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Ask a Journalist: Sean Callahan, Digital Marketing Remix


Ask a Journalist’ is a weekly column where we turn the tables on journalists, asking them their opinions on cross-channel marketing based on their unique vantage points covering the online marketing ecosystem.

Today we’re reaching out to Sean Callahan, Editor-Marketing Director at Bizo, a marketing platform for B2B marketers where he edits the Digital Marketing Remix. Previously, Sean was Executive Editor for Crain’s BtoB Magazine, now a part of Ad Age. Sean is also an accomplished author of several children’s books including A Wild Father’s Day.

Sean-Callahan-Digital-Marketing-Remix-e1392819734624-200x200Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Based on your reporting in 2013, what trend do you see actually happening as it relates to cross-channel marketing in 2014?

What we are seeing is the rise of ‘Always On Multi-Channel Marketing’.

‘Always On’ is a phrase that has been around for a long time but it’s now becoming much more widespread.  It started with websites. People have had websites for more than two decades now and it’s something you’d never turn off. It’s Always On. Then with search campaigns to market websites – again something that you’d never turn off. It’s on 24-7. It’s a way to keep your name, product and services in front of your prospects all day long / all year long.

Social is another channel that is ‘Always On’.

Advertisers are using marketing automation to make sure they’re in front of their customers, wherever their customers want to see them and at whatever level of the funnel their customers are – whether they’re at the bottom of the funnel and the marketer is targeting them with search, at the middle of the funnel and the marketer is running email campaigns or at the top of the funnel (and throughout the entire funnel) and the marketer is using display.

Display is something that a lot of people are beginning to not look at as a campaign but as an ‘Always On’ marketing tactic, especially through something like retargeting.

‘Always On Multi-Channel Marketing’ gives marketers a really good way, through all of these channels – search, social, a marketer’s website, retargeting, marketing automation, general display – to engage with their customers all of the time.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: What role do you see targeting data playing in cross-channel marketing?

Targeting data plays an important role in online display advertising. With audience targeting, marketers and agencies have the ability to go programmatic where they can identify which persona they’re pursuing and then begin to target that persona using a number of data points, including industry, job title, seniority level, geo-location, company size. All of those data points can be used to target an audience.

More and more companies are beginning to take advantage of display. Display is pretty unique regarding its ability to be highly targeted but also achieve scale. Display can cover almost the entire Internet while only looking for the people each marketer want to reach, no matter where they go.

Even though display advertising has been around for years, people are really beginning to take advantage of the opportunities with display made possible by using targeting data.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: What’s your personal favorite communications channel (or vehicle) for reading/viewing/experiencing entertainment? News?

I love my MacBook and iPhone and I really enjoy a content recommendation app called Zite.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: What channels are more important to B2B marketers (vs. consumer marketers)?

People talk about a convergence where channels are coming together but I think there is a convergence of B2B and B2C marketing. I don’t see that there is much difference anymore in how marketers talk to customers, whether they’re B2B or B2C marketers (except for the Super Bowl, where most marketers were B2C marketers).

First cable ‘verticalized’ TV and now the Internet is ‘verticalizing it’ even more with video so that B2B marketers have just as much chance of reaching their audience effectively as B2C marketers do.

B2B and B2C can both use video, they’re both using email, display and social. I don’t see any real differences in the channels being used by B2B and B2C marketers.

Part of what’s bringing this convergence is user experience. People have these B2C experiences – like when they go to Amazon to order a book – and then they demand an experience which is just as smooth from the B2B marketers they work with.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: 2014 will be the year of ______ (fill in the blank).

I know a lot of people are saying that ‘Big Data’ is being overblown but I believe it’s being under sold. Data provides an incredible opportunity, especially for B2B companies, because they can have such a clear view of (a) who their target is and how they can reach them, and (b) who’s coming to their website, and then show them the right message, either instantaneously or later through retargeting.

Big Data also provides a huge opportunity on the back end for measuring marketing and enabling us to figure out what really is working and what is not.

If we go back to the famous John Wanamaker quote, I think now we’re beginning to be able to tell which half of our marketing is not working. Now, we just cut that half out and devote the money to the half that is working.

Companies that focus on the customer and use Big Data to determine who that customer is and what they want are going to be the companies that thrive in the future. Companies that don’t have a culture where they’re willing to look at the data and determine new trends or new products/services that their customers want are going to be in trouble.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Thanks for your time and effort, Sean.

Stay tuned for next week’s Ask a Journalist interview with David Kaplan.

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