Marketing Automation Monday comes to NYC

Written by Rockannand on November 27, 2010 – 11:31 am -

Colleague and fellow lead management  expert Jep Castelein, founder of Leadsloth, started last month a “meetup” discussion group that focuses on Marketing Automation and Lead Management. Called Marketing Automation Monday, the goal of this periodic event is three-fold: learn more about Marketing Automation, get to know other Marketing Automation professionals, and have fun doing so.

Since Jep is based in the Bay area, I responded to see if we could bring his concept to the Northeast. So I volunteered to host one in New York City and possibly for Boston. Here is what we have scheduled thus far:

Our agenda for NYC is set with an informal panel discussion on drip marketing. We will kickoff at 6pm with networking, refreshments and snacks.  At 6:30pm we’ll start an informal panel discussion about drip marketing in which several people will present their campaigns. Questions from the audience are encouraged. And after that we’ll have some more time for networking. Any ideas are welcome.

The Event

The goal of this event is three-fold: learn more about Marketing Automation, get to know other Marketing Automation professionals, and have fun doing so. You can read more at Jep’s original blog post. We’ll cover topics around Marketing Automation, including:

  • Lead Management
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Revenue Performance Management
  • Demand Generation
  • B2B Email Marketing

The meetups will focus on best practices in Marketing Automation, not so much on implementation details. It is not specific to any Marketing Automation vendor, nor is this event sponsored by any vendors. However, vendors and consultants are welcome to attend, but no selling please.

Jep has lead two meetups thus far in SF and Palo Alto, with great success. Here is Jep’s recap.

Join the LinkedIn Group

There is a group that was started by Saad Hameed a while back, the Marketing Automation Association LinkedIn Group. All future events will be announced via this Group, so if you want to be kept up to date, please register for this group.

Your Ideas Please

Because this is the first time we have organized this event, we’ll need lots of input on the ideal format. We’re curious to hear your input. Feel free to leave a comment or email us (jep at leadsloth dot com).


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation | 1 Comment »

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 3: Moving from “Average” to “Good”

Written by Rockannand on November 26, 2010 – 9:38 am -

Over four years ago, Laura Ramos, when she was part of Forrester’s fantastic  B2B Marketing analyst group wrote that:

“B2B marketers can no longer afford to emphasize lead volume over lead quality. This practice reduces sales efficiency, increases costs, and fuels the gap between sales and marketing.”

Boy I could not agree more with Laura. At Forrester, she helped developed a maturity model that outlined 4 levels of evolution that B2B marketers attain in moving from average to market leading. After numerous marketing automation projects, I have adapted the maturity model to 3 levels that I label average, good and best. In this post, we will look at the profile of the “average” marketing organization and what steps do they need to follow to become “good”.

Start with an Honest Assessment
But let’s be honest here. Moving from a culture focused on quantity to one that practices the tenants of quality and lead management is not something that happens over night or even in a year. So what’s a B2B marketing leadership to do in our instant gratification business culture, where CEOs and sales organizations want marketing programs to produce results in weeks and months, not quarters and years?

It starts with B2B marketers making an honest assessment of how they capture, qualify, nurture, route and measure leads. Most companies I work with are at best average in their lead management processes.

Let’s Examine What it Means to be “Average”
The average B2B marketing organizations are almost exclusively focused on lead quantity. As a result they have a “one and done” mindset when it comes to lead generation campaigns and events. No sooner are they done with an event or email blast, then they are onto the next. Marketing has no standard lead management processes defined as they pass basically raw leads to sales.

Note, Marketing Sherpa recently reported that 8 out of 10 marketers pass raw leads to sales with no further qualification.

All of these “hand-raisers” who are not sales-ready (70-80% of initial inquiries) are ignored and never touched again by sales or marketing. Check out some of the other stats that are seen at average companies in Part 1 of this series.

What Should You Focus on to Become “Good”?
The following steps should be prioritized and will take anywhere from 6-12 months to implement and perfect:

  • Develop a common lead quality definition that is agreed to by sales. Add qualification questions to web site registration pages, telesales scripts, email campaigns and any other process that interacts with new and returning prospect visitors.
  • Close the loop between marketing and sales to ensure efficient lead handoff processes and eliminate bottlenecks. Establish initial lead scoring and routing rules for determining sales-ready leads.
  • Develop automated lead nurturing programs with multiple themes tied to the problem(s) you solve. See Part 2 of this series for how to set this up.
  • Capture and publish metrics that show the impact of the lead nurturing programs of sales success and sales pipeline development.
  • Develop permission-based practices focused on data hygiene that keep contact information up-to-date.
  • Implement one of the various Marketing Automation applications (from Eloqua, Marketo, Silverpop and others) to successfully enable these practices. For more analysis on the Marketing Automation players, check out David Raab’s assessment research and blog.

In our next installment of the Lead Nurturing series, we will discuss the steps needed to move from “good” to “best”.

Related Posts:

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 1: Making the Case for 2011 Marketing Plans

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 2: Where do I Start?

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment | No Comments »

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 2: Where Do I Start?

Written by Rockannand on November 15, 2010 – 8:39 am -

Hopefully in Part 1 of this lead nurturing series, you were able to use those stats to build a compelling case in your 2011 marketing plan for lead nurturing program investments. Since 3 out of 4 new leads generated end up buying at some point in the next 18-24 months, lead nurturing should no longer be a wish-list program, but a competitive necessity. But for most B2B marketers, figuring where to start is always a daunting task.

To make matters worse, many approaches tend to over-complicate things. Marketers develop complex multi-touch campaigns that overwhelm their opt-in audience with too many communications and too many messages. Buyers become not only confused, but suffer from subscriber fatigue.

So where do you start with a simple formulaic lead nurturing strategy?

Thought LeadershipLead nurturing fundamentally starts with a sound Thought Leadership program, focusing content on the problem you solve with case studies of how your client solves the problem. To keep it simple, I try to break down the problem into 3-4 themes that relate to specific buyers. This thematic approach becomes the basis for the campaigns we will drive into your target audiences over a 9-12 month period.

Each quarter we focus on 1 theme. Why multiple themes? Because your target buyers each have their hot-buttons that draw them into a particular business problem. For example for a materials management software company with a focus on reducing costs and waste with indirect materials using Point-of-Use devices, one theme might be looking at the high cost for Industrial Manufacturers of waste in safety supplies or in tool usage. In our example above, one buyer may be interested in stories involving the control of safety equipment while another has a waste problem with tooling. It is all about delivering relevant messages to each buyer at the right time.

The formula to developing great content lies in having a variety of media tactics to deliver the primary message of the theme. For example one really good white paper (from a reputable 3rd party). Then develop a webinar on the white paper topic and have a client participate in the webinar (be sure to record so you can repeat and use in subsequent campaign waves). Also, develop one or more case studies, again focusing on that theme that can be dispersed via different mediums.

The key to lead nurturing programs lies in consistency so spend the entire quarter with bi-weekly outbound campaigns that highlight the theme, each with a different deliverable. First the white paper, then the webinar, then the case study, with links each time to the other content on that topic. We then repeat this process for at least two more quarters with various themes. You can listen to this podcast to hear more about this thought leadership approach and the results that were achieved for a client.

If you follow Brian Carroll and Ardath Albee’s approach to repackaging and re-purposing content, you will find that you already have most of the content you need to work with. The trick is how to package (or re-purpose) correctly to feed it to your target audience on a regular basis in varying ways (whitepaper, webinar, case study, blog post).

REMEMBER: it takes 7 to 9 proactive communications to get your buyer to opt-in and read the message or theme you are trying to deliver. Once they do that then your other complimentary content will have more appeal and increase the likelihood of launching the sales process.

It is very important to keep the approach of simplifying the lead nurturing process into something that is focused and meaningful to your potential buyers.

In our next installment of this lead nurturing series, we will discuss the other aspects of program development that you need to focus on to move from “average” to “good”.

Stay tuned.

Related posts:

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 1: Making the Case for 2011 Marketing Plans

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 3: Moving From Average to Good

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best


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Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Thought Leadership | 4 Comments »

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 1: Making the Case for 2011 Marketing Plans

Written by Rockannand on November 12, 2010 – 6:57 am -

I just finished assisting a client develop a marketing plan for 2011 and they needed the most help with the justification for the expanded programs for lead generation and lead nurturing. Here are some of the arguments we used to educate the executive management team. We started by asking the team to consider these statistics that have been reported (by many B2B marketing authorities) over the past few years for B2B tech product companies:

  • Only 3-5% of new lead inquiries are “sales-ready”.
  • 70-80% of the other inquiries are latent demand that will buy within 2 years, BUT are not called on by sales.
  • 87 out of 100 deals are left behind by sales.
  • It takes 7 to 9 proactive communications to gain a B2B decision-maker’s attention.
  • Best-in-class sales and marketing teams generate 4x closed deals than average teams from the same pool of leads.

My message to management team was to optimize their efforts at converting the leads they already had into deals vs. only generating leads at the top of the funnel. I used Sirius Decisions’ recent study showing the sales and marketing waterfall conversion numbers of average, good and best companies to get the executive team’s attention.

Sales Lead Funnel

Funnel Stage

Average

Good

Best

Inquiries

10,000

10,000

10,000

MQL

5%

7%

10%

500

700

1000

SAL

58%

65%

75%

290

455

750

SQL

50%

58%

60%

145

264

450

Closed

22%

26%

30%

32

69

135

Source: Sirius Decisions 2010

We developed budget scenarios of program costs required to impact the number of closed deals. Scenario 1 involved generating more inquiries at the top of the funnel. Scenario 2 involved lead nurturing campaigns to increase the conversion rates at each step in the waterfall. The cost difference was significant – almost twice the program cost. And Scenario 2 included the cost of a new marketing automation system to replace the old email “blaster” they were using.

The case is just too compelling FOR lead nurturing supported by marketing automation technology. In the next three parts of this series on lead nurturing, I will look at proven approaches to get started and how to focus efforts that will move an “average” performing marketing team to “good” and for a “good” one to attain market leading status. With a 4x improvement opportunity, what CEO and CFO would not listen to reason.

Stay tuned.

Related posts:

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 2: Where do I Start?

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 3: Moving From Average to Good

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best


Posted in Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment | 4 Comments »

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