Fuel Your Startup Success: 6 Benefits of Marketing Automation

It’s nearly impossible to talk about marketing strategy today without discussing the benefits of marketing automation and the important role it can play in your startup organization. HubSpot said it best and said it simply: Marketing automation is all about using software to automate marketing activities. 

So, why does that matter? Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have unlimited time or resources to spend on repetitive tasks. Enter, marketing automation. A tool that can automate social media posting, ad campaigns, email marketing, and more, all while providing a personalized experience for customers. But that’s just the start. In this post, we’ll cover 6 benefits of marketing automation that will help fuel your startup success: 

  1. Time Savings 
  2. Lead Nurturing 
  3. Scalability 
  4. Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams 
  5. Higher Conversion and Close Rates 
  6. Reporting 
benefits of marketing automation

Time Savings 

Workflow Automation 

As a startup, you could likely benefit from a tool that allows you and your team to save time, be more effective and efficient. Marketing automation can be incredibly helpful in that department. It can allow for task creation, real-time routing, and follow-up across channels. 

The creation of workflows allows startup companies to have marketing automation systems work both smarter and harder for them. For example, startups can:

  • Route internal requests 
  • Create custom tasks by sales rep
  • Set subscription types automatically 
  • Send custom ‘Thank You’ emails 
  • Set service or product interest categories

Thinking about starting to use marketing automation? Take the assessment to see if it’s right for you. Start here.

List Segmentation/Pulling 

Another benefit of marketing automation and a real timesaver is the ability to both segment and pull lists automatically. It pulls contacts that meet a certain set of criteria based on the information you have set up in your database. Whether your contact database is massive or in the building phase, automated list pulling is a must to save both time and ensure you’re tailoring your messaging to your personas.

In the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report, when asked to indicate their top three results, 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue. 

Why List Segmentation Matters in Email Marketing

Lead Nurturing 

Lead nurturing is the building of relationships with potential buyers who are not currently ready to buy but could be an ideal customer in the future. The goal of lead nurturing is to educate the prospect, build their awareness of your organization and its products or services, and build trust. 

How does marketing automation play a role here? It allows you to create lead nurturing campaigns, otherwise known as email drip campaigns. These are a series of emails spaced out over time that help buyers move from the awareness to the consideration to the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Depending on your persona’s needs and your buying cycle, what to include in your emails, how many to send, and how often, will vary. 

Related Reading: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Can Help Boost Lead Volume

A few examples of actions that can initiate a lead nurturing campaign for startups are if a lead: 

  • Attends a webinar you’re hosting 
  • Downloads one of your case studies
  • Requests more information on a specific service or product  
  • Downloads a piece of premium content like an infographic or ebook

But remember, while ‘automation’ is a large part of this, nurturing campaigns should not be something you set up and let run its course. It’s important to consistently monitor things like email open rates, marketing attribution reports, and engagement. This will allow you insight into what’s working in your workflow and what’s not and then optimize accordingly. 

Scalability

Email Marketing 

Sending one email manually is easy. Sending a couple hundred or even thousands of emails that way, a little less so. That’s where marketing automation comes in. But how do you automatically send emails at scale without losing the personalization your buyers have come to expect? That’s one of the beauties of marketing technology. It allows for that personalization without all the manual labor. A few personalized “tokens” that you could include in your emails include: 

  • Recipient name 
  • Company name
  • Role or job title 
  • The last piece of content they downloaded 
  • Recommending content related to other pieces they’ve viewed or downloaded 
  • And more! 

Pro Tip: Get creative with your personalization, because we know personalization drives more replies, but don’t overdo it. Studies have shown that once you alter 50% or more of your email marketing template, the impact on the reply rate was negligible. Don’t waste precious time and resources on over personalizing. Learn more about more B2B email best practices here.

Source: Oberlo.com

The use of email goes beyond just personalization though. Although an important piece, it’s just one of the ways you can use it. So, what other benefits of marketing automation are there when it comes to email marketing?  

  • Create and save email templates 
  • A/B test your campaigns easily 
  • Automatically segment and pull lists 
  • Schedule emails and campaigns in advance 
  • Better reporting on what’s working and what’s not 
  • Automatically follow up with your leads 

Related Reading: Email Marketing for Startups: 5 Things to Consider Before You Hit Send 

Aligned Sales & Marketing Teams

Maybe a surprising benefit of marketing automation is the ability to facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Marketing and sales teams are able to use marketing automation to move leads through their buying funnel seamlessly. By creating automatic processes, this allows marketers to bring in leads, assess their readiness to buy, and send them to a sales rep without needing to manually intervene. Here are just a few ideas of sales collaboration oriented workflows: 

  • Assigning lifecycle stages and lead statuses
  • Transitioning Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to sales
  • Closing the lead quality feedback loop
  • Assessing a lead’s readiness to speak with sales or lead scoring

Higher Conversion Rates 

Ultimately, the goal of all of this is to convert the aforementioned leads into customers. By using marketing automation, you can increase your conversion and growth rates, as it allows you to provide your subscribers with content that’s relevant to their buyer’s journey and as we know, personalizing communication and tailoring your messaging and content to your personas is key for engagement and effectiveness. 

Source: Moosend.com 


But don’t just take our word for it. We’ll let the numbers do the talking. According to recent studies, 80% of marketing automation users saw an increase in their number of leads using marketing automation software, and 77% had an increase in conversions.

Reporting 

Predictions and Decisions for the Future

How does the saying go, “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” Or something along those lines. Well, the same is true for making predictions and decisions for the future when it comes to your business. You have to know how things are currently performing before you can make informed decisions on what to do next. 

At Lake One, we’re about data first. Show us the numbers. But what does that have to do with marketing automation you ask? Well, a lot, actually. One of the benefits of marketing automation is the platform itself and the ability to create different dashboards to view the numbers and reports that matter most. 

Master your B2B website strategy. Grab the guide here.

A few examples of reports you could create for your startup include: 

  • Email campaign performance 
  • Traffic sessions 
  • Lead source 
  • Landing page performance 
  • Contact lifecycle funnel 
  • Sales pipeline 

Marketing for startups can be challenging enough without adding unnecessary tasks and time to your already full plate. So whether your startup needs to save time, nurture leads, scale email marketing efforts, align sales and marketing, increase conversion rates, create reports, or all of the above, marketing automation has you covered.

7 B2B Manufacturing Marketing Trends Driving Growth in 2020

B2B buying is growing ever more complex. From 2016 to 2018 the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision jumped from 6.8 to 8.2 contacts at a company. Today, consumer experiences continue to overlap and influence our expectations and behaviors more and more each year in our business buying experiences. For B2B manufacturers already navigating a complex marketing and sales environment, this can be challenging. As 2020 unfolds personalization and online expectations will increase. These are seven key b2b manufacturing marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2020. 

Manufacturing Marketing Trends

Account-Based Marketing

B2B manufacturers face some of the most complex buying environments. 

  • Long sales cycles
  • Growing numbers of buying roles involved
  • High-value transactions
  • Channel and distributor relationships

Traditional outbound and inbound marketing strategies can struggle to prove value and support manufacturers’ sales channels in this environment. 

Enter account-based marketing or ABM for short. HubSpot defines ABM as a focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.

Account based marketing

At its core, it turns the funnel upside down and aligns sales and marketing to hunt with spears instead of nets. Manufacturers benefit from building an account-based marketing framework by

  • Creating higher quality opportunities
  • Tightly aligning sales and marketing
  • Streamlining and often speeding up the sales cycle
  • Expanding business relationships in key accounts
  • Better measure ROI

Because ABM starts by targeting and seeking to reach only your most qualified ideal customers first, it can be resource-intensive to get a pilot going but provides long term returns. DemandBase found companies that have been using ABM for at least 1 year saw an increase in revenue of 10%, 19% of those surveyed saw revenue growth in excess of 30%. 

Account-based marketing isn’t necessarily one of the new manufacturing marketing trends, but tools and platforms are now making it easier to orchestrate and evaluate and as a result, savvy B2B manufacturers are looking at it as a potential addition to their sales and marketing programs. 

Consumer-Like Buying Experiences

More and more B2B buyers are behaving as they do in their consumer lives. Forester 2020 predictions point to 2020 as a year of change as B2B buyers continue to evolve more of their experiences to online channels. In Gartner’s B2B Buying Journey we see that sellers actually have little opportunity to influence the decisions of their potential buyers. Enter B2B e-commerce’s time in the spotlight. 

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – now there is an even faster escalation in demand for investments by manufacturers to make sure they meet changing buying preferences. Insite Software, a provider of B2B e-commerce solutions for Manufacturers notes in its parent company Episerver’s annual B2B Digital experience report that 93% of manufacturers and 95% of distributors expect more than 20% of their revenue will come from e-commerce websites they own and operate by 2025. 

Chat Bots

With a push online, creating more opportunities for real-time response to customers, and end-users will be critical. Queue the chatbots. Chatbot technology continues to advance every year enabling advanced logic capabilities that manufacturers can use to field all sorts of questions to drive sales and marketing forward. BotCore points out a handful of ways chatbots can help with fulfillment in addition to questions around inventory and delivery, chatbots can be an effective way to answer product questions or point website visitors to the product documentation to help them in their buying process. 

Marketing Automation & Personalization

Marketing automation for b2b manufacturers will continue to grow in importance as the buying journey becomes more digital. Marketing automation helps manufacturers simplify complex b2b processes while personalizing and scaling their digital marketing and sales efforts. 

Here are a few personalization examples b2b manufacturers are taking advantage of:

  • 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

The complex business processes facing many B2B manufacturers are also a challenge marketing automation platforms or MAPs are ready to tackle head-on. 

Marketing automation can drive efficiencies and allow for real-time routing, task creation, and follow-up across functions and channels. The automation we’re seeing B2B manufacturers take advantage of include:

  • 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 a sales rep for lead review
  • Automatically setting subscription types
  • Setting product interest categories or other data governance within the CRM

MarTech Assessment

Video Video Video

This is one of the manufacturing marketing trends that industrial buyers love: Video. Engineers, for example, nearly 87% report getting at least some of their work content from the video. B2B manufacturers have a ton of options when it comes to video. Brand videos, testimonials and case studies, use cases or field solutions, culture videos, demos, and more. 

An area you can expect to see video grow significantly is through 1:1 personalized video. Short videos created for a specific user. It could be a sales follow up, a quick how-to, or just a thank you. With the influx of more personalized sales and marketing experiences across the B2B manufacturing marketing ecosystem – video enables face-to-face connections that can otherwise be lost in a completely online sales experience.  

Virtual Events

This year many B2B organizations had to adjust their event strategy due to COVID-19. While not anticipated and certainly sudden, many marketing and sales professionals leaned into the pivot and are embracing the benefits afforded to virtual events. A lack of travel and time constrictions. The ability to meet with much larger audiences in discussion settings. Virtual events are here to stay and for B2B manufacturers this spells opportunity. While trade shows will inevitably return in some fashion, planning a virtual strategy for everything from recurring lunch and learns or product demos to featuring unique use cases and customer stories will only enhance the growing online buying process many B2B manufacturers see their customers adopting. 

Manufacturing Marketing Trends

Content Isn’t Optional

Creating content that answers your potential buyer’s questions early in their research process and throughout their buying journey is non-negotiable.

A survey by engineering.com found an overwhelming preference for an online search or a website blog as a primary source for finding answers to questions they have in their work. This begs the question: if your technical buyers have questions, whose content will they find, yours or your competitors?

When it comes to steady consistent lead generation for b2b manufacturers, content is front and center across all of the 2020 b2b manufacturing marketing trends.

A Roadmap to a Sure-fire B2B Sales Enablement Strategy

Implementing a B2B sales enablement strategy can align your internal teams and empower your sales personnel with the tools they need to close more deals. A solid, collaborative strategy can create more effective sales teams and stronger marketing programs. Here are the elements every leader needs to consider when developing their sales enablement strategy.

Creating a B2B Sales Enablement Strategy

What is Sales Enablement?

First, what is sales enablement? According to HubSpot, “Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.” It involves the creation, distribution, and use of marketing collateral and content within the sales process. The goal of B2B sales enablement is to collaboratively create and use marketing material that sales can use to nurture and close their deals.

Why is Sales Enablement Important

The alignment of sales and marketing is at the forefront of what makes sales enablement important. When up and running smoothly, a sales enablement strategy will create a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing teams. This facilitates a culture with an open, continual, and constructive feedback loop with the insights to spur progressive change. It also empowers both teams to create and utilize better, more effective content. Sales teams are able to utilize content in their lead nurturing that’s on brand, optimized for conversion and SEO, and written for the persona.

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Furthermore, sales and marketing alignment has concrete, real benefits. When teams are aligned, they are 67% better at closing deals and drive 209% more revenue. Read more stats on smarketing alignment here.

When sales teams are enabled with content from marketing, both teams win. According to Seismic research, enabled sales reps generate 65% more revenue. What would your company do with a 65% increase in revenue? They also see a 275% increase in conversions. And the benefits to marketing? A 350% increase in content utilization, according to the research. 

sales enablement strategy

Found on HighSpot 

How to Budget for Sales Enablement

In order to ensure you’re creating a successful B2B sales enablement strategy, you’ll want to make sure you have the budget to support it. Providing the right tools, resources, and technology to increase sales performance is a must when you’re looking for innovative ways to get ahead.

When creating your sales enablement budget, consider costs that are consistent and unavoidable, as well as costs that are unexpected or a value-add to the sales enablement efforts. Here are four core areas that will help you build the foundation of your sales enablement budget: 

  1. Fixed costs: These are your expenses that stay pretty consistent even as things change. For example, salaries for the sales team, the must-have tools and solutions, cost of training, and more. If it’s necessary for the day-to-day operations, include it as a fixed cost. 
  2. Unexpected costs: No plan is perfect, so adding a little bit of padding in your budget to account for those unexpected expenses can help lessen the blow when things pop up. For example, maybe the sales team has an urgent need for an unplanned sales meeting. There are likely costs associated with that meeting or event. 
  3. Variable costs: These differ from your fixed costs in that they might fluctuate as needs change in your business. For example, travel and associated travel expenses, professional development training, contract work, etc. These aren’t necessarily must-haves, but they can help increase sales enablement’s impact. 
  4. ROI/Measurement of Success: Here you should make a case for the investment you’re making in sales enablement. Why does sales deserve the resources you’re requesting instead of a different department? Show what you anticipate the return on investment to be. For example: If you can pull in existing reports and data to support the return of each cost, that will help when you’re building your business case.  

Once you’ve created your budget, you’ll have to make a business case for each aspect of the budget in order to get the buy-in and support you need from executives, to secure the funds and resources you’re requesting. 

Getting Sales Enablement Buy-In Across the Organization 

Even though the business case for investing in sales enablement is strong, you will undoubtedly find that there are some executives and other company decision-makers who fail to see the purpose, value, and ultimately the benefits of it. According to CIO Insights, that could be why 40% of companies don’t have a dedicated sales enablement professional or program. 

Knowing that sales enablement buy-in can sometimes be an uphill battle, how do you go about getting the support you need? 

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

Step 1: Know your Audience 

Who you’re talking to will dictate what areas of importance you should highlight. Learn what’s important to your leader or the executives you’re trying to get buy-in from. For example, when it comes to sales enablement, your CFO will want to know the potential to increase the sales reps’ contributions to revenue. A CMO will want to understand how enablement will affect and support the marketing team’s sales content creation. Your CEO might be most persuaded by improvements to profitability and retention rates. 

b2b sales enablement strategy

Identifying the key stakeholders up front and what’s most important to them will help build a stronger case for sales enablement. Each of these conversations should highlight how your b2b sales enablement strategy will improve sales productivity. 

Step 2: Let the Data Do the Talking 

Data can be a powerful tool for making a case for sales enablement. For example, take a look at the day-to-day activities of the sales team, you might find that they spend too much time creating presentations, responding to corporate emails and more. All of these things take away from the time they could and should be selling, which incurs a higher opportunity cost. 

Step 3: Show Results 

If and when sales enablement activities are established, create a regular cadence to review the results of your efforts with company leaders. This will provide insight into what activities are actually effecting change. You want to do activities that produce the desired outcomes, but that might require some trial and error to find which ones yield the best results. That’s why it’s important to monitor performance regularly and adjust accordingly. Being transparent and working together with leadership will allow you to identify what sales enablement activities are actually needed and which ones you can do without. 

Step 4: Start Small 

Getting buy-in from internal stakeholders for your sales enablement efforts can be tough if you come out of the gate full force. Especially if you go from zero to sixty with your enablement efforts. This goes back to knowing your audience. Find out what’s important to your leader and where sales can add value and start there. Once you’ve demonstrated results and built that credibility, you can make an even stronger case for expanding your sales enablement strategies. 

MarTech Assessment

At the end of the day, the goal of implementing a B2B sales enablement strategy is to empower your sales team so they can close more deals and drive more revenue and profitability for the company. By doing this you not only support your sales reps, but you create alignment between sales and marketing and everyone can work towards the ultimate goal: company success.

Best Practices for Writing B2B Sales Emails

Writing B2B sales emails is one part art, one part science, and a whole lot of patience. To get to that elusive, perfect email you have to find the blend between friendly but not over-eager, helpful but not pushy, and naturally follow up without being annoying. 

Here are our experience-based best practices based on writing a B2B sales email.

Writing B2B Sales Emails

1) Know Your Persona

A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer according to HubSpot. Almost everything you do in sales and marketing should start with your persona, and sales emails are no different. When writing a B2B sales email, consider how technical your persona is. While you know and care about how important your product is, your email recipient may not. The CTO or head of the IT department might show interest in the highly technical aspects of your product, but you might not get the CMO to read beyond line two if you start talking about phalanges and gigahertz.

Figure out who you’re addressing and build your strategy around how to solve their pains and problems with your product using their language. 

You’re generating leads, but are they ready to talk to you? Get the guide to lead scoring and learn how to determine if your leads are sales-ready.

2) Be Helpful, Not Sales-y

Which brings me to number two- be helpful. Where impulse can lead a B2C purchase, the majority of B2B searches and buying journeys are set off by a pain point. The need to improve, prevent, encourage, scale, etc. in order to do better business. We know that those B2B buyers are eager for information and resources because 92% of B2B purchases start with search.

Use that to your advantage when you write your B2B sales emails. By knowing your persona, you should have been able to uncover the pain points they experience. By knowing your product, you should be able to relay how your product solves those pains. The key, though, is providing the content, resources, and insights to do so without giving off the used car salesman vibe. If you set out to be  authentic and your intent is to be helpful (rather than desperate for a sale), you may find your emails naturally follow in tone.

3) Offer Content and Resources 

If your sales and marketing teams are aligned, fingers crossed, you have assets to include in your sales emails that provide value. In the spirit of being helpful and not sales-y, the assets I’m talking about are not about you. Yup. You heard me right. Drag all of those sales brochure PDFs on your desktop to a new folder called “for later” and bear with me. 

B2B buyers want information. They set out to gain as much knowledge as possible, map out all their options, and typically present select solutions to their teams for final buy-in: the buyer’s journey. This all starts with knowledge. Your job is to provide that to them, via resources, to make their research process easier. As you move to conclude your follow-up process, you can include those product-specific brochures and sell sheets.

4) Create Personalization and Authenticity

Personalization in a B2B email can improve click-through rate by as much as 14% and conversion rates by 10%. It’s important to know that personalization is more than just a name. It’s mentioning a connection, noting something in common, building a bit of rapport. Doing so builds trust, authenticity, and credibility. 

Here are some ways to create personalization in your emails: 

  • Company name 
  • Noting mutual connections
  • Remembering and excluding information/resources they already found on their own
  • Tailoring content to the specific persona’s needs 
  • Including personalization tokens in the subject line
  • Sending by timezone
  • Acknowledging seasonality 

Your goal here is to identify yourself as a real human (even if you’re sending automated emails) and create a connection.

5) Add a CTA

A CTA, or call-to-action, is a way to encourage your recipient to take a specific next step. Adding one to your email can be in the form of a button or simply in hyperlinked text, but including one is a must.  Do not, however, go overboard in the ‘helpful’ department here. Try to limit the actions you’re requesting to one thing – two tops. 

You can, however, include the same CTA more than once in the same email. Having only one requested action, potentially reiterated, keeps the focus where you want it to be in order to increase your conversion rates. 

Writing B2B Tech Sales Emails

6) Include a Thoughtful Subject Line

The biggest factor in whether an email gets opened or not is the subject line. There are some fantastic recommendations for creating engaging subject lines here. In short, don’t make it about you: make it about them. Find a way to include personalization tokens, like name or company, or even pull out some of those even more personal touches if you’re mentioning them in your email.

Most importantly, be sure to test. If you’re using a CRM like HubSpot, it’s easy to run A/B tests on subject lines. (More on that here.) If you aren’t using a CRM, create a simple spreadsheet and run your own tests. Record what’s working and what’s not, and continually build on your success. 

7) Create Templates 

Creating templates for your B2B sales emails will save you time. A lot of time. And also a lot of energy and brainpower. Imagine being able to copy and paste rather than writing fresh emails multiple times a day. Doing so can help eliminate errors and typos as well.

Additionally, having templates aids in your ability to track and monitor your success rates. Does name dropping a mutual connection work better than asking for just thirty minutes of their time immediately? (I’m guessing it might). The tests you can run are endless, but you won’t be able to effectively measure what’s the most successful if you start from scratch every single time. 

Another benefit to templates is that you can use them for multiple people in your organization. If you do run those tests and find something to be highly effective, you can then get everybody into that sweet spot of selling. This also creates brand cohesion, a collective strategy, and a unified voice within your department.

8) Follow up

How many times do you follow up with your sales prospects currently? Once? Twice? Maybe three times? What if I said five times the charm? According to HubSpot, 80% of sales require five follow-ups. Starting to see how important those templates are now? 

You can read more about follow up strategies here, but the most important part I want to highlight is that you are following up. And that you’re doing it more than once. 

Related reading: 3 Lead follow up processes that will turn off your inbound leads

9) Use a CRM

Using a CRM, like HubSpot, will make your life 1,000 times easier. If you use a CRM to create your CTAs, you can track them and A/B test them easily. The same is also true for your templates and your subject lines. These little time-savers add up quickly to allow you to work more efficiently.

A CRM will also give you the ability to automate your email sends and follow-ups using those templates we just talked about. Once an email is sent, you can designate follow-ups to occur based on timing, user actions, or even user inactions. Doing so increases your win rates and reduces your workload. Find out if the HubSpot CRM is right for you here.

B2B tech sales email automation

Even if you’re not testing or automating your emails, a CRM is still beneficial because it helps you keep track of your contacts and interactions. You can assign contacts to a company, easily monitor when or if you follow-ups with somebody, and categorize your efforts into deal stages such as won, lost, bad timing, etc. to keep your efforts organized. 

Lead Scoring

Writing B2B sales emails really boils down to one thing: providing value. The meat of your email should be helpful, specific to your persona, and direct focus to one particular call-to-action. Your subject line should be catchy and your content personalized. Using a CRM aids in tracking and creates efficiencies, such as automation, that will generate more success. 

How to Master B2B Website Strategy and Drive Growth

The website plays one of the most pivotal roles in business-to-business marketing for technology companies and manufacturing businesses. Forrester Research found 74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase offline. With the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision growing every year and the journey becoming ever more complex – the B2B website job is heavy.

master b2b website strategy

The b2b website is the doorway between your prospects, your brand, and a potential sales opportunity. How do modern brands juggle all these priorities? With a B2B website design strategy focused on your buyers. Here’s how.

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Difference between B2B & B2C 

Understanding the distinction between B2B and B2C web strategy starts with acknowledging the substantial differences in the types of transactions.

What Could Professional Services Marketing Learn from Product Marketing?

When marketing a product, people typically talk about FABs (features, advantages, and benefits). This technique is referred to as FAB selling. It’s a widely used and accepted method within sales and typically very effective when the product lives up to the FABs. But what does that have to do with professional services marketing? Well, a lot actually. Just because professional services “product” is an intangible one, doesn’t mean there aren’t still features, advantages, and benefits to showcase. While different approaches, if we take what we know from product marketing and apply it to professional services marketing, we could learn a thing or two.

Here’s what professional services marketing could learn from product marketing:

professional services marketing

No MPGs or RPMs but there are FABs

You already know that professional services marketing and product marketing require two different approaches. There’s no argument there. Marketing professional services isn’t like marketing a car, for example. You can’t just list off the bells and whistles. If you, your team, and your service are the “product,” you’re selling something much different. You’re selling an experience, something that isn’t necessarily tangible. Maybe you’re a law firm or an accounting firm or a surveying company, or {insert whichever professional services industry you’re in}. The point is, you can talk about what services you offer and your capabilities (features), how you’re different from competitors and what problem you solve for your customers (advantages) and ultimately, what’s in it for them and what value do you provide (benefits).

marketing professional services

Product Marketing Insights for Professional Services

Credibility

When it comes to credibility, products have the advantage of customers being able to physically try it out or use it. These products have been tested and inspected. If someone doesn’t like a product, they can {usually} return it. That’s not the case with services. So what can you do? When someone is searching for professional services, they want to work with a team that knows what they’re talking about. Most people want to work with a company that has experience and success stories to back it up. Without that experience, it can be tough to gain the credibility you need to build that trust with your buyers. Adding case studies and customer testimonials on your website to highlight your expertise and success stories will increase your credibility. If you’ve been in business for a while, be sure to call that out, too.

Returnability

As mentioned above, you can’t usually return a service. It’s a finite thing. Once you’ve used the service or started the process, you can’t return that time spent. With products, there’s almost always an ability to return if you’re not satisfied with your purchase. Of course, there are caveats to this, but in general, buying a product typically comes with a short window of time to get your money back if product realities fall short of expectations. Since services don’t have that option, make sure you are targeting the right audience, vetting buyers before you commit to working with them, and of course, provide top-notch service to customers. This can reduce or eliminate buyers wanting to “return” your service.

marketing professional services

Tangibility 

The tangibles of a professional services company aren’t tangible at all. Those “tangibles” are usually things like experience, expertise, efficiency, and a proven track record of success. Services aren’t like products. You can’t hold them in your hands. You don’t usually get to test drive services. How do you overcome the fact that there are no tangibles? By ensuring your messaging and marketing about your services are effective, standout and that you tell your story and why buyers should choose you. 

Scalability 

When you create a product and perfect that process, you can usually take it and mass-produce it. You’re able to scale the production. This can allow for cost savings and a higher volume of available inventory. As we mentioned above, having a process in place for your service offering is about as close to scalability as you will get. With services, you, your people, and your talents are the “product,” so it can be a little harder to scale these operations. But, it can be done. Especially when you have a tried and true process for doing your work. Scaling professional services slowly and with a calculated approach can ensure every experience can be customized to the client while still representing the company. There’s flexibility in professional services marketing that you don’t necessarily have in product marketing.

Ownability 

When you buy a product, you own it. It’s yours or your company’s. You can usually transfer that ownership. Going back to the car example, someone can buy a car, drive that car for a while and then later sell that car to someone else. You can’t, however, go to a tax professional, have your taxes done, and then later sell that appointment or tax prep to someone else. But just as people need cars to drive, people need professional services. Showcase the value of their purchase and deliver on it. Capitalize on the fact that you’re selling a great experience and make that experience worthwhile for buyers.

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The Professional Services Marketing Mix: 7 P’s 

Finally, when thinking about your professional services marketing, don’t forget about the extra P’s. Marketing 101 tells us that there are 4 P’s when it comes to the marketing mix that relates to products. They are product, price, place, and promotion. In the case of professional services marketing, however, there are three more P’s that are added: people, process, and physical existence. 

People: Services are inseparable from the person or people providing it, which is why this is such a defining factor in the service delivery process. You and your team are key to making your service stand out and delivering on what your buyers want or need.

Process: It’s hard to scale something that isn’t a product, that’s where process comes in. Process is the closest thing to scalability that professional services can offer. Having a service delivery process in place ensures that the same standards of service are repeatedly delivered to customers. You might call it a playbook or a business blueprint. Whatever your company calls it, make sure it exists and that it’s a well-oiled machine.

Physical Evidence: There are rarely tangibles in an intangible professional services business. So how do you take nothing and make it something that customers can see and try to make it more real for them? Think about the marketing materials you send out, the resources you provide on your site and the website itself. Investing in a quality website that showcases who you are and what you’re about, can help customers visualize you. It can lend to credibility, professionalism and much more. 

Related Reading: 5 Enviable B2B Websites and Why We Love Them 

While professional services marketing and product marketing have their differences, there’s an opportunity to learn something from each. They both have their challenges, their pros and cons, and both require skilled professionals to market them successfully. Knowing the differences between the types of marketing and not applying a one-size-fits-all approach can ensure you’re creating the proper strategy out of the gate and positioning yourself strong when it comes to marketing your professional services.

How to Marketing Qualify Your Manufacturing Leads

Whether your manufacturing digital leads are feast or famine, how do you know which leads are a good fit? How is the sales team determining which leads they should talk to and which ones are in need of nurturing by marketing because they are aren’t quite sales-ready? In other terms, how are they being qualified? If you find yourself asking these questions, you might need some help determining a marketing qualified lead. 

Often referred to as an MQL, a marketing qualified lead is a lead that is considered more likely to become a customer compared to other leads. These leads have shown an interest in buying. They are open to the idea of a sale and have engaged with you and your business by taking some sort of action. Marketing efforts are typically what bring the leads in, but it’s what the lead does next that prompts them to become an MQL. 

qualify manufacturing leads

Define Your MQL Criteria  

Before you can begin to qualify your manufacturing leads, sales and marketing need to come together and not only define what an MQL is but agree on that definition. What are the characteristics and engagements that make up a good lead for you and your sales team? At Lake One, we lovingly refer to this as your lead fit to win criteria. It includes both lead requirements and lead engagements.

Related Reading: Lead Generation for Manufacturers: 9 Strategies to Crush 2020

But okay, where do you start? Here are the top areas for consideration when it comes to defining your MQL criteria.

qualify manufacturing leads

Review existing opportunities and customers: Who is your team talking to right now? Which leads have turned into customers and what actions did they take prior to inking a deal? You’ll likely uncover similarities in demographic data, such as industry, geo, company size, or job title, along with similarities in engagement. 

Engagement can be the content offers downloaded, the frequency of web visits or maybe even specific page views. 

Examples of MQL Actions

  • Requests a quote
  • Requests a product catalog
  • Attends a webinar
  • Downloads an ebook
  • Engages with your social
  • Opens a marketing email (or two)
  • Subscribes to your newsletter
  • Visits your website and/or visits key pages
  • Requests more information or asks to be contacted 

Talk to Sales: Find out what a qualified lead means to sales. They are not only key drivers in moving leads from marketing qualified to sales qualified and beyond, they know what they need and are a great resource. For example, is a lead worthless without a phone number? Or does sales need to be connected to a certain role within a company to increase the likelihood of closing a deal? All of these can be factored in as MQL criteria. 

Marketing MQL

Nice to know vs Need to know: Defining MQL criteria is really finding a balance of what is ‘nice to know’ vs what is ‘need to know’. Especially when starting out, we recommend creating opportunities to collect information (like updating form fields and leveraging progressive fields if you have that accessible) while still making the MQL status obtainable by leads. You can always tighten up the fire hose. 

Review. Revise. Repeat: Like with most things in sales and marketing, you can’t just set it and forget it. We recommend revisiting your MQL definition at least on a quarterly basis as a team. If you aren’t seeing the number of MQLs that you anticipated, is it because your criteria is too narrow? Or is it a lead quality issue? MQL criteria is a great place to start.

Once you’ve defined your MQL criteria, you need a way to collect it, track it and communicate it with your sales teams. 

Cue marketing automation.

qualify manufacturing leads

Leveraging Marketing Automation Software

Determining marketing qualified leads for your manufacturing company doesn’t have to be a manual process and in fact, we recommend it’s not. Marketing automation helps with:

  • Data capture at the time of form fill
  • Contact data storage
  • Housing the MQL criteria infrastructure
  • Notifying sales when a lead becomes an MQL
  • Closing the feedback loop

Here are some of our favorite marketing automation tools to get you started.

Out of all that is listed above, we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t discuss the importance of notifying sales and closing the feedback loop. When a lead is hot, it’s hot and sales needs to be notified in real-time and on the contrary, if a lead isn’t so hot, marketing needs to know that too. Marketing automation software helps facilitate communication through notifications and custom properties.

It’s All About Alignment

Marketing qualified leads are really just a piece of the big picture of sales and marketing alignment. If you know anything about Lake One, you know we’re major proponents of alignment and defining what a marketing qualified lead is for your manufacturing company is a critical step to getting both teams on the same page and funneling quality leads to sales.

MarTech Assessment

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 implement 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 businesses 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 as 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