Author Archive

Lead Generation: It’s all about building relationships

August 4th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

“I think at its core, lead generation is really about relationships,” said Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Revenue Optimization, MECLABS.

In a recent interview, Brian sat down with Steve Gershik of to talk a little shop about the fundamentals of lead generation, what’s new (and unchanged) in the world of the complex sale, and how empathy marketing is the way forward.


Here’s a transcript of that discussion:


Steve Gershik: My guest today is Brian Carroll. Brian is an old friend of mine, CEO of In Touch, which is a MECLABS company and an author of the industry defining book, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, which I think you started writing probably 10 years ago, is that right Brian?

Brian Carroll: Yeah, we are coming up on 10 years.

Steve: That’s crazy! So much time has passed!

I want to ask you about the book. It was certainly a book that changed the way that I think about demand generation in so many ways and you were, really as I started a blog on demand generation, I look to your writing as an example for the right thing to do and you are still bogging and podcasting today a decade later.

Brian: It’s hard to believe. Steve I always enjoyed your work as well and I am really glad to be with you.

Steve: So 10 years ago, you published Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. When you wrote it 10 years ago it was published short time after that. What’s changed since then?

Brian: I think a number of things have changed. What I think is the way people are buying has really amassed. If you look at statistics like 60% of adults have smart phones for example, which is changed. I remember 10 years ago, people just had BlackBerries and now everybody has something it seems. And so our personal life, or business life, have become enmeshed. And what I have observed is B2B buyers are buying a lot like consumers because our lives are enmeshed.

So that’s changed as well as social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter; [back then] those things really hadn’t taken off to the degree they [now] have so that’s changed a lot as well, just in terms of always on, connected. There are still a number of things that stayed the same but those are the biggest change is that I have seen.

Steve: Now as you reflect back on the book, what are the types of things that you think the ideas in there that are enduring? So somebody can go back and read Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and it is still as applicable today as it was back then?

Brian: I think at its core, lead generation is really about relationships and to the key idea is around being able to identify the right people and the right companies and having a way of initiating memorable conversations and then being able to nurture that dialogue that you started regardless if they are starting to buy with these people — instead of leads, thinking of them like future customers.

So I think most of the fundamental ideas, when I go and right now I’m going to be doing revised edition of my book; 75% of it probably is going to remain unchanged mainly because these were bedrock principles and I am relying on 185 sources that I share in my book, not just my own resources but from many people.

What we found is, knowing who your customers are, getting alignment between sales, marketing and what a lead means. Then being able to articulate your value proposition; not just understand your sales process but to really understand your customers buying process. Ideas like that are enduring and there are very few things that I invented.

What was different about my book is that I took a holistic view; brought many other people’s ideas together in a way to codify that idea to try to take the mystery out of this thing called the complex sale and how we generate leads for it.

Steve: So I’ll put you on the spot and ask you to grade the industry overall.

So you put together the instruction manual for really how to do buyer centric, human-based, B2B marketing and let’s say the industries had plenty of time to receive your message and absorb it; how are people doing? How is B2B market doing in your assessment?

Brian: Well, when I wrote my book I would say industry in my opinion was at a D. I think that we are now approaching C+ level and that is definitely progress.

A year ago MarketingSherpa, our sister company, did research and found still over 72% of the marketers we surveyed send leads directly to sales without qualifying them. So that was one of the things we looked at and one of the biggest reasons why 80% of leads are being lost or being, ignored or discarded when Marketing hands them to Sales or they call themselves so-called qualified marketing leads.

They really don’t match the sales team’s expectations. So I would say from an industry perspective, we have quite a long ways to go. I do want to give a lot of credit to the market automation companies who have been part of influencing the industry.

I know that you’ve worked with Eloqua at the time and a lot of things have happened with many of the companies and consolidation is taking place but what we realized is tools aren’t going to drive transformation — they support it. They support collaboration, but we still need to have some fundamental ideas about why we are doing what we are doing and then have people understand the “why” and then we can decide the “what” and the “how.”

So those are three things I still think are gaps and we’ll continue to beat our drum to effect that change.

Steve: I was excited to hear that you were working on a brand-new book in addition to updating your classic book.

Brian: Yeah.

Steve: Talk about what this new book is about and what made you decide to write it now.

Brian: Well, I don’t even have a working title for the book but what it’s really coming down to this idea empathetic marketing or servant marketing.

This is something that has been near and dear to me which is the main gap I see is that often times us as marketers, sellers or companies; think in a sociopathic behavior in terms of, “How do I get what I want?” And what was driving me is that I have been seeing that if we look at serving our customers and instead of that, given this is something we talk about, but really isn’t practiced.

We aren’t necessarily practicing what we preach, which is putting our customers first.

What I see happening is that we operate out of a place of company-logic instead of customer-logic and so what I have been seeing is that at its core, marketing has a huge opportunity and responsibility to drive transformation inside their companies. And what I am looking to do is have the marketers inside of the organizations, they can have a longer-term view than Sales that is typically focused on the short-term one or two quarters.

They are looking at, “How do we generate revenue now and meet the immediate needs?” But I think Marketing has a huge opportunity to be thinking about the future and how do we serve our customers better? Whether there are needs and wants. And instead of me trying to look at it’s just from my point of view, I need to understand how the customer thinks through the process.

So what I am doing is just writing in terms of bringing this culture of marketing, this idea of transforming marketing inside companies and so it’s going to be less of a tactical book but it’s more about idea and transformative book to help those who want to lead and drive this change and in effect, restore honor to marketing which I think in a lot of ways.

I would like to ask you a question that someone asked you what you did, I don’t know what you would say but sometimes I would say, “Well, I am in marketing.” And people aren’t excited by that. They think I am manipulating people or they may judge that I am in advertising or all those things that’s about not having relevance, not connecting with needs and in the effect trying to pitch people or make people do something they wouldn’t otherwise do, either [through] trickery are other things.

You and I both know Steve that’s not what we’re looking to do but that in effect sometimes our companies, in the interest to drive profits and drive revenue, are forcing us where we are looking at what can we get now in the short-term and then abusing tired and weak strategies that no longer work, which our customers ultimately ignore and we miss that opportunity to really connect and add value.

So if I were to sum it all up, it would be two things — instead of trying to be interesting, be interested in your customer and that really starts by listening.

Steve: You said that a lot of marketing is sociopathic. Now, that’s got a really negative connotation. Talk about how you know if your marketing is sociopathic?

Brian: Well I think it is the definition of sociopathic really is being focused on getting what you want at the expense of someone else. There isn’t a fair value exchange taking place. And so what I have learned in terms of working at MECLABS and we spent a lot of time here studying and trying to ask answer one question which is, “Why do customers ultimately say ‘yes’?”

And what I found is, if you think of the popular movie that came out, “Wolf on Wall Street,” that exemplifies sociopathic behavior.

Steve: Yeah, that’s a great example!

Brian: At the highest!

So that is taken to the extreme, but it is that type of behavior why I think many businesses are struggling. So I think we need to embrace empathy on every level because customers are more sophisticated and they have access to more information. They really are looking at understanding what it is, how do they get what they want, we need to know what that is and give it to them and that requires us thinking like our customer, putting ourselves in their place. Instead of just trying to optimize our marketing, we need to understand is how our customers are really thinking and feeling.

Steve: Now that sounds great! But there are wolves in our own companies and many places. Sometimes those wolves are dressed as salespeople, sometimes they are dressed as finance people, and sometimes they are dressed as our marketing colleagues.

How do you resist the pressure to perform these shortcuts to get people stuffed into your sales funnel as opposed to doing what you are talking about? I guess the question is about to the organization; how do you get consensus in your organization that you are going to change the way that you interact with your customers?

Brian: Well I think that the biggest piece, and this is part of the reason why I am writing my book and I wanted to share a quick story with you. I am actually looking to find other stories and proof points and this is something where.

What we are working on ultimately and what I am working on is collecting the evidence to show companies and marketers that putting their customers first actually has some financial benefits. I want to give you a quick example; this is a company that is a collections agency and I am working actually on lining up an interview with their CEO. And you wouldn’t think of a collections agency practicing empathy…

Steve: Not at all!

Brian: … or putting their customers first.

Steve: Sure!

Brian: Two things that struck me about this company; number one, they received endorsements from Mother Teresa.

Secondly, the president of the company was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. So I wanted to figure out who this company was and why these things are happening and here is what it was — they just started with understanding at the core, their customer didn’t pay their bills and they went to collections for a reason.

It wasn’t necessarily because they had bad debt and when I first started my company, I couldn’t get a line of credit because I had made bad decisions in college and I got a called by collection agents and so I could relate to what was going on and I didn’t have the means at that time to pay.

So I got hounded and anyway, what they said is, “Why is it that people don’t pay?” They started studying the research and they started, instead of hiring collections people, they hired people who actually have customer service background. And instead of calling customers to do things like collect a bill, what they did is they actually incentivized their customer service reps to call customers to find out what it is and the incentivized them based on how many free services they gave away.

Some may not pay their bill because they need a job or the name needed childcare or they had a spouse or a parent that had long-term health issues; all these things.

And here is the bottom line, they gave away free services and customers didn’t trust them. They are like, “Why do you want to help me?” And so this is where we need to answer these questions inside our companies.

They could say this, and this is the truth — when we help you do better financially, we make more money. And what’s interesting about this company is that their average collections 200% above the industry average per customer. And so my point is, they didn’t start with, “How do we get more collections?” They started with, “How do we serve our customer?” And understanding why it is they don’t pay their bills and then actually help solve that.

They are not in the collections business, they are actually in the business of helping transform people’s financial lives. It’s a very different thing.

Steve: That’s a fascinating story.

Of course you hear these stories about obviously Zappos, was hugely popular company, how they created a culture that was focused around their customers and you hear stories about their retail chain, Nordstrom and how they go above and beyond for their customers.

How do you as a marketer inside your company, say you are in a marketing organization, how do you start to change the mindset of your company to start thinking the way that you are talking about? You are not the CEO and you haven’t been recognized by Mother Teresa yet like so many of us, but you know that this is the right thing to do.

How do you actually get started?

Brian: Well the first place I would say is, number one put the customer first and then I would say if you are a marketer, get close to your customers.

So if you have a complex sale and you have salespeople, get close to your sales team and go out with them and actually spend time talking to your customers. And so listen and seek to understand is what Stephen Covey taught us in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

So now do we know why our customers are saying yes? Why are they buying from us? What steps are they taking and read in the backside, what difference have we made? What are the gaps and problems they have?

Because what I find is, is that we as marketing need to be empathetic and intuitive to listen and understand. The only way we can do that is to get to the people who are talking to their customers or talk to our customers directly. I would say come at it not from a marketing point of view but really just being people with people, have a real conversation. So don’t look at how I am going to take this knowledge and put it on another campaign. I really think that we need to think of marketing as a conversation instead of pushing my agenda.

What I want to know is demonstrate first of all a good conversation starts with two people who are interested in hearing what one another has to say and so this is where I would say in some companies it means you need to be interested in the world of your salespersons because they are your customers B2B marketer. And then you also have your outside customer whom they are looking to reach.

You need to influence both. So that is how I would say and there is certainly a lot more that I could add but that’s the place I would start.

Steve: Now a lot of folks are new to marketing, young marketers in their career or marketers looking to advance inside of the career of marketing. What are some of those essential skills that you would recommend that these marketers acquire in order to continue to advance in their careers?

Brian: I think the marketers that are going to grow today and I look around and I see there is a gap right now in leadership and the biggest skill I think marketers need to develop is empathy. That is something that can be learned. Some people are naturally more gifted, but that’s really being really understanding and building influence with people starts with connecting with them.

So I would say that empathy is an essential skill.

The other thing that I would say is from an internal perspective get influence with how your company works and so I would say that marketers really need to have a connection that it’s not about moving a KPI like how many emails you are sending or getting opened or how many new subscribers get your newsletter or how many more completions you get on the form, but get influence.

Influence, in terms of understanding what’s the impact of marketing, so for example, rather than looking at how do we get more leads, I would start answering questions like, what percentage of pipeline is the leadership team looking for marketing to contribute?

So getting influence in the language of your business and the language of your customer [are] two essential skills I think marketers need to have

I think the third thing is just being more, in their view, more open in terms of collaborating and that’s working with people who are in proximity to your customer. And so really getting close to those who understand your customer whether that’s the sales team, inside sales team, sales engineers, customer service people, building relationships with other groups.

I think those marketers are going to be leaders in companies, they are leaders who can bring down the silos; last side of the information technology. I have seen reports, I don’t know that I necessarily agree.

That’s just the CMOS spend more in technology than the CTO. At least more companies and exposed to I don’t think that’s the case. Only time will tell but I would say that realize that you need to be the glue that’s bringing all the other parts together with that focus on the customer.

Steve: As part of MECLABS, you get a front row seat at really some of the interesting trends that are developing.

Brian: Yeah.

Steve: Research that is coming out. What are some of the interesting things that you are seeing these days?

Brian: Well, there are a lot of things.

The first thing I would say is we have seen that across the board, marketing channels in general are having lower and lower response rates.

We did a study of B2B buyers and what we found is that when we looked at those who influenced the buying decision versus those who are the decision-makers, the influencers felt in the area of 70% of the time, they were the ones who discovered the vendor they ultimately bought from.

And the other side, decision-makers felt 80% of the time they were the ones who discovered the vendor. So to me I found that really interesting when you consider all the billions of dollars spent on marketing, that the customers are the ones feeling they are the ones who found the company they ultimately bought from which I thought was pretty fascinating.

Steve: Well it’s interesting and it helps inform our marketing right? So if we can help them feel like they discovered our companies, then we would have achieved something significant!

Brian: Yes, yeah and Steve, that’s the biggest thing that I have also seen, it’s just there is more and more companies beginning to embrace and that would be the second thing I have seen, testing and optimization is moving from a theory and a concept a few companies employ and in fact bringing science to marketing.

That we’ve seen a huge shift in more marketers embracing, seeing optimization in titles, I am seeing testing being done and testing platforms used.

So more and more marketers aren’t just guessing but they are actually looking to build evidence to understand what their customers are doing and why they are doing it and also figuring out how to be better at marketing and connecting with their customer, too.

Steve: Brian, thanks for joining me here today.

Brian: Thank you!

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Lead Capture: How undermining value impacts conversion

July 21st, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Less is not always necessarily more when it comes to a lead capture process.

I say this in light of best practices that often argue otherwise.

In this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, we’ll examine a recent experiment in which the MECLABS research team explored how undermining the value you offer prospects can potentially impact your conversion.

Before we jump in, however, here are some of the notes on the testing to add some context and perspective on the experiment.

Background: An addiction and mental health rehabilitation facility.

Goal: To increase the total number of leads captured.

Primary Research Question: Which page will obtain the most form submissions?

Approach: A/B multifactor split

Version A



Version A of the lead capture page featured a long-copy format with information on the treatment facilities and a call-to-action located below the fold at the bottom of the page.

Version B



Version B was a much shorter page with a rotating banner and the call-to-action moved above the fold.




In this case, the shorter length of the page made it more difficult for the right customers to gain the information they needed.

By decreasing the length, conversions also decreased 69%.

I like this experiment because it illustrates the need for testing best practices to optimize for your audience.

Prospects are seeking not just the right amount of information, but rather, the right degree of value within that information to help them make a decision.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about how to avoid undermining conversion with your prospects, check out the “Radio Buttons vs. Dropdowns” Web clinic replay.

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Lead Nurturing: Why good call scripts are built on storytelling [More from the blogs]

3 Factors that Connect Value Prop to Prospects [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: Streamlining the process for quality over quantity [More from the blogs]

Ecommerce: 3 vital marketing resources to explore before your next email send

July 18th, 2014

Email marketing has emerged as a staple in ecommerce.

Seemingly countless companies use emails to flood our inboxes with a galaxy of promotions and product offers.

How can you stand out in an already overcrowded inbox?

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, I’ve included a few resources from our content library and publications that you can use to aid your email marketing efforts.


Read – Email Marketing: Jewelry retailer integrates product recommendations into email campaigns to lift opens 9% 


How it can help

This case study from Allison Banko, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, shares how fine jewelry retailer Heirlume integrated product recommendations into its email programs, tailored to male and female audiences.

Segmentation is already a best practice, so the real payoff here is in basing content on user behavior to help you deliver relevant products directly to your customers.


Watch – Brand Value: Ecommerce marketing on a global scale


How it can help

Delivering a consistent brand experience in your emails to customers around the globe gets harder the bigger you grow.

Consequently, one thing to consider according to Rob Garf, Vice President, Industry Strategy, Demandware, is when exposing brands to new cultures, marketers must understand the experience is all about the customer.

“It comes down to really being entrenched in how consumers behave and how they want to interact with the brand,” he said.

Check out more interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE featuring a wide range of speakers like Rob who represent a variety of brands including: Fathead, Website Magazine, Digital River, Save-A-Lot, Demandware, Joyus and eBay, among many others.

Read more…

Lead Nurturing: Why good call scripts are built on storytelling

July 14th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

In teleprospecting, it’s not just about what you “ask” prospects; it’s about when you ask them. This is where a lot of teleprospecting gets it wrong. Intuitively, fast, upfront and to-the-point seems like a sound approach and I’m a big fan of brevity.

But, I also believe in timing and sequence, as both can make or break conversion.

In this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, we’ll break down a call script used for voicemails from a lead nurturing experiment to better understand how positioning your “ask” at the right time can aid your lead nurturing efforts.

Breaking down your script into sections can help you diagnose problems


In the control for this experiment, the voicemail script could be divided into four sections:

  1. An introduction
  2. The company identifier
  3. The follow-up from previous touch point
  4. The “ask”

Know when to flip (and rip up) the script


The MECLABS research team hypothesized the follow-up section, or part 3 in the control, was buried too deep in script and should be moved up in the treatment.


The team also included a new sentence that further justified the reason for calling. The copy changes were hypothesized to deliver a prospect-level appeal of letting us “work with your consultant” instead of “doing the work yourself.”


The new treatment script aligned every sentence into a carefully crafted argument that increased conversion 31%.

Build scripts to tell prospects your story

Ultimately, the big takeaway here is people arrange their thoughts in story format.

As a consequence, how you arrange the story in your marketing efforts will make the difference between delivering information of true value, or just another frustrating sales pitch prospects don’t want to hear.

Value craves sequence, for sequence is the mother of perfect timing.

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Lead Nurturing Tested [See the full Web clinic replay for more on this experiment plus insights on lead nurturing tactics]

Digital Marketing: How to craft a value proposition in 5 simple steps [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: The power of copy [More from the blogs]

Email Marketing: Do you test your legacy marketing? [More from the blogs]

Email Marketing: Don’t let email own the ecommerce showroom floor

July 11th, 2014

According to the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study (free download at that link), email was one of the most frequent sources of ecommerce traffic for organizations across every revenue range.

Email marketing being at the forefront of ecommerce marketing tactics is quite obvious when you consider the mass of storefronts that greet you with an email squeeze before you can even get to the shelves.



It works, but only to a degree. According to Ben Pressley, Head of Worldwide Sales, Magento, there is one big problem.

Ben, who was accompanied with Pete Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief, Website Magazine, joined Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, at MarketingSherpa’s Media Center at IRCE to discuss the state of ecommerce in 2014.

As Ben explained, email now owns the showroom floor because it’s where a lot of organizations attribute revenue, perhaps even when they shouldn’t.

“Email and search are the two top channels in marketing, no surprise there,” Ben explained, “But I think we would classify that as having the approach of last-touch attribution, where you’re giving credit to the channel that didn’t necessarily stimulate the demand; you’re giving the credit to the channel that brought you the sale.”

Read more…

Ecommerce: Why going global really means going local

July 8th, 2014

Global ecommerce is growing.

With that growth comes two insights:

One is satisfaction on my part in seeing fellow anthropologists land jobs at Microsoft and Absolut Vodka to aid in marketing research.

The other part of that growth is the realization among savvy ecommerce marketers that delivering a consistent brand experience in a multi-cultural global marketplace is not going to be easy.

I say this in light of the recent interview between MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko and Rob Garf, Vice President, Industry Strategy, Demandware, in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition.

Rob, who spoke at IRCE this year in Chicago, shared his thoughts on how preserving brand value and relevance across multiple cultures will be vital to delivering a consistent brand experience in new markets.


Brands looking to expand their reach into new cultures need to understand: It’s not about you; it’s about the locals.

“It comes down to really being entrenched in how consumers behave and how they want to interact with the brand,” Rob explained. “One key aspect is to have a local presence.”

If you want to see more interviews from ecommerce experts and in-the-trenches marketers, visit

Want to dig deeper into what’s working in ecommerce today? Download the MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study for insights gathered from 4,346 marketers on everything from what’s happening to the ecommerce landscape, to which strategies successful ecommerce companies are employing.

Read more…

3 Factors that Connect Value Prop to Prospects

July 7th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

There is one question at the heart of lead generation that your marketing efforts should clearly answer.

“If I am you ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than your competitors?”

To put this into perspective, take a few moments and ask yourself, “Do I clearly and succinctly state the core value proposition of the product or service that I am marketing?”

In other words, what’s the elevator pitch for what you offer in the marketplace?

Take a moment to write it down.

Here are a few examples of poor value propositions from the MECLABS Value Proposition Development Course to help you identify value claims that may need a little work:

  • “We empower you software decisions.”
  • “I don’t sell products and services; I sell results — my guarantee.”
  • “We help companies find their passion and purpose.”
  • “We are the world’s leading [our jargon goes here] provider.”
  • “We have the solution your company is looking for.”

Now, let’s be honest as we’re among friends here.

If your answer was close to any of these, then you’re not offering value.

What you are actually offering is hype, bland-vertising and the creature comforts of company jargon that only you understand. I would also suggest that your marketing is likely underperforming as a result and could use a little work on value proposition development.

In this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, we’ll look at three factors you should consider when crafting value propositions that you can use to aid your lead generation efforts.

It’s all about connecting prospects to the right value


Before we go further, let’s put some context around digging a little deeper into value prop using the illustration of value proposition spectrum above.

When you answer the question of why customers should buy from you rather than anyone else, it’s a great starting point for really understanding the overall value your organization delivers.

However, the move from broad brush understanding of a company’s value proposition to the granular level of value prospects are looking for is where many marketers become lost.


Think of it this way:

A primary value proposition is why you buy from Apple or Microsoft.

For example, the prospect level value is why a CEO would choose a laptop with business class specs over a standard model.

Essentially, it’s where you take the big idea of value proposition and laser focus it to help you deliver the right message to the right people.

Here a few factors to consider that will help you do that using the three prospects in the example above.

Factor #1. Objective

The objective in your value proposition is where you move from finding purpose to finding focus.

To help you do that, you have to think about a prospect’s main goals and desired outcomes.

For a CEO, their objective is, perhaps, “I must increase the financial performance of my organization.”

This translates to new pressures for the business manager who “must achieve X amount of revenue by the end of the year.”

This is also where understanding how your product or service addresses existing pain points and deficiencies will really pay off.

Factor #2. Motivation

Motivation is tough to nail down and really differs at an individual level.

So a good place to start is by asking, “What are the core motivations that drive this prospect’s actions?”

I told you this would not be easy.

But here a hint: A little research on your existing customers will also help you understand some common prospect motivations for your offerings, and you may even discover a few patterns you never knew existed.

Factor #3. Experience

What are the past experiences of the prospect?

A prospect’s prior experiences will factor into their decision-making process.

Considering your prospect’s previous experiences when crafting your messaging can help your lead nurturing efforts by addressing how perceptions can impact choice.

Value proposition is the gateway to trust

All of these factors are helpful in building (or reworking) your value proposition, but they are still just a means to an end.

The value in your claims is only a gateway to building trust with prospects.

You still have to deliver on those claims, and more importantly, you have to recognize they are now more than claims.

They are a promise exchanged for trust and made payable to customers who will look to you to make good on those promises — or to your competitors if you don’t.

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Email Marketing: Do you test your legacy marketing? [More from the blogs]

2 Tough Questions to Ask About Your Content Marketing Strategy

June 24th, 2014

At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute, shared some of the forgotten strategies for generating epic content.

One of those strategies revealed how creating a mission statement for your content can help you define the desired outcome for your content marketing efforts.

So in today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, I wanted to share two questions every marketer should ask about their mission statement to help craft (or refine) the ultimate purpose for content creation.


Question #1. Is our purpose clear?



Here are two examples Joe shared of mission statements that are clear and concise in their purpose and intent. They also have one other unique similarity that’s worth mentioning.

Their focus is exclusively on helping customers instead of trying to sell to them, or as Joe explained:

“It’s not about trying to sell more,” Joe said, “It’s about what is the outcome for my persona.”


Question #2. Who does our content serve?



Joe also explained that creating a mission statement help fill in the strategy gaps is essential to give content a much needed targeted focus.

“This is part of the strategy that most of us don’t have,” Joe explained.

Here are three recommendations Joe had for crafting (or refining) your content marketing mission statement:

  • Core target audience – Who is your persona? What are you talking to?
  • What will be delivered? – Is this information useful?
  • The outcomes for the audience – What will your audience get out of consuming your content?

Read more…

Email Marketing: 3 lead nurture paths you should automate

June 23rd, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Marketing automation can help you manage lead nurturing efforts in a complex marketplace.

So where do you even begin in terms of an automation strategy?

In today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, we’ll look at three lead nurture tracks you should automate to aid your email marketing efforts from a MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013 presentation featuring Keith Lincoln, Vice President of Marketing, SmartBear.

Path #1. Separate users from prospects


When you boil down behavior automation, using prospect actions as triggers for email sends ultimately creates a list within a list as you separate product users from potential prospects.

As Keith explained, the product download is where the track begins, followed by responding to those product usages with emails offering helpful content.

“The next thing we want to be able to tell our team is: Did they activate the software, or are they using it?” Keith asked.

Path #2. Turn users into customers


Automating a sales nurturing track is significantly different from a content nurturing track as it turns up the dial on complexity.

In this case, prospect behaviors trigger email sends based on a conversion process to turn free, one-time users to paid, ongoing customers.

“This is a little bit more complex than finding out if they are just activating the software,” Keith said.

Keith also explained how the sales nurturing track has been helpful in delivering additional customer intelligence to Sales on where customers are within the conversion process.

Path #3. Remind users the clock is ticking


Campaign-based triggers are probably the easiest of the three tracks to set up, and they also acknowledge the elephant in the room with free trials — time will eventually run out.

Using your free trial timeline can help you deliver helpful content to prospects when they might need it the most.

You can’t automate trust

As I mentioned at the start of this post, automation can help you manage lead nurturing, but you can’t automate trust.

Trust is earned by being helpful, relevant and honest with your prospects.

To learn more about how marketing automation impacts lead generation, you can watch the exclusive MarketingSherpa on-demand replay of “The Marketing Automation and Autonomy Paradox.”

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Why Savvy Marketers Establish Affiliate Relationships with Bloggers

June 20th, 2014

Having in-house bloggers on your marketing team can keep your content flowing, but there are limits to the audience they can reach.

One way to solve this challenge, according to Carolyn Kmet, Chief Marketing Officer, All Inclusive Marketing, is strategically recruiting third-party bloggers outside of your team to help deliver the right mix of credibility and content that can reach new audiences.

At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, MarketingSherpa hosted the event’s official Media Center. Our team of reporters interviewed marketers from across a variety of business verticals to learn insights on what works in ecommerce marketing.

As Carolyn explained to Allison Banko, Reporter, MECLABS, third-party bloggers can deliver additional exposure opportunities for your brand.

“Bloggers can position brands beyond traditional reach,” Carolyn explained.


According to the MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study, less than 40% of all companies surveyed utilize affiliate marketing as a traffic driver to an ecommerce site. Using bloggers as affiliates can help with driving traffic from audiences outside of your reach.

The trick is, as Carolyn explained, is to build relationships with bloggers and offer them content opportunities that make exposing your brand to their audience worthwhile.

To do that, she often recruits third-party bloggers outside of her team as affiliates and helps them access industry thought leaders for interviews that would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain otherwise.

The affiliates create content from those interviews to share with their respective audiences.

“There’s a lot of transparency, Carolyn said. “It gives them fresh content for their audiences.”

Read more…