Building Blocks of a Quota Crushing Sales Enablement Program

Sales enablement is quickly gaining traction across organizations. High-growth companies are finding that in order to grow the business and hit revenue targets, sales teams need more support. 

According to HubSpot, Sales Enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales teams with the resources they need to close more deals. Resources include content, tools, knowledge and the information needed to effectively sell and close more deals.

Source: Demand Metric

Although sales enablement programs aren’t one size fits all, successful programs have these building blocks in common.

sales enablement program

Strategy

A successful sales enablement program almost always starts with a good strategy. In order for a program to make an impact, it needs to be aligned with the needs of your organization, but in order to do that, you need to understand where your team is at today. Your baseline.

  • What current challenges is your company facing?
  • What are the teams’ pain points?
  • Where is there friction in the buying process?

Open dialogue should start to unearth areas of opportunity for team alignment, streamlined processes and content creation. 

Sales Enablement Content

There are two key areas when it comes to sales enablement content – content alignment and content management.

Content Alignment

Sales enablement content can be for both internal sales support and for lead generation. Marketers are hyper-focused on the buyer’s journey and who better to bring back information from the front lines than the sales team? Sales can share insights into knowledge gaps, buyer objections, and content performance. Some examples of sales enablement content are:

  • Internal Sales Support Content: Product sheets, competitor comparisons, email templates and snippets, one-pagers, presentation support, and social messages.
  • Lead Generation Content: Blog posts, white papers, case studies, and videos.
Source: Uplandsoftware.com

Creating content that is underutilized and undervalued, doesn’t benefit anyone. Aligning your content strategy with buyers to further support sales efforts is a win-win across the board.

Content Management

According to Inc., the average salesperson spends about 440 hours each year trying to find the right content to share with their prospects and customers. Yikes.

Creating the content is only half of it. Take it the extra mile by making the content easily discoverable by sales. This can be as easy as a shared file system, a Google Doc, or as sophisticated as creating trackable documents and leveraging marketing technology. You want your team to spend their time selling, not tracking down assets.

Pro Tip: At Lake One, we do a hybrid approach for sales enablement content that consists of a workbook that we call a “Content Audit” along with trackable sales documents in HubSpot. We often categorize the assets by industry, service area, and persona, for easy lookup.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

The alignment of sales and marketing teams for sale enablement isn’t just necessary- it’s the entire point. When creating your strategy, keep that at the heart of it all. Ultimately, you want to create a symbiotic relationship between both teams. Sales should be communicating their needs and knowledge to marketing as we mentioned. This includes what assets would be most helpful in their sales process as mentioned, but it also includes what feedback they receive from leads, how long their sales process typically takes, etc. At the same time, marketing should be communicating back to sales about up and coming events, relative data points and new assets on the horizon. 

You’ll hopefully kick off your strategy creation with a meeting of the minds from both teams, but plan to make this a recurring event. The aim is to have regular check-ins to keep communication open, analyze data, and optimize your efforts.

Learn more about marketing’s role in B2B Sales Enablement 

Training & Reinforcement

We understand busy schedules more than anyone, but training and reinforcement is a must and is non-negotiable for making your sales enablement program stick.

Source: Brainshark.com

According to the Harvard Business Review, salespeople lose 80 to 90% of what they learn after one month. 

Training doesn’t have to be a days-long convention on solution selling. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Frequency and consistency are key. Not sure what to train your teams on? Here are a couple of suggestions to help you flush it out.

  • Review the team stats. Do you have a stellar performer that is standing out about the rest that could share some pointers with the team? Or is your team performing below industry benchmarks?
  • Just ask. Chances are your team has areas that they’d like to improve if given the opportunity.

The Role of Technology in Sales Enablement

According to Forbes, the term “sales enablement technology” refers to a software or system that allows the sales team to access content that is relevant to their target consumer and appropriate for the consumer’s position in the sales funnel. It also makes content accessibility and reporting a heck of a lot easier.

From notifications of initial interest all the way through to closing deals, consider how you want your sales and marketing teams to work together. How can you streamline the process, using technology? Where can you automate a manual process? 

The specific role technology plays in your sales enablement program can vary, but will likely consist of a few of these basics.

Source: 6connex.com

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM helps manage and organize your company’s interactions with prospects and clients. It’s your central source of truth for account ownership, account activity, and the state of the state. It’s critical for alignment.

Of course though, CRMs these days aren’t just CRMs. There is an opportunity to integrate your CRM with your marketing automation software. A CRM, like HubSpot does this seamlessly and can bring your sales enablement strategy to the next level because it allows your team to see, nurture, and report on leads. Thorough contact records are kept up to date automatically with the actions leads have taken on your website including things like content downloads, email opens, and page visits. These insights help to bring your content full picture.

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

Additionally, a CRM allows for progress tracking of sales or deals. It’s really where your sales enablement strategy is able to come to life as a shared information access point for better visibility and better forecasting. 

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is the use of technology to automate elements of your sales and marketing processes. It’s the clincher in a sales enablement strategy and how you can make the most out of your CRM. Marketing automation can be used to aid in prospecting, lead nurturing, sales follow up and streamlining internal processes. 

Marketing Automation for Manufacturing

Related Reading: Sales & Marketing Automation: What it is & what it can do for B2B

Getting Your Sales Enablement Program Started

Now that you know the basics, here are a few tips for getting started.

  • Start with the end in mind. Know your goals and work backward, determining which levers you can pull to make an impact. 
  • Don’t develop your strategy in a vacuum. Sales enablement is a team effort so make sure you have buy-in and agreement from key stakeholders.
  • Progress over perfection. You’re going to have bumps and you’re going to face challenges. That’s okay! We’re big believers in learning as you go and going forward.

If you’re considering building a sales enablement program, we’d love to chat. Contact us.

Marketing Automation for Manufacturing: How to make it Your Firm’s Unfair Advantage

Manufacturing is an industry that can often rely heavily on trade shows, in-person meetings, and product catalogs. However, like many industries, there’s a pressure and need to survive and thrive in the digital marketplace we’ve all become accustomed to. One tool manufacturing companies can have in their toolbox, is marketing automation. Marketing automation helps manufacturers simplify complex b2b processes while personalizing and scaling their digital marketing and sales efforts. 

With 48% of Marketers using marketing automation, it is one of the 4 most popular methods to create personalized customer experiences. – House of Marketing “Yearly Marketing Survey 2019” (2019)

By definition according to HubSpot, marketing automation is a tactic that allows companies to nurture leads through the buyer’s journey using personalized and valuable content. It also supports scale and growth within organizations. In this post we will talk about five key areas marketing automation can fuel your modern marketing strategy.

marketing automation for manufacturing

But First, Strategy.

Marketing automation is all about using software to automate manual processes and activities. These activities can include email, lead routing, social media, managing contact data properties, lead scoring, contact follow up, and more. But those are all features and functions. Technology is a solution. Not a strategy. 

Marketing automation is most effective when it’s driven by a persona-centric, buyer-focused, process founded strategy. 

Looking for help with strategy? Book a free consult.

Marketing Automation for Email Marketing

Marketing automation is so much more than email, but it’s likely what comes to mind first when you think about marketing automation. When done correctly, it allows for personalized emails to be sent to a segmented list from your contact database.

Why is this important? Manufacturers can have massive contact databases that house leads, vendors, reps, distributors, and customers alike. Personalizing communication and tailoring your message to your personas is key for engagement and effectiveness.

List Segmentation

List segmentation is pulling contacts that meet a certain set of criteria at a given time based on the information you have in your database. When potentially crawling through tens of thousands of contacts, automating list pulling is a must. 

For example, if you want to send an email to all of your customers who are engineers, who have an interest in product XYZ and reside in the U.S., list segmentation is the way to go. With a few clicks, you’ll have the list you need to provide relevant, timely, and helpful information in your communication.

Personalization

Automated marketing emails don’t have to ‘feel’ automated. Marketing automation allows for email personalization at scale. Here are a few examples for manufacturers.

  • Addressing your recipient by name in the greeting
  • Referencing their company name when giving an example of how their company could benefit from your product
  • Referencing their role or job title when discussing pain points or solutions pertinent to their role
  • Referencing the last piece of content they downloaded by name and asking if they are finding it helpful
  • Customizing the sender information per contact by contact owner
  • Referencing product or product category of interest
  • Referencing examples and case studies

When using platforms like HubSpot, you can pull in nearly every property as a personalization token within your email. 

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to test your email internally, prior to sending your full list to confirm the personalization tokens rendered in the copy as intended. 

Marketing Automation for Manufacturing
Found on  HubSpot, Research by Jupiter Research.

Marketing Automation for Lead Generation

Marketing Automation facilitates lead capture and lead generation most commonly through forms and landing pages. Leads can take all sorts of forms for manufacturers. New distribution partners, new suppliers, all the way to end users and customers. But they all start their journey at contact with your firm. 

Landing Pages

Landing pages are web pages that are optimized for conversion and focus on a clear call-to-action for your personas such as downloading an ebook, requesting a catalog, signing up for a newsletter or requesting a quote.

Manufacturing websites can be robust because they house many product pages so providing dedicated landing pages that cut out the noise and drive one action becomes really important. 

Forms

One key part of landing pages that is so fundamental it deserves a call-out of its own, is forms. Forms provide the chance for your personas to share information with you in exchange for something (an ebook, a purchasing quote, etc.) Selecting which form fields appear in your forms is a part of a sales and marketing aligned strategy. Here are some form fields for consideration for manufacturing:

  • Job function
  • Location
  • Company name
  • Product interest
  • Readiness to buy

Although I’m sure there is a lot of information you’d like to know about our contacts, be selective and make sure the number and type of questions you ask is equivalent to the value the user gets in turn for completing the form. 

Pro Tip: Platforms like HubSpot allow you to leverage progressive fields which means you aren’t showing repeat questions for the same lead. This allows for you to continue to collect valuable information for repeat form fills.

Marketing Automation for Manufacturing

Marketing Automation 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. 

On average, 50% of the leads in any system are not yet ready to buy (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. Here are a few examples of actions that can initiate a lead nurturing campaign for manufacturers. 

  • A lead downloads a piece of premium content like an ebook
  • A lead attends a webinar
  • A lead requests more information on a specific product 
  • A lead downloads a case study or a buyers guide

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. 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.

Marketing Automation for Sales Collaboration & Internal Processes

Marketing automation is a major element of sales collaboration and simplifying internal processes. 

Marketing Automation

Sales Collaboration

At  Lake One, we bleed sales and marketing alignment. Marketing automation facilitates collaboration between sales and marketing in real-time. It’s the conduit between the two teams. Manufacturers can use marketing automation for the following sales collaboration oriented workflows:

  • Lead scoring
  • Assigning lifecycle stages and lead statuses
  • Handing off Marketing Qualified Leads to sales
  • Closing the lead quality feedback loop

Related Reading: How to Marketing Qualify Your Manufacturing Leads

Internal Processes

Manufacturing 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. It’s made possible again through workflows. Here are some examples of workflows leveraged by manufacturing companies to drive efficiencies.

  • Routing leads by sales rep territory
  • Sending custom ‘Thank You’ emails by country
  • Routing internal requests like samples, RFQs or catalogs
  • Creating custom tasks by sales rep for lead review
  • Automatically setting subscription types
  • Setting product interest categories

The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to creating custom workflows to support your internal processes. 

Marketing Automation for Reporting & Attribution

At the end of the day, it’s about numbers. Marketing automation platforms give you the ability to create dashboards for your organization to view the reporting that matters most. Typical reports manufacturers can leverage include:

  • Contact lifecycle funnel (from a lead all the way to a customer)
  • Lead source
  • Traffic sessions
  • Email performance
  • Landing page performance
  • Sales pipeline

Is Marketing Automation Right for Your Manufacturing Company?

We realize marketing for manufacturing can be complex, especially when you add marketing tech. Building a revenue operations machine with the technology to automate and support the complexities of your customer channels can come with plenty of questions.

Interested in exploring if marketing automation is right for you? Book a free 1-hour consultation with Ryan, our lead strategist.

 Book Your Consultation Now

Sales & Marketing Automation: What it is & what it can do for B2B

You likely know that sales and marketing alignment is our jam. We are all about the two teams communicating openly and working towards common goals. But did you also know that we are all about working smarter? Sales and marketing automation can help you with some of the heavy lifting allowing you to scale and spend your time on the things that matter most to your business.

Despite the joint naming, sales automation and marketing automation serve distinct purposes within an organization. In this post, we’ll define both sales and marketing automation and share some of our top tips for implementation. 

Sales & Marketing Automation

What is Sales Automation?

HubSpot defines sales automation as the mechanization of manual, time-consuming sales tasks using software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other digital tools. 

With the sales team focused on one to one communication, automation can help with prospecting and outreach and cut down on response time, making sales uber efficient. More specifically, sales automation helps with:

  • Lead distribution
  • Lead follow-up emails
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Sales quotes/proposals
  • Customer onboarding
  • Lead scoring
  • Approvals
  • Lead qualification

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is using software to automate marketing activities such as email marketing, social posting, and reporting. 

With the marketing team focused on communicating to a group of people, (ideally targeted to personas), automation adds scalability and also personalization. Without marketing automation, it’s nearly impossible to include personalization at the scale needed for most B2B businesses. 

Marketing automation helps to accomplish the following:

  • Updated tracking
  • Real-time alerts
  • Automated lead-hand off
  • Forms
  • Landing pages
  • Social post scheduling
  • Emails 
  • Lead nurturing
  • Lead qualification

Did we mention you can use marketing automation to outsource lead gen? Read more.

Sales & Marketing Automation Tips for B2B

If you’re either considering sales and marketing automation for your business or your current efforts aren’t going so well, this next section is for you. Here are our top five sales and marketing automation tips. 

Tip #1: It starts with alignment

If it feels like your sales and marketing teams are on different planets, adding automation to the mix won’t solve that. It’s best to have a meeting of the minds first. There you should outline responsibilities, define key terms and align your goals. 

Alignment can be a process, but at a minimum, it should be an active process.

MarTech Assessment

Tip #2: Don’t overbuy

Underutilized technology can be a costly expenditure. Not every company needs sales and marketing automation and not every company needs all the bells and whistles of enterprise-grade solutions. Being aligned as a team will help you hone in on the features that are necessary.

Here are some questions for consideration when evaluating the needs of your teams:

  • Are you struggling to segment and prioritize leads?
  • Do your leads require nurturing?
  • Is your sales team struggling to find the time to follow up with leads?
  • Are you leveraging your content?
  • Do you know where your teams are coming from?
  • How are leads handed off?

Tip #3: Have a plan 

Sales and marketing automation can be great, but not without a plan. Having an agreed-upon strategy of what matters to your organization will help you select the tech that meets your needs and execute day to day.

Automation isn’t the entire strategy, but it’s part of it.

Tip #4: Who owns automation?

Bringing on new technology can sometimes have people asking, “Who’s on first?” We strongly recommend appointing an automation internal champion. This person is responsible for adoption, consistency and holding teams accountable.

Tip #5: Don’t forget you’re marketing and selling to humans

When it comes to automation, you can have too much of a good thing because at the end of the day, you’re still marketing and selling to humans. No one wants to engage and converse with a robot, especially if the buyer is in the decision stage. 

 Make sure to:

  • Monitor replies to your automated your messaging
  • Use personalization
  • Practice social listening 
  • Analyze the data and optimize

Avoid these B2B email nurture mistakes that will leave your leads dead in the water.

Tip #5: Automation isn’t set it and forget it

C’mon. Is there anything in sales or marketing that is set it and forget it? The answer is no. There isn’t. Sales and marketing automation tools typically come with better reporting capabilities. Use it! 

Also, there’s part of the story that can’t always be seen in the data. Take the time to talk to the teams and solicit feedback.

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.

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8 Cringeworthy B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes that Leave Your Leads Dead in the Water

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. 

Okay, so if they are interacting with your website, but they aren’t ready to buy, what are they doing? They are likely researching solutions to solve their problems and considering several options prior to making a purchase decision. 

The way that we as marketers help leads through the buyer’s journey, is by leveraging email nurture sequences, also known as lead nurturing. Lead Nurturing by definition is the process of building effective relationships with potential customers throughout the buying journey. 

One to one direct communication with all B2B leads isn’t scalable, but strategic email lead nurturing is, and it’s effective. The caveat? Email nurturing must be strategic. 

Here are 8 B2B email nurturing mistakes that will tank your conversion rates and leave your leads dead in the water.  

B2B email nurturing mistakes

Mistake #1: Not Having a Lead Nurturing Campaign at All

Every B2B company needs lead nurturing one way or another. Not convinced? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have content available for download?
  2. Do you have a chatbot?
  3. Do you have a ‘Contact Us’ form on your website?
  4. Do you offer a demo or webinar?
  5. Do you a newsletter sign up?

If you answered yes to any of the above, email nurture sequences are for you. They do some of the heavy lifting by giving the potential buyer the information they need to help themselves, yet still provide them with the opportunity to easily raise their hand for sales. 

And let’s face it, if you’re not nurturing them, another company likely will and they’ll be drawn elsewhere.

Mistake #2: Forgoing Strategy and Research 

Nothing can turn your leads away faster than poorly targeted random marketing emails. Let strategy and research fuel your persona development and help you craft your marketing plan at large. Email lead nurturing should roll up nicely and be aligned across teams.

Interested in how Lake One does strategy? Here’s what we include.

Mistake #3: Not using personalization

Make sure your emails sound like they were written by a human being for another human being to read. 

If you’re using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, you’ve likely collected data that can be easily inserted into your emails to add a personal touch. It can be as simple as addressing the email with their first name or you can take it a step further. Do you know their role? Their job title? The more insights you can glean from your leads, the more tailored you can make your emails. 

Also, here’s a fun fact. 

B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes

Mistake #4: Death by sales pitch 

Not all leads are ready to buy the second they begin interacting with your brand, so hang tight on transcribing your elevator pitch.  

It’s important to meet personas where they are at in the buyer’s journey by providing relevant, helpful content. Videos, blogs, additional resources, case studies, and customer testimony are perfect tidbits that can be shared via email nurture campaigns.

Are sales pitches ever appropriate? Absolutely. There comes a point in the nurture sequence, which should be determined by user engagement, where you absolutely ‘ask for the sale’. Here are some ways to do that.

Mistake #5: CTA Overload

Every email should have at least one clear call-to-action (CTA), but too many CTAs can be a distraction. Not to mention, it makes for an ugly email. 

Pro Tip: If you’re unclear about the purpose of your email, the lead likely will be too. Take a step back and list out the email subject, primary CTA and secondary CTAs if you have them, in a doc prior to building out your sequence. 

B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes

Mistake #6: Radio Silence When Leads Engage 

This one seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how often email replies go unanswered. If a lead replies to your nurture sequence, where does it go? Who checks the inbox? Whose responsibility is it to reply? Make sure to have a game plan in place prior to launching.

What’s worse than silence? Any of these mistakes!

Mistake #7: Thinking Lead Nurturing is One and Done

The more blogs I write, the more I feel like a broken record that’s stuck on research and optimization. But it’s so true. Lead nurture emails are perfect candidates for optimization and should be based on research.

Not sure where to start the optimization process? Let the data be your guide vs intuition. Subject lines, CTAs, and email timing are all great optimization candidates if the data points are lackluster.

Mistake #8: Keeping Sales in the Dark 

Lead conversion is a team effort and often a result of both the sales and marketing team working towards the same goals

Lead Scoring Guide

When it comes to workflows and email nurture, it’s especially critical that sales and marketing align and have a system in place to signify when a lead is actively talking to sales or vice versa. Nothing can confuse or in some cases, annoy your leads more than emails from several people at the same company. Not sure if you’re aligned? Here are some tips to check.

The good news, this can be easily avoided if you’re using HubSpot by leveraging enrollment criteria, lists, and lead status. 

6 Must-Track B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Are you using email to send content to your leads and customers? If you’re not, turns out you’re part of the minority.

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Whether you’re a seasoned marketing pro or an email novice, check out the list of our top B2B email marketing KPIs we like to track. But before we dive into the metrics, we need to touch on one major email marketing necessity, goals. 

Email Marketing Goals 

You should know by now that random acts of marketing (executing marketing tactics that aren’t part of an overarching strategy) are a major don’t in our book and that definitely applies to emails. You might be thinking, “It’s just an email.” And in a sense, you’re right. However, all email communication whether it be a newsletter or a simple follow up email post-download needs to be part of a greater digital marketing strategy.

Learn all about Lake One’s Digital Strategy here.

Okay, so how do you go from the big picture down to your email campaigns? You break it down email by email.

HubSpot recommends doing a quick gut check before you send your next email by asking yourself these questions. What is the goal of my email marketing? Is it to grow my subscriber database? Generate more leads? To convert more existing leads into customers?

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Once you have your goal(s) determined, you’re ready to figure out which metrics you need to track. Read on for our top 6 fav B2B Email Marketing KPIs.

Need help goal setting? Download our SMART Goals template. 

#1. Bounce Rate

What is bounce rate? Bounce rate is the percentage of emails that could not be successfully delivered to the email recipient’s inbox. 

Why we track bounce rate: Emails can bounce for several reasons and fall into two categories, “hard” and “soft”. Soft bounces are temporary problems with delivery like issues with an email client’s server. Hard bounces are permanent problems such as a nonexistent email address and will never be delivered. 

Okay, so an email can’t be delivered, how does that affect you? Our friends at HubSpot say contact list cleanup is a must and we agree. All hard bounces should be removed from your list immediately because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key factors to determine an email sender’s reputation. Too many bounces = Spammer when it comes to ISPs. 

#2. Open Rate

What is open rate? Open rate is the percentage of recipients that open a given email.

Why we track open rate: Recipients can’t convert if they aren’t opening your emails, so the open rate can be a great place to start for optimization. We have to disclose though, not everyone is a fan of tracking open rate because it can be an unreliable metric. An email only counts as opened if the recipient also receives all embedded images within that email. Image blocking is an option via email clients- it’s definitely a possibility your number is off. 

So all of the above aside, we still like to keep open rate on our radar, especially when optimizing subject lines and using it comparatively. 

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

#3. Click-Through-Rate 

What is Click-through-rate? CTR is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links in an email. We often refer to the links as the Call-to-Action (CTA) of the email.

Why we track CTR: CTR is a great indicator of how your email is performing and if your content is resonating with your personas. Are recipients actually clicking on the links that you want them to click on? According to Campaign Monitor, the average click-through rate for most campaigns is slightly over 4%. Here are some tips on how to optimize your followup email CTAs for a higher CTR.

#4. Conversion Rate

What is conversion rate? Conversion rate is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on an email CTA and completed the desired action. Think completing a form, signing up for a free trial, making a purchase, etc.

Why we track conversion rate: Conversion rate is the money maker! Both figuratively and quite literally in some instances. The first step in email marketing is getting the user to click on your link in the email and the second is getting them to convert. This is a major metric in determining if you are meeting your goals.

Lead to MQL/Customer Conversion Rate

Depending on your email campaign goals you can really drill down when it comes to conversion rate. It can also spin off into other metrics such as Lead to Marketing Qualified conversion rate and Lead to Customer conversion rates. 

#5. ROI

What is B2B Email Marketing ROI? ROI is the overall return on investment for your B2B email marketing campaign. 

Why we track ROI: ROI is a KPI staple. Just like any other initiative within your company, you need to track ROI. Are you making money? Are your marketing efforts helping the bottom line? ROI analysis can point out areas of opportunity and areas that are burning cash. 

While we’re talking about KPIs, are you tracking your sales and marketing team alignment? Here’s some more info.

#6. Unsubscribe Rate

What is Unsubscribe Rate? Unsubscribe rate is the rate at which email recipients are unsubscribing from receiving email communication from your company. 

Why we track unsubscribe rate: Unsubscribes alone shouldn’t be the only indicator you review for email performance; however, if your unsubscribes are high, check it out! Perhaps your email is too aggressive, your customers have outgrown you, or your persona messaging is off.

Whatever the reason, high unsubscribe rates are like a big flashing light saying, “Change needed here.” 

Smart Goals Worksheet Template

Words to the Wise

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers and become hyper-focused on the KPIs, but here are few things to keep in mind.

  1. Keep it in perspective. Don’t rest solely on percentages. Make sure to look at how many recipients are contributing to the data before you go optimization crazy.
  2. Optimize. And then Optimize again. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you see a number you don’t like, optimize! Emails are perfect candidates for testing. 
  3. Give it time. You want to give your email campaign time to do its thing. Rapid-fire changes aren’t helpful because it muddies the waters of what’s actually contributing to the change. 

The 5-Step Blueprint to Building Conversion Paths

Conversion funnel by definition can mean a few different things depending on the source, but here at Lake One, when we talk about conversion funnel as it relates to an inbound marketing program, we’re talking about the call-to-action, landing page, thank you page, and follow-up email that supports our inbound efforts. 

Read on to learn more about the key components of a conversion funnel along with some insider tips for implementation.  

conversion funnel

Call-to-Actions

With content consumption at an all-time high among consumers, Call-to-Actions (CTAs) are uber important. 

In Marketing, a call-to-action (CTA) is an instruction to your target buyer designed to provoke an immediate response. Figuratively speaking, CTAs are a hand wave or an arrow saying, “Hey! Look over here. We have something you might like!” 

CTAs use action words to direct the user. For example, ‘download this white paper now’, ‘click here’ and ‘watch the video’. There are so many examples of CTAs, but a few elements stay consistent across the board.

  • Headline: Write a header that makes it clear and easy to see what it is you’re offering.
  • Sub Header: Explain the value to the user of what you’re offering, but keep it concise. Space is limited. 
  • Image: Include an image that relates to what you’re offering to catch the user’s eye and add additional context.
  • Action Words: Here’s where you actually say what action you want the user to take (download here) typically called out by a button or highlighted differently in some way.

Below is an example of a Lake One’s CTAs. Go ahead. Click on it 

LinkedIn Marketing Guide

Landing Page 

Although the majority of B2B businesses are using landing pages, not all landing pages are created equal. 

Landing pages are different than your other website pages for a few reasons and should contain at a minimum, the following elements.

No Page Navigation

Landing pages should be designed to be lean mean converting machines and the full navigation menu can distract users. We want them to submit the form and get down to business. 

Above the Fold

Keep the main gist of your offer (body copy, image, form, CTA, etc.) above the fold. If the CTA is below the fold and requires a scroll, conversion rates could suffer. You want to make it as easy as possible for the user to convert.

Landing Page Copy

The copy should have a header, a subheader, a few sentences that explain your offering in more detail, and then roughly 3 – 5 supporting bullets that talk about the user benefits of your offer and what the user can expect by submitting the form.

Image

Include an image on your landing page that depicts the offer. The image should be sized appropriately and placed in close proximity to the copy and the CTA making sure to add value and not distract the user from converting.

Here’s an example of the type of image we like to use. Click to see the full funnel in use.

conversion funnel

Form

Forms are an absolute must. They are the method you’ll use to capture the lead’s information in exchange for whatever your offering. Make sure that your ask matches the value of the offer. For example, if you have a form 10 questions deep for an infographic, you’ll likely scare away your user.

Insider Tip: My favorite form field is ‘Role’. Role is imperative because it essentially identifies the lead by persona. Role identification allows us to better tailor our workflows, and, not to mention, it gives us better insight into who is actually submitting our forms and engaging with our content. Oh and the bonus is, we’ve found that ‘Role’ is a light ask for the user as it doesn’t hold the same trepidation that company name or phone number can.

Needing help setting up your conversion funnels and forms might be a sign it’s time to hire a digital marketing agency. Learn about the other indicators here.

CTA 

All landing pages must have a CTA that’s clearly visible and intuitive to the user as to what they’re getting and what step to do next. 

Truthfully, the above just scratches the surface on the information available on landing pages and best practices. Here is an awesome infographic by Unbouncedescribing additional elements of a landing page if you want to learn more. 

Thank You Page

Some conversion funnel implementations don’t use a ‘Thank You Page’ (TYP), but we are big fans. In short, a TYP is just that- a page thanking the now lead for submitting their information via the form to obtain whatever it was you were offering. The TYP also hosts an actual link to the file, guide, case study, etc. 

If you’re peeking ahead and seeing that we deploy a follow-up email that also contains the asset link and thinking TYPs are pointless, they aren’t! TYPs have an important job and here are a few highlights on what they bring to your conversion funnel:

  • Trust: For some leads, submitting information via the form in hopes of obtaining an asset can feel a little uncomfortable. They are likely wondering if they’ll actually get the asset, will they start getting spammed and harassed, etc. TYPs are a chance to build trust with your lead by showing them you’ll give them what you promised and you’ll do it fast. 

Learn more about lead follow up strategies here.

  • Conversion: TYPs have prime real estate for additional CTAs. Make sure the CTAs are relevant and helpful in aiding in the next step of the buyer’s journey. Also, insider tip: Make sure the CTAs are not interfering with the user clicking on the asset to download it. It can go from helpful to intrusive quickly.
  • Brand & Site Exploration: Unlike landing pages, TYPs have a full navigation menu and can incorporate links to the company’s social media pages as well. It’s a chance for the lead to explore more on their own.
  • Tracking: Without getting too technical for the sake of this post, the TYP is a perfect place to fire your conversion pixel for tracking. Why? Because in order for the TYP to render, the form submission must be completed. You get the lead’s info, they get the asset. Bam. Conversion.

Follow-Up Email

Follow-up emails consist of a direct link to the piece of content (or whatever the CTA promised) and then an additional CTA to interact with your brand an additional way like a newsletter sign up or to check out your blog.

The emails are pretty simple, but we send them for a few reasons. 

  • User Experience: For example, if your offer is a download of a white paper, how convenient for the lead is it to have the white paper sent to their inbox vs needing to download it and save it right away? 
  • Conversion: It opens the door of communication with the lead via email and provides them with more ways to convert and interact with your brand right from their inbox. 
  • Lead Nurturing: Simple follow up emails can be a great segway into lead nurturing as the lead will have already received their first email from you. It seems more natural after sending the high-value first email to continue a cadence.

Key Takeaways

In summary, now that you know about the elements of a conversion funnel, here are a few reminders to take with you if you put the elements above into practice.

SEO. SEO. SEO.

All conversion funnel elements must be optimized for SEO. Think images, landing pages, meta descriptions, URLs, etc. All of it. 

Optimize. Rinse. Repeat.

Nothing in marketing is set it and forget it, including conversion funnels. Let the numbers be your optimization compass. They’ll point you to where you need to focus your attention first.

Marketing is for Humans.

When in doubt, always remember you’re content was created for humans and so were your conversion funnels. Where is your eye naturally drawn? Can you understand what you’re offering quickly and easily? A little humanity gut check can go a long way.

5 Types of Digital Marketing Audits: Must-ask questions to get your audit underway

When it comes to your digital marketing program (or at times, lack thereof) conducting a digital audit can be both eye-opening and exciting. Yes, we said exciting! From your website to your content to your tech stack, audits examine it all. The digital marketing audit is your ticket to finding out the state of the state and where the opportunity is for you to make a quick splash on your modern marketing and sales program. 

So, if you think you could be squeezing more results out of your current marketing plan or are feeling a little in the dark about your tech stack, then this one’s for you. Here are the 5 types of digital marketing audits Lake One utilizes, along with some of the top probing questions we ask to kick off the process.

digital marketing audits

1. Google Analytics Audit

The primary purpose of a Google Analytics Audit is to walk-through your site’s tracking implementation and setup. It goes beyond just paid media although that does play a part. From conversion to clicks to time spent on your site, here are a few questions to ask yourself to get you started in the direction.

Questions to ask:

  1. What are you currently tracking? Are you tracking everything you need to be?
  2. Is the data you are collecting valid? Can you trust it and make decisions off of it?
  3. What are the holes? What would you like to be tracking that you aren’t?
  4. Does anything need to be fixed? Is tracking broken?
  5. Can reporting and/or tracking be consolidated to make the process cleaner?
types of marketing audits

2. Website Audit

The fact that you are reading this blog post is a strong indicator that you realize how important your website is, but in case you don’t, we’ll say it: your company’s website is uber important. A website should attract your potential customers and empower them with information, aide in their buyer’s journey, and most importantly, provide opportunities for conversion. Design is critical as well, but great sites contain more substance beyond aesthetics. 

At Lake One, we like to review websites for four main areas.

start digital marketing

Performance

Performance can mean can quite a few things but in a nutshell, this section means, “Does your website pass the blink test?” Not familiar with the blink test? Simply put, are you able to determine within five seconds the purpose of the site, digest some content, and know what steps to take next as a user. 

Questions to ask:

  1. Is the main value proposition clear? 
  2. Is the main navigation menu clear and accessible?
  3. Is there a clear conversion path? Do the conversion paths flow through the buyer’s journey from awareness through to decision?
  4. Are there relevant resources for web visitors? Are they accessible?
  5. Do users know what steps to take next?

Content & SEO Audit

Now we start getting into the nitty-gritty, the ‘substance’ that I was referencing earlier. 

Content

When reviewing a website for content, it should be two-fold with both online and offline content. Online content encompasses all of the posts, downloadables, etc. that are accessible by web visitors; offline encompasses all of the sales assets, one-pagers, etc. that may be archived internally.

Questions to ask:

  1. Does the site contain relevant keywords that align with a clear content & digital strategy?
  2. Is the content keyword-rich?
  3. Does the content appeal to different buyer personas?
digital marketing audits

SEO

We create content for people first and foremost. But content needs SEO love to fully reap the benefits of your hard work. SEO is an ever-present tactic we weave throughout all of our digital practices; however, at its most basic, we review from both the content and website construction itself. (Click here for info on finding the SEO keywords that will be the hardest work for you.)

Questions to ask:

  1. Do the relevant page titles, meta descriptions, URLs, etc use relevant keywords?
  2. Do the above elements follow SEO best practices for character count, structure, etc.?
  3. Are the images optimized for SEO as well?

Conversion

Websites must provide visitors with an opportunity to convert. A website that’s fully optimized for conversion goes beyond a learn more button and a contact us form. You can have all the website traffic in the world, but if the website isn’t converting, you’ve got a problem.

Questions to ask: 

  1. Are there conversion pages at various stages of the funnel?
  2. Are there any CTA opportunities being missed?
  3. Is it clear what steps a user needs to take to get that information they need to convert?

Is your website built for lead gen? Get the checklist.

3. Technical

A site audit wouldn’t be complete without reviewing the technical implementation and output of the website. Have you ever sat and waited for images to load or content to render and given up? Sure, it might have been a slow glitch in your wifi, but it might not have been. Here’s what to look for when it comes to tech.

Questions to ask:

  1. What is the site speed?
  2. Is the design responsive?
  3. Does the design render well on mobile?
  4. Are there any crawl issues?
  5. Is there a sitemap?

4. HubSpot Audit

HubSpot offers a full platform of marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM software. It’s a powerful tool that when fully utilized, can propel your sales and marketing results forward. With all that being said, we love to look under the hood and look for ways to get more out of your HubSpot subscription. We look at the following and more:

  • Landing Pages
  • Forms/Form Fields
  • Thank You Pages
  • Personas 
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
  • Nurture Sequences

When reviewing, first check if those functionalities are in use and then check performance. 

Questions to ask:

  1. How are the above elements performing? (conversion rates, submission rates, etc.)
  2. Are the nurture sequence emails targeted? What’s the enrollment criteria? Is it useful? Is someone checking those emails?

By the way, did we mention we are HubSpot Gold Partner? We just so happen to be experts in utilizing HubSpot and making it go the distance for your digital marketing program. Let’s chat.

5. Sales & Marketing Alignment Audit

We have written several pieces on the importance of Sales and Marketing alignment to achieve harmony among client-facing teams. When teams are aligned, it’s dynamite. However, when conducting the audit, think less along the lines of quick wins and more along the lines of building a strong foundation for long-term success. 

Questions to ask:

  1. Do teams have a common definition and understanding of key terms? (i.e. marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, etc.)
  2. Are teams targeting the same buyers?
  3. Are teams working towards the same goals?
  4. Are teams promoting the same products/services?
  5. Are teams creating content together?
  6. What is the lead handoff procedure?
  7. How does sales provide feedback on lead quality?
  8. Do teams have regular meetings?

For an in-depth look at the questions above, check out our B2B Smarketing Team Assessment.

Conclusion

The best way to move forward and to grow is to gain a complete understanding of where your company is at digitally. Even if you’re not looking to grow (but who isn’t?) no matter where you are at with your marketing, everyone can benefit from a digital marketing audit.

B2B Sales Enablement: What it is and the Role Marketing Plays in Making it Happen

We often discuss the age-old battle that can go down between sales and marketing. The tale of two disparate teams. Well in case you didn’t know, now it’s all about alignment. And… enablement.

Sales enablement according to HubSpot, is the technology, processes, and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity. And brace yourself for this one: marketing plays, or should play, a key role in the sales enablement process for B2B companies.

Whether the above sentence has you ready to fall out of your chair or stand up and clap, read on. We’ll cover why sales enablement should matter to marketers and their role in B2B sales enablement execution.

B2B Sales Enablement

Why Sales Enablement Should Matter to Marketers

Today’s modern buyers are different from buyers of old. The sales process is heavily led by the buyers and dictated by the market. Who specializes in the buyer’s journey and converting leads to customers alongside sales? Marketing.

A Seismic article quoted Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, as saying the following on an episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast, “If you’re in B2B marketing today and you’re not thinking every day about sales, what the pipeline looks like, or how close the organization is to hitting the number, then you’re not nearly as integrated in strategy – let alone tactics or activities – as you should be.” Yaaaasss. 💯

We created a guide to make sales and marketing alignment easier. Click here to get it.

This quote really says it all. If the company isn’t making money, more than just the sales team will be in hot water. The above just drives home the fact that strategy, goals, alignment, and yes sales, should be driving teams company-wide.

Successful sales are everybody’s business, but marketing has the skill set to enable sales to be successful and propel growth.

Marketing’s Role in Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is really less about sales and more about serving the buyer through the buyer’s journey. It results in an empowered sales team that sells at a higher velocity which ultimately equals happier customers.

B2B Sales Enablement

With that being said, there are several ways marketing can move the needle and enable sales.

Lead Qualification

Reporting needs vary from company to company, but one constant is the need to qualify leads. Every B2B company has to have some type of lead qualification process. Marketing’s role falls under the Sales and Marketing SLA, but more specifically, the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) process. [Read more about SLAs here.]

At a high level, MQLs are leads that are ready to be qualified by the sales team. Once the criteria are set and agreed upon, marketing can help with the implementation and qualification process. When marketing does some of the qualification and heavy lifting up front (digitally of course) it ensures sales are talking to leads that are ready to be talked to. It’s a win for everybody including the buyer.

Lead Scoring is a way to put your qualification process into action. Download our guide to learn more.

Content

A major component of sales enablement is arming the sales team with information they can use when selling. Don’t let your brain pigeonhole you into a sales deck. Information can range from internal best practices to customer-facing sales sheets. According to the TOPO blog, regardless of the form the information takes, it needs to be easy to consume and reusable across the sales organization.

Content Audit

Speaking of easy to use, have we mentioned content audits? Content audits at Lake One are a living breathing workbook that houses all of the client’s content (both internal and external facing). The workbook also notes what part of the buyer’s journey that piece of content serves, the location of the document, the persona, if it is a fit for a workflow, etc.

The best part of the document, though, is the collaboration tab where sales can add content ideas. Think repeat buyer questions, a need for a case study, and more. Marketing can pull directly from the tab to help fill the content calendar.

Email Templates & Automated Sequences

Marketing teams should be pros at nurture sequences (if they’re not, contact us) and pros at moving buyers through the buyer’s journey from a lead to an MQL.

That precise expertise applies to the email template and automated sequences of sales enablement.

How do those differ from marketing based workflows? The email templates and automated sequences can be used pre-marketing qualified lead state or even as a way to qualify MQLs to a sales qualified lead.

Despite the differences, the same basics of sending personalized tailored emails to the buyer still apply. Marketing can leverage their knowledge of lead engagement and automation to enable the sales team.

New call-to-action

Key Takeaways

  • A successful sales team should be everyone’s business
  • Sales enablement is really less about sales and more about serving the buyer through the buyer’s journey which leads to an empowered sales team selling at a higher velocity.
  • Marketing contributes to sales enablement in the following ways:
    • The definition and implementation of marketing qualified leads.
    • The creation of content that supports sales and in turn, the buyers.
    • The creation and implementation of email templates and sequences.

B2B Smarketing Check: How aligned are your sales and marketing teams?

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

— James Cash Penney, founder, JC Penney

Sales and marketing misalignment can lead to a domino effect of problems such as internal tension, inability to achieve goals, and even revenue loss. Yikes.

But in order to grow and move forward, it’s crucial to assess and understand where you’re at currently with your smarketing efforts. How aligned are your sales and marketing teams?

B2B Smarketing

Here are 8 must-ask questions to understanding your company’s B2B smarketing state of the state.

Interested in some mind-blowing sales and marketing alignment stats? Check out this post.

B2B Smarketing Question #1: Are Teams Speaking the Same Language?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the first areas for assessment is verbiage and definitions. Communication is key but can be extremely difficult if teams aren’t speaking the same language or starting from some place of commonality.

Questions to ask:

  • Do your teams have a common definition and understanding for the following terms?
    • Marketing Qualified Lead
    • Sales Qualified Lead
    • Disqualified Leads
    • Lead Status
    • Contact Lifecycle Stages
    • Deal Stages
    • Traffic Sources (direct, referral, search, etc..)

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the sales and marketing alignment terms, but it’s a start. At a minimum, it should get you analyzing the common ground (or lack thereof) between the two teams when it comes to defining the sales and marketing process.

B2B Smarketing Question #2: Are Teams Targeting the Same Buyers?

We have stressed time and time again the importance of buyer personas. Buyer personas (in conjunction with research) should drive your strategy and be another common denominator among your sales and marketing teams and really, the company as a whole.

Questions to ask:

  • Are buyer personas defined?
  • Did both teams have influence in their creation?
  • Are the personas still relevant or do they need to be updated?

B2B Smarketing Question #3: Are Teams Working Towards the Same Goals?

Sales and marketing can be impactful independently, but joined together and working towards the same goal? Teams will achieve much more.

Nothing sets you on the fast-track to success like SMART goals.

Questions to ask:

  • Do the teams separately have SMART goals?
  • Are the goals well-known among the two teams and agreed upon?
  • Are the goals measured and tracked?

In need of a SMART goal refresh? Then this worksheet is for you.

B2B Smarketing Question #4: Are Teams Promoting the Same Products/Services?

Not all products and services are created equal. Through defining your buyer personas or crafting your smart goals, you likely surfaced key areas of focus whether it be new product offerings, key industries, revenue generation, etc.

For example, if demos have been unsuccessful but consults are effective, marketing likely shouldn’t be pushing demos as their bottom of the funnel offer in the nurture sequences.

Questions to ask:

  • Is sales aware of the products/services that marketing is promoting and vice versa?
  • Are both teams in agreement on the best direction?

B2B Smarketing Question #5: Are Teams Creating Content Together?

Although content creation doesn’t necessarily fall under the job descriptions of the sales team, sales should have an influence in content topic selection. Why? Because they are the front lines and literally the voice of the customer inside the company. Pairing sales’ insight with marketing’s keyword research skills is a great start to creating valuable content for your buyers.

Insider tip: We like to take it one step further and create what we call a content audit. It’s a living document that houses links to all of the content created and breaks it down by buyer persona and stage of the buyer’s journey. There’s also a tab for content requests that’s a direct line into marketing’s content topic queue. Here are some additional smarketing best practices to help.

Questions to ask:

  • What processes currently drive content topic selection?
  • Does sales approve?
  • Is there a way for sales to communicate content requests to marketing?
  • Does marketing have an audit document or something like it?

B2B Smarketing Question #6: What is Marketing’s Lead Handoff Procedure?

Marketing curates leads through inbound or paid media and then at some agreed upon point, the leads need to be passed to sales to be contacted and qualified. There are a few ways to accomplish the handoff. Our favorite is using marketing automation software (HubSpot) to do the heavy lifting. However, software aside, aligned smarketing teams should be able to answer the questions below.

Questions to ask:

  • At what point in the process does marketing handoff a lead to sales? What triggers it?
  • How is sales notified of the lead?
  • What is the follow-up expectation from sales? (i.e. how many days do they have before they make contact, how are they contacting the lead, etc.)

B2B Smarketing Question #7: How Does Sales Provide Feedback on Lead Quality?

In order for marketing to continue to deliver the sales team quality leads, there needs to be a feedback loop. Sales needs to communicate through lead status- the quality of the lead. This ties back all the way up to the first question about definitions.

Questions to ask:

  • How does sales communicate a rejected lead? (marketing automation software or otherwise?)
  • Does sales have a way to communicate why leads were rejected? (Poor timing, bad contact information, no budget, etc.)
  • What does marketing do with the rejected leads? Where are the leads at now?

B2B Smarketing Question #8: Do Teams Have Regular Meetings?

Actually meeting in person, having conversations, and building rapport are critical to sales and marketing alignment success. It’s so much easier to work as a team when you have a strong foundation to work from.

So how do you build rapport? Meetings. But let’s be clear, quality of meetings should be prioritized over quantity. Nothing disengages teams like pointless meetings.

Questions to ask:

  • Do teams have monthly and/or quarterly meetings?
  • Do teams have a way to easily communicate outside of meetings? (Like Slack or Skype)

The trick to these meetings are to make them engaging, yet structured. Here’s an article with some great tips for doing just that.

B2B Sales & Marketing Alignment

B2B Smarketing Key Takeaway: Communication is a Must

Do the questions above have your head spinning or wondering where to even start to begin to achieving sales and marketing harmony?

Start with communication. If there is one commonality that leads to the improvement of sales and marketing alignment, it’s communication. It fuels defining the terminology, the buyer personas, content creation, and the entire smarketing process. Whether facilitated through technology or happening in regular scheduled meetings, it’s critical.

Need a little help with your sales and marketing alignment? You’re in luck because that’s our specialty. Contact us here.