Now that we are in an execution mode for the marketing plans that we developed for 2015 I am able to give a flavour where I think a CMO or modern marketer should focus on in the next 12-18 months. This also depends on how far marketing organizations are with their implementation of things like content marketing, marketing automation and advanced reporting. For us 2014 was about the development and creation of what we call our marketing Playbooks. The team released a total of 6 Playbooks across 6 countries which contains 6 demand generation campaigns. Demand generation for us means campaigns aimed at specific personas within certain target audiences to engage with and generate marketing and sales qualified leads. Since we are in a high volume business, offering business software to smaller companies in a subscription model (saas), the level of automation is quite high. Last year we added more than 43.000 new paying companies to our online business software platform which totals at the end of 2014 of almost 185.000.
You can imagine that the number of leads we need to generate for our sales organization in order to achieve this growth is massively, tens of thousands every year. In our Central for Local approach we think of smart campaigns, highly automated and content rich running across 6 different ountries in order to get the highest level of engagement. This is quite a challenge. We organized ourselves in such a way that Field Marketing is always involved in the development and creation of these Playbooks and campaigns. Off course we have lots of discussions because we always need to find the middle ground in between 6 countries to make it highly scalable. I truly believe that we should be able to create Playbooks and marketing campaigns applicable on multiple countries in a one-to-many formula and that by adding ‘local relevance’ the Field Marketing managers can make the difference. We are aiming for a 70% foundation delivered by Central which we measure in marketing and sales qualified leads. Tangible, performance based and focussed on results. The marketing technology available today allows us to create high engagement by being utmost relevant in a smart way. Data (profiling) is key in this perspective.
Last year we added more than 43.000 new paying companies to our online business software platform which totals at the end of 2014 of almost 185.000.
The technical backbone of our marketing Playbooks is based on Oracle’s Eloqua marketing automation platform (MAP). A comprehensive platform that we started to implement 3 years ago and we are still learning. In order to get the max out of such a system a lot of other things needs to be in place besides the expertsie and skillsets you need in house to make it work. Here we talk about data, other systems, processes and the organization itself. Many stakeholders we have to make the way we practice marketing a succes. During the course of 2015 we will bring our Playbook technical backbone to the next level. This allows us to take the next step with our MAP activating new exciting features that will increase the Customer Experience in the top and the middle of the funnel. By the end of 2015 a team of 8 professionals is working full time on the creation of assets that today goes beyond creating content. In our type of business creating trust, confidence, showing expertise and sharing knowledge is key to engage with our targeu audiences. Thats the reason why content has such an important role in our campaigns. By the end of 2015 a team of 8 professionals is working full time on the creation of assets that today goes beyond creating content e.g. blog items, infographics and whitepapers. Our advanced technical backbone encourages and forces our content creation professionals to think in different ways.
To give an example. Progressive profiling is one of our hot topics of this year. Meaning that during the Customer Journey we gather profiling data in a smart way in order to be utmost specific and thuis relevant for a contact. Gathering of data is a combination of just asking via webforms but also automatic data enrichment processes and social sign on capabilities. Once prospects start to engage we get to know them better and better. Based on someone’s profile we for instance know when a wholesaler is in durable or non-durable goods. Once we provide him with additional valuable content in a whitepaper or ebook format with an email attached to it, dynamically the appearance of the content will be adjusted to specific sub sector. Some of the copy will be automatically adjusted and even images will be adjusted to make the message as relevant as possible for the receiver. This shows that our content creaters really need to think along the Customer Journey being tech savvy and aware of the capabilities our Playbook backbone is offering them. We don’t have it up and running yet but in the second half of this year I will be able to share some first experiences with all of you.
Also a topic that has the interest of many of my peers. A difficult one because before being able to implement such a methodology many things needs to be in place in advance. Last year we did some first testing with leadscoring and based on these insights we are creating the foundation for our 2.0 approach. Today we have pretty fixed definitions for MQLs and SQLs. One of the SQL leadtypes is ‘scored lead’. Based on behavior and profiling data during our nurturing process a specific contact is being scored. Once the score surpasses a certain threshold we hand overt to sales as a sales qualified lead. Although it sounds pretty exciting, which it is, this is still a pretty basic approach of leadscoring. Here another pre-requisite comes into play, the level of integration between our MAP and CRM system. The criteria themselves will by dynamic and change continuously. Criteria based on which existing customers suit our solutions the best looking at profile and behavior.I think in a year from now all our leads will be scored. The criteria themselves will by dynamic and change continuously. Criteria based on which existing customers suit our solutions the best looking at profile and behavior. Real time mapping of customer data with prospect data to see which are most likely to engage and buy from us but also have the highest change of becoming a happy customer, a brand advocate. Predictive analytics that comes into play.
On top of our demand generation campaigns we run pure brand awareness campaigns. Other means, different goals and KPIs you want to measure results against. Our brand awareness campaigns allow us to expose ourselves to broad audiences since the message we try to bring across is generic however very clear: next belongs to the do-ers, we inspire and enable you to grow. A first touching point where the customer journey starts and also the experience related to our brand. We fully adopt the tone of voice and imagery of our brand awareness campaign into our demand generation assets. Here we continue to deliver an experience that is in line with the first introduction someone had with our brand. Appealing content that builds trust and confidence but also shows our expertise, skillset and proof that we can truly help small business owners to grow their business. By bringing our Playbook backbone to the next level we allow ourselves to apply new techniques in order to be even more relevant to prospects than before. This year we start to run some specific customer base marketing programs and campaigns. Because the experience doesn’t stop once a company signs up. It continues where we have the opportunity to deliver what we promised, inspire and enable businesses to grow.
Big data and social
I think we are in a unique position as professional marketers and Exact to make the next step in business software. Everything is in the secure cloud and data is available instantly via multiple devices. Now it is about making our business software even smarter. And in fact this is exactly the ‘game’ we marketers are playing at the top and middle of the funnel. Building a digital profile in order to get to know the prospect to engage and offer utmost relevant content, to build trust and confidence. In fact this is a one to one marketing game where based on data, digital profile and behavior we should be able to provide existing customers with valuable information that inspires them and helps them to grow. At the end our product = the experience = marketing.Wouldn’t it be great that once you enter our online application for the very first time we connect you with peers and potential suppliers and even customers who has proven to be succesful in the same industry or lifecycle phase they were in when they joined Exact? This is the next step in my opinion in marketing, extending the experience into the product or service itself. This is where we are able to show of our skill sets once it is about building profiles, collecting data and doing something smart with it. Having the ability to communicate via multiple media channels and let the essential social principles of sharing do its work in our system. There is a lot to gain and for me it feels like we have an exciting journey in front of us. Hot topics for 2015 that we start thinking about, some we are implementing and some will be key to execute in the next few years. At the end our product = the experience = marketing.