Posts Tagged ‘best practices’

Five keys to successful marketing automation content

Monday, August 19th, 2013

This is a guest post by Brian Hansford who is an account director with Heinz Marketing.  He maps the stages of a successful marketing automation initiative and this is the 4th installment of a four part series: Part 1 details building a successful process. The second part presents the importance of people. Part three looked at marketing automation vendor selection criteria.  In this last installment, Brian covers content.

Content helps prospects find an organization, learn and engage. Content even helps customers and non-customers alike become advocates! With a marketing automation initiative, content drives engagement and conversions which ultimately accelerates revenue!

Content often presents the biggest challenge for organizations that pursue a marketing automation initiative. Unfortunately content is often treated like a ‘Marketing 1.0’ task that a solo marketing communications writer should produce. I adopted a saying a few years ago that is “content is the fuel that launches the marketing automation rocket.” Without content, a marketing automation initiative will simply sit in limbo on the launch pad.

A well run marketing organization must have an annual campaign strategy and calendar, regardless of whether or not a marketing automation system is employed. Without a strategy, lead flow will be inconsistent, the content requirements will be unknown, campaigns will falter and the investment in marketing automation will be wasted.

Consider the content required to run each stage of a campaign in the buying cycle. Additional content will be required to support nurturing campaigns that help prevent leakage in the marketing funnel. Depending on which industry in B2B marketing, there will be different individuals at a target company that will require content suited to their roles and influence. Develop the right content for the right audience to be delivered at the right time using a marketing automation platform.

Great content helps organizations build credibility, awareness, and sets the standard that competitors must react to in order to keep up. That’s a position of strength!

Here are five considerations for developing and implementing a successful content strategy to support a marketing automation initiative.

1.  Audience: Who are the influencers and decision makers that will consume the content? Do you also have to reach partners, media, and analysts?

2.  Content Types to Steps in a Buyer’s Journey:Map the stages buyers take from pre-funnel, top of funnel, mid-funnel, final decision and beyond as existing customers? The buyer and customer journey has requirements for each phase. Here are some ideas to consider for different types:

  • Educational Content: Information designed to help prospective customers better understand the segment and solution. Well-developed content that educates also establishes credibility. Industry reports, webinars, keynote event presentations, blogs, social media user groups, and white papers are excellent formats for educational content.
  • Awareness Content: As prospective customers become more educated on the segment and solutions they will evaluate how vendors address their needs. In addition to the formats used with educational content, customer evidence through case studies is fantastic in this area. Also, content that focuses on “how-to” or “best-practices” is a perfect fit in this area.
  • Affirmation Content: As leads are nurtured into opportunities for sales follow up, they need information that helps lead them to a confident purchase decision. This is the area where vendors can define the terms of an evaluation that competitors must follow. Develop an RFP model or template. Provide more case studies and best practices. ROI models are also valuable and help develop a business case. The goal here is to build confidence that YOU are the right one to work with.
  • Advocacy Content:The sale has been won but now is not the time for complacency. Develop the content and delivery channels that help your hard-earned customers squeeze every drop of value from your solution. The more value you provide with strong communications and content, the stronger the relationship and the less chance of a defection.

3.  Content Sources and Contributors: Don’t treat content development and curation as a task for a single marketing communications writer.  Compelling, educational, informative, and entertaining content can be provided by multiple sources inside and outside of an organization.  High value content can be developed for little or no cost!  Executives in the C-suite, VP’s and directors should all understand this by now and even provide content themselves.  Customers, industry experts, channel partners, analysts, and independent bloggers are also great sources of content!

4.  Nurture Campaign Requirements: Understand content requirements when building campaign strategies and themes.

5.  Frequency and Channels: Content delivery methods are incredibly varied and many can be managed with a marketing automation platform. Proper planning helps identify whether enough content, or too much is planned for an audience.

Don’t let a marketing automation falter because of a lack of a content development plan. Content helps drive revenue when delivered with marketing automation platforms. The better the plan and implementation, the greater the return on the investment!

How are you implementing a content strategy with your marketing automation initiative?

We would love you to try out LoopFuse here.

To find out exactly what LoopFuse does, click here.

You can try Nearstream for social lead generation here.

To add LoopFuse to, click here.

You can follow LoopFuse on Twitter here or join us on our Facebook fan page here.

5 Ways to Reignite Cold Sales Leads

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

It happens to all of us.  A hot new lead shows up, does all the right things, scores through the roof, we call and maybe even do a formal sales presentation then nothing.  Just crickets….

So what should you do to reignite the relationship?

Well, first of all, we’d recommend having a basic email lead nurturing program in place that will automatically re-engage with the prospect based on where they are in the sales cycle and, in this case, being classified as “stale.”  Read more about how to map your lead nurturing to your sales pipeline stages here.

Assuming you are indeed doing that or maybe it hasn’t quite done the trick, what should you do now?

Here are 5 easy suggestions (this also assumes you have done the list building to know who these people are in the first place):

1. Personally invite them to an online event

Odds are you are having some type of on-line or off-line event for your company and maybe even have invited them via a bulk email marketing campaign.  Grab the invite details and forward it to them as a real and genuine email forward…not gamed to look like a forward in a bulk email marketing campaign that has become popular albeit irritating (you know “FW: Subject”).  This is about taking the time to extend a personal invitation so make it short, sweet, and actionable.

2. Create a limited time promotion based on their needs

If you have done your job well in the first discussions, you know their needs and have qualified them against some criteria (you do have sales qualification criteria, don’t you?).  Reference the notes in your CRM system or even an old thread of emails. If resources were an issue on their end, offer a few hours of consulting services to get them up and running. If it was an approval from a higher up, offer a discount to get it done this week/month/quarter.  This is sort of standard sales playbook stuff but works, again, in context to the specific prospect.

3. Send them a hand written note

What?  You mean actually put pen to paper?  Yes, in some cases this will be your best approach because it communicates that you took the time and thought to personally follow up.  Please no bulk direct mail or postcards.  Pick your prospects wisely and figure out who needs the personal touch.  If you have personal note cards, even better as it is less formal + more personal.

4. Connect socially

Yes, this is about social media. IF they have an online presence like a Twitter handle then tune in (follow) and engage when the time is right. DO NOT hard sell.  Imagine you’ve run into this person in a coffee shop, have said hello, and are making conversation with a group of people already gathered so if you don’t have something relevant to say then stay quiet.  Social media updates especially via public streams like Twitter give you ample opportunity to share information, answer a question, or provide a worthy comment.

5. Use a longer term email lead flow

So sort of back to where we started with an automated lead flow but this one is a bit different.  In this case, take a longer view and think about how you’d like to touch base with a prospect over a 90 or 120 day time horizon (or longer if your sales cycles are very long).  Take a few pieces of valuable content like case studies, industry recognition, or even just a simple “is now a better time” personal messages and put them to work in your marketing automation system.  You’ll be surprised at the engagement that comes from simply following up over a longer time horizon than this month or this quarter.

We would love you to try out LoopFuse here.

To find out exactly what LoopFuse does, click here.

You can try Nearstream for social lead generation here.

To add LoopFuse to, click here.

You can follow LoopFuse on Twitter here or join us on our Facebook fan page here.

The 2 Keys to Lead Nurture Messaging

Monday, December 19th, 2011

This is a guest post by Igor Belogolovsky, Cofounder of Clever Zebo, a group of online marketing strategy experts. Interested in doing a guest post? Let us know!

The 2 Keys to Lead Nurture Messaging:

1. Get to the point

2. Use your real estate wisely

When you talk about lead nurture, most marketers tend to think in terms of sending useful, relevant content to your users and fans, or personalized, helpful “check-in” notes from customer service and sales reps. I’d like to spend some time looking at different types of lead nurture and transactional messages from 3 diverse companies. I’ll be pointing out some things that, in my humble opinion, they’ve done well — and a few things they didn’t get quite right.

Our first subject is an Airbnb email reminding you to review your recent host. If you’re not familiar with Airbnb — it’s a service that lets you connect with people, private residents, who will rent out their apartments, houses and rooms to you for a  negotiated fee. (more…)

Seven ways not to suck at lead nurturing

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

We recently had a discussion with Mac McConnell of Bluebird Strategies about how to do lead nurturing the right way.  Mac knows a thing or two about his given his previous senior sales experience at Sun Microsystems.

You can watch the replay of the webinar by clicking here.

Mac walked us through some great tips and examples during our discussion.  Here are seven things that will keep you from sucking at lead nurturing:

  1. Focus on creating value for the buyer by putting yourself in their shoes and asking “how is this solution going to improve my worth at work.”
  2. Ensure the content offered meets the expectations of the audience.  Content for the sake of content is a frequently repeated early mistake in lead nurturing programs.
  3. Don’t rely too heavily on past accomplishments (case studies, etc.) because they may not apply to the current customer’s situation.
  4. Lead nurturing is not a “set it and forget it” process.  Keep it simple but constantly assess both the content and timing of your nurturing program.
  5. The best nurturing program is one that focuses on the prospects area(s) of interest and creativity can “shake up a sleeping” database of leads.
  6. Don’t forget about retention and the role nurturing plays in that process especially if you are a subscription-based business.  Nurturing doesn’t end once someone becomes a customer.
  7. Seek first to educate and demonstrate your knowledge of the customer’s problem and it flows more naturally that you have the solution to that problem.

Great points Mac!  Be sure to watch the whole thing here.