- The iPad. Yes, it was THE technology gadget of the year. Here at Quaero, we developed a Web-based iPad application that enables us to effectively interact with clients and potential clients by gearing the conversation towards their interests and not simply what we choose to tell them. It gives us an interactive way of approaching the conversation and engaging with customers on their terms. Without a doubt, the iPad and iPad applications are here to stay and we have only just begun to tap the power of this resource.
- Social media went beyond the hype. It seemed like we spent years talking about social media as this new way to connect with customers. There was certainly a lot of hype and, in many cases, there still is. But it seems like 2010 was the first year that marketers finally went beyond this hype to discuss the value of social media, along with measurement and true strategy. Research organizations like MarketingSherpa talked about the evolution of SM with marketers who are at the early adoption stage to those who are now more advanced in their strategy and execution. This is a trend that will definitely continue in 2011 and happily so. We need to stop thinking about the cool factor and really focus in on the true customer interactions that can happen with an effective SM strategy. Let’s figure out how to use these interactions to inform future marketing efforts and maximize customer value.
- Lead nurturing came to the forefront. For years, B2B marketers have discussed demand generation and have looked at increasing the number of new leads as the most important of their activities. It is certainly an important focus and (hopefully) continues to drive revenue. But it seems that now we have turned a (good) corner. The focus should not only be on how many leads we have coming into the top of the funnel but how we can nurture these leads, generate true interest and improve their sales readiness. In this way, we can maximize the ROI of our lead generation programs and cost per lead while passing truly qualified leads to our sales teams. The challenge, of course, is on the operational side; we need to identify and use our marketing automation systems and think about tools like Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Analytics to gain insights to how are leads are proceeding from one stage to the next and adjusting/improving our campaigns to ensure that we are effective in each stage.
- Understanding the marketing ecosystem. In the past, marketers had a tendency to take a silo’d approach to their strategy. We worked on campaigns, on PR and thought leadership activities, on our websites, etc. But it seems that reality has finally set in and we are all getting the same wake-up call; marketers must look at the overall “ecosystem.” Instead of looking at our efforts in a linear fashion, we should think about it as a circular process – for example, how I create my website so that it takes advantage of social media, uses content to fuel media interest, and how my next campaign will feed off of this content and maximizes the value of the online interactions of my customers and website visitors. And, even more importantly, how I then use the results of all of these to inform what I will do next week, next month, next quarter.
- Focus on building relationships. This one is really nothing new or earth-shattering. But I do think that it is critical to our efforts and one that’s easy to forget as we are all under pressure to generate leads and increased revenue, to do what is new and exciting especially in our digitally-focused world. The key is to figure out which of these strategies will really enable us to engage, to connect and to build the relationships that are so critical in our ever competitive-environment. How do we show the marketplace that we really understand the challenges and then how we bring the right solutions to the table? We need to think about PEOPLE and their NEEDS to solve real problems…not companies, not just demographics.
On that note, here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2011!