4 Things To Do First in Sales & Marketing

Giving Value

Giving Value
You may have recently started a new business. You might be a salesperson who wants to close more deals. Perhaps you’re a marketer who wants to attract and convert more website visitors.

Whatever your situation is or your business goals are, here are some ideas about what to do first to help achieve those goals.

Give value first

Giving value in the sales process

Jeffery Gitomer is a long time proponent (video) of giving value first in the sales process. According to Jeffrey, simply believing that you are giving value is not enough. Value has to be perceived by the recipient. He also says that you should give without expectation.

People like to buy. They don’t like to be sold. When you give value first, you are not selling (yet). You are building trust and making it more likely that someone will want to buy from you.

Of course, you may still need to go through the selling motions of presenting, quoting and negotiating. But the selling process becomes less pushy and requires less time and effort.

Giving value in your marketing activities

On the marketing front, an inbound approach revolves around giving value first. Greenlight Guru is a shining example of leading with value.

Greenlight designs Quality Management Software for the medical device industry. If you happen to be in that industry, Greenlight offers up a plethora of free content to help you run and grow your business.

Much of the content has nothing directly to do with what Greenlight sells. However, on the surface, it appears that Greenlight has created an environment that induces more buying activity and requires less selling activity on their part.

Promote others first

Some marketers only promote their own products and services on social media.

But why not socially promote other people and companies first—and your own company second?

This can be done with no more of an expectation than getting on someone’s radar. Here are some ideas:

1. Share and comment on the LinkedIn posts of thought leaders in your industry

2. Follow your customers and share their social posts across networks

3. Retweet the content of those who could potentially refer business to you

A nearby wine storage company consistently retweeted the wineries located in their geographic area in order to get on the radar of those wineries.

Here’s an example of sharing someone else’s LinkedIn post with a comment:

Refer a prospect to someone first

There are three general types of business referrals.

1. Sell leads for cash. This is the business model of software review sites such as SoftwareAdvice.

2. Hand off leads to partners in exchange for a referral fee that’s only paid if the lead becomes a paying customer.

3. Refer leads out to people in your network first with only a slight expectation that you’ll get something in return.

Unlike the first two approaches, the third one requires no formal program or tracking. The more you refer out, the more likely you’ll be to receive something in return. This approach works best if you are part of a network of businesspeople who sell into the same markets.

Give away some of your time first

It used to be that if someone wanted to break into an industry such as radio and television, they would start as a free intern.

Unpaid internships are less common than they used to be. But they are still exist and are still legal as long as the intern, not the employer, is the “primary beneficiary” of the work arrangement.

Some people who are in the early stages of their new business give some of their time for free in order to gain traction.

Even established businesses give their time away for free based on the principles of the 1-1-1 model. In the case of Salesforce, 1-1-1 was a foundational principle. Last I checked, the approach hadn’t hurt Salesforce’s business.

Why give away anything?

If you give something first without expectation (or with little expectation), it’s possible that nothing will happen. On the other hand, you may realize unexpected returns with unexpected timing. Examples:

1. Your average sales cycle may get shorter over time

2. Someone you promote or refer a lead to may think of you, your product or your service months or years down the road and send you a referral

3. If you’re a marketer, you may find yourself with an increasing number of leads to send to your company’s sales team

Speaking giving something first, please help yourself to our free SEO Blog Template for WordPress.

I’m not going to assume that you will find value in the template—but I hope you do.

Organic Search – What You Need to Know as a Marketer

Organic Gardening

Organic Gardening

What is ‘organic search’?

Since no one technically performs an organic search, the better question is, “what is an organic search result?”

The business adaptation of the word ‘organic’ that we found is, “characterized by continuous or natural development.” A company, for example, can grow organically by selling more of what it has and by creating more to sell. It also can grow by making acquisitions—paying to grow more quickly.

In the world of online search, ‘organic’ is used to differentiate unpaid search results from paid results (we’ll focus on Google search results from this point forward, since Google is currently the dominant search engine).

Incidentally, organic search results are only possible because of paid search results. Conversely, ads are most effective when they’re on the same page as organic results. If Google displayed nothing but paid ads in search results, those ads would not get nearly as much visibility.

Otherwise stated, were it not for the organic part, Google would not have earned $26.3 billion* in search revenue in Q3 of 2020.

*Also includes revenues generated from advertising on other Google owned and operated properties such as Gmail and Google Maps.

Invoking organic search results

To view organic results, type a query into the Google search bar and then hit the return key or click/tap the magnifying glass (it get less obvious from here).

The results for the query consists of information that Google extracts from online content that it knows about. This content can include text, images and video.

How does Google know about specific content? Googlebot constantly crawls the web looking for new and updated pages, images, videos and more. Google adds to and updates its large index of webpages.

A common form of extraction and presentation is familiar to all of us. A query plus a chunk of extracted information looks like this:

Example Organic Search Result

The results key elements are a clickable (or tap-able) title and a short snippet of text from a larger body of text.

Organic search results are fluid. Which results are presented on the page and in what order is in a constant state of flux. Organic results often vary by the location of the person who enters the query.


TIP

If you are logged into a Google account in your browser window, some of the results you see may be specific to you.

To remove a lot of what Google knows about you as a factor, enter your query in an incognito or private browser window.

Google Chrome Incognito Mode

 

Organic results are not completely natural, to the extent that Google’s algorithm is very deliberate as to what someone is presented on the page.

However, ‘organic search results’ is a more euphemistic term than ‘non-paid search results’—so it’s as good a term as any.

Often, content that is discovered, extracted and presented was done so without the content creator having had any intention for their content to be found and displayed by a search engine.

If someone is offended by seeing a reference to their content in the organic search results, they can tell Google and other search engines to stop displaying it. This is done by adding some code to their page that tells search engines, “do not add this to your index.”

On the other hand, if a content creator wants their content to be found, they can take deliberate steps to get their content extracted and presented in the search results. This practice is part of an inbound marketing strategy.

Part of inbound marketing involves creating content with the intention of having pieces of the content extracted and presented in the search results, along with a link to the full content.

The link is what drives new and repeat visitors (what Google Analytics calls ‘users’) to your site.

How does Google decide what to display?

Google has a sophisticated algorithm that decides what organic search results to display for a given query.

What is displayed generally depends on the relevance of the search result to your query and on the authority of the domain (company-name.com) that hosts the content.

Authority is determined by a number of factors, including the longevity of the domain and the quantity of content. Even more important is the objective quality of a website’s content. In other words, I can write what I believe to be a lot of very useful content—but it doesn’t matter what I believe. Others have to find it useful.

Others effectively vote for the quality of a website’s content in a number of ways. One way is by the amount of time they spend reading or staring at content. But the strongest yes vote for the quality of your content is when someone links to your content from their content—particularly if their domain has high authority. This link is called a backlink.

Let’s look at another #1 organic search result.

If you type ‘what is crm’ or just ‘crm’ into the Google search bar, the #1 organic search result you will likely see is reference to this article on the Salesforce.com website. Google’s algorithm has deemed this to be the best answer to your query.

Organic Search Result for "What is CRM"

According to Ahrefs.com, over 64,000 people per month in the U.S. find and visit this page through organic search.

In fact, Ahrefs estimates that Salesforce would have to spend a million dollars a month for pay-per-click advertising to get the equivalent traffic that this page gets organically. This is a dramatic example of why many businesses should make an effort to get at least some of their content to rank high in the search results.

Ahrefs Overview of What is CRM Post

To determine relevance, Google makes an association between your query and the words on a page. Google applies natural language understanding to the words.

Google’s AI tries to find contextual meaning on a page, rather than simply analyzing the page for individual keywords. It does this by applying the concept of entities. For example, in the right context:

  • ‘customer’ is a person
  • ‘competitor’ is an organization
  • ‘san francisco’ is a location
  • ‘desktop computer’ is a consumer good
  • ‘$799’ is a price

You can paste the text from one of your webpages into the box on this page and click the Analyze button to get a sense of how Google natural language engine interprets your content.

Other types of organic search results

Let’s refer to the results we showed above as ‘organic listings’ since there are other types of non paid results that we believe qualify as ‘organic’, although they’re not normally referred to as such.

Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is a richer extraction of content than a listing. The snippet appears at the top of the search results. Here’s an example of a list. Other forms of featured snippet include tables and steps (such as recipes).

Featured Snippet: CRM Requirements

We won’t get into all the details of featured snippets, but you can learn more in this excellent article by Backlinko.

Local Pack

If you search for a local product or service, you will usually see a Local Pack somewhere on the page.

Google Local Pack: Plumber Near Me

The prerequisite for a business showing up in the Local Pack is that it has a Google My Business (GMB) page. Google automatically creates GMB pages for almost all local business—and for a lot of non local businesses.

The brief advice here is to beef up your GMB page with reviews, posts, pictures, videos, products, service and more.

People also ask

People also ask (PAA) is Google’s way of using the search query to form relevant questions and extract answers from the webpages in its index.

People also ask: Buying CRM

Once again, we won’t get into the details. But here’s a schooling on PAA from Joshua Hardwick of Ahrefs.

The elephant on this page

Elephant in ThailandAnd now for the elephant (we met JuJu in Thailand).

That is, organic listings have been increasingly crowded out by ads and other organic elements such as the ones above—to the point that for many queries, organic listings are “below the fold.” In other words, you have to scroll down the results page to see them.

Does this mean you shouldn’t try to get your content to rank high in the organic search results? Salesforce has given us 64,000 reasons (a month) with a single article as to why you should still make an effort to get some of your content to rank.

Because of the crowding out of listings, it’s generally better if you focus on content that will rank for queries that don’t trigger as many different forms of search engine results. Writing about niche topics and optimizing your content for longer tail keywords & for more Google entities are approaches to consider.

8 Website Issues That May Be Costing You Sales Leads

Broken Website Links

Website Issue: Broken LinksWebsite issues can have a detrimental affect on your SEO.

Good SEO is the sum of many little things done well. Conversely, if a lot of little things are on your website are not done right, the cost can be less website traffic.

Less website traffic means fewer visitors that you can potentially convert into marketing prospects. Fewer marketing prospects means not as many marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for your sales team.

Otherwise stated, these issues hamper your company’s content marketing efforts. Your team can spend a lot of time writing great content. However, Google won’t see your website in quite as favorable a light if it has a number of problems.

In fact, Google announced that starting in 2021, it would start to put even more emphasis on a page’s user experience.

Common website issues

Here are some common issues, what they mean and how to fix them.

If you are a business owner, your marketing manager (or outside marketing consultant) and your web designer should be able to address these in tandem.

1. Broken internal links

It’s good practice to un-publish older blog posts that get “low to no” traffic. However, sometimes content that has been unpublished had links from other pages. Since those links now go to an error page on your website (technically called a 404 error), they are considered to be broken.

The fix is to simply remove those broken internal links from your content. Alternatively, you could replace broken links with links to relevant, currently published content.


Note: To see your website’s 404 error page user experience, enter this into your browser’s address bar: https://yourdomain.com/[somerandomtext] .

You may find that this page could better reflect your brand and messaging.

 

2. Broken links to external sites

It’s also good practice to link your blog posts to one or two external pages. However, the owners of websites you have linked to in the past may unpublish pages and posts for their own reasons. When that happens, you end up with broken links to those sites.

Salesforce.com 404 Error Page

The fix is the same as in #1 above—remove or replace the link.

3. Internal links to Insecure Pages

At some point, your web designer may have added an SSL certificate to your website. This changed all your URL prefixes from HTTP (insecure) to HTTPS (secure). However, you may still have links within your content that reference internal pages using the old HTTP prefix.


PRO TIP

A WordPress admin can run the following SQL statement on the wp_posts MySQL table to update all internal HTTP references in blog content:

update wp_posts set post_content =
replace(post_content,’http://yourdomain.com’,’https://yourdomain.com’)

 

4. Orphan pages

Unless there’s a page that you don’t want the general public to see (maybe it’s a page only for your customers) all pages should have an internal link from the menus or from another page.

Internal links are important to Google, but are often overlooked.

5. Missing H1 headings

Google Docs Heading StructureMicrosoft Word and Google Docs make it easy to structure a document with a hierarchy of headings for readability. The same concept applies to website content.

Including a single Heading 1 (or H1 heading in webspeak) on each website page is one of the most fundamental of SEO conventions. Yet amazingly, many WordPress theme developers do not set the default page and post titles to H1 headings.

Improper heading structure is also an accessibility issue.

You can use a free browser extension called SEOQuake to see if your pages and posts have H1 (and other) headings.

If you don’t have H1’s, ask your web designer to update your site.


Note: it’s up a content author or editor to include H2 and/or H3 headings in the body of a page.

 

6. Empty meta description tag

By adding text to a page’s meta description, you have partial control over what someone sees in the search engine results snippet. “Partial”, because Google displays what you put in a meta description only 37% of the time.

The other 63% of the time, Google puts whatever it wants to in the snippet. Still, it’s worth including a meta description on every page to encourage clicks through to your website. This is what it looks like when your meta description is used in the snippet:

Meta Description in SERP Snippet

The aforementioned SEOQuake will tell you whether or not a page has a meta description.

7. Large files

You may have uploaded some large image files in the past without first resizing and compressing them.

WordPress users can use a tool like reSmush.it to optimize all of their website’s images.

If you only have a few large image files, you can run them through a site like TinyPNG and then re-upload them.

8. Slow pages

Slow pages result in fewer website visitors. Why? Because if it takes just a few seconds for a page on your site to load, that may be long enough for some people to hit the “back” button on their browser.

Addressing slow pages is a fairly broad topic. You can start by reading our post about Google’s performance measuring tool.

How can you get a report of these issues?

While a browser extension like SEOQuake is good for spot checks, how can you get a website-wide report of these types of issues?

Ahrefs.com, a popular web analytics company, is now offering a their Site Explorer and Site Audit capabilities for free. The brand for this limited feature set is Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT).

Anyone in your company who is a property owner in Google Search Console (GSC) can create their own free account. There are three other ownership verification methods available if you don’t want Ahrefs to connect to your GSC account.

Once someone is signed up, they can add any of the Google Search Console properties as projects within AWT.

8 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From ActiveCampaign Integration With Salesforce

ActiveCampaign Salesforce Integration Mapping

ActiveCampaign’s built-in CRM is sufficient some organizations. However, other organizations that use ActiveCampaign need the full power of Salesforce. While Salesforce is generally perceived as a high-end CRM, Salesforce Essentials is an affordable option for small business.

Conversely, for Salesforce small to mid size business customers that have made the decision to adopt a marketing automation system, ActiveCampaign is a surprisingly powerful customer experience platform that’s worth considering. It also comes at a lower cost than other popular marketing systems.

ActiveCampaign released direct integration with Salesforce in 2019.

Tailoring the ActiveCampaign Salesforce integration

The AppExchange app for Salesforce has a number of integration options. You can decide whether to synchronize only Salesforce Leads with ActiveCampaign Contacts or to also sync Salesforce Contacts. You can choose which standard and custom fields to map between platforms.

ActiveCampaign Salesforce Integration Mapping

Layering On More Value

Through the use of custom fields, Salesforce Lightning Process Builder and ActiveCampaign Automations, you can add a lot of business value to the stock integration between the two platforms—without the need for hiring a developer.

Part of this value is pre-baked into freely available ActiveCampaign recipes.

The following will serve as examples of how the integration can be tailored. You will likely come up with your own set of requirements and resulting configurations.
 
1. Qualify website Leads before sending them to Salesforce

If a visitor to your website submits their information through a form and is then added to an ActiveCampaign list, you can require that the Contact take further action before they’re synchronized to Salesforce as a new Lead.

For example, the Contact must open a follow-up email or they need to make a return visit to your website before they are passed through to sales.

This will allow your salespeople to focus on the highest quality leads.
 
2. Enrich website leads prior to and after sending them to Salesforce

Before an ActiveCampaign Contact is passed through to Salesforce as a Lead, additional information can first be added to that Contact. This information can be synchronized with Salesforce. Upon Lead creation in Salesforce, a Process can be used to add even more information to the Lead.

For example, the name of the form that the Lead filled in can be added and synced to Salesforce. The Lead Source can be set to “Website Form” on Lead creation.

Your salespeople will be better informed when following up with Leads.

ActiveCampaign Salesforce Lead Enrichment
 
3. Allow your salespeople to add a Lead to an ActiveCampaign email sequence

A salesperson has a conversation with a Lead. The Lead’s organization is a fit for your products or services, but the timing is not right. You may want to send an informative email out to the Lead every month or quarter to stay top of mind.

A salesperson has access to a button that lets them select any ActiveCampaign Automation that has been labeled “Salesforce.”

Send Salesforce Lead to ActiveCampaign Nurture
 
4. Allow salespeople to subscribe a Lead to your blog

If you manage your blog subscriptions in ActiveCampaign, with the Lead’s permission, a salesperson can add a Lead to your blog subscription list.

This is another way to keep your brand in front of a Lead or a customer.

Subscribe Salesforce Lead to Blog
 
5. Halt an automated follow up series of emails when a salesperson makes progress with a Lead

A website visitor downloads a checklist or other digital asset in exchange for their name and email address. You have set ActiveCampaign to automatically send two or more follow up emails. But if a salesperson gets into direct contact with the Lead, the automated emails should be suspended.

You can instruct ActiveCampaign to halt an automated email sequence when a Lead progresses to a Status such as “Contacted”, “Working” or “Qualified” in Salesforce.
 
6. Automatically add Contacts at new customers to targeted email lists in ActiveCampaign

An Opportunity is marked Closed Won in Salesforce by a salesperson. You now have a new customer. The new customer Account has associated Contacts with different roles within their organization. Moving forward, you want to keep Contacts current with information that’s relevant to their role.

For example, “buyer” contacts can receive upcoming renewal notifications. Technical contacts can receive security alerts and similar notifications.
 
7. Inform salespeople of customer website activity

If you add ActiveCampaign tracking code to your website, the website activity of Leads and customers can be displayed in Salesforce.

Salespeople can use the information about someone’s website engagement to direct the next email or conversation.
 
8. Manage partner referred Leads

If you receive leads from referral partners, you can create an efficient end-to-end process for capturing and tracking partner referred leads. You can also ensure that partners are compensated for those valuable referrals so that partners keep the referrals coming.

In a future post, I’ll outline the mechanics for capturing and managing partner referred leads using ActiveCampaign and Salesforce CRM.

Sales and marketing agreement on functionality

These are just a few examples of how you can take the ActiveCampaign to Salesforce integration to the next level.

There should be ongoing conversations between the sales and marketing teams to define and refine the rules that determine what information is transferred between systems and under what conditions.

If you’d like to discuss integration requirements specific to your business, please contact us.

Need More Quality Backlinks? Where to Spend Your Time

Getting More Backlinks

Getting More BacklinksBacklinks are links from other websites to your website.

There’s little question that obtaining quality backlinks will boost your content in the search engine results.

Quality backlinks have the following characteristics:

Characteristic #1: They are links to your website from high authority websites

Moz’s measure of authority is simply Domain Authority or DA. Ahrefs.com’s measure is Domain Rating. Both are on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100.

A brand new domain starts with a rating of 0. In general, the more authoritative the domain that links to your website, the higher the SEO value.

Characteristic #2: They have the dofollow attribute

The default attribute of a link is dofollow. These links pass value from one website to another.

Links with the nofollow attribute have some value, but not nearly as much as dofollow links.

Characteristic #3: They are from well-written content rather than from listings pages

In general, a contextually relevant backlink that’s within a well written piece of content is better than a link from, say, a business listing page.
 

Where to focus?

There’s a lot of content out there that advises on how to get backlinks. However, some of the recommendations have a high effort to value ratio.

When it comes to obtaining backlinks, what activities are a questionable use of your time (and money)? What activities are a good use of your time?
 

Questionable uses of your time

I’m not saying “don’t do any of these.” However, it is worth questioning the value of these three approaches.

Purchasing backlinks

Paid backlinks used to be an effective form of backlink.

However, John Mueller of Google recently told Search Engine Journal that Google ignores paid backlinks.

Adding links to your website in comments and forums

In general, anywhere you can easily to add a link to your content, that backlink will have the nofollow attribute.

The owners of those sites and apps realize that if any added link was dofollow, their properties would become a big magnet for irrelevant links. So, the nofollow attribute is commonly added to any link that is posted.

We have seen a few exceptions. For example, the owner of an online community site that has generally responsible audience members who add helpful, relevant links may want to reward those members.

Cold outreach for backlinks

Cold outreach for links is often a full time job that involves a high volume of emailing to writers, marketers and business owners.

A lot of people do cold outreach using the following type of persuasive email. The technique starts with flattery and a promise to share your content. It then casts some doubt as to the freshness of your content. By linking to them, you will “enhance” your content…

Receiving these emails is actually a good gauge of how well your content marketing efforts are doing. As your website’s domain authority or rating increases, you provide more benefit to the websites that your site’s content links to. Those doing outreach want backlinks that will to boost their website’s authority.

Here is a [sanitized] example that a customer received and recently forwarded to me:
 


Hello David,

My name’s Edward from Outreach Inc., a leading software discovery and research platform. I was recently working on an email statistics article which included market share and critical data analysis and it led me to your article: https://yourdomain.com/category/blog-post/ I found it really insightful and well written. This is something I’ll definitely make sure to promote among my colleagues.

However, I think there is some data used that might be slightly outdated. Perhaps you’d be interested in updating your article and check an earlier piece we made on number of email users we published recently, you can find it here: https://outreachers.com/category/blog-post

I’m convinced that you will find it useful as it includes relevant information like user demographics, types of devices used to access email, read rates and other important statistics. We also made sure to present it in an easy to follow format and use interactive graphs and bullet points to summarize every section.

I hope you’ll find it useful and consider enhancing your article by adding our post as one of the references in your article.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,
Edward

 

For someone who has just started to receive these types of emails, they think there’s benefit in it for them. That’s why they work. Customers often forward these types of to me and ask for my thoughts.

If you were to send out a lot of emails like this, would it be a good use of your time or your staff’s time? This approach must work to some extent, as a lot of people send these. On the other hand, many people (like me) have reached a saturation point and immediately block the senders of this type of email.

 

Good uses of your time

Warm outreach for backlinks

Start by asking some of those with whom you’re friendly for backlinks.

If your company is a partner of a software company or is a distributor for a manufacturer, you may (or should) have content that casts that vendor in a favorable light. If so, why not reach out to someone you know at the partner company and ask them for a link?

Ask your SEO or content marketing agency for a link

Your marketing agency likely has a medium to high Domain Rating, since they are usually good content producers themselves. As such, they meet Characteristic #1 above. If they can also meet Characteristic #3 by including a link to one of your blog posts from a quality piece of their content, this will make for a valuable backlink.

If they simply have a customer logo backlink to your home page, that’s not as valuable from an SEO perspective.

Write linkbait content

A tactic that can work well is to intentionally write content that baits authors (in a good way). This includes content such as statistics, survey results and niche calculators that may be more likely to attract links than does more text-oriented content.

The catch is that linkbait usually requires a lot more effort than a purely text-based article.

As an example, it took hours of my time plus paying and project managing a WordPress developer to create this CRM Cost Calculator. However, it has dofollow backlinks from eight domains, including links from domains with ratings of 92, 64 and 48.

Write content that gets organic backlinks without a focus on getting links

How can you make your collective content worthy of backlinks?

Consistently publish informative, well-optimized content. Over time, other content creators will find your content and some will find a post or posts to be linkworthy.

You’ll have some hits and misses, but your persistence will pay.

Did I miss something important? Let me know on Twitter.

Is Audio Marketing a Part of Your Content Strategy?

CRM Podcast: CRM Talk

Since we first published this post about audio marketing over five years ago, podcasting has gone from “some people know what it is” to “most people know what it is.” While we have had to make a number of updates, much of what we wrote about audio marketing back then is still relevant today.

 

Audio Marketing ContentIn terms of content marketing channels, lagging behind blogging, video marketing and social media marketing is audio marketing.

Should marketers consider adding audio to their marketing mix? For many types of organizations, the answer is “yes.”

While there are a few caveats associated with this type of social channel, there are a number of reasons to at least test the use of audio content for marketing purposes.

Read more

Behavioral Segmentation for SMB Marketers Made Easy

Marketing Segments

Marketing SegmentsBehavioral segmentation is the process of grouping an audience based on how they interact with your emails, your website posts & pages and through other actions that you can measure.

The idea is that once a group is created, members of that segment can receive more targeted and relevant (to them) communications in the future. This, in turn, can increase engagement, improve customer retention and generate more sales opportunities.

Read more

How to Set Up a WordPress Blog Subscription Using ActiveCampaign

Subscribe to WordPress Blog

Subscribe to WordPress BlogMany company WordPress blogs do not offer an email subscription to readers. This is a missed opportunity for better engaging those who have found benefit to your blog content.

Companies that do offer email subscriptions may be using the subscription feature of Google Feedburner (as we did until recently). While Feedburner’s subscription function is convenient, marketers can take greater control of the process by managing WordPress blog subscriptions within their marketing automation system.

Read more

Visual Workflow Builders: ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot vs Pardot

Marketing Automation Visual Flow Builder

Marketing Automation Visual Flow BuilderMany marketing automation vendors have added visual marketing workflow builders to their platform at one point or another.

Three vendors with similar offerings on this front are ActiveCampaign, HubSpot and Salesforce Pardot.

Aside from making the implementation of rules & logic easier for marketers, these builders help ensure that the right person gets the right message at the right time. They also allow marketers to perform their own behavioral segmentation.

Read more

Why Effective B2B Marketing Segmentation Is Difficult and What to Do About it

B2B Marketing Segmentation

B2B Marketing SegmentationMany B2B marketers are guilty of blanketing a wide variety of prospects with the exact same outbound content, regardless of a prospect’s industry, job role or company size.

Similarly, a lot of marketers send the exact same email message to all customer contacts, regardless of a contact’s role or which of their company’s products or services a contact’s company is currently using.

In both these cases, there’s low to no marketing segmentation—which means one big target for each.

When too many email recipients frequently receive irrelevant (to them) information, there are several consequences. One consequence is a high unsubscribe rate. The other is fewer email opens. A low ratio of opens to sends can lead to an overall decline in sender reputation for a company.

Segmenting B2B leads and contacts into smaller groups and creating more diverse content results in more relevant, targeted communications. But effective B2B marketing segmentation is easier said than done.

Let’s first look at what factors make B2B segmentation difficult. Then we’ll look at some potential solutions.

Barriers to effective B2B marketing segmentation

The data source for marketing segmentation is often a combination of a CRM system and a marketing automation system. Many businesses use best of breed CRM & MA solutions and synchronize them with one another.

But even with these tools in place, effective B2B marketing segmentation can require a lot of time and effort. Here are some of the reasons.

People’s job titles are all over the map

Customer Happiness ManagerIf you target customer service managers with one of your products or services, wouldn’t it be great if every customer service manager in your target list had the exact same job title on their business card?

Try exporting a list of contact titles from your CRM system and then pivot on the titles in a spreadsheet. You will likely be surprised by how many job titles in a list are unique from the rest.

I recently pivoted on one of a customer’s target contact lists and found out that all but 18 of 383 contacts in the list had a unique title.

Buyers in different size companies have different job roles

B2B marketers may need to target different job roles in companies of different sizes.

For example, while the CFO at a smaller company may be directly involved in the purchase of one of your company’s products or services, this may not be the case at a larger company.

B2B companies sell into multiple sectors

Another dimension for many B2B companies is industry or sector.

Some companies have different flavors of their offering for different industries. It’s common for a product or service to solve different types of problems across sectors.

Different buying responsibilities across target companies

Buying decisions for the same product or service may be made by different roles, depending on the organization.

A example is CRM buying. Sometimes CRM is a purchase driven by the VP of Sales and sometimes it’s an IT purchase.

A lack of online profile data

As consumers, we’re constantly providing a valuable flow of our demographic, psychographic, behavioral and geographic data to B2C marketers. Where we drive, what we purchase, what streaming series we watch, who we vote for, what we post, and a lot of other inputs—this is all data that is being collected, fed upstream, and used by B2C marketers to digitally target us.

But as business employees or owners, we’re not feeding nearly as much useful data upstream. The B2B marketer’s vision of us is much more obscure.

Incomplete business data

If customer purchase history is locked up in an ERP system and not available in a CRM system, it’s very difficult to target people based on what product or service their company has from us—and, more important, what they could be buying from us.

❓The CEO may have asked why we are not selling more B widgets to our A widget customers.

 

Not enough time to strategize and plan

For busy marketing departments with many competing priorities, it can seem that there aren’t enough hours in the day to strategize on a segmentation approach.

A lack of internal resources

Even if there’s a solid strategy and a plan for segmenting contacts, a company may not have the resources to make all the necessary record updates.

Also, the beauty of sending the same message to everyone is that only one message needs to be authored. With segmentation comes a greater content development effort and therefore more resource requirements.

Approaches to Better B2B Segmentation

SegmentsOne level of solution is to devote resources to consolidate and normalize the important dimensions in CRM and marketing automation databases.

When it comes to the available data values for a given dimension, less is often more for better segmentation.

Role buckets

If you distill an unmanageably large number of different job titles into a much smaller number of roles, it will be easier to target the right people with your marketing messages.

Step 1 is to define the roles and then Step 2 is to map titles to roles. This takes a lot of manual effort but may be worth it in the long run.

Automatic role assignment is a good use case for artificial intelligence. An AI could consume existing mappings and learn from those to perform future mappings.

Company size (revenue or number of employees)

Revenue is a dimension that can have a large number of different values. If the company size or revenue field is a dollar amount, there could be 100% unique values across records.

In finance, simple company segmentation is small cap, mid cap and large cap. Consider dividing your market’s company size into two or three buckets.

Industries or sectors

Different big data sources can have varying names for the same industry.

Start by coming up with the right set of target industry or sector names as they apply to your company. Then map external data source names to your naming conventions.

Your internal list of target industries or sectors may differ substantially from the default list of industry values that your CRM system comes with. You can effectively ignore a CRM system’s out of the box industry pick list values.

Behavioral segmentation

Hubspot Workflow Sample ActionsWith the right tools in place, email recipient and website visitor behaviors can be captured.

Whether you’re using actions in a HubSpot Workflow, a Pardot Engagement Program or an ActiveCampaign Automation, there are many ways you can turn behavior into useful data points for refining segments.

Tools like these allow for automatically updating Contact records with new field values, tags, list membership, campaign membership and more.
 
 

🎯 Behavioral segmentation is an underutilized “secret weapon” that’s available to many marketers within their company’s marketing automation system.

 

Allocating time & resources to pull it all together

If marketing can make a business case that more targeted outbound communications will result in more marketing qualified leads and more cross-sell opportunities, it will be easier to allocate time and obtain resources.

One approach is to start by segmenting contacts on one dimension and then measure results. If there are positive results, expand segmentation to other dimensions.

Why You Should Be Using Sales Orders in CRM

CRM Sales Orders

CRM Sales OrdersFor many types of businesses, the creation of a CRM sales order is (or should be) the logical next step in the CRM process after an sales opportunity is marked “won”.

In this post we’ll look at the business benefits of using CRM sales orders. We’ll then look an example implementation of orders in CRM.

While the information in a CRM order can be used to generate a traditional confirmation document for a customer, this post will focus on the internal usage and value of orders.

Read more

CRM Data Validation: 8 Examples of Custom Rules

CRM Data Validation: 8 Examples of Custom Rules

CRM Data Validation: 8 Examples of Custom RulesData validation is a process for making sure that entries into a database are both meaningful and correct. In other words, data validation helps prevent bad information from being entered into a database, including a CRM system database.

Because of CRM’s role in an organization, some types of data CRM validation can actually increase revenue.

Read more

When Buying a CRM System is The Wrong Choice

Boss Saying "No" to CRM

Boss Saying "No" to CRMOne of the unspoken assumptions our prospects have when they come to us to discuss help with CRM evaluation and selection is: whichever product is selected, it will be better than what’s currently in place. But recently, one of our consultants was asked an interesting question that we felt warranted further examination.

The question was, “Is one of the possible outcomes of your evaluation to not invest in a CRM system and leave things the way they are?”

It was a great question. Can a company be better off by continuing to rely on legacy systems, spreadsheets, and Post-it notes?

Read more

What is CRM artificial intelligence and what can it do for my business?

CRM Artificial Intelligence

Updated: September 20, 2018

CRM Artificial IntelligenceIt was only a matter of time before artificial intelligence was embedded in CRM. Next year we’ll probably see self-aware water coolers. Skynet can’t be much further behind, right?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit far-fetched. But CRM with artificial intelligence is very much a real thing now, and the implications it has for your business are substantial. But before you start panicking about your CRM system displacing real people in sales and marketing, let’s take a moment to examine what AI is, what it can and can’t do, and how to work with it rather than around it.

Read more

21 Business Blogging Mistakes That Reduce Lead Volume

Business Blogging Mistakes

Updated: August 22, 2019

Business Blogging MistakesWith more marketers focusing on blog content for attracting website visitors via organic search results and social promotion, it’s a greater challenge than ever for a business blog to stand out in an ever expanding sea of web content.

This, in turn, means it’s more important than ever for business bloggers to avoid the mistakes that result in less traffic and fewer conversions than would be otherwise possible.

While there are many forms of content marketing, blogging can be one of the most effective forms when done correctly.

Here are 20 common business blogging mistakes that can stop sales leads before they start.

Read more

Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365: The Ultimate Objective Comparison

Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365

Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365

Updated: December 1, 2020

This is a fact-based comparison of Salesforce® and Microsoft Dynamics™ 365.

For those who work for an organization that is moving toward a new CRM solution, the information below is a starting point.

While we have attempted as much as possible to keep this analysis a statement of facts, we expect that advocates for each solution will find areas that appear slanted in the direction of the other.

The analysis primarily focuses on out-of-the-box functionality. We have intentionally limited the number of references to third party products.

Read more

CRM Requirements Example Document

CRM Requirements Example

CRM Requirements ExampleIt’s difficult to start a CRM requirements document from a blank slate.

While every business is different, the following set of example CRM requirements, which are based on a fictional kiosk manufacturer, provides a framework for the type of information that can be given to a would-be CRM implementation company.

This type of document can give CRM service providers a substantial amount of the information they need to more precisely estimate the scope of required CRM services. Many additional questions usually need to be posed before a services estimate is provided.

Read more