it might be awkward to ask at first, these recommendations add immediate credibility and depth to your experience. And beyond it’s content, the recommendation shows that people actually like you enough to say nice things about you for everyone to see.

8. Save job searches and receive email alerts.

If you’re looking for a new gig, you can save job searches on LinkedIn and get email updates daily, weekly or monthly. This is a great way of making the site work for you, as you look for work yourself.

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Seeking funding? Here are 10 investors in India you should meet

Tech in Asia

We have seen investments into Indian tech startups on an upswing recently, topping US$1.3 billion in FY2013-14 and accounting for 266 deals. We’re getting close to a deal a day. In fact, the first quarter of 2014 had a multi-year high of $427 million. While ecommerce took the lion’s share, online travel and educational tech also attracted increasing interest from investors.

This is a continuation of a trend over the past five years. Between 2010 and 2013, more than US$3 billion flowed into India, which compares well with US$1.5 billion invested in Startup Nation Israel in the same period. This despite the fact that the Indian startup ecosystem is still not mature enough for big ticket exits, and over four-fifths of investment deals are early-stage.

So who are these early bird investors making big bets on Indian innovation? Who are the optimistic ones you should probably go to first if you’re a startup looking for funding in India?

Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups tops the list. It was the most active institutional investor in the Indian tech startup scene in 2013-14, making over 20 investments during the year, according to research firm CB Insights. Mumbai-based Blume Ventures was second, while Accel Partners rounds out the top three.

Four out of the top 10 ranked investors are based in India — Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital, IDG Ventures India, and Kae Capital. The others have their headquarters abroad, but most of them have a presence in India to keep track of emerging startups as well as their investments.

Here’s a rundown of the top 10 institutional investors who have been the most active in the Indian tech startup scene recently:

500 Startups

Dave McClure’s popular Silicon Valley based seed fund has been bullish on India, with a country-specific fund called 500 Wallah. It made as many as 20 investments in FY2013-14, into companies like price comparison site PriceBaba and language learning innovator CultureAlley. And it currently has three startups from India in the ninth batch of its accelerator program.

Blume Ventures

This Mumbai-based homegrown venture capital firm likes to take a collaborative approach to investing, roping in other investors and angels into the ventures it backs. Blumers they call themselves, but they have a number of successes under their belt. Cool startups like cab aggregator TaxiForSure and robot-maker Grey Orange are in the Blume basket.

Accel Partners

Investments in ecommerce biggie Flipkart and Myntra’s series E, as well as BabyOye’s US$12 million series B and real estate portal CommonFloor’s series C and D rounds, among others, made Accel Partners one of the movers and shakers in India in the last four quarters. Freshdesk and BookMyShow are among the many Indian stars this California-headquartered firm has backed.

Kalaari Capital

Technopreneur-turned-investor Vani Kola, who returned to India after a billion-dollar exit from Silicon Valley, is the managing director of this Bangalore-based venture capital firm which took a punt on Snapdeal and Myntra long before the ecommerce boom. Kalaari, which derives its name from a martial arts tradition in South India, continues to pick winners like Urban Ladder and Zivame. 

Tiger Global Management

This ‘Tiger Cub’ from New York has funded some of the tech pioneers in India like Flipkart, MakeMyTrip and JustDial. In fact, it was one of the early players in the Indian tech startup scene, before unexpectedly shutting shop in 2009, ostensibly because it did not find the scale it was looking for. But it has been back with a bang since 2011.

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Targeting Your Audience: Let’s Get Down to Data

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Targeting Your Audience: Let’s Get Down to Data

It’s the catch-22 that’s increasingly giving marketers a headache. Brits now spend 1 in 12 of their waking hours online, giving advertisers a greater chance of their ads being viewed. Yet at the same time, consumers are increasingly becoming switched off to online advertising because they’re being subjected to so many banner ads. So how can advertisers not only first grab the attention of their audience with an ad, but keep their attention right up to the point of purchase?

Casting the net too wide

With so many potential eyeballs online, many marketers are taking the simple route and opting for automation tools to scatter their display ads far and wide. Programmatic buying is one such tool. Just like a stock exchange, it relies on algorithms and automated systems to sift through great volumes of data and then bid for digital space on ad marketplaces in real-time. But by bucketing consumer data together and using broad, pre-packaged audience segments, marketers aren’t getting their ads in front of their desired audience every time. This means they’re wasting much of their digital ad spend by unintentionally displaying their ads in the wrong places.

Just because I’m a 20-something professional male doesn’t mean I’m in the market for a brand new sports car and so I’m unlikely to click through on a banner ad displayed on the web page I’m viewing. Marketers must remember that not every customer within an audience segment is the same, so they have to take a more targeted approach if they’re to stand a chance of increasing their conversion rates.

Pinpointing individuals

Marketers need to learn to treat their customers as individuals: not only tailoring their ad campaigns to their broad demographics, but also to their personal tastes and interests. Set algorithms are a good start, but marketers need to go deeper and use more granular-level targeting. By focusing on the quality, not quantity of consumer data, they will be empowered to segment audience groups down to an individual user level and target them more effectively.

Search Retargeting is a digital ad technique that uses an anonymous individual’s recent history on search engines likes Google, Yahoo! or Bing, or an on-site search box, to identify their intent to buy something. By then looking at the relationship between particular keyword phrases and other variables, like time lag between actions (recency), a relevant ad that corresponds to the user profile can be served.

This technique allows marketers to target people on a much deeper level. If marketers can serve consumers with ads that match up to their personal interests and recent search history, it will ramp up the chance of them clicking through and converting to a sale.

Making data more intelligent

Once you’ve boiled down your audience segments to an individual level, the next step is to decide when to target them. Ideally, you want to be serving them a display ad just before they make a purchase. Smart data and Search Retargeting are the perfect combination because they enable marketers to pin point consumers at the exact moment of purchasing intent. This method is far more likely to lead to a purchase because it allows marketers to intelligently deliver ads exactly when that individual is looking to buy.

Whilst the opportunity to get banner ads in front of an online audience is ever increasing, so too is the complexity of the ad-tech ecosystem. Savvy brands and agencies that act now and make smarter decisions about their consumer data will reap the rewards of increased conversion rates and improved ROI on each campaign.

For more blogs and research from IDG Connect, click here 

Are We Coming to the End of SEO?

Mashable

What are you hoping for when you search for something on Google?

Are you looking for a site that deployed every SEO tip and trick to game their way to the top of the list? Or a site that has relevant, reliable, authoritative content?

Most likely it is the latter, and it seems Google may want that too. If it happens to represent the antithesis of the results of good SEO, that’s just fine with Google. They don’t make a nickel on your optimized site and they are worried that users may become underwhelmed with their search results if the only links appearing above the fold are those not with the best content but with those deploying the most effective examples of chicanery we know as “SEO.”

When Google in 2013 stopped providing data about keyword popularity, this must have served as a shot across the bow of SEO. It signaled that Google wanted to put a damper on SEO because they had determined it was skewing the results in a way unhelpful to its users.

In the “old” days, SEO was a matter of stuffing your metatags with top keywords; then it became more complicated as Google continued to refine its search algorithm. The current state of SEO, in rather sober fashion, calls for “quality content,” no keyword stuffing, longevity of the domain, lack of duplicate content, a well-ordered site-map and other items more esoteric. Really, it’s become more about just building a great site with great (and focused) content. Phony inbound links are not supposed to cut it anymore, although sometimes this can slip by undetected.

SEO is a big industry. According to a site called State of Digital, 863 million websites mention SEO globally and every second 105 people search for SEO links on Google. Most of them seem to be looking for “services” or “companies,” which explains how there came to be so many SEO companies.

SEO is also an industry full of promises. Despite evidence to the contrary, many SEO mavens continue to insist they can fool the Google algorithm into getting your site – no matter what it is – higher in the rankings. That it is easy to see whether it works when you search for your own company makes it an appealing payoff. But the waters of SEO remain murky and it’s difficult to measure success of SEO in any meaningful way (in other words, even if you got to the top, did it improve your business or did you just accumulate a very high bounce rate?).

Now SEO may be going the way of Megalodon, a 100-foot shark rumored to exist but mostly accepted to have gone extinct a million years ago. If it isn’t functionally dead, it’s certainly in the sick-house. Google does not especially want the SEO industry playing games with its rankings, and what Google wants, especially in a case like this, Google gets.

Customers still ask for “top keyword” reports as if they have not read the news about the unavailability of it – perhaps because they believe that if you wish hard enough for a pony on Christmas, one will eventually find its way under the tree.

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Here’s How To Launch A Startup That Could Be Acquired By A Top Tech Company

Business Insider

I’ll start with one of my favorite thoughts, by Alex Haley in his essay “The Shadowland of Dreams”:

Many a young person tells me he wants to be a writer. I always encourage such people, but I also explain that there’s a big difference between “being a writer” and writing. In most cases these individuals are dreaming of wealth and fame, not the long hours alone at the typewriter. “You’ve got to want to write,” I say to them, “not want to be a writer.”

The reality is that writing is a lonely, private and poor-paying affair. For every writer kissed by fortune, there are thousands more whose longing is never requited. Even those who succeed often know long periods of neglect and poverty. I did.

When the startup economy booms, like it did in 1999 and like it is again in 2014, many people suddenly discover they want to “be an entrepreneur.” Newly-minted MBAs who otherwise would have joined Goldman Sachs or McKinsey instead head west to San Francisco. Big company lifers from Oracle or HP abruptly jump ship, not wanting to “miss out” on the next gold rush.

Too often, these folks quickly find a like-minded co-founder who also wants to join the “startup scene”, brainstorm a few ideas, pick one that seems plausible, hack up a product, then buy a wheelbarrow they can use to take their money to the bank when the acquisition offers start to roll in.

They almost never need that wheelbarrow. Starting a company is as Alex Haley described writing: the best companies are usually not started by people who want to “be an entrepreneur.” They are started by people who are knowledgeable and passionate about a specific problem, are driven to solve it, and then get busy building a company to bring it to life. They rarely go to tech conferences, can’t be found at launch parties, and they certainly don’t have a quick acquisition as their primary goal.

In contract, those who want to get rich by “being an entrepreneur” often come up with ideas that don’t really reflect any proprietary insight or interest. They’ll launch an undifferentiated e-commerce site with few barriers to entry, or they’ll read a Gartner report about a new enterprise market predicted to be worth billions, and they’ll jump into it with a me-too product. When they hit the inevitable bumps in the road, they may not have the drive to power over them, or they may not have the proprietary insight to outsmart competitors.

The best entrepreneurs work on ideas that grow out of their personal experiences and aptitudes. Their ideas often are counter-intuitive and don’t seem likely to work at first. I highly recommend this essay by Paul Graham: How to Get Startup Ideas. One of Paul’s best thoughts is:

The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not “think up” but “notice.” At YC we call ideas that grow naturally out of the founders’ own experiences “organic” startup ideas. The most successful startups almost all begin this way.”

Now, many of these “organic” founders also want to get rich, as do their investors and the employees who join them, but they also expect to spend years toiling away with lots of setbacks and trial and error. They know that if they get rich it will be because they are working on an idea where they have an edge in terms of knowledge and enthusiasm, not because they have joined a lucrative profession called “being an entrepreneur.”

All that being said, I would never discourage someone who truly is interested in startups from pursuing one — I’d certainly rather have them here in Silicon Valley rather than send them back to Wall Street. Startup life can provide a career full of accelerated learning, great camaraderie and teamwork, and it will at least leave you with some great stories. If you really want to enter the startup world, and not only for a quick acquisition, you could try:

  • Get awesome at something. Become a great engineer. Designer. Product manager. Marketer. Sales rep. Growth hacker. It is hard to start or join a great company if you aren’t great at a job that most startups need done.
  • Go deep in an industry. Many of the best companies are started by founds with proprietary knowledge in a specific field, like ad technology, insurance, supply chain management, information security, or many others.
  • Join a great startup. If you don’t have an idea where you have proprietary knowledge or passion, follow founders who do. Join the team early, contribute however you can, learn as much as you can, and it may lead to your founding your own company in the future as you get exposed to more people and ideas.

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

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