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Let me start by saying that measuring MQLs (marketing qualified leads) is important, and, assuming you’re a savvy marketer, I’ll assume you know why. But nothing would please me more than killing the MQL. MQLs are a shackle. They are holding marketing back in ways that only someone at “the table” can fully understand, or at least that’s my opinion. In fact, I watch my team cringe every time I bring the subject up. So let me explain. Way Back When I’ve been in B2B tech marketing for more than 25 years — not, of course, that you’d be able to tell by my youthful good looks and high energy. Back in the old days, marketing was considered a lot more art than science. We were the “color” people, walking around with our Pantone books, designing logos and clever tag lines. We manned the booth at trade shows — back in the ’80s we were actually referred to as “booth babes.” Other than wanting to present a good corporate image, with slick brochures and print ads in the finest PC publications, sales didn’t really give us much credit — certainly not for generating revenue. That was sales’ domain. The best sales people had a Rolodex or two filled with contacts of the C-level variety. They played golf — a lot of golf — wined, dined and flew first class. They had the ear of the CEO and drove product direction. Back then, marketing folks were certainly not seen as strategic and almost always were perceived as just a necessary cost of sales. CFOs never understood what we did or why companies would pour money into something that was barely measurable at best. It was indeed the Dark Ages of tech marketing. Along Came The Internet… With the emergence of the internet as a primary communications channel, things began to change. And with the rise of social media, e-commerce, and now the Internet of Things, marketing is in the driver’s seat. Not sales. Not IT. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2017, the CMO will have more buying authority than the CIO when it comes to tech purchases. Communicating with customers has never been easier — the internet provides a fluid communication channel that is not reserved for the elite few with budget and buying authority. Need information on a product? Google it and visit a vendor’s website. Or better yet, go to a community or social site and read what existing customers are saying about it. Buyers are now in control of the sales process. They dictate how, when and what they will buy. They tell us what our brands mean and stand for. According to some statistics, many buyers don’t involve sales until they are well on their way to buying a product. They are, however, engaging with content — from what Google refers to as the “Zero Moment of Truth,” or the first impression a customer has with a brand, all the way to entering a credit card number and using the product, and beyond. The “Buyer’s Journey” doesn’t end with the sale; in fact, the sale is just the beginning of a what is hoped will be a long relationship. And who’s driving that relationship? Well, not the golfers. Marketing is increasingly becoming accountable for the entire customer relationship — from that very first impression through to the sale, and then how customers experience our products and services. And through a variety of technologies, we are able to track those customers and see what they respond to (and more importantly, what they don’t). Every Step Of The Buyer’s Journey Marketing works hand-in-hand with sales to attract and produce happy customers. We are there through every step of an increasingly complex buyer’s journey. And, yet, for most marketers, the MQL maintains its strength as our leading KPI. Yes, we are now seen as strategic. We have a seat at the table and are driving product direction in many organizations. Yet, everyone around the table is looking at monetary results. Sales? The revenue money. Operations? The expense money. The CEO? The bottom-line money. And marketing? The MQL number. The MQL — which is a top-of-the-funnel metric — keeps marketing positioned at the top of the funnel, even though we are continuing to drive customers through their journey with our brand, as prospects and then as customers. Many marketers are actually comfortable with this — “We deliver the leads; it’s up to sales to deliver the dollars.” Wrong! Without marketing and sales working together, there are no customers, there is no revenue, there is no brand, and ultimately, there is no company. Marketing needs to be measured by the same metric every other facet of the business is being measured by: the almighty dollar. Not just the pipeline — I mean sales, upsells and renewals. The only way to ensure that marketing and sales are working together is to give them the same goals — have them face the challenges together, overcome the hurdles and objections together, and jointly rejoice in their combined success. What better way to guarantee alignment? But, alas, as I prepare slides for our next board meeting, on my first slide, the first metric captured and communicated is the MQL. I also report on a bunch of other stuff, as you would expect, even pipeline generated and sales velocity, but there it is — that “top of the funnel” metric that, for some exasperating reason, my board still equates with marketing’s worth, marketing’s contribution to the business. I hit delete and it vanishes. Will anyone notice? I’ll let you know


Many retailers are still not taking advantage of the power of mobile to increase in-store sales; columnist Allan Haims explains why and how they should.

While consumers are unquestionably connected to their smartphones, only a fraction of them is shopping via their mobile devices, which represents a huge missed opportunity for corporate retailers.
With more than 17.6 billion in-store shopping visits in November and December of 2013, retailers and malls alike have a vast opportunity to influence and target a captive audience’s purchasing choices every day, and even more so during the holiday shopping months when they are gift shopping.
To be clear, there are two separate but inextricably linked topics being discussed here: the use of mobile engagement strategies to get consumers into brick-and-mortar stores and mobile sales/transactions in general.
According to a recent study by Forrester Research for RetailMeNot, 84 percent of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in stores, but a lot fewer complete their purchase on a mobile device.
The mobile market offers numerous forms of engagement that retailers have yet to tap fully, and it can facilitate the acquisition of new customers who might shop either in-store or online. Our goal is to engage the consumer via their mobile device to influence their offline sales. The smartphone is a digital “handout” that is always on.
The big question is how to reach the target consumers on their mobile devices at the appropriate time, with relevant information.
To get people to receive the mobile sales strategies that marketing departments work so very hard on, one must first understand how people are currently behaving on their mobile devices.
  • Not Fond Of Sharing. Many people do not want to share their location data online, and that is information retailers are very interested in, especially when targeting customers who are already in the vicinity.
  • Push Is Pushy. Likewise, consumers do not like to enable push notifications, and more and more consumers are utilizing ad blockers to eliminate the noise and annoyance. When they are using their phone for emails, Facebook, Twitter, navigation and so on, the last thing they want is to be pinged with “spam.”
  • The Fewer Apps The Better. Most people are becoming more selective in the number and type of apps they are adding to their phones. App “real estate” is limited; shoppers will download their favorite retailer apps, but this may only translate into two or three brands despite a consumer’s pattern of shopping at many different stores.
Given these impediments, how, can we reach the right audience with effective mobile strategies?

Increase The Number Of Available Wi-Fi Networks In Stores And Malls

Consumers often find themselves inside a shopping mall with poor cellular coverage, which can prove incredibly frustrating.
Readily available free mall Wi-Fi without cumbersome registration pages enables patrons to easily access the internet and to search for pertinent promotions. And shoppers who can sign on to local Wi-Fi tend to stay in stores longer, giving retailers more time to engage their target audience.
Readily available Wi-Fi also eliminates the need for the customer to download additional apps using their data plan, preventing possible disengagement. Moreover, with the internet now at their fingertips, shoppers can now pull as much information as they need from the Web to make an informed purchase decision.
There is an added benefit to making Wi-Fi easily available. An examination of Wi-Fi usage information can reveal key patterns regarding peak buying periods, such as during the holidays, at certain stores or given certain types of promotions.
Malls and retailers can then optimize their on-site customer engagement strategies based on actual empirical data. Predictive behavior models can be designed to deliver the most relevant information by time of day, day of the week and shopper profile.

Couple The Pull And Push Promotions

As is often the case, a customer may complete a browser-based search while in the mall for an item, such as running shoes. A pull promotion may get that shopper into a specific store.
However, if they get a beacon ping or push promotion for water bottles while they are trying on the shoes, location relevancy may just get them to buy a water bottle as well.
Rather than blasting customers upon entering the mall about merchandise that may be completely irrelevant to them, this hybrid “pull and push” mobile strategy is aimed more specifically at the target consumer’s preferences and is more likely to be effective.
And as we all know, consumers who are shopping in crowded malls around the holidays are always looking for quicker ways to get in and out of the stores — not to mention seeking great deals.
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