Lead Generation

Demographics vs Intent: The Power of Marketing to Prospects that are In-Market-Now
Lead Generation - Search Engine Marketing

Marketing Series at the Manchester Ink Link

That’s right. Your’s truly and your favorite Manchester NH digital publication the Manchester Ink Link are collaborating on a series of marketing topics to help businesses improve marketing and lead generation programs in a competitive economy. 

Our fist installment is live now. Visit the Manchester Ink Link to read Demographics vs Intent: The Power of Marketing to Prospects that are In-Market-Now.

Stay tuned as our next installment is coming soon!

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Equipment Leasing Leads
Lead Generation - NH Inbound Marketing Agency - Search Engine Marketing

Equipment Financing & Leasing Leads, Comparing Lead Gen Channels

The equipment financing and leasing industry is a great study in lead generation channels. Between banks, private lenders and brokers the industry is incredibly competitive and heavily saturated. This makes lead generation a priority, and just like other industries, there are a lot of options out there.

Having personally managed acquisition lead generation for a large financing company in my state I can assure you each lead gen channel has its pros and cons.

Below is some helpful information I learned over the years for you to benefit from. For comparison, I will go from my least favorite to most favorite to give you a sense of direction. Enjoy!

 

Cold Calling

Let’s just start here, since every sales person, small company and independent broker begins with the art of the cold call. Or, as I like to call it, brute force.

PROS: The great thing about cold calling is you only need some prospects to call and telephone and you are in business. It’s a low barrier to entry and very inexpensive in terms of equipment and technology. However, this is about where the pros end.

CONS: Cold calling may be a simple and affordable way to get started but there are many pitfalls. First, it can take up to 100 cold calls to find a prospect that will answer the phone, be willing to speak with you and be in-market for financing. Not to mention if they are even a fundable prospect.

Quality of the data is also a factor like most channels, but bad information can hurt in this channel especially. It’s great that it won’t cost you much in equipment and technology, but you will make up for that in your time trying to capture lightening in a bottle.

 

Radio & Television

PROS: Talk about a large potential reach! Radio and television reach millions of people every single day. A captured audience in their cars or homes where you can target them with your message means the message is delivered, even if only half attention is paid.

CONS: The cost of radio and television advertising is astronomical and tracking back to mid and bottom of your pipeline is almost impossible. Intent also isn’t there as this is mainly an awareness play for bigger companies with even bigger budgets.

 

Social Media

PROS: Social media can be the bane my existence, but there is no denying how many people are logging on and hanging out each day on the various social media platforms. This offers an opportunity for you to get in front of a large audience very quickly, and usually for a less money than some other lead generation channels. This channel also offers some tracking ability depending on where you send a prospect post click, and tractability is very important when it comes to tracking your marketing and lead generation performance.

CONS: Sure, there are a lot of people on social media. They are looking at peoples lunches, concert photos and baby pictures. Sounds like a great time to say hey! You need some financing for your business? In marketing we have a saying, the right message at the right time. I would include, in the right place, and I question if this is the place.

If you have budget to burn and want to see if you can generate leads from social media go for it. At least you can track it through your pipeline if done properly. Otherwise this is more of awareness play where eyeballs will suffice over pure lead generation and return on investment. It also lacks the in-market intent we look for in a lead generation channel.

 

Direct Mail

PROS: Direct mail may be dying, but it’s not dead just yet. As long as the postal service will deliver a piece of mail there is some opportunity. This channel must be married to quality and accurate lead data to be sure you are hitting the right mail boxes but bulk mail can offer some leverage in reaching out to prospects. It’s another demographic play and with good data and perhaps a post mailer landing page or phone tracking you layer some tracking on top of the program for insights. If you can leverage a trigger for more targeted mailings you may be able to get some intent involved as well.

CONS: This channel certainly qualifies as a shotgun approach and what you mail is as important as who you mail it too so effectiveness can be all over the map. Tracking is difficult even with some phone and digital mixed in here, never providing the complete performance picture. Cost is also an issue, as printing and postage can add up quickly.

 

SEO

PROS: Cracking the top rankings for a relevant search term with the proper intent can pay huge dividends in the long run, paying out like a annuity. You can match the content to the searchers need via your targeted keywords. Most businesses have a resident expert that can generate original content so it doesn’t always require outside help or a new employee.

CONS: Most mid to large sized financing companies have a department of employees that churn out content every week. Search engine results pages reward large web site conglomerates and directories, further clouding the results. It takes time for content to achieve ranking, and age of content matters. Google changes its algorithm on a regular basis, which can wipe out all your rankings over night. True optimization may also require changes to your web site in addition to your content and that can require a specialist.

 

Lead Aggregators

PROS: There are two types of models within this segment. The Buyerzone model, where you can buy leads for a low cost, and the Lendio model, where they provide leads to direct lenders for free and charge a commission on funded deals. Leads are generally inexpensive and in abundant supply, and you can put requirements the prospect must meet before you purchase the lead. You can also track these leads through your entire pipeline to track performance. Plus, they always have more, meaning you can attempt to scale by purchasing more leads.

CONS: In the Buyerzone model these companies sell the leads multiple times. If the prospect submitted their information at more than one of these sites, they can be sold upwards of ten or more times, creating a confusing and frustrating experience for the prospect, and a highly competitive selling situation. I’ve even experienced prospects that thought they sent us an application when in reality they sent it to someone else. In the Lendio model, Lendio ultimately decides which funding proposal the prospect sees based in part on which lender is offering them the biggest commission. If this isn’t you, your offer may never make it to the prospect, even if it is the better deal.

 

Email

PROS: Email has become much less of the wild west in the last five years. Service providers better restrict who you can mail to and what makes it into an inbox versus junk or spam. This channel works best when you have a home grown list of interested users and triggers that allow you to email with a purpose. For example, emailing a user that visits your site and exists in your database that doesn’t call or submit a form but spent a good deal of time looking at multiple pages. Email is also very tractable, providing solid insight into what is happening throughout the funnel. If you can organically grow a large database you can generate some consistent lead flow as a result.

CONS: Although service providers have gotten better, they aren’t perfect. With so many financing companies and agents out there competition is fierce, spamming is an issue and over mailing can exhaust your list unless you can grow it faster than your attrition rate. The better uses of email that get away from just mass mailing take a level of technology, people and infrastructure that smaller companies probably can’t afford. Plus, people are tuning out email more and more after years of emails showing up in their inbox and intent isn’t there unless done properly.

 

Search Engines (A.K.A PPC, Pay Per Click, Paid Search Marketing & Search Engine Marketing)

PROS: Tractable, repeatable and ROI positive. These three attributes are the holy grail of marketing. You can target in-market-now prospects based on intent and in some cases what they are searching for, right at the moment they are indicating they need it. You can control your messaging yet change it quickly, get to market quickly and control your spend. This means financing companies of all sizes can compete. It’s tractable from every penny you spend to every penny you make. And it’s repeatable, providing a solid lever you can pull year after year to grow your business.

CONS: By far my favorite channel, but it’s not without a downside. You need a skilled professional that understands both the financing world and how to use the paid search marketing tools. There are up front costs to get everything set up and running. And you need a budget to fund the advertising spend. 

*To be clear, we are talking about search marketing, not display or banner marketing.

So there it is. A first person experience with lead generation for equipment financing & leasing companies. If you’d like some help generating leads for your equipment financing company, by all means reach out using our contact form!

 

A Note About Triggers and Automation

Many channels can move more toward an intent based marketing and lead generation play if you can implement triggers and automation.

For example, UCC filings were used for call and direct mail campaigns. Web site visitors can be targeted based off behavior if their contact information is in your database. Email openers can be targeted for an immediate phone call for a live contact campaign.

Find the triggers that can help you identify when a user is easily contactable or in-market-now for a better chance at generating that lead. 

 

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Google Adwords Review
Lead Generation - NH Inbound Marketing Agency - Search Engine Marketing

Google Rep Calling to ‘help’? You Better Beware.

“You Could Benefit from a Free Consultation with a Google Representative”

If you use Adwords you may have seen or heard something like this by now. Either an alert in your account advising how you can beat your competition by reviewing your account with a Google rep, or maybe you had one call you directly offering to help. Either way, what sounds like a fantastic opportunity to get some truth right from the source isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

That isn’t to say it won’t be helpful. Reviewing your account with someone trained in all the system’s capabilities may provide insights into using the various tools at your disposal. You might even learn a new way to use features already deployed in your campaigns. Which can certainly be considered a positive thing. At the end of the day, I’d recommend that you do it, but…

So What’s the Problem?

First let me set the stage by letting you know that since I manage multiple client accounts I’ve fielded many of the calls with Google representatives. And since they rotate out every six months I receive a minimum of 2 calls a year, multiplied by all the accounts I manage, every year.

Now, you can say Google’s efforts are well intentioned, or you can say that it is Google’s job to get you to spend more money and this is one way of doing it. Both views could be correct. But that isn’t the primary issue at hand.

“I’m from Google, and I’m Here to Help”

Words that are supposed to fill you with a sense of confidence should make you stop and think for a moment. Who, exactly, are you speaking with at Google? And what, precisely, is their experience in running profitable Adwords programs?

Are they a new employee just out of training? Have they served in an advisory capacity for years? I recommend asking these questions before you get into any serious discussion about your programs. Yes, these employees are trained in the various tools of the Adwords system. But that is where their experience usually ends. The sad truth is that I have yet to speak with a representative that has run a real world paid search marketing program profitably. Not one yet. Period. Full stop.

In addition to that, they have zero idea of why you might be deploying certain settings or tools in any given campaign. They have been told that using X setting/tool/method will make you more successful, because Google told them so. So it must be true!

They may not understand you’ve made a choice to forego call extensions because you prefer to have more tractability even if it might result in a slightly lower conversion rate. Or that you want to receive leads only during business hours because your live contact rate increase results in more sales. Or you are using manual bid strategies to muscle your ads into the top 3 to see how you perform against the top competition.

Context is incredibly important when discussing something as complex as Adwords. Combine that with the fact they rotate every six months so even if you did manage to educate one representative you find yourself starting all over again, twice per year.

In my experience these Google reps have zero real world experience running active campaigns with their job on the line if it isn’t profitable. They are trained in the tools of Adwords and their job is to call clients and get them to use tools that will increase the amount of money Google extracts from your wallet, without any idea of if they will truly work or how to best deploy them.

A great example of this is the enhanced CPC that focus on conversions. Things may have changed, and every client is different, but so far everywhere I’ve tested this setting it has resulted in higher cost per conversions and lower conversion rates. The exact opposite of what they tell you will happen. Interesting, no?

What Should I Do?

As mentioned above, I would schedule the call and review your account with the representative. However, do not change anything in real time. Take good notes, then have some deep internal discussions about the pros and cons of each recommendation to make sure anything you implement matches your ability, tracking and goals.

Then, should you decide to implement a recommendation, be sure to do it in a way that you can test and track to an outcome. If the outcome is positive, you now have a new tool in your tool box to deploy throughout your program. If the outcome is negative, you can quickly revert back to your previous state.

The golden rule of using Google Adwords is first, do no harm. Implementing too many changes that negatively effect your performance is a recipe for disaster. So be smart and skeptical in your interactions with Google. And always remember, they have Google’s best interest at heart, not yours.

 

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Google Adwords Click to Call Extensions
Lead Generation - Mobile Marketing - Search Engine Marketing

Pros and Cons of the Google Adwords Call Extension

Want an easy method to increase your Google Adwords conversion rates? Here is a quick and easy suggestion. Try adding a call extension to your ads.

Why Should I Add Call Extensions?

Because the mobile revolution has come and gone. According to a Search Engine Land report in August 2017, 57% of traffic is now from smartphones and tablets. That is one heck of a lot of opportunity to get in front of your prospect at the moment they can take action.

From my testing call extensions with various clients I can confirm that in most cases, including a phone call extension to your Adwords ad will indeed increase conversion. A side benefit is the increase in live contact rate achieved if you are answering the calls in real time. There is something to be said for saving time chasing down a prospect that filled out a form to get live contact. You can also qualify prospects faster and push them further into your funnel before the competition does.

Setup only takes a few minutes. You will need to go into your campaign to the extensions tab and add a call extension. That is the easy part. But let’s not forget the tracking. To track calls as conversions you will need to go to tools and select conversions. Then set up a click to call conversion and apply the settings that make most sense for your goals. Once you’ve finished that, go to the account/ad group/keyword level (whichever you want to see the call conversion data for) and add the phone conversion column. But beware, from my conversations with Google the best way to track them accurately is to look at the clicks on the extension, or the click by device segment.

Too Good to Be True?

So it’s all good, right? Well, not so fast. There is a down side to call conversions that you need to know.

First, for what you gain in conversion and live contact you will lose in tracking down funnel. Using a custom phone number or call conversion tracking gets you the top of funnel information you need. But when the call comes in how will your sales team identify it is from Google Adwords? Will they input the lead into the system tagged to the right lead source? Manual intervention always results in tracking errors so training is important here. But even if you create a fool proof system, there is still a big hole.

That hole comes in the shape of knowing what campaign generated the lead. With all but the most sophisticated setup, you simply won’t. Seeing overall contribution by channel is important, but ROI based marketing means knowing exactly which campaigns are generating ROI positive production. You can’t focus your budget or efforts around something if you don’t know what is happening.

So what should you do? Well, it depends. We have clients that forgo click to call in favor better tracking, and others that add click to call knowing they will be missing part of the down funnel performance data. I certainly recommend using it if you have the right training and systems internally. I also recommend that you figure out a baseline of Adwords performance and apply it to the call volumes you receive. If you convert X percentage of Adwords leads for X sales dollars or profit, apply that to the calls and add it as a line item on your performance tracking to give yourself some sense of the click to call contribution to your ROI.

Want more information regarding click to call tracking? Below are some quick links to help.

Google: About Call Extensions

Google: About Phone Call Conversion Tracking

Google: Track Calls to a Phone Number on a Web Site

Search Engine Land: Mobile Traffic Report

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Lead Generation Equipment Financing Companies
Lead Generation - Search Engine Marketing

Did Your Needalender Leads Get Shut Off?

It started a few months ago. A surge in phone calls from equipment financing companies and equipment financing brokers looking for lead generation help. While it’s certainly not unusual for us to field inquiries about lead generation for the financing industry, the surge felt out of place. So we asked everyone what prompted them to call us.

The common theme? They had all been cut off from Needalender.com leads. I’m not sure of the reason, nor am I here to speculate. What I will say is that this is a blessing in disguise for these lenders and brokers. They just didn’t know it at the time.

Why, You Ask?

Simple. There are better alternatives for generating in-market-now leads exclusive to your company. Having worked in a position where it was my responsibility to purchase leads from companies like this I can share some of my experience with you.

  • Sometimes the leads were aged days or weeks
  • Latency from when the prospect filled out their form to when we received it made live contact more difficult
  • The lead was usually sold multiple times, to you and your direct competition
  • Prospects often got confused about who they were talking too since so many companies were contacting them at once
  • Multiple lead vendors would sometimes send us the same lead

The truth of it all is that we once in a great while one of these leads would fund a solid sized deal, just enough to make it worth our time. If it wasn’t for this occasional large deal we wouldn’t have bothered with these leads at all. They just weren’t good enough or exclusive enough to be a good driver of growth for the business.

A Better Way

So is there a better method of lead generation for equipment financing lenders and brokers? Well, let me ask you…

  • What if you could receive your leads and distribute them to your sales team the minute they were submitted?
  • What if that resulted in a significant increase in your live contact rates and reduced your time/effort to make contact?
  • What if the lead was yours exclusively, with little or no competition?
  • What if you could continue to generate more of these in-market-now leads in a predictable way?

Would these things help you grow your equipment financing business? Absolutely. And it’s why paid search lead generation is the best method of attracting in-market-now prospects looking for financing.

It is one of the few channels that allows you to target prospects at the very moment they are looking for financing and provides the data to help you track every penny you invest all the way to your return on investment. It’s scalable, repeatable and predictable, and that provides you with a lever you can pull every year to grow.

Want to learn more? Download our free whitepaper and learn all about the benefits of lead generation via paid search marketing.

 

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Lead Generation for Managed IT Services Companies
Lead Generation - Search Engine Marketing

Lead Generation for IT Managed Services Companies

Like many managed IT services companies you may be relying on outbound calling to generate leads for your business. After all, it’s the way it’s always been done. And if you want to grow, more leads means more sales people doing more cold calling.

One of the challenges with the outbound call model is its inherent inefficiency. How many calls does a member of your sales team need to make to find a prospect that is both interested and in-market-now for managed IT services?

Having worked with companies in this space I can tell you it’s a lot. Depending on where the data originates from, the ability to get the decision maker on the phone, the happenstance of them actively looking for managed IT services and being open to an outsourced solution, that number can reach oppressive heights.

Now imagine what is possible if your sales team was having meaningful conversations with in-market-now prospects rather than spending time on all those wasted cold calls?

Lead Generation for Managed IT Services Companies

Getting In-Market-Now Prospects to Come to You

I know what you are thinking. If it was that simple to get prospects coming to us we’d be doing it by now. I won’t tell you that it is easy. But I can tell you that business owners are in fact searching for your service, every day, and in droves. And that is the beauty of paid search marketing.

In this day and age when a business needs to find qualified managed IT service providers they inevitably go online to find options using Google, Yahoo and Bing. If you aren’t there, you are allowing your competitors to cherry pick the best prospects right from under your nose.

The right paid search technician can put you in front of business owners searching for managed IT services at them moment they are in-market, and get them coming right to your door. They can also teach you how to manage leads effectively to generate a positive ROI.

Demographic marketing allows you to target someone that looks similar to your ideal customer. Unfortunately, you never know if they are a true prospect, or if/when they will be in market for managed IT services.

Intent based marketing allows you to target prospects as they enter the consideration and decision stage of the buyer’s journey based off the words and phrases they use in their Google search. Targeting them at the very moment they are in-market for managed IT services.

Marketing to the Buyer's Journey

Just imagine all the prospects searching for your services every day. You could be marketing to them at the very moment they are in market for managed IT services.  This intent based marketing targeting in-market-now prospects is more powerful then demographic marketing can ever hope to be. Plus, it’s linear, tractable and repeatable!

How many prospects are searching for IT, application, technology or cloud services in a given month? Below is some data straight from Google to give you a sense of the opportunity in front of you.

Lead Generation for IT Managed Services Companies

 

Look at how much opportunity you are missing. Above is a small example, and for those four keywords alone Google estimates close to 82,000 related searches (impressions) in one month in the U.S. OneMonth

When you focus your sales team’s efforts on having meaningful conversations with in-market-now prospects instead of marginally effective cold calls you will change the entire trajectory of your managed IT services company.

And this is just the impact on your acquisition channel. Factor in the contribution from follow-on retention deals, cross selling other services and referrals generated from new customers and you are talking about a powerful feeder mechanism you can count on year after year to fuel your company’s growth.

Set the Stage for Success. Build the Proper Foundation.

Routing and Managing Inbound Leads

Before you get your paid search program up and running it’s important to remember that processes must be put in place for making sure you get the most out of each lead generated.

You will need to address issues like how the leads are imported into your CRM software. How you will route leads to the best sales people in a timely manner. What your campaign name nomenclature will look like. Whether you will tag just the lead, or also the account and any associated opportunity to paid search.

All of this is important in helping to be sure no leads are lost, that they are contacted in a timely fashion, that input errors are kept to a minimum and that full channel reporting will be possible down the line to justify investment in the channel.

Don’t Forget to Integrate Your Sales Team

Even with the best lead management and sales processes in place, you might find that a good portion of your leads will be closed due to no contact. To combat this you will need to be sure your sales team is trained with a very clear set of expectations on how to handle these leads. The leads should be imported or input to your CRM immediately, routed to sales just as fast, and called by your sales rep within 5 minutes or less of arriving to give you the best shot at making live contact to qualify the lead.

It’s also critical that your sales team is trained to put any lead into their name and set up proper activities and opportunities tagged to the paid search channel in your CRM to be sure there is proper action and accountability. Sales personnel at or above the median performance are the only ones that should be allowed to work the lead channel.

If a lead is closed lost, they must be marking it as such and tagging it with the appropriate reason why so the account can enter the lead nurture phase for reclamation through marketing automation. After all, it takes a fair amount of effort and resources to generate these leads. You cannot, and must not let them go to waste.

Robust Reporting is Critical

Sure the front end of paid search tools will provide you with a wealth of information on how many conversions you have, what the cost per click or conversion is, your conversion percentage and more. But there is a lot that it won’t tell you that you will need to know. In particular, what happens in the second half of your funnel once a lead enters your sales process.

You’ll need a good look at additional metrics to answer questions like how long before a lead is contacted? What is your lead to opportunity and opportunity to deal ratios? What is your revenue generated in first deals and subsequent follow on deals? Which of your sales reps convert the most leads? What are the reasons for leads closed lost and what percentages are they?

This type of information allows you to adjust your strategies and hone your sales team and processes to be the most effective they can be. The ideal way accomplish this is by importing front end and back end data in to a data warehouse, where you can pull answers from all the important questions into reporting to help manage the program. For the less sophisticated, it’s critical to craft what you can to tie in as much data as you can while working towards a more robust solution in the long term. After all, if you want to have confidence in where you invest your marketing dollars, you need to know what’s happening at every phase of the lead conversion process.

The Snowball Effect

Your initial conversion rate on the first lead for a prospect is important in gauging the effectiveness of your efforts. But when marketing for ROI it’s just as important to understand the impact of lead generation today, tomorrow and after the first sale. Sure some prospects will close quickly. Others may take more time than your initial sales person has patience for so they move on. And yet others will be cold leads that can be reactivated by your lead nurturing program. 

Lead Generation for Managed IT Services Companies

To truly know the impact of paid search lead generation for your managed IT services company you have to see the snowball that grows as you get better at generating a higher volume and quality of leads. This means slicing and dicing performance and looking at conversion by calendar instead of static, percentage and volume of second and third contracts, lifetime revenue of channel customers and other important performance metrics that will guide your investment over time.

This is the tip of the iceberg when thinking about lead generation and lead nurturing for your managed IT services company. If you are interested in learning more about this powerful lead generation mechanism, contact us to set up a free consultation today.

Want to learn more about how we can help you generate more sales via paid search marketing? Visit our paid search marketing services page.

Schedule a Free Consultation with our Email Marketing Experts

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SEO vs Keyword Quality Score
Lead Generation - Search Engine Marketing

Should You Use Native Web Site Pages as PPC Landing Pages?

One of the great things about collaborating with fellow digital marketers is the variety of perspectives you encounter. When competing opinions arise in the process of creating successful programs for a client it forces you to really think about why you are making a recommendation and to defend your position with facts and reason.

This very thing happened recently regarding a client that hired us to create and manage their paid search marketing campaign, while a second company was hired to build a new web site and handle the search engine optimization efforts.

The discussion boiled down to the following case for using native web site product pages as paid search landing pages.

  • We believe that building quality pages is the key to a proper web site.
  • We will optimize the site to rank for relevant keywords and optimize the product pages to be the best they can be.
  • We believe that paid search marketing is a temporary strategy and that landing pages are not necessary as our product pages will be awesome.
  • A couple of the paid search landing pages have 85% duplicate content and we believe that will hurt our SEO efforts.
  • We should instead take the time and effort to improve quality score using the native product pages instead of using landing pages.

Are They Wrong?

No, and yes.

Read the full article from our friends at the Paid Search Society to find out why!

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Google Removes Right Side Ads
Lead Generation - Marketing News - Search Engine Marketing - Search Engine Optimization

Google Removes Right Side Ads, Marketers Lose Their Collective Minds

It’s been quite a few weeks in the world of Paid Search Marketing. Google recently announced, and carried out, removal of their right side of the page pay per click ads. In the weeks that followed the intertubes were full of doomsday, the sky is falling predictions. We take a more measured approach, and here is what we think it means for paid search marketing in the near future.

A Little Perspective

The right side and bottom of page results only accounted for 14.6% of the clicks in January 2016. So we are talking about losing only a segment of those clicks. BUT added a listing up top, and are now showing more ad extensions in the results pages. (Stat via WordStream)

Non Technical Users are the Biggest Losers

There is still a large contingent of search engine users that aren’t aware that their are paid ads at the top of search engine results pages. It was much clearer that the right side listings were in fact ads. These non-technical users now have one more listing above the fold in most cases, and they probably still won’t notice the difference. But that might mean…

Paid Search Advertisers are the Biggest Winners

At least regarding these non-technical users. More ads up top, and less on the side, could mean more users click on our advertisements instead. And after all, that is one of our main goals. So this could be a net win.

SEO Becomes a Little More Problematic

As if the larger companies, national brands and directory sites weren’t making it hard enough to rank on the first results page organically, now there is one less spot available in the organic listings. Add to this the one additional paid listing at the top pushing organic results further below the fold and our jobs in search engine optimization just got a little bit more complicated.

Campaign Focus Just Got Even More Important

Targeting and campaign specificity just got more critical to running profitable paid search programs. If you haven’t been running more specific campaigns rather than fewer high volume general campaigns now is the time to make the switch. Better optimization means better performance. Time to get on the train.

A Hidden Opportunity?

It’s certainly possible we’ll see an increase in cost per click across the board. Or, we may end up weeding out some of the less sophisticated competition that is currently driving up cost. These exits from the competitive landscape could be just what the rest of us need to better break through the noise.

So it looks like a mixed bag in terms of results. Hopefully we’ll see the fallout start to take shape over the next few months. If you see changes in your program that you think are related to the change, please let us know!

Related Paid Search Marketing Articles

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Marketing Performance Reports
Lead Generation - Marketing Analytics - Marketing News - Performance Reporting

3 Sales & Marketing Reports You Need Right Now

As marketing and sales managers we are increasingly responsible for the performance of our lead generation efforts. Our digital & inbound marketing agency is no different. Being able to draw the line from spend to return on investment is a critical activity not only for gauging current success, but also for planning future activity and investment. With that in mind I offer you three reports you should create, and monitor, right now.

Open Leads with No Activity Set and Not in a Sales Reps Name

Lead leakage is real, even if you have a sophisticated system of importing leads into your CRM, some will fall through the cracks. What better way to increase your ROI then by making sure you are getting the most out of the leads you have today. This report will offer you a way to manage leads that, for whatever reason, are not being worked. Hence they are open but not tagged to any sales rep, and have no future activity set.

In one organization with high lead flow from our Paid Search Marketing campaign, we caught 25 to 40ish leads per day that had fallen off the radar for a variety of reasons. Imagine how much we would have lost without this valuable report. Whether it was a failure to import, sales rep sloppiness, or employee turnover, we were able to identify potential issues in our sales process while at the same time ensuring each lead was worked and nothing went to waste.

Pro Tip: A report for open leads with no activity set that are in a sales reps name is also important for making sure leads that are claimed are being worked.

Sales Rep Performance by Lead Channel

Testing your way into new lead sources? Great. But you have an important decision to make. Distribute them evenly to your team, or put them in the hands of your most trusted sales reps? Either way, you need to identify the top performing sales people in every channel. Our solution, create a report showing performance by lead source by sales rep. Anyone that drifts below the average channel performance is removed and a new rep that is hungry for an opportunity is added to the lead flow. This will help ensure you are getting the most out of your lead sources, and giving each new lead source the best chance of success. Bonus benefit, keeping your sales team honest. ; )

Pro Tip: In my experience sales people are better at some lead channels than others. As odd as that sounds, it makes it very important to play to their strengths, and provide them with leads they are good at closing.

Acquisition and Retention Contribution of a Lead Channel

As a performance based marketing agency you can be sure we are always looking at ROI as the key metric to any marketing program’s success. Problem is, most reports only use your immediate ROI based off of the profits from a customers first purchase in the calculation. Smart marketers know that it’s less expensive to keep a current customer (and keep them buying) than it is to find new ones. This means that all retention purchases are an important part of the puzzle and need to be accounted for when evaluating the overall performance of a channel. It just might be OK to break even, or even manage a small loss, on the first sale if we know that repeat business will be profitable down the line. It also allows us to track a lead channel’s performance based on overall profitability, in addition to immediate profitability, as a second method of evaluating where to invest marketing dollars in the future.

Pro Tip: The importance of a lead doesn’t end at your first sale. Managing your leads once they hit the retention phase of your business can pay huge dividends.

Put these three reports in place and be sure to manage your efforts to them. I guarantee you will become a more profitable business going forward.

Have any questions or don’t know where to start? Contact me to schedule a free consultation and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction.

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Why Inbound Marketing Beats Print Media
eCommerce Strategies - Lead Generation - Marketing News - NH Inbound Marketing Agency - Web Site Marketing

If I Only Had a $1,000 Dollars

The Controversy

I recently published a post titled, So You Want to Advertise in the NH Business Review?, that appears to have sparked a little controversy in our marketing community. The basic premise of this article being, if you can’t track marketing spend to ROI of an ad in a publication, but can in other channels, why would you choose the one isn’t providing clear, and actionable results that grow your bottom line?

Comments poured in from both sides of the aisle. From those that loved the article for espousing ROI based Inbound Marketing and those that felt otherwise. I appreciate and welcome the spirited debate among our community.

The most common theme of the less positive responses to my initial article talked about the critical nature of a ‘marketing mix’, ‘delivering your marketing messages across multiple platforms’ and creating ‘multiple touches’.

While there is something to be said for these concepts, they are just that, concepts. When the rubber meets the road, the mix is less important than the effectiveness of the mix’s components. Advertising in a particular channel just because a ‘marketing mix’ is a good practice conceptually, makes very little sense. Results are what keep companies afloat.

It’s inspired me to author this follow on article exploring the concept, If I Only Had $1,000 Dollars. Because let’s face it, most NH businesses are small, and their marketing budgets are not on par with a large corporation’s. Which means a lot less room for error. Performance based, ROI driven marketing is all about maximizing spend and getting the most trackable bang for your marketing buck. And if it were my company, my family, my employees on the line, and I only had $1,000 per month to invest in marketing or go belly up, what would I do?

Inbound Marketing Ideas

A Little Reality Based Exercise

Let’s pretend that you are a business owner in NH. The fate of your company, your family and your employees is all at stake, each and every day. Competition is fierce, and prospects are cutting you out of the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. You have only $1,000 budgeted to spend per month to generate new business this year, and if you fail to drive a positive ROI, you go out of business, failing everyone involved. You need to invest this money in the place that gives you the largest amount of quality marketable data & leads, trackable to ROI, and the ability to scale the program each month to stay alive and grow. What do you do?

Advertising in a Local Print Publication

You decide to invest your $1,000 per month budget on a small ad in a local print publication. We can safely assume that of the publication’s circulation, some percentage of recipients will open it and read or scan something, a percentage of those people will end up reading or scanning the specific page with your ad, and a percentage of those people will digest your advertisement.

Our verifiable result? We can assume that we got some amount of views, generated some awareness and maybe, a lead(s). We cannot calculate how much we just spent per view etc. because we don’t know the percentages that receive, open, read your page/ad. Without that we can’t assume much down the pipeline. More importantly, we don’t know where any of the audience is in the buyer’s journey or intent that allows us to customize our messaging for maximum effectiveness. We generated no marketable data, most likely no identifiable leads, and have no real ability to scale the effort. And to boot, any benefits end soon after the next issue is released. OK.

What’s Possible with Inbound Marketing

How about we try another path? We take your $1,000 per month budget and create an attractive content piece aimed at a specific prospect persona in a particular stage of the buyer’s journey. We put out digital hooks to that content piece via PR outlets, social media and a mix of other low or no cost channels. We also optimize a page at our web site to draw organic visitors, and email an advertisement to our database of prospects. We put that content piece behind a short form requiring a name and email address so we can generate more marketable data (to market to over time) as well as leads for our sales team to contact.

Then, we take another portion of that budget and invest in a paid search strategy, targeting keywords that infer the proper intent of prospects that are in-market-now and actively searching for your product or service. We connect our ads to a well crafted landing page with a form, so even leads that we can’t contact can be marketed to (and nurtured) over time.

Finally, we put a lead nurturing process in place using email marketing tied to actions/statuses in our CRM. Leads that progress through the process are helped along, and leads that are closed-lost for recoverable reasons are put into an automated email marketing chain in an attempt to reactivate them.

Our verifiable result? We can track visitors to our content page, and marketable contacts & leads generated from our lead capture form, from the various places where we placed our digital hooks, including opens, clicks and conversions from our email campaign. The content piece and web page will live online forever, getting indexed in the search engines and generating traffic from relevant prospects, paying us off like an annuity. As well as positioning us as a thought leader in our marketplace.

Our paid search program provides us with performance data like impressions, clicks, cost & conversions and ties them to the channel so we can follow progress all the way down the pipeline to a sale and ROI. Follow on improvements can be made based on the various performance data available from the search engine (in real time) so we can generate a better ROI each week/month. There is more traffic available, and more areas we can test our way into, to scale in the coming months.

Our lead nurturing program is pushing more prospects through the pipeline faster, while triggers are making it easier for sales to facilitate the process by automating some time consuming tasks. Leads lost to reasons like ‘no contact’ or ‘out of market’ are being automatically nurtured and reactivated into our sales funnel without further effort or spend required, and our overall conversion rates are improving.

Robust and real time channel data allows us to make quick, on the fly adjustments to programs to ensure we are achieving incremental weekly improvements. Granular line of site on performance means we can identify what is working best to maximize our investment each month.

Which would you choose? For me, there is simply no comparison between what is possible between the two programs, from targeting, to marketable data, to lead flow, to sales and ROI tracking. The ability to confidently (and quickly) pull marketing levers to put us in the best position to reach our sales goals is the absolute difference maker.

Inbound Marketing Mix

The ROI Based Marketing Mix

Let’s revisit the marketing mix concept real quick. Instead of thinking about it as ‘we need to advertise in X place because we need a mix’, or ‘more touch points’, (even if you do have larger amounts of marketing dollars to invest), I challenge you to think about it a different way.

Your marketing mix must be dictated by identifying what provides the most marketable data, leads and sales. Spend every penny of your marketing budget on what works best. Yes, even if that means you only have one channel for a while. And when, and only when, you’ve maxed out spend in that channel, do you introduce another (of course you’ve saved some budget for testing into new channels along the way).  Work your way down the ROI chain to provide you with your ROI based marketing mix. It might look something like the following in terms of budget allocation. (Your business will need to create your own formula to account for various factors.) This generic list considers cost, trackability, propensity to convert and increased conversion as important metrics. (for purposes of discussion)

  1. CRM mining of current customers using email and call campaigns to cross sell into new products and services.
  2. Email marketing to prospects in your CRM that showed past interest in your product or service to generate inbound leads.
  3. Targeting and converting in-market-now prospects via paid search marketing.
  4. Tying email marketing of prospects into a live contact campaign for sales so they are making dials when prospects are at their computers or on their mobile devices (increasing contact rate).
  5. Creating high value digital content for data gathering and lead generation via the web.
  6. Customizing your CRM and Marketing Automation tools to improve lead nurturing, lead management and sales.
  7. Engaging in relevant direct mail pieces to targeted contacts that fit your buyer personas (preferably tied to some sort of identifier of position in the buyer’s journey or trigger event).
  8. Anything else that generates marketable data at a minimum, preferably identifiable leads, and trackable ROI.
  9. Once you have scaled and exhausted all other options, spend money marketing in channels that produce no marketable data, identifiable leads or clear ROI for incremental increases in awareness.

Are there exceptions to this performance based rule? Of course. Maybe you like and want to support a local publication. Perhaps you’ve invested all possible elsewhere and the general audience fits your basic mold, or it’s a hyper targeted niche publication and you’re OK it’s not  highly trackable. Like I said, I enjoy flipping through the publications myself, and believe they do provide a public service.

But in the digital era, with so much opportunity and technology available, we can no longer be just marketers. We must be lead generators, filling the pipeline for sales, and accountable for our efforts impact on the bottom line. Utilizing every marketing dollar, no matter how large our budget, as if it is our last dollar. In short, we can, and we must, be able to demonstrate positive return on investment in everything we do.

Because if it was your company, your family, your employees on the line, and you only had $1,000…

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Advertising in Business NH Magazine
Lead Generation - Marketing News - NH Inbound Marketing Agency

So You Want to Advertise in the Business New Hampshire Magazine?

How’s your ad in the Business NH Magazine working out? How many leads has it generated for you? How much revenue and profit did you generate for your business?

These are questions I ask many business owners in NH that advertise in the Business NH Magazine, just to see what I get for a response. Are you willing to guess the response I get the most? If you guessed “We don’t really know”, ding ding, you win!

It’s not that I don’t like the publication. I actually enjoy reading it myself. There are usually some good articles that keep me up to speed on the business environment in NH. You know what I don’t do? I don’t read through it looking for the vendor ads, ever. That’s just not how I, or most prospects solve business challenges these days. And therein lies the problem with this outdated method of advertising. You can’t target the prospects demonstrating the right intent.

A New Reality

Consider this, in the last decade a fundamental change has taken place in prospect behavior in the buyers journey. In the past, once a prospect identified a need, they would reach out to potential vendors and include them in the consideration stage of the buyers journey. With the adoption of the internet and the wealth of information available, prospects now conduct their own research, excluding you from that critical step in the process. Their behavior changed, your marketing has not.

Now how do you suppose a small ad in a publication is going to address the needs of your prospect in the buyers journey? Is it going to offer solutions or alternatives? Is it going to bring this prospect into your sales funnel? Is it going to provide you with marketable data so you can nurture this prospect into a customer? Are you even getting in front of the prospects based on their intent to solve a problem or purchase a product or service? No likely. It’s what I consider lazy man’s marketing. And it’s incredibly expensive to boot.

Doing the Math

Let’s estimate that it costs you $800 per month, with a 6 month minimum commitment to advertise in a publication like the Business NH Magazine. At the end of 6 months, you will pay $4,800 in total. And when I ask you the questions I started this article with, and you can’t answer them with specific performance figures that lead to a positive ROI, will you think this is money well spent?

What if instead you took that $4,800 and invested in some great digital content that addressed the pain points of your prospects in the buyer’s journey, that would help generate visitors and leads for years? What if you spent it on a lead generation program on paid search where you could get in front of in-market-now prospects searching for your product or service right now? What if you invested it in mining your CRM for new leads and putting triggers and automation in place to help move prospects through your sales funnel, or create efficiencies for your sales team so they can spend more time closing deals? And what if you could draw a straight line from that investment to your ROI?

That would feel pretty good wouldn’t it? And it would help guide your future marketing investment. In 2016, you would be looking directly at what produced a profit and know exactly what levers to pull to increase your leads and sales in the new year, every year. Over time, you’d build an Inbound Marketing juggernaut and be driving your business to new heights.

Looking to the Future

2015 is quickly coming to an end and you will no doubt be making choices about where to invest in the new year. Don’t make the same mistake so many others have made just to feel like you’re doing something. Start your transition to an Inbound Marketing model, invest your money in the foundational tools necessary to make it happen, and stuff your pipeline full of leads for your sales team.

Want to learn more ways to build your pipeline in the new year? I’ve written many articles about inbound marketing and lead generation, you can find them at our blog, Musings of an Inbound Marketer.

Interested in learning more as you plan for the new year? Let’s set up a time to chat over coffee. You can reach me anytime at daryl@newenglandwebstrategies.com to set something up, and the coffee is on me!

Daryl Eames
New England Web Strategies

*image sourced from scan of Business NH Magazine

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Advertising in the NHBR
Lead Generation - Marketing News - NH Inbound Marketing Agency

So You Want to Advertise in the New Hampshire Business Review?

How’s your ad in the NH Business Review working out? How many leads has it generated for you? How much revenue and profit did you generate for your business?

These are questions I ask many business owners in NH that advertise in the NHBR, just to see what I get for a response. Are you willing to guess the response I get the most? If you guessed “We don’t really know”, ding ding, you win!

It’s not that I don’t like the publication. I actually enjoy reading it myself. There are usually some good articles that keep me up to speed on the business environment in NH. You know what I don’t do? I don’t read through it looking for the vendor ads, ever. That’s just not how I, or most prospects solve business challenges these days. And therein lies the problem with this outdated method of advertising. You can’t target the prospects demonstrating the right intent.

The Paradigm Shift

Consider this, in the last decade a fundamental change has taken place in prospect behavior in the buyers journey. In the past, once a prospect identified a need, they would reach out to potential vendors and include them in the consideration stage of the buyers journey. With the adoption of the internet and the wealth of information available, prospects now conduct their own research, excluding you from that critical step in the process. Their behavior changed, your marketing has not.

Now how do you suppose a small ad in a publication is going to address the needs of your prospect in the buyers journey? Is it going to offer solutions or alternatives? Is it going to bring this prospect into your sales funnel? Is it going to provide you with marketable data so you can nurture this prospect into a customer? Are you even getting in front of the prospects based on their intent to solve a problem or purchase a product or service? No likely. It’s what I consider lazy man’s marketing. And it’s incredibly expensive to boot.

A Quick Case Study

Let’s estimate that it costs you $800 per month, with a 6 month minimum commitment to advertise in a publication like the NHBR. At the end of 6 months, you will pay $4,800 in total. And when I ask you the questions I started this article with, and you can’t answer them with specific performance figures that lead to a positive ROI, will you think this is money well spent?

What if instead you took that $4,800 and invested in some great digital content that addressed the pain points of your prospects in the buyer’s journey, that would help generate visitors and leads for years? What if you spent it on a lead generation program on paid search where you could get in front of in-market-now prospects searching for your product or service right now? What if you invested it in mining your CRM for new leads and putting triggers and automation in place to help move prospects through your sales funnel, or create efficiencies for your sales team so they can spend more time closing deals? And what if you could draw a straight line from that investment to your ROI?

That would feel pretty good wouldn’t it? And it would help guide your future marketing investment. In 2016, you would be looking directly at what produced a profit and know exactly what levers to pull to increase your leads and sales in the new year, every year. Over time, you’d build an Inbound Marketing juggernaut and be driving your business to new heights.

Looking Forward

2015 is quickly coming to an end and you will no doubt be making choices about where to invest in the new year. Don’t make the same mistake so many others have made just to feel like you’re doing something. Start your transition to an Inbound Marketing model, invest your money in the foundational tools necessary to make it happen, and stuff your pipeline full of leads for your sales team.

Want to learn more ways to build your pipeline in the new year? I’ve written many articles about inbound marketing and lead generation, you can find them at our blog, Musings of an Inbound Marketer.

Interested in learning more as you plan for the new year? Let’s set up a time to chat over coffee. You can reach me anytime at daryl@newenglandwebstrategies.com to set something up, and the coffee is on me!

Daryl Eames
New England Web Strategies

*image sourced from scan of NHBR

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