Demand Generation and Lead Management Explained

December 20, 2011

Last week Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of the Annuitas Group, shared on the Software Advice bloga nice video explaining two basic concepts that are often used interchangeably by vendors and even analysts in the Marketing Automation space but should in fact be treated as separate concepts: Demand Generation and Lead Management.

Demand Generation vs. Lead Management

According to Carlos, Demand Generation has two goals:

  1. Filling the funnel
  2. Engaging with prospect throughout the funnel

And Lead management is the process used to ensure there is a link between marketing and sales to prevent leads leaking out, falling out of the funnel.

How About Marketing Automation?

On a second video, Carlos then explains that Marketing Automation will not be the only solution for your demand genreation and lead management, but it can support both processes. It is the technology behind your demand / lead processes.

Marketing Automation basically enables your content to reach your buyer at the right time in the buying cycle.

Nice job, Carlos!

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Inbound Marketing Analytics 101

December 14, 2011

HubSpot does it again, taking content that is not necessarily new or revolutionary and putting it in a nicely formatted eBook that makes reading it a pleasure.

With “An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics“, you get an overview of what to measure and why. Especially useful for small companies and those who are just starting out with their marketing programs and need some help identifying key metrics, the eBook is packed with good advice.

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Analytics eBook

Inbound Marketing Analytics Overview

In the eBook you will see metrics for the following marketing tactics:

  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Lead Nurturing & Marketing Automation
  • Your Website & Landing Pages
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Paid Search
  • Business Blogging

The benefits of analyzing your marketing performance according to HubSpot are:

1. Identify what’s working.
2. Identify what’s not working.
3. Identify ways to improve.
4. Implement more of the tactics that work to improve marketing performance

Agreed!

Get your free copy of the “An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics” eBook.

Introduction to Marketing Analytics eBook


How Great Content Can Solve Problems

August 18, 2011

This is the third post in a series of “Principles of Great Content Marketing”. The first post talked about creating simple content, and the second post discussed timely content.

The Principles of Great Content Marketing series is based on three core ideas:

  1. Create simple content
  2. Create content that is timely
  3. Create content that solves a problem

The Problem with Content

Content abounds, and no matter what we call it (Whitepapers, eBooks, Videos, Infographics, etc.) we have been getting more and more of it every single day. Via email, via Twitter, Facebook, and word-of-mouth. The problem? Most of the content is not looked at. Or, if it is, is not shared.

Content that isn’t shared usually die without having made an impact.

Useful content will be shared. Even if only internally in your company. Even if only when you call a friend and say “hey, check this out!” and even if only mentioned during lunch with friends when you say “oh, and I just read this interesting article that talks about…”.

Getting Read and Getting Shared

Besides being simple and timely, great content has a third element. It is focused on solving a problem. But not just any problem, YOUR problem.

You see, even if you come across something amusing and decide to pass that on it doesn’t mean you will actually take any action because of it. Entertaining videos are just that, entertaining. Funny quotes are also just that and nothing else. But content that speaks to a problem you are having right now is golden.

If you are struggling with creating your own WordPress website, for example, and there comes a content piece that addresses your current issue (“How to get your WordPress site up and running in 5 easy steps” kind of content, for example) you will drop what you are doing and check it out. If it’s good you will even forward it to a couple people that you know are also dealing with the same issue or maybe send a Tweet about it.

If you had gotten content related to your issue but that doesn’t solve it (“Why use WordPress for your website” for example), it won’t get shared, commented, and more importantly, acted on.

The Content Solution

How do create content with the “problem – solution” in mind? You’ve got to know your audience. Draw buyer personas. Talk to sales and ask them about the prospects they engage. Discuss the typical questions tech support gets during lunch with the tech support manager. Ask around your company, but more importantly, ask outside what are the challenges facing the industry you serve.

Make a list of 5 to 10 items. Then, break those down into small problem statements. You don’t want to have to address something like “world-wide retail operations are low margin, companies are struggling to make a profit” because is too generic and too daunting. Go down a few levels until you have something more tangible, like “apparel retailers are pressured by increasing labor costs in China”. Then, look for what could be a solution to this problem (I’m assuming you sell products or services to retailers) and create content addressing the issue (maybe “5 ways to squeeze more cash out of your sales” or “The new retail mindset and five steps to improve your margins today” for example).

Regardless of the topic, you have to ensure you are addressing a need that your target market has. And, the need could range from basic (“Trends and opportunities in apparel retail”), to more advanced (“How new inventory solutions are transforming the apparel retail industry”), all depending upon your target’s knowledge of the issue and their stage in the buying cycle.

As mentioned in the previous post about timely content, Marketing Automation is a great way to get the right content out to the right person, but you still have to think through all the stages and understand the different needs. It goes back to understanding your market.

Principles of Great Content

In conclusion, you can spend a lot of time creating content in different formats and for different buying stages. What will set your content apart (because you can bet your competitors are also creating as much content as you are) are the three key components:

  • Simple content
  • Timely content
  • Problem-solving content

Keep these three elements in mind when crafting your messages and you will be on the right path to creating great content.


Why Timely Content Always Wins

August 16, 2011

This is the second post in a series of “Principles of Great Content Marketing”. The first post talked about creating simple content.

So just to recap, there are three key principles for creating great content:

  1. Is it simple?
  2. Is it timely?
  3. Will it solve a problem?

Simple content was explained earlier and is a sure way to create engaging and direct content. But, even simple great content can’t win you over unless it is timely.

If you don’t need it, you won’t look at it. It’s that simple.

What is Timely Content?

There are three different perspectives to consider:

  • Content that is a hot topic
  • Content that meets your needs
  • Content that creates urgency

The first perspective deals with the hot issues at the moment. Maybe your industry is going through additional regulations or new certifications are being required. Or maybe there’s this new methodology everyone is talking about. The hot topic is not necessarily something you actually need to do right now, but is top of mind, it will get looked at because is part of the trend.

Content that meets your needs is not necessarily about the hype, like the previous perspective, but rather something related to a mandate or a need. If you were told by your boss that you have to close down one of your locations and you come across a Whitepaper that talks about how to calculate which plant to shut down you will be interested in checking it out. Or, you have to start outsourcing the IT function overseas and a webinar invitation for a “how to outsource IT and not regret it later” just came to your inbox so you decide to register.

Finally, the urgency perspective is also related to creating timely content, but content that has an expiration date attached to it. Promotions that will only run for the next 5 days or those offers that gives incentives to you to act now (or be the first, or among the 10 first) before it’s too late.

Timely Content Perspectives

Being urgent or a hot topic doesn’t help much though, unless the content meets the needs of the reader. Content that answers a need will always win. The best content is one that combines the three perspectives to create something that meets the prospect’s current needs, is a hot topic, and creates a sense of urgency. That’s the best timely content you can create.

Timely content needs to evoke the following reaction from the reader: “I’ve gotta check this out now”. And there is either a download, registration, or whatever the call to action is. That’s how you know you nailed it.

Crafting Content for the Right time

Sending content at the right moment (when there’s a need) is tricky. How do you get to send content to a person who is at the right moment to receive it? That’s one of the big promises of Marketing Automation software, of automating the sending of the right content to the right prospect at the right moment in time.

Easier said than done? You bet. That’s because someone has to actually think through what “right moment” really means and also has to understand what clues will tell the software that the right moment approaches.

Regardless of whether you automate or not, one thing is certain. Timely content can only be created if you intimately know your audience. You’ve got to know what their daily activities are, what their challenges are, and what their hopes are as well. It means talking to customers and prospects, getting out of the building, and learning about the industry you are selling to.

Want some shortcuts? We’ll approach them in the next segment, when we talk about creating content that solves problems.


Content Marketing eBook and Infographics

June 23, 2011

A Content Marketing eBook

Content Marketing is all the rave, that’s part of what drove me to do some research on the history of content marketing and publish this free eBook, A Brief History of Content Marketing. I was curious to see how marketers of the past have used content marketing strategies to attract and engage customers before the Internet Age.

The result was a fun project, and many findings. Who would have thought giving away free recipe books could save a company? Or that Microsoft (of all companies) was the first of Fortune 500 corporations to have a corporate blog?

Download the eBook and let me know what you think.

Brief History Content Marketing eBook

The Rise of Marketing Infographics

Also interesting to me was the amount of Infographics, especially ones related to marketing, that I came across during my research and that have been released just now. Here are some great Content Marketing Infographics you may enjoy.

Content Marketing versus traditional marketing

Content Marketing Grid

The problem with content marketing infographic

The Rise of Content Marketing Infographic

Appetite for Content Infographic

Content Marketing Grid Infographic

 Did I miss a great Content Marketing Infographic? Let me know!


A Tough Road for Marketing Automation

June 20, 2011

Marketing Automation is a hot topic. News about multi-million dollar investments in the space has sparked not only interest from marketers but a multitude of competitors crowding an already jammed market. Is like driving down the highway only to see the traffic stopping right after you take the next curve. As the traffic is slowly moves, some cars faster than others, many drivers start wondering if they should take the next exit.

What’s Ahead for Marketing Automation Vendors

Continue reading my thoughts on what’s ahead for marketing automation vendors on a recently published article at the Marketing Automation Times website.


Email Adoption High But Lacking Best Practices

June 14, 2011

Email Marketing MailboxA Forrester Research “How US Maketers Use Email” Report sheds some light into the use of email by B2B and B2C companies. Author Sarah Glass states:

Email is the most mature and most widely used interactive marketing tool

According to the report, adoption of email marketing is high, with 88% of  B2C companies already using email and 10% planning to use before December 2011. In the B2B space, adoption at 71% is also very high but different from their B2C counterparts, 16% of B2B companies don’t plan on using it within the next 12 months.

Best Practices in Email Marketing

Maybe a surprising finding from the research is that despite high adoption, marketers at B2C and B2B companies still don’t use best email marketing practices such as cleaning the database, letting users select what products and services they want information about, and running welcome routines for newly registered users.

Despite email’s prevalent use, interactive marketers still don’t do all they can to get the full value out of their email efforts – Sarah Glass, Forrester Research

Marketing Budgets and Email Effectiveness

The report says email budgets will stay flat in 2011, but 43% of email marketers expect email effectiveness to increase over the next three years. Other channels are also expected to gain in terms of effectiveness, such as:

  • Social Media (blogs, podcasts, widgets, discussion forums)
  • Mobile (ads, applications, MMS, SMS)
  • Online Video

Getting More Out of Email

The report concludes with some advice for email marketers to get more out of their programs, suggesting them to:

  1. Invest in Analytics
  2. Clean Email Data
  3. Prioritize Relevance Over Rich Media
  4. Detect Devices Used to Access Email
  5. Embed Social Media Into Email Content

Download the Report

The Forrester Research Report can be downloaded for free thanks to Neolane.


When Leads Go Cold

June 9, 2011

Rusty Funnel by TMWeddle @ FlickrIt seems with all the systems we have today to generate, score, and nurture leads, it all comes down to sales. The amount of time it takes for a sales person to follow up with a lead can determine whether the deal is closed or not. At least, that’s what the recent HBR article “The Short Life of Online Sales Leads” states, saying that 24% of companies take more than 24 hours to respond to a lead, and 23% of companies never responded at all.

According to their research, the average response time, among companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.

These results are especially shocking given how quickly online leads go cold – HBR

The article doesn’t go into much detail about whether the leads being followed up had been nurtured by a Marketing Automation system, or even a break down of industries but it does point a good possible flaw in the sales process of most companies.

What good is implementing a complex nurturing system if when the marketing qualified lead is sent to sales, the rep doesn’t follow up? Plugging this hole in the funnel takes more than software.


Marketing Automation is More Than Technology

June 1, 2011

A new research study by Sirius Decisions, “Calculating the Return on Marketing Automation“, sponsored by Marketo talks about the different levels of companies implementing marketing automation platforms (or MAP, as they call it).

“Companies using technology alone to solve their demand creation issues may actually experience negative return where it matters most”

The report breaks down companies into three segments:

  1. No Marketing Automation, and no processes
  2. Marketing Automation and wither no or weak processes
  3. Marketing Automation with average processes

Although talking about processes is not new, what I liked is that instead of just stating the obvious (no process won’t make the technology work) they try to quantify and answer the more important question of How much does a well defined process really contribute towards your overall marketing automation efforts?

Increasing Response Rates

From the report, it seems the key critical element that is impacted the most by marketing technology when it comes to automating campaign response, nurturing, and scoring your leads is the increase in response rates.

The best way to think about it is to imagine the traditional funnel. As you move from one stage to the next (inquiries, leads, qualified leads, etc.) there are only two ways to impact the outcome, either you get more inquiries or you increase the number going from one stage to the next.

According to Sirius, Marketing Automation technology paired with good processes can yield 4x to 5x the number of closed deals. The magic relies on the higher conversion rates throughout the sales cycle. Is not about getting more leads or more inquiries, is about getting the right ones and improving the odds of closing a deal at each stage.

It’s About Content and Processes

But how are processes helping make sure the system works? Here’s the intersting part, because anyone can implement technology to automate what goes out to customers and prospects. The pairing of processes means more than ensuring emails go out when they should, it takes care of ensuring the right message is sent to the right person at the right time.

And when the process includes both sales and marketing working together on definitions, on content strategy, and qualification criteria companies see higher response rates overall. As the report states:

With a handoff process in place, sales now accepts and processes more than 58percent of MQLs; the higher quality of these leads in turn yield a third conversion rate of roughly 49 percent to opportunity, and an increased close rate of a bit more than 23 percent.

Adding technology without processes may make you feel better at first, but will only serve to highlight the problems you always had. The key is to rethink your approach and use technology to leverage your processes, not the other way around.


The Rise of the Content Marketer

May 9, 2011

Content Needs a King in Marketing

Content Needs a King

I know I don’t have to argue the value of content to readers of this blog. If you are even remotely interested in marketing it is clear that the more the web has transformed the way we promote our products, the more firmly ‘content’ has planted itself as the center of our lives.

Besides the rise of social media as marketing channel, the emergence of marketing technology, more specifically Marketing Automation systems, in which you can configure the automated distribution of content to customers and prospects has been changing the way marketers see and create conent.

The power of marketing automation is the ability to target your marketing database with specific content based on their behavior and stage in the purchasing process. According to a recent report from Forrester Research titled “B2B Marketers Must Better Prepare for Marketing Automation” (get it from Marketo for free), marketers have to really focus their efforts on content creation if they are to succeed:

“If they only push this type of content out in campaigns, they push their audiences away, since business buyers have a low tolerance for commercial messages. When companies start to tailor content to different audiences and stages of the buying cycle, they greatly increase the amount of content, and the type of content needed changes”

Marketing Roles Are Evolving

Marketing used to have clearly defined roles. Marketing Directors and Managers on top, Marketing Coordinators, Marketing Specialists in the middle, followed by Copywriters, Designers, Web Masters, and more at the bottom. Add a few other roles such as events coordinator and more recently email marketing specialist and maybe even something related to social media and you have the hierarchical organization of 90% of marketing departments today.

With the change and addition of new marketing channels, marketers now see themselves more as content creators than anything else. Twitter feeds need updating, Facebook pages need commenting, blog posts need editing, and YouTube videos have to be tagged. All of this new material requires some form of marketing organization, or better yet, organization and support from the marketing team.

What used to be clear roles (i.e. the copywriter writes copy for the ad while the designer makes the ad look pretty), is now morphing into a free for all. Interns are ‘liking’ pages on facebook while the events coordinator is Tweeting about the trade show giveaway at their booth. Sales reps are sharing webinar recordings with prospects, the CEO is blogging his latest thoughts on the industry, the human resources manager is updating the company’s LinkedIn page.

Does it sound familiar? And scary? Yup!

A new role is starting to take shape. I first heard a term I think will become norm at the last Power of eMarketing Conference in San Francisco, during a panel discussion in which Chris Baggott, Compendium’s CEO, talked about the “Content Coordinator“.

The Content Coordinator

The Content Coordinator is basically the person on your marketing team responsible for coordinating content creation and distribution. Note that this person is not necessarily responsbile for creating the content per se, and in fact some will argue that content creation and copywriting are the same, but rather helping with maintaining a consistent message across all channels (content creation should actually be encouraged throughout the company and a good social media policy put in place).

How you think about what content is for your company will determine how big this role is. Think about:

  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Presentations
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Sales Collateral
  • Blog Posts
  • Tweets
  • Facebook Comments/Likes/etc
  • LinkedIn (company page, discussions, etc.)
  • Website

And the list could go on a few more bullets. But you get the idea… content can be as simple or complex as you make it. The important thing is how consistent, or integrated your message and branding is across channels. And unless you have someone paying attention to it, you’re likely to lose the opportunity to influence people towards buying your product.

So while adding another person to your marketing budget may seem tricky at first, maybe you don’t have to hire an additional person (although for larger organizations that should definitely be the case). You could simply rework some job descriptions to free someone’s time to focus more on the whole content coordination aspect. This could be a good stepping stone for a promising young Marketing Coordinator, for example. The important thing is to make it official and empower this individual to really take charge of content inside your organization. This will save everyone (especially the Marketing Manager) a lot of time and avoid headaches down the road.

Larger organizations may even start thinking of a higher level role, of Chief Content Officer, created in order to plan, coordinate the execution, and report on content ROI.

Whether you decide to formally create this new marketing position or keep things the way they are for now, one thing is certain – your content is more king than ever. How you decide to work with it will determine whether you succeed or fail.


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