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Top 10 "Insights From Analytics" Blog Posts of 2014

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Dec, 30, 2014 @ 10:12 AM

 

Following are the most read blog posts during 2014.

 

Thank you for reading and sharing with others you think would be interested.

 

Please let me know if I can assist you, or your firm, in any way.

 

  1. Top 10 U.S. Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for 2013

  2. The Importance of Face to Face Communications

Happy New Year, have a great 2015!

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, integrity, accelerate sales, net promoter score, NPS, face to face communications

Use Social Media to Outsell Your Peers

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 02, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

social selling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley, #socialselling), sales reps that use social media outsell 78% of their peers because they:

  1. Establish credibility with compelling social profiles -- including professional photographs, accomplishments and references.

  2. Build relevant networks of prospects and like minded individuals that help maintain top-of-mind awareness with prospects and channel partners.

  3. Promote thought leadership that captures attention, builds their personal brand and attracts inbound opportunities.

  4. Listen to customers and prospects to understand needs, priorities and topics of interest.

  5. Measure their social activity to understand what's working, what isn't and to refine their approach.

Given that sales are all about relationships, then social media is a great way to initiate and enhance relationships. 

 

 

Are the members of your sales team using social media to make their calls more efficient and successful?

 

Give me a call if you'd like some help teaching them how.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues


 

Tags: consumer insights, trust, VoC, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, connecting emotionally with customers, people do business with those they know like and t, customer relationship management, channel partners, Trustability

10 Benefits Manufacturers Receive from Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 30, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

content marketing for manufacturers

 

 

 

 

 

 

I introduced content marketing to Anua (formerly Bord na Mona Environmental Products, N.A.) when I was their director of operation and marketing.

 

The firm is the leading energy company in Ireland and provides wastewater, water reuse and odor and volatile organic compound control solutions to municipalities, industry, commercial developers and the residential market in the U.S.

 

We went to market via distributors and manufacturers' reps.

 

Since Bord na Mona has been in the business of providing wastewater solutions for more than 75 years, there was plenty of content to share with channel partners, as well as end-user prospects and customers.

 

By posting at least a couple of blog posts every week, we were able to:

 

  1. Build awarenesss of Anua and our wastewater, water reuse and odor and volatile organic compound control solutions.

  2. Build trust among our channel partners and end-user customers by sharing our knowledge of, and commitment to, wastewater, water reuse and odor and volatile organic compound control solutions.

  3. Provide a service by educating and answering partners' and clients' questions before they asked them, as well as answers to questions they had not yet considered.

  4. Become the thought-leader in the industry by addressing relevant topics of interest and answering questions in a responsive and transparent way.

  5. Doubled traffic to the new, rebranded website via inbound marketing.

  6. Generate leads from end user customers that we were able to forward to our distributors and manufacturers' reps resulting in our channel partners' perception that we had done more marketing in the last six months than in the first 12 years in the market.

  7. Begin a relationship, and have a dialogue, with prospects and personally introduce them to channel partners as well qualified leads.

  8. Nurture marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs) by continuing to provide information of value, answer questions and understand prospects' objections prior to engaging with them in person.

  9. Improve search engine optimization (organic SEO) by adding content, with keywords and metatags, to our website and links to relevant websites and channel partner sites.

  10. Accelerate sales by getting more leads and understanding where each prospect was in the buying process so our sales force and channel partners could pursue SQLs and marketing could nurture MQLs.

 

Are you a manufacturer or channel partner who has benefitted from content marketing?

 

What have you found to be the most successful content to share?

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: accelerate sales, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, content, trusted advisor, MQL, SQL

Listen Intensely, Solve the Problem, Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Sep, 12, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

Listen intensely to solve customer problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Jim Gould, the General Manager at my local Chipotle, for finally coming up with an excellent solution to an ongoing problem.

 

I've been eating at Chipotle every day for the past seven years.

 

For the last four or five years, I've been buying $50 gift cards rather than having so many entries on my credit card.

 

It was very rare for the magnetic stripe on a gift card to last the entire $50.

 

If the card was scanned too fast, the magnetic stripe was fried and the host would have to enter the number on the back of the card -- a time-consuming process for the host that also slowed the line during the lunch rush.

 

I'd raised this issue with a number of different people at Chipotle over the years. 

 

Last week Jim suggested I send myself an e-card, load it to my phone and then just load additional value to the same card.

 

Great solution to a nagging problem!

 

Now, I no longer have to carry a gift card. I'm able to use my iPhone to pay for my meals at Chipotle. And, I don't hold up the line.

 

Jim, thanks for listening to the problem and simplifying my life!

 

What can you do that will simplify life for your customers?

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customer satisfaction, accelerate sales, genuine interest, listen intensely

Accelerate Sales with Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 02, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

use social media to enhance customer engagement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use social media to build authentic engagement with customers and prospects throughout their customer lifecycle.

 

Open, transparent and honest conversations accelerate the customer lifecycle, as well as the sales cycle.

 

The more you know about your customers and prospects, the more you are able to help them by providing information of value that will simplify their lives.

 

The more you simplify their lives, the more loyal they will be, the more they will buy from you in the near-term and the greater lifetime value they'll have for your firm.

 

Strive to build relationships.

 

Facilitate conversations across all stages of the customer lifecycle. The person who is just considering your product or service for the very first time is very different than a previous customer or someone who has been researching for the past few months.

 

As an example, I’ve been evaluating marketing automation software for employers and clients for the past five years so I’m a fairly well-informed prospect; however, the features and benefits of the platforms change so frequently I need to get a demo every six months so I'm fully aware of what one platform offers versus another.

 

Know what your prospects know and then share with them what they need to know to make a well-informed decision.

 

Customer communities help build engagement and brand advocacy.

 

Prospective customers trust what other customers say about your product or service, twice as much as what the company says.

 

Empower your customers to speak to others on your behalf.

 

Encourage them to do so by providing "wow" customer experiences that they want to share with their friends, family and colleagues, as well as their social media followers.

 

You can drive engagement and activate revenue through persistent, discoverable and relevant conversations.

 

Make fleeting social interactions more persistent and long-term to build trust and credibility.

 

Relevant content drives conversion. Achieve this by prioritizing and contextually appropriate community topics.

 

Ask your customers and prospects what they want to know more about and then engage them.

 

Engagement = (Content + People) x Participation

 

Relevant answers to relevant questions accelerate revenue.

 

Know your customer's buying cycles.

 

Know what their questions are at each stage of the cycle.

 

Answer the question before they ask it.

 

You will earn their trust and make their lives simpler and easier.

Click Here to Download the Free e-book

Tags: trust, integrity, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, authenticity, listen intensely, social media

Top 10 Tips for Compelling Updates on LinkedIn to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 29, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Accelerate sales with LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Jamie Phan of LinkedIn for sharing LinkedIn Content Marketing Best Practices.

 

I’ve been a LinkedIn user for a number of years. I have used it to build brands, introduce new products and services and solve business problems.

 

Jamie’s 10 Tips for Compelling Updates are good for every marketer to remember whether their using LinkedIn, or some other social media platform, to promote their business.

 

  1. Think like a journalist. Don’t bury the lead. Have a concise title of 90 to 140 characters. They are more likely to result in higher engagement. Customize your headline for the audience you are targeting and for the social media channel you are using.
     
  2. Always include a clear call to action. What steps do you want the reader to take next? Share, call, respond with their thoughts or questions. Include links with a call to action. Updates with links typically result in double the engagement of updates with no links.
     
  3. Drive engagement with an image or rich media. Stand out with an eye-catching image or some or of rich media. An image can double engagement rates.
     
  4. Post YouTube/Vimeo videos to encourage sharing. Links to these videos play directly in the LinkedIn feed and typically result in a 75% higher share rate. SlideShare is also a great way to share information of value.
     
  5. Avoid hypertargeting. Don’t add so many targeting filters that you exclude potential audiences.
     
  6. Engage with members through comments. Keep the conversation going. Monitor discussions and remove inappropriate comments. Develop a plan to proactively handle any customer service issues that may surface. Be real, be responsive, be reliable, or be gone.
     
  7. Monitor, analyze and refine your content. Track all available analytics. Pay attention to the audience targeting types of content, time of day and frequency that drive the most interactions. A/B test headlines and images. Engagement rates do not drop on the weekends; however, traffic does.
     
  8. The more exclusive the information, the more interest you’ll generate. People like to get “inside information.” Your followers will appreciate sneak peeks inside your company, new products, new uses for products, even new office space. Make sure you give people things that are a bit special or exclusive. Let them see behind the curtain. They’ll develop a stronger emotional connection to your brand and your employees.
     
  9. Variety is key to making people hungry for more. Post one to two times a day to maximize organic reach and think about sharing a variety of images, links, video, SlideShare presentations, information or value, as well as commercial messages.
     
  10. Optimize your landing page for mobile and tablet engagement. More than 70% of sponsored update engagement comes from mobile devices. Don’t pay money to drive people to a bad browsing experience. You may never get them to visit you again.

What other suggestions do you have for creating compelling updates on LinkedIn?

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

 

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, accelerate sales, be relevant

ISO Opportunity to Use Analytics and Insights to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 22, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

use data to accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

In reading the latest edition of Direct Marketing News, I came across the following statistics:

  • 80% of CMOs cite a lack of in-house talent to implement an effective omnichannel strategy.
     
  • 85% of CMOs attempting to implement omnichannel marketing are challenged by lack of access to data and inadequate tools/technology.
     
  • 82% of CMOs say inability to measure cross-channel performance is interfering with implementing an effective strategy.
     
  • 75% of retailers rate omnichannel fulfillment “very important.”

 

During a recent webinar, an executive from Adobe noted the lack of experienced marketing professionals with: 1) business logic; 2) buying cycles; and, 3) marketing automation skills.

 

During a meeting with the Triangle AMA Marketing Automation Special Interest Group (SIG) this week, I met a young man who’s been in marketing for four years.

 

He expressed concern that the companies for which he has worked did nothing to help him understand how his email marketing, social media marketing and marketing automation were supposed to be integrated with the rest of the firms’ marketing efforts.

 

While these skills appear to be lacking in many companies, they are skills I have personally employed successfully for numerous clients.    

 

I have used analytics to solve business problems throughout my career.

 

I’ve been using, and evaluating, marketing automation software for the past five years.

 

I have ensured that traditional, digital and social media marketing were all integrated and communicating a consistent message to prospects and customers.

 

Are you and your firm using the data you have to create buyer personas, understand and map the buyer’s journey and create a sales and marketing process that will generate more awareness, traffic, leads and sales?

 

If not, give me a call. I can help.

 

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book

Tags: consumer insights, VoC, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, CRM, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, MQL, SQL, customer relationship management

Marketing Automation Accelerates Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Aug, 20, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

marketing automation accelerates sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just completed an evaluation of nine marketing automation platforms for a client.

 

Having been involved in marketing automation for the past five years, it's very interesting to see the evolution in the industry and the solutions.

 

You need to understand your business and marketing objectives to help determine which marketing automation platform is best for your business.

 

A company committed to increasing traffic, leads and sales via inbound marketing will need a very different platform than a sales-driven firm who wants to score leads and get them to sales reps for immediate pursuit.

 

Marketing automation is a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) that focuses on scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns.

 

It's important that your marketing automation platform is tightly integrated with your CRM since there will be an ongoing exchange of invaluable information between your CRM and your marketing automation platform.

 

The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been perfromed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible.

 

Ultimately, marketing automation enables marketers to align their marketing process with the customer's buying process by providing relevant information of value to the customer when and where they want it.

 

Marketing automation reduces repetitive tasks assosciated with the marketing process (e.g., automated thank you emails, confirmations and drip marketing campaigns).

 

There are two key tasks the software handles: customer segmentation and campaign management. This enhances relationship building, enables the customization of content, smarter engagement and provides predictive analytics.

 

Marketers use explicit data such as sex, age, geography, and product/service needs to divide and classify customers and segment them so they can deliver relevant, information of value.

 

Relevance improves trust and responsiveness.

 

Marketing automation software has become the best solution for developing and delivering relevant email marketing and sales campaigns that drive revenue.

 

A typical closed-loop marketing campaign powered by automation will include:

 

  1. Building targeted lists

  2. Creating information of value

  3. Executing marketing campaigns

  4. Measuring email and website behavior and activity

  5. Segmentation based on activity and lead scores. 

  6. Entering qualified leads into the CRM

  7. Nurturing Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) until they become Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

  8. Analyzing marketing and sales performance and refining the process

 

The benefits of marketing automation are significant as determined by Aberdeen Group:

 

  • Improves lead conversion by 107%

  • 40% greater average deal size

  • 20% higher team attainment of quota

  • 17% better forecast accuracy

 

There are additional benefits which will improve the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing efforts:

 

  • You will know more about your prospects and customers enabling you to deliver more relevant information in a more timely way.

  • You'll be able to know who is downloading information of value from your site and how they are interacting with your site.

  • You will be able to see how a visitor that clicked on a link in an email or newsletter progressed through you site to buy something completely different than what your communication was discussing, thereby providing greater insight into the buyer's journey.

  • You will have the opportunity to more fully engage customers and prospects by asking them about their experience and then using their feedback to improve their future experience. 
I have identified five keys necessary to successfully implement a marketing automation platform:
  1. Create buyer personas -- think about who you are talking to as people rather than demographics. Look at everything you do and communicate from the perspective of the customer or prospect. Consult internal stakeholders. Review CRM, survey, web and social media data. Interview real buyers.

  2. Map the buyer's journey -- know how customers come to find and buy your product or service. Talk to your customers to verify that you know their buying journey -- don't assume you already know it.

  3. Map, and track lead flow -- know how many leads you need to convert to a marketing qualified lead, to a sales qualified lead, to a closed sale to achieve your goals.

  4. Create a process map/workflow of your marketing process. This needs to align with the buyer's journey and consider serving the customer after the sale as well. 

  5. Inform rather than sell -- educate, provide information of value, answer questions before they are asked, simplify lives. As Guy Kawasaki says, "The internet rewards those who share information and penalizes those who hoard it." 
Once implementation is complete and you are realizing the value marketing automation can provide, test everything. 
Virtually every marketing automation platform enables A/B testing, so test subject lines, from lines, days, times, images and channels to constantly refine and improve your marketing efforts.
Use the analytics from your marketing automation to evaluate hypotheses and predict future behavior that will enable you to generate more leads, accelerate the sales process and realize more revenue, more quickly.
Are you using marketing automation to accelerate sales?
Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: accelerate sales, CRM, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, MQL, SQL

3-Step Process to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Aug, 18, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

process to accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just saw a report from Pursway that says 77% of marketers are under pressure to make better use of existing marketing and CRM data?

 

I wonder how many of these companies have a valid, written, well-defined marketing and sales process in place?

 

Following is a three-step process you may want to consider:

 

  1. Generate more leads.
     
  2. Optimize lead flow.
     
  3. Close more deals.

You can plan and execute marketing campaigns that generate demand by doing the following:

  • Capture all leads from all channels: website, search, email, online ads, social ads, social channels, partners, blog posts, events, tradeshows and P.R.

  • Website visitors from organic search, paid search and email response.

  • Web forms from "contact us," free trials, event registration, content download, offers.

  • Inbound calls from yellow pages, search engines, Google maps and word-of-mouth referrals.

  • New leads from organic search, paid search and those captured in your CRM.

  • Use marketing automation to: capture leads and respond automatically; score leads by geography, opportunity size and product of interest; and, assign by lead score, geography and buying stage.

 

Optimize lead flow by creating a closed-loop follow-up process for all leads establishing a lead qualification process to differentiate marketing qualified leads (MQLs) from sales qualified leads (SQLs) and ensure sales reps use the same methodology, as follows:

 

  • Track open leads and set up different views to manage leads by type, size, MQL/SQL, geography, etc.

  • Ensure that all leads are deduped and properly formatted before going into the CRM since this is the source of your 360-degree view of the prospect, and ultimately, the customer.

  • Work the leads with a series of predefined touches. This can be automated with marketing automation software.

  • Establish contact with the prospect keeping track of all touches whether it's lead nurturing MQLs or sales calls on SQLs.

  • Qualify all leads by learning their current situation, their product or service of interest, their timeframe for decision/purchase and whether or not they are a decision maker, influencer or researcher. This is information will help determine whether a lead is an MQL or an SQL.

 

To close more deals, faster, have a single CRM for tracking a prospect's status, deal information, key opportunity milestones and recording all interactions.

 

Analyze the sales pipeline to identify and eliminate bottlenecks by tracking:

 

  • Open opportunities prioritized by lead score.

  • Initial presentation by sales.

  • Objections and questions.

  • Additional presentation(s) by sales.

  • Proposal

  • Negotiation

  • Won/Loss

  • New customer on-boarding process with sales, support and marketing.

 

Keep measuring, testing and discussing what's working and what isn't and refine the process as you get smarter about what does and does not work.

 

KPIs at each step might look like:

  1. Generate more leads = campaign ROI, top search terms, leads by source, lead quality as defined by score

  2. Optimize lead flow = leads by geography, lead conversion percentage, leads converted by month and top-performing sales reps.

  3. Close more deals = top 10 deals each month, month-to-date trends, closed business by month/quarter or year and top-performing sales reps. 

 

Do you have a valid, well-defined, written sales process that works well for your firm?

 

What steps are we missing and how can this be improved upon? 

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: accelerate sales, CRM, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, MQL, SQL

9 Ways to Generate More Leads and Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Aug, 13, 2014 @ 15:08 PM

generate more leads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every busy owner I talk to wants to generate more leads.

 

Most of them are hiring more sales people or asking their sales people to make more cold calls.

 

B2B nor B2C prospects want to be cold called and are likely to screen calls with voicemail.

 

Here are nine ways I've found to generate more awareness, traffic, leads and sales, without making cold calls:

 

  1. Provide information of value via a blog.

    Become a trusted source of information and you will earn the trust of the prospect so they'll call you when they're ready to buy your product or service.
    The more you blog, the more traffic you'll generate and your SEO will improve.

    I've found that blogging at least two times a week will double web traffic and leads in less than six months.
     
  2. Answer your prospects' questions before they're asked.

    I'm asked what to write blog posts about. Start by answering every question you've ever received from a prospect openly and honestly.

    Odds are your current prospects have the same questions your current customers had before they hired you.

  3. Respond quickly.

    Responding to a question or inquiry within five minutes gives you a 100 times greater chance of turning the inquiry into a lead than if you wait 30 minutes.

    Why? Because the person who made the inquiry is still thinking about your product or service and is still online or by their phone.

  4. Be where your prospects are looking for information.

    Odds are your prospects begin their search with Google. How are you performing with regards to long-tail key words?

    This is another reason why writing blog posts are so important. The topics you're writing about are the same questions your prospects are asking. Therefore, if you have a blog post that answers their question, you're more likely to show up higher on Google -- and every other search engine.

  5. Ask for referrals and testimonials from your current customers.

    Word of mouth continues to be the most effective and efficient form of marketing. It has become moreso with the advent of the Internet and social media.

    When I was the director of operations for a company in a town where I did not live, I found our phone supplier and our multi-function copier supplier by asking local business professionals in a LinkedIn group.

    Would your customers recommend you if asked?

  6. Ask your current customers how they found you.

    It'll give you ideas on where you need to be and what topics you need to address.

  7. Map your customers' journey.

    Understand the process by which customers are researching and making decisions today. Based on a number of studies, more than 60% of the buying process is complete before a prospect ever speaks to a sales person or visits your place of business.

  8. Take the opportunity to speak to groups.

    Look for opportunities to provide information of value in your community or industry. Don't sell, answer the most common questions people have to build awareness and trust of yourself and your business. 

    Coach your salespeople to do the same and ensure everyone is delivering a consistent message.

  9. Get published.

    Even in the age of the internet and social media, Public Relations is still a great way to get your story out to your prospects. Vertical trade publications are huungry for content and frequently that content is printed and put online.

    When I was the director of marketing for a manufacturing company, we had a case study published in a vertical trade publication and our phone was ringing off the hook the day the magazine was delivered.
     

Remember, every piece of content you develop can be used multiple times.

 

The more information of value your share, the more questions you answer without being asked, the more awareness, traffic, leads and sales you'll generate.

 

Update, SiteOScope has some more ideas to share with you.


What other ways have you found to generate leads without forcing your sales force to make cold calls? 

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: trust, information of value, accelerate sales, referrals, content