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Posts Tagged ‘lead generation’

Inbound Marketing: Do you care about the quality of your brand’s content?

August 20th, 2019
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If I had to break down the world of content marketing into two groups, it would be these:

  • Those who care about the quality of their content
  • And those who don’t

Ouch. Seeing those words in writing, my statement is a little harsh. So let me try to rephrase:

  • Those who only see content as a means to an end
  • And those who view content as an (often free) product that should have value in and of itself

To further refine this split, we could say there are two content marketing approaches we can simply label:

  • Quantity
  • Quality

Of course, every piece of content offers some level of value. You need a certain level of consistent production for even the most high-quality content. And there are shades of gray between the two extremes.

That said, I’ve noticed more and more of a focus on the “high quantity/means-to-an-end” approach as the content marketing industry has matured. Brands that seem like they don’t care about the quality of the content they’re producing, or at least not nearly as much as the volume. I thought this would make a fitting topic of exploration in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa inbound newsletter.

Content pollution

Content marketing has shown impressive growth as a marketing tactic. One reason for that is the proliferation of digital platforms and the growth of computing power allowing for less expensive production of content.

If you’ve ever listened to a talk by content guru Joe Pulizzi, you know that content marketing isn’t necessarily new. But when the means of production transitioned from a printing press and six-figure Avid system to a free blogging platform and smartphone, it was inevitable for content marketing to grow.

But there’s another reason it grew as well. It was effective. And it was effective because it was disruptive.

The traditional advertising and marketing model was built around selling to the prospective customer. The core of content marketing is helping the customer. When done well, customers sell themselves.

The low barriers to entry and “free” cost compared to paid media led to explosive growth in the amount of content. This has created plenty of helpful content. But content creation has also been used as part of a major quantity push by companies viewing it as a means to an end to attract traffic.

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Lead Generation Success = Nature + Nurture

April 18th, 2019
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What drives a successful lead generation and nurturing strategy for a complex sale?

Is it the nature of the leads themselves? Was its success predetermined at the very birthing of the lead because of the way you generated the lead? For example, a lead filling out a hand-raise form for your service has a far likelier chance of success than a lead clicking on a PPC ad for a free iPad.

Or is it the learned behavior of the lead, the environmental factors you influence them with through your lead nurturing. In other words, no matter how good the lead is, you need to shepherd these people along and help them understand the value of your product or service.

True success requires both quality lead generation and intelligent lead nurturing. Here are tips and examples from some successful business enterprises to help you get better leads and nurture them effectively. (This advice has been edited for clarity and brevity)

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

 

NURTURE

Answering the unasked questions in the customer journey

Kristian von Rickenbach, co-founder, Helix:

 A Helix (mattress and bedding product manufacturer) lead will convert on average in three months. In that time, they are researching and evaluating dozens of mattress brands and many more mattress types.

We focus heavily on lead nurturing through drip emails for people who come through our mattress customization quiz.

 

With the personalization quiz, we are able to capture unique attributes about how people sleep. After completing the quiz, users are asked if they want to save their match. With this audience, we know a few things:

1) They took the time to get to the site and complete the quiz

2) Hand raised to save their mattress with the intention to return, and

3) Most importantly, their name

Personalization clearly resonates with this audience and we included the customer’s name in email subject lines. After doing that we saw a 54% increase in open rates which resulted in a 69% increase in revenue generated from that campaign.

 

Through various creative tests, we homed in on what specific value propositions over-indexed from an engagement and conversion perspective and use that to inform content for our standard drip and promotion campaigns.

Affordability was one value prop that stood out.

Knowing that we were launching with a new financing partner, we sent an email out that had unprecedented returns for the business. After seeing the performance of a one-off financing options email, it was apparent that this is an important proposition in their purchase decision.

Since that email, we have featured similar content as a standalone email in our welcome series and significantly decreased the five-drip series decay curve. On average, we see a 38% decrease in open rate from welcome series email one to email two and so forth. After adding the financing email to the series at touchpoint three, the trend reversed and increased 15% from email two to email three.

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Mapping the prospect conclusion funnel [includes free PDF example]

August 29th, 2018
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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 some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi Daniel, I’m following up on the conversation started on Twitter about your blog post. My questions are:

– What was the main realization that took you to write this article?

– Do you think that this works for businesses in any industry? For example, some businesses are mostly offline, is it wise to invest time in creating a funnel for those as well?

FYI, this is the article I’m talking about — Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks.

Dear Reader: I wrote the article because I received questions following the publication of this article: Website Development: How a small natural foods CPG company increased revenue 18% with a site redesign

Yes, the funnel works for any fairly complex purchase. This was true before the internet. Think about buying a car before the internet. First you saw the ad. Then maybe you filled out a business reply (BRC) card. Got invited in for a test drive. Test drove cars at competitors. Get to price negotiations. Etc, etc.

The funnel is a human decision-making phenomenon

I’ll go a step further. The funnel works for any fairly complex human decision, not just purchases, and certainly not just online. For example, you don’t instantly decide someone you meet in college is going to be your best friend. There’s a process.

And that begins with exposure to that person in the first place. You made micro-decisions to attend the same club meeting that person did, you approached them after the meeting, you had a good conversation, you invited them to hang out with your buddies, your buddies liked that person (third-party verification), you hung out more and more, you confided trust in that person (form fill with annual revenue info), that person confided trust in you … 40 years down that funnel, your best friend is giving a toast at your daughter’s wedding (the final purchase).

In a vacuum, the funnel still exists

The reader asked if it is it wise to create a funnel. It’s important to note that the funnel exists whether you choose to actively manage it or not. Take the example above. Your best friend didn’t choose to create a funnel to end up giving a toast at your daughter’s wedding. There were a set of decisions that you naturally made to get to that point.

It’s the same with the buyer’s journey. If you’re selling a car, there are a series of decisions a buyer will make on the path to deciding whether to purchase that car, whether you’ve set up a funnel or not.

What you can do is try to discover what these paths to purchase are, and then how you can use your marketing, sales and other resources to help them make that decision.

Let’s look at an example where we map business activities in a funnel to a set of conclusions a prospect has to reach for a B2B services contract.

Prospect conclusion funnel example

[Click here for an instant, free download of a PDF version of the Prospect Conclusion Funnel Example]

Let’s break down the example.

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Marketing 101: An intro to social listening, why you should become an undercover social media agent (and where to begin)

July 3rd, 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.

In the early 2000s when social media networks like My Space and Facebook first came out, many of us thought they were just a passing fad. We were wrong.

These social networks have been so successful because people are hardwired to be social. And they want to share on social platforms.

Then businesses began to realize that customers were reacting more positively toward this gentler inbound strategy as opposed to the traditional, more aggressive outbound methods. Today, social media marketing is a vital part of most companies.

Yes, social media marketing is here to stay, and statistics show that it reigns as king of the mountain in the business world, being one of the most widely used lead gen tactics.

Most Widely Used Lead Gen Tactics

If you have been trying to avoid learning hashtag lingo, retweet etiquette and analytics, then chances are your business won’t last long among its many competitors. Because THEY most certainly are utilizing social platforms to their advantage. You, on the other hand, are trying to execute your business strategy blindfolded.

Some benefits of social listening

Even if your business doesn’t have the budget for a dedicated social media analyst or the latest and greatest social monitoring tools, you can still go ahead and set up some accounts. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the most popular ones but you should conduct some sleuthing to determine which social media platforms are the best fit for your ideal customer.

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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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Momentum Marketing: How to get the ball rolling toward a purchase decision

September 12th, 2017
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“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

Those words probably sound familiar to you, as Newton’s first law of motion (the law of inertia). As a marketer, you can think of them as a physics-level explanation of a psychological phenomenon — customer behavior.

Rare is the customer who will go from zero to purchasing your product. That is, the impulse purchase.

For all other customers, they will tend to stay at rest until you get that ball rolling in the direction you want it to go.

Building momentum with intermediate payments

How do you start building momentum? Well, there are two other crucial payments from the customer that you should earn. And we’re calling them out by name in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post because, while your company may be doing them on some level already, these intermediate payments often get overlooked and under-resourced in favor of the granddaddy of them all — the fiscal transaction.

But all three of these payments require a value exchange, not just the fiscal payment. So make sure your company is providing unique value in order to earn all of these payments.

Payment #1: Attention payment

In the discovery phase, your ideal prospect shows some interest or has a felt need for your product. Sometimes this is front of mind, and they are particularly interested in the topic in their daily interactions.

Other times, it’s very subconscious, and they don’t even realize they were ever considering purchasing your product or even your product category until they come across your message.

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Marketing 101: What is a squeeze page?

August 25th, 2017
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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.

A squeeze page is an interstitial page with a form. In other words, if you link to a piece of content your prospective customers want, this is the page they get first. This page asks them for more information before they can get that content.

The squeeze page is the tollbooth on the expressway of information

Squeeze page is not a neutral term. It is pejorative, indicating disapproval with the process of “squeezing” people for information before giving them what they want.

Other more neutral terms for squeeze page are gate, content gate, gated content, information gate, or simply — lead form, lead gen form or lead generation form (although, not all lead forms are squeeze pages. Some are simply on landing pages that describe services and are a way for potential customers to ask for more information).

The information on the lead form is usually used for some type of lead nurturing or sales follow-up effort — ranging from subscribing people who fill the form out for an opt-in email list, setting them up with a drip campaign, following up with a sales call (or emailed sales pitch), or a combination of these tactics. (However you end up using information filled into a squeeze page, make sure you clearly communicate that to prospects before they fill out the form on that page, supported by a link to a privacy policy as well.)

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Marketing 101: What is a radio button?

August 11th, 2017
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Radio buttons — what are they, and how do marketers use them?

Well, like most marketing tactics, it’s something you’ve seen everywhere but simply might not have known the name for.

A radio button can be used in any form where you need people to make choices, like a survey, newsletter sign-up or a lead generation form.

This example is from an experiment in the research library of our sister site, MarketingExperiments. With the subject being a large people-search company catering to customers searching for military personnel, the test’s goal was to significantly increase the total number of subscriptions.

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Three Questions to Align Your Strategy, Marketing and Sales

June 28th, 2016
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When the business strategy isn’t linked with sales and marketing, the result is that marketers and sellers end up working harder, not smarter. This has a multi-billion dollar impact. Most companies struggle with this according to the Frank Cespedes, author, and Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School: “Selling [or marketing,] no matter how clever and creative, can’t generate good financial returns unless it’s connected to strategy.”

I met Frank while we both spoke at an event in Santiago, Chile. We had a memorable time sharing ideas and research. I thought Frank had a practical approach to aligning sales and marketing. So, I reached out to him and interviewed him about what he’s learned through his research for his most recent book Aligning Strategy and Sales.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and grammar only.]

 

Brian Carroll: What inspired you to write about Aligning Strategy and Sales, which is the title of your new book?

Frank Cespedes: Despite decades of attention to so-called strategic planning, there is remarkably little research about how to link strategy with the nitty gritty of field execution, especially sales efforts [and marketing]. American companies annually spend about $900 billion every year on sales efforts. That’s not marketing, that’s sales, that’s compensation, the travel, incentives, the infrastructure, etc. and to put that in perspective, Brian, that figure is more than three times what they spend on all media, Super Bowls, everything. It’s more than about 40 times what they spend on digital marketing, and it’s more than 50 times what they currently spend on social media. This is a big, big gap.

 

Can you tell us more about your background and where all of this came from?

I was an academic at Harvard Business School for about 11 years working my way up the hierarchy and always was doing research in sales-related areas. My research started with distribution channels, B2B distribution channels, morphed into sales. Then I ran a business for 12 years. And then I came back and said, “I’m teaching strategy. I know something about sales. Let me see what people have written about it.”

What I found was this gap, so I figured two things. One is I don’t think the world needs another book about strategy, and I don’t think, to be blunt, the world needs yet another selling methodology, but there just isn’t much if anything about linking the two and that was the gap that I set out to address.

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Marketing Basics: Don’t overlook these 5 digital marketing tenets

May 17th, 2016
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There are so many impressive things you can do with your website these days. Augmented realty. Rich animations. Micro-interactions. Interactive infographics.

But I like to think of it like this …

When the quarterback throws a 90-yard touchdown pass, the camera cuts to the wide receiver doing a celebratory dance, and then to the quarterback pumping his fist. What they’re not showing you is the right guard who picked up the blitz to allow the quarterback the time to heave up that bomb.

Your website, content, and digital marketing is often presented the same way. Advanced, flashy user interfaces are great. But looking in our own analytics, I was reminded there are probably a few unheralded, down-to-Earth, un-buzzworthy basics that should still power your online marketing.

 

Basic content

“Basic” has become slang for “limited,” “rudimentary” or any number of other negative connotations. To quote Kara Brown on Jezebel, “Being basic just means that you aren’t that dope.”

And you probably feel that way about the content on your site as well. You are steeped in the latest, most advanced things going on in your industry. You focus on the breaking news. You spend your waking hours thinking about the coolest features of your products, and most advanced capabilities of your services.

But is that what your customer is looking for?

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