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Integrated marketing and sales: the road to revenue generation

Integrated marketing and sales: the road to revenue generation

Marketing and sales teams have traditionally fought different battles on different B2B battlefields, rarely analysing each others’ objectives or taking into consideration each others’ strategies.

While unhelpful, in traditional marketing and sales organisations this didn’t really impede business performance, but it didn’t improve it either, and it seems it didn’t really matter, because the true disadvantage to an enterprise was almost invisible. That is, until now.

Increasingly competitive markets

The issue is now that as markets have increased in size, and as consumption has grown in B2B markets, so has the level of supply and the number of enterprises competing for the same business.

This means that however you look at it – from a marketing or sales perspective – gaining and maintaining market share has become ever-more challenging. And market analysis with demographic projections indicate exponential growth in market competition.

Refocusing revenue generation

Given this rapid growth in competition in B2B markets, marketing and sales teams need to bring together and redirect their firepower in a more cohesive way, building an integrated marketing and sales system designed to turn contacts into qualified leads and cialis finally, to customers.

To achieve this is a massive cultural shift, and to make it happen, marketing and sales departments need to do some reciprocal navel-gazing in order to understand why their end-goals are the same – revenue generation – but their approaches are so different:

  • Marketing team project development is often long-term, and will typically include continuing brand development; in enterprises where digital marketing systems are well established the generation of qualified marketing leads is common, and often managed using marketing automation (MA) systems. Marketers work with both historical analysis and metrics with market projections to focus on increasing brand recognition, while scoring and nurturing leads for the long haul market growth using MA technologies.
  • Sales teams work in the here and now, and with greater immediacy as they work to meet monthly or quarterly key performance indicators (KPIs). Within this, individual salespeople will also seek opportunities to help solve a prospect’s equipment, supply or service issues to add the personal touch to their service that may tip the balance to a sale.
  • The disconnect is that the marketing team cannot see any of this sales activity, and none of the ongoing marketing activity is visible to sales people, so there is no cohesion. And if there was to be cohesion, it would require technology as well as cultural transition.

Strategy versus tactics

The traditional sales funnel process assumes a large number of contacts are filtered down into leads, then down to prospects, and cialis finally down to customers. But if this is the case in a traditional marketing and sales strategy, it is sub-optimal for two reasons:

Reason #1

Today, B2B customers have a tendency to educate themselves online before they consider purchase options and vendors, by making a close initial evaluation of products and services.

Reason #2

If this is the case, following a traditional marketing and sales approach means marketing remains in one silo and sales in another, in a market where now both teams need to work together to deliver the personalised communications prospects now expect.

Linear sales funnel optimisation

So what is now needed is a delineated, integrated marketing and sales strategy within an enterprise’s revenue generation organisational structure, offering a flat, linear organisation designed to play to, and deliver on, both marketing and sales team strengths.


Source: Marketo, Inc.

This delineated, integrated strategy means that at the top of the sales funnel the marketing team creates strong brand awareness and through continued MA activity, ensures your audience engages with your brand and as the relationship develops start to feel they can trust you.

Sales pick up the marketing baton

As this MA relationship management develops and is tracked, monitored and lead-scored, so there comes the optimum point at the middle of the sales funnel where the sales team needs to take the communications baton, and pick up the phone to this now engaged contact.

This is because the engaged individual, while interacting with your enterprise – and being lead-scored as such – may now either need to be moved along the sales funnel as a sales lead, or recycled further back up the funnel as a target for further nurturing.

Marketing Automation leads to human judgement

So, the sales team have now decided which sales leads move forward towards the bottom of the funnel, and which engaged individuals need to be recycled back for more nurturing by the marketing team, dependent on lead-score.

The sales team is also now responsible for converting the acquired sales leads into satisfied and loyal customers who are also ready to buy again at the next sales opportunity.

Optimisation through reciprocation

This is integrated marketing and sales: marketing delivered engaged, brand-aware prospects, and sales converted these individuals to customers at the optimum point in the sales funnel.

At this critical point in the sales funnel where the sales team has the option to recycle engaged individuals that are not ready to buy, so it is important that marketing has provided good enough sales leads for the sales team to deliver significant sales revenue performance.

Defining concrete definitions

Working out and aligning business language will be the single most critical element in integrating marketing and sales team thinking and the aligning to the primary business objective: revenue generation.

Aligning both marketing and sales teams to the same revenue goal is a critical first step in the journey, but the strategy for getting there needs to be defined by both teams to clarify three key elements of the matrix:

01. Lead scoring

Lead scoring is a system used in MA for ranking leads to establish their sales-readiness. Leads are scored based on the interest they have shown in your products and services, their current place in the buying cycle, and their fit with regard to your business. It helps companies know whether prospects need to be fast-tracked to sales or recycled back up the sales funnel and developed with further nurturing.

Lead scoring is critical in optimising revenue generation performance and your revenue cycle, and will deliver highly effective results if marketing and sales work together to define lead-scoring parameters.

02. Lead Generation definitions

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a prospect that the marketing team has worked with, possibly using MA, and has lead-scored as a potential buyer. A Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) is a lead that the sales team is committed to seeking to convert, and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospect that the sales team thinks is ready or almost ready to buy.

When both teams agree what specifically qualifies as an MQL, SAL or SQL, they will then have the understanding, culture and cohesive approach that will deliver greater business efficiency and revenue generation performance.

03. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs between marketing and sales teams need to be fully understood by both teams at each phase of the revenue cycle. For example, when marketing pass an MQL to the sales team, they will need to know how long the sales team will take as a maximum to make contact with that individual.

Conversely, if the sales team recycles a lead back further up the sales funnel, how long will it take the marketing team to respond, and what would be the next action?

Fast-track IMS

This process of changing business culture, integrating marketing and sales operations, creating a clear understanding of interdepartmental terminology and respective KPIs will rapidly evolve a culture of revenue generation rather that simplistic marketing and sales activity.

To get there does require specialist help and associated cost from a digital agency with expertise in MA systems such as Marketo or Hubspot, and customer relationship management (CRM) platform experience with Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.

But if you select the right agency, their team will be able to calculate this expenditure in time and money and determine timeframes to return on investment (ROI), meaning before you take the leap, you’ll know exactly where you’re going to land.

Working out and aligning business language will be the single most critical element in integrating marketing and sales team thinking and the aligning to the primary business objective: revenue generation.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Business to person marketing in the business to business space: does it work?

Business to person marketing in the business to business space: does it work?

The business to business (B2B) marketing community often claims that it’s a harder market to work than the business to consumer (B2C) space. Personally, I’ve never quite bought into this point of view, because in both cases there’s a common denominator: humanity.

That is to say, whether you’re communicating with a B2B or B2C audience, they’re all human beings and I’m sure would like to be treated that way. And if you follow the smart money, I think you’ll find the B2B focus is now on a very personalised business to person (B2P) approach.

The B2C-B2B crossover

If you look at the more advanced B2C digital marketing models, they have evolved to focus on their target audiences in a much more personalised way, because prospects and customers now don’t just hope for service with transparency, they expect it from brands.

And this B2B audience aren’t simply B2B prospects, because in their leisure time they are also B2C consumers who are used to being treated as valued, known customers whose wants and needs are understood and catered for in every B2C communication they receive. That’s B2P.

B2P and personalisation: how does it work?

B2P marketers spend a lot of time creating a clear profile of their prospects and customers (buyer personas) and developing websites with highly structured analytics systems, designed to report precisely what these personas search for and look at when they visit.

This process continually builds on and modifies these personas so that they always reflect the very latest prospect buying trends and behaviours so that all email communications, website landing pages and all other prospect communications are hyper-personalised.

This is what B2C customers get through B2P, so why can’t B2B marketing deliver this to customers too?

B2P: how can it work in the B2B space?

OK, so B2B marketers are not selling shampoo and at least if they are, it will be in industrial quantities. But does that mean B2B marketing has to be equally industrial, non-personalised and detached from B2B prospect and customer needs?

It doesn’t. By using the same techniques B2C marketers use to build buyer personas and website development processes to deliver accurate analytical data, B2B marketers can achieve the same level of marketing and sales success B2C marketers expect with B2P.

Remember, before they got into work this morning, your B2B target customer was actually a B2C consumer, being treated like a human being, probably through B2P, on a sophisticated B2C brand website; so to succeed, all you need to do is do the same.

Fast track to success

There’s only one difference that needs careful awareness when taking this B2P route in B2B marketing: you really aren’t selling shampoo, but something that may be of high value and high technology, and may require specialist marketing content to deliver sales using B2P.

But if you have an agile, open-minded digital agency, who truly understand your products, technologies and marketplace, switching channels from slow-burn B2B to fast-track B2P will deliver marketing return on investment (MROI) with loyal, engaged B2B customers, sooner.

This process continually builds on and modifies these personas so that they always reflect the very latest prospect buying trends and behaviours so that all email communications, website landing pages and all other prospect communications are hyper-personalised.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

5 things you really must know before you ever attempt SEO

5 things you really must know before you ever attempt SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is often seen as some kind of must-have mystery by many client-side marketers, who tend not to have the time or inclination to study, assess and fully engage with this critical tool in their market visibility, acquisition and development armoury.

And rather than engage with the finer points of SEO, and gain a true insight into prospect and buyer wants, needs and their use of language to find what they need, they prefer to pass SEO development to their digital agency, in the hope that magic will make it all work.

Here’s five things you need to know:

01. Exactly what is SEO?

SEO is purely a technical term digital marketers use for making your website visible for the words or phrases people – your prospects or customers – will use when they are looking for your products or services on the internet. The closer your on-site SEO term is to the searcher’s term, the higher your website will be in the ranking.

Therefore, while you will know your company’s products and services inside out, this means you will think about them in an entirely different way from those who are looking for them and are going to be using them, and means your search language may be totally different from theirs, and there is the disconnect.

02. How does SEO fit with customer language?

What this means is that while you may use your own in-house corporate language to describe your products or services in your website’s SEO, your prospective customers may be searching for you using a totally different search term.

Here’s an example: your top-of-the-range sweet/candy product line is called ‘Mint Imperial’ so naturally you use this brand name throughout your website to guide as many people as possible to finding your range of sweet/candy products online.

03. It’s your brand, not their search term

But what if these mint-craving searchers have never heard of your products and are not yet loyal customers but just want a mint-hit now? Then your carefully crafted brand is never going to be on their radar and they’re never going to find you or help increase your sales volumes.

Why? Because rather than searching for something they’ve never heard of, these mint desperadoes are going to be using the terms they understand to get what they want; including terms such as ‘mint sweets’, ‘mint sweeties’, ‘suckie mints’ and ‘mint candy’.

04. It’s their search term, not your brand – or is it?

The point is that if you research, learn and know what mint-crazed searchers use as search terms you can build this into both your on-page SEO content and meta data to drive people who don’t already know your brand directly to your website and your famed Mint Imperial.

Once you have done this you can start their sales journey and help them understand that your product – the fantastic Mint Imperial – is the only mint they will ever need.

05. Using SEO for continuous sales pipeline development

If this customer savvy SEO strategy is regularly updated to include new search terms as they arise and deliver terms that compete with and surpass competitor SEO, it will deliver a continuous stream of new mint-munchers to your website, sales pipeline/funnel and revenue stream.

What is key to SEO is two-fold: knowing exactly what search terms potential customers use when searching for products like yours, and precisely where to place key search phrases in your on-page content to gain the highest search visibility.

So, rather than a must-have mystery or weird, inexact science SEO can, in the right hands, deliver solid sales pipeline performance with long-term and effective return on marketing investment.

SEO is purely a technical term digital marketers use for making your website visible

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Inbound marketing: is advertising intrusion the new extinction?

Inbound marketing: is advertising intrusion the new extinction?

While every savvy marketer agrees that inbound marketing and all that good work helping prospects and existing customers along their buying journey with helpful advice and useful information is key in current crowded markets, attracting visitors in the first instance is still critical.

So, given that we know that newer methodologies in walking beside and guiding people on their buying journey is so effective, why is it that at first contact, through banner or pop-up advertising for example, we regress to old-school intrusive techniques we know no longer work?

Ad-blocking is big for a reason

According to the PageFair and Adobe 2015 Ad Blocking Report, globally the number of people using ad blocking software grew 41% year on year, with Europe growing by 35% to 77 million monthly active users during Q2 2015.

In the US, 16% of the online population blocked ads during Q2 2015 and ad block usage grew 48% during the past year, to 45 million monthly active users (MAUs) during the same period. Doesn’t this tell us something?

Sub-optimal ROMI

What this tells us very clearly is that we – both client-side and agency marketers – need to adopt new and smarter thinking if we are to overcome the inherent sub-optimal engagement performance intrusive advertising causes.

It is inherent because campaign performance is affected from the very first banner or pop-up deletion and limiting visitor numbers means campaigns start and will remain sub-optimal, meaning return on marketing investment (ROMI) will also remain sub-optimal.

First to blink wins

What a lot of marketers fear is that if they make the first move and abandon intrusive advertising for a perceived lower-key approach, their advertising will sink into invisibility valium immediately, leaving the field open for competitive intrusive advertising to prevail.

The reality is that visitors delete intrusive or obstructive pop-ups and banners or auto-play videos, particularly if any of this slows or impedes webpage functionality, or ultimately they leave the webpage altogether if they have a negative user experience (UX).

Sticking to newer, smarter principles

So, putting un-intrusive pull advertising out there is not only more likely to prevent your advertising from being deleted in the first place, but will also help optimise campaign performance by removing the systemic, sub-optimal visitor performance deletion causes.

And if you are the first to blink and break this self-defeating cycle, you can place your campaigns ahead of the curve in terms of both click-throughs and increased visitor traffic.

And also, more importantly, you can build greater trust in your brand as a helpful brand, rather than just an annoying one.

And that’s the true difference between static, one-hit copy and dynamic, interactive marketing content. Marketing content is produced by skilled content marketers who work to learn how your customers think and know how to develop a conversation with them that ultimately engages and converts prospects to loyal brand advocates for you and what you have to offer them.

In the US, 16% of the online population blocked ads during Q2 2015 and ad block usage grew 48% during the past year, to 45 million monthly active users (MAUs) during the same period. Doesn’t this tell us something?

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Multi-website management: how to maximise Internet revenue and profitability

Multi-website management: how to maximise Internet revenue and profitability

Multiple, multi-brand or product-dedicated websites can offer a greater Internet presence than single sites, and it can be argued that discrete websites linked as multisite entities offer greater flexibility, clarity and focus.

Often, these multisite groups have evolved through different global locations and administrative and marketing centres over periods of time and as such, often do not correlate content or offer navigation to synergistic inter-company products and services.

Website complexity reduces revenue

The main – and critical business development – issue with multisites that do not navigate or even indicate the possible presence of other group websites, is that visitors tend to move away from them when they do not offer a complete range of brands, products or services.

Visitors do this believing your extended brands, product ranges or services are unavailable or non-existent as they are not visible, losing you a potential customer while handing the commercial advantage to your competitors.

Controlling multisite management reduces deficits

This continuous loss of revenue is often invisible because it doesn’t fit within conventional financial metrics, even though it can amount to a large financial deficit, and can be compounded by possible continual erosion of commercial positioning.

In most cases, while the misalignments in multisite development may be apparent to an enterprise’s leadership, the actual financial obstacles may only be visible at first sight.

The business case for change

This means there is little or no business case for multisite audit and commercial remediation – accept among visionary and far sighted marketing management.

Calling these issues out, carrying out a proficient web audit and indicating financial improvements is generally welcomed by senior management, and savings are normally ploughed straight back into marketing budgets.

Multisite audit and performance review

But before you commission a review of your enterprise’s multiple websites, take a look at the website structure and what links to where. Most of this will be common sense, so if it all links up and works seamlessly, and you can navigate across all of your web presences there is no issue.

If however you know there are significant disconnects, or you discover that areas of your multisite presence are standalone and disconnected, then you will need to have a competent and specialist digital marketing agency conduct a thorough audit and review.

Creating company-wide opportunities

Working with a competent digital agency, this process will uncover all potential deficiencies in your enterprise’s multisite architecture and point to all the roadblocks to inter-website navigation, and through this, financial improvements can be planned.

But be sure your agency provides you with a clear hierarchical infographic for both current and future state structures as you will need this to communicate the performance benefits of this work to other sections within your enterprise, both locally and in-region.

This is because these changes in web hierarchy will offer a great opportunity for commercial development between different areas of your business and if shared and discussed, it will at the very least allow for cross- and up-selling across brands, products and services.

Building multisite value

And if this review is conducted with a specialist agency, not only will a new and efficient web hierarchy be proposed but as part of this, projected sales revenue uplift can be calculated and predicted.

So, from the outset, make sure that the digital agency specialists you are talking to are not going to deliver a formulaic approach and they’re confident enough to tell you what you need to know to improve sales, rather than telling you what they think you want to hear.

Be sure also that they have ISO 9001 certification for digital marketing quality management, giving you in turn the confidence to trust in the proposal and solutions you are offered in this quest to optimise website performance and maximise revenue generation.

Visitors do this believing your extended brands, product ranges or services are unavailable or non-existent as they are not visible, losing you a potential customer while handing the commercial advantage to your competitors.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

A five-point B2B digital marketing strategy for engagement and visibility in 2016

A five-point B2B digital marketing strategy for engagement and visibility in 2016

With a recent survey indicating that 77% of companies increased their digital marketing budgets – up from 71% on the previous year – and trends indicating further rapid growth in 2016, competition for B2B visibility is increasing significantly.

And what this means in terms of gaining competitive high ground in crowded B2B markets is the application of stand-out techniques in both new and existing B2B marketing channels. So what do these stand-outs look like in developing market share in 2016?

01.  More sophisticated content marketing strategies

In B2B marketing content is key. That is because B2B audiences do detailed online research, and have a good grasp of their chosen subject at the outset of that research, so are very demanding and discerning recipients when served relevant content.

This means that your 2016 content strategy must offer a clearly defined storyline over the entire year with detailed, accurate technical information that is directly aligned with the commercial reasons for considering and purchasing your products and services.

02.  Driving content marketing with marketing automation

More sophisticated and engaging content marketing will deliver significantly greater prospect and customer engagement if it is communicated to recipients through an organised marketing communications system that offers this as part of the prospect or customer sales journey.

This means that the content now has a dynamic, and is therefore explicitly designed to lead the prospect or customer to a sale – and as prospects are categorised according to their level of interest, so the served content may be segmented and streamed to reflect interests and aspirations.

03.  Lead conversion optimisation

Simply put, lead generation – driving prospects and customers to content on your website – is an important part of market development and revenue generation but converting leads to sales, and then retaining those leads as loyal customers is a whole different story.

Client-side marketers with clear strategic vision will aim to build on lead conversion performance and take it to the next level through creating content that continues to deliver prospect and customer engagement and nurtures leads, creating solid prospect relationships.

04.  Personalisation and interactive communications

The use of a more sophisticated content marketing strategy, introducing a marketing automation platform, and optimising lead conversions – if appropriately implemented by your digital vendors – will generate a considerable amount to prospect and customer personal data.

This valuable data will tell you a lot about your prospects and customers and allow you to build highly accurate buyer personas, meaning you will know enough about them to communicate in a more personal way, meeting their needs for information and guidance on the sales journey.

05.  Social media and search optimisation

LinkedIn has grown massively in recent years as a B2B networking tool, and if you are a B2B services business, your prospects are likely using LinkedIn to research and identify potential consultants and vendors.

But even if your prospects and customers are not significant social media users, Google uses social signals in algorithms for calculating search engine rankings and therefore social media will be used to boost rankings and therefore search visibility.

Reaching out and driving B2B prospect interactions

This five point strategy will allow you to develop, nurture, engage and convert prospects and customers in the year ahead. But first you’re going to need to find them. Will online advertising do that?

Well no, because ad-blocking is still a major obstacle here and as an issue, blocking is likely to become more of a significant barrier in the year ahead.

The best options for attracting leads in 2016 will be – in order of effectiveness – native advertising; LinkedIn, and Facebook Click to Website ads with call-to-action buttons; Google Customer Match which allows you to upload a list of contacts and target them through search. This feature is also available on Facebook and Twitter, and is effectively making search and social work more like email marketing.

Key to survival for 2016

But what is really going to matter in the year ahead is quality. Starting with the quality of your marketing strategy; through the quality of your marketing content, to the quality of your prospect engagement and customer retention and loyalty performance.

Because whatever else 2016 will be in the digital space, the most confident prediction I have for you is that B2B markets will be very crowded indeed.

In B2B marketing content is key. That is because B2B audiences do detailed online research, and have a good grasp of their chosen subject at the outset of that research, so are very demanding and discerning recipients when served relevant content.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom