This year, IT spending by the CMO will outpace that of the CIO, according to Gartner. Marketing technology budgets have soared as CMOs take ownership of the crucial customer-facing software that powers digital transformations.
Here’s the thing: your CMOs are under a lot of pressure to ensure that spend delivers. Average tenures of CMOs keep dropping – now sitting at just under four years. And it’s harder to ensure meaningful investments in a technology landscape that has exploded over the last six years – from 150 vendors in 2011 to nearly 5,000, according MarTech Today. Even fast growing technologies like marketing automation software can lead to lackluster results without the right focus, as one study showed less than half of companies who have been using marketing automation software for two years or more have seen increased revenue as a result.
How can you help your CMO ensure that their technology investments are paying off? Software usage analytics can provide the boost to marketing technology stacks that will help marketing leaders uncover real insight to drive real business results.
Starting a meaningful conversation about investing in usage analytics is easier than you may think – here are a few nuggets that will spark discussions.
1. Are web analytics giving your team the insight it needs to generate real leads?
Generating traffic and leads is the main challenge marketing professionals face, according to a recent HubSpot survey. As one of the most mature technologies in the space, marketing professionals leverage web analytics to get a picture of their audiences and develop the content they want to consume. But metrics like page views, visits, bounce rate, time spent, referral traffic and more have limitations in helping marketing professionals ensure a consistent customer journey that ends with a sale.
Let’s take the common example of the free 30-day trial of your software. A new offer proves wildly popular, with users eagerly downloading your software days or even hours after the offer is out, responding through social media channels, your website, email marketing and more. It’s tempting to claim success, and follow-up at a pre-defined time period to encourage conversions with a blanket offer to all users who seemed interested.
But after the period is up, nothing is driving conversions, and marketing doesn’t know why. Software usage analytics lends visibility into usage patterns that will give you valuable insight into why products aren’t resonating with users and how to ensure that they do.
Perhaps, as was the case with a leading provider of PDF management tools, users really want to use your product, but can’t figure out how. By leveraging usage analytics, the business was able to drill into key details on the user journey – how long users worked with the product before walking away and what the characteristics of those users were, including machine, memory capacity, region, version, edition and operating system. Armed with this information, the company was able to determine thousands of potential users were getting stuck with the configuration wizard, abandoning the software before they’d even had the opportunity to use it. With changes to the wizard’s usability, software conversions quickly spiked.
2. Is your marketing automation software helping your team personalize customer outreach consistently across channels?
One of the biggest challenges marketing professionals face is delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time. Nearly half of those surveyed in a recent Marketo survey named having relevant content for each audience as the biggest challenge to scaling program effectiveness.
By leveraging usage analytics, marketing professionals can create deeply personalized offers that provide a consistent experience across all channels to drive real business results. Usage analytics lends insight in the features users leverage the most, how much time they’re spending with those features and also, whether they’re bypassing a killer feature. Armed with that information, marketers can launch targeted campaigns relevant to solving the business problems of unique user profiles – from the potential customer, to the net new, to the established base. They can distribute this content with in-app messaging to reach customers with offers and content when they are most engaged with the product – while they’re using it.
Let’s take, for instance, a campaign designed to move users off a legacy version. With data on exactly how many users are still using the old version, and in what capacity, your business can determine whether it is more economically viable to offer deep discounts and encourage upgrades to the new version than continue to support the old one. With communication and targeted offers that are sensitive to chief concerns and capitalize on top motivations, you can transition holdouts to the new version without the typical protests associated with such moves.
3. Do surveys give you the insight necessary to truly assess customer needs?
User surveys are a standard tool that marketing relies on to craft relevant, meaningful customer narratives. But there are two huge limitations here. It’s very hard to engage users. When you consider that SurveyMonkey processes more than 3 million surveys responses daily, it’s no wonder that response rates hover around 10-15 percent (according to SurveyGizmo). And when web links are publicized over social media, you never actually can be certain you’re engaging the right audience.
There’s a better way to collect customers’ opinions: by addressing them when they are engaged with your application, and asking them what they think about the specific features they are using. With a powerful combination of in-app messaging and software usage analytics, marketing professionals can present relevant questions to users in the context of the application and features you are asking about. It allows you to collect user feedback that does more than just fill PowerPoint slides.
For example, customer conversations often take place with someone in the IT department: the people who the account rep has the relationship with, and are often the easiest people for marketing to reach. While IT can provide extremely valuable information on areas like implementation, licensing, competitive landscape, and more, the user audience can provide insight into efficiencies gained, areas they’d like to enhance, what they like better over the previous technology they used, and much more that will help differentiate your company’s content.
With usage analytics, your team has an edge that your competitors may not – access to the actual users. You can use the data to launch valuable in-app surveys within the context of a particular process to solicit real-time, reliable feedback, or simply to gain real evidence that marketing pros can use to base conversations with these time-starved and difficult to engage professionals.
Plus, by integrating with data on usage, you can target specific audiences with questions that are relevant to their experience with your application. Robust filtering and segmentation allow you to choose from a huge list of criteria – including geographical region, days installed, license type, OS details and much more. You can drill deeply into a user base to get real, actionable information – presenting in-app messages with surveys to audiences as granular as “users who have downloaded software from a specific landing page, have been running it for more than 30 days in trial mode, are running Windows 7 Pro on a desktop dual monitor, have at least 8 GB of RAM and a resolution of 1280 px.”
Be a hero to your marketing department
Our own roles as product managers are becoming increasingly linked with marketing’s successes (and failures). In Pragmatic Marketing’s recent Product Management and Marketing survey, some 18 percent of the 2,500 respondents said that they arrived in the product management role via a marketing route, and 13 percent actually report into marketing. Fostering a deeper and more collaborative relationship with marketing will be crucial to ensuring not only successful product development, launches and adoption, but to the evolution of our own roles.