Guest post by Elizabeth Cagen (learn more about the author at the end of the article):
B2B sales are complex, and become even more complicated when navigating massive amounts of data. Many marketers are overwhelmed by vast, messy data and give up, waiting for a magical graph to direct them. Unfortunately, magic is an unreliable marketing formula.
Marketers get into this predicament because they don’t have the software, tools or tracking in place to understand the entire sales cycle. As a result, significant data goes unused, and these marketers get caught up in an unproductive “hamster wheel,” trying aimlessly to convert prospects to customers.
This is INSANE. It won’t you get anywhere.
To maximize marketing results, address all three steps in the sales funnel – top, middle and bottom – uniquely. Don’t just focus on one layer of the funnel, hoping everything else will magically fall into place.
Instead, configure distinct marketing campaigns to broaden your reach, and to nurture and close your leads. This means defining your marketing mix, implementing the corresponding tracking, and testing like crazy. Schedule time – and a process – to analyze the data, so you can change your marketing and maximize success. By working methodically, you’ll go from being stuck and frustrated to securing measurable results.
There are several approaches – amateur and pro – to handling the various levels of the sales funnel.
Top of the Funnel
Amateur: They cast a wide net to extend their reach, throwing their ads anywhere and everywhere, hoping to attract interest. This is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.
Pro: Pro marketers take a skilled approach by regularly analyzing data. Which marketing activities generate the greatest reach among target audiences? Which ads attract clicks? What sites drive traffic and the highest converting leads? This provides insight into prospects’ motivation and drive – and determines where to best reach them.
A software company targets different industries, yet the data shows that the legal industry provides the largest volume of leads and the highest lifetime value, so it’s smart to target this audience specifically. Utilize specialty top-of-the-funnel tactics, like Bizo display advertising, which reaches 85% of the US business population and targets users by industry and job title. This is a more skilled decision than throwing a display ad on a huge network, unsure who will see it.
More sophisticated targeting yields better results. A software company targeting the legal profession recently utilized Bizo’s capabilities and increased traffic to their site by 220% within three months.
Middle of the Funnel
Amateur: This is where most marketers get lost. They aren’t sure how to proceed after the top-of-the-funnel brand touchpoint. They stop and move to bottom-of-the-funnel tactics, skipping this all-important middle layer.
Pro: Pro marketers take the time to nurture and develop leads into customers in the middle-of-the-funnel and don’t use a “one-size fits all” approach. They ensure their nurturing process is customized per lead type. Try using sophisticated lead nurturing software, such as Marketo or Hubspot. These tools provide the ability to track audience behavior and automate email and content delivery accordingly. Create a customized lead-nurturing program to dramatically increase the lead-to-customer rate.
A leading third-party provider of enterprise software support was using outdated tools and old email tactics, which led to many leads untouched and opportunities missed. They partnered with Marketo and implemented a customized daily email marketing campaign to improve overall performance. In the first year, they experienced an impressive 44% growth. They finished the first year with the largest sales quarter in the company’s history, having increased customer renewals to an all time high of more than 95%.
Bottom of the Funnel
Amateur: Many marketers stick to the basics here, such as branded paid search, basic ad copy and landing page testing. Yet, there are so many other worthwhile opportunities to consider.
Pro: Instead of sticking to the “same old” tactics, pro marketers analyze data across the entire sales funnel to understand where the most profitable customers are coming from – and what drives them. What channels are their most profitable customers coming from? What content on their site are they most interested in? They look beyond total leads, focusing on the most profitable leads.
A software company reviewed their internal data and realized their highest value customers were converting on a specific ad copy theme and landing pages in their branded paid search campaigns. They took these learnings and rolled out the top performing branded ad copy and landing pages to their non-branded paid search campaigns. In just one week, overall paid search leads increased 14%!
Use data through each layer of the sales funnel to drive impressive revenue growth. Analyzing the data in each layer – and taking concrete, targeted actions based on this information – will dramatically improve marketing results. Test and tweak each campaign to find the optimal flow from prospect to new customer conversion.
About the Author
Elizabeth Cagen, Digital Marketing NOW’s Director of Strategy and Operations, has developed digital strategies and managed marketing campaigns for some of the largest companies in the world, including Staples, Merck, and Brooks Brothers. Prior to her work in digital media, Elizabeth worked on traditional media campaigns for Toyota, AT&T Wireless, and AstraZeneca. Digital Marketing NOW offers strategy, web development, design, SEO, paid search marketing, conversion optimization, display advertising, analytics and more.