Last week, more than 250 marketers spent two days discussing the B2B marketing world’s top challenges and opportunities at MarketingSherpa’s 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit.
This year’s case study presentations, panel discussions, and training sessions were selected to address the five key elements of a successful lead generation program:
o Increasing campaign response rates to drive more inquires
o Optimizing lead qualification to focus on "high quality" leads for sales engagement
o Developing a service-level agreement between marketing and sales to increase lead acceptance
o Intensifying leads in the marketing funnel with lead nurturing
o Accelerating leads currently in sales pipeline
To address those five goals, marketers shared their best practices and proven tactics for channels such as email, social media and search. They also detailed processes such as data integration, lead scoring and content development.
Several themes emerged during the course of the event, and what follows are eight key takeaways:Takeaway #1. Re-engage old leads now!
Brian Carroll, CEO, InTouch, shared a stark fact on the first morning of the event: Research has shown that about 80% of leads marketers generate end up getting lost, ignored or discarded.
Rather than continually struggling to find new leads for the sales team, marketers must develop a lead re-engagement process that requires the sales team to return dead or unwanted leads to the marketing team.
- Carroll shared his lead re-engagement playbook, and described how a nurturing process that used relevant industry articles emailed to old leads and timely telephone follow-up generated a 375% increase in sales-ready leads when compared to the conversion rate of new leads. Those old leads eventually added $4.9 million in sales pipeline value.
The key is looking back to your past marketing activities to find the gold that’s been lost in the sales pipeline.
"If you want to make a difference in the fourth quarter this year, go back to what you did in the first quarter of this year or the fourth quarter of last year, and there’s a lot of opportunity there," said Carroll.
- Dave Wieneke, Director, Digital Marketing, Sokolove Law, shared his take on lead re-engagement by describing a simple campaign to re-engage previously qualified buyers who had stopped responding to the company’s email campaigns.
By offering a simple news announcement and prize for re-registering for email, his team achieved a 44% opt-in rate from non-responders who opened the re-engagement email. Then, they could resume communication with those contacts through new marketing offers, such as special sales discounts.
"Your great opportunity for growth is in people who are not spending, and they’re being left aside," said Wieneke. Takeaway #2. You need a map to know where you are
Several presenters described the importance of auditing, recording and analyzing key aspects of your lead generation process. The resulting "maps" help you visualize your strengths, your assets, or key inflection points in the marketing funnel -- and, they can be shared with your entire organization, so everyone understands the details.
- For example, several case studies included the need to create a content map, which details every piece of content you have at your disposal, such as white papers, case studies, video, podcasts, online demos, etc.
The content map can show you what you have, and what gaps you need to fill.
- Next, presenters described how they matched their content assets to other variables in the marketing process, such as:
o Pieces appropriate for social media channels
o Pieces relevant for specific stages of the buying cycle or buying committee
- Other maps shared included a detailed account of all the steps in a typical sales conversion process, so marketing and sales can collectively target the key stages of that process, such as moving a qualified lead to a sales opportunity. Takeaway #3. Your existing content can work harder for you
Although it’s a challenge to feed relevant content to a wide range of channels and audiences, you have an ace up your sleeve: All content can be repackaged, repurposed, and recycled.
- Julie Lamphiear, Marketing Director, Sun Microsystems, and Julie Wisdom, VP/Executive Creative Director, Babcock & Jenkins, shared a case study and valuable tips on re-organizing and re-packaging existing content according to themes and interest areas.
As part of the process, they recommended breaking existing content into smaller pieces for use in various ways: A whitepaper can become the subject of a video Q&A with a company expert on the subject matter. Or, a whitepaper offering 10 tips on a topic can be broken into 10 smaller articles or blog posts focused on a single tip or lesson.
"Content marketing is becoming the ONLY marketing," noted Julie Wisdom.Takeaway #4. Focus on opportunity cost when making budget decisions
Aaron Dun, SVP, Ness Technologies, articulated an excellent approach to managing your marketing budget using the theory of opportunity cost. This concept considers not just the money you are spending on marketing activities, but also the value of what you are NOT doing as a result.
"This is a very real problem, particularly when you have a limited amount of money to spend," said Dun.
Dun recommended that marketers make campaign spending decisions by looking for multiple positive results. For example:
- Rather than doing a podcast on your own, partner with a third-party, such as an industry media company, that can broaden your reach and provide additional names for the list.
- Strike smarter package deals: Rather than signing up for a five webinar deal, do one webinar with an agreement to create four more if the results are good.
- Make sure everything you create can be re-used: A whitepaper becomes the basis of a podcast. That podcast recording becomes the collateral for a new email program, etc.
Other examples of opportunity cost decision-making:
- Brian Carroll suggested that telemarketing calls for re-engagement provide a good ROI on purchases over $25,000. For smaller-ticket items, email is a more cost-effective channel.
- Kim Albee, CEO, Genoo, thought about blogging, but realized the time spent creating those posts might be better used in other areas. Her team chose to create a B2B marketing microsite that combined her company’s content with the best relevant contributions from around the Web.
"Blogging is the beast you have to feed several times a week," said Albee. Takeaway #5. Broaden your conversations within organizations
Large buying committees are a fact of life for B2B marketers, but the recession has made it even more important to contact a range of personnel within your target companies. Layoffs are likely invalidating some of the names in your database, and those left with jobs may have new roles.
- Erin Daly, Enterprise Marketing Program Manager, PTC, shared tips on growing your marketing database by building off of existing relationships. For example, segmenting a rental list according to companies in which they had at least one contact generated a 371% improvement in response rate over a send to that entire list.
"That’s a huge lift just by the targeted awareness you’ve already created by talking to that company," said Daly.
- Creating buyer personas was a popular approach to identifying appropriate contacts within an organization.
Michael Rapp, Manager of eMedia, Fujitsu Network Communications, and Troy Monney, VP of Global Marketing Execution, Novell, separately described their approach to creating these customer profiles. But both expressed the importance of avoiding unnecessary complexity in the persona-development process.
Fujitsu limited their personas to five:
o Economic buyer
o Technical buyer
o Technical influencer
o User influencer
Novell limited their personas to three:
o Business decision maker
o IT decision maker
o IT professional (user/influencer)
- Jaren Green, Director, eBusiness, IHS, offered another approach to identifying distinct targets for your marketing: focus on the steps in your marketing/sales process.
Green’s team identified six "gatekeepers" at key transition points in the marketing process, such as search engine indexers, searchers, Web visitors, and self-qualifiers who fill out registration forms. They focus their marketing efforts on moving a prospect through each of those six stages.
- Finally, several presenters shared examples of how social media is helping expand their communication process. Don’t fret if you don’t have a huge network of contacts: you can tap into important industry influencers who expand your reach.
Carrie Reber, VP Worldwide Marketing, Veeam Software, told the crowd how she launched a social media/viral marketing campaign with the help of an employee who already had a large, personal Twitter following.
In the same panel discussion, Jay Simons, VP Marketing, Atlassian, showed how you can make the most of other people’s reach even if they aren’t in-house. His team targeted Twitter users with more than 10,000 followers to re-tweet a company promotion designed to raise money for a non-profit organization.
This "big elephant hunting" expedition helped put their message in front of an estimated 1 million Twitter users. Takeaway #6. Investigate whether you have a relevance gap
Attendees got another wake-up call from exclusive research data shared by two presenters. It turns out that much of what marketers *think* is relevant content isn’t being seen that way by its intended audience.
- Stu Richards, CEO, Bredin Business Information, presented data on how SMBs view email newsletters from their vendors and other businesses. Only 56% of newsletter recipients said the newsletters they receive provide information that is relevant to their industries.
- Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect, shared exclusive data on how members of the buying committee view educational and promotional content. Only 42% of buyers said the combined educational and promotional content they receive from companies was relevant to their needs.
- And relevance is equally important once you get a prospect to engage with your content and click through to a landing page. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MarketingExperiments, outlined four "conversion killers" his team frequently sees on landing pages.
One of the most damaging trends relates to what visitors are thinking: "What can I do here, and why should I do it?"
"Every single time we ask someone to take an action, we have to give them something that outweighs the reasons not to take an action," said McGlaughlin.Takeaway #7. Design systems to help you make sense of all your data
Marketers must wear two hats -- creative and analytical. With so much data at your fingertips, you need a way to make sense of all that information.
- Tom Hayden, Director, Marketing Systems, SAGE Publications, described the process his team undertook to integrate 23 databases into one master list, from which they could design multi-channel, multi-wave campaigns. Using that merged data to provide relevant communications at the right time helped his team achieve a 50% lift in conversions.
- Maureen Thormann, Senior Manager, Web Content Group, National Instruments, shared her team’s approach to analyzing Web visitors’ behavior to understand a prospect’s interest area. Besides tracking pages viewed and time spent on site, they summarized the theme of each visit by examining each page’s "essence" -- essentially a methodology for examining pages based on the keywords that are driving traffic to that page.
- Finally, Emily Salus, Senior Marketing Manager, CollabNet, offered advice on creating a truly powerful lead scoring system. The key was starting with a lead scoring team, made up of marketing operations, sales operations, lead processing/demand generation and sales management.
That team agreed on definitions and desired outcomes, and then undertook a series of tests that helped them measure whether their lead scores were appropriate and whether they achieved the key goal: Increasing the number of sales-ready leads that become opportunities in the sales pipeline. Takeaway #8. SEO and PPC are never-ending processes
Several presentations showed the value of a good PPC or SEO strategy, but reiterated the painful truth that search marketing is never finished. Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. Competing content is always being developed. Keyword prices fluctuate with demand. Your process must similarly evolve to stay ahead of the game.
Here are three tips from our Search-related presentations:
- Jeff Taxdahl, President/Owner, Thread-Logic, came to an important realization when he decided to take his PPC campaigns in-house: no one knows your business as well as you do.
While this doesn’t mean that every marketer should ditch their agency and manage PPC in-house, it’s a good reminder that marketers must be intimately involved with their agency partners. Your knowledge of your products and services is the key ingredient to finding keywords, designing ads and offers, and optimizing landing pages.
- Marc Joseph, President and Founder, Dollar Days, recommended writing keyword-rich articles to improve your search engine results page positioning for particularly competitive keywords. He showed examples where his team’s editorial content achieved top-five results listings for some of the most competitive product areas for his B2B ecommerce company, such as "wholesale souvenirs."
- Kenric Van Wyk, Acoustics By Design, described a successful SEO program that viewed the company’s entire website as a series of landing pages. Through smart keyword dispersal across the site, they achieved an 874% increase in search traffic. But after two years, SEO growth stalled.
The problem: They weren’t creating enough new content. The solution was to add a company blog, which became a regular source of new, indexable content. Now, blog entries account for 53% of the company’s organic web visits.
"Each blog entry had relevant content, but also something that would be found by the robots," said Van Wyk.Useful links related to this article:
MarketingSherpa presents its 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit in Boston from October 5-6:
Acoustics By Design
Babcock & Jenkins
Bredin Business Information
Fujitsu Network Communications