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

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

Topics:

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

 

Topics:

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

Topics:

How to get more intelligence into your marketing for a stronger ROI

“I see investing in more and better marketing as the best way to gain a competitive advantage and proactively drive my business forward. But I need the marketing to be more accountable. We need marketing ROI to be better measured and more visible.” The words of a senior business leader in conversation with MPG’s CEO.

What’s missing in this business are the tools and processes needed for good, consistently delivered marketing measurement and reporting.

At MPG, from day 1, we have always put marketing intelligence at the heart of our business. We’ve just released the 4.0 version of MPG’s Analytics & Intelligence Dashboard – now covering virtual events, sponsor lead generation and subscriptions acquisitions.

If you don’t currently have marketing measurement and reporting in your business – here’s a guide on what it is, why it is important and how it’s done.


What is marketing reporting?

Marketing reporting is the process of recording and presenting marketing performance data in a dashboard.

This should cover the revenue or bookings being generated by marketing and sales, as well as the detail on channels and tactics, such as social media, email, PPC and website.

To ensure the focus is on the most strategically important metrics, we work closely with our clients to understand what’s important to them and tailor our reporting tool to give them the most valuable intelligence.

To make sure they have the right marketing reporting tools and processes in place, it’s important for senior decision makers to know what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to reporting formats and metrics to focus on. Armed with this knowledge, they know what to expect from marketing teams and how to ask the right questions about marketing ROI measurement.


The value unlocked by marketing analytics and intelligence reports

1. See how marketing is performing in achieving commercial goals

The simplest, but arguably most important, benefit is providing high-level insight of marketing’s performance overall. Tracking how many sales/bookings are being made and/or how much revenue is being generated compared to forecasts and the previous periods provides a high-level understanding of how marketing is driving results.

2. Understand how your audience is engaging with content and products

Marketing data can provide invaluable insight on how your customers are reacting to your products and content, revealing what is of most interest to them, what their concerns are and what else they may buy/engage with.

3. Understand the profile of your audience

Who is reading, registering, and buying? Where are they from? What company do they work for? What is their job function? These are all important questions that regular reporting can answer. Understanding the composition and behavior of your audience enables not only more effective marketing, but also more effective data-led decisions across business as a whole.

MPG Insights

4. Enable better marketing performance

Reporting provides regular, valuable insights on the marketing channels and tactics that are performing best.

This gives marketers ownership, showing tangible results for their efforts and providing context on how they are performing against targets. They will also feel more confident in making decisions, as they can base their thinking on data instead of a ‘feeling’.

Reporting also holds marketers to account, challenging them to explain how they are making decisions and how they plan to address challenges and make the most of any opportunities.

5. Highlight any potential issues, even outside of marketing

Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint issues or inefficiencies – things that are holding a business back from engaging with their audience and achieving more revenue.

Reporting should show all elements of the sales pipeline so you can find these issues. For example: low engagement across all marcomms could indicate the product not being right for the market, or you could find leads are dropping off when passed to the sales team because a key step in the lead management process is not working as it should. Identifying the problem is the first step towards fixing it.

MPG Insights


So, what does good marketing measurement and reporting look like?

Added insights and intelligence

A marketing report is of no use if it only consists of ‘a whole lotta numbers’. The stats on their own are not valuable. What makes a marketing report valuable is the insights you can pull from the numbers and the important actions you can take based on these insights.

So, before sharing a report with the business, a marketer should spend time analysing and interpreting the data, putting numbers into context and drawing out insights and recommended next steps. This is the ‘intelligence’ element that unlocks all the value and should therefore be on ‘page 1’ of every report.

Updated at least once a week (or even better, in real time)

Feeding intelligence into your marketing should be ongoing, so reports should be produced weekly, at a minimum. This consistency and frequency will allow you to react to opportunities and challenges as they arise and keep marketing ROI front of mind.

Simple integrations between your marketing dashboard and martech stack can enable real-time reporting and reduce manual updates.

It is also essential to have a weekly meeting – a firm commitment in the diary for all key stakeholders – to review key findings and agree on next steps. This keeps everyone aligned and committed to marketing ROI.

MPG Insights

Mapping against predictions, targets and benchmarks

It is essential to know what ‘good’ looks like when analysing and interpreting marketing reports. Without this important context, you can only guess at what the various data points really mean for your performance.

The following three data sets will help you add the all-important context:

Predictions/targets: tracking performance against targets is essential in understanding how likely you are to achieve your end goals.

Historical data: comparing against your past performance is also important – even if a lot has changed.

Benchmarks: comparing results to your relevant internal or external averages allows accurate performance ratings.

It is best to use as many of these points of comparison as possible as they can be tied together to reveal the full picture. For example, you may find your revenue generation is tracking below your target which prompts analysis of the individual channels via historical data/benchmarks. This could then reveal a specific channel, for example email, is under-performing. Deeper analysis may reveal that recipients are opening emails at a high rate, but not clicking anything. You now have a specific, actionable insight: we need to improve our email messaging and layout to encourage more clicks.

MPG Insights

Marketing intelligence reports are essential for understanding the performance of marketing and the ROI it is delivering. CEOs benefit from greater visibility, allowing them to make informed decisions on marketing investment, as well as to hold marketing accountable for ROI.

Marketers gain access to the stats that matter most and can respond practically and with a sense of confidence and ownership.

Marketing reporting and analysis has been at the heart of MPG’s philosophy and our core methodology since our inception. We are proud that our clients are able to hold us accountable for results and push us to continuously improve and innovate. Our data-led, scientific approach to marketing has revolutionised the marketing of many businesses. We look forward to continuing to help our clients make intelligent marketing investments in the months and years ahead.


MPG’s Analytics & Intelligence Reports are custom-built to meet your requirements. To learn more about how we can help you develop an intelligence-led approach to marketing to drive more growth and value for your business, get in touch.

Topics:

Focusing on lead generation? You need a community map!

Virtual, hybrid and live event organisers are currently facing an unprecedented challenge in sustaining their event revenue, both in the short and long term. Monetisation via spex sales and ticket revenue are under threat, and many organisations are quickly transitioning to digital event formats without a robust plan to protect this income.

The game has changed, so to speak, but there’s one tool that remains as relevant and valuable in the digital space as it was in the physical environment. A tool that we recommend all events undergoing any sort of transition to the digital space employ.

What is a community map?

Simply put, a community map (sometimes called a market map) is a tool for understanding the composition of your end-user target market, which is essential if you’re going to work out how to best serve this audience and thereby build the right kind of monetization model.

Creating one will help you engage effectively with your community to maintain and grow brand trust, as well as retain and grow your sponsorship and exhibitions revenue in the coming months.


How do we create a community map?

There are 3 steps to creating a comprehensive and accurate community map:


Step 1 – Make sure you understand who your community is

Make sure you can broadly define your end-user community in one or two sentences, and that you can easily identify who the ‘core’ group is that matters. Then ensure your whole brand team is 100% aligned on this.



Step 2 – Divide your community into segments and identify the most important ones

Once you’re confident in the community you serve and its core group, it’s time to break the community down in to further segments and identify the most important ones. To do this:

  1. Consider the different groups your sponsors want to most engage with
  2. Define parameters of each group in terms of sector, company type, job function and seniority.

Group your segments into tiers to make the hierarchy clear and improve internal efficiency in understanding, using and growing your database and other routes to market. Then as you work through your marketing comms plan, your plan becomes as simple as “we need to grow our Tier 1A database and reach them with a 4-stage email campaign” and “our next LinkedIn advertising campaign needs to target Tier 1B”.

There are several other benefits to segmenting and targeting your community in this way:

  1. Close new sponsorship deals. Being able to share exact figures on your community’s composition is a powerful leveraging tool to use on potential sponsors who are looking to engage a very specific audience.
  2. Retain more partners. In a similar vein, existing sponsors will become addicted to you if you’re feeding them valuable audience insights, as well as consistently growing the segments that matter most to them.
  3. Improve your marketing. Segmentation enables deeper, more personalised targeting of comms. Serving each group of your community with the content that is most relevant to them is an important step in engaging any community.
  4. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it enables the most important step of all…


Step 3 – Size your key community segments and analyse your current database to identify gaps

Knowing the composition of your database is one thing, but avoid viewing it in a vacuum. Having your most valuable segment make up 80% of your database looks good on paper, but you could only have > 10% of the total contacts available in your core market.

This may look good in isolation…

…but when you look at the wider market, the gaps become clear.

If your most important segment is HR directors at the world’s 50 largest banks, and your database only has 20 of them – that means you’re reaching less than half of your most important community members.

To fill these gaps you should conduct database research where data privacy rules allow. If your research is small scale, try conducting this internally; your teams may be able to identify relevant contacts via social media and company websites. If you have a large pool of contacts to identify, consider employing an external agency to do the heavy lifting at pace and cost effectively.

If this is not allowed due to privacy regulations in your target region, or there are still contacts left to identify, you can move to outreach such as PPC and organic social media to try and draw your contacts to your website via inbound tactics. LinkedIn ads will allow you to target based on useful parameters like job title, industry and even individual companies – you just have to make sure your ads and website are effectively encouraging them to share their data (and grant consent for comms) via a lead generation form.


Wrapping up

Community mapping is a vital tool for any business to survive and thrive. In a recent blog post, we outlined why understanding your community, and their needs, should your #1 priority – read the full article here.

At MPG, we’ve been creating community maps for the world’s leading B2B media and events brands for years. To find out more about how we do this for specific markets, please do get in touch.

Topics:

Why data makes the difference in B2B events success

Why data makes the difference

A good database is the foundation of successful B2B events and subscriptions marketing. Simply put, 20% better data will mean 20% more delegates. As long as it’s the right data!

With email and telemarketing still the core of most event marketing campaigns, being able to reach your target audience by email – the main channel relying on of a strong database – is crucial to success.

A prime example of this comes from a publisher we have been working with over the past three years on eight of their events in Europe, the US and Asia. We have added 70,000 records to their database – focused on their target audience. This resulted in an additional £1m+ delegate revenue and an ROI of over 500%. Many event organisers don’t invest enough in the development and management of their database. Here are the most common mistakes we see in events businesses, and how you can avoid them!

1. Not enough data or the wrong data

As a benchmark, for every attendee you want to attract to an free to attend event, you need you need to reach 50 of the right people. For paid for events, it’s 100 for every one delegate. So, for an event targeting 100 paying delegates, you need to reach 10,000 of the right people – repeatedly. The best way to ensure you achieve this reach, is to have these people on your database!

The composition of the database also needs to match your preferred target audience – if you want 20% CFOs in the room, then 20% of your database need to be CFOs – in the right type of organisation and the right geography.

Check how closely your database matches your target audience and then be prepared to fill in the gaps (see below for how).

2. Data not in one place

All your data must be in one system. This doesn’t have to be an expensive system like Salesforce. If you do not do direct mail or telesales this could be an email system like Mailchimp, or if you do a multichannel campaign it could be something like the free CRM from Hubspot. Any CRM that you use should be integrated with your marketing automation/email marketing system to ensure your communications are all joined up across all your channels. It’s no good having data in various excel sheets or disconnected systems. If this is the case, you can’t develop a strong database, track permissions (for compliance) or run targeted marketing campaigns.

3. Neglecting organic data build

Those who engage with content on your website are likely to be the most engaged prospects. But many organisers don’t build the required elements in to their event websites to capture the details of these. It is important to have a well optimised event website with plenty of interesting content, all year round. This website should include a number of forms for potential customers to enquire about the event, register their interest or download a PDF of relevant information. The data captured from these form completions should feed in to your database in real time.
A year-round programme to optimise your website for form completions should generate organic data adding 5-10% of your total database , with these contacts being the most responsive and likely to convert to delegates.

4. Buying data in bulk

‘Buying lists’ from list brokers the old fashioned way is a definite no-no these days! This data is likely to perform very poorly as it is over-sold and over-used by a large number of buyers. Data may not be clean or up to date, the permissions may be patchy (if at all considered), and you will not get the response rates you want. If you need a large amount of data in a hurry, it’s better to purchase a subscription to a modern database or lead generation provider like Cognism. But always do targeted research for your core, most important target audience.

5. Not researching data properly

If you have gaps in segments of your data, you may need to use third parties to research this for you. This can be highly productive, but it is essential to brief the agency thoroughly, ask for a data sample, and then monitor the research process extremely closely. Take a long-term view – you can often get your data investment back in the first year, but the real value is in the second and third year, when you should get up to 400% ROI.

6. Lack of categorisation

If your database is not properly aligned with your audience segmentation, then you will have to send out messaging that may not be very relevant to a large number of people – resulting in a high number of unsubscribes. On your CRM, you will need to be able to tag records to align with different segments. This will allow you to send more targeted and relevant campaigns.

7. Not planning data in advance

Data can’t be a last-minute fix. It can take months to identify gaps in data and then research to fill in the gaps, clean data and plan your campaign. If you plan to use media partnerships to reach specific sectors, these are likely to also take months to set up.

8. Lack of skilled people

Managing data is a skilled discipline – it requires experience in managing data research firms, working with database providers and knowing how the data needs to be structured in within your marketing tech stack. Plus you need very strong attention to detail. Good data marketers can think strategically and are highly analytical. Many marketing teams lack these skills.

9. Not tracking engagement

Watch your email analytics to check the quality of the data you have. You should have over 97% deliverability. Open rates should be 15%+, click through rates should be 1.5%+ and click to open rates should be 8%+. If they are lower the data might be poor quality.

Limit emails to any individual to no more than twice a week, even if for different events. If you run multiple events, you need to have a single database and co-ordinate activity across campaigns.

10. Misdirected compliance efforts

Many publishers focused their GDPR efforts on the datasets they are using for email marketing, in particular attempting to collect consent from all of the people they wanted to email. The reality is that GDPR itself did not change the rules about who can be emailed with or without opt-in (there are separate pieces of regulation in each EU member state that define that). In B2B markets, depending on the country, prior opt-in is not always required for email, so attempting to collect it for all contacts before contacting them is likely to be overly cautious and is likely to kill your marketing effectiveness, especially for events that require large datasets in niche markets.

But do keep an eye on current regulations and any possible future changes to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law for countries where consent or opt-in is required and where it is required, do ensure that you are collecting and recording it in the correct way. These considerations should be built in to how your database is configured and managed, and a specialist with the required compliance knowledge is essential in getting this set up correctly.

If you are an events business leader, these are the questions you should be asking your head of marketing:

  • How many relevant records do we have on our database for marketing our event(s)? Do we have enough based on our event targets?
  • How clean and up to date are our database records, especially those most important to us? Can we do targeted messaging based on how the data can be segmented in our database? What segments can we identify?
  • Is our website set up to capture good new names to add to the database, with the right permissions?
  • Do we use a research firm to collect data in most important audience groups?
  • Do we have access to a database provider to find large volumes of data fast?
  • Do we have the required skills and resources in-house to manage our database well?
  • What is our plan to invest in improving our database?

Data quality is far more important than choice of CRM. You can use a basic, free CRM and still get good results if you have a large enough, clean, well segmented database.

We have worked with many event organisers on their marketing databases – and have always found that time invested on cleaning up, expanding and structuring the database well has always delivered a strong ROI!

Topics:

‘Data Strategy’ is the New Oil

So, the world did not end on 25th May and we had a sunny bank holiday weekend to celebrate!

Although a tremendous opportunity for sound businesses, those who won’t admit they got a few more grey hairs and suffered a few sleepless nights from Friday’s GDPR deadline are either overconfident or pretending..

In the B2B events world, we wait in keen anticipation to see what our significantly smaller databases will deliver for us in the coming days. I have great hope – validated by a BBC interview on the weekend where an email marketing expert claimed GDPR will result in email open rates more than doubling from an average of below 20% to around 40%.

(more…)

Topics:

GDPR for B2B: A Practical Approach and a Strategic Push

No business will be left unchanged by GDPR. Publishers and events businesses that rely on large data sets are particularly vulnerable if they lack a solid strategy to deal with the emerging opportunities and threats.

Digital brands very reliant on advertising revenue will be particularly hard hit if Google gets away with its GDPR-instigated plan to force publishers to work with a limited number of ad-tech vendors.

GDPR for B2B - Practical Approach and Strategic GuideFor B2B, legitimate interest has been seen as the ‘get out of jail’ card and provided great relief. However, this still comes with a tranche of GDPR compliance requirements and tasks.

But those companies that are focused only on ticking the boxes in their compliance checklist are making a gross misjudgement. There is a lot to be gained, in terms of sustainable growth and competitive advantage, from aligning your whole business strategy with GDPR.

Three critical insights

As the MPG team has worked through a number of GDPR projects over the past few months, we’ve identified three essential things business leaders need to acknowledge about GDPR and its impact:

  1. The individual elements of GDPR are not difficult to understand or execute. But, even for small businesses, once they are combined as comprehensive GDPR compliance project there is a lot to do, and a range of interdependencies and decisions to be made. Getting your tech, data flows and processes fully lined up to become and remain compliant takes time and money, and if done well, should reap great rewards.
  2. Every organisation has a different starting point and end goal. A good GDPR compliance strategy will take these in to account, while balancing commercial risk with legal risk. So, it’s not a simple ‘box ticking’ exercise to be swiftly delegated down the line. Those who treat it as such are missing a golden opportunity to get their platforms and data in to good shape for future success.
  3. The winners in B2B media will be those who already have a brand-led gated ‘content and community’ model or can relatively quickly put one in place. But this is only possible if your audience prizes your brand’s content and community and trusts you to use their data to consistently serve up timely, unique and valuable information and connections.

Coalface priorities

As 25th May is nearly upon us, most business leaders will want to first ensure the following most urgent compliance tasks have been completed:

  1. Decisions made on which of the six lawful bases for processing personal data will be applied to customers and prospects. Usually, current customers who have signed up for a paid for service can be dealt with on a ‘contract’ basis, whereas others can generally be processed under ‘consent’, or if B2B ‘legitimate interests’ is also an option. If you have chosen legitimate interest, make sure you do a legitimate interest assessment.
  2. Ensure you have a privacy notice on your website that explains, in plain language, what you do with personal data of customers and prospects. See the ICO’s guidance on how to do this. Link the cookies message on your website and a message below all data capture forms on your website to this privacy notice.
  3. Under the ‘right to be informed’ requirement, send an email to all customers/prospects data (not under contract) you wish to continue processing after 25 May:
    1. If you’ve chosen legitimate interest: informing them you intend to process their data and why, letting them know why you have their data in the first place, what you intend to do with it and giving them the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of the relationship
    2. If you’ve chosen consent: asking them to consent (or re-consent) based on information you have included in your new privacy notice.

Getting these three things done by 25 May will not make you GDPR compliant but will certainly help mitigate the risk around non-compliance.

GDPR’s strategic opportunity

GDPR for B2B - Practical Approach and Strategic GuideThe most successful organisations are looking beyond GDPR compliance requirements to the strategic opportunity: to build stronger, more engaged audiences that become valuable communities. To achieve this, it is essential to get your strategy right around gated content and networking opportunities for a curated audience. In other words, using a combination of free and paid for content with subscriptions products and events to attract a defined group of business people with common challenges and who get value from intelligence and connections you can provide via a ‘community-led platform’ or membership model.

The holy grail is being able to directly monetise such a membership model via intelligence-led subscription products and ‘must attend’ events, with further revenue possibilities from limited number of premium packages for carefully selected vendors to access the community.

Organisations that have, or plan to religiously pursue this holy grail will understand the value of the new regulations. GDPR rewards companies that build strong customer relationships and trusted brands, and who also put the tech and processes in place to look after these relationships.

In order to take advantage of the rewards GDPR can offer, a commitment to full compliance is essential.

A practical and comprehensive approach

Under the new laws, every organisation that handles customer/prospect data needs to comply fully with GDPR. There are no short cuts and no exceptions.

Even companies not compliant by 25 May should commit to working towards comprehensive GDPR compliance – to operate lawfully and to take advantage of the opportunity to put in place and execute a winning strategy.

So that you can understand the ‘shape and size’ of a GDPR compliance project, here is an outline of four of the main compliance project elements:

  1. A data protection plan: MPG’s template contains 48 tasks in 5 categories: accountability, external visibility, suppliers, relationships with other companies, international data transfers and staff training.
  2. A map of customer/prospect data you collect, process and store
  3. A database of suppliers, as well as a supplier questionnaire completed by and data processing agreement signed by all suppliers that process data on your behalf
  4. Documentation: privacy policy, data protection policy, data retention policy, record of consent (if needed), legitimate interest assessment, IT security policy, data subject access request procedure, data protection impact assessment procedure, data breach response plan.

To get things done you need to take the following steps:

STEP 1: Appoint a senior executive to take ongoing responsibility for data protection.

STEP 2: Set up a formal and dedicated GDPR compliance project, sponsored by senior management and supported from the whole organisation.

STEP 3: Determine the skills and resource levels you will need to plan and implement your GDPR compliance project.

STEP 4: Allocate a dedicated budget for your GDPR compliance project.

STEP 5: Start!

There are no loopholes, quick fixes or short cuts. GDPR will arrive on 25th May and will be here to stay. Those who tackle GDPR head on – strategically and comprehensively – will be rewarded.

Topics:

#4 | The Big (Strategic) Issue: Your Event Marketing Database

In Europe, GDPR and ePrivacy regulations poses significant challenges for B2B event marketing – where large databases of contacts gathered via research and list buying, not consent, are still relied upon by most event organisers to reach high numbers of prospects to attract delegates, exhibitors and sponsors to their events. (more…)

Topics:

Why GDPR is the only acronym marketers need to be obsessed with in 2017

Changes to data protection laws will reshape how marketers can use and retain data, yet UK organisations are not ready and risk significant financial penalties as well as, missing potential business opportunities.

Marketers love a good acronym. SEO, CRM, PPC and ROI flow smoothly off our tongues several times a day. (more…)

Topics:
x

Receive MPG insights from MPG's team and community
STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX

Get email notifications from MPG about new blogs, webinars, training opportunities and other resources in B2B marketing focused on communities, memberships, subscriptions and events.