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Lead Follow Up

Lead Follow UpDoes your organization struggle with lead follow up? Does your sales team have a less than stellar process responding to marketing generated leads? If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions help is on the way. Follow 3 rules to lead follow up to help your company produce a higher number of well qualified leads.

The 3 rules to lead follow up are speed, process, and persistence. Let’s analyze these rules to better understand how they support and improve the lead management process.

Speed – Follow up quickly with leads

A recent study done by Leads360 sampled 25 million data points to find conversion rates (people converted from inquiry to qualified lead) increased dramatically with faster response times against initial inquiries. Below is a short list of data points from the sampled leads:

• When called within 1 minute of inquiry, conversion rates are 391% higher

• When called within 2 minutes of inquiry, conversion rates are 120% higher

• When called within 3 minutes of inquiry, conversion rates are 98% higher

• When called within 30 minutes of inquiry, conversion rates are 62% higher

• When called within 60 minutes of inquiry, conversion rates are 36% higher

As evidenced by the data, the lead follow up advantage is less significant after the first 2 minutes have passed and greatly decreases after the first hour. It’s undeniable that fast response time drives loyalty. Businesses create strong psychological and social bonds with rapid lead follow up. If the prospect sees sales ultra-attentive to their inquiry and pre-sales interaction with your company it gives them a feel for how they’d be treated once they are a customer. Additionally, fast lead follow up blocks out competing offers as your prospect invests time into a relationship with you, who is the fastest responder.

Process – Lead follow up is not a one-and-done thing

Companies must not think once initial follow up occurs the lead follow up process is complete. In fact, it’s just started. Unfortunately, most sales and marketing teams heavily invest in the first 3-5% of inquiries that have short-term potential. However, sales people who are not aggressive and tenacious may lose interest in continued contact and neglect lead follow up with these 3-5% of inquiries. Then you have the other 95% of leads that don’t have short-term potential, which businesses commonly ignore. Sadly, 70% of those leads will buy from someone. If companies neglect follow up it results in lots of opportunity left on the table.

The first thing sales, and marketers, need to do is stop thinking a sale will happen in the first call. B2B buyers do not buy on a whim. A relationship must be built. Lead nurturing technology will automatically send personalized and intelligent communications to your prospects to develop your lead until they’re ready to speak with sales. Put the inquiries not yet ready for sales into a lead nurturing campaign. See our post on Lead Nurturing Programs to get an active of 5 different lead nurturing tracks you can drop your leads into.

Forrester Research reported companies that implemented an effective lead nurturing process have a 300% (3x) higher closing rate than their competitors who fail to make a long-term investment with their prospects. – Forrester Research

Concentrate on how buyers buy before you can master how to sell. Buyer’s usually want educational content in smaller, bite-sized chunks, over a period of time.

Persistence – Make a concerted effort to reach your leads

In a similar survey, 15 million sales leads were analyzed. Results showed persistence increased the probability of contacting a lead. The same study revealed a disappointing 50% of leads are never called a second time. When making two calls versus one it increases the chance of contacting a lead by 87%. The report also found six contact attempts resulted in the maximum possible contact rate; however, nearly 60% of sales people made less than sixth contact attempts.

Lead Follow Up Contact AttemptsTiming contact attempts will also increase conversion rates. New inquiries should receive a response within 5 minutes and include a 6-call lead follow up process to produce the maximum conversion rate and minimize workload. Here’s the suggested contact attempt schedule to maximize lead follow up ROI:

• Day 1: call 3 times. The premise is new inquiries should be called immediately and in two subsequent time windows during the first day until contact is made.

• If contact has not been made, call on day 3, 4, and day 11 or 12 to maximize contact and conversion rates.

• Day 3, call once.

• Day 4, call again.

• Day 11 or 12, make 2 more call attempts.

Lead Follow Up Frequency

Realizing the effort to track and schedule lead follow up, businesses can use marketing automation software to automate scheduling of tasks. For example, revenue generation software from Lead Liaison can schedule call follow up tasks and reminders at once. At Lead Liaison we use 6 sales pipeline stages to map the flow of a person through the revenue cycle. Once a lead becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) by achieving a particular lead score the lead is handed off to sales. Our system automatically assigns a lead to the sales lead owner and schedules the reminder process in a CRM, such as Salesforce.com.

Keeping the 3 rules of lead follow up in mind and leveraging revenue generation software to help deliver lead nurturing and schedule sales lead follow up will help businesses become more efficient in lead management and generate more revenue from marketing dollars. Contact Lead Liaison to better understand how we can help your business with lead follow up.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What lead follow up tactics have helped you?

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Sales Pipeline Stages

Sales Pipeline StagesMarketers spend a lot of time on inbound marketing activities to drive traffic to their site; investing in SEO, thought leadership, trade shows, blogs, social media, and advertising are a few examples of inbound marketing. As awareness builds and new contacts enter the sales funnel it is important businesses define the right sales pipeline stages to manage, nurture, and distribute leads. Sales pipeline stages tend to vary across companies; however, we’ve established 6 sales pipeline stages appropriate for most businesses. Here at Lead Liaison, we use these exact stages to manage our business. Let’s explore how we’ve defined the 6 stages in the sales pipeline.

The 6 sales pipeline stages are

1. Just a Name

2. Engaged

3. Prospect

4. Marketing Qualified Lead

5. Sales Qualified Lead

6. Opportunity

Diagram of Sales Pipeline StagesPrior to adding a lead to your sales pipeline we suggest tracking the lead source. Marketing automation technology can help you identify whether the lead source is from a paid search, SEO, trade show, facebook, general website visit or other source. Lead tracking will help you report on marketing ROI down the road. Let’s briefly explain each of the sales pipeline stages.

Just a Name

As the name implies, these records are just a name. If you have the person’s name or email and no other insight they are simply a record, or a person, in your database. Often times marketing and sales have conflicting definitions of a lead. Separating these people from your marketing defined leads and sales defined leads helps avoid confusion over what is a lead and what is not a lead.

Engaged

When a person finally responds to an inbound marketing program they are moved to the sales pipeline stage, Engaged. For example, the person could click a link in an email campaign or fill out a web form to become engaged. Please note that just because someone is in the engaged status does not mean they are a lead as there’s a good chance they’re not yet ready to speak with sales. We suggest using marketing automation technology to automatically respond to the person with a personalized message a few hours after they respond.

Prospect

If the person meets the ideal profile of a buyer they become a prospect. Ideal profiles could be determined by demographics (location, job title) or firmographics (industry, company size, revenue). Again, we suggest using a marketing automation system to help qualify if someone should become a prospect. Lead scoring, a feature of most marketing automation systems, provides a mechanism to automatically qualify leads using an incremental scoring system. For example, add 10 points if their companies revenue is more than $50M and/or add 20 points if they are a Vice President. Conversely, scores can be decremented. For example, subtract 50 points if the person is a student.

Once the person becomes a prospect start lead nurturing. Lead nurturing is the process of creating meaningful dialogue with the prospect at each stage of the buying process. See the post under lead nurturing programs for 5 examples of this dialogue. The beauty of lead nurturing is that different lead nurturing “tracks” can kick in according to the prospects online activity and/or interaction with other marketing assets.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

We suggest using the score generated from your lead scoring programs to determine if a prospect makes it to the sales pipeline stage as a marketing qualified lead. Sales pipeline stages leading up to this point do not require human interaction; interaction has been personalized using lead nurturing technology. In our lead management model, we use a scoring threshold of 65 or higher. When the prospects lead score crosses that threshold we change the lead status to a marketing qualified lead.

At this stage in the sales pipeline, marketing will pass the lead over to sales. In some businesses marketing may have a sales development team or inside sales team manually qualify the lead further via a phone call or some other type of screening. At Lead Liaison, we do not change the status of the lead until sales accepts the lead and determines it’s qualified. A lead may also be put into the “Disqualified” status if there’s no match whatsoever.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Once sales accepts a lead and deems it qualified the lead becomes a sales qualified lead. Leads at this stage typically require high-touch, personalized interaction. Sales will call the lead to further qualify them. At this point, sales can move the lead to one of three statuses: Deferred, Recycled, or Opportunity. If the lead is not quite ready to buy sales should recycle the lead. Recycling puts the lead back into a lead nurturing program managed by marketing until the lead is sales-ready. Alternatively, sales can move the lead to a Deferred status if no additional lead nurturing is warranted and there doesn’t appear to be an opportunity. If marketing, and the marketing automation system, has done its job the lead should be moved to the Opportunity status. When the lead becomes an opportunity it will have its own opportunity sales cycle.

This is the most important stage of all sales pipeline stages since quick response to hot leads must occur. We strongly recommend using an alert system to make sure marketing and the rest of the organization holds sales accountable for follow up. A marketing automation system will help you setup a closed-loop accountability process similar to the one below:

1. Send an alert via email to the responsible sales person.

2. If within 24 hours the lead status has not been changed send an alert reminder to the sales person.

3. If another 24 hours pass, send another alert reminder to sales and copy the sales person’s manager.

4. If another 24 hours pass, send the same alert to sales and the sales persons manager but this time copy a C-level executive.

This closed-loop process ensures no lead falls through the cracks while holding sales accountable for follow up and providing marketing peace of mind as the person seamlessly transitions from marketing responsibility to sales responsibility.

Opportunity

The Opportunity status is important for marketing to measure cost per conversion, cost per lead, and effectiveness of various lead sources. Today’s marketer is being measured on results, not activity (email opens, web visits). ROI analysis on a person’s path through the sales pipeline stages from Just a Name through to Opportunity then Customer is vital to keep a pulse on revenue generation.

Graveyard and Contact

At any of the sales pipeline stages a person can be moved to the Graveyard or Contact status. Graveyard status is a person record with a bad email or incorrect contact information. Usually, this occurs if the person has changed jobs. Contact status is when a person is converted out of the sales pipeline stages into a contact management database and is not a lead. This typically occurs when the person is a partner, reseller, or just a contact in your system that you never plan to sell to.

Contact Lead Liaison to see how our revenue generation software can help you setup your lead management process to distribute, qualify, and nurture leads through your sales pipeline stages.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What sales pipeline stages to you employ? How do you manage your stages?

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Lead Nurturing Programs

Lead Nurturing ProgramsDesigning lead nurturing programs can be difficult especially if you don’t know where to start. We put together five sample programs to get you going. The programs range from simple one month programs to complex 12 month programs. Feel free to take these lead nurturing programs and customize them to fit your business. Remember, getting started is the most important part. Over time tune the “knobs and dials” on your nurturing programs to align them with your business.

First, let’s start with a simple definition of lead nurturing. Lead Nurturing is the process of engaging prospects through meaningful dialogue at each stage of the buying process. A lead nurturing program is a collection of independent nurturing events. Many B2B companies build lead nurturing programs to position their company as the best choice to help meet prospects objectives. Lead nurturing is also referred to as a drip campaign; however, drip campaigns are not “intelligent” and cannot react to buyer’s online behavior and interaction with marketing assets.

Enjoy the 5 lead nurturing programs below

1 month lead nurturing program with aggressive actionable offers:

Day 1: Email white paper download link. Recipient clicks link in email, gets redirected to a landing page then fills out a web form. Additional profile information is captured.

Day 3:: Voice mail and email from lead owner thanking lead for the download (if the download occurred) with an invitation to a webinar on relevant topic.

Day 7: Follow up email asking if the lead would be interested in learning more about the topic they are pursuing. If lead responds then schedule a demo with sales. If lead does not respond continue with the lead nurturing program.

Day 15: Email customer success story from related industry

Day 21: Email a brief note to touch base and make an offer. For example, suggest providing valuable information such as a white paper, awareness kit, case study, blog post, ROI, personal demonstration, video testimonial or a book from an industry analyst

Day 30: Send a personalized email with an invitation to evaluation your solution, start a free trial. If you are a consulting-based business offer a free consultation.

3 month lead nurturing programs optimized for different roles:

This program was designed to meet three different persona’s. However, each program is structured the same, with a single lead nurturing event over three months, one per month. Notice each lead nurturing program begins with educational content.

Marketing persona:

Month 1: Voice mail and white paper

Month 2: Follow up call and email link to analyst whitepaper

Month 3: Follow up call and email invitation to webinar

Sales persona

Month 1: Voice mail and email relevant 3rd party article

Month 2: Follow up call and email 3rd party article

Month 3: Follow up call and email link to relevant podcast

C-level persona

Month 1: Direct mail an executive report and follow up with phone call

Month 2: Follow up call and email invitation to executive roundtable

Month 3: Follow up call and ROI analysis tool

3 month lead nurturing program with aggressive initial phases and bi-weekly dialogue

Day 1: Follow-up email or phone call

Day 10: Email offering an article of interest from a third-party relating to previous communications

Day 15: Personal email from sales rep

Day 30: Email promoting a relevant webinar series

Day 45: Call from sales rep to “check-in”

Day 60: Email providing a similar case study or a best practices white paper

Day 75: Personal email from sales rep offering a product demo

Day 85: Call from sales rep to schedule a face-to-face meeting

Day 90: Submit a sales proposal via email

6 month lead nurturing program with dialogue every three weeks

Day 1: Initial phone call and follow-up email

Day 28: Invitation to webinar with follow up phone call

Day 42: Email customer success story in related industry vertical

Day 60: Personal invitation from lead owner to forthcoming webinar

Day 80: Email interactive ROI calculator or similar “tool” as prospect nears buying stage

Day 100: Email article of interest from social media site

Day 120: Send personalized email from lead owner to touch base

Day 140: Email free copy of analyst report

Day 160: Invite prospect to a personal demonstration of your solution

12 month lead nurturing program with monthly dialogue

Month 1: Email 3rd party article on relevant technology

Month 2: Follow up phone call and email industry related case study

Month 3: Leave voice mail to check in

Month 4: Email link to industry related video done by a 3rd party

Month 5: Email relevant and educational-focused white paper

Month 6: Direct mail collateral

Month 7: Follow up phone call and email relevant eBook

Month 8: Follow up phone call and email link to relevant podcast

Month 9: Follow up phone call and email quote from industry-leading analyst

Month 10: Follow up phone call and email invitation to webinar

Month 11: Leave voice mail with invitation to industry trade show and email registration link

Month 12: Email one page white paper on evaluation criteria for solutions in your industry

Lead Liaison’s lead nurturing software can save you time and help boost your sales conversion rates by sending customized emails to leads based on their characteristics, activity, interest and interaction with your marketing assets.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What types of lead nurturing programs have you used?

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Sales Tips – Part 2

Sales TipsWhether we admit it or not, everyone can learn something new especially when it comes to sales. We sat down with our team to draw from 100+ people years of sales experience. Through the years we’ve all collected some useful tips, tricks and best practices from sales experts. We culminated these ideas into a list of sales tips for business to business (B2B) sales. This is the second installment of our Sales Tips series. To view the first installment (Sales Tips #1 – #5), click here.

Sales Tip #6 – Determine the outcome before the start

Before you start a meeting take a few minutes to write down on a piece of paper what your goal is for the meeting. In other words, what do you want the customer/prospect to do at the end of the meeting. Buy something, evaluation something, take a certain action? If you define your goal up front you’ll see how it changes your way of thinking. It will keep you focused on what matters and prevent the meeting from getting derailed. I realize you might think this “molds” a meeting too much but give it a try.

Sales Tip #7 – Use testimonials

“The proof is in the pudding” goes a long way with prospects/customers. Start your meetings with real use cases or testimonials from your customers. Enlist help from your marketing department to record a video from one of your customers. Have your customer talk about their problem and why your company provided the solution. Assuming the video is <=3 minutes or so, embed the video into your presentation and use it during your meeting. Alternatively, take snippets of a quote or take an entire quote and paste that into your presentation. The point being, testimonials are great and your prospects/customers will benefit from hearing an “unbiased” opinion.

Sales Tip #8 – Always be closin’ (ABC)

Borrowing this quote from Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) is more than appropriate for Sales Tip #8. Many sales reps aren’t focused on closing a deal. They concentrate on making a customer satisfied and nurturing them. That’s not a bad thing at all, but if that’s all you do you’ll find yourself updating your LinkedIn profile very quickly. Always closing is also a spirit, a frame of mind, to make sure you’re focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. Without a proper lead nurturing and lead scoring solution it’s easy to understand how sales reps can lose focus though. Work with marketing to implement revenue generation / marketing automation technology so sales can stay focused on closing opportunities that are ripe for sales. After all, the title is “sales”, right? Then get out there and sell!

Sales Tip #9 – Allocate time to lead generation

An old high school tennis coach said to me one day, “input equals output”. He was suggesting the more I practiced (input) the better I would get (output). The same concept apply to sales. If you’re not filling the funnel with new opportunities you’re not closing many sales. Although it’s not a preferred task for most sales people, cold calling still has its place. See our article on 101 Business to Business Lead Generation Ideas and Tips to stimulate ideas for lead generation programs.

Proceed with caution though. New opportunities don’t always have to enter into your funnel from the top, they may already be there. Get your marketing department to use lead nurturing technology to implement automatic drip campaigns on “inactive” contacts in your database with the intent to bring them back to life and cultivate interest.

Sales Tip #10 – Use social networks for “warm calling”

Social networks are a fabric of the internet in this day and age. Twitter, LinkedIn, facebook and more contain vital information to support your sales prospecting efforts. Take LinkedIn for example. By searching for a specific role at a certain company you’ll be able to find the names of individuals you’re looking to target. Moreover, you’ll see their profile, interests, and current/past job positions to help prepare for your call. Your prospect/customer will appreciate you’ve done your homework and your discussions will become more personal. Certain revenue generation software solutions integrate social profiling.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What are your sales tips?

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Risk of Not Using Revenue Generation Software

Risk of Not Using Revenue Generation SoftwareExperts estimate that only 2-5% of all companies use marketing automation, a component of revenue generation software. Businesses not using revenue generation software are at risk relative to their competitors who use these platforms. In this article we’ll look at the disadvantages of not using marketing automation and revenue generation software.

Revenue generation software can provide a considerable advantage for a business. With this software, B2B marketers have the ability to interact with leads in ways their competitors cannot. For example, competitors not using revenue generation software might dismiss a lead while the marketing automation adopter would place the lead into a lead nurturing program and close a deal later in time when they lead matures. Adopters can also take advantage of the opportunity to become experts on revenue generation software to stay one step ahead of their competitors. The longer companies wait to adopt these types of tools, the longer it will be until they establish expertise. This is even more relevant as revenue generation software adds more features and capabilities. It will be hard to learn all at once vs. learning iteratively.

In addition to gaining competitive advantage, there are many disadvantages of not using revenue generation software.

What are the risks of not using revenue generation software?

1) Website traffic will continue to be monitored at a macro level (a la what Google Analytics provides) instead of at the visitor level. Read our article entitled “track your website” to understand how lead tracking results differ from macro analytics packages.

2) Leads will continue to be passed from marketing to sales without proper qualification. Sadly, 80% of all marketers continue to send unqualified leads to sales. Read our article on sales and marketing alignment for more background.

3) The salesperson may have to manually check in with a large number of prospects on a regular basis. This is a continual problem and will only get worse as a company’s database and business grows.

4) Pulling reports may be tedious and sourced from incomplete or inaccurate data.

5) Sales and marketing people become inefficient as resources spend too much time on tasks that could be automated such as lead follow up, lead distribution, lead nurturing, email marketing, and sales prospecting.

6) Execution is slowed as the creation of new marketing resources like landing pages and web forms may be slowed down by the need for IT or web developer assistance.

Small, medium, and large sized businesses will greatly benefit from revenue generation software. Lead Liaison’s technology can help your business reduce the risk of not using revenue generation software. We can help your business save time and money while increasing revenues and leaving your competitors in the rear view mirror. Take the next step and see more benefits of revenue generation for marketers and more benefits of revenue generation for sales and contact Lead Liaison today.

What do you feel are the risks of not using revenue generation software?

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How to Make Marketing Automation Successful

How to Make Marketing Automation SuccessfulMarketing automation has been around for over a decade. However, it’s only recently that awareness and adoption of marketing automation has increased exponentially. In this article we’ll discuss one of the major issues facing marketers when adopting a marketing automation system. By reading this article you’ll get a better understanding of how to make marketing automation successful.

Although adoption is skyrocketing, analyst data suggests marketers still face some of the problems which marketing automation solves.

Analysts take on challenges facing marketers:

In 2010 Marketing Sherpa conducted a survey that showed 78% of marketers list generating a high quality lead as their top challenge

In 2010 Frost & Sullivan reported 44% of those who own marketing automation said that insufficient processes was an obstacle to success

Furthermore, Jonathan Block of Serius Decisions provided research in December 2010 that compared companies using marketing automation with a process in place vs. those that did not have a process in place. The results are astonishing. Companies that had a process in place yielded the following benefits:

  • A 366% increase in sales accepted leads
  • A 416% increase in closed deals
  • $570,000 in more revenue

Our take away from this data is that marketing automation cannot stand alone without a proper process supporting it. You can buy the nicest sewing machine on the market but you’ll never make the best clothes unless you learn how to use the sewing machine and have a design, implementation and execution plan in place. The sewing machine will not sew the clothes for you without proper training and management. Similarly, marketing automation will not automate marketing for you. Don’t fire your marketing staff quite yet.

Three steps to marketing automation success

What process should companies follow? It’s really quite simple actually and can be accomplished in three steps.

First, companies must understand what processes they currently have and, more importantly, do not have. Conduct an audit on your organization to better understand your lead management process. Document your findings. Focus on how leads enter and exit the sales funnel.

Second, define your new and improved process in a document. We suggest creating a Service Level Agreement, or SLA, to accomplish this. The SLA is a single document that governs the lead management process established for your business.

Depending on the scope of your business and needs, the SLA might include ideal customer profiles, definitions of a lead, lead scoring models, how to respond to a lead, how to distribute a lead, lead nurturing programs, metrics to measure, and sales and marketing responsibilities. Your SLA should serve as a working foundation for your sales and marketing process and be approved/supported by your executive team.

Finally, adopt a Revenue Generation Framework that delivers solutions to satisfy your process. Lead Liaison’s provides Revenue Generation Software that accomplishes just that. The Software includes the following solutions:

  • Sales Prospecting
  • Database Segmentation
  • Lead Tracking
  • Lead Qualification
  • Lead Distribution
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Metrics

By leveraging a revenue generation system such as Lead Liaison to provide the proper framework and adhering to the policies defined in your SLA you’ll make marketing automation successful.

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How Lead Nurturing Helps Sales

How Lead Nurturing Helps SalesThe majority of articles on lead nurturing are written from a marketing perspective. The benefits of lead nurturing for sales are rarely highlighted. Let’s take a moment to discuss how lead nurturing helps sales.

Three key benefits of lead nurturing for sales:

1. Aligns the timing of a buyer and sales
2. Builds trusting relationships between sales and the buyer
3. Increases sales productivity

Most top performing sales people would agree success comes from being in the right place at the right time and through relationships with prospects and customers. Additionally, few would argue that success comes from being productive and focused on important deals. Lead nurturing technology is a natural fit with how sales people are successful and complements the selling process.

Here’s what analysts say on how lead nurturing helps sales:

What analysts say:

  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing are able to generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead – Forrester Research, Inc.
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing have 9% more sales reps make quota, and enjoy a 10% shorter ramp up time for new reps – CSO Insights
  • Six months after inquiring, 23% of the surveyed subjects had bought the product or service, from the promoter or from a competitor. An additional 67% indicated that they still intended to buy but they were not ready – Sales lead expert, Mac McIntosh.
  • Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads – DemandGen Report.

Let’s look at a specific use case on how lead nurturing helps sales. Without lead nurturing sales people must manually keep track of follow up. When they follow up they’re leaving multiple voice mails and emails in an effort to “touch base”. Sales people really want to know if the prospect is ready to buy. Sales people get burnt out and frustrated and often alienate potential opportunity by subjectively cherry picking only the best leads.

With lead nurturing prospects are automatically sent relevant and personalized content on behalf of a sales person. With the help of lead scoring and website visitor tracking technologies sales will know when a prospect “raises their hand” and is ready to speak to a sales person. Lead nurturing technology helps sales by framing discussions in the buyer’s mind and separates you as a trusted advisor vs. another annoying vendor dialing for dollars. Your buyer’s will feel a sense of gratitude for staying in touch and helping them make a more informed decision.

Additional resources:

  • Lead nurturing campaigns compared with traditional email marketing campaigns
  • Getting started with lead nurturing

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Marketing Content

Marketing ContentMarketers are tasked to continually create useful marketing content to disseminate to prospects, customers and partners. The advent of lead nurturing and marketing automation has further fueled the need to have a library of marketing content on hand. Additionally, marketing campaigns typically leverage marketing content for a call to action. However, creating effective content is hard work and takes time. Marketers can focus on two rules of marketing content creation and follow a few tips to simplify the process.

First, think like the buyer, not the seller. Marketers must empathize with their buyers and put themselves in the buyer’s shoes. If you were a buyer what marketing content would you be interested in? Second, map out the phases your buyers go through before purchasing a solution. The B2B buying process varies with each company.

After thinking like your buyer and mapping out your buyer’s stages begin creating content relevant to each phase. For example, most buyers go through an “awareness” phase. Create marketing content commensurate with this phase such as analyst reports, glossaries, industry articles or checklists. Focus content on education and problem solving. Make the messaging all about them, not you. Create fresh content that helps your buyer meet their goals such as ROI calculators and measurement or optimization tools. Useful content can have 5X return over “self indulging content”. Don’t try to close the sale with a prospect right away, that will come after you build the buyer’s trust and garner a relationship.

Here are some more tips for creating marketing content:

Marketing Content Tips

1. Start by conducting a marketing content audit to assess your resource library.
2. Eliminate rarely used marketing content.
3. Separate content that’s all about your product or service (data sheets, eBooks, website copy) from marketing content that helps the buyer.
4. Keep your content short. It’s not necessary to write multiple page documents or 5 paragraph articles. People are busy and like to consume useful marketing content in bits, not bites.
5. Consider a compilation of check lists, glossaries, analyst reports, executive briefs, and industry overviews.
6. Think about how you can repurpose your marketing content. For example, take screen shots of videos and make a transcript of the audio for a blog post or document. Produce various iterations of a “How to Buy Product ABC” based on your customers industry or persona.
7. Stay committed to content marketing. Creating relevant content is not a one-time event and should be viewed as a long term commitment.

Check out the Content Rules book for additional content marketing tips. They discuss how to create killer blogs, videos, eBooks, and webinars.

Also, our article on 101 Business to Business Lead Generation Ideas and Tips might also stimulate ideas for good marketing content.

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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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