John Tackett

Lead Generation: Balancing lead quality and lead quantity

John Tackett February 3rd, 2014

Lead generation is somewhat like a tightrope act.

Generate too many leads, and the rope between Sales and Marketing breaks. If you don’t generate enough leads that turn into sales, your ROI plummets.

As Debbie Pryer, Program Manager, Siemens Healthcare, discovered, finding the right balance between lead quantity and quality takes trust, teamwork and planning.

When the rope breaks, you get the Wild West

In the health care segment of Siemens, field service engineers interact directly with customers to repair medical equipment. This interaction was a great opportunity to capitalize on generating prospects interested in Siemens products.

Service engineers were considered trusted advisers for customers, so having them submit leads to an external website seemed like a great approach to generate leads.

But something went wrong.

A monetary incentive for sales-qualified leads seemed to be working until the number of unqualified leads skyrocketed to 12,000 after the program was released to thousands of employees.

Ultimately, the expansion also led to 65% of those leads being rejected, so while the program was generating leads, they were not high-quality leads.

“It was totally the Wild West; anybody could submit any kind of lead they wanted for anything,” Debbie explained.

Audit the situation and look for problems

Debbie’s initial challenge as she explained in her presentation at Lead Gen Summit 2013 in San Francisco was to realign Service and Sales after the program’s high rejection rate ultimately created a distrust between the two departments.

To accomplish this, Debbie shifted the lead generation approach from a linear model to a closed loop with a customer-centric focus.

She explained, “You learn from those mistakes and it’s what you take with that learning and what you do with it.”

Realignments in process are also important

Getting all the moving pieces to work together is tough. There’s buy-in from all of the stakeholders and then gathering all of the resources you need to make it happen.

The key to making this massive shift work, according to Debbie, is in communicating those changes across the organization effectively.

“If you don’t put together some kind of communications plan of what you’re going to communicate to whom and when, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of heartache,” she said.

To learn more about Debbie’s approach to revitalizing Siemen’s lead generation program and the factors she identifies as keys to success, you can watch the on-demand Summit webinar replay of “Lead Generation: How to empower your program like Siemens Healthcare.”

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B2B Social Media: SAP Latin America boosts followers 900% [Part II] [Case study]

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Kyle Chapman

Value Proposition: What motivates prospects to buy from you?

Kyle Chapman January 27th, 2014

One day at the office, I decided to put a dollar bill on my cubicle wall.

When people walked by, they would ask why I was putting money on my wall. My initial response was that I simply like money. Surprisingly, a couple of people added their own dollar bills to my wall.

I don’t really know why they did it, but the dollar wall ended up with about 10 dollar bills on it within a week or two.

Change drives growth

Then, my wall became stagnant.

People continued to ask what the money was for, and when I realized that my normal response wasn’t working, I changed their motivation by telling them it was for after work drinks and we were all going to go out on the money we raised.

I saw another surge in dollars with that response for a few more weeks. I was up to around $25 or so, when it started to die down again. It was time to change their motivation.

As I was trying to think about another way to get more dollars, I remembered that the mom of one of the guys in the office was diagnosed with cancer. I remembered him putting together an event to raise money for her medical bills, so I decided to donate my dollar wall to the cause.

Does your message connect with a change in motivation?

I sent out an email to the company describing what I was doing. And, to my surprise, within five minutes of the email going out, I had a line of people waiting to put dollars up on the wall. The change in motivation worked brilliantly.

By the end of the week, there was roughly $150 on the wall.

Although it wasn’t a lot of money in the whole scheme of things, it was still something and I was able to see how changing the motivation of a prospect can completely change revenue.

What motivates your prospects to buy from you?

In the business world, it isn’t that easy as most of the time the prospect’s motivation often ends at simply purchasing a product or service.

So, if you aren’t seeing a viable revenue stream from a product, you might have to cut your losses and either change the product or discontinue it altogether.

However, we can do things to change the image of the company in order to increase motivation. For example, we can promise to donate a percentage of profit to charity, promise to take a green initiative or manufacture everything in the USA.

I also realize that prospect motivation is difficult to measure with something like A/B split testing, and it may not have a hard metric we can measure at all. It’s just another way we can look at trying to increase revenue and possibly generate more leads at the same time.

But motivation is arguably the strongest reason people buy something.

When they search for your product or service in a search engine, they are clearly interested in what you have to sell. They may need to be sold a little more before they actually purchase, but the motivation piece is already set.

To learn more about how you can dial into prospect motivation, watch the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 video replay of, “How You Can Use Email to Discover the Essence of Your Value Proposition.”

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Jessica Lorenz

Email Marketing: Writing powerful email copy boosts CTR 400%

Jessica Lorenz January 20th, 2014

According to the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link), nearly one out of three (32%) respondents perceive that email marketing will yield ROI “eventually,” while 60% reported email is producing ROI.

No matter where you stack up here, one thing is certain – creating email copy that engages your customers is vital to aiding your efforts to produce ROI.

To help you do that, Donna Krizik, Director, Client Communications, Crestwood Associates, explained how the craft behind creating a powerful email copy is serving the customer rather than pushing the sale.

In this video clip from Email Summit 2013, Donna Krizik sat down with Justin Bridegan, Senior Marketing Manager, MECLABS, and discussed the three fundamentals in creating powerful email copy.

As Krizik reflected on giving the customer relevant content, she asked fellow marketers, “If [the message] is not really of value, do you need to email them?”

First, understanding your audience and communicating with them in a meaningful way that relates directly to their needs is likely to deliver a far more compelling message.

“If I can’t relate to you, if I can’t engage with you,” Justin argued, “why am I going to continue the conversation?”

Donna and Justin also discussed how an email is the beginning of a conversation with the customer rather than a sales pitch. They also touched on the goal of an email, which is to get the customer to the website, not to purchase from the email.

Finally, they wrapped up with your call-to-action. The idea here is having a clear, concise link or button in your email that allows the reader to make only one decision.

In summary, writers of powerful emails should do three things:

  • Understand who they are writing to
  • Communicate why they are writing to the recipient
  • Wrap up what they want the recipient to do

Watch the full free presentation to see Donna’s transferrable case studies.

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Email Marketing , , ,

John Tackett

B2B Social Media: How do you measure the ROI of a LinkedIn InMail campaign?

John Tackett January 13th, 2014

How do you measure the return on investment of a LinkedIn InMail campaign?

This is becoming a fairly common question in B2B social media marketing, and it’s understandable given the increasing adoption of InMail as a B2B marketing strategy. Consequently, the need to quantify efforts in the channel is also becoming quite clear.

So, how do you approach it?

Consider engagement and awareness

According to Meagen Eisenberg, Vice President of Demand Generation, Docusign, one approach to tackling the challenge is to look at the overall awareness and engagement your campaigns generate in your target group and drill down on prospect behavior and metrics from there.

Meagen also mentioned the difference between how your prospects read an email versus an InMail.

“When we get email, we’re either opening it on our phone or on our desktop, but are we truly taking time to read it or a moment of time to digest it?” Meagen asked.

“And I think when you’re in InMail on LinkedIn, you’re taking that time, so opens are significant,” she said.

Determine how performance translates into business opportunity

“The main goal is to drive revenue, so the absolute best measurement [is] did we actually close business and have some significant opportunities come out of it,” Meagen said.

To learn more about how Meagen used InMail as a strategy that cut through the noise to successfully create large pipeline opportunities, you can watch the free on-demand MarketingSherpa webinar replay of “B2B Social Media Marketing: DocuSign’s targeted LinkedIn InMail strategy creates 3 large pipeline opportunities.”

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J. David Green

The Domino Theory of B2B Content Marketing

J. David Green January 6th, 2014

“You don’t optimize a landing page or an email. You optimize the thought sequence of the customer.”

This is one of my favorite aphorisms from Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, parent company of MarketingSherpa.

That approach works well for the short time someone is engaging your landing page or other marketing medium, but what about longer time horizons common to complex B2B sales?

Let me illustrate the answer with a case study where I first learned about what I will refer to as the “domino theory” of content marketing. You’ve seen scenarios where one domino can knock over the next domino, creating a chain reaction. That’s a perfect metaphor for content marketing in B2B, not just within the buying cycle, but across the lifecycle of a customer.

Too often, marketers think of content marketing as only text and graphics; white papers, e-books or infographics. But, content marketing is the entire experience of your customer across your customer-facing brand touchpoints.

In that context, content marketing can include social, video, mobile, customer service, sales, event marketing and even the products and services customers buy from you. You should orchestrate any and all of these elements into a domino framework aligned to the growing relationship and expectations of your customers.

My client was, at the time of this case study, the world’s largest mergers and acquisitions (M&A) company serving the mid-market. The target was the CEO of a $3 million to $100 million company. This scenario presented one key challenge: CEOs of mid-market companies are the original do-it-yourselfers. They were totally disinclined to seek the services of an M&A firm.

To address this issue, the company had a highly structured four-step process:

  • Domino #1: The company invited CEOs to opt-in to a by-invitation-only quarterly newsletter that shared proprietary information about selling mid-market companies. The newsletters went to the private residence of the CEO to keep such a sensitive topic from worrying existing employees.
  • Domino #2: Those CEOs would then be invited to an exclusive one or two-day workshop at a five-star destination resort. The workshop was led by a former CEO who had sold his own company. Networking with other CEOs was part of the appeal, as was the opportunity to write-off a mini vacation. These workshops, which had an unconditional money-back guarantee of satisfaction, helped CEOs understand the complexity and danger of attempting to sell their own company and the legitimate advantages of using a third party.
  • Domino #3: At the end of the workshop, seminar leaders would introduce a service for packaging the company for sell.
  • Domino #4: By looking closely at the financials and other considerations, the M&A firm could then prioritize the most viable companies and market a deep portfolio of potential acquisition candidates to their own buyer community.

I have seen this domino theory of content marketing repeated many times. The key is always really digging in and understanding the motivations of your customers and then designing content – in its broadest sense – that takes them on a long journey through the lifecycle of your relationship with them.

In this case, the content was not just the direct mail, email, landing page or newsletter, but the nuance of making this a highly confidential matter that warranted gaining the home address of the CEO, the upscale resort, the opportunity to network with other CEOs in a similar situation and even the evaluation service.

More importantly, the M&A company sequenced this content to move the customer systematically through a complex decision.

In this sense, content marketing isn’t just words and images, but it’s a set of experiences that occur in many months or years. To paraphrase Flint, you are not optimizing content; you are optimizing the lifetime of your relationship with each customer.

Photo attribution: Pixel

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Erin Hogg

2013 Year in Review: Top 6 focus areas for B2B marketers this year

Erin Hogg December 30th, 2013

As the holiday season quickly approaches an end, and marketers prepare to make 2014 their best year yet, we pulled together the top blog posts on the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog to share the most popular topics, chosen by marketers just like you.

In 2012, the top focus for B2B marketers was understanding and leveraging social media. With the quickly evolving nature of this medium, it is no surprise it was also the top category marketers wanted to learn more about in 2013.

Read on for five more areas of focus that were top of mind in the B2B realm in 2013.

Topic #1. Use social media to generate leads and connect with prospects

Social Media Marketing: Dell reveals how it turns thousands of brand detractors into fans

This  post was the most tweeted B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post in 2013 with, at the time of this writing, 199 shares. Andrea Johnson, Copywriter, MECLABS, revealed how Dell leveraged social media to reach out to customers and monitor conversations online.

Through Dell’s efforts in establishing its very own Social Media & Community University, which 105,000 employees have attended, and its Social Outreach Services, Dell has turned thousands of brand retractors into advocates.

Out of the approximately 3,000 issues the Social Outreach Services team receives a week, all but 3% come to a resolution and about 40% to 50% of the people who initiated them speak positively of Dell afterwards.

“Social media has made more of an impact, significantly on B2B than B2C. For us, B2B is about relationships, and social media is all about relationships,” Richard Margetic, Director of Global Social Media, Dell, said.

In addition to connecting with customers, social media is also an outlet for generating leads.

Honorable Mention: Lead Generation: 5 tips to generate leads faster on LinkedIn

In this blog post, Ellie Mirman, Head of SMB Marketing, HubSpot and Shreesha Ramdas, General Manager, Leadformix, discussed five tactics for generating leads using LinkedIn.

Through audience segmentation, building credibility, providing valuable content, taking advantage of paid LinkedIn programs, and communicating effectively, B2B marketers can utilize LinkedIn to its full potential for lead gen.

Topic #2. Content marketing is becoming more essential for success

B2B Marketing: 3 reasons for adopting video content into your marketing mix

Coming in second place at 141 tweets, John Tackett, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS, discussed three reasons B2B marketers should adopt video content into their content marketing strategies.

“Not only is video a great way to share your story, it’s also a great way to build links back to your site. And, if users engage with your video, it helps to increase time on site,” Gaby Paez, Associate Director of Research, MECLABS, explained.

John also explained how it is projected that 77% of all Internet users will be viewing digital video content online by 2016. Therefore, it’s a great time to develop that aspect of content marketing into your own B2B efforts.

Honorable MentionLead Generation: Content among the most difficult tactics, but also quite effective

In the MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link), the marketers surveyed  indicated content marketing to be one of the most difficult tactics. However, it was also ranked as one of the most effective.

In this blog post, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, shared some insights from your peers on content marketing.

“… It’s all about feeling the pulse of your Web visitors. The power of content is that you can use different content pieces to speed up their pulse and get them to a purchasing decision by moving them deeper into the conversion funnel. Aside of email, hardly any other tactic is as effective of a convincer as content,” Igor Mateski, Owner, WebMaxFormance, said.

Topic #3. Understanding your customers

Lead Generation: Who knows the customer better – Marketing or Sales?

“We all feel that we have a golden gut to some extent, especially when we’re interacting directly with customers.” – Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS

In this blog post, Daniel discussed how to face a situation where sales and marketing departments are not aligned. Who really understands the customers better – Marketing or Sales?
Trust the data, not your gut. Are you choosing the appropriate keywords that will resonate with your audience the most?

When facing these types of challenges, use numbers to make your case on who knows the customer best.

Another method to discover what your customers want or need from you is to test your value proposition.

Honorable Mention: Lead Generation: How well do you really know what your customers want?

In this blog post, we learned that through testing value propositions, marketers can truly understand what your customers need.

Jon Ciampi, Vice President, Marketing, Business & Corporate Development, CRC Health, learned his customers craved trust, not luxury.

Using this, he reinvented his lead funnel and applied his discoveries to everything from landing pages to call scripts.

Testing a value prop can be tested through several key channels. Read on to discover which channels your peers are using.

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

This year we heard from Todd Wilms, Head of Social Strategy, and Adriel Sanchez, VP, Demand Generation, both of SAP, at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013.

Todd and Adriel presented how engaged in a social business strategy to help teams around the world connect with local audiences.

“This idea of moving from ‘sell’ to ‘helping your customers buy’ is at the heart of social business. It’s a model that the customer is going to make the decisions already, they’re going come to you when they are ready,” Todd said.

Topic #4. Capitalizing on email for lead gen

Email Marketing: 4 steps to relevancy 85% of B2B businesses probably aren’t taking

Utilizing email is not a new marketing tactic, but many B2B organizations are not taking advantage of its potential to generate leads.

In this post, Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Revenue Optimization, MECLABS, discussed the importance of email as a tactic for B2B marketing and how to stay relevant with your audience.

Topic #5. Start developing a mobile site

Mobile Marketing: What 4 top B2B companies can teach us about mobile

Gaby Paez, Senior Business Intelligence Manager, MECLABS, reviewed the mobile sites of some fortune 500 B2B companies to gain a sense of how these successful enterprises approach mobile marketing.

What she found was shocking as  out of 12 she selected for her review, only four total had a mobile site.

Although her pool of companies is small, this is an interesting find given the MarketingSherpa 2012 Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report, (free excerpt at that link), reveals that 52% of B2B marketers considered mobile marketing very important to influence their company’s growth in the next three years.

Read on to see how top B2B companies are incorporating mobile websites into their strategy.

With all of those great insights on how a B2B mobile site should function, this next blog post focuses on where to spend your mobile budget to make those ideas a reality.

Honorable MentionB2B Mobile Marketing: 3 ideas on where to spend your next mobile budget

With 12% of Americans consuming their media through mobile phones, B2B marketers should be thinking seriously about their mobile sites.

In this blog post, Michael Groszek, Business Intelligence Manager, MECLABS, presented three ideas for balancing value and reducing friction on a mobile experience.

Topic #6. Leads 101— Back to basics

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

Finally, one of the top blog posts for 2013 took lead gen back to its roots. How should you be determining if a lead is qualified?

Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, explained that before marketers start qualifying leads, Sales and Marketing need to devise a universal lead definition.

“This involves a sales-marketing huddle since, much like good art, it is not only the artist but also the art viewer and buyer that must agree on a definition. To put it more bluntly – if Sales doesn’t think the lead is qualified, it ain’t qualified.”

From there, Daniel presented six methods, ranked in order of least to most difficult, of determining if a lead is qualified:

  • Contact information
  • Firmographics
  • BANT
  • Behavioral analytics and lead scoring
  • Predictive analytics
  • Hand raiser

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Lead Management: 4 principles to follow

Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%

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Beata Bordas

Lead Generation: 2 questions every marketer should ask themselves about prospect motivation

Beata Bordas December 23rd, 2013

The most important factor to keep in mind when creating your landing page is your prospects’ motivation.

Highly motivated prospects can make for highly motivated leads if your landing pages deliver the right message to the right prospect at the right time.

However, it’s the prospects who are not highly motivated that you need to worry about. They will quickly deter from your page unless you can convince them your product or service will provide them with more value than they need to exchange for it.

In today’s post, I wanted to share with you two questions to ask yourself about your prospects’ motivation, which will help you match your landing page content to your visitors’ motivation and ensure their expectations are met.

Who are my prospects?

First, you must ask yourself, “Who are my prospects, and where are they in the purchase cycle?”

Generally, your site will see three types of visitors.

  • The window shoppers – These are prospects who are very early in the sales cycle. They aren’t completely sure about all the details behind what they are looking for, so they are browsing to gain a general sense of the market and the options available to serve their needs.

Window shoppers may have little to no motivation and need greater convincing that they have a need for your product or service.

  • The researchers – These are prospects who know what they are looking for and are most likely comparison shopping.

Researchers have moderate motivation. They are interested in your product, but are looking for that extra boost. What sets your product apart from the competition? You could solve for this by providing an incentive, or guaranteeing a price match.

  • The patrons – They know what they want and are just looking for the next step in the purchase cycle.

Patrons are just looking to complete their transaction. Streamlining the purchase process to make it as clear, quick and easy as possible should be your main goal.

Recognizing which types of prospects are frequently visiting your pages is the key to appealing to those who need the biggest push.

Also, using copy and images on your landing pages that directly support the value proposition of your products or service is a big step toward helping you communicate and appeal to all prospects.

Does our landing page deliver on the expectations we are setting?

The second question to ask yourself is rooted in how your visitors arrive to your landing page.

Did they click on a highly incentivized banner? Or do you have targeted PPC ads on social media or a very specifically themed blog? The point I want to stress here is that whatever you promise in the prior step of the funnel is what they want to find in the next.

If most of your traffic is coming from banners that promise a $100 gift card incentive, then immediately address that incentive on your page; that’s what your visitors will be looking for because it is most likely what motivated them to click on the banner. If a large portion of your traffic is coming from PPC ads, consider what page that ad is on.

For example, if your visitors are coming from an ad on a blog specifically about a review of analytics platforms, they are most likely perusing analytics platforms or some other relative software to try and find the right one. Use this knowledge to you advantage.

Again, most prospects are not sales ready, so it’s your job to convince them that when they are ready, your product or service is the perfect fit for their needs.

As you will find, getting millions of visitors to your page will be insignificant if it doesn’t match their motivation for going to it. Always, always, always think about what your visitors wish to achieve by visiting your page, and how they got there.

Remember, you can always make multiple landing pages to match the different motivations of your unique visitors, but you only have one shot at a lasting impression.

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Brian Carroll

3 Important Lessons for Lead Gen and Life

Brian Carroll December 16th, 2013

This year, more than ever, has been humbling for me.

People look to me as an expert at lead generation because I wrote a book and speak about it. But it seems the more I learn, the less I think I know.

I probably am more acutely aware of this because I work for MECLABS, an organization that is laser-focused on learning and teaching others – including many global organizations – about how to continuously improve marketing.

Consequently, I’m constantly learning and constantly discovering how much more I have to learn. Read on for three important lessons instilled in me this year.

Use your knowledge resources

I have to confess: I began 2013 feeling behind. I’m charged with helping MECLABS attain Research Partnerships. This is more complex than standard lead generation – we’re not trying to sell. Instead, we’re trying to identify organizations that can fit our specific research model. We end up turning away prospects far more than we accept.

Frankly, back in January, I wanted to have more momentum in this process, but I felt like I had far too much to accomplish and far too little time to accomplish it. So, in that situation, who has time to review case studies and reports?

Who has time to strategize?

Reflecting on it 12 months later, I realize that smart, effective people do, because that’s when they discover the solutions to help them accomplish their goals.

Practice what you preach

I finally allowed myself the time to examine our organization’s vast knowledge of online testing to determine how this knowledge could be applied to conversations over the phone.

You see, much of our process for accepting Research Partner applications transpires via the phone channel. In this process, our first goal is to make sure our prospects are delighted that we contacted them; our second is to identify a potential Research Partner.

Of course, the steps to test online cannot be simply layered over the phone conversations. The human touch is different than the virtual one.

However, we successfully applied the patented Conversion Heuristic, created by MarketingExperiments, a division of MECLABS, that has typically been used as a systematic framework to analyze a conversion process.

Learn more about our experience with that here: “Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%.”

Through these efforts, we are now doing significantly more teleprospecting in less time. Here’s just one example: We wanted to learn how to structure a voicemail to attract the highest rate of callbacks.

We discovered that immediately mentioning a free Benchmark Report, as opposed to waiting until the next sentence, increased call backs by 182% – that’s nearly double! Consider the increased productivity: those are 182% fewer people our analysts have to call back.

If I had practiced what MECLABS preached earlier in the year, I could have been up to speed much more quickly in achieving my goals.

Simplicity is the true sign of expertise

As I continually learn new methods to improve my own lead generation, I understand the process better. In fact, a few years ago, I wrote this e-book: Eight Critical Success Factors for Lead Generation. If I wrote this book today, I would boil it down to just three:

  • Engaging the right people in the right companies
  • With the right message
  • And nurturing that conversation until the right time

A true measure of expertise, I realize, is the ability to make the seemingly complex so simple that anyone can understand it.

Einstein was right when he proclaimed that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know it well enough. Once again, I now realize how much I didn’t know a year ago, how much I know today, and how much more – really, so much more – I still need to learn.

What lead gen and life lessons did you learn in 2013? I’d love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.

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Lead Management: 4 principles to follow

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Daniel Burstein

Email Marketing: How do you create excitement around the content you have?

Daniel Burstein December 9th, 2013

I like to think of email marketing as more of a newspaper than a television ad.

When you’re creating a television ad, you can create one (or a very few ads) and place them across endless media buys. After all, a customer should be exposed to the ad at least three times during each purchase cycle, according to old school advertising conventional wisdom.

However, with a newspaper, you have to give the customer a reason to keep receiving that daily delivery on their driveway every morning. Sometimes it’s easy to find fresh, compelling content such as the recent health care website kerfuffle. But other times,  it’s a slow news day and you just have to fill some slots (“mosquito bite victim”).

Many marketers I talk to who are just starting out in content marketing seem to face many slow news days. They often struggle how to find valuable, compelling content for potential customers.

At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, I pulled Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute, aside during lunch to share some tips about email marketing content. Here’s what Joe had to say.

Here are a few key points I took away from Joe:

  • Stay away from pitching; focus on the long-term relationship.
  • People don’t care about us, our products or services. They care about their own challenges.
  • Think of yourself like a publisher or media company.
  • Give value every day, so when you do have a sales message, customers will let you in.
  • Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint – content marketing starts, and there is really no end.
  • Create a content marketing mission statement: What is the outcome for the reader?
  • Leverage employees, customers and influencers to become the trusted, go-to resource for your customers.
  • The position to hire first and foremost? Managing editor.

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Email Marketing: How CNET re-engaged inactive subscribers

Email Deliverability: Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 – February 17-20 in Las Vegas

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Rebecca Strally

B2B Marketing: 6 essentials for testing your teleprospecting

Rebecca Strally December 2nd, 2013

For years, marketers have been testing messages on emails, websites and pay-per-click ads to determine which ones drive the most sales. At MECLABS, we’ve made this a science and have even patented a Conversion Heuristic to analyze the process.

A few months ago, we started applying this heuristic to a channel that is more than a century old – the telephone. MECLABS has its own leads generation group working with clients to help them drive more revenue through teleprospecting.

Last summer, we began applying what we learned from online testing to that channel and recently, Brian Carroll wrote about how using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%.

When I asked Craig Kasel, Program Manager, MECLABS, for a few insights into testing teleprospecting, he explained that testing can help deliver the right messaging to prospects.

“It’s a good idea to test your lead process to make sure you’re getting the appropriate messaging to the correct people,” Craig explained.

After speaking with Craig about some of the teleprospecting testing projects he’s been a part of at MECLABS to discover how B2B marketers could apply this science to their teleprospecting efforts, here’s our best advice from what we’ve learned so far.

Engage your call center

No testing will work if your callers aren’t completely on board with the idea.

To build the buy-in that produces accurate test results:

  • Involve them right away. They’ll know better than anyone else what messages (or treatments) are worth testing.

In fact, you may find some of your callers are probably already engaged in some form of informal testing.

  • Make sure they understand why they’re doing it, and why their role is so important. If they appreciate their purpose and are involved in creating the test, they’ll be more engaged and excited to help.

Build a simple structure

Determine the problem you’re trying to solve, the question that will help solve that problem, and the results that will help you answer the question.

We do this by developing a research plan, which has:

  • A primary research question – Which statement will help us reach a decision-maker faster?
  • A primary metric – Number of decision-makers reached.
  • A secondary metric – Number of sales handoffs.
  • A problem statement – Contacts were hesitant to provide the name of the decision maker.
  • Test hypothesis – We will find out which statement best encourages the contacts to give us decision-maker information.

Determine which approach to testing works best for your organization

  • Sequential tests – Callers test a single message for a time period, and then test another message for a time period.

Craig recommended sequential testing if you are going to have the same callers executing both tests.

“This is also the type of test we typically run because it’s easiest,” Craig explained. “If one of our lead generation specialists discovers a new approach they think works better, we let them try it and then measure the results.”

  • A/B split tests – Measure multiple messages simultaneously. This is better for larger call centers where you have the manpower to have separate people test separate messages in the same time frame.

Test one variable at a time

This way, when you see the result of the test, you will know precisely which variable – the general element you intend to test – influenced it. When you test multiple variables at once, you can’t isolate what caused the results.

Here’s an example of three test scripts based on the research plan above. The portions bolded are the elements of the message we tested.


Hello, ___, my name is Jane and I am calling with The Widget Company.

We are currently the third-largest widget company in the nation offering competitive prices and solutions to make your job easier. When we last spoke, you told me that you use a consulting service to select widget support. Could I have your consultant’s information so the next time they choose widget support, we can be included in their evaluation?

Treatment A

Hello, ___, my name is Jane and I am calling with The Widget Company.

When we last spoke, you told me that you hired a consultant to select widget support. I wanted to let you know that we have a widget sale and I wanted to speak with your consultant to see if our sale on widgets would be a good fit for you. How can I reach them?

Treatment B

Hello, ___, my name is Jane and I am calling with The Widget Company.

When we last spoke, you told me that you work with a consultant to select widget support. Since we do not nationally advertise and may not have had the opportunity to work with your consultant, we would like to share our information with them. I would like to get your broker contact information in order to be in consideration when they next do their evaluations for you.

Validity starts with confidence

Level of confidence is a statistical term that you’ve reached a certain pre-established level of probability in a test. We want to minimize the chances that the difference in the metrics of interest between the treatments is due to random chance.

For example, a test with a 95% level of confidence has only a 5% chance that the observed difference is random chance.

Here are some of examples of validity threats that can negatively affect a test’s level of confidence.

  • Sample distortion effects – This happens when your sample of calls is too small to determine a 95% level of confidence in your testing.

A sufficient sample size depends on your existing success rate. For instance, if you’re measuring the number of sales leads, and your typical success rate is two leads for every 100 calls, then making 500 calls will give a better estimate of your true lead rate than only making 200 calls.

The lower your existing success rate is, the more people you will have to call to achieve a valid test.

Also, it is possible to work with small sample sizes, but the caveat here is your tolerance for risk when making business decisions based on less confidence in your sample pool.

  • List pollution effect – You can’t run a new test or treatment by the same list. The list has to be fresh to each test. For example, if you need 500 contacts to achieve validity, you can’t call a list of 250 people twice.
  • History effect – This happens when tests are too drawn out so influences outside the treatment are more likely to skew results. With A/B testing, you will avoid this since both tests run simultaneously. Try to compress the time span of your testing. We prefer one to two weeks.
  • Selection effect – This happens when test subjects aren’t distributed evenly. For instance, one treatment is tested on a list that’s never been called before and another treatment is tested on a list that that is months old.
  • Channel selection effect – In teleprospecting, your channel isn’t a pay-per-click advertisement or website; it’s the person who is making the call. Channel consistency is critical to ensuring test validity.

On a website, you can completely control the presentation of value. That’s impossible to do with phone calls. However, you can make them more consistent by:

  • Providing a detailed script for callers to follow.
  • Training them on how to use the script.
  • Recording all calls and listening to at least 50% of them to make sure tone and inflection are similar from call to call.

Consider every test a winner

Even if a test results in fewer conversions, you still haven’t wasted time or money. You’re just one step closer to understanding what works. In fact, sometimes we learn more from a losing test than a winning one.

Photo attribution: Cropbot

Related Resources:

Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%

Lead Gen: A proposed replacement for BANT

Landing page Optimization online course

Customer Connection: Does your entire marketing process connect to your customers’ motivations?

Landing Page Optimization: Addressing customer anxiety

Landing Page Optimization: Test ideas for B2B lead capture page

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