Entries Tagged as 'Online marketing'
Interested in getting some expert advice about how to optimize the lead-generation conversion rates of your web pages?
If so, be sure to attend this complimentary, how-to webinar for B2B marketers:
HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR ONLINE LEAD-GEN CONVERSION RATE
A complimentary, 50-minute Webinar
This Thursday - February 17, 2011
11:00am PST - 2:00pm EST
Two experts on online lead generation will share proven techniques for generate more leads and sales from you web pages, email and PPC landing pages.
Your host will be me, M. H. (Mac) McIntosh, a B2B sales lead and marketing automation consultant who I’m honored to say was recently voted #1 of SLMA’s Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management.
My expert guest will be Raquel Hirsch, president and co-founder of WiderFunnel Marketing, the web page optimization experts.
By attending you’ll:
- Learn about small changes you can test on your web pages and landing pages that will cause big increases in the leads and sales that results
- See before-and-after examples of weak web pages that have been turned into real winners
- Understand why following “conventional online wisdom” often isn’t wise, and how to determine what really works best
- Witness a live web page evaluation of an attendee’s web page (See the bonus offer below!)
We invite you to be our guest at this information-packed webinar.
Click here to register or cut and paste the following link into your browser:
Please note: There are only 100 seats available on first-come, first-served basis, and more than half of them are already reserved. So you must register right away if you want to attend.
***Bonus! Get a live evaluation of one of your landing pages***
When you register, be sure to enter your web page URL for a chance to have that web page evaluated live during the webinar!
This is one of a series of occasional interviews with top practitioners on topics of interest to business-to-business lead generation, marketing and new business development professionals.
Dianna, what are some of the marketing mistakes you see smaller companies making with regard to B2B marketing communications strategy, and what should smart marketers do instead?
Mac, that’s a good question. I see companies frequently making these two common mistakes:
First, not having a strategy. For example, someone from a small company will call to say, “We want to send out an e-newsletter,” but the marketer or business owner hasn’t thought through the purpose of the newsletter (except for the generic “We want to send people to our website”). Usually the person doesn’t know what the newsletter content will or should be, the publishing frequency, whether or not he or she wants to use segmented lists, etc., etc.
Smart marketers will sit down and plan out strategy based on a stated objective, whether it’s to increase sales, bring in more leads, better nurture the leads they have, lower their costs (i.e., move from a print newsletter to an e-newsletter), gain more industry exposure, market an e-book, etc., and then plan out the tactics for implementing the strategy from start to finish based on the objective.
Second, strategy doesn’t match the objective. By this, I mean that a marketer or business owner will have a stated objective – i.e., “We want more leads” – and the strategy for getting those leads might be something like writing articles for trade publications or developing a blog. Writing articles and developing a blog are both good marketing tactics for accomplishing such objectives as branding and awareness, but I wouldn’t use them to get leads in the door.
As you know, Mac, smart marketers use other methods, both online and off, to generate leads. For example, marketers would be better off using an integrated campaign that includes e-mail, direct mail and pay-per-click advertising to make offers (white papers, reports, e-books) specifically designed to generate leads.
I know you focus a lot on improving your clients’ websites. Dianna, what are the most common mistakes that small businesses are making with their websites, and what should they be doing better?
The biggest mistake small businesses make is to think of their websites as their “online brochures.” A website and a brochure are two completely different animals.
The other mistake I see is that many small businesses (and large ones too) have absolutely no clue about website marketing and search engine optimization. So they’ll spend a boatload of money to make their site look good graphically, then wonder why they still have no visitors.
To be successful online, companies must develop a strategy for getting traffic to their websites. For example, the site, or rather each of its pages, must be optimized in order to get found by the search engines.
Dianna, what do you think B2B marketers at small companies should be doing differently than their peers at big companies?
Actually, small companies usually already do things differently than their peers at large companies: because they are small, they can implement new ideas quickly. That’s one reason why savvy small-business marketers have flocked to SEO, social media, blogs, etc. It can take a large company months to make a decision on something as simple as optimizing a site, starting a blog or opening a Twitter account.
Small businesses do and should use this “nimbleness” to their advantage – and use the latest online marketing tools to build an Internet presence that rivals that of the “big boys.” As the HubSpot founders say in their book, Inbound Marketing, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” For example, prospects often think that my company is larger than it is, due to my strong presence on the Internet.
I noticed on Twitter that you said your #1-read blog post is the one about marketing communications job descriptions. Dianna, why do you think so many people are interested in that topic?
I think people are reading my marcom job description post because they’re looking for a job and/or they need to write a job description. The post is near the top of the search results in Google for “marcom job description” – that tells you the power of SEO and blogs – which is probably why I’m getting so much traffic to it.
My understanding is that you think marcom professionals – and those who hire them – focus too much on managing projects and copywriting. Please tell me more about that.
As you know, Mac, lots has been written about the negative consequences of the “disconnect” between marketing and sales. In fact, I still remember that wonderful cats and dogs presentation on the subject of integrating marketing and sales you gave at a conference last year.
In my opinion, the marketing/sales disconnect starts with the marcom job description. Just last week I was shown a marcom job description – and again, the company wanted someone who could write well and manage multiple projects. The job description did not address the most important fact: that marketing’s job is to help sales do their job – i.e., get results!
A marcom professional should know how to communicate well, of course, but this person needs to understand a whole other set of skills – as you and others pointed out in your follow-up post to my post.
So, until a company’s leaders start demanding more from its marketing communications practitioners, this disconnect will continue to exist and marketing and sales will continue to fight like cats and dogs.
You mentioned that more companies are asking you about social media marketing. What is your perspective on social media, Dianna? Is it something B2B marketers need to pay attention to?
Social media is definately something B2B marketers need to pay attention to. Why? Because as a Fortune 500 client said to me recently, “Although most of our customers are 50-year-old white men, it won’t be that way forever. Younger people are moving up the ranks – and they are social media savvy.”
Dianna, do you have any last thoughts on the subject of small company B2B marketing you want to share with our readers?
Marketing is changing – literally. It can be difficult to keep up with all that is new, and for that reason, a small-business owner may elect to simply “opt out.” After all, he or she reasons, “My customers have found me in the past via word of mouth, so I’ll keep doing that.”
Word of mouth will continue to work, but it has become what author David Meerman Scott calls “word of mouse.” So it really pays to ensure that you know how to use the Internet to effectively market your business. You simply cannot afford to ignore it.
Dianna, thanks for sharing your expertise with our readers.
Thank you, Mac, for the opportunity.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the subject of B2B marketing for small businesses?
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Join me and your business software marketing peers at this conference just for software marketing leaders.
Capterra: The Conference
Empowering Software Marketing Leaders
Make the absolute most out of your marketing efforts across the board. That’s the goal of this first-ever business software marketing conference.
You’ll learn cutting-edge strategies for improving everything from your online marketing to your lead generation efforts from top industry experts (including yours truly).
Confirmed speakers include Ramon Ray, Bryan Eisenberg, Wil Reynolds, Robert Wright, David Meerman Scott, Ruth Stevens, Ashish Vij, Stephanie Miller, and Gord Hotchkiss. Learn more about them here.
Each presentation will be tailored specifically for the business software industry, and will deliver highly practical ideas designed for immediate results. Topics will include:
- Always Be Testing: Marketing Optimization in Challenging Times
- SEO Tools You Can Use Today To Improve Your Rankings
- Winning Positioning Strategies For Software Category Leadership
- Visitors Come and Visitors Go: Why Aren’t They Becoming Customers?
- How To Motivate Action Online
- Using The New Rules of Marketing and PR to Reach Software Buyers Directly
- The latest tools and features in Google Analytics to help optimize your website lead pipeline
- Successfully Measuring Email Marketing Success
- The BuyerSphere — A Different Perspective on B2B Buying
The agenda shows my session, A Lead-Driven Approach to Increasing Business Software Sales, is scheduled for Monday, September 14th at 10:00 am.
My presentation will address proven ways to use sales leads to find more short-term sales opportunities that your sales team and channel partners can close before the end of the year.
I’ll also be facilitating a breakout session on Monday afternoon entitled, Lead Generation: A Group Idea Exchange. It will be your opportunity to swap ideas about lead generation with some of the best in the business: your business software marketing peers. This idea exchange will be an open forum where you’ll have a chance to share both your successes, and your challenges, with generating, nurturing and qualifying sales leads.
Will I see you at Capterra: The Conference?
If you are planning to attend, please be sure to take advantage of my special presenter’s discount code capcon09mm when registering. It will save you $100!
It is getting harder and harder for B-to-B marketers to get email delivered and read. Here’s what to do about it.
I’ve been saying for a while now that email works best as a one-to-one marketing tactic for communicating with people you already have a pre-existing business relationship with, but email shouldn’t be the primary media format for lead generation. Here’s why:
- Unsolicited commercial email, although legal in the U.S. if you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, is perceived by many to be spam. (Read the law here)
- As a result, much of this unsolicited commercial email is blocked by filters at the ISP, corporate gateway or desktop.
- Companies perceived as being spammers often find all their emails being blocked as a result.
Despite the resulting false “opens” as email is being filtered, much (perhaps most) unsolicited commercial email is never read by the intended recipients.
Yet tons of real spam is getting through, clogging up the email inboxes of business people and causing millions of hours of lost productivity as people wade through the junk looking for important emails. This causes more and more businesses to filter their incoming email. It also causes the filtering software companies to be less forgiving about letting unsolicited commercial emails get through.
You spend time and energy crafting the right marketing messages and content to connect with prospects and clients. Then you find it littered throughout the Internet on trashy websites–or worse, on a competitor’s.
Time to wage war on the offenders? I found a useful blog post listing “100 Tips to Defeat Content Thieves“. Some highlights:
- Set up Google Alerts for key phrases in your content — You’ll get regular emails with search results showing who else has your content on their site
- Add a message in your feeds asking people to email you if they are reading your content on someone else’s website.
- Put a spy image, a small image link, in the HTML, and watch your log files to see where it is being called from.
- CopyScape helps you find other sites with your content.
There’s lots more as well, including whether you have the rights to go for them and resources about how to go about it.
You’ve been hearing a lot about blogging for the past few years and you’ve reluctantly concluded that maybe it’s time to join the parade. Company blogs have a place in the B2B marketing arsenal, but only under the right circumstances.
While there are millions of blogs online, consider that the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that only 39 percent of Internet users read them. Is your target audience among them?
Blogs are usually more effective for enhancing brand image and awareness than they are for driving leads and sales.
Blogs establish expertise by giving the company a venue for sharing what they know about subjects related to the products and services they provide.
Some of the most effective business blogs are written by management personnel for business decision makers–it’s not just for the techies anymore. Regardless of their editorial focus, the best-read corporate blogs avoid hype and self-congratulatory content. Instead, they focus on content useful to readers.
To create awareness about your company, products and services, keep in mind that blogs tend to be favored in the Web’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). That can go a long way toward helping your company be found by prospects who are actively searching for what you sell.
Your blog can also have a big impact on a potential customer moving through the awareness/inquiry/consideration/purchase cycle. When you find areas of confusion about the marketplace or can answer common questions prospects have, you are supplying the information needed to move to a purchase decision–anticipating the needs of those who haven’t contacted you directly.
Required Commitment and Resources
To gain and maintain readers, you need to keep your blog fresh. So you’ll need someone who has the expertise, writing skills and time to frequently post new blog content. How frequently? According to a research study by public relations firm Porter Novelli and market analytics company Cymfony Inc., only 24 percent of bloggers post once a week or less (I belong to this camp). Some 39 percent of bloggers post several times a week and 37 percent post daily or multiple times a day.
Are you ready for a conversation?
Blogs are inherently a two-way medium. Get ready for bluntly honest responses from delighted real customers as well as disgruntled naysayers. Yes, you can choose to disallow comments completely, but that removes the authenticity that you can build with a blog versus other ways of keeping in touch.
You can screen comments, which I recommend. But don’t immediately trash the comments that raise valid concerns and issues. These tough topics are key to showing that your company can handle doubts and respond to them, as well as listen to problems and resolve them. Skeptical prospects will watch and learn that you are listening, making you stand out from the crowd.
I recommend that you plan to post new content to your blog weekly to start. You can always turn up the frequency later, once you’re sure you have the ability to keep up the pace.
You also need a place to host your blog. (If you’re looking for links from the blog to your Web site to boost your Web site’s search engine results, host it on a different server than where your Web site is hosted.) Consider using Microsoft Live Spaces (http://spaces.live.com) or search using a phrase like “blog hosting” on your favorite search engine to find additional and inexpensive options.
To Blog or Not to Blog?
I recommend that you consider blogging if you need a venue to demonstrate your expertise (branding) or are looking for additional ways to move up in the SERPs (for traffic). However, you should launch a blog only if you, someone on your staff, or an outsourcer can post regularly.
If you’re tasked with driving leads and sales, hand it off to someone else or put it on the back burner. There are plenty of marketing tactics that will have a more direct impact on the bottom line.