The Website Gets A Lot Of Attention, But The Supporting Tactics Drive B2B Demand Generation And Leads
Thanksgiving is coming up tomorrow, and it’s one of my favorite holidays, with family, friends, good food and football. Of course, we also get to argue the virtues of high-quality lead-generating marketing vs. get-your-name-out-there marketing.
Regardless of how you think about demand generation, this gives me a chance to compare the wide variety of supporting marketing tactics to the sides at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
We believe strongly that the key to driving revenue in a scalable, repeatable and predictable manner is to properly configure (or orchestrate) the wide variety of marketing and sales tactics required to create, manage and optimize this revenue machine. Just like Thanksgiving dinner, you have the turkey as the star, but the most memorable meals feature amazing supporting dishes. Revenue generation works the same way.
Revenue Strategy Is The Menu
No amazing meal comes from “off-the-cuff” thinking. If you wake up Thursday morning and start deciding what to cook, it’s already too late. You won’t have the right ingredients, the stores will be packed and they’ll be out of most of the more popular items. You’re much better off creating a menu in advance, planning your dinner prep and then getting the ingredients ahead of time. That way, when it’s time to prepare the meal, you have everything you need.
Revenue is going to work the same way. Hope is not a strategy. Doing what you did last year but expecting different results is insane. Instead, get your plan together now. Create the recipes you need to succeed. How are you going to drive up visitors? How are you going to convert them at a higher rate? How are you going to increase the quality of the leads? How are you going to work those leads down into the funnel so they become sales opportunities? How do you close more opportunities and in less time?
These are the right questions, and you need the right answers and the metrics to ensure you’re seeing improvements over time. Do this, and you’ll have an amazing menu to drive revenue in 2018 and beyond.
Website Is The Turkey
Almost everyone features turkey for dinner and almost everyone knows their website has to be top notch. There’s no need to try and convince a CEO that they need a great website.
Just like there’s no need to try and convince your mother that she needs a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s always the star of the show. It takes the longest to cook, comes out to the table last and you make a production out of the carving. It’s traditional.
Your website is the same way. It’s going to be the star of your revenue generation program. Everyone visits it. You’ll use it to qualify prospects in and out of your sales process. It tells your story 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It needs to tell the right story, an emotional story that engages and draws the right people into your site, and it needs to be disruptive to move your prospects to act.
Your site has to be designed with the visitors’ experience in mind. You need pages for each stage of the buyer journey and pages for every type of persona. Those pages need to tell stories and give visitors the opportunity to connect with your company to continue the conversation, if they’re ready. The site needs to be visible to search engines and rank highly. When people search, they need to find your site, click on that compelling link, land on the site, connect in less than 10 seconds and look around for a few minutes. At a minimum, they download content that’s helpful, and at best, they ask to speak with your sales team.
Regardless, if your website is not the star of your marketing, it’s time for an upgrade.
Organic Search Engine Optimization Is The Mashed Potatoes
Every dinner table has potatoes. Mashed potatoes are the most popular version, and without them, the table and the meal would feel incomplete.
The same holds true with search engine optimization. It’s such a staple that it’s the mashed potatoes of the revenue generation plan. If people searching for you can’t find you on Google, Yahoo and Bing, your business is invisible. Nothing else you’re doing matters.
Just like the time it takes to peel, boil, mash and season the potatoes, it also takes time to get ranked for keywords, keyword phrases and contextual questions. Some keywords take longer than others, and this is where keyword selection can make or break your organic search engine optimization efforts. If you want to rank for “health insurance,” it’s going to take you much longer and require much more effort than if you want to rank for “health insurance for banks in Denver.” Selecting the set of keywords you’re going to focus on is critical.
Make sure your keywords are not too competitive, as this makes ranking more difficult. Make sure you have a collection of keywords, phrases and questions to start working on (typically between 10 and 12 targeted keywords). Know your baseline ranking and keep track weekly. As you move up, your visitor traffic numbers should increase, and if the visitors are the right visitors, your leads should go up too.
Email Marketing And Lead Nurturing Is The Green Bean Casserole
You’ll find a lot of green bean casserole recipes, and the same holds true with email marketing and lead nurturing approaches. The key is to match this marketing and sales nurturing tactic to your prospects’ buyer journeys.
For example, long lead times and long sales cycle journeys require more lead nurturing over a longer period of time. They might also need a more frequent email marketing program to keep the prospects connected with your company. A shorter sales cycle can use a more abbreviated lead nurture campaign and more aggressive offers in the campaign.
Just as some people like crispy onions on their green beans, other people don’t think many configuration choices exist for lead nurturing and email marketing. The key is to track performance, measure frequently and make constant upgrades to the campaigns to increase performance month over month. Track open rates, click-through rates, engagement rates with visited pages, time on site from emails sent and opt-out rates.
The more effective your lead nurturing campaigns, the faster leads work through the sales process, the shorter your sales cycle and the higher your close rate on sales opportunities.
Content Marketing Is The Stuffing
Could you imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing? No way. Don’t imagine any marketing and sales improvements without content either. Better yet, just like you can never have too much stuffing at dinner, you can never have too much content marketing.
So many kinds of stuffing exist and you’ll find even more kinds of content. To drive results, you need to consider almost all of them. But first you need to understand intimately the content that your targeted and prioritized personas prefer.
You might need video content, infographics, long-form content like e-books or whitepapers, or shorter-form content like tip guides or checklists. Webinars have content, blogging is all about content and your website has content on each page. Your emails and sales communication also use well-written content. In fact, content is going to fuel your sales process, so make sure you’re looking at what assets your sales team needs to make your prospects feel safer.
The more content you produce, promote and publish, the more leads you’ll generate. And if you produce, promote and publish the right content, you’ll generate a much higher quality and more qualified lead. If your sales process features the right content delivered in context to your buyers’ concerns, you’ll close new customers more frequently and in much less time.
Just like delicious cornbread stuffing warms up the tummy, these quick-closing, high-quality leads are going to warm up everyone’s revenue effort.
Paid Social And Paid Search Are The Rolls
I know breads and starches are a little out of vogue these days, but what’s Thanksgiving dinner without the rolls and the butter melting on those piping-hot rolls? They provide instant gratification. Paid search and paid social advertising provide some similar quick-return gratification when it comes to lead generation.
Once the campaign strategy and mechanics of the campaign are set up in either Google or your preferred social media platform, you’re off to the races. The campaigns run, you target your profiled prospects and the leads start coming in. While not every campaign produces results and produces them quickly, the access to highly targeted profiled prospects is unmatched these days.
In conjunction with a longer-term inbound strategy, this is an excellent way to get the party started early and prime your sales funnel with leads for the sales team to follow up on and provide feedback to you. Now you dial in the campaigns based on budget and lead quality. Before you know it, the top of the funnel is in great shape.
Account-Based Marketing Is The Cranberry Sauce
Not everyone likes cranberry sauce, so while quite popular, it comes down to taste and family traditions. In a similar way, account-based marketing (ABM) is not right for everyone. In most cases, ABM is right for companies that know who their prospects are and what companies they want to be doing business with.
For example, companies that tell us “we only do business with the Fortune 500” or “we have three clients in the Empire State Building and we want to have 50 clients in that specific building” are right for ABM. Other applications for ABM include having well-defined and targeted personas including not only company demographic data but also individual psychographic data on the people in those companies. You need to have that data (or be able to get that data) to run an ABM program. Assessing, cleaning and gaining access to the data are all options if this type of highly targeted marketing fits your go-to-market strategy.
Whether you like canned cranberry jelly or homemade cranberry relish, there are different ways to configure an ABM program. Take the time up front to set it up properly and create the ABM assets you’re going to need to drive connections, engagement and sales opportunities.
Sales Enablement Is The Gravy
If you’re getting leads but revenue isn’t growing, you have a sales challenge, not a marketing challenge. Sometimes improving the way you execute your sales process drives an even larger lift in revenue than pushing more leads through an ineffective sales process.
At Thanksgiving, the gravy ends up in almost every part of the dinner, and it makes it all taste even better. Looking at each part of your sales process and upgrading the parts where the data shows lower-than-expected conversion rates often makes your sales effort even better.
As an example, if you’re closing 10% of the proposals you’re submitting, you can double the amount of proposals to double revenue or you can increase the conversion rate to 20% to double revenue. Which is going to be easier? The latter. Sometimes a simple change can produce a major impact.
Advocacy Marketing Is Your Dessert
What meal would be complete without dessert? It’s the sweet ending to a wonderful meal. In our case, we see advocacy marketing as that sweet finish for your revenue generation machine. How nice is it when your prospects don’t ask for references? How nice is it when they say they’re only talking to you? How nice is it when at the end of the process you ask them “is there any reason you wouldn’t go with us?” and their answer is “no, we’re ready to sign”?
It’s sweet, and it means shorter sales cycles and higher close rates. It also usually means higher average revenue per new client, which drives major lift in a revenue generation effort.
Activating your current customers to advocate on your behalf is easier than ever before. It just takes planning, thought, a little creativity and having a program built into your sales process that makes it automatic every single time you’re talking to a prospect.
When you get all of these side dishes on the table, you see a wonderful meal made with love and attention. The result is friends and family sharing stories, getting to know each other and growing as people. When you get all of these disparate marketing and sales tactics together, and they’re created with a strategy in mind plus thoughtful planning, buyer journeys and education as the backbone, the result is an increase in leads, more high-quality sales opportunities and more new customers who close faster and more frequently.
Most importantly, you have a scalable, repeatable and predictable revenue machine that propels your company to greater heights, and that is as good as having family and friends over for Thanksgiving dinner.
From all of us at Square 2 Marketing to all of you, have a delightful and lovely holiday!