10 marketing agencies have been contributing 1 blog post per month to this blog for 3 months. Additionally, in recent months, I've been posting several times per month.
My theory of inbound networking is that when like-minded companies market their businesses collaboratively, they'll all benefit more. We're still at the very early stages of proving that out. Below is some encouraging data, though.
The first graph below is from this website's HubSpot dashboard. It shows the traffic generated this month compared to the last 3 month's running average.
As you can see, traffic is way up this month. It's up 60% actually. But, that's not the only conclusion to make. As you can see in the chart, traffic rose significantly from December 8th to Dec 18th. We published 11 posts over that period and only 3 posts during the rest of the days in December. So, as the post title says, blogging frequency correlates well to traffic growth.
Why does traffic grow with more frequent blogging, though?
The graph below is the HubSpot Sources report for this website. For those that don't know, the Sources report shows the traffic, leads and sales that a company is generating from their web presence over time, and clearly shows the source of each visit. This particular view of the report shows the number of visits over a 4 month period.
By examining the color of the bars in the graph above, we can see that more traffic is coming from more types of sources. In other words, traffic diversity is much higher. Specifically, we see that direct traffic (blue), social media traffic (teal) and email marketing traffic (orange) rose steadily over the last 3 months. Why?
- Email traffic is higher because many people subscribe to this blog by email.
- Social media traffic is higher because there is more content to share and since we're a group of 10, there are more people to share it.
PS. This is just a small test in a short period of time. But, as all of the contributors to this blog can tell you, this isn't the first time we've seen this. If you're looking for more proof, download this ebook where HubSpot analyzed blogging and traffic data from 7,000 customers. Kuno Creative has published several posts with data correlating blogging frequency to traffic growth. Here's a few: Blogging ROI, How Often Should You Blog, And Blogging Frequency Impacting Marketing Automation. Here's traffic and subscriber growth data from Impact Branding, who blogs very frequently.
Growing online traffic is this simple. Why aren't you blogging more?
If you’re practicing inbound marketing today and you’re honest—then you have this challenge. The promise of inbound marketing comes along with a set of expectations and those expectations are simple. “I am going to get leads.”
The reality of inbound marketing is our clients will get leads and they will get more leads from their website then they were getting before any of us came along, but helping clients understand when, how many, and what they look like is THE major challenge facing inbound marketing agencies.
Unfortunately, most of our clients don’t look at the situation objectively. For years they haven’t been getting any inbound leads and their website has anemic traffic numbers but two months into the engagement they want to know why they’re not getting 100 leads a month. This comes down to one single issue—expectation setting.
This starts in the sales process where, in order to close business, we have to get our prospects emotionally excited about the promise of leads from inbound marketing. Most of us are responsible, so I know no one is promising 1,000 leads in the second month, but I also know it’s what we DON’T say that starts to set the expectations.
We DON’T show them the relationship between traffic and leads. We DON’T tell them the timeline associated with driving new traffic in today’s world of Get Found. We DON’T have honest and open conversations about their inability to nurture the leads from a sales perspective or close those leads. But perhaps the worst of all—we don’t tell them that to really get significant leads from inbound marketing they have to make MAJOR improvements to almost all of their existing sales and marketing efforts.
Let me be clear. I am not being critical. This isn’t easy. Our line of work, inbound marketing, is exponentially more complicated than anything any of us used to do. If you used to do advertising all you were ever on the hook for was producing and placing the ads. If you used to do website design or website development all you had to do to be successful was deliver the site. If you used to do PR, then a story placement or press release was your deliverable. Times were so much simpler.
But you decided you wanted to be an inbound marketing agency. Now you have to explain how content helps you get found, how landing pages and calls to action are mandatory, how leads need to be nurtured and content has to be delivered in context, how keywords have to be in everything, and that their personas need to be deep and multifaceted, is that enough—or should I keep going?
Sadly enough, most of your prospects and clients have little or no idea of what you are doing, why you are doing it and how it’s going to help them get leads.
They measure you on only one number—leads!
If we are going to do this thing called inbound marketing, we are going to have to do it right, from the beginning. That means reworking our sales process so we spend enough time with prospects to understand their business intimately, not just the processes but the people. Prospects that won't let you look at their website analytics before you create recommendations shouldn’t be prospects. Prospects that won't walk you through their marketing and sales processes or worse don’t have them and don’t want these processes shouldn’t be prospects. Prospects that want you to rush through planning, strategy or foundational improvement work shouldn’t be prospects.
Consider adopting a more transparent program development process. Show the prospect their current baseline numbers even if they are low or embarrassing. Show them the relationship between the level of recommendation and the leads they should expect. Low investment levels translate into slow growth. Want to get more leads? Invest more money in inbound marketing tactics. Show them the pace of growth and the compounding factors that make inbound marketing such a sustainable and efficient approach.
Use pictures, graphs images to tell them a story. Show them the mathematical relationship between their website traffic and leads. Educate them throughout the process. Educate them early and often even after they become clients. Remember, there are a lot of people out there who are telling your clients they need to be doing it the old way. When you’re not around, people are pushing them back into their comfort zone even though you moved them out 30 minute ago.
Perhaps the most important suggestion is that we all be obsessed with the creation of a process that meets the unique challenges facing us as inbound marketers. What we create today will propel us into the future. Inbound marketing is in its infancy. We are the people who will create this practice and be responsible for changing the way marketing is done. We are the people who will be responsible for getting our clients leads. The sooner we set the right expectations and over deliver, the sooner inbound marketing will become the ONLY way to market your business.
About the Author: Mike Lieberman is president of Square 2 Marketing. Mike is the co-author of two books, Reality Marketing Revolution and Fire Your Sales Team Today! Mike's agency specializes in the installation of an inbound marketing methodology and the implementation of inbound marketing tactics for entreprenurial oriented businesses across the country. You can follow Mike @Mike2Marketing.
We all know the benefits of writing at least five blog posts per week (higher traffic and leads), but what happens when we don’t have enough time to write them for every client, as well as ourselves? What happens if we outsource them to “blog farms”? Most likely, we will see a decline in readership and shares. Then how do we find a good balance between quality and quantity that sustains our growth without diluting our content? Here are some things to think about.
Let's consider the root cause of the problem using a continuous improvement exercise: the 5 Why's.
Perceived problem: We don't have the internal resources to write a sufficient number of high-quality blog posts on a consistent basis to increase traffic and leads.
Why? Because we don't have good writers on staff who have the bandwidth for blogging.
Why? Because we don't hire people with those skills in mind and make content a part of their job descriptions.
Why? Because we are just now recognizing the value of content marketing in our overall marketing strategy.
Why? Because we adopted a 'wait and see' policy until the economy recovers and marketing trends become clearer.
Why? Because we have always taken a conservative approach to new directions, and that has always been successful for us.
Continuous improvement is good at uncovering bigger problems that plague the rest of the organization or even hold it back. In this case, because the company is worried about hiring new people and doesn't recognize the value of talented content writers, it is prepared to surrender that advantage to more aggressive competitors. So what's the solution? Higher ups at the organization think, "Let's try some experiments by outsourcing a few blogs a month to some (relatively) cheap bloggers and see what impact that has on our inbound metrics." But there are troubles that come with that:
- The inexpensive, outsourced writers don't know you and don't care
- You're not committed to consistent, high-quality content, and it shows
- Your most valuable assets, your people, have no voice
- Your leadership in your market has no voice, and no audience
- This strategy won't work, so the initiative will die on the vine
Is there a better solution?
Take the leap. Hire someone with excellent writing skills. Make blogging an important part of his or her job, and empower them to become an important voice of the company. Get leaders and staffers involved in the process. Your content person can help them express themselves through blogs and social media channels. If you're going to outsource, make sure it's with a firm or freelancer who commits to getting to know everything about your company, your people and your business.
Fear is the No. 1 public enemy of progress. This quality content thing is long past being a trend. It's a reality that isn't going away. Get on board before it is too late.
About the Author: With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John McTigue loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.
photo credit: Carolyn_Sewell
There are 5 big 'ideas' that I've been developing in my head. I started sharing them with my team, some agency thought leaders, and the Co-Grow members this week. I've been writing things in Evernote for about 6 months. I'm going to start talking about them more publicly, so that I can get feedback and refine the ideas and refine how I communicate them. As always, I value collaboration. So please chime in.
1. The New Marketing Agency Retainer
The standard way that agencies do retainers merely enables an agency to determine how many hours that a client might need on a monthly basis so they can staff the account accordingly. It's abused by both agencies and clients. Clients often take advantage of it by ignoring the fact that they're over their time or out of scope. Agencies often take advantage by stretching out the time it takes to do things or just slacking because they can get away with it for certain clients or in certain months.
The New Marketing Agency Retainer starts by the agency understanding the client's business growth goals; how much they want to grow their revenue and working backwards towards the quantifiable marketing metrics they need to hit. They then work together to create a plan that will get the client to those goals. They agree on how to report marketing and business results to each other, what to do if they're short of goal or over goal within the budget constraints. The agency - based on their experience and data - determines what marketing activities must occurr on a monthly basis in order to move in the direction of the goal within the budget and the time frame constraints. Upfront, the client and agency agree upon the resources required at the agency and in-house in order to achieve the goal, as well as who will do what. Then, they sign an agreement. If work that is outside of the scope comes up, they do not push the agreed upon activities aside to do them; they don't do them or they are added as variances to the retainer activities.
Agencies can start securing 'New Marketing Agency Retainers' by first definining pricing and packaging of marketing retainers, so that the services included and the frequency of these services can predictably deliver the business growth that clients typically desire. I think IMPACT's pricing page is the best example of this. (I'm not necessarily suggesting that pricing needs to be published.) Once the pricing and packaging are defined, everything else flows from there. The consultative sales process must be designed to sell these retainer packages (or walk away if the client isn't a fit). The delivery processes must be developed to execute the marketing activities within the packages at the frequency needed. Marketing methodologies and software must be setup and used to execute these activities and them measure and report the impact of these activities on key marketing metrics. Project management and time tracking must then be implemented around these standardized services and processes in order to determine the actual cost to deliver them, across clients. Based on this data, retainer prices should be modified for future clients and renewals.
The best thing about this approach for agencies is that it if it's executed well, it enables them to divorce the amount of time they spend delivering marketing services from the fees they charge. In other words, because they are delivering ROI, they can charge based on the value they deliver, not the hours. This enables agencies to increase their profitability.
While clients may not think they want to pay a premium in this new retainer model, most smart clients realize that this creates the opportunity for their agency to staff with more and better talent, deliver better quality work and ultimately deliver even more value to the client. It is a true partnership where both agency and client benefit more. It is a win-win.
2. How Inbound Marketing Changes Sales
Based on the success of my 'Twitter for Salespeople' training deck (and derivative work), Frank Belzer's coming book 'Sales Shift; How Inbound Marketing Changes Sales', Todd Hockenberry's article yesterday about salespeople doing inbound marketing, the HubSpot-Salesforce webinar this week, HubSpot's success generating the majority of our sales from inbound leads, and many other experiences over the last few years... I think it's time to realize that we're not just changing marketing with inbound marketing. We're changing the way sales happens. I'm not going to suggest that the role of the salesperson is less important. Quite the opposite, Trish Bertuzzi. My argument will be that sales has changed and that salespeople need to change with it. The buyer has different expectations and salespeople need to leverage collected and gathered lead intelligence about the buyer in order to build their funnel and manage the sales process more effectively. During the sales process, salespeople must follow a truly consultative sales process, where the prospects always feels like they are being helped even when they're being challenged. Different people are calling it different things: smarketing, sales and marketing alignment, social selling and inbound sales. Regardless of the name, I'm looking forward to further figuring this out with a bunch of sales and marketing experts this year.
3. Convergence of the Media, Advertising, Marketing Services & Technology Worlds
Any media company, marketing agency or technology company that doesn't realize that their competition is all of us yet - is going to have a rude awakening this year. Google, facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Microsoft, etc. hire developers and they build web based software. But, they are really media companies selling advertising. They (especially Google) have superseded media companies in the advertising sales game, by making it significantly more efficient, less risky and more transparent for advertisers. In order to recover lost revenue (and the revenue they expect to lose), media companies are trying to innovate. They're not just innovating on their ad-driven media model, though. They are charging for content, launching their own technology-driven advertising products, trying to regain audience through web and mobile app development and... expanding into marketing services. (At HubSpot, we are helping lots of media companies expand into marketing services.)
Unfortunately for agencies, media companies are not just selling marketing services. They are combining them with some of their own ad products and delivering more value than agencies can, just like the tech companies are doing to the media companies.
Meanwhile, marketing software companies - instead of agencies - are driving the way marketers adapt to the changing environment. Marketing software companies are defining how agencies get hired and software is measuring whether agencies are delivering enough value to justify keeping them around.
Agencies - being the least profitable of the group and the lowest growth - are getting squeezed further. Some agencies are responding by diversifying revenue streams into training and publishing or even developing their own web apps or software. They are aggressively partnering with technology companies and learning new skills from them, as software and technology companies don't provide nearly enough serivce to their clients. PR 20/20 is the quintessential example of a small nimble competitor that is adapting and building a profitable business by doing all of these things; training, publishing, software, partnering. There's loads of examples of agencies doing nothing; my team talks to them every day.
This will continue to be a crazy competitive, constantly changing media-marketing-advertising-technology world this year. The change of pace will probably accelerate. In fact, I hope to cause some of it.
4. Building an Inbound Channel Sales Program
I get approached quite a bit to share how we built our agency partner program at HubSpot. It is unlike any other channel sales program. We provide a level of training and support that no other marketing software company provides to marketing agencies, who in turn use our software to help deliver retainer services and ultimately, superior value to their clients. It contributes nearly 40% of HubSpot's new monthly revenue. Pseudo-competitors and comlimentary software companies are trying to copy the model. (I advise some of the complimentary ones.)
But, we're not done innovating. Over the next year, our partners will become an integral part of our entire growth plan at HubSpot. At Inbound12, I announced the theme for the year of "Learn Together, Market Together & Sell Together". We've implemented some programs with a handful of partners and a handful of channel account managers on my team. The programs are working well. We'll continue tweaking them and will be rolling more of that out over the year to more of our partners. Ultimately, we'll provide more sales and marketing support and significantly more training for our partners. We're going to build a massive marketing and sales machine together, and together we're going to help a lot of clients outgrow their competition. We're going to do it collaboratively.
5. Inbound Networking
I'm pleased with the progress we've made with this group blog. I like the fact that we have two competing definitions and implementations for inbound networking and that we're all figuring it out as we go - out in the open.
We have 9 Co-Grow members and we have 2 solid months of contributions from them. Mary Planding is doing an excellent job as editor and group wrangler. We've also been doing weekly calls where we have guest speakers and get feedback and counsel from each other. The conversations that the blog posts are sparking are great. The webinar session conversations are even better.
I like how each of the members have a common understanding of inbound marketing, but cover different topics from different angles in their blog posts. We're going to experiment with writing on the same topic in January and see what happens. Either way, the group seems to be coalescing and we are building up traffic and lead volumes faster by working together.
In the new year, I'll be turning this site into a website that looks like a "Meta Marketing Agency". There will be pages for each member agency (example) and we'll start to list the services they provide as well as publish some case studies. I'm excited to a) turn this into a strong source of business and collaborative learning for the members and c) show that 'potential competitors' working together is more powerful than 'potential collaborators' working in silos. In reality, we compete with very few companies when we collaborate. Somehow, there is more business for all of us when we work together. Not to mention that we learn a lot faster when we collaborate.
In addition to building this group, I also expect to see some 'inbound networking' groups form in other industries where it makes sense to collaboratively market, rather than compete. I plan to get some software built that will assist these groups in tracking and managing the contribution from each member.
Also, I've held off adding new member agencies to the roster. Now that we have some processes and people in place and a bit of a track record of working well together, we'll add more members. The more, the merrier. I'll be building a scale-able way for new members to sign up, but feel free to inquire in the meanwhile.
For those that haven't caught on yet, I will personally be using this blog as a journal. It's been my style since I started blogging almost a decade ago. It helps me think, let's other people know what I'm thinking and helps me get feedback about my thoughts as I form them. If you take the time to comment below, use the #s next to the themes above in order to keep the comment stream readable. For example, if you want to comment on "inbound networking, write "Re: #5" in front of your comment.
I will read and will eventually respond to every comment. Thanks.
Convincing sales people that inbound marketing is an effective way to prospect and fill the sales funnel is a great way to grow a business. We've worked with dozens of companies that either have a small sales team or don't have a marketing department, and they struggle with lead generation. We've heard different versions of the same story over and over:
"When we get face to face with a good prospect we close a high percentage of the business, but we're just not getting enough chances to win."
Many companies in this position try to solve their problem by telling the sales people to do more prospecting, make more cold calls, and just go make more sales. The problem with this is that simply demanding more sales isn't a strategy or plan for success. We have helped our clients build an effective pipeline and grow their business by helping them develop the tools they need to successfully use an inbound marketing strategy.
By adopting inbound marketing methods, sales people can be their own marketing department and make the connection between what they do every day and generating content as fuel for inbound marketing.
Not many sales people like to write content (or much of anything else for that matter), so how do we get them to create the content that is the foundation of inbound marketing? The first step is to show them that they are creating content every day — they just don't realize it. Examples include:
- Any letters or emails with detailed explanations of the uses of their products to solve problems
- Phone calls with customers answering questions
- Sales presentations, especially the parts that are designed for particular industries, companies, or common problems
- Internal training on products and their use
- Interactions with service and technical support
- Industry trends, news, and events that affect customers
- Questions and objections from existing prospects and customers
- Success stories and testimonials
We've tried a lot of tricks to get sales people to create content, but the most effective one we've ever used is to have the sales people keep a pad of paper by their phone and to make a note of every call they make or email they send where they are answering questions, explaining their products in detail, or otherwise dispensing information. It doesn't take very long before the sales person realizes they are already creating content that is re-usable on a daily basis. Once they have gotten over their fear of "writing" and "content", they often find that creating content is something they're good at. There's nothing like stroking the ego of a sales person by showing them how much of an expert they really are.
Most sales people aren't aware of the large amounts of valuable content that they already have and aren't using to drive prospecting. A lot of sales content comes to sales people only as product-based information like catalogs, specifications, and feature focused content. This kind of content is easy to create because it is internal and, more often than not, cut and dry. There's a lot of great information in this kind of content, but it isn't very good at grabbing prospects' interest.
The key is shifting your mindset so that you are focused on the prospect, their issues, their needs, and their opportunities. You can reshape that internal, dry content into something that caters to your prospects and their needs. Thinking like the customer and creating content that matches their expectations is often best accomplished by sales people that interact with customers every day.
Publishing and Publicizing
Sales people should identify the information platforms that their target customers are using, learn the rules of the road for that platform, and then publish consistently to them. In many cases, sales people want instant gratification so they need to understand that building a following and learning how to communicate using new mediums takes time and effort. Just like making an effective face-to-face presentation takes time and practice, so does learning to use inbound marketing and content publishing to attract quality prospects.
We work with sales people to build reasonable daily activity schedules that are perceived as manageable and not too time-consuming. Twitter and LinkedIn are generally the most popular for B2B engagement, but it all boils down to fishing where the fish are.
Once content is being created and published, sales people can now engage with prospects and build credibility for themselves and for their company. Inbound marketing is about attracting and educating prospects first and selling second, so sales people need to be patient and not go for the sales the first time someone responds. The selling will come in time if the prospect is engaged at the right time.
We have a client that produces industrial lasers used for marking just about any part. They publish really cool videos showing how lasers can be used to mark unique parts. The videos are often made as a part of the engineering and technical specification of the system and can be easily shot by the salespeople during a test or plant tour. We added them to the list of content we were publishing and qualified prospects find the videos and other related blog posts and convert into leads as a result. Instead of selling the features of the lasers, sales people share the benefits and capabilities, attract prospects that need those benefits, and a conversation is started.
This type of inbound marketing generated conversation is different than one generated by a cold call. The prospect is self-qualified because they want, and seek out, the information you have. The sales person is positioned as an expert helping and sharing educational content, not as a time wasting annoyance.
Sales people may or may not come to the conclusion on their own that inbound marketing is an effective lead generation strategy. However, showing them that there is a process and a pathway that yields demonstrable results leads them to the water and, most of the time, gets them to drink.
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.
This infographic was created by Steve James (@steve_james), a Partner at Stream Creative (@streamcreative), a Milwaukee inbound marketing agency and Gold HubSpot Certified partner. This is the second infographic for their inbound marketing series on the topic of Middle Of The Funnel (MoFu) Marketing.
Feel free to share this on your blog by copying the html code below the graphic or pinning it on pinterest using the button below.
New to Infographics? See this infographic about infographics on the HubSpot blog.
Marketing professionals equipped with the skills needed for inbound success are, unfortunately, often difficult to find. Few agencies and marketing departments are structured to provide on-the-job training that sophisticated marketing programs require, and few universities have adapted curricula quickly enough to develop the young professionals we so desperately need.
According to Eloqua’s 2012 Marketing Skills Gap survey, “75% of marketers say their lack of skills is impacting revenue in some way, and 74% say it’s contributing to misalignment between the marketing and sales teams.”
So what’s causing the gap? According to Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) in The Hybrids are Coming: Evolution of the Prototype Marketer, there are three main forces—change velocity, selective consumption and success factors. All of which are influenced by innovations in technology that are changing consumers’ purchasing processes, and the way marketers build, execute and track campaigns.
That said, it makes sense that the biggest deficiencies exist in mathematical and technical skills. So, what can you do as a marketer to stay ahead of the trends, keep abreast of new technologies and push your capabilities forward? Read on.
Be Continually Curious
With the industry evolving on a daily basis, it’s hard to keep up. That’s why curiosity and a desire to learn are two of the best traits you can acquire as a modern marketer.
Looking to advance yourself? There are a wealth of free online resources available to bring you up to speed on all things inbound—from content marketing to data analysis. Check out this list from Christina Schmitz (@christinacs).
It’s also helpful to set up Twitter lists of influential marketers to easily stay on top of real-time industry news, developments and best practices. Here’s an example list created by my colleague Jessica Donlon (@jessicadonlon) that provides a good starting point.
Finally, consider industry conferences to learn from tried-and-true professionals. My favorites are SXSW Interactive, Inbound and Content Marketing World.
Find a Trusted Partner
Remember, you’re not alone. As you’re evolving your skills, it may be in your best interest to outsource some activities to an agency partner.
With a savvy, hybrid agency in tow, you gain a support system that can help move you in the right direction, answer your questions and fill in skill gaps.
How are you advancing your professional development? Share your wins, struggles and resources in the comments.
About the Author: Tracy Lewis is an inbound marketing consultant with PR 20/20, a certified Gold HubSpot partner and inbound marketing agency that combines content, public relations, social media and search marketing into integrated campaigns.
Related reading: B2B Marketer’s Guide to Going Inbound [Ebook]
Image Credit: jsmjr
On the heels of a new year, there are two things you can almost always count on;
- Ryan Seacrest's ear muffs on "Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve."
- A plethora of blog articles detailing where marketing is going.
The latter is in full swing as we speak, with pretty much every marketing blog in the western world providing insider information on where you should expect to allocate your marketing budget in the coming year.
I'm here to tell you that this blog is really no different. However, rather than forecast my opinion, I'm going to base where I think email marketing is headed based on the changes I'm seeing right now.
With the consumer shift to digital and mobile devices, it's no secret that marketing is transitioning to a more personalized, segmented approach. The days of blasting offers or information to your entire contact list are gone. Included below are the five most common email marketing techniques of "yester-year" that will be rendered ineffective in 2013.
5 Email Marketing Blunders that Lead to Unsubscribes
1. Too Many Emails
The line between too little and too many is often very hard to decipher. As a marketer myself, I often feel if I'm not consistently engaging my contact list, I'll fall from their consciousness.
However, you have to give your contact a little bit more credit. They've already engaged with your website and obviously thought you valuable enough to subscribe too. The challenge now? Don't make them regret their decision. (As I've often done with brands I used to subscribe to.)
This is why segmenting your contacts is so critical (more on that in a bit). It ensures you're not bombarding the same people with emails three times a week. Give them time to digest the content or information you've sent them. If you find yourself trigger happy, utilize HubSpot workflows which will let you send automated, yet personalized emails at your desired schedule.
This way...no one forgets about each other. After all, it's much better to remind someone of your brand than to lose them altogether.
2. No Segmentation
Walk into every store, and you'll see several types of prospects:
- Those browsing
- Those comparing products/talking with salesmen
- Those standing in line with a basket of products
Now obviously, you wouldn't trample the "browser" who just entered your store with a "let's talk price" type pitch. Why? Because you'd be generalizing all of your customers into one 'stage of the buying cycle', effectively losing most of them.
So why would you practice this with your email marketing? It simply doesn't make sense to blast out emails to your entire contact list anymore (unless it's a huge sale or company news). Segment your leads into categories.
Those leads who downloaded your offer on social media engagement? Perhaps they would be interested on your new whitepaper detailing brand awareness using Twitter. Those that viewed your case study and pricing page might respond to an 'free consultation' offer.
Simply give them what they want. Don't generalize.
3. Overly Salesy
Simply put: don't go all "used-car salesmen" on your email recipients. Consumers have become so accustomed to digesting content quickly with the advent of smart phones and tablets, that they're also fine-tuned to delete "spammy" sounding emails.
Avoid words like:
- Act now
- Instant savings
- Anything with exclamation points!!!!!!!
Your contacts have already taken an interest in your product/service. Once again, don't screw it up and make them regret this. Instead of pitching and upselling your entire service, convey the value of your product or service and how they can benefit.
Bottom line: forget about yourself...make it about them.
4. No Value Conveyed
Building off that last thought, your emails should focus on the benefits of what you're offering, rather than the features of it.
While they may sound one and the same, spending too much time blowing your horn and the features you're offering will turn people off. You know what they really want to know? How it's going to help them.
So tell them.
Why do they need this offer? How will they benefit? What will they learn?
To keep the focus on the consumer, it helps to keep them focusing inward — putting the wheels in motion for change and improvement. If all they're thinking about is how arrogant and great you say you are, where's the potential for reflection?
5. Not Tracking & Measuring Performance
You know all that time you spent searching for the right image to include in your email? Turns out, it didn't make much difference. No one clicked in the email anyway.
So what was the problem? Your perfect image, or your content?
Ensure you're not spending too much time on things that hold no significance to the bottom line (opens and clicks) otherwise you'll be wasting time and resources.
Every email sent should be tracked and measured to determine what went right, and what could have been done better. If you don't, you're leaving the door open to the possibility that the one thing that's annoying readers and leading to unsubscribes will go unchanged.
While it's impossible to tell what's coming, it's certainly easy to see what's happening right now. And consumers have responded. They want what's relevant to them. Anything else will wind up in the trash.
Learn how to turn these tips into real results with "The Fast Track to Powerful Emails."
About the Author: John Bonini is the marketing manager of IMPACT Branding & Design, an inbound marketing agency focused on creating powerful marketing campaigns that deliver results.
When I met Jeetu Mahtani in 1999, I didn't think I'd ever be helping him build a salesteam in Dublin, Ireland, for one of the fastest growing SaaS businesses in history.
I've worked alongside Jeetu in 5 different working relationships over 13 years. There was only a short amount of time where we didn't have a mutually defined goal. This is the 6th. Leading our international expansion is also his biggest role yet and I'm sure he's going to knock it out of the park, just like all of the others.
Here's YOUR opportunity to work with him.
"Drop your business card in our fishbowl for a chance to win an iPad"
Have you seen one of those signs at a trade show recently? I can't think of any more explicit manifestation of what's so completely sideways in B2B Sales & Marketing. I mean seriously.
But let's back up. There once was a time when the T-Rex of the biz dev world was the rainmaker direct sales pro. Strutting his/her stuff with a massive rolodex and easy demeanor they knew that everyone else knew they were the force that sustained a business. And marketing....marketing was the red-headed kid brother that was tolerated, every once in a while got picked for a team of pickup ball, and was expected to offer quiet admiration most of the time. In other words marketing had the easy task of generating leads - leads which then the big dawgs would massage and either dismiss or convert to revenue.
And in that world, B2B buying processes relied on the direct sales folks. This reliance was so ingrained in the system that normally direct sales became involved in the buying process when it was less than 30% complete. So T-Rex had plenty of opportunity to thrash its tail and gnash its teeth - controlling much of the dynamic of the B2B purchase because ultimately they controlled the required information on solutions.
Meteor strike or the internet?
But along the way T-Rex became extinct. Everyone realizes that except for those direct sales folks who still think they are the T-Rexes of the business world...and some traditional business owners who haven't looked up from running their companies.
Today direct sales is an afterthought. The coveted information which they used to control is now available anytime, anywhere. Buyers no longer need them, and therefore (surprise here for anyone?) they'd rather not deal with them. The typical B2B purchasing process now doesn't involve direct sales until it is more than 70% complete. The folks at Square2Marketing have distilled this evolution down into a simple graphic
The glory days of direct sales are over.
So how do we sell now?
Obviously this evolution begs this critical question. If you can't send your warriors forth to battle for sales (now they may be negotiating terms of transactions based on decisions made before they were even aware of the project) then you must sell using other methods.
The answer lies in how buyers buy...and it's all about the web. 92% of all B2B purchases begin with an internet search. It stands to reason, therefore, that the fundamental objective of your marketing must be to present as compelling a presence as possible when folks search for solutions which you can provide.
But more than that, you must replicate the direct sales engagement virtually. Your on-line presence must fulfill all the functions your direct sales T-Rex did in the past. Building credibility, forming bonds of trust, educating prospects on your solutions, distinguishing your offering from competitors', supporting justification analysis and preempting concerns and hesitation must all now be largely achieved through a virtual dialog with prospects.
There's an app for that!
The good news is that you someone's already thought through this for you. Inbound marketing is the solution that you haven't hear of but have been desperately seeking.
The premise of inbound marketing is simple. Market and sell to folks they way they want to buy. The execution (at least if you are interested in doing it right for maximum effect) is complex - not because of any particularly complex element but because success takes an artfully integrated effort across a multitude of tools, disciplines and channels.
The easy, hard and 'I'm not sure you're up for it' steps
Deciding to change is easy. And when your banker or accountant keeps banging on you about slowing growth you'll be thrilled to have an answer.
Implementing the change is much harder. Again, not because any piece is terribly complicated, but because there are many moving pieces and lots of work to be done.
But the real impediment? The one I'm not sure you can overcome? Your departmental structure and mindset are so ossified into Sales and Marketing silos that I am not convinced you can change. But now that marketing must do most of the selling and controls 70% of the buying process, you don't have a choice.Are you up to it?
Learn more about the evolving roles of Sales and Marketing.
About the Author: Ed Marsh is co-founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, an international marketing consulting agency focused on developing strategic global business development and channel programs.
I recently taught a portion of my salesteam how to use Twitter effectively for their job. Even though our marketing team members are masters at Twitter, most of our sales team scoffs at the idea of using Twitter to help them do their jobs. In fact, we often joke by saying "Are you on the Twitters?" when talking to each other.
For me, though, the reality is that it's been huge at helping me connect with prospects, build credibility and strengthen relationships with partners and other thought leaders. So, I bottled up my methods into a deck. The salespeople I have trained are now using Twitter and most of them have booked atleast one appointment as a result.
PS. I know the deck is hideous. Based on my previous experience of releasing half-baked ideas and letting other people build on them, I'm releasing it in it's hideous state. Take it and use at your will. Feel free to improve it.
PPS. Our product team is working on some cool things to make this process even easier for salespeople. Stay tuned.
PPPS: [Update 12/13/2012] Douglas Burdett has shared a few links with me on this subject. I love this example of 'social prospecting' gone wrong. Will add that to V2 of the deck. And here's a great one from Hootsuite on how Twitter can help your salesteam. If you have more suggestions, tweet them to me @pc4media.
It's a shame how many people aren't constantly learning new skills, letting their competitive advantage slip away. It's also unfortunate how many companies don't have a system in place for helping their employees learn new skills.
I was reading some old articles of mine and ran into this old story:
I received a call from a gentleman the other day whose first words were, "I received a Website Grader report from my client that you sent him and instead of reading your site for an hour to try to figure it out, I figured I'd just call and talk to a human. Can you tell me what you do?" He also told me he was an SEO consultant, so I suggested he just go to Website Grader to read the report. He then insisted on me telling him what we did. So, I explained how our software helped people attract more traffic, convert more traffic into leads and leads into sales, and then measure and analyze each step of the process to enable continuous improvement. After I asked him a few questions about what software he used, which turned out to be nothing besides some SEO tools, I told him how our software helped agencies more efficiently deliver value by providing an integrated suite of tools that talked to each other. Then, at his prompting, I explained what the different tools did. He cut me off in the middle of that and said, "I guess I'm just going to have to read your site. I'm sick of all of you companies making me read your sites to figure out what you do."
It was fairly obvious to me after this conversation, that this guy was mad that a) his client was questioning whether he was doing a good enough job, b) that other companies have different (and possibly better) ways of doing things and c) that he had to learn something new.
What are you doing to prevent your agency from getting this far behind? Do you require that your employees continuously learn and experiment? Are you pulling your clients into the state of the art of marketing -- or are they pushing you to do basic research?
This guy obviously missed the memo that learning doesn't stop after formal education.
This past Friday as part of my weekly webinar for marketing agencies, I invited Mark Kilens (HubSpot's Manager of Customer Training) to come and get some feedback about some top-secret new stuff he's working on.
We also reviewed all of the training available to our customers and partners. Mark formed his team in the not too distant past and has made some amazing strides in training a big swath of our customer base. Mark's team delivers every one of the small group classes below every week, usually more than once.
We've also invested a lot in our agency training. Kate Walsh, HubSpot Services Director, and her team run agency classes every week.
Both the customer and partner training are live classes. There's tons more training available that is recorded and written.
At HubSpot, we're committed to creating software AND training that helps marketers transform their marketing. This wouldn't be possible unless our employees were constantly learning. We are able to provide so much training because our team is constantly experimenting and learning. We have a culture where we reward employees who take the initiative to learn something new on their own. We encourage people to experiment and report results, whether the experiment succeeded or failed, so that we're all learning. We also hold employees accountable to learning skills that they need to master their job; even our top employees are required to continously be learning and improving skills.
Our best agency partners share this cultural trait in common with us. At PR 20/20, I know that the employees spend 3 hours per week taking some class, writing up what they've learned and sharing it with the team on their internal social network. I met a new IMPACT employee this week that told me, "Pete Caputa is required reading at IMPACT."
What does your company do to ensure that your team is constantly learning?
Business Insider just published a brilliant deck titled, The Future of Digital. A lot of "experts" talk in theory about the future of the internet or digital marketing. This one has data to back up the theories.
(You need to click on the link to see the deck. It looks like BI doesn't allow someone to embed a powerpoint presentation. It's worth the click over to their site.)
HubSpot's marketing team had a record performance last month. See the screengrab below.
I don't know many B2B marketing teams that generate 60k+ leads per month. Do you? Does yours?
Impact Branding & Design just published an excellent infographic about how to more effectively leverage the HubSpot software to generate more traffic, leads and sales. I've embedded it below.
There aren't many companies who leverage the HubSpot software as effectively as IMPACT does. I've written about their results previously in an article titled, "How an Agency Acquired 5 New Clients from Inbound Marketing". If you want to learn more from them on this subject, I'd recommend downloading their "Essential Guide for Mastering HubSpot Software".