Entries Tagged 'b2b marketing' ↓

Is Quora Relevant for B2B Marketing?

It was just over two months ago that Robert Scoble gave an implicit endorsement for Quora, asking the question: Is Quora the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years?.

Quora, made available to the public in June 2010, was co-founded by Facebook’s former CTO Adam D’Angleo, and at first glance appears similar to LinkedIn Answers, Wikipedia, Focus.com or Yahoo Answers. But do we need another Q&A site? And why is Quora getting so much attention lately?

B2B Marketers are starting to cross paths ever more frequently with this knowledge market site, whether it is a Quora listing on a Google search results page, or going to the site itself to exercise thought leadership.

In this Thursday’s B2Bchat, we dive into Quora’s role in B2B marketing.

Q. Which ‘knowledge market sites’ do B2B buyers go to for information?
Q. As a marketer, what is the best way to get involved with Quora or similar sites?
Q. Will Quora kill blogging?
Q. How can you manage brand reputation in the ‘knowledge market’?
Q. What is the future of Quora?

Join us on February 24 at 5:00pm Pacific for a live #B2Bchat on the relevance of Quora for B2B marketing!

Aligning B2B Sales and Marketing Efforts in Social Media

Marketing and public relations departments tend to be the ones driving social media within companies. But what about Sales? How can they best contribute to carrying the brand message and communicating with prospective customers?

Join us for our upcoming #B2Bchat session on Thursday, December 16 at 5:00pm Pacific, where we’ll dive in to: Aligning B2B Sales and Marketing Efforts in Social Media.

Q. What are the do’s and don’t’s of posting for members of the sales team?
Q. What can marketing can do to help the sales team be more effective with social media?
Q. How much time should sales people spend on social? does the answer vary based on level of skill, experience or responsibilities?
Q. What guidelines, if any, are helpful for sales and marketing so each can become more effective in their use of social media?
Q. How can sales and marketing avoid conflict in their use of social that might negate each other’s efforts?
Q. What is “social CRM” and is it mostly a consumer thing or does it also apply to B2B?
Q. What is the dividing line between sales and marketing’s “ownership” or responsibility for a social relationship? Is it the hand-off of a qualified lead? does it have to be defined?

A big thanks to Steven Parker, @sparker9, for suggesting this topic and these questions!

Social Media Statistics for B2B Marketers

Here is a new, must-see video for B2B marketers interested in social media. It has been prepared by our friends at Earnest Agency in the UK.

Of the stats presented, here some which are especially noteworthy:

  1. CIO’s could well be the biggest blocker to social media adoption. Fifty-four percent of CIO’s prohibit use of social networking sites while at work.
  2. The use of social media by B2B companies is validated by business purchasers. 93% of business buyers believe all companies should have a presence in social media.
  3. If you think C-level executives aren’t active online, you’re sorely mistaken. The Internet is the C-Suites top information resource (74% of C-Level executives say it’s very valuable)
  4. 89% of journalists make use of blogs while conducting their online research and 96% turn to corporate websites.

To read more on the data presented here, check out Earnest Agency’s accompanying blog post which contains further detail and sources:http://earnestagency.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/vital-statistics-for-every-b2b-marketer/.

Lead Scoring Best Practices

More and more B2B marketers are turning to lead scoring as a way of optimizing lead management. Many of us will remember when we used to process raw Excel lists, handing over hundreds of names with job titles and companies to our sales department, only to find that leads weren’t being followed up on. It wasn’t possible to know which leads were the most interested in your company, and wasn’t easy to see which matched your target buyer.

Recent advances in marketing automation and sales CRM software have made it easier to streamline the whole process. Marketing and sales professionals can apply lead scoring algorithms to leads, effectively sorting and prioritizing them for nurturing programs and sales follow-up.

In a recent episode of the weekly #B2Bchat on Twitter, we dug into questions surrounding lead scoring. Here is a summary of the questions and comments, compiled:

Q. What is lead scoring?

  • There are a lot of online resources on the topic lead scoring. We’ve posted a couple of articles on lead scoring including The 5 Basics of Lead Scoring on B2Bbloggers.com.
  • Here are a couple of definitions of lead scoring in 140 characters or less: Lead scoring is assigning a probability/weight to a lead based on its online behavior while interacting with your digital assets (via @joezuc) and Lead scoring is giving a rating system to prospects so more time spent with qualified leads (via @NuSparkMktg)

Q. What do you need in order to get started with lead scoring?

  • A marketing automation system. Vendors that were mentioned by name in the session included Marketo, Vtrenz, Eloqua, Genius, Marketbright and Silverpop. @jepc referred us to a comprehensive list of marketing automation systems that he has compiled.
  • You need a list of the possible paths/interactions a customer can have with your digital assets. This can be quite complex, depending on the type of product/service.
  • A target audience definition is needed, and an understanding of your buyer personas.
  • You need to understand your customer buying behavior. Talk to sales in order to learn buying behaviors, and look at previous activities associated with closed deals.
  • An agreement on the definition of a lead is essential. Sales and marketing need to come up with the definition together. Any discussion of lead scoring helps sales and marketing connect better with goals.
  • Executive buy-in from sales & marketing leadership is needed.

Q. What advice would you give to marketers that want to take lead scoring to the next level?

  • Normalize job titles to get better scoring, or restrict job titles to a pick list.
  • If possible, include consideration of offline activities as well.
  • The following high-value interactions should be weighted accordingly: E.g. “How We Help” page = higher score
  • The combo of product page w. case study or contact us page = bonus points
  • More visits from more people in one company within a shorter time frame = bonus points
  • Use negative scoring for certain job titles, e.g. consultant, student and assistant.
  • Review lead scores of closed sales to assess the validity of your scoring assumptions

This post appeared originally at b2bbloggers.com.

Measuring the Value of Digital Marketing

How do B2B marketers tackle the question of marketing campaign value? Do we make strategic decisions based on real, actionable data? With the firehose of data that is available to marketers now-a-days, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the information that truly matters. And this is especially true for B2B with their typically complex, drawn out sales cycles.

In our latest episode of #B2Bchat, we dug into questions surrounding metrics. Here is a summary of the questions and comments, compiled:

Q. Which components of your digital marketing campaigns are delivering the best results? E.g. Search, Email, Display Advertising, Social Media?

  • Search (PPC and SEO). These are most effective when in used in conjunction with great landing pages.
  • Email
  • Mediums are secondary, success depends on the contextual relevance of the message.

Q. Why do campaign budgets get cut? Poor performance or lack of tracking?

  • Both: poor performance due to lack of clear objectives. and lack of tracking because no analysis properly done during campaign
  • Most of the time the problem is poorly defined goals and metrics
  • Budget cuts can also come due to lack of well defined baselines.
  • Lack of commitment to the campaign. Unreasonable expectations of sales impact.
  • On social media budgets: Shyness with social media due to it being unproven, thus high risk. Execs are holding back.
  • Measuring metrics a science, but knowing how to explain them can sometimes be an art. e.g. convincing your boss to keep budget.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to marketing reports?

  • First Dashboard reports need to be customized (management level) and meet biz needs…focus on actionable metrics!
  • A lot of people over-do it with reports. Too much data and too complex = danger of focusing on wrong metrics.

Q. How do you assess the value of a digital marketing campaign? Where do you start?

  • Have specific goals and objectives
  • Start with the dollar value of new sales and work backwards
  • Measure the number of sales-ready leads and wins
  • A good marketing dashboard is fundamental

Q. What metrics (Key Performance Indicators) do you track? Which matter most?

  • “Actionable” metrics, data which will allow us to make better decisions and take action
  • PDF downloads, newsletter subscriptions, sales leads, e-commerce transactions
  • Clicks, conversion, leads
  • Customer retention
  • Qualified leads, Reach, Buzz, Sentiment
  • Engagement: comments/replies
  • Predictive actions: signups, downloads, resource access

Word art of transcript from April 29 #B2Bchat – Measuring the Value of Digital Marketing (courtesy of Wordle.net).

This summary was originally posted at www.b2bbloggers.com.

The Top 10 Marketing Lists on Twitter

With Twitter Lists being rolled out to a greater  portion of users earlier today, there is a lot of buzz being created around the new feature.  In a nod to my friend Manoj at Web Analytics World, who just posted a set of web analytics Twitter lists, here are a some marketing lists to follow on Twitter. This top 10 list is based on the number of followers each list has at the time of this posting.

Top 10 Marketing Lists on Twitter

  1. @Scobleizer/tech-pundits
  2. @dannysullivan/searchmarketing
  3. @dannysullivan/marketing
  4. @seanpower/analytics-and-measurement
  5. @teresaberry/seattle-nw-faves
  6. @SEOdojo/members
  7. @adland/adagencies
  8. @stevewoods/b2bmarketers
  9. @AdvertisingLaw/marketing
  10. @susanbeebe/social-media-smarties

For the complete list, visit the Listorious page: http://listorious.com/tags/marketing.

A Social Media Map for B2B Marketing

Want to see how Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, and ON24 relate to each other? Or have you ever wondered what role Ning, Scribd or Sonic Foundry have to play in the promotional mix?

Here is a new social media map courtesy of London-based agency, Banner. They’ve taken several dozen of the biggest marketing vehicles and charted them according to role, i.e. document sharing, social bookmarking, video sharing, microblogging, etc. To best read the map, view it in full screen mode.

The question quickly becomes: where do I start? My advice would be to circle the mediums you already work with, and then work your way along the lines into new territory. Start by searching for your brand and your main competitors within each of the stations. It should quickly become evident how relevant the vehicle is to your target audience. You will then want to pick a small handful of channels to work with, thus keeping it more focused and using each to their full potential.

12 Questions B2B Marketers are Asking (or Should be Asking)

Blogging from SES San Jose, 2009

At a conference like SES, you’ll find search agencies, representatives from the search engines, consultants, bloggers, … and marketers. The marketers will fall into dozens of categories, by industry, company size, etc., and B2C and/or B2B. I’ve spent a great deal of time with B2B marketers over the last couple of years at trade shows like this one, as well as in sales calls, webinars and client meetings. These are some of the questions you will hear them asking in San Jose.  They will come up in sessions, in the coffee line-ups, and yes, maybe even occasionally at the #SearchBash.

It often starts with the standard challenges tied to Search, like increased visibility, traffic, lead quality, and brand management. But a lot of it goes beyond search:

1.      Am I getting everything I can out of our analytics software? The answer I hear most of the time is a convincing: NO.

2.      Is Search working in tandem with other online channels? If I outsource SEO and PPC, will they work with our web developers, ad agency, PR, etc.?  Also, can a search agency understand my vertical industry well enough?

3.      Is my paid Search cannibalizing traffic that would otherwise be coming from SEO?

4.      Do we have an accurate model of our customer’s buying process? This question is often followed by, “it depends”, or even silence. How does the buying funnel model apply?

5.      How much of our marketing/sales cycle can be handled online? Is it siloed off from our face-to-face meetings with prospects?

6.      Marketing automation software – how much can it do?  How does it tie in to our sales CRM?  Lead nurturing: how much can be automated? What are we supposed to nurture leads with?

7.      How do I measure engagement over a long sales cycle and multiple buyers at the same time?

8.      Reporting: how do I attribute a sales opportunity to the proper marketing campaign(s)? Who gets credit for the sales lead?

9.      Social media: is it relevant to my buyers, really? Can’t we just start our own social network? Who in the company should be managing the Twitter account? The Facebook profile? Should our YouTube videos be professionally done? How do buyer demographics affect the way they buy from us? Do digital natives operate differently than digital immigrants?

10.   What about tools like PPC bid management software? At what point can we afford to make the investment, and will it be more effective?

11.   If only our whole marketing team really got search… How can we get everybody on the same page?

12.   Is a thought leadership strategy effective? How can we get started? I think this is especially relevant for service-based B2B companies seeking to establish their brand. There are several examples of companies that have built a fabulous reputation and wide visibility this way without spending a ton of money on advertising.

These questions don’t have quick answers, and each one is worthy of an in-depth panel discussion in itself.  But if you’re at SES today, you might want to check out one of the following four sessions on the B2B and verticals track, including Gord Hotchkiss’ panel called The BuyerSphere Project, Understanding B2B Buying Behavior.

mapping-the-buyersphere

What Age Is Your Customer?

I can hardly believe we’re only a few days away from wrapping up the BuyerSphere webinar series. It has been quite a journey. Since the beginning of April, Enquiro has been building an amazing package of webinars and research papers which go to the very core of B2B marketing. Experts from Google, Business.com, Covario, Demandbase and Marketo have all contributed their unique experience and marketing advice. If you’ve missed them so far, you can still get the recordings and white papers at www.enquiro.com/b2bresearch.

The final webinar in the series will be – in my opinion – one of the most fascinating and thought provoking. We’re calling it The Rise of the Digital Native: B2B Buying in Flux. Gord Hotchkiss and his panel of experts are taking a look at a very basic but fundamental question: Does age play a role in marketing? What does Enquiro’s latest research show us about B2B buying behavior as it relates to the buyer’s demographic, and more specifically, how and when the buyer grew up?

For the first time ever in an Enquiro webinar, we’re also joined by Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin, two very big hitters in the Search Marketing industry. They will be part of the panel along with our own Gord Hotchkiss, Ben Hanna (Business.com), Chris Golec (Demandbase), Matthias Blume (Covario) and Mark McMaster (Google).

As an attendee of the live event, you will get to hear the discussion as it happens, plus be able to send the panel your marketing-related questions. We will also be touching upon the highlights of the rest of the series, so if you’ve missed previous webinars, don’t miss out on this one. To top it off, one lucky attendee will win a BuyerSphere hard copy white paper package, plus a 15-minute search marketing audit with an Enquiro account manager.

The Rise of the Digital Native
Live Webinar
Wednesday, June 24 2:00pm Pacific
Register now –>

The webinar explores:

* The differences between a Digital Native and a Digital Immigrant
* Why the brain gets wired differently in Digital Natives
* How this impacts interactions with technology and the web
* What are the implications for B2B buying
* How the landscape might shift in the next decade

Panelists:
Gord Hotchkiss – President and CEO, Enquiro
Rand Fishkin – CEO and Co-Founder, SEOmoz
Danny Sullivan – Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land
Ben Hanna – VP Marketing, Business.com
Mark McMaster – Senior Planner of Technology/B2B Markets, Google
Chris Golec – Founder and CEO, Demandbase
Moderated by Bill Barnes, EVP Business Development, Enquiro

danny-rand2

Rand Fishkin, CEO and founder of SEOmoz, and Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Land will be special guests at the wrap-up to the BuyerSphere webinar series, June 24.

How Does Your Risk Fit Into My Funnel?

I had the pleasure of producing Enquiro’s recent webinar titled Beyond the B2B Buying Funnel. Being a B2B marketer myself, I’m quite fond of the funnel concept and use it to map things like lead volume vs. position in the sales/marketing cycle. An interview I conducted with Jim Sterne takes a look at funnels of different shapes and how they reveal demand generation ailments and successes.

But where does the funnel fall short? One of the main messages I’ve taken from the material is that we shouldn’t look to the funnel model to imply a clear top-to-bottom progression in the sales process. Gord Hotchkiss refers to new research which shows that buyers are prone to experiencing a “risk gap” which, if not addressed by the marketer, acts as a plug in the funnel.

Risk is a fascinating concept in the field of B2B buying. One of the webinar presenters, Jon Miller, pointed out that a bad purchase decision can cost you your reputation or even your job, while good decisions will often benefit the company more than the individual.

So how does an individual mitigate risk? In-depth interviews with buyers, which were a part of the research methodology, show that buyers gravitate to six ways of dealing with it:

  1. Rely on own past experience and drawing upon company-approved vendors
  2. Listening to word of mouth and experience of others
  3. Asking their existing vendors for advice
  4. Assessing the credibility of the potential vendor
  5. Checking out the vendor online, including on search engines
  6. Weighing price options

Keep in mind that there is the risk to the individual, other individuals involved in the purchase decision, and risk to the organization as a whole. It becomes complex very quickly when risks to the different buyers aren’t the same – and they rarely are. And while companies have ways of giving structure to buying, e.g. through RFQ processes, findings show that the important decisions on a personal level aren’t always necessarily rational. We depend on our own library of heuristic shortcuts to come to decisions which can be irrational. Gord Hotchkiss also talked about these shortcuts, and how they are based on existing belief structures in this post on Herbert Simon’s concept of bounded rationality.

While it may be difficult to market against irrational buying decisions, there is hope, especially if we understand how irrational behavior is linked to risk. Part of eliminating the risk gap includes going back to basic sales and marketing principles, identifying and developing a market before we sell to them. As marketers, it is vital that we understand the specific risk gaps associated with buying from our company, in our industry, and help the buyer bridge those more effectively.

The 60-minute webinar was recorded and is available on demand. In it, you’ll hear Gord Hotchkiss present the new research along with Mark McMaster (Google), Ben Hanna (Business.com), Jon Miller (Marketo), Matthias Blume (Covario) and Chris Golec (Demandbase). The B2B Expert Series of webinars is moderated by Bill Barnes.