Given marketers’ hyper-focus on capturing ever-increasing volumes of quality leads and acquiring customers that will yield the highest lifetime value, it’s not uncommon to leverage third parties (media partners, publishers, affiliate networks, etc.) in order to scale programs. The biggest challenge in this world of paid demand gen is identifying qualified fulfillment sources. The risk involved often causes organizations to stick with a small handful of tested and true publishers. While this seems like a safe strategy, it drastically hampers the ability to reach large volumes of new prospects.
We marketers are incredibly diligent about refining prospect data once it’s inside our marketing systems. Lead nurturing, scoring and predictive analytics tools have turned us into physicists with our data. And we continually strive toward that perfect equation to build stronger customer relationships.
However, we all too often cast a blind eye to the disorderly and sluggish processes by which we manage numerous media partners to acquire the all-important prospect data used to fuel our demand gen engines.
A little-known fact. Prior to Integrate, I spent three years in performance-based media sales. It was the most challenging role of my sixteen year sales career. Challenging enough that I was over-the-moon happy to leave sales and transition into its much more predictable counterpart—marketing.
Those three years though did instill in me a level of empathy for both the media company that I worked for and the marketing clients I served. Experiencing the “before” version of an industry barely touched by the marketing tech revolution allows me to more fully appreciate the available technologies today that support smarter marketing.
Not to say that mistakes don’t still happen or that we aren’t still in a learning curve. However, eight years ago there were a lot more “not so smart” media and marketing mistakes. For example…
Reading through scores of 2015 B2B Marketing predictions, there are a few consistent themes. Programmatic buying is now officially the accepted practice. Predictive analytics companies like 6Sense, Prelytix and Lattice Engines continue to bring their intelligence to the mainstream. And lead-generating media companies are increasingly dangling their ability to directly inject prospect data into client marketing tech stacks (marketing automation and CRM systems) as a valuable new option. I find this last theme particularly important, and in many ways dangerous if not properly executed.
You’re likely thinking: If a media company offers to free my time and resources by automating lead delivery into my nurture tracks, why shouldn’t I dive in head first? What could go wrong?
The name of the marketing game in 2014 is speed: speed to acquire top-of-funnel leads, speed to engage those leads after initial capture, speed to push them to sales when the time is right, speed to close deals.
Every process, system or person that slows the organization is a barrier to marketing’s biggest goals: engage customers, build sales pipeline that converts to revenue. In order to keep their jobs, marketing leaders need to eliminate those barriers and turn up the speed. I’d like to share some practices we’re using at HiP to increase speed for clients and our own internal operations.
Lately there has been an enormous amount of discussion among marketers (advertisers) about the value of technology as it relates to acquiring customers, measuring media program effectiveness, justifying budgets and generally proving marketing’s overall value to an organization. Interestingly, relatively little of that discourse has crossed the table to the media partner/publisher side of the advertising business. This is very surprising. Over $40 billion is invested in media annually, but the idea of how this marketing tech revolution affects the job of media partners is still largely neglected.
The media world is rapidly shifting. Running a media company is more difficult than ever. In his recent post, “Why Brands Will Start Buying Media Companies,” Joe Pulizzi identifies one of the core challenges that media companies face as a need to please two distinct groups: their marketing customers (brands and advertisers) and their audiences. Keeping both groups equally happy often puts media companies in a precarious situation.
Another great Affiliate Summit is in the books, and we here at Integrate are fired up about where the industry is heading in 2014 and beyond. Affiliate Summit West, held this year January 12th-14th in Las Vegas, is the definitive advertising conference where advertisers connect with both new and existing media partners, all while enjoying the sights and sounds of Sin City.
In addition to the usual business conversations conducted in the Exhibit Hall, participants could also join keynote speakers, roundtable discussions, and educational sessions that focused on topics including: mobile traffic, affiliate recruitment and management, conversion rate optimization, WordPress, coupons and more. Since it was held in Las Vegas, there were numerous chances for attendees and exhibitors to let their hair down at various events—company sponsored happy hours and dinners, tradeshow sponsored parties featuring various well-known musical artists, and the litany of good and bad choices to be made regarding entertainment in Sin City.
Marketing organizations are aggressively modernizing, automating and adding more digitally centered marketing methods as they focus on their mandate to discover prospects and create new customers. CMOs have added CRM for managing pipeline and customer relationships, leveraged marketing automation for nurturing prospects, spent millions on super-charged, branded websites and landing/social pages, and dumped billions into advertising technology (ad tech) to promote their offerings.
With all of this progress, we’re still missing a vital component in the quest to modernize our marketing approach. We are NOT connecting our target audience, prospects and future customers, or their data, to our marketing systems and processes – a critical missing link.