Get Prospects to Take Action: Content Variety

Blogs, Videos, ChecklistsDo you often wonder what you can do to get your content marketing to convert?

While pondering this question myself I got to thinking about my daily life. Have I seen anything lately that has made me want to click, have I purchased anything recently after seeing an advertisement and what email marketing campaigns have I opened? Then I realized I was looking at this the wrong way. I needed to look more at my daily life and routines; what gets me to take action?

I often write myself reminders on fluorescent colored sticky notes and place them where I look daily. For example my notes usually end up on the bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator. This seems like a fool proof way to remind myself to do things. The problem is that the sticky notes catch my attention the first couple times, but eventually I procrastinate long enough or walk by them so often that I stop noticing the fluorescent notes dotted around my house.

Sometimes my cleverly placed notes do the trick but most of the time they get ignored. So, how do I remind myself to do things? It’s quite the process to be honest.

First I write it down on that hopeless little sticky note. You know, just in case it works.

Second, I put the to-do in my calendar with an alert triggered for a day or two before my deadline. Now we all know life can be crazy so when this alert goes off 50% of the time I’m already engaged in another activity.

This brings me to my third and final tactic; setting an alarm on my phone. Now, this alarm is set strategically for a time that I’m usually not busy, like after nine pm on a weekday or prior to my usual wake up alarm. When my alarm goes off at one of those times I know it is important and I’m sent into action.

What has become obvious to me is that it takes different types and repetitive reminders for me to take action. Now these aren’t life and death situations just to dos that should be done to make my life better and/or easier. I don’t think I’m the only one who works this way when presented with a good idea/opportunity that is non-emergent.

This behavior is also present in the buying process and needs to be addressed.

You aren’t going to hit your sales goals by engaging with a prospect once and it is rare to convert using only one sales/marketing tactic. One key to selling is content variety.

Like the sticky notes you need an introduction to create awareness of your product. Let’s say you start with cold calling. You get a few interested prospects but no one buys. What do you think is the next step? Continue to call or send them information on the product?

It’s time to engage your prospects with digital content. Get your prospects to look at you again and take notice – your content marketing is to your prospects as the calendar reminder is to me. Now that you have their attention address their pain points, educate them on your solution and move them towards the decision making stage.

Digital content is most easily shared with specific prospects via email. When using email as your communication platform your content is being delivered the same way every time but your content shouldn’t be the same. Make each email new and fresh with different subject lines and offers. The first step to getting prospects engaged is getting them to open the emails. Get variety in your subject lines by using questions and calls to action and also varying the length of the subject line.

Once your prospects are opening the emails you need them to click on your content. Again, if you’re always sending them the same thing they will start ignoring your efforts. In order to incorporate content variety; maybe you start by sending intro copy about your product, and then send a problem/solution video, then a microsite followed by case studies and or a white paper.

Now that your prospects are engaged it is key to make sure that the content on your website, blog and social media also have content variety. You’re targeting a large group of people with different pain points and personal preferences on how they consume information.

You have placed your sticky notes and you have enhanced awareness with your calendar reminder, now all you have to do is set the alarm to get your prospects to take action. This seems like a daunting task but it is easily done through scoring content and tracking prospects through marketing automation. You can see where your prospects are in the buying process by what links they are clicking, the pages they are visiting and whether or not they are filling out forms or downloading case studies or white papers. When you can see that they are engaging and getting close to the decision stage it is time to call them. Get them to schedule a time to view a demo and get in contact with your closer.

Your strategy may differ from this example, however, as long as you are communicating through multiple platforms and you have content variety you will obtain and keep the attention of your prospects. If you are relying on one repetitiveness without variety your prospects will stop noticing you and won’t take action.

For more tips on content creation to enhance your sales process, read “5 Steps to B2B Content Engagement Success.”

To learn more about Gabriel Sales and our sales marketing strategy please contact us.

3 Ways Marketing Automation Increases B2B Effectiveness

marketing automationMany B2B companies today are searching for solutions to generate more leads and are considering marketing automation.

For some companies, this has meant venturing into the fast-paced and complex world of B2B content marketing. And while almost any content you produce can’t hurt, simply throwing content on your website and waiting for leads to come in is no longer enough. To succeed and thrive in 2014, you need digital tools that help you manage and streamline your sales and marketing process from start to finish.

One tool that many B2B companies are leveraging with great success is marketing automation. The exact features of these platforms vary somewhat from vendor to vendor, but for the most part, they all help you track and monitor your prospects engagement along various stages of the B2B sales cycle.

In terms of content specifically, here are three ways marketing technologies increases the effectiveness of B2B content marketing.

1.  Allows you to track content engagement by prospect.

One of the most beneficial features of marketing automation is the ability to measure content engagement by prospect. With a normal analytics solutions, like Google Analytics or WordPress Stats, you can only see the number of people who clicked on a link or watched a video. With marketing automation, each prospect that visits your site is ‘cookied’, and their subsequent activity and engagement on your site is tracked. This means you will know that it was ‘John S. from ABC Company’ that read your blog, rather than just some anonymous visitor.  This type of data allows you to see when specific prospects have shown enough interest to motivate a follow-up email or phone call to move the deal forward.

2.  Enables you to keep track of and nurture not-yet-ready-to-buy prospects.

Research has shown that only 5% of B2B prospects are ready to buy at any given time. Many B2B companies today do not have a strategy to deal with the other 95%; they simply discard them as ‘not interested’. However, by nurturing your leads with ‘light’, educational content every once in a while, you can often find new interest (and deals) from leads you generated six months or a year ago. Marketing automation helps you in the nurturing process by giving you a place to track and manage your prospects and their content engagement on an ongoing basis, rather than just campaign by campaign. For example, if a prospect dropped off or ‘went dead’ just before your proposal stage but reengages six months later, you can pick up right where you left off because you have all the data you need in front of you.

3.  Allows you to use analytics to refine and improve your content and sales process.

One of the most valuable things marketing automation provides is data. Using the platform’s analytical features, you can track and monitor engagement at a more detailed level in order to understand when and how to improve. For example, some platforms allow you to not only see when a video was watched, but also how long it was watched for. This way, you can see if a lot of your prospects are dropping off at the same place, and know that you need to refine that piece of your message.

For more on how marketing technologies can benefit the B2B sales process, you can read 3 Tips for Success from an Outsourced Marketing Automation Provider. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Marketing Automation Shows Contribution to Bottom Line

marketing automation and lead generationLast week, we wrote about the state of the marketing automation industry in 2014 and offered some questions for people to ask when considering purchasing a marketing automation software.

This week, we’ll take a look at a new study from Bizo and Oracle that looks at the value of marketing automation across various tactics in the sales cycle.

The most significant finding from the report was about marketing’s contribution to overall company revenue. The report found that for companies currently using marketing automation software, marketing contributes 20-60% of overall revenue.

This finding suggests that the days of ‘impressions’ and ‘branding’ as measures of marketing effectiveness are over. Using technology, marketing’s contribution can now be tied directly to hard numbers, which means that marketers can now be held more accountable than ever before.

Another key finding from the report has to do with lead nurturing. The report found that 94% of respondents use lead nurturing (taking into account that the respondents from this study were Bizo’s marketing database, “which naturally will over-represent companies currently using marketing technology”). 35% of those engaged in lead nurturing find the practice very important (“we couldn’t live without it”) and 58% find it somewhat important (“we have a few nurturing campaigns running”).

With the rise of lead nurturing and its perceived effectiveness, it would make sense that marketers are looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of their nurturing campaigns. The study from Bizo suggests that one way companies are doing this is by taking a multi-channel approach. CMO of Bizo, David Karel, commented:

“Relying solely on email for lead nurturing is preventing B2B marketers from getting to the next level of business impact. With only five percent of website visitors willingly providing an email address, marketers’ need to find other channels or risk limiting nurturing efforts to a very small portion of their target audience.  Multi-channel nurturing represents a massive opportunity to reach prospects beyond the inbox and really boost the return on their marketing spend.”

Read the entire report from Bizo here.

For more on using marketing automation for B2B sales and marketing, you can read 3 Tips for Leveraging B2B Marketing Automation in 2014.

6 Questions to a B2B Marketing Automation Platform (Part 2)

considering b2b marketing automationThis is the second half of a blog series on questions to ask when considering a B2B marketing automation platform. You can find part one here.

4.  Do you need to be able to do social media?

While social media will probably always be a more effective marketing tactic for B2C than B2B, it doesn’t mean that B2B companies shouldn’t try to play the social media game. A marketing automation platform can be a great way to boost a B2B company’s social media effectiveness by offering analytical data and allowing for scheduled/automated posts.

However, it is important to know that not all marketing automation platforms are equal when it comes to social media. For example, Act-On, HubSpot and Marketo offer social media profiling, but Oracle Eloqua does not.

5.  What are your payment needs/requirements?

Obviously, price is going to be a factor in any companies’ marketing automation selection process. In addition to looking at the overall cost for the value provided, B2B companies should also consider what payment plans are available and what is going to work best from a business perspective.

When it comes to selecting the right tool, there are about as many different pricing structures as there are marketing automation platforms. Some platforms have tiers based on database size; others have different prices for the amount of features or services used. Additionally, some platforms allow you to pay on a month-to-month basis while others require an annual agreement upfront. It’s all about what solution is best for your specific situation and goals.

6. Do you have the internal skills/expertise to gain ROI quickly?

Having a marketing automation platform is one thing, learning how to use it effectively for both sales and marketing is another. A report from earlier this year found that it took 64% of users at least six months to see results from their platform. The users listed lack of expertise to use the data and intelligence offered by the software (55%) and complexity of marketing automation software (34%) as two of their top obstacles.

This data shows that when it comes to marketing automation implementation, there is generally a long learning curve. If you do not have marketing automation expertise internally, you can end up having to devote a ton of resources to get everything up and running smoothly. We obviously have some bias here, but this is one place where hiring marketing automation consultants or an outsourced sales and marketing team can be greatly beneficial. By leveraging external resources, you can streamline your implementation process and quickly get up to speed on best practices as well as what to avoid.

If you’re curious to learn more about B2B marketing automation, you can read 3 Tips for Success from an Outsourced Marketing Automation Provider. Feel free to contact us with any questions or visit our services page to learn more about the marketing automation consulting we offer.

6 Questions to Ask a B2B Marketing Automation Platform

considering b2b marketing automationAccording to a 2014 Buyer’s Guide on marketing automation platforms, 26% of B2B companies are planning on integrating a marketing automation platform into their sales and marketing program in the next 12 months.

For these companies with no prior marketing automation platform experience, the evaluation process can be daunting. Each platform seems to offer something a bit different in terms of features and capabilities, which can make it hard to know which platform will be most effective for your company.

To help you get started, here are six basic questions to ask when selecting a marketing automation vendor:

  1. Is your digital marketing program mature enough to warrant a marketing automation platform?

While marketing automation can be a game changer for many companies, not all companies have developed their digital marketing programs to the point that an automation system is necessary.

One of the main benefits of having a marketing automation system is having the ability to efficiently track and manage the many aspects and channels now involved in digital marketing (CRMs, website/landing pages, email marketing, social media, PPC, SEO, etc.). If your B2B marketing program does not currently involve a multi-channel approach supported with content marketing, adding a marketing automation platform is not really going to help you much.

For a marketing automation platform to be most effective, it needs something to track. This means you need a solid database of prospects and quality marketing content to send to them. This way, you can see which prospects are engaging with what content/messages to help better determine how to move them through the sales pipe to close.

2.  What are your integration needs?

If you’ve determined that your marketing program would benefit from an automation platform, the next step is determining what your integration needs are.

Generally, the most important integration to consider is your customer relationship management system (CRM).   Without this type of integration, you will vastly limit the effectiveness of any marketing automation platform in terms of sales. Some marketing automation platforms can integrate with four or more different CRMs (e.g. Oracle CRM, Net Suite, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.) while others can only integrate with Salesforce. If you are attached to the CRM you are using currently, you should select a marketing automation vendor that will allow for easy integration.

It is also important to consider any other integrations that would be useful in your sales process. For example, the ExactTarget platform Pardot allows for integration with Outlook to allow sales reps to send and track one-off emails. Many other platforms (e.g. Act-On, Etrigue) do not allow for this type of integration, so consider whether or not this capability is critical when selecting the right tool for your business.

3.  How big is your database?

Another aspect to consider when selecting a B2B automation tool is volume. There are some platforms out there that have limits on the number of contacts or prospects you can have at any given time (e.g. 3,000, 10,000). If you are a startup or a growing business, you may want to keep in mind that the number of prospects you have now is likely to grow, and you want your marketing automation platform to be able to support that growth. Conversely, if you are fairly confident that you already have most of the ‘universe’ for your given market within your database, you can opt for a platform with a smaller contact/prospect limit.

Additionally, some platforms have limits on the number of emails that can be sent at one time or sent daily. For example, Etrigue allows 1,000 people to be marketed to at one time. If your marketing requirements are greater than that, you will want to select a tool with higher volume limits for email campaigns.

Continue reading.

3 Ways to Make Your B2B Marketing Automation More Human

b2b marketing automation In recent years, web technologies and digital sales tools have dramatically impacted the way people buy and sell. While many of these technology-related solutions have allowed companies to increase efficiency and improve targeting, they can also seem a bit dehumanizing for your prospects who can tell that machines are interacting with them—not people.

In order to retain the efficiency improvements these digital marketing technologies like marketing automation offer while not seeming like a robot to your prospects, here are three ways to make your marketing automation seem more human:

1.  Program follow-up emails to go out at the right time.

Consumers today are now getting used to auto-responder emails, which can sometimes come across impersonal and uncaring. While the argument over the ‘best’ time to send a follow up email will probably never end, you can at least set up your emails to make it seem like a human is sending them. By setting up a follow up email to go out 15 minutes after a link was clicked or request for information was made (instead of 1 second after), you can least seem like you took the time to write out a personal email.

2.  Schedule social posts for appropriate times of day for your business.

A lot of B2B companies are using marketing automation platforms or other digital marketing tools to schedule and automate posts on various social media platforms. This is a great practice, as you are able to schedule posts in large chunks rather than having to remember to do it throughout the day/week. However, B2B companies should be careful to watch when they are scheduling posts; it doesn’t make sense for a company selling project management software to be tweeting at two in the morning. B2C companies and global brands can get away with this; but for B2B companies to seem more human, they should generally keep their posts within normal business hours.

3.  Respond to followers, friends, fans and other commenters.

While scheduling your social media posts is a great practice, not responding to those who engage with your posts will definitely make you seem like a robot (or just plain rude). Even though you have set up your social posts to run on their own, you should check your social platforms every so often to see who has engaged with you, and respond accordingly.

For more on B2B marketing automation, read 3 Things B2B Marketers Should Always Automate. Feel free to contact us with any questions.