Monday, March 3, 2014

How Your Brand Helps Your "Rank"

Building Your Brand Digitally 

One of the most important aspects of data-driven digital marketing is branding.  Branding can be simply put as a 'promise' or how the company is perceived by its customers.  Google wishes to be the world's information conduit, Facebook its communications conduit and its commerce conduit.  Each of these firms has a clear idea of what and who it is and relates that information to the outside world.

Branding is important in digital marketing because brand equity is the value of our firm to that outside world. Coming up with our brand image is the first step, after which we develop our brand story and generate content on various channels. These activities create awareness and recognition for our brand and finally, brand equity.  Brand equity has both a financial component in terms of our brand's value and a component of competitive advantage in terms of how our brand is positioned.

For most firms, the challenge becomes integrating the brand promise not only with the firm's offline communications but online as well.  In fact, it is my personal belief that branding is more important now that we are so reliant on the internet to achieve our marketing objectives.  Branding as a concept can be elusive to those who seek to quantify their digital marketing efforts but we can see the results on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). There are many ways to reinforce our brands online:  Search, social media, mobile communications, email, etc.  Each of these forms of communication must reinforce who we are and how we wish people to perceive our brand.

branding, search
Branding Leads to Search Success

Search Rankings Reflect Brand Strength

However, I have often said that search is strategy.  Understanding who we are and how people search for us is the most critical aspect of our digital marketing management process.  Search engines like Google give acknowledgement to branding efforts.  You may have noticed that when you type in a product name large retailers like Amazon and Walmart come up first, with specialty firms showing up sometimes not until the second page of the search results.

The reason for this result is that Google's algorithms give special attention to strong brands because they are trying to 'cut through the clutter' on the internet and provide searchers something of value.  Small companies need to work even harder than large companies to build their brand.  Starting with a clear story, telling that story through related content through online channels will increase the chances of having a strong brand.  A strong brand will in turn rank highly in search results.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Top Three Reasons why B2B Marketers Struggle with Data Analytics

Why does B2B Marketing Struggle with Data Analytics?

A  report from the CEB (Corporate Executive Board) Marketing Leadership Council on the Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing echoes our own research and indicates that B2B marketers are struggling with implementing data analytics solutions in their firms.  Not Surprisingly, the issue is often one of data quality. This illustration shows that poor data quality and analytics capability leads to a lack of meaningful insight, which in turn can lead to a lack of funding for data quality and analytics efforts.

CEB Marketing Leadership Council Report on the Digital Evolution in the B2B Marketplace, 2012

Lack of Results Leads to Lack of Funding

The result of poor data quality is a vicious circle where marketers cannot get the proper funding for their efforts.  Our research results reinforce the results shown in this graphic but also link data quality to customer performance.  In our recent paper in the Journal of Interactive Marketing volume 27, Issue 1, February 2013co-authors James Peltier, Don Lehman and I present a model with empirical evidence from the banking industry, both B2B and B2C applications.  The article is called Organizational Learning and CRM Success: A Model for Linking Organizational Practices, Customer Data Quality, and Performance.

In the article we measure customer data quality in the organizational context.  We not only show the linkages from customer data quality to ultimate firm performance as measured by growth, we explore this result in an organizational context.  Without the cultural that values analytics and data, data quality cannot be obtained. Culture means not only top management support but parts of the organization working together.

Top Three Reasons Why B2B Marketers Struggle at Analytics

Therefore, the top three reasons I see why B2B organizations cannot achieve analytics success are as follows:

1) Lack of a cooperative culture that supports data quality.
2) Lack of support by upper management for data quality efforts.
3) The resulting poor quality data that leads to poor decisions.

I will follow up this blog post with more information about the link between data quality and customer performance as reported in our research.  I thought the CEB report hit the nail on the head in terms of illustrating the grim consequences of a lack of customer data quality and the conclusions dovetailed nicely with our own research results.   In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions about this material or our article.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.