If you don’t integrate marketing & sales – you can’t grow

Scale requires well integrated sales and marketing.

‘Sales and marketing integration’ feels like one of these jargonny terms that we’ve all started screening out.

It’s over-used in the content marketing pushed out by martech and salestech providers who promise the world – and frustratingly often seem to underdeliver.

Why is that?

Because, the people and process piece is MUCH harder than the tech piece.

While the tech companies are delivering the tools, the ‘people and process’ piece on how best to use them is failing. The teams in the businesses buying and using the tech are not developing and following the strategies and processes needed to make the tech work. One might argue it’s the responsibility of the tech vendors to offer more support on the ‘people and process’ piece. But, regardless of who will do it – it needs to be done!

Since 2014, MPG has been working with business leaders to grow their B2B brands – enabled by marketing strategy, analytics, tech, data and digital. The sales and marketing alignment piece is usually a problem when companies approach us to help them achieve better outcomes from their marketing. And this is what we have witnessed in the most dysfunctional businesses:

  • Sales people are determined to defend their turf – wanting to claim revenue as ‘sales revenue’, even when marketing makes a significant contribution. Why would marketers want to work hard to support sales if they don’t get at least some of the credit (or the commission)?
  • At the same time, marketers are still not being held accountable for commercial results, often hiding behind ‘tech and data jargon’. They’re usually very, very busy, but are not taking responsibility for the outcomes of their spend on tech, data and all those very busy marketing people.
  • Senior executives – including Sales Leaders and Heads of Marketing – are not taking real responsibility for the close collaboration, joined up processes and combined KPI’s that the integrated marketing and sales funnel should deliver.

This is all very dangerous, because how B2B customers buy has changed in a BIG way.

Customers are buying very differently now to how they were 2 years ago, and if Sales and Marketing Leaders don’t get their heads together and work out how to optimise the full customer experience, their businesses will:

  1. Lose customers
  2. Be less efficient
  3. Be less profitable
  4. Struggle to scale

It is incredibly important for your marketing and sales teams to be integrated if you want to grow your business. If you support sales effectiveness and efficiency by ensuring marketing is well set up with the right strategy, processes, tools and resources, you will be able to:

  1. Reach and engage with a larger number of potential customers
  2. Qualify and nurture leads better to achieve higher conversion rates, higher average order values and shorter sales cycles.
  3. Measure important KPIs critical to achieving growth.

 

To learn more about how you achieve faster and more profitable growth by integrating your sales and marketing function better, thereby ensuring the whole, combined funnel is fully optimised, download the MPG’s guide here.

 

This resource walks you through the following 3 stages of the sales and marketing funnel:

 

#1 Awareness (top of funnel)

  • In this stage, prospects are indicating there is a problem or opportunity that they may be able to address by investing in your product.
  • Prospects are starting to educate themselves, conducting research to understand, frame, and give a name to the problem or opportunity they are facing.
  • This is where you should focus marketing efforts on building brand awareness, interest and an audience of relevant prospects through inbound marketing and data acquisition. Email marketing targeting relevant people should also be used at this stage of the funnel, especially for very time-sensitive campaigns, such as those that support B2B events.
  • Here your aim is to draw in as many of the right people as possible – with the overall goal of pushing them to your website.

 

#2 Engagement (middle of funnel)

  • In this second stage of the funnel, the prospect has defined their issue or opportunity, and they want to do more in-depth research to understand all the available approaches or methods for addressing a challenge or making the most of an opportunity.
  • Due to widespread, rapid adoption by consumers of more digital behaviours, and preferences for more control of their own buying journey, marketing needs to play an important role here in terms of serving up content-led and product-led messages across multiple channels and tactics – all working together with joined up messaging.
  • At this stage of the funnel, marketing needs to grow engagement and convert people who pay attention to their marketing into qualified leads – giving them ways to signal their intent and readiness to buy – before they are contacted by a salesperson.

 

#3 Conversion (bottom of funnel)

  • This third stage is where sales people need to get involved – and as part of a joined up process with marketing, ensure they call the right people (i.e. those people marketers have identified as relevant and ready to buy) at the right time (i.e. soon after they have indicated intent – because at this time they’re probably also talking to your competitors).
  • Marketing still needs to play a part here in terms of further nurturing your leads until sales people get the opportunity to speak to the prospect. It can often be quite difficult for a salesperson to pin down a prospect for a call or meeting, and in that time they can go cold or pay more attention to competitors. So marketing needs to play it’s part here by continuing to engage and persuade this lead with strong content and collateral – where the USPs and benefits of your product come through loud and clear in regular reminders to your lead that they should be picking up the phone when your salesperson calls.

Unfortunately, what often still happens, is that both marketing and sales work on the awareness stage, but only sales focuses on the engagement and conversion stages. This means that sales people have less time to spend on selling, and they are trying to sell to people who are not yet ready to buy. This has a negative impact on sales cycle length, average order value, conversion rates, the number of sales made and amount of revenue one sales person can generate.

What should happen is that marketers take full responsibility for the first two stages of the funnel (awareness and engagement), and be held accountable for the quality, quantity and sales-readiness of leads being delivered to sales. This then means that the sales team can spend more time focusing on conversions i.e. doing the actual selling that they’re so good at.

 

You need to get your funnel working in a way that enables more scalable digital marketing to reach and engage more people in the top two thirds of the funnel, and therefore have your sales team focused on conversions at the bottom of the funnel. Once you have achieved this, you would have unlocked profitable, sustainable growth with economies of scale baked in to your business in way that will generate higher profits and add significant value to your business.

 

To learn more about how to manage your scalable, profitable integrated sales and marketing funnel download MPG’s guide to B2B Sales & Marketing integration.

Do you need your marketing team to deliver more leads for your sales team?

Team MPG can help you attract new clients with targeted, lead generating marketing campaigns. We can also help create marketing and sales performance dashboards so that you can measure your joined up marketing and sales KPIs and ROI.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.

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6 practical marketing considerations when expanding into new markets

Renewd recently hosted a Renewd International Virtual Roundtable discussion, where a group of senior executives from B2B media and events businesses came together to discuss practical considerations when expanding internationally.

To receive Renewd’s next newsletter, which includes the key takeaways from this event, please join Renewd here – membership is free.

The Virtual Roundtable discussion was led by Frances Rose, Founder & CEO, The Share Theory. The attendees discussed what they have learnt from expanding, including cultural differences to take into consideration, and how to hire and effectively manage people in foreign countries.

Based on this discussion, Team MPG’s marketing strategists have been considering six important marketing elements to consider when seeking international growth:

#1Be clear about your specific goals when expanding into new markets

In order to grow and develop your customer base in a new market, you should define what the role of marketing is in this growth plan, and specific marketing communications objectives. These objectives should form part of a comprehensive marketing plan, to ensure your marketing activities show visible and strong ROI against your objectives.

#2Understand your target audience very well – your messaging may need to be adjusted for a new market

Before you write a single word of copy or design any marketing materials, you need to gain a good understanding of your audience in the new market you are targeting. MPG recommends using our community mapping approach. This is a useful tool to understand the composition of your end-user target market, which will be useful when building the right kind of monetisation model to generate revenue in your new market. You need to consider cultural differences, so that from day 1 you’re building brand trust.

Once you have completed your community map, and take into account culture in your new market, you should develop a buyer persona in order to define USPs and benefits for your key market segments. These USPs will help you differentiate your product from the competition – which may look different in your new market compared to where you have previously operated.

You can then move on to building impactful messaging by:

  • Defining the tone of voice you want to deploy
  • Creating a messaging strategy that will inform the core copy you repeatedly use. This should include a strap-line that incorporates your USP, and a series of succinct bullet points focused on your benefits
  • Execute this messaging down the whole marketing funnel. As your prospects become more engaged, ensure your messaging becomes more detailed and persuasive – this creates the ‘desire and action’ which makes them want to enquire or buy your product

#3Build the right brand advocates to help grow your business

To effectively attract and engage the right kinds of customers in your new market, it is helpful to have local team members and advocates who know the cultural differences. You need to find the right people who can help you ‘activate and amplify’.

These early community members are needed to bring others to come on board. If they believe in your brand and your purpose, they will be valuable advocates. Build on the momentum gained from these early adopters by holding open events and running community gatherings to gain more insight and build your followers.

It is also important to accept that starting and building good relationships take time. Therefore, you need to focus on this area well in advance – if you leave it too late, it could mean you have less leverage in terms of value exchange. This could lead to reduced advocacy and campaign effectiveness.

#4Data management and the importance of knowing GDPR and other country-specific data privacy and direct marketing rules and regulations

In order to expand, you will need to build a strong database of contacts by following the relevant data rules. Having a well-organised database will allow you to grow multiple revenue streams, drive higher, more consistent engagement, and make smarter investments.

When expanding into new markets, you need to take into account their various rules and regulations around data privacy, data protection and how data can be used in direct marketing. There are quite big differences between jurisdictions – e.g. the state of California has different rules compared to other US states. What counts here is where the data subject (customer or prospect) is based – not where your company is based.

It is important to do the thorough research and planning for the jurisdictions you want to expand into, because how data can be used will determine the marketing tactics allowed; as well as how your products, systems and processes are set up to be compliant.

#5Investing in the right marketing technologies to enable expansion

To scale effectively and efficiently (and follow data privacy rules), you need the right marketing tech stack.

Having a strong martech stack:

  • Improves customer experience, and allows for a smoother transition between each stage of the customer lifecycle
  • Allows you to track your customers’ progression in the customer journey
  • Helps you make impactful investments, which will mean you can monetise and scale your audiences well, in a more digital world

The right marketing technology is critical for any business expansion, including entering and growing in new markets.

#6Develop marketing dashboards to monitor expansion progress and ROI

To be able to measure the success of your marketing activities when expanding into new markets, you need visibility of your marketing metrics. The best way to get this visibility is to build dashboards that ideally pull data automatically from systems and show you key marketing metrics in real time.

To have fully optimised marketing dashboards, you need to have the right marketing analytics in place to measure the success. A marketing analysis and reporting process is useful to gain insight on how your customers, prospects, and leads interact with your marketing channels. Having your website analytics set up in the right way (with GA4) is critical for understanding how they interact with your site, and can help you create remarketing and retargeting campaigns to build your customer database.

If you’re aiming to enter or grow in new markets, then considering these six marketing elements will help you well on your way!


MPG supports Renewd in building an open network community of specialised subscription, membership, and event professionals. We help organise and participate in roundtables and other community events, such as networking dinners.
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Do you want to grow your business in new markets?

Team MPG’s marketing experts can help you develop the best marketing strategy to grow your customer base and revenue.

Get in touch today to discuss your marketing opportunities, challenges and requirements.

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MPG Newsletter | Spring 2022

Newsletter • Spring 2022

Marketing analytics • Marketing technology • Data • Marketing strategy

In a world where almost every organisation faces extreme uncertainty on a daily basis, it is important to consider how adding more ‘science’ to your marketing can make your organisation more resilient.

What do we mean by ‘marketing science’? Analysis, data, metrics – enabled by the martech and digital tools.

Without these ‘science’ elements, the ‘art’ you put into your marketing won’t hit the mark. With the right level of science applied, your creative and messages will reach the right people, at the right time.

This newsletter focuses on why the science elements of your marketing are essential to survival and important for long term success; and how to invest strategically in marketing strategy, analytics, data, as well as the right martech and digital tools for a strong ROI.

 

You are not currently a subscriber to MPG Insights, but we want to make sure you received this newsletter anyway as it addresses some of the most urgent marketing issues many organisations are grappling with at this time. To become a subscriber (it’s free) – please sign up here.

#1 Marketing analytics and intelligence for evidence-based decision-making

To invest blindly in marketing without a strong understanding of what channels and tactics are delivering the best return can be detrimental to your business. 

The best marketers, those who understand that marketing is both an art and a science, know that they need to have analytics tools and reporting dashboards set up and integrated into their marketing process for evidence-based decision-making.

This marketing intelligence provides the kinds of insights that should feed in to your marketing planning.

 

“It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes

 

MPG believes the best way for marketers to get the required level of science into their marketing is by building and regularly reviewing dashboards – combining the most important marketing metrics for digital marketers with website analytics that should be at the heart of marketing decision-making.

In a recent MPG Insights resource, we shared our tried and tested website analytics process that helps our clients become sustainable, growing businesses.

DOWNLOAD YOUR PRACTICAL GUIDE TO WEBSITE ANALYTICS


#2 Optimised martech for valuable insights

Many organisations have martech challenges – having either the wrong tech or tools in place, the right tools but poorly implemented or poorly adopted, or missing data flows and integrations. As marketing scientists, finding the right compound, or mix of systems and processes, when it comes to your marketing technology stack is vital for creating long-term, sustainable growth.

Good marketers understand that having an optimised martech stack, will provide you with analytics and behavioural data that should give you valuable customer insight as you see how customers are engaging with your products. If your marketing tech stack is not well set up and fully integrated, then your sales and marketing efforts will be negatively impacted.

Martech is constantly evolving, so systems and the tech stacks within which they operate need to be reviewed regularly. Your martech stack will also need ongoing maintenance to ensure all integrations are functioning as they should.

 


#3 Data

These uncertain times have also brought with them exciting opportunities for innovation, and many business leaders have embraced the changes brought about in their businesses. They understand that they need to invest in their marketing databases to build more resilience into their business, launch new revenue streams, or drive higher engagement with their existing customers.

 

“Data!data!data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”
Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes

 

Marketing leaders know that to acquire the right quality and volumes of data to achieve commercial objectives, you need a fine-tuned approach to building, maintaining, and enhancing your database.

The gold standard is a growing database that is filled with the right contacts, integrated with your website and other systems where data is collected, and where data flows automatically so that you can target the right people, at the right time, with the right message.

Using MPG’s extensive experience in optimising and strategically growing B2B databases, we’ve created a robust process for structuring, growing, and maintaining a database that delivers consistent revenue and drives growth. Here is your practical guide for database development and optimisation:

YOUR STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS FOR DATABASE OPTIMISATION


#4 A strategic, hybrid approach to marketing

As uncertainty continues, business and marketing leaders should be asking themselves the following question: “How can we build a high performance marketing function that is also agile, flexible and cost-effective?”

MPG believes that in most cases, the most effective way to build this kind of marketing function is by using a strategic, hybrid approach.

Finding the right balance, with an integrated internal marketing function that works in collaboration with 3rd party support, is key. MPG recommends that the first step towards this agility in your marketing function is to assess what skills you already have in your inhouse marketing team, and then identify where the gaps are that can be filled by a trusted and external partner.

DISCOVER THE OPTIMAL MIX FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE MARKETING

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Database optimisation for a resilient marketing function: a practical guide

Creating robust processes can sometimes feel like you are ‘over engineering’ your marketing. But, creating a step-by-step approach to building, maintaining, and enhancing your database, and then following through consistently with rigour and attention to detail, is what will get you where you need to be.

At MPG we approach database optimisation using a 5-step framework based on the widely used Database Lifecycle Management framework. Here we share MPG’s database development and optimisation processes, with a downloadable resource to use when growing your B2B marketing database.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF MPG’S DATABASE OPTIMISATION PROCESSES HERE

#1 Data Cleaning

Over time, data can become unusable and may need to be suppressed, refreshed, or removed from your database.

If your database needs a lot of work now, clean and enhance existing contacts via a batch process.  Then set up ongoing processes to regularly review and ensure good database hygiene at all times.

Research ‘email bounces’ for people who have left the business: for every contact that has left a company, you can obtain two new records – the replacement person and an updated record with new contact information for the original record. 

#2 Data Collection

When growing your database, it is important that the right types of data, both basic contact data (such as name, job title, company name, sector, company size) and enrichment data (advanced demographic data that allows for smart segmentation) are collected.

Data collection should be approached via three methods – ideally always running in parallel: 

  • Inbound lead generation via website lead generation forms should produce a steady trickle of relevant contacts that are highly engaged. Web forms are an excellent way to constantly grow contacts, as well as intelligence on your contacts’ interests and demographics. You need to have all other marketing channels performing well to push relevant new people to your website for this to work, especially social media, PPC, and advocacy – as these are the best ways to reach more of the right people currently not in your database.
  • New data acquisition through data research, either using your in-house database research team or a third-party specialist research agency, can generate higher volumes of new contacts more proactively. Although these people should be relevant, they will not be engaged. Adding new relevant contacts to your database through an iterative/batch process approach means you can start directly targeting the right people with engaging email campaigns. Drip feeding new batches of data into your database will ensure good email deliverability – avoiding the spam traps that look out for large new data sets being pushed into email campaigns. 
  • Data cleaning should be ongoing – researching contacts already on your database who have previously bounced or are no longer engaging. As mentioned in #1 Data Cleaning, this method allows you to collect both data for where the contact has moved to, as well as their replacement. 

The performance of newly acquired contacts should continually be assessed. Monitoring the conversion rates of researched data as well as new contacts acquired via inbound marketing, will mean you can adjust your marketing database growth approach in a responsive and intelligence-led manner. 

Database KPIs to consider include: 

  • Number of contacts and % database growth, ideally broken down in to prioritised data sets
  • Conversion rates – of web visitors to both leads and purchasers
  • Total revenue generated from newly acquired contacts
  • ROI in terms of revenue over cost = % age pay back

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF MPG’S DATABASE OPTIMISATION KPIS HERE

#3 Data Usage

Understanding how database contacts will be used by marketing is an important consideration when deciding what data to collect. 

Once a new person has been added to your database, you should send them an intro email to introduce your brand and provide an overview of your relevant products. As a first effort, a content-led email is a fantastic way to warm up new contacts as it is a much softer – and more welcome – approach than immediately sending them a pushier product or offer-led message. The focus should be on lead generation and the email should be positioned as an ‘invitation’. Depending on jurisdiction you may need to include some data protection information, e.g., how you are going to use their data going forward.

New contacts should then be fed into your marketing campaigns so will receive all future emails.

Deliverability of the above ‘intro emails’ should be monitored closely. If below 85%, there is something wrong with the data and the source of that batch should be re-examined. 

Another way to raise brand awareness with your new contacts is to upload them to a PPC channel for retargeting before they receive an intro email. This will warm them up and familiarise the contacts with the brand or product before they receive a direct communication.

#4 Data Storage

When it comes to marketing data, where and how it is stored and organised is incredibly important.

One key rule of thumb when considering your marketing database and tech stack supporting it, is that customer and prospect data should all be stored in one place – or at least in an integrated stack that allows you to manage data properly.

From a marketing perspective:

  • If data has multiple uses (e.g., email, direct mail, telesales), use a dedicated CRM system connected to the marketing automation platform. Salespeople should work with the data stored in the same CRM.
  • If data is only to be used for marketing email campaigns, a marketing automation platform can be sufficient to use on its own. 

The systems used, and how they are configured, will affect how the rest of the data lifecycle is managed. Your systems should include data redundancy strategies (such as backups) and data security strategies (such as storing data) in a way that it cannot be accidentally altered.

#5 Data Maintenance

Properly maintaining data is essential to ensuring that it remains accessible between different teams, and that it is always ready to be used for its intended purposes.

Data can be maintained through both automated and manual processes. Automated processes could include: 

  • automating population of company specific information, such as company type, for contacts where these values are already known, for existing contacts at the same company. 
  • automating the population of relevant segmentation properties based on engagement with your website content and email communications.

Automations should be used wherever possible, but some manual processes such as ensuring the whole business – especially salespeople – are always updating contacts (basic data like email addresses, and enriched data like job titles) as they communicate with customers are just as important. 

If you have robust processes in place to make sure each of these 5 steps is being covered consistently well, then your marketing function, and your organisation, will be well placed to support a resilient and growing business. 


Do you need help optimising, or growing your existing database? 

MPG’s database and martech experts know what it takes to develop and grow a database for high performance marketing that converts. We also know how to optimise existing databases on an ongoing basis in a practical, systematic way that keeps your database in ship shape for highly targeted campaigns.

Get in touch today to find out how MPG can help you attract and convert enough of the right customers to help your organisation be more resilient – and grow.


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Building a resilient marketing function: do it with data

In our most recent MPG Insights article, we covered why having a high-performance marketing website is so essential to success when it comes to building resilience into your marketing function.

Driving traffic to your website, and engaging your potential customers to ‘pay you with their data’ and make purchases online is just the first step. If you want to be a resilient and growing business, a well structured database that is diligently maintained, and continually growing with relevant contacts is vital to success. 

Your database should be part of a finely tuned ecosystem, integrating with your website and other systems where data is collected, to allow data to flow automatically, and be stored in a way that makes it easy to use in impactful marketing. 

One of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to data, is having lots of the wrong data. The quality of the contact data you collect and store is as important, if not more important, than the volume. 

A database consisting of exactly the right contacts, organised well, allows you to target the right people, at the right time, with the right message. The following basic demographic data and enrichment data needs to be held with each contact record for this to work: 

  • Basic demographic data – this includes data points that you would find on a company website or on LinkedIn such as name, job title, company name, sector, company size (revenue and/or headcount) and company location (country, and also state if in US at a minimum to be compliant with data privacy/protection laws, if nothing else).
  • Enrichment data – this is the data that is going to allow for smart segmentation and includes advanced demographics such as job function (this is different to job title, and is especially important where job titles don’t provide you with a true understanding of the ‘jobs to be done’ by that person), as well as behavioural data points that indicate interest (e.g. attending a webinar, downloading a particular piece of content, visiting a certain web page etc)

So, how does having a strong database help you have a more resilient business? A strong, well organised, database allows you to: 

#1 Grow multiple revenue streams

By being able to identify and target specific market segments, you can quickly create and successfully take to market new products such as webinars, round-tables, memberships, reports and digital products.

#2 Drive higher, more consistent engagement

With a well-segmented database, you can ensure that your marketing communications are highly relevant to the people receiving them, and therefore have maximum impact. High relevance = stronger and more consistent engagement over time. 

#3 Make smarter investments when growing your database

A well-structured database, with robust processes in place, helps provide a clear picture of which potential customers you already have for the target segments you can reach. This means you can quickly and efficiently identify where the gaps are – so that you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

If your database doesn’t have enough relevant contacts, and if it isn’t continually being monitored, updated and refreshed, your data will quickly become fatigued, and your marketing won’t have the impact that a growing business needs.

 


 

Next week we’ll share a practical guide to structuring, growing, and maintaining a database that delivers consistent revenue and drive growth for your business. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published. 

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to MPG about how to optimise or strategically grow your database, please get in touch. Team MPG includes database and martech specialists who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing, and can help you acquire the right quality and volumes of data to achieve your commercial objectives. Read more about MPG’s database development and optimisation services.

 


 

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 (acquired by Adweek)

 


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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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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 Database 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 include the 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 early bird’ 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

Topics:

What’s HOT right now and is likely to get even hotter before the end of 2021?

As you lead your business and your marketing function into a post-pandemic world, it will be more important than ever to make smart investments, and ensure they pay off.

High performance marketing will need to play a key role as companies aim for a return to strong and sustainable growth. Marketing strategies and marketing ROI will come under the spotlight in a big way.

In the coming months you will need to make some important decisions – with lasting impact – about your marketing investments. Based on MPG’s perspective across a range of organisations, we have highlighted in this newsletter the areas we recommend you pay particular attention to as you move your organisation forward.

What’s HOT right now and is likely to get even hotter before the end of 2021?

#1: Messaging strategy development

With increased competition in an already crowded digital space, a top priority for marketers should be developing messaging strategies based on a deep understanding of your customers’ pain points and motivations.

Effectively communicating your products’ unique value is essential – but not always easy. MPG’s guide on how to create high impact messaging starts with mapping your market and identifying key market segments to focus on before articulating USPs (unique selling points) and benefits that are highly relevant and compelling for your most important customers.

Here are all 5 steps MPG recommends you take to build an impactful messaging strategy:

Step 1: Map your market and identify key market segments

Step 2: Identify and articulate key ‘needs to be met’ and ‘jobs to be done’

Step 3: Define USPs and benefits for key market segments

Step 4: Write your core copy

Step 5: Execute – down the whole funnel

Well planned and executed marketing messaging is not optional – it’s critical for success.

Do you need better messaging to unlock revenue growth in your business? Get in touch with MPG to discuss how best to approach this.


#2: Well implemented and well-integrated marketing technology

With marketing impact coming under scrutiny, and with a high standard of digital marketing essential in every organisation, a well optimised marketing technology stack is essential to create a good customer journey and to reduce time consuming (and wasteful) manual marketing processes.

And your marketing function will not be the only area of your business that benefits from a well implemented martech stack. Your sales function will benefit greatly from robust and well-integrated marketing systems. Automated lead nurturing and lead scoring could be game-changing for the performance of your sales team. A strategic investment in making your martech work harder for you will be essential to scale more profitably.

Do you have the martech in place, but it’s just not working for you? Or do you need new tech and don’t know what to buy? Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get, and keep, your martech stack in good order.


#3: Optimised websites backed up by deep analytics

“Your website is – by far – your most important marketing channel.” This is an MPG mantra.  All too often we see marketers being distracted by other channels and investing in marketing tactics, but ignoring the optimisation of their websites. This could be a fatal error.

The first step in getting your website working hard enough for you is ensuring it is well optimised for search engines. If your potential customers can’t find your website easily, how will they buy from you?

However, good SEO is only half of the battle. Once a potential customer has landed on your site, you need to keep them there, engage them and convert them to a lead or online sale.

To ensure you have a website that performs well for search engines and conversions, MPG recommends the following:

  1. Don’t make your web users think too hard. Make it really easy to find what they’re looking for and take action on your site.
  2. Don’t try to make everything stand out – or nothing will!
  3. Build in lead generation intelligently
  4. Make sure your website is search engine optimised

MPG’s full article on this subject can be found here.

It is also essential to make sure you have set up your web analytics in a way that provides insight on your customer behaviour on your website, and on how they got to your site in the first place. In this MPG Insights article you can find a list of the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B.

Can your potential customers easily find your site? And when they get there – are you successfully converting them to leads and sales? Have you set up your web analytics to monitor customer behaviour and do you use data to drive decision-making in your business? MPG’s website and analytics experts can help you optimise your website and other channels for best performance. Find out more.


#4: A well maintained, and growing, marketing database

Databases may be a bit less exciting than marketing technology and automation, but this ‘unsexy’ part of marketing could be your key to growth and riches…

Not having enough data, or too much of the wrong data, can be detrimental to success. You could have the most creative communications with the strongest messaging in the world, but if you aren’t getting it in front of the right people, you won’t achieve anything. In this article, MPG’s data experts cover more on this, plus other common mistakes we see when it comes to databases.

Smart business and marketing leaders know that ongoing growth and maintenance of your database is essential to ensure your marketing drives good reach, engagement and conversions from your target audience. They also understand that investing in martech and automation without investing in a strong database is pointless.

If you’re ready to invest in cleaning up, expanding and structuring your database to deliver a strong ROI, get in touch with MPG today.


#5: Biddable media – taking your inbound marketing to the next level

Sometimes called digital advertising or PPC (pay-per-click), biddable media, when well planned and managed, should deliver a strong marketing ROI.

Biddable media is constantly evolving with new trends frequently emerging. But, marketers can easily get distracted by ‘the new and shiny’. Based on MPG’s extensive work in biddable media, we see the following types working best for B2B media/events (broadly speaking): Google paid search and display, LinkedIn sponsored posts and Facebook sponsored posts.

But, it is important to be mindful that investing in this area comes with a big ‘beware’ sign! When executed poorly, biddable media can be very expensive, with no demonstrable return on your investment. Whether your biddable media is being managed in-house, or by an agency, the very first thing you should do is ensure you have a well-constructed biddable media strategy that dovetails with your overall marketing strategy.

And before you spend any of your biddable media marketing budget, you also need to ensure that you have all the necessary tracking and performance measurement in place to track your ROI.

If biddable media is an integral part of your marketing mix, but you don’t have the resources to create a robust strategy and execute it well, MPG can help – get in touch today.

Topics:

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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5 Strategic investments being made in B2B marketing in 2021

Team MPG has unique insight into how leadership teams are choosing to invest in marketing at any point in time.

Right now, we can see first-hand how the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed marketing to the forefront of the ‘bounce back’ strategies for B2B brands, and how transformation of marketing in organisations of all sizes has been accelerated.

This article covers 5 areas of marketing where we’re seeing the greatest focus and investment at this time.

 


The state of B2B marketing in May 2021

As parts of the world start emerging from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, senior executives  are seeing that making strategic investments in marketing now is essential – not only to recover lost revenues, but (more importantly), to take advantage of the new opportunities our ‘new world’ presents.

Organisations focused on serving and monetising professional communities have a particular set of opportunities to go after: building strong, engaged communities online and offline; growing high quality, engaged, paying subscriptions & memberships; and delivering a strong portfolio of events year round in digital, in-person and hybrid formats. Marketing budgets that were previously being locked down are now being released, but with this spend being focused in areas previously ignored or under-valued.

The work Team MPG does with a range of organisations globally (B2B media, B2B events & professional associations), and the ongoing conversations we have with the community, gives us a strong viewpoint on where B2B leaders are placing their marketing bets.

Here are five investment areas that have dominated these conversations:

Investment #1: Marketing strategy development

In the pre-pandemic times, many marketing functions mostly (or only) delivered tactical marketing. The job of marketing was to just ‘get campaigns out’ – at speed and scale.

But the events of the past 14 months have forced senior executives to carefully evaluate the role of marketing in their organisations. At the start of the pandemic, those who believed their marketing had mostly tactical value swiftly cut their marketing budgets when faced with a prolonged period of risk and uncertainty.

As the pandemic fog lifts, it seems there are two types of organisations that are emerging well:

  1. Those that put their marketing function at the heart of their pivot – leveraging the digital expertise marketers have to create and execute their strategies to survive & thrive. These organisations understood that marketing is all about putting the customers’ needs and pain points first, which has been a common trait for organisations coming out of the pandemic in good shape.
  2. Those that realised after a few months of trying to work out what to do next, that a strategic marketing approach is critical for future-proofing their organisations. These organisations have started the process of rebuilding their marketing functions in a deliberate, thoughtful and sustainable way.

I urge you to reflect on your own organisation. Are you one of the above types of organisations? Or do you still see marketing as a cost to be reduced, rather than an investment to be managed and optimised?

If you’re aiming to be more strategic in your marketing approach, here are a few points for you to ponder:

  • The bedrock of every successful marketing strategy is understanding the composition of your market, or your community. This all begins with a robust and up to date market map.
  • Community marketing is coming to the fore. It is important to understand what this means for your organisation. The recent MPG Insights blog on how B2B communities work and our webinar exploring community marketing strategies and MPG’s community marketing model have been some of our most read and watched to date.
  • Once the market or community you are serving has been properly analysed, you need to find a way to cut through the noise in a very competitive space to grab and keep attention (i.e. get good engagement!). This requires a strong messaging strategy.
  • Having the right combination of strong marketing skills in your team is essential. Marketing is complex and the skills you need are varied – from very analytical and technical, to those strong in creative and communications. These are very rarely found in one person. Here are a couple of relevant MPG Insights blog articles:

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you develop a future-proof marketing strategy.

Investment #2: Marketing technology stack optimisation 

The reality is that many organisations have martech challenges – usually including one or more of the following: the wrong tech tools; martech not implemented well in terms of system set up or new process adoption, and now needing remedial action; missing or misfiring integrations and data flows; or key pieces of tech missing altogether. Any one of these issues will mean what should be automated is painfully and expensively manual and slow.

A key opportunity cost of not having a fit-for-purpose martech stack is a poor customer experience – which is something no organisation can afford in what is becoming a very competitive digital world with lower barriers to entry and fewer ways to differentiate.

So, smart business leaders have spent much of the lockdown getting their martech stack in order. Rather than slashing marketing spend altogether, they spotted a gap to make strategic, impactful investments in getting their martech stack working well to monetise and scale their audiences and offerings in a more digital world.

And they have also recognised this is not a ‘one off’ exercise. Martech stacks need ongoing maintenance and regular tweaks and upgrades as new tech emerges and their businesses grow.

Good things will come to those who have fully embraced martech and invested well, and continue to invest well, in this area. Well done if that’s you.

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get, and keep, your martech stack in good order

 

Investment #3: Stronger marketing databases

Marketing databases are often neglected for three reasons:

  1. They’re not well understood
  2. They’re hard to manage well
  3. They’re not as exciting and visible as the creative parts of marketing

But, having a strong marketing database that is always growing, and is well maintained, is essential to B2B marketing success. The best creative comms in the world won’t work if you’re not getting them in front of the right people – and this is where your database comes in.

We’ve seen a definite trend in senior leaders suddenly paying attention to their marketing databases. They have recognised that being more digital requires good database management. 

Marketing automation, which is critical for effective monetisation and scale, just isn’t possible if your marketing database is not well set up and well managed on an ongoing basis. This was particularly important for virtual and hybrid events, where a much larger pool of potential customers and marketing automation is needed to achieve good attendance rates.

It is therefore no surprise that many of my recent conversations with CEOs have been about how best to invest in their databases, and MPG’s database and marketing automation experts have been in high demand.

What is also clear is that organisations of all sizes have similar needs and require a similar approach when it comes to setting up, growing and maintaining their databases. Over the past 12 months, MPG has worked with very large and very small organisations (and all sizes in-between) to successfully implement the tried & tested database development methodology we’ve used since we launched MPG in 2014. Even back then it was GDPR-proof!

We’re hoping to release an ‘explainer video’ soon about MPG’s database development methodology. So, make sure you subscribe for MPG Insights emails to be notified when this resource is available!

Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat with MPG about your database.  We love all things data!!

 

Investment #4: High performance websites optimised for search engines and conversions

Large parts of our lives have been lived online over the past 14 months. And a legacy of the pandemic is that most of us are likely to stay more ‘digitised’ in behaviours and preferences.

Having a marketing website that is substandard in any way is therefore no longer an option. Your customers will judge you on how your marketing website looks and works – fact!

Your brand, messaging, content, lead generation mechanisms and, in many cases, sales – are now hosted mostly on your website. And all your other marketing channels drive traffic to your site. So, if your website is not optimised for search engines and conversions – on an ongoing basis – then you have a big problem.

What has been interesting about conversations I have had with CEOs about their websites in recent months, is that they now understand how important it is to plan, build and optimise a website with a strategic marketing mindset. Before the pandemic, websites were often largely left to the tech team, with tech people making key decisions about how a website should look and work.

Let’s hope the change to treating websites as the most important digital marketing channel is one that sticks!

MPG can help you optimise your existing website, or build a new one that works really well, to drive high performance marketing. Get in touch to find out how.

 

Investment #5: Pay-per-click (PPC) via Google and social channels

PPC is a category of marketing tactics where MPG has seen definite increased investment. To fund this investment increase, it seems marketing spend is shifting from direct mail, and in some cases ‘cold calling’ sales – to Google Ads and paid advertising on social media.

However, this seems to be poorly served by dedicated PPC agencies at present as marketers are switching regularly from one agency to another, and in many cases pulling PPC in-house.

I believe the reason PPC is not working as it should – even with more investment – is that too much attention and money is going into clicks spend, rather than strategy and planning.

Once again, as per Investment #1 in this newsletter, you need a strong marketing strategy to make your PPC work well. PPC needs to be well integrated with all other channels and it needs to be carefully measured, and performance analysed in the context of the full marketing mix. This is where most PPC agencies go wrong:  they just focus on tactics and clicks spend, rather than delivering PPC services that are an integrated part of a robust marketing strategy.

My advice: don’t spend a penny or a cent on clicks if you have not yet invested in an overall marketing strategy, followed by an aligned, robust PPC strategy. Otherwise you’re just making Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn even richer – without anything to show for it. Short term, this will be an irritating waste of money. Long term, this is a massive missed opportunity.

Don’t get fixated on ‘in-house versus agency’, and don’t get bamboozled by very slick PPC agency sales people. Focus on making sure your marketers:

  • Understand where PPC strategically fits in your marketing mix
  • Set clear PPC objectives
  • Have the tracking and analysis tools in place to measure PPC ROI

…and only then look for good digital marketers to set up and manage your campaigns – whether in-house or outsourced.

If your organisation runs virtual events, we recently published a step by step guide to PPC for B2B virtual events, so make sure to have a read of that!

Get in touch to find out how MPG’s digital marketers can give your PPC a boost!


And that’s a wrap – five important areas for investment that just 14 months ago were not getting anywhere near enough attention from most B2B organisations.

And as a final note: thank you so much for being part of MPG’s community!

If you would like to be even more involved by speaking at our webinars or being a guest blogger, we’d love to hear from you on info@mpg.biz

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