Follow the Three V’s of Managing Your Engagement Opportunities

In this era of marketing accountability, industrial marketers need an effective framework to manage and measure their engagement opportunities. You can’t measure everything—and you don’t want to measure everything. You want to focus on specific measurements providing valuable insight, which in turn can help you make decisions to improve the performance of your marketing program.

measuring roi

According to Forrester Research, the hallmark of top marketing performers is their ability to generate marketing leads at the right velocity, volume, and value. These three metrics are key indicators of funnel health—and a healthy funnel generally means healthy revenue.

  • Volume is the count of engagement opportunities or deals delivered by a marketing program.
  • Value is how much an engagement opportunity is worth in terms of dollar value.
  • Velocity is the speed at which an engagement opportunity converts to a sale.

What marketers must determine is how much weight and priority to give to each of the three V’s in order to optimize your marketing efforts and maximize your return. The answer is different for every company, based on your marketing goals, the makeup of your sales force and the nature of your customers’ buying behavior.

The dream world of every marketer is that the volume and value of engagement opportunities is high and the velocity of conversion is lightning speed. However, we all work in the real world, not the dream world. Therefore you must put these three V’s in perspective, understand how they align with your goals and use them to help make marketing decisions.

Volume, value and velocity intelligence can also help you segment engagement opportunities. For example, if a marketing program produces a high volume of opportunities, chances are many of those opportunities are not yet sales ready. They should remain with marketing in a lead nurturing program until more qualified. It might make sense to assign high-value opportunities to a salesperson for one-on-one cultivation and personal attention. Handle high-velocity opportunities in whatever manner will close the sale quickly.

Volume requires ironclad processes
Volume is historically the metric that gets the most attention, deservedly or not. What sales team doesn’t want more engagement opportunities? Some marketing programs are designed to maximize the volume of engagement opportunities. The upside of this approach is that you have more potential customers to convert and more of your target audience exposed to your message, which helps increase brand awareness.

On the other hand, the greater the volume of engagement opportunities, the more you need sound lead management processes. You must be able to separate real prospects from tire-kickers, prevent good opportunities from slipping through the cracks and avoid inundating your sales team with unqualified prospects who will never convert.

Value can trump volume
A highly targeted or specialized marketing program may not deliver a high volume of engagement opportunities. It can still be a strong program because the engagement opportunities generated should have a higher conversion rate and produce a higher amount of sales.

If your company’s objective is to close bigger deals or sell highly customized products or services, you’re likely looking at implementing a program that delivers fewer, but highly motivated prospects. You’re looking at quality over quantity.

Velocity offers intelligence
Velocity—the speed at which a prospect converts to a sale—can be considered independently or in relation to volume and value. Velocity is often directly related to your customers’ buy cycle and the nature of what you are selling. A long, complex purchasing process involving multiple decision makers and a significant investment may not have much in way of velocity. But if you’re selling parts or components that the market considers a commodity, you should expect high velocity.

No matter what you are selling, if you have a hot prospect motivated to buy, treat them as a high-velocity engagement opportunity. By tracking the velocity of deals, you can gain valuable intelligence on the length of your sales cycle and how well your marketing and sales processes are performing.

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It’s the Golden Era for Webinars

This may be the golden era for webinars as a marketing tool in the industrial sector. Broadband connections are nearly ubiquitous, webinar hosting platforms offer sophisticated features enriching the webinar experience, and marketers have learned to offer relevant, educational content that technical professionals find interesting and useful.

Aerzen webinar

Here are six other reasons why webinars make such an effective marketing tool:

1. Webinars are easy for your audience
Technical professionals are already spending hours per week online for work-related purposes, so it’s easy for them to join your webinar right from their office, coffee cup or snack in hand. Plus, webinars break down geographical barriers; you can be anywhere in the world and still attend. This is especially helpful if your customers are dispersed and difficult to reach or your webinar topic has broad appeal. You can also make webinars easy by keeping them short—definitely under an hour, including Q&A time at the end. If your content is long or complex, consider creating a series of shorter webinars to make it easier for your audience.

2. Webinars generate good engagement opportunities
While webinars may be easy for your audience to attend, they also require commitment. Not just any lazy tire-kicker is going to attend your webinar. A technical professional willing to take time out of their busy day for your webinar is likely highly interested in your webinar topic and eager to learn something new. These are exactly the people you want to engage and start a relationship with. And you already have their contact information because they’ve registered.

3. Webinars let you be the expert
In a webinar, you’re educating your audience—about industry trends, novel solutions to problems, hot topics, new products or technologies—and by the nature of your position as host you’re the expert on the content. You’re in control of the message and how it’s delivered, unlike, for example, on social media where you don’t have control over comments and feedback. This makes webinars a perfect tool for helping to establish and maintain your thought leadership position on important topics.

4. Webinars let you give and get
With webinars, not only can you deliver educational content to your audience, you can capture data from your audience in return. Adding several real-time polling questions to your webinar can serve as effective transitions between topics, help involve your audience, and return to you valuable information. You can ask how technical professionals currently solve a problem you’re presenting on. Or how often they use certain types of products. Or any other multiple-choice question they can answer quickly. You can display their answers in real-time and comment on the results, making the webinar even more interactive.

5. Webinar content can be re-purposed
If this is the golden age of webinars, it’s also the golden age of content marketing. Every marketer has a mandate to get content into the hands of their target audience using multiple digital channels. Webinars can help. You can promote the content of your webinar over channels such as social media, your website, e-newsletter ads and banner ads. You can also re-purpose the webinar content into other forms: articles, white papers, infographics, videos and more. Not only do you help fulfill content marketing goals, you can maintain a consistent message across different content formats and distribution channels.

6. Webinars have a long shelf life
Webinars don’t have to be live events only. You can archive past webinars on your website for on-demand viewing by technical professionals. This gives those audience members who missed or didn’t know about the webinar an opportunity to participate. You can reasonably ask for registration information from visitors who want to view recorded webinars, resulting in additional engagement opportunities for you.

If you’d like to know how leading industrial suppliers are using webinars to build thought leadership and generate engagement opportunities, check out the schedule of upcoming webinars hosted by IHS GlobalSpec.

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Have you added webinars to your marketing mix? How have they helped generate engagement opportunities for you and your sales team? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Demand Process: Taking a Strategic Approach to Demand Generation

Most B-to-B companies focus on too many marketing tactics without taking a strategic approach to demand generation, resulting in weak performance and ROI of marketing initiatives. This is one of the key points brought up at the Industrial Marketing Digital Summit by Adam B. Needles, chief strategy officer at ANNUITAS, a B-to-B demand generation firm.

Needles quoted a Forrester Research study that reported B-to-B marketers are juggling too many tactical balls, with 75 percent of them using 15 of the 26 marketing techniques surveyed. The findings held true across the SMB segment as well as larger enterprises.

The number one pain point for these organizations is the lack of quality leads for sales. This is a problem even in organizations using marketing automation technology, because the technology itself does not solve process issues. Another problem is that content does not support the buying process, because most companies lead with what they want to sell, and not with what customers want to buy. Needles referenced another survey that found 86 percent of the unique benefits touted by vendors were not perceived as unique or having enough impact to create preference.

Need for a strategic demand generation process

To overcome these challenges, Needles offers a four-step demand generation process that is strategic and perpetual with the goal of engaging, nurturing and converting buyers, driving repeatable revenue, and maximizing customer lifetime value. The four steps are:

  1. Put the buyer at center
  2. Address gaps in the middle of the funnel
  3. Build and operationalize a demand generation process
  4. Constantly optimize

1. Put the buyer at the center. Customers are living in a different world now. Due to their online research and participation in social networks and online forums, they are more informed and have more choices than ever before in terms of products and services available to them. In short, they are in control. Marketers must adapt because the power has shifted to buyers. The sales-driven culture is gone; the buyer-driven culture is here.

Companies must now build messaging, programs and systems around the goals of educating and qualifying their prospects. They must have the right content at each stage of the buy cycle and must understand at what point a potential customer wants to interact with a sales person. That’s when a lead is sales ready—when they’re ready to talk to sales person.

2. Address gaps in the middle of the funnel. Companies may be good at building awareness and generating initial contact, but too often the prospect disappears because there are no nurturing programs to support them through their buying process.

Lead management is not a strongpoint for most B-to-B organizations and less than one-fourth has a defined lead-to-revenue process, according to Forrester. Only 5 percent claim that every prospect interaction is orchestrated.

Needles also quotes a study performed by the marketing automation firm Eloqua in which the lack of lead nurturing had a negative impact on the number of leads. It is in this stage that prospects need to be understood, scored and segmented, offered relevant content, and generally cared for (or nurtured) until they are ready for sales. It is also where you continue to ask more questions of prospects that will help you further define their needs and qualify them. Also, successful companies continue to nurture prospects who many never become sales-ready because it keeps their name top of mind for referral situations or if the prospect changes jobs.

3. Build and operationalize a demand generation process. While technology such as marketing automation can help support your demand generation process from end to end, technology in itself does not build the process. The demand generation process requires a business and cultural shift in which the sequence of engagement, nurturing and conversion of buyer demand into revenue is treated as a series of steps that can be both managed and optimized.

The demand process must be structured to support each of the three phases of engagement, nurturing and conversion. You must define rules for content marketing, prospect scoring and segmentation, lead management, team member roles, and use of technology. Most importantly, the process must be used consistently and perpetually by your organization.

4. Transform and optimize the process. Improvement of the demand generation process is not an option; it’s a necessity. You should be tracking metrics and performance at every stage of the process. Two key areas to focus on are outcomes and governance. In terms of outcomes, volume and quality of leads, conversion, ROI, and customer lifetime value should all be on your list of metrics to optimize. Governance includes overall program management, end-to-end process documentation, and incorporation of best practices.
Making demand generation a strategic process is not a simple task, but it is an essential one for B-to-B companies.

For more details and several case studies, view Needles’ presentation on demand.

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Do you have a demand generation process? How have you engaged, nurtured and converted buyers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Only Online Event Focused on Marketing in the Industrial Sector Returns June 6

Hosted by IHS GlobalSpec, the Industrial Marketing Digital Summit (IMDS) is the only online event focused on marketing in the industrial sector. This year’s event takes place on Thursday, June 6. Registration is free and you can attend from the convenience of your desk.

Industrial marketers will lead educational sessions on content marketing, lead management, digital media use in the industrial sector and more.

In addition, leading marketing experts will discuss customer relationships and demand generation.

Register today for this informative event and get the ideas and knowledge you need to deliver more effective marketing, better connect with your target audience and gain a competitive advantage in your marketplace.

Educational sessions include (view complete agenda):

Keynote: Marketing – The New Normal
Stephanie Buscemi, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, IHS

Panel: Opportunity for Growth through Efficient Lead Management
Laura Hoffman, Vice President, Global Marketing, Red Lion Controls
Greg Livingstone, Chief Marketing Officer, Fluitec International
Amy Campbell, Owner and Director of All That Happens, The Red Checker

Maximizing Thought Leadership through Online Events
Ralph Bright, Vice President, Marketing, Interpower Corporation

Winning with Customers
Keith Pigues, Dean of the School of Business at North Carolina Central University and co-author of Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B

The Digital Disruption and What it Means to You
Chris Chariton, Senior Director, Digital Media Solutions, IHS GlobalSpec

Demand Process: Taking a Strategic Approach to Demand Generation
Adam Needles, Chief Strategy Officer at ANNUITAS and author of Balancing the Demand Equation

Ten Practical Ideas for Content Marketing
Bob Russotti, Senior Director of Marketing, ANSI

Exhibitors include Annuitas, Business Marketing Association, BtoB Magazine and Exact Target.
 

Content Marketing Digital Media Events Marketing, General