5 Takeaways from the ANA/BMA16 Masters of B2B Marketing Conference [B2B Beat]

June 5, 2016

The Business Marketing Association, a part of the Association of National Advertisers, held its annual conference in Chicago from June 1-3. The sessions provided valuable insights for B2B marketers. Here are five key takeaways gleaned by the B2B Beat:

Stop Producing Content Nobody Uses

Michael Brenner is a true believer in content marketing and one of its most effective practitioners. The former SAP and NewsCred executive is now the CEO of the Marketing Insider Group, and he said the capability of buyers to fully research products online has forever transformed the nature of advertising and made content marketing an imperative. With these changes in the buyer’s journey, marketers must earn attention as opposed to buying it. “We need to stop interrupting content that people are interested in and be the things that people are interested in,” Brenner said. One critical way that marketers can boost the ROI of their content is to stop producing content that no one uses. SiriusDecisions estimates that as much as 70 percent of content goes unused. Brenner advised that marketers ask three questions when contemplating producing a new piece of content:

  • Why does this matter?
  • What is the impact?
  • How are we going to measure it?

Brenner concluded with this advice, which he described as his mantra: “Life is short. You business life is even shorter. You need to stop doing stuff that doesn’t make an impact.”

Marketers Must Influence Product Development and Customer Experience

In a panel discussion at the conference, Ash ElDifrawi, Chief Commercial Officer of Gogo, which most consumers know for its in-flight wifi service, said the Internet and the ability of users to communicate with each other at scale via social media has forever weakened marketing’s capability to dictate its brand to the masses. “Your product is your brand,” ElDifrawi said. “We’re not in a world anymore where you can tell your customers what your brand is.” For this reason, marketers must contribute to ensuring that product development results in products customers love and advocate. “You can’t be effective as a marketer if you don’t have impact on the product or the customer experience,” he said. ElDifrawi also hinted that the experience for Gogo customers should improve soon when “gate-to-gate” wifi connection is approved.

Don’t Let Big Data Intimidate You

During the same panel discussion, CDW’s CMO Neal Campbell said marketers must not fear big data. “It’s not big data,” he said. “It’s the little data, the insights that we can act on that can make the difference.” With my co-author Russ Glass, Head of Product for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, we made the same case in our book, The Big Data-Driven Business. “When incorporating big data into your processes, think little triggers. The amount of data that the average company has the potential to collect through its website alone can be overwhelming.  …  The key is to determine what precise pieces of data about the customer are the most important to your business goals.” 

Your Website Is a Treasure Trove of Data

In his session, Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media, offered five ways that marketers can use their websites and Google Analytics to begin looking for the small data insights that CDW’s Campbell was talking about. “Never bring an opinion to a data fight,” Crestodina is fond of saying. He added, “The best way to use analytics is to ask question, find the answer, then take an action.” In his presentation, Crestodina demonstrated a number of ways that marketers can set up their websites for maximum SEO power and data collection. For instance, he pointed out that where a company locates its blog can have huge SEO implications. The best setup is website.com/blog, which delivers the most effective SEO, he said. Setting up the blog in a subdomain (blog.website.com) is middling for SEO. Setting up the blog on a separate domain altogether (websiteblog.com) is not good at all, because there’s no SEO synergy between the company website and the blog website. For more insight from Crestodina, you can download his presentation for more information on why you should create separate thank-you pages on website, why you shouldn’t have dates in your URLs, and why, when you’re doing content marketing right, most visitors don’t enter your website on the home page.

Marketing Isn’t Always External

Aon, a risk solutions and HR solutions provider, famously succeeded AIG as the sponsor of Manchester United’s shirt in 2010. The multi-million dollar sponsorship targeted Aon’s global audience. And it worked, contributing to a boost in Aon’s brand awareness from 39 percent to 56 percent between 2005 and 2015. But Andrew Miller, Aon’s Vice President-Global Corporate Marketing, also pointed out during his presentation that there’s another critical audience for the sponsorship: Aon’s employees. Built by 425 acquisitions, the company needed a unifying force, and the sponsorship helped support that goal. To emphasize the push for togetherness, every employee was sent a Manchester United shirt with the Aon logo prominent on it. “The number one reason we did this sponsorship was to make our colleagues feel united,” Miller said.

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