Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The buying cycle of your leads

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

There are many parallels that can be drawn between flirting and moving leads down the B2B buying cycle. Both go through a number of stages, from initial awareness to developing an interest, and displaying clear signs of a willingness to commit.

Not to belittle or oversimplify human relations, but let’s be honest — marketing is a form of enticement (and flirting is a form of marketing). And in order for marketing to be successful, it needs to address different personas at the different levels of interest in a variety of ways.

As you know, the buying cycle maps the progress of leads towards the desired end goal of them making a purchase. During the stages of that cycle, leads can be offered content assets which build their awareness, create and strengthen a conviction and finally lead them to the goal. This is what content selling and content marketing are all about.

Here we will explore the main stages of the cycle and what types of content are relevant for each of its stages.

The Stages of the Buying Cycle

Broadly speaking, the buying cycle can be separated into three main stages:  Awareness, Interest (or Consideration) and Sale (or Purchase).

Different people in the content marketing industry call these in different ways, and further separate them into sub-categories that can reach up to 9 stages in total. These reflect particular instances within each stage and can certainly be very useful for a targeted content selling process.

The Awareness Stage

The Awareness stage could further be divided into: the identification of a problem and the development of criteria on the side of the buyer about what solution they are looking for. This also entails that they will do research to educate themselves and will consider a number of options. Hence, at this stage you need to foresee what kind of information people will look for when researching. Your content should address broader questions and create awareness for the buyers about their needs and pains.

Such content can range from regular blog post articles to more informative eBooks or whitepapers. You could offer how-to videos, tip sheets or even educational webinars. Basically anything broad enough to attract people at the top of the funnel.

The Consideration Stage

The second, mid-funnel stage is Interest or Consideration and means that buyers have already gained knowledge and are now: evaluating the solution you offer and looking for justifications to opt for your solution. Therefore, you can get more serious about solutions. While in the first stage you would educate about problems, here you start to resolve them. In doing this, you strive to get one point across – how your solution is appropriate and desirable.

Case studies and testimonials are a great content asset at this stage. Have a long-standing customer with a great story? Turn the story into a case study and share it with leads. Show them your best side. And nothing speaks as strongly as someone else’s success story.

Offer more whitepapers and eBooks but this time make them in-depth and specific, comprehensive and highly informative, with lots of data. How-to’s are a no-no at this stage. Instead, you need to offer demo videos or guided tours, webinars about your products or even classes. By offering all of these, you are effectively and naturally bridging the gap between educational assets and product solutions.

Finally, repurpose content! If you have some great content asset that generated leads at the Awareness Stage, take it, repurpose it and expand on it. This will only strengthen the natural feel of the content transition, because it will be both familiar and enriching to your leads.

The Sale Stage

At this point your leads or prospects are considered ‘hot’. You’ve got their attention and they’re considering proposing to you, metaphorically speaking. You can now proceed to ’empower’ them, give them a taste of what they’ll receive if they fully commit to your product.

You can achieve this by offering them trials and further demos of your products or services. Basically, you need to get them engaged – help them change from a passive receiver of information to an active participant. This is the moment before they transition to being a customer.

Final considerations are also addressed here, and buyers get to ask very specific questions and receive personal treatment. They’re already knowledgeable enough to understand what it is you’re offering and are just filling in the last blanks. The quality of the content here is high-premium. You can also include special offers or discounts to prospects who are more or less on the edge of purchasing, which usually does the trick.

Beyond the Sales Stage

It doesn’t end there. Beyond the Sales Stage you’re still engaged with your clients. You’ve solved their need but now you have to continue to provide them with relevant and regular information in order to retain them. It pays off to have loyal clients that embrace your barnd. Not only will they get the word out about your products but they will probably make numerous repeat purchases. Focusing on client retention, therefore, further helps the above process repeat itself.

Conclusion

Content selling and content marketing have to work together in order to be effective. You have to have a clear idea with which of your buyer personas you are interacting with at any given moment and at what stage they are. This will determine what kind of content asset they are in need of and how you can pitch it to them in a natural way. If you can create the right conditions for your leads, you will see the results you’re looking for.

Leveraging the search engines for lead generation

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Too many marketing activities still happen in silos, and search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most isolated. While SEO and lead generation are primary drivers of new leads for most B2B organizations, these teams typically only collaborate when new content needs an SEO review (if that).

The general understanding seems to be that SEO helps the website—and all the content therein—get noticed online, which generates leads in a big-picture sense, while lead generation is a completely separate set of tasks targeted specifically at acquiring new leads.

But a changing marketplace is placing new demands on how marketers (and sales reps, and…just about every part of an organization) relate to their target audiences. Lead generation strategies are evolving to meet new expectations, but the one element still missing from most play books may be the one that could make the most dramatic improvement: SEO.

Modern SEO Strategies Need User Intent Research

Marrying SEO and lead generation strategies starts with a modern understanding of SEO—specifically a concept called “user intent.” User intent is the real meaning behind the keywords people type in a search engine text box.

There are two primary types of user intent:

  • Inform: When someone is looking to learn about a topic
  • Purchase: When someone is shopping for something described by the keyword

Discovering what your audience really means when they use your keywords is as simple as Googling them. The pages that rank highest for a keyword represent the type of content people are looking for most often when searching that particular keyword. How do we know? Because Google is heavily invested in providing the best user experience, and their algorithms are working 24/7/365 to decipher the intent behind every search term.

For example, a search for the term “email marketing” yields search results that are mostly marketing software companies trying to sell their platforms. In other words, when most people search for “email marketing,” they have a purchase intent. They want to buy software. The term “marketing automation” yields very different results. Most of the Page 1 results are definitions and basic information about the concept of marketing automation. People are looking for information.

This is valuable insight for any part of your SEO campaign. When you know users’ intentions, you can steer them to content that meets their needs. For example, based on the information above, a business selling email marketing should make sure their content includes a strong product page that targets “email marketing” and related keywords. Whereas, a business selling marketing automation, on the other hand, should focus on creating high-quality, informative content for that keyword.

Lead Generation Needs User Intent Research

Buyers and are self-educating further into the sales funnel than ever before. They are unconcerned with your carefully crafted buyer’s journey model—entering the funnel wherever they like and proceeding through it completely at their own pace.

Most marketers recognize this and are adapting their lead generation strategies to keep up with evolving trends and expectations. Many are hard at work developing engaging, helpful content. That’s an encouraging first step, but, as with any digital content, it’s important to pause and ask yourself whether it’s reaching the buyers who need it, when they need it.

Building content doesn’t mean the leads will come. While sharing your own content is important, a digital marketplace commonly turns to search engines when they’re ready to research or make a purchase. That means the content you create for every stage of the sales funnel has to be search engine optimized for the user for their unique buyer’s journey.

Buyers at the top-of-the-funnel, or the beginning of their buyers’ journeys, are looking for educational or entertaining information: definitions of key lingo, simple explanations of core industry principles, infographics, and other easily digestible media. That means the keywords that are generating those kinds of search results are the ones most likely being used by the segment of your audience that is at the top-of-the-funnel. Those are the keywords your entry-level content should be targeting.

By contrast, the keywords that generate strong purchase intent search results are likely being used by the portion of your audience that is ready (or almost ready) to buy. Those results include a lot of product pages, vendor comparisons, price sheets, etc. As you create that kind of content, target the keywords that are being used by people who are ready to make a purchase.

How to Use SEO for Lead Generation

From start to finish, here are five steps to use SEO to improve your lead generation strategies:

  1. Make a list of relevant keywords. If you’ve never done this before, you can use free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and/or Keyword Tool.io. You can also start with a list of your key products and services, and terms that are important to your industry.
  2. Google them. You may want to use spreadsheets for this step to help keep everything organized. Google each of your keywords, and make a note about whether the search results primarily reflect an inform or purchase intent, and to what degree. Some will be heavily skewed, and others will be fairly balanced.
  3. Organize the results along your sales funnel. Keywords that generate a strong inform intent are most likely going to represent users at the top-of-the-funnel. Those that generate search results with a strong purchase intent are likely being used by people closer to the bottom-of-the-funnel.
  4. Optimize existing content. Review content you have already created. If some assets were developed specifically for one stage of the funnel, make sure it is using appropriate language. If a piece of content was created to target a specific keyword, make sure it is addressing the user intent behind that keyword.
  5. Create content to fill in the gaps. There will be gaps, and that is where you really get to work. If you have the wrong type of content for a particular keyword/user intent, you don’t necessarily need to remove it, but you do need to create additional content. For example, if an important keyword yields a strong inform intent in search results and all your website has is a product page for that term, you need to start building some informative content assets, such as blog posts, landing pages, and ebooks. If a keyword has a fairly balanced user intent—a few informative pages and a few product pages—it’s 100% okay to create a few (high-quality, engaging, helpful) pages based on related keywords for each user intent.

SEO and Lead Generation

The market is changing, and while most marketers are aware and are working hard to keep up, it can be difficult to stay on top of all of it. SEO itself is constantly evolving, and generating a steady flow of qualified leads is every marketer’s eternal priority. Both strategies can benefit from tearing down some silos and working together.

Start by conducting user intent research on a few of your top keywords. See if the results are what you expected, and, if not, how your company’s content meets the need. With some strategic content, properly optimized for the people who need it most, your lead generation strategy could quickly take on a whole new life.

Three traits of highly successful sales people

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Selling and buying are not purely intellectual exercises. Buyers and sellers are emotional human beings, which is why great salespeople are always masters at managing their own emotions. Based upon my observation (and some pretty hefty research in emotional intelligence), highly successful salespeople cultivate the following five emotional traits:

1. Assertiveness

This allows you to move a sales situation forward without offending or frustrating the customer. Think of it as being located halfway between passivity and aggressiveness. For example, suppose a customer is delaying a decision. There are at least three basic responses:

Passive: “Could you give me a call when you’ve made a decision?”

Aggressive: “If you don’t buy right now, the offer is off the table.”

Assertive: “Can you give me a specific time and date when you’ll make your final decision?”

The passive response puts the sale on hold indefinitely (or give your competitor the opening to outsell you). The aggressive response creates pressure and resentment: Even if it works, you’ll be seen as a typical pushy salesman. The assertive approach sets up the specific conditions for the close, without forcing the customer’s pace.

2. Self-Awareness

You need to be able to identify your own emotions, understand how they work, and then use them to help you build stronger customer relationships. This is a four-step process:

  • Identify the emotions that you’re feeling,
  • Based on experience, predict how those emotions will affect your sales effort.
  • Compensate for negative emotions that might hinder the sale.
  • Expand your positive emotions that might help you make the sale.

For example, suppose you feel furious that an important customer stood you up. You might take a break before your next meeting in order to remind yourself of all the times you’ve succeeded in the face of challenges. Or you might, as an ice-breaker, tell your second customer that you’re having a tough day and why.

3. Empathy

This entails adapting your behavior to the customer’s moods and emotions. It begins with listening and observing, but simply knowing what the customer might be feeling is not enough. You must be able to feel what the customer is likely to be feeling.

Suppose, during a sales call, you discover that the customer’s firm just announced major layoffs. You could ignore the news and proceed with the sales call as if nothing had changed, or you could focus on your own desire to make the sale and ask your contact who will have buying authority after the layoffs are over.

Both responses to the event make business sense–but if you want to build a better relationship, you’ll be empathetic and imagine your contact’s sense of fear and confusion. Then, depending on your emotional reading of the customer, decide whether the customer would prefer to commiserate, complain or (alternatively) be distracted from the situation

5 Ways to align sales and marketing

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Time and energy spent chasing different prizes and valuing different elements of the journey serve no purpose for either camp. And will almost certainly lead to lost opportunities, smaller pipelines and reduced revenue. All of which is likely to impact trust and encourage finger pointing.

If you’re lucky enough to work in an organisation where marketing and sales are on the same page, you’ll know first hand how beneficial it can be.

At Convertz our sales and marketing teams work hand-in-hand on the same projects, and this means instances of friction and misalignment are very few and far between. With everyone eying the same goals, we’re able to ensure we move forward with confidence and support across the board.

These five must-dos ensure we’re running as efficiently as possible. And they are very likely to help you ease any tensions that may exist in your organisation.

1: Sharing objectives

Perhaps the most fundamental imperative on the list, ensuring both teams are working towards the same objectives is the best way of encouraging operational alignment.

In reality this can involve a great many considerations; ranging from simply ensuring lead definitions are commonly held, to working on shared lists of priority prospects.

Regularly reviewing progress and performance in relation to the shared objectives is also key to help maximise returns. In these sessions it’s often best to leave your ego at the door – it is unlikely to help.

2: Setting priorities together

In a sales-led organisation marketers often complain of feeling like the poor relation, with directives and requests for activity being handed down from sales rather than agreed as part of an inclusive discussion. The victim mentality isn’t going to lead to meaningful change, though.

If you’re on the sales side, ensure you make the effort to include senior marketing colleagues from the off. But if you’re in marketing it’s important to make the case for inclusion, drawing on your ability to deal with the financial side of the processes as well as the campaign-side.

Apart from the obvious fact that multiple heads are better than one, strategies drawing on the knowledge of both sides are likely to be more fit for purpose when it comes to external execution and internal buy-in.

3: Meeting regularly

Ideally, you’d be co-located, meaning regular meetings are almost unavoidable. But even in scenarios where regular contact isn’t easy, it pays to have open two-way dialogues.

Discussions of all types have value: from five-minute daily stand-ups addressing immediate priorities, to weekly and monthly planning and review sessions. If both sales and marketing are able to understand the challenges the other is facing it means your chances of easing the load and moving forward positively dramatically increase.

Those old stereotypes tend to fall away too when you’re dealing with individuals rather than us-and-them silos.

4: Collaborating

Setting strategic priorities together is a great start, but to truly deliver as one team, it’s important colleagues from each department (and at all levels of the hierarchy) work together and share the benefits of their experiences.

This could involve marketing heads joining sales colleagues on client visits and prospect pitches, as well as sales colleagues contributing to the marketing initiatives likely to lead to their next meeting.

The best sales professionals possess in-depth understanding of the market and of specific prospects and customers. The smartest marketers recognise this as a massively valuable resource to draw on.

5: Celebrating success

If you’re able to put into place some of these initiatives, you should be celebrating smashing targets and recording meaningful growth. At that point it pays to celebrate.

Regardless of how it’s done, if marketing and sales are able to celebrate success together the bonds that brought the success about will be strengthened and likely to bear further fruit again in the future.

If handled correctly sales and marketing alignment becomes a virtuous circle. As soon as you’re able to highlight the successes brought about as a result of working in this way, the more people will believe in it, and the more willingly they will invest in the collaborative approaches that underpin it.

Why Nurturing Your Leads Is Key To Turn Leads InTo Buyers

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Lead nurture is crucial to Inbound Marketing and Sales. Here’s what you should be doing to effectively nurture leads through their purchase journey.

The Value Offered By Effective Lead Nurture

For most Inbound campaigns the prime goal is strong, relevant lead generation and conversion of those leads into customers. Sounds straightforward. But without effective nurture, those good-fit leads can quickly stagnate.

A solid lead nurture strategy works to progress prospects through the Buyer’s Journey, and helps them decide upon the best-fit solution for them. In an Inbound sales process, this means that nurture activity always works with the buyer, considers the length of the sales cycle, and nurtures at a pace that suits prospects uniquely, rather than pushing to close.

Why? Because modern buyers, especially those purchasing high-cost services, won’t be ready to purchase after one ebook download, and a sales demo. That process no longer works. Buyers today are well informed; they have the whole internet to assist their journey. This means the job of marketers and salespeople is no longer to regurgitate a pitch to push a product to leads, but provide added value – that can’t be found online – through lead nurture.

Marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. – Forrester

A good nurture strategy will keep your brand in the buyer’s mind as a trusted expert, for the entirety of their purchasing journey. A lead nurture process should map to the buyer’s unique problems, address questions, and work to add value by exploring key considerations that prospect will want to know before purchasing. Research conducted by Forrester has shown that marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. However, a study by Marketing Sherpa indicates that only 36% of marketers actively nurture their sales leads (2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report).

Only 36% of marketers actively nurture their sales leads – Marketing Sherpa

A successful Inbound marketing strategy requires tactical nurture throughout the sales cycle. So how can marketers deliver better lead nurture approaches, and boost ROI?

5 Inbound Marketing Lead Nurturing Tactics To Boost ROI

1. Deliver the right content format at the right time

It is no good publishing irrelevant content that will not be of interest to your target persona. For content to resonate and support a nurture process, it must be based around buyer’s interests and pain points.

Timing is key in a nurture campaign. Each prospect will progress through their buying journey at a different rate. To keep them moving, you need to be able to identify the buying stage and challenges that each unique prospect is experiencing, and offer relevant content and advice to address that pain at the right time. For example:

To nurture prospects in the Awareness stage of the Buyer’s Journey, use content that addresses top level questions and concerns. Likely this will take the form of blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers and guides.

For prospects in the Consideration stage, who will be looking for more in depth information and detail, offer case studies, videos and guides.

When prospects reach the Decision stage, they will want specific information into why your solution is the best option for them. Free trials, demonstrations, and vendor comparisons are all good assets to nurture toward a final purchase decision.

From the consideration stage onward, it is important to note that interaction with sales teams should be occurring. Sales teams should be working to explore and advise on the prospect’s challenges, and establish a personal trusted link. To nurture effectively, their interactions; from social media, to emails and calls, must be helpful and add value. An intrusive or pushy approach will not work.

2. Make The Most Of Email Nurture

Automated email campaigns are a key part of nurture activity as they assist lead progression and save time. If you have an Inbound campaign running you should already be sending regular workflow emails to leads (e.g. the ‘thank you for downloading’, ‘would you like to arrange a consultation’ emails). However you might also choose to use automated RSS emails for additional nurture. For example, you may create an RSS email that sends to a persona-specific list of MQLs each time a new piece of content (on a relevant theme) is published to your blog. Delivering a steady stream of relevant, personalised information to the right prospects; this activity assists nurture by keeping you front of mind.

3. Align Marketing & Sales, and Prioritise Social Selling

Without a marketing automation platform in place, it can be easy for good prospects to slip the nurture net. However an intelligent closed-loop automation platform enables better alignment of sales and marketing teams. This ensures qualified leads are monitored and nurtured appropriately. It also enables sales staff to make the most of marketing’s historical lead data, and build better relationships with leads.

Social selling is a key part of sales’ nurture activity, and sees sales teams actively using social platforms to add value, share helpful content, and engage with prospects. A good social selling strategy will position sales staff as trusted advisors; again, nurturing through relevancy.

4. Follow Up In Good Time

According to HubSpot, the odds of a lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after an inbound lead converts on your website.

Lead nurture begins as soon as an active good-fit lead appears; who is clearly considering their pain point and researching a solution. If the lead is a good fit for your business, this is an opportunity to make that initial contact, and begin the nurture journey. Several research studies have shown that the odds of converting a lead into a sales opportunity are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following a website conversion. So be sure to follow up in good time!

5. Implement a Lead Scoring System

A lead scoring system can be implemented in most marketing automation platforms and, when applied correctly, can be used to determine which leads are stuck in the funnel and require further nurture.

An Inbound Sales process always prioritises active, good-fit buyers over passive ones. Influenced by particular actions (such as site activity, or social engagement) a correctly applied lead scoring system will help to identify those priority prospects, and also indicate leads that need further nurture.

Nurturing Toward Effective Results

Including these tactics in an Inbound Marketing campaign will allow your marketing and sales teams to priorities leads more efficiently, build stronger relationships with good-fit prospects, reduce your sales cycle and conversion time and as a result, boost ROI.

Why Pay Per Lead Is Great For Your Business

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Right now there are customers looking online for your products or services. Are they finding you? At Convertz, we use a variety of Internet advertising and web marketing techniques to help READY-TO-BUY customers find YOU.

We blend creative solutions with metrics-driven approaches to ensure maximum return on your advertising spend. By listening to your goals and understanding your challenges, we develop comprehensive online campaigns that:

  •  Establishes credibility
  • Establishes your Expert status
  • Solidifies your brand in your  Market,
  • And best of all drives Serious Ready-To-Act customers to your business.

You See, We drive buyers not browsers to your business looking for your products or services RIGHT NOW. This is exactly how professional lead generation techniques work. Our services can separate you from your competition and authoritatively establish you as the market leader in your service areas.

That’s the power of a comprehensive Internet Marketing Strategy. Benefits of our STRATEGIC Pay-Per-Lead Marketing System

  1. First and foremost, it’s EASY! With almost no effort on your part, our team can suggest the best marketing platform and sector that your business applies to. Instead of the hassle and months of delays that are consistent with trying to build your own website, paying way too much for it, and then trying to figure out how to get people to it, we take care of all of that for you…at no cost to you.
  2. Second, there is almost NO risk involved. We don’t believe in tying our partners down into long-term contracts…instead, we believe in continually proving that we can do what we say can do. So can we do it? Well, we’ve never lost a Pay-For-Performance partner that has signed up with us, so I guess the proof is in the pudding.
  3. Third, you have complete control over your marketing budget. You decide how many customer leads you want each month and then we go out and get them. Our professional lead generation experts scout for potential customers that will improve your profit. Also, if you’re swamped with work and need the lead volume to slow down, that’s not a problem…just let us know. On the other hand, if you like what we’ve done and want more, we can bring more leads your way as well
  4. Lastly, we provide the most cost-effective advertising solution for your business. You don’t have to spend your money advertising to people who might or might not want your services. With our leads, you know the people want your service because they have already contacted YOU directly.

But let’s look at the costs of OUR services, and compare them to other advertising sources…

Because our advertising services are performance-based, we often ask potential partners to break down the performance of their other advertisements.

The easiest way to determine this is to, first, calculate how much a new customer lead costs. So let’s assume you buy a 1 year ad in the Yellow pages for £12,500.

How many customer leads will that ad result in?

Let’s say you get 6 calls a week (being generous here), every week throughout the year. In this case, you would be paying £43.50 for every phone call. Or let’s say you took out a 1-week ad in the local newspaper for £3,000 and received 30 leads…in this case, you would have paid £100 for each lead.

Yellow Pages £12,500 6 Leads X 52 Weeks = £43.50 Per lead

Local Newspaper £3,000 30 Leads X 1 Week = £100.00 Per Lead

The leads we can generate your business by using Convertz is a fraction of these costs and our team are on hand to explain in full how this can work for you.