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What is Marketing Automation

What is Marketing AutomationThe term “marketing automation” has been used extensively and possibly incorrectly in the industry. Many definitions exist and many vendors claim they offer marketing automation. As a result, no one vendor offers the same marketing automation solution. We’ll clarify some of the confusion for you and help you answer the question, what is marketing automation?

What is marketing automation according to analyst Mac McIntosh?

“The use of technology to generate, nurture, score and qualify leads, and drive sales, using customized, multi-touch marketing communications tailored for each contact’s profile, level of interest, behavior or place in the buying process.” – Mac McIntosh”, sales-lead-insights.com

Marketing automation has been referenced as the “second coming of email marketing”. The truth is, it might be to email marketing companies; but it’s not, and it’s much more than that. In layman’s terms, what is marketing automation? Marketing automation is a broad description or category name for a set of features and/or technology which help reduce repetitive, high value tasks associated with marketing processes. Repetitive tasks are usually manual and include things such as marketing segmentation (database segmentation), campaign management, database cleansing, and lead nurturing. Marketing segmentation is the process of dividing a contact database into individual marketing segments commensurate with a marketing campaign. For example, dividing a database into companies in the financial industry interested in security solutions. Campaign management is the process of setting up, automating, and measuring campaigns. Setting up a landing page with a web form in conjunction with an email marketing effort is an example of a campaign that’s managed with marketing automation. Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships and automating prospect/customer engagement in a personalized way through a combination of email, web sites, micro sites, and direct mail. The variance in vendor’s marketing automation solutions is attributed to the multitude of features. As suggested above, basic components such as email marketing could be construed as marketing automation. Analyze marketing automation features and benefits carefully when deciding on a vendor’s solution.

What is marketing automation without a way to measure results?

“Without a measurement and analytics component, all “automated” technology is of little more value than a car without a steering wheel. Thus, in order for any customer engagement component to be valuable, it must return actionable data that can be analyzed and benchmarked over time to consistently improve performance…” – Ian Michiels

Marketing automation value is enhanced with lead tracking. Lead tracking “listens” to online visitor behavior to identify prospect’s relative interest to purchase. Tracking creates a digital fingerprint of your prospect’s activity. When combining analytics with marketing automation the solution becomes a powerful tool to help businesses make continuous improvement in their revenue generation cycle.

Surprisingly, a recent study conducted by Aberdeen Group showed that 67 percent of the 130 respondents indicated they relied on multiple separate silos or niche solutions for automating marketing activities vs. leveraging a single integrated platform. When researching what is marketing automation look for a holistic solution; basically, a platform not a product. Lead Liaison considers marketing automation to be one leg of a multi-leg stool that encompasses lead generation, sales prospecting, and automatic lead qualification (lead scoring). Together, these constituents form our revenue generation software platform. To learn more about how you can leverage Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software and/or further discuss what is marketing automation contact us.

To continue education of what is marketing automation reference our three part series on the need for marketing automation, benefits of marketing automation, and lessons learned from marketing automation.

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Getting Started with Lead Nurturing

Getting Started with Lead NurturingA study by the CMO Council showed 80% of leads are lost, ignored or discarded while 73% of companies have no process for revisiting leads. If they’re not the “Glenngary leads” they’re gone, wasted, trashed – bye, bye. Experts estimate businesses have an opportunity to close 38% more deals by using lead nurturing. Getting started with lead nurturing is not challenging as long as you have a recipe for success.

Andre Pino of Forrester Research, Inc. published this article on how to start building a lead nurturing program that delivers results. It’s an excellent article worth reading. Before getting started with lead nurturing define what lead nurturing is, set your objective, and identify your approach. Andre does a great job discussing these three elements so we’ll quote him:

Framework for getting started with lead nurturing:

Definition: Lead nurturing is a process by which leads are tracked and developed into sales-qualified leads. Meaning that they are ready and worthy of a salesperson’s time. Of course, it is critical that you jointly establish the definition of a sales-ready lead with the sales team.

Objective: Our objective is to lead our prospects on an educational journey that moves them down the qualification path and results in a prospect that is highly qualified and ready to enter the sales process.

Approach: Developing a lead nurturing strategy does not need to be a daunting task. A simple approach is best, one that is focused and meaningful to your buyers.

Items to consider when getting started with lead nurturing:

While getting started with lead nurturing take the following six elements into consideration as you work on your plan:

1. Ensure you have a database or list of contacts to start with
2. Focus on the prospect and how B2B buyers buy
3. Consider simple database segmentation (see marketing segmentation) like industry or role to send pertinent content
4. Outline a process that’s relevant to your customers B2B buying process
5. Create great content
6. Be consistent with your messaging

Getting started with lead nurturing is not as hard as you think it is. Lead nurturing is a process of iterations. Begin with a basic program and expand from there. Good luck getting started with lead nurturing and contact Lead Liaison if we can help.

To learn more about how Lead Liaison’s lead nurturing can help you contact us today.

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Lead Nurturing Campaigns

Lead Nurturing CampaignsEmail marketing campaigns are very different from lead nurturing campaigns. Unfortunately, many marketers believe they already nurture leads by sending random, generic, and untimely email messages to their database. In reality, what they are doing is annoying prospects and diminishing return on assets. Marketers must understand that lead nurturing campaigns infuse consistency, relevance, and patience into traditional email marketing campaigns.

“If all you do is send generic email marketing messages to your early stage leads over and over and over again, you’re missing the point. Consistency is good but being relevant and then consistent is even better.” – Brian Carroll, B2B Lead Blog

Lead nurturing campaigns create consistency

Let’s examine a few key words in Brian’s statement. First, let’s discuss “consistency”. Email marketing is typically a very manual and inconsistent process. In the world of email marketing it’s very easy to forget about sending a campaign or lose track of a marketing plan. Marketers must manually schedule email messages on a periodic basis. There’s no systematic way of scheduling campaigns. The frequency of traditional email campaigns is usually monthly or quarterly in the form of a newsletter. Lead nurturing campaigns are different as they allow automatic scheduling of emails. Experts estimate it typically takes 8-12 touches for a lead to start becoming familiar with you. Lead nurturing makes it easier for marketers to be consistent and build relationships over time by automatically scheduling a series of relevant and consistent communications.

Lead nurturing campaigns send relevant communications

Second, let’s touch on the key word “relevant”. Blasting out generic email campaigns demonstrates you don’t understand what your prospects care about. Marketers typically send email messages to the entire database. Lead nurturing campaigns allow marketers to leverage marketing segmentation to segment a database based on demographics, likes, dislikes, website activity or any other profile information stored in the database. Knowing your prospects interests enables lead nurturing campaigns to send tailored and relevant content. Sending relevant content increases the chance of advancing a prospect through the sales cycle through personalized and intimate communications.

Lead nurturing campaigns instill patience

Most marketers who send “static” email campaigns are impatient. They feel once they obtain a new contact/lead they’ve got one chance to turn that contact/lead into an opportunity. If they can’t, they ignore the lead. Marketers must go through a paradigm shift in the way they think about a lead. A lead should be a lead for life. Lead nurturing campaigns help marketers continually leverage their database as a holistic asset by providing frequent and relevant contact touch points with the lead regardless of their stage in the sales cycle. Patience truly is a virtue. Once the lead is ready to “sprout”, you’ll know about it. Brian Carroll shared an interesting analogy related to lead nurturing campaigns:

“…in Minnesota, where I grew up, I worked on a farm with a seed corn farmer and he said you don’t dig up your corn to check and see if it’s growing. That’s the truth with lead nurturing, it’s something that you’re investing in over time and building a relationship with someone” – Brian Carroll, B2B Lead Blog

Lead nurturing campaigns “ready” leads by feeding them topical information to keep your company and solutions top of mind with your prospects. The automated and dynamic capability of lead nurturing campaigns makes lead nurturing very different from email marketing campaigns. If marketers are patient and invest in lead nurturing for the long haul they’ll learn to grow their seeds and harness the fruits of their labor.

To learn more about how Lead Liaison’s lead nurturing campaigns can help you contact us today.

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B2B Buying Process

B2B BuyingKnowing where your prospects are in the B2B buying process helps improve communication with your prospects and increases the chance of turning prospects into customers. First, companies must define what buying stages are specific to their business. Only then can companies use strategies to identify where a prospect is in the buying process. In this article, we’ll explore how to define the B2B buying process, strategies to identify where your buyers are in the process, and discuss the benefits of having this information.

Defining your customer’s buying process

Every B2B buying process is different; however, they commonly share three stages:

1. Awareness
2. Discovery
3. Validation

The B2B buying process generally mirrors the AIDA (Awareness Interest Desire Action) stages of the consumer buying process. However, businesses buy in a different way than consumers. Businesses typically make decisions with multiple people, or committees, and have a higher level of accountability, which makes the process more complex. We discuss the evolution of B2B buyers further in another article. Ron Brauner of Integrated Marketing Strategies defines eight buying stages a prospect will typically progress through. The eight stages are listed in the diagram below. We highlighted three stages common to most B2B companies in red:

B2B Buying Process

Sit down with members of your sales, marketing, and executive team to come up with the stages your B2B buyers go through. Start with the three common stages at a minimum and extrapolate from there if necessary.

Strategies to identify where your buyers are in the B2B buying process

There are three ways to effectively identify where your buyers are in the buying process. Leveraging the use of technology will help with all three approaches.

Identifying the B2B buying process stage:

1. Deduce the prospects behavior during their website visit(s). Did they attend a webinar? Were they looking at pricing or product pages? Did they search for your company using certain keywords?

2. Directly ask what stage the buyer is in on a landing page.

3. Make various unique offers commensurate with the stages of your B2B buying process such as webinars, phone consultations, and self-assessment checklists and gauge your prospects response.

Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software provides lead tracking, landing page creation, lead scoring, and lead nurturing technology to help B2B marketers execute the aforementioned strategies. Lead tracking logs website visitor’s actions as they visit your site picking up search terms, pages viewed, landing pages/web forms, and responses to offers. Landing page technology builds dynamic landing pages using a visual, drag and drop editor to create landing pages in minutes. Lead scoring automatically qualifies leads to identify when to hand the lead off to sales. Finally, lead nurturing automates the process of sending relevant content (usually via email) based on a prospects interest and/or stage in the buying process, triggered from their activity or demographics.

Benefits of identifying the buying process

By identifying the buying process you can send relevant content that your prospects are interested in. Lead nurturing, a feature of marketing automation, delivers this capability. For example, if your prospect is looking at a webpage discussing your market or problems you solve then the prospect is most likely in the “Awareness” stage. At this point, marketers may want to send educational material, such as ROI statements or testimonials, to raise awareness. Alternatively, if your prospect is looking at a specific product webpage or pricing webpage they’re probably in the “Discovery” phase. At this point, you may want to send product-specific content using your lead nurturing system to further educate your prospect. Much like a fisherman catches fish, a marketer can “bait the hook” to develop prospects using material they are likely to care about. Sending relevant content to your prospects will help your company better communicate with your prospects needs, build the relationship between prospect and vendor, and get the prospect to revenue faster.

Also, by demonstrating an understanding of the B2B buying process marketers can better measure marketing effectiveness. The lead funnel can be understood and shared with other members of the team. Additionally, gaps in the revenue cycle as the lead moves from marketing to sales can be identified. Pinpointing gaps allows marketers to better understand why prospects are not moving forward in the buying process. With this information, marketers can refocus their marketing strategies to rectify gaps in the funnel.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What do you do to identify the stage your prospective buyers are in?

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Lessons Learned from Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation Lessons LearnedIn 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 lessons learned from 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 lessons learned from marketing automation, here’s what they had to say:

Lessons Learned from Marketing Automation

Lessons learned from marketing automation – key takeaways and recommendations:

1. As mentioned above, a SLA will help you define your process and plan while revenue generation software will help you execute that plan.

2. When it’s time to get buy-in from sales and executives it’s important to convey the benefits of using marketing automation technology to each respective group. This data is a true testament from other marketers. Additionally, we wrote this article which talks about the benefits of sales and marketing alignment, which executives will like. The broad benefit of this technology will not only help executives but will help sales and marketing as well. See our article on revenue generation for marketers and revenue generation for sales to learn more. The reason we don’t call it marketing automation software and instead use revenue generation software is because this technology helps multiple teams. At the end of the day, what is important is revenue generation, something all teams care about – or should.

3. When working with a vendor to integrate marketing automation technology, make sure you get good, intimate support to help with training and overall adoption. Adoption is an iterative process as features are consumed over time.

4. When finding the right set of features to use, don’t be overwhelmed. There are a lot of capabilities within marketing automation. It’s vital to start small and think big. For example, start with a simple demographic lead scoring campaign. Alternatively, start by using lead distribution or lead response features to automatically deliver leads to sales and respond to inquiries. Next, progress to advanced nurturing campaigns that trigger off of changes in a lead’s activity and interest.

We hope this data on the needs, benefits and lessons learned of marketing automation were helpful. If you’re interested to hear how you can better align sales and marketing teams, gain control over marketing programs, measure marketing effectiveness, and strengthen your sales pipeline contact Lead Liaison. Our revenue generation software includes marketing automation as well as lead generation and sales prospecting technology to help your business.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What lessons have you learned from using 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 two, benefits of marketing automation.

Benefits of Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation BenefitsIn 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

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.

Track your Website

Track your WebsiteDid 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.

If you would like to track your website and generate more leads, higher quality leads, more lead intelligence and better clarity on your revenue cycle contact Lead Liaison here for more information.

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Need for Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation is NeededMarketing 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

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.

White Papers

White papersWhite 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:

  • Microsites
  • Blogs
  • Twitter IDs
  • Facebook website URLs
  • Specific web pages / resource pages
  • Books

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?

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Increase Sales Productivity

Increase Sales ProductivityWould 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.

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?

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