Seven Differentiators of Success for Your Strategic Marketing Initiatives (Part I)

In over twenty years of Marketing, I worked on many large cross-functional projects. Multiple CLM, CRM and Marketing Automation implementations; restructuring of a lead program responsible for millions of leads per year; Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction initiatives; Product Line launches; fully Integrated Marketing Campaigns; you get the idea. These projects tend to be critical. With regard to CRM, my friends at Merkle have identified 50% of high growth companies are more likely to see CRM as a key driver of success. In addition these high growth companies are 2.4x more likely than low-growth companies to have built/implemented excellent CRM capability. So successful implementation of these large scale projects can be the difference between high growth companies and low growth companies

It has been my experience that senior leadership in high-growth organizations truly understand the value these these initiatives bring to their organizations. They see them, and treat them, as strategic initiatives, critical to their organization’s success. Those that are less successful treat them more tactically. Which is a shame, because they fail to optimize the investment.

So what differentiates the successes from the failures? Why do large CRM implementations only meet CIO/CTO expectations half the time, according to Gartner, or only succeed about a third of the time according to Merkle? Why are so many disappointed by Marketing Automation, CLM, CE and other projects requiring a solid foundation in marketing technology?

Large cross-functional strategic initiatives often led by Marketing (e.g.- CLM, CE, CRM, Marketing Automation) lack:

  1. Executive buy-in and C-level commitment. There needs to be a champion (usually the CMO) supporting these initiatives at the senior level, with the champion’s peers in agreement on the key objectives and deliverables. The objectives of the initiative needs to align with corporate strategy as well. Everyone must agree that this initiative gets their support, and that roadblocks will be dealt with quickly and easily. Since these projects often require IT resources, the CMO needs to partner with the CIO/CTO. The CIO/CTO needs to champion the project within her organization. Each impacted senior leader needs to be actively engaged during discussion at the C-level, commit the resources, communicate down through their organization, empower their internal champion, and hold their team accountable for achieving initiative goals and objectives. Probably the single biggest predictor of success, in my experience.
  2. Management bandwidth. With executive buy-in comes the need for executive leaders to ensure there is management bandwidth. It is not prudent to simply add a large initiative to the plate of your manager or director without taking another commitment off their plate, either by reallocating other projects they own or are involved with, or potentially delaying implementation of other projects. You can only roll one giant boulder up a hill at a time successfully, add more and you risk more than one crashing down on the innocent bystanders below.
  3. Benefit realization. The project champion and project team need to define success. Identify the benefits a major initiative will bring to your organization. Work with your financial team to quantify the benefits. Communicate, and continually communicate the benefits across your organization. Show them the benefits, and then show them again. You can never overcommunicate. And then measure against those benefits so you can manage your progress. Have respected champions in your organization validate the benefits and offer testimonials as proof the benefits are real. Underperforming? Then figure out where you need to make adjustments. Overperforming, then check your initial forecasts to make sure they are real; see how else you can apply the initiative to amplify success further, or bring in the necessary resources or create the environment to make gains sustainable. And don’t forget to communicate when you overperform (did I mention communication is important?). Celebrate successes when you meet your objectives or KPIs.
  4. Process knowledge. Do you have good processes in place? If you have good process, and its well-documented, then you will have an easier time building your detailed requirements and matching to the technology which will best enable your process. Or, if the technology supports a different process, then you will have a better understanding of how your process needs to change to accommodate the technology. May or may not be worth the investment, but you can do the analysis (or I could help). Or similarly you can think about how to customize the technology solution to fit your process, and do that cost-benefit analysis to determine if the gains are worth the investment. Again, its all about taking a more strategic approach to your initiative.

These are just a few keys that apply to successful implementation. In the next post, I will touch on the impact of poor needs assessment, data availability and failing to plan/build a roadmap.

As always, I welcome your comments below. And if you want to talk to me about your strategic initiative in Marketing strategy, operations and technology, contact me at smintz@tds.net.

5 Considerations to Growing Your Welcome Program Revenue

As a Marketer, you are always looking to engage your customers and grow revenue and retention. You have many touch points and channels to leverage. One of the first actions your customers will undertake with you is to subscribe to your email list. They may be at the top of the funnel, considering making a purchase and doing some research. They may be aware of your brand and consider it a viable option to meet their needs. Or they may already be a customer, having purchased via an offline channel.

1) Before you begin, be sure to outline the goals and objectives of your Welcome Program. Are you looking to drive first purchase? Are you trying to obtain more information so that you can better segment and service your customers?

2) Based on your goals and objectives, be sure you can measure your results appropriately to know if you have succeeded. Too many companies move straight to implementation without thinking about how they will measure results. This is particularly important when it comes to measuring results by segment or as part of testing. It makes implementing more challenging and time-consuming if you have to go back to change your implementation to incorporate a last minute need for reporting/analysis that you could have included in your requirements up-front with some forethought.

3) Consider how you will be segmenting your Welcome Campaign. Do you wish to treat large potential customers different from smaller ones? Are you effectively segmenting prospective customers from existing customers? Do you have other large segments of customers that might fit into a Welcome Campaign, like recently reactivated subscribers?

You may wish to segregate your new subscribers from the rest of your email program until they have worked though the Welcome progression. Of course, the wise Marketer will test different approaches, applying the best approach and constantly retesting against different approaches.

4) Do not make process a secondary consideration. Make sure you have process nailed down. The key is to get that first email into your customer’s inbox as quickly as possible from the initial sign-up. You want to reinforce the customer’s decision to subscribe to your program, and get them used to seeing email from you. Do you need to send this email from the same IP address as your other campaigns, or should you bundle this as part of a transactional IP? If you have a lot of volume from new subscribers, sending from the same IP address as your other campaigns can help to improve overall IP address deliverability as engagement with Welcome campaigns tends to be significantly higher than other non-triggered campaigns. However, if you already have deliverability issues on a regular basis, then sending from a transactional IP is a better way to go to ensure these messages get into your subscribers inboxes. Talk to your email service provider to select the best option for your program.

Another overlooked process component is the “From” and subject line. Please do not use a name of someone the average person would not recognize in the “From” line. Maybe Microsoft could get away with a “From” name of “Bill Gates” or the Cleveland Cavaliers with “LeBron James” (and believe me, the celebrity should have widespread international recognition and not be just the owners or Marketing-VPs own perception of themselves); instead use the name of the brand that the subscriber is seeking to learn more about, like “Banana Republic” or “Toyota Prius.” You can even add a modifier like “eNews” or “Information” or “Offers”, depending upon the Segment or type of content that is being sought. Bottom line, make it appropriate and descriptive.

As for the subject line, keep it short and sweet and include the brand name. Repetition of the brand in the subject line and From lines is good and helps your brand stand out in the inbox for those readers who scan both. Some readers will be From line dominant and others subject line dominant, so by repeating the brand in both, you have a better chance of standing out with either segment. Include some variant of Welcome in the subject line tied to your brand, like “Welcome from Banana Republic”. And if you are tying an offer to the subscription, then include a mention in the subject line. Just be careful of those marketing words that may cause an ISP to consider your email SPAM. You should always test into your most beneficial subject lines at the onset of the campaign, and continue to test variants over time.

5) Provide value added content. Some Welcome Campaigns could be multi-part, providing valuable information about how to order, tips regarding

You can provide special benefits to your email subscribers as an inducement to sign up. These special or gated offers can increase revenue from new subscribers by as much as 3X, while also increasing the speed at which your email subscription list books its first revenue for your company. In addition you can communicate the many ways your customer can interact with your brand and gain the most value out of their relationship with you. Typically a Welcome program will drive greater engagement too, helping the deliverability of all your emails with ISPs.

A Welcome Campaign is a beneficial component to any Customer Lifecycle Management Program, helping you to generate revenue and keep your customers engaged. Let me know in the comment section your thoughts and successes/learnings with regards to your Welcome Program, or others you have seen.

3 Technology Tools You Need to Build a Successful Customer Lifecycle Marketing Program

I attended a conference earlier this week and interacted with many smart Marketers, each doing some wonderful things and accomplishing a great deal. However, everyone seemed to be having the same challenges and asking similar questions. I came away thinking that the following three platforms could provide the base for any Marketer to be successful in building out their CLM Program. Please add your comments as I am interested in your thoughts on this topic.

1. CRM (Customer Relationship Management). CRM should be the base for most any CLM program. A robust CRM program consists of good process and an enabling technology. At its heart, CRM should integrate data from your key systems, including contact, transaction, behavioral and service data, to name a few. Use it to make improvements to your lead generation, cross-sell, up-sell and retention programs by leveraging its ability to track what is happening in your sales pipeline. Build segmentation schemes and make them available in your CRM system.

CRM tools are very powerful, so it is in your best interest to carefully understand your processes, define your CRM strategy and the business needs. Failure to define effectively up front leads to failure upon implementation. At minimum, if you understand your processes, build a rock solid strategy and support it with detailed business requirements, you can find the technology that meets your needs and set yourself up for success. And make sure you involve your users in building requirements and the decision-making process.

Look for tools with the following characteristics:

  • Out-of-the-Box functionality is robust enough to meet most of your needs;
  • Customizable- good functionality out-of-the-box is needed, it is likely not everything will work as required, so you should be able to make some adjustments periodically;
  • Configuration is simple and robust, meeting your needs;
  • Integrates easily with the systems that will be feeding it data;
  • Scalable- it can meet your volume needs now and accommodate reasonable growth for many years into the future (these are not systems you want to RFP every few years). Additionally upgrades can be accomplished on a regular basis (annually or every other year) without too much pain;
  • User interface that is easy enough for your power users to accomplish complex tasks but not going to limit user adoption for front line customer service or sales users.

2. MA (Marketing Automation). MA enables you to provide automated sequences that support a sales process. These could be welcome, cart or browse abandonment, renewal, replenishment or bounce back campaigns. Built alongside your CRM system, MA becomes an even more powerful tool as it can make your messages more personalized and relevant by taking advantage of segmentation, behaviors, transactions, etc.

Email is a popular tool to leverage with MA platforms, but you can easily deliver messages to/via websites, apps, SMS, POS, contact centers, social media, etc. A good system will allow leads to be captured, scored, segmented, and added to your CRM.  You should also be able to map out your workflow and manage your leads. You can even manage campaigns within the tool. Many of the same requirements outlined in CRM above also apply for MA tools.

3. BI (Business Intelligence). BI is a tool that enables Marketers to easily analyze data and make the most informed business decisions, often in real-time or near real time. Analytics from BI can drive your programs, helping you to not only identify your successes and failures, but also optimize program performance. Look at how different segments are performing in your welcome program, for instance, and test the offer for a particular segment or test a different cadence or workflow. They key is looking at the data to develop a hypothesis and then test it. A BI tool can be instrumental in building segmentation, online media purchasing, and countless other applications.

Again many of the same characteristics from MA and CRM above will apply. You may also wish to look for tools with the following features:

  • Query Tools:  ability to build queries using a GUI or via SQL to get at the specific information you need to answer a question;
  • Reporting: Often in conjunction with the query tool, you should be able to build reports that can be run either on a schedule or on demand, and delivered to a specific audience to view the information they require to manage their business;
  • Data Visualization Tools: A graphical representation of data allowing you to see data relationships within a single or multiple data sets, usually includes, charts and graphs, allowing you to build dashboards and/or scorecards.
  • Alerts: Building on the above, BI can help you to set up a series of notifications that will trigger when BI detects certain programmable conditions. A good way to establish the quality of your data or drive action when certain business conditions are experienced.
  • Data Mining: Enables you to identify trends in your data sets by poking around in your data. I have often encouraged my analysts and strategists to form some hypothesis and then poke around in the “sandbox of data” to prove or disprove it, or find some nuggets that could lead to testing down the road.

Of course, it is hard to stop at three, but other helpful technology tools could include a Content Management System (CMS) and a Testing and Optimization platform (think Optimizely). If you really wish to blow your mind about all the possibilities, check out Scott Brinker’s supergraphic at http://chiefmartec.com/2015/01/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2015/?utm_content=11147422&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin -it is one of my favorite pages on the web (OK, I am a geek!).

These tools will help you to get the most bang for your buck from your Customer Lifecycle Marketing program. If you invest in any of these, let me know how it goes.