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.

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


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.

Jay Baer Interview, Part 3: The Realistic Social Media Cost and Commitment for B2B Demand Generation

April 22, 2011

Jay Baer Interview, Part 3 from LaurenOnDemand on Vimeo.

Jay Baer sums up the true cost of social media—and the commitment it takes to get results.

In the last part of our interview, Jay Baer spelled out the true cost (and worth) of social media for B2B companies. The short story is: nothing is really “free” and results take time—but it’s worth it.

Watch Part Three of our interview now or skim the highlights below.

LOD: All of this social media we’ve talked about…it’s fast and easy right? [Laughs.] What’s the best advice we can give to our B2B clients to help them embark on social media with a realistic context?

JB: It’s not inexpensive; it’s just different expensive. You’re trading production dollars or media dollars for labor dollars.

Social take a long time. You’re winning hearts and minds one at a time. It takes a long time for the benefits to show themselves. You don’t just do social media for a quarter or a year; you’re going to be doing some form of social forever.

LOD: It’s persistent, it’s not a campaign.

JB: There’s no expiration date on social media.

LOD: Any final tips for B2B marketers?

JB: At its core, social media is more important for B2B than it is for B2C. You have fewer customers, so the opinions of each of them are magnified in their importance.

Also, B2B is typically highly researched, so the opinions of existing customers matter a lot; and the B2B purchase cycles are influenced at a very high level by search. And search and social are like the Lone Ranger and Tonto!

Many thanks to Jay for his time and his insights!

Related Links:

The Now Revolution

Convince & Convert—Jay Baer’s blog

Jay Baer Interview, Part One: Three Social Media Must-Do’s for B2B Demand Generation

Jay Baer Interview, Part Two: “Let’s Video the Making of a White Paper” for B2B Demand Generation

Jay Baer Interview, Part One: Three Social Media Must-Do’s for B2B Demand Generation

April 21, 2011

Timely (and tested) B2B-specific social media recommendations from Jay Baer—live!

I’ve really got to hand it to Jay Baer, author of The Now Revolution and the Convince & Convert blog. The man has stamina! Between delivering a full day of seminars and an evening presentation, Jay kindly spoke with me about how to succeed with social media in B2B.

Watch part one of our interview now or skim the highlights below. (Jay gave me a lot of gems in just 10 minutes—too many for one post!—so look out for parts two and three of our conversation soon.)

LOD: A key theme today was understanding why you do social media, not just what the tasks and tools are. Can you tell me more about that?

JB: Social media doesn’t work in isolation. It’s an ingredient, not an entree.

There are three options for understanding how social media fits in with your company objectives:

  • Awareness: trying to make people aware of your product or service who aren’t already aware of you;
  • Sales: Using social touches to nudge people toward a sale or lead; or
  • Loyalty: Getting your existing customers to buy from you a second or third time and become volunteer marketers.

You’ve got to pick one of those.

LOD: A lot of our clients want to tackle more than one, and I think it’s good guidance to say, let’s do one really well, and maybe over time we can take on more.

LOD: What are the three things every B2B company should do when embarking on social?”

JB: Creating content and telling your story is really important, especially if there’s not a lot of existing chatter about your company. You need to create things for people to chatter about.

Recognizing that you still have be prepared to answer the social media telephone…on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or in a blog post.

And what B2B companies are notoriously bad at: humanizing the company. B2B companies have always been reluctant to make their people the star. But people want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. That kinship comes from “personal” not from “company.”

LOD: We talk a lot with clients about how we can support their social strategy, but the content has to come from people within the organization or other thought leaders in the industry.

JB: You can’t outsource your voice. It smacks of inauthenticity and I don’t think it’s a very useful agency service. If there’s a Twitter crisis, are you going to be able to react as fast as someone who works for that company? No. I think agencies should hold the rudder and let the company hold the wheel.

Coming up in Part Two: “What is the best way to get the most out of your content?”

Related Links:

The Now Revolution

Convince & Convert—Jay Baer’s blog

The Jay Baer Visit: 6 Quick Insights and 4 of His Valuable Links

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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