Archive for the ‘segmentation’ Tag

Top 5 2015 Content Marketing Trends from Alinean

I’m catching up on the end-of-year/beginning-of-year blogs and posts. There are some good ones out there including this one from Tom Pisello. Tom spells out 5 content marketing trends to keep in mind. Some of these aren’t new but all worth reviewing. Here are my thoughts on two of them:

Trend 2 – Marketing Overload

As a marketing executive, I get a LOT of email offers on anything related to marketing. I’m still amazed at email overloadhow many emails I get from so-called “marketing experts” trying to get me to look at some of their content. I’m not sure where Tom got this from – “with the average executive receiving over 50 offers each business day” – but I believe it. I delete about 200 emails a day from my work inbox. A very large portion are unsolicited offers. A sampling from this morning include whitepapers/ebooks on creating the perfect persona, database management, personalization, A/B email testing. The list goes on. And I get them every day.

As a marketer, I make a conscious effort NOT to email offers. I tend to roll up our “offers” into a bi-monthly enewsletter. But I make sure the newsletter is not just about my company and how great we are. I put in links to key industry articles and trends from the trade media. I invite partners to contribute articles. Anything I can think of that may add value to the reader. By doing this, I’ve just about done away with single email offers. And I’ve seen our newsletter readership both increase in database size and also in open rates and click-thrus.

Trend 3 – Buying by Committee

This has been happening for a long time. And marketers need to advance their techniques if they really want to address the challenges here and help sales win deals. I don’t think I can say it any better than Tom so I’m just going to paste two of his sentences which are keys to success:

“One size-fits-all content doesn’t cut it when there are so many different perspectives involved in the decision making process.

You have to develop, or better yet personalize content for each stakeholder in an environment where each buyer expects and requires personalization.”

So if you get a chance, glance through the rest of Tom’s trends. And keep them in mind as you plan and execute your marketing campaigns in 2015.



Maximizing leads from events

I invest in several webcasts every year. For these, I leverage some of my media vendors who have my target audience as readers/subscribers. But these webcasts can be expensive. On the low end, I can do one for about $8k. This works for one of my target personas. On the high end, it can run as much as $20k. But this attracts prospects from the high end of my persona food chain.

webcast postcard eo/ir

Both have proven themselves as generating high quality (and a good quantity of) leads. Well worth the investment. Since I pay the same amount no matter how many people attend the webcast, this year I’m looking at innovative ways to increase the viewership. Here are a couple of things I’m doing (some of which I’ve been doing for a while but trying to expand the list):

  • Creating a landing page just for the webcast
  • Post webcast, continuing to promote the on-demand recording for six months or more – as long as the content is relevant
    • Statistics point out, and I’ve seen in my own experience, that live viewership of webcasts is declining. People just don’t have the time in the middle of their work day to join. But viewership of the archived webcast is increasing with people taking time to watch when it best fits their schedule.
  • Posting the event on relevant LinkedIn groups (and other social media outlets that makes sense)
  • When running print ads similar to the webcast topic, putting a call to action in the ad
  • Creating “post cards” that I can hand out at trade shows and conferences, give to the sales team to use on calls, leave in our lobby for visitors, and maybe even use as direct mail pieces.
  • Add a promo and link in signature files for company emails
  • Taking out banner ads on relevant sites and in their e-newsletters promoting the webcast and linking to the landing page.
  • Promoting it in our bi-monthly e-newsletter
  • Putting a QR code on everything we do in the list above to make it easy to get to the landing page

I’ve talked specifically about webcasts but I think many of these tactics can also work for other marketing activities. Anyone have some more ideas on how to creatively promote relatively high priced events to generate more leads? I’d love to hear some ideas!

Going Old School

Like many other marketing people, over the past month, I’ve been planning my next activities for the first half of 2012. I work in an industry of rapid technological change and, as much as I like to plan for at least a year, often many of my plans are three- to six-month campaigns. Branding and longer-term messaging I can plan for a year or more but lead generation is usually two quarters out at best. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

For my upcoming campaigns, among the mix is a revival of some marketing old school techniques. In particular, direct mail. Email has become less and less effective. Open rates are sliding lower and click thrus are even worse. Some of my more targeted emails are very effective. But I need to generate more interest than those tactics provide. I segment my audience based on personas. I try a couple of different subject lines and email content. But I am running into several issues. Primary among them are:

    • Just TOO much email – everyone’s inbox is overloaded. We all know the noise.
    • Email not getting delivered – particularly acute in my industry, aerospace & defense, where prime contractors’ servers are blocking a lot of mass generated email.
direct mail marketing

So our marketing group is working with our sales team to develop comprehensive campaign that will involve direct mail. We are targeting by job role and company and will be doing something high-end (dimensional) for our top persona.

Going old school. Despite the cheerleaders around inbound marketing, as someone with a need to create demand for my sales team and a limited budget, I don’t ignore any channel that can do this effectively. I’ll be doing inbound, social, email, content, video, events – almost any other tactic you can think of. But I’ll be throwing direct mail back into the mix this year.

MarketingSherpa B2B summit

I’ve been in B2B marketing for about 15 years. Ever since my MBA days, finding learning experiences that were relevant and applicable to me as a B2B marketer – well, there just weren’t many. I can count on one hand the number of conferences and “training” seminars I’ve been to that actually taught me enough to make it worth  my while. And my company’s money. This conference was four of the five fingers on that one hand. From the first session on day 1, I was engaged and learning. I’ve been on the bleeding edge of high-tech marketing for over a decade but, not only did I learn a substantial amount of new stuff, I also has the “slap in the face” moment of things I know better about but just haven’t spent the time on.

#1 from this conference – the VALUE PROP – the basis off of which almost everything you do depends. It needs to be a clear and succinct value proposition. It has to answer “why should I care about you?” and “how are you different/unique for your competitors?” Here’s a link to one of the many free pieces of content you can get on

Do You Have the Right Value Proposition?

So much more to digest from this. Hopefully I’ll get time to spread some more in future posts.

Boost Email Engagement

Evidently, the September 19, 2011 issue of B2B Magazine is a lesson in re-using content! Most of the articles are recycled from earlier this year. But it works. And the content is still very relevant.

One of the articles, Using Email to Boost Customer Engagement, has some good points. I was very happy to see that I already do many of these things. But I do like the idea of segmenting by “engaged” versus “unengaged.” I do struggle with the unengaged part of my database.

And, to be truthful, that segment far outnumbers our “engaged” segment. So I’m going to try some of the ideas in this article – change up the subject and content for emails to the unengaged. And try to re-engage them. And if they don’t, cut them loose. They have no interest and I don’t want to bother them with email.

So I’m looking to use the unengaged list to see what the problem is. Is it the subject lines? Content? No match for what we offer? I’d like to know.

Market to the Individual

Here is a very good article by Rick Segal in a recent issue of B2B Magazine.  Rick starts by recalling his premise that “b-to-b marketing is dead.” Evidently, he got a lot of heat for that statement which is understandable if you take it out of context. He is using the statement to stir controversy and shake marketers out of their doldrums. And I hope he succeeds.

I would love to paraphrase but I think Rick’s following statement says it all:  “dIf we really want to influence business decisions, from now on we have to reach and persuade the real seat of power: the individual.” Kind of reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. And, at the end of the day (to use a very overused phrase), a group may make the decision but the group is made up of individuals.  For me, the moral is, micro-target your message as best you can to each individual who makes up the buying group. Not so easy to do in real life, but maybe that gives us some job security.

Interactive marketing

I read with interest an article in the latest B to B Magazine on “interactive marketing departments.” It took me a minute to figure out what they meant by interactive marketing. From what I see, it’s a combination of digital marketing, market segmentation and leveraging the tools many marketers now have thanks to marketing automation systems. These tools include not only metrics and reporting but get to the level of one-on-one interactions. I now use Eloqua’s Prospect Profiler to look at a single customer or prospect and see exactly what they have done (emails opened, links clicked, forms filled out, assets they viewed, etc.). This is especially powerful when I’m going after high level people at targeted customers. It provides me with insight as to what content is resonating with a micro-targeted group. In addition, we rolled it out to our sales team. It is a plug-in to Salesforce and now our Account Managers leverage it for better insight and understanding before making a phone call or sales visit.

I did find the Forrester finding that “interactive marketing” is siloed a bit interesting. For me, interactive marketing is not a new marketing discipline with a dedicated team. Yeah, you may have people in your organization who specialize or are experts in it, but looking at and understanding your customer’s and prospect’s online behavior is something I think any marketer would want to know.

And I don’t think “interactive marketing” should be considered in the realm of digital marketing only. To gather a true understanding of your audience, you should look at compiling customer intelligence from a variety of sources including

  • taking notes at trade shows and events
  • getting feedback and reports from sales after calls and visits
  • monitoring social media conversations and blogs
  • if applicable, input for customer service

And any other area where your customers are speaking.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has interactive marketing as a role in their organization and how it works. I see it as another tool to help companies with customer intimacy initiatives.

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

Content – Free or Not?

I’ve been following a very interesting conversation about marketing and whether content should be offered for “free” or not. There is a pre-requisite for this article. First you must read two articles:

Ok, I’ll give you a few minutes to read those two worthy posts.

While we’re waiting, I’d just like to comment on how well the Bruins played in their last game. Much better than that lackluster piece of crap first game they played. Damn, I almost drove to Boston to run a practice and get them fired up. No need now.

Oh, and can’t wait for our local elections. Lots of people running for a variety of offices. And I’m not one of them. Great to see.

Now, back to our program. Hope you read those two links (I did have them open in new windows so you could return here!). Anyway, I love this conversation. I was a Marketing Manager at my last three firms (15 years) but this was a particular issue at my last employer where we had several marketing managers, each responsible for his/her own area. We had many discussions about when and where to require registration for content and then, how much to ask. And here’s a surprise – we all had different opinions.

I think what it all comes down to is:

  • how are you (as a marketing person) measured?
  • what is the goal of the specific piece of content you are using?

For the first point, if you are judged on “traditional” metrics like page views, downloads, re-tweets, etc., then you are happy to make all content “free” and hope that people come back to you. Although I enjoyed David Meerman Scott‘s book on “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” I don’t fully agree with him.

Here’s the pendulum problem. If you go the route of free content, you get lots of people looking at your content. But many are worthless and if you pass them to your sales team, you just cost your organization a fortune in wasted time and effort. If you make registration necessary for your content, you lose people who may have eventually become customers but were just in the beginning phase of their learning. You just lost customers.

So the answer (as it usually is) is somewhere in between.

At my last firm, I was probably the biggest proponent of free content. But I had a plan. Content that fits early in the funnel – that content which is designed to generate interest and awareness, should be free. It’s the hook you are putting out there. But from that point on, as Dan McCarthy points out:

“The answer isn’t a matter of which approach is better, but rather which approach applies, and when.

It’s unwise, for instance, to demand registration for content early in the buying process when customers are beginning to gather information about you and your competitors. High-level perspective, such as industry articles, buyer’s guides, web copy and case studies help customers place your value against a larger context.

This content should be offered gratis.

Make it easy for prospects to get educated about what questions to ask. You build trust by making it safe to learn those questions from you.

As customers move further along the buying process, their questions become more knowledgeable and specific. They’re better equipped to recognize content of value to their research. If you’ve already built trust by helping them learn what questions to ask, they’re more likely to submit a name or an email in exchange for more specialized content.”

Couldn’t have said it better. Content needs to be mapped to the buyer’s progression through the sales process. You need to make sure you have quality content that moves your prospect from interest to buying – and you need to make it a natural progression based on their buying process. To add to the complexity, people will be jumping in and out of your “planned” content continuum so you need to plan for that. Also, if you sell to a group (such as enterprise software), you need to get your content to several different target segments. Figuring that out is why you earn the big bucks. Or, if you need help, just ask me so I can earn the big bucks. It’s definitely worth the investment.

Lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is always a must but is even more important during a tough economy since many marketing budgets are facing level funding or cuts.  The reason is:

generating a new lead = bigger marketing investment

re-marketing to existing leads = little budget; just time and effort

It costs money the first time you reach out to get that first contact info – whether it’s a trade show, purchased email list, direct mail, print ad – any outbound marketing activities cost you money. But once you get that contact info, it’s now time to optimize conversion to a closed sale and pump up your ROI.  Lots of firms are very good at filling that funnel with new leads but many of them drop the ball once the leads are in the system.  And that’s the fault of the marketing group.  You spent a lot of time and effort to get these leads, why would you stop paying attention to them once they are passed down the funnel?

That was rhetorical but the answer is YOU SHOULDN’T.  Even the most qualified lead sometimes balks at purchase for a variety of reasons.  Could be budget issues suddenly arise, change in management or direction, or who knows what.  But if marketing and sales have spent time and money to generate a lead and walk them down the path, that lead is likely very interested and should not be dropped at the end if they don’t purchase.  Instead, re-cycle these leads in a “lead nurturing” program.  If you can, tag these leads with as much information as possible in you database.  It will help you if you want to better target your message by segmenting your audience.

Lead nurturing programs can take many forms and varying degrees of complexity.  The simplest and easiest is to implement a periodic e-newsletter (monthly, quarterly, whatever makes sense).  Newsletter content (another topic!) should be informative, interesting, and educational but you can sprinkle some additional lead gen items in there.  I always include promos for upcoming webinars, new whitepapers, etc.  For B2C you can add coupons, specials or extras for repeat customers.

More complex lead nurturing usually includes segmenting your leads into specific buckets and developing content just for them.  For example, a software company that targets IT, software developers and desktop users.  Or even existing customers vs. prospects.  Any additional information you have can help you better target your lead nurturing program.

The key thought is that marketing should not just generate leads and throw them over the wall to sales.  Both marketing and sales have a vested interest in how the leads work out.  And for marketing, once you spend the time and money to get those leads in, you should measure, analyze and nurture them so you can get the maximum ROI on your investment.