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January 29, 2008

The Nuts and Bolts of Mobile Marketing

iphonescreenshot.jpgWith more and more IT buyers accessing content on mobile devices such as iPhones, Blackberries and Palms, IT marketers need to turn their eyes toward the future and figure out how to run mobile marketing lead generation campaigns. Already, 64% of IT decision makers view electronic content on mobile devices - that means that 2 out of 3 people that are reading your eNewsletters and email marketing messages are potentially doing so on their mobile screens.

According to the Mobile Marketing Association's white paper, Understanding Mobile Marketing: Technology & Research (May, 2007), there are several factors that need to be considered when launching a mobile marketing campaign that are not relevant when launching traditional email marketing campaigns.

1. How large is your audience - how many people have handsets that support the technology used in your campaign?

2. Have other companies in your market used mobile technology in their marketing campaigns? What worked and what didn't work at all?

3. What kinds of limitations do you face in implementing your campaign? Are there technical limitations? Is the average mobile screen large enough for your creative content to be effective?

4. Do you have partners that can assist you with a mobile marketing campaign? Are there new partnerships you will need to establish for your campaign to be a success?

5. What is your projected Return-on-Investment? Does the cost justify the benefits of running a mobile campaign?

These are just a few of the key points that the Mobile Marketing Association suggests you consider before you place all of your resources into a mobile marketing campaign. Find out more by downloading their white paper here, and make sure you consider the ins and outs of this quickly emerging market before you launch a mobile marketing campaign.

-BH

January 23, 2008

What is Engagement Marketing?

According to Wikipedia, Engagement Marketing campaigns elicit consumer participation in the evolution of a brand, and stimulate users to be actively involved in the production and co-creation of marketing programs. By encouraging the consumer to act and comment on your blog, submit a product review to your site, chat with your online sales team or join your web-based community, you stimulate the consumer's desire to participate in your marketing programs.

Once your consumers are participating in your marketing programs, they begin to feel more connected to your company and often remain loyally involved with your brand. A great example of engagement marketing can be seen in the popular Fox TV show American Idol. By asking audience members and at-home viewers to vote each week for their favorite contestants, the show has created an engaged audience that feels connected to the contestants and keeps tuning in to find out if "their" contestants are going to win.

Online social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn also illustrate successful engagement marketing initiatives. In order to be a part of these networks, users must take the initiative to sign-up, create detailed profiles, and connect with friends, co-workers or other like-minded individuals. Once a user is part of these communities, they have opportunities to write blogs, upload photos, join niche-communities, share recommendations, and keep building their networks. And while social networking communities differ from traditional marketing ventures (in that users tend to join for networking or entertainment purposes as opposed to joining for educational reasons like they do with sites such as the Web Buyer's Guide), they still receive and respond to marketing messages while engaged with the sites.

In order to attract and retain customers, IT marketers need to reach out and offer more ways for their users to actively participate in their marketing efforts. While not all IT marketing efforts need to include Engagement Marketing strategies to be successful, there is a need to create more options that allow users to meaningfully connect with your brand, and engage with your message while they educate themselves about your products and services.

Check out what IBM is doing to engage their users on their "Executive Interaction Channel" that is part of the widely publicized IBM Innovation campaign.

January 18, 2008

Score a Lead, Build a Relationship

Recently I have been stressing the importance of becoming a "trusted partner" to your leads by providing them with a steady stream of informative and educational content that matches their needs according to their place in the IT buying process. If you can reach your users without using sales pitches (especially once they've become a lead), than you can appeal to their needs, on their terms and build your relationships with potential buyers over time.

Relationship building is crucial to cultivating leads, especially those that are relatively "cold." By reaching out to your C and D leads, you start to build brand-recognition and integrate yourself into your leads' research processes. By approaching your A and B leads in a more aggressive manner, you recognize that they are closer to making decisions and may be swayed according to the content you can provide.

There are different ways to nurture leads once they've been scored, and automated lead scoring systems can help you define your parameters and set your lead nurturing strategies in to motion. Perhaps you can program your lead nurturing efforts to automatically deliver new messages to leads that fit certain criteria and have been in your sales pipeline for longer than x months. Or consider that when scoring leads you could design your system to automatically move leads up or down levels according to their age, the number of times they have engaged with your content, and the types of content they have accessed.

Lead scoring does more than let your sales team know which leads are ready to make sales and which leads are cold. By combining a well-developed lead scoring system with an automated and carefully tailored lead nurturing program, you can use technology to help you reach out to your leads and start building relationships. It's crucial that you build and nurture relationships with all of your prospects, and the process of scoring leads before you start building those relationships can help you understand the needs of your leads before you try to satisfy them.

-BH

January 15, 2008

Innovate for Change

If you want to remain competitive in the IT lead generation industry, you have to go beyond your current lead generation practices and develop new tools that help you do your job. Approach your business with an open mind and consider what new medias and technologies can be leveraged to market enterprise technology on the Internet.

In the past few years we have increased the kinds of content that are acceptable in IT lead generation campaigns, as well as the types of media that can be used when creating content. While white papers have been used for years to generate leads, it's only been relatively recently that you could download a podcast of that white paper, or watch the same information presented as a webinar.

How do you want to receive your online research? It's easy enough to think that eNewsletters and email marketing messages are the cheapest, most efficient ways to generate leads - but do users still want their content delivered in that manner? Is it possible to create a site where your marketing messages could be tailored to each user (according to how they fill out your registration forms) and delivered via text message, instant message, RSS feed, blog entries or via email? And if content could be delivered in these ways, are there as-of-yet undiscovered methods that will work better?

It's time to take a hard look at the products you use in your lead generation campaigns and determine if there's more that could be done to optimize your lead generation. Be an agent of change within your organization and look outside of your current policies towards new medias, new content types and new content delivery methods.

-BH

January 07, 2008

What IT Marketers Can Learn from Guitar Hero

If you have teenagers in your life, chances are good that you've heard of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock - this year's hot video game that lets you play along to a catalog packed with legendary classic rock and heavy metal tunes. When you play Guitar Hero III, you can personalize your very own rock star with clothes, various guitars and the songs you want to perform. You can even pick rock legends to jam out against - such as Slash, the former lead guitarist from Guns N' Roses.

So what does Guitar Hero III have to do with IT Marketing and lead generation?

At first glance it would appear that the two have nothing in common. IT Marketers are looking to reach a niche audience of highly informed technology buyers while Guitar Hero III appeals to teenagers who have time to hang out and perfect their guitar solos. In looking a little deeper however, it appears that IT Marketers could actually learn a lot from the game.

For starters, Guitar Hero III allows players to personalize their gaming experience. The makers of Guitar Hero III - Activision, have learned that people respond to technology when they can make it do what they want it to do. They let players change their rock stars' clothes, and reward them with virtual money so they can buy new accessories as they get better at the game.

While IT Marketers may not be able to market technology with flashy outfits and expensive instruments, we can allow our users to personalize their experiences while they are researching technology on our Websites. By offering users their own "pages" on our sites, we allow them to create their own research environment. If users are given choices - in what they see when they log-in to our sites, in how their personalized pages are designed, and as to the content that appears on their pages, they are going to feel more connected with the Website.

Personalization is a powerful tool that is driving all kinds of technology - when we're able to give our users what they want, they'll keep coming back for more. Let your users express themselves in your space, and pretty soon your space becomes their space. Once you can transform your space into your users' space, you'll have an audience that's out there waiting for what you have to offer.

-BH