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
Top Seven Time Sinks
and Solutions


Part 2 in the Return on Effort Study
series, in association with HubSpot
Top Seven Time Sinks and
Solutions



Part 2 in the Return on Effort Study series, in
association with HubSpot




                                                           Econsultancy New York          Econsultancy London
                                                           41 East 11th St., 11th Floor   2nd Floor, 85 Clerkenwell Road
                                                           New York, NY 10003             London EC1R 5AR
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be    United States                  United Kingdom
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording   Telephone:                     Telephone:
or any information storage and retrieval system, without   +1 212 699 3626                +44 (0) 20 7681 4052
prior permission in writing from the publisher.
                                                           http://econsultancy.com
Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010                      help@econsultancy.com
Contents

Introduction from HubSpot ............................................................................................... 4
       About HubSpot ................................................................................................................... 5
       About Econsultancy ............................................................................................................ 5
Research aims ........................................................................................................................ 6
       Methodology ...................................................................................................................... 6
       Survey Demographics ......................................................................................................... 7
Top Seven Marketing Time Sinks and Solutions...................................................... 11
       #1. Flying blind .................................................................................................................. 11
       #2. Investing in tomorrow at the expense of today .......................................................... 12
       #3. Failing fast…without learning ...................................................................................... 14
       #4. Tech without people/people without tech ................................................................. 16
       #5. What’s your motivation?............................................................................................. 17
       #6. The tyranny of S.O.P .................................................................................................... 18
       #7. Bad, bad data .............................................................................................................. 19


Table of Figures
Figure 1: Which of the following statements best describes your organization? ..................... 7
Figure 2: Primary target segments (over 25% of 2009 revenue) .............................................. 8
Figure 3: Primary product type. ................................................................................................ 8
Figure 4: 2009 revenue ............................................................................................................. 9
Figure 5: Organizations’ monthly lead goals. ........................................................................... 9
Figure 6: Budget approaches to experimentation by company size ....................................... 11
Figure 7: Approaches taken to experimentation. .................................................................... 15
Figure 8: Factors that spark new initiatives ............................................................................ 17




     Making the Call: Part 2 in the Return on Effort Study Series                                                                                                                                  Page 3


     All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
     retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Introduction from HubSpot
Jeanne Hopkins
Director of Marketing
HubSpot




                                                                                                                                                                                                         Page 4
           Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
           All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
           retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
About HubSpot
Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, HubSpot offers inbound marketing software that helps small and
medium sized businesses get found on the internet by the right prospects and convert more of them
into leads and customers. HubSpot's software platform includes tools that allow professional
marketers and small business owners to manage search engine optimization, blogging and social
media, as well as landing pages, lead intelligence and marketing analytics. http://www.hubspot.com


About Econsultancy
Econsultancy is a digital publishing and training group that is used by more than 200,000 internet
professionals every month.

The company publishes practical and timesaving research to help marketers make better decisions
about the digital environment, build business cases, find the best suppliers, look smart in meetings
and accelerate their careers.

Econsultancy has offices in New York and London, and hosts more than 100 events every year in the
US and UK. Many of the world's most famous brands use Econsultancy to educate and train their
staff.

Some of Econsultancy‟s members include: Google, Yahoo, Dell, BBC, BT, Shell, Vodafone, Virgin
Atlantic, Barclays, Deloitte, T-Mobile and Estée Lauder.

Join Econsultancy today to learn what‟s happening in digital marketing – and what works.

Call us to find out more on +44 (0)20 7269 1450 (London) or +1 212 699 3626 (New York). You can
also contact us online.




                                                                                                                                                                                                          Page 5
            Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
            All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
            retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Research aims
   1. The primary goal of this study was to quantify the effort marketers expend on
      fundamental and emerging marketing tactics. By comparing the time invested in
      these tactics with their ROI and brand impact, we hope to help marketers in two ways. First,
      by guiding managers in evaluating tactics for future consideration. Second, helping teams
      compare their own effort to return ratios with those of the industry.

   2. Another important element of the study was to explore how skill sets are aligned for
      emerging and inbound tactics. Since social tactics rely so heavily on the capabilities of
      team members in-house, and occasionally at partner organizations, it‟s valuable to set
      benchmarks for comparison and the planning of future training and hiring.

   3. We also looked at how organizations make decisions about trying new tactics and
      exploring new opportunities. With time at a premium, it‟s important for the motivations,
      rewards and challenges around new programs to be in alignment. The results suggest this is
      not always the case, and that there's a real opportunity for organizations to become more
      efficient in their approach.

   4. Finally, we asked how to best use internal and external resources. How are
      companies using agencies, and where are they looking for their inside teams to develop new
      skills?

This paper is the second in the Return on Effort Study series, and covers the third research phase.
The first report tackles the return on effort of different offline and online tactics. It‟s available here
courtesy of HubSpot. http://www.hubspot.com/webinars/best-and-worst-return-on-
effort-marketing-tactics/


Methodology
Findings in this report are based on the Return on Effort Survey, fielded on July 19th, 2010 and
closed on July 30th, 2010. Out of over 1,500 total responses, nearly 1,000 were eliminated for
reasons outlined in the following section. Ultimately, 574 qualified responses were included in the
sample.

The only incentive for participation was the offer of the resulting reports and an invitation to access
the accompanying webinars.




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             Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
             All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
             retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Survey Demographics
Several criteria were used to determine which responses would be included in the final dataset;
    1. Type of organization – only client-side marketers and the agency personnel serving them
       were included in the sample.
    2. Total annual revenue – large corporations (revenues over $100M) were not included in
       “average” results. Because this report is aimed at small and mid-sized companies where
       marketers are likely to have multiple simultaneous roles, it was concluded that companies
       large enough to have dedicated personnel for every tactic could throw off ROE estimates.
    3. Organizational knowledge – respondents who were unable to answer an initial set of
       general company questions were eliminated from the sample.
    4. Geographic location – only responses identified by IP address as being from North
       America were included.

         Figure 1: Which of the following statements best describes your organization?



                                                                                       5%
                                                                           6%

                                                               8%


                                                                                                                                46%




                                                                35%




         Client side                                                                                 Agency or marketing consultant
         Other (some eliminated from sample)                                                         Publishers (eliminated from sample)
                                                                                                                                                                  Number of respondents: 1,534




                                                                                                                                                                                                          Page 7
            Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
            All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
            retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Figure 2: Primary target segments (over 25% of 2009 revenue)

60%
                    50%
50%
                                                          44%

40%

30%                                                                                              28%


20%
                                                                                                                                       14%

10%
                                                                                                                                                                               3%
0%
             Consumers                           Small and/or                      Large businesses                             Institutions                                Other
                                                 medium-sized                                                                    (schools,
                                                  businesses                                                                   government,
                                                                                                                                  NGOs)


                                                                                                                                                                  Number of respondents: 574




                                                         Figure 3: Primary product type.




                                                                                                       22%

                                                          37%




                                                                                                  41%


      Low consideration - minimal research or comparison, rapid sales cycle

      Medium consideration - requires some research, comparison of vendors, variable sales cycle

      High consideration - important business decision, requires significant research, comparison of
      multiple vendors, typically long sales cycle

                                                                                                                                                                  Number of respondents: 574




                                                                                                                                                                                                       Page 8
         Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
         All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
         retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Figure 4: 2009 revenue

                                                                               B2B            B2C
45%
                 41%



      30%
30%                                 28%


                                                  20%               19%
                                                                                  16%
                                                                                                                                                   14%
15%                                                                                                                                  12%
                                                                                                                                                                       8%            8%
                                                                                                      3%
                                                                                                                    1%
0%
        Under                   $1MM - $10MM                           $10MM -                         $50MM-                          Over                          Don't know/
      $1,000,000                                                        $50MM                          $100MM                      $100,000,000                      Prefer not to
                                                                                                                                                                         say


                                                                                                                                                       Number of respondents: 574




                                   Figure 5: Organizations‟ monthly lead goals.
35%

30%         29%


25%                                                                        24%


20%                                        18%

15%
                                                                                                                                          11%
10%                                                                                                         9%
                                                                                                                                                                           8%

 5%

 0%
       Under 50                       51 to 100                      101 to 500                   501 to 1,000 1,001 to 10,000 Over 10,000


                                                                                                                                                       Number of respondents: 574




                                                                                                                                                                                                     Page 9
       Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
       All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
       retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Who is this report for?
This is primarily a report by client-side marketers for client-side marketers, specifically at small
and medium-sized organizations that engage in digital marketing and are currently or planning
on using socially-driven, content focused “inbound” tactics. However, many findings and takeaways
apply across company size and target markets.
The report is also intended to inform non-digital marketing specialists such as senior managers who
need to understand the similarities and differences between established and emerging digital
channels.
In addition, the report will help agencies understand their clients' challenges and thought processes
and assist them as they design future marketing services and refine their current ones.




                                                                                                                                                                                                         Page 10
            Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
            All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
            retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Top Seven Marketing Time Sinks and Solutions
  Budgets are tight, but time is tighter. Time is the one resource in marketing with no elasticity,
  making it precious and a key area of complaint for marketers who are constantly asked to add
  programs, channels and technologies to their efforts. As part of the "Return on Effort Study," we
  wanted to explore areas where marketers can lose time, as well as opportunities for gaining some
  back.

#1. Flying blind
  Opportunity cost is when we can‟t do something because we‟re doing something else. Marketing
  teams and their partners have a finite amount of time, so everything they do has an opportunity cost:
  those programs, campaigns and experiments that never get past the idea stage, stall midstream or
  simply don‟t get enough attention to perform at their best.

  As we see in Figure 6, most companies (and especially SMBs) don‟t have a set, budgetary structure
  around experiments with new tech, channels and programs. The majority makes decisions and
  spends money on an ad hoc basis, with huge variation in their processes and motivations (see the
  next section for more on what motivates them).


                      Figure 6: Budget approaches to experimentation by company size

          Large orgs.                    SMB organizations

                                                                                                                                   54%



                                                                                                                 40%


                                                            28%

           20%                                                                                                                                                                          19%
                                                                             18%
                                                                                                                                                                      12%
                         9%




          Budget line for                           Ad hoc budgeting for                               Ad hoc, but little budget Stick to established tactics
           experiments                                  experiments                                           available

                                                                                                                                                                       Number of respondents: 574

  When marketers are evaluating a decision about something new, they don‟t always have the benefit
  of hard data. They can‟t predict the percentage by which new technology might increase lead
  conversion or how many leads will be generated by a new content program. In such cases, marketers
  can use gut instinct and risk soaring opportunity costs, or turn to their core marketing strategy.


                                                                                                                                                                                                           Page 11
              Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
              All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
              retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Too many organizations treat strategy as a yearly thought exercise, and not as a dynamic decision-
  making tool. At its best, a strategy can inform every decision, big and small, that confronts
  marketers.

  Most organizations have their version of a strategy review, and it goes something like this: a rush of
  meetings culminates with a presentation and perhaps a white paper laying out the plan for the
  coming year. Some people are excited. Others would prefer to get back to the 100 unread emails
  demanding their attention. Depending on a variety of factors, that plan will either fade in the face of
  the grind or become a tangible force that helps guide decisions up and down the ladder.

  The time invested in a coherent strategy is saved many times over by avoiding the missteps of flying
  blind. Certainly, a marketing strategy covers the macro-topics of brand identity, target markets,
  attitudes toward the customer and the competitive landscape as well as near and mid-term priorities.
  But, it should also drill down to the specific plans to address the needs and opportunities in each of
  these areas. At its best, this set of principals gives anyone in the organization the tools they need to
  evaluate risks, opportunities and market changes.

  In other words, a comprehensive strategy allows marketers to take risks, because a program or
  experiment supports a core strategic principle. It also lets marketers say “no,” which can be one of
  the hardest things in business. But for organizations that want to stick to activities that support
  growth as defined by their strategy, saying no is just as important as saying yes.




#2. Investing in tomorrow at the expense of today
  Most business people would agree this is a time of profound transformation. Technology and culture
  are conspiring to tilt the axis of how we live, consume media, and choose products. This dynamic
  state is real enough, but the emphasis on change is reinforced by both niche and mass media. Both
  are motivated to comment on what‟s exciting to their readers – new opportunities, new trends and
  new challenges.
  As important as it is to understand the shifts that are taking place and to align resources to take
  advantage, some organizations do so before having developed real mastery of skills and channels
  that have already proven themselves.
  A constant focus on tomorrow belies one of the underlying truths of marketing: execution trumps
  channel or campaign. Given the array of media and technology choices available, success is less tied
  to placing the right bet on media or platform than it is to the efficient execution of the program.
  The best way to maintain mastery is through an organizational emphasis on skills development,
  balancing those that fit marketing as it exists today and those which anticipate its expansion and
  evolution. Three principle areas of focus are the intersection of marketing with data and
  technology, the increased demand for content creation and management and the need for
  improved user experience. Teams that maintain a balanced and skilled approach in these areas
  are well positioned not only to execute at a high level, but to respond well to the unknown.

  Focus on data and technology

   Web analytics is something every organization does, but not all do it well. A true
    understanding of what's happening and why's invaluable and integral to a variety of marketing
    activities. At issue for many is a disciplined approach to analytics. A focus on learning begins with

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Page 12
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              All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
              retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
a schedule for reports, a quarterly or bi-annual review of the information being collected and a
   process for team members to suggest new areas of inquiry and important questions.
 A/B testing is simple and effective for a wide range of marketing purposes. A team should have
  people comfortable with executing A/B testing, and sufficient understanding of how multi-
  variable testing works to be able to manage an outside contractor or use an ASP tool.
 Paid and organic search are so important to most organizations that these areas are where
  they tend to have the highest level of technical marketing skills. The companies getting the most
  from their outsourced programs are those that have experienced search marketers on staff.
 Display advertising is a significant component for brand-focused companies and one of the
  most complex of the new digital channels. Even if it‟s managed through an agency, the in-house
  team should be conversant in the wide variety of ancillary technologies that are a part of the
  display ecosystem, including data providers, measurement services, authentication providers, ad
  servers and rich media companies.
 Finally, teams will benefit from having one or more people who are comfortable with statistics
  in a general capacity. In addition to many ways in which statistics are integral to database
  marketing, this skill is invaluable in seeing through flimsy arguments from vendors and analysts
  alike.


Focus on content creation and management
Marketing is shifting from the campaign model to an “always-on” set of conversations and content
interactions. To a degree, this also shifts creative efforts away from the “big idea” toward a collection
of small ideas and executions that should be tested and optimized. A well-rounded team will have
skill sets that include the following:
 The cost-benefit ratio for having landing page expertise is among the most favorable in
  marketing. Landing page design best practices coupled with the ability to run basic statistical
  analyses of A/B tests gives marketing departments a powerful way to affect conversion. More
  than once we heard from marketers who, having enough expertise in their department to
  implement, test and optimize landing pages, made them remarkably independent of the
  technology group.
 Even as social media commands industry attention, email marketing is the primary conduit to
  customers. Understanding of email list segmentation and deliverability is too often lacking.
 Social media and PR have merged in many respects. The technical aspects are relatively
  simple, but quite varied. Necessary skills include familiarity with distribution services, writing
  press releases with search engines in mind, and enough web analytics to be able to track results.
  Of course, the most important assets in these efforts are a good ear for the needs of the customer
  and an authentic voice that can articulate what the company is doing to satisfy them.




                                                                                                                                                                                                          Page 13
             Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
             All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
             retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Focus on user experience
  User experience is a term sometimes used synonymously with usability, although the latter is really a
  sub-discipline. In addition to usability, user experience design can bring together elements of
  psychology, programming and design, among others. At its root is the goal of improving a person‟s
  interaction with a product, tool, site or system.
  User experience is subjective. While you can define specific elements within it (how long it takes to
  accomplish task A, for example), user experience is also a set of feelings brought on by the
  interaction. For example, the aesthetic components of Apple‟s product line contribute to the user
  experience, although their effect is impossible to quantify.
   Usability testing is among the most accessible tests available to marketers. It‟s inexpensive and
    can be carried out quickly. It‟s also highly educational and very likely to point out aspects and
    issues of the tested material the designers have missed. It‟s also one of the best ways to foster
    communication between technical and marketing staffers. Watching someone fumble through a
    process that was thought to be simple is a much better motivator than a sheaf of notes from a
    product manager.
   With the cacophony of individual voices talking about a brand in the social sphere, persona
    development is an effective and simple way to help marketing organize its understanding of the
    customer base. By creating a manageable number of distinct personas who represent major
    customer types, the team can consider how their decisions, technology choices and campaigns
    will be received.
   Listening is a key to a new kind of marketing. The industry is moving away from the inside-out
    model that has dominated for decades. Understanding customers' needs depends on hearing
    what they‟re saying andwhat they‟re implying, as well as noticing what they‟re not saying.



#3. Failing fast…without learning
  The best way to manage transformation and strive for excellence is to build technical, operational
  and strategic knowledge of digital marketing. The previous section addressed one way to achieve this
  via training and team building. The other route is experimentation. Digital technologies allow us
  „fail (or succeed) faster‟ and learn quickly, often from experiments with little or no hard costs. But
  the advantages of easy experimentation are lost if they aren't aligned with strategy and given
  adequate time to develop.
  SMBs are especially susceptible to the pattern of trying something new once or perhaps a few times
  but without adjusting the experiment. In Figure 7 we see that only 25% of companies take a long
  view (giving an experiment more than a few cycles to succeed) and that average drops for small and
  medium sized businesses. They‟re also more than twice as likely as the average to conduct only a
  single test.
  Several best practices can be applied to avoid wasting time on experiments, regardless of their
  outcome.
  1. Simply, start every initiative with an experimental plan. This should outline the expectations,
     timeline, and planned variations in the test (see next section). All of this amount to patience.
     “Fail fast” doesn‟t mean we should simply roll something out, wait for it to have great success,
     and can it when that doesn‟t happen. Most social media efforts would have died off long ago if
     this were case (and certainly many have). The trick is to learn from failure, or conversely, to not
     be satisfied with quick success.


                                                                                                                                                                                                           Page 14
              Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
              All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
              retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
Figure 7: Approaches taken to experimentation.




                                                                                                                           14%
                                                                                                                                                                25%




           Long view/ long term
                                                                                                                             61%
           Medium view/ several program cycles

           Short view / single test


                                                                                                                                                                      Number of respondents: 574


2. Before you begin, plan the variations that will be explored during the run of the experiment.
   The idea is not to over-complicate, but to broaden findings. For example, if the question is
   whether Twitter is right for the social media plan, there are a number of ways to approach using
   Twitter before you can know whether it‟s a success or non-starter.

    Time            Test                                                                       Result                                                 Lesson
                                         Twitter – post once per day                                                Growth at 4/day
    Week 1
                                                     Twitter – post 4x/day                                        Growth at 12/day                              1x/day underperforms
    Week 2
                                                     Twitter – post 8x/day                                        Growth at 13/day                                           4x/day enough
    Week 3
                              Twitter – posts highlight company                                      5 direct interactions/ day
    Week 4
                                            personality included
                      Twitter – keep personality posts out of                                          1 direct interaction/ day                           Followers respond to our
    Week 5
                                                     stream                                                                                                    company personality



3. Set knowledge goals to ensure every experiment generates value. These goals are the answers
   to questions set before a new initiative. This allows tangible targets and timelines to be set before
   a new program gets launched, in contrast with revenue goals set early that may prove unrealistic.
   Successful knowledge goals are specific and relate to the nuts and bolts of campaigns and
   programs. It‟s important they be assigned like other tasks and there‟s accountability for them
   being completed.




                                                                                                                                                                                                          Page 15
             Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
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#4. Tech without people/people without tech
  The digital revolution has introduced technology into the marketer‟s world at unprecedented speed.
  The demands of new tools for technical support seem to always outpace organizations‟ ability to
  satisfy them; marketers point to a lack of technological resources as a key issue.
  Like any need in the market, this technology gap has given rise to a number of technologies that seek
  to help the marketer “do more with less.” Some give marketers the ability to accomplish tasks such
  as landing page testing without expert assistance. Others automate repetitive or complex functions,
  such as triggered email delivery.
  Yet while technologies can ease the marketer‟s burden, they can also represent huge time sinks if
  organization‟s fall into one of the following traps:
  1. Making the wrong call on build vs. buy
     The decision on whether to build technologies in-house or buy them is complex, and it‟s one
     many organizations face at some point. Marketers are often caught in the middle as those on the
     tech side identify limitations with off-the-shelf solutions and finance compares costs.
     Information is a marketer‟s best weapon in this process. Having data on potential revenue or
     savings will help make the case for a more rapid (and potentially expensive) outsourced solution
     or building in-house.
     There‟s no easy answer on how to determine the correct course of action, but marketers should
     be part of the conversation and weigh the variables:
      Timing – SaaS solutions offer technology that can be accessed in days or weeks instead of
       the months that are usually part of an internal development project.
      Feature set vs. necessary features – there‟s usually a gulf between a technology‟s full
       capability and what it‟s really going to be used for. Features are important, but at what pace?
       Is it worth delaying an implementation because features that may not be important
       (especially during a learning curve) can be built and customized?
      Unforeseen change – one advantage outsourced solutions have is the relationship is
       flexible. If an industry-changing event takes place (Google comes out with a free version, for
       example), companies have the option of not renewing the contract when it expires. SaaS
       companies are also in a position to respond to “game-changers” much more rapidly than an
       in-house team, unless it‟s specifically dedicated to marketing or to the technology in question.
      Support – for many, this is the big question. After an internal effort produces a custom
       piece of technology that can only be serviced and upgraded by in-house staff, what will the
       support commitment be? What‟s a realistic comparison between the support needs of one
       solution and the other, and conversely, the tech support that can be expected from each?
  2. Not investing in the right tech
     At SMBs, staff often makes up the largest share of a marketing budget. They’re asked to move
     mountains and work hard to do so. Companies that look for technologies to help them can benefit
     by saving time that’s better spent on higher level activities. Not looking for the advantages
     offered by technology can waste time a marketing team doesn’t have. A tell-tale sign there’s a
     tool out there that might save you time: spending hours each week using a spreadsheet program
     for something other than the budget.
  3. Not investing in the right people


                                                                                                                                                                                                           Page 16
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Probably the most common mistake when it comes to technology is not supporting it with
     sufficient human resources to take full advantage. Important investments should be
     accompanied by either hiring or training, alongside defined job responsibilities that make the
     performance of the technology analogous with the performance of the person or people
     managing it.

#5. What’s your motivation?
  The next time sink focuses on experimentation and plotting the straightest course to positive change.
  Strategy may be the best way to choose new initiatives, but it‟s not the only way. For SMBs that can‟t
  stop to rework their strategy with every change in the market, there is an array of causes, but all
  motivations for experimentation are not created equal.

                                                 Figure 8: Factors that spark new initiatives

                                                                                                                                                                                                          56%
                                               Competitor efforts
                                                                                                                                                                                    45%

                                                                                                                                                                                              50%
                              Analyst recommendations*
                                                                                                                                                                          40%

                                                                                                                                                                                    45%
           Aligned with existing core competence
                                                                                                                                                                      38%

                                                                                                                                                                                43%
                     Aligned with long term strategy
                                                                                                                                                                                                  52%

                                                                                                                                                                        39%
                                       Management theories
                                                                                                                                              26%

                                                                                                                                                                  36%
                                               Social media buzz
                                                                                                                                              26%

                                                                                                                                      22%
        SMB organizations                           Press coverage
                                                                                                                                        24%
        Large orgs.
                                                                                    0%                 10%                 20%                30%                 40%                 50%                 60%

                                                                                                                                                                       Number of respondents: 574


  What should drive experimentation?

  1. In many business scenarios, following a competitor is a good way to stay in second place. But
     in terms of fielding new technologies, companies can benefit by watching and waiting. If you‟re
     not going to be the first to market, be the best. Calibrate experiments using the public response to
     your competitor‟s efforts, and improve on them.
  2. Analyst recommendations are a good way to take advantage of the broad view that an
     independent third party has of a market space.
  3. Alignment with existing competencies is also an important indicator of success; the more
     familiar the organization is with the terrain, the better it can apply a new technique or
     technology. If a company has built widgets and understands the principals of atomization of

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Page 17
              Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
              All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
              retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
content, it‟s more likely to get a mobile phone application right on its first try.
  4. The top answer among marketers at large companies 52% was that alignment with strategy
     was a key characteristic in evaluating a potential experiment. If a new tactic or opportunity
     appears to fit with strategy, it‟s more likely to yield results, but even a failed experiment is
     valuable, because the learnings apply to an important area of knowledge. SMBs don‟t always
     spend the time to lay out a comprehensive strategy, and are more likely to use external
     information, such as competitor efforts, to identify new initiatives.

  What shouldn’t drive experimentation?
  1. Fervor and attention don‟t necessarily equate to a sound business case. Using buzz in social
     media or industry press as a guide has led to more failed experiments and wasted time than
     successes. The frenzy to create Facebook pages by small businesses owes to the coverage that
     practice has received in all types of media. But for many companies, their Facebook page is
     sitting quietly, waiting for a conversation that‟s never going to happen.
  2. Finally, we arrive at the worst reason to mount an experiment, and the one that marketers most
     enjoyed discussing in our interviews: the dreaded C-level whim. Whether it starts when a
     child is seen using a previously unknown “hot” website,, or in response to a golf partner asking
     about iPhone apps, experiments that are generated outside of marketing tend to be failures. It‟s
     not always the case, especially when senior management has been with the company from the
     start, and understands the brand as well as anyone.

#6. The tyranny of S.O.P
  Routines are comforting. They make sense of an otherwise overwhelming set of tasks. Standard
  operating procedure is a detailed routine that describes the individual steps in an operation –
  anything from creating an email newsletter to building a report from web analytics to distributing a
  release. They‟re a necessary and helpful way of standardizing, teaching and institutionalizing
  knowledge. They‟re also wrong much of the time.
  SOP is at its best when it has time to develop and there‟s a review system in place. Iteration after
  iteration is what makes for a superior procedure. The problem is that in digital marketing, time is at
  a premium. The rate of change is such that marketers are contending with a different landscape from
  one campaign or program to the next. That‟s a difficult environment for SOP to evolve; instead, it
  sets quickly. That‟s a problem.
  The assumption with digital is we‟ll learn through experience and optimize the process along the
  way. The reality is we're very likely to do tomorrow what we did yesterday because we‟re comfortable
  with a known quantity, even if it‟s not the best way of doing something. Companies that avoid these
  pitfalls do so by thinking ahead.
   Plan for new procedures – resist the urge to jump into a new program or process and simply
    “start doing.” Get people together, talk about goals for the program, but also for learning about
    the medium, and highlight the variables in the process that are likely to be important.
   Keep coming back – as painful as it is to schedule another meeting, regular reviews are a key to
    avoiding a flawed SOP. Plan ahead to review not just what you‟re doing, but how you‟re doing it.
    What worked, what didn‟t, how long did it take and did it have to? These are important questions
    when undertaking a new program, adopting a new technology or simply examining the key
    activities for your team.


                                                                                                                                                                                                           Page 18
              Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
              All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
              retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
 Get fresh eyes. – It‟s human nature that once we‟re used to something it becomes very hard to
    see how it can be improved. This is one of the main reasons consultants and agencies can be so
    useful. They bring a new, and hopefully objective, perspective. New hires can also be used in this
    role. In addition to getting them familiar with the department and its programs, having new
    marketers review and comment on processes can highlight flaws that are invisible to veterans.

#7. Bad, bad data
  The most common waste of time and resources in business is to make decisions without data. Even
  at small companies, where being flexible is a great advantage, operating by gut instinct will
  eventually cost time and money. But at least most of those who are operating by the seat of their
  pants know that they‟re doing it – they‟re aware that they may be making a mistake and are careful
  to keep an open mind to the possibility that they‟re wrong.
  A more insidious problem is decision-making based on bad data. Our confidence in numbers is often
  out of proportion with their validity. It seems to be human nature to trust numbers, even when the
  evidence suggests the source isn‟t reliable. Companies base whole strategies on customer surveys
  conducted without statistical rigor, or invest in a new direction indicated by a single test or case
  study.
  Watch out for these repeat offenders:
   In many industries, there‟s a healthy skepticism of survey data, but that tends to break down
    when it‟s an internal survey; polls of customers and prospects that are used to explore their
    needs, possible features or shifts in strategy. Often these surveys are fielded specifically to
    support a favored business case within the company.
     Here‟s how it often goes down:
     A survey goes out. Response isn‟t great, but a hundred or so responses are collected. Whoever's
     responsible starts slicing up the sample by the people that matter, perhaps by role, company size,
     current v prospective customers and the like. The small groups of respondents in each of these
     slices aren‟t large enough to be statistically valid, but when the figures are there in black and
     white, they become impossible to discount. “Forty percent of our respondents want something” is
     powerful stuff even if what we‟re really saying is, “Five people want this.”
   Then there‟s the power of the anecdote – that story from customer service, a blog comment or
    email that resonates. Anecdotes are best used to humanize a statistical reality. “Joyce lost her
    health care in 2007. When she contracted external lung syndrome…etc, etc.” The danger is when
    there‟s no corroborating evidence to back up the anecdote. It‟s a part of our psychology to latch
    onto stories, particularly if they agree with our beliefs. So one comment becomes the rallying cry,
    and its impact has more to do with the status of its champion than with any sort of formal
    inquiry.
   One danger for marketers is setting benchmarks too early in the life of a program or
    campaign. Putting numbers behind an idea is the marketing equivalent of inviting a vampire into
    the house. Good luck trying to get rid of it. Wise marketers should keep that in mind when first
    experimenting with new tactics and approaches. Low early numbers that are meaningless in
    theory can kill an idea in reality, just as meaningless high numbers will unnecessarily inflate
    expectations and affect strategy.
   Sample size is a problem for marketers who test, and that can lead to setting the wrong
    benchmarks. They‟d like to compare results based on a hard metric like conversion, cost of


                                                                                                                                                                                                           Page 19
              Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
              All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
              retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
acquisition, or customer lifetime value, but there isn‟t enough volume. This is especially common
in B2B, where closed deals are rare and communication between sales and marketing is
endangered.
The solution for many is to look at more plentiful measures, but that tends to lead them to search
and email clicks. That‟s a problem. Very often the aspects of an ad or email that generate a click
aren‟t those that make a sale down the road. This leads to optimization efforts that actually
depress conversion in favor of more page views, clicks, etc.
Some companies have found signs of true engagement are a better indicator of future sales than
traffic measures. Examples of this include repeat visits, white paper downloads, the reading of
certain pages, widget interaction, email sign-ups, and podcast/webinar attendance. “Time on
site” is a popular choice, but a tricky one, since accurately measuring session times is a challenge
for analytics.




                                                                                                                                                                                                      Page 20
         Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions
         All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
         retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010

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Top 7 time sinks and solutions

  • 1. Market Data / Supplier Selection / Event Presentations / Best Practice / Template Files / Trends & Innovation  Top Seven Time Sinks and Solutions Part 2 in the Return on Effort Study series, in association with HubSpot
  • 2. Top Seven Time Sinks and Solutions Part 2 in the Return on Effort Study series, in association with HubSpot Econsultancy New York Econsultancy London 41 East 11th St., 11th Floor 2nd Floor, 85 Clerkenwell Road New York, NY 10003 London EC1R 5AR All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be United States United Kingdom reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording Telephone: Telephone: or any information storage and retrieval system, without +1 212 699 3626 +44 (0) 20 7681 4052 prior permission in writing from the publisher. http://econsultancy.com Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010 help@econsultancy.com
  • 3. Contents Introduction from HubSpot ............................................................................................... 4 About HubSpot ................................................................................................................... 5 About Econsultancy ............................................................................................................ 5 Research aims ........................................................................................................................ 6 Methodology ...................................................................................................................... 6 Survey Demographics ......................................................................................................... 7 Top Seven Marketing Time Sinks and Solutions...................................................... 11 #1. Flying blind .................................................................................................................. 11 #2. Investing in tomorrow at the expense of today .......................................................... 12 #3. Failing fast…without learning ...................................................................................... 14 #4. Tech without people/people without tech ................................................................. 16 #5. What’s your motivation?............................................................................................. 17 #6. The tyranny of S.O.P .................................................................................................... 18 #7. Bad, bad data .............................................................................................................. 19 Table of Figures Figure 1: Which of the following statements best describes your organization? ..................... 7 Figure 2: Primary target segments (over 25% of 2009 revenue) .............................................. 8 Figure 3: Primary product type. ................................................................................................ 8 Figure 4: 2009 revenue ............................................................................................................. 9 Figure 5: Organizations’ monthly lead goals. ........................................................................... 9 Figure 6: Budget approaches to experimentation by company size ....................................... 11 Figure 7: Approaches taken to experimentation. .................................................................... 15 Figure 8: Factors that spark new initiatives ............................................................................ 17 Making the Call: Part 2 in the Return on Effort Study Series Page 3 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 4. Introduction from HubSpot Jeanne Hopkins Director of Marketing HubSpot Page 4 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 5. About HubSpot Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, HubSpot offers inbound marketing software that helps small and medium sized businesses get found on the internet by the right prospects and convert more of them into leads and customers. HubSpot's software platform includes tools that allow professional marketers and small business owners to manage search engine optimization, blogging and social media, as well as landing pages, lead intelligence and marketing analytics. http://www.hubspot.com About Econsultancy Econsultancy is a digital publishing and training group that is used by more than 200,000 internet professionals every month. The company publishes practical and timesaving research to help marketers make better decisions about the digital environment, build business cases, find the best suppliers, look smart in meetings and accelerate their careers. Econsultancy has offices in New York and London, and hosts more than 100 events every year in the US and UK. Many of the world's most famous brands use Econsultancy to educate and train their staff. Some of Econsultancy‟s members include: Google, Yahoo, Dell, BBC, BT, Shell, Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic, Barclays, Deloitte, T-Mobile and Estée Lauder. Join Econsultancy today to learn what‟s happening in digital marketing – and what works. Call us to find out more on +44 (0)20 7269 1450 (London) or +1 212 699 3626 (New York). You can also contact us online. Page 5 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 6. Research aims 1. The primary goal of this study was to quantify the effort marketers expend on fundamental and emerging marketing tactics. By comparing the time invested in these tactics with their ROI and brand impact, we hope to help marketers in two ways. First, by guiding managers in evaluating tactics for future consideration. Second, helping teams compare their own effort to return ratios with those of the industry. 2. Another important element of the study was to explore how skill sets are aligned for emerging and inbound tactics. Since social tactics rely so heavily on the capabilities of team members in-house, and occasionally at partner organizations, it‟s valuable to set benchmarks for comparison and the planning of future training and hiring. 3. We also looked at how organizations make decisions about trying new tactics and exploring new opportunities. With time at a premium, it‟s important for the motivations, rewards and challenges around new programs to be in alignment. The results suggest this is not always the case, and that there's a real opportunity for organizations to become more efficient in their approach. 4. Finally, we asked how to best use internal and external resources. How are companies using agencies, and where are they looking for their inside teams to develop new skills? This paper is the second in the Return on Effort Study series, and covers the third research phase. The first report tackles the return on effort of different offline and online tactics. It‟s available here courtesy of HubSpot. http://www.hubspot.com/webinars/best-and-worst-return-on- effort-marketing-tactics/ Methodology Findings in this report are based on the Return on Effort Survey, fielded on July 19th, 2010 and closed on July 30th, 2010. Out of over 1,500 total responses, nearly 1,000 were eliminated for reasons outlined in the following section. Ultimately, 574 qualified responses were included in the sample. The only incentive for participation was the offer of the resulting reports and an invitation to access the accompanying webinars. Page 6 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 7. Survey Demographics Several criteria were used to determine which responses would be included in the final dataset; 1. Type of organization – only client-side marketers and the agency personnel serving them were included in the sample. 2. Total annual revenue – large corporations (revenues over $100M) were not included in “average” results. Because this report is aimed at small and mid-sized companies where marketers are likely to have multiple simultaneous roles, it was concluded that companies large enough to have dedicated personnel for every tactic could throw off ROE estimates. 3. Organizational knowledge – respondents who were unable to answer an initial set of general company questions were eliminated from the sample. 4. Geographic location – only responses identified by IP address as being from North America were included. Figure 1: Which of the following statements best describes your organization? 5% 6% 8% 46% 35% Client side Agency or marketing consultant Other (some eliminated from sample) Publishers (eliminated from sample) Number of respondents: 1,534 Page 7 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 8. Figure 2: Primary target segments (over 25% of 2009 revenue) 60% 50% 50% 44% 40% 30% 28% 20% 14% 10% 3% 0% Consumers Small and/or Large businesses Institutions Other medium-sized (schools, businesses government, NGOs) Number of respondents: 574 Figure 3: Primary product type. 22% 37% 41% Low consideration - minimal research or comparison, rapid sales cycle Medium consideration - requires some research, comparison of vendors, variable sales cycle High consideration - important business decision, requires significant research, comparison of multiple vendors, typically long sales cycle Number of respondents: 574 Page 8 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 9. Figure 4: 2009 revenue B2B B2C 45% 41% 30% 30% 28% 20% 19% 16% 14% 15% 12% 8% 8% 3% 1% 0% Under $1MM - $10MM $10MM - $50MM- Over Don't know/ $1,000,000 $50MM $100MM $100,000,000 Prefer not to say Number of respondents: 574 Figure 5: Organizations‟ monthly lead goals. 35% 30% 29% 25% 24% 20% 18% 15% 11% 10% 9% 8% 5% 0% Under 50 51 to 100 101 to 500 501 to 1,000 1,001 to 10,000 Over 10,000 Number of respondents: 574 Page 9 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 10. Who is this report for? This is primarily a report by client-side marketers for client-side marketers, specifically at small and medium-sized organizations that engage in digital marketing and are currently or planning on using socially-driven, content focused “inbound” tactics. However, many findings and takeaways apply across company size and target markets. The report is also intended to inform non-digital marketing specialists such as senior managers who need to understand the similarities and differences between established and emerging digital channels. In addition, the report will help agencies understand their clients' challenges and thought processes and assist them as they design future marketing services and refine their current ones. Page 10 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 11. Top Seven Marketing Time Sinks and Solutions Budgets are tight, but time is tighter. Time is the one resource in marketing with no elasticity, making it precious and a key area of complaint for marketers who are constantly asked to add programs, channels and technologies to their efforts. As part of the "Return on Effort Study," we wanted to explore areas where marketers can lose time, as well as opportunities for gaining some back. #1. Flying blind Opportunity cost is when we can‟t do something because we‟re doing something else. Marketing teams and their partners have a finite amount of time, so everything they do has an opportunity cost: those programs, campaigns and experiments that never get past the idea stage, stall midstream or simply don‟t get enough attention to perform at their best. As we see in Figure 6, most companies (and especially SMBs) don‟t have a set, budgetary structure around experiments with new tech, channels and programs. The majority makes decisions and spends money on an ad hoc basis, with huge variation in their processes and motivations (see the next section for more on what motivates them). Figure 6: Budget approaches to experimentation by company size Large orgs. SMB organizations 54% 40% 28% 20% 19% 18% 12% 9% Budget line for Ad hoc budgeting for Ad hoc, but little budget Stick to established tactics experiments experiments available Number of respondents: 574 When marketers are evaluating a decision about something new, they don‟t always have the benefit of hard data. They can‟t predict the percentage by which new technology might increase lead conversion or how many leads will be generated by a new content program. In such cases, marketers can use gut instinct and risk soaring opportunity costs, or turn to their core marketing strategy. Page 11 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 12. Too many organizations treat strategy as a yearly thought exercise, and not as a dynamic decision- making tool. At its best, a strategy can inform every decision, big and small, that confronts marketers. Most organizations have their version of a strategy review, and it goes something like this: a rush of meetings culminates with a presentation and perhaps a white paper laying out the plan for the coming year. Some people are excited. Others would prefer to get back to the 100 unread emails demanding their attention. Depending on a variety of factors, that plan will either fade in the face of the grind or become a tangible force that helps guide decisions up and down the ladder. The time invested in a coherent strategy is saved many times over by avoiding the missteps of flying blind. Certainly, a marketing strategy covers the macro-topics of brand identity, target markets, attitudes toward the customer and the competitive landscape as well as near and mid-term priorities. But, it should also drill down to the specific plans to address the needs and opportunities in each of these areas. At its best, this set of principals gives anyone in the organization the tools they need to evaluate risks, opportunities and market changes. In other words, a comprehensive strategy allows marketers to take risks, because a program or experiment supports a core strategic principle. It also lets marketers say “no,” which can be one of the hardest things in business. But for organizations that want to stick to activities that support growth as defined by their strategy, saying no is just as important as saying yes. #2. Investing in tomorrow at the expense of today Most business people would agree this is a time of profound transformation. Technology and culture are conspiring to tilt the axis of how we live, consume media, and choose products. This dynamic state is real enough, but the emphasis on change is reinforced by both niche and mass media. Both are motivated to comment on what‟s exciting to their readers – new opportunities, new trends and new challenges. As important as it is to understand the shifts that are taking place and to align resources to take advantage, some organizations do so before having developed real mastery of skills and channels that have already proven themselves. A constant focus on tomorrow belies one of the underlying truths of marketing: execution trumps channel or campaign. Given the array of media and technology choices available, success is less tied to placing the right bet on media or platform than it is to the efficient execution of the program. The best way to maintain mastery is through an organizational emphasis on skills development, balancing those that fit marketing as it exists today and those which anticipate its expansion and evolution. Three principle areas of focus are the intersection of marketing with data and technology, the increased demand for content creation and management and the need for improved user experience. Teams that maintain a balanced and skilled approach in these areas are well positioned not only to execute at a high level, but to respond well to the unknown. Focus on data and technology  Web analytics is something every organization does, but not all do it well. A true understanding of what's happening and why's invaluable and integral to a variety of marketing activities. At issue for many is a disciplined approach to analytics. A focus on learning begins with Page 12 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 13. a schedule for reports, a quarterly or bi-annual review of the information being collected and a process for team members to suggest new areas of inquiry and important questions.  A/B testing is simple and effective for a wide range of marketing purposes. A team should have people comfortable with executing A/B testing, and sufficient understanding of how multi- variable testing works to be able to manage an outside contractor or use an ASP tool.  Paid and organic search are so important to most organizations that these areas are where they tend to have the highest level of technical marketing skills. The companies getting the most from their outsourced programs are those that have experienced search marketers on staff.  Display advertising is a significant component for brand-focused companies and one of the most complex of the new digital channels. Even if it‟s managed through an agency, the in-house team should be conversant in the wide variety of ancillary technologies that are a part of the display ecosystem, including data providers, measurement services, authentication providers, ad servers and rich media companies.  Finally, teams will benefit from having one or more people who are comfortable with statistics in a general capacity. In addition to many ways in which statistics are integral to database marketing, this skill is invaluable in seeing through flimsy arguments from vendors and analysts alike. Focus on content creation and management Marketing is shifting from the campaign model to an “always-on” set of conversations and content interactions. To a degree, this also shifts creative efforts away from the “big idea” toward a collection of small ideas and executions that should be tested and optimized. A well-rounded team will have skill sets that include the following:  The cost-benefit ratio for having landing page expertise is among the most favorable in marketing. Landing page design best practices coupled with the ability to run basic statistical analyses of A/B tests gives marketing departments a powerful way to affect conversion. More than once we heard from marketers who, having enough expertise in their department to implement, test and optimize landing pages, made them remarkably independent of the technology group.  Even as social media commands industry attention, email marketing is the primary conduit to customers. Understanding of email list segmentation and deliverability is too often lacking.  Social media and PR have merged in many respects. The technical aspects are relatively simple, but quite varied. Necessary skills include familiarity with distribution services, writing press releases with search engines in mind, and enough web analytics to be able to track results. Of course, the most important assets in these efforts are a good ear for the needs of the customer and an authentic voice that can articulate what the company is doing to satisfy them. Page 13 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 14. Focus on user experience User experience is a term sometimes used synonymously with usability, although the latter is really a sub-discipline. In addition to usability, user experience design can bring together elements of psychology, programming and design, among others. At its root is the goal of improving a person‟s interaction with a product, tool, site or system. User experience is subjective. While you can define specific elements within it (how long it takes to accomplish task A, for example), user experience is also a set of feelings brought on by the interaction. For example, the aesthetic components of Apple‟s product line contribute to the user experience, although their effect is impossible to quantify.  Usability testing is among the most accessible tests available to marketers. It‟s inexpensive and can be carried out quickly. It‟s also highly educational and very likely to point out aspects and issues of the tested material the designers have missed. It‟s also one of the best ways to foster communication between technical and marketing staffers. Watching someone fumble through a process that was thought to be simple is a much better motivator than a sheaf of notes from a product manager.  With the cacophony of individual voices talking about a brand in the social sphere, persona development is an effective and simple way to help marketing organize its understanding of the customer base. By creating a manageable number of distinct personas who represent major customer types, the team can consider how their decisions, technology choices and campaigns will be received.  Listening is a key to a new kind of marketing. The industry is moving away from the inside-out model that has dominated for decades. Understanding customers' needs depends on hearing what they‟re saying andwhat they‟re implying, as well as noticing what they‟re not saying. #3. Failing fast…without learning The best way to manage transformation and strive for excellence is to build technical, operational and strategic knowledge of digital marketing. The previous section addressed one way to achieve this via training and team building. The other route is experimentation. Digital technologies allow us „fail (or succeed) faster‟ and learn quickly, often from experiments with little or no hard costs. But the advantages of easy experimentation are lost if they aren't aligned with strategy and given adequate time to develop. SMBs are especially susceptible to the pattern of trying something new once or perhaps a few times but without adjusting the experiment. In Figure 7 we see that only 25% of companies take a long view (giving an experiment more than a few cycles to succeed) and that average drops for small and medium sized businesses. They‟re also more than twice as likely as the average to conduct only a single test. Several best practices can be applied to avoid wasting time on experiments, regardless of their outcome. 1. Simply, start every initiative with an experimental plan. This should outline the expectations, timeline, and planned variations in the test (see next section). All of this amount to patience. “Fail fast” doesn‟t mean we should simply roll something out, wait for it to have great success, and can it when that doesn‟t happen. Most social media efforts would have died off long ago if this were case (and certainly many have). The trick is to learn from failure, or conversely, to not be satisfied with quick success. Page 14 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 15. Figure 7: Approaches taken to experimentation. 14% 25% Long view/ long term 61% Medium view/ several program cycles Short view / single test Number of respondents: 574 2. Before you begin, plan the variations that will be explored during the run of the experiment. The idea is not to over-complicate, but to broaden findings. For example, if the question is whether Twitter is right for the social media plan, there are a number of ways to approach using Twitter before you can know whether it‟s a success or non-starter. Time Test Result Lesson Twitter – post once per day Growth at 4/day Week 1 Twitter – post 4x/day Growth at 12/day 1x/day underperforms Week 2 Twitter – post 8x/day Growth at 13/day 4x/day enough Week 3 Twitter – posts highlight company 5 direct interactions/ day Week 4 personality included Twitter – keep personality posts out of 1 direct interaction/ day Followers respond to our Week 5 stream company personality 3. Set knowledge goals to ensure every experiment generates value. These goals are the answers to questions set before a new initiative. This allows tangible targets and timelines to be set before a new program gets launched, in contrast with revenue goals set early that may prove unrealistic. Successful knowledge goals are specific and relate to the nuts and bolts of campaigns and programs. It‟s important they be assigned like other tasks and there‟s accountability for them being completed. Page 15 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 16. #4. Tech without people/people without tech The digital revolution has introduced technology into the marketer‟s world at unprecedented speed. The demands of new tools for technical support seem to always outpace organizations‟ ability to satisfy them; marketers point to a lack of technological resources as a key issue. Like any need in the market, this technology gap has given rise to a number of technologies that seek to help the marketer “do more with less.” Some give marketers the ability to accomplish tasks such as landing page testing without expert assistance. Others automate repetitive or complex functions, such as triggered email delivery. Yet while technologies can ease the marketer‟s burden, they can also represent huge time sinks if organization‟s fall into one of the following traps: 1. Making the wrong call on build vs. buy The decision on whether to build technologies in-house or buy them is complex, and it‟s one many organizations face at some point. Marketers are often caught in the middle as those on the tech side identify limitations with off-the-shelf solutions and finance compares costs. Information is a marketer‟s best weapon in this process. Having data on potential revenue or savings will help make the case for a more rapid (and potentially expensive) outsourced solution or building in-house. There‟s no easy answer on how to determine the correct course of action, but marketers should be part of the conversation and weigh the variables:  Timing – SaaS solutions offer technology that can be accessed in days or weeks instead of the months that are usually part of an internal development project.  Feature set vs. necessary features – there‟s usually a gulf between a technology‟s full capability and what it‟s really going to be used for. Features are important, but at what pace? Is it worth delaying an implementation because features that may not be important (especially during a learning curve) can be built and customized?  Unforeseen change – one advantage outsourced solutions have is the relationship is flexible. If an industry-changing event takes place (Google comes out with a free version, for example), companies have the option of not renewing the contract when it expires. SaaS companies are also in a position to respond to “game-changers” much more rapidly than an in-house team, unless it‟s specifically dedicated to marketing or to the technology in question.  Support – for many, this is the big question. After an internal effort produces a custom piece of technology that can only be serviced and upgraded by in-house staff, what will the support commitment be? What‟s a realistic comparison between the support needs of one solution and the other, and conversely, the tech support that can be expected from each? 2. Not investing in the right tech At SMBs, staff often makes up the largest share of a marketing budget. They’re asked to move mountains and work hard to do so. Companies that look for technologies to help them can benefit by saving time that’s better spent on higher level activities. Not looking for the advantages offered by technology can waste time a marketing team doesn’t have. A tell-tale sign there’s a tool out there that might save you time: spending hours each week using a spreadsheet program for something other than the budget. 3. Not investing in the right people Page 16 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 17. Probably the most common mistake when it comes to technology is not supporting it with sufficient human resources to take full advantage. Important investments should be accompanied by either hiring or training, alongside defined job responsibilities that make the performance of the technology analogous with the performance of the person or people managing it. #5. What’s your motivation? The next time sink focuses on experimentation and plotting the straightest course to positive change. Strategy may be the best way to choose new initiatives, but it‟s not the only way. For SMBs that can‟t stop to rework their strategy with every change in the market, there is an array of causes, but all motivations for experimentation are not created equal. Figure 8: Factors that spark new initiatives 56% Competitor efforts 45% 50% Analyst recommendations* 40% 45% Aligned with existing core competence 38% 43% Aligned with long term strategy 52% 39% Management theories 26% 36% Social media buzz 26% 22% SMB organizations Press coverage 24% Large orgs. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Number of respondents: 574 What should drive experimentation? 1. In many business scenarios, following a competitor is a good way to stay in second place. But in terms of fielding new technologies, companies can benefit by watching and waiting. If you‟re not going to be the first to market, be the best. Calibrate experiments using the public response to your competitor‟s efforts, and improve on them. 2. Analyst recommendations are a good way to take advantage of the broad view that an independent third party has of a market space. 3. Alignment with existing competencies is also an important indicator of success; the more familiar the organization is with the terrain, the better it can apply a new technique or technology. If a company has built widgets and understands the principals of atomization of Page 17 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 18. content, it‟s more likely to get a mobile phone application right on its first try. 4. The top answer among marketers at large companies 52% was that alignment with strategy was a key characteristic in evaluating a potential experiment. If a new tactic or opportunity appears to fit with strategy, it‟s more likely to yield results, but even a failed experiment is valuable, because the learnings apply to an important area of knowledge. SMBs don‟t always spend the time to lay out a comprehensive strategy, and are more likely to use external information, such as competitor efforts, to identify new initiatives. What shouldn’t drive experimentation? 1. Fervor and attention don‟t necessarily equate to a sound business case. Using buzz in social media or industry press as a guide has led to more failed experiments and wasted time than successes. The frenzy to create Facebook pages by small businesses owes to the coverage that practice has received in all types of media. But for many companies, their Facebook page is sitting quietly, waiting for a conversation that‟s never going to happen. 2. Finally, we arrive at the worst reason to mount an experiment, and the one that marketers most enjoyed discussing in our interviews: the dreaded C-level whim. Whether it starts when a child is seen using a previously unknown “hot” website,, or in response to a golf partner asking about iPhone apps, experiments that are generated outside of marketing tend to be failures. It‟s not always the case, especially when senior management has been with the company from the start, and understands the brand as well as anyone. #6. The tyranny of S.O.P Routines are comforting. They make sense of an otherwise overwhelming set of tasks. Standard operating procedure is a detailed routine that describes the individual steps in an operation – anything from creating an email newsletter to building a report from web analytics to distributing a release. They‟re a necessary and helpful way of standardizing, teaching and institutionalizing knowledge. They‟re also wrong much of the time. SOP is at its best when it has time to develop and there‟s a review system in place. Iteration after iteration is what makes for a superior procedure. The problem is that in digital marketing, time is at a premium. The rate of change is such that marketers are contending with a different landscape from one campaign or program to the next. That‟s a difficult environment for SOP to evolve; instead, it sets quickly. That‟s a problem. The assumption with digital is we‟ll learn through experience and optimize the process along the way. The reality is we're very likely to do tomorrow what we did yesterday because we‟re comfortable with a known quantity, even if it‟s not the best way of doing something. Companies that avoid these pitfalls do so by thinking ahead.  Plan for new procedures – resist the urge to jump into a new program or process and simply “start doing.” Get people together, talk about goals for the program, but also for learning about the medium, and highlight the variables in the process that are likely to be important.  Keep coming back – as painful as it is to schedule another meeting, regular reviews are a key to avoiding a flawed SOP. Plan ahead to review not just what you‟re doing, but how you‟re doing it. What worked, what didn‟t, how long did it take and did it have to? These are important questions when undertaking a new program, adopting a new technology or simply examining the key activities for your team. Page 18 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 19.  Get fresh eyes. – It‟s human nature that once we‟re used to something it becomes very hard to see how it can be improved. This is one of the main reasons consultants and agencies can be so useful. They bring a new, and hopefully objective, perspective. New hires can also be used in this role. In addition to getting them familiar with the department and its programs, having new marketers review and comment on processes can highlight flaws that are invisible to veterans. #7. Bad, bad data The most common waste of time and resources in business is to make decisions without data. Even at small companies, where being flexible is a great advantage, operating by gut instinct will eventually cost time and money. But at least most of those who are operating by the seat of their pants know that they‟re doing it – they‟re aware that they may be making a mistake and are careful to keep an open mind to the possibility that they‟re wrong. A more insidious problem is decision-making based on bad data. Our confidence in numbers is often out of proportion with their validity. It seems to be human nature to trust numbers, even when the evidence suggests the source isn‟t reliable. Companies base whole strategies on customer surveys conducted without statistical rigor, or invest in a new direction indicated by a single test or case study. Watch out for these repeat offenders:  In many industries, there‟s a healthy skepticism of survey data, but that tends to break down when it‟s an internal survey; polls of customers and prospects that are used to explore their needs, possible features or shifts in strategy. Often these surveys are fielded specifically to support a favored business case within the company. Here‟s how it often goes down: A survey goes out. Response isn‟t great, but a hundred or so responses are collected. Whoever's responsible starts slicing up the sample by the people that matter, perhaps by role, company size, current v prospective customers and the like. The small groups of respondents in each of these slices aren‟t large enough to be statistically valid, but when the figures are there in black and white, they become impossible to discount. “Forty percent of our respondents want something” is powerful stuff even if what we‟re really saying is, “Five people want this.”  Then there‟s the power of the anecdote – that story from customer service, a blog comment or email that resonates. Anecdotes are best used to humanize a statistical reality. “Joyce lost her health care in 2007. When she contracted external lung syndrome…etc, etc.” The danger is when there‟s no corroborating evidence to back up the anecdote. It‟s a part of our psychology to latch onto stories, particularly if they agree with our beliefs. So one comment becomes the rallying cry, and its impact has more to do with the status of its champion than with any sort of formal inquiry.  One danger for marketers is setting benchmarks too early in the life of a program or campaign. Putting numbers behind an idea is the marketing equivalent of inviting a vampire into the house. Good luck trying to get rid of it. Wise marketers should keep that in mind when first experimenting with new tactics and approaches. Low early numbers that are meaningless in theory can kill an idea in reality, just as meaningless high numbers will unnecessarily inflate expectations and affect strategy.  Sample size is a problem for marketers who test, and that can lead to setting the wrong benchmarks. They‟d like to compare results based on a hard metric like conversion, cost of Page 19 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010
  • 20. acquisition, or customer lifetime value, but there isn‟t enough volume. This is especially common in B2B, where closed deals are rare and communication between sales and marketing is endangered. The solution for many is to look at more plentiful measures, but that tends to lead them to search and email clicks. That‟s a problem. Very often the aspects of an ad or email that generate a click aren‟t those that make a sale down the road. This leads to optimization efforts that actually depress conversion in favor of more page views, clicks, etc. Some companies have found signs of true engagement are a better indicator of future sales than traffic measures. Examples of this include repeat visits, white paper downloads, the reading of certain pages, widget interaction, email sign-ups, and podcast/webinar attendance. “Time on site” is a popular choice, but a tricky one, since accurately measuring session times is a challenge for analytics. Page 20 Top 7 Time Sinks and Solutions All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2010