Digital Marketing: 4 steps to success
This is the third in a series of three posts on insights I gleaned from a conversation with Dave Wieneke, who blogs on the future of digital marketing . The first post described how B2B marketers can set up digital signals to help them monitor marketing performance  against their business goals. The second post described actions marketers can take to figure out what's working and what's not .
This post discusses what Dave sees as the four steps to digital marketing: Segmentation, Integration, Automation, and Optimization. In it, I will tie together all three posts, and return to the questions I raised on behalf of B2B marketers at small companies at the beginning of the first post.
As I mentioned in the last post, Dave recommends on focusing on one segment at a time to help better discern patterns. In that post, I wrote about how Dave's marketing team focused on the segment of prospects that helped it achieve a particular marketing goal.
The team then worked backward from the achievement of the goal to identify the behaviors that led to those actions. In so doing, they identified ways to improve marketing performance.
To improve the efficacy of your marketing efforts, it can be helpful to integrate multiple marketing tools. In an integrated marketing campaign, he calls "waking the dead", Dave integrated his CRM system, email marketing, and web analytics to identify which of 40,000 inactive prospects were the most promising.
Dave used the CRM system to identify the inactive prospects. He used email marketing to send them coupons that provided an incentive to try the company's services. He used web analytics to determine which prospects clicked on the coupon, thereby demonstrating an interest in the company's services.
Another example of integration is sending prospects personalized email. In this case, you might use your CRM system to group your customers by products they've bought in the past, your analytics to determine the types of offers that motivated these individuals to buy before, and different versions of your email newsletter to reach each group with the offer he or she is likely to find most compelling.
A third example of integration is using social listening to develop your editorial calendar. You might use Tweetdeck to identify what people care about, or who is active in complementary areas, by searching on terms related to your space. You can then specify content that addresses frequently asked questions or increase your reach by asking professionals who are active in complementary areas to write a guest post for your blog.
The next step to is automating a part or all of the process to scale your efforts and/or reduce the time you're investing in digital marketing. You may get email-marketing software that shows you open and click-through rates. You may get sales enablement software that provides a better view into prospects' behavior, or a tool that automatically extracts the data you require from your CRM system to prepare your campaigns.
The final step is optimization. Optimization refers to the ongoing experimentation that digital marketers perform, to identify the best combination of marketing strategies and tactics for achieving their goals.
What are the implications for solo or small B2B marketing departments
As I mentioned in the first post, Dave asserts that savvy small B2B marketing departments can use digital marketing to gain competitive advantage, because so few companies are doing it well. He observes that from an analytics perspective, their marketers can become professionally useful in a matter of months. He also notes that they can accomplish a lot just using free tools like Google Analytics and Tweetdeck.
Another of my concerns was whether small companies accumulate enough visits in a year to obtain meaningful data. Dave pointed out that while they may not have enough data to reach statistically significant conclusions, their analytics will tell them what's broken and provide directional signals that tell them if they are positively affecting performance.
Talent beats tools
Finally, I wonder about how these marketers using free tools, and a lot of manual labor, will compete with larger organizations. Here, Dave responds that talent beats tools every time. He concludes by saying that the most successful marketers will be generalists who are creative, expert at analytics, possess strong writing skills, and have a large personal following.
I'd be interested in any thoughts you have about digital marketing. What are you doing? How's it going? What advice do you have to offer solo or small B2B marketing departments?