How to use automation to create a smooth link between sales and marketing

A strong bridge between sales and marketing is a B2B company’s not-so-secret tool for success. With aligned sales and marketing, each team is in the best position to hit their most important KPIs and give consumers a more streamlined experience from the very first touchpoint.

In fact, LinkedIn research shows that
businesses with strong sales and marketing alignment are 67% more effective at
closing deals, 58% more effective at retaining customers, and drive 208% more
revenue as a result of their marketing efforts. Impressive, right?

To help get sales and marketing on the same page, you can optimize internal communication, hold regular meetings, and collaborate via shared metrics and dashboards. But you might not have thought about improving your sales-marketing relationship with automation.

Automation provides a myriad of benefits for any business. You can use the information you already have about
your contacts to automatically guide leads through your ideal marketing funnel.
Automated processes also help align your sales and marketing teams, especially
by kick-starting and facilitating processes, handovers, and data collection
that help you succeed.

But what should you get started with? And how
can you set up processes that get results? Let’s help you get started…

1.
Collect the right data for sales and marketing

To get the best results from automation, it’s
important to consider the data you’re collecting. Your audience’s attention is
incredibly valuable: every single form field should earn its place by being a
well-considered question that will give you valuable data.

Check all your forms and make sure you’re collecting
data that allows marketing and sales to qualify contacts and have the right
information as they move down the funnel. Don’t go overboard, though – it’s
important to ensure all questions are relevant and appropriate for the stage of
the funnel. Don’t ask for annual revenue to receive a top of funnel trends
report.

2.
Define the way leads should flow between Marketing and Sales

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of your
marketing and sales funnels as separate entities. They’re very much connected,
and should always be considered in parallel.

Begin by getting a clear picture of what your funnels look like. Map them out – on paper with Post-Its if you need to. Make sure everyone agrees how leads enter your funnel, become qualified, and take key actions (such as requesting a demo) before becoming customers.

Next, pinpoint when your marketing team needs to pass leads to sales. Is it when a lead requests a demo? Or is it before then – maybe showing interest signals like visiting your pricing page?

Once you know exactly when a lead should move
to sales, you can use automation to reduce manual work and handovers. For
instance, if a qualified lead requests a demo, you can use your marketing tool
to change the contact owner to a sales representative and set a task for them
to reach out.

3.
Get your tools in sync

One powerful way to boost company efficiency
is to connect your marketing and sales tools.
With integrations and two-way contact syncs, you can automatically keep your
key business tools updated and ensure everyone has the latest data at hand.

List all the business tools you rely on. Are
they currently in sync, or do you have room for improvement? Set a goal to
streamline your data flow between the tools you use most and eliminate manual
uploads and updates.

As a starting point, consider synchronising contacts between your CRM and
email tool
, proposals system, and billing software if you
use these tools.

4. Deliver tailored content to
guide leads through your buyer’s journey

47% of marketing teams don’t have a documented
buyer’s journey, says Kapost in their 2018 B2B Marketing and Sales Alignment
Benchmark
. That’s a huge lost opportunity.

Make sure you’re clear on the key stages your
customers travel through before and after purchase. Once you’ve done that,
choose your best pieces of content for each stage (look at relevance, as well
as conversion rate and time on page). You can then create
emails to promote these content pieces
as part of
personalized workflows that deliver the right content at the right time, based
on certain triggers.

Consider adjusting the email sender and reply-to address depending on the stage of the funnel – perhaps having one marketer sending your top-of-funnel emails, and a product marketer or salesperson sending more product-focused messages. But make sure not to confuse your recipient with too many emails and too many senders.

Your goal should be to gradually move leads further down the funnel and motivate signs of engagement (such as demo requests). You can also use automation to schedule follow-ups when action is required from your contact, such as to finalize their demo booking or approve a sales proposal. Once a lead completes one workflow, you can choose to automatically trigger enrollment in another.

5. Set
up notifications to update key people in your team

Automation makes sending messages to contacts a breeze, but it can also radically improve your internal conversation. With your marketing software, set up internal workflows based on certain triggers (such as visiting your pricing page) to let your team know when a lead is engaging with bottom-of-funnel content or requires sales reach-out.

Alongside notifications, you can also create
automated tasks for your sales team to contact leads based on certain criteria.
That way you know your sales reps are always clear on the next action they need
to take, without wasting time trying to figure out priorities.


When you align
your sales and marketing
, you reap the benefits in every
area of your business. Automation is one of the best ways to create a smoother
bridge between your teams, as well as boosting overall productivity, response
times, and personalized outreach to contacts.

Ahead of your next sales
and marketing meeting, why not make a note to discuss how you can use automated
processes to improve your business performance and synergy

The post How to use automation to create a smooth link between sales and marketing appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

 Web design differences between B2C & B2B (and what works for both!)

Web design is a powerful way to appeal to the type of person who wants to buy your product. But how does it differ between B2C versus B2B? Understanding the differences in web design best practices between consumer retail and business sales is key to succeeding in e-commerce, especially if you’re transitioning or expanding your offering.

Understanding your buyer

B2B and B2C buyers have similarities, but in many respects, they’re very different. Throughout the article, keep in mind that the core difference between the two is the motivation of your audience:

  • B2B buyers’ primary goal is to solve a logical, objective problem. Their secondary goal is to show their superiors or stakeholders that they are valuable to the company.
  • B2C buyers’ primary goal may be to solve a logical, objective problem, but it may also be to fulfill an emotional need. Their secondary goal is to feel better about their quality of life.

In addition to their motivations, business buyers and consumers have expectations for what a “good” and “trustworthy” e-commerce website looks like, depending on your industry. This is why you’ll often find that competitors that are vying for the same audience will have very similar layouts, even if the design components – color, logo, content, and icons – are unique to each brand. You don’t want to be too different from your competitors, or your audience may subconsciously lose trust in your brand.

B2B buyers will also need a more complicated website design than B2C (generally speaking), as the price point is so much higher, and often, business products come with ongoing maintenance. An e-commerce website that sells to brands may require secure logins that lead to an existing customer portal, the ability to offer quantity-based pricing based on several factors, alternative payment methods and lines of credit, and buying approval controls, among other factors. On the other side of the spectrum, B2C e-commerce should aim to get customers to checkout as soon as possible and focus on removing any barriers to checkout. For personal consumers, often, the simpler the website, the more effective.

B2B and B2C design differences

B2B buyers are looking for a solution to a problem that their organization faces, which means that they’re looking for details and proof of value when they examine vendor’s e-commerce websites. They’re also looking for a solution that makes them look intelligent and resourceful to their boss or board members – which is an important detail to remember when working on your web design. The best product will be passed over if the website looks silly or untrustworthy, because your lead either won’t trust it themselves, or won’t feel comfortable sharing it with their team.

B2C customers are also looking for a website that looks trustworthy, but it’s often not their main priority (as long as it doesn’t look untrustworthy). For many retail purchases, the customer is looking for a website that shows them a lifestyle that they aspire to, or that makes them feel good about themselves. They don’t need to justify their purchase to anyone else, so the focus is on persuading the current viewer that your product will make them happier.

Calls to action

Because B2B buyers work with a team to decide on purchases, and must justify their choice to several people, web design that appeals to businesses should allow for a much longer sales cycle than B2C sales.

To appeal to the business buyer, make sure that your calls to action don’t appear prematurely on your e-commerce website. This means avoiding big calls to action that demand a purchase immediately – they’re just unrealistic, as most B2B buyers will need to return to your site at least five times before they’re ready to contact you.

Instead, focus on CTAs that drive your viewers towards further information, such as your blog or resources related to the product they viewed, and that result in you capturing contact information such as their email address. Getting contact info will give you a path to reactivate their interest later down the line, and keep the conversation going over time. Pique viewers interests with account registrations, free quote requests, whitepaper downloads, and other sign-ups that offer immediate value with little risk.

On the other hand, B2C customers may react favorably to calls to action. Our favorite example is our client Joe Grooming: on their website, we kept a minimalist design, but added the detail that every “buy” button on their product pages matches the unique Pantone color assigned to the product.

Length and detail of content

According to Komarketing’s 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, 46% of B2B buyers report rejecting potential vendors because their website is unclear about what exactly they do. That same report also found that 42% left e-commerce websites immediately when served an animated ad or popup (such as for e-books or mailing signups).

When creating your B2B web design, keep in mind that your viewer is busy, under pressure, and looking for answers. They don’t want to be distracted and feeling like their time being wasted will make them move on to your competitors’ websites.

The bottom line: your B2B website needs more content than a B2C e-commerce site, but you must be strategic in what content you produce. Focus on articles, original surveys, and detailed product descriptions that compliment your homepage that states clearly and succinctly what your company does.

A great example of a brand that hits all these points is Polycom, one of – if not the – most ubiquitous office telecom brands. Their e-commerce website focuses on making it very clear where visitors should click, almost to a fault, with this grid, which appears right below their hero image:

By literally spelling out the most likely thoughts a viewer may have when they navigate to the site, Polycom is able to minimize the amount of time visitors spend between seeing the home page and finding a product that solves their problem.

Web design principles that apply to both B2B and B2C

While the goals and motivations of B2B and B2C customers differ, you’re still appealing to people who want to feel good about buying from your brand. Focus on how you can assure each customer that your brand is watching out for them, and they’ve made the right choice and gotten the best deal. If your e-commerce site effectively communicates these things, you’ll see your sales – and loyal customers – increase steadily.

Intuitive navigation

Nobody wants to spend time clicking around a cluttered website. A disorganized online presence is one of the most reliable ways to drive away customers, no matter if you sell makeup or enterprise software. Focus on making web design choices that intuitively prompt users towards the next step in their customer journey, without taking them on any unnecessary detours.

Emotional appeals

Both consumers and business buyers want to emotionally connect to your brand, as well as feel like they made the right logical choice. In fact, according to CMSWire, 10 to 40 percent of consumers form emotional attachments to brand before purchasing, and over 50 percent of business buyers felt emotionally connected to their vendors. If you’re wondering why, try to imagine trusting a group of people for purely logical reasons – it’s almost impossible. We’re all human, after all.

When you create your web design, make sure that it appeals to your customers’ hearts as well as their minds. A quick cheat sheet: include images with people in them, especially if they’re making eye contact with the user. Understand the emotional impact of color schemes. Lastly, write your content as if you’re speaking to the person reading it.

Performance optimization

Last but not least, a site that doesn’t load quickly, has buttons that don’t work, or is otherwise sloppy in its execution will kill your brand. According to Kissmetrics, your site should load in under 3 second, with 2 seconds being ideal. Think the stakes aren’t high enough? 79% of shoppers that leave your website because it’s slow will never come back, and 44% will tell their friends about it.

When creating your web design – or selecting a web designer – make sure to prioritize page load time. If it comes down to that high-quality animation playing in the background, or shaving a few seconds off your load time, pick the latter.

If you don’t like it, neither will they

At the end of the day, much of web design is about common sense. Does your site look appropriate for your customers? Does it work correctly? Can your visitors find what they’re looking for? Great web design answers all of these questions with a resounding “yes!”

Remember, no matter who you’re selling to, they’re a human who wants to feel that they’re making the right choice. Your web design is the primary way that they learn what your brand stands for, who your products are meant for, and whether they can trust you – so make sure you’re communicating with your audience effectively by investing in a great website.

The post  Web design differences between B2C & B2B (and what works for both!) appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

dotmailer becomes EU-U.S. Privacy Shield certified

On 12 August we were accepted for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s voluntary privacy certification program. The news is a great milestone for dotmailer, because it recognizes the years of work we’ve put into protecting our customers’ data and privacy. For instance, just look at our comprehensive trust center and involvement in both the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and Email Sender & Provider Coalition (ESPC).

To become certified our Chief Privacy Officer, James Koons, made the application to the U.S. Department of Commerce, who audited dotmailer’s privacy statement. (Interesting fact: James actually completed the application process while on vacation climbing Mt. Rainer in Washington state!)

By self-certifying and agreeing to the Privacy Shield Principles, it means that our commitment is enforceable under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What does it mean for you (our customers)?

As we continue to expand globally, this certification is one more important privacy precedent. The aim of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which was recently finalized, provides businesses with stronger protection for the exchange of transatlantic data. If you haven’t seen it already, you might be interested in reading about the recent email privacy war between Microsoft and the U.S. government.

As a certified company, it means we must provide you with adequate privacy protection – a requirement for the transfer of personal data outside of the European Union under the EU Data Protection Directive. Each year, we must self-certify to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), to ensure we adhere to the Privacy Shield Principles.

What does our Chief Privacy Officer think?

James Koons, who has 20 years’ experience in the information systems and security industry, explained why he’s pleased about the news: “I am delighted that dotmailer has been recognized as a good steward of data through the Privacy Shield Certification.

“As a company that has a culture of privacy and security as its core, I believe the certification simply highlights the great work we have already been doing.”

What happened to the Safe Harbour agreement?

The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield replaces the former Safe Harbour agreement for transatlantic data transfers.

Want to know more about what the Privacy Shield means?

You can check out the official Privacy Shield website here, which gives a more detailed overview of the program and requirements for participating organizations.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Distance from Perfect

Posted by wrttnwrd

In spite of all the advice, the strategic discussions and the conference talks, we Internet marketers are still algorithmic thinkers. That’s obvious when you think of SEO.

Even when we talk about content, we’re algorithmic thinkers. Ask yourself: How many times has a client asked you, “How much content do we need?” How often do you still hear “How unique does this page need to be?”

That’s 100% algorithmic thinking: Produce a certain amount of content, move up a certain number of spaces.

But you and I know it’s complete bullshit.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the algorithm. You should definitely chase it. Understanding a little bit about what goes on in Google’s pointy little head helps. But it’s not enough.

A tale of SEO woe that makes you go “whoa”

I have this friend.

He ranked #10 for “flibbergibbet.” He wanted to rank #1.

He compared his site to the #1 site and realized the #1 site had five hundred blog posts.

“That site has five hundred blog posts,” he said, “I must have more.”

So he hired a few writers and cranked out five thousand blogs posts that melted Microsoft Word’s grammar check. He didn’t move up in the rankings. I’m shocked.

“That guy’s spamming,” he decided, “I’ll just report him to Google and hope for the best.”

What happened? Why didn’t adding five thousand blog posts work?

It’s pretty obvious: My, uh, friend added nothing but crap content to a site that was already outranked. Bulk is no longer a ranking tactic. Google’s very aware of that tactic. Lots of smart engineers have put time into updates like Panda to compensate.

He started like this:

And ended up like this:
more posts, no rankings

Alright, yeah, I was Mr. Flood The Site With Content, way back in 2003. Don’t judge me, whippersnappers.

Reality’s never that obvious. You’re scratching and clawing to move up two spots, you’ve got an overtasked IT team pushing back on changes, and you’ve got a boss who needs to know the implications of every recommendation.

Why fix duplication if rel=canonical can address it? Fixing duplication will take more time and cost more money. It’s easier to paste in one line of code. You and I know it’s better to fix the duplication. But it’s a hard sell.

Why deal with 302 versus 404 response codes and home page redirection? The basic user experience remains the same. Again, we just know that a server should return one home page without any redirects and that it should send a ‘not found’ 404 response if a page is missing. If it’s going to take 3 developer hours to reconfigure the server, though, how do we justify it? There’s no flashing sign reading “Your site has a problem!”

Why change this thing and not that thing?

At the same time, our boss/client sees that the site above theirs has five hundred blog posts and thousands of links from sites selling correspondence MBAs. So they want five thousand blog posts and cheap links as quickly as possible.

Cue crazy music.

SEO lacks clarity

SEO is, in some ways, for the insane. It’s an absurd collection of technical tweaks, content thinking, link building and other little tactics that may or may not work. A novice gets exposed to one piece of crappy information after another, with an occasional bit of useful stuff mixed in. They create sites that repel search engines and piss off users. They get more awful advice. The cycle repeats. Every time it does, best practices get more muddled.

SEO lacks clarity. We can’t easily weigh the value of one change or tactic over another. But we can look at our changes and tactics in context. When we examine the potential of several changes or tactics before we flip the switch, we get a closer balance between algorithm-thinking and actual strategy.

Distance from perfect brings clarity to tactics and strategy

At some point you have to turn that knowledge into practice. You have to take action based on recommendations, your knowledge of SEO, and business considerations.

That’s hard when we can’t even agree on subdomains vs. subfolders.

I know subfolders work better. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Let the flaming comments commence.

To get clarity, take a deep breath and ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will this change, tactic, or strategy move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Breaking it down:

“Change, tactic, or strategy”

A change takes an existing component or policy and makes it something else. Replatforming is a massive change. Adding a new page is a smaller one. Adding ALT attributes to your images is another example. Changing the way your shopping cart works is yet another.

A tactic is a specific, executable practice. In SEO, that might be fixing broken links, optimizing ALT attributes, optimizing title tags or producing a specific piece of content.

A strategy is a broader decision that’ll cause change or drive tactics. A long-term content policy is the easiest example. Shifting away from asynchronous content and moving to server-generated content is another example.

“Perfect”

No one knows exactly what Google considers “perfect,” and “perfect” can’t really exist, but you can bet a perfect web page/site would have all of the following:

  1. Completely visible content that’s perfectly relevant to the audience and query
  2. A flawless user experience
  3. Instant load time
  4. Zero duplicate content
  5. Every page easily indexed and classified
  6. No mistakes, broken links, redirects or anything else generally yucky
  7. Zero reported problems or suggestions in each search engines’ webmaster tools, sorry, “Search Consoles”
  8. Complete authority through immaculate, organically-generated links

These 8 categories (and any of the other bazillion that probably exist) give you a way to break down “perfect” and help you focus on what’s really going to move you forward. These different areas may involve different facets of your organization.

Your IT team can work on load time and creating an error-free front- and back-end. Link building requires the time and effort of content and outreach teams.

Tactics for relevant, visible content and current best practices in UX are going to be more involved, requiring research and real study of your audience.

What you need and what resources you have are going to impact which tactics are most realistic for you.

But there’s a basic rule: If a website would make Googlebot swoon and present zero obstacles to users, it’s close to perfect.

“All other things being equal”

Assume every competing website is optimized exactly as well as yours.

Now ask: Will this [tactic, change or strategy] move you closer to perfect?

That’s the “all other things being equal” rule. And it’s an incredibly powerful rubric for evaluating potential changes before you act. Pretend you’re in a tie with your competitors. Will this one thing be the tiebreaker? Will it put you ahead? Or will it cause you to fall behind?

“Closer to perfect than my competitors”

Perfect is great, but unattainable. What you really need is to be just a little perfect-er.

Chasing perfect can be dangerous. Perfect is the enemy of the good (I love that quote. Hated Voltaire. But I love that quote). If you wait for the opportunity/resources to reach perfection, you’ll never do anything. And the only way to reduce distance from perfect is to execute.

Instead of aiming for pure perfection, aim for more perfect than your competitors. Beat them feature-by-feature, tactic-by-tactic. Implement strategy that supports long-term superiority.

Don’t slack off. But set priorities and measure your effort. If fixing server response codes will take one hour and fixing duplication will take ten, fix the response codes first. Both move you closer to perfect. Fixing response codes may not move the needle as much, but it’s a lot easier to do. Then move on to fixing duplicates.

Do the 60% that gets you a 90% improvement. Then move on to the next thing and do it again. When you’re done, get to work on that last 40%. Repeat as necessary.

Take advantage of quick wins. That gives you more time to focus on your bigger solutions.

Sites that are “fine” are pretty far from perfect

Google has lots of tweaks, tools and workarounds to help us mitigate sub-optimal sites:

  • Rel=canonical lets us guide Google past duplicate content rather than fix it
  • HTML snapshots let us reveal content that’s delivered using asynchronous content and JavaScript frameworks
  • We can use rel=next and prev to guide search bots through outrageously long pagination tunnels
  • And we can use rel=nofollow to hide spammy links and banners

Easy, right? All of these solutions may reduce distance from perfect (the search engines don’t guarantee it). But they don’t reduce it as much as fixing the problems.
Just fine does not equal fixed

The next time you set up rel=canonical, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using rel=canonical to make up for duplication move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: Not if they’re using rel=canonical, too. You’re both using imperfect solutions that force search engines to crawl every page of your site, duplicates included. If you want to pass them on your way to perfect, you need to fix the duplicate content.

When you use Angular.js to deliver regular content pages, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using HTML snapshots instead of actual, visible content move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: No. Just no. Not in your wildest, code-addled dreams. If I’m Google, which site will I prefer? The one that renders for me the same way it renders for users? Or the one that has to deliver two separate versions of every page?

When you spill banner ads all over your site, ask yourself…

You get the idea. Nofollow is better than follow, but banner pollution is still pretty dang far from perfect.

Mitigating SEO issues with search engine-specific tools is “fine.” But it’s far, far from perfect. If search engines are forced to choose, they’ll favor the site that just works.

Not just SEO

By the way, distance from perfect absolutely applies to other channels.

I’m focusing on SEO, but think of other Internet marketing disciplines. I hear stuff like “How fast should my site be?” (Faster than it is right now.) Or “I’ve heard you shouldn’t have any content below the fold.” (Maybe in 2001.) Or “I need background video on my home page!” (Why? Do you have a reason?) Or, my favorite: “What’s a good bounce rate?” (Zero is pretty awesome.)

And Internet marketing venues are working to measure distance from perfect. Pay-per-click marketing has the quality score: A codified financial reward applied for seeking distance from perfect in as many elements as possible of your advertising program.

Social media venues are aggressively building their own forms of graphing, scoring and ranking systems designed to separate the good from the bad.

Really, all marketing includes some measure of distance from perfect. But no channel is more influenced by it than SEO. Instead of arguing one rule at a time, ask yourself and your boss or client: Will this move us closer to perfect?

Hell, you might even please a customer or two.

One last note for all of the SEOs in the crowd. Before you start pointing out edge cases, consider this: We spend our days combing Google for embarrassing rankings issues. Every now and then, we find one, point, and start yelling “SEE! SEE!!!! THE GOOGLES MADE MISTAKES!!!!” Google’s got lots of issues. Screwing up the rankings isn’t one of them.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 3 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it