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Planning your 2014 media budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture


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It used to be easy to rent some email lists, take down a few webinars, and find yourself rolling in opportunities. Now you’re seeing conversion rates go down and cost of customer acquisition go up. As you plan media for 2014, you know things are different, but you may not know what to do differently. To get a new perspective on your media plan for next year, fill out the form on this page to download The Starr Conspiracy white paper “Planning your 2014 media budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture.” You will:

• Build brand better with digital display
• Use behavioral data to find “look-alike buyers”
• Track KPIs across all of your channels
• Optimize in real time based on performance trends
• Reach buyers before they get too deep into the selling cycle

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Planning your 2014 media budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture

  2. 2. INTRODUCTION For many enterprise software and services companies that specialize in HR,1 marketing needs have gotten far more complex. What worked before suddenly isn’t enough. It used to be easy to rent some email lists, take down a few webinars, and find yourself rolling in opportunities. Now you’re seeing conversion rates go down and cost of customer acquisition go up. As you plan media for 2014, you know things are different, but you may not be quite sure what to do. 1 Now there are more channels and a lot more noise. Whether you’re managing a company, an entire marketing operation, or a demand generation effort, you’re feeling it. You’ve got to answer to a board, a CFO, or a CMO who wants to know where that money’s going and what they’re getting for it. You can talk about cost per lead, conversion rates, and amount of deal value in the pipeline. But let’s face it: There’s a lot of data to pull together — and data rules these days. Band-Aid solutions won’t cut it. Even though marketers in this space have done a good job of embracing metrics and being numbers-driven, it’s time to cast a wider net. To figure out your 2014 media, you need to see what B2C marketers are doing. They’ve FYI, we’re talking about you. We’re using the term HR broadly to include HR, payroll, recruiting, compliance, learning, rewards and recognition, assessments, leadership development, and all that other stuff. Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 2 got bigger budgets, and they’re buying in greater volume. B2B marketers can learn a few things from their B2C counterparts. That’s what we’ll discuss in this paper. We hope we can point you in the right direction and help you bring a greater level of sophistication to your work. This can be our little secret, but we know there are probably more than a few days when you’re not entirely sure how accurate your numbers really are. What you do know is that the status quo won’t cut it much longer.
  3. 3. CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE Maturity comes with its own set of problems. Think about when you were a kid. Everything was cool. All you had to do was play video games and show up to take holiday pictures with your hair combed. Then — boom — you’re a teenager. Suddenly, you’ve got your dad yelling at you about your low SAT scores. It’s the same way in growing companies — except substitute “CEO” for “dad” and “marketinggenerated contribution to annual revenue” for “SAT scores.” Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 3 As this industry matures and your company grows, your target numbers are only getting bigger and the suspect universe seems to be getting smaller. There are only about 2.5 million U.S. and 7 million global HR professionals on LinkedIn. Of that number, only about 15 percent are decision-makers — so 375,000 in the U.S. and slightly more than 1 million globally. But it gets smaller. Industry media is only going to pull in about 25 percent of the overall audience. That’s not big enough to produce the results you need, and while still valuable, these channels are oversaturated with messages. To calibrate your media strategy for the current reality, you need to understand a little bit about some of the latest trends in B2B marketing: Nurturing 2.0. We don’t need to tell you about lead nurturing. Enterprise software companies are far more data-driven than other B2B categories and were early adopters of marketing automation solutions such as Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop, and Pardot. As a result, you’re already on board the lead-nurturing bandwagon. However, get ready to kick things up a notch if you haven’t already. Behavioral marketing and automated nurturing are becoming far more sophisticated, and simple automated three- to five-step nurtures focusing on a couple of key buying personas won’t cut it anymore. Consider this: There are now intent-based marketing programs coming online that trigger automated responses from competitors when they convert on one of your assets. Imagine a prospect downloading your white paper and getting an email with your competitor’s white paper almost immediately. The degree of sophistication you need is increasing.
  4. 4. CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE Programmatic buying. If it’s digital, it can be tracked, analyzed, and turned into rules and algorithms. With programmatic buying of digital media, you can bid on pre-qualified advertising inventory in real time. With traditional buying, you buy advertising inventory in advance at a pre-negotiated price and ads are served regardless of the quality of the audience or the campaign’s objectives. With programmatic buying, optimizations are analyzed and adjusted in real time to achieve the campaign’s goals. This process allows for more efficient media buying and strategic campaigns that are more granular, which lowers the CPL and increases the overall volume of leads generated. engaged with your brand. You can gather more data about who your buyer really is and tailor your offers, messages, and brand appropriately. It’s especially valuable because sometimes your buyers aren’t who you think they are. For example, you may think the buyer of your performance management software is a 45- to 50-year-old white female HR executive — and many times it may be. But what if it’s a 25-year-old white female who’s a line-of-business manager who has nothing to do with HR? You can’t reach that prospect through industry channels. B2C marketers are already using BT to put dynamic copy within ads. With BT, you can deliver the right message to the right buyer at the right time at the lowest cost. Behavioral targeting (BT). Looking to take your programmatic media buying one step further? With the simple application of a third-party tracking pixel from your programmatic media vendor, you can collect behavioral data and gain insights about the visitors coming to your website and downloading your offers. After you collect the behavioral data, you can use it to create a prospecting audience that has similar behaviors to those who are already Predictive analytics. Many HR software companies are building predictive analytics into their products, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to marketers from these same companies that it’s time to strive for predictive analytics with their own data. But as we’ll get into in the next section, that’s easier said than done. Unless you have a DeLorean and a flux capacitor. 4 2 3 Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 4 All of this may seem daunting, but doing nothing isn’t an option. You can’t go back to the future. 2 Most of you are selling products with long sales cycles that start long before your prospect fills out a form for an asset. However, many of the top-of-the-funnel activities from back in the day are now closer to the middle. 3 According to Forrester, your buyer could be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent of the way through their decision-making process by that point. 4 You’re out of the game before you were ever in it. There are some different ways to get to these buyers earlier in the process, but first you need to put yourself in a position to succeed.
  5. 5. BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED DATA So here’s the good news: In other industries, marketing sometimes gets a bad rap for not focusing enough on the numbers. That’s not true in this industry. Enterprise software marketers are typically very datadriven, numbers-oriented professionals. Although everyone seems to be talking about multichannel marketing today, most marketers in this space have been multichannel marketers for years. However, you’ve added more channels to your marketing mix — SEM, content syndication, email, digital display, pay per lead, retargeting, digital events, live events, social media, 5 6 Quantcast. Display Ad Clickers Are Not Your Customers. 2013. Ibid Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 5 and so on. And now four significant challenges loom for enterprise software marketers: The conversion is the great divide. Your media sources can deliver data up to the moment of conversion. You have all of the data in your marketing automation database about what happens after the conversion. Inability to combine the two is blinding most B2B companies. Without bridging the data divide, it’s difficult to make media buying decisions and optimizations with any level of confidence. It’s all guesswork without the two data sources being married. “Not big enough” data. Few companies are able to aggregate enough historical media and marketing data to guide future decisions. Because the media numbers that companies generate from quarter to quarter and year to year are relatively small compared with B2C advertisers, even if you start now, it’s going to take time to build your database. Data analysis requires interpretation. Sometimes it’s easy to look at data and come to a conclusion that is simple, obvious, and wrong. Case in point: Does a low click-to-conversion ratio on digital display ads mean that the ads are ineffective? Not necessarily. It might not have anything to do with the sites where your ads appear. So, before you start tinkering with art and copy or dumping a media channel, keep this in mind: A Quantcast study found 100 times more view conversions than click conversions per campaign. 5 Rather than clicking and converting immediately, ad viewers waited. The same is true in SEM — it takes 3.5 days, on average, for a conversion after an initial click on a paid search link. 6 There’s not enough runway for optimization. You’re under more pressure than ever to spend media budget efficiently, and you must be able to move money from underperforming channels to areas that get results. If your pay-per-lead efforts are producing a sky-high cost per lead but email newsletters are surprisingly strong, you need to know before the end of the quarter. If you can’t aggregate and analyze your results on the fly, you’ve got trouble.
  6. 6. FIVE ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR 2014 MEDIA BUDGET You already know that you need to shake some stuff up with media next year. It’s OK if you don’t know where to focus. We’ve got some thoughts about this one. We know you’re under a lot of pressure to spend your budget efficiently. Fortunately, there are lots of new opportunities in digital media that not only give you more bang for your buck, they’re easier to track and show ROI. It turns out that CFOs kind of care about that. What are five essentials for your 2014 media budget? TIME FRAME JANUARY Drop Down CHANNEL IMPRESSIONS CLICKS CTR SEM 126,801 984 0.78% Content Syndication 213,000 100 Sponsored Email 85,000 1,789 eDM 131,000 Webinars Re-targeting ESTIMATED PIPELINE TOTAL COST LEADS $ 11,875 32 $ 0.05% $ 10,000 3 2.10% $ 12,504 135 9,445 7.21% $ - 40,000 3,201 8.00% $ 1,309,702 1,229 0.09% $ CONVERSION RATE 800,000 3.25% $ 75,000 3.00% $ 3,375,000 7.55% 472 $ 11,800,000 5.00% 20,000 396 $ 9,900,000 12.37% 2,600 48 $ 1,200,000 3.91% Events & Trade Shows n/a n/a 0.00% $ 75,000 59 $ 1,475,000 n/a Branding Display 656,910 731 0.11% $ 45,759 16 $ 400,000 2.19% Print 826,943 956 0.12% $ 12,643 12 $ 300,000 Web Downloads 109,560 7,632 6.97% $ - 507 $ 12,675,000 7,478 All Others 56,798 2,943 5.18% $ TOTAL 3,555,714 29,010 0.82% $ 197,859.00 TOTAL IMPRESSIONS CLICKS CTR What’s working? What’s not? Marketing today requires optimization based on holistic performance, and you can’t get there without a unified dashboard of your programs with the data behind it. You can drop some serious coin on programming to automate the whole thing, but if you aren’t doing anything currently, it doesn’t need to be anything more sophisticated than a spreadsheet. It takes some effort, but it’s worth it. You can simplify decisions, track KPIs across all of your channels, and optimize in real time based on the trends. Drop Down MONTH 1.26% 6.64% TOTAL COST 118 $ 2,950,000 4.01% 1,798 $ 44,950,000 6.20% LEADS ESTIMATED PIPELINE CONVERSION RATE January 3,555,714 29,010 0.82% $ 197,859.00 1,798 $ 44,950,000 6.20% February 4,987,301 26,208 0.53% $ 224,998.00 1,562 $ 39,050,000 5.96% March 4,770,566 23,871 0.50% $ 215,009.00 1,598 $ 39,950,000 6.69% April 5,465,039 24,721 0.45% $ 238,901.00 1,645 $ 41,125,000 6.65% May 5,598,012 27,801 0.50% $ 241,056.00 1,769 $ 44,225,000 6.36% June 5,251,093 26,932 0.51% $ 238,498.00 1,791 $ 44,775,000 6.65% $ 232,919.00 1,832 $ 45,800,000 6.75% July 5,002,861 27,143 0.54% August - - - - - $ - - September - - - - - $ - - October - - - - - $ - - November - - - - - $ - - October - - - - - $ - - TOTAL Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 6 1. Look at media holistically. 34,630,586 185,686 0.54% $ 1,589,240.00 1,798 $ 299,875,000 6.46% 2. Focus more on buyers, less on channels. Up to now, most marketers in this industry have depended on industry media channels to get results and have been more than comfortable making the direct media buys from the channels they need. In the future, you’re going to need to expand your reach outside of industry media. Buyers have lives outside of industry channels. You need to reach them there before they get too deep into the selling cycle and your competition establishes the rules of engagement in their favor.
  7. 7. FIVE ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR 2014 MEDIA BUDGET 3. Start bringing behavior into the mix. 4. Get tracking data that’s specific to you. The best way to reach prospects outside of industry media is to better understand the behavior of your buyer. Set retargeting and conversion pixels on your thank-you pages. These pixels gather valuable information about actual prospects who have visited your site and/or converted. As you match this data to qualified leads and opportunities, you’ll learn a lot about your buyers and your brand. Use this data to create look-alike audiences and reach them through programmatic buying. You’ll be able to expand your reach at a lower CPM and get in front of prospects you could never reach before. Also, you can use behavior data to update the personas and enablement materials your salespeople depend on. 7 Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 7 You might already use basic site analytics on your website to gather data about buyers. You might even be getting behavioral data from media providers. However, this data isn’t enough. Within your own site, behavioral data may change slightly — and significantly — from product to product and page to page. Vendor website data isn’t really relevant because you can’t assume an overlap of behaviors from their site to yours. You need to use tracking pixels very deliberately within your own site. Get first-party data that is relevant to you, not some third party. 5. Don’t underestimate the value of SEM and display retargeting coupled together. Although many of you are already putting budget into these areas, you may feel a lot of frustration about low conversion rates. Remember that the value of these activities isn’t always immediately apparent. A comScore study found that prospects who viewed search marketing ads for a company were 82 percent more likely to buy the product in question than if they received no exposure. However, when the search ads were paired with display ads, the researchers saw a 119 percent lift in sales. 7 Get more impressions in front of the right people and you will get results.
  8. 8. GET IT RIGHT FROM THE START IN 2014 Every day, marketing becomes a more datadriven world. It’s easy to feel like you’re behind the curve. You don’t feel like your infrastructure is right. You don’t have enough budget. You don’t have the right people. How can you possibly do this? Where do you even start? Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 8 You start with the data. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have it. You can get it, and the faster you start, the sooner you’ll get there. And the journey will be worth it. The answers lie in the numbers. And that’s where marketing nirvana exists. Get the data and you will find enlightenment. You won’t have to search for prospects. You’ll know where to find them and how to reach them with the right message in the right place. You can focus your spend and achieve an efficient cost per lead. The Starr Conspiracy is ready when you are. We’ve been in demand generation in enterprise software for more than a decade. We know the industry, we know B2B marketing, and we buy more media than any agency in this space. We’ve also learned a thing or two from the B2C side, so we can get you insights and results faster. If you need help getting your media budget shipshape, schedule a meeting with us. All you need to do is email KPIs alone aren’t always enough for accurate data analysis. Sometimes, you need a little extra expertise to lean on. Want to avoid pulling the plug on something that’s actually working for you? You need a partner with specific experience in this area. Talk to you soon.
  9. 9. ABOUT STEVE SMITH ABOUT KRISTIN CROSTHWAIT Steve Smith is a partner at The Starr Conspiracy and executive managing editor for The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit, an experienced team of thought leadership and research experts who deliver the strategic guidance and big ideas you need to improve marketing results and truly connect with buyers. Steve has developed industry-leading brand and message positions for many category leaders in enterprise software and authored more than 500 white papers and research reports on HR technology and human capital management topics. He’s also a former newspaper journalist and HR communications consultant for enterprise-class companies. Kristin Crosthwait is director of digital strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. She’s a veteran demand generation strategist, media buying expert, and seasoned account director with experience with both B2B and B2C companies. She’s in her element setting out a vision for search, display, and other digital media channels and then mapping and managing campaigns that bring a strategy to life. If you want to bring in qualified leads at the lowest cost so you can exceed your most aggressive ROI and revenue goals, you need Kristin leading your media efforts. ABOUT THE STARR CONSPIRACY You shouldn’t have to pay an agency to get to know your industry. The Starr Conspiracy already knows your market segment, who you are, and where you fit in. We’re a strategic marketing and advertising agency devoted exclusively to enterprise software and services. When you partner with us, it’s to build market share, multiply brand awareness, and drive sales leads — not to bone up on the basics. We’ve been “out there” for more than a decade, so you can hit the ground running. Founded in 1999 and located in Fort Worth, Texas, The Starr Conspiracy has won eight best places to work awards and countless creative awards. Visit us on the Web at Planning your 2014 Media Budget: Five essentials for HR technology companies that want to see efficiency, ROI, and the big picture | 9