During the past 10 years, I've come to appreciate that powerful, successful business brands aren't cut 'n' dried—and neither are the marketers who create them. ¶ That's not to say there isn't a great deal of rigor in what modern marketers do every day to manage and monitor their efforts. The amount of planning—not to mention automation—required to mount a multitouch lead-nurturing program isn't the sort of thing people do on impulse on the back of a cocktail napkin. Moreover, marketing professionals have learned the hard way that unless they quantify their bottom-line contributions and strive to align their work with broader business objectives, they have no right to expect job security.
It's arguable that the emergence of Internet marketing is what supercharged the analytical side of the discipline. Where else but online is every action a recordable event, one that can be subjected to after-the-fact study or, increasingly, real-time analysis? This issue, for instance, features our annual Interactive Marketing Guide, where you'll find loads of specific, tactical advice about how to get the most from your online marketing investments, from e-mail and search to Web sites and virtual events. (The guide starts after page 6.)
Indeed, some say that with the profusion of possible metrics and measurements available online, the best strategy is to prune what's tracked, with an eye to measuring only those conversions that move the needle in a preferred direction, and then have a process for using this insight to make decisions. “That's the real challenge: How do you move past data collection, then reporting, then analysis, to actual business optimization,” Bryan Eisenberg, partner at Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg & Associates, says in the Web Analytics section's “Ask the Expert” column (page S20).
This issue of BtoB also contains our inaugural Social Media Awards winners, picked in eight categories from 166 entries.
Our judges found those entries extremely interesting reading for two different reasons.
First, there was the inventiveness of the marketing efforts across these new online forms. Actually, this isn't hard to understand. When you consider the negligible cost of entry for, say, a Twitter campaign, it's a fair bet that many marketers will gravitate to the channel (they have—this category saw almost the highest number of entries). But if most marketers use Twitter for economic reasons, only those with the right combination of customer insight and creativity will rise above the noise and get noticed.
Second, and just as significant, the entries contained plenty of specific information about how these social media executions were tracked, how they performed and how they accomplished their objectives. (Our just-completed “B-to-B Web Analytics Survey,” conducted in conjunction with the Web Analytics Association, found that nearly half of respondents are already measuring social media. A story on the survey appears on Page 1 of this issue. A white paper on the survey is available for paid download at www.btobonline.com/intelligencecenter.)
When it comes to social media, it seems marketers have found a way of merging their dual interests in metrics and creativity, and that's a model for success.
Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.