It’s that time again: CMO.com recently turned to its ever-growing array of savvy contributors and colleagues and asked them what they envision the new year will bring for the digital-marketing world. Among the responses from 86 enthusiastic marketing pros–that’s nearly three times the number of people who weighed in last year–are predictions about what’s next for mobile (a biggie), content marketing, big data, and customer centricity. And that only skims the surface. Read on to find out what they said we can expect in the coming 12 months. (Responses are arranged alphabetically by last name.)
Content, data, and technology will continue to dominate in 2013. Marketers are getting savvier, leveraging more technology to do what they do with more reach. This drives the need for content, and I don’t see this subsiding anytime soon. Marketers will need to learn to scale in terms of content creation to keep up with the demand. At the same time, use of multiple channels will continue to create oodles of data, useful for marketers if they can get their arms around it. As a result, 2013 is the year that marketers have to solve for proactive management of their datasets in order to leverage them to their maximum.
— Maribeth Ross, VP Of Marketing, NetProspex
Before you finally close your email inbox for the last time in 2012 and break out the spiced egg nog, you’ve got to finish planning your B2B marketing strategies for 2013. No easy task!
We know that your to-do list is longer than your kids’ wish-list for Chrismahanukwanzakah, because we’re in the midst of planning as well. From our team to yours, here are 3 key questions to get ahead of before the new year — plus, FREE tools we’re using to figure them out.
1. How is your current database equipped to support your campaigns for 2013?
Business contact data is a tricky asset in your marketing toolkit. For effective marketing, you need the right records for the right people. Sounds simple, right? Think again. People change jobs constantly (over 47M last year, alone). SiriusDecisions reports that as much as 25% of a marketing database goes bad annually, and that each problematic record may end up costing your business up to $100 a year if not managed.
As if that’s not enough, with so many sources of contact records (trade shows, inbound leads from SEO, whitepaper registrations, and more) it’s difficult to manage WHO is in your database. One of the best holiday gifts you can give yourself is some insight – where does your database currently stand?
FREE TOOL #1 DATA HEALTHSCAN: This free online database assessment report, which we call the Data HealthScan, reports the quality and targeting patterns in any given .CSV file. In this new (in beta) tool, you can analyze 100k records in just 10 minutes, and it’s comprehensive enough to show you exactly which issues to address to make the most impact in 2013.
In less than the time it takes to find a parking spot at the mall, you can learn:
How is your email deliverability?
Which records are outside of your target market?
Do you have enough of the right contacts in key segments?
How many incomplete records are in your database?
2. How many new contacts do you need to fuel programs in 2013?
Got any webinars planned in 2013? How about eBooks? Whitepapers? Regional events? Phew. With so much marketing activity planned, don’t forget about filling up the tank of fuel that drives registrations, downloads, and attendees. After you’ve identified and removed bad data in your database, you’ll need to fill the gaps. You’ll also need to fill the TOP of the funnel with enough targeted prospect data to meet revenue goals at the BOTTOM. But how many contacts do you need? How many touches to convert prospects to a qualified lead?
Response rates for many email campaigns are in the single digits. And sometimes it takes 7-8 touches before a prospect will convert — this could include emails, phone calls from your business development team, or direct mail pieces.
FREE TOOL #2 FUNNEL CALCULATOR: With so many moving pieces, and varying conversion rates, we recommend the Demand Gen Funnel Calculator. This free tool helps you determine the amount of marketing activity you’ll need to meet revenue goals. To use, you’ll need your 2013 marketing generated revenue goal and average deal size — and we’ve even included industry-average conversion rates to help you get started.
3. How do all your programs align throughout the year?
There’s a lot that goes on under the marketing umbrella in any given organization. Multiple simultaneous campaigns, prep work for upcoming deliverables, all while measuring and recapping completed projects. It’s what makes marketing an exciting but often stressful career, and all of us wish for just a couple more hours in each day to juggle all the balls up in the air.
Unfortunately, no tool is going to solve this problem. You’ll have to rely on your savvy, amazing self to get it all done. One strategy we have found useful to get the most out of our marketing is to ensure each activity is aligned. In other words, what’s happening in MarCom is tied back to a core messaging plan that echoes throughout our demand generation, social media, and event strategy. Planning activities in this way ensures consistency, but also lets us re-purpose content across multiple outlets. It’s a scalable strategy for our team, and one that hopefully proves effective for yours.
FREE TOOL #3 PLAN-O-GRAM: We made our planning template available for our clients to utilize, and it’s been enormously popular with nearly 900 downloads in a few weeks time. Use it to map out and align messaging across all your programs in the 1H and 2H of 2013. It’s also a great way to show other departments your fabulous work.
We hope you find these tools super handy and helpful as you finish up your strategy for 2013. Happy Holidays!
What can you, modern marketers, learn from a data player like NetProspex? I mean, come on, you have already turned your lead generation into a battlefield-ready machine. You have tuned your forms perfectly for frictionless conversion. You have convinced the rest of the exec team to invest in a kick-ass Marketing Automation software. The marketing factory is humming, leads are scored and routed, nurturing programs are in place.
The factory is humming.
Think of your demand generation as a factory for a moment. The most basic element is a “lead” (or a contact). You attract, create, manage, cultivate, and refine them. You have them moved from conveyer belt to conveyer belt until the worthy ones are wrapped and shipped to sales for follow-up. But often, what you know about each contact is limited – mainly by the need to keep forms short and by the necessity to keep the lead-gen entry barrier low. You certainly have the basics like name, email and company. Sometimes you have title and company size, but not always. Not having complete details seems to be one of those “facts of life” limitations for marketers.
There’s a better way.
I never understood why it had to be this way. At NetProspex, we believe in a world where you as a marketer have actionable data at your fingertips – firmographics, like industry, company revenue and headcount, as well as detailed contact information – available to enrich each record. This opens new vistas and possibilities for you in lead-scoring, routing, campaign targeting, and for various other higher-consciousness programs you have not thought of yet.
Think of this data augmentation as enrichment for your contact data. It’s available from premier B2B data services companies like ours, but here are a few aspects to consider, to help you know that you are getting the real thing.
1. Data quality: Data cleanliness is of paramount importance today. Lists are a dime a dozen, and a ton of new-fangled data players exist with more of the same, low quality information. Look for a partner who has a documented, sophisticated, and believable process for record cleaning. (Okay okay, I’m plugging our CleneStepTM validation process. Marketers love it.)
2. Level of automation: The data augmentation you choose needs to natively work and integrate with your Marketing Automation System. It also needs to work in real-time. The good news is that marketing automation companies are taking a page from other SaaS players and have introduced marketplaces like the Eloqua AppCloud and Marketo Launchpoint to deliver greater value through integrated partner applications. More resources are available than ever, and more tools are added every week
3. Control: This is critical! When designing workflows to add data to your campaigns, you should have full control over how the data is augmented, what is added or overwritten, and when. Ultimately, you want the ability to configure this process to fit your organization’s unique approach to marketing data.
4. Simplicity: If people start talking to you about “paradigm shifts”, and the need to “buy into the new vision” – run the other way. Data enrichment needs to be simple. It is a utility that knows its place, and should work in tandem with your lead scoring, followup, and other automated systems. Data enrichment should not require you to reengineer your world.
5. Price: Everything in life comes at a price. Do make sure that you receive volume discounts, and the pricing package is tuned to your needs. Getting technical for a moment, we priced our Data Enrichment App by records matched – not by how many attempts are made to find a match. We believe marketers should not have to pay an arm and a leg for better, more actionable data.
I enjoy the chance to speak with modern marketers whenever possible. I want to hear about what lead data issues you face, your wish-list of B2B data services and tools, and how we can continue to empower marketers to get better results from their marketing data. I can be reached at email@example.com or @dgrenader on Twitter.
Shameless plug: we worked really hard on the new Data Enrichment App for Eloqua! The app appends and normalizes data from completed forms on your website, or currently within your programs and campaigns. Check it out, and try it free for two months if you sign up before December 31st.
New Eloqua AppCloud App Enhances Existing Contact Data and Form Registrations to Significantly Improve B2B Marketing Data Completeness and Effectiveness
WALTHAM, MA–(Nov 7, 2012) – NetProspex, the leading provider of B2B contact data services, today announced the launch of theNetProspex Data Enrichment Connector for Eloqua. This new app installs into the Eloqua environment to enrich contacts by appending and normalizing critical information about the contact and company. Marketers can now append data such as job title or industry in real-time behind a registration form, or add key information to existing contacts in Eloqua programs and campaigns.
The app enables Eloqua users to:
Segment and score leads faster
Reduce the number of fields on a registration form
Increase conversion rates
Raise the quality of their current marketing database
Given the variety of sources marketers rely on for collecting lead data, records often miss critical fields such as industry, company size, or job title. This incomplete data poses a problem to modern marketers, who rely on full and complete contact records for lead scoring, lead routing, and targeted messaging. As 88 percent of buyers have admitted to giving incorrect profile information on registration forms, marketers are struggling with inaccurate data. With a significant portion of B2B leads now coming through such forms, it is increasingly important for marketers to enrich profile information from their forms and enhance their existing marketing database.
The NetProspex Data Enrichment Connector for Eloqua matches incomplete records from an Eloqua database or form submission with NetProspex’s crowd-sourced, verified business contact database. While other offerings often match only by email address, this new tool offers Progressive Matching, searching first by email, and then by a combination of additional fields until a match is made. This greatly increases match rates for marketing clients.
Additional features include:
20 minute set-up within the Eloqua environment
Normalization and categorization of data fields
Addition of firmographic and demographic information including job title, job level, industry, address, employee count, revenue, and more to help classify and score lead records
“The NetProspex Data Enrichment connector for Eloqua gives our lead scoring and segmentation a boost by adding key contact and company information to records in our Eloqua database, and in real-time to our form submissions,” said Ken Evans, director of demand generation at Demandware.
“A marketing database represents millions of dollars of our customer’s budget, as it is the result of all of their marketing activity. Our customers spend a lot of time and energy growing their contact databases, and just because data is incomplete or inaccurate doesn’t mean that those efforts have gone to waste,” said Gary Halliwell, CEO of NetProspex. “This new tool allows B2B Eloqua users to measurably enrich their data using industry-leading clean contact data from NetProspex in order to maximize the value they receive from their database.”
“Clean data is the clearly the foundation of modern marketing, yet only a small number of marketers can really classify their own data as accurate, relevant, and valid,” said Steve Woods, CTO of Eloqua. “Ensuring that data is clean and actionable should always be a top priority.”
Starter Trial Offer Customers can enjoy a two-month free starter trial of the connector if they sign up at Eloqua Experience 2012. Attendees interested can see NetProspex at booth number 228.
About NetProspexNetProspex drives customer acquisition by partnering with B2B marketers to deliver targeted prospect lists, data cleansing, and profiling analytics that help to uncover data insight and optimize lead generation results. Voted Best Lead Generation Solution by the SIIA, NetProspex maintains a deep database of millions of crowd-sourced business contacts verified by CleneStep™ technology. Thousands of B2B organizations rely on NetProspex to acquire and maintain clean, accurate prospect information to fuel high-performing marketing campaigns. More information athttp://www.netprospex.com or on Twitter @NetProspex.
Last week NetProspex hosted a webinar revealing Content Marketing trends for technology marketers. Our panelists discussed the findings and shared their best advice. Here, we’ve answered 5 audience questions from that live event. To watch the on-demand recording, click here.
Writer & Consultant Stephanie Tilton
Ten Ton Marketing
Strategist & Thought-leader Samantha Stone
The Marketing Advisory Network
Practioner John T. Frankot
1. Where does SEO fit into the content marketing equation?
A. SEO and content marketing go hand in hand. It starts by understanding the language your ideal customer uses to describe his or her pain points, goals, along with the terms used to conduct searches during the research and decision-making process. This should come out when developing buyer personas. You then work those phrases/terms into content titles, abstracts, etc. to optimize for search.
A. I agree with Stephanie. SEO and content marketing are linked in important ways. In my experience starting a content creation project with SEO as the primary goal has the unintentional consequence of degrading the quality of insight provided. Rather, it is best to focus the content on the target audience, then optimize for search. If we understand our audience well, the SEO efforts should be a natural output of the writing process. 2. Can you comment on the notion of repurposing content across multiple formats? I’m keen to leverage content, and hit different audiences…BUT am scared about prospects feeling the material is redundant/repetitive if they happen to see it in multiple places. Thoughts?
A. Samantha said it best during the webinar – prospects aren’t going to remember all the content that they consume so repetition never hurts. In fact, because prospects are likely consuming content from so many different companies, you need to make sure your message gets through and sticks, and that requires repetition. That said, it never hurts to slightly reword/recast the same information.
A. We should all be so lucky as our audience gets bored with our content because they remember it well! The truth is while we are familiar with everything that we produce, our audience reads very little of what has been published; and remembers even less. Some repetition is not only OK, it’s advisable. Of course, balance the repetition of messages by being creative with the format by which information is produced, along with varying the context by which it is provided.
A. Frequency and consistency are important and beneficial. However, it is advisable to have enough content to cover the major perspectives with which a readers’ interest is coming from, or to tailored to particular industry or application. I would venture to say as long as it is good, relevant content a reader is not going to think negatively about seeing it broadly distributed. 3. In enterprise sales, do you really think Marketing knows better than a Sales person who a C-level exec consumes information?
A. Marketing likely knows best what the audience is consuming in the earlier stages of the buying cycle and sales likely knows best what they’re consuming later on. But the best source is prospects and customers. Ask them what information they’re looking for at each stage of the buying cycle, along with their format preferences.
A. The best source of information consumption is our buyers. Both sales and marketing professionals have many opportunities to learn from them. Never be afraid to ask questions of potential buyers and clients alike.
A. It comes down to who has the better data, which often is a result of asking good questions of your current clients and prospects. This type of intelligence gathering should be a collaborative effort between Marketing and Sales.
4. Given the #1 currency that we are fighting for is time, how does awesome content get you out of the spam folder or “delete any vendor e-mail immediately” problem?
A. “Awesome” content stands out by being relevant, compelling, and timely. When people see useful information that’s applicable to what they’re trying to achieve, they’re open to receiving it. And when a vendor consistently delivers that type of information – instead of a product pitch time and again – its seen as a trusted source of information.
A. Building a reputation for providing compelling content will lead your target buyers to open more emails, but it is a mistake to think of your content strategy as your email strategy. Building a successful email campaign requires strong content offers, but it also requires careful consideration of subject line treatment, visual formats, timing and frequency. To maximize the value of content investments remember to distribute it across a wide range of vehicles, of which email is one of them.
A. Our philosophy is trusted content sources are valued, sought after and approved so they don’t land in the SPAM folder. As we well know, prospects are bombarded with vendor efforts to connect. You really need to find a trusted entry point and be relevant in your content distribution, enough so it is more content pull verse a push.
5. What characteristics do a white paper must have? Size? A bunch of tips or a more technical perspective?
Many folks feel gypped when a white paper just skims the surface of a topic. The paper should be as long as necessary to explore a topic in a meaningful way. If you have so much to say about a topic that you can produce 15 or 20 pages or more, create a series of white papers. Such an approach shows a respect for your readers’ time while also providing a terrific way to keep them engaged over an extended period as part of lead-nurturing efforts.
One common mistake is when companies produce ultra-short white papers that are nothing more than brochures in disguise. Keep in mind what stage of the buying process the paper is meant to serve. Early on, prospects are not looking for product details; they want to understand industry trends, best practices for solving their issues, what to look for in a solution, etc.
A. Agree with much of what Stephanie shared. In general, nobody is in need of another product brochure. You need to identify with a readers problem, help them explore, and guide them to potential solutions. The content we see resonate best are thought leadership style white papers (4-6 pages), case studies, third party solution studies and eBooks.
New service provides data on prospects’ technology environments with 90 percent accuracy
Waltham, Mass. – September 12, 2012NetProspex, the leading provider of B2B contact data services, today announced the launch of TechProspex, a premium technology intelligence service. This new solution allows B2B technology marketers to find contacts at companies using more than 1,200 selectable technologies with 90 percent accuracy.
As 67% of marketers only segment by geography, industry, and title1, there is an enormous opportunity to gain a competitive advantage with precise targeting criteria based on what technologies are used at target companies, down to the specific model or version. The TechProspex service allows marketers to build lists of contacts at companies using complimentary technology or that of the competition. Customers can also append technology insights to accounts in their current database.
While other technology install data relies on surveys and statistical modeling to estimate what platforms a prospect might be using, TechProspex harnesses the power of Big Data compiled from hundreds of millions of public and proprietary datasets to achieve an unprecedented level of accuracy and coverage for existing installed technology, validated by phone. Only TechProspex can pair this information with the NetProspex database, offering marketers access to hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of potential B2B influencers and buyers. This contact data is then verified by NetProspex’s proprietary CleneStepTM contact verification process.
“Not only is NetProspex’s data high-quality, but it allows our team to drill down to a level of detail on technology use that helps improve our program results,” said Charlene Williams, Director of Marketing at Netuitive.
“TechProspex enables marketers to craft a message highly relevant to specific technology environments, increasingcampaign conversion and meeting lead generation goals,” said Gary Halliwell, CEO of NetProspex. “This is possible through a new level of access to the installed platforms that their prospects are using, coupled with industry-leading clean contact data from NetProspex’s contact database.”
Marketers that are targeting enterprises for high-consideration technology purchases know that, on average, no one decision maker has more than 30 percent of the total power through the purchase process2. Reaching multiple contacts per account is vital to the success of a campaign. The TechProspex solution provides a wide range of job functions and levels within companies, so customers are able to reach all appropriate influencers. Traditional providers are limited in coverage per company.
Technology marketers can request counts for specific technologies, and learn more about TechProspex here.
1 B2B Magazine Survey, 2012
2 Forrester Tech Marketing Navigator
NetProspex drives customer acquisition by partnering with B2B marketers to deliver targeted prospect lists, data cleansing, and profiling analytics that help to uncover data insight and optimize lead generation results. Voted Best Lead Generation Solution by the SIIA, NetProspex maintains a deep database of millions of crowd-sourced business contacts verified by CleneStep™ technology. Thousands of B2B organizations rely on NetProspex to acquire and maintain clean, accurate prospect information to fuel high-performing marketing campaigns. More information at www.netprospex.com or on Twitter @NetProspex.
Today, marketers benefit from marketing and sales automation tools that capture data about what is happening with a lead over its lifetime. And, when used correctly, this information gives marketers a leg up when it comes to planning. Studying the performance of your leads as they go through their buying journey allows you to build a predictive model that can determine how many leads will turn into customers. There are many names for the process of measuring lead conversion throughout the sales cycle. Regardless, the more that you study the metrics in your marketing funnel, the more you will understand which levers to pull to improve program performance.
How does the funnel work?
A funnel, is only as good as the data behind it, so be sure to do your homework ahead of time. Most companies have put considerable time and effort into determining how to qualify each opportunity stage a buyer has reached and howto show that in their forecast. Due to the challenge associated with this, don’t feel bad if your sales team and marketing team haven’t agreed on what it takes to become a lead AND how to mark the proper lead stages before they get to the opportunity stage. Obtaining alignment with sales as to what the definitions are for an MQL, SAL and SQL are critical to your joint success.
Companies with best-in-class processes vs. companies with average processes achieved 25% or greater improvement in Waterfall Conversion Rates
– SiriusDecisions, Field Marketing 2.0: The Heart of Growing Conversion Rates
The funnel uses conversion numbers between lead stages to help determine how much you must put in the top of the funnel to meet a certain goal at the bottom or, it can do the opposite – track how much you will get out of the bottom if you put a certain volume in at the top. Either way, there is a lot to be learned from tracking how these leads convert from one stage to the next. Define the stages for yourself using the guidelines below:
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). A contact who has engaged with your marketing efforts enough to meet your company’s definition as ready to be passed from marketing to sales
Sales Accepted Lead (SAL). An MQL that has been determined by a member of the sales team (likely an inside sales rep) to be accepted and worth exploration by a sales person. Companies use different methods to determine an SAL, the BANT method is a popular one.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). A lead that has been explored by a salesperson and determined to be qualified for their pursuit. This is often considered to be the beginning of the sales process.
Make sure that you set up a way to track these conversions within your marketing and sales automation tool so that it is applied consistently and has a time/date stamp to capture each conversion. You’ll be able to use your own conversion numbers within the funnel to predict outcomes of your marketing programs. And, you will be stunned at how useful the information is!!!
Where to start?
Don’t have historical conversion data? You have to start somewhere, how about beginning with an educated guess. Turn to industry thought leaders like SiriusDecisions, MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa, or your favorite marketing experts to develop a baseline using their program averages or best practice numbers. The first time you build a funnel it is scary (especially when you’re using someone else’s conversion data), but remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Put a stake in the ground!
As the year progresses, you should compare your actual data to your starting funnel. Build a funnel to support your annual plan, but also make stand alone versions for each of your major campaigns. By measuring programs in flight alongside how you are doing against your annual goal, you will be able to make course corrections quickly to ensure your overall success.
Pathway to success:
Now you are able to step up to the table and provide an actual forecast – based in real numbers – about the impact that you can have on your company’s bottom line. Using the funnel tool you have a method to forecast your contribution and also manage your performance against it. Good luck!
With the US athletes exceeding their goals in London right now, we thought we should keep the winning momentum going with a post originally written for Business2Community by NetProspex VP of Marketing, Maribeth Ross.
1. Assess the quality situation – Your marketing database of prospects and contact records is at the core of your future pipeline. How accurate is the contact and company information in this database? In 2011, 37% of the workforce changed jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. NetProspex research shows that an individual contact records degrades in quality at the rate of 2% each month. Is poor data mucking up your marketing and preventing your pipeline from growing to its full potential?
2. Assess the targeting situation – Ensure that you have crossed the “T” in targeting. To ensure you have all the right targets in your database, look at historical purchase data. Identify as much as you can about the target buyer and other influencers that were involved in the buying process. This is a great time to append missing contact info (phone/address) and demographic/firmographic info (industry/title) or append installed technology data. In addition, take note of the length of the buying cycle. It will tell you a lot about what you need to do today to hit future goals.
Once you’ve confirmed your target buyers and influencers, you’ll need to evaluate your prospect databases to confirm that it has these buyers, both the primary targets and influencers. The shortest path to a sale is to involve all the influencers from the beginning to get them aligned and marketing can play a key early role in doing this.
3. Play the volume game – To really understand the volume of marketing activity you’ll need to hit your target for the quarter, run numbers through a marketing waterfall or marketing funnel. (Try this handy demand-gen funnel calculator: http://bit.ly/funnel-calculator) Using conversions at all stages (either your own or published averages), you’ll be able to predict how much activity you’ll need to generate in order to hit revenue numbers. Sometimes, marketers will find that their prospect database does not support the amount of volume they need to generate. This is a great exercise to help identify the need to augment the database with new, targeted contact data.
4. Line up your messaging – Double check your messaging. Is it truly matched to your buyer persona’s pains and needs? Does it clearly show how your solution can alleviate their challenges? In order to resonate with buyers, your content needs to address the challenges they are currently facing in their business.
It should be clear that you understand their challenges and have experience solving challenges for others in similar situations. Ideally, your audience will understand th
at your solution is in a unique position to help them meet the challenges based on a combination of your understanding of their issues, your experience with others, and your ability to sell the way they want to buy. Finally, ensure your message is carried throughout the entire buyers journey, from the marketing website to call scripts
5. Qualify your leads – are all of your marketing leads being qualified? Fully qualifying your marketing leads into sales ready opportunities via teleprospecting can dramatically improve the amount of leads that end up in your sales pipeline.
More often than not, many marketing leads are never followed up on (as much as 80% in some cases), as sales folks who are also responsible for closing business do not have the cycles to fully qualify and convert marketing leads. However marketing leads that are fully qualified into sales ready leads are followed up upon, particularly if sales and marketing sit to agree on what constitutes a fully qualified sales ready lead.
With tougher economic conditions, sales teams are under more pressure, have bigger quotas/territories, smaller average deal sizes, and even less time, so it really does not make sense to provide them with any leads that are not fully qualified sales ready opportunities.
6. Get Feedback – Close the loop on all the leads and opportunities passed – how else will you be able to truly assess the level of success of your marketing programs? Set up a process to close the loop on all the leads and opportunities passed to the sales team, as getting their feedback is essential to ensuring success. This feedback will allow you to optimize the process, ensure all the leads are being followed-up (or added to a nurture campaign if appropriate), and will provide you with a complete data set to measure your results.
7. Measure and Analyze – measure the effectiveness of your campaigns in real-time, and adjust to ensure you are meeting your goals. With the tools available today there is no excuse for not being nimble and adapting in real-time. This analysis will not only allow you to more effectively meet your goals, but it will enable you to plan and scale for growth.
This article was written in partnership with AG Salesworks – a B2B teleprospecting and marketing services firm that helps technology, media, financial services, and communications companies si
gnificantly increase their sales pipeline. With NetProspex contact data services, AG Salesworks offers AG Pipeline Connect, a solution guaranteeing fully qualified sales leads.
You may be asking yourself, “So, what is a MQL?” Great question! A MQL is a Marketing QualifiedLead, or someone who has engaged with your marketing efforts enough to meet your company’s definition as ready to be passed from marketing to sales. This definition is straightforward, however it is how companies define their MQLs that needs a closer look.
So often, sales teams complain that a MQL has not been truly qualified by marketing before handing it over, resulting in wasted time and resources and increasing tension between the two. As you consider how your organization defines exactly what criteria is necessary for a MQL, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Truly identify the buyer. The best marketing teams work with sales to learn about and define their best buyers. Both teams come to agree upon the definition of a lead that is ready for sales. Once you have this definition – deliver on it; don’t send along unripe leads or it will undermine your credibility with sales. Having this foundation in place will set the proper expectations between sales and marketing and ensure that marketing can measure their contribution to the number at the end of each month.
2. Message to the buyer. Seems pretty obvious, but all too often companies send the same message to all of their buyers. Different buyers have different needs, which is why many companies build buyer personas to understand the needs of their customers, their likes and dislikes, even their personalities! Aligning your value to the buyer persona helps you talk in terms of what they care about. Today, relevance is critical in getting folks to pay attention.
3. Understand the buyer’s journey. Buyers require different information at different stages of their buying cycle to move their decision-making forward. As part of your efforts to get to know the buyer, you should understand HOW they buy and what info they require to make a decision. Understand what gets them to consider, evaluate and select your product and then align your assets to it. Anything other than the info they need is akin to the sound of the grownups in the Peanuts cartoons (“mwa, mwah, mwah waah”).
4. Content is your greatest tool. Let’s face it; the days of features and benefits are over. We live in a world full of solutions and value-adds. One way of differentiating is with truly unique, educational content around the problems your company solves. If you continuously offer compelling content, prospects engage and self-identify as MQLs.
5. Avoid the asylum. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Today’s marketers measure the heck out of what they produce. With automation systems that make it easy to measure, not falling victim to insanity should be easy. Here is a rule: If it is not working, STOP! That doesn’t mean try again or send it to “one more list”. It means halt and reevaluate what you are doing:
Have you properly identified your buyer?
Do you know what they care about and respond to?
Do you know how they make their decisions?
Are you providing them with the info they seek in the places they like to get that info?
Getting it right is an evolution and good marketers roll with the tide and constantly test and evolve their strategy. These tips should provide a good starting point for that evolution.
25 smart B2B marketers gathered at Netprospex HQ this morning, joined by Ann Handley of MarketingProfs to discuss content marketing. Thank you to everyone who came out, and contributed to the conversation. Below are some soundbites from the event:
Sketch by CEO Gary Halliwell
“He who has the budget creates the content.”
“Marketer’s don’t always call it ‘content marketing’. They say ‘branding’ – and storytelling is used to ensure everyone from the CFO to the guy who opens the warehouse doors is saying the same message.”
“We’ve heard marketers are publishers… but marketers are really producers. They take stories and produce them across multiple formats for distribution across multiple channels. They slice and dice a story into 140 characters and eBooks alike.”
“Aligning with sales is the new black… but often times sales is trained in a separate language than marketing uses. I predict a new focus on helping marketers and sales speak the same language across content.”
“Keep it simple. None of your readers will ever complain that you’ve made it too simple.”
“At MarketingProfs we’ve started creating info-doodles. A picture is worth 1,000 slogans.”
“B2B brands want to be more human, and the tone of content can help humanize a brand.”
Ann recommends adopting the Flawesome methodology… “being awesome despite your flaws. Content doesn’t have to be perfect, humans aren’t perfect.”
“We’re trying to convince our team that it’s OK to write like a human.”