Writing a book is hard. Giving it away is easy.

If you read my post yesterday, you know that my Pardot co-founder and I have just published a book on Marketing Automation. We have been fortunate enough to have sold a bunch but we have also given away a bunch. It’s certainly a lot easier to do the latter. In that vein, we will continue to ship out free copies to anyone who wants one. Just comment on my blog or shoot a note to me at @adamblitzer. If you want it faster you can always just order it on Amazon (Amazon Prime eligible) or wait a couple of days for the Kindle version.

Marketing Automation Book Published

If you have followed my posts you may have noticed that I have taken quite a hiatus over the past half year. Writer’s block? Actually, quite the opposite.

My latest labor of love is a marketing automation primer that I have published with my Pardot co-founder David Cummings. The material assumes a strong knowledge of both interactive and B2B marketing but does not require any experience with marketing automation.

Pardot Marketing Automation Book

Topics covered include:

  • Lead nurturing/drip marketing
  • Effective email marketing
  • Lead scoring/grading
  • Forms/landing pages
  • Metrics worth tracking

Think Outside the Inbox is available on Amazon We would love to hear what you think.

Landing Pages — Knowing when to say when.

Seth Godin just wrote an excellent post on designing effective landing or destination pages entitled “Seven tips to build for meaning.”

I would like to add one more item to the list:
Do not inundate your visitors with required (or even optional) fields.

Nothing frustrates me more as a visitor than arriving at a landing page, seeing a massive form and having most or all of the fields marked with the asterisk of death (denoting a required field). Companies who ask for more than a handful of fields in the first interaction are just encouraging drop off.

B2B sales by their very nature are often multi-touch and complex (read: not instantaneous). You, as a marketer, have a lot of time to flesh out your prospect’s profile and each touch point provides you with an opportunity to collect more data. Why rush to get everything up front?

The technological solution to this is using conditional fields. This technology allows you to progressively ask for just one or two data points during each interaction with a prospect, depending on the information he or she has already given.

Example:
Sally Smith hits your landing page and is asked for her name, email address, and company in exchange for a white paper. She is then asked for her job title before viewing your flash demo 20 minutes later. Three weeks later she is asked for her department in exchange for another white paper. Finally she is asked about her buying stage when requesting a live demonstration.

You set up the same form for all of your white papers, flash demos, and live demo requests, but you set them up to intelligently display only the fields that you are missing for a given prospect. Your marketing automation software identifies your prospects and remembers what information they have already given you.

Isn’t that a better experience for all parties?

Marketing Sherpa: Never Send Unqualified Leads into your CRM

In Marketing Sherpa’s recap of their B2B Lead Generation Summit, they designate one point as the summit’s key takeaway. The “most scribbled-down-tip” was when Jackie Kiley of Sybase explained the importance of passing only qualified leads into your company’s CRM. Marketing Sherpa’s article highlights this point reinforcing that your firm should “*never* put suspects, inquiries, or unqualified leads into [your CRM]”.

By not filtering your leads, you send the good and the bad onto your sales team, and create an immense amount of “noise” which the sales people must sort through to be successful. Rejection and lost time results in a less-than-motivated sales team, that will begin to distrust leads sent to them from the marketing department.

A lead qualifying tool can improve the relationship between your sales and marketing departments by allowing for a more seamless interaction between the two. Marketing automation software allows only qualified leads to make it to the sales pipeline, allowing both departments to more effectively accomplish their goals.

Also key in aligning sales and marketing is providing scheduled feedback on leads by having sales report on the status of leads (good, bad, accepted, rejected, etc.) Doing so is the final step in closing the loop between the two functions by further refining the filter for the next sales cycle.

Testing, 1, 2, 3…

Over at DMNews this week, Mark Stebbin of MarketMotive wrote apiece on A/B Testing for online marketing campaigns. Though the example used is a B2C campaign,  B2B marketers can benefit from the same concepts.

Marketing automation tools can be used to create multiple campaigns – changing out key elements such as graphics, subject lines or special offers – and then compare ROI results. Viewing click-through and conversion rates for the campaigns  will help you understand what strategies appeal to your target audience and lead to increased success in your future campaigns.

Automation software can also offer multivariate testing for your landing pages to compare conversion rates from you PPC campaigns. Just as you can determine which emails are most attractive to your prospects, you can analyze conversion rates and choose the landing pages that yield the highest ROI.

Creating two versions of a campaign may require a little extra legwork, but think of it as an investment that will save you time and increase future profits with just a few clicks.

Pulling It All Together

This month, DMNews is featuring In perfect harmony: e-mail works in-sync with other channels, a piece about integrated, multichannel marketing campaigns. The article, quoting a JupiterResearch study on combining e-mail marketing with other advertising outlets, focuses on the increased results marketers have seen by creating consistent messaging across many medias. An emphasis is placed on building a brand within a campaign as well as testing elements of the marketing program.

Using an effective web marketing suite can help you easily create, test and measure many aspects of an online marketing campaign by:

Presenting a Consistent Brand
Providing uniform email templates will ensure that you’re putting your best brand forward with every piece of correspondence. In addition to making sure you have the last word on all consumer interaction, the sales team will appreciate the templates because saves them time. This way, you can reign your more “creative” sales staff, let them think it’s all to benefit them and still get clean, concise communications. Plus, using templates gives you the option to create HTML emails that will tie-in with your other campaign initiatives.

Integrating Paid Search Campaigns
With emerging technology, you can go way beyond simple cost per click and cost per conversion. New programs are available that can calculate cost per vetted prospect, cost per opportunity, cost per sale, and marketing ROI by tying your paid search costs to yourCRM opportunity data. This will show you what’s working and where to cut the fat – letting you improve your campaigns and boost the bottom line.

Testing Landing Pages and Emails
If you use programs that provide the right metrics, it can be easy to test the effectiveness of your customer-facing communications. Landing pages can be tested using multivariate testing. This works in conjunction with paid search campaigns, automatically directing traffic to multiple landing page locations. By monitoring traffic to different the sites, you’ll be able to see which page has a better conversion rate, helping to determine the stronger campaign tactics. The same theory applies to emails – try out different subject lines, times of day and days of the week to see which combinations most successfully attract opens and click-throughs from prospects.

Too Close For Comfort?

With the introduction of sophisticated products that can track a lead’s every move, down to their search queries and attempts at giving you an invalid email address, it can be all too tempting for the sales team to pounce on prospects and come on a little too strong. Marketing automation suites can provide worlds of knowledge with minimal effort by displaying recently active prospects, sending daily email digests and alerting the sales and marketing team if a designated form is completed.

If a prospect realizes they are being closely tracked, it can be a real turn-off, completely negating the advantage you had by monitoring their movements. There’s a fine line between knowing your customer’s needs and becoming a prospect stalker.

In an age where we are cookied on most pages we visit and sites posing as social communities are feeding our hobbies and habits to advertising partners, where is the line? The key is to show your prospect you understand their challenges, as they relate to your product, without being as obvious as stating that you observed they visited the Benefits section of your website earlier this afternoon. Though most people are aware of tracking technology, they don’t like to be reminded of it.

This applies to both sales calls and email marketing. For another take on this topic, as it relates to email marketing, visit BeRelevant for Can a campaign be too targeted?.