Marketing Automation

The Hidden Value of Marketing Automation Software

resize 250x237 The Hidden Value of Marketing Automation SoftwareMarketing automation integrates and automates the scheduling and tracking of marketing campaigns. Marketing campaign automation helps businesses integrate processes that have previously been performed manually, allowing them to become much more efficient. In addition, marketing campaign automation also creates opportunities for numerous new marketing processes that boost the cost-effectiveness, efficiency and reach of overall marketing efforts. 

VISIBLE BENEFITS OF MARKETING AUTOMATION

One of the biggest benefits of marketing campaign automation is that it reduces and eliminates a multitude of repetitive tasks associated with the marketing process. Marketing automation software can easily divide and classify customers, providing customer segmentation and subsequent campaign management. This type of automation simplifies identifying target audiences and measuring the efficiency of allocated resources.

Beyond segmentation, marketing automation software can be used to communicate with prospects in a variety of ways. An email management campaign can be developed to send pre-formatted messages and content about products and services. Marketing automation software can be used to generate responses that further segment the targeted audiences, and send additional nurturing communications geared to meet the needs of specific individuals within each group.

Even when prospects do not respond, marketing automation software can identify where prospects drop off, and help retain them with ongoing targeted messages. Marketing automation software is the best solution for developing and implementing email marketing, direct mail and other channels to manage sales campaigns that drive revenue. Sales benefits of marketing campaign automation include increased lead conversion rates, increased average sale, increased overall sales and better forecast accuracy.

HIDDEN BENEFITS OF MARKETING AUTOMATION

One of the biggest hidden benefits of marketing campaign automation is that it allows marketers to do less and be more. In recent years marketers and organizations have grappled with the challenge of needing to reach thousands, if not millions, of prospects utilizing integrated communications that reach across multiple channels at numerous times. Beyond the dizzying magnitude of this task alone, these prospects must be communicated with in a manner that is personalized and unique to their needs and preferences. Without marketing campaign automation, meeting these objectives would require an immense allocation of time and man hours. However, by automating these processes, marketers are able to focus more time and resources on fine-tuning existing campaigns for maximum efficiency and implementing additional marketing efforts.

Management Guru Peter Drucker once wrote “Marketing is the distinguishing unique function of the business.” OK, no pressure there. Yet, if you were to ask any marketer or their boss what marketing entails they will tell you that marketing encompasses much, much more. Marketing is responsible for defining the business identity and creating a need for the businesses products and services in the minds of the targeted audiences. While consistently remaining under budget and within deadlines. In addition to streamlining processes and maximizing budgets, marketing campaign automation takes the guess work out of many marketing functions and as a result can provide the reliable benefit of lasting stress relief.

Marketing campaign automation provides an additional hidden benefit, which is perhaps one of the most important objectives of any business, and that is to have happier, more satisfied customers. Marketing automation can eliminate frustrating communications that fail to meet customer needs, and it can also help marketers anticipate customer needs and respond accordingly. In addition, marketing automation programs can reward customers and keep them coming back for more. Marketing automation can help marketers respond to customer needs in real-time, unlike with manual systems where a time delay can often lead to an unhappy customer.

Marketing automation holds many more visible and hidden benefits. For more information, visit our Marketing Automation Buyer’s Guide page.an

Are You Using Digital Disruption to Move Your Business Forward?

Disruption 250x219 Are You Using Digital Disruption to Move Your Business Forward?In his new book Digital Disruption, James McQuivey, a Forrester principal analyst, explains that technological advances are creating opportunities for more people to meet more customer needs than ever before at lower costs– and that is the essence of digital disruption.

While some businesses have been digitally disrupted, the ones listed below have been completely transformed by the digital age of media that has evolved over the past 20 years.

  • The music business (YouTube, iTunes)
  • Banking and insurance (online banking, photo deposits, digital signatures)
  • Photography (film is nearly extinct)
  • Retailing (bricks and mortar are now optional)
  • Travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak)
  • Newspaper and magazine publishing (online subscriptions)
  • Telecoms (home phones are going extinct, VOIP)

According to McQuivey, digital disruption is about to completely change how companies do business. Digital tools and digital platforms are driving the cost of innovation down to nearly zero, causing at least 10 times as many innovators to rush into your market while operating at one-tenth the cost that you do.

This is one reason companies are hiring or stealing the brightest digital innovators in the marketplace like Jeff Hammerbacher, data entrepreneur, who was one of Facebook’s first employees and who is now the co-founder of Cloudera (a Silicon Valley software start-up).

IT, app and software geniuses are in demand today because of the need for companies to protect themselves against digital disruption. Companies needed the brightest and future-forward thinkers on board to retool their businesses to stay ahead of the just-in-time needs of their customers.

 

3 Ways Your Company Can Stay Ahead of Digital Disruption

Ever-advancing technology forces any company from a lube shop to an international airline to leverage technology to speak one-on-one with its customers and deliver competitive costs, convenient services and products that exceed their expectations.

Personalize Your Interactions. Using well-oiled and captured data enables you as a savvy marketer to send customer communications that are relevant and personalized. Whether you use highly personalized email or variable data print pieces your marketing can be extremely targeted. Consumers welcome personalized offers. They love that you know their likes and market accordingly. Are you using data-driven marketing to optimize your appeal to individual customers?

The Need for Speed. Real-time interactions separate the amateur from the pros in marketing and product delivery. Just look at Oreo’s response to the Super Bowl blackout as lesson #1.

Integrate and Automate. If you haven’t already integrated your marketing channels and platforms, you’re already at risk of digital disruption. Get all your customer contact points talking to one another seamlessly and then tap the power of marketing automation to extend your reach and shorten the time to market. Using sales force automation tools and your CRM (customer relationship management) system you can marketing in a trigger based fashion for maximum customer engagement.

If this post frightens you, perhaps it should. Talk to any CEO or CMO and ask them about their top concerns with the business and chances are disruption and marketing effectiveness will be in the top five. The good news is there are industry experts and talent on hand to help you transform and deliver. Unfortunately this is an endless process.

 

Marketing Management & Execution Solutions: So What Do You Call Them?

Reading a dictionary

Searching for the right words to describe the marketing automation, management, or exection systems you're looking for? Maybe we can help.

**This is a re-post from Mail Print’s early days of blogging.  Our readership has grown quite a bit since then, so I wanted to resurrect an early post.  Enjoy!

Marketing Asset Management. Print Automation. Marketing Automation. Communications Portals. Distributed Marketing. Web-To-Print. Confused yet?

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything fit in a nice, neat package that is easy to understand and explain?  In the world of marketing communications management, many people would think the above terms all mean the same thing.  I actually think they don’t.  I think there are so many terms because each means something a little different:

Marketing Asset Management:

Focuses on creating an online library of digital marketing assets such as logos, templates, stock photography, videos and radio ads  for use by centralized marketing staff or a network of remote users.

Distributed Marketing:

A term coined to define organizations that have many local markets that are marketed to differently, whether marketing strategy and execution is controlled by a central marketing department or the local stores and locations.

Web-to-Print:

The ability to order printed materials through an online printing management system. Typically, this reduces a company’s inventory waste and improves the customization available on the printed pieces.

Communications Portal:

A central repository for ordering and downloading all types of marketing communications and assets, including email, logos, direct mail, radio commercials, fliers, buck slips, etc.  Marketing Communications Portalsare very useful for distributed marketing organizations.

Print Automation:

Eliminates human intervention in creating printed pieces.    This could be obtained via a web-to-print application or communications portal that also employs print automation, or could be a standalone system that creates printed pieces automatically based upon data streams and live data feeds.

Marketing Automation:

The process of triggering marketing communications to a specific individual or audience segment without human intervention.  This differs from print automation in that the automated marketing campaigns could include email, direct mail and other channels, by themselves or combined.

I’m sure there are many more terms and buzz words that I haven’t noted here. Just like any rapidly advancing technology solution, new terms are created every day.  The most important thing to understand is what you really need in a solution, regardless of what it is called.


How One Print Error Can Cost a Company or Country Billions (or more)

Reducing Print Mistakes through Print AutomationTo err is human. For the Federal Reserve to err when printing 1.1 billion in redesigned $100 bills led to $110 billion in unusable dollars, which is the equivalent to a tenth of the worldwide U.S. currency.

Of course these botch bills can be destroyed over the course of many years, but they still cost the government 12 cents a piece to print, which means the Federal Reserve spent about $120 million printing bills with errors that must be pitched.

Cutting Printing Mistakes Can Save a Business Thousands

Once the ink hits the paper, there’s no turning back. Printers site that they lose one to 20 percent of annual sales because of spoilage (projects that get tossed because of typos, misplaced decimal points, and errors that slip into print).  InfoTrends reports that businesses generally toss 31% of all printed material due to errors and obsolescence.

By putting stringent pre-press and proofing processes in place, a company can reduce waste. For example, if a company purchases $2 million in paper each year, saving one copy out of every 100 will yield an annual paper savings of $20,000. Remakes and waste can be measured using the same method.

Switching to print automation drastically reduces errors by removing the human interim step and going straight from database to digital press without the manual need to hand off files (potentially the wrong file).

Slowing down and putting a couple extra proofing passes into your process can mean the difference in tossing millions of brochures instead of gaining millions in new business.

One online business entrepreneur calculated that a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half for Internet based businesses. Not only do sales drop, so does a company’s credibility.

Errors Are a Costly Signs of the Times

We live in a rushed, multi-tasking society. Unless we slow down and concentrate on the moment, we’re very likely to let errors slip through showing up in our print and digital communications.

Finding and correcting errors in public signage across the country turned Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson into national heroes as well as well-known authors. In their book. The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time, Deck and Herson unearthed 400 spelling and grammar errors in storefront signage. Mistakes include cappuccino spelled, cappachino and capucino, and shipping spelled with one “p” or dining room spelled with two “n’s.”

The traveling proofreading friends also flagged menus with “crap-stuffed sole” instead of “crab-stuffed sole.”

History Making Typos

While some typos create a stir and fade from memory in short order, some have endured the test of time and even changed history.

Spinach

The iron content of spinach became misrepresented because a decimal was placed to far to the right in an 1870 German study. The typo that endured 140 years in print showed spinach having 10 times the iron content of what was actually in the vegetable.

NASA

NASA’s ill-fated launch of America’s first inner-planetary problem, Mariner 1, was caused by someone who neglected to put a dot over an “R” in the space formula. Because of the error the $80 million space shuttle had to be detonated when it came flying back to earth.

Mizuho Securities

In 1995 Mizuho Securities tried to recruit J-Com Co.  employees to work for them by offering 610,000 yen per share ($5,041). A typo made the offer appear to be significantly below that at one yen per share. It also had offered 41 times the number of J-Com Co. shares actually in existence – the equivalent of trying to sell more then 40 times something you don’t have and being forced to back it up to any dissatisfied customers.

The error resulted in a $225 million loss for Mizuho Securities.

Life Plus Parole

In the 80s a man named Bruce Wayne Morris was convicted of robbing and killing a man. At sentencing the jury had to decide between execution or being imprisoned without parole, which was worded, “Bruce Wayne would not have the possibility of making parole.”

The typo occurred when the “not” was left out of the sentence. Therefore the jury mistakenly thought they had to pick between death and letting Wayne out to roam the streets so they picked death.

It took 10 years of federal appeals to reverse the decision and cost the state of California millions of dollars.

The magnitude of a misplaced decimal, dash, symbol, or word can cost a company dearly. Here are three specific examples where a typo cost companies millions:

  • A missing comma and zeros in a lender’s lien changed $93 million to $93,000, causing U.S. insurance company Prudential to lose the difference in 1978.
  • A misprinted date caused New York real estate developers to lose tens of millions in revenue.
  • A misprinted phone number in an L.L. Bean catalog caused the retailer to pay a six-figure sum to purchase the erroneous phone number — the exact amount was not disclosed — in an effort to avoid losing customers.

Typos in Numbers

While a misspelled world can be embarrassing and reputation damaging, a misplaced number or decimal point can cost you millions and your career. This is why printed pieces disclosing corporate numbers are highly scrutinized and under the supervision of CPAs, attorneys, and security exchange personnel.

Accuracy counts in financials. Can you imagine a management team releasing their annual report with this disclaimer:

“Some of the figures might be wrong, there’s a few decimal points in the wrong place and some of the calculations are off but you’ll get the general idea.”

Beyond annual reports, the printing of coupons, particularly in the gaming industry, is ripe for errors. Some casinos print millions of dollar worth of gaming coupons per month. One misplaced decimal point could shake the foundation of the house. Here are some ways to make sure your corporation’s printed pieces are error free with its words and numbers.

Staffing & Selecting Outside Vendors

Both your internal staff as well as your print and marketing partners must understand your numbers and financials. They must be in the know to spot something in a headline, graph or coupon that doesn’t make sense. The gaming industry, and in most industries, is not a place for amateurs. Screen and stringently test the grammar and spelling among all your employees not just those in your communication area, and never pick a vendor just because of price. Select based on a quality track record.

Security and Quality Assurance

Make sure data security and confidentiality are on your list of requirements for staff and vendors touching your data. Ensure system security measures are in place before transferring, storing, or printing your data.

Make sure your marketing partner has a model of campaign design with built-in quality checks, from conception to execution. If your vendor doesn’t have a plan, or looks to you for a plan, you may need to choose another vendor.

 

How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies

marketing automation, email marketing, vdpThe Land of the Giants was a 1970 television show about a space ship that gets lost passing through a strange cloud and lands on an alternate Earth-type planet where the inhabitants are 12 times the size of its passengers. The show tapped the common conflict between the underdog and the giants (or corporate goliaths) of the world.

Small and mid-size businesses, though 12 times smaller than their competitors, can portray themselves as big or giant businesses through the use of tools like email marketing and marketing automation (MA) in today’s digital world.

MA or Email Marketing – Aren’t They the Same Thing?

To appear bigger, first you must pick your technology. Lauren Carlson at Software Advice finds many buyers mistakenly think that MA is a fancy name for email marketing. As a result these buyers evaluate vendors like Eloqua and Marketo (both of which provide a nice ROI calculator for bigger companies) against email services like MailChimp and Constant Contact that often support smaller organizations.

While both use email as the primary vehicle to talk to prospects or customers, email marketing keeps in touch with the prospect and tracks interactions based on a single campaign. Unfortunately email marketing stops there.  Marketing automation follows customer interaction through all marketing touches and triggers appropriate messages based on this information without the need for manual triggering.

Marketing Automation can go a step deeper by tracking the entire chain of interactions that buyers have with a company and helps you make intelligent actions based on these behaviors. Furthermore, MA systems don’t just track – they act. Based on what your prospects do, the system can automatically:

  1. Start a series of emails over the next few weeks
  2. Send that prospect to a different web page based on his or her lead score
  3. Or have a sales person reach out if the prospect is at a critical point in the decision making process.

Email tools don’t segment audiences or respond in this way without manual intervention. See the chart below from Lauren’s blog post, “Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation: Which is Right for You?” for a breakdown of what you should be getting from your email marketing or marketing automation system.

Features Email Marketing Marketing Automation
Lead capture green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Basic segmentation green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Email templates green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Create & send emails green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Automation & triggers green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Reporting & analytics green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Mass email delivery green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Email campaigns green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
SEO management green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Web behavior capture green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Resource management green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
CRM integration green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Behavior-based segmentation green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Social media management green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Lead Scoring green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies
Multi-channel campaigns green check How to Project Your Business as a Giant with Two Marketing Technologies

Can a Small to Mid Size Business Afford Email Marketing or a MA System?

The price of email marketing is based on either the number of emails sent or the size of your mailing list – usually running less than $100 per month. According to Tom O’Leary of GroupMail, email marketing continued to provide a $40.56 ROI for every dollar spent in 2011.

The price for marketing automation systems on the low end start at $200 a month and go up to $1000  and sometimes much more each month.

While a larger investment, if it helps you close sales faster or land more accounts it is a consideration to take your one giant step closer to moving from an underdog to a big dog.

Read more in Lauren Carlson’s blog post, “Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation: Which is Right for You?”

 

I’m Just Happy to Make a Contribution

marketing managementIn the 1988 baseball movie Bull Durham, Crash (Kevin Costner) mentors Nuke (Tim Robbins) about what clichés to recite to the media after a big win. Though not the brightest bull in the pin, Nuke, executes beautifully upon pitching his first no-run win in the majors by saying, “I’m just happy to make a contribution and be part of this team.”

Cursory clichés or generic reports don’t work in the world of marketing where marketing management is a must. Campaigns must be measured by something as concrete as hits, runs, and RBIs in baseball. Surprisingly with all the measurement tools available – landing pages, QR codes®, Facebook likes, Tweets, trackable phone numbers, and Google analytics – a number of marketing programs are still falling short when it comes to reported metrics.

I recently called a dozen advertisers randomly to learn if they would be willing to share their return on investment or success around a specific marketing effort. I was not surprised to learn that seven out of 10 had no idea what they were recouping from the thousands of dollars each month they were investing.

With marketing budgets shrinking to around 5% of sales, justifying the financial contribution marketing delivers seems imperative. However, recent research conducted by Lenskold and the Pedowitz Group showed that just one in three B2B marketers worldwide report financial-contribution metrics to senior management.

Financial metrics might consist of measurements such as:

  • Return on Investment
  • Average revenue per closed sale
  • Marketing-generated opportunity closed

Why are 66% of marketers not measuring how their marketing efforts are contributing to the bottom line? Why are those that are measuring not reporting it to management? Perhaps they need a marketing ally to automate and track their campaigns so the burden is reduced and results heightened.

Sometimes just breaking down a process in simple steps can put you way ahead of the competition. To use another sports analogy, Olympic track and field legend, Edwin Moses, went nine years and nine months without losing the 400-meter hurdles. He accomplished this by breaking down the race to specific steps and eliminating waste.

While Moses’ competitors blasted out of the blocks and took 13 steps before jumping the first hurdle, he used his 9 ft. 9 in. stride to eliminate one step between each hurdle – therefore crushing his competitors for nine years.

Thumbnail BenefitsBook CaseStudy I’m Just Happy to Make a ContributionOne of our clients did nearly the same thing by analyzing its performance around employee benefits catalogs that weren’t being personalized and were taking 7-10 days to get into the hands of their prospects. By tapping into variable data printing, this Fortune 500 provider of insurance products was able to personalize more than 1300 fields in their product catalogs around age, salary, compensation-related variables and they were able to automate the process to ensure that more than 352,000 were printed without error. Now they get catalogs into prospect hands in 2-4 days, error-free, and with the specific data they need to make instant enrollment decisions.  This effort increased policy enrollments by 5%.

When B2B marketers fail to connect financial metrics to marketing and operations, they fail to connect some pivotal dots that CEOs and CFOs are watching.

What can you do to sharpen your pencil, tie your marketing campaigns to both marketing and financial measurement results, connect important financial dots, and put better metrics in play?

  • Take a webinar on analytics
  • Read up on data-driven marketing
  • Download ROI spreadsheets
  • Attend quality control meetings outside of marketing to learn the big picture and see what programs or tweaks are needed to make a difference for your company

The most indispensable players on any team are the ones making a true financial contribution. How are you managing your marketing assets or more importantly, measuring them?

Trigger Marketing Requires Letting Your Partner Lead the Dance

marketing automation is the new relationship customers wantTrigger marketing is more about being a good dance partner rather than the dance invitation graphic designer. You have to get on the floor with the prospect and be a good follower so you can react when they decide to twirl or dip (i.e. pick up the phone, swipe their credit card, or drive off the lot with the new sports car).

As marketers, we’ve always been good at figuring out what to sell and how to sell it. Advertising guru Les Wunderman says, “What we often can’t figure out is when to sell.”

Precision timing is critical in an artillery strike, the New Year’s Eve ball drop, aerial acrobatics, and a lead-nurturing campaign. A trigger is a flag that cues you to send a customer an email, coupon, whitepaper, or presentation invitation at just the optimal point in time – precisely when the customer needs it to make a decision.

Yes, it takes work, trial and error, and recalibrations, but the value of trigger marketing is it delivers three to 10 times more returns to your marketing bottom line.  “Triggers always work better than random outreach,” says Mail Print CEO Gina Danner. “Because you’re working in sync with their decision making process.”

 

Know Your Customers’ Triggers

CRM News cites six types of marketing triggers that you can use to automate your marketing campaign. By knowing, documenting and putting these triggers into a system to enable your to do market automation, you’ll be ahead of the game.

  1. Customer life events- Birthdays, weddings, new baby and a new car purchase are all customer events that could merit an action or message on your company’s part based on your product or service. Automating the timing of these life events is critical.
  2. Transaction behaviors- Does a customers credit card purchase show that they’re in the middle of a home remodel? Does their declining credit score cue you to sell them on credit counseling or credit repair services?
  3. Online behaviors- Is your customer hot on the trail for information that signals a future purchase? Have they hit your insurance website, downloaded a life insurance eBook, or interacted on a social network?
  4. Expiration Triggers- Does your product or service have a maturity date that can be used to signal a context –sensitive offer or message from a lending institution?
  5. Credit Bureau Triggers- If a customer has a mortgage with a bank and the bank sees them looking for other credit lending solutions it could trigger a loyalty program or retention call.
  6. External Triggers- Changes in market or environmental conditions may indicate it’s time to kick in a campaign to protect your company’s reputation and environmental stewardship.

 

Don’t Be That Salesperson

You know you hate the pushy store clerk who runs up to you as soon as you walk in the door. He/she further creates a relationship gap by blurting out all the items on sale without even asking what you came in for. She makes you want to run for the exit door by telling you even more irrelevant store information you didn’t request.

Don’t be that person when you are nurturing relationships through your sales funnel. Push marketing is out, trigger marketing is in.

Hang back in the corner instead and be an expert observer ready to answer questions or provide more information when your customer asks for it. Listen and watch for virtual body language that signals interest and the need for assistance. Let the customer raise their hand before addressing their needs.

It’s respectful, fruitful, and the new way of doing business in this customer-driven world.

 

Don’t Be a Drip, Nurture Your Leads

Marketers want to talk to prospects and salespeople want to talk to buyers. The courting process of moving a person from the prospect to buyer stage is called lead nurturing. Unfortunately most B2B marketers aren’t very good at it. In fact, among marketing automation adopters, only about 1 in 3 believe they have an effective lead nurturing process, according to research from Bulldog Solutions/Frost & Sullivan.

Like in a courtship, nurturing involves two-way communication. To have an effective dialogue with your customers you must watch their digital body language and listen to where they are in the purchasing process.

Too often marketers make nurturing synonymous with email drip campaigns. While this tactical effort is easy to put in place, it’s not effective in converting leads because it overly simplifies communications by making it one-way and one-size-fits-all.

“Simply delivering the same message to a broad audience (mass marketing), doesn’t allow for the 1-to-1 engagement that yields the best results,” says Carlos Hidalgo with Annuitas Group.

The graph below from Left Brain Marketing shows how good marketing communications involves listening to the prospect, then sending a message, and then waiting for a customer response before tailoring the next message.

Screenshot 21 Don’t Be a Drip, Nurture Your Leads

Does a lead-nurturing program seem too methodical, time consuming, or too customized to implement or manage? The increased customer appeal and response of proper nurturing brings financial gains that make the process all worthwhile. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group showed that companies who implemented a nurture-marketing program had:

  • 46% increase in annual revenue
  • 26% increase in lead conversions to sales
  • 25% decrease in cost per lead

IBM lead nurtures its customers by dividing them into one of three categories depending on where they are in the buying cycle. Leads are categorized as ‘Learn’ (potential client at the initial stages of a project), ‘Scope’ (interested in case studies white papers, conducting research) or ‘Select’ (interested in comparing and engaging with vendor).

IBM maintains a dialogue with those in the Learn and Scope stages as they progress through the sales cycle, using targeted collateral and promoting IBM’s solutions. Once prospects reach the Select stage, they are handed over to the IBM sales team for direct engagement.

The graph below shows how marketing and sales can work in tangent nurturing prospects during the inbound and outbound marketing process.

Screenshot 23 Don’t Be a Drip, Nurture Your Leads

Your dialogue with your customers sets the tone for the relationship. Customers know that how you sell them is how you will serve them in the future. So set the tone by nurturing their needs and nurturing their trust.

If you provide valuable education and information to prospects up front and as they need it, you’ll become their trusted advisor. Then you’ll be first in line for their business when they move from the data collection phase into the purchasing mode.

With patience, ongoing dialogue, and a good lead-nurturing program, you can ensure you’re not leaving 8 out of 10 prospects on the table for your competitors.

 

Six Ways to Decode Your Customers’ Digital Body Language

combinationlock 250x250 Six Ways to Decode Your Customers’ Digital Body Language

Decode Your Prospects' Digital Signals and Improve Your Sales Cycle

In traditional sales, good salespeople watch body language and monitor if the prospect is warming to the product or drawing away. In the digital world, that same salesperson has the same opportunity to watch for hot or cold signs that the prospect is sending through their digital body language. Here’s a 101 course on how to read the digital body language of your customers in six simple steps.

 

Watch for Digital Signs of Interest

As your prospects communicate back to you on a variety of marketing channels, you can gauge their interest level.

Emails with a link to more information allow you to monitor the prospect’s interest level through his or her Web activity (or lack of activity). Layering a personal URL (PURL) with your direct mail campaign lets you identify an individual’s Web activity and area of interest. As you observe the digital body language of your prospects, you can give them personalized information to move them through your sales pipeline.

 

Map out the Buying Process to See Where They Are

To understand where prospects are in the buying process, map out how buyers buy through your company. Although each buyer is different, the phases of the buying process are usually the same like the four-phase map below—research, consider, trial, and buy. Mapping helps you tailor your messages to prospects in each stage. It then empowers you to drop the right marketing message to them through the right marketing channel.

clip image002 Six Ways to Decode Your Customers’ Digital Body Language

Determine How Interested They Are Before Assigning a Salesperson

Somewhere in our sloppy sales pasts, many businesses used to assign a salesperson to a prospect at the first hint of interest. But by closely observing digital body language we can gauge “how interested they are,” then decide if they need more info sent or a salesperson to step in. Not all leads merit being assigned to the sales department, as lead scoring will help you determine.

 

Build a contact washing machine

As customer data comes in to you through Web forms, uploads, lists, tradeshows, or your customer relationship management (CRM) system—always have it flow through a “contact washing machine” that cleanses, normalizes, and standardizes your data. For example, what is your company’s standard use of “Vice Pres,” “V.P.,” “VP,” or “Vice President” as a title?

 

Try Potato Chip Marketing

As you interact with your prospects, you provide them valuable information, like laying a potato chip out one at a time to lure them into taking the final chip from your hand. Doing so gradually allows you to build trust from them for small amounts of information in return for their small steps forward toward you. Use a modular profile, and ask only two or three questions at a time, and you can progressively profile your audience and develop the equivalent of a 20- or 30-field form.

 

Give Your Sales Team the Same Visibility You Have

Offering marketing metrics to your sales team can have a profound effect. As team members understand more about Marketing’s ability to influence key pipeline deals, and how digital body language helps them understand and guide their deals, and lead scoring, you’ll be able to forge a deeper, better, and more productive relationship with your sales team.

 

Ten Ways to Decrease Direct Mail Spending

variable data printing, direct mail ideas

There are many ways to decrease your direct mail spending... here are just ten.

Develop. Implement. Learn. Repeat… At Mail Print, everyday we learn from and refine our marketing processes.  Back in October 2010, we posted a blog entitled “9 Ways to Decrease Direct Mail Spending While Improving Results.”  Now, we have increased that list to 10 ways.

Here are 10 ways to improve both sides of the ROI equation with your direct mail campaigns:

  1. Clear out the Non-Responsive: Determine what deems someone non-responsive, and stop mailing when it is clear they are not going to respond.
  2. Segment Your Lists: Segment and target audiences on macro and micro levels.  You don’t have to mail to everyone to be highly impactful.
  3. Personalize Your Message: Speak to specific audiences on a micro level. The more relevant your communications, the sooner you’ll see results or be able to deem recipients non-responsive.
  4. Test, Test, Test: Test the effectiveness of your message, offer and list on a smaller audience before deploying on a large scale. For example, direct marketers often send new messaging, creative or offers to 10% of their list first, measuring the results against the control or other versions of the marketing piece.  Once a winner has been determined, the most effective version is sent to the entire audience.
  5. Automate: Print Automation and Marketing Automation technology allows you to increase your speed to market and decrease the cost spent to deploy each campaign.  Auto-triggered campaigns can also be used to respond to prospect and customer actions with timely, relevant mail touches.  
  6. Clean Your Data: Conduct a thorough data-cleansing of your house and purchased lists to eliminate duplicate, outdated or incomplete data.  You’ll mail less, more accurately and improve your ROI.
  7. Use Your Returns: Do something with returned mail.  This seems simplistic, but the tendency is to ignore returned mail and not update the database. Create a process so this is always done.
  8. Go Multi-Channel: Incorporate non-paper-based mediums such as email, text messaging, and online landing pages with your direct mail campaigns to increase engagement and reduce cost-per-touch.  
  9. Pair Email and Mail: Utilize direct mail to keep email as a main communication method by mailing only to bounces, unsubscribes and consistent non-openers with the goal of determining why they are not engage via email. (Email: BFF blog MP.com/EmailsBFF)
  10. Honor Your Audience’s Preference: Eliminate people from your list who do not wish to receive mail by utilizing the DMA’s Mail Preference Service.  Learn more at https://www.dmachoice.org

Building a Plan for Reducing Your Direct Mail Costs

One of the biggest challenges to achieving the ten points above is not having a plan.  Without a plan, marketers shoot from the hip and hope they get it right.  And while that works occasionally, if you want something that controls cost and works consistently, start with a plan.