This is a guest post by entrepreneur Jason Garoutte
It’s hard to be a marketer these days. Even when we carefully craft a message and follow best practices, 99 percent of our attempts can still fall on deaf ears. Are there any other professions where 1 percent is considered good?
I talk to Sales and Marketing leaders every day. Nobody ever says they’ve got enough pipeline. But where can they go for more? Email marketing and pay-per-click both show declining ROI, and many marketers have already invested to the point of diminishing returns. This year the answer seems to be Marketing Automation, and indeed this can add a flow of leads over time. But what if you don’t have time to wait? Today’s marketers need shortcuts through the funnel.
The good news is that shortcuts are possible, and it all comes down to smart use of data. The key skill for marketers to develop over the next two years is the ability to synthesize data. Thanks in part to the rise of social networks, companies and people share more about themselves than ever before.
In this publicly available data, there are gems that can determine targeting, messaging, and personalization. Using data like this is no different from what a good sales rep does, except that a sales rep searches manually using sources like websites and LinkedIn. Marketers need to scale this research for an audience of thousands or millions.
No matter how a marketer sources leads, a little data can propel leads through the funnel. Even if you’re not ready for “big data” tools and predictive analytics, you can still find impressive shortcuts with a bit of intuition and elbow grease.
My top tip to marketers: don’t boil the ocean. Very few marketers have access to data scientists for data mining. So don’t seek to create your own giant database — it will just go stale before you benefit. Instead, be pragmatic and look for quick wins.
Here are three ideas that work from my recent experience.
- Use data to find a specific business need
Just a few years ago, the state of the art in targeting was to select four dimensions: industry, size, geography and title. I don’t know about you, but for my company, there is no SIC code that buckets our prospects. Every business is unique, and your prospects have unique needs. So why not search for those unique needs? Forget SIC codes and look at employees titles. You can find these in job openings on websites and job boards. You can look at titles on LinkedIn and Jigsaw.
- Tailor content for “micro-segments”
If you write a different story for prospects that already use your competitor, you can emphasize the benefits of swapping. It’s s a great way to establish immediacy and relevance. It also shows that you’ve done your homework. I’ve seen campaigns double response rates by taking an existing email template and tweaking it for the customers of different competitors.
- Personalize the script with relevant data
Starting an email with the recipient’s first name hardly qualifies as personalization. Real personalization shows that you know something meaningful. If the recipient doesn’t feel special, then you haven’t personalized.
A marketing automation tool, like Marketo or Eloqua, offers dynamic fields in an email to plug in information and start a true product conversation. With this precision, you can create personalized campaigns that are very relevant to each recipient. In summary, these are exciting times for marketers.
Jason Garoutte is the CMO and GM of Mintigo, which operates a demand generation platform that uses predictive analytics to help marketers find and engage prospects. Prior to joining Mintigo, he worked as a vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.