Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lead Qualification & Scoring

Two very timely posts today around lead qualification/scoring... I've always maintained that one of the critical components in a lead management system is a process (preferably automated but can be manual), that enables you to qualify and score (part of the lead nurture process) the initial inquiries you receive. That's a big part of the reason why your organization wants lead management.

In this interview today on Funnelholic Thought Leadership Interview #10: "Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing with Trish Bertuzzi, Trish hits on a number of terrific points with regards to lead qualification from the perspective of someone who consults and helps co's build their inside sales organizations. It really underscores the critical link between sales and marketing when putting in place a lead management system.

A summary of key points Trish makes:
  • Viewing the marketing function of lead qual or lead development as really the very front end of the sales process
  • The time to deploy a lead gen model is when a company has evolved from start-up status, is established enough that marketing generates a consistent pipeline of inquiries to be qualified and the company is selling to the entire decision chain so that multiple touches are required to different people
  • If your sales model readily can accept inquiries that turn into sales-ready leads at the outset of receipt (or very quickly thereafter) perhaps a lead qual/nurture model is not required
In that same vein Marketing Sherpa has an article titled Lead Scoring: 6 Strategies to Partner with Sales to Rank, ID Prospects which adds some additional great points on lead scoring, including defining a sales-ready lead, establishing scores for different activities, how to test your methodology and refining a system through ongoing collaboration. Excellent information from Emily W. Salus, Senior Marketing Manager, CollabNet, who's quoted in the article.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Today's Cool Links - Feb 24, 2009

MarketingProfs has three especially good articles today (apologies, a couple of these stories are for premium members only)...

Steal This List discusses how to improve email open rates with effective email subject lines and provides some compelling examples. The gist of what they say includes keep subject lines concise (35 characters or less), make it about the reader, provide a clear call to action, keep the message simple and clear, avoid all caps (my add - and the word Free) and include your brand.

I'd like to add that subject lines should cut to the core of the benefit to the recipient - what is the laser-focused value to them that gets them to open the email? I like to have subject lines that hint at providing value or content that imparts knowledge and enables people to work smarter, faster, more efficiently. Reflecting best practices of some of the world's top companies, something like Top tips to improve your email opens, in list or bullet form. And let the reader know the content will be focused, detailed and a quick, easy read.

Next is a good case study How a Franchiser Automated Its Marketing Support to Improve Efficiency, Profitability which talks about how Bay Area company Cartridge World worked with Saepio Technologies to create a centralized marketing resource center. Combining marketing automation, collateral development and asset management, it's made it much easier to create marketing materials, offers and content and while providing easy access to customizable templates, logos, and marketing collateral that complied with the company's branding standards.

Lastly from MarketingProfs in The Dark Side of Twitter: What Businesses Need to Know, as exciting as Twitter is as a new marketing platform there are pitfalls and challenges to be reminded of as you deploy a Twitter strategy for your business. Twitter can be a rapid catalyst for good news - and bad - about your business, products and services.

Rick Burnes of HubSpot's blog reports in Do You Use The Tools that 91% of B2B Buyer's Use on some Forrester research showing how social marketing has crossed the chasm of relevance and acceptance for B2B buyers. Social media is now mainstream in the B2B space.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Landing Pages & Forms

Much has been written about form design, i.e. the type, size and detail of the fields you use in your landing page forms. I could talk for hours on the topic (I'll spare you), but I will say that a landing page for an initial prospect touch I believe should be as simple as possible, with minimum data collection requirements to encourage the prospect to engage. Frequently I limit 1st touch landing pages to require only first name, last name and email address, with a 2nd email field to verify. That's it.

If I regard this first step as the beginning of a relationship w/the prospect and an ongoing value exchange (and I do), I realize the need to build trust, provide information and offers the prospect needs/wants and to gradually ask for more personal information as the relationship matures.

Take a look at this 1st touch form (company name blocked out - click image for detail)

13 required fields for a case study! Plus requiring the prospect's telephone number. Would you fill out that many fields the first time you come in contact with a new company? Would you provide your actual telephone number? I wouldn't. There's zero trust built up and they haven't earned that much data about me until I find out more about what they offer me. I'll bet their page abandonment metrics are off the charts.

Remember to view your engagement with a prospect as a value exchange, as a direct relationship between their needs and wants and your ability to satisfy those needs and wants. Understand the value of your offer and what you feel is the right amount of data to 'charge' the prospect (relative to where they are in the funnel) in order to download the asset. Understand who the prospect is and what they're seeking, map the value you'll provide to them as they go through the funnel and then relate that to asking for pieces of personal and buying data as you build up that relationship and gain their trust.


I've been surprised this week at the number of dead links, errors and missing landing pages that a number of co's have in their lead gen programs I've been reviewing. It underscores the importance of testing in a sandbox before your campaigns go live, to put all your assets through quality assurance. It's as critical as the actual campaign itself - if the target can't complete the call to action it doesn't matter how strong the offer is.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Content Is STILL King

In doing some research for a potential new client, I've come across a number of tech websites that have the same issue... that of organizing their content in a product-centric fashion vs a customer-centric fashion.

With today's post from Hubspot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog The One Content Question Marketer's Should Ask I'm reminded that many companies, especially the tech co's I came across in my line of work, utilize their websites as brochure-ware and mostly provide information from the company's POV. In addition to being unengaging, boring and a tough way in which to be credible and relevant, it does nothing to support your goal of being recognized as a domain expert, a solver of problems, an innovator in your field. Which in turn will do nothing to support the chances of your content getting passed virally and getting you discovered as a leading voice in your industry.

This becomes especially important if you're trying to evolve your marketing presence as more thought leadership and being an expert in your business discipline. Inbound marketing runs on providing knowledge, ideas and content that make people smarter and better able to do their jobs. Your content should be in a narrative that speaks directly to customer needs, that frames your message in ways that speak to saving money and time, creating efficiencies and business process improvements. Help prospects define and understand the business problems they face, recognize their needs, satisfy their needs and do it in a compelling way that makes them feel like you're talking directly to them.

If you want your content to be discovered as highly valued knowledge, it can't be blatant sales pitches. You'll have zero credibility.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The First Offer You Should Build

Today MarketingSherpa talks about demos as offers in their article Product Demo With Voluntary Registration Results in 23% Conversion Rate. It underscores the need to have campaign offers that are relevant and targeted, and deliver information in a compelling and efficient way. In my experience in B2B lead gen, there are few offers as well-received, and which produce as high a conversion, as effective demos. Especially on a digital platform, when done correctly demos can succinctly and visually serve information on the target's terms, when, where and how s/he wants.

Online demos provide an opportunity for your target to see and hear how your solutions meet their needs. For software products especially, this gives your prospect a chance to see exactly how your products work in their native environment.

[NOTE: It's important to state that usually product demos are more down-funnel offers, and are used as the prospect has been previously assured that you understand their needs and are now at the stage where they want specific details and proof points as to how your solution satisfies their needs.]

There are a slew of static and rich media platforms available to you that enable you to build and serve up your demo. They can range from simple PowerPoint and Adobe Flash to more sophisticated rich media platforms (co's like EyeView, Articulate and Accela have especially strong solutions that are adept at serving content and increasing conversions). It's safe to say that price rises with the sophistication and robustness of the solution you choose, as well as adoption, dissemination and conversions. Check them out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Obviously a critical part of demand gen success is the ability to isolate and target key influencers in the decision chain and tune your offers and messaging to each. I thought this article from ClickZ Online Advertising for B2B was relevant for you (my targets :^). Includes discussion about parameters available to you in Facebook, LinkedIn and speciality sites for B2B online advertising initiatives.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's Cool Links - Feb 16, 2009

Two stories of interest today, both around social media. MarketingSherpa has come out with a new 8 page intro/Exec Summary to their Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmarks, Best Practices and Tactics (this is a PDF that will download), some great data and findings on social media.

Katherine Derum of Hubspot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog asks Is Your Company Social Media Optimized?, looking into how social media can/should be optimizing your company business.

If you're not deploying at least some kind of social media strategy right now, you are missing out on a very low-expense, high margin way to drive more qualified leads into your nets. Targets who find your relevant content/thought leadership on their own are much more likely to engage with you, trust you and come to you for further information, to answer their questions and help solve their challenges.

Lead Gen in a Tough Economy

In doing research for my upcoming white paper, I've discovered a repeating trait of those companies that are successfully navigating these tough economic times. For one, they are shifting the majority of their marketing spend from brand-building, awareness-creation into demand and lead gen, where they are better able to make business cases for the investments that they are making. They're able to show tangible results for what they're spending. Today every dollar being spent is being scrutinized and questioned by the finance people, and CEOs/CFOs want to see an immediate and tangible impact on opportunities and revenue. Having a real ROI attached to your specific programs is paramount.

That being said, the existence of some sort of lead generation model, that includes processes and measurement, make it easier to replicate certain steps, create testing scenarios and ultimately see the effects of your marketing program dollars. These data-driven results are what you will be needing to validate your plan and help make your case for existing budget, and perhaps increased budget if in fact your programs are performing well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"We Interrupt This Message...'

Putting some more work into my lead gen white paper today, I'm reminded of the new state of the market as companies attempt to get their messages out and gain mindshare amongst targets and prospects. How is your company addressing the fact that more and more technologies are available to consumers to help them cut down the clutter and greatly reduce the traditional 'interruption-marketing' that has been going on for so long?

Brian Halligan, CEO & founder of HubSpot reminds us that as society becomes more and more inundated with interruption-messaging, technologies spring up that help us manage and cope with these unwanted messages. The prominence of tech's like Caller ID, Tivo, Sirius and spam filters all can be traced back to a market need to cut out the noise. As a result it's getting tougher to break through the clutter with outbound messaging tactics and new ways to reach targets need to be discovered. Companies like Brian's have blazed the trail of what they like to call inbound marketing, which gets your company found by prospects through the new channels and mediums by which people now do their research and due diligence - vehicles like blogs, social media, organic search, their own company website and the like. It's becoming increasingly critical to your overall lead gen strategy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today's Cool Links - Feb 11, 2009

Rick Burnes of HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog had a terrific interview today with BreakingPoint System's marketing execs Pam O'Neal and Kyle Flaherty. They both talked about the relevance of inbound marketing and how simple and effective their social media/inbound strategies have become. I speak to this in my upcoming white paper on lead gen tips in a recessionary economy and how quick and low-cost building out an inbound strategy really is. Especially critical in these times.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let It Flow

Much of what you'll see me write about frequently on this blog is what I call the Demand Gen Flow. Many direct marketers remember the adage of 'List, Offer, Creative' in the development and execution of direct marketing campaigns. Consider this an off-shoot of that. I usually boil down the entire flow of demand gen (and I'll use demand gen and lead gen interchangeably on this blog) as starting with a defined strategy or goal, the building of effective campaigns that result in satisfactory end actions and the development and enhancement of process standards and improvements that help create efficiencies, automate tasks, save money and speed program delivery time. Most of what I'll discuss will delve into the depths of these three areas. How does this model contrast or compare with how you build your lead gen programs? I'd love to know.

Today's Cool Links - Feb 10, 2009

Some great links today from several different sources:

On Kimberly Smith's article 'Four Steps to Marketing Smarter (and for Less) in Today's Economy' (may be available only for premium members; I highly recommend a premium membership btw) quoted Jonathan Salem Baskin, marketing strategist and author of Branding Only Works on Cattle, who stated "Think about shortening, or making more direct, the connection between marketing expenditure (or tactic) and some demonstrable behavior evidenced by the target customer or consumer." Today hard data and transactional marketing allows marketers to precisely determine what offers/messaging/cadence result in the most immediate and desirable end actions from your prospects.

On ClickZ Hollis Thomases wrote in Quantifying the Pass-Along Value of Online Advertising about a very cool company called Meteor Solutions, which has "developed a technology platform that allows media teams to connect the performance of paid media with the "organic lift" that occurs by word-of-mouth." Great way to measure the effectiveness of the viral benefits of online media.

And another terrific post from Pete Caputa on Hubspot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog Internet Marketers are from Mars. Traditional Marketers are from Venus on the differences between traditional and online marketers. I agree strongly with Pete about the greater emphasis on data, conversions and opportunity development versus brand building in a recessionary environment. Good stuff...

My New Blog on B2B Lead Generation

Hello all... today marks the first day of my new blog on B2b lead generation. I'm excited about sharing with you ideas, tips, strategies, secrets and cool things that I've learned or recently discovered about lead gen strategy, process improvements and campaign development. I hope to have frequent contributions and updates and do hope you'll stay in touch in the days, weeks and months to follow.