Report: Trade Shows Generate Highest Quantity & Quality of Leads

Marketing software research firm Software Advice have released their 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Report, a handy reference for anyone planning 2015 marketing spend. Based on responses from more than 200 BtoB marketing professionals, it provides useful insight on the types of demand gen programs and content that are trending in the marketplace. (You can access the complete report on the Software Advice blog – no registration required.)

demand generation effectivenessAs with any research report, however, it’s wise to look at the data, and the conclusions drawn from that information, with a critical eye. In this case, to their credit, the analysts at Software Advice are candid about their sample population (mostly large companies) and where their results align with, or depart from, other recent industry research. However, they also draw some fairly dramatic conclusions from the data that, in this view of this writer, don’t stand up to closer scrutiny.

The conclusion that most caught my eye is the one that titles this blog post. To quote the report, “Trade shows were most commonly cited as generating both the most and the best (leads) …” And indeed, the data supports that observation: 77 percent of respondents said that trade shows generated either “somewhat” or “very high” quantities of leads, and 82 percent said that trade shows generated leads of either “good” or “excellent” quality.

The report, however, goes further – ranking trade shows as far and away the most effective demand gen channel in their “BtoB Channel Effectiveness Quadrant,” surpassing (by some margin) even demand gen workhorses like email marketing and PPC. And here’s where I think that analysis goes astray: Read More »

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Email Campaign or Essay Question? You Decide.

The email campaign below from Integra, a regional provider of business voice and data solutions based in Vancouver, Washington, gets high marks for promoting content – in this case, a “buyer’s guide” – but on all other counts, the email reads like the opening to a term paper, not the hard-hitting, action-oriented lead generation campaign it should be.

Integra Email CampaignLet me count the ways in which this campaign went off the rails:

1. The header is one image, which means the majority of email readers (who turn images off by default) won’t even see the large Integra logo, the smiling man, or the quizzical headline.

Even if the headline were visible, there’s nothing here to suggest value, or what I’ll learn, or anything resembling a call to action. It’s only halfway down the page that I’m finally offered a reason to respond.

2. The opening paragraph (“If your business is like most Small and Midsized Businesses …”) falls victim to one of email marketing’s worst copywriting clichés – the “If You’re This, Then You’re That” method. At best, this tells me something I already know. So why should I care?

3. But wait, there’s more! I get two – count ‘em – two more paragraphs of meaningless drivel:

* “The adoption of cloud technologies is exploding …”
* “The growth in cloud usage opens up immense opportunities …”

Again, why on earth am I being told this? Remember, if you don’t grab the reader in the first two paragraphs, the game is lost. An effective B2B email immediately delivers the What (the offer), the Why (the key benefit), and the How (the call to action). This email does none of the above.

4. At least I’ll credit Integra for offering a buyer’s guide that purports to answer key questions facing SMBs who are evaluating cloud technology, but even the offer description falls flat. For one, it would have been much better presented in bulleted points that are scannable at a glance, not another long paragraph in an already stodgy email.

Secondly, the paragraph is all first person: “We’ll explain the advantages Ethernet delivers …” so it sounds like a sales pitch, versus second person: “You’ll read about the advantages Ethernet delivers …” which would imply information of value and the benefits of responding.

5. I like the way the call to action is presented (finally!) in both text and button form, but by then it’s too late. Most readers aren’t going to get past the first two paragraphs before they ask: “Why am I reading this?”

For a more detailed discussion of what mistakes to avoid in B2B email marketing, download our free white paper: “Top 10 B2B Email Marketing Mistakes.”

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What’s the Big Deal About Predictive Analytics? A Conversation with Brian Kardon

Brian Kardon is a respected marketing thought leader, a “Top 10 Global CMO,” and a seasoned executive with a 20-year track record of success. He previously held top marketing roles at Eloqua, Forrester Research, and Reed Business Information before taking the reins as CMO at Lattice Engines, a pioneer in predictive applications for marketing and sales. I caught up with Brian recently to pick his brain about the sudden wave of interest in All Things Predictive.

(HS) Brian, I was at Dreamforce in San Francisco earlier this month and it seemed like every other exhibitor was trumpeting “analytics”. Even Salesforce announced their own Analytics cloud. Why do you think analytics is suddenly such a hot topic?

Brian Kardon(BK) Several factors have come together to bring analytics to life. First, the era of big data is here with the volume and velocity growing exponentially. Social media has contributed greatly, certainly, but so has the overall increase in web traffic, digital transactions, video and apps. The sheer volume of these data presents an unprecedented opportunity for marketers. The second is about the technology. Advances in technology now allow us to cost-effectively capture, store, share, analyze and visualize these data – things like faster CPUs, cheaper memory, and massive parallel processing. Exploring big data with analytics is within the reach of more organizations than ever before.

The use of analytics in B2B marketing and sales is actually lagging other industries. We see it all around us. It is used in healthcare to determine which patients are at risk of developing certain conditions. It is used in fraud detection to predict which transactions are most likely to be fraudulent. Online retailers like Amazon and Netflix use it to make movie and book recommendations that are predicted to result in a purchase.

(HS) Lattice offers “advanced predictive analytics” for marketing and sales. To a layman, how would you describe the power of predictive analytics solutions?

Sales and marketing teams have to answer some pretty important questions every day. For example: Which of my prospects should I call first? Who is most likely to buy? Why? What else can I sell to my current customers? Which of my customers are likely to churn? For the most part, companies rely on instinct and, perhaps, lead scoring via marketing automation. Predictive analytics is different. It relies on data science to answer these questions by analyzing past “success events” and providing predictions based on a model. It is science, not guessing. And it is being used by organizations today. It is not some future thing. It is now. Read More »

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Research Report: Lead Gen Not as Easy as Marketers Think

I just returned from a few days at Dreamforce in San Francisco, the annual circus-slash-conference hosted by CRM leader Salesforce.com, and was struck by the wave of technologies on display that centered on analytics. Highlighted by the launch of Salesforce’s own analytics cloud, the current trend in marketing technology is clearly focused on helping marketers make smart decisions and build smarter campaigns.

Just look at the sudden influx of companies boasting so-called “predictive analytics” solutions – software that allows marketers to better score leads, acquire new names, target market sectors, and even refine message and content, based on highly sophisticated algorithms.

Ascend2 Lead Generation Strategy ResearchJust when did demand generation get this complicated?

In reality, however, things aren’t quite so convoluted. The simple act of generating leads – primarily through online means – has never been easier. However, the new wave of marketing technologies may be signaling a growing acknowledgment that simply “feeding the funnel” isn’t enough – marketers need to do a better job a) generating the right kind of leads, and b) increasing the rate at which all leads convert into opportunities and deals.

This sentiment was borne out in a recent survey on lead generation strategy conducted by Ascend2 Research. In results based on responses from more than 400 business leaders and marketing professionals, Ascend2 reported that marketers’ concerns about lead generation have veered away from lead volume and towards lead quality. Read More »

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Social PPC: 17 Tips for Successful Ads on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook

It seems only yesterday that “PPC advertising” was synonymous with Google AdWords. Google still dominates search advertising – at last count, it handles roughly two-thirds of all Web search queries, a market share that won’t be decreasing any time soon. Its top 25 US-based search advertisers alone spent more than $1.3 Billion with Google in 2013.

social media advertisingIncreasingly, however, B2B marketers have other options when it comes to investing pay-per-click dollars. Foremost amongst the competition are the big three social networks: Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, all of which, to varying degrees, rely on advertising to monetize their huge user bases. In our experience with high-tech clients, we’re seeing fairly consistent success advertising on LinkedIn, primarily due to the ability to target specific demographics, a feature that Google would do well to emulate. Twitter and even Facebook have shown more limited success, but both can be a good fit for certain B2B companies whose target markets align well with specific interests or keywords.

Ready to take the plunge into Social PPC? Here are 17 tips, techniques, insights and strategies for making the most of your paid social advertising dollars:

LinkedIn

1. Competition for ‘Sponsored Update’ campaigns is substantially greater vs. ‘LinkedIn Ad’ campaigns. In our experience, using the same targeting and bid settings for both, Ads will generate up to 5x more impressions compared to Updates. However, as “native advertising,” Sponsored Updates can also generate 5x the engagement rate (including likes and shares).

2. When posting a Sponsored Update, create a custom image, one that’s optimized for click-throughs, rather than just let LinkedIn pull an image from your post or article.

3. LinkedIn can be the most difficult (and expensive) social network on which to acquire a volume of impressions and clicks, largely due to its ability to target the optimal demographic and thus, the higher level of competition for those targets. However, it also drives much higher conversion rates (up to 7x, in our experience) compared to Twitter and Facebook. Read More »

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