Category: B2B Direct Mail Marketing

Why B2B marketers must read this book on lead generation.

The title of David Scott’s new book “The New Rules of Lead Generation: Proven Strategies to Maximize Marketing ROI” is a bit misleading. It doesn’t just cover the new rules of lead generation marketing that involve LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It covers all the channels and all the practices necessary to achieve successful B2B marketing lead generation.

As the CEO and founder of Marketfish, David Scott knows his stuff. When he tookScott Book marketing courses at the Wharton School, all he learned about was brand marketing. Thrown into a B2B marketing position when the CMO left the $3.5 billion publicly traded software company where he worked, he had to learn fast. Over the years he has discovered the value of data, testing and measurement for all channels. He now shares his knowledge and experience in this comprehensive lead generation marketing handbook.

B2B marketers must read and share this book if they:

  • Have been so focused on entering social media — or any other single media or tactic — that other necessary lead generation channels have been neglected.
  • Want a comprehensive refresher course on B2B marketing best practices to ensure that nothing valuable has been missed.
  • Have beginners on their team who need to learn what effective lead generation is all about.
  • Need to better understand the importance of data, brand, B2B marketing math and all the other elements that turn million-dollar companies into multi-billion-dollar companies.
  • Are worried that they’re missing one of the seven most successful lead-generation approaches that companies are using today.
  • Have budget limitations and want to focus lead gen dollars on tactics that can maximize the return.
  • Want a handy list of how-tos on any aspect of lead generation marketing.

Highly readable and very informative, this book doesn’t miss a beat. I recommend it for every member of every B2B marketing team — beginner or expert — wanting to maximize the success and the ROI of their company’s lead generation.

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B2B marketing: The truth behind the trends for 2013–Part II

Last week, I judged the validity and value of the first ten of Hubspot’s “20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.”

This trend report covers the issues that marketers are being encouraged to pay attention to and incorporate into their planning for 2013. Here is my take on items 11 through 20:

Good Information

“Email Lives On”
This prediction promotes that email will become “less batch and blast” and more personalized. That’s good, as the more any message can be personalized the more effective it will be.

“Marketing Technology Evolves”
I hope this prediction is correct. One point promises that marketing solutions, ROI measurement, etc., will become more integrated so marketers can get a true picture of what’s working and what is not.

“Content Crowdsourcing Grows”
Leveraging viral content created by prospects and customers adds an interesting and possibly money-saving resource to the B2B marketing tool chest.

“Marketing Gets Gamified”
Not sure about the product placement possibility mentioned in this prediction; however, making content more sticky by adding some entertainment value to it is just the tactic today’s B2B marketers need to stand out and get attention.

Nothing New

“Marketing Speaks Like a Human”
This trend implies that, because of social media, marketers can start talking to their prospects as one human to another. Speaking to buyers in a one-on-one tone, based on the buyer’s individual wants and needs, has always been a hallmark of successful target marketing.

“I’ll Take Some Content Curation, Please”
The creation of more targeted and compelling content has been and should be a line item on every B2B marketing budget.

“A Picture is Worth 1000 Words”
This point refers to the hot new picture posting sites on the Web such as Pinterest. However, since the above phrase has been recognized as an old Chinese proverb, it’s safe to assume that there’s nothing new about value of pictures. How effective these sites can be for B2B marketers remains to be seen.

“Context is Content’s New Best Friend”
There’s nothing new about choosing content, messaging, channels and placements based on the profile and past behavior of prospects and customers. It’s always been and will always be a best practice.

Don’t Believe It

“Inbound, Not Automation, Becomes Priority”
I disagree with the premise that automated marketing is, overall, a failure. I agree that many companies do not put in the strategy and follow-through necessary to make automation work as it should. But automating contact with prospects and trying to move them through the buy cycle based on their past actions is still better than not following up at all. Inbound marketing does not replace this on any level.

“Outbound Marketing Loses Traction”
This claim begins with these stats: “Mass marketing gets a 2% response rate, if you’re lucky. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, can produce conversion rates 10X higher or more.” This is playing with math, as it does not compare response rates or conversion rates. If done right, responders to outbound marketing effort also have high conversion rates. B2B marketers that eliminate outbound efforts to generate qualified leads will be out of work soon.

Technology and channels continue to grow and change. But integrated strategies and best practices will keep B2B marketers on top of those trends regardless of the changes.

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Single B2B marketing effort delivers $30MM in new business.

B2B marketing — that is, B2B direct mail marketing — is a classic example of the old adage “You have to spend money to make money.” That’s because the entire practice of direct marketing is judged on a cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale basis.

So it was no surprise to me when I read in Deliver Magazine that Netezza, a company acquired by IBM in 2010, had spent $200,000 on a direct mail marketing campaign that generated a 35% response rate, made approximately $30 million in new sales, and achieved a 150-to-1 ROI.

The article in Deliver’s August 2012 issue “Disguise the Prize” by Bruce Britt tells how Netezza sales wanted meetings with C-level executives to present their sophisticated data warehouse appliance and business analytics. The first concern of the B2B marketing staff at Netezza was getting past the gatekeepers to the CEOs, CIOs and CMOs that are common in the larger organizations they were trying to reach.

Here’s the story that Britt tells of what Will Pringle, a marketing demand generation vice president at Netezza, did:

“Pringle and his team came up with the idea of shipping MP3 devices that featured apps designed to create a sales meeting experience. Pringle tingled at the possibilities. ‘I thought it would be the ultimate direct mail piece if we could immediately catch the attention of C-level executives,’ he says. ‘What if the recipient powered the MP3 player up and the first thing they experienced was a customized video that addressed them by name? The more I thought and penciled everything out, the more excited I became.”

The package consisted of a cylinder that carried no indication of what was inside. This helped the package get past the gatekeeper. Or if the gatekeeper opened the package first, that person would immediately see the value of the enclosed gift and pass it along to the executive. Inside was a personal letter, business card, and the player.

“A few days after the initial packages were shipped, Pringle’s team started putting in calls to his target C-level executives.’Within the next two to three weeks, we secured seven meetings out of 15 — an almost 50-percent success rate,’ Pringle says.’In many cases, we had attempted to meet with these companies for years, and this was the piece that opened the door.”

The success of this campaign was not only based on creative thinking on the part of Pringle and his marketing team, but on the mathematics, i.e. B2B marketers should calculate what a new sale is worth and then how much they are willing to invest in making each sale.

In this case and in many others, the investment is worth every penny.

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B2B marketing: How B2B marketers can maximize open rates.

My colleague, James Pennington of Anderson Direct Marketing, a full-service direct marketing agency, was recently helping a B2B marketing client build their marketing strategy for a new product. In the process, he related this story, which some readers may not find amusing. Yet it’s true.

“I was attending a social media presentation in which the speaker spent time bashing traditional direct mail marketing by stating the fact that 44% of direct mail was not opened and got tossed directly into the trash. After hearing this statement, I raised my hand and asked, ‘Does that mean that 56% of it does get opened? That seems pretty terrific to me. What’s the open rate on email?’ The presenter answered 10% and there was some serious buzz kill in the room.”

In the B2B marketing world, direct mail marketing is still the most effective channel for generating leads and it is still cost-effective for companies selling higher priced products with long buy cycles.

Although it has a valuable place in integrated marketing, email marketing typically cannot produce the lead generation, open rates and response rates of direct mail.

Here are a few of those stats:

  • Prospecting emails to fresh lists typically get open rates of 9%-15% and click-through rates (CTRs) of 2.8%-3.2%. Marketo views open rates of 16%-20% as top performers. The average CTR per Marketo is 2.1%-5% with 5.1%-10% viewed as top performers.
  • A newsletter to a B2B house list is getting open rates of 18%-22% and CTRs of 3%-11%. This is consistent with MarketingSherpa‘s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report in which 1,500 survey respondents reported an average open rate of 23% for B2B newsletters and an 11% CTR.
  • Follow-up emails to webinar or event attendees get an open rate of 31% and CTR of 55%.

B2B marketers looking to maximize open rates and fill their pipeline with qualified leads might want to include the still very powerful and productive direct mail marketing channel.

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Three dumb — and costly — B2B marketing mistakes.

A few days ago in the mail, I received a white padded envelope addressed to my business. It contained a single-page B2B marketing 8 1/2″ x 11″ letter and an 8GB jump drive.

It’s a great B2B direct mail package. Using a padded envelope makes it a “dimensional” or “lumpy” mailing package, which pretty much guarantees it will get opened. It also contains a something-for-nothing gift, which everyone loves.

On the label of the mailing package is my company name and address, and under that it reads “Attn: Susan Fantle.” Definitely personalized, with my name, which is also a best practice. Plus, it wasn’t cheap to send. The first class postage came in at $1.10. That doesn’t include the cost of the envelope, the production or the jump drive.

The B2B company sending the package kept their name subtle and understated by having a small line at the top of the label that read: Symantec, and their address.

The package uses best practices all around, so I was impressed. The B2B marketing letter inside the envelope, which was not personalized, opened with:

“Congratulations! I’m delighted to let you know that you are one of the first respondents to our recent offer. That means you are the lucky winner of the enclosed free gift!”

My response to the opening line was “Yikes!” I have no clue what offer I had responded to that made me a winner. Then the letter goes on to say:

“Symantec Website Security Solutions is the choice for leaders in online security.”

That’s very nice of them to say, but I’m not a leader in online security and never have been. I’m a B2B marketer. I do subscribe to a few online technology publications to try to keep up with the industry a bit. But, in order to subscribe, those publications make me fill out an extensive form that would reveal instantly I am not a technology buyer. Anyone renting those lists could easily have selected IT titles only and not wasted $1.10 in postage and more sending me the package and the free drive.

But that’s not the only thing that made me say “yikes.” The enclosed jump drive was BLANK! The B2B marketer behind this effort missed a huge opportunity to include a video, a brochure, a case study or any number of strong communications that would have expanded the sales message. Most marketing specialty firms that provide branded jump drives will record messages on them for their buyers. So that would have been pretty easy to do.

Symantec is a respected company, with fine products. But whoever managed this B2B direct mail missed three basic best practices: properly target, remind people of what they did online to gain the marketer’s interest, and make full use of the power of the free gift.

It’s possible that this campaign may get into the hands of enough qualified prospects to generate enough business to pay for the cost of the campaign. But I believe that every marketing effort should attempt to maximize that response. That means doing everything right.

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Great B2B marketing ideas you may have missed.

The rising number of visitors to this blog is not only good for my ego, but also indicates that more and more B2B marketers out there are interested in knowing about and following B2B marketing best practices.

It occurred to me, that with many readers taking the day off to celebrate the great day of our nation’s independence, it might be time to remember this blog’s great history. It seems a perfect time to expose some of the more popular earlier posts to new visitors who may have missed them.

So below are links to five of my earlier posts that remain the most popular on this site. Note that getting “B2B marketing ideas” does seem to be a theme.

Three Great B2B Marketing Ideas I Read in (OMG) Print Media.

  • One over-the-top creative idea that was a big hit
  • Ideas for writing more powerful B2B marketing email subject lines
  • Report on the goals driving IT decision-makers and how they affect B2B marketing copy

Two simple B2B marketing ideas I wish I’d thought of.

  • Making it easy and inviting for prospects to access and share business/product information
  • Adding a powerful Web page that boosts communication and SEO

Five B2B marketing ideas you can implement (almost) instantly.

  • Boost content downloads
  • Increase landing page performance
  • Lighten the burden of creating nurturing content
  • Get a longer life out of email and direct mail content offers
  • Get better results by using the word FREE in subject lines and emails

The two biggest B2B marketing campaign essentials.

  • Targeting
  • Tracking

Bad thoughts that block B2B marketing success.

  • I’m reaching everyone I need to reach with email
  • Social media is the only way to go today
  • We tried that and it didn’t work

I wish all marketers out there a happy and safe Independence Day observance full of fun and festivities, and many years of successful B2B marketing using today’s best practices.

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Is your B2B marketing missing a secret ingredient?

The network of B2B marketers digitally sharing news, information and expertise through LinkedIn, Twitter, and dozens of other sites is currently focused on social media. Not long ago it was talking about email marketing, SEO and other tools available to B2B marketers today.

Each of those digital marketing methods has value for communicating, building relationships with prospective buyers, nurturing them through the buy-cycle and more. But there’s one thing digital media doesn’t do well and there’s one medium that can deliver it most consistently. This secret ingredient is “longevity” — and the medium is direct mail.

Tweets arrive, race through groups of users and are gone. The daily emails that arrive on the desktops of B2B buyers and influencers number in the hundreds. Email communications grab attention quickly and then are gone — often never to be seen again. There are times when they don’t even grab attention.

The only medium or channel that has the ability to stay around and add valuable longevity to a B2B marketing investment is printed material sent through the mail.

Printed material can physically sit in stacks on the desk to be picked up and read later. Printed material gets read offline when there are no other electronic distractions. Many business buyers take material to be read in the convenience of their home. Printed material gets filed for future reference.

I experienced this personally just this morning. I received an email invitation from a stranger to bid on a project. The inquiry was sent to my main email address, not the info@ address I use on my Web site. So naturally, I asked where the sender got my name.

Her answer: “I received a cold marketing letter from you in 2009 and saved it. How about that for longevity?”

Putting a physical piece, letter, brochure, data sheet, CD, or other bit of information in the hands of your targeted prospects gives them something to review at their leisure, save, pass along to associates, pass around at meetings, file and reference later.

It works now for generating qualified leads and gives your B2B marketing investment the long life that doesn’t readily exist in other B2B marketing channels.

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Two B2B marketing rules that cross all forms of communication.

After back-and-forth email discussion with a client today about subject lines on a particular email, I got to thinking about how what I was saying applied to all types of B2B communications.

The fact is, we want to be effective communicators whether the platform is an email, letter, PowerPoint presentation, Website, post card, brochure or who knows what else. If B2B marketers forget all the other rules and best practices of communication, they must remember these two as the basics of getting their messages read. They are simple to remember — but can make a powerful difference.

1. Keep it short.
People are multitasking. They may be reviewing their emails while on a conference call. Schedules are often booked solid all day long. Often they don’t have time to do more than take a quick eye scan of the communication.

B2B marketers are not usually in the same room with the reader when the messaging is being read. They aren’t there to see the person yawning, looking at their watch or not giving the message any more than a glance. The trick to keeping it short is to write the communication. Then let it sit overnight. Then review it the next day and remove every word and sentence that is not critical to its purpose.

Don’t go on and on about product details in a communication inviting attendees to a Webinar demo. Don’t give away all the details of a case study you’re asking prospects to download.

2. Forget your big vocabulary.
B2B marketing communication is always more effective when it uses simple, direct language. The easier it is to read by anyone, the better. Some assert that one should use formal language when talking to, say, academics. However, everyone, regardless of education level, prefers simple, straightforward language. This is especially true when learning about products or services they might want to use. Clearer, more basic language also helps keep the communication short.

This isn’t new advice. In fact it’s been said over and over and over again by me and others. What’s disappointing is how often I still see these rules broken. B2B marketers have a better chance of standing out from their competition in this crowded marketplace by just following these two simple rules.

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One B2B social media expert who’s got it wrong.

I’m not a social marketing expert. I don’t pretend to be. My expertise and knowledge are in the outbound arena. I’ve written many times that I still believe in outbound marketing because I see it working cost-effectively for all my B2B clients. They use it to reliably fill their pipeline.

Yes, inbound marketing is cheaper. Yes, it works. But users of it cannot control the volume or the timing of the inbound inquiries it receives. Outbound marketers using proven B2B direct marketing practices can.

Here’s the reason for my rant. Perusing B2B Marketing Zone, I saw the reposting of the blog by Dragan Mestrovic on his inBlurbs site “How to save 62 percent of your budget with inbound marketing.”

He knows inbound marketing. His advice and the statistics he presents are all perfectly valid.

This rant concerns what he says about outbound marketing because, on that subject, he’s way off base.

Outbound marketing communication is one-way.
Initially, it is. A B2B marketer sends a message that reaches out to a targeted group. That message, however, is designed to generate a response. The minute there is a response, the communication instantly becomes two-way.

Outbound marketers’ customers are sought out.
Of course they are. But the customers being reached are not random. By accessing targeted databases of opt-in customers, members of groups, trade show attendees, carefully compiled databases and more, the B2B marketing firm is reaching out to those companies and individuals who match the profile of their customers.

Outbound direct marketing has been around for so many years that the level of database sophistication is staggering. Unlike what Mestrovic proposes — that marketers fill out a persona sheet to build a customer profile — an outbound B2B marketer uses data companies such as Acxiom, Accudata or one of many others to build a statistically sound customer CHAID or regression model. That model is then matched against rental lists to find prospects that match the customer profile. There’s no guesswork involved.

Outbound marketers provide little or no added value.
Do inbound marketers think they invented content? It’s been around as long as direct marketing has been around. It used to be called an “offer.” That’s how outbound marketers get a response — by offering educational information. The very subject of the content is designed to generate qualified leads. B2B marketers test various offers against each other to let the response from the market tell them which is the best.

Outbound marketers rarely seek to educate or entertain.
See above about education. Entertainment can be part of any marketing message — outbound or inbound. But it needs to be used carefully, as a poor use of “cleverness” or “humor” in marketing can backfire and negatively affect the brand.

Mestrovic says that outbound marketing is losing its efficacy. But in the real world, B2B companies calculate what they are willing to pay to get a qualified lead and, once they do, they’ll find that outbound marketing is still a bargain and that, unlike inbound marketing, it can predictably generate those leads.

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Matching B2B marketing channels to buyer preferences.

With so much information appearing daily on the Internet, it becomes impossible to know which information to trust and which is just random opinion.

That’s why I was so happy when a colleague sent me a copy of a study from Epsilon Targeting, “The Formula for Success: Preference and Trust.” A division of Epsilon, a provider of consulting, marketing data, and marketing technology, they compiled responses from 2,226 U.S. and 2,574 Canadian age 18+ consumers to an online survey in August of 2011. Their statistical significance of the results is calculated at a 95% confidence level. This is their third study on the topic of marketing channel choices.

Readers may question why I would report on a consumer survey when the focus of this blog is B2B marketing. But I feel that the results of this survey translate very nicely into the B2B world, because business decision-makers are also consumers and naturally bring their personal preferences into the workplace.

Direct mail is the trust and attention-getting winner:

  • 26% of U.S. consumers and 30% of Canadians said direct mail is more trustworthy than email.
  • 50% of U.S. consumers and 48% of Canadians said they pay more attention to postal mail than email.
  • 60% of U.S. consumers and 64% of Canadians said they enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail, highlighting an emotional connection.
  • 30% of U.S. consumers said they’re receiving more mail that interests them compared to a year ago, and just 50% (down from 63% in 2010) said more information is sent to them in the mail — indicating marketers are improving targeting efforts.
  • The perception that reading email is faster declined among U.S. email account holders to 45% in 2011 (from 47% in 2010), suggesting clogged inboxes are draining time.

Email still has many advantages:

  • 42% of U.S. respondents like that they can choose to receive or not receive email.
  • 41% like the fact that they can decide whether to print out the information or not.
  • 34% of U.S. consumers (up from 21% in 2010) like the ability to be green and save on the use of paper.
  • 23% like the easy ability to forward information (a very valuable tool in B2B marketing).

From the above portion of the study’s results, it’s clear that both direct mail and email still have a place in B2B marketing. It supports my long-held position that direct mail is still the best outbound marketing channel for generating leads, and email is still the best for nurturing those leads through the buy cycle.

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