Archive for the ‘funnel’ Tag

More on Content Marketing

You can’t look at any major marketing magazine, blog or website without seeing some talk about Content Marketing. Content creation takes up a good chunk of my time and I’m always interested in best practices and research findings.

Here’s a smattering of recent articles I found particularly interesting:

Here’s one of the charts I really liked from the Eloqua blog:

content marketing statistics

I’m sure we will continue to see content marketing as a discipline evolve and expand as we move into 2013 and beyond.


Trade show leads

Everywhere I’ve ever worked struggled a little with follow up on trade show leads. For marketing, the biggest problem was getting the leads processed, the data cleansed, notes entered and then passed over to sales. Hot leads often failed to get to sales quickly and then hot turns to warm. Or worse, to a competitor.

Besides that, I hate paying those lead scanner rental fees. The bastards rake you over the coals.

Mark talking to a prospect.

Typically at a show, you get your device and use it to scan bar codes of the booth visitors. Some vendors are good enough to let you access the leads on a daily basis. Most make you wait until the end of the show to get them. Then you have to travel home and may not be back in the office for a few days. And even then, you most likely need to manually do data cleansing. If you use a marketing automation system, you then have to upload them. More time delays.

If you have a really good conversation with a prospect, you don’t want to wait that long to get them to sales.

Some companies bypass the delay by directly notifying the sales rep w/ the info. But, unless you are REALLY diligent, you lose the tracking and hence, ROI measurement for the event.

So we worked on a better way. We now use an iPad or iPhone, take a picture of the prospect’s business card, use an inexpensive app to do character recognition and send it to our marketing automation system. There are steps to do data cleansing on the spot (in case there were errors in scan) plus add notes from the conversation. The prospect often gets entered into our system before they leave the booth. And they get the “thank you” email w/ links to relevant content – often while still talking to us. Additionally, the system feeds our CRM system so our sales team gets the leads w/in hours of the booth visit – not the days plus typical of the old system.

Sales is ecstatic with quicker access to leads and more complete (and accurate) information and notes. Marketing is happy with much quicker turnaround, higher quality data and increased ROI. And we are putting ourselves in for an Eloqua Markie award. Root for us!

Lead Scoring

Eloqua is one of the thought leaders in marketing automation. I subscribe to their “It’s all about revenue” blog and enjoy reading it. Their latest post on lead scoring is interesting, especially since I’ve been working on lead scoring at my company over the past few months.

Lead scoring

We have implemented lead scoring pretty much like the Eloqua blog suggests. We use A through D for implicit scoring – does the lead meet our criteria for “target” customer based on company and job role? And we use 1 through 4 for explicit scoring – what activity(ies) did the prospect do? And we have full alignment with sales on this scoring. In fact, we just tweaked it to reflect regional needs. We score differently for AsiaPac and Europe than we do for North America – highlighting the flexibility you can get from a marketing automation system.

The one thing that jumped out at me from the blog post is the role of an inside sales team (or telemarketing or whatever name you may call it). Even if a lead is scored a C3 or other relatively “low” score, the human touch is a great way to not only advance the lead but also get insight into the real lead score. A simple conversation can help you better understand the lead. Should they truly be put in a lead nurturing program or are they really a good lead for sales follow-up?

This stage of the process is critical and takes talented people. It’s also an investment by the organization. For us, we have very limited resources here and, during times of big lead influxes, can become a bottleneck. But, because we have metrics in place and a nice dashboard that all of sales management sees on a weekly basis, when the problem arises, everyone sees it. And there is discussion about expanding this team. One of the biggest pluses of intelligent metrics is being able to not only identify needs but also to justify investments.

So, as the blog post says, lead scoring is not the “be all, end all” of passing leads over to sales. It is a tool and one you need to understand. It definitely has it’s benefits but also it’s limitations. And you need to understand both.

Metrics – Again

It seems to be all the rave to be talking metrics and marketing. In my opinion, if you are just starting to do this, you are 8 laps behind in a 6 lap race.

Thank God I have a really good Marketing Operations person who knows our marketing automation and CRM system inside and out. I can get my marketing BI questions answered almost all the time. The only issues I run into tend to be “not being able to generate that specific report” or not being able to automate the report. Right now, the latter is more of an issue.

I can get information in intimate detail but it takes my colleague easily a day to pull it all out and format it. But I love the info. I can look at what I call micro-metrics (not stuff I necessarily report to management but use for my benefit):

  • number of leads by account manager (our term for sales rep)
  • number of new contacts we’ve added for each persona – we’re trying to grow certain high-value targets so this is important
  • organic database growth
  • what each marketing campaign delivered – MQLs, SALs, revenue opportunities, etc.

And so much more. It’s great to see, especially since I may be getting a new boss soon! I know I’d want to see that I have a team that knows what works and what doesn’t.


Marketing Automation updates

The latest issue (November 7) of B2B Magazine has a couple of interesting articles on Marketing Automation. The first, “Lack of Resources Impedes Marketing Automation Adoption,” reports on the results of a survey conducted in August and September. The survey was conducted by B2B and Aprimo, a supplier of a marketing automation solution. So the highlights are:

  • only 44% of b2b marketers have implemented some sort of automation
  • a scary 11% are not aware of marketing automation
11%? Really? What, do you live under a rock? But maybe the 11% just didn’t understand what was meant by marketing automation. Still, that is a rather high percentage considering how long these systems have been around.
Of the 44% of “users,” here’s some interesting findings:
  • 52% use it for automatic distribution of leads
  • 19% leveraging more advanced features such as lead nurturing programs, closed-loop automation (not really sure what they mean by that) and sales/marketing alignment

An interesting part of the article quotes Jeff Ernst, an analyst at Forrester, who says that “full-featured” automation is only being used by about 5% of b2b marketers. Since the survey had a relatively low 276 respondents who likely are B2B magazine readers and more engaged in this area, I believe Mr. Ernst may be closer to the true number. I would be interested in people’s thoughts on this.

As a side note, a little over a year ago, I wrote a blog article on “Evaluating Marketing Automation vendors.” I’m thinking it may be worth re-visiting that article and updating it. There are several new and impressive vendors in this space.

The second article in the issue is “Marketing Automation Requires Buy-In to a Different Way of Thinking.” This article covers some important things to know about implementing marketing automation and the changes/benefits it can deliver.

Both of these articles are worth the read.

webcast guidelines

After reading several whitepapers, to-dos and watching webinars on best practices, I compiled the short list for those of you who have to do tactical marketing. This is an outline of what you should consider when you are planning webcasts. Please let me know any comments and/or edits. Much of this content I gathered from:


The Definitive Webinar Marketing eGuide, December 2009, Quantum Leap Marketing (Sponsored by GoToMeeting

ON24 2010 Webcasting Report: Webcast Benchmarks and Best Practices for Lead Generation, January 2011, ON24

9 Management Practices for Exceptional Webinars: Proven strategies to build a lead-generation engine, MarketingProfs

Webcast Planning Guide

Summary and Goals

Overview of webcast and define the goals.

Target audience

Define the target audience (TDMi/job role) and goal of the webcast.

Topic, abstract and email invitation

When naming the webcast and developing the abstract and email invite, remember WIFM – “what’s in it for me” from the prospect’s point of view. As with whitepapers, titles such as those below resonate well.

  • 7 secrets to winning more business
  • Top 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them
  • New breakthroughs in …
  • How to evaluate and choose a …

Use compelling language such as:

  • In this fast-paced 45-minute webinar, discover…
  • Are you frustrated with/by…

Because webcasts are the promise of future benefit, consider offering something tangible and immediate like access to a whitepaper.

Promotion plan

Look to promote using both Mercury and 3rd party resources. Third parties can include co-sponsors, partners, guest speakers, etc.

Type Your company 3rd Party (media group, partner, etc.)
email blast
banner ad on website
enewsletter sponsorship/article
ROS promotions
blog postings
LinkedIn Groups

Leverage webcast for new content tidbits

Look to use registration questions to provide content for webinar. For example, for storage, asking what challenges are you facing – would make a good slide for attendees.

Plus, look to use registration questions and webcast poll questions for content (article, podcast, etc.).

Post Promotion

Promote the recording as long as the content is fresh and relevant.

Interesting Industry Statistics

  • Webcasts are a low cost-per-lead method with high prospect engagement
  • Average registrant-to-attendee conversion rate is 58%
  • Months of December, June and October have the highest registrant-to-attendee conversion rates (79%, 68% and 63% respectively)
  • Significant number of attendees participate in polls and surveys
  • Integration with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can augment participation and stimulate conversations
  • Recruiting an outside speaker or co-sponsors significantly increases attendance
  • Many attendees tend to join about 5 minutes after the start time – start a minute or two late
  • Attendance increases with reminders sent the day before and an hour or two before the webcast
  • Surprisingly, Mondays may be a good day since Tuesday through Thursday is crowded

Lead generation vs lead nuturing

For over ten years now, I’ve been a high tech B2B marketing manager responsible for both lead generation and lead nurturing – primarily because I am responsible for delivering revenue. However, during a recent webinar (“Driving Demand in the Demand Center” put on by BtoB Magazine and featuring speakers from SiriusDecisions and Eloqua; check out #BtoBWC on Twitter), one comment caught my attention and got me thinking. It was suggested that you have one person focus on lead gen and one on lead nurturing.

I don’t think you can really do this until your organization reaches a certain size but this structure does appeal to me. I know I (along with my colleagues) struggle with the time needed to develop and implement campaigns for both lead gen and nurturing. And the needs are different. With lead gen, you are investing budget, educating prospects, filling the funnel, qualifying leads and passing them to sales. With lead nurturing, you already have qualified leads – they just aren’t ready to buy yet so you need different content and marketing techniques to keep them engaged until they enter the buying cycle.

Lead nurturing is critical to driving a much higher marketing ROI. You already have invested budget in getting these leads into your system. Often, they have cleared all the requirements you have to be qualified sales leads – they just aren’t ready to buy yet (maybe no budget; maybe need to get management on board; etc.).  So you need different content and activities to keep them engaged and interested in you. Also, lead nurturing can be used for cross-sell/up-sell opportunities to existing customers. Again, this is another way to drive revenue with a much smaller budget than is needed for initial lead gen.

Anyway, I’d be interested in what others think about these two areas for marketing and how they handle them. Please feel free to comment here or shoot me an email at with your thoughts!

Have one person focus on lead gen and one person focus on lead nurturing

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing II

A while back, I wrote about the whole “inbound vs. outbound” marketing thing.  I still don’t get this “us vs. them” argument that many marketers are spouting. In fact, the division really is just a way of categorizing marketing techniques. Yes, I agree, “inbound” methods tend to cost MUCH less (especially if you are doing print or direct mail initiatives). And for that reason, over the last five years, my marketing budgets tended to include fewer “traditional, outbound” marketing techniques. But I still did (and do) outbound marketing – especially when it makes sense for the target market I’m going after. For example, you can’t reach many C-level people through email as they have an admin who filters it.

For me, this whole inbound/outbound argument is irrelevant. It’s a continuum. As a marketer, you want as many arrows in your quiver as you can get. For some targets, direct mail still works. Print ads can help you with awareness and thought leadership. Social media can create powerful communities. In fact, if done correctly, any of these outlets can be used for community building, awareness, education and thought leadership, lead generation, etc. As a marketer, your job is to decide what your goals are and then figure out which methods are best to reach your target audience and deliver the results you need.

Recently, I listened to a webinar put on by BtoB Magazing (#BtoBWC for you Twitters) that included SiriusDecisions and Eloqua as presenters. It was a very good webinar, by the way, and I have immense respect for both organizations. But one comment that I noted was that many more people were coming through the web than ever before due to inbound marketing. I agree that almost every marketer is leveraging the web to the max – primarily due to limited budgets. But to ascribe all web visitors to “inbound” marketing is wrong. I often used outbound methods (email in particular, print and banner ads, trade shows and direct mail) to DRIVE people to a landing page. And many times, you can’t track it despite your best efforts.

I use integrated, multi-faceted campaigns to meet my needs. For example, in a recent campaign when my goal was to get software developers to download our SDK and kick the tires (and become a sales qualified lead), I negotiated with the vendors and got several print ads for almost free. Ends up that many magazines are hurting for ads and will give you a good deal if you are doing several things with them. So I took advantage of the print ads to build awareness of my firm and our offering (I did have a call to action to visit our landing page just in case), followed up with a couple of staggered emails to the readership promoting various things (whitepapers, video tutorials, webinars, the download) and even worked in a conference or two. My thought was to “soften” up the audience first with the print and emails to make them more receptive to our message. And it worked.

So I think you need to evaluate every arrow you have in your quiver, figure out the ROI based on your goals and then put together your plan. And don’t worry about the whole “inbound vs. outbound” thing.

B2B Magazine Survey

Recently, published the results of a survey they did with B2B Magazine on B2B Marketing Skills. Here’s a link to their results pdf.

To quote from their purpose statement:

“How do today’s marketers see themselves and their evolving role in the enterprise? The purpose of the joint Genius and BtoB Magazine Marketer Skills Survey is to bring these answers into focus so we can gain a better understanding of how these drivers are shaping today’s Connected Marketer.”

I’ll likely tackle other parts of their survey but want to address their first question here.

Finding #1:

“Overwhelmingly marketers indicated that success is today’s environment is gauged by revenue.”

Ok. The surprise to me here is that it has taken until 2010 and a recession for many firms to tie marketing to revenue (or at least attempt to). A marketing budget is an INVESTMENT of organizational funds. As with any investment, there should be a return or you shouldn’t be doing it.

Digging into some of the details of this finding, here’s the question and responses:

Obviously, this was not a mutually exclusive question. However, the problem I have with this question is that each of these measures is important – just in different ways. For example, click-thru rates are very good at measuring the effectiveness of a banner ad or an email.  If the click-thru rate is low, so will the revenue. I’ve written about metrics before ( and but want to dive a little deeper here.

This is why I look at metrics on a tiered level. Let’s take an example. Typically, I’m running several campaigns simultaneously. I define a campaign as a set of activities designed to drive qualified leads to the sales team and result in revenue. Most often, a campaign is around a single product, bundle, service offering, etc.  Hence, if you have several offerings, you likely will have many campaigns going on simultaneously.

For this campaign, I will reach out to prospects via:

  • Email to a purchased list
  • Banner ad placed on 3 different web sites

Both of these activities will drive people to a landing page where I have several options:

  • Read a whitepaper on the technology
  • Watch a video introduction to the solution
  • Read a case study on a customer success story
  • Download a trial of the product

Working with the sales team, we define anyone who downloads the trial as a “sales qualified lead.” All other are “marketing leads” that stay with me for lead nurturing programs in an attempt to drive them further down the funnel. (For example, people who watch the video intro video get invited to a webinar that takes a deeper dive into the product.)

For me, here’s where tiered metrics come into play. Tier 3 is the micro level. The primary user of these metrics would be me and I’d be using them to measure individual activities and pieces of content. I look at these metrics on a daily or weekly basis. At this tier, I would measure:

  • Click-thru rates on the email to make sure the list vendor is providing a return
  • Click-thru rates on the banner ads to see which web site provides the best return
  • For the landing page, which items are people clicking on (helps me measure the effectiveness of the content on the landing page)

Tier 2 is the level of metrics I would also share with interested parties – product manager, sales team, my manager. At this level, I would measure overall sales funnel points including:

  • Landing page traffic
  • Marketing leads generated
  • Sales qualified leads passed along to the team

At this level, you can identify if you have any bottlenecks that may need to be addresses. For example, you may find out that you are generating lots of marketing leads but your conversion rate to sales qualified is very low. You may need to re-address what you consider a sales qualified lead or find out why people aren’t downloading the trial. This gives you the chance to identify potential problems early on and salvage your campaign. Since you need to build some traffic before these measures are statistically valid, you may wait some time before looking at these numbers. Also, I tend to look at these on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – often for reporting at team meetings with the interested parties.

For me, Tier 1 is where revenue is measured. And the target audience is my manager and up. The CEO probably could care less about the click-thru rate on a banner ad but would be very interested to know that the $250k invested in marketing for Product A has helped drive $4.6 million in revenue. The timing on this metric can vary based on the length of the sales cycle. Also, a campaign may end but you will still have latent leads in the funnel that the campaign generated and will result in revenue. So you need to go back and measure this metric weeks or months after the campaign is over.

Ideally, you can follow a lead from start to finish – not always easy to do! If you can, then you can tie revenue generated all the way back to the specific email list or web site that generated the lead. If you can, great! Sometimes, micro metrics can be misleading.  For example, a web site may generate a lot of click-thrus but most of them are junk.

For more on this survey, check out my additional post –

Match content to buyer stage

Some really good stuff here:

You can get the content playbook from these guys for free (no registration required) and it’s a really good resource. But, as they point out, you need a content strategy. One of their comments is:

“Content marketing is the art of understanding exactly what your customers need to know and delivering it to them in a relevant and compelling way.”

That is true – but there is more to it than that. You need to have content that matches up with what the prospect needs AT THAT PARTICULAR time in their buying process.  You need to map out the buying process for your most likely prospects and then design and create content to meet your prospective buyer’s needs at each stage.

For example, a prospect who doesn’t know you and may not even know they have a need for your products/services, is at the beginning of the process. You need to generate awareness that they have a need and that you can satisfy that need. You don’t need to go into details on your product or solution. In fact, you probably shouldn’t even mention any solution. You should concentrate on educating the prospects and positioning your organization as the thought leader in that area.

As you move through the buying process, you need to match content to buyer stages such as:

  • Educational (whitepapers, webinars, other educational info)
  • Solution meets the needs (product brochures, datasheets, reviews, etc.)
  • Feel-good justification (case studies and testimonials from customers)
  • Financial information (like an ROI calculator)
  • Competitive positioning (for use by sales)

You need to map out your typical customer buying process and make sure you have content that matches what they are seeking. Some of this content may be for lead generation (such as whitepapers and webinars) and some may be back pocket for sales reps when they are in the buying process (such as competitive responses). But the point is, you need to be prepared for all of these stages with responses that meet your target prospect’s needs.

Use your existing customers to better understand the buying process. And then use them to understand what content works and when.