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What’s the Most Important Ecommerce Challenge? On-time Shipping

November 18th, 2014 No comments

You can optimize your website, signage and marketing, but if you can’t deliver what the customer orders when they expect it,  it’s all for naught.

That’s the word from Debbie Hauss, Editor in Chief of “Retail Touchpoints,” a digital publication that covers customer-facing aspects of retail.

She spoke about the challenges of fulfillment with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS,  at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition earlier this year.

“The most important thing is getting your inventory right,” Debbie pointed out. “It’s not as sexy as digital signage or what you’re doing face-to-face or on mobile technology or inside your store or website. But if customers want to buy online, you have to make sure you’re ready to fulfill orders when they want them.”

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How Seamless Email Turns Ecommerce Prospects into Buyers

October 14th, 2014 No comments

Only 2.6% of the people browsing an ecommerce site actually buy during that visit, but, according to Charles Nicholls, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to eventually make a purchase.

Charles is the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for SeeWhy, a provider of cloud-based behavioral target marketing. He discussed what it takes to transform browsers into buyers with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, at the 2014 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

Charles exhorted marketers to rethink the channel mindset and optimizing websites for a single session, and instead, think about optimizing the entire buying process. The key, he explained, is seamless use of email across desktops, tablets and smartphones.

Why? Customers may use all of these devices before finally making a purchase.

Consider this: SeeWhy has been tracking smart phone conversions, and, according to Charles, smartphones are outpacing tablets, which have become a desktop substitute. Also, 67% of smartphone conversions are done via email.

Watch the video below to learn about the importance of seamless emailing:

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How a B2B Marketing Team Used Zombies to Win Over the C-Suite

September 30th, 2014 No comments

When Christine Nurnberger joined SunGard Availability Services in 2012, Marketing and Sales were clearly out of alignment. Marketing’s contribution to the sales pipeline was less than 3%, even though they executed more than 1,100 marketing tactics over the previous fiscal year.

By the end of 2013, that relationship had shifted dramatically. Marketing’s contribution to new revenue skyrocketed to 40% with the average deal size tripling.

At MarketingsherpaEmail Summit 2014, Christine revealed her secret to success: smart content marketing built on intense research, analysis and creativity. It culminated with chief technology officers preparing for the zombie apocalypse and eager to engage SunGard.

In the video clip below, Christine outlines setting the stage for that success with a two-stage direct mail pilot, targeting 56 CTOs in the later stages of the buying cycle:

  • Part one was a direct-mail piece made up of a  shadow box with a thumb drive, which included a personalized video announcing that, in the coming days, they would receive everything they needed to survive a zombie apocalypse.
  • Part two was a zombie apocalypse survival kit — a backpack that included a copy of World War Z, two tickets to the movie and “zombie repellant,” aka silly string.

 

The response blew the sales team away.

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Email Marketing: Verizon, REI share ideas to profit from growing mobile e-commerce traffic

August 30th, 2013 1 comment

If your emails and websites aren’t optimized for smart devices, you’re likely losing at least 20% of your marketplace, according to an analysis of more than 500 million online shopping experiences by Monetate, a website testing platform.

In the Ecommerce Quarterly (EQ1 2013) report, Monetate revealed more than 21% of e-commerce traffic comes from smartphones, up from 2% merely two years ago. Yet, it reports only 14% of companies optimize websites and emails for smart devices. Verizon Wireless and REI are among them.

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013, Laura Velasquez, Marketing Program Manager, REI, and Jason Jennings, Associate Director, Digital CRM, Verizon Wireless, discussed their success and lessons learned in the mobile optimization process.

Check out highlights from their discussion in this video excerpt of their mobile email panel.

 

:10 Jason outlines what you must consider when optimizing for mobile.

1:11 Laura discusses how REI developed a single, focused mobile strategy from many strategies.

1:53 Jason explains Verizon’s approach to developing pages that load fast, and why he designs for mobile before designing for desktop.

3:05 Laura explains how to begin optimizing for mobile. Hint: Look for small programs with a big impact.

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Lead Nurturing: 5 tips for creating relevant content

September 13th, 2012 2 comments

Attempting lead nurturing without strong content is like hosting a Monsters of Rock show during a power outage.

The results will be disappointing.

That’s because effective content is the power behind lead nurturing success, insist Toby Murdock, CEO and Co-founder, Kapost, and Chris Baggott, Chairman and Co-founder, Compendium.

Both companies are content software providers, and both leaders recently spoke about the value of content marketing: Murdock at Marketo’s Social Marketing Rockstar Tour, and Baggott at the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012.

“The Internet has put buyers in control,” says Murdock. “Seventy percent of the buying is completed before Sales is contacted.”

What that means, he went on to explain, is that Marketing now has the greatest responsibility for guiding those opportunities through the sales cycle. However, traditional advertising methods no longer help leads move forward.

“The average clickthrough rate on paid Internet advertising is .01%,” he points out.

Baggott contrasts this with clickthrough rates on content that is meaningful to prospects. He provides an example: creating content that speaks directly to prospects’ needs and has strong calls-to-action.

“When we do this, we see clickthrough rates that exceed 20%,” he points out; it’s an observation they’ve made working with hundreds of clients.

“I click through because I am very motivated. I see something that will help me; I look at the content and say, ‘Yeah, these people get me.’ When you have a need and the content meets it, you’re very eager to move forward,” he explains.

Instead of pushing products or services, pull the right prospects through by providing information, ideas and solutions that will help them, advise Baggott and Murdock. (It will also help you rank high in search engines.) This is the essence of relevance, and without it, everything you consider content is just more advertising, they insist.

They offer these tips to create content with the power to move beyond advertising into relevancy:

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Watching Concrete: YouTube channel saves time, drives revenue for Mid Atlantic Concrete Equipment

July 27th, 2012 No comments

If you attend an industry event with Owen Blevins, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Mid Atlantic Concrete Equipment, you better expect to hear the refrain, “Hey, Cretehead!”

It’s not an insult, just evidence that people are buying what Blevins is selling. As the founder and host of Concrete Answers, “the Internet’s most passionate show about concrete plants and equipment,” Blevins is becoming a concrete-industry celebrity, and, of course, he kicks off each episode with a resounding, “Heeey, Creteheads!”

Every other week, he introduces machinery and processes in direct response to the questions he receives from customers via his company’s website, events and sales meetings.

Even though the show is only about two years old, it has received more than 85,000 views.

“It’s not a bulldog on a skateboard, but we have a niche market. Our goal is to inform, educate and offer a little bit of entertainment. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, be sure to watch,” he laughs. “It’s highly technical.”

 

Hundreds of hours of work = Hundreds of thousands in sales

Every minute of the final product represents an hour of work – planning, shooting, editing and posting. However, Blevins says the hundreds of hours devoted to Concrete Answers are well worth the investment.

“We typically know exactly what brought our customers to us,” says Blevins. “This information allows us to justify expense, because there’s a lot of time, effort and energy that goes into the channel. It’s definitely been worth it; otherwise, we wouldn’t do it. I won’t reveal exact ROI, but I can tell you the show has ultimately resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment sales.”

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Lead Generation: 3 basic tips for webinar newbies

June 28th, 2012 No comments

Marketers rank webinars among email newsletters, Sales calls, whitepapers and thought leadership articles as top lead generation tools, according to the chart at right from the just-released MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link).

But Jeanne Hopkins, Executive Vice President, Smartbear Software, advises that if you’re new to webinars, proceed with care.

“Unfortunately, most people think that having a webinar is easy,” she says. “That’s because they don’t prepare enough. Webinars are very resource intensive if you want to produce results.”

And, if anyone knows, it’s Jeanne.

She was most recently vice president of Marketing for HubSpot where, under her leadership, the organization held webinars that attracted 25,000 sign-ups, 10,000 attendees and 3,500 new leads. She’s been a marketing executive since well before webinars came into existence, and leveraged their predecessor, the teleconference.

She draws from this experience to inform her three most important tips for novice webinar producers.

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Social Media Platform Selection: Keep your eye on the bigger picture

May 31st, 2012 No comments

The news of Facebook’s recent IPO has mostly focused on technical glitches at NASDAQ. But, one question sits in the back of many marketers’ minds: Is this a sign that the social network will not continue its market dominance?

After all, we’ve seen the rise and fall of sites like Friendster and MySpace, along with the constant emergence of new social media platforms like Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.

So, in the midst of all this change, what is the biggest factor you should keep in mind when exploring social media platforms?

Not the social media platform itself, according to Kaci Bower, senior research analyst, MECLABS Content Group, and author of MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Inbound Marketing Handbook. Kaci suggests you focus on your bigger inbound marketing strategy and architecture rather than relying on tying marketing to any one platform, even if it does have more than 800 million different users.

 

A strategic approach can give you a distinct competitive advantage

Integrating inbound tactics is the marketing equivalent of avoiding sugar and exercising every day, Kaci claims.

“The vast majority of marketers agree it’s critical, but a much smaller percentage follow through,” she says, citing MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report. “Seventy-six percent of marketers believe integrating SEO and social media is essential, but only 47% are actually doing it.

“A 30-point difference is huge,” continues Kaci. “It indicates the challenge of inbound marketing integration — it’s far easier to give it lip service than execute it.”

 

Lost in the noise

She suspects that is due to the massive amounts of information in the marketplace on SEO, social media and content creation. Consider this graphic that illustrates the complexity of the social media landscape by showing the huge amount of social media marketing and social networking tools and platforms.

Of course, you don’t have to use everything. Just use what works best for your company. As you can see in this chart from the Inbound Marketing Handbook, usage and effectiveness do not always consistently match. For example, two of the most hyped social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter – showed significantly more usage than effectiveness. Meanwhile, blogs may be more effective than many marketers realize.

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Lead Nurturing: You could be losing as much as 80% of your sales; here’s how you keep them

March 1st, 2012 5 comments

Multiply your company’s revenue by five.

That’s the sum of what lead nurturing could produce considering that long-term leads — the ones often ignored by salespeople — represent as much as 80% of your sales. (In Chapter 18 of his book, “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale,” Brian Carroll outlines the startling research.)

I know this is an extreme oversimplification, but it does represent the potential that is leaking out of your pipeline.

So now that I have your attention, let’s talk about what you can do about it.

If you want to ensure these future customers remain in your funnel, you must have a relevant,

consistent conversation with them. I am not implying you pick up the phone this minute and start calling them (although that’s a good idea further down the marketing funnel — when you want to be certain Sales won’t toss out that lead you thoughtfully nurtured).

What I mean by “conversation” is engaging them with information — content like articles, newsletters, whitepapers and videos — that they’re eager to read, share and act on.

 

Make sure they can benefit from what you give them regardless of whether they choose to buy from you.

But, of course, if you utilize lead nurturing correctly, potential customers will choose to move forward with your organization when they’re ready to purchase.

You’ll be the one they know and trust.

You’ll have made their lives easier by helping them make their purchasing decision. You’ll also have avoided the mistake of pushing them too hard, too fast.

I wish I could say that lead nurturing is as easy as simply collecting a few articles that promote your latest products and blasting it out across your email lists. But, like anything else, results begin with smart planning. If you want lead nurturing to work, you have to set the groundwork by completing the following:

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