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A study recently conducted by Corporate Visions polled more than 440 marketing and sales professionals. The study showed that the biggest problem marketers are facing is generating sales-ready leads. The study also showed that only 20% of marketers had confidence in the effectiveness of their B2B demand gen program. The remaining 80% pointed to a lack of engaging or provocative content as the source of the problem.

All of the data raised a question: Are demand gen programs more engaging or effective with polls?

Mani Iyer, the CEO of Kwanzoo said, “Adding an email rich media poll for a B2B customer normally increases email engagement by 30% as more prospects click from the email to the landing page.”

What we can gather from this is that the prospect replies and views the rich media poll results. That also means the prospect’s reply can be tracked for future nurturing campaigns. All of which points to a lead being moved through the sales funnel quicker with a much more highly effective nurturing campaign.

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So using the information collected in the study, what would happen if you were to send 30,000 B2B emails with a rich media poll? You should receive 5% or 1,500 poll clicks. These prospects are then added to different nurturing streams which accelerate the process of prospect qualification.

What does this mean for those of you currently using whitepapers on your website for prospects to download? It means that it’s time to start using some dynamic content by creating an interactive poll that focuses on your customers. Collaborate with sales on your demand generation plan to provide more engaging content that they can also use. Working together you will not only drive more engagement, you will ultimately drive more revenue.

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The past is history, but it is something we can learn from moving forward in order to improve the way we do business.  While we are creatures of habit it is important to realize that some habits need to die hard if you are to improve your lead generation moving forward.  Below are 4 habits many businesses seem to accidentally fall into, but struggle to break out of.

1. Neglecting Leads

Unfortunately one size doesn’t fit all, and no one lead generation strategy works for for every lead.  Each of your leads face different obstacles that need to be overcome in order to move forward in the sales process.  The first step in your lead generation program must be to identify your objective for each of your leads.  Once a plan is developed by your sales and marketing teams you may then begin to identify where exactly these leads are in the buying cycle.  This will enable you to identify the needs of each lead in order to design a lead nurturing strategy accordingly.

2. Failing To Let Go

While collecting leads can often times be tempting, it is a good idea to ask yourself if these leads will ever make it successfully through the buying cycle.  In the past we have discussed the importance of an effective lead scoring strategy in order to qualify leads.  Once you have scored your leads, you can then effectively determine which of your leads are ready to purchase, which need continued nurturing, and which have no interest in your offering.

3. Betting The Farm

Many businesses tend to devote all of their efforts to one channel of marketing, and fail to integrate their communications.  The goal moving forward should be no missed opportunities!  Rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket it is important to integrate and diversify your channels of communication.  This will provide you with multiple routes to nurture your leads through the sales funnel.

4. Promising The Moon

While getting sales should be one of your company’s main objectives, it is important not to promise what is ultimately impossible to deliver on.  Often times overpromising can do more harm than good leading to unhappy customers which can be damaging to your reputation and your lead generation results.  To avoid this be sure to make reasonable promises which you are capable of living up to.  The ultimate goal of each sale shouldn’t be over promising, but rather over delivering to each of your customers.

While each of these habits may be easy to fall under, it is important to realize the negative impact they may be having on your lead generation results.  By simply avoiding the 4 habits listed above, you can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your lead generation strategy.

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marketing

If you speak with B2B executives they’ll agree that you need a marketing plan. However, if you try to discuss the fee associated with it, there will be some push back. What makes that the case?

One of the biggest issues when it comes to discussing the fee is the difficulty in placing a direct value on a B2B marketing plan. Which then begs the question how do you value a B2B marketing plan? Why is it that you need one?

Marketing Plan vs Business Plan

It’s very important to create a distinction between a marketing plan and a business plan. B2B business plans should be completed four reasons.

  1. Starting a new business
  2. Raising Capital
  3. Selling a business
  4. Expanding into new markets and/or new business lines.

B2B marketing plans on the other hand should be completed every year, while being revisited and upgraded throughout the year as necessary. The marketing plan is going to be a part of the business plan.

The B2B marketing plan should be used as the playbook for executing marketing and sales strategy and tactics throughout the year.

The Plan is the Playbook

With football season almost under way and on most people’s minds you can compare the marketing plan to a playbook for a football team.

It is very difficult to put a direct value on either of these two items. Would your favorite football team or head into a football game without a playbook? That would never happen and you should feel the same way about the B2B marketing plan. It is difficult to put an exact value on a B2B marketing plan, but you shouldn’t be able to imagine starting your year without one.

Planning is Everything

You need to plan and when you write it down it gives you three specific advantages.

  1. You don’t have to remember anything, just refer to the agreed strategies and tactics in the plan.
  2. Disputes are settled by referring to the agreed upon plan.
  3. As your business changes throughout the year, in the way you’d have to adapt football plays to the opposition, you can easily alter the strategies, because you have a plan.

Why Have a Plan

What would happen if a football team lost their playbook to the opposition, or if you lost your marketing plan to the competition? You’d probably be able to put a value on your marketing plan at that point. The competition would definitely find it valuable.

Value of a Plan is in the Planning Process.

By discussing your strategies and tactics with your executive team and coming to a consensus, it will make things easier moving forward.

Use an impartial outside facilitator for the process to make sure that all of the necessary elements are in your plan. There are many advantages of using an outside facilitator. Using and outside facilitator provides many advantages.

  1. The facilitator has no axe to grind, and can therefore keep the planning process moving and ensure no partiality.
  2. A facilitator will ensure everyone has his/her say, and is involved in the process.
  3. There is a methodology to developing a marketing plan, and the facilitator will bring that to the table to ensure everything is covered.
  4. The plan will be delivered and distributed to all concerned to allow them complete instructions on their role, and what is needed from them.

A B2B marketing plan is essential to your business success, because marketing and sales are the lifeblood of your business .It is difficult to place a value on your B2B marketing plan, but it that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

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Customers

Do you know who is managing your customer experience? We promise we’re not trying to trick you.  Your customer experience is always changing and taking on new shapes. Recently Sirius Decisions asked over 200 companies that use a customer experience function, what goes into theirs.

They were able to find that most organizations are able to adapt their customer experience team/role and reap more benefits. A lot of businesses have made substantial improvements by coordinating around the journey of the buyer and are able to make similar leaps by matching the lifecycle of a customer after the sale. Instead of allowing the team to decide what to contribute on its own, they need to use the role of customer experience to align them. This model uses complexity and still gives organization, allowing you to maintain the ever changing point of view of the customer in your experience decisions.

Sirius Decisions data showed that nearly 60% of B2B companies use a customer experience function. Chief customer officer was the most used title, but their duties in regard to delivery were all over the map. The points below show what is typically included in the experience teams and their contributions.

 

Strategy

Strategy is implemented by 81% of organizations that were studied by Sirius Decisions. It is viewed as the most important aspect of the experience team’s role. They are supposed to be the delivery tone setters and are responsible for making alignment possible. Organizations without customer experience teams or ones that are not making experience functions run their coordinating strategy usually have muddled delivery and garbled efforts.

 

Insights

Insights were found to be the voice of customer research in 59% of the organizations that were studied. A key mission of the experience function is to represent the customer’s perspective across the organization. This mission can be performed most effectively with a comprehensive strategy for gathering insights. The customer experience function should lead collection of relationship feedback (e.g. Net Promoter Scores or customer loyalty research). Collection of other types of feedback, from transactional surveys about online or service experience to product-focused voice-of-the-customer information to social media monitoring, can be led or supported by the experience function. When the experience function does not own insight collection, it should be aware of all the research being done and serve as a clearinghouse for the timing of outreach as well as interpreting and sharing the information across functions.

 

Coordination

In 53% of the organizations studied customer lifecycle or journey mapping was being used. A mapping capability is a shared service that other functions can use for defining improvement to their experience contributions. It also provides a cross-functional perspective that shows how all areas of the business are interacting with customers. Skills include the ability to create inventory, activity and new experience maps.

 

Measurement

Measurement was used by 94% of the organizations. Measurement monitors what’s happening and tracks the impact of experience investments. Centralized measurement of experience areas impacted by cross-functional execution ensures objective evaluation of what’s happening.

 

Execution

Execution was found in 63% of customer marketing, 59% of customer service, 47% of the online experience and 43% of the account management success teams. These functions all deliver part of the customer experience, and in some companies, the experience function includes one or more of these areas. These aspects of execution in the experience function ensure a clear agenda on customer engagement and the point of view of the customer.

How all areas of the business are interacting with customers? Skills include the ability to create inventory, activity and new experience maps.

 

 

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Leads

 

Despite the many efforts of companies to prepare potential buyers to purchase, some of them just get hung up along the way and need to be helped through the process.  Lead nurturing is an effective way to keep your potential buyers engaged and funneling through the sales cycle.  The key to effective lead nurturing is to provide content for your potential buyers that keeps them engaged.  Effective lead nurturing will enable you to build a strong brand and solution preference well before your prospects enter the buying cycle.

Whether you are new to lead nurturing, or struggling your way through it, you too can create an effective lead nurturing strategy by accomplishing the 3 simple goals listed below.

  1.  Stay In Contact:  It is of the utmost importance that you receive permission to stay in contact with your prospects!  Without achieving this goal it will be extremely difficult to accomplish the next few goals listed below.  If your prospect loses interest they will slowly detach by either unsubscribing, or ignoring your messages altogether.

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Many companies know that content marketing is an important part of their company’s success, but wonder how they can make it more effective.  The answer…  Know your target audience!  The more familiar you become with your potential customers the more specific your content can be directed towards them.

Customers come with different wants and needs making it difficult for many companies to focus on a select few within their customer base.  Many businesses deal with this issue by breaking their customer base down into smaller niche groups to better understand their demands.  One helpful tool companies are using to help gain a better understanding of the needs of these groups is to create personas.  The question when developing customer personas is where exactly do you begin?  Take a good long look at some of the customer research that you’ve done over the years.  This will hopefully help you in answering the next few questions below which are essential answers in order to create well-rounded customer personas!

  1.  What is the marketing demographic information regarding each of your customer personas?  How well do you actually know each of your customer personas?  It is important to dissect each persona in order to get to know them better.  If you’re selling to B2C, becoming familiar with the personas age, gender, income, and family status may be helpful.  However, if you are targeting B2B customers it is more important to understand their position, their buying power, and the pains they experience doing their job.  This is basic information, which will give you a start in getting to know your customer personas.
  1.  What are their motivations?  What exactly is it that drives your customers to make the decisions that they make?  Are the motivated by want or need?  Are their decisions dictated by values or desire?  What exactly is it that brings these customers joy?  Finding out what it is that sparks your customer personas will help you better understand how to energize them about what you have to offer.  This will enable you to create content for your customer personas that will connect directly with them and what they want.
  1.  What is holding them back?  One of the great benefits of content marketing is that it provides a stage for you to reach out to your personas.  If for example there are things that are either scaring or frustrating them you have an opportunity to reach out and solve these issues before they become bigger problems down the road.  As you continue to get to know each persona it is important to find out what exactly it is that holds them back.
  1.  How are they getting their information?  Customers are becoming more and more savvy making information a vital part of any decision.  Where exactly are your personas getting their information?  Are they getting it from the web, or are they possibly still utilizing tools such magazines or the newspaper?  Finding out where they obtain their information enables you to know how they can be reached.
  1.  How do they prefer to interact?  When establishing a content strategy it is important to consider how you plan to reach out to your customer personas.  Each persona may have a preference of how they like to interact with your company.  While some may like a well-versed explanation regarding what you offer others may like a brief summation so they can get on with their day.  By understanding how to spark interaction from your customers you may not only be drawing them in initially, but also driving them to keep coming back.

Answering these seemingly simple questions while developing your customer personas can either make or break your content marketing endeavors.  Equipped with this vital information you can create a targeted mix of content addressing both the wants and needs of each customer persona.  This interaction will engage your potential customers better preparing them to be funneled successfully through the buying cycle.