Counting the leads

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Northstar Travel Media, which targets the travel, meetings and hospitality industries, last month decided to part from its previous Web analytics provider, NetInsight, and switch instead to Omniture. “Omniture will provide us with deeper and real-time Web metrics that will assist in decision-making,” said Tom Kemp, chairman-CEO of Northstar Travel Media. The publisher is also looking to bring in more “analytical talent” to enhance campaign optimization, with the goal of netting higher customer retention rates, Kemp said. The various moves at Northstar illustrate how business publishers are raising their investments to address a problem that seems to plague many business marketers as they transition to a digital age: a lack of metrics for their online programs. Only 18% of marketers plan to leverage e-metrics and other online performance indicators, according to the CMO Council's annual report on the state of marketing. Just 15% of marketers will conduct statistical analysis and predictive modeling to measure impact, and 12% will implement closed-loop systems to monitor acquisition impact and effectiveness, according to “The 2011 State of Marketing: Outlook, Intentions and Investments.” The report, which was released in July, was based on an online survey of 768 senior marketers conducted in April and May. According to the report, 64% of respondents said they will move to improve customer segmentation and targeting, while 43% said they plan to invest in digital demand-generation programs. The CMO Council is taking pains to address the gap in the marketplace. Late last month, the council submitted a proposal to BPA Worldwide to develop an auditing framework for lead life-cycle management, said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. He added that the council is currently meeting with media companies, marketers and “solution providers” to create a best practices standard and model that the BPA can use to benchmark and certify a company's Lead Engagement and Activation Process (LEAP). “It behooves the media partners [of marketers] to make sure the client has a proper system in place for taking the lead flow—the contacts—and putting them into a disciplined structure, of process conversion, and then quantify the success rate of doing this,” said Neale-May. Business publishers are stepping in to fill the void in online metrics. IDG Enterprise, for example, earlier this year started to run Brand Gen programs, which offer advertisers various types of ad units that blend branding and lead-gen elements. Through August, 25% of online brand awareness campaigns on IDG Enterprise sites consisted of Brand Gen campaigns, said Michael Friedenberg, president-CEO of IDG Enterprise, whose brands include CFOworld, CIO and Computerworld. “It allows us to be more strategically aligned,” Friedenberg said. “Instead of offering a one-off lead-generation program, we work with our advertisers to provide content marketing solutions. This allows us to provide the right content at the right time of the purchase process to the right target audience. That, in turn, helps our customer drive increased engagement and revenue growth.” LeadAccel, which IDG Enterprise debuted in January, tracks where a customer is in the purchasing cycle and provides brand content, such as white papers and videos, to try and advance the process. Through August, 20% of the leads captured via the LeadAccel program were in the “accelerated” stage, Friedenberg said, meaning those prospects who are closer to pulling the trigger than others. “Lead-gen is getting more sophisticated,” Friedenberg added. “It's not only a matter of click-through [rates] but how many assets readers are looking at when they're on the page.”
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