You can come up with all sorts of marketing strategies that would impress the most discriminating of C-suites; but, if you don’t have the right people in place to execute those strategies, all your hard work will have been for naught.
So how do you attract great marketers, keep them happy and productive, and help them reach their full potential? A people strategy.
Effective people strategies are critical to attract, interview, assess, hire, onboard, keep, and promote talented people who can take your organization to the next level.
People strategies also give you the insight you need to choose the right people, identify and capitalize on their skills and talents, and keep them motivated to do great work.
Successful people-strategies capitalize on three winning characteristics: being purpose-driven, performance-oriented, and principle-led.
Here is your seven-step people strategy for an unbeatable marketing team.
Is your martech stack a machine to create the emotional connections that drive buying behavior?
Now that your digital transformation is underway, it’s time to focus on the elephant in the room: Are all of your investments and hard work paying off?
Gartner’s recent prediction that 80% of marketers will abandon their personalization efforts by 2025 suggests that, for many marketers, the answer is “no.” And in a world where people say how a brand makes them feel is one of the most important factors in their buying decisions, the reason may be that we’ve focused our martech stacks on the wrong objective.
To get closer to their customers, many companies have spent heavily on data collection and analysis technologies. But although now we may know more than ever about who our customers are, we seem to have spent significantly less time understanding their needs and putting those at the core of strategy.
Research shows that we’re focusing on technology at the expense of the people with whom we are trying to connect. According to PwC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey, 59% of consumers say companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience. That lack of customer empathy indicates companies have a deeper problem with their martech stacks, and they need to address that problem.
The Mismatch Between Content Supply and Demand
Consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides them with a personalized omnichannel experience. In a world where we’re bombarded by information, context is everything. That means it isn’t enough for a brand to interact with its customers everywhere. To offer a truly positive experience, brands have to be able to share relevant content with customers at the right points throughout the customer journey.
Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about and creating content, but many of us are struggling to create content at scale quickly enough to deliver personalized customer experiences. This is the “Content Crisis.” It is caused by a slow and inefficient content production line that leaves marketers struggling to locate, manage, share, and repurpose the assets they do have, starving them of the new content they need to operate in an omnichannel world.
One common denominator we see is that companies have multiple content sources and content repositories. Those storage areas and content sources fragment your content across separate silos. Teams stick with their preferred tools for content creation and management instead of unified resources, and they share that content with other groups, further exacerbating the problem.
How to Reclaim Your Content
A broken content strategy negatively impacts not only company productivity but also the bottom line. The solution can be found in a centralized content hub.
Such a content hub provides a centralized platform to help your brand avoid the negative impacts of branding inconsistencies, lack of personalization, and the spiraling costs that result. Without one, it’s not only much harder to adequately deliver the content your customers need but also, down the line, you’re limited in your ability to gather appropriate data on your customers, which can be used to tailor better experiences for them continuously.
In our experience, the main requirements for an enterprise-ready content hub include the abilities to…
With those capabilities, asset management, searching, and filtering become much easier. And business users and brand managers can finally get content out of the channels and silos, placing them instead into a centralized system where editors can collaborate, manage, and repurpose content.
Getting to the root of the problem and solving your content crisis requires understanding where the holes in your current strategy are before you can begin to plug them. Are you ready to solve these problems and start reclaiming the emotional connection with your customers?
Download the Sitecore e-book on How to Solve Your Content Crisis for a list of the steps you need to take to overcome your content crisis and get back on track.
The trouble with search engine optimization (SEO) is that it takes a long time to work and doesn’t come with any guarantees. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, on the other hand, can provide results a lot faster. For companies that have no organic presence and need ROI fast, a paid ad is sometimes your best bet for driving traffic to (and conversions from) your website.
The problem is that your competitors are using the same search terms and keywords you will. Not only do you need to know how to build a campaign through Google Ads, but you also need to know how to stand out from the crowd.
When I was younger and I listened to Hannah Montana sing “The Best of Both Worlds,” I didn’t fully understand what she meant.
Now, as a marketer, I get it.
Having the best of both worlds is the feeling you have when your company’s marketing automation software and CRM work in tandem.
As a marketer, it’s undeniably critical you’re fully aware of your own budget and resources, and use that information when making decisions.
For instance, let’s say you’re a marketer at a startup, and have decided to propose investing in Twitter Ads to the decision-makers at your company.
Of course, one of the biggest questions you’ll be asked is, “How much is this going to cost?”
If you’ve prepared a marketing budget, you can refer back to it for the answer. A budget shows how much you have to spend on campaigns overall, and the ‘Paid Advertising’ section shows how much you intend to spend on social ads.
With numbers from the budget, you can demonstrate how Twitter Ads fit into the overall strategy, and prove your team can afford to make those purchases.
Additionally, when you know the revenue available for marketing efforts, you can then decide how to maximize your spending to align with your goals.
Marketing budgets are imperative to a company’s success. However, if you work for a smaller startup, resources and money can be tight, making it difficult to determine how much should be spent on marketing.
Here, let’s explore the typical budget for marketing teams at start-ups, so you have a ballpark to consider when determining your own team’s marketing budget.
When your company is new it can be confusing to determine an initial marketing budget. In some cases, budget decisions are top-down, inspired by competitors, or made by setting a goal. If all of those routes don’t fit your startup’s operations, begin with just one thing: revenue.
Startup marketing budgets outline the money a new company intends to spend on marketing functions. Startups generally factor in key expenses in their budget, like advertising, content marketing, technology, and automation software.
Later, we’ll explore a few more expenses to take into consideration when planning your marketing budget, but first let’s talk about how you can use revenue to start fleshing out how much you can spend.
Figuring out your gross revenue and how much of that is going to go towards your marketing budget is going to be your biggest asset when figuring out how much you’re going to spend.
You’re going to use money from your gross revenue to fund your marketing budget. So, how much of your gross revenue will you need? Well, according to a recent survey, the average marketing budget for startups is 11.2% of overall revenue, in order to have enough to build brand awareness and start attracting leads.
Gross revenue is earned revenue before any deductions or wages. The estimated revenue is the number of earnings expected to earn over a period of time. Generally, startups spend about 11% of their revenue on their marketing budget.
To find your gross revenue, calculate your total number of sales. From there, you can figure out how much you’re going to spend on your budget. For startups that don’t have gross revenue yet, estimate how much you are expecting to make over a year and use those numbers as benchmarks.
For another resource to help calculate revenue, try an online calculator, like this one from Small Business Association. The process of building a budget based on revenue is helpful for startups because it’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of how much you’re making, and how much you’re willing to spend.
Now that we’ve gone over how to make a budget, let’s go over some considerations to take into account once you’ve solidified your budget.
So, what should you even put into your budget?
Once you’ve got the overall budget of your company’s total revenue, you can break down the costs. Think of factors that will come up naturally in a marketer’s day-to-day, and what resources you’ll need to make that happen.
You can put this information in a spreadsheet, or you can always use a template, like these free marketing offerings from HubSpot. There are no rules with budget design, as long as it’s comprehensible and detailed enough to be useful.
For instance, it’d be smart to include factors such as:
Once you’ve chosen your sections, you can start deciding how much of your budget will be beneficial in each area. As a guide, think about your business and campaign goals. From those goals, choose the sections you want to invest the most in.
Working from your business goals helps you make guided budgeting decisions. For example, if your campaign goal is to increase brand awareness, you’ll probably want to devote the most to branding, content marketing, and paid advertising.
You may not need to factor all of these expenses into your budget — or, you might need to factor all of them. It depends on the needs of your business, but remember that you can play around with free methods for most of these costs, if even periodically.
For example, if you are certain that automated software will help your startup, see what software offers free trials or free services that you can use to see if it’s worth the cost for you later on..
Making a budget helps the growth of your business. Your marketing budget keeps track of your expenses and allocates funds towards essential resources. Additionally, it enables you to plan for the future based on campaign goals.
To make sure your spending is under control, having a marketing budget is critical, and gives you the reassurance that you won’t put the company in danger with every marketing decision you want to make.
When we head back to our offices once the pandemic that’s disrupted our business and personal lives is over, many of us will have grown accustomed to working from home—on our own schedule. For most of us, continuing to work from home won’t be an option. But flextime might be.
So what is it, and how does it work?
Flextime is “a system that allows employees to choose their own times for starting and finishing work within a broad range of available hours.” (Merriam-Webster)
It consists of a core period each day when employees must be at work (say, 11 AM to 3 PM), coupled with a broader period during which all work for the day must take place (say, 7 AM to 7 PM).
A German management consultant, Christel Kammerer, gets the credit for coming up with the idea of allowing workers to alter work start and finish times so long as they complete required number of work hours each day or week.
For many employees, that flexibility can drive high levels of satisfaction with our work and workplace, because it affords the opportunity to better juggle work and personal lives—whether that means saving commute time or daycare and babysitter costs.
Companies, too, benefit when their employees are more satisfied and motivated: Productivity improves, for one, and company reputation gets a boost as a “good place to work.”
As companies adopt inbound marketing as a way to generate more leads, the importance of having an effective lead nurturing strategy becomes very clear. In most cases only a relatively small percentage of your inbound leads will be ready to make an immediate purchase, leaving upwards of 90% of your inbound leads on the table.
Implementing an effective lead nurturing strategy can have a huge impact on the results of your inbound marketing strategy.
In 2018, lead generation, sales, and lead nurturing were the top three organizational objectives for content marketers.
Lead nurturing is the purposeful process of engaging a defined target group by providing relevant information at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
You want to actively move the prospects you’ve created through your marketing and lead generation efforts, to the point where they become paying customers. Some tactics on how to nurture leads are through targeted content, multi-channel nurturing, multiple touches, timely follow-ups, and personalization.
Despite the clear benefits of lead nurturing, marketers can struggle to build the right strategy around it. According to the 2019 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Survey, 60% of respondents gave their nurture programs a failing grade.
There’s a huge opportunity for savvy marketers like you to implement effective lead nurturing strategies and gain an advantage over your competition.
So you are probably wondering…
Lead nurturing is of course just one component that goes into executing an inbound marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn what super successful inbound marketers are doing differently to attract traffic, convert leads and close customers you can check out this comprehensive resource – An Epic Guide to Creating an Inbound Marketing Strategy.
Now let’s get down to it – we’ve read through dozens of reports, dug into the most recent data about lead nurturing and compiled this list of the seven amazingly effective lead nurturing tactics.
When it comes to lead nurturing, one size certainly does not fit all. As the research proves, strategically nurturing your leads using targeted content can significantly improve the results of your inbound marketing strategy.
Using targeted content for lead nurturing may seem obvious, but it’s something that marketers are struggling with. Last year Forrester Research reported that 33% of B2B marketers cite “targeted delivery of content” (i.e., delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time) as their biggest lead nurturing challenge.
There are a few prerequisites for using targeted content for lead nurturing. First of all, you need to understand each of your unique buyer personas. Of course, you then need to create an assortment of targeted content designed to nurture each of your personas based on their interests, goals, objectives, and marketing triggers.
Lastly, you need to have a marketing automation platform in place to help you identify, segment and target your unique buyer personas as you scale your inbound marketing strategy.
In the past, most lead nurturing strategies involved setting up a simple email drip campaign that would send out generic emails to a list of prospects.
Today, marketers like you are looking for new lead nurturing tactics and technologies that go beyond the limits of email. With the help of powerful marketing automation platforms, savvy marketers are now executing multi-channel lead nurturing strategies.
Effective multi-channel lead nurturing most commonly involve a combination of marketing automation, email marketing, social media, paid retargeting, dynamic website content and direct sales outreach. Because there are so many tactics involved, to execute this properly, you really need to ensure that your sales and marketing teams are well aligned and working cohesively.
While the buyers journey for every product and service can be quite different, research from the Marketing Lead Management Report indicates that on average, prospects receive ten marketing touches from the time they enter the top of funnel until they’re a closed won customers.
Interestingly, another research study from Demand Gen suggests that 49% of marketers include less than five touches in their lead nurturing programs. If you’re in this category, it might be time to revamp your lead nurturing efforts a bit.
As you can imagine, the most successful lead nurturing strategies deliver content that helps prospects progress through the buyer’s journey by addressing common questions and concerns. In addition to email tactics, consider how you can use a mix of content types like social media, blog posts, whitepapers, interactive calculators, or even direct mail, to nurture your prospects into customers.
The benefits of immediate follow up calls seem quite evident, but most organizations still aren’t acting very quickly. A recent article in Harvard Business Review highlighted the surprisingly slow response times of most US based companies. Here are a few benchmarks from the study which included feedback from more than 2,240 US companies:
Automated lead nurturing can help you reach large groups of prospects, but a timely followup email or a phone call is still quite often the best way to convert inbound leads into qualified sales opportunities. As several research studies have shown, the odds of converting a lead into a sales opportunity are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following a website conversion.
When you make a timely, well researched call to an inbound lead it’s far more effective than any volume of cold calling. You know exactly what the prospects is researching based their recent browsing behaviour and you also have enough information about the prospect to do some initial research about the organization they work for and their specific role within the company.
Several research studies indicate that email marketing continues to be the most effective tactic for lead nurturing.
The research also consistently shows that personalization tends to produce significantly better results than generic marketing. A study by Accenture found that 41% of consumers switched businesses due to a lack of personalization.
As highlighted in this helpful blog post, there are all kinds of ways you can personalize your emails to improve your lead nurturing strategy. You can send triggered emails when someone downloads your gated content, clicks on links in your emails, visits certain pages on your website, or when they demonstrate a high level of engagement.
When you combine the power of marketing personalization with behavioral triggered emails you can deliver the right marketing messages to the right people, at exactly the right times.
For those who are new to the concept of lead scoring, it is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization.
Lead scoring can be implemented in most marketing automation platforms by assigning numeric values to certain website browsing behaviors, conversion events, or even social media interactions.
The resulting score is used to determine which leads should be followed up with directly by a sales rep or which leads need to be nurtured further down the funnel.
Based on this research, it seems as though lead scoring is an effective lead nurturing tactic that most marketers simply aren’t taking advantage of yet.
According to a study by market research firm CSO Insights, when both sales and marketing share responsibility for lead nurturing, companies experience a significant financial boosts. In fact, organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams experience 36% higher customer retention rates.
In order for both sales and marketing to contribute to lead nurturing you’ll need to identity when prospects should be transitioned between teams as they progress through the funnel. In creating your lead nurturing strategy, think about how you can use triggers like lead scoring, page views, workflow enrollment, conversion events or sales contact to transition leads from automation to direct one-on-one outreach.
The shared expectations, responsibilities and goals for this collaboration between sales and marketing should be outlined in a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA). Creating a formal sales and marketing SLA will help the two teams hold each other accountable for converting leads and effectively nurturing them into paying customers.
In review, let’s quickly recap the seven most effective lead nurturing tactics:
1. Targeted content: Content intrigues, entertains, and delights audiences that could become qualified leads.
2. Multi-channel lead nurturing: Try to reach your audiences on multiple online channels, rather than just relying on email.
3. Multiple Touches – Prospects receive an average of 10 touches from the time they enter the top of the funnel until they’re a closed-won customer.
4. Timely Follow Ups: The odds of a lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are much greater when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after an inbound lead converts on your website.
5. Personalized Emails: Personalization benefits both your marketing and your customer retention.
6. Lead Scoring: This strategy helps you determine which leads you should really take time to follow up with.
7. Sales and Marketing Alignment: Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams experience 36% higher customer retention rates.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2016, but was updated for comprehensiveness in March 2020.
Let’s imagine you manage a balloon animal artist collective in Omaha, Nebraska. You notice your company’s growth is plateauing. You mostly serve a strange crop of repeat customers who throw a lot of parties and really like balloon animals, but they can only do so much for you.
The report was based on data from a survey of 257 marketing professionals who work with agencies.
Respondents say the attributes they desire most in agency partners are creativity (55% cite it as an attribute they value), responsiveness (54%), execution (46%), innovativeness (41%), project management (26%), collaboration (26%), and data management (24%).