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Email Summit Lessons 2010

January 27th, 2010 No comments

This week we’re looking back on MarketingSherpa’s fifth annual Email Marketing Summit and what we learned from the over 600 marketers who came to Miami.

Take a look at our full wrap-up report with seven takeaways. It’s perfect for attendees who want to revisit key themes, and for those who couldn’t make it this year. We also published an article featuring Summit keynote speaker Joseph Jaffe, Chief Interrupter, Powered Inc. Jaffe launched his new book, “Flip the Funnel,” at the Summit.

Personally, I thought the Summit was a fantastic event loaded with cutting edge thought leadership and advice for running outstanding email marketing campaigns.

One interesting bit I noticed came from two back-to-back consumer marketing sessions where speakers mentioned the dreaded “list blasting” tactic. The broadcast tactic of sending a single email to an un-segmented list is thought to be an ineffective approach left behind years ago.

“Blast does horrible things to our industry in perception,” said Loren McDonald, VP, Industry Relations, Silverpop in a panel discussion. “But no matter how sophisticated you are, there is still some broadcasting.”

Although segmenting and sending targeted messages is a superior strategy, sending an occasional blast email to subscribers is acceptable — but it must be very occasional. The superiority of segmenting and targeting over broadcasting was emphasized by a session immediately following McDonald’s panel.

Joy Cropper, Director, Internet Strategy, Williams Randall Marketing described how her team transformed a blast-based email program for the Indiana Office of Tourism Development into a successful segmented program, dramatically improving results.

Cropper’s team surveyed their list with a $100 gas card contest as an incentive and used the responses to find segmentation opportunities. They then created three new newsletters and asked everyone on the list to re-opt-in.

They went from sending one email 10 times a year to three emails 12 times a year — increasing frequency. The result? The cut their list in half and increased their number of clickthroughs 10-fold.

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Convincing Skeptics that Social Media Belongs in your Marketing Strategy

December 10th, 2009 7 comments

Last week, I sat in on a webinar presented by HubSpot and MarketingSherpa that discussed the importance of inbound marketing tactics for B2B lead generation. Sherpa’s research director, Stefan Tornquist, and Rick Burnes, Inbound Marketing Manager, HubSpot, shared data and real-life examples of how the combination of relevant content, social media and search engine optimization is helping marketers reach out to prospects and engage them in their nurturing funnels.

But as in many webinars, it was something from Q&A segment that really caught my ear.

One attendee asked how to get executive buy-in for a serious content development and social media marketing strategy. It seems this attendee’s boss, like some other C-level executives, isn’t convinced that content like videos, podcasts, tweets and blog posts really count as marketing — or that social networks are where marketers need to spend their time.

Here’s the advice that Stefan and Rick offered (with a bit of my own thoughts) to help explain the value of social media to C-level executives:

Tactic #1. Ask your bosses where they get their information

A simple conversation with executives can open their eyes to how much they use social media every day. Do they read blogs? Do they interact with their peers on social networks like LinkedIn?

You can point out that your team needs to create the same kind of content and features that attract them to these information sources.

Tactic #2. Show them the case studies

Most executives can relate to proven results, so provide examples of other companies that have achieved strong results from social media or inbound marketing. I’ve talked to several marketers who have numbers to demonstrate their success, such as:

- The team at Acoustics By Design, who created a company blog that now accounts for 53% of natural search visits to their site.

- The team at BreakingPoint systems, whose big push into blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels helped increase unique Web visitors 155%. As a result, inbound Web visitors accounted for 55% of their leads, and 75% of their marketing-influenced pipeline.

Or just look at HubSpot’s own results: Rick Burnes said his team’s SEO leads have grown 12% since July 2008, and social media leads are up 72% in that same period.

- Tactic #3. Quietly launch a pilot program to prove the concept

If you’re able to operate with a lot of freedom, Rick Burnes suggested launching a small pilot program, like a blog or social network discussion group. Testing tactics and measuring the results you achieve on this small scale can give you the data you need to lobby for a broader push.

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Interviewing In-House Experts for Audio/Video Content

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

Our recent case study about Level 3 Communications’ video eBook highlighted a great tactic for getting non-marketing colleagues to help create marketing content. It can be hard to convince a busy VP or engineering-type to write something for you, but they’ll often agree to be interviewed on a subject for a video or audio piece.

Interviews are a great way to let knowledgeable staff members share their expertise in a low-pressure, low-commitment way:
o You can give them questions in advance so they can gather their thoughts
o The process can take as little as 15 or 20 minutes
o A little post-production editing can highlight the best bits, even if they ramble a little.

But you have to choose the right people to interview and manage the process carefully to ensure the content is trustworthy and relevant to your prospects. Here are a couple more tips on getting the best out of your subject matter experts:

- Avoid using salespeople for lead-gen interviews.

Nothing against salespeople – they are great at what they do, and know your products’ features and benefits inside and out. But using a salesperson may send the wrong message to prospects.

The vast majority of the audience for your video or podcast isn’t yet ready to talk to a salesperson. Instead, you should feature an authoritative voice from within your organization, such as a technical expert or product manager, who can project an educational, authoritative tone. Save the sales team’s role for negotiating with leads once they’ve been qualified through your marketing process.

- Don’t let subjects read their answers.

People reading off a script almost never sound natural. You want the content to be conversational, not scripted.

If the interview subject is working off of notes and it’s not sounding great, ask them to try it again without reading their notes. Tell them to focus on talking to the interviewer as if it were a one-on-one conversation — not a presentation.

And remember, editing is your friend. You can always delete pauses, “ums” and “ahs” or repetitive statements after the fact.

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More Efficient Marketing

June 15th, 2009 2 comments

“In a bad economy, the last thing you want to cut back on is marketing,” says Jeremy Farber, President and Founder, PC Recycler.

Farber’s team added between 20% and 30% to its marketing budget over the last year to avoid losing ground, and in hopes of gaining market share, he says. That created several new processes and a lot more work for the electronic waste management service’s marketing team.

Last fall, after the budget increase, the marketing team was distressed. It could not keep up with looming deadlines unless cuts were made or an additional person hired. Being based in the metro Washington D.C. area, Farber did not want to hire another marketing manager.

“A white collar job around here is expensive.”

Instead, the team tested using Lyris HQ, a search, email and analytics software package. The tool combined several of the team’s separate processes into one platform — saving a ton of time, Farber says.

“We’re getting more work done now with the same budget and the same people, which obviously is translating into better ROI.”

Farber estimates that using the tool is about 60% to 70% less than the cost of hiring another person. On top of that, the tool proved more effective than some of the separate systems that the team previously used. For example, the insights gleaned from Lyris’ Web analytics revealed ways to boost conversion rates from paid search marketing — the team’s number one lead generator.

So even though the Chinese word for crisis is not exactly “danger” and “opportunity,” a down economy is still not a good time to cut a marketing budget. Instead, it’s a time to look for greater efficiencies.

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Two Weeks Notice: Seeking Speakers For Demand Generation Summit

May 7th, 2009 No comments

In case you haven’t seen the link in our newsletters or on our homepage, we’re currently accepting speaking proposals for our 2009 B-to-B Demand Generation Summit.

With the deadline for submissions just two weeks away — May 21 — I wanted to give our readers another heads up. This is your chance to stand up and share your best practices, most successful campaign tactics, or insights into what works now in B2B marketing.

Again, we’re most interested in your own experiences, campaign war stories, case studies and lessons learned in areas such as:
o Lead nurturing
o Lead scoring
o International demand generation
o B-to-B email
o Paid search advertising and SEO
o Social media marketing
o Events
o Creating marketing content

Take a few minutes to submit your proposal here.

Don’t forget, this the the Summit will be held September 23-24 in San Francisco, and October 5-6 in Waltham, MA.

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The Cardinal Sins of B2B Search Engine Marketing

April 9th, 2009 2 comments

I recently came across a great free resource for B2B marketers looking for tips on starting or refining their PPC campaigns for lead generation. Todd Miechiels, a B2B search engine marketing expert, has compiled his list of the “7 Cardinal Sins of B2B Search Engine Marketing.” It features such missteps as:
o Not Establishing a Clear and Realistic Goal
o Not Being Diligent About Testing and Refining

The upshot of Miechiels’ report is that PPC campaigns are so easy to start that marketers often jump into a project without the proper planning, research and budget required to generate significant results and actionable lessons to improve their campaigns.

After reading the report, I was inspired to humbly offer an eighth “cardinal sin”:

- Sin #8. Neglecting your PPC landing pages

When developing a PPC campaign, marketers may be so focused on the mechanics of the search channel – such as keyword selection, ad placement, or bidding strategies – that they forget to focus on the action prospects are supposed to take once they’ve clicked on a search ad.

Landing pages are the lynchpin of PPC campaigns. A click isn’t a lead until you’ve convinced that prospect to take an action and provide some information about themselves that will allow you to continue nurturing the lead.

So when planning a PPC campaign, you may even want to work backwards from your landing page, focusing on key elements that will influence your conversion rate, such as:
o Headlines and body copy – Does the searcher know they’re in the right place and understand the value of your offer?
o Design and layout – Do the text and graphic elements offer a clear eye path to get prospects toward the call to action?
o Call to action – Is it obvious what step you’re asking prospects to take next?
o Registration form requirements – How much information do you *really* need from prospects in exchange for the offer?

If you’re confident that your landing page is optimized to generate conversions, you then can build out the PPC campaigns you’ll use to drive traffic to those pages.

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Avoid PR Bombs in Social Media

November 14th, 2008 No comments

Just in case you needed another reason to monitor social media, the Economist had a quick article last week about two airlines’ response to PR bombshells that detonated on Facebook.

The airlines’ staff members were joking about cockroaches on board and smelly passengers–not exactly good PR. The companies discovered the comments only after customer complaints and press reports started coming in.

Monitoring social media–like blogs, social networks and bookmarking sites–gives you a good idea of your company’s online reputation. And it will help you find employees badmouthing the company before your customers do.

Monitoring is only part of the solution, though. You need to have policies against disparaging the company, and you need to remind your staff that what they say online stretches across the planet.

On a side note, I’m starting to think that monitoring social media can have amazing benefits. Alan Scott, CMO, Dow Jones, told me in a recent interview that Dow Jones identifies trends and customer preferences by crunching data from its social sites and others across the Web. That’s a heck of a way to judge your market.

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Double-Check Lead Quality with Telemarketing Audio

November 5th, 2008 3 comments

Are you recording the telemarking calls made by your in-house or outsourced lead nurturing team? If not, you could me missing an important resource for:

Read more…

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How Early to Send Email Campaigns?

October 21st, 2008 No comments

For the last few months, MarketingExperiments has been testing which times of the morning work best for their webinar announcements. The results — in terms of number of signups — have been surprising. Read more…

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Teamwork Turns Leads into Sales

October 13th, 2008 No comments

Teamwork is essential to any project involving more than one person. Strong teams are more efficient, reliable and create work of higher quality. It’s impossible for your marketing team to be at its best if it’s not working together. Read more…

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