Case Study: Segmentation, New Creative Boosts Lead Conversion Rates by 75%

Sungard® Availability Services™ (Sungard AS) in Wayne, Pennsylvania is a global leader in disaster recovery, business continuity, and managed IT services. Sungard AS runs a highly successful demand generation program, an integrated mix of both online and offline campaigns, to generate a consistent flow of leads to the company’s sales force.

lead conversion ratesAs a company that rigorously tracks and measures the ROI from its various marketing efforts, Sungard AS knew that increasing the revenue contribution from demand generation meant either a) driving more leads into the top of the funnel, and/or b) increasing the rate at which those leads convert into sales. In support of the company’s aggressive growth plans, the marketing team set out to focus energy on increasing the rate at which raw inquiries converted to qualified sales leads, opportunities and deals.

In early 2014, Sungard AS hired B2B demand generation agency Spear Marketing Group to audit their current lead nurturing programs and to recommend improvements, with two main objectives:

• Increase the rate at which new leads and existing prospects convert to Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
• Improve deliverability and overall email performance as measured by open and click rates

Spear conducted a thorough audit of the company’s lead nurturing process, and presented a series of recommendations, focused primarily on segmentation, offer strategy, email cadence, and creative. “Sungard AS had solid creative in place and a very sophisticated nurturing program,” says Howard Sewell, Spear President. “Our job was to build on that foundation and identify opportunities for improvement. We were able to provide new ideas based on our pool of experience and what we knew was working for other companies in the tech space.” Read More »

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Sorry, But “How Many Touches Does it Take to Make a Sale?” is No Longer a Valid Question

On a recent conference call with a prospective client, the Vice President of Sales chimed in with a question:

“How many touches do you think it takes before someone becomes a lead?”

Rule of SevenIn the most diplomatic tone I could muster, I responded by stating that I didn’t think there was any correct answer to his question, and moreover, the question itself assumes a sales model that is not only long extinct, but runs completely counter to today’s modern B2B buyer behavior.

In fairness to my VP friend, he won’t be the last to ask the question (or its close cousin, “How many touches does it take to make a sale?”) What’s more surprising is that this outdated philosophy continues to merit serious discussion amongst B2B marketers and opinion-makers. A quick Web search yields dozens of blog posts and articles on the topic, many quoting the same source, a Doctor Jeffrey Lant and his “Rule of Seven,” a rule that states:

“You must contact your buyers a minimum of seven times in an 18-month period for them to remember you.”

Now, there may have been a time when the good Doctor’s rule held true, but in today’s Internet-driven world of content-centric marketing, the notion that ANY number of persistent touches is the formula to sales or marketing success is naïve at best. Read More »

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Infographic: 29 Tips to Improve B2B Email Campaign Performance

An email campaign that fails to perform up to expectations could be failing on any number of fronts. The list could be bad (in which case, no attempted “fix” of the email itself will make that much of a difference.) The offer could be uninspiring, or buried deep in the email, or both. Or the campaign could be suffering from a myriad of issues relating to design, copy structure, and deliverability. Without systematic testing, sometimes it’s tough to know precisely what causes one campaign to succeed and another to fail miserably.

Fortunately, your odds of email success just improved significantly. Check out the infographic below to discover 29 proven tips, techniques, and strategies for better B2B email performance, adapted from this earlier post. Click on the infographic to view full size. Read More »

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Is Marketing Automation Right for Every Company?

For those of us who work in and around the technology every day, it can seem like marketing automation is already pervasive. Industry data tells us something different. Analyst David Raab reports that for companies under $5 Million in revenue, marketing automation penetration is a miserly 5 percent. Even at mid-size companies ($20 Million – $500 Million), the figure is only 10 percent.

That might suggest that the adoption rate for marketing automation is lagging, but revenues for the leading companies are climbing at a torrid 50-60 percent per year. Even then, however, the vast majority of B2B marketers have yet to take the plunge. Which begs the question: is marketing automation right for every company? Is the untapped market opportunity as large as the data would suggest, or are some companies simply not a match for marketing automation, and never will be?

marketing automation decisionEarlier this month, I was interviewed by James Obermayer of the Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA) as we discussed how companies can decide when marketing automation is a fit for their organization, and how best to get started.

That interview is now available as a free podcast. In a lively 30-minute discussion, Jim and I discuss:

• the key criteria that make a company an ideal fit for marketing automation …
• where companies fall short with marketing automation and the pitfalls to avoid …
• what resources a company needs to be successful …
• how best to choose a marketing automation solution …

In our experience, even the smallest companies can generate real, measurable ROI from marketing automation. However, specific factors make certain companies better candidates than others. Some of those factors (as I discuss in the interview) include: Read More »

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10 Tips for a Successful Trade Show Follow-up Campaign

Research has long suggested that the majority of leads generated by trade shows never receive follow-up by company representatives. A 2010 study concluded that fewer than 70 percent of exhibitors have any formalized plan or process in place for how leads are followed up after the show. In an era of automated lead nurturing, the situation may be improving somewhat, but simply having the technology with which to blast every trade show lead the same, tired email message instantly upon your return to the office doesn’t mean you should.

trade show leadsHere are 10 tips for designing an effective trade show follow-up campaign. Note: these strategies assume that hot leads – those prospects who specifically requested follow-up or were otherwise graded as “high priority” on the show floor, get prompt response directly from sales. A follow-up campaign is one designed to address the other 90 percent of show leads, including show attendees who never made it to your booth, and to ensure that no other potentially qualified leads fall through the cracks.

1. Prompt response to show leads is critical. Have the campaign designed and ready to launch so that response emails can go out immediately upon leads entering the system. A prompt, professional, tailored response is a great way to make your company stand out from the competition who may take days or weeks to respond.

2. Most trade show leads are routinely ignored by sales. The best use of a follow-up campaign is to qualify leads by offering a range of options for further engagement. Any response (e.g. a white paper download, a demo request) can help uncover hot leads that might otherwise be missed, or at the very least can help sales prioritize which leads merit being called first.

3. Using the same follow-up email to every show is the surest way to get your message ignored. Be sure to always identify the specific show, by name, in the subject line and in the first paragraph, at minimum. Read More »

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