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The very first Econsultancy FUNNEL conference was held today at the Lancaster London, designed to help senior sales and marketing professionals understand the landscape around marketing automation and lead nurturing.
The conference was launched this year by Econsultancy to focus on the four core disciplines of revenue marketing – Attract, Engage, Nurture and Convert. With over 500 of the UK’s leading senior sales and marketing professionals in attendance and 28 seminars on the agenda, I was really looking forward to the event.
With four speakers on at any one time I couldn’t attend all the presentations, but the event was well organised and the rooms were of a good size so most people were able to avoid disappointment and catch the talks they were interested in.
The first talk I attended after registration was from Stefan Tornquist (@marketingStefan), VP, Research (US), Econsultancy.com: Making Automation Work
Stefan began by explaining that most companies fail in their marketing automation efforts and according to a survey they ran just 3% of businesses rate themselves excellent in this area.
He went on to say the poor economy is supporting the adoption of automation as acquisition is more difficult; and in general we have seen the sales cycle become longer over the last 10 years.
According to a recent Econsultancy survey 64% agree with the statement “Content is more important than advertising”.
Since 2008 there has been a 26% increase in spend on marketing automation technology. This trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Some of the key issues affecting the adoption of automation are:
Also on average it takes 3 months to implement a database and automation technology. This said, smaller business can be up and running within a month.
He then went onto say 27% of people surveyed say content is a challenge and how content should be multi-purpose, for example a white paper should also become a webinar helping you to become more efficient.
He made some interesting points about how automation should be creative – areas included targeted content, lead scoring, relevant SMS and dynamic site changes.
Stefan finished by saying like any form of marketing ongoing testing, analytics and optimisation is essential for success.
Next up was Alison Jones (@AliJones11), Marketing Manager, Coast Digital: Content Marketing to your sales funnel
MD Richard Brenkley could not be present today so Alison Jones was on hand to present in his place.
A key focus of the talk was that Sales & Marketing must work together to understand the needs of buyers.
Alison explained you must do your research before embarking on content marketing. Look at Demographic vs Phychographic – for example instead of just traditional demographics, are your prospects active online, where are they, what are they doing and what do they want.
In order to get the messaging right when creating the content ask your target market, utilise your key people/technical staff and don’t forget social media – listen and learn – and remember the question “what do people want?”
Alison then showed some research that 70% of b2b marketers start with a search. These days people don’t want to be dictated to or sold too; they want relevant high quality content. Content is at the heart of everything, so give people something of value. Differentiate, reassure and show you are the best.
Another point raised was that website content must never be an afterthought. So many people make the mistake of focusing on website look and feel and treat content as an afterthought; which is a big mistake.
Alison then talked about what types of content work best? Research has shown a mix of on and offline activity that is editorial based, informative, marketing backed and behaviour driven works best.
Different content formats could be:
In terms of distribution there are many outlets such as:
She then went onto say “measure everything!” Whether that be calls, leads, traffic or conversions make sure its tracked.
After the morning break was a ‘Chalk Talk’ by Alan Joenn, Marketing Director, Collier Pickard: Merging funnels
Alan Joenn gave a talk on how Collier Pickard had made a shift from push to pull marketing using Sage CRM Solutions.
He reiterated the point others had raised during the day about changing buying habits.
According to research from the likes of Garner 73% of decision makers say they don’t accept inbound sales calls and 90% say they make decisions following Internet research.
Alan discussed some interesting points about how Collier Pickard went through the following steps as part of their shift to pull marketing:
Instead of just looking at industry, geography and spend patterns to identify their ideal customer they extended their ideal customer model for inbound marketing:
Alan stated that this allowed the organisation to create one funnel driven by analytics and achieve some excellent results in terms of increased traffic and conversions.
Next on stage was Conor Dwyer, Account Manager, Marketo EMEA – The Secret Sauce to Sales and Marketing Alignment: Drive Revenue and Achieve Explosive Growth
Conor’s talk focused on how companies can expand lead flow, increase sales effectiveness and optimise sales and marketing effectiveness through automation.
Again there was an inference to how buying has changed. The example was how in 1960 there was an information scarcity, whereas today there is an abundance of information that a sales team should utilise, for example via business networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Conor talked about how the Marketo Revenue Cycle covers every stage from awareness to customer; utilising a nurturing database from marketing right through to sale.
The stages of the cycle are:
The key take aways from Conor were:
Another good tip most will have heard before was keep forms short – only ask for what you need. An interesting example was how with 9 fields Marketo saw a 10% conversion rate and with just 5 fields their conversion rate increased to 13.4%.
Conor then talked about Marketo ROI – For fast leads converting within 1 month there is no difference with or without nurturing. For leads taking over a month to convert ROI rises from 6.67% up to 20% with nurturing.
This was an interesting talk showing how you can generate fewer but higher quality leads, achieve higher win rates, shorter sales cycles and make the most of resource.
After a very nice lunch it was the turn of Lee Chadwick, Managing Director, CommuniGator Ltd, Girth – do you dream of a bigger one?
An interesting title! And I was intrigued to find out what the subject matter would be! (I don’t know what that says about me).
Luckily the key question being asked was “Do you know who is visiting your website?”
Most businesses spend on SEO, PPC, email and various other channels to drive visitors to their site, however depending on what stats you believe less than 1% of visitors will identify themselves to you.
Lee then explained how their software tells you:
1. Company details for a company they know via inbound IP as they hit your site (they have 70% of UK IP addresses on a database)
2. Company details for an email address you have previously sent too (cookie based)
They then rank visitors on 30 points of user engagement. This includes page scoring based on commercial intent (I.e. homepage 1 point, info or news page 2 points then product page 22 points).
Lee referred to this as a ‘Lead machine’ – but explained you must nurture these prospects on an ongoing basis if you want to ensure success.
Next was Bob Apollo (@bobapollo), Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners Ltd: The Inbound Revolution, How Inbound Marketing is enabling smart SME’s to complete with traditional brands
For me this presentation was one of the best of the day. It focused on how small, agile companies can compete with large brands as technology has now levelled the playing field. Bob referred to it as the “Democratisation of B2B sales and marketing”.
Whereas big budgets used to = big results; innovative technology vendors coupled with the rise of social and business networks have truly levelled the playing field.
Being smart and agile is now more important than size to move quickly and easily. Being able to think and draw conclusions quickly is a huge benefit for SME’s.
Bob went onto talk about the popular point of how buyers hate being sold to and how you must offer something of value in order to gain prospects attention.
Buyers filter out sales pitches and seek out relevant information. They do their own research and they don’t like cold calls, spam and direct mail.
They like blogs, informative content and relevant information, adding weight to the need for a shift from from push to pull marketing.
He explained you should never rent lists and push. Always build your own database, segment, and pull. Don’t repel, but attract.
How can we attract more of the right kinds of prospects?
A good piece of advice from Bob was “Articulate a distinctive point of view”. Do not be bland – That’s the biggest sin.
In terms of identifying your ideal customers, don’t just look at demographic, think outside of business size, location and industry, and look at situational, behavioural, environmental and organisational factors.
B2B marketing is complex – look at roles, concerns and motivations. Also issues, trends and trigger events. These cause companies to change and work to solve a problem. This window of uncertainty is when you want to engage. Your around 5x more likely to win the account engaging at this early stage.
After a short afternoon break the final talk of the day was by Delphine Remy-Boutang (@delphinerb), WW Digital Social Media Marketing Manager, IBM: Attracting the right leads using social media
Delphine gave a great overview of how IBM have become a social company.
The company has been established for 100 years and there are now 470,000 IBMers; all of which are encouraged to utilise social media.
They utilise internal social networks, within their firewall. I.e. SocialBlue, but also encourage the use of external networks:
200k IBMers on Facebook externally
20k + on Twitter externally
Delphine stated that employees are the publishers – the corporation is the enabler.
How do IBM use social for innoation? Social Business Jam was a 3 day brainstorming event exploring the value of social and it was also used to establish IBM guidelines on the use of social.
One of the more profound statements was that “we’re no longer, B2B or B2C, were now in the H2H (Human-to Human) era.
So instead of just having an official channel. Social needs to be human-to-human. This is because its more personal and emotion and stories connect people.
Delphine also spoke about how IBM empowered their sales team in Dublin to go from 8 hours on the phone to just 4, enabling them to spend half the day on social sites listening and engaging with prospects. This was done via several sites such as LinkedIn by searching for relevant groups. She explained don’t necessarily create a group, but join and engage plus share a link to a relevant page.
Also they created a Twitter hashtag #collaboration to create and encourage conversation. The sales team then listen, prepare and engage.
A interesting stat was that IBM run one event per day across the world! They have a lot to speak about, but rather than telling people a story, allow others to tell the story on your behalf by sharing pictures, video etc.
Delphine discussed the centennial and celebration for IBM using the hashtag #progress whereby they ask people to tweet stating what they believe progress to be. The three main measurements for the campaign are:
On June 16th 2011 they peaked at 24,000 global mentions.
Again Delphine commented on how content is the most important thing. A story. What are you going to say.
Another fascinating story was how IBM gave 470,000 staff a day off to do something for charity. They all then had to share what they were doing via social media creating a real buzz online.
Also within their catalogue the rating and reviews feature (Amazon style) helps to push social when clients buy.
All-in-all it was a really good session and gave a really good overview of IBM’s approach to social media.
Following the final talks there was a good opportunity to network over a few drinks before the event closed. FUNNEL was really useful for anyone interested in learning more about funnel marketing, with some excellent talks on the subject, however I’m sure I missed some equally good sessions throughout the course of the day!