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Business-to-business CMOs lagging behind consumer industry in online marketing

30 December 2013

We are entering a new age for marketing, writes Lesley Hansen. But the business-to-business industry, such as telecoms, is not as advanced in using online techniques as business-to-consumer

Read more: marketing CMO telecoms conversion rate opimisation telemarketing

The dominance of the internet has totally transformed the concerns of a chief marketing officer, who needs to understand new media and the role of programmatic buying in today’s world, and to know the basics of how to apply it effectively as part of the marketing mix.

This will then help a CMO understand where the marketing landscape is going and will play an important part in creating a strategy that will scale and grow the business while delivering the numbers and targets needed today.

As today’s businesses move marketing away from being a cost centre and towards being a profit centre it has become increasingly important if the CMO is to build a legacy for the next five years.

Over the last 10 years marketing has changed beyond all recognition. Media used to be about clever creative and large budgets, and was primarily a brand awareness tool in the marketing mix. The majority of outbound marketing was by email or printed direct mail to a targeted mailing list.

Today the internet means that media has an ever increasing part to play, even for companies with small budgets. The internet provides effective media tools to hit a large audience — and allows you to measure results. In this new world the small company can compete with the large and creative media has become less important.


In the old world, most marketing activity was outbound — with telemarketing being a clear example of reaching out to a specific target list irrespective of whether they had a requirement at the time of the call. In this world, outbound marketing was used to drive inbound.

Today people can find you even if you are not doing much outbound marketing. Inbound is created through low-cost online activities such as social media and a well-designed website.

Resourcing the appropriate areas of marketing activity and understanding the drivers for inbound marketing is critical. This is most clearly seen in business-to-consumer, where targeted online advertising, comparison sites, the power of consumer feedback on influencing product sales and the use of viral messaging has been recognised as a powerful force.

Business-to-business has not taken on the cutting edge perspective to new media in the same way as business-to-consumer and there are huge opportunities for companies selling business-to- business to adopt the business-to-consumer-proven techniques.

A keystone of new online marketing is programmatic marketing, which uses real-time systems, rules and algorithms to automate the delivery of data-driven, targeted and relevant experiences to your customers as they interact with your brand’s many touchpoints.

The end-users’ experience can include targeted offers, messages, content or adverts across paid, owned and earned channels. The most powerful programmatic marketing recognises someone moving between channels and touchpoints, so that each interaction informs the next.

Owned touchpoints in the business-to-business world include your company website, mobile apps, your company Facebook page, your LinkedIn page as well as email and associated landing pages.

Earned touchpoints are those created by your target audience themselves — such as blog comments, message boards and product ratings.

Programmatic buying is the paid part of programmatic marketing: this is the automated purchase of data-driven, targeted ads whether they are online display, mobile or video ads, the best known example being Google’s pay-per-click advertising.

New tools

Programmatic buying can be accomplished through a demand-side platform or DSP that allows buyers of digital advertising to manage multiple advert and data exchange accounts through one interface.

DSPs incorporate many of the facets previously offered by advertising networks, such as a wide access to inventory and vertical and lateral targeting, with the ability to serve ads, real-time bid on ads, track the ads, and optimise. This is all kept within one interface which creates an opportunity for advertisers to control and maximise the impact of their ads.

The sophistication of the level of detail that can be tracked by the DSPs is increasing. Real-time bidding for displaying online ads takes place within the ad exchanges, and marketeers can manage their bids against the end users they require for the banners and the pricing for the data that they are layering on to target their audiences.

Much like paid search, using DSPs allows users to optimise based on set key performance indicators such as effective cost per click and effective cost per action.

The DSP allows the marketer to track a person round the web and target them with brand building at a really cheap rate to a much targeted audience — so delivering a high exposure for very little money. The marketer can then implement tracking tags on the site and measure the effectiveness of the adverts.

According to media experts DWA, 95% of a business-to-business customer’s budget was spent on traditional media with 5% allocated to the DSP, but the customer was getting 95% of results from signups from the DSP.


In this new marketing world there is a lot of wastage but the cost per person is so low that this is not important, since you are still getting to the right people for less money — and, through the data captured by the tags, it is measurable.

That DWA client now spends 80% of its budget through the DSP and only 10% on traditional media.

Most marketers have a perception of who their audience is. This approach allows you to reach these influencers. But it also allows you to get very wide, very quickly and find out if other contacts are influencers.

This can also change your perceptions of who your audience are. The improvement in identifying the people you want to target and drive them to your site is 10 to one.

Programmatic marketing requires a more comprehensive platform that can execute complex logic across a variety of systems, including website content management, email, call-centre enabled chat, mobile apps and CRM systems.

According to DWA, "More money is being spent in web development. Check your website to make sure it is built for search engine optimisation, and make sure when DSP-generated users are landing on the site they are finding the information they want.

"The important thing today is CRO — conversion rate optimisation — and this is all about presenting information on a page in a way that gets users from A to B as quickly as possible."

So what needs to change in your marketing? Content and creative need to be more tightly integrated, messages need to be kept simple, focused and consistent and to your approach needs to drive inbound traffic to your business and then capture the prospect.

Creative is less critical — and consistency between media is more important, as the user sees all media as a single common message. To capture the data, tags need to be added to your call-for-actions on your site. This code shows how many items are clicked on and which ones resulted in what actions.

Once you have the data you know who is interested in your product — and then you can market directly to them using cookie data.

Websites need to be more user-friendly, with users easily able to find the data they are looking for — as once they have arrived at your site you need to meet their needs.
Lesley Hansen is director of Hands on Marketing Ltd

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