What’s the Big Deal About Predictive Analytics? A Conversation with Brian Kardon

Brian Kardon is a respected marketing thought leader, a “Top 10 Global CMO,” and a seasoned executive with a 20-year track record of success. He previously held top marketing roles at Eloqua, Forrester Research, and Reed Business Information before taking the reins as CMO at Lattice Engines, a pioneer in predictive applications for marketing and sales. I caught up with Brian recently to pick his brain about the sudden wave of interest in All Things Predictive.

(HS) Brian, I was at Dreamforce in San Francisco earlier this month and it seemed like every other exhibitor was trumpeting “analytics”. Even Salesforce announced their own Analytics cloud. Why do you think analytics is suddenly such a hot topic?

Brian Kardon(BK) Several factors have come together to bring analytics to life. First, the era of big data is here with the volume and velocity growing exponentially. Social media has contributed greatly, certainly, but so has the overall increase in web traffic, digital transactions, video and apps. The sheer volume of these data presents an unprecedented opportunity for marketers. The second is about the technology. Advances in technology now allow us to cost-effectively capture, store, share, analyze and visualize these data – things like faster CPUs, cheaper memory, and massive parallel processing. Exploring big data with analytics is within the reach of more organizations than ever before.

The use of analytics in B2B marketing and sales is actually lagging other industries. We see it all around us. It is used in healthcare to determine which patients are at risk of developing certain conditions. It is used in fraud detection to predict which transactions are most likely to be fraudulent. Online retailers like Amazon and Netflix use it to make movie and book recommendations that are predicted to result in a purchase.

(HS) Lattice offers “advanced predictive analytics” for marketing and sales. To a layman, how would you describe the power of predictive analytics solutions?

Sales and marketing teams have to answer some pretty important questions every day. For example: Which of my prospects should I call first? Who is most likely to buy? Why? What else can I sell to my current customers? Which of my customers are likely to churn? For the most part, companies rely on instinct and, perhaps, lead scoring via marketing automation. Predictive analytics is different. It relies on data science to answer these questions by analyzing past “success events” and providing predictions based on a model. It is science, not guessing. And it is being used by organizations today. It is not some future thing. It is now. Read More »

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Research Report: Lead Gen Not as Easy as Marketers Think

I just returned from a few days at Dreamforce in San Francisco, the annual circus-slash-conference hosted by CRM leader Salesforce.com, and was struck by the wave of technologies on display that centered on analytics. Highlighted by the launch of Salesforce’s own analytics cloud, the current trend in marketing technology is clearly focused on helping marketers make smart decisions and build smarter campaigns.

Just look at the sudden influx of companies boasting so-called “predictive analytics” solutions – software that allows marketers to better score leads, acquire new names, target market sectors, and even refine message and content, based on highly sophisticated algorithms.

Ascend2 Lead Generation Strategy ResearchJust when did demand generation get this complicated?

In reality, however, things aren’t quite so convoluted. The simple act of generating leads – primarily through online means – has never been easier. However, the new wave of marketing technologies may be signaling a growing acknowledgment that simply “feeding the funnel” isn’t enough – marketers need to do a better job a) generating the right kind of leads, and b) increasing the rate at which all leads convert into opportunities and deals.

This sentiment was borne out in a recent survey on lead generation strategy conducted by Ascend2 Research. In results based on responses from more than 400 business leaders and marketing professionals, Ascend2 reported that marketers’ concerns about lead generation have veered away from lead volume and towards lead quality. Read More »

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Social PPC: 17 Tips for Successful Ads on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook

It seems only yesterday that “PPC advertising” was synonymous with Google AdWords. Google still dominates search advertising – at last count, it handles roughly two-thirds of all Web search queries, a market share that won’t be decreasing any time soon. Its top 25 US-based search advertisers alone spent more than $1.3 Billion with Google in 2013.

social media advertisingIncreasingly, however, B2B marketers have other options when it comes to investing pay-per-click dollars. Foremost amongst the competition are the big three social networks: Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, all of which, to varying degrees, rely on advertising to monetize their huge user bases. In our experience with high-tech clients, we’re seeing fairly consistent success advertising on LinkedIn, primarily due to the ability to target specific demographics, a feature that Google would do well to emulate. Twitter and even Facebook have shown more limited success, but both can be a good fit for certain B2B companies whose target markets align well with specific interests or keywords.

Ready to take the plunge into Social PPC? Here are 17 tips, techniques, insights and strategies for making the most of your paid social advertising dollars:


1. Competition for ‘Sponsored Update’ campaigns is substantially greater vs. ‘LinkedIn Ad’ campaigns. In our experience, using the same targeting and bid settings for both, Ads will generate up to 5x more impressions compared to Updates. However, as “native advertising,” Sponsored Updates can also generate 5x the engagement rate (including likes and shares).

2. When posting a Sponsored Update, create a custom image, one that’s optimized for click-throughs, rather than just let LinkedIn pull an image from your post or article.

3. LinkedIn can be the most difficult (and expensive) social network on which to acquire a volume of impressions and clicks, largely due to its ability to target the optimal demographic and thus, the higher level of competition for those targets. However, it also drives much higher conversion rates (up to 7x, in our experience) compared to Twitter and Facebook. Read More »

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Case Study: Segmentation, New Creative Boosts Lead Conversion Rates by 75%

Sungard® Availability Services™ (Sungard AS) in Wayne, Pennsylvania is a global leader in disaster recovery, business continuity, and managed IT services. Sungard AS runs a highly successful demand generation program, an integrated mix of both online and offline campaigns, to generate a consistent flow of leads to the company’s sales force.

lead conversion ratesAs a company that rigorously tracks and measures the ROI from its various marketing efforts, Sungard AS knew that increasing the revenue contribution from demand generation meant either a) driving more leads into the top of the funnel, and/or b) increasing the rate at which those leads convert into sales. In support of the company’s aggressive growth plans, the marketing team set out to focus energy on increasing the rate at which raw inquiries converted to qualified sales leads, opportunities and deals.

In early 2014, Sungard AS hired B2B demand generation agency Spear Marketing Group to audit their current lead nurturing programs and to recommend improvements, with two main objectives:

• Increase the rate at which new leads and existing prospects convert to Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
• Improve deliverability and overall email performance as measured by open and click rates

Spear conducted a thorough audit of the company’s lead nurturing process, and presented a series of recommendations, focused primarily on segmentation, offer strategy, email cadence, and creative. “Sungard AS had solid creative in place and a very sophisticated nurturing program,” says Howard Sewell, Spear President. “Our job was to build on that foundation and identify opportunities for improvement. We were able to provide new ideas based on our pool of experience and what we knew was working for other companies in the tech space.” Read More »

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Sorry, But “How Many Touches Does it Take to Make a Sale?” is No Longer a Valid Question

On a recent conference call with a prospective client, the Vice President of Sales chimed in with a question:

“How many touches do you think it takes before someone becomes a lead?”

Rule of SevenIn the most diplomatic tone I could muster, I responded by stating that I didn’t think there was any correct answer to his question, and moreover, the question itself assumes a sales model that is not only long extinct, but runs completely counter to today’s modern B2B buyer behavior.

In fairness to my VP friend, he won’t be the last to ask the question (or its close cousin, “How many touches does it take to make a sale?”) What’s more surprising is that this outdated philosophy continues to merit serious discussion amongst B2B marketers and opinion-makers. A quick Web search yields dozens of blog posts and articles on the topic, many quoting the same source, a Doctor Jeffrey Lant and his “Rule of Seven,” a rule that states:

“You must contact your buyers a minimum of seven times in an 18-month period for them to remember you.”

Now, there may have been a time when the good Doctor’s rule held true, but in today’s Internet-driven world of content-centric marketing, the notion that ANY number of persistent touches is the formula to sales or marketing success is naïve at best. Read More »

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