DMA 2013: Top Takeaways for B2B Marketers #DMA13

DMA 2013

Two weeks ago I headed to Chicago for DMA 2013. If you aren’t familiar with the Direct Marketing Association, it bills itself as “the premier trade association for marketing leaders who want to advance and protect responsible data-driven marketing” and their annual conference is one of the biggest marketing trade shows around. My goal was to catch a few sessions, network with other B2B marketers, and learn about some of the new marketing technologies being showcased.

I was lucky enough to be able to do all of those things and, as always, I came away from the conference with some great information to bring back to the KoMarketing team and our clients. While there was a lot of information being passed around at the conference, here are a few key takeaways worth discussing:

Generation Connected Is Mobile

One of my favorite sessions came from Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, and author, who discussed marketing in this ever-changing technological world. Solis discussed how as technology has evolved and, as more people are using smartphones and tablets, generations are converging to become one generation: Generation Connected. As marketers, we need to understand what that means for our business and not only adapt to what’s happening now, but also consider what’s going to happen in the future. We must think about our customers and the journey they are taking, not the journey we want them to take.

For example, many companies are thinking about mobile in the future but mobile is happening right now. Mobile is no longer the second screen. When customers want to know something, they simply hop on their phone to get the answer. We can’t continue creating websites for the desktop and then trying to force that content onto smaller mobile screens. Marketers must consider how customers are getting their information and give it to them where they are.

For B2B marketers, this means ensuring a phone number is visible and can be clicked from a mobile device, lead forms aren’t asking for loads of information, and, most importantly, the site can be accessed and read from a smartphone.

Better Data, Better Decisions

Unsurprisingly, much of the conversation at the DMA focused on using data to drive marketing decisions. What was interesting to hear was how companies are using both big data and small data. With big data becoming an oft-used and oft-misused buzzword, it’s important to understand what big data actually is. According to Wikipedia:

Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. Big data sizes are a constantly moving target, as of 2012 ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.

Nate Silver DMA 2013For marketers, the thought of having scores and scores of data about our customers seems fantastic. What many don’t realize is the process of handling and understanding all that data can be difficult; while marketing automation technology is beginning to be able to handle it, it hasn’t quite caught up.

According to keynote speaker and statistician, Nate Silver, having more information can also result in more possibilities of bias and, in turn, more wrong decisions. As B2B marketers, we must understand what all the data means, identify trends, and factor in our small data (web analytics, lead data, etc) to help inform our decisions.

Social for Lead Generation

One of the biggest things we hear from B2B companies when it comes to social is they don’t feel it’s worth the time and effort as it doesn’t truly generate leads. What many people don’t realize is that just having a social presence is already impacting leads.

In the session “How Top Brands are Going Social for Lead Generation,” representatives from James Hardie, Firestone Building, and Culligan all gave great example of how they are driving leads through social. Not only are they driving leads and nurturing them, they are actually measuring their leads.

A few keys:

  • Use Multi-attribution to show how social is impacting other channels
  • Align social efforts with other marketing initiatives (tradeshows, emails, TV, etc)
  • Educate company leadership on the value of social
  • Create tangible goals that can be measured (landing page visits, email capture, etc)

While getting company buy-in to implement a full social media program can be difficult, a small campaign can help showcase results and become a use case for a full program.

Overall, the DMA was a great event and offered a lot of valuable information for B2B marketers, direct marketers, and everyone in between. Did you attend the event? Want to know more? Leave a comment or connect with me through Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+.

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