As many of you would expect, Green Leads consumes prospect lists at a rate that far exceeds most outbound marketing efforts. With over 30 clients running their appointment setting programs through us, having volumes of accurate contact names is essential to our business. As a result, we've got licenses with Jigsaw, OneSource and NetProspex, and we use LinkedIn and other contact discovery services. We love them all and use them all in parallel.
NetProspex recently shined when we heard about the new addition to their service. Users can search on meta-data of specific attributes at companies such as what software system their organization is using, for instance Salesforce.com, NetSuite or Oracle.
This is such a HUGE addition to the world of data services. I asked NetProspex what the future is for additional attribute data like this.
"We've always been a big proponent of metadata. NetProspex has the most job title meta-data in the industry so that instead of only being able to target broad categories like 'Marketing,' you can get really granular and target specific job categories like 'Advertising' or 'Product Management.' We are also investing heavily in social media and our future plans have it front and center. We launched SocialStep -- the first social media prospecting and appending service earlier this year. The interest level -- from customers, the media and even the general public -- has been greater than for any product we've ever launched," shared Mark Feldman, COO of NetProspex.
General NetProspex highlights:
- User-contributed data
- In-house data verification ensures high accuracy
- Customizable list-building tools where users can manage multiple projects and list variations
- Job title search that is based on more than department and keywords -- there are 100+ functions to help you zero in on the specific function you are looking for. See the breakdown to the right just for Marketing contacts. This is much more granular than the competition.
- Pricing is similar to the other services. You can trade contacts for credit, or purchase credits, and there are corporate licenses available.
Smashmouth Rating: Thumbs Up!
What features, tips and best practices can you share?
ActiveConversion is a web based solution that allows organizations to identify visitors to their website, to automatically qualify and nurture leads, to get notified when leads become "hot," and to track ROI of marketing campaigns. They are partners with Google, Jigsaw, VerticalResponse, and Salesforce.com.
Upon opening up the solution, you can view your ActiveConversion dashboard. You're able to see your active leads, broken down by active companies, active prospects, and qualified leads. The information is easy to read and easy to understand, and a click of the mouse allows you to dive deeper into the graphically represented reports. The dashboard gives you visibility into seeing which of your leads is actually showing genuine interest. That's great, but as I'm thinking about it, how exactly does this work? How does it determine whether or not one of my prospects is showing "genuine interest? They do this by scoring visitors to your website on three different categories:
- How they reached your site
- What they viewed, and
- How long they visited.
These scores are easy to configure and allow you to determine when a prospect is ready for a call, and when they're not.
ActiveConversion can help simplify lead management and lead routing process. The sales team can also reap the benefit from the following:
- Identification of anonymous visitors to your website by mapping known IP addresses. Contacts of the prospect company can be instantly researched in Jigsaw.
- Push leads and session visit data to the sales team through regularly scheduled emails. This can also include lead score.
- Returning visitors can have lead scores improved and salesforce activities scheduled upon further visits.
When I visit your site, do you know if I'm a lead?
More Smashmouth Demand Gen Product Reviews.
The Catcher in the Rye. Moby Dick. Pride and Prejudice. The Grapes of Wrath. A Tale of Two Cities.
If there's one thing those books have in common for me, it's that they were part of my high school summer reading lists. Remember those? You'd receive a list of books before the end of your school year that you'd have to read in preparation for the next school year.
Maybe you were excited by all of that reading; maybe you weren't. Maybe you cleared your list well before summer's end, or maybe you were running to the local bookstore to find the Cliffs Notes versions of the books on your list (not that I know anything about that). Since we're so close to the beginning of summer, I thought I'd share with you what should be on every good B2B marketing and sales careerist's list this summer. It's a bit more geared to the marketer, but every good sales professional is their own marketer too.
If you're reading this and you've just graduated from college hoping to find yourself in sales and marketing, take heed! This list is the tip of the iceberg for you. If you're like me and you've read these books, take heed and read them again; they're just that good. Note that all of the links are to Amazon, should you choose to purchase them.
| ||The New Rules of Marketing and PR, 2nd Edition - David Meerman Scott's book on completely changing the way marketing and PR is handled effectively today. David's book is worth reading time and again to be reminded of how the Internet and social media can radically improve your business. This book is a Marketing 401 class in 320 pages.|
|Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs - Written by the founders of HubSpot, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Inbound Marketing delivers on its promise to get your organization found. Brian and Dharmesh talk about just what "inbound marketing" is, how you can get found by the prospects you want to do business with, and how to convert those prospects into customers.|
| ||SNAP Selling - Jill Konrath's latest book is a must-read. This new book teaches its readers how to better handle prospects who, today, have shrinking budgets and more "to-do's" on their plates than they've ever had before. Oh yeah, and she teaches you how to close them, too. Jill is a master saleswoman, and she artfully delivers a message to improve the sales processes of her readers.|
|Ogilvy on Advertising - David Ogilvy's book, now celebrating its 25th year in print, is a classic and one that I revisit time and again. Ogilvy teaches that advertisement is salesmanship, and he couldn't be more right. His lessons on buyer personas (though not necessarily called that) are just as relevant today as they've ever been. In fact, he calls out the lazy marketers who do not go about this process and warns about "skidding about on what my brother Francis called 'the slippery slope of irrelevant brilliance.'"|
| ||eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale - Ardath Albee's book on eMarketing is a great book that teaches its readers how to differentiate themselves from every other organization in their space. Ardath sets a great tone throughout the book, and the lessons in the book aren't just things marketers should be doing but rather things they must be doing. Ardath spends a considerable amount of time discussing what she calls "Contagious Content," and with good reason - she understands the importance of content that spurs the prospect to move from reading to engaging.|
| ||Digital Body Language - Steven Woods' book explores how today's marketers can market better to their target audiences, taking into consideration all of the intricacies of 21st century sales and sales processes. Woods' idea that marketers and sales folks can now "read" a prospect's digital body language (i.e. their web behavior) is on point and is sure to help shape readers' effectiveness in their chosen professions. Pick this one up.|
| || |
Obviously there are more books that I could place on the B2B Sales and Marketing summer reading list, but these are my "must reads." What about you? What would you add to the list?
About 18 months ago, Green Leads embarked on an aggressive plan to increase our inbound marketing activity. We focused first on content and blogging and then decided to dig deeper into SEO best practices. Along the way we started drinking some Orange Kool-Aid in the form of Hubspot's inbound marketing educational materials. We weren't looking for a content management system at the time, but they had so many valuable pieces of content on their site that we soon became Hubspot junkies without even being a client. Eventually, we jumped in headfirst and signed up.
We were able to get the site migrated and up and running in less than a month. The first lead came in during the first six hours of going live. Here's the process we went through; I recommend you pay attention to the "homework" parts:
- Pre-Project Education -- We went through all sorts of webinars, videos and documents on Hubspot's site. Knowing the basics was key to the planning of the project: Understand SEO. Understand the value of Content. Understand the basics of online lead gen. Know how moving forward will impact your site and resources.
- Migration -- Hubspot's conversion team takes your existing site and migrates it to their platform. I recommend that you don't peek at the work in progress until it gets a good deal of the way there. You'll want to tweak things and until the team is complete, you'll probably throw wrenches in the works.
- Expert -- In parallel to the migration, your Hubspot Inbound Marketing Consultant will book some sessions to go over best practices. Be religious about doing the sessions and doing your homework between sessions. Hubspot is about education more than it is CMS. If you educate yourself and you implement their methodologies and best practices, you will be successful. (our expert, @kylejames, rocked!)
- Content -- At every trade show I've attended in the past year the mantra "content is king" was heard over and over again. If you want to be successful with SEO, you have to have people visiting and people linking to you. The only way to do that is through content. Make a commitment to yourself that this is a top priority and an ongoing effort. Don't start/stop. Budget time and resources to create content constantly.
- Conversion -- In the end, it's all about capturing the visitors and converting them to leads. Don't lose sight of that. When you are laying out your pages, spend as much time on calls to action as you do content. Make them click on those compelling offers. Then make your landing pages convert.
- Go Live -- I almost made the mistake of holding off my go-live date until I perfected every page. Huge mistake. After a few weeks of tweaking and working on content, Kyle said "Go live, man!" I just turned off the public view of the pages that weren't ready yet and made the switchover. Six hours later the first lead came in. Within a week, the fact that it was live forced us to fix the loose ends. It was up and running.
- Focus -- Once you're live, it's time to start working on your keywords, rankings, content, and ultimately ... leads. However, you can lose sight of the short-term successes by going too wide. Example: Green Leads' obvious keyword that we want to own is "appointment setting." But there are already tons of people ranking high on that one, so we put our initial focus on some other keywords that were easier to own. It worked. In just one month, we had five major keywords that are now on the top of Google's search results. We're still focusing on "appointment setting", but it's not the holy grail.
- Action -- Don't just watch the leads pile up. If the call to action was appropriate for a sales follow-up, then take it. If they did multiple visits or multiple page views (Hubspot tracks this), increase the lead score and contact them. Treat inbound leads as the ultimate prospect lists. Just because they raised their hands doesn't mean they want to buy. You still have to reach out to them and ask for the introductory appointment or the presentation. That lead produced by inbound marketing now turns into an outbound marketing pursuit. Dial the phone. Send the emails. Close the loop. Engage with that prospect, then get the sale.
et-Net. Don't just drink the orange Kool-Aid, savor it. Buy into the methodology, not just the license fee. Invest the time and effort to implement the program exactly the way Hubspot teaches you to. You will be handsomely rewarded.
A more detailed product review coming that will focus on some key features and benefits. Stay tuned.
In the Smashmouth Review of Genius.com Part 1, we focused on Genius Pro. Since then, we've had the opportunity to work with and evaluate Genius Enterprise. The one liner summary: marketing automation and sales enablement with a 2.0 twist.
The product is so rich in features that this article alone will not do it justice. It’s always tempting to try to make apples to apples comparisons with other marketing automation vendors, but Genius is different. Genius eliminates the need for heavy IT support. After just a few hours of use it allows a non-guru to establish some incredibly strong functionality. It's suitable for small business, or for a larger, more sophisticated organization.
The heart of the package is the Automation Workflow Designer. This provides a the ability to create logical processes of conditions, actions, and communications that together can walk a prospect through the nurturing and selling process.
Consider this example. Sounds complex, but it was able to be configured in 30 minutes with the drag and drop editor that is both intuitive and fresh in its design.
- If the prospect is not on any other campaign, send an initial email
- Wait for 5 days, and if during those 5 days the prospect had clicked through to the site, increase their lead score, and keep watching and waiting
- If during those 5 days they visit the site multiple times, then increase their lead score again
- If during those 5 days they download a specific white paper and look at the Contact Us page, increase the lead score and send a more targeted email offer. At this point, notify the sales rep and then remove this lead from the workflow and have the rep pursue them by phone
- What sets Genius apart from the rest if at any time during the waiting process a qualifying conversion event is reached the rep will notified immediately and the prospect will be removed from the workflow
etc. (you get the picture)
Key among the features is the ability to have the Genius Tracker notify you by email, SMS or the Genius Tracker IM-like interface when a rep takes a qualifying action like visiting your site or reaches a qualified lead score. From there the rep can link to the contact's history -- what emails have they received, and what actions have they taken. There is also a TiVo-like replay of their visit available, which is a rich way for a rep to find out what the prospect was interested in and target the followup conversation. To top it off, the system also has an integrated chat/messaging system for visitors to use, as well as the ability to display an Instant Promo window that can contain custom messages.
Smashmouth recommendation: Thumbs Up
End of independent review.
As opposed to the obligatory comment from the company, I asked if I could speak with a power user. .
"Genius Enterprise is designed for Marketers with sales in mind," says Joanna Giannotti, Global Marketing Director at ClickSoftware. "It’s simple drag and drop campaign creation makes cumbersome, complicated marketing automation solutions a thing of the past while their exclusive Tracker alerts Sales with an instant notification when prospects are hot so they can offer rapid service. It all means greater Marketing success and more closed deals for Sales."
As a postscript...this whole exercise had my desktop going off every few minutes with an audible signal that someone was visiting my site. It leads me to continue the debate...when I hear that noise, do I pick up the phone and POUNCE? (more: Pounce, Pause, Nurture or Wait?).
Last week we conducted a poll on LinkedIn where we asked: Inbound Marketing & Outbound Marketing - what is your mix for lead gen?
- Mostly Inbound
- Mostly Outbound
- Both Equally
- Inbound Only
- Outbound Only
The complete results were published today on the DemandGen Reports site. The short version excerpted from the article:
The experts balance Inbound Marketing with Outbound Marketing. So the random sales and marketing execs may want to pay attention to a few points:
• Most companies rely on a mix of Inbound and Outbound Marketing
• Outbound Marketing seems to have a larger portion of the marketing mix in general
• Demand Gen specialists balance their mix of Inbound and Outbound 30% more than generalists
• The mania of Inbound Marketing taking over the marketing mix is either just that, mania, or it is still in its infancy. Don't get caught up in the hype just yet.
• A balanced approach seems to be the mix of choice with a slight favor to Outbound activities
As a side note, a regular feature of my blog, which is focused on BtoB marketing and demand gen, are product reviews. So below is a mini product review of LinkedIn Polls:
The application is extremely easy to use, and the ability to promote it free to your network or paid through LinkedIn's systems provides incredible flexibility. We highly recommend using the paid LinkedIn poll feature for two reasons. First, it can be targeted to specific demographics. Second, it randomizes responses in a manner different than if you were to share the poll with your network. One feature missing though, is the ability to embed the poll on other pages (such as a blog, or corporate site). Having this widget capability would be huge.
We all know that accelerating a prospect through the educational/discovery phase onward to a selling cycle and then a buying event takes time. Especially today when the buyer defines the sales cycle, not the seller. The typical decision maker is bombarded with marketing contacts each day, yet they are still finding information on their own, they are educating themselves on industry sites, blogs, twitter and your website and emails.
Genius.com helps you take back some of that control that the buyers are claiming. As with other product reviews on Smashmouth, this will be an ongoing experiment. Today I'll describe what Genius brings you, and in later posts, I'll talk about some of the benefits and issues it has surfaced.
There are two levels of product, Genius Pro and Genius Enterprise. Both have the ability to do email marketing, website tracking, instant web visitor notification, visitor session replay, and have salesforce.com integration. Enterprise adds marketing automation features such as lead scoring and automated lead conversion as well as advanced process design using the workflow design tool.
Here's a working scenario of using Genius Pro that I was able to test on my own using just a trial account:
- Load a list of prospect email addresses and send an email (this can be done as individual users, or marketing can send on behalf of sales teams)
- Launch the Tracker (which is a web-based client like Yahoo Instant Messenger but instead of showing your buddies you see your prospects), and see visitors show up live after they have clicked through the email
- Replay the visitor's session in a Tivo like fashion
- Respond to prospect activity and interest with additional or next-step level emails (or phone call)
- Review integrated activities in salesforce
Remember, prospects want to sell themselves nowadays, but it's our job as marketers and sales people to accelerate that process or educate them along the way. Combined with other tools such as LeadLander, LivePerson and Salesforce, the average sales exec can be armed to the teeth with the tools to track, nurture and accelerate the close of prospects.
The next level of the product, Genius Enterprise, gets into serious marketing automation, but with the same usability and non-IT methodology of Genius Pro. As mentioned I’ll provide a high level overview here, but blog review part 2 will be coming after I get a chance to experience more of Genius Enterprise.
- Use the workflow designer to map out an automated rules-based marketing campaign
- Define steps in the lead nurturing process
- Define Conversion Events that removes a prospect from the work flow and instantly alerts team member for follow up
- React to a visitor's activity in a complex and immediate manner
- Monitor activity within Salesforce
Let me give you an example of a typical use in simple terms: if a visitor who received a trade show followup email, they visit page X and they are not already on nurturing path A or B; you can use Genius Enterprise to automatically nurture them with an email later that day referring them to a study on page Y, increase their lead score, convert them to an active lead and notify the sales exec, etc.
Does it work? My real world evaluation is still under way, but one of the inside sales reps at Genius nurtured me during each of my visits prior to my evaluation (with follow up emails, etc.) and then once I did a 15 page session, my phone rang and there he was. I’d say that’s proof positive the system works. I'll give you my thoughts and experience using Genius Enterprise in Part 2 of the Product Review of the post.
Smashmouth recommendation: Thumbs Up
End of independent review.
During my evaluation, I had a chance to speak with Matt West, Director of Marketing Programs at Genius. I asked him what separates Pro and Enterprise as a reason a company would just purchase Pro versus the full marketing automation product.
“Many companies are just getting started using email marketing in conjunction with their selling efforts, so they may want to move forward a step at a time, and getting started with an email marketing service that also provides website visit tracking (and shares those results with the sales team) is an easy way for organizations new to email marketing to see real results very quickly. We started out that way ourselves and found that sending emails on behalf of the sales team increased our open rates (because the emails were from a real person) and then let sales see how prospects responded. As we grew and gained experience with what worked and what didn’t in terms of messaging and website content, we began running enough campaigns that we wanted to automated them, and that’s where Genius Enterprise comes in. It’s a natural progression, especially for smaller companies.”
More detailed review of Genius Enterprise and some real world results in Part 2
We thought it might be interesting to augment our thought leader interviews with some demand gen product reviews. We are keeping the reviews independent--actually using the products/services, and then critiquing them.
I had heard about LeadLander from a competitor (surprisingly, not all competitors are enemies..that's another blog post). It touts the ability to provide to you all the standard website visitor stats, along with one huge differentiator - the names of companies that visit your website. They can't figure them all out, and you can filter all those Comcast and Verizon visitors, but they provide enough to bring additional value to a web stats application such as Google Analytics.
They meet their promise. I'll leave you to explore all the details of what the product does, and I'll give you a real world example of how to use it.
The following took place in the last 3 days.
Day 1. Installed LeadLander on both our company website, www.green-leads.com, and on the Smashmouth Marketing blog.
Day 2. Published a blog interview with Joe Galvin of SiriusDecisions. Promoted it on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and through other channels.
Day 3. Reviewed the LeadLander Reports:
- Site traffic was up 45% for the day.
- Companies that visited were listed (Oracle, SAP, and a sizable list of other companies I haven't heard of).
- Realized that the fact that Oracle and SAP visited is cool, but we can't really take targeted action on it since they have hundreds of individuals we could target.
- Then we looked at the "other" companies, many of which were small to medium sized, some recognizable. We checked the companies out with the LeadLander Jigsaw link, and were able to identify 2-3 marketing contacts per company. Presto...Leads!
We were able to contact 2 of the companies that visited that day by phone and were able to set appointments
with both for further discussions (yes, we use our own service). The remaining prospects will be pursued by phone and email. Not bad for 3 days work. As for Oracle and SAP - they're always on Green Leads
So some benefits we found outside the obvious Lead:
- You can see what pages they visited during their session. Seeing a trend in what pages a company visits gives you specifics on their interests
- You can see what search terms they used to find the site.
- You can see when your competitors visit.
- You can see what referring page they came from. This was valuable as we identified that the referring site for the Oracle visit was their intranet site from their weekly sales call. Nice to know someone there is sharing our information.
- The LeadLander search function, where you can search by strings in URLs is valuable as you can use it to track specific links. We did this by using one link for Twitter, one for LinkedIn, and one for an email blast. Measure the effectiveness of campaigns.
- The Jigsaw link is very nice, especially if you have an unlimited Jigsaw license, like Green Leads. With one click you can see all the contacts at the company that visited.
Pricing starts at $160 per month for small companies and goes up from there depending on your company size, website usage, etc. Definite ROI for our 2 appointments (3 days for $15, 2 meetings, $7.50 each, the additional leads are a bonus).
This marketing/sales approach to website stats is extremely useful. Kudos to LeadLander for dissecting web traffic and presenting it in a manner that the demand gen user can benefit from.
Smashmouth recommendation: Thumbs Up
End of independent review.
I was able to catch Mike Schon, CEO at LeadLander, and asked him "What differentiates LeadLander from traditional web analytics services like Google Analytics?"
He shared with me "LeadLander was designed to turn traditional web analytics statistics that benefit marketing staff into reports that benefit sales staff, by providing specific information about the companies and people visiting web sites. You'll never see a sales person using Google Analytics, the data is just not significant enough from a sales perspective."
[nice blog comparison of LeadLander and Google Analytics]
Schon continues, "In contrast, LeadLander is used by thousands of sales people, because LeadLander gives them specific, relevant information about their leads and prospects. So we don't look at one system replacing the other -- in fact, we use both Google Analytics and LeadLander within our own company since they serve two different organizational purposes. Our philosophy with LeadLander is to put valuable lead and prospect information into the hands of sales people as quickly, simply, and cost-effectively as possible without the requirement to spend time and effort on implementation, administration, and other services."
If new clients for your business is a pure numbers game, then you have to look at ConnectAndSell. This is one Sales 2.0 offering that I have to rave about! A friend of ours recommended CAS a year ago and at first were reluctant. It seemed like a predictive dialer/call center offshore mashup and didn't resonate and for the price seemed like it would be questionably worth it. But then over the summer a good client of ours told us they were achieving results with it (thanks Char!). So we finally gave it a shot.
ConnectAndSell is what we thought, an autodialer on steroids, topped off with humans guiding it. It's actually like an outbound sales control room with prospects popping up every couple of minutes for a pitch. It's INTENSE and I don't recommend more than a 2 hour session at a time.
What kind of results are we achieving? It's all about "connects", so let me define it. A connect is when the CAS system delivers a prospect you have targeted for a live phone call where you can start with "Hi Joe Prospect, this is Steve the Sales Guy, how are you?" Think about how many true connects/pitches one of your outbound sessions might yield today. Two or three an hour with a full hour of dialing? Well, the CAS community brags about hourly connect rates of 8-10 connects per hour (CAS humbly promises less than that, but they know you get more). This results in 10 pitches an hour with prospects you want to be pitching. How long do you think it takes one of your sales executives do 10 pitches? Ask them, you might be suprised at the answer.
Basic ROI study: from one of our clients outbound telesales projects selling $1200 maintenance and support licenses for an open source IT analysis tool that is downloaded freely. They typically connect with an average of 23 targets per day, send 6 quotes out (25% interest rate) Close 1 of the 6 over time (16% close rate). So an average week's production is 92 connects, 23 quotes, 3-4 deals per week for $4800 in revenue. By adding just two CAS sessions a week to this rep, the production is increased to 167 pitches per week, 42 quotes, and 7 deals per week's effort for revenue of $8400. Less the additional management cost and service fees to CAS, it has resulted in a net increase of $2400 per week.
Knowing a good thing when we saw it, Green Leads decided to tune the CAS system and do one better. We fed the machine with validated lists from our research group, which are all direct dials and nearly 100% accurate. We have actually achieved hourly connect rates as high as 22 connects. Need I say more? We've been doing it to augment our production and have even been hired to just take over CAS sessions for clients. ConnectAndSell has been a great addition to our arsenal and I'm sure you can use it to your benefit as well. If you have an inside sales team or outside reps that do outbound calling and the law of large numbers is factored into your ROI model, then reviewing ConnectAndSell has to be on your to-do list.
Read more about how it works in great detail at this blog post by Arron Ross, ConnectAndSell: 100x ROI in generating pipeline!? (p.s. I really like Arron's posts, seems to be on a little hiatus, wish he would come back).