Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Maximizing Lead Generation for B2B and B2C

The buying process for B2C and B2B companies has changed significantly within the last few years and marketers had to find new ways to reach consumers. An effective lead generation strategy became the cornerstone for every long-term marketing strategy.
Instead of finding buyers with broad advertising methods and mass email blasts, marketers must now focus on being found and learn to build long-lasting relationships with their audience. 

It is interesting to see that even with this increased awareness for lead generation 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales (Marketing Sherpa). A common cause for this are antiquated and often too promotional marketing messages without proper lead nurturing. 

This article will highlight strategies focused on building a solid lead generation increasing conversion for generated leads. 

Rented Attention vs. Owned Attention 

Within the past 2-4 years we have seen a shift from “rented awareness” to “owned awareness”. Previous and more traditional marketing strategies were focused on “renting” awareness through channels other people have built. Today’s markets are fast paced and overflown with information, which makes rented awareness less effective as awareness becomes even scarcer. Dropping all “rented” activities would of course be a mistake as well; ideally you will create a mix of rented vs. owned awareness in order to optimize your lead generation strategy. 
How can you build your own attention? Marketing automation platforms like Hubspot or Marketo are a prime example of how becoming a trusted advisor to your prospects by creating pain-point-solving, valuable content is the key to successful lead generation. 

Segmented Lead Generation

Combating lead stagnation

Many companies do a great job with Top of the Funnel (TOFU) marketing, but the reason for the high percentage of non-converting leads mentioned above is that leads are not ready to buy at this point yet. Targeting these leads with promotional sales messages and offers too early often results in opportunities that are lost, ignored or snatched by competitors. 

In order to prevent this, effective lead generation strategies include Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) techniques to further build a relationship with the potential client. An example would be to offer a “free-account” users free content solving pain points and thereby creating trust. These users will be more likely to purchase when they are ready. 

Goals, Tools and Best Practice for lead generation

According to MarketingSherpa’s recent report the top priorities for marketing executives are 
  • Increasing measurable ROI
  • Optimizing the sales & marketing funnel and 
  • Gaining greater insight of the audience 

Currently these goals are pursued by increasing budgets for website optimization (highest budget increase in 2013/14), social media, SEO and of course content marketing. 
One of the most commonly applied options is email marketing, which needs to be reexamined as well. Today’s inboxes are carefully curated and if your message is not relevant, it is likely to land in the spam or trash folder. The solution is a deeper segmentation strategy through targeting your main target ID’s with matching language and content, which helps to boost email performance. Display ads can help catching attention before a user is even in the market for your specific product. 
Captivating text and graphic elements can help prospects discover their interest for your product, giving you the tool to create the new lead and establish a first connection. Of course there is also social media, and without getting into detail per channel my recommendation is LinkedIn, which is shown to generate a 2.74 percent visit-to-lead rate, according to HubSpot. 

Marketing Automation has proven to be very efficient for both Middle of the Funnel and Bottom of the Funnel (Opportunities & Customers) techniques. Timing for activities at this stage is crucial and Marketing Automation can help get the right message to the right user, at the right time. Meaning once interest and intend have been identified, the project will be reached with a message, which either moves him further down the sales funnel or makes him convert. Taking care of marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) in a timely manner also prevents them from getting stuck at a certain stage of the funnel for too long.

Lead scoring can help to further optimize that process by identifying whether prospects either need to be fast-forwarded to sales or developed with lead nurturing strategies. 

What are your experiences with lead generation? Do you have examples of strategies that have worked particularly well for you in the past? Please post in the comments or send me a tweet @global_trend

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fashion E-Commerce Strategies for a Trend-Conscious Market

The future of fashion e-commerce looks bright. According to market research firm Emarketer, online sales of apparel and accessories are now growing faster than any other e-commerce product segment (20% per year). By 2016, the category is expected to account for $73 billion worth of online purchases in the US alone, just over 21% of all online retail sales.

Fashion & Beauty e-commerce is a competitive field and being on top of recent developments in social and paid media, UI/UX, and targeted shopping is crucial for the growth of every company. However, to maintain growth momentum or outperform competition in fashion and beauty, there are additional approaches that need to be considered. 

*this article has been published in Fashion Mannuscript -->

1. Aligning strategies with current and upcoming trends
A big differentiator between customers of fashion, lifestyle and beauty e-tailers and others is a strong sensitivity toward trends. Aligning all elements of your e-commerce site with colors and modern designs that users are exposed to offline will resonate with your trend-conscious user group. A good example is the coherence of elements at fashion department stores, where furniture and visual merchandise are organized by “navigation path,” design and how the customer is responding to it. We all know that a consistent representation of your brand across channels helps to build better relationships with your customers. But taking this one step further by anticipating trends and adjusting your language to the one that your early-adopting user group is speaking (visually) will create an edge for your e-commerce site. Monochromatic designs may work in some cases, but why use two colors when the whole rainbow is available? The trend of flat UI continues and makes use of multicolored designs less distracting. Not fashion related, but one of my favorite examples for smart use of color is Coloured Lines. Takes this and apply it to beauty, lifestyle or fashion! 

Multicolored website design

A few trend forecasting agencies such as offer an interesting intersection between intelligence on products that will sell in the near future and designs that a trend- conscious user will respond to. Fashion e-commerce on a high level is not about the color of one CTA button anymore, but encouraging purchase through giving your users stylistic guidance Fashion Forecasting

2. Utilizing existing tools to analyze keyword trends
I mentioned the adjustment of language above and this applies to both visual language and wording. Many fashion and beauty retailers know that product buzzwords can change swiftly in a trend-driven environment, which is why they need to remain on top of search terms that their customers will use when searching for products. Below are a few smart practice tips for any retailer, who is working with an early-adopter user group: 
Use your internal site search on Google Analytics or other tools to see if your customers are using slang or jargon that is new to you, so you can add these low-volume, but also low-difficulty search terms to your site search and SEO efforts. 
Scan websites of market leading companies in your field. They might experiment with word-creations to establish monopoly per term, and if caught on time you might be able to piggyback, boosting your traffic for the new term. 
3. Implement your findings and trend intelligence into landing pages 
When potential customers arrive at your site from a search engine, you want to awe them with product choices that match their search terms. I recommend the use of SEO-related landing pages to display not only products that are relevant to the search, but also similar or popular products, like those displayed in your own site search results. This may lead to increased conversions and offers the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell right from the landing page. If you have the tools or resources, try to create automated feeds from your landing pages to segmented lists. This will help to further analyze your user group and ultimately lead to smarter conversations for lead generation. 

Have you had the chance to implement trend intelligence into your website design and campaigns? Feel free to continue the conversation on Twitter @global_trend. Please use #ecommercetrend - I am looking forward to your comments. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Think Like a Fashion Buyer and Land Appointments

Are you attending MAGIC Marketweek in Vegas? If so it would be great to meet some of you in person. 
I am on the panel of "Think like a buyer and land appointments". Part of the discussion will include recommendations on approaching buyers via social media. 
This panel discussion will take place on Sunday at 12:30pm at the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall, Level 2, Room S231 

If you are interested in learning more about or even just interested in stopping by for a chat - shoot me a message on Twitter @global_trend

Think like a buyer and land appointments

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to boost conversion with a customized lead generation strategy

With new approaches in segmentation and marketing automation, it becomes increasingly important to have sufficient information about your target group and marketing personas. What was obvious to many of us, became a fact through impressive metrics generated by advanced automation or lead scoring tools. Speaking the same language and reaching a target group with relevant information is key.
With all the buzz around the keywords growth hacking and marketing automation (see my previous article "Growth hacking and marketing automation - customized) the questions for many marketers became:
A) Is our digital marketing strategy specific enough?
B) If not, how can we be more specific?

To answer A) No. (ok, in most cases at least)
To answer B) By understanding your target group, marketing persona and buying stages (also known as sales funnel stages)
While you can find a lot on target group and marketing personas in my previous articles, I would like to focus on the buying stages and how you can use them to increase conversions in this article.

1. Lifecycle Stages
Making sure your lifecycle stages are defined and understood by the entire team is crucial. If a MQL (marketing qualified lead) has a different meaning to your marketing manager than to your director of sales, you have a problem. The sales-marketing scenario is not far fetched and discussing and aligning the sales funnel with you sales team should be on the top of your priorities. Here are a few points to discuss before meeting the enemy (sales team) in the conference room down the hallway.

  • They are indeed human and not the enemy. (referring to the sales team here) If you can't tolerate that, think along the lines of "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer", because however you decide to look at it, you will have to work together in order to be successful. 
  • Where is the hand-off point between marketing and sales. Clearly defining all funnel stages and creating clear definitions for MQL's and SQL's (sales qualified leads) will help align marketing and sales activity and ultimately increase conversions. 
  • If you are thinking about implementing a lead scoring system, I recommend discussing values with your sales team. You will get a different and valuable point on how to assign values by behavior and sales stage. 
  • Analyze your current databases and make sure to synchronize, before implementing strategies. It is critical to organize and synchronize CRM, Sales Force and/or website clients in a first step.
Sales Funnel / Lifecycle Stages

2. Capturing leads for the top of your funnel
The top of the funnel is often times tagged as "information stage". Its a stage in which leads suspect they have a problem, but they need more information to confirm the problem and learn how to solve it. 
A visitor or lead at this stage has a lot of questions and often word of mouth or the social media space offer answers. Leads are not interested in your products yet and promotional messages would scare them off at this point. The best strategy in this stage is to be as helpful as possible. Offering information they are looking for will help you create trust and the base of a relationship with your potential customer. And they thought you were just being helpful without any bad intentions... [evil laugh]

You can get in touch with your relevant target group by scanning social media profiles by position, industry or interest. Even if you are not working with larger marketing platforms like Hubspot or Marketo, which have social listening tools build-in, there is an abundance of free or lower priced tools. One of the better ones is for Twitter. Social monitoring tools such as can help you join relevant conversations and proactively engage with potential clients. 

3. Educating leads about your products (bad intentions)
Once the base of your relationship is built, leads will feel more comfortable in addressing their needs or in marketing terms - discussing their pain points. This offers a good time window to help them evaluate their options and educate them about your products or services. 
This has to be very informational, since your relationship not established enough for a hard sell at this point. There is a fine line between moving the lead towards the decision making phase without being to promotional and a hard sell. Often times this is where the quality of a marketing campaign is defined. Since there is too much following best-practice and metrics in digital marketing, make sure to enjoy this part of strategy - you can finally be creative here. Developing a subtle, yet innovative campaign to showcase the USP's of your products will move leads into the decision-making stage. 
Dollar Shave Club is a classic example.

4. Triggering purchase decisions
Leads in this stage are most likely to purchase and might have made a subconscious decision to purchase your product already. They now need a reason to consciously rationalize the purchase, which is when all the "standard" sales tactics can be used. Yes, you heard me - it's time to knock yourself out with campaigns offering discounts, flash sales, coupons and all the other promotional methods we are familiar with. For B2B marketers, success stories are very useful at this stage.

5. Creating brand loyalty 
One of the most powerful and often forgotten strategies is to engage with your existing clients. Creating brand loyalty and turning customers into brand advocates can have a long-term impact on the value of your brand. I will discuss this stage in my upcoming article in more detail, but if you have any suggestions or strategies that have worked for you to build brand loyalty, please leave a comment.

Before implementing these strategies it is important to analyze the current state of marketing activities. Which lifecycle stages have you focus on mainly? Develop marketing personas and collect information about your target groups before starting to create first campaigns. It will help you to create messages that resonate with your potential clients.

As always, feel free to join the conversation on Twitter @global_trend

Monday, May 5, 2014

Inbound Marketing Trends & Digital Developments for 2014/15

To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often. 
It seems as if Google used Winston Churchill's famous words as guideline in 2013, thereby creating a roller coaster ride for digital marketers. Google’s many changes in algorithm created shifts in demand for certain marketing activities on one hand, however many opportunities for creative, new strategies on the other. 
Which raises the big question - how can we adjust to these changes and what are the inbound marketing trends and strategies to follow in 2014 & 2015?
I scanned some of the latest industry reports and articles on trending marketing activities including Moz's industry report, research by shopaholics, stats by IDC, PEW surveys and a couple of my favorite blogs. Here is a short and sweet version, translated into English to keep the "geeking-out" under control.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2014 & 2015

Trend 1: OAO - online audience optimization 
Content will stay king in 2014 and due to the changes in Google’s algorithm and now restricted data on keywords, OAO will be the answer to many questions that were previously answered by SEO or keyword strategy. Demand for content creation increased by 70.94% in 2013 and this trend is to be expected to continue throughout 2014. You can learn more about OAO in my previous post - How to evolve from SEO to OAO

Demand for Marketing Activities in 2013

Trend 2: Brand Mentions are the future of link building
For quite some time there has been speculation on how Google measures “brand authority”. What we know at this point is that brand building is the best strategy for long-term organic visibility. But how can you measure brand authority with a complex formula or algorithm? According to Moz a patent filed by Google could give us some interesting answers. I won’t bore you with the exact patent-wording, since +simon penson did a great job interpreting what it means in his article "The Panda Patent", which I can recommend if you are interested in learning more details.
Bottom line is that it suggests that there will be a shift in how links are weighted and how relevance is measured – the two key ingredients of search. The patent suggests that nofollow links and brand mentions will have a bigger impact in the future. How can we implement this knowledge into our marketing strategies in 2014 & 2015? As suggested under Trend 1 - OAO and creative content will be key. Building content that people are more likely to share will drive mentions and build the brand. 

Trend 3: Tracking, Retargeting & Analytics
No big surprise here since other trending marketing activities such as social media or automation are result-driven. The good old times on Madison Avenue are long over, sorry Don. Last year analytics was the second highest in demand, with an increase of 64.46% - this trend will continue in 2014 & 2015, also driven by higher spendings on intent & retargeting. Understanding targeting and allocating budgets towards activities reaching predefined target groups will be key for successful marketing. 

Trend 4: Marketing Automation
According to ExactTarget Marketing Automation tops the list for where most Marketers plan to increase budgets in 2014. If you are interested in learning more about Marketing Automation and why it does not necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg, check out my previous article on automation and growth hacking.
Another great resource that does a fantastic job explaining everything you need to know about automation before making the financial commitment is Hubspot’s great learning guide, and I strongly encourage you to read it; even if you aren't planning on adding it to your mix of tools this year.

Trend 5: Trending Social Media Channels
Facebook is still the social network of choice for most internet users, but many suggest it has reached or passed its peak usage from the younger demographic. However Facebook continues to have the highest frequency of site use with 63% daily visits. (Source: PEW Research Center) Let’s also not forget that Facebook offers the highest volume among all networks. In 2014 it will be all about knowing where to reach your audience. When looking through most of the research, one thing in particular caught my eye - people forget about LinkedIn and YouTube. LinkedIn (and Google+) drives the highest quality traffic. (see Shareaholics latest research below) YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, but also a social network with great tools to engage the audience. (most articles and research do not feature YouTube as social network) 

Post Click Engagement on different social media channels

Trend 6: Responsive Design & location based services
According to IDC sales of tablets will outperform laptops and PC’s in the last quarter of 2014. Based on that fact the need for responsive design will continue to increase. By now we know that location based services convert and it will be interesting to follow location based services such as Foursquare or Momentfeed over the course of this year.

I personally thought +Michael Stelzner hit the nail on the head with his view on marketing trends:

“A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it’s time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”

I am certain there are other developments some of you would like to see featured in this article. If so, please leave a short comment or shoot me a tweet @global_trend. This article will be featured on LinkedIn, feel free to follow & connect! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Growth Hacking, Marketing Automation and Lead Scoring - Customized!

[Marketing Automation] has been one of the buzz terms & topics in 2013. Without looking at real stats it might have been outranked by [Growth Hacking] recently. Here is the connection - you can't be a growth hacker, even if self proclaimed, without knowing about marketing automation and why there has been so much talk about it recently. I am contacted by companies/headhunters looking for help with marketing automation on a weekly basis, which shows me that companies like Hubspot, Silverpop or Marketo have hit a goldmine by focusing their efforts on positioning themselves as the leaders in this area. 

Growth Hacking & Marketing Automation

I have worked with both services and they are great. On top of that Hubspot's marketing is amazing, proven by all of us using the term "inbound marketing" (a word creation by Hubspot). They are also doing a lot to incentivize their target group to make sure they spread the word. Or why is it that many of us now have an "inbound marketing certificate" issued by Hubspot  (including myself) and are suggesting Hubspot as the tool to use?  Here is the catch - working with these services can get quite expensive, especially if A) your database is big or B) growing fast. 

There is no question that marketing automation is the way to go, but neither does it have to be expensive, nor via the use of leading platforms. 
For all readers who are not sure why there is no question, please check out the many case studies on the subject including companies like Sony, Panasonic, Intel or Chrysler. 
When using all-in-one marketing solutions you are clearly also paying for features such as social listening tools, blog/website builder and email marketing. One would argue that all these features are needed in order to monitor inbound marketing workflows or create effective lead scoring, but that is not the case and I will explain in the following.

Take these 3 simple steps to analyze if and what type of marketing automation you need:

1. Analyze your business size and existing workflows.
SMB's might not always need a fancy lead scoring system or complicated, automated workflows including webhooks, social media or email. There are many, less-expensive alternatives (see below 2.) and aligning them with existing email solutions will do the job.
Larger companies often have internal tools and effective workflows in place, which brings us to the next step.

2. Look into existing tools first, before paying twice when signing up for all-in-one marketing solutions.
What are you already using and how is it working? Keep successful tools, especially the ones offering flexible options to sync with other platforms. If you have manually built internal solutions, make sure they are not outdated and compatible with other tools. 
For startups I can recommend tools like Zapier to automate workflows around certain events. Zapier lets you create promotional workflows around events such as upload of a video on YouTube. I am choosing the YouTube example since getting eyes on videos within a short timeframe is crucial for SEO. Zapier helps you to automate all promotional activities around the upload such as posts on all social media channels (you can even trigger these promos by certain keywords in the video's description) in order to boost engagement for your video, resulting in higher search rankings. 

Automating trigger workflows on Zapier

Interesting for startup founders with existing social media reach - you can use Zapier to sync all your databases and create workflows to get in touch with people you connect. (e.g. automated email after connecting via social media channel) 

If you need more than workflows and would like to analyze click-paths, funnels and send notifications based on user behavior, I recommend looking into Mixpanel. Mixpanel covers many of the tools you would find in solutions like Hubspot, Marketo or Silverpop, however it does not offer landing page creation, smart lists and their lead scoring system works differently (scoring can be assigned to people properties) Its a great tool and allows to sync with CRM's, Salesforce, etc. 

Mixpanel Event Analytics

3. Coordinate with your developers & sales team
Talk to your developers and find out where they stand on aligning internal tools with third party software. Check how much time they would need to invest to build additional solutions and whether it would be worth it. Finally make a decision on third party tools you could use in order to optimize workflows and automation.
Also talk to your sales team to find out how to synch internal CRM or other sales tools such as Salesforce with SMART lists, lead scoring or people properties for event tracking.

Follow these steps in order to build automation for less $, optimize workflows and increase conversions.

If you liked this article click here to Tweet the following: Take these 3 simple steps to analyze if and what type of marketing automation you need
What are your experiences with marketing automation? Are there other tools you can recommend? If so, please leave a comment or tweet @global_trend

Friday, January 10, 2014

Optimizing Social Media Reach with Celebrities

Using celebrities, bloggers or people with high social reach in ad/marketing campaigns is a no brainer for brands. However many brands expect that the reach of a celebrity's brand will do the job and there is no further strategy needed.  This no-strategy strategy to only works for brands with either money to burn (please PM me) or strong enough brand awareness to create buzz via their own channels.

I admit that +Angelina Jolie as Goodwill Ambassador or +David Bowie  might get the job done without much support. But who can afford them? 

In case you decide to work with celebrities, make sure they are social media savvy or at least have a good community manager/agency. 
I recently had the pleasure to connect TV host & model +Andrea Rincon to one of my clients, - lingerie brand Felina. Her manager and herself are extremely social media savvy, which makes working with them super-easy and pleasant. The question was really how we would engage with her close to 2 million Facebook fans and hundreds of thousands followers on other profiles. 

Andrea Rincon for Felina - Social Media Promotion

With the latest changes of making pins available to image search made by major engines (e.g. Bing) and Andrea's looks it was clear that we need to stay on the visual side in order to create engagement. We decided to optimize search results and social media engagement on via Pin-to-Win contest, well knowing that Pinterest is generating the highest AOV's of all social networks. Steps of our campaign included engaging fans across different platforms including Facebook via set-up of customized visuals including fangate page, entry page, post entry page & share dialog popup to spread the word. 
In order to follow up and drive conversions we generated coupon codes targeting the mainly male audience on Andrea's fanpage. To make a long story short my client's traffic increased 718% on the first day and stayed up at an average of around +380% the weeks during we promoted the contest. 

The big difference to standard campaigns was that we looked into how we can use her assets and popularity to create a number of campaigns to generate interest, engage her followers and fans, create SEO benefits for our brands and ultimately drive conversions.
For more case studies and best practice digital marketing examples, join our page on Facebook - TREND WATCHING. If you have questions or examples of good social media promotions, make sure to leave a comment or shoot me a message on Twitter @global_trend.