Posts

Rules of B2B Lead Scoring – Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Lead scoring has become very important in today’s B2B marketing. Especially now since industrial and technical buyers are relying more and more on online resources for their decision making process. Marketing’s role in interacting with prospects has expanded and goes further into the buy cycle than before. This has resulted in fewer direct interactions with sales reps from vendors.

Lead scoring, a key component of lead nurturing and management, is an effective tool for aligning sales and marketing. In developing a lead scoring system, marketing has to make certain assumptions to classify prospects as hot or not. Are they sales qualified leads (SQLs) ready to be passed on to sales or do they require further nurturing because their score qualifies them as marketing qualified leads (MQLs)?

Sales uses its front-line experience and expertise to validate marketing’s lead scoring assumptions. This builds a foundation for an effective closed-loop lead management program and keeps both sales and marketing playing together on the same team. Read more

B2B Lead Generation Using a Business Blog

In B2B lead generation, quantity versus quality is probably the biggest challenge faced by industrial marketers. In order to satisfy the demands of the C-suite, the marketing department usually provides easy-to-measure metrics like traffic, page views, time spent and number of leads captured. The focus here is definitely on quantity.

On the other hand, the sales team is probably complaining about the quality of B2B leads generated by your marketing team. They want better qualified and sales-ready leads. People in sales are not very interested in spending time nurturing suspects and prospects, that’s marketing’s job. And the tug-of-war between sales and marketing continues.

Business blogs for lead generation

Even though business blogging is not widely used in B2B marketing and especially in industrial marketing, it can be very effective as a tool for lead generation. A good business blog can drive a steady stream of pre-qualified leads that are as good as referrals. Read more

Variety of Content is the Key in the Early Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

In the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, you as the marketer have very little information about the visitor to help you tailor your marketing content to their needs.

In Needs Awareness and Research phases, the first two stages of the industrial buy cycle (see my earlier post Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle) your prospects and customers use a variety of online content to find solutions to their current problems and needs.

The chart below shows the variety of content used at different stages of the industrial buy cycle (Source: Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process from GlobalSpec).

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Content Auditing and Mapping it to the Industrial Buy Cycle

These days it is popular to say “Content is marketing currency.” What does it really mean to an industrial marketer, especially if you work for or are a small to mid-size manufacturer or engineering company?

Industrial giants have deep pockets to create marketing content on a daily basis. You don’t have that kind of a marketing budget; smaller as it may be in these tough times, yet a lot is expected of you or your marketing team. How can you use marketing content to generate a decent volume of sales-ready leads at a low(er) cost?

What is effective content marketing?

Content marketing does not mean churning out white papers, case studies, articles, blog posts, podcasts and webinars for the sake of putting out content. Most B2B marketers find it relatively easy to create and use content to gain search engine presence. The big hurdle they face is in engaging and converting readers into prospects, leads and ultimately customers.

Passive reading of your content will not move the prospect along in his/her decision making process. He/she must take a desired action for that to happen. While conversion may be the ultimate goal, building trust, increasing awareness, improving the company’s reputation, expertise and credibility and encouraging social sharing are all worthy content marketing goals too. Read more

5 Rules of Website Redesign for Engaging Engineers and Industrial Buyers

If you are a manufacturer or a provider of technical services, your website needs to be aligned with the buying process of your prospects and customers. Today, technical buyers and engineers expect suppliers to have a substantial online presence with a website packed with relevant content in a variety of formats and easily searchable. Is your site ready for this shift in expectations or do you need a website redesign?

I’m sure you’ve read many times that engineers hate marketing/marketers and they want only the facts. Those punch lines and stereotypes may be amusing but they won’t really help you come up with an effective site redesign. How do you engage engineers and technical buyers on your website and build deeper relationships and achieve higher conversion rates?

Rule #1: Natural or organic search engine optimization (SEO)

In the research phase of the industrial buying cycle, engineers and industrial buyers tend to use broad keywords and phrases that describe their current problem. Unless your website shows up in the initial phases, you are probably not going to be considered in the next step, which is the comparison stage.

It shouldn’t be an afterthought because retrofitting SEO after the redesign is typically not very effective and usually costs more. Read more

Survey Finds Growth in Pipelines and Sales Cycles for B2B Lead Generation

I recently read a news release put out by Infogroup on their SalesPulse Survey of B2B sales professionals conducted jointly with OneSource, an Infogroup company. Some of the findings match what I am hearing from my industrial clients and one really surprising result.

The top findings I got out of the release were:

  1. 47% of the sales professionals reported a slight increase in the size of their B2B pipelines this year as compared to last year. However, the sales cycles have also become longer, making it much harder to close deals.

    This agrees with what I am hearing from my engineering and industrial clients, they are seeing a lot more activity but the average sales cycle has grown by an additional 90 ~ 120 days. Because of longer sales cycles, more promising opportunities are being lost since business conditions change at the other end and projects are put on hold indefinitely or being eliminated.

  2. Read more

The Role of B2B Marketing is Shifting from Lead Generation to Revenue Generation

For as long as I can remember, B2B marketers have considered lead generation as their primary focus. Organizations are spending considerable amounts of time and money on tracking and measuring lead generation metrics.

However, the role of B2B marketers is changing and evolving more into revenue generation. The recently released B2B Marketing Skills Survey jointly done by Genius and BtoB Magazine reveals some new trends and contradicts certain popular beliefs.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

Emerging Trends:

  • 61% of the respondents (500 total) cited Driving Revenue as the most important success metric as compared to Sales Accepted Opportunities (40%), Qualified Leads (39%) with website visits and click-through rates trailing way at the back at 12% each.
  • In order to meet new revenue and ROI goals, marketers need to improve their strategic skills (50%) and sales skills (40%). Read more

Generating More “Educated Leads” on a Small Budget

Doing more with less is pretty much the mantra du jour in industrial and B2B marketing these days. How does one generate high quality, educated leads, not just site visitors on a marketing budget that is less than 1% of the projected revenue?

To find answers to that question, I went to HubSpot’s Lead Generation Marketing Hub and I found an incredible video featuring Holly Allison, vice president of marketing at Vico Software, a successful Boston-area startup that provides construction software to engineers and contractors.

Instead of spending most of their marketing budget on traditional industrial marketing channels like trade shows or direct mail, Vico produces webinars and creates content that site visitors download and others link to. In short, they are doing things that help them get found online. Read more

Automating Lead Generation and Management

Why is it important to automate lead or demand generation efforts in B2B marketing? Because proving ROI is critical.

Marketers everywhere are under tremendous pressure to prove marketing ROI. You have to do more with less and have little to no room for errors. An automated lead generation and management system that is sophisticated, yet easy to use, is fast becoming a must-have tool for B2B marketers. It can dramatically improve demand generation and objectively measure every aspect of your marketing to prove ROI and justify budgets.

I have looked at marketing automation solutions from several companies. Most of these are available as “Software as a Service” (SaaS) offerings. Some are end-to-end solutions that track, measure and automate every step of the lead or demand generation and management process and some specialize only in certain aspects.

To quote Brian Carroll, noted lead generation expert, author of the popular book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and CEO of InTouch, Inc., “It starts with a lead.”Most B2B marketers use their websites as the hub for all lead generation efforts. Therefore, marketing automation solutions focus on tracking and measuring activities on your website. Doesn’t Google Analytics do that? That’s a fair question.

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Is the New Alphabet Soup of Marketing “M’m! M’m! Good?”

First, a little history: The 4 Ps describing the strategic position of a product in the marketplace were first used in 1948 when James Culliton said that a marketing decision should be a result of something similar to a recipe. Then in 1953, Neil Borden, in his American Marketing Association’s presidential address, coined the term “marketing mix.” E. Jerome McCarthy, a prominent marketer, was the first to propose the 4 P classification in 1960. Since then, McCarthy’s definition has become widely accepted as the classic 4 Ps of marketing.

What are the classic 4 Ps?
Product — an object or a service that is mass-produced or manufactured on a large scale with a specific volume of units.
Price — the amount a customer pays for the product.
Place — the location where a product can be purchased. It is often referred to as the distribution channel.
Promotion — all of the communications that a marketer may use in the marketplace.

Criticism of the classic 4 Ps
Over the years, the classic 4 Ps have received a fair amount of criticism. Peter Doyle, in his book Value Based Marketing, claims that the “marketing mix” approach leads to unprofitable decisions because it is not grounded in financial objectives such as increasing shareholder value. He argues that a net present value approach maximizing shareholder value provides a “rational framework” for managing the marketing mix.

Some people claim that the 4 Ps are focused only on consumer markets and are not applicable to industrial product marketing. Others claim it has too strong of a product market perspective and is not appropriate for the marketing of services.

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