Anatomy of an Apple Email

Lead Nurturing Best Practices – Coordinating Email Marketing with PPC Campaigns

In  previous post, I wrote about why organizations should incorporate Lead Nurturing into their overall lead generation program. In a nutshell, if your sales cycles are longer than 1 month, then Lead Nurturing can you keep your brand in front of prospective buyers until they are ready to make a buy decision. This month I’d like to talk about some of the finer points of Lead Nurturing – specifically, the need to coordinate campaigns across multiple channels.

So, you’ve implemented a marketing automation (or email marketing) system and have had some success with email campaigns to promote white papers, webinars, videos, etc. But are you leveraging all of the capabilities of your marketing automation tool? Have you coordinated your email campaigns with your PPC ads, PR, direct mail and social media channels?

“To maximize the results from your email marketing campaigns, a best practice is to coordinate efforts across all outbound channels, including PPC campaigns, PR, direct mail and social media.”

Here is a simple checklist to incorporate into your next email marketing campaign:

  • Compelling Content – Start with an engaging marketing piece that promotes thought leadership with your company’s prospective customer. The possibilities are endless, but polls, surveys, white papers, videos, case studies, best practice guides, and webinars can be very effective.
  • Landing Page – Establish a simple (yet engaging) landing page on your web site with a call to action and a form to capture any new leads. Make sure any relevant keywords are included in the URL, HTML tags and body of the landing page for SEO.
  • Email Invitation – Send an email to prospective customers that mimics the look and feel and content of the landing page. Instead of a web form, you should use a button with a call to action that links back to the landing page.
  • Lead Nurturing Rules – If your marketing automation system supports lead nurturing rules, then you should set them up to automatically add any new leads to a drip campaign that sends out personalized emails with additional content offers on a periodic basis. For example, you could set up a rule to send new leads an invitation to a new webinar, white paper, best practices guide, etc. every 2 weeks for a 2-month period. If your company sells multiple products, make sure you send out offers related to the original product promotion so potential buyers don’t get confused.
  • PPC Ad – Create a coordinated PPC ad (e.g. Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) that also links back to the same lading page. Ensure that any keywords you are bidding on are included in the body of the landing page and URL for SEO.
  • Press Release – Publish a press release to announce your webinar, white paper, video, etc. that also links back to the landing page. Again, make sure that any relevant keywords are included in the URL, HTML tags, and body of the press release. This is an import step for reaching B2B buyers.
  • Social Media – Take the same coordinated approach across any social media channels, including Facebook posts or ads, Google+ posts, LinkedIn discussions or ads, blog posts, Twitter tweets, etc. Make sure any social media posts direct readers back to the same campaign landing page.
  • Direct Mail – Consider sending out a direct mail piece to attract additional visitors to your landing page. To make your direct mail piece user-friendly for the mobile crowd, consider including a QR code that can be read by many mobile phone apps to direct users to your custom landing page.

Once you’ve completed the checklist deliverables above, launch your campaign and then sit back and watch the results. Hopefully they will exceed your expectations. If not, there could be several reasons, including a poor quality email list (i.e. the wrong contacts/audience), a message that’s not compelling or does not speak to the pain points of your buyers, etc.

I hope these ideas are helpful, and best of luck in your email marketing adventures. Please subscribe to my blog and post a comment to let me hear your thoughts!

Product Positioning – Moore’s Chasm Formula is Still the Gold Standard

Being a product marketer at the core, I have always believed messaging and positioning are fundamental to marketing technology solutions because these exercises force you to have a business discussion with potential buyers. This is especially true when selling to senior level executives. My observation has been that executive buyers don’t really care about specific features, functions, speeds and feeds of the product. Instead, they care about what it can do for them, and more importantly, how it can help them achieve their strategic objectives.

Once you nail the product positioning, then you’ve tackled the hard part and everything else (e.g. presentations, market collateral, web content, etc.) falls into place. I recently participated in a positioning workshop for a software company I’ve been consulting for, and was very encouraged to see that they used Geoff Moore’s formula from Crossing the Chasm. Moore’s positioning formula was written in 1991 and has withstood the test of time. It is still the Gold Standard for positioning and highly effective. It answers several key questions, including who the target customer is, what their needs and challenges are, what type of product you are selling, why customers should buy it, and how it is unique in the marketplace (or why they should buy it from you instead of the competition).

Here is the formula:

  • For (target customer),
  • who (statement of need or opportunity).
  • The (product or company name)
  • is a (product category or market segment)
  • that (statement of key benefit – compelling reason to buy).
  • Unlike (primary competitive product or alternative),
  • our product (statement of primary differentiation).
If you take some time to apply this positioning formula to your product or business, you’ll experience more effective communications with prospective buyers. Here are a few tips to help you with this process:
  • Organize a few working sessions with leaders in your organization who understand your market and the needs of buyers.
  • Be creative – think of some powerful verbs and adjectives that will resonate with your buyers and differentiate your product.
  • Align your product with the strategic objectives of your buyer. If they see that buying and implementing your product can help them get an internal win, then you’re likely to get the sale. Take some time to research the business challenges your buyers are facing, and map the product capabilities that can help them overcome those challenges.
  • Iterate – positioning is a creative, critical, yet iterative process. If you keep at it, your message will continue to improve over time and with each new iteration.
Good luck and please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Why You Need Lead Nurturing

July 19, 2011 1 comment

Enterprise Technology Sales Cycles are Too Long
Many enterprise software and technology companies suffer from long sales cycles, especially when their prices approach 6 figures. It’s typical to have 9-12 month sales cycles for traditional perpetual license models. Although SaaS delivery has helped to compress this timeframe significantly, larger enterprise deals are still extending sales cycles for SaaS solutions. These long sales cycles present a significant challenge for marketers because the ROI may not be realized for 9-12 months after an investment is made. Imagine not closing a deal for 12 months after spending $30k-40k on a turnkey webinar sponsored by a top-tier industry magazine. Explain that to your CEO and you’re likely to get lambasted, or even worse, lose your marketing budget, job, or both. Businesses simply cannot afford to operate with this type of cash flow model.

Lead Nurturing Reduces Sales Cycles, Builds Credibility & Trust
This is where a sustainable Lead Nurturing program can help. By touching prospective buyers with high value content on a regular basis (e.g. every 2 weeks) through drip campaigns, you can keep your brand in front of them so that when they are ready to buy, they will come to you first. The key to any successful lead nurturing program lies in your ability to build confidence and trust with each drip campaign. By delivering high value content, prospects will continue to engage with you because they will perceive your company as a market leader. This high value content may include case studies of companies that are in the same industry, white papers, press articles, analyst reports, surveys, best practice guides, templates, blog posts, webinars, product demos, contests, or monthly newsletters. Each of these must be carefully designed to provide value to prospects – show them how to do something by offering tips, tricks, best practices, sample templates, checklists, or how-to guides.

5 Lead Nurturing Best Practices
Here are some best practices to consider for your Lead Nurturing program:

  1. Leverage Marketing Automation Tools – Although lead nurturing emails can be sent out individually through corporate email systems, Marketing Automation tools can automate the process to ensure that new drip campaigns are launched on a regular basis to a targeted contact list. These systems also include the ability to incorporate custom landing pages, lead nurturing rules, website visitor tracking, lead scoring, and reporting on campaign ROI.
  2. Use a Targeted Approach – A Lead Nurturing campaign should incorporate a series of drip campaigns, each building upon a central theme and targeted to a specific audience. For example, targeting CFOs with a series of articles on best practices for finance transformation would constitute a sound Lead Nurturing campaign. Each drip campaign would incorporate a new article, blog post, webinar or white paper on a specific aspect of finance transformation – all built around the central theme of what’s important to the office of the CFO. Be careful not to confuse your target audience by including information on products that may be irrelevant to this central theme.
  3. Always Deliver Value – An effective Lead Nurturing program builds credibility a trust with prospective customers by engaging them through high value content. This is the hard part because you have to know something about the people and business process end of the equation. My recommendation for technology companies is to engage an industry or domain expert or consultant because they often have experience in helping companies with implementation projects and know some of the best practices. Engaging experts in helping to create high value content can help you can position your company as the expert by sharing best practices with prospective buyers.
  4. Align Your Solution with Strategic Objectives – Understanding the strategic objectives of your buyer is another critical success factor in Lead Nurturing. If you know what these strategic objectives are, then find a creative way to align your technology solution with those objectives. Strategic objectives are typically high level goals designed to increase business performance such as increasing efficiency, mitigating risk, improving compliance, or global expansion. What are the top 3-5 strategic objectives your economic buyer/decision maker is concerned with? Nail these down, and tell a story through your high value content that allows the buyer to achieve those goals by leveraging your technology solution. When you look at selling in this light, you’re actually partnering with customers to deliver solutions that enable them to meet their strategic objectives. It becomes a win-win scenario for both buyer and seller.
  5. Measure & Track ROI – A Lead Nurturing program is all for naught if you don’t have an effective way to measure its effectiveness. At a minimum, you’ll need a few reports to track leads, including lead score, response rates, and lead follow-up activities. Make sure you can track how much money was spent on a particular campaign, which leads were turned over to sales, which ones resulted in closed sales, and how much revenue was brought in for each deal. A campaign ROI report should be created to track the ROI for each campaign over time. If your organization is using a CRM system to track sales opportunities, then make sure your marketing automation system has an integration with the CRM system so that you can run a campaign ROI report on a periodic basis.

In summary, if you’re organization suffers from long sales cycles and needs to spend extra time educating prospective customers, then consider incorporating a Lead Nurturing program into your marketing mix. It is a best practice for marketing to enterprise decision makers and can significantly shorten sales cycles, thereby increasing revenue.

If you have any comments, thoughts or suggestions, please send me an email.

Good luck!

5 Ways to Build Confidence & Trust with Prospects

In any enterprise technology sales cycle, it’s critical to earn the confidence and trust of prospective customers before you can earn their business. They need to know that you’re the vendor who understands their unique needs and can deliver a solution to make their project a success. Marketing should play a key role in this process. Here are 5 practical ways marketing can help accomplish this goal:

  • Keep the Buzz Alive – Stay in front of your leads and prospects on a regular basis with news on new product offerings, new features and enhancements, success stories from other customers, news on recent industry awards, and announcements on upcoming events or webinars. It’s important to maintain a high level of buzz about your company because it projects a positive image that you have the most momentum compared to your competition. You’ll need a CRM system and an email marketing tool or marketing automation system to send out regular email announcements and newsletters to your contact list.
  • Share Best Practices – If you are a technology vendor, prospective customers will most likely view your company as an expert. They want to know about best practices for integrating your technology with their people and unique business processes. It’s easy for technology vendors to get bogged down in the details of product features and benefits, but don’t forget that the customer will likely need a significant amount of help on the people and process end of the equation. Sharing success stories on what other companies are doing with your software or best practices are effective ways to position your company as THE expert. For example, you may want to share a template for a policy or operating procedure for prospects to use as a starting point. Many times, your prospects don’t know what they don’t know, so this is an excellent way show them the right way to approach the problem. Other examples may include a business process blueprint, sample workflows, examples of efficient ways to configure the software, or other tidbits of useful information from your consulting team.
  • Offer Something of Value – Oftentimes creating buzz and sharing best practices may not be enough to get a prospect’s attention. You can “up the ante” and identify more serious buyers by offering something of value. At Prodiance, our software could perform a deep dive diagnostic of complex Excel spreadsheets, so we offered a Free Spreadsheet Diagnostic in all of our webinars. It was an incredibly popular campaign, and after each webinar we had numerous requests coming in. Prospects would send us one of their complex spreadsheets, and we would run it through the software diagnostics for them at no cost, and then present the results back to them and even offer a few recommendations. This exercise was much less in-depth than a proof of concept, and was typically performed by an in-house spreadsheet domain expert. It allowed our prospects to see how the software would work with their data, and it often uncovered serious logic errors. On several occasions, we found spreadsheet errors in the $ millions! What small token can you offer that is of tremendous value to a prospective customer?
  • Take the High Road Against Competition – This can be a somewhat controversial topic among technology vendors, but I believe in taking the high road when you are competing. Talking negative about competitors to prospective customers cheapens the image of your company and lowers your credibility. It’s always better to focus on the solution YOUR company is selling and highlight its unique features, attributes, and benefits. If you select these unique features carefully (based on who you are competing against), they can be designed to also point out weaknesses in the competitor’s solution. For example, if you know the competition’s solution is weak in terms of reporting and analytics, then make sure to highlight the strengths and advantages of your product’s reporting dashboard and leave it at that. This can be accomplished through a demo, marketing brief with screen shots, YouTube video, press release, white paper, or a webinar. There is no need to even bring up the competition in sales discussions regarding this feature because you have already planted a land mine for competitors (assuming you have presented your solution before they have). If your company has domain expertise and competitors don’t, then highlight it but don’t bash the competition.
I hope these tips are helpful for identifying ways to build confidence and trust through enterprise marketing best practices. What I have shared here is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more ways to build. Please feel free to send me your comments, thoughts, or suggestions. What has worked well for you?

Welcome to!

Eric Perry

Eric Perry, high tech marketeer

This blog is dedicated to sharing strategies, best practices, and the latest news about enterprise software technology marketing. My name is Eric Perry and I have spent the past 11 years of my 16 year career in marketing leadership roles with OnDisplay, Vignette, Documentum, EMC, Scientific Software (acquired by Agilent Technologies 2005), and Prodiance (acquired by Microsoft, June 2011). With each company (particularly Prodiance), we had to educate buyers that they had a problem in order to get them interested in buying our software applications. This process involved aligning the technology and the problem with their strategic objectives. Then we had to spend time educating them about the benefits of leveraging technology to solve their problem to create a sustainable business process. This solution sales and marketing approach eventually led to purchase decisions, and in many cases, wider adoption of the technology leading to enterprise roll outs. In effect, we were creating new markets and new software categories, hence the name Chief Market Maker.

By reading my blog, I hope you can benefit from the lessons and best practices I have learned along the way. Please subscribe and feel free to comment, share my posts, or send me an email with your ideas or business proposal.


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