Win Deals Using Email: A 5 Point Checklist for Best Practice Email Campaigning Your B2B Solutions

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A friend recently asked me for some advice about email campaigning. Back in July of 2015, I wrote a piece on email marketing. While still relevant content, it's highly tactical. He's more strategic. So I decided to address the topic through his lens with this expanded piece. While there is a bit of overlap in a few places, feel free to enjoy both blog entries.

Here's your 5 point checklist for winning deals using a single email campaign.

1. Be very prescriptive in choosing your audience. Less is more. Deciders are best. Influencers are ok but don't overvalue them. Be honest with yourself about who those people really are. If you are trying to convince yourself that influencers are deciders, then you're already wasting time...yours and theirs. Also, take time to truly understand and accept that they don't care about you or your brand...unless and until you can provide they get something from you at the right time that helps them solve a problem or meet a goal...in a personal way.

2. Set a simple, achievable campaign goal. When marketing and selling solutions of medium to larger size (like technology and/or consulting solutions for the healthcare space), that goal is 3-5 new qualified opportunities and 1-3 closed deals by the end of the 6th month from campaign to go-live. This model applies per Rep/territory. This math is based on our experience running hundreds of campaigns marketing solutions into the healthcare provider space. When you break down the industry and others similar to it, there are numerical limitiations in the overall opportunity and the probability of striking at the right time. Timing is not everything, but it's close. You have to have an active voice to be there at the right time. 

3. Set a supporting KPI metric for conversations. Recommend 9-12...what you'll need, minimum, for achieving the primary campaign goal. The definition of a conversation is a meaningful exchange with a qualified decider about a pain or goal that you may be able to help them solve. It can be via email, phone, or in person. You ultimately decide the definition of "meaningful". Don't artificially inflate your conversation metrics. It only hurts your progress in pursuing qualified opportunities. 

4. Frame a content and workflow plan that spans multiple (about every other week, no more than weekly) messages over 3 months time with an event as your crescendo. It can be an event within an industry event and/or a webinar. Best events feature a customer as your special guest. Take an educational approach and tone with your content...content they would consider valuable through their lens, not yours. Use a vlog or blog to engage around the top priorities in their industry and the implications to their business and priorities. That means you have to intimately know your customers' world. Invest time in research and ask your customers BEFORE you start creating. Don't sell in your content, rather promote other content around it with links and invitations they would value...other owned (owned by you) blog content, invite to your event/webinar, industry events, and/or a white paper. And remember to record your crescendo event so you can reuse the content in future campaigns.

5. Use a marketing automation tool to execute. With this much content, using a focused list, and possibly involving multiple reps, you need efficiency, an administrative owner, and you need alerts to trigger timely salesperson engagement during the campaign. You also need analytics to gain insights for affirming or pivoting your path. We like HubSpot and CampaignMonitor. Other quality alternatives include Salesforce.com's Pardot, Marketo, and InfusionSoft. 

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. This isn't easy work, but it's rewarding when done right. Our clients have experienced results that include multiple million dollar deals and ROIs in excess of 20x. You can experience the same. Just do it right!

 

Are You Building Relational Wealth?

relational wealth

A friend recently forwarded an Andy Stanley podcast featuring special guest Glen Jackson, a brand strategy thought leader. Although Glen is technically a competitor, we serve different regions of the country. And excellence should always be shared whenever possible. Glen definitely shared excellence.

Andy covered quite a lot with Glen in this podcast. But what stood out for me was the concept of building relational wealth. In today's post, we'll expand on Glen's perspective on relational wealth, plus we'll walk through an action plan for building your own relational wealth. 

Why relational wealth? Pretty simple...you want to grow your brand in a healthy way. Relational wealth is the most valuable asset you can develop to support healthy growth. By definition it is an abundance of valuable, authentic relationships. It is not marketing. It is not selling. And it is not networking. It is not measured in related revenue. It is not measured in the quantity of your LinkedIn connections. It is best measured by how consistently active you are, daily, in the three steps in building relational wealth...

  1. Research
  2. Connect
  3. Invest

Research

Be thoughtful about who you want to connect with and why. Take the time to understand, through their lens, why developing a relationship on some level would be valuable for them. Your value in the potential relationship should already be obvious. Set a reasonable goal for developing new relationships...monthly total with a daily investment of 30 minutes specifically for this type of activity.

Connect

Connecting occurs through events, referral introductions, and yes LinkedIn. The key to connecting is relating to people of interest around "commons". Commons are interests, people, groups and the like. They must be authentic. It's unwise to try to connect with someone just because you targeted them as a prospect. In fact, most of your relational wealth does not represent prospects, rather access to them.

Invest

Investing is sharing value. Sharing information or access to something of value like an event is about giving. It occurs consistently over time. You can't force it and it's not about you or your brand. Whatever your investment, do the research so that whatever you share will be genuinely useful to them. It's great if it somehow related to your interests and work focus. But it can't be forced.

Building relational wealth is critical in preserving and growing the health of your brand. Be deliberate. Be committed. Invest daily. For more on using LinkedIn to help in building relational wealth, check out this post

 

Blogging...10 best practices

To blog or not to blog? It’s no longer a question. The answer is YES. Blogging is a great opportunity for your organization to engage target audiences. Why? It can be a path to generate organic growth and position your brand as one of thought leadership in the industry.

Below are 10 Best Practices for Blogging in your business niche.

1) Plan. Before you start writing, get strategic and outline your goals. Then visit with a professional to validate and/or modify those goals relative to industry standards for blogging outcomes.

2) Schedule. Set a schedule for writing and promoting. To do it right, blogging takes an investment of time. You’ll be more effective and more efficient if you schedule it and hold yourself accountable to write 4-5 blogs / month.

3) Know your stuff. Everyone's an expert in something. What are your areas of strength? What do you have to share that you think others in your target audience(s) would find valuable? Write about what you know, what you are passionate about, or what you feel most compelled to tell others. And do so wisely.

4) Do research and read other stuff. Along with knowing your stuff, it’s important to be well-read. The more you read, the more writing ideas and content you’ll be able to produce.

5) Headlines are almost everything. Make them provocative enough to draw people into reading more. If you don’t, someone else will. Invest the time to do this right. Google and ask that one crazy friend for input. If you can afford it, hire a professional to do your headlines. Yes, it’s that important.

6) Ask questions. Encourage interaction! Write something that will get people enthusiastic about commenting. Blog posts can take on a life of their own when lots of people respond and comment.

7) Be concise. Being concise means keeping it short but complete. After you write, proof and cut “word-fat”. You’ll be amazed at how much word-fat we all use. 300-500 words…that’s all you need.

8) Keep it simple. People like simple…and that’s all they have time for. Even people who like to read, have limited time due to constant interruptions. Simple is always better and usually achievable.

9) Organize the information. Breakup text with bullets and lists…everyone loves a list. You’ll pick up a broader audience, and just maybe that one fish that you really want to hook simply because you’re blog was easy to follow.

10) Socialize it. Link, reference, and promote your blog. Reference other related content including links or twitter handles. Comment on blogs you read and tie your comments back to your content. Also, promote your blog to your first degree network via LinkedIn, Twitter, email, text…however you connect with your colleagues and friends. Let people know.

Blogging is a great tool for engaging your target audiences. But if it’s not your thing, it’s still worth doing. And we can help with our blogging services. Jut give us a call or email us @ info@illumeture.com.

 

LinkedIn...access to who you didn't know you already know

LinkedIn is the fastest growing social network on the planet. 2 new members join every second with nearly 300M registered members across the globe. 50 percent of all users are decision makers. Marketing and sales professionals must leverage LinkedIn to have right conversations with right people. Your target audience is likely active on it. So should you be.

Here are Best Practices for leveraging LinkedIn.

1) Plan. Before you jump in with both feet, determine your objectives. Ask yourself, specifically, why do I want to use LinkedIn? What do I want to accomplish by using it? Example objectives: 1) Generate 3 new business opportunities in the next 90 days using LinkedIn. 2) Direct connect with 30 target prospects within 3 months. 3) Direct connect with 30 colleagues, partners, and/or people of interest in which you have things in common. 4) Post content in your feed daily M-F. 5) Endorse 5 connections every week. If you're not sure what objectives to create, Ask a LinkedIn-savvy colleague or a LinkedIn paid professional. It’s important that your objectives are properly focused and realistic. 

2) Research. Use the advanced search features to research and save your searches. Then back-link any relationships you have even if they are 2nd or 3rd degree. To get the most out of this work, you’ll need to pony up the $53/month LinkedIn upgrade.

3) Warm Introductions. Use your research and network to generate warm introductions through LinkedIn. Take your time and do this right. Be prepared to offer something of REAL value in return and upfront. It needs to be a win/win exchange. Once you have access to the target, don’t show up and throw up on them with a big pitch. Be friendly, direct about the WHY you’re connecting, and offer her access to your network if she needs anything.

4) Build. Treat LinkedIn like a window to your relationships. If you value your relationships, then you’ll use the platform to cultivate and grow them on a daily basis. And don’t link with just anyone. Be selective but proactive. Try to link with multiple new meaningful people every week in pursuit of your planned objectives. You’d be surprised how many people you actually know.

5) Be an all-star. LinkedIn rates your profile for you on the right hand side. If your profile is not ranked as an all-star, get to work on getting there. The platform provides many built-in suggestions, but to summarize the key work…completing all sections, linking with more than 500 people, request recommendations from people you’ve worked with in the past. And offer them in return as well.

6) Post. LinkedIn is full of great content. You likely already receive great content from other sources via email, Twitter, etc. Every source begins or ends with a link to post via multiple sources…almost always LinkedIn is one of them. If you like something you read, post it to LinkedIn. It’s worth the 60 seconds investment of time. Do it daily and you’ll see an increase in profile views and connection requests. More importantly, you’ll be creating opportunities to connect with your target prospects.

7) Group. Be selective and become a Top Contributor. Focus on 2-3 groups where your prospects are likely to hang out. So many people treat groups like trade shows and the 6th grade dance. All the boys on one side and all the girls on the other...meaning they spend time with peers instead of prospects. It’s crazy but it still happens today in business…even in the virtual world! Don’t do it. Mingle with your prospects on their turf. Post great content like your blog or someone else’s that you like. Read and comment on other posts. Use it for discussion. It’s not for hard selling. You’ll become a thought leader and make more meaningful connections.

If LinkedIn is something you think you could improve on with professional management, let us know. We can help with our LinkedIn management services. Jut give us a call @ 214.810.6207 or email us @ info@illumeture.com.

 

Email...7 things you need to know

Email is still the king in B2B marketing dominating social media, mail, and all other forms of marketing combined. Although LinkedIn is making inroads on the king, a recent study by McKinsey concluded that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Twitter and Facebook. 

So what about email? How can your organization best leverage it? Some of the Best Practices are similar to what you’ll find in the Blog BP. Still, there are important distinctions. Here are the Best Practices for leveraging email.

1) Have a good list. Make sure your list data has 90% + integrity and that its focused. Don't try to boil the ocean by including everyone. Know the right role or roles and focus your list build on them so the message will be more relevant, thereby increasing your probability for engagement with the right people.

2) Plan. Plan the campaign theme, the send schedule, the content, the follow up. Even though the plan will change because of current events, changes in the organization, or a myriad of other variables, having the framework will make your work more fruitful in the long run. Just be consistent in execution.

3) Have a creative headline. The headline is critical...it's the doorway to your message. Believe it or not, most email headlines are poorly written. You have 2-3 seconds to grab a busy person's attention. Make it count. Being creative doesn't mean sensationalize. It needs to simply compel the reader to open the message and keep reading. And it needs to be relevant to the content within the message. Make it authentic and appropriately clever. Often a simple "Touching base" is effective. Another best practice...keep it short. Use five words or less. Two is optimal. Another example  headline "Anything missing?" If you want a great resource for testing keywords, check out http://subject-line-checker.adestra.com/. Invest time in your headline. If you’re not good at writing headlines, pay a professional. Yes it’s that important.

4) Write content with hooks. Be compelling and inviting with your content. And it’s about them not your features and benefits. Within the theme you’ve selected, it's about what they can do with your offering. It's about what they will experience and gain. And storytelling is powerful, but at this point only a compelling peek into the story will work. Too much too fast and there is no hook. You only have about 5-7 seconds to hook the reader beyond the headline. And you want to keep them hooked. A compelling email has 4 hooks…headline, salutation, KPI or benefit highlight within the core message, and the CTA (Call To Action). The CTA must be something they need to do to get the result they want. Write it as if you were them reading it in their environment.

5) Listen to the macro data. But balance that with what you know to be working for you. TrackMaven recently released results from their latest study centered on rising above the “noise” of email. Highlights (with notes based on our experience in parentheses) include: send in the mornings and evenings on weekends (generally true), keep the subject line word count under 20 (best practice is 2 with a max <5), use a question mark in the subject line (very effective), keep your word count under 300 (target 50 with max <100 for best results), don’t use images (good for blogging, and social posting, not good for email as images flag spam), use links to share more information (good, link to content you own is optimal). Most people are doing much of the opposite and not because audiences prefer it.

6) String it all together. Since you are working multiple channels to reach the right people, ensure the campaign theme compliments the other channel work you are doing in messaging and timing. Social selling via LinkedIn, conferences, phone calls...whatever you are working, make sure you are thoughtful and deliberate in how you attempt to connect. You don't want your efforts to feel canned. Be as authentic as possible within each channel you work while avoiding becoming inefficient.

7) Measure your results. And adjust. If you can’t track manually, get a tool like campaign monitor or mail chimp. Salesforce.com App Exchange has some bolt-on options as well. The primary KPI is conversation rate...how many conversations did you generate. Other KPIs for email are: open rate, click rate, direct response rate, opt-out rate, and spam rate.

If email is something you think you could improve on with professional management, let us know. We can help with our email management services. Jut give us a call or email us @ info@illumeture.com.

 

 

Webinars...if you want more out of them, put more into them

Webinars are an effective tool for positioning thought leaders and nurturing leads. But the content of the webinar and the manner in which it is conducted affect the attendee experience.  So, before jumping into your first webinar, here are 8 best practices…

1) Plan. Set measurable goals within the context of your larger marketing strategy and channel campaigning objectives. For example...Attendees: 100, Leads from Webinar: 10, Closed Sales: 3, Revenue: $10,000. There are other goals to consider. Just be sure they are meaningful and measurable relative to your overarching strategic goals.

2) Define. You have offerings designed to meet a need and/or solve a problem. Create a series of topics directly related to demonstrating your expertise solving such a problem or meeting an need. Promoting a Subject Matter Expert within your company is the best way to position webinar content in generating brand awareness, nurturing leads, and new revenue. Don't use webinars to as a long pitch. It doesn't work. It doesn't mean don't talk about how you use your product or how you leverage your intellectual capital in a services business. The best approach for engagement is using a story delivered with authenticity about challenges and triumphs...lessons learned, best practices, etc. That sells better than trying to sell.

3) Promote. Define the target audience and choose the channels in which to reach them with a compelling reason to attend. Use eMail, your preferred Social Media communities, and ask your sales people to invite prospects in their conversations. Tell your customers about it and ask them to tell others. Landing pages are the best platform in which to funnel your channel traffic for sign up. Lastly, be sure to send a reminder at least twice before the event...once 1 day before, and once 1 hour before.

4) Prepare. Make sure you and the Subject Matter Expert are prepared for the webinar. Review the material and cadence for the call at least a day before. Prior to go-live, have someone on your team dial-in to make sure the number is working for participants. This person must send a test question to see what it looks like inside the webinar software. Close ALL unnecessary applications, especially Outlook, Instant Messenger, etc. No need to display irrelevant or confidential info by accident. It’s important to maximize performance and reduce distractions for your audience.

5) Start promptly. Call into the meeting a minimum of 15 minutes in advance. Before you call in, By calling in early, attendees are assured they are in the right place. Set expectations by using pre-webinar slides and announcements such as a clock countdown and agenda. Start 2 minutes past the hour. This gives people time to call in, but does not irritate punctual attendees. Additionally, it sets the tone for future webinars while not disenfranchising latecomers.

6) Set expectations. In your introduction, communicate how you will field questions…whether you'll respond to select questions at the end, or try to take them during the session. If possible, assign a support team member to managing questions.

7) Don’t Rush. When reviewing information or data, don’t move too quickly with your mouse. Often, refreshes takes time to occur depending on user bandwidth. Plan on about 5 seconds every screen change. Have a definitive "stop" to the core material, within the allotted time. It’s a designed pause to bring all audience members to the same place in the content and flow of the webinar.

8) Replay available. Send a link of the replay to all attendees within 24 hours of the close. Set this expectation during the webinar. 10-20% of attendees request the info regardless. Prompt follow up increases long term connectivity with attendees, and it’s the right thing to do.

If webinars are something you think you could improve on with professional management, let us know. We can help with our webinar management services. Jut give us a call or email us @ info@illumeture.com.

Prepare to Win

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Words of wisdom from Paul written in 1 Corinthians, end of chapter 9. 

Prepare to win and you will win more. Regardless of the outcome, preparing to win is its own fulfillment.  

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