Brian Carroll

Lead Nurturing: Unique tracks and impactful tests

March 2nd, 2015

I was recently interviewed by Marketo for their Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing eBook, and I wanted to share some ideas that didn’t find their way into the guide as well as some additional thoughts on lead nurturing with you.

Here are a couple of questions they asked me that ended up on the editing room floor that I want to include here in the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog:

 

editWhat is one of the most unique lead nurturing tracks you have heard of someone creating?

Paradoxically, the most “unique” nurturing tracks are the most basic and have been executed long before the concept of lead nurturing ever existed: where a sales, marketing or customer service professional sends a prospect information focused specifically on meeting the client’s need.

Think relevance.

This is the essence of lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is based on relevance, and what is relevant differs — even slightly — from person to person because we all have unique needs and motivations. Without relevance, lead nurturing becomes just another marketing campaign.

 

What is the most impactful test you’ve run for lead nurturing programs?

A global IT leader provided us approximately 50% of their leads generated that year (1,500 leads) that had not engaged with the organization for at least 90 days. We reviewed each lead to identify what motivated them and then phoned them. The conversation was based on their last engagement, and we concluded the call by asking the prospect if the IT provider could serve as a resource.

After three months of calling, 40% wanted to continue to be in the IT company’s lead nurturing program, 15% moved further along in the sales cycle and 7% converted into customers.

For an investment of less than $50,000, within three months the IT company gained $1.2 million in sales from leads that had essentially been untouched or forgotten.

 

A few more thoughts to share:

And, here are some more recent thoughts on lead nurturing which I’ll likely expand on in the future posts:

  • Lead nurturing supports the conversation of the customer before, during and after their buying process.
  • Sowing + Nurturing = Reaping. As you sow, so shall you reap. A relationship properly sown, tended to and helped-along lead should reap a long and bountiful harvest.
  • Lead nurturing is about building relationships through relevant conversations, not campaigns.
  • If your sales team is following up on nurtured leads, give them relevant and related talking points to use. The first impression matters. So does the second. And so does every single touch after that.
  • Consistency and relevancy are key. Don’t let up. Be consistent. No matter how busy you are, make time to do lead nurturing activities.
  • Treat “leads” like “future customers” because that’s what they are.
  • “Tell-and-sell” is a thing of the past. Become a trusted advisor by adding value with each interaction and sharing relevant information. Read what is and isn’t lead nurturing.
  • Nurture your existing customers. Don’t just emphasize new account acquisition nurturing. You should look to nurture your current customers with the same energy and optimism as you do with prospects. You’ll be amazed with the results.

 

Photo Attribution: Matt Hampel

 

You might also like

Marketo blog: The Definitive Guide To Lead Nurturing

Marketing Research Chart: The ROI of lead nurturing [MarketingSherpa chart]

Content Marketing Tips for Lead Nurturing [More from the blogs]

Marketing Research Chart: Messaging tactics for effective lead nurturing [MarketingSherpa chart]

Lead nurturing via email series and content marketing [More from the blogs]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Lead Nurturing , ,

Selena Blue

A/B Testing: How adding a second CTA increased clickthrough 291%

February 23rd, 2015

How do you serve “ready to buy” customers and “just looking” prospects on the same page?

You don’t want to alienate one group while speaking to the other. However, you still need to offer both sets of customers the next step they need no matter their level of interest.

To answer that question and more for one B2B SaaS nonprofit, Jon Powell, Senior Executive Research and Development Manager, MECLABS Institute, worked with Shari Tishman, Director of Engagement, and Lauren Wagner, Senior Manager of Engagement, both of VolunteerMatch.

VolunteerMatch was selected as the “client” for this year’s Email Summit live test. The team designed a three-part series of experiments, the first two leading up the interactive live test to launch tomorrow, Feb. 24, here at Summit.

Since today marks the first day of Summit activities I’ll be giving you a behind the scenes look at Test No. 2 of the series. Check out the MarketingExperiments Blog to learn about the test background and call for treatment ideas and to learn about the results and what they mean.

VolunteerMatchBefore we get into the specifics of this test, let’s review why this test is important to the series. The solutions page test will help us to understand the most attractive derivative value for actual sales-ready leads to include in the call-to-action section of the email for optimization at the Summit.

Basically, we should be able to take what we previously learned about prospects and transfer it to another channel of testing: email.

 

Experiment background

Primary Research Question: Which call-to-action variable cluster will achieve the highest contact page conversion rate?

Secondary Question: Which call-to-action variable cluster will achieve the highest total page click-through rate?

Test Design: A/B split test

Before the test

Prior to the test and its control, the VolunteerMatch team had already updated the call-to-action (CTA) on the product page. The original CTA read, “Let’s Get Started Together.”

CTA1
While the CTA did a good job of attracting customers across the spectrum of motivation levels, it seemed the pipeline became full of leads not motivated enough to move forward. This caused a lot of fruitless time for the sales staff.

Motivation

 

That led the team to create a new CTA, which is the control for this test.

 

Control

To limit the amount of leads entering the pipeline, so that there are more qualified prospects, the team changed the copy to “Contact Sales for a Quote.”

CTA2

Motivation2

 

However, this left no option for those prospects simply trying to learn more. This lead to the creation of the two-option CTA for the treatment.

 

Treatment

When conducting analysis on the solutions page, click tracking showed that 2.39% of visitors were leaving the page to go to the demo page.

Since that would be a useful place for prospects to learn more if they weren’t ready to buy, the team thought it would make the most sense as a secondary CTA. Instead of letting those lower-motivated prospects blindly stumble around the site, a demo CTA would allow VolunteerMatch to guide them there.

CTA3

 

The copy of the Contact Sales CTA was also changed. The team hypothesized that “Contact Sales” could have produced a high-level of anxiety in visitors.

There was also a lack of clarity. What exactly does “contact” mean? And what will a quote consist of? To help answer some of those concerns, the team developed the “Speak to a Director” treatment of the CTA.

 

Results

Let’s look at the metric results to the secondary research question: overall clickthrough rate.

Results

 

As you can see, adding another CTA increased overall clickthrough. The question after that would be if it this impacted the clickthrough to the Contact Sales CTA. However, there was no statistical difference between the control and the treatment.

In fact, no visitor who clicked through to the sales contact form page on the control filled out the form. However, of those who landed on the sales contact page from the treatment, 30% of visitors filled out the form.

Additionally, of the 8.1% visitors to click on the demo CTA, 12.5% of them converted on the demo.

 

What you need to know

It’s possible to serve two groups of prospects on one solutions or product page. There can be fear when adding a second CTA that you will lose clickthrough or leads, but you won’t know if you don’t test.

For VolunteerMatch, that wasn’t the case at all. The second CTA did not diminish clickthrough to the contact form page. Rather, it seems as if the update copy in addition with another option to learn more allowed better qualified visitors to click through, seeing as the rate of completion went up.

Additionally, we were able to better guide lower sales-ready visitors to a page that might be better suited for them: the demo.

Adding the demo CTA allowed us to decrease the need for unsupervised thinking on the part of visitors. If left to themselves, visitors might not have found the demo and could have left the site without gaining information that would have led to an eventual sale.

 

Email Summit live test

Be sure to attend Jon’s session tomorrow after lunch with VolunteerMatch — “Hands-on Live Test Lab: Learn how to improve your already successful marketing” — to contribute to the live test.

If you’re not able to join us here in Las Vegas this week, we’ll be sharing a case study about the Email Summit live test in the MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing newsletter after Summit.

 

If you liked to learn all of the top takeaways from Email Summit 2015, stay tuned to the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Newsletter. An event recap with everything you need to know will be published in the coming weeks.

You can follow Selena Blue, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute on Twitter at @SelenaLBlue.

 

You might also like

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 — February 23-26, ARIA Resort, Las Vegas

Lead Management: How a B2B SaaS nonprofit decreased its sales cycle 99% [MarketingSherpa case study]

Lead Generation: The power of copy [More from the blogs]

5 Traits the Best Calls-to-action All Share in Common [More from the blogs]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Testing , , ,

Erin Hogg

Lead Generation: How an insurance company reduced acquisition costs in purchased leads

February 16th, 2015

Generating leads organically can ease the qualifying process, throwing “bad” leads out that are simply not worth pursuing. Growing a list organically also allows marketers to know more about a prospect right from the get-go, passing more qualified leads on to Sales.

However, when you start supplementing organic leads with purchased leads from a third party, how can you be sure you are getting the most bang for your buck?

According to the Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing report, lead quality is the No. 2 most pressing business challenge for marketers today.

Plymouth Rock, one of the largest insurance groups offering car and homeowner’s insurance in New Jersey, faced the challenge of ensuring lead quality.

“There are a lot of expenses associated with purchasing hundreds of thousands of leads annually, so we are constantly working to maximize acquisition economics,” explained George Hurley, Director of Marketing Analytics, Plymouth Rock Management Company of New Jersey.

The team at Plymouth Rock needed a way to ensure that the purchased leads were going to be viable with the ultimate goal of lowering acquisition expenses.

Lead Generation

 

Identify “risky” or “bad” leads

With so many leads being purchased by Plymouth Rock, the team determined it would be cost effective to bring on a tool that would help identify bad leads instead of doing it manually.

George and the Plymouth Rock marketing team categorize bad leads, or leads that do not sell, in terms of how that lead was generated.

For example, if that purchased lead was generated in less than five seconds, that would be a lead Plymouth Rock would not want to pursue.

With form fields containing multiple questions and often multiple webpages, George explained that oftentimes, it is impossible for a person to fill one out in less than five seconds.

Concurrently, the fraud detection product can also tell the team if thousands of leads were generated from the same IP address located in a foreign country. If that’s the case, it’s highly unlikely they would be looking into insurance in New Jersey.

 

Change the way leads are purchased

With the knowledge of how a purchased lead was generated, the Plymouth Rock marketing team now prefers to buy leads from aggregators and generators that are also using the tool to identify bad leads.

Using the tool for lead audit and fraud prevention is now a best practice for the marketing team, which has lowered expenses at Plymouth Rock.

“We hope that others in the industry will follow this practice, driving down expenses,” George explained.

The marketing team couples the data now known on how that lead was generated with another tool that provides insights into a particular lead’s authenticity. An example is a lead for “Mickey Mouse” at “123 Main Street” with a phone number of “867-5309,” which is clearly false information.

“There are very different purposes in the two technologies, but both work to eliminate leads that we believe to be bad leads,” he said.

 

Communicate successes across the organization

By better understanding how purchased leads were generated, the marketing team has been able to improve the relationships with the sales team because they are providing better-quality leads.

Results are communicated via monthly meetings with stakeholders, including multiple leadership departments, and the marketing analytics group pulls daily reports to demonstrate how leads are performing on any given day.

“We’re very heavily focused on the acquisition costs, so that’s a conversation piece we’re always having, but with the help of the advanced analytics team … we are also looking into lifetime value metrics,” George said.

Since using the lead audit and fraud detection tool, Plymouth Rock saw a 68.8% decrease in cost per acquisition and identified 528% more fraud.

The team also noted that almost zero percent of medium- and high-risk leads converted, confirming the success of carefully analyzing how purchased leads were generated.

 

You can follow Erin Hogg, Reporter, MECLABS Institute, on Twitter at @HoggErin.

 

Source: LeadiD

 

You might also like

Best B2B Lead Posts in 2014: Lead generation, lead nurturing and content marketing [More from the blogs]

How the Halo Effect Drives Lead Generation [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation via Influencers and Experts in 4 Steps [More from the blogs]

Building Your Strategic Lead Generation Portfolio [More from the blogs]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Lead Generation , , ,

Brian Carroll

Content Marketing Tips for Lead Nurturing

February 9th, 2015

I was asked by a reader to provide some examples of what lead nurturing touches may look like.

Lead nurturing is something that’s fairly easy to understand, but for many, it’s become a frustrating thing to consistently execute for two reasons:

  1. Lack of content
  2. No plan for consistency

I’ve found that many marketers get stuck on not having enough good and effective lead nurturing content. My advice is to start accumulating and building your lead nurturing library now.

 

How do you build your library of relevant lead nurturing content?

A lead nurturing program can leverage existing investments that you have made in other marketing efforts such as trade shows, webinars, direct mail, PR and other marketing collateral by repurposing the existing content. Third-party resources and content can also be effectively utilized to bring you an aspect of credibility through the halo effect.

Begin by developing a catalog (think: library) of all of your lead nurturing content. Unfortunately, if you have a lot of content this can be tedious process, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Here are some examples of lead nurturing content ideas:

 

What can you send via direct mail?

Direct mail examples: personal letters, dimensional mailers, books, post cards, newsletters, press releases, white papers, event invitations, research reports, case studies, success stories and third-party articles

 

What can you send via email?

Email examples: links to bylined articles, blog posts, links to third party articles, case studies, press releases, white papers, e-newsletters, event invitations, archived event links, research reports, blogs, success stories, video, podcasts, third-party articles and website content

 

How can you leverage events?

Event examples: trade shows, live seminars, webinars, webcasts, executive briefings, workshops, conferences, road shows, speaking engagements and on-demand events

 

What can you do online?

Online examples include: blog posts, podcasts, videocasts, videos, webinars, e-books, personalized microsites, wikis and other multimedia. Be sure to give your audience a way to subscribe to get updates either via RSS or email.

 

What can you do via phone?

Phone examples include: share new ideas, develop relationships, confirm correct contacts, get internal referrals, get opt-in email addresses, personal invitations to events, reengage aged opportunities and identify sales ready leads

 

Nuturing channels

 

Here are some more lead nurturing content ideas:

  • Articles and media mentions — Email by lined articles written by you or about your company or snail mail reprints written by you on relevant topics to your future customers
  • Third-party articles — Email or mail links to articles of interest (that tie into your value proposition) to your future customers
  • Blog posts — Email links to recent posts you wrote or were written by others that will be relevant to your readers
  • Podcasts — Email links to recent podcasts you’ve done or have been done by others that will be relevant and interest your audience
  • Books — If you found a book that’s relevant to audience, you can send a copies or executive book summaries. One marketing consultant purchased bulk copies of my book (and shipped them to me to autograph; I happily obliged) and mailed an autographed book to each of his clients and top prospects. They loved it, and he got more business.
  • Handwritten notes or letters — When was the last time you received a handwritten note? Personal messages in your handwriting show you made an effort and value them. People appreciate effort that benefits them.
  • Emails — Email is a one-to-one medium. Keep your emails brief, relevant, helpful, informational, but not promotional.
  • Events — Invite your audience to trade shows, live seminars, webinars, webcasts, executive briefings, workshops, conferences, road shows, speaking engagements and on-demand events.
  • Newsletters — Print or email, or both, with articles that address customer challenges
  • Press releases — Will they value it? Maybe; just make sure the content (the news) is relevant to your readers.
  • Guides or e-books
  • Glossaries of industry terms, directories and how-to guides
  • Research reports — Presenting findings from your research or that have been conducted by third parties. You can break out charts and graphs and repurpose them into other channels, like blog posts.
  • Special reports — Think industry trends, what’s hot and buying guides.
  • Webcasts and podcasts — Send a link in emails.
  • White papers — Discuss industry trends and challenges, and solutions.
  • Develop a lead nurturing calendar — Map out your activities for each month, and then really follow it. Don’t just make irrelevant pitches more often. Create a plan to add value every time you touch your future customers with relevant ideas, content and resources.

The tactics employed and the frequency of touches will depend on the solutions being sold and the buying cycle of the prospect. Possible timelines might look like this example lead nurturing track:

  • Touch 0 — First contact phone call and follow-up “thank you” email
  • Touch 1 — Third-party article on pertinent technology via email
  • Touch 2 — Industry relevant case study via email with follow-up call
  • Touch 3 — E-newsletter with voicemail alert to check
  • Touch 4 — Third party article on pertinent technology via email
  • Touch 5 — Relevant white paper via email
  • Touch 6 — Targeted campaign via direct mail
  • Touch 7 — Relevant e-book via email with follow-up call
  • Touch 8 — Link to relevant podcast via email with follow-up call
  • Touch 9 — Free report via direct mail with follow-up call
  • Touch 10 — Invitation to webcast via email with follow-up call
  • Touch 11 — Call to invite to industry trade show and follow-up with registration link
  • Touch 12 — Prospect calls you and becomes a sales ready lead

 

The above example is pretty basic. It’s a single track process rather than a multi-track process. I have a client that started lead nurturing two years ago. They now have 18 different lead nurturing tracks with 27 steps based on industry, job function and role in the buying process.

This client told me, “Lead nurturing has given our sales force more sales leads than they can handle. It’s gotten to the point where we have to completely reorganize our sales department in order to accommodate the leads that are coming in. We have 90 percent more sales ready leads now than we did a year ago.”

It should note that this client reallocated 20% of their marketing budget to lead nurturing activities. They kept the rest of their budget intact but almost doubled their leads.

Stay tuned, I’ll be writing more about lead nurturing in future posts.

 

You might also like

Lead nurturing via email series and content marketing [More from the blogs]

Email Marketing: The importance of lead nurturing in the complex B2B sale [More from the blogs]

Marketing Research Chart: The ROI of lead nurturing [MarketingSherpa chart]

B2B How-To: 5 lead nurturing tactics to get from lead gen to sales-qualified [MarketingSherpa how-to article]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Content Marketing , ,

Josh Wilson

How Much is Your Address Book Worth?

February 2nd, 2015

How much is your address book worth? I know that seems like a silly question because very few people even have a little black book that contains all of their contacts’ phone numbers and addresses.

I can remember when my father had a sturdy metal rolodex sitting on his office desk that contained all of his priceless contact numbers. I would sit at his desk and spin the cards around like I was a contestant on “The Price is Right.”

Fast forward 25 years and now we carry our cell phones, which have instant access to our address book, CRM, LinkedIn and other network applications and can easily connect you with millions of people around the world instantly.

As part of my research and training, I read a series of books on the subject of lead generation through strategic connections with people. I followed the advice and directions that I read in the books and was able to connect with two best-selling authors and set up a phone conversation with them about their methods and principles.

Here’s an introduction to those two authors and their responses to a few of the most common questions our researchers at MECLABS Institute are being asked regarding B2B Marketing:

 

How to be a Power ConnectorJudy Robinett is the author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+150 Rule (McGraw-Hill, May 2014), a book that provides instant, effective strategies for meeting the people you need to know and bonding with them fast to further both your goals and theirs.

Judy is a business thought leader who is known as “the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex.” She has been profiled in Fast Company, Forbes, Venture Beat, Huffington Post and Bloomberg Businessweek as a sterling example of the new breed of “super connectors” who use their experience and networks to accelerate growth and enhance profitability.

 

 

 Guerrilla MarketingSohail Khan is the author of Guerrilla Marketing and Joint Ventures: Million Dollar Partnering Strategies for Growing ANY Business in ANY Economy (Morgan James Publishing, Nov. 2014), a book that explains a step-by-step guide on how marketers can set up and use joint ventures to help your business grow.

Sohail is the world’s premier “joint venture expert” as featured in Entreprenuer.com, Fox Business, CNN and CBS. He’s also the creator of the “Million Dollar Partnering System,” a well as being a sought-after business growth speaker, coach and author. Sohail works with corporate, business and educational establishments worldwide.

 

 

B2B Lead Roundtable: Whether the marketer is working with a startup or for a Fortune 500 company, there always seems to be budget limitations for marketing. As a B2B Marketer with tight constraints on time and money, should we invest in networking at events and associations?

Judy RobinettA power connector focuses on being in the “right room.” If you are able to invest in networking at events and associations, be strategic about investing in the ones that your future customers are involved in. Most people attend the same events with their friends and wonder why they never get any new business or quality referrals.  Research your customers and find out where they network, and then do the same.

Sohail KhanGuerrilla marketing is not about having the biggest budget or the largest marketing department; it’s about achieving success using unconventional means. There are free digital groups you can join such as LinkedIn Groups and Twitter that allow you to get really close to your targeted prospects.

 

B2B: How do I know if I need to expand the size of my current network?

JRIt is more important to have the right people in your network than to have a huge network. I learned this principle when I lived in a very small town. Between the people I worked with, my neighbor who was a state legislator and other volunteers I served with, I found myself being able to connect with any resource opportunity I needed. I focus on making sure my network of people expands wide across various industries and geographic locations and filled with people of influence and power that we have mutual trust.

 

B2B: What is a strategy you use for connecting with a decision maker if you have never had contact with them before?

SKI will give something of value far before ever asking for anything in return. For example, I have given away my books, one of my training courses which sell for about $500 and I have also trained a company’s business development team “Joint Venture Strategies” for free in order to gain trust with large clients. I believe in the law or principle of reciprocity when prospecting. For the most part, people respond to kindness with kindness. Once I have given value, there is no longer need for a “cold call.”  From then on, my interactions with the people I have served are warm and friendly.

 

B2B: What are some unique tools you use to connect with build relationships  (other than phone, email, and LinkedIn)? 

JRI was introduced one day to the co-founder of the ACT! Software, which was amongst the first in CRM available. He co-founded a new CRM tool called Vipor CRM, which I use to track and manage my connections.

SKI use Twitter to connect with people. A recent statistic said that there are over 750 tweets delivered every second. It is a great place to generate a response and engage with people.

 

B2B: Why is it so important to become a “Power Connector” like your book describes?

JRNothing happens in this life without people being involved. The old networking model was transactional; it was based on who you know and what you know. The world has shifted to a relationship model based on who knows you, likes you and trusts you. At the end of the day, you want to be connected to people who have your back and will lift your future.

 

B2B: Why should a company consider a joint venture or strategic alliance?

SKThe joint venture or strategic alliance is set up to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for all parties involved. A company can contribute areas of strengths in return for another company compensating for areas where there may be gaps in resources or abilities. The goals for strategic alliances can be for cost-saving initiatives or revenue-generating campaigns. When joint ventures are organized and managed correctly, you can minimize risks and leverage rewards. That is a win-win situation.

 

In conclusion

In my conversations with both Judy and Sohail, the most important principles are this: connect with the right people and add tremendous value to them.

“People don’t buy from websites; people buy from people” — Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS (parent company of B2B Lead Roundtable)

If you would like to know more about Judy or Sohail’s books, you can visit them at the links below.

Judy — How to Be a Power Connector

Sohail —  Guerrilla Marketing and Joint Ventures

 

Each week MarketingSherpa features a book giveaway. This week includes both of the books referenced in this post. Check the MarketingSherpa Book Giveaway and sign up for a chance to win a copy of these books.

 

You can follow Josh Wilson, Content Writer, MECLABS Institute on Twitter at @TheVillagePush.

 

You might also like

How to Use Social Networking Sites for Lead Generation [MarketingSherpa case study]

Marketing Careers: 3 tips to help your networking efforts [More from the blogs]

How to Use a Multichannel Campaign Strategy to Reach Key Decision-Makers [MarketingSherpa webinar archive]

B2B Marketing: The 7 most important stages in the teleprospecting funnel [More from the blogs]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Human Touch , , , , , , , , , ,

Brian Carroll

15 Tips to Generate More Leads in 2015 (Part 3, featuring tips 11-15)

January 26th, 2015

To kick off the new year, I’m sharing 15 ideas on improving your lead management. I have so much to share that I’ve split this post into three parts (you can read Part 1, with tips 1-5, here and Part 2, with tips 6-10, here), and today will be the final Part 3, with tips 11-15.

As you’ll see, this series isn’t just about getting more leads but about generating better and higher quality leads. These 15 tips (across all three blog posts) will help make your lead management more effective.

Without further ado, here is the final Part 3 of this three-part series, featuring tips 11-15:

 

11. Use a single voice when communicating with leads

People pay attention to who is sending them emails. Anonymous email servers may save money and be scalable, but they don’t build connections. The re-engagement process has to start with a human being.

You need to have a person behind the email and the phone call. Also, it should be the same person. Our goal is to build the relationship through one person to the point to where the lead is sales-ready, then hand that relationship off to the next person.

 

12. Nurture organizations, not just people

It’s important to have a closed-loop feedback system so that you can track all activities with all leads inside an organization.

Especially with B2B, selling happens at a corporate level and a business unit level in addition to an individual level. You need to be able to track interactions to be able to determine the program of selling the entire organization.

 

13. Market to the role, not the title

It seems like everyone is a vice president these days. You need an intelligent process to identify the person’s function and role in the company, rather than going by title.

With a recent MECLABS partner, we developed a process for determining a contact’s function in the company based on a series of conversations. Unless you do that, you don’t have a way to segment your lead accurately and send them the right content for where they are in the buying cycle.

 

14. Have a clear hand-off process between Marketing and Sales

The point at which Marketing hands a lead off to Sales is like a relay race — it’s important to keep moving fast without dropping the baton.

For one partner, we got Sales to commit to contacting all leads within 48 hours if they had the following three things:

  • The lead conforms to the universal lead definition
  • Confirmation that the lead wants to speak to a sales representative
  • Qualification information for each lead

It’s important to document the process so that both sales and marketing can track all steps and evaluate the process objectively. This documentation is shown in the following figure:

Sample 1

 

15. Create a process for joint marketing and sales “huddles” to gauge progress

A football team would never think of skipping the huddle between plays. Sales and Marketing should view their work together in the same way. They need to talk frequently about what’s happening with their leads if they want to see ROI.

It’s important to close the loop on every lead and to talk about ways to improve the process. In my experience, Sales and Marketing should huddle on leads at least once a month.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • How many of the leads we’ve given you in the past two weeks are active?
  • Have you talked to them?
  • Are you moving forward?

It’s also important to celebrate wins together as part of these huddles. You need to feel that you are all part of the same team. When that happens, you start seeing improvements at all levels.

For example, one partner had an administrative person at the meetings enter information about leads into the CRM system as people were talking. Soon, sales began to see why they needed to capture accurate information about leads in the system. If they do it, they can see that nurturing will happen on their behalf.

 

Key takeaways from this three-part blog series

  • Marketing must create a marketing funnel to develop sales-ready leads and nurture those that aren’t ready to buy.
  • Sales and Marketing need to agree on a universal definition of a lead.
  • The hand-off process between Sales and Marketing must be clearly defined so that leads do not languish or become lost.
  • Sales and Marketing must have regular meetings to gauge progress.

 

Bonus material: 

Embed the passion in your organization

Building clarity around the lead process helps build passion for making a difference in your organization. It creates closer ties between Marketing and Sales and helps Sales do its job better than ever before. You will begin qualifying leads in a disciplined and rigorous way.

No more dropping the baton in the hand-off between Marketing and Sales. That will bring a significant improvement in revenue generated from marketing.

 

You might also like

Where’s the Passion in B2B Marketing? [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: How to empower your program like Siemens Healthcare [MarketingSherpa webinar archive]

Marketing Research Chart: SEO most effective tactic for lead gen, but also among the most difficult [MarketingSherpa chart]

Lead Generation: 3 questions every marketer should ask themselves about incentive [More from the blogs]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Marketing Strategy , ,

Brian Carroll

15 Tips to Generate More Leads in 2015 (Part 2, featuring tips 6-10)

January 19th, 2015

For the new year, I’m sharing 15 ideas on how to make your lead management more effective. There is so much to share, I’m splitting this post into three parts (you can read Part 1 with tips 1-5 here), and today is Part 2, featuring tips 6-10.

This post isn’t just about generating more leads; it’s about generating better and higher quality of leads. These 15 tips (across all three blog posts) will help make your lead management more effective.

So, without further ado, here is Part 2 of the three part series, featuring tips 6-10:

 

Lead Nurturing Funnel6. Define lead nurturing — and which leads you should nurture

Lead nurturing is a relevant and consistent dialog with viable potential customers, regardless of their timing to buy. The people to be nurtured are generally those with whom you’ve had a direct meaningful interaction via phone or email and who are in companies that fit your preferred profile. The point is to build a relationship with them over time without trying to qualify them during each interaction.

 

7. Filter content by role and by the stage of the buying process

Executives get too much undifferentiated content. However, if you can demonstrate that you’ve done some filtering on their behalf, you can get through to them.

We found that readership went up significantly by sending one targeted piece to leads rather than a generic newsletter targeted to everyone.

Begin by asking your sales team:

  • What questions do your customers ask most often?
  • What do they care about?
  • What issues are they facing?
  • What content have you shared that has helped the most with conversion?

In addition, ask your sales team about the prospects involved in the buying process and what challenges they all have in common. Try to get Sales to articulate the problem they are trying to solve. Then, you can deliver the content and help Sales find what its looking for at each stage of the lead nurturing process.

Find content — such as articles, blogs and white papers — that addresses these issues. Pass this content by your sales team, and ask them whether their customers would value it. As much as you can, repurpose content. For instance, white papers can be transformed into articles, and articles can be transformed into blog posts.

A job title can give you clues about a prospect’s role in the buying process, but it’s best to determine their role through a phone conversation and a series of questions. Once you’ve determined who they are, you need to support a continuing conversation.

For example, if you have a webinar, send them a follow-up email with more information. Afterwards, call to ask, “Did you find that webinar helpful? Did it bring up other questions?”

 

8. Touch leads frequently

To remain relevant during the nurturing process, you have to be consistent. My threshold for consistency is to reach out to leads at least once a month. Different marketers have different thresholds, but I would say that quarterly isn’t enough to be remembered — there is just too much noise over that timeframe.

 

9. Don’t sell; educate and help

Most case studies and whitepapers have a sales edge to them. That won’t work for lead nurturing. The content must be educational and helpful. One MECLABS research partner worked with an outside publisher to develop educational webinars and brought in some editorial support to help them develop some thought leadership pieces that didn’t focus on products or sales.

 

10. Use third parties to add credibility

Most marketers try to generate all the content they send to leads themselves. However, third parties can do that work for you and, more importantly, validate what you are doing in the marketplace. For example, one partner started partnering with analysts covering their industry. They paid a fee to repurpose the research and shared it with their target audience.

Meanwhile, linking to third-party media articles costs you nothing. You don’t need to get permission to send hyperlinks to articles that you think are relevant. It helps to personalize the emails. For example, you could write something along the lines of, “I saw this article in IndustryWeek that I thought you might find relevant based on our last conversation.” Having clear profiles of the different leads means that you can somewhat automate that process.

 

Image Attribution: Keith Hoffart

 

You might also like

Lead Generation: How one company increased leads 96% by changing the presentation of incentive content [More from the blogs]

B2B Lead Generation: 6 social media tactics from 7 experts [MarketingSherpa how-to article]

Lead Generation: How to empower your program like Siemens Healthcare [MarketingSherpa webinar archive]

How the Halo Effect Drives Lead Generation [More from the blogs]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Lead Generation , , , ,

Brian Carroll

15 Tips to Generate More Leads in 2015 (Part 1, featuring tips 1-5)

January 12th, 2015

It’s a new year, and you’re likely kicking off marketing and lead generation programs to drive more new leads for 2015. Most new leads go nowhere. Why? Often, it’s because Sales and Marketing have not agreed on a true lead definition and have not created a joint process for finding who’s ready to buy and building relationships with those who aren’t.

It’s not about more leads; it’s about doing better with the ones you already have. Here’s how. In this extended post, I’ll share 15 ideas on how to make your lead management more effective. Because there’s so much to share, I’m splitting this post into three parts of five tips each with today’s post featuring the first five.

 

Example 11. Create a marketing funnel, not just a sales funnel.

Most organizations don’t have a marketing funnel. Instead, they have a sales funnel that looks more like a bucket with lots of holes in it where leads leak out. Marketing needs to create its own funnel to understand whether leads are Sales ready or not.

The purpose of the marketing funnel is to bring leads into one spot and qualify them. By qualifying them, I mean that they are ready to talk to a salesperson. Then, there is the hand-off process between Marketing and Sales to consider.

I find that connecting the marketing and sales funnels together is really a big challenge and that is a big stopgap for most demand generation programs. You have to understand your sales process to know at what point the sales team views a lead as an opportunity and begins actively pursuing it.

The bigger and better you make your marketing pipeline, the bigger and better you make your sales pipeline. In the end, this isn’t about generating more leads; it’s about generating actionable leads. The marketing funnel creates sales-ready leads while nurturing the leads that aren’t sales-ready.

 

2. Create a universal lead definition. 

If you are trying to measure lead generation and you don’t have an agreed-upon definition for the word, you won’t be successful — especially in high-growth organizations where the number of leads is growing all the time. In this situation, salespeople will have a tendency to focus on those companies they already know and relationships they already have, ignoring the others. They need to keep their numbers up and not trust uncertain leads to move the needle.

To get past this, you have to sit down with the sales team and ask, “What are the major things that you need to know in order for you to feel that something is viable?”

In my work with one organization, these are the key points of information that Sales often wants to know about a lead:

  • Role in the organization
  • Authority is in the buying process
  • Business need
  • Timeframe for buying
  • Defined internal initiative
  • Stage of investigation

It’s important to remember that the lead definition process is iterative. It’s not a one-and-done thing. Revisit the definition and make changes. Also, make sure you’re asking questions, such as are we asking the right questions?

 

3. Use the phone.

The phone is the gold standard for qualifying most leads. We found that you can email, you can do Web profiling, you can measure all these touch points, but in the end if you want to know something, you need to talk to someone and engage them in conversation.

For further reading on this, you might also like to check out: How to Put the Customer First in Lead Generation  and Stop Cold Calling and Start Lead Nurturing.

 

4. Ask about goals — don’t sell.

One of the mistakes we see in lead handoff is that Sales sees that someone downloads a whitepaper, so they do a follow-up call and want to set up an appointment. That’s not going to get you anywhere. You want to be able to engage them in more of a discussion rather than trying to make an immediate qualification.

To do that, you need to ask a question: What question were you hoping to answer by downloading our white paper?

The next question is, was that you asking the question, or was that someone else in your company asking the question?

The goal is to be a trusted advisor or a relevant resource to your audience until they move to the point of being ready to talk about initiatives or even a specific project.

 

5. Create a process for re-engaging “dead” leads.

Consider going back to your year-old or older leads and re-engage them in some meaningful way. I shared this case study at MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Summit.

At InTouch, we helped a partner re-engage 2,500 leads by simply calling them based on what we knew from their profile data on the Web form. We reminded them of the interaction they had had and asked if we could be a resource for them.

The follow-up touch was an email. Of the group, 40% were people that were still interested but had no defined initiative. They were prime candidates to be nurtured. A further 15% were ready to become sales leads, and 7% converted into sales. In total, we invested $40,000 to do this work, and the business was worth $1.2 million.

 

You might also like

A/B Testing: How to improve already effective marketing (and win a ticket to Email Summit in Vegas) [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: How to empower your program like Siemens Healthcare [MarketingSherpa webinar archive]

B2B Lead Generation: 6 social media tactics from 7 experts [MarketingSherpa how-to article]

Marketing Research Chart: SEO most effective tactic for lead gen, but also among the most difficult [MarketingSherpa chart]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Lead Generation , , , ,

David Kirkpatrick

Lead nurturing via email series and content marketing

January 5th, 2015

Lead nurturing involves a number of activities and channels such as “under the hood” tracking and scoring of prospects behavior and engagement with your campaigns as well as follow-up telephone at times whenever that tactic fits into an overall lead nurturing program.

However, the key channel for lead nurturing is email — particularly using email to send a series of relevant content pieces or offers to prospects as they move through the buying funnel.

In previous B2B Lead Roundtable Blog posts, I’ve offered a group of MarketingSherpa case studies based around a particular content area. Today, I’m going to highlight one case study — Email Marketing: 133% ROI for B2B’s first-ever lead nurturing program — on a lead nurturing program launched by Crowe Horwath, a public accounting and consulting firm.

 

Background on the campaign

Christine Elliot, Director of Content Strategy and Digital Marketing, Crowe Horwath, understood the value of lead nurturing to both fill leaks in the sales funnel and improve ROI.

When she began working with the “performance group,” a business unit within the firm, Christine was pleased to learn that she didn’t need to pitch the value of launching an inaugural lead nurturing program.

The program was based around a 12 to 18-month sales cycle and targeted C-suite executives and large financial institutions with at least $1 billion in assets.

 

What the team did during the campaign

The first stage was determining content for the program, in this case, based on four topic areas:  Dodd-Frank, anti-money laundering, process improvement and core systems. From there the team mapped content to the early, mid and late stages of the buying cycle.

In launching the lead nurturing program, the campaign began with a list of 4,000 executives who would receive a monthly email offer for a piece of content.

To even be entered into the lead nurturing program, email recipients had to download content from an invitation email.

Invitation email

 

After engaging and entering the program, list members no longer received invitation emails and instead began receiving one email every three weeks with an offer for free content.

Content email

 

The team had 12 pieces of content for each of the three buying stage tracks for a total of 48 pieces of content. The nurtured leads became sales-ready after either downloading three pieces of content or just one piece of late-stage content.

 

How the team refined the campaign

Once the program launched, both Marketing and Sales met to review the newly nurtured leads and discuss how the program was performing. These meetings led to improvements to the program:

  • Instead of filling out a lengthy form, prospects only had to answer a single question to download content. These questions even had the options of “none” and “other” so prospects didn’t even have to provide any meaningful information, but according to Christine, most did. One question asked recipients if they preferred to receive email on a different topic — a question that might change the nurturing track they were currently on.
  • Lead scoring was improved after analysis of every person in the program, and the team found out that factors impacting lead quality included: asset size, title and behavior such as changing tracks, forwarding material or downloading at least three pieces of content.

 

How the campaign performed

What were the results of this campaign?

  • 33% of invited executives entered the program
  • A 75% to 80% open rate for nurturing emails

This was the first automated nurturing program at Crowe Horwath, and it became a model the team uses to deploy similar programs across the company.

“Now we’re expanding all over the firm,” Christine concluded.

If you found this short excerpt of the case study, clickthrough to read the entire case study with more detail on each step of the program.

 

You might also like

Lead Nurturing: Pilot campaign increases conversion 32.6% with automated emails [MarketingSherpa case study]

Lead Nurturing: How intent data lifted a B2B email campaign’s CTR 248% and forwarding rate more than 400% [MarketingSherpa case study]

Multichannel Marketing: Combining email and content marketing leads to 35% conversion rate for Elsevier [MarketingSherpa case study]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Lead Nurturing , , , ,

Kayla Cobb

Best B2B Lead Posts in 2014: Lead generation, lead nurturing and content marketing

December 29th, 2014

The holiday season is always a time of reflection for what we have and what we have accomplished over the past year.

However, it is also a time to reflect on all we have learned that can help us improve the blank slate that is 2015.

Read on to find out what B2B Lead Roundtable Blog posts were shared the most as well as the three topics B2B marketers valued most in 2014. You can utilize this information to better inform your 2015 strategy.

 

Topic #1 — Lead generation is king

Lead generation was a huge topic for 2014 and for good reason. Every lead nurturing campaign, every lead conversion, every sale depends on first generating a lead.

But what’s the best way to optimize your lead gen efforts?

 

Develop a strategic lead generation portfolio

The best marketers don’t rely on one specific tactic to generate leads. Instead, they utilize a diversified portfolio of channels.

The best way to build this concept is to approach your marketing strategy in the same way a portfolio manager would approach a mutual fund. Namely, this means diversifying your leads, establishing a schedule of when you’ll address said leads and testing every element in this process.

This post offers ideas on how to expand your lead generation portfolio, and features a free downloadable copy of a mind map for lead gen from Brian Carroll’s Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.

Lead-Generation-Channels

 

Improve the alignment between Marketing and Sales

Not having your marketing and sales teams aligned can be a costly mistake. Luckily, this is also an avoidable mistake.

By simply implementing a few key strategies, such as scheduling frequent meetings between these two teams, you can easily re-align interests and strengthen your overall lead efforts.

Learn 31 tips on how to align Marketing and Sales when it comes to lead generation.

 

Put you customer first

When you’re in the trenches, it’s easy to get caught up in marketing acronyms, data and analytics. What you need to remember is that, ultimately, lead generation comes down to connecting with people.

This personal connection comes down to one idea — empathy.

Learn about the importance of putting the empathy back into customer interactions, and then read some simple strategies for achieving empathetic marketing.

 

Topic #2 — It’s all about nurturing. Lead nurturing, that is

More than anything else, lead nurturing can help turn a lead from marketing qualified to sales qualified and hopefully into a sale.

Here are a few tips we learned this year to help you optimize this process.

 

Stop with the cold calls

In the Internet age of uber-informed and advertising-adverse consumers, cold calling just doesn’t work like it once did.

Instead, in order to score leads, and ultimately drive conversions, marketers need to make themselves a valuable resource to their prospects. This requires a customer-centric approach that involves staying relevant and informed on what the customer wants to learn and then being helpful and building trust through effective nurturing content.

Read on to learn how to modernize your lead strategy.

 

Learn what qualifies as lead nurturing

What is and isn’t lead nurturing?

A silly question, I know, yet it is one that several marketers continue to answer incorrectly. This seemingly simple concept is one that is actually more nuanced than it seems. Lead nurturing involves providing prospects with relevant and valuable information and helping them on their buying journey, regardless if they ever buy from you. This specialized treatment is much more likely to result in a conversion than sending out generic promotional emails.

Learn the exact definition of lead nurturing, and read some examples about what does and doesn’t make the mark.

 

Don’t forget about emails

Email is an indispensable tool for today’s marketers, but sometimes the relevancy gets lost between the subject line and send button.

Not keeping your customers first in your email sends can lead to something worse than an ignored email — it can lead to an unsubscribe.

Read about the benefit of adding lead nurturing to your emailing strategy, and discover six ideas for how to keep relevancy at the front and center of your emails.

exacttarget

 

Topic #3 — Words, words, words: The almighty power of content

It’s the easiest aspect to overlook, but it’s often one of the most important components in your marketing strategy — your content. Whether it’s the copy in a brochure or a case study about what you’ve accomplished, what you say to your customers and prospects, and how you say it, matters.

Here’s what we’ve learned in 2014 to make content marketing the best it can be.

 

Build a customer-centric content strategy

How do you create content that your customers will read?

Simple — listen to what they want. Content marketing is an excellent way to introduce customers to your brand as well as to establish yourself as a professional in your industry, but in order to create the best content, you have to first listen to your customers.

Watch Ninan Chacko, CEO, PR Newswire, as he explains the five steps to effective content marketing in this Lead Gen Summit 2013 replay.

 

Utilize storytelling in your call scripts

When it comes to teleprospecting, it turns out “what” you ask your prospects is just as important as “when” you ask them.

In a 2014 MarketingExperiements Web clinic, testing the time of the “ask” in a call script led to a 31% response increase. The difference? The treatment structured the call script as a story.

Learn more about why transforming the call script into a story resulted in this dramatic increase.

control-call-script

 

You may also like

The Most Important B2B Marketing Metrics for CEOs [More from the blogs]

10 Ways to Optimize Your Lead Conversion Rate [More from the blogs]

3 Factors that Connect Value Prop to Prospects [More from the blogs]

B2B Marketing: A recap of content and customer-centric marketing in 2014 [MaketingSherpa case study]

B2B Email Marketing: Ferguson Rewards trade show optimization achieves over $10 million [MarketingSherpa case study]

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Marketing Strategy , , , , , , ,