The Marketing Automation Paradox

Published on LinkedIn June 11, 2016


In his recent MarketingProfs article, Andrew Davies describes the paradox of marketing automation.  On one hand, these systems allow Marketers to nurture prospects and clients through longer lifecycles and larger revenue streams.  On the other hand, he points out, marketing automation isn’t cheaper. It “means having to bring on more—not less—staff. As well as a marketing manager, a database manager, a demand-gen exec, and a content strategist, you will most likely need a marketing technologist who is able to help you get the most out of your new system.”

Plus, as I like to point out, “you need to have something to say” – good content ready to address key buyer personas and resonate with your ideal customers. And a corporate “point of view” that makes your interpretation that much more valuable. In other words, it all has to come together. The data must clearly define key segments, the content must speak to them, and the technology must be configured to orchestrate the relationship. Not as easy as “plug-and-play,” but worth it once the it does all start working together. Then the marketing-to-sales funnel will fill with qualified leads and continuous opportunities for satisfying customers. No paradox there.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Segmentation, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Distracted By Bright Shiny Objects

Published on LinkedIn April 15, 2016

Adobe 2016 Digital Trends Infographic2

This Adobe 2016 Digital Trends Infographic poses some interesting questions. Consider a few key data points from it:

  • 90% of the 7k executives surveyed say Data-Driven Marketing is the top strategic priority for 2016
  • 46% think Strategic Thinking is the key element of Marketing success, but only 37% see Data as the key
  • 51% consider Mobile applications a top strategic priority, but only 18% see Marketing Automation as an area needing attention.

Wait…what? If data-driven insights are so critical, why prioritize hard-to-measure concepts like Strategic Thinking? Why not improve usage of the Marketing Automation tools that will enable data collection, analysis, and digital targeting? Maybe because Marketing people are often distracted by the next bright shiny object.

As this infographic reveals between the lines, we Marketing leaders should listen to ourselves. Digital marketing got us a seat at the table, now let’s focus on serving up some good data.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer Experience Research, Digital Marketing, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Going “New-School” with Omnichannel Marketing

Published on LinkedIn March 4, 2016

Customer Experience

Don’t miss this Omnicommerce Article about the challenges Marketing leaders have faced in moving from “old-school” to modern marketing.

Last century we Marketing types used multichannel tactics all at once to saturate a market – TV, radio, print, billboards, etc. Then, as digital and social media expanded the channel options, we worked to create consistent messaging across them all. Author Vebeka Guess writes that with cross-channel marketing, “…whether your Web page is viewed from a desktop, laptop, mobile device, mobile app, or even in-store screens and kiosks, your message, look and feel are consistent and easily recognized.”

Now, with omnichannel marketing, we are interacting with customers throughout their entire lifecycle, across channels and through conversations. By understanding the customer’s total experience and making it seamless, Marketers can, as Guess concludes, “…create the dynamic, satisfying experience that today’s technology-driven customer expects.” In summary, evolving toward omnichannel Marketing requires both data-based knowledge of today’s consumers and “new-school” thinking. Better study up!

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M-Commerce: Fact or Friction?

Published on LinkedIn on April 6, 2017


A recent article in Forbes, intended to help small-to-mid-sized merchants (SMBs) understand the potential of mobile payments (a.k.a. m-commerce), caught my attention with its preamble. The author wrote, “Many managers see the emergence of paying for goods and services via a mobile phone as a mere technological evolution…first customers used checks, then cards, now it´s m-payments. Others acknowledge its transformational impact on society and economic activity in general, but believe it will not affect their industry…Still others think that, by the time it becomes a widespread reality, they will be retired.”

I’ve been writing about mobile payments marketing since 2011, when the payments industry was trying to convince itself that the m-commerce wave was building. At that time, most of my colleagues at the large merchant acquirers wanted (and still want) to believe that m-commerce will always be another form of card payment, processing on the same rails with the same formulas and fees. But other colleagues saw m-commerce as a way to derail that system and cut out the cards. (Those people mostly defected to startups.)

The fact is, it’s all about friction. In order for m-payments in any format to become widely used, there need to be less friction for merchants and consumers. Using your phone, watch or tattoo at point-of-sale must be easier and more rewarding than pulling out your wallet.

If you’re reading this, you probably understand the SMB’s dilemma…invest now in the equipment, time and training to be m-commerce ready. Or wait until your customers demand it (by voting with their feet.) Never mind all the ancillary benefits and costs described in this Forbes article and endless others. SMBs will only convert if there’s less friction on the selling-side, and consumers will only make them if there’s less on the buying-side.

Marketers in the card-backed payment processors would have SMBs believe that they are already behind the curve. The October 2015 EMV deadline was celebrated as a tipping point because SMBs would have another reason to go mobile. But fear of liability for fraud didn’t scare as many as predicted. (Chip-card authorization speeds didn’t help.) Neither did countless campaigns promoting the benefits of customer data and loyalty programs. The fact is, no amount of marketing will convince the SMB until m-commerce is just easier.

So what’s a provider to do? Think like a small merchant and customer. Patronize SMBs and try paying with your phone. Ask questions and observe the friction in the process. Stop trying to think inside the rails and think about the possibilities. That’s always been the path to change.

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FinTech Companies Struggle For the Right Message To Market

Published on LinkedIn February 11, 2017


FinTech is tough – seems everybody wants a share of technology-enabled financial services. In the Atlanta metro-area alone, a 2016 report by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) identified more than 100 established firms, with more start-ups joining this space every year. Here’s a snapshot of Georgia “FinTech Corridor” (a.k.a. Atlanta’s “Transaction Alley”) from the report. That’s a deep pool of marketing dollars, but also a muddy one.

In such a crowded environment, differentiation is more critical than ever. These 100 companies – and more than 1300 worldwide – are competing to capture the same markets using three-pronged marketing strategies: Business-to-Corporation (B2B), Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Partner (B2P). While the messages to each market and segment within may be quite different, the difference between the many FinTech providers may not be clear to targets. Messages get muddied and mixed.

So what approach should FinTech’s take? It depends, of course. In the B2B space FinTechs may be marketing to businesses ranging in size from giant global corporations down to small neighborhood merchants. So marketing messages might range from “Optimize Regulatory Compliance” to “Simplify Your Business.”

To the point, here’s just a few of FinTech payment players concurrently trying to capture SMB Merchants with the “Simplicity” message:

  • Square – Originator of the simple “one fee-fits-all” message
  • Amazon – “Online transactions made simple and secure”
  • Intuit – “Payment processing the way it should be – fast and easy”
  • Sage – “Simple Payment Processing”
  • – Simple, Secure Online Payment Processing
  • and – ‘nuff said

Clearly, deep due diligence is required to:

  • Understand the many market variables
  • Identify key markets/personas
  • Select channels that can reach them
  • Craft messages/value propositions that will resonate
  • Deliver the right message at the right time to the right person

In such a competitive and growing space, FinTech providers have a tough time differentiating their solutions to their markets. Many providers, from start-ups to established global corporations have difficulty seeing out from their own silos. A marketing partner with deep-industry expertise is often required to help them identify and execute on viable go-to-market approaches.

The opportunity cost of not getting it right…not getting a fair share of the pie. Georgia FinTech companies alone report >$72B annually. Obviously FinTech is a massive market, but the waters are often muddy. Our advice to FinTech players old and new: Get your share of revenue by doing deep due diligence with a connected partner who can help you get crystal clear with your marketing.

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So Many Payment Players – Good Graph!

The payments landscape has changed so much since I started covering it in 2011. I’ve seen many graphics with logos in quadrants, and they only represent a moment in time. But this one from BI Intelligence is not bad if you’re trying to understand established players as of mid 2016.

payments ecosystem infographic BI Intel

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Learn to Speak Payments – For a Minute

Published on LinkedIn September 15, 2016

speakingpaymentsThis McKinsey Mobile Payments Comparison is a great cheat sheet for people who speak payments – and those who want to. It’s a simple look at a complicated ecosystem that changes daily!

The highlighted areas represent apps that have the right approach in that category. Too bad one provider hasn’t put it all together yet. But just give them a minute!

Posted in Customer Experience, Financial Services, Payments | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Moving, But Still Marketing

This blog contains years of reflections on my B2B Marketing career and the many changes that have occurred in the discipline. During that time, Marketing moved from art to science, from “arts-and-crafts” to a “seat at the table.” We made it happen, and there has been a lot to discuss in this forum.

Change is a constant. Back in 2011, blogs were it. All the thought leaders had one. Now my extensive LinkedIn network gives me a broader canvas and lots of sharp collaborators. The accumulated learnings we shared will still be here, but please look for my Leading With Content posts on LinkedIn.

Let’s stay in touch – we may be moving, but we’re always Marketing!  Lorena

Killer Content

Killer Content

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Let’s Recap, Then Move Marketing Forward

Over the last four years, we’ve covered a lot of topics in this blog, which is a reflection of the many changes going on in marketing and customer experience. Here are ten of the most popular posts:

  1. More Thoughts on Thought Leadership
  2. When Lightning Strikes – From Service Gaps to Loyalty
  3. When Customers Speak Out, Pay Attention or Watch Out
  4. Becoming a B2B Marketing Digital Native: Part 1 and Part 2
  5. Plotting Your Way To Super Loyalty
  6. The CMO as Change Agent
  7. Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance – Ready to Lead with Content?
  8. Content Marketing Case Studies: Vantiv and Convergys
  9. Transformational Marketing
  10. From CMO to CCO

When we started, many people (including myself) were speaking of Content Marketing, Customer Experience, and Loyalty as separate disciplines. Now they are blending and transforming as Marketers increasingly step up to lead customer engagement.

Last month Sanjay Dholakia, CMO for Marketo, wrote about The Rise of the Marketer. He called out several key trends from their Report on the topic:

  1. Marketing is shifting from a cost center to a revenue generator – and from arts & crafts to art & science
  2. Marketing will become the chief customer advocate in an organization
  3. Marketing is moving from an era of mass marketing to an era of engagement marketing

Sanjay goes on to say that, in order to stay in leadership stance, “Marketers need to embrace technology at a fundamentals level and leverage it to help them scale and talk to their customers with a singular purpose in mind: forming long-term, individualized, durable relationships.”

While looking back and recapping is useful for context, Marketers are more than ever needing to look forward. So let’s continue to transform our profession and lead the way on the customer engagement journey.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Digital Marketing, Thought Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

From CMO to CCO

Recently Daniel Newman, contributing writer for Forbes, agreed with me.  That was probably not his intention, but his 1/13/15 op-ed, “CCO: Tying Together Technology, Marketing and Advocacy,” makes many of the same points I made in my “Transformational Marketing” blog last week.

For example, Dan and I agree that, “…the marketing department’s job has shifted from promoting what customers should buy to a much broader role: interacting with customers, engaging them, listening to them, creating better experiences for them, earning their trust, and building a relationship that leads to advocacy.

Dan goes further, saying, “Someone (a Chief Customer Officer) needs to be responsible for making sure that customers and employees are engaged in the organization and connected to communities and areas of the business where the goals of customer satisfaction and retention can be met.”

We diverge on who is best suited for the role of Chief Customer Officer. My belief is that Marketing has been leading the CXP charge, already uses tools that capture the most comprehensive view of customer interactions, and is in the strongest position to affect corporate messages and practices.  In many cases CMO’s are essentially serving as CCOs.  Corporations don’t need another C-level executive – they need to recognize and support the CXP efforts being led by Marketing.  Let that evolution continue!

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