Sharise Wilkinson

Recent Posts by Sharise Wilkinson

Build a resilient marketing function: start with your most important marketing channel

As the pandemic rages on, challenges and opportunities continue to emerge for B2B media and events businesses.  

From Team MPG’s vantage point, it is clear that the most resilient businesses, and those that have started growing again, have certain characteristics – including: a belief in the strategic importance of marketing – shared by the whole senior leadership team; a strong understanding of what good marketing looks like and should be expected to achieve; and a commitment to invest well in marketing for sustainable growth. 

This was the focus of Helen Coetzee’s blog published on 1st January: In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing. In this article, Helen highlights specific areas that require focus and investment for building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation. 

One of these specific areas is your website, or more specifically, the website or web pages that serve the purpose of marketing your brand, value proposition and products.

The companies that have invested heavily in building high performance marketing websites, are standing out as resilient and winning organisations at this time. 

And by ‘high performance websites’, we’re not just referring to a beautifully designed ‘look and feel’ for your site – which is usually the calling card of slick creative and digital agencies very good at selling their sizzle (and making things look nice). A well designed, nice-to-look at website is an absolute must, but far too many organisations we talk to have fallen in to the trap of spending a fortune with a ‘shiny’ agency (confusing style with substance…) on a website that just looks lovely, but doesn’t actually work in terms of:

(1) Optimised customer journeys in the front end – to acquire more customers and generate more revenue, and
(2) Back-end/CMS functionality that makes the website practical and efficient (and viable!) for marketers to manage in the manner required for the website to work well within a content-led, integrated marcomms approach. 

There is a very specific, specialised set of functionality requirements that B2B media/events businesses need built into their marketing websites that can be very poorly understood by many business leaders (and often their marketers too), and by the too many agencies trusted with this kind of work.

These specific functionality requirements are focused on the extremely important role your website serves as the hub of all your marketing efforts. If you want to be a resilient  and growing business, your website needs to do all the following – really well:

  1. Positioning: host impactful messaging – in words, pictures and sometimes video and/or audio – that positions your brand and value you deliver in exactly the right way. For this you need a strong messaging strategy.
    See: Build a winning messaging strategy:a step-by-step guide
  2. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO): have well structured navigation and CTAs that draw customers through your marketing funnel – getting them to share their data, become a customer, and also share your content.
    See: 4 Things you should do for a high performance website
  3. SEO: use relevant messaging, content and good UX to organically attract relevant people from search engines – to then become exposed to your positioning and converted to engaged prospects, customers and advocates.

A well-optimised site attracts the right visitors, in required and sustainable volumes, and clearly communicates your value proposition – which is more important now than ever to cut through all the noise on digital channels. 

Remember that your website is the hub of all your marketing activity. Every time you post on social media, run a PPC campaign, or send an email campaign – you should be pushing relevant people to your website so that they become visitors, engaged audience members prospects, and customers. 

If your website is not in the best shape possible, all of your other marketing channels will be much less effective than they should be. There is almost no point deploying any other marketing channels (especially PPC!) until you have a website in place that looks great, and works exactly as it should in terms of functionality needed to deliver customers and revenue to your business.

Next week we will share a practical guide to building a high performance website. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published.

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to an MPG website expert about how to optimise the site you have, or build a brand new, high performance website – please get in touch. Team MPG includes website designers, developers and website project managers who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing. We know how your website needs to work to grow your customer base and your revenues. Read more about MPG’s website design and development services.


MPG provided excellent design and functionality recommendations for our website – helping us immediately put into action initiatives that would help us gain more customers and move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Founder & CEO, Outsmart Insight


 

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In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing

Along with the exciting opportunities for innovation and digital transformation that many leaders have successfully embraced, the pandemic continues to throw new challenges at B2B media and event businesses.

Once again, event organisers face issues around live events. Even those who have been able to very successfully grow their digital revenue streams over the past 18 months are immensely frustrated they cannot bring their customers together in-person. Those brave souls who have proceeded to safely host some face-to-face gatherings for their valued community members, in the midst of a pandemic, have found these ‘in real life’ experiences to be most powerful and energising.

To keep moving forward positively, senior executives should focus on building resilience into every part of their organisation.

From a marketing perspective, organisational resilience can be further strengthened by more relevance.

Marketing is all about getting close to your customers and successfully communicating to them the relevance of your value proposition. In the B2B world, this is about focusing – with precision – on the specific individuals within specific organisations who will find your value proposition highly relevant (This is of course assuming you have already achieved a strong enough product-market fit to make what you’re offering worth your target customers’ attention, time, and money. If you don’t have the product-market fit right yet, this should be your focus to strengthen organisational resilience – regardless of pandemics! No amount of marketing can successfully monetise the wrong product…).

Getting close to customers is first and foremost about listening. Listening to what they care about, what their pain points are, what motivates them, and what they need in order to get their jobs done well – right now, and in the near future. 

If you are listening properly to your customers, and responding to their needs with the most relevant products and the most relevant marketing, your organisation will be more resilient. Why? Because your customers will give you their attention and their time, again and again – no matter whether you are delivering your products online or in-person.

When you have your customers’ attention over an extended period of time – regardless of format – they should be engaged enough with your brand for you to monetise them well. And, if you can prove you can monetise your customers consistently, profitably and with economies of scale, you have a very good reason to pursue scale. Hence MPG’s mantra since the start of the pandemic: engage, monetise, scale. Building brands as community platforms is only possible if you follow this Engage – Monetise – Scale model.

A marketing strategy that focuses on engagement – anchored in relevance – will make your marketing more resilient. This, in turn, will make your whole organisation more resilient.

Here are four things we believe are fundamental to building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation:

#1: Investment in customer insight: ongoing analysis on what your customers say and do. 

Via a set of dashboards, make sure your marketers are constantly monitoring how customers are engaging with your products and your marketing campaigns. Ask your marketers to look for and highlight trends in the data to spark questions to ask your customers about the content, networking opportunities, formats and experiences they find most relevant and valuable, and why. Data your marketers should be able to interrogate should also validate and enhance the answers your customers give you. 

If your marketers are focused on customer insight, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient.

#2: Specific, clearly defined marketing objectives – fully lined up behind your business goals.

Using evidence-based insight on your customers to guide you, insist on marketing objectives that are realistic, achievable, and – most importantly – focused on achieving your commercial goals. Make sure the decisions you make about marketing investments are based on these objectives, and that your marketers are tracking and sharing results and progress with your stakeholders, along with insights and plans to improve performance over time. 

If you keep your marketers focused on what is most important, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient.

#3: Smart, focused investment in your marketing website and your marketing database.

The website you use to attract and communicate with customers is by far your most important marketing tool. And the data you hold on your customers is by far your most important marketing asset. Sadly, these very often receive low levels of investment, or a great deal of money and time is wasted if they are mismanaged.

Decisions you make and actions you take to invest in your marketing website and your marketing database should be focused on achieving your marketing objectives (see #2 above) and your commercial goals (see #1 above).

Far too often, websites and databases are high-jacked or poorly led by a (usually well-meaning) senior executive with very little knowledge of marketing, or a mostly tactical inhouse marketing team, or – the worst scenario of all – a smooth talking agency with good sales people who are good at ‘selling the sizzle’, but who have no real regard for the success of your organisation, and therefore the ‘sizzle’ fails to deliver.

Your organisation will be more resilient if you have both a strong marketing website and good marketing database – led and managed by people who know what they’re doing, care about your organisation’s goals, and understand your marketing objectives.

#4: A flexible and agile marketing function with the right skills, strong leadership, good management, and the motivation to contribute to the success of your organisation.

With virtual working now the norm, the world is your oyster when it comes to finding the best marketing skills to form a resilient, flexible and agile marketing function. This can be achieved with a combination of inhouse resources, complimented with specialist, expert consultants and agencies – all well managed to collaborate, create powerful synergies and deliver great results.

Marketing requires a vast array of skills that can be brought together to deliver quite outstanding outcomes, as long as you’re willing to treat marketing as an investment and not a cost – and step away from a traditional and inflexible inhouse team, and/or a ‘known’ agency that may be consistently underperforming.

A resilient and relevant marketing function can be built if you are prepared to think differently, consider all your options, invest well, and set up, manage and continually support a highly collaborative, hybrid marketing team.

If you have highly skilled marketers working for you, no matter where they are based, and whether in-house or external (ideally a combination of both) – your marketing and your organisation will be more relevant and more resilient.

To achieve more resilience, keep an eye on MPG Insights over the coming weeks. We will be publishing a series of helpful guides on how to build a more relevant and resilient marketing function (and therefore a more resilient organisation!).

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email every time we publish a new blog or resource like this one.


MPG did a great job assessing our digital marketing and marketing operations requirements – considering our business goals. They developed a robust strategy, followed by a practical operational roadmap to help us further improve how we use technology to support marketing and sales performance. It has been a pleasure working with the MPG team!

Jonathan Perry, Global Marketing Director, PEI – Alternative Insight


 

Do you need a more resilient marketing function?

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you build a more resilient marketing function, and therefore a more resilient business. 

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The future of B2B events: what does this mean for marketers?

In our most recent article on the future of B2B events, we shared insights from a strategy-focused roundtable organised by Renewd, combined with MPG’s insights from the work we do with our clients.

As B2B events leaders assess their future risks and opportunities, we have considered what the changes to the product and revenue mix mean for marketers.

Whether your events are delivered virtually, in-person or in a hybrid format, marketers should keep in mind the following 7 things when working to grow event revenues:   

#1: Exceptional customer experiences – starting with personalised marketing

With the rise of digital events and the emergence of many new products and brands, the noise in the marketing channels your competitors are also using can be deafening. Crowded email inboxes and social feeds are being ruthlessly filtered at best, and ignored at worst. 

To win the battle for the precious commodities of your target customers’ attention and time, not only do your products need to deliver more value, but your marketing messaging needs to be highly relevant, reaching the right person at the right time with exactly the right message.

Adopting personalisation is only possible when marketers have defined their customer segments and ensured their databases are well managed and set up in the right way for targeting via segmentation. Marketers also need access to analytics via a foundation of a solid and well-integrated marketing tech stack. To achieve the right level of personalisation, the marketing data and tech ‘space race’ is on!

#2:  Marketing strategy aligned with business objectives

As business leaders are becoming more confident in defining their medium-long term business strategies, marketing strategies are needed that support business objectives. Marketers will need to set commercially focused, measurable marketing objectives, with supporting KPIs, to ensure that the tactics they deploy are positively and visibly impacting business performance.

#3:  Measuring and analysing marketing performance

It is a marketer’s responsibility to provide ongoing visibility of marketing performance and ROI (the good, the bad and the ugly!). This enables business leaders to confidently make informed decisions on how to continue with their marketing investments. Marketers themselves also need this visibility to understand their audience engagement and how their target customers are interacting with their brands and products. Knowing what is and is not working  is the only way to optimise marketing tactics. 

#4:  Audience-first, content-led approach

Marketers need to have a deep understanding of their audience – their demographics, personas, motivators, challenges, ‘jobs to be done’ – to ensure their marketing messages are relevant enough. They need to work closely with content and sales teams to ensure alignment, create feedback loops and ensure that audiences’ needs are prioritised. If the audience is going to pay with their time, attention, and money, the content on offer needs to be highly valuable, and a content-first, benefit-led approach to marketing messages and communications is key to capturing and maintaining interest over time.

#5:  Highly targeted, account-based marketing

There is an expectation from customers that marketing messages are highly targeted, personalised, and super relevant to them as individuals. A well executed ABM strategy should deliver strong ROI through higher conversion rates, shorter sales cycles and higher average order values by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within targeted accounts. 

#6:  Marketing training and development

Marketing is always changing, and marketers should always be learning. Businesses that build agile capabilities in their marketing function by supporting and investing in training and developing their marketers are likely to get better results from their marketing, as well as achieve better staff retention. Many of the best marketers value continuous learning and progression opportunities more than a punchy salary. 

#7:  Marketing and sales alignment

Marketers need to play a bigger role in how businesses offer and execute marketing initiatives for their commercial clients. They need to work more closely with the sales teams who are selling marketing services in order to create marketing campaigns and initiatives that are more engaging (ideally content-led), effective, and can demonstrate ROI.

In summary, the key to success for B2B media and event marketing over the coming years will be about high-value, engaging and unique content delivered via a highly personalised, multi-channel approach that is executed, measured, and optimised with a rigorous approach. There are no shortcuts. But there are definite market-leadership opportunities to be grabbed when the right kind of marketing approach receives a good level of investment and executive support.

 


 

“MPG has a deep understanding of the pain points in marketing within our industry, and they can deliver a strong base of best practice, having been through this process with so many community-focused events businesses. Their rigour and structured process really gives us confidence.”

Phoebe Kimble-Wilde, Marketing Director at MarketforceLive

 


Do you need help defining a marketing strategy that is aligned with your business objectives?

High performance marketing that drives revenue growth and consistently delivers against business objectives can only be achieved when based on a robust marketing strategy. MPG’s Marketing strategists have a wealth of experience and expertise in developing high impact marketing strategies for B2B brands. Get in touch to find out how we can help you get ahead.

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The future of B2B events: 5 insights from MPG

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an excellent strategy-focused roundtable organised by Renewd, the global, open network of specialised subscription, membership and event professionals. More than half of participants were business owners, and all participants were senior executives responsible for long term strategy development, with events being a key part in their product mix and revenue growth plans.

From the discussions, it was clear that events-focused organisations are still in – and will continue to face – a great deal of uncertainty. Transformational, rapid change has occurred in almost every market, and therefore the ‘extreme and ongoing change’ paradigm we find ourselves in could well be the ‘new normal’ for some time. 

Based on the observations of MPG’s senior leadership team, and what came out of the Renewd round-table discussions, five specific areas have surfaced that, at this time, present particular risk – and in some cases significant opportunity – for organisations where events play an important role:

(Note: when referring to ‘events’ below, we’re referring collectively to all events that are being run in virtual, hybrid and digital formats)

#1: Competition is more intense than ever. Nearly every market has a great range of events for customers to choose from, especially in digital formats.

Barriers to entry have been lowered for new event organisers, while ‘legacy’ event organisers are also running more events, and plan to continue to do so.

So there is a huge amount of noise out there, with inboxes and social feeds buzzing constantly with numerous ‘must attend’ events and ‘last chances to book’. This won’t die down any time soon, if ever.

#2: Event audience expectations have changed – for good. They expect value, and are still willing to pay for it with their time, attention and money.

Event participants want better value for money from events of all formats. They are expecting high quality production, as well as highly relevant, valuable and unique content and networking.

Targeted event attendees don’t mind giving their time, attention and money to event organisers who deliver what they most value. They also don’t mind being ‘sold to’ by sponsors and exhibitors, as long as they are the right vendors worth meeting, and all vendors respect a ‘content-led, value-first’ approach.

#3: An audience-first, data-led and research-informed approach to product development, content creation and marketing is essential.

A deep understanding of your audience is essential for any B2B event organiser’s survival, and this understanding should be based on robust data and research practices. 

If you don’t understand your audience – at all times – you cannot create or deliver what they most value. If you don’t serve up what they most value, they won’t give you their time and attention. And if you don’t have their time and attention, you can’t monetise them via ticket sales or via sponsors/exhibitors.

#4: Commercial clients want more data, better qualified leads, and strong visibility of event performance.

Event organisers are being interrogated more by sponsors and exhibitors to prove ROI. They are asking for data and proof points focused on relevance of the audience and quality of leads delivered.

They are now comparing events to the other digital alternatives they relied on for lead generation when Covid first came along. In the time it took for events organisers to postpone, and then pivot their events to digital, many sponsors and exhibitors did their own ‘testing and learning’ – trying out content-led ABM campaigns, digital advertising and even their own events. A lot of this will stick – especially because the data around how these deliver ROI is generally quite strong, and most importantly, visible. 

Events organisers, by and large, are still playing catch up on the ‘data-led insights’ front. In the near future they will have to match what their clients can get elsewhere. 

#5: Hybrid working and the ‘great resignation’ have meant that good leadership, strong people and team management, good team culture and investing in employees are now top priorities. 

Event organisers are having to work very hard to retain the talent they have, and they are having to work even harder to find and attract new talent. Flexible working and well thought-out, carefully planned ‘facetime’ with team mates, managers and subordinates is now expected. 

Organisational and brand purpose, positive culture, attention to employees’ wellbeing, CSR initiatives and investment in professional training and development have all become important in attracting, keeping and motivating staff. These are no longer ‘nice to haves’ – they really matter to current and potential new employees.

If you have more insights to share, or particular view on the insights above, please do get in touch. And make sure you subscribe to MPG Insights to receive the follow up article to this blog – which will explore what this all means for marketing, and marketers, in B2B media and events businesses.

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MPG did a great job developing a marketing strategy to help us grow one of our flagship communities and largest US events. They added a level of science, rigour and new thinking to our approach that our internal marketers are excited about, giving me confidence we’ll achieve great things together. It is a pleasure working with Team MPG!

Philip Doyle, Director, MarketforceLive

 


Do you need help defining a marketing strategy that is aligned with your business objectives?

High performance marketing that drives revenue growth and consistently delivers against business objectives can only be achieved when based on a robust marketing strategy. MPG’s Marketing strategists have a wealth of experience and expertise in developing high impact marketing strategies for B2B brands. Get in touch to find out how we can help you get ahead.

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What’s going on with email marketing?

Email is a challenging area for B2B media and events businesses right now. Several companies have recently told us they are struggling to maintain strong levels of engagement and good enough results from their email campaigns – especially where email marketing had been a strong channel for them until relatively recently.

When investigating this email marketing challenge for a range of clients, we are finding that declining email performance is due to a similar set of issues, all of which have similar solutions, regardless of the market or product in focus.

In this post, we share MPG’s five key recommendations for fixing an email marketing performance problem:

#1: Messaging strategy development

  • There are 4 things to get right with your database to achieve strong engagement and conversions:
    (1) relevance
    (2) currency
    (3) size/number of contacts you can email
    (4) how your contacts are tagged, or organised.
    Simply put, you need a database of enough of the right kinds of contacts (those who will find your value proposition relevant and valuable), that are up to date and correct, in order to achieve engagement and conversions at the required level.
  • To understand how much room there is for growth in your database, you must understand your total addressable market (TAM).
  • Lead generation tactics such as downloadable content pieces, powered by inbound marketing, are a very important way to constantly and reliably grow your database with relevant, interested, and engaged contacts, all year-round.
  • Additionally, dedicated, targeted database research is a very effective way of filling key gaps with relevant (high quality) contacts. Get in touch with MPG to find out how we can help you invest well in this kind of research – to achieve a strong return on investment, short term and longer term.

Find out more about MPG’s Database Development & Optimisation services

#2: Segment and target

Segmentation and targeting well have always proved – in MPG’s projects – to almost instantly improve email performance. The main purpose of segmentation and targeting is to make sure the content of the email as relevant as possible to the person receiving it.

Firmographic, behaviour-based, and demographic segmentation are the three methods we recommend – often to be used concurrently. The exact segmentation method chosen should always be based on the desired outcome of improving relevance to the audience. More relevance = more engagement, which usually = more conversions, which usually = more revenue.

To enable segmentation, ensure your lead generation (data capture) and data research efforts include the categorisation needed to organise your contacts well to enable segmentation and targeting.

Emails targeted as specific segments should be used to present the most valuable and compelling benefits and features from the perspective of the email recipient. As with all marketing, measure to understand results and improve as you go along.

#3: Get and use a messaging strategy

To make sure your email copy is highly relevant, and to ensure the relevant messaging is consistent and reinforced at every stage of the customer journey, you need a dedicated messaging strategy.

As part of this, it is important to consider which stage your customer is currently navigating in their journey in purchasing from you. Using progressively more product-focused, persuasive language as customers become more engaged will support your conversions.

#4: Make your website work well

As the end destination of all your emails, your website is a key component in the success of email marketing as a channel.

Your website is where customers should end up when they click on an email, so it is essential the journey from email to landing page is logical and seamless. For example, if an email recipient clicks on a Download Brochure CTA, they should be directed straight to a page where this is possible – not a website homepage where they then need to hunt for the thing they’re looking for. 

As the purpose of email marketing is to drive traffic to your website, it is essential your website is easy to navigate and presents the most relevant information to the email recipient. 

Your website is also essential for strong lead generation, so having your website properly optimised will both increase your pool of contacts for future email campaigns, and improve the lead conversion you get from existing contacts.

Find out about MPG’s Optimised Website Services

#5: Get a good mix of content-led, product-led, and offer-led emails

Having a variety of content-led, product-led, and offer-led emails ensures dynamic and engaging messaging and CTAs, which in turn improves email performance. 

Avoid fatigue and messaging stagnation by using a good mix of email content. For event marketing in particular, plan well ahead with a marketing timeline where emails tell a story well based on how your product is developing. For subscriptions and membership marketing, map dynamic and relevant content in to an automated workflow. This will keep your content fresh and engaging for your audience.

And of course, before drafting an email, you should have a good idea of what your objective(s) are, e.g. pushing downloads of a new brochure, or registering interest. This will ensure focus on a core message, and make measurement of success more valid and viable.


There is a lot more to be said about how to make email marketing work well – it is a formidable topic! Considering the above 5 recommendations as a first step will ensure you have are covering all your bases. A comprehensive guide on email content best practices could populate several blogs! For now, here are the key points to keep in mind:

1) Test & learn
When it comes to email, small changes can make a big difference, so it’s important to test and learn from your emails about what drives the best engagement.

Areas for testing include:

  • Subject lines – your subject line will indicate straight away whether your email is relevant and interesting to the recipient. Using an open ended question is a great way to capture people’s attention, and you can then go on to answer the question within the body of the email. The best way to to approach this will depend on the email content and audience. Try different approaches and measure results to identify the optimal one.
  • Sender names – in the same way that you A/B test your subject lines, monitor your open rates to see which “from” name leads to the best results. Depending on the focus of the email, you may find your recipients prefer to open emails from your event director or sales reps/account managers (e.g. for offer led emails, or spex campaigns). We usually find with B2B emails that includethe sender’s full name alongside the company’s name work well, e.g. “Full name @ MPG”
  • Call-to-action variations – test a variety of CTAs to see what makes your audience click e.g. ‘View full agenda’ vs ‘Discover key themes’. See more on CTAs below.
  • Format – experiment with different combinations of plain text/designed, brand sender/personal sender info, and short/long content. Run A/B split tests constantly and track results (focus on click through rate) to identify the content style the audience prefers for the different types of comms.

Don’t forget: when doing email tests, you should always only test one variable at a time.

2) Clear call-to-actions (CTAs)
Limit yourself to two, max. three CTAs in each email, thinking about the action you want your audience to take, and prioritising that. Your CTAs should always contain a verb and it’s a good idea to vary the terms you use. For example, rather than saying ‘Book now’ for every purchase CTA, you could use ‘Secure your place’, or ‘Register today to claim your discount’.

Ensure that the landing pages you are driving traffic to are optimised for a smooth and consistent user journey between channels. Start and finish with the primary action you want the reader to take so that there is an obvious next step when reading (or skimming!) the email.

3) Use personalisation
Short, plain-text emails from a personal sender name tend to work best for ‘personal’ reminders to leads and other warm contacts, e.g ‘I want to make sure you don’t miss the earlybird’ or ‘I’m the Sponsorship Manager at x, I thought you’d find this useful…’ Combine personal sender names with personal subjects lines, e.g. ‘Will I see you there?’

4) Sender email
Email marketing requires trust between the sender and the recipient. Using ‘noreply’ email addresses can erode this trust, and can harm your deliverability if noreply email addresses are automatically filtered to spam folders. Using a reply email that appears to be a personal email will build trust and will provide an open channel of communication between your organisation and your customers. The email can direct people to a shared inbox which can be monitored for genuine responses from your customers.

In this article we have presented a set of strategic and holistic suggestions, alongside practical and actionable tips. This holistic approach is important because all elements of your marketing are interrelated. You cannot view a particular marketing challenge or opportunity in a simplistic, one-dimensional way. All digital marketing channels are dynamic and connected, so a dynamic and connected view and solution is also needed for your email marketing!


Do you need to improve the performance of your email marketing?

Team MPG includes email marketing experts who can help you create, refine, and execute on an Email Marketing Strategy. Or we can create an Email Marketing Playbook for your team, with a set of guidelines, examples, and templates that will drive stronger engagement, and growth-driving results.
Please get in touch to find out more. 


The work MPG has done with my team has been really valuable. Their strong strategic and operational marketing expertise, and the way they have shared it with us, has been highly relevant for our business – helping us address multiple challenges and opportunities we face.

David Laird, President & CEO, Strategy Institute

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5 things I’ve learnt from event CEOs this year

This article has been written by The Share Theory, a content agency that work with many of the same businesses as MPG’s team of marketing specialists.
Key points in this post:
  1. Stop asking – it’s ruining your engagement
  2. Don’t get distracted by your new business model
  3. You see opportunity, your team sees more tasks
  4. You might be undervaluing your digital product – don’t guess what your market will pay
  5. Grow your non-event inventory

 

In Q1 2021, The Share Theory published a series of reports on the future of events based on in-depth interviews with around 20 event CEOs and founders. They share their experiences of pivoting their businesses during the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Three key areas which event organisers needed to tackle were identified: ‘product’, ‘content and community’ and ‘skillsets and mindsets’. Over the last six months, The Share Theory team has been working with industry leaders and founders to help them deliver on these key areas through market research, consulting, training, and content development.

It’s been interesting to see how the ideals, plans, and opportunities identified during 2020 have been coming to fruition, and which obstacles have been thrown up for event leaders keen to pivot to a more ‘shock-proof’ business model.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned:

#1: Stop asking – it’s ruining your engagement

Regular event communications have been disrupted by a switch to digital: a proliferation of smaller, more frequent digital offerings, and increasing push communication. Paired with global inclination to Zoom and email fatigue, databases are getting tired, and engagement is dropping through the floor. Push marketing isn’t working any more. You need to ask yourself what your communication gives back to your community, and what two-way conversations you’re having with your audience.

#2: Don’t get distracted by your new business model

As an industry, our conversations have focussed recently on the key pillars of content, community, and events, but we need to remember these are tools for delivering value, not where the value lies. Communication with clients must deliver on their needs, and not on your planned offering – they’re not looking for formats, they’re looking for interaction, support, and expertise. Prior to 2020, your event business was focused on on-site customer experience over two, three, or four days and all other communications were auxiliary to that. If you want a 360 relationship with your customers, you need to ingrain an understanding of (and passion for) customer needs in every interaction your team has with them.

#3: You see opportunity, your team sees more tasks

We are usually engaged by senior management to support strategic transition, content projects, or training for event businesses. The owners and CEOs we speak to are driven and excited by pursuing opportunities in the market. The bigger challenge we face is in winning over middle management – heads of function or portfolio managers – who don’t see opportunity, they see an increasing list of tasks and new KPIs to manage their teams to. For a team that has just survived the hardest 18 months of their careers, you need to make the outcomes feel real, and tie the processes to career development opportunities bolstered by training and support to get their full buy-in.

#4: You might be undervaluing your digital product

The shift to digital has lowered barriers to entry, and flooded the market with digital event offerings and online content. There’s no denying that huge amounts of free content mean that charging for digital events is getting harder and harder. But, don’t assume your market won’t pay, and don’t devalue your work by giving it away with no clear return in mind. I’ve been helping several clients with research projects to test pricing, and the evidence points to the fact that customers will still pay for content driving a clear benefit for them. If your content adds value, it should generate a return and if it doesn’t – why are you doing it?

#5: Grow your non-event inventory

Some businesses have been able to pivot quickly to non-event inventory if they have strong sponsor relationships in place. I’ve worked on some interesting sponsored reports in particular – surveys build engagement, interviews with advocates build trust, and the reports themselves provide both provide credible market intel, and build brand capital for you and your sponsor. Making non-event inventory work starts with your sales team: get them bought into the value, build them a solid inventory, and make the benefits clear before they get on the phone.

You can still access the reports in full here. The Share Theory is a content and research agency which specialises in supporting event businesses pivot to a more communicative, content based business model through consulting, strategic support, training and content delivery. If you’d like to find out more (or for a chat about any of the points made in the report) visit www.thesharetheory.com or email hello@thesharetheory.com.
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Conference marketing: brand, community, data, technology and skills

The pandemic rages on, but we keep moving forward. Since the start of last year, conference organisers have been severely challenged and many have risen to this challenge with great courage and aplomb. 

Some conference-focused businesses are now even more profitable, and certainly stronger and more sustainable, than before Covid-19 entered our world. 

Team MPG has been looking hard at what has differentiated the pandemic ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’ in the conference world, especially when it comes to the marketing to attract an engaged, high-quality audience, and the right kinds of sponsors. 

We have found the following five key success factors:

#1: Brand

From the day the pandemic struck, there was a flight to safety. Conferences with well known, well-positioned brands, and a strong reputation for delivering something uniquely valuable and important, found their audiences following them online as they pivoted to virtual. 

These well-branded and smartly positioned conferences also found that:

  • They attracted a vast number of new customers who were delighted to be able to access content and networking opportunities that were previously inaccessible to them.
  • A brand-new group of sponsors cropped up who were very keen to invest in new, digital offerings.
  • New products spun out in the digital space gained good traction quite fast.

#2: Community

The ‘family and friends’ of valuable conferences recognised very quickly that what was going to be offered online by the brands that had relied on and trusted to that point, was going to be incredibly important as they navigated the stormy seas of Covid-19.

Conference organisers that had already invested in their brands, and building meaningful relationships with their communities, had the upper hand when moving online. However, there was one caveat – what they delivered online had to be tailored to the needs of their audience, and not to the needs of their sponsors.

The Zoom calls, webinars and conferences that went online became an important place for humans in lockdown to find solace, friendship, safety, and a way forward – as part of a community that became even stronger with online interaction at a time when in-person meetings were just not possible.

#3: Data

Data is a vast and daunting topic, but the most successful conference organisers always utilise it fully.

Those who had strong marketing databases that are well-structured and surrounded with good processes, have generally found their transformation to becoming more digitally-led businesses much easier and more rewarding than those running their email campaigns out of spreadsheets…

And, conference organisers who know how to use analytics to track audience engagement and user behaviour were in a great place to test and learn, fast. They have been able to observe, in real time, how and where their audiences are engaging, and act fast to make the most of the best opportunities to scale their digital offerings.

The conference organisers that continue to invest in their database and analytics going forward will be the definite winners in the race ahead.

#4: Technology

It seems almost unnecessary to mention technology as an important success factor in the response to Covid. Of course, tech has played a huge and central role.

What we have observed is that the companies that have been smart at investing in implementing and optimising the right marketing tech, integrated with their virtual event platforms, have a distinct advantage. We expect they will reap the rewards from these smart tech manoeuvres for years to come.

#5: Skills

All the above relies on the right marketing skills applied to your brand, community, data, and technology. What has the pandemic meant for conference marketing people and skills?

Marketers are now being tasked with marketing a whole array of products and delivering much larger, engaged audiences. To do this, they must ensure that: 

  • The value and user-friendliness of their digital and in-person offerings are well communicated with compelling, relevant messages delivered via multiple digital channels, many of which needed to be automated (more on that later in this blog).
  • They have well-structured and large enough database of relevant contacts for impactful email marketing.
  • They are using inbound tactics and channels effectively to reach out to much larger audiences, extending well beyond the relevant people on their database. Content marketing, social media, PPC, advocacy marketing, conversion rate optimisation, and SEO have all become incredibly important.
  • They are automating a large part of their marketing, especially for digital events where audiences need highly responsive, highly personalised messages landing in their inboxes at exactly the right time.

A large volume of data-led, digitally enabled, compelling and engaging marketing of new products has had to be delivered in a very short space of time.

At the same time, marketers have also been given many ‘product’ and ‘logistics’ areas to look after. Being the most digitally savvy function in a conference business meant that conference marketers have been put under tremendous pressure, while also being given the opportunity to make a huge difference to ‘surviving and thriving’ in response to Covid. 

It’s a shame that so many conference organisers saw marketing as the place to cut costs as the pandemic took hold. 

It appears that the conference organisers that decided to increase their marketing investment instead, and deploy their marketing assets in the right way, not only did better in their pivots, but are now also in a stronger position to bounce back faster as live events return and the world economy starts recovering.

MPG predicted this would be the case at the start of the pandemic. We warned businesses not to let their marketers go, to double down on their marketing investment and take their branding, communities, messaging, data, and tech very seriously. This is of course not surprising we are, after all, a team of devoted and zealous career marketers! 

But, I think we’re right. 

We will watch with great interest and excitement as live events start to return, and the reborn and brand-new conference businesses emerge from their ‘Covid-era states’. 

We firmly believe the winners will be those who have made strong and smart marketing investments to deal with the challenges and grab the opportunities presented by Covid and will continue to do so.

 

“I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital, and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!”

Toby Daniels, Founder, Social Media Week (Acquired by Adweek)

 


Do you need some marketing muscle to grow your conferences?

MPG has a team of experienced and highly skilled conference marketers who can give your events a boost. Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get ahead.

Find out more

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Building a winning B2B membership model: where your marketing should start

When the B2B media and events world was first plunged into the unknown at the start of the global pandemic, many ‘pivots to digital’ focused on creating or strengthening a membership proposition, typically something ‘high value’ (£500+ per user per annum). 

This was a perfectly logical move to make considering the more stable, predictable, recurring revenues that memberships promise. 

And we all know that this is the holy grail of business valuations: 3+ years of healthy, consistently growing membership revenues – fed by both retention (and ideally annual upsell in volume of users and average order value), and a steady stream of newly acquired, good quality members. This is what gets the investors lining up and paying handsomely.  

At this moment in time, we believe it’s important to take a very sober look at what has really happened over the last 18 months or so. Since January/February 2020, business owners faced the catastrophe of live event revenues falling away – knowing full well that digital alternatives were likely to generate a fraction of the revenue. 

Generally speaking, those with relatively established membership products and/or digital subscriptions already in the market saw higher demand for these services. As live events weren’t running (and it took a while for digital events to emerge as reasonable alternatives), their members/subscribers started looking to these offerings to meet their knowledge and networking needs. 

And many that did not already have a membership proposition started working hard and fast to create one. 

But, as organisations in both of these situations will know, creating and establishing a successful membership model requires significant investment and takes time. A reasonable payoff is often only realised 5+ years after the first version of the membership offering was launched. 

And what most successful, profitable membership service owners will know, is that a smart, strategic marketing effort, fully integrated with leading and supporting the sales function, is essential.  

In the early stages, many put most of their marketing dollars into a shiny new piece of martech, seeing this as a ‘silver bullet’ solution to make their membership marketing somehow magically work well with limited marketing resources. This is one of the biggest, most costly mistakes we see made – again, and again. 

What should come first is a robust and well thought through marketing strategy. This should be aligned with and built to fully support your business, product development and sales strategies.

So, where should the marketing strategy start? It should always start with the ‘Control’ part of the SOSTACⓇ model that MPG recommends marketing leaders follow when building a marketing strategy. SOSTACⓇ stands for:

S = Situational Analysis
O = Objectives
S = Strategy
T = Tactics
A = Action (operational plan)
C = Control 

Even though C is the last letter in the SOSTAC acronym, it should come first in your process when developing and implementing a winning membership marketing strategy. Why? Because you need to know how you’re going to measure success, and how your marketing investments are going to help you achieve this success.

If you don’t have the right KPIs, people, systems and processes in place to measure your growth – and where this growth is coming from – how will you be able to prove to your potential investors that you have a strong, predictable and growing membership revenue stream?

Put this measurement system in place at the start of your membership journey, and you will have all the analytics you need to tell your growth story for investors in 3 years time.

This data is what gives you strong visibility of how your membership is actually performing, what is holding you back, and what is driving growth. It’s essential for making good decisions that will enable you to make the right investments and build that ‘holy grail’ membership proposition that will make your business so attractive to investors. 

Focusing on measuring membership marketing success from the very beginning will also ensure your marketing and sales are integrated from the start. Marketing and sales KPIs need to be completely joined up. 

MPG has been working with B2B membership-focused organisations since we launched in 2014, and in all that time the following KPIs have proven to be invaluable in how businesses build a strong marketing and sales function, and how this translates into business value. 

Member acquisition – strategic KPIs for membership marketing & sales

Your key metrics should be focused around:

  • Database
  • Sales & Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Sales & Sales Cycle
  • Revenue
  • Yield

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE FULL STRATEGIC KPIS

Member retention – strategic KPIs for membership marketing & sales

Your key metrics should be focused around:

  • Onboarding
  • Engagement Scoring
  • Sales
  • Renewal cycle

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE FULL STRATEGIC KPIS

If you already have a membership model in play, it’s not too late to add these KPIs to your existing workflow and business reporting!

Nailing down KPIs and knowing how you will measure and analyse these regularly for good decision making is just the starting point. 

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of blogs about:

  • The ideal member retention process: how to retain members before you start acquiring them – your retention efforts must start the day they sign up for membership. 
  • The ideal member acquisition process: how to build a marketing and sales funnel that becomes a powerful feeder of new business to achieve strong membership growth over an extended period of time. 
  • The best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering: to achieve strong member retention rates and to act as a growth engine for membership acquisitions. 

If you’re aiming to build a strong membership offering and you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email in your inbox every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create another resource (e.g. webinar or report) that you will benefit from. 

 


Is growing membership revenue a strategic focus for your business? 

Team MPG creates and executes on robust membership marketing strategies that support both acquisition and retention growth. Find out more about our approach – get in touch

 


MPG delivered a great series of tailored marketing workshops for the team at China Britain Business Council. This training helped us formulate our membership growth strategy and gave us some very useful, practical guidance on improving our digital marketing and sales tactics.”

Claire Urry, Executive Director, China-Britain Business Council

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The ‘always-on’ future of events: what this means for event marketing…

In December 2020, to less fanfare than one would expect, a ‘must read’ book for events professionals was published – particularly those working in senior roles within commercial events businesses.

Reinventing Live: The Always-on Future of Events, co-authored by Denzil Rankine and Marco Giberti, takes a look at the ever evolving role of events in facilitating business, connections and advocacy – and how the ‘Covid accelerator’ effect has come into play.

 

The event organizer should no longer be an event organizer, they should be the community catalyst.

Denzil Rankine, founder and executive chairman of AMR International, co-author of Reinventing Live: The Always-on Future of Events

 

In this excellent article by Michelle Russell, editor in chief of the PCMA’s Convene, she shares her interview with Denzil Rankine where key themes from the book are dissected. The overarching sentiment of the article is something that is very much aligned with MPG’s ethos – that building digital-first, community-led, hybrid brands is the way forward!

“Hybrid” is the big word of the moment and in a number of years, it will disappear. It will just be completely normal for a conference to have a digital journey beforehand, to have an in-person experience, and connection supported by more digital tools with remote attendance, and then more follow-up. That’s just going to be a “conference” and no one’s going to call it a “hybrid conference.” It’s like, you don’t go into someone’s house now and say, “Whoa, you’ve got electricity.” It’s just there. So we will get to that point — the sooner the better.”

Michelle’s article got me thinking: what does this mean for event marketing leaders and other senior leaders  focused on marketing strategies for B2B conference businesses? How is this rapid evolution of events already  impacting the event marketing approach? How will this continue to change as we move forward and hopefully start accelerating away from the pandemic soon? 

Here are the 4 things that Team MPG believes you should have ‘front of mind’ right now:

 

#1 Marketing strategy

A key point of discussion in both the book and the article is the general lack of an event strategy in some organisations and how detrimental this is to the health of a particular event and the viability of the events business as whole. 

Having a robust event marketing strategy is a part of this. When we ran our event marketing strategy webinar back in March, only 65% of the attendees said they had a strong marketing strategy in place. This is worrying for the future of events! B2B event organisers should habitually invest in developing marketing strategies for their events. This is a key investment area to support sustainable event growth.

 

#2 Marketing data

Data is an integral cog in any well-oiled marketing machine. This is the case now more than ever, as we move to a hybrid –  or as described in the article, the ‘online, offline, online’ approach to events. 

When we talk about data for your event marketing, there are 3 distinct data variants you should be looking at: 

  • Your event/community database – online events and communities need a much larger, global database to achieve the audience volume and online engagement your brands need to thrive
  • Customer data – a deep understanding of your audiences behaviour and engagement will help you to continue to offer best in class products that meet, and exceed, your customers needs
  • Performance data –  measuring the impact of all your marketing across all channels, in a granular way, will provide you with relevant insights to inform your marketing going forward

 

#3 Marketing tech

Tech has been a cornerstone in the ‘pivot to digital’ that just about every events organiser in the world had to do – on a hairpin.

But it’s not just the ‘new’ virtual event platforms that has enabled the move to online. The event organisers that most successfully navigated the pivot to digital had their marketing tech well integrated with their event tech. 

A well set up ‘product + marketing’ tech stack is essential as we move forward into our ‘new normal’ for events. Data needs to flow well between systems – with most, if not all, data flows automated. 

For event organisers to emerge well from the pandemic, it is likely they will need to spend more time and money on martech than they would have done without the ‘Covid accelerator’ in play… 

Strategic and impactful investments in martech and data mean that marketing processes can be automated, enabling deeper engagement with more customers, resulting in more opportunities for monetisation and scalable events.

 

#4 Marketing skills

It would be a tragic misjudgement – with quite severe consequences – to undervalue marketing skills as we emerge from the pandemic. Your event marketing function needs to include strong strategic thinkers and excellent doers – across all areas of creative, copy, data, martech, analytics and campaign management. 

Building a sustainable marketing function with the right mind-set and skills is critical. But as with most valuable things, require a strategic approach and investment. When considering how you build the necessary capabilities in your marketing department , a strategic, hybrid approach should be considered as a cost-effective way and impactful approach. The right hybrid approach will build agility, flexibility and strong skill sets into your marketing team and should be considered for the short, medium and long term. 

Marketing strategy, marketing data, marketing tech and marketing skills. Take a good hard look at these if you want to ensure your re-invented events thrive and grow in the new world. 

MPG has supported the growth of B2B conferences and exhibitions across a wide range of sectors and regions of the world.  We can help you successfully develop and execute your event marketing strategies, build and optimise your database and martech stacks, and future proof your marketing function by helping you upskill your team.. Get in touch today to see how we can help your marketing achieve a stronger ROI as the ‘future of events’ becomes a reality.

 


“I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.”

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst

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The essential, strategic marketing approach to growing your B2B Events

As B2B leaders look to plug the revenue holes created during the global pandemic, growing a flagship event or brand is likely to be top of the list. The most forward- thinking B2B leaders have realised that growing their events is also strategically important when it comes to driving high-value memberships and monetising communities.

All too often when trying to grow a flagship event or brand, the temptation is to dive straight into the tactics. But as Sun Tzu, possibly one of the world’s greatest strategists, said “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.

A well constructed strategy to grow your event requires an investment of focus, attention, time (and potentially money – if you’re bringing in outside help). However, spending a few weeks working with all the key stakeholders will be time well spent!

MPG has been delivering strong events revenue growth for our B2B events clients since 2014. During this time, Team MPG has fine-tuned the methodology for creating event marketing strategies that consistently deliver year-on-year revenue growth. Here we share with you the 7 steps Team MPG takes when creating a robust strategy to drive event revenue growth, and consistently deliver a strong marketing ROI.

7 steps to building a robust event growth marketing strategy

#1 Situational analysis

Conducting a situational analysis is an important first step in any strategy development. It will provide you with an overview of the ‘starting point’ for your brand and product, the capabilities that your organisation and team have which can impact growth potential, and the risks and opportunities faced. Having a strong understanding of these elements is essential in determining your future event growth strategy.

Key components to include in your situational analysis are:

  • Customer analysis: who your customers are (demographics, behaviours etc), and what their pain points, challenges and opportunities are. What tasks can they get done, or done better, by investing time, attention and/or money in your brand or product? You need a very strong understanding of your customers’ needs in order to create, deliver, and effectively communicate a value proposition that meets these needs.
  • Value proposition analysis: an evaluation of your product, or set of products & services within a brand, and the value it delivers to your customers, as well as how these meet your customers’ needs. Think ‘product-market fit’.
  • Competitor analysis: who they are and what competitive advantage do they have over you, or vice versa – Price? Value? Ease of use? Reputation? Share of market? Remember that events don’t just compete with other events – they also compete with any other offering that meets the same customer needs.
  • Environment analysis: look at external factors such as political, economic or technology trends and the impact they have on your business.
  • SWOT analysis: taking your environmental and competitor analysis into consideration, document the strengths and weaknesses within your team that will impact your success , as well as opportunities and threats that may affect your brand or product’s performance – in the short, medium, and long term.

 

#2 Commercial targets & pricing

  • Commercial targets: based on the year-on-year growth you are aiming for, and factoring in historical attendee numbers and revenues, fix your commercial targets for the next 3 years.
  • Pricing: product pricing will be influenced by a number of variables including the format(s) the event will be delivered in – virtual, hybrid, or in-person. Pricing will need to be modelled to ensure that your commercial targets can be met  – you’ll also  have to compare them to other competitive offerings to understand where you’re pitching based on alternatives.

 

#3 Value proposition and positioning

Events are now competing more than ever with alternative, online, free (or cheap) content and networking opportunities, so a clear USP (unique selling point) and a compelling set of benefits is essential for success.

With your competition in mind, you need to clearly articulate why your audience should be choosing your event over any alternative solutions. It’s also important to consider your own internal products that might be competing for the attention and/or spend from the same target audience.

 

#4 Target audience database

An essential aspect of growing your event will be to understand which market segments to focus on to deliver the desired growth. The best way to understand the composition of your end-user market is to create a market map and conduct a robust market sizing exercise.

Sizing your market and analysing this against your existing database will help you identify where your key gaps are when aiming to reach your target audience directly. You may need to budget for and prioritise a data acquisition project, focusing on top priority contacts that will deliver the fastest return on your investment. You also need to consider how inbound marketing activity will help you attract customers from key audience segments where you don’t currently have strong database coverage.

 

#5 Messaging & segmentation strategy

Using your key market segments defined in step 4, develop a messaging strategy for each of those segments. Key considerations for the messaging include:
Refining the USP, and making it clear in the high-level messaging.
Creating strong, benefit-led messages to clearly communicate the value someone will get if they choose to attend your event
Making benefits of attending specifically relevant to each audience segment

It’s important to ensure that the messaging is fully aligned across all channels throughout the marketing campaign.

In our recent MPG article, ‘Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide’ we outlined the 5 steps you need to take to build well planned and executed marketing messaging.

 

#6 Marketing campaign planning & execution

Only at step 6 should you focus on the specific channels and tactics for delegate acquisition and conversion. The biggest mistake most event organisers make is making this their starting point, rather than first doing the essential groundwork in steps 1 – 5.

MPG’s methodology and best practice for attracting audiences to events is to optimise every stage of the ‘marketing funnel’:

  • Awareness: at the top of the funnel, focus on building brand awareness and interest via social media, PPC, content marketing and advocacy marketing – with the ultimate goal of driving relevant traffic to the website.
  • Engagement: the primary focus at the middle of the funnel is to use multi-channel marketing that turns aware/interested prospects into engaged leads.
  • Conversion: direct marketing channels come into play at the bottom of the funnel where you focus on converting leads and other engaged prospects into committed delegates, whether they pay to attend or not.

 

#7 Measurement & reporting

To be effective, marketing performance measurement and analysis must be a continuous process. This reporting not only provides stakeholders with vital ongoing visibility of marketing activity, performance and ROI, it also enables the marketing team to make responsive, agile, and data-led decisions.

In addition to tracking leads, revenue, bookings and audience breakdown, you’ll want to measure and analyse the performance of your digital marketing. If you don’t know where to begin, we published an article outlining the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B, which provide you with a strong base to work from.

MPG advises that for any of the metrics you measure, you use internal benchmarks based on relevant, historic performance, and where possible, additional relevant external benchmarks.

 


Do you need better marketing to unlock revenue growth in your business?

Team MPG works with a select group of companies as a key part of their marketing function, providing ongoing strategic insight and direction, as well as consistently strong execution.

If you would like to find out more about working with MPG, please get in touch.

Get in touch


I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media

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Implementing ABM in your business: a ‘how to’ guide

In our last MPG Insights post, we defined Account Based Marketing (ABM) and explained why it’s a marketing approach that B2B businesses should be looking to integrate into their marketing and sales strategies and processes. In this post we focus on the ‘how’, and outline a guide to getting ABM up and running in your business.

Refresher: What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

ABM is a marketing approach to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. Well executed ABM should deliver strong ROI through higher conversion rates, shorter sales cycles and higher average order values. 

Your ‘how to’ guide to building an ABM strategy

1. Identify your target audience members within ABM accounts

Before you can conduct ABM, you need to know who your high-value customers are:  draw up a list of the potential members, subscribers, sponsors/clients or delegates who would be most valuable to have as customers. From this, conduct deeper research to map out the full Decision Making Unit (DMU) around these individuals – including any key influencers of decisions as well.

Ensure that on your database, you have the customer data required to target these decision makers and influencers. If you lack this data, first see if you can use research to fill  these gaps. If data research is not possible or compliance issues make it difficult to hold or target these contacts, narrowly focused PPC campaigns can get your brand and message in front of key stakeholders with targeted companies. Alternatively, you could try and leverage advocates to pass your marketing on to these individuals. 

At this stage, an important action is to identify, understand and document the DMU members in each account. What challenges and opportunities are these people facing, right now? What questions are they desperately seeking answers to? What peers and businesses do they want to connect with? What would make them join your community, purchase your membership or attend your event? What would they hope to achieve by investing time, money and attention into your products?

2. Create relevant messaging and content

The key to making ABM work is delivering highly relevant messaging and content. Every touchpoint should deliver a message that is compelling in isolation, but also cohesive with the wider journey.

Before you can get into the details of customer journeys and specific channel tactics, first formulate the key messages, focused on products and features, USPs and benefits – that will resonate with each identified account. What is it about your value proposition that meets the specific needs of each organisation (or group of organisations)? 

The more relevant and specific you can be here, the more impactful your messages will be. If you can explicitly mention one of an account’s most pressing challenges or opportunities in your messaging, and explain how you can help them address this, you will grab their attention.

Next, consider the content you are creating and distributing to individuals within targeted accounts. These are your reports, whitepapers, interviews, webinars or any other type of content piece that is used for marketing and lead generation. While designing content specifically for your ABM needs is likely to deliver a strong result, a practical (faster, cheaper & easier), while effective method is to integrate content by ‘packaging’ it in a way that creates relevance for your targeted accounts. This can be done by prefacing it with context on why it’s relevant to a specific industry or challenge e.g. when using an industry report, you could pull out the section that is the most relevant to the DMU you are contacting.

3. Map the desired customer journeys for targeted individuals

From first contact through to final conversion, understanding the journey your accounts will take through your marketing funnel helps you make better decisions on how to optimise each stage of the journey or touchpoint by putting the right content and messaging in front of the right person, at the right time. 

Consider how quickly you expect accounts to move through the funnel and how often and when they will receive comms. Refer back to the research you did on their motivators: how will they be fed relevant and useful information, specific to their needs?

Get customer journeys down on paper, laying out the various options you think targeted individuals might take. Lucidchart is a great tool for this kind of customer journey mapping. 

4. Create a campaigns plan based on these customer journeys

Using your customer journey maps, map out the specifics of the particular channels and tactics you are going to deploy.

A combination of emails, social media outreach and engagement, PPC ads, content pieces and landing pages should create a compelling and engaging journey that feels relevant and effortless –  ‘made just for me’ from the customer’s perspective. You don’t have to recreate everything from scratch for each account (or group of accounts), but at a minimum consider each touchpoint from the perspective of individuals within your targeted account DMUs. 

For example, grouping contacts by job function and sending them an email tailored to the challenges/needs they will personally experience in their roles will still deliver a relevant and personalised message, while the grouping saves you time and resources as well.

5. Execute sales and marketing campaigns

Once you have a detailed plan in place, you need people in your team with the skills, time and motivation to execute it.

Rigour and agility are valuable traits for marketers working on ABM. Getting targeted messages out to the right people at the right time requires careful forward planning, especially if your ABM efforts are running concurrently to your ‘standard’ marketing campaigns. Adjustments to your targeting, channels, and messaging are likely to be needed as campaigns progress, so critical thinking, an analytical mindset and the ability to execute well and at speed are all essential. 

Project management tools – such as Clickup – can make even complex campaigns easy to manage, especially when multiple stakeholders across sales and marketing are involved. Consider whether your current methods of project management and lead processing are fit for purpose to handle the extra complexity of ABM.

Integration between sales and marketing must be seamless from your targeted customers’ perspective. Sales should be picking up the conversation that marketing already started, and marketing should only be pushing leads to sales teams when they are ready for the harder sales message.

6. Measure and optimise

As with all marketing approaches, ABM relies on measurement and analysis of results. It is important to build to your ABM programme user behaviour and goal completion tracking from the outset, ideally in an automated report that highlights the most important metrics. (Google Data Studio – working in tandem with Google Analytics is a good combination here).

Look for areas where accounts are dropping off or left to ‘cool down’ for too long if not contacted by sales quickly enough. In ‘standard’ marketing, it is expected that a large number of targeted customers will fall out of the funnel on their way down. With ABM, this drop off needs to be minimised, and understanding where and why accounts are disengaging is vital. You’re already placing extra emphasis on the marketing comms for individuals targeted within ABM, so make sure that applies to your reporting too.

ABM is a powerful approach when planned and executed well. But, do ensure that if you go down this path, your plan is to invest well for the longer term. The careful engineering of campaigns and targeted comms takes time to set up, run and show results. As is usually the case with high performance marketing, a strategic mindset and support from senior stakeholders is essential to make ABM work for you. 

 


MPG can help develop your ABM strategy

From creating a robust ABM strategy, to strong execution for maximum impact, MPG has you covered. 

Our team of B2B marketing experts have the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.

With our well mapped out process and martech/salestech set, MPG will help you better integrate your sales and marketing to positively impact your revenue growth. 

Get in touch


MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged in to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy

 

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ABM: Looking beyond the buzzword!

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is not a new concept in B2B marketing. However, as an important integrated B2B marketing and sales approach, we don’t think it is widely understood or used as it should be in B2B media/events businesses and professional membership organisations. 

Regardless of the size of your organisation, product types, or the sectors you serve, every senior business leader and marketer should be embracing ABM and integrating it as part of their overall marketing strategy.  

If you’re keen to learn more about ABM – what it is, why it is important and how you put it into practice, read on! 

This article is ‘part 1’ of MPG’s 2 part blog series, created to guide you through a strategic approach to ABM implementation. Next week we will publish part 2, which will be focused on a step-by-step approach to doing ABM well. 

 

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Simply put, ABM is a marketing strategy to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. 

ABM can also be viewed as a practical application of the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule), whereby 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers. The return on investment from this form of marketing is delivered through:

  • Higher conversion rates: of prospect to lead, and lead to sale, within your most valuable accounts (i.e. those likely to also renew and deliver a strong lifetime value).
  • Shorter sales cycles: your sales team can be more efficient as they have less work to do to convince all decision makers and influencers to sign off on a deal. Alternatively, if an e-commerce deal, this should happen faster due to quicker internal approvals. 
  • Higher average order values: because all decision makers and influencers are well persuaded by very relevant marketing that their purchase will deliver good value.

Many marketers are already conducting a form of ABM, without calling it that! Sending targeted messaging to specific market segments/data sets via email applies the basic principles of ABM. Recipients get more personalised messaging that addresses their specific challenges and needs. ‘Proper’ ABM is about applying this practice more extensively, and across more channels.

ABM typically has the greatest impact for high-value sponsorships, memberships or subscriptions products, or where you need to have specific companies in your audience and/or at your event to satisfy sponsors. It can also apply to acquiring new sponsors/clients for your events or marketing programmes. 

 

Why is ABM more relevant now that before the pandemic?

Several factors have driven the increased importance, and usage, of ABM in recent months. Unsurprisingly, the seismic shifts seen over the past 14 months is the common thread.

Here are the main factors at play:

#1: As many marketing budgets are reduced and marketing teams are smaller, marketers are under significant pressure to deliver campaigns that positively and visibly impact revenue generation. ABM focuses marketers on the accounts that are going to give them the highest return, and as ABM can shorten the sales cycle, in the shortest possible time frame. 

#2: Increased investment in tech and data management, typically to facilitate virtual events and other online offerings, has the knock-on effect of making ABM far more viable and easy (as possible!) to deploy. Successful ABM relies on well organised customer data within a digital infrastructure that enables automation; as well as engage individuals and groups across digital channels, cohesively. 

#3: ABM has filled the gaps left by live events. Crucial in-person touchpoints have, by necessity, been replaced by deeper, multi-channel digital engagement within well-engineered and creative campaigns.  

#4: Across the board, marketing is becoming more important. Marketing is now playing a much more important role in the rapid digital pivots of brands, products and communities, and overall digital transformation organisations. Marketing is also leading the charge in defining the sales and operations strategies – a role reversal from just a few years ago. Organisations have realised that investment in marketing is essential to building and monetising engaged audiences. This was already happening before the pandemic, but has been thrown into the ‘Covid-19 accelerator’ for full disruption mode!

 

Why ABM is key for customer experience 

ABM allows you to deliver more consistent and compelling customer experiences for your most coveted accounts. In very crowded markets, where there is so much digital noise, ABM can make all the difference in securing the customers you need via a compelling and relevant journey towards your brand and product. 

At its core, ABM is about making marketing and sales even more aligned. By defining and actively targeting high-value accounts, and making this integral to both your marketing and sales strategies, you can make your conversion funnel more efficient and cost-effective. Most importantly, your customers will have a much better and streamlined experience as they hurtle towards the bottom of your funnel. 

 

How should ABM be put into practice? 

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll be sharing a step-by-step guide to implementing ABM in your marketing. Subscribe to MPG Insights to be notified when it’s released.

 


MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged in to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy

 


Do you need help developing your ABM marketing strategy? 

Team MPG can help you work out how best to use ABM and deploy this approach for maximum impact. Here are the reasons clients choose MPG for ABM:

  • As experts in all things B2B marketing, Team MPG has the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.
  • MPG will also help you better integrate your sales & marketing. When using ABM, processes need to be well mapped out and joined up for ABM to have a consistently positive impact on your revenue growth.

Team MPG will develop your bespoke, robust strategy, and set up martech/salestech & processes for ABM success. We can also help you execute ABM campaigns for best impact, and measure this impact with MPG’s unique marketing performance dashboards.

Get in touch

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