A marketer’s worst nightmare:
You spent valuable time building a piece of content for your subscribers, maybe multiple pieces, only to realize how few are reading it. The good news is that email marketing is still the number one channel for advertising. In fact, Digital Agency Network found it is 40 times more effective than methods such as social media!
So what’s the bad news? Convincing people to OPEN these emails is not easy.
According to Campaign Monitor, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day, but only opens 17% of them…Those are tough odds to overcome.
Take this inbox for example:
It may even be similar to how your inbox looks right now. People are too busy to read 100+ emails every day. They’ll focus on the ones that are of interest and which capture their attention from the start. Since you can’t change how people’s inboxes look, you’ll have to play the game and find a way to rise above the competition.
Better Subject Lines
A good subject line dramatically increases the likelihood of your emails being opened. In fact, Convince & Convert found a 35% increase in open rates from relevant subject lines alone. While it may be just one component of the email, it’s the first thing recipients see.
For marketers, subject lines are an opportunity to stand out above the rest, so don’t rush them. Some characteristics of a good subject line include writing with a personalized tone and staying short and sweet.
For more examples and tips on creating the perfect subject line, click here.
Send Fewer Emails
Don’t get trigger-happy with the ‘send’ button. A study from HubSpot found that 69% of email users have unsubscribed from a business because the organization sends too many emails (I know I have). When people sign up for a newsletter or subscription, make sure they know what they are getting themselves into.
Be clear in the intro email about the communication cadence so they have an idea of what to expect. Is this a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter? Without addressing this, you run the risk of becoming a nuisance–leading people right to that ‘unsubscribe’ button. Don’t become a spammer.
Wait, how do I know how many is “too many”? Glad you asked!
Segment your list of contacts and test different frequencies. For example, consider using A/B testing. A/B testing can be used to try different techniques within a small sample size of your target market.
Source: Split Metrics
In this case, let’s say you have 1,000 contacts in your database. Take a small sample, maybe 300 or so, and split them in half. Send one-half a higher frequency of emails than the other. From there, you can look at the open rates and click-through rates to see which frequency has higher engagement.
Another quick way to offer a better experience to your audience is by asking them what they want. For instance, let them decide how often they want to hear from you. This can be done within the intro email by giving them an option to choose from: once a day, once a week, twice a month, etc.
This allows the reader to dictate your relationship with them and provides a more personalized experience as a whole.
Overcome Triggered Spam Alerts
Emails can be sent to spam without having the recipient manually ‘mark as spam.’ Email accounts such as Gmail are becoming smarter as technology continues to grow. As a result, spam detection is becoming more prominent and sensitive to emails originating outside the organization.
A study from Propeller CRM found that 45% of all emails get triggered as some type of spam.
Yes, you read that correctly!
Nowadays, email software is designed to detect certain words that are most often found in SPAM. These are known as trigger words. If you use enough of these trigger words, your message will be sent to spam. That’s why it is imperative you understand how sensitive these systems are, and how to avoid overusing trigger words.
Here a few examples of common trigger words, and how to work around them:
Try to avoid using a word like “Free.” This extends to the subject line, title, and body of the email. Instead, try using words like “complementary,” or “at no charge.” Doing so allows you to avoid spam detection while still getting your point across. Other common trigger words include “Guaranteed,” “100% FREE,” “Act Now,” “Attention!,” or any repetitive use of CAPS or character symbols.
Understanding these trigger words and strategizing around them will keep your emails away from the SPAM folder and give you a better chance to be seen.
As mentioned earlier, email is still the most useful tactic for marketers. Experiencing low open rates can be frustrating, but you can use it as an opportunity to step back and assess your strategy.
Continue to optimize your subject lines, frequency of sends, and keep track of potential trigger words, and you will have a better foundation to analyze your current email strategy to see where improvements can be made.
Interested in more business tips like these? Subscribe to our blog or contact us today to let us help strategize and increase your inbound leads.
If you had to entice a customer to buy your product using one sentence or less, what would you say? This is the question you should ask yourself when developing a value proposition. It can be difficult to narrow down your product’s value to 20-30 words. Luckily, there are numerous tools available that will take you through a step-by-step process of developing a value proposition. These tools can help you prioritize important information, organize your thoughts, and even bring you to a new perspective or idea that will enhance the way you communicate your product or service’s value to customers.
Here are a few tools to help you develop a strong B2B value proposition:
Bain & Company created a model that organizes valuable elements that B2B organizations can offer customers. The model’s roots can be traced back to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from 1943, which argues humans are motivated by both basic and complex needs. However, this model focuses on people’s motivation for buying products or services. The elements at the bottom are easy to measure, such as acceptable price, while the elements at the top are more objective and difficult to quantify, such as reputational assurance.
According to leaders at Bain & Company, if companies use “modern survey techniques and statistical analysis to quantify all the elements on a consistent basis, they can learn what customers truly value and which aspects of an offering merit investment.” By surveying customers and asking them to rate the elements they value most, you can modify and improve your value proposition.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Strategyzer, known for their business model platform, offers a canvas tool for companies to create value propositions. It’s composed of two sections, a customer profile and value map. The customer profile describes the jobs your customers try to get done (these can be functional, social, or emotional). In addition, this section highlights the pains customers experience when trying to get the job done and the gains they hope to achieve.
The value map lists the products and services your value proposition builds on. In this section, you should ask yourself, how does your product minimize or reduce pain points? How does it maximize outcomes/benefits? The best value propositions come from connecting your customer profile and value map. The customer profile may contain countless jobs, pains, and gains but the value map helps you highlight which ones to focus on.
This trademarked tool is a product of Futurecurve’s research into human behavior. The six elements are part of an iterative process that leads to a customer-centric value proposition. The process is centered around identifying your target market and how your product or service provides value for that audience. However, this value is strengthened by determining which benefits are most important, how they offer differentiation, and proof to support your claims.
Futurecurve outlines a number of positive outcomes of undergoing this process to create a value proposition. To name a few, companies gain a clear profile of buyer personas, an understanding of what offerings to take to market, and evidence on how they deliver value. For more insights on creating a value proposition, you can check out Futurecurve’s book “Selling Your Value Proposition: how to transform your business into a selling organization.”
With these tools, you can ensure that you’re creating a strong value proposition that speaks to your customers and their needs. For examples of B2B value propositions, check out our blog The Top 10 B2B Value Proposition Examples (And How to Create Your Own).
Looking for a team to help with your company’s B2B marketing messaging? Contact us.
If you’re in marketing or sales, odds are you’ve heard of account-based marketing (ABM). It’s a method that’s been gaining popularity in the marketing industry because of its ability to deliver high levels of ROI. In fact, “companies with ABM in place generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts,” according to Marketing Profs. This type of marketing involves honing in on a few accounts and targeting them with a highly-personalized strategy.
Although ABM is a great tool for any company, small businesses stand to benefit the most. This is because “SMBs can’t afford to scatter their money across various marketing tactics and a huge pool of prospects and just hope to generate enough qualified leads to make a profit,” says Niraj Ranjan Rout, Founder of Hiver. Unlike traditional lead-based marketing, ABM enables small businesses to focus all their resources on a few high-value prospects that are likely to buy.
In addition, small businesses are likely to gain internal buy-in across departments with ABM. This is important because ABM can be pricey due to personalization and a multi-channel approach. With more buy-in across the company, the budget for an ABM program can come from multiple departments.
Sound like something you’re interested in? Here’s our account-based marketing guide to get you started:
First, you’ll want to develop your Ideal Client Profile (ICP). An ICP is different from a buyer persona because it focuses on a company rather than an individual. It should include firmographic data such as company size, industry, number of employees, and estimated revenue plus unique characteristics such as technologies used, hiring trends, or external industry events. This will help you determine the criteria for your target accounts. Take advantage of your CRM or marketing automation platform to begin searching for target accounts.
ABM is different than most marketing methods because the content and messaging revolve around the specific needs of the account being targeted. It offers a highly personalized approach. For example, you could send a detailed analysis report to a company that is specific to their business. Avoid sending generic emails at all costs. Ask yourself, who am I creating content for? What content do I already have? This way, you’ll be able to find out where any gaps exist and create content accordingly.
If you’re not sure how to break the ice with a target account, it helps to mention them on a blog or social media post. Compliment them on a recent win and highlight what they did well. They’ll appreciate the praise and you’ll be on their radar because of it.
After you’ve created your content, it’s time to figure out the best way to reach your target accounts. There are a plethora of options, such as email, social media, video, website, blogs, webinars, infographics, and white papers. If you’re targeting a company that values creativity, you may want to take advantage of video to grab their attention. Or, if you’re looking to reach a tech company, a white paper may be the best way to connect with them.
In order to successfully execute your ABM campaign, there needs to be alignment between the sales and marketing teams. ABM relies on the perspective of a sales team who understands the importance of relationship building, knows how to address a business’s pain points, and has experience working to resolve them. According to Sirius Decisions, “B2B businesses with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.”
Additionally, be sure to measure the results of your ABM campaign. Hubspot recommends focusing on coverage, awareness, engagement, reach, and influence. Here are some metrics you should pay attention to for each:
- Coverage: take a look at the number of target accounts you’ve identified and reached, how much custom content you’ve sent out, the number of stakeholders or key decision makers you’ve made contact with, the amount of account information you’ve gained
- Awareness: check the number of key accounts visiting your website, opening emails, reading blog posts, attending events, subscribing to a podcast or newsletter
- Engagement: focus on the amount of time key accounts are spending with your brand and whether they’re responding to marketing activities (click-through-rates, content downloads, email response rates)
- Reach: track how successful each channel was in reaching target accounts, check what percentage of campaign success is coming from your target accounts
- Influence: review how fast you were able to move target accounts through the funnel and close deals with your ABM campaign compared to previous marketing campaigns
Use this data to continue optimizing your campaigns for the greatest ROI.
We hope this account-based marketing guide gave you a better idea of how to implement ABM for your small business. When it comes to ABM, it’s all about targeting high-value accounts with highly-personalized content. If you’re looking for help with your ABM strategy, contact us.
We’ve all been there. You walk into a department store — just to browse. Within moments, an overzealous salesperson is pressing you to buy something that you’ve barely glanced at. Immediately put off, you’re scanning the store for the nearest exit.
This logic translates to B2B companies. A business can claim, “oh that person just wasn’t the right fit,” but HubSpot asserts that 50% of leads are qualified — just not ready to buy. For this reason, it’s imperative your company understands the difference between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).
An MQL is someone who meets the demographics of your ideal customer profile — the marketing term for this is “buyer persona” — and has shown meaningful engagement with your company. Examples of an MQL include signing up for your newsletter or downloading your ebook because these actions show initiative from the prospect to educate themselves on your industry.
An SQL is someone who meets the demographic criteria and has completed an action(s) that translates to, “I want to speak with sales.” Respond to actions that indicate the prospect wants to know how your company solves their problem– downloading a pricing guide or requesting a demo are just two examples that signal this type of interest.
What differentiates an MQL from an SQL will differ from company to company. The important thing is that marketing and sales are on the same page for how both are defined. Lead scoring makes this possible by enabling companies with a systematic way of differentiating the two.
What is lead scoring?
Lead scoring is the practice of assigning a point value to individual leads according to the information they’ve given you and how they’ve interacted with your website. This score helps your team prioritize leads by putting them into different buckets — MQLs, SQLs, and neither.
How you define what triggers an MQL versus an SQL will change based on the needs and capabilities of your company. For example, if your marketing strategy is mature and you receive thousands of MQLs a day consider increasing the amount of engagement someone must show before triggering that response.
With so many moving parts it can be hard to even know where to start. Luckily, HubSpot has created a lead scoring algorithm to make the process simpler. You can use the software to help with manual lead scoring or you can leave all the heavy lifting up to HubSpot.
Congratulations — you’ve sorted your MQLs from your SQLs! Now you must customize an approach for both types, but how?
The Right Way to Follow up With MQLs:
Don’t be the department store salesperson. MQLs are still just browsing and forcing them to the next stage will only drive them away. At the same time, it’s okay to reach out directly. Consider this part of your lead nurturing strategy. According to Forrester Research, “companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.”
Be confident knowing that someone who triggers an MQL notification knows what your company does and is trying to learn more. Reach out with the goal of mutually assessing the fit of the potential partnership while providing them with educational resources. There are many different ways to do this, but I’m only going to provide you with two options to start.
The first option is to send a welcome email when someone first triggers an MQL notification in your system. Here’s an example from HubSpot:
Notice this person encourages the prospect to continue the relationship by providing a clear way to access additional information.
How do you nurture a lead between the welcome email and when they move to the SQL stage? The most important thing is to stay fresh in their minds. Instead of sending a response to a particular action, consistently provide content they would find interesting. Here is an example:
Research consistently shows that “a person needs to know you, your reputation, and your product or service before he/she is willing to make a purchase.” Doing this requires consistently being in the lead’s line of sight. Forwarding content to your MQLs is the simplest way to do this.
Side note: Notice that both emails are individually addressed and appear to come from a real person. Personalizing these points of contact creates the framework for building relationships — which results in MQLs converting to SQLs.
The Right Way to Follow up With SQLs:
Finally, the lead is ready to hear your pitch. Your sales team’s job is to connect the dots for the customer and fill in knowledge gaps. They want to be sure that your product will address their pain points. Simply asking them, “so how did you like that ebook?” won’t cut it. Build the conversation around an action(s) they completed which triggered the SQL notification. For example, let’s say the action was a free demo request. Shoot them an email like this:
There are two key things to notice here:
- Expectations for the call are set beforehand: This puts the lead at ease with the process. It also helps them prepare accordingly for the call.
- The goal is to help the customer: This is a sales call, but coming from a stance of trying to help them will allow you to understand their needs and how your company fits with them.
The Bottom Line:
The difference between an SQL and an MQL is murky. That’s why it’s imperative for your company to create a universal definition that sales and marketing stick to. Creating a definition strikes the perfect balance between educating leads and closing a deal.
Moving someone from the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey to the conversion stage can feel like you’re walking on eggshells — one false move and the lead is gone. That’s why it’s important to have experts on your side to optimize your marketing strategy. Contact us to learn how we can help you develop a strategy to reach your business growth goals.