Is Big Data a Big Flop or a Big Win? You Decide.

“Big Data is the biggest game-changing opportunity for marketing and sales since the Internet went mainstream almost 20 years ago.”

Big Data this. Big Data that. The term has been bouncing around the marketing universe for a few years now, even more so in the last year. But, what IS Big Data? Well, not to be obtuse, but Big Data is just that: big data. It’s data analytics- the collection and examination of information- on steroids. It’s the ginormous sets of data that are created in today’s world of digital and social media. For my own sanity, we’ll just say data for the rest of this post.

This data is coming at B2B marketers harder and faster than ever before. It comes from things like:

Your company’s website

  •  Number of visits per month
  • Number of visits per page
  • Names, titles, employers of those who visit your site (if you’re smart enough to have a website member area)
  • Number of minutes someone spends on your site
  • What’s being downloaded

Search Engines (Google, etc.)

  • The words that are driving people to your site
  • The most popular search terms in your industry

Social Media

  • Number of fans, followers, etc.
  • Analysis of these fans, followers (Who are they? Where are they from? What companies? What industries?)
  • Who’s commenting?
  • What’s being shared?

I could go on and on, but I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re reading this, you know that there are almost unlimited ways that you can gather data on prospects and customers. The question then becomes…what are you doing with all of this information?

Now What?

“Those that use Big Data and analytics effectively show productivity rates and profitability that are 5 – 6 percent higher than those of their peers. McKinsey analysis of more than 250 engagements over five years has revealed that companies that put data at the center of the marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing return on investment (MROI) by 15 – 20 percent. That adds up to $150 – $200 billion of additional value based on global annual marketing spend of an estimated $1 trillion.” (Forbes)

What you do with your data depends largely on two factors: the size of your data pool and the size of your marketing team, but here are some things that companies of all sizes should consider.

1.      Map your top prospects’ behaviors: Map your prospects by tracking their digital interactions with you. What do they open, click on, link? What pages do they visit? What do they download?

2.      Identify your purchasers, and then branch out: Identify prospective purchasers, and use this as a starting point to map out his or her sphere of influence.

3.      Don’t wait!: If a prospect is nibbling, contact them sooner rather than later. And don’t, under any circumstances, send a generic email. Pick up the phone!

4.      Know the B2B Customer Decision Journey: Contact, nurture and delivery sales-ready prospects to your sales team.

Here’s a real-life example.

Platform: Website

Tool: Online Member Area

Specifics: In order to access e-tools, users are required to register their names, emails, locations and company names. They also have the option to give specific application or industry information.

Result: Company has database of more than 20,000 members, broken down by sign-up date, location and whether or not theses members are current or prospective customers.

For this particular real-world example, the company is a part of a multinational corporation and offers complex e-tools and services targeted at engineers.

Now ask yourself: if this situation existed in your company, how would you go about converting these leads?  Sure, you could set up some sort of automated system where anyone who signed up would receive an email and a kind of ‘we are aware of your interest’ letter.

But what if these leads require immediate action? Do your sales engineers have the resources and time to make that happen? More honestly, do they even care about these leads? Let’s be blunt. A lot of sales engineers are territory-driven, so they don’t want to spend their already stretched-thin time focusing on leads that won’t affect them.

Here’s how Connects can help:

Your new members are downloaded and contacted via phone within 24 hours of registration. Through a well-thought-out conversation based on a pre-determined set of questions, your inbound web leads are qualified (either in OR out) and turned into hot, actionable sales leads ready to be handed off to a sales engineer.

The bottom line: Big Data can almost be overwhelming, but to not have a system in place to take advantage of it is almost a criminal waste of marketing dollars.

 

 

Four Rules of Effective B2B Emails

About how many unsolicited emails do you receive per day at work? How many of these do you actually open? If you’re like most of us in the B2B marketplace, the former is north of five and the latter is probably zero. To be completely honest, the ones that make it past my spam filter are usually relegated to the trash folder as quickly as they appear.

But what about the flip side to that equation? Almost all B2B companies use email as a part of their marketing and lead generation campaigns. If we’ve already established that most unsolicited emails go directly into a big digital black hole, what does that say about the emails that YOU are sending? More to the point, how do you avoid the abyss?

Here are some of our most tried and true methods for ensuring effective emails:

1.  Always call first.

If you’re a follower of our blog, you know that here at Connects Marketing Group, we are all about personal connections. As such, we don’t buy into the current marketing automation trend- meaning we are not advocates of pumping out emails to prospects we haven’t reached out to by phone first.

A personal connection trumps a cold email every time. But if you’ve not been able to get through to a prospect on the phone, and you’ve left an introductory voice mail (with maybe one or two follow-ups), then an email is perfectly acceptable. In fact, a kick-ass follow-up email should ALWAYS be sent after a voice mail.

So, AFTER you’ve tried to reach out and actually speak to a prospect, and you’ve left no more than three voice mails, onwards to the perfect email…

2.  Read the subject line you just wrote. Would YOU open this email?

There are oodles and oodles of blog posts, articles and other things out there that tell you how to write compelling B2B subject lines. But your litmus test should be simple- would YOU open this email?

If you know your target market, and you’ve done your homework on your prospect, then you should know what’s more important to them. Is it price? Quality? Production Time? Something else?  Whatever it is, focus on it.

Let’s say your target works for a large OEM that manufactures food and beverage equipment. And just for kicks, let’s say your company manufactures hoses for this equipment. Which one of these two email subject lines would be more effective:

Get the Best Prices and Highest Quality from XYZ Company’s Line of Hoses

or

Our Hose is First to Obtain 3-A and FDA XYZ Approval for Dairy Processing

3.   No bad jargon! I repeat: No. Bad. Jargon.

Nothing makes me cringe more than bad business jargon. This blog post from DigitalRelevance is one of the best things I’ve read on the topic in a long time. Have a look at an excerpt here:

Exclusionary jargon is the “bad” jargon. Rarely does it impart more useful information than simpler, plainer speech. Instead, it transmits a message about the speaker: I am a business professional. It’s an easy way to establish one’s qualifications — even for the unqualified.

  •  It has become improper to say, “Let me ask my manager.” Instead, a customer’s problem is escalated. Really, though, this is just passing the buck.
  • That old software that really ought to be replaced with something better isn’t antiquated, outdated or obsolete, it’s legacy software
  • A business isn’t trying to sell you a product, it’s offering a solution.
  • Instead of having a product to sell for a particular price, companies have deliverables with a price point.
  • Those deliverables aren’t categorized, ordered or sorted, they’re bucketed.
  • Employees come away from meetings not with tasks or even a “to-do list,” but with action items.

Inclusive jargon is the “good” jargon, a business shorthand that encompasses complex ideas and multi-step actions. It’s inclusive because it binds people of the group together to discuss complicated issues. Inclusive jargon is difficult to fake because, given any industry discussion, it will soon become clear if someone really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  • sales funnel is a useful bit of metaphor that encompasses the entire complex array of consumers, from the general public to business leads to prospects to customers, each of which involves a different type of interaction.
  • Organic traffic—something we’re quite concerned with at DigitalRelevance—might sound like something from science fiction, but it’s a useful term in the SEO industry that describes website traffic that is earned without spending money on advertisements. That traffic comes from a lot of places: search engine results pages, blog links, social media referrals and more.

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Bad jargon can make any well-intentioned email come across as canned and insincere. Just don’t use it. Period.

4.   Lay out what happens next.

Always end an email by clearly stating what happens next. (Notice how I didn’t say call to action?)

Here’s a great example:

Please let me know if you would like to speak with Joe Smith, our Director of Engineering.  He can explain how our solution is helping Big Hospital and other hospitals and discuss if it would be a good fit for you. In the meantime, please visit our website or join us for an informative webinar:  Title:  Subtitle, on January 17th at 10:00 am .

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Your Name

And another:

Here is a great link to an interview with our founder that explains the service our company provides: Link

I’ll give you a call later this week to discuss setting up a demo of our network.

Regards,

Your Name

The bottom line: Emails are one of the most powerful tools you have to reach potential customers. When done well, they can be the key you need to open doors you never thought possible.

 

Lead Generation: Strength or Weakness?

61% of B2B marketers say that generating high-quality leads is their biggest challenge. (Source: B2B Lead Generation Marketing Trends Survey 2013)

I hear it all the time. Year-in and year-out, in trade article after trade article, B2B marketers lament that their biggest hurdles are generating high-quality leads. Lead generation is the biggest weakness in their otherwise successful marketing efforts. So why not put everything you’ve ever been told about B2B lead generation out of your head and try something new this year? Read on to find out how you can turn lead generation into your biggest strength.

First Things First

The most important aspect of a B2B company’s marketing program, especially in today‘s digital marketplace, is the people delivering the message. The human component is an unquantifiable element of greatest priority because it is in the chemistry between those delivering a company’s message and the potential customers where the relationships are developed- or lost. Because real people make business decisions on the customer end, every point of contact you have with them makes or breaks the potential connections you stand to create.

While more and more purchasing decisions are in fact being made online, your customers and prospects should have a real-live person, face-to-face or over the phone, to discuss their particular needs. This is especially true in most B2B scenarios, where complex engineering or technical situations are critical.

For instance, an engineer designing an aircraft engine isn’t going to spec in your part simply because he interacts with your company online. He should have a good feel (read: brand awareness) for your company, and hopefully have been given all of the technical information he may have needed, but at the end of the day, he‘s going to want to speak with an actual person, probably R&D and sales, to get to the meat of his product needs. The same is true for a vast array of highly technical, engineering-based industries.

Do you have the dedicated sales staff at your disposal to accomplish this? Do they have the time to cultivate and nurture each prospect or existing customer in their territory? Or are your salespeople bogged down with too many other things?

But I Don’t Need All That; I Have Inbound Marketing!

Inbound marketing is the process of creating quality online content that draws your target audience to your company, where you can convert them to loyal customers over time.

Inbound marketing is definitely where it‘s at. It outperforms outbound in most categories. But alas, there is no such thing as free marketing.

So many marketers get swept up into the social media and content creation wave, thinking they‘ve found the golden ticket- the loophole that will allow them to market like the big boys, but on a shoestring budget. Companies should be completely honest with themselves about the true costs of these activities.

In considering inbound marketing, there are two aspects that warrant special attention: the cost of content creation and actual online traffic numbers.

Companies today are expending huge amounts of energy creating content and marketing in the digital space. We believe that digital media is very passive. The content is great, but really puts the onus on your customers and prospects to find the information that is most valuable to them.

But, at the end of the day, your prospects and customers, especially in the B2B arena, want to talk to a PERSON; their projects are too important and often too complicated to base their product decisions on daily emails or a great website, no matter how functional.

Build Your Lead Generation Machine

B2B industries are generally more technical and more in-depth than those in the B2C space. We believe that if you can figure out in a B2B world how to give someone a B2C experience, you will own your marketplace. It is our job at Connects Marketing Group to help you achieve this goal.

The heart of what we do is B2B lead generation. We keep your pipeline filled with highly qualified leads so your sales people can spend their time closing deals. Our team has the ability to understand your business and complex technology and then take the right action to ensure your sales success.

We begin by:

  • Engaging the right point of contact within the targeted company
  • Having a candid dialogue that supports future communication
  • Identifying true opportunities for your sales team
  • Determining the logical next steps for your sales team
  • Establishing a firm foundation for a long-term business relationship

Typical types of lead generation campaigns might include:

  • New customer creation
  • Email or direct mail campaign follow-up
  • Territory expansion
  • Web-based inquiries
  • Trade show registrations or inquiries
  • Webinar registration or follow-up
  • New product launches

We believe B2B lead generation should be about the Three C’s: Contact, Communication and Connections. They are the foundation of our success. They matter. We do them right, each and every time.

So why keep on doing the same thing, rehashing the same marketing tactics, with the same results? Why not let Connects help you increase the number of quality leads you hand off to your sales team exponentially?  In the same way you wouldn’t make a purchase on Amazon without checking the reviews, have a listen to what some of our clients had to say about us.

“Connects Marketing Group has exceeded my expectations. The quality of their employees is unparalleled. They have learned our business and pivot quickly offering us valuable feedback from our customers and prospects. The effectiveness of our campaigns came from Connects taking the initiative to learn our industry, when we did not have the time to train them. They are an integral part of our sales process. I highly recommend them.”

Roger Parks, VP Business Development & Co-Founder, doxo, Inc.

“CMG as a partner is tenacious and always deliver what they promise. They can take a complex concept or sale, break it down methodically, and have a targeted message to share with the prospective customer while speaking the party line of our company. Working with CMG gives us the ability to turn up or dial down activity in a program offering without additional sales and marketing costs being incurred. We‘ve utilized them for lead generation and are pleased they offer so many additional relevant B2B Business Development services. We see them as an extension our on-staff sales teams.

CMG‘s greatest strength is their smart and highly engaged people and how quickly they get a sales management program launched. It takes a special breed of people to pick up the phone and clearly communicate the marketing message. If you are going to spend money on a tradeshow, you have to take advantage of the leads and do the follow up. The best way to get ROI of any tradeshow is to utilize Connects. Within a day or two they will literally touch every lead received from a tradeshow. CMG leaves no stone unturned and that is key in turning prospects into customers efficiently and quickly.”

Jeff Heier, Security Solutions Strategist, CA Technologies

The Bottom Line: Generating quality sales leads doesn’t have to be your biggest weakness. Let Connects make it your biggest strength.

Email Marketing: What is It Good For?

The old adage is true:  Time is Money.  The more efficient your process is for developing leads, the higher the ROI on your marketing budget will be. In our focus on lead generation, we’re continuing to look at some of the traditional sources of leads and how much they cost.

Let’s talk about email marketing.

Email marketing has come a very long way since the days of simply pumping out mass messages from your company’s CRM system and praying that even half of your targets open them.  There are some very sophisticated email-marketing providers out there that are really doing it right. Constant Contact is one that most everyone knows.

You can find a nice breakdown of some of these providers here.

In researching email-marketing statistics, I came across these from Jay Baer over at ConvinceandConvert.com. These statistics were gathered through email subscriber studies.

  • 21% of email recipients report email as Spam, even if they know it isn’t
  • 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address
  • 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line
  • 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone
  • IP addresses appearing on just one of the 12 major blacklists had email deliverability 25 points below those not listed on any blacklists
  • Email lists with 10% or more unknown users get only 44% of their email delivered by ISPs
  • 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months
  • 30% of subscribers change email addresses annually
  • If marketers optimized their emails for image blocking, ROI would increase 9+%
  • 84% of people 18-34 use an email preview pane
  • Subscribers below age 25 prefer SMS to email
  • 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device
  • 80% of social network members have received unsolicited email or invites

A full 75% of marketers say that they are using more email than they were three years ago. (Source: HubSpot) However, building a quality email distribution list takes a major time investment. Email marketing can be an excellent way to share information with your prospects and customers, but gathering qualified leads still takes that extra step of connection.

Can you make the leap from cold to qualified through marketing automation?

Marketing automation combines software with a company’s CRM system and scores leads based on defined criteria. This information is supposed to allow the marketer to better target messages and promotions to individuals based on perceived interests.  Marketing automation software can include email marketing, campaign management, lead nurturing/scoring, lead lifecycle management and analytics.

Marketing automation is, in its most basic form, a tool with which to take marketing leads and nurture them until they are ready to be converted to customers. While this can be somewhat helpful in the very beginning stages of a lead, letting your prospect know that you are aware of his or her interest and that you will be in contact, that is where the automation should end.

Particularly in the oftentimes highly technical world of B2B product sales, marketing automation can come off as a little too impersonal and out-of-touch with your target customers’ decision journeys. In that space, nothing beats a phone call and an honest conversation.

The bottom line:

Email marketing absolutely has its place, but it’s not to produce qualified leads.

Outbound Marketing: Are You Reaching Your Audience in Print?

The old adage is true:  Time is Money.  The more efficient your process is for developing customers, the higher the ROI on your marketing budget will be.

This month, we’re going to take a look at some of the traditional sources of leads and how much they cost.

How many times have you had the “print is dead” debate with other marketing colleagues? If you’re like me, it’s more times than you care to count.  Yes, there is something to be said for branding. The truth is, though, that your audience is increasingly moving online.

From Marketo:

Advertisers knew this trend was coming as more and more people started moving towards the online world. A recent report released by eMarketer earlier this year states that 2012 would be the year that spending for online advertising would surpass spending for print advertising. In 2011, online ad spending grew 23% in the US, just passing the $32 billion mark, and in 2012 the online ads will grow another 23% to nearly $40 billion. As the spending for online ads continues to grow, B2B marketing professionals need to watch for this development and catch on quickly because we live in an increasingly interactive world, and opportunities to market to your future customers may be lost if this is ignored.

As with anything in branding, the key to advertising is having a consistent presence. That’s hard to do in print if you don’t have a limitless budget. As an example, below is the 2013 rate schedule for one of the number one trade magazines in B2B manufacturing.

Let’s say you wanted to run one full-page ad per month in this trade magazine. Per your company’s brand standards, you are required to use at least a 4-color process. That puts your total spend at $42,855 for the year.

Now, for the sake of this example, let’s say you receive 50 inquiries per month based on your ads. We’re only going to calculate cost per lead, since the ROI on print advertising is so subjective.

  • Cost per Lead 42,855/ 600= $71.43

Stop the presses! (Pun definitely intended) That is an outstanding cost per lead. But let’s be real. Based on real-life experience, we know that 50 inquiries per month on a print ad is a bit high. Doable, but high. The bigger problem is the quality of these inquiries. After qualification, your number will probably drop to somewhere around 5-10 real, quality leads per month. 

This is more realistic (minus the cost for qualification):

  • Cost per Lead 42,855/ 120= $357.13

Yes, you can calculate ROI and cost per lead for print advertising, but it’s a bit tricky. Your ads need to contain some sort of call to action so that you can track clicks on a specified web page, or something similar. But even then, these are only prospects. They still need to be qualified.

The bottom line:

There is still value in print advertising from a branding perspective. For lead generation, however, it’s debatable. A click on your landing page is a formidable distance from a qualified lead.