The New Year is fast approaching and a wave of 2015 lessons learned and 2016 marketing trends content are crashing in. We’re inundated with information, and quite frankly it’s overwhelming. I’ve been hit with more information than I can handle, I’m interrupted with a new sales pitch several times a day and it seems like a new marketing technology pops up every second.
So much emphasis is given to the new tool or strategy du jour, but as I take an inventory of my marketing engine, a lot still needs to be fixed. Here are the three initiatives I’ll never replace:
Simply put, this is an area I still struggle with. Lately there’s been so much talk about “always on” nurture, when some of us can’t even figure out plain old nurture: behavior and persona based triggered campaigns to improve middle of the funnel conversions. Don’t be fooled - your monthly newsletter is not nurture. If you want to get the most out of the leads already in your funnel, nurture them.
The stats don’t lie - according to DemandGen “lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate of standalone email blasts” and a recent Market2Lead study revealed that “nurtured leads have a 23% shorter sales cycle”. If you need help, set up a nurture task force within your department. If you’re managing programs, identify your stakeholders in content, operations and creative teams and begin an inventory of what you already have and go from there. Once you identify who in your funnel needs prioritization (i.e. everyone with a certain lead score, or everyone with x amount of engagement, who you’re sales team have had several conversations with but have stalled) then you can start to map out your track. Understanding who your prospects are, their challenges and what types of information they have engaged with will help you build your content strategy.
Decide on your flow and the duration of your nurture. Ask yourself, do I want to run nurture for 1 month, 3 months? This will really depend on your sales cycle and audience. Then make sure you are measuring the right information. Go beyond open and click through rates and identify the measurements you need in order to understand how your prospects are advancing through your funnel.
Finally, don’t forget about your sales team. Get their buy-in and involve them in every step of the way. Your sales team understands your audience better than anyone else. Approach them early on and ask for feedback on content and flow. And last but not least, set up a Service Level Agreement. You’re on the line to deliver quality leads, make sure you hold your sales team accountable for the follow-up and never forget to check-in!
Let the data speak a little louder
The term “Data-driven marketing” has been thrown around for quite some time, but if there’s no one on your team who truly owns this part of the business, chances are you’re missing out on key learnings (knowledge is power). And again, I mean going beyond open and click-through rates. That information is wonderful for all your pre-funnel activity. But do you understand what is happening in the middle or bottom of your funnel? Your deals aren’t closing and you have no idea why. If you don’t have this information then you can’t optimize (did I mention knowledge is power)? Marketers who see the value of a business analyst will win. In 2016 I want to take the guess work away from marketing and start making scientific based decisions around my key areas of focus: audience experience, media mix optimization, segmentation, and targeting of offers/messages. Here are three questions I’d like to have answered by the end of Q1:
How many touches it takes before a lead is ready to talk to sales?
What types of content are resonating with my audience?
What programs should I spend most of my resources on for the rest of the year?
What about you? What three data-driven learnings do you want to have by the end of Q1? According to a recent Accenture report 80% of its respondents said that data is important to the deployment of their advertising and marketing efforts. How about you? How important is your data and how are you leveraging it to your advantage?
Revisit the buyer’s journey
The purchase process is a journey that encompasses research and very educated decision making. In most B2B scenarios, the prospect develops a need, which will likely be followed by research and information gathering. He or she will seek options before making a decision. I think of this journey as a long road with several information/rest stops along the way. As the vendor, I want to be at every rest stop - meaning, I want to be part of the conversation. These rest stops are essentially my website, blog, social media channels, user communities, etc. A prospect may land on my website at any one point in their journey.
According to Hubspot “only 5%-25% of the traffic on your site is actually ready to do business with you at that moment, the rest are doing research”. If they’re not ready to buy my product, I must make sure that I’m addressing their research needs with value add content such as videos, inforgraphics and ebooks at that point in time. Don’t go for the hard sell right away. Demonstrate thought leadership and value – I guarantee you that your prospect will come back to you when they’re ready to buy.
To summarize, never stop optimizing! It's easy to get distracted by the next shining object that comes your way, but I guarantee you that there's probably still a lot of work that needs to be done on the campaigns you set in place in 2015.Like everything else in marketing, this is not a “set it and forget it” deal. Your buyer’s needs and goals may change. Make sure you’re buying personas and nurture streams are constantly updated and your content is still relevant. And never forget to leverage data to make better decisions. Never stop refreshing.