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The Death of Traditional Leads and the Rise of Relationship Scoring

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago I started sketching out a framework for something I tagged: “Relationship Scoring.” I think traditional lead scoring is dead in the water, and over the next month I’ll be developing the nuts-and-bolts details of how – looking forward — marketing and sales will rate the value of prospects in the connected age of relationship marketing.

In light of this project, I got fired up watching Mark Benioff kick off Cloudforce in New York a couple of days ago. He delivered a bet-the-farm keynote repositioning Salesforce.com as a social media company. For two and a half hours, one of the founding fathers of SaaS  — backed up by his lieutenants, customers, and industry luminaries — caroled from the same sheet of music: “Social CRM is Coming is to Town.”

 

It wasn’t much of a surprise that Salesforce lit up the Javits Center like a container-load of fireworks with its Social CRM proclamation. Their acquisition of Radian6 (one of my “Best of Web Marketing” Picks two years ago) gave Saleforce solid-footing in the social media monitoring space. Chatter, their walled-garden social network solution for corporate and customer communications, has healthy roots. And don’t forget their 2007 acquisition of Kenlet that resulted in the launch of Salesforce Ideas, the model for community voice in product development.

If anyone can shepherd in a mass Social CRM movement, it’s Benioff and company.

But how does your sales organization feel about all this? Are they clamoring for marketing to tweet more? Do their eyes light up when you talk about nurturing relationships? Do they get fired up in pipeline meetings when they hear that some really important influencer appears to like your product?

Most sales people that I work with are still interested in one thing from marketing: Leads. Specifically, Hot Leads. Warm Leads? They’ll take ‘em (and do what with them is anybody’s guess.) But at the end of the day, they just want leads.

So here is where Relationship Scoring comes in. How will we measure sentiment, connectivity to our customers, activity, willingness to endorse, and ultimately recommend or buy Product X?

I’m at the point in this project where the initial scope is on paper. Now I’m looking around to make sure I’m not embarking on something that has already been done. I was kind of surprised when earlier today I found Eloqua — one of the major marketing automation software vendors — pitching a three and a half-year-old Aberdeen Group white paper on Lead Scoring.  Eloqua is buying a top spot on Adwords and baiting with this paper published in May 2008. 

I’m a big believer in evergreen content. But I don’t think this is evergreen material. The fact that the word “relationship” does not appear in the white paper once in the context of lead nurturing tells me that there’s work to do. 

Lessons in Customer Testimonial Videos

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment


I recently worked on a team producing four individual Microsoft business software user conferences. One of the areas I oversaw was the acquisition and production of short play video testimonials for use in content-based marketing campaigns. I personally conducted 60 on-camera interviews over the course of several days. On the plane ride home, as I sorted and reviewed my new content, a couple of things jumped out at me. Since at least one point defied conventional wisdom, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

1. Don’t expect people to have more to talk about toward the end of the event.

Fortunately, I started my subject-on-the-street interviews ahead of the conferences official kick-off. Now, I can see significant shifts in the energy of the respondents over the course of four days. Since I was looking for customer articulation on specific knowledge gained (key takeaways), it was generally expected that I’d get the best content later into the event. People will have learned more toward the end of the conference, right?

Hopefully. But guess what? Their newfound knowledge does not make for better on-camera interviews. People on Day One were bursting with energy. Everyone I asked for an interview said “yes” on the spot. By catching people on their way out of conference sessions, I was able to tap fresh ideas that had their brains churning.

By contrast, the interviews on the last two days were less, on all counts. Fewer people agreed to be interviewed. (Most people – and all women – declined when asked before 10 am later into the conference.) Those who did go along frequently cited that they were overwhelmed with information, and were less likely to name specific things they would take away and implement back at the office. Lesson learned: shoot video interviews early in your event to capture specifics with excitement and enthusiasm.

2. Impromptu video interviews yield better responses than planned, staged interviews.

I had the benefit of working with a trade publication reporter on some of her planned interviews. The methodology was typical of what’s been done at trade shows and conferences forever. Find a willing subject. Get a commitment. Set a time. Meet. Conduct the interview. (Expect to dedicate at least 30 minutes to conducting one interview.) Write a story.

But when you insert a video camera into that traditional interview, the subject’s demeanor totally changes. Generally speaking, people have a harder time putting words together, most likely due to the presence of the camera. And the fact that they had time to think about the interview in advance made responses seem more practiced and less spontaneous. The resulting content will contribute quotes to a printed story, but forget using the video as compelling content.

Fortunately, most of my interviews were impromptu. I used a handheld HD camcorder with a shotgun microphone, which I kept turned on as I scouted subjects in busy hallways. My take rate for on-camera interviews was exceptionally high mid-day when I simply approached someone (calling them by name), introduced myself, and said: “Can I ask you a few questions?” Many said yes before they saw the camera. So I had to clarify my request: “Do you mind if I get this on video?” Almost everyone went along. I then played the role of camera operator and interviewer and my content was golden. The tone was conversational; the interviews ran 2 – 3 minutes. I knocked off 4 or 5 interviews during scheduled 30-minute coffee breaks. And rarely did people stumble on words.

I found it incredibly important to maintain eye contact in order to minimize the presence of the camcorder. That meant I had to be really sure and steady with the camera. I held it off to one side and decided I would accept imperfection on the framing in return for honest opinion and good audio quality.

Summary

There are numerous technical and legal issues that you need to figure out before you try this at your next live event. That said, the lessons discussed here are fundamental in acquiring believable video testimonials for use in content-based marketing campaigns.

Does Google Determine Where You Physically Are?

There’s no shortage of fuel for the Google / privacy fire. But then again, why not toss on another log?

Does Google tell you how to get from point A to point B? Does any device provide you with directions for your driving, biking walking or public transit routes? I’m personally a Google Maps fan.

In the wake of the latest location-based privacy expose’, I started thinking beyond the fact that gadget-makers like Apple and Google are recording our current coordinates. Carrying GPS-enabled devices around as our personal Atlas / destination calculator, we expose much more interesting data than that. Here’s a situation where your mobile map provider could actually know physical scenarios that you’ll be presented with before you do.

What Magellan blazed the trail for has explosive potential as networked portable computing goes mainstream.

Think about it. With our portable device in hand, we’re usually within 3 or 4 taps of a freshly published map from our current location to virtually anywhere. Should we choose to follow the device’s path, we could potentially be “checking in” with the map continuously, confirming we are on course. What lies ahead of us are 1s and 0s.

Which begs the question, would your mapping service provider consider routing you by a commercial business or two that was willing to pay for some cool location-based marketing? Would they be willing to pay a premium if it was 6 p.m. and they sold delicious bass? It sure wouldn’t be the first time some really smart web marketing geeks got off on “driving traffic.”

Next time your route brings you some extended windshield time, ponder this: Is it an invasion of your privacy if you don’t even know it yet?

Gotta go. I’m a mile from my destination.

Video Intersecting with Live Blogging

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

(A really bright guy that I’ve worked with in the past recently emailed me with some questions about the direction I had in mind when deciding to include video with the presentation of an event-based live blog. (Check it out here: http://www.axug.com/summit-2010/onsite/liveblog) He specifically wanted to know how the video was being received. Here’s part of my response to him. You can read the full interview here.

I attended a performance of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” last month and couldn’t help but laugh out loud when Roger Waters delivered that desolate line about having “thirteen channels of [expletive deleted] on the TV to choose from.”

We’re just now seeing the beginning of the IP video explosion. Video will become pervasive and cross platform, and yes, it will certainly impact blogs and other established web publishing models.

The barriers to entry to produce and deliver digital video are now so low that it’s a natural move to incorporate it into live blogging. The analytics we get from video servers are incredibly insightful. We keep a very close eye on how people are interacting with video and continuously apply our findings to the next project. People are accepting it, and yes, we can see that we’re beginning to make a difference in how our messages are being consumed.

Stay tuned for more on this. As we capture enough user data, I’ll be happy to share our results.

Why We Belong to Communities

August 30, 2010 1 comment

We didn’t invent them.

Communities are more like lightning, hurricanes, or for that matter, mountains. They just occur, forming when people have something in common. Great things can happen when the right environmental conditions come together – at the right time – to form or strengthen a community.

Communities are generational. Millennials. Harley troubadours. Software users. Deadheads.

Some communities are congregational. These tend to engage us in more than one way. Within congregations, we interact in 1-to-1 relationships and we join groups. We have a place where we reserve ourselves to share in that common something.

Sometimes communities arise in a flash and then fade away. Others were deliberately constructed by the generation(s) before us, for whose original vision and dedication we have to be thankful. Deeply-rooted communities become cornerstones in our world.

So why do we belong to communities, anyway?

We all belong to at least one community. Whether it’s a bedroom community north of Dallas or a cluster of relief tents outside Port au Prince, where we reside is defined by some kind of physical place. These natural occurring communities exist in workplaces, within school districts, countries or world regions. We belong to natural occurring communities by default, and decide individually on our participation level.

Then there are the communities that we make a concerted effort to join. Purpose-driven communities form when people dedicate their time and attention to foster the growth of an organization. We make a conscious decision to affiliate with them, and when the right mix of timing, people and resources comes together, purpose-driven communities flourish.

Physical vs. Virtual Communities

Prior to electronic media, most communities were natural occurring and congregational in nature. Things like church or civic organizations, industry trade associations, alumni groups, a population of cigar rollers, etc.

Then along came radio and television, providing a common thing for people with common interests to gather around at precisely the same time. Citizens Band (CB) radios enabled an interactive community explosion that transcended geographies in the 1970s. Private and public online networks (like AOL, Compuserve, and freenets) emerged in the late 1980s enabling communities to form via modem-connected personal computers. And of course today we have a proliferation of social media networks that are accessible all the time by most of the free world.

No Shortage of Communities to Join

We are besieged by a tidal wave of communities as brand marketers embrace mobile and social technologies to engage us. Facebook alone presents a myriad of communities and causes that we could affiliate our digital identity with. In fact, a single click to “Like” something brings out an interactive behavior in many Facebook users unlike anything we’ve seen before. But does associating with more causes / communities improve our life?

I’ll argue that as a whole, we’ll be better off being more selective of the communities we join. And, I challenge you to take a close look at the communities you spend time on, both physical and virtual. Are you really making the best use of your time lurking among others who look nothing at all like you? Friending someone you haven’t seen since high school could be a great move if you are actively organizing a milestone class reunion. But could that casual, non-purpose driven click expose yourself – and your true friends – to a felon? An identity thief? Or worse, a yet-to-be-caught child molester?

Take some time out and ask yourself. Honestly. Which communities should you really be involved with? Do you have the right cornerstone communities in your life? How many communities are too many?

These are personal decisions each of us has to make. Here’s my take on some things to consider:

  • If you are a homeowner, take an active role in your neighborhood. If there is an association, join it. Neighborhood communities need a common voice.
  • If you even think you might be spiritual, find a church. Don’t get turned off by one visit. Try many until you find a congregation where you connect.
  • If you are passionate about your career or trade specialization, explore the various communities dedicated to your professional development.
  • If you rely on a product, company, service or technology for success in your work, find out if an active user community exists. If not, consider organizing one.
  • If you have hobbies or personal interests that help recharge your body and mind, connect to others that you can share with and learn from.

Joining a community should not be an involuntary response, like ducking a punch or blinking your eyes. Reconsider where you belong, and how you spend your time. Communities should make us stronger, more aware, and more fulfilled. If your community involvement doesn’t pass that litmus test, ask why.