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Aug 11, 2020

All-Weather B2B Lead Gen with Google Remarketing

Language Undefined Many of our B2B clients run search and display campaigns for demand generation. They all have set budgets and goals to hit every quarter. They also want to see improvements in performance on a monthly basis; thus, we are always optimizing our campaigns to generate more leads at a lower cost month-over-month. Remarketing campaigns are a great resource for marketers to have in their toolbox. Here are the reasons why I recommend remarketing campaigns to my clients: Remarketing generates leads at a lower cost-per-lead (CPL) than non-brand campaigns Remarketing allows you to nurture your targeted audience and push users down the sales funnel - you can target users in any stage of the funnel Returning users show higher CVR than new users Remarketing strategies vary by client and they are usually based on volume of website traffic, engagement of users on website, and assets available to offer to the target audience. However, there are two remarketing strategies that always perform well: RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaigns for non-brand keywords RLSA campaigns allow you to refine traffic and target the audience that is most likely to convert or generate leads. Sometimes we have keywords that are too broad to target by themselves since we don’t want to get irrelevant traffic.  In this case,  we recommend combining keywords with highly relevant audiences – your website visitors. You’re safe with this approach because this audience already knows about you, so they are more likely to be a relevant click. We have seen great success with this strategy. Below is an example of performance before, and after, launching the RLSA for a non-brand campaign. We saw a 47% increase in leads and 53% decrease in CPL. Target past converters with remarketing Targeting non-converters may seem like the obvious remarketing strategy but you should not forget about your converter audience. Do you have an audience that downloaded your most recent whitepaper but has not signed up for a demo and has not bought from you yet? Here is your remarketing opportunity! You probably know that B2B sales cycles are longer;  users need multiple touch points before making a business decision. Therefore, you should see remarketing as your opportunity to be present and nurture your audience. With that said, if you have users who downloaded an asset, consider whether they are ready for a demo or if they need to download another relevant asset before reaching that point. Put yourself in their shoes and help them move down the funnel. We recently launched a remarketing campaign and the converters audience showed a higher CVR and lower CPL than non-converters. As expected, you will see a higher volume of leads coming from non-converters, but converters are a highly relevant audience that has not yet become a sale which represents a business opportunity for you. Besides, their CPL is very low compared to non-brand search. I have seen instances where their CPL is 1/8 of the non-brand CPL! What to do next? Look for your expensive keywords and your relevant audiences and see if there is opportunity to create an RLSA campaign to increase your relevancy and volume of leads. Additionally, go to your analytics account, review your converters audience and if they are not your customers yet, think about where they could be in the sales funnel and what they need to see from you before making a purchase decision. Your remarketing ad and landing page should answer that question. Author: Lucia Rodas-Estrada, Search Director

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Jul 8, 2020

Strategic B2B Digital Marketing in a Pandemic: Mountain Climbing & Forrest Gump

Language English In times of challenge, many people instinctually think short-term. Climbers' feet from the summit of Everest, for instance, are not paragons of long-term, strategic thinking. Their sole focus is putting one foot in front of the other and getting enough oxygen to avoid collapse, as part of a fight or flight response. Mid-pandemic, it is understandable that business decision-makers would resemble the climber and pivot to survival mode by cutting overhead, deferring capital expenses, and maximizing shareholder value in the short-term. The juxtaposition of a strong stock market and double-digit unemployment would seem to reinforce this idea. COVID-19, however, is not a flashpoint event that has thrust business leaders into a short-term orientation. For digital marketers, the twin forces of COVID-19 and a prevailing “win now” approach have been a mixed bag. On one hand, CPG merchants benefit from tailwinds born of convenience and necessity, whereas major expenses are deferred, drifting from essentials into treats, postponables, or expendables. For merchants selling the latter, the first impulse is to cut back spend for brand building or new customer acquisition. After all, each ad dollar spent during the pandemic is not coming back through the door as a customer any time soon, and advertising dollars can be funneled elsewhere within the business to generate short-term “wins.” Digital B2B marketers, however, would argue that approach is a mistake, especially in a time of crisis. Just because purchases are being deferred during an economic downturn does not mean they won’t eventually take place - the sales cycle is simply lengthening. Since a B2B customer may be buying a cloud server solution and not toothpaste, the time between impression and sale can take months. There is painstaking research, comparisons of quotes and specs, buy-in from stakeholders, and adapting existing systems to accommodate an update. This explains why lead gen is king within B2B: business prospects are starting relatively far up-funnel and are rarely making spur of the moment purchase decisions. Putting that idea in action, advertisers of all stripes can boost investment and steal share of voice in a soft marketplace now, with an eye on late 2021 or early 2022. In doing so, they can digitally establish cost-effective relationships with prospects and adapt nurture strategy to a longer time frame. This can pay dividends as economic recovery begins, to the tune of 4-5x growth in profit, market share, and market penetration. Here are four ways to execute on that idea, taken from the B2B playbook: 1. Serve future-minded content that gets to the point By now, most brands have changed with the times, replacing outdated copy and creative that worked at the end of 2019 and Q1 of 2020. However, acknowledging the climate while avoiding being trite or bland can be a tightrope walk. For a positive example of striking this balance, think about how auto brands like GM are offering 0% financing for lengthened time frames or the option to defer monthly payments. Offering such incentives is a short-term risk, but if the barrier to purchase is lowered, sellers can widen the top of their funnels, convey flexibility and understanding, and build long-term trust and brand preference. This is especially true as a consideration set shrinks in a thinner ad market. 2. Mix up messaging for non-converting site visitors Just because someone isn’t yet willing to buy or provide information doesn’t mean they don’t have needs that should be addressed. After all, they visited a website for a reason. Consider adapting creative and driving a secondary KPI that provides utility to your customer after their first visit, like a whitepaper or content download. If possible, factor these sub-KPIs into your bidding strategy. 3. Keep marketing and sales attached at the hip  Your digital marketing operation can act as a survey of what’s top of mind for your potential customers. As your sales team gets in touch with prospects that don’t qualify, they will begin to gather objections which can be incorporated into your marketing message to address points of hesitation proactively and empathize with customer sentiment. 4. Relax standards for disqualification  It is not “no” forever – it is “no” right now based on circumstances that are beyond peoples’ control. Give people more time than usual and consider accounting for that ambiguity in your CRM platform. To borrow from a Forrest Gump clip, digital advertising during an economic downturn has its similarities to shrimping during a hurricane. By capitalizing on an emptier marketplace, showing a meaningful message to people who are looking for one, and maintaining that message through the entire sales process, advertisers can position themselves to weather the storm of COVID-19 and reap the benefits years down the line. Author: Bert Garry, Sr. SEM Manager

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Jun 8, 2020

B2B Paid Search Performance in the Era of COVID-19

Language English COVID-19 has impacted all of us in one way or another. Our personal and professional lives have changed, our routines are different than earlier this year, and our needs and priorities have changed as well. In addition, the global economy has been affected by the pandemic and many businesses have had to adjust and re-prioritize their goals and resources.  If you work in the B2B industry, you probably noticed changes in the performance of your paid search accounts around mid-March, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Metrics for our different tech accounts started to decline. Fortunately, most accounts started to improve the second half of April and the last week of April was one of the strongest in the last couple of months. We analyzed a dozen B2B Google accounts and search campaigns, and were surprised to see the overall trend and how different tech accounts performed during these unusual times. Despite the fact that click-through-rate  (CTR)  decreased and the average cost-per-click (CPC)  increased in March, conversion rate (CVR)  remained strong and cost per lead  (CPL)  continued to decrease that month.  CVR was still strong in April and remained relatively stable in May. Here are some of the observed trends in our B2B Google accounts: Lower CTR Since March 92% of the search accounts analyzed showed a lower CTR in March compared to February. 82% of those accounts continued to decrease CTR in April. Overall, CTR decreased 18% in March and 4% in April, compared with the previous month. CTR slightly increased in May (+2%). CPC Increasing Month Over Month Average CPC for the analyzed accounts decreased 6% in February but started to increase in March (+6%) and continued to increase in April (+7%). The upward trend for CPC continued in May (+2%). 83% of the accounts decreased their CPC from January to February. 50% of the accounts had a higher CPC in March than February. 50% of accounts had a higher CPC in April compared to March. Only a third of the accounts improved CPC in May CVR Not Increasing Yet Conversion rate for the analyzed accounts decreased 5% in February and 2% in March compared to the previous month. In April, there were signs of improvement as conversion rate increased 1% compared to March. However, conversion rate decreased again in May (-6%) compared with April, reaching the lowest CVR this year. CVR decreased every week in May and most of the accounts ( 64%) decreased CVR in the last week of May. It will be challenging to increase CVR in the next couple of months considering the changes in traffic volume and search behavior we see every year during the summer, so we should review our strategy and prioritize our best-performing assets and tactics in order to reach the campaign's goal. CPL Increased in April CPL consistently decreased from January to March but increased by almost 23% in April compared with the previous month. Nonetheless, CPL is trending in the right direction in May decreasing almost 10% compared with April. 73% of the analyzed accounts increased their CPL in March. However, 50% of these accounts were able to decrease their CPL in April. 46% of the accounts showed lower CPL in April compared with February. 46% of the accounts decreased CPL in May. All Metrics Improved the Last Week of April All metrics analyzed improved the last week of April compared with the last week of March, when all metrics were heading in the wrong direction. CTR increased by 13% CPC decreased by almost 3% CVR increased by 13% CPL decreased by 9% CPC had been trending upwards since the third week of March; reaching its highest point in the second week of May when it increased 20% compared with the first week of March. The good news is that CPC has decreased in the last two weeks of May. This is definitely the time for advertisers to focus on ad copy testing to improve CTR and to manage the increasing CPCs in the industry. In addition, B2B advertisers should focus on refreshing remarketing campaigns and investing more in the campaigns to nurture users and improve conversion rates in SEM. The CVR seen in May is the lowest so far this year. Based on the performance we are seeing, we can say that B2B paid search accounts were not highly impacted by COVID-19 as other industries. Nonetheless, most accounts showed lower performance in March and the first two weeks of April and CTR and CVR are not trending upwards yet. Conversion rate is the metric B2B advertisers should keep a close eye on given it decreased four weeks in a row last month and we are close to the summer season when traffic decreases. Finally, we recommend monitoring how leads move down the sales funnel as sales cycles may be longer than before COVID-19 and also prioritizing the keywords that generate opportunities so you can generate more revenue. Author: Lucia Rodas-Estrada, Search Director

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May 3, 2020

How CPC and CPL Relate in B2B

Language Undefined CPC in B2B is Not Cheap It is common knowledge that cost per click (CPC) can be pretty high in B2B tech. I have seen CPCs range in price from $10 to $250 per click for exact non-brand keywords. Is $250 per click worth the price?  I would say it depends. However, for the client who paid that CPC, the answer is yes! For the tech company that made the $250 investment, being present for that specific keyword was extremely valuable; not only because competitors were bidding on the same keyword, but also because they were seeing leads and pipelines generated by the keyword. Fortunately, CPCs were only above $200 per click one week, and then the cost went back to normal the week after.   How to Evaluate CPC for Lead Gen Campaigns Many clients get concerned when CPC goes up and immediately ask us to pull back and decrease max CPC. Nonetheless, I recommend looking at all metrics and campaign performance before decreasing your max CPC. In my experience, clients worry about higher CPCs when they are seeing a higher cost per lead (CPL). The question is, would you achieve a lower CPL by decreasing your CPC? In the example below, you’ll see how lead volume can decrease when decreasing CPC. Even though we decreased CPC month-over-month, our CPL went up. With lower CPC, our ads were not eligible to be shown in all auctions and we got fewer impressions. Therefore, we got fewer clicks and leads. In case you are curious, this competitor campaign was never limited by budget and there were no major changes from Month B to Month C.   Finding the ideal CPC in B2B You have probably heard that paid search is an art and a science, and I think that is true. To find the ideal CPC, you need to understand how metrics in SEM work, what they mean, and how they affect each other. At the same time, you need to leverage your experience, look at the big picture, and predict if a lower CPC will help to achieve the campaign goal. The SEM fundamentals are always the same, but every account performs differently. The only way to know how much you can decrease your CPC is by testing different CPCs and adjust them accordingly until you get the desired results. In the example above, we increased CPCs for the best performing keywords in the campaign, and CPC went back to $15 per click. We know our ideal CPC for that campaign is between $14-$16 per click. Our lead volume is going up again, but not at the pace it did in previous months. This month, the landscape has changed due to COVID-19 and we are taking that into account for optimizations. If you have a lead generation campaign, don’t get concerned the moment you see a higher CPC. Instead, look at the campaign’s overall performance, its conversion volume, and CPL. Are you getting more conversions with a slightly higher CPC? Is your CPL in line with your goals? If so, leave your max CPC alone and find other ways to improve performance. Also, when evaluating CPC, see if there have been any changes in quality score, impression volume, and competition that may have affected it. If you want to improve your CPC in the long term, focus on improving your quality score and your CPC will automatically decrease. Improving ad relevancy goes a long way. Author: Lucia Rodas-Estrada, Search Director

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Dec 6, 2019

B2B Audience Targeting in the Privacy Era

Language Undefined In May 2018, the European Unions’ General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became a disturbance to the data marketplace. Data providers, both big and small, experienced a drastic decline in available cookies. While GDPR was not the death-knell of audience targeting in Europe, which is now slowly on the incline, it was certainly a blow to the data industry as brands divested of third-party data to invest in their own first-party, consent-first data. As marketers in the United States, you will face a similar situation in 2020 when California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) takes effect. During this potentially turbulent transition, as US-based tech stacks come into compliance with CCPA, there are precautionary measures that programmatic traders and media strategists should consider in an effort to mitigate troughs in campaign performance: contextual alignment, knowing where your data is coming from, and anticipating the future of data. Perhaps the most drastic option is to, at least temporarily, abandon third-party data targeting in favor of contextual targeting. The IAB Tech lab provides a guideline for self-declared contextual categories that is used for consistency across the industry. These self-declared categories are targetable in leading DSPs and allow you to reach audiences’ browsing content that aligns with their messages or products. While this may work for many B2C brands, especially for products that are quickly consumed such as beverages, this “off the shelf” targeting for B2B brands may prove too inaccurate as the categories are rather broad and do not dig deep into niche topics of interest. For brands with niche markets, you will find that some data partners have already made inroads into contextual targeting. Partners such as Grapeshot, now part of the Oracle Data Cloud, offer highly-customizable contextual categories for targeting based on in-page content. These custom taxonomies allow you to target the most relevant content from blog posts- to new trends- to breaking news. Even custom contextual taxonomies may not have the precision needed for certain brands, post-CCPA. B2B marketers like you may find that broad content alignment is simply not accurate enough; the legal quagmire of CCPA-compliant data is difficult to navigate. In order to err on the side of caution with third-party data, you should look to two different categories of data providers: incentivized data, and GDPR-compliant data. Between these two categories, the latter has been established and will have experience dealing with privacy regulations while the former will be a developing market to watch as the Internet transitions to a privacy-first state. Data partners who are already GDPR-compliant will also likely be some of the first certified as CCPA-compliant due to the similarities in regulations. IAB Europe has developed a transparency and consent framework (TCF) to enable data as well as inventory partners to ensure all user information is kept compliant. Due to the vast marketshare belonging to California, you can expect a similar framework in the United States in 2020, and should also be aware of which partners are compliant with the framework. Programmatic media and real-time bidding are in a state of flux. With ever-increasing pressure from governmental bodies to regulate the industry and protect users’ privacy, brands and marketers must stay vigilant by continually vetting partners to ensure compliance. Before using any data, it is critical that the B2B buyer knows where the data is sourced, how the data is sourced and verifies that the data provider is compliant with the local regulatory body. If the B2B buyer opts for contextual alignment instead, the buyer must look to develop contextual strategies that go beyond the broad categories offered to all buyers, and seek to customize a niche audience. Author: Vincent Pelaske, Senior Programmatic Trader

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Nov 14, 2019

Merkle’s 2019 B2B Exchange: Creating the Ideal Future State

Language Undefined In early October 68 B2B marketers from across the US gathered in Austin, Texas for Merkle’s third annual B2B Exchange. Attendance included representatives from multinational companies such as Cisco, Dell, and Unilever. Our strategic partners Adobe and LinkedIn sponsored the event with discussions about the opportunity gap in thought leadership and delivering great customer experiences (CX). This year’s theme centered around creating the ideal future state for B2B marketing. Presenters were tasked with defining this enigmatic destination through their research; approach to data, analytics, and CX; and organizational imperatives. The 2019 Exchange made one thing clear: the B2B customer is more dynamic, discerning, and vocal than ever before. The ideal future state of B2B marketing will come to look entirely different than it once did, when a job title and company name were the standard identifiers of a target audience. Today’s B2B customers are so much more than that.   Customer Experience CX featured in many of the presentations. Adobe’s Jill Steinhour underscored the generational shift responsible for a changing customer journey: 73% of millennials in the workforce are involved in making buying decisions, and millennials will comprise 44% of the workforce by 2025. Millennials behave differently than their older colleagues: they prefer digital-first environments to conduct research, eschew middlemen, and are more likely to switch vendors. B2B marketers are focusing more on their brand’s values than product features, partly due to the fact that millennials care about a brand’s reputation and its ability to resonate on a personal level. Merkle’s Peter Vandre further illustrated the need to deliver great CX to customers and spoke to its challenges while contending with privacy law. Proposed workarounds to targeting under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s impending California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) include investing in a private identity graph that allows you to connect customer touchpoints across channels tied to a single person’s ID and building a private “data clean room,” which is a privacy-compliant environment with licensing restrictions. Merkle’s Margie Chiu led an interactive workshop that illustrated how marketers can move from a tactic-based strategy to a customer-centric one. Enablers of a customer-centric strategy include having a future vision, integration of technology and data, proper staff, and KPIs that are aligned with customer-focused goals. Establishing processes and prioritization is key here—the quickest way to fail at a customer-centric strategy is to approach it without first ensuring all the pieces are in place to execute. Data driven insights are a significant enabler of great CX, as Ugam, A Merkle Company’s Manu Sharma explained in his presentation. Sharma described how a brand’s first-party data, coupled with external customer, competitive, and supplier data can provide marketers with the insights they need to offer intuitive, informed, and personalized experiences.   Technology Integration and Innovation Two presenters, Merkle’s Matthew Mobley and Forbes’ Will Thompson focused on technology’s benefits and limitations. Technology innovation is widely touted as THE key ingredient to a marketer’s success, with automation leading the way. What marketers need to realize, as highlighted by Mobley and Thompson, is that technology can’t do all the work on its own. In the case of a tech stack’s assembly, integration is greater than the sum of its parts. Identity needs to be the lynchpin to any successful tech integration, therefore enabling resolution of data from different sources as it relates to individuals. When vetting vendors, the ability to innovate, as well as the ability to reconcile overall business goals with those of IT, should be priorities. AI, for all its promises to change the world, can’t in fact automate everything. A prerequisite for AI’s decisioning capabilities is a lot of data. AI is also unable to understand context to the extent that a human can and shouldn’t serve as a substitute for marketing strategy.   The Importance of Thought Leadership LinkedIn’s Tusar Barik provided details from LinkedIn’s study with Edelman on thought leadership’s relationship to demand generation. The report analyzed survey results from over 1.2 thousand US professionals to determine how marketers should think about using thought leadership as a sales tool. Barik’s recommendations included finding uncommon topics, establishing trust with an audience, and striving for relevancy. While great content can translate to new business opportunities and loyalty among customers, irrelevant or poorly written thought leadership can be very harmful to a business.   The Modern Creative Challenge Merkle’s Don Sklenka and Seth Hutchings provided details on dynamic creative optimization (DCO), taking the group through the basic uplift seen in market, and how creative and media teams can work together to produce great results; they cited a 58% increase in machine sales for one client. DCO helps move the needle on producing enough content to support the number of customer journeys, a major pain point in data driven marketing. Merkle’s Michael McLaren challenged the audience to find ways to test and implement more modern, dynamic approaches to creative.   As you map the path ahead, it’s important to glean insights from the experience of other industry leaders. Events like this one allow for the in-person sharing of ideas that don’t always occur in digital environments. We look forward to continuing the conversation next year, when we’ll be able to see the outcome of this year’s predictions. For access to this year’s content, or to request an invite for the 2020 B2B Exchange, click here. Author: Eva Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communications

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Jun 16, 2019

Google’s New Product Features and the Impact on B2B Search

Language Undefined Merkle attended Google Marketing Live, the tech company’s annual digital marketing event. Google took the event as an opportunity to announce multiple new product features and ad formats to attendees, many of which we’re very excited to put to use on B2B search campaigns. Here are a few that stood out to us and what they mean for B2B advertisers. Discovery Campaigns for Search The introduction of Discovery Campaigns was a highlight of the event. This product feature allows you to access advertising inventory across YouTube, Gmail, and Google’s new “Discover Feed,” which shows relevant topics to users when opening Google apps on their phones. I’m a big “Game of Thrones” fan, so seeing content related to my search for fan theories in the Discover Feed over the past few weeks was a welcome surprise. In terms of targeting, these campaigns no longer require the advertiser to choose keywords or placements. Marketers choose audiences that they believe are relevant to their business, and serve ads to those segments across the three inventories. In B2B marketing—particularly B2B tech marketing—audience targeting is critical. There is often significant overlap in the queries/behavior of a B2B and B2C customer. This newly developed campaign type gives advertisers the confidence to know their ads are being served to the right people across the various Google platforms. More broadly, this feature reinforces Google’s emphasis on audience versus keyword targeting in search. Over the past year, we’ve seen a commitment to audience targeting in Google’s product releases (e.g., detailed demographic segments, audience impression share metrics, etc.), indicating that advertisers’ strategies should rely less heavily on the keyword to reach potential buyers. Another benefit to advertisers is the ease of use, requiring only a sample headline and description, along with a few images for Google to create the ads. Additionally, these ads take on unique formats across the aforementioned three platforms, introducing a seamless ad experience to buyers. Increased Prevalence of Images in Ads As mentioned in a previous Merkle blog post, Google also plans to formally release Gallery Ads, a mobile format in testing for months that allows search marketers to include a carousel of images along with text description if they are shown in the top search position. Given the novelty of images in Google search results, these will be a game changer for mobile advertisers who adopt early. A rollout of images in the top search position also means that advertisers in the second position won’t feature as prominently as they once did since the gallery will take up more space on the page. B2B, especially in the high tech sector, is an increasingly crowded and competitive market. Securing a top position in search results with the added visual experience for an audience is a great way to set a brand apart from stiff competition. Performance Planner Another significant release announced at Google Marketing Live was the Performance Planner, a forecasting tool in Google Ads. This new tool promises to estimate the best spend amounts to drive incremental search conversions. Between this launch and Search Ads 360, Google’s search workflow and reporting tool, it’s clear that the company has invested heavily in providing advertisers more accurate forecasting abilities. In the past, Google’s forecasting tools have left much to be desired. Previously, the CPC estimates have not factored in the fierce competition we see across our clients’ landscapes in the B2B tech space. Additionally, the lack of volume (compared to B2C verticals) results in heavier investment in Nonbrand/Competitive plays and CTR expectations have been dramatically overestimated. I’m curious to see if this new tool does a better job of forecasting these crucial funnel efficiencies. Merkle’s people-based marketing approach hinges on the individual as the common thread among all marketing activity, so seeing our partners develop products that help us deliver on this approach validates our vision. In B2B, homing in on the individual is of utmost importance, due to the length and complexity of a buying cycle. Advertisers’ messaging must align with an individual’s position in the funnel, influence over a buying decision, and intent, and there’s little room for error. I’m happy to see Google recognize the importance of customer experience. Author: Anthony Tedesco, Sr. Search Program Manager

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Jun 12, 2019

ANA’s B2 Awards Recognizes DWA and TE Connectivity

Language Undefined The Association of National Advertisers B2 Awards has recognized DWA and TE Connectivity for “The Science Behind Science Fiction,” a campaign executed for TE in conjunction with Pure Growth Creative (New York) using 20th Century Fox’s “Alita: Battle Angel” as a means of connecting with TE’s target audience. The ANA B2 Awards recognize the top performing business-to-business marketers, large or small, with a unique focus on driving demonstrable business results. This year’s 32 categories evolved to reflect the growing role of B2B marketing and the rapid changes in our industry. DWA was recognized at the 2019 B2 Awards Gala Cocktail Reception and Dinner on Wednesday, May 29, during the Masters of B2B Marketing Conference. Read the case study here.

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Apr 2, 2019

Why “Integrate” Should be a B2B Marketer’s Battle Cry

Language Undefined Several years ago, I read Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” If you haven’t guessed from the title, it was indeed a business book, or as the subtitle calls it, a “leadership fable.” Having never read a business book before, I dreaded reading what I assumed would be some eye-roll worthy drivel. Of all the books I’ve read since then, the underlying message of “Five Dysfunctions” has been one of the most impactful. The gist is this: Organizations need to take a step back to examine processes and relationships that aren’t working, in order to grow. While the book’s fictional characters believed this directive would hinder their productivity, it actually set them up to achieve success down the line. With today’s reverence for extreme productivity and long working hours, any moment lost to reflection seems unthinkable. “High-performing” has become synonymous with “high volume.” The book’s message is part of a broader theme that Merkle’s 2019 Marketing Imperatives embraces: integrating to transform. This year’s Imperatives are built around the idea that customer centricity is essential to business survival, with integration across customer strategy, technology and its enablement, and execution being crucial to achieving it. For B2B marketers, integration is not only necessary, but can spell doom for a company when it’s absent. Arguably the most pronounced difference between B2C and B2B is the duration of a sales cycle. A B2B buyer journey involves multiple stakeholders, months of consideration, knowledge building, and the weighing of competitive solutions. A bulletproof message delivered through beautiful creative can only get a B2B marketer so far. She’ll need to get her target customers to a place where they have confidence in choosing her company’s solution over competitors. Account-based marketing (ABM), a discipline leveraged by many B2B marketers, serves as a perfect example for why integration is a must. ABM involves selecting target “accounts,” or groups of people at a company in charge of a purchase decision, and marketing to them through online and offline tactics. From the selection of the accounts to the measurement of a campaign’s success, ABM requires integration across marketing and sales, and in its more advanced forms, between marketing and the entire organization.  An integrated customer strategy is not attainable without accounting for data. By now, B2B marketers know that data should feature prominently, if not serve as the foundation for all marketing strategy. According to a 2019 Forrester Study, 80% of B2B marketers cite data management as a top five weakness at their organizations. Identity management is a daunting task when you’re unable to reconcile multiple data sources. Customer data platforms (CDPs) are gaining adoption, and for good reason: they solve for this challenge by making sense of the data B2B marketers need to make smart decisions on how and where to market to customers. Finally, planning for the future of B2B marketing execution requires you to consider how you will orchestrate the highest level of personalization at a customer level. B2B buyers expect personalization, but it’s incredibly difficult to prescribe a buyer journey, especially over a long period of time. There are countless factors that are out of a marketer’s control, such as online ratings, market fluctuations, and competitive solutions in market. B2B marketing executions that are most successful are agile enough to account for unforeseen changes. Fortunately, tools exist to make marketing easier, given that the people using them have an agreed-upon vision of success that extends beyond marketing and a focus on integration above all else.   Want to learn more? Check out Merkle’s 2019 Marketing Imperatives Author: Eva Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communications

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Feb 15, 2019

Independent Research Firm Recognizes DWA, A Merkle Company in New B2B Marketing Agencies Report

Language Undefined DWA, a Merkle Company and leading B2B marketing and media agency is included in Forrester’s recent B2B Marketing Agencies report. The report, B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019, is available for download to Forrester subscribers here and highlights the ways in which today’s B2B marketers enlist the support of marketing agencies. Forrester also provides recommendations on how to choose an agency, along with a list of 39 service providers segmented by revenue. With annual B2B marketing revenue figures of over $50 million, DWA is classified in the “large” category on Forrester’s list. Seven other agencies appear in this segment, including Dentsu-owned gyro and IPG’s MRM//McCann. Merkle, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven, global performance marketing agency and part of Dentsu Aegis Network, acquired DWA in late 2017 to grow its B2B operation. With clients such as Cisco, DXC Technology, and Intel, DWA brings an impressive client roster to Merkle’s organization. DWA’s specialties include account-based marketing, demand generation, programmatic media, and technology stack consultation and integration. The company grew its revenue by over 80% in 2018, making it one of the fastest growing media and marketing agencies in the B2B space. Author: Eva Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communications

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