If you know who I am, you’ve probably followed my work as a journalist covering the B2B marketing space. Crain’s BtoB magazine was my first longtime gig after I got my masters from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After Crain, I shaped the editorial vision for a newly launched digital-only publication, FierceCMO, which grew to a strong 20,000 by the time I left two years later. The next natural step in my career was leading the US digital expansion for the UK’s leading digital media resource, B2B Marketing.
Then I struck out on my own. To my delight, my skills as a journalist were highly prized by brands and marketing services agencies. And, it turns out, that I picked up a thing or two in all that time I spent covering B2B marketing since my beats covered everything from marketing technology, data and analytics, to content, email, social and events.
So that has apparently made me a unicorn — someone with business and marketing know-how as well as solid journalistic chops. My work these days as a digital storyteller tends to focus on helping brands boost their content strategy, as well as generating content for them like white papers, ebooks, case studies, press releases, email and social campaigns, and more.
I’ve also started merging a long-time coverage of racial and gender diversity and inclusion in the marketing industry with my content strategy work. Recently, I gave an Innovation Talk at Content Marketing Institute’s CM World, “Is Diversity Really Important for Content Marketing Success,” which I will share with you in a new blog post soon. Spoiler alert: diversity is vitally important and my life experience coupled with diligent research has given me a unique perspective on how to handle the many opportunities that arise from choosing inclusiveness/diversity as a key aspect of your core business strategy.
Finally, the more that I work with clients, the more I wished I could help them with some basic content tips and tricks so that our time together was spent more efficiently. And it is with that end — lucky you! — that I’ve decided to launch a blog providing content marketers with strategic and operational advice on topics ranging from how to create an editorial calendar to maintaining a full pipeline of ideas. I will also explore how to create inclusive content for a diverse audience. If there are any areas you want to see me investigate, let me know in the comments.
Lack of an effective content marketing strategy is the No. 1 barrier to a B2B marketer’s success, according to a recent Ascend2 survey. The report found almost half of marketers don’t have an effective strategy in place. The five following bits of advice can help B2B marketers either build a plan from scratch or fine-tune an existing one.
1) Set business goals
The first step in nailing down a documented strategy is to determine the elements that differentiate your company from the competition. Come up with at least a couple of unique selling propositions that show how your business stands out from the crowd and that help you tell a bigger story. Brainstorm compelling content around these points.
It is also important during this stage to define business goals. What are you trying to accomplish with your content? Is it lead generation? Brand awareness? Customer retention? This step might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to figure this out. Each piece of content you create must push this goal forward.
2) Write an editorial mission statement
I am a big advocate of creating an editorial mission statement to help your content team stay focused on goals. Getting a handle on the big picture – why you do what you do – can help your team rally around an overall vision. It also helps you stay on track and prioritize. If what you’re doing doesn’t fit your editorial mission, then you’re doing something wrong.
To craft an editorial mission statement, first identify your core audience, the kinds of content you want to provide and the value that content will provide. Your mission statement should tell everyone who you are and why they should care.
An example of an editorial mission statement:
Tequia Burt’s content blog is the B2B marketers’ go-to resource for top-notch content marketing strategy, analysis, how-to pieces, blogs and great advice. She will help you face your biggest challenges and prepare you to adapt to an ever-changing B2B marketing landscape.
3) Define your audience
Once you’ve zeroed in on your mission, it’s time to drill down into who your audience is. How can your content help them?
If the idea of creating a working buyer persona has you fretting, take a step back and keep it simple. First figure out your audience’s likely job titles, their interests, their locations and their content consumption habits. Narrowing this down can help you personalize your content and make it engaging for your buyers. It can also help you determine the best channels for sharing content.
4) Establish content roles
Many organizations don’t have the budget that big enterprise companies have. So how can you act like a 5-person team with two people on staff? First things first: One of you must be the editorial lead who guides your content strategy. This person will manage the editorial process, writers and editors, as well as content projects. They will ensure that editorial, strategy and design mesh well and stick to the mission.
One of you must be the dedicated content creator, the person responsible for writing, curating and posting content. If even a two-person team is out of reach, consider hiring a freelance journalist to help pick up the slack. Outside experts, bloggers and your own brand advocates can also serve as contributors, helping you beef up your content roster.
In some situations, the editorial lead will also have to write content. The trick here is balancing that workload with a strong hold on the editorial mission. If the editorial lead is too focused on deadlines, they may lose sight of the overall strategy. If this starts to happen, you’ll need outside help. Keep those freelancers on speed dial.
5) Create an editorial calendar
I am a fan of editorial calendars. As a journalist, I believe in firm deadlines. It gives you a schedule for posting blogs, research, social media and other content, so you’re not left trying to think of a great idea at the last minute. However, don’t go overboard. A three-month plan will give you plenty of elbowroom to adapt your message to current industry news and trends.
An editorial calendar also can encourage much more focused thinking around the kinds of content your audience wants to consume. One of the worst things a content marketer can do is create a piece of content just for the sake of creating a piece of content. Another recent study, this one from Forrester, found B2B buyers also want less, but more targeted content. Half of the participants in the survey said vendors give them useless content, and two-thirds report that vendors give them too much of it. Using these tips can help you avoid giving your buyers too much of a bad thing. –Tequia
What brands can do to stand up against divisive rhetoric following the US election
Last month, I moderated a panel for the Northern California chapter of the Business Marketing Association, and one of the panelists, Tom Stein, chairman and chief client officer of B2B agency Stein IAS, said something that stuck with me. I asked panelists, when it comes to moment marketing, whether brands should stay neutral and avoid tough social issues. Tom’s response: No way. “Brands need to take a stand.” Even B2B ones.
After the recent US presidential election, the comment rings even truer and is even more important. Brands can take a stand by focusing on inclusive messaging that appeals to the kinds of customers you have – and want to attract. Ditch the divisive rhetoric and spotlight the diversity of both your employees and your clients. You will be rewarded.
People are angry. What does this mean for brands?
The election was polarizing, and there are some realities we have to face: Hate crimes have surged in recent days. Demonstrations are exploding across the country. Influencers like activist and journalist Shaun King, who has been documenting via Twitter the hate crimes that have taken place since the election, have called for a boycott of brands based on their political connections.
One thing that this election has made crystal clear is that our nation is more diverse than ever before. Brands that embrace that now win new friends and nurture relationships with old ones. Our customers hail from all walks of life and have a multitude of different experiences – whether they live in NYC or Des Moines – and we have to reach them.
A close friend who was recently a part of an agency review board said it was a real concern that the mostly white, mostly male representatives of agencies competing for the company’s business weren’t diverse enough to connect with its customer base. The company ended up choosing the agency that looked the most like its employees and its customers.
So how do we let our audiences know where we stand?
One great way to signal that we don’t stand for divisive rhetoric and bigotry, as well as demonstrate our commitment to our customers, is to continue to call for more diversity and gender equality in our companies and in our industries. And not just call for it – because talk is cheap; we need to mean it and work hard toward making those goals a reality.
Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney netted the wrong kind of attention after he sent an email to employees suggesting that workers who supported Donald Trump were not welcome at the company. The message went viral, was a huge marketing fail and the fallout continues. We’re Americans, after all, and we rightfully chafe at the idea of being punished at our place of employment for our political views.
However, we can look to CEOs at tech companies, including Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, who all emphasized the diversity policies at their organizations after Trump was elected. In a blog post, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote:
“Over a third of our engineers have come from other countries – 157 countries, in fact. We have employees from every race, ethnic background and religion. If there’s a language spoken on the planet, there’s a good chance that it’s spoken by an employee at Microsoft. And we’re committed to promoting not just diversity among all the men and women who work here, but the type of inclusive culture that will enable people to do their best work and pursue rewarding careers.”
Making public commitments to fostering diverse workforces is the very least we could do. We can go even further in our activism and emulate leaders like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Have you asked your company's CEO how they are responding to the Indiana discrimination bill now? http://t.co/SvTwyCZ8nc
Last year he pulled his very popular trade show Dreamforce from the state of Indiana over its “religious freedom” law, which permitted discrimination against gay and transgender customers. After Indiana caved to pressure from multiple tech brands and modified the controversial law, Salesforce resumed business in Indiana and issued a thank-you video to the state.
This week, while speaking at the Code Enterprise conference in San Francisco, Benioff emphasized that diversity and inclusion were top issues in Silicon Valley and something that the Trump administration should promote.
Trust me when I say that your sincere efforts will be noticed by your customers. Making your missions public, demonstrating that not only are all kinds of voices welcome, but actively sought out, will only reflect positively on your brand.
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute and lead organizer of CMWorld since its inception in 2011, disputed Fishkin’s numbers.
“This was our best year [in terms of diversity], which is why Rand’s tweet hit me a little hard,” he said. “We tried so hard, we did our best, we really came through this year, and now somebody is tweeting about how we’re not doing our job.”
According to Content Marketing Institute, men made up 55% of its speakers this year, women represented 45%, while 9% were people of color. For those that frequent marketing conferences, those don’t sound like such bad stats. And it was a marked improvement over the previous year (men 63%, women 37%, POC 6%).
But when all was said and done, Pulizzi admitted CMI still has work to do – he pointed to the fact that he and his organizers hadn’t managed to land a female feature keynote in the past couple of years. “I know that we have an issue; that’s why I’m completely open. We’re trying to figure it out,” he said. “At the beginning of every year in planning, we know we need to have diverse points of view and people coming from all different backgrounds and ethnicities to make sure the show gives a real representation of what’s going on in marketing.”
Invest in diversity
Pulizzi is not alone in his efforts to open up the marketing events industry to a more diverse speaker field. Fishkin is also the organizer of his own very popular trade show MozCon. And he holds himself to the same standards when it comes to putting together diverse events in terms of gender, race and even sexuality.
In 2012 Moz decided to focus on gender equity in terms of its speaker roster, Fishkin said, and soon after the group broadened its search for even more underrepresented individuals. This year, 61% of MozCon’s speakers self-identify as female, up from 46% in 2015.
The organization has also taken the 50/50 Pledge, which is designed to promote equal gender balance at tech events.
“We’re looking for people who add unique perspectives, people who are going to introduce our audience to ideas that they haven’t heard before, ideas that they haven’t seen or thought of before, and we’re looking for people who help us represent the marketing world that we want to live in,” Fishkin said.
“Here’s some people of color, here’s some people who are able and disabled, here’s some folks who are men and women, here’s some folks who are straight and here’s some folks who are on the GBLTQ spectrum. And that is going to help us give a terrific, diverse set of ideas,” he continued.
Fishkin said the best part is that amplifying the voices of those diverse speakers has led to increased growth and diversity at the event itself. In 2012, only 10% of MozCon attendees were women; this year that number increased to 43%.
“Every year we have sold more tickets, every year our speaker scores and event ratings have gone up and every year we have improved the diversity of our audience as well,” Fishkin said. “And those are all of the results that you want to see. The crap reasoning I always hear is ‘I don’t want diversity at my event; I want the best speakers.’ And the counterpoint to that is those things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are one in the same.”
But Pulizzi said one of his challenges is simply that more men want to speak. “We had 500, 600 people submit to speak for Content Marketing World. It was [easily] 80% men,” he said. Because of that fact, Pulizzi said CMI needs to work harder in its outreach. “We can’t say this is just who we have to choose from. We can’t just rest on that and say that’s good enough.”
“The crap reasoning I always hear is ‘I don’t want diversity at my event; I want the best speakers.’ And the counterpoint to that is those things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are one in the same.”
Rand Fishkin, CEO & founder, Moz
Create inclusive environments
Microsoft Search Evangelist Christi Olson, who has spoken at numerous digital marketing events, including AdWeek, and is slated to be a keynote at our USA tech show in March, said one piece of the puzzle is to create environments that are friendly to women. She is part of Janes of Digital, which was started in June 2014 by Microsoft Senior Marketing Manager Frances Donegan-Ryan. The panel events piggyback on the Search Marketing Expo’s main conferences and aim to give women a safe and inclusive place to have frank conversations about the digital marketing conference industry.
“There were so few women speaking at these search conferences, Bing decided to host a full separate event that allowed women to get together and talk about what was important to us in this industry and space,” she said. “Even though we invite our male counterparts to attend, the panels are mostly women who talk about what it means to work in a male-dominated workforce and what it takes to get out there and talk at different events.”
Most of all, Olson said, the most important factor for encouraging more diversity at events is attendees asking for more diversity – and then holding conferences to it.
“Both men and women alike need to hold the conferences accountable for their diversification of speaker. They need to be reporting back on [how many] men versus women are speaking, how many minorities versus white individuals are speaking,” she said.
“It’s holding the conference accountable and saying we want to see more than just white men.”
While persona marketing is not a new concept, rapid advances in marketing technology are enabling B2B marketers to breathe new life into their persona marketing initiatives.
“I learned the importance of buyer personas in my career at Caterpillar back 15 years ago, but they were tough to implement,” said Peter Garza, VP of the Demand Generation Center of Excellence at MedAssets, a provider of healthcare services and products. “Back then it was hard to prove that persona marketing was the right thing to do. It was a lot harder to create content specific to your buyer personas, so it was really difficult to deliver a story where the benefit/cost ratio could be justified. With the technology we now have, we can definitely boost conversions and show ROI as a result of those efforts.”
Marketing technology from a variety of vendors gives B2B marketers the tools to make sense out of both internal and third-party data, as well as unite quantitative behavioral data with such qualitative data as first-person customer interviews. As a result, B2B marketers gain much deeper insights into their buyer personas and are able to deliver more personalized and relevant customer experiences.
“A lot of marketers see personas as a way to get a ‘holistic’ view of their customers, but it’s a little bit more discrete than that,” said Adele Revella, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute. “We’re building personas to get new insight into something that matters to the buyers during this buying decision.”
Technology also provides marketers the ability to “operationalize” personas by making it easier to keep them current and embed them into other systems to target the right buyers, according to Jeff Freund, CEO of Akoonu, which provides a platform that helps marketers create and maintain buyer personas, journey maps and content planning.“How do you bring them to life? How do you really activate them across the sales and marketing organization to get the value out of them,” Freund said. “This includes things like integrating your personas into your sales and marketing systems. Going into your CRM and identifying the persona match for the leads and the contacts there, having that be part of how you report on your marketing effectiveness and efficiency. Now, there’s a process around the maintenance of personas, keeping them up-to-date and keeping them current with emerging market trends.”
Bridging The Sales And Marketing Gap
MedAssets’ Garza said before the company decided last year to focus on buyer personas, and overhaul its marketing technology infrastructure, it was “doing everything wrong.” The marketing and sales teams were not aligned, giving MedAssets little visibility into prospects’ progress in their buying journey.
So with the help of The Pedowitz Group, the company took a multichannel approach, cleaned up its data, crafted multiple buyer personas and tapped Marketo to be the central platform hub to help manage its different campaigns and touch points.
The new plan led to the creation of more than 110 pieces of pain-point-driven content — including white papers, case studies, infographics, videos and executive briefs — tailored for targeted personas across three stages of the buyer’s journey.
“We tripled the amount of leads and opportunities because the quality of our content was so much better,” Garza said. “The nice thing about using a buyer persona with the right technology is that you’re not only engaging better, but you’re engaging with the right folks. How do we add value, how do we effectively communicate and how can we, as a company, meet our customers’ needs? That’s really what it boils down to.”
While creating and leveraging buyer personas is just one peg in MedAssets strategy, it has been a critical one. The company has been able to increase its top line revenue from demand generation by almost 700% in less than a year. With personas created, buyer journeys defined and corresponding content aligned, MedAssets went from delivering ongoing reactionary email blasts to a more strategic multichannel inbound/outbound approach.
“We’ve had phenomenal results with persona-based marketing,” Garza said. “Without it, quite frankly, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The persona-based experience is the fuel for our demand-gen engine.”
Realizing Value Beyond The Marketing Department
Stephanie Fox, Senior Director of Marketing at Copyright Clearance Center, a provider of copyright licensing services, said working with persona marketing tech company Cintellenabled her to “break the personas out of the marketing department” with buy-in from top executives.
“Our CEO is really embracing it and saying as we transform our business to a tech company, let’s make sure that every person from top-to-bottom in the company knows and understands these personas,” Fox noted. “So we’re both expanding the number of personas that we need to communicate to as marketers and as sellers, but also we’re undertaking a company-wide transformation to bring personas to everybody.”
Persona marketing was not new at CCC. But previously, Fox said buyer personas “lived in these little Power Points that would get lost on our ancient fileserver,” which meant they were rarely updated and no one ever used them. But now, Cintell has updated those personas and embedded them in the company’s intranet to make them available to all CCC employees — everyone from marketing and sales to operations and engineering.
“While the product managers will continue to be the experts on the market and the customer and the customer needs, engineering is going to gain a better understanding of the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’ Why is this a priority feature over that,” Fox said.
Fox is taking a three-phase approach with the Cintell integration. Now that employees have access to the new buyer personas, the next phase is integration with Salesforce and after that comes Pardot integration. While only the first phase is complete, the sales team has already boosted lead-gen efforts and is working much more collaboratively with marketing.
“Sales is providing a lot of really rich feedback and allowing us to update the personas on an ongoing basis,” she said. “Some of our newer sales reps are also much more successful than some traditional salespeople at CCC. Because they’re expanding the number of people they’re reaching with this new persona information, the legacy folks are starting to realize, ‘Huh. These guys might be on to something.’”
The video, “I Forgot My Phone,” created by actress comedienne Charlene deGuzman, has gone viral in the past week. The short film has garnered more than 12 million YouTube views, mentions in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Gawker and NPR and is also being picked up by global media outlets.
The two-minute video, which documents a day-in-the-life of deGuzman to illustrate how obsessive Americans have become about their cell phones, has clearly struck a chord with mobile users around the world. The video shows that while preparing for a run, having lunch with friends and even snuggling in bed with a partner, people are engaged with their mobile. The moral of this tale is that no matter what you’re doing, your smartphone is inevitably involved.
deGuzman’s video also demonstrates the urgency that B2B marketers should be feeling about crafting their brand’s mobile strategy. And we’re not talking about just the basics—the time for baby steps has passed. While optimizing brand websites for mobile is of paramount importance, we’re at the stage where B2B marketers should be moving into the realm of developing mobile apps.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a B2B or B2C environment, you need to take into consideration how mobile has changed our customers’ behavior,” said Paul Berney, CMO and managing director-EMEA at the Mobile Marketing Association. “Our expectation is that no matter where we are, we will be able to connect and engage with brands and organizations in real time via the mobile channel—and we expect there to be a two-way dialogue and a real-time interaction. As individuals, we can’t separate ourselves out into having a different persona or mindset at work or at home or with our friends or playing sports or while commuting. We’re the same person and we have an expectation of everything being able to be done via a mobile channel. B2B marketers need to switch themselves on to that.”
Working From Home
Recent research from the Harvard Business School bears this out. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, citing Harvard’s data showing that North Americans spend 88.5 hours a week working or “monitoring” work remotely, pointed to mobile’s influence. “Mobile technology has obliterated the very idea of a set-hour workweek,” he wrote.
Despite this, changing to a mobile-first mindset will be a challenge for B2B marketers. A recent Adobe survey found almost half of digital marketers (45 percent) said their organizations don’t have a mobile-optimized site or mobile application and rely on desktop sites only. Additionally, only 7 percent have built mobile apps and a fifth (21 percent) have implemented both a mobile-optimized site and a mobile app. Moreover, only 10 percent of B2B marketers have used mobile in the past year, according to BtoB Magazine.
Nonetheless, some B2B marketers have already begun to adapt—like Juniper Networks. The networking technology company’s VP-CMO Brad Brooks said he believes that B2B marketers need to start responding to customers in a much more B2C-oriented way, and that necessitates prioritizing mobile.
“Too often B2B marketers think about their customers as businesses, not as individuals,” Brooks said. “The consumerization of IT—or what I like to call the Apple-ization of the IT—means that more and more individuals are making decisions around their IT choices at work. Everything is now about the user experience, and how it actually applies to me and my personal job. And as that becomes more and more the norm, that informs how our customers think about buying, and how they are making their buying decisions. So being connected to them in that way and understanding how that mobile experience relates to them becomes incredibly important.”
That’s why the company in July rolled out an app, which a company spokesperson said is “first of a series of major initiatives to make our digital properties optimized for the emerging mobile, social world in which our customers and partners live.”
Juniper 1on1 enables customers to explore Juniper’s products, network architectures, services and company pages; watch videos and access datasheets, case studies and customer references; interact with Juniper’s J-Net community as well as the company’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages; read the latest Juniper news; and learn about product updates.
“We’ve completely redone our Web experience for mobile application use so that we can have that consumer-oriented conversation with our customers,” Brooks said. “It’s not just a mobile app on the iTunes store; we’ve actually redone the entire Web experience that our customers come to and made it feel very mobile, and taken it to a very personal level around the individual user.”
The Customer Is Always Right
This type of service-oriented, utilitarian app is a perfect example of how B2B marketers can use mobile apps, according to MMA’s Berney. He pointed to the IHS Connect app as a prime case study of another B2B marketer that brought that full Web experience to an iPad app for its oil and gas industry customers.
“Our B2B customer needs are being influenced by B2C experiences,” said Kris Howery, director of product marketing IHS Connect. “So they want the elegance, the functionality that comes with a B2C app in their B2B app experience as well. So our No. 1 guiding criteria was to make this an elegant and easy-to-use system that could go head-to-head with any of the other apps being delivered in a B2C marketplace.”
IHS, a global information company, provides industry analytics, research, forecasts and other information to executives in a range of industries. The Connect iPad app, which was launched last April, delivers business intelligence, including industry analysis of energy markets, political, regulatory and geological information, global supply and demand trends, M&A trends and country risk information, to IHS’s global oil and gas customers. The app also enables IHS customers to browse IHS insights by topic of interest, create a customized dashboard to display information based on their own unique workflow, and access insights directly from industry experts on key events impacting the global business landscape.
Howery said understanding their customers’ journey was the first step in developing the app, which has been downloaded about 5,000 times.
“We thought about how our customers work,” she said. “What we’re finding is that the hours of nine-to-five are no longer applicable in a global marketplace. We know that customers want access to the kind of information they rely on to make their business decisions in real time at their convenience. We know that they are no longer just sitting at desks, so they need access to this information in the board meeting. You want to have real-time information when you’re sitting on a call with a customer or if you’re at a customer site and you need to know something. You want to have access to this information wherever you are or happen to be.”
Berney also emphasized the importance of establishing customer’s needs at the outset of creating a mobile app strategy. To develop an app, B2B marketers must first figure out how their target audience uses mobile, which mobile devices they use and when they use them.
“B2B marketers don’t know a lot about how their target audience uses mobile,” Berney said. “They don’t know what type of mobile device their audience is using. They don’t know the mindset of their customers. You want to be able to use mobile in a contextual way, you want to the able to hit the right person with the right message at the right time and the right place and that’s the best of what mobile does.”
Howery said it’s all about B2B marketers putting themselves in their clients’ position to determine how they engage and how they work. She also urged marketers to leave fear behind.
“This [reluctance to adopt mobile] is about not wanting to change,” she said. “If the goal is getting from point one to point two, why change? But as competitors come in and there is further development in the space, B2B marketers will be forced to change. We have to learn to adapt quicker.”
Howery is correct in her assessment. As deGuzman’s video illustrates, mobile is reshaping our workforce and changing how we all relate to one another, for better or worse. And B2B marketers have to grab hold of this fact if they want to continue to reach customers and prospects.
“Mobile has changed our behavior irrevocably,” Berney said. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Once people know it is possible to, for example, get their bank balance in real time, why can’t they access data in real time in a B2B environment? There’s simply no excuse.”
Google shook up the marketing world last week with the limited beta release of Google Analytics 360, an enterprise marketing suite that melds the company’s existing Analytics Premium and Adometry services with four brand-new tools.
“The fact that Google is now making a commitment to marketing as a function is a very big deal,” said IDC Research Manager Gerry Murray. “Google made its brand on the advertising side of the house, and now they’re finally coming to marketing and saying we can do a lot more than just analytics.”
The suite, which is designed to help marketers understand both online and offline customer habits, is comprised of six products, including the former GA Premium and Adometry, rebranded as Attribution 360. Rounding out the suite is Audience Center 360, a data management platform that integrates with Google and DoubleClick; Optimize 360, which is designed to create multiple variations of a website for different audiences; Data Studio 360, a data visualization product that can integrate data across all the products within the suite; and Tag Manager 360, which provides data collection and APIs to increase data accuracy.
“It is a game changer in my view,” said Christine Nurnberger, CMO of Bottomline Technologies, a provider of payments and invoice automation software. “On the surface, Google Optimize 360, for example, looks like it just offers regular A/B and multivariate testing, but it goes far, far deeper. It allows marketers to create experiences around content at a much more granular level, and then track the ROI through the online buy cycle. Though it is geared to enterprise that’s on the B2C side, the ability to get my arms around the customer journey and customer personas based on much more robust analytics is very cool.”
The new suite will enable marketers to import their own first-party data, add third-party data and leverage Google data to develop audience segments for campaign targeting. The upshot, according to Google, is that marketers will have the ability to deliver much more useful experiences, tailored specifically to each customer.
“In B2B today, we use tools like Marketo to understand what people are looking at in terms of our content, and how they’re responding and interacting with our content in our campaign,” Nurnberger said. “But what we don’t understand is what they’re doing on the rest of the Internet, and what they’re researching and how they’re approaching their buy cycle outside of what we might be providing to them. This is going to give us that capability. I’m interested in pricing, which rumor has it, is going to be expensive.”
Not Built With B2B In Mind
Though Nurnberger is one of the B2B marketers singing praises, Demandbase CMO Peter Isaacson said the announcement highlights Google’s lack of investment on the B2B side.
“Google is continuing to neglect B2B because so much of this announcement is wrapped up in a B2C focus,” he said. “Even if you look at some of the types of data customers that they highlight in the release — Progressive and L’Oreal — they’re all B2C. I’m not sure that this solution was built with B2B marketers in mind, even though there are some B2B marketers that might jump on the DMP, [or] might jump onto the testing tool.”
Although IDC’s Murray agreed that Google’s 360 Analytics suite will have less of an impact in the pure-play B2B marketing industry, he said the release is a “boon to all marketers,” including proponents of account-based marketing in B2B.
“Account-based marketing is really all about helping sales expand the scope of their opportunity assessments in the account and connecting to new decision-makers in different parts of the business,” he said. “Marketing can — when it’s done right and you have the good, full, multidimensional view of these contacts within the accounts — help you start to make pretty good inferences around who’s the next best team to go sell and expand your solution to.”
Google said the suite was built with four goals in mind: providing marketers with a complete view of the customer journey; delivering more insights, rather than more data, from analytics tools; making data more integrated and accessible; and giving marketers the ability to use data analytics to improve marketing and consumer experiences.
While the company touts the suite’s ability to be easily integrated with a wide range of its own and third-party software, Nurnberger doesn’t think it goes far enough. Her “Holy Grail” is to get a complete understanding of how far her marketing dollar stretches, as well as have a holistic view of customers at every touch point.
“In theory, it’s going to take content marketing to a more personalized, real-time place, which is great. But what I wish they would do is talk more about the integration between this set of solutions and marketing automation or sales force automation,” she said. “This gets us a little bit closer in terms of the ability to control and analyze and optimize the touch points we have with them through Google versus passively just serving up ad words, but it doesn’t then connect the dots back into Marketo or Salesforce.com for that true 360-[degree] view of the customer.”
Competition In The Cloud
With this launch, Google also seems to be challenging several big players in the enterprise data cloud or DMP space, including, Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce. “It’s a bit of a crisis for some of their key competitors,” said IDC’s Murray.
However, in a research note, Pivotal Research Analyst Brian Wieser said that while Google 360 Analytics will increase competition, it poses no immediate threat to more-established marketing cloud providers.
“Most importantly for the broader marketing technology space, success from Google does not necessarily harm incumbents,” he said. “Instead, we think expanded efforts from Google will probably help to grow the broader sector, which has substantial upside given the untapped potential associated with bringing more technology to marketing functions.”
Adobe and Salesforce declined to comment, but Oracle Marketing Cloud’s Director of Product Marketing Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff pointed out that the centerpiece of Google’s new offering, which is still in beta, is a repackaging of an existing offering.
“Oracle’s positioning is that we believe marketers should take a best in breed approach to their advertising tech stack that solves a broad array of monetization tactics across channels,” she said. “We believe that advertisers need to have open platforms that allow for breadth capabilities to serve all ad type products (display, search, social, video, mobile, etc.), as well as ensure agnostic performance and reporting capabilities. We would question how Google would deliver agnostic and multichannel view given their focus on ‘Search’ at the core of their strategy. We are truly open.”
Vinyl sales in the United States exploded last year, up 52 percent in the first half of 2015, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and have overtaken streaming in terms of revenue. In response, Sony and Panasonic have announced new turntables at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.
Technics Grand Class SL-1200GAE
For the 50th anniversary of the SL-1200, which is beloved by audiophiles and DJs alike, Panasonic said Technics is releasing two new “Grand Class” models: the aluminum-cased SL-1200G and the magnesium limited-edition SL-1200GAE, of which only 1,200 will be made. Panasonic had ceased production of Technics turntables in 2010. The new SL-1200s include a modern makeover to help alleviate some long-term issues inherent to the classic models.
“Direct drive turntable systems have been beloved by HiFi enthusiasts since their birth in 1972,” the company said. “However, one problem that direct-drive systems have always faced was sound quality degradation caused by ‘cogging’, or tiny vibrations of the motor and rotational speed fluctuations.”
Sony Electronics PS-HX500
To eliminate cogging, Technics added a coreless direct-drive motor, along with a microprocessor controlled rotary positioning sensor. Other improvements have been made to the tonearm and cabinet construction. The limited edition Grand Class SL-1200GAE will be available this summer, while the Grand Class SL-1200G will be available in late 2016. There was no word on pricing at press time.
Sony Electronics unveiled its PS-HX500 turntable, which enables users to convert music from their records into high-res digital audio files. The new PS-HX500 turntable will be available this spring. Sony did not share pricing information.