A Strategy for Successful Leadership of the Website Team

Does your website team try to dazzle you with reams of reports and statistics weekly, so much so that you cannot tell if the website is actually improving in performance? Should you care? If you demand they structure their reports every week as I describe below, the result will be a focused team and an ever-improving website.

Does your website team try to dazzle you with reams of reports and statistics weekly, so much so that you cannot tell if the website is actually improving in performance? Should you care? If you look at SQLs by source, there is a good chance that the website is the best source of SQLs. So, yes, you should care. If you demand they structure their reports every week as I describe below, the result will be a focused team and an ever-improving website.

First, establish and educate on the actual goals of the website. Let’s exclude eCommerce websites because they represent an entirely different set of goals, actions and reports. The goals of your website might include the following:

  • Generate high quality net new leads for the business
  • Provide ongoing education for leads and customers already in the funnel
  • Reinforce brand attributes and brand loyalty
  • Increase brand awareness and advance all thought leadership initiatives

Pretty simple right? So, do you measure your website based on these goals? Yeah, that’s not that simple. The website must do several things to meet these goals.

  1. Attract new visitors and have a plan for how to gain returning visitors
  2. Get more of the visitors to read more than one page (move bouncers to browsers)
  3. Get more of the visitors to engage with the downloadable content (move browsers to downloaders)
  4. Get more of the visitors to fill in a form (move downloaders to converters)

Here are the 5 reporting slides I suggest you ask to see either weekly or monthly that will summarize your website performance as it relates to the goals you set for it.

1. Organic Attract

Measure and report on the trend for weekly visitors and especially new visitors. Give the team a target goal each quarter for new visitors per month. To tune up the website to hit this goal they will have to:

  1. Clean up the website errors that cause poor ranking with the search engines
  2. Identify which keywords should be targeted, and improve the visibility of keywords which are bringing the best browsers, downloaders and converters
  3. Add content which addresses the topics and answers the questions being queried on the search engines, and optimize those blog pages and other web content
  4. Add AMP capability for all pages – i.e. make it more mobile friendly (Google indexes mobile first now)
  5. Move to SSL for all pages and sub-domains
  6. Gain authority with quality backlinks to good performing content from websites with high authority
  7. Reduce page load times to less than 3 seconds by compressing images, reducing scripts, etc.
  8. Identify which channels are driving the best potential new MQLs and SQLs, and focus more resources there

Your weekly one slide “Attract” report should highlight the visitor trend week over week, the hottest entrance pages for attracting new visitors and specify which actions from the list above are planned for this week. The report should also highlight how many of the returning visitors are from existing customers.

2. Bounce to Browse

So you have a great blog that brings in 50% of the traffic, but do they just read that one page and then bounce (exit the website) or are you drawing them deeper into your website? Your team should report weekly on the average duration and page views trend for visitors and what they are doing to improve the numbers.

  1. Add CTAs (calls to action) to all the top performing entrance pages immediately
  2. Consider adding tools like Uberflip or PathFactory
  3. Leverage tools like Crazy Egg to see where visitors are clicking and scrolling and how they are interacting

The one slide report should specify what actions they are taking this week to increase visit duration and the number of pages viewed.

3. Browsers to Downloaders

One of your goals is to provide education to people in the funnel, so you cannot expect to put all content behind gates (forms). A large percentage of your website content will need to be ungated (freemium vs. premium content). Each week your team should report on what percentage of visitors downloaded content and which content was best at driving engagement. What actions are they taking to improve the numbers?

  1. Where is the content placed? Is it in CTAs on all the appropriate pages?
  2. Which content is hot, and can you link to it from more places?

4. Conversions

How good is the website at capturing new leads and getting existing leads and customers to engage with premium content? Each week the one slide report should highlight all the form fills by asset or form type, highlight how many were new leads and share form completion rates by form/asset. The actions pursued each week include:

  1. Fine tune form questions and leverage progressive profiling
  2. Place links to premium content in more hot locations on the website
  3. Add more premium content to the website
  4. Retire older premium content or move to freemium status

The team should have a weekly goal for number of new leads they want to hit.

5. Paid search and paid media summary

Paid campaigns do attraction and conversion all in one, so it is appropriate we report on it separately from the items above. But one slide is all a CMO needs, not reams of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other paid media reports. The one slide should include what campaigns you are running by offer and channel, new leads produced, how much you are spending and the ultimate cost per new lead. It would also be good to report on lead quality (cost per MQL and SQL). The actions for the team weekly include:

  1. What new tests or campaigns they are going to try
  2. What campaigns have run their course or need modification
  3. What budget shifts will happen to improve portfolio results

Do you have a similar website performance five slide or less weekly report? If so, please share.

Next time, learn how the inbound group fits in with the demand generation team in a revenue marketing organization.

Marketing Leadership: Where Women Lead, We May All Follow

As women assume expanded marketing leadership roles in our field, it’s well worth taking some notes. Recently, DMCNY held a Women in Leadership networking event, bringing women leaders and learners together to talk about their experiences, and provide a little coaching I believe we all might use.

As women assume more and expanded marketing leadership roles in our field and share their points of view for others to emulate it’s well worth taking some notes.

Recently, the Direct Marketing Club of New York held a Women in Leadership networking event, bringing women leaders and learners together to talk about their experiences, and provide a little coaching I believe we all might use.

marketing leadership
Photo: Stacey Hawes, president — data practice at Epsilon (standing); Dawn Zier, CEO of Nutrisystem; (seated left) and Adrea Rubin, president of Adrea Rubin Marketing Inc.(seated center) discuss “Women in Leadership” at recent Direct Marketing Club of New York gathering. Photo by Chet Dalzell. | Credit: Chet Dalzell

Be Your Own Brand

Brands require care, purpose and promises fulfilled. By taking yourself, and working and living toward the brand attributes you seek that define you, you fulfill that destiny. You are the best steward of you. “You are the CEO of your own career.”

Seek Out Trusted Advisors

Mentors cannot be assigned; they happen through introduction, affinity and knowledge sharing. Which is one more reason why it’s important to have leaders in your organization who reflect all types of backgrounds and experiences.

Join an Industry Network

Meet a new person every week. Get involved with local marketing clubs, peer groups and ways to give back, for example, by developing the next generation of marketers. Marketing EDGE is a superb way to find and nurture industry talent, as well as participating in alumni groups and industry conferences. Try and meet one new person every week.

Be Aware of Your Wake

Self-awareness also means understanding the people you touch along the journey. While leadership styles may vary, all leaders motivate, impress and inspire. How you do so is up to you.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

The goal of parity between men and women comes down to defining objectives and measuring toward those objectives.

Hire for Emotional Intelligence

Hire individuals who enhance the culture of your company. Yes, skills and experience are vital and must be demonstrated but often, the choice between candidates comes down to how an individual contributes, not what he or she contributes.

When It Comes to Pay, Performance Is the Differentiator But Ask

Why are men paid more than woman, on average? It’s not because they perform on average better than women it’s likely that they just ask more often, and get it. Thus, being equal to the task doesn’t translate to parity in pay. So it’s best to speak up, because performance doesn’t always speak for itself.

Thank you to Stacey Hawes, president data practice at Epsilon; Dawn Zier, CEO of Nutrisystem; and Adrea Rubin, president of Adrea Rubin Marketing Inc. for sharing their respective “cultures of celebration” during the DMCNY event. Yes, it does benefit you to get out and network and to listen and learn.

How to Become a Marketing Unicorn

What does it take to succeed in marketing today? I recently had a chat with TD Bank CMO Patrick McLean about marketing’s changing roles, responsibilities and leadership. And he joked that at his bank, they’re looking for nothing less than “Marketing Unicorns.” Here’s what that means, and his advice on how to become a unicorn in your own career.

Patrick McLean Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, TD Bank – America's Most Convenient Bank
Patrick McLean
Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, TD Bank – America’s Most Convenient Bank

What does it take to succeed in marketing today? I recently had a chat with TD Bank CMO Patrick McLean about marketing’s changing roles, responsibilities and leadership. And he joked that at his bank, they’re looking for nothing less than “Marketing Unicorns.” Here’s what that means, and his advice on how to become a unicorn in your own career.

“I joke that we’re looking for unicorns in these roles,” said McLean. “We’re asking them to do a lot. We’re asking them to think strategically. We’re asking them to be sound fundamentally from an analytics perspective. We want them to be creative leaders.”

Change Starts at the Top

That expansion of expectations doesn’t just go for the marketers who work for Patrick. It’s true of his role as CMO as well, and for the leaders working for him. We were discussing the recent research on marketing strategy and leadership, which shows that marketers are being asked to do more in 11 different areas than they were just 5 years ago, and he saw exactly what our survey respondents did, especially when it comes to taking responsibility for technology and data. Here’s a piece of what he had to say about that:

Technology and data are things he feels leaders need to understand first-hand, not just have somebody else take care of. “The landscape changes so quickly that not only do you need some people on your team that are immersed in it and get it and are continuing to challenge the status quo. … But you yourself have to immerse yourself as a leader so that, first of all, you don’t personally get left behind, but also so you can understand what that technology can do.”

But even beyond MarTech and data, which are responsibilities I think everyone expects to have expanded, McLean sees other new and important facets to the role of marketing leader:

“The role of the chief marketing officer is so complex now, and there’s so many different dimensions to it,” said McLean. It “has evolved significantly in terms of the role they play across the business. And I think being a good relationship person, and being collaborative, and influencing across the organization is a really important role that the marketer plays.”

A Full ‘Stack’ Development

That applies all the way down the marketing personnel “stack” (to borrow the tech term we all use and respect so much).

When I was a young marketer growing up in the early part of my career, there were the functional disciplines of marketing, and you wanted to make sure you were learning all the aspects,” said McLean. “Fast forward to today … and in a lot of ways the role that analytics plays now, in particular, and the changing dynamics of customer behavior now, and they just demand that you have a really good sense of everything from analytics to strategy to creative.

The marketer used to be the person coming up with the advertising and maybe executing tactically on a few acquisition tactics. But in a  lot of ways, the marketer now is the driver of growth, the voice of the customer, the analytics leader, in a lot of ways, across the business to understand what’s going on in the market place. And I just think that responsibility to be all those things has never been more complex or more important.

How to Become a Marketing Unicorn

So that’s the view from the top of what marketers need to be able to do today. But managing your own career, how can you build those hard and soft skills to become a rare and in-demand Marketing Unicorn? Here was some of McLean’s advice for that:

“We’re looking for unicorns these days,” he said. So, “think about what it would take to turn yourself into a unicorn, at least directionally.”

Patrick went on to describe how he developed his own unicorn skills (Should we call it his “horn”? Maybe not.) and the techniques he used are more like what you see tech workers doing than what you’d traditionally do in marketing. He went out of his way to work in companies and on projects that would give him the skills he needed to develop:

What I did early in my career is I got into an e-commerce role. I took on roles that challenged me from a technology perspective … And having done that, first of all, I had a passion for it. And second of all, I gained an appreciation early for the value of it. I would encourage anybody to do a tour of duty in one of those jobs, whether it’s completely in your wheelhouse or not. Whether you work for your digital team, or get into a product development kind of job where you’re forced to get into technology and forced to understand it.

Patrick also advised ambitious marketers to develop their understanding of business strategy.

“While I’ve always been relatively confident and engaged in marketing strategy,” he said “I think what’s changed for me [as a CMO] has been elevating my game to the point where I’m connecting marketing strategy and business strategy, and therefore influencing business strategy. And that’s been an eye-opener for me.”

That was a challenge at first, and something he had to work on. He closed that gap by spending more and more time with business leaders across the bank.

“Again, it’s this idea of getting out of your functional positions and becoming more a part of the broader business leadership team that’s driving the business forward. And when you move into a chief marketing officer type seat, that becomes the expectation. So the more you can think that way earlier in your career, the better equipped you’re going to be when you get there; and I would say the more likely that you’re going to wind up in one of those seats.”

While some of that may sound daunting, it opens up a lot of opportunities for marketers to move up and into more rewarding positions in the company.

“It makes it that much more fun, too, honestly,” he said. “You’re not just playing your position, but I think we all should be aspiring to move the business forward and lean into it.”

If you to hear more of Patrick McLean’s advice on building your career and becoming a marketing leader, you can click here to see the compete interview on demand over at AADM.

How are you working to develop your own career? What advice would you give to more junior marketers coming up themselves? Let me know in the comments.

Why Marketing Leadership Must Drive Change

We’re working on the analysis of our most recent survey, “The Marketing Leadership Survey,” and the big takeaways are starting to coalesce for me. The biggest one so far is this: The marketing leader must drive change in the company. This is now an important part of marketing strategy, and if you don’t take on that responsibility, your marketing department will suffer.

UPDATE: The results of “The Marketing Leadership Survey” have been release. Click here to download the complete report, “How to Drive a Successful Marketing Strategy in 2018: 4 factors reshaping marketing management, and what effective marketing leaders must do to be successful today.”

We’re working on the analysis of our most recent survey, “The Marketing Leadership Survey,” and the big takeaways are starting to coalesce for me. The biggest one so far is this: The CMO or other top marketing management must drive change in the company. This is now an important part of marketing strategy, and if you don’t take on that responsibility, your marketing department will suffer.

Why Change Is the Marketer’s Job

There are a lot of aspects of the research that point to this conclusion, but the most important ones are these:

  1. No other department in the company is as exposed to changes in consumer behavior and consumer technology as marketing.
  2. The marketing department has the most to lose if the company does no have access to the latest technology and data capabilities.
  3. The marketing department, and marketing leaders personally, have the most to gain from the opportunities that come with that change.

We’ve been crunching the data here, and I’ve had the opportunity to discuss it with Patrick McLean, CMO of TD Bank, as we prepared for the midday Fireside Chat on Marketing Leadership at #AADM18 (that’s our virtual show on June 28). And the picture that’s emerging is that change is the marketing department’s friend.

How to Embrace Change to Achieve Your Marketing Goals

Far from being victimized by change, marketing leaders who can use change to make the marketing department more effective — by changing the marketing vision and scope of responsibilities, changing the technology stack, changing the roles on the team, changing the metrics they use to better prove effectiveness against company goals —  are able to deliver a more concrete contribution to the company’s goals. And when you can do that, the marketing department can write its own ticket.

Marketing leaders who drive change are able to win the arguments for budget and buy-in because the bottom line is on their side. Marketers who don’t drive change and have it forced upon them are never more than beggars in the C-suite.

Doing this requires more than just a vision. Successful marketing leaders today must establish strong relationships with the leadership team and other departments so they have crystal clear understanding of what marketing can do to help those other entities succeed.

Then the leader must be able to shift team composition, tools and data to be able to re-orient the department to exceed those expectations. And while that’s happening, you need to develop the reporting capability and metrics that allows you to prove the effectiveness of these efforts and the ROI on the investments the company is going to make in them.

Metrics and Measurement Are Your Tools for Making This Happen

That’s why metrics are super important. When we look at answers from marketers who say their departments are under respected and underfunded, they’re expressing a lot of frustration around what the C-suite and other departments aren’t allowing marketing to do. They can’t get the budget they need, can’t hire the people, can’t buy the tools to empower modern marketing strategies.

At heart, all of those problems are trust and communication issues. And when we look at marketers who say their departments are respected and funded well, they’re focused more on how to prove ROI to the C-suite. they know how to show their strategies will help reach the company’s goals and prove they did once the deeds are done. Measurement and metrics are the tools these marketers use to build those interdepartmental relationships and earn trust.

That’s a sliver of the findings coming out of the research. I can’t wait to show you the rest. You’ll be able to download the full report on our site June 28, the same day as the All About Direct Marketing virtual conference.

What do you think of these findings so far? Do those takeaways make sense with the marketing realities you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments below, and you just might make it into the report.

How Top CMOs Leverage MBOs to Drive Accountability and Performance

Management By Objective (MBO) is intended to be measurable and directly tied to the organization’s goals. But in many cases today, and especially in marketing, managers default to defining MBOs for their team members that are not connected to the organizational goals and objectives.

Management by objectives (MBO) is a management theory introduced by Peter Drucker in his 1954 book, “The Practice of Management.” MBOs improve organizational performance by defining objectives agreed to by both management and employees. According to its time tested principles, having a say in goal setting and action plans encourages participation and commitment among employees, and aligns objectives across the organization.

Do the quarterly MBOs given to individuals on your marketing team look like this?

  • Creative designer: Get certified in a new application, design and publish 20 new assets
  • Event planner: Successfully execute two named events
  • Campaign manager: Launch two new programs with greater than 10% open rates

These MBOs are NOT connected to the marketing objectives, and that is root cause for many accountability issues in marketing. Management By Objective (MBO) as a process for defining objectives at both the organizational and the employee level was popularized by Peter Drucker in his book “The Practice of Management.” The objectives at all levels of the organization are intended to be measurable and directly tied to the organization’s goals. But in many cases today, and especially in marketing, managers default to defining MBOs for their team members that are not connected to the organizational goals and objectives. The breakdown tends to happen at the department goal level. If we are to hold ourselves and our teams accountable for marketing outcomes, then the MBOs for every individual have to make sense in the context of the organizational goals.

For example, if your quarterly marketing goals include something like this:

  • Grow revenue from current customers by 10%
  • Source 500 new customer accounts
  • Expand sales into two new geographies and exceed sales goals there
  • Create a marketing sourced pipeline of $50m

What should the department goals look like?

Choice A:

  1. Creative group: Design and publish 20 new assets, make the website more mobile friendly, drive for 10,000+ downloads this quarter
  2. Demand generation group: Drive 1,000 new SQLs, acquire 500 new leads.
  3. Marketing Ops: Clean up the database, increase technology adoption by 10%
  4. Event planning: Get 10,000+ leads from events

Choice B:

  1. Creative group: Increase engagement with our content quarter over quarter by 10%, grow customer revenues by 10%, increase new traffic to website by 10%, drive 500 new leads from website, increase traffic from two new geographies by 25%
  2. Demand generation group: Source and engage with leads from 1,000 new accounts, of which 33% are in two new geographical regions. Drive content engagement from our installed base up by 25%, create a $10m pipeline from current customers, create 1,000 new SQLs with $10M in opportunity value attached
  3. Marketing Ops: expand databases to include 100K records for two new geographies (geos), achieve installed based revenue growth of 10%+ and new account acquisition of 150%
  4. Event planning: Get 10,000+ new leads from events, 50% of this from two new geos, engage with 10% of our current customers at events

Choice A is more about tasks and less about outcomes. Choice B is more tightly aligned to the marketing organization goals. With department level goals written like Choice B, we can now write individual team member MBOs like this:

  • Creative designer: Increase buyer engagement with our content by 10% over last quarter and grow existing customer revenues by 10% as a result, create 20 pieces of new content to support expansion into two new geos.
  • Event planner: Drive 250 new SQLs from events, resulting in $20m in pipeline, half of which is in two new geos
  • Campaign manager: Acquire and develop leads in 25 new accounts, generate 15 SQLs, and create $5m in pipeline

As CMOs if we ensure that the departments in marketing have goals and objectives tightly tied to the top line marketing objectives, it becomes much easier for the department heads to divide up those numbers for the individuals on their team. If the department goals are nebulous or activity related, instead of outcomes, all bets are off.

The result is that we assign out the big marketing goals, in slices, in exactly the same way the VP of Sales divides up his revenue target to each rep. So if marketing has a goal of 1,000 SQLs, and $50m in pipeline created, then perhaps 10 individuals each get 100 SQLs and $5m of pipeline.

An obvious objection might be that one cannot assign a goal to an individual that requires many team members to contribute to be successful. How can we give a goal of 100 SQLs from the website to the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) person when they don’t own the content used for attracting and capturing new leads?

The answer is that the marketing goals and the associated numbers have to be driven down to each individual, otherwise nobody owns them. Giving a net new lead goal to the SEM person will force them to make demands on the creative group and on marketing operations to get this job done. Giving the interactive designer a goal for pipeline in new geographies will force them to serve the sales and marketing teams developing content that makes this happen.

Peter Drucker imagined the MBO as a way to get every individual aligned with the goals of the entire function. Don’t fall into the trap of giving people tasks or developmental goals for MBOs. Don’t think it has to be constrained to what the individual can do individually. Simply make him/her an owner of part of a number related to the marketing number and watch your team’s performance accelerate.

Customer Experience Is King in 2018, and at #AADM18

It’s one of the major themes we’ve seen this year among the most successful marketers: The customer’s experience is your brand — far more so than anything you say in media, paid or earned. If you don’t deliver a great omnichannel experience for your customer, your brand is going to suffer. So what goes into creating those experiences from the point of view of a CMO or brand leader? I have a great chance for you to find out.

Brand leaders in 2018 are obsessed with the customer experience.

It’s one of the major themes we’ve seen this year among the most successful marketers: The customer’s experience is your brand — far more so than anything you say in media, paid or earned. If you don’t deliver a great omnichannel experience for your customers, your brand is going to suffer.

So what goes into creating those experiences from the point of view of a CMO or brand leader?

On June 28 at the All About Direct Marketing virtual conference, we’re going to delve deep into that across many sessions, including keynotes with brand leaders from two top American brands.

Patrick McLean Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, TD Bank – America's Most Convenient Bank
Patrick McLean EVP and CMO, TD Bank

TD Bank CMO Talks Marketing Leadership

You may have heard TD Bank CMO Patrick McLean on the Marketing Garage podcast. In the afternoon keynote, we’ll go deeper into how McLean and TD Bank build those experiences, and what it takes to be a marketing leader today and in the future.

Xfinity Brand Leader Creates Customer Experiences at Enormous Scale

Todd Arata Senior Vice President, Brand Marketing, Comcast
Todd Arata SVP, Brand Marketing, Comcast

But before that, to kick off the show, we’ll be talking to Comcast Xfinity SVP of Brand Marketing Todd Arata about how Xfinity connects with customers one-to-one at enormous scale as their cable offering has expanded to one of the largest in America. It’s a challenge Comcast is meeting with technology, strategy and out-of-the-box thinking, and we’ll discuss how they make that happen.

And More Marketing Strategy and Insights!

Beyond those star keynotes, the schedule is packed with great sessions:

It’s a stacked agenda, we’ve been working hard on it, and I hope you’ll stop by to hear them all for yourself at the 2018 All About Direct Marketing virtual conference.