Items in the‘Lead Nurturing’ Category
I must admit, I’m a bit of stats nut when it comes to forming an argument and making my case for something, like whether the Celtics can win it all this year, or saying its time to break up the Red Sox and start all over.
Rethinking the DemandGen Process: Quantity or Quality?
But when it comes to B2B sales and marketing, I am going to get on my soapbox and tell all it’s time to rethink the entire demand generation process. Why? Because looking at a variety of stats from some of my favorite authorities like Gartner, Forrester, Marketing Sherpa and Sirius Decision tell a very dark story about current practices that still plague the B2B industry and have a big-time drag on revenue and profitability growth. These stats represent some of the worst practices that are a carryover from the way we did things in the good old days when buyers actually took your calls and read your email. They also point to an obsession with lead quantity rather than lead quality.
Sales-Ready vs. NOT Sales-Ready
Let’s start at the top. Basically, today when someone hits your web site for the first time and registers for something of interest, only 10-15% of those folks are sales-ready. Most of the rest, 70% or more are not ready to engage beyond this initial opt-in for that white paper or webinar. So going all Lady Gaga and calling all those people who downloaded that cool info-graphic you just published or who dropped by your booth at Info-Mania Marketing World Expo is impressive, but a waste of time. Its not hard to figure out the ones that sales can work on, but that 70+% group will be quickly discarded by your sales team.
What Happens to the 70+% That are NOT Sales-Ready?
The latent demand ones typically just fall by the way side. And that is not only a shame, but a HUGE waste of your leadgen dollars. That is something your CEO or CFO will remind you of come budget review time because 3 out of 4 of those leads will end up buying sometime in the future. More damning though is stat #3 from the worst practice hit list: 9 out of 10 of those who buy, do so from someone other than who started things off initially. Think about that one for a moment. Let it roll around in that rational analytical mind of yours before you start reaching for the bottle of Tequila.
“You Tawkin’ to ME?”
Point #4 speaks to buyer behavior today that is driven to total distraction with Smart Phones and texting and tweets and stop-by workers and bosses. With B2B buyers bombarded by 3-5,000 messages daily, it takes 11-13 proactive outbound communications to interrupt those ADHD buyers. That’s a lot of emails, phone calls and banner ads loaded with supposedly juicy content before that target buyer asks, “you tawkin’ to me?” and pays attention. It’s not necessarily that the content or the offer or the call-to-action is irrelevant or weak. You have to be committed, be persistent and keep trying.
What’s the Payoff for the Shift to Quality?
Finally, though we have painted a dark and hopeless picture here with the state of things in B2B lead management behavior, the real message to deliver to your sales team and your bosses is that doing it right will make a huge difference in revenues and commissions for everyone. Sirius Decisions annual study of the B2B market repeatedly report that the best-in-class sales and marketing teams generate four (4) times the number of closed deals than average team from the same number of leads.
If that doesn’t get your bosses’ attention when you make your case for making some changes in your lead management practices, then you have a different problem to deal with friends.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Uncategorized | No Comments »
We keep hearing the stories of great results from lead nurturing, only to find that achieving them is much easier said than done. Why is that?
- Incomplete strategy. Marketers don’t take into account all of the components needed for good execution of a lead nurturing campaign. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
- Poor execution. We are all pressed for time, juggling many projects so we cut corners, making mistakes that lead to disappointing results.
- Analysis paralysis. We over-think each aspect of the campaign, the content, the audience, the steps, frequency. Searching for the perfect campaign, but we only get wrapped around the axle and nothing gets done.
There are many more reasons why B2B marketers fail at lead nurturing, but these are the three biggies in my book. But first some context for what I have been doing of late.
How The Lead Gen Process is Like Fishing
Before I started my consulting practice in 2001, a colleague of mine and I experimented for over a year with an approach to demand generation that led me to marketing automation in 1999. Our approach had these key attributes.
- Strong content that demonstrated thought leadership not product expertise.
- Automated, rules-based processes that generate new leads and manage existing ones.
- List segmentation to be able to test campaign tactics across many audiences simultaneously.
- Digitally-based, with web tracking to follow interest, behavior and determine sales readiness.
- A heavy focus on outcomes realized in 6-8 weeks
What about the analogy to fishing? The secret to fishing and catching the most is always to have your pole in the water casting out because you never know when the fish will pass by. The problem with fishing is that you can only have one rod working one spot at a time. If there’s nothing there, you move to the next spot. It takes time and effort to hit all the spots.
Traditional leadgen campaigns have also been like fishing in that each campaign has required execution one at a time – one campaign, one cast. If no bites, we move on. Batch and Blast. We really don’t know WHY the campaign failed because it could have been wrong day, wrong week/month, poor content, bad list. Just like fishing: Wrong bait, wrong tide, wrong weather conditions, wrong spot.
Live in 45: Fishing Many Virtual Ponds at Once
What if marketers, could execute the same campaigns to many target segments with different offers, subject lines and headlines? Marketing automation affords you the unique opportunity to hit all those “spots” (target segments) simultaneously and virtually using different types of bait (tactics and offers).Of course, the tools have had the ability to do these practices for a while now, but my experience is that the practices have lacked focus on outcomes and lots of testing.
This is where the Live in 45 system comes in to play.
The name of the game today is knowing exactly where to focus scarce sales and marketing resources and on the best opportunity and high return programs. For B2B marketers that means accelerating the learning process of what tactics work and what do not and what target segments are better audiences for your products and services. Unfortunately, this appears to be where the rubber meets the nails, potholes and the breakdown lane as marketers have focused their program objectives too much on activity and not on outcomes. When you are focused on the wrong metrics and questionable goals, it takes much longer to learn where the fish are and where they are not, what bait to use, what time of day and tides, etc.
The Ultimate Live in 45 Lead Nurturing Program
The best fisherman test and measure All the time. They learn from their mistakes faster than the rest. The secret is not magic, but simply “outfishing” the competition with a system that works and works well.
I call it the Live in 45 system. It is a focused lead nurturing strategy that overcomes the failures mentioned above. Results you can expect in the first 90 days might consist of finding and closing over $100,000 of new business from “dead leads” that sales overlooked and doubling the number of marketing qualified opportunities passed to the sales team.
I have decided to offer the program as a 6-week guided implementation delivered in a group setting for a fraction of what my clients have paid in custom engagement. Its called the “Ultimate ‘Live in 45’ Lead Nurturing Program”.
Check it out here and let me know what you think. The inaugural program kicks off next Tuesday November 1. I am excited at the prospects and welcome your questions and feedback.
Tags: aligning sales and marketing, B2B Marketing, dead leads, Henry Bruce, lead gen best practices, lead generation, Lead Nurturing, live in 45, Marketing Automation, marketing automation best practices, Rock Annand, step by step lead nurturing process
Posted in Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation | 1 Comment »
Last month, I participated in a FOCUS round table call hosted by Craig Rosenberg (the Funnelholic ) where the focus was on defining marketing automation success and how to get there. (Listen to the recorded round table here.)
In looking at how to define success, I highlighted 4 lessons learned and 5 keys to success.
Let’s start with the lessons learned from the past 3-4 years:
- That if sales and executive management does not see and experience tangible results that are fundamentally different from before the project started, then the program initiative support from top management and the sales team will sour.
- The skill sets required by the marketing team are different and more demanding than originally thought or anticipated. The concepts and processes are challenging for the current crop of B2B marketers. We need to think like our buyer – outside-in vs inside-out thinking. Focus on buyer needs and problems, not your products. Build relationships and conduct conversations vs “broadcasting” and promoting the product. Think like a publisher and develop relevant content for buyers. Develop analytical skills to identify and spot trends in target markets/customers
- Lead nurturing/management requires thought, planning, patience and constant testing to determine what works and what does not work.
- To quote Jeff Ernst of Forrester, “the full benefits are hidden behind old company habits.” ((4/26/11 research report, B2B Marketers Must Better Prepare for Marketing Automation. It takes 2 years or more for companies to move beyond simple lead scoring and drip campaigns to multi-touch lead nurturing that use the much more powerful and effective behavioral-based targeting capabilities.
The five (5) keys to successful MA project are:
- B2B marketers must figure out exactly HOW marketing automation will optimize and augment the current marketing plan. The project plan and business case must clearly articulate how the investment in automation ensures a client acquisition strategy and plan that delivers better results (over 12-24 months) than one without that investment.
- Marketing leadership must focus on developing a strong and supportive relationship with sales leadership and the top “A” reps. Remember that marketing automation is all about “sales enablement”, so make sure from the beginning that the top reps and sales team understands EXACTLY how automation will make them more money.
- Develop and execute a campaign in the 1st 90 days that delivers a significant WIN for the sales team. Sales and executives suffer from ADHD when it comes to results.
- Good users of Sales Force Automation realize the benefits of MA earlier and to a greater extent than bad SFA users. If Salesforce.com is broken, fix it before you try to put in MA or you will regret it.
- Marketing’s #1 goal is to serve sales – they are your #1 customer so make sure you meet often to gain agreement on lead definitions, prospect qualification rules, attributes of ideal client and business/market targets. Assume nothing and over communicate, especially in the first 90-120 days.
Lots to think about, but after doing these projects for over 12 years, the ability to succeed has gotten harder not easier. Under promise and over deliver to overcome the ADHD factor and your marketing automation project may live to see year 2 and beyond.
Listen to the entire audio of the roundtable here.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
Marketing Automation Monday snuck in between snow storms and came to Boston on January 31st on the campus of Wentworth Institute of Technology. A hardy group ignored the storm threats to share their ideas and best practices on the topic of lead nurturing. Below is a quick review of what was discussed.
Attendee Company Profile
Similar to the December 6th meet-up in NYC, we had a very diverse group, with each attendee representing a kaleidoscope of business and marketing expertise and experience. For example, our group had representatives from public relations, B2B strategy consulting, academia (continuing education) and applied market research among others. All had experience supporting clients and working for businesses with a primary focus on sales and marketing organizations and processes. Needless to say this was a VERY experienced group with impressive resumes.
With that in mind, I started the discussion by focusing on some questions that business leaders and marketers need to ask themselves as they begin to develop their lead nurturing programs:
- What tactics work best to “connect” to your target audience?
- How do we stay engaged with our audience as they move through their stages of the buy cycle?
- How do we conduct the “conversation” to stay relevant and build credibility with buyers?
- What content/events “convert” our target audience when they are ready to buy?
Tactics That Work Best
Webinars continue to be a staple of most of the attendees. Though it was noted that webinars were a bit more effective in the 2000-2006 period, the key still seems to be having great guest speakers, such as a prominent analyst or recognized industry expert, as well as real customers. Those using that approach routinely see 100’s of registrants and listeners. The important point is that for lead qualification purposes, those that register and attend are considered far more qualified than those that simply download a white paper (even multiple white papers and/or articles).
For the public relations point of view, PR now is heavily involved in targeting the “influencers” – analysts, bloggers, publishers, etc – using social networking and direct email to pitch stories that have been personalized to the needs of each influencer. What is most interesting, though not surprising, is that marketers and PR specialists are using the 1-to-1 method via twitter, email and phone to pitch the story to increase the odds of breaking through the email clutter of these influencers to get their stories heard and published. This is especially effective with the blogosphere and twitter crowd.
I also noted the use of the tickler file follow up process (all manual) for those that are interested, but not sales-ready. The follow up employed is always a phone call and email to each contact as their numbers for follow up can easily be done via the personal touch.
The Need for Content
The questions above had the group talking about the challenge of having engaging content to serve up to prospects. In one particular and well-related story, we heard how an executive built a very successful consulting services business. The secret was creating a series of low-end/ low cost transactional events, such as white papers, workshops, seminars, national and international conferences. These events and deliverable were tightly integrated in pre-defined sequences that were pointing the way for the prospect (and existing clients) towards larger comprehensive consulting engagements.
There were several aspects of these low-end “events” that were most striking to me:
1. All of the content and workshops/seminars were developed and delivered by their field consultants who ran the larger consulting engagements.
2. These consultants and the inside sales reps who did phone follow up to all of the event attendees were comp’d on how many attendees were converted to buy more workshops and consulting engagements.
3. Their marketing spend through these events and content were paid for by their prospects. Nothing was given away for free. Impressive.
Staying Engaged Over Time
Other aspects of the story related above warrant further treatment. The real key for this consulting firm was to keep their most valuable asset – their consultants – in front of prospects and clients considering more services. As prospective buyers attended the workshops, seminars and conferences, the consultants were able to deepen the relationship and the conversation often times with the same individual and others at the same company over time. This company had developed a number of “assessment” instruments that the consultants could provide buyers to sort of take their temperature and let the buyer evaluate how they compared to others in their industry.
This company clearly understood the stages of their audience’s buy cycle and buyer types and had turned everyone into a sales person, each one being held accountable for lead development, lead nurturing and deal closing. To coin a very old sales adage, “Focus on your ABC’s” … or “Always Be Closing”.
Note: I plan to blog more on this story as the full account of what they did bears repeating for all of us whether we market and sell services, software or industrial products.
What’s Next for MA Monday in Boston?
Our location sponsor, Wentworth Institute of Technology has agreed to host future meet-ups so we will be looking for the next one Monday February 28th, March 7th or March 14th. Hopefully the snow will have melted a little and more folks will join us then.
Requested topics for future meet-ups are (in no particular order):
- Lead nurturing … continued (we only scratched the surface this week)
- Leveraging social media in lead management
- Analytics, metrics and reporting
- Creating better marketing-to-sales alignment
- Lead scoring and marketing-to-sales hand-offs and conversion processes
- CRM integration and sales enablement
For those who attended in Boston on 1/31 and others who are interested for future meetups, all are advised to join the Marketing Automation Association Group on LinkedIn. Here you will be able to keep up on happenings of the various meetups taking place across the country.
Tags: Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation
Posted in Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing Automation | No Comments »
I am pleased to announce that Marketing Automation Monday for Boston is no longer “TBA”. The date is set for January 31st from 6 to 8:30 pm and will take place in downtown Boston across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts. Here is the registration link to reserve your spot.
What is Marketing Automation Monday?
What is Marketing Automation Monday you say? You can get caught up by reading these prior posts last month on the one I led in NYC:
These meet-ups are the brain child of Jep Castelein and the LinkedIn Group, Marketing Automation Association, he co-founded last year with Saad Hameed. These face-to-face gatherings are addressing a big need for B2B marketers – providing a networking forum where practices, experiences and stories can be shared among the vast community of professionals striving to execute winning demand generation programs and processes.
Background for Boston Meet-up
What has me excited about this one is I found several other passionate marketers like me who have signed on for the Marketing Automation Monday cause. They come from very different backgrounds, representing constituents and followers that span numerous industries as well as the Boston-based academia. They are Ann Grackin of Chain Link Research and Dean Larry Carr of the College of Professional and Continuing Education at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Ann is a longtime colleague I first met back in the mid-90’s when she worked for the industry research firm Benchmarking Partners, founded by another analyst veteran, Ted Rybeck. I was running marketing at the time for the Swedish Supply Chain software company Industri-Matematik Int’l (IMI) when we met. What I will always remember of our first encounter was that Ann was the only person I knew who had implemented SAP R-3 AND i2 and lived to talk about it!! The best part of that story was how she laughed with each anecdote she shared of the experience. At IMI, SAP was our #1 competitor and i2 was fast becoming another rival, so you can imagine what I did with those anecdotes in our active deals. ‘Nuff said.
On the academia side, WIT recently retooled their continuing education program with the hiring in 2010 of Dean Larry Carr. Dean Carr has collaborated with ChainLink Research and recently announced a new professional certificate program called 21st Century Demand and Supply Chain Management. I have just started to dig into the details of this program, but know from experience that anything involving Ann Grackin will be high quality and worth considering. In the interest of creating stronger connections with the business community and professionals in the greater Boston area, Dean Carr has agreed to host the Boston meet-ups to be a part of the networking and the learning process that is the driver for Marketing Automation Monday across the country
Focus on Lead Nurturing
Our topic next Monday is Lead Nurturing and with the enthusiasm of our hosts and many Beantown marketing colleagues, we expect a large turnout and lively conversation. You can register at this link now. Our downtown location at 550 Huntington Avenue, in the Faculty Dining Room at WIT’s Beatty Hall, makes attending convenient via public transportation or by car (parking will be available I’m told).
Who should attend? We encourage all marketing professionals from executive level to those hands-on with program execution to attend. We also encourage sales professionals that want to learn more about how marketing automation drives better opportunities into their pipelines to attend as well. We can handle 40-50 people so bring a colleague on Monday the 31st starting at 6pm. We will have refreshments and snacks.
We hope to see you there.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday, Marketing Strategy | 1 Comment »
- Close over 4 times the number of deals as “average” firms
- Close twice as many deals as “good” firms.
These are eye-popping numbers to consider, especially with economic times that demand that businesses make every opportunity count.
What does “Market Leading” Mean?
The market leading firms are adept at aligning their people around marketing-to-sales processes enabled with CRM and Marketing Automation tools that optimize their efforts and maximize target audience reach. The best B2B marketing organizations are almost exclusively focused on lead quality. They emphasize buyer behavior and compare to well defined buyer personas in order to build targeted campaigns that move prospects through the buyer stages. They have metrics in place that clearly show management and sales the impact of demand generation programs on the pipeline, closed deals and corporate revenue. Marketing and sales are tightly aligned in terms of people interaction, lead flow process and the use of technology to support every aspect of client acquisition and retention. They practice Lean process improvement principles to eliminate waste in marketing and sales resources and optimize every dollar of sales and marketing spend.
What Should “Good” Firms Focus on to Become “Market Leading”?
In part 3 of the series, we detailed the steps required to move from “average” to “good” performance. With those practices in place, we can now turn our attention to the following programs to implement in order to achieve marketing leading lead management status
- Establish lead quality teams consisting of marketing, inside sales, sales admin and possibly the sales team and conduct weekly lead hand-off reviews.
- Develop comprehensive buyer personas that profile key buyer types such as end-user, influencer, buyer/decision-maker and executive (CXOs).
- Develop progressive profiling programs that deepen the intelligence for each buyer type in your CRM/Marketing Automation database. Utilize prospecting tools such as Cardbrowser, Hoovers, Netprospex, Zoominfo, etc to automate the process of keeping contact information fresh and complete.
- Create comprehensive content maps for the key buyer types and for each buyer stage:
Awareness > Inquiry > Consideration > Purchase.
After mapping existing content, create and/or re-purpose content to fill any gaps. Ensure that content consists of whitepapers, webinars, short articles, case studies, videos (2-3 minutes) and podcasts (5-7 minutes).
- Develop lead nurturing campaigns that segment by buyer type and buyer stage. Deliver personalized value propositions by these segments to deepen engagement and optimize buyer stage conversions.
- Develop metrics based on corporate objectives such as revenue growth and customer retention. Use marketing dashboards and reports to present marketing’s contribution to revenue and pipeline to senior management on a monthly/quarterly basis.
Comments from others on the earlier installment in this lead nurturing series have highlighted other resources and approaches to consider. I will wrap things up with a final post that links to these resources.
Tags: B2B Marketing, buyer personas, Lead management, Lead Nurturing, Sirius Decisions
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Thought Leadership, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »
Marketing Automation Monday came to NYC on December 6th (a date that will live in Patriots infamy in the demolition of the Jets !!). We had a great turnout with 15 opting in to share their ideas and best practices on the topic of lead nurturing and drip campaigns. Below is a quick review of what was discussed.
Attendee Company Profile
First off, I was struck by how many of the meetup attendees come from start-up companies. Two companies in fact have yet to launch while all are new to the use of marketing automation and lead nurturing.
With that in mind, I started the discussion by focusing on some questions that marketers need to ask themselves as they begin to develop their lead nurturing programs:
- What tactics are the best for getting our messages to your target audience, both decision-makers and influencers?
- How do we stay engaged with our audience as they move through their stages of the buy cycle?
- How do we conduct the “conversation” to stay relevant to the buyer’s and build credibility and trust so they see our company as a thought leader?
- What content and offers will result in a positive conversion when our target audience is ready to buy?
The Need for Content
These questions had the group talking about the challenge of having engaging content to serve up to prospects. Several companies use research papers from analysts firms such as Gartner to send out on issues that prospects have shown prior interest, while webinars is a frequent tactic for others. In the case of webinars, one company found their registrations had dropped significantly. In response they experimented with creating 4-5 part series, sometimes with a fee for registration. Registrations did in fact improve.
In most cases, companies are actually sitting on significant quantities of relevant content, usually in paper-form or buried in web sites. In many cases, the content is not readily consumable by your target audience. It is either too long (45 minute webinar, 5-10 page white paper) or only available in one format (lengthy PDFs). Re-purposing the content into shorter briefs (350-400 words) or using 2-3 minute video casts focused on one key idea at a time can be more effective in getting busy decision-makers to opt-in. One company send out individual email and phone follow ups to prospects using that technique.
Buyer Profiles and Personas
Several companies reported success in developing buyer profiles that they had mapped out for each of the buyer types that they target. None of the companies had actually mapped these buyer profiles to content for purposes of automated drip campaigns as of yet, but most are working towards that goal. The active development of profiles is an important part of successful nurturing programs.
One indicates that their inside business development group nurtures the old fashion way by calling (65% of the time) and emailing (35% of the time) to provide collected articles and research reports that they want their prospects to be aware of. Their approach is more of a service, then a promotional appeal, but very labor intensive. They had found that their group email practices were being received as SPAM and blocked, hence the use of individual email and calling.
Campaign Approaches: How to Get Started
Given the newness of the group to the actual practice of lead nurturing, especially with Marketing Automation tools, we reviewed an approach that helps B2B marketers get started and gain traction early on. The approach focuses on demonstrating thought leadership to your target audience; the key point being that, initially it does not require much more than 1 or 2 well written white papers, ideally from a known industry thought leader. The idea is that over a 90 day period, the nurture campaign takes the theme of the white paper and promotes the issue in month 1 as an available download, then in month 2 delivered as a webcast (ideally with the thought leader) and finally in month 3 promotes both in one outbound email.
What’s Next for MA Monday in NYC?
We discussed how often to meet and what topics for future sessions. For now we will look to have NYC meetups on a quarterly schedule – late February/early March.
Requested topics are (in no particular order):
- Leveraging social media in Marketing Automation
- Analytics, metrics and reporting
- Managing the marketing-to-sales lead process
- CRM integration and sales enablement
You can see what was discussed at the two meetups in November (SF and Palo Alto) on the topic of lead nurturing in this blog post by Jep Castelein.
For those who attended in NYC on 12/6 and others who are interested for future meetups, all are advised to join the Marketing Automation Association Group on LinkedIn. Here you will be able to keep up on happenings of the various meetups taking place across the country.
Please let us know what you liked about our 1st session and what can be done to make future meetings more valuable. Comments below are welcomed. I encourage all to spread the word about Marketing Automation Monday. Stay tuned for more.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday, Thought Leadership | No Comments »
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:
- New York City, December 6th, info and registration.
- Boston, To be determined
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 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 »
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”.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment | No Comments »
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?
Lead 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”.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Thought Leadership | 4 Comments »