5 Tips for a Fantastic Marketing Conference

I recently attended a marketing conference in Indianapolis, IN called Connections – “Inspire the Future”. The event was put on by ExactTarget, an international email marketing service provider. The event pulled together 4,000 marketing clients and industry thought leaders all learning together. Inspired by how well this event was executed, I thought I’d share 5 tips from what I saw at the conference that in my opinion made it successful.

  1. Tell Success Stories – People love stories and are excited to learn if the content is structured like one. Start off by introducing the problem. Mostly likely your audience is in the same boat. Let them put on their detective hats and walk through how you attempted to solve it. Show them your methods and each step along the way. When you get to the end, leave them with the positive results. It’s helpful to bring in your clients, your partners, and experts. The more stories you tell, the better.
  2. Bring in the Big Dogs – Not every company has the resources to hire famous celebrities, bands, and entertainers to attend their conference. If you can (ExactTarget Connections featured Michael J. Fox, The Fray, and David Blaine) then you’re surely able to excite your attendees. However, if you can’t afford it then you should at least bring in the thought leaders. No matter what your industry, there are people with deep expertise and knowledge. Bring these keynote speakers up on stage to tell their stories. Some of them might come from your company but it is much more powerful if they don’t. Get some big names in there and you’re on your way to a successful event.
  3. Embrace Social Sharing – If you’re going to throw an event or conference then you need to be prepared for people to talk about it online. Embrace the conversations by setting up Twitter hashtags, Facebook pages about the event, or other channels for people to share. Lead the conversation by talking with people online. Let non-attendees participate by following the attendees’ profiles and news feeds. ExactTarget created a “Social Media Lounge” space that automatically posted tagged Tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts.
  4. Make Your Guests Comfortable – The last thing you want people to remember about your conference is that they were hungry, or they didn’t get enough breaks, or they they didn’t have access to water. If you’re going to put on an event then be a good host and go overboard in providing the essentials. ExactTarget connections had hundreds of coffee stands (might be exaggerating but it seemed like it), water bottle towers, snack tables, drink carts, and served food. Go above and beyond expectations with the little things because they really do matter.
  5. Make Your Pitch – Once you’ve got all your attendees excited, educated, and comfortable then you need to give your pitch. Although the event may be about customer appreciation, you have to remember you are a business that needs to make money. Design your conference so they you can close, up-sell, and cross-sell your products. There is no better time to adding extra value to your customers than on the high of a great event!

Have you been to an event lately? What made it stand out?

The History of Marketing [Infographic]

If you’re looking for a quick and easy Marketing 100 class then look no further than this great infographic created by HubSpot and designed by BlueGlass.

Quick summary:

It’s amazing to see how marketing has transformed over the years and even more impressive is the rate in which a single message is distributed instantly to millions or billions of people. Starting with mass printing, the infographic moves you through the different mediums of posters, magazines, newspapers, and billboards. In 1922 radio advertising kicks in, followed a few decades later by television commercials in 1941. With the rise of telephones in most American’s homes, telemarketing becomes a common tactic. New technologies give rise to new means of communications with the personal computers and mobile phones but older mediums such as newspaper advertising still dominates. It’s not until 1990s that television overtakes newspapers as the largest ad spend. SMS messaging on mobile phones gets introduced in 1992 and twenty years later is still at it’s infancy. Internet advertising spikes in 1995-2002 as the dot-com bubble grows. Search engines jump onto the scene in 1995 and 1997. Do you remember AltaVista? Anyone? Search engine optimization (SEO) naturally follows, mostly defined by keyword stuffing and other on-page tweaks.  Google launches in 1998 and launches paid search marketing through Adwords. Blogging comes onto the scene in 1998 just before the bubble bursts in 2000. Email marketing becomes heavily abused by spammers and in 2003 the CAN-SPAM act is passed into law. Social media spreads in 2003 and 2004 with Myspace, LinkedIn, and Facebook. SEO becomes a common key-phrase claimed by every webmaster and developer in 2005 and on. Twitter launches in 2007 and doesn’t stop growing. Email marketing struggles to push through the spam filters and text message marketing begins to take shape. The shift starts to happen from batch blasts to creating valuable content that drives people to your business. Google launches G+ and continues to adjust it’s algorithm in 2011. Mobile, tablets, and hand-held devices are skyrocketing as computer towers and laptops sales drop. E-commerce becomes more personalized and marketers are able to target smarter and faster. According to the infographic online shoppers will reach 184.3 million, up 3.3% from 2011. What do you think will come next?

The History of Marketing

From: HubSpot Marketing Software

Marketing Automation Explained

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, it’s advantageous to manage your customers and prospects in one of the many customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This obviously allows you to match your customers with sales transactions, but more importantly for marketers it allows you the option of layering on a marketing automation system that can deliver targeted messages at the right time without continuous management by additional personnel.

If you’re like many companies, you employ a marketing individual or team to collect your contacts information and execute campaigns in somewhat of a batch and blast situation. You may even be sophisticated enough to break down your list by sales group, product, region, or industry. What you probably don’t do is automatically trigger your selective content to send out when a customer is on your website, when a prospect has downloaded your sales whitepaper, or when the system has identified a customer within their annual buying period.

Marketing automation, what is it?

Marketing automation combines technology, typically hosted, with business processes that score leads based on fixed criteria like title and size of company, as well as dynamic criteria, such as which web pages the person viewed, whether the individual attended a webinar or clicked through to an offer. Ultimately this information allows the marketer to better target messages and promotions to individuals based on their stated and implied interests. That process is generally called “lead nurturing,” which is a popular buzzword in the industry. – Joe Chernov, Eloqua (in an interview with Venturebeat.com)

3 reasons you need marketing automation:

  1. You can “set it and forget it”. Once you do the work up front to create your content and your set of rules, your program will run with little oversight. Your programs will also be able to run outside of your companies work hours. With the expansion of mobile devices and tablets many people continue to work after they get home or into late hours. Turn your marketing into a 24/7 sales generating machine.
  2. You can scale your processes. It’s very demanding to send a personalized “Thank you” note to every one of your customers on the same day they make a sale. This business requirement would require monitoring, notification, editing, proofing, and executing for every item. Automate processes like these and scale the number of touch points, leads generated, and sales routed.
  3. You can eliminate human errors. How many of you have seen those “sorry, our mistake” emails from well-intended marketing teams who mixed up their data or their content? Probably everyone. This type of thing happens all the time because human touches are heavily involved. Errors and mistakes can be eliminated, or at least mitigated, by creating a rigid step-by-step program or process. Do the work up front to build, test, and approve then let the computer do the thinking.

10 best practices that utilize marketing automation:

  1. Contact Registration – Capture your customer or prospect’s information at every chance you get. Offer them something of value in exchange. Can you solve a quick problem of theirs with a whitepaper demonstrating your expertise?
  2. Welcome Email – Trigger and email that expresses gratitude that your customer or prospect has taken the time to interact with your brand. This is a great opportunity to provide additional resources or guide them to your call-to-action. Also, this eliminates the confusion when they get an email from you later and ask “Why am I receiving this?”
  3. Identify Customer Intent – Some marketing automation solutions can integrate with analytics tools so you can see exactly what content they care about. It sounds a bit Big Brother, but your sales team would love to know if one of their top customers just browsed the new product page and downloaded the demo video. Great way to identify a potential easy cross-sell.
  4. Lead Scoring – Not all prospects or customers are the same so they certainly shouldn’t be treated the same. Identify your triggers for contacts with the highest propensity to buy and jump on them first. You only have a limited number of resources in a day so prioritize accordingly. Segment customers by title, location, sales history, advertising referral source, website content browsed, or any other data point that is important to you.
  5. Assign to Sales Representative – Automatically notify one of your sales reps to take action and update your CRM reflecting it. Build rules that remind them via email or text message after a certain number of days of no activity. Create a backup rule in case a sales rep is on vacation or out of the office. A list of 1,000 leads in Excel handed over to a sales team seems like a “job well done” from a marketing perspective, but is overwhelming if you’re the one making the calls. Instead, trickle the leads automatically as they come in. Much more manageable.
  6. Nurture Email – You’re spending all this time and money to get valuable information into your system. Make sure you don’t forget to continuously communicate with them on a regular basis. Send a newsletter, product updates, and thought leadership material on a schedule that your customers feel is appropriate. Measure how effective you are with engagement metrics such as open rate, click thru rate, and additional actions on your website.
  7. Engaged / Unengaged Survey – Segment your audience by how engaged they are with your website, content, and emails. Similar to lead scoring except you’re looking at their actions, not their demographics or company information. Take the time to craft a short survey and get a feel for how you’re doing. Ask them “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” and begin measuring your Net Promoter Score.
  8. Upcoming Renewal Date Email – If you’re a B2B company, you’ll sometimes have annual renewals or a period of time when your customer is evaluating their options. Use this date field as a trigger to get out and front of their questions and concerns. Emphasis your additional value and why they went with you in the first place. This is also a great trigger to ping sales reps or customer relationships managers. You have a mass communication solution, might as well use it for internal messages as well.
  9. SMS Communication – There has been a boom of success stories relating to SMS marketing campaigns. It’s a very personal medium that consumers tend to guard unless they initiate the opt-in. Once you get that opt-in permission however,  you’ll get their full attention as 98% of all SMS are read. This is a great way to get timely and promotional messages directly into your customers hands. Use your marketing automation system to trigger alerts when they’ve reached a certain threshold or when their eligible for a special deal.
  10. Social Media – Not really in the same bucket of a usual marketing automation solutions, but I still put it in the same category because some of it can be automated. Utilize tools such as TwitterFeed.com or Ifttt.comto automatically tweet or share your latest blog post. Although I like to screen who I follow, you can automate following someone that follows you or unfollowing someone that unfollows you on Twitter. Again, I like to make my responses personal but if you don’t have time for it you can automatically thank a person that mentions you.

Have you looked into how marketing automation can help you?

SMS Marketing vs Social Media Marketing [Infographic]

A recent infographic by Mogreet, a leader in mobile video and MMS messaging, stacks up the usage and engagement of SMS & MMS mobile communication against social media’s top players Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. They separate the two into what they call Narrowcast and Broadcast.

Narrowcasting is the sharing of information directly to its intended recipient, thereby breaking through all of the clutter. Broadcasting is the mass public sharing, such as a post or tweet. The infographic supports that you’re not only more likely to reach your audience but they’ll be more apt to respond when you do it. This conclusion is drawn from some very interesting statistics.

What does this mean for marketers?

SMS and MMS are powerful marketing tactics that can get your message directly to your audience and more importantly, they’ll see it. What is the average click rate of your last email? It’s unlikely it was above 15%. If it was, you’re part of the lucky minority. How many people viewed your Facebook page? Yes, you can see that now.  Tweets go by even faster. How many of those get a mention or retweet? According to the infographic, 98% of all SMS and MMS messages are opened. That’s a remarkable percentage and clearly demonstrates how much this medium is valued.

Build a Personal Touch-point with Your Loyal Customers

Recently I was talking with the owner of a small family restaurant in my area. They were experimenting with SMS messaging. At first, it was slow going collecting their customer’s information but after a while of asking nicely, displaying signs, and not abusing those already in the program, they started to get a good base of numbers. The owner has had great success with using this channel in a number of ways. In fact, it has become their primary means of communication that trumps email, social, and traditional advertising.

Here shows how they are using SMS messaging.

  • Timely deals – Restaurants have predictable, and sometimes non-predictable, slow times that sack profit. Instead of making employees go home early, they send out a promotion offering a discount within the next few hours.
  • Upcoming events – If you’re a local business then you know how valuable it is to be involved in the community. They announce where they’ll be and what they’ll be promoting. This is also a great way to include your partners and benefit from each others audiences.
  • Special Announcements – Nobody can predict the future and sometimes weather or other events cause a change in regular business. They use the SMS channel to instantly inform their customers if they are closing early, not open on particular day, or a change in staff.

Below is the infographic titled “Is Bigger Always Better?”

Infographic by Mogreet