Data technology crucial to digital marketing

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Participants in the marketing strategy roundtable at the Marketo offices in San Mateo, California
Participants in the marketing strategy roundtable at the Marketo offices in San Mateo, California

David McSpadden (Franklin Templeton): When we think about our brand versus our direct marketing, it starts to get very blended. We end up doing a limited amount of television, very strategically focused.

We use print tactically. Part of the reason we've been moving away from print is we think for certain communications, it's a good billboard reminder, but if we're trying to engage an advisor, which is our client, to learn more about our product, print's a flat medium, a two-dimensional medium, whereas something that's online, if somebody's interested, we can take them further.

Organizationally, we made sure that we had all of the facets of our marketing mix come back through our department. Three years ago, we made a big play and I pulled the website over into the marketing group, so that we had clearer control over that. It had been in our IT department. The challenge for us is, we manufacture mutual funds. There are a lot of different funds that manufacture that product. We're a commodity. How do you differentiate your product?

A lot of that is finding out not just what we do, but what is the client's challenge? Assuming we have the target audience correct, we think we do, what's on their mind and how do we aggregate our product together in a way that we can thematically address that client challenge? Then we look at the media mix and the ecosystem that we have, and figure out within that campaign, within that idea, what's the best way to express it.

Direct Marketing News: How are you allocating spending across the marketing mix?

Laura Morris (CafePress): We need to start considering the ROI channels, not just in dollars, but in the information that they bring us back about the customer and allow us to leverage another channel.

For instance, a channel like SEM or social where it's very hard to tie back to conversions, we may be able to gather information that helps us better define the target audience, and then leverage that through channels like email by customizing an experience based on things like a search term someone converted on or time on a site.

Johnson: It is not only information, but almost high value actions from all the digital channels. So much of this is just figuring out how to get people actually participating in the conversation with you.

We look at click-through rates and downloads by persona and you can start to figure out where they go, what they look for … and you're seeing what's working. You're nurturing their interest and looking at click-through rate and conversion rate … That's why content marketing is becoming so critical.

Kara Trivunovic (StrongMail): Marketers have gotten spoiled by the fact that digital media is so trackable, that we think we should be able to attribute revenue back to every single action. If you look at print and TV, we were completely content with the idea of an impression. There is definitely some value to the impression that a digital media can provide. It isn't necessarily directly tracked back to a dollar amount.

Tracey Eiler (Cloud9 Analytics): We're a $5 million company. My budget's about $110,000 a month. I've worked in bigger companies with bigger money, but I have to tell you, it's liberating to have so little to spend because I have fewer choices and I have to be relentless about what I'm going to spend money on. I'm a big believer of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and I am way down at food and shelter. I think about it in two buckets: I think about it in demand, and I think about it in awareness. Period.

We are going after big companies, 5,000 sales reps and above. We're going after really two people, or two groups of people in those firms: the analytic sales ops types that are trying to make data all make sense of what's happening in the pipeline for their sales execs, and the sales execs themselves.

I can't reach those sales execs. They don't answer the phone. They're on planes. They don't want to talk to people like me. They don't read content. They talk to each other. Our efforts are about raising awareness with them that a solution like this exists, that they don't have to use their crummy spreadsheets anymore and that their buddy Joe over at that other big company's using us, and linking them together.

This is all about lots of email nurturing, lots of content marketing, and the next up thing is really going to be community development. When we are able to pull together groups of sales executives, which we've been lucky enough to do in a forum like this, it's magic. It's very personalized. It's not personalized in the way of a personalized email. It's personalized in the way of John knows Harry who knows Sue, who when Sue makes the call then Harry shows up.

Smith: As far as what's the media mix, there is no answer. We have 17, 18 clients that we work with primarily, and it's literally different for each one.

Almost everybody starts with a primary medium. If there's enough money, they tend to use television or video because it communicates the best. Now a lot of that is moving to video on the Web. Interactive of all forms [is] important, leading with Web display, because you get that rich media, interactivity and two-way communication.

Even though there are dozens of choices out there, it's very difficult for most marketers to wrap their minds around more than three, four, five primary vehicles. Things like print and things like radio used to be the number two or number three options. There are three or four things that we think of before we get to print or before we get to radio. One is video. Another is Web display. Search you have to have. If you're not in mobile, you better get there. Then there's that social thing. All of the sudden you have bandwidth issues.

Johnson:  The conversation starts with the content. What are you trying to express? Then you need to ask where do I want to story-tell? You don't want to get stuck in filling media buys.

Direct Marketing News: What is your content strategy?

McSpadden: We tend to plan in two factors. One is what's our overall brand strategy and plan, and that's a much longer term, three-, four-, five-year commitment. The other is what are our more short-term campaigns and themes? That is done in close collaboration with our sales team and in conjunction with what we're seeing in the marketplace.

Everybody knows the volatility of the market over the last several years. Being at the heart of that, we've been trying to anticipate both hearing what the clients are saying now, but also recognizing that all market cycles are short-term and anticipating what the needs would be in the future and helping our clients plan for that move in the market.

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