Trade Shows Canceled? 5 Strategies to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Active

Trade shows are an important part of generating leads and filling the sales pipeline for many. In fact, a survey conducted by IDG reported that conferences and trade shows are listed as second, behind companies websites, on effective B2B lead generation tactics. But when crisis strikes (i.e. COVID-19), many have found that attending trade shows is no longer a viable option. At a time when we’re all being asked to social-distance, the last place anyone wants to be is in an exhibit hall, surrounded by a ton of people. 

So, what do you do now? How can you pivot that budget to something else meaningful? More importantly, what strategies can you do to help fill the sales pipeline? These are all valid concerns. Things don’t have to come to a halt just because conferences have been canceled or postponed. There are still ways to get “out there”  Here are 5 B2B marketing strategies to keep your sales pipeline active: 

sales pipeline

Host a Virtual Event

With more and more people working from home and utilizing video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom, now is a great time to embrace video. Maybe you’re used to having a weekly in-person coffee or networking event, move it online. Or, see if you can get a list of the conference attendees and invite them to an event you’re hosting. You could team up with other types of vendors and see if they’d be interested in joining. Try to bring value to the business you’re trying to attract. They’ll be more inclined to attend. Almost like hosting your own mini-trade show.

Try Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-Based Marketing or ABM is one of those hot topics right now and rightfully so. 84% of businesses who used ABM, reported that the strategy offered a higher RO1 than other marketing campaigns. ABM is the strategy that directs marketing resources to target and engage a specific set of accounts or companies. Rather than casting a wide net in an attempt to generate leads and fill your sales pipeline, you’re identifying key prospects and you tailor your message accordingly. Think about it like being at a conference. If there was a specific company or person you were hoping to connect with or have visit your booth, you might seek them out. It would be very targeted and you would customize your message just for them. That’s the idea behind ABM. 

Related Reading: Marketing in a Time of Crisis Inbound and Automation Strategies

sales pipeline

Conduct a Webinar 

This is another great example of a way you can still get your brand and brains out in front of people. Typically this would be a free event to sign up for, but key phrase there is “sign up.” Make sure you have people register for your webinar so you collect their contact information and can follow up with them after. Your webinar topic should be informative and a value-add to the people attending. What it shouldn’t be is an hour of you self-promoting and making it a sales pitch but calling it a webinar. Beyond lead generation, there are other benefits of hosting a webinar. Like, 1) positioning yourself as a thought leader or expert in your field, 2) deliver value and keep your audience engaged, and 3) broaden your reach by communicating with hundreds of people at once. Now that’s something you wouldn’t be able to do at a trade show. 

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Create or Expand Your Digital Marketing Strategy

If you’re already marketing online (as you should be), great! If you’re not, now might be the time. We recommend taking a look at your strategies. With your trade show budget freed up, there might be some opportunity to:

  • Start a paid media plan or look at increasing your ad spends. Think Google, LinkedIn or Facebook. 
  • Look at putting some dollars towards paid social, “boosting” or “promoting” your existing posts.  
  • If it isn’t already, optimize your website and content to ensure you’re set up for success to be a lead machine. 
  • Invest in that CRM you’ve had your eye on or perhaps another piece of marketing technology to help you work harder and smarter to generate leads. 
  • Devote more time and resources to creating valuable content for your site.

There are lots of possibilities here to either up your digital game or to start it. Not sure where to start? Check out the Digital Kickstart Checklist on how to pivot your business to digital quickly.  

Guest Posting and Speaking 

Since time and energy aren’t going into prepping for and promoting attendance at a show, maybe those resources could be spent working to do outreach and promote or create some really great content. That way you’re getting your name out there and building authority on topics you have an expertise in. Another way to build that authority and get some “face-to-face” time with people is to be a guest speaker on a podcast or webinar. I know it’s not the same was speaking at a conference or networking in person, but it’ll allow you to keep your distance while still actively trying to fill your sales pipeline. 

sales pipeline

Please don’t let lack of trade shows make you feel like you have to make a trade-off on achieving your goals. These are just a few strategies and tactics to consider with your newfound time and additional budget. But there are plenty of opportunities out there.

Six Easy Lead Gen Tips for Sales

Batman and Robin. Tom and Jerry. Mac and Cheese. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Sales and Marketing. These are some pretty iconic duos. You don’t often get one without the other. But, it does happen. Maybe you know that firsthand. Are you a sales professional who doesn’t have marketing support, either due to budget, size, or lack of resources? Maybe you do have a marketing team but want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to help bring in new business. You have quotas to meet, after all. Or perhaps you are the marketing team and you want to give your sales team some quick tips to help further the lead gen cause. No matter where you’re joining us from, you’ve come to the right place!  We’ve got you covered, with 6 easy lead gen tips your sales team can implement today. They’re pretty painless, easy to implement, and we’re confident you’ll be able to tackle them all: 

easy lead gen tips

Use Your Social Media

Believe it or not, social media is great for more than just hilarious memes {how funny are some of those though, right?}. If you’re in sales or are a business professional of any sort, you likely have a LinkedIn account. Most salespeople do. But there’s a difference between having an account and using an account, especially for top-of-the-funnel activities. Using your social media accounts to share content and promote your company is a great and free way to direct traffic to your website, and hopefully generate some leads. While LinkedIn is likely the most useful tool, you may have a lot of connections on Facebook and Twitter that it might make sense to promote content there, too. As an added bonus, sharing on social media can help you build a loyal and engaged following. 

LinkedIn Marketing Guide

Capture those Leads 

Picture it: you shared some really great content on your social media page and it was wildly successful and drove a ton of traffic to your company’s website. Fantastic! But…. what are you doing with those visitors? How are you getting leads from your website? Is the landing page they’re hitting compelling enough to get them to stay and more importantly, take an action? Get your landing pages up to par (if they’re not already) and then make sure you have an effective and clear call-to-action. There shouldn’t be any confusion for your audience on what you want them to do and what they get in return. Remember, they want to know what’s in it for them. After all, it’s about them, not (just) you. 

Related reading: Conversion Funnel Basics

Referrals from Current Customers 

Who knows the great work you produce or service you provide better than the customers you already work with? Identify a few clients you really enjoy working with and who really enjoy working with you. Odds are they may know people who are equally as pleasant to do business with. Schedule some time with them to thank them for their business and see if they have any other contacts or companies that would be interested in the same level of service. They may offer to make an introduction or just pass along the contact information. Either way, thank them profusely and follow up with the potential lead. If you’re not comfortable just coming out and asking your current clients, start by telling them or reminding them that referrals are welcomed… even encouraged.

Tap into Your Personal Network 

This is one of those easy lead gen tips that too often gets overlooked. I get it, I used to shy away from mixing business with pleasure. Meaning, I didn’t like to tap into my personal network, aka friends, when it came to business-related stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem helping {trusted} friends who ask me for help, but for some reason, it used to be tough for me to ask the same in return. Maybe you can relate? I’m here to tell you to get out of your own way. If you have friends or acquaintances who you feel comfortable discussing business with and who are willing to help, they might just be the untapped lead machine you’ve been looking for. Let them know the type of company you’re looking for and if they can help, let them! Be sure to make it as seamless as possible for them. This shouldn’t be added stress for them. Send them an email they can just forward on to make the connection. And who knows, maybe someday you can repay the favor.

easy lead gen tips

Competitive Intel

What’s the saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” I kid, of course. Your competition shouldn’t be viewed as the enemy. Rather, they should be viewed as an inspiration and someone who pushes you to be at the top of your game. If you’re playing your cards right, they’re viewing you in the same light.

When you think of your main competitors there’s likely one or two that come to mind who are just crushing it. What are they doing that you aren’t? What’s resonating the most with their customers? You can use that information to create more effective ads and additional lead generation strategies of your own. This isn’t about just following along with what everyone else is doing. It’s about keeping up with industry trends and looking ahead to stay ahead of your competition.

Networking Works

Don’t let the word networking scare you off. I know it’s not every business professional’s favorite thing to do, but it is so important to both your company and your career. I’m not sure about you, but when I first started out in the business world, networking seemed like such a daunting task. That was until I stopped putting so much pressure on it and decided to seek out events that were both relevant and resonated. That way it was something I looked forward to going to vs. seeing it as an obligation. It’s part of my routine now and should be part of yours too, especially if you’re in a sales position. It’s a great way to generate new business or to meet people who will refer you to new business. At the very least, it’s good practice for your “elevator speech”.

These tips don’t require a lot of heavy lifting.  Whether you’re the lone salesperson with no marketing support, the salesperson who wants to help with lead gen or the marketing professional looking to help their sales team, you can get started with these six easy lead gen tips as early as today. Good luck!

Related Reading: Interested in learning more about lead gen? Check out our Lead Generation Guide: Basics of Lead Gen 

Lead Generation Guide: Basics of Lead Gen

If you’re in sales and marketing, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about lead generation. Business folks, in general, are probably at least a little familiar with it. Maybe it’s discussed in business conversations you’re apart of or you’ve seen it in sales and marketing materials. But what’s all the fuss about? What’s so important about lead generation? We’re here to break down the basics of what it is, what’s tough about it, why it’s worth it, trends to watch for and how tools can help with it all. 

HubSpot defines lead generation as the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Lead generators are things like job applications, blog posts, live events, coupons or online content. These types of things {hopefully} create interest and attract potential customers. The goal is to create unique ways to get people, the right people, interested in your business. 

Lead generation sounds simple enough, right? Well, if it were that easy, everyone would do it and do it successfully. We know it’s not that simple, so we put together a few insights into lead generation to help get you started.

Click here to have the lead generation guide emailed to you.

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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5 Enviable B2B Website Examples & Why We Love Them

Have you ever visited a website that you can’t click out of fast enough? Maybe it has a poor user experience, hard to navigate, visually unappealing, or just not worth the eyeball-time? We’ve all been there.  But why? We all know that a company’s website is its digital storefront. If that same company has an actual office, they likely, or hopefully, spent some time and money to make sure it looks nice and is a comfortable space for their employees and visiting customers. Their office should reflect their style, what they stand for, who they are, and what they do. The same could be said, if not more so, for their website. Here are some of our favorite B2B website examples.

b2b website examples

1) HubSpot 

If you’re not familiar with HubSpot, they offer a full stack of software for sales, marketing, and customer service. One of the reasons we love this site is because everything is laid out nicely, without attempting to overload the homepage with copy and leaves you unsure of where you should be looking. HubSpot displays the different subpages they’d like visitors to go to where you can find more details. We also like to say it passes the “blink test,” which means you can tell what they do or offer right away. The site is easy to navigate, not super content-heavy, and has enough icons, imagery, and multimedia to keep people engaged. 

HubSpot is an awesome b2b lead gen tool. Learn more + see our other tool recommendations here.

2) Trello

Say Hello to Trello. Trello is a project collaboration tool that uses boards, cards, and lists to help organizations or teams. What do we love about their site? You’re able to see how it works via interactive slideshows, which is a great way to keep visitors engaged while also showing how Trello works. It’s laid out in a simple way that’s easy to understand. With their minimal copy and a good balance of imagery that shows how to use Trello, they definitely make the enviable B2B website examples list.

b2b website examples

3) DropBox 

DropBox has been around for a while, but we’re liking the new direction they’re trying to take. File storage and sharing are still a big focus, but now they’re introducing features similar to that of a project collaboration tool. When you first hit the homepage, it gives you the option to sign in or download. Once you scroll down, that falls away so your screen is freed up to learn more about DropBox. They also have another cool scrolling function that keeps the content on the left locked, while the pictures corresponding to it move on the right. Most people are already familiar with DropBox, so the site is simple and provides the necessary information upfront. 

Why is SEO important to your B2B site? Read more.

4) MailChimp 

MailChimp is a marketing platform and CRM. They’re often associated with email marketing, but they’re much more than that. We like their site because it’s short and to the point. It offers the right balance of content and characters, without being distracting. The dropdowns at the top are easy to use and navigate to get you to their subpages. So while the homepage is short and sweet, the subpages provide much more in-depth information on what services they offer. The site also has fun colors without being too distracting.

b2b website

5) Asana

Last, but certainly not least, is Asana. If you aren’t currently using Asana, you’ve at least heard of it. They are everywhere these days. Asana is a work management platform that teams use to stay organized, connected, and on track with their projects and workload. Why do we enjoy their site? As always, we love a site that’s easy to use, easy on the eyes, and easy to tell what they do at first glance. As with some of the other sites we like, Asana’s site also hosts helpful videos showcasing what they do and how to use their tool. Don’t even get us started on how user-friendly the actual app is to use.

Sensing a theme with these enviable B2B website examples? All five of them make it clear what they do right away, their sites are easy to navigate, most display videos, interactive slideshows, or images of some sort, and the homepages are all are pretty content light. They save the heavy stuff for the subpages. We also love that they keep users engaged with the right aesthetics, interactive media, and different characters and icons. If you’re looking to revamp your site and need a little inspiration, we recommend you take a look at these.

Using Marketing Automation to Outsource Lead Generation

Entrepreneurs and small business leaders are the ultimate hat-wearers. Unlike bigger, resource-opportune corporations, startups are scrappy. Anybody in a sales role likely isn’t doing just sales, the marketing person might double as HR, and the CEO likely wouldn’t be able to fit all his or her descriptive titles on a business card. Resources are scarce in order to put revenue back into the company for growth. If this sounds familiar, marketing automation can likely help you free up your employees’ time and aid in your business growth while you focus on all the other things your business needs. 

Marketing Automation to Outsource Lead Generation

What is Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is the use of technology to automate elements of your sales and marketing processes. While you are always looking to get more leads, implementing marketing automation allows for lead nurturing and followup at scale. There are many aspects and angles of marketing automation, but let’s talk about email marketing. 

Marketing Automation through Workflows

One of our favorite ways to use marketing automation to outsource lead generation is through workflows. Also called drip campaigns or nurturing sequences (and likely a few other names I’m forgetting), workflows are a series of emails intended to automatically move a buyer along in the journey. 

Learn more about the basics of lead gen in our guide. Get it here.

Enrollment

So how do you kick off a workflow and start automating your lead gen? Well, there are a few ways, but they all involve the user taking a specific action- visiting a specific website page, adding items to their online shopping cart but then abandoning it, making a purchase, etc.. We typically enroll users into workflows using content or “lead magnets.” We offer up a piece of content (eBook, infographic, comparison guide, etc.) that a user fills out a form to access. We get their contact info – including email- and they get their content. (Read more about this exchange here.)

From there, we know 1) who the user is, 2) what they downloaded, and 3) have the ability to infer what they are interested in. You might even get more info from your user like when they want to purchase and the persona they identify with depending on your form. (Again, here’s more information on forms and conversion funnels if you want to know more on that subject.)

Nurturing

Once a user is enrolled, your goal is to move them along. Nurture them with useful content and keep your business top of mind. We usually do 10-15 emails in each workflow campaign starting with a friendly, “Thought you might like this thing my company has” and ending the last email with a direct, “Contact us.” Three things to keep in mind here as you build out the contents of your emails:

1) Interest 

What are you emailing your leads about? Go back up a paragraph and find the word useful before the word content. Super important distinction. The most successful workflows are ones that continue to pique the interest of the user. If they downloaded an offer on subject A, don’t email them about subject Q. Your workflows should walk your lead through a natural progression of subject matter that ultimately leads back to a bottom of funnel call to action (contact us, schedule an appointment, buy this, etc.). 

2) Timing 

The timing of your workflows can be critical, and sometimes it can be hard to get exact. Too frequent and you’ll make an enemy. Too infrequent and they could move on to other options or lose interest entirely. As a general rule, we recommend about 7-10 days between these types of email communications, gradually increasing in frequency as you start to close in on your sale.

If you captured any timeline from the user on your form, use that, too. If they indicated they are looking to buy in the next 2 months, a more aggressive workflow might be in store. 

3) Other communications

What other marketing do you have going on? Make sure your leads aren’t enrolled in more than one workflow at a time. Additionally, use this opportunity to uphold other marketing efforts and communicate consistently.

Marketing Automation through Sequences

Another way to use marketing automation to outsource lead generation is by sales sequences. Take this scenario: Somebody submits a Contact Us form on your site. You email them back. No reply. You email them again. No reply. One more time for prosperity’s sake? No reply. So much wasted time. With sales sequences, you can automate that follow up. Draft templated followup emails to leads and have them automatically sent on a predetermined schedule. 

The same is true for cold-calling/emailing. Trigger your sequences by sending the first email out to your target(s) and let automation handle the followup. You can set followup and reminder emails to go out at specified intervals automatically rather than having to remember to do it yourself. For instance, you can send a cold email out on a Monday, and have marketing automation email that Thursday, at the end of the following week, and perhaps once more a week after that. Without automation, you would need to set reminders to do this and would likely be writing every new email rather than falling back into the loving arms of a template. Check out these leads followup tips to help you get started.

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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. 

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.

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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 Marketing: What it Takes to Be Successful

In many ways, B2B marketing is harder than B2C. Personas can be harder to pin down and more difficult to reach, the final decision maker is usually somebody different than the person doing research, and the sales process is slower. So, how do you succeed at B2B marketing? Here are a few of the traits companies who execute B2B marketing well exhibit; things we’ve come to know through our own experience and through watching our B2B clients succeed. 

Successful B2B Marketing

1) B2B Marketing Takes Patience and Grit

Getting results from digital marketing takes time. You can read more about why B2B SEO specifically is a long-game here, but patience is required for more than search rankings. It can take 6-12 months to start gaining digital marketing momentum. When things do start rolling, we like to say that one month of results is an anomaly, two months is a spike, three months starts a trend.

Successful B2B marketers understand this and keep on keepin’ on. They have the grit to trudge forward when the needle is barely moving because they trust the program. The alternative is, of course, giving up, and obviously, that will not contribute to any sort of positive outcome.

successful b2b marketing

2) B2B Marketing Takes a Big Picture Mindset with a Detailed Strategy

The most successful B2B marketing programs are created with the big inbound marketing picture in mind. These companies know that successful B2B marketing starts with knowing the personas: who is researching them, who the decision makers are, and how to support both. They use that information to build out a strategy focused on content tying back to research-based keywords and phrases. They focus on the details within keyword variations and how to target them as well the intricacies that make their persona uniquely fit. Successful B2B marketing connects these dots to create a cohesive plan.

A digital agency can help accelerate your marketing success. Here’s how to pick a good one.

3) B2B Marketing Requires SMART Goals

At Lake One, we usually start our inbound client relationships with SMART goal setting and creation of an SLA- Service Level Agreement. (Read more about our SLA here.) These two items direct the focus and attention of our work. The Fieldguide, or marketing plan, we create is the map to reaching those goals.

So how does that translate into your B2B marketing? Well, even when companies have grit and a solid strategy, it’s easy to lose focus. New products launch, opportunities in the market arise, pressures from the board tighten on other elements, etc. Set SMART goals allow you to stay focused on them. After all, how will you know if your marketing is successful if you don’t have specific indicators of success?

4) B2B Marketing Takes a Focus on Strengths

Keeping your marketing in-house can be a great choice if you have the bandwidth available and/or budget to hire for specific skills. When making that choice, consider the strengths of your team and where you’d like their focus to remain. If you have a killer marketing manager who is excellent at running internal events and social media but knows nothing about SEO, it’s probably unwise to expect that person to create a keyword strategy. In that case, it might be in your best interest to hire a new member of your team or outsource the work to a digital marketing agency. 

In order to be successful with B2B marketing, know your team and company’s strengths. Focus on them and outsource or hire where you’re weak. Here are a few tips to help you identify those marketing shortcomings.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Key Takeaways

  • Successful B2B Marketing takes time. Be patient. Have grit.
  • A successful marketing plan is detailed and specific yet encompasses the wider inbound vision.
  • SMART goals are needed to measure B2B marketing success.
  • Use your team and the company’s strengths. Find and fill the marketing weaknesses.