17
Dec

On Recent Enhancements to the VisualVisitor Anonymous Website Visitor Recognition Service

VisualVisitor (http://www NULL.visualvisitor NULL.com) is a comparatively low cost option businesses can use to mine more information from visits to their websites. At $39.00 per month, the subscription should be within the reach of most businesses. Some recent enhancements to the product are worth a mention.

The visit report template now includes historical information. So sales team are not only notified about current visits, but are also presented with a summary of earlier visits, from the same internet end point, to a given website. Knowing who’s been to your website before, and the amount of time between visits can be useful information. This historical information is also valuable as a method of determining return on investment in email marketing campaigns. The VisualVisitor tagging system can be incorporated into email campaigns, to provide a richer set of data about email recipient behavior.

Customer service organizations should welcome this feature. If, for example, specific information has been exposed on a website to mentor customers about important product features, then a review of historical visit information should determine whether customers are finding the information, and using it as intended, or not. The process of modifying the way information is exposed on a website becomes much easier when data, like the VisualVisitor historical information, is available to test assumptions. Certainly any organization benefits when no more than a few modifications need be made to website branding to deliver a targeted visitor experience. Best of all, less work usually translates into lower costs.

There are many other variations on the above example likely to be attractive to businesses considering a solution like VisualVisitor. A free trial is available, which may be the “right way” to determine whether or not this service fits with the needs of your specific business.

We have clients actively using the service, and can attest to its value.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

25
Nov

Online Marketers Need to Look to Tools Like VisualVisitor to Fill the Gap Left by Changes to Google Analytics

Online marketers need to look to tools like VisualVisitor (http://www NULL.visualvisitor NULL.com) to fill the growing gap between their need to gather information from website visits and the information available to them from widely used tools like Google Analytics.

Analytics offers a tremendous amount of functionality, at absolutely no cost, to the majority of its users. But the features, increasingly, seem to be designed to support Google’s Adword product. In the summer, and early fall of 2013, there was a substantial amount of discussion, online, about whether or not the “keyword” feature of Analytics had been removed from the product. Adwords users could still access the keyword data they needed, but locating the same information in Analytics became a very difficult task. (as of November 21, 2013, “keyword” information is still available in Analytics. But the “keyword” feature is now nested within the “Acquisition” tab, and under “Advertising”)

For readers unfamiliar with Google Analytics, this “keyword” feature provides Analytics users with some highly useful information about website visitors. If a website visitor used a search engine to find the Analytics user’s website, then the search query string, meaning the actual keywords input to the search engine, were provided to the Analytics user. Armed with this keyword data, an Analytics user can accelerate the task of improving the online content of specific web pages within a website to better magnetize the right visitors.

The “keyword” feature is still included in the product. But website visitors arriving to a site as the result of “incognito browsing” (meaning browsing without cookies, history, or most other personalized indicators) no longer leave a trail of keywords. The keyword string is left encrypted, and is no longer available to the Analytics users.

But VisualVisitor, which provides users with identifying information about otherwise anonymous website visitors, can be used to fill in some of this gap. For example, by better understanding the sequence of pages visited, online marketers can determine whether content is leading visitors in the right direction, or not. VisualVisitor provides users with detailed information about specific pages visited by specific website visitors. Campaign specific tags can be implemented to provide even more information. These tags are useful to increase the value of email campaigns.

If your organization would like to implement a solution like VisualVisitor to fill in the information gap I’ve described, and would like some help, please let us know.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

23
Oct

Track Website Visits by eMail Campaign Recipients to Improve Efforts to Rank Leads by Quality

Small businesses often operate at a disadvantage when it comes to the range of options available to them for generating leads from online communications opportunities. Rarely will one of these lead generation systems include a ranking component. But a lead ranking component is an important tool sales teams can use to prioritize time to allocate the most attention to the most promising leads.

But with the latest version of VisualVisitor (http://www NULL.visualvisitor NULL.com), a truly low cost system may finally be available to these businesses to add this missing piece to the tool set of their sales teams.

I use VisualVisitor and have one client using the system, as well. The most valuable feature of this product for small businesses is the information it provides about the otherwise anonymous visits of business prospects to their websites. My client and I have successfully used the product to close sales. These sales matured faster than would have been the case without the information about website visits by these prospects to our websites.

I’m pleased to note a substantial improvement in the performance of this product. A tagging system has been added to the feature set. These tags can be used to add information about email campaigns to specific leads already identified by the VisualVisitor system.

The tagging system can add a lot of power to efforts to rank leads. For example, it certainly makes sense for sales people to spend more time on website visitors also included in email campaigns. Further, the website visitors with the highest frequency of visiting websites should receive the most attention. VisualVisitor’s new tagging system can certainly be used, successfully, to identify this specific group of website visitors.

I also like the set up of the tagging system. All of the work is performed via the VisualVisitor control panel. Therefore, there is little chance of a system malfunction as the result of the email campaign method. No need to worry about setting up tags in Constant Contact, iContact, MailChimp, or any other email campaign management tool.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

17
Jul

It Pays to Know Who Is on Your Website When Managing Large Sales

Sales with a substantial impact on business revenue usually transpire over a comparatively longer sales cycle than the typical sale. These sales also have a complex architecture, including a set of stakeholders who contribute to a purchase decision. Any changes, over time, in the performance of a prospect’s business can impact on the direction of a sales campaign. Therefore, managing these sales to a successful outcome should be a top priority for early stage technology businesses with the right products for these markets.

Much of the marketing communications burden, in 2013, for most early stage technology businesses is handled by website editorial content. Stakeholders in complex sales opportunities will want to review marketing communications materials, press releases, customer success stories and whitepapers. So they will come to your website, over time, to search for this information. If your sales teams can monitor website visits, then they may be able to use the information they capture to better position products and push sales forward.

As we have written earlier in this blog, we are very familiar with a couple of solutions for collecting this information:

  • VisualVisitor (http://www NULL.visualvisitor NULL.com)
  • and netFactor (http://www NULL.netfactor NULL.com)

Either of these tools can be used to collect information about visitors to your website, who would otherwise be anonymous.

Here’s an example of how this information can be of substantial value to your sales teams. We have been managing a sales opportunity for one of our clients. This opportunity is reaching a decision point. Our client is using the VisualVisitor solution. We noted a recent visit by our prospect to our client’s website where the landing page presented a different product than the one our prospect had expressed interest in earlier in the process.

At the same time, our prospect let us know of some substantial internal purchasing resistance on the original product. So with the information we collected from VisualVisitor we gained an advance view of where our prospect would likely take our discussion, going forward. Providing sales teams with advance warning of coming changes in purchasing discussions can help them salvage a sale where otherwise a buyer might pass. In our case we are using the information to help our prospect migrate the purchase discussion over to a product more appropriate for their changing needs.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

26
Feb

Quality Sales Leads Shorten Sales Cycles and Boost Sales Team Morale

Providing sales teams with quality leads is a method of shortening sales cycles. Sales teams attain a higher close rate and feel better about their jobs when they have high quality sales leads to work with. Capturing quality leads should be the objective of any marketing communications effort.

We used the last posts to this blog to talk broadly about search engine marketing (SEM). We included examples from our current experience working with clients. We think that successful SEM can produce quality sales leads.

SEM should be coupled with a new set of direct marketing activities. Seasoned sales personnel should be included who can extract the highest possible value from any opportunities to engage directly with prospects that emerge from these programs.

We have done a lot of work with one of our clients defining sales prospects, and the people that use this client’s products and services. We found that these people usually do not make purchase decisions. The typical sale goes like this: a sales prospect (usually a technical person) likes a product or service, and requests a purchase from decision makers. Once the product or service has been purchased, any/all opportunities to engage with the customer take place between the technical user and our client’s sales team. The decision makers are somewhere on the periphery. Opportunities to sell additional products are few and far between.

Given the prospect and customer type, we decided to drop telemarketing as a direct marketing method. We have yet to find a direct marketing method that works for this client. Our experience with discussion groups and Twitter has been less than positive. We filled the direct marketing gap with more marketing communications work.

We focused our product promotion efforts on a redesign of our client’s online brand to develop more opportunities early in the sales cycle to engage directly with decision makers. We did this work through a combination of suggested changes in web site content, a press release campaign, and an online paid advertising campaign.

Another step that we took, after we took a detailed look at what was working and not, was to re-align sales strategy from a complex sale to a transaction sale model. The early results are promising. Sales cycles are shorter, and sales opportunities are more tangible. Stay tuned on this one.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

23
Jan

Participants in Project Planning Usually Maintain a Need to Know Policy About Technology Options

Participants in technology project planning usually maintain a “need to know” policy about options. There are few enterprise class businesses, or comparably staffed organizations in either the public or not-for-profit sectors that will be satisfied, in 2013 with any technology project plan that does not include a review of at least a broad sample of acceptable solutions along with specific recommendations for actual components of a recommended system. The rationale here for larger organizations is to ensure that a best effort has been made to select the most reasonably priced solution for the requirement.

It’s worth taking a moment to provide the reader with further detail on what constitutes an “acceptable solution.” An “acceptable solution” is one that has earned a level of credibility in the market. Larger organizations usually allocate resources to benchmark their performance against peers to ensure that they are using the products that have gained market credibility in a manner that conforms with industry best practices. The objective of this benchmarking effort is to ensure that an organization’s operations are operating on par with those of its competitors. Achieving parity with one’s peers can dictate that so-called “best of breed” solutions be implemented along the same lines as is found to be the case for one’s competitors. These “best of breed” solutions are synonymous with the “acceptable solutions” to which we have alluded, above.

Vendors promoting “acceptable solutions” will generally get attention from project planning teams at enterprise businesses. Where enterprise organizations have an option of selecting the same “acceptable solutions” (for example, Microsoft SharePoint for Enterprise Document Management requirements) from any of a range of potential vendors, in our experience the same scrutiny will be applied. In other words, an enterprise will be on the lookout for a vendor that has been used by its own competitors, to ensure that a right choice is made with regards to a partner who can get a job done right on a first try.

If a coordinated marketing communications effort fails to produce useful engagement with these contacts (who should be receptive to unsolicited contact), then ISVs, systems integrators, etc. should plan on including the endorsement of well respected individuals in their marketing efforts. These well respected individuals usually carry with them a useful address book, which amounts to a highly promising contact list. The individuals on these contact lists usually participate in project plans; therefore, a marketing communications piece built around a recommendation from one or more of these well respected individuals will often deliver better results, and, therefore, should be explored.

In the next post to this blog we will look further at why it makes sense to include individuals with a track record in an industry within sales and marketing teams.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

22
Jan

Technology Project Sponsors will Often be More Receptive to Follow Up Telephone Calls

As marketing communications teams and their counterparts in sales ponder over contact lists to identify individuals likely to be receptive to telemarketing calls once promotional content has been received, we think it makes sense to include any individuals identified as sponsors of relevant (not to mention current and ongoing) technology projects.

Of course, the challenge is to verify the freshness of information on any contacts who look suitable for inclusion in this group. An individual’s past history as a technology manager, 5 years prior, provides little indication, if any, of the suitability of including the individual in the targeted group for technology that a business plans to sell today for implementation in the near future. Therefore, some initial work is required to put together a truly useful list of contacts for one’s coordinated direct marketing effort.

The initial work to which we have just alluded falls into the category of research. In our opinion, news — as current as possible — provides useful content for research efforts. Press releases, case studies, and success stories often include quotes from project sponsors. As well, industry-specific articles on technology in relevant publications often do the same. There are 2 impediments to the usefulness of the information obtained from news:

  1. Usually the news is historical, meaning that the project has been completed. Certainly this point is not an impediment for companies with products intended for implementation after a successful technology roll out, but for other companies with offers meant for inclusion in an implementation plan for technology, these names will likely be of little value
  2. The individuals named in press releases, case studies, or success stories are usually inundated with unsolicited contact after their names have been published. They are not likely to welcome receiving yet another piece of unsolicited marketing collateral.

Despite both of the above points, any individuals named in these publications can be safely assumed to play a current role as a sponsor of a relevant technology project. The task, going forward, is to create effective marketing communications content that will cut through the haze of notoriety and get some attention.

It is worth taking a moment to mention 3 other resources that can be useful as your business identifes individuals sponsoring technology projects relevant to one’s product. These methods include studying membership lists of trade associations, discussion groups on related topics, and even alumni lists from prominent educational institutions. If your business can subsidize the type of in-depth contact research activity required to collect useful information from these 3 sources, you may even get a jump on identifying promising candidates for your next critical hire.

In the next post to this blog we take a moment to explain why project sponsors will likely be more receptive to a coordinated product promotional campaign that includes editorial content and judiciously selected opportunities for direct engagement via telemarketing.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

18
Sep

Contacts Must be Regularly Removed from Enterprise IT Software Lead Lists to Maintain a Courteous Rapport with Market Place Participants

So-called opt-in email programs are frequently abused by clumsy marketing communications teams. These teams, often working on behalf of enterprise IT software ISVs, abuse the privilege of regularly communicating with specific recipients by inundating them with high frequency email messages. We don’t think this makes sense. Neither do we see how this type of activity benefits the sponsoring ISVs. In fact, we think respondents are often irritated by this type of activity, to the point of deciding to look elsewhere when purchase requirements arise.

We think it makes more sense for these marketing communications teams to periodically remove names from these lists as indication is received that recipients are, in fact, oblivious to messages. We are pleased to note that recently we did receive communications from several of these teams requesting that we reconfirm our opt-in to their email list. This type of request can prove to be a useful tool as businesses purge contact information for individuals no longer interested in product communications.

It is very important that the same attention to courteous behavior with market place participants be observed by telemarketing and teleprospecting teams. We have a standing policy that contacts who fail to respond to three attempts at contact be removed from call lists. This is not to say that we delete these names. In fact, we consider the activity of deleting contacts from lists as entirely within the power of our clients. Rather, we simply code these prospects differently to ensure that they will no longer be included in regular direct contact programs.

An added benefit of maintaining the type of cleansing program that we have just described is that the ability of communications team to properly manage time should improve, perhaps substantially. Further, resources will likely become available to properly address real opportunities as they emerge from the contacts left on these contact lists. Finally, lead generation programs can be used to identify additional contacts at important prospect opportunities to ensure that a fresh set of contacts is available for follow on intelligence gathering and lead development efforts.

In fact, messy contact lists that feature a high proportion of truly disinterested individuals are generally a waste of time that ought to be avoided by communications teams.

If your communications teams are constantly producing new campaigns for the same set of contacts, but fail to produce much engagement beyond an intitial outreach effort, you should look to reduce the size of your list by removing disinterested contacts while you lower the frequency of contact campaigns. If you understand the value of the type of regular purge activity that we have described, but haven’t the resources to manage it, you should consider working with a third party who can deliver the program for you.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. would like to be on your short list. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $3200.00 per month. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

14
Sep

Surveys Speak to the Strong Interest that Enterprises Generally Have in Establishing a Position in Comparison to Peers

As enterprises and other large organizations of users in the public and not for profit sectors evaluate internal computing policies, procedures and platforms, peer comparisons provide an important means of ascertaining the reasonableness and efficiency of these efforts. Simply consider the widespread interest of these groups in gauging the maturity of their respective computing architectures as an indicator of the importance of peer comparison. In fact, few organizations are looking to stand out from the crowd represented by their peers. Rather, most organizations need to ensure that their present realities reflect a position well within the mainstream of common approaches to computing requirements.

Enterprise IT ISVs should look to exploit this interest as they consider methods of driving engagement with market participants. Surveys constitute a powerful tool that speaks to the interest of groups of users to ascertain comparative position with regards to computing. There is nothing off topic about implementing a survey and inviting market participants to participate in it. In fact, the results gathered from a completed survey, that has been correctly designed to gather important qualifiers from prospects, can provide highly useful indication of the likelihood of a prospect developing, at some point, into a true sales lead. Therefore, we think it makes sense for a marketing function to seriously consider using a survey as a method of driving prospect engagement opportunities.

An invitation to participate in a survey can either be promoted to the public within a marketing communications program (meaning on a web page, or, where budgets will permit, even via a paid advertising campaign intended to build market awareness of a product/service/integrated solution), or presented on a case-by-case basis through an integrated direct marketing effort. The survey results should be collected. Further, the permission of participants should be solicited to share results (of course with complete assurance of anonymity for participants) with other participants. The final compilation of results will certainly provide a survey sponsor with a useful gauge of market interests in an offer, while, at the same time, provide participants with the gauge that they are looking for of how they compare to peers on the same topic.

If you are looking for a powerful method of gauging market place interest in your product/service/integrated solution for enterprise organizations, etc, you should seriously consider launching a survey effort. If you lack the internal resourced to get the job done right, you ought to engage with a third party with experience with this method.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. would like to be on your short list. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $3200.00 per month. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

7
Sep

Use Online Advertising Opportunities to Fill in Where Marketing Communications Budgets are Otherwise Limited

It makes sense for an early stage enterprise IT ISV to produce a realistic (meaning that the investment represented by the budget is truly available to be allocated, as planned) marketing budget. This budget needs to include the financing required to pay for the promotion that will need to take place to deliver an adequate volume of leads to produce the sales, which will, in turn, successfully deliver the revenue expected from the sales function.

But what if the planned budget amounts to a cash commitment beyond the reach of the business? In fact, from our experience, this situation is the norm, more often than not. We think that a combined effort that includes:

  • Online Advertising through a program like Google Adwords (http://www NULL.adwords NULL.com)
  • Web page optimization for high search engine results placements (SERPs) for useful key words
  • Social Media Presence through News Annotation and Community Building
  • Integrated Direct Marketing including eMail Blast and follow up teleprospecting calls to recipients within 72 hours of receipt of communications
  • and, finally, lead management with Salesforce and/or MS Dynamics

can be very effective and, is much more cost-effective (if not outright less expensive) than a traditional marketing communications budget process that would avail of online services like Marketo (http://www NULL.marketo NULL.com) or Hub Spot (http://www NULL.hubspot NULL.com).

We have recently spent considerable time examining developments that Google has made with their Adwords product. In fact, IMB Enterprises, Inc. has joined the Engage for Agencies Program offered by Google. We plan on achieving certification for Adwords and, subsequently, Google Analytics in the near future. The point is that we now have a better of understanding of how Adwords campaigns can be used, effectively, for complex enterprise IT software products, through a combination of a MARCOM campaign to build brand awareness and a specific, targeted campaign to build sales opportunities. The beauty of this type of a strategy is that, once active, lots and lots of data will be forthcoming that can be used for two important purposes:

  • to refine key words
  • and to establish a ratio between click ad dollars spent and useful leads

Of course, an Adwords program complete with Analytics tracking will deliver much more useful data, but for our purposes in this post, the above two points are the most value results of a carefully coordinated campaign. Any size budget (even one that amounts to less than $10.00 per day) can be exercised to test the usefulness of the program. It will certainly make sense to add dollars as realistic objectives are achieved. The big plus is that there will be no need for a large cash outlay at the start.

If you have been following our recent posts on the importance of marketing communications, and product promotion for enterprise IT software, and you have a limited budget, you ought to consider the plan we have just described. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $1250.00 per month. Please contact IMB Enterprises, Inc to learn further.. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan, which start at $1250.00 per month (3 mos minimum). You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved