Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CMO Council Study Shines Light On New Business Challenges For 2009

By John Gaffney, Senior Analyst

Every now and then a statistic enters the marketing lexicon and it seems to come up everywhere. Example: The average tenure of a CMO is 24 months. I guarantee you that no other tenure for any other executive position was so well-known and so often quoted. Get ready for another number to achieve power point overload: 47.3% of all marketers don’t know they’re customer retention rates, profitability or lifetime value.

It is a bit stunning and possibly worth every bit of attention it gets. I highly recommend the CMO Council report titled “Routes To Revenue” this data comes from because the whole picture vacillates between an indictment of executive information ignorance, and a hopeful future for customer data. But the customer stat is not my personal fave. For me the finding that 47.9% marketing executives surveyed will test and launch new products aimed at specific customer segments, is a positive sign of recovery. Couple that with the 41% that plan to focus on demand generation and I think we’re looking at priority one for 2009: New business.

Now, I still have my “organic growth rules” T-shirt. I’m not suggesting that any company ignore getting more from current customers, and doing it by segmenting those customers. But new business is very clearly what is on the front burner. New business depends on demand generation and engaging new prospects. I’d hate to think that just 41% of marketing executives get that. But if that’s the case, those companies are well-positioned to control their own destiny.

I think the renewed focus on demand gen and lead gen is actually driven by a few factors outside of common sense. First, mergers and acquisitions are a tough path to growth when credit markets are tight. So they have fallen down the chart to 10%, according to the CMO Council. Second, “cranking up the marketing budget” is not the brave growth strategy it once was. That’s because the marketing budget has become a loose collection of awareness tactics, cute gimmicks, and TV ads that have debatable ROI. Demand Gen and Lead Gen have the most definable ROI.

Now back to that number, the 47.3% ignorance rate. I can understand how companies are a bit mystified about customer lifetime value. I’m pretty confident that any customer at any company retains has lost some value. Trying to predict customer value right now is a bit like calling the over-under for the Super Bowl. We don’t even know who’s playing yet. But retention rates, churn, profitability and other data are simply not up for “don’t know” status.

The best offense a company can play is finding new business. We certainly have developed the tools to automate the leads, track them, and score them. It might even extend the tenure of CMO’s beyond…….Oh, sorry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Impatient Executive’s Guide To Building A Demand Generation Culture & Drive Growth In 2009

By Andrew Gaffney, Editor

This is no time to be patient about anything in business. It’s no time to waste time. So when I saw a few reports recently that prove demand gen, lead gen and marketing measurement is still stuck in some Dick Cheney-like undisclosed location for many companies, I sensed an impatience. This is a good impatience, not a “stuck in the grocery line impatience.” I think companies need to be more urgent about developing and tracking their most valuable customers and prospects for 2009.

For the record, two of the reports were from the Conference Board and the CMO Council. The Conference Board found “most companies experience cultural resistance when moving to marketing ROI. Lack of resources, linked to performance objectives, and lack of focus were some of the primary sources of individual or cultural resistance. Major barriers to implementing marketing ROI programs, largely related to issues of business infrastructure, include problems with data availability or integrity (47 percent), technology/infrastructure (41 percent), resource dedication (39 percent), and methodology/know how (22 percent).

The CMO Council study says that less than 47% of marketers around the world have “good insights into retention rates, customer profitability and lifetime value.” If I was running a company that was in the 53 percent of “don’t know” it would be completely unacceptable.

So let’s take what The Conference Board says is the most important driver of marketing ROI: Leadership Commitment (63%). And let’s skip the cultural advice. Corporate culture for me has always been best defined as “the way things get done around here.” Focusing on the fine points of corporate culture is a luxury. For demand gen, I think executives need to get back to some basics. First, assume that everything you know about your current and prospective customers has changed since June of this year. After that little mental leap, I would follow five steps to reinvigorating growth:

  1. Convene an executive level demand generation committee. Here I would ask some very basic questions and expect some answers. The questions: What does our most valuable customer look like? Who are some of our top targets and how are we communicating our core strengths to them. Around the answers to these questions, I would have the executive team build a profile of the ideal account and some personas around target prospects.

  2. Gather a larger meeting with top sales performers. We’re not talking about the Club Getaways or rah-rah sales meeting here. During these difficult times, it is critical to be dialed-in to the folks who are closest to the revenue and have some meaningful dialog with them about your existing business and the realities of the pipeline. The top sales people will be able to provide feedback from your top customers and pass along ideas on how we can we grow them? Maybe the customer or prospect has just reduced its workforce by 20% and will not be able to pay its license fees for Q1. Or maybe the cutbacks will make your solution even more important for them in 2009. This meeting should produce an honest look at the top level of the client base and the prospects for growing it and help define the year ahead.

  3. Create a demand gen task force: This team needs to involve sales, marketing, and operations. It should have 30 days to define the customers and prospects that the company needs to get, keep, and grow. It should also evaluate the market, competitors and realities that need to be addressed in order to achieve your revenue goals.

  4. Build a demand gen culture from top to bottom: Key executives need to make sure that the 2009 demand gen effort has buy-in from the team and communicate that the current system is still open for communication and new opportunities. It is important that the customer service agents are aware that their interactions could impact whether a company expands its contract with your company. Equally, the IT department needs to be dialed in to the impact that landing pages and web upgrades have to converting browsers into customers.

  5. Automate or upgrade automation: The majority of companies now have some kind of CRM of SFA system in place, but many are admittedly not using the systems efficiently and may need to evaluate an upgrade. For those companies that have their sales system automated, but have not yet taken the same steps for their marketing and prospect data bases, 2009 represents a great opportunity to benefit from the consistency, transparency and prioritization these systems provide.

These five steps are most important in an economy where the unfortunate reality is that most current customers are likely to lose some value. Therefore, customer acquisition and customer marketing to protect and up-sell the company’s best accounts will be a vital part of growth going forward. Steps like these tell a company that cultural barriers are history and that all departments put the customer and prospective customers first.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Visualizing Success: Getting a Holistic View of Lead Generation Programs

By Lisa Cramer, President, LeadLife Solutions

We work with a lot of companies that spend so much time trying to generate leads for sales that they forget to envision their success. They neglect to ask: What if this all works? The focus on generating responses, conversions and hits can’t be truly successful until a company understands what to do when that data becomes actual business.

At some point, you realize that your lead generation programs are working and – presto – leads are coming into the company. But the aftermath is a total scramble. You’ve probably used spreadsheets to track leads for each campaign – that’s if you were fortunate enough to capture all of them that came through. This often required manual intervention and that’s where things most likely started to fall apart. Over the course of my career, I’ve had leads generated by many different types of marketing campaigns but I couldn’t take the actions I needed from a marketing perspective to get the full value out of them before they got into the hands of sales. And you know what happened then – the sales guys complained. The leads, they said, were dead ends.

It became apparent to me that unless I had an effective marketing system, I would generate leads but lose track of everything else. I wouldn’t know where the leads went, which leads should be sent to sales, which ones should be nurtured, which campaigns performed and which we should never do again. I needed visibility through the life of a lead to see which campaigns performed. Today, lead management systems provide this visibility and tracking far before the final ROI is calculated. In today’s economy and ever-expanding sales cycles, that’s key to maximizing marketing dollars.

The Value of Lead Management Systems

Lead management systems simply provide a place where all leads from all campaigns can be deposited, tracked, scored, prioritized, and nurtured. They can gauge the success of marketing programs, and analyze metrics throughout the lead’s life cycle – not just the beginning (the number of clicks) and not just the end (revenue produced by campaign). Lead management systems provide a holistic view into the leads produced from each campaign and how successfully they move through the system. This provides an indicator of the general success of the campaign – specifically, which one is going to produce the largest number of “sales ready” leads. And assuming that the definition of “sales ready” was determined in collaboration with both marketing and sales, it should be a good indicator of success.

Lead management systems also create a great sense of how leads are interacting with your company. For example, an email campaign directing people to download a whitepaper from your site, should allow you to see who downloaded that whitepaper. But can you also see if they interacted with your company before? Did they click on an AdWord, see you at a tradeshow, or click on a previous email? It’s critical to see those interactions to sense if a lead is gone past the research stage and is starting to engage in the selling process. This could happen over several months. It’s difficult to track that manually and it isn’t something sales will spend their time on effectively.

Lead Scoring Helps Determine How Leads Are Moving

Determining the interactions/behaviors or demographic information that is important to my company (remember that of course I’ve sat down with the head of sales to create a shared definition of “sales ready”), makes it much easier to accomplish lead scoring. With lead management systems, develop rules that score different behaviors of the lead and/or different demographic information. In this way, evaluate how leads are moving. Is their score increasing? If so, I can assume that they are interacting with my company more and that means they are more interested in what I have to sell.

Of course, this needs to be mapped back to where the lead came from in the first place. A lead management system should provide visibility into each campaign, how many are progressing and how many are dormant. This kind of information gives you great insight into the marketing you are doing – long before sales actually sells. We all know that revenue is king, but often getting a precursor can adjust the course of marketing campaigns.

Many of us have been asked to generate quality leads, yet never given the tools to do it. We’ve tried to make do with spreadsheets, whiteboards and CRM systems. But lead management systems now exist that provide more than strategy and line items for budgets, they give marketers tremendous visibility and action into the life of a lead. And with this holistic view of leads across all campaigns, marketers can now easily gauge success and failure early in the process and make adjustments accordingly. These adjustments, along with the ability to score and nurture leads, provide the greatest impact to driving value for the lead generation dollars you are spending.

About the Author
Lisa Cramer is president of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of on-demand marketing automation software that generates, scores and nurtures leads for B2B marketers. For more information, go to www.leadlife.com, or call 1-800-680-6292.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Picking 5 Of The Top 15 Time Wasters of Inside Sales & Lead Generation

By Kenneth Krogue, President, InsideSales.com

While technology can eliminate many inefficiencies and time-wasters from sales and marketing organizations, some problem areas tend to be outside the reach of technological solutions. More time is wasted as a result of poor strategy, bad hiring, unqualified leadership, and a lack of performance management than from flawed sales tactics. Companies have invested in sales tactics for years, what they haven’t done is invest in lead management,immediate response to leads, lead resources, and proper intelligence on why companies buy, and why they don’t. We recently published a paper highlighting 15 time-wasters that are endemic to typical inside sales and lead generation departments.

The research study that originally prompted this paper was done on-site at PeopleWise, a division of LexisNexis in 2005 through 2006 and outlined 10 of the current 15 time-wasters listed here. Additional time-wasters have been added from research done in conjunction with Kellogg, MIT, FranklinCovey, Jim Click Automotive, and Omniture.

Each section will address a single time-waster and provide a “best practice” that will offer a “jumping-off point” to start eliminating the problem:

TIME WASTER #1: Poor Lead Generation Resources
Why cold call if you can have inbound leads generated from an effective marketing campaign at a fraction of the cost? Our biggest and best clients take this seriously and use web, radio and television outlets to provide sustainable and scalable sources of qualified leads.

It’s all about the leads. We don’t see nearly as many successful companies leaving the lead generation process to their sales people. If you don’t provide pre-qualified leads, at least provide your sales teams with good lists to call. Good lists cost roughly 5% to 10% of the money you spend on labor costs and can increase results dramatically (we have seen results as high as 1300%), yet some companies we studied left their reps to spend as much as 40% of their time looking for someone to call. Not only are you wasting your most valuable resource—your sales team—you risk losing your most effective sales reps to companies that are willing to give them a higher rate of success by providing warm leads.

We also advocate using dialing technology to triple or quadruple the contact rates of new leads and allow
salespeople to spend less time between conversations with decision-makers. Dialers that connect your sales reps to a live call as soon as he or she has ended another call will keep your sales reps busy making sales—increasing their success and profitability.

Best Practice: Invest in good leads or lists. The Internet is already the fastest growing and least expensive source of leads for almost every business. Create an effective website and generate leads.

TIME WASTER #2: Slow Response to Lead Inquiries
Every day we find another company that spends tens of thousands of dollars to create a fancy website, spends thousands of dollars each month with Google to drive clicks and contracts with a web-analytics company such as Omniture to analyze and improve the conversion on their website only to let a lead sit for 24 to 48 hours before calling them back! Our repeated research and experience shows that only 45-50% of all leads get contacted, and reps only attempt contact between 4 and 5 times. See Omniture Study, Dreamforce Study, Mega 100.

Laura Ramos, of Forrester Research, studied how effectively companies respond to their leads and wrote an article entitled “How Mature is B2B Lead Management?” (November 2006). In her study, only 10% of sales departments respond to leads within 24 hours and 41% respond to leads in one to three days. Nearly half of the sales departments she studied had yet to standardize how to route and respond to leads within the organization.

Hot leads cool off quickly. Our best clients know their key action is to call them back immediately. Response time should be measured in seconds and minutes, not hours and days.

MarketingSherpa Article. A dialer can help solve these problems, particularly one that can try calling a number at different times of the day and on different days of the week in order to ‘wring dry’ a leads’ potential value. Some of our clients make twenty to fifty attempts on each lead, calling mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Our internal staff and many of our clients contact between 80% and 90% of all contactable leads.

Best Practice: Track every dial and every contact. Separate your contactable leads from those without viable contact information. Track how many attempts your sales reps make to contact leads and the actual percentage of contacted leads for 30 days. Once you form a baseline, begin increasing contact attempts to increase your contact ratio up over 80%.

TIME WASTER #4: Poor Lead Management Processes
A typical lead management process goes something like this:

  • Leads generated on a website sit in the webmaster’s box until she checks it.

  • The webmaster checks her box once each day and sends any accumulated leads to the sales manager’s box until he checks it.

  • The sales manager checks his box once each day. He sorts the leads and sends them to the appropriate sales rep.

  • The sales rep types the lead information into a tracking system—a spreadsheet or contact manager—
    before calling the lead. After making 4 or 5 attempts to contact the lead, she moves on to other leads.

The process from lead capture to first contact attempt often takes between 48 and 72 hours. The time to first contact can often be as long as two weeks—plenty of time for the prospect to forget your company or sign up with your competition. Lead management is nearly as important as sales yet it is often the most overlooked process.

Why? The lead management process is often where the marketing department hands off the leads it generated to the sales department. Leads are often lost in this “gray area” and neither department wants to take responsibility: marketing blames sales for failing to follow-up and sales blames marketing for sending them unqualified leads.

Another failure in most lead management processes is found in the lack of automation. Leads are routed through a slow pipeline that could easily be replaced by technology and reduce the time between lead generation and first contact from days to minutes.

Effective lead management includes such disciplines as:

  • Lead Capture

  • Lead Scoring

  • Lead Routing

  • Lead Response Management

  • Lead Qualification Skills

  • Lead Tracking

  • Lead Reporting

  • Lead Source Analysis

Best Practices: Create a clear process for each aspect of lead management. Invest time in the process and money in the systems to leverage the ability to quickly and effectively qualify and sort leads and you will find hidden increases in productivity. Respond as fast as possible to web leads (5 minutes or less is optimal).

TIME WASTER #5: Not Knowing Your Wins and Losses
(Reporting, Analysis, Post-Mortem)

The marketing department almost always wants the sales department to report results, link campaigns to toll freenumber and track the search engine keywords that bring in the most sales but it rarely happens. However, knowing the sources of your successes and failures will help you streamline your marketing and ultimately tap your most profitable sources of prospects and profits.

Very few companies track a lead from capture to conclusion or interview prospects and customers to find out why they do or do not buy. However, a sales team that fails to track why it wins or loses each sale is like a sports team that refuses to watch film of its competition before a game to prepare and then film of the actual game to improve for future wins: real progress is impossible unless it takes the time to learn from past successes and failures.

Best Practices: This time-waster covers nearly every area of the lead management and sales processes but it is also very simple to eliminate. The key is to start simple: pick 5 to 10 Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to track for 30 days. Once you have a baseline to work with, begin making changes and tracking them to see how they affect performance and profits. By recording phone calls it is easy to do a post-mortem analysis of why a company did not go with you. It is also as important to know why a company did go with you as well, this is much easier facilitated with monitoring and recording technologies and dispositioning of calls.

Ken Krogue is co-founder of InsideSales.comTM, a hosted lead response management solution that integrates to CRM solutions like Salesforce.com and comes with built-in dialers for B2B or Complex B2C sales. It is a full suite of hosted telephony power tools, , and lead management solutions for companies who sell over the phone or through the web. For more information go to www.InsideSales.com or contact Ken directly at 866-342-5370.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lessons Learned From The Obama Campaign In Online Marketing

By Raquel Hirsch, WiderFunnel Marketing Inc.

Regardless of what you think about the outcome of the American election on November 4, from a marketer’s perspective there is one sure conclusion: the campaign marketing team did a phenomenal job marketing their “product”: they hit a cord that resonated with their base and energized younger voters; plus, they were able to use social media successfully.

In one particular area of interest to marketers concerned with eCommerce and web marketing did the Obama campaign truly shine: Fundraising.

Barack Obama raised more than $650 million dollars in all. That almost equals the combined total raised by President Bush and John Kerry in the two 2004 elections. In September alone, Obama's staggering $150 million in donations more than doubled his previous record. According to Bloomberg, the campaign “obliterated every political fundraising and spending record in U.S. history.”

How did they accomplish this?

Figure 1: shows a view of what the Obama team were testing. The red dashed line shows the placement of the SwapBox (i.e. the Google Website Optimizer section script) on the webpage. Find more image variations like this here.

The answer is of course complex and multifaceted – but from a marketing perspective, very straightforward and with strategies and tactics all marketers can learn from.

First, the campaign went for the broadest possible customer base as it’s easier to get $1 out of 100,000 people than to get $100,000 out of one person.

As early as February 2008, their campaign reported on their official website that more than 280,000 people had created accounts on BarackObama.com and from those online accounts, 6,500 grassroots volunteer groups had been created and more than 13,000 off-line events have been organized through the site. At that point, already over 370,000 individual online donations had been made, more than half of which were less than $25 donations. All in all, the campaign brought in more than $650 million from some 3 million donors.

To build the base, at every opportunity Obama volunteers fanned through the crowd, gathering the names and e- mail addresses of people who could be asked for small donations again and again.

Then, the campaign focused on Frequency marketing

Once it accomplished a broad base of web-engaged supporters, the Obama campaign went after the small donors early and returned to them often. They took in $8 million online in the first quarter of 2007, quadruple the campaign's goal of $2 million. Almost half of Obama's money came from people giving $200 or less, compared with 34 percent for Arizona Senator McCain.

The “secret sauce”: Obama Campaign Uses Conversion Rate Optimization
All the considerable effort and money spent driving traffic to the site generated a given online donations rate. We are positive that campaign management saw as their next challenge getting more actions (i.e., more donations and higher average donations) from the traffic already on the website.

So, in an amazing bit of sleuthing, my business partner Chris Goward“discovered” how the Obama campaign successfully used a Conversion Rate Optimization strategy to maximize online donations.

In order to optimize this online donations rate, or “conversions”, the team deployed a Conversion Rate Optimization strategy where they ran experiments and determined with scientific certainty what web visitors consider to be the most relevant and timely content. In other words, by running statistically valid experiments, the Obama team made data-driven decisions and progressively redesigned key web pages.

As Chris discovered, Obama's web team used Google Website Optimizer to run multivariate tests on various pages of their site (www.barackobama.com). Tests were run on the Home Page, the Donation page (still running at the time of writing this article!) and others. To learn more about the different variations offered and how they were tested and measured, we encourage you to see the full posting on our blog at http://www.widerfunnel.com/blog

The learning here is that all web marketers, just like the Obama team, can in fact make data-driven decisions (instead of hope-driven leaps of faith) and progressively redesign key web pages - or the entire site.

In our experience at WiderFunnel , where we focus on running ongoing Conversion Rate Experiments for clients in a wide variety of industries and with a wide variety of business goals, we have learned one thing: testing always pays off in improved conversions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Transforming BtoB Strategy Through ProSultative Selling, Rethinking Sales & Marketing

By Mike Pilcher, VP of Sales at Marketbright

ProSultative selling is more than a sales process—it requires you to re-orient your company around becoming easier to do business with and learn how to proactively deliver to each prospect the specific information they need to become a customer.

As we know, B2B sales is all about the transfer of information from supplier to buyer. You must deliver the information about your product as quickly and easily as possible to the prospect in the way they need to consume the information, and in order to do this successfully sales and marketing must work together as one seamless organization.

ProSultative selling fits neatly into this collaboration between sales and marketing teams, and when implemented successfully has been shown to result in shorter sales cycles, greater predictable sales volume and lower production costs in both the near and short term.

In simple terms, a ProSultative business:
  1. Is easy to do business with at all stages-- from a prospect’s initial discovering of the product to their decision to buy more;

  2. Automates any and all interactions with prospects and customers whenever possible;

  3. Always makes prospect and customer interaction proactive;

  4. Focuses on the very minimum of information and actions a prospect needs to become a customer;

  5. Always acts with insatiable urgency; and

  6. Iterates incessantly.
The relationship between sales and marketing teams has become undoubtedly tense, as sales teams continue to complain about the qualification of marketing leads and marketing teams push back when sales is unable to convert the prospects they delivered. Rather than operating in an adversarial vacuum, the ProSultative salesperson works closely with marketing teams to carefully time the delivery of information to the prospect, working not only to craft the precise messaging but proactively deliver it in the right place, at the right time and to the right person.

With ProSultative selling, the huge amount of budget that currently languishes in a no-man’s land between sales and marketing disappears, as prospects are smoothly guided through the system and ultimately, more often than not, converted to customers. While ProSultative selling is most attractive for small and medium sized businesses, it can work especially well for large enterprises if the products and system are architected correctly.

After implementation of a ProSultative sales model, a business will soon see the following benefits:
  1. Minimized customer interactions; allowing businesses to accelerate the velocity of sales through the pipeline;

  2. Faster sales cycles and increased business;

  3. Increased scalability, growing the number of customer opportunities each individual and the business can manage and thereby increasing the rate and total volume of new customer acquisition;

  4. The landing of more customers more often; with sales to existing customers growing with the increase in total customers; and

  5. Reduced risk, allowing businesses greater control of the delivery of information to make the management of resources more predictable.
As businesses look to simultaneously improve and streamline their sales and marketing processes, ProSultative selling is emerging as a new and compelling strategy for selling quickly and successfully, even in a down economy. ProSultative selling tactics optimize a business’s ability to really get creative and execute targeted, focused campaigns, generating interest and prospects, fueling conversation and ultimately resulting in more converted customers.

Mike Pilcher has more than 20 years of business and enterprise sales experience. Before joining Marketbright, he headed up worldwide sales at HyperRoll, Velosant and Epiphany. Pilcher is the author of a new book titled “ProSultative Selling: The Death of the Consultative Sales Person,” currently available for sale on Amazon.com. He also writes a blog on ProSultative selling techniques. On November 13th, Pilcher will be leading a Webinar on Sales and Marketing thought leadership with Forrester analyst Laura Ramos. For more information on the Webinar, please visit: http://www.marketbright.com/news/events.html

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sports & Entertainment Franchises Turning To Marketing Automation To Drive Revenue

The majority of early adopters of marketing automation solutions have been in the high tech sector, where long sales cycles drove a need for insights and efficiency. Recently, other verticals are emerging with different business challenges and revenue hurdles they are looking to address by automating campaigns and providing better intelligence to their sales teams.

One of those unique verticals of is the sports & entertainment category, where sales marketing teams are responsible for filling the seats for NBA, NHL games as well concerts and other entertainment events (an estimated 80% of NBA teams also own the local arena) are increasingly turning to multi-channel marketing to drive revenue.

Executives from Comcast-Spectator (owners of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the Wachovia Center) and Maloof Sports & Entertainment (owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs and the Arco Arena) recently spoke on panels at the Eloqua Experience user conference and shared some of the hurdles they have addressed with Eloqua’s marketing automation tool kit.

Contrary to high tech and other industries where considered purchases result in lengthy sales cycles, sports & entertainment franchises are faced with the limited shelf life associated with each of the games, concerts and family shows on their calendar. “Perishability is a huge factor for us because our products get ripe faster than bananas,” explained Dennis Nelson, Director of New Media for Comcast-Spectacor. “We literally have a new product to sell every 2 days so we can’t afford to miss sales opportunities.”

Consistent with other industries, sports teams have increasingly turned to email marketing as a way to communicate with corporate clients, season ticket holders as well as single game prospects. After implementing Salesforce.com to automate the efforts of their sales team, Mark Dimaurizio, Vice President of Technology Solutions at Comcast-Spectacor, said the company was looking for a solution that would help track website visits, form submissions and also manage a high volume of email campaigns.

After deploying Eloqua’s marketing automation solutions last year, Dimaurizio said the company has established business rules for the reps to follow up with prospects, and has seen an immediate payoff. “Our sales reps love the new system because they are getting leads that are qualified and timely,” he said.

In addition to utilizing Eloqua to automate email campaigns and track web activity, Dimaurizio added Comcast-Spectactor has had great success by employing Eloqua’s online chat functionality on its sites. “By providing fans with the option of pressing a button to chat with a representative we’ve closed quite a few sales. We a put a lot of different messages out in front of people but the online chat give us a whole new way of communicating.”

Overall, the marketing automation tools have helped to drive a 12% increase in season ticket renewals for both the 76ers and the Flyers, and Comcast-Spectacor was recently recognized for its efforts as the winner of the Markies Award for Multichannel Campaigns.

Although newer to the marketing automation space, Maloof Sports & Entertainment has plans to address similar pain points. After the Sacramento Kings failed to sell out for the first time in almost a decade last year, Kyle Eichman, Director of Relationship Marketing, said the company decided to employ Eloqua’s marketing automation tools to strengthen its online marketing. “We are looking to get a better handle on our email databases and also utilize personal landing pages to drive sales of single events, season ticket renewals and also for customer service functions,” Eichman said. “Marketing automation and relationship marketing really supports our three over-arching goals of increasing revenue, decreasing costs and ultimately delighting the fan.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Markies Awards Recognize 9 Leaders In Key Areas Of Demand Generation

The second annual Markies Awards were handed out in Las Vegas this week, recognizing innovative and visionary marketers in the field of demand generation. The awards were presented to winners in nine categories at Eloqua Experience ’08, with specific nods to ground-breaking campaigns and programs for sales and marketing effectiveness, lead scoring, lead management and campaign management.

The Markies winners were chosen based on a combination of metrics, innovation and demand generation excellence that drove results for their business. Award recipients included the following companies:

Marketing and Sales Alignment Award Winner: Administaff
Administaff (NYSE: ASF), a leading provider of human resources services for small and medium-sized businesses, successfully implemented the “Eloqua for Microsoft Outlook” program, enabling its sales force to directly access and track marketing collateral that is electronically provided to prospective clients. In addition, managers and sales consultants receive detailed overview reports and real-time key performance indicators, helping to measure the success of projects and initiatives. Since the implementation of this program, the Sales and Marketing departments have achieved an increase in efficiencies and productivity.

• Multi-Channel Campaign Award: Comcast-Spectacor

Comcast-Spectacor, a leader in the sports management industry and provider of high quality sports and entertainment, was honored for their successful implementation of a multi-channel marketing campaign to recruit, cultivate, and retain season ticket holders for both the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers. By leveraging the latest marketing technologies and industry best practices, Comcast-Spectacor increased season ticket renewals for both the 76ers and Flyers by 12% from the previous season.

• New Media Marketing Award: Concur
Concur, the world’s leading provider of on-demand Employee Spend Management services, was recognized for its ability to creatively leverage Web 2.0 technologies to build stronger relationships and sustained dialogues with customers and prospects. The company created a viral Web 2.0 travel site, encouraging users to submit, browse, forward, rate and comment on brief travel stories. Traffic was driven to the site through the company’s homepage, print and banner advertisements, and viral distribution. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in traffic to the site, which generated increased page views and community participation through the submission of new stories and comments. The increased site traffic also drove additional sign-ups for Concur Expense - Trial Edition, which resulted in increased and measurable sales opportunities.

• Best Lead Scoring Award: Forrester Research, Inc.
Forrester Research, an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology, has implemented a sophisticated implicit and explicit lead scoring program that automatically ranks qualified leads according to their buying interest, thereby improving conversion rates, more efficiently allocating resources, and improving communication with the company's sales force.

• Best Lead Nurturing Award: Taleo
Taleo, the leading provider of on-demand talent management solutions, cultivates prospects through a tiered lead nurturing campaign that has improved sales effectiveness and efficiency while minimizing lead attrition. The company’s processes for educating, qualifying and honing prospects through introductory and progressively more specific campaigns differentiates Taleo from its competition and involves the use of educational e-mails, as well as case studies, demos and high-touch tools.

• Global Marketing Effectiveness Award: National Instruments
National Instruments, a leading provider of engineering software and hardware, sells to more than 25,000 companies worldwide and employs hundreds of marketers worldwide that execute, track, analyze and build marketing programs in multiple languages. With more than 40 branch operations around the world, they rely on the power of marketing automation to seamlessly automate components of the company’s 2,000 highly targeted and personalized direct marketing campaigns per month regardless of language or scope. This has helped National Instruments manage its dialogue with its customers and prospects in a much more intelligent and efficient manner.

• Sales Efficiency Award: Sourcefire
Sourcefire, an open source innovator and creator of SNORT(R) creator, was recognized for its advanced lead-scoring program. Designed for maximum sales impact, this program allows for the ultimate in flexibility, enabling Sourcefire to continue to evaluate and adjust the quality and quantity of its leads based on feedback from the company’s sales organization. Since deploying this implementation, Sourcefire has realized a measurable increase in revenue and the number of product demo meetings scheduled with prospects.

• Interactive Marketing Award: TriNet
TriNet, a leading provider of HR outsourcing and consulting services for more than 2,000 small and medium-sized businesses nationwide, exemplifies the business value that can be gained through the successful implementation of interactive marketing best practices. The flawless execution of dynamic and personalized multi-channel marketing campaigns has enabled TriNet to maximize its campaign results, maintain and cultivate its prospect database, as well as organize, execute and measure the efficacy of its marketing programs. In a recent interactive marketing campaign, TriNet realized a 20% increase in its conversion rate and more than 1,000% return on investment (ROI) when measured against the cost of the campaign.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Live From Las Vegas"

Eloqua’s Inaugural Users Conference
Draws More Than 400 To Las Vegas

DemandGen Report was on-site for the Eloqua's first user conference this week in Las Vegas and will be blogging from the event with postings covering the seminars, and interviews with users as well as company executives.

In another sign that the marketing automation category has arrived, more than 430 attendees turned out in Las Vegas this week for Eloqua’s inaugural user conference. Eloqua Experience 08 drew over 300 customers to hear best practice presentations from power users as well as marketing experts and industry analysts.

CEO Joe Payne kicked off the event by spotlighting the company’s growth rate, recently exceeding 500 customers and 10,000 users and expanding globally into EMEA and Asia. Illustrating the company’s volume, Payne also pointed out that Eloqua is now handling almost 10,000 transactions per second, almost 6x the volume of the NASDAQ.

Moving forward, Payne stressed that Eloqua is listening closely to its customers and has already implemented improvements to its products and services based on that feedback. Some of the early byproducts of that customer feedback Payne highlighted include:

The new SmartStart program, which is an accelerated launch program speeding the adoption of Eloqua’s application, as well as integrating marketing and sales processes. Hosted at either Eloqua or a certified partner, the SmartStart program promises customer will be fully trained and live with campaigns in just 5 days.

One-Day Deployment –Eloqua’s rapid launch program provides access to the Eloqua environment within hours.

One-Click CRM Implementation – In order to make it easier for customers to integrate their marketing database with their CRM system, Eloqua is using best practices learned through hundreds CRM configurations to develop a CRM configuration wizard. The tool guides customers through the process of synchronizing marketing and sales data; putting actionable insight into the hands of sales organizations with just one click.

Following Payne, Author Dr. Robert Cialdini provided the opening keynote titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” which provided suggestions into how marketers should respond to current uncertainty in the market due to the economic downturn. Cialdini suggested marketers focus on the following key principles of influence which include:

--Reciprocation (Be the first to give)
--Scarcity (Emphasize exclusive information)
--Authority (Showing, knowing)
--Consistency (Start small with existing commitments)
--Liking (Making friends to influence people)
--Consensus (Testimonials of similar people)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Take 5: ON24’s New CMO Shares Plans For Driving Future Growth Of Online Event Sector

ON24, Inc. has announced the appointment of Denise Persson as the company’s new CMO. The former Executive VP of Global Marketing for Genesys Conferencing, Persson is experienced in the event space as well as ON24’s webcasting solutions, as she has been a long-time customer of the San Francisco-based company.

During her tenure at Genesys, Persson’s marketing strategies and programs helped the company build a customer base of more than 200 of the Global Fortune 500. She was an also integral member of the executive team that grew the company tenfold - from $20 million to more than $200 million.

In her new role at ON24, Persson will drive the company’s global marketing efforts for its integrated family of webcasting and virtual events solutions across the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific Regions.
DemandGen Report had an opportunity to chat with Persson to learn more about the strategies and practices she plans to bring to ON24. She pointed out that her experience as a customer will help in to shorten her learning curve in her new position in the virtual world.

DGR: Given your experience at Genesys, you are obviously very familiar with the event business, how have you seen the landscape changing over the past in light of the challenging economy, particularly as it relates to using events as a lead generation tool?

Persson: Virtual events and webcasting are the obvious answers for addressing the perfect storm—escalating costs associated with business travel combined with the increased need for demand generation programs that enable you to better engage your audience and also a global audience.

In the past, virtual events and webcasting have been used to optimize demand generation programs. Moving forward, we are working with our customers to help them further optimize their audience generation and getting more people to participate in a webcast, as well as how to create a more compelling event experience. We are also focusing on the follow-up after the event, in terms of lead scoring and allowing customers to qualify the leads from their webcasts before they pass them on to sales. In addition, there is opportunity to use webcasting to nurture those prospects and leads moving forward.

DGR: How would you describe your approach to demand generation and you share some insights into how you plan to integrate that approach into ON24?

Persson: My approach over the past several years has developed into a very systematic approach to demand generation, and that is very much the approach that ON24 has had as well. Really moving away from the traditional campaign approach, to more of a prospect maturation process, which allows us to provide a more engaging experience with our target markets and really position ON24 as a trusted advisor among our prospects. Rather than focusing on one-off campaigns, and then moving on the next month, we are looking to create more of an ongoing conversation with our target markets.

DGR: When you look at ON24 as a company, where do you see the biggest opportunities and room for growth? How much room for expansion do you see in the traditional web seminar business?

Persson: There is a tremendous growth opportunity among our existing base of large enterprise customers, coming back to the need for helping them optimize the use of virtual events for demand generation. We want to provide them tools for audience generation. Many of our customers have only been using our services for the actual event. We also have tools to help generate a larger audience, such as video-based invitations, and video-based banners which can help drive interest and participation in your event. And then after the event, we have extensive lead scoring capabilities which helps qualify opportunities. Some companies have thousands of participants in their event and need to decide who to call first. Our tools can help rank the leads and prioritize them before they hand the over to the sales team, or put them into a nurturing program.

DGR: ON24 recently announced its expansion into the virtual show platform. What kind of runway do you see there and will your marketing approach for this platform be different than the current business?

Persson: We are moving back to a whole education process where webcasting was five years ago-- very educational approach in our marketing efforts. It’s all about getting customers exposed to what a virtual show is and get them to attend their first show so they get to experience it.
From our side, it is going to be so important to create a very compelling experience for participants in a virtual show. So one thing we are heavily focused and we have invested heavily is to truly customize the virtual show. As a business executive, you don’t want to attend a virtual show that has a cartoon type of feel to it, you want something more engaging. It’s about educating the market and making sure that everyone’s first experience exceeds their expectations.

DGR: How about the Insight 24 business, will that be part of your focus as well, and if so, what are your plans to increase the awareness and utilization of that platform?

Persson: That business has really taken off. It’s very much an extension to what we do, extending the shelf life for the content you have already generated. It really provides a greater return on your investment so you can continue to generate leads after the event is completed. You only pay for the leads you want and the lists you are getting are pre-qualified and ready for contact.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New IAB Email Report Lays Out Good Behavior For Data Management

By John Gaffney, Senior Analyst

When it comes to email marketing maybe we all just need to get along. That was the main message conveyed in the Internet Advertising Bureau’s best practice report released last week, which was notable for its emphasis on “trust” and the email “ecosystem.”

With most marketers relying on email as the main driver of lead generation campaigns, the report “Email Data Management Best Practices” was light on new research, but confirmed many industry practices on acquiring and retaining customer addresses. Its goal in outlining the technology involved in effective practices was to “promote consumer and advertiser trust in and adoption of the email channel and to encourage responsible practices by all involved in the email ecosystem.”

By acting responsibly, the report stated, each email sender will build trust for itself as well as competitors. It made several recommendations. For lead generation, the most important were the following three:

Informed consent: “Senders should only send commercial email to individuals who have provided informed consent,” stated the report. In the interest of building community trust it urged all email senders and providers to commit to a “pledge” That pledge, which is also endorsed by TRUSTe, requires that marketers continue to serve only names that have been acquired via opt-in policies, and also provide free and frequent access to unsubscribe links.

The informed consent section of the report also addressed list owners, list rentals, and advertising on email via email ad networks. “Many companies that build email address lists (List Owners) are not experts on the complexities of monetizing that email list through advertising. Accordingly, these companies often contract with third-party List Managers with a core competency in monetizing email lists through advertising,” the report stated. “If List Owners share email addresses with List Managers for monetization purposes, significant due diligence procedures is necessary to validate the third parties’ compliance with CAN-SPAM and ensure adequate protection of the data.”

Data collection: Here the IAB sounded not so much a warning as an advisory tone. It recommends “clear, conspicuous and repeated notice of data collection” where that is the goal of the email. “Be clear about what you are offering the consumer. State the benefits, the content of the emails, the frequency and when the subscriber should expect the first email,” is stated. It also recommended keeping permission current and in an especially relevant section for lead generation, reaching out to subsets of customers who are not opening or clicking on emails frequently.

Authentication: Because most companies are dealing with relatively small sets of customers and potential customer in lead generation activities, many overlook the need to authenticate their email communications as well as the domain they are sent form. Here the IAB urged all email senders to authenticate all email domains by the end of the year. It is partnering with the Authentication & Online Trust Alliance (AOTA) on that front.

The report also includes extensive sections on handling bouncebacks, unsubscribe policies, and third party list usage. The full report is available here

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

3 Myths That Reveal The Hidden Truth About Campaign Measurement

By Mike Gospe, Founder, Kickstart Alliance

The single, basic truth about world-class campaign management is that it is easy to say, but hard to do. It is hard to do because to do it properly requires following a disciplined, systematic approach that becomes both a guide and a tool for helping a company make better marketing and sales investment decisions in order to optimize its performance. Done effectively and consistently, integrated campaign management will create a tighter company-prospect/customer bond and produce a differentiated level of loyalty so that when the prospect is ready to buy, your company is top on their list.

The term “integrated campaign management” is not new. And, most every marketing VP will say they are executing marketing campaigns. However, upon closer inspection, many marketing teams fall victim to at least one of the three following myths.

Myth #1: A busy marketing team is an effective marketing team.

In today’s global marketplace there is no shortage of work that must be done. Everyone has (or should have) goals and objectives that drive their day-to-day work. However, many companies (both Fortune 500 as well as start-ups) find themselves executing a variety of marketing projects that aren’t really part of an overall defined marketing plan. In other words, they are busy writing press releases, generating emails, coordinating webinars, but none of these activities are linked to each other. At the end of the day, they have produced “marketing popcorn” – discrete marketing projects that feel good when accomplished, but don’t clearly nurture an ongoing dialog with a prospect or customer.

World-class marketing organizations avoid this trap by crafting a campaign strategy, with clear goals and metrics that guide a dialog over a set period of time. They market to their target audience as if they are playing a game of chess – thinking one, two, or even three steps ahead. For each marketing campaign, a “blueprint” illustrates the specific activities and offers that will be used to engage the prospect in a meaningful dialog.

This takes time to plan, and discipline to follow. But, companies like Symantec, Informatica and HP will tell you that the pay-off is far greater when an integrated campaign strategy has been defined before the marketing tactics are deployed.

Myth #2: Sales people are a challenge to deal with; it’s too much trouble to coordinate with them.

When marketing teams act independently from sales, the results will always be less than optimal. There is an almost unlimited number of ways for marketing to be busy. The key question is what activities should marketing be executing (and when) that will help the sales team close more deals more quickly?

The marketing-sales alignment should be a topic of every day discussion, not just once a year. By that I mean that developing a joint sales and marketing strategy at the beginning of the year and then discussing feedback in real time and making course corrections should be a standard operating procedure for all companies. Some companies will leave this interaction to the discretion of the individual; however, world-class marketing organizations drive and encourage this process by setting up a series of marketing-sales touch points to review progress quarterly, if not monthly. In short, marketing and sales teams should be working with a “hand in glove” expectation and mentality. As an example, many companies hold quarterly marketing-sales Summits. These ½ day to full day meetings are typically led by the CMO, but include representatives from corporate and regional marketing and sales teams. These are interactive meetings designed to create tighter bonds between the teams while solving business issues in real time.

Myth #3: Realistically, we must be open to all revenue opportunities. “We can’t say no.”

Of the three myths, this one is probably the toughest for marketing teams to wrestle with because there can be some painful fallout by saying “no.” In fact, it is a common frustration for marketing teams when they go through a planning process that focuses attention on a specific market only to find that the sales team has landed a big fish in a totally separate industry, requiring the marketing team to back-peddle to support the closing of this specific sale. Unfortunately, this is usually the rule rather than the exception. Regardless, the most effective marketing teams are those that have the courage to help the executive and sales teams drive focus and agree upon which target markets and which opportunities are the most important. Trying to be all things to all markets always leads to sub-standard results and confused customers and prospects.

Now, there is a common misconception about this myth and how to address it. When marketing drives focus, it is really saying where, when, and how its proactive marketing investment and activities should be executed. It is not saying that it won’t accept a sale from some other non-target customer. In other words, a company may decide to execute a series of webinars, sales events, and direct mail to the financial and hospitality industry; but, if a medium-sized retail business wants to make a purchase, the company will happily sell them the product.

To help alleviate this frustration and provide a venue for productive discussion and decision-making, world-class companies like Aspect, HP, Sun have formed cross-functional executive steering committees to address business, marketing and sales disagreements. The steering committee, when used properly, can be a very effective tool and guide for escalating important issues that have a direct impact on the vision and mission of the company.

About the author
Mike Gospe is a senior marketing strategist with KickStart Alliance (www.kickstartall.com) and author of the new book, Marketing Campaign Development. The book explores techniques and templates designed to help marketing teams discover their optimum marcom mix while successfully navigating internal politics in order to allow their campaigns to flourish. For more information on these and other tips and tricks, please contact Mike at (650) 464-7662 or email at mikeg@kickstartall.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Aberdeen Study Shows Firms Can Increase Satisfaction, Loyalty By Tracking Customer Feedback

By Debbie Hauss, Contributing Editor

Best-in-class companies increased customer satisfaction by 26% and customer retention by 26% in 12 months, as reported by Aberdeen Research in a recent study titled Customer Feedback Management: Mind if I Ask You a Few Questions? To complete this study, Aberdeen surveyed more than 300 organizations in a diverse set of industries between April and June 2008.

With the advent and growing use of social networking and the Internet, today’s customer feedback looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago. Customer feedback can come from numerous sources including blogs, ratings and review websites and peer-to-peer networks, to name a few.

Customer feedback collection and management becomes even more valuable in a challenging economy, in which companies are being forced to reduce spending and other new initiatives and focus inward on improving the satisfaction of current customers.

Today’s companies “have no choice but to actively encourage customer feedback and to treat customers as strategic assets in the incessant quest to improve operations, marketing, research, products development and the overall customer experience,” says Aberdeen in its report.

That said, many companies are maintaining or increasing their spending on customer feedback management. According to Aberdeen, 41% of survey respondents say they will increase spending on customer feedback initiatives within the next fiscal year. The goals? To retain existing customers, attract new customers and identify new revenue sources.

Aberdeen uses three performance metrics to define its best-in-class companies:

1. Customer Satisfaction = analyzing feedback and responding quickly with necessary changes.
2. Customer Retention = responding to customer complaints and suggestions.
3. Customer-Focused Innovation = using innovative methods to meet the ongoing needs of customers.

Top companies clearly define their strategies for continuous improvements in these areas, and do so by the following methods:

• Define best practices for using customer feedback for actionable initiatives
• Calculate revenue derived from customer feedback initiatives
• Create an internal customer feedback management team
• Set up a clearly defined method for collecting and responding to customer feedback
• Communicate the importance of customer feedback metrics to all key company stakeholders

To track customer feedback, companies deemed Best-in-Class by Aberdeen use the following four primary channels: email, corporate website/ecommerce cite, call center, and direct mail. Generally, customers appear to be happy to share their feedback. According to Aberdeen, more than half (53%) of all companies say they do not need to use incentives to motivate customers to complete surveys and provide feedback. The key here, though, is to take action based on input from customers, and make sure they know you’ve done just that.

The most successful companies are actively analyzing, reacting and responding to customer feedback. Those that have little or no involvement in customer feedback management must first define the performance metrics, proactively inform customers of any changes resulting from the feedback, and bring on board employees dedicated to customer feedback management.

Once the first steps are in place and are working productively, then a company can look at enhancing the customer feedback strategies by analyzing customer feedback data and defining best practices for using that data.

Finally, companies must be wary not to become stale in their customer feedback management practices. To stay on top of industry trends, companies need to continually evaluate the relevancy of customer feedback management strategies. In addition, they must take into consideration the relative value of different types of customers and weight the feedback based on their value as a customer.

“By integrating customer feedback into a centralized database where it can be married with individual customer profile data, including purchase history and lifetime value projections, companies can become increasingly adept at knowing when (and when not) to respond with VIP service,” suggests Aberdeen in the report.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Leveraging Facebook For Business, 7 Steps For BtoB Marketers

By Michael Goldberg, Associate Director of Marketing, Datran Media

Good business involves getting social with your clients and prospects. While marketing certainly plays an important role in demonstrating the value of your products and services, communicating with people on a personal level helps close deals and increases the likelihood of establishing long-term relationships.

This is not an unfamiliar agenda for businesses that routinely network through phone calls, set-up meetings and attend trade shows. However, many businesses fail to recognize the same inherent opportunity in social networking sites like Facebook.

If you’ve ever shared a photo online, written a product review, or watched a viral video, you can call yourself a social media user. Social media platforms have gotten so big so fast, you may have not even noticed that it has become part of our daily routine - both at work and home. Until recently, many marketers associated social networks with a fad of the younger generation, but sites like Facebook are clearly changing that perception.

With more than 90 million active users, Facebook is the most popular social network, and the fourth most-trafficked website in the world, according to comScore. And with more than half of Facebook’s users out of college and users 25 years and older representing the site’s fastest growing demographic, chances are pretty good your clients and prospects are using it, too.

Facebook for Business

Facebook recently opened its social infrastructure to businesses by providing them with the ability to create dedicated “fan pages” and interact with customers on a whole new level. These pages are completely free to set up, and allow marketers to send updates to their audience or “fans”, post events, upload photos or videos, and engage their audience with discussion boards. What’s more, the audience can interact on these pages with other members by writing messages on a company’s virtual “wall” or sharing opinions and reviews.

Word-of-Mouth at its Best

When your fans interact with your Facebook page, the actions they take are automatically generated into social stories. These stories are published to the News Feed, which friends may see the next time they log into Facebook. The stories link back to your Facebook page, increasing the likelihood that others will notice and interact with them, which generates more social stories and drives even more traffic to your page.

What is a Facebook News Feed?

The News Feed is one of the main components of the customized home page presented to each Facebook user. It sits in the center column of the page and serves as the hub of the Facebook experience. The bulk of the messaging users receive comes into their News Feed, and it is the most conspicuous place for marketers to message to Facebook users.

What is a Facebook Notification?

The Notification feed is the other main component of the Facebook home page. This area of the page is generally reserved for information regarding requests made by the user – friend requests, relationship requests, event and group requests, photo tag requests, and others. The Notification area is also where friend birthday reminders are served.

Facebook Applications
While most “apps” are dedicated towards non-business-related events, harnessing this technology can provide benefit to your brand and organization by cresting additional brand awareness and offering a level of interactivity that you can not attain anywhere else. Building an app is simple and you can find instructions on how to across the Web.

Why Communicate with Users in Facebook?
Many users spend a large percentage of their online time within the Facebook interface and rely on it heavily to stay in touch with their friends and organizations. For these users, Facebook has become their inbox of choice. Highly targeted, relevant messaging to these users within the Facebook interface will surely yield better response rates than traditional messaging to their email inbox.
You can also increase the viral distribution of your Facebook Page with Facebook Social Ads. Attach an ad creative to stories in News Feed or in the left-hand Ad Space. Social Ads increase the number of friends who will see the story when they visit Facebook, and you can also target the ads to specific demographics.

Getting Started

As you have learned, Facebook offers you an unparalleled opportunity to connect with your consumers – in an environment they are comfortable and in which makes your message more meaningful. Here a few actions you can take to get started immediately.

  1. Set up an account on Facebook. You need a personal account to be able to create a page for your company.

  2. Follow Facebook’s simple steps for creating a Facebook page. Be sure to label your page under the appropriate category.

  3. Click on “edit page” to add a logo, company description, products, photos, etc.

  4. Be sure to become a “fan” of your own page. Once your page has at least one fan, it will be indexed by Facebook’s search engine so others who enter your company name will be able to find you.

  5. Promote your Facebook page on your website, blog and in emails with Facebook’s prerequisite promotional banner.

  6. You can choose to set up ad campaigns through Facebook to help attract more customers.

  7. Share company news, events, and opinions with your fans and start engaging them about your business on a completely personal level.

  8. Michael Goldberg is the Associate Director of Marketing at Datran Media. In his role, Michael works with the team to produce, measure and grow marketing campaigns across media and search. Prior to joining Datran Media, Michael was employed by iCrossing, Where Magazine and ParadyszMatera. Michael received a B.A. in English from the University at Buffalo and leverages his training and experience to advance Datran Media's brand and marketing communications programs. He can be reached at: mgoldberg@datranmedia.com.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

10 Ways to Improve Your Conversion Rate

By Jay Bower, President of Crossbow Group

Ok, you got your prospect to raise his hand. Now comes the hard part: turning him into a customer. Here are 10 ways to address the challenge in the age of accountability.
  1. Acknowledge leads instantaneously and personally. In the age of the nanosecond and Instant Messaging, if you wait even days to follow up a lead, forget about it. Swiftness counts when you’re in a competitive situation. And make sure your “Thanks for your interest” has a real person’s name on it – people buy from other people more readily than they buy from corporations.

  2. Let your lead generation programs do more qualifying of prospects. First, the more you target your audience, the more qualified your leads will be, and the higher your conversion rates. The kind of offer you make is a qualifier in itself. If you make it too good, you’ll attract prospects that will never convert. White Papers (and other “editorial” incentives) usually generate the right kind of response. You can ask certain questions of new prospects to qualify them without turning off the lead faucet.

  3. Develop segment- and offer-specific landing pages. If you segment your lead generation advertising, carrying that segmentation through to the landing page will improve conversion results dramatically. Using the landing page to remind CFOs of the particular advantage of your service to them, to acknowledge the offer again in specific terms, and to point the way to the most relevant pages on your web site harnesses the personalization power of technology.

  4. Deliver more than prospects expect to receive. The way you handle leads – from generating them, through nurturing, to conversion – tells prospects how they can expect to be treated as customers. Go overboard, especially for your best prospects. Courier material instead of putting it into the mail. Add an extra (but relevant) White Paper they didn’t request. Give them a particular insight about their industry or about a competitor.

  5. Engage in a lot of testing. Most testing in lead programs involves the first step – getting people to respond. But testing after they respond can have as big an impact on the success of your program. You will want to look at the communication channels – mail, email, and phone – and when to use each. Offers for taking the next step should be evaluated. You can even look at testing how many “next steps” there should be.

  6. Increase your product’s or service’s relevance as the conversion process unfolds. Even if you segment your lead generation efforts, at the beginning of the process you often have to treat prospects en masse. It is only when you begin to learn about the prospect’s unique needs that you can begin tailoring lead nurturing and moving toward a one-to-one relationship. As you discover new information about prospects, communicate additional ways your product or service is relevant.

  7. Align systems and inform personnel. Make sure your phone reps and sales people know how leads come in, where they’re housed, how they’re scored and how to use CRM and/or SFM systems like Salesforce.com and Siebel. Let your entire organization know your historical conversation rates and current expectations. Get senior sales and marketing management to buy into new target.

  8. Develop a lead scoring system and marketing communications streams consistent with opportunity potential and sales coverage. Not all leads are equal in value. If you model or profile how certain prospect segments converted to customers in the past, you can apply this model to current leads. “A” prospects may get six conversion efforts, including two high impact direct mail packages and two phone calls; “C” prospects might get only one or two efforts executed at minimal cost and maybe even through “Autorespond” technology. By focusing on best prospects, conversion rates will rise.

  9. Invest as much in conversion creative as you do for lead generation. You’ve spent a lot of money to get the horse to water. Make sure your creative persuades them to drink. Generating leads requires less persuasion than converting them because you can employ powerful offers to get prospects to raise their hands.

  10. Provide short questionnaires to determine leads’ BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) score. As prospects become more trusting and more invested in the sales process, they are more willing to answer questions and provide information. Based on the answers, build follow-on communications consistent with their level of interest.

One last thing to consider: using an outside resource with expertise in your market or with your specific need. Your costs may increase short term, but I’d bet your cost per sale will decrease significantly if you’ve chosen well.

Jay has broad strategic and implementation experience in relationship/continuity marketing and e-commerce. He's led strategic and tactical engagements with over 250 companies ranging from Fortune 500 multinationals to start-ups. He has been quoted in USA Today, Fortune, and BusinessWeek. Jay is a published author, having co-written The Official Guide to One-Write Plus (Amazon sales rank 2,362,943!) He has a B.A. in Philosophy from Colgate University, an M.B.A. from The Stern School of Business, NYU, and completed the e-B2B Program at Harvard Business School. Jay can be contacted at jbower@crossbowgroup.com or 203-222-1645.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tap Into Inbound Inquiries To Insure Relevance Of Outbound Campaigns

We all know that things have changed -- buyers, not companies, are in charge and marketers are on the hook to play to customers' terms. And the terms that customers dictate require marketers to be prepared for being helpful with inbound inquiries to satisfy and persuade their prospects. That requires not only things like online search engine marketing to be found when customers are looking. It also requires multichannel customer analytics and intelligent systems to present the next best (i.e. relevant) offers on the spot while customers are inquiring by phone or still browsing the web site.

For example, within two weeks of moving to California, my family and I made a plethora of purchases to make ourselves at home. Yet, in our case, the telemarketers that were haunting our new phone number as soon as it got connected missed out on the opportunity of selling to us. From the moment when our Internet connection became live, we went researching online to make our buying decisions. At that point, the dialog was in our hands and any ads that we saw were relevant to our search and we were likely to click on them. As long as we believed that it was our own idea to do so, we were highly motivated, for example, to examine car financing options.

Although buyers are not listening when you talk, they have become more information hungry than ever in their research for buying decisions. This constitutes a great opportunity for those marketers who know how to be at the ready with the right information at the right time.

Another interesting shift is that while markets are increasingly concerned with their multi-channel strategies (as they should be), they also need to be aware that buyers do not think in terms of channel, rather the convenient way of accomplishing our goal. After all the product research my family did online during our shopping spree, we left most websites without completing a purchase.

For example, after narrowing down our choice of car make and model, the exact car and financing option that we picked was still sold to us the old-fashioned way—namely offline, and by a friendly sales person at the dealership. Of course, the opposite happened too. When we found products of interest in stores, we used comparison-shopping engines to find better prices online.

Marketers should take advantage of all inbound interactions to deliver the best offer, rather than just outbound messaging. If an offer doesn't work, they should have that next best (i.e. relevant) offer ready to present, regardless of which channel the interaction came through. And, most of all, because the buyer is in charge, marketers not only should, but need to focus on being helpful, not just on selling.

Akin Arikan is director of internet marketing at Unica Corp. and author of the recently published book, "Multichannel Marketing: Metrics and Methods for On and Offline Success."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

M2O: Matching Market & Media To The Right Offer Accelerates The Pipeline

By Dan McDade, President, PointClear

Ah, Saturday. An early game of tennis, some family time, maybe a power nap with the fragrant promise of the choice T-bone you’ve been waiting to grill tempting you onward through the day. Sun starts to sink, you saunter out to pre-heat the gas grill to searing readiness. Turning the knob, you get…nothing. The bolt especially designed to secure the fuel line has vanished.

You vaguely recall tossing the extra one provided by the manufacturer into an overflowing box of miscellaneous fasteners you keep in the basement. Unearthing it, you are faced with at least 158 shiny, seemingly identical bolts – but only one will work. It’s getting dark, you’re getting hungry, and the longed-for explosion of chargrilled beef taste is slipping further away, buried in 157 indistinguishable bits of metal that aren’t quite right.

Now you know how your sales team feels.

The very best of them are unwaveringly focused on the end result. They visualize that steak, they hunger to sink their teeth into as big a bite as they possibly can, they know just how high the heat should be, just when to grab the meat off the grate and slap it down on the plate, sizzling and perfect. If you give them one bolt, or even three or four, they’ll test them and turn them, find the one that works, hook up that gas and turn up the flames.

If you give them 158, they’ll throw out the box and start looking around for another way to cook.

This is exactly what happens with typical lead generation. Even in an eroded U.S. economy that makes finding juicy deals harder and harder, about 94 percent of generated leads are not pursued by internal sales organizations. Pared-down sales organizations, reduced to their best performers and eager to close, are frustrated by the very thing that marketers are rewarded for: a mountain of leads. Rather than sort through a motley group of prospects – some not qualified, others not sales ready – they abandon all but the most obvious and substitute their own, usually less successful, prospecting.

Lead Generation Becomes Lead Honing
With most companies being forced to do more with fewer resources, figuring out which leads will cut to the chase fastest becomes someone else’s problem. Marketing has done its job in initiating interest, sales converts the most interested to revenue, but who takes the existing market curiosity, sharpens it by exposing underlying pressure points, whets interest over repeated contact and files away the unqualified prospects to point sales to the most potent opportunities? A trusted prospecting partner who understands the market, the way to approach it and the messages that resonate most with prospective customers across the spectrum of purchase-readiness.

We use a discipline called M2O – Market, Media and Offer –to pinpoint a client’s best prospects, build familiarity with their organization and need and use that intelligence to craft messaging that directly targets their state of readiness. Those simple, sound practices often get lost between a large-scale marketing campaign and the immediate pressure to close in a sales pitch. But they are key to reaping the most revenue from both efforts.

Market? What Market?
Many marketers, reluctant to miss any avenue of opportunity, define their target as broadly as possible and in so doing miss the chance to convincingly address the most potent prospects. A typical example is a company that perceives its target market to be the Fortune 500, when the most likely purchasers are actually a much smaller audience within that group. Companies that are quicker to see the value proposition of a client’s product, whether due to immediate business pains or because they are looking to enhance their own capabilities, are readier to respond at higher levels than others, so it makes sense to identify those segments and market to them specifically. Others, though still qualified, may be more hesitant and require different touch strategies and messaging before their sales potential can mature. They are still good sources of revenue, though, and if left behind in the rush to close will most likely end up directing that revenue to a competitor. Recognizing and nurturing their potential is crucial to pipeline development, future revenue and market share.

By applying market intelligence and finely-defined segmentation strategies, we have been successful in increasing sales performance while actually reducing marketing costs.

Reaching Out – The Right Way
Marketing campaigns can establish brand image without the prospect sensing a direct touch from the marketer. Sales calls can be insistent enough to irritate. Good lead honing falls somewhere between the two – enough contact to engage but enough space to respect the demands on a busy prospect.

The trick is knowing how to balance the contacts between both timing and type of outreach. Mixed media programs that use a combination of quality outbound calls, voicemail messages, email and direct mail, optimally scheduled for greatest effect, are the most effective use of marketing dollars. Every day, a large percentage of leads are abandoned by sales simply because the prospect did not respond to a few, single channel contact attempts. Sales people generally do not have the time or patience to make the multiple touches, which can run from as few as eight to as many as thirty, to identify, qualify and nurture prospects to a point of sales-readiness. Even immediate-need opportunities can take as many as a dozen attempts by sales to become effectively engaged.

A multi-touch strategy also allows the prospect to be contacted in his or her preferred manner. Most busy decision-makers are not willing or able to arbitrarily pre-empt their business day to respond to a telephone sales contact, but can reply to an email or voicemail at their convenience and schedule a time for follow up. Some prefer the anonymity of email, others are more comfortable with the personal appeal of voicemail. A combination, properly timed and executed, opens all channels of communication and thereby opens opportunities.

What Can You Say to Convince the Prospect?
As little as possible. Effective salespeople know that good prospects sell themselves by talking about their particular business challenges, opportunities on the horizon, and emerging issues that will affect business goals. Asking the right questions and then listening carefully to direct further discussion uncovers pain points that are most likely to motivate purchase. When the prospect’s needs are understood and can be matched to the benefits of a client’s product, the sales nurturing process is leap-frogged ahead. Testing messages and offers such as guarantees, discounts and extended financing within market sub-sections can result in powerful learning and increase campaign results dramatically.

What remains imperative is that contacts, whether direct or remote, be made in a professional manner, in accordance with best practices gleaned through market experience. Most of the time, these contacts will establish the prospect’s first active impression of the company, and the person making the contact must be assured, professional, approachable and credible. This won’t happen by accident. Training, constant coaching, a proven process and a thorough knowledge of the client’s offer are crucial to developing trust, interest and purchase interest. In addition, results should be constantly reviewed to assess the best strategies for each client, each product and each target segment.

Our clients have found that a prospect pool enticed by marketing and honed by the M2O process delivers leads that need their product, fit their qualifying parameters, are favorably pre-disposed to their brand and are ready to be sold. The sales teams, armed with precise business information on the prospects’ pains and priorities, are ready to sell.

The gas catches, the grate sears, and the meat sizzles. Slice off a big piece and bite down.

Dan McDade is the president of PointClear, a business-to-business sales and marketing services firm. Their industry focused solutions provide clients with high quality sales opportunities, effective market coverage and valuable market intelligence. PointClear clients include Ingenix, SGI, Microsoft and two of the world’s largest consultancies. Dan can be reached directly at dan.mcdade@pointclear.com or via phone at 678-533-2722.