The Power of Digital Conversations

A local event here in Silicon Valley, organized by a leading B2B marketing analyst firm, brought together marketers from several leading bay area technology firms this past week. The discussion was around how marketers must plan and execute long-running marketing campaigns, that ran for a year or more. For many marketers in the room, who were used to really short, 1 to 3 month campaign cycles, the very idea of a year long campaign left them scratching their heads.

The key idea here was that you will want to plan on a high level campaign theme that applies across all of the marketing from your company, as a brand. Then break it down into a high level campaign theme that stays consistent across all sub campaigns within each of your solution areas. So if you are a Software company, you would have a first-order campaign theme to promote your overall brand. And if you have 3 solution areas, say around Cloud, Security and Mobile, each of them would have a specific campaign theme, again to push or promote the brand and the specific solution to each of the prospect or audience segments interested in that solution.

From here, as the analysts were recommending, marketers would want to design a series of sub-campaigns – that have a clear goal around one of reputation, demand creation, sales enablement or market intelligence. What was missing in all this, was a discussion around how the different sub-campaigns even within a campaign type, really needed to connect and interlock to each other. Granted there are now technologies such as marketing automation (MAP) which are supposed to make this possible. But today’s MAP technologies allow marketers to make certain connections across their campaigns, so long as the campaigns are executed on their own website pages, or MAP emails.

There are so many different campaigns that marketers need to execute today, even within say just demand creation activities for one or their solution areas. Campaigns can range from white paper syndication to webinars, live events to video downloads. And the channels where marketers can reach and touch a prospect continue to grow. In all the talk of buyer “self education” and “learning” about a company’s solution capabilities, what’s perhaps being forgotten is that it is now possible to have the “digital” equivalent of a good old-fashioned live conversation between a consultative sales person and a buyer.  Take any live event. Its human nature to walk up to a concierge, guide or rep, engage in a conversation, and then have them direct us quickly to the right person to talk to. We are all looking for the most value for our time. So we appreciate if we get steered  to the subject matter expert, or the right piece of content, so we get our questions answered in the shortest period of time. If this is the experience that is true and tested over time in live event settings, why not offer this experience in the digital world?

Here are at least a few ways you can now engage in digital conversations with buyers:

In emails, drop in rich media polls that are tailored to the individual nurture email, based on who is the target prospect set, and the type of conversation that’s most appropriate. Learn more, gather some specific insights, and present an offer based on expressed interest.

 

On your landing pages – Cut down your 8 to 14 field form into just the core pieces of data you need to start a digital conversation. Get the first 4 to 5 fields of data you need. Gather the rest through progressive forms that are presented everywhere the prospect might engage with you again (e.g. on a third party website).

 

 On your blog, community site or third party website –  Tailor your content offer based on prior interaction history in your MAP system. Have a clear understanding of exactly where the prospect is at, in their engagement with your business. After they accept your content offer, ask for just the right information that will shorten your sales person’s discovery cycle when he/she engages with the prospect.

On display ad placements – It’s time to get beyond dumb ads, that say “Click Me Please!” and ask you to hope for the best. Every ad that you place in front of a prospect can be that much more tailored and specific to who they are, what product or service are they interested in, and what will move the conversation with them further along.

 

Of course, thinking through your personas, and nurture streams, and how you might extend your nurture streams beyond emails to now include third party websites and display may seem daunting at first. But by taking a step-by-step, methodical approach to thinking it through, you will find you are regularly engaging in digital conversations with your prospects, no matter where they are, all across the web! And nothing could be more enriching to you as a marketer, as you deliver exactly what prospects want, and see your engagement, conversions and sales outpace that of your competition!

5 Steps for Better Lead Nurturing [Guest Post]

This is a guest post from our friends at Kapost - The Content Marketing Software Platform

Your company blog is stellar, social media channels are active, website visits are up, and good leads are entering your marketing automation system. So what happened? Everything seems just grand–well, at least at the top of the funnel. But once you start “nurturing” those leads with email blasts and product announcements, your conversion rates start to slip. The most promising prospects unsubscribe. All those leads you worked so hard to attract turn into missed opportunities.

Well, let’s start with the definition of nurture:

nur·ture 
1. to feed and protect
2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster
3. to bring up; train; educate.

When buyers at the middle of the funnel aren’t quite ready to buy, it’s the modern marketer’s job to nurture them. How? Feed them a regular dose of content they care about, help them overcome their challenges, encourage them to engage further with relevant content, foster a relationship of trust and thought leadership, and educate them on how to be more efficient and successful.

Each person is different, with different needs and concerns. Modern marketers must read the signs, tailor campaigns to specific interests and goals, and most importantly, treat each lead like a human being.

With that in mind, here are five key steps you should consider before creating any nurture campaign:

1. Know Your Buyer

Before you can persuade, you need to know who you’re talking to. That means creating detailed persona profiles for each type of customer.

You have to know who your buyers are and what they’re looking for before you can get them interested in your organization.

And you need to go beyond job titles and company size. What are they struggling with? What do they care about? What keeps them up at night? The answers to these questions will become your guide for creating engaging, interesting content that keeps leads coming back for more. As Dave Lewis, president and CEO of DemandGen, said in a recent interview, “the content that really resonates best … is personable, conversational, educational, and entertaining.”

2. Set Clear Goals

Nurturing isn’t just about entertaining your leads, though. If it were, you could just send them pictures of kittens.

In addition to engagement, you also need to move your leads further down the sales funnel. That means you need a step-by-step plan to get them from A to B.

Each nurture campaign should have a specific goal. Think about how you want your relationship to develop during the course of the nurture. For instance, if your lead doesn’t know much about your organization, your goal might be to build trust and brand awareness. For people more familiar with your brand, you might want to educate them on how your product can solve their problems.

3. Create Targeted Content

Now that you understand your buyers and goals, you’re ready to start creating content. Engaging, targeted content is the heart of any nurture campaign. High quality content is so important for nurturing leads that there’s an entire content marketing eBook devoted to it.

Every time you send a communication through your marketing automation software, you need to provide the recipient with something relevant, timely, and valuable. If you’re not giving them content they care about, you can bet they’ll be hitting the “unsubscribe” button faster than you can say “spam.”

Nurture content should have a logical flow. You want people to feel they’re part of a conversation, not being blasted with a series of disjointed emails.

You’re not just chatting, though. Keep buyers moving down the funnel by including a clear and subtle call to action in each piece of content, such as clicking a link or watching a video. That way they always know how to take the next step when they’re ready.

4. Make Multiple Tracks

People enter your nurture tracks from a lot of places and are looking for different types of information. In order to get the right message to the right leads, you need multiple nurture tracks.

Someone who has only visited a how-to article on your site, for example, might not even know who your organization is and what it does. A nurture track for those people might focus on introducing your brand and establishing yourself as an expert in your area.

If you’re not sure how many tracks you need, creating one for each of your buyer personas is a good start. For other ideas, Meagan Eisengberg, VP of Demand Generation at DocuSign, recently suggested creating nurture tracks based on where the buyer is in their journey.  That allows you to create a hierarchy of nurture programs that protects the buyer from too much communication or communications they’re not ready for.

5. Plug the Leak

You’ve carefully led your prospects step by step down the funnel, they’re showing the right signs and it’s finally time to turn them over to sales. Mission accomplished?

Before you kick back with a celebratory glass of champagne, answer this question: what happens if the lead still isn’t ready to buy?

Buyers that get all the way to sales are top quality. They already know your brand and have a need for your product. But if you don’t have a plan to stay in touch when they aren’t ready to buy, you’re letting some of your best leads leak out of the system.

Plug the leak by creating a nurture track just for this special group. That way, your organization has a chance to stay in touch until they’re ready to buy.

To get more great tips on lead nurturing for content marketers, we sat down with experts like Todd Wheatland, VP and Head of Marketing at Kelly OCG and Dustin Grosse, Senior VP and CMO at DocuSign and asked their advice on how to use content marketing to nurture leads.  Watch the video below to hear their advice on guiding your leads to the sale:

Just like with any content marketing effort, the key to lead nurturing is thinking strategically and remembering to focus on your buyers’ needs. It takes a lot of up front work to create a successful nurture campaign, but once it’s plugged into your marketing automation software, you’ll get to sit back and watch as your leads make their way down the sales funnel.

 

Christine is a writer, content marketer, and recovering attorney. Before joining the Marketing Team at Kapost, she worked at a law firm on employment issues. Born and raised in Florida, Christine’s still getting used to the sight of mountains outside her window. She lives in North Boulder with her boyfriend and two giant cats. In her spare time, she can be found hiking, biking, and teaching herself to program.



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3 Key Enterprise Marketer Challenges


Ask any Enterprise Marketer, and they will tell you that they are busier than ever.  If you peel back a few layers, you will find that a good chunk of the marketer’s time today is still spent on tasks that can and should be
automated. A key issue that Chuck Schaeffer of Customer.TV and CRMSearch and Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez discuss in this video is the significant fragmentation of platforms and tools for marketers. The marketer’s world today is quite unlike the world of back-office staff (SAP) or sales (Salesforce).

As a result, it is super-critical for marketers to consider platforms and tools that address broad problem areas in a comprehensive way. They will want to replace “point tools” and “point solutions”. That way, there is less for marketers to learn, as they go about their business. Any platforms or tools they will want to add need to “play nice” with the ones  they already have in-house. Out-of-the-box integration with existing systems is critical.

Here are 3 key challenges that marketers face today, and some areas where we are bringing innovative solutions to address those challenges:

Generate more top-of-funnel leads. Yes, marketers want more leads, of higher quality. Banners ads and text ads have been around for sometime. The new opportunities here are around expanding lead capture well beyond a Company’s own website landing pages to significantly grow lead conversions. Your prospects are everywhere, and it’s harder  than ever to catch their attention. So why not convert them right where they are, from unknown visitors to known prospects? Have you seen Kwanzoo’s in-banner lead forms? Capture just enough  information to start engaging with them.  Then gather more insights over subsequent interactions. Plan on short forms with 3 to 5 fields of data, and augment the rest with a data service that ties into the lead capture process, or separately cleans and augments data, inside your lead management system.

Increase prospect response rates. So you have a large database of prospects. But are they paying attention? Why are your email click rates flat? Yes, you need to offer interesting and relevant content. But beyond that, are there new tactics or approaches you could use to drive response rates way up? And as you catch a prospect’s attention, can you gather insights, while simultaneously delivering something of value to your prospects? We have focused on this specific problem, and give you new ways to increase response rates, with rich media polls inside emails, as display ads and across the web, that integrate with marketing automation.

Deliver one-to-one relevance to the individual buyer. Relevance in advertising is a well-known concept in the B2C world. There are many advanced ad targeting tactics available for reaching end  consumers. The new opportunity here is similar targeting for B2B companies. By applying intelligent targeting, based on prospect data inside your marketing automation and CRM systems, you can now personalize marketing messages, content offers and call-to-actions, using rich media and dynamic banners that are served out to B2B prospects everywhere, across the web!

Finally, as you look at new tools, think about what it means for you to be able to run campaigns quickly and easily across all your online channels (email, web, social, display, re-targeting, mobile). Does the platform or tool address this critical need? The savings in time and cost can be significant. We get it, that life is way too busy for marketers today! Let us help make it just a bit easier for you. Have questions? Contact Us.

Move Your Landing Page Actions to the Top of Your Funnel

Landing pages are the bedrock of both B2B and B2C marketing campaigns today. As a marketer, you spend a good portion of your time and budget building landing pages. You then spend more time testing the page to maximize conversions. Your attention goes next to all of your different touch points for prospects. These range from your website pages, to your blog, Facebook page(s), community sites, search ads and display ads. You approach your touch points with one goal: drive new prospects, no matter where they are across the web, to your landing page!

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