B2B Marketing Automation: Crawl, Walk, Run, Win

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B2B marketing automation, if done right, is an efficient and cost-effective tactic for engaging your prospects and helping them move forward in their buying process; ultimately generating more of the qualified, sales-ready leads that your salespeople and channel partners need to meet your company’s sales, revenue and growth goals.

The bad news is that when it comes it comes to implementing marketing automation for generating, nurturing and qualifying leads, many B2B marketers are daunted by the perceived complexity.

The good news? Putting marketing automation to work doesn’t have to be an overwhelming effort. You can start simply, building the sophistication of your marketing automation campaigns as you go. 

I call it the Crawl, Walk, Run, Win Approach to Putting Marketing Automation to Work.

Crawl: Focus first on building a strong foundation for your marketing automation campaigns.

Step 1: Develop Personas and Related Content

Think about your customers’ motivations, expectations and goals. Develop a core definition of who you’re targeting. Use these definitions as models for adding companies and contacts to your marketing automation database. Repurpose, refresh or create content for offers that are relevant and useful to them. Test your offers to see which work best.

Step 2: Improve Targeting and Deliverability

Take the time to clean up your prospect database. An old and/or dirty list will have many obsolete addresses. Integrate data from various sources. Eliminate duplicates. As email will be one of your marketing automation tactics, confirm your list addressees have given permission. Then be sure to test your emails to assure that they will display well in various email readers and on hand-held devices and to minimize the chance they will get caught up in spam filters.

Step 3: Capture Data More Efficiently

Learn more about your prospects. Don’t turn them off with opt-in forms containing a long list of questions. Determine the minimum amount of relevant information you need to get up front, planning to get the rest later as you build a sales-winning relationship with prospects.

WALK: Integrate Campaigning

Now, with a firm foundation, you can start your marketing automation.

Step 1: Build Multi-Touch Campaigns

Prospects require anywhere from three to 15 touches over an extended time period to nurture them from initial interest to conversion. Build a multi-touch campaign with one or more touches per buying-cycle step.

Step 2: Send at the Right Time

Space the touches out over time, so you’re neither annoying them with too much too soon, nor losing momentum by allowing too much time to pass between touches.

RUN: Automate the Dialogue and Process

Once your marketing automation is up-and-running, it is time to improve your lead-management processes to increase efficiency and tighten up any leaks in the sales funnel.

Step 1: Score Leads Using Implicit and Explicit Information

Gain agreement with Sales as to the definition of sales-ready, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). Working with your sales team, develop a lead scoring system to rank prospects according to the level of their buying interest or readiness to buy. Use both explicit data (e.g. company size, industry segment, job title, geographic location) and implicit data (e.g. website visits, email opens, click thrus) to determine which score as MQLs, ready to be passed along to sales.

Step 2: Develop Lead-Stage Campaigns

Not all leads are at the same stage of their buying process, so develop different campaigns for long-term prospects and short-term opportunities. Match the content and cadence to each. For example – More frequent communications containing information about demos, competitive positioning and pricing might be appropriate for short-term opportunities, but longer-term leads might require less frequent communications which offer information that is more educational in nature.

Step 3: Align with Sales

If possible, integrate your marketing automation platform with your CRM system to give Sales full visibility into Marketing’s activities, and vice versa.

WIN: Analyze and Improve

Fine-tune your marketing automation-driven lead generation and lead management processes to reach even higher ROI. A wonderful by-product of marketing automation is data about activity and results that you can use as market intelligence. Feed this “closed-loop” results information back into the system, using it to make better decisions, eliminating or fixing the things that are not working and doing more of what is working best.

The bottom line?

By following the “Crawl, walk, run, win” approach outlined above, it will be easier to get started and before you know it, you’ll be running sophisticated, efficient, and automated email marketing / lead generation / lead nurturing campaigns.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

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

 

Measuring and Managing Marketing ROI: An interview with Jim Lenskold

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.

Jim LenskoldMy guest today is Jim Lenskold, President, Lenskold Group, a consulting firm specializing in measuring and managing marketing ROI and author of the award-winning book ‘Marketing ROI’.

Jim’s company has published several research studies covering marketing metrics and ROI. One of the studies surveyed B2B marketers concerning Lead Generation Measurements & ROI. It delivers some interesting findings on the most effective tactics and opportunities for lead nurturing. The full report is available for download at www.lenskold.com/LeadGenROI.

Jim, It seems to me that in today’s accountable business world, marketers must track and measure the results of their programs. Am I right?

Yes, Mac – you’re right about the increased need to track and measure marketing results. But it’s even more important for Marketing to demonstrate the ability to improve performance and profitability. Marketing earns credibility when it leverages measurement insights to improve targeting, contact strategy, marketing mix integration, and offers.

Also keep in mind that running ROI scenarios to show the expected financial contribution from a campaign investment – even without measurements – demonstrates a level of accountability.

I’ve heard B2B marketers say things like, “I don’t control the sales process, so why should I be held responsible for the sales results of my marketing programs?” Jim, how would you answer that statement?

We’re all hired as professionals to deliver business results. If Sales can’t convert leads from Marketing, regardless of who’s responsible, why should the company invest in lead generation marketing programs?

Measurements and performance analysis must drive good business decisions, helping to diagnose problem areas that can be addressed. In some cases, these problem areas can be addressed strategically, such as by improving lead quality. In other situations, the problems may be operational or cultural, and are resolved only when marketing and sales align to address issues like sales capacity or compensation.

There are many challenges to measuring the contribution of B2B lead generation marketing. What are some of the basic steps to get started with measurements?

A good starting point, in terms of big impact, is to better assess lead quality as determined by the projected sales conversion rate and the projected customer value. Projected values allow quick evaluation and decisions regardless of long sales cycles and customer revenues coming in over time.

Note: Jim delivered a webinar on lead quality which is available on demand at ‘How To Increase the Quality of Your Leads’

More advanced and highly valuable measurements are those that determine the contribution of specific tactics within a complex multi-touch marketing environment. Measurements using modeling and carefully designed market testing can identify the contribution of tactics beyond either first touch or last touch attribution and therefore guide decisions on the marketing mix.

Jim, how do you define ROI as it applies to marketing? Does it include savings or improvements, or is it purely a financial calculation of cost vs. sales revenue?

Marketing ROI should be used to guide marketing investments toward the most profitable returns. The incremental investment is assessed against the incremental returns to the company, which are driven by sales, revenue and margins. When the investment results in a reduced cost to the business, such as marketing to drive customer service online instead of through inbound calls, those savings can be considered part of the return. In order to maintain integrity, it’s important that ROI be calculated accurately and that calculations are consistent with the way that Finance runs them.

What role does marketing and/or CRM automation play in supporting measurements and ROI?

Marketing automation provides a significant benefit in terms of capturing critical data for measurements, analysis, and ROI. When linked to a CRM or sales automation system, additional tracking of lead progression and conversions provides a better measure of marketing contribution. Marketing automation typically includes a base level of campaign results tracking and may also include functionality to create test and control groups.

Jim, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on measuring and managing Marketing ROI.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the subject?

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

 

Marketing for leads and sales: What’s working for technology companies today

This post is based on a transcript of an interview I did with Karl Hourigan, Digital Marketing Strategist for Mediative, immediately following one of the half-day workshops I presented in three cities across British Columbia for the BCTIA entitled, Marketing for Leads and Sales: What’s working for technology companies today. 

Karl asked the questions. The answers are mine.

What universal struggles do you see in the marketplace?

People aren’t sure what to do with so many choices of media and tactics. Companies have limited resources, so they can’t do it all. They’re struggling with content development. How do they create the amount of quality content they need with limited resources?

These aren’t new issues. They’ve been around awhile. It’s just that as the economy picks up, companies are beginning to address them.

Where should people start… how should they go about creating the content they need?

Inventory what (content) you already have in house. Much of it can be updated, bundled, repackaged and refreshed.

Update and adapt the appropriate collateral that your sales people have developed.

Curate and use other people’s content, with their permission and giving them credit. Add your own commentary by putting it into context in relation to your products and services.

What’s your advice on how B2Bs should allocate their marketing budgets?

As a rule of thumb, allocate (your marketing budget) into three buckets, approximately one third of the budget for each:

Take 33% of your budget and use it to improve your website. It is the foundation of your online marketing efforts. Invest in SEO to drive traffic. Add to the content on your site so prospects have a reason to return to it. If you have a blog, make sure it’s updated regularly. If you don’t have a blog, start one. Get into the appropriate online directories for your business.

The second third of your budget should be allocated to direct marketing. This includes list management. Clean your target prospect database. Grow it. Develop direct marketing campaigns. These can be online – email for example, or offline – telemarketing and direct mail.

The last third is for everything else. Five to ten per cent of your total budget should be allocated for research and testing. That will save you time and money overall. Another 5% should be set aside for contingencies… to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities as they crop up. The remainder of this third is for trade shows, ads, swag, etc. And it’s also for developing the content that can be leveraged for the other two buckets: Case studies, podcasts, webinars, etc.

Then what you do is build your marketing plan and make adjustments to the budgets… a little more here, a little less there.

How far ahead should businesses be planning their marketing?

Plan annually and modify your plan every quarter to reflect changing market conditions. Then get more specific with your plans regarding the execution of tasks each month.

Do you have any other advice for B2B technology marketers?

Don’t forget testing and optimizing. I see this often where, for example, a client will build and post a landing page for a specific offer, and then there’s no follow up. They should be measuring their traffic and their conversions, and fiddling with the headline, the graphics, the call to action, etc. to maximize effectiveness.

If you’re doing paid search, don’t just set it and forget it. Revisit it and see how effective it is. Tweak it to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

Make an effort to look at all your marketing activities and see what’s working and what isn’t. Jigger your budget to put more dollars on the parts of the plan that are giving the best ROI. Take what you learn along the way and feed it back into your marketing plans so you’re continually improving the plan.

Review the tools and the processes you have in place. If you’re marketing processes aren’t automated, now is the time to consider automating. New tools are available at much lower price points. You can easily track and measure your results, and continuously improve your ROI.

 

 

Revenue Performance Management: An interview with Jon Miller, VP Marketing and Co-founder of Marketo

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.

Jon MillerJon Miller is VP marketing and co-founder of Marketo, one of the marketing automation solutions supported by AcquireB2B, our B2B agency specializing in driving more leads and sales with B2B marketing automation.

Jon, named a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue by The CMO Institute, graduated magna cum laude in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

I had a conversation with Jon about Revenue Performance Management and the current state of Sales and Marketing:

Jon, what is Revenue Performance Management?

Revenue Performance Management, or RPM, is a strategy to optimize interactions with buyers across the revenue cycle in order to accelerate predictable revenue growth. RPM is a systematic approach to identifying the drivers and impediments to revenue, measuring them, and then optimizing them for top line growth.

Marketo provides the tools, thought leadership, and best practices to change how Marketing and Sales work, and how they work together, to help companies adopt RPM and accelerate predictable revenue growth.

What’s your take on the current state of Marketing and Sales? 

The fact is the current sales and marketing model is at best obsolete, and at worst, totally dysfunctional. The following two data points help to tell the story:

  • 52% of Sales reps do not achieve their Sales goals (CSO Insights 2010)
  • 94% of Marketing qualified leads will never close (SiriusDecisions 2009)

The dysfunctional state of the revenue creation process is partly a result of the longstanding inability of Sales and Marketing to work effectively together. And it’s also due to the volatile and increasingly complex business environment in which digital media, and especially social networks, have caused a sea change in buying behavior. This has given even more control to customers and prospects, enabling them to actively search online and collect information from trusted sources before making their buying decisions.

In the new model, companies transform the way their Marketing and Sales teams work by:

  • Managing the Marketing department as a true revenue-generating organization;
  • Implementing a systematic process of nurturing prospective buyers through the revenue cycle, and measuring buyer engagement at every step of the process;
  • Providing Sales teams with the information and tools they need to prioritize their time so they can engage with the most qualified prospects, at the right moment;
  • Measuring the effectiveness and ROI of spending on people and programs at every step of the Revenue Cycle across Marketing and Sales; and
  • Allocating investments to accelerate results and revenue performance.

Jon, you mentioned the “Revenue Cycle.” How about giving us your definition?

The Revenue Cycle starts from the first contact with a prospect and continues through the sale and beyond to the customer relationship. This is important since when Marketing and Sales coordinate their activities as part of a unified Revenue Cycle, companies get better at properly identifying and prioritizing opportunities… and better quality leads result in more sales wins and ultimately more revenue.

The Revenue Cycle requires coordinating Marketing and Sales activities throughout the entire cycle to generate maximum impact. The old model of a linear handoff from Marketing to Sales must give way to an intertwined model where both organizations jointly own prospect relationships and coordinate their activities.

The Revenue Cycle requires collaboration between Marketing and Sales activities, but this is easier said than done. The key challenge is that each function works differently, thinks differently, and is measured differently.

In the past we discussed the idea of applying the Six Sigma process to the Revenue Cycle. Could you please share some of your thoughts about that?

In the past 30-plus years there has been a significant transformation in supply chain operations. Businesses have been able to make them quicker, cheaper and more predictable, mainly due to advances in technology. Six Sigma and other quality improvement programs strip inefficiencies out of the system. As a result, lean businesses have increased productivity and saved trillions of dollars through just-in-time inventories, speed-to-market processes, etc.

In contrast, progress to improve productivity in the demand chain has been almost glacier-like. The reason is many Sales, Marketing and Service operations continue to use antiquated processes in a marketplace that has changed dramatically due to the Internet. So why not apply the Six Sigma process to demand chain operations?

To do this, best practice companies are measuring performance indicators in order to continuously improve their revenue-producing processes in the same ways they did on the cost side. To continuously improve revenue performance, organizations must measure and analyze the operational and financial impact of each Sales and Marketing activity across the revenue cycle.

For instance, with lead generation campaigns, measurements include the speed and volume of leads gained, nurtured and converted via multi-marketing platforms with varying calls-to-action… as well as calculating the costs and revenue impact of each activity. By understanding the results of these disparate activities by channel, product and buyer, organizations can identify and remove defects, and improve on those efforts that have the greatest positive revenue impacts.

So how do we get there from here?

The last frontier of productivity is how companies choose to manage and generate revenue. In today’s budget constrained environment, this commitment to measurement and operational excellence is more needed than ever.

By measuring and installing processes to continuously improve the demand chain, companies can significantly increase Sales and Marketing effectiveness (revenue capture) and efficiency (cost reductions) quickly, cheaply and more predictably.

Jon, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on Revenue Performance Management and the current state of Sales and Marketing.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the subject?

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

 

Looking for a roadmap to more revenue? Read this book!

Kristin Zhivago is a revenue coach who helps CEOs and entrepreneurs increase their bottom lines by understanding what their customers want to buy and how they want to buy it.

Roadmap to Revenue:  How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to BuyIn her new book, Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy, Kristin lays out her methodology and processes garnered from years in the field working with corporate clients, and their customers and prospects.

The book gives you a step-by-step guide to making more money by selling people what they need… instead of what you want to sell.

Kristin’s proven Roadmap to Revenue methodology makes it possible to reverse-engineer successful sales, so new sales can be manufactured in quantity.

Unlike most books targeted at senior management that tell you WHAT you should do, this one goes into extensive details about HOW to execute on each topic covered. The book is formatted in logical steps to help you discover and document your customer’s buying process, so that your sales and marketing efforts can be redesigned for how your buyers want to buy.

Buyers have changed the way they buy. It’s time to change the way you’re selling.

For years companies crafted and delivered their messages, which customers depended upon to make buying decisions – because it was the only information available to them. Now, when customers are looking to buy, they start by “Googling” the product or service, ignoring the company’s sales messages, and reading what third parties have to say about it. Then, if the product or service still looks promising, the customer goes to the company’s website or salesperson, hoping to get their last few questions answered - usually questions that are specific to his situation or preferences.

In other words, most sellers no longer sell the way customers are buying.

Their selling system is broken. The good news? The secret to higher revenue is locked in the minds of your current customers. After purchasing and using your product or service, if approached correctly, customers are willing to provide information about their buying process:

  • What drove them to buy
  • What they were concerned about as they bought
  • How they came to their buying decision
  • Why they bought from you instead of your competition
  • How they would sell the product or service to others
  • How they feel about it now that they have experienced it

Roadmap to Revenue shows you exactly how to obtain this priceless information, and how to use it to reliably increase your sales.

Through several years of experience, and literally thousands of interviews, Kristin has learned what works and what doesn’t, and she shares all of this information with you.

For example, many business executives I speak with are interested in social media as a market research tool. I believe, and Kristin concurs in the book, that social media can be an effective research tool for low cost consumer products and services. But for B2B, especially complex, big-ticket, long buy cycle products and services, social media is not the most effective way to uncover the real reasons people make a buying decision.

Roadmap to Revenue also discusses the various research methodologies used by corporations and consultants. Kristin makes a convincing argument that face-to-face one-on-one interviews and focus groups are significantly less valuable (and less cost effective) than one-on-one phone interviews. I’m not going to go into detail here… you’ll have to buy the book.

Customers expect certain promises to be kept, and they value relevancy like never before.

Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy will help you find out what matters to your customers and the promises they expect you to keep.

While you’re no longer in control of your message, you are 100% in control of your company’s behavior – what your people do and how they do it. Roadmap to Revenue will teach you how to identify the promises you should be keeping, and then make revenue increasing changes to your five promise-keeping resources: your passion, policies, products, people, and processes.

Your own customers are the key to higher revenue. They will tell you exactly what you need to know. You won’t have to guess or assume anymore; you’ll be able to move forward, logically, in confidence, following your own, unique roadmap to revenue.

 

Want to build a great brand for your company?

BrandInstead of investing a bundle financing a snazzy new logo, or spending too much of your marketing budget on brand advertising, invest in making sure that all the touch points your company has with its prospects and customers are enhancing the brand… rather than hurting it.

 
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