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Archive for September, 2010


OK, now let’s talk about how to accelerate a data warehousing and analytics project for customer and marketing insight. IBM offers 3 “packages” for exactly this type of situation, two of which apply to the topic of customers and marketing campaigns:

• InfoSphere Warehouse Pack for Customer Insight: The Customer Insight Pack enables organizations to gather, organize and leverage all relevant info about current customers, bringing you closer to your customers, faster.

• InfoSphere Warehouse Pack for Market and Campaign Insight: The Market and Campaign Insight Pack enables organizations to gather, organize and leverage all relevant info about the overall market and how to acquire new customers.

• InfoSphere Warehouse Pack for Supply Chain Insight: The Supply Chain Insight Pack enables organizations to gather, organize and leverage all relevant info about your organization’s supply chain and associated performance.

IBM InfoSphere Warehouse Packs

These Packs contain physical data models and sample reports based on specific business issues that drastically reduce data warehousing project time, deployment cost and risk. Every organization should consider getting to their customers more intimately, be able to identify their most profitable customer segments, who is most likely to respond to marketing offers, and of course, which customer segment not to waste precious time, effort and money with. And, every organization should be able to quantify and qualify marketing campaign responses to understand what works and what does not. More info can be obtained here: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/infosphere/warehouse/packs/

For anyone with a new project on the horizon, or an existing project just getting under way, please feel free to tune into a webcast tomorrow, Tuesday Sept 28 at 12:00 noon Eastern.

WEBINAR: Data Warehouse Packages: Quick, Mature, and Extensible

Speakers: Philip Russom (TDWI) and Larry Weber (IBM)

Prior to the event, go to this URL: http://tdwi.org/webcasts/2010/09/data-warehouse-packages-quick-mature-and-extensible.aspx?tc=page0

After the webinar, please feel free to check out IBM white papers, podcasts, etc. on the TDWI web site: http://tdwi.org/microsites/solutionsgateway/ibm/ibm.aspx

or here: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/infosphere/data-warehousing/

OK, I think that wraps up a nice three part series on customer, sales and marketing analytics, and a set of data models and reports (Packs) from IBM that help speed up warehousing and analytics projects.

Next (I believe), I am going to dive into some industry specific applications of warehousing and analytics. Stay tuned….

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To follow up on my last post about sales and marketing analytics, I’d like to make a couple comments about what I hear as the “state of affairs” in marketing analytics.  And, I would really love to hear comments from readers about your personal experiences in marketing analytics!!

There are several clear trends in the marketing realm:      

  1. Increasing fragmentation of audiences – The marketplace is getting smarter, more focused on what they want to learn about and buy, more selective on what they want to hear, and more difficult to reach with meaningful marketing messages.
  2. There are many more ways to communicate to this fragmented marketplace – The Internet and mobile devices have changed this for ever, and they continue to gain momentum.
  3. Marketing cost is increasing – If not in direct dollars spent on advertising, certainly when you add in the amount of resources needed for web sites, online communication vehicles, traditional awareness and lead progression tactics, etc., the cost of reaching qualified prospects is indeed rising.
  4. Metrics and measurements are harder – With so many options available, changing messages, shortened value proposition life cycles, diverse management expectations on what the marketing dept. delivers to the business, and the challenge of measuring “influence,” it’s no wonder that this is not easy.
How can Larry slay this multi-headed dragon?

OK, let’s summarize…market fragmentation, proliferation of media choices, increasing cost to get to the fragmented market, and more difficult to find meaningful ROI.  But…the amount of measurable data we have today dwarfs just a few years ago and the amount of computing power we have to make sense of it all has certainly increased…so why is it so hard to measure ROI?  How do you slay that dragon?      

Well, I believe there are five fundamental reasons:      

  1. Marketers often do not have the right data (results and cost) or don’t trust what they have.  Inconsistent or incomplete data from individual marketing activities is the norm.  Comparing and reconciling data across marketing channels is not always easy – is attendance at a live seminar the same as attendance at an online webinar, and is a response to email marketing treated the same as a click from a blog posting to get more information?  How do you collect “influence” data – where one prospect attends a webinar, then comes to a live event, then downloads a white paper, then comes to another live event…do you retain each touch as influence, or do you select one touch as the tactic that created the lead?  And on the cost side, do you keep track of the cost of each marketing activity, marry that with results, and do ROI analysis?  Cost/lead, cost/qualified lead, cost/sale, revenue/cost, etc.
  2. They don’t have the right analytical tools to effectively measure marketing effectiveness and ROI.  Most use basic reporting applications and/or excel spreadsheets to analyze data from their CRM system.  Few truly exploit the full analytical capabilities of data warehousing and analytics applications.
  3. Marketing messaging and programs change too frequently.  Many marketing departments, especially in large companies, have unclear marketing messages going out to market on too many products and not enough solution messaging, and/or they have too many marketing programs, and/or they change messaging and value proposition too frequently.  Measurement does take time, and if marketing changes too frequently, then even the right tools and the right data may be rendered useless – outdated.
  4. Marketing staff is limited.  Many marketing departments have cut staff in recent years and simply do not have the bandwidth to study and learn from marketing data.  Often, marketing analytics is performed by marketing operations, and tough economic times may limit these resources.  The impact, however, is that the product marketing managers and market managers do not get the data they need to fully understand the effectiveness of  what they are doing.  Argh!!
  5. And finally, many marketers simply do not have the right skills.  Indeed, few are well versed in both historical traditional marketing methods and the new online marketing techniques, and even fewer possess the business skills to analyze, understand and make the right decisions across all marketing channels.

Piercing the veil of darkness....

 

OK, let’s summarize that topic…marketers need the right data, the right tools, consistent marketing programs to measure, the bandwidth to measure it…and the skill set to know all the above.  Better and timely decisions can be made about target audience, message, media and so on…if only we knew what works and what doesn’t.  Marketers need to be a genius, or a wise owl able to see through the darkness!!      

In this ever-interesting space of data warehousing and analytics, technical or IT focus is clearly placed on the right data and the right tools, and if the DW/BI projects are properly supported, planned and executed, the marketing staff would have the bandwidth and business acumen to properly analyze marketing effectiveness as well as gain insight into the impact of changing marketing messages.      

Marketing effectiveness and ROI begins and ends with analytics.       

 

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Actionable insights from sales and marketing data lead to sustained business growth. 
 
Within any business, there is a plethora of sales and marketing data available, and more being created every day.
 
The question is: Will you be ready to use all this data for a better understanding of your business? Do you know your target markets? Will you be able to segment your new database lists according to key customer criteria to maximize your response rates? Is one list better than another? How many new leads will you create? How much revenue will you get? Do you have enough marketing leads to keep your sales force busy? Is your sales force effective in progressing qualified opportunities into closed sales? Can you predict your sales revenue this month? Next month?

These questions and many more haunt every marketer for every campaign that they design, plan and execute. The bottom line for marketers is: Leads create qualified opportunities which are fed into the sales channels to drive revenue.  

This blog post tells a real life story about how the right marketing and sales data and analysis can lead to substantial business results. It can apply to almost any business. In today’s world, new offerings in data warehousing and analytics can make this effort easier and more complete. Especially with offerings such as the IBM InfoSphere Warehouse, IBM InfoSphere MDM and Information Integration, IBM Cognos BI, the IBM Smart Analytics System and the IBM InfoSphere Warehouse Pack for Customer Insight. These offerings would provide the infrastructure that I did not have…see the end of the post for more information.  

When I worked as VP of Marketing for a small software company several years ago, I realized that I could not answer any of these questions truthfully or accurately. When I came on board, I had no marketing processes to follow, no customer data, no marketing effectiveness data, no sales pipeline or sales effectiveness data, etc., the list goes on.  

Larry in an ocean of sales & marketing data.

 

 So, the first thing I did was to study our existing customers and sales activities. By investing time with both inside and outside sales leaders, I was able to see first hand what our customers were interested in, and what they responded to through email, phone conversations and face to face meetings. To my surprise, and to the surprise of our President and CEO, customers were interested in a different set of features, functions and business uses than what we were touting. That revelation kicked off an unexpected urgent project to fix our messaging and content – all web content, marketing materials and sales presentations were overhauled to focus first on business use cases and benefits, then technical capabilities, and finally on various ROI scenarios to demonstrate tangible value to new prospects. We tested and then implemented our new marketing materials as quickly as we could. Our marketing and sales materials were now effective. And sales increased ever so slightly. (More on this later…)Studying our sales activities spawned another unexpected project – improving our internal sales processes. I found that different sales reps used different criteria to validate, qualify and advance prospects, resulting in the most frustrating sales/marketing/executive interlock meetings ever – no one could tell our execs how many deals were real nor what revenue we expected to close this month or next. So, I developed real, tangible and written guidelines for sales stage status and progression, and spent a considerable amount of time educating and working with every sales person. Yes, at first they were afraid we were going to use the new measurements to evaluate their personal performance to decide who stays and who goes. But that was not our purpose.We helped each sales rep clean up their pipeline, categorize their opportunities according to our new criteria, and then showed them how to analyze their pipeline to see where they needed to focus – e.g. lead qualification, sales progression, closing techniques, etc. In the process, we also developed good educational content and guidelines to help the reps address the majority of pipeline situations so they could become better sales people. And we created a set of pipeline reports that gave us clear insight into pipeline, sales progression and results – overall, by rep, by region, by sales stage, etc. Through this process, the sales reps learned how to proactively manage their individual pipelines, and do it consistently and accurately across the entire sales force. Our CRM system was now feeding us data that we could trust! Wonders never cease!  

Sales pipeline analysis and charts.

 

 Now, with good marketing materials and a solid and consistent sales process, it was time to address the marketing issues. You see, good marketing materials do NOT produce good leads. Good marketing materials in the hands of QUALIFIED PROSPECTS produce good leads. The question I had to answer was: Exactly, who is a qualified prospect? I went back to my sales analysis for some insight here, and combined that with market and competitor information that I was learning. I created an initial market segmentation, which I’ll summarize as: Product #1: System Administrators, and Product #2: Developers and QA. I created a second level of segmentation along industry lines based on the mission critical nature of core servers and applications – the more mission critical the better for us. And a third segmentation based on the size of company, and a fourth segmentation based on platform and programming language. Our “best” qualified prospect became: Product #1: System Administrators and Application Support in upper mid-market to enterprise companies in 4 key industries where the cost of downtime is very high; and Product #2: Developers and QA in small, mid-market and low-end enterprises in 6 key industries developing on a Microsoft, Linux or AIX platform.  

With this knowledge in hand, I was able to have better and deeper conversations with my database list brokers. By better educating them on exactly who we wanted to target, they were able to segment their database lists more accurately. The result for me – fewer contacts to purchase to drive my “marketing machine,” or from a business perspective, lower marketing costs and higher response rates to fill the sales pipeline with qualified leads.  

Oh, side note on the “marketing machine.” There was no marketing machine…initially. I had to create this as well. At the time I joined the company, they did a very small amount of email marketing (back when this was relatively new and produced decent results), some advertising in developer journals, a few trade shows and some telemarketing outsourcing (expensive!). But they didn’t know which sales leads came from which marketing source, so they had no clue what was effective or a complete waste of time, effort and money.  

In parallel of developing the sales process guidelines, I also developed a set of marketing process guidelines and metrics so we could measure what we needed to measure. Campaign codes were created based on marketing channel and specific tactic (for historical activities as well as all future activities), and our CRM system was modified to record the info we needed on campaign codes. I should also say here that to the best of our abilities, we worked with sales to identify the marketing source of each existing pipeline opportunity. We didn’t get all existing opportunities classified, but we certainly got the majority. Took quite a bit of time, but very valuable.  

OK, now on to testing and measuring the effectiveness of our marketing activities. Let’s talk first about database lists (the topic that spawned this post) and email marketing. With well articulated criteria and knowing that I would be using an effective measurement system, my database list brokers fed me lists from the very best of their sources. I created a number of email campaigns and used different codes to identify both list source and the key marketing message that I wanted to test on that audience. Boom, boom, boom, we pulled the trigger on a number of emails, and we quickly started to see responses come back.  

Uh oh…we got more responses than I expected, and more than our inside sales team could handle. Sales revenue started to decline. The first thing we did was to take a deeper look at the ‘trusted’ sales pipeline data and sales activities. We could clearly see that inside sales is now spending proportionally more time on new lead follow up and less time on progressing and closing qualified opportunities – something we could have never seen in a million years without good sales data. So, I hired a couple inside email response and telemarketing people to help us handle the response volume up front and free inside sales to focus on progression and closing. Again, from the sales activity reporting, we could clearly and quickly see the positive impact of the new “pre-inside” sales team. Sales revenue started to climb.  

This spawned another new thought – what if we could off load other lead follow up activities from inside sales to the new telemarketing team. The idea was to use the pre-inside sales team to qualify leads, and use the higher skills of inside sales to only do sales progression and closing. We could also eliminate the expensive outsourced telemarketing that we were doing. So I hired a couple more, and went back to my database list brokers for more – phone numbers this time. And I wrote telemarketing scripts and assigned campaign codes to test both list source and marketing message. Results quickly began to speak for themselves.  

And if I were doing this in today’s market, I would go back to my list brokers one more time – for online data sources and a richer set of information on our target prospects.  

The story goes on a bit more as I integrated marketing processes and lead follow up for events, trade shows, seminars, webinars, partner co-marketing and more. I tied them all together in our CRM system, which was now becoming quite rich in information.  

Good for me was that I was able to use a single CRM system to store and manage all of my marketing and sales data. I developed a set of standard reports for marketing effectiveness and sales effectiveness that easily showed overall status and week to week changes. We reviewed these reports weekly, and were able to quickly identify issues or concerns and make fast decisions on how to improve and optimize the business. Let me reiterate the word “optimize.” You see, I now had deep and accurate insight into marketing cost/response, cost/qualified lead and cost/sale across all marketing channels – so I could now optimize my marketing mix. Based on my campaign codes, I knew which messages resonated best with each customer segment – so I could now further optimize messaging, audiences and response rates. I also knew which leads to give first to my telemarketing team vs. give directly to inside sales, so I was now able to optimize my sales resources and skills.  

And, our sales/marketing/exec interlock meetings started to get quite interesting. Instead of spending all of our time wondering why sales had been flat for 18 months (before I joined and during the 2-3 months that it took for us to get this whole system running), we were now tuning sales programs and incentives to drive a smooth, predictable and self-sustaining pipeline, and we were tuning our marketing mix, funding and execution based on real insight as to marketing effectiveness, timing and where we needed sales pipeline. And, we could see and measure our end-to-end marketing and sales cycle quite accurately. You see, we were no longer speculating – we were analyzing data, getting new actionable insights, and making confident decisions quickly based on facts. We were really managing and optimizing our business!  

The whole morale of the company began to change. After 18 months of flat revenue and lots of stress, we were now seeing 20-25% sustained growth – per month! We nearly tripled revenue in just 9 months! And, our sales forecasting became quite accurate – we could predict revenue for current month and next month within 10%! Not only that, but marketing costs were down 50%! Imagine…half the marketing dollars, but 3x revenue growth and being able to predict current and next month revenue within 10%! Ya, we were pumped!  

Business result: steady and consistent sales growth!

 

 OK, that’s the story – and it’s real. Never woulda happened without a data warehouse, per se, to capture and manage all the data. Never woulda happened without the systems and business processes in place to gather and cleanse the data so we could trust it. Never woulda happened without the business intelligence reporting to visualize results, insights and trends. Never woulda happened without the business acumen, passion and project management skills to bring marketing and sales into alignment in support of overall business goals.  

Can YOU do this in your company? If not, why not? What’s keeping you back? Is it data? Is it a system to cleanse and manage the data? Is it BI reporting? Or is it a champion who is able to get executive sponsorship and project manage the task from end-to-end? Whatever is holding you back, get on it today. There is no time to waste…your competitors are on your heals and about to pass you….  

If you have had success (or challenges) implementing a data warehousing and analytics solution for sales and/or marketing, please let me know. I’d like to learn from your experiences as well. 

For more information on IBM’s current data warehousing, smart analytics and business intelligence offerings, please visit:  

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