Tag Archives: business to business lead generation strategy

Everything you need to know about inbound marketing

Are you frustrated with outbound marketing? The calls, the mail, the threats, the tears …

Get mad, quit wasting your time and tears, and find a way to get the leads to come to you.

It’s all covered in “Oughta Know Inbound Marketing,” the latest creative video out of HubSpot. Whether you’re looking for an inbound marketing solution or are a big fan of Alanis Morissette, you’ll enjoy this video …

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Business holiday cards build customer loyalty

Building customer loyalty is on the top of most businesses’ to-do lists at any given time of the year, but with the current economic slowdown and the approaching holiday season it’s more important than ever.

Connecting with business contacts, customers and clients during the holiday season can help strengthen bonds and forge lasting relationships during times of economic uncertainty.

At the end of the year, business holiday cards are the most popular form of communication between businesses and customers, and customers enjoy and appreciate the connection, according to recent national research by Hallmark Business Expressions, the business-to-business subsidiary of Hallmark Cards Inc..

The findings of its 2008 national consumer attitude survey about holiday greeting cards revealed 78% of respondents receive holiday cards from businesses. Half of those recipients are more likely to do future business with a company that sends holiday greeting cards.

Sending business holiday cards helps create a positive company image and improves customer loyalty. Of survey participants who receive greeting cards, the majority appreciate the gesture and feel it shows the company truly cares about them.

“Nurturing relationships with your existing, loyal customers is cost-effective for businesses because those customers have shown a propensity for your brand. When the customer is considering his next purchase, the business that sent holiday greeting cards will likely benefit,” said Marc Wagenheim, product marketing director for Hallmark Business Expressions.

Business holiday cards can send a smile and a little laughter this holiday season when times may not be as easy as they were in the past. Lighthearted and funny greeting cards may be one way to get a chuckle out of stressed-out customers.

If you’re worried that a humorous holiday card could be viewed as unsympathetic or disrespectful, try looking for cards that are lighthearted, but with a humorous twist. Send a card with some holiday cheer, it may be just what your business contacts need this year.

B2B marketing and RSS, making the connection

An estimated 70% of B2B technology marketers are missing key opportunities to directly influence sales decision makers by not incorporating Really Simple Syndication (RSS) into their company’s online marketing strategy, according to a report from MarCom Ink.

B2Bs fail to connect with RSS

B2Bs fail to connect with RSS

RSS is a general term used to describe a group of web-based feeds used to publish frequently updated works including blog entries, news headlines, audio and video in a standardized format. Using an RSS reader, subscribers can stay up to date on timely events from their favorite websites.

After visiting 300 U.S. B2B technology-company websites, researchers found that about seven out of 10 are not using RSS. Researchers also found that while 30% of companies provide RSS, only 10% have multiple targeted feeds allowing subscribers to choose from a variety of topics.

These findings are important, Marcom Ink said, because while only 16% of the general public use RSS feeds, 71% of technology buyers find them valuable, according to a 2007 MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm survey of more than 3,000 B2B technology-sales decision makers.

“RSS offers B2B technology marketing and PR professionals a golden opportunity to establish ongoing relationships with their target audiences and become a trusted source of valuable information on topics buyers care about most,” said Kim Cornwall Malseed, principal, MarCom Ink.

While evidence specifically geared toward B2B training product and service marketers is still missing, this recent study examines a missed opportunity for many organizations. RSS feeds can be used to alert customers of product specials, new articles, upcoming events, best selling products and much more.

Along with informing customers of the latest company news, the added benefits of using RSS feeds include:

  • Increased traffic. Submit your RSS feed to places like Technorati, Google Blog Search and BlogCatalog (here are some more places to submit your RSS feed). Getting your RSS feed listed in RSS search engines and directories creates new ways for potential customers to discover your brand.
  • Free advertising. With little effort, you can deliver timely and valuable information to a wide audience of subscribers. Once your RSS feed is set up, subscribers receive regular news and product information that could help them in purchasing decisions.
  • Higher conversions. RSS product feeds allow customers to receive product information straight from the source. Customers are more inclined to buy products from familiar and trusted sources. RSS feeds keep your brand name at the top of the list when customers are ready to buy.
  • Customer loyalty. With the constant communication and information they deliver, RSS feeds can act as a customer relationship management tool to maintain customer loyalty and provide customers with valuable content.

How does your company use RSS to generate leads and improve site traffic?

BtoB study finds better results with quick forms

People are willing to answer a lot of questions as long as they can complete them quickly, according to the latest BtoB study by Silverpop. Their business-to-business research also found that once registered, people are anxious to hear from companies.

“Time is the difference between a lead and a lost contact,” according to Silverpop’s Benchmark Study of Lead Management Practice. The longer it takes for someone to answer a list of questions, the more likely they will abandon the questionnaire.

From MarketWatch:

“The forms that were able to be completed quickly — say within one to two minutes or less — were most likely to be finished, while those that took longer were more often abandoned mid-way through,” said Bryan Brown, director of product management and development for Silverpop’s BtoB Vtrenz solution. “The number of required fields appeared to have little impact on completion rate.”

He said that “update” forms populated with pre-existing data the company had already collected from sales leads were completed at a rate 20 to 25 percent higher than new-lead forms. Brown recommends that marketers create forms that are simple, clear and brief, with fields that can be completed without any hesitation.

Researchers suggest when acquiring new leads that companies approach the lead with “as few questions as possible.” Companies should also avoid open-ended questions by providing drop-down menus with defined choices, to help evaluate information.

Once companies gather initial information on a lead, then marketers should send forms with pre-populated fields along with additional questions to acquire more information. Any new lead that expresses immediate interest in product demo or a call from sales should be sent directly to the sales department.

“Customers who receive a sales call within hours of indicating they’re ready to talk will be much more impressed with your program than if they sit for days without a contact,” Brown said.

Better customer service in 10 minutes or less

Tip: Listen to what your customers are saying about you and respond.

“The best companies have someone that takes 5 or 10 minutes a day and works on reaching out to customers.”

Choose one person or a few people, doesn’t matter what department they’re from as long as they’re familiar with the company and have good writing skills, to reach out to customers daily. Just ten minutes can make a “huge” difference, according to Service Untitled.

Along with what they do on a daily basis, they should spend 10 minutes reading what customers are saying about the company on the web. Regularly check outlets where your company is talked about including blogs, Twitter and forums.

If customers are saying good things about your company, thank them. If they’re complaining, help them find a solution to what went wrong.

Zappos, online shoe retailer and customer service giant, encourages employees to join social media sites to connect with each other and customers. CEO Tony Hsieh started using Twitter as a way to build company culture, but quickly found it was also a great way to connect with customers.

“We want the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience. For Twitter, we don’t really view it as a marketing channel so much as a way to connect on a more personal level, whether it’s with our employees or our existing customers.”

It may sound like a bad late night infomercial, but 10 minutes is all it takes. Take 10 minutes everyday to connect with customers, improve loyalty and make your customers happy.

Monday marketing links: Social media, advertising and proper hygiene

Global Neighborhoods relays some geeky customer service advice and social media tips – “SM Global Report: Geeksquad Founder Robert Stevens

New study categorizing U.S. adults according to how they like to receive advertising messages – “How Consumers Prefer to Receive Advertising – a New Segmentation

Marketing Sherpa shares advice on how business-to-business vendors can reengage existing customers – “How to Use Networking Tactics to Generate New Business with Old Clients: 6 Tactics

BusinessWeek on how cell phones have changed the rules for 800 numbers – “Think Easy Number, Not Easy Phrase

Advice from BtoB Magazine on how to get “right now” responses to email campaigns –  “Ask the Expert: How to get immediate response to your e-mails

The MarketingProfs show you six ways to to scrub that list – “Email Hygiene: Six Ways to Polish Your List

Drip marketing: Everything’s coming up roses

Drip marketing – a marketing strategy using a series of messages delivered over a period of time to a group of opted-in leads.

Though it may be just another way to say ‘lead nurturing,’ drip marketing can add value to customer relationships and will return better results than your average ‘batch and blast’ marketing, according to Ardath Albee at Marketing Interactions.

After a contact accepts your request to email them (remember to follow CAN-SPAM), you then send messages, spaced out according to a predetermined amount of time. Using progressive emails, over time, you form a relationship with the customer. When the customer is comfortable with the relationship, they’ll be more inclined to buy.

“Drip marketing gives you the opportunity to create interactions that help both you and the lead get to know each other better. You provide information they want and they get it because they’re willing to give you more information about themselves with each response they make to your communications.”

Because most B2B sales cycles averaging longer than six months, a well designed drip marketing campaign will help you stay in touch with customers, build your credibility, gain customers’ trust and keep you ahead of the competition.

FYI – While it may sound like a new form of water torture, the term actually comes from a gardening technique called “drip irrigation,” using small amounts of water over long periods of time. The marketing technique comes from the “Law of 29,” the idea that a prospect will only become a customer after viewing a message at least 29 times.