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October 29, 2007

Lead Quality and the Human Touch

Lead quality is becoming increasingly important as technological advances are moving the IT marketing industry toward automated lead scoring, reporting and nurturing systems. Because of this push towards automation, technology sellers need to be assured that leads entering their sales pipeline are of the highest-quality possible.

Understanding what makes a quality lead (or an "A" lead) is key to running a successful lead generation campaign. Here's how we provide quality leads at the Web Buyer's Guide:

1. We have a pre-registered database full of IT-interested leads who are subscribers to one or more of the Ziff Davis Enterprise Web sites.

2. When promoting campaigns, we target leads according to their self-selected interests, and we provide a variety of content to match our leads' needs at each stage in the buying process.

3. Once a user has expressed interest in a topic and their lead data has been captured, our lead generation team hand-scrubs our lead files to remove false, misleading or junk prospects.

This final step - of hand-scrubbing leads - cannot be understated. Even with automated CRM systems and databases, it's crucial that someone screens your leads before they get delivered. After all, it still takes human intervention to recognize the difference between Mickey Mouse and Mickey Smith.


October 23, 2007

Content Strategies as Campaign Starting Points

When planning a lead generation campaign, try to conceive a content strategy before you launch your program, and use it as an outline for your entire campaign. In determining a content strategy, you need to ask the following:

1. Where do you plan to use your content?
2. What kind of content do you want to use in your campaign?
3. How do you plan on delivering your content?
4. Who is your audience?
5. How long do you need to provide content?
6. Do you have primary verses secondary content to provide via lead nurturing or follow-up?
7. Do you plan on offering content that leads will respond to differently as they travel though the buying process?
8. What kind of story are you trying to tell via your content offerings?

If you look at content as a means of not only generating a lead, but also as a true research tool for the user, you allow the users' needs to enter your campaign planning. By paying attention to your prospects' experiences with your content, instead of focusing solely on your offers, you acknowledge the role of the consumer in your business, and are inherently more focused on what you can do for your leads rather than on what your leads can do for you.


October 17, 2007

RSS Feeds 101

RSS (Real Simple Syndication) Feeds are user-directed content delivery tools that offer marketing departments a way to personalize content and give their customers exactly what they want. While both interactive and user-directed marketing tools, such as corporate blogs (with user feedback) and podcasts (which allow users playback at their convenience), are gaining momentum in the world of IT marketing, RSS Feeds are underutilized among IT marketers.

In Advertising Age’s Interactive Marketing and Media, it was discovered that:

RSS is currently used or is planned to be used within the next 12 months by 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% media and communications marketers, 37% retail marketers, 37% financial services marketers and 38% equipment and tech marketers.

So what exactly do you need to know when thinking about setting up RSS Feeds on your site? Let’s take a look at the basics…

1. Incorporate RSS Feeds into your overall Internet marketing campaign. One of the greatest advantages of RSS Feeds is that you can syndicate all different kinds of digital content. When planning your online marketing campaign, remember that any video, podcasts, blogs or white papers you produce can be syndicated. The use of RSS Feeds is a powerful way to brand your company by reinforcing your message with online digital content that users might otherwise bypass.

2. Treat the entire process of adding RSS Feeds to your site as you would treat adding any content to your site. Research RSS Aggregators, craft a careful registration process in order to capture the best leads possible, use specific content types to target your users, and most of all, maintain the same set of standards in setting up your feed as you do for the other aspects of your company’s marketing programs.

3. Instead of setting up an RSS Feed on your site and hoping visitors will subscribe, promote RSS as you would any other online marketing tool. Give users the ability to sign up for RSS Feeds in the same areas that you have them register to gain access to your site via registration or to e-newsletters. The beauty of RSS Feeds is that they are 100% user-directed, and when given the opportunity, users will register. The challenge of RSS Feeds is that they are 100% user-directed, and unless your users are directed to your feeds, no one will use them.

4. Use RSS Feeds as a way to offer dynamic content types that offer value and convenience to your users. The power of video, blogs, and podcasting is catching on among IT marketers, but does little good if users constantly have to poke around your website to find it. With RSS Feeds however, users can sign-up and receive all of the content they want in one same place. Remember though, by adding feeds to your site, you need to maintain fresh content that changes regularly and offers users solutions to their enterprise technology problems!

For more information about adding RSS Feeds to your site, check out the RSS Wikipedia listing, the XML Files RSS Tutorial, or the WebReference Introduction to RSS.


October 15, 2007

When Campaigns Struggle...

When running a lead generation program, one of the biggest challenges we face on a regular basis are campaigns that struggle to deliver their full orders. This happens for a variety of reasons - most of which are preventable. If you are a vendor and are looking for ways to improve struggling campaigns, here are a few points to consider:

1. Do you have enough content for your lead generation partners to effectively market over the life of your campaign? If a campaign is meant to run for 3-4 weeks, one asset MAY be enough. In general, I would recommend always providing more content than you think a campaign needs - that way, under-performing assets can be swapped out with fresh content mid-campaign.

2. Are your filters too strict? While it's understandable that filters for company size and location are often necessary to bring in the right leads, certain filters may not be as useful as you want. Taking a flexible approach to filters such as job titles, industries and decision-making authority may help you generate more leads. Sometimes it's more useful to have a seemingly unqualified lead in-hand that works to establish a beachhead into the company that you're trying to reach, than to never have that lead in your pipeline.

Keep these tips in mind when planning campaigns - remember, the leads are out there, they just need to be engaged with fresh content, and not filtered out before they reach your sales team!


October 12, 2007

Lead Nurturing Revisited

In creating lead nurturing messages, it's important to gently remind your users of their visit to your site before you start your sales pitch. With more and more tech buyers doing research online, information overload has taken hold - and people are simply too overwhelmed to remember every site they visit and every piece of content they download.

A good strategy in creating lead nurturing messages is to pull your users in by jogging their memories. Use personalization if possible - it's always good to address your users by name, but what's even better is to reference what they read on your site and when they read it. Offering additional, relevant content is also an excellent way to compel users to return to your site and re-engage with your offerings.

While it may be tempting to provide links to product downloads or demos, keep your users' buying process in mind. If this is the first time they've engaged with your content, a better offer might be a case study that highlights your products in the real world, or a research report that compares your offering to the competitors and claims yours as the winner. Downloads and demos are effective, but only after a user has gathered research from a variety of sources first.


October 08, 2007

B2B Marketing on the Global Stage

Globalization is the next frontier for lead generation and now is the time for IT marketers to get in on this rapidly expanding International action. According to ComScore, a global Internet information provider, the worldwide Internet audience has grown by 10% in the last year, and 80% of worldwide Internet users come from outside of the U.S. With statistics like these, it's clear that opportunities exist for IT marketers outside of the US and Canada.

Much work goes into moving your business onto the global stage, and I've come across a few resources that offer tips, advice and general information on making this move.

The Gilbane Group's Globalization Blog is resource packed with tips about globalizing your business, and provides pointers on dealing with translation issues as they impact a move into the international realm.

16th Letter - a blog about Internet strategy- has a series of articles addressing the importance of globalizing your Internet business and offers advice on international domain name registration, how to start the globalization process and key trends in the international Internet market.

B2B Media 2.0 and Globalization is another blog that discusses B2B marketing on the global stage, and points out issues such as audience development.


October 05, 2007

Landing Pages & Landing Zones Work Together

Landing Pages are essential tools for bringing people into your Web site and providing them with the best experience possible to convert them from browsers to buyers. Landing Zones are great vehicles that can be set up on a partner's site for educating users on your products or services, nurturing users throughout their entire buying processes, and providing users the information they need when they're ready to buy. These are two tools that work extremely well together.

Lee Odden of Online Marketing Blog and Jon Miller of Marketo sum up how best to build a successful Landing Page in Ten Tips for Lead Generation Landing Pages. In addition to the 10 excellent tips in the paper, I recommend providing users with a variety of content and content delivery methods to nurture leads throughout their entire buying processes. The best way to get site visitors to return to your site is to offer content that matches their research needs.

By building a Landing Zone on a partner site that includes white papers, research reports, case studies, product literature, and seminars as PDF files, podcasts, webcasts, demos, and videos, you can appeal to first time visitors gathering basic information, to techno-geeks looking for detailed product specifications, to C-level executives on the verge of a decision, and to everyone in between. Plus, you get the added credibility of the partner's brand being associated with your company.