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Lead Tracking Leads B2B Marketers to Answers

,How many leads did your marketing team generate last year? This simple question can be hard to answer for many B2B marketers because tracking leads is a complicated process, especially if you don’t have automated systems in place. However, being able to confidently answer this and other questions around marketing’s contribution to lead generation and revenue will:

  • insure company growth
  • justify increasing budget dollars for your marketing efforts
  • improve marketing’s lead generation effectiveness

B2B marketers need to utilize a system for lead tracking to answer these questions.

Let’s discuss what lead tracking is and how to get started, even if you’re a marketing “team” of one or two, or lack an automated lead tracking system.

What is lead tracking?

One of the most important responsibilities for a B2B marketer or marketing team is to generate leads. In its simplest form a lead is an individual who is interested in your product or service. And a simple lead management process is one where marketing generates a lead, then passes it over to the sales team who “close” the lead as either a won or lost sale.

Lead tracking is the ability to track each lead from initial inquiry via a marketing channel (online or offline) or campaign (digital ad, email, direct mail etc.) response through to a closed sale (won or lost).

This simple lead tracking and management process can get complicated very quickly. For example, is the lead located in a geographic area your company sells into, which sales person gets which leads, how does marketing hand off the lead information, and how does sales notify marketing of closing the sale. These are just some of the lead tracking details you typically need to work through. Read more

Is It Back to the Future for B2B Marketing? (Finally!)

Have you noticed how disjointed some B2B marketing is? Over the last ten, and especially five, years this seemed to be a growing trend. Article after article talked about and many B2B marketers implemented digital, social media, inbound marketing, SEO, etc. as though each can stand alone. And sadly, in many cases, each has stood alone. Many marketers gave little thought to an overall integrated marketing strategy. As a result, these marketing efforts delivered less than stellar results. However, last week I attended a conference that gives me hope we may finally be seeing a return to strategic integrated marketing. Read on to learn more about this and other takeaways from the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit (MAM Summit). Read more

8 Cheap & Easy Methods for Gathering Competitive Intelligence

In my previous post, Competitive Intelligence: 8 Ways B2B Marketers Should Use, I discussed what competitive intelligence is and how B2B marketers should be using it to stay ahead of their competition. In this post I want to share ideas for how to collect and gather information about your competitors.

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, defines competitive intelligence as: The legal and ethical collection and analysis of information regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of a business competitor.

According to Benjamin Gilad, president of the Academy of Competitive intelligence, “Companies spend about $20 billion on market research annually and about another $2 billion on analyzing specific competitors.” I don’t know about you, but I never worked in a company that spent anywhere near that on competitive intelligence. In fact, most of the companies I worked for had no formal system or process and no people devoted to gathering competitive intelligence. As is typical in most small and medium (and even large ones if the truth be told) B2B companies, competitive intelligence is an ad hoc word-of-mouth sort of thing with sales and marketing sending emails or having phone calls whenever anyone saw or heard something about a competitor.

As the marketing leader for a medium size B2B product manufacturer, I led a CRM implementation which included creating a process for gathering and maintaining competitor information in the CRM. The ideas I share with you here are based on this experience along with many years gathering competitor information for specific sales opportunities, analyzing the competitive landscape for strategic marketing plans, ongoing business development, and creating competitor tools for the sales team.

Here are 8 inexpensive ways you can gather competitive intelligence for your B2B marketing:

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B2B Lead Generation is Just Like Motorsport Racing – No Really!

The Top 4 Elements for a Podium Finish

Over Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to drive my race car on my favorite track, Virginia International Raceway. The weather was perfect in spite of Hurricane Hermine barreling along just 20 miles south of us. Plus the car performed well making it a most enjoyable weekend. By now you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with B2B marketing. A lot actually! In this post I’ll discuss the top four elements you need to ensure your B2B lead generation results in a podium finish.

Prepped for high performance

Before I head to the track there’s a lot of preparation required to help ensure we have a fun and safe weekend of high performance driving. I inspect the car for any safety or mechanical issues, purchase gas, gather spare parts, and possibly change the oil, brake pads, or tires. Then there’s the hotel reservations, event registration, planning when to get the trailer from storage and load the car, and purchasing track insurance. Yes, I have a very long checklist to make sure nothing is forgotten.

Successful B2B lead generation requires a lot of preparation also. Before the launch of any campaigns you need to be “race prepped” with target personas, a mapped out buyer’s journey, appropriate content for different stages in that journey. And you need to have your marketing engine (website, online and offline channels, marketing automation, and analytics) tuned up and ready. Your content calendar may have some holes in it, but you should have some “spare” content on hand and a plan for producing new content going forward since this is the “fuel” for lead generation.

Think about what else might be needed and what might change. Not having a set of spare tires or brake pads at the track can ruin a weekend and waste the investment made in being there. What can you prepare ahead of time to respond more quickly? Close alignment with sales can provide early insight into customers and sales enablement needs. Having relationships with outside resources for market research, content development, design, etc. can help you implement backup plans or new tactics, make you more nimble, and reduce risk.

Strategic and integrated tactics win the race

The courses I drive are road courses, typically 2 to 3 miles long with many turns and elevation changes. So unlike NASCAR’s oval tracks, I can’t see the whole course at once and it’s not just left turns. Before going to a new track I’ll watch video and study a track map to learn “the line”, the best way to take each turn for the fastest lap times. Although each individual turn has a “best way” through it, it’s better to take an integrated approach to get the fastest overall lap times. An integrated approach may sacrifice speed through one turn to optimize a more important turn that follows. For example, turning in later and slower for a turn so that upon exit the car is set up perfectly to enter the next more important turn.

Modern B2B marketers have more channel choices than ever for demand generation, but it takes a strategic and integrated approach to beat the competition. Exhibiting at a trade show may generate leads, but integrating that trade show presence with social media, email campaigns, direct mail, and webinars will help you generate higher quality leads faster.

Consider which marketing tactics integrated together will deliver the fastest results for the overall strategy and resources available. According to the B2B Content Marketing 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs 75% of B2B marketers rated in-person events as the most effective tactic while infographics and on-line presentations came in last at only 58%.

The report also shows that B2B marketers use on average 13 different tactics and 6 different social media platforms with LinkedIn(66%), Twitter(55%), and YouTube(51%) being the most effective platforms. If your target prospects don’t use Facebook for investigating solutions to their business problems, then why devote resources to it? An integrated marketing plan might “sacrifice” Facebook while putting more resources into LinkedIn, YouTube, email campaigns and webinars. Running fewer email campaigns may actually reduce unsubscribes and increase click through rates and engagement with prospects.

A data dashboard for midrace adjustments and a strong finish

Speedometer up and close

With preparation and an integrated strategy in place, you’ll need to gather data so you can assess and make course adjustments as you go along. During a race the team measures tire pressures, engine and transmission temperatures, fuel levels and lap times, to help drivers and crew make adjustments that improve performance. Teams also relay competitor information to help determine when to make pit stops and what times to beat to win the race. Without this kind of data, the team is driving blind. Making more pit stops than necessary or not changing tires soon enough can lose the race.

Measuring lead generation efforts helps B2B marketers know whether they are meeting their goals, what’s working and not working. This measurement data should provide an indication of where to allocate resources and help justify more budget. With the tools and technology available to marketers today, such as marketing automation and Google Analytics, there’s really no excuse for not being able to gather and measure lead generation efforts.

The bigger challenge now is learning what to measure and how to analyze, adjust and optimize to keep improving your lead generation capabilities. The B2B Content Marketing Report indicated the top 3 most important metrics for B2B marketers were sales lead quality (87%), sales (84%), and higher conversion rates (82%). Creating a lead generation dashboard with meaningful metrics will ensure you’re not driving blind and take you to a strong finish.

B2B lead generation is an enduro, not a sprint

Race car crossing the finish line on a circuit

You can’t win the race if you don’t finish. Race cars have more robust parts and extra cooling to withstand extreme conditions for longer periods. Your street car with the same horsepower might make a few laps around, but would likely lose brakes, wear out tires, or break a part before finishing the race.

B2B lead generation, contrary to the sales team’s quarterly or even monthly sprints, is more like an enduro race that lasts several quarters or even a fiscal year or more. Sure there may be twists and turns that require you to adjust your tactics, but finding ways to consistently engage your prospects throughout their buyers’ journey is what wins the race. Stopping and starting tactics midstream or doing one-off campaigns, be they online or offline, won’t make much, if any, impact. Make sure you’ve got the resources and team in place to make it through several quarters at least. That way you’ll have enough data to learn what works and make educated decisions about future lead generation strategy and tactics.