All articles, commentary, etc. that does not fit under Best Practices, Press Releases, Testimonials, or Documentation goes here.

The Best Social Commerce Networks for Lead Generation

The Best Social Commerce Networks for Lead GenerationHow has the face of the marketing evolved since the origination of social networks? Before the spread of social media, good business relied solely on consumer-company interactions. In the modern day, businesses continuously search for ways to convert their consumer-company relationships into sales but the standard look of these relationships has changed. The focus has shifted from consumer–company relationships to consumer–consumer interactions. People will search in google for customer reviews of a product before they purchase because a customer is more likely to trust another customer than a company trying to make profit.

Promotion of a good product in creative ways increases lead generation, but social commerce is key to driving sales. Social commerce comes in many forms including customer reviews of services and products, sponsorship deals, advertising, etc…Any type of consumer-generated content sharing is a form of social commerce.

Content-sharing is the basis of social media. In the digital age, social media has a large impact on the success of a business. From a consumer mindset, the size of their internet following determines a business’ quality of product and validity. A plethora of social networks exist, but in terms of social commerce, some are better than others. The only question is which sites work best for lead generation?

Below we take a look at the 4 major social commerce websites:

Facebook

Facebook commerce, better known as F-Commerce, launched in 2011 when companies realized that the social network had a reach of 750 million users. Many people, young adults in particular, gather their news or updates from their Facebook newsfeed. Mainstream society no longer depends primarily on printed media to spread important information. Article-sharing, hashtags, and status updates encourage genuine lead generation among consumers. There are four types of F-commerce: Facebook-onsite selling, Facebook-initiated selling, selling via Facebook, and iFrames/Facebook App. By using plugins, links, consumer engagement, and allowing for creative displays, Facebook remains a viable source for increasing lead generation.

YouTube

As a video platform, YouTube is notably successful at lead generation. Studies have shown that colorful graphics and videos are good at attracting a consumer’s attention. In fact, it’s been said that YouTube marketing makes lead generation 50 times more successful than any text-based promotion. Online videos are inexpensive to make and possess a longevity that articles don’t have.

Polyvore

Polyvore launched in 2011. It allows users to create collage-sets displaying different fashion and beauty trends of their own invention. The site allows the consumer to sell the product by encouraging personal creativity and lets the users promote their own designs. The materials on their collages are directly linked to product sites. The accessibility of products and the use of consumer support increases lead generation.

Trendii

Trendii and Polyvore share similarities, but Polyvore is limited to beauty and fashion. Trendii allows their users to create boards with any topic they desire. The site helps the consumer sell the products by establishing creative environments of user-design; Trendii effectively taps into the consumer–consumer interactions that people value. Trendii manages to help people connect virtually, widen their impact, sell to other consumers, and inspire others with their personal creativity. It takes the trending nature of global conversation and ties it to user interests. The strong consumer–consumer relationships built on the site will likely increase lead generation for products massively.

All social networks are not created equal, but sites such as Twitter, Vine, and Pinterest are making a play towards social commerce as well.

Always remember that your consumers are your best marketing strategy.

Alternatives to Optify

Alternatives to OptifyOptify hit a brick wall in Q4 2013 and closed their doors. That’s unfortunate for the approximately 1,000 companies that currently have Optify installed on their website and are not using a marketing automation solution. We hate to see businesses close shop, but at the same time we’re delighted to offer new opportunities to former Optify clients. The good news is that former Optify customers have alternatives to Optify that they can choose from.

Lead Liaison provides a powerful alternative to Optify with our marketing automation platform. Former Optify clients can make a smooth transition to Lead Liaison through our “easy to use, easy to buy” philosophy.

Marketing agencies can also make a smooth migration from Optify to Lead Liaison with our marketing automation for agencies solution.

Lead Liaison is a cost effective alternative to HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo and other similar solutions. The platform offers all the same features you’ll see in the aforementioned solutions with a handful of innovative features never seen before in marketing automation, such as content creation, multi-channel marketing, and a robust application programmers interface.

 

Top 7 Ways to Maintain Customer Retention through Marketing Automation

Customer RetentionIt’s easy to get lost in the process of lead generation, mindlessly nurturing and scoring in order to convert and build your customer base. However, just as a top-scoring, warm lead is easier to persuade to sign the deal, increasing your customer retention even as little as 5% can produce increase in profit from 25% to 95% percent. Technology makes it even easier to keep in tune with your buyers and ensure you’re staying on their good side. Check out these top seven ways to maintain customer retention through marketing automation:

  1. Understand the insightful feedback. Your current customers are already giving you valuable market information. Check their activity on your site—what are they clicking, downloading, and sharing? Also, don’t forget to encourage feedback from them, whether through social media surveys, website forms, or directed email marketing campaigns. These customers have already been converted, chances are they are nearly guaranteed hot leads with insightful feedback on your products.
  2. Drip Marketing. Maintain customer retention through marketing automation by utilizing personalized drip marketing campaigns. They didn’t open your last email? Try segmenting those customers and sending them a second email, targeted at their needs.
  3. Stay in touch. Don’t quit your lead scoring just because they’ve converted. Continue to score them and determine which content you’re producing is most valuable to (lifelong) customers. Provide helpful how-to’s on the best practices and most recent updates on your products. Cultivate this relationship to maintain customer retention through marketing automation by scheduling regular touchpoints with buyers at least once a month.
  4. Don’t get caught up in filling the top of the funnel. Lead generation will no doubt be an imperative player in your company’s success. There’s no reason to forget about the bottom of the funnel, though. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to capitalize on the leads that are already warm and proven to be ready to buy.
  5. Give them what they want. Analyze buying cycles, particularly those of your current customers, and remind them when they want to buy based on their previous behaviors. For example, if your product is a yearly software program, send out a notification a few months before their service expires, giving them a personalized reminder to renew. Maintain customer retention through marketing automation by giving your customers what they want and when they want it.
  6. Thank them. Give them a special coupon code on their buying anniversary or provide a unique offer right after their purchase. Incentivize them to share your product with others as well through referral systems. Use social media to provide a contest among followers, encouraging their interaction and engagement (AKA business insight) with your company.
  7. Provide the solution. Chances are, your buyers put their trust in you. They count on you to be the expert; in fact, they’re probably paying you to be the expert. Don’t let them down by providing shotty customer service or not updating your resources regularly. Use creative and timely content to maintain customer retention through marketing automation practices.

Are you Staying on Top of Reputation Management?

Reputation ManagementReputation management – as a business owner, do you think about it? How often are you scouting your brand on the Internet to see what people are saying about you? If this is something you’re not thinking about, you could be missing valuable opportunities to fix any outstanding customer service issues that are putting you in a bad light.

Google Thyself

Sure, you can Google your business – but is that going to tell you everything you need to know? Many customer service complaints are indexable by Google, but things written about your company on social media aren’t always easy to catch.

Rather than just regularly checking results for your business on Google, it makes sense to check your name and key staff members’ names as well. Are you 100% sure that overemotional and personal blog you kept in high school isn’t accessible on the net somewhere? What about embarrassing Facebook photos, or personal information associated with an old screen name?

It may not seem like a big deal – but the larger and more successful your company gets, the more you could be a target for your personal details to get out there on the net. It’s best to start thinking about reputation management early in the game, before mistakes happen.

Reputation Monitoring Services

When it comes to social media, everyone’s looking for an automated process. It’s so much easier to send out a variety of posts, scheduling them over time, then feel like you have to be at the computer when important business events happen.

Additionally, it’s also a little painful to consistently search for yourself online, monitor conversations and make sure your reputation is what it should be. It’s very helpful to invest in an automated process that does this for you – letting you know when your brand is mentioned or there’s information out there you should immediately respond to.

Rather than hiring a social media manager, automated tools can help you keep track of your reputation through tracking your social activity. Finding out the best times to post, responding to clients in a timely fashion and getting a general sense of what clients are saying about you is key to healthy reputation management.

Marketing automation is a great way to track this data and make sure you’re on top of your social presence and your reputation. Lead Liaison offers robust solutions to help you automate your social processes and ensure you’re staying vigilant about your online rep. To find out more, talk to us about your social and reputation management solutions today!

Grow Your Business through Customer Responsive Marketing Automation

Grow Your Business through Customer Responsive Marketing AutomationBuilding a relationship with prospective customers should not be seen as a one-way street, with your brand constantly reaching out—calling, mailing, posting—and hearing nothing in return. Rather, this process is more successfully a bi-directional path with many winding trails. Encouraging customer responsive marketing automation will pave this process of nurturing your leads to their state of buying readiness. Providing the means and the channel(s) of communication between your brand and your prospects can open up an enlightening conversation.

Everyone likes a personalized message (except when it’s a little too personalized). I couldn’t delete emails starting “Greetings #1 Customer” any faster. It’s no surprise that personalized marketing encourages customers to respond and interact at a higher rate. Personalization of each message based on their previous interactions with your brand (read: lead scoring) helps to determine their stage of the buying cycle, and thus the types of messages you should be sending.

Seamless Interaction

The end goal of carefully personalizing each message broadcasted is to encourage seamless interaction between sales and prospects across multiple channels. There are a multitude of tools that make customer responsive marketing automation a process easily integrated with your current system. Mobile applications are increasingly a crucial part of engaging customers and text messaging is burgeoning into an acceptable means for B2B communication.

Tailor your customer experience and encourage their response by scheduling social media posts (make it easier on yourself) that survey or poll your followers. This somewhat organic way of discovering data can then be used to create relevant content. Ask about the customers’ needs, determine an appropriate means to “score” your posts (evaluate the number of “likes” or “retweets,” for example) to gauge your audience’s interest level in various topics. Don’t forget to keep in consideration the peak times for posting to maximize exposure and response.

Realize Customer Needs

Through customer responsive marketing automation, your business is enabled to more fully realize your customer needs through their interaction with your brand. Analyze their past behaviors (CTRs, landing pages, etc.) to predict how they might respond to future messaging campaigns. Incorporating customer service into the customer responsive marketing automation process becomes second nature through technology. Catering to the customers’ needs at a time when they’re ready (timing is everything) can be the make it or break it of the deal. It’s important to have the marketing and sales teams in communication with each other to coordinate respective campaigns and actions to maximize touchpoints, get to know the prospect, and go in for the win. Utilizing strategic techniques such as the “sense and respond” in correlation with other technology advances will provide a better grasp of what prospects and customers alike want and expect from your brand.

Marketing Automation: How Does the CEO Fit In?

Marketing Automation for the CEOWhen is it best for a company’s CEO to get involved with the marketing team’s overall efforts – this is the question marketing automation answers for many organizations. The idea that the CEO of any-sized company turns his or her back to the marketing team’s efforts – taking a “set it and forget it” approach to advertising – is one that comes to life for many agencies and gets in the way of upgrading legitimate marketing efforts.

Knowing this, how can any organization’s CEO make sure that the company marketing team is on board with making changes that benefit the organization from the ground up?

Understanding Marketing Automation

Many companies avoid choosing marketing automation services due to the work it would create on their end. Let’s face it – many companies don’t make it a priority to connect sales and marketing departments the way they should. This results in a disjointed effort between sales and analysts, creating unhappy customers and getting in the way of productivity.

Marketing automation is a great way to not only establish and track legitimate leads for any organization, but to develop an internal process that unites sales, marketing and execution departments. Because the process of getting a lead all the way to working for a customer require follow-up, tracking and cooperation on the back end, a work system can be set in place that solidifies the efforts of these departments like never before. The result is a workflow that’s not just fully automated, but addresses the unique needs of all areas of the business.

Getting the Right Training

The training involved with implementing marketing automation is not just for employees or individual department heads  – the top-level of the organization – particularly the CEO or business decision maker – should have some idea of how marketing automation works and how it may be implemented within the organization as a whole.

The best way to ensure these strategies are in place and working for a business is to have the CEO go through the appropriate training, delegate responsibility and understand how everything works. This can only be accomplished with a marketing automation team that cares about its business and customers. A solid marketing automation system needs to be in place, but a team willing to train employees (and CEOs) and to stick around for follow-up is integral to the process working for everyone involved.

The Lead Liaison team doesn’t drop off service after marketing automation – we stick around to make sure all companies’ needs are met from the top down. Talk to us about a consult today!

3 Steps to Drive Lead Qualification through Marketing Automation

Drive Lead Qualification through Marketing AutomationIt’s no surprise that marketing automation opens opportunities for managing your leads like never before; but how else can you use the system to benefit your business? A case study by Marketing Sherpa found that utilizing marketing automation can drive more 75% more leads. Even though you’ve got this huge flood of leads, we know they don’t qualify and convert themselves. What could be the risks involved with passing all of the new leads on to sales? How hazardous is it to prematurely qualify leads? Manage the influx of leads and drive lead qualification through marketing automation.

What qualities do “qualified leads” embody? Although this is a crucial question, it will inevitably be different for each organization that attempts to define it. It is imperative that the sales and marketing agree on some of the “static” characteristics of the ideal lead that is nearing their buying decision. Some of the static definitions of each lead will derive from pieces of their profile that are unlikely to change in the next few quarters, such as their job title, the size of their company, their geographic location, etc. Each of these items will factor into their score, and ultimately, how they’re qualified and whether or not they get pushed to sales. Here are three things that will help drive lead qualification through marketing automation:

Monitor Lead Engagement

In order to properly and completely profile each lead and potential lead, it’s necessary to have a good handle on the amount of contact they’ve had with your brand. There’s nothing worse than to scare away a prospect by pushing them to sales too early. With the right tools, marketing automation can make tracking visitor activity a breeze, with gadgets like desktop clients. Monitor your landing page traffic in real time, see which links/images are getting the most hits, and discover who’s spending the greatest amount of time on your site. With the various tools that marketing automation affords your business, it becomes less of a chore to discover and evaluate the potential buyers’ interest levels.

Prioritize and Push (only) the Hottest Leads to Sales

Shorten the sales cycle by prioritizing the prospects who have shown their readiness to make buying decisions. Understand, gauge, and encourage their readiness through effective and diligent lead nurturing practices. Utilize personalized email messages and targeted content to engage and drive lead qualification through marketing automation. By prioritizing the leads that are most ready to buy, your sales team is less likely to waste their time chasing prospects who do not feel informed enough to make a decision. Along the same thread, don’t give up on these leads. They may only require a little extra TLC and the right nurturing campaign to push them over to the qualified side.

Ensure your CRM is Synced

Chances are, your marketing automation software is equipped to automatically synch with the CRM. Be sure you’re not entering the same information in multiple platforms. Synching up the common platforms between both the sales and the marketing teams provides a greater visibility, stronger communication, and an overall clearer plan of action.

3 Ways Marketing Automation Helps to Build Your Buyer Persona

Marketing Automation Helps to Build Your Buyer PersonaImplement successful marketing strategies and make the most of content-driven, scalable automation confidently through understanding your buyer persona. Marketing automation is a useful tool in gathering the analytics you need to build your buyer persona, strategically reach your target audience, and truly understand what they’re looking for.

According to an article by Tony Zambito, thought leader on the topic, buyer personas describe “who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, where they buy, when buyers decide to buy, and why they make buying decisions.” That’s quite a bit of information to gather. In the end, building accurate models of buying behaviors helps you to understand how your prospects expect and prefer to interact with your brand. Use marketing automation to build your buyer persona. Uncovering such knowledge will arm both sales and marketing teams with the information and assurance they need to seal the deal.

Integrate the Analytics

With features such as Lead Liaison’s Social Append, marketing automation allows you to gather data available from a variety of sources and channels and build a telling profile of your ideal prospect. Not only will you understand their social interactions, but you’ll also have a grasp of how they expect to interact with your brand and product. Another useful way to implement the numbers and stats you’ve gathered is to sort your prospects: what actions were taken by you that won a prospect over? What were the signs that you were about to lose a prospect? Building out a thorough analysis of this data will help to create a persona based on previous experience that will ensure a successful plan for the future.

Work with the Sales Team

Get insights from the sales team to refine the personas. They’re the ones with the most direct contact with prospects, so take advantage of their findings. When using marketing automation to build your buyer persona, marketers and sales teams need to maintain a two-way communication plan so that they can nail down the specifics- what questions are your prospects asking during their buying process? What are their goals, or what are their company’s goals? What are the signs that a prospect is ready to buy? Productive lead tracking and nurturing can provide the data you need to see what action steps the marketing team is taking that lead to higher success and ROI in the sales interactions.

Create a Range of Different Personas

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by creating and implementing just one persona. Recognize the common factors in your buyers’ decision-making process, and develop a few different personas that are testable. When thinking about a relevant range of personas, utilize customer surveys, case studies, and other tools and strategies already in place. Having a broader perspective allows you to try out various strategies to discover which works best.

When Visitor Tracking Violates the Law

Where Visitor Tracking Violates the LawMake sure you understand where visitor tracking violates the law. Utter the term “sharing data” and most IT groups cringe.   Your legal team pulls out their cease and desist demands.  Your customers collectively scream “hell no”. Your company might be subjecting themselves to being involved in a lawsuit, such as what happened to Facebook in this lawsuit. The lawsuit stated Facebook violated Right of Publicity, Right of Privacy laws and consumer protection laws in California by sharing members’ personal information with others for commercial purposes.

Now ask your sale and marketing team if they like the concept of opening up your CRM and sharing your contacts with your competitors and anyone else.  Would you knowingly do this? Is your current provide sharing data for commercial reasons similar to Facebook and also in the state of California?

If you are using a number of “Visitor Tracking” aka Visitor Identification tools, you are likely doing exactly that!  Here is how it works:

Your company invests money in a technology that helps you create relationships with individual visitors to your website usually by putting a “cookie” on an individual’s device when they fill out a form on your site (as an example).   That allows you to know that “Customer: Sarah Smith” is on your site; and you can help her find the information that she cares about in less time, customize her experience, or as a way to trigger future discussions.   In short, Customer: Sarah Smith is happy to have this personalized experience with your company.

The problem arises when Competitor “X” decides to invest in the same Visitor tracking product.   The Visitor tracking provider will sell their ability to track more visitors than their competitors.   How do they do that?   Simple: they violate Right of Publicity and Right of Privacy laws.  When a prospect that you have identified goes to Competitor “X”’s site they are searching the customer’s computer for all cookies they added regardless of the source.   Thus, they are using your data to 1.) Help them sell their software to your competitors 2.) Help your competitors identify competitive opportunities against your company.

It gets worse.   Many of these visitor tracking companies are touting their ability to provide email addresses along with the names of the people identified.  Most won’t tell you if they secured this email because a visitor opted in via one of your forms, or if they “borrowed” the data from one of your competitors.   That makes it very difficult (and often illegal) for you to contact these people through automated email methods since they have never opted-in to receive email from you.  In fact, those that HAVE opted-in may become polluted.

How do you avoid hurting your company, and helping your competition?

  1. Make sure your Visitor Identification provider is not sharing data amongst its customers
  2. Make sure the source of all email triggered communications are segmented to only people that have opted-in to receive messages from your organization
  3. Demand that your provider indemnifies you against willful data breaches and “sharing” of data with any other companies
  4. Make sure your provider understands they could be violating Right of Publicity, Right of Privacy and consumer protection laws

The bottom line is that while it may be alluring at first to go with a company that shows you the most name/email addresses in their daily reports of site visitors, there are a number of other marketing techniques that can be employed to keep your company safe and within the guidelines of the law.

Lead Nurturing Best Practices and Your Organization

Lead Nurturing Best PracticesIt’s true that lead nurturing best practices are important to establishing good relationships with prospects, though many small businesses don’t really have the time or the resources to think about it. The act of adopting marketing automation into company processes is about giving your organization the ability to start nurturing leads and developing a deeper, more intensive and effective funnel over time. For many businesses, understanding the best ways to nurture leads aren’t a part of this process from the get-go.

When considering how to nurture leads for your business, it’s best to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Here are some ideas on how you can get the type of familiarity that will help you best turn your prospects into completed conversions.

Lead Nurturing Best Practices

At minimum, nurturing leads is about developing a relationship of trust with your customers. Because many modern business relationships start and continue over the internet, the in-person, ‘human touch’ component of interaction and communication is sometimes lost.

To give you a good example, many of us would never buy a car over the internet without test driving it, feeling the steering wheel under our hands and being able to experience being in the car and seeing the exterior first-hand. With recent economic issues these past few years reducing the income of many, customers want to “feel out” your product or service and feel they’re getting the best bang for their buck before making a deeper commitment.

Take a step back and ask yourself how your website, self-presentation and various sales materials stand up to the test of time with regard to how much customers trust you. If your offering was a car, do customers get a good feel for the product and develop trust before making a big commitment?

Making it Personal

The more personality and trustworthiness you put across in your marketing materials, the more it’ll be likely that clients trust you over time. It’s important to give your marketing materials that personal touch – for example, if your business happens to be family owned, this is a great way to tell your clients more about you and establish that trust. Try writing a company blog or recording a video where you showcase members of your staff or a specific team.

Lead nurturing best practices are all about getting to know the client better and putting personalization into practice. Marketing automation can help you track data, and the right marketing automation team can help you figure out what your clients want to see from you before you even start tracking, as well as how to better nurture leads. Find out more by consulting with Lead Liaison’s friendly staff today!