4 Ways to Improve Account-Based Marketing with Sales & Marketing Alignment

| October 11, 2017

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Success with account-based marketing takes more than just a refreshed focus on accounts; it requires tight alignment between sales and marketing teams to be sure the right message consistently hits the right targets.Use these four tips to ensure your teams are working together in the areas that matter most in order to build a successful ABM program.

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Stage 4 Solutions

Stage 4 Solutions, Inc. is a marketing consulting and interim staffing firm. We specialize in serving Fortune 500 and emerging high-technology leaders by providing seasoned marketing professionals for both short term and long term needs across marketing teams – product marketing, product management, marketing communications, sales enablement, demand generation, channel & partner marketing, and strategy. We utilize our network of over 6500 experienced marketing consultants and contractors to fast track critical initiatives and fill resource gaps across marketing teams.

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Everything you need to know about account-based marketing

Article | March 3, 2020

What exactly is account-based marketing or ABM? In a nutshell, ABM is targeted marketing that uses personalized campaigns and messaging to effectively reach a small, specific audience. “The analogy I like to use is that you're fishing with a spear when you're using ABM, and you're fishing with a net in traditional marketing,” explains Steve Lendt, Motum B2B’s Director of Engagement and Analytics. After researching and identifying which accounts you wish to target, you can begin developing personalized campaigns and content to address their specific needs and goals.

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4 Account-Based Marketing Technologies That Will Matter in 2021

Article | May 28, 2021

The disruption from 2020 has forced many companies across different industries and verticals to improve their digital potential, including technology adoption. Among the industries, account-based marketing practitioners had to adapt to change in 2020 – and fast because it created a host of challenges in B2B. Industries and businesses had to find the right technologies that allow growth, as companies now have to operate in the only digital world. But, even in the time of uncertainty, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has gained traction. This is good news for enterprise tech vendors. Gartner estimates that expenditure on technology will rebound in 2021, with the enterprise software market predicted to surge by 7.2%. This seems to be a year of growth, improvement, and success for those organizations deploying account-based marketing as part of their B2B strategy. In addition, one of the global data leaders, Acxiom, has experienced rapid sales growth from its technologically blended ABM program. Before considering a fully technology-based ABM strategy for 2021, it is crucial to understand how technologies fuel ABM growth. Technologies are Fueling ABM Growth Well, it's easy to understand and see how and why the technology-fuelled revival of ABM is taking hold. Let's see where B2B marketers are gaining profits. They are : Driving improved deals, higher close rates, and earning more revenue Winning strategic accounts in their industries Getting higher ROI Reaping benefits from additional marketing strategies The 2019 State of ABM study by SiriusDecisions validates this trend in ABM results in: 91% of the B2B companies realizing larger deals by adopting technology in ABM. 92% seeing a higher percentage of qualified opportunities in ABM accounts than in non-ABM accounts. More B2B marketers are moving towards tech-enabled ABM programs, where it was 62% in 2020 compared to 40% in 2018. ABM in the overall marketing budget of companies surging rapidly. With the rise in internet usage, which accelerated digital marketing, it was challenging to understand individual behavior. Now, marketers are empowered with account-centric targeting, measurement, and personalization across all their digital channels. Because marketers dedicate more budget to their ABM programs by upgrading technology stacks. It plays a significant role in making ABM scalable. So, explore the critical technology trends propelling ABM today and shaping its future for marketing purposes in this blog. How much does your tech stack matter? The most influential tech marketing programs invest more in data, insight, and analytics. And that's because you have no hope of successfully engaging with your target accounts. Despite the rapid acceleration of digital transformation in 2020, few organizations already have a mature tech stack. 25-39% of them used it for content syndication, sales automation, evaluation as third-party data, and reporting software. By this, you must have understood that investing in technologies or technology that is attributing results supporting your ABM efforts is essential. But this doesn't mean the more tech you have, the more successful you will be. It's more a case of having the proper fundamentals (tech-wise) in place that deliver value. Likewise, other tech fundamentals like intent data fully functioning (and ABM-ready) CRM are perhaps the most important tech pieces to have in place. They are listed under the top planned investments for 2021. Here are five tech trends for ABM that will make a tangible difference in your business. Automation Reduces Risks To execute account-based marketing, marketers need to introduce automation to engage accounts through a handful of channels. Marketers can engage all the named accounts of the sales team and their long tail of target accounts through automation. This allows the marketing team to create demand in the accounts they're pursuing and alleviate the risk of putting all sales requirements in one place. This is possible by continuous demand generation through different channels, probably the less expensive ones (and alerting accounts from time to time to decrease the risk of missing out). This way, your business will witness a more consistent and coordinated engagement of accounts between sales and marketing. So, ABM automation is a crucial aspect in reducing risks. AI Introduces Personalized Customer Understanding Businesses are witnessing the transformational impact of AI throughout the process, particularly in marketing. While marketers can easily get started with ABM by targeting a list of accounts, AI puts more power enabling them to confidently and precisely identify the accounts to pursue. With AI, marketers can get their ideal customer profile (ICP) at a granular level. Tech-savvy marketers are using AI to analyze their historical sales and implement new strategies to achieve more in the coming years. In other words, AI helps marketers to leverage more information significantly from both internal and external sources to draw more precise models for their ideal customers. AI is also enhancing engagement. According to The State of Engagement, 72% of marketers are expected to prioritize personalized messages and content to engage with customers. Nearly 40% of marketers plan to leverage AI and machine learning to enhance content used throughout the customer journey. So, through AI, marketers can personalize communications in a one-to-one way. This way, they can predict the content that most likely to convert readers across multiple channels. As marketers continue to realize the potential of AI, you will see more rules-based ABM activities that AI enhances. This way, your marketers can efficiently target the proper accounts, engage accounts across channels to get insights to optimize programs. Advanced Analytics Provide Attribution Is your ABM strategy working? One way to find out this is by measuring its impact on the business through advanced analytics. With automated attribution reporting, marketers can find more opportunities, a longer pipeline of accounts, and higher revenue generation in the ABM context. But why? Here are three reasons: Marketers need to show that their partnership with sales to the target audience is working efficiently. Advanced analytics will allow you to compare the efforts and results of one account vs. another to optimize the ABM program. Most marketers plan multiple or blended marketing strategies. So, marketers running an ABM or practicing a blend of it, such as inbound marketing, need to know which investments are working. Advanced analytics can help them to allocate a budget for strategies being used for their business. Therefore, it is expected to witness more touchpoints and data brought into advanced analytics becoming increasingly easier for marketers to consume in the future. Chatbots' Demand in ABM As per Salesforce, 69% of U.S. consumers prefer using chatbots when engaging with brands as it yields a prompt response. A chatbot on your website can answer customers' basic questions every time. AI-powered chatbots can be used for customer support, expanding contact strategy dramatically with a controlled message. These chatbots have become so lifelike that many customers don't even know the difference. And chatbots offer the added benefit of gathering, analyzing, and providing actionable data to improve the customer experience. How Can Marketers Harness This Potential? As per SiriusDecisions' survey, more marketers are doubling their budgets and moving their ABM journey effortlessly. So, irrespective of where you are on your journey, you also need to make sure you always move ahead. When it's time to include technology, be sure to select an ABM platform that supports your marketing journey now and in the future, as well. This means it should support multiple channels and marketing strategies, giving the flexibility to adapt and discover what works best for your organization. Conclusively, look for a platform that can serve as the hub of your ABM technology stack. The ablest place to start is from a platform that will give you the ABM essentials and connect a wide range of technologies to encourage you to grow over time. This way, you can shape your future in account-based marketing in the best possible ways. Frequently Asked Questions How does ABM work? Identifying which accounts (companies) you can target is the first step after creating a buyer persona. The next step is to market them using campaigns to attract potential clients. And then, measure the activities of your account-based marketing campaigns. Metrics, such as clicks, impressions, and page views, are easily measured. Why is account-based marketing important? ABM helps to assemble marketing efforts through multi-channels and analyses key accounts' status to drive more revenue. It also maximizes the efficiency of your B2B marketing resources and aligns sales accordingly. How is AI used in ABM? AI solutions in ABM can help the marketing team to make firm data-based decisions faster than before. The usage of chatbots helps to answer many common questions about marketing efforts and benefits. Also, AI tools can be used to track intent data as well. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How does ABM work?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Identifying which accounts (companies) you can target is the first step after creating a buyer persona. The next step is to market them using campaigns to attract potential clients. And then, measure the activities of your account-based marketing campaigns. Metrics, such as clicks, impressions, and page views, are easily measured." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Why is account-based marketing important?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "ABM helps to assemble marketing efforts through multi-channels and analyses key accounts' status to drive more revenue. It also maximizes the efficiency of your B2B marketing resources and aligns sales accordingly." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How is AI used in ABM?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "AI solutions in ABM can help the marketing team to make firm data-based decisions faster than before. The usage of chatbots helps to answer many common questions about marketing efforts and benefits. Also, AI tools can be used to track intent data as well." } }] }

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ABM IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE ALIGNMENT OF SALES AND MARKETING TEAMS

Article | February 10, 2020

Account-Based Marketing has been one of the most preferred B2B strategies for marketers. More than 90% of marketers believe that ABM is essential for the alignment of sales and marketing teams. ABM is all about fostering a better relationship with your target accounts. And especially in this digital transformation era, it’s evident that people aren’t buying products but experiences. As per a recent PwC survey, “73% of consumers cite customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions”. This shift in consumer behavior is what B2B companies/marketers should take note of. Also, ITSMA reports that of the companies that adopted ABM in the past two years, 55% are seeing a significantly higher ROI than with traditional marketing.

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Data-Driven Marketing: 7 examples of using data as a force for the good

Article | September 10, 2020

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter. You can’t work in the marketing industry these days without constant talk of data. Data-driven marketing. Big data. Marketing analytics. Facebook is worth more than $650 billion, and it’s not because cat pics and grilled cheese sandwich selfies are so valuable. It’s because Facebook is just a big ol’ bag of user data. But I must admit and you might find yourself in the same boat using data doesn’t come naturally to me. I work in marketing because I’m a creative, not a statistician. If you feel the same way, here is an analogy that changed my mind. I was interviewing Wharton’s Peter Fader and Sarah Toms. We were discussing how Electronic Arts used data to improve the product. “When they realized the power of the data that Pete was just talking about, they had a bit of a crisis about identity. They're like, ‘but we're a creative company. How can we now be all data, all the time?’” Toms said. Zach Anderson, the chief analytics officer at Electronic Arts, won over those creative hearts and minds with this analogy: Cooking competitions shows where the chefs are doing incredibly creative things with ingredients that are given to them. So data is really just another ingredient you have at your disposal as you make your creative take on a classic matzoh ball soup or marketing campaign. “Data is actually a good thing that they should be embracing because it allows them to be even more creative,” Toms said. So with that approach in mind, let’s look at a few examples of using data as a force for the good while improving marketing results. Example #1: Focused view of data helps nonprofit that sells through ecommerce identify the best opportunity for revenue increase Data can quickly become overwhelming. So many numbers. How do you find the opportunity? TenbyThree© is a nonprofit that actually sells products. The charity sells baskets created by artisans in rural communities of developing countries to help the artisans pull themselves out of extreme poverty. And it had a whole lot going on with its team pulled in many directions. Where to focus? That focus because particularly important with the rise of COVID-19. TenbyThree mostly sold these baskets in brick-and-mortar locations like Whole Foods Market, Disney theme parks and specialty retailers. But with the pandemic came a massive drop in foot traffic and thus sales, so the nonprofit has tried to increase ecommerce sales through its website. The MECLABS Institute team (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) worked with TenbyThree to determine where to focus its conversion optimization discoveries. This data analysis uncovered an opportunity hidden in plain sight product tags. Each basket sold in stores had a tag with information on how to connect with the individual artisan who created the basket by going to TenbyThree’s website. Very few customers were using this feature. If the tags could be optimized to get more people to use the website’s artisan lookup feature, that increase in traffic would also likely help produce an increase in sales through the website. In The Marketer as Philosopher Episode 2, The Data Pattern Analysis: 3 ways to turn info into insight you can see the methodical approach used to uncover this data insight to help you identify more opportunities in your own data. The episode also teaches viewers how to use a Data Pattern Analysis Tool (you can download the tool for free here). To get more data help, you can participate in a Live Coaching Session with Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, on Thursday, August 20th 2020, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. In this Q&A session, participants will learn how to set up and use the Data Pattern Analysis Tool, simplify their data with three key dials, and apply the principles of The Marketer as Philosopher: Episode 2 to their own company. Example #2: Targeted database helps tent maker pivot It would be an understatement to say that COVID-19 has forced businesses to make significant changes. We’re all living it, we all know the impact. But some changes are more difficult than others. When that change is to focus on a new ideal customer, it can be difficult to pivot quickly. Many companies have built their customer base and customer contacts over many years. This is where external data can be helpful. For example, TentCraft sells tents to event producers for concerts. But the events industry halted worldwide in March. While the team always knew they were too narrowly focused on just one industry and should diversify the business, they never got around to acting on it. But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Suddenly they needed to pivot their entire go-to-market approach and find a new target customer quickly. The team came up with the idea to turn concert tents into drive-thru COVID-19 testing facilities, but they never sold to hospitals and didn’t know any hospital administrators. The team looked for a way to quickly enter a new market without increasing overhead. They worked with ZoomInfo to get data and insights for hospitals and other healthcare systems. They used the company and contact search to quickly execute a layered approach. The marketing team would start with a broader approach to outreach building an outreach list of 2,000 to 3,000 contacts. Based on open rates, responses and conversations, they learned not only about the specific roles they should be targeting but also what their pain points were. The sales team would use this information to create a more targeted outreach list of 100 to 200 contacts and then tailor messaging and visuals to demonstrate how TentCraft could address the specific pain points. The click-to-open rate for the broader emails ranged from 15% to 28% while the more targeted lists typically ranged from 35% to 45% with a handful nearing 60%. Keep in mind, when you see those numbers, that this was all cold outreach. Because they had phone numbers, job titles and location data, the marketing team was able to supply this information to the sales team in real-time when emails were being opened and links being clicked. This helped the teams prioritize, move to conversation quicker and shorten the sales cycle. Over $600,000 in revenue disappeared in March alone, but during the first two months of this pivot the company booked more than $2 million in revenue, and April was the biggest revenue month in company history (during a pandemic with the core revenue shut off). They are now 12% ahead of last year’s pace. In the first month of the pivot, they went into contract with more than 100 healthcare facilities which, remember, is an industry the tent maker had no prior experience with. This pivot was reactive. And while it has worked out thus far, the mindset in the company has now changed. “A big takeaway for our team is that we need to always be pivoting to new markets, new products, features and partners. That means pairing speed and agility with execution,” said Matt Bulloch, President, TentCraft. Example #3: Test data shows the benefits of value sequencing for HR software There may be many elements of appeal in your company’s value proposition. But your customer may not be ready to receive them all at once. That’s why effective value sequencing is so important. Where in the customer journey should the customer be introduced to different elements of your company’s value? Data can help show you the way. David Richter wanted to use marketing data to discover how to position his company’s brand and the messaging used at each stage of the marketing funnel. Richter works for CIPHR, a software platform that serves HR departments. “It’s a crowded market, and in any one year we find ourselves competing with upwards of fifty different vendors. In terms of functionality, it’s incredibly rare that any one provider has a distinctive edge over the entirety of the market. If functionality does get developed that is a game changer, then it’s quickly replicated by other similar providers,” said Richter, Director of Marketing, CIPHR. The one thing that sets CIPHR apart, according to Richter, is its attitude to integrating its people management platform with specialist, third-party tools. Since larger competitors have strategically acquired complementary businesses, they are less incented to integrate with third-party tools they don’t own, Richter says. However, Richter had concerns about leading with this “connectivity” in marketing communications. “Connectivity is the USP (unique selling proposition) that CIPHR has hung our hat on in our marketplace and the position we want to build a strong brand around,” he said. “The trouble is that, at the initial point of engagement, most HR professionals, when looking for an HR system, aren’t thinking about what it can integrate with.” Including terms like “API” or “integration” in subject lines cut the HR SaaS platform’s email open rate in half. Approximately two-thirds of all sales leads are generated through CIPHR’s website, so getting the messaging optimized for conversion is essential. To prove to the senior leadership that CIPHR should tailor the focus of its messaging through each stage of the sales cycle, Richter’s team decided to try different messaging on various landing pages on the website. The landing pages were only used for PPC traffic from the same, exact match keywords with the same ads displayed to generate the click. Landing page headline #1 — Generic HR Software with benefits message, e.g., “HR Software that reduces admin and helps you to work more efficiently,” converts traffic to inquiry at 14.1%. Landing page headline #2 — HR Software with connectivity message, e.g., “HR Software with brilliant connectivity,” converts traffic to inquiry at 10.2%. Landing page headline #3 — Connectivity message with no mention of HR Software, e.g., “Connect your people data throughout your organization,” converts traffic to inquiry at 6.4%. Armed with this data, CIPHR’s leadership is now happy to lead with relevant, product and benefit-led messaging on the website (pre-engagement) that positions connectivity as the differentiator. “We now also have a strong lead nurturing campaign to educate leads about the benefits of connectivity,” Richter said. Example #4: Online meditation school’s A/B testing on blog doubles student enrollment rate If you engage in A/B testing, you can learn from real customer behavior to serve your customers better while improving results. Here’s an example. “In building our platform, we have seen immense success from using a data-driven approach for most of our marketing decisions,” said Kyle Greenfield, Founder, TheJoyWithin.org. “One example is how we used Google Optimize testing combined with heatmap and flow data from Hotjar to improve our blog layout.” The online school for meditation, happiness, and personal empowerment discovered that less than 1% of blog readers were signing up for a free meditation course. The bounce rate was between 79-81% even though most readers were spending three to five minutes on the site. The team tested two elements of the blog's layout the sidebar and one inline internal ad placement. The team tested a new approach to be more direct about different options new students have on the platform. They moved away from a banner ad with the headline “Discover a Clear, Modern Path to Bliss” coupled with a list of potential benefits. The new approach was a direct question to the user, asking “How Can We Help?” coupled with a one-sentence explanation of what was offered, and three possible paths: “learn how to meditate,” “increase my happiness,” and “manifest my dream life.” They tested different variations of this idea, and ultimately found that making the message clearer and more direct, with fewer graphics and design elements, resulted in better conversion. This change was combined with testing of the placement of the inline ad. It began as a top-line insert before the post. But the team discovered that users were more engaged when the ad was placed a few paragraphs into the blog post. The previous data informed this decision, since the team knew users were already reading the content and scrolling down the page. With this change, the team was able to more than double student enrollment rates and reduce bounce rate by 12.5%, to 70%. Example #5: Incubator generates 300 leads to help the fight against hunger For marketers looking to do good in the world, sometimes they overlook a data basic your website should have a landing page with the ability to capture data from those interested in helping the cause. For example, Not Impossible Labs (NIL) describes itself as a one-of-a-kind technology incubator and content studio dedicated to changing the world and making the impossible possible for individuals faced with a range of problems (what it calls “absurdities”). Most recently, NIL tackled the absurdity of hunger, made all the more pressing by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, NIL began working with Salesforce and Postmates on a prototype platform to feed insecure people at scale. The incubator created a text-based service that connects people in need of food with pre-paid, nutritious, to-go meals from nearby restaurants. A child or family in need of food can text “hungry” and the solution connects them with nearby restaurants with extra food that would likely go to waste. In March of 2020 when the pandemic hit the United States, NIL was in the midst of deploying programs across the country to serve some of the 42 million people, of which 15.9 million are children, who go hungry each year. How did they make it possible or should I say, not impossible to fight hunger? A marketing landing page. Verndale and Sitecore offered pro bono help to create a landing page on the site to capture information from visitors in a form connected to a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to store the data. “We kept everything simple, from messaging and experience design, to providing several frictionless pathways to get involved. More conversion points created more opportunities to engage,” said Ross Lucivero, Manager Director of Verndale's Los Angeles office. NIL was able to gather data on approximately 300 leads who were ready to give, partner, spread the word, nominate a new city or get involved in their local community. “The newfound capability to capture individual leads as well as scale our ability to re-engage audiences is a game-changer,” said Joseph Babarsky, Director of Strategy & Partnerships, Not Impossible Labs. That re-engagement relies on the ability to have the data about who has visited the landing page previously and then present another marketing message to them a call-to-action on the Not Impossible homepage for those who have visited the Hunger campaign page but had not converted through a form submission or donation. “This customized prompt re-engages informed visitors and drives them back to the campaign environment to take action,” said Liz Spranzani, EVP of Technology, Verndale. “If you have an open mind the seemingly impossible can become possible. You can see this proven time and again through the work Not Impossible Labs has done to help individuals with a range of disabilities and, of course, with their hunger project,” said Paige O’Neill, CMO, Sitecore. Example #6: The inner workings of a customer review site Most discussions I’ve seen about data use in marketing focuses on categorizing how the data is collected. First-party data is collected by the company itself, and third-party data is sold to you by a company that aggregates data from many other companies. In addition to how data is collected, you should also consider how customers experience data. I would categorize that data in two ways data you control and data you don’t. The data you control might be in your advertising or your website, like “Nine out of ten dentists recommend Brusha Brusha toothbrushes.” The data you don’t control can be shared in the press or social media, and especially on review sites. One example is a site called Best Company. “The entire mission of Best Company is to harness data to improve the decision-making process for consumers across several industries. As a company, we believe we are changing the world for good by empowering consumers to make the best possible decisions with their money. We are a truly independent and impartial review site, promising accurate rankings and honest reviews and refusing to reward unmerited ranks for money,” said Rebecca Graham, Content Manager, Best Company. What this means for your company is that customers’ product and service experience is also part of your marketing. The more you can control and optimize the experience, the more you can optimize this type of data for your brand. “When reviews are available for all to see, companies practicing business with high value and integrity will naturally emerge as reputable leaders, whereas less trustworthy companies drop lower in rank,” Graham said. You can also learn from these websites as well. They provide valuable customer intelligence about how your brand is being perceived by real customers as well as opportunities for social proof and third-party credibility you can leverage in your marketing. “For example, on business lender Lendio's reviews page, prospective clients can see breakdowns of the star ratings on 400+ verified customer reviews, including the ratings of sentiment criteria like value for your money and customer service. Lendio, which currently has an average of 4.7/5 stars from customer reviews, can leverage the data referenced above by sharing on social media and through content marketing and email marketing copy,” Graham said. So pull out your company’s value proposition, take a look at how you express it in your marketing, and then see where customers agree and disagree. Where can you learn from customers to express elements of value in your marketing that customers are experiencing but you’re not communicating well? For example, Cotton Mask Co. discovered that its face masks were especially helpful to hearing aid wearers by monitoring customer reviews, and pivoted its marketing accordingly. But also, take a good hard look at the reviews and determine where your brand falls short. Is it because customers assume your company has a certain element of value that isn’t part of your stated value proposition? If so, change your marketing to clarify. Or is it just that your company is not living up to its value proposition? In that case, you have the data to show why the marketing department should get involved in the customers’ product and service experience to improve it. Since consumer reviews platforms provide data to customers when they are considering a purchase decision, it is important for brands to understand how they operate. So I asked Graham for a bit of an inside look at Best Company. There’s some she couldn’t share (like how their algorithm works), but I hope the below mini-interview helps you get a better understanding of how this data about your company ends up online and a little more about the companies that put it there. MarketingSherpa: How do you make money? What is your business model? Rebecca Graham: Our two revenue streams come from: 1) Lead generation for affiliate partnerships 2) Business Suite subscriptions. Like many sites, we may be compensated through affiliate relationships with the companies on BestCompany.com. But we do not have any relationships with companies that guarantee or impact their ranking or score and we never will. A basic profile is free for any qualifying company in the United States. The purchase of our B2B Business Suite reputation management product can't bump up your brand's rank, but it can provide traffic-based insights regarding your profile page as well as enhance it for improved visual aspects and thoroughness, such as featuring product images and videos, adding an FAQ section and highlighting how you stand out from your competitors. MS: How do you get reviewers? How do you verify them? RG: Best Company receives thousands of review submissions each week. Every review that is submitted goes through a very thorough moderation process to ensure its accuracy prior to it being published on BestCompany.com. Reviews are generated in four ways: 1) Organic and direct traffic, i.e., from users visiting our site 2) BestReviews, our review generation process in which we collect reviews from customers on behalf of the company. We offer fully managed email and phone review solicitations for companies with customer contact lists as well as a custom form for companies to utilize for outreach themselves. 3) Reviews from charity and fundraising groups 4) Reviews solicited from our members ALL reviews, whether organic or company-solicited, are subject to our review moderation process, which include email address verification and analysis via our fraud threshold algorithm (the details of which we do not divulge in order to prevent companies from trying to “game” the system). Furthermore, Best Company reserves the right to reject or remove reviews that violate our standards, which includes content that does not relate to the company or company's service being reviewed, appears to be incentivized, or contains false information. We also encourage consumers to resubmit reviews with their most up-to-date experience with a company. MS: How do you ensure your data isn’t manipulated by companies to make themselves look better? RG: Here are a few of the protocols we have in place to ensure accurate claims regarding the data on our site: Companies are not given a numbered rank until they have at least 10 reviews on their profile. Badge accreditations are only made available to companies meriting them (such as #1 ranked company or a position in the Top 10) A company cannot hide or delete negative reviews from their BestCompany.com profile Best Company believes the moderated reviews published on its site to be valid unless proven otherwise by the company with factual evidence of false information, moderation errors, or duplicate reviews. More information regarding disputes can be found here. Example #7: Independent financial adviser cites his sources to build credibility This next example is a bit of a different take on using data in marketing, but I thought it was worth bringing to you because I’ve noticed the marketing industry has a rampant problem with crediting sources. There are so many bold-faced marketing claims that shout and brag. But why should anyone believe those claims? Alec Tuckman shared with me the story of a seminar he was conducting about stock market performance. He was frequently challenged by an attendee. “Not wanting to make him look bad in front of his spouse, I did not get confrontational or upset, I simply pulled out a thick notebook full of Wall Street Journal clippings I have compiled over the last five years,” said Tuckman, owner/operator, Wealth Management Partners of Los Angeles. Every one of those articles was supportive material for the statements Tuckman made about the market. While he didn’t get the business from that particular attendee, Tuckman felt that it gave him instant credibility. “Data is the best marketing tool,” he said. “Being able to cite a credible, well-known source gives you credibility.” But don’t just cite any data, or you may end up hurting your brand’s credibility. “Make sure the data is from a reliable source. I wouldn’t recommend quoting something you read from a friend on Facebook IM when you’re trying to prove you are an expert on a particular subject like the stock market. Make sure you are sourcing material from credible sources like Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Bloomberg,” Tuckman advised.

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Stage 4 Solutions

Stage 4 Solutions, Inc. is a marketing consulting and interim staffing firm. We specialize in serving Fortune 500 and emerging high-technology leaders by providing seasoned marketing professionals for both short term and long term needs across marketing teams – product marketing, product management, marketing communications, sales enablement, demand generation, channel & partner marketing, and strategy. We utilize our network of over 6500 experienced marketing consultants and contractors to fast track critical initiatives and fill resource gaps across marketing teams.

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