Let’s face it; every profession has its obstacles. For B2B marketers, there are a number of challenges that simply “come with the job” from lead generation to data quality management. Let’s take a deeper dive into these challenges as well as ways to solve them.
Generating Leads: Investing time between inbound and outbound marketing strategies is a real issue for B2B marketers. We all would love to have demand gen engines that simply deliver all the MQLs we require each month… and if you’ve got it, werk it because that is fabulous. But if you haven’t gotten there yet, don’t worry. Start by reporting on the number of leads you are receiving through each channel, couple those numbers with the conversion to opportunity stats, and then compare ROI. That should give you a decent picture of where you need to invest your marketing dollars (or even just your time) for the rest of the year.
Targeting Effectively: As you know, targeting is crucial to B2B marketing. In order for prospects to even consider doing business with you, your messaging has to be relevant, valuable, and on point—which ain’t always easy. The first step in successfully targeting is developing a complete picture of your target consumer (aka “buyer persona”). Need help in that department? Download our Guide to Developing a Buyer Persona. It really isn’t difficult to start developing a true picture of who your buyers are. Your sales team (and the company bottom line) will thank you.
Data Quality: Marketers have more data than they know what to do with. We’ve got data coming out of our ears. In fact, as I’m typing this, I’m also running a report in my CRM to see which industry is driving the highest average deal size for NetProspex. But if I don’t have industry filled out in each of these deals, this report will be useless… or at the very least, misleading. And there is a larger impact than just my deal size report. Poor data quality and duplicate data have cost the U.S economy over $3 trillion every year. Inaccurate data can plague almost every aspect of your marketing efforts from targeting to segmentation to campaigns. To ensure your marketing database is squeaky clean you must first assess the state of your data, cleanse it, round out your records with missing details, and then grow it using those profitable channels we talked about above.
Chances are you’ve evolved from the basic one channel marketing mindset and are using several communication vehicles like social and email to connect with today’s digitally savvy buyer, right? Let’s face it… today’s always-on, multiple-gadget consumer has flipped the marketing game upside down, forcing many companies to adopt a multichannel marketing strategy.
However, multi-dimensional marketing has the potential to go horribly wrong if you don’t have all your ducks in a row. Below are four important best practices to ensure multichannel marketing alignment.
Ensure everyone’s playing nice: Whether you’re using social, email, video or blogs, it’s important to make sure that each avenue supports your overall efforts, instead of trying to compete—or sabotage—one funnel. Plot out how content will visually tie to one another. They don’t have to match exactly but should look like part of the same family. And if you really want success, make sure that your channels lead to one another whenever possible.
Gain visibility into all channels: Without visibility into all your communication channels, you might as well be driving with your eyes closed. Dashboards allow you to report on each channel and measure the success of your different programs. Marrying all your different planning and reporting sources can be hard to keep track of. To help you with keeping all the swim lanes in parallel, check out this handy planner.
One branded voice: Having a unified message throughout all programs is extremely important as confusing or contradicting messaging will turn-off prospects. The tone can vary by channel, as some are more casual than others, but the message and storylines, need to all fit together.
Do some testing: There’s always going to be new channels to leverage to reach prospects, but not every channel will prove valuable. Block off time to map out how you will measure success. Plan out how you will capture and report on these metrics before the programs roll out. Perform some testing and give each one a shot to see what works best for your company.
How do you keep your ducks in a row? Comment below!
It’s no secret that today’s buyers get the majority, if not all, of their information online from various sources. In fact, buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent of the way through their buying journey before they even reach out to a company. So what does this all mean? It means that we as marketers must understand buyers’ needs and properly facilitate the decision process, instead of bombarding them with meaningless marketing fluff. But how? Two simple words: demand generation.
Demand generation—which depends on the combination of your marketing automation technology, the content you create for buyers in each stage of the buying cycle, and your marketing data—is like an engine powering your company’s message to the wide world of potential buyers. Your database serves as the fuel to drive that engine. And just as luxury cars run best on premium, higher-octane gasoline, so too does your marketing engine. The more complete, accurate and actionable your data is, the better your chances for success. However, as data decays at a rate of two percent or more per month, the records currently sitting in your database are probably outdated.
This is where marketing data management comes into play. In order to have best-in-class demand generation, you need to put focus on data quality and management. Proper data management ensures that your database is free from inaccurate or incomplete data that could be clogging your “engine.” Consider this: According to the Aberdeen Group, companies with best-of-breed marketing data management incorporated into their demand generation engine require only 68 leads per customer acquisition.
Want better demand generation? Click here to explore how NetProspex’s marketing data services can help you. If you have questions, let’s chat in the comments below.
Did you know that the average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for only 4.4 years? Or that 88 percent of IT buyers admit to lying on registration forms? In other words, the data currently sitting in your database is probably outdated or incorrect. Scary, I know.
Dirty data isn’t just a marketing problem; it’s a business problem. Your marketing database is the lifeblood of your business and the health of your database is a major determinant in whether or not your company will hit its revenue goals for the year. So how do you eliminate dirty data and turn your database into a gold mine? It’s simple – marketing data management.
Marketing data management refers to the best practices that ensure your marketing data is complete, accurate and actionable, rather than soiled with incomplete contacts or incorrect information. Transforming an ineffective marketing database into a well-oiled machine can greatly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing efforts, saving your business a considerable amount of time, money and effort, while generating revenue faster. In fact, the Aberdeen Group reports that companies with best-in-class marketing data management practices require only 68 leads per customer acquisition compared to the industry average of 143 – that’s a 52% increase in demand generation efficiency! Add that to your top line. Other benefits include:
Better segmentation and more targeted offers and messages
More accurate and actionable lead scoring
Improved response and inbound conversion rates
Shorter sales cycles and higher Average Sales Price
Stop ignoring the elephant in the room and get serious about improving the health of your marketing data. Understanding what issues exist with your data is the first step to getting ahead of them… the rest will follow.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
Contact data quality is a problem that plagues B2B marketers, yet a company’s prospect database is at the core of every lead generation program. Often, companies build this database over time, from multiple sources, with data that is constantly decaying. In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, one third of a marketing database goes bad in the course of one year.
Our CleneProspex™ service is used to assess and improve the quality of a client’s prospect database. The service identifies and removes records with an undeliverable email address, potential email threats, out of date phone numbers, missing fields, or duplicates. With this service, marketers improve their program results, reduce costs and risks associated with bad data, identify gaps in their prospect database, and realize greater business value from their contact records. Clients can then fill in missing data from a massive, crowd-sourced database of business contacts.