Tom’s Insights:

The importance of making an exceptional first impression with the customer:

  • The marketing pendulum has swung from staying ahead of the competition to staying on top of customers’ needs and building relationships.
  • It’s incredibly important to create that great first impression then build on it. After you have that solid foundation, when problems do arise it’s much easier to address them and you have that transparency because the relationship has already been forged.

What makes a good first impression?

  • Make the effort to ‘over service’ from the beginning. Starting out with superior service, a customer experience manager who makes sure the customer needs are met outside of technical help. (Demandbase is an example of a technology provider who does this well.)
  • Do not wait to bring out the superior service, the white glove treatment.  If problems do arise feline it’s much easier to address them and have transparency because the relationship has already been forged. If this isn’t done, it makes your customers question “Why haven’t I been receiving this level of service all along?” It’s potentially one of the reasons I’m leaving! It seems simple, but many organizations are not yet set up this way.

Marketers today have to be data-centric, technically proficient and also creative:

  • What we do as marketers today has transformed into something that’s much more sophisticated.  We need to understand the customers’ goals, meet them at the right point, at the right time, with the right message is extremely valuable – but also very difficult to do.
  • We have to be data-centric, technically proficient and also creative. All of these must work together to make sure we’re hitting the right people at the right time with the right message in the right way. And on the right network. So,  the data provides us insights on the buying signals of our customers. Being technically proficient allows us to work with marketing automation tools, CRM systems, and social networks and connect the dots. The creative piece is how we use all these tools in our arsenal to reach the right customer with the right message at the right time.

What metrics are you looking at to inform success or failure from program or campaign?

  • Attract – Inbound referrals from social networks, organic traffic, and also how people are being attracted to third party networks for our content (like TechTarget). We need to answer the question, How are people are finding us?
  • Engage – We want to see what pieces of content are engaging and leading to conversions. When you couple this with the organic piece of how people are finding us, you gain an understanding of which content should be promoted more to get it in front of more eyeballs.  And then by the way we segment, we can pivot this by the stage of the buyers journey that the piece of the content is targeted to. So we can see how it’s working, and if it is moving people from one stage to the next.
  • Conversion: Our conversion metrics, since we’re B2B, are around driving marketing qualified leads and how our MQLs are converting to closed deals. So we follow a Sirius Decisions model of tracking leads to closed revenue. We monitor and improve on this religiously through perpetual optimization programs.

To get more complete data, extend the reach of your content beyond your own walls:

  • In your own marketing and CRM systems you have a very limited view. You typically only know the individual who raised their hand. But the buying process is not taking place in one spot. There are other people out there who have not yet identified themselves to you directly. We need to reach out beyond our own digital walls to other content distribution networks, who can provide data to help fill in more information on account activity. One example of this is TechTarget.
  • With this aggregated data, we can then weave together a more holistic view of an account. There are multiple people going through the buying process with different roles and it’s important to make sure you understand their needs and are able to reach each of them.

Optimize the connections between your centers of excellence:

  • In a large enterprise, you might have many centers of excellence: social, search, optimization, digital marketing, content, and inbound marketing. And they mostly work well, independently. Where the focus needs to be, is on optimizing the connections between our centers of excellence.
  • We need to reach a point where search informs social, and social informs search, both inform optimization and nurturing, and help with customer focus and customer programs. We all talk about it but I’d challenge how much this is actually happening. Everyone does a great job in the individual centers of excellence, but optimizing the digital connections between each group is critical for success.

What’s on the Roadmap for 2014:

  • Responsive Design:  We don’t get to decide what device our customers use, they do – this is true for all forms of content. There is no point in creating content if it’s not going to provide a great user experience when it is consumed. So improve the customer relationship and user experience, start here.
  • Optimization should scale broadly: At Iron Mountain (and most B2B organizations) we put a LOT of emphasis on optimizing for prospects and customers pre-sale through landing pages, etc. In 2014 we should all try to broaden this to a larger testing pool incorporating all touch points in the customer lifecycle. Customer support touch points, the customer on-boarding process. Optimization should scale broadly across the organization to give the best customer experience and thereby improve our success.