February 21, 2017

How to measure influence in social media marketing

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Measuring influence is the new obsession in the social media world—adding another layer of anxiety to the dark cloud of existential dread that is marketing ROI.

Social media present us as individuals seeking status within a community, which is something that humans have been working at since our days as monkeys. Indeed, science tells us that monkeys would rather look at pictures of high-ranking members of their troop than eat. The only difference between us and the monkeys is that we usually remember to eat while we watch the Oscars or check our Twitter follower counts.

Influence is the ability to affect others in their thinking or actions. But we need validation that it is happening. Since social media leave digital footprints, companies create complex algorithms to come up with simple answers to measuring social media influence. These fall into two categories:

  • The number generators. These tools assign a number to influence based on factors such as popularity, number of connections, and share of conversation. The best of these is still Technorati, because blogs are, in and of themselves, the most influential channel within social media. Face it, unless you can come up with enough to say to sustain a blog, it’s difficult to become influential. Others include Klout and Twitter Grader, which focus on the social networks. Another category of tools “gameify” influence by giving us fake shiny objects as rewards for engaging others. These include Foursquare and Empire Avenue. But all these numbers have little use beyond the ego stroke.
  • The monitors. These include the proprietary tools that look across all the online channels to determine how brands are being talked about. These social media monitoring tools have more use for marketers, but they require significant human intervention and can easily become very expensive versions of the number generators if not used with a goal in mind.

How to measure social media influence in a marketing context
Influence is usually presented in the context of figuring out who is engaging us and who we should be engaging with. But I think as marketers, we need to think bigger. I’d like to suggest that we look at influence as part of an integrated marketing strategy. In this context, influence has little to do with algorithms and more to do with something that marketers have been measuring for a long time: perception.

The two most important components of influence
I see successful marketers getting their companies to set two reference points to measure influence across all their marketing programs:

  • Who we are. Through surveys, both qualitative and quantitative, marketers ask their target audiences to tell them how they perceive the company. Classic versions of this are unaided awareness (“Name five IT services providers”) and aided awareness (“Have you heard of x company?”).
  • Who we want to be. This is where the strategy comes in. This reference point is in the future and requires careful definition. It requires all the key players in the company to decide how they want the company to influence the market in the future. For example, many ITSMA members are companies that began by selling B2B products but are now trying to become known as full-service solution companies. They have built or bought services divisions and created services offerings, but they cannot yet influence their target audiences to see them as anything other than product providers. Marketing’s job is to influence buyers to move from the existing perception to the new one—using all the available tools at its disposal.

Over time, we measure our influence by asking our target audience if they see our companies as we want them to be seen. Looked at this way, measuring influence becomes simpler and clearer.

What do you think?

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15 things marketers should stop doing and thinking in 2011

Here’s a list of things I wish we would stop doing and thinking as of December 31st:

Social media

  • Social media cause people to waste time at work. Companies have a long and pointless history of resisting new forms of communication. From Facebook to email to putting telephones on employees’ desks (remember, the telephone started as a “consumer” communication technology, too), companies think that every new wave is going to lead to gajillions in lost productivity. Dude, this stuff isn’t heroin, okay? The problem is not with employees or with the communications technologies, it’s with the premise that employees come into work determined to waste time. Guess what companies, people wasted time at work long before Facebook came along. If the company is well managed, people who waste time will get fired. People who sell your trade secrets on the internet will go to jail. Stop wasting money on pointless, ineffective efforts to block this stuff and start finding ways to make these channels pay.
  • Social media relationships are shallow and meaningless. We all know twitter can’t start revolutions or substitute for gazing meaningfully into someone’s eyes over dinner, but what I don’t understand is why the critics can’t see a link between the bonds that we form on social media and the deeper links that we forge offline. For example, the viral relationship model of Twitter adds a new dimension to relationships, it doesn’t subtract. You meet tons more people than you would in more traditional permission-based environments and some of those relationships will wind up becoming the kinds of deeper, more meaningful exchanges that the critics say we are losing through social media. I’ve formed a handful of excellent business relationships on Twitter this year—we know each other on sight and (gasp) we’ve even spoken to one another. Now, are a handful of real relationships a good return considering that I have 1400 followers on Twitter? Yes, because these relationships would not have happened otherwise. Shallow relationships don’t have to remain that way and existing relationships don’t have to go all shallow just because you start interacting in social media.
  • Interactions substitute for relationships. Many seemingly logical, intelligent people send me automated direct messages (DMs) when I follow them on Twitter, making them seem like robot spammers rather than people. They think that by throwing that extra interaction in there that it is somehow going to deepen our relationship. Soon, we’ll be able to automate our social media relationships through bots that can judge sentiment. The theory is that social media powered by humans doesn’t scale well. It’s nothing new; authors automated their interactions with readers centuries ago with the printing press. Just don’t go believing that these interactions can ever be substitutes for a human relationship.
  • Filtered conversation reduces risk. The ultimate risk in business is that your customers stop buying from you because they don’t trust you. Preventing employees from speaking to customers because they might make a mistake ignores this much bigger risk—which existed long before social media came along. Customers want to speak to the people they will be working with. That’s why employees and subject matter experts should be on the front lines of social media rather than marketers or PR people.
  • External social media marketing is more important than internal social media collaboration. We did some case studies at ITSMA this year that showed that companies could easily blow up half their offices and do away with most of their administrative and bureaucratic structures without a single customer noticing. The technology for virtual collaboration is finally catching up to the promise of internal knowledge management that we’ve been hearing about for years. Plus, it can make both employees and customers happier than they are now.
  • More volume creates more influence. In traditional media, influence comes from sheer numbers—the more subscribers to your newspaper, the better. But influence in social media isn’t purely a numbers game (though numbers can certainly help). It’s also about the degree of interconnectedness. There’s a scary analogy here, to viruses. Viruses ultimately benefit more from infecting 100 people who travel widely across the world than from infecting 10,000 people in one place. The most influential people in social media will be those who can combine large followings with diverse groups of followers who themselves also have many diverse followers.
  • Social media has ROI. Unless you are selling products, and inexpensive ones at that, it is impossible to track a tweet or a blog post directly to a sale. For expensive, complex B2B products and services, social media can improve relationships with customers and increase awareness. Do you call that ROI? I don’t. ROI should be measured on a higher level—as in the ROI of all of marketing to the business.

Mobile

General Marketing

  • Analytics can wait. We need to close the loop on what buyers do with our content and use that insight to predict what they will do next. Buying marketing automation tools or social media analysis tools aren’t enough. You need people who know how to create analytical processes and algorithms and all that stuff. Wall Street is already trying to make sense of the massive river of online conversation for business purposes. We need people who can do it, too.
  • We must measure the ROI of social media (or any other individual marketing tactic). CEOs don’t care about individual tactics; they want to know whether marketing in general reduces the time to revenue and improves the productivity of sales. We need to start measuring the larger impact of marketing rather than measuring activity or individual tactics.
  • Publish it and they will come. We have a crisis in marketing channels. All year, marketers have been telling me that they are having a harder and harder time getting noticed in traditional channels like white papers, email newsletters, and events. This is a typical comment: “I’ve got plenty of content. It’s getting people to pay attention to it that’s the problem!” We need to mashup some new channels out of combinations of new and old to stand out and be heard now. A few examples of things that ITSMA clients did this year:
  • Describing what you do is thought leadership. Creating compelling offers and descriptions of products and services is an art, it really is. But it ain’t thought leadership. Customers want ideas for fixing their problems and proof that they can trust you. Most companies still try to sell what they have rather than figuring out what customers need.
  • Sales support is marketing’s primary role. Many companies think that they are maximizing their investment in marketing by limiting it to sales support. What they don’t realize is that buyers have removed salespeople from the earliest stages of the buying process by doing their own research with colleagues, peers, on the web, and in social media. Marketing is most effective at this stage, when buyers want nothing to do with salespeople. Marketing organizations that don’t break out of the sales support role will be trapped in a Catch-22 of increasingly poor performance and waning confidence from the business side.
  • Email will always be cool. Hey, we’re humans. We resist change and we have irrational hope for the future. So we keep doing stuff we’re comfortable doing for longer than we probably should rather than embracing new stuff. Email is inconvenient, impersonal, slow, rife with spam, and not particularly intelligent. But we’re used to it. The kids have already dumped it in favor of texting and social networking. Email won’t go away tomorrow but it will gradually be starved of all meaningful human interaction until it becomes a graveyard of official business communications and, wait for it, marketing. We should probably start planning for email’s funeral now so we don’t miss it.

What things do you wish we would stop doing and saying in 2011?

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Why the volume and quality of interactions with customers has to pass for social media ROI

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I wish I could say that social media leads to sales. I really do. But I can’t. And I haven’t encountered anyone else who can either, have you? So when we think about social media ROI, we need to make a leap of faith. We need to believe that more engagement between our companies and the people we want to reach is a good thing that ultimately leads to sales—but down a long, narrow, winding path with a few jumps between cliffs thrown in there.

To make ourselves feel a little more comfortable with this idea, we may need to categorize social media with something whose hazy ROI we’re more familiar and comfortable with: PR.

There have been research attempts made to uncover and evaluate methods for measuring the ROI of PR. But you’re not going to like them.

Jumping through ROI hoops
Techniques include measuring the:

  • Value of impressions. We track the marketing mix (including PR) over time against trends in sales. Lots of variables there.
  • Return on media impact. This is the number of articles or blog posts that mention the product or service measured against the trend in sales. Again, tough to isolate PR’s role.
  • Value of earned media. This is what it would cost to place an ad in a magazine vs. the cost of getting the story placement. The PR cost is usually less and the value is usually larger, but by how much? Old beliefs about the relative value of earned media vs. advertising are all over the map—and probably need to be revised in the age of social media.

But ROI has to be there, right?
Still, we know in our bones that positive word of mouth has a positive effect on sales. We just have a hard time proving it. The only effective argument I’ve heard recently is that we embed calls to action in social media that drive readers to a landing page where we capture their information and start nurturing them as leads. But without good systems for tracking those leads from social media all the way through a sale, it’s difficult and expensive to do. And it leads back to the problem we have with PR. Did the social media impression really lead to the sale?

As with PR, perhaps all we can do is establish that social media was at least a guidepost along that narrow rocky path to a sale.

Volume and quality of interactions
So if you buy that leap of logic, let’s say that blogs are another channel, like PR, in a marketing mix designed to familiarize customers and prospects with our companies and us. And if that’s true, then we should try to increase the volume and quality of interactions with have with customers and prospects through social media, no?

That’s when things start to get easier. We can more easily measure engagement in social media. Especially on blogs.

For this reason, I think we need to think about blogs as the center point of a social media strategy. Aside from the corporate, a blog is the mother ship of social media interaction and content. And blogs are really measurable. In fact, we can do a lot of it for free. Here are some metrics, mostly for blogs, that help build engagement with customers and prospects. Please tell me what I should add or take away. And if you have the magic sauce for social media ROI, please douse us with it!

(For much more on the social media ROI topic, see this terrific list of resources compiled by Robin Broitman at Interactive Insights Group called the Social Media Metrics Superlist.)

  • Connect to your most important keywords. SEO is really a fancy term for constructing your sentences carefully—especially your headlines. If the intention of your blog is to drive traffic to your main website for lead generation, then you should be using the keywords on your blog that matter most on your website. To oversimplify it, if you want to sell more ERP software, you should use keywords like “enterprise software,” a lot on your blog so that Google associates your blog with your company’s area of expertise.
  • Grow the number of influential referral sites. “Owning” a keyword term in Google searches is nice, but building traffic to your blog through references on other blogs and websites is the key to sustained, long-term growth. Obviously, the more influential the referral site the better. But we’re not talking just sheer numbers here. For example, being listed on the blogroll of a highly respected blogger, analyst, or journalist not only generates traffic; it also establishes you as an authority among the people who care most about the subject you’re blogging about. That authority begins to have exponential effects over time. You and your posts are referred to more often as the network of referrals grows. The growth in traffic then confers its own authority—you get lots of visits so you must be smart. It becomes a virtuous cycle.
  • Don’t forget the outbound links. We all tend to obsess over the number of mentions with get in blog rolls or our influence rank in Technorati. But we often don’t stop to think about whether we’re linking to anyone else’s blog. One of the cornerstones of social media is sharing. Be generous with links to other blogs and websites and others will return the favor and build your traffic for you.
  • Understand the location of your audience. In Google analytics, you can drill down by country—even by city—to see where your traffic comes from. Comparing the geographical distribution of your blog to your company’s website should give you a sense of whether your blog is hitting with the same areas of the world as your website. It could also reveal potential new areas of focus for your salespeople.
  • Measure endurance. Good blogs hold people to the page they’re viewing. So time spent is metric to track to see if people spend more time reading over time. Bounce rate is a good metric for websites because it helps show whether people are finding what they’re looking for. But it’s not so good for blogs because blogs generally only have one or two pages—a page for the posts and a page for “about me” or “contact me—so the bounce rate is going to be higher for blogs by default. You read the post, you leave. Google analytics also has a metric for loyalty—the numbers of repeat visits over time—that shows whether people are sticking with you.
  • Find and nurture your VIPs. It’s hard to measure the number of people who care about and are really influenced by your blog. So I apply the old subscription model. If people care enough to want to know when your next post comes out, they are engaged. If they also comment on your blog, they are friends. Make a list of the people who subscribe to your blog through RSS and e-mail and match them up to your comments. Those who both subscribe and comment regularly are your VIPs. RSS+comments=VIP. These are the people who matter; they should receive responses to all their comments and an e-mail thanking them for being such a valuable collaborator. If they happen to also be customers, then all the better. But just don’t try to sell them. They know where to find you.
  • Use Twitter for blog PR. If Twitter isn’t one of your highest-ranking referral sites, you’re not using it properly. Twitter is the logical front end to a blog post. It’s where you distill the post down to a nugget and put a link next to it. There are even tools like Tweet This, that can be set up to send a tweet based on the title of your post automatically. Or a tweet can be the inspiration for a blog post later on. Regardless, blogs and Twitter accounts should be joined at the hip, because Twitter is a powerful traffic builder to blogs.
  • Use URL shorteners to gauge subject interest. By using a URL shortener like bit.ly within a Tweet, you can track how many people click on the content link you offer in your tweets. Sure, the language of your tweet counts in building interest, but if you link to content that is directly related to your tweet, it’s a good gauge of how popular the subject is among your followers.
  • Use social networks as water coolers and newsstands. LinkedIn and Facebook have groups where you can post elements of your blog post as a question, or post the entire thing as a news item. Track the number of comments and views to the things you post. The numbers aren’t too big here generally, as the group tools on these sites are crude and many group leaders don’t spend much time filtering out the self-promoting jerks that litter these things with spam. But it’s a way to expose your blog to new faces and engage in dialog away from the blog.
  • Build cross-referencing across social media tools. No social media tool is an island. All should cross-reference each other at every opportunity. So for example, your blog comments on other’s blogs should contain your Twitter handle and a link to your blog. The communities you belong to should all Your LinkedIn profile should display your most recent posts and tweets, and your blog should display all of the above. There’s no real way to measure all this from what I can tell, but it isn’t hard and it can’t hurt.
  • Embed and measure calls to action. If we can get people to a landing page, we should. Social media offer plenty of opportunities for doing that. And sometimes social media becomes the end in itself. For example, the landing page could be for a LinkedIn group you manage rather than the traditional white paper, newsletter, or Webinar. Social media gives us ways to build relationships with customers that white papers or newsletters can’t.

What do you think?

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Top B2B marketing posts for 2009 (hint: social media)

Who says B2B marketers are lagging in social media? If they are out there, they aren’t reading this blog. Of the top ten posts on my blog this year, only one did not involve social media. Though I’m supposed to be an objective researcher, I have to admit bias here. I think the social media phenomenon is the most exciting and important thing to hit communications in my lifetime. So writing about this stuff is fun. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.

Thank you so much for your comments, links, and tweets this year. I’m happy to say that traffic to my blog has quadrupled (I’ve gone from a D-list blogger to a C-list, I think) in 2009 thanks to you. I look forward to collaborating even more in 2010. Have a happy and safe New Year!

Check out these top posts if you haven’t already:

  1. Six factors driving B2B social media marketing adoption
  2. The four components of social media management
  3. Want proof that the C-suite is into social media? Here it is.
  4. How to create B2B social media policies
  5. Why B2B marketers hate social media
  6. Social media strategy for B2B: what’s required and what’s optional
  7. Why bother with thought leadership? Five questions and answers.
  8. Eight reasons to monitor social media and a list of tools for doing it
  9. Where should your corporate blogs live?
  10. Why B2B marketing will become more visual, vocal, and mobile

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Four reasons to stop measuring marketing

It’s time to declare marketing metrics a failure once and for all. ITSMA research has long showed that when we do it at all, we do it poorly. It’s difficult to parse out the contribution that marketing makes to a sale and it’s even more difficult to get salespeople to spend the time figuring out/checking the box/giving credit in the quest to determine whether marketing played a role in making the sale.

So we should just stop. Now.

I’ve had some good conversations this week with ITSMA’s Julie Schwartz and with lead management guru Brian Carroll and we all agree that in the broadest sense, measuring marketing misses the point. We should be measuring revenue and what Julie calls the Cost per Order Dollar (CPOD). Both marketing and sales should work together to reduce CPOD because that’s what really matters in terms of marketing’s contribution to the business. In this report (free with guest registration), Julie points out that marketing’s primary role is to make sales more efficient. Period.

Stop apportioning blame
So why do we continue to measure marketing separately from sales? If we started measuring CPOD and tracked it year over year, we would know that marketing was doing its job without forcing the annual showdown between marketing and the business in which marketing stands before the firing squad to justify its mere existence.

As Brian pointed out to me this week, this is all about growing revenue. It’s time to measure sales and marketing together in that process.

So here are some simple rules to think about:

  1. Stop measuring marketing in isolation. Marketing and sales are both part of the same process: raising revenue. Measure CPOD instead.
  2. Create a unified lead process. You need a closed-loop lead process that tracks prospect activity from beginning to end (and back again, in the case of lead nurturing) that is supported by a system (see this post for more on that).
  3. Get adult supervision. In working with companies to develop lead management programs, Brian has found that the most successful companies have a CEO who does not try to parse marketing from sales and assign credit/blame to each. He or she emphasizes one revenue generating process that both groups contribute to.
  4. Create content that is tied to (and signals) the different stages of the buying process. As we in B2B focus more and more on trying to pull in prospects through thought leadership, we need to understand that our life’s blood is the Epiphany Stage of the buying process. We need marketing content specifically targeted at that stage, as well as the more traditional stages like awareness and interest. When we create content targeted to specific buying stages—and get sales to agree to that categorization—we no longer need to get salespeople to check off the box for marketing’s contribution; that contribution will become implicit.

What would you add to this list?

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Five reasons why B2B marketers should be in social media even if their companies are not

To be successful with social media marketing, we are going to have to become social media guinea pigs. We are accustomed to creating programs and campaigns and then standing back and observing them. Social media will demand involvement that is much more personal. That’s why it’s important for us to start building our expertise in social media today, even if social media isn’t yet at the top of our marketing agenda (and our research shows that among B2B marketers, it is not).

Here are five reasons why you need to get good at this stuff before your company does:

  • Social media is real time. Social media is always on. Conversations about your company don’t stop when your call center closes or you empty your email inbox. Much of the thrill for Twitter users is the synchronous, real-time nature of this streaming flow of conversation. The river of words flows by and you can jump in or watch it disappear around the bend. That presents a big challenge for marketers trying to monitor what’s being said about their brands. You need to be involved in social media to monitor it.
  • Social media is two-way. Social media is conversation and community through sharing. Social media is, by definition, two-way. That’s very different from our traditional marketing campaigns and programs, which are based in unilaterally developed messages that are broadcast—and then abandoned to fend for themselves. Social media marketing does not emerge fully formed, ready to go out and conquer the world; it is the needy kid parked on the couch who talks back and requires constant attention and support. You need to learn how to develop messages from within social media, not from outside it—and then you need to nurture those messages continuously over time.
  • Social media disrupts marketing structures and processes. When you construct and control the messages and programs yourself, you can go home at the end of the day with a clear conscience. Hierarchical structures and linear processes work fine because everything has a timeline and a beginning, middle, and end (launch). Social media launches every week, or every day—and sometimes, when you least expect it. Few marketing groups are creating dedicated social media teams or roles, so most marketers will see social media intrude upon and disrupt the work patterns and expectations we have all come to understand. Developing a personal understanding of how it all works will make it less disruptive.
  • Social media is a social—not a business—phenomenon. Marketing and business are joined at the hip. Changes in one automatically affect the other. But social media is developing in a separate world: popular culture. The effects on business and marketing are less direct and harder to predict and absorb. Mark Zuckerberg has made more progress in socializing the web in the last two years with Facebook than Ray Ozzie has in 20 years (anybody remember Lotus Notes and groupware?).
    The real innovation in social media is happening outside of the worlds of business and IT—and then pushing inexorably into the enterprise as employees fight to bring the ease of communication they have at home with them to work. The line between our business lives and personal lives have never been blurrier. Developing a personal presence in social media will bring that line into better focus and make your social media marketing efforts more effective.
  • Social media causes fear. Buried beneath our demands for an ROI accounting of the value of social media is something more primitive: fear. Anything that has the power to destroy industries (journalism) and redefine politics (the Obama campaign—actually the Howard Dean campaign, but nobody remembers him) has the power to inspire fear. That’s because humans are hard wired to resist change (the unfamiliar could get us killed in our caveman days).
    Longtime social media evangelist Stowe Boyd points out that businesses had the same concerns about putting telephones on the desks of employees in the years after WWII (they’ll just waste people’s time, they’re a security threat, the direct link to revenue isn’t there) that they’re voicing about social media today.
    Of course, those concerns were and are legitimate, but no doubt they are also rooted in our fear that perhaps this stuff really will change all the business habits we’ve grown so comfortable with over the past century. (And for the record, the definitive ROI study on the use of telephone communications in business never arrived—the telephone moved directly to unquestioned necessity within a few years.)
    Don’t stop waiting for proof of social media ROI, but question the logic that resists doing anything until that proof arrives. Don’t assume that your company or your marketing group is being smart by waiting; assume that at least some of that resistance is grounded in fear and complacency. Even more reason to build your personal expertise while others wait.

What do you think?

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Automating the Processes that Matter Most

Applying technology to marketing makes you a better marketer. In our recent survey about marketing automation, we saw that there is a correlation between the degree of automation in some of marketing’s core operational support processes and respondents’ level of competency in those processes.

Trouble is, the processes we are best at aren’t the ones that matter most.

In my last post, I talked about how things like email marketing, CRM, and web analytics are the processes where people have applied the most automation—and say that they do them well.

But to support the core goal of services marketing—putting good thought leadership before customers and prospects at the right time and in the right context—you need to be good at processes like content management, lead management, campaign management, and segmentation/predictive analysis. All of those processes ranked lower in their levels of automation and competency.

The good news is that you know what you should be automating. When we asked survey respondents to rate the ROI they have gotten or expect to get from automating processes, lead management, and campaign management rise to the top. And segmentation rises, too. And of course, contact management is up there, because nearly everyone has some sort of a CRM system these days.

Meanwhile, the highly automated processes—especially web analytics and email marketing—drop like stones in terms of ROI. This says to us that we are spending at least some of our marketing technology dollars in the wrong places.

I think it’s also a testament to the relative complexity of automating the processes that really matter. The four key automation areas of content management, lead management, campaign management, and segmentation/predictive analysis won’t be successful if they are developed and implemented in isolation from each other. They should be integrated into a holistic process-based approach to generating leads and nurturing them until they are sales ready (and salespeople agree that they are sales ready).

What do you think?

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One of the Reasons Marketing Gets No Respect: Lack of Automation

We’re all like the geek who is consumed by technology but doesn’t own a computer.

Let me explain. In this year’s ITSMA Services Marketing Budgets and Benchmarks Survey, you said that online marketing is the fastest-growing category of spending in your marketing budget this year (79% of you plan to spend more in 2008), yet only 36% of you have a marketing automation system to track marketing programs and results.

This adds up to a dramatic difference between the way you use technology externally with customers and internally in your own operations. This is not a sustainable gap. The good news is that 63% of you say that spending on marketing automation will increase this year—with total spending increasing from 3.1% to 4.2% of your services marketing budget in 2008.

Lots of Data, No Insight

In the meantime, online marketing is generating tons of data, and many of you don’t have automated means of converting it into knowledge and insight. Indeed, there seem to be no plans to change the situation. For example, “Advancing data mining and customer analytics” ranked last on your list of priorities for 2008.

This isn’t just bad for marketing; it’s bad for marketing’s reputation inside the company. In my research into this subject over the past six months, one theme has emerged over and over: Marketing is the least automated major function in the corporation.

While other functions have been automating—and more important, integrating—their operations since the mid-1990s, marketing has been mostly on the outside looking in. Indeed, when it comes to technology, marketing is one of those messy best-of-breed environments that your company might make millions fixing. Talk about the shoemaker’s children.

Automation Equals Accountability

It’s no accident that marketing struggles to prove its ROI. With automation comes accountability and efficiency—the ability to assemble hard numbers and data. Not only does marketing lack this ability, but it trails most other functions that are trying to do the same thing. No wonder that marketing struggles to get the respect of top management in many companies.

But before you get defensive, don’t think I’m blaming you for all this—at least not entirely. Software providers don’t offer an integrated marketing platform that does it all. IT and the business leadership play a role here, too. My sense is that many marketing groups do not have a strategy for IT, in part because leadership changes and reorganizations within marketing are common. I also suspect that IT does not pay as much attention to marketing as it does to the rest of the business. Indeed, I wonder if marketing even controls its own budget in most of your companies.

This month we have a survey out to the membership that will address all these issues and more. I hope you will join us for the September 9 Online Briefing, where we will address the future of marketing automation and offer some best practices for addressing the marketing automation challenge.

In the meantime, please tell me about the state of marketing automation in your company and the challenges you face.

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