Oh, the glamour of being a passionate, busy executive managing a professional services firm. Between running your business, satisfying the demands of clients, managing and recruiting staff and prospecting for new revenue, the list of “to dos” never gets shorter.
For those pursuing this endeavor, the one dimension of your business that’s easiest to avoid and frequently ignored is marketing. Especially online marketing. The reasons are many. And they almost always include the overabundance of consultants who profess expertise in what many perceive as black-box voodoo or even worse, BS.
New ball game.
While you may have infectious passion for your work, years of expertise, and a formidable network, have you missed all of the changes that have taken place in the marketing landscape over the last few years?
Buyers used to have very limited information for evaluating providers or resources to address their pain or challenge. But today, they have more insights and choices than ever before. That’s because prospects find and evaluate solutions though online search, social network sharing and subscribing to content that’s relevant and valuable to them.
So if you’re considering how to get your message to your target prospects (that’s marketing), you’re first going to have to make an important decision.
A | Do you want to shout at your prospects through an expensive, old school media that rents their space or subscriber list that they own?
B | Or do you want to talk individually to each and every online visitor to your website?
Which ever path you choose, if you don’t want your marketing message to get ignored, it needs to be more targeted and personal than ever before. Why?
Research from software provider Marketo found that 50% to 90% of a sale is made before a B2B customer ever talks to a sales person. And recent research from Sirus Decisions reveals that the average sales cycle has increased 22% over the past 5 years due to more decision makers being involved in the buying process.
Today’s B2B professional services providers face many formidable business and marketing challenges. They include:
- You don’t have enough leads to fill your sales funnel
- There’s no easy way to qualify leads
- You’re not effectively nurturing leads to the point where they’re sales ready
- You’ve got big gaps in follow-up from your sales team
- You can’t see the leaks in your pipeline to know where and why prospects fall through
- You’re not sure which tactics are actually driving revenue
Marketing Automation benefits you can’t ignore.
For you, every sale is worth thousands of dollars. And every lead is the starting point of those yet to be realized dollars. Typical B2B organizations spend thousands on sales salaries and lead generation activities.
It goes without saying that it’s extremely important to identify and qualify every lead. But the end goal is to make the cash register ring and convert each qualified lead into a sale as efficiently and effectively as possible.
As marketing automation software provider SharpSpring points out, 97% of the website traffic that’s generated from PPC campaigns (like Google AdWords), search engine optimization (SEO) and other digital marketing might be considered wasteful. But if you could identify many of your “anonymous” website visitors, tell sales people what they are interested in and provide contact information such as email and phone numbers, you could dramatically improve the number and quality of leads generated by your marketing activities.
- Fill your sales funnel by capturing leads with gated content delivered through dynamic forms
- Identify highly qualified and sales-ready leads with a numeric score that you monitor and set
- Develop leads that aren’t sales-ready by automatically engaging and deploying nurturing campaigns
- Instantly notify salespeople about leads that have crossed your set threshold and are more ready to buy
- See exactly when leads fall out of your pipeline and take action to bring them back in
- Know which tactics are driving revenue and what investment you made to get there
Why attracting and not repelling just isn’t enough.
For most B2B professional services providers, generating and nurturing leads with relevant content (what’s now known as Content Marketing) is now a requirement.
Content Marketing is all about attraction. That means instead of pushing an unwanted, interruptive message at your prospects, you pull the people you want to reach towards you.
A Content Marketing strategy includes content creation and distribution through techniques that integrate blogging, social media and email marketing to generate, nurture, and convert leads to customers.
According to online marketing experts, MarketingProfs, 71% of B2B marketers are now using Content Marketing to generate leads. But if Marketing Automation isn’t built into your Content Marketing strategy and distribution platform, the benefits that you want most will remain out of reach. They include:
- Identifying anonymous website traffic
- Enable your sales team with key insights about each leads activities and interactions with your content
- Capture and qualify leads with integrated forms designed to convert
- Send emails with triggers that build personal relationships with relevant content
- Prioritize leads in your pipeline so that you reach out to your sales-ready leads first
- Notify your sales team via email or text when a lead crosses the threshold ready for sales
- Easily integrate leads into your sales team’s CRM system
- Eliminate waste and identify opportunities
Where are you?
A recent post from MarketingProfs informs us that only 37% of B2B marketers are using marketing automation to generate leads and nurture leads. Research Analyst, Jeff Ernst of Forrester, estimates that only about 5% of marketers use a full-featured marketing automation solution. Yet, recent data from Marketing Sherpa reveals that 65% of B2B marketers have not enabled a method for lead nurturing. And even more confounding, 79% of them have not established a method for lead scoring.
The take away from all of these numbers is that there’s plenty of opportunity for those willing to invest in new solutions that can make a real difference in increasing conversions from leads to revenue.
Are you using marketing automation to differentiate and improve the success your business? Or have you taken a different path? Please share your results.