12
Mar

Drip eMail Campaigns Should be Built Around a Consistent Prospect Profile

The is the second of two blog posts on what makes sense for direct marketing in 2013.

Eloqua’s drip marketing campaign service is a direct competitor to Marketo. The picture of an ideal prospect that we put together from the Eloqua campaign looks like a mid level manager at a $100 million small business and up. Neither Eloqua nor Marketo has a solution for truly small business.

The editorial content positions Eloqua as an authority on the topic of “marketing automation.” The emails focus on industry best practices. We also found some of the old “fear, felt and found” structure that big companies made use of back in the mid 1980s. The reader is advised to follow the leaders who are all adopting the type of campaign analysis that Eloqua markets.

A closer look at the reader reveals a junior professional who needs the tips an authority like Eloqua can offer. This picture is consistent across each of the email messages that we received.

What can smaller ISVs learn from the examples set by Eloqua and Marketo? As we noted in yesterday’s post, the object of both campaigns is to inform recipients about features of products. There is no effort to sell recipients anything. But each email includes a call to action, usually for a download or to sign up for an online webinar.

Therefore, smaller ISVs should implement similar methods when they design drip email marketing campaigns as their principal direct marketing effort. The objective should be to identify sales leads from dormant contacts.

For editorial content requirements, we think that ISVs should use the type of writer capable of producing blog post content to craft an original set of emails. Twenty four email messages should be satisfactory for a 6 month campaign to revive dormant leads. No more than 75 words per drip email should be required to get an effective offer in front of recipients.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

11
Mar

What Kinds of Direct Marketing Tactics Work in 2013 for ISVs?

ISVs in 2013 need to ask what works for direct marketing. Editorial content, activity updates to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, together with content annotation, are all useful methods of stimulating online visitors to engage, but telephone cold calls no longer promise the big returns of the past. What should direct marketing teams do to productively contribute to lead generation efforts?

Dormant leads are a great target market to serve with product information. As we wrote earlier this year, drip email marketing is the preferred tactic for this type of campaign. Direct marketing teams are a perfect choice to lead this effort.

We are on the lists of two of the most successful proponents of this tactic, Marketo and Eloqua.

Marketo
Marketo emails content to its targets every 7 to 10 business days. Each message includes a call to action, usually to either download a report or to register for an event. Marketo uses free offers to encourage email recipients to engage.

Themes for drip email messages are crafted to illustrate a set of problems that target audiences usually experience. Different features of Marketo’s system are designed to solve each of the common needs presented by the emails. Recipients are kept interested with a range of different topics. Content is almost never repeated, but the same system features are regularly covered each month.

The goals for engagement, for example, analyst reports, or participation in discussions on industry best practices, are strictly made up of “advertorial” content. White papers present problems common to recipients, but the solutions are specific to Marketo’s system.

The typical recipient for the email drip marketing campaign is a mid level marketing manager who reports to either a head of marketing or sales. Recipients are kept on the contact list, regardless of whether they reply to emails, or not.

We do not have any familiarity with the direct mail version of Marketo’s method. We hear that target recipients are usually senior managers.

In the next post to this blog we will look at how Eloqua puts together a drip email campaign.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

25
Jan

More of an Effort to Lead with eMail Marketing Makes Sense for Tech in 2013

As we finish this current series on our opinion of the usefulness of cold calls for sales lead development in 2013, we need to present an approach that we think has more promise, namely a planned campaign that utilizes targeted email delivery of promotional collateral. As a preface, we need to note that we’ve substantially changed our opinion on the usefulness of email marketing over the last year.

Our approach to a coordinated direct marketing campaign, which, at a right moment, will also leverage telemarketing engagement with interested prospects, implements email as the method of delivering the marketing collateral that paves the way to engagement for the prospect. Our method is designed for tech businesses with highly targeted markets, and rather far removed from the type of email campaigns (often referred to as Drip Marketing campaigns) that are currently ubiquitous.

Perhaps, in this context, our present opinion of the usefulness of email delivery for marketing communications pieces of promotional information is more consistent with our earlier view. To put it simply, lots and lots of enterprise tech buying activity is presently happening online, in the form of product research, customer ratings reviews, and even actual purchasing. Therefore, we think it makes sense for tech businesses to support the market’s interest in exploiting online resources, by communicating with potential prospects via email, at an early stage in lead development.

What we favor is an exchange of information. In other words, we design our email communication piece to solicit engagement with a prospect. We request information about something and offer some information of our own, in exchange. Of course, our intention is to establish a basis of communication with a prospect in a mutually safe space: We are not pushing, nor are we asking our recipient to buy anything. With little to lose but time, our bet is that recipients of our email communication will be more likely to share a glimpse of their specific experiences on a relevant topic, which will afford us an opportunity to send them a position paper, case study, success story, or press release.

Once the information exchange has been completed, our next piece of marketing communications collateral is sent to gauge any thoughts that our recipient may have on the information that we’ve sent to them. Of course, our inquiry also includes some candid thoughts of ours on the information that our recipient has offered to us.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

21
Jan

It Makes Sense to Revisit the Usefulness of Cold Calls in 2013

Where possible it makes more sense for technology businesses to implement what we have referred to as coordinated direct marketing campaigns than it does to merely implement unsolicited telephone calling, otherwise known as “cold calls”, as a means of breaking ground on engagement with a market sector.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. offers considerable current experience with both approaches. In our opinion, the costs associated with the amount of wasted effort that can be made on unplanned, ad hoc, “cold call” programs are prohibitive, regardless of whether the costs end up being shouldered by a third party service provider or by a technology business, itself. Of course, carefully planned campaigns that make use of cold calls may, in fact, be successful.

A number of factors, including

  • the quality of a contact list given an objective for a campaign
  • the titles and responsibilities of prospects targeted for calls
  • the visibility of a company’s brand in a chosen market
  • and, finally, the level to which the reason for a call amounts to a topic of general interest in a market

have a direct bearing on whether or not a cold calling campaign will produce useful results, or not.

Each of the above factors are much better handled within the context of a coordinated direct marketing campaign. For example, a dedicated effort can be made, in advance of actually initiating the kind of campaign that we recommend, to put together a truly useful set of names for a contact list. In fact, the marketing communications piece, itself, can provide a method for testing the usefulness of the names on the contact list. To implement this method, language should be included in the marketing communications piece that qualifies the level of involvement (if any) of specific individuals on a list with a set of targeted activities. For example, specific pieces of marketing collateral can be designed for audiences of technology users, buyers, and even sponsors (meaning stakeholders with a vested interest in ensuring that technologies successfully deliver on their promise).

Following further, it may well be that it will makes sense to provide telephone call follow up for some of the roles specified, while it may not make sense to plan on such follow up for others. Therefore, using a list carefully, and, specifically, in conjunction with a range of marketing communications options based upon role, can help, substantially to ensure that the right follow up efforts are made for the right set of contacts.

In the next post to this blog we will look further at why prospect titles should be used as an important indicator of whether or not it makes sense to follow up on marketing communications with a telephone call.

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

18
Jan

Follow On Promotional Literature Must be Designed for a Progressive Inquiry by Prospects

Now that the initial editorial content has been designed for the promotional campaign, then the task of writing the editorial content for the campaign moves to the follow up information that will be sent contacts as engagement opportunities develop. We think it makes sense for follow up information to be designed to move the interest level of the prospect further along a progressive path towards a purchase inquiry.

Let’s use our example to illustrate how this progress can work. Once again, our hypothetical product is a method of successfully collecting a very high percentage of email messages by employee, regardless of whether the email message is sent by on premise servers, private cloud servers, or public cloud servers like GMail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, etc. The prospect market for this product are businesses in heavily regulated industries, for example, oil and gas exploration, banking, etc.

The message communicated by the initial component of our promotional campaign is that the risk represented by employees sending out emails in any manner that they choose, to whomever they wish, and whenever they wish, is too great for business management to ignore. The intended audience of this first promotional piece are managers who will “feel the pain” of regulatory action. The urgency of stopping the pain represented by this risk is the likelihood that the fines that result from regulatory action may go beyond anticipated amounts, with unpredictable consequences on the overall business.

The prospect profile should dictate the topic of the next piece of information in the promotional sequence. For example, if our email management solution has been on the market for a while, then we can look at past purchase history to determine the type of prospect most likely to purchase the solution. If our research shows that most of the current customer base for our product amounts to businesses that are either too big to risk an unpredictable exposure like the fine that we have presented, or businesses that have actually had to pay a fine of this type, then it will make sense to offer prospects a case study, or white paper on the specific topic of recent past history of fines levied by relevant regulatory agencies on corporate offenders.

The likely readers of this tier II collateral should be individuals with a specific interest in learning more about the frequency of these fines, as well as about the actual magnitude of the cost of the fines. Obviously, other parties may request this information who have little or no purchase interest, but we should be on comfortable ground that most of our interest will come from the right market segment.

In the next post to this blog we will look at 5 pieces of information that should be collected from anyone interested in receiving this tier II collateral.

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

14
Jan

Marketing Communications Content Should be Used to Produce Opportunities to Directly Engage with Market Participants

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has considerable experience identifying opportunities for clients to meet with prospects who want to learn more about our clients’ products, services, or integrated solutions. Usually the type of opportunity that we produce is a meeting between a representative from our clients’ team and a prospect.

Often this type of service is called “lead generation.” However, we won’t use the term lead generation over the next series of posts to this blog. “Lead generation” is, in our opinion, a vague term that, literally, refers to an undefined process, “generation”, which somehow produces “leads”, meaning the names of contacts and prospects likely to have an interest in specific products/services/integrated solutions.

Further, the term “leads” is, itself, hard to define. For example, what does interest really mean? In fact, it is often the case that interest can arise as the result of any of a wide range of factors, not all of which will result in a purchase.

We think it is much more useful to break up the process of promoting products to attract sales prospects into a series of steps, which are each clearly defined. Once each of these steps is clear, then the method of managing these steps to ensure success should be clear, as well.

The first step in building a successful product promotional campaign is to target the marketing communications component, meaning the promotional editorial content, to the specific market segment most likely to be receptive to invitations to engage in a manner that will produce useful information. There are 3 key aspects to this first step:

  • The content must be targeted
  • A specific group of recipients, meaning a subset of the overall market, should be the intended audience
  • and, finally, the objective should be to collect preliminary information that can be used to qualify individuals and their respective organizations as to the likeliness that they will emerge as customers

It is by no means a simple matter to successfully accomplish each of these three steps. We think that the challenges that arise for clients as they realize mediocre returns from their efforts to promote their products contributes to a general skepticism about “lead generation” services.

In the next post to this blog we will talk about what we think successfully targeted product promotional content is all about.

If you are tired of mediocre results from product promotional efforts, and would welcome a fresh look at your marketing and sales plans for your products, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. We have current experience working with software products, services and integrated solutions for enterprise business markets and comparably sized organizations in the public and not-for-profit sectors. You can telephone us at +1 631-673-2929. If you prefer electronic contact, then please contact us. We are enthusiastic about opportunities to engage with businesses looking for a truly effective method of producing market interest.

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

11
Jan

Product Awareness Collateral for Channel Partners Should Include a Call to Action

There is no less a requirement for a call to action to be included in a piece of product awareness marketing collateral than is the case for any other type of promotional marketing communications. In fact, driving engagement is, perhaps, a more pressing objective for this type of marketing communications than is the case for other types of promotional material. After all, legitimate opportunities for ISV staff to engage with channel partners outside of joint sales calls are usually rare. Therefore, it makes sense to use an opportunity to present product awareness information as an occasion, as well, to schedule a follow up telephone call.

The most obvious reason for a follow up telephone call is to ensure that recipients have correctly received the intended message about a specific product, or product line. Certainly it makes sense to enlist the support of channel partner management in this effort. Specifically, efforts must be made to convince channel partner management to encourage their personnel to make themselves available for these follow up telephone calls.

We have participated in quite a number of these efforts where the management encouragement piece was missing. In each of these cases it proved to be very difficult to gain commitment from personnel to speak with us about the product awareness information that they had received. Subsequently we determined that product awareness collateral was less effective as a method of attracting the attention of sales, and maintaining it. Bottom line, a follow up telephone call can be a very powerful method of wrapping up a product introduction for channel partners.

These follow up telemarketing calls should be carefully scripted to ensure that each and every important point has been received by the individuals contacted by the telemarketing team. In fact, we think that the team of telemarketers selected for the follow up telephone call activity ought to be selected by the same marketing communications team responsible for the creation of the product awareness collateral. After all, the purpose of these calls is to ensure that each of the individuals contacted have a useful understanding of the product in question. It is important to note that a “useful” understanding is one that empowers the individual newly empowered with your information to relay the right message along to her contacts in an enterprise IT organization, or even contacts from influential line of business (LOB) units.

Keep in mind that an important objective of the entire product awareness campaign will likely be to multiply the number people broadcasting a correct message about your products, related solutions, and, of most importance, benefits.

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

4
Jan

Teleprospecting is Not to be Confused with Telemarketing

Teleprospecting services are not to be confused with telemarketing services. This is hardly the first post to this blog intended to provide readers with a look at how IMB Enterprises, Inc. implements teleprospecting services for clients. Nonetheless, as we just alluded to telemarketing services in the prior post, we thought it would be helpful to follow with a post dedicated to teleprospecting.

Usually we recommend teleprospecting services when a client needs to sample market sentiment. Market sampling is very much about collecting information from a set of telephone contacts on a formal list of topics of discussion. Therefore, teleprospecting is our preferred method of successfully delivering on a market sampling requirement. As well, clients can opt to avail of teleprospecting services from us when the objective is to collect what we refer to as “environmental detail” about sales prospects; for example, to fill out an organizational chart, or to establish the authority of contacts that appear to play a role in a decision-making process. In the same vein, we find that teleprospecting activity contributes substantially to the usefulness of market studies and product viability reports.

The approach of our personnel on this type of an assignment is more about collecting information than is the case for our telemarketing services. In fact, the scripts that we have prepared for teleprospecting assignments read very much like a reporter’s interview.

We highly recommend teleprosepecting services for so-called under the radar product marketing requirements. After all, successful management of these requirements usually requires ongoing analysis of lots of information. Teleprospecting techniques are particularly useful as a method of data collection. Ongoing activities built on these techniques can provide our clients with fresh, absolutely current information about markets under close consideration, competitors, and even candid opinions of products and plans.

We have lots of experience producing reports and opinions from the information our personnel have gathered through teleprospecting activities. As well, we have good experience designing marketing communications campaigns to create opportunities for teleprospecting activities. Finally, we welcome interest in our capabilities with regards to mentoring teleprospecting teams, and even managing outsourced teleprospecting resources.

From the above information it should be clear that we see a very close connection between teleprospecting services and requirements for market viability reports and the like. We will be happy to expand on this information upon request. Please feel free to contact us for further information. You may also telephone us at +1 631-673-2929.

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

3
Jan

Telemarketing and Teleprospecting Should be Components of a Coordinated Direct Marketing Campaign

This is the second of several posts to this blog which are intended to provide more substance to a description of IMB Enterprises, Inc. as a unique resource, capable of delivering a combination of marketing expertise (effectively a suite of tools) that can be used to craft a highly successful set of coordinated direct marketing campaigns for appropriate businesses. In this post we will present our view on why it makes sense for these campaigns to include a telemarketing and/or a teleprospecting component.

We think it makes sense to follow up marketing communications efforts with telemarketing and/or teleprospecting activity. In order for this type of activity to be effective, the marketing communications piece must provide recipients with some advance notice that telephone activity will follow. Further, the activity itself, must be undertaken while the marketing communications effort is fresh in the minds of recipients, usually no later than 3 days from verified receipt of communications.

It is very important that the personnel charged with placing calls to campaign recipients refrain from using the opportunity of the telephone call for any other purpose than to gather information. The actual specific information which ought to be gathered by these calls, in our experience, varies from client to client; therefore, we cannot be more specific than to simply refer to it as “information”. With a highly specific objective that is heavily weighted towards gathering information, rather than presenting information, we make much more use of personnel for these calls who exhibit high quality listening skills for this endeavor than might be expected. Further, it is essential that these calls be placed in an absolutely courteous manner. We instruct our representatives to always request a moment from contacted individuals. Of course, where a moment is not presently available, then an appointment needs to be made to speak at another, more convenient time.

Of course, with broad guidelines like the ones we have just provided, it makes sense to equip telemarketers with call scripts. We do not advocate requiring that telemarketers strictly follow scripts; rather, we look to work with personnel capable of adhering to the boundaries of courtesy delineated by the script, yet within their own creative presentation. Successful representatives generally exhibit an ability to ingratiate themselves with call contacts. This ability is important as, in our experience, comfortable contacts generally share more information.

We do make a heavy use of recording telephone calls. In our experience, recordings of telephone calls provide management with the information required to gauge the progress of coordinated direct marketing campaigns. It is our policy, particularly throughout the early stages of working with a new client, to share all recordings with our clients to ensure that calls are handled in an acceptable manner.

In the next post to this blog we will take a look at teleprospecting as a separate type of telephone activity with prospects.

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

2
Jan

On Using a Coordinated Direct Marketing Campaign in a Lead Generation Program for Highly Competitive Markets

IMB Enterprises, Inc. offers considerable experience producing leads from highly competitive markets. We approach our task with a set of tactics that we refer to as a coordinated direct marketing campaign. We have built our tactics, in part, on some of the work of acknowledged experts in the fields of direct marketing, product marketing, and enterprise sales. These experts include Ernan Ronan, Jeff Thull, and, with regards to competitive markets, Michael Porter.

The remainder of our tool set amounts to a gallery of our own entirely original techniques, which we developed through our work with three entrepreneurs who successfully built businesses that went public. We need to note that two of these three individuals are serial entrepreneurs with several business-building success stories. They each built multiple businesses that successfully went public. We will be happy to present more information about these three entrepreneurs, and our affiliation with each of them, upon request. Please contact us for more information.

We are happy to say that we, ourselves, have successfully managed our own business, in its present form, for over ten years. Therefore, our clients can depend upon our consultants as representatives of a successful business venture, who, as required, can provide overall business counsel, as required.

The tactics that we have developed over the years, which we have used to successfully deliver the results required by our clients, maybe, to some extent, surprising. For example, we are equally comfortable conceptualizing, designing, and, then managing marketing communications efforts (including print and/or electronic media), telemarketing and teleprospecting campaigns, and even some aspects of product marketing. These tactics can be particularly useful to early stage businesses with unique (or seemingly unique) products as well as more mature businesses looking to consolidate several marketing roles into a single resource.

As well, our team includes individuals with expertise of strategic value for growing businesses in 2013. Of particular importance, as we see it today, with specific regard to marketing communications, is an ability to combine graphic design with editorial content into a recipe that stimulates the appetite, and provokes the required interest on the part of prospects, to motivate them to reach out and engage with vendors like our clients. The members of our team possess this expertise.

In our opinion, it is by no means satisfactory for our clients to simply either over emphasize the value of a strictly graphical representation of a concept, or, conversely, to merely portray it through words alone. Rather a combination and balance is required, of graphic elements, text, and video, particularly where the competitive markets of concern are enterprise businesses.

In the next post to this blog we will discuss the second section of our gallery of tools, telemarketing and teleprospecting.

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