In a series of three posts we share feedback from other senior-level marketers on why marketing automation is needed, benefits of marketing automation, and highlight their lessons learned from using marketing automation. This post covers the benefits of marketing automation.
Forrester Consulting interviewed 15 senior level marketers who use marketing automation. The data below shows the percentage of marketers surveyed who provided the answer. When marketers were asked about the benefit of marketing automation, here’s what they had to say:
Benefits of marketing automation – key takeaways and recommendations:
“In my view, the primary benefits of B2B marketing automation are:
1) It allows marketers to accomplish more, usually at a lower cost, than they can get done manually;
2) It facilitates continuous improvement by allowing marketers to track and measure the results of their campaigns, then make necessary adjustments, in near real-time.”
Mac McIntosh, sales-lead-insights.com
1. The number one benefit of marketing automation is better leads/more robust pipeline. Marketing automation improves the quality of leads handed to sales, increases opportunity to pipeline conversion, and accelerates a prospects time to revenue. As discussed, lead scoring delivers better leads to sales. In addition to lead scoring, marketing automation provides lead nurturing to build relationships with new leads and your existing database. Businesses will increase opportunities and lower cost per lead resulting in higher margins and a “fatter” forecast.
2. Almost half of participants agreed that marketing automation provides better customer insight/data. Lead tracking helps sales and marketers identify what a prospect is truly interested in by logging pages viewed, search terms used, time on site, emails opened, and more. It’s like turning your website into a sales person. Sales can easily identify when a prospect is thinking about your solutions and what they care about, allowing sales to optimize their “pitch”.
We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. How have you benefited from marketing automation? To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button. Feel free to read part one, need for marketing automation, and part three, lessons learned from marketing automation.
https://www.leadliaison.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Lead-Liaison-Logo5.png00Lead Liaisonhttps://www.leadliaison.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Lead-Liaison-Logo5.pngLead Liaison2011-02-28 22:12:522014-09-16 17:40:06Benefits of Marketing Automation
Did you know you can track your website to better understand results of your sales and marketing efforts and uncover new opportunities? This article discusses why you should track your website using lead tracking technology. Additionally, we’ll compare tracking technology to perceived alternatives, such as Google Analytics.
Why track your website?
Many B2B companies track their website for two reasons; to measure return on sales and marketing investments and to generate new leads. Marketing and sales teams invest a lot of time and effort into evangelizing their companies’ solutions. For example, marketing sends out email campaigns, publishes posts on social media, creates valuable content, landing pages, a website, and web forms. On the other hand, sales is calling new prospects, following up with interested prospects, and holding meetings with new leads. How do we know sales and marketing’s efforts are not wasted? What insight do we have to measure the effectiveness of these efforts after a campaign is finished? Industry experts estimate 96% of all website visitors go unnoticed. By not implementing lead tracking, there’s a good chance the results of your investment will fall into a black hole.
If you track your website, you’ll realize the fruits of your labor. Let’s examine return for a marketer sending out an email campaign. Most email campaigns include a call to action that directs the email recipient to visit your website. Marketers do this by embedding links to their website in an email message. Once a link is clicked, lead tracking technology identifies the individual, company, revenue, company description, pages viewed, search terms used, source of the lead and more in real-time. When marketing pulls a report of all website visits generated from specific email campaigns they can determine the effectiveness of the program and decide which programs to invest in or pull out of.
Sales will also benefit in a few ways if you track your website. Let’s say a sales person spends 1.5 hours on the phone with a new marketing qualified prospect. If a sales person is able to see if a prospect visited his/her company’s website the sales person is able to get a better feeling for the prospects interest level. By tracking each page viewed by the visitor a “digital footprint” is created. Did the prospect do more research on a specific solution? Did they check out pricing? Are they looking at another solution? If you track your website you’ll have this information.
Lead Liaison vs. analytics packages
Some businesses feel they already have a way to track their website with analytics packages such as Google Analytics. Analytics packages do allow tracking; however, they are very different from Lead Liaison’s lead tracking technology. For example, Google Analytics is cumbersome to manage and complex to navigate. The goal for Google Analytics is to get you to spend more money on search word advertising, not to help you generate leads from your existing assets (website, marketing collateral, web forms). If you track your website using Lead Liaison’s lead tracking you’ll obtain the following advantages over analytics tools similar to Google Analytics:
Comparing lead tracking to web analytics. Lead tracking provides…
1. More leads. Lead Liaison includes a workflow process around your website leads by allowing marketers to nurture leads after their visit. Analytics packages provide pure static reporting.
2. More lead intelligence. Lead Liaison includes business intelligence information such as company name, description, revenue, news, competitors and more. Analytics packages typically provide only an IP address for your website visitor.
3. More qualified leads. Lead Liaison automatically qualifies your website visitors using lead scoring. Analytics packages do not provide this.
4. Better clarity on your revenue cycle. Lead Liaison provides analytics to help marketers’ measure results of their campaigns deep into the sales pipeline. Analytics packages provide analytics to help marketers optimize their website for paid advertising by reporting metrics such as visitor volume, top pages viewed, and top performing keywords.
5. Better measure of return on marketing assets. Markers need to know how their landing pages, web forms, and email campaigns perform. Lead Liaison provides A/B testing and ROI analytics on marketing assets to determine where to invest and where not to invest. Analytics packages provide investment insight on keywords.
Marketing automation is gaining wide adoption as a standard technology used by sales and marketing teams of all sizes. A sea change in how B2B buyers buy and marketers market requires a new look at techniques to better align sales and marketing teams, gain control over marketing programs, measure marketing effectiveness, and strengthen the sales pipeline. In a series of three posts we’ll share feedback from other senior-level marketers on why there is a need for marketing automation, benefits of marketing automation, and highlight their lessons learned from using marketing automation. This post covers the need for marketing automation.
Before diving into the data, let’s first clarify some definitions. LMA stands for “Lead Management Automation”, which is an industry name for technology in the marketing automation space. At Lead Liaison we believe marketing automation is a feature of an overall solution. We use this feature to deliver a wide array of benefits as part of our revenue generation software (the solution).
Forrester Consulting interviewed 15 senior level marketers who use marketing automation. The data below shows the percentage of marketers surveyed who provided the answer. Forrester first asked what problems the marketers were looking to solve. Here are the results of the marketer’s pain points:
Need for marketing automation – key takeaways and recommendations:
1. The top two pain points revolve around how sales and marketing interface. To improve collaboration between sales and marketing teams start by creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) then procure a marketing automation software solution. A SLA is an agreement between sales and marketing which defines how the two teams work together to leverage marketing automation technology. It’s a blueprint for success.
2. The number one problem is lead qualification. Marketing automation delivers lead scoring, which is an automated way to objectively qualify leads using technology. Without this technology the definition of a lead is purely subjective and will vary between sales and marketing. Define the universal definition of a lead in the SLA and use lead scoring to establish a point system for qualifying a lead against your criteria and lead definition. Lead scoring will assign points based on a leads activity and demographics to score the lead until they are qualified and ready for sales.
We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What is your need for marketing automation? To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button. Feel free to read part two, benefits of marketing automation, and part three, lessons learned from marketing automation.
https://www.leadliaison.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Lead-Liaison-Logo5.png00Lead Liaisonhttps://www.leadliaison.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Lead-Liaison-Logo5.pngLead Liaison2011-02-21 21:14:572014-09-16 17:43:05Need for Marketing Automation
White papers are extremely valuable assets to a company and should be constructed carefully. It’s imperative white papers include proper call to actions to appeal to the target audience. Additionally, white papers should be combined with marketing automation technology to maximize return on assets. In this article, we’ll provide suggestions on how marketing automation technology can enhance your marketing assets and provide tips and suggestions for writing great white papers.
A Study on White Papers:
Saavy B2B Marketing ran a study across 40 white papers. Results showed that only 30% of white papers had a call to action. Moreover, a recent study from InformationWeek found that 75.8% of white paper readers go to a search engine to look for more information once finished reading a white paper.
What is a white paper?
The term white paper stems from the white book, an official publication of a national government usually declaring government policy. A white paper typically argues a specific position or solution to a problem. Although white papers have roots in governmental policy, they’ve evolved into a common tool used to introduce technology and products. White papers are powerful marketing tools used to help key decision-makers and influencers justify implementing solutions.
How to outline a white paper
Building a framework for your white paper is easy. Outline your paper with the following four (skipping #3 is okay sometimes) sections to keep your readers engaged.
1) Abstract – Describe what the white paper is about in one paragraph. Do not state the conclusion here; simply tell the reader what the purpose of the paper is. Note that readers frequently scan only the abstract and conclusion of white papers, so provide material that leaves them wanting to read more and not skip ahead.
2) The Problem – Two to three paragraphs covering the problem and a little background. Be straightforward and succinct. Avoid obfuscated language and hidden assumptions.
3) Understanding the Product’s Design – Discuss how the product works in general. Do not describe how the product solves the problem; rather, orient the reader for them to understand the product’s application to the problem. Note, skip this section if you’re writing a white paper with your reader’s interests in mind, not your company’s products. If you’re looking for a more product/technology-centric pitch include this section before discussing how to solve the problem.
4) How to Solve the Problem – How the application of the solution solves the problem. Make sure to provide evidence of how the product solves the problem, and why it is the best solution available.
Ideas for white paper calls to action
What does the study in the blue box mentioned above mean to B2B marketers? First, it’s imperative to list a call to action. If you’re unsuccessful getting your readers to take the next action within a controlled environment (your company) they could wind up on the internet stumbling across your competition. Include the call to action inside your white paper as well as on your landing page.
After readers finish your white paper the suggested next step should be commensurate with where your readers are in the b2b buying process. Be sensitive to the stages your buyers are in. For example, if they’re in the beginning stages offer them educational material that’s less sales-ish. Furthermore, if your reader is the economic buyer there’s a good chance the prospect is well into the buying cycle and close to a purchase. For this reader, suggest a web page that highlights customer testimonials or invites them to work with you on building a complementary return on investment (ROI) analysis. Below are examples of call to action items:
Facebook website URLs
Specific web pages / resource pages
Second, use marketing automation technology to help track your prospects as they continue interacting with other marketing assets such as more white papers, corporate website and email campaigns. Marketing automation, a feature of revenue generation software, is the glue that keeps tabs on how interested your prospects really are. Is the reader who’s downloading your white paper just looking for an education or is he really interested in your solutions and ready to speak with sales? Marketing automation will help “raise your readers (prospects) hand” as soon as they demonstrate they are “sales-ready”. Lead tracking, lead scoring and lead nurturing are three features within marketing automation that will help.
Once a reader completes a short web form to download the white paper, lead tracking will log every white paper download, web page visit, social media visit, email open and any other interaction with marketing’s assets thereafter and group these activities into a single view. The activity view is accessible through a CRM such as Salesforce.com. For a sales person, the click path and interaction with marketing’s assets is very useful to identify what the prospect is interested in and how serious they are. Armed with this information, a sales person is much more prepared prior to engaging with the prospect.
Lead scoring uses a point system to score prospects based on various demographics or interactions with marketing. For example, if the visitor read a product white paper add 10 points, if they work for a company with $50M or more in revenue add 20 points. Lead scoring establishes a scoring threshold and notifies sales whenever a visitor hits or surpasses the threshold, becoming a “hot” lead.
Finally, lead nurturing will send a series of scheduled emails based on your reader/visitor’s online behavior. For example, if the reader is an economic buyer who downloaded a white paper on the business value of your technology, you could trigger a lead nurturing campaign that sends the reader three follow up emails. The emails might include an invitation to a pre-recorded webinar on ROI analysis, a download for a ROI analysis calculator and a testimonial on another client’s ROI.
5 tips for writing successful white papers
1) Where possible, white papers should request information from the reader via a short web form. Whenever you provide something of value it’s fair to ask for value in exchange. In this case, what’s valuable is information about your reader, whom you hope to make your customer – standard quid pro quo. Marketing automation technology includes progressive profiling which reduces the number of fields users need to complete, which increases conversion/form completion rates. Progressive profiling replaces fields where information is already known with new fields allowing businesses to collect bits of information to piece together a prospect’s profile. It’s the ala carte vs. buffet version of web forms, which usually settles better in your prospect’s tummy. Additionally, marketing automation platforms include lead tracking technology which eliminates the need to ask for location, company and sometimes personal information if the reader (lead) is already in your database. Most demographics are automatically detected with marketing automation technology.
2) Accompany white papers with a landing page (content page). The page should contain a short write-up on the content of your white paper and contain a web form (with progressive profiling) for the reader to complete.
3) Content page should be SEO optimized for search engine results. If your white paper is accessible through a form embedded on your landing page always try to select the proper keyword for your material and optimize your page with those keywords. If users search the internet after reading your material you want your page to be among the results they see. This demonstrates thought leadership and uniqueness, which is important among a pool of competition on the internet.
4) Understand the disposition of your readers. The call to action as well as content should be relevant to the reader’s role. Typically, there are four types of white paper readers. Economic buyer, technical buyer, user and an influencer or coach. An economic buyer may want to see a ROI model or testimonials whereas a technical buyer may want to see technology specs or benchmarks. Each reader has a goal in mind and that goal is most likely specific to their role. If you’re using marketing automation technology, there’s a good chance the landing page for your white paper can be customized to the reader’s role. Make your landing pages as dynamic and personalized as possible.
5) Write white papers with a less formal style, little marketing-speak and lots of supporting evidence. Don’t be afraid to use an occasional analogy or two when writing your white paper. Most white papers use a very candid and pragmatic approach vs. sugar coating statements (sorry marketing). Avoid using generic marketing terms like “cost effective” or “low performance impact” and be specific with your statements to build credibility with your readers. When making statements in your white paper, look for opportunities to quote 3rd parties or statistics from other sources to gain credibility.
With an understanding of what a white paper is, how to structure a white paper, how and why to include a call to action and how marketing automation technology augments the value of your white papers you’ll be writing superstar collateral in no time. Saddle up marketing!
We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What input do you have on creating great white papers?
To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button.
Would you be surprised if you knew your sales people were only selling 11.5% of the time? CSO Insights, who surveyed over 1,800 companies, found this to be true. As a best practice, business should increase sales productivity by focusing sales on selling instead of spending their time traveling, training, researching, prospecting, servicing customers, and handling administrative tasks. This article quantifies the impact of an unproductive sales force and provides suggestions on how you can increase sales productivity.
Quantifying the impact of inefficient sales
Let’s say you were a vendor with twelve sales people. Let’s assume the average, fully burdened (benefits, vacation, training, salary, bonuses, stock, etc.), cost of a sales person is $100,000. The total cost of your sales force would be $1.2M. If 11.5% of their time is spent selling, that’s only $138,000 of the sales budget spent on selling and $1,062,000 spent not selling. You’ll never get to 100%; however, what if sales could focus more on selling and less on doing other things to increase sales productivity by a minimum of 8.5%? With 2,080 working hours in a year, 8.5% of that is 177 hours. With a sales force of twelve people that’s another 2,124 hours (177 hours x 12 people) that could be spent selling. That’s a full year! Would you be interested in bringing on a new sales person, at no charge, who will sell 100% of his/her time? You can by improving productivity of your existing sales force.
How you can increase sales productivity by 8.5% or more
Revenue generation software as well as other handy tips will help you increase sales productivity. Here are our suggestions:
1. Prospect more efficiently. It’s usually not a best practice for sales, especially outside sales, to invest time in prospecting. However, it’s an essential part of any lead generation strategy. Use a solution that provides a database of millions of professional contacts and companies to find targeted prospects in a single-click and spare the expense of digging through contacts not knowing who to call. If possible, refrain from buying lists and identify your target individuals. Who are your influencers, technical buyers, economic buyers, and users and what are their roles?
2. Pre-package presentations optimized around the context of a sales meeting. Sales people spend a lot of time customizing presentations to fit their meetings. Build presentations for specific industries, solutions, or audience levels (engineering, executive, etc.). Lowering preparation-oriented tasks will increase sales productivity.
3. Stream real-time web visit alerts to sales. Lead tracking technology exists to identify and surface, in real time, known and unknown leads. We posted a previous article on tracking website visitors that explains this concept further. Not only is this a new source of leads, it tells sales who is interested and when. If a prospect opens an email and clicks a link to your website sales can be notified in real time. This intelligence tells sales a prospect is online and engaged. If a sales person’s outbound call capacity is 30 calls per day and an email campaign to 1,000 prospects shows when 30 of those prospects are interested and thinking about your solution at that very moment, it makes sales highly efficient and they’ll chalk up a productive day. The ancillary benefit is a happy sales person. With less voicemails, calls, and brush offs sales will feel like they’re making an impact.
4. Have sales focus on qualified leads only. Sales analysts report 80% of marketers send unqualified leads on to sales. How can this increase sales productivity? Use lead qualification technology, also known as lead scoring, to automatically send qualified leads to sales. By splitting up a sales pipeline to form a revenue cycle shared by marketing and sales you’ll increase sales productivity. First, start by creating a service level agreement between sales and marketing. Define the ideal customer profile, what makes a qualified lead, and establish a lead scoring program. Make sure to include activity levels (online behavior) and recency of interaction/response of your leads as part of your scoring program.
5. Consider hiring a lead qualification specialist, sometimes referred to by companies as a demand generation team. A lead qualification specialist is an intermediate resource, or liaison, between marketing qualified leads and sales. The concept is that the lead qualification specialist intercepts a marketing qualified lead to further qualify it as a sales qualified lead before handing the lead to sales. On average, about 10% of “sales-ready” leads are sales qualified leads and 16% of those will eventually buy. Try to optimize sales’ time on the sales qualified leads to increase sales productivity. Technology will only go so far to help qualify a lead (the marketing qualified lead). Human intervention allows further qualification that technology typically does not provide such as budget, authorization, need, and time line.
6. Formulate a closed-loop lead nurturing system. Lead nurturing is the process of developing a positive long-term relationship with leads/prospects through meaningful dialogue, and then tracking their development into sales opportunities. Have marketing and sales collaborate to create a lead nurturing program, document it in your service level agreement, and build it using a drag and drop graphical user interface, available in some marketing automation packages. Effectively, you’ll build a formal lead flow system for leads to travel from marketing to sales and back to marketing if necessary. Make sure to use lead nurturing technology that allows sales to pass leads that are not quite ready to buy back to marketing to avoid “lead leakage”. This is a fantastic way to recycle your leads and increase sales productivity.
7. Use offers that setup appointments for sales. When sending out email marketing messages as part of a lead nurturing campaign, make sure to include offers that keep sales busy with sales-centric meetings. For example, offer free consultations, a personal demonstration, or personalized ROI analysis. Having your email marketing program act as an admin will decrease sales administrative tasks and increase sales productivity.
8. Get more out of your purchased lists. At Lead Liaison, we don’t recommend buying lists since the people on the list most likely have no idea who you are. A better practice is to build up your own database of interested prospects or folks you’ve had relationships with (at some level) and nurture your database, thereby leveraging your existing assets. The result is a lower cost per lead as marketers don’t have to pay for new leads. However, if you must buy a list then consider your approach to marketing to that list very carefully. Don’t just send a single email message asking for an appointment or the sale. Focus on building a longstanding relationship with your contact. Start by sending them educational material and increase product-related content as the contact expresses interest in your solutions through their interaction with your website. Over time, you’ll be able to surface who’s interested and who is not and increase sales productivity.
9. Have marketing send personalized emails on behalf of sales. Always, always, always (is that enough) personalize your emails by sending them from the sales person or a marketing contact. Never send a generic email blasted to your entire database. It may work, but you’ll get a much higher hit rate if you personalize your messages. Try incorporating the recipient’s name and company in the message to increase click-through rates. Limiting the number of emails sales has to customize and send manually will increase sales productivity.
10. Reactivate your old leads. As mentioned above, a great strategy is to re-market to your database. First, start by creating a breakdown of the age of the contacts in your database for a period of 3 months each. For example, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and so on to get a snapshot of the age of your database contacts. As a suggestion, re-market to leads 1 year or older then 9-12 months old, etc. You’ll help reduce the 18.7% of time your sales people spend on lead generation and allocate more of their time to sell.
Contact Lead Liaison to learn how we can help your business with lead scoring, lead nurturing, sales prospecting, lead generation, activating old leads, personalize email on behalf of sales, get more from purchased lists, and track leads in real time with our revenue generation software. After all, we want you to “sell more, do less” with an increase in sales productivity.
We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What have you done to increase sales productivity?
To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button.
Lead Liaison gets lots of leads daily by tracking website visitors that interact with our marketing assets. In this article, we’ll discuss the opportunity created by website visitor tracking, explain how technology enables tracking, and summarize our website visitor tracking solution so you can begin finding new leads for your company today.
Benefit of tracking website visitors
Businesses miss an opportunity to collect a wealth of information on potential leads by not tracking website visitors. Brian Carroll, a lead generation analyst, estimates lead conversion rates are less than 4%. A lead conversion rate is the number of website visitors divided by web form submissions. For example, if there were 100 visitors on a given day then, on average, a maximum of 4 of those 100 visitors would complete and submit a web form. Web forms come in many flavors such as a request for product information, demo or contact us form. Turning this data on its head, it means 96% of website visitors are unknown, fly under the radar, never “raise their hand” or go unnoticed by a sales person. What if you could turn those hidden visitors into leads and prioritize the most interested prospects? This is the opportunity available to companies by tracking website visitors.
How website visitor tracking works
Fortunately, we get to drink our own champagne here at Lead Liaison – we use our own technology to create leads for our company. We get a lot of questions about our website visitor tracking technology and what value this adds. Let’s first talk about what tracking doesn’t tell us. People sometimes think tracking website visitors will reveal an email address, name and phone number for each visitor. It’s possible to do so only if the visitor “opts-in” (more on this later); however, no trustworthy software can identify first-time website visitors with this information unless the visitor is running software on their local machine that gathers information and reports it back to you. Software such as this is known as spyware or malware.
The process of tracking website visitors
Lead Liaison categorizes website visitors into two buckets; known leads and unknown leads. Known leads are tracked website visitors who we have information on, such as a name or email. Unknown leads are tracked website visitors we know nothing about. Lead Liaison’s technology turns unknown leads into known leads by allowing unknown leads to opt-in. Unknown leads opt-in to the revenue generation cycle (sales cycle) through one of four ways:
web form submission
outlook email message
manual sync by a user of our software
Once the lead opts-in, we establish a connection between the cookie and the users profile allowing us to identify past and future website visits. Visits as well as other activities created by our software, email opens and form submissions, are aggregated and displayed in our web application or CRM like Salesforce.com. By tracking website visitors a prospect profile is created. The prospect profile includes pages viewed (click pattern), time on site, search phrases used by the website visitor to find your website, lead qualification score via lead scoring and more. Additionally, business intelligence information is appended to the lead using proprietary technology to deliver an even more comprehensive lead profile.
If the website visitor’s online behavior, or “digital body language”, is indicative of any sort of interest then they’re deemed “sales-ready” and passed to our sales team, in real-time, for follow up. Alternatively, add the lead to a lead nurturing cycle for automated and personalized follow up and/or send them relevant content over time to further develop the lead. Here’s a summary of the value in tracking website visitors:
Provides sales with a new source of leads
Prepares sales with a profile of prospect’s interest
Notifies sales when there’s a hot lead
Identifies, in real-time, when a prospect is thinking about your solutions
Validates prospecting efforts or meetings that generate actual interest
How to enable tracking website visitors
Enabling website visitor tracking is simple. A company adds a few lines of code (tracking code) to each page they need tracked. Every new visitor gets a cookie dropped on their machine. Combined with the IP address, this information can be used to track interaction with your website and append business intelligence information such as company name, revenue, location and more. As a rule of thumb, it’s easier to track a corporate IP address vs. a residential IP address. For example, if you’re a B2B solutions provider and your website visitor is accessing your website from their corporate office, Lead Liaison can identify their company name from the IP address. If the visitor is accessing your website from home, tracking shows the ISP, such as Road Runner or Comcast, as the company name, which isn’t very useful. Fortunately, advanced lead tracking systems such as Lead Liaison’s allow you to turn on/off tracking of residential IP addresses to filter B2B leads only.
The way B2B buyers are buying and budgeting solutions has changed. The internet era has permanently altered B2B buyer’s behavior. In today’s age, an abundance of information is available online via web pages, press releases, social media and blogs. As a buyer, all you need is time and a browser. A study, pioneered by DemandGen Report and Genius.com, titled “Inside the Mind of the New B2B Buyer”, shares insight on the rapid changes in buying habits. In summary, there are two prominent areas of change; the way B2B buyer’s purchases are researched and budgeted. We’ll discuss the implications these changes have on today’s B2B companies and recommend a course of action.
Probably the most alarming result of the study is the shift in control. Among the B2B buyers surveyed, less than 10% of recent buyers were contacted cold by the solution provider. More than 80% said they contacted the solution provider directly. Pre-internet, analysts and vendors maintained control; however, post-internet, the control shifted from the solution provider to the buyer.
Changes in the way B2B buyers buy
The reason for the change in control is the availability of information online and the opportunity for B2B buyers to conduct their research on their own clock. When the B2B professionals surveyed were asked about their research habits:
78% started with informal info gathering
59% engaged with peers who addressed the challenge
48% followed industry conversations on topic
44% conducted anonymous research of a select group of vendors
41% followed discussions to learn more about topic
37% posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions/feedback
More than 20% connected directly with potential solution providers via social networking channels
There are two calls to action for B2B companies. First, maintain an online presence where your prospects conduct their research. This includes social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. Effectively, vendors should participate in any social media channel providing full duplex communication, which allows prospects, as well as vendors, to have a voice. Medium to large sized firms commonly assign a single human resource to “social media strategy”. Second, businesses should leverage technology to help track the plethora of online leads. In fact, 95% of all website visitors do not fill out a web form and go unnoticed. Revenue generation software from Lead Liaison helps businesses measure the return on investment in social media by segmenting website visitors by lead source and tracks both known and unknown leads as well as their online behavior. The software also helps prioritize website visitors as hot, warm, or cold leads based on the visitor’s demographics and/or interaction with marketing assets such as a website, email campaigns and web forms. Sales people can be notified in real time when a lead meets certain criteria. Without technology like this, you’ll struggle turning your online audience into leads as they’ll simply fly under your radar.
Revenue generation software also provides lead nurturing. Lead nurturing helps companies automate responses and future communication with new leads, keeping them “warm” and interested. The study justifies the benefit of lead nurturing technology as it provides relevant and consistent communication, typically through email marketing, using various content sources:
66% of respondents indicated that the “consistent and relevant communication provided by both the sales and marketing organizations” was a key influence in choosing that company as their solution provider.
Almost 95% of recent purchasers said the solution provider they chose “provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.”
Changes in the way B2B buyers budget
Finally, the way B2B buyers define budget is changing. Gone are the days when budgets were carved out and locked in at the end of the year. Budgets have become more flexible and often times created on the fly; especially if there is a positive ROI. The study concludes:
Less than ¼ indicated budget was approved/allocated during the beginning of the year
Nearly half of the respondents indicated they determined “the potential impact through other adopters and built a business case for immediate adoption,” then received approval although the project was un-budgeted.
23% noted that budget was allocated after ROI was proven
9% indicated budget was taken from another line item
There’s one call to action for B2B companies. Build a rock solid ROI model for your solution. Use the ROI as a tool to broker interaction and discussion with your prospects. If you have something of value, the economics should support it. More importantly, you’ll end up making a strong case for your solution and possibly get something that was not in the budget budgeted.
In conclusion, businesses can adapt to these changes by using revenue generation software that emphasizes lead tracking, lead scoring, lead nurturing and marketing automation processes while building a solid ROI to support their solution.
Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with prospects over time while shaping their interest in your solution to a certain threshold, or lead score, until the lead is ready for sales. It’s similar to progressing from dating to marriage. First, there’s initial contact where one person expresses interest in another. If the person being courted is too aggressive in their response it could be a turn off to the interested party. Fortunately, there are dating and lead nurturing best practices to adhere to. Whether dating or trying to sell, it’s vital to deepen the relationship over time and know when to commit more.
According to Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, 95% of website visitors are not ready to speak to sales. They may be just researching your industry and your company. However, studies show sales-readiness of website visitors will increase over time. In fact, 70% of those visitors will eventually buy from someone – including your competition. Unfortunately, most companies don’t realize this outcome.
What problems does lead nurturing solve?
If your lead generation process is similar to most companies, once a contact fills out a web form two things occur. First, the contact is loaded into a CRM system, such as Salesforce.com. Second, a sales person qualifies the contact with a phone call or email. If the contact does not seem like a short term sale for the sales person the lead is ignored and deemed “unqualified”. No further interaction occurs between the company and the contact. Consequentially, lead generation processes become inefficient and “rusty” over time while sales people develop a stigma about the quality of marketing’s leads. Research supports this trend as 80% of all marketing leads are unused, which is a waste of 80% of marketing’s budget.
How will lead nurturing help you?
To maximize ROI on your marketing dollars, it is imperative that interested prospects remain in close communication with you and your company well beyond the initial point of contact. Instead of dropping unqualified leads into a black hole, companies should build a relationship with the lead through a series of scheduled communications. By doing so, companies shape the preference of their potential buyers and stand a better chance of winning a prospects business.
Decrease the percent of leads generated by marketing that are ignored by sales from 80% to approximately 25%.
Raise win rates of leads generated by marketing 7% points higher and reduce “no decisions” by 6%.
Have 9% more sales representatives make quota and decrease ramp up time for new reps by 10%.
Increase efficiency as nurtured-prospects buy more, require less discounting and have shorter sales cycles than prospects that bought but were not nurtured.
Generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost-per-lead.
Number 5 is very important. Lead nurturing allows marketers to maximize return on their most valued asset, a marketing database. Marketers spend lots of money collecting new leads to build up their database. Rely less on adding uninterested contacts with incomplete information to your database and focus on building a high quality database you can nurture. By eliminating dependencies on new contacts and leveraging existing leads, marketers lower cost per lead.
For the expert marketer, this is solid data. However, for beginners trying to understand why they should spend any time on lead nurturing here’s a simple summary. Lead nurturing will:
automate follow-up communication with leads too numerous to be handled through direct sales; and
cultivate and nurture contacts over time so those contacts remember your brand when the need arises.
Lead nurturing tips
Creating a lead nurturing plan is not difficult. Here are four tips for creating your plan:
1. Create content that tells a story, from start to finish.
2. Don’t focus nurturing content on your product; rather, focus content on what your product does for your prospect. Communicate your message using 3rd party content, case studies, white papers, eBooks, Podcasts, webinars and tradeshows invitations.
3. Select a time line and frequency for your nurturing program. Most programs last 12 months on average but vary based on sales cycles. Identify how long your typical sales cycle is and use that as the duration of your nurturing program. Most programs nurture their leads one time per month on average.
4. Keep lead nurturing simple. Experts suggest 80% of the benefit of lead nurturing is achieved by the first 20% of effort. Refrain from creating too many lead nurturing programs / tracks. To start, create only one program per industry relevant to your business. For example, if most of your customers are in the finance and telecom industry create two programs; one with content relevant to finance and the other with content relevant to telecom.
Sample lead nurturing program
Below is an example of a lead nurturing program with 12 nurturing events over 12 months.
Initial Contact –> Introductory phone call and follow-up “thank you” email Month 1 –> 3rd party article on pertinent technology via email Month 2 –> Industry relevant case study via email with follow-up call Month 3 –> Newsletter with scheduled follow up task Month 4 –> 3rd party article on pertinent technology via email Month 5 –> Relevant white paper via email Month 6 –> Targeted campaign via direct mail Month 7 –> Relevant eBook via email with scheduled follow-up call Month 8 –> Link to relevant Podcast via email with follow-up call Month 9 –> Free report via email with follow-up call Month 10 –> Invitation to webinar via email with follow-up call Month 11 –> Call to invite to industry trade show and follow-up with registration link Month 12 –> Prospect calls you and becomes a sales-ready lead
Executing lead nurturing best practices
Once your lead nurturing program is up and running, you’ll need to start prioritizing and capturing your leads. First, you have to define what a sales-ready lead is. A sales-ready lead is a contact that meets your ideal profile and/or demonstrates interest in your solution commensurate with buying signals. By using lead scoring, companies have the opportunity to measure the relative levels of sales-readiness of one lead versus another. Combining lead scoring with real-time lead tracking technology allows companies to notify their sales team of a hot lead at the exact moment a nurtured-contact interacts with marketing collateral. For example, if a contact is sent an email message with links to an article on your company’s website, you’ll be notified in real-time via email or desktop software when the contact clicks the link. This process creates a closed-loop email marketing system, which most email marketing programs do not have.
We suggest defining a sales-ready lead and your lead nurturing programs in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLAs are used to broker collaboration and agreement between sales and marketing. Remember, make sure you execute your lead nurturing plan and stick to it. To quote Thomas Edison, “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”.
A lead nurturing program similar to the one above can be fully automated and executed using revenue generation software from Lead Liaison.
We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What lead nurturing best practices do you suggest?
To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button.
https://www.leadliaison.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Lead-Liaison-Logo5.png00Lead Liaisonhttps://www.leadliaison.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Lead-Liaison-Logo5.pngLead Liaison2011-02-04 08:31:352014-09-16 21:49:23Lead Nurturing Best Practices