By definition, your sales prospects are online - Savvy online marketing is a core competence (sometimes the only one) of every successful Cloud business.

You sell a product that requires an internet connection and a web browser for access, which means your prospects are online! Numerous studies show that your customers are now doing most of their primary research online, and this should not surprise you. As a consumer, you wouldn’t imagine buying a car, making an offer on a home, planning a vacation, or completing other large purchases without doing some research online. The same is now true for executives at your target customers. You should therefore be aggressive in marketing to them online.

This is a clear example where business-to-business (B2B) marketers need to learn from their business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts. The most innovative B2C companies are lead generation machines, leveraging search engine optimization (SEO), viral marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, and other technically-advanced methods. Yet many B2B companies don’t have a clue.

The incumbent technology leaders like IBM, Oracle, and SAP, have done very little in online marketing, and thus have given their smaller challengers a huge opportunity. Private Cloud companies have so many disadvantages against the larger incumbent vendors that it is imperative that they exploit this potential advantage. Whether they use an automated product like Eloqua or a team of marketing analysts and spreadsheets, online marketing and demand generation is simply a “must have” for Cloud companies.

In this new era, the creative elements of marketing are becoming secondary and quant jocks and analytical wizards are starting to take over the CMO and VPM positions. At the marketing executive’s fingertips should be detailed reports showing pipeline sources, costs per lead, funnel conversion rates by stage, costs per acquisition by source and campaign, effectiveness by channel, and so on. If you are the CEO or a Board member, you should review these reports closely and make them the basis for assessing marketing effectiveness and performance.

The most advanced marketing executives are also starting to embrace social media and to do multimodal attribution analyses. Customer and prospect conversations are no longer defined by website text, email messages, and sales discussions. Forums, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and dozens of other social media tools constantly facilitate discussions about your market, your competitors, and likely your company and product. You need to get into position to monitor and help define these discussions, and the most savvy marketing teams will use this to their considerable advantage.

Similarly, strategic marketing executives realize that the last touch point is often not the primary value driver for a lead. If a prospect typed your company name into a Google search box and happened to click on the paid link instead of the organic link (as is often the case), it would be foolish to credit SEM for this conversion, although most tools typically will. The customer was specifically looking for your company because of previous brand exposure, and your processes (likely with the support of some of the new tools coming to market) need to evolve to the point where you can better understand this behavior and attribute this credit to further improve marketing effectiveness.