Going from Good to Great in Marketing

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Good to Great 300Here at Act-On, we constantly search for new ways to improve marketing performance, and thereby overall business performance. Sometimes we find academic research that gives us insight, but just as often the answers come from our customers themselves – real people in the real world solving real challenges. It’s happened that our own customers have developed new techniques to improve their business, and we’ve also seen them discover innovative, effective uses for our technology.

As a supplier of marketing technology and know-how, we wondered whether our customers are better off compared to businesses at large. We just completed a research project that gave us insight into this:

In November 2012 we published the results of a research project we’d commissioned from Forrester Consulting; the study’s purpose was to determine the strategies used by small and mid-sized business to drive revenue in a down economy. The results painted a very clear picture of the dichotomy that exists between the Top Performers – companies that annually exceed their revenue plans – and the rest, who don’t exceed plan. Across a variety of marketing parameters, Top Performers do things differently and get superior results.

Of course we were curious to see how our own customer base stacked up against the Forrester sample. We spent two months conducting a similar study with our customers, using the Forrester questionnaire. The results enabled us to compare the Act-On customer base microcosm with the small and mid-sized businesses at large that were represented in the Forrester study.

We compared the similarities and differences; the results are illuminating. Here’s a sample set:

1. A higher proportion of Act-On customers are Top Performers; an even higher proportion are in the highest echelon of Top Performers (defined as exceeding annual revenue plan by over 10%).

2. Act-On customers are far more focused on executing and measuring digital marketing campaigns using email, online content creation and social media than the general business population. This wasn’t surprising; obviously, all our customers use marketing automation. But we were surprised by the significant differences between the two populations.

3. Act-On customers are more confident, maintaining or increasing their marketing investment, even during a slow economy.

If you’d like to see the research, you can access the original Forrester Consulting report and the companion eBook that turns Forrester’s insights into seven actionable, achievable habits that any SMB can use to drive revenue.

Just as in the research done by Jim Collins and his staff and memorialized in the book Good to Great, studies like this can show only correlations between variables – not necessarily cause and effect. In our case, we think that not only are Act-On customers forward-thinking marketers to start with, but they’ve also benefited from the technology that helps implement their forward-thinking strategies– and become Top Performers as a result.

What do you think?