B2B marketers should be breaking out the champagne. A new study by Televerde found that the sales/marketing divide “isn’t as bleak as it was five years ago.”
Of more than 200 B2B practitioners polled for this report, 62% of salespeople feel that sales and marketing are aligned at their companies.
And 77% felt the quality of leads were “good” to “excellent,” while 18% feel they are very aligned.
Of course, there is room for improvement, and that’s where the celebrants might suffer from a slight hangover.
Televerde also found that there can be a lack of regular communication (37%), as well as differences in measurement techniques (33%) and the lead qualification process. They also disagree about what’s important.
Worse, when you look at the tools that salespeople want from marketing, email templates are way down the list, preceded by industry events, case studies, sales presentations, social marketing and a host of other things.
That’s shortsighted because email is a potent tactic for moving prospects down the funnel, whether it is pushed out by salespeople or sent as part of a larger campaign by marketing.
This comes in loud and clear in a recent Huffington Post article by Gabriel Shaoolian, founder and CEO of Blue Fountain Media, a digital agency based in New York City.
First, Shaoolian advises B2B marketers to create drip email campaigns.
“Email marketing has been a go-to channel for lead nurturing pretty much since its inception, and it remains a powerful tool to this day,” Shaoolian writes. “Drip email campaigns allow your brand to speak directly to users with content that’s tailored specifically to whichever phase of the customer journey they’re in at that moment.”
He continues: “In order to move your leads down the funnel, you can design drip campaigns with a variety of objectives and audience segments in mind. Customized campaigns can be created to re-engage leads that have grown cold, while education-focused campaigns can be deployed to target prospects who have shown interest in specific products or services.”
“The beauty of email is how targeted it allows you to be in your segmentation. Deeper segmentation allows you to create and deploy more personalized content that is more likely to resonate with users.”
This is right on the money, given that the salespeople polled by Televerde want content. Shaoolian agrees with them to that extent.
"Content marketing is one of the most effective tactics for B2B brands to move users from an awareness phase to an interest and evaluation phase," he writes. "This is the phase where your brand gets to show off your know-how in your industry with the goal of persuading users of your expertise and capabilities."
What does he recommend?
Content that is "thorough, engaging and informative," that also appeals to the needs and desires of the user personas. Ask yourself the following: “What questions can you answer? What problems can you solve? What sales can you teach?”
Of course, you also have to decide how to distribute that content. That’s where email is also useful.
Finally, you have to find out what customers want, and use that insight to drive content and email communications.
One way is through surveys. For example, you can employ the Ask Method outlined by Sheila Kloefkorn, CEO of KEO Marketing, a B2B agency, in an article in Forbes.
The Ask Method consists of four types of surveys, “the goal of which is to discern what customers want at different stages of the sales funnel,” Kloefkorn writes.
She continues: “These surveys can allow you to get into the mind of your customer to determine how you can help them, help you determine and customize personas, determine why a customer did not make a purchase and provides information to help move them down the sales funnel and can create emails to figure out what customers prefer after they did not buy.”
But Kloefkorn urges marketers to follow these key takeaways. For one, don’t directly ask customers what they want. Sometimes they don’t know themselves.
Businesses should not directly ask customers what they want because too often, customers themselves don't know the answer to that question.
Instead, ask other types of questions that can provide clues.
Second, try to ask the right questions at the right time. In that way, you can engage the customers with effective campaigns.
Here are a couple of additional tips from Maddie Hartle, a digital communications strategist at digital marketing agency Pyxl.
Track influence and conversion information.
Report closed deals to track end-to-end involvement in the sales funnel.
Report closed deals. There are four categories: marketing-sourced and marketing-nurtured; matting-sourced and sales nurtured; sales-sourced and marketing-nurtured; and sales-sourced and sales-nurtured.
This handling of data is more important than figuring out the right email subject line, Hartle notes.
"As email marketers, we have access to leads as they enter the sales funnel, giving us the ability to largely influence not only the nurture journey through email marketing but also the flow of information throughout the sales funnel," Hartle writes.
She adds: "Email marketers can track leads from start to finish and attribute full or partial credit and ROI to marketing activities. We can also identify which lead sources and nurturing campaigns produce or convert the most opportunities, providing literally valuable insight into how to wisely spend marketing dollars."
After all that, there’s marketing automation. But don’t get us started on that topic today.