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BtoB

Different companies, same challenges

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I recently had the chance to attend Google’s B2B Technology Roundtable in Boston. It was a great half-day meeting with some of Google's customers who work in the b-to-b technology space. Participants included Brightcove, Constant Contact, Carbonite and LogMeIn.

I really like these kinds of meetings and I appreciate that Google brings us all together to learn from each other. It was reassuring to hear that many of us are struggling with the same challenges. Here are some of the key themes discussed at the event.

  • Justifying marketing spend. We talked a lot about the challenges in justifying marketing and advertising investments. With advertising being more trackable than ever before, that makes it even more difficult in some ways. Executives want to see a clear revenue return on every marketing dollar invested. They're less willing to be patient with brand- or awareness-building initiatives. Everyone agreed that it's critical for the CEO to understand the value of advertising and support the investment. Otherwise it will be challenging to continually justify the spend. But as one of the participants put it, "No one thinks advertising works until we turn it off. Then the leads stop coming and everyone says, 'We need more advertising!' "
  • Effectiveness of display advertising. There was a lot of debate about display advertising. Does it work? Is it a waste of money? Is display better for lead gen or brand building? There was agreement that just looking at clicks is not a good way to measure the effectiveness of a display advertising campaign. Marketers have to have a much more robust way to track the real impact of display.
  • How to best use remarketing. There was an interesting conversation about remarketing. There was agreement that remarketing is an effective way to use display, but there are a lot of different ways to use it. Many of us felt that remarketing is a great way to continually target people and get them closer to purchase. Others felt it is a top-of-funnel marketing tool and should be used primarily for awareness and brand building. Some use remarketing for existing customers as an upsell tool. It was a great conversation that gave me a lot of new ideas that we're going to test.
  • The value of advertising on LinkedIn. The discussion about LinkedIn was very interesting. There was universal agreement that LinkedIn is an incredibly attractive place for b-to-b marketers to reach prospects. But none of us have figured out the best way to use it. Many attendees at the roundtable have been trying different tactics on LinkedIn with limited success. One of the roundtable participants said that the best success he had was doing a LinkedIn "quick poll." He was able to ask a few questions to a targeted audience and get some feedback. The poll also produced several quality leads. That's something I'm definitely going to try.
  • Universal Analytics. Google spent some time talking about a new "product" called Universal Analytics. This tool will capture much more robust data about the customer journey. This was very interesting to a lot of us in the room. We all struggle connecting the dots between advertising and sales. It seems that Universal Analytics could give you a better picture of all the ways a customer was influenced during the purchase process.

For advertisers, this would be a goldmine of information. But the key question is, will the data be actionable? Marketers today struggle with too much information and too little insight. Nevertheless, Universal Analytics is a very interesting new innovation from Google that we will keep an eye on.

Big thanks again to Google for hosting the B2B Technology Roundtable. These kinds of meetings are critical to marketers looking for better ways to drive the most efficiency and effectiveness out of our marketing spend. Looking forward to the next one.

Jeff Perkins is VP-global online marketing with conferencing and collaboration solutions company Premiere Global Services (PGi) (www.pgi.com). He can be reached at jeff.perkins@pgi.com, or on Twitter: @jeffperkins8.

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