Lead nurturing

Building relationships to qualify more leads

Have you been to a trade show lately? If so, you may have noticed that booth traffic is slower than in the past, and leads are down. With so many companies watching their bottom line, it is not surprising that they are sending fewer people to trade shows.

So, as a marketer, what are you doing differently with those valuable leads? If the answer is nothing, let me introduce you to the concept of lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with qualified prospects, regardless of their timing to buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready to buy.

After a trade show, many marketers will send information to those people who swiped their badge and/or requested additional information. On average, about 20% of these people will convert to qualified sales leads without much additional outreach. These are sometimes referred to as “fast leads.” But what about the “slow leads”—those that come in over the next 60-90 days? Research shows that without any further lead nurturing, about 6.67% of those will become qualified sales leads. However, with lead nurturing, 20% will turn into qualified sales leads. This is a 300%+ increase over the more traditional way (without lead nurturing).

Lead nurturing reduces the cost per lead, drives sales productivity and increases revenue more quickly.

How are you nurturing leads in your organization? Please share your experiences in the comments below. You can also contact me directly at kristine@millerbrooks.com.

[Source: Marketo, as shared at ExactTarget’s Connections 2011 user conference.]

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Looking at social media as data

Making measurement meaningful

You know the story: the resources have been invested, the content has been developed, you’ve listened, you’ve engaged… but now what? Is your approach working? Is the time investment paying off?

While social media has become a valuable part of the marketing mix for many of today’s companies, many recent studies show most measurement is ad hoc and scattered. Of those attempting to measure, few are doing it in a meaningful way.

The message was clear throughout the social media-focused sessions at ExactTarget’s Connections 2011: the next opportunity for marketers is to look at social content and conversations as data. Why is this important? Several reasons: competitive tracking, understanding your brand momentum, industry research, crisis communications, customer support and strategy evaluation, to name a few.

Think of each conversation as a number, then each post has a value. In the next few years, companies will—and need to—become more and more savvy about leveraging social media data. What can you start measuring today? Consider starting with brand mentions, sentiment, number of followers, retweets and replies. Marketers now have an opportunity to align and overlay data sets from multiple social channels with valuable sales metrics to determine if their investments in social media are paying off.

Are your investments paying off?

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Social media success: Southwest Airlines’ rapping flight attendant

Social media success: Southwest Airlines’ rapping flight attendant

Southwest Airlines, as a brand, has always fascinated me. When I think of the airline, the words “Bags Fly Free” first come to mind. I also think of the fun flight attendant who dressed as Elvis when I took a Southwest flight out of Nashville. I’ve never had a bad experience with Southwest, so I was excited to hear more about their social media strategy when they presented at the ExactTarget user conference, Connections 2011.

Southwest has no problem with their employees expressing their personalities through their job. One flight attendant took this to heart when he was tired of passengers not listening to his pre-flight announcement. He decided to rap the pre-flight announcement to switch things up. A passenger recorded the video and posted it on YouTube.

After hearing about this at Corporate, they decided to send a professional videographer to record the rapping flight attendant in action. The video was then posted on the Southwest Facebook page, shared on Twitter and featured on the Southwest corporate blog. The story was also pitched to national media outlets. The video of the rapping flight attendant soon went viral and spread through national media—it even got a mention from Oprah and an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. If you search “Rapping Flight Attendant” on YouTube, you will find pages of results with a handful of the videos logging over 200,000 views.

Southwest Airlines is successfully using social media channels to further establish the company culture at Southwest and demonstrate the value they put in their employees. How might you do the same?

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The power of nine quotes

Most memorable quotes from Connections 2011

One thing is for certain: A year or two ago, companies were struggling with the idea of how best to comfortably (that’s a key word) incorporate social media into their communications mix.

Now, the companies that are really succeeding have not only embraced social media, they’re realizing that in order to make it really work, they have to do two things: 1) make it a personal engagement and 2) trust and empower more of their employees to be the voices of their brand.

“The Power of One” was the theme of ExactTarget’s Connections 2011 user conference, and that very message was clear. According to Scott Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of ExactTarget, the Power of One explored “the power of an individual to change lives, the power of one business to change the world, and the power of cross-channel one-to-one marketing.”

Here is one powerful quote each from nine speakers who left me pondering long after their presentations concluded.

1. “Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.” – Robert Stephens, CTO of Best Buy. While it may seem counterintuitive for me—a person whose job is with an agency that recommends quite a lot of advertising for its clients— to like this quote, hear me out. This doesn’t necessarily mean that advertising should—or is going to—disappear. But the idea behind it, that each brand should strive to be unique, remarkable and engaging… that’s entirely on point. A lot of companies resort to advertising as a bit of a cop out, because they don’t want to put the effort into finding their true niche and being remarkable. But there will always be a place for advertising that communicates well and gets the word about a great brand into the hands of the people who need to know it.

2. “The B2B audience has the expectations of a B2C consumer.” – Mandy Lewis, Acquity Group. Many B2B marketers use their B2B status as an excuse not to implement an engaging web, social or mobile strategy. What this quote does perfectly is remind us that each customer, whether B2B or B2C, is a person. And people are using web, social and mobile means to engage with brands around the world both at and outside of work. They’ve personally begun expecting a smooth experience when it comes to making purchases online, finding the information on a website that they’re looking for, etc. B2B companies can no longer hide behind that extra ‘B.’ It’s time to step up and find creative ways to engage your customers.

3. “Cross-channel marketing: Think of it like a pinball machine instead of a bowling alley.” – Chris Baggott, Compendium. To some, “cross-channel marketing” may sound like “more messages, more work.” But cross-channel marketing should instead translate as, “I have this great message, now how can I make sure that I can effectively communicate it in more than one way?” Doing more planning at the start for how you’ll share your content at the end will make you more consistent and efficient. Not all content is appropriate for being a feature on your website, and not all content is worthy of a whitepaper. But all content worth sharing is blog-worthy. Start there. Make your blog your resource and repository of content, then it becomes a launch pad for sharing it in multiple channels.

4. “98% of people open their mail at the first opportunity.” – Stat from USPS, relayed by James Michelson, VDP Web. The USPS has found itself in the headlines recently with its budget woes, and we all know its volume has decreased with the massive amount of communication being conveyed online. But direct mail is still a channel that can be a great, proven tool in your marketing mix, especially when you utilize good-quality and enhanced data for personalization. The companies I heard from in this session have seen great success using direct mail to support their email marketing efforts in particular.

5. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – Tom Arrix, Facebook. This quote is hung throughout the halls of the Facebook offices. Try thinking about your possibilities in “What if…” statements instead of “We can’t because…”

6. “Mobile is the digital superglue.” – Brad Rencher, Adobe Systems, Inc. Mobile binds our offline and digital experiences—we’re in close physical proximity with our phones all day. Forrester expects that in the next five years, mobile marketing will grow by 38%—faster than both search and email. What does that mean for your customers, and how can your business best leverage mobile? It could be as simple as starting with a mobile-optimized version of your website, or it could be as involved as creating an app for each mobile operating system. Do the research with your customers, and figure out how it can work for you.

7. “Value your customers for their influence in addition to their spend.” – Matthew Thomson, Klout. It’s the same adage that is worth repeating endlessly: when people like something, they’ll tell others about it. Your biggest fans are your best evangelists, because people trust their friends’ recommendations more than marketing messages. Reach out to your customers in personal ways, and be sure to do some research into which ones are already shouting your name from the rooftop. They’re people you want to know, even if they aren’t your biggest spenders.

8. “Social media is a job today, but soon, it will be a skill.” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert. Remember when “typist” was a job title? We have social media managers today, but it won’t be long before this will be a skill that each person will be expected to have. Social media gives you a way to engage personally with your customer, and your company’s social media experts shouldn’t be siloed away in the marketing department.

And finally, a powerful quote that isn’t directly related to marketing, but certainly was memorable and puts life into perspective: “May all your boulders be blessings.” – Aron Ralston, inspiration for the film 127 Hours.


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Connections 2011: ExactTarget’s user conference wows again

Connections 2011

ExactTarget’s user conference wows again

Several MBers attended ExactTarget’s user conference Sept. 13-15, and they’ll each be sharing the key ideas they took with them from the event. Check back in the coming days and weeks for more insight!


Last week I had the privilege of attending ExactTarget‘s annual interactive marketing conference, Connections 2011. Overall, the conference was fun and very informative. ExactTarget does a great job putting the event together and carrying it through to the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything from the opening keynote speakers, to the breakout sessions and the closing day “marketing burst” sessions. I left with a few “aha” moments and lots of key takeaways from the event.

Can’t ignore it: mobile is growing. Quickly.

One of those key takeaways is just how fast mobile is growing. With smartphone sales outpacing desktop computer sales, it’s an audience or medium that everyone should pay more attention to. And it’s not just about reading email or keeping up with social media on the phone—it’s making purchases directly from the device, as well. Retail emails (those emails typically sharing a product and/or offer) see almost equal numbers of clicks from mobile users and from desktop users.

Measure and manage.

Another significant takeaway from the breakout sessions was the common theme, regardless of session topic, of data measurement and management. Nearly every presentation included a strong stance on finding out what you should measure and how you should measure it. One presenter even said, “If you don’t have the ability to measure it, why are you even doing it? Every time you begin something, you need to ask, ‘Why are we doing this, and how are we going to measure it?’”

And it’s not just measuring it—it’s measuring it correctly, using reliable data sources to gather and review the information that is important to you. With so many data sources today, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Finding the sources that will provide you the best information for what you are trying to track is key.

All in all, the event as a whole was great. Getting to hear people like Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) and Aron Ralston (inspiration for the film 127 Hours) speak and share their stories and passions was incredible. I find it pretty cool that ExactTarget can bring so many interactive marketing experts to one place. It doesn’t hurt that they’re just minutes away.


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