All posts by Paula Pollock

Marketing Data Tracking for Dummies

Tracking Marketing DataMarketers are often trained and highly encouraged to measure everything. A few years back this may have been true because we were not measuring enough – or anything in some cases.

Today, most companies are getting better at measuring their productivity if for no other reason than there are so many marketing channels. The mantra of, “your customer can be anywhere, so your message needs to be everywhere,” has changed.

To be cost efficient, measuring channel results is the first step in becoming a data-driven marketer – a title we should all aspire to become.

Measuring Intangibles

How do you measure reach or impact? These seem extremely vague, yet they are quantifiable.

E.g. You attend a conference and have a booth. How many new prospects stopped at your booth? How many talked with you for a few minutes? How many requested a demo or a meeting? Those are easily sorted into: Prospect, MQL and SQL.

Capturing Data

In person prospects pose the problem of getting their contact data into your database and marketing tools. In the old days, tech savvy salespeople had business card readers which were essentially mini-scanners that haphazardly entered the contact’s information into the CRM. Usually, it grabbed all sorts of data and still required a lot of editing.

Today, we have badge scanners and iPad apps that work with your systems. The manual processes have been eliminated…here. How do you measure reach or impact? These seem extremely vague, yet they are quantifiable.


Field Management

You probably have heard of Data Hygiene. It’s the marketing data analyst’s version of your mom yelling at you to, “Get your shoes out of the middle of the hallway before someone trips and breaks an ankle.”  I’m a mom of a teenager, so I’ve been known to say that at least once a week.

The data equivalent of not picking up the shoes is when your data goes into a system but doesn’t get attributed to the correct lead generation activity.

You need to follow that lead through your systems and make sure it picks up it’s shoes! Find the disconnected fields and fix them. This could be as easy as mapping one system to another or it may require editing the field conventions that were originally set up in your CRM.

Quantify It

You cannot measure the impact of the event on that lead without it having a value. This can be linked to average product cost, deal size or sales can further qualify it.

A process needs to be in place so each lead has a value placed on it as early as possible in your sales cycle. These values can change over time, using lead scoring and further qualification, but having the data in early is very important.

Garbage In, Garbage Out?

Not exactly. The data going in is not where the garbage is created. If it’s honestly a lead you generated or classified properly as a list or cold prospecting attempt, then its fine.

The garbage is often created when the digital thread isn’t continuous. When the lead enters your very first system, it needs to carry on through all your measurement systems.

Take time to keep the digital thread from getting knotted and your data hygiene will only suffer when humans deviate from the parameters set.

Why Account Based Marketing Is Critical in 2016

runway modelsModels – Models – Everywhere!

Calm down, boys. This isn’t the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show website. But, now that I have your attention…the term “model” is tossed around a lot.  There are models everywhere in our businesses.

Like the runway super-models, some can be divas to work with. Or in business terms – challenging to apply to your use case. Regardless of their difficulty, if you are a B2B company of ANY size with or without salespeople, you need models to focus your marketing and revenue generation.

B2B Buyer’s Journey

When I’m getting coffee around the Bay Area, I am tickled when in my eaves-dropping (oh, you do it too) I hear two people discussing the buyer’s journey who are not marketers.

How can I tell? It’s the Bay Area. We could build an island with all the STEM professionals roaming around here.

This was not the case merely two years ago. It was all about UX as it related to the product.

The buyer’s journey differs in it is where we use psychology to think through the who, what, where, when, how and why our target accounts will consider our product.

Enter the Account Based Marketing Model

With social media ebbing and flowing, video streaming becoming the norm, mobile conversions growing exponentially, its easy to get hypnotized by Channel Based Marketing Models.

goose laying golden revenue eggWe are getting much better at measuring channel attribution and ROI, but it lends itself to channel bias. This happens when we present data to the executive team and they only see the top-line results and assume that the top-performing channel is the goose laying the golden revenue eggs.

When you consider your target as a whole, you potentially miss the important elements of influencers in the sales cycle.

Buying Decision Logic

When is the last time that a big decision at work was made by a single person? Unless you are a one person shop, never would be my guess.

The more critical, expensive or number of people it affects, the larger the committee you need to convince. Your message needs to connect to each individual on the path they are on.

Meet Their Expectations

At each stage of their journey, you need to match your content and more importantly – keywords – to their expectations. Where a researcher might need high level bullets, the influencers will want a little more.

Plan to provide content and interactions that provide solutions in an easy and digestible format.

This sounds very simple, but it’s amazing how few companies plan, test and adjust their account based marketing campaigns for the long-term. It takes patience, persistence and regular analysis.

Automate Your Lead Generation Without Investing in Marketing Automation…yet

cupcakes desserts“Which marketing automation solution should I use for lead generation?”

I get this question regularly.  Trying to evaluate all the solutions available today is nearly impossible when you have no idea how you will use this information later.

There are outstanding solutions available today, all having excellent tools to make your marketing campaigns convert, nurture and report data.  But sometimes baby steps are the best method to saving money, time and giving your company the opportunity to learn it’s ability to manage the many facets of a successful marketing campaign with the available resources. These are recommendations that are in use today at some very large firms. Don’t snub your nose at the simple solutions yet.

Below are recommendations that are in use today at some very large firms. Don’t snub your nose at the simple solutions yet.

Build Your Foundation
The first element of any digital marketing campaign is the website. The size of your business doesn’t matter and you don’t need a big fancy site either. As long as you have a decent place for prospects to learn about your business and the solutions you offer online that is on a responsive (mobile-friendly) template, you should fare just fine.

As long as you have a decent place for prospects to learn about your business and the solutions you offer online that is on a responsive (mobile-friendly) template, you should fare just fine.

Conversion Bait
Next, you need to consider your offer. What is it your prospects want that you can provide in exchange for their email address?

conversion baitIt may be information in the form of a report or guide, it might be weekly information that comes to their inbox, a webinar teaching something important or a consultation – though, these are are better received  later in the buying cycle.

Capturing Their Information
This used to require a landing page or a boring Contact Us page with a form. Instead, I recommend starting with one (or more) of the simple free solutions available.

There are many available: HelloBar, LeadIn, QuickTapSurvey and more. These are free information capture apps.

You can build a pop-up in minutes with the information you want from your prospect and load it onto most sites.

Storing Your Data
You do not need a massive database, yet. You only need a place to maintain and manage your lists.

MailChimp does this well for email intensive campaigns and APIs easily with other software. It is one of the best, free email delivery systems around and has numerous upgrades as the complexity of your campaigns and data needs grow.

Create a list based on your offer. E.g. “Video Marketing Report Conversions”  Start with a good naming convention from the beginning as these can get messy fast. You can also jump into CRM with

You can also jump into CRM with Zurmo or Zoho before you go nuts with Salesforce. If you have no choice, plan all your use cases before paying for Salesforce. Their 90-day free support will zip by fast!

automate your marketingAutomate Everything Possible
Once a prospect converts, you want to automatically send them their prize. Set this up in most automation sections of your email delivery system.

But don’t stop there! Add more emails to this series to continue the conversation.

Let’s say you offer them a report on the benefits of using video in their marketing. There are probably elements you didn’t have enough time to go into deeply.

These emails are the extra value. You can use them to convey more of your company’s knowledge and authority in the field and help the prospect as well.

Keep sending more information regularly along with low barrier to entry offers for other free stuff – reports, webinars, consultations.

When to Migrate
If you are working campaigns well, you may find yourself needing more features to automate, measure and push your campaigns further.

when to upgrade marketing automationTHIS is when you start reviewing the features of the marketing automation players. Now you have some concept of how you are using marketing automation, what you have time and interest in doing in-house, what you don’t have time or interest in doing, and how you are willing to pay for this.

This is why I recommend going into inbound and lead generation marketing slowly.

I’m sure the Hubspots and Marketos of the world don’t want me telling you this, but many large companies and start-ups are seeing through their sales pitches.

Like marriage in most states, changing your marketing automation and CRM is like a messy divorce. You’ll need to invest lots of additional time and money to make a move. You want to choose wisely when you do.

In the interim, you can work well with free products and small upgrades from free services.

Inbound marketing and lead generation takes more man hours than you are probably allocating. Just regular weekly content updates kill most businesses as they aren’t used to being creative on demand. It’s harder than it looks.

The Impact of the Digital Marketing Manager – Part Two SMBs

digital marketer swiss army knifeIn Part One, I discussed the areas within Enterprise marketing, public relations, and sales departments that digital marketers now effect. Digital Marketing Managers have even more challenges in SMBs – small and medium-sized businesses. It’s not uncommon for these companies to combine or outsource some of the tasks of multiple departments. Lean resources rule the daily world of the Digital Marketing Manager. Pressure to produce results with teams that are often overworked and minimally supported is common. They are expected to be Swiss-army knives that can do many things well.

Scrappy Teams
The latest buzzword to come out of Silicon Valley is “scrappy”. It’s code for lean to zero resources. A digital marketing manager who is part of a “scrappy team” probably doesn’t have a team at all. They are individual contributors with manager titles. This is becoming more prevalent as funded start-ups further establish their products and move through to B rounds of funding and beyond. They use most of their seed and A round funding to build their product – hiring engineers and developers. Product managers and product marketing are next and often staffed without adequate resources in terms of budget for marketing campaigns and staff. Beyond that, bonuses are small or non-existent usually provided to sales. Equity is a different crap shoot entirely. It’s hard to believe anyone would want to work under these conditions which make it very challenging for companies to attract top talent.

marketing automation brandsAutomation Experts
With limited resources, automation becomes extremely important. Software producers all claim to have the best system for your business. There are copious choices and once made, companies don’t make a change easily. Digital marketers need to have skills working with many of the major names to be in demand today. Most systems work similarly and a sharp digital marketer with deep knowledge of one can quickly learn the others as needed.  Next, they need to understand the components of the campaigns they are developing and aggressively test and measure their performance. (This is the same whether you work for Enterprise or a Mom-and-Pop firm.) Understanding the key elements of your company’s system that will assist in achieving your marketing goals is where art and science blend in digital marketing.

Given small budgets and lean teams, the digital marketer needs to measure each campaign with ruthless indifference.  Building and updating dashboards that your executives can understand is key. (Notice I didn’t say, “that your executives need.” More on this below.) One of the issues the digital marketer will inevitably face is poor data hygiene that interferes with accurate reporting.  This problem was probably unknowingly created when the systems were set up initially.  In an SMB, it’s probably a little easier to correct this evolution as there are fewer layers of management.  In the meantime, digital marketers rely on crunching numbers in spreadsheets and manually populate their reports. This sounds archaic but it’s done all the time. 

APIs and Integration
Fixing data hygiene problems is never easy. The contributing fields need to be identified and either corrected or built. The worst offenses are when fields were initially set as text fields. If there is one thing I wish would be omitted from all database programs is a text field option! Going back to administrators can be very easy, but they need to understand who else in the organization needs that field before making changes. Often it’s sales and sales doesn’t like change. Additionally, the past entries may require edits which means many hours of manual corrections. It’s a long road to clean data.

Stakeholder Management
Rarely is there full buy-in from stakeholders at the SMB level for a well developed and tested marketing solution. Revenue is often the sole focus which puts sales in the driver’s seat. There is little room for failure, which makes for a difficult testing environment. With slim budgets, SMB executives often want digital marketing managers to have the right answer without testing. Anyone with any knowledge of marketing knows testing is imperative to optimal results. This high-wire walk is challenging as marketing is easy to blame and fire. When the digital marketing manager sets realistic expectations and timelines, they may encounter objections and requests to do what they can within the executive’s preferred timeline. If this is done, results can be compromised. The most successful marketers in this position are buddies with the stakeholders. If the CEO is pals with the VP of Sales, it’s only a matter of time before you get blamed for something. Thicken your skin or stay in touch with recruiters!

Training and Continuing Education
Sure, most SMBs embrace attending the big conferences that their software vendors produce. These provide some good learning sessions if you can get into them! It’s not unusual for the best sessions to fill before the first ticket price increase while management still hasn’t decided how many people will be allowed to attend. More important to the digital marketer’s ongoing education are blogs, webinars, and skill specific training. These go on year round and are offered by leaders in particular marketing channels. Quarterly budgets for training are rare and it’s something that should be part of the marketing department overall. Some component of digital marketing’s best-practices changes on average every 5 months.  There is no degree from an accredited university that can replace the ongoing learning that’s required of a good digital marketing manager.

In my personal experience working for both, they each have their pros and cons. However, one thing holds true in both environments the digital marketing manager is a key component in today’s revenue cycle. They matter and they are the cornerstone to how your brand is perceived, the leads you mine and the prospects you close.  How you structure your company to support or hinder their ability to perform is one of the key limitations of their success.

The Impact of the Digital Marketing Manager – Part One

Digital marketing managers wear many hatsThe internet and digital marketing had a tremendous impact on Enterprise marketing, public relations, and sales departments. Traditional marketing was required to provide ROI. Public Relations became MarCom and had to quickly adapt to social media marketing. Sales fared the best as they turned over all lead generation to marketing and passed along lead quality accountability.  Being a digital marketing consultant for over ten years sure had been an exciting ride and it’s not nearly over yet. I have been brought on as a consultant, contractor and as an employee. I see it all from the inside and can confidently state the major impact that the digital marketing manager has had on all sizes of organization. In this  article, I’ll cover the large Enterprise organization and the many departments that digital marketing has and continues to affect.

Wearing Many Hats

With the immediacy of communications and information, digital marketing permeates across many channels and requires specialists to aid those department’s traditional tactics.

Sales – Digital marketers are now filling the role of Inside Sales. The titles are new: Demand Generation, Growth Hacker, Lead Strategist, but the job is the same: bring leads to the sales department. This requires knowledge of the target customers and their needs. Digital marketing needs to present their company as the solution to the customer’s problems without knowing when or how they will research solutions. That presents the we must be everywhere problem of budgeting and channel selection. Additionally, the digital professional in this role needs to navigate the often choppy waters of sales and their egos. Marketing has the data to prove what is working, but often key salespeople have the ear of executives and it’s challenging to meet your goals without proving them wrong. Finessing this divide is by far the most challenging part of the digital marketing role as it supports sales. 

Traditional Marketing – Teams of marketers have worked successfully for years writing content, designing collateral, producing presentations and positioning the brand. With the prominence and success of digital marketing these channels are now required to measure their impact and attribution to sales. This isn’t always easy. Digital marketing is agile in it’s ability to easily provide a bucket for leads generated from each of these channels. While they themselves are not digital, the content can send prospects to micro-sites within the main website, landing pages or special offer pages. Those captures can easily be attributed and measured. And when closed-loop analytics is included down to the closed revenue level, attribution and ROI is easily reported and channel spend can be better divided.

Public Relations – Words like messaging, branding, awareness play are now the new verbiage of the PR professional.  Diminished are the relationship management aspects that PR professionals were prized for and now social media agencies have taken their place. Without a solid handle on what each social media platform can provide and how it meets the brand awareness goals, PR is relinquished to internal MarCom tasks. I personally know many PR professionals who were forced into MarCom by their companies as social media stayed in the hands of digital marketing. But, messaging needs to be cohesive and MarCom and social media need to work together very closely. If the business has any regulatory element they will become paralegals by default in working with the compliance department. And you just thought you needed to Tweet!

Operations & Analytics – Depending on the size of the company, the marketing operations could roll up under IT or internal engineering and the analytics very often reports to finance. These are not marketings usual partners. Given the size and scope of marketing automation systems, CRM and analytic measurement methodology and modeling, digital marketing managers are usually a lesser concern for these other departments. Networking with these people is new, but important to getting all the fields and data flowing into a constructive dashboard. It’s rare that when the systems were being evaluated and implemented that someone from each of these organizations was involved. That leaves data integrity holes that the digital marketing manager needs to fill without disrupting current data flows. It’s tricky business. The complexities of digital marketing and all the departments digital marketing managers need to work with can be daunting. Hence why few marketers return for Masters degrees. Tactics change so fast and each engagement is so unique it’s wiser to learn the basic tactical skills and to keep reading and learning. Attend conferences and webinars where others share best practices and case studies. That’s where your ideas will reside.

The complexities of digital marketing and all the departments digital marketing managers need to work with can be daunting. Hence why few marketers return for Masters degrees. Tactics change so fast and each engagement is so unique it’s wiser to learn the basic tactical skills and to keep reading and learning. Attend conferences and webinars where others share best practices and case studies. That’s where your ideas will reside.

Next week, I’ll address the digital marketing manager’s challenge at the SMB level and where they can be effective.


Thank You – Ladies – for 2015

strong women 2016I will remember 2015 as the year of kick-a$$ women. A toast to my female friends and colleagues for your intelligence, support and grit in 2015.  Instead of a New Year’s Resolution post like so many others, I thought I’d put a big shout out to the gals who made 2015 great and in the tougher moments, bearable.

Co-Workers and Colleagues: You rose to some impossible challenges we faced, showed support when things got tough and joined me for a drink when we needed it! Some of you are still in those tough positions. To you, I am sending strength to stay or move on when you are ready.  I’ll be here with a recommendation.

Dishonorable Mentions: There were a few of you ladies who I sadly watched as you discounted your abilities and became pawns. You quietly did what you were told even though you knew it was wrong and that it would hurt the company. I’m not sure if you have real reasons you won’t push yourself, but I know you are better than that.  I wish you more self-esteem in 2016.

Male Colleagues: Sorry guys, but you really proved to be a disappointment this past year. While I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, there were just too many injustices to ignore. I watched you point fingers, beat your chests, lie, pout, ignore, intimidate and bully people you work with and not expect any repercussions. I know you will continue spinning on your wheel until you realize that all people deserve respect and you will take all of those people down with you. People are loyal when they have to be or they like and respect you.

give them up

Girlfriends: You were and are amazing. I’ve been with you for your divorces, co-parenting, legal issues, aging family members, illnesses all while juggling work and children.  We already know that we have each other when we get old. I think women live longer than men because we have each other and persevere better. We know that others rely on us.

As for 2016, it will be different and better. It always is. Just like cleaning out my closets I clean out those people who don’t fit anymore and find new people who fit better: kind, fun, smart and respectful. Out with the old and in with the new!

Happy New Year to the many great ladies in my life and the few conscious men. My personal wish is for all the new people in my life in 2016 to be self-actualized and have a sense of humor!

7 Steps to Email Greatness

Email is still one of the most cost-effective marketing channels Email Timing Infographicavailable to all sizes of business. The art and science are in getting it right so you don’t land in the spam folder or get too many unsubscribes. If you write at least some portion of your own content, here are some basics for your email strategy that even contributors should keep in mind.

Focus Your Goal
Plan your campaigns strategically for each audience you target. A client engagement campaign will have different content and intervals than a limited offer. What is this email meant to accomplish? (How to measure success is discussed later.)  Each campaign needs to be thought through completely before writing the first line of content.

Which Devices Do Your Audience Use
Knowing the top devices your readers open your email on most frequently will help you make the best content and image choices. Adestra states – 45% of email opens occurred on mobile, 36% on desktop and 19% in a webmail client. While this is a general number, check your own data and KPIs at least quarterly for changes.

Write a Worthy Subject Line
People read what appeals to them. Grab their attention without landing in the spam folder by staying on goal and true to your brand’s voice. This reassures the reader that your content is relevant. A basic refresher from this article will help avoid getting your email labeled as spam.

Use a Relevant or Provocative Image
Once you get your target to open your email, you want them to be interested enough to read it. Your choice of image is an important answer to the reader’s question, “Is this email worth reading?” Sometimes there isn’t an obvious image that conveys your message so you might try something fun or disruptive to make them wonder.

Which Day Is Your Best
While more email is sent and read on Mondays, your best day for this target might be different. My client, Tanglewood Works, sends her new items email every Thursday before the weekend shopping trend to current subscribers. (She now devotes more time to her social media channels on the other days. Smart resource management!) If you have many products that target different audiences consider each one’s reading trends uniquely. It’ important to monitor your audience’s trends and analyze your data often for shifts.

Test One Element With Each Email
Having a written email testing plan will optimize your efforts over time. If you have a large list you can run multivariate tests and gain insights much more quickly. If you are new to testing, try something easy such as subject lines. Advanced users can follow Email on Acid to venture further into geeky tests like variable text headers.

Plan KPIs In Advance

As you plan your email campaign and it’s goals, determine what your KPI should be for each campaign and each email within. Your end-goal might be to get the target to request a product demo. Often, these are part of CTAs within the email. Plan the path you anticipate your target will take. If you can imagine multiple routes to your goal, then you plan those separately. This is a perfect chance to test multiple versions of the same email with different paths.

Before, you could write an email and blast it out to your subscribers. Today with so much noise and competition, being strategic and having SMART goals for your campaigns is the best way to manage your resources, measure results and make sound decisions for your next campaign. If you’re new to SMART marketing, here’s an easy template to get you started.

Contextually Relevant Content or Just Blogging

My clients and future clients sometimes ask why I don’t practice what I preach – blog regularly to help support a larger SEM goal. That would require me to have a personal SEM goal for my practice, I say. However, many bloggers out there just blog to blog. This is a fine strategy if you are building your brand awareness, However, most businesses today whether they wish to reach consumers or other businesses rely on content to perform multiple duties that it isn’t optimized to deliver.

Having a primary goal for your content production is key and while it’s exciting to try to crack the code where your content ticks many boxes, it’s a ton of work that most content teams are not skilled in doing. Perfect content is: interesting to the target audience, creates conversions, helps SERP, helps PPC, helps organic and meets the moving  target of Googles content-rich algorithms. As most companies have copywriters who strive to be interesting, how can this same content also be optimized by the same person or another who doesn’t wreck the message?

This is why I don’t blog often. But when I do, it’s audience relevant.

What Data, Marketing and Starfish Have in Common

what data marketers and starfish have in common

It’s a common problem for most organizations – large and small. With all this data on our customers, prospects and their behaviors, what can we report on and what can give us insight to make sound decisions? Most marketers are tasked with this balancing act. Management wants to see justification for your spending – as most executives have not fully embraced that marketing is a revenue generating department. Your team needs strategy insight from the data.

Case In Point
Minimizing customer churn is a big focus today as conservative studies show that it costs three times more to find a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. There are studies that state up to 15 times greater. The issue stems from not having consistent, quantifiable data from both marketing and sales that produces clues of potential churn. While executives would love this information, prioritization of this analysis usually comes after it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the account managers are reluctant to assist marketing identify these events as it could cast their performance in a bad light.

Root of the Problem
Until sales executives proactively hold account managers accountable (read: commission) to entering data into fields that their CRM can measure we will be severely limited as to what we can both report on and predict.

Crocodiles and Starfish
It takes steady feet and thick skin to be a marketing executive. When sales are down, marketing is told to generate more leads. The budget isn’t increased, but we know that we probably need 3-15 times more money to achieve this goal. Sales is told to close more deals, so funnels get padded. Account management is often the best place for growth to occur quickly, but like all acquisition marketing and sales they plan takes time, money and effort. It’s like watching a starfish. They are moving, but it’s hard to see immediately unless you have good data.