Wednesday, November 29, 2006

IBM Allows you to Chat With a Sales Representative

If you've been on IBM's site lately, you may have noticed a new feature. OK, you'll probably notice many new features it's Big Blue for goodness sake, they've patented the meaning of life! :)

The feature I'm most interested in is a new little Chat icon on the side of the page. You can see it here. What better way then to interact with potential clients then to allow them to speak with you without having to pick up the phone.

I Hate the Phone - That's Why I'm in IT

Besides those that despise Alexander Graham Bell's (he's Canadian, eh) invention and think the telephone was "so 18th century" and SMS is where it's at, there are other great uses for an online Chat feature. Picture this - you're an IT Systems Architect and you need to buy a new blade server today. The problem is that you're invited to a global conference call with other architects from around the world and attendance is mandatory. How can you use this time productively? If you answered "listen to what's going on in the meeting" you are 200% incorrect. Typically, no one cares what you have to say. Why not multitask to get your real work done and find out more information about the IBM blade server that you had your eye on. With chat, you will be able to get in touch with a Representative right away and still pretend to listen in on the call.

Chat and Customer Support - Better then getting a "Please leave a message"

Here's another scenario - you call customer support from your favourite software vendor and either no one is there or your put on hold for eternity. To avoid all this "fun", you could use online chat to ask for assistance right away. For even more enjoyment, why not call, email and use chat all at the same time? See who responds more quickly and accurately.

Using Chat for Lead Generation

When I clicked on IBM's chat button, I was told that no one was online. Besides having your web visitors initiate the chat session, what if you're sales reps were the ones that started the chatting (hey, it doesn't take much)? You see someone looking at your products, why not start a chat with them? At the very least you can ask for an email address so you can send them some personalized information. What better way to get opt-in email addresses? Perhaps point them to a new resource on your site or to a blog article. The possibilities with chat are endless for B2B lead generation. Hey, if you've invested a ton of resources on building a great website, you have an amazing inside sales team that are just waiting for the phone to ring and a ton of traffic that you helped generate from email and paid search, why not add an additional tool that is relatively inexpensive that will increase conversations and maximize your marketing investments. It's companies like IBM that see this vision and are using this technology to their advantage. You go Blue!

What do you think? Have you ever participated in online chat? What if this technology was added to blogs? Would it be called "Blat" or "Chog"?

Chad H.


HP Gets it Right With Their "Change Artists" Lead Generation Campaign

Arguably the whole concept of comments on a blog make blogs authentic and entertaining. On many blogs, a web visitor may find a post with some rich interaction between the original author and some commenters. Typically the item that is being discussed is one that both the author and commenter are passionate about. The new visitor can either be satisfied with just reading the interaction or even add a comment themselves.

How can businesses capture the excitement of blogs?

I was really inspired when I saw a new campaign by HP called "Stories of the Real World: CEOs, CIOs, and change". This consists of a landing page in which a real CEO and another VP from Nestle discussing their challenges and how they solved them. Obviously they will indirectly discuss how HP helped solve their business challenges but what better way to do this then to tell a story via a video conversation with executives just like the target audience that they are going after. This is simply brilliant.

For Nestle, this gives its CEO and VP a little PR as well as making them human while enhancing HP's image immensely with a testimonial that doesn't seem contrived. The excitement of watching an interaction in an area of interest just like on blogs makes this extremely exciting.

Another cool thing is that HP uses the brand "Change Artists" and doesn't overtly advertise. In addition, the conversation doesn't focus on HP. You hear about a real story as to how they made change. This included setting up meetings, who setup the meeting, the feeling at the meeting and even what was happening at lunch. Chris Johnson the Deputy Executive VP even asked his team if they wanted his job - how real is that?

HP goes further - they include related content, a case study and podcast for busy executives who can't watch the whole video and even have a refer a friend function to promote a viral effect.

How can HP make this "Change Artists" concept even better?

This is an easy answer - place these videos on a blog. I'm sitting here watching this great conversation (I personally liked the story about the Chilean Navy) and I'm saying "Hey, I want in on this conversation too!". While they do take questions from "audience members" when the video is shot, this doesn't seem very real. There is no better way to continue the conversation then with blogs. Imagine placing this on a blog (even for a limited time) and allowing people to respond. Just like there is a Q/A following a webinar, blogs can act in a similar way in this situation. Perhaps they could have a scheduled launch date for these videos so people could be the first to watch and comment on the video and only have a limited time to add comments? Putting a time constraint works with selling products, it will definitely work with people accessing information that is informative and entertaining (I kick myself when I don't read each of the MarketingSherpa articles before they expire).

Anyways, great concept HP - keep it up! I would much rather hear a CEO talk about a real life situation then hearing them spew out a list of benefits of their products.

Have you seen any other great B2B lead generation campaigns that really stood out for you?

Chad H

PS - I'm reading Seth Godin's' "All Marketers Are Liars" which discuses how important authentic stories are in marketing.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Free Online Marketing Tools for Marketers

Larry Chase at Web Digest for Marketers is an amazing source for marketers looking for tools to assist in email marketing, search marketing, surveys - you name it! Here are a few of my favourite tools from his website:

Paid Search and Organic Search

  • Spyfu: Can be used to find out how much a search term is currently going for, how popular a search term is and who (which of your competitors) is currently using the search term and how they are using it. You can also see the copy of the ads they are using and what the organic search results are.

    In addition, you can see the additional paid search terms that competitors purchased and how much they are spending on paid search. This stuff is gold! Go there right now and type in the name of your company and see what happens. The data can be a bit out of date so don't use it to look for terms that others may not have purchased just yet. It would be interesting to see how the results compare to Wordtracker
  • URL Trends: Use URL Trends to find out how many sites are linked to your site as well as how many sites you link to. You can also see your page rank and how many search results you produce on the major search engines. This is great if you want to keep benchmarks on how your SEO efforts are going.
  • Marketleap Link Popularity Check: Compare your site traffic to your competitors. You can also look at benchmark graphs and compare your site to your competition.
  • SearchSpell Typo Search: Want to know if people search for your company or your products but make spelling errors? Use this tool and it will let you know what are the top typos for the keywords you enter.
  • Keyword Suggestion Tool: Find out how many times each of the keywords & phrases you enter has been searched on so far this month in the major search engines. It allows you to compare a few different search phrases.
  • Yahoo Keyword Selector Tool: Tells you how many times a keyword was clicked on. This is not as accurate as Wordtracker as it focuses on paid search only and not organic search
  • Web Site Keyword Density Tool: This tool tells you if certain keywords appear enough or too little on your website. This seo tool also returns the ratio of your keywords to your body count.
  • SE-Tools: Type a web page address and SE-Inspector will check its title, meta tags, text, url, link popularity and keyword density. SE-Spider will allow you to see how the search engine spiders crawl your pages and follow your links.
  • Yahoo CPC ROI tool: Calculate the ROI from your cost per clicks vs. sales generated.
  • Keyword Difficulty Check: Determine if it's worth it to go after certain keywords. Tool will tell you how difficult it is to get into the top ranked sites for keyword(s).
  • Lycos Top 50: Get an idea of which keywords are hot
  • Google Keyword Tool: Makes recommendations on additional popular keywords. Shows your competition and search volume. I would trust Wordtracker over this tool.
  • Google Conversion Tracking: This is a newer feature that allows you to track your conversion rate (sales or form submissions) for all of your paid search campaigns.

RSS Feeds

  • Feed Advisor: If you're looking for web feeds to add to your website, newsletter blog or just for your personal research, consider checking this site out. It will tell you how many people have subscribed to the RSS feed. This type of social ranking provides the RSS feed with added credibility and helps you navigate amongst the millions of feeds out there.

Survey Tools

  • Sample Size Calculator: Tells you how many survey respondents you need to generate a meaningful results.
  • Question Pro: Allows you to create two free surveys for 100 respondents. This is an ASP model survey tool that has some excellent features. It's advanced tool also integrates with
  • SurveyMonkey also provides a free basic survey tool which is limited to a total of 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. You can purchase a more advanced tool on a per month basis.

Email Marketing Tools

  • Content Checker: This free tool will check the content of your email and provide feedback on how you can reduce the chances that it will hit your receipients spam box. They've incorporated SpamAssassin's™ rules.
  • EzineCheck: This tool also provides feedback on any issues with your email that will increase the chances that it will be labled as spam.

General Marketing Tools

  • Give to Get Marketing Calculators: Includes calculators for small businesses to calculate ROI, marketing results, and website visitor value.
  • Calculate marketing ROI with the Marketing Lead Calculator: Calculate marketing ROI with this interactive spreadsheet by B2B sales and marketing expert Mac McIntosh. It is designed to help B2B sales and marketing professionals determine the realistic number of marketing touches, inquiries and qualified sales leads needed in order to meet your company's sales revenue objectives.
  • Web Page Analyzer: Track how quickly your page loads and provides recommendations on improving page performance.
  • ZoomInfo: Looking for contact information for a company? Before spending xxx number of dollars, try using ZoomInfo. It's a service that has collected data on people from information gathered on the internet
I hope you enjoyed these. Thanks again to Larry Chase and I encourage everyone to sign up for his newsletter. Let me know if I've missed any great links that should be added.

Chad H.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Email Delveriability Tip of the Day: Authentication

Not sure what authentication is when it comes to email marketing and how it relates to email deliverability? Have you seen those Visa commercials where a call centre verifies these heads that come through a computer screen? It's similar to this. How do you prove to your email recipients that the email that you're sending is actually from you? Through email authentication.

Check out this article on ClickZ by Stefan Pollard called "Marketers Still Unclear on Authentication" for a better understanding of this concept. Stefan defines authentication as the following:

Authentication helps you, as an e-mail sender, prove you are who you claim to be and that you have the right to send e-mail from your IP address. It's designed to block fraudulent e-mail that forges its identity or hijacks someone else's server or IP address to send e-mail.

You should ensure that your email provider has taken all of the necessary precautions to ensure that the email you send to your customers and prospects follows the authentication best practices.

Chad H.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Have you Thanked Your Customers Today?

Are you saying to yourself "it's another day and I have so much to do with so little time?". I think we're all saying that so don't worry. Here are two words that you can say that are easy and will go a long way "Thank you!".

We sometimes forget that our customers are the lifeblood of any organization. Al DiGuido is his ClickZ article "The Power of "Thank You" explains that in today's world of technology, there is no reason that you shouldn't be thanking your customers. He sees email as the optimal technology to do this by using transactional emails. If someone buys your product or downloads some information from your website, send them a thank you to show that you value them as a customer or a potential customer.

You can take this concept further. Your sales team should always thank prospect for their time in a follow up email to a prospect meeting. Your customer service team should end each conversation with a "Thanks for calling and feel free to call again with any concern that you have". You can even have them send a quick follow up email with a thanks and here's how to get a hold of me. Why not add their picture to the email and really make it personal? Some companies add their sales rep's pictures to their email, why not customer service?

For all of us bloggers it's imperative that we thank all of those people out there that have either left a comment on your blog or linked to your blog. I regularly try and go out and seek those bloggers that have linked to my blog to see what they are writing about and leave a comment.

Give thanks to those that have helped make you what you are and don't ever forget them.

Chad H.

PS - I'm going to go thank my wife for allowing me to buy a 40' plasma.
PPS - Thanks for reading this blog and all of your comments
PPPS - Thanks for that great image above


Is Your CRM Naked?

Are all of your sales reps exceeding their quota for this quarter? Ok, that's a stupid question. Maybe teh reason they aren't is because your CRM (customer relationship management) tool is naked. Ardath Albee has written a great e-book called Why Naked CRM Doesn't Work on how to "dress up" your CRM by providing better tools for sales and an improved process for sales and marketing. This focuses on the B2B sales process which is much longer then B2C.

are some of the items I really liked:
  • In my industry, we sometimes preach to hold off on passing leads (inquiries) to sales until they are "qualified"(I don't even want to get into a definition of this). Andrath feels that sales should be aware of all potential leads. They may have inside information that could help the lead along in the sales process. It also ensures greater buy in from sales.
  • Andrath stresses that you really need to arm sales with the materials they need to follow up with the prospect. She states that the salesperson should be able to plug in the profile of the person (industry, title etc...) as well as the type of information needed (quotes, value propositions) and all related information will be returned. You could take this even further by being able to gather all of this data and have an email that will assess all of the customer data and compile an email for you that can be customized by sales and sent from Outlook.
  • Shes states that there is typically no central database that tracks of the core research on a company. This can come from all aspects of your organization: engineering, support, operations, marketing and sales. This is sooo true. You need to ensure that all company touchpoints are recorded in your CRM. You should know which email was sent to the prospect, when and by whom. You should know if there any outstanding technical support issues. You should even see comments from your developers on how a new feature has enhanced a customer's use of your product.

    While Ardath stresses the need of a sales portal, I think your CRM can be used for your sales portal, what you need is buy in from all departments and incentives to ensure that your whole company is recording all relevant data and has a proper method to record this data that is measurable.
Thanks again Ardath for a great article that gave me some food for thought.

Chad H.


Email Still Kicks Conversion Ass

What was the best conversion marketing channel for a financial publisher? Was it Adwords? Organic Search? Nope - it was email! Check out this study on E-Mail Is Top Conversion Channel for Financial Publisher.

What is interesting is that if you combine organic and paid search, it still doesn't add up to the conversion rate of email according to the chart that is provided. It would be interesting to better understand the details of this study but what it does show is how important email still is. While you start experimenting with web 2.0. strategies like blogging, don't forget about using email to support your other marketing channels. Remember to maximize your email marketing. Check out Email Marketing 101: Tips and Best Practices for some tips.

Those of you who use email as part of their marketing efforts (most of you I assume), I hope this post gives you a little lift.

Chad H.


Improve how you use White Papers for Lead Generation - Part II

Have you created a white paper for your organization in order to generate leads? If you have, there are some great tips that Michael Stelzner has just written about in an article Getting The Most From Your White Paper Marketing.

His big tip is that you should consider providing a large chunk of the white paper for free before you ask for a web visitor to register for it. He uses the gaming industry as an example. There are some sites out there like EA Sports (one of my favourites) that will let you download a sample of the game before actually purchasing it. What Michael failed to mention was that you typically have to register for the sample but you get his point.

Here are some of his other tips that I liked:
  • Keep the registration form out of sight. People are scared when they see it. Warm them up to the idea of registration with some "meat" from the white paper.
  • Keep the registration form questions to a minimum. Only ask what you need. For example, why ask for zip code if all you need is state for your lead distribution processes.
  • Provide some quotes on those that liked the white paper (like mini book reviews). Those quotes could be from industry big wigs or industry analysts (my tip).
  • Send an auto-responder email letting the person know about other resources that are available. Michael suggests a slight delay in sending the white paper but I disagree. Nobody likes to wait around for anything these days and if there is a delay, they'll go to your competitors site and/or they'll forget why they registered in the first place.
One tip that I'll add is that it's always great if you have an industry analyst like Gartner or Forrester write a white paper about your company (assuming it's a positive one!!). This gives your company and products the credibility it needs to get people to consider you.

Do you have any tips that have increased your lead generation using white papers?

If you're interested in creating your own white paper or want some tips in writing a new one, see my post called Writing a White Paper? Read The Following Book in which I review Michael's book.

Chad H.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Improve Your Email Copy, Improve Your Conversion Rate

If you're a typical online marketer, you're extremely busy, had way too much caffeine and have two many tasks that were due yesterday. When it comes to preparing an email to promote an upcoming event, all you can think about is the date of the event that is looming and your eager boss that has not seen the invite go out yet. Have you been here before?

When it comes to writing your email copy, you sometimes forget some of the key elements that will get you the conversion rates (event registrations) that you need to demonstrate for your established marketing metrics. John Murphy has written an excellent article called How to design your e-mail copy to maximize response. In this article he states:

The key to developing an effective e-mail campaign is to remember that everything about your e-mail copy should be focused on one objective – getting the recipient to click through to your landing page. Everything else, including branding, product details and awareness, is secondary.
This obviously depends on the nature of your email but this is typically a major objective for marketers. It's easy to forget this basic point when your pulling your copy together and your designer has created these cool pictures. Focus on conversions.

Besides some of the obvious tips such as keeping your email body text brief and keeping the subject line below 35 characters, I found it interesting that he recommends not using typical words like "unsubscribe" or "remove me" as part of your opt-out process. Words like these will typically be picked up anti-spam software. He suggests something like "If you don’t want to hear from us...”. This is an immediate take away and something I will experiment with.

For timing of B2B emails, he recommends sending them between 10-2 EST and weekends for B2B emails.

Julian Scott has added another great tip in his article "Fast and easy creative best practices for e-mail". He claims that while you should have a strong call to action in the preview pane, also have it at the end of a content section or at the bottom of your email. Email recipients will tend to not want to scroll back up to the top.

I hope you enjoyed these tips.

Chad H.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Email Delveriability Tips of the Day

If you're into testing and deliverability tips for your email marketing campaigns, here are two things that you can try right now:

  • If you use one of those "Click here to view the email as a web page" in the top of your email, try removing it. In fact, remove all of that extra text in the email header. This should help your email recipients see your email message better. Remember to move up links and call to actions so they can be seen in the email preview pane.
  • Copy and paste your email HTML into the following free tool: and see what kind of score it gets. You may need to adjust your copy slightly to reduce the risk of your email being tagged as spam.
Have fun and good luck!

Chad H




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