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B2B event

10 Things Event Managers Should Do During A B2B Event

They say that event planning is one of the most stressful jobs. B2B event planners, do you want to know a secret that might make your job slightly less stressful? Repeatable processes! 

We’re all about processes here. If you can outline the process for your various tasks, then you’ll greatly reduce the time and energy that you’ll have to put into those tasks because you won’t have to reorient yourself with the operation each time you start. 

We’ve created several process resources to help B2B event planners, like our Trade Show Preparation Checklist, Questions to Ask When Integrating Independent Lead Capture, or our Post-Show Questionnaire. Today, we will focus on the tasks that you might want to consider during your B2B event. Download the infographic here, or read below for more details about each item. 

10 Things Event Managers Should Do During A B2B Event

B2B At-Event Checklist

B2B events are fast-paced, but there is a lot of value that your company is going to want to squeeze out of it. Every item in the checklist below may not apply to your company, but we recommend that you take this list and modify it as needed. Then, use this as a part of your “trade show kit” going forward. Your team will be impressed with how well you manage the event, from start to finish.

  • Test your lead retrieval on each other. Scan each other’s badge and make sure the information is collected correctly, and that it feeds into your existing backend systems (CRM, marketing automation, etc.) in a timely manner. If you’ve set up a post-event workflow, this would be the final time to test and make sure all applicable actions are triggered upon form submission. While you should have tested this already, make sure nothing has changed by testing at the event. 
  • Set goals for your booth staff. In our experience, salespeople are born competitors. Surprise your booth staff with a special prize for the one that captures the most quality leads, and let them know in your morning get-together on day one. If they haven’t had their coffee yet, this will grab their attention and kick their competitiveness into high gear. 
  • Establish a central point of contact for any unexpected circumstances. This person might be yourself, but make sure to communicate this to your team. This will simplify your event more than you realize. Many times people like to “be the hero” but end up just muddying the waters. You planned the event. You have all the order forms. You know the process. You should manage the unexpected. 
  • Take a photo of your team in front of your booth. Use this photo in your event follow-up to remind prospects of who you are, and why they are getting the email. Most people need the visual reminder, so this will assist your company in standing out from competitors. 
  • Schedule a post-event meeting with your team. Go ahead and give everyone a heads up that you’ll want to have a quick recap meeting after the event closes for the day. Don’t surprise them towards the end of the day – set expectations early. This meeting will give you a chance to take your team’s temperature. How is the event going? Is there anything they needed today that you can prepare for tomorrow? Bonus points for scheduling this at a nearby watering hole. 
  • Ensure that any pre-purchased elements are in working order prior to the event start (ex: power, wifi). The ideal time to do this is during setup. You’ll likely know if a power source isn’t working right off the bat. But, don’t assume the wifi will work once the event starts. Test it during setup. 
  • Walk the floor. Take at least a half-hour to walk the trade show floor. Bring your cell phone and take pictures of booths that inspire you, and of your competition. You’ll come back to these photos later – I promise. Take the time to orient yourself and note where might be a better booth location next show.
  • Find your show organizer contact and ask for their input on your booth. This person could provide an unbiased opinion of what’s working and what’s not, especially in direct comparison to the other booths. You can take that information and build on it for the next show. 
  • Invite customers in attendance to your booth. Lure them with a special treat, like donuts or a snack basket. The goal is to keep them in your booth long enough to possibly provide testimonials to new potential clients. There’s nothing more convincing than a living, breathing advocate for your product or solution. 
  • Make notes on how to tweak your lead capture process. If you are using a mobile lead capture app over the antiquated badge scanners, you likely built your own lead capture form. What questions are your team skipping? Are there any parts of your lead capture form that could use fine-tuning for next time? We recommend using an independent lead capture solution across all of your events, so you can more easily clone your process from event to event. This also makes it infinitely easier to make minor tweaks to the lead capture and post-show workflow, based on experience. 

With each event that you manage, you’ll find more items to add to this list and discover which ones don’t really apply to your company. The key is to let your trade show experiences build off of one another. They should not be compartmentalized, but rather a cumulative effort to overall B2B event success. 

To learn more about Lead Liaison’s B2B event lead capture solution, request a personalized demo here.

Email Deliverability in 2018

I’ve had quite a few discussions recently about email deliverability. Most people seem to be aware of the basics; don’t use giant images, avoid spammy languages, and make sure that you have SPF and DKIM set up when using an email service. While that might have been enough 10 years ago, things get trickier when we talk about email domain reputations.

Email clients determine whether your message is any good based on your reputation. If you have a good reputation, you won’t have any issues getting your message through. If it’s bad, then you’re much more likely to end up in the junk folder. So, what goes into your email domain reputation?

Open Rate

Email services like Google, Yahoo!, and many others keep track of the open rate of emails sent from your system. If you have a very low open rate, then they interpret that to mean that you’re not sending good content. After all, if their users delete your emails before even reading them, they must not care about it very much. While a low open rate isn’t the biggest factor in determining your email deliverability, it can be enough to make a difference.

You can increase your open rate by sending relevant content to smaller segments rather than blasting a generic email to your whole database. People don’t really care about your organization; they care about how your organization can make an impact to them specifically. You can learn more about segmentation here.

Bounces

An email bounces when you try to send it to an invalid email address. Email addresses could be invalid due to them belonging to former employees, the inbox being full, or simply because the email was mistyped or made up. The more bounces you get, the more it affects your reputation. Why?

Bounces indicate that you haven’t validated your email lists recently. While that’s bad for a few reasons, it can be an indicator that you’ve sent emails to a purchased list. Never send emails to a purchased list, even if the selling company promises everyone is validated and opted in!

Unsubscribes

Email marketers everywhere fear the dreaded unsubscribe. When a person opts out of emails, you lose the ability to send them any kind of email communication. That makes your job of engaging and qualifying infinitely harder.

Moreover, a high unsubscribe rate means that people don’t care about the content you’re sending. Like a low open rate, this tells clients they might as well send you to the junk folder. Unlike a low open rate, a high unsubscribe rate can seriously impact your email deliverability.

You can avoid unsubscribes by sending relevant content to smaller segments. You should also make sure that you only send to people who have specifically opted in to your email lists. Just because they signed up for your newsletter doesn’t mean they also wanted special offers. And above all, don’t send emails to purchased lists!

Spam Complaints

Now we’re getting into serious territories. If you’re getting spam complaints, then you’re either sending to people who never opted in, or you’ve made it too difficult to unsubscribe. Either way, not only will spam complaints hurt your deliverability, they can also get you blacklisted. Worst of all, if you did send an email to someone who didn’t opt in, you could face serious fines and penalties per email.

You can protect yourself from spam complaints by making sure you only email people who have opted in to email marketing. Also, make sure you make the unsubscribe options clear and easy to find, and honor all opt outs in a timeline manner. And, like I said before, never send marketing emails to a purchased list!

Spam Traps

Spam traps are email addresses that are specifically set up to catch people sending emails to purchased lists. Organizations will leak these emails to list sellers. No matter what the seller says, spam traps are kept secret, and there’s no way they could vet them all. Even validation services may not protect you as the addresses are technically valid.

The only way they would appear on your email list is if you bought a list. Because of this, sending to a spam trap can impact your email deliverability more than almost anything else on this list. It’s basically a smoking gun proving you sent emails to someone who didn’t opt in. Hopefully we’ve already made this point, but don’t use purchased lists!

The Take Away

If you’re looking at this list and feel intimidated, don’t worry. Just do what you’re supposed to be doing. Send relevant content to segments, and only send emails to people who have opted in to the specific type of communication you are sending. Luckily, Lead Liaison can help you with this. If you’d like to learn more about how we protect our email marketing partners, sign up for a demo today.

Should You Build Your Website on the HubSpot CMS?

Are you thinking you should build your website on the HubSpot CMS? In this post we’ll cover five key points to consider.

COS vs. CMS

HubSpot refers to it’s platform to host and build your website as a COS, a Content Optimization System. On the other hand, other popular systems such as WordPress refer to their platform as a CMS, a Content Management System. HubSpot creatively uses the word “optimization” as they have mechanisms to help with SEO and personalization of content. These are not differentiating factors though – and you have to pay for the ability to personalize your content. For example, with SEO, there are readily available, and free, SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack, that you could easily add to your WordPress instance to start optimizing content. Regarding personalization, you can only do it if you’re using everything HubSpot. It might be wise to choose a solution to personalize content that is independent of the underlying platform. For example, Lead Liaison provides SiteEngage™, to create dynamic website content, which can be deployed on any CMS. If you talked to HubSpot, they’d pitch you on their COS having everything in it to handle marketing activities, like email marketing, social media, CTAs, and more. If you didn’t use the HubSpot CMS, and opted for something like WordPress instead, HubSpot would tell you that you’ll end up needing a bunch of other plug-ins to make your website work with marketing activities. Well, that’s not true. What you really need is a good marketing platform that can do all of that for you. Case in point, with something like Lead Liaison’s Lead Management Automation™ platform, it includes all the facilities to successfully track inbound marketing and deliver omni-channel outbound marketing, without the need to install plug-ins. Regardless of your CMS, you’ll have the flexibility to launch marketing campaigns and embed forms and CTAs into your CMS.

CMS Market Share

hubspot cms market shareAs of this post, WordPress had 59.2% market share, followed by Joomla! with 6.9% and Drupal with 4.7% according to w3techs.com. HubSpot CMS had .2%. That’s not a lot of market share that’s been gained in 11+ years (HubSpot CMS available since 2006). I’m not a betting man, but I wouldn’t put my money into a system that is not widely used, supported by a single company (not a community), has limited choices for plug-ins/integrations, and costs a lot of money.

Proprietary vs. Open Source

Proprietary systems such as HubSpot’s CMS are going to be expensive, and restrictive. You’ll easily end up spending 10s of thousands of dollars on a proprietary platform. The advantage of a proprietary system is that the provider, HubSpot in this case, controls the entire experience. They can make sure everything works well together. On the other hand, a system like WordPress is open source, meaning there’s no charge to use it. You might spend $40 to $60 on a theme, but you’ll have millions of plug-ins. WordPress is the CMS that runs more than 25% of all websites across the world! According to ManageWP, you’d be in good company with sites like The New York Times, National Geographic, Forbes, etc. using WordPress. The number of available choices to offered by an open source system vs. a proprietary system are overwhelming.

Choices, Locked Down or Freedom to Move

With over 50,800 plug-ins and growing daily, 72 translations of WordPress, average of $50 per hour for developers, and thousands of themes, you’ve got choices with open source systems like WordPress. With a proprietary system, choices are limited only to what the vendor provides or the vendors community provides. With .2% market share, don’t hope for much.

This statement from The Sales Lion does a good job of summarizing migration challenges if you’re on the HubSpot CMS and want to get off of it:

Both platforms are completely independent, and therefore there is no easy way to migrate from one to another. There is no simple export process to easily move your Hubspot site to WordPress or vice versa.

If you are moving from Hubspot to WordPress, you’ll have to build each page again, through a copy and paste process. CSS styling will have to be duplicated to match the styling from the previous site. This can be done more easily by building a theme for WordPress that matches that of your HubSpot site.

On the other hand, migrating between WordPress themes is easy! All of your data is stored in the same database. Changing the themes is as easy as making a few button clicks in the UI. The ability to choose between 1,000s of different themes is great. There’s no doubt your website will need a facelift every 5 to 10 years. Are you ready to easily make the change?

The Bottom Line

You definitely have a choice. If you want to have a sense of ownership of your website, go with an open source system. To quote Snyxius.com about WordPress vs. HubSpot:

The interface of the WordPress is so simple that you don’t have to rely on other to make changes or fix a tiny error for you. You can do it on your own this way. You are in full control of your site and your wallet.

I’m sure you’d be devastated if you went down the path of using the HubSpot CMS and didn’t like it. What would you do then? Probably not much, because HubSpot would own your entire site. It’s kind of like owning your own storefront, or leasing from someone else. If you had the chance to own your store front, you could do whatever you want. If you don’t, the landlord has complete control. Let’s just hope they don’t kick you out. In summary, make sure you set yourself up for maximum flexibility. Have a little diversity with your marketing, don’t put all of your eggs in a single basket, and make a good decision for the long run.

Reflections on Marketing Automation in 2016

Reflections on Marketing AutomationWe live in a time of extraordinary change. Marketing has come a long way in a small amount of time. And the industry is just continuing to refine itself! To be able to entirely appreciate the current state of marketing automation, it’s best to briefly acknowledge where it has been.

Marketing automation first came into existence in 1992, focusing on email alone. Businesses did not have a lot of online presence at the time, so there wasn’t really a huge opportunity for it to take off until the late 2000’s. Now, it has grown its capabilities so greatly that it is able to help companies deliver various marketing content through different channels to customers based on their online behavior.

As digital platforms become increasingly more powerful, there is more untapped data at our fingertips than ever. The need for organizing, integrating, and maximizing the benefits of that data has become essential. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” rings true. We have access to increasing demographic, psychographic, historical, and behavioral information. It’s information overload!

Marketing Automation now has the ability to capture all of this data, listen to it, interpret it, and utilize it in the most effective ways possible. The field of marketing automation is something that started small, exploded, and is now refining itself. Technology is more intuitive. Platforms are becoming easier to navigate. Consequently, the tools are more often used to their fullest potential. Companies such as us have mastered content personalization, customizable resource centers, and integration.

What’s to Come in Marketing Automation

The marketing automation industry is somewhat saturated. This can be beneficial to the end user, in that companies must listen to their clients’ needs, wishes, and dreams. Even more customization, personalization and integration (with systems like mail or additional CRMs) is in the near future.

Another thing that is fast-approaching is an upgrade to the customer journey, or more specifically customer journey optimization. Instead of combining many customers’ courses of action into a few general paths, automation is challenged to grow to support infinite customer journeys. According to industry expert David Raab, this is “quite different from pre-determining an ideal customer journey and trying to force customers to follow it.” The industry seems to be taking back control over the user experience, instead of just reacting to it.

It’s an exciting time in marketing automation. With every challenge comes greater exploration and innovation. What do you see on the horizon for the industry? We look forward to hearing your feedback below!

How to Prospect Using Handwritten Letters

How to Prospect Using Handwritten Letters

Get Ready to Prospect Using Handwritten Letters – Be Different

With technology, people are always looking forward. They constantly think of new ways to tackle problems or attract customers. Sometimes, though, you need to take an old school approach to get the job done. That’s the case when it comes to prospecting. Instead of letting technology get in the way of your prospecting success, use handwritten letters. Once you know how to prospect using handwritten letters, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using this method all along.

Write Letters That Are Easy to Scan

People are used to reading on the web, where articles include headlines and are easy to scan. You can provide the same experience with your handwritten letters. Make the paragraphs short and to the point and include bullet points, if needed. People should be able to glance at your letter and pick out the main points without any problems. 

Use a Handwritten Envelope

Your letter will only be effective if the recipient opens it. People are more likely to open mail that has a handwritten envelope, so take the time to write the names and addresses out. If you don’t have the time, a service can do it for you.

Don’t Include Teaser Copy

Some people like to put what is often referred to as “teaser copy” on the envelope. They use words like “FREE” and “URGENT” on the envelope, thinking it will increase the open rates. Instead, it makes people think they have received junk mail. 

Use the Letter as Part of an Automated Sequence

Handwritten letters are an excellent way to prospect, but you can’t expect people to respond to them. People aren’t going to sit down and write a letter back to you, and many people won’t pick up the phone and call. That’s why you need to make them a part of a sequence. Follow your handwritten prospecting letters up with phone calls or emails so people can respond. Putting the letters inside of a sequence also makes it easier to nurture your leads.

Now that you know how to prospect using handwritten letters, it’s time to get started. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to write a great sales letter or if you don’t have the time to put into the process. You can use a service to handle the letters for you. Services can even include the handwritten letter as part of an automated prospecting plan.

3 Tips for Better Handwritten Notes

3 Tips for Better Handwritten Notes

Better Handwritten Notes

Want to write better handwritten notes and letters? Handwritten notes provide an easy way to break down barriers between your company and your customers. When people receive a handwritten letter from you, they will be impressed that you went the extra mile to drop them a line. You can impress them even more by following some tips that will allow you to send out top-notch handwritten notes. These tips are easy to follow and will put you on the right track for customer service success.

Use High-Quality Stationary

Don’t get out your spiral notebook and fire off a letter to your customers. They deserve high-quality stationary, and they will judge you if they don’t get it. If you send handwritten notes out on subpar paper, they will think that you are either too cheap to spring for the good stuff or your business is in trouble. Put your best foot forward by using high-quality stationary every time you send out a note or letter.

Keep It Simple

People love the idea of receiving handwritten notes, but they don’t want to put aside an hour to read them. Keep your notes short and to the point. Remember, each customer’s time is precious and you don’t want to infringe on it any more than necessary. Get right to the point, say thank you, and let the customer be on his or her way. 

Use the Right Type of Ink

Blue and black ink are considered professional. If you go with red, pink, green, or another color, your company will look unprofessional, which means your reputation might take a hit with your customers. Simply choosing the right type of ink will help you stand out for the right reasons. Then, when customers think back to the handwritten note, they’ll have positive memories, down to the type of ink you used.

It can be hard to remember everything that you need to do to write amazing notes. If you aren’t sure that you can keep everything straight, use a service for your handwritten notes. The service will write the notes and send them out to everyone. Some services even let you choose the gender of the letter writer, along with the type of handwriting the person uses. This type of customization ensures that your customers receive the perfect handwritten notes.

How to Send Handwritten Letters Online with an Authentic Touch

Send Handwritten Letters Online

Send Handwritten Letters Online

Learn how to send handwritten letters online with these insights. If you feel like technology has eliminated the personal touch, you aren’t alone. A lot of people complain that emails and printouts have replaced handwritten letters and other personal gestures. As much as you might miss the good old days, this change actually has its benefits. Now, if you do something personal, such as send out a handwritten letter, your business will stand out. The best part is you don’t actually have to write the letter yourself. You can send handwritten letters online through a service. Just make sure the company you choose provides authentic-looking handwritten letters or you won’t win over your customer base. 

Real Handwriting

While some companies use a handwriting font and print the letters off, others actually handwrite them. They put pen to paper to create these letters so no one can deny the authenticity. When people see a real handwritten letter from your company, they will assume you took the time to take a piece of stationary out and write. They won’t realize that you used a service to send handwritten letters online.

Postmarked from Your Location

Savvy consumers will notice if a handwritten letter is postmarked from the wrong location. For instance, if your company is located in Florida and your handwritten letter is postmarked from California, that will stand out to someone who is observant. The person will automatically realize that you didn’t send the letter yourself, which means you will look untrustworthy.

That’s why some companies make sure the postmark comes from your location. This adds another layer of authenticity to the process and helps you build trust – and win points – with your customer base.

Fully Customizable

Handwritten letters are all about personalization and customization. You can take it one step further by adding your logo, headers, and other customization options to the letter. This is a great branding opportunity, and it will assure the recipient that the letter is authentic. You need to grab every branding opportunity that is available, so this is critical.

Instead of lamenting about how technology has changed the world, use it to reach out to your customers with handwritten letters. You will give your customers the personal touch they crave while benefiting from the speed and ease that technology provides. 

Handwritten Thank-You Notes Give Businesses a Boost

Handwritten Thank-You Notes Give Businesses a BoostMiss Manners could probably write an entire column about the death of thank-you notes. Instead of thank-you notes, businesses fire off impersonal emails or send out bulk mailings to their customers. Emails end up in spam folders, and bulk mail-outs make their way into trashcans, so customers don’t realize they have been properly thanked. If you want to make Miss Manners proud, it’s time to consider handwritten thank-you notes. You can hire a service to create and send the notes for you, so you can enjoy the benefits without spending any time on the process. 

Handwritten Thank-You Notes Show Appreciation 

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies send out more than 100 emails each day, while young adults send or receive around 100 texts each day. At the same time, people receive approximately one personal letter every seven weeks. These numbers mean your thank-you emails and bulk mailings get lost in the shuffle, but your handwritten thank-you notes stick out to the recipients. They show appreciation in ways that other forms of communication don’t, making handwritten notes well worth sending.

Customer Loyalty Is Based on Beginnings and Endings

Most businesses put a lot of emphasis on the first impression with a customer. They go out of their way to ensure that customers like them from the get-go. Then, they make the sale and forget about the customer.

Endings are just as important as beginnings. If you end the transaction the right way, you will build customer loyalty. Customer loyalty translates into additional sales, plus referrals. The easiest way to build that loyalty is with a handwritten thank-you note.

These notes put a heartwarming end to the transaction. They make people think of your business in a favorable way, and those thoughts will stand out the next time they look for goods or services. They will also make people more likely to become advocates for your business. 

Writing your own notes is time-consuming, but you can simplify the process by using a service. Services that provide handwritten thank-you notes handle all of the details so you’ll get the accolades without the hard work. It’s nice to get the credit without putting in the time, so don’t pass this opportunity up. Need help with what to put in your thank you note? Click here for more help

What to Include in a Business Thank You Letter

business thank you letterWhen you want to thank your customers, what do you do? Do you shoot them an email that they will never receive, or do you send them a letter? If you send them a letter, do you print it off and mail it, or do you go the extra mile and handwrite it? If you want to get the most out of each business thank you letter you send, handwritten letters are the way to go. They add a personal touch that you can’t get with a printed or emailed note. Get even more out of your handwritten business thank you letter by including the following components. 

Personal Information

When you’re sending a thank you letter to a specific person, include some personal information. Something as simple as what the person bought will help you connect with the reader. If you formed a relationship with the person during the sales process, take it a step further and include information about the person’s job, family, hobbies, or anything else that you know. The more personal information you include, the greater the impact the business thank-you letter will have. 

A Hope for the Future

In the business world, you want to form long-term relationships that weather any storm. Lay the groundwork for such a relationship by mentioning your hope for the future in the note. Something like, “I hope that we can continue to serve your automotive repair needs,” lets the recipient know that you will continue to be there, well after the note is read and put away. 

A Drop-in Item

Drop-in items, such as a gift card, will make your letter even more special. Some people even send books with their thank you letters. Think about what your customer would like and, if it is reasonable, send it with the letter. 

If you like the idea of sending a business thank you letter to your customers but you don’t have time, utilize a service. You can have a company send handwritten thank you letters out, and some services even include drop-in items upon request. With the help of the service, you can connect with your customers in a way that you never thought possible. These new connections will help you as you forge ahead with your company.

Your Crash Course to Offering a Crash Course

Your Crash Course to Offering a Crash CourseConverting visitors often requires giving away something of value. An excellent way to convert visitors, as well as maintain relationships and grow your subscriber base, is to provide a crash course. This method ties in well with making an offer when a customer tries to exit a page. Encourage the visitor to sign up for a crash course by piquing their interest. Clearly, the visitor had at least some passing interest in what you have to offer to have been on that page in the first place. There can be many reasons why a visitor might choose to exit a page, but before they go, make an offer they cannot refuse with a crash course.

Why Offer a Crash Course?

Doing so gives you the opportunity to convert your website visitors by capturing their name as well as email address. With that information, you then have the chance to market to that lead in the future. The person becomes a prospect in your system, and a part of your company’s most valuable asset – your database! In the future, you can segment your database to easily target people that took your crash course.

Designing a Crash Course for Prospects

To be effective, crash courses should be brief in nature. The ideal length of time to offer a crash course is around two weeks. Make sure you do not inundate prospects with too many emails. Furthermore, all emails should be kept short and be educational in nature. Avoid the temptation to make your emails promotional and too salesy.

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools

The chief reason that many website owners do not take advantage of the opportunity to offer a crash course is that they feel they simply do not have the time to do so. Others sometimes feel intimidated at the prospect of offering even a short two-week course.

Tools such as SiteEngage™ can help make this process easier through automation. By creating an automation for a series of emails that are spread out over time, you can provide your visitors with a crash course to maintain their interest and nurture the relationship, all without expending a lot of time or resources.

Offering a crash course at the right time can provide you with an excellent opportunity to engage and convert visitors.