Posts Tagged ‘optimization’

Marketing Careers: 3 steps for using testing principles to improve office productivity

August 2nd, 2013

Here at MECLABS, we talk a lot about the testing process.

How to optimize and improve emails, landing pages, lead generation forms, shopping carts … all things Web. But, the testing process isn’t just a way to improve website performance. The general principles are transferrable to so much more.

One thing I’ve been particularly interested in recently is how to use testing to improve office and employee productivity.

Consider you’re a manager and have an employee who has been having problems meeting deadlines.

What do you do?


Step #1. Identify the problems with productivity

You’ve already identified the overall problem – missing deadlines.

Most people immediately jump to solutions and try to answer this question: “How do I get this employee to stop missing deadlines?”

Obviously, it’s because they need more resources, right? Maybe it’s because they weren’t clear on the requirements and what was expected of them. Or maybe, they just didn’t see the point and weren’t properly motivated.

That’s the same thing as saying, “My Landing Page isn’t converting,” and immediately jumping to solutions like, “I need to change the offer, add a video, or add more testimonials.”

But, what step did we miss in that jump … Analysis!


Step #2. Dive deeper to identify the elements that impact productivity

You can’t solve a problem unless you have a deeper understanding of the root cause.

For a website, we’ve been trained to ask, “What problems or obstacles are impeding a conversion on this page?”

Thankfully, we have a handy Conversion Sequence heuristic to help us identify the elements that impact conversion by asking the right questions during analysis:

  • Is it because there’s a lack of value?
  • Is the value clearly communicated?
  • Is the process is too confusing?
  • Are people concerned about what’s going to happen with their information?

All of these answers could be the possible culprits to your low conversion rate, but you’ll never know without identifying these possible issues and testing possible solutions.

The same thing goes for your people.

For someone missing deadlines, the question isn’t “How do I fix this?” Instead, the first question needs to be “Why are they missing deadlines?” or:

  • Are they confused with the exact date/time of the deadline?
  • Do they have a clear understanding of all the steps involved in the project?
  • Do they know all of the resources they’re going to need?
  • Are they able to build a timeline backwards from the deadline with reviews and milestones?
  • Do they not understand the impact the missed deadline will have on them personally or the company?

As you can see, the list of questions goes on and on, just like for your website.

Read more…

Testing: Go big, or go home?

April 25th, 2013

One of the most common questions and debates we have here at MECLABS is, “How radical do we go?”

Let me explain – for every test, we have an objective we’re trying to accomplish and a set of metrics we’ll use to judge the performance and success of the test. If we “go radical” and change lots of different elements on the page, we might hit it big, or we might tank. But, either way, we wouldn’t know the true impact of any specific change.

If we “go conservative,” we’ll be able to directly tell what the impact of changing a specific element was, ensuring we learn something, but might never be able to hit that lofty conversion goal our team has set.

So, which approach is right? Well, the short answer is they both are. The long answer is the rest of this post.


The right blend between radical and conservative tests

That may sound like a cop out, but a successful test strategy needs to find the right blend between radical and conservative tests. Let’s try an analogy …

Let’s say you just started playing baseball. You’ve had batting practice with your coach and just can’t seem to connect on any pitches. So, your coach starts tweaking. Widen your stance. Lift your elbow. Tilt your head. Tweak, tweak, tweak. But you’re still not hitting anything.

Then, you try something radical. You walk to the other side of the plate and take the first pitch into the outfield. Turns out you bat lefty. That would have been good to know an hour ago. Chances are, you were never going to succeed with small tweaks, because there was something fundamentally wrong with your approach.

The same goes for testing. If you’re making progress with small tweaks, a headline here, button color there, you may never reach your true potential.

We always want to get a solid learning from every test we perform, but looking back through the archives, a lot of the largest wins we’ve ever achieved don’t come from single factorial tests, or variable clusters where we try to focus in on specific elements of the MECLABS Conversion Sequence heuristic like friction or value.

Instead, they come from radical redesigns, where we test a totally new approach or simultaneously improve numerous elements we identified as issues with the page.

Read more…

Who’s Running Your Marketing Department, You or Legal?

April 23rd, 2013

I’ve recently been involved in projects for some big-name companies. We carry on through the project path and set up our testing strategy to optimize its landing page. Everyone’s all excited, and then BAM, roadblock. The party fizzles momentarily because these words are muttered:

“We have to get it approved by Legal …”
“Legal needs to approve this …”
“We’ll need to run it by Legal …”

As a research manager, those words translate into:

  • Nine more meetings added to the calendar
  • A three-week extension to launch the test
  • Wondering what the results would have been if our ceiling hadn’t been capped by Legal

Now let me be clear, in no way am I suggesting you subvert or choose not to follow the proper legal procedures within your company. I simply wrote this blog post to inspire you to push the legal department a little harder, so you can push the boundaries with your marketing.

The beautiful part about testing is we can shut down a test immediately if a treatment is failing miserably, or if legal issues arise. At MECLABS, we stress that at minimum, we will come out of any test with a learning – regardless if it produced an increase in revenue. Our creative teams are eagerly waiting to improve website design and copy.

But, we know your website and copy may prove to be better than ours. All we want is the chance to test the waters and learn from the results.

I worked with a Research Partner and we were pretty limited to testing these elements on the landing page:

I can’t even imagine the results we would have produced if Legal would have approved additional testing.

Read more…

Marketing Metrics: Is the emphasis on ROI actually hurting Marketing?

October 21st, 2011

In speaking with many, many marketers over the past year, two words — well, actually one word and one acronym — stand out in my mental word cloud when thinking about marketing in 2011: revenue and ROI (return on investment).

The first is a term more commonly seen in financial reports and tossed around the conference table during company meetings. The second is another financial term.

And I’m not just dreaming that these words have infiltrated marketing. Research from the 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report found that 54% of surveyed marketers think “achieving or increasing measurable ROI from lead generation programs” is a top strategic priority for 2012.

Click to enlarge

I know I’ve written about Marketing proving its worth within the company in terms of revenue generation or measuring ROI more than once over the last year.

Menno Lijkendijk, Director Milestone Marketing, a Netherlands-based B2B marketing company, says the emphasis on ROI in marketing should be reexamined.

Menno’s main point is unimpeachable — return on investment is a financial term with a specific definition that has a very specific meaning to the C-suite in general, and particularly to the CFO. His concern is, not only is the actual ROI of some marketing activities overemphasized, the term itself is gathering too much marketing “buzz.”

He provided an example of a comment left on an online video of his that referenced “intangible ROI,” something he (rightly) says does not exist.

“There is no such thing as intangible ROI. The whole definition of ROI is that it should be tangible,” Menno says.

He continues, “This term — ROI — is now starting to lead a life of its own, and is being used by email service providers to explain to their potential customers that doing business with them will give them great ROI on their marketing investment.” Menno also mentions email providers are not alone in using this sales pitch and cited search marketers, social media markers and other agencies.

“There is more than just ROI, and the real value of marketing may require a different metric, or a different scorecard, than just the financial one,” he states.

Read more…

Webinar How To: The 8 roles you need to fill to make your virtual event a success

July 15th, 2011

B2B marketers are increasing their investments in inbound tactics. Don’t just take my word for it. When we surveyed 935 of your peers for the MarketingSherpa 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, 60% said they were increasing investment in virtual events and webinars.

But what does it take to produce an effective webinar? A virtual event that will grab people’s attention and encourage them to leap into your funnel, as opposed to check their email while you ramble on?

At MECLABS, we produce some pretty popular webinars. I’m not trying to brag about our crazy webinar skills. The truth is, we invest a lot of resources in these. And that’s why they’re good.

So when webinar director, Austin McCraw, presented me with an org chart of the roles that we fill during the average webinar, I thought it could be very useful to the MarketingSherpa audience.

Now, when I saw we invest a lot in these webinars, these are not full-time employees dedicated solely to webinars. Webinar director is not Austin’s official title. And on one webinar or another, I’ve filled every role we’re about to discuss. You will very likely have one person fill more than one role.

But I think this org chart may be helpful to you because it gives you an idea of all the bases you should consider covering for a successful, interactive webinar with your audience.


In Hollywood, the producer is the money man. The one investing in the film, but also ensuring it makes money (or, in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” loses money).

In the marketing world, the producers are likely marketing managers, product managers, and business leaders that fund the webinars with their marketing budgets, and seek to generate profitable leads or valuable lead nurturing from the webinars.

It is crucial to ensure producers are involved in the entire webinar process, so everyone is clear on the goal for the webinar and the value your company expects to derive from it.


You don’t need Spielberg, but you do need one central decision maker. Webinars are live productions, and as with any live event, (even when it is virtual) things can and do go wrong. You need someone who is quick on their feet and has the guts to be able to call the tough shots. Your Internet connection died. The slides aren’t advancing. The audio isn’t working. What do you do? Quick, you have 12 seconds to decide before your audience starts dropping off the webinar.

Writer/Stage Director

A good webinar is filled with well-thought out content that guides your audience through a logical thought sequence, much like a film or story would. You need to not only create that content, but prep your presenters for exactly how to deliver it. Virtual stage blocking, if you will.

Technical Director

You can’t host a webinar without technology. And as with any technology, it helps to actually know how to use it. You’re far less likely to have a Skype chat pop-up that reveals company secrets live to the audience if you actually know what you’re doing and don’t have to ask “what does that red button do?”

Our setup for the MarketingExperiments Web clinic is quite complex, complete with a mixing board, handheld and wireless microphones, and an Apple computer running Final Cut Pro to capture the live audio for our Web clinic replays.

You don’t need to go to this level. But you do need to know, or have someone who knows, how to actually use the webinar platform.

Audience Supervisor

Sure, you could drone on for an hour about all the features and benefits of your product. Or, you could actually respect your audience (and capture their attention), by including them as much as possible in the webinar. That is, after all, the benefit to your audience of taking an hour from their busy day and actually attending a live event.

The audience supervisor not only tries to maximize interaction points with the audience, but also monitors the audience’s feedback and reactions to constantly make the course corrections needed to optimize the performance while the webinar is being conducted.

A good speaker naturally does this before a live audience, gauging the reaction – from boredom to engagement – and changing the presentation as she goes. This is harder, but not in possible, in a virtual event, so your presenters are going to need a little help and guidance.

Main Presenter

The main presenter is essentially a moderator. Someone who can act as an advocate for the audience. He’s Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, Oprah Winfrey, Terry Gross, Bill Maher, Ira Glass. The kind of person that can relate what a technical expert is saying to novice listeners.

Another important skill is the ability to tie disparate parts of the presentation together into a natural flow with well thought-out segues. And, with the audience supervisor’s help, tie in audience comments, questions, and other interaction.

All very naturally. All part of the flow. All part of the show.


Your practitioners and subject matter experts are why people tune in to being with. But they’re not necessarily expert presenters. And that’s one reason why you have everybody else in this org chart. To support these guys…your well-coddled stars.

The main presenter may certainly well be one of your subject matter experts or practitioners, but it takes the right set of skills and the right personality to pull both roles off well.


The monitors support the audience supervisor and, based on your resources, they all may be one and the same. They engage with your audience using virtual platforms – responding to questions, probing the audience for feedback and interaction, providing supplementary resources, and solving problems. We’ve found that the Q&A function in the webinar platform, along with a hashtag on Twitter, are good platforms for interacting with our audience.

You should also have a technical monitor making sure the audio and slides of the webinar are streaming well and actually working. It could be someone in a different room or even a different city. Your other monitors should pick up on this if they’re listening to audience feedback, but it never hurts to know something isn’t working before your audience starts complaining.

Related resources

Marketing Webinar Optimization: Five questions to ask yourself about webinars

New to B2B Webinars? Learn 6 steps for creating an effective webinar strategy

Free webinar, Wednesday, July 20 — Copywriting on Tight Deadlines: How ordinary marketers are achieving 200% gains with a step-by-step framework (educational funding provided by HubSpot)

Free webinar, Thursday, July 28 — How to create engaging content for successful lead generation

Evidence-based Marketing: This blog post will not solve your most pressing marketing challenges…yet

June 23rd, 2011

Here at MECLABS, we have a pretty singular focus – to help you optimize your sales and marketing funnel. Or as I like to say in every email I write: Our job is to help you do your job better.

But, as Tom Cruise said to Katie Holmes (or maybe it was Cuba Gooding, Jr.), “Help me, help you.”

So evidence-based marketers, on what topic do you need more evidence? Evidence to help you understand what your peers are doing. Evidence to help you understand what really works. Evidence to do a little internal marketing to your business leaders (or for the agency folks out there, your clients)?

Below are a few key topics you’ve been telling us you want to learn more about. We’re trying to decide on the topic for our next MarketingSherpa Benchmark Report. In which topic should we invest 5 months of a research manager’s time digging into to discover the evidence you need.

Please take 7 seconds and rank them in order of importance in the poll below. Or if we missed a topic entirely, please tell us in the comments section below.

In no particular order, the nominees are…

  • Analytics – Using analytics and metrics to drive business decisions from which products to launch to which landing page works best to which content is most relevant to your audience.
  • Mobile – Mobile tactics can vary slightly or widely from traditional approaches, so how are marketers developing and implementing wireless strategies? How are marketers planning their budgets and measuring their results? And, for the love of all that is holy, when on Earth will I be able to view Flash on my iPad? OK, maybe not that last one. But seriously Steve, it would be nice.
  • E-commerce – What do direct sale sites view as the top opportunities for the upcoming year? Are they investing in site speed enhancement, conversion optimization, or both? And is social media impacting purchases?
  • Agency and vendor selection and management – What factors play into how marketers choose and compensate agencies? How do marketers determine if they need a software platform in a specific space? And if so, do they buy, go with open source, or attempt something homegrown? How do you get IT’s support in choosing a vendor? And then, more importantly, how do you get IT to stop talking about “Star Trek: The Next Generation” already?
  • Salary survey – How much does Bill make?  He hasn’t had a good idea since 1993. And his tuna salad lunches stink up the office. OK, if not Bill, then what about the rest of your peers. Are you being fairly compensated? And what should you pay your team?
  • Lead generation – Which information do marketers view as most valuable? How do they keep their databases updated and clean? Do marketers find third-party lists effective? And in an age of social media, do marketers value a big email list as much?
  • Content marketing and lead nurturing – Do my peers outsource content creation or do it in-house? If so, how? Do they have their own teams? Or just beg, borrow, and steal from other departments?

Marketing Optimization: 4 steps to discovering your value proposition and boosting conversions

May 20th, 2011

Confession time…one of my favorite movies is the Will Ferrell classic, Elf. I love the scene where Buddy (the elf) sees a sign outside of a coffee shop announcing that it has “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee.”

It’s quite a value proposition and thanks to Buddy’s innocence (or ignorance) he barges into the shop and congratulates the entire staff for a job well done. The reason it’s so funny is because we know better. Even the staff at the coffee shop knows better.  To believe such a claim is ridiculous.

Yet many companies still have trouble avoiding such preposterous value propositions in their marketing.

According to a recent incentivized survey done by MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister company), 120 out of the 275 (30%) total business plans we reviewed had no real value proposition. Another 60% were categorized as having only limited or substantial value. Only 10% were considered to have a strong, unique value proposition.

In all, on our scale of zero to five, 90% of those surveyed were at or under a two.

It’s an unnerving statistic given that a well-stated value proposition has (according to our research) been proven to get better response rates on everything from business plans to landing pages.

So how do we craft a value prop that isn’t going to induce a side-splitting laugh in your audience?

Well, I have yet another confession to make…

I’m probably not the right person to ask. I honestly don’t have a lot of background with value proposition. But I DID recently attend a workshop on Landing Page Optimization with the Managing Director (CEO) of MECLABS, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin.

In it, he devoted a whole section to getting your value proposition straight. So I’m going to share what I learned there and share a little of my own commentary as well.

A true value prop isn’t dictated in a board room

According to Flint, the basic key to determining a strong value proposition for your company is understanding that a value prop is not usually determined, it is discovered.

It’s a simple shift in thinking that makes a huge difference. Sitting at your desk and trying to manufacture a shiny new value proposition that you think will sound good is usually pretty fruitless.

Prepare yourself for some hard thinking and investigation into the bowels of your company, as we explore four steps to discovering your value proposition…

1. Answer the question: If I am your ideal customer, why buy from you rather than your competitors?
Assuming it was true, “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee” could be an excellent value proposition. The ideal customer in this case is your typical Manhattan coffee drinker and the reason they should buy coffee there is obvious – it’s the best in the world.

The problem is, it’s not true. The modern consumer simply does not believe your overindulgent hype. So the ideal customer is put off and ends up without a reason to buy coffee there instead of the better-looking shop across the street.

Admittedly, this is an extreme example. Yet marketers make this mistake every day. You likely come across this marketing jargon-filled hype every day. Does a two-person B2B tech start-up really offer a scalable solution for Fortune 500 companies, for example? Just because you say it in your marketing material doesn’t make it true. And your savvy audience is well aware of this fact.

When you’re answering this question for your own value prop, it’s important to note here that you are putting yourself into your customer’s mind by answering as if you were them. So spit out the Kool-Aid and be a little skeptical.

2. Compare your answer with the claims of your main competitors.

Of course we all know that just about anywhere you go, there’s a coffee shop claiming to have the world’s best cup of coffee. Again, that’s part of the comedy of this scene.

If any of your competitors can say the same thing about their products or business as you without completely lying, you don’t have a strong value proposition.

While your mother probably told you how special you were, a unique snowflake unlike all the other kindergarteners in the world, the same can’t automatically be said about your product offering and company. Is it really unique? Or do people only buy from you on a lark or because they haven’t stumbled across your competitors yet?

3. Refine your value proposition until you can articulate it in a single, instantly credible sentence.

The problem with the coffee shop’s value proposition was that it wasn’t instantly credible. No one believes their coffee is the best coffee in the world because there’s no way to prove that.

Your value proposition must be instantly believable. A great way to do this is to add numbers to your value proposition. If that coffee shop had said something along the lines of, “9 out of 10 people preferred our coffee to Starbucks”…you’d be more likely to believe it.

Another strategy is to be as specific as possible. Let’s say you’re not quite there yet with the imaginary value proposition above. What if it said, “9 out of 10 people preferred our coffee to Starbucks in a double-blind taste test?”

The double-blind taste test adds a dimension of specificity that increases the credibility of the sentence.

4. In the end, you must test your value proposition.

No matter what you do to come up with a value proposition, there’s no way to guess what resonates the best with your audience. You need to test it.

Your value prop should be visible in every step of your sales process. Wherever you display it, test different phrasing, angles, and ideas to get deeper inside the mind of your customers.

The better you know what they find valuable, the better you can serve them.

The next stop of the MarketingExperiments Landing Page Optimization Workshop tour is on June 1 in Atlanta. It will also be taught by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin. Then our MECLABS team will take the workshop on the road to New York, San Francisco…and more cities to be announced.

Related Resources

B2B Marketing: On Occam’s razor and value propositions

Optimizing Landing Pages: 3 Keys to Increasing Conversion Rates

Powerful Value Propositions

Value Proposition: Our research team answers your questions

Marketing Strategies: Is performance-based vendor pricing the best value?

April 12th, 2011

Every advertising agency, SEO specialist, and PR firm likes to be seen as a partner, not a vendor. And that may well define your relationship. But, go down to accounting and explain that relationship, and they’ll laugh in your face.

And for good reason. While, hopefully, you do have that close knit partner relationship, at the end of the day, this is a financial arrangement and you must maximize the value of that arrangement.

On the face of it, performanced-based pricing seems like a no-brainer. You get a guaranteed result, or you don’t pay.

Is this a great country, or what?

Like many things, the devil is in the details. First of all, you have to keep in mind that the vendor knows the metrics far better than most prospective clients do. That means, in many cases, the vendor is selling the illusion of risk.  Second, and more importantly, you have to be sure the result you are paying for is the result you really want.

Let me show you what I mean. I’ll use a teleprospecting vendor as an example, and highlight the lesson you can get out of each example for the type of vendors you work with every day.

What intermediate metrics truly contribute to your success?

In B2B lead generation, a common result is defined as an appointment for sales people. The cost per appointment generally runs from about $400 to $800, depending typically on volume, your brand and the target.  If you can provide the vendor with the people your sales team absolutely, positively wants appointments with, you’re in business.

In my case, I would gladly take appointments with CMOs of B2B companies with $500 million or more in revenue. At least, that would probably be my immediate response. Of course, there might be a few CMOs in that target that oversee pure e-commerce plays, or highly commoditized, low-end products that do not require lead generation, my area of expertise (or, so I would like to think). Therefore, I might pay for some appointments that I don’t really want. So, the real cost for a qualified appointment might be a bit higher than I originally agreed to.

Then there is the hidden cost: sales productivity. The purpose of such services is to increase sales productivity. For these kinds of top executive-level appointments, the representative might very well expect to meet face-to-face with the CMO. So, you have to add to the equation the cost of the commuting time and meeting time. Loaded field sales costs for complex solutions often start at about $100 an hour and can be $500 an hour or more, for elite, high-end key account sales people.

Very quickly, a $500 appointment can become an $800 or even $1,500 appointment, especially if any serious commuting takes place. If the conversion-to-deal is high or the revenue-per-deal is high, then who cares? In many cases, however, buyers find out that 20 to 30 percent of the appointments are not a fit. Now the cost of the qualified appointment goes way up, and the soft cost of sales expense goes to the moon, not to mention the hit on sales productivity.

Unless you are absolutely certain that your sales team wants appointments with a particular set of individuals, then you really need to focus more on qualified leads, not just appointments.

LESSON LEARNED: Make sure you pick the correct intermediate metrics when paying for performance.

Are you helping  your vendors be successful?

OK, now you have learned your lesson, the hard way. You won’t do that again, right? So you negotiate a cost per lead fee structure. Before you do, you wisely work with sales to define BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline) lead criteria and structure the deal accordingly. Again, the devil is in the details. What if sales discovered, after further review, that what they really wanted was to get in to larger accounts before the prospect had finalized a budget? In those cases, maybe the deal takes longer but the win rate is higher and the deal size is higher. Happens all the time. Now you have to try to change the deal. At least for some accounts.

With leads, there is also often subjective information, open to interpretation. Is the prospect really acting with authority? Do they really have a budget? Even seasoned sales people can be mistaken about such things. In short, lead qualification is almost always nuanced, complex and evolving, as the teleprospecting operation figures out how to qualify leads precisely and the sales organization figures out what it really wants and needs. This reality often creates conflict with the vendor initially, because the fee structure negotiated is not really the right fee structure and so one side or the other loses.

Finally, if the vendor is taking all the risk, many people understandably put vendor support on the back burner. It’s human nature. In reality, teleprospecting operations fail, including those that are in-house, without proper support from marketing and sales. For example, from marketing, this operation needs lists, assets and tools, and an appropriate supply of reasonably qualified responders. From sales, the team needs training and mentoring on qualification and precise, rapid feedback on leads..

After all, the fee is fixed and the operation should run on auto-pilot. You also might not bother investing in effective demand generation that feeds the vendor or even list development, instead allowing the vendor to get by on cold-calling decaying lists.

Your program then becomes the dumping ground for new hires. The vendor might also park underperformers there before giving them their walking papers. In other words, both you and the vendor try to extract some value out of the effort. But, some of what matters isn’t getting measured, like the cost in the market place to your brand because of the quality of the calling.

LESSON LEARNED: A business relationship is a two-way street. Your vendor can’t help you be successful, if you don’t help it be successful. As Jerry Maguire said, “Help me help you!”

Is there transparency in your relationship?

So, what’s the right approach? It really depends on what you need and how clear you are about your needs. If you have a reasonably well-oiled, well-documented process and approach to teleprospecting, then asking the vendor to share in the risk and the upside can serve your mutual long-term interests.

If things are not going so well and you need to figure out the right approach, then pay-for-performance is going to create unnecessary conflict. You might be better served in that case to put your focus on determining the right model or strategy for teleprospecting and the parameters of a pilot. Insist on a level of transparency during the pilot and then use the pilot to optimize the approach. Then, after the production level has begun to plateau, start working on a shared risk model.

The right shared risk fee structures ensure that both the vendor and the client win if the program is working and lose if the program is failing. To arrive at such an arrangement, there must be clarity on both sides about mutual obligations and the consquences for non-compliance. Mutual trust and respect are also necessary, including a win-win approach to the fee structure.

To those who might argue that every dollar of profit a vendor makes is a dollar of margin that is lost to its clients, I would point to the free enterprise system. Everywhere in free markets, the quest for profits drives higher levels of efficiency (and losing money drives companies out of markets and out of business). If the vendor makes above average profits for driving above average efficiency, then its clients are the beneficiaries. And the profits that the vendor makes must always be tempered by what its competitors offer or what its clients believe they can achieve in-house.

LESSON LEARNED: A rising tide lifts all boats…as long as everyone is clear on how “tide” and “boat” are defined in the process. So, before you dive in, dip your toe in and start with a pilot that has flexibility to evolve over time. Once the proper success metrics have been discovered, and a working relationship is established, you can create a more successful payment model that truly shares risk and reward.

But don’t stop there. Look at this as an evolving fee model. Continue to optimize as you learn more about what creates a mutually successful relationship.

Related Resources

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

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

B2B Marketing: The FUEL methodology outlined

Free MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter

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

April 1st, 2011

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.

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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

Online Advertising: How your peers optimize banner ads

March 29th, 2011

Online display ad spending by B2C marketers increased 57 percent over the last two years…which means more competition for your ads to get that click, and more pressure to deliver ROI on your ad spending.

To help you get the most from your banner ads, we’re hosting a webinar this Thursday, sponsored by TRUSTe, to teach you “How to optimize your banner ad performance while complying with new privacy regulations.”

But before we share our discoveries, we wanted to hear what you had to say. Here are a couple of our favorite tips for optimizing display advertising…

Match your ad closely with the landing page

Create a landing page for this ad, don’t send people to your homepage and make them figure out what to do next or where to look for their answer. Your ad attracted them for a reason – usually to solve a problem, so make sure you offer a solution that they can find easily before they lose interest:

  • Make sure your ad matches the look and feel of the page they will be landing on – from wording used, to matching the colors of the display ad with the landing page. You want to ensure the person who clicked on your ad knows they have arrived at the right site.
  • Reinforce your message from the ad through headlines and copy on the page, as well as images.
  • Along with your solution, make sure both the ad and the landing page have a call to action that clearly tells the visitor what step they need to take next in order to complete the desired action. Whether it be signing up for a newsletter or adding something to their shopping cart, a direct call to action promotes user activity.
  • Test. Don’t assume your first ad you created is working out well. Always test and see what you can do to improve the ad and landing page. When you have determined a winning ad – test a new one, make it a continual process.

Rebekah May, Founder, Whole SEO


First ask “Why?”

You need to know why you’re running display ads long before you start. So many companies have said “we need to try banner” with no idea of whether they want to run a branded campaign or a direct response campaign, and whether they want to run on a CPA, CPC or CPM basis. Display will flop dramatically if you don’t have a goal.

And then make sure that whatever your goal is, you must design your creative around it. There’s no point putting a brand ad out on a direct response campaign (or vice versa). I’ve seen people create banners that are so pretty but have no call to action, and then wonder why they get no clicks.

– Carl Eisenstein, Founder, DropDigger

Related Resources

How to optimize your banner ad performance while complying with new privacy regulations — Webinar, Thursday, March  31, 2011, 1-2 PM.

Sherpa 101: Online Display Ads, Part II – Copywriting, Design Tips & Ad Networks + How to Counter ‘Banner Blindness’

Online Advertising: The 3 obstacles you must overcome to create an effective banner ad

This Just Tested: PPC vs. banner ads?