We work with a lot of highly specialized, technical manufacturing companies and one of the things we've heard a lot over the years is that no one wants to read about them. We've had clients who thought their products and services were too complex and technical to drive substantial internet traffic to things like a blog or social media account.
The thinking goes that highly technical fields, such as fiberglass reinforced plastic parts for cooling towers, aren't flashy enough to be interesting to read about. If someone is in the market for these kinds of goods and services, then they're going to want spec sheets and wouldn't be interested in regular blog posts.
There is one big problem with this line of thinking. It isn't true.
Well, to be fair, part of the underlying assumption is true. It is true that there isn't as much interest in something like laser marking systems as there is in celebrity gossip or home décor. Highly specialized engineering and manufacturing-based blogs and other content probably isn't going to go viral, retweeted by teens and pop stars. But that's not really the point of this kind of content anyway. So, what is the point?
Content With a Job
Every piece of content needs to have a purpose, a job. When it comes to technical content the job is fourfold:
3. Qualify leads
4. Contribute to the Inbound Sales process
To really understand and get the most out of technical content you need to keep the purpose of the content in the forefront of your mind.
Straight up good old SEO is a prime use for technical content. By definition technical content is long tail. Not many people search 'pipe beveling machines for gas lines' or 'fuel additives for power generators,' but when they do, you can be fairly certain that they want to know what you are about. Industrial SEO is measured in quality of leads, not quantity. Most industrial companies need 10s and 100s of leads to make a huge sales difference as opposed to a consumer-oriented seller that needs thousands just to move the needle a little bit. Some of our clients are thrilled when we get them two or three great leads per month making the long tail part of SEO an ideal tactic to grow revenue.
Technical information might seem dull, but it has great potential for education. One of the great things about working with technical and industrial companies is that there is always something to write about. There are always topics to cover that the average reader might not know a lot about, or might like clarification on. New applications, new inventions, even new industries always provide lots of topics in which to place in context the solutions of an industrial company. Problems multiply and solutions are always in demand so the technical company that is writing will never lack for topics to address.
Technical and complex areas of manufacturing aren't going to dethrone the latest Justin Bieber stunt, but that's ok. Good technical content is going to help you pull in leads that are high quality. Why? Because a Justin Beiber fan isn't going to be in the market for a laser marking system, but someone who downloads a case study about laser marking probably is. Judicious use of prmeium content will help qualify leads. Developing content that matches sales cycles shows you where technical buyers are in the sales process. Someone who asks for a request for quote is probably heading for the bottom of the sales funnel. Someone downloading a whitepaper about the used of fiberglass resins in the chemical processing industry is in your world, but may just be beginning to research a project and is an ideal candidate for lead nurturing.
Contribute to the Inbound Sales Process
The right case study sent to a good prospect builds credibility for inbound-focused salesperson. A relevant blog article builds credibility for a salesperson as more than an order taker. A vibrant LinkedIn group where the latest technical information is shared and discussed positions the salesperson as an expert in their field.
Using content produced for inbound marketing as a sales enablement tool is the hallmark of an inbound salesperson. Inbound is all about attracting people using marketing that is relevant to them. Inbound sales is about being the type of salesperson who prospects want to engage with and not hold their nose and tolerate.
Sharing great content, focused on prospects, delivering technical solutions that they need, using the channels they use, is the right way to drive online engagement for technical and industrial companies.
Late last week, I found myself with 114 new emails in my inbox. Not unusual, but not wonderful to wake up to. But there was one that really caught my eye. The email was from J.Crew, and the subject line read, “Easiest wedding ever – two steps to the perfect bridal party.” As a recently engaged bride-to-be, knee deep in wedding planning mode, my curiosity took over and I opened the email.
This was the only email of the bunch I opened. And I am sure I don’t need to tell you what happened to the remaining 113 (insert evil laugh here).
So what made that email so unique it avoided the dreaded trash folder? Well it just so happens that earlier this week I was perusing the bridal gowns and bridesmaid’s dresses on Jcrew.com. Unlike the other 113 emails that were offering free shipping, half off pants, BOGO sweaters and gosh knows what else, J.Crew used behavioral intelligence to develop a message that really resonated with me. Sure it's much easier to create one-size-fits-all emails, but easier does not always equate to the best results.
While most marketers agree email personalization is important, not many companies today are leveraging the power of personalization. In fact, according to the 2013 Experian Digital Marketer Report, 70 percent of brands are not personalizing emails sent to their subscribers.
For those companies that take the extra step of creating personalized campaigns, the results speak for themselves. Here are a few more interesting statistics from the report.
- Personalized promotional emails had a 29 percent higher unique open rate and 41 percent higher unique click rate compared to non-personalized emails
- Personalized triggered emails had a 25 percent higher unique open rate and a 51 percent higher click rate
- Personalized emails generate transaction rates and revenue per email that is more than six times higher than non-personalized emails
With the tools available to marketers today, creating a personalized experience for your audience in well within your reach. Personalization is much more than including the person’s first name in the subject line or body copy. A truly personal email speaks to the subscriber’s pain points, preferences, fears and stage within the buying cycle.
Developing buyer personas is a great way to uncover a potential buyer’s preferences, pain points, fears, etc. Targeting smaller subsets rather than blasting your entire audience with a generic offer often increases engagement rate and, in turn, conversions.
Remember simpler is not always better. Is your company part of the 70 percent underutilizing the power personalization?
Shannon Fuldauer has a B2B and B2C eCommerce Marketing background including roles as Vice President of Marketing & Sales Support, and subsequently Vice President of Public Relations & SEO Services, for CareerBoard.com. She has expertise in digital marketing and advanced email communications.
photo credit: m-c
I'm a huge fan of the movie Taken. In general, Liam Neeson is the man. But, he's especially the man in this movie. If you've ever watched the first Taken movie, I'm sure you remember the scene where his daughter calls him from underneath a bed in her friend's cousin's apartment in Paris, as she's about to be abducted by what turns out to be some thugs running a prostitution ring. The kidnapper picks up the phone and Liam notices the change in breathing. He then delivers an amazing set of lines over the phone from across the world. If you haven't seen the scene, here you go...
If you don't want to watch it or don't remember the scene, here's what he says:
I don't know who you are
I don't know what you want
If you're looking for ransom, I can tell you that I don't have any money
But what I do have is a very unique set of skills
A set of skills I have acquired over a very long career
Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you
If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it
I will not look for you. I will not pursue you.
But if you don't...
I will look for you. I will find you. I will kill you.
As you can see, Liam has confidence. He is direct and concise. He knows what he's capable of delivering and he's confident in telling the guy on the other end of the line what he can do. He is appropriately aggressive for the situation, but in a calm, cool and collected way. Anyone who is a father can relate to wanting to react in that way. Not many of us could. Very few of us would be able to deliver on the threat, either.
Salespeople need to be confident too. Salespeople need to be calm and collected. Even in difficult situations, they need to state clearly what they can do, set expectations properly, and then follow through on their words. They need to be appropriately confident so that their prospect believes them.
Just like very few (if any) of us would ever be able to react the way Liam did in the movie, salespeople do not commonly exhibit the appropriate level of confidence. I've found that it's important to remind salespeople that they are absolute experts at what they do. Salespeople often need to be reminded of how much of an expert they are before they can project it. Sometimes, they have it. Sometimes, when stress hits them at the end of their quota period or they lose a deal, they really lose confidence. A sales manager isn't always there to remind them how awesome they are. So, sometimes, it makes sense for salespeople to develop a habit of reminding themselves through sales affirmations, so they can project the confidence they need to project. At Inbound13, in my "Transformational Selling" talk, I delivered these lines to a room full of inbound marketing agency owners, as a reminder to them that they are experts and that as they talk to prospects, they should be confident in their expertise:
I know who you are.
I know what you want.
If you're looking for an easy answer, I can tell you that I don't have one
But what I do have is a very unique set of skills
A set of skills that I have acquired over a very long career
Skills that make me a savior for people like you
If you buy from me now, we will make progress faster
But if you don't..
I won't look for you. I won't find you. I can't help you.
$10 to the first person who uses it on a sales call at closing time. Have your prospect comment here after they've bought. It's pretty much what a great salesperson should be able to say anyways, if they've done it right.
I've been using the phrase: More, Better, Faster for a few months now. Maybe a year. Can't remember the time when I originally coined it, or at least made it popular around HubSpot. But, I found myself always asking people, "How do we do more of that?" and challenging people, "But if we did it this way, wouldn't it be better?" Or "How can we get there faster?" I'm not the only one that asks these questions. They are pretty much the questions we're all asking all of the time. It's a big part of our culture to always be improving. So, I started saying, "More. Better. Faster." a lot. I end emails with it, when appropriate... which is almost always, of course.
This past Tuesday, I presented HubSpot's new sales methodology to the senior leadership team. There was a big slide that said. "More. Better. Faster" in big bold letters. Here's an article and slideshare he wrote this morning called, "Sell More, Better, Faster with Inbound Selling." You know it's good when the CEO picks up on it and starts using it in our public positioning... I love @bhalligan's vision on Inbound Selling. See his slideshare below:
Love this social media 'setup and go' checklist
. Set goals first. If traffic, leads and sales are part of the goal, then gotta have the next focus be on content creation. Then, using social to share. Can't get much value out of social unless you're actively creating, publishing and sharing content.
The Social Media Implementation Checklist – An infographic by the team at Maximize Social Media
In July of 2012 we began working with a company that designs and manufactures custom fiberglass pipe, large diameter fiberglass ductwork, fiberglass tanks, fiberglass vessels, other equipment and services relating to fiberglass products. This company is a subsidiary of a larger parent company, and for a number of years was content to supply cooling tower components for the parent company's projects. We began working with them because they felt it was time to branch out and had turned to HubSpot and inbound marketing to help them reach new markets.
Like a lot of manufacturing companies, many of the companies within their industry were using very high level, general keywords. Our client, like their competition, was targeting keywords like fiberglass pipe and fiberglass tanks. As you can imagine, the competition for these keywords was fierce, but also broad. If you searched for fiberglass tanks it would return everything from huge industrial tanks to small tanks for animals.
This is something that a lot of the clients we've worked with have seen. Every company has some high level keywords that are pretty standard across their industry. There is nothing wrong with these keywords, and there is nothing inherently wrong with the leads they bring in. But as you can imagine, a lead that comes to a site looking for a fiberglass animal tank isn't much interested in an industrial fiberglass tank for chlorine storage.
The goal, then, is to generate specifically targeted leads.
1. Identify your wheelhouse
The first step in targeted lead generation is to figure out what it is that makes your different. What do you do that your competition doesn't? What do you do better? What makes your clients choose you?
Our fiberglass client, for example, identified their ability to create targeted industrial solutions as one of their strongest points. The fact that they could create very specific, tailored fiberglass solutions made them stand out from their competition.
You need to identify why your clients are your clients, what makes you stand out, because if you can—then you can move onto step two.
2. Generate long tail keywords
Once you know what makes you stand out, you can start creating long tail keywords targeted at leads who need what you offer.
We created keywords for our client like:
• large diameter fiberglass pipe for waste water
• fiberglass storage tanks for HCL storage
The number of people searching for these keywords is, admittedly, low. On the other hand, if you search for a large diameter fiberglass pipe for waste water then you want what our client offers, not a fiberglass tank for your hamster.
3. Create highly targeted content
Step three is creating content focused on those highly targeted keywords. For our fiberglass manufacturing client, we created a number of pieces of content focused very narrowly on a variety of vertical industries and custom solutions. This meant downloads and blog posts that addressed a narrow set of concerns. For example, the long tail keyword fiberglass storage tanks for HCL storage spawned a download and multiple blog posts about specific clients the company had worked with who needed HCL storage tanks. We also created some posts about HCL, its properties, and challenges associated with storing, hauling, and manufacturing.
These pieces of content did a couple of things for our client. First, this content attracted the leads we were specifically targeting. The leads that converted on landing pages for HCL storage tanks were actually looking for information about HCL storage tanks — no more lost pet store searches! Second, these pieces of content really helped to build our client's credibility. The content we were helping our client create was highly specialized and, a lot of the time, technical. Content like that really resonates with the target buyers in this industry and generated high quality leads.
4. Fill in the blanks
All of the work you've done to get through steps one through three isn't going to get you very far if you neglect all the other aspects of inbound marketing. So step four is doing all of the other bits that make an inbound marketing strategy work.
Without getting into too much detail, that means creating conversion opportunities, landing pages, maintain and engaging in social media, lead nurturing, the works. You're only going to be able to engage in targeted lead generation if you have the internal resources and structure to support it.
Inbound marketing finally gives industrial marketers the tools to target specific targets that match their ideal customer persona. We can stop casting a wide net and hoping to catch a few fish and focus on finding and attracting the right prospects.
About the Author: Todd Hockenberry is the founder of Top Line Results, an inbound marketing agency that specializes in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on manufacturing, technology and capital equipment.
I think it is important to understand the difference between the time we spend generating leads, versus the time we could spend building a lead generation system. The difference is similar to working in your business versus working on your business.
As a business owner, I have always been fascinated by systems. To me these are the components of what makes a successful business. The better your systems, the easier it will be to deliver your product/service and grow your business. Bottom line: better systems equals better profits.
Most business owners understand this, and are great at applying this principle to developing manufacturing systems, delivery systems, and accounting systems. But more often than not, they fall short when it comes to applying this to their sales and marketing efforts. When it comes to lead generation, they always seem to be flying by the seat of their pants, and we as marketers are guilty of letting them do this.
What Is A Lead Generation System?
For our purposes here, I am going to define a lead generation system, as a group of processes that are repeated on a regular basis to drive a predictable quantity of leads. I just made that up, but it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
To further clarify what I mean, let me illustrate an example of the exact opposite of a lead generation system. Have you ever tried to do a direct mail campaign, when you have never done it before? It usually goes something like this:
Hey, let’s try direct mail to generate some leads.
What’s it going to cost?
Well... we can afford to do one mailing this year, to a small segment of our target audience.
Okay, Let’s try it.
Rick’s Marketing Rule - IF YOU CAN’T REPEAT IT, DON’T DO IT!
Now I’m not picking on direct mail, because if you can afford to do direct mail consistently, and it's part of your lead generation system, then that's great. What I’m pointing out, is how business owners and marketers waste resources launching one-off lead generation efforts. If you can’t afford to repeat the effort, then you just wasted everything you learned. Not to mention the marketing budget consumed.
So how do you build a lead generation system?
A simple way to start is by following inbound marketing methodologies. The first step is to begin by attracting strangers to your website. You accomplish this by blogging and then by sharing your articles through your social media networks.
But here is the trick — to make this a lead generation system you need to determine how frequently you can blog — realistically. You don’t want to make this a one-off effort too. If you have enough staff to generate two blog posts a week, then don’t try to do five. What you are shooting for here is a repeatable process. Developing an editorial calendar for your blog articles will help with this. You will also need to do the same for your social media activity. Your goal is to commit a consistent amount of time to social media each week. Even if it is only 15 minutes each week, it is more important to be consistent.
The second part of this involves converting those new website visitors into leads. To do this you will need to offer some unique piece of content on your website, and place it behind a lead capture form. You can create an ebook, webinar, white paper, or case study.
Again, the important thing here, is to have a schedule for creating new content on a regular basis throughout the year. This content can be top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, or bottom of the funnel. Every piece of content should appeal to your target audience.
Just by implementing these two processes you will have the foundation of a lead generation system in place. You can then refine it by adding processes such as: lead nurturing, lead scoring, list segmentation, and workflow automation.
Just like they always say, “Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program,” you should consult with a professional inbound marketing agency before implementing your lead generation plan. They can help you determine the best way to go about creating a lead generation system for your sales team.
How are you currently generating leads for your sales team? Share your thoughts in the comments section
About the Author: Rick Kranz is the Founder of OverGo Studio, a HubSpot certified partner agency specializing in inbound marketing services. You can connect with Rick via Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+
Photo Credit: L. Richard Martin, Jr.
As marketers, we can all agree the journey a consumer takes from lead to customer today is much different than it was 10 years ago. However, email still plays a major role in that process. Almost a third of repeat customers are initiated by email. And, according Epsilon’s Email Trends and Benchmark report, open rates are increasing with the new benchmark number set at a 31.1 percent open rate. That’s an increase of nearly 4 percent from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013.
Why are open rates going up? Mobile is one reason, according to Epsilon. Inbound marketing has also changed exactly what and how we’re emailing leads, prospects and customers. Instead of a giveaway or email that offers a free quote or consultation, educational offers like eBooks and guides keep leads engaged until they are ready to buy. Plus, providing leads with a flow of nurturing emails after a lead takes action on your site also boosts the chances relevant emails are being opened.
But what happens after engagement? The buyer might not know what the next steps to take should be. It’s your job as a marketer to make sure when a lead is ready, you’re providing him or her an opportunity to move through your funnel. Here are five basic tips you can use to guide leads through the journey rather than letting them go it alone:
Segment, Segment, Segment
At the heart of every good email program is segmentation. Your subscribers expect you to send only the most relevant information because they know you can. Email has been done this way for years now on the B2C side, but B2B companies still have a lot of catching up to do. Get started by creating these segmented lists, and then look for as many additional opportunities to segment your list into smaller and smaller groups. An email with 500 people might get a 15 to 20 percent click rate, whereas an email to 5,000 might only get 1.5 to 2 percent. That’s the same number of actions with fewer annoyed subscribers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Send Frequent Emails
What seems frequent to you (say twice a week or every other business day) might not be so frequent to the subscribers. Smaller, more targeted segmented lists allow you to send more messages in a shorter time period. To use the 500/5,000 comparison above, targeting the smaller list means you can contact the 4,500 other subscribers with content more relevant to their needs.
Provide One Offer Per Email
Because your lists are getting smaller and your emails more frequent, simple one-offer emails are necessary both for relevance and your sanity. Customizing an email newsletter with multiple offers and actions for each targeted group decreases the effectiveness of the offers overall and wastes time. Plus, giving the user too many options doesn’t help move the user along on their journey. If you focus on the offer at hand, you’re a much better guide.
Tell a Story with Lead Nurturing Emails
Once a user converts on a single offer, you can continue to provide the user information of interest to him or her with lead nurturing emails. But rather than just hammering leads with offer after offer, tell them a story. Your lead nurturing workflow should have a first, second and third act (top, middle and bottom of the funnel) and should be just as creative and engaging as the content that started the workflow in the first place.
Always Include a Bottom of the Funnel Offer
Now there’s one thing we all know about any journey: It’s nice if you have a shortcut. Whether it’s a line in a lead nurturing email, an image in a footer or a call-to-action on a linked website page, you should always give the subscriber a chance to take the final step in the journey from lead to customer. Without it, you could miss a valuable opportunity to convert a lead when he or she is ready.
How do you guide your leads through the buyer journey? Share your tips in the comments.
Dan Stasiewski is Technology Director at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.
photo credit: RambergMediaImages
Mazda car company decided to forgo its popular “zoom zoom” advertising campaign this year in favor of an ad that tells a great story. And it isn’t even a story about Mazda. It portrays Dick Fosbury who revolutionized the high jump by soaring over the bar backward. Fosbury and other “game changers” portray Mazda’s idea behind “developing new and different ways to build outstanding vehicles.” The ad goes beyond the what to the "why.”
By reaching buyers on a human and emotional level, this simple, 30-second commercial has made the case for storytelling in advertising, marketing and content development.
Let’s take a look at a few other elements that make the case for storytelling.
According to Psychology Today, the influential role of consumer behavior has been proven again and again:
- fMRI neuro-imagery shows that, when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features and facts).
- Advertising research reveals emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content—by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
- Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
- Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments, which are based on a brand’s attributes.
In a less formal study, a marketing researcher decided to have each of the students in her class give a 1-minute pitch. Only one in 10 students used a story within his or her pitch. The others stuck to more traditional pitch elements: facts and figures. The woman then asked the class to write down everything they remembered regarding each pitch. Only 5 percent of students cited a statistic, but a whopping 63 percent remembered the story.
However, no one says facts and figures should be completely eliminated from your storytelling. In fact, weaving the two together can have an even greater effect on your buyers. “Studies show that we are wired to remember stories much more than data, facts and figures,” explains Jennifer Aaker, professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “However, when data and story are used together, audiences are moved both emotionally and intellectually.”
Now you know storytelling is good for your bottom line. But how do you implement it? Marketers are not traditionally skilled in writing prose. Well the truth is, storytelling can be broken down into three acts, each one ultimately leading your buyers down the rabbit hole. To learn more, download the free guide, “Storytelling: How to Acquire Leads in 3 Acts.”
With a degree in journalism, Brianne Carlon has more than seven years of professional writing and content marketing experience. Through web and editorial writing, she reaches target audiences for Fortune 1000 companies, as well as small businesses. She uses her content marketing powers to help Kuno and its clients build their brands. You can connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
photo credit: Scottish Libraries
Jon Hainstock (@jonhainstock) is co-founder of Zoomshift, an Online Employee Scheduling Software company. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to grab lunch with both Jon and co-founder Ben Bartling (@benbartling). As a startup with a limited budget they have strategically used SEO and Inbound Marketing to build their traffic and more importantly drive leads and customers. They have a great product and story, hope you enjoy!!
Q: What is Zoomshift, who is it for?
A: ZoomShift is simple employee scheduling software for small businesses. We really focus on solving the scheduling problem for businesses with under 100 employees.
Q: What marketing/advertising have you done in the past?
A: We’ve tried cold calling, direct mail, Facebook ads, Google AdWords, PR and SEO to try to build awareness and increase leads.
Q: What marketing initiatives have worked the best?
A: SEO has been the best marketing channel for us. Interruption (outbound) marketing wasn’t working well for us, mostly because business owners were not ready to change their scheduling process, even if it was terrible. When someone is actively searching for a solution, they are usually fed up with their process, and are ready to try something new.
Q: How does content marketing play a role in your daily activities?
A: We spend a lot of time interacting with customers everyday via support and chat, and we are able to build better content based on their feedback. Our initial goals were to climb the SERP’s for a handful of keywords, but now we are really focusing on using the language of our customers to build better content.
Blogging gives us the ability to build trust and provide fresh insights on how small businesses can streamline their processes. We are also tweaking existing content and building new pages on a daily basis to test if they will be valuable for our SEO campaign.
Q: What tools do you use for your inbound marketing/seo efforts?
A: We use Juxseo, an on-page SEO grader, to optimize the content on our site. We have also used Scribe to make sure our content is valuable and readable for our target market. We use Positionly to track rankings on a day to day basis. We track domain authority and trust with Moz’s tools.
Q: What are the results so far?
A: We are always amazed at how well SEO works. While SEO is only one arm of the inbound game, it brings in over 60 signups every week, and converts into around 3-5 paid customers per week, all on it’s own. Some of these conversions had assists from social interactions or referrals, but a majority of them convert from a keyword.
Q: What advice would you give to help others with their SEO strategy?
A: Go for the low hanging fruit. Start by doing a lot of keyword research, using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Google Suggestions, and Übersuggest to give you keyword ideas. Then find the keywords with the most search volume, highest buying intent and the lowest competition. Use those keywords as the main pages of your site and as categories for your blog.
About the Author: Steve James is a partner at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing agency specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.