David Karel, Head of B2B Marketing, LinkedIn
The answer to “where do you start” has everything to do with taking a real introspective look into where you are on your journey and the needs of the business. There is a tendency to start doing everything all at once without truly understanding where you are as a company and what is needed to achieve your overall objectives. It’s difficult to invest in tools and programs without understanding where you are.
Ultimately, I believe that all marketers should strive to be “full-funnel marketers” who invest in a diverse set of programs and channels to attract desired audiences early in the buying process. This effort should then be followed up with subsequent programs that will not only engage and educate, but also work to nurture relationships with prospects throughout their journey. So, when they’re ready to pick up the phone to speak to a sales rep, your rep is the recipient of the call, and not your competitors’.
Few organizations have the luxury of budget and cycles to get it all right simultaneously. When first building out the foundation of your marketing efforts, the immediate goal should be to invest heavily in content and your website, and then begin testing channels that can begin driving the right traffic to your website to engage with your content. Investments in channels like SEO, SEM, email marketing, and display retargeting are productive starting points, as they help to reach audiences that are likely further down the path in their purchase process. As you start to scale, you’ll need to invest intelligently in “top-funnel” channels like display advertising that will increase overall awareness with your targeted audiences. This will allow your company to be on your potential customers’ radar early.
Regardless of how far along you are in the journey, where you invest next does not start with a random selection from a menu of channels. You arrive in a good place by taking a methodical look at the needs of the business and align with your company’s leadership team on how Marketing can tangibly contribute to the revenue generating effort, and how that contribution should be measured. With specific KPIs in hand, the correct short-list of best-fit channels will present themselves and you will be well on your way!
Modern Marketing or High-impacting Marketing
To me “modern marketing” really means high-impact marketing or data-driven marketing and I believe every marketing organization should be thinking in terms of impact to the overall business. Three things to keep in mind when you are developing a “modern marketing” program:
- Define what you want the impact to be and how you measure it?
- Aim high in terms of what’s possible and then build out the process, people and systems to achieve that end goal. For example, if you set your aim on delivering leads, you’ll likely build a marketing engine that’s great at generating a lot of them but whether those leads turn into revenue-generating customers is anyone’s guess. But, if you set out to “source or influence 50 percent of the company’s revenue through marketing programs”, it will very much shape the team you build, the supporting technologies you need to deploy, and the internal processes you put in place to ensure tight alignment with the sales team.
- At the marketing campaign or program level, obtain real clarity on what you’re looking to get out of the program. Marketers often fall into the trap of measuring everything the same way so setting the right KPI based on the nature of the channel and it’s role in the program mix is imperative. Ultimately, getting consensus on what KPI you will use per channel and optimizing against it will help ensure your program is successful.
The Realities of Marketing Technology
The advancement of technology has put marketing leaders in a position to make a far bigger impact on the business so it’s been very empowering. This is due to in large part to the proliferation of cloud-based solutions, which makes a wide range of platforms and tools more accessible to the marketing organization and allows us to be in control of our own destiny. The data the technology provides is key in all of this. Through the data collected, the Marketing organization is now in the best possible position to get a holistic view of customers across the lifecycle. This allows us to gear marketing resources more effectively to the needs of the business.
“The key to effective marketing is to surround yourself with people who get it and to always be learning”
At the same, it can also be quite daunting. I personally come from a liberal arts background and like many marketing leaders I have never written a line of code. Without having that technology background, the realities of marketing technology inevitably pull us into deep conversations on topics that can ultimately make you feel a little uncomfortable. The key I’ve found is to surround yourself with people who get it and to always be learning. If you choose to put your head in the sand, you will be out of a job soon or working for a company still trying to spell “modern marketing.”