Book Review: Revenue Engine

In the foreword to Revenue Engine: Why Revenue Performance Management is the Next Frontier of Competitive Advantage by Steve Woods and Alex Shootman, Eloqua CEO Joe Payne writes that “This is not a book about marketing. It’s not about sales. This is a book about the only thing that matters: revenue.”

Revenue Engine by Steve Woods and Alex ShootmanWoods, CTO and co-founder of Eloqua, a provider of marketing automation software, and Shootman, the company’s Chief Revenue Officer, present a bold and comprehensive framework for realigning sales and marketing groups around a data-driven process for maximizing revenue. The authors rather audaciously position the concept of revenue performance management (RPM) as “the final frontier for transformative investment,” following in the footsteps of the development of the principles of scientific management, total quality management and supply chain management.

Whether or not readers are ultimately persuaded by the authors’ arguments, there’s no question that their diagnosis of the changing landscape for b2b and considered consumer purchases hits the mark. Buyers now control the process; through search and social channels, buyers now complete 70% of their decision process before making their first contact with a sales person.

Yet at the same time, marketing and sales professionals now have access to far more data about what types of information buyers are seeking, where they are looking, what questions they are asking and what sources catch their attention, than ever before. Woods’ first book, Digital Body Language, explained how to capture and interpret that data; this book carries the process through to its conclusion, showing how to tailor content and communications based on that data to maximize sales revenue.

After examining the changing landscape and explaining why the traditional separation of sales and marketing functions no longer makes sense, Woods and Shootman delve into the buyer behavior and psychology, and what can be learned about these elements through online data collection; a framework for optimizing media and content investments; and how clean, high-quality data provides the foundation for the revenue engine.

Part 2 of the book, sub-headed “Stop Crunching Numbers—Start Crushing Them” delves into the detail of data collection, cleansing, benchmarking, optimization and utilization. It’s a practical field guide to building and running a revenue engine, though this isn’t an exercise to be taken lightly. It is in many respects a fundamental reordering of marketing and sales functions based on observation, testing, measurement and continuous improvement.

Among the insights offered along the way:

Search and social must work together to connect buyers with content: “The resulting challenge for marketers is interesting. If searches become more precise, we must strive to create a wealth of interesting, relevant content at all phases of the buying process. Similarly, as search results are increasingly guided by social influence, we must also build influence and reputation among the appropriate audiences so that our results are found to be relevant.”

Understand your primary marketing challenge in order to fix “leaks” in the buying process. Most marketing challenges fall into one of three broad categories: the Flying Car (“your business can solve a problem that most of the world is unaware can be solved…so potential buyers blindly continue with their inefficient processes…and do not actively look for a solution:);  the Wallflower (“you are not a vendor that comes to mind when prospective buyers look for alternatives”); or the Red-Headed Stepchild (“you are evaluated when potential buyers look for solutions, but buyers rarely select your solution”).

Your marketing emails had better provide value. “One or two uninteresting or non-valuable messages from a particular source will quickly lead the user to to reflexively delete or ignore any future content. This is known as an ’emotional unsubscribe’—the recipient has effectively tuned out of the communication.”

Provide prospects with multiple methods for direct contact. “Active searches for information also occur when prospects call a vendor organization, submit an online request for information, or attend a tradeshow seeking answers to specific questions” (or engage directly in an online conversation with a vendor representative).

Understand who the key influencers are in your market and engage them. “The most reliable way—indeed, perhaps the only way to ensure your messages are fully discoverable in social media is to build strong relationships with the influencers in your space who are more likely to share those messages and ensure that your messages are sufficiently interesting, relevant and non-salesly.”

Use multiple methods to help prospects discover your solutions. “There are three primary avenues for buyers to become aware of your company and solutions: by actively seeking information (often via search), passively encountering information (often via ads), and being influenced to consider new information (often via social media).” PR can help with any of these methods as well.

And there’s much more.

Smaller companies with modest lead flows may find that this motor has more horsepower than they need, but marketing executives at mid-sized and larger b2b firms should give the Revenue Engine a test drive. They may just find it to be the key to a faster and more efficient vehicle for accelerating sales growth.

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Best New B2B Marketing Blogs – The Blog Tree (Infographic)

The best B2B marketing blogs are once again creatively presented by marketing automation provider Eloqua and JESS3 in this year’s Blog Tree. It’s gratifying to see that Webbiquity sprouted a leaf this time out. As Joe Chernov explains in his blog tree post,  “All gene pools benefit from healthy DNA, and if the blogosphere is going to continue to evolve, it’s important that new voices are heard. The Blog Tree: New Growth cheers about 60 active, insightful blogs launched (or significantly re-engineered) after January 1, 2009.  It’s truly a collection of the freshest voices on the Web.”

You can find the interactive PDF version of this very cool infographic here or in Joe’s post.It’s great to see some familiar names like Pam Moore The Marketing Nut, Mack Collier, Savvy B2B Marketing and B2B Bloggers on this year’s tree, as well as a lot of new blogs to check out.

Best New B2B Marketing Blogs - The Blog Tree

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Enterprise Social Media and Personal Branding

Personal branding is a hot topic for entrepreneurs and solo consultants, but does it matter to large enterprises? Oh yeah.

Consultants and small business owners get the concept of personal branding, because in one-person or very small companies, one person is the “corporate” brand. Having optimized profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well as personal profile / reputation management sites like Google Profile, Plaxo, LookupPage, VisualCV, PeoplePond and BusinessCard2 is crucial to optimizing one’s business online presence.

Social media is an individual thing, even in big corporationsBut isn’t it different in large enterprises where there’s already a strong corporate brand associated with high quality, great value, outstanding service, prestige or some other positive attribute? Not at all. That brand image matters little in social media. If anything, personal branding for key public- and customer-facing individuals is even more important in big businesses than in small firms or one-person shops.

First, if you want to talk to the “CEO” of your local bakery or neighborhood bar, you can likely just walk in and often find him or her on the premises. You can’t do that with executives at GE, IBM, Ford, etc.

Second, “social” media is by definition a person-to-person (or person to many persons) activity. You can have a conversation with a person, or participate in a conversation in a group of people, but you can’t talk to a “company,” which is merely a soulless, bodiless legal entity.

Third, while you can certainly buy many types of products from companies (e.g. books from Amazon, coffee from Starbucks, electronics from Best Buy), there are many products and services that purchased from individuals, even though there may be large company behind them. If you refinance your home, you work with a mortgage banker—an individual—even though that person may work for a large bank. Insurance is typically provided by large companies, but sold by individual agents. Ditto for other financial services, legal services, cars, motorcycles, heavy machinery, exotic travel, some types of luxury goods… You purchase something supplied by a company, possibly a very large company, but you buy from an individual person.

In that sense, the individual’s personal brand becomes, to you, the corporate brand. Your experience with that individual, good or bad, influences, often strongly, your perception of the corporate brand.

So, big companies have an interest in making those individual interactions as positive as possible. It’s essential to hire good people, of course, but it goes beyond that. Often, a bad experience isn’t the result of a having a bad agent, broker, salesperson, customer service rep or consultant, but rather from a mismatch between the individual buyer and seller. The transaction is more likely to be positive if the connection is appropriate based on geography, area of expertise, hobbies or other factors, possibly even age (e.g. a couple nearing retirement may prefer not to work with a twenty-something financial planner).

How is this achieved? Through personal branding. It’s easy to investigate companies and product attributes online, without ever giving up your contact information. Why shouldn’t you to be able to “shop” for the individual you’ll eventually buy from or work with as well? You should, of course. And smart companies, big or small, who recognize that in a social media world, their people are their differentiation, will find ways to capitalize on personal branding.  Read more about this in Why Personal Branding Matters to Big Companies, my guest post on the Workface blog.

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Eloqua, TopRank, Demandbase and More – OMS Minneapolis Wrapup

Last week’s Online Marketing Summit in Minneapolis drew an intense crowd of local agency and corporate attendees focused on learning the latest strategies for SEO and search, conversion rate optimization (CRO), QR codes, PPC, social video marketing, integrated analytics, social media measurement and more. It was three days of drinking from a firehose of expertise from an impressive lineup of speakers, but did the conference deliver the goods? Here’s a recap of a few of the key sessions and conversations from the summit.

Steve Woods, EloquaSteve Woods, Eloqua

Steve is one of the most brilliant marketing strategists I know, and co-author of a new book, Revenue Engine. Among Steve’s observations and insights from the summit:

  • • The buying process is now 1) online, 2) all about the buyer, and 3) complex (multiple stakeholders).
  • • The sales “discovery” call, where a sales rep spent an hour learning about a prospect’s issues and pains, is extinct. 78% of executives report that they are spending less time with sales reps than ever before. Research, through social media, has to fill in much of this gap.
  • • Social media killed newspapers; anyone can now publish to the world. The most important users of social media are Google and Bing, who are attempting to create “social filters” to identify the most relevant content.
  • • QR codes marry social media with traditional direct marketing.
  • • With marketing moving online, everything is measurable now. The days of not knowing which 50% of your marketing dollars you’re wasting are over.
  • • “Sales and marketing” has to be one budget, with dollars flowing back and forth based on measurable value. But few companies have sufficiently sophisticated analytics in place today to do this properly.
  • • The trick in using social media monitoring tools is not to automate “fast, shi**y answers” as Steve put it, but rather to find the right person to respond. Even in fairly large organizations, the actual number of social media mentions that really require any kind of detailed response tends to be fairly small.
  • • The best social media managers will work themselves out of their jobs by making their organizations social media proficient. Social media will ultimately be another tool, like email, but it will take some time to reach that stage.
  • • Online buyers discover information in three ways, which require three different approaches to capitalize on: active search (use SEM), passive search (use content marketing and SEO), and influence (social media).
  • • A common issue for B2B vendors: how do you sell “boring stuff” online? Don’t be boring! Find a tie between your “boring” product and something interesting and capitalize on it. For example, gaskets are boring. But they may be used in race cars, and race cars are not boring.
  • • Tap your internal subject matter experts and help them create personal brands. Answer questions and establish expertise. Don’t explicitly sell products, rather solve problems. The revenue team is no longer just sales and marketing.
  • • Facebook is better for B2B than many businesses realize (the one point of Steve’s on which I remain skeptical).
  • • Don’t try to talk to everyone; this drives people away. Buyers are open to sales conversations when 1) they are the right buyer and 2) their “digital body language” indicates they are actively engaged in looking for a solution right now. Use data–intuition often leads down the wrong path.
  • • Buy his new book!

Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Lee presented a session on search and social media. Highlights:

  • • SEO is dead, social media is sexy? No, SEO is still not dead yet. As technology and buying processes change, SEO evolves. The top priority in SEO this year should be search and social integration, as the search engines seek to incorporate more social signals into search results.
  • • 92% of b2b buying cycles start with search. It’s not enough just to produce great content, it has to be made “findable.”
  • • Every two days, we now (collectively) create as much information as was created from the dawn of time through 2003 (according to Eric Schmidt)–5 exabytes of data.
  • • Make your customer service content searchable, and extend the customer relationship to build loyalty and recommendations. Google does a good job of this with the help information for their various tools.
  • • To scale content creation, use of a mix of original content and content curation–select the good stuff and add value to it.
  • • To optimize time spend on social networking, allocate about 15 minutes per day per network, with perhaps a bit more time spent on the 2-3 most important sites.
  • • Use to claim your (and your company’s) profile across social networks; you don’t have to be active on all of them (only the ones where your customers and prospects are).
  • • Use keyword research to coordinate content creation, SEO and social media efforts.
  • • SEMrush is a valuable tool for analyzing your competition in SEO and SEM, search traffic, and keywords that work today.
  • • Use knowledge gleaned from analytics to scale up what works and kill what doesn’t.

Angie SchottmullerAngie Schottmuller

Angie did a phenomenal job of communicating a highly visual topic largely without the use of visuals, thanks to technical glitches with the hotel’s equipment.

  • • When evaluating 2D barcode readers (mobile apps), look for support for multiple barcode types as well as autoscan capability. BeeTag is her favorite.
  • • There are numerous free 2D barcode generators available online. Some also serve as management platforms, which is helpful. Delivr is a good option, particularly for local retail businesses, due to its mapping functionality.
  • • Minimize the data stored in the barcode by using a shortened URL.
  • • Brainstorm ways to add value to the user when using QR codes. Don’t just send them to your mobile site home page. Try to deliver exclusive content.
  • • When it comes to QR codes, size matters. Bigger images are better (easier to scan with a wider range of phones). 1″ x 1″ is considered a reasonable minimum, but go a bit larger than that if possible. Also, always include a URL just in case someone’s phone can’t read your barcode.
  • • Tell users what will happen when they scan! It’s okay to “tease” a little, but don’t try to be too mysterious; that will reduce scan rates. Make it a strong call to action.
  • • Link to a smartphone-friendly destination (e.g. NOT just to a standard web page or to a high-definition video). Ideally, apps should take advantage of smartphone features.
  • • B2C use of QR codes is about selling, B2B use is about branding: provide the visitor with some kind of value (e.g. tracking a shipment) or send to a (low resolution) video, for example.

Jennifer KaneJennifer Kane, Kane Consulting

Jennifer braved a displaced neck disc (ouch!) and tag-teamed with Kary Delaria to deliver an excellent presentation on tools for measuring online media effectiveness. I have to say, I expected Jennifer to be smart (which she certainly is) but wasn’t expecting her to be funny, especially given the neck issue. But her presentation was the best of the day at combing humor with valuable information.

  • • Start with what you think social media success looks like. Measurements must have meaning, or else they are just data.
  • • To define the “return” on your social media efforts, ask people to do specific things (e.g. visit a link, download a report)–then measure how many people do it.
  • • The “big three” KPIs for social media success are 1) increase brand awareness, 2) drive sales, and 3) build brand loyalty.
  • • Basic metrics include reach (who reads your content and where), sentiment and conversion. When looking at sentiment in social media monitoring tools, always double check the results. To use Jennifer’s example, if someone writes that your product “kicks ass,” that is likely a positive, though many social media monitoring tools will tag this as a negative sentiment because “getting your ass kicked is generally a bad thing.”
  • • It takes 10,000 brand mentions at a minimum to get statistically relevant sentiment tracking from a social media monitoring tool.
  • • Social media ROI can’t be measured directly. But you can measure “tons of stuff” and find correlations. And correlations are good data.
  • • The best social monitoring tools are “Excel and your own eyes.” Don’t overlook the value of native searches on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Technorati.
  • • Tools like Klout and PeerIndex are good for measuring your “cool factor” but not really business results or the quality of your content or interactions. They can be gamed. However, when paired with other data, results from these tools can be interesting.
  • • Tools such as TwentyFeet, Trackur and Unilyzer don’t provide competitor data but are useful for showing all of your data in one place on a single dashboard.
  • • HootSuite rocks.
  • • Even the best paid tools only find, on average, about 65% of your global brand mentions.

Greg Ott of DemandbaseGreg Ott, Demandbase

Greg presented on conversion rate optimization. Much of his presentation reflected, indirectly, the capabilities of the Demandbase tool. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s a pretty cool product, though it is in my view grossly overpriced at $2,500 per month. I think there could be a huge marketing opportunity for the product in the $500-1,000 per month price range.

  • • All marketing is now online marketing. Online sources provide 50% of all B2B leads now (sounds low to me) and that figure is projected to rise to 70% within two years.
  • • Most b2b websites are still static and one-dimensional. Companies spend 9X as much on attracting visitors to their websites as they do on converting those visitors once they arrive.
  • • Most websites are “leaky buckets.” They lose half of all visitors at each additional click.
  • • Key is to determine who the visitor is as quickly as possible, then serve up relevant content and offers.
  • • Think about visitors in terms of company size and industry, then optimize forms and offers for each.
  • • To optimize conversions, keep forms as short as possible and test everything: content, offers, specific calls to action, etc.

Kim Albee of Genoo - Marketing Automation SoftwareKim Albee, Genoo

Kim Albee is the fascinating, high energy leader of Genoo, a marketing automation system for small to midsize companies. Though both Genoo and Eloqua provide marketing automation software, they fit at opposite ends of the market in terms of company size, so they rarely compete. Genoo is more similar to something like ePROneur; both offer hosting, robust CMS capabilities and forms builders. Genoo is stronger in marketing email automation and suitable for smaller companies with reasonably sophisticated internal marketing capabilities. ePROneur on the other hand includes an integrated CRM application is ideal for sales-focused companies who outsource more of their marketing functions.

A few notes from our between-sessions conversation as well as the end-of-day panel session in which Kim participated (along with Greg Ott, Maria Lettman – Director of Social Media at Cargill, and others).

  • • Employees need to understand the “rules of the game” for business social media participation; everything from etiquette and strategy to simple things like not including “#in” when posting something in LinkedIn.
  • • Lots of agencies offer social media marketing services, but companies are having a hard time right now finding agencies with the bandwidth to do the work.
  • • Data is important–but it won’t help you to be creative or “think outside the box.”
  • • In social media, be a voice not an echo. Add value when you pass along information from others.
  • • LinkedIn profiles should reflect personality; they should like they are written by individuals, not by the marketing department (though they should all contain some important keywords for consistency).
  • • Infuse personality into social media efforts; don’t be afraid to “pi** people off.” Hmm, be careful with that one.
  • • Balance value added vs. selling: help buyers solve problems or think about how to solve them. Share relevant content, even (or particularly) content that isn’t your own. Be interesting!

Got anything to add?

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Is a Player in Marketing Automation Software?

Guest post by Lauren Carlson. is the cloud computing darling of customer relationship management (CRM) software. They have significant control of mind share in that space, and their legacy in customer service and sales force automation software is strong. However, CRM is a trifecta. It is made up of sales, service and—wait for it—marketing! So, where does stand as a marketing automation solution? Marketing & LeadsMarketing Automation Software Guide decided to answer this question. Up front, will garner appeal because the marketing app is bundled with the Sales Cloud 2 product. You can’t argue with a free app. However, there are several best-of-breed players in the market that have developed robust, feature-rich systems that can handle the most sophisticated marketing strategies. So, when should make your marketing automation software shortlist? When should you look elsewhere?

To answer these questions, MASG evaluated the system by looking at product functionality. They assessed the seven high-level functions of a marketing automation, identifying capabilities and gaps. You can view the chart on their blog post here.

For a more in-depth analysis, you can visit the MASG blog. However, the verdict is that is a great place to start with marketing automation. It has the necessary tools and capabilities for very basic marketing activities such as limited email marketing and campaign management. However, as your company grows, your marketing activities might need to scale as well. In this case, we suggest seeking out a best-of-breed vendor, such as Marketo, Eloqua, Genius, Manticore Technology, Genoo or the wide variety of other systems. These vendors have sophisticated features and processes that can meet the needs of marketing teams in any size organization.

Lauren Carlson is a CRM Market Analyst with Software Advice.

FTC Disclosure: Webbiquity has no financial relationship with any of the vendors mentioned in this post.

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