Being partner-focused is an important aspect to unlocking success value, especially when it comes to digital property. That is what motivated the DLT team to redesign the website and organize and update the content experience.
With the website evolving alongside a streamlined marketing process and overall brand strategy, the team was able to increase average website session time by 34%.
In its 26th year of existence, DLT Solutions works with some of the leading technology and software vendors operating in the United States to help deliver their solutions to the public sector. That includes the federal, state and local governments as well as higher education.
“We’re looking to branch out into some new market sectors as well,” said Thomas Mahoney, Director, Marketing Solutions, DLT.
This will continue DLT’s model of taking what its leading-edge partners have to offer and delivering those solutions to the public sector.
“We make that process efficient because we have a full-service sales operation. We sit on the most important contract vehicles — GSA, CIOCS, others — and we help … match the public sector to the right solution … they’re looking for,” he said.
“We were pivoting in our brand strategy. We were trying to do a better job of aligning ourselves to the customers, and you’re looking at all this content that is years and years old, potentially,” Mahoney said.
When first joining DLT in the fall of 2015, he was tasked with restarting the marketing operations function and streamlining. That translates to providing the sales team with fewer, but more highly qualified leads.
“That’s evolved into a hybrid demand generation and marketing operation function. So, looking across our portfolio of partners that we work with, the different sales divisions that are aligned to those portfolios and finding what are the commonalities and efficiencies that we can drive to help push more qualified leads to the sales team,” he said.
In the summer of 2015, he said, the team began evolving the website, which had “looked like the website of a company that was several years behind what are best practices and leading edge in that space.”
“When you’re working with some of the leading-edge technology and software providers and trying to establish their position as being experts in the space, you want your website to match that. You don’t want to create a disconnect for your audience that way,” he said.
With the website evolving alongside a streamlined marketing process and overall brand strategy, it was especially important that the website content experience match the audience.
“[Being partner-focused] is an important thing … if you’re going to unlock success and unlock some value, especially when it comes to your digital property. That was another motivating reason for making the change in the website and also integrating it with more sophisticated tools and processes to make the content experience of our end buyer, end user audience more efficient,” he said.
By organizing around the customer, Mahoney said, the team was able to convert them to the pipeline more efficiently.
“We embarked on a redesign of the website to look and feel much more modern and getting that into a more dynamic presence, but then we also wanted to couple what that website looks like with what it can do for our business,” Mahoney said.
This is where, he added, the team got into customer content personalization. They integrated the website both with the marketing automation platform as well as a content personalization and account-based marketing tool. The latter helps to take the known database and promote content that is personalized to that audience.
Names in the DLT contact database are cookied when visiting the website, and the content experience is matched to their sector.
“That helps us get things over to the right sales team a little bit more efficiently, promoting the right materials and news to them more efficiently. It helps remove some of the dots between the connections of the market and our sales team,” he said.
Even if DLT doesn’t know who the visitor is — “if you’ve never submitted a form and stopped by our booth and dropped the business card into a bucket and been attached to an opportunity in our CRM system,” he said — the team can still leverage their vendor’s IP address library to make intelligent guesses about who the visitor is. Then, they can continue to promote content appropriately based on that.
Once a customer is in the nurture stream, the team can not only match content to his or her sector, but “potentially [match] the right content to the problem you’re trying to solve for. That helps make the experience a little bit more fluid but also helps us do a better job of removing the unqualified leads from the pipeline before we pass them to Sales,” Mahoney said.
Step #1. Evolve the brand with a website and content audit
“[The previous website] displayed the brand in a way that was no longer consistent with what our go-forward brand strategy was,” Mahoney said.
Traditionally, DLT put itself in the background and promoted vendor partners, putting them first as the solution.
“We made a pivot there, where we wanted DLT to be seen as the one that was able to bring these solutions to the market efficiently and effectively and help our end customers find the right solutions for their needs,” he said.
The team also incorporated “sticky footers” into the website based upon the visitor’s profile and campaign membership.
“If we see that they are a match for our Software Program Center (SPC) solution, they’ll be presented with a tile near the bottom of the screen that first appears when they begin scrolling down the page. The tile asks if they want to learn more about SPC or [be] directed to an internal expert to answer questions,” he said.
Alongside redesigning the website to fit within current brand goals and aesthetics, one of the biggest challenges, according to Mahoney, was conducting a content audit.
“What do you do with 25 years of gated assets that have been living on your website and may or may not have been effective at demand generation or lead conversion but are adding weight to your website? At least in terms of content and potential thought leadership. And, what are the impacts around SEO and your website being found?” he said.
With the content audit, the team had to look at each digital and PDF asset, recorded webinar and article, among others, to determine if it was still valuable. From there, they had to decide if it should be open access or put behind a form to help get people into the pipeline.
As the team was going through content, he said, “we would actually go back to the vendors and have conversations like, ‘Could this still be relevant? Is this something that can be used?’”
Once it was determined that a piece of content was evergreen, it would be put back into an appropriate marketing stream. If a piece couldn’t be used, the team made the choice about whether to archive or delete it. Every piece of content was kept track of using a color-coded spreadsheet.
DLT also publishes a few blogs and other thought leadership pieces about two to four times a month to supplement the evergreen marketing content.
Step #2. Cater the website experience to your customer
Within the marketing database, the team has fields customized around the content record that, if the information is available, tells them what market sector a customer is in.
Then on the hero image of DLT.com, they created a different text script based on the audience and potentially a different background image based on that audience.
“If we know either from our own contact acquisition or research or through sales follow-ups … that you are a chief information officer in the Air Force, you’re probably going to see a jet when you come to the website, and you’re going to see a tag line that says, ‘IT procurement made easy for Department of Defense,’ Mahoney said.
Someone in higher education, he added, would see an image of a classroom alongside a tagline that says, “IT procurement made easy for higher education.”
There are also content cards that will slide out based on interactions with the website. For instance, if the website visitor is in the federal sector, he ro she will see suggested content on a slide out card that addresses a common issue or topic. The content is gated, and the prospect would fill out a form to gain access.
“Now, [the prospect] is in our pipeline for our sales division. We have a little bit more information about you,” he said, adding that most importantly, “we’re putting the right content in front of the right eyeballs.”
Step #3. Work with the sales team to nurture incoming leads
The ideal process for a prospect, Mahoney said, is the target persona visiting the DLT website, seeing that the company matches his or her needs or pain points, and then beginning to research available solutions from the products or solutions pages.
If the person is a known contact, he or she will be added to a follow-up campaign delivering content that reflects areas of the website they browsed in the past.
“If [prospects] continue to engage with a specific solution area, they will either be put into a call list for Sales or entered into a nurture program — such as a webinar series on the subject — for further development,” he said.
Ultimately, he said, the team hopes to qualify these prospects with a certain score before sending them to Sales for their review, acceptance and further qualification. As the lead’s progression is monitored through the sales pipeline, “[the marketing department] will take a step back at this point so as not to interfere with the ongoing sales dialog.”
The exceptions include if the sales rep sends leads back to the marketing team for either a short-term nurture program — meaning they were a right fit, but it was bad timing — or a long-term nurture program, meaning they were a right fit, but were lost to a competitor.
Once the prospect converts to a customer, he or she enters into a revenue performance program to encourage either renewals or service expansion through cross-sell or up-sell.
“The reality is there is no final step. It constantly cycles back,” he said.
To evolve this process, and especially the relationship with the sales team, it was important to open the lines of communication. This began with the inclusion of the sales team in annual and quarterly reviews.
“We establish our goals, and we make commitments,” Mahoney said. “We try not to overwhelm the sales team with too many leads at once — instead, we align the leads being passed based on the quality of the lead, the level of engagement, and the capacity of the sales rep.”
1,000 of the best leads, he added, “are of no use to a person with only enough time to call 10. The remaining 990 will grow stale over time, lose engagement, and good deals become bad. This leads to broken trust between Sales and Marketing.”
However, if Marketing can pass on the 10 that are most likely to convert and they know Sales has the time to act upon, they can continue to nurture and develop the additional leads until the Sales team has additional capacity.
Step #4. Evolve your goals to reflect business growth
The team focused on traffic as part of their 2016 goals, Mahoney said.
“We focused on traffic growing year-over-year. That was the metric that we put forward and something that we were trying to drive,” he said.
However, he added, “I think as we were going through the year, we realized, who cares what the traffic is? Who cares if it’s higher or lower than it was last year?”
The important goal to focus on is, “What is that traffic doing for us? Who are the eyeballs that are visiting the website, and are they people that are competitors? Are they potential partners? Are they people that are potentially going to cut us a check at the end of the day?” he said.
A goal the team is putting forward for 2017 is, “as opposed to focusing on the top-level traffic, we’re going to focus more on conversion rates on the website and make that the goal.”
Mahoney said that having less traffic isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as you’re converting people into the pipeline twice as efficiently.
Obviously, he added, “the plan is to have both. Growing the brand is important, with web traffic being a measure of that, but I also want to grow the business, as influenced by conversion rates of that traffic.”
After Mahoney joined the team, they took the wireframes of the website and color coded based on audience or interest level.
“Then, making sure that we use that information so you can get that visual heat map of the website, but then you use that to drive your strategy within your marketing automation platform,” he said.
Specifically, they used this information to inform page tagging, content suggestions and product information.
Aligning these goals with actions gave the team “the opportunity to not just think about who’s your audience, but [also] what’s the purpose of the site, and how can you leverage the technology you have in your stack to help get those into a nice framework for demand generation,” he said.
Communication is one of the greatest tenants of this effort, Mahoney said.
“[Stakeholders] can disagree with you all they want, but the last thing you want is for them to be in a position to say, ‘I disagreed with you, and I never even had the chance to give you my feedback.’ That’s not how good partnerships work, internally or externally,” he said.
From the efforts Mahoney and his team made streamlining the marketing operations process, redesigning the website and auditing a quarter-centuries worth of content, they have seen:
It’s also important to have “milestones. Go [and] no-go decision points of how things are progressing,” he said.
Mahoney said is one of his takeaways was “identifying and having thought about what you want the website to do for you after it goes live.” Overall, though, the achievement is to make “it live, and make it look better and make it reflect our brand. That’s an important goal.”
Would you like to work with the DLT Solutions team? There are currently open positions for a Marketing Database Manager, Marketing Automation Specialist, Web Marketing Specialist and a VP of Marketing.
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