Category: Online Marketing

Ralf HallerRalf Haller June 12, 2013

Marketing Services and Technology M&A

All working in ICT are well familiar with the constant M&A activities that happen in this industry.

What has been happening in the Marketing Services and Technology area though since 2011 seems to be breaking all records.

As Scott Brinker in his Marketing Technology blog summarized in January already:

The sector with the largest number of deals and the highest total value — by a large margin — was Marketing Services & Technology. There were 485 deals in that category with a total value of $20.5 billion, up 67% and 36%, respectively, over 2011. This sector accounted for 9 of the 30 largest deals of the year.

Now things are continuing and the end does not seem to be reached yet.

Latest M&As:

  • salesforce.com acquires ExactTarget, who acquired Pardot just recently
  • SAP acquires hybris, an e-commerce vendor
Nice to see that some are going it on their own like Marketo who did a successful IPO.
More M&As are to be expected though by Oracle, IBM, salesforce.com, SAP, and Microsoft.
Among these rumors are that salesforce.com might be up – for sale – as well…

Ralf HallerRalf Haller February 3, 2013

Change in Enterprise Software Marketing ?

I came across the last 12 months or so increasingly online marketing ads from enterprise software vendors at consumer portals such as e.g. Sport1.de. A sidebar ad on Sport1.de costs about 50 EURO per thousand impressions.

The media data of that sport portal is impressive and the people looking at it are 80% male and aged far below 45.

So they intend to market to people who have – very likely – no budget decision-making power in large enterprises.

Unless I am missing here something, I have a hard time believing that placing an enterprise software ad at a sports web portal that is alternating with ads from Heads & Shoulders, travel agencies, airlines, car manufacturers, consumer sports equipment vendors and others has any marketing effect at all.

I very much believe in online marketing at proper places to put this straight, but in case I should be wrong here let me know please and I will be glad to write about it here.

Until then these ads look to me as either desperate, a lack of communication between sales and marketing or/and maybe marketing communications done by consumer marketing people with no understanding of B2B marketing. This seems a waste of resources and maybe even negative marketing in case people like me start wondering who is behind their company.

Adrian McDermottAdrian McDermott November 8, 2012

How important are cross-channel solutions for B2B?

There is no question that cross-channel marketing is essential to make the most of social media and mobile to reach and touch consumers. But how important is it for B2B markets? Depending on the sector, somewhere between important and very important, I would say:

  1. Web 2.0 technologies are becoming more widely used. They make difficult communication problems (group functionality, interactivity, mixing media, live content) easy. The technologies are as applicable in the enterprise arena as in the consumer space.
  2. The scale of online transactions. In the US, in 2011, the value of B2B transactions was almost twice that of B2C transactions reported in the 2010 census. (US government data quoted by Oracle, B2B Cross-Channel Commerce; Complexity, consumerization, and change).
  3. Buyers like to be in control. People are used to the efficiency of the online purchases process, where product selections and related reading content, including third party recommendations or referrals, dynamically present themselves depending on menu selections. Static presentation via catalogs and static pages of content that are all from the vendor are likely to become more irritating as they take more time and often do not answer the question in the buyer’s mind.
  4. The growth of social tools in the B2B space, from the widely adopted (blogs, webinars, customer forums, Twitter) to the up-and-coming (customer communities, innovation platforms, crowdsourcing solutions) means companies have to adapt to customers’ preferred style of interaction.
  5. Social media solutions can bring greater stakeholder participation, for example in innovation, support and market research, and thereby increasing involvement, satisfaction and product and marketing innovation.

The problem is complexity: sales may require several steps and buyers, and international markets add the complication of currency, language and culture. There is also the question of confusing customers or employees by multiplying channels. The opposite problem is depriving customers and staff of channels of communication that fit personal preference or communication needs.

The cost-benefit ratio of more channels vs. more communication also depends a lot on your (current or planned) cross-channel management software. Perhaps asking a few questions about that is a good place to start when assessing how many channels to get involved in.

Adrian McDermottAdrian McDermott October 30, 2012

What is marketing automation software?

Why marketers need more automation

Marketing has never been more central to business success. As globalisation and the software revolution drive commoditization and price pressure ever faster, the Web gives customers more independence, choice and information than ever, too. That creates huge pressure on marketers to get it right, fast. Marketing is more complex than it has ever been, as with the web, social media, email and mobile there are a growing number of new channels

But how about seeing it as opportunity rather than pressure? As inbound marketing has risen in prominence, customers are attracted by companies that pay them the right kind of attention and offer them what they really want. That means businesses no longer having to compete by spending the most money on advertising and PR, but really working harder and smarter.

By smarter I mean thinking more intelligently about the customer, and using smarter tools to manage the marketing complexity and get and use the best data. Software is essential to help develop, analyse and manage campaigns, and segment and nurture leads. So what exactly is offered and what does it all do? Many of these tools are familiar, some are just maturing, so this seems like a good time to summarise them.

The 4 main functions of marketing automation

  1. Demand generation software helps companies create attention through search-related ads and SEO, finding and tracking keywords, tracking responses and finding and diagnosing poor performance.
  2. Marketing intelligence software tracks behaviour of prospects through social media, web pages and email to try to segment them and attract a response (call to action).
  3. Marketing automation moves leads through the marketing funnel, normally from a landing page, to nurturing in order to trigger actions from marketing staff and, depending on lead scoring, sales staff. Emails and related content (e.g. e-newsletters) are integrated into the sales process.
  4. Workflow automation: Budgeting of campaigns, workflow and co-ordination of sales and marketing staff, data-sharing, content creation, scheduling and targeting. This is a particular strength of most of the enterprise cross-channel marketing software vendors.

Because of the level of integration, it is hard to split up products into separate boxes. Each activity in each phase of a campaign uses workflow integration, is generally dependent on actions by leads, triggers responses, and produces data that feeds back into the process. So, for example, blog management software can integrate with SEO by selecting keywords automatically, can track responses, feed into the social media analytics to assess effect on reputation scoring and much else – and the blog itself can be part of both lead generation and lead nurturing.

What tools are included?

The following activities are co-ordinated, integrated and can be assisted or even automated

  • SEO
  • online advertising (including social media and mobile)
  • web analytics
  • social media monitoring
  • blog management
  • crowdsourcing
  • customer community management
  • landing page management
  • email management
  • lead scoring
  • lead nurturing
  • lead management
  • customer decisioning

Cross-Channel Campaign Management

These products put many of these tools together. They are strong on co-ordination and analytics. Software offerings help to plan and co-ordinate campaigns using the various channels, offering:

  1. Campaign design and execution
  2. Interaction management
  3. Analytics and reporting

Well known names include SAS, IBM, Oracle (Siebel), Alterian and many others, but there are many niche companies. According to Forrester Waves In Cross-Channel Campaign Management 2010, social media and mobile analytics and activities are weak spots in all of the big name offerings, suggesting plenty of opportunity for niche companies.

Social media

Blogs and social media platforms generate web content fast, are much read and shared, and have SEO advantages, and some smaller cross-channel vendors are particularly expert in this as they started as social media marketing rather than enterprise software companies.

Blogs: Blogs are a kind of a hub product because they combine social features, SEO advantages, and content; and also because they are less formal than articles but may be just as informative. The generally accepted statistic is that companies that blog regularly attract 50% more leads. Software can help with SEO, link to campaigns and measure response.

Social media monitoring / management tools: These monitor what is happening in the social media sites and blogs and can measure reputation – either as a general background activity to suggest opportunities or alert to problems – or as part of a campaign where they can measure effectiveness or trigger actions (interactions, advertising, targeted social media activities).

Customer community management: You might normally think of B2C markets exclusively when the terms “community” or “social marketing” are used, but the underlying dynamics of consumer-centered tools adapt themselves well to enterprise software, allowing stakeholders, from customers to the entire supply chain, to pool ideas and knowledge. This can dramatically ease support issues, reduce product development time and improve customer-centricity of product management and marketing planning.

Crowdsourcing: Taking the notion of community management and innovation into the wider world, crowdsourcing is a clever way to do market research, pool ideas and drive innovation, and at the same time generate demand and involvement through participation. As with customer community management, the challenge for companies is that such tools break across conventional boundaries between PR, market research, product management and marketing, so are hard to fit into existing staff roles. Much of the challenge is how to structure and measure the marketing functions rather than how to use this tool!

This is now an interesting time for marketing software. The ideal in marketing is to be able to begin a conversation with each prospect as an individual, and maintain it on this basis throughout the series of customer transactions that follow. In a mass-marketing model that idea was so idealized as to be largely useless, but today’s campaign and social media software allow businesses actually to try to put it into action. With the growing prominence of the social and mobile web, the landscape is changing fast, so there will be plenty of new players, and there is still plenty of room for existing products to improve, as Big Data, social media and personalization come of age.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller March 29, 2010

Book recommendation: “The Social Factor” shows the success of social computing at IBM

Maria Azura’s new book The Social Factor writes about IBM’s very own experiences using social networking and describes the tremendous success that Wikis, Blogs, and other social tools have. The numbers are mind-boggling and were also for IBM beyond their highest expectations. This lead Maria to ask in her book:

Is there a correlation between the success of IBM and the social tools now used extensively by IBMers?

  • within a year more than 150,000 IBMers were creating, accessing, or updating wikis, this represents about 40% of the total workforce
  • after six months the active blogs topped out at approximately 5,000; the traffic continued to grow, however

Ralf HallerRalf Haller November 26, 2009

Ranking of the most influential websites – in English

:/urlfan is a website that is “currently ranking the popularity of 3,783,534 websites by parsing 302,936,519 blog posts from 5,970,548 blog feeds”.

So instead of looking how many people go to a site, this list counts the number of blog posts that mention those sites. The thinking behind this is that since bloggers are influential this translates into real popularity. I think this makes sense and also makes the analytics manageable without needing a supercomputer to do it fast. Blog sites themselves start btw at position  22 with Techcrunch. We just hope Michael A. has not also invested into this site here. :-)

The site also shows the most popular Buzzwords “parsing 154,527 blog posts”. The Obamas made it three times into the top 10 (“Barack Obama”, “Michelle Obama”, “President Obama”) and “Sarah Palin” at position 10. So this one is definitely not interesting outside of the US.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller November 16, 2009

Swiss mobile boarding card – an innovation example

I am sure you noticed it too. In times of economic challenges surprisingly many new things pop up around us. One might call it innovations but often it is simply using existing technology for the first time  and making it accessible to employees or customers. This is only at first sight surprising as one might think that companies put new things on hold right now having more pressing issues.
Probably most do I guess but the leaders actually don’t and use these times to gain some differentiation. Often in markets it seems where it is otherwise difficult to differentiate such as in the telecom industry.

This morning on my flight to Oslo I had such an experience too with an airline. Swiss, the local airline is showing lots of new things and promotes them heavily on billboards at the airport and also insight the planes on the LCD screens. Examples are:
- use of the new A330 fleet on selected routes to the US and Middle East
- super convenient first class experience
- mobile check in with sending your boarding pass that is then scanned in from your phone so no more printing of boarding passes anymore, available also in Germany and soon at man more airports

The mobile check in would have been possible since a long time but now it is introduced during times where also Swiss has to leave planes on the ground. But this is in my opinion the right thing to do especially if your business is in a commodity market. (of course with this service most likely they will save money too I guess by needing less personnel) And who will get out of this market slump stronger I am convinced is clear: the ones who used these times to offer better and differentiating products and services. By the way this does not only apply to products and services but also to the way you do product marketing. There are great new opportunities using online marketing tools such as private social communities to expand your out reach. Now is the time to explore and launch trials that are in full swing when the economy bounces back.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller November 7, 2009

Beware Social Media Marketing – there are better ways to stay close to customers

Ooops – you might wonder how this headline goes together with our very own services for social communities? In fact it goes very well, as the point I want to make here more or less concurs with this article in Business Week back in May 2009. Gene Marks, who is a bestselling author for small business topics, makes this point there:

We’ve been misled as to the benefits of social networking sites. Many of us are finding that these tools do not live up to the hype, especially for small business. Once we start digging deeper, we’re finding a lot of challenges. Are you thinking of using Facebook, Twitter, or the like in your business? Before you go any further, consider the following myths:…

Most of the marketing departments who start using social media marketing think that they need to get onto Facebook and Twitter first. Actually, there is a much better way, which also makes use of the social community advantages for your market ecosystem: private social communities. Of course many might also mistake social media marketing with Facebook, StudiVZ or Twitter only and see – rightly – no point for their target audiences engaging. Marks also makes this point here (which I also agree with except that I don’t like the examples he has chosen):

Where, then, should a small business owner go online? Often the best social networking sites are specific to business owners. For example, Intuit’s (INTU) social media people are on their own small business community. Another good one is Bank of America’s (BAC) small business community.

The reason I think these are not such good examples is that they start out with the idea to create “small business communities” when in fact there is no such thing as people looking for small business advice but they are looking for accounting, investment, IT, etc. advice. Both do that in effect, of course, but should change their headings I think.

To make the same point less controversial sounding he could have asked “when to use public social media services and when to build your own?”.