Archive for the ‘Lead Generation’ Category

Marketing Automation: Lessons from 4 case studies

December 1st, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Marketing automation technology has become an indispensable tool in the complex sale marketer’s arsenal. Lead generation, lead nurturing and determining the time for the handoff to Sales would be extremely difficult without that technology. Add lead scoring and tracking through that final conversion to sale and the task is flat out impossible without automation.

Luckily, for B2B marketers there is a wide range of marketing automation options out there from relatively simple solutions that help streamline email marketing to full-blown packages that seem like they do everything but automate the lights and thermostat at the office.

To help illustrate how some of your peers are utilizing marketing automation, in this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I’m sharing four MarketingSherpa case studies that cover everything from how automation improved lead gen to how that tech directly impacted the bottom line.


Case Study #1 — Marketing Automation: 200% increase in lead volume for software company after implementation

SmartBear Software, a B2B cloud mobile software company, was rapidly growing and decided to implement CRM software and marketing automation software as a single process to ensure the two technology pieces would be easily integrated.

When choosing the automation vendor, Keith Lincoln, Vice President of Marketing, SmartBear, said three main criteria were considered:

  • Ease of use
  • Scalability
  • Integration with the new CRM system

Once an automation vendor was chosen, the team decided to bring in an outside consultant to expedite the implementation. Keith said this consultant helped speed up the learning curve through training and was able to get the automation solution up and running within a five-day workweek.

Automation in place, the team started slow with a few email campaigns, faced some internal challenges, but then quickly began to implement lead nurturing to handle a high volume of leads in different product groups. Lincoln said the automation solution was even integrated with SmartBear’s webinar platform.

Results? Lead volume grew 200%, 80% of global leads were generated with automated trial downloads, and 85% of SmartBear’s revenue was generated by the trial download leads.


Case Study #2 — Lead Generation: Revamped marketing automation and CRM technology drives 75% more leads

In this case study, Managed Maintenance Inc. (MMI), a provider of management services for technology assets, faced a different problem than SmartBear from the case study above.

Where SmartBear implemented automation and a CRM solution together to ensure those pieces were integrated, MMI had marketing automation and a CRM in place, but the two were siloed and weren’t synched — Marketing’s and Sales’ activities and data were completely separate.

The solution was to audit the current technology setup, and it was determined that MMI needed to replace both the automation and CRM tools together and, similar to SmartBear, implement the new software pieces together to ensure they would be integrated.

Once that occurred, Marketing at MMI was able to begin lead scoring and lead nurturing, and maybe even more importantly in terms of company culture, Sales and Marketing became more aligned because the new technology implementation allowed visibility from lead gen to conversion to sale for everyone involved in the whole pipeline.

After completely revamping marketing automation and CRM technology at MMI, lead generation was up 75% over the previous year.


Case Study #3 — Marketing Automation: Implementation drives $550,000 in net new revenue at Crain’s

Crain’s Business Insurance is a trade publication that faced the challenge all publications are undergoing right now with declining advertising revenue, but at the same time, its industry customers began buying up-front research and content.

Because the company has reporters with more than 300 years of combined writing and editorial experience, it was positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.

In order to do so, Crain’s implemented marketing automation, revamped and integrated its databases. The company had three databases: print subscribers, online registrants and the newly created marketing automation database — and integrated its content creation process into the marketing automation system.

Integrating content creation into the automation solution meant creating content categories and segmenting the database into those different groups to align content creation with certain reader segments.

From there, Crain’s implemented lead scoring, and even utilized analytics coming from marketing automation to influence the ongoing marketing strategy.

This campaign led to:

  • Nearly $550,000 in brand-new advertising revenue for demand generation services
  • A 43% increase in registered online newsletter subscribers
  • A 2% increase in paid print subscribers
  • Conversion rate of 2.6% from anonymous website visitors


Case Study #4 — Marketing Automation: IT company boosts leads 59%, generates $1.5 million with system implementation

This case study combines a dramatic lift in lead gen along with an impressive impact on the bottom line after CentricsIT, at data center solutions provider, implemented marketing automation.

Mandy Hauck, Manager of Marketing Communications, CentricsIT, was the company’s first marketing employee, and walked into what could be called a fairly unsophisticated marketing strategy largely consisting of email blasts.

Her background was email marketing, but early on she reached out to marketing automation vendor based on a coworker’s connection with that vendor’s CEO.

After a call with the vendor’s sales rep, Mandy knew she wanted to implement automation at CentricsIT and conducted internal marketing to get both Sales and company leadership buy-in.

Part of this process included attending a conference on the automation solution in place and learning ways to get Sales involved in planning how automation would be used at CentricsIT.

Before automation, the company didn’t have a refined method of tracking its leads or nurturing them. Leads were thrown into Mandy’s inbox for her to manually forward to Sales. After implementation, leads were automatically directed from landing pages to sales reps. In the first year of marketing automation at CentricsIT, lead gen increased 59% and $1.5 million in revenue was directly attributed to the new technology


For even more value

Hopefully you have found something of interest that might help your marketing automation implementation, optimization or pain points.

The title of each of these summaries links to the full MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter article with detailed steps and creative samples, so if any of the case studies shared in this post grabbed you, do click through so you can get the full value of the information and campaigns your marketing peers shared with us.


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B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer [More from the blogs]

B2B Marketing: 5 privacy factors to consider when using marketing automation [MarketingSherpa how-to]

B2B Email Marketing: How a publishing company used marketing automation to increase CTR 1,112% [MarketingSherpa case study]

Marketing Automation: 25% more engagement, 0% unsubscribe in 4-email series [MarketingSherpa case study]

Marketing Automation and SMBs – an Overview

November 10th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Before my current role as manager of editorial content, I was the senior reporter for MarketingSherpa. As such, I interviewed hundreds of great marketers and industry thought leaders for case studies and how-to articles. I’m still writing some case studies, but not nearly at the pace I did for over four years.

Because of that past, it is fun to have the tables turned on me, and a few weeks ago I agreed to be interviewed on the topic of marketing automation and small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

The interview covered a range of ideas within that topic area and I wanted to share some of my extended answers with the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog audience.


Why marketing automation software is relevant to SMBs

A major factor is how marketing automation can help optimize the SMB marketers time. The marketing department at an SMB is typically small just based on the size of the business, but at the same time the customer base – the database – can still be very large and automation software can help with activities such as lead nurturing.

If you think about an enterprise-level company, automation is almost a requirement to augment the CRM software. There’s just too many records in the database to handle this world of highly segmented and personalized marketing any other way.

For the SMB marketer, let’s say you have a one-person staff. I’ve spoken with many marketers doing great stuff with only one person. Maybe you have one, two, three people on your staff. You want to maximize their activities.

They are doing creative things instead of some of the grunt-work associated with handling email campaigns and the like. Automation does a lot of things under the hood that you just physically can’t do even if you wanted to.


How the disconnect between Sales and Marketing can be alleviated with technology

For this section, I’m going to reprint part of my original answer during the interview:

I think I’ll provide an interesting answer for you. The first part is Sales and Marketing alignment is a challenge. I’m hearing more success stories which is awesome. The technology is bringing people together because, if nothing else, Sales instead of getting more leads, they’re getting more qualified leads. Technology helps out on that end.

I think Sales and Marketing should be in alignment anywhere. Every time they’re in a silo, it never helps the company for those two pieces to be adversarial or siloed at all. If they’re working together, it’s always going to be better.

The change is, if anybody’s been reading a lot of industry stuff is the CMO is taking over the CIO and CTO, in the C-suite. Very interesting.

If you think back six or seven years ago, if you told the CMO they were actually going to have a seat at the table and not be the voodoo doll at the end of the table that it was a black hole for the budget and no one paid attention to, they would laugh at you.

Now, because of all the technology and different pieces, and the fact that they’re buying this technology and they’re handling this technology, and the data that’s coming in — now marketing activities are no longer a black hole. Now they’re trackable. Now there’s ROI that can be attached to it. Now all of the sudden, CMOs are surpassing and taking over the role of the CIO because they’re buying the technology and telling the CIO, now you make this work for me.

I think the actual alignment issue now is between marketing and the IT department. I would like to Marketing and Sales as a team become aligned with the IT department, but given where we are, and just the direction things are going, if you look at various pieces of research of some of the bigger research firms, that’s the direction that things are going.

I read articles every single day about the CMO and the CIO need to get together. They’re not getting together because of this. I think the bigger challenge now is for Marketing and IT to be in alignment, and obviously technology is that piece there.

I think technology helps get Marketing and Sales in alignment, but technology is the reason that marketing and IT have to get into alignment. If they don’t, it just makes things a lot harder for everybody.


Creating a culture that allows for marketing automation implementation at an SMB

This goes back to some of that Marketing-IT alignment.

Within marketing, the case for implementing automation should be fairly obvious – “This is going to make our world easier. We’re going to have to learn how to use it. We’ve got an initial training going on, but in the long term, it’s going to make our lives easier.”

Automation is going to allow the team to track its activities, and hopefully begin handing Sales a higher quality of lead, rather than a higher quantity of leads. The internal sales job to Sales should be just as easy with the quality of leads argument in place.

When getting buy-in from the company C-suite or leadership, the IT department can be your worst enemy or your best friend. By fostering an aligned relationship with them, they can advocate the that internal sell.

You want them to be part of this process, one, because they’ve written those contracts. They’re going to see the pitfalls before the marketer does. They know this is a really nice SLA on this contract. The agreement looks good, but IT will see a loophole that might not be obvious to a marketer. IT will know if the new tech piece will actually integrate with the current set of systems already in place.

I think having IT on board with an automation implementation gives a lot of credibility across the board when creating a culture from leadership down to the sales team.

You might also like

Industry Insights with David Kirkpatrick [Original interview from the SalesFusion blog]

Marketing Automation: 200% increase in lead volume [MarketingSherpa webinar replay]

Lead Generation: Revamped marketing automation and CRM technology drives 75% more leads [MarketingSherpa case study]

B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: How to build your own list

September 26th, 2014

Last week’s MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter case study — “Lead Generation: Content and email combine for high-quality list building” — covered an effort by cloud replication and disaster recovery startup company, CloudEndure. The overall basis of the campaign was a process created by CloudEndure’s Vice President of Marketing, Ramel Levin, before he joined the startup. This process Ramel called BYOL, or “build your own list.”

The case study features some of the steps involved in Ramel’s lead gen idea, but since he developed it for a company he worked for before joining CloudEndure, the exact steps he took in putting the process together were not part of the case study.

For today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, I wanted to provide more detail on how Ramel created his BYOL concept.

Ramel said he was in a business setting speaking with a startup company that did website translations when the BYOL idea came to him.

“I was asking them, ‘How do you generate leads for websites that need translations?’ He (one of the employees at the startup) started telling me about all the different ways he was doing it, and he talked about the traditional ways of doing email blasts, going to conferences and doing advertising for pay-per-lead and PPC,” Ramel said.


One method for building high-quality lists

After a bit of thought, Ramel decided that building a list of higher-quality leads would be more effective for this company, and here is the process he developed to do just that.


Step #1: Identify the first stage of target companies

Ramel stated, “So I told him, ‘How about doing the following? How about scanning the top one million websites, based on Alexa or Quantcast, or any other ranking service … and find out how many of those websites have only one language.”

He said, for example, scan the top sites in Germany, and make sure they only have pages in the local language. If the company is in the United States, its website only features pages in English.

Read more…

Lead Gen Tactics from 4 MarketingSherpa Case Studies

August 25th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Our sister publication, MarketingSherpa, publishes three weekly newsletter case studies, and in the B2B beat in particular, those weekly articles routinely feature a story covering marketers tackling lead generation for the complex sale.

For this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I want to offer four of those case studies published over the last couple of years addressing that very topic.

If you only have a few minutes, this post provides highlights from each case study. But, if you have more time, or if one really strikes you, click on the link for the entire article and supporting creative samples.

Case Study #1 — Local B2B Marketing: 150% boost in lead generation

This case study covers how a commercial cleaning and janitorial services franchise created an Internet-based direct response marketing machine. Before this program was created, the company had a rudimentary Web presence — essentially no Internet marketing and no digital marketing strategy in place.

To create the program, the team began with the website and from there, added paid search and SEO to the digital marketing initiative. Another major piece was ongoing testing and optimization on all the new online marketing channels.

This effort led to lead generation through website form registration, and even phone calls from prospects who initially found the company through the digital marketing.

What were the results?

  • 3.37% average conversion to sale across all Internet traffic sources
  • 150% increase in lead generation from 2010 to 2011
  • 1,500% ROI on SEO in 2011
  • 200% ROI on PPC in 2011

Case Study #2 — Lead Generation: Revamped marketing automation and CRM technology drives 75% more leads

Technology is a major factor in effective lead scoring and nurturing once that lead has been generated.

A provider of management services for technology assets serving the mid- to large-enterprise market found that its technology setup had a problem ? the automation solution and CRM system were operating in tech silos and, most importantly, not sharing data.

To meet this challenge, the team audited the current situation, and ended up replacing both existing marketing automation and CRM solutions, and found new technologies that were more integrated.

With the integrated technology in place, a lead scoring process was created, the contact list was built out, leads that Sales couldn’t close were nurtured, and the enterprise even found a higher level of Sales and Marketing alignment. Also, after the first year, lead generation improved 75%.

Case Study #3 — Lead Generation: Targeted event marketing effort leads to 300% ROI, generates 140 qualified leads

Technology and automation are vital and valuable pieces of marketing today, but the personal touch still has its place.

A provider of OEM equipment for printing companies created a campaign that combined event marketing with direct mail, email and teleprospecting both before and after a trade show to create brand awareness and new opportunities.

In this campaign, the company segmented its prospects for targeted marketing, came up with different incentives — such as trips to the company headquarters, or admission to a major league baseball game — for each stage of the campaign, utilized PURLs to track response to the campaign, and used telemarketing to highly qualify prospects.

This particular campaign resulted in a 300% ROI.

Case Study #4 — B2B Lead Generation: 300% ROI from email and teleprospecting combo to house list

This final case study is about how a drug information provider for health IT companies leveraged the knowledge that its conversion rate was much higher with already engaged prospects, so the goal was to increase ROI by focusing on what the team called “known” contacts.

The effort began with segmenting the list to uncover those known contacts. From there, the segmented group received an email with the goal of priming the recipients for follow-up calls instead of seeking a direct response to the email send. The first call was made within several hours of the email send.

Four days after contacting via telephone, a second email was sent. This email?s messaging featured a personal touch and referenced the earlier email and phone call. The second email was also followed up with a call.

The campaign resulted in a 13.4% average conversion rate, with a conversion being a scheduled meeting, and 15.9% of prospects scheduling meetings becoming customers. All of this amounted to a 300% ROI on the campaign.

You might also like

Sign up for MarketingSherpa Newsletters to receive these case studies straight to your inbox every week

Lead Generation: How to empower your program like Siemens Healthcare [Video]

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Marketing Research Chart: Most widely used lead gen tactics [MarketingSherpa Research Chart of the Week]

Questions Every Marketer Should Ask of Lead Gen Forms [More from the blogs]

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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Now, Go and Do: Create standardized, well-understood metrics for your organization

July 28th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Last week’s MarketingSherpa Email Newsletter case study — Marketing Analytics: How a drip email campaign transformed National Instruments’ data management — covered an issue that affects many marketers in the digital marketing world: drowning in data that is potentially inaccurate.

National Instruments, a global B2B company with a customer base of 30,000 companies in 91 countries, developed a drip email campaign around its signature product.

The campaign was beta tested in three key markets: United States, United Kingdom and India.

After the test was completed, the program rolled out globally.

The data issue came up when the conversion metrics dropped. The beta test converted at 8%, the rollout at 5%, and when a new analyst came in to parse the same data set without any documentation on how the 5% figure was determined, the conversion rate dropped to 2%.

For this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I wanted to offer what that team shared with MarketingSherpa to meet, or maybe even avoid, a data management problem.

For the case study, I interviewed Ellen Watkins, Manager, Global Database Marketing Programs; Stephanie Logerot, Database Marketing Specialist; and Jordan Hefton, Global Database Marketing Analyst; all of National Instruments at the time. Ellen’s current title is Global Marketing Ops Training Manager, and both Stephanie and Jordan have moved on to other opportunities.

Here is the insight all three provided on what they learned from a marketing challenge created by the advent of big data.

Create a consensus on data management standards

Ellen had some straightforward advice for marketers looking to improve data handling and reporting.

“First, have the hard conversation in advance,” she said. “Identify and define what it is you’re doing. What is the conversion to customer? And when does that start to [happen] and when does that end? And, for us, there was a lot of restarting analysis [on] this date and ending it on this date.”

For documentation, Ellen said it was key to have one version of the truth behind the data, and also to have a single definition of the report to ensure alignment across the enterprise.

Understand the tech tools

Jordan, as an analyst, added it’s important for marketers to understand the limitations of the systems and tools that are in place. Ask questions about what is possible from a reporting standpoint.

It’s possible that as a marketer, you’ll be able to maximize the potential of the technology by requesting particular reporting metrics from your analysts.

Stephanie said to make sure you prepare your stakeholders for the changes that accompany a shift in the way data is parsed.

“The numbers might look a little bit scary,” she said. “Just be ready to explain why they are the way they are, and that you are getting more targeted, more relevant data.”

Communicate with stakeholders

Stephanie explained that it’s important to be able to communicate to those stakeholders who most likely are not familiar with the processes that produced those metrics, and then also to trust the numbers that are provided by the people doing the analysis.

She said just being able to provide internal stakeholders with solid, consistent reporting was a major key to success.

Documentation is paramount, according to Jordan, because it’s “so important to leave a trail of bread crumbs so that you understand it — if you go back a year later, anyone on the team can pick up on the information that you put together and be able to decipher it.”

Ellen said, “My big picture takeaway is the impact of the data. Not only the impact to business, but the impact to the decisions that we’re making. The impact in the trust of our stakeholders. It really is impressive to see the value that it’s bringing.”

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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]

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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]

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

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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Lead Generation: Streamlining the process for quality over quantity

June 30th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

For her first week on the job, Debbie Pryer, Program Manager, Siemens Healthcare, arrived ready to accept an intimidating challenge: Bring Marketing and Sales together for one common cause — generating quality leads.

According to Debbie, the process in place had been corrupted and broken by a system of incentives to drive lead volume with little check and balance in place for assessing lead quality before the handoff to Sales. The end result was a sales team overwhelmed with unqualified leads, 65% of which were tossed out.

“I had a roadmap of what was wrong,” Debbie said. “I had to figure out how to make it right.”

At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Debbie’s presentation “Lead Generation: How to empower your program like Siemens Healthcare” took the audience on a deep dive into some of the challenges Siemens Healthcare faced in its lead gen process.

One of Debbie’s key goals was to re-establish a long-broken trust between Sales and Marketing.

Suggestions were made about what could solve this dilemma. Although many brought up automation, Debbie knew that by bringing in more technology as a solution, she would simply be “automating the problem.”

Challenge your process

Debbie explained that returning to the first love of the company — the patients and the hospitals that serve them — was an ideal starting point for building a lead process that put prospect needs first.

Her solution was to “slide the leads into what they were already doing” in the sales funnel, rather than pushing unqualified leads into the funnel.

With this strategy, Marketing delivered higher-quality leads to Sales, and the two teams started to (slowly) restore trust.

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2015 Call for Speakers [Have interesting insights to share like Debbie did? Apply to be an Email Summit speaker.]

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Lead Generation: How to get funding to improve your lead gen [More from the blogs]

Local B2B Marketing: 150% boost in lead generation [MarketingSherpa case study]

The Complex Sale: Lead scoring effort increases conversion 79% [More from the blogs]