Demand Generation

Four Ways Companies are Underutilizing Marketing Automation Systems

Marketing automation is technology that lets you engage with buyers and influence sales in a way that makes your marketing and sales team more effective.

According to one study, nurtured leads produce an average 20% increase in opportunities compared to non‑nurtured leads. Imagine if you could instantly make your whole marketing budget 20% more effective. That 20% will produce a large ROI in additional sales revenue.

The goal of most marketing automation programs is to increase the quality of the leads that are generated, and increase the productivity of the marketing team and the sales force. If the marketing automation program is implemented correctly, it will result in measurable improvements in the form of higher campaign conversion rates, higher email open rates, higher sales close rates, and a shorter sales cycle.

In my experience, there are four ways that people are underutilizing their marketing automation systems: [Read more…]

Nowspeed Webinar: “Website Optimization for Demand Generation and High ROI”

Now’s the time to register for tomorrow’s (Tuesday, May 19, from 12 PM-1 PM EST) complimentary one-hour webinar, “Website Optimization for Demand Generation and High ROI.”

Led by my colleague, Justin Barton, a fellow Creative Director at Nowspeed, this webinar will be based on the content of Justin’s exciting, new eBook, “Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation?” This eBook is eight chapters and 7,000+ words on everything from branding and messaging to copywriting and content, functionality and coding to landing pages and lead capture strategy (including plenty of real-world examples) – and anyone who attends Justin’s webinar will not only learn all about it, but also get a free copy of it.

To register to attend this webinar, contact Dave Reske (DReske@nowspeed.com) or Justin Barton (jbarton@nowspeed.com) at Nowspeed and they’ll send you all the necessary login information, etc. We hope you can make it….

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Landing Pages & Lead Capture: Post 9 of 9

Your landing pages should be exceptional. Why? Because they’re where your marketing dollars become real ROI as leads or transactions, or don’t. This may seem like an obvious truism, but I’m constantly finding landing pages that just don’t cut it. What’s going wrong is a fundamental misunderstanding of what landing pages can do well and what they can’t. In this post, I’ll explore what makes a successful landing page, and give you a framework for analyzing your own landing pages to see if they’re fully optimized.

I’ve heard the term “landing page” used in reference to a wide variety of web pages, from home pages to press releases. Wikipedia defines a landing page as “the page that appears when a potential customer clicks on an advertisement or a search-engine result link.” All of the pages of your website, blog or anything you’ve posted online anywhere for any reason could fit this loose definition, but only incidentally.

When I hear this kind of broad application of the term “landing page,” I almost always find a lack of attention to the fulfillment piece of a client’s marketing and advertising efforts. An effective landing page is a final destination; there’s no more searching to be done because it is specifically designed to be the end of the marketing program it serves. If you or your vendor are using generic web pages as landing pages for demand generation, you aren’t getting the maximum potential return from your marketing efforts.

This type of landing page is also referred to as a transactional landing page, which, according to Wikipedia, “seeks to persuade a visitor to complete a transaction such as filling out a form or interacting with advertisements or other objects on the landing page, with the goal being the immediate or eventual sale of a product or service.” No matter how much you dress it up, if you’re focused on accomplishing something other than converting web traffic into leads and sales, like building brand awareness or qualifying leads, you’re diminishing your landing page’s effectiveness as a lead capture mechanism.

To put it plainly, it’s all about the offer. I’d say at least 80%. Since your landing page’s purpose is to encourage a transaction, it’s critical to create a perception of even exchange. You need to offer your visitor something of equal or greater value to what you’re asking them to give you. For this to happen, your offer should line up to your visitor’s needs and where they are in the buying cycle. Free trials and product demos can be very effective for prospects late in the buying cycle, close to making a purchase decision. Conversely, ebooks and white papers may work well for early-stage prospects still investigating products or services in an effort to make an informed decision. What will work for your target audience and your buying cycle will undoubtedly be unique, and testing is really the only good way to know for certain.

Once you’ve found a good offer, it’s time to focus on the other 20% — how well you present the offer and how easy it is for the visitor to take the plunge and transact. Though the quality and relevancy of your offer is key (see my last post on CRM Software Integration), even a small change in conversion rate can mean a huge uptick in your marketing campaign results, so this last 20% is definitely worth going after. Ask yourself the following to determine if you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your landing page and taking full advantage of your offers:

  1. Is your offer aligned with the needs of your target audience? Is it compelling to your prospects in consideration of where they are in the buying cycle?
  2. Is your offer overly self-serving in subject matter? Does it promise real value to your visitor with highly relevant, current and useful information or functionality?
  3. Are you asking your visitor for too much information? If you have more than eight form fields to fill out, are those extra fields necessary? Are there questions that are potentially irrelevant or unnecessary (remember that a landing page is a bad place to do lead qualification)?
  4. Are you conveying the full value of your offer, with images of the offer, call-outs and examples of the important information or functionality it contains? Does the offer look appealing and of high value?
  5. Are the headlines, copy and graphics arresting and persuasive? Could they do a better job of selling the visitor on the offer?
  6. Are the critical elements of the page including the form, offer image, key value proposition and call-to-action easy to find and above the fold?
  7. Is the copy written so it is easy to scan with bullets and call-outs? Is the most important, offer-focused copy on top?
  8. Is there a clear and legible privacy statement?
  9. Is there a single, clear call-to action? Does it compete with other interactive elements of the page such as navigation?

Despite the best-practices implied by these questions, there’s really no single template that can be applied to every landing page to make it perform better. Innovation is critical in both your offer and landing page. If most of your competitors offer a white paper about a particular topic, offer an ebook that gives a fresh perspective on the subject. Experiment with changing the information you require in order to access your offers, or try adding an incentive. Above all, test what works best for your target audience. Respect the principal of even exchange, and you will reap the reward of eager potential customers in your sales pipeline.

Note: This is the final post of a nine-post series entitled, “Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation?”  To read more of Justin’s series, just follow the links below…

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Introduction: Post 1 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Branding & Messaging: Post 2 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Information Architecture: Post 3 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Copywriting & Content: Post 4 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Design: Post 5 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Functionality & Coding: Post 6 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Content Management Systems: Post 7of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? CRM Software Integration: Post 8 of 9

For more information on website optimization, check out Nowspeed’s eight chapter eBook “Is Your Website Optimizated for Demand Generation and High ROI?”

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? CRM Software Integration: Post 8 of 9

If you know what Customer Relationship Management Software is, then you’ve probably considered how your sales leads, prospects, opportunities, potential customers, or whatever you call them should be managed as they trickle down the sales funnel towards becoming customers. In this post, I’m going to be discussing the mouth of that funnel, and its barriers of entry. For the purposes of this post, I’ll be calling potential customers at this stage leads.

Your CRM system is where your demand generation programs and sales efforts meet. A smooth transition is critical to optimizing success on both sides. However, conflicting objectives, different criteria of lead quality and countless other potential pitfalls may cause the process to break down. When a good potential lead is sitting on the precipice of your sales funnel, the last thing you want to do is discourage them from diving in, or even worse, cause them to climb right back out after testing the waters.

Your website has the power to profoundly influence all stages of the buying cycle. In the world of web 2.0, what really matters is offering potential leads compelling content to get over the hump and take the plunge (see my fourth post in this series on copywriting and content to read more). But this is all for naught if the expectations set by your promise of good content aren’t followed through into the sales funnel and beyond.

Here’s a recent real-life example: I find an analyst report about a type of product I’m considering purchasing for my creative team on a vendor’s website. It looks helpful so I enter my info. So far, so good. Instead of getting the report, however, I’m taken to another web page telling me my request has been received, and I’ll be followed up with shortly. Okay, that’s a little annoying. I gave them my information right away. Why am I being made to wait?

Next in line is an automated email: “In order to access this report, you’ll need to enter your user name and password on our website. One of our sales representatives will provide you with your user name and password after we review your information…” Okay, now I’m really frustrated, and I’m feeling like this whole thing has been a big waste of time.

It was a waste of time. The report was from 2005, and it really didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know. I backed out of that sales funnel as quickly as possible, opted-out of the emails I started receiving automatically, and deleted the messages and emails from their sales rep.

The lesson here is: If you’re optimizing your website for demand generation, don’t fumble the ball when it’s first and goal on the two yard line. Consider the back end processes that deliver on the promises you’re making in your campaigns. If you have a CRM system and software, or even a marketing automation/lead nurture system, make sure that it is integrated seamlessly into your website with the website visitor in mind. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Are the lead capture mechanisms on my website such as web forms easy to use for visitors? Is there one simple step that can be completed in less than a minute?
  2. Am I sacrificing ease-of-use for valuable lead qualification information unnecessarily? A major symptom of this is applying questions unilaterally to different stages of the buying cycle. For example, early-stage leads may not know their budget or purchase time frame yet, and asking these questions could discourage them from completing your form.
  3. Do submitted web forms automatically generate a lead or contact record in my CRM system or marketing automation system? If records are being entered manually from a separate system, does this delay my response to requests, or make it impossible to be responsive 24/7? Does it Introduce human error into the process?
  4. Is the promise of the call to action on my lead capture form fulfilled when a visitor hits the submit button? For example, does “Get the free trial now” result in instant access to a free trial? The distance in time and effort between what is promised and reality is indirectly proportional to the trust and confidence you’ve established at this touch-point.

I’ve seen many successful demand generation programs fall down in their transition to CRM systems. Like any hand-off, a smooth outcome is often the result of careful planning. If your sales and marketing teams are butting heads about how to treat leads at this stage, it might be worth considering a lead-nurture/lead-qualification program before the hand-off occurs.

In the final post of this series, I’ll take today’s topic one step further, and explore best practices in developing and designing high-performance landing pages that capture leads.

Note: This is post eight of a nine-post series entitled, “Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation?”  To read more of Justin’s series, just follow the links below…

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Introduction: Post 1 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Branding & Messaging: Post 2 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Information Architecture: Post 3 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Copywriting & Content: Post 4 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Design: Post 5 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Functionality & Coding: Post 6 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Content Management Systems: Post 7of 9

For more information on website optimization, check out Nowspeed’s eight chapter eBook “Is Your Website Optimizated for Demand Generation and High ROI?”

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Content Management Systems: Post 7 of 9

In my fourth post in this series on copywriting & content, I discussed the importance of highly relevant, “link-worthy” content on websites for engaging your target audience and driving demand for your products and services. In this post, I’ll address the challenges of creating, posting and keeping content fresh and exciting for your website visitors. This is the realm of the CMS (Content Management System) — and deciding whether you should invest in such a system and what features are going to have the greatest impact on your bottom line is a huge (but very worthwhile) undertaking.

A well-built CMS can significantly reduce the cost in resources of managing your website, especially in terms of making small content changes on an ongoing basis. However, it is unlikely that this alone will offset the investment in development, implementation and technical maintenance (more stakeholders managing a larger website will likely realize a larger cost savings). Fortunately, a CMS also brings many qualitative advantages which can lead to big gains in your website’s demand generation performance.

The ability to post and update website content often by distributing the responsibility to more stakeholders is key. This blog, for example, is made possible by WordPress and its excellent content authoring and management system. YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia all owe some of their success to a CMS distributing the ability to contribute and publish content. The web is evolving toward transparent, user-generated content, and your visitor’s expectations are following this trend. An older web page filled with brand messaging and static information will be marginally effective compared to a page updated every two weeks with recent success stories from actual customers.

The right CMS functionality can also have a big impact on how effectively your website presents relevant content to each of your target markets. Your visitor’s web browser, for example, can inform your CMS what content to serve up based on their past behavior on your website, latest click-path, what keywords they searched on, and many other factors. Take it one step further, and encourage your visitors to create a log-in. This will enable you to provide an even more engaging customized experience, and will also give you vital insight into your potential customers’ behavior.

So how do you determine if a Content Management System should be part of your website optimization strategy? Ask yourself and your marketing/web design team the following:

  1. Do you need to update your website frequently? Is there a growing amount of out-of-date content that you lack the internal resources to manage?
  2. Are you challenged with controlling the quality of the content being published and produced by your internal marketing or web development team? Are you often finding layout errors, broken links or other less-than-optimal conditions on your live site?
  3. Would giving multiple departments and individuals the ability to produce and publish content improve the website experience for your visitors?
  4. Would your customers or potential customers benefit from a more customized website experience, possibly behind a log-in?
  5. Are you looking to optimize your website to promote cross-sell and up-sell opportunities?

If you aren’t using your CMS to create a more engaging, relevant experience for your visitors, you aren’t using it to its fullest or maximizing your ROI. In the next post of this series, I’ll discuss the importance of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software integration, and how it can be leveraged to improve your website’s demand generation performance.

Note: This is post seven of a nine-post series entitled, “Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation?”  To read more of Justin’s series, just follow the links below…

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Introduction: Post 1 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Branding & Messaging: Post 2 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Information Architecture: Post 3 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Copywriting & Content: Post 4 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Design: Post 5 of 9

Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation? Functionality & Coding: Post 6 of 9

For more information on website optimization, check out Nowspeed’s eight chapter eBook “Is Your Website Optimizated for Demand Generation and High ROI?”