Thursday, November 26, 2009

Websites


What should you be looking for when starting a new website:

1. Navigation
Make it easy to navigate, less clicks is better.

2. Lay-out
A good lay-out will make your website more accessible and readable. Columns (wireframes) and white space are very important elements.

3. Graphic elements
Make sure the graphic elements fit the purpose of the website.

4. Colors
Colors (together with some other elements) will determine how people perceive you. Study them carefully and make sure they match...

5. Fonts
Same as above, your typeface will inform your visitor of who you are, and determine the readability of the website. Less is more in this case.

The purpose of your website (information sharing, selling, ...) will determine all of the above.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Unique Selling Points


1. Price
2. Quality
3. Service
4. Warranty
5. Choice
6. Availability
7. Exclusivity

What is your USP?

Source image: MSPMentor.


Apple Tablet?




Designer: Isamu Sanada
Source: Apple Style Labo.

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Growing The Channel

1. Grow the market
2. Grow your share at the channel partner
3. Develop the market together

Source: Peter Wuyts.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Google Wave Invites


I have 10 Google Wave invites to give away.
Leave your e-mail address, facebook or twitter details below. It will be "first come, first served" (if I can reach you).


Friday, November 20, 2009

Get To A Higher Level (Sales)


1. Start high
2. Play high, stay high
3. Don't let you talk down
4. Be part of niche organizations
5. Make use of partners

Source image: The Tech Herald.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

4 Easy Ways For Sales People To Generate Leads

- Professional associations;
- Communities (on- & offline);
- Combine forces with 3rd party companies;
- Business newspapers.


What Great Leaders Do In Bad Times


1. Anticipate
2. Be understood
3. Don't lose control
4. Act humane

The No Asswhole Rule. Robert I. Stutton (Stanford Univ.), 2007, Business Plus.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lead-Gen Revamp With Automation And Scoring: 7 Steps To 190% Increase In Sales Conversions

CHALLENGE

Nick Halsey, VP Marketing, Jaspersoft, says his smaller software company has the house database of a much larger business. Visitors have downloaded ten million copies of the company’s open-source business intelligence software, and there are 105,000 developers registered on the company’s community site.

The company also has more than 11,000 paying customers who have bought a professional edition and support services. And then there are prospects who fall somewhere in between -- currently using an open-source version, but may transition to a paid platform at a later date.

"It’s a real challenge," says Halsey. "We need to communicate effectively to all those segments, and we need to be respectful of their desire to receive different categories of information based on different user profiles."

Open-source developers don’t want to receive sales promotions. But the team couldn’t ignore commercial prospects. They needed a better way to segment their database, and automate as much of their marketing communications as possible to deliver the most relevant information.

CAMPAIGN

Halsey and his team undertook a major overhaul of their marketing strategy that involved new technology and processes. The goal was to create a powerful combination of:
o Customer profiling
o Database segmentation
o Automated/triggered campaigns
o Outbound promotions
o Lead scoring

Here are seven steps the team took to develop their new approach:

Step #1. Merge databases and systems into a unified platform

A lack of integration between existing marketing, analytics and communications platforms hampered the team’s ability to segment, personalize and automate marketing processes.

They were using:
o CRM software to deliver commercial leads to the sales team
o A separate database for their open-source developer community site
o An email tool to provide bulk email messaging about events and new products
o Web analytics to track visitor behavior

Before they could change their marketing communications strategy, they needed a new infrastructure plan:

- First, they implemented a new marketing automation platform.

- Second, they integrated their CRM and web analytics systems with their marketing automation platform.

- Third, they automated much of their ecommerce system and tied it directly to their accounting platform and marketing database.

- Finally, they upgraded their online community platform.

The result of this work was a single database that tracked and recorded all key customer, prospect and community activity.

Step #2. Segment database according to profile and activity

Working from that unified database, the team began to segment each contact based on their activities and demographic profile.

Halsey describes a two-phase segmentation process:
o Coarse grain
o Fine grain

- Coarse grain segmentation defined in broad terms whether a contact was a commercial prospect or an open-source community member. For example, users who registered on the community site were considered non-commercial prospects until further actions or demographic information indicated otherwise.

- The team also let visitors self-segment by specifying what type of application they were interested in. Website visitors were invited to click on three product segments:
o Standalone BI
o Embedded BI
o SaaS BI

Those segments helped the team decide what type of information was most relevant to a contact in their database. For example, a Standalone BI customer might be more interested in data warehousing information, while an Embedded BI customer might be more interested in how to integrate dashboards into a CRM or ERP solution.

- Fine grain segmentation occurred as contacts engaged in different activities on the website or responded to marketing campaigns. The team tracked each action and looked for behavioral patterns that placed contacts into a demographic segment.

For example:
o A contact who downloaded a technical whitepaper might be tagged as a developer
o A contact who downloaded a whitepaper on the benefits of building a BI system vs. buying one might be tagged as an economic buyer
o Further actions could specify contacts’ roles within organizations, such as IT architect or business manager (see section on registration forms, below, for more information on gathering profile information)

"Over time, we get a pretty good matrix of information about each contact," says Halsey.

Step #3. Customize outbound communications for contacts’ preferences

The team applied its segmentation strategy to a series of outbound email communications.

- They sent four editions of their quarterly newsletter, The Jasper Source, based on a prospect’s profile:
o Customer
o Community member
o Corporate Europe Edition
o Corporate North America Edition

- They also sent a monthly events email that promoted:
o Webinars
o Meet-ups
o Conference schedules

- They sent a new products email roughly three times a year.

- Registered users could manage their email preferences through an online subscription management center.

Step #4. Create automated drip campaigns for specific actions

The team also created automated drip marketing campaigns that were triggered by prospect actions.

For example, the team created an automated email campaign for users who downloaded a 30-day trial version of the company’s professional software edition:

- The automated campaign featured five scheduled emails over the course of the 30-day period, which were designed to help prospects install and use their software.

Messages included:
o A thank-you/welcome email
o Links to tools that helped them use the software
o Links to online documentation and online forums to help answer questions
o A final email asking if the prospect would like to speak with a sales representative about the professional edition

- Recipients who clicked on a link or otherwise took action related to one of the five automated messages were sent into automated sub-campaigns that built on their previous activity. There were roughly 40 paths email subscribers could take based on their response to a given message.

- The team fast-tracked leads to the sales team if prospects took an action that indicated a readiness to buy. For example, a prospect in the 30-day trial campaign who purchased documentation or signed up for a training course might be immediately forwarded to a sales rep.

Step #5. Use dynamic registration forms to develop prospect profiles

Prior to implementing their new strategy, the team was using the same registration form for nearly every piece of content a prospect downloaded. But new technology allowed them to use a dynamic registration form system that asked prospects for different information depending on the action they were taking, or the information already contained in the database.

- Entry-level actions, such as joining the online community, only required users to submit a name and email address.

- Subsequent actions by community members triggered additional questions, such as:
o State or country
o Company name
o Business role information -- i.e., developer, project lead or executive

- Downloading high-value assets, such as the 30-day trial version of the professional edition, required more detailed information, such as:
o Company size
o Status of BI initiative

"We build out our knowledge base around prospects over time, based on specific behavior," says Halsey. "Now we know what you’re consuming, your profile, your sequence and timing."

Step #6. Implement lead scoring

The ability to track and record a host of online activities, demographic information and email response rates in one database gave the team a chance to implement lead scoring. The scores were especially helpful in identifying commercial prospects emerging from their developer community.

"We have hundreds of thousands of names of people just simmering in the background," says Halsey. "Scoring helps to make you aware when their behavior shows signs of life."

For example, a prospect may have entered the database by downloading the open-source edition of the software. These names were considered "community" members, and assigned a low score (Halsey declined to share specific scores for actions, calling those his "secret sauce"). But those leads were not placed into a commercial marketing or sales funnel.

Over time, the database would record other activities, such as downloading a white paper, attending a webinar, or purchasing advanced documentation. Each of those actions would receive a score that reflected the likelihood of becoming a commercial lead.

Only when a prospect’s score reached a set level would the name be forwarded to a sales representative for follow up.

Step #7. Route leads to the appropriate sales person

The team used a combination of factors to control the flow of leads to the sales team:
o Lead scoring
o Response to automated drip campaigns
o Clear indications of sales-readiness, such as calling or emailing to speak with a sales representative

When a prospect hit one of those thresholds, the team used the demographic information in their database to route the lead to the right salesperson, based on factors such as:
o Location
o Company size
o Type of customer (OEM or direct install)

Members of the sales team were also free to examine names in the marketing database for likely prospects, such as companies in their territory, or new contacts at companies that are already using the team’s software in another division.



RESULTS

"Marketing automation is a must-have for us, it’s not a nice-to-have," says Halsey.

- Since implementing the new strategy, the team has achieved a 190% increase in conversion rate from qualified leads to closed sales.

- Prospects who asked to be contacted by a sales rep represent the team’s highest close rate.

"What we’re able to do with marketing automation is manage people so far through the funnel, fulfilling product information and letting them evaluate their own needs, that they say, 'Yes, please call me with pricing information,' or 'I have a specific question about different versions of your software.'"

- Prospects who enter the automated drip campaign for the professional evaluation 30-day trial represent the team’s second-highest close rate.

- Prospects who have purchased something from the ecommerce store, such as advanced documentation, represent the team’s third-highest close rate.

The key for Halsey and his team is being able to monitor all those activities and deliver the best leads to their sales representatives.

"We’ve got this huge funnel. Plenty of people know us and use our software," he says. "My challenge is not to increase the number of leads, but to get improved conversion rates throughout the funnel."

Source: MarketingSherpa.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

B2B Social Media Marketing: Branding Or Lead Generation?

Social media can be many things: a place to network with friends, a way to follow market trends and monitor brand sentiment, a customer service tool for identifying unhappy customers. But is it a tool for demand generation? I believe the answer is yes, but that it requires a different mindset for lead generation and measuring ROI.

Over a series of posts the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring the topic of B2B social media marketing from a variety of perspectives, including how companies can use social media for lead generation, tips for measuring the ROI of social media in B2B, the relationship between social media and lead nurturing, and a practical guide to getting started with social media in your company.

I’ll begin with a short history of B2B marketing trends, including the evolution of social media.

The Changing Buyer and Evolving Marketing Trends

A key tenant of Modern B2B Marketing is that buyers will use search and the ready access to information to take control of the buying process – and as a result do not want to engage with Sales until they are much further along in the cycle. But this was not always true:

Before Google (more than 10 years ago)

Buying behaviors: Information was not readily available and the only way a prospect could get the necessary information way to engage a sales rep from your company. Mistrust ruled the day, and buyers created RFPs and purchasing centers to try to equal the playing field.

Marketing trends: Marketers focused primarily on brand building and awareness. Most investments focused on hard to measure methods such as mass advertising, tradeshows, and PR with traditional print media. Direct mail and cold calling made up the majority of targeted interactions, and marketers passed all new leads to Sales for follow-up.

Before Social Media (2 to 10 years ago)

Buying behaviors: Corporate websites were mature and search became the dominant way to find information. Prospects were willing to share their contact information in exchange for the information they wanted.

Marketing trends: Marketers began to focus on SEO, PPC and email marketing to drive traffic, and created content such as whitepapers and webinars to convert traffic into leads. Marketers reallocated budgets towards highly measurable channels and began to be more accountable for lead generation. The best marketers realized that their leads were often too early to send to sales, and invested in lead scoring and lead nurturing to find the hot leads and develop the rest.

The Age of Social Media (today and future)

Buying behaviors: More and more information is available off the official corporate website and on social media sites ranging from LinkedIn and Twitter to YouTube and SlideShare. As buyers tire of “marketing speak” and over-aggressive marketing tactics, they search social sites as part of their research, and interact with other prospects to get and share word of mouth recommendations. Prospects are less likely to register for early stage content on the corporate website, and typically contact the company only when they are ready to engage in a sales cycle.

Marketing trends: Marketers will reallocate investments back to brand, buzz, and awareness – but instead of mass advertising and traditional PR, marketers will invest in smart ways to build brand such as social media, search engine optimization, and content marketing. Lead nurturing will evolve to include building relationships with prospects before they ever give you their name by sharing relevant and useful information across a variety of sites and channels. These changes will have a positive impact on lead generation by increasing the number of highly-qualified inbound leads, but measurement of ROI will be a challenge.

Source: Marketo.

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10 Strategies For Building A Credible Sustainable Brand

1. Be proactive
2. Be transparent
3. Know your limits
4. Be relevant
5. Borrow credibility
6. Leverage brand strengths
7. Create a brand strategy
8. Be consistent
9. Educate
10. Engage

Source: FutureLab.

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The Five Principles of Mars


1. Quality

The consumer is our boss, quality is our work and value for money is our goal.
Mars began to prosper in the depths of a depression, has met strong competition and has grown to its present size all as the result of billions of purchases made each year. These purchases are often among the smallest a consumer makes yet they have financed our growth around the world. Why has this happened? How are we to continue this success?

2. Responsibility
As individuals, we demand total responsibility from ourselves; as associates, we support the responsibilities of others.
We choose to be different from those corporations where many levels of management dilute personal responsibility. All associates are asked to take direct responsibility for results, to exercise initiative and judgement and to make decisions as required. By recruiting ethical people well suited to their jobs and trusting them, we ask associates to be accountable for their own high standards.

3. Mutuality
A mutual benefit is a shared benefit; a shared benefit will endure.
We believe that the standard by which our business relationships should be measured is the degree to which mutual benefits are created. These benefits can take many different forms, and need not be strictly financial in nature. Likewise, while we must try to achieve the most competitive terms, the actions of Mars should never be at the expense, economic or otherwise, of others with whom we work.
Our Mutuality Principle has guided us reliably as we have established successful enterprises in new geographies and cultures. It has enabled us to act as a good corporate citizen, to minimize our impact on the environment and to use the natural resources of our planet wisely and efficiently.

4. Efficiency
We use resources to the full, waste nothing and do only what we can do best.
How is it possible to maintain our principles, offering superior value for money and sharing our success? Our strength lies in our efficiency, the ability to organize all our assets – physical, financial and human – for maximum productivity. In this way, our products and services are made and delivered with the highest quality, at the least possible cost, with the lowest consumption of resources; similarly, we seek to manage all our business operations with the most efficient processes for decision making.

5. Freedom
We need freedom to shape our future; we need profit to remain free.
Mars is one of the world’s largest privately owned corporations. This private ownership is a deliberate choice. Many other companies began as Mars did, but as they grew larger and required new sources of funds, they sold stocks or incurred restrictive debt to fuel their business. To extend their growth, they exchanged a portion of their freedom. We believe growth and prosperity can be achieved another way.

Source: Mars.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Big Ask Again






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Road Trains


You've probably seen a road train before. A couple of tankers are often hitched to a single truck cab, and even several cabs can be stacked up for transport. Now, the European Union is looking into the viability of doing that with cars — with drivers still behind their wheels — by taking advantage of wireless technology.

The public road train would involve a professional driver, which would control all of the vehicles in its train. "Each of the vehicles will have their own control and software monitoring system," Tom Robinson an engineer from Ricardo working on the project, told the BBC. "We're looking at what it would take to get platooning on public highways without making big changes to the public highways themselves."

To join the train and leave it, a driver would signal the lead car and everything would be automated — including the driving. Tests will be carried out at the end of the year on test tacks in the UK, Spain and Sweden. In Spain, however, additional tests will also happen on public roads. If this is a bad idea, we'll probably hear about it pretty soon.

Source: Dvice.
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Friday, November 6, 2009

5 Tips for Effective Email Copywriting


1. Focus on the subject line.
The subject line may be the shortest piece of content to write, but it’s one your campaign’s most critical elements. The challenge is to create excitement for a special offer, provide enough information to be clear about purpose and convey a brand’s essence – all in 50 characters or less.
When writing your subject lines:
  • Create a sense of urgency. Include timely information to encourage subscribers to open the email.
  • Include the most important information first. It’s essential that subject lines don’t exceed the character limits of email servers. But prioritizing the vital information first will ensure that, in case the subject line does run over, the primary message will be conveyed.
  • Look to others for inspiration. Read newspaper and magazine headlines for ideas. Consider the email campaigns that you receive. Which ones were you intrigued enough to open and what can you deduce from those subject lines?
  • Go with what works. Look to your own past successful email campaigns and replicate the subject lines that produced the highest open rates. Also, test out different subject lines within the same campaign to discover what generates the best response.
2. Include a mix of promotional copy with informational copy. 
Even if the goal of a campaign is to promote a new product, announce company news or introduce a special offer, complement that information with non-corporate information. For example:
  • Supplement a new product announcement with a thought leader interview from a supporting industry.
  • If a seasonal offer is being promoted, include tips or a checklist pertaining to that particular season.
3. Involve your readers. Consider the success of blogs, forums and social networks. Those interactive channels are effective because users feel involved and engaged. Build off that premise with email copywriting by keeping subscribers engaged and making them a part of the content. Consider including:
  • Reader polls
  • Reader case studies
  • Q&As with customers
  • User-generated content
4. Make the call to action crystal clear.
With too many calls to action, email marketers run the risk of confusing or overwhelming subscribers. When customers are presented too many options, they may be less likely to purchase. Instead, focus your calls to action and limit the effort it takes to act. Consider these quick tips:
  • Rely on size and placement position to emphasize the call to action.
  • Write call to action copy that tells subscribers exactly what they can expect.
  • Use copy that reinforces to subscribers that taking action will be quick and easy.
5. Put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes.
When it all boils down, an email campaign will only be successful if it addresses subscribers’ needs. Email marketers should look at their campaigns from subscribers’ perspectives. What’s important to them? In a ClickZ blog post on email copywriting, Pat Friesen talks about the importance of understanding an audience:
  • Visualize subscribers, whether they are mothers of young children or a corporate executive.
  • Picture where subscribers are reading the email copy, whether it’s on a computer at work, on a laptop at home or on-the-go from a mobile device.
  • Imagine the distractions subscribers face when reading email copy.
Beyond simply visualizing subscribers, study their open and click-through patterns, and consider their demographic information. If you’re still unsure of what subscribers want, use a reader survey to ask them.

Source: Online Marketing Blog.

Geek 1.0 Vs. Geek 2.0


Source: The Next Web.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

CEO Of The Decade: Steve Jobs


Congratulations Steve!

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Olivier Blanchard Basics Of Social Media ROI



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Google Maps Navigation (Beta)






Most important features:
1. Search in plain English
2. Search by voice
3. Live traffic view
4. Search along route
5. Satellite view (high fidelity)
6. Street view (my favorite)
7. Car dock mode

According to YouTube, this video is “a demonstration of Google Maps Navigation (Beta), an internet-connected GPS navigation system that provides turn-by-turn voice guidance as a free feature of Google Maps on Android 2.0 phones.”

Learn more at http://www.google.com/navigation.

Source: Bit Rebels.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Do You Have Digital Natives at Your Organization?

"Digital Natives" are a cultural subset of teens and young professionals that have grown up immersed in the digital world where the Internet, personal computers, and modern technology are a commonplace convenience.

In Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah's recent book, Inbound Marketing, they recommend hiring more Digital Natives, not Digital Immigrants ("speaks web with an accent"). Natives bring a modern perspective and prowess into their workplaces and it's important that employers looking to assure inbound marketing success hire these individuals to their organization.

However, identifying a digital native versus a digital immigrant can be tricky. So, here's a four-point guide that may help you make the distinction:

1. Natives are More Interested in the Information than the Machine
Digital natives grew up with computers around their house and friend's houses. They might have a preference for a specific operating system, but in general they can navigate any kind of computer you put in front of them. They are far more interested in what information they can get out of the machine than the tools at hand. If there’s something that they need to do but they don’t already know how, they’ll work to figure it out on their own.

What to look for:
Give them a task on an unfamiliar computer. If they sit down and say, "I don't know how to use Macs (or Windows)," they probably aren't a digital native. (-1 point)

However, if you give your subject a task and they are able to navigate a computer easily to accomplish the goal, give them a point. (+1 point)

2. Puzzles, Problems and Games
Digital natives hate asking for help. After all, you're talking to the video game generation: questions and unknown problems are puzzles and games waiting to be solved. In a video game, there is no "Help" system or "I give up" button. Puzzles are there to be beaten, and they learn from them. You may find that the digital natives never ask for help with anything. Be okay with that. Part of how they learn is through self-discovery, exploration, and by making mistakes.
If you turn their job into a series of puzzles that offer small knowledge rewards at the end of each section, which builds into a complete project, you'll find them burning night and weekend hours just to complete their goals.

What to look for:
You'll find that a Digital Native will usually steer themselves if presented with a puzzle. Give your potential native a complicated puzzle or task. Halfway through, offer your assistance. If they seem to be particularly focused on completing the task without your help give them (+1 point). If they seem relieved and relinquish the task to you, (-1 point).

3. Digital Natives Love Constant Communication, But Hate Phones
Digital natives are relentless multi-taskers. One thing that most regularly startles digital immigrants is how a native can listen to music, talk on instant messenger, watch TV and work on a project all at the same time. To a native, this is just part of their nature.

What to look for...
Most digital natives aren't big phone users; being multi-taskers means that they avoid activities that might prevent them from becoming single-threaded, like talking on the phone. They'd rather talk via email, instant messenger, or through other methods of communication where they can continue to work on other things while talking with you.
Ask your subject, "What is your preferred means of communication?" If you're talking to a Digital Native, they probably primarily use a cell phone for text messaging and accessing the Internet, and only use the phone function to call their mother (+1 point). If you're still not sure if they're a digital tourist or a digital native, ask them if they regularly use or have a landline (-1 point).

4. Digital Natives Tell It Like It Is
Another common trait across Digital Natives is that they are never afraid to speak their minds. They tend to want to logically break down arguments and strategies. This can lead to confrontations when their manager or other staff member wants something done. However, there are benefits to this personality trait. Natives are almost always analyzing problems and trying to find ways to improve their work. Companies can leverage this “always-on” mentality to refine their products, find faults in their internal processes, or discuss how to incorporate new trends into their business.

What to look for...
Ask them what they would change about their daily work flow, or your business processes if given the chance. A Native has already been thinking about this question and has an answer. (+1 point) Immigrants tend to punt or suggest trivial changes rather than speaking to real issues. (-1 point)

Do you have Digital Natives in your organization? How do you recognize them and incorporate them into your structure? Let us know in the comments.

Source: HubSpot.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Digital Marketing And ROI


I read quiet a lot of blog posts every day (read evenings), and a lot of them are writing about digital marketing and ROI. Too many people are forgetting ROI is all about "paying bills", and that happens in Euros or Dollars or whatever your currency may be. ROI has nothing to do with clicks, links, visits, unique visitors or anything else that doesn't pay the bills...

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A "Spiral" Wine Cellar




Source: Core77.
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