4 Strategic Insights to Glean from Conducting a Content Audit

We know that conducting content audits can sometimes be time-intensive and tedious. We also know that they are almost always worth the effort. Why? Well, because running audits on your content can provide your organization with strategic insights that help steer the direction of your current and upcoming campaigns. Here are the key benefits of a content audit.

What is a Content Audit 

A content audit is a comprehensive analysis of all of your content collectively. “Content” in this context includes your website content such as offers, blogs, and infographics, as well as offline sales and marketing materials, like sell sheets and brochures. 

What’s Included in a Content Audit

During an audit, you will pull all relevant stats and information about each piece. Relevance is in the eye of the bolder it turns out. Consider why you’re completing an audit in the first place and let that dictate what information you need. The purpose of your audit will be different depending on where you are in your content marketing strategy. 

Must-haves to include in your audit per each piece of content:

  • Title 
  • Quick topic summary
  • URL 
  • Stage of the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, decision, etc.)
  • Stage of the funnel (lead, MQL, SQL, etc.)
  • Type of content (blog, infographic, etc.)
  • Where the content is accessible/what pages it’s found on
  • Persona targeted
content audit example

Nice-to-haves in your audit:

  • Relevance to current persona/business strategy 
  • SERP relevance and position
  • Total ranking keywords
  • Monthly or quarterly views
  • Conversion rate 
  • Industry targeted

Some of the ‘nice-to-haves’ listed above might actually be critical for your audit. For example, if you’re conducting an audit because you’ve decided to lean into a secondary industry, you will want to include a column to capture it.

Benefits of a Content Audit

You can use a content audit in a variety of different ways depending on your organization’s goals and your current state of marketing. At Lake One, we use content audits to assess the current state of content for our new and existing clients. During onboarding, the content audit provides insights into where our new partners have focused their time previously. We can learn valuable information from this, as well as prevent reinventing the wheel by recreating existing content. Here are some of the most significant benefits and strategic insights of conducting a content audit.

Identify Gaps in Content with a Content Audit

First, a content audit can identify where your gaps in content lay. As part of the inbound methodology, buyers move through the journey to buying from awareness to consideration to decision. As buyers move along that journey, they seek information that gets more complex and product-specific as they go. Getting into the weeds a little, writing content for each stage pushes users into a purchase. For instance, somebody might start looking for a way to improve their manufacturing process (awareness). This might lead them into a specific piece of technology that could solve their problem (consideration), and that might bring them to contacting that particular company for a quote on that new technology (decision).

buyer's journey
Source: HubSpot

As inbound marketers, we want to be sure we’re serving content for every stage here. A content audit allows you to map where your content currently sits and where your gaps exist. Being too heavy on one end of the spectrum or another may be doing you a disservice. 

Facilitate Strategy Creation

As I mentioned, we’re big fans of content audits here. Our Lake One FieldGuides™ (campaign strategies) almost always begin with a content audit. We start here because once gaps and areas of excess are illuminated, a strategy will start to appear. It will be clear where your opportunities exist, both in quick wins and in a long-term strategy.  

Pro Tip: If you find you’ve written ad nauseam towards a specific persona or topic without the desired results, consider adding conversion rates, views, and SERP info into your audit. Compare that cluster of content to others to see if you can identify any misalignments to pivot on in the future.

Make Workflow Creation Easier

Workflows, or drip campaigns as some people call them, are a series of automated emails. These emails intend to serve your lead with helpful content, insights, and CTAs that nudge them into the next step of the funnel. A content audit acts as a visual representation of your available content to lay out the subject matter of each email. What’s usable? What subjects flow together to achieve the desired outcome? If you don’t have a library of suitable topics at the ready, your audit will also identify that for you, so you know what to include in your strategy during your next campaign.  

Content Audit- the Sales Enablement Kickstarter

Lastly, having an up to date content audit available for your team to reference is the perfect first step into sales enablement. Sales enablement, according to HubSpot, is the “iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.”

Related Reading: A Roadmap to a Sure-fire B2B Sales Enablement Strategy

If you give your sales team a living document of all marketing materials available, the hope is that they will use that content within their sales process. When sales and marketing teams are aligned, sales will give recommendations into the types of content they’d like created based on their conversations with real customers and prospects. Input from sales teams looks like: 

sale enablement
Source: HighSpot
  • Typical questions their prospects have that could be addressed by marketing material
  • Ideas for resources like eBooks, infographics or sell-sheets that may help close deals
  • Which complex topics marketing can help simplify through content or design
  • Passing along feedback on content from real conversations with prospects and customers

The content audit shows the sales teams what’s currently available for their use, and it also helps them identify what’s not. In the same manner that audits show marketers what’s missing from a high-level funnel perspective, sales teams can use it to determine the opportunities on a topical standpoint. The ultimate goal is to build out a content library that addresses all the needs of both teams.

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Solutions to 5 Common Manufacturing Marketing Challenges in 2020

Marketing and selling to b2b buyers continue to become an ever more complex landscape. For manufacturers, the complexities of product and channel only compound the challenges. So should manufacturers looking to build a modern sales and marketing machine just give up? Definitely not. In talking with manufacturers I hear commonality in their challenges. Read on to see how I address these common manufacturing marketing challenges and solutions.

manufacturing marketing challenges

Complex Products

Products in manufacturing are often technical and complex. While the buyer is often sophisticated and technical themselves – often an engineer, they’re still looking for educational materials. A survey conducted by engineering.com found that overwhelmingly – engineers turn to search or website blogs to find answers to their most technical questions. 

Solution: Build a content marketing strategy for your manufacturing firm. If your technical buyers have questions about your complex products, the best solution is to answer them in the forms of media they are consuming, which is online via written word and video. 

Long Sales Cycles 

One of the outcomes of complex products is a resulting long sales cycle. Gartner’s B2B buyer’s journey framework explains why this happens. 

In a perfect world, the journey would be linear from identification to supplier selection, but as you can see there are a lot of places along the path for a prospect to take a detour. How do you keep your firm front and center?

Solution: Marketing automation. On average, most leads (at least half) that come through your CRM aren’t ready to buy. (See the Gartner illustration again to see why). A marketing automation plan for your manufacturing firm can fill the gap. With marketing automation, you can build out personalized follow-up campaigns based on the actions your prospects are taking and customized by the next steps you want to help them along to.  

Is marketing technology the right solution for you? Take the assessment.

Buying by Committee

From 2016 to 2018 the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision jumped from 6.8 to 8.2 contacts at a company. As if manufacturers didn’t have it hard enough with a complex product and long sales cycle – the number of people involved in making a purchase decision continues to grow. Add in the complexity of channel relationships many manufacturers face, traditional outbound and inbound marketing can struggle to provide value on their own, in this growing complex sales environment. 

Solution: Account based marketing. Account based marketing inverts the marketing and sales qualifications funnel. You start your strategy by selecting the accounts you want to build relationships with. Sales and marketing collaborate to create highly personalized buying experiences with a goal of expanding the contacts within those accounts and driving higher quality opportunities and speeding up sales cycles. 

Image Source: NeilPatel.com

Complex Business Processes 

Products and the buying experience aren’t the only sources of manufacturing marketing challenges. Often the operations around supporting these systems are riddled with inefficiencies. Requests for samples, quotes, spec sheets, etc. all require an endless amount of human interaction that drags down your team’s ability to do the work that has them focused on their highest and best use. It also allows for errors. But, that’s how we’ve always done it, you might think. 

Solution: Marketing automation can help here as well. While its primary selling feature often is scale and efficiency in marketing processes. The automation features can also help simplify and drive efficiency in common internal processes. Routing requests, updating contact data and making sure the right people in your organization get notified.

Visibility Across Channel

At the end of the day, one of the biggest manufacturing marketing challenges to overcome is visibility across a manufacturer’s channel. With complex relationships across vendors, distributors, reps, and end-users it can often be hard to tell where an opportunity is coming from. Online analytics start to paint a bit of a picture, but are you really able to draw a line connecting the dots between a marketing program and revenue growth? Did ABM actually achieve an objective? 

Related reading: The Surprising Ways B2B Website Design Affects Sales

Solution: Integrated CRM. Having a modern CRM that integrates across your marketing automation platform and ERP, you can begin to close the loop. You may not be able to tell if an ABM program drove X dollars in end-user purchases if you don’t get to track that data – but you can track the volume of RFPs or Specs that come from the accounts you targeted. It’ll take thinking about your channel and getting as far in the funnel as you can. But none of it will matter if your systems don’t take to each other. 

Key Takeaways

Manufacturing marketing challenges continue to grow. However, technology and marketing strategies are emerging to empower manufacturers to overcome those challenges. 

  • Content marketing to educate around complex products
  • Marketing automation to reduce long sales cycles and drive efficiency in business processes
  • Account based marketing to combat buying committees
  • Integrated marketing and sales systems to view across your channels

MarTech Assessment

7 Tried & True B2B Marketing Automation Examples

With marketing automation, you can serve the right content to the right person at the right time – at scale. You can also drive consistency and efficiency with internal processes. And not to mention, it just might be my favorite tool in our marketing tech stack. 

So, how does marketing automation apply in the real world? Here are some of our top tried and true must-have B2B marketing automation examples.

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

What is B2B Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is technology that allows you to automate, streamline, and measure your marketing tasks and workflows.

However, its true power comes through sales and marketing alignment combined with a well-utilized B2B CRM.

Sales & Marketing Alignment in Automation 

If it feels like your sales and marketing teams are on different planets, adding automation to the mix won’t solve that. Ensure your teams are aligned by outlining responsibilities, defining key terms like lead statuses and lifecycle stages and aligning your team goals.

Reaching total harmony among teams can be a process, but at a minimum, it should be an active joint effort. 

Recommended Reading: Lake One’s Guide to Sales & Marketing Alignment

B2B Marketing Examples for Sales Collaboration and Internal Processes

Marketing automation helps to facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing in real-time. It’s the conduit between the two teams. These processes within B2B businesses are centered around sales collaboration and the facilitation of internal processes. 

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

Automation for Sales Collaboration 

Sales collaboration takes place in a variety of ways, but the most common are some of the marketing automation examples outlined below. 

Lead Scoring

Not all leads are created equal and for that very reason, we leverage lead scoring.  Lead scoring is ranking lead readiness to convert based on the lead’s behavior. The idea behind lead scoring is that a lead can take specific actions or engagements which speak to their sales-readiness. For example, a user who is highly engaged on the site, downloading multiple offers visiting key pages (like pricing), and signing up for the blog, etc. is in theory, more ready to purchase than a user who visited one or two pages on the site a couple of times. 

Lead scoring allows a sales and marketing team to work together to develop criteria identifying leads likely to make a purchase so they can be followed up with by Sales. How to do this will be different for each CRM. In HubSpot, you set up your behaviors and scores and then create a workflow or a list to send all leads who meet your threshold over to sales automatically.

Setting Leads to Marketing Qualified & Assigning to Sales 

This next section really applies to setting any lifecycle stage or lead status, but we’ll focus on Marketing Qualified Leads because that lifecycle stage is a must and a big factor in measuring marketing ROI.

Again each CRM will be different, but in HubSpot, our favorite way to achieve this is by creating what we call, a MQL List. The list includes all of our specific MQL criteria like the following:

  • Role is (insert the desired role)
  • Company name is known
  • Phone number is known
  • Industry is (insert the desired industry)
  • And the lead source is none of offline 

Note: MQL criteria setting is part of the sales & marketing alignment process and should be revisited at a minimum twice a year.

Once your list is built with your set criteria, you can create a workflow that notifies sales or creates a task for the MQL to be reviewed by sales.

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

Recommended Reading: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Can Boost Lead Volume

Automation for Internal Processes 

B2B companies often have complex business processes. Marketing automation can drive efficiencies and allow for real-time routing, task creation, and follow-up across functions and channels. 

Lead Routing 

Is your sales team divided into territories? Or divided by certain products, services, or areas of expertise? If so, lead routing is your ticket to removing the manual review of leads and automatically routing by key differentiators. You’ll most always start with a form submission of some type and follow with if/then branches or conditionals to route leads. 

For example: If a contact fills out the “Demo Request” form and their country is set to the U.S., then assign Frank as the contact owner and create a task for Frank to review.

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

Data Governance/Management

It’s also common that workflows be used to ensure your CRM stays up to date and with as many properties completed as possible. Workflows can be used to manage some of the following: 

  • Subscription Types: If contacts fill out forms such as a newsletter sign up, a webinar, product updates, etc… you can manage their subscriptions on the back end with workflows.
  • Opt-Outs: If you want to keep a running master opt-out list, you can create a workflow that states if a contact opts out of communication, add them to a specific list. 
  • Contact Owners: Similar to the above lead routing scenario, you can use workflows to ensure all contacts have an owner.  Or if they don’t, use a workflow to create a task for a sales leader to review.
  • Copying Across Property Types: This might vary depending on your CRM, but you are likely using different types of properties or objects to store your data. For example, a company record or contact record. In some cases, the information should be the same in both places. Rather than duplicating efforts, use a workflow to copy the value from one property to another. 

B2B Marketing Automation Examples for Lead Nurturing 

Lead nurturing is the process of cultivating relationships with potential buyers at every stage of the sales process and through the buyer’s journey. It puts a focus on meeting buyers where they are at, listening, and providing helpful relevant information. 

Marketo

Marketing automation allows you to create lead nurturing campaigns, also known as email drip campaigns which are a series of emails spread out over time that help buyers move from awareness to consideration to decision. 

When it comes to what emails to include and how many and what frequency, it really depends on your personas needs and your buying cycle and the action the contact took. Nurturing campaigns are definitely not ‘set it and forget it’. Email open rates and engagement all the way through to marketing attribution reporting, will be your workflow gut check and point you towards areas for optimization.

Lead to MQL Nurturing & Beyond

Lead to MQL nurturing is a common point in the buyer’s journey in which nurturing can start. It’s likely initiated by a contact downloading a piece of content. From there, you offer the lead relevant information that you think may help them solve the pain point that brought them to your site initially. Along the way, you give them plenty of opportunities to convert with additional content and CTAs.

The goal is to nurture the lead until they become a Marketing Qualified Lead and meet your set criteria. From there, queue sales!

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

Form Submission Follow-Up

Depending on the type of form a contact submits, you might not need a full-blown workflow, maybe a simple thank you will suffice? If so, workflows are your ticket. They can easily go from a 10 email sequence as mentioned above, to a one and done thank you for your submission email.

Pro Tip: Take your ‘Contact Us’ form submissions to the next level by sending a follow-up email post submission letting your contacts know when they can expect to hear from you in response to their inquiry. 

Date Based Marketing Automations

If you have a CRM like HubSpot, workflows don’t have to be based solely on a contact property, they can be date-based too! This is perfect for webinars, trade shows, and other events. The following can be handled with date-based workflows:

  • Leading up to an event
  • During an event
  • Post-event follow up

Marketing Automation Optimizations 

Okay, you set up all of the marketing automations above, that means you’re done and can move on to the next initiative right?

via GIPHY

In case the ‘how about no sloth’ didn’t give it away, the answer is ‘no’. The setup is only the beginning. Sales and marketing automation tools typically come with better reporting capabilities and you should totally use them. Whether it’s lead flows, MQLs, or subscriptions, reviewing and optimizing your marketing automation workflows are a must.

Also, it’s worth noting there’s a part of the story that can’t always be seen in the data. Take the time to talk to the teams and solicit feedback. Are the automations working? Are they missing the mark? Meeting on a regular cadence will help uncover those issues too. 

So tell us, did you like the examples? Are we missing one of your favorites? Sales and marketing automation can save you time and help your B2B business scale. If you’re considering incorporating automation into your sales and marketing strategy, we’d love to chat.

 Book Your Consultation Now

Cut the B.S.: Business Focused B2B SaaS Marketing Metrics

B2B marketers are flush with myriad data points to measure and report on. The problem is – most of them don’t mean shit to your P&L. For leadership teams getting into the minutiae of PPC impressions or social media followers – it just muddies your ability to see the forest through the trees. In B2B SaaS it can be really misleading because marketing could be burning cash under the disguise of driving leads – leads that aren’t doing anything. So what metrics matter? The ones that tie to revenue. There are a few core B2B SaaS marketing metrics every organization should keep their focus on. Before you freak out about other indicators and such, give this a read.

saas marketing metrics

Marketing Sourced Revenue

At the end of the day, marketing needs to be contributing to revenue potential. Is marketing sourcing revenue? I’m not talking leads, I’m not talking MQL. Are you able to trace back that a dollar came from marketing activity? This will inevitably require your organization to rely on adopting an attribution model since most every journey doesn’t go Email, Click, Buy or Ad, Click, Buy. (Wouldn’t that be nice?!) That said, find an attribution model that aligns with the goals of your sales and marketing activity and gets comfortable with it. 

Marketing Sourced Pipeline

In the same line as sourced revenue – how successful is marketing at adding new opportunities to the pipeline? In well-aligned sales and marketing teams for SaaS – it can make sense to give marketing pipeline targets and quotas just as you would sales.  

Related Reading: SaaS Inbound Marketing: Taking Your Business To the Next Level

CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)

The customer acquisition cost is one of the more straightforward SaaS marketing metrics. It tells you how much it costs to bring on new customers over a given period of time. Take your sales and marketing spend and divide by the total number of customers. 

Customer Acquisition Cost

Knowing this rate can help plan and forecast growth – but when combined with the next metric it’s powerful in assessing the return on overall sales and marketing activity. That return is where growth management truly becomes effective. 

Months to Recover CAC

The final essential SaaS marketing metric to monitor is how long it takes to recover the costs spent to acquire a new customer. This helps determine how quickly a customer starts driving a positive ROI. 

This can be calculated by dividing the CAC by Monthly recurring revenue times your gross margin (revenue – cost)

calculate Months to Recover CAC

Key Takeaways for B2B SaaS Marketing Metrics

At the end of the day – there is plenty B2B SaaS marketing metrics to monitor and report on. I’m not suggesting that other data points aren’t worth watching as an indicator of good or bad performance upstream from the revenue goal. In order to truly forecast out a revenue machine – you need those measurements.
What I am suggesting, is that when it comes to essential B2B SaaS marketing metrics- making a business impact is the name of the game and at the leadership level that’s what matters. Leadership that has bought into marketing, trusts a modern marketer to be keeping an eye on those downstream measures and to sound an alarm when needed. Measuring marketing’s impact on revenue, driving revenue opportunities, and making a positive impact on customer acquisition is job number one. 

MarTech Assessment

The Surprising Ways B2B Website Design Affects Sales

Your B2B website is incredibly important. It’s where people go to learn about your business and what you have to offer. It’s where people go to connect with you and ultimately the place where people decide if your company is one worth exploring further. So what makes a good website? Here are 4 B2B website examples that showcase the best practices of how website design affect B2B sales.

B2B Website Design

The Complexity of the B2B Buying Journey

First, to understand a website design’s impact on B2B sales, you need to understand the B2B buying journey. The journey of a B2B buyer is far more complex than that of B2C. While marketing in both verticles tends to focus on solving a pain point, B2B buyers often narrow in on one core problem and they are looking for a specific solution. Typically, they are looking for a way to accomplish something better, faster, and more efficiently. That might include new tech that automates existing processes, more reliable supply chain partners, software to update an antiquated process. The list goes on, but by and large, business buyers are looking for fixes. 

Master your B2B website strategy. Grab the guide here.

Furthermore, very little B2B purchasing is done on a whim or impulse, and that becomes increasingly true as the sticker price increases. For that reason, purchases, and the journey to purchase, are often drawn out. There are more people involved in the buying process than consumer purchases, and often approvals and buy-ins are needed at many levels. There are existing, internal processes to consider as well. What might seem like a small investment can impact an entire organization. For example, new software can drastically change the day-to-day operations of whole teams, a new supplier might require new equipment and big expenses in training. 

Because of that, B2B buyers are also looking for information. They need to be informed, empowered, and confident before taking options to their teams. Upfront and easy accessibility to information is critical. 

Lastly, businesses are looking for products they can trust- ones with positive reviews given by other trustworthy companies. As mentioned, there can be a lot at stake for B2B buying, and reviews and testimonials can go a long way in mitigating some potential perceived risk for buyers.

B2B Website Design Needs to Be for Conversion

So how do you translate that complex buying journey into a website? Understand that given all of these variables, “Buy Now” likely isn’t going to work up front. The goal is ultimately a purchase for B2B, but B2B products and services are usually something you don’t buy upon the first visit to a site, or even third or fourth visit for that matter. That’s why B2B website designs all need to be designed for conversion and nurturing at every point in the buyer’s journey.

Examples of Great B2B Website Design for Tech

Here’s what we mean. These four B2B tech websites are examples of websites effectively designed for B2B sales.

Slack

Who doesn’t use Slack these days? We love the app, but we also love their website. First, without needing to scroll or open any links, you can immediately tell what the product is and what it does. We call this the “Blink Test.”  Within a few seconds, the main header, images, animations, etc. tell me the basics of what the product is and begin to illude to why I need this product. There are also two prominent and actionable CTAs within the hero space, Free Trial and Contact Sales. Neither of these CTAs are pushing the user into buying immediately, which goes in line with that typically longer B2B selling cycle we talked about earlier. 

slack b2b website design

Additionally, as you scroll down the homepage, you see a section with reviews and the logos of respectable companies who use the app. This builds authority and trust with the audience while also creating a subtle bandwagon effect. 

Lastly, toward the bottom of the page, there are links to Slack’s resource center where you can download helpful eBooks, read blogs, and watch webinars with product tips and helpful information. These eBooks offer conversion opportunities for Slack to nurture their prospects that aren’t ready to commit yet. While most are bottom of the funnel (specific to the Slack app), others are awareness and consideration content. That means these pieces are intended to inform and aide a user along their journey, not push them into buying. (This is all part of the inbound methodology. Click here to learn more about Inbound and why it works.)

Asana 

Asana is the project management tool we here at Lake One use. We’d be lost without it. Their B2b website design is clean, minimal, and has little bits of fun design and personality. They pass our “blink test” with flying colors by providing very clear, precise headlines explaining what the product is and why it’s the best choice for a project management tool.

asana b2b webite design

Asana leads with Try for Free CTAs. Again, these are not directing people straight into buying or having to speak with somebody just yet. The beauty of CTAs like this is the opportunity to nurture a lead. You can set up workflows to send automated marketing to the lead shortly after signup or during the trial window that softly nudges them into the next step toward a purchase. When done right, this can be an extremely effective tool for conversion.

Related Reading: Essential Marketing Automation Functions to Put Your Lead Management on Autopilot

Asana then builds its authority via logos of partner companies and moves into a video on just how easy it is to use. After more credential building via reviews and more product highlights, another CTA is offered. A CTA at the bottom of the page is a standard best practice.

Unbounce 

Unbounce is a tool that allows you to create high-quality landing pages optimized for better conversion. It’s no surprise their website makes our list of best in class. Immediately, the headlines tell you exactly what the product is and how it helps. Notice a theme between this site and the others yet? That “blink test” is critical for holding attention and interest. Unbounce users are likely coming to them for one thing: increased conversions. That’s why their rotating headlines are so perfect- they recognize their user pain points and quickly position themselves as the best choice to fix it. The headlines are simple, solution-focused to a very specific problem most website visitors have, and user-centric. The subheadline then clinches the deal by explaining how in a precise manner. Additionally, the graphics that rotate with the headlines subtly provide the hard data many B2B users need to provide in order to get buy-in and approval on an expenditure.

unbounce b2b website design

Again we see the Free Trial CTA coming in clutch. Selecting software is a highly personalized choice, especially for a product with a high barrier to exit like Unbounce. There are so many variables, unique business elements, and specific business goals that need to be taken into consideration before making a software purchase. Without getting hands-on, it’s hard to know if a product will deliver on those needs. Additionally, while a website can spout off about their product’s ease of use all day, you won’t actually know how easy it is for you to use until you’re in it.

Related Reading: Turn Your Website Into a Lead Machine with HubSpot Lead Flows

Unbounce also uses video to help simplify the complexities of the product quickly. These are appealing, attention-grabbing, and effective. Lastly, they include their logo parade and testimonials to build credibility.

Vidyard 

Lastly, let’s talk about Vidyard. “Vidyard is the easiest way to create, host, and share videos so you can keep connecting with customers and colleagues when everything else feels remote.” That subheadline is so clear I can copy and paste it in here and tell you exactly what they do. The main headline is also user-centric and provides a quick answer to the question all users will have, “what’s in it for me?”

vidyard b2b website design

Vidyard then has a Get Started CTA. This one is a bit different because they offer a freemium subscription method. That means you can use it for free with limited access. In order to get full product utilization, you need to pay.

Master your B2B website strategy. Grab the guide here.

Another thing Vidyard does well is delineating their persona and industry paths. This can be an incredibly effective B2B website design element. Three separate CTAs lead to different content and offerings depending on if you’re in sales, communications, or marketing. This shows a great deal of understanding on Vidyard’s part about their personas. They know that each has unique needs and problems. By speaking to them directly, they can better serve the user with the most relevant, helpful information.

SaaS Inbound Marketing: Taking Your Business To the Next Level

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, did it make a sound? If a great SaaS product is created and there’s no inbound marketing strategy involved, will it be as successful as it could be? Well, I don’t know about that tree, but I do know if you’re looking to 1) promote your SaaS product and services 2) standout in a crowded marketplace and 3) meet revenue goals, then SaaS inbound marketing should be a part of your plan to help achieve those goals. We’ll tell you why in this post, where we: 

  1. Define SaaS inbound marketing and methodology 
  2. Showcase why inbound matters for SaaS buyers 
  3. Identify tactics beyond just free trials to promote your SaaS company 
saas inbound marketing

SaaS Inbound Marketing 

SaaS inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. 

There are three ways that the inbound methodology can be applied to your SaaS buyers: 

  • Attract: Here is where you draw the right people (that’s key) with content and resources that they will find valuable. This will help establish you as a trusted source and someone they’ll want to engage with. 
  • Engage: This is where you will present your insights and solutions to their problems and goals. If you can either solve for their pain point or help them reach their goal, they are more likely to do business with you. 
  • Delight: Last but not least, delight. Here you provide help and support customers to find success with their purchase. 

inbound for saas
Image Source: HubSpot.com 

Keep in mind that there are some unique considerations when setting out to develop a winning SaaS inbound marketing strategy though. Due to the number of decision-makers and the size of the transaction – content is key. 

Related Reading: How Engaging is Your Content Marketing? 5 KPIs to Measure Content Engagement

By and large, gone are the days of buyers reaching out to sales or requesting a quote first. Long before that happens buyers are consuming as much content as they can get their hands on. In fact, according to Gartner research, B2B buyers spend less than 20% of their time actually meeting with suppliers when considering a purchase. The remainder of their time is spent doing research online, offline, or with their peers. If you don’t have content and resources to meet them where they are at in their research process, they will find someone else who does. 

Why Inbound for B2B SaaS Buyers

SaaS inbound marketing is important because SaaS products tend to have a shorter sales cycle and are constantly evolving. Utilizing inbound allows you to address the buyer’s needs at every stage of the buyer’s journey. By providing credible information at each touchpoint, you’re creating trust between you and your prospects, while building authority for your brand. It’s a win-win. 

Inbound is also more suited for SaaS models, as it requires convincing your customer to integrate your product or software into their everyday life, which is different than selling someone on a one-off purchase. A SaaS product purchase means a change in habits and lifestyle, which isn’t as easy to sell. 


This Might Interest You: Signs Inbound Marketing Is Right For You

Put simply, SaaS inbound marketing is ideal for SaaS buyers because ultimately the goal is to answer your buyers’ questions. Inbound does that and does it well. To get buyers interested you need to start with focusing on them. By doing this, you will make their shortlist of potential solutions to their problem. Since the research tells us that B2B buyers are doing their homework long before they talk to you, by focusing on them you will have a trickle-down effect of driving downloads, leads, trials, etc. with the true measurement of success being revenue. 

The New B2B Buying Process
Image Source: Gartner.com

Know Your B2B SaaS Buyers

Now that you know why inbound marketing is ideal for B2B SaaS buyers, how do go about laser focusing the right efforts on the right buyers? Start with well-articulated buyer personas. 

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your buyers and various stakeholders. By creating this fictional character as I’ll call it, it allows marketing and sales to put themselves in the buyer’s shoes and understand the journey from their perspective. It helps you know what questions they have, what motivates them, and what barriers they have to overcome.

Not sure where to get started? There are tools for that. You can use Hubspot’s Make My Persona to walk you and your team through the process. At a high level, here are some of the main questions you will want to answer when defining your personas:

  • What does success look like for them? 
  • How do they measure that success? 
  • In their role, what barriers do they need to overcome?
  • What questions do they have throughout their buyer’s journey? 
  • What terms are they searching at each stage of the buying and research process?
b2b saas buyer
Image Source: HubSpot’s Make My Persona

Pro Tip: Creating great content for each stage of the buyer’s journey is a must, but so is having a website that makes buyers want to come back to again. Learn more about that here.

SaaS Inbound Marketing is More Than Free Trials 

Once you have your buyer personas established, you can work to find the tactics that will help move them from personas to leads to customers. And while product trials are a popular route when it comes to marketing SaaS, SaaS inbound marketing is much more than just free trials. Sure, that’s one tactic you can and maybe should use, but when marketing for a SaaS company, you can’t be a one-trick pony. If you are, you will quickly find yourself left behind by others who are offering more. In an already crowded industry, you can’t afford to give your competition any help. So what else should be up your SaaS inbound marketing sleeve? 

  • Content Strategy: We’ve already discussed the importance of creating targeted, valuable content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, but it’s worth mentioning again. A solid content strategy can help attract visitors to your website, build your brand, and generate leads. This includes more than just blogs, emails, ebooks, and infographics. Think video content as well. According to Wordstream, using videos on landing pages will increase conversions by 86%.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Once you’ve created that really great content, be sure you’re optimizing it for search so you’ll actually get it in front of your personas, by doing both on-page and off-page SEO. Keep in mind, SEO is what we would call a “long game”. You likely won’t see results immediately, but all good things come to those who wait and when done properly, your B2B SEO efforts will be worth the wait. 
  • Paid Search: If SEO is the long game, then PPC (pay-per-click) is the short-game. Definitely a player to be played. Inbound can help reduce the amount you need to spend on Adwords, but millions of people still click on search engine ads every day. To avoid missing out on potential leads, you may want to consider investing in PPC. 
  • Account Based Marketing: More than just buzzwords, account based marketing is gaining even more popular because it works. It is a highly effective way to engage with potential leads. It allows sales and marketing to collaborate to create a personalized buying experience for high-value accounts.
abm roi
Image Source: ITSMA.com
  • Here are just a few  tactics when implementing ABM: 
    • Host targeted events
    • Record and send a personalized video
    • Create and launch a LinkedIn In-mail campaign
    • Conduct account-based advertising and retargeting
    • Create custom landing pages for targeted accounts 
    • Send small gifts via direct mail and follow up via email
  • Social Media: While traditional social media channels should be a part of your SaaS inbound marketing strategy to a certain extent, SaaS companies can also benefit from being in unconventional channels where their users might be hanging out. There are forums that you can be a part of to position yourself as experts in your industry. Sites like CNet Forums, Spiceworks Community, and the like are examples of channels to explore in addition to your regular social platforms. 

We know SaaS is a complex industry, but the decision to launch an inbound marketing strategy doesn’t have to be. If you’re interested in learning more about SaaS marketing or want to take your efforts to the next level, let’s connect.

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B2B CRM Strategy: 6 Ways It Can Drive Sales & Marketing Alignment

The B2B buying environment is complex and often multifaceted. With heavy workloads and high goals, one thing remains consistent across the board: strong business relationships help close deals and drive company growth. But how do you keep track of contact history and provide visibility company-wide all while keeping your sales and marketing teams aligned? Queue Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and B2B CRM strategy.

CRM software revenues are now the largest of all software markets with revenues expected to reach over $80 billion by 2025. 

B2B CRM Software Revenue Chart

Image Source: SuperOffice

What is a B2B CRM

According to Salesforce, a B2B CRM stands for Business to Business Customer Relationship Management and refers to systems, technologies, strategies, and processes that help B2B companies manage their relationships with existing and potential customers. It helps companies better understand contacts, their needs, and where they are in the buyer’s journey as it relates to your business. 

Why Invest in a B2B CRM

B2B CRMs should really be thought of as a strategic way of understanding, managing, and delivering on business customers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. They really are what you make of it, but here are three main reasons why you should take the plunge and invest in a CRM and drive alignment for your internal teams. 

Better Visibility

B2B CRMs provide visibility system-wide and are single-handedly the best solution for keeping a real-time pulse on your contact database and sales cycle ecosystem. Even smarketing meetings (sales and marketing alignment team meetings) can’t provide you with the same kind of real-time feedback across teams. 

Have a question on a contact? Or are you wondering overall how leads that come from paid media are performing? Your answers lie in the CRM.

Working Smarter

We’re big fans of working smarter and not getting bogged down with busy work or meetings for meetings sake. You might be thinking that CRMs create more work because of all the necessary input which is only partially true. It does take time to adjust your daily processes to a CRM, but once you do, your teams will likely find that they are more efficient with contact follow up and reporting, and actually are able to spend more time selling and focusing on target accounts. And as an added bonus, marketing has better insight into marketing qualified lead performance as well, resulting in the ability to hone in lead quality vs quantity. 

Data-Driven Decision Making 

Whether you’re looking for a bird’s eye view or you like getting down and dirty with the details, CRMs undoubtedly provide insight into the data. You can view account activity, pipeline, close rates, and more. You’ll also be able to turn your hunches into a data-driven decision. For example, let’s say you think that the majority of your prospects in a certain industry sign when you can get them to a demo. A CRM would allow you to confirm that in the data and then you could spend your time focusing on how to get more prospects in the said industry to demo faster.

Getting Started with Your B2B CRM Strategy

B2B CRMs should really be thought of as a strategic way of understanding, managing, and delivering on business customers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. The CRM technology itself is what enables the strategy and makes it possible.  

So where to start? Here are our 6 proven B2B CRM strategies that fuel sales and marketing alignment and business growth. 

Related Reading: Is a HubSpot CRM Right for You? 7 Questions to Consider

Get Teams Speaking the Same Language

CRMs are great, but they’re only as good as in the information you put it in and it’s really difficult to increase usage if everyone has different definitions of some of the basics. Everybody needs to be speaking the same language and have a common understanding of what is critical for your CRM. And trust us, it’s better to iron out the basics sooner in the process rather than later.

Lifecycle Stages & Lead Statuses 

Lifecycle stages and lead statuses may differ slightly in naming depending on your platform, but the purpose behind them likely doesn’t. Lifecycle stages signify what stage your contact is in the buyer’s journey and lead status provides an extra layer of detail as to where they are at exactly. Here are the most common definitions we use across our partnerships.

Lifecycle Stages

  • Subscriber: Contacts who know of your business and have opted in to hear more from your team. This is likely visitors that have signed up for your blog or newsletter.
  • Lead: Contacts who have shown sales-readiness beyond being a subscriber. An example of a lead is a contact who signs up for a content offer from your business.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead: Contacts who have engaged with the team’s marketing efforts, but are still not ready to receive a sales call. An example of an MQL is a contact who responds to a specific form in a marketing campaign.
  • Sales Qualified Lead: A contact that your sales team has qualified as a potential customer.
  • Opportunity: A contact who is a real sales opportunity.
  • Customer: A contact with a closed deal(s).

Lead Statuses

  • Prospect: No marketing automation. Contacts with this lead status are being hunted by sales.
  • New: All new leads will be assigned this status by default.
  • Open: A lead that is currently being worked by sales.
  • In Progress: A connection has been and the lead is in progress.
  • Open Deal: There is an open deal with the contact.
  • Attempted to Contact: Sales is attempting to contact or follow up with a lead.
  • Connected: Sales has connected with the contact.
  • Unqualified: Lead is not qualified to do business.

Pro Tip: Identify your lifecycle stages and statues as part of your Service Level Agreement. Learn more about Lake One’s SLAs here.

Contact Field Basics & Defaults

You’ll also want to work with key stakeholders to define your default required fields. For any field that has a dropdown, you’ll want to make sure those are well-defined among internal teams as well. The basics range from specific contact information needed down to current solution provider, market or buying role. Most CRMs will allow you to customize fields to your business needs.

Pro Tip: Think wisely about the field ‘type’ you select when creating properties as it’s nearly impossible to use a single line text field in list segmentation or workflows. This is due to the room for error in data input. For workflow usable data, dropdown selects are one of my favorites! We reserved single line text for fields like phone numbers, addresses, notes, etc. 

Segment Contacts for Personalized Communication

Personalization in a B2B email can improve click-through rate by as much as 14% and conversion rates by 10%. Personalization starts with list segmentation. Of course it can come in to play via the actual insertion of personalization tokens (names, role, etc.), but deciding who you are communicating with is the first step. 

B2B CRMs allow you to segment contacts by where they are at in the buyer’s journey (lead, customer, MQL), their product interest, industry, etc. without needing to think about each contact and manually emailing a custom communication. This is also critical for sales and marketing alignment and allows both teams to tailor communications. Get more tips on writing B2B sales emails here.

Close the Feedback Loop in Real-Time

A key component of sales and marketing alignment is closing the feedback loop between sales and marketing. It’s absolutely essential that sales provides feedback on lead quality and lead status in real-time. 

Closing the feedback loop entails:

  • Sales communicating a lead is rejected
  • Sales communicating why a lead is rejected (poor timing, bad contact information, no budget, etc.)
  • Communication on when lead nurturing is taking place
  • Communication on if and when to resume lead nurturing once it’s been paused 

All of the above is made possible by a B2B CRM in a relatively quick and painless way. 

Leverage Lead Scoring That’s Based on Engagement

Lead scoring is a systematic and scientific way of ranking leads based on their readiness to purchase a product or service from your company. Scores are assigned to certain criteria such as a lead’s fit for your product or service, expressed interest through different activities like filling out a form or watching a webinar, and position in the buying cycle.

Lead Scoring provides a reliable, predictable, recurring means for deciding which leads are sales-ready, and ordering them by importance takes the guesswork out for both teams.

Lead scoring can be done by either using explicit data/demographics and/or implicit data/actions or behavior. A B2B CRM allows you to track and gather implicit data more easily such as: email opens, click-through-rates, key page views, and form fills. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to track and leverage the data across teams. 

Related Reading: Lead Scoring Basics 

Universal Deal Stages & Pipelines That Reflect Sales Cycles

Pipelines and deal stages help to break down complex B2B buying cycles into a measurable process that’s easily digestible. Whether you have an established sales process or you’re starting from scratch, B2B CRMs like HubSpot make it easy to create your ideal process.

HubSpot B2B CRM Strategy

Image Source: HubSpot

Most processes of course start with a meeting and end either in closed won or closed lost. The pipeline gives you visibility into what’s in process, when things will hit, and most importantly, what’s stuck in the process. 

Use Forecasting & Reporting to Better Manage Teams

B2B CRMs like HubSpot really shine when it comes to taking your data inputs and turning it into dashboards and usable reporting. Maybe you could create manually? But the time savings and accuracy that come with CRMs are too good to pass up. Here are a few ways to leverage CRM data for forecasting and better managing your teams.

Related Reading: 6 KPIs for Sales & Marketing Alignment

Sales Team Activity: View activities by sales rep on a rolling basis. Activity includes number of calls, meetings, emails, new contacts, deals closed, etc. It’s easy to see top performers and those who might be phoning it in.

HubSpot B2B CRM Strategy

Image Source: HubSpot

Forecasting Deal Revenue: Get a clear view of what’s coming down the pipe associated with the deal stage and its likelihood to close. The benefit of these reports are two-fold. It keeps your sales reps accountable knowing that their estimates will be used in reporting and it also allows you to better forecast. 

HubSpot B2B CRM Strategy

Image Source: HubSpot

About Sales & Marketing Alignment Services at Lake One

At Lake One, technology is at the core of all our sales and marketing thinking. We call these services basecamp.

  • We work with our partners to make sure their basecamp is “right sized” for their organization.
  • That the goals and strategy are leading the technology choices and not the other way around.
  • But most of all – that the technology is embraced and providing value to the organization.

 Book Your Consultation Now

Turn Your Website Into a Lead Machine with HubSpot Lead Flows

You did it! Your site traffic is growing. Your blogging, social media, and offline brand development are all working. You kick back, relax, and wait for the leads to flow in. But aside from the robo-SEO service from Kazakhstan, your lead forms aren’t doing much. What’s wrong? It’s possible your offers aren’t aligning with your content or your website visitors aren’t getting pointed to your highest value conversion points. How do you fix it? If you’re a HubSpot user, it’s HubSpot lead flows to the rescue.

hubspot lead flows blog

What is a Hubspot Lead Flow

A HubSpot lead flow is a special kind of conversion unit that you set up in HubSpot. It is a pop-up form based on parameters you set and can either gather lead information on the spot – or direct a website visitor to a high-value page like a resource center or limited time offer.

Forms vs Lead Flow

So what’s the difference between a HubSpot form and a lead flow? The biggest difference is the way the two are served to a user.

A form is a static destination that you have to create a conversion funnel (call to action, landing page, etc.) to drive a website user to.

A lead flow brings the form and point of conversion to a visitor based on key behaviors and parameters you’ve identified.

For example, the user is reading content related to a new offer you have, or they are on a list of MQLs and you want to serve them a decision stage offer, or they came from a referral URL as part of an account-based marketing program and you want to personalize an offer to them.

How Can a Lead Flow Supplement a Visitors Experience

Not all pop-ups are appreciated by users and a lot of sites go overkill with exit-intent “Are you sure you don’t want to subscribe to our email list before you leave? PLEEEEEEASE!?”. But if used judiciously, lead flows can improve the overall visitor experience on your site. Here are a few best practices to consider.

  • When choosing where they “pop in” consider other notifications, i.e. chat or cookie notices. Having them all overlap creates chaos.
  • Use exclusion lists to make sure people aren’t seeing it that shouldn’t
  • Be as specific as you can in your targeting and matching up the offer to the visitor

HubSpot Lead Flow Example

The obvious use of a lead flow is to offer a piece of content in exchange for lead intel right away. But the creativity comes in targeting and in the application. But there are creative ways to make the most of the feature as well. Here is a lead flow example that goes beyond immediate conversion.

When crisis strikes, lead flows are a great way to get your website visitors to your most critical content right away. This example from Communication Firm and Lake One client, Beehive Strategic Communication is a great example. They also utilized an exit-intent on the page to allow visitors to get an update as new resources become available.

How to Set Up a HubSpot Lead Flow

Lead flows are a snap to set up. Here is a step-by-step outline and video walkthrough to get you going:

  • Under the “Marketing” navigation, head to Lead Capture > Forms
  • Select Create Form
  • Choose Pop up Form > Next
  • Choose Type and Name your form
  • Build your call out and define the action you want your CTA to take
  • If capturing lead info in the Pop-Up, build the form
  • Optional: send a follow-up email
  • Define your targeting parameters
  • Set options for mobile and how long to not show to those who dismiss
  • Preview
  • Turn it live

Need help putting your lead flows in motion? Schedule a free consult.

 Book Your Consultation Now