Monday, March 30, 2009

Inbound Marketing Summit - April 28-29 in San Francisco

Noticed today the upcoming Inbound Marketing Summit scheduled for April 28-29 in San Francisco. (There are two additional summits, one in Dallas May 27-28 and again in Boston Sep 30-Oct 1). I've been talking quite a bit about the importance of either adding to or transforming your marketing orientation from an outbound strategy (you finding prospects) to an inbound strategy (prospects finding you). This summit brings together a number of people who are advocates of inbound marketing (including a sharp PR guy I've worked with at McCann Tim Marklein of Weber Shandwick... full disclosure - Weber is an IPG company). Also noticed that tech marketing guru Seth Godin is scheduled to attend as well as Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media, who's an expert on technology matters and Web 2.0.

Should be some terrific topics discussed and I'm aiming to attend myself.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Content Value

I've spoken many times about the importance of establishing an inbound marketing presence (getting found by customers rather than you looking for customers) and the three linchpins of an inbound strategy (content creation, social media, SEO). This article today by Bryan Eisenberg on ClickZ 'The Value of Content Marketing' does a great job of recognizing and summarizing the types of content organizations should develop and how to go about creating content, determining what's valuable and prioritizing accordingly. Nice read...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Essential Elements of World-Class Lead Gen

I've been working on a new presentation that organizes what I see are the critical elements of lead generation and have outlined the four (4) primary areas I feel these elements should be derived from. I thought I'd share those areas and a high-level view of what they represent (future posts will go into detail on the elements themselves)...

Strategy Alignment is both the development and merger of all lead gen goals and strategies (e.g. market sizing, targeting, messaging, lead goals, pipeline goals, sales requirements) now working in concert and comprising a unified road map that provides direction and purpose to your campaigns while...

Process Improvements are the documented steps of identifying, capturing, scoring, nurturing, routing and tracking of leads in a tangible manner that can be improved, fine-tuned and repeated enabling...

Program Excellence, or the focus on the experimentation and testing of your program tactics that's needed to find out what really works which are further validated by...

Measurement and Optimization, which are the critical KPI's, metrics and analytics that let you measure your progress and optimize your results.

I feel that if your program elements and tactics are derived from these four areas there is a strong likelihood that you'll be covering many of the fundamental steps required for lead gen excellence.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Email is Still Relevant

Article today from Jeanne Jennings on ClickZ 'Why Email Matters More Than Ever' has some good points on why email is still relevant as a tactic/communication vehicle especially as marketing budgets are being cut and every tactic is under a microscope.

Jeanne talks about being strategic in your emailing (targeting, creating relevant messages), optimizing your tactical email elements (and testing those elements), insuring deliverability and list testing.

I might add that I feel any touch (email or other) that you make with a prospect should have a purpose and should always be designed with dual goals in mind - providing ongoing value/information to that person as they interact with you while moving her/him thru the funnel and better qualifying their needs. The latter goal is of course critical to your organization - converting them into an opportunity or learning that they will not be a future buyer (or influence the buying decision) of your products or solutions. In my eyes any tactic should have a distinct purpose of a true value exchange - give the target information that makes them smarter while further understanding/qualifying their needs to see if/how/when you can solve a business problem for them with your solutions.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today's Cool Links - Mar 19, 2009

Several great articles/posts the last two days...

On MarketingProfs (premium membership req), in How One Company's Content Marketing Improved Qualified Lead Generation, Boosted Revenue 38% Kimberly Smith talks about the importance of content to help fuel their lead generation programs and increase conversions and lead quality. Specifically she discusses vendor-neutral content as establishing the company as an unbiased thought leader and expert on a particular topic. Prospects gravitate to information that educates and informs them about business challenges/problems, and the trust that ensues supports a value-based relationship between the company and the prospect.

In A Direct Marketing Revolution Gary Stein on ClickZ discusses how the Status Update feature on Facebook can provide a terrific opportunity to send email-like updates on anything into your company's Facebook followers.

Terrific MarketingSherpa case study on lead nurturing at Optimize a Lead Nurturing Campaign: 5 Steps to Boost Conversions and Warm a Cold List ... finding the right combination of relevant content and messaging frequency to make your lead nurturing campaigns resonate.

And finally, also on ClickZ some great tips from Dave Evans on Where to Get a Social Media Education... check it out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Flash vs SEO

Julie Battan of ClickZ has an article today on the use of Flash on your web site. Many companies are conflicted about presenting their content in a compelling fashion the way Flash can, and how that affects their search engine optimization. Last year Google and Adobe announced a partnership to make Flash content more easily indexed, so perhaps some Flash content won't adversely affect your search rankings too severely. Julie does note in this piece however that that is not the case for those sites built entirely in Flash and this is not recommended for those companies seeking to increase their site SEO. Good read.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lead Gen Metrics That Matter

Nice post yesterday on Craig Rosenberg's Funnelholic blog, where he discusses what he feels are the key metrics to look at when judging campaign effectiveness. I don't think they're the exclusive metrics to measure (I don't think Craig feels that way either) but I agree they are important KPI's to monitor:
  • Lead-to-opportunity conversion: For every lead you create, how many turn into sales opportunities?
  • Cost per opportunity: Instead of CPL, calculate the lead-generation costs and divide by sales opportunities created. This should include lead development/ qualification costs and nurturing costs.
  • Total pipeline created: How much sales pipeline has been created by your leads?
He goes on to mention that CPL (Cost Per Lead) has become less relevant as a meaningful metric, because it doesn't tell you if the lead actually resulted in pipeline or revenue. You could have a very low CPL and be creating leads that mean absolutely nothing to your sales team.

As well, he makes a good point re: ROI. In the big picture the executive team wants to know which leads resulted in how much closed/booked revenue. But that does loop in sales performance into the measurement of marketing performance. If the marketing team delivers a BANT-scored, sales-ready, teed up lead, which ultimately is not closed due to sales dropping the ball, is it right to say that the marketing team has failed? Good point to ponder.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today's Cool Links - Mar 11, 2009

In the article Tips to Beat the Odds for Address-Book Addition on ClickZ today, Stefan Pollard talks about how to boost your chances for getting your emails past the spam filters and into the in-boxes of your intended targets. He cited some interesting data points including:
  • 53 percent of consumer e-mail recipients have added at least one permission-e-mail sender to their address books
  • On average, only 25 percent, or one in four companies, gets whitelisted
  • 75 percent said they unsubscribed due to message irrelevance, while 73 percent opted out because of high frequency
He states that keys to getting your emails whitelisted are:
  • Asking your front-line customer-service people what the number one issue your customers contact you about is and insure your messages reflect that
  • Insure that your landing page and e-mail opt-in process support your highest traffic-generating search terms. Someone who queries a search engine is actually asking a question. Does your landing page answer those questions or direct visitors to the answers?
  • Use survey data to improve relevance. Include quick polls or questions in your regular messages, or send standalone surveys, then store the responses in the respondent's profile. Use it to improve segmentation or to create dynamic content for future e-mail
  • Create messages triggered by page visits and time on site. This obviously is possible only with marketing automation and tracking s/ware, but the rich information provided when a prospect comes to your site is very valuable and insures highly relevant messages

Monday, March 9, 2009

Email Benchmarks

Epsilon (the marketing services firm) just released their Q3/2008 Email Trend Results (link to the report is in the press release) which provides some very good statistics and benchmarks on email performance. Their reports are usually chock full of excellent email data (and it's a quick read, 4 pages total). Some highlights:
  • Open rates seem to have remained consistent over the past year ranging between 19-21%.
  • Click rates rose 0.5% from last quarter.
  • Business Publishing/Media, Consumer Publishing/Media, Retail General and Travel Services saw an increase in all three major metrics – deliverability, opens and clicks – compared to last quarter. There were no industries that saw a decline in each of those same three metrics.
Good read, check it out...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Overthinking The Offer

I've been chatting recently with a few clients and prospective clients regarding offers for their marketing programs. Those who read this blog know I'm a HUGE believer in building a number of relevant, informative, high value offers that speak to each member of the decision chain as s/he progresses through the marketing funnel. The eye chart below is an example of a generic offer mapping tool I've created that helps scope offers through the AIDA model.

That being said, I also think it's important that you don't let an offer mapping exercise intimidate you and prevent you from starting the process with at least ONE solid, relevant offer. The best place to start is always at the beginning. Get that first offer built, worry less about it's appeal to a single target and more about something that speaks generally to the entire decision chain. This first offer is usually an awareness/top of the funnel asset, so it should be able to speak to both the upper and lower decision chain members - meaning it will be less specific and more general in nature. Once that first offer is built, then think about what the 2nd, 3rd, 4th offers should be, and create a strategy that begins to craft offers that are designed to speak directly to targets and accelerate individual prospects through the funnel.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Digital Body Language

Steve Woods, one of the co-founders of Eloqua the marketing automation company, has written an interesting book (and writes a great blog with Paul Teshima here), on what he terms digital body language. This idea is a very interesting examination of the concepts of self-paced information gathering, needs evaluation, lead qualification/scoring and profile development and suggests that there is a definite digital footprint a prospect creates that provides detailed data on a his/her buying intentions and motivations.

Rather than 'read the room' like in the old days, marketers and sales people now need to decode a person's digital body language to better understand their roles, their information needs and what they find relevant, what their buying process is like, where they are in the funnel and the cadence of how to best communicate with them. As more and more of the relationships between marketers and their targets move online, the value exchanges that take place create a rich profile of the target and this new body language provides critical data and hints as to how you can best anticipate and meet their needs.

Optimizing Your Web Site Links

HubSpot today talks about ways in which you can bring more attention to and optimize your web site links with the goal of increasing clicks on those links that are calls to action, driving people to your landing pages and ultimately improving your organic page ranks in search engines. Many of the tips are basic (use descriptive link text, make links bold/different color/underlined, keep CTA's above the fold, etc.) but are still good reminders of best practices.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Inbound Marketing Lessons

Another good interview today from HubSpots Internet Marketing Blog. They talk with Brad Blake, Director of Interactive Media for the State of Massachusetts, on how the governor's office is using the web and inbound strategies to communicate with constituents. Some really great points that help validate the power of inbound marketing, across all kinds of industries and organizations.

Monday, March 2, 2009

De-dupe Software for

Found a great s/ware (hat tip to Tim ;^) that can be used with that provides data de-duplification and management for your SFDC data. Very easy to use, not too klugey and reasonably priced. Company is called RingLead, click here for more info..