5 Key Insights to Prime Your Inbound Marketing Pipeline

June 28, 2012

Today, our best (highest quality and velocity) leads are coming from inbound marketing. In this post, you’ll learn about the business climate shaping this trend and important content creation insights that can maximize the value of your inbound marketing efforts.

1.  Inbound marketing is the new frontier for lead generation.

Today, buyers control the journey toward a closed deal. According to SiriusDecisions, by 2015, more than 71% of an organization’s leads will come via inbound marketing. Yet, their recent research brief “Inbound Marketing: Findings From Our Survey”  indicates that fewer than half of organizations today have defined an enterprise-wide inbound marketing strategy. This means that the playing field is wide open and you have an opportunity to become a B2B inbound marketing leader.

5 Components of Inbound Marketing, by Eric Wittlake

2.  Be found through the recommendation of others and delight everyone that finds you.

I believe that this recommendation offered by my esteemed colleague and celebrated B2B blogger Eric Wittlake in his blog post “5  Key Elements of Modern Inbound Marketing” will give you the greatest return on your inbound marketing efforts. In this post, Eric sums up the opportunities of inbound marketing today as follows:  Modern inbound marketing is built around the core of your content and the experience it is wrapped in. This content and experience is discovered through organic search, other people’s social media recommendations and earned coverage from media, analysts and other publishers. The rest of this post is focused on “delighting everyone that finds you” to ensure that you are found.

3.  Deliver content that has meaning for your audience.

Content becomes discoverable when it is relevant. When you understand the buyer’s pain points and produce content designed specifically to meet those needs, you maximize the odds that your content will be read—and shared. In fact, I advised a prospect today with limited money, time and resources that they’d get the most return on their marketing investment by discovering what kind of content their audience wants and then dedicating their resources to creating that content and leading that conversation.

4.  Stand in your buyer’s shoes.

Don’t forget that putting content at the heart of everything you do becomes powerful when you put the buyer at the heart of everything you say. Don’t stand in your own shoes and talk about your own agenda. Write content from a buyer-centric perspective—to help answer questions, solve problems and reveal opportunities for that buyer.

5.  Increase your buyer-centric marketing intelligence.

You can learn more about how to become a leader in inbound marketing in my post Take 4 Steps Back for 1 Giant Leap Forward: The Buyer-Centric Marketing Model where you can review the four (often overlooked) steps to attract savvy B2B buyers and increase pipeline efficiency.

In summary: When content is GREAT, it is inspired by what your prospect or customer cares about most. And they can’t wait to read it, apply its insights and then spread the word. This is the power source behind high-impact inbound marketing. Put this principle into play now and you’ll have a strategic advantage in satisfying buyers all the way to the purchase.




Top 5 Takeaways from SiriusDecisions Summit 2012

June 27, 2012

The SiriusDecisions Summit is always a professional highlight for me. This year’s event in Scottsdale, Arizona from May 22-24, 2012 brought together 1,500 best-in-class B2B marketers and confirmed that accountable marketing is a key business priority today, even in the C-Suite. I was delighted to hear “Out with the big, in with the boutique!” suggesting that the big agency has fallen out of favor and the B2B boutique agency is now in the sweet spot for targeted marketing collaboration. I couldn’t agree more. Following were my top five takeaways from the new research and insights presented:

1.   Today’s CMO is serious about demand creation.

Results and measurement are soundly at the top of the priority list for the CMO today. 2/1 CMOs surveyed said they would spend an additional 10% of their marketing budget on demand creation. Other options selected, in descending order, were: brand, content, marketing operations, enablement, social, and channel.

2.   Marketers need to prioritize mobile. 

We need to approach all marketing challenges with a mobile-first mindset – today and in the future. According to MarketingSherpa, 64% of business executives are accessing emails by mobile device today.* And Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2015, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use.** Now that mobile is the fastest-growing access and delivery method for content delivery, it’s time for a mobile-first point of view. I’ve written about maximizing the impact of mobile here, and in a future blog post I may revisit my recommendations in light of these insights.

* The Horrible Truth About Mobile Email
** New Study Shows the Mobile Web Will Rule by 2015 [STATS]

3.   Social media is the #1 skill every marketer should have. 

As buyer journeys and sales needs change, so do the roles of marketers. It’s time to get smart(er) about social media. Other necessary skills identified for today’s market, in descending order, include: customer marketing, marketing technology, content marketing and digital marketing.

4.   There is an alchemy that happens in person with colleagues and       clients!

Mark Emond & Lauren Goldstein

I was up at 5:30 a.m. one morning hiking Camelback with the BNJ team and our client from Autodesk. At the summit, another hiker looked at me and asked, “Are you LaurenOnDemand?” Turns out, Mark Emond from IBM has been reading my blog and was looking forward to connecting at the conference; and he found me at the top of a mountain! This was a good reminder to make yourself findable where your readers are most likely to be—and an affirmation that my blog is making this connection.

5.   The SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall has been rearchitected.

BNJ was one of the early adopters of the demand waterfall architected by SiriusDecisions—the standard for measuring and optimizing demand creation efforts since 2002—and we have found it to be an essential tool in creating common ground among marketers. To reflect today’s increasingly complex demand creation environment, SiriusDecisions has rearchitected the waterfall to include the flows and conversions of all demand that a B2B organization creates, not just the demand that has been sourced by marketing. The new waterfall also singles out inbound marketing, automation and teleprospecting as mission critical, rather than evolutionary components of a demand creation engine. This redesign to reflect a more complete view of the journey demand takes from cold to close, and the different points at which it originates.*The new Demand Waterfall was unveiled at the summit.

The Rearchitected Demand Waterfall

* SiriusDecisions Research Brief: The Demand Waterfall, Rearchitected

The most important and gratifying change, in my opinion, is the distinction made between inbound and outbound marketing—separated to reflect the complexity of today’s reality in which inbound marketing is proving to deliver better leads and faster conversions. 

Thank you, SiriusDecisions, for another inspiring and invigorating dose of B2B marketing intelligence. If we connected at the SiriusDecisions Summit this year, I am grateful—and I look forward to keeping in touch. If we didn’t, I hope to see you at the 2013 SiriusDecisions Summit: my #1-rated conference for keeping your finger on the pulse and your name in the game.

I’d love to hear feedback from others who attended – what were the key highlights for you?

The BNJ Team with Autodesk Client


EXCLUSIVE: Research-Based Insight into the CIO—and how it can Drive Marketing Success

February 9, 2012

For B2B tech marketers, it’s critical to understand the CIO’s mindset, motivators and attitude toward marketing.

CIOs today play a vital role within their organizations as change agents—not just functional heads. They care about solutions that will help propel the business forward, and if you can connect with these decision makers, you have a truly valuable high-level ally.

But to engage buyers like the CIO and move them through the sales cycle, you need to stay focused on all the things that make them tick (and what things turn them off). That’s where building an in-depth CIO buyer profile, or persona, really pays off.

Revealing what matters most

Recently, my organization created research-based buyer profiles for the CIO and several other decision makers and influencers by:

  • Interviewing the audience (buyers and potential buyers)
  • Drawing on publicly available and paid research reports
  • Interviewing sales teams (who often have the closest ear to the buyer)
  • Applying plenty of quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Employing social listening

The result is a concentrated view of the CIO that you can capture at a glance—a poster that acts as a reliable sense-check for every marketing initiative (snippets of this are featured in this post). It highlights how and why the CIO thinks and responds when approached by tech partners, as well as an intimate summary of the CIO’s general mindset (in the first-person):

“These are exciting times. There’s huge opportunity for me and my team, but also a fair amount of risk. Some days I’m drinking from the fire hose, trying to keep up with the challenges of my new role and the information needs of my company. Now I have a revenue number to hit and my responsibilities are global! But I love that I have greater visibility within the company and can make a greater contribution to helping our company win in the marketplace. I feel it is my responsibility to leverage our business needs into more transformational processes and innovation. I expect my technology partners to be reliable, accountable, innovative and to make my team look good.”

Just the facts, please

Important highlights of the CIO buyer profile include questions and issues CIOs keep in mind when considering tech solutions in their roles as  business strategist, functional head, and transformational leader. Good insights, but what can you put into practice? Here’s a peek at one of the most useful do’s-and-don’ts lists in our CIO profile:

       CIO Communication Preferences

  1. Technical, data-driven facts
  2. Credible blogs and news pertaining to partnerships, who’s investing, new trends and technologies
  3. White papers that outline decision points and content that illustrates the implications of those decisions
  4. Case studies that detail a complex issue and how it was solved
  5. A way to measure the potential impact of the solution on my unique environment

“I ignore marketing language that makes promises but fails to quantify how or why. Don’t market down to me. I also ignore generic emails from people I don’t know and anything that isn’t factual or analytical in nature.”

Can’t do the deep dive? Two ways I can help.

1. Email me at laureng@bnj.com to request your own copy of the research-based CIO profile featured here.

2. See my quick guide to building B2B buyer profiles in a pinch. Even simply tuning into resources like CIO.com’s Top Ten Tech Predictions for 2012 will help you keep CIO concerns and views top of mind. What will it mean for your CIO prospect if:

  • The global economy looms larger?
  • The CFO and CMO become key collaborators?
  • Virtualization goes viral?
  • Consumerization of IT explodes?

I’d love to hear how buyer profiles are shaping your marketing efforts. Please share your comments!



Ignite the Pipeline: Personalized, Integrated Communications Drive Revenue for B2B Enterprise Organization

February 8, 2012

Ready to be a marketing rockstar?

There’s buzz in the air at this year’s Online Marketing Summit in San Diego (#oms12) and everyone is striving toward the same end game: Igniting their marketing!

The annual congregation of digital marketers in San Diego to evolve their practice shares the same casual, friendly community I’ve enjoyed in the past, but the event’s explosive growth from 500 attendees in 2010 to nearly 1500 this year represents an industry that is growing up fast. As a digital native focused on B2B demand creation, I am delighted that OMS attendees understand the value of  leveraging buyer insights across channels to produce relevant, measurable experiences!  As evident in keynote address and draw for my session “Ignite the Pipeline: Personalized, Integrated Communications Drives Revenue for Nuance Software” the thirst for advanced strategies that push the bounds of marketing technology to design multi-channel, measurable experiences is alive and well at OMS.

The wide array of conference tracks and sessions makes one thing clear: there’s no silver bullet. Search, social, conversion,  content, email, A/B testing, and marketing automation are all important pieces of the mix. But to truly connect with prospects and customers and move them through the sales funnel you need insights and integration. PERIOD.

In my OMS presentation, I shared a truly integrated account-based marketing model that allowed Nuance Software to:

  • Engage 46% of their most important customers and prospects
  • Drive over $6M to their pipeline
  • Deliver a 19-to-1 ROI on their marketing investment
  • Enable sales with personalized tools to support prospects and customers engagement

Please check out the attached slideshare presentation.

Related Post:

Three Reasons Why Account-Based Marketing Should Be a Priority in B2B…And 5 Steps for Getting Started


Should B2B Marketers Embrace Gamification?

July 20, 2011

gamification

Score! How and why to gamify your B2B demand generation strategy (it’s not just because everybody’s doing it).

As a B2B marketer, you’ve likely heard the term “gamification” more than once in the past several months.

Or, if you attended SXSW in March 2011, you probably heard it 5,000 times. And gamification is making the big-business news, too: Recently, on the Forbes AdVoice blog, Tim Clark@SAP mused, “It was Ben Franklin who once said ‘in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.’ If Ben were alive today, I wonder if he’d modify his now-legendary quote to include gamification.”

So what is gamification, and how does it apply to B2B marketing?

Gamification Defined:

Forrester’s defines gamification as: The insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior. 

Now, how does it relate to our B2B world?

“Gamification describes the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change,” said Brian Burke, an analyst at Gartner. “Enterprise architects, CIOs and IT planners must be aware of, and lead, the business trend of gamification, educate their business counterparts and collaborate in the evaluation of opportunities within the organization.”

Does Gamification Make Sense for B2B Marketers?

Absolutely! Interactive and B2B marketers can use game mechanics to motivate action and drive engagement with prospects, customers, channel partners, sales… just about any audience, really. The key to making it more than just a fun attention-getter is, as always, to clarify the actions and metrics you expect to result from gameplay.

The essential game dynamic works like this:

  • It begins with motivation—the incentives that will trigger people’s interest in playing the game.
  • The motivations drive actions that are fulfilled by rewards.
  • The rewards give players a sense of achievement that reinforce the initial motivations.
  • Repeat!

If at this point you’re thinking, “B2B marketers have been integrating gamification into marketing programs for years,” I agree—this is not our first rodeo! The best developer contests and games put on by companies like IBM, Oracle, Intel and Cisco feature all of the most powerful game mechanics like challenge, peer recognition, social status, reward and community.

However, there’s been some new smart thinking (and plenty of buzz) about how to best apply game theory to marketing. One of the most cogent gamification analyses comes from Seth Priebatsch, a thought-leader and Chief Ninja at gaming platform start-up SCVNGR. His SxSW 2011 keynote on how “the game layer” is building influence (and driving action) among audiences is worth your time to watch:

How Do I Start Thinking About Gamification for B2B Marketing?

As with any B2B marketing activity, you need to put the buyer and their business needs at the forefront of your mind. R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, offers plenty of useful perspective and direction in “Trends: 5 Engagement Factors For Gamification And The Enterprise.” Start with his simple tips on how businesses can apply game mechanics and dynamics to improve engagement and participation:

  1. Intrigue. Content and story line often represent the consumer tech side. The enterprise needs to develop relevant content to keep users engage.  Content could include help topics, related information, user generated comments, etc.
  2. Reward. Both non-monetary and monetary incentives can be deployed. Rewards should match level of difficulty so users gain a sense of accomplishment.  Non-monetary rewards could include exclusive information, access, or recognition.
  3. Status. Leaderboards codify status in gamification. Leader boards reward status and provide a recognition mechanism as well as a way to tier users.  A robust analytics platform must align with the objectives of gamification and support reward systems.
  4. Community. Social is a key part of gamification. Users want to connect, share, and reach out to other “players”.  Expect integration back to mobile and social platforms.
  5. Challenge. Users must earn a sense of accomplishment to remain engaged. Gamification in the enterprise should tie back to the achievement of levels with increasing difficulty. Challenges will tie back to reward and intrigue over time.

Now, time to work on your game plan!

Related Links

R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO of Constellation Research

Trends: 5 Engagement Factors For Gamification And The Enterprise

Death, Taxes and Video Games by Tim Clarke@SAP

 


4 Must-Dos to Shift from Outbound to Inbound B2B Demand Generation

April 29, 2011

four trees

“According to SiriusDecisions, inbound marketing will drive more than 70% of all leads generated by 2015.”

Note from Lauren: Eric Wittlake from Digital B2B Marketing gives us his media insider point of view as my guest blogger this week.

Underlying the shift to inbound marketing is a changing environment and audience mindset, not only a changing media landscape. Today, we are inundated with advertising, email and sales calls that distract us from our real work or play. We are living in a real time world with real-time demands. We don’t have time for unwanted distraction and we cannot afford delay.

For you as a marketer, this isn’t a shift in channels, it is an insight into your audience. Your response should not be to focus on inbound channels. Instead, focus your attention on serving your audience – an audience that is starved for time and inundated with messages – across all inbound and outbound channels. To outbound marketers and advertisers, this requires some new approaches to traditional marketing activities.

Here are four changes in approach that can be applied to outbound marketing.

  • Highlight great content. Inbound is about your information being discovered. Use outbound marketing to highlight content worth discovering.
  • Provide early stage information. With few exceptions, most people reached through outbound marketing are early stage. You need to loosen the status quo, not jump straight to sealing the deal.
  • Make it sharable. Social is a key inbound marketing channel, and content that is locked up behind registration is far less likely to be shared. Always include content, freely accessible, that is worth sharing—and make it easy to share.
  • Listen. If your content is being shared or linked to, say thanks, post a comment, or otherwise engage. This is an opportunity to start a conversation and improve your inbound marketing results going forward.

We are increasingly immune to or even distrustful of marketing. It is time to stop making your outbound marketing look like, well, marketing. Start applying an inbound mindset and use outbound marketing to deliver valuable information to a larger audience and amplifying your inbound marketing activity.

About the Author

Eric Wittlake is the Sr. Media Director at Babcock & Jenkins where he works with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs. You can connect with Eric on Twitter at @wittlake or on his Digital B2B Marketing blog.


The Scoop on Digital Watermarks for B2B Demand Generation

April 8, 2011

Digital watermarks are QR codes without the clunkiness. Here’s why you should put them on your demand generation radar now.

Recently, I wrote about why QR codes are gaining a more prominent place in the B2B marketing toolkit. Now I believe the same drivers apply to a similar but sleeker mobile awareness technology: digital watermarks.

Making print pieces into web browsers with a click

Developed by Digimarc, watermarking technology offers all the benefits of a QR code…without the clunky mark. Unlike QR codes, digital watermarks can be embedded in several places within a page, poster, etc. They’re invisible to the eye but instantly viewable via a smartphone:

“The Digimarc Discover Platform uses multiple content identification technologies — digital watermarking, audio fingerprinting and barcode detection — to give smartphones the ability to “see, hear and recognize” different forms of media.

‘Consumers simply launch an app and point their phone at the item they are interested in. Digimarc Discover then delivers the corresponding choices back to the phone, such as view a video, launch an app, share with a friend, save for later or make a purchase.”

Now, because digital watermarking is not yet widespread, advertisers and marketers will still need to “prompt” the audience to use their phone/app to scan the image in order to connect with great online/mobile content.

However, the power of these digital watermarks is awesome—visually, and in terms of the flexibility of application.

And the watermarks aren’t meant to be the only call to action—they reinforce the CTA. (And that’s not a new phenom in itself—back in the day, having a BRC on a direct mail package often served as response reinforcement, not the only means of response.)

Think that sounds great for consumers but irrelevant for B2B? Well, according to Forbes Insight research, 82% of business executives have a smartphone, and more than half of them use it as their primary communication device. Also, connecting targets to content via a watermark is a great way to track responses.

I believe the main criterion for integrating digital watermarks into your demand generation programs is the same as it is for QR codes: they can deliver high value when developed to support a specific audience’s needs, to meet a clearly defined goal in your demand generation program.

If you or someone on your creative or media teams want to play around with the technology, check out the free beta of the Digimarc Discover Online Services Portal (OSP), available until May 31, 2011.

And let me know what you think in the comments!

Related Post: The What-Why-When of QR Codes for B2B Demand Generation Marketers


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