Check out this great new infographic about contact forms. Thank you Lisa Margetis at SingleHop.
Guest post by Glenn Facey
We live in a new age of information superabundance: the burgeoning era of Big Data analytics. Never before have marketers had the opportunity to understand their audiences in such fine, precise, and comprehensive detail. But while it seems that answers to many persistent marketing challenges are rising to the surface in the constant churn of data from social, mobile, and other online activity, the core tenet of Big Data remains as true as ever: In order to gather useful answers, you have to ask the right questions.
Without actionable goals and insights, even the most data-rich, well-supported marketing analytics efforts can go awry. So how do you go about setting the stage for an effective marketing analytics strategy? We’ve identified three key steps.
1) Pair insight from inside and outside
What are you trying to accomplish with your marketing analytics efforts? In order to identify the right goals for your marketing analytics effort, you’ll need to draw on two crucial perspectives.
First, an insider from your firm will help ensure that your approach aligns with the needs and direction of the organization. This individual is responsible for keeping the process rooted in the path and realities of the firm. Second, an outside analyst will provide context through knowledge of related industry verticals — as well as third-party objectivity. With these two figures in partnership, you’re prepared to move to the next step.
2) Identify questions that drive your goals
Now that your company insider and outside analyst are in place, they’ll need to collaborate in order to identify questions that will drive growth for the firm — questions that may be answered through business intelligence (BI) and big data analytics. While these will differ from organization to organization, some common approaches include:
● What is the amount of revenue retained?
● How much revenue did newly converted leads bring in?
● What is the cost savings attributed to more efficient workflows?
● How do we identify which marketing activities contributed to the creation of a given lead?
● What is the percentage increase in our brand awareness?
By explicitly identifying goals and related questions for your marketing analytics, you may ensure that those goals are clear and achievable, as well as make it easier to select the right tools for the task. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this stage — it creates the guidelines (and sometimes guardrails) for everything that comes after. From defining deliverables to knowing when you’ve achieved your goal and may proceed to the next phase, these questions touch the rest of your work in countless ways. And that brings us to the third key step in your strategy development.
3) Know your tools and prerequisites
You’re almost ready to think about the metrics you need to gather and analyze in order to answer your questions. But first, you’ll need to consider the tools available to you and the “facts on the ground” at your organization — in other words, the prerequisites of a successful marketing analytics effort. The top three include:
● Creating a consolidated data strategy
● Investment in analytics
● Continuous dedication to the effort at the highest levels of the organization
Big data marketing analytics aren’t a grab-and-go goodie bag of answers. They require serious, ongoing commitment from a firm that’s looking to better understand its own thoughtfully forged path — where it stands, and where it’s going. With a collaborative balance of internal and external minds, a robust set of tools and resources, and defined goals driving actionable questions, your firm will have everything in place to not only achieve an incisive understand of its marketing and audience, but the way forward to greater success.
About the Author:
Glenn Facey is the VP of Business Development and Marketing at Claraview, where he achieves business growth through his deep cross-functional experience in consulting, sales, business intelligence (BI) and analytics, marketing, organizational effectiveness, and working across organizations to ensure that business value is delivered to the organization.
The Hinge Research Institute conducts regular research on the professional services marketplace. For our most recent study, we set out to examine how successful providers cross the perception gap between buyers and sellers. In cooperation with RAIN Group, we studied over 1500 matched buyers and sellers and analyzed 42 factors that distinguish the sellers who ultimately close deals from the also-rans.
The top three factors that correlated with successful sales also predicted buyers’ satisfaction with the purchasing process and intent to continue buying services from the seller. You can think of these three factors as a checklist to meeting professional services buyers’ true expectations.
1. Educate me with new ideas or perspectives
Producing educational content for your audiences pulls a lot of marketing weight -- and it contributes to sales, too. Say you’re a small accounting firm that works primarily with small businesses. You might write an ongoing blog about news around small business taxes, along with longer free guides or ebooks on topics like deducting a home office.
This may feel an awful lot like giving away your knowledge for free. And that’s because it’s exactly what you’re doing. By educating your audience with substantial, useful, and search-optimized content, you raise your visibility online while simultaneously raising your credibility with potential buyers. This kind of content helps folks get to know you, so that buy the time you’re closing the sale, the client feels that they already understand both your firm and its capabilities.
2. Collaborate with me
Many sellers will tell you that buyers are looking for a “trusted partner,” but that’s one of those phrases that gets tossed around so often it becomes vague and not particularly useful.
At the beginning of a relationship between buyer and seller, as you’re closing the sale, buyers report that they want to see a willingness to collaborate. They want a problem-solving dynamism in the relationship. Conversely, they don’t want a my-way-or-the-highway attitude from a seller, with rigid offerings and little willingness to find a tailored, cooperative solution to the buyer’s problem. Work with clients to solve their problems -- or chart a path toward the solution -- in a way that leverages both your strengths and the buyer’s in unison, creating a new and unique capability set.
3. Persuade me that you will achieve results
If you’ve produced educational material, your buyer may have learned to see their problem in a new light, or seen how your firm thinks about similar problems. If you’ve shared your collaborative flexibility, the buyer has seen that you’re willing to work toward the right solution for them. Now, they’ll want to see that you can carry out that solution.
There a number of ways you can make this clear. Case studies and client referrals are two effective methods. More broadly, it’s important to cultivate your reputation for results. By refusing to overpromise in one engagement, no matter how tempting, you avoid the risk of tainting your reputation...and you better position yourself for winning the next engagement.
The art of closing the sale isn’t a matter of magical hard-sells -- in fact, it isn’t a matter of “saying the right thing” at all. Instead, it’s a matter of managing buyers’ perceptions of your firm. Your knowledge and credibility, your willingness to collaborate, and your reputation for follow-through -- when these attributes of your firm are visible to the world, you’ll find increasingly that buyers come looking for you.
To read the full results of the study, download a free copy of the new book Inside the Buyer’s Brain.
About the Author: Elizabeth Harr is a partner at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Elizabeth is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, management, communications, and alliance development. She is the coauthor of How Buyers Buy: Technology Services Edition and Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Services Edition.
|Marketing automation is a hot topic as more B2B marketers are adopting the technology to generate more and better leads, improve marketing productivity, and increase conversion rates. But what are the current trends, challenges, and success factors for marketing automation?|
|We conducted a comprehensive survey, leveraging the combined wisdom of over 50,000 B2B marketers in the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn to get answers to questions like:
We received over 900 survey responses and distilled the survey findings into an easy to digest, information-rich report - you can download it right here.
Enjoy the report!
Why, you ask? It is through content that many other online marketing channels flow best. If you are producing high value content, it is much more likely to spread in social media, attract links from other websites, and rank well in Google. All of these lead to more web visitors through social media and SEO.
Winning the Business
Anything and everything can be found online. More and more decision makers are looking to educate themselves before making a buying decision, and it is through your content that they learn. The firm that does the best job educating them is often the one that wins the business. This educational process replaces the old golf course method of developing trust. Online trust is developed through the educational process, and therefore the most trusted firm is the one that gets selected.
Building this trust, however, can take time and a lot of content. So how do you manage time and produce a regular flow of content? This is where having a content marketing strategy comes in. If there is no strategy behind the content you are producing, when you are publishing it, and what channels you are using to promote it, then your entire operation could fail.
What Types of Content Exist?
A content marketing strategy needs to focus on building trust and engagement over time using multiple forms of content. There are many forms of content available to a marketing team including:
• Premium content pieces (whitepapers, ebooks, guides)
• Research Reports
• Email marketing
The key to developing an effective content marketing strategy is getting all of your content to work together, creating a lead generating machine for your firm. Your content must be engaging right off-the-bat to pull the reader in, entice them to become a lead, and finally nurture them until they are ready to buy.
Typically blogging is used to achieve the first goal of content marketing – drawing visitors in. In your content marketing strategy, you must decide what topics your blog posts will be focused on and what keywords you will use to attract people to your blog from search engines.
Becoming a Lead
Once someone is on your blog, the next step is for him or her to engage with your brand. This often means the visitor is willing to give out their email address. In content marketing, this occurs when a visitor wants a particular piece of downloadable content and are asked to exchange their email address for the download. Your content marketing strategy must determine what these downloadable pieces of content will be about and how you will promote them on your website.
Nurturing Your Leads
The last piece of the content marketing puzzle is nurturing a lead once you have their email address. Most people on the web are still educating themselves and aren’t quite ready to by when searching for information. However, once you have an email address, it is vital that you continue to educate your prospects until they are ready to buy. Webinars are often ideal for nurturing because it allows prospects to get “face to face” with you without feeling pressured.
Every firm needs a tailored content marketing strategy to be successful. Focus on the tips above when putting yours together. And remember that without a strategy behind your content marketing efforts, chances are, you are seeing much lower results than what’s truly possible.
For more information on putting together a content marketing strategy, check out Hinge’s B2B Content Marketing Guide.
About the Author: Elizabeth Harr is a partner at Hinge, a branding and marketing firm that focuses on professional services. Elizabeth is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, management, communications, and alliance development. She is also a coauthor of Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Edition.