I have been a part of a lot of start-up companies and the ones who have seen the most success get this principal and live it at at the core of everything they do.
Even though I have seen a few companies live this out, it wasn’t until I heard my absolute favorite Ted Talk that I kept this in mind every single time I go to help a company with their messaging. It is not mind blowing because it is a new concept but it is the number one thing most companies will forget as they build marketing content.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”
Now that you have this mind set you would think it is easy, right? Think why! Think why! Think why! Not as easy as it sounds. The key is to get the heart of your company. What are you passionate about? What gets you up every morning to do what you do? Are the leaders in our organization driving the “We believe….” “We love…” “We are driven by…” If you walk around your entire company right now and ask everyone from accounting to sales what it is your company passionate about, would the answer be the same across your organization? Some companies spend thousands on brand agencies to help the develop this exact message and it ends up on a plaque in the lobby but does it drive your business?
I had the pleasure of working for Infusionsoft in the early days where the brand promise became about the dream of every employee. As a matter of fact, every employee was not only asked to memorize the Dream, Vision, Purpose and Mission (see below) we were asked to carry it out in everything we did.
Dream: Revolutionize the way small businesses grow.
Vision: Infusion will be the sales and marketing software program small businesses use to grow their companies quickly and profitably.
Purpose: Liberate and empower small businesses and their employees so they can enjoy doing business, wow their customers and better serve their families and communities
Mission: To create the leading sales and marketing software program for small business that is easy to use and powerful enough to turn small businesses into big businesses.
When you answer the WHY (Liberate and empower small business and their employees so they can enjoy doing business, wow their customers and better serve their families and communities) you can build on your DREAM ( Revolutionize the way small businesses grow) and easily and more clearly:
Let me first explain, yes I believe a content marketing strategy can be and should be tied to revenues. The growth of content production continues to boom, with 70% of B2B marketers creating more content than years past. However, only 9% of companies believe their content is highly-effective. In order to know if you content is effective you must measure the value of the content against your returns. The key is to plan it that way from the beginning so here is a step-by-step guide on how to make your content drive revenues:
Step 1 - Understand your company objectives. Your marketing programs are only as good as your ability to tie the results to your overarching goals. Your content plan should be a direct reflection of who you are trying to reach and what you want them to know about you.
Step 2 - Define your personas and build a story for each one of them. Hint, if you can create a theme around your story that can be shared across your content, it makes it much easier to unify the message and the look and feel.
Contact Me to see an example of a cohesive marketing story.
Step 3 - Define the materials (content pieces) you need to help you tell the story. It is helpful to go back to your personas and build a map of what you will need for each at each stage in the lead/sales lifecycle by persona.
Contact Me to see an example of a persona based content plan.
Step 4 - Look at all of your placement and delivery opportunities by lifecycle stage. Remember, early stage viewers may not even know they are interested so capturing their attention quickly and drawing them in, in a matter of seconds is critical. And, make it easy for viewers to “spread the word.” Make it easy for people to share your content. Shared content is three times more likely to get read.
Step 5 - Look for ways to re-purpose content across multiple channels. Don’t just publish a blog post and hope people find it. Share your blog post across social media channels with partners, and advertise content to the appropriate audience.
Step 6 - Make your content evergreen by removing dates and allowing it take a life of its own over time. Link new content to older content to reinvigorate it.
Step 7 - Balance the give and take. Content is designed to be educational and in the early stages you need to give more than you take but as you move through the lifecycle you can begin to ask for something (information) in exchange. The further you go in the lifecycle and the more they engage, the more information you can request.
Step 8 - Track! Track! Track! Only 21% of companies say they are successfully tracking their content programs. Going back to beginning where I mentioned only 9% of companies believe their content plan is highly effective, this is because most companies are still not tracking their content through to the customer value. At a bare minimum you should be tracking:
Visitors to all content pieces
Where are the visitors coming from?
What are they doing next?
With the right technology you should also be tracking all the leads collected by content piece and call to action.
With marketing automation and CRM you should also be able to track: Original lead source, campaigns across the lifecycle (influencing campaigns), support materials viewed, won/lost opportunities by campaign and revenue against cost of the campaign.
Is your marketing and sales process creating ghost leads?
You should absolutely be afraid of ghosts. They are costing you money and there is no reason they should exists. What is a ghost lead? A ghost lead is a lead you have collected that gets lost in the process somewhere, somehow and does not get the attention it needs to move it through the funnel.
There are a number of reasons and places a ghost lead can sneak up on you. Let’s take each stage in the funnel and look at how a ghost lead appears.
Some ghost leads never even make it into the database. If you do not have a consistent process for collecting, inputting and segmenting your leads from ALL of your channels you might have ghost leads sitting in the desk draw of a sales rep. or in someone’s inbox. This happens a lot at trade shows. Even with the lead scan devices you get back from a whirlwind conference and you are on to the next big thing and the leads never make it into the database. Or worse yet, leads did not get scanned and you have a stack of business cards sitting on someone’s desk waiting to be entered. You just paid thousands of dollars to create a stack of ghost leads.
While the above scenario is just lazy and should be easy to solve, the next stage in the funnel is where most unfortunate ghost leads occur. Let’s say those leads do get entered. There are three different paths these leads often take: 1) you send each of them an email introducing yourself starting with “we met you at…” 2) you divide them up and have your sales team start calling or 3) you have a marketing automation system and you put them into a campaign that starts a sequence of emails. If you are a little more advanced you may email and call. However, only a handful of these leads end up in the funnel. What happens to the rest? Before we get into that, let’s take a look at the next stage.
Now you have followed up on the leads. Your sales guys have even called a few times and left messages. Your emails have gone out and you have done your best to get the leads to raise their hands - - but have you? What happens to these leads at this point?
Just because they did not interact with you immediately does not mean there is no hope to ever convert these leads into opportunities. As marketers it is our job to follow-up. It is also our job to learn more about them to further qualify them for sales. Here are the steps to take to get rid of the ghost leads:
1 - Make sure every lead makes it into your database. No excuses, make this a top priority.
2 - Use as much of the data as you can to follow-up with the leads immediately with as relevant as a mesage as possible.
3 - Over time, work to gather more data on the leads you obtained, either through third party append services, manually through LInkedin or by asking the lead via progressive profiling forms. You can also learn more about the lead through their behaviors. What actions are the taking when you reach out?
4 - Use the data to get more and more relevant to your audience and to segment those who meet your pre-determined criteria for a good lead. For example, if you know that call center managers managing teams of 60+ are the ones who buy most often, make sure these leads get segmented out and bubbled up to the top as quickly as possible.
5 - Lead score activity/behavior. If a lead keeps visiting your site, there must be something of interest there. Increase the lead score each time they visit and if they hit your pricing page give them a bonus score. Bubble them up to sales when they hit a threshold.
6 - Don’t let the ghost linger. If you have followed up and sent them relevant content move them to a “marketing stay-in-touch” campaign where you do just that, stay in touch at a cadence that is appropriate to your market. Change your leads status at this point to MSIT so you are not keeping them in your sales funnel.
7 - If sales has leads in their funnel they are not working, set-up automated process by which these leads continue to get activity. This would look different based on your company but you could auto reassign them to another sales person if there has been no activity for a certain time-frame. You could auto-alert their manager if the lead is going into “ghost” status. You could also set-up nurture at each stage of the funnel and for those stages that include a sales rep. these could appear to come from the rep.
8 - As a marketer you should spot check your leads on a regular basis and make sure the intended follow-up is occurring. Chances are if one ghost is appearing, there are more around the corner.
If you are hiring marketing people to generate leads for you, stop right now. Call me today and I will buy you some leads. With one phone call I can get you a list defined by your target marketing demographics. When a sales team says they want leads this is not what they are asking for. There is much more to marketing than a list of leads. If number of leads is still your top marketing KPI, you have a lot of catching up to do.
The definition of a lead is: an individual or organization that expresses an interest in your goods or service. Today, while this is technically correct, we as marketers have used the term more and more to define the possession of data.
Marketing measurements will be different if you are a B2C company vs. a B2B company. If you are an online businesses vs. a brick and mortar.
In the B2C world you would be looking more at what kind of traffic you can generate (into a store or onto your website) and what percent of that traffic resulted in the sale of your product/service. These transactional based marketing KPIs are often easier to measure than marketing in B2B where the KPIs involve a sales cycle, sometimes a rather complex sales cycle. For B2B marketers you need to start with what you know today. I paid “x” for this marketing effort and it resulted in “y” leads.
x = y gives you your Cost Per lead (CPL)
Now of those leads that I generated I am going to determine that “r” are valid enough to pass to sales. Read blog post Marketing Qualification to learn more.
Lead to Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
r/y = MQL ratio
Of those that we passed to sales they are actively working “w”
MQL to Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)
w/r = MQL to SAL ratio
Now that they are working the lead they have managed to convert “o” to an open opportunity.
SAL to Opportunity
o/w = SAL to Opportunity ratio
Now they are closing some of these opportunities to sales “s”
o/s = Opportunity to Won ratio
Now you look at the number of sales (won) and connect this value back to the original cost of the program.
This will give you your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
Marketing cost/number of customers acquired = CAC
Nope, we are not done yet. You should also look at the value of the sale to the cost of the program to determine an ROI. If you will only plan to sell this customer one product one time you can stop there. However in most businesses the real value of acquiring a customer is in the lifetime value (LTV), or the value of the customer for the lifetime of the customer relationship.
Lastly you will want to track your Opportunity to Loss and your Returned to Marketing conversion rates to use as metrics for ways to improve your overall marketing efforts. If you are seeing that these numbers do not correlate with your leads you might have an issue with lead process and it could be that sales is not moving leads through the funnel and they are just sitting at stages that become inactive. We will talk about ways to design a sales process that doesn’t leave you with ghost leads in a later article.
Can marketing actually be tied to revenue goals based on the delivery channel? Why Not!
First, you must make a commitment to content.
Without a commitment to active and consistent content you can’t expect any channel to be tied to a measurable revenue number. However, if you can commit to ongoing, highly-relevant content for each channel you actually set goals by channel and build out trackable measurements based on channel:s:
What kind of traffic will you drive to each channel per month?
How do you capture leads in this channel?
What is the average of ratio from traffic to lead capture?
What is the cost to produce and distribute content in the is channel (for now just look at hard costs not including salaries)?
What are your lead to close ratios?
See Marketing KPIs Blog for more information on measurements.
Note, some companies are more transactional in nature and the content itself might directly result in a sale of a product, service or subscription.
Second, someone has to take true ownership of the channel.
You must find a marketer who can is comfortable taking ownership of one or more of your content channels and is able to view that channel success based on measurements and data. This person must own the strategy by which content is not only created but delivered. They also must work with other channels to cross-promote and create replicatable content that can be used by a number of channels. For example, if you have a webinar recording you can use on your blog, Facebook, Linkedin and Youtube each channel owner will need to understand the best way to position and promote this content on their channel to make the most of the content based on how the target audience interacts with the channel.
Third, you must define the qualification by which you will measure the channel.
Some companies will only measure marketing revenue contributions when a transaction occurs directly from that marketing activity within the same interaction. Other companies will cookie or log the original interaction and allow marketing to claim it against the channel if the completed sale occurs in a certain time frame. In the B2B world however, where you have a sales cycle involved, you will want to go back and look at the original lead channel at the close of the sale. In CRM, this is often when the opportunity is moved to “won.”
Last, you must be able to measure effectively.
If you have a sales process involved you must be able to track where the channel the lead came from along at the time they make a purchase. This means the channel source has to be able to follow the lead through the entire sales journey. You may also need a way to tie other channel contributions to the sale If the lead interacted with a number of channels before making a purchase you would want to give the original source a certain attribution however those that
contributed to the sale should also get some of the credit. If you are using a marketing automation system or a CRM to track interactions and activities you will want to create a master lead source or campaign along with lead source tags or child campaigns that will allow you to see the entire flow of activity for each completed sale.
While content is king when you want to leverage your marketing channels you have to be able to understand the value of the content as it pertains to that channel so you can continue to produce content for the purpose of growing the business not just content for content sake.
My name is KC DeKorte-Cox and I am a demand generation marketing expert with over 15 years of experience focused primarily on helping businesses with marketing and sales alignment strategies aimed at driving growth. I help design marketing and sales programs that scale by leveraging the power of technology, specifically CRM and Marketing Automation.