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Today, buyers have widespread access to information through the web. As a result, interruptive “outbound” tactics are losing their effectiveness. In this new buyer-centric world, the best way to engage with prospects is on their terms. The “inbound” approach enables target buyers to find you organically, converting site visitors into revenue and aligning sales and marketing efforts.
Get Buyers to Find You
Since buyers use google to research, compare, and eventually purchase goods and services, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. The popularity and specificity of Inbound links determines your search ranking. In order to rank higher on the results page, it’s important to create quality content and participate in relevant social media discussions on a routine basis. In terms of SEO strategy, The Long Tail Theory describes how targeting long-tail keywords yield the best results. Targeting a small population of individuals looking for very specific topics will allow you to rank higher for the things that matter to your company (and your customers). Creating a content production team will help keep your posts smart and consistent across platforms. A good content production team will include a journalist (expert staff writer)or someone capable of delegating writing responsibility and editing content before publication. The best way to ensure that your posts provide real value to visitors is to form a “thought leadership committee” of knowledgeable employees who can be interviewed as subject experts on a weekly basis. When you have quality information, you can turn a one hour interview into multiple blog posts, ebooks, and social media messages.
Converting Inbound Interest into Revenue
In order to convert inbound interest into revenue, both marketing and sales play a key role.
Marketing’s role can be expressed in four practices:
- Do not pass all the leads to sales! Define what constitutes a quality lead & filter each new lead based on that standard criteria
- Avoid the lead scoring trap. Use the buyer’s journey and buyer personas to develop a buyer matrix and prioritize leads based on their lifecycle stage.
- Use the Buyer Matrix to determine when to pass leads to sales. Define the stage in which this handoff should happen for each persona, then measure the lead conversion success over time so adjustments can be made to improve success.
- Become a buyer matrix expert through microsegmentation. Adding another matrix to a row can help account for complex behaviors, such as having multiple “influencers” or industries for a single buyer persona.
Sales’ role in converting inbound interest into revenue can also be broken down into four practices.
- Scrap the elevator pitch and lead with context. Rather than sounding robotic and reading from a script, be educational, insightful, and personable.
- Call low, then call high. If the person you reach is not a decision maker, ask questions to develop more buyer-specific context. Then call “high” to the decision maker using this information to personalize the experience.
- Prioritize prospecting by level of engagement. customers that have interacted with content most recently should take priority over last touch
- Specialize sales by inbound vs outbound. Dedicate half your sales team to inbound leads and the other half to outbound leads. Think about having your top salesmen rotate inbound leads to help develop tactics that work best.
Aligning Sales & Marketing: The SMarketing SLA
Develop a sales and marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA) to establish concrete connection between departments. Account for different lead qualification levels by focusing less on raw numbers and more on their implied dollar value. Use the buyer matrix discussed earlier and:
- For each buyer state, calculate the average rate at which leads become customers
- For each segment, calculate the average purchase price for each customer generated from these classes of leads
- Multiply conversion rate by average purchasing price.
These numbers will allow marketing efforts to be tied to revenue rather than raw numbers.
A sales SLA will define strict parameters for an “effective” interaction with leads. Since timing is imperative, the SLA defines when to follow up with a new lead and the number of times a lead should be “touched.” Analyze each buyer persona by touches and profitability. Whichever call attempt volume yields the highest profit will establish the sales SLA standard call cadence. A daily dashboard helps ensure no leads fall through the cracks.
Create a graph displaying marketing’s “planned lead value generated” and compare it to the actual lead value generated. You can also draft a “Do Not Be On It” dashboard listing any salesperson in violation of your key SLA measures. Make sure to distribute these reports daily to hold both departments accountable.
At the End of the Day
Allowing buyers to find you results in less expenditure on cold call lists and other interruptive outbound tactics and positions you as a thought leader in your industry. Once established, marketing will usher leads down the funnel and pass them off to sales at the right moment, maximizing customer acquisition. If sales and marketing goals are both tied to revenue, the teams will operate like a well-oiled revenue machine.
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According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017, “marketers today find generating traffic and leads to be their biggest challenge”. There is already a multitude of tactics to implement for B2B SaaS companies to generate quality traffic and leads on their site. As this list grows, and as strategies change it becomes increasingly difficult for marketers to excel across the board.
So we decided to put together two posts detailing some of the key levers you can pull when increasing website traffic and lead generation are at the top of your priority list. Part 1 (which you are actively reading) covers the how to’s of increasing traffic because without it there is no lead generation. In Part 2 we’ll dive into the ways in which you can build a B2B website that converts those visitors and generate leads.
Start Blogging on a Regular Basis
A blog is a long-term marketing asset that will bring traffic and leads to your business. It introduces you as a thought leader in your industry and allows you to earn people’s trust. Marketing data clearly shows that blogging is a critical piece of the inbound marketing methodology and directly correlates to better business results. B2B companies that blog get 55% more visitors and 67% more leads than those who don’t. At New Breed, we were able to double our blog lead generation in 6 months.
That being said, blogging for the sake of blogging won’t dramatically transform your marketing. Your blog has to be well-optimized and promoted, and most of all, rich with content. The frequency of blogging plays an important role in this equation, too. Companies that blog 20 or more times in a month see the biggest return in increasing website traffic and leads.
Practice Search Engine Optimization
Aligning search engine optimization with your blogging and overall content marketing strategy is critical to being found on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. When creating impactful content for SEO, consider what long-tail keyword you want to target for on-page optimization. You can optimize the post around this keyword by incorporating it into your title tag, URL, meta description, anchor text, and page content. Once you have a fully optimized piece of content, make sure to use off-page SEO tactics to share it online, build links to your site, and increase your domain authority.
Expand Your Reach with Social Media
It was not that long ago when it used to be difficult, if not impossible, for companies to reach a wide target audience without paying for it. The game has changed in this regard with channels like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter enabling business to promote their content. Social media can be leveraged to attract both new and returning visitors to your site, and foster relationships by starting one on one conversations with customers and prospects online.
Invest in Paid Search
While SEO is the BEST way to rank at top of search engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo, paid search is the quicker and easier route.That being said, paid search should not be considered an alternative to SEO, rather it should complement your SEO efforts and fill in the gaps. Pay Per Click (PPC), or Cost Per Click (CPC) tools like AdWords, and BingAds give marketers the ability to control, test, and optimize the content that is displayed in search engine result pages while directing visitors towards relevant landing pages.
Use Retargeting to Bring Visitors Back to Your Site
If you have ever wished for a second chance to convert someone that visited your website, then remarketing is for you! Retargeting (sometimes referred to as remarketing) ads are those pesky images on the edge of your browser that have been following you around online from all of the websites you’ve visited in the past. While these ads may seem intrusive, they have proven to be highly effective. With retargeting, not only can you serve ads to people who visited your website, but you can create segments of people who visited specific pages, performed certain actions, or fit into particular demographics. For example, you could choose to target anyone between the ages 25 – 34 who visited your pricing page but did not convert.
Target Your Buyer Personas with Paid Social
The final piece of the paid advertising puzzle, paid social, is growing the fastest due to it’s potential to be the most targeted and effective channel. Social media is perpetually collecting data on its users which makes it more potent every day. This makes paid social an extremely valuable tool for segmenting and targeting potential customers. Marketers can use information on users’ ages, demographics, web histories, trends and location to essentially build their buyer persona and serve them highly relevant ads.
Host A Webinar for Thought Leadership
Most people would rather listen to a subject matter expert and ask them questions than read through a piece of content. Hosting a world-class webinar has all of the benefits of blogging in terms of thought leadership and trust, but they take it to the next level. They help you understand your target audience, create business relationships with potential customers, and cement your authority within the industry. Webinars can also be used an avenue to partner with other companies which can give you access to their customer database.
Tying it all Together
Increasing website traffic may never leave your priority list, but it doesn’t have to be a constant challenge. Marketers that invest their time into these strategies will be setting themselves up for success. Once implemented, the maintenance required to keep them running smoothly will become easier to manage over time. This will enable you to identify opportunities to make iterative improvements for continued optimization.