Category Archives: B2B Lesson Learnt

Only 26% of marketers are able to measure their social engagement

According to a recent Social Media Examiner study about the social media usage of both B2B and B2C organisations, resulting in over 3000 respondents; the overarching majority of marketers (86%) claim an importance of social media to their business. Whilst this result comes as no surprise and seems to correlate with other surveys, it is interesting to note that a mere 26% of marketers claim a proficiency in measuring the social media engagement’s impact on their business. This numbers becomes even more staggering if the social media marketing experience is taking into consideration. 45% of responding marketers have been using social media tactics for 2 -5 years, 5% of this group even claims a social media experience of over 5 years.

With agencies pushing hard to have their clients engage in Social Media Campaigns (particularly in B2C), it is interesting that despite big data and ongoing digitalisation, the majority of organisations is still willing to invest money without being able to measure its ROI. To proof Henry Ford’s famous quote about misguided marketing spending wrong, it is inevitable to not only be brave enough to try new things (e.g. social media efforts are largely trial and error based) but to continuously work on defining bottom line relations to increase attributable marketing spendings to business results.

Some efforts to define the social media marketing ROI exist, such as MDG’s ROI of social media or the famous HBR blog about the calculation of a “like value” in Facebook but most efforts seem to lack consistency in measurement and a lack of bottom line integration. Engagement and conversation measures are being frequently reported and often lead to wild claims about social media campaign success with high reported engagement numbers, yet they too lack to correlate social media engagement to to bottom line results or business objectives. This is were the smart, engaged and eager marketer needs to start to employ digital metrics to track multivariate correlations and subsequently develop smart social media cause effect models.



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how much product choice is too much?

After having listened to Barry Schwartz TED talk (multiple times – if you haven’t CLICK HERE) as well as Dan Gilbert’s TED talk (if you haven’t – CLICK HERE) I couldn’t help it but observe how companies deal with the paradox of choice in a different manner.

From an economic perspective, increasing product choice, assumed costs can be controlled, should make a lot of sense. The economist trained mind thinks of course about a perfect world inhabited by an infinite number of homo oeconomicus, occupying an infinite number of price value points along the price curve, yet for one product class (perfect price discrimination). The marketer on the other hand, will join the discussion and argue that a finite number of heterogeneous target groups exist, displaying however homogeneous needs and wants (the basics of traditional segmentation). The mix of these two worlds is exemplified by Samsung; for the non-trained aspiring mobile phone customer, Samsung offers (at the time of writing) a staggering 145 different mobile phones. Note, this includes various carrier combinations. Switching over to TVs is even more confusing. One has to wonder, particularly after reading Schwarz’s books or listening to his talks, if brands are increasingly hurting themselves by increasing the number of product choices offered to consumers.

just a phone

According to Schwarz, increasing choice for humans lead to several negative effects but most of all a decrease in overall satisfaction which in itself sounds like a paradox, yet manifests itself in the following terms:

Opportunity cost of choice: the higher the number of options, the more attractive the 2nd, 3rd of nth option becomes to the consumer. In other words, with each option the value of opportunity costs increases until, in theory, it reaches a point of paralysed decision making.

Expectations increase: the more choice consumers’ perceive, the higher expectations become. The more unlikely however becomes, that set expectations will or can be met by the current product offering.

Doesn’t it also seem like a paradox to offer double digit product choices in one product category , assuming today’s stressed consumers have both the time and the drive to research product differences. Shouldn’t the smart marketer argue, that in the light of the ROPA effect (read here if you haven’t), diminishing cannibalisation of marketing efforts is hardly achieved with a complex and almost undistinguishable product portfolio? Is it still seen a sign of weakness in our society to reduce offering instead of enlarging the portfolio – after all, who wants to claim product offering declined under his or her reign?! Does it make sense to spread marketing budgets across +100 different product variances instead of focusing efforts to get one product message and positioning right? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to establish one dominant product design and then allow to establish alternative for price discrimination purposes instead of working the other way around: “let’s throw all we have and see what sticks the most – this will be our flagship product”?!

I argue that in the light of big data, marketers should increase their influence on the company’s product portfolio and not only emphasise on social listening post launch but also social rational pre launch.

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6 reasons why… forget it, this is just a funny ad from Adobe

Adobe claims a top spot in online advertising with their funny Super Bowl commercial (see below) and well, their “You can measure Social Media ROI ad”. In times of smart data (I still refrain from using the word big data to specify the use of data for decision making advantages), this should come as no surprise, yet as it seems, business schools (as I currently experience the no 1 ranked business school in Europe), marketers and organisations still avoid the ROI discussion and shift to the topic of online brand building. I particularly like how Adobe uses current stereotypical personas to play in their ads – which in my opinion should put 85% of today’s marketers (see their Super Bowl ad), advertising agencies and “consultants” to shame.


YouTube Preview Image


Adobe’s Super Bowl commercial… wondering who the “winner” is now:

YouTube Preview Image


As always, if you made it this far, check out the Adobe blog for more – worth a visit.

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3 steps to evolve your marketing from content to contextual

Over the last 2 years, the term content marketing has not only been coined but received wide acceptance within marketing circles. Content marketing became the new mantra to engage with customers on a wide array on both digital and traditional levels. Current studies show (link to a Marketing Prof’s article on B2C content marketing trends), that content marketing still receives great attention and for the most part, rightly so. As most studies confirm, over 85% of both B2C and B2B marketers keep or even increase their content marketing efforts in 2013 based on previous years budget spending.

The content marketing matrix, shines some light on the level of content marketing management possibilities but also highlights, that a very generic customer profiling is assumed.

content marketing matrix

Why is content marketing however becoming complacent with an overflow of content from all sides to a single consumer?

> Consumers follow less traditional funnel concepts but rely on multiple sources and a more diffuse buying decision making behaviour (see ZMOT by Google for some inspiration)

> Technology enables consumers to not just for ROPO (research offline / purchase online) but currently for RMPO (research mobile / purchase online) and RMPM (research mobile / purchase mobile)

> Influence of content to consumers decreases with the increasing emphasise placed on social sharing and social recommendation (e.g. great content marketing but 2 out 5 star rating)

How can a marketer deal with these changes in consumer purchasing behaviour and the increase of technology as enabler for new purchase decision making? 

1) Utilise digital data: with digital media in place, enabling big data to become smart data is easier than ever. It is however important to differentiate between wanting to know everything and being able to distill what is really important. Don’t get overwhelmed by the flow of data but control it!

2) Enable customer journey thinking: smart data allows you to follow single customers (don’t think stalking) but to determine their need at any given time. A housewife in Massachusetts using an Android based Smartphone might follow a different decision making journey than a college freshmen in San Francisco using a laptop in a coffee chain. Customers don’t want to be spammed with content but receive the right content at the right time. Banner blindness is not a sign of too much content but non-contextual content – just because I searched for a fridge doesn’t mean I want to see fridge banners for the coming two weeks.Don’t spam with content – be smart and enable customer’s to use it!

3) Less is more: Customer’s banner blindness, which served as an example for the increasing marketing message aversion, is just one example of content being misplaced, money and resources wasted. Follow the customer journey and anticipate in real time the needs and receptiveness of customers to your content. Use digital data to model the journey and most importantly track progress – add value to the customer journey but not noise. Use your budget wisely and at important decision making stages when the customer most heavily relies on external content to progress in his or her buying cycle.

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2012 Marketing take aways

2012 has undoubtedly been the year of Social Media with tv ads in the decrease, mobile and smartphone spikes, gangnam style hitting 1 BILLION hits on youtube, pinterest becoming popular, instagram being sold, Facebook going from high to low, Apple issuing its first apology, social election revival in the US, mobile advertising hitting new records and, and, and… The attached infographic from SEO Company and Nowsourcing does a pretty good job in summing up the 2012 year in social media.

However, 2012 has also been the year to question unthoughtful media spendings in new channels with GM exiting its Facebook engagement and companies shifting budgets from campaigns to owned & earned content marketing.

My 2012 take-aways:

  1. shift from campaign management to content marketing
  2. increase customer centricity by listening on all channels
  3. social media is not exclusive but inclusive – think multichannel marketing
  4. change customer engagements to incentive driven third party marketing (I expect this to grow in 2013ff)
  5. mobile and emerging technology cannot be longer ignored. The pace of technology diffusion has excelled in 2012 with changes in consumer adoption.
  6. B2B caught up (to some extent) with B2C but continues to struggle to find its role and rightful place in Digital Marketing.
  7. a savvy marketer does still have to think about target groups and how to best reach them – not every medium, despite its public sex appeal (e.g. Facebook) does lend itself to every marketing challenge.
  8. ROI, ROI, ROI – marketers still struggle to define the ROI of digital marketing – which comes as a surprised based on the big data advantage of digital compared to traditional.
  9. and so much more!


Happy new years to everybody and see you all in 2013! 

Social Media Review 2012

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B2B content marketing trends in 2013 & upcoming challenges

According to a recent study by Content Marketing Institute, a little more than half of all surveyed B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing spending in 2013. This result almost mirrors the B2C oriented study and shows a clear trend of the increasing importance of content marketing across organisations.

B2B content marketing expected spending

B2B content marketing expected spending


















Another promising development is the ongoing trend of B2B marketers, likewise to their B2C colleagues, to acknowledge the importance of content creation by gradually increasing in-house content creation efforts over outsources efforts. A trend which in my eyes is an inevitable step to create ownership, necessary processes and content creation experience. Contradicting this notion is however a slight increase in content marketing challenges, particularly in the category “producing enough content”.

Content Marketing Challenges

Content Marketing Challenges
























B2B organisations are rich of quality content, the crux for every marketer is however to unlock this content from Key Account Managers, R&D folks, manufacturing partners, field engineers and top management. It is not impossible, but for many organisations, the years relying on external partners for content creation meant these necessary internal relations haven’t been built up to now capitalise upon.

Take on the challenge for 2013 to make B2C content sexy and engaging:

> Acknowledge the richness of content in B2B! Content doesn’t just have to be consumer stories in the earned media category – it is unlikely that your heavy machinery customer will post a picture of him and his new crane to your Facebook channel, however asking him in person for an experience interview changes things dramatically! Most often you will find open customers who are as emotionally connected to their products or work like your B2C counterpart’s mobile user.

> Be a tactician! As with customers, the same applies to your own R&D and sales guys. It is very unlikely that they will knock on your door and ask you to write an article about their work or achievements; but there are surely some out there who are more outspoken or who like to glow in their own glory. Perfect – use them as forerunners. Creating a competitive environment by adding a section “success stories” to your publication will spark drive and challenge others to showcase their success in similar ways. It doesn’t happen over night but with patience this will lead to great success and a pipe full of publishing ready content.

> Measure everything! Use digital tools to measure the results of your content creation efforts. Show the time customers have spent reading or accessing various channels and show it in a dramatic fashion. 50% of your content creation efforts will be spent internally, as shown above, on your colleagues or even superiors to market the content marketing idea to them. See them as your audience which is easier won by strong use cases than shallow marketing jargon, especially in B2B.

> Be a risk taker! Content marketing has to be engaging otherwise it doesn’t show effects and or results as planned. Don’t just rely on content marketing tactics that you are familiar with such as blogs, websites, case studies or whitepapers. Think outside of the box and look for the sexy new thing such as mobile and gamification. Don’t let Kodak style content marketing efforts fool you – not everything B2C marketers do leads to a great ROI apart from its sexy look to outsiders. Try to think of other tactics as use cases, why no gamify content creation internally or run a best product in use picture with customer’s field engineers? Applying tactics to the B2B world is easier as it seem but the sale internally can be hard and daunting. Be prepared for that and create a lot of small use cases for new tactics – these will help to convince superiors and colleagues of new tactics and ease the approval process.

> Use your own organisation as testing ground! Over the years, my most critical yet most rewarding audience was internal. Every employee in your organisation is waiting to be engaged, more in B2B than ever imagined. They won’t take anything for granted nor jump on every campaign or effort coming from marketing but if you manage to convince this audience, everything else will be a piece of cake. Furthermore, this will provide you with a richness of feedback (mostly critical) which helps to learn and avoid mistakes in the outside world.

> Have fun! I have seen and meet many B2B colleagues who were nothing but worked up in what I would call sales support (that is updating brochures, organising exhibitions etc). Working in technically oriented organisations doesn’t come with the same audience and or work environment as in B2C but that doesn’t mean you and your team cannot have fun. Create a driving environment for ideas, host internal creative brainstorming sessions, have regular team retreats to come up with new tactics, go to conferences and speeches to learn from colleagues, competitors and even off the grid B2C marketers.

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the Kodak “social” media moment

Kodak, despite its financial struggles over the last couple of years (more here), has emerged as the golden child of social media. With 29 dedicated Facebook pages (overview on Kodak’s website), various dedicated Kodak owned blogs, twitter, flickr, google+ and youtube profiles (summary here), Kodak is actively engaging with consumers and prospects.

Kodak FB Page Screenshot

Kodak’s CMO, Jeff Hayzlett, has been very outspoken in the media about Kodak’s strong social media engagement, not just by publishing Kodak’s own social media tip booklet, but by detailing Kodak’s belief to grow its brand and thus, in theory, its market return.


How much is a Facebook like worth?

It can be hardly argued that Kodak’s social media efforts were of shortsighted nature and or didn’t reach consumers, yet sales fell short in almost every product category Kodak serves, multiple quarters in a row. One could of course argue about operational and or product inefficiencies at Kodak (e.g. the constant decline since Kodak’s $ 10 billion sales in 1981 through its struggle with the digital disruption in its markets), yet sales is what ultimately matters and this is were Kodak’s social media engagement seems to fall short.


Can you convert fans, likes, followers into buyers?

Most articles, blogs, books and papers argue to convert followers into sales by promoting follower specific sales incentives, apply like gates (e.g. you can only access certain content by liking a site) and various other methods. Unfortunately, Kodak has applied almost any of them. Kodak has been highly engaged with its followers, listened to conversations, offered specials, had consumer specific content areas and even filtered consumers into product niches to allow for highly relevant content. Based on this, one can continue to argue Kodak’s mediocre and lagging innovativeness in the digital image space is a major factor to let sales slip further downwards.


The Kodak Moment of Truth:

1) Social Media can hardly make up for a lack of product innovation. If you have 1000 fans but no product, you can impossible start to convert fans into sales. In other words, don’t over-promise but under-deliver (as it seems, traditional marketing lessons learnt do still hold true).

2) Listening to consumers is reactive, sometimes a company might need to be proactive (especially in new product development – taking lead times into account)

3) A like is worth nothing if you file for bankruptcy: this is probably the most important lesson to be learnt here! When a business is going fine, a like can be calculated in any way you want because you can actually afford to spend resources thinking about the value of a like. Most likely you will also have to spend resources to justify the resource expenditures in the first place, which is why you come up with this calculation in most cases. In a situation in which the very existence of a company is in jeopardy, all creative like value calculations come however down to one simple point: conversion. Can you or can you not convert your likes into sales.


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How to truly digitalise your digital marketing

Most marketing efforts these days, digital marketing efforts that is, are based on multichannel strategies, applying social media strategies to traditional marketing problems in a more or less planned fashion. What many companies miss so far is however to adapt their data mining efforts from pure web analytics to modern day digital intelligence frameworks.

As shown by Forrester Research, the evolution of digital intelligence has surpassed data mining efforts and moved on to close the gap between today’s multiple customer touch-points and the company’s intelligence frameworks.

Evolution of Digital Intelligence

Evolution of Digital Intelligence

Why haven’t companies moved on or benefited from Digital Intelligence frameworks?

For starters, digital intelligence surpasses web marketing efforts not only by complexity but also by the lack of reporting simplicity based on the sheer amount of data at one’s hand. Many marketing departments and agencies do lack the manpower to deal with this new flow of data in both quantity and quality.

The paradox of choice comes in second. Digital data is almost infinite and real time. A day however remains at 24 hours and the human capacity to deal with data complexity hasn’t changed either. Thus selecting data sets of importance is still an issue many marketers face to create meaningful data reports to drive – and that is the most important part – change!

Silo thinking prevails! Even if marketing has moved on and implemented the most efficient, tactical and real time digital intelligence framework ever seen by mankind, does that mean sales, R&D and the rest of the organisation’s top management are likely to change directions based on marketing’s new stream of data reportings? Unlikely!

The 6 steps to implementing a functioning Digital Intelligence framework:

1) Understand your companies business model and strategy! Data mining, intelligence and reports are great but only if they track and measure the right metrics to help intelligent management decision making to drive the company forward to reaching its set goals.

2) Define a set of relevant KPI’s! KPI’s are indicator’s for what has been defined as a state of success of advancement. If you end up with a list of 50 relevant KPI’s – think it over and start again. For many organisations anything from 5-10 is most likely enough at this level.

3) Derive measures to track your progress! Divide these measures into lead and lag measures to not shift from pure historical data mining effort to a framework to enable educated management decision making. E.g it is great to know that in the last quarter 7% of your customers have increased their mobile spendings but it might be to late to prepare your backend to handle the change in customer spent! The more meaningful lead measures, the more enjoyable lag reporting you will have.

4) Get other managers on board! This could well be step number 1 or even step 0 before you start any effort. Knowing key decision makers and influencers in your organisation will help to drive a high key implementation of a customer centric digital intelligence system. Product development needs to be as much on board as your sales teams, in-house support and other departments.

5) Built meaningful reporting and not an all in one dashboard! With all the world’s data at your hands, select data sets that are relevant to key decision making processes. This data will also help to get others on board and built up use cases. Less is more!

6) Revise your data handling efforts! Assure your data sets are flawless, protected and up to all legal data handling standards within your area of operation. The last thing you want is a disgruntled intern to blog your new most valuable assets for a few clicks, likes and big open eyes of your competition.






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5 notable differences between Apple and your brand

This blog post might become a little humorous at times, yet in the Post Jobs’ Apple Mania, it is worth to look at some of the difference of Apple and your brand to not fall into the Apple-wanna be trap.

  1. You are not Apple! This is probably the most obvious one. You can of course dress up in black turtlenecks, run around with an ipad all day and start naming your own products iSOMETHING, yet you are still not Apple. Make peace with this fact. The sooner you get it over with, the easier your life will become. Seriously, I have seen this happen (in real life; and no, I am not drunk).
  2. Simplicity! every 5 year old can explain the difference between an iPhone and iPad. Apple sells high-tech nicely designed electronic consumer products built around a very smart and far reaching closed eco-system which Apple controls. If you do sell tractors, sewing machines or the world’s most advanced vacuum cleaner, you are still not going to get the hype of Apple BUT, start to learn from Apple’s early days. Keep it simple and focus on the important things – your customer. Have you ever tried to buy a suitcase from a well known US suitcase manufacturer? If you just look at one of their product lines (let’s say check-in hardside luggage), what is the difference between these various models? For the fun of proving my point, I have visited various retail stores and asked for the difference of products and which item would most likely suite my needs of frequent long distance travel. 5 stores, 8 answers, 10 models and a confused customer. If that is you – you are not Apple! Ask your accountant to explain your product portfolio – if he fails, your customers are likely to fail as well and worst case, drive of their buying decision. It sometimes help to put on the customer hat and look at your product and service offering from the outside – little changes can have big impacts!
  3. Aspiration! The Iphone5 has made it to the top of all headlines like no other, but Apple, product in history. Many critiques embarked on rants and raves about Apple losing it’s edge against their main smartphone competition based on pure tech-specs. You judge for yourself, but the same seemingly underdesigned, underequipped and sluggish product sold out within 1 hour and is expected to sell 58m times in the remainder of 2012 which equals roughly $36billion in sales. Since Apple has already sold 8m units in hour 1 of day 1, this number might actually become reality. Aspirational marketing or emotional brand values are the strongest link between a brand and its consumer. No tech-spec could ever come close in the short term and beat the strong emotional link of a brand and its fanboys :-)
  4. Reach! Apple’s iPhone launch reaches about as many people as the US election over a period of one year (measured globally). In other words, unlike very few other brands on this planet (most notably some game franchises), it is highly unlikely that you will have such an unordinary brand or message reach – especially on a seemingly organic level. Thousands of bloggers post clips and stories about every little detail of an Apple product. In most cases, private youtube channels are better marketing efforts than Apple’s ads themselves. Since you are not Apple and you have made peace with it (if not, go back to no1), think about effective ways to reach your target audience. You might have to repeat messages to position your brand or product in your customers’ minds. Be creative in your channel selection and messaging and don’t copy. “Light luggage – the biggest thing that happened to luggage since the luggage” won’t cut it for you!
  5. Credible uniques! With the exception of a few glitches, Apple has staid very true to its brand values for a very long time. If you have followed the Apple history, these values have been ingrained by the founding team over the years and of course fostered under a very exotic and charismatic lead-character. Find this unique and yet credible style for your brand. I have been in many meetings in which a sales VP has pulled out and ad from some organisation he liked, mostly for personal reasons, and asked to have it copied. This won’t help to create a unique look and feel or character for your brand. Be yourself, find or define the core and stick to it. This might be the only differentiation you have in your market; also, this might be the differentiation your employees need to form a relation with your brand and be outspoken (positively) about it.
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How contagious is your marketing (network)?

Network sciences has long worked to establish theorems about the spread of connections (edges) between network participants (verteces or nods) which is a prerequisite for the spread for a contagion through the network. Some of the most known work in this field includes of course Milgram’s 1967 study of social networks, or the small world problem, in the US (which resulted in the six degree of separation theory – some read up here).


So what does this all mean for marketers? 

The spread of information (content marketing) is largely influenced through 2 factors:

1) the contagious itself, e.g. the relevancy, attractiveness of your content marketing to the target group. This has been covered in numerous articles which are readily available online.

2) the network structure, e.g. the size of the connected component or in other words, the reach each individual within your accessible target group has. The interesting point to mention here is to find heavily connected users, or multipliers, which are likely to spread your marketing content within their network. We can think of it this way, if you market to a very fragmented low cluster target group the viral effect (to use this buzz word at least once) of spreading your content is very low due to the network structure and almost independent of the contagious or your marketing content. The outcome is obvious, highly fragmented marketing spend to cover the reach needed for the target group at hand. If however, you target to a highly clustered (or maybe even highly fragmented) target group, finding multipliers or vertexes with high number of edges becomes essential in increasing the information spread, building upon network effects and keeping your budget to a minimum (increasing your ROI). An visual example for this is looking at your friend’s facebook profiles. Surely somebody has 500 or 1000 friends. He or she would be your strong multiplier, even though all other friends might have only 20 on average. The likelihood of having one large structure due to the multipliers within your network is therefore quite high.


So what?

It thus pays off to analyze your target audience based on the inherent network structure in order to build a meaningful marketing plan for both reach effectiveness and budget optimization. A good indication of your network structure is of course knowing the average friends your network has (yet large connected components can form through multipliers yet again, e.g. a friend of a friend has many friends and thus connects two or more of your target group clusters). It becomes of course more interesting when talking about the spread of information in social networks, thus digital marketing in a social media context. This is something I will cover in a further post.


For all nerd marketers:

Click this link to get to Northwestern University’s ‘Virus on a Network’ simulator. By changing the degree number to 4 (all other regulators set to minimum, virus spread to 10%) you will notice that you almost infect or in our case reach the entire network. Keep in mind that this network simulator was created to visualize viral spread on a randomly created network with obedience based on the user’s settings. Interesting to observe is the difference between 3 and 4 degrees. With a setting on 4 degrees, almost the entire network is infected or reached (given the linear probability of infection or reach as in our case).

Northwestern University Virus in a Network simulator

Northwestern University Virus in a Network simulator



This link will let you simulate the growth of networks (building upon the Erdös Renyi Model). Really cool, especially to see the spike when approaching factor 1 happen (see below).

Network Simulator

Network Simulator

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