Archive for November, 2011
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.
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.
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.
The stand alone direct mail letter may soon be on exhibit at your neighborhood history museum. When is the last time you received a B2C letter at home without some sort of digital embellishment printed in the letter or inserted in the piece?
It’s probably been awhile because there are too many digital applications to layer with your direct mail to boost ROI by as much as 20%.
With the advancements in technology you have ample arsenal to beef up your direct mail pieces and associated ROI. Direct mail is still the workhorse or bread that you can spread digital media on to find new customers or build increased customer loyalty.
By providing prospects or customers multiple options to respond to your direct mail campaign, you increase response and the value of those responses. The Direct Marketing Association study found that customers who buy from two channels (vs. just one) are between 20 and 60% more valuable, while triple-channel buyers are 60-125% more valuable.
For a double to triple return, use one of the six approaches below to dazzle your recipient into action.
Five Digital Elements to Amp up Your Direct Mail
- Print QR (quick response) codes on your postcards or direct mail pieces that drive your prospects or customers to a specific landing page on your website (a PURL) not just the home page.
- Integrate audio chips that get your brand messages heard. To jump on this sound trend and to heighten ROI, mailers with audio chips that allow the piece to sing or talk upon being opened are being used widely now by political, lobbying, and other various groups. The AARP recently developed a mailer with an audio chip that cost $2 a unit for a campaign.
- Build a small jump or flash drive into your direct mail piece. This is easy with the new, flat, credit card style flash drives that allow you to print your contact information on the backside. Flash drive credit cards are both good for prospecting or as corporate gifts for existing clients.
- Print Intelligent Mail® barcodes on your direct mail pieces (the 65-bar code required for all automation pieces in the United States that maximizes mail discounts and eliminates duplication).
- Customize pieces that display short videos or virtual presentations within the print piece. Already ahead of the game, Google embedded a video in a coffee table book to announce its search page advertising experience. On the inside spread, Google asked a simple question: what if the experience with the Google search page could be made more meaningful, more memorable and more valuable? Their answer: “That would be huge.” To make its point, Google placed a 5” VIP Screen into artwork laid out to represent a computer monitor so that the VIP Book simulated the actual consumer experience online.
Don’t depend solely on the above technologies. You still need to do the basics of creating great copy, a great headline, a great call to action, and a great mailing list. Then you can add the razzle dazzle to further strengthen your mailing campaign and reap the rewards of higher ROI for you hard work and irresistible marketing campaigns.
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.
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.
Oh boy another holiday card. I can’t wait to open it and see yet another card with little to no personalization, no handwritten note, and obviously no thought other than get the darned thing out the door and off my to-do list.
Here are six fresh ideas to rethink your holiday mailing approach. After all, if you can’t do it well or different, perhaps why do it at all.
Skip the Holiday Mailing
You may want to do a New Year’s mailing instead of one during the busy holiday season. You’ll miss the mailing glut — 20 billion letters, packages and cards were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. Instead surprise your clients with a powerful message to start their business off with a business-boost message you’ve crafted just for them.
Pick a Different Medium
Stand out by sending your holiday message on anything but a holiday card. Consider sending a gift tag, jumbo postcard, 3D mailing, flash drive with a holiday carol on it, an invite to a fruitcake toss, or even a movie DVD for your A-list clients.
Don’t Be Slick
Don’t jump on the bandwagon by purchasing fancy, corporate, foiled cards so available to the masses. Produce something that looks homemade, vintage, hand-drawn, or crafty. Perhaps have your children draw the art or consider finding a letterpress shop or mimicking the old-fashioned look.
Get Writer’s Cramp
Even if you have preprinted information on the business greeting card such as your name, you need to add your handwritten signature. The most memorable holiday cards should have your personal signature and a short handwritten message.
And for even more oomph, don’t use computer-generated labels. They are impersonal and make your holiday wishes look like a mass mailing.
Scrub a Dub, Dub Your List
Use the month of November or December to call to say Happy Holidays personally and at the same time verify titles and addresses. Once your data is scrubbed, segment. You don’t have to mail to the world or your entire database. Nor should you.
Sending greeting cards is a 200-year tradition that involved sending only to the select few elite and wealthy in the early to mid 1800′s. Most of the early greeting cards were hand delivered and many were quite expensive, but they soon gained mass popularity with the introduction of the world’s first postage stamp issued in 1840.
Slap on a Cheery Stamp
Finally, you might want to skip the meter machine when you’re doing the mailing. Although you could save a few cents, having a holiday-themed stamp on the envelope is a much nicer touch.
The holidays are a time to be joyful. So please use these six simple ideas to share your holiday or New Year’s message uniquely, effectively, and with true joy. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Holidays by the Numbers
- 232 – Number of years the U.S. Postal Service has been delivering holiday cheer.
- 20 billion – Number of cards, letters and packages to be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- 3.4 billion – Number of letters mailed over the holidays.
- 82 million – Average daily number of First-Class Mail cards and letters mailed.
- 960 million – Number of pieces of mail processed on Dec. 15, the busiest mailing day of the year.
- 700 million – Average number of pieces of mail processed daily.
- 826 million – Average number of pieces of mail processed daily during the holidays.
- 20 million – In pounds, the amount of mail the Postal Service will process for overseas military installations, including war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- 7,400 – Number of Post Offices with expanded hours.
- 214,500 – Number of vehicles used to transport holiday mail, including 188,336 half-ton trucks.
- 2.17 billion – Number of holiday stamps the Postal Service printed this year.
- 130 million – Number of customers who visit the Post Office during the holidays.