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Part 3 of The Incrementality Battle: The Right Technology
The Right Digital Customer Experience for B2B ABM
B2B marketers are facing digital acceleration and significant pressure to determine how they can shift more of their marketing tactics to online media. For many B2B marketers, this shift has to accommodate an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy: a specified list of accounts that serves as the central target audience in order to create more personalized experiences. At its most effective, an ABM strategy can improve B2B marketing efficiency by capturing the leads with highest value and intent, thereby shortening the B2B sales cycle and exploding media ROI.
So what does the most effective ABM strategy look like? For starters, it requires lock-step alignment between marketing and sales to close the loop on qualified leads. Below, we’ll dive into the steps of one essential component to this collaboration: the right digital customer experience for your target audience.
Customer Experience Strategies for Your Target Audience
Mapping the Customer Journey
For acquisition-focused B2B companies especially, the customer journey to conversion through owned media is a key consideration for business growth. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the journey we want a client to take? Is there one primary conversion point where you want to direct users? If there are multiple, are you accurately and equitably tracking the conversion metrics between those points?
- Where are we strong? Through an audit of your customer’s journey, you may find that certain content pages on your site are more likely to inspire users to click to a conversion page, or users from a specific referral source have higher propensity to convert. Understanding your strengths presents an opportunity to scale that strategy out for more conversions.
- Where are we weak? Similarly, understanding where your site experiences the most significant dropoff in traffic can help you engineer new page paths to correct that deficiency.
- How do we align this to our target audiences? One immediate check you can take on pages and sources with low conversion rates is confirming that your messaging above the fold is speaking directly to the needs of your target audience. Why should your audience choose you? Oftentimes, the most compelling way to answer that question is by first showing you understand the audience’s need. Make that connection with your users in a clear way for a great first impression.
Reducing Friction in the Customer Journey
In addition to communicating your value proposition and understanding your customer’s journey, you need to apply a technical focus to the conversion rate and potential bottlenecks in your brand’s website experience. Optimizing for a data-driven journey flow can propel media spend from merely a supporting growth factor to a leading driver of growth.
Secondly, though many marketers see digital as a separate group, budget, and initiative, those of our clients who are best-positioned for growth simply do not see business that way. We need to ensure the role of digital media is aligned within the larger customer-facing marketing effort. This is done by conducting a symphony of effective marketing engagements driving clients on a compelling and effective path to conversion. Without this alignment, poor customer experience and disjointed efforts will result in wasted media spend and worse: lost potential revenue. Digital can be a leader here by providing the data on your clients’ and prospects’ behaviors, as well as key demand information from channels such as search, which can help reveal prospect intent.
Let Rise help you drive record-breaking business results. In 2020, our B2B expertise brought hockey stick performance improvements to a leading B2B manufacturer. To learn more how a Rise partnership can benefit your brand, reach out to us.
Google’s Core Algorithm Update
Google announced that it began rolling out a core algorithm update on December 3rd, and was completed on December 16th.
Google made an announcement about its third core algorithm update of 2020, as core updates “typically produce some widely notable effects,” aimed at presenting the most relevant and authoritative content to searchers; Google did not offer guidance on which categories or content types will be impacted by this update. It follows the May 2020 Core Algorithm update that hit many categories across the web, most notably: Travel, Real Estate, Health, Finance, Pets & Animals, and People & Society.
What is the impact of this update?
1. The social December update was much larger than the disruptive May Core Algorithm update, with greater volatility in rankings for top 3 and top 10 search results.
2. While core updates typically impact two or three specific categories, this update has affected rankings and traffic across a wider range of categories, most notably: health, real estate, law & government, travel, and finance.
3. Google continues to emphasize the prioritization of pages and sites by their content and E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness), or page quality..
4. Many sites that were hit from the May Core Algorithm update have seen improvements from the December update.
How does this update affect you?
This update impacts keyword rankings and visibility across Google SERPs, which can result in a change in the amount of organic traffic driven to your website.
While categories with the highest volatility in rankings (health, real estate, law & government, etc.) will be most impacted by this update, it is likely that websites across a wider variety of categories will also see changes in rankings and traffic.
What to consider moving forward
Continue to monitor changes in keyword rankings and traffic across your website. If you observe a negative shift in rankings or traffic, it is important to assess the quality of content across your website by asking these questions:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topics?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Please note this update is not the same update as the Page Experience update; the Page Experience update will roll out in May 2021.
Please reach out to Rise to learn how to best create, manage, and optimize the content across your website to maximize organic visibility following this update.
What Will 2021 Bring Digital Marketers?
Every year at this time, Rise publishes digital media predictions from our leaders to help prepare readers for the year ahead in marketing. In January 2020, we predicted advances in the cookieless world, cross-channel sophistication, and… definitely not a pandemic.
VIDEO | Driving Growth Through B2B Digital Marketing
At Rise, we understand B2B brands are constantly focused on delivering relevant experiences to customers and allocating budgets appropriately. As a full-service digital marketing agency, our Interactive Investment Management (IIM) approach and Connex®, our proprietary media optimization platform, are keys to ensuring our clients are investing every dollar in the most impactful way.
In the video below, Howard Diamond (Chief Strategy Officer) explains how Rise’s approach to B2B digital media drives remarkable growth for clients.
Rise can help you drive a better outcome for your media investments. Reach out to learn how to implement the best strategies and technology for your business.
Why I’d Rather Make Money Than Always be Right
Late Night with Larry: Volume 5
A lot of people would rather be right than make money.
For me, it's the other way around. Because if I'm always right, then I'm probably not taking enough risk. And risk is what it takes to grow a business and hit ambitious goals in the long run. From spending on new technology to making sizable investments on the best and brightest talent to implementing a bold ad campaign to acquiring another company, meaningful growth (and the ability to scale) requires it.
But the difference between success and failure hinges on whether or not the risk is calculated with the right inputs. The best leaders do their homework so that they’re making informed decisions. This is true at any time, but 2020 -- with all of its uncertainty -- reinforced just how important it is to take the appropriate amount of risk in order to survive and thrive.
As we look to 2021, I am sharing the four most important lessons I’ve learned about smart risk taking. These are the things marketing leaders need to know -- and subscribe to -- in order to take risks, especially ones that could have major implications on your organization’s financial wellbeing.
1. Be OK with losing in the short-term.
Sometimes, the results of a risk take time to materialize. The best marketers practice patience, giving their ideas and actions time to breathe -- and become profitable. Leaders must recognize that trial and error is an important part of the process.
At Rise, it’s our job to help brands understand that marketing tactics must be tested so you can learn what is resonating with your audience and what isn’t. Having a strong level of conviction and comfort in knowing that not all bets will pan out applies to risk taking more broadly. Contrary to popular belief, you should constantly be experimenting with new and different platforms. Only then can you identify the next area of opportunity. If you panic because you’re not seeing early returns and pull the plug before the results of your new strategy can become statistically significant, then you may lose out on something that can have real impact.
I coach my team to define milestones or checkpoints when they will evaluate success prior to testing a new idea. These milestones may be based on a length of time, an amount of spend, or a volume of results captured.
2. Back your decisions by math.
In order to assess if a marketing risk is worth taking, CMOs and other decision-makers can and should crunch the numbers to estimate the probability of success and the potential impact of testing new ideas. CMOs have access to more measurable data points than ever before and have the capacity to make decisions based on actual performance metrics rather than instincts or impulses. Digital marketing, of course, is a large contributor to the variety and depth of available data. Having this information at your fingertips means marketers can be smarter about predicting the impact of a successful risk and the trade-offs for ideas that may not work.
What’s more, when you’ve implemented a tactic that is experiencing high levels of engagement and ROI, you can cite this data to make a strong case for scaling up -- and investing more money in something that yields real results. It is also important to remember that risk taking and testing should be a dedicated portion of your ongoing budget, and trying new ideas should complement -- rather than replace -- your proven core strategy. In reality, not all test investments will generate a return. The math still works because over time the upside you will see from your handful of winners will outweigh the cost of the losers.
3. Be savvy with how you get buy-in from stakeholders.
Your marketing program is only as strong as the people behind it. It’s critical to have conversations with your Board or C-suite upfront to ensure they are on board and in support of your planned course of action. Approach the conversation with powerful data, as mentioned above, that defends your position and compels people to listen. It is important to articulate the risk-to-return ratio to prove that the risk is worth taking. This may sound obvious, but I have seen smart marketers overlook this step. Investing $100 in a new idea that is projected to make $101 is very different than risking $100 to make $1,000. If leadership isn’t comfortable with the risk -- or, even worse, doesn’t agree with it -- they’re more likely to 1) pressure you to perform faster and 2) abandon the risk prematurely, before it has the chance to pay off. Conversely, by earning trust and having the tough conversations early on, you’ll empower yourself to deliver on your promise.
4. Become an early mover.
Believe it or not, many years ago at Rise we had a conversation about whether or not we should form a social media practice. At that time, the monetization roadmap of social platforms was less clear. We invested in building a team anyway. The rest, as they say, is history. The point is: There’s an advantage for those who recognize market trends and make a bold move before others. With the right bets, that early move can be the difference between hockey stick organizational growth and stagnation.
More recently, we saw this opportunity when Amazon was in the very early stages of building an advertising capability. We had a strong sense based on consumer behavior trends that Amazon Advertising had the potential to be huge. We took a bet to launch a pilot program and ran campaigns for our first clients at steep discounts to prove out the channel. The impact of that risk on our organization’s growth has been enormous.
As I’ve said, not every early move you make will have a financial windfall. Listen to the market and keep a pulse on trends. Shifts in consumer behavior are some of the best harbingers of what’s to come for marketers. 2020 has made that abundantly clear. At Rise, there are a lot of nascent platforms and tech that have us excited: programmatic Out-of-Home ads, stories and full-screen video on almost all social channels, Twitter’s release of Fleets, and the growth of video-making social app Triller -- just to name a few.
While some may consider risk-taking to be irresponsible -- or in my experience, lack the stomach for it -- in reality it is a necessary component of innovation and upward mobility. Without it, businesses would never evolve; they would continue to accept the status quo and stay stagnant. Recognizing that risk is healthy and that being wrong sometimes is okay, marketers should continue to push the envelope -- and make calculated moves in order to stand out in a digital marketplace that’s becoming more and more crowded.
Let’s keep talking. I’d like to hear about your digital marketing efforts: What are you trying, and how is it panning out? How do you decide what to move forward with -- and what to put on the back burner? Message me so we can keep the conversation going.
How We Did It: Redesigning a B2B Digital Identity (Our Own!)
Part 2 of The Incrementality Battle: Regression Analysis
As I discussed in Part 1 of our Incrementality Playbook, creating a model to help drive investment decisions is a great first step. There is a need for marketers to understand where the most efficient next dollar is spent, but more importantly, whether that conversion was truly incremental or would have happened regardless.
Once you have the model in place, the next piece is to take a more mathematically robust step: understanding diminishing returns to allow for even better budget allocation decisions. It is important to note that Part 1 and Part 2 are not mutually exclusive—we can leverage an incrementality model in conjunction with a regression model to understand how our last dollars invested are performing.
Part 2: Regression Analysis
“Regression analysis is the hydrogen bomb of the statistics arsenal.” - Charles Wheelan
The mere mention of regression analysis usually sends a large portion of the population running for the hills, but it is a powerful tool in our toolkit. To make this analysis more digestible, below are some useful tips:
- Run a regression for each tactic separately: Branded search, Non-branded search, Competitive campaigns in search, Facebook/Instagram Prospecting, Facebook/Instagram Remarketing, Programmatic Prospecting, Programmatic Remarketing, Affiliate, etc.
- We have found that, in most cases, forcing a best fit line through 0 at the Y intercept is optimal (see more in the charts below).
- Build and test multiple models for each channel and tactic. Select the models with the best fit to the data.
- Don’t forget to take into account seasonality, trend, and differing spend levels across all channels, or other factors that impacted performance. Remove seasonality, normalize data, or adjust the time period analyzed if needed.
- Identify and remove outliers or noise (e.g., periods of testing).
- Last click attribution, while not ideal, is ok as a starting point! You won’t have a deduplicated total cost to acquire an incremental conversion, but the insights will still allow you to make better cross-channel investment decisions in short order.
For those of you a little further along on your journey, you can work to incorporate a data-driven attribution model as your source of truth for a more unified view of the value of each channel. There are still limitations, especially when dealing with the lack of view-through data from Facebook/Instagram, but a data-driven attribution model will give you a baseline to measure success against as you test and scale.
By bringing Part 1 and Part 2 of the playbook together, marketers are able to better allocate their marketing spend to the tactics which are truly having an impact on their bottom line and bringing in revenue that is incremental to the business.
If you’re interested in learning how to do this for your company, reach out to Rise.
The Right Media Optimization Framework for Your B2B ABM Strategy
B2B marketers are facing digital acceleration and are now faced with the critical decision of how they can shift more of their marketing tactics to online media. For many B2B marketers, this shift has to accommodate an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy, a specified list of accounts that serves as the central target audience in order to create more personalized experiences. At its most effective, ABM strategies can improve B2B marketing efficiency by capturing the leads with highest value and intent, thereby shortening the B2B sales cycle and growing media ROI.
So what does the most effective ABM strategy look like? For starters, it requires lock-step alignment between marketing and sales to close the loop on qualified leads. Below, we’ll dive into the steps of one essential component to this collaboration: the right media optimization framework.
The Right Media Optimization Framework
There is an art and science to delivering a strong, relevant customer experience. The art is setting up the right ads within the right media strategy targeting the right audience. The science is making sure you’re using data to tell you if the experience and journey a potential customer went on was good enough to make them convert. Being data-driven and having the right framework in place allows you to feel confident that your artful decisions are supported.
To establish this data-driven framework, your campaign measurement should be aligned to the goals you have set for business growth. Remember that customer experience continues through the web, into further engagements of research, and of course, their experience through both the marketing and sales funnels, all of which need a place in your plan. Establishing a framework that enables both efficiency in spend and efficiency in return is crucial, however, supporting metrics of engagement and experience will yield improvement opportunities through the larger digital experience. Let the data inform you on what is working and be agile to shift strategies to those tactics that are performing well.
Alignment to your CRM is the key. The impact of closed-loop on your marketing efforts through the sales funnel enables you to map efficiency and targeting directly to the dollars that produce closed business instead of solely relying on marketing metrics. This creates a full cycle of optimization, to impact, to conversion, and back to optimization.
Having a media optimization platform that can scale your optimization strategy is what brings all of this strategy to fruition. Connex is Rise’s media optimization platform that enables granular performance optimization aligned to our client’s business goals. Connex was born from the DNA of Rise’s industry-leading cross-channel Interactive Investment Management philosophy: an agile approach to digital media that operates with your bottom line in mind.
Want to learn more about the power of a B2B measurement framework? Reach out to Rise.
3 unique advantages of digital marketing for B2B organizations
Late Night with Larry: Volume 4
“Does digital marketing really work for business-to-business organizations?”
This is a question I’ve been asked many times by business leaders and decision-makers who aren’t convinced that digital marketing investments can move the needle for their organizations. Sometimes this uncertainty stems from unsuccessful past attempts to reach their target customers digitally, and other times it’s based more on feeling than fact.
Regardless of the reason, my answer is always the same: When it comes to B2B marketing, every company -- no matter its industry, size, goals, or budget -- needs to establish a digital presence immediately and prioritize its digital marketing strategy and capabilities going forward. The organizations that hesitate to embrace the digital marketing movement, as well as the slow adopters, will eventually get left behind.
The data backs this up. Gartner research found that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend the bulk of that time researching independently online. The amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6%. Having quality information readily available via digital channels is critical if sellers want to influence customer decisions.
B2B companies that want to fuel organic growth and out-perform the competition need to get serious about digital marketing. But, like any investment, having the right strategy is critical to realizing a return on your efforts. Here are three unique advantages of digital advertising that B2B marketers should consider for a flourishing digital marketing program in 2021 and beyond.
1. Develop a hyper-focused audience strategy
A unique benefit of digital marketing is the ability for B2B marketers to talk directly to a specific target audience at scale and be strategic about how and when you reach them. Businesses have many opportunities to create meaningful and authentic connections by pairing sophisticated targeting with audience-specific content. For upselling existing customers, your CRM database can fuel segmented messaging using search and display advertising to show specific customer groups the benefits of services they aren’t currently leveraging. LinkedIn is a powerful resource for serving ads based on a specific account list or industry verticals. You can show ads or sponsor content in publications that influence your customers. The use cases are endless.
By segmenting your audiences and creating a messaging strategy for each one, your company can tailor content so it resonates with each respective group -- and be intentional about the timing and frequency of messages. This granularity is the future of digital marketing. And, for brands that invest the time to create granular strategies that address the specific pain points of different audiences, there is a real opportunity to differentiate from the competition. (For more on how we’re helping clients do this, check out my recent article here.)
2. Track performance and prove ROI
With the robust measurement capabilities available through digital advertising, marketers can test the efficacy of every tactic and continually improve. This is hugely beneficial for B2B CMOs and marketing leaders needing to justify a strategy or make the case for a larger budget to, for example, try a new approach or spend on better technology. The digital landscape affords B2B marketers the opportunity to learn quickly and fail fast. If you see high levels of engagement with one campaign or certain tactics performing better than others, you can shift your focus (and dollars) to drive those efforts and pull back from others. For example, you can measure how messaging across different business lines resonates with customers by looking at ad engagement, website usage, and lead generation; you can then use these insights to inform other marketing efforts.
At Rise, we’ve learned that to truly leverage analytics and use them to their fullest potential, companies have to take it one step further and do the math. In addition to looking at new leads, opportunities, and conversions, the ultimate goal should be calculating customer lifetime value, so that you’re able to predict the net profit attributed to the entire relationship with a customer. If you know the cost of acquiring a new lead and connect it to CRM data and subsequent marketing efforts, your business can use more sophisticated goals based on the expected lifetime value of each lead or opportunity. This level of analysis also informs what types of customers you should be targeting with your marketing.
3. Scale quickly and easily in a virtual world
COVID-19 has certainly changed our normal way of doing things. Face-to-face interactions and in-person events are few and far between -- and likely won’t resume for some time. Until a vaccine becomes widely available, we’ll need to continue finding creative ways to maintain socially-distanced relationships with current customers and attain new ones.
With digital marketing, B2B organizations can reach specific audiences with highly relevant messaging at scale. This blend of reach and relevance is very difficult to replicate with traditional marketing channels. This scale allows you to be where your customers are at a frequency and cadence that keeps you top of mind. Each digital channel has a different responsibility within the buying funnel, so businesses have the ability to pick and choose which tactics and assets to use based on what you’re trying to accomplish at each level. In other words, by taking an omni-channel approach to digital marketing, your company can use multiple tactics and multiple channels to reach multiple personas at the same time.
Historically, B2B marketing has taken a back seat to its B2C counterpart, with smaller media budgets and less attention paid to strategic planning. But, as the digital marketplace expands, we’re seeing a dramatic spike in the number of companies prioritizing their efforts to reach and start conversations with business customers just as they would a consumer. For the first time, as companies are realizing the benefits of investing in dynamic and full-throttle marketing to reach business prospects, B2B marketing has a seat at the table. No longer throwing darts to see what sticks, digital marketing has ushered in a new era where organizations of all types can take a directed approach and generate real returns. It’s money well spent.
I’d love to hear from you -- tell me what you’re doing in the B2B marketing space. Send me a message so we can continue the discussion.
Call Tracking Q&A with Ashmita Chatterjee
For Rise, strategic partnerships are more than just an investment. Along with our clients, our partners drive us to keep innovating and excelling at what we do. One of them is Invoca. Their Call Intelligence Platform provides great insights to understand the role of calls in marketing campaigns which have helped drive customer acquisition and retention strategies.
After partnering with them for 5 years, we can proudly say that winning the Partner Collaboration Award only proves how determined we are to keep integrating the latest technologies with our services for better overall results.
And back in 2016, we were recognized with the Invoca 'Call on me Award', a recognition for top implementers and service providers of call analytics solutions. One of the leaders behind this achievement was Ashmita Chatterjee, our Vice President of Account Management responsible for guiding our talented analytics team. Read on to find out from her how this story started and what we expect to see next for call tracking.
How did this partnership start?
Prior to moving to Rise’s Account Management team, I was the Director of Analytics. Back in 2015, we had just begun our relationship with a few healthcare clients including Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and were setting up sophisticated measurement frameworks for their paid media for the complex healthcare industry.
We’ve all been in a position where we need to call a hospital or doctor’s office to make an appointment; some circumstances make a detailed online form submission increasingly difficult, and there’s a duty to provide appointment access to everyone.
From a business standpoint, however, we ran into questions about the customer journey and close loop tracking. If a user clicks through a Search ad, navigates to a Contact form, and then calls to complete their inquiry/appointment, how do we track that back to media spend? We’re dealing with a crucial digital media question here: where is your media performance streamlining the call-to-conversion process for users?
I led the vendor selection process and was consistently impressed with Invoca. At Rise, a core value of our work is being an accountable extension of our client’s team, and that was the immediate impression I got from Invoca’s team. Not only did they have the sophistication we were looking for in a call tracking partner (third party integrations, data granularity at scale, voice of customer), they were taking our clients’ missions as seriously as we do. That made my decision easy.
How did this partnership change our work?
At that time, the industry wasn’t seeing this level of sophistication in call intelligence. Data was in silos and media impact was often relegated to upper funnel metrics. Few brands had their own call tracking vendor, but it was becoming a cost center rather than a solution, and the opportunity to synchronize call data with digital media was forcing marketers out of necessary budget.
Simply, call tracking data was all over the place—not actionable nor scalable.
We worked with Invoca on an agency contract where the economies of scale allowed us to pass on saved costs. Rise’s customer-centric approach was made possible by Invoca through customized solutions for each client’s unique business needs, allowing us to integrate call data with client CRMs for closed-loop reporting.
We worked closely together with the client's needs in the center not wanting to push any other agenda. The collaboration focused on innovation and problem solving. We became experts with this service but also solved real business problems for our clients. We did a couple of webinars focused on real examples of solving measurement bottlenecks with Call Tracking. We also won the Invoca 'Call on me Award' - also known as the 'Top Industry Thought Leaders' award, based on our leading partnership with them.
This partnership brought conversion data back to focus and empowered Rise marketers and lead gen clients to make data-driven decisions about media spend with the entire journey in mind. Even clients with multi-location data could accurately, and granularly, track those touchpoints.
But now all of this is just table stakes, which is actually really exciting for the industry.
So what’s next for call tracking?
Conversation analytics. I have been a proponent of Voice of the Customer for almost a decade. Conversation analytics is the pull approach to VOC, compared to the survey style which is more of a push approach. It’s all data waiting for the sophisticated infrastructure that can tap into it. Listening to thousands of hours of conversation for feedback just isn’t scalable.
Invoca is really leading the charge in this space with their Signal AI product, and marketers can expect to see more automated intelligence developed for this purpose. Signal paired with Rise’s agile team promises some really exciting business opportunities. Think about granular customer service call data reported automatically with thousands of data points, alerting you to an uptick in shipping delays mentioned by customers (for example). Within minutes, you can have that data back to your fulfillment team to improve the customer experience. At scale, improving your customer experience and reducing these types of calls will inherently improve CPA as more digital media spend can be allocated to the calls driving business results.
Get one of the best teams to help you achieve growth by identifying risks and opportunities on time. Invoca’s technology paired with Connex provides automated optimization that will make the understanding of your data much easier. Contact Rise and learn more about this partnership and how we can work together to keep driving your business forward.
Video | Amazon Advertising Strategies
When Rise presented at the Digiday Amazon Strategies virtual forum, we wanted to speak directly to the savvy marketers feeling the uphill battle of deciding which products should receive your precious marketing dollars. Our take: with the right strategy, it’s an easy climb.
In the recorded session below, Shafique Niazi (Director, Marketplaces at Rise) and Cate Weyers (Director, Account Management at Rise) present “Scaling Your Business on Amazon with a Best Seller Rank Strategy”. Learn how to unlock high-volume revenue from our experts with the coveted Best Seller Rank.
Reach out to Rise to learn how we can help you reprioritize your Amazon strategy for explosive growth.