Deep Diving for Better B2B Results

6847212397_4c06c99f27_bThis week’s roundup of B2B marketing news reads like the tabloids: Myths Debunked, the Shocking Truth… Beyond gripping headlines, the really valuable takeaways are even more attention-grabbing: more internal research, data analysis and coordination among departments will yield better results on B2B marketing efforts—along email, website and CRM.

How can something so commonplace be so revolutionary?

First, let us not get complacent that our marketing efforts are easy because we are businesses engaging businesses. B2C marketing requires casting a large net, so more customers can buy. In B2B marketing, your customer base is smaller, more specific, and very knowledgeable about what they need. The temptation is we think we know our customers because we know our industry.

“The shocking truth is, however, that B2B marketing takes tons more research and thought. It needs to hit the right audience, or else you won’t make any money from marketing,” states Robert Cordray in “The Shocking Truth about B2B Marketing.” Cordray urges B2B marketers to have dedicated personnel perform their research to determine what strategies will work with different audiences. Research is essential to maintaining an up-to-date database and qualifying leads. Cordray urges hiring or designating individuals for the database and strategies, and a teleprospecting team to qualify leads. If these essential research functions are treated as an afterthought or auxiliary, sales will diminish. If they are at the forefront, they will yield better results.

And one of our common themes applies too; sales and marketing have to support each other to obtain feedback, deliver premium content and nurture leads to deliver the right message or action at the right time. In other words, stick to the tenets of lead generation and nurturing to be successful. Paul Houston provides a refresher in “10 Tips for a Successful Lead Generation Strategy.” Some of the highlights are:

  • Use correct data to target the right audience at the right time
  • Use measurable and traceable channels to track—via website, email, social media or direct marketing.
  • Create a grading structure and criteria so you can focus on a prospect with the right message.
  • Monitor your competition and structural changes among your own targeted customers.
  • Use social media to share content, build a following and engage in dialogue.
  • Use email correctly to send valuable offers, link to landing page and measure calls to action.

Along with the DIY theme (and isn’t all B2B marketing DIY on some level?), Sandy Gibson alerts B2B marketers in “How Big Data Can Enhance B2B Email Marketing” that our own customer data is often overlooked, yet invaluable to improving our content, products and services. Focusing on CRM data, email and website analytics, here are the key points:

  • CRM data. It is more effective to use CRM data for basic segmentation, determining who’s in the nurture cycle or an existing customer, who is interested in enterprise versus a single transaction, than sending a single email to everyone on your list.
  • Email analytics data. Identifying which content is most engaging and what calls to action were taken is more important than open and read rates.
  • Website analytics data. Reader’s paths help you determine which content is working and what actions are being pursued, which enables you to optimize as needed to move visitors toward conversion.

Combining all this data through your CRM will provide insight into behavior and patterns that will help you deliver “relevant and engaging experiences” and create a roadmap for your marketing and product teams.

“Email is not dead,” declares DM News and so many marketers before. Author Elyse Dupre debunks some common email marketing myths, i.e., volume and old school techniques are the way to go. Here are some of the positive points after the conventional wisdom is deconstructed:

  • Email is still vibrant, with 88 billion consumer emails projected by 2016
  • Separate the opt-in subscribers who want to receive frequent email from those who merely supplied an email for a single interaction.
  • Automatic personalization now replaces “batch-and-blast, to segmentation, to personalization” old order because you can now determine more directly what the customer wants by analyzing the data on your site and emails.
  • Mailing to smaller, segmented lists yields better results.
  • Data, technology and behavioral targeting create more effective messaging than big lists, too-creative content and untested subject lines.

In any business, it is so important to establish trust, and then retain it. Since B2B marketers have a smaller pool of potential customers, it is essential they incorporate research, personalization, customized actions, quality content and integrated marketing efforts that are informed by data and analytics to attract relevant, targeted leads.

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Nurturing Leads with Strategic Targeting

We frequently discuss the importance of nurturing leads through the buying process. One method of doing so is retargeting. Retargeting often gets treated as a separate sales initiative to get more leads; however, we see it as part of the overall marketing strategy. We were pleased to see Luke Summerfield’s article, “A Powerful Cocktail: Mixing Retargeting with Content Marketing” because it makes a stronger point: that content marketing should be a part of retargeting, in particular for B2B marketing.

Summerfield suggests a set of tactics to drive leads back through the funnel:

  1. Develop a hyper-targeted blog post geared for your potential customers at the top or middle of the funnel. (Use LinkedIn or Quora to vet topics even.)
  2. Create two mini-content offers from the initial blog topic, with extra value. One will be served to those who performed an action via the blog; the other will be used in a retargeting campaign.
  3. Soft-launch your blog through your network. Incorporate their responses to improve the blog and calls to actions.
  4. Develop a highly targeted paid promotion mix of display and social ads to drive traffic. This gives you possible conversion on mini offer as well as customer data pixels for retargeting efforts.
  5. Retargeting time! Create a list from those who read the blog but don’t act on the offer and then approach them with the mini offers, splitting the offers with the list so you can test each half with your message.

You will be able to drive more people to your content, including existing blogs that are performing well, using these tactics.

ClickZ also reported on the 2015 “B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” survey, conducted by the North American Content Marketing Institute, claiming 86 percent of B2B marketers are now incorporating content marketing, but only 35 percent of those who do track their ROI. In addition to other social media to get the word out, B2B content marketers are using:

  • LinkedIn – 94 percent
  • Twitter – 88 percent
  • Facebook – 84 percent
  • YouTube – 48 percent
  • SlideShare – 42 percent

Paid advertising on search engines is still a factor. Content marketing accounts for 28 percent of the budget for most B2B marketers too.

Just like retargeting is not always considered a part of the content marketing strategy, sometimes email marketing works separately too. Email marketing is the first message you send potential customers, however, so your content should be aligned with your overall messaging strategy. Zach Heller gives us some pointers in “How to Tell If Your Email Is Working” to keep email campaigns vibrant.

  • Track open rates.
  • Track click-through rates.
  • Track email back to sales.

Now the first two are basics, and using unique open or click-through data will help determine the real amount of people you’re reaching. Add some finesse by testing subject lines (also a part of content strategy!) and the various places to click on an email…and you get a pretty tight strategy. But, how do you track sales to your email campaigns? You have to track actions, such as sign ups, referrals, and offers, which means you have to customize your emails beyond the standard service to get that extra information.

Image via Hans Splinter

Content Marketing Strategy and the Importance of Peer Review

Although I’m always promoting the value of high quality content marketing to B2B marketers, I acknowledge Carter Hostelley’s great point in a recent byline to make sure to get a few peer recommendations to promote your services. Particularly among B2B, “buyers trust the recommendations of peers more than what we marketers say in our blog posts, white papers, webinars, status updates or tweets. Sorry, but it’s true.” So, who are the best advocates for your brand? Reach out to your customers, your employees, your peers, influencers and prospects. The foremost tip on how to generate recommendations: make it easy. Make it easy—for your “ecosphere” of partners, clients, and investors—to share your branded content or their favorable opinion of your business, add a testimonial, and participate in company events.

Tracking ROI is a challenge for content marketers, but those with a documented strategy say they track ROI successfully (35 percent with strategy compared to 21 percent without one). More B2B marketers are creating more content (70 percent), with LinkedIn being the top social media platform (63 percent) among B2B marketers.

Speaking of strategy, Ruth P. Stevens, also reporting in, suggests some ways to most effectively use content marketing as part of the overall B2B marketing strategy. The “Four Pillars of B2B Content Marketing” that strengthen your business’s position while generating and cultivating leads are:

  • thought leadership—not only builds awareness, but “kickstarts” the business relationship by introducing CEOs and executives
  • lead generation offers—irresistible content and research that solves business buyers’ problems and captures the prospect’s data seamlessly
  • search engine rankings—useful content educates and informs potential customers and bolsters organic search results
  • lead nurturing touches—“can quadruple sales” by communicating with valuable, “non-salesy” messaging to existing prospects, rather than wasting efforts churning up new leads

Sales and marketing have to coordinate their efforts and messaging throughout the buying process for the most effective lead nurturing campaigns. Here are “7 Ways Content Marketing Can Simplify Your Customer’s Buying Process.” Author Angela Vuona breaks down the timing of when to deliver the “right content at the right time” by aligning the stages of content marketing with the customer buying process of attract, convert, close and delight, with her tips:

  • Attract: through keywords and educational blogging
  • Convert: through calls-to-action (CTA) and landing pages
  • Close: through lead nurturing emails
  • Delight: after leads become customers, continue to provide useful, relevant content by delivering smart calls-to-action that offers something new or addresses their interests. Use social media to continue to engage customers, provide customer service, and gather endorsements and shares among target audience.

Let’s finish with some more good news from AdAge, and the title says it all: “86% of B2B Marketers Now Use Content Marketing: Only 35% of Marketers Have a Documented Content Strategy.” Citing the “2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” survey of more than 1,800 North American B2B marketers, author Kate Maddox advocates for documented content-management strategy to yield more effectiveness. 60 percent of B2B marketers with a documented content marketing strategy rate themselves highly in effectiveness; 32 percent with a verbal content strategy rate themselves highly.

Peer reviews and endorsements are vital to continued lead nurturing and effective (documented!) content marketing strategy.

Image via hobvias sudoneighm 

Tech Marketing Budgets Turn Up: Qualifying Leads with Predictive Scoring

6355220839_982b1263d5_bGood news! Tech marketing budgets should increase 3.5 percent this year, over last per Ad Age. According to the International Data Corp.’s  “Tech Marketing Benchmark Study” released in September:

“This is the first time in eight years—since before the recession—that we have seen marketing budgets rising at the same rate of increase as marketing revenue,” said Rich Vancil, group VP-executive advisory group at IDC.

Noting that revenue growth follows marketing budget growth, third-platform companies that provide cloud, mobility, social business and analytics will experience a 10 to 20 percent growth in marketing budget. Many of the second-platform (client-server and Internet) IT companies surveyed by IDC will see modest budget growth between 2 and 5 percent. Along with projections on how the increased marketing dollars will be spent, the report urges CMOs to be agile in adapting to social and digital technology.

In related good news, VentureBeat reports that a greater number of smaller companies, especially high-tech companies, are using predictive scoring to better qualify their leads. Citing a report from SiriusDecisions, “83 percent of predictive lead-scoring product users are companies with annual revenue of less than $250 million.”

Jill Stanek, one of the authors of the report, notes that adoption in B2B companies is high, 78 percent, because “One of the primary target audiences for predictive lead scoring vendors are organizations that already have marketing automation in place.”

Contrasting predictive scoring against older, points-based attribution systems, the benefits are a comprehensive view of how the B2B customer is interacting with your whole suite of marketing efforts. Predictive scoring encompasses:

  • inclusion of contact profile and behavioral information from customer-relationship management (CRM) and marketing-automation solutions
  • analysis and insight from internal data and third-party sources, including the Internet
  • a focus on the relationship between the customer behavior and the outcome

The benefits are increased sales efficiency, better marketing effectiveness through coordinated sales and marketing efforts and higher-quality leads.

But wait, there’s more. Your B2B company has a bigger marketing budget, a better way to score leads… and yet, we always come back to content in our weekly roundup because it is so vital for determining intent.

How can you tell if your content is ready to be served and digested by the very target audience of prospective customers you are nurturing? We offer two perspectives.

Chris Bucholtz reminds us in CMSwire that in the B2B customer experience, the potential customer does a lot of research before contacting the selling company. The best way to serve that customer initially is with strong, informative content that explains your products. Urging a comprehensive content plan, Bucholtz suggests starting with general product information and drilling down to specifics, by breaking up white paper content into easily digestible, related customer paths in a strategic, integrated way.  Work with sales to find out what customers want to know and make sure to cover the basics. Focus on providing information rather than self-promotion. By respecting and informing the research phase for the potential customer, you are more likely to convert and retain them.

Where does your company’s content fall on the marketing maturity level?

In a recent business2community post, author Eric Murphy examines the categories of Chad Pollitt’s The Content Promotion Manifesto: Analog, Testing & Scarcity, Coordinating, Promotion & Distribution Logistics, Scaling & Optimization and Corporate Publishing House.

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We’re Opening Up for NewCo 2014!


The Premier Data Provider Joins 100 Companies Showcasing Innovative Products

Madison Logic, the premier provider of intent data solutions for B2B marketers and publishers, will host executives, entrepreneurs, investors, and future influencers during the second annual NewCo NY. Joining an exclusive list of companies, Madison Logic will open its doors Wednesday, October 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET at the company’s Gramercy office.

Mark Herschberg, CTO, and Robert Armstrong, VP Product, will host a session discussing the steps they take in developing products that drive global innovation for digital marketers.

“By engaging with businesses in their own environments, attendees will gain valuable insight into what helps move the innovation needle through transparent communication,” Herschberg said. “As a growing tech startup, we are really pleased to be participating in NewCo and sharing think-time with our peers.”

“We are very excited to be participating in NewCo,” Armstrong added. “So much can be gained by bringing innovators together and listening to each other, and we are thrilled to be among a select number of companies that NewCo NY is highlighting as part of its second annual event. The more insight we can share with each other as innovators will only benefit our progress as an industry, and I look forward to being part of this discussion.”

Now in its second year, NewCo brings the New York City tech community together to get an inside view on what drives innovation through a personal experience. Madison Logic is among an exclusive number of companies invited by NewCo to open its doors for the event. Interested parties can register online through the NewCo site. Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged.

B2B Shifts to Mobile, Better Data Automation

Mobile technology is becoming the primary business platform; with 40 percent of U.S. executives saying their mobile device is the primary business platform (Forrester, cited in Per Forrester Research, mobile services sold to businesses are expected to rise from $11.4 billion this year to $32.4 billion in 2018, illustrating a major source of growth that needs to be addressed by the industry. B2B marketers are increasingly dependent on evolving mobile-engagement services, such as analytics, experience, and back-end upgrades. Mobile-device management and mobile-app development are also in greater demand.

As more people rely on their mobile devices to be ever available and respond to all work issues, Kate Maddox reports in that B2B marketers need to shift their strategies to reach mobile workers by:

  • Forming new partnerships
  • Changing marketing messaging
  • Restructuring their organizations

Strange bedfellows like Apple and IBM are developing mobile business apps together. Business software provider SAP is marketing directly to the consumer, because the consumer is a power-user business professional. Mobile is no longer considered a silo, but an integral building block of B2B strategy and services.

After improving mobile services, B2B marketers can turn their attention toward automation. Madison Logic advocates marketing automation, demonstrating intent in B2B interactions and providing the tools for marketers, agencies and publishers. So, we note Darian Shirazi’s suggestions in that marketers use automation of Big Data to measure success “based on the dollar value of pipeline they’re able to generate.” Rather than lead volume, dollar value refers to qualified leads that close, requiring coordination between marketing efforts and sales team to measure results.

“Ten years ago, lead volume was the only reasonable metric available to measure marketing success. Today, marketers have access to new data sources, superior analytics and better integrations that allow them to generate high value pipelines,” says Shirazi, arguing that the value in big data is in assessing the relationships between the data, not just the amount and demographics. Internal and external data needs to be qualified, combined and analyzed for more effective B2B marketing results.

B2B Marketers need to invest in the technology and allocate their marketing resources to better automation and the relationship among the data collected as well as the shift to mobile. The AdAge article states some of the obstacles for B2B adoption of mobile marketing are the perceived “lack of ROI, lack of expertise and lack of bandwidth.” (which can also be applied to automation).

One way to combat these roadblocks is for companies to use their existing assets by having in-house marketers create content that is aligned with the business goals of the company, suggests Allison Enright in Internet Retailer. Citing a Forrester Research brief, Enright states when 25 percent or more of the marketing staff is involved in content creation, “consistent, optimized” messaging achieves “specific business goals, such as customer acquisition, retention and revenue growth.” Marketers should recruit subject matter experts within their company for technical expertise and insightful content creation, as well as involve customers in generating content and determining which content is valuable.

Mobile devices are no longer the bailiwick of B2C marketers. B2B marketers have to find ways to reach their decision makers by offering more mobile services, better qualifying leads and using existing marketing resources.

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Content Marketing: It’s a Two-Way Street

content marketingContent marketing helps B2B marketers determine intent and reach the decision makers. If someone is reading your articles, downloading PDF’s and getting educated about your product, they are a good lead. Serving more content to them will help inform them and guide their decision during the buying process. Ignoring their quest for product and services information will alienate them. Similarly, using traditional content syndication further turns prospects away because the important information gets blocked by filters and is treated as junk; and there is no room for a dialogue.

In a recent SearchEngineLand article, Nate Dame points out the mistakes content marketers make when relying too heavily on traditional SEO strategy. Endorsing a more dynamic, two-way use of content marketing, Mr. Dame suggests:

  • Open up the content to search engines.

Sure you want leads and for customers to download your latest thought leadership pdf, but if you hide content behind forms and permissions, it has very little search value. Create an effective search and keyword strategy to lead people to your exclusive information.

  • Use content marketing around your content.

Get every drop of value out of your content. The more you share, the more consumers will tell you what they want to learn. “User intent is a potential gold mine for content marketers,” says Mr. Dame.

If you are promoting a PDF or e-book, create some searchable content with effective keyword strategy around it to promote it. Generate buzz with anticipatory blog posts, leak some of your takeaway information in graphs or easily digested nuggets that can be tweeted. Break down bigger documents into searchable blogs, posts or teasers that motivate readers to request more. Direct B2B customers to webinars, tutorials and YouTube videos that discuss features or share insight from conferences. Set the stage for long tail interest by reminding consumers of the content and market reception after the launch of your featured content.

Make content marketing part of your brand narrative and people will respond, which will inform you of their goals. These activities will generate online activity, which of course will boost your SEO profile and Google rankings.

Another key point is to make sure B2B marketers open up inbound traffic routes by combining their goals of driving downloads, acquiring new leads and social media shares, attracting SEO traffic and informing potential customers.

In a recent Hubspot State of Inbound 2014 report, discussed in a Business2Community article, one of the takeaways was that “Inbound is becoming the primary source for lead generation.”

In a survey of B2B, B2C and nonprofits marketers, all pointed to the value of using inbound marketing, estimating its value at generating 45 percent of their leads. They estimated that all of their outbound marketing efforts combined accounted for less than 42 percent of leads. Sales calls, list buying and tradeshows just don’t have the same effectiveness as inbound marketing, which they define as “creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and content.”

B2B customers have gone through “60 percent of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales.” The role of content marketing is critical to informing and engaging prospective customers. Blogs are cited as a “powerhouse of inbound, generating more ROI than any other single inbound activity or tactic.” We support anything that determines customer intent along the buying process.

Use your blog to promote your privileged content, get feedback on consumer intent by the actions people take on your website, or how they respond to your shared content, and your company will see results from a more effective content marketing strategy.

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B2B Marketers: Happy Customers & Using Video for Lead Gen

Happy customers are good for business. Although we as B2B marketers know this at the very core of our being, we sometimes get distracted by the latest innovation, and stray from our constant pursuit—customer satisfaction. A recent Direct Marketing News blog post cites some practical tips from CRM provider Insightly’s Lynn Tsoflias to keep customers happy, yielding a better bottom line.

  • Serve the customer. When customers’ needs are met, your business will prosper. B2B marketers who focus on their customers’ revenue and projects will see the benefits for their own companies.
  • Make your first impression count. Use an offer or free trial to introduce your service or product to the customer, then be prepared to support it by educating customers on how the products will benefit them.
  • Simplify the message and the process. Treat B2B customers as consumers, give them a simple product that’s easy to use. Small businesses need to demonstrate the advantages of their product with clear, easy messaging that offers a solution to a time, labor or money issue.
  • Offer customers value before asking for information. Pay attention to their needs and comments. Use critical feedback as an opportunity to improve your relationship with customers. Listen when they complain. When you improve your service or product based on customer feedback, make sure to let the client know they were heard.
  • Understand the different ways customers learn and then create the most compelling media to reach them. Train effectively, with media in a few formats that considers different ways people learn.

Consider all formats when communicating with your customer. B2B efforts should include white papers, email campaigns, videos, webinars and all other efforts to reach customers as consumers.

Consider adding video to support lead generation, sales and marketing efforts. Video is easy to consume, yet can serve greater purposes of demonstrating a product, showcasing your executives at conferences, or giving a tutorial. And from a B2B perspective, its use is on the rise, with 63% of B2B marketers using it on internal and external sites, according to the “Video Content Metrics Benchmark Report, as cited by KOMarketing Associates here. Approximately 70 percent of the profitable B2B organizations surveyed said more of their customers are watching their videos. Video engagement data helps determine lead quality; and video surpasses other content in producing conversions.  Customers are watching videos on company sites and through other channels like YouTube and Google. More B2B companies are producing more videos to reach them, estimated at 27 per year per the study.

It’s worth a refresher for all of us to remember that when our customers are happy and succeed, our company will succeed too.  Using video and other tools that support their goals, B2B companies can continue to keep the customer satisfied.

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