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Posts Tagged ‘funnel’

Ask MarketingSherpa: Balancing search engine optimization, conversion optimization and conversation

December 12th, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of these conversations here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

Dear MarketingSherpa: My question is about balancing the SEO needs with the conversation needs, an issue when driving traffic through organic rankings.

I think the issue I am struggling with is “the thing that a customer might search for is not what they want to buy.”

I know how to rank any page for anything, and through your training, I am beginning to know how to think about a page that achieves its objectives.

I think what I am struggling with is balancing the two and deciding what keywords to optimize the home page for when trying to combine the two objectives, i.e., SEO optimization versus buyer optimization, and then you have to go through the stage of the buyer’s journey as the language they use will be different at each stage.

Regards,

Adrian Tatum
Director
Effective Business Growth

 

Dear Reader: Adrian, you have hit on a deep challenge that many marketers feel. Some marketers come at it from the opposite direction. They view SEO (search engine optimization) and conversion optimization as separate. And I think this is because of the “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” effect. Too often we’re siloed within our own disciplines.

I’ve heard the theory that load time and various other SEO factors give you a better quality score and therefore must be the factors that improve conversion.

While decreasing page load time has been shown to increase conversion, a myopic focus on SEO factors can hurt conversation with your visitors on your webpages. For this reason, the factors that improve SEO are not necessarily the same factors that improve conversion. They aren’t diametrically opposed either, but they are not one and the same. In one instance, you’re optimizing for an algorithm. In the other, you’re optimizing for a human thought process.

The hammer-nail challenge faces many companies and agencies, and it’s probably a blind spot for all of us in some way. For example, a company can be so focused on SEM (search engine marketing) and traffic-driving that they overlook where they are sending that traffic. The same holds true for SEO. You don’t just want traffic, you want traffic that will take an action.

The companies we work with have come to the realization that SEO landing pages need conversion optimization, their bigger concern is they don’t want to make changes that improve conversion but then lose their traffic so they’ll ultimately be down overall. Google is the big scary wizard behind the curtain, and when a marketer has won it over, the last thing they want to do is lose that.

Essentially, you need to make conversion changes without losing SEO, add value without risking search rank.

Really, this isn’t just an SEO problem. This is the challenge of marketing as a whole. What customers need isn’t necessarily what customers think they need, what customers will actually buy isn’t always the same as what they search for.

Let’s use marketers as an example customer. A marketer may search for “how to increase email list size” or “how to increase sales” but the solution isn’t necessarily tied to an email product or a sales product. The real solution for them may be to improve the value proposition.

Here’s another example. I’m on the board for my Homeowner’s Association. We recently had an unlocked car broken into in our neighborhood. So I started searching for security cameras. Most of the websites had security cameras with similar functionality. However, one of them had this headline: “Don’t capture faces. Capture license plates. 70% of crime involves a vehicle. Police say a license plate is the best evidence to solve a crime.”

I wasn’t searching for a license plate reader. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was searching for a security camera, but I didn’t really want that either. I wanted a deterrent to crime, and I wanted a way to catch the perpetrators. A few of my neighbors had security cameras, and they were interesting because you could see the perpetrators in action. But then what? You still didn’t know who they were and didn’t have any evidence to help the police catch them and stop them from re-offending. So the license plate reader copy on that homepage tapped into my true pain point.

Adrian, you are savvier than many in that you understand this challenge. As Harvard professor Theodore Levitt has said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

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Email Marketing: How Ferguson Enterprises generated over $10 million in online revenue

July 14th, 2015
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Well, it’s that time of year again in Jacksonville, Florida. The sun is shining. The summer skies are blue. Surf’s up at the beach. And we at MarketingSherpa are doing our best to ignore the siren call of summer to focus on … applications.

Lot of applications. Over 300 applications to speak at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 in Las Vegas, to be precise.

It was around this time last year that I came across a truly remarkable story. While culling through all of the speaker applications for MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 to find the best stories to share from the stage, I came across the story of Mary Abrahamson, Email Marketing Specialist, Ferguson Enterprises — the largest plumbing wholesaler in North America.

Mary and her team combined offline and online efforts to generate more than $10 million in online revenue through the Ferguson Rewards program, which included more than 90 in-person events. Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Mary in the Media Center at Email Summit before her session.

“Be transparent about what you’re trying to do with the customer information they’re providing to you,” Mary advised.

She also talked about the necessity of having quality content.

“In 2015, mediocre content is no longer okay. It’s really important to make sure that … you’re the source of information for your customers,” Mary said.

After her time in the Media Center, I interviewed Mary onstage about her entire case study. She took the audience through the customer journey of two personas and the targeted offers and content that helped them move through Ferguson’s funnel.

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B2B Marketing: How good data can solve big problems

October 27th, 2011
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Problems in your marketing can be tricky to identify. They might seem isolated, but they can also have a single root cause.

Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Applied Research, MECLABS, believes a central problem for many B2B marketers is a lack of effective data.

“Everything connects to your data,” Carroll said. “Your data represents relationships, and that’s the hub.”

Carroll touched on this issue at the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco this week. He described how seven of the most common problems that B2B marketers face have their roots in poor data optimization. We’ll go through each of these below.

Click to enlarge

 

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B2B Marketing: Focused top-of-the-funnel campaign fills day-long workshop in target market

October 25th, 2011
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Marketing and Sales alignment is always a hot topic. When the two business functions are working together marketing efforts are more effective and Sales’ job becomes easier.

At the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco this week, Michelle Mogelsen Levy, Associate Vice President Marketing Programs, ECI Telecom, presented a case study on a successful quick-hit, top-of-the-funnel effort that had the side benefit of getting already close Marketing and Sales teams into even closer alignment.

Sales’ challenge for Marketing

Sales at ECI Telecom came to the marketing team and asked for support to penetrate a brand new geographic market in a very limited time frame – under 30 days – and fill the top of the funnel with high-quality leads.

The resulting effort was a proprietary workshop in Sweden, a new market Sales was targeting. Marketing’s challenge was finding a way to get relevant prospects to the event with an eye on being cost-conscious. And the goal was to register 20 participants for the eight-hour workshop.

The strategy was an inbound effort combining Sales leveraging its connections through email and social media with Facebook posts and other outreach, and Marketing taking advantage of the existing database along with reaching out to anonymous web visitors from Sweden. Turning unknown website visitors into known visitors was a key goal in the effort.

ECI Telecom went out and found a vendor that was able to provide a tool that allowed for segmenting Web traffic and delivering relevant messages to those visitors, and allowed for real-time intelligence on site visitors and behavior. Read more…

B2B Marketing Infographic: How are B2B marketers optimizing their funnel?

July 29th, 2011
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My first experience with a lead funnel was the IBM Signature Selling Methodology. I was struck with what a simple illustration this was to such a complex challenge – how do you get companies to buy expensive stuff and people to bet their careers on it?

While IBM’s SSM is essentially a sales tool, B2B marketers face the same challenges, and, because of the maddening complexity inherent in that simple question, a well thought-out funnel can be a useful planning tool to making sure you align all the many facets of sales and marketing you have to get right to close business.

Of course, once you map out your funnel, you’re not done. Like a good diet and exercise plan, you have to continue to optimize your funnel. To help you do just that, the MarketingSherpa team has put together the below infographic and has taken a funnel optimization approach to the content at B2B Summit 2011 in Boston and San Francisco.

“The infographic was developed from the results of our upcoming 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Study,” according to Jen Doyle, Senior Research Manager, MECLABS. “This study focused on identifying the most effective strategies and tactics for attracting and converting the modern B2B buyer, and benchmarking B2B marketing performance. It represents the scope of our study, which dissected all stages of the funnel, from lead generation to sales conversion.” Read more…

B2B Marketing: The 7 most important stages in the teleprospecting funnel

April 1st, 2011
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Funnel measurements have two important benefits in B2B lead generation:

1. Helping marketers forecast outcomes.  By tracking the conversion percentages, marketers can apply those conversion percentages to each new campaign and predict what the outcome will be before the campaign occurs.  Such predictions are very helpful in capacity planning and budgeting.

2. Helping marketing identify funnel leakage and optimize revenue production.  Marketers can apply both their own internal, historical baseline conversion ratios (i.e., an aggregation of conversion ratios) and industry benchmarks, like those gathered by MarketingSherpa.

Executive-level funnel metrics provide marketers with the 50,000-foot view to provide an end-to-end perspective.  But when there appears to be leakage, zooming in on a particular leak is essential.

In that context, let me share seven funnel conversions for teleprospecting.

But first, let’s agree on the scope. In B2B, there are two important functions in this  area:

  • Following up on, qualifying, educating, and nuturing marketing responses until they are sales-ready leads.
  • Prospecting into target accounts to identify and qualify existing demand and to generate demand and convert that demand into sales-ready leads.

For both of these activities, it seems the key funnel stages would be similar. But, what are they?

Before I share a point of view on this important subject, let me say that teleprospecting is very complex and the interpretation of outcomes at various stages of the funnel are more and more subjective. Plus, in one call, the teleprospecting rep may go through all the funnel stages.

Click to enlarge

1. Dial – a teleprospecting rep making an outbound dial; or a customer making an inbound call.

2. Connection – the dial converting into a connection.Those dials that do not convert into connection either have busy-outs, dials with no answers, recorded phone company messages about the number being out of service or changed. A very high percentage of dials not converting into connections means the list or lead source is problematic.

3. Conversation. – the rep reaching someone to have a conversation, however short; a prospect reaching a teleprospecting representative via an inbound call.

4. Decision-maker conversation – some of the conversations are with those who would be part of a decision and some are not, either because the teleprospecting representative is speaking merely to a receptionist or to someone otherwise not involved in the solution area.

Decision-maker/decision-influencer conversations are much more predictive of future purchase intent than non-conversations. Even when following up on marketing responses, it’s not uncommon that 20 percent of more of the leads never make it to this stage.

5. Qualified Account – Usually, the first thing a teleprospecting representative does is qualify the person. The second thing is often qualifying the account. Is the account in the target market? Those that are would get this kind of status.

At the top of the market, the funnel may end here with an attempt to set an appointment, the idea being that the sales person will take meetings with the right people in the right accounts because the buying potential is so large.

6. Acknowledged Need – The next thing a teleprospecting representative does is discover if there are buying plans, and if not, at least an acknowledged need. Those who meet the other criteria (Qualified Account, a stakeholder in the decision processs) and have an acknowledged need are the most likely to convert into a sales-ready lead.

In fact, for some larger accounts, the sales organization may decide that this level of qualification is sufficient to warrant sales follow-up. Others in this stage might warrant tele-nurturing.

 

7. Sales-Ready Lead. Sales-ready leads meet any other qualifying criteria, like a particular timeline for buying, the existence of a budget, etc.

And then, of couse, the overall sales-marketing funnel extends beyond the teleprospecting operation as sales people validate leads, convert them into opportunities, forecast them, and close them.

There are some problems with the above funnel however:

  • It doesn’t account for inbound or outbound emails sent to or from the teleprospecting representative or the clickthroughs that might happen.
  • It doesn’t factor in online chat sessions, where there might be an opportunity to identify the prospect, qualify their interest, role, and the account they work for, all before having a live conversation with them.
  • There is also nothing in here about leaving messages, per se, like a voice mail.
  • There could certainly be other stages, like a presentation stage, where the teleprospecting representative presents, however informally, (via WebEx, DimDim, etc.) some kind of elevator pitch to the prospect.
  • It’s also possible that by sending an Outlook meeting request or speaking to an admin, a teleprospect representative schedules a phone meeting.
  • Finally, there isn’t a stage for doing some kind of preliminary investigation of an account and/or a contact, like going to LinkedIn or the account website.

Obviously, these limitations speak to the complexity of B2B teleprospecting for the complex sale, and the evolution of this capability to include more and more Web-based tools for both discovery and communication.

What funnel stages do you see as most important?

Related Resources

 

B2B Lead Generation: Why teleprospecting is a bridge between sales and marketing

B2B Marketing: The FUEL methodology outlined

How and When to Use Content in the B2B Sales Process (Members library)

Free MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter

B2B Lead Generation: Why teleprospecting is a bridge between sales and marketing

March 24th, 2011
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For complex B2B sales, there is no better capability than teleprospecting for optimizing funnel efficiency.  I suspect that is one of the reasons more and more marketing executives have taken ownership of this function from sales.

One of the reasons that teleprospecting is so important is that it is (or should be) a bridge between upstream marketing campaigns and downstream sales teams.  For marketing, the teleprospecting team cannot only convert marketing responses into sales-ready leads, but provide marketing with clarity on how to improve its demand generation efforts.

Let me provide two simple examples:

1. Fine-tuning lead scoring models

There is probably no more promising capability than lead scoring.  To evolve the rule set, marketing must take aggregate funnel data from teleprospecting and fine tune the scoring model.  For example, usually 20-50 percent of the leads will be unreachable after four or five dials and three or so personal emails from the teleprospecting representative.  By comparing a large pool of these unreachable leads with leads that do respond to follow-up of teleprospecting representatives, marketing can often find different characteristics that correlate to responsiveness and dial up the lead score accordingly.

2. Fine-tuning messaging and media strategy

If a large percentage of potential customers the teleprospecting team does reach are out of the target market, then marketing can often fine-tune its messaging and its media/search strategy to improve the percentage of responders who are actually in the target market.

If the teleprospecting team receives similar, simple feedback on the sales-ready leads, that feedback can help the teleprospecting team improve it’s practices.  For example, if there is a disproportionate percentage of sales-ready leads that do not respond to the follow up by sales, then the teleprospecting team (or some subset of the team) most likely needs additional training (or talent) in order to better qualify prospects.

What’s important is that there is a repeatable process and that the operation measures the right things.  What’s also important is that marketing views the teleprospecting capability as a mechanism for improving upstream marketing efficiency and that the teleprospecting operation views sales feedback in a similar light.

In this light, the real question isn’t whether sales or marketing owns the teleprospecting function, but that everyone sees the potential for teleprospecting to better connect marketing to sales and drive optimization of the funnel.

Related resources

Free Web clinic, March 30th — Converting Leads to Sales: How one B2B company generated $4.9 million in additional sales pipeline growth in only 8 months

B2B Marketing: The FUEL methodology outlined

How and When to Use Content in the B2B Sales Process (Members library)

Free MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter