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The Impact of a Great Webinar Program

Webinars are still a big part of the marketing mix, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

And by now, most of us know how to create content and webinars that serve a higher purpose than simply promoting products and services. After all, when someone is truly interested in what you’re selling, they’ll find a demo on your website.

A webinar program (and every other kind of content) is about thought leadership, sharing insights, and providing access to expert knowledge that can help people do their job better.

Inbound marketing (synonymous with content marketing in many ways) is not a new concept. Most mature organizations have learned that inbound leads from content promotion can be pretty “top of the funnel” and have a demand waterfall in place to separate the noise from the good stuff.

If you’re great at creating compelling content—promoted through a mix of channels—you’ll certainly stuff the top of your funnel with new contacts, but not necessarily your top prospects.

That’s where lead scoring should kick in, routing leads through your funnel depending on demographic data and behavior.

Demos and trials, for example, are high value activities that immediately trigger sales engagement, where content downloads, visits to your website, and webinar registrations are usually scored and routed differently.

So let’s talk about how to create a webinar program that does three important things:

  • Attracts New Contacts

  • Serves Every Stage of the Funnel

  • Creates Sales Opportunities

Start with a Three-Part Webinar Series

It doesn’t matter what you’re marketing—a cybersecurity product or healthcare services—you can create a three-part webinar series that casts a wide net at the top and works down to niche topics that indicate more serious interest in what you’re selling.

Let me clarify with a real-world example from a previous company.

They sold analytics software to companies who want to embed analytics in their own products. Their ideal prospect was a product manager—a decision-maker who was charged with product ownership.

Ironically, one of our key challenges was that literally EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD cares about data analytics. We could spin up tasty dataviz content, promote it with Outbrain, and get thousands of downloads.

The problem was conversion: tons of new names in the database but abysmal conversion to opportunities or even to MQLs.

The same was true of webinars. We could easily get 1200 people on a webinar about designing data dashboards, but many attendees were already using Tableau or other competitors’ solutions. They would never be our customer.

So we decided to do a Summer School series of three webinars:

  • The first was a “fan favorite” on dashboard design, meant to attract a large number of top of the funnel registrants.
  • The second was a little more in the weeds—still offering high level info—but getting closer to our message on the value of embedding analytics in a product.
  • The third was directly targeted to our ideal prospect, offering go-to-market strategy for an analytics software product. The only people who would care about this are the very people we wanted to talk to.

We knew that the number of registrants would drop dramatically from the first webinar to the third, but we welcomed that drop off.

The registrants of the second and third webinars were perfect for our SDRs to follow up with, and to track carefully through the funnel.

The registrants of the first webinar would drop into Marketo engagement programs for further nurturing.

The Set Up

Assuming you’re using a marketing automation platform integrated with a CRM system, this type of program is relatively easy to set up.

If you’re already running webinars, then this is super easy to set up.

In this example, we were using Unbounce for landing pages, along with Marketo and Salesforce (WebEx was our webinar platform, for better or worse).

Like most teams, we would send the first webinar invite two weeks before, a second invite the week before, and various reminders to folks who didn’t open and so on.

Hmmmmm

So the question is, do I create one landing page to promote the series, or separate landing pages for each webinar in the series?

The answer is, do all the things.

To get the most bang for your buck, create a landing page for the series (where folks can register for as many as they want), and create separate landing pages for each webinar. This way you have flexibility in how you promote, and you’re still able to send an email invite before each one.

This also gives you the ability to experiment with promotion and channels: maybe you’d promote the second and third (more in-the-weeds) webinars through channels where you can be more targeted (LinkedIn sponsored content and InMail, for example).

Since these webinars are designed to attract your ideal prospect, think about the watering holes where they’d likely consume content.

If you need ideas or practical guidance on how to set up a program like this, talk to us. Here at Sponge, we love to talk demand gen, campaigns, and marketing ops.

The Follow Up

OMG the follow up.

Like I mentioned, the drop off in registrants from the “fan favorite” webinar to the third—more highly targeted one—will probably be pretty big.

And that’s ok.

This program is meant to attract a lot of new names at the top of the funnel, and select out your ideal prospects at the bottom.

Here are some tips to drive engagement and opportunities from your webinar series:

  1. Generate a list of people who register for all three webinars.
  2. Craft an email or call script for your sales development team. Since the people on this list are signalling a high level of interest, the goal should be to set a meeting. At the very least, provide an introduction, and more info about your products.
  3. Track the people who attend and craft a special follow up.
  4. Track the people who watch the recording and craft a special follow up.
  5. Send future webinar invites from the rep, making the invite feel more personal (this can be automated in any system).
  6. Remove these folks from any “standard” nurture program, and serve them middle of the funnel, more product-specific content.
  7. Consider a gift card incentive to drive demos after the webinars.
  8. Track carefully and watch sales opportunities roll in!

And before you launch the program, make sure your SDRs and sales reps know about it:

  • Send them the landing page and brief them on the topics.
  • Have them register so they experience the process as their prospect would.
  • Offer to set up notifications of registrations or attendees so they can work the leads more personally.
  • Stay on top of marketing and sales follow up during and after the series to ensure you’re not stepping on each other’s toes or that nothing is falling through the cracks.

Q4 is not so far away (I know, right?). Start planning your series before the holiday season and close the year strong!

In our upcoming blogs, we’ll share more demand gen ideas that create sales opps. Meanwhile, feast on this:

Marketing’s Shift from Brand to Revenue

When you really think about it, doesn’t it blow your mind?

I’m talking about how the digital age has completely changed marketing and sales—especially buyer behavior. By now we’re all well aware that research happens quietly online, long before a human becomes a “lead” and lands in your funnel.

Imagine talking about a funnel 15 years ago.

Nope, we were sitting in conference rooms talking PR, events, collateral, and swag. We were thinking hard about corporate colors on the website, not about SEO, real-time web personalization and conversion.

Enterprise sales reps were scheduling golf outings and sending monogrammed BBQ sets to their top prospects (wait I guess that’s called ABM now).

Ah the simple days.

Fast forward to 2017 and there’s so much data on any given prospect, that our role as marketers barely resembles what it looked like even 10 years ago. Brand, PR, and events are still a thing, but what’s the real driver of increased marketing budgets over recent years?

It isn’t brochures.

It’s the rise of MarTech, the democratization of data, and the need for specialized talent to manage it.

According to the Gartner 2016-2017 CMO Spend Survey, 75% of marketing leaders say they now own or share responsibility for P&L. And sales leadership? According to a 2016 HubSpot survey, 57% of sales reps believe buyers are less dependent on salespeople during the buying process.

Marketing is now the keeper of critical data and insights that propel growth. If revenue discussions were once reserved for the CEO, COO and sales leadership alone, those days are over: marketing has earned a strategic seat at the revenue table.

Yet even with the martech explosion and availability of data, the average B2B marketer still spends hours every week aggregating data, wrestling with Excel, and struggling to unpack some pretty important insights, like:

  • Length of time leads spent in various funnel stages
  • Campaign performance in aggregate, comparing campaigns to others
  • Comparing plan vs. actuals—what assumptions were accurate and which were off
  • How to forecast impact on revenue based on historical performance and how to adjust accordingly

Most organizations have a way to track leads and opps or engagement within accounts. It’s not the lack of data—it’s the ability to do meaningful things with it.

In spite of sophisticated technologies and increased responsibilities, many teams still struggle with the ability to connect data to revenue or forecast marketing’s impact on the bottom line.

According to The CMO Survey, sponsored by Duke University, Deloitte, and the American Marketing Association, marketers say barely a third of available data are used to drive decision making in their companies. The second largest barrier that prevents them from using analytics is the lack of people who can span the world of marketing analytics and marketing practice.

Of course we need analysts and business ops talent, but the real need is for the marketing team—in its entirety—to be focused on contribution to revenue.

How do you get there? Here’s a simple breakdown:

  1. Marketing and sales alignment to define a shared understanding of revenue goals
  2. A marketing plan that makes sense and tracks back from revenue goals
  3. An efficient way to track marketing’s performance throughout the quarter
  4. The agility to adjust if you’re not meeting your goals
  5. Understanding key metrics to track and what to report to different audiences
  6. Team ownership: providing every member of your team with a way to measure their activities’ impact on engagement and revenue

Sharing ownership of a portion of the P&L means aligning with sales and setting realistic goals based on revenue targets, average deal size, and average conversion rates. Once you’ve reached agreement on revenue goals, create a marketing plan that works back from those goals—setting lead and opp targets the team can realistically achieve given your budget and resources.

Need guidance on creating a revenue-focused marketing plan? See The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Planning.

In the real world, it’s pretty easy to gloss over goal setting and funnel modeling, but lead & opp (or ABM) targets that tie back to a revenue goal is key to creating a marketing team that consistently contributes to pipeline and drives growth.

Otherwise, aren’t we just committing random acts of marketing?

In our upcoming blogs, we’ll share more detail on planning and execution within a revenue-driven framework. Meanwhile, dig in here:

3 Marketing Programs to Kickstart Summer

Too early to talk Q3? Nope.

For many companies, Q3 is slow. Summer vacay is in full swing, and those of us back in the office are itching to pack it in early. And Europe? Literally the entire continent is eating gelato at the seaside until mid-August.

Yes, it’s summertime and the livin is easy (as Gershwin wrote and Billie Holiday turned into magic—you really should listen right here). It’s everyone’s favorite season but Q3 can be the toughest time of year for B2B. So why not plan ahead and take advantage of the lull?

Here’s three ideas to kick start your Q3 plan (or recharge marketing any time of the year).

1. The Summer of the Sprint

For those familiar with agile project management, scrums and sprints are a big deal. While the marketing team isn’t responsible for product development, which is usually the context for agile, you can still apply the idea to marketing.

Pick three sprint themes to tackle this summer. Maybe your customer onboarding needs a refresher, or nurture emails that have been running on autopilot need some love, or you’ve been meaning to connect with new influencers to expand your reach but haven’t had the time.

No matter what you have going on, I’m pretty sure you can find a few projects that dropped off the radar, and those will be your sprints. From there, it’s all about planning and execution.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how a sprint runs:

  1. Identify sprint theme
  2. Pinpoint goals and scope the work
  3. Select team members and responsibilities
  4. Schedule kickoff meeting and daily scrum
  5. Go
  6. Meet at the end for a project review
  7. Move on to the next sprint

Week-long sprints are great because they’re so fast. On Monday you kickoff, and by Friday you’ve achieved something. The momentum never has time to wane, and before you know it, you’re on to the next thing. If you have a bigger project, try two or three-week sprints.

By the end of the summer, the team will feel great about crushing a few big projects and you’ll have results to show for it.

2. The Summer of A/B Love

You only need to attend one conference a year to feel cosmically bad about the A/B tests you’re not running.

When it comes to email marketing, web presence, messaging, and pretty much everything else we do, A/B testing is the one thing we should be doing, yet tends to get kicked to the curb. A shame, since A/B testing can actually help identify valuable insights that can’t be found by other means.

Build a few important A/B tests into your Q3 plan. If that doesn’t sound like fun, divide into Team A and Team B and see who wins.

If you can find a way to gamify the tests, you’ll get the whole team writing better copy, tightening up messaging, and re-imagining landing pages for better conversion.

Regardless of what you’re testing this summer, take the time to do it right. Also take the time to listen to this podcast, where two wicked smart economists discuss data and causation.

And speaking of gamification, don’t forget to pick a nice outdoor patio for happy hour to celebrate the winning team!

3. The Summer of Trying Something New

Even if summer isn’t a slow time for your organization, it’s a great time to kick the tires on a new tool or platform. If you wait to start assessing vendors and doing demos until Q4, it could be too late to sign a deal and get up and running in time for the new year.

So think about the tools and initiatives you’ve been meaning to explore and get into it.

Here are a few solutions we love:

Engagio

Pretty sure we might have hit maximum overload on ABM about four months ago, but while many are familiar with the concept, most are far from implementing it or understanding how to measure ABM success.

Over the past few years, digital and inbound have matured and we’ve learned a few lessons. Namely, when you stuff the top of your funnel with folks who downloaded a piece of content, it might take an act of divinity to move those folks through the funnel.

Without exactly the right mix of content, campaigns, and sales outreach, you can forget about decent conversion rates or a healthy funnel.

Or, you can stop thinking solely in terms of leads and start thinking about engaging the right people at the right accounts. This is where ABM comes in, and Engagio is leading the pack. Because ABM requires tight alignment between sales and marketing, Engagio has built a great platform for marketers and an equally great Salesforce widget for your reps to track account activity.

LinkedIn for Lead Gen and Retargeting

Okay so LinkedIn just rolled out native forms. If you run sponsored content programs already, you can now point to a LinkedIn form instead of your own.

I like being an early adopter so I’ve been giving it a try for one of my clients. I’m recommending it here because I’ve seen a boost in conversion: forms are pre-filled with the person’s LinkedIn data, thus removing friction, and the experience is seamless because they’re not leaving LinkedIn and bouncing to your landing page (you could also argue there’s less connection with your brand).

That said, the new lead gen forms are not without bugs (you can’t download leads in Chrome—only works in IE or Firefox), and the UX is not at all intuitive: you need an account manager to walk you through it once or twice.

Another huge offering from LinkedIn is retargeting through Matched Audiences. You can engage key accounts, prospects, and audiences with three new capabilities: website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting.

If your database is loaded with contacts who’ve gone cold and email isn’t cutting it, this is an effective way to reach them through targeted ads and content. And for visits to your website that haven’t converted, you’ll expand your reach on LinkedIn, which has the potential to be much more targeted than Google Display.

Plus LinkedIn is up to 500 million members, so.

Sponge

Welp, if I didn’t believe in this product I wouldn’t be working here. Sponge is the only solution that ties planning with performance and analytics, and really helps even the most non-mathy marketer become revenue-focused and quantitative.

After a simple integration with Salesforce, login to Sponge and start playing with revenue targets and model budget scenarios to see marketing’s impact on the bottom line.

Sponge also provides reporting made for demand gen marketers, so you won’t have to rely on Salesforce reports and waiting around for the ops team to get you the data you need. Since Sponge gives you one place for plans, campaigns, and analytics, the whole team will be addicted before you know it.

If you’re a semi-neurotic serial refresher (no judgment here)—tracking campaign performance by the minute, running conversion rates, and contemplating the health and velocity of your funnel—Sponge is your new nerdy best friend.

Rybbon

If you use gift cards or other incentives to drive webinar registrants, survey completion, or any other point of engagement, I bet whatever you’re doing is pretty manual and not easy to track.

Rybbon changes all that. You can order through the Rybbon portal, set up your campaign, grab a token for Marketo, and you’re done. You can track when a gift is redeemed and schedule a sales follow up. The ease of use is one thing, but the lack of risk is also huge: if your allotted giftcards aren’t used, you can return them for a refund or order new gifts in any increment you need.

Try a survey that helps you get a better read on your customers and prospects, then offer the anonymous results in a follow up campaign. It’s a great way to boost engagement and get valuable insights at the same time.

So there you go, a few ideas to rally the team and try new initiatives that can move the needle in meaningful ways. Whether your summers are slow or not, a smart Q3 plan can set you up to crush Q4 and end the year strong.

Happy Hour Will Resume After Q2 Planning

FML it’s end of quarter again.

It’s late. I have so many tabs open I’ve lost track of where I am. This would be waaay better with wine (yanks laptop off docking station, runs for door).

I’m pretty sure you can relate to late nights during end-of-quarter planning. Of course we track throughout the quarter, but the EOQ round up is a big deal—and rightfully so. Your plan for the upcoming quarter is only as good as your audit of the past.

It helps to focus on a few key questions, like:

  • Did the company achieve its revenue target? What was marketing’s contribution?
  • Which campaigns generated the most leads? The fewest?
  • Which campaigns had the highest impact on pipeline?
  • How did the funnel perform compared to your assumptions?
  • Did anything unexpected happen? What and why?

Whether your team adheres to a lead target, an opp target, or an ABM strategy that focuses on engagement within key accounts, ask the right questions, get the answers, and document that data in your quarterly plan. When you gather the team for a marathon planning sesh, the “Look Back” slide should be your starting point—inviting the team to unpack what worked and what didn’t.

In this on-demand webinar, three CMOs discuss how they set the marketing vision, inspire their team, and create plans that drive growth. Watch Planning for Growth in 2017 now.

Stop. Start. Adjust.

Stop, Start, Adjust is an annual and quarterly exercise that forces brevity and clarity around where you’ve been and where you want to go. Assuming your lead and opp targets don’t fluctuate wildly from quarter to quarter and you know your goals, dedicate a session to outline the practices that need to go away completely, that need to begin in earnest, and that need to be optimized for better performance.

Here’s an example of how the exercise can take shape:

Once you’ve nailed Stop, Start, Adjust, move on to budget. Do you have the budget to support new initiatives or fine-tune what you already have? Can you reallocate anything from the Stop column? Here’s a few practical tips that’ll help you stay on track:

3 Guidelines to Throw on Your Whiteboard Right Now

1. Be bold enough to kill anything that isn’t working

Seriously. Do not be afraid of losing leads. If you have campaigns or channels that generate leads with abysmal conversion, take them out back and shoot them. Free up that budget to try something new. You have nothing to lose.

2. Revisit your target personas

Funny how we lose sight of who we’re actually marketing to in the midst of all the number crunching. Make sure everyone is clear on who your target personas are and aren’t—and evaluate whether your programs do a good job of reaching them. Be prepared to abandon generic offers that cater to everyone and no one.

3. Budget with agility

Start with the big buckets and assign budgets accordingly, then follow through with a budget review every two weeks and adjust as necessary. Give your team the freedom to spend smarter on campaigns that move the needle.

 

Planning doesn’t have to be painful. Read The Modern Marketer’s Guide to 2017 Planning and learn how to create effective plans, inspire your team, and put some damn fun back into B2B marketing.

 

That Time I Got Advice about My Marketing Career

In 2011 I was running content marketing at a software company in Burbank CA.

There was a good Mexican place down the street, a notable Armenian café around the corner, and the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains rolling down to meet the road behind the office. Coyotes would hang around the parking lot at dusk.

The place itself was meh—an 80s building with a depressing façade and joyless cubicles inside. Mostly beige from what I remember, open and light, but every bit as bleak as a brown Caprice Classic. My favorite memories of that place are the people I worked with and the enormous pine trees I could see out back, over the maze of cubicle walls.

Another memory that stands out is a bit of advice from my boss. I’m pretty sure he meant well, but I remember driving home that day wondering where I really fit in. It was simply this: “Robin, you’re creative. You need to stop tinkering. Just focus on writing and quit all this tinkering.”

Even though this was only 6 years ago, it was relatively early days for marketing automation and inbound. Marketo was still a shiny new toy—and holy crap! I couldn’t stop tinkering.

His point was that I was hired to produce compelling content—to tell stories, craft narrative, and connect with IT dudes who might care about storage virtualization and I/O optimization. Yet there I was messing around in Marketo, running A/B tests, and trying to figure out if leads were converting to opps, and if opps were turning into deals.

Why? Because no one creates content for the sake of creating content.  Plus I’m a curious person.

My content was part of email campaigns, paid social campaigns, Google search and display—my content lived behind landing pages that had to convert for lead gen. My content served the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, and armed Sales with material to slay the competition and win business. My content was actually like that Run DMC song about Adidas (in my own mind anyway).

But seriously, even though this was only 6 years ago, it was relatively early days for marketing automation and inbound. Marketo was still a shiny new toy—and holy crap! I couldn’t stop tinkering.

To me—like so many of us—there was nothing more satisfying than not only creating the content itself, but also setting up a campaign, sending it out into the world and measuring what came back.

Here were the tools that made it all possible.

Sure, I’m creative, but I’m also a B2B marketer. What’s the point of all this creativity if I have no idea if my shit is effective? I still live in the real world of leads, opps, conversion, pipeline and revenue.

In fact nerdy unicorns who possess that rare mix of creativity, analytical thinking, and operations chops are replacing the old guard—the CMOs who focus on corporate communications, brand, and PR.

Anyway, fast forward to present time. These days I focus less on content creation and more on demand gen, ABM, and funnel optimization. I spend crazy hours bouncing from Marketo to Salesforce to Google Analytics to Excel, piecing together data and trying to answer some of marketing’s most basic (yet still very tough to unpack) questions: What the hell is working? What’s not? How should I allocate my marketing dollars over the next 4 quarters?

Sure. I wish it were easier to untangle the metrics behind multi-channel B2B marketing. Yep, I sometimes wish I could go back to focusing more on the creative side.

But here’s the greatest thing about marketing in 2017: it’s not a matter of one or the other anymore. In fact, nerdy unicorns who possess that rare mix of creativity, analytical thinking, and operations chops are replacing the old guard—the CMOs who focus on corporate communications, brand, and PR.

While I appreciate the advice and the nod to my talent, I’d rather apply data to my creativity, and use every tool in the toolbox to help marketing teams hit goals and drive revenue.

So If you need me, I’ll just be right over here. Tinkering.

Sponge can turn you into a marketing unicorn. Hop on a demo right here.

Staying on Top of Your Metrics

Marketing plans vary so wildly from team to team, it’s amazing we have a common language at all. Yet how we codify our roles and our contribution to an organization are very similar—whether we’re B2B, B2C, or in entirely dissimilar industries.

What’s one thing we all have in common? The very real need to change quickly when we have to.

Marketing goals are tied to the goals of the business: if leads are lagging or not converting, you need to spot the problem and make changes. Access to real-time metrics is key to data-driven, agile marketing.

When planning for the year ahead, any marketing team should consider flexibility. Let’s say you plan to roll out two big campaigns in the first half of the year with multi-channel programs rolling up under those campaigns.

What if your campaigns are on track, but you’re not hitting the number of leads you planned? Your goals and themes won’t change, but your channels and strategies might have to—and that’s what agile marketing is about.

Apply the 80/20 rule to your marketing plan: 80% of your campaigns and activities should be planned in advance, while the remaining 20% can be committed later as you test, learn, and iterate.

For example, if social is proving ineffective for driving leads, you’ll need to rethink your social strategy or consider replacing it with another tactic to close the gap. A tight relationship with sales and a pulse on real-time metrics are key—if something’s not working, you need to react quickly to turn things around while there’s still time to impact pipeline.

The diagram below shows an example of opp targets, lead targets, and two BACs (big ass campaigns), with channels for promotion:

Your marketing plan will most likely include an estimate of how many leads you’ll generate from each channel for each campaign.

But what if the leads you bring in from content syndication don’t convert? And what if you hit a snag in your email marketing due to list exhaustion or a blacklist? Take it from experience, it can happen, and when it does, it’s ugly. You’ll need to find a way to close the lead gap as quickly as possible.

Looking back at the end of a quarter with a shrug, “Welp, that didn’t work. Should’ve done something else,” helps no one. But using the 80/20 rule, staying on top of your metrics, and planning for agility can. It’s your best bet at staying on track—no matter what comes your way.

What key metrics should you measure? Why should your marketing plan start with company revenue goals? Here you go: The Modern Marketer’s Guide to 2017 Planning.

Revenue-Driven Marketing

As marketers, we have seen the days come and pass where marketing was a necessary expense on the balance sheet. We now are tasked with answering the question, “how are you creating revenue?” This might be daunting to some, but to those ready to adopt the analytics side of marketing and answer this question, it can be very rewarding. Showing the brass at your company you are able to provide return on investment can give you more bargaining power for things like larger budgets and say strategic decisions.

The problem that most marketers are facing is how do they go from driving demand for their company, to instead focusing on driving revenue. There might not be any perfect answer to this question, but there are however a few best practices for marketers to keep in mind. In this post we will be covering five things marketers need to do in order to drive revenue.

1) Align Marketing and Sales

You can’t win the war if you are fighting amongst yourself. Aligning marketing a sales is important to ensure that customers are hearing a single coherent message throughout the selling process. To drive revenue, you need to control costs. When it comes to marketing and sales, if you’re unaligned and require large investments in each team, then you are not maximizing your return revenue potential. Simplify the process and minimize investment for both teams by joint planning, sharing goals, and having a clear resource allocation process. Remember that both sales and marketing have a common end goal and should be working together in order to reach it.

Sales & Marketing Alignment

Sales & Marketing Alignment (Source)

2) Scale Marketing Efforts with Results

Rather than thinking your marketing teams needs more investment to reach higher revenue goals, try challenging yourself, and your team, to meet revenue goals in order to receive investments. Sales teams generally have to meet quarterly quotas to get more investment in the team, so try and apply this philosophy to your marketing team. Double the amount of revenue you making and then invest that back into your marketing efforts. Too often we see people think they need more in order to reach goals when it might be a simpler option to try and bootstrap to drive revenue.

3) Measure the Right Analytics

When you are switching from a demand generation strategy to a revenue driven strategy it is important that you are tracking the right metrics. A demand waterfall is a great way to track how well your revenue strategy is doing. If you know that you want to increase revenue from last year by 60% then think about the metrics you need to track in order to meet that goal. Set performance for your waterfall such as site visitors, leads, opportunities, and lastly closed deals. If there is a weak link in your revenue strategy you will be able to spot it.

Demand Waterfall

Demand Waterfall

4) Set The Parameters of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements)

Again, if you are going to be successful in meeting your revenue goals it is important for marketing and sales to be on the same page. One of the best ways of doing this is to define your service level agreements. Maybe it is decided that marketing will provide leads to the sales only if they meet every aspect of a defined set of qualifications. This can help sales tailor their message to these prospects since they will all be from the same background. In return, maybe marketing decides that the sales team has to speak about a certain aspect of the company’s product or service in their sales pitch.

The most important SLA that should be agreed upon is when a lead is passed from marketing to sales. This is usually a high point of friction between the two teams so make it very clear when a lead goes from marketing to the sales team.

Free Service Level Agreement Templates – Download from Tidy Forms

5) The Customer is Still The Most Important Person

It is easy to forget about the most important thing when you are focused on turning a strong profit. The customer always has been, and always will be, the most important person for a company. If you do not optimize your marketing campaigns for the person buying your product or service, then there will not be a market for it. Make the process of buying your product or service as easy and as enjoyable as possible. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what they want, and then give it to them!

Satisfied Customers

Satisfied Customers (Source)

It is important to keep in mind that not every organization is the same, and yours might have different areas that will help lead to revenue generation. As a whole though, the topics covered in this post are a great starting point for most companies to start making the switch from just driving demand, to generating revenue. Try and strip away all the fluff of driving revenue and make it a simple process. Marketing is on-boarding and nurturing prospects until they are right for sales. If you accept that your end result needs to be a sale and that is the only thing that matter; then adopting a revenue-driven marketing strategy.

We as marketers are facing increasing pressure to show the benefits of our work on the bottom line of the balance sheet. Executives want to see that we’re creating sales for the company. Switching to a revenue marketing strategy is a great way to prove the marketing teams value to stakeholders.

To learn more about how to drive revenue for your company, sign up for The Marketing Machine Playbook, a two part eBook for building an integrated marketing system designed for growth.

The Marketing Machine Playbook

Aligning Brand and Demand

Introduction

Is brand awareness a part of demand generation? No, the pure definition of demand generation nullifies this notion. Demand generation is the process of generating measurable demand for your product or service. Brand awareness on the other hand is more about maintaining a visible presence between your company and consumers. This is a practice that is not always measurable by today’s marketing metrics.

With that in mind, it is important to align your demand gen efforts with your overall brand strategy. Yes, the two are different components of the marketing mix and brand awareness is difficult to measure; but the two do have coinciding metrics that they both need to achieve. Here are the top four metrics for aligning brand awareness and demand gen:

  1. Revenue Generated
  2. Return on Investment
  3. Leads Generated
  4. Website traffic

In this post we will walk through each one of these four metrics and explain how they are reached on the demand side and how they are reached on the brand side. For this post we will be referencing a case study done by Act-On in their E-book, Rethink Marketing [Automation].

The case study by Act-On interviewed over 900 marketers about their KPI’s (key performance indicators) in terms of either demand, brand, or customer marketing. We will be focusing on brand and demand for this post and the metrics that closely align between the two.

Brand Marketing

KPI's of Brand Awareness

KPI’s of Brand Awareness (Source)

Demand Generation

KPI's of Demand Generation

KPI’s of Demand Generation (Source)

1) Revenue Generated

Revenue generated is an easy metric to wrap your head around. It simply is the amount of revenue created by a marketing “action”. This could be the revenue that comes from a full campaign, or it could be the revenue that comes from a single piece of content. Revenue generated is an important metric for everyone in the company because it applies directly to executives. Executives always want to know how much money is being made by the marketing team. This makes revenue generated an important metric to keep track of. As marketers you should be able to tell which campaigns are generating revenue. If a campaign isn’t generating revenue it needs to be changed or killed.

Brand Marketing Outlook

It seems strange that branding is concerned with revenue generation. It is difficult to track branding efforts effect on the bottom line. What many fail to realize though is that social media falls under the umbrella of branding. Social channels can be an effective means of not only prospecting, but nurturing leads once they have entered the funnel.

For example, image you have just finished recording a webinar with an SME. This webinar is aimed at on-boarding prospects into the sales funnel. Now that the webinar is done do you just wash your hands of it? NO! Now is the time to push that content out to more people. Your company’s social channels are a good source for remarketing your content. You can track who clicks on this content and if they wind up making a purchase at the end of the sales funnel to add to revenue generated. Most companies understand that sales are a long process and will assign a portion of revenue generated to a prospect clicking on a social media link to show how much total revenue was generated from branding.

“50% of B2B marketing executives find it difficult to attribute marketing activities directly to revenue results as a means to justify budgets” -CMO.com — Tweet This Quote Tweet: 50% of B2B marketing exec's find it difficult to attribute marketing activity directly to revenue results as a means to justify budgets.

Demand Gen Outlook

Demand generation has an easier path to seeing revenue generated from marketing activities. A lot like with brand marketing, a marketer on the demand team can see if a person who read their blog post wound up converting to a sale down the way and can assign revenue value to that particular blog post. This form of assigning revenue to a blog post is called attribution. Even though a consumer did not buy anything from the blog post, you still need to assign a portion of the final revenue due to it being a touchpoint on the path to conversion. Attribution is one way that marketers can help prove the benefit of their content to executives when reporting.

As I mentioned prior, executives like to see that revenue is coming from marketing activities, making it extremely important for marketers to be able to justify their content. Demand gen marketers are creating content, but the brand side of the marketing team is assisting in getting that content seen to help boost overall revenue generation for content or campaigns as a whole.

2) Return on Investment – ROI

Marketing ROI is an easy metric to guess as being important to both the brand and demand teams since almost every article on the web is referencing the importance of measuring ROI. ROI is overstated at times, but it is extremely important to businesses, especially in the marketing department. ROI is essentially the bang that you are getting for your buck, and if you are spending less and getting more in return, then you’re making effective campaigns which makes everyone’s job easier.

Brand Marketing Outlook

10 years ago, it might’ve been impossible to determine the return on investment from branding activities, but with technological advances and new tools that we now possess as marketers, it has become easier to know if you’re making an impact for your brand.

One such tool that has changed the way we measure branding ROI is Google AdWords. Google AdWords is Google’s paid advertising platform that allows user’s to pay to have their ad(s) shown for specified keywords. This may not sound like it has anything to do with branding but it does. Say you are running a branding campaign trying to get more visitors to search for a specific page on your website relating to a branded term. Over time you’ll see the fluctuations in search traffic for that term by reviewing your Google AdWord’s reports. By placing a snippet of code to the end of your URL on your ad links, Google is able to track clicks on your ads. If you see an increase in web traffic directed at a landing page coming from your ads then you know that your branding activities are paying off.

 

Demand Gen Outlook

Return on investment is very important for demand generation. The main task of a Demand Generation Director is to acquire more leads; but the second part that is often missed in that statement is that it needs to be done as cost effective as possible. It might be that you are acquiring 1,000 new leads a week and have a good conversion rate of about 30%, but if you are spending $4,000 on marketing to get those leads and your product is only worth $100 then you are missing the entire point.

When increasing demand for your business you need to be able to increase demand without increasing spending. More for less. To do this you might try and improve on your conversion rate. This is a ver effective way to increase marketing ROI because you are not driving more traffic to your site, you’re just doing a better job at getting visitors to perform a desired action. You can do this by optimizing landing pages, or call’s to actions so that they’re simpler. Make it as easy as possible to understand what to do next when landing on a page.

Another option that you might consider is to generate more leads with recycled content. Take content that is old and outdated and give it a facelift. Then take the “new” content and remarket it to bring in more customers without having to put more time into creating an entirely new piece of content.

Demand Generation Waterfall

Demand Generation Waterfall

3) Leads Generated

Generating leads is a lot more important for the demand generation team than it is for the branding side of operations, but it is still important non the less. Leads are what drive revenue for a business; the more leads you have the more potential revenue you stand to acquire. We have already talked about how important it is for brand and demand to show revenue generated, and revenue and leads go hand-in-hand.

Brand Marketing Outlook

Branding is not solely focused on generating new leads for the business as it is more of a perk when a lead comes from a branding campaign. Examples of companies that have great lead generation from branding are IBM, Nike, and Starbucks. These are not your average companies though as they possess large amounts of funding for branding, thus increasing their visible presence beyond what is normally capable. A more traditional example of branding leading to leads would be Honest Tea.

Honest Tea - National Honesty Index Campaign

Honest Tea – National Honesty Index Campaign (Source)

Honest Tea is a beverage provider owned by the Coca-Cola corporation. They possessed only a small marketing budget in their early goings. To increase brand awareness Honest Tea ran a campaign called the “National Honesty Index” where the company set up unmanned kiosks around major cities in America asking customers to give $1 and take a tea. The teas were not locked away; they were simply out in the open for anyone to take. The campaign was a huge success getting national media attention as to what city was the most honest in America. This lead to a huge influx of online visits and purchase order requests. Honest Tea is a great example of how a branding campaign can lead to unforeseen leads seeking out your business without that sole intention.

Demand Gen Outlook

Lead generation is the main KPI for anyone working in demand gen. The demand gen team and the sales team work closely together for most businesses. The task of the demand team is to acquire as many leads as they can and qualify them to then be passed along to the sales team. This is mainly done through content creation and promotion. Many sources are used to create new and exciting content. Once content is created use different channels to promote the content to different targeted prospects to help generate leads.

When the demand gen team is trying to acquire new leads, they typically take content and place it behind a “gate”. By doing this they are able to acquire information about a person that can help them make a sale down the road. An example is giving your name and email address on a signup form for a webinar. You get access to the webinar, but it also gives your information to the company to determine if you are a viable prospect.

Gated Content Signup Form

Gated Content Signup Form

4) Website Traffic 

Creating website traffic is a very simple topic. You’re trying to create something that in turn will push more users to visit your website. Why might you be wanting to do this? Maybe you’re running a sale, or want to have visitor’s signup for a webinar that is being hosted from your website. What most people fail to do properly is have an optimized website. Each page on your site should have one specific task, and you should be able to figure out what that task is within five seconds of landing on that page. Have a high converting website can make branding and demand generation campaigns much more successful.

Brand Marketing Outlook

Driving traffic to your website is one of the main focuses of brand awareness. How do you do this though? Brand awareness is in large part about understanding your target market. Having a deep understanding of your target market makes it is easier to create a message that appeals to them. Companies like Apple, Google, and BMW understand who their customers are, and as a result do a brilliant job at branding around them.

By having the proper branding message within your campaign, you’re not only enticing your current clientele to visit your website, but those that come into contact with your campaign and identify with the message. Your best chance at increasing traffic from branding is to use strong calls to action wherever possible. Your job in marketing is to act as a guide and you do not want prospects to get lost. Give them a single, easy to follow route from each touchpoint to a final sale. One CTA on every one touchpoint.

Demand Gen Outlook

Increasing traffic to your website isn’t the main task of the demand gen team, but it is an important one. Your website is a hub for sales and the more people you can get there; the higher sales numbers you will generally see. As mentioned previously, the demand gen team does a lot of content creation, and to get people to your website you need to use calls-to-action, just like the branding side of operations. Whenever you are finishing a blog post, webinar, e-book, it is a good idea to have a CTA there. The person has already shown interest in your product/service, so why not see if they are interested in more? One of the best companies at optimizing CTA’s is Hubspot. Below is a great example of one of Hubspot’s CTA’s.

Hubspot CTA

Hubspot CTA

Once a prospect has reached your website hopefully you have it optimized to convert on each of your pages. It is important to have a specific purpose for each one of your web pages. The next step on a page should be easy to notice and follow through on. The demand generation team is responsible for using content to push traffic to the website, and then follow through on the next value adding task.

Conclusion

Brand awareness and demand generation are two different segments of the marketing team. The two need to be aligned in order to obtain a successful marketing mix. This happens with constant communication. Try having a monthly, or bi-weekly meeting to ensure everyone on the marketing team understands the focus of marketing efforts. Many KPI’s align for both brand and demand, the hard part is implementing the right strategies to ensure that both brand and demand are meeting selected goals. I have always found that simpler is better. The more you can simplify the process for increasing conversions for these KPI’s the better off you will be.

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Building the Perfect Marketing Team – Step 1

The role of marketing has changed dramatically in the last decade, and the mix of people you need on your marketing team is very different than it was in the past. There are new roles and skill sets, new technologies, new mindsets and biases. When CEOs complain about their marketing department, I’ve found it’s not necessarily that the individuals on the team are incompetent. More often, it’s because the marketing team doesn’t have the right mix of skills required to achieve the CEO’s goals, which are often driven by revenue.

At my previous company, we fumbled in the dark to build out the marketing team we needed to grow from $10 million to $40 million in revenue by making a lot of mistakes. We hired the wrong people and had to let them go after too much time had passed. When I talk to other marketing leaders, they have similar stories. In this post, I’ll share a team structure that has worked for me in the past, including roles, org chart, and lessons learned on what not to do. Of course, this certainly isn’t the only way to structure your marketing team, but I hope it will provide visibility into the capabilities you need, regardless of how they’re organized.

Sample B2B Marketing Org Chart

Here’s the org chart I’d use if I were starting a new marketing team today from scratch.

Marketing Organizational Chart

Marketing Organizational Chart

I’ve organized the team into three groups: 1) brand, 2) demand generation, and 3) product marketing. Each group is led by a Director, and the whole team is led by the CMO or VP of Marketing. This marketing team is comprised of the following 13 roles:

  1. VP of Marketing
  2. Director of Brand & Communications
  3. PR & Social Media Manager
  4. Customer Marketing Manager
  5. Marketing Events Manager
  6. Director of Demand Generation
  7. Marketing Campaigns Manager
  8. Digital Marketing Manager
  9. Marketing Operations Manager
  10. Content Marketing Manager
  11. Director of Product Marketing
  12. Product Marketing Manager
  13. Analyst Relations Manager

B2B Marketing Job Descriptions

In this post, we’ll cover the top two levels, namely the VP of Marketing and the group leaders. In the next three posts in this series, we’ll do a deep dive on each group to describe the various roles and responsibilities within them.

 

CMO/VP of Marketing

Your VP of Marketing is responsible for the company’s overall marketing strategy, including messaging, campaigns, and metrics. This person is also responsible for putting the team in place to execute on the marketing plan and is a member of the executive team. This is a key hire, so this person should have the right skills to fit your organization. Do you need to grow revenue? Then you need hire someone with a strong demand generation background. Are you having trouble telling your company story? Then you need to hire someone with a strong background in product marketing. Do you need to modernize your look & feel? Then look for someone more brand-oriented. Someone once told me that when you’re recruiting a VP of Marketing, you’re looking for a mix of three skills – brand, demand gen, and product marketing – but you only get to pick two. It’s *very* rare to find all three in one person, so you’ll need to decide what’s most important for your company in the current stage.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Create, communicate, and execute on the company’s marketing strategy
  • Support sales through comprehensive demand generation programs, which may or may not include management of the business development team
  • Craft the company’s story and manage consistent communications of the marketing message with press, analysts, and the market at large
  • Own the the company’s brand, including the look & feel of all branded assets and web properties, as well as any touchpoints along the buyer’s journey
  • Manage the marketing budget to ensure efficient spend across programs
  • Develop and assist programs with quantifiable objectives to measure results of ROI

 

Director of Brand & Communications

The Director of Brand & Communications is your brand champion. They’re creative, have a strong eye for design, focus on the big picture, and manage major projects with a lot of stakeholders. They’re also a bit of a stickler. That’s a good thing – because you want someone who will be a bit bullish to set brand standards and push the rest of the organization to maintain consistency across different assets and channels. This person also works closely with the VP of Marketing to formulate the marketing message, which will influence the corporate website, press relations, and other corporate communications within their domain.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Work with internal stakeholders to formulate the company story and craft messaging in response to new competitive positioning, product releases, etc.
  • Manage the corporate website to present the marketing message in a visually compelling way (note: usually in conjunction with an agency for development support)
  • Expand company awareness through the press, social media, and events
  • Own the consistency of all touchpoints along the buyer’s journey, with a particular focus on customer engagement and happiness

Director of Demand Generation

The Director of Demand Generation is where the rubber hits the road for sales. They’re energetic, analytical, ruthlessly efficient, detail-oriented, and have a way of creating great relationships with sales without being afraid to push back on dumb ideas. This person is a truth teller and relies on data to make decisions, but ultimately has a service orientation to support sales in achieving their goals. This person owns the plan, execution, and analysis of all marketing campaigns to generate leads and opportunities. They also work closely with sales to ensure leads are followed up with appropriately to achieve the best results.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Plan and execute demand generation campaigns across all channels, including email, paid search, display advertising, content syndication, social, etc.
  • Own the marketing prospect database and maintain efforts to improve the size and quality of contacts to support future marketing campaigns
  • Analyze campaign effectiveness to maximize marketing ROI to achieve sales goals within given marketing budget
  • Manage the marketing automation system and integration with the CRM to ensure the right information is captured to handoff leads to sales and attribute campaign success
  • Own the content calendar to support demand generation efforts across channels

Director of Product Marketing

The Director of Product Marketing is responsible for ensuring that the company’s products and services resonate with the target market. They’re highly intelligent, creative, strategic thinkers who can translate convoluted technical concepts into easy-to-understand frameworks. They’re the “thought leaders” of the organization, in that they’re generating the “thoughts” that the rest of the marketing team will distribute inside and outside the company. They interface directly with clients and report back to product management on key findings, monitor the competitive landscape and marketing trends, and are responsible for the ever-misunderstood sales enablement to support new messaging, product launches, and other marketing campaigns.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Plan product launches for all new products and releases and coordinate with product management, marketing, and sales to execute a successful launch
  • Conduct regular, in-depth competitive analysis to ensure the marketing and sales teams are aware of new developments so they can speak more credibly with prospects
  • Develop all sales tools, including value propositions, competitive positioning, launch scripts, customer proof points, ROI metrics and calculations
  • Develop thought leadership for use in bylines, corporate messaging, and other content

In our next post, we’ll dive into the brand & communications group to describe the roles and responsibilities for driving brand awareness and managing consistent corporate communications. Stay tuned, and be sure to share how you structure your marketing team in the comments!

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