September 05, 2012
Event Wrap-up

Event Recap: MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012

SUMMARY: MarketingSherpa’s B2B Summit 2012 featured two days of real-world case studies, actionable how-to instruction and even some live optimization of attendee websites and landing pages.

One key takeaway from the event was the importance of B2B content marketing, with a wide variety of topics covered, including social media, email marketing, event marketing with mobile and QR codes, and a gamification case study.
by David Kirkpatrick, Senior Reporter

MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012 opened with Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, the parent company of MarketingSherpa, with a presentation on website optimization.

The session included a number of case studies from MECLABS research, and McGlaughlin provided the audience with three key principles:
  1. "Asking ‘how’ leads to information; asking ‘why’ leads to wisdom. Yet marketers are all too busy asking ‘how.’"

  2. "Sometimes we need to slow down in order to go fast. Action is overrated; action should be grounded in contemplation. Admittedly, contemplation without action is anemic, but then action without contemplation is dangerous."

  3. "Indeed, the marketer should be the philosopher of the organization -- for the vigorous action of sales needs to be grounded in the rigorous contemplation of marketing."

In the keynote presentation for this year’s event, Sally Hogshead, Chief Fascination Officer, Fascinate, outlined her "seven triggers of fascination" for engaging customers and building loyalty:
  1. TRUST - Hogshead said, "Trust is the hardest trigger to earn. It requires repetition."

  2. PASSION - She stated, "If you’re not that old, use passion to build emotion."

  3. REBELLION - If you like to surprise your customers with creativity, then your brand might have rebellion as a primary trigger.

  4. ALARM - She said brands that alarm "demonstrate efficient and practical solutions."

  5. POWER - "[Power is] not always about being the biggest, but about attitude," Hogshead said.

  6. MYSTIQUE - Defined as "those who selectively edit information, trying to find the right result."

  7. PRESTIGE - The prestige trigger is found in brands that "instinctively seek consistent improvement, higher goals and tangible evidence of their success," Hogshead explained.

Along with McGlaughlin’s teaching and live optimization and Hogshead’s keynote address, the two-day Summit s presented attendees with a variety of real-world case studies and actionable how-to instruction on topics from lead generation to content marketing to gamification.

To highlight the range of B2B marketing takeaways from this event, here are five lessons learned from the case studies and how-to presentations at B2B Summit 2012 in Orlando:

Lesson #1. Just one word - content

One common theme running across almost every presentation at this year’s Summit was the importance of content in B2B marketing.

While B2B marketers should take advantage of multiple channels in marketing, the foundation of the overall strategy is content marketing.

Eric Webb, Senior Director of Communications Brand, McGladrey, presented a case study on how the assurance, tax and consulting firm implemented a content strategy to improve thought leadership. The first step was to focus 60% of company marketing efforts on content-dependent activities, featuring three factors:
  • Build a strategy around content

  • Redesign the website to focus on content

  • Drive website and content to the next level

Building the strategy included improving lead generation, increasing website visits, and repackaging and reusing content to extend its usefulness.

Webb said the team created a seven-step process for content production:
  1. Implement project management

  2. Develop project "form"

  3. Create project transparency

  4. Align and embed writers

  5. Align projects/people to specific effort

  6. Determine internal vs. external resources

  7. Archive content and report results

The key results from this case study included a 100% increase in website visits, a 300% increase in content production, and a 60% increase in content promotion.

Edwin Jansen, Director of Business Development, The Ian Martin Group, provided "ten tips from the content marketing trenches."
  1. Hire and develop digital citizens -- digital citizens include millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers who have become immersed in social media

  2. Strategically engage employees in social media -- also make sure someone is in charge of the channel

  3. Create employee-generated content -- find the internal experts who create value for customers and let them craft content

  4. Commit to the #1 rule of content marketing -- it’s not about you, it’s about the customer

  5. Act like a publisher -- create an editorial calendar, and profile and then monitor your target customers

  6. Team up with Sales on lead management -- foster Marketing/Sales alignment to make content marketing a cosponsored project

  7. Play the field before you commit -- test different pieces of social media and marketing automation technology before choosing a solution

  8. Create a "popluence" scorecard (note: "popluence" is a combination of popularity and influence) -- this metric can get people focused on measuring success

  9. Building it is not enough -- be prepared to invest time and training to make the most of content marketing tools

  10. Old habits die hard -- content marketing is about changing the entire marketing process from pushing messages to pulling prospects in through relevant content

Chris Baggott, Chairman, Compendium, also spoke on content marketing and, as part of his how-to tips, provided a creative source for effective content.

Baggott suggested that marketers should collect and mine outgoing email from the sales team and customer service. He said these emails often contain well-crafted content that either solves a customer problem or answers a prospect’s question.

This email copy can be repurposed as a blog post, or other content pieces, to provide useful information to a wider range of customers and potential customers.

Lesson #2. Email is not dead

Although it is commonly accepted that "batch-and-blast" and "spray-and-pray" email tactics are not very effective, as a marketing channel, email is a major player in a B2B marketing strategy.

John Johnston, Director of Digital Marketing, Volvo Construction Equipment Americas, presented a multistep digital marketing case study with an email element. The overall case study included many elements, such as SEO, social media and mobile marketing, and Johnston explained how the team improved the email portion of the study.
  • Dynamic Content: Through integration with the CRM software, text, images and links are changed based on user interests

  • Interactive Functionality: Using video links within an email drastically increases clickthrough rate to the website and opportunities for leads

  • Analytics: Analytics help identify features and functionality that work, capture customer insight and results, and aid in redesign

Johnston said, "Personalization is essential," and it could be seen in this effort through dynamic email content. And, one achievement of the campaign was that links back to the social media and email elements increased customer velocity.

The Summit featured another case study dedicated to dynamic email content.

Cathy Howard, eMarketing Program Manager, HP, presented this case study based on HP’s monthly e-newsletter, "Technology at Work." The database for the newsletter had more than eight million subscribers, and the marketing team segmented 2% of the larger group, based on a high level of engagement with the newsletter and website.

Those recipients were then presented with customized dynamic content within the newsletter versions they received, with the content personalized based on the HP products and business groups with which they were most highly engaged.

Providing a customized email newsletter experience for these engaged end users created strong results for HP within that database segment:
  • 300% increase in open rates

  • 600% increase in clickthrough rates

  • 18% lift in website traffic

In a breakout session, Tom Sather, Senior Director of Email Research, Return Path, provided event attendees with how-to tips on email deliverability including the importance of keeping track of reputation management, and using content management to test email and ensure it’s not being tagged as spam.

Lesson #3. Social media is a B2B marketing channel

Even B2B marketing to a very traditional business area -- construction equipment, in the case of Johnston’s presentation on Volvo’s digital marketing campaign -- included a step of sharing links to campaign elements through a variety of social media platforms.

Summit attendees also were presented with a social media panel, featuring three experts: Compendium’s Baggott; Nichole Kelly, President, SME Digital; and Eddie Smith, Chief Revenue Officer, Topsy Labs.

The panel discussed five social media career killers:
  1. Thinking your CFO is your nemesis

  2. Single-use content

  3. Creating content that is not authentic

  4. Treating social media like it’s "special"

  5. Not soliciting outside content

This list of social media career killers also emphasizes the importance of content in B2B marketing. Without content, including third-party content to be curated, there is nothing of value to share across social media platforms to drive engagement and thought leadership.

In a separate session, Baggott explained the connection between content marketing and social media. He suggested that instead of creating messages for Facebook and Twitter, marketers should be creating content such as blog posts and then "feed that content out" via social media platforms.

He also suggested that not all shared content has to be "brand new." Content that is themed or tied to an event, such as a holiday, can be reused and shared over social media when relevant.

Lesson #4. Focus on the customer

A number of speakers provided some version of this same point, but Jansen of The Ian Martin Group put it most succinctly with his number one rule of content marketing, "It’s not about you, it’s about the customer."

This means that, within your messaging and content, the focus should not be on the brand or company, but instead on the customer’s needs, questions and concerns.

Dr. Flint McGlaughlin echoed this idea when describing the difference between company logic versus customer logic, and the importance of focusing on customer logic.

Likewise, Sally Hogshead’s keynote address posed the question, "How can we create the moments of fascination with our consumers that use the same triggers we experience when we are fascinated?"

Though each message has a slightly different focus, the overall takeaway was the same: B2B marketing should be customer-centric marketing.

Lesson #5. Think beyond traditional tactics

Over the course of the Summit, the audience had the chance to hear about some marketing efforts that were either innovative or that took advantage of the latest in marketing tactics and strategies.

(Almost) Paperless event marketing

Juniper Networks combined mobile marketing and QR codes to create a nearly paperless user conference. Attendees were notified in advance that the conference would be largely paperless and that event materials could be access through scanning QR codes with a smartphone.

The process began at onsite event registration, where attendees scanned QR codes for event materials such as the agenda, maps, speaker bios and conference help.

The QR codes all directed attendees to a mobile microsite dedicated to the event, and even exhibition booths employed QR codes to provide materials to the event attendees.

The results of this case study include:
  • 1,238 unique visitors

  • 7,325 page views

  • 5.92 pages per visit

  • 5:32 avg. time per visit

B2B gamification for in-trial marketing

Dawn Wolfe, Senior Marketing Manager, and Andy Mott, Marketing Manager, both of Autodesk, provided a case study on using game mechanics for its software in-trial marketing, to help drive conversion to sale.

They described software trials as essential to Autodesk’s business model, and decided to test gamification as a way to enhance the trial experience for the end user.

This case study led to a 40% increase in trial usage, in terms of a comparison of trial usage on days 2-30, vs. day one. The takeaway for the team was, "gamification engages customers and creates memorable experiences."

Take a walk in Sales’ shoes

Kelly Harman, Vice President Marketing, Carousel Industries, provided a session on how Marketing and Sales alignment improved at Carousel. The entire effort included a number of elements, such as providing tools and material to help streamline requests for proposals and training on the latest marketing messages.

One idea that stood out as both interesting, and effective, is that the marketing team members accompanied Sales on all calls, including introductory, demonstration and closing.

These "field trips" allowed Marketing to see not only how the sales team handled prospect meetings, but also the questions potential customers were asking Sales.

This knowledge helped foster Marketing and Sales alignment, and it also helped Marketing improve its messaging.



Carousel Industries



Sally Hogshead’s website

The Ian Martin Group

Juniper Networks


Return Path

SME Digital

Topsy Labs


Related Resources

Customer-centric Marketing: 7 triggers to engage customers and build loyalty

Lead Generation: 3 lessons from a 25% decrease in conversion

Why 75% of Marketers Are Experiencing Lead Generation Pain and How to Stop It Before It’s Too Late

B2B Social Media Marketing: 5 career killers and how to overcome them

Landing Page Optimization: Reducing friction results in 266% increase in clickthrough rate

2012 Marketing Sherpa/ MecLabs B2B Marketing Summit – via Bayshore Solutions

#B2BSummit Day One from Orlando – Five Marketing Truths from Flint McGlaughlin – via Point Clear

Sales-Marketing Alignment: 8 tactics from a marketer who has worn both hats

Brand-side Marketing How-to: 6 content marketing lessons learned from a B2B IT company

Email Marketing: HP uses dynamic email content to drive 300% open rate and 600% clickthrough increase

B2B Email Marketing: How reputation, content and brand management affect deliverability

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