Thursday, August 30, 2012

Use Triggers to Avoid Sales and Marketing Traffic Jams

Picture this: you are headed to your in-laws house to celebrate the last few day of summer; you can already taste the BBQ and the cold beer.  The future looks bright.

You know the highlighted route to your in-laws, you have been there hundreds of times, but what you don’t know is that Labor Day weekend traffic is in full force and the route you thought you were going to take is a parking lot.  The taste of a cold refreshing beer is drifting further and further away as you are in a dead stop on i90.

Don’t you wish you had paid the extra few bucks a month for the traffic function on your navigator? You would have received a heads up to what would be the best route to go and avoid the headache of a standstill.

Sales and Marketing are not that different. We look at road maps to decide how best to lead score and what nurture methodology we should use depending on our leads phase in the funnel or pipeline.  The problem is that often times we do not have the COMPLETE picture of our lead in the buying cycle.  Sure, we know revenue, company size, location and other static data.  We also now know a lead’s behavior as it relates to our site, but what is often missing is the event triggers that happen day-to-day that might impact if that lead is actually in a position to buy or not buy. Static data only gets you so far, but without the up-to-date triggers you could find yourself in a dead stop on i90, not realizing that you pursued the wrong route, simply based on static information.

Looking for a more complete picture to help avoid the parking lot scenario? If Wellpoint’s stock just went up because the CEO resigned, that might influence your next actions.  If Barclays just announced Jenkins as their new CEO to replace Diamond that might prompt an email or a phone call. Here are a few actions that could happen based on knowing this new and timely information:

Marketing Team: Do you add Jenkins to a new executive series webinar invite? Or add him to a C-suite list segment to receive emails?

Sales Representative: Do you pick up the phone to congratulate Jenkins and introduce how you can help him achieve his goals in his new job?

Sales Management: Do you change the probability in your forecast, as this deal may be in jeopardy now that there is a new decision maker?  This may prompt you to call the sales rep to get a meeting with Jenkins, the new CEO.

The point is that we function in a world where alerts can change our course at any minute.  It behooves us to realize the potential of live data in helping to dictate our next move as a salesperson or a marketing person.  Together, these departments have the goal of closing business; so use a tool that can facilitate that action - faster.  Add triggers into your sales and marketing processes and complete the crucial missing information that could turn wasted efforts going down dead ends to closed deals. Can you taste the beer, now?

To well informed and safe, traffic-free travels – Happy Labor Day from the folks at iLantern!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

What do Brand Journalists, Storytelling and Triggers Have in Common?

Like most of you I spend A LOT of time reading blogs! I subscribe to my favorite marketing and sales blogs, and I learn something every day from any one of them. The multitude of ideas always gets me thinking about how I can improve our brand at iLantern.

I checked into one of my favorites, “It’s All About Revenue” from Eloqua.  There was a recent post about the best B2B storytellers. Looking deeper into the blog much of what these companies are doing is curating news and content for their audience. A light bulb went off.  The goal of curation is to take masses of information and pull out that which is relevant, pertinent, and significant for your audience.

This is easier said than done.

We can have RSS feeds, but can we hone in on that data that we are looking for – the data that reveals crucial moments about the companies and people we need to know about to preform our jobs at the highest level?  If we can hone in on the timely data, then we will be able to tell better corporate stories as brand journalists, marketers and sales people.  Using technology to hone in on the right data makes for better messaging, better campaigns, better microsites, and better phone calls. A curated version of data based on timely events helps create a story that is worth returning to and sharing via all the social outlets that are available. 

Brand Journalists are responsible for telling the story of the brand, but without the fancy marketing title.  What is a journalist-but a writer who knows news and knows how to tell a compelling story? Journalists spend lots of time researching, discovering, and innovating a unique voice that others will feel not only feel an affinity to, but also finish the piece more informed about whatever topic is presented.  A brand journalist simply has a more direct focus to educate leads and clients through effective storytelling. Brand journalists don’t even, necessarily, have to be specific about the brand as Cisco points out, but make no mistake they are advocates of the brand and their focus is to captivate leads and clients with stories that matter for them.

Brand Journalists face information overload like the rest of us.
Information overload isn’t just a buzzword, but a real problem.   Enter triggers.  Event data helps with the research and the composition of the story.  For example, Apple and Samsung are in a heated legal battle.  Do your leads and customers care about litigation?  They might.  And it might be worth you adding that into the fabric of a brand’s story.  Or it could be a million other types of triggers that your leads and clients care about.  Not to get too fancy, but segments might care about different things.  You might have brand journalists who create stories for all your different sectors and segments.  The possibilities are virtually endless. 

GI Joe said “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” (This might be dating myself, I admit.) I would add that it isn’t just “knowing”, but culling out the data that makes sense to share, as part of your brand’s story, is way more than half the battle; you’ve virtually won!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In the Year 2000: Predictions for the Future of Marketing and Sales.

Do you remember the bit with Conan O’Brian and Andy Richter where they used to do, “In the year 2000” and make predictions about what the future brings?  We are more than half way through the year 2012 and there are some predictions we would like to make:

Technology will help bridge the gap between sales and marketing
The future of technology will help to bridge the gap between these two divisions of a company.  Why? Because by using technology, sales will no longer wonder if it is truly a qualified lead, but there will be all the data to back it up. 

Mobile devices are going to make the sales and marketing cycles shorter
Mobile devices are only improving. Our ability to have all the data we need at our finger tips will help close the sales cycles sooner. We are never out of touch.  We can see the figures any moment of the day and act on it with a phone call or a simple swipe on a touch screen.

Lead scoring will become more complete because temporal event data will be part of the algorithm. Instead of only relying on firmographic data or behavioral data, temporal event data will help score that lead with another level of detail to help create more conversations and introductions to your leads and prospects.
* This will also help define terms for sales and marketing.

Email marketing will continue to be an important marketing strategy, but…
We will need to make sure that we send relevant, timely messaging with clear CTAs.  With a shorter attention span, we will need to get to the point even quicker, especially as most will be reading from their insanely smart phone.  This means sending an email that someone will care about.  Hint Hint – use event data to stay tuned into what that “someone” will care about.

With all this automation, we will still need human connection.
We can and will automate just about everything.  This will help with research, strategy, analytics, planning, but execution will still remain a person-to-person job.  Marketing and sales will always benefit from the human interaction.  Remember the tools are there to help, not to replace your gregarious selves.  Everyone still wants connection in both, a sales and marketing cycle, to help build the foundation of trust that will ultimately move your prospects to leads, your leads to customers, and your customers to repeat customers.

Do you have any predictions?

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Add Another Tool in Your Marketing Automation and CRM Shed?

A blog post came out recently by Hubspot that peeked my interest, as most of Hubspot’s posts do, but this one particularly tuned into some things that we have been thinking about at iLantern: why marketers need to rely on many tools in their shed in order to accurately score leads and move them through the funnel. We agree you can’t set your marketing automation to autopilot and just hope for the best.

Segmentation and Lead Scoring Can Do Wonders to Your Lists

The last of the points in Hubspot’s post speak about proper segmentation and an overall marketing strategy that is more than just a blanket strategy. One size does not fit all. Segmentation is key in lead scoring.  Most companies now segment without using all the tools in their shed.  This means that simply meeting the firmographic criteria is not enough for segmentation.  This also means that tracked behavior is one component, but not the end all and be all.  One extra tool is to track event data about that company through both, your CRM and your marketing automation.  Think of it as a little boost to keep you up-to-date and provide that little extra knowledge that might change Joe Lead from A3 to C2 or vice versa, in your nurturing campaigns.

Examples Go A Long Way
Joe Lead begins in A3 in your matrix based on the below firmographic stats:
-Joe’s company is located in North East
-Joe’s company has revenue over 25 million
-Joe’s company has over 200 employees
-Joe Lead is the Managing Director and a key decision maker

Behavior stats:
-Joe Lead has downloaded a whitepaper
-Joe Lead follows your Twitter account and has re-tweeted 2x
-Joe Lead has never attended a webinar that you have offered

So how do you get Joe Lead to go from A3 to A1?  Mr. Lead needs a little more nurturing before he is passed to sales for phone follow up. But, he isn’t far from that A1 position.

Triggers/ Temporal Event Data
You need to know temporal event data, what some in the biz call, triggers, that let you know that Mr. Lead’s company just delivered their Q2 earnings, and by the looks of it they far exceeded their goals.  I bet Mr. Leads is feeling pret-tay pret-tay good.

And now you know he has the budget for your product and it probably more willing to start a conversation with you. Why not send him a congratulatory email on his good earnings? Or send an email campaign offering a webinar that may relate to increasing revenue through social media?  Or maybe, he needs a promotion offer that might help convert him to A1 status. 

The Point
The point is that we all need nurturing and we all require relevancy otherwise we hit DELETE very quickly.  With triggers you can decipher what kind of campaign you need to send based on external events as well as firmographic and behavior data.  Why not add the extra oomph to get your message heard, and in turn, put your name on the finals list?  We say: Know, Act, Close.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lead Scoring - Who Deserves Gold, Silver or Bronze?

It is hard not to celebrate the recent wins at the summer games: USAs gold in Team Women’s Gymnastics and USAs dominance in swimming. But, this got us thinking about score determination for some of the events.

There are those sports that require judging and those that are determined by points, goals and computer generated touch points in a swimming pool.  Yes, all of these sports require a judge of some kind, but there are some that are more subjective.  Take gymnastics, for example: there are strict criteria for deductions, however; there is some room for interpretation that determines who will be the ultimate winner.  Who, in the judge’s eyes, wobbled ever so slightly when landing their dismount, or who showed slightly more grace in their floor routine?  On the other hand, in a game like soccer, it is obvious when someone scores a goal.  There is much less room for interpretation.

Back on this side of the pond, we are always thinking about lead scoring. What does lead scoring really mean? When do leads get a gold, silver or bronze? At what point do you send messaging, make phone calls, close deals; where do these leads reside in the funnel, and what should be your next moves? What information is your matrix based on?  Traditionally, firmographic data has helped determine lead scores; this information is fairly static i.e. company size, geography, etc., but a piece of the puzzle is missing: EVENT DATA – M&A, executive change, earnings, bankruptcy, wins, new alliances, new products, etc.

Most companies haven’t spent enough time analyzing the external temporal event data to add another layer of granularity to their lead scoring systems, making it even more accurate to forecast; close deals sooner; creating more revenue, faster.

Digital behavior simply piggybacks on all of this other important data to truly qualify the lead and place them in the correct tier in the funnel.  Do they need more nurturing? Are they ready for a phone call?  Do they need a demo?  With accurate event data, honing in on the right leads becomes that much easier to determine what your next action should be in your sales and marketing cycles.

Let’s return to gymnastics.  That wobble on the dismount can change the nature of the score and determine if they will medal or not.  Similarly, knowing that company x just released record earnings for Q2 can help to qualify that lead and determine the probability of their propensity to buy your product.  With good earnings above their projections they just stuck a dismount, hands held high. Company x just moved into medal contention.

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