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The middle of the funnel has never been more important for B2B marketers. In an era in which nine out of ten business buyers say they don’t want to talk until they are ready to come to you, marketing must now go beyond simply gathering responses to actually managing prospect relationships over time.

The trouble, however, is that prospects at this stage of funnel are invariably the hardest to reach. In order to nurture effectively, businesses must distribute content that is of genuine interest to the recipient and presented in a way that makes this immediately obvious.

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Lead scoring is the most important area to get right with marketing automation, so we have prepared some useful tips for anyone new to the field.

Regardless of how customer-centric your content is or how well you know your buyers, without a laser-focused scoring methodology in place the process of automating journeys through the sales funnel will be flawed.

We are consistently staggered by how many marketing automation users are willing to start  their marketing automation journey with a platform’s default scoring rules. This is based on an erroneous assumption that there is a “one size fits all” solution.

Every business we’ve encountered that’s started with default scoring rules has gone back to the drawing board somewhere down the line, as they are hit with the realisation that their buyers are not moving at a pace relative to their level of knowledge. Lead scoring must be established at the start, and it must be handled as precisely as any other part of your strategy.

Here are our four top tips for effective lead scoring: Continue reading …

Is using B2B video marketing in your business worthwhile? According to this piece in B2B Marketing by Victoria Clarke, it definitely is. Here’s our take on the subject.

In March, software producer HighQ published statistics showing that 80% of senior executives watch more online video now than they did last year. What’s more, 75% of business executives dedicate weekly time to watching videos about work-related topics.

One of the main reasons B2B video marketing is taking off is the availability of better equipment and distribution methods on a smaller budget. It’s now fairly straightforward and inexpensive to produce high-quality videos and animation, and there are dozens of options for distribution. This newfound flexibility has allowed companies to compile libraries of webinars, informational videos, and even animated infographics with very little outlay.

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Demand generation is not easy. While some may suggest otherwise, those who must concern themselves with it on a daily basis are only too aware of the increasing number of plates that must be spun to bring leads into the top of the funnel in today’s rapidly moving digital world.

These days, it’s not enough to know about the changes in your own industry. You must keep up to date with changes in digital channels; you must familiarise yourself with Google algorithm updates; and you must recognise the ways in which your buyers research, evaluate and decide. And that’s just the beginning.

Marketing automation is now well established as the best technology to manage the nurturing of leads through the middle of the funnel, and CRM as the platform for sales teams to keep track of MQLs and existing customers. However, a new breed of technology is emerging to aid with top-of-the-funnel lead acquisition and help demand generation marketers to make processes quicker and more data-driven than ever before. Continue reading …

Marketing automation is all about sales enablement, but in the marketing world in general a considerable gap still exists between Marketing and Sales. This is particularly true when it comes to content. A recent article by Adweek with an infographic by Highspot highlights some of the main issues, and gives marketers some areas to focus on when it comes to making the most of what they have, and using it to enable sales.

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Lead generation makes up a vital component in any demand generation strategy. But how can small businesses compete with their larger rivals when they have fewer resources and opportunities to generate leads? The answer is that there are several ways to compete in a larger market while using B2B lead generation techniques that work for small businesses. Here’s a list of three of the best.

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There are numerous challenges involved in building a business case for marketing automation, and one of them is showing evidence of success. The recent blog post from CMS Critic provides ten great statistics on using MA; read on our take on five of those stats and information about how to make the most of them.

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Small businesses are constantly trying to combine growing their enterprise with day-to-day tasks. Fortunately, marketing automation offers an alternative to time-consuming strategies. As the recent blog from Business2Community, How to Market Like You’re Twice Your Size, states, automating marketing allows SMEs to make the most of their resources even if they are limited.

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Ignore the naysayers; email marketing is here to stay.

73% of marketers agree that email marketing remains core to their business (Marketing Cloud) while 69.7% of internet users in the US say email is their preferred method of communicating with businesses (eMarketer).

What has changed, however, is how winning businesses market via email. While the core aim is the same, to reach the right people at the right time, the old approach of throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks is completely ineffective at a time when tools exist to make correspondence highly contextual.

With this in mind, we’re offering our five top tips for businesses seeking to improve email performance. If this is something you’d like to hear about in more depth, then check out our guide, Generating More Lead at Lower Cost Continue reading …

16469-NQRBMZTake it from us, juggling different marketing automation platforms can be a tricky task.

Used to Act-On? You’ll not find a “content folder” on Salesfusion or Pardot. Salesfusion? Good luck finding the “web forensics tracker” on other platforms. And Pardot? Expect faces in screensaver mode when talking about “custom redirects” to non-users.

The truth is while marketers’ sophistication with MA is advancing at a dizzying rate, subtle terminology changes can make learning a new platform feel a bit like juggling on a moving pavement.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together terms from three of the strongest platforms for SMEs – Pardot, Act-On and Salesfusion – and highlighted twelve differences you will need to know to unveil the MA juggler in you.

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While on holiday recently, a particularly violent thunderstorm led to the death of my trusty digital camera. It had a good life – operating flawlessly for close to five years and snapping most of the pictures that now adorn the walls in both my office and house. But it was time to move on. I chose not to replace it like-for-like, as I now knew the basics of photography and was hungry for more. I wanted a higher end camera, and I wanted to make sure I was buying the best for my ambitions, whatever the cost.

So I looked online. I used social media. I sought impartial reviews. Read technical articles. Compared image quality. I spoke to a photographer friend. I searched for the kind of photography I was most interested in and the features I should look for to achieve the best results.

Armed with this knowledge, I visited a well-known high street store only to discover I was the saleperson’s worst enemy; the educated consumer. Sure, he could point me to the best discounts and tell me what this season’s bestseller was. However, when I enquired about performance, sensor sizes or anything else remotely technical, his face instantly slipped into screensaver mode. Continue reading …

Following on from our recent blog post looking at B2B marketing predictions for 2016 we take a further look at email marketing. What changes are we going to see in email marketing in 2016? And what can marketers do to make sure they stay on top of the latest new trends? Continue reading …

B2B marketing is plagued by two types of email disengagement: the “blanket unsubscribe” and the “emotional unsubscribe”. Every email unsubscribe is difficult for marketers to recover from, and when they happen it may seem like all is lost (at least with that prospect). However, there are ways around the issue, especially if you are willing to invest time and energy in strategy and content.

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In a recent piece in CMO Magazine, Corporate Visions’ Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Tim Riesterer, advised companies on the best way to go beyond lead generation and drive sales enablement in the new era of marketing. Here’s our take on some of his advice.

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Presenting a customer with a dessert before they’ve had a chance to look at the starters is not an approach likely to be adopted by any successful restaurants. Similarly, a B2B business dishing up a pricing guide to an early stage lead will only succeed in putting the buyer off and denting the business’s own reputation.

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keyboard-311803The 80s was a crazy time; a decade of shoulder pads, space hoppers, Rick Astley and eccentric parents naming kids after their favourite combination of typewriter keys.

Not familiar with the last one? Then you’re obviously not the salesperson who has been dumping emails addressed to “Dear qwerty” in my inbox for the past three months.

The background to the story is simple and I’m sure most of you can guess what happened. I downloaded something from a business’s site, was presented with a form that was too long, and lazily entered false details to make the process quicker. In truth, I don’t even remember doing it.

Now some may argue that this is just an unfortunate consequence. The company cannot feasibly spell check every new inbound lead and then research the right details associated with the email address – besides, this would potentially introduce a “creep factor” for a recipient who has already given a clear sign that they do not wish to be contacted.

In reality, this is where the lines between B2C and B2B remain distinct at a time when blurring is occurring in almost all other areas. Continue reading …

Investment in marketing automation is not only about generating and nurturing new leads towards a sale. The most innovative B2B companies have recognised the technology’s potential to transform others areas of their business and use MA to build communication programs that are not necessarily geared towards selling more.

With this in mind, here are four of the most innovative uses we’ve seen of marketing automation in the past year.

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Making a business case for marketing automation can be tricky when your company already has a CRM system in place.

But let’s get one thing clear: that’s not because the two are so similar. In reality, reluctance to unite indicates a failure to understand the buying journey of the modern day customer.

Now more than ever, the onus is on marketers to manage prospect relationships over time and educate them with relevant, customer-centric content until they are sales ready. Continue reading …

Earlier this year, we produced a paper that suggested the polar opposite of what most in B2B marketing say – that content is, in actual fact, NOT king. It is possible to produce too much content – if it’s the wrong kind.

We love great content. We know how big a part it has to play in a successful B2B marketing strategy, and it’ll continue to be prevalent in our own marketing efforts in the future. However, we want our clients to remember that content is merely a tactic within a wider strategy. If content is to be successful, it must be part of a framework that ensures it is being distributed to the right people at the right time.

Some live by the mantra “more is more”: the idea that the more places they have a presence and the more prospects they are touching, the better it is for the long-term success of the company. Pure and simple, they want content and they want it as often as possible.

But let’s take a step back and consider the downside of this. We advise our clients to assess the effort vs return when it comes to content, and consider if any of the following problems have started to occur as a result of trying to do much.

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Email marketing may be as old as the internet itself but it remains one of the toughest nuts to crack for B2B businesses. That’s because while the drip campaign delivery method has remained unchanged, the kind of content that B2B buyers expect has been transformed in recent years.

In today’s era of information abundance and self-education, the only way to be heard through the noise is to provide messages of genuine value that address the precise pain points of the recipient. Data-driven marketing has facilitated a change by enabling the most forward-thinking B2B businesses to use the changes in buyer behaviour to their advantage. While success stories are interesting for those businesses aspiring to do the same, they have also set the bar high.

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