Posted On

marketing automation

 

Marketing is a fundamental component for most businesses, but not all campaigns are successful. But why is that? Converting leads and establishing long-term customer relationships can be difficult without the appropriate tactics. This is why marketing automation is a beneficial and powerful tool for marketers. It breathes life into traditional marketing techniques that aren’t keeping pace with digital marketing strategies. With an automated marketing program, you can continually nurture your prospects and encourage repeat business.

 

Building a Foundation

Marketing automation software allows organizations to amplify marketing and ultimately increase revenue at a quicker rate. However, if you haven’t established a presence within your market, you won’t have a solid starting point for engaging a larger audience. You’ll need a strong foundation of organic leads or an existing marketing database in order to benefit from this type of automated marketing.

Read more »

Posted On

partner

To find the right content marketing partner, marketers need to analyze four critical areas when developing their content marketing plan. 

Strategy

Before you get your content marketing strategy off the ground you need a plan. But there are a few things you need to determine first. Who are attempting to reach? What are their pains? Do you know the types of questions that are asking them self as they move through the buying lifecycle. Do you have effective messaging to reach them? Do you have different content identified for different stages of the buying lifecycle?  Some of this may sound very familiar to many of you. Buyer Personas are the foundation of your content marketing strategy and if you don’t have those defined, you should be working on your content plan.

Your strategy should cover the buyer persona questions listed above as well as your goals, reach, budget and metrics to determine success of your content plan. Read more »

Posted On

 

Content StrategyCreating a content strategy should be simple right? All you have to do is strategically provide content which will engage your audience.  Though it sounds simple enough, there really is a lot more to it than meets the eye.  Ever heard the phrase, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care!”?  More important than speaking to your audience is listening to what they have to say.

Customers know what they want, and tell us every day through keyword searches and their social media channels.  By analyzing the data provided by these sources you can gain a better understanding of how to connect with your target audience.

Keyword research tools can help you understand how your potential customers speak, what content they’re after, and what stage of the buying lifecycle they are in.  Social media provides you with a way to see the types of content your customers want, the context of the keywords they use as well as the sentiment, and where this need is located.

Once you have a general idea of how to connect with your target market, you can use this information to improve your content strategy.  Listed below are a few simple ways to do this. Read more »

Posted On

ideas

GE management has recently stated that they would rather spend $30 million to release an imperfect prototype of a new product and gather customer feedback, rather than spending $300 million for a completed product.

This example shows a shift in focus from delivering a perfect offering to an emphasis on speed to market and ability to iterate. This demonstrates how an ethos once exemplified by startups and small companies has jumped to one of the world’s largest brands.

Marketing organizations are adopting this approach as well these days. While it brings clear benefits, it does raise some questions: How do you know when a marketing effort is ready? How do you know when enough is good enough?

Companies trying to answer this question have to change how they evaluate their readiness. In marketing, readiness usually revolves around the concept of perfection. Marketing assets and efforts are evaluated against the standard of being the best they could possibly be. While this makes sense in a few cases, it’s often overkill for assets used in short-lived marketing campaigns. In the end an imperfect asset in use is more effective than a nearly perfect asset that is being developed. This is especially true when your competition is already out in the market with 5 other assets just like it.

In order to side step this trap of pursuing perfection, readiness needs to be determined by evaluating whether the asset or marketing effort addresses buyer concerns and guides them through the buying cycle. If it provides value to the majority of buyers by giving them the information they need, when they need it… it’s ready!

This approach can reduce the expensive process that marketing efforts go through as they are reworked in search of perfection. It can stop edge cases and exceptions from delaying the progress of marketing efforts that would be useful to the majority of buyers.

Changing your standard from “perfect” to “effective” creates a more meaningful measure and ultimately helps you get to market faster.

Posted On

1,2,3Over the years the many challenges associated with Demand Generation haven’t changed much.  There have always been skilled sales people that just weren’t selling, but assumptively thinking that it was the market they were in.

While hot markets will come and go, the skills to effectively generate the demand for your product remain the same.  The most important part to selling is finding ways to effectively engage in meaningful conversations with your target audience to positively affect their thinking regarding your product.

Unfortunately many sales and marketing departments take a lead generation approach when attempting to address their demand generation issues.  Generally a lead generation approach consists of selecting a value proposition, purchasing a list, and then attempting to engage with these leads through calls and emails.  When complaints begin to file in regarding the results of this method, excuses then become the reasoning as to why this approach failed.  Perhaps the value proposition wasn’t right, or maybe those contacting the leads weren’t trained well enough.  There could be a hundred reasons why it failed, but rather than make excuses it may be time to consider a new approach.

The bottom line is if you want to generate demand for your product/service there are 3 things that you must learn to do better than your competition. Read more »

Posted On

secrets

The vast majority of B2B marketers are developing content as part of their marketing mix. They must be….right? There is an exorbitant amount of information in regards to content marketing everywhere these days. If you do a search on google for “content marketing” you’ll get a billion search results.

Yes a billion results, which is not a typo.

Among those billion search results, you won’t find many marketers sharing the struggles and hurdles associated with effective content marketing. Here are a couple dirty secrets about content marketing nobody wants to talk about.

Everybody wants to create content. Nobody wants to discuss distribution.

The digital world is very crowded; by having a distribution plan in place you can make sure your content is used and viewed. The old “one and done” model no longer exists. In fact, we often advise our clients about the rule of 5. When you develop content, you should plan 5 different ways to distribute and reuse that content across your different marketing channels. Read more »

Posted On

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.

graph

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.

Posted On

 

 

pic

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.

Posted On

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.

Posted On

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.