Posted by: Greg Ness | August 21, 2018

The Toxic Marketing Cloud

The Big Shift

When tech trade publishers stopped printing B2B magazines they shifted their business models from cultivating carefully validated readers (for print ad revenue) to attracting large, less known populations of hyperactive clickers (for online ad revenue). This has fundamentally changed marketing strategies and tactics, often for the worse.

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Many marketers address the relative anonymity problem (of the online reader) with a growing ecosystem of automated tools which “study, condition and validate” interest based solely on content interactions.  Lists of various kinds are bought from an assortment of providers then pounded with content offers, incentives and cold calls to find out who they are and if they are a legitimate prospect.

When Automation Meets Confusion Nobody Wins

The outputs of this approach aren’t marketing qualified leads, but really toxic marketing clouds with very high levels of identity and intent confusion.  With enough marketers at enough companies doing this you create something even worse: a kind of nuclear winter where legitimate prospects run and hide and vendors are forced to pay more to acquire customers. We’re getting there quickly as automation is amped up in a vain attempt to discover leads in the growing toxic cloud.

In a recent interview with Integrate’s Scott Vaughan I explained how this doomed strategy isn’t just “spray and pray” but “spray and pay.” And everyone is paying, not just those offending parties who are reselling bad lists but those who are hammering them with misplaced telephone outreach. Real buyers are avoiding the hassle outright by not engaging, otherwise they become a flood victim. The good news is that there are a host of new vendors emerging to address the problem.

I remember a customer who had insisted I call him to start a project. I had left a dozen calls and emails then a “last message” more than two months after our initial lunch. He called me a couple days after the last message and apologized saying that he had trouble keeping up with the volume of emails and phone messages.  I nodded sympathetically until he walked me to his office and showed me hundreds of unopened vendor emails from that day and played his voicemail attendant advising of more than a hundred unheard messages.

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The toxic fog was there in his office, blocking him from legitimate and needed vendor interactions. And blocking us from getting business done.

The List is Key and It Always Has Been

When lists are bad they are not cheap, regardless of how little you paid.  They are costly because they lead to wasted outreach, bad data and fatigued, frustrated and angry sales teams. Clicks, opens and time spent on web pages don’t matter if the visitor is not a prospect. But tell this to the CMO compensated on lead counts and email opens.

In a coming blog I’ll share more about how I’m generating client lists for Actium Bay Group. -G

What Happened to the Art and Science of Tech Marketing?

In the 1990s, just as the data networking business took off and created new avenues for information sharing, marketers embraced the notion of knowing their customers and prospects better than ever, thanks to technology. We could use 1 to 1 marketing strategies to get closer to prospects and customers than ever with specific content, video and real nurturing to establish successful relationships via the new Internet.

My how we’ve regressed from the dream.

When the print publishers succumbed we lost a valuable ally in the marketplace.  We lost contact with validated prospects and substituted repetition with authenticity. We need to get back on strategy.

Let’s change it back…  Interested?  Drop me a line and we can talk about advanced demand generation architectures from Actium Bay Group.


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