Friday, December 27, 2013

The Slow Death of Email and What You Can Do About it

Being in the world of marketing automation for as long as I was, I was a bit jaded and defended email as a marketing tool like it was the be all and end all of marketing. Since moving to another part of B2B marketing and executing different types of email campaigns I now have a completely different perspective.

Email is in fact losing its touch. In this fantastic Slideshare by Gary Vanderchuck "How to Tell Your Story in 2014" he asks "When was the last time you were excited by an email?". I can tell you honestly that I don't remember. Perhaps it was a transactional email I received that told me a shipment had arrived? When was the last time you were excited about getting an email?

Gary goes on to show an image that says "Marketers ruin everything". What he means is that when marketers find a tactic that works, they can run it into the ground. The trick as I see it is to always staying ahead of the pack by using advanced marketing methods. I'm not alone in my thinking.
When was the last time you were excited to open an email?

The Evolution of the Modern Marketer: Email Tips From the Pros 

If you ever want to take a peak into the minds of the B2B marketers that are at the cutting edge of everything, head over to This discussion "Declining email response rates?" is a fantastic example as these top marketers are discussing their own email campaigns and what they have found to be successful. These are the new breed of marketers - the modern marketers. They of course live outside of Topliners but Topliners is one of the only public forums that you'll find them. Listen closely to what a few of these marketers are saying about email:

 Kristin Connell: IMO, I think it's too generalized of a statement to say that the "biggest pain point for digital marketers is declining email response rates." I think it's merely a symptom of the larger issue to digital marketers - to Eytan's researched response - in that it's becoming much more complex and doesn't just require better tools, but better, more "modern" skill sets.

Jennifer Gonzalez: I think declining response rates correlate to people trying to build their lists through less than ideal methods. For example, if you purchase lists to build up your database, your response rates will decline because you are emailing people who are not interested in your message.

lkincke:  I think it's a matter of perspective, it may feel (as a digital marketer) like response rates are the pain point but the truth behind having an engaged, responsive audience is having engaging content.  If your response rates are declining and all other factors surrounding your audience, deliverability, etc remain the same then the clear problem is in the content.  Being on the consulting/agency side the last few years I feel very strongly that the average marketer is reluctant to admit when their content might be the problem. It's much easier to claim it's an industry-wide trend than to attempt to optimize something you put together, no one wants to admit that maybe their baby is ugly. 

Dave Liloia: I think that there are two worlds at work here though. The first is made up of people like us who understand the space, know what is possible and work REALLY REALLY hard to be better every day. The other world is made up of people who still use a word that starts with B and ends with LAST and think that's an ok way of doing business.

Good data + good content + good process = good campaigns

Kurt Weisenberger: For LifeSize, since we've further segmented our database specifically by verticals for our nurture programs we've seen increased response rates. We also create very timely content on a monthly cadence for our primary prospects - and customers.

There are a bunch of good ideas here and they revolve around the following marketing concepts: segmentation, personalization, data and content. The tools are an instrument for success - they make it easier but it's more the mindset that makes these marketers have higher email response rates then the tools they use. However, is it enough?

Is it enough? Will These Best Practices Save Email? NO!

It's great that you have some advanced marketers that are creating a better, more engaging experience for their email recipients. Here's  the big question: even with employing these best practices, will email response continue to decline due to the overuse of this channel? Time will tell. These advanced marketers have proven that you can still be successful with email but it takes effort and commitment. It also takes knowledge. You need to know your customers - what they want, what their challenges are and what they would be interested in. I don't think it will be enough and Gary agrees with me.

Gary Vanderchuck summarizes this into the simple concept of "storytelling". Marketers need to communicate what the story of their organization is (its value proposition). To get the attention of potential buyers, marketers need to engage with their audience. Social media is a great channel to use for this purpose but it can't be used as a "blasting platform". You need to really engage your audiences.

While Gary focuses his story on driving marketers to use social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as tools to tell your story, there is definitely more that can be done. Your story is being written outside of channels that you control and directly interact with.

Storytelling 2.0

While I agree with Gary that storytelling will win the day as it is the best way to convey a message, it goes well beyond the mainstream areas of social media. Marketers should be ensuring that their story is a positive one on online review sites such as Yelp, Linkedin, Quora and Google. Marketers should be leveraging their best customers - their advocates - to help spread this story. It should not just fall on the company to be the storytellers. Your customers and other influencers can assist here. Would you be more included to open or respond to an email that came from a company or from a friend or colleague of yours?

Email as we know it toady is definitely on the decline. You can use advanced methods to maintain a very good response rate but if you don't continue to evolve your marketing techniques, your efforts will be limited and will diminish with time. Best of luck to you.

Chad H.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marketing Automation And Advocate Marketing: A Sweet Combination

Marketing automation + advocate marketing = delicious!
This post was originally posted here.

2013 has been a year of transition for me. My wife and I will be adding a new addition to our family, which will require me to paint a room pink and have tea parties (it’s a big transition after having two boys), and I moved from a behemoth of a technology company to a fast moving startup.
I have also moved from one area of B2B marketing to another. While the audience we focus on at Influitive is still primarily B2B marketers, the space that we play in is a bit different.

Marketing automation software is essentially a marketing database that runs marketing campaigns and provides insights on how those campaigns have performed. It’s the driving engine behind marketing’s efforts and can justify where marketing should be spending its budget. There are, of course, many other functions, such as sales enablement features, but let’s focus primarily on the core aspects of marketing automation.

Influitive focuses on advocate marketing, which is all about taking your customers, partners, employees and fans, and mobilizing them to support marketing campaigns, refer new business and help close deals. We call these super duper supporters your advocates and Influitive helps you tap into these amazing brand ambassadors.

Looking at these two areas of B2B marketing, they are not as different as they once appeared to me when I switched marketing disciplines.

Why advocate marketing and marketing automation are like waffles and maple syrup

Is it a coincidence that marketing automation and advocate marketing share the same initials, but in reverse? I think not!

Both areas actually work well together, like like waffles and maple syrup, for example.

Waffles, which represent marketing automation, are awesome by themselves, but they taste so much better with maple syrup, which is the advocate marketing component.

Adding advocates to campaigns which are being executed from your marketing automation system can amplify your existing campaigns and maximize your marketing automation investment.

5 ways marketing automation can tap into advocates to increase campaign effectiveness

Here are the top five recommendations on how you can leverage your advocates and advocate activities to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing automation campaigns:

1. Mix in online reviews to your lead nurturing efforts

The most recent Nielsen Trust In Advertising report found that 84% of buyers cited recommendations from people like them as their most trusted source when purchasing a product.

When mobilized, advocates can provide online ratings and reviews on sites such as G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, Quora, the Salesforce AppExchange and many others.

Instead of directing prospects to marketing materials that you have created, which are seen as less genuine in the eyes of your buyers, why not direct them to third-party sites where your advocates have left you glowing reviews?

You can also ask your prospects if they would like to connect with these advocates and set up a reference call.
Did you know? Like maple syrup, marketing automation and advocate marketing have strong roots here in Canada.

2. Score leads based on acts of advocacy that have been performed

There are certain social indicators of advocacy which explicitly indicate that a prospect is more interested in your company as well as when their interest is peaking.
These can include:
  • Following your company on social channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, SlideShare, Spiceworks and Facebook
  • Sharing information about your company on social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Mentioning your company on public forums such as Quora or Spiceworks
  • Responding to surveys and requests for more information
Many of your prospects are fans of your company even if they aren’t customers.

They may not have the budget or exact need at the moment for your services, they may have used your product or service at a former company or they may love what your company represents in their industry.

You can tap into this positive sentiment and track these activities.

As these activities increase, they should be scored appropriately, and an inside sales rep should reach out at the right time to see if they are ready to purchase or just to thank them for their support.

3. Add testimonials from advocates to landing pages to increase lead conversion

MarketingExperiments has published a number of case studies which show that including indicators of trustworthiness on your landing pages reduces friction.

There is no better way to do this than to use testimonials that you have collected from your advocates. You can gather testimonials that indicate the strength of your customer onboarding services, various benefits of your products and even justify spending the five minutes needed to read through an eBook.

Sprinkle in some testimonials and measure the increase in conversions.

4. Ask advocates to share your marketing content

These days, relying solely on email and even your owned social and web properties to reach your target audience is a mistake. The Nielsen Trust In Advertising report backs this up: content shared by people who are similar to your intended buyers is much more powerful and your prospects will be much more receptive to this information.

Have your advocates share your infographics, upcoming webinars and other marketing content with their social networks in order to maximize the effectiveness of the campaigns that you are running.

Be sure to accurately measure the leads coming from advocate activities by using unique URLs and/or designated landing pages.

5. Get feedback on your planned marketing campaigns

…before pulling the trigger on a larger audience. Advocates love to provide feedback. Why? Because they want to have their voices heard.

They feel connected to you and asking them for feedback enhances this relationship. Of course, you need to ensure you are recognizing their contributions for this to work. When performed properly, you can use advocates to provide advance feedback on campaigns that you want to run for a larger audience.

Think about it. You’ve spent or about to spend a significant amount of on a nurturing program, video, infographic or webinar series. Wouldn’t you want to get some honest feedback or test your messaging on a smaller, dedicated audience before you do a major campaign launch? This is easy to do with a co-ordinated advocate marketing program. Using advocates this way, you’ll guarantee a much better chance of campaign success.

I hope you will take advantage of these recommendations and add the sweetness of advocates to your marketing automation efforts.

Chad H.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Improve Your Writing Style: Solve Their Problem, Not Yours

I was recently inspired by this simple yet insightful post by Jonathan Greene from MarketingSherpa on how a small change in how you phrase items can mean the difference in the response you get on social media.

Too many companies are too focused on what they want when they post updates on their social channels and don't focus enough on how their message will help the people that they are targeting. 
Just because you tweet, doesn't mean I care.

He provides a simple example of a tweet from the food chain Publix (I'm paraphrasing the tweets):
"Trying to eat for more fish? Try this. Featured meal of the week cod sauté..."

He contrasts this with a tweet from a clothing retailer: "Get ready for Saturday tailgates with the new hoodie from xxx. Shop now at 

Notice how in the first example, Publix has phrased their tweet in a way that seems like it genuinely wants to help its audience while the retailer is just straight out selling. It's more concerned with its own problem of selling hoodies. I believe that this messaging is OK for the odd tweet but that won't win loyal followers if that's the only tune you're singing.

How will this benefit them or solve their problem?

Jonathan believes that when creating content for your social media channels you should ask yourself this question: "Why should someone engage with you rather than someone else?”. While I think that is valid, I would suggest that when writing something that you would like your audience to read and engage in, ask yourself "how will this benefit them or solve their problem?". Either they will respond or it will just get lost in a wave of tweets and posts that people are exposed to online and on their mobile devices. You need to decide if you want to take a few extra minutes and put yourself in their shoes or take the easy way out and craft a message where you only think of what you need. 

Here's another great example from Starbucks:

It's clear what the benefits are from joining their loyalty program (which I'm a proud member of).

Other things to consider when crafting messages for your audience:

  • If they share it with their social network, will it make them look good? No one will want to share content just because you ask them to. Even if they are following you and you add the two words  "Please RT". 
  • How do I want my audience to perceive our organization (or yourself if you take a personal approach)? Do you want to be seen as a stuffy, high and mighty corporation that is only out to make money or a company that values its audience and wants to create a two way communication flow?
The bottom line is that you need to decide how you want to be perceived by your audience. Some simple steps and a different approach can increase your social media engagement and reach as well as create customer advocates. While this may not have a direct impact on sales, it will definitely influence revenue growth as you increase the number of people you're able to influence. 

Something to think about.

Chad H.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rethink Your Approach to Customer Testimonials: Mobilize Your Advocates

This was a post I originally created for Kapost's Content Marketeer Blog.

“I’m too busy.”
“I’m travelling."
“It’s end of quarter.”
“I never got your email.”

How many excuses like these have you seen when you’re asking your customers for a testimonial? How many letters, emails, calls, texts, tweets etc… do you normally have to send before you hear back from your customers? It’s been proven that B2B buyers see their peers as the most trusted source of information so you need to get these customer quotes but why does it have to be so difficult? Until you change your approach, this cycle will continue.

Photo credit: megawatts86
You need to stop treating your customers like they are an ATM of testimonials that you can always bank on.

You know that’s not sustainable. Let’s take the example of a farm. Farmers can’t just magically harvest their crops season after season. They need to plant the seeds correctly, nurture their crops, and practice proper crop rotation to avoid destroying the land. This same concept applies to how you interact with your best customers to get the customer testimonials that you need.

Advocate Marketing: Mobilizing Your Biggest Supporters 

The first thing you need to do is to identify which of your customers are your biggest supporters – these are your advocates. Search through various social media channels and take note of which of your customers have positive things to say about you. If you run a feedback or NPS survey, collect the names that provide positive feedback. Ask your customer-facing teams who your happy customers are. Now you are on the right track. You then need to mobilize and motivate these advocates. Start off by focusing your advocates on small missions that will help spread the word of your brand. For example, you can ask them to follow you on Twitter, comment on a blog post, or respond to a discussion on LinkedIn. Next, seek out their feedback and learn more about them. Consider asking advocates these questions:

  • What is something they accomplished with your product this week?
  • What new features would they like to see?
  • What are their interests and how would they like to be recognized?

  • This is part of cultivating the relationship with your advocates that is similar to the example of following proper farming techniques. Many of your customers are looking to be acknowledged or would like a spotlight to talk about what they love about your product or service. You need to create these opportunities to properly harness the power of your biggest supporters.

    This means that you will need to invest some time in planning out your advocate marketing strategy. By creating this interactive, two-way conversation with your advocates, you are creating real, reciprocal relationships that result in customer BFFs (Best Fans for Life). This process will also generate a larger pool of potential customers that you can seek testimonials from. You are now creating an extended marketing arm that will gladly speak on your behalf as well as provide references and case studies when needed. Stop the excuses and start mobilizing and nurturing your advocates today. Your customers and your company will thank you for it. 

    Chad H.

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013

    The Rules of Lead Generation Defined – Book Review

    For years I’ve been helping B2B marketers execute on their marketing strategies and at times I felt like I was working from scraps of information here and there that I have learned over the years. The issue was that there really wasn’t a guide for B2B marketers. We now have one: The New Rules of Lead Generation: Proven Strategies to Maximize Marketing ROI by David T. Scott. David was kind enough to send me on a copy and I will provide a short review of his groundbreaking work.

    There are many smart marketers out there that have provided a bunch of insightful resources but there really wasn’t a straightforward starting point for someone new who was just breaking into the field. David’s book has helped bridge that gap by creating the B2B Marketing bible for demand generation marketers. I have not seen another book out there that is ambitious enough to include the majority of marketing tactics covering both offline and online formats.

    Who Should Read This Book: Anyone New to B2B Marketing or Wanting to Improve

    David makes it very clear whom he is targeting – it’s not the mom and pop shop businesses. He’s trying to help those marketers that are looking for information on principles and strategies of enterprise level lead generation. If you are someone that wants to get an introduction into some of the tried and tested tactics as well as the basics on putting a lead generation strategy together, this book is for you.

    Besides those that may be new to B2B marketing, I would also recommend this book to those that are trying to put the various pieces together and may have been thrown into the role or volunteered without a full background in this area. Have a look at this book – you will benefit from it.


    What Did I Like? A Focus on Strategy, Testing and Metrics

    Definitions & Strategy. I love this quote from David “You can’t build a strong house without a string foundation”. The book is split up into two major areas: definitions and strategy of lead generation and lead gen tactics.

    David makes it clear that you need a firm strategy in place or your tactics will fail and you won’t be able to convince your executives to get the funding you need. He provides you with the details you need to start the planning process so even a newbie can get this in place in no time. David starts off by defining some of the basic concepts of lead generation as well as focus on targeting and segmentation (My comment: YES!). Without these foundations, it can be difficult for marketers to get their bearings and execute on their strategy. This is something I have emphasized to many marketers over the years and it’s nice to see something in writing with a hard cover that that outlines this. Don’t miss David’s “5 Steps of a Lead Generation Campaign”.

    Testing. A number of resources will tell you what you need to do. David emphasizes throughout his book that you are never done tweaking your tactics. You need to constantly test as a best practice for one organization may produce the opposite effects for another. You never really know what works best unless you test in lead generation. He covers testing techniques from emailing to cold calling. David believes that there are no mistakes in testing lead generation – you need to experiment to find out what works best to reach your target audience.

    The Importance of Metrics.
    So you don’t consistently measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. David gets you. Marketers are really behind in this area and David documents in laymen’s terms how to measure the overall Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) of your campaigns as well as some of the basic metrics. Running some campaigns and hoping for the best is not a smart option. Metrics should be part of your overall strategy and something that you present to executives on a regular basis. This book will help point you in the right direction. He has included a good example of comparing the success of display ads vs. a tradeshow and how to measure the impact to demonstrate which tactic is better.

    There are also many small tips that you’ll take from this book from where to setup your booth at a tradeshow to best practices on messaging for your Google Adwords campaigns. You will definitely walk away with something from this book that you can use in your day-to-day marketing campaign execution.

    Where it Comes up Short

    In this book David admits that lead generation is in a constant state of evolution. There is no way he can cover everything that is out there as well as all the emerging trends. There is just too much going on and David has done an admirable job. I would have liked David to have focused more on these areas:
    • Marketing Automation. David makes a passing reference to some of the vendors out there including Eloqua and Marketo. I’m a bit biased here but marketing automation is a major force in lead generation today and should have had a bit more space allotted to it.
    • Content Marketing. David dismisses search engine optimization as “passive marketing” and not a large aspect of lead generation. I disagree with his opinion here, as content marketing is instrumental in attracting viewers to your materials and assisting in generating leads and moving buyers through the sales and marketing funnel. This is probably an area that can be covered in a follow up in the next volume.
    • Mobile. There are a lot of opportunities here that should be better acknowledged when it comes to Iphones and Android.
    Another consideration for the next volume is to cover the area of advocate marketing. David dismisses the area of “word of mouth marketing” but advocates today are generating leads through referrals. These are solid leads that have a much higher conversion rate then some of the other tactics out there.

    The book also could have used more illustrations and practical examples. David has done well to focus on the various social media tactics such as Twitter and Facebook but there are some good examples that could have been included to help the new marketer grasp these concepts. Again, only so much that can be fit into this book. I also disagree with the book’s emphasis on list purchases when it comes to email. I would recommend spending the time to build your lists organically then wasting money and time on list purchases that can get you in hot water with your email or marketing automation vendor.


    My Takeaway: Read it, Live it

    Let’s face it - B2B Marketing is a newer concept that is still emerging. We’ve moved beyond the traditional type of brand marketing that you see in Mad Men and marketers need to understand these new frameworks. Another name for this book should be “Lead Generation 101”. The New Rules on Lead Generation will help marketers get to that next level and should be standard reading for those studying marketing in business school and those that are newer or less experienced in this area. Happy reading!

    Chad H.


    PS: The last chapter on integrated campaigns is a must as it ties together many of the concepts and has some good examples.

    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Advocate Marketing: An Introduction

    Very recently I made the decision to shift to a different aspect of marketing that involves mobilizing your biggest fans or your advocates. This was a bigger shift then I thought it would be after specializing in marketing automation for almost eight years. But it's been extremely exciting to be part of building a new frontier in marketing.

    To summarize this concept of advocate marketing, it stems from studies today that demonstrate that B2B buyers don't trust traditional forms of marketing like they used to. Online ads, email promotions and other forms of PR have lost the impact that they previously had with all of the noise that exists in today's digital world. Buyers are also skeptical of sales people. They are going to do their own research via their social networks and through other means. Buyers trust people that have the same challenges that they do. Buyers trust people that went through a similar buying process. This is where your advocates come in and can help help bring authenticity and assurance that the buyer is making the right decision. The difficulty for the seller is connecting buyers and advocates together in a mutually beneficial and efficient manner. The key to this is forming an advocate marketing program.

    Mobilize your advocates

    I've been doing my research on this topic and have listed some resources that I thought you would find useful as a primer on this topic:
    I hope you have found this useful and if you have other resources that primers for newbies in this area, please add these in the comments.


    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    Survey Shows B2B Marketers Will Prioritize Email Marketing, SEO, Social Media in 2013

    This is a guest post from CRM Analyst Ashley Verrill. This is the first ever guest post on this blog in its seven year existence so you know the content is going to be good. Much of this verifies what I've been saying for years but it's always good to see this data for yourself for a sanity check. For example, before you go upload that list of emails that you just bought, read the data below...

    B2B marketers will focus their efforts – and dollars – on in-house email marketing, SEO and social media this year, according to recently released survey results.

    Research firm Software Advice kicked off the 2012 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark poll last fall. Their goal was to provide marketing professionals benchmarks to compare their lead generation performance to peers.

    The survey asked questions about the effectiveness of various channels, offers and content for lead quality and volume. Experts also queried marketers about their spending priorities in 2013, both over all and by channel.

    To help analyze these results, CRM Analyst Ashley Verrill interviewed Eloqua Marketing Programs Director Elle Woulfe. In this video, she discusses the survey group’s opinions bout the most effective channels for lead generation.

    And below are the detailed results of our survey.

    Most Popular Channels

    The graph below illustrates the percentage of marketing respondents that use each channel for demand generation.

    Volume of Leads by Channel

    The chart below is ranked from highest to lowest percentage of marketers identifying the channel as high volume.

    Quality of Leads by Channel

    The chart below is ranked from highest to lowest percentage of marketers identifying the channel as producing high quality leads.

    Cost by Channel

    The chart below is ranked from highest to lowest percentage of marketers identifying the channel as low cost-per-lead.

    Quantity of Leads by Content or Offer

    Here’s how each content or offer ranked from the highest to lowest percentage of marketers viewing them as high volume.

    Quality of Leads by Content or Offer

    Here’s how they ranked from the highest to lowest percentage of marketers viewing the content or offer as high quality.

    Most Popular Content or Offer

    The graph below illustrates the percentage of marketing respondents that use each content or offer for demand generation.

    Overall Demand Generation Spend Plans for 2013

    The chart below shows how marketers will adjust their spending plans relative to what they allocated for programs in 2012.

    Spend Plans by Channel This Year

    The chart below reveals how marketers will adjust their spending plans by channel in 2013 relative to 2012.

    About the Sample

    We collected 155 responses from Sept. 26 to Nov. 12, 2012. Below is a breakdown of the sample by industry, business size, marketing budget and seniority.

    Demographics by Industry

    Demographics by Number of Employees

    Demographics by Marketing Budget

    Demographics by Seniority




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