Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Better Inbound Marketing Analytics - My Presentation at INBOUND 2013

It was pretty remarkable
I had a lot of fun presenting at inbound 2013. I think it went over well and the crowd enjoyed it. My hope is that my talk could resonate with people who currently don't spend enough time doing analysis.  I suspect that the audience was already biased to probably like it because folks who care about Analytics already are more likely to attend the session.

We all win, when we start looking at the data and thinking creatively about it instead of just "reporting" how great our department is, etc...

BTW, if you don't know any RegEx, please read my post on why every Marketer should know RegEx. It may seem scary at first, but with just 15 minutes of practice you can start doing very cool stuff with it.

Let's Get Cookin' with Advanced Marketing Analytics - #INBOUND 2013 from Michael Freeman

I'm keeping my fingers crossed to be asked back for Inbound 2014. If' you'd like that, let the HubSpotters know. I had hoped that the session would have been recorded. Maybe next year it could be.

The slides from the other presentations at Inbound 2013 can be found on their site here. So much knowledge to learn. Take your time and let it sink in. I know that I had to miss a lot of sessions because of schedule conflicts. I hope that I can get 80% of the value from reviewing the decks of the sessions I missed.

If you want to use the GA Campaign Tracking code, we've made it available for public use from github:

Would love to hear your comments below or just reach out via Twitter @spanishgringo

Monday, August 26, 2013

Better CRM Compliance by Sales Through More Signals & Less Noise

HubSpot's New Lead Tracking App Looks Promising

If No Sales Reps Use It, CRM Means Crappy Record Mismanagement

The biggest problem in any CRM deployment is getting compliance from your salespeople to actually use the tool. I can't tell you how many companies I've seen, large and small, who have spent a lot of time and energy implementing CRM or CRM-like tools (both off the shelf apps like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics and fully custom in-house apps), only to have none of their sales reps use the CRM or only do the bare minimum within it. Many still manage their leads in Outlook or Excel or just a plain old fashioned notebook. In my opinion. there tends to be much better usage and compliance actively using the CRM by services/support departments than sales. Not a big surprise given the inherent natures and incentives of those different types of departments.

In fairness to all of the sales dept's that I may have slighted just now by speaking an inconvenient truth, I understand why so many still refuse/ resist using the CRM to track lead activities. All humans, and especially sales reps are people of habit. Few people like change, being told what to do or feeling micro managed, especially sales. However, the way that most CRMs are deployed these days that is exactly what IT or Management is asking of the sales department. You must change. You must do things this way from now on AND we are going to tell you that you can't even use the normal email program that you've used for years. Plus you need to log everything (wasting your precious time) you do in a separate tool so we can track you (to make sure you are selling and working hard enough). Right or wrong, that at least is how the reps usually perceive it.

The saddest part about this non-compliance trend is that the reps actually would (and for those who use it already do) benefit from leveraging the CRM and putting their data and activities in there. The president of our cloud division, Keith Nealon, always says that a well maintained CRM database is one of the most strategic revenue generating assets that any company could have. He's right. You just need to figure out a way to convince salespeople to add value to the CRM.

The trick to getting better CRM compliance breaks down into two separate but related strategies:
  • Help reps close immediate opportunities
  • Let reps keep using the everyday tools they love

Ping It On

CRM advocates have always made the argument to sales departments that it is in their interest to use the CRM extensively because if they have richer data, that database will help them eventually sell more. Cleaner lead and account histories help you better identify dead leads that might be worth contacting again as well as who to avoid. More detailed information lets reps learn from others on what works and what doesn't and also helps them better prepare how they want to approach a prospect, etc...

That's all true. But sales is the most "now" focused dept. in any company. That tends to fit their personalities, but it also is reinforced with monthly and quarterly quotas. They have a ton of pressure to worry about the immediate and not the future. They are not alone either. We all know more or less that if we eat more vegetables, have less salt and exercise more we'd live longer and healthier lives, yet few can say no to that piece of cheesecake (or pizza or doughnut, etc.) sitting in front of them. Now usually trumps later.

That's where Signals from HubSpot comes in. I just learned about it at Inbound 2013. I sat through the product overview session and was able to meet with the two team leads on the project. I think that this has a real chance at getting sales reps to see the value of the CRM. I won't go into the full details on everything it, but one of the main values it has is that it gives your reps immediate feedback on active opportunities. Reps get a small ping like notification when people they send email to view their sent emails as well as when they check out links included in those emails, visit the sales rep's website and other interesting moments that occur in the sales funnel.

The appeal for sales reps is that they have easy to use, actionable info on their leads right from the two most common tools they already use: the browser (Chrome on PC & Mac for now) and Microsoft Outlook (for Windows). One of the truest clichés is that time is money. For a rep, any time saved is more time to potentially improve their pipeline and you always want to take action at the right moment. Reaching the right person at the right time can make all of the difference. Without this immediate signal, reps are just guessing on when the right time will be to send that email or pick up the phone to talk to the right person who's ready to buy.

The analogy I came up with when first learning about the tool is to imagine an EMT driving around the city randomly, looking for sick or injured people who need to be taken to the hospital. That's ridiculous, I know. We have 911 and that is a big honking signal that tells the driver when and where the ambulance needs to be. Properly timed sales calls may not be a question of life and death like it is for an ambulance driver but it can be the difference between making quota or not. For most companies, sales reps are like the randomly driving ambulance EMT. With Signals on the other hand, that could be 911 for the sales dept.

Think of it as 911 for your sales department

Let Them Use What They Know

If you gave a shotgun to a caveman (no direct relation to salespeople although some may beg to differ with me -- I just like the analogy) and tell him to go hunting with it, he'll sneak up to his prey and will try to bash its head in by swinging the handle of the gun at its head instead of firing a shot. We are all creatures of habit and we do what we know. It takes time and effort to learn most new skills. That's why it's essential for successful CRM deployments that you need to tap into the tools that reps already use (or at least something that is very close to what they are already using).

My company's phone system has the deepest and most sophisticated integration with Salesforce.com in the market today (as well as plenty of other apps like NetSuite, most applicant tracking systems and other apps through our public API). It does all sorts of awesome things that improve customer service and notifies reps of activities in Salesforce.com etc. but the killer feature in my opinion is that it automatically logs to your Salesforce records all calls that you make and that you receive from your accounts. The rep doesn't even need to be signed into Salesforce for the call to be logged in the system. They could be on the street using their smartphone with our mobility app and the calls still get logged to the opportunity. They miss a call from a good prospect and get a voicemail instead? It's automatically transcribed and both the transcribed text and the audio are attached to the contact record in the CRM as well as sent via email to the sales rep.

Richer data in the CRM and no additional effort. #flippingsweet

What we are dong with the phone system, Signals is doing with email and your website (and LinkedIn BTW). Integrated with HubSpot and Salesforce.com, your reps can continue to send and receive emails from Gmail/ Google Apps and Outlook (both the Outlook client and outlook.com) while now logging that information into their contact records. Virtually no change is needed in the rep's current behavior and the installation and setup process seems drop dead easy. Want to get notified immediately when the VP of IT is looking at a page on your website? Done. Want to know when you just got a qualified lead handed to you from Marketing? Done. Need to know when your lead opens your email with the latest sales proposal? Done. Really.

Where to Go From Here - Dialing in a Better Signal

We are going to start testing Signals in our organization. I'm optimistic that it will take on quite quickly for the reasons mentioned above. Anything that seems this easy that can push the needle would be a big win for any organization.

That being said, this is still a very early stage product and there are areas where I already am looking for improvements:
  • Smartphone and tablet support for sending tracked emails. This will be a tough nut to crack given the lack of extension and plugin support for the Mail, Gmail and Browser apps on iOS and Android. More and more reps are mobile and depend on their post-PC devices to communicate. The good news is that those are more often "consumption" devices rather than "composing" devices. Perhaps a workaround would be to use a bcc email address to at least log the outbound email. Also, this could be built into the HubSpot mobile app but that would only be used most likely by the die hard, true believer sales reps, not the majority
  • Mail and Outlook support for Mac This is a first version of a new product, so HubSpotters need to be cut some slack. They built this for the two most commonly used email platforms on notebooks. With the growth of Mac, though, they'll want to quickly develop support for the Mail app and likely the Outlook app for Mac
  • Prioritize the stream. As of now, all notifications are treated equally in Signals. However, most social networks now use rich data to prioritize the notifications you receive in your streams to let you focus on high value updates. Signals should do the same. I'm not sure of all of the criteria that should be used in that but some things that come to mind are
    • Consolidate multiple notifications from the same person or account if they occur in a short period of time
    • Notifications from leads with higher lead scores are prioritized
    • Have default notification rules that can be changed by either reps or from within HubSpot depending on the organization's rules
    • NOT MY IDEA - Others have mentioned an ability to mute notifications for certain contacts. I think that is a must
  • Deeper integration with HubSpot. Let me setup rules so that interactions via Signals could trigger workflows and change lead scores in HubSpot. That would be hot stuff. They could also perhaps add this data (they would have to put these activities in buckets like "viewed emails" and "links clicked", etc...) to the reports section of HubSpot and show the Influence of these activities on prospects becoming contacts and contacts becoming customers
  • Use the data from Signals to prove the value. While the reps that do use the tool will anecdotally see the value of it, it will be more successful if HubSpot takes all of that data on notifications, better responsiveness and improved sales rep efficiency and ties that back to actual business performance. They could possibly even add some sort of gameification to encourage the desired behavior from its users
Do you see the potential? I sure do, and can't wait to get started. It's a Signal I've heard loud and clear (I don't know why that is the common expression when it should be "loudly and clearly").

Monday, August 12, 2013

Google - Fix GCal's Multi-Email Calendar Bug Please!

Overall, I really enjoy using Google Calendar. It is fast, flexible, free, and accessible from pretty much anywhere. However, there is a very annoying bug that drives me nuts and I hope they can fix it soon.

Google Calendar does not understand associated email addresses from Google Accounts when it comes to invitations.

Background on Associated Email Addresses

Long ago, Google enabled "associated email addresses".  These allow you to map other email addresses to your primary Google account. This has multiple benefits such as allowing you to login to most Google applications, even Google Calendar, with any of the email addresses you have associated with your account. When you setup a new alternate email address, you need to go through the steps of validating the email address and clicking through on a verification link sent to that account.

When you check your account and have setup alternate email addresses it will look like this (my actual accounts are blacked out here but you get the idea):

As I said, you can login to your apps by using the primary or any of the alternate email addresses and it works fine. That is, until you receive a gCal invitation sent to one of those alternate email addresses.

Google Calendar Invitations Don't Recognize Alternate Email Addresses

At work we happen to use MS Exchange instead of Google Apps. I'd prefer Google Apps, but that is not my call. So, we make the best of it we can. However, I work with outside vendors who do happen to use Google Apps for their businesses. When we schedule meetings, such as for a screen sharing conference call, I'll often receive a calendar invitation from the partner/vendor, etc...and it will have been sent via Google Calendar.  Of course, being work, they will send it to my work email address. For this example, let's say it's email-2@domain.com and my primary, personal gmail account is primary-email@gmail.com. 

The problem happens when I want to see details inside the calendar appointment. In Outlook, I receive a the invitation and I'll see in the detail something like this:

Often the dial-in and screenshare link information are included in the details of the appointment. However, when I click "more details >>" I am given this wonderful screen:

Remember, email-2@domain.com uses the exact same Google Account as primary-email@gmail.com. As far as access to Google Apps is concerned, these should be considered aliases and I should have equal access. Unfortunately, it does not recognize that email-2@domain.com is a valid and verified email address for primary-email@gmail.com (and vice-versa).  It it were smart enough, it would let me see the event because they both belong to the same Google Account.

Perhaps this is just an edge case and that is why the bug persists.  Nevertheless, it is a crap user experience and Google should fix it.

So, Team Google Calendar, please fix this. We'll give you a +1 for it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My MozCon Summary: Aim High & Don't Let a Lack of Resources Stop You From Trying

I just wrapped up a great few days in Seattle attending my first MozCon.  I've been to numerous search marketing conferences in the past but this was my favorite so far (although I do miss the annual pints in London with my friends from Mecalux / Logismarket).

This is not a laundry list post of notes from the conference.  Other people have done a great job already capturing many of the MozCon details and highlights. This post will focus on the most important takeaways for me.

Of all the different things that people talked about, I'd say that there were three main themes of the conference that consistently emerged and are most relevant as takeaways. The good thing is that these themes are universal and can really be applied to anything whether you want to be a better marketer, get in shape, or even run for office.
  1. Always Aim High To Do Your Best
  2. A Lack of Resources is Not an Excuse
  3. Get Doin' Something Already
Walking out of the conference, after having met good people, listened to great talks and feeling inspired from the last three days, I happened upon someone that summed up the conference perfectly to me.

All of these core themes were embodied right there in the street.

This guy was having fun, playing the shit out of some makeshift drumset and making real music (#RMS?). He was good. Damn good and he didn't need anything fancy to make a great beat and put on a fun show. He just took what he could and started playing.

Some people, like me, stayed and watched while others passed by, but you could tell that pretty much everyone who heard him, liked what he was doing. When he finished his song, I among others all contributed to his thank you bucket. He had made my day better and he did it with a joy that gave me the feeling that he'd do it even if he didn't get paid.

After I stopped to talk to him for a second to see how he was making that snare drum rattle like a snare should. Peeping into the open faced bucket I saw some coins, bent soda cans, little bells and a metal plate.  He said all you need is anything that will clank or rattle.

He didn´t just one day play the drums and sound like that. But, he took what he could find, decided he was going to start playing and worked really hard so he could reach a level where strangers get stopped cold to admire the beauty of the sound.

We face roadblocks, get stuck, and settle for less way too often. We can learn a lot from his approach.

See you at #mozcon 2014

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Don't Confuse Inbound Marketing Tools with the Methodology

We've recently moved over to HubSpot at work to handle our marketing automation and assist in our Inbound Marketing efforts.

At ShoreTel, we are big fans of Inbound Marketing and believe that being customer-centric is necessary for success in the modern economy.

I was reading a post about the latest report on the State of Inbound Marketing and one of the comments really stuck with me. It was from someone called "HT" who did not like what he was reading...
HT: Blah, blah, blah. Of course Hubspot is going to create a report singing the praises of "Inbound Marketing" and making claims that "traditional marketing" is dying. Do you think they would make a report claiming the opposite? It's self-serving. Branding, messaging, targeting, promotion, service and the product itself are the drivers. Let's not fool ourselves. Without those, inbound is irrelevant. "Inbound" is but a portion of the overall marketing strategy. It does not succeed on it's own. However, as a part of an overall plan, it has its place in the big-picture. I'll be honest, I am not a fan of landing pages that require me to give you my information before you even tell me what you are offering or why it would matter to me. I'm seeing way too much of that approach lately. And that approach seems to be emphasized by inbound marketers. What you will end up by following such a tactic is a list full of unqualified leads who simply filled out a form, but only because they wanted the info to review first. I would much rather have a list of people who had the information and THEN submitted their information to me, as they would be more likely a lead that would have a better chance of actually converting. In the time that we have transitioned our marketing efforts to a more "inbound" approach it has resulted mainly in unqualified leads who only wanted more info. The rate of sales success has been very low. I could go on and on. Marketing is all encompassing: print, digital, tv, radio, outdoor, sponsorship, events, public relations, social media, etc. You have to both drive customers to you (outbound) and draw them in through inbound means. If they don't know you exist, how will they know what they are looking for? It takes both inbound and outbound strategies to be truly successful in your marketing efforts.
I think more than anything what bothered me about the comment was that HT seemed upset that Inbound is growing in influence and that HubSpot is happy to promote itself and the positive trends towards Inbound.

By the time that I saw the HubSpot post, comments were closed. So, here what I would have liked to have written to HT:

My question is, why wouldn't they? They are a leader in a rapidly growing market.

Just because a positive report on the state of Inbound Marketing benefits HubSpot, that does not make the report untrue. The reality is that customers have changed and Inbound Marketing is the best way to reach them and build profitable relationships.

I'm open to whatever comes after Inbound, but right now it's the best methodology available and until something better comes along, it's where marketers should be focusing and investing their time, resources and energy.

Inbound Marketing is a movement, not a fad. 

Inbound Marketing is not a panacea nor will everyone who tries it be good at it. The same is true of traditional marketers. For every masterpiece such as "here's to the crazy ones" there are thousands of examples of schlock.

I agree with you that too many websites ask for visitor info before telling you about their company or what they do. But then again, that is not really Inbound Marketing because it is not a customer-centric approach. Just because they use some of the tools or  techniques of Inbound Marketing does not mean that they are practicing good Inbound Marketing.

Do not confuse the use of Inbound Marketing tools with actually practicing Inbound Marketing as a discipline.  It's very easy to buy and throw in a tool.  The true value of Inbound Marketing comes from following the process and methodology.  The tools are there to facilitate, enable, and make those processes more efficient. You, as the marketer, still need to decide:
  • Who are your customers and what they are looking for?
  • How to communicate the value that your company and products offer to your customers?
  • What steps and characteristics you and your customer go through in the funnel?
  • Which calls to action, offers and content are most effective?
  • What are the hypotheses that need to be tested?
  • What is the right amount of content to provide, when, where, and how to push the prospect deeper in the funnel?
  • etc...
For your company HT, consider lead scoring or some other process for segmenting your leads so you are only spending time on those most likely to convert. Perhaps you are gating too much content on your website. Perhaps you do not nurture your leads to identify and separate the good ones from the bad.

I hope you find a way to Inbound success.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Was Morgan Freeman recommended to me because of my name?

So, yesterday I get a Google+ email with suggestions for people I should add to my circles.  I was a bit surprised to see Morgan Freeman listed first in the list.  I enjoy pretty much all of his movies and think he is a great actor, but I have the feeling that Google recommended him because we have the same last name.  Who knows what goes on in the secret sauce of the recomendation algorithm, but this one seems a bit off.  I have no idea who Brendan or Adriana are.

Perhaps Google could do something like Apple's Genius recommendations and at least give a hint as to why or how they think we are connected.

I wish Morgan Freeman were my uncle!
When living in Spain and telling people my last name, I always had to say (in Spanish) "you know, Freymann like Morgan Freymann." Sometimes I even was able to convince a few people that we were related and he was an uncle of mine (by marriage). I wish.

"I hope the pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope." - Red

Monday, January 14, 2013

@Google: How is this a good search result for business phone system?

UPDATE 01/24/13 - Cisco finally fixed their CMS. The formatting is still broken on the content but at least it is back on the page. For Google, it does not seem to matter either way because they rank #2 as if nothing ever happened.

UPDATE 01/22/13 - The Google cache has been updated to show the blank page and it still ranks #2. Amazing. Talk about giving Cisco the benefit of the doubt.

Where's the beef?

UPDATE 01/21/13 - Cisco still in position #2 and they still have an empty page! At least a week with absolutely no real content in the page, which is clearly broken. You'd think that even if Google doesn't notice the problem, Cisco would at least notice by now. Does anyone actually manage this part of their website?

UPDATE 01/17/13 - Cisco has moved up to position #2 and they still have an empty page!  Both Google and Cisco are asleep at the switch on this one. It's been more than 3 days since their content has been MIA (I doubt I happened to find the page right when their CMS broke).
I wonder which will happen first:
  • Google will recrawl the page and update its rankings correctly
  • Cisco will realize that their CMS is serving up a bunch of donut pages and they'll fix it

I am getting familiar with the telecom industry in search as part of my job.  Each industry has its own nuances, players, and idiosyncrasies.  One thing that is common is that from time to time you will find head-scratching results in the SERPs (search engine results pages).  Often it is because someone is having a bad day (site is down, CMS error, hosting provider makes a DNS mistake, etc....).  Other times, it is because Google just has not yet gotten around to updating their index for a particular term.  They may get to it eventually, but sometimes they are a bit slow to update the results even though the underlying content and/or competition has changed for a given topic. It is impossible for Google to stay on top of each result and each page for every term at every second of every day.  But then again, when you listen to Eric Schmidt, he thinks that the whole concept of showing a list of search results is a failure.

Today, I found a good example of someone having a bad day leading to a poor search result.  If you search for "business phone system" you will see Cisco listed with the #3 position in the organic results:

Nice position, there should be good content behind that link, right?

You can' always get what you want....

You would think that after clicking on that highlighted result you would be presented with some sort of wizard/set of questions to help me find the perfect phone system for my small business. You would think that wouldn't you? Well, let's see what we get instead:
This is thin content

Now, that is what I call a generous use of white space on a page layout.

My guess is that the CMS is broken or someone at Cisco has inserted some code (perhaps to trigger the chat window) which prevents the main content from displaying.

After navigating a few different pages, it looks like the problem may be pretty serious because I found multiple "empty" pages today on their site.  I'm curious though at what point does  Google take this into consideration into changing rankings/indexed status of such a page.

The last cached copy from Google is January 3rd, which at least did have real content in the page (not great, but at least something).  So we know that it worked correctly 11 days ago, but not sure when the page stopped working correctly.

Even when working correctly, the page content did not satisfy the promise made by the headline.  It listed off some features/functionality that users should consider but it did nothing to actually educate visitors on what those features mean, not the tradeoffs or factors are to consider with regard to the list of features. It also makes sure to mention that you should talk to a trusted adviser (translation - Cisco reseller).  Why can't Cisco just clearly educate the visitor right on this page?  Furthermore, it lists the next step as a link to learn more about Cisco's solutions, but when you get to that page it is just a list of their products without any guidance to what you should be looking to learn or how it fits together.  Obviously, I am biased, but I think the content we provide is better. You be the judge.

We all have bad days

Sometimes our sites don't behave as they are supposed to. Let's just hope that if these problems persist, Google will get around to taking that into consideration in the rankings, even if the site is famous.  Otherwise, that is an unfair advantage for "big" sites.  Google should not protect the 1% sites any better than the 99% when mistakes are made.

Friday, January 11, 2013

You can get the Gringo out of Spain, but...

I have been totally radio silent on this blog for a long time.  A lot has happened since I last wrote about the Barça game:
  • We've left Spain and moved to the happiest place in America.  Even Oprah agrees.
  • I've started working for ShoreTel Sky, a cloud based business VoIP service in their Marketing department.  First time working from home.  Required some adjustment, but so far going well.
  • Getting the boys settled and adapted to new schools, new house, and new language (well, at least new for them to speak outside of the house)
  • Surfing much more....the Pacific as a few more waves than the Mediterranean sea.
  • No more weekly basketball games. Switched over to futbol (soccer) instead.
  • Trying to pickup my tennis game when I can.
Overall, it has been a very good transition. We miss our family and friends back in España but we´re now with other family here and starting to make some new friends (as well as see some great old ones too).

Now that I have rediscovered the blog, I hope to get back to writing some more.  

Need to find some time to keep improving GA Evolution. I have received some great feedback on good features.  In progress, but no ETA on the next rev. Hope in the next few weeks to get the top items completed.

2013 is looking great so far and excited to see where it leads.