The Importance of High-Quality Leads

High-quality leads are crucial to increasing sales growth, which means successful marketers must know how to attract this type of lead through their lead generation strategies and decision-enabling content. 

Why is lead generation so important? In today’s digital-first environment, B2B buyers prefer spending more time researching products online and less time speaking with salespeople, which means that they rely more heavily on content to make purchasing decisions. And this isn’t changing anytime soon—only 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales in the future.

Plus, buyers want to make purchasing decisions based on up-to-date information. One survey reports that 47% of executives recommend that B2B vendors use more data and research to support their decision-enabling content.

For any company to make a lasting impression on prospects in this environment, high-quality decision-enabling content is essential to capturing leads and nurturing them toward making a purchase. Next, we’ll discuss how to create decision-enabling content to accomplish these goals.

Creating Decision-Enabling Content

Decision-enabling content takes two forms: demand generation and lead generation. These two content types work together to form the basis of your digital marketing campaigns. Generally speaking, demand gen sparks a user’s interest, and lead gen makes that interest more concrete.

Both types of content require in-depth research presented in an engaging style, but each type is designed to appeal to buyers at different phases of their purchasing journey. Below, we’ll discuss the differences between each type of content, and why they’re both important to increasing your company’s sales growth rate.

Demand Gen Content

Demand generation content is the first impression your brand will make on new prospects. Its main function is to increase brand awareness, spark interest, and drive users toward sites where they can find out more. 

With these goals in mind, demand gen content is designed to grab readers’ attention as they research a topic related to your company and its products or services. So, demand gen content must be useful, fresh, and tailored to the needs of your target market at that moment.

Here are some examples of content that falls into this category:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Checklists 
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

With these relatively short forms of content, marketers can introduce a useful idea to the reader quickly and engagingly, thus proving their company’s value and piquing the reader’s interest in a short time. The goal is to engage readers enough that they are interested in reading your lead gen content, which brings us to our next section.

Lead Gen Content

After your demand gen efforts have generated interest among potential customers, your lead generation content steps in to seal the deal.

The goal of lead gen content is to capture leads’ contact information for outbound nurturing. This means that lead gen content must be seen as highly valuable, to the point that users are willing to share their contact information to access it.

This is no small feat—many users are protective of their personal information and wary of irrelevant marketing messages clogging their inboxes. With this in mind, it is crucial that lead gen content not only appears useful, but that it delivers on its promise of providing fresh, interesting, and useful information as well. 

Here are some examples of lead gen content:

  • White papers
  • Maturity models
  • Webinars
  • Solution guides

These types of content are more in-depth than your demand gen content, providing more well-researched and curated decision-enabling information to establish your value to your target market.

Together, these two types of decision-enabling content will draw in more users and generate more high-quality leads to pass along to your sales team. By creating content that is uniquely useful to your target market, you can demonstrate your value to them and encourage them to consider working with you sooner rather than later.

Next Steps

In this blog, we’ve explained why lead generation is key to increasing sales growth, why high-quality leads are crucial to that process, and how to generate high-quality leads through decision-enabling content. We clarified the difference between demand gen and lead gen content and explained why each of these types of content is essential to any marketing campaign. 

With this foundation of knowledge, you can increase the number of high-quality leads you generate, which will increase your company’s sales growth rates as well.

Any questions or comments? Click here to schedule a call

To read more about the impact of high-quality leads on sales growth rates, download this white paper

How to Win Over Millennial Buyers

Millennials: A Brief Overview

Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today. To successfully market to this generation of B2B buyers, we have to get to know them.

Like any generation, they have their own specific attributes that distinguish them from earlier cohorts. For example, younger millennials were the first to grow up with access to the internet. Additionally, scarce job opportunities during the Great Recession negatively impacted millennials’ career trajectories overall. On average, they are more educated, slower to get married, and slower to form their own households compared to previous generations. 

In the past, the word “millennial” has been used to refer to any young person. But as the oldest millennials turn 40 this year, Generation Z has replaced them as the youngest cohort in the workforce. Millennials have more experience now—they are increasingly responsible for high-level decision-making in the workplace. With this in mind, it’s time to adjust your marketing tactics to suit millennials’ preferences if you haven’t already.

Millennial Buyers’ Preferences By The Numbers

Most millennial buyers don’t want to talk on the phone. Your sales call will probably be ignored, but don’t take it personally—voice calls are simply not millennials’ preferred method of communication. Remember, they grew up with the internet and they’re used to communicating through messaging apps.

One survey reports that 73.4% of young US consumers would keep their messaging app over their phone app on their smartphone if they had to choose. Another survey reports that 69% of millennial buyers prefer sales outreach via messaging apps/social media, and 52% prefer outreach over text. The lowest-ranked outreach option? Sales calls.

For millennial buyers, the connectivity of the digital era is the foundation of virtually everything they do. According to one survey, 61% of their purchasing decisions are informed by user reviews. The same survey also reported the top resources for buyers, which included review sites, web search, and demos/trials, in that order.

These surveys provide numerical proof for the reality we intuitively understand—millennial buyers want convenience and personalization from their buying experiences, just like B2C. The convergence between B2C and B2B practices is referred to as B2P (business to person) marketing. The B2P paradigm acknowledges that buyers are individuals who bring their experiences and preferences to work with them. To successfully reach millennial buyers, marketers must address this new reality. 

How to Connect With Millennials

To market products to millennials, you have to connect with them on their terms. The old B2B marketing tactics—like sales calls and mass emails—are ineffective at reaching this tech-savvy cohort. 

The statistics we provided above give you a good idea of how to start building a marketing strategy to reach millennials. Use social media to connect authentically with your buyers. If you haven’t already, start prioritizing digital messaging over phone calls. Include relevant user reviews in your communications with potential buyers.

Crucially, make sure anything you send your customers—whether it’s an email, a message, or anything else—is tailored to their individual needs. 63% of millennial buyers report that a strong knowledge of their industry was a key factor differentiating the winning vendor from the competition.

From beginning to end, a streamlined buying experience is essential to winning millennial buyers. This is only becoming more relevant as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home, buyers can directly compare the ease of their B2C buying experience with the long, often convoluted process of B2B purchasing. To maximize your appeal to buyers—especially millennial buyers—you must streamline this journey however you can.

These tips are just one part of a successful marketing strategy in today’s world.

The Role of Content in the Buyer’s Journey

Buyers Aren’t Just Buying Your Product

When buyers purchase solutions for their companies’ problems, they know that they’re not just buying a product — they are also buying the company offering the product. If they don’t feel comfortable with the company, they’re not going to buy the product — it’s as simple as that.

In the past, salespeople could effectively build their company’s reputation with clients through conversations over the phone or at in-person events, like trade shows and conferences. But this is becoming more difficult—buyers are speaking with company representatives much later in the process. On average, today’s B2B buyers are over 70% of the way through the decision-making process before engaging with a sales representative.

This means that the majority of buyers’ perceptions of your company rests on what they can find online. As buyers scroll through the content you’ve posted, they get a sense of your company’s values and what you can provide for them. This is a key step in the buying process, and it is up to you to design the content experience that will draw buyers in and demonstrate your company’s value. 

The Role of Content in the Buyer’s Journey

Successful B2B marketers know they must design their content experience with the buyer’s journey in mind. However, as the following infographic from Gartner demonstrates, the buyer’s journey is not a straight line 

B2B-buying-journey

As you can see, buyers take many twists and turns before arriving at their final decision. This makes intuitive sense — buyers want to make sure that they’ve thoroughly considered every option before committing to one product. 

As a marketer, your job is to simplify this journey. You want to make it as straightforward as possible for your prospects to find your company, read your content, and meet with your salespeople. This involves creating the buyer’s content experience with sales in mind

Strategies for Architecting the Buyer’s Content Experience

As you design your buyer’s content experience, keep in mind that buyers need to be convinced to purchase on both a logical and an intuitive level. Not only do buyers need to hear the rational reasons to purchase your product, but they also need to believe in your company on a deeper level.

This is a lot for your content to accomplish, and it requires a well-thought-out content experience. You should start by aligning your objectives with your buyers’ objectives throughout their journey. After all, you both want the same thing — the right solution to the buyer’s problem.

To start, 71.7% of buyers begin their journey by searching online for solutions. During this phase, you should make it as easy as possible for buyers to access your Demand Generation content, which is content that increases brand awareness and drives buyers to your website. Make sure there are as few barriers to your Demand Gen content as possible so buyers can use that information in the exploratory phases of their journey. 

As buyers begin to narrow down their options, they want more highly specialized content that is relevant to their needs. At this stage, you should provide buyers with Lead Generation content, a type of content that is valuable enough for a prospective client to fill out a contact information form to access it. This high-quality content will establish your company as a thought leader in the industry, and strengthen your reputation with potential buyers.

The Creative Content River™

Now that you’ve architected your buyer’s content experience, it’s time to actually produce the content you need to reach buyers. Instead of doing it all in-house, you can easily fast-track your company’s growth by outsourcing content production through SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River™.

Generating compelling content in-house is an expensive, fixed-cost endeavor that drains your resources each year. But the Creative Content River™ provides you with all the content you need, for less than half of what it would cost to do in-house. A flexible, scalable subscription to the Creative Content River™ gives you the freedom to focus on the big picture, while still receiving the high-quality content you need to reach today’s buyers through your Demand Gen and Lead Gen campaigns.

For more information about what the Creative Content River™ can do for your marketing efforts, download this white paper

The Reality of a Buyer’s Decision-Making Process

The buyer’s decision-making process is less straightforward than you might expect. Fortunately, high-quality decision-enabling content can help streamline the process.

Business Decision-Making: How Rational Is it?

When it comes to making business decisions, individuals like to think of themselves as rational thinkers motivated entirely by logic and reason. In order to make the best possible business decisions, it makes sense that B2B buyers want to rely on proven facts and objective information.

However, the reality of decision-making is much more subjective. Buyers may not want to admit it, but their decisions are motivated at the subconscious level by factors that aren’t always rational.

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman gives us a framework to understand this process. Kahneman distinguishes between two modes of thinking: System 1, which concerns our fast, knee-jerk reaction to stimuli, and System 2, which is more deliberate and analytical. System 1 refers to the things that come to us effortlessly and without much thought, like the answer to a simple math equation — 2+2, for example. System 2, on the other hand, concerns conscious, effortful thought processes that come into play in more complex situations.

With this knowledge, you might think that System 2 is the primary system at work when individuals are making business decisions. However, the reality is more complicated than that. While rational considerations are undoubtedly important in the decision-making process, System 1 still plays an influential role. 

If you’re only appealing to consumers’ rational considerations, you’re missing a relevant part of the decision-making process. To truly reach buyers, you have to cut through the noise and establish your company as a trustworthy source of information, which is effective on both a subconscious and a rational level. But how do you do this?

Awareness Is Half the Battle

Your prospective clients may not even be aware of the problem they need to address, or they might not be aware of how big that problem is. Some marketers make the mistake of thinking their prospects have a full and accurate understanding of their own businesses — but that’s often not the case.

This represents another complication in the decision-making process. If prospects aren’t aware they have a problem to solve, they won’t actively seek out solutions to that problem. And how do you reach prospects who aren’t searching for solutions?

To address this roadblock, marketers have to create informative content that reaches even the most skeptical of prospects. They need to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of their prospects’ world, from the issues prospects are aware of, to the ones they need help identifying. This is where creative content comes in.

The Creative Content River™: A Stream of Marketing Content
B2B buyers are looking for answers online. Before making any big decisions, buyers will thoroughly research their options — and content is a huge part of that. 75% of buyers report that the content of the vendor they chose made a significant impact on their buying decision.

The types of content B2B buyers rely on most heavily when making decisions are white papers, webinars, and case studies. To successfully generate these long-form types of content, you’ll need full-time writers and graphic designers, each putting in hours of work on a given piece.

But the bare minimum isn’t enough. To stand out amongst the deluge of content online, you have to demonstrate your in-depth understanding of the issues facing your prospects. Successful content must provide useful, relevant, and well-researched information to a given audience, or it will fail to make an impact. And to reach consumers who aren’t necessarily searching for answers, you’ll need to generate a lot of it.

This is expensive and time-consuming, to say the least. But you don’t have to devote all of your time and resources to creating high-quality content in-house — instead, you can outsource your creative content production through a subscription. 

By subscribing to the level of creative content that you need, you can increase your flexibility and expand your content output, without increasing costs. In fact, subscribing will save you 55% to 58% of the cost of full-time employees. With the cost savings, you can devote more of your resources to your company’s core functions and maximize your growth.

For more information on SOMAmetric’s Creative Content River™, download this white paper.

Reaching Key Decision Makers—B2B Email Marketing vs. Social Media Advertising

reach b2b decision makers

Despite concerns in the media over the death of email marketing, B2B email marketing continues to be the most effective strategy for reaching key decision-makers, year after year.

How Effective is B2B Email Marketing?

B2B marketing is all about reaching key decision-makers—and email marketing is the best way to do that. The goal of B2B email marketing is to provide senior executives with useful and highly relevant information, directly in their inboxes. This is a well-known and effective strategy for establishing credibility with key decision-makers.

However, each year, new media reports emerge calling for the death of email marketing. Whether the reasoning is new privacy regulations or increased use of social media, the media continues to predict the end of email marketing in the near future.

Statistically, these reports are wrong. Even with the explosion of marketing technology and tools in recent years, when it comes to reaching executives, email marketing is still the most effective strategy. In fact, according to HubSpot Research’s Global Survey, November – December 2019, 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the previous 12 months. With the ROI of email marketing increasing as well, it is clear that email marketing continues to be highly effective.

In addition, marketers themselves vouch for the effectiveness of B2B email marketing. 45% of B2B marketers agree that email marketing is the most effective digital marketing tool. Plus, in 2019, 49.5% of marketers said they planned to increase their email marketing budget. Despite what the media predicts, these statistics demonstrate that email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing tools out there.

How Effective is Social Media Advertising as an Alternative to B2B Email Marketing?

As we discussed briefly, some might consider social media advertising to be an alternative to B2B email marketing. The appeal of advertising online, in general, is understandable—it seems like a cost-effective way to reach a large number of individuals on the websites they frequently visit. However, it’s becoming clear that indiscriminately advertising on a large number of websites is an ineffective marketing strategy.

For example, in 2017, JPMorgan Chase narrowed down its advertising reach from 400,000 websites to 5,000 pre-approved websites—and saw no decrease in performance. This example demonstrates the ineffectiveness of online advertising for the sake of reaching a broad audience—this strategy doesn’t necessarily lead to increased sales. Plus, it is time-consuming to hand-select websites that are best suited for advertising.

On the other hand, many seasoned marketers emphasize the importance of social media advertising as these platforms grow in popularity—but not as an alternative to email marketing. Instead, some argue that email marketing and social media advertising should work together for the best results.

All of this is to say that social media and online advertising may be important elements of successful marketing, but they can’t replace email marketing in a business’s B2B digital marketing strategy.

Email vs. Social Media

On a number of direct comparisons, B2B email marketing comes out ahead of social media advertising in terms of effectiveness.

First, on the most basic level, more people use email than any given social media platform. Even Facebook, the most used social media platform in the world with 2.6 billion monthly active users, falls short of the world’s 3.9 billion email users. More email users mean more potential eyes on your marketing messages.

Additionally, the informality of social media is counterproductive to the relationships and credibility marketers must establish to succeed in B2B marketing. Social media platforms are simply not ideal venues for business discussions. Amongst the personal posts that dominate the most popular social media platform, Facebook, business discussions are out of place. Plus, there is a high chance that social media users will simply scroll past an unsolicited advertisement in their newsfeed—whereas email marketing targets users who have engaged with a company in the past, making them more likely to be responsive to marketing messages.

Finally, email marketing has proven its worth in terms of ROI. For every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses make $42 in return, according to the latest reports. This is a substantial ROI, especially compared to the $10.51 businesses make for every $1 spent on mobile marketing. This disparity speaks for itself—email marketing is worth the investment. 

To sum it all up, regardless of the media’s warnings about its impending doom, B2B email marketing is still the most effective strategy for reaching key decision-makers. With its high ROI, large user base, and popularity among marketers, B2B email marketing isn’t going away anytime soon.

Next Steps

SOMAmetrics designs and executes its proven 4-step high-quality lead generation programs to deliver more leads that close faster and at a higher rate for 20% of what it costs clients to produce in-house.

As a next step, download this white paper that describes the most effective way for B2B companies to generate high quality leads for their sales organization.

Then, let’s schedule a quick call to discuss how we may be able to help you build your high-quality lead generation programs.

Best Practices in B2B Email Marketing

By implementing best practices in B2B email marketing, marketers can establish trust with senior executives and increase email engagement.

What Do Senior Executives Look For in B2B Marketing Emails?

The main goal of B2B email marketing is to reach senior executives and establish credibility with them—but this is easier said than done. When it comes to email marketing, there are several different approaches marketers can take—and some approaches are better than others. Below, we will discuss the best practices in B2B email marketing.

To fully understand why some approaches are better than others, we have to first understand how senior executives read emails.

One key thing to remember about senior executives is that they have a vested interest in staying on top of trends in their given field. They need to know what their competitors are doing, what trends are emerging, and how these factors impact the status quo in a given industry. When it comes time to make important decisions, the most successful executives will draw on a wide range of sources to substantiate their decisions.

Crucially, executives report that they are willing to consider information provided by external sources, especially if it’s information that their team is not providing internally. Plus, according to a 2018 Quartz survey of executives, 78% of respondents are willing to read brand content, if it provides useful and relevant information. 

In addition, executives receive a lot of emails, and they have to stay on top of their inboxes to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. For this reason, most CEOs read every email they receive. Different executives may have different approaches to inbox management. According to Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, his approach is to read every email and choose to either “read, act, file, or delete”. This means that a B2B marketing email is likely to reach a CEO—but it must be relevant and informative to be of any use to an executive.

In sum, B2B email marketing can be an effective way to reach senior executives—especially considering the increasing engagement with emails in the past year—but it has to be done right in order to stand out amongst the deluge of emails executives receive every day. For this reason, marketers should stay up-to-date on the best practices in B2B email marketing. 

What Are the Best Practices in B2B Email Marketing?

Having established the potential for email marketing to be highly effective in reaching executives, the next step is to implement best practices in B2B email marketing to ensure that these emails will be read and considered useful.

One of the most important practices in B2B email marketing is establishing credibility. As we discussed briefly, the business hoping to establish a relationship with C-suite executives must show that they are a knowledgeable source. One method of establishing credibility is to create and publish practical primary research. Executives and other decision-makers will return to a source if they believe it will address gaps in their knowledge and bring them fresh information.

Plus, trust has become more important than ever in B2B marketing. According to IBM’s 2018 study of 13,000 C-suite executives worldwide, there has been an “ongoing and widespread erosion of customer trust, including B2B buyers… Where data alone was once an organization’s unparalleled asset, it must now factor in trust.” The top 9% of companies identified by this IBM study are able to maintain customer trust, which demonstrates its increasing importance in the best practices in B2B email marketing.

To establish trust, B2B marketers must provide concise, engaging, and highly-relevant information in their emails to executives. Senior executives are busy people—while they want to stay informed, they simply don’t have time to wade through a lengthy newsletter, especially if it’s crowded with irrelevant information. The most effective B2B emails are specific to the executive in question and pack a lot of information into a short email, with a clean and easy-to-read layout.

Beyond content, the timing of B2B email marketing also matters. At different times of day, executives prefer to consume different types of content. The best time to send an email is in the morning: according to a Quartz survey, 50% of executives read an email newsletter upon waking up. This trend is increasing over time—in 2014, only 42% of respondents to Quartz’s executive survey named email newsletters as their primary form of morning news, while in 2018 this increased to 50%.

In addition, best practices in B2B email marketing should also include a well-thought-out approach to the way emails are sent. Marketers should regularly clean out unresponsive emails from their lists in order to avoid being blacklisted as spam. Using a permission pass email is a highly effective way to do this. By sending an email asking the user to confirm whether or not they’d like to continue receiving emails, click rate and open rate will rise and marketers can confirm they are only marketing to engaged users.

Altogether, by implementing these best practices in B2B email marketing, marketers can increase their email engagement and reach senior executives more effectively than ever before.

Next Steps

SOMAmetrics designs and executes its proven 4-step high-quality lead generation programs to deliver more leads that close faster and at a higher rate for 20% of what it costs clients to produce in-house.

As a next step, download this white paper that describes the most effective way for B2B companies to generate high quality leads for their sales organization.

Then, let’s schedule a quick call to discuss how we may be able to help you build your high-quality lead generation programs.

Align Sales and Marketing for High Growth

Align sales and marketing for high growth

In the new B2B sales paradigm, marketing and sales must be numerically aligned to facilitate a high revenue growth rate. 

Too often, marketing strategies are implemented without defining the specific revenue goals they aim to achieve. Valuable time, energy, and resources are wasted when marketing is not aligned with sales—in fact, 60% of respondents to a 2020 LinkedIn survey agree that misalignment could damage financial performance

Especially as more of the buying process is completed online before sales reps get involved, misalignment could have increasingly disastrous consequences for the revenue growth of a company going forward. Fortunately, a strong alignment can help a company generate 209% more revenue from marketing

Sales and Marketing: Better Together

Sellers must be aware that 75% of sales should come from leads generated by marketing. This number makes intuitive sense—revenue-driven marketers know that the point of marketing is to generate and nurture leads that will result in sales.

With greater alignment between sales and marketing, both teams are better equipped for the sales process, which results in increased revenues. Marketing will have a greater understanding of which leads to nurture, which to pass along to sales, and which sources and content are the best for their purposes. Plus, sales will increase their understanding of each lead, which will improve sales outcomes.

Bear in mind that the journey of today’s buyer is complex—buyers are increasingly looking for sellers that will provide customized solutions for their individual needs. For this reason, it is increasingly important for sales and marketing to be in conversation with one another to establish a shared understanding of the needs of each customer.

How to Achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment

As discussed in depth in the Four Funnels Framework, all revenues start in marketing and end in sales. But the planning starts with sales. 

First, a company must define its revenue goals. From there, the company can work backward to determine how many inbound and outbound leads will be required to reach those goals. By rooting the marketing strategy in revenue outcomes, the company can align sales and marketing in pursuit of a shared goal: revenue growth. With both teams equally responsible for facilitating revenue growth, the alignment between sales and marketing increases—and so does revenue. 

It’s not enough for sales and marketing to operate in separate silos anymore—in the new B2B sales process, sales and marketing must work closely together to maximize revenue growth.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high-quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

Download the white paper that shows you how to tightly align Sales and Marketing for High Growth.

Effective Email Marketing Strategy to Reach Senior Executives

effective email marketing strategy

With well-researched, highly-relevant, and concise emails, B2B marketers can build an effective email marketing strategy that reaches senior executives.

The Senior Executive’s Dilemma 

Reaching key executives is a top priority for B2B marketers—and email marketing is the best way to do this. Email engagement increased 78% over the past year, and the ROI of email marketing is a staggering $42 for every $1 spent. This puts email marketing at the top of the B2B marketer’s toolkit as the most effective marketing strategy.

But what makes B2B email marketing effective? What differentiates the emails that senior executives find valuable, and the emails they disregard? And how can one email cut through the multitude of emails executives receive each day?

There are many different factors to consider when it comes to creating an effective email marketing strategy. First, senior executives want to find information they don’t already know in order to make informed business decisions. Plus, the decision-making process is becoming more diffuse as organizations become more complex and more decision-makers come into play. With communication technologies like Slack bringing more people into the decision-making process than ever, it becomes even more complicated. In fact, 72% of senior executives responding to a McKinsey survey agreed that bad business decisions were as frequent as or more common than good decisions. 

To make matters worse, the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. Between the fluctuating restrictions on workplaces due to COVID-19 and the economic uncertainty associated with the pandemic, executives have to make decisions quickly and efficiently to keep up with the changing world. 

With all of this in mind, today’s executives are eager to find more information quickly and seamlessly, in order to make the best possible decisions in an increasingly complicated business environment.

What are the Elements of an Effective Email Marketing Strategy?

Not all emails are created equal. There is a reason some emails are effective in reaching senior executives, and others are sent straight to the trash folder without a second glance. We’ll discuss the elements of a highly effective email marketing strategy below.

In terms of content, executives are responsive to emails that are highly relevant to their situation. As we discussed previously, executives want to know what they don’t already know. They want to keep up on industry trends and the state of the field to stay cutting-edge. Similarly, executives want to stay informed about potential threats or emerging opportunities that they didn’t foresee internally. With this in mind, a well-researched email packed with relevant information is valuable to executives.

But executives are busy people—they don’t have time to read a 10-page newsletter every day. For this reason, an effective email marketing strategy includes concise emails, while still packing in a wealth of information that is relevant to the specific executive.

What about the layout? Executives respond to clean and simple layouts. Overwhelming them with a barrage of multimedia elements and unreadable fonts might make an email stand out—but in the wrong way. In order to get a concise and relevant message across, a clean layout is a vital element of an effective email marketing strategy.

Finally, including certain visual elements will make an email more compelling to executives. Executives are most responsive to data visualizations, photography, and charts, but relatively few have time for videos and interactive features, virtual reality, and audio clips. Once again, in this instance, simpler is better.

Best Practices in B2B Email Marketing 

With a highly-relevant, well-researched, and concise email marketing campaign ready to go, the process of implementing an effective email marketing strategy is almost complete. The next step B2B marketers have to consider is the logistics of sending these emails. B2B marketers obviously don’t want to overwhelm executives with too many emails, and run the risk of being discarded as spam. So what is the right number of emails to send to executives in a given period of time?

While the industry standard is five touches in 30 days, marketing experts advise five touches in 45 days for CEOs. This way, B2B marketers can rest assured that they are not becoming a nuisance to high-level executives while staying relevant at the same time.

In addition, 50% of executives read an email newsletter upon waking up to receive relevant news and prepare for the day. With this in mind, the best time to send an email newsletter is early in the morning, to ensure that the email is at the top of the executive’s inbox.

With these key elements of a highly effective email marketing strategy in mind, B2B marketers can cut through the noise in an executive’s inbox and deliver highly-relevant information. This will establish credibility, and lead to increased email engagement in the future.

Next Steps

SOMAmetrics designs and executes its proven 4-step high-quality lead generation programs to deliver more leads that close faster and at a higher rate for 20% of what it costs clients to produce in-house.

As a next step, download this white paper that describes the most effective way for B2B companies to generate high quality leads for their sales organization.

Then, let’s schedule a quick call to discuss how we may be able to help you build your high-quality lead generation programs.

Why B2B Marketing Fails its Mission (Part 1)

Man writing about B2B marketing

The mission of B2B Marketing is to get Sales on the short list of vendors that a prospective buyer wants to meet with. That is what happens to Top Tier Vendors—they get invited to present anytime a potential buyer has a need.

However, the vast majority of B2B companies are Tier 3 vendors—they compete with hundreds, if not thousands of other companies for the same customer base. Tier 3 Vendors never get invited, so they  must spend a great deal of time and money trying to get noticed for a deal they are unlikely to win.

The first step towards building predictable revenue and high growth is to focus on becoming a Top Tier Vendor in a clearly defined market space.

What Tier Vendor are you?

This concept of vendor tier is critical to the goal of achieving high growth rate. Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors grow at a high rate. Tier 3 vendors either miss their targets or grow at an anemic single digit level.

Tier 1 Vendors

A tier 1 vendor is the market leader in its chosen market space. It has a deep bench when it comes to products, services, and expertise that are a high fit for its customers. As a result, it is the vendor that most customers want to buy from. It also charges a premium to customers for the privilege of buying from the leader.

There are usually no more than 2-3 Tier 1 vendors for any given market.

Tier 2 Vendors

A Tier 2 vendor is a strong niche competitor, but it probably doesn’t have the same scope and scale as a Tier 1 vendor. However, within its limited scope and scale, its offer is as complete and unmatchable as a Tier 1 competitor. In addition, a Tier 2 vendor typically charges less than a Tier 1 vendor.  Therefore, for customers who don’t need the scale of Tier 1, a Tier 2 provider is a very attractive alternative.

There are usually no more than a handful of Tier 2 vendors for any given market.

Tier 3 Vendors

Any B2B company that is not a Tier 1 or Tier 2 vendor is automatically a Tier 3 vendor—meaning that it is one of many dozens, if not hundreds, of vendors attempting to serve the same customer base with an undifferentiated, “me too” offer. Tier 3 offers are typically seen as “commodity,” and price competition is the only way to win deals.

In this article, we will refer to Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors as a Top Tier Vendor.

The Real Test of Top Tier Vendor Status

Here is a simple test. If your prospective customers know who you are and what you do, then you are a Top Tier Vendor in your chosen market. On the other hand, if your target customers don’t know you, then you are a Tier 3 vendor as far as that market segment is concerned.

If we have agreed so far, then the mission of B2B Marketing should be to make a B2B company a Top Tier Vendor in its chosen market space.

What we typically see from vendors is an unfocused, highly undifferentiated message that goes something like, “Company ABC, the leading provider of XYZ, has the best…” No one really cares, so that vendor is relegated to Tier 3.

Here is a question for you, the CEO, to ask yourself:

  • Would you rather be a Tier 3 vendor competing with everyone for anyone’s business and earning hair-thin margins with anemic growth, or
  • Would your rather be a Top Tier Vendor competing with less than a handful of other vendors for the business of a market that knows and respects you and invites you to present your solution, so that you grow at a healthy rate and earn healthy margins?

The Power of the Short List in B2B Marketing

From the vendor’s perspective, getting on the short list of a buyer confers two very important advantages:

  • Since the list of competitors is short, the probability of a win is much higher, resulting in more predictable revenue and higher growth rate.
  • Since the list is short, buyer-vendor engagement level is high. Reps can more accurately gauge their chance of winning and can exit early if they don’t see a win. This further reduces wasted sales resources, which reduces cost of sales.

However, from the buyer’s perspective, getting on the short list depends on whether you as a vendor are trustworthy or not.  Can the buyer trust you to not to waste her time? To be honest with what you can and cannot do? And most importantly, is trusting you going to cost the buyer her reputation, or even her career?

If you are a Tier 3 vendor, the answer is simple. You are not trustworthy, and the only thing that would make up for the risk of working with you is rock-bottom prices.

However, if you are Top Tier Vendor, you have proven to be trustworthy, and you are invited in to present.

The purpose of  B2B Marketing is to make your company a Top Tier vendor so that you can get on the short list.

From there, you just have to prove to be the best fit for the opportunity— and that’s Sales’ job.

Read about the three hurdles in proving trustworthiness.

Why B2B Marketing Fails Its Mission (Part 2)

teamwork and trustworthiness in B2B Marketing

Proving Trustworthiness in B2B Marketing

As we mentioned in “Why B2B Marketing Fails its Mission (Part 1)”, getting on the short list requires proving to be trustworthy. To accomplish that, a vendor has to pass three critical hurdles.

Hurdle 1: This is a waste of my time.

From the buyer’s perspective, this is a given until proven wrong. B2B Marketing typically wastes a buyer’s time with self-serving information that doesn’t help the buyer. Now that B2B marketing generally has a bad reputation, it must earn the buyer’s trust by doing the opposite of what it normally does. It must focus all effort on understanding the buyer’s world (perhaps even better than the buyer) to clearly understand the relevant challenges and propose useful solutions.

The first sign that B2B Marketing is beginning to pass this hurdle is found in the first metric: email open rates. If the targeted recipients are opening at a rate of over 10%, then at least the subject line appears to have been relevant to the prospect.

Even after opening the email, the recipient still assumes that this is a waste of her time and looks for the first evidence of this fact so she can move on to something else. Gimmicky subject lines designed only to lure the prospect into opening the email are only going to make things worse.

This happens because B2B Marketers don’t conduct the necessary research to know what message they should be communicating.  They claim that they don’t have time to do proper research.

Instead, they do what’s easy for them and write about what they know—their own company and their own products.

As the result, the buyer gets this message instead of a relevant one: “Vendor ABC is the leading provider of product XYZ…”

It’s a waste of time for both buyer and vendor.

However, it doesn’t have to be.

Hurdle 2: Is this for real?

If the vendor has NOT wasted the buyer’s time and has instead described her challenges in a clear and logical way, the buyer’s curiosity should be piqued—  because where there is smoke, there is fire, right?

On the contrary, her next question is still one of skepticism—is this for real? After all, this point is normally where things start falling apart and turning into the usual self-serving, “Vendor ABC is the leading provider of product XYZ…”

In B2B Marketing, the next step in the buyer’s journey is to turn this cautious curiosity into real interest. This doesn’t happen over one email. It will take several high-quality emails that are consistently on-message to convert curiosity into real interest.

The first sign of real interest is clicking on links that take the buyer to additional relevant information.  However, more important than even click-through rates is increasingly high open rates. As a potential buyer begins to recognize the brand of this relevant information, she continues to open communication from that source, strengthening both her interest and belief that this might actually be a different kind of vendor. That’s how a vendor ends up on the short list of vendors that are invited to present.

Hurdle 3: Should I invite them in?

Some sales executives might say, “We can’t wait to get invited. We must try to get the appointment as soon as possible. Otherwise, our competitors will get in there first”.

While in B2B Marketing, you shouldn’t necessarily wait until you are invited to contact the buyer, the best time to call is when the potential buyer is already seriously thinking of inviting you. Then it becomes a simple matter of scheduling the date that works.

To pass this hurdle, B2B Marketing must make available to the potential buyer (or someone in the buyer’s  company) a sufficient amount of evidence to prove you are worth the risk of scheduling a meeting.  Sufficient amount means white papers, case studies, blogs, customer interviews, and more that consistently demonstrate the vendor’s commitment to understanding and solving the buyer’s challenge.

B2B Marketing must provide overwhelming evidence that you are a Top Tier Vendor in that segment.

Conclusion

To summarize, the job of B2B Marketing is to get your sales rep onto the short list of vendors that are invited to present to a potential buyer.

In order to achieve this, your Marketing team needs to provide overwhelming evidence that you are a Top Tier Vendor in the buyer’s sector, which is demonstrated by full understanding of the buyer’s problem and the ability to create  a viable solution as evidenced by deeply informative content found on your web pages, white papers, social media properties, case studies, customer testimonials, and more.

While Tier 3 vendors continue to put out “ABC, the leading provider of XYZ…”, you, as a Top Tier Vendor, can work on becoming a go-to-resource for your potential customers, giving you relatively easy access at low cost.

The end result is that you enjoy higher closing ratios and shorter sales cycles, which translate into a high growth rate at low sales and B2B Marketing costs— which is what we all want in the end.

Critical Success Factor 1: Quality Content

person on laptop displaying the words content

One critical success factor in the operations of B2B sales is quality content. Content is how a prospect can determine the degree to which a vendor understands her problem and can solve it. The more quality content you have, the more certain she becomes that you must be on her short list of vendors to evaluate— making it easy for your sales reps to meet with her.

Since this is a journey for the prospect to take, you must have a variety of content types designed to get her started on this journey so that she can acquire more knowledge and conviction regarding your company and continue to an actual sales engagement with one of your sales reps.

TypePurposeUsage
EmailsCreate awarenessEmail continues to be the most effective outbound communication medium. Its sole purpose is to make the prospect aware of a specific problem and what the logical next step might be towards solving that problem.  Ask the reader to take a small incremental step forward, but always have a complete means by which the prospect can get in touch with you if she is ready to engage.
White PapersEducate: the generic problem and solution.The purpose of a white paper is to enable your prospects to clearly see the type and extent of the problem(s) they have, analyze its cause(s), and provide a vendor-agnostic solution to the problem. In other words, your objective is not to sell your product or service, but to establish yourself as a credible partner that can help your prospect solve their problem(s).
WebinarsEducate: specifically about your solutionWebinars are similar in purpose to White Papers. They both require a significant amount of time and effort to produce quality content. However, webinars are typically expected to discuss your product and solution, perhaps with a demo (if appropriate).
Case StudiesProveCase studies give the prospect a practical and relatable example of how your solution solves problems such as the one the prospect is currently experiencing. The power of a case study can be diminished if you are unable to use the customer’s name (especially if it is a highly recognized company). Be sure to do what it takes to get permission to mention the client by name on at least a few of your case studies.
BlogsEducate InterestBlogs are relatively short (1-2 pages), highly targeted, and highly educated opinions. Have your internal experts write them, and then have them polished off by your editor.
Video / AnimationArouse curiosityThese are short (60-90 second) video clips that explain the main issue and the solution. The goal is to create a fun and engaging way to communicate information at a high level.
Product InformationEducateThis is where you get to talk all you want about your products and services. It is best to keep the information simple, factual, and engaging.

Read about the second Critical Success Factor, “Content Distribution”.