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Forrester conference focuses on digital, social

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Digital marketing, social media and analytics were some of the hot topics at Forrester Research’s Marketing Leadership Forum 2012, held last month in Los Angeles. The conference attracted about 850 attendees, who heard from b-to-b marketers from such companies as Adobe Systems, Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp., as well as Forrester analysts. In an opening keynote presentation, Ann Lewnes, senior VP-global marketing at Adobe, discussed how the company is using digital marketing to grow its brand. “The mission of the company is to change the world through digital experiences,” Lewnes said. When she joined Adobe five years ago from Intel Corp., she said she was surprised at how little digital marketing the company was doing. Now, digital marketing makes up 74% of Adobe’s marketing budget. “We are a brand on the move. However, many of our customers don’t know about our brand transformation,” Lewnes said, pointing to Adobe’s expanding mission to not only help its customers create content but also to optimize and monetize content. Lewnes discussed Adobe’s digital marketing efforts, from making website experiences personal and relevant to using social media to engage customers and prospects. “Social is the new normal,” she said. “Two or three years ago, we were nowhere with social. We were blogging. Now, we have a social media hub [in corporate marketing], we have social media evangelists and we do social media training.” She pointed to three types of social media content at Adobe: Company-driven, such as tweeting about a new product; community-driven, such as responding to a question initiated by a user; and “me-driven,” or personal messages by an employee that relate to the company as well. Lewnes also discussed the importance of measuring digital media efforts, including social media. “I have to have an ROI target at the beginning of a campaign and show performance against goals,” she said. “The best part is, hopefully, this has all worked out and I can ask for more money.” In another presentation, Tami Cannizzaro, executive director of marketing-industry solutions at IBM, discussed how to build a digital strategy to effectively reach customers and prospects. “Not surprisingly, nearly 80% of CMOs are really struggling with the data explosion,” she said, pointing to findings from an IBM study of CMOs. The study, “From Stretched to Strengthened,” was based on face-to-face interviews IBM conducted with 1,734 chief marketing officers in 64 countries in spring 2011. According to the study, the area in which CMOs feel most unprepared is handling the data explosion (71%), followed by social media (68%), growth of channel and device choices (65%), shifting consumer demographics (63%) and financial constraints (59%). “One of the hardest jobs as a marketer is to hold a conversation your prospects really want to hear,” Cannizzaro said. “It is very important, when building a digital campaign, to start with a conversation you’re trying to engage the customer in, not trying to sell.” She identified three steps in developing an effective digital campaign: Listening to conversations, such as those going on in social media; identifying hot topics and customer pain points; and creating a digital experience that targets customers and prospects with relevant content. “It needs to be a simple environment, such as getting a prospect to register for an asset or download an asset,” she said. IBM used this approach in developing a digital campaign called “Generation C—the Connected Customer,” which resulted in an email click-to-conversion rate of 42%; a campaign microsite click-to-conversion rate of 80%; and an average of 4.3 minutes spent on the microsite (www.ibmconnectedcustomer.com). In a breakout session titled “B2B Marketers: Turn Social Media Into a Driver of Demand,” Jeff Ernst, principal analyst at Forrester, said b-to-b marketers must focus on the “social” part of social media rather than the “media” part. “Many b-to-b marketers are using social media in a random manner, not systematically,” he said. Ernst compared social media to an engine and said marketers need to be systematic in approaching it. The fuel is creating social content, the engine is growing and engaging in social relationships, and the output is action as a result of social media. Ernst cited several examples of b-to-b marketers that are doing a good job with a systematic approach to social media, including Boeing Co., CDW and EMC Corp. “EMC monitors social media and takes action,” Ernst said. For example, a Twitter user made a comment that EMC products were “expensive.” Someone on EMC’s social listening team saw the tweet, engaged with the user and learned they were waiting for a quote, routed the request to EMC’s social selling team to provide a quote, and EMC ended up closing the deal, Ernst said. M
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