4 Things marketers should focus on for international growth

As Chair of Renewd International, I recently had the privilege of chairing the first Renewd International virtual roundtable. These roundtables, as with other Renewd International events, are designed as a confidential space for senior executives from specialised media and events businesses to meet and share insights – with a focus on international growth strategies.

You can read the full ‘key takeaways article’ written by Renewd International Committee Member Carolyn Morgan here. Following Chatham House Rule, Carolyn has only directly referenced, with permission, the contribution of one of the speakers – Andrew Hatcher, Mentor in Residence, Cambridge Judge Business School. Andrew shared some very useful and relevant frameworks and models that apply to growing internationally. These got me thinking about how marketers need to support the international growth of a business. Four important things stood out:

#1 Marketers must have a deep understanding of the ‘What, Why, Who and How’ for an international growth strategy to work, with a focus on the ‘Why’ and the ‘Who’.

What? Who? How? Why?

Having marketers who understand your customers very well is business critical. Every person in your marketing team should know exactly WHO your customers are in terms of demographics, so they can identify and target the right people.

And then having ‘deep knowledge’ of what your customers value most about what you have to offer, and, therefore, WHY they buy from you when they do, is essential for every marketer. 

It is impossible for your marketers to get the right message to the right person at the right time (i.e. do effective marketing), if they don’t take full responsibility for always having a strong understanding of the WHO and the WHY – especially as these change as a business grows and enters new markets.

It often surprises me how many business leaders don’t hold their marketers accountable for gaining and deploying this knowledge in the right way – especially if they’re looking to grow internationally, and as the stakes get higher.

#2 Marketers need to understand how customers currently perceive your value proposition, and what value attributes customers see as priorities.

A good marketer can list the value attributes implicit in your value proposition. A great marketer knows that in order to do great marketing, customers need to be asked how they rate a range of value attributes. 

What is most important to the customer in what you do and how you do it? What is least important? And, as we well know, it’s all about perception..

How do your customers feel about you?

The only way to fully understand the value a customer places on specific attributes of your product, is by doing good customer research. The very best marketers I have ever worked with will push for and champion this kind of research – for very good reason. 

The Renewd International discussion group had some quite firm views on research methods that deliver the most valuable findings – included in the article

Having an optimised martech stack, will also provide you with analytics and behavioural data that should give you some valuable customer insight as you see how customers are engaging with your products (the beauty of digital!). A good marketer gets this and makes it happen.

Using findings from your customer research, along with behaviours visible with a good martech stack and data setup, will enable your marketers to not only target the right people, but also develop a very effective marketing messaging strategy to engage them well. 

When growing internationally, customer insight is especially important as new customers in new markets may well value different things and behave differently to your more traditional customers.

#3 The best marketers know how to leverage your existing value proposition and existing market presence to build ‘growth marketing’ strategies.

There are several ways a product/brand can grow, and leveraging what you already have in place is often the smartest move.

Growth choices

Marketers who can successfully leverage strong engagement and support from existing customers to gain new customers in new markets are winning! 

A key success factor for marketers is being able to capture customer data in a marketing database that makes their marketing work better over time. 

See the recent MPG Insights article on how a well-structured, growing database supports a resilient and growing business.

#4 Marketing leaders, and business leaders, know that good marketing skills are valuable and in short supply. A progressive approach to building a hybrid marketing function can support international growth.

When launching new or existing value propositions into new markets, the question is often raised about whether or not to hire people based in those markets, particularly sales and marketing people. The normalisation of remote working through the global pandemic has changed the game, meaning it doesn’t really matter where your marketers are based. The most important thing is to have the right marketing skills and resources applied to your growth opportunity.

And building a high-performance marketing function doesn’t mean that you need to increase your head count or overheads. We’ve seen a hybrid approach to strategically building a high performance marketing function working well for many organisations, all over the world. 

A hybrid approach, executed in the right way and with the right partners, means that you can focus on maintaining a ‘minimum viable’ internal resource while having the option to ramp marketing activity up and down, and adjust expertise plugged in to your marketing, as needed – with carefully selected, well embedded and well supported external partners . This approach allows for a much greater focus on the ‘science’ elements of marketing, such as marketing strategy development, data, and analytics – which are absolutely critical when enabling any kind of growth, and even more important when ‘future proofing’ international growth initiatives. 

At MPG we believe the marketing function should be held accountable for directly supporting a business strategy, and that a strong investment in marketing is essential for growth. If your strategy is focused on international growth, and you have the best marketing skills integrated into your planning and execution, you’re more likely to get a great return on your international growth investment!

If you are a senior executive in a specialised media/events business, with an interest in international growth strategies, make sure you join Renewd and sign up to our next Renewd International virtual roundtable.

 


 

Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight , VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 


Do you need help defining a marketing strategy that drives growth and delivers strong ROI?

MPG’s marketing strategists have a wealth of experience and expertise in developing high impact marketing strategies for B2B brands. Get in touch to find out how we can help you build a robust marketing strategy that drives revenue growth and consistently delivers against business objectives.

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What’s going on with email marketing?

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

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

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

#1: Messaging strategy development

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

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

#2: Segment and target

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

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

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

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

#3: Get and use a messaging strategy

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

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

#4: Make your website work well

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

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

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

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

Find out about MPG’s Optimised Website Services

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

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

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

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


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

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

Areas for testing include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

David Laird, President & CEO, Strategy Institute

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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.

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A practical guide to building a robust B2B membership acquisition strategy

Effective member acquisition (sometimes referred to as member recruitment) depends on the fine art of building an integrated marketing and sales strategy that creates a pipeline of relevant, engaged prospects who then convert to members.

The holy grail of membership marketing is to achieve strong member retention to build high value, recurring revenues, but it all has to start with strong membership acquisition.

Through our work with companies offering memberships to their customers, MPG has developed a methodology for creating strong member acquisition strategies. Here we share with you our tried and tested 5 step approach.

5 steps to developing a strong acquisition strategy for B2B membership growth

#1 Reach your target audience – build routes to market

An essential first step to your acquisition strategy is to understand which of your market segments has the best potential for delivering the desired member growth. To do this, you will need a deep understanding of the composition of your end-user market.

Market mapping and sizing is essential to understanding what the gap is between your high growth segment and your existing database. Depending on the size of the gap, you can work out how to deploy your inbound channels, and you might need a database build project.

You can read more about MPG’s recommended market mapping and sizing approach in this related article.

#2 Create your outreach marcomms strategy

Your next step in the pursuit of new, high quality members is to build your marcomms strategy.

Creating a well structured outreach strategy is centred around getting the right messages to the right people at the right time. To make this effective based on a fully integrated communications plan, you will need to consider:

  • Brand and tone of voice – have you documented these to ensure your marketing and sales people are fully aligned? This also ensures they stay top of mind
  • Core communications and channels – not only will you determine which communications will be used in which channel, and the frequency of those communications (ideally largely automated), you will need to factor in how often these will be reviewed and revised to suit your members’ changing needs and life cycle maturity
  • Content – what pieces will resonate with your potential members, which channels you’ll be using to distribute and amplify your content, and when this content will be released? How can you customise this based on the specific profile and interests of your targeted members?
  • Quantified, measurable objectives – do you have clear objectives for each communication piece? And have you specified how performance will be measured against each of those objectives?

#3 Communicate effectively for awareness and interest

Now that you’ve defined your outreach strategy, you should turn your focus back to ensuring you deploy the most impactful, relevant messaging for each target audience group. This means articulating your membership USPs (unique selling points), and membership benefits considering the specific motivations, needs, challenges and opportunities that your product addresses, and are being faced by your target persona’s.

There is now more noise than ever with competition from your traditional competitors, and also from disruptors and new entrants who are taking advantage of rapid digitalisation to move into your space. As your competition and the noise everyone is making escalates, attracting, engaging and converting your target customers will require highly relevant and carefully crafted messaging.

If you are not sure where to start with your messaging strategy, have a look at our step-by-step guide for building a winning messaging strategy to steer you through the process.

#4 Engage and convert

You’ve grown your database, defined your target segments and relevant messaging, and built your outreach strategy. The next priority is to get those prospects to convert to leads and ultimately sales.

You need to ensure your entire customer journey is mapped out and optimised to drive those coveted conversions. A fundamental element in this customer journey is your website – you need to get more of the right people to visit your website, complete forms and ultimately sign up to your membership offering.

Investing in your website is critical to ensure all your marketing works. Good SEO and a seamless user experience, with intelligent lead generation and calls to action (CTAs) that drive conversions are all a must.

There are many factors that will impact how well optimised your website is, and in this article we share the top 4 things you should be doing for a high performance website.

#5 Measure ROI and improve

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while, you know how much emphasis we put on the importance of tracking and analysing results to adjust and optimise your marketing approach in a responsive and agile way for the best outcomes.

It’s so important in fact we’ve dedicated articles to measuring membership marketing success and the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B.

When it comes to marketing metrics, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and lose focus on what really matters. The below areas are an essential starting point when measuring the success of your membership acquisition marketing:

  • Database size and growth
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
  • Sales achieved
  • Length of sales Cycle
  • Revenue achieved
  • Average yield

DOWNLOAD MEMBERSHIP MAKRETING KPIS


Coming soon…

In the final installment of our membership marketing series to be published later this summer, we’ll be looking at the best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering. Not every events business needs a membership offering, and not every membership offering needs events (or at least large, in-person events). But when your product portfolio includes membership and events it is very important to tie them together in various ways to ensure your events support member retention and acquisition for steady member revenue growth.

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email in your inbox every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create a resource (e.g. webinar, guide or report) that will help you achieve high performance B2B marketing.


MPG’s marketing strategists provided us with clear direction on how to establish strong brand positioning. Their work for Outsmart Insight included a thorough competitor analysis, customer persona development, messaging strategy development, branding upgrade and website design & functionality recommendations. Having MPG as collaborative and creative marketing partners, focused on delivering marketing assets we could immediately put into action and gain ROI from really helped us move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Manging Director & Founder, Outsmart Insight


If growing membership revenue is a strategic focus for you, MPG can help.

Our team of marketing specialists can create, and execute on, a robust membership marketing strategy for you. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

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