ABM Conference Report: Data-Driven Lead-Gen A Priority for 2014
In a survey to be released this summer, Bizo will reveal 70% of the 400-plus B2B marketers polled are making new investments in marketing automation. "The main driver of new business is moving from the sales team to the marketing team," CEO Russ Glass told B2B publishers at the annual American Business Media conference in Phoenix last week.
"CIO was the hot job of the '90s and 2000s," said Scott Vaughan of Integrate during another panel discussion. "For the next 6-7 years, CMO will be the position in most demand." The skillset coveted by marketers is the ability to tie together data and analytics with marketing automation tools to bring in new business in more efficient ways than ever before.
Glass added, "The sales team is no longer driving revenue. The marketing team drives revenue."
This theme was echoed in presentations and conversations among the C-level audience in attendance. A panel of B2B marketers validated the need for leads. They made it clear they live and die by analytics, marketing dashboards, and sales leads. Sadly, these ad-buyers gave little more than lip service to the value of branding, which publishers have been providing for as long as ads have been sold. They were quite direct in giving little respect to publishers other than as lead suppliers.
It is our own fault, Paul Gerbino publisher of ThomasNet News pointed out. B2B publishers began devaluing branding long before the internet. He gave a capsule history of "bingo cards," which were created as a value-added service. Gerbino lamented that instead of appreciating those leads as one part of the value advertising provides, advertisers began to see those bingo cards as the end-all and be-all. If the number of responses dwindled, they concluded "your book no longer works!"
Dave Newcorn warned it would be a waste of time trying to detox marketers from "the crack of lead-gen." As VP of digital and custom media at Summit Media Group, Newcorn developed a dashboard where Summit advertisers can track all of their lead-gen initiatives running with Summit. It provides regularly refreshing results for each program, which marketers can use to optimize their ad programs.
Vaughan suggested, "It's no longer enough to say 'we've got a high value audience.' Now you must add, 'Here they are. Here are their names.'" Integrate's chief marketing officer told publishers many of their customers have better technology than media companies do. "If you are not spending on technology, clients will be ahead of you." Gerbino said ThomasNet provides a web analytics tool to advertisers which shows "the path of where customers come from."
Bizo's Glass pointed out that while we all talk about how marketers are becoming publishers, "it may be time for publishers to think more like marketers."
The consensus at ABM was that the key is to use the technology you need to serve your market and only worry about whether to build it or buy it once you are on the right track. John French, CEO of Cygnus Business Media, said his company does both. It used an outside vendor on a two-year project to get the company's data cleaned and optimized. Cygnus adds its own tools to market in new ways. For example by re-mining these improved lists, it has been able to reduce marketing expenditures on live events and increase attendance.
French gave an example of a successful campaign using social media in conjunction with its clean data. Cygnus offered a free, good-quality John Deere duffel bag on social media, eliciting 10,000 responses. By "filtering" these names using audience behavioral data, the results were a successful lead-gen campaign producing 800 qualified prospects for a happy client.
Rob Keenan, VP of online media at Edgell Communications, said two-thirds of their online revenue is currently from lead-gen activities. "Marketers want nurtured leads, not just white papers and webinars," he stipulated, suggesting publishers integrate content engagement with their lead-gen activities. This is so important to Edgell's growth they combined the roles of director of audience development with that of director of lead-generation. Best of all, according to Keenan, lead-gen delivers a margin of 60-70% directly to the bottom line.
Lead generation is nothing new in B2B publishing. The take-away from the aptly titled "Go-To Market Solutions" theme at the ABM Annual Conference, is to make sure you are using audience data to take lead-gen to the next level.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.