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, 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 Knowem.com 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 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 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, 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, 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?