B2B Awards 2016: Winners with real-time marketing

We like to sing when we’re winning and at The B2B Marketing Awards 2016 we were in full song with Standard Life as we scooped Category 7: Best Use of Social Media for Adviser Voice – The Budget 2016.

This is especially satisfying as the campaign required Standard Life to try a new technique, in a short time frame, and trust in the combined team to deliver.

Susie Logan, Head of Marketing Standard Life sums this up brilliantly:

“The Budget 2016 campaign had a fantastic outcome for Standard Life – both in terms of creating differentiation in the market by delivering great experiences, engagement and sustainable relationships, and using a completely new approach of real-time marketing and user-generated content.

By listening to our customers, being innovative, organised and capable of applying a focused and purposeful real-time model, we dominated during a key event over the competition with a share of voice of 85%.

We assembled the key ingredients of customer understanding, data, technology and people, and then used our creativity to join these together in a way that delivered better experiences for our customers. Thanks to The Crocodile we won a ‘Superbowl’ moment with a relatively discreet budget.”

Read the full case study for a best example of b2b social media marketing.

Taking it personally

We all know that personalisation represents the future of digital, however most of us are still struggling to take a firm grip of one-to-one. We’re getting lost in a deluge of tactics, channels and platforms, which makes it hard to maintain a top level perspective.

If we can only fly above the turbulent air of marketing noise we emerge into a calm consensus about where we should be directing our efforts towards personalisation going forwards:

• Providing an integrated experience for customers
• Finding opportunities to engage with them in real time
• Treating customers as real people – seeing the person not the persona
• Building sustainable relationships to create long-term loyalty
• Personally I also still crave BIG IDEAS but maybe that’s just showing my age?

The idea of real-time and personal can transform brands into authentic and trustworthy guides along the customer journey.

Being in the moment

In the real world, every conversation is personal – and they’re mostly in “real time”. The magic of real-time and personal marketing is the ability to be genuinely conversational. Transforming momentary insights into content that’s useful and relevant because it’s tailored both to an individual and a particular circumstance.

(And just in case you were wondering, sticking someone’s first name in a mass email isn’t personalised marketing. Sorry).

Ultimately it’s about the ability to tailor imagery, products, offers and response mechanisms to the particular needs of the individual and the moment. As marketers it requires us to be at the top of our game: experts in what we do and able to pull a number of skill sets together. It requires creative imagination and craft – strategy, data and technology will only take you so far.

I’m geeky and I know it

In the past, simply getting the data was a big deal. Now many of us have to deal with too much of the blinkin stuff – we’re literally drowning. (The idea of data lakes makes me laugh. Man overboard!).

Luckily we have access to amazing technologies that enable us to tame the flood and use it to power our real-time and personal ambitions. Data management solutions can provide real-time data for immediate campaign optimisation and triggers. Marketers can tie anonymous audience data with known customer data across channels and devices to achieve complete and connected customer profiles. Don’t even get me started on predictive analytics.

It’s really, really cool stuff. There’s no avoiding tech and data going forwards, not new news I know, but you need to recognise where you sit on the technology curve before you can fully understand your ability to win in real time. I’m just saying.

Dream BIG

Intrepid marketers are increasingly investing time and energy to unlock the potential of real-time and personal to deliver growth.

It relies on the premise that to provide great experiences, we must know the individual and provide marketing, products and services that fit them and their needs in the moment and at scale. For many marketing departments it is an ongoing transformation journey using technology, data and creativity to ultimately make their marketing more, well, human.

Take steps to realise this opportunity and trust me – your working day, your planning cycles, your momentum will capture the imagination of the rest of the business.


Embrace your instincts. Don’t fear failure. We’re in marketing for crying out loud – enjoy it!

The uncomfortable truth about marketing automation

Let’s get one thing straight – Marketing automation is awesome technology. As a tool to support the development and progression of leads; as an enabler between marketing and sales functions; and as a rallying point for results-focused marketing activity, marketing automation is where it’s at – and no buts.

But…. Let’s not forget that much of the marketing automation buzz in the market is generated by the platform vendors themselves. Clever, innovative, persuasive software specialists they most certainly are; marketing people with the job of making it work under the pressure of today’s KPIs? Er, no.

So while the vendors are pouring honey in our ears and whispering sweet nothings about SQLs and nurture flows, pause for a second to consider ten all-important truths.

Mildly uncomfortable they may be, but together they should offer busy marketers a more pragmatic perspective on the reality of marketing automation and how to make a success of this powerful platform.

1. Your platform is not a strategy

It’s software. Pure and simple. Marketing automation can help define your approach to marketing and provide an activity framework of sorts, but it’s no substitute for having a robust plan.

2. Marketing automation does not generate leads

Campaigns generate leads. Marketing automation brings methodology and science to a process that still requires full strategic, creative and planning legwork. There are no shortcuts to effective lead gen!

3. It doesn’t connect your marketing and sales departments

It takes actual people, committed to an effective sales and marketing partnership, to sit down and plan a new, results-driven vision. Marketing automation is a great enabler, just don’t forget the humans!

4. Global is a big ask

The global marketing automation option can work, but don’t underestimate the role of data, process, training and hands-on regional implementation. It will take time, patience and (ideally) local support from agencies that know their stuff.

5. Reporting comes first, not last

Begin your new marketing automation-enabled strategy by defining exactly what you want to be able to report, and work backwards to build your lead nurture programme. Don’t just jump into marketing automation and assume ‘good things’ will come out the other end.

6. If it‘s non digital, it’s a non starter

Marketing automation isn’t magic. The only way to incorporate touches from direct mail, events or telemarketing is through a digital link or by human input.

7. Bad content can kill you

Too many marketing automation projects crawl along on a diet of mediocre, all-about-me content. It’s vital to invest the time, budget and expertise needed to deliver a winning content portfolio.

8. Marketing automation best practice: Approach with caution

We need to be very careful about swallowing the line that marketing automation is a straightforward DIY job if you just follow the manual. You will almost certainly require expert support with selection, implementation and activation.

9. It’s automated, not automatic

The brilliance of the software is the ability it gives you to experiment, adapt, test, push what works and learn what doesn’t. Don’t be reticent, and don’t be frightened of diving in and exploring.

10. Marketing automation might not even been the answer…

There are plenty of automated email broadcasting tools (often cheekily defining themselves as marketing automation) that offer simple lead scoring plus a few other bolt-on goodies. You may not need to go the whole marketing automation shebang to get the solution that’s right for your business.

We know the pressure of working with stretched budgets, limited resources and pressure from the C-suite to deliver. We also know your marketing automation platform and lead nurture strategy can be up and running cost-effectively (and hitting your KPIs) if you take a marketing-led, holistic approach.

Find the right agency to support you (preferably one with an end-to-end marketing automation capability), and together you can make measurably magnificent marketing. Now that’s the truth.

Full guide (PDF)