Archive for the ‘Lead Generation’ Category

Email Marketing: 3 lead nurture paths you should automate

June 23rd, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

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

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

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

Path #1. Separate users from prospects


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

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

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

Path #2. Turn users into customers


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

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

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

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

Path #3. Remind users the clock is ticking


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

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

You can’t automate trust

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

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

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

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Lead Generation: 2 simple tactics to determine cost per lead

June 16th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Getting to the heart of lead cost is not easy.

There are a multitude of factors to consider. For example, should you factor in nurturing into the costs? Even then, how much?

In today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I wanted to explore cost per lead by sharing a few tips and insights from the panel of industry experts that spoke on the subject at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013.

Tip #1. Clearly define what a lead is for your organization


Before you can even get close to what your lead costs are, you first have to define what a lead is to your organization, or as Atri Chatterjee, CMO, Act-on Software, simply said: “Just because you have a name, it doesn’t mean you have a lead.”


The panel rightfully pointed out the idea of a lead can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

So the first step on your path to determining lead costs is to cut through the confusion by creating a universal lead definition that the key stakeholders in your organization can all agree upon.

Tip #2. Move toward thinking of lead cost in aggregate


So what should you factor into your lead cost?

This can get tricky, but let’s consider, for example, that you can buy a list of 2,000 leads from a broker for $20.

Does each lead cost only a penny?

Not so much.

I say this because when you factor the associative costs to create content, market and solicit to those leads, the true price is likely much higher. lead-components

One recommendation the panel had was to uncover some of the factors that you might be overlooking and consider them in your cost.

When you look at the price from an aggregated perspective, you’re probably a lot closer to a true lead cost.

This notion was also shared by Erik Matlik, CEO, Madison Logic, who summed up the factors to consider in your cost per lead.

“I would put literally everything into your cost per lead,” Erik said.

To learn more tips on lead cost, you can watch the MarketingSherpa on-demand replay of “How Much Should Leads Cost? Tips for different channels, industries and deal sizes.”

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Lead Generation: 2 tips to transform your content marketing

June 9th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Content marketing can be an effective tactic for lead generation as customers look to your brand as an authority in the marketplace delivering relevant information that is useful to their needs.

In today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, we’ll look at two tips on transforming your content marketing strategy from Shelby Britton, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Adobe, who presented at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013.

Although Shelby’s example was rooted in Adobe’s webinars, the principles are transferable to your own unique situation.

Tip #1. Develop a highly focused, targeted strategy


Shelby explained that one of her first challenges in revamping Adobe’s content marketing was rooted in moving from “one-off” webinars to a strategy that focused on specific targeted verticals.

Making the move to targeting specific verticals with content also helped Shelby’s efforts to determine where prospects were in the purchase cycle.

“We decided that we could use content to start qualifying these leads,” Shelby explained.

Tip #2. Move from generic to relevant messaging


Shelby also explained making a move from generic messaging to content that focused on relevance for the audience was also vital to the success of Adobe’s content transformation.

“We started talking about the specific solutions and how we could add value to them,” Shelby said.

To learn more about Shelby’s content marketing strategy to aid Adobe’s lead gen efforts, you can watch the on-demand replay of her MarketingSherpa Summit session, “Lead Qualification: How demographics, email content and behavior helped Adobe boost conversions 500%.”

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B2B Content Marketing: Find the bigger story

June 2nd, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

“Anybody here think you have nothing to create content around? No exciting stories to tell?”

Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute, has heard this issue from a lot from B2B marketers. Many do not think they have any content that is relevant or exciting enough to share to their audiences.

As he gave his keynote address at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, he revealed that he also gave a presentation for metal working manufacturers that also posed the same question: What do we talk about?

“If you really want to get into content marketing, you have to realize the golden rule is: Your customers don’t care about you, they don’t care about your products … they want a solution,” he said.

Watch this video replay from his keynote for a case study on how B2B shipping container and energy company Maersk Group used content marketing to garner 1.5 million Facebook page likes (now at 1.8 million) including more than 25,000 people actively talking about the company.

One key takeaway from Joe’s session was a challenge for marketers to ramp up efforts to deliver content that’s relevant to their target audience.

“My call to you is: Do you really know what the pain points are of that persona, and what the bigger story could be?”

Watch the full video replay of “Content Marketing: 6 forgotten strategies to execute now” to discover the five remaining strategies to aid your content marketing efforts.

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Multichannel Marketing: How zombies invaded a B2B campaign

May 19th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, we added a new feature, the Media Center, where MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko was able get behind-the-scenes interviews with presenters, attendees and event vendors.

This B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post features a segment with Christine Nurnberger, Vice President Marketing, SunGard Availability Services, speaking on how the B2B IT disaster recovery company was able to take advantage of the pop culture zombie trend to create an effective multichannel marketing effort.

Christine said, “I’m so passionate [about B2B marketing]. I always love the opportunity to share what’s worked for us, and to hear what’s worked for other people. When you bring folks together like this in a group where people are really learning from their peers, you can take a lot of powerful stuff away from it.”

In this video clip, she goes on to describe SunGard’s business model — disaster recovery business continuity — and how her team realized that not only are zombies very hot in popular culture, the idea of a zombie apocalypse played directly into SunGard’s core marketing messaging of a business being able to survive a disaster or catastrophic event.

Most companies probably agree that a horde of the undead roaming the streets would be pretty catastrophic for businesses, so the team knew that the zombie tie-in was likely to resonate with the target audience as well as bring a bit of levity to the fairly serious business topic of disaster recovery.

“[We thought] it’d be really interesting to tie something that’s so relevant in pop culture to our business value proposition,” Christine explained. “What better way to test your continuity plans than to see if they could survive a zombie apocalypse.”

She added that the key takeaway from her presentation was the importance of measuring campaign KPIs and performance to better understand the campaign’s target audience.

One interesting takeaway for SunGard from this effort was CFOs had a much higher email open rate and website download rate when they received an email sent between 7 a.m. and 9a.m. on a Sunday morning.

Additionally, watch a brief excerpt below of Christine’s MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 presentation titled, “Above the Noise: How an IT company leveraged unique creative and an integrated approach to ‘wake up the dead’ and connect with its audience,” where she discussed how the team was able to fit the zombie theme into the campaign messaging

You can also view 14 other valuable sessions from the Email Summit 2014 stage for more transferable insights from marketers just like you.

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Lead Generation: How to speak the language of your prospects

May 12th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

At Lead Gen Summit 2013, Keith Lincoln, Vice President, SmartBear Software, discussed the importance of speaking the language of your customers, and, more importantly, when to say nothing at all.

“If you’re ever tired of hearing from us,” the email read, “you can opt out.”

Curious eyes met the screen at those words.

This text was not in light gray, hidden in small font at the very bottom of the email. Instead, it was in plain sight, in the body of the email — against best practices. Although the team did test an email following best practices that resulted in a slightly lower opt-out rate (under 1%), they ultimately decided they wanted to ensure that the recipients actually wanted to hear from SmartBear by using the more up-front version, resulting in a 2.5% opt-out rate.

How did Keith make the decision to abandon best practices with his campaign?

“Having sat at that lunch table for so long,” Keith said, “[and] knowing how testers and developers thought, I just said ‘Hey, let’s try this.'”

He interacted with his ideal audience every day and learned how to speak the language of his customers. He took what he knew about his audience and tested it against best practices.

Ultimately, Keith knew that by offering a quality free trial product, users would become loyal customers and tell their friends about it — all of the emails and encouragement from the marketing department wasn’t necessary to convert free trial users to customers.

Keith explained that they already captured the lead, and the lead was using a free trial version of the software. The team could track and monitor the customer’s use there. They did not want to annoy free trial users and decided that good will outweighed a large list and that a strong product would convert more users to a paid version.

You can watch the entire presentation, “Lead Nurturing: How solving the marketing automation and autonomy paradox increased lead volume 200%,” in the MarketingSherpa video archive to learn more about Keith’s lead gen efforts.

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Customer-Centric Marketing: Using metaphors in your B2B strategy

May 5th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Who are your customers? While it may be (hopefully) impossible to individually name your customers from memory, marketers need to be extremely familiar with them.

In the case of Jacob Baldwin, Digital Marketing Manager, One Call Now, as he recounted for the audience at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, not knowing his audience came at quite literally too high of a cost.

“We had pictures of soccer balls and school buses, and these types of images didn’t really connect with a corporate audience looking for an enterprise-level solution. Which we were certainly capable of doing,” Jacob said in his session.

Realizing they were missing an entire swath of potential consumers, Jacob and the team at One Call Now embarked on an entire website redesign, and with it, new funnels for customers. They just had to plot out who their customers were.

Referencing “Star Trek,” the team created four customer personas: humanistic, methodical, competitive and spontaneous, with the metaphor for each being Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Spock and Kirk, respectively.

Following the science fiction character’s traits: the humanistic customer connects with human interest stories; the methodical is logical and will consume a lot of content before moving forward; the competitive is very results-oriented; and, finally, the spontaneous customer knows what they want and acts almost immediately.

“We used this … to identify which pieces of content we have, and what pieces of content we’re lacking, and what we need to create moving forward to accommodate all of the different persona types,” Jacob said.

Plotting out and fully understanding your customers’ motivations and needs is difficult. From there, you also have to convey the necessity for any changes or extra work clearly across departments.

Injecting a little fun into the process can not only make the task lighter, but using a metaphor can actually have a huge effect on comprehension within your company. Categorizing customers this way allows your team or employees to feel a new connection with your customers, and better understand their motivations.

Metaphors have the unique quality of putting abstract concepts into easily digestible and memorable form. As Orson Scott Card wrote in Alvin Journeyman, “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.”

There’s a common misconception that there’s a lack of beauty or poetry in B2B marketing, but Jacob and his team proved that these tasks are what a marketer makes of them. If you follow their lead, injecting a little literary influence into your marketing can garner big results.

Jacob will be speaking at the upcoming Web Optimization Summit 2014 in New York City, May 21-23. He will be presenting, “Managing Optimization: How a subscription company applies the conversion heuristic throughout the customer journey.”

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Content Marketing: 4 stages to mapping your content strategy

April 28th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Effective content marketing starts with listening to customers to truly understand them, and then identifying the personas of your audience, according to Ninan Chacko, CEO, PR Newswire.

But it’s what you do with that gathered information that makes the biggest difference.

In his keynote at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Ninan explained the five steps to effective content marketing. The third step requires marketers to “map the content to the cognitive process of each persona.”

While each industry will vary, research has found four key milestones most lead nurturing processes have in common. Within each of those key stages, you can find common objectives and content types.

In the video excerpt above, Ninan discusses stage three — intent — which helps you map customer concerns to your content that addresses and alleviates those concerns.

To learn about the other four steps to content marketing, watch the full video presentation of Ninan’s keynote. In it, you’ll also learn:

  • How content has and will always impact media
  • The role content has in influencing decisions
  • How to discipline content marketing to influence decisions

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Lead Generation: How to establish a connection offline

April 21st, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Typically, we’re the ones asking the hard-hitting questions during our MarketingSherpa webinars. But in a recent live broadcast, the roles were reversed.

Bob Birge, Director of Marketing, Blue Pillar, put webinar host and MECLABS Director of Editorial Content Daniel Burstein on the spot.

“When’s the last time you got a personal letter at work?” Bob asked.

“I can’t even remember,” Daniel said. “If I really think back, maybe three, six months ago from a job interviewee I had thanking me for the job interview I did with them.”

Bob was backing up a recent study claiming that the typical business person only receives a personal letter once every seven weeks, yet receives an excess of 100 emails a day. These findings served as inspiration for Blue Pillar’s marketing campaign that was the heart of the MarketingSherpa webinar, “How to Use a Multichannel Campaign to Reach Key Decision-Makers.”

Bob shared insights into the critical power company’s process in sending a tangible, personalized direct mail piece to target customers.

“I think part of the brilliance of what you did here, Bob, is a lot of times as marketers, we follow the trend — what’s the word in the cloud, what’s everyone doing in mobile, social and everything,” Daniel said. “We just get kind of mixed in with the noise of that, and you really looked to zig where others zagged.”

The end goal of Blue Pillar’s marketing efforts was to schedule briefings with the decision-makers of target companies. This included those from hospitals, data centers, universities and research facilities — people who are typically swamped with daily emails.

The marketers at Blue Pillar decided to take themselves out of the crowded email sphere and eliminate that major challenge altogether.

“We’re very confident that when we get in front of the right person — people that can understand what we do and the complexities of it — good things happen,” Bob said. “A light goes off and we’re off and running, but that first step needs to happen — get in front of the right person. Sometimes, that’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.”

The team usually shoots right for the top of organizations, directing email campaigns and phone calls to C-suite executives. The results weren’t ideal. Bob shared that one of Blue Pillar’s email campaigns sent to 200 targets amounted to zero briefings.

“It was really more on the execution, or the lack of results, that we got hurt, and then we needed to establish a connection,” Bob said. “Those were two important steps: Who are you trying to reach, and then what do you do to establish that connection? And that’s where we were stumbling.”

blue-pillar-louisville-sluggerAfter looking at results from Blue Pillar’s email efforts as well as that study Bob mentioned earlier, the team concluded that using emails for introductions to prospects wasn’t the way to go. Because of the limited amount of personal mail people receive, Blue Pillar sought to stick out with a mailer.

Bob explained that years ago, he had success by using a mini Louisville Slugger baseball bat in a campaign. Because Blue Pillar’s effort was set to run in early summer, Blue Pillar opted to use this item again while also employing multiple channels for a baseball-themed effort.

Blue Pillar targeted 100 individuals positioned in the C-suite of organizations. The first piece of the campaign was the mailer that contained:

  • direct-mail-pieceA mini Louisville Slugger baseball bat stamped with the Blue Pillar logo
  • Collateral pieces on Blue Pillar (what the company is, what it offers)
  • A personal letter to the target

The letter was considered truly “personal” not only because it directly addressed the target by name, but because it included several details about the target’s company, such as where the target was located, as well as how many facilities it had. Sticking with the baseball analogy, the letter outlined strikes (problems), and then Blue Pillar’s solutions (single, double, triple, homerun).

The team waited two weeks after dropping the packages in the mail before conducting follow-up phone calls to ensure they were received. Beginning the conversation with the baseball bat served as an instant ice breaker, and Bob made many of these calls himself.

“[I said,] ‘Hey, about two weeks ago I sent a package. It would have included a black mini Louisville Slugger baseball bat,’ and a light went on. All of a sudden, I became their best friend.”

Asking about the bat, Bob explained, was a far more memorable item to recall than calling to ask about the delivery of an email.

“I knew that between the last two weeks, they probably didn’t get any other mini Louisville Slugger baseball bats,” he said. “So now we’ve connected.”

Rather than utilizing an email as its starter, Blue Pillar put it to play as its closer. The final piece of the campaign was following up with the target via email — after the connection was established — to schedule that briefing.


It worked. Take a look at Blue Pillar’s stats from the campaign:

  • 100% of the targets received the package
  • 14 executive briefing calls scheduled
  • 21 calls completed with engineers and facility managers

At the close of the 30-minute webinar, Bob shared his top takeaways:

  • Connect where others neglect
  • Establish an offline connection
  • Use emails to keep things moving
  • Be original

“It goes back to the basics: learn your product, learn your audience and then [find] a way to reach them,” Bob said.

For even more of Bob’s story, check out the full MarketingSherpa webinar replay of, “How to Use a Multichannel Campaign to Reach Key Decision-Makers.”

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Lead Qualification: Webinar marketing strategy boosts conversion 500%

April 14th, 2014

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Providing relevant and valuable content in webinars is key to a successful strategy. But for Adobe, while the content was there, the strategy was not.

“When I came on in 2008, we had a webinar program and a lot of other programs running very disjointed. Every program, every webinar all had various different promotional plans behind it, and they were really a one-off situation. We did a lot of work to look at that one-off strategy. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it a strategy. There really was no strategy,” Shelby Britton, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Adobe, explained.

After realizing this challenge, Shelby and the team at Adobe put forth the idea that by creating more useful and relevant content to prospects, they could use that data to better qualify leads to Sales and discover where those leads were in the buying process based on what webinar content they consumed.

Watch this brief video from a MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013 session to hear Shelby and Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, discuss how the team assembled a webinar strategy to better serve prospects as well as be more useful for lead scoring.

The results of this transformation in webinar marketing led to a 75% increase in open rate and 120% clickthrough rate increase in emails promoting the webinars.

Watch the entire session, “Lead Qualification: How demographics, content and behavior helped Adobe boost conversions 500%,” to discover how Shelby took this challenge even further by scoring webinar leads and how that effort resulted in a 500% conversion rate increase in sales.

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Infographic: Customer experience in the digital age