Allison Banko

Lead Generation: How to establish a connection offline

Allison Banko April 21st, 2014

Typically, we’re the ones asking the hard-hitting questions during our MarketingSherpa webinars. But in a recent live broadcast, the roles were reversed.

Bob Birge, Director of Marketing, Blue Pillar, put webinar host and MECLABS Director of Editorial Content Daniel Burstein on the spot.

“When’s the last time you got a personal letter at work?” Bob asked.

“I can’t even remember,” Daniel said. “If I really think back, maybe three, six months ago from a job interviewee I had thanking me for the job interview I did with them.”

Bob was backing up a recent study claiming that the typical business person only receives a personal letter once every seven weeks, yet receives an excess of 100 emails a day. These findings served as inspiration for Blue Pillar’s marketing campaign that was the heart of the MarketingSherpa webinar, “How to Use a Multichannel Campaign to Reach Key Decision-Makers.”

Bob shared insights into the critical power company’s process in sending a tangible, personalized direct mail piece to target customers.

“I think part of the brilliance of what you did here, Bob, is a lot of times as marketers, we follow the trend — what’s the word in the cloud, what’s everyone doing in mobile, social and everything,” Daniel said. “We just get kind of mixed in with the noise of that, and you really looked to zig where others zagged.”

The end goal of Blue Pillar’s marketing efforts was to schedule briefings with the decision-makers of  target companies. This included those from hospitals, data centers, universities and research facilities – people who are typically swamped with daily emails.

The marketers at Blue Pillar decided to take themselves out of the crowded email sphere and eliminate that major challenge altogether.

“We’re very confident that when we get in front of the right person — people that can understand what we do and the complexities of it — good things happen,” Bob said. “A light goes off and we’re off and running, but that first step needs to happen —  get in front of the right person. Sometimes, that’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.”

The team usually shoots right for the top of organizations, directing email campaigns and phone calls to C-suite executives. The results weren’t ideal. Bob shared that one of Blue Pillar’s email campaigns sent to 200 targets amounted to zero briefings.

“It was really more on the execution, or the lack of results, that we got hurt, and then we needed to establish a connection,” Bob said. “Those were two important steps: Who are you trying to reach, and then what do you do to establish that connection? And that’s where we were stumbling.”

blue-pillar-louisville-sluggerAfter looking at results from Blue Pillar’s email efforts as well as that study Bob mentioned earlier, the team concluded that using emails for introductions to prospects wasn’t the way to go. Because of the limited amount of personal mail people receive, Blue Pillar sought to stick out with a mailer.

Bob explained that years ago, he had success by using a mini Louisville Slugger baseball bat in a campaign. Because Blue Pillar’s effort was set to run in early summer, Blue Pillar opted to use this item again while also employing multiple channels for a baseball-themed effort.

Blue Pillar targeted 100 individuals positioned in the C-suite of organizations. The first piece of the campaign was the mailer that contained:

  • direct-mail-pieceA mini Louisville Slugger baseball bat stamped with the Blue Pillar logo
  • Collateral pieces on Blue Pillar (what the company is, what it offers)
  • A personal letter to the target

The letter was considered truly “personal” not only because it directly addressed the target by name, but because it included several details about the target’s company, such as where the target was located, as well as how many facilities it had. Sticking with the baseball analogy, the letter outlined strikes (problems), and then Blue Pillar’s solutions (single, double, triple, homerun).

The team waited two weeks after dropping the packages in the mail before conducting follow-up phone calls to ensure they were received. Beginning the conversation with the baseball bat served as an instant ice breaker, and Bob made many of these calls himself.

“[I said,] ‘Hey, about two weeks ago I sent a package. It would have included a black mini Louisville Slugger baseball bat,’ and a light went on. All of a sudden, I became their best friend.”

Asking about the bat, Bob explained, was a far more memorable item to recall than calling to ask about the delivery of an email.

“I knew that between the last two weeks, they probably didn’t get any other mini Louisville Slugger baseball bats,” he said. “So now we’ve connected.”

Rather than utilizing an email as its starter, Blue Pillar put it to play as its closer. The final piece of the campaign was following up with the target via email — after the connection was established — to schedule that briefing.

campaign-timeline-direct-mail

It worked. Take a look at Blue Pillar’s stats from the campaign:

  • 100% of the targets received the package
  • 14 executive briefing calls scheduled
  • 21 calls completed with engineers and facility managers

At the close of the 30-minute webinar, Bob shared his top takeaways:

  • Connect where others neglect
  • Establish an offline connection
  • Use emails to keep things moving
  • Be original

“It goes back to the basics: learn your product, learn your audience and then [find] a way to reach them,” Bob said.

For even more of Bob’s story, check out the full MarketingSherpa webinar replay of, “How to Use a Multichannel Campaign to Reach Key Decision-Makers.”

You may also like

MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2014 Call for Speakers

Multichannel Marketing: Direct mail, phone and email combine to lift executive briefing calls 50% [Case study]

Lead Generation: Does your teleprospecting deliver value to prospects? [More from the blogs]

2013 Year in Review: Top 6 focus areas for B2B marketers this year [More from the blogs]

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Lead Generation , , , ,

Erin Hogg

Lead Qualification: Webinar marketing strategy boosts conversion 500%

Erin Hogg April 14th, 2014

Providing relevant and valuable content in webinars is key to a successful strategy. But for Adobe, while the content was there, the strategy was not.

“When I came on in 2008, we had a webinar program and a lot of other programs running very disjointed. Every program, every webinar all had various different promotional plans behind it, and they were really a one-off situation. We did a lot of work to look at that one-off strategy. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it a strategy. There really was no strategy,” Shelby Britton, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Adobe, explained.

After realizing this challenge, Shelby and the team at Adobe put forth the idea that by creating more useful and relevant content to prospects, they could use that data to better qualify leads to Sales and discover where those leads were in the buying process based on what webinar content they consumed.

Watch this brief video from a MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013 session to hear Shelby and Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, discuss how the team assembled a webinar strategy to better serve prospects as well as be more useful for lead scoring.

The results of this transformation in webinar marketing led to a 75% increase in open rate and 120% clickthrough rate increase in emails promoting the webinars.

Watch the entire session, “Lead Qualification: How demographics, content and behavior helped Adobe boost conversions 500%,” to discover how Shelby took this challenge even further by scoring webinar leads and how that effort resulted in a 500% conversion rate increase in sales.

You might also like

MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2014 – San Francisco, November 3-6

Webinar Marketing: Adobe revamps strategy and achieves a 500% lift in conversion to sale

Content Marketing: Your questions on B2B online lead gen, metrics, content from SMEs and more

Infographic: Customer experience in the digital age

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John Tackett

Lead Generation: The power of copy

John Tackett April 7th, 2014

Words matter.

Words inspire.

Words are influence.

One of my greatest inspirations in copywriting has always been Rudyard Kipling because he understood the true power words possess.

This little gem, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind,” is one of his better-known quotes on the subject and you can see why.

It’s also no surprise to me that marketers continue to discover new opportunities to increase conversion through their testing of copy.

In today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, we’ll take a look at how a one small tweak to the copy on a lead generation page increased conversion and what we can learn from the results.

But, before we dive in, here are the research notes to add a little context around the testing.

Background: Sophos, a provider of IT security solutions for businesses.

Objective: To increase leads from quote requests.

Primary Research Question: Which form messaging will result in the most leads?

Approach: A/B split test

Side-by-side of control and treatment

quote-form-test

In the treatment, the team at Sophos changed “request a quote” to “for a no obligation quote” to the sub-headline.

Results

quote-form-test-results

The result was a 44% increase in quote form submissions.

One explanation for the increase was the prospects’ fear of commitment. By adding language into the sub-headline that emphasized no obligation, some of the anxiety prospects were experiencing was mitigated.

When’s the last time you requested an obligation from Sales?

I like the results of this test because they speak clearly about lead capture from a prospect’s perspective.

They want information.

They want value.

They want this with as little commitment as possible.

Consequently, every word you choose to deliver that value is vital in moving the dial from conversation to conversion.

To learn more about some of the other small changes the team at Sophos shared at MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013, checkout the free on-demand replay of “How a Long-term Optimization Strategy Led to a 6,031% Increase in Leads” to aid your lead generation efforts.

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B2B Lead Gen: A/B split test helps increase quote requests 262% [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: Does your teleprospecting deliver value to prospects? [More from the blogs]

Email Marketing: Do you test your legacy marketing? [More from the blogs]

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Lead Generation , , , ,

John Nye

Lead Generation: Does your teleprospecting deliver value to prospects?

John Nye March 31st, 2014

Lead generation teleprospecting is the art of acquiring sales-ready leads for a sales staff.

When it comes to communicating an organization’s value and credibility, asking the right questions and relieving any anxiety is key to a campaign’s success.

Consequently, wouldn’t it make sense to test and optimize this process?

After all, the knowledge you acquire can be applied to several facets of your marketing efforts, including what you emphasize online.

My goal for today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post is to hopefully influence your approach to lead generation with a few insights that you can use to determine where to find the most improvement in your teleprospecting efforts.

Do you deliver value and mitigate anxiety?

The first thing to consider when launching a lead gen teleprospecting campaign is to make sure that your value and anxiety relief efforts are geared toward your target market.

In fact, a lead generation Research Partner of ours at MECLABS wanted to discover new strategies to increase engagement and encourage deeper conversation. As a result, we ran a test and came away with a discovery and a lift.

Company: A large, well-known insurance carrier.

Goal: To increase the number of lead responses to a scripted voicemail.

Primary Research Question: Which voicemail script will generate the most lead responses?

Approach: A/B single factor split test

call-script-experiment

In Treatment A, the focus was on building trust by mentioning the size of the company as the fifth largest carrier.

In Treatment B, the focus was on sharing valuable information that is not nationally advertised.

Results

call-script-results

Treatment B was the winner, resulting in a 30.8% lift over Treatment A and in attaining broker information from the decision-maker at an 88% level of confidence.

Although 88% is not ideal compared against the common standard of a 95% level of confidence, you always have to consider the best approach to validity starts with understanding your testing circumstances and using the best option available those circumstances will allow.

So why did we see such an increase from making just a few subtle changes?

One hypothesis is in the value proposition of the script itself. Offering exclusivity at the right time to the right person can help your efforts to move from conversation to conversion.

Test phone calls to learn more about your prospects

If you run a teleprospecting campaign, consider testing your approach to acquiring new leads.

You can determine the specific needs of your client or partner, discover future needs or gain access to third-party vendors that can result in more than just one sales-ready lead.

Testing can also lead to a wide variety of discoveries about your ideal prospects and create multiple opportunities that can benefit your marketing efforts beyond the telephone.

You may also like

Email Marketing: Do you test your legacy marketing? [More from the blogs]

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Marketing Strategy: 3 steps to help optimize website user experience [More from the blogs]

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B2B Telemarketing , , ,

John Tackett

Marketing Strategy: 3 steps to help optimize website user experience

John Tackett March 24th, 2014

If you want a snapshot of the user experience on your websites from the perspective of your prospects, just ask them.

angry-customer-feedback

This is exactly what James Coulter, Marketing Optimization Specialist, Sophos, did to better understand how prospects were engaging the organization’s website.

James shared some of Sophos’ user feedback that he really took to heart during his presentation at Optimization Summit 2013.

“I really wanted our website to be something that would help them in their purchasing decisions,” James explained.

I would wager there are many B2B marketers reading this who receive similar kinds of feedback from prospects a lot more often than they would like to.

This feedback, while harsh, is some of the most valuable insight you’ll ever receive. It’s also an honest wake-up call for making the changes needed to better serve your prospects.

In today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I want to share the three steps James used to implement a testing and optimization strategy for Sophos’ Web experience to hopefully help your team tackle the four toughest words in optimization:

“Where do we begin?”

Step #1. Identify your goals

identify-goals-optimization

James explained that although there were plenty of areas where he could have focused on increasing, such as white paper leads, free trial leads and new quote leads, narrowing the list down to the greatest opportunity would be key in developing optimization goals.

“There were hundreds of things we could have focused on,” James said, “and the first thing I tried to understand is: Where should we focus?”

Some of the information he gathered to help him understand where to focus was:

  • Feedback from Sales
  • A review of all lead sources (average cost per lead and lead/opportunity percentage)

This also gave James the insight he needed to set a clear goal of discovering “where can we have the greatest impact on revenue.”

Step #2. Put together a cross-functional team

create-cross-functional-team

Next, James put together a cross-functional team from Sales, Marketing and Product Management to help drive visibility, awareness and buy-in on the new initiative.

Putting together a diverse team is also a fantastic way to look for new ideas outside of your own and create a true sense of ownership in the success of the new approach.

Step #3. Craft your initial hypothesis

create-testing-hypothesis

Finally, James and his team mapped their entire quote funnel to really drill down and understand where in the process most prospects were dropping out.

This led them to also identify where the greatest testing opportunities existed.

Crafting your hypothesis on customer behavior is also where you truly start to bridge the gap between intuition and data-driven insight and then turn that insight into goal-oriented action.

How would 6,000% more leads than you have now impact your organization?

Ultimately, the Sophos team developed a well-tested and optimized lead generation program that increased leads 6,012% and counting, according to James.

The team’s success also points to a bigger notion – the process of testing and optimization is a marathon.

It’s a long-term strategy that takes time, testing, analysis and even more testing to help you fully understand what works.

It’s a strategy where success is not the destination, but instead, the only option left.

To learn more about the challenges James faced in transforming Sophos’ lead generation program, you can watch the on-demand replay of “How a Long-term Optimization Strategy Led to a 6,031% Increase in Leads.”

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Email Marketing: 2 campaigns that used innovative creative to generate leads [More from the blogs]

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Marketing Strategy , , , ,

Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: How to get started in lead generation

Daniel Burstein March 17th, 2014

I was recently reading your blog “Lead Generation: Who knows the customer better – Marketing or Sales? on b2bleadblog.com. It’s been really fascinating to me to try and figure all this sales and qualifying a lead thing out.

I’ve been employed to do a tough task in a small composite company that doesn’t have the finances to employ specialists. Do you have any advice or books on how to effectively get leads and qualify them and the processes involved in doing so?

Kind regards,

Philip La Trobe, business development analyst

(A young man employed to revamp a business, increase sales and address the communication lines between departments whilst increasing overall company efficiencies.)

I emailed a little more with Philip after this note, and he explained that his background is not in sales, marketing or business development, but rather materials engineering.

That was a wake-up call for me.

The challenge for anyone in B2B content marketing is to not only to create content that would impress the most experienced reader, but also to have some content that appeals to someone new to the industry.

For that reason, here is a beginner’s look at lead generation with links to many additional resources so you can dive deeper where you would like to. I’ll focus on some fundamental questions you should answer as you craft your lead gen program.

Experienced lead gen marketers reading this: What did I overlook? Please add your own advice in the comments section of this blog post.

Question #1. What do your potential customers want?

Getting leads isn’t as easy as it sounds, if it sounds easy at all. No potential customer wants to wake up in the morning and become a lead for your company.

So first, you must understand what your customers want. To figure this out, you have to answer two big questions that result in an infinite amount of more specific questions:

  • What are their pain points?
    • What keeps them awake at night?
    • What could get them fired?
    • What do they want to avoid so bad that they would dedicate 15 minutes in their busy day to learn how to avoid it? An hour? Pay $100 to know how to avoid out of their own pocket? $10,000 out of their budget?
    • What is the bad outcome they are trying to avoid?
    • What are the three questions they’re worried their boss or client will ask them?
    • And on and on
  • What are their goals?
    • What could get them a promotion?
    • What excites them about their job?
    • What do they want to brag to colleagues about? Their boss?
    • And on and on

There are many ways to learn this – surveys, social media monitoring, interviews with current customers, A/B testing, conversations with Sales, Services and Customer Support …

But the reason this is the longest section of the blog post is because the lead gen journey begins (and sometimes ends) here – what do customers want?

Helpful resources

Why Empathetic Marketing Matters and 7 Steps to Achieve It

Value Proposition: How to use social media to help discover why customers buy from you

Search Marketing: Can your marketing team identify your buyer personas?

Marketing Research Chart: Top tactics in developing buyer personae

B2B Social Media: 4 steps to get your listening dashboard started

Question #2. What value can your company deliver?

Your customers may want unicorns. But unless you run a unicorn factory, that information isn’t going to be very helpful.

What we’re getting to here is this: What promises can you make to potential customers and actually deliver on. What is your company’s value proposition?

Helpful resources

Value Proposition: A free worksheet to help you win arguments in any meeting

Powerful Value Propositions: How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and Lift Your Results

Value Proposition: Why do customers act?

Digital Marketing: How to craft a value proposition in 5 simple steps

Value Proposition Development Online Course

Question #3. What is a lead?

Is it an email address that you buy from a list? Probably not. Is it someone who provides a phone number for a white paper download?

Or is it someone who raises their hand and asks for more information about your company and product? Is it someone who has a big enough budget and the proper authority to buy your product?

Before you can really generate a “lead,” you should create a universal lead definition and make sure all the key players in your company (this usually includes Sales) to agree on what you’re actually trying to get.

Keep in mind, there is an implicit trade-off here. If you want to generate higher-quality leads, you will likely get a lower quantity (and vice versa) or have to invest more resources to get the leads.

On the flip side, if you’re generating a lot of low-quality leads, the cost will probably get you when you send them to Sales, in both man hours and the relationship between Sales and Marketing, because Sales tends to involve more human resources.

Marketing, on the other hand,  tends to involve less human touch, whether that’s due to marketing automation or the simple fact that a print ad can reach many more people at a much lower cost than a sales person.

Getting this step right can also help your Sales-Marketing alignment. In other words, making sure everyone involved in serving the customer before a purchase agrees on the strategy and processes to do that.

Helpful resources

Universal Lead Definition: Why 61% of B2B marketers are wasting resources and how they can stop

Intro to Lead Generation: How to determine if a lead is qualified

B2B Marketing: Why Marketing shouldn’t promise BANT qualified leads for Sales

Lead Gen: A proposed replacement for BANT

Lead Generation: Balancing lead quality and lead quantity

Sales-Marketing Alignment: 8 tactics from a marketer who has worn both hats

Question #4. How will we get leads?

This usually comes from some mix of content marketing, paid advertising, sponsorships and even affiliate programs.

This is, essentially, what most beginners think of as lead generation – the campaigns you run to engage potential buyers with your company.

This, like all these topics really, is a much bigger topic than a simple section of a blog post. But here are a few things to get you started.

Helpful resources

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

Content Marketing 101: 8 steps to B2B success

Marketing 101: What is conversion?

Orphan Forms: Marketing 101 change drives 32% increase in form completions

Inbound Marketing 101: 5 steps to help you get started

Social Media Marketing: 4 basic tips for getting started

Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started

Web Analytics: 3 basic insights to get you started

Lead Generation: 3 basic tips for webinar newbies

Question #5. Did we get leads?

Once prospects start responding to your campaigns, you have to determine if you really have leads. Question #3 will play a big factor in this determination. This is commonly known as lead qualification.

Helpful resources

On Lead Qualification: Steps to Convert Inquiries into Viable Sales Leads

Lead Qualification: Stop generating leads and start generating revenue

Why the Term “Marketing-Qualified Lead” Creates Serious Confusion – Part I

Question #6. What do we do with the lead?

The answer to this question probably seems fairly simple – send it to Sales.

But what you may find through this process (as you can see, one question informs another) is that what you have received through your campaigns aren’t really leads.

In the work you’ve done answering these questions with Sales, you may find that this is what Marketing would determine is a lead (Marketing-Qualified Lead) but not what Sales would consider a lead (a Sales-Qualified lead).

Lead nurturing is the process to move the prospects you’ve gathered through the funnel (or buying process) to the point they are ready to talk to a sales rep. The best definition I’ve ever heard of lead nurturing is from my colleague at MECLABS, Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale: Lead nurturing is helping prospects whether they buy from you or not.

Helpful resources

Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them

What IS and ISN’T Lead Nurturing

Lead Nurturing: How a social business strategy can help you move from selling to helping your prospects

How lead nurturing improves lead generation ROI

Lead Nurturing: 5 tips for creating relevant content

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Lead Generation , , , , ,

John Tackett

Email Marketing: 3 simple steps for building customer personas

John Tackett March 10th, 2014

Getting the right content to the right people continues to be a challenge in B2B marketing according to Byron O’Dell, Senior Director of Demand Management, IHS, who recently spoke at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014.

Byron explained how his organization transformed from batch and blast email sends to persona-driven campaigns.

In today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I want share the three simple steps for building customer personas Byron shared in his presentation to aid your targeted email marketing efforts.

Every solution starts somewhere

A big factor in solving the batch and blast challenge, as Byron revealed, rests in having the right people in the room to have a productive conversation about how personas can benefit an organization’s targeting efforts.

“It starts with some of the obvious,” Byron explained. “We needed to get the right Marketing folks and the right Product Management folks together and we knew we needed Sales and the voice of the customer as well.”

Step #1. Look to your existing customer data for insight into who buys from you

Once you have key people in the room, the trick to building personas is in looking at your existing customer data to gain insight into who buys from you.

“Initially we got the Marketing and product folks together and we [asked] what types of people are buying our products,” Byron said. “And we supplemented that with data looking at what types of [job] titles are we actually seeing in terms of net new deals.”

Step #2. Define your primary prospect personas


Byron also explained how the team used that insight to create six primary customer personas based on whom the organization would likely want to target.

Here’s the list the team created:

  • Military/Government (Planning & Strategy)
  • Military/Government (Technical & Program)
  • Intelligence Analysis
  • Industry (Commercial)
  • Industry (Technical & Program)
  • Media/Advertising/PR

Step #3. Never build personas in a vacuum


If there is one caveat to mention here, it’s that personas created in a vacuum outside of an alignment between Marketing and Sales is a fast track for missed opportunities.

Byron explained that the green primary personas were the ones Marketing believed were vital to their targeting efforts.

After some feedback from Sales, however, the team discovered there was some “granularity” that was also important to consider in building out personas.

The feedback led to the creation of a secondary set of personas that allowed the IHS team to really drill down into their targeting efforts in a way that would likely have been not possible had they not worked with Sales to develop the profiles of their ideal prospects.

Personas are only a means to an end

Personas can help you understand who is buying from you, but they are only a means to help you with the true goal of every email campaign: relevance.

Being relevant means you understand the needs of the customer and how you can serve those needs in a way no one else they encounter on the buyer’s journey can.

To learn more about the challenges Byron faced in transforming IHS’ email program, you can watch the on-demand webinar replay of “Marketing Automation: Key challenges a global information company overcame to transform from batch and blast to persona-driven email marketing.”

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Email Deliverability: 8 tactics help you overcome rising B2B challenges [Case study]

Email Marketing: Do you test your legacy marketing? [More from the blogs]

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Email Marketing , , , , ,

Brian Carroll

Why Empathetic Marketing Matters and 7 Steps to Achieve It

Brian Carroll March 3rd, 2014

I am at the earliest stages of developing a sequel to Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. It’s been a decade since the first draft and I’ve been contemplating how much business has changed since then.

Today’s sales and marketing environment is a paradox: There have never been more opportunities to reach customers; yet reaching them has never been more challenging.

We have more marketing channels than ever. We’ve moved from traditional advertising to social media, content marketing and beyond. But, I can’t help but wonder, as we have more ways to talk to our customers, are they really listening? Or are they shutting us out as we hurl more pitches at them from different angles?

I believe you can’t really answer that question unless you know precisely what your customers want. This requires letting go of our own assumptions of what we think they want and putting ourselves in their place.

This requires empathy, which according to Miriam-Webster, “is the ability to share someone else’s feeling.” To feel what they feel and think what they think.

Unfortunately, too many in corporate America believe sociopathic behavior – being laser-focused on getting what you want at the expense of everyone else – accelerates businesses and careers to success.

That’s so “Wolf of Wall Street.” What worked two decades ago won’t work today. Sociopathic behavior may be why too many businesses are struggling.

I believe to succeed in the new millennium, we must embrace empathy on every level with every customer – both internal and external. Our customers are more sophisticated than ever and have access to more information and more options. There’s no room for game-playing or guessing. We have to know what they want and give that to them.

Here’s an overview of what I believe can help achieve this. I plan on expanding on these points in future B2B Lead Roundtable Blog posts:

1. Put the customer first. Instead of worrying about being interesting, we need to first be interested. Understand the customer’s motivation (what they want) and make sure that’s aligned with what we can deliver.

2. Listen and seek to understand. Do we know why our customers say “yes”? Why are they buying from us? What are the steps they need take to say “yes”? What difference have we made for our customers because they bought our product or service?

3. Stop marketing, start conversing. Focus on developing conversations, not campaigns. Don’t err on the side of pushing our agenda rather than extending an invitation to converse. To the customer, it feels like “somebody wants something from me” rather than “maybe they can help me get what I want.” We need to demonstrate that we’re interested in their world and their motivations. Invite, listen, engage and recommend.

4. Help. The best marketing and sales doesn’t feel like marketing and sales at all. It feels like helping because it is. Our lead nurturing needs to be built on this concept.

5. Give them content they’ll want to share. This organically emerges from the first four points of placing the customer first, understanding them, conversing with them and helping them.

6. Remember that proximity is influence. Empower those closest to our customer – the sales team, inside sales team, sales engineers and customer service people – to be able to achieve the points above.

7. Practice empathy personally to set an example. Our customers are everyone we serve – including our staff and our coworkers. Show them how it’s done by practicing empathy yourself.

This introduces another paradox: We’ve never been more advanced with ways to connect with prospects, but we’re still not communicating effectively with them. A good start to doing that effectively begins with empathy.

What are your thoughts? Do you think empathetic marketing is achievable for your organization, why or why not?

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John Tackett

Email Marketing: Do you test your legacy marketing?

John Tackett February 24th, 2014

Change can be tough, especially if your organization is entrenched in legacy marketing.

I call it legacy marketing because it’s marketing on autopilot, a pandemic of “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way” thinking that is likely leaving a lot of ROI on the table.

Legacy marketing can be tough to shoulder because, according to Chris Hawver, Team Leader, Tennant, the only people who prefer change …

I joined Chris last week at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 for his session on how making some changes to Tennant’s email program transformed the team’s marketing efforts.

A key component of the change Chris covered was testing subject lines for a new email campaign. So, in today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog, I wanted to share the results of Chris’ email test that you can use to aid your testing and optimization efforts.

Before we get started, let’s review the research notes for some background information on the test.

Background: Tennant, a global cleaning equipment company.

Objective: To increase email open rates and number of demos scheduled.

Primary Research Question: Which subject line will generate the greatest overall open rate?

Test Design: A/B/C split test

According to Chris, the traditional approach in subject line A was how Tennant was crafting subject lines prior to the new email campaigns, which focused on announcing new product.

Subject line B included elements of the new campaign that were front-loaded in the subject line.

The hybrid subject line was a combination of both the traditional and nontraditional subject lines.

What you need to know


The subject line focused on a mix of product relevance and target audience appeal outperformed the traditional subject line by 24%.

Chris also mentioned this was this most successful email campaign in Tennant’s history.

“It increased demonstration requests and revenue significantly and transformed the culture of marketing at Tennant,” Chris explained.

Test your way out of legacy marketing

Chris’ experience with testing and optimization serves as an example of why A/B split testing is so powerful.

Testing can help you learn more about what appeals to your prospects.

It can also help you challenge your legacy assumptions by putting them on trial to determine if those practices still are truly the best for your organization.

And it can also get you started on testing your way out of the legacy marketing trap when “we’ve always done like this” becomes “we can’t do it like this any longer.”

You may also like

B2B Web Optimization: 140% surge in mobile transactions through responsive design effort [Case study]

Email Copywriting: 3 tactics for delivering value over perceived cost [More from the blogs]

Email Marketing: 2 campaigns that used innovative creative to generate leads [More from the blogs]

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John Tackett

Email Copywriting: 3 tactics for delivering value over perceived cost

John Tackett February 17th, 2014

After a quick stroll through the Aria Resort & Casino’s brilliant collage of metal, glass and escalators, my journey to reach MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 is complete.

As luck would have it, I’ve arrived just in time for the Email Messaging (overview of the online version of the course at that link) Workshop on “Writing Effective Email Copy,” led by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS.

During the session, Flint offered an interesting perspective on the relationship between email copy and the value proposition you deliver to prospects in your email marketing.

According to Flint, optimizing your email copy is a big key to tipping the value and cost force exchange fulcrum with your prospects.

“Copywriting is fraught with claims, and the job of a marketer is not to craft claims, but craft a conclusion,” Flint said.

In sum, good copywriting is about recognizing perceived costs in the mind of a prospect and delivering enough value to overcome those costs.

So in today’s post, I wanted to share three copywriting tactics for increasing perceived value that you can use to aid your email marketing efforts.

Use personalization to “arrest attention” from prospects

Here’s a screenshot of the letter-style email Flint used as an example to begin walking through how email copy can be optimized to communicate value to your prospects.

One thing to keep in mind here is although the example is drawn from B2C marketing, the ideas are easily transferable and ultimately advantageous to any email program that realizes how rapidly B2B and B2C marketing segments are eroding.

A few things he pointed out in this example were:

  • Personal – The email initially engages the recipient with a personal greeting
  • Tone – Copy is written in relational language that is easy to understand

Connect your offer to a prospect’s behavior

The technology tools available to email marketers these days are amazingly sophisticated.

Marketers can segment, automate and personalize like never before.

But unless you can connect your offer to a prospect’s position in the purchase cycle based on behavior, you’re going to have a tough go of making a meaningful connection.

Flint’s illustration emphasizes that point by highlighting a known behavior about the prospect.

“Look at how the first sentence begins to connect the offer of the email to the specific behavior of the recipient, Flint explained, “This email is going to give the customers just enough to move forward in the conversation and it’s also reminding you why you’re receiving this.”

Build interest before the “ask”

Delivering value is all about building interest.

Copy that clearly answers the question, “What do I get out of this?” for a prospect while resisting the temptation to sell is key to doing this effectively, or as Flint simply puts it, “Clarity trumps persuasion.”

An email is just a vessel

One big takeaway from this session is essentially thinking not just about copywriting, but ultimately, thinking about email itself.

If you strip away all of the copy, images and expectations, emails are an empty vessel waiting to be filled.

They can be filled with valuable content, perceived as useful and delightful to the recipient.

Or they can be filled with another sales pitch thrown at the list with the hopes that a few a stick and click.

How we choose to fill those vessels for our prospects is truly how we are serving them.

And that choice is up to us.

You may also like

Marketing Automation: IT company boosts leads 59%, generates $1.5 million with system implementation [Case study]

Customer-centric Marketing: Survey program turned 30% of unsatisfied software customers into brand advocates [Case study]

Email Marketing: 2 campaigns that used innovative creative to generate leads [More from the blogs]

E-commerce: Harnessing the power of email automation and behavior-based marketing to increase conversions [Case study]

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