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4 qualities of an intent-driven marketing automation email program 4 qualities of an intent-driven email marketing automation program

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4 qualities of an intent-driven marketing automation email program 4 qualities of an intent-driven email marketing automation program

Two recent studies measured ROI for social media versus email, and they appear to contradict each other. One said social media was first and email second for ROI, and the other said the opposite. Who’s right?

I don’t know. But I know it’s the wrong question because email and social media don’t play the same roles. Much of the difference comes down to capturing, measuring and acting on intent. Social media is about growing relationships, while email cultivates and persuades prospects to act.  

For a B2C company, email still has priority when looking at attribution numbers. But in all of my years in B2B, whether as a marketer, an agency person, a consultant or a fractional CMO, people have considered email an important channel but have overlooked its true potential for fulfilling company goals. 

The perspective has been this: “We have this marketing automation platform. We’re going to build a few automations and then go on to something really challenging.”

I don’t mean to minimize how B2B companies use email, but I see plenty of room for us to expand our use of marketing automation and email to move our companies forward. That’s where intent comes in.

Intent makes the difference

As an email marketer, everything you do, especially in B2B, is about cultivating and recognizing intent. When you shift your email perspective from “I have to sell more stuff” to “I have to grow intent,” that changes how you approach email all the way through the sales process. 

Prospects go on your website in smaller numbers to look at your products or services. You have to determine whether they’re serious before you invest time and money in phone contacts, the discovery process, putting together a proposal and going through the rigorous request-for-proposal process. 

Across the board, email is a lead-generation tool. Its primary purpose is to qualify the reader to go to the website and convert, whether you want a macro conversion (requesting a sales contact), a micro-conversion (downloading a white paper or registering for a webinar) or a full conversion (purchase or renewal). 

When we focus on intent, we see email’s uses and value differently. 

Many factors influence intent. A Forrester WAVE matrix of leading vendors is one. Being featured in influential industry publications is another. So are the customer’s previous or potential use, thought leadership from company experts, conference participation and personal contacts and helpfulness through industry associations and companies. 

Just as many factors influence intent, customers themselves can signal intent in subtle and obvious ways. That’s why companies should invest in an email marketing automation program that can recognize and act on them.

These are my four “must-have” qualities for an intent-driven B2B marketing automation program:

1. Complex automations

It begins with knowing your customer journey, beginning with the prospect stage and moving through the sales process all the way to “closed won.” The complexity is immense. That’s why you need automation tools designed expressly for B2B needs.

As an email marketer in B2B, you might think you don’t need to understand your company’s unique sales funnel. You’re wrong. You need to know every pipeline stage from the sales side. 

That’s because every pipeline stage marks an intent point. Ask yourself, “How can I recognize this stage and get the prospect to move on to the next?”

One way is to develop automations that use your target market, your sales team’s approach and your best-customer profile recognizing signals from each stage. These look at decision points such as where people click on your website, whether they’re new or returning visitors, present or past customers and where they go on your website.

Consider the complexity factor if you’re thinking about buying or signing on with a marketing automation platform. It must address every sales stage and allow you to build complex automations that lead prospects to the next stage while helping you learn and grow from the previous stage.

2. Silent periods

As marketers, we’re not accustomed to being told to be quiet unless we have a harebrained idea. Our job is to be loud (appropriately so, of course). But many sales cycles have times when we need to be quiet, stop sending emails and leave the work up to the sales team.  

You can understand and build in those silent periods when you look deeply into each stage of your sales funnel. When you work with your sales team to understand the conversations between sales and prospects in each context, you’ll learn when an email message could end up competing with what salespeople are talking about. 

You’ll also learn when a quiet period goes on too long. If sales hasn’t heard from qualified prospects after a defined time, you can use email automation to reactivate them. 

B2B reactivation is different from its B2C counterpart as a communication strategy. In B2B, reactivation is a middle-of-life move, not end-of-life. If a prospect goes quiet, your marketing automation can recognize that from your CRM platform and then trigger re-engagement. Work with your sales team to develop a unified messaging system for this stage.

3. Precise metrics

Your marketing automation reports must be extensive and comprehensive. You won’t get an accurate picture of your performance if you rely on aggregate reporting. 

That can work for B2C marketers, who can lump in all the detailed reporting for an entire program, like a welcome, onboarding or purchase series, into an aggregate success rate.

But the complexity I spoke about earlier in your B2B automations demands a comprehensive look at each stage. You must review each email in that stage to measure its success. How many prospects did it push through to the next stage? How many went on to “closed, won” or “closed, lost?”

Your KPIs must account for that complexity because you need to look at each segment or target vertical throughout your process. You’re also looking at how your marketing automations performed at each step and how they were tagged by source, vertical, intent, dollar amount, and other factors.

If you rely on aggregate reporting, optimize your reporting for detailed reviews at every stage and how they ladder up to the sales funnel and actions. 

The key to this is working closely with your sales team. The idea that sales and marketing should be independent is a myth. To be effective, they need to be joined at the hip. Yes, they have different processes and motivations, but the relationship should be more symbiotic, needing connection and coordination.

Talk regularly with your sales team and understand how they do things and the information they need and collect, which brings me to my final point.

Read next: RevOps teams struggle with integration and alignment

4. CRM agility

You should know every inch of your sales team’s CRM system. What information do they gather? What can you ask your sales team to enter to help you make better decisions on email automations?

Salespeople want to know sales things. Marketing people want to know marketing things. In the middle are intelligence and cooperation. Salespeople can add data into the CRM that informs your automations and lead the team to know if a lead is “closed, won” or “closed, lost.” But marketers have to be careful to ask only for important and appropriate information.

The source of all your information is on the sales side because that’s where all the action is. 

Know how your sales team enters information and what they collect at each stage. Figure out how you can take that data to use in your triggered messages. 

But don’t ask for too much data during the discovery or sales process, or for data you won’t use in your automations or measure success.


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Wrapping up

Let’s go back to those studies that pit social media against email. Some people love social media more than email. Others see more success with email. Does it really matter?

Studies love to pit marketing channels against each other. But when they don’t have the same function, that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Social media and email serve different purposes, but each should complement the other in your marketing strategy.

Email has been the primary channel for both B2B and B2C marketers for years because it works. It’s the only channel where you can mess up and still make money. But you make more money when you do it right.

We marketers must become more sophisticated in using email to make more revenue and hit more goals. Take an honest look at your marketing automation program. Is it linear or flat? Does it truly align with your sales process? Does it let you work in partnership with your sales team?

If your automations are not complex, 2022 is the year to start working on that. You don’t have to renovate them from top to bottom all at once. Use incremental innovation, in which you begin by making a small, important change and then build on it. Add a different string to your marketing automations every month. By the end of the year, you’ll look back to see a more robust program. 


Everything you need to know about email marketing deliverability that your customers want and that inboxes won’t block. Get MarTech’s Email Marketing Periodic Table.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed här.


About The Author

As the co-founder of RPEOrigin.com, Ryan Phelan’s two decades of global marketing leadership has resulted in innovative strategies for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. His experience and history in digital marketing have shaped his perspective on creating innovative orchestrations of data, technology and customer activation for Adestra, Acxiom, Responsys, Sears & Kmart, BlueHornet and infoUSA. Working with peers to advance digital marketing and mentoring young marketers and entrepreneurs are two of Ryan’s passions. Ryan is the Chairman Emeritus of the Email Experience Council Advisory Board and a member of numerous business community groups. He is also an in-demand keynote speaker and thought leader on digital marketing.


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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

Now that we’ve officially settled into the new year, it’s important to reiterate that among the most effective ways to promote your business are Google Ads. Not only do Google Ads increase your brand visibility, but they also make it easier for you to sell your services and products while generating more traffic to your website.

The thing about Google Ads, though, is that setting up (and running) a Google Ads campaign isn’t easy – in fact, it’s pretty beginner-unfriendly and time-consuming. And yet, statistically speaking, no platform does what Google Ads can do when it comes to audience engagement and outreach. Therefore, it will be beneficial to learn about and adopt some smart bidding strategies that can help you get the most out of your Google Ads.

To that end, let’s check out a few different bidding strategies you can put behind your Google Ads campaigns, how these strategies can maximize the results of your Google Ads, and the biggest benefits of each strategy.

Smart bidding in Google Ads: what does it mean, anyway?

Before we cover the bidding strategies that can get the most out of your Google Ads, let’s define what smart bidding means. Basically, it lets Google Ads optimize your bids for you. That doesn’t mean that Google replaces you when you leverage smart bidding, but it does let you free up time otherwise spent on keeping track of the when, how, and how much when bidding on keywords.

The bidding market is simply too big – and changing too rapidly – for any one person to keep constant tabs on it. There are more than 5.5 billion searches that Google handles every day, and most of those searches are subject to behind-the-scenes auctions that determine which ads display based on certain searches, all in a particular order.

That’s where smart bidding strategies come in: they’re a type of automated bidding strategy to generate more conversions and bring in more money, increasing your profits and cash flow. Smart bidding is your way of letting Google Ads know what your goals are (a greater number of conversions, a goal cost per conversion, more revenue, or a better ROAS), after which Google checks what it’s got on file for your current conversion data and then applies that data to the signals it gets from its auctions.

Types of smart bidding strategies

Now that you know what smart bidding in Google Ads is and why it’s important, let’s cover the best smart bidding strategies you can use to your advantage.

Maximize your conversions

The goal of this strategy is pretty straightforward: maximize your conversions and get the most out of your budget’s allocation toward said conversions. Your conversions, be they a form submission, a customer transaction, or a simple phone call, are something valuable that you want to track and, of course, maximize.

The bottom line here is simply generating the greatest possible number of conversions for your budget. This strategy can potentially become costly, so remember to keep an eye on your cost-per-click and how well your spending is staying inside your budget.

If you want to be extra vigilant about keeping conversion costs in a comfy range, you can define a CPA goal for your maximize conversions strategy (assuming you’ve got this feature available).

Target cost per acquisition

The purpose behind this strategy is to meet or surpass your cost-per-acquisition objective that’s tied to your daily budget. When it comes to this strategy, it’s important to determine what your cost-per-acquisition goal is for the strategy you’re pursuing.

In most cases, your target cost per acquisition goal will be similar to the 30-day average you’ve set for your Google Ads campaign. Even if this isn’t going to be your end-all-be-all CPA goal, you’ll want to use this as a starting point.

You’ll have lots of success by simply leveraging target cost per acquisition on a campaign-by-campaign basis, but you can take this one step further by creating a single tCPA bid strategy that you share between every single one of your campaigns. This makes the most sense when running campaigns with identical CPA objectives. That’s because you’ll be engaging with a bidding strategy that’s fortified with a lot of aggregate data from which Google’s algorithm can draw, subsequently endowing all of your campaigns with some much-needed experience.

Maximize clicks

As its name implies, this strategy centers around ad optimization to gain as many clicks as possible based on your budget. We recommend using the maximize clicks strategy if you’re trying to drive more traffic to your website. The best part? Getting this strategy off the ground is about as easy as it gets.

All you need to do to get started with maximizing clicks is settle on a maximum cost-per-click that you then earmark. Once that’s done, you can decide how much money you want to shell out every time you pay for a bid. You don’t actually even need to specify an amount per bid since Google will modify your bids for you to maximize your clicks automatically.

Picture this: you’ve got a website you’re running and want to drive more traffic to it. You decide to set your maximum bid per click at $2.5. Google looks at your ad, adjusts it to $3, and automatically starts driving more clicks per ad (and more traffic to your site), all without ever going over the budget you set for your Google Ads campaign.

Slutsats

If you’ve been using manual bidding until now, you probably can’t help but admit that you spend way too much time wrangling with it. There are plenty of other things you’d rather be – and should be – spending your time on. Plus, bids change so quickly that trying to keep up with them manually isn’t even worth it anymore.

Thankfully, you’ve now got a better grasp on automated and smart bidding after having read through this article, and you’re aware of some important options you have when it comes to strategies for automated bidding. Now’s a good time to explore even more Google Ads bidding strategies and see which ones make the most sense when it comes to your unique and long-term business objectives. Settle on a strategy and then give it a whirl – you’ll only know whether a strategy is right for you after you’ve tested it time and time again. Good luck!

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

The world survived the first three months of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

But what are marketers doing now? Did your brand follow the shift Dennis Shiao made for his personal brand? As he recently shared, he switched his primary platform from Twitter to LinkedIn after the 2022 ownership change. (He still uses Twitter but posts less frequently.)

Are those brands that altered their strategy after the new ownership maintaining that plan? What impact do Twitter’s service changes (think Twitter Blue subscriptions) have?

We took those questions to the marketing community. No big surprise? Most still use Twitter. But from there, their responses vary from doing nothing to moving away from the platform.

Lowest points

At the beginning of the Elon era, more than 500 big-name advertisers stopped buying from the platform. Some (like Amazon and Apple) resumed their buys before the end of 2022. Brand accounts’ organic activity seems similar.

In November, Emplifi research found a 26% dip in organic posting behavior by U.S. and Canadian brands the week following a significant spike in the negative sentiment of an Elon tweet. But that drop in posting wasn’t a one-time thing.

Kyle Wong, chief strategy officer at Emplifi, shares a longer analysis of well-known fast-food brands. When comparing December 2021 to December 2022 activity, the brands posted 74% less, and December was the least active month of 2022.

Fast-food brands posted 74% less on @Twitter in December 2022 than they did in December 2021, according to @emplifi_io analysis via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

When Emplifi analyzed brand accounts across industries (2,330 from U.S. and Canada and 6,991 elsewhere in the world), their weekly Twitter activity also fell to low points in November and December. But by the end of the year, their activity was inching up.

“While the percentage of brands posting weekly is on the rise once again, the number is still lower than the consistent posting seen in earlier months,” Kyle says.

Quiet-quitting Twitter

Lacey Reichwald, marketing manager at Aha Media Group, says the company has been quiet-quitting Twitter for two months, simply monitoring and posting the occasional link. “It seems like the turmoil has settled down, but the overall impact of Twitter for brands has not recovered,” she says.

@ahamediagroup quietly quit @Twitter for two months and saw their follower count go up, says Lacey Reichwald via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

She points to their firm’s experience as a potential explanation. Though they haven’t been posting, their follower count has gone up, and many of those new follower accounts don’t seem relevant to their topic or botty. At the same time, Aha Media saw engagement and follows from active accounts in the customer segment drop.

Blue bonus

One change at Twitter has piqued some brands’ interest in the platform, says Dan Gray, CEO of Vendry, a platform for helping companies find agency partners to help them scale.

“Now that getting a blue checkmark is as easy as paying a monthly fee, brands are seeing this as an opportunity to build thought leadership quickly,” he says.

Though it remains to be seen if that strategy is viable in the long term, some companies, particularly those in the SaaS and tech space, are reallocating resources to energize their previously dormant accounts.

Automatic verification for @TwitterBlue subscribers led some brands to renew their interest in the platform, says Dan Gray of Vendry via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

These reenergized accounts also are seeing an increase in followers, though Dan says it’s difficult to tell if it’s an effect of the blue checkmark or their renewed emphasis on content. “Engagement is definitely up, and clients and agencies have both noted the algorithm seems to be favoring their content more,” he says.

New horizon

Faizan Fahim, marketing manager at Breeze, is focused on the future. They’re producing videos for small screens as part of their Twitter strategy. “We are guessing soon Elon Musk is going to turn Twitter into TikTok/YouTube to create more buzz,” he says. “We would get the first moving advantage in our niche.”

He’s not the only one who thinks video is Twitter’s next bet. Bradley Thompson, director of marketing at DigiHype Media and marketing professor at Conestoga College, thinks video content will be the next big thing. Until then, text remains king.

“The approach is the same, which is a focus on creating and sharing high-quality content relevant to the industry,” Bradley says. “Until Twitter comes out with drastically new features, then marketing and managing brands on Twitter will remain the same.

James Coulter, digital marketing director at Sole Strategies, says, “Twitter definitely still has a space in the game. The question is can they keep it, or will they be phased out in favor of a more reliable platform.”

Interestingly given the thoughts of Faizan and Bradley, James sees businesses turning to video as they limit their reliance on Twitter and diversify their social media platforms. They are now willing to invest in the resource-intensive format given the exploding popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short-form video content.

“We’ve seen a really big push on getting vendors to help curate video content with the help of staff. Requesting so much media requires building a new (sociala media) infrastructure, but once the expectations and deliverables are in place, it quickly becomes engrained in the weekly workflow,” James says.

What now

“We are waiting to see what happens before making any strong decisions,” says Baruch Labunski, CEO at Rank Secure. But they aren’t sitting idly by. “We’ve moved a lot of our social media efforts to other platforms while some of these things iron themselves out.”

What is your brand doing with Twitter? Are you stepping up, stepping out, or standing still? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Prenumerera till arbetsdags- eller veckomail från CMI.

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Omslagsbild av Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

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