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    January 7, 2013 // 5:30 PM

    4 Failing Marketing Relationships You Need to Fix ASAP

    Written by Rosalia Cefalu | @

    marketing relationships intermediate

    You know when you’ve been in a bad relationship for so long that it’s almost impossible to end it? There’s a disconnect between you two, but it almost seems like more effort to go through a breakup (or a patch up) than to just ... leave it like it is.

    Well it’s the new year, and not that we’re trying to be your new life coach or anything, but we don’t want to see you go through 2013 like this. That’s why we’re going to suggest a new year's resolution for you: fix one of these 4 damaged relationships in your marketing strategy.

    Are you actually connecting with your customers through email? Is your sales team upset with your marketing team for sending them subpar leads? It’s tough being a marketer when you have to manage so many relationships internally, externally, online, and offline. That's why we want to make sure you keep these big picture relationships in mind. If you identify these rifts and solve them with these tips, you’ll even be able to accomplish your other resolution of slimming down ...

    ... on marketing spend! Slimming down on marketing spend.

    1) Between You and Your Website

    The truth is, no one should have more control over your website than you. It’s the face of your business and the first impression a visitor has of you, so it should be a reflection of your company’s standards. If you want to convince your visitors that you offer a top-of-the-line service that will benefit them, then your site should be just as top notch and useful. There’s no doubt about it, SEO is hugely important in attracting leads .

    But once a visitor lands on your site, none of that optimization will matter if your page is difficult to navigate or doesn’t contain useful, up-to-date information that’s easy to find. Visitors will leave your page faster than they hang up on telemarketers. Here are some ways to keep control over your site so it's working to help you meet your marketing goals.

    Keep it in house.

    Lots of marketers think they need to outsource their website design and management in order to get a professional looking site that performs well. The problem is, making any changes to this new site can prove to be a huge headache. You’ll have to call your IT team in to make changes, wait days or weeks for a design agency to modify anything, and even pay hundreds of dollars just to create a landing page. Truth is, it’s totally possible to create a great looking website with no coding or design experience. If you use a content manager -- like HubSpot or WordPress, for example -- you can easily create a site from scratch and customize it without touching any code.

    Keep it simple.

    Forget about flashy animations or plastering every color in the rainbow all over your site. Studies show that these types of bells and whistles distract consumers from your main offering and will lead visitors off your site. In fact, web design has taken a turn in the last few years toward a cleaner, simpler look and feel. Just take these 15 brilliantly designed homepages for example. The reason they’re so brilliant? They’re simple, feature lots of white space and have a clear call-to-action that easily guides visitors towards their next move. Here, take a gander at this one from Mint.com, just for inspiration:

     

    Mint resized 600 resized 600

     

    Learn basic HTML.

    Wait! Don’t run away yet! We’re not telling you to become an HTML expert; we just want to help you avoid a fight-or-flight response every time you see some code. If you look at one of our HTML cheat sheet blog posts , you can easily learn what the most common HTML tags mean. That way, when you need to slightly modify a color, font size, or add a block of text, you can avoid outsourcing it to another company or department (autonomy for the win!)

    How real marketers did it.

    Sarah Ryan, a marketer at Dublin's  Pearse Trust , used to spend a week going back and forth with an external web designer just to add a call-to-action or create a new landing page . Now that she manages her own site, she’s getting the same things done in less than an hour. By taking control of her company’s site, she’s increased their traffic from 1,000 hits a month to 15,000/month , and sees hundreds of more leads coming in than before. If you want to own your site and get a promotion like Sarah did, you should read exactly how she did it .

    2) Between You and Your Customer

    It’s no longer good enough to have a great product. Companies need to have a great brand and customer relationships, too. I mean, do you think 5 million people bought the iPhone 5 in its first weekend because a headphone jack on the bottom of the phone is sooo cool? No way. They emptied their wallets because they LOVE Apple as a brand , and trust it enough to buy whatever product it releases. That’s why it’s so important to engage with your customers in a way that leaves them feeling positive about you.

    Personalize and target your content.

    Just because you put each of your siblings’ names on their Christmas present doesn’t mean it's personalized to each of them when they open to find the same pair of reindeer-printed toe socks. It’s the same thing if all you’re doing to personalize your emails is including a subject line that says “Hey, John.” You’re only strengthening the relationship with your leads and customers when that email has information that John actually wants to read. When you nurture your leads with content relevant to their behaviors and needs, you bring them further along in the sales cycle and they walk away from the interaction feeling like your company is actually interested in being helpful to them, not just in closing a deal (sounds like a great way to build brand equity, right?). There's no doubt about this kind of lead nurturing's benefits: according to Econsultancy , 68% of marketers say personalization based on behavioral data has a high impact on ROI, and 74% say it has a high impact on engagement. 

    Lead nurturing doesn’t have to be difficult. If you use a marketing automation system that’s integrated with your contacts database, there's a few things you can do to leverage the data you have on your leads.

     

    list seg 450

    1) Segment your lists. There are tons of ways to segment your email lists based on properties like geographic location or behaviors like which of your pages they’ve visited. And it’s not just about leaving your leads with a fuzzy feeling about your company. Research from the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report shows that  39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.

    2) Nurture your leads with workflows. You should set up workflows that trigger actions based on things your lead has done, like sending them more information on a topic once they’ve read three of your blog posts on it. Not only does nurturing leads shorten the sales cycle by 23% according to Market2Lead , but it also leaves your potential customers looking at your company as an ally, not a disturbance.

    3) Personalize with relevant content.  Use your lead's profile to tailor the offers you're sending them. If they always view your blog posts on jogging tips but never on weight lifting practices, stop sending them information on this year's Mr. Universe Contest.  Aberdeen Group  research shows that personalized emails improve clickthrough rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% . In the end, personalizing your content isn’t about showing off how cool it is that you have lots of information about your leads (in fact, that can be creepy). Even if you know your lead is browsing your site with Windows 8, it doesn’t make any sense to publicize that you know that information if you’re trying to sell them life insurance. Online privacy is a growing concern for consumers -- don’t come off as one of the bad guys by personalizing without a good reason .

    How real marketers did it.

    Chris Clothier's real estate firm Memphis Invest works with lots of remote customers, so he knew it was imperative to connect with them online. When he started blogging, he says, “All of our marketing changed from how good we are, to how does the customer make the best choice and decision for themselves.” By providing useful content to his audience, he saw his sales increase 260% in 2 years. If you want to land your company on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list like he did, you should read more about how he did it .

    Results.com obviously has a seriously powerful domain name. But their traditional marketing tactics weren't growing their business. After adopting lead nurturing and marketing automation tools like targeted emails and workflows, Stephen Lynch of Results.com says he was able to “build the relationships and trust we need in order to be recognized as experts in the business execution field.” Not only did their leads increase by 288%, leads from referrals increased by 200% in just a year . You might want to read more about how they use marketing automation if you want happy customers to drive you leads like theirs did.

    3) Between Marketing and Sales

    It’s no secret that Marketing and Sales haven’t always been BFFLs, but generating consistent revenue and growth requires both teams to play nice with each other. It's not that Marketing isn't as important as Sales (trust us, a marketer is writing this!), but at the end of the day (and sales cycle), it's about dollar bills. When Marketing and Sales efforts are well-aligned, nurtured leads have a 23% shorter sales cycle. That means there's a higher ROI for your marketing efforts than when you're sending along unnurtured leads. If you follow some of these tips, you'll be able to better align Marketing and Sales to make your funnel more effective.

    Speak the same language.

    Marketing and Sales teams often have different definitions of what makes a lead "sales qualified." Maybe your marketing team thinks a lead is ready once they’ve downloaded at least three offers, but Sales finds that leads aren’t really ready until they’ve viewed some of your customer success stories. According to research by Marketing Sherpa, 78% of B2B marketers said  "generating high-quality leads" was their biggest obstacle , not "generating a high volume of leads." So what if you don't know what your sales team considers a high-quality lead?

    Have a conversation about it. In fact, it might take a few meetings if you’re just getting started. If you want to make your lives easier, use lead intelligence that identifies exactly what actions the most qualified leads are taking to nail down these definitions. Once you solidify the qualifying behaviors and actions, you can score those leads accordingly and deliver only the best leads to your sales team.

    lifecyclestages revised resized 600

    Integrate your sales and marketing software.

    If you’re practicing inbound marketing , then you know the whole point is to attract qualified leads who are already warmed up to your business. Content creation like blogging can attract lots of potential leads for you to pass off to Sales, but if both teams don’t have access to the same information about a potential lead, then you’re missing out on the most powerful part of your data. By integrating a centralized marketing database and a CRM system (we use HubSpot and Salesforce), Sales will be able to approach a call with a complete picture of a lead by looking at what offers they’ve downloaded, pages they’ve seen, or how they’ve interacted over email and social media. On the flipside, feedback and data from the sales team will enable marketers to identify which of their offers best prepare leads for a purchase, and how to better nurture their leads in the future.

    How real marketers did it.

    Mimio , an educational technology company under Rubbermaid, spent a year trying to integrate all of their different marketing platforms with their sales and marketing alignment tool, Salesforce. The whole idea of having Salesforce to manage leads was great, but Marketing wasn’t able to get information about leads from email, landing pages, social media, and website visits all in one place. This meant that nurturing those leads effectively, scoring them, and sharing all of that information with Sales was nearly impossible. After integrating their marketing database with Salesforce, however, they developed a lead scoring, nurturing, and content development plan around HubSpot’s lifecycle stages . If you want to send Sales more qualified leads and exceed your leads goals by 40% every month like Mimio did, you can read more about how they did it here .

    4) Between Online and Offline Marketing

    Unless you own Jekyll and Hyde, LLC, your audience should view you as a company with one unified personality. Once you’ve decided to give inbound marketing a try , it’s important to streamline your offline and online efforts not only to enhance brand consistency, but to also make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Even if your company doesn’t specialize in cutting edge digital technologies, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on all the leads everyone else is getting online! Integrating inbound into your strategy helps to drive more leads, and you can even use inbound principles to enhance the outbound strategies you hold on to. Here's how: 

    1) Drop the Yellow Pages. Think anyone still flips through that big yellow book -- the one with no educational information or customer reviews -- to find your service anymore? Think again. It’s called Google, and now that over 50% of senior citizens are on the internet , online marketing isn’t just for targeting those young whippersnappers anymore.

    2) Make your website a funnel, not a brochure. A good company website gives a visitor information on the business, its offerings, and how to reach them. A great company website pulls customers in and educates them with free content, has clear calls-to-action to direct them further down the sales cycle, and landing pages that offer things like coupons or appointment requests to close deals.

    3) Keep your efforts consistent. We’re not suggesting that you eliminate ALL offline marketing efforts. But once you start using analytics to measure your most effective online marketing offers, you’ll soon realize the importance of clearly directing leads to specific places in order to move them down your funnel . If you’re handing out brochures at a trade show to attract customers to your new dog walking services, don’t just direct them to your main homepage. Send them to a landing page with more information on dog walking, or a form to talk to a representative about signing up.

    How real marketers did it.

    Sinclair Heating Cooling & Plumbing , a company based in Texas, used to spend up to $7,000 a month on yellow page ads. By moving his marketing efforts online, office administrator Daniel Sinclair has been able to get found easily by customers, use his site as a lead generating machine (not a brochure), and has generated over $50,000 in revenue for his business off of one call-to-action button he used to direct visitors to an offer. If you want to prove the ROI of your online marketing, see how Sinclair did it here .

    What other failing or flailing relationships should marketers be working harder to improve?

    Image credit: ImNotQuiteJack

    Topics: Lead Management Design

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