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Posts Tagged ‘B2B marketing’

Marketing 101: What is website usability?

April 19th, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Simply put, website usability is how easy, clear and intuitive it is for visitors to use your website. This is from the visitor’s perspective, not your company’s perspective.

Of course, website usability isn’t so simple at all. You essentially have to read someone else’s mind, so the expected user experience matches the web experience you design. However, as 18th-century poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry.”

As I said, you’re trying to read someone else’s mind (many people, in fact). So the challenges of web usability aren’t necessarily unique to the web. These challenges are the very fundamentals of human behavior and interaction. Here’s a very visual example that UXer Oliver McGough shared on Twitter …

There are many terms related to website usability that you might have heard:

  • User experience — how people experience your website. This may be very different than you intended because you may not be able to take an outside perspective of your website and assume visitors will understand something that they don’t, or understand differently, from you (more on this in a bit).
  • User experience design (or UX) — the practice of creating websites, computer programs, apps, etc. with the user in mind. UX can also be used as shorthand for website usability. (e.g., “That site has good UX.”)
  • User interface (UI) — where man meets machine. For example, an operating system has a graphical user interface. UI continues to evolve and isn’t always visual. Thanks to virtual assistants like Alexa, the human voice now interacts with a UI as well.
  • Usability — in general. This is, after all, broader than just websites. Any digital offering has (or lacks) usability, from a website to a computer game. But physical objects have usability considerations as well. For example, OXO is a company that is well known for kitchen utensils and housewares usability. When I first learned about usability, the instructor used a car brake pedal as an example. I had never noticed before, but it is a lot wider than the gas pedal for a reason. If you’re accidentally going to stomp on one of them, it’s better to be the stop than the accelerate!
  • User testing — Get your visitors’ opinions about what works well on the site and what doesn’t, what processes and mechanisms are intuitive and which are confusing
  • A/B testing — Measuring your visitors’ behavior to see how well they are able to actually use the site, and if the actual user experience matches the intended website design

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Email Open Rates: 9-point checklist to get more opens for your email marketing by reducing perceived cost

March 21st, 2018
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The Radicati Group predicted that the average business user would receive 97 emails per day in 2018.

97 emails per day.

So why should they open yours?

To help you optimize your open rate, we’re giving you a nine-point checklist for minimizing the perceived cost of the email open. This checklist is from the Email Messaging online certification course taught by MECLABS Institute (MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization).

You can click here to download a PDF of the Email Open Cost Force Checklist (no form fill required, instant download), and I will walk through the checklist step-by-step in this blog post.

EMAIL OPEN COST FORCE

For macro decisions, like a purchase process, you likely spend significant time and resources ensuring that customers understand the value of the product.

However, it’s all too easy to overlook the smaller decisions your customers are taking every day — the micro-yes(s) — like email open.

Every decision you ask prospective customers to make has a perceived value to the customer as well as a perceived cost. The “force” of value or cost is a term designed to discuss the strength of the effect of those elements on the customer’s decision-making process.

Put simply, if the value force is stronger, your customer will take the action you are asking. If the cost force is stronger, your customer will not take the action.

Now, this isn’t the actual value or cost of an action. It is the perceived cost or value before customers take an action. After all, they don’t know what value they will really receive until they act.

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Optimizing Email Capture: 9-point checklist to grow your email marketing list by minimizing the perceived cost of opting in

February 27th, 2018
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In the early days of email marketing, many sites used to brag about their FREE email newsletters and try to entice customers to SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE.

Today, many email marketers have simplified the ask to “Subscribe Now” or “Send Me Updates.” Email newsletters with no monetary cost have become so commonplace that it is no longer worth mentioning.

Notice how I said “no monetary cost” as opposed to “free.” Email newsletters aren’t actually free, and they never were. Sure, the vast majority do not require a monetary payment, but they cost the customer’s time. And the friction and anxiety involved in signing up is essentially a cost to the customer as well.

So to help you get more opt-ins for your email list, here is a nine-point checklist for minimizing the perceived cost of the email capture. The checklist is from the Email Messaging online certification course taught by MECLABS Institute (MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization).

You can click here to click here for a PDF of the Email Capture Cost Force Checklist (no form fill required, instant download), and I will walk through the checklist step-by-step in this blog post.

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People Buy From People: Five examples of how to bring the humanity back to marketing

December 13th, 2017
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“People don’t buy from websites, people buy from people.” This is an essential principle from the MECLABS Institute Landing Page Optimization certification course (from the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa).

With so much focus on martech, marketing org structure and website optimization, and channels ranging from print to digital advertising, this principle can be easy to forget.

Yes, marketing technology is powerful. Yes, the correct structure of the marketing department and IT department are necessary; and you certainly want a well-functioning website.

But this is just infrastructure. Mere roads.

You, dear marketer, are in the driver’s seat. You decide how to use these roads.

The most effective way to use them is to connect with other people. Remember that everyone behind the technology is a real, complex human. And everyone on the receiving end is a real, complex human with hopes and fears, needs and wants, goals and pain points.

Here are five examples to give you ideas for bringing humanity back to your marketing.

Example #1: Engage with influencers

Every B2B industry and B2C niche customer community has influencers. Rock stars to that specific group of people, even if no one in the general public knows who they are. They’re more than a brand or a logo; they’re a person. And when it’s the right person for your ideal customer, your customer deeply wants to learn from these influencers.

“I would say don’t be afraid to talk to your influencers in your industry. Engage them and try to partner with them,” said Mike Hamilton, Director of Marketing Programs, Exterro.

Exterro is a legal software company specializing in e-discovery. When it launched its vendor-neutral E-Discovery Day virtual event three years ago, the team was able to get a couple of key influencers on board. In Exterro’s case, a few of these influencers were federal judges.

Having federal judges speaking on a webcast back then was a big deal. So, Hamilton started calling other influencers in the industry and used the federal judges’ names as a proof point that E-Discovery Day was designed to be a day of education and not vendor-speak. Exterro opened it up to competitors, law firms, anyone in the industry. As a result of bringing all these influencers on board, the team was able to get more than 2,400 event attendees this year, an increase of 70% from 2016.

“If someone has a blog in your industry, and you think they write great content at the same audience as you, send them the email, or don’t be afraid to call them and just ask them what they’re doing, how they’re looking to grow their influence, and how you could potentially partner together. Because the reason why I think E-Discovery Day was so successful was we got buy-in from a lot of influencers in the community at the very beginning,” Hamilton said.

Example #2: Talk to one person … or account

Marketers can do amazing things with data and automation these days. However, sometimes it’s worth singling out important accounts and customers and giving them a more manual, human touch.

This may seem overwhelming at first, but if you analyze your most valuable customers to determine who your best customers will be, you may find that some version of the Pareto principle is at play. In other words, 80% of your revenue may come from 20% of customers.

Trapeze Group, a provider of hardware and software to the public transit industry throughout the world, took an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to try focusing and humanizing its marketing to specific accounts.

They started a pilot program with a public transit agency in the Los Angeles area, and positioned the ABM strategy in the business as “ensuring that it was not just a marketing or sales function but also that of project management and customer success,” said Michelle McCabe, Manager of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations, Trapeze Group North America.

For example, the team created a personalized magazine just for that account. The magazine contained a combination of custom content that was created from scratch for the people in that account as well as repurposed content. “We knew that some of the C-levels were a little bit more traditional. So we felt that a print magazine might speak to them a little bit more than something digital, which is why we went for a printed magazine versus digital specifically for this account,” McCabe said.

In addition, the team created a 3D-printed statue and sent it specifically to one person in the account. “It said the word ‘innovation’ because that spoke true to his role and his overall mission. He did receive it, and he thanked us for that, which was great,” McCabe recounted.

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B2B Marketing: Using behavioral data to create a customer-centric website

July 12th, 2017
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“DLT is a value-added reseller. We work with the public sector, pairing some of the leading technologies and software solutions in the industry and helping to deliver those into the public sector,” said Tom Mahoney, Director, Marketing Operations, DLT.

The company helps to eliminate the obstacles to getting cutting-edge products and services into the hands of the government employees who need to be using it.

In the spirit of eliminating obstacles, DLT decided to do just that with its own customer experience by optimizing the company’s website and content.

When looking at the website, Mahoney said he and his team asked themselves, “Was it performing for us, was it delivering the message we wanted to deliver and was it easy to use?”

Mahoney pointed out that if the website isn’t working for you as a marketer, then it is definitely not going to work for your customers.

“We couldn’t even find or access the type of content that we wanted to be seeing, and we had built it,” he said. “We had to take stock of that, step back and ask ourselves what the website is meant to do and how can we make the experience a little more optimal?”

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4 Lessons About B2B Inbound Marketing from a Sunday Morning in the Coffee Shop

June 6th, 2017
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I was in Starbucks the other day, and in walks an older gentleman. I couldn’t help but notice that people kept focusing on him and chatting him up — in line, while waiting for a drink, etc.

I could overhear the conversations a bit, so I asked someone sitting near me, “Was that guy in the NFL or something?” He responded, “Yeah, that’s Rocky Rochester. He was defensive tackle for the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.”

He happens to sit by me, and we strike up a conversation. He notices I’m wearing a Hofstra shirt, and he says, “Hey, we used to practice there.” Then, when I notice his Super Bowl ring on his finger and mention it, he does something that simply shocks me.

He just hands it to me. So, I’m sitting there, holding a ring from Super Bowl III. The Super Bowl of Super Bowls. Broadway Joe. The Guarantee.

I share this story because inbound marketing was on the top of my mind in that coffee shop on Sunday morning — we were putting the finishing touches on the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing for B2B Quick Guide  — and I realized this story was the perfect analogy for effective inbound marketing. Often, we get so focused on data and metrics, technology and automation that we overlook everyday human interactions like this.

However, normal human interactions are what we should be trying to emulate with our marketing, especially inbound marketing.

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Trust Your Customers to Raise Their Hands: How to use non-gated content to more than double high-quality leads

January 20th, 2017
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Challenged to measure ROI on every program and hit a certain number of leads per month, some marketers make potential customers fill out forms to get access to gated content.

Instead of forcing form fills, Chris Keller, Vice President of Marketing, Health Catalyst, and his team set their content free in order to increase shareability and lead quality while more than doubling leads during a three-quarter period.

“We’re trying to be the non-marketing marketing group,” Chris said. “We’ve taken a controversial approach to educating the market.”

For Health Catalyst, a healthcare analytics company, aggressively educating customers was a key aspect of its strategy to deliver a high-growth pipeline of leads. However, in a crowded healthcare IT market, Health Catalyst wanted to establish leadership, not generate cold leads.

This led the team to take a different approach: as few lead forms as possible. Because they wanted a pipeline of sale-ready leads, they put their trust in prospects to raise their hands when they were ready.

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How PR Newswire Created a Customer-Centric Demand Gen Engine

January 13th, 2017
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In today’s digital landscape, the buyer is in control and is more sophisticated than ever before. In fact, according to Forrester, 93% of B2B buyers prefer to transact online when they have decided what to buy.

After publishing this week’s B2B case study featuring cyber security firm SecureWorks’ transformation of its demand generation, I realized how vital a clear, built-out purchase path can be for both marketers and consumers.

With that, I decided to reach back to a Media Center Interview with Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing, PR Newswire, who spoke at last year’s MarketingSherpa Summit on the topic.

 

To effectively engage and target buyers, Ken and his team developed a sophisticated buyer-centric go-to-market approach that employs tailored content aligned to key segments and personas across the entire customer lifecycle.

It starts, he said, with recognizing that customers have options and that it’s very easy for them to make choices on their own.

“What we’ve really focused on is becoming buyer-centric, and to focus on [buyers’] core informational needs,” he said. “What are their challenges? Where are the opportunities for them?”

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The Most Shared Articles from MarketingSherpa Blog in 2016

January 9th, 2017
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While the jury may be out on 2016 as a whole, marketers have had a very exciting year, and MarketingSherpa (if we may say so) has hopefully shown a spotlight on it through our content.

In light of celebrating the good of 2016 as we’re all madly planning what 2017 will bring, we’re revisiting the most popular articles from the past 12 months. Looking back at top content helps us see what our readers found to be the most helpful and valuable content, and it helps you to know what your peers are looking for.

Below, see where we’ve been this past year using the nine most popular articles to find what elements you might want to bring with you into 2017…

#1. Six Places to Focus to Make your Website a Revenue Generator

We have more digital marketing channels than ever before, but it’s become even harder to connect with customers.

One thing’s become clear, that there is a growing divide between those who are fully engaged with digital marketing and those who are still figuring out the fundamentals. This interview with Kristin Zhivago, President of Cloud Potential, goes over her report on “revenue road blocks,” as a deep dive into what she’s discovered to help marketers quickly close this digital marketing gap and do better.

If marketers directly address getting the six key focuses covered in this blog post right, you can move forward and close the gap between digital and customers.

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How HCSS Used an Interactive Contest to Increase Web Traffic 800%

December 9th, 2016
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Pretty often with complex B2B products and services, it can be difficult, even for customers to show off the intricacies and value of the entire process.

With more than 4,000 construction companies and 45,000 end-users on HCSS software, the company was looking for a way to leverage clients’ stories and turn them into usable and compelling content.

 

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