“You have to find something that you can measure,” said Brian MacDonald, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, in the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Media Center.
“Fortunately for us, in the software business one of the big things that we can measure, especially for the audience I usually go after, is all about them trying software,” he said.
MacDonald explains that if someone downloads a software trial, that tells the team where the prospect is in the buying cycle: “We know that if they’re going to download something, they’re probably pretty serious about it.”
Brian and his team were able to actually link trial downloads people had made to actual social media campaigns that they had run.
“That was really the key — finding the call to action that’s linked to something that’s gated, and we know that they took action,” he said.
By including downloads at key social media touchpoints, Brian and his team were able to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns.
Aside from just metrics, it was also vital that Brian and his team keep up a continuous feedback loop with customers.
“Once we nailed down the basic metrics and came up with our technique,” he said, referencing storytelling through using an infographic, “we started out with a quarterly cadence, just to start to get the information out there, and that was really effective.”
The teams that they were telling the social media story to wanted a higher frequency, Brian added, and they increased the cadence to monthly based off that feedback.
“We give them a bigger, broader send on quarterly, but on monthly, it allows us to then fine-tune the content and get to the things that they are seeing that they expect their customers to want, and what we’re seeing on our side as what people are actually interacting with,” he said.
In Brian’s full presentation onstage at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, he detailed five steps he and his team took in order to see results and gain buy-in.
Step #1. Find your audience
One of the critical first steps, he said, is to understand your audience — “Are you talking to Sales? Are you talking to R&D?”
By knowing who they are, you can then understand what’s important to them and what content they might find the most valuable.
“One way to do that is to look at their business objectives,” Brian said. “You want to connect your story to those business objectives.”
Step #2. Build a story using data
Brian advises marketers to gather any data they can access that helps build the story around your team and their efforts.
More than just accumulating numbers on customers, marketers have to ask themselves: “What am I learning from those numbers? Looking at things over time, looking at correlation between things,” he said. “From there, take those insights and begin to connect them to those business objectives.”
The key metric Brian’s CMO cared about was pipeline, so Brian and his team researched how their efforts directly impacted that objective.
Step #3. Write with a goal in mind
It’s important to understand your end game, not only overall, but in each meeting or interaction.
“What do I want to get out of this thing? When I walk out of this meeting … what do I want out of it?” he said.
This focus will help you craft the story and gain internal buy-in. Brian wanted to use relevant, valuable content to gain recognition for his team internally that would spur further investment.
To help him achieve his end goal, Brian was inspired by movies and storytelling to get visual information across to his internal audience quickly. This led him to use infographics as an evolution of the usual presentation deck.
Step #4. Seek constructive feedback
“What I find most effective [with feedback] is ask for something very specific. Don’t just say, ‘Hey, give me some feedback on this stuff.’ People won’t take time unless you give them something specific to do,” Brian said.
After reaching out to experts for specific advice on areas they know well, you have to understand what advice is important to take. This means staying true to your story and understanding what will support it as well as what might ultimately undermine it.
Step #5. Publish with the audience in mind
MacDonald focused on three areas in this step:
Anticipate your audience’s questions. Either from previous experience presenting to them or from your research, have an idea of what additional information they might want to know and prepare for it.
Engage your audience. If your manager or other members of the team are present, you can use them to further emphasize a point in your story and demonstrate support from others.
Learn from the presentation and incorporate those insights into developing the “sequel” or next presentation.
“One of the key aspects of telling your story to your internal customers is connecting business insights — the things that you find in the data about marketing programs — to their business objectives,” Brian said.
By making those connections, people are going to care about the story, react to the story and want to be involved and engaged, he added.
After going through the steps, Brian and his team saw the following results:
- 2x increase in engagement metrics due to content owners creating better content
- 3x increase in amount of engagement with internal stakeholders
- 100% increase in members on the team
“Once they saw that I was actually helping them meet their business objectives, they then wanted to help our team,” Brian concluded.
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