Monthly Archives: August 2010

Great B2B Email Copywriters: Where Are You?

Lead Nurturing depends on great content. Not just eBooks, blog posts and webinars, but especially email content. Email is still the most effective way to promote your content, but it’s hard to get noticed in today’s overflowing inbox. However, a good email can make the difference between a 2% click rate and a 12% click rate.

The email text itself is not the only thing that matters. It also includes the ‘from’ address, the subject and the offer that you’re presenting. You really need to understand direct response marketing, but apply it to the email medium.

Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find good copywriters for email. Most copywriters focus on whitepapers and press releases, fewer copywriters are good at direct marketing, and even fewer can apply direct marketing best practices to email marketing. And some of those are exclusively B2C.

Is there really a difference between a B2C and a B2B copywriter? I think the principle for writing great emails is the same, but the tone-of-voice will be different in B2B, and it can be lot harder to understand the topic: everyone knows what car insurance is, but it can take a while to understand complex corporate insurance policies.

So good emails can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your lead nurturing program, but the people who can help you with this are hard to find. That is the reason why certain specialized B2B copywriters like Ivan Levison can charge a serious amount per email (see a recent interview with Ivan).

What is your take: are B2B email copywriters a seriously scarce resource, or is it a coincidence that I know several companies that have trouble finding someone like that?

PS. If you are a copywriter specializing in B2B email, please leave a comment or send me an email. I know several companies who are looking for someone with your skills.

PPS. If you are a B2B Marketer and currently looking for email copywriting skills, also please let me know. I may be able to match you with a copywriter who responds.

Social Media & Marketing Automation

This week there was a discussion about Social Media and Marketing Automation in the LinkedIn Group of the Marketing Automation Association. Around the same time I got an email announcing Marketo’s Chatter for Sales Insight, integrating sales notifications in the Facebook-like interface of Chatter. Then I remembered that Pardot also recently announced new social features, called Pardot Social Insight. I asked myself:

Does Marketing Automation Get Social?

How can Social Media be integrated with Marketing Automation? How useful is this? Is it easy for the vendors to implement?

I started researching this, and I found five ways to add Social Media features to Marketing Automation:

  • Share to Social
  • Social Media ROI
  • Lead Intelligence
  • Collaboration
  • Social Media Monitoring

Share to Social

Many vendors make it easy to add “share to Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/etc.” buttons to emails and landing pages. In my opinion, this is a no-brainer: every Marketing Automation system should offer this. It’s an easy way to promote your social initiatives and it’s simple to do. It gets more advanced if you can actually track who shared your information, and whether it brings additional visitors to your website, but the core idea is pretty simple.

Social Media ROI

This one is getting more interesting, because it allows you to track Social Media as a lead source, all the way to revenue. This is either done by analyzing the HTTP referrer or by posting a tracking link on the Social Networks. On top of that, some vendors offer a built-in URL shortener, such as’s gURLs and SalesFusion’s IttyBitty (which isn’t very short by the way: My take: this is a real must because it can show the value of your Social Media investments. And it’s also not that complicated. The tracking and ROI mechanism is already built into most Marketing Automation systems, so it just needs to be extended to Social Media.

Lead Intelligence

Pardot’s Social Insight is focused on Lead Intelligence. It will find a prospect’s Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profile, and it will pull relevant information into the Marketing Automation system. And because it’s synced with the CRM, all this info is also available to the sales people. If you want, you can also use this information for lead scoring. This is something that is easy to implement: for example, Pardot uses the Rapleaf service. It provides Sales People with background information on leads before they make the first call.


The most critical collaboration is between Marketing and Sales. Sales works with a CRM system, so integrating with the CRM system’s social features is a smart idea. And that’s exactly what Marketo announced. They provide sales updates via Salesforce Chatter, an idea I outlined in a blog post earlier this year. And was the first to implement this a couple of months ago. Again, a simple idea that really helps close the gap between sales & marketing.

Social Media Monitoring

The discussion in the LinkedIn Group talked about HubSpot’s Social Media features, one of which is Social Media Monitoring. HubSpot integrates these features into its software, because it wants to be the one-stop marketing software for small businesses (and mid-size companies, although they’re not there yet). Every day it tells you where relevant discussions are going on, so you can join in. It’s pretty independent from other marketing automation features. Therefore I would recommend that mid-size companies get a dedicated solution for social media monitoring. Maybe in a couple of years, it makes sense to integrate social media monitoring and marketing automation into a comprehensive B2B Marketing Suite, but for now I give it a low priority.

To All Marketing Automation Users: “Demand Social Media!”

The first four Social Media integrations are all extremely valuable and really simple to implement. My question is: why don’t all vendors have these features in place already? If you’re a Marketing Automation user or if you’re evaluating systems, ask your vendor for these features. Social Media may still be an emerging marketing tool, but that makes it extra important to show the ROI. And that’s exactly where Marketing Automation can help.

Let me know your take: do you agree with these 5 categories? Which vendors do a great job?

Live Webinar: Lead Nurturing – Best Practices That Need to Die!

Many B2B marketers have too many leads in their database who have never been followed up on. Which “best practices” are holding you back from generating additional revenue from your existing leads? Tuesday at 10am PT.

Register now »

Finding Untapped Revenue in Your Marketing Database

It’s sort-of like living on top of a goldmine, but you have to dig to get to the gold. Lead Nurturing takes a lot of effort, but it’ll pay itself back ten times over. With a solid nurturing strategy you’ll find new sales opportunities from leads who you thought were not interested. But how do you create a solid lead nurturing plan?

In Manticore’s Quintessential Marketing Automation GuideBook I’ve written a chapter on how to find untapped revenue in your marketing database. It consists of 6 steps that are guaranteed to uncover new opportunities:

  1. Choose The Right Audience
  2. Know All About Your Audience
  3. Create Content That Your Audience Needs
  4. Make Offers They Can’t Refuse
  5. Have Conversations
  6. Collaborate With Your Sales Team

My chapter is only 1 of the 10 chapters in this book. Several of the leading marketing practitioners and consultants have written chapters on topics ranging from sales & marketing collaboration to conversion optimization and content marketing:

  • Jill Konrath: Candid Letter from Sales to Marketing
  • Craig Rosenberg: Process, People, and Content: The Keys to Success with Marketing Automation Technology
  • Jeff Erramouspe: You Need Good Technology, But…
  • Sue Hay & Cari Baldwin: Supercharge Your Demand Generation with Marketing Automation
  • Andrew Gaffney: Focus on the Marketing Metrics That Matter
  • Ardath Albee: Use Content Intelligence to Drive Pipeline Momentum
  • Robert Walmsley: Why Marketing Automation is a Must-Have For Every B2B VP of Sales
  • Brain Massey: Conversion Stack: Marketing Automation for Performance Marketers
  • Jonathan Block: A Roadmap to Marketing Automation Success

So a great guidebook, chock-full with valuable advice on marketing automation and lead management. Download it here.

What Lead Nurturing Content to Send When?

On Thursday I’m presenting a webinar with Treehouse Interactive, called “Lead Nurturing 101”. One of the registrants sent me the following question:

How much of this webinar will be about content, i.e. exactly what to say in each subsequent email in a series designed to move someone from prospect stage to buying stage?

The webinar will only cover this briefly, so therefore I’m giving some more details this blog post. By the way, you can still register for the webinar.

What Is Lead Nurturing Content?

Lead Nurturing content contains information that prospects need to make a purchase decision. It can come in various formats: (blog) articles, whitepapers, webinars, videos, podcasts, and so on. The content can be on the vendor’s website, it can be sent out via email, or sent out by sales people. In this post I’ll focus on content that is sent out via automated email campaigns (drip campaigns).

Mapping Content to Buying Stages

Different people need different content at different times. You can develop buyer personas and describe the content they need in the various buying stages. This process is called ‘content mapping’. Steve woods wrote a great primer on content mapping. With content mapping you can make sure that you cover all questions and objections that typically come up during the buying process.

However, it can be hard to apply content mapping to email nurturing. On your website, prospects will select the content they find interesting themselves, but in an email you are making a choice for them. So how do know what content they need at what time?

One option would be to assume that all new leads are just starting their buying process and need 6 months to make a decision. But that’s not how it works in real life: different people have different needs and are on a different schedule. The solution is to learn more about your prospects before you decide what content to send to them.

Content for Nurturing Emails

So to send the right content by email, you need to monitor prospects’ behavior. Web visits, document downloads, form submissions and email clicks will all give you an indication of the stage prospects are in. Based on their actions, you can enter prospects in the most appropriate nurturing campaign.

For example, if prospects download a whitepaper on the trends in your industry, they may also be interested in analyst reports or customer case studies. Or if they register for a demo of your product, a logical next step my be a product trial or a free consultation.

Once prospects have been entered in a particular lead nurturing track, keep monitoring their responses. For example, if prospects who downloaded a whitepaper earlier are now registering for a demo, you may want to switch campaigns. When the drip campaign has come to an end before the prospects are ready to buy, enter them in a long-term nurturing campaign.

The Best Email Sequence

Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. If you know the email campaign, how do you decide which content should be in it, and in which order? I can share some approaches that work well for me in my consulting practice.

To determine the pieces of content, make a list of all the questions people typically ask in this stage. If you don’t know, ask your sales people, or simply call a couple of prospects and ask them. Also try to find out typical objections. Ideally, you provide content that addresses all questions and objections that prospects have in this stage of the buying process.

In your email campaign, start with a couple of educational emails that contain helpful content. The tone-of-voice of these emails should also be helpful (as opposed to being sales-oriented). Then start mixing in some more promotional content, which could be offers or product-related content. Once the campaign is running, carefully monitor open rates and click rates so you can optimize your messages. You’ll have to iterate a couple of times: it’s hard to create the ‘perfect’ campaign from the start.

Keeping It Manageable

There are only so many campaigns that you can realistically create. How can you keep it all manageable? My first recommendation is to focus on the most promising customer segments first. It’s better to do a great job nurturing the most important 20% of your prospects than do a bad job nurturing your entire database.

Second, keep the campaigns relatively simple. A simple but consistently executed campaign will give better results than a complex campaign that is hard to manage. It’s often best to start with linear campaigns: just sending one message after another, rather than branching based on the prospect’s behavior.

Let me know your tips for creating email nurturing content!

Live Webinar: Lead Nurturing 101

Learn how to nurture your leads and bring more revenue to your company. This webinar shows what you can do today to begin or enhance your lead nurturing programs. Thursday at 1pm PDT.

Register now »

MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Summit

San Francisco: October 4-5 / Boston: October 25-26

Just like last year, I will be a blogging partner for MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Summit. Again, they have created a great program for B2B Marketers, covering both lead generation and lead nurturing strategies.

What is nice about this summit is that most speakers are marketing practitioners, not vendors. Also, MarketingSherpa team members like Brian Carroll and Sergio Balegno are known for their excellent presentations.

Just some highlights:

  • Integrating Social Media with B2B Email – Daryl Nielson, Marketing Manager, Email B2B, HP and Mia Dand, B2B Social Media Marketing Manager, HP WW Enterprise Business Marketing
  • Lead Scoring and Nurturing – Melissa Centrella from Virgin HealthMiles
  • Content that Converts – Marko Muellner and Thom Schoeborn from Webtrends
  • Social Media for the B2B Marketer – Alex Plant from NetApp and Natascha Thomson from SAP
  • Balancing Your Marketing Portfolio: Choosing the Right Mix of Tactics to Maximize ROI on a Limited Budget – Greg Sherry from Verint Systems

More info on the program »

LeadSloth Discount: $500 extra off

MarketingSherpa has been very kind to create a special offer for LeadSloth readers. Normally the event is $1,695, regular discount is $200, but you get an extra $500 off. That makes $995. I think that’s a very good deal.

Visit this registration page to get the discount »

Tip: if you’re coming to the San Francisco summit and you like affordable and delicious Thai food, check out Siam Thai: it’s inside the Parc 55 hotel where the conference takes place.

5 Questions That Will Double Your Email Response Rates

Great lead nurturing content starts with great email copy. So I’ve created 5 questions to ask yourself when writing email copy. If you use these questions to optimize your emails, you’ll see a spectacular increase in response rates.

Want to see more?

In just 30 minutes, the webinar will show you how to:
– create more content than you ever thought possible
– map content to personas and buying stages
– link this all to your marketing automation processes

View the Webinar recording »

Also please let me know your comments on this video!

25 Great B2B Content Marketing Articles

While doing research for my webinar on creating content that converts, I found many great articles on B2B Content Marketing. Here are the 25 articles that I liked best. Most are blog posts, but I’ve also included some eBooks.

My focus is on B2B, rather than B2C. Often, some of the basics are the same, but not always. For example, the complex sale is usually unique to B2B selling, and that’s when you would map content to stages in the buying cycle. So here are the articles:

Overview Articles

Joe Pulizzi, What is Content Marketing?

Michele Linn, A 7-Step Plan for Getting Started with Content Marketing

Doug Kessler, The B2B Content Marketing Workbook

Ardath Albee, 23 Reasons Why Content Marketing Fails

Adam Needles, What’s Behind the Rise of Content Marketing

Russell Sparkman, Creating Consistent Content – A Content Marketing Plan


Adam Needles, Why ‘Personas’ Are the Key to Achieving a ‘Mass One-to-one’ Strategy

Stephenie Tilton, Do You Have Any Idea Who You’re Talking To?

Adele Revella, How Kristine Developed a Great Buyer Persona

Tony Zambito, 10 Rules for Buyer Persona Development

Content Planning

Michele Linn, Is Less Content Better? 5 Steps to Simplify B2B Marketing Content

Stephenie Tilton, How Much B2B Content Is Enough?

Michele Linn, Need Content? 20 Formats to Consider

Ardath Albee, Content Marketing is for Customers Too!

Rick Burnes,5 Common Content Marketing Challenges — And Simple Solutions

Ardath Albee, Forgettable Follow-up on B2B Content Offers

Content Reuse

Ardath Albee, The Rule of 5 for B2B Content Development

Michele Linn, The Dos and Don’ts of B2B Content Reuse

Michele Linn, Got Content? 10 Steps to Repurpose Your Best B2B Assets

Joe Pulizzi, BtoB Content Marketing: Six Places to Find Hidden Content Gems

Content Mapping

Barbra Gago, Content Mapping 101 – part 1, part 2, part 3

Steve Woods, The Buying Process; Auditing your Content Assets

Steve Woods, The Content Gap – Lead Nurturing and Content Creation

Steve Woods, Buyer Roles, Buying Stages, and Perception Challenges

Jeffrey Ogden, Mapping marketing content across the buying cycle and personas

Please let me know if I forgot any seminal articles!

On-Demand Webinar: The Secret To Creating Lead Nurturing Content That Converts

With the right content strategy, leads will move through the buying process more quickly and you’ll boost your conversion rates. To learn how, view this 30-minute on-demand webinar.

View the Webinar recording »

Will Marketing Automation Be Free?

Today announced a free version of their Marketing Automation system. Only about a month ago, Loopfuse also started offering a free version of their Marketing Automation system. What does this mean for companies interested in adopting Marketing Automation?

How Much Is Free?

Let’s first look at the features of the free versions:

Users unlimited 5
Emails / month 5,000 2,500
Contacts 2,500 3,000
Pageviews / month 100,000 unlimited
Support community-driven community-driven

So these offerings are closely matched. Both are meant as ‘freemium’ offerings. They are great for small companies and small initial projects, but they’re too limited for normal projects. Companies will have to upgrade to the paid version as their initiatives grow. And of course, that’s what Loopfuse and hope for.

Why Free?

Why are they doing this? Loopfuse gives as the main reason that adoption rate of Marketing Automation is still very low (5-10%), and that a disruptive offering is needed to get the remaining 90-95% on board. This is supported by the main trends in the Marketing Automation market:

  • The product scope of all marketing automation vendors is quite similar
  • There is severe competition (30+ vendors)
  • Land grab is common, where vendors lower prices to get customers on board
  • Industry consolidation is starting (Market2lead acquired, LeadGenesys refocused)

My take: even though your project may be too large for these free versions, you may get a better deal for paid versions from whichever vendor. Just realize that this may not be a sustainable situation. Some vendors will sell below cost to gain market share, so higher prices or acquisitions may follow.

Will Other Vendors Follow?

Because the cost of offering a free version is low, other vendors may also want to create a free offering. But it’s not without its challenges. The key to success of a freemium model is to make the free version functional enough, while making premium version attractive enough so that a significant percentage of users will upgrade. Some of the other challenges:

  • The gap between the free and paid versions may be too big
  • ‘Free’ customers may lack the expertise to be successful
  • There may be too much cost in the vendor’s business model (e.g. expensive sales teams)

Loopfuse has published pricing for their paid products, and they have a low-overhead sales model. Also, their founders came from Red Hat, which has a very similar strategy of offering both free and premium products. Few other vendors are in a similar position, so my prediction is that free versions are not going to be a trend.

So What Does It Mean For You?

If your company is looking to adopt Marketing Automation, count on paying for your Marketing Automation system. Either you will go over the limits of the free version, or you will require support. Instead of focusing on free or cheap, choose a vendor that you trust, that best meets your requirements, and that provides excellent support.

Does that mean that these free versions are irrelevant? No. It’s great to try out marketing automation without the limits of a trial period or for small projects. Also, it may be a good solution for small and savvy organizations. But the overall impact on the market will be limited. So I don’t think it’s going to be a general trend. What is your take? Please leave a comment with your prediction…

Email Newsletters: a Best Practice That Needs to Die

DemandBase has just announced a webinar series called B2B Marketing Best Practices that Need to Die (I will present one of the sessions). Today, I’m working on my presentation for Monday’s lead nurturing webinar 7 steps to finding untapped revenue in your marketing database, where I’m presenting real best practices.

That made me think: in lead nurturing, are there any common “best practices” that are actually ineffective? Yes! For example, the monthly newsletter.

Today’s prospects are “crazy-busy” and “frazzled” according to Jill Konrath in her new book SNAP selling. I totally agree. If you send prospects an email, it better be relevant. If not, your email will be ignored, deleted or – worse – flagged as spam.

Monthly newsletters were a best practice in the early days of email marketing. They were designed to “stay in touch” and offer something of interest to everyone. In other words: it tried to be everything to everyone!

Newsletters break the primary rule of effective email marketing, that is: you need to segment your list to make messages relevant. A monthly newsletter is undifferentiated, and won’t please anybody. Instead, create unique messages for smaller segments of your database.

If you’d like a response to your email, you need to have a call-to-action. That works best if you have only 1 call-to-action per message. Again, this is where newsletters often go wrong: they try to promote a webinar, a whitepaper, and a new product, all in the same message. The result: terrible response rates for all of these call-to-actions.

Instead, segment your audience, figure out what they’re interested in, and send them targeted emails with only 1 topic and 1 call-to-action. And stop sending that monthly newsletter.

Learn How to Create Effective Lead Nurturing Campaigns

To learn more about creating effective lead nurturing campaigns using real best practices, please attend Monday’s webinar 7 steps to finding untapped revenue in your marketing database, hosted by Act-On Software.

Click here to view the webinar recording »

Assessing The Value of Your Lead Database

This Wednesday I’m presenting a webinar called “Search and Rescue” for your lead database, hosted by Loopfuse. It presents a 7-step process to generate revenue from existing leads, who were previously assumed “lost”.

Part of this process is assessing the value of your existing leads. Unfortunately, there is no exact answer for this. However, there are 7 questions that you can ask to get a feel for the value of the leads in your database.  See the video below for more details.

To get the full story, view the webinar:

View the Webinar now »