Inbound Marketing is a transformational approach to attract prospects with valuable content at each stage of the buyer process.

Marketing Automation: Selecting the Right Solution

So, you’ve realized that you need Marketing Automation! What now?

With a variety of different solutions available – from enterprise to start up – how do you know which solution is right for your organization? Marketing Automation evaluations typically involve both a diverse stakeholder team and a myriad of potential solutions.

  • Diverse choice – many marketing automation suppliers, sales force automation solutions, eMail marketing solutions, etc.
  • Committee buying – the need to facilitate a group of stakeholders in the decision (often including the board of directors)
  • Stakeholder viewpoints –managing a variety of needs (tactical vs. strategic) to align sales, marketing and technology teams
  • Political persuasions – more often than not, key team members bring pet projects and pre-established preferences
  • Organizational culture –implementing a marketing automation solution involves business alignment across the organization – the culture must be supportive and aligned to adopt the new strategy.

We recently published this eBook to serve as a guide to provide you with the information you will need to assess marketing automation vendors and choose which solution is right for you.  Our view? The process should be objective and facilitative to align the organization around a clear choice. Need help? We can help you facilitate the process with our Objective Solution Selection (OS2) methodology:

  1. Document Requirements
  2. Determine the short list
  3. Conduct the evaluation
  4. Rank the vendors
  5. Perform due diligence

Offer MQLs to Sales as "Decision Support"

Often sales people do not actively follow up on marketing generated leads. This may be a result of poor sales behaviors, but it is more likely that sales teams are not confident in the quality of the sales leads they are getting. Marketing Automation is a powerful technology, but it is important not to “over automate” the classification of the lead.

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10 Measures to Justify Marketing Automation

We are often asked about the business case for marketing automation. In the end, it is a numbers game. There are plenty of operational advantages of course  – sales and marketing alignment, single solution replacing point solutions, etc. But, in the end, it is about revenue.

So how does marketing automation increase revenue?

Here are 10 (plus 1 bonus) metrics to consider and some volume impacts you might expect to get from well run marketing automation (and creative campaigns):

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Everything's Going Mobile…End of Story

We were fortunate to escape the confines of the office in order to attend a NEDMA (New England Digital Media Association) Conference at the Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center.  From the moment we walked up to the second floor, we were immediately submerged in innovative ideas and new data that will help shape future marketing campaigns.

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Considerations in Newsletter Publishing

It is not new news that a newsletter can help to strengthen your relationships with clients and to draw in potential new clients.  Small and medium sized business owners that we work with are publishing issues on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. The format, time frame, and content will depend on budget and  priorities, but we recommend a level that you can maintain easily with your capacity and resources. While more publishing and corresponding social media engagement can increase the level of activity on your website, it is pointless to over-commit and detract from your brand identity.

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Marketo & Eloqua: Some Lead Nurture Metrics

Here are some metrics that Marketo and Eloqua suggest as what you might expect from successful lead nurture programs. Given the complexity of effectively implementing a personalized lead nurture program, it is interesting to see where the impacts might be and what benefits you might expect.

 

 

 

Marketo pointed to these metrics in a recent webinar invitation:

  • Fewer marketing-generated leads ignored by sales (from 80% to as low as 25%)
  • 150% increase in contact-to-lead conversion rate
  • 2-3x lift in conversion rates on raw leads to qualified opportunities
  • 20% more sales opportunities
  • 225% increase in volume of prospects that convert to sales opportunities
  • 7% points higher win rates on marketing-generated leads
  • 6% points lower rate of “no decisions”
  • 2x increase in bid-win ration
  • 47% higher average order values

 

 

Eloqua points to the following metrics and a case study in one of their white paper guides:

  • Improved conversion rates at every stage of the demand waterfall, most significantly at the top of the funnel
  • Nearly eliminated “unrated” leads in its database as a result of the discovery nurture
  • Increased suspect-to-MQL conversion rate from 8% to 11% on net new leads entering the system
  • Saw an additional 30% of “suspects” (or new visitors) convert to MQLs over time due to its seed nurture
  • Drove a 64% increase in SQL productivity from corporate sales development through cultivate nurtures
  • Increased by 118% the number of opportunities entering the pipeline

Component-based Marketing Automation

An effectively designed website is only one element of an effective web marketing ecosystem. To achieve effective  web presence and drive qualified leads, we developed an easy to remember mnemonic “AEIOU” (attract, engage, influence, optimize, understand).

AEIOU helps to consider the strategies that make up a digital marketing strategy. But to really power the  strategies, companies need marketing automation tools. Platforms like Hubspot (www.hubspot.com), Act-on (www.act-on.com) and Marketo (www.marketo.com) and many others  are very powerful ways to manage multi-stage buyer processes and map content and engagement at each stage of the process – nurturing relationships from awareness to customer.

When budgets are a little smaller or the sales cycle is a little less complex, we often recommend using a component-based approach as a marketing solution. Some of our preferred solution components and web services include:

  • WordPress content management system- we often recommend WordPress due to its ability to integrate nicely with other preferred web marketing systems and the ease of use our clients enjoy (www.wordpress.com)
  • Unbounce landing page setup – easy to create and test marketing landing pages to drive qualified leads (www.unbounce.com)
  • MailChimp – email marketing system – we set up custom email templates for this easy to use email marketing tool and measure the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns (www.mailchimp.com)
  • Revenizer – a marketing dashboard we created (sister company) specifically to help measure the effectiveness of web and social presence and increase revenue from web marketing campaigns (www.revenizer.com)
  • CRM –  Salesforce is the leading CRM and is often a great choice, however it is worth looking at many of the more “social CRM” solutions like Batchbook.

In selecting these solutions, we recommend that you find sets of solutions that work well together with strong APIs and integrations. If your needs are not too complex a component based approach can be a very affordable and effective way to deliver marketing automation.

 

Lead Nurturing: An Overview

An Overview of Lead Nurturing: For Every Business

Up to 95% of qualified prospects visiting your company’s website are there to research but are not yet ready to make a purchasing decision; ultimately, as many as 70% of these prospects will buy from you or your competitors. How do you gradually mold these prospective leads into buyers?

This is where lead nurturing comes in. A lead nurture program involves adapting calculated marketing strategies to share useful, relevant information with prospects regardless of how ready they may or may not be to buy. The goal is to establish your brand and build a relationship based on trust and credibility, which will ideally position you to be their first choice once they are ready to make a purchasing decision.

First, identify a set of new prospects by monitoring certain activity on your website, such as who has downloaded a white paper or filled out a form, and determine which leads are ready to be sent to sales and which need to be nurtured. This can be achieved through a lead scoring methodology, which should take into account demographic attributes; budget, authority, need, timeline (BANT); lead source; and level of engagement with your materials.

For those prospects that you have determined to be nurturing candidates, establish permission to be included in your nurturing campaign by asking prospects to opt in or out. This is the first step in building a relationship that is based on trust and relevancy. At the very least you need to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act by providing a clear way to opt out, but you might want to go the extra mile and ask for explicit permission on registration forms. Not only does this earn you the prospect’s trust by proving your concern for privacy, but it also increases your deliverability and sender reputation scores.

Throughout the nurturing process, gradually send pertinent information over time. Timing is critical; consider the duration of the buying process and the communication approaches you will use to determine the best frequency of communication. A general rule is to contact prospects at least one a month but no more than once a week.

Personalize the content of your communications to ensure that it will be relevant to your prospect, which will keep them interested in staying on your list. Develop profiles of your prospects that include characteristics that will help you best tailor your communications to their needs, rather than simply providing less valuable generic content.

Do not let leads sit at any point in the process. You should always be communicating with prospects and continuing to move them along a cycle, even if they are not ready to buy. Pay attention to a prospect’s activity and engagement with your website and adjust your communication according to these cues. Accelerate communication with prospects identified to have a higher interest, and reduce communication with prospects that are slower to respond.

By building a positive impression of your company and keeping the prospect engaged and interested throughout the lead nurturing process, they will be more likely to select your company once they decide it’s time to buy.

AEIOU Tips – Mnemonic for Marketing Best Practices

As part of a recent presentation on social media and digital marketing, I developed a Mnemonic AEIOU to help the audience remember some of the key elements of an integrated revenue architecture and associated marketing best practices. After all, most English speakers remember our vowels (A.E.I.O.U. and sometimes Y)!

This short slideshow introduces the model and offers a few AEIOU tips and practices for each element:

  • Attract
  • Engage
  • Influence
  • Optimize
  • Understand

Value of ebooks and infographics: An Overview

Developing ebooks and infographics can help your business be recognized as a thought leader in your industry. By creating a larger compilation or visual representation of the knowledge you want to share with your target market, you can create appealing material for downloads and viral sharing.

  • Infographics: Taking advantage of readers’ love of visuals, infographics can help provide traffic and links to your site if they address an interesting subject. When done well, they can also pump up the aesthetic of your site and provide a visual representation of your knowledge.
  • Ebooks: An ebook allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field. Ebooks can be guides, comprehensive resources, and can be tailored to suit the needs of the audience.

What are the benefits to you?

  • Establish your expertise and thought leadership
  • Highlight your own business standards and set them as necessary. A persuasive ebook or infographic can convince readers that your standards are the standard, leading them to expect your level of service at other companies. If they don’t find it there, they’ll be back for you.
  • Clarify your own thinking as you try to put into words or images what you believe. This will make it easier to share that doctrine with your staff and clients.
  • Give your clients everything they need to know. Having more content readily available to potential clients helps them know you better. The more they know, the easier it is for them to trust you.
  • Get viral. Infographics and ebooks are easily shared via links and email, making it possible for them to go spread among the right audience if you hit a nerve.

If you have an ebook written and ready to go, take some final steps: add chapter titles, page numbers, and proofread. Then check out tools like scribd.com, which can publish your ebook for free. Place the book on your website, link to it in online forums, include it in your email signature, and be sure to send it to all your friends and colleagues. Requiring visitors to fill out forms before downloading them is a great way to capture leads – just make sure the content is of a high enough quality to justify the registration!