As CMOs take ownership of the crucial customer-facing software that powers digital transformation, marketing technology budgets have soared. By some estimates, spending by CMOs is poised to outpace that of CIOs this year.

It’s a situation teeming with opportunity but concurrently fraught with complexity. With all eyes on marketing to deliver on customer engagement, the department has grown in visibility and importance. At the same time, it is also the favored scapegoat, evidenced by the fact that average CMO tenures have consistently dropped, decreasing by six months in just two years.

Guest Post by Martha Stuart, VP, Software Analytics, Revulytics.

Given the high expectations for marketing, ensuring ROI on marketing technology spend is crucial, especially at a time when there is so much technology to choose from. Since 2011, the landscape for marketing technology has soared from 150 vendors to nearly 5,000, according to MarTech Today.

As your department increases spending on marketing-related technology, can you confirm that said spend is actually helping you connect with customers? If your answer is no, you’re not alone. Fewer than half of companies who have used marketing automation software for two years or more have seen revenue grow as a result, according to research from B2Bmarketing.net and Circle Research.

Software usage analytics can help provide a boost to your marketing technology stack, leading to deeper customer engagement and real business results. Let’s take a look at how.

Supercharge Web Analytics

Page views, visits, bounce rate, time spent, referral traffic, and more tell you a lot about the health of your websites and can even give you a decent view of your audiences. But what happens when potential customers, wooed by your finely tuned digital experiences, make a decision?

In many cases, interested prospects follow an offer link to download a trial version. Or they apply for a free demo of a certain piece of functionality. Or they look for targeted solutions on your site to address their particular needs.

How can you follow your users through the next steps in their journey and provide them with relevant information to ensure that they’ll actually convert to (or stay) with your software?

Consider the common example of a free 30-day trial. Let’s say your offer proves wildly popular, with users eagerly downloading your software within days or even hours of the offer going live. At that point, it’s tempting to claim success, following up after a week or so with a blanket offer to encourage conversions.

It soon becomes apparent that nothing you’re doing is driving conversions, and you don’t know why. As it turns out, software usage analytics can lend visibility into usage patterns that give you valuable insight into why products aren’t resonating with users, and how to ensure that they do.

Here’s how it works. A leading provider of PDF management tools was having problems with user adoption. By leveraging usage analytics, the company was able to uncover key details about user behavior. They could see, for example, how long users worked with the product before walking away. They could also gather a lot of information about the user and the machine they were using, including memory capacity, region, version, edition, and operating system.

Armed with this information, the company was able to determine that, unfortunately, thousands of potential users were getting stuck with the configuration wizard, abandoning the software before they’d even had the opportunity to use it.

With changes to the wizard’s usability, software conversions quickly spiked.

Driving ROI from Marketing Automation Software

Consider another example. Marketing automation is one of the fastest growing technologies in the marketing stack. Aberdeen Group research shows that nearly 70 percent of companies are using it or implementing a system.

As marketing professionals try to grab the attention of customers (or potential customers), who receive hundreds of emails a day, personalization has proven to be one of the most effective ways to break through the noise. By leveraging usage analytics, you can create deeply personalized offers that provide a consistent experience across all channels and drive real business results.

By learning what features users use the most, how much time they spend with those features, and whether they are bypassing some killer feature, marketers can launch campaigns targeting unique user profiles. In fact, thanks to this level of user insight, they can even share relevant content through in-app messaging, reaching customers when they are most engaged with the product – i.e., while they’re using it.

Consider a common use case: A campaign designed to move users off a legacy version. With data on exactly how many users are still using the old version, and in what capacity, your business can determine whether it is more economically viable to offer deep discounts and encourage upgrades to the new version than to continue supporting the old one.

With communication and targeted offers that are sensitive to chief user concerns, and that capitalize on top user motivations, you can transition holdouts to the new version without the typical protests associated with such moves.

Learn Something Meaningful from Your Surveys

Every marketing department wants to engage in better storytelling. It’s an un-revolutionary trend that shows no signs of waning.

User surveys are a standard tool that marketers rely on to craft those stories. But, there are two huge limitations here. First, it’s very hard to engage users. When you consider that Survey Monkey processes more than 3 million surveys responses daily, it’s no wonder that response rates hover around 10-15 percent (according to Survey Gizmo).

Second, when web links are publicized over social media, you can never actually be certain you’re engaging the right audience.

There’s a better way to collect customer opinions: By addressing customers when they are engaged with your application, and asking them what they think about the specific features they are using. With a powerful combination of in-app messaging and software usage analytics, you can present relevant questions to users in the context of the specific application and features you are asking about.

In other words, you can collect user feedback that does more than just fill PowerPoint slides.

For example, when marketing talks with customers, that often means talking with someone in the IT department. This makes sense because the IT folk are frequently the people who the account rep has the relationship with, and they are often the easiest people for marketing to reach.

IT can certainly provide extremely valuable information on areas like implementation, licensing, the competitive landscape, and more. The user audience, however, can provide insight into efficiencies gained, functionality they’d like to see enhanced, and how your technology compares to previous technology they have used. These are the kinds of insights that can truly help differentiate your products and your content.

With usage analytics, you have an edge that your competitors may not – access to actual users. You can use the data you collect to launch valuable in-app surveys, particularly in the context of a particular process, to solicit real-time, reliable feedback. Or you can simply use the data as a basis for conversations with time-starved and difficult to engage professionals.

What’s more, by integrating surveys with data on usage, you can target specific audiences with questions that are relevant to their experience with your application.

Robust filtering and segmentation allow you to choose from a huge list of criteria – including geographical region, days installed, license type, OS details and much more. You can drill deeply into a user base to get real, actionable information, presenting in-app messages with surveys to audiences as granular as “users who have downloaded software from a specific landing page, have been running it for more than 30 days in trial mode, are running Windows 7 Pro on a desktop dual monitor, have at least 8 GB of RAM and a resolution of 1280 px.”

Supercharge Your Marketing Stack with Analytics

Detailed and actionable insights into how your prospects and customers use your software can boost your content personalization, trial conversion, and customer engagement efforts.

Usage analytics can help you break through the noise to deliver content that addresses actual pain-points or offers real opportunities for your audience. With usage analytics, data becomes a jumping off point for meaningful customer conversations – in both the virtual and physical space – and helps ensure that your content is relevant and drives real results.

Photo Source (Creative Commons): Autumn Barnes.

Martha Stuart

Martha Stuart is VP, Marketing at Revulytics. She is responsible for driving marketing innovation and execution across branding, demand generation, new market penetration, sales enablement, and pipeline acceleration. Prior to Revulytics, Martha served as VP, Enterprise Marketing at Intralinks, and was Director, Americas Marketing at Sophos, where she was instrumental in building a world class marketing function and growing the business.

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