July 11, 2007
Find out what 1,038 B-to-B marketers in software, hardware and technology services industries revealed to MarketingSherpa about what works for lead generation.
Includes 11 new data charts and 2007 data on:
- Lead nurturing using mobile email, podcasts and RSS.
- Optimizing your homepage and lead gen offer form.
- White papers and webinars - do they still work?
- Office politics behind why the buying cycle is lengthening.
This is a recording of a live presentation for MarketingSherpa readers recorded June 26, 2007:
Presented by: Anne Holland, Content Director, MarketingSherpa
Stefan Tornquist, Research Director, MarketingSherpa
Here's how to attend this previously recorded presentation right now (or download it to listen to at your convenience):
#1. Get the PowerPoint slides in PDF format with 11 new charts and an eyetracking heatmap:
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#3. Here is the transcript of the teleseminar:
Anne Holland: Good afternoon. This is Anne Holland over at MarketingSherpa for our annual teleconference on business-to-business marketing. We will be presenting our latest, brand new research on lead generation, nurturing and conversion to stats and tactics specifically for the marketing department. Joining me today is our research director, Stefan Tornquist. Hi, Stefan.
Stefan Tornquist: Hey there, Anne.
Anne Holland: Now, everybody who's listening in, you should have received via e-mail -- actually in the same email that you got this phone-in number from -- a hotlink to your PDF presentation. If you haven't opened that and printed it out or opened it on screen, go ahead and do that now. If, for some reason, you've lost the email, no problem. Call over or email our service department. That's firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call 1-877-895-1717 and they will flip you a copy of the presentation.
Yes, you can share this presentation with your co-workers and print it out. No problem. All that we ask is that you don't cut it into pieces or list part of it. Just go ahead and use it as a whole. Now, Stefan, can you talk to us through, quickly, where we got the data that we're going to be presenting today? I know you did a whole bunch of different studies that combined into one.
Stefan Tornquist: Sure. Our principle source of primary data is our annual survey of business technology marketers. This year, we surveyed over 1,000 of them. We also coupled a number of surveys of end users, whether that's end white paper recipients or business executives who make technology decisions. All told, we surveyed over 4,000 end users. In addition, we did a number of lab tests and partnered pieces of research, and that doesn't mean that someone paid us to conduct a study. It means that we partnered with them because they had some ability to either look at a unique audience or bring a unique way of analyzing the data to the picture.
Beyond that, we also looked for the "best of" data that's out there, places that can fill in the gaps. Some of that has been published in other places, but a lot of it has been made available exclusively to MarketingSherpa. Finally, we used the Case Studies and interviews to provide context around those numbers.
Anne Holland: OK, cool, and, actually, I think that 4,000 number of business-to-business prospects is one of the largest surveys of B-to-B prospects that's been done. I think it's the largest we ever did.
Stefan Tornquist: Well, in truth, that's a number of a different surveys, and I'm sort of bundling them together and not taking the time to describe them each individually, but all told, that's quite a big number.
Anne Holland: All right. So, we talked to you and your peers. We talked to your prospects, and we did a lot of lab tests. Now, what did we learn? If you would join me to move forward to page four of the presentation. First of all -- and this is interesting, this is a change from last year. We asked you and your peers in the marketing world what your biggest challenge was when you are marketing IT services, software and hardware to the business community.
We said, "What's the hardest thing right now in your job?" and what's interesting was last year most people were talking a lot about the lengthening sales cycle because, let's face it, sales cycles have been getting longer for a lot of folks for a while now -- well over a year, in terms of length, depending on the product. But, instead, this year, we heard something different. Stefan, can you talk us through?
Stefan Tornquist: Sure. Their primary concern this year really had to do with the growing number of people involved in that ever lengthening buying process, and the way I interpreted that was to mean that it's demanding to fill the content needs for all of these disparate buyers. You've got tech folks with very specific questions, business folks who want to know how the technology is going to work in their daily lives and, of course, the financial and decision-making folks who want to know how much it's going to cost, what are the customer service implications, etc.
Anne Holland: And, of course, if you have a growing number of people on the prospect side that you have to influence, all of the rest of the challenges fall right in line because if you have to influence 18 different decision-makers and influencers, then you have to manage multiple lead generation campaigns across multiple media to all of those different kinds of people and you have to do PR buzz. You don't know what different people will read and where they're going to read it. Each extra person on the committee becomes a bigger marketing challenge for the rest of your challenges.
Why don't we move on to what prospects say. Is it true? Are the committees really getting bigger? Guess what? It is true. So, it is not just your perception that suddenly, now it's a lot harder to sell, especially selling to the enterprise. It is the reality. These committees on the prospect side of decision makers and influencers are getting bigger and bigger. Stefan, can you talk us through how we got this data?
Stefan Tornquist: As you see, along the bottom are the sizes of various companies and there's a very regular increase. As those companies get bigger, so do the committees that contribute to the decision-making process. One of the things that this did was encourage us to do a lot of our survey research this year splitting out those decision makers, the finance, CIO-level folks versus all of the contributors to the process -- the many people who do research and put technology through its paces during that buying process.
One thing that I should mention is that depending on the type of purchase, these numbers may vary. For instance, if you are looking at highly technical purchase that really only the tech team is going to deal with, something like a data warehouse, for instance, or backup storage, you're probably dealing with a smaller group. That's a core technology appraisal group and then a couple of people from finance and the CIO. It's those projects that involve multiple business units -- take CRM, for example -- that's really going to have a really large number of contributors.
Anne Holland: The nightmare is, here you are marketing to the committee and you have reached everyone on the committee and, of course, that makes me think immediately about white papers. That's one of the primary ways -- among many -- but one of the primary ways that B-to-B technology marketers are generating new leads and evangelizing their product to the world, plus, of course, educating those committee members that are often not technology-oriented. They're more from the business end.
So, you have to educate them in what is all this technology, why are we different, why do you need it. There's so much need for the white paper in this sales process and so, of course, we asked the end consumer of the white paper -- what are they thinking? Are they downloading white papers? Are they reading more or less? Is it harder or easier to get their attention with white papers these days? Stefan, what was the main takeaway from the questions about white papers.
Stefan Tornquist: If we move on to slide #5, you'll see their answer to one question and this was for people who are using white papers less frequently, why is that? While most of the reasons that are about on par, the one that busts it wide open is that they don't have to register or provide personal information when using alternative sources of information.
Now, the good news here is that, by and large, executives and contributors are using white papers as much, or more, than they did back in the 2005-2006 period. So, the water is not running out of the drain on white papers. Far from it. But, there's a growing group of people who are saying, "You know, I'm looking for alternatives," and the big reason they're doing it isn't because they don't like white papers, per se. It's because of the hurdles that we make them jump through to get that information.
Anne Holland: Oh, another registration form, ugh. That kind of feeling.
Stefan Tornquist: Exactly right. I think all of us have a grateful feeling when we click on a link and, lo and behold, it's got PDF after it and you're immediately accessing the information you are interested in. We were talking earlier about the size of that buying committee. If you want a piece of documentation to be easily circulated among all those folks, there's something to be said for having a very low barrier to entry.
Anne Holland: In other words, if you want your white paper to go viral across the committee, so people are handing it off to other people, which we know they do once they get them in their hands, if it's an interesting enough paper -- you have to loosen the strings early on and get rid of those barriers. Just set the white paper free and let it go and find its home and find its way across the committee. If the white paper is one that is critical, especially for educating that committee or nurturing that lead, where you really need everyone to have read it to make a good decision, hopefully in your favor, consider taking down that barrier for certain white papers.
Now, Redhat has actually been testing this for two or three years now, and we did a Case Study on them and how they did that, and they said it was very successful, that they were getting an exponential increase in the number of white paper downloads for certain white papers, and then, of course, they just had a call to action at the end of the white paper. If you read it and you were interested in them, then, "Hey, here's how you get in touch with us.” They said that made, to their mind, a profound difference.
We actually also have tested this. If you go our Web site and you click on the tab called "Free Reports," you see a bunch of white paper downloads that are just the direct PDF link. There's no reg form. We've done it both ways and we've found that, yes, we can absolutely track sales and track increased readership, all sorts of great things, to just sort of setting the PDF free. I think this is something that's an interesting idea, especially, again, if you're marketing to a very large committee.
The other thing that you want to consider doing is probably making sure your white paper is syndicated into Web sites where they have registered members, a high degree of registered members, because if you're a registered member on a Web site such as CNet, IT Whitepapers, CMP Tech Web, many of those other sites, you don't have to fill out the form to get the white paper. You're already registered. You're already logged in as a user, so you're more likely to download it. To you, you don't think there's a barrier, but the marketer still gets the lead or still gets the data. It's definitely a star on the side of syndication -- always a great thing.
Let's move on to our next slide, slide #7, webinars. It's the sibling child of the white paper. Now, Stefan, this slide really freaked me out when I first saw it. In fact, I didn't think the data was right. It just was so extreme. Can you talk us through what these two different things are here on this slide about webinars?
Stefan Tornquist: Well, we asked those consumers of webinars -- and again, that’s the majority of the folks that responded to the survey, do, at least occasionally, consume webinars. We split that out by those people who play a decision-making role in the buying process versus those contributors I was talking about. What we see – and, yes, I went through the numbers more than once to confirm this, is really a profound difference in their consumption.
I don’t think the difference would be so profound if you were looking at white papers, but when it comes to webinars, the deciders tend to be much higher, much more frequent consumers of webinars. Now, there aren’t as many deciders as there are contributors, of course, but we see that one in five report that they attend, on average, a webinar a week, compared to just 1% of the contributors.
When you look at those people who say that they’re very occasional consumers, once in the last year, it’s about a third of the contributors, and only 7% of those decision makers. So clearly, whether it’s the ability to multitask while listening to a webinar something about the medium itself, those folks who tend to be VP level, C level, business line managers, they really are much more likely to be avid webinar consumers.
Anne Holland: And, of course, if you are someone listening to this -- well, this is a teleseminar, but still, if you’re listening to this today, you can put yourself in the higher level kind of personality there. What’s interesting here is you’re seeing a real difference between somebody who, perhaps, their job is more of a worker bee as opposed to someone who is more of that sort of thought leader, strategic thinker in the organization. It’s a real difference.
One of them is very much engaged in looking at the outside world, perhaps reading The Wall Street Journal, looking across to see what’s going on -- trends, forecasts, bigger issues. Then, you have the worker bee, who may be a contributor to the decision, who’s saying, “Well, I’m busy getting my job done, but I don’t have time for an hour right now. If you have something shorter that I can grab and read whenever I’ve got a chance, I will.”
What this tells me is, number one, you might want to test different types of webinar titles. So you might say, “OK, let’s do more of a thought leadership piece for this webinar and test that for the decision maker. Then, if we really do want the contributors, do a different kind of title for those people or maybe fill that hole with the white papers with a slightly different angle to it. So, consider angling your content for the different market places within the committee.
The other thing is, when you do a canned webinar, as so many of us are doing these days -- you do your webinar live, and then you send out the little alert saying, “OK, there’s going to be a canned version coming out. Click here to see it.” Then, you add it to your online resource library, etc. -- consider chunking it. In other words, don’t force the person who reviews the canned version to sit through the whole hour or whole half hour. Instead, put it up in such a way that they could just cut to the chase and get to the little bit that they’re concerned about.
Maybe they’ve been cast by their boss, who is the vice president, to go out and get one piece of information, or one factoid that will make a difference toward the decision, but they don’t have time to listen to the whole hour. Maybe they’ll go in there and they want to check out one particular slide, or maybe they want to hear one particular area of the webinar. Then if it really grabs them, they’ll go back and check out other areas. There’s plenty of technologies that allow you to do that.
We actually have tested that, as well. In fact, just posting PowerPoint slides with an audio on top of it and letting people go and check different sections, or just posting 10-minute increments, or five-minute increments tends to work very well. If you can’t do that, if you want to do the low-tech version, you could just include a transcript online with your webinar. So, if they don’t have time to sit and listen to the whole thing, they can skim it through, pick out the section that really matters to them and maybe read it. Consider the different ways you can serve up that content for the different type of information seeker.
All right, let’s move on to slide #8, Telemarketing. Good old-fashioned telemarketing. Stefan, what does this mean? Telemarketing still works. What did you ask these people?
Stefan Tornquist: This is a question that we asked of those people who said, “Yes, I have received a technology product-related cold call in the last …” I think we asked about six months. We asked those people what happened as a result. As we can see, quite a lot happened. Now, to be clear, I don’t think that these things necessarily come from a single cold call. If you note, something like 40% say that the vendor was invited to pitch their product in person. There’s a pretty good chance that that didn’t happen after one cold call. What the cold call did was start the relationship, and the relationship eventually resulted in that happening.
So, yes, that’s absolutely an endorsement of good old-fashioned cold calling, especially when it’s targeted and appropriate. We also, in the book, we go into a number of the factors that make cold calls appropriate versus inappropriate, how they’re done at their best. That, of course, makes a huge difference.
Anne Holland: Now, it may not be a cold call. The prospect might have thought it was a cold call, but maybe a couple of months before that they filled out a reg form somewhere. Don’t remember it.
Stefan Tornquist: You took the words right out of my mouth. One thing that we know from a lot of research is that most organizations aren’t that great at following up a lead with necessarily a phone call within 24 hours. That phone call, especially if it’s coming through a reseller of some kind, may come quite a long time after that initial lead. So in the minds of the end user, it seems like a cold call to them, at least some of the time.
Anne Holland: So, it still can work. Yes, you should follow up faster and, actually, we’re going to have some new data on that this fall, so look forward to that. In the meantime, the phone calls do work. We know they’re expensive. We know that telemarketing is one of your most expensive methods, especially if you’re doing it well, with very well-trained reps, well-educated reps, but it’s worth it. An inside sales department can really work.
All right, let’s move on to what may be, to some people, the most shocking slide of all in this presentation, slide #9 …
Stefan Tornquist: Yeah, despite all the work we do …
Anne Holland: All that marketing.
Stefan Tornquist: All the marketing. The vast majority, and this really interested me, say that when we asked them to think about a specific vendor that they had hired in the last 12 months, the vast majority said that they went out and found that vendor instead of the other way around.
Anne Holland: It just -- isn’t that -- here you are, killing yourself. You have the trade show booth, you have the webinar, you have the white paper, you have the banners, you have the search marketing, you have direct postal mail, you have sales reps, and, gee, that prospect just thinks he did all the work. You’ve just got to love it.
The key, I think, from a marketing perspective here, is not just to feel depressed and have -- good lord, you don’t want your CEO seeing this and saying, “Well, let’s just cut the marketing budget by 80%, because, hey, prospects are going to find us anyway.” Heaven forbid they would say that. Really, what you want to understand here is you need to be there to be found when they’re looking. If they think they’re in control of this process, let them be because they want to be, but make sure you are there, ready to be found, when they’re looking.
The biggest key that I draw from this is that means don’t -- if you have your big budget and you’re going to do your big campaign of the year -- consider not doing that. Instead of doing one big campaign of the year, I would break that budget up into 12 months and do a systemic, cross-media, low-volume campaign that goes on all year; a year-long presence in every possible media that those prospects are looking for you in, whether it just be a text link, a syndicated white paper, a slice of a canned webinar, a smaller booth at niche shows, at regional trade shows, a direct mail campaign that repeatedly hits people -- not the exact same campaign, maybe an ongoing, progressive postal mail campaign to your top, top, top prospects who are in the perfect, sweet spot for you.
Just how can you take all of your marketing and break it out through the entire year, so that when they’re ready to go looking, when they think they’re going to look and find you, you’re there? You’re just right there in their hand. You just plop -- it’s like an apple falling right into their hand. You are the low-hanging fruit. It’s no longer about the prospect being the low-hanging fruit. It’s about you being the low-hanging fruit and how do you manage it so you’re there.
It’s got to be on their schedule, though, which means, again, break up your media buy. You can be smaller, but if they’re looking, they’re going to find you if you’re using the right keywords if you’re positioned correctly, if you’re addressing their pain points in your copy. They’re going to find you. You don’t have to shout and scream. They’re looking, but you have to be there when they’re looking. That is a real difference. It’s kind of almost a Web 2.0 thing.
Now, where do they look? Go on to slide #10. Stefan, talk us through this data.
Stefan Tornquist: What we did here was ask people, initially, when you’re in the early stages of the technology product research process, what do you do? What are the different sources you use? As you can see, they’re broken out -- to the right hand side of the center axis, we see people who say they always or sometimes use the various sources. Then rarely or never are there on the left hand side.
Not surprisingly, search comes out on top. What is surprising, unless you spend all of your time looking at numbers about the search industry, is the degree of dominance of Google, as opposed to a couple of the other major consumer-oriented Web search engines. The dominance here is really quite extraordinary, with 83% saying they always use Google at some point in that early stage of the process.
Now, under that, you have sort of the second tier, the IT vendor Web sites. OK, no surprise there. Online IT pubs, also very strong, as are directories, corporate company directories, things like Hoover’s, IT community sites, all sort of in that roughly 60% to 70% usage range. Then you see a downturn at the analyst site.
Not that there’s anything wrong with analysts, of course, but people aren’t members of analyst sites. They may not be subscribers. They’re much more likely to go to their IT community for answers. I think one of the Web 2.0 innovations has really just been to update something that has been happening in IT for a long time, which is, especially those folks at the contributor level, when they’re looking at how much can this server really handle, they go to other folks who are in their position.
Anne Holland: You go to your peers first and then you go to the experts. I know in my real world life, I went to buy a new washer/dryer last weekend. First, I talked to my neighbor who just bought one and then I went to ConsumerReports.org. So, definitely it was a one-two punch, but I went to my neighbor first. It’s all about your peers. We all know word of mouth is the most critical medium for B-to-B marketing. It always will be, and it obviously is here, as well … not that they don’t trust the analysts.
The other interesting thing here, of course, is that directories number. As you said, that’s people like Hoover’s. Of course, that means, making sure your directory listing is updated, making sure they’ve got you right. Have they described your company correctly? Again, if they’re going looking, one, will they find you, and, two, will they find you listed in the right way?
This works for manufacturing, other kinds of B-to-B marketers, as well. When they go to ThomasNet, are they finding you? When you go to Global Spec, are they finding you? When they go to regular association directories, are they finding you and are you listed properly? If they read it, are they going to find -- oh, yeah -- this guy does what I want?
What I think is interesting is that when I talk to marketers about their directory listings, directory listings in sort of a level of marketing sexiness fall down around the North Pole. They’re just about as boring as you can be. I know people who are like, “Oh, yeah, we had the intern do that once a few years ago.” It’s just not something you’re going and checking very often.
You may be spending a whole lot of energy on your paid search listings and very little on, “Gee, what do we look like in Hoover’s?” It’s worth going and checking that, and it’s worth bringing that up a little bit higher. What the heck? It isn’t always that much work. It’s just a quick lookup to see what you look like and then find out how you can change it if it doesn’t match what you need to match.
Stefan Tornquist: And something worth remembering is that a lot of those directory pages show up quite high in the natural search rankings. It feeds into that Google number.
Anne Holland: It’s a one-two punch. Now, of course, as you can guess from that gargantuan Google number, the thing that really matters is your search marketing working? In particular search engine optimization. Now this is on slide 11, and just to clarify for the few people who may not be aware of it, search engine optimization, known also as SEO, is getting your company and your Web pages into the organic, or natural, listings. Those are the links that are free, as opposed to the paid listings, which are the ones that are usually at the top and running down the sides. So, it’s a very different kind of search marketing than PPC. Stefan, how did you get this information?
Stefan Tornquist: Well, we assigned a hapless MarketingSherpa analyst to look at the search rankings for 150 different enterprise and small- to medium-sized business technology Web sites. They’re the same websites that we do our annual audit of. What we did was look, in their own company literature, for key phrases, CRM, business information technology, that sort of thing. Based on what they put out as their core products at their core business value, we then did searches and looked for where they showed up in the results.
Anne Holland: OK, so the keywords in your headline, maybe on your homepage, and then we looked up that keyword to see whether the search engine had noticed it on the headline in your homepage.
Stefan Tornquist: Exactly so. One thing that differentiates the large from the small companies is that it’s more common for the large companies to be bidding on, and showing up in the natural search results for more generic terms. Something like CRM, for instance. That’s a hotly contested piece of real estate on Google and all the other engines. Whereas the smaller companies, because they tend to be more niche focused, a lot of those search terms were two- or three-word terms, slightly more accessible real estate. When you look at the comparison, they’re actually doing pretty well, but it’s not Tribeca that they’re trying to buy land in, to belabor the analogy.
One thing I should mention, when you look down at the bottom of the page and you see the second page of natural results, you’ve got some people showing up there. There are a number of studies out there that suggest that people will look at two or three pages of search results. It’s our feeling that it’s a bit misleading, because the kinds of searches where people will go deeper into the search tend to be a very specific type.
For instance, a tech person is looking for how can I configure Outlook for Server 2007, something very specific? They’re expecting to find a very specific answer somewhere deep in the results. If they’re dong a more general search -- I want to find a comparison grid of CRM software, for instance, I’m going to find multiple examples of that kind of thing in the very first page. So I wouldn’t necessarily count on the second or third page, really performing that well.
Anne Holland: The good news is people are actually being found on the first page. The bad news is, even of the very large companies, 40% aren’t anywhere on the first page of the thing they say they are the top company in. For the smaller companies, that’s almost 60% are not being found on the first page of the thing that you’re the top company in.
Quite frankly, we’ve seen a lot of your budgets when it comes to search engine optimization. I can tell you, you’re not spending enough. I’m not saying it’s going to cost you a whole bunch, but I am saying if you’re just depending on someone in the Web department who thought he’d do it on the side as a favor to the marketing department, you’re not spending enough.
You need to actually have a committee that’s the search engine optimization committee. You need to have your Web department in on that meeting, and you need to have, hopefully, somebody from sales in that meeting, because I’m sure sales would like to see your name up there. You need to press the point home and get a little help with fixing the Web site and fixing your down links so you can get up there on that natural listing. It’s so critical for all those prospects, of course, who think they’re finding you. Well, you have to make sure you’re there to be found.
Stefan Tornquist: We’re constantly hearing about how rising keyword prices and the entrance of virtually all of the big brands into paid search marketing is forcing smaller bidders off that first page. That only emphasizes the importance of being strong in your natural listings.
Anne Holland: Now, once they come to your Web site, if they do come to your homepage, of course, we were wondering is your homepage really set up in such a way that it’s going to do a good job. The people who are likely to come to your homepage -- maybe somebody who’s heard of you once or twice … they may have seen an ad somewhere, or maybe they saw a booth at a trade show, they ran into somebody from your company. Maybe they were even word-of-mouth recommended and they’re like, “Well, let me go find out about these people.”
When our analysts went over and looked at your homepages, I have to tell you, they were struck by the unremitting sameness of them. In fact, if you look at the chart on slide #12, the chart on the bottom there, it shows you -- we actually, literally, looked at both the large organizations and then the smaller companies and said, “What percent of these companies’ homepages had this layout?"
As you can see above there, there’s a little wire frame that shows the basic layout. It’s amazing. You could go to IBM, you can go to Sun Microsystems, you can go to a bazillion different people, and all of them basically have that layout. It’s a slightly different billboard ad there, different headline, different little graphic, different bullet points in the vertical columns, but basically that seems to be the layout du jour for every B-to-B site out there that you can name.
Is it a good layout? That’s my next question -- is, well, is that because it’s such a brilliant, amazing layout that’s going to get people to register, and get people to raise hands, and get people to think you’re the most wonderful company ever? Is that the one to use? Well, we decided to study it. Is this really the best layout or not?
What we did was -- and if you’ll turn with me to the next page, which is slide #13, you’ll see an example of a before and after design. We actually took real live homepages -- we took one from, I believe, IBM, and here’s one from Sun Microsystems, and one from Oracle, as well as three from different smaller technology companies, and we tested. We did an eyetracking test of what their current layout was, and then we just tweaked the layout a little.
As you see at the left, that’s the real layout of the Sun Microsystems site when we did the test about a month ago. Then, on the right side, you’ll see our tweak. It’s the exact same art, basically, the exact same words, the exact same hotlinks, the exact same colors. Nothing changed, we just moved stuff around a little. In this case, we wanted to see: does three columns work better than one, two, three or four columns? That’s a real difference, especially if you move that billboard over a little bit so there’s more navigational columns, information a little higher up above the fold.
What we found, indeed, and for every single test we did, that fewer columns tended to work a lot better than the multiple columns. Then, people tended to really prefer and find it easier to find what they were looking for when it was fewer columns and there were navigational items well above the fold and their view wasn’t blocked with this big ad in the middle.
Now, if you’d like to get more information about this whole homepage study that we did, we have a whole 45-page study with all the results and all the pictures of these different real-life Web pages and the way we redesigned them. No problem. We’re offering it for free, and you can learn more at the end of this presentation.
In the meantime, we also conducted eyetracking studies on the most critical interior page of your site, and that, of course, would be the pages where you have a registration form, where you have a “Contact Us” form, where you have a white paper form -- anything where people are saying, “Yes, I’m going to fill in my information, and I’m going to become a lead for you.” Stefan -- this is on slide #14. Can you talk us through this slide?
Stefan Tornquist: So, what you want, in general, is for people to start their experience of the page in the top left corner and then move through that descriptive content on the left hand side. Once they’ve fully digested that, then you want them to move up and look at the registration form and, hopefully, fill it out. What we’re seeing here is a page where that’s exactly what happened. There’s good movement and good separation between the two parts of the page.
What we see in cases of bad separation is that it scatters attention. So if that registration form weren’t so clearly the second column of the page, where we’re more integrated, then people’s eyes might go to the registration form sort of early in the process. They’re not convinced about its value, and their attention scatters and they’re gone. Let’s remember that most people only give a landing page four to eight seconds.
What do they look at in those first four seconds? Well, certainly they do touch on the headlines, but what we found in numerous studies is that they go for the bullet points, because they can just take a quick look at three or four bullet points and they can know, “Is this for me?” There’s a high level of attention there. The other thing worth noting is that a surprising amount of attention goes to the biography of the speaker. If you look down on the sort of lower third of the page …
Anne Holland: That’s a lot of eyeball time for something that’s that far down on the page.
Stefan Tornquist: It’s far down on the page, and it’s quite dense content. In fact, I think you can see that the attention does sort of wane about half way or two thirds through that paragraph. I would suspect that either making it shorter or splitting that into two paragraphs might make people more likely to sort of finish that paragraph. One long paragraph does tend to burn through attention. This is one of nine heatmaps that are in the main report, not as part of the special report, that look at white paper and webinar description pages, library pages and registration pages.
Anne Holland: It’s cool stuff. I know we’d all like to be able to tweak our form a little bit to get more people to register. If you went to all the trouble of getting them to that page, you might as well get as many as possible to sign up.
Stefan Tornquist: One other thing on this landing page is that it employs a best practice that most people are not brave enough to use, and that is that there is not really much in the way of external navigation, navigation that will take people away from the page. Once people are here, except for some links on the bottom and, of course, the homepage link in the main title bar, there isn’t a lot of menu navigation.
Anne Holland: That’s right. There’s no left nav bar and there’s no horizontal nav bar.
Stefan Tornquist: Exactly so.
Anne Holland: That shows you they’re not distracted. They’re reading the copy. Why don’t we move on to slide #15. Once they’ve registered, whether they gave you their card at a trade show, or they registered online, no matter how they did it, how are you then going to be nurturing the lead through that enormously long sales cycle? I wanted to look this year at -- we look at some of the classic lead nurturing tactics, but we also wanted to look at some of the newer things and say, “Are there other ways to get to people?” especially beyond just boring old email and, of course, inside sales phone calls. What are the other things that you need to be aware of when you’re trying to nurture these leads?
These are results from different surveys of actual business prospects who said and, of course, the first one is 64% of decision makers told us that they were viewing emails sometimes or all the time on a mobile device, such as a BlackBerry. Now, when was the last time you looked at the email that you’re sending out, the email newsletter or different nurturing emails? When was the last time you looked at it on a BlackBerry? Probably never. Or, if you did, how ugly was it? It probably was hideous. Very, very few that we’ve seen you can actually even read properly.
So, take a look at that. Maybe even get a little budget out there, because you could get a marketing department BlackBerry for experimental purposes only, of course, to view your creative on. Send yourself some of your own internal emails that you use for nurturing campaigns. Look at them and then you’re probably going to want to do a redesign, because if you really want to influence those decision makers, it better look good on the mobile device they’re viewing it on.
The next thing, of course, is RSS. Now, Stefan, the general population is not madly in love with RSS, are they?
Stefan Tornquist: Well, if they are, they don’t know it. I think we’ve probably all seen the figures that, although something like 35% of the general online public is using something like the Google news reader, Yahoo news reader, that sort of thing, they don’t know that it’s RSS. I think something like 7% of consumers, as a whole, sort of know about the technology and are paying real attention to it as a technology. It’s just a useful bit of their homepage in most cases.
Anne Holland: When it comes to business-to-business prospects, in particular in the IT community, they think RSS is a nice thing to have. So, a little RSS feed button on a blog for consumers might not work, because they don’t even know what it is. If you’re marketing, especially to the IT department, sticking that on there may actually get you some real readers. That explains why folks like IBM are offering multiple RSS feeds for almost every kind of content they’re offering.
I know that some of the IBM developer community Web sites offer upwards of 40, 50, 60 different RSS feeds that you can sign up for because they know these guys just adore them, and want one that’s especially for their needs, specified to the thing that they’re developing in. So, I would definitely go and take a look at that and reconsider it. I wouldn’t just put it out as just an alternate to just your general email newsletter. I would say, “What can I give them via RSS that fits that particular format?”
Stefan Tornquist: Absolutely. If nothing else, RSS can be a tremendous money saver if it can cut down on your customer service calls.
Anne Holland: Now, last but not least, of course, podcasts. Now, last year we had some data that showed that podcasts, as of last spring, really hadn’t moved the needle for more than about 2% of business technology buyers. They weren’t a huge influence. Now, we’re seeing a real difference here. Can you explain what this 78% is?
Stefan Tornquist: Well, it’s unclear what a real difference it is, because what we asked here was, “Have you ever listened to a technology-related podcast?” So this isn’t a question of people who are regularly using audio content. I don’t know whether they are or not. This is the largest conceivable number when it comes to audio content, because we said, “Have you ever listened to it?” So there’s a -- it’s a big number and that’s why.
Anne Holland: Let’s move on to our last official chart of the day, and this is the fun chart. This is the lead conversion rate. Stefan, you have a lot of different charts about lead conversion rates, depending on what kind of marketer it is and how well they’re doing, but in general this is a very overall average one. What can you see here is the average lead conversion rate and first it’s inquiries to qualified leads, qualified leads to prospects and then prospects to sales.
So, those are kind of the three stages of lead conversion, and this is per 1,000 inquiries. Then you have people -- the conversion rates of marketers who are actually using best practices. So there’s average marketers and then there’s the marketers that are using best practices. Now, what kinds of best practices would these be, briefly?
Stefan Tornquist: We actually had quite a basket of best practices that we applied to this question, but it might be something like having a formal lead scoring system that had been agreed on by sales and marketing. Having a process by which sales can hand a lead back to marketing if the lead has gone fallow. I think there was seven different qualifiers that we designated as best practices.
Anne Holland: The cool thing is that if you are doing all that extra work and doing best practices in marketing, the sales team ends up converting more sales. They’re getting a 20% conversion rate. So the sales team has got to be happier, has got to be loving the marketing department and has got to be out there politically helping you. In-house politics, just right there alone, they’re saying, “Wow, we love these guys. They send us decent leads. We’re willing to follow up on the leads.” So, it’s not just more sales, it’s possibly more in-house joy.
Stefan Tornquist: It’s all about the scrubbing early on in the process. You can see that they’re actually -- the inquiries to qualified lead rate among those best practices folks is actually lower. It’s in the later stages that they make up for that by moving through the process a bit better, but it’s those 120 folks are that much more qualified than the 170 on the other side.
Anne Holland: Now, this is actually a chart I would show to my CEO and I would use it during budget season or when I’m being measured against my success record because if the marketing department is being held -- if your major success metric is we got in a whole bunch of leads, or my goal for this quarter, this financial quarter -- by June 30th, I have to have gotten in X number of leads, this chart shows you it’s all wrong. Your goal should be I got in leads that converted well to sales. My conversion rate to sales -- I handed off really good leads to the sales department.
That has to be the number that’s going to make the company more money and going to make sales happier than just a whole bunch of leads. Of course, you have to be able to measure that. That means closed loop measurement. There’s more work involved, but it’s worth it because the company will be making more money. So, this is absolutely the chart, out of all the charts in this presentation, I would walk down the hall and show to the CEO when I was fighting for budget and I was fighting for a closed loop measurement system.
Now, that said, of course, we have lots more charts that will help you with that budgeting process in the actual book itself, and as you can see on page 17, there’s a little picture of it, along with the homepage redesign research study that you can get for free along with your copy.
I’d like to thank you for joining us today for some of the highlights from this research study. In particular, I’d like to thank our special guests from the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange Group who also attended today’s teleseminar. Thanks for coming, guys. You’re just right up the street from us, so it’s a pleasure to have local marketers on the line.
Thank you so much, Stefan, for sharing this new research with everybody. As we said at the beginning of this, you can share this presentation with your team and we hope that you find it of real use. Thank you and good afternoon.