April 22, 2014

MarketingProfs Are You Doing Enough to Evaluate (and Prove) Your Content’s True Value?

Written By: MarketingProfs

When the concept of “content marketing” first took hold in the B2B world in the mid-to-late 2000s, the process of measuring content impact and effectiveness was a little bit like blindfolding a squirrel in 2,000-acre forest and giving it one minute to find the only acorn.

Sure, the squirrel might get lucky and find that acorn. But chances were better that it would wander aimlessly, wasting precious time and resources in the process.

Until recently, gauging B2B content marketing value wasn’t much different. Yes, we could track basic high-level metrics to help us loosely determine if the content we produced led to some sort of customer action. But that analysis was cloudy at best, and it did very little to answer two very important questions:

1. Which content formats, subjects, and channels are resonating most with specific subsets of our target audience?

2. What could we be doing to better optimize our content production and distribution so that prospects receive the right message at the right time< , and feel naturally compelled to take the next step on their buyer journey?

Today, thanks in large part to the emergence of various tools and technology, it’s a little bit easier to answer those questions. Yet, at the majority of B2B businesses, the process of gauging content marketing effectiveness remains largely unchanged.

April 11, 2014

MarketingProfs 3 Tips for Incorporating Content and Social Selling into Your Sales Strategy

Written By: MarketingProfs

In late 2012, market research firm Forrester dropped a statistic on sales and marketing organizations that likely made them shudder with sudden pangs of helplessness and fear.

According to Forrester’s research, today’s buyers complete as much as 90 percent of their decision-making journey before they ever reach out (or respond) to vendors. They search Google, ask for referrals on social networks, read industry blogs, and digest reviews. And if your business is lucky enough to survive that rigorous filtering process, customer might respond to your outreach.

Yes, marketers can still play an influential role in awareness and guidance during that prolonged period of proactive customer research, and salespeople can still have a big impact on the final steps of a buyer’s journey. But for any of that to happen, both functions need to change the way they operate to become part of the conversation before their customers have already made up their minds.

So, how can you do that?

Content and social selling are two great tactics for engaging in two-way conversations with prospective customers earlier in the buying process. These strategies allow sales and marketing teams to monitor customer activity and interest leading up to a purchase decision, and quickly respond — via customers’ preferred communication channels — to questions or concerns with relevant, helpful information.

March 24, 2014

MarketingProfs Are You Using the Right Content for the Right Segment of Your Funnel?

Written By: MarketingProfs

In many ways, marketing and sales technology has been a revelation for modern businesses. It’s changed the way we operate, improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our activities, provided incredibly rich insight into how, why, when, and where customers engage with our brands, and indelibly altered how we view lead gen and the sales process.

In other ways, however, those tools have also made businesses a little lazy.

Some marketers and salespeople, after all, view automation software as an omnipotent, utopic solution to their lead-to-revenue woes. To convert customers, they just need to insert contact information into a database, deliver messages to those contacts every few days, and pass leads on to the sales team after a pre-determined duration of time.

Voilà! Deals get done. The company hits its revenue targets. And the sales and marketing teams get paid.

If only it actually worked that way.

Yes, marketing and sales automation software is a game-changer, and other similarly designed technologies are helping sales and marketing teams improve the effectiveness of their outreach and operate with the context of much greater customer intelligence. But that’s assuming, of course, that businesses are using that technology in the right ways.

According to BtoB’s 2013 Marketing Automation study, most businesses can’t say that, with 85 percent of companies failing to use marketing and sales technology to the full potential of their investment.

March 20, 2014

MarketingProfs 3 Tips to Keep Your Sales Team on Message

Written By: MarketingProfs

In today’s Web-driven world, very few salespeople spend the bulk of their time actually in front customers anymore. Instead, they generally engage with buyers through virtual mediums — conference calls, email, social media, blogs, webinars, and myriad other online channels.

Sure, some sales folks still play the occasional round of golf with a prospective client, or meet with them in-person during the latter stages of the sales process. But in most cases, virtual is the new sales reality.

Yet, interestingly, many businesses haven’t proactively adapted their strategy to this evolution.

In fact, one recent study revealed that many sales teams remain ill prepared to sell in Web-driven environments — either because they haven’t been trained to do so, or they lack the tools (see: content and technology) to deliver the right messaging to the right audience through the right online channel.

That’s a problem, of course, because unpreparedness or tactical confusion often translates to poor execution. In other words, rather than delivering the right messaging to the right audience through the right online channel, untrained salespeople often resort to the offline sales tactics they know best. And as we all know by now, those tactics rarely yield positive results in the virtual world.