describes the business context of what marketing measures
and reports. It parses metrics into three categories that correspond to the types of decisions made at various organizational levels and highlights the links between them. The three categories are:
  • Corporate-level metrics: Used at the highest level of the company to manage company productivity and performance as a whole.
  • Operational-level metrics: Used to manage marketing resources and asset productivity, forecast the performance results of core marketing processes, and diagnose the "red" areas on the quarterly business review (QBR) charts.
  • Execution-level metrics: Root metrics produced by marketing tactics; used to manage and optimize the marketing tactics and to coalesce to produce operational-level metrics.

Managing the Business vs. Managing Programs
Magic happens when marketing executives grasp the critical difference between operational-level metrics and execution-level metrics. Both are critical, but for different reasons. Execution-level metrics measure the results of marketing programs. They are used for optimization (did we increase conversion rates?), for testing (did emails with this color outperform?), and for customer behavior analysis (what offer should come next?).  Execution-level metrics are also those that form the basis for operational-level metrics.

Operational-level metrics map the inner workings of marketing into the language of business. Each major function in a company (finance, marketing, HR, R&D) is a specialty area with its own private language. Converting each function into "business speak" by using metrics ensures that the company executives can collaborate to run the business as a whole.

Making connections between the inner workings of marketing as described by execution-level metrics and the operational metrics needed to run the business is hard. Calculating an operational-level metric requires inputs from multiple execution-level metrics, sometimes as many as 30! However, this mapping is the only way to tie the tactics of marketing to things that matter to the corporation's productivity (profits) and performance (revenue and market share).

Data offers an opportunity for marketing to have a greater impact on the company's goals and therefore greater power within the organization. To realize this opportunity, marketing leaders must invest in the skills, discipline, and tools needed to master data at both the execution level and the operational level.
 
Copyright 2011 IDC. Complete articles may be reposted. Reproduction in part is forbidden unless specifically authorized. All rights reserved. Please contact IDC for information on republishing or web rights.
'>

Which Marketing Metrics Matter?

The ability to measure is a sure sign of a quality organization. As marketing technology permits access more data, the gap between excellent marketing organizations and those deficient will widen — defined, in part, between those that measure well and those that do not.

To have a bigger impact on the business, marketing executives must learn which metrics matter – and to whom.  When marketers get swamped with data, they often report the wrong things to the wrong people. As one CEO told me, “The day I care about how many clicks our Web site gets is the day I lose my job!”

Three Levels of Metrics
IDC’s Hierarchy of Marketing Metrics describes the business context of what marketing measures
and reports. It parses metrics into three categories that correspond to the types of decisions made at various organizational levels and highlights the links between them. The three categories are:

  • Corporate-level metrics: Used at the highest level of the company to manage company productivity and performance as a whole.
  • Operational-level metrics: Used to manage marketing resources and asset productivity, forecast the performance results of core marketing processes, and diagnose the “red” areas on the quarterly business review (QBR) charts.
  • Execution-level metrics: Root metrics produced by marketing tactics; used to manage and optimize the marketing tactics and to coalesce to produce operational-level metrics.

Managing the Business vs. Managing Programs
Magic happens when marketing executives grasp the critical difference between operational-level metrics and execution-level metrics. Both are critical, but for different reasons. Execution-level metrics measure the results of marketing programs. They are used for optimization (did we increase conversion rates?), for testing (did emails with this color outperform?), and for customer behavior analysis (what offer should come next?).  Execution-level metrics are also those that form the basis for operational-level metrics.

Operational-level metrics map the inner workings of marketing into the language of business. Each major function in a company (finance, marketing, HR, R&D) is a specialty area with its own private language. Converting each function into “business speak” by using metrics ensures that the company executives can collaborate to run the business as a whole.

Making connections between the inner workings of marketing as described by execution-level metrics and the operational metrics needed to run the business is hard. Calculating an operational-level metric requires inputs from multiple execution-level metrics, sometimes as many as 30! However, this mapping is the only way to tie the tactics of marketing to things that matter to the corporation’s productivity (profits) and performance (revenue and market share).

Data offers an opportunity for marketing to have a greater impact on the company’s goals and therefore greater power within the organization. To realize this opportunity, marketing leaders must invest in the skills, discipline, and tools needed to master data at both the execution level and the operational level.

 

Next Gen Marketing Teams: From Silos to Systems

Automation has revolutionized marketing. It has brought new insights, capabilities, and methods of engagement. It has demanded new skills, thrust us into the omni-channel universe, and opened new levels of visibility and accountability. But these are all ripples in the pond, so to speak, only the most immediate after effects of a rather large splash down. The most profound change is just beginning to be felt. Automation has introduced the notion of an enterprise customer creation process, a horizontal function that cuts across all marketing activities. Effectively implementing and managing this process requires next generation marketing teams to be much more integrated and coordinated. 
Despite its mystique as a freewheeling, creative and dynamic function, corporate marketing is in reality a deeply fragmented hierarchical organization. Specialists typically function in separate domains moving from project to project with great urgency, rarely having time to consider the big picture. The need to be highly responsive to changes in direction has created a culture adverse to structured workflows. However, as marketing automation solutions consolidate into an enterprise system, a diverse set of marketing roles, process definitions, and data structures are brought together. In response, marketers are beginning to redesign their organizations around workflows instead of activities. Rather than having social, web, advertising, content, partner, analytics, systems admin, etc. in separate organizational buckets, these roles are being reformed into cross functional teams responsible for executing entire campaigns. 
Marketing solutions are starting to be designed around a multi-disciplinary community model. Adobe’s marketing cloud offers a collective view of the campaign workflow for each member of the team and unique workspaces for the various roles in content production, campaign management, analytics, etc. Each member can see what contributions have been made and why. They can communicate in real time on key issues and how they affect the overall process. IDC expects this trend to become pervasive. Providers such as Salesforce.com, Oracle, IBM, SAP, and others are driving their solutions around a vision of the “customer facing ERP” which integrates all customer facing functions in what will most likely be a hybrid cloud for managing customer experience. The implications for organizational design will be significant and CMOs should start instilling the culture of workflow based communities as soon as possible. 

Create and Close Customers up to 40% Faster

IDC’s CMO Advisory has conducted an annual IT Buyer Experience survey for the past six years. We have tracked many changes and interesting trends, but one thing stands out as a consistent inefficiency in the market: every year IT Buyers report the purchase processes can be approximately 40% shorter. Over the course of a 10-month average process that means the potential is to accelerate revenue by an entire quarter. This is a huge opportunity for both buyers and sellers with tremendous financial incentives for both and yet no improvement in six years. Why not and what to do about it?

Buyers put about 2/3 of the blame for this inefficiency on themselves. There are scheduling issues, conflicting agendas, changing budgets, changes in personnel, immature purchase processes, etc. The challenge for vendors therefore is two-fold:

  1. Reduce the inefficiencies that are inherent in their own marketing and sales processes, and
  2. Better facilitate the buyer’s process(es)

Gap between actual and ideal IT purchase processes, 2009-2013

To do this, vendors need to intimately understand the Buyer’s Journey. It starts with Exploration, moves to Evaluation, and ends with a Purchase.  Buyers spend the most amount of time in the Exploration stage, largely independent of direct vendor interaction. As they move through each stage, their agendas change dramatically and the process accelerates. Buyers spend less time in each subsequent stage and have higher expectations of vendor response times. By carefully defining and monitoring buyers’ journeys, marketing and sales can better serve customer needs, keep pace with buyer expectations, and cut out big chucks of inefficiency.

For example, in the Exploration stage, the buyer’s main objective is to establish fit between their business challenges and a solution. The main resources they use are related to trends in their industry. The primary internal influencers are business buyers (functional leaders, business unit mangers, and executives.) Once they enter the evaluation stage, however, their objective and trusted sources change completely.

In our report, IDC CMO Advisory 2013 IT BuyerExperience Survey: Create and Close Customers up to 40% Faster, we outline specific steps IT marketers should take at each stage in order to get the right messages to the right decision makers. For more information, please contact me at gmurray (at) idc (dot) com.

Marketing Must Lead the "Customer Experience" in B2B – Thoughts from #Inbound13

Is all this talk of “Customer Experience” within B2B Tech fluff?
This is the question I asked Hubspot’s two cofounders Darmesh Shah and Brian Halligan after their keynote speech at Hubspot’s annual Inbound Conference. Their answers added to the momentum I have been observing and hearing. Yes, they felt Customer Experience, or whatever your organization names it, is massively important and is here to stay.
At Hubspot their shift to a Customer Experience Company, or an Inbound Company as they call it (for a great detailed overview on this read @thesaleslions recent blog post), is just another signal that providing and mapping a full Customer Experience will be an important part of the future of B2B companies. I believe marketing has an opportunity set the path to success.
Below are some areas I see patterns around “Customer Experience” as it continues grow in B2B Tech:
  • Marketing > Sales > Services: This is a trio that the HubSpot executives spoke about and it’s also something that we have consistently seen from salesforce.com and Marc Benioff. These are the 3 key areas of interaction with the customer and like it or not, one can’t live without the other.
  •  Continued rise of Vice President of Customer Experience and the Chief Customer Officer: My colleague Rich Vancil bloggedon this topic a few weeks ago. The title and role are still undefined, but where I see some patterns is sales, services, and marketing (yes those three again), rolling into one person. This person owns these areas and assures the departments are working seamlessly together. Sometimes product or the channel/partner org reports to this person, but sales, services, and marketing are always present.
  •  Technology is Making the Customer Experience Possible: At IDC we have seen digital everything continue to grow, and on the marketing side, see leading companies aggressively investing in all things digital. The more conversations I have, the more I hear about context, personalization, and data. While these topics are not new, the difference is advanced technologies are now available. These technologies provide the opportunity for companies truly wanting to focus on the full customer experience to be exceptional in execution.   

Why Marketing is in position to be a leader with Customer Experience:

Marketing is the first touch point for each customer, each relationship, and each person a company encounters. With around 50% of the purchasing process complete before a buyer even engages, this leaves a huge opportunity for marketing to set the stage for what will be a long and (mutually) fruitful relationship. Not only is that first touch and experience important, but marketing’s job is also to identify and label each prospect so they are placed in the correct persona.  This ultimately will send prospects down the path that will provide them with the most value and the best customer experience.
Without marketing’s knowledge of the prospect, sales is blind as there would be minimal context and more challenges in providing the best solution for prospects. In turn, even when deals get closed, service teams would be starting at a huge disadvantage with minimal information on the type of account they are now managing.

Marketing sets the expectations for the customer, Marketing provides the playbook for sales and services, Marketing must take the lead in the Customer Experience.


Tyson Roberts is a CMO with a rare background. Tyson, who is CMO of Yesler, the agency division of ProjectLine, an award-winning B2B marketing services company headquartered in Seattle, now works with leading tech companies to develop and implement their content strategies. But earlier in his career, Tyson carried a bag - selling software and services for Avenue A, Razorfish, Check Point Software, and even as the CEO of a start-up he founded he carried the largest quota.  I recently talked to Tyson about how his approach to creating customers has changed.

Tyson, you had some pointed things to say about how ineffective aggressive sales people are today. Yet, you used to be one of these sales people – and a successful one. Tell us about that.
When I was on the start-up sales team at online advertising agency Avenue A (AQNT) in the late 1990's, it was just like GlenGarry GlenRoss. Very simple.  We generated our own leads. Our intern would give us a daily spreadsheet of every internet advertisement placed that day along with a phone number.  We literally called every one. In hindsight, it was terribly inefficient - maybe a 2% contact rate and 10% (0.2% net) meeting rate.  It worked. We grew, but at a cost.

In the sales pit we proudly displayed a “wall of shame” – a collection of letters and emails pleading for an end to our efforts to contact them. Some even contained threats. The expectation was: You earn big money, "bring us heads on sticks or we’ll find someone who can". We couldn’t blame our lack of success on the marketing people or anyone else for that matter.

So, where was marketing in all of this?
Marketing built collateral and ran point on our presence at events like ad:tech.   I recall very little interaction between sales and marketing.  They would get our input and approval on the sales kit, but that was it.  Marketing would also drop hundreds of leads on our head after each event.  We quickly learned to ignore the leads or cherry pick them because so many were unqualified.  Our sales intern got better leads manually surfing the web all day.  It was true that many leads provided by marketing would begin advertising online in the next 6-12 months, but we needed to make this month’s and this quarter’s numbers.

Now you work with marketers to implement and refine modern demand centers. Yet you just said that sales people can't depend on marketing – why have you changed your view?
The "wall of shame" was a foreshadowing of things to come. A lot has changed in the past 15 years.  Tactics that were seen as just aggressive in the 90’s, today come across as unsophisticated, clumsy, and desperate.  At one of our clients, the sales people were constantly complaining about the lack of leads from marketing. We helped produce the first 500 inbound leads they’d seen in years.  Then I learned that the sales team just started dialing every one and asking each to buy! That's like going speed dating and propositioning each person you sit across from.  

Buyers have taken control of the purchase process and are doing a lot more self-directed investigation prior to engaging with sales. If sales people don't recognize and adapt to this, not only will your success rate be dismal, but you’re branding yourself as a genuine tool at the same time.  This is not the way to build rapport, trust, a relationship, or a brand.

What works now?
Companies must provide a quality path from initial interaction to happy customer. All the pieces to build this are available.  In the modern B2B organization marketing owns everything from initial interaction with a lead through to sales readiness.  Sales people focus exclusively on the opportunity pipeline.  This clear separation and definition of duties is a fundamental driver of improved demand economies. 

The cold call should be no part of your demand generation strategy.  You have to switch to an opt-in model.  Leverage an army of content at the front end. Then the sale rep adds spots of personal touch and completes the close.

The old sales business development model is inefficient. You can scale business development more easily and get better results at a lower cost by using modern marketing with its methods, systems, and automation than you can by using sales with its people, personalities, and talents.  You definitely need sales effort – but you need less.

What advice do you have for CMOs facing the challenge of a head of sales that is still "old school"?
The first step to modern B2B demand generation is realizing that your prospects don’t give a rip about your company or its beloved solutions.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that your prospects are narcissistically obsessed with their own company and its challenges and opportunities.  This obsession is the key to being relevant, earning attention, consideration and ultimately business.
Copyright 2011 IDC. Complete articles may be reposted. Reproduction in part is forbidden unless specifically authorized. All rights reserved. Please contact IDC for information on republishing or web rights.
'>

Sales Star Turned CMO Tells All: An Interview with Tyson Roberts of Yesler

Executives who earned their stripes in the pre-internet days sometimes cling to the notion that aggressive sales tactics are still the path to success.  Tyson Roberts doesn’t agree. The former sales star who is now a CMO and content marketing expert, explains why he changed his tune.

Tyson Roberts is a CMO with a rare background. Tyson, who is CMO of Yesler, the agency division of ProjectLine, an award-winning B2B marketing services company headquartered in Seattle, now works with leading tech companies to develop and implement their content strategies. But earlier in his career, Tyson carried a bag – selling software and services for Avenue A, Razorfish, Check Point Software, and even as the CEO of a start-up he founded he carried the largest quota.  I recently talked to Tyson about how his approach to creating customers has changed.

Tyson, you had some pointed things to say about how ineffective aggressive sales people are today. Yet, you used to be one of these sales people – and a successful one. Tell us about that.
When I was on the start-up sales team at online advertising agency Avenue A (AQNT) in the late 1990’s, it was just like GlenGarry GlenRoss. Very simple.  We generated our own leads. Our intern would give us a daily spreadsheet of every internet advertisement placed that day along with a phone number.  We literally called every one. In hindsight, it was terribly inefficient – maybe a 2% contact rate and 10% (0.2% net) meeting rate.  It worked. We grew, but at a cost.

In the sales pit we proudly displayed a “wall of shame” – a collection of letters and emails pleading for an end to our efforts to contact them. Some even contained threats. The expectation was: You earn big money, “bring us heads on sticks or we’ll find someone who can”. We couldn’t blame our lack of success on the marketing people or anyone else for that matter.

So, where was marketing in all of this?
Marketing built collateral and ran point on our presence at events like ad:tech.   I recall very little interaction between sales and marketing.  They would get our input and approval on the sales kit, but that was it.  Marketing would also drop hundreds of leads on our head after each event.  We quickly learned to ignore the leads or cherry pick them because so many were unqualified.  Our sales intern got better leads manually surfing the web all day.  It was true that many leads provided by marketing would begin advertising online in the next 6-12 months, but we needed to make this month’s and this quarter’s numbers.

Now you work with marketers to implement and refine modern demand centers. Yet you just said that sales people can’t depend on marketing – why have you changed your view?
The “wall of shame” was a foreshadowing of things to come. A lot has changed in the past 15 years.  Tactics that were seen as just aggressive in the 90’s, today come across as unsophisticated, clumsy, and desperate.  At one of our clients, the sales people were constantly complaining about the lack of leads from marketing. We helped produce the first 500 inbound leads they’d seen in years.  Then I learned that the sales team just started dialing every one and asking each to buy! That’s like going speed dating and propositioning each person you sit across from.  

Buyers have taken control of the purchase process and are doing a lot more self-directed investigation prior to engaging with sales. If sales people don’t recognize and adapt to this, not only will your success rate be dismal, but you’re branding yourself as a genuine tool at the same time.  This is not the way to build rapport, trust, a relationship, or a brand.

What works now?
Companies must provide a quality path from initial interaction to happy customer. All the pieces to build this are available.  In the modern B2B organization marketing owns everything from initial interaction with a lead through to sales readiness.  Sales people focus exclusively on the opportunity pipeline.  This clear separation and definition of duties is a fundamental driver of improved demand economies. 

The cold call should be no part of your demand generation strategy.  You have to switch to an opt-in model.  Leverage an army of content at the front end. Then the sale rep adds spots of personal touch and completes the close.

The old sales business development model is inefficient. You can scale business development more easily and get better results at a lower cost by using modern marketing with its methods, systems, and automation than you can by using sales with its people, personalities, and talents.  You definitely need sales effort – but you need less.

What advice do you have for CMOs facing the challenge of a head of sales that is still “old school”?
The first step to modern B2B demand generation is realizing that your prospects don’t give a rip about your company or its beloved solutions.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that your prospects are narcissistically obsessed with their own company and its challenges and opportunities.  This obsession is the key to being relevant, earning attention, consideration and ultimately business.

The "Customer Experience" Job Role

A few years ago, IDC opened up a new research area within our “role-based” research area. We sought to understand, and define, and then Advise on an emerging role that we were seeing pop-up within the IT vendor community: The Customer Experience executive.

It was a difficult area to research, as we were not able to get a consistent “fix” on the job description. In some organizations, the Customer Experience executive was the head of product quality. In other organizations, the newly-appointed Customer Experience executive was just a re-titling of the head of customer service. And, there were other, “loose” job descriptions across many vendor organizations.

It has taken some time, but today the Customer Experience role (and mission) is becoming clear. This executive (and team) is charged with serving-up a unified and integrated buying experience for smart shoppers. The experience needs to fully encompass the “omni-channel” environment. The experience needs to *anticipate* the channel traversing that is the reality of the consumer’s movements.

Customer Experience “Worst Practices”, might include these scenarios:

  • The customer is offered a price promotion for an item that is advertised on the web; but the same offer is not acknowledged in the physical retail channel.
  • The customer purchases on-line, but is un-able to return or exchange the item off-line.
  • The customer makes a purchase from a franchised retail channel and then wants to exchange the item at a “corporate” location, but the corporate store (Verizon in this case! This week ! When I was buying a new smart phone!) won’t accept the exchange, and sends the customer back to the franchise.
  • The customer is practicing “Show-rooming” offline, but receives multiple and confusing offers for the exact same product, on-line.

The list could go on. Excellence in customer experience should be defined as offering the customer consistency, rationality, and *anticipatory* interaction capability, regardless of channel.

One ISV that is rising to the task to help this very complex Customer Experience job role, is SAP. Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to SAP CMO Jonathan Becher outline this major, “open” white-space which might be paraphrased as the “Omni-Channel Customer Experience”. SAP (with its hybris acquisition) is doing a nice job of articulating the challenges and opportunities. Actually “fixing” the experience is going to be a challenging combination of executive and team talent; heavy process improvement; plus the help of some very capable tools provider such as SAP.

How you can make 10 dollars per day with google Adsense

If you are reading my post, I think that you want to increase your adsense income $0 to $10 per day. Most beginning bloggers might earn about one dollar a year. When you have several hundred posts and are starting to attract hundred or more visitors every day, you might see as much as ten dollars per month.

But if you have a popular blog, with thousands high ranking search engine posts, and probably at least a thousand visitors each day, it will be able to earn $10 per day with a single blog. That means it’s totally depend on your quality traffic and search engine ranking. Once you learn how to consistently make $10 a day from the Internet you can change your goal to $20 a day and continue to increase your goal until you begin to earn a full-time income working from home.
How To Make $1 Per Day From Adsense:
Your blog requires minimum 100 search engine visits and 250 Page views totally per day to reach one dollars daily.
How To Make $5 Per Day From Adsense:
Your blog requires minimum 1000 search engine visits and 2500 Page views totally per day to reach five dollars daily.
How To Make $10 Per Day From Adsense:
Your blog requires minimum 2000 search engine visits and 5000 Page views totally per day to reach ten dollars daily.
How To Make $20 Per Day From Adsense:
Your blogs requires minimum 4000 search engine visits and 10000 Page views totally per day to reach twenty dollars daily.
How To Make $40 Per Day From Adsense:
Your blog requires minimum 9000 search engine visits and 25000 Page views totally per day to reach fifty dollars daily.
High Paying Adsense Keywords :
If you have high paying keyword and getting good search engine traffic for particular keyword, then may be two or three clicks enough to earn 10 dollars daily. So keywords are very important part for every blog and make money. Remember, if your blog
should high paying keywords. Your each click must bring 1-3 dollars per click, that means  you can earn $ 5 easily per day from 250 Page views.
On the other hand, If you make $10 per day from adsense, create five niche blogs then your aim of making $10 per day can be achieved by making $2 per site everyday.
Get these basic things done right and you will be on your way to making $10 a day from Google AdSense.

SEO Essentials Techniques for 2013

Long gone are the days when all you had to do was link exchange with a handful of highly authoritative sites with the exact key phrase you were targeting, almost like magic there you were sitting pretty on top of the search engines. If you did that now, as in all of your backlinks possessing the same anchor text, your site wouldn’t rank very high and you might even face the possibility of being penalized. Therefore the Offsite SEO of a site should appear as natural as possible with a large variation of anchor text backlinks. This is called Googladapting.
In my opinion SEO consists of Onsite SEO (30% of the overall score) which relates mostly to the site content, code and Meta data and Off-site SEO (70% of the overall score) which is all about the Backlinks and Social Media Promotion. Over recent month’s in order to improve the Offsite SEO of a campaign and ensure high organic rankings, I have come across a list of offsite essentials for 2013 which I will share with you now:

Directory Submission 

Submitting site to online directories has always been and still remains one of the best ways to gain quality backlinks to a website. However personally I think that only the following directories are worth paying for and maybe a few specific ones in each targeted niche: Dmoz (free), Yahoo, Botw, Business, Ezilon, Goguides, Alive, Dir Journal, Skaffe, stpt, Joeant and Hotvsnot.

Social Media:

Google is becoming more and more Social conscious every day that goes by. In order to increase SEO rankings you have to increase the Social numbers and in order to do this, the following actions need to be applied:
  • Facebook, Twitter and Google+1 should be the core platforms focused on.
  • Users / Members should be invited and incentivized to Facebook / tweet about their experience with their site / product.
  • All Fans should be treated like VIP’s. Events, prizes and vouchers should be offered.
  • Fan’s passions (within your niche) need to be explored.
  • The fans need a quick and easy platform to engage and express their desires. Simple /closed questions should be asked.
  • Fans need to be told what to do next. ‘Like this post’, ‘Tell us about your experience’ or ‘Share this with your friends’ result in higher likes, comments and shares.
  • Exclusive access should be given to the fans. They liked / follow a brand mainly to get access to exclusive content, promotions and deals.
  • ‘Fan of the Week’ or Brand Ambassadors should be featured on Social pages
  • Active Invitations to fans for their opinions on relevant topics are needed.
  • Your brand needs to be humanized, people get excited to see a human face behind an institution, a behind the scenes. The fans should see the real people behind the company.

Guest Blog Posting

There is a large collection of blogs that are looking for guest bloggers and that will be more than happy to link to any site that you associate with. This is also a great way to form relationships within the SEO industry and we all know it’s not about what you know but who you know instead.

Link Trades (Via Articles)

Link trades have always been the cornerstone of SEO. Nowadays it’s preferable to trade links embedded deep within articles with anchor text that is related to the topic of the post. A blog on your site is the best way to accomplish this and it will help you boost up the internal pages / links of your site.
In conclusion, social media, directory submission and article links either through guest posts, testimonials or link trades is the way to go for SEO. So if you like the Idea of Googladaption then follow the above 2013 Off-site SEO essentials ladies and gentlemen and watch your rankings soar.

Forum Posting

This method is not only great for SEO but also great for traffic to the site and a real bonding with users. The forums you post on should be related to the topic of your site and you should always be courteous and polite despite whatever negative feedback you may receive. Do not ever have a heated discussion online with any negative users.

Testimonials

Test products, tools and services either related to SEO or your niche and write a review. If it is a positive review send it over to the owner of these products or provider of these services and ask them to put it live on their site along with a link back to your site.

What if you didn’t have to guess?

In decades past, the success of a marketing director depended heavily on his or her ability to predict the future, often times by guessing. Guess well, and you were a success. Guess poorly, and your marketing career was short-lived. Marketers became adept at reading the tea leaves, and depending upon their gut and experience to make educated guesses.

As my friend Rick Lester says, “prayer should not be a marketing strategy.” On this blog, I’ve written several times about the importance of using data to make decisions. Often times companies have years of transactional data that can be invaluable when developing strategy for future campaigns. That said, I’ve somewhat neglected another important tool that I’ve used throughout my career to help guide decision-making – market research. Combined, market research and data analysis form a formidable team. One should not be chosen over the other, but they should be used in tandem, and if done so, the need to guess is almost virtually eliminated.

Data analysis is best used to help inform future operating decisions that closely align with past performance. For example, when rescaling a house, marketers can be relatively certain which seating sections can withstand a price increase by analyzing sales patterns and looking for sections that are in constantly high demand. We can also tell which households are most likely to subscribe and what package and price point to pitch based upon their interactions with us. But what happens when you are faced with the unknown? Over the years at Arena Stage, I’ve been faced with challenges that have very few, if any, precedents. There wasn’t any data to pull from, either internally or from other companies. We were in uncharted waters. And that’s when market research became critical.

Since moving to Washington, DC seven years ago, both at Americans for the Arts and Arena Stage, I’ve depended on the wise counsel of Mark Shugoll, CEO of Shugoll Research.  Throughout the years, Shugoll Research has conducted many studies that have helped inform my decision-making, and below are just a couple of instances where market research was invaluable:

Arena Restaged. In January 2008, Arena Stage moved from its SW DC home into two temporary locations – a theater in the basement of a Marriott in Arlington, VA and the Lincoln Theatre in NW DC on U Street. We would remain in these temporary locations for two years and eight months while the Mead Center for American Theater was built. During that time, we had to minimize patron attrition caused by the move, and work to grow our audience base, as the new building would require a significantly increased patron base. I searched the country for a good precedent to learn from, but not a single one surfaced. Feeling on our own, I turned to Shugoll Research to help map out a strategy. I wanted to know what barriers existed for our patrons in moving to our temporary locations. What would motivate them to stay with us through the construction years? What competitive advantages existed at our temporary locations that were good selling points? How we could make the move less onerous? We tested messaging, sales strategies and tactics. From that, I learned a great many things. I learned that if our patrons got lost on their first trip to our new theaters, they wouldn’t return. I learned that we had to make sure that parking and public transportation was readily available. I learned that dining options were incredibly important. From this, I spent months on signage plans. With the Crystal City Business Improvement District, we installed more than 100 new directional signs within a two mile radius of our temporary theater in Virginia. In coordination with the MidCity Business Association, we aggressively marketed the restaurants on U street and offered valet parking for every performance, as the neighborhood had very few parking options. We sent out personalized websites to each of our subscribers which among other things offered up step-by-step directions from their house to the new theaters. For these efforts, Arena Stage was recognized with the Box Office of the Year Award from INTIX and the Helen Hayes’ Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community. More importantly, we were budgeted to experience 7% attrition during the move and only realized 1.9% – and it all started with market research.

Branding. Forget the high gloss, four color brochures that list your mission statement and vision. We all know that our brands, regardless of what we say, actually live in the minds and hearts of our customers. Over the years, I’ve almost always found a disconnect between what an institution thinks their brand is and what their customers view their brand as being. In 2008, Shugoll Research conducted a series of brand focus groups for Arena Stage. Only two years later, we would be opening the Mead Center for American Theater, so as a new marketing director, I wanted to test the current state of our brand before launching a rebranding campaign repositioning Arena Stage as a national center for American theater. Inside the company, it was clear to most at the time that Arena Stage was a home for American voices, something that Molly Smith had focused on since coming to Arena Stage in 1998. But when tested in focus groups, less than 20% of our subscribers and donors knew that we focused on American voices, and almost none of the single ticket buyers. We had to be much more aggressive in marketing our brand, so we developed a tag line (“Where American Theater Lives”), commissioned a series of spotlight articles on the American voices in each season, developed a new color palette which was a play off of red, white and blue, and eventually put the word “American” in our new logo and name. Two years later, we retested and found that more than 80% of those asked knew our American focus.

Customer Service. As I’ve written about previously, I view customer service as a very valuable competitive advantage. So, how is your organization doing? Beyond diligently tracking and responding to complaints, what are you doing to monitor customer satisfaction? We’ve hired Shugoll Research to develop and deploy customer satisfaction surveys, and benchmark us against peer organizations and ourselves for the past several years. I’m proud to report that we’ve received “industry leader” marks every year since 2008.  But more importantly, each year we learn where we can improve, and we know where we should invest time and resources to improve our customers’ experience. For example, in our first year in the new building, we received exceptionally high marks for our parking lot; we were delighted to see that our parking attendants were routinely going above and beyond to take care of our patrons. And the patrons noticed. That said, some of our elderly patrons reported that it was a challenge to walk up the ramp from the parking garage to the main lobby. So we responded by offering valet parking at the same price as standard parking for those who needed some extra assistance.

Pricing. We spend a lot of time discussing pricing at Arena Stage. As marketers, we want to devise strategies that keep our institutions accessible to our communities all while developing price points that lead to sold-out houses. Get too aggressive with your prices, and your percent paid capacities will drop (hence why the Metropolitan Opera announced that it would be lowering prices next year). But if your prices are too low, then you are leaving money on the table, something that most non-profit arts organizations can’t afford to do in today’s economic climate. So are you charging the right price for the right seat at the right time? To help us navigate pricing, we sought the assistance of TRGArts and Shugoll Research. TRGArts created heat maps, advised us on the rescaling of our halls, and analyzed sales data to determine optimal price points. Shugoll Research conducted focus groups and surveys to determine price elasticity, and to procure feedback from customers. Did our patrons think we were over-priced? would they be willing to pay more for certain dates/times? what could we do to make our pricing more attractive to our patron base? One of the most interesting questions we ask is how satisfied patrons are with the value we provide. Each year we ask the question, our satisfaction ratings on value are in the “industry leader” range indicating that customers perceive that they are getting good value for the money they spend on a ticket. Something every marketing director loves to hear.

The days of reading tea leaves, consulting the gods, and leaping into the unknown are over. A healthy combination of data analysis and market research allow modern day marketers to make informed strategic decisions. I for one am thankful, as I’ve never been particularly lucky when it comes to guessing. In decades past, I know I would have been fired.


Beyond the formula, below are a couple of significant strategic changes we made that made all the difference:

 


Lengthen the Subscription Campaign: Prior to 2009, Arena Stage would announce its season in March and would continue to sell subscriptions until October, providing for an 8 month subscription campaign. These days we begin our subscription campaigns in January and sell through March of the following year, thereby lengthening our campaigns to 15 months.  Avoid delaying the start of your subscription campaign at all costs. Each week you lose will be very costly, and you cannot replace lost weeks.

 


Don’t Forget About Upgrades: When I was taught how to market subscriptions, I learned to break a subscription campaign into two parts: renewals and acquisitions. Today, we have an additional focus on upgrades. Our goal is no longer just to renew our subscribers; we want to upgrade them as well year after year. Primarily we focus on getting subscribers to increase the number of plays on their subscription, but you can also have them upgrade into better seats, add parking to their orders, or increase their annual fund donation. This year we are even experimenting with add-ons for café meals to great success. In FY13, almost ten percent of our subscription base upgraded into larger packages, which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that amounts to roughly $175,000 in additional revenue. On top of which, full season subscribers have a renewal rate 25 percent points higher and give donations that are 4 times larger than partial season subscribers. 

 


Speak to Subscribers Like You Know Who They Are – Because You Do: Gone are the days when you can create one beautiful season brochure that speaks to all of your patrons, and then mail it over and over again until you beat people into submission. Subscription renewals and solicitations should be highly targeted. You know what types of productions each patron likes and on what nights they like to attend. If you sell café meals and parking through your box office, you even know if they like to park and what they like to eat. You know if they are a full price or discount buyer, how many shows they attend a year on average, and how many people are usually in their party. So why are we still wedded to one size fits all solicitations? Our job is to get the right offer in front of the right prospect at the right time. And we have all the data we need to accomplish that.

 


Develop a Sales Pipeline.  Even up to a few years ago, we would mail subscription solicitations to traded lists. Then we started to look closely at our response and tracking reports. Guess what – we found that list trades were not working, not even close. It would have been just as effective to drop season brochures out of a helicopter over the city. And this was considered a “best practice” that every major arts organization in the city bought into. However, we were not measuring efficacy. The failure of these campaigns is easy to understand. In short, we were asking people to marry us before we went on a first date. Most of these targets had never seen a show at Arena Stage. Why would they invest hundreds of dollars when they had never stepped through our front doors? We changed tactics and concentrated our efforts on developing a sales pipeline. We would trade lists for single tickets, primarily to our most popular productions. This in turn would create an influx of new single ticket buyers. Once they had their first experience at Arena Stage, we would send them an offer to return to a second show. Once a patron had seen two or more shows, the likelihood that that would then respond to a subscription solicitation quadrupled. Don’t waste time and money mailing to poor prospects. Instead concentrate your resources on developing more multi-show buying patrons as those will be your best leads in your next subscription campaign.

 


Testing and Failing. The only way to succeed is to fail. The key is to succeed on a grand scale, and fail on a small one. Aggressively measure the success of every campaign, no matter how small. And test something new at least every week. Tactics will change from year to year, and you’ll need to adjust in order to maximize return on investment. As we doubled our subscription revenue over the past four years, we actually started to spend less as we grew more efficient. For example, I like to test new offers in our telesales room. Over the period of a week, we may have three or four offers in the telesales room. By the end of the week, after a thousand or so calls, we usually have a clear winner among the offers tested. That offer is then rolled out in an email solicitation, and if it responds well, then we’ll include the offer in a large direct mail campaign and then test it against the current control package to see if we achieve a better ROI. 

 


If you are currently experiencing less than stellar results on your subscription campaign, before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I’d encourage you to examine each of the variables in the subscription formula above, and then vary your tactics to see if you get better results.  Sometimes it isn’t the model that is dying, it is how we apply the model that is responsible for our underwhelming results. At least it was in our case.
'>