Effective B2B Acquisition Strategy Development

Posted by on April 16th, 2015

Lead GenerationRecently, I have been working with some of our banking and non-banking clients on supporting their B2B marketing initiatives. Our clients are aggressively looking to grow their small to mid-size business portfolios with qualified new relationships. We’re consistently working to develop effective acquisition/lead generation strategies to support the client’s goals. The use of data, analytics, multi and integrated communication channels and a robust communication delivery platform are all critical components to successful B2B acquisition/lead generation efforts.

As we begin to develop a B2B marketing campaign, the first priority is to determine clients’ objectives and how they define success. Gaining a solid understanding of the campaign objectives will determine the overall scope of the engagement. When building an acquisition/lead generation program, it’s necessary to fully understand how the client determines a qualified lead. Upfront collaboration with the client is necessary to establish a solid foundation of program requirements, from which our strategy can then evolve.

A significant amount of time and data is used in characterizing the best prospects for the campaign. Specifying the target audience relates back to the stated goals as well as how the client defines a successful lead. Analytically-based exercises are employed to create targeting tools to identify the best candidates. Profiling analysis, which leverages multiple firmographic, transactional and behavioral business data associated with previous qualified leads is conducted to hone in on the target audience. Results from past campaigns and industry knowledge is used to refine targeting criteria. Response or purchase propensity models are other tools that are effective in identifying the ideal target audience. Geographic industry data also comes into play to support the targeting effort. The more access to relevant data sources one has, the more successful this exercise will be.

The messages we send to our prospects along with the motivational factors (offer) are also important elements of a successful acquisition/lead generation campaign. When it comes to the message, it is vitally important that it’s relevant, consistent and well-timed. Each campaign touchpoint a prospect receives must reinforce and support the main focus. Regardless of the channel, the communication experience should be consistent.

Traditional, digital, mobile and telemarketing channels should be leveraged to deliver a relevant and timely message that generates an impact as well as creates meaningful dialog. Managing these relevant touchpoints using multiple marketing channels requires a well thought out communication strategy. Utilizing a robust decisioning and delivery platform or marketing automation system helps to manage the contact flow. A well-designed and maintained marketing automation platform delivers a steady stream of qualified leads to the appropriate small to mid-sized business sales team. It’s been determined that a marketing automation platform can improve the sales effort. According to Forrester Research, B2B marketers experienced a 10 percent increase in sales pipeline contribution when marketing automation was implemented.1

Marketing automation platforms help us to understand the prospect behaviors and leverages that insight to execute refined and relevant follow-up contacts. In addition, campaign reporting can easily be consolidated and automated within the platform

A successful B2B acquisition/lead generation strategy in today’s marketing environment has many moving parts. It’s imperative to understand the objective of an initiative. What does the initiative need to achieve success, and what defines success? Then, finding the best and most responsive prospects is a time-involved process, but when done correctly, it can yield great results. It’s important to find a motivator to give the prospects a reason to listen. A solid communication strategy plan needs to be devised to speak relevantly to the audience at the most opportune time and using the best channel for each touchpoint. Combining all these elements of data/data sources, targeting rules, communication strategy, channels, reporting, etc. into a marketing automation platform allows for a more efficient process for managing the campaign.

Follow these guidelines and best practices and then you’re ahead of the pack in supporting your B2B marketing efforts.

Source:

1. Forrester Research. Market Intelligence Report:  B2B Marketing Automation Platforms 2015: A Marketer’s Guide.

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Inspiration

Posted by on April 14th, 2015

InspirationIt’s easy to get lost in day-to-day tasks. You fall into a routine where you complete your work and produce whatever you are assigned to produce. It’s efficient, but can be monotonous. And after a while, everything looks and sounds the same.

When I feel this way, I know I need some inspiration. It doesn’t have to come from the same well as the work you do every day. It can come from anywhere. I’m visual, so I am affected by everything I see around me. I try to surround myself with creative things that make me smile, so that when I look up from the computer, I see something that offers me a mental break and has a positive effect on my daily work.

Need some inspiration? I have some for you.

For new words and ideas:

A.Word.A.Day
Fast Company, Co.Create. Daily

Creative inspiration in a corporate environment:

Orbiting the Giant Hairball

Sometimes instead of looking for a font to suit a project, I look at fonts and think, “what can I make with these?”

Sudtipos
My current favorite, the lovely Piel Script.

Seeing how someone else puts together a newsletter gives me ideas:

Webby Awards: Email Newsletters

Practical, and yet, not boring at all:

Fillerati
TypeCast

Random Inspiration:

10×10
External Heart Drive

Today’s soundtrack:

This Must Be The Place: The Talking Heads

I hope my sources of inspiration are useful to give your work some color, meaning and flair. Look in the mirror and see yourself as a bright spot in a sea of uniformity and don’t be afraid to add a little pizazz to your next email design.

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Living The American Dream…. In Debt?

Posted by on April 10th, 2015

Financial Literacy MonthFor many Americans, money-related decisions are made on a daily basis. But, if asked, they could not confidently say they have budgeted out their yearly, monthly or even weekly finances. Without an umbrella of financial protection for a potential rainy day, many people are moving away from financial stability and slowing slipping towards a financial black hole. Americans today are technologically savvy, digitally communicative and innovatively advanced, but, when it comes to money and knowledge on important financial topics, they are missing the mark.

More than 75 percent of American families say they live paycheck to paycheck.This staggering statistic illustrates the need for financial education, especially considering more than 25 percent of Americans have no savings at all.These same people often worry about their financial futures, but do not have the proper guidance from financial institutions to ensure financial stability and awareness.

Proper financial education isn’t something that is taught to students at an academic level, and many Americans lack direction due to a poor understanding of important financial topics. The need for financial education is evident. In fact, in a financial literacy survey, 40 percent of adults gave themselves a grade of C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance.3

April is financial literacy month and a great time for financial institutions to advocate healthy financial living. The Federal Financial Literacy Commission — comprised of 20 government groups, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — promotes five essential areas of focus for account holder education. These topics include: earning, borrowing, saving and investing, spending and protecting. Digging deeper into these topics and taking action to educate account holders can help them attain financial well-being and security.

Properly educated Americans can plan for the future, eliminate debt and resolve any financial issues they may have. By providing guidance and offering relevant information, financial institutions can help account holders achieve financial stability.

Sources:
1. http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/24/pf/emergency-savings/
2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/americans-savings_n_3478932.html
3. https://institute.inceptia.org/national-consumer-financial-literacy-survey-results-for-2013/

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8 Tips To Improve Your Writing

Posted by on April 8th, 2015

Writing TipsIf you don’t start strong, readers have a reason to leave. If you don’t finish strong, they have a reason to forget. I’ve had the opportunity to produce a great deal of content at various stops on my professional journey, but I’ve tried to never lose sight of this “bookend” focus whether writing articles, scripting video voiceovers, producing white papers, constructing presentations, and so on.

The bookend focus is one example of the type of direction I give myself when it comes to content production. Here are a few more examples you may want to add to your own bag of content generation tricks:

1. Avoid blanket statements

Literal readers would question a statement such as, “every brand now recognizes the importance of social media,” and with good reason. Unless there is a statistic to back up such a claim, it comes across as a throwaway line that is very likely to be inaccurate, neither of which are assumptions I would want associated with my work. It takes some practice, but eliminating blanket statements can not only make writing sound more considered, but more importantly, it helps avoid making claims that can’t be substantiated.

2. Be creative, not repetitive

Common articles such as “the” and “a/an” don’t offer many alternatives, but wherever possible, it pays to eliminate repeat uses of the same word in a given sentence or even paragraph.

For example, take the following sentence:

This blog post is geared toward marketers who produce content for their organization with tips that can be applied toward their own blogs, videos, or any other types of content they might be producing in support of their marketing initiatives.

It’s not the worst thing ever, but listen to how much more polished it feels by simply eliminating the repetitive words:

This article is geared toward professionals who produce content for their organization with tips that can be applied toward blog posts, videos, or any other types of materials they might be generating in support of marketing initiatives.

Not only did I use unique alternatives for words such as blog (article), marketers (professionals) and content (materials), but I also eliminated the repetition of “their” because it was clearly implied who “they” were at the beginning of the sentence.

3. If it’s obvious, it should be obvious without you actually saying it

More of a personal pet peeve, and something I’ve probably been guilty of at some point, would be the use of words like “Clearly” and “Obviously” to begin a sentence. On the one hand, the content of that sentence may not necessarily be clear or obvious to the reader, so the insinuation is that they should know more than they do. At a minimum, it begs the question, “why re-state the obvious?”

4. Make it digestible

Early in my career I was writing for a newspaper and generating thousands of words of copy each week. I enjoyed what I was doing and bristled at the idea that people didn’t have time to sit down and read an entire newspaper full of long-form articles. Fast-forward 11 years, and I can now admit how wrong I was. Long-form is becoming the exception with entire websites dedicated to a steady stream of top-10 lists and other bite-sized formats, some of which almost entirely eschew text in favor of animated GIFs and videos. That doesn’t necessarily make your next 8-page white paper a pointless endeavor, but it’s worth evaluating any content you produce to identify opportunities where it can be streamlined or if it’s worth producing multiple formats to appeal to different members of your audience.

5. Arrangement is everything

The first four tips on this list are things that can become good habits over time, but sentence arrangement is a bit different. Even very skilled writers don’t always have the perfect flow when the words first hit the page/screen, but understanding how best to re-arrange a collection of thoughts can make a world of difference. This re-arrangement can involve moving entire paragraphs, shifting sentences within a paragraph or even shifting clauses within a single sentence. When you read through something you’ve written, and it doesn’t sound quite right, don’t be so quick to highlight and delete — in many cases, you’ve got the right thoughts, they just aren’t in the right place.

6. Don’t be Dr. Frankenstein

From time to time you may find yourself in a position where you’ve received contributions from other individuals around a common topic. Put it all together and you’ve got 1,000 words of copy, which is great because your word limit for the project in question is only 500. Should be easy, right? I’ve been there plenty of times, and in my experience, the voices of each contributor are so different that everything needs to be re-written to achieve any level of consistency. This is also a very common occurrence with slide show presentations only the “voice” of contributors in that situation comes in the form of the copy, graphics and the general formatting of the slide decks. Save yourself some time (and headaches), don’t try to be Dr. Frankenstein.

7. Forget the safety net

In many professional settings, the point of origin is not the point of approval for new content. This can lead to the “safety net” mindset where the goal of producing ready-to-use content competes with the knowledge that it will  pass through several hands (and rounds of revisions) before it can ever be published. While the frustration with such processes is understandable, submitting anything less than a best effort for approvals not only slows those processes down by guaranteeing small scale changes, but also reflects poorly on the author. A good rule of thumb is to always imagine that there are no approval processes, and what you consider “final” will bear not only your company’s name, but your name as well.

8. Sometimes you need to start over

It’s a horrible feeling, but there are times when ideas just don’t go anywhere. You may start with a great introduction and soon realize the topic isn’t quite as meaty as you thought it was. Other times, you end up with several ideas that don’t mesh well enough to work as a standalone piece of content. The trick to starting over is making sure you don’t wait too long. If I feel like I’m approaching this point, I step away from the project for some period of time and focus on something else for at least 30 minutes or longer depending on the level of urgency. If I come back and still struggle to make progress, I usually go back to the drawing board. Those original ideas still have value, however, so even if you’re resigned to the fact that it’s time to start over, make sure to save a copy of the work done to that point for future reference and/or inspiration.

If content is king, as I’ve often heard in marketing circles, those of us who produce that content are in position to make a tremendous impact. Developing your own “rules to live by” when it comes to content generation can not only help you make that impact, but ensure that you’re proud of what you ultimately produce.

I’ll leave you with something a writing instructor once told me that I’ve never forgotten: The problem with the blank page is that there are an infinite number of ways to fill it poorly — don’t forget that the glass can be half full, there are an infinite number of ways to do it beautifully.

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Understanding Statistical Significance and Response Rates

Posted by on April 7th, 2015

One of the most important issues when conducting survey research is to determine the number of returned survey responses necessary to produce valid and reliable results. To this end, we need to consider statistical significance.

To meet these requirements, the accepted percentage for both the confidence level and confidence interval must be determined. The confidence level describes the uncertainty of a sampling method. The generally accepted confidence level utilized in survey research is .95 or 95 percent. Basically, meeting this confidence level indicates that if the study was to be conducted 100 times, the results would fall within the same margins 95 percent of the time.

The confidence interval, also referred to as the margin of error, denotes the range of acceptable error for the data. The most readily accepted margin of error for survey research is five percent, whereby the percentages of data results are known to fall within this margin of error.

If we were to conduct a survey and receive a response sample large enough to meet both the accepted confidence level and confidence interval, we can assume the following:

  • If we were to conduct this survey 100 more times, we would produce the same results 95 percent of the time with the true percentage falling within a range of -5 to +5 percent of the identified percentage. This is the acceptable confidence level and interval to statistically consider the collected data both valid and reliable

Once the confidence level and interval are determined, then the required sample size can be determined. The formula to calculate sample size requirements for statistical significance takes into account many factors, and the calculation is neither intuitive nor linear. Typically, the lower the population size, the higher the percentage for the required sample size. For example, a population of 100 individuals would require a sample size of 79 responses.  However, at a certain point, the sample size necessary to meet statistical significance in terms of representing the entire population reaches a maximum of 384 (many researcher round the number to 400).

Media Browser

A practical example of the interpretation of confidence level and confidence interval would be if you were to survey a population and receive the appropriate number of responses to meet the 95 percent level and five percent interval requirements then you would be confident that the data was both reliable and valid in understanding the results in the following manner:

A statistically significant number of participants responded the following question:

“How satisfied are you with Product X”?

If 80 percent responded that they were satisfied, then you can be assured that if you were to ask this same question to the required number of individuals in a given population 100 times, the results you would consistently achieve would be that satisfaction would be reported by between 75 percent and 85 percent, for 95 of the administrations.

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