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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistFri, Mar 13, 2020 22 min read

6 Marketing Upgrades You Need Now To Help Survive

Digital Marketing Tactics Can Continue To Drive Leads For Your Business, Even When Travel Is Limited

digital marketing upgradesTo be clear, articles like this are timely and not designed to scare anyone. They’re designed to help us all navigate a difficult and uncertain time.

No matter what’s going on in the world, data shows that those who push through and continue to invest in digital marketing always rebound faster, respond quicker and get ahead of their competition.

With travel bans, conferences and events canceled, and companies looking for answers related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), you can make moves now that keep leads coming in, sales opportunities moving and revenue growing.

Here are six digital marketing upgrades to start working on right now:

1. Ramp Up Your Webinar Program

webinar marketingIf you have trade shows and conferences on the books and you’re expecting leads to flow from these events, you should consider alternative plans. Even if the events are not canceled, traveling to these shows could be problematic.

But if we look on the bright side, you won’t be the only one unable to attend, which means people who attend these events looking for education are going to need it in new and virtual formats. This gives you an opportunity to expand your webinar program and fill that void.

Here are a few webinar best practices to consider:

  • Don’t sell! Educate. Even better, try to do the webinar with a partner, such as a complementary service provider or a happy customer.
  • Keep it short. Provide 30 to 45 minutes of educational material and then handle questions. You don’t want to rush, and if you end early, people are always happy.
  • Send enough emails to remind people and encourage them to attend. We like to start emailing about four weeks out and accelerate the emails as people get closer to the date of the webinar event.
  • Watch the metrics. Webinars typically end up with a 50% attendee-to-registration ratio. If 100 people sign up, expect 50 people to attend. If you hit this number, consider it successful. Then don’t forget to stay in touch with the people who didn’t attend. You should even send them the presentation deck and a recording of the session.

Think bigger. Don’t plan one webinar; go all-in and plan a year’s worth of webinars. One a month might not be too many if everyone in your industry is grounded. It’s just as easy to market 12 webinars as it is to market one, and a webinar series is more valuable than a one-off webinar.

If you have partners, you can share the heavy lifting. Working with partners also makes the content richer, and if you’re both on the same page, you can produce an amazing experience for attendees.

Consider including clients. They’re going to be looking for new ways to reach their audience too, and doing a joint webinar with your company might be the answer. The same benefits apply, although you may need to help them market the webinar to their audiences.

If that’s the case, create a webinar marketing tool kit, including all of the graphics, emails, landing pages, sales scripts and promotional ads. Turn it over to them, along with a schedule of when you suggest they do what. This works like a charm and gets people excited to work with you. It also ensures they’ll market your webinar like you’d want them to.

2. Use Chat More Aggressively

If you have a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, you already have access to chat and a chatbot. If you’re using a different platform, you might have to purchase chat software like Drift.

Even Drift is a bargain at roughly $500 per month when you consider how easy it helps prospects and customer connect and talk with your company regardless of location (your location or theirs).

Here are a few items to take into consideration if you’re thinking about adding chat to your website:

  • Who is going to man the chat? Once you turn this on, visitors are going to want to talk to your people. Is this one person all day? Is this two people taking shifts? You have to make sure the chat experience is positive, because nothing is worse than a bad chat experience.
  • What about the bot? Chat comes with automated bot features that can respond to your visitors if your people are not available. Using the bot requires some thinking. How does it answer common questions? When do you turn it on? What should the tone be? Funny, friendly or serious?
  • Training the people manning the chat tool is something a lot of companies miss. But you have to tell people what’s expected of them and arm them with the information they need. What tone do you want them to take with prospects via chat? What answers are they prepared to provide? What additional content do they have access to? What is their main goal? Is it to convert leads into sales opportunities or to nurture marketing leads?

Think bigger here, too. Work a little harder to create a remarkable chat experience. Almost every page on your site might require a slightly different chat experience. This has to be thought out in advance so the chat tool can be set up properly.

This means mapping potential chat conversations. If someone says X, then what do you say next? What pages do you want them to see? What content could you provide?

Some of these chat conversations will be automated, while some will need to be handled by sales reps or marketing people.

One of the nice elements of chat and chat tools is they are very metrics-forward. You can see who’s chatting and what pages they visited. You get data on conversion from chat to sales calls and chat to meetings — even if the meetings are virtual.

You also can prequalify via chat. Sales can ask questions of prospects, and chat is even smart enough to alert sales reps who are preassigned to certain prospects. That means if Jon’s prospect hops on the chat, Jon can pick up the conversation and not miss a beat.

Chat has come a long way, and it might be the perfect time to start using it to help your prospects connect and engage with your company when travel and in-person meetings are not options.

3. Create A Video Library

video marketingMarketing and sales have one goal: Make the prospect feel safe. People only make purchase decisions when they have acute pain and feel safe with their decision.

In-person visits, meetings, lunches, outings and entertainment are great ways to help people get to know, like and trust you, your company and your products or services.

But if you can’t do any of those activities, video is a good alternative.

People do love to watch. YouTube is the second most popular search engine, right behind Google. About 60% of people admit to being a visual learner. Video helps people feel safe, and it’s an effective way to tell your story.

Here are some items to take into consideration when putting a video strategy together:

  • Who is going to be watching the video? Where are they going to be watching? Believe it or not, most people watch video on their devices with the sound off. This means closed captions are no longer optional. Every video needs to have closed captions for the spoken words.
  • Who do they need to get to know? Is it the sales rep? The CEO? The delivery people? Your engineering crew? Knowing who can tell your story in the most effective way is important too. You might need all of the people we mentioned to make videos.
  • Try to keep the videos short. While people love video, they also have a short attention span. Video should be no longer than three minutes long. Even four-minute videos start to feel too long for most people.
  • Most importantly, know what story you want to tell. This is going to take some planning. You should consider scripting out at least the main talking points. Try not to have people reading but instead knowing what points you want covered, so you don’t miss anything important.
  • Finally, here are some production-related tips. Make sure lighting is good (not too bright and not too dark). Sound is the most important, because if people can’t hear you, they won’t watch.

Sticking with your team, think big. Look across your buyer journey and identify all of the places video could help prospects get to know your company. If a video from the CEO is required, where is the best place to share that with prospects?

If reps are going to be creating their own videos to embed in emails and send to prospects, what should those look like? Can you give them some examples to use when creating their own? Do you have the tools to make embedding easy?

Get customers involved, if possible. Typically, having a customer tell your story is much more effective and believable than having you or your marketing people trying to tell your story. If travel is out of the question, consider a video kit that your prospects set up and use with their iPhone.

4. Live Virtual Events

Unlike webinars, which can be live but are often provided on demand, you could consider hosting a live virtual event.

Instead of doing individual demos for prospects in-person, ask them to sign up for a group demo offered twice a week, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Consider hosting a live Q&A session. These are easy to moderate and easy to prep for. Again, taking some examples from our webinar playbook, working with partners extends the reach of your marketing and builds out the content in your session.

Here are some items to take into consideration if you’re thinking about adding live virtual sessions to your lead generation plan:

  • Content is still king, so what are the objectives of this event? You want to provide access. This means you need thought leaders, people who don’t typically provide access but do have desirable expertise in your industry. Most companies have these people; you just need to look for them. If you’re in manufacturing, consider an ask the engineer session. If you’re in software, consider a live demonstration on a particularly challenging use of the software with a Q&A session after.
  • The key is to come up with an event that people need and features information that might be scarce or hard to find. Perhaps you even start showing features that are under development as a way to get people excited.
  • Choose your platform. Most video conferencing tools also support webinars and programs like this easily. They can support up to 1,000 attendees. If you had 500 people at one of these events and you did one every month, that would surely outpace and supplement any lost leads from conferences and events.
  • Make sure your registration, reminder and follow-up nurtures are in place early. The easier the registration process, the smoother the reminder notifications and the better the follow-up nurtures, the more leads, the better the quality and the more sales opportunities events like this will produce.
  • Consider recording the sessions. This gives you another piece of audio and video content for your website, and people who missed the event can still register, share their info and get access to the content.

Following a consistent theme, think big. Consider putting your CEO in an ask me anything session. Perhaps feature one of your industry’s thought leaders and pair them with one of your top people. Perhaps have a panel with a wider variety of experts. The broader the content, the more people you can attract.

If people are not traveling to conferences, trade shows or events, they are going to be looking for new ways to remain educated and get access to information. Your company can be the main source for this in a new way.

5. Work More Closely With Influencers

This has always been an underused tactic in most marketing efforts. Right now, people are writing about your industry. People are writing about similar products and services. People are writing articles, doing videos and running podcasts that touch your space.

By reaching out to these people and getting access to their audiences, you can drive a significant amount of new people to your website, your content and your company.

Here are some items to take into consideration if you’re thinking about working with influencers to help get your story out:

  • Some influencers are pay to play. In fact, the bigger their audiences, the more likely they are to be in this category. This isn’t bad or good, but you should be prepared to deal with it. Are you willing to pay? If not, quickly move on and look for people who are simply looking for related content to give their audiences solid information.
  • If you’re not willing to pay, then you should be looking for tier two influencers, people with smaller audiences. This usually means you might need more of them to drive the traffic you’re looking for. Again, it’s not good or bad, but it does require an adjustment in strategy.
  • Not sure who might be an influencer? Google your keywords. More often than not, it’s easy to find people who are writing or posting in your space. You can also consider tools like BuzzSumo that help identify influencers for you.
  • Now you have to get their attention. This is like the old PR days. Create the story, make it disruptive, emotional and compelling, and then take it to them. Do as much of the heavy lifting as possible. In short, write the story for them so you can simply hand it off. As an example, you might pitch a guest blog article on their site. If you have the article ready to go, it’s going to be easier.
  • Finally, some of these influencers are not people but sites. There are industry and community sites that allow content from outside sources. Business 2 Community is a site filled with related B2B articles that almost anyone can post. Good news: It gets a lot of readers. Bad news: It’s filled with a ton of stuff and can be challenging to sort through. This is what you have to deal with when influencers are on the menu.

To do this well, create a portfolio of influencers and influencer websites. Start with the ones that have the biggest audience and see if you get traction there.

Look beyond posts and mentions. Focus on whether the influencer will drive visitors to your website that turn into leads. Then keep working down the list until you have enough influencer traction to support referral traffic to your site that is up and to the right month over month.

Once you get there, you can start digging into the quality of the leads and how you do more with the sources that are producing the best leads, instead of the most leads.

6. Create A Tighter Alignment With Sales

If your company is like most, then sales and marketing tolerate each other at best. At worst it could be the Hatfields and the McCoys. Now is the perfect time to align these two teams and get them working together.  

If the world remains stressed for a couple of months, every lead is going to be valuable for sales and marketing. These two teams are going to have to work more closely together than ever before.

Here are some ways to ensure sales and marketing work on revenue generation together:

  • Consider an SLA (service-level agreement). This defines what’s expected of both groups down to a great degree of detail. How much lead value does marketing need to generate, and how does sales need to respond to leads generated by marketing?
  • If you want to cut costs, now is the best time to take your two VPs (one for marketing and one for sales) and create one VP of revenue. Having one person lead both marketing and sales with a single focus on growing revenue is a trend we’re seeing across all industries.
  • On the less drastic side, seat them together and make them meet regularly. Pushing them into the same space will get them talking, collaborating and working more closely together to generate more revenue. Have one weekly meeting with marketing and sales discussions focused on one single goal revenue.
  • It might be time to start account-based marketing (ABM). This is a campaign tactic that requires sales and marketing to work together. It’s targeted, it’s focused and it’s highly measurable. If times are challenging and events are canceled, consider some direct outreach to key accounts and targeted individuals.

If you can take advantage of the chaotic time now, you’ll be thankful when things settle down and you have a highly efficient, effective and coordinated revenue generation effort that includes an aligned sales and marketing team.

The world might seem crazy today, but over the next couple of months, it will start to stabilize and settle back into normal range. It should be business as usual from a marketing perspective. You should never stop marketing and never stop selling. Respond with thoughtful strategy, adjust with different lead generation tactics, ensure your sales process works regardless of location and keep firing on all cylinders.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.