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Personalized Marketing: Choosing your targets wisely

May 22nd, 2015
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A recent MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter case study, “Personalization Marketing: In-trial messages increased online registrations by 15% for a B2B SaaS,” covered Brainshark, a cloud-based B2B service for training, sales conversions and marketing. The case study examined how Brainshark pushed personalized messaging on users of a freemium product that offered a scaled down version of one of its main enterprise products.

These messages took the form of informational and educational tips about using the freemium products and promotions for other free Brainshark products, while offering to upgrade to the paid version.

The freemium product, myBrainshark, creates video presentations out of static data, such as presentation slide shows, spreadsheet data, PDFs and other written content. Although Brainshark targets business users director-level and above in sales training, enablement and operations, the freemium product attracted more than just attention from business users. Arthur Gehring, Vice President of Demand Generation, Brainshark, said educators were another main user base.

He explained, “It’s amazing how much kids today are using technology like this in the classroom. It’s really cool. A lot of high schools, elementary schools, use myBrainshark as a learning aid.”

Arthur continued, “Those people — we’re not as interested in trying to sell them an enterprise product.”

At the same time, for Brainshark’s actual target audience, Arthur said the team wanted to know more about those users and used analytics to see what they were looking for. He described it as, “[trying to] help them and hopefully provide more value to them.”

 

Making registration quick and painless

To register for myBrainshark, new users only have to provide a screen name and email and create a password. Arthur said the small number of form fields was to drive as many registrations as possible.

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Content Marketing: Web-based tools to help your prospects (and your marketing)

February 22nd, 2011
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Content marketing goes well beyond publishing text-based material. Your company can provide videos, slide decks, Twitter feeds and even Web-based tools — like ClickMail’s ESPinator.

ClickMail pairs companies with email service providers (ESPs) and helps them establish effective programs. For years, its marketers have published a blog and an annual PDF guide about selecting ESPs.

“We’ve always felt that we had a clear view of the strengths and weaknesses of the various ESPs,” says Marco Marini, CEO, ClickMail. “From that, we evolved into an annual guide on selecting the best one. It’s completely vendor-neutral. It doesn’t talk about any vendors at all, just what the factors are.”

The ESPinator is the next step in that strategy, Marini says. Launched last month, the tool asks users a series of questions and suggests up to three ESPs that are well-suited to their needs.ESPinator screen shot

“Every vendor at a trade show says their solution is the best. There truly isn’t a best solution. It all depends on what your specific needs are,” Marini says.

“There are more than 30 ESPs in the tool, and we don’t have a relationship with the vast majority of them. So this is truly more for the email marketing audience.”

Upfront investment vs. long-term upkeep

Content marketing requires investment. Someone has to create the content and it has to be really, really good. You can either invest your time or pay someone else. Either way, there is no free lunch.

This is also true of ClickMail’s ESPinator, which took over two years to create and is still in beta. One of the biggest challenges was building its scoring system. Each ESP had to be scored in various categories so it could be matched against a user’s needs.

One such category is each ESP’s depth of integration with salesforce.com, a popular CRM solutions provider.

“All [salesforce.com] integrations are not created equal among ESPs,” says Cameron Kane, CTO, ClickMail, who headed the project. “Some may synch simply contact data, some synch lead and contact data, some work with custom objects, some will not work with custom objects” and so on.

– Keeping content alive

Some types of content — such as books — require a onetime investment. Once a book is published, it’s published. Blogs, on the other hand, require on-going investment or they will wither and die. ClickMail’s tool is somewhere in the middle and will require updates.

“When an ESP on that list comes up with a new version or enhancements, we need to go back and modify the scores on those areas that they have potentially improved,” Marini says.

Marketing plans to attract attention

The ESPinator is so new that ClickMail has just begun its promotion. The team launched it at the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Summit last month — the industry’s largest event — and plans to do more soon.

Ideas they are kicking around include:

  • Offering co-branding partnerships to companies
  • Offering the tool to prospects as part of the lead-nurturing process
  • Pitching the tool to industry press and blogs (like this one) to score inbound links

Ultimately, the team hopes that the ESPinator provides a useful service and helps attract attention to ClickMail and its services. Furthermore, the tool’s calculated suggestions will help position ClickMail as a company that is well-suited to help marketers choose email providers.

“When you say content marketing, I immediately think of thought leadership,” Marini says. “Our company philosophy is to show that value upfront without asking for anything.”

Related resources

MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Summit 2011: 7 takeaways to improve results

MarketingSherpa German Email Marketing Summit 2011

Content Marketing: How to get your subject matter experts on your corporate blog

B2B Marketing: What to look for in 2011

January 6th, 2011
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Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to chat with Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Applied Research at MECLABS, the parent company for MarketingSherpa, about the current state of B2B marketing, and what marketers can look forward to in 2011.

Our discussion covered three main areas — the alignment of Marketing and Sales, marketing automation tools and marketing operations as new a position within Marketing — and how all three are related.

For those attending MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011 (January 24-26 in Las Vegas), Brian will be moderating a panel entitled, “How to Develop Content for Specific Buying Stages” as a B2B breakout session on Day 2.

Aligning Marketing and Sales

B2B marketers are being pressured to prove their value, particularly in terms of being able to contribute measurable revenue, and the struggle is that marketers are not fully in control of the process. Essentially marketers do not get to own a lead from first contact to close. Leads are generated and at some point the baton is handed to Sales to, “run the race and win,” as Brian put it.

He explained to me, “A lot of marketers don’t really understand the challenges facing salespeople today because they haven’t been a salesperson themselves. So there is the age-old debate around Sales and Marketing alignment, which is — Marketing wishes salespeople would act on their leads and give them feedback, and the salespeople wish that Marketing would actually give them leads, or at least more of the good leads and less of the bad, because they want real opportunities.”

Brian said the big theme is: the alignment of Sales and Marketing will drive results from the top of the funnel to the bottom line. Many B2B marketers understand that aligning Marketing and Sales is a net gain for both departments and the entire company, and evidence of that can be found in the MarketingSherpa 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report where research found that lead quality is a top priority for B2B marketers.

And to go back to Marketing proving its value in terms of revenue? Brian said the key metric more and more executives are looking to Marketing for is the expense-to-revenue ratio, that is, the expense of marketing efforts to the revenue produced.

Marketing Automation

According to Brian, marketing automation is not going to solve every problem, but it’s a great start to help marketers. He did caution that often starting a marketing automation effort can expose more problems than it solves. It can expose things like the weakness of the data quality marketers are using. So it’s important to remember marketing automation is a tool, but it won’t do the work for you.
He said many marketers are using marketing automation mostly as an email tool, and this usage can expose the lack of a content strategy.

“Most people are still doing ‘batch-and-blast’ campaigns to lists that aren’t very targeted,” Brian told me.

This ties back into the alignment between Sales and Marketing, because better alignment will, hopefully, help bring about a content strategy, clarity of the value proposition, effective lead qualification and a lead nurturing process.

Marketing Operations

During our talk, Brian said, “I think what’s really needed is new position within Marketing which is called ‘marketing operations,’ and what that entails is really working to understand how Marketing is interfacing with the different operational aspects of the company — including Sales, including IT, including Finance — because those are all the places that marketing needs to go to get the data points that they need in order to prove their value.

“And on the other side of that is they are often going to be interfacing with the product development, or R&D, inside the company as well.”

He added that when marketing automation exposes problems, it will be up to marketers to really act as leaders inside their companies to teach and explain, and to not just report data, but to give real insight to the executive suite. When the CEO asks why only 1000 emails were sent to a list of over 10,000, the marketer is ready to explain those 1000 addresses were created by a high-level segmentation and that targeted list represents 70% of the revenue opportunities for the year.

He thinks when marketers can achieve better alignment with Sales and are prepared to explain and lead, they will do a better job of marketing inside the company. And that will make their marketing outside the company more effective as well.

Related Resources

Email Marketing Summit 2011

Fostering Sales-Marketing Alignment: A 5-Step Lead Management Process (MarketingSherpa Members’ Library)

2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

Marketing Career: Can you explain your job to a six-year-old?

Marketing Leader’s Perspective: No cogs allowed in social media and content marketing

Inbound Marketing: Invest in content to generate leads

December 21st, 2010
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I was digging through last year’s Wisdom Report and found a great quote supporting some recent research I’ve done on inbound marketing. (Today is the deadline to submit to this year’s Wisdom Report. Take a look. It only takes a couple minutes and is totally free.)

Jon Miller, VP, Marketing, Marketo, told us last year that although marketing budgets are in a 10-year shift out of brand advertising and into more measurable channels, he recently saw an uptick in brand-building tactics.

“Instead of mass advertising, today we are investing more in smart ways to build brand such as in social media, search engine optimization, and content marketing,” he said.

‘You need to take baby steps’

Miller’s advice was for marketers to take a portion of their budgets normally spent on trade shows and list purchases and to use it to hire writers to publish and promote content.

“By getting your company’s expertise out there, you create broad awareness and affinity for your brand. Those investments will turn into leads, but they will be very early stage leads. So don’t just send them to sales: be sure to score them to identify the best ones, and nurture and develop the rest with more great content and thought leadership,” Miller said.

This strikes a close resemblance to a conversation I recently had with Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute. Pulizzi noted that a well-planned content marketing strategy can achieve a range of goals — including lead generation. However, marketers just starting out should start small.

“Just because you have a content-marketing focus does not mean that you stop doing traditional media,” Pulizzi says. “Good content marketing takes time. If you completely shut of your other channels, someone is going to get fired. You need to take baby steps… I would never say ‘kill your advertising’ because in a lot of cases it works — it just works differently.”

Make a serious commitment

Taking ‘baby steps’ helps avoid marketing disasters — but you also need a serious commitment for any chance at success. Using high-quality content to attract leads is a strategy that takes time and effort.

Writing one blog post per week and spending 10 minutes per day in social networks is not likely to bear much fruit. Instead, you should set concrete marketing goals and select the best tactics to achieve them. Then you must regularly publish the high-quality content that your audience needs most — whether it’s a series of how-to videos, an e-book series, or something else.

Content creation can be expensive in terms of dollars and time spent — and some tactics are better than others. Here are the most effective tactics for creating content, as reported in MarketingSherpa’s 2011 B2B Benchmark Report:
1. Repurpose and reformat existing content: 64% of respondents
2. Encourage customers to submit testimonials and case studies: 53%
3. Recruit authors internally: 48%
4. Outsource to a consultant or agency: 27%
5. Use social media to encourage brand advocates to produce content: 20%

Creating compelling content is never easy — but more marketers are finding that it is helping them fortify their brands’ credibility and attract prospective customers. Take a look at your budget and schedule for 2011 and see if your team can find the time to give your audience the content it’s looking for.

Related resources:

MarketingSherpa 2011 Wisdom Report: Deadline Today

Content Marketing: How to get your subject matter experts on your corporate blog

Personal Branding: The five elements of being seen as a thought leader through crowdsourcing

2010 MarketingSherpa Wisdom Report

Product Marketing: You already know how to chew gum, right?

December 16th, 2010
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Kristin Zhivago, a longtime friend of MarketingSherpa, has over 30 years of experience working toward improving the alignment between Sales and Marketing. Through her company, Zhivago Management Partners, she works as a “revenue coach” for entrepreneurs and CEOs at companies from startups to Fortune 500 firms.

Her current focus is on making the entire sales and marketing process more customer-centric, and a major part of that effort is to conduct research and actually map out the customer’s buying process. This process is unique down to different customer groups (such as an IT buyer versus a C-level buyer) for specific products at specific companies.

Four product and service categories

During a recent conversation about how to create a customer-centric marketing organization at a B2B firm, Kristin also offered an interesting insight that applies to B2C marketers as well. After being part of mapping many customer buying processes for many different products at different companies, she developed the idea that all products and services fall into one of four categories based on the amount of scrutiny the customer applies to the buying process:

  • Light scrutiny products are impulse purchases and relatively inexpensive trinkets. She describes them as, “checkout counter” stuff.
  • Medium scrutiny products include items such as clothing. There are questions, but usually only one buyer, and these products run from the tens, to the hundreds, of dollars.
  • Heavy scrutiny products include items like cars and houses. Zhivago says they involve contracts, salepeople and possibly a demonstration or some other type of try-it-before-you-buy-it. Heavy scrutiny products involve lots of questions and most likely multiple buyers.
  • Intense scrutiny is everything involved with heavy scrutiny, plus, as Zhivago puts it, “you get married.”Intense scrutiny products involve some measure of ongoing services.

Knowing what category the product or service you are selling falls under is key to implementing the correct strategies for marketing to customers.

Marketing to the wrong category

Treating a light scrutiny product as though it was a medium scrutiny product only serves to waste sales and marketing resources. Little stuff like money and time.

And treating a heavy, or even intense, scrutiny product or service like it was merely a medium scrutiny product is a recipe for disaster. The customer has a page full of detailed questions and is looking for a little hand-holding while the company is whistling and tapping its foot with arms crossed, so to speak, and thinking, “Why don’t they just buy the thing already?”

Kristin told me she came up the four product categories after seeing companies making both of the above mistakes over and over again. As she put it, once a company knows what category their product or service falls under, they can stop making stupid mistakes like churning out newsletters teaching people how to chew gum.

I don’t know about you, but I think I have gum chewing pretty nailed down.

Related Resources

Guided by Buyers: Four tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy (Open access until 12/25)

Conversion Window: How to find the right time to ask your customer to act

Kristin Zhivago Reveals What Businesses are Doing Right — and What They Are Doing Very, Very Wrong

Marketing Career: How to become an indispensable asset to your company (even in a bad economy)

Photo attribution: KonRuff

B2B Marketing: Successful strategies and techniques from your peers

November 4th, 2010
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In today’s free webinar at 1:00 p.m. EDT – B2B Marketing Summit Wrap-up: Quick takeaways distilled from 478 marketers on lead nurturing, social media marketing, and more – we will share successful B2B strategies and techniques from the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit ’10 in Boston and San Francisco.

But first, we wanted to hear what worked well for you this year. Here are a few of our favorite answers…

Social media marketing plus search engine optimization

In the last year, my most successful B2B strategy involved incorporating a low involvement SMM program with two of our online products. This increased our SEO and client re-buys. We accomplished this goal by strategically including a few simple widgets within our own site, e-marketing newsletters, and on few conversion points where we were able to increase our conversion and click-throughs.

Carlos Barbour, Marketing Technology Specialist at The Spokesman-Review


Finding a blogging niche

Blogging with heavy emphasis on quality content and SEO has been great for lead generation. Going after specific, long-tail or niche terms works better than trying to compete on broad competitive terms, because when B2B searchers are in research mode, their search terms become more specific. Searchers in research mode are attracted to blog posts, because they are assumed to have high informational value. To make this strategy work, you need a clear call to action on your blog post. Otherwise, there’s too much potential for the visitor to click off after making use of your valuable content.

Brad Shorr, Director of Content Marketing at Straight North


Learn, improve…and grow

Our firm has found great success in having a structured data management plan in place. This ensures even distribution of effort across a prospect universe and allows for strategic data recycling. Traditionally, calling campaigns do not typically leverage business intelligence that is uncovered in initial prospect/customer dialogs to enhance future interactions. Instead, records are recycled in programs based on timing considerations. Often, this leads to the same process to capture the same information being repeated in the next campaign. The investment made to capture business intelligence is largely wasted if it is not leveraged in the future. Building prospect/customer intelligence in a structured manner and having visibility into relevant attributes of prospects enables sales and marketing to develop roadmaps for future communications.

– Mary Beth Russell, VP of Business Development at Cornerstone Marketing Services

A couple of my colleagues at MECLABS also had some advice that I thought you might find helpful…

A/B testing for teleprospecting

In my teleprospecting role, I use a lot of messaging testing to determine decision makers pain points when taking sales calls and creating a greater impression of expectations for their follow-up call from my clients’ sales team.

Most recently I’ve begun asking decision makers if they’d take a few minutes with me to determine if we can match their needs for data asset management and following this, if we are a fit, I’ll set up a data governance workshop that will uncover point-to-point value for business, legal, compliance, IT and executive users. This governance workshop will also get the ball rolling to help them determine a clear ROI roadmap on the purchase of a clients’ solution.

This approach has increased my lead generation from .04 leads per hour to .35 leads per hour for one particular client, achieve an unmeasureable success for another, and has allowed me to get in a few good conversations for a project I’ve just started.

I’ve found that some A/B testing of messaging in my teleprospecting efforts can create efficiency and effectiveness similar to how A/B testing of search terms/SEO can drive exponential results.

– Jason Croyle, Lead Generation Specialist at MECLABS Leads Group

If they’re hiring, they’re buying

Of course my main resource will always be the human touch possible through both the phone and e-mail, but there are a lot of things that can help make that more effective… none more important than relevance. One of the biggest untapped resources for relevance in my opinion is careerbuilder.com. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, there are search fields to find the relevance you seek.

In my case, I target companies by region that are looking to hire for the position of new business development, inside sales, field marketing, etc. Any company hiring for those positions will have lead generation on their list of relevance, as well as a need to be shown the value of outsourcing vs. inhouse.

You can change the fields to match a company seeking to fill any need your company can provide.

– Mark Smith, Business Development Rep at MECLABS Leads Group

Related resources

B2B Marketing Summit Wrap-up: Quick takeaways distilled from 478 marketers on lead nurturing, social media marketing, and more – Join us today at 1:00 p.m. EDT

Fostering Sales-Marketing Alignment: A 5-Step Lead Management Process

Social Media Marketing: How enterprise-level social media managers handle negative sentiment

B2B Marketing: Are tradeshows on the way out?

October 28th, 2010
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Bet that title got your attention. And the answer is, “Of course not.” Tradeshows, seminars, expositions and conferences have been a key way to connect with customers and colleagues for a long time (see the recently completed MarketingSherpa B2B Summit for just one example), but these events are facing some stiff competition from cyberspace.

The MarketingSherpa 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report just came out and I had the chance to review it a couple of weeks ago. The report covers B2B marketing tactics, budgeting, challenges for the coming year and more. The information was gathered through 935 marketer surveys and the report includes 167 charts and tables.

The Benchmark Report is full of great material, but one particular chart really caught my eye:

The effectiveness of webinars is significantly greater than tradeshows

Now you’re probably thinking, “What gives?” I grabbed your attention with a dramatic title and immediately calmed things down with a reassurance that tradeshows aren’t going away anytime soon. Now this bit about effectiveness? The strong numbers for the effectiveness of virtual events and webinars are very intriguing, but maybe because they are so much less expensive to execute, marketers are placing too much value in the online events.

I asked Jen Doyle, Senior Research Analyst at MarketingSherpa and Lead Author of the 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, if some of this effectiveness is related to savings over tradeshows. Here is Jen’s response, “Absolutely. In addition to the benefit of cost effectiveness, webinars also offer a balance between having one-on-one conversations with prospects as with tradeshows, and reaching a high volume of prospects which isn’t always easily accomplished at these events.

“Our 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Study of nearly 1,000 B2B marketers revealed that the effectiveness of webinars is significantly greater than tradeshows.”

The emphasis on her final sentence is mine. So virtual events and webinars are seen as effective, but that view comes from a lot more than simple savings over tradeshows.

What makes live events and webinars effective?

Just how effective do marketers find virtual events and webinars? Here is Jen once again, “When executed properly, virtual events or webinars can be highly effective methods in both lead generation and lead nurturing. With the execution of webinars, organizations are able to generate interest, build brand credibility and gain thought-leadership recognition – all of which will lead to results that impact a B2B organization’s bottom line.

“In this year’s B2B study, we learned that 43% of B2B organizations found virtual events or webinars to be highly effective, and another 48% to find them somewhat effective. When we compared these ratings of effectiveness to other B2B marketing tactics such as email marketing, search, telemarketing, direct mail, etc., webinars came in as the second most effective B2B marketing tactic overall, just behind website design, management and optimization.”

At MarketingSherpa, we host both live events (like the upcoming Email Summit) and webinars (like the upcoming B2B Marketing Summit Wrap-up which, ironically, is “virtual” yet based on a live event).

Webinars are a great way to maintain a regular conversation and provide consistent information to our audience throughout the year. Live events offer the opportunity to really have some deep interaction with our audience, and allows them to share knowledge peer-to-peer, marketer-to-marketer.

So both live and virtual events work for us. It’s about finding the right place and time for each, and ensuring we have a steady stream of information for our audience through the year. What about your company? What have you found works best for you?

Related resources

2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

Free Executive Summary: 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

Marketing Webinar Optimization: Five questions to ask yourself about webinars

Internet Marketing Research: A behind-the scenes look at MarketingExperiments Web clinics

Email Marketing: Drip Campaigns Drive Revenue

October 20th, 2010
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I always love attending MarketingSherpa events – the presentations are not only enlightening but also entertaining and the networking between sessions rocks! This year’s B2B Marketing Summit in San Francisco was fabulous — and for those of you who missed it, we’re doing an encore performance in Boston October 25th and 26th 2010 .

My contribution to the event was a one-hour session on effective B2B drip campaigns which was very well received. It included seven case studies of successful B2B drip campaigns from my consulting work for clients and the MarketingSherpa archives. While I don’t have space to give you all the details here (join us in Boston if you need to know!) I wanted to share some of the keys to success.

But first: are you currently doing drip email campaigns? How many of you don’t even know what a drip campaign is? About a quarter of the audience responded affirmatively to the first question – and another quarter raised their hands when I asked the latter question. So, just to get us all on the same page…

Drip campaigns take their name from drip irrigation, which saves resources by allowing water and fertilizer to be consistently delivered directly to the roots of plants. There’s less waste than with sprinklers and topical fertilizer application; drip irrigation also provides a consistent level of moisture to the soil, rather than the “soak and dry” experience that sprinklers provide.

Drip marketing campaigns are most commonly delivered via the email channel because of its short turn-around, quick delivery time and cost-effective nature. A drip campaign involves a series of messages that are sent or “dripped” in a predefined order at a predefined interval. Each message in the campaign stands on its own but also builds on the missives that have come before it. A drip campaign is a response to a specific behavior or status of the recipient – and it encourages a specific action.

Drip campaigns are most commonly used to nurture leads – they often use education, testimonials and other tactics to move prospects through the early part of the sales cycle and take them from “less than hot” to “hot,” or at least “very warm.” As with drip irrigation, drip marketing campaigns are a resource-efficient way to serve a large group of constituents.

I shared seven case studies with the audience in San Francisco – here are the key takeaways:

1. Define your Goal(s): Know what you’re trying to achieve going in – and go further to define what specific action(s) you want the recipients of your drip campaign to take.

2. Understand that Content is King: When people contact me about drip campaigns, they usually want to talk about the timing and frequency of efforts. But those factors have much less impact than the content of your program. And once you’ve fleshed out the content, the timing and frequency fall in line naturally.

3. Develop a Message Map: The first cut of this should be a brainstorming session to determine the key messages which need to be conveyed to get recipients to take the action desired. The second cut is to figure out what real-life examples you can use to illustrate these key messages.

4. Bucket your Content: After your message map is done, it’s time to separate this information into a series of efforts. There should be some content that appears in every message; but each individual email needs to focus and go into detail on some aspect of your message map. It’s not a drip campaign if you send the same information over and over again. This exercise will determine how many efforts or individual sends are in your drip campaign.

5. Decide on Your Email Format(s): Although the majority of drip campaigns utilize letter-style email messages, but newsletter, short-form editorial and other formats can be just as effective. Don’t limit yourself to one – make the format support the content.

6. Utilize Design Strategically: Typically the copy is front and center in drip campaigns; design and images should be used to support, but not overshadow, the copy. Video and other interactive media can be effective as well, but only if they support the business goals.

7. Adding Segmentation to a Drip Campaign can Increase Its Effectiveness: Creating sub-campaigns which are based on lead quality, behavior or other actions increases the relevancy of your efforts and will increase overall campaign performance when done properly.

8. Detail Your Efforts in Advance: Developing a decision tree and/or flow chart of your drip campaign provides a blueprint for implementation and will help keep you in line with your business goals.

9. Use Social Media to Drive Acquisition: Social media allows you to communicate a single message to a large group – use it to entice people to opt-in to your drip campaign so you can deliver more relevant, targeted content to specific segments of your audience.

10. Look at Overall Campaign Performance: Obviously you’ll look at standard metrics like opens, clicks and conversions by effort and then look at the average of all efforts. But be sure to take the next step and evaluate the cumulative unique campaign metrics. A key link in a recent campaign garnered an average 25% increase in unique opens send-over-send. The unique clicks on the key link increased by more than 100% after the second send; after the sixth and final send, nearly five times as many unique recipients had clicked and visited this key landing page.

B2B Marketers: Please Take our 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey

August 3rd, 2010
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This week marks the launch of MarketingSherpa’s 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey, which gathers data from members of the B2B marketing community to benchmark their latest best practices, tactics and results.

If you’re involved in B2B marketing, please take the next 5 to 15 minutes to share data and insights:

Click here to take the survey now.

As a thank you for your participation, you will receive an offer for a free copy of the Executive Summary of the 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, which will include highlights and key findings from the study.

We’re excited to see how your responses illuminate what’s working in B2B marketing today. The B2B community has been humbled by the recent recession and has been forced to operate with limited resources — while producing a higher level of quality leads than ever before.

The organizations that have persevered through budget cuts and increased expectations are the ones that could apply the most efficient marketing tactics for every stage of the buying cycle — and in the process, improve the overall efficiency of their marketing and sales departments.

The greatest challenge for B2B marketers is generating high-quality leads to deliver to their sales teams. Because of this challenge, marketing automation, lead nurturing and lead scoring have become critical tactics for B2B organizations.

In order to optimize the efficiency of marketing and sales departments, walls between these teams are coming down to enable more collaboration. Sales and marketing are working together to identify various stages of the buying cycle for the complex sale, and to determine what marketing collateral or level of sales contact is appropriate for each stage. Through this process, marketing’s role has changed from just generating leads to generating and nurturing leads to the point that they are qualified, and ready for sales involvement.

The next year will be pivotal to the success of these organizations. With signs of an improving economy, the B2B marketing community is feeling more optimistic and reacting with the greatest budget increases we have seen since before the recession. It is critical that these organizations take the lessons they have learned during the recession and apply them efficiently with their now-increasing marketing budgets.

MarketingSherpa’s 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey will focus on organizations’ best practices, tactics and results in the key areas of marketing automation, lead nurturing, lead scoring and managing the complex sale.

Please feel free to tweet or post the following invitation:

B2B marketers share your insights. Take the 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/341299/8gnpw @MarketingSherpa

Thank you!

Blogs are Becoming the New Front Door for Prospects: Is Yours Open?

July 29th, 2010
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If you’re still on the fence about the importance of a company blog, consider this trend: Many B2B marketers report that their team’s blog — not the company homepage — is now the most popular entry point for online visitors.

While judging our Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame entries earlier this month, I reviewed several strong entries from B2B marketers that cited impressive statistics for their company blogs. Thanks to a solid blogging strategy and the inherent SEO benefits of blog content, these marketers reported that their blogs were now outpacing their company homepages for key metrics such as:
o Total visits
o Time spent on site
o Number of pages viewed

For example, the team from the ESP Delivra (who just missed the cut for our Viral and Social Hall of Fame honors but nonetheless had a strong entry) reported that their company blog and social networking activity have become the primary ways they get thought-leadership content in front of prospects.

Carissa Newton, Director, Marketing, Delivra, shared these stats:

– They now see 4x more blog traffic than website traffic.

– Visitors are now staying 3x-4x longer to read blog content and website links included in that blog.

“In previous years, visitors went straight to our website,” says Newton. “With social media and blogging, it’s kind of changing that dynamic.”

Two factors are at work here: Blog content that is frequently updated and loaded with your team’s most important keywords lead to greater visibility on search engines. Plus, social sharing tools now enable your readers to share that content with their extended networks, further extending your reach and visibility.

In fact, Delivra has jumped more than 20 pages in Google search results for key phrases such as “email marketing” since starting its concerted blogging and social media effort. And since last October, the team has seen a 70% increase in inbound leads.

So if you’re not yet using a company blog for your own marketing efforts, now is the time to develop a strategy. To make the most of that tool, Newton offers these three tips:

Tip #1. Recruit multiple bloggers

Effective blogs are updated frequently. But many small marketing teams struggle to find the time to continually feed the beast. Newton’s team uses nine or 10 regular contributors from within the company, as well as three to four frequent guest bloggers, including customers.

Having multiple contributors ensures your blog will be a compilation of multiple viewpoints and relevant expertise that attracts a variety of readers. Plus, each blogger’s writing style will incorporate keywords in different ways to attract search engines.

Tip #2. Enforce regular posting

Maintaining a consistent schedule is essential to a successful blogging strategy. Newton’s team posts at least once a day during the work week.

How did they enforce that rule? They got the company CEO, Neil Berman, on board, and he made it a requirement that the blog be updated five days a week. He also leads by example: Berman contributes to the blog each Monday.

Tip #3. Share metrics and reward success

Newton also recommends using carrots alongside the stick of mandatory blog posts to keep bloggers motivated.

In the early days of their blogging effort, she ran internal contests to single out the blogger whose post was shared the most. She also used gift cards as rewards for the most successful posts.

Now, she simply shares the metrics from the team’s blogging and social efforts to show the rest of the company how important their contributions are.

“By sharing results, such as traffic increases, people’s eyes get opened differently.”