Entries Tagged as 'B2B marketing automation'

How to Improve Your Marketing Automation ROI

Effective B2B marketing processes plus automation yield outsized returns

Calculating the return on marketing automationA recent research study by Sirius Decisions (sponsored by Marketo), Calculating the Return on Marketing Automation, shares a framework for establishing a return on marketing automation, and discusses why the purchase of a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) alone – without the proper processes and skills wrapped around it – will likely produce disappointing results.

According to the study results, Marketing Automation technology paired with appropriate, systemic processes can yield four to five times the number of closed deals when compared to deployed technology alone. The magic lies in realizing higher conversion rates throughout the Sales cycle. It’s not about generating more leads; it’s about identifying the right leads.

Companies using technology alone to solve their demand creation issues experience lower returns than companies who have no marketing automation AND no processes. The report breaks companies into three segments:

  1. No Marketing Automation with no processes
  2. Marketing Automation with no/weak processes
  3. Marketing Automation with average processes.

No MAP / No Processes

This group features organizations that exhibit a complete set of legacy demand creation tendencies. They have a funnel with an extremely wide top that quickly narrows to a trickle by its end. With no shared processes in place between Sales and Marketing (e.g. target market definitions, lead handoff criteria, service-level agreements), lead generators have little choice but to flood the funnel with any prospect who shows the slightest interest. Email is the most typical tool, yielding a response rate of roughly two percent.

Almost all responses are passed on to a qualification function (usually inside sales). Conversion rates from response to ‘lead’ can range as high as 85 percent. The lack of qualification at the top results in abysmal conversion rates at the middle and bottom. An average of only five percent will be qualified as true leads by telemarketing. “Sales fatigue” sets in over time in terms of leads that come from Marketing. Telemarketing finds out these leads are of low quality, so reps turn to cold calling, preferring to control the quality of their lead destiny themselves. Field reps will likely ignore Marketing’s output even more. Given a starting marketing database of 50,000, this scenario yields roughly one closed deal (or average additional revenue of $100,000) per marketing program.

MAP Plus No / Weak Processes

This group is made up of organizations that purchase a MAP, but don’t spend the time building all (or any) of the processes that drive true MAP performance. By itself, a MAP can help marketers refine their targeting and the assignment of specific content to prospects; together these drive greater response rates. This yields a response rate of three percent. Improved data quality within the MAP means that Marketing will reject more inquiries, dropping the conversion rate at the first juncture to 75 percent. This rate is still too high, overflowing the telemarketing function with even more unqualified leads. The middle and bottom conversion rates are unchanged from the first scenario. The close rate remains the same, but costs increase.

According to the study, a typical software-as-a-service-based MAP runs roughly $100,000 in the first year – when one includes the platform, implementation, integration, training and support. In this “MAC plus NO or Weak Processes” scenario, an organization with a database of 50,000 will see revenues increase only about $100,000 in the first year. In addition, if Marketing has raised expectations that lead quality will increase due to this MAP purchase, greater friction between Sales and Marketing results.

MAP Plus Average Processes

Process plus marketing automation equals higher ROIThe third group consists of organizations that purchase a MAP and drive alignment between Sales and Marketing around target market definitions, lead handoff criteria and service-level agreements. When this occurs, marketers are able to take advantage of broader MAP functionality including lead scoring, portfolio marketing and lead routing. The value of this functionality shows in performance. Improved focus on the best targets raises the response rate to roughly four percent. A significantly lower conversion rate of only four (compared to 85 and 75 above) percent ultimately yields much better results, because these are true Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).

With a handoff process in place, Sales now accepts and processes more than 58 percent of MQLs. The higher quality of these leads in turn yields an increased close rate of a bit more than 23 percent. An organization can expect to close roughly five deals per program based on a 50,000-name database. That’s a revenue increase of about $400,000.

Lessons Learned

Processes should always precede technology. Deploying technology without Sales and Marketing processes in place will only highlight the problems you always had. The key is to rethink your approach and use technology to leverage your processes, not the other way around.

How does this align with your experience?

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B2B lead qualification and scoring

qualified leads

The growth of the Internet has changed B2B buyer activity.

Buyers don’t wait for a sales person to call them anymore. They get most of their education on the web. As B2B buyers increasingly use online channels to do their research, Marketing meets prospects earlier than ever in the buying process – often long before the prospects are ready to engage with Sales. This is one reason that, on average, only 25% of new leads are sales ready.

So you need a way to determine which leads are ready for Sales, and which need to be nurtured.

I was thinking about all the lead qualification criteria I’ve seen used in B2B lead generation programs and decided to list them by category. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Firmographics (industry, company size, location)
  • Demographics (contact’s title, job function)
  • Contactability (phone number, email address)
  • Action taken (attended webinar, downloaded whitepaper, requested pricing, spent time on certain Web pages)
  • Frequency, quality, quantity, recency of actions taken
  • Social media engagement (commenting on blog posts, joining social network discussions, retweeting)
  • Need for your product or service (application or problem needing to be solved)
  • Buying Stage (awareness, consideration, decision)
  • Fit (your products or services meet or exceed their technical, performance, reliability requirements)
  • Competition (what other competitors are involved? can you win against them?)
  • Contact’s role in the purchase decision process (recommender, influencer, decision maker)
  • Timing (purchase decision timing, implementation timing – how soon?)
  • Availability of funding for the purchase (has budget, can get budget)
  • Size of the opportunity (quantity needed, revenue potential).

In a survey conducted by Sirius Decisions, they found that companies who give fewer (better qualified) leads to Sales actually sell more. That means that if Marketing does a better job of qualifying leads, Sales can close more profitable deals, resulting in increased revenues.

Using the criteria I’ve listed above, plus the information in The Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring published by my friends at Marketo, you’ll be able to design a process that ensures Sales only gets sales-ready leads.

Lead scoring seems to be on everybody’s mind. My friends over at SilverPop have also focused on Lead Scoring with this blog post: Five Prospect Behaviors You Should Be Incorporating into Your Lead Scoring Process.

It’s obvious that lead qualification is growing in importance as Sales and Marketing productivity becomes more of an issue.

Do you have anything to add regarding lead qualification or lead scoring?


Bridging the Content Chasm for B-to-B marketing automation and lead generation

There’s a new marketing term that I’m hearing more and more often – “the Content Chasm”.

bridging the content chasm

It refers to the ascendance of content marketing (especially in B-to-B), and the differential between the current inventory of quality content that most B-to-B companies have, and the amount they need to have to market effectively.

I’m expanding the meaning of the Content Chasm to address two other major trends in B-to-B marketing:

  1. The difference between the ROI of marketing automation fueled by generic content, and what that same technology can accomplish when fueled by segmented and targeted messaging;
  2. The discrepancy between the formats most marketers use (primarily text and PDFs) for their messaging, and the way most prospects want to consume information (multimedia).

Changing buyer behaviors require B2B marketers to communicate with prospects and customers in new ways. 

How?  By delivering content that is personalized to the prospective buyers’ roles, where they are in their buying process and their personal preferences for consumption.

Buying marketing automation and then only using it for batch-and-blast emails is a waste of time and money.

Segmented, well-targeted and relevant communications get much better results.

The real benefit of marketing automation is exactly that: the ability to deliver the right message, with the right offer, to the right prospect, in the right format, at the right time.

Content + Automation = True 1 to 1 Marketing

In other words, true one-to-one marketing to many – something that we couldn’t do to any scale before marketing automation came along. This has made marketing automation a mission-critical system for B-to-B marketers, but too many marketing leaders head down the automation path without fully realizing what they’re getting into.

I’ve written before about the need for having processes in place to support and extend the effectiveness of marketing automation. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, so I’ll be revisiting it. The Content Chasm represents another major issue affecting the success of marketing automation, and of B-to-B lead generation and lead nurturing. I’ll also be diving deeper into it (pun intended) in future posts.

So tell me, what are your experiences with, or opinions about, the Content Chasm?


B2B marketing automation: An interview with Will Schnabel

This is one of a series of occasional interviews with top practitioners on topics of interest to B2B lead generation, marketing and new business development professionals.

Marketing automation has become a growing issue for B2B marketers as they strive to maximize lead generation efforts and provide personalized touch points for all prospects.

Will SchnabelWill Schnabel, VP of Global Business Development at marketing automation leader Silverpop, agreed to be interviewed for this blog post. Will joined Silverpop in 2007 following the company’s acquisition of Vtrenz, where he was President and CEO. Upon joining Silverpop, Will assumed responsibility for overall operations and product direction of Silverpop’s Engage B2B solution, a demand generation and lead-management platform and recently transitioned to focus on growing and driving customer integration with Silverpop’s extensive partner network.

Mac: I’m wondering how Silverpop is changing its technology to meet the changing needs of your clients.

Will: More marketers are now taking a strategic view of marketing automation rather than just an operational view. They’re looking at marketing automation’s increasingly robust capabilities and how they can help educate buyers in a way that nurtures relationships… and delivers sales-ready opportunities. Beyond increasing efficiency, we’re enabling companies to engage a buyer on her own terms and at her own pace – via social channels, scoring, segmentation, routing and automated campaign management. And the consulting capabilities around our solutions have also matured rapidly, with proven methodologies emerging that help a client crawl, walk, and then run – over time – with marketing automation.

I know you’ve had a flurry of product announcements this spring. Can you tell us about those?

Sure. We recently rolled out Engage 8.3 which was a very comprehensive release for us. Among the many new features are progressive profiling capabilities, multiple lead scoring models, social enhancements and snooze.

Snooze, in particular, created quite a bit of buzz in the marketplace. It gives marketers the ability to allow contacts to temporarily stop the receipt of marketing messages – for a week, a month, or six months, for example, rather than opting out of the program completely. This is a good option for someone who recently made a sizeable purchase and won’t have a need for that product or service again for some time; or for someone whose budget has changed and won’t be revisited until next year. By allowing them to Snooze, you not only save the relationship, but you let them know that you care about their preferences, which goes a long way in building customer loyalty.

That is a clever feature. You mentioned scoring earlier. Tell us more about that.

Our new Lead Scoring functionality creates multiple scoring models that segment on different product lines, geographies, behaviors or loyalty levels. So you have different views of a prospect that reflect the reality that they may be more interested in one of your products or services than others.

OK. That begs the question then, how do you automate how you handle prospects who are at different levels of engagement?

We automate that process so it becomes an ongoing conversation with each prospect, allowing marketers to learn more and more about each one over time. A contact who lands on your site for the first time may only be willing to give a first name and an email address. Asking someone to provide answers to too many questions during their initial interaction, or repeatedly asking for the same information, can lead to form abandonment. Our new Progressive Web Forms builder lets marketers pose new questions each time a contact visits their website or landing page, building the relationship over time and steadily gaining deeper insight into the contact’s interests.

How is Silverpop addressing the increasing importance of social media as a key marketing channel?

We were actually the first in the industry to address this when we launched Share-to-Social in 2008.

With the launch of Engage 8.3, we enhanced our social offers. Customers can now make it easy for their recipients to promote messages to their Facebook friends via “like” and “recommend’ buttons, and can suggest a list of additional Twitter accounts for a contact to follow after they’ve shared content. We also added StumbleUpon and Xing to the list of networks with which email recipients can share content. And we added location-based marketing capabilities via a FourSquare “To Do Button” option. Through this functionality, marketers create messages that recipients can easily add to their FourSquare account – so that they receive incredibly relevant offers when they check-in.

Thanks Will.

Readers, join the conversation…

Please add your comments by clicking on the word “comments” in the line below the Share button.


B2B marketing and lead generation campaigns: Expert tips

This is another in an ongoing series of tips from experts in
B2B marketing
, B2B lead generation & B2B marketing automation.

Peter AltschulerMeet Peter Altschuler, AcquireB2B’s Creative Director. Peter turns business and sales objectives into provocative, compelling, and highly focused lead generation campaigns. He presents products and services (both online and off) in ways that make sense to customers. In terms they find appealing. In language they understand.

Here are Peter’s Top Three Tips about marketing campaigns:

  1. Creative is the last step. Creative has to grow out of prospects’ expectations and perceptions, so talk with those people – to understand the problems they face, the ways they expect to solve them, and the language they use to describe it all.

  2. Know who you’re talking to. The people who buy aren’t always the people who start the process and move it along. That makes it vital to understand both the stage of the buying cycle and the role of the people you need to persuade in each communication.

  3. Check everything. Make sure that everything works – mechanically to be certain that landing pages, phone numbers, links, and the like are all functional; culturally to ensure that images and language are understood the way they’re intended; and effectively by testing each effort with customers.

Worth considering:
Need help getting your B2B lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns designed, implemented or improved? Consider putting AcquireB2B’s experts to work. Learn more here.

Readers, what are your tips regarding B2B marketing and lead generation campaigns?


Email tips from one of our B2B lead generation and marketing automation experts

This is the first in an ongoing series of tips from experts in B2B marketing, B2B lead generation and B2B marketing automation.

We’ll start off with tips from some of the experts who provide our sales lead management consulting, marketing training, marketing automation and lead-generation services.

Altaf Shaikh

First up is Altaf Shaikh, our email expert. He and his team of email specialists know how to create email campaigns that get delivered, opened, read and acted-upon.

Here are Altaf’s Top Three Email Tips:

  1. A/B Test Your Outcomes
    No email marketing campaign is the best it can be on the first iteration. Test your timing, subject lines, content and layouts to find what works best for your audience.

  2. Email Marketing is Not Standalone
    You can’t expect to hit the Send button on your emails and watch the leads and orders come flying in. Email needs to be part of a very deliberate and structured content marketing campaign; one that includes sharing information, having two-way conversations, and repurposing content for multiple media and audiences.
  3. Email is not a Dinosaur, It’s a Workhorse
    As emerging technologies and cutting edge new products keep whizzing by us, some are predicting the demise of email. But with subscribers now capable of controlling almost every type of marketing message they want to receive in their inbox (e.g. tips, reminders and customized offers), how can you find anything more targeted than a 1-to-1 note addressed to an individual who has opted in to receive it? New technologies will come and go, but email will continue to “deliver.”

Worth considering:
Need help getting your B2B email designed, delivered, opened, read and acted-upon? Consider putting AcquireB2B’s email experts to work.
Learn more here.

Readers, what are you top tips regarding B2B email?
Please add your comments by clicking on the word “comments” in the line below the Share button.

Need help with B2B lead generation, marketing and sales?
For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com