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Archive for 2010

Why all B2B leads are not created equal

Put a marketer and salesperson in one room, bring up the subject of sales lead quality, and watch the fun begin. B2B lead value has always been a touchy subject. Because most marketers find that when new leads are passed on to sales for qualification and follow-up, many of the prospects show little interest in the offered product or service. Why is it that so many leads seem apathetic, or even hostile, when a sales person calls? The answer probably lies in the way the lead was generated.

In today’s online marketing world, assessing lead value has become a highly complex effort. Empowered by the Internet, buyers have assumed control of the purchasing process. They research product/service options on your Web site, validate their choices in social media, and probably place their orders online. In this Web-enabled environment, determining a prospect’s interest can be a daunting task. So how do you appraise potential lead generation programs to determine lead quality? Today, you must understand the “where, what, and why” behind the lead.

First, “where” did the lead come from? In what context did the prospect find your link? Was it a Google ad, a banner ad on a publication’s Web site, or a text link in an e-newsletter? Context is important because it leads you toward a fundamental tenet of successful B2B lead generation – relevance.

The “what” entails putting yourself in the prospect’s shoes and understanding the motivation behind the contact. Did they fill out a form on your Web site? Did they browse on a third-party site, provide their name and e-mail address, and then the site’s owner filled in the remainder of their personal information from a database and sent it to you? (This happens more than you think!) Or was the prospect’s name presented as a lead after they indicated an interest in a category of products or services? In fact, some Web media will send you a list of so-called “leads” because they recently requested information from your competitor.

The “why” involves evaluating the value proposition that motivated the prospect to click on your link and convert to a lead. Did this action occur because you offered a free trip to Cancun or because they wanted your new white paper on DNA sequencing?

Research tells us that the most qualified leads come from inbound marketing tactics such as organic and paid search, social media, links on news sites and blogs, etc. In these cases, prospects have a need and are actively searching for your types of products and services. In addition, certain outbound tactics – online advertising and e-mail campaigns combined with high-value content incentives, can deliver the same level of quality as inbound marketing leads.

Before you invest in a lead generation program, use this simple “where, what, and why” framework for determining lead quality. In today’s jungle of digital marketing and pay-per-lead programs, all leads are not created equal.

How long does it take to convert B2B leads to sales?

Generating sales leads is the goal of almost every B2B company. But in many cases, the marketer loses sight of the lead once handed off to sales. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to evaluate the disposition of the lead and the length of the sales process.

Marketing Sherpa recently released a study of more than 1,000 B2B marketers that analyzed the time span between lead generation and sales conversion. The results illustrated how this buying cycle can range from weeks to over one year. 44% said their sales conversion process took more than 6 months while only 17% said sales required one month or less to close (see figure 1).

In addition, the survey asked about the likelihood a lead would move from one stage of the pipeline to the next. The study found that on average, about four out of 10 leads moved from initial inquiry to being sales ready, and the same ratio of prospects advanced from sales-ready to fully qualified. From this point, only three of ten prospects converted to a sale. That means for every 100 leads that initially enter your pipeline, an average of only 5 will become customers.

The extreme length and complexity of the B2B sales process, coupled with dramatic pipeline erosion, highlight why lead nurturing has become an essential strategy for best-practice B2B marketing departments. Nurturing leads by offering highly relevant content satisfies early-cycle prospects’ information needs, plus helps accelerate their migration through the pipeline to conversion.

B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey 2009
© 2009 Marketing Sherpa

What Is the Future of Advertising Agencies?

Forrester is publishing research concerning the trends that will drive advertising and marketing agencies in the future. Forrester’s Interactive Marketing Analyst Sean Corcoran interviewed 60 agency leaders, clients, and media in preparing the study. He provided a sneak peak of the findings at an MITX-sponsored event in Boston recently. While the research is focused primarily on advertising agencies, it has great relevancy for B2B marketers. The following are some of his key points (with my comments in italics):

It’s a new world defined by technology and consumer control

  • Consumers have complex relationships with the media
  • Consumers trust other consumers more than brands
  • WOM reigns again
  • 3.5 million brand conversations happen every day, all of them in public

B2B purchasing has moved from a seller- to a buyer-controlled process. Search and social media have created much more complex relationships with customers and clients.

Consumers hate most advertising

  • Only 5% agree with claims
  • 50% say brands don’t live up to advertising promises
  • 67% say there is too much advertising

B2B buyers are relying upon peers and opinion leaders to influence and validate their decisions as skepticism grows around product performance.

Adaptive marketing is the new model

  • Everything is powered by digital
  • Real-time response, as in political advertising, is the future of marketing
  • It’s all about pull, not push
  • Addressability is here (versioning customization, options)
  • Intelligence and analytics will drive everything

Database marketing enables message customization for highly relevant, personalized customer interaction. Web-based technologies permit real-time response for those desiring product/service content. Web-based analytics offer immediate measurement and intelligence gathering.

Media needs to combine paid, owned, and earned

  • Paid: for scale, speed, and reach
  • Owned: for content, relationships, listening, and co-creation
  • Earned:  social, WOM, PR, bloggers, influencers, thought leaders

The B2B media mix is becoming much more complex. Inbound media (i.e. search, blogs, social) is becoming just as important to attract B2B buyers as outbound media (i.e. advertising, e-mail)

Successful marketers will move well beyond campaigns

  • Build campaigns, plus platforms
  • Stop thinking in terms of audience and think about communities of participants
  • Undo unbundling
  • Embrace and master new technologies quickly

B2B marketers must begin thinking about strategies, marketing processes, and communities of interest as well as traditional tactics and audiences.

Marketers will look for three things

  • Ideas
  • Interaction
  • Intelligence (analytics)

The B2B agencies of tomorrow must understand and integrate the new marketing technologies and platforms that will drive brand relationships, demand creation, and sales conversion. The application and interpretation of analytics will be critical to ensure business success.

Performance Marketing for CMOs

What are the essential things CMOs should know about performance marketing? mThink ( recently asked MediaWhiz’s general manager, Peter Klein, what chief marketing officers should be thinking about when considering performance marketing initiatives.

Klein said that performance marketing is the definition of getting measurable return on investment for marketing dollars. “Whichever performance marketing method one chooses to use, whether affiliate marketing, e-mail, search engine marketing, social media, banner advertising, or co-registration, all can be tested with controlled spends in approved environments. That allows campaigns to be optimized in real-time and, as a result, to be scaled profitably with the assurance of ROI,” he said.

Klein also made the following points:

  • Getting the campaign started is easy. Typically, the network will provide detailed instructions as to what is needed.
  • Good performance networks should also provide the consultative services of an agency whereby they educate advertisers on every facet of online marketing.
  • Campaigns should be monitored daily at the beginning. But while a campaign should never be regarded as set-it-and-forget-it, it also shouldn’t need to consume the time of a CMO.

Klein said the demonstrable ROI of performance marketing can be a “scary new world” for marketing executives accustomed to traditional budget planning and justification processes. “Basically, a CMO can buy $10 bills for $5 by getting a guaranteed return that can then be used to scale a campaign even further. If it’s done right, there is a huge payoff – an immediate and easily measurable return on investment for the marketing spend.”

Download the full mThink article.

For CMOs considering performance-based campaigns, TW Networks, a division of Tiziani Whitmyre, Inc., is the first full-service performance network focused solely on the needs of B2B marketers. Its affiliates represent leading online publishers across a broad range of B2B, technology, and life science markets.

B2B Marketing Trends for 2010

We’ve pulled out our crystal ball and predicted the new trends that will drive B2B marketers in 2010. Entitled “B2B Trends 2010: Marketing Strategies for a Recovering Economy” the paper outlines new opportunities for marketers that will improve both brand building and demand generation. These include:

  • Inbound marketing
  • Social media
  • Lead nurturing and scoring
  • Marketing scorecards
  • Budgeting for results

During the coming year, we believe resourceful B2B marketers will embrace these trends in greater numbers as the recovering economy places a new emphasis on growth.

To download the paper, click here.

Facebook and Twitter Ranked Top B2B Social Media

A recent study by found that about 75% of B2B companies maintained profiles on both Facebook and Twitter, the highest percentages reported for any social media sites. The survey also reported that Webinars, podcasts, user ratings and reviews, and corporate profiles were the most popular social media resources used by professionals to gain information.

Tiziani Whitmyre’s B2B clients also have had success using LinkedIn profiles and groups to build brand awareness and peer-to-peer validation. These companies are creating social media teams comprised of thought leaders that post high-value content to their LinkedIn networks as well as to followers on Twitter. It’s clear that social media is here to stay as a brand building resource, and B2B companies should develop plans that integrate these channels with their marketing programs.

For your reference, Website Magazine’s top 10 list of most-visited social media resources for the fourth quarter of 2009 were as follows:

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. MySpace
  4. Twitter
  5. Flickr
  6. Photobucket
  7. LinkedIn
  8. Digg
  9. Ning
  10. Yelp

New ROI Marketing White Paper Available

We have just released our latest white paper, ROI Marketing 2.0: Opportunity for Growth in a Recovering Economy. It discusses how companies can use the ROI marketing process to accelerate, measure, and optimize demand generation. The paper reviews how the process embraces the B2B prospect’s thirst for knowledge by using content marketing as a way to stimulate prospect response. It also describes ROI Marketing’s four-step framework:

B2B companies are demanding easy-to-implement marketing strategies that employ today’s powerful Internet-driven technologies to boost lead generation and accelerate sales conversion in highly measurable ways. The paper explains how best-practice companies have used the process to achieve dramatic results in capturing new prospects and building sales across a wide range of B2B markets. We’ve included two case studies to illustrate the process.

To download the paper, click here.