Automated Marketing: Drip vs. Nurture

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference. Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a reporter doing an article on nurture campaigns and was surprised that she did not differentiate between drip and nurture marketing. In fact, I know many seasoned marketers who also do not follow separate protocols for these two disparate approaches to marketing. So, while you may well disagree with me, here’s how I see it and how we develop campaigns for our clients

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference.

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a reporter doing an article on nurture campaigns and, as I had been in so many conversations before, was surprised that she did not differentiate between drip and nurture marketing. In fact, I know many seasoned marketers who also do not follow separate protocols for these two disparate approaches to marketing. So, while you may well disagree with me, here’s how I see it and how we develop campaigns for our clients.

Blast
Blast campaigns are not automated, though you might well schedule a blast to deploy automatically. A blast email is a single event—think of your weekend sale, your newly released demo, or your new YouTube video. You’ll send out a single email making this announcement. Let’s suppose, however, that you have a podcast series and each episode posts early Monday morning. Now, we’re talking automation.

Drip
Drip marketing is designed to keep you top of mind when your recipient is ready to enter or reenter the sales funnel—gentle reminders. These emails or direct mails are of a similar design and usually based upon a branded template or theme. The message is general and is sent to a general list. Of course, personalization and segmentation will ensure that your message is targeted and better received even when using a general list, but the message is sent on a predetermined schedule. We often refer to this as the passive path.

Think of the drip-irrigation system, from which this campaign style acquired its moniker. The water drips at a consistent rate regardless of whether or not the plant is thirsty. Drip, drip, drip. Your campaign should do the same.

In order to determine the frequency of the drip, or touch, you will need to test or survey your audience. If you are a nationwide pet food supplier, you might find that twice a week is the right pace. If you’re selling enterprise software, perhaps it’s more like once every two weeks. The span of time in between drips does not change the definition or purpose. You are regularly pinging your constituents with a cue describing an existing relationship and providing information that, in the long run, will contribute to their buying decision.

Eventually your recipient will receive a message from you—either at exactly the right time or of the ideal offer—and they will engage—click to watch, download, or take a test drive. Now it’s time to get your nurture campaign involved.

Nurture
Unlike the drip campaign, the nurture campaign fires off at will each time your recipient engages. When you send a drip event offering a preview of your new video and the recipient clicks to view, your nurture campaign should automatically deploy a message thanking them for viewing the video and offering up a link to something that nudges them to the next step in the purchasing process. Perhaps this is a white paper or a demo. It might even be a meeting with a sales person.

To build your nurture steps, give consideration to your current sales process: You acquire a lead, qualify the lead, nurture the lead by providing additional information as needed, and at some point close the sale. It’s critical to sit with your sales team and discuss their current process for closing sales. Along with management and your creativity, you should be able to architect a campaign that is a digital (or, if direct mail, a physical) representation of the sales team’s approach. Here’s a rough sketch of what that might look like:

  1. Acquire a lead
  2. Welcome the lead – for your first touch, consider a blast email that simply proves deliverability. If the email successfully makes it to the inbox and/or is opened, clicked, or not deleted, shuttle the opened and non-deleted emails to your drip segment (until such as time as they too engage and become a member of your nurture segment) and the clickers to your nurture segment.
  3. Qualify the lead – this might be an email that simply provides links to your social-media accounts, a YouTube video, a resource download, or high-value areas of your website.
  4. Auto-respond appropriately to the lead – With each specific type of engagement, automatically send a prepared message (called an auto-responder) that acknowledges the engagement, thanks them for the engagement, and offers an accelerated engagement (the next logical step in the sales process). For example, if they watched a video, now might be the time to offer them a white paper on the same subject. For someone shopping for dog food, you might offer them first a video on the benefits of this brand, if they watch the video, the next auto-responder might be a coupon on that brand, if they do not redeem the coupon, the next auto-responder might be a coupon with a higher-value discount and more urgency (shop until midnight tonight and get free shipping). If they still pass on the coupon, consider a video on another brand.
  5. Rinse and repeat. For each engagement, respond appropriately, and offer an accelerated engagement acting as a nudge in the right direction – your shopping cart or offline purchase.

If you’re using a CRM, each event can and should contribute or deduct from your lead score. For instance, if a lead unsubscribes, you can deduct from the lead score and if they open the email, follow you socially, watch the video, download the resource, or visit your website, you can add to your lead score.

We call the nurture campaign the active path because your recipients are actively engaged.

Automated and manual monitoring of your engagement in blast, drip, and nurture events is important. It ensures that you do not continue to email messages that are missing the mark and enables you to move drip recipients into the nurturing path at the appropriate time.

Recipients in the nurturing path that show no signs of life should be kicked back to the drip campaign and those in the drip campaign who are without a pulse should be retired so as not to adversely affect your sender reputation.

5 Important Email Tips for Converting Prospects to Customers

The harder you make it for your prospects to become customers, the fewer will. Most marketers agree that lead generation and lead conversion are the bedrocks of their efforts. As you scrutinize your internal process to convert prospects to customers, remember that, in order to consistently convert, you must at least

(Editor’s Note: This is a preview of Cyndie’s presentation on the upcoming webinar “Email for Customer Acquisition: 5 Great Ways to Expand Your List, and Your Profits!,” with Yeva Roberts of Standard Register, airing Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. EST. Register here to watch the rest live tomorrow, or catch it on-demand starting Jan. 29.)

The harder you make it for your prospects to become customers, the fewer will.

Most marketers agree that lead generation and lead conversion are the bedrocks of their efforts. As you scrutinize your internal process to convert prospects to customers, remember that, in order to consistently convert, you must at least:

  • Provide a clear, concise path to becoming a customer.
  • Enable your prospect to become a customer.
  • Resolve any concerns your prospect has about becoming a customer.

1. Be Timely, Relevant and Easy
Conversion begins at the moment of acquisition—waiting to engage is the kiss of death if you hope to hold the attention of your new prospect. We humans have very short memories—and attention spans—and marketers who allow the opportunity for one to forget a recent engagement will be saddled with lower retention and conversion rates over the customer’s lifecycle.

Your first touch to new prospects must be prompt and direct as you remind the recipient of how the relationship began and, ideally, lay out the path for becoming a highly valued customer. Using email, converting prospects to leads can be quite easy, and when you group likeminded prospects into segments, you can also create highly relevant content appropriate for this audience.

When relevant content is bolstered by personalization, your messaging can transcend a timid first step and become a flat stone skipping through sales ripples reducing necessary touches to a simple few.

Tracking clicked links and buttons within your email will enable you to appropriately respond to engagement with auto-responders recognizing specific engagement activities. Auto-responders are unique tools for reminding prospects they engaged with your brand and helping them resume the process if they’ve become distracted along the way.

2. Provide High-value Content
Inbound marketing represents one of the most successful approaches to converting prospects to leads, leads to subscribers, and subscribers to customers. Your content should be well-written and professionally designed while establishing your brand as an expert.

Your e-books, slide decks, videos, webcasts, demos and the like must be honest and forthright in order to establish your credibility, and should not shy away from areas where your competitors have you bested. Recognizing and addressing these areas will foster trust and help you to build upon these new, budding relationships.

When you post inbound content to your website, you will drive repeat visits; visits that naturally develop, deepen and nurture the relationship to the next stage.

Inbound content such as blogs, videos and online tools also extend the time of visit, and this is an important metric that contributes to your search-engine optimization effort.

Though content at your site is important for this reason and others, resist the urge to keep your content to yourself. Create partnerships with companies that will post your content or choose apps such as SlideShare, YouTube or edocr.com to syndicate your content beyond your own reach. Requiring a form submission to download your content will result in capturing some leads, but you will benefit far more from unrestricted content that is shared liberally.

3. Convey Urgency and Scarcity
Certainly not news to most seasoned marketers, urgency and exclusivity still motivate prospects to act more quickly. Procrastination is a sales killer, so text within your email reminding the recipient of how few widgets remain or how few days to buy the widget remains can dispel bouts of procrastination that grip many of us at one time or another.

Positioning your offer as time-sensitive, quantity-bound or event-based will boost your conversions, but lack of instructions for how to take advantage of your offer can easily negate the benefit gained.

4. Provide Instant Gratification
In email marketing, it’s key to first identify and then solve the customer’s problem—as quickly as possible. Your customers have come to expect and even demand instant gratification, not just in electronic platforms but physical as well. (It’s unbelievable that Amazon is currently testing same-day drone delivery and delivery before you’ve even ordered in order to meet such demands.) You must strive to deliver now.

In your emails, recognize that your clients want it now, and use words such as “instant,” “immediate,” and “now” as trigger words to put them in the buying mood. If your product doesn’t lend itself to being delivered via drone so they can get it now, offer an instant rebate or immediate download. By solving your customer’s problem more quickly than your competitor, you will be more likely to gain the coveted conversion.

As with urgency and scarcity, it’s imperative that you are clear on what steps must be taken in order to achieve instant gratification.

5. Test, Track and Tweak
Don’t guess at what it takes to reduce clicks and shorten your sales cycle, nor should you be a focus group of one. While your opinion about what works and what does not is important, you are not the customer. Use your opinion and expertise as the starting point for testing, but analytics must be used to prove or disprove your educated guesses.

As you begin to understand areas or components slowing your conversions, consider paths that provide information in a more compact and effective manner. Videos are a great solution and a preferred vehicle for many, but podcasts, self-running demos and other online options are also ideal for replacing overhead-heavy meetings, site visits and other person-to-person events.

There are myriad sales-funnel processes, but all can benefit from trusting relationships and consistent experiences. Your blast, drip and nurture emails should be professional, branded and graduated in order to nudge your constituents along. It’s important to remind your prospects why they should choose you—both explicitly and obscurely.

Mail-to-Email Conversions

Most studies agree that your email list will suffer an annual 30 percent attrition rate. If you hope to grow your list by, say, 20 percent a year, added with attrition, you now need a lead generation program that will net you 50 percent new names per year. We are all looking for innovative and creative paths to growing our lists, and our best efforts have consistently included direct mail

Most studies agree that your email list will suffer an annual 30 percent attrition rate. If you hope to grow your list by, say, 20 percent a year, added with attrition, you now need a lead generation program that will net you 50 percent new names per year. We are all looking for innovative and creative paths to growing our lists, and while we’ve published a few eBooks on the topic with myriad fodder, our best efforts have consistently come from those that include direct mail.

As most of you know, renting, purchasing, borrowing and partnering in order to email clients in a lead generation effort is fraught with risks ranging from simply annoying your customers to losing sending privileges through your ESP. Though many claim that a mailbox full of junk mail is akin to an inbox full of spam, the effort it takes to remove oneself from a direct-mail list just seems too burdensome for most of us and we will continue to allow a company to burn through paper and postage despite our complete lack of interest in their message well beyond our initial feelings of annoyance. Whereas with email, the spam button, unsubscribe link or reply email is simply far too easy and thus instills extreme power and often unwarranted indignation when a brand should dare email us any type of unsolicited content. We’re not only quick to unsubscribe, if it happens again, we’re likely to fire off an irate email and even go so far as to report them to their ISP or ESP. This can cause permanent damage to the brand and inhibit their ability to send future emails.

Given these risks, we’ve found that the best way to approach lead generation is through the combined use of print and email. Rather than hazard the acquisition of a list of persons who did not specifically subscribe to receive our messages, Spider Trainers counsels clients to purchase the same list selects as a direct-mail list and forgo the email address—we will collect this later. Direct-mail lists are typically less or even much less costly than an email list, and this cost savings can be applied toward the postage and printing costs of a direct mail.

The direct-mail piece is used to entice engagement through the use of a high-value offer that drives traffic to a targeted squeeze page and, in many cases, from there to a microsite focused either on introducing the brand or introducing the product, depending upon how recognizable the brand is to the audience.

FruitRevival (a company providing recurring fresh-fruit delivery to Denver businesses), is in the process of launching just such a campaign. We created a square postcard (we have found that square postcards have a measurably higher engagement rate) for their list segmented as: newly rented direct-mail names, customers who have purchased a fruit gift box, and customers who have received a fruit gift box. Three different headlines and matching copy provide an A/B testing platform along with a call to action (CTA) for a free sample box delivered to themselves or to a person they choose.

Using this high-value CTA, FruitRevival hopes to attract the postcard recipients to their squeeze page where they will collect their email address as well as responses to five very simple questions. Lead scoring of responses will flag recipients ready for immediate sales follow-up (high scorers), move them into an active nurturing campaign (mid-range scorers), or drop them into the drip campaign (low scorers).

Keep your eye on two big rocks: the higher the value of the gift, the higher the conversion rate, and the more focused your list, the more likely the audience will be receptive to the offer. With the right combination, you can easily far surpass the engagement rates you will get with an email list that has not specifically opted in to your messages.

Marketing ROI in B-to-B: Why Is It So Hard, and What Can We Do About It?

The other day, I had the pleasure of discussing the challenges of marketing ROI with Jim Obermayer, CEO and executive director of the Sales Lead Management Association, on his Internet radio show. Our conversation got me thinking: Why is the Holy Grail of marketing ROI so tough to achieve in business markets? And what can we do about it?

The other day, I had the pleasure of discussing the challenges of marketing ROI with Jim Obermayer, CEO and executive director of the Sales Lead Management Association, on his Internet radio show. Our conversation got me thinking: Why is the Holy Grail of marketing ROI so tough to achieve in business markets? And what can we do about it?

The “why” part is pretty clear: Business buying cycles tend to be long, and involve multiple parties at either end. Marketers produce campaigns to generate an inquiry, and then qualify that interest with a series of outbound communications, and finally pass the qualified lead to a sales rep for follow up. From that point, it can take more than a year to close, and involve a slew of people on the customer side, from purchasing agents, to technical specifiers, to decision-makers.

The sales process is also complex, involving not only the face-to-face account rep, but sales engineers, inside sales people, and others who help get all the buyers’ questions answered, negotiate the terms, deliver, install and trouble-shoot the product, and whatever else needs to be done to satisfy the customer’s needs.

So, consider the difficulty of establishing the numbers that go into an ROI calculation in this kind of situation. Just to put a definition behind the concept: ROI, meaning return on investment, subtracts the marketing expense from the revenue generated, and then divides by the expense, resulting in a percentage that shows how much net return was produced by the investment.

But in this lengthy, multi-party, multi-touch selling situation, the “investment” part can be pretty tough to get at. Frankly, it’s a bit of a cost accounting nightmare, assigning an expense number to each sales and marketing touch that resulted in a particular closed deal. This brings up issues of variable versus fixed costs, marketing touch attribution—the list goes on and on.

Worse, the “return” part presents its own challenges. First problem is connecting a particular lead to a particular piece of revenue, which means carefully tracking a lead over its multi-month process toward closure.

Further, if a third-party distributor or agent is working the lead, it’s very likely that revenue results reporting is not part of the deal. With good reason: The distributor considers the relationship with the end-customer as his, and none of the manufacturer’s business. So the marketer who generated the lead often has no visibility into the associated revenue. Even if the deal was closed by a house rep, you’re looking at the endless squabble between sales and marketing about who gets the credit.

You can’t blame B-to-B marketers for throwing up their hands and relying on interim metrics like response rate and cost per lead. Especially when marketing staffers come and go, and may not even be in the job when the lead generated a while ago finally converts to a sale.

This is why I was so pleased at the arrival of the new book by Debbie Qaqish, The Rise of the Revenue Marketer, where she urges marketers to raise consciousness of their role in driving revenue results. “The revenue marketer uses the language of business,” she says. Examples of the metrics she recommends for revenue marketers include funnel velocity, sales conversion rates, pipeline revenue and campaign ROI.

My conclusions from this investigation:

  • Begin with a deep conversation with your finance counterparts to get at the best way for marketing to serve your company’s financial interests, like:
    • The right approach to assigning sales and marketing expense.
    • Whether to calculate returns based on net sales or on gross margin.
    • Decide which expenses are fixed and which are variable.
    • How to attribute the contribution of sales and marketing touches across the sales cycle.
    • Setting the ROI “hurdle rate” needed to support your company’s profitability goals.
  • Figure out where to get the revenue and expense data—not everything will be in your CRM system. Your finance counterparts should be help you source the data you need.
    • If a distribution channel party is a roadblock to revenue visibility, conduct a “did you buy” survey into accounts to which qualified leads were passed.
    • If the account-based revenue is captured internally, try supplementing your CRM system with data match-back to connect campaigns to sales, circumventing the arduous process of following a lead along its complex conversion process.
  • Set clear objectives for each marketing expenditure, so you know how to declare ROI success when you see it.
  • Get inspiration from The Rise of the Revenue Marketer, Debbie Qaqish’s innovative thinking on the role of marketing in B-to-B.
  • Get an education from Jim Lenskold’s 2003 classic, Marketing ROI: The Path to Campaign, Customer and Corporate Profitability.
  • If to many obstacles are in the way, fall back and rely on “activity-based” metrics like cost per inquiry and cost per qualified lead, which tend to be pretty easy to calculate, being mostly within the purview of marketing.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Copywriting for Social Media Marketing: 3 Best Practices for 2014

Effective copywriting for social media marketing was the game changer in 2013. Still trying to prove ROI on social media? Make 2014 the year you stop obsessing over measuring trivial stats—and start generating leads with social media. Do it without sacrificing brand integrity or annoying prospects. Use these three, proven social media copywriting best practices.

Effective copywriting for social media marketing was the game changer in 2013. Still trying to prove ROI on social media? Make 2014 the year you stop obsessing over measuring trivial stats—and start generating leads with social media. Do it without sacrificing brand integrity or annoying prospects.

Use these three, proven social media copywriting best practices.

Yes, You CAN Sell on Social Media
“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it,” said George Bernard Shaw. He’s right.

Effective social media and content marketing attracts, engages and takes customers on journeys to better places—where they decide how, when and were to get there. Effective copywriting for social media powers each stage of the “attract, engage, nurture” process.

Effective copywriting for social media is all about helping customers:

  • believe there is a better way (via your short-form social comments)
  • realize they just found part of it (on your longer-form blog) and
  • act—taking a first step toward what they want (giving you a lead)

Best Practice No. 1: Re-think the Role of Your Blog
“Gating” your best knowledge and tips is less and less effective each year. For example, buyers are becoming more likely to offer fake or “un-attended” email addresses in exchange for your whitepaper. What’s the answer? Long-er form content that proves you are worth a real relationship to the buyer.

According to sources like InfusionSoft (and my own experience!) buyers are registering less and less. Why? Because competitors are increasingly giving-away their best knowledge. Where?

Blogs.

We cannot keep forcing readers to give up their contact and purchase intent details in exchange for our content marketing assets. So my first social media copywriting best practice for you is strategic.

Becoming a better social media copywriter starts with the right strategy.

Converting readers to leads demands the best copywriting on social platforms plus effectively written, long-form content. Your best tips, tricks and advice that helps customers achieve a desired goal, avoid a risk or solve a problem.

Your blog is the content marketing hub. It is where your short-form social media copywriting directs prospects. Facebook and Google+ updates. LinkedIn group discussions, status updates, company page posts, your LinkedIn profile call to action.

Social media drives visitors to blog content that proves you’re worth a real email address!

Best Practice No. 2: Follow a Process, Not Just Passion
Don’t get caught up in the “show you’re human” and “tell a good story” nonsense. Having personality and being interesting is the entry fee. It’s essential. The force multiplier is an effective copywriting for social media process.

Start here. Write a solution (answer) to a problem (question) your target market needs solved on your blog. Follow these guidelines to make sure your words get acted on-prospects see your call to action and ACT on it.

1. Get right to-the-point
When you write be like a laser. Don’t make readers wait for the solution. Hit ’em with it in the first paragraph. Give them everything up front at a high level. Then, in the body of your article …

2. Reveal slowly
When it comes to all the juicy details of your remedy take it slow. Slow enough to encourage more questions—to create curiosity in the total solution. When you do this, make sure you …

3. Provoke response by leveraging the curiosity you just created
Yes, be action-oriented and specific. But avoid being so complete in your blog, LinkedIn or Google+ post that readers become totally satisfied with your words.

Remember to:

  • start with customers pains, goals, fears, ambitions or cravings in mind … and …
  • structure blog posts to teach, guide or answer in ways that …
  • create hunger for more of what we have to offer (a lead generation offer).

Focus on following this structure. Form the habit. You can do it!

Best Practice No. 3: Get back to basics
I know it sounds trite, but hear me out. There is one copywriting tip (habit) that consistently produces new business using social media. It’s an old direct response marketing rule.

Give customers a clear, compelling reason to act immediately—resolve, experience or improve something important to them.

This is why your blog is so critical.

At the most basic level, customers need help:

  • believing there is a better way
  • realizing they just found it (on your blog) and
  • acting-taking a first step toward what they want (giving you a lead)

Blog or video content that makes customers respond does one thing really well: It answers questions in ways that makes potential buyers think, “Yes, yes, YES … I can take action on that. That will probably create results for me. Now, how can I get my hands on more of those kinds of insights/tips?”

This is the key to using a blog to sell. This simple idea is the difference between blogging for sales and starving! Make it your goal. Good luck in 2014.

A Weird, But Effective Shortcut to Generate Sales Leads on LinkedIn

See what I just did? You chose to read this article—probably because the headline provoked curiosity. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, the basis of effective copywriting. True, there is no silver bullet for generating sales leads on LinkedIn. However, there is one habit that consistently brings my students and me more success generating leads online: Giving customers a reason to click and take action—relieve that nagging pain or take a step toward an exciting goal.

See what I just did? You chose to read this article—probably because the headline provoked curiosity. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, the basis of effective copywriting. True, there is no silver bullet for generating sales leads on LinkedIn. However, there is one habit that consistently brings my students and me more success generating leads online: Giving customers a reason to click and take action—relieve that nagging pain or take a step toward an exciting goal.

Yes, creating curiosity that lures customers to act seems like an obvious strategy. So, are you and your team doing it?

Engagement Is NOT the Goal: It’s the Entry Fee
At the simplest level these are our goals:

  • Grab attention, hold it long enough to…
  • provoke engagement in ways that…
  • earns response (generates a lead).

Will you agree with me? If you don’t get response to content placed on LinkedIn, you’re wasting precious time.

Will you also agree engagement is not the goal on LinkedIn? I know we’ve been told it is. It feels strange saying it’s not. But engagement is the beginning of a courtship process.

Whether it happens on your profile or inside LinkedIn groups, engagement is the entry fee. It’s your chance to create irresistible curiosity—or let your customer click away.

LinkedIn can be a big time-saver. It can scale your ability to generate leads. But only if you adopt a successful paradigm, one where engagement is the beginning, not the end. I’m talking about a world where it’s easy to get response—using a system to get customers curious.

3 Steps to Generating Leads on LinkedIn
Here are my best tips on structuring what to say and when—so you create hunger for more details in potential buyers. Remember, intense curiosity is the goal.

The idea is to give prospects temporary satisfaction. When you post updates, engage in LinkedIn groups or dress up your profile, answer customers’ questions in ways that satisfy. However, make sure your answers cause more questions to pop into their heads. That’s when you’ll hit ’em with a call to action that begins the lead generation journey.

Here’s where to start—either on your profile or in a LinkedIn group where prospects can be found: Answer a question your target market needs answered in a way that focuses on a nagging pain or fear. The idea is to directly or indirectly signal, “this discussion will help you overcome _____” (insert fear or pain).

If responding to an existing question make your comment suggest, “I’m here with a new point-of-view” or “I’m here with a fresh, new remedy to that pain.”

When you communicate follow these guidelines:

  1. Get right to-the-point. When you start or contribute to a LinkedIn group discussion be like a laser. Don’t make readers wait for the solution. Hit ’em with it. However start by…
  2. Revealing slowly. When it comes to all the juicy details of your remedy take it slow. Slow enough to encourage more questions—to create curiosity in the total solution. When you do this, make sure you are…
  3. Provoking response by leveraging customers’ curiosity.

Yes, be action-oriented and specific. But avoid being so complete that readers become totally satisfied with your words.

Make Your Answers Generate More Questions
Think of this like a successful dating encounter. Masters of the courtship process have always known the secret to creating intense curiosity: Being a little mysterious. Suggesting “I’ve got something you might want.” Holding a little information back. Strategically timing the sharing of information.

We’re trying to get the other person to be curious about us. So the best way to spark curiosity is to answer questions in direct ways that satisfy—but only for the moment. Answers should generate more questions … spark more curiosity in what we are all about.

Of course, we need to be credible. We cannot risk playing games with the other side. Yet being a little mysterious is fair play. It encourages more questions. This is how to generate leads on LinkedIn.

In business it works the same. Your ability to start generating sales leads on LinkedIn will be determined by an ability to answer questions in ways that provoke more questions from the buyer. Good luck!

How to Use Webinars to Increase Sales in 5 Steps

Let’s face it. Our baby is ugly. The word “webinar” has become synonymous with “boring.” But for a minority of B-to-B marketers, webinars are money in the bank. Are you wondering how to use webinars to increase sales and generate leads? I’ve discovered the answer: Helping viewers get so confident, so trusting, that they jump at the chance to engage more seriously.

Let’s face it. Our baby is ugly. The word “webinar” has become synonymous with “boring.” But for a minority of B-to-B marketers, webinars are money in the bank. Are you wondering how to use webinars to increase sales and generate leads? I’ve discovered the answer: Helping viewers get so confident, so trusting, that they jump at the chance to engage more seriously.

Living Proof
On average, most webinars keep 40 percent of their listeners attention from start-to-finish. My webinars keep 94 percent of attendees to the end. My best webinar had a 29 percent close rate.

I’m not bragging; I’m following the success tips of others and sharing what I learned with you. Here’s how to use webinars to increase sales in five steps.

The 5 Steps to Success

  1. Go beyond relevant: Make the title irresistible. Your topic must be goal-oriented-specific to a pain, fear, goal or ambition of your customer. More importantly, your title must promise complete satisfaction in a way that customers cannot resist acting on (signing-up AND showing-up).
  2. Skip the introduction. Other than a passionate 30-60 seconds on why you are bothering to invest your time, skip it! After all, you’re talking into the air at them, alone in a room. You must be on a mission. This is where you connect with the audience. It’s do or die.
  3. Promise viewers something NEW. Literally say to them, “I know you don’t have time to waste, so I’m not going to waste it. Most likely, what I’m about to tell you about ______ (insert audience’s goal or pain) will be new to you … you’ve probably not heard this before.”
  4. Meet that expectation & create hunger for more. Give insights and next steps they’ve never heard before. Be crystal clear. Use stories to illustrate, punctuate. Guide prospects in ways that encourage them to ask more questions and creates intense curiosity in what else you can offer (e.g., what you sell).
  5. Help customers, and yourself, with a call-to-action. At the end of your webinar, if you’ve structured it correctly, viewers will crave more from you. They’ll want more clarity, more insights … more specific details about you or your business. Your call to action gives them a way to satisfy that hunger—and it gives you a lead (or sale).

Want to see a webinar like this in-action? Check out this LinkedIn webinar and come back to the five steps above—notice how it follows these guidelines.

Without This Essential Piece You’ll Fail
Many webinar hosts unknowingly sabotage their programs—even after following the above guidelines. They forget the basics of good communication. If you don’t follow the Golden Rule it will cost you:

  • Tell them what you’re about to tell them (the main insight, short-cut, better way or remedy)
  • Tell them the “better way” (at a high level, yet specific)
  • Tell them what you just told them (come back and remind of the main point)

This approach serves your most essential goal: Getting customers CLEAR on your message. Without clarity your webinar will fail

Remember the last time you were clear—really clear—on something? Remember how you felt? Remember the sense of confidence that came with your “ah-ha moment?”

That’s your webinar’s job: get buyers crystal clear, confident in themselves and trusting you.

Structure the entire webinar to follow this flow. Similarly, structure each section of your webinar this way. Doing so will help you sell toward the end.

Make Every Second Count
Most webinars are not bad. They don’t suck. The are horrible in every way. Don’t let yours fall into this category. Use the above “format formula” to structure your webinar. Make it grab and hold your audience to the very end. Make it generate leads. Make every single second of your presentation specific to “what’s in it” for them.

Here’s what I do: When done creating your images and script go back over your presentation. Ask yourself, “so what?” on each image.

Once you’re done crafting the message, it’s time to forget about “the what.” Focus on the WHY. If you cannot answer the question, “why does this matter to the viewer?” with conviction rip out that image and/or section of your scrip.

Push yourself. Now you know how to use webinars to increase sales. Good luck!

Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Blogging to Generate Leads

Blogging to generate leads can feel overwhelming. We’re being bombarded with “must dos” from content marketing experts who make it seem effortless. What’s their trick? It’s a practical, refreshing approach to blogging. Here are three pitfalls to avoid and a proven system to create leads. Let’s start with busting a popular myth: Blogging to generate leads demands LOTS of blog content.

Blogging to generate leads can feel overwhelming. We’re being bombarded with “must dos” from content marketing experts who make it seem effortless. What’s their trick? It’s a practical, refreshing approach to blogging. Here are three pitfalls to avoid and a proven system to create leads.

Let’s start with busting a popular myth: Blogging to generate leads demands LOTS of blog content.

No. 1: Writing Frequently at the Cost of Proper Form
Yes, we need to blog frequently and “have a rhythm.” However, the pressure to crank out a tons of blog posts causes problems. In the rush to “just do it” we often forget effective blogging fundamentals. We forget to:

  • start with customers pains, goals, fears, ambitions or cravings and
  • structure blog posts to teach, guide or answer in ways that
  • creates hunger for more of what we have to offer (a lead generation offer).

Beware: Investing too much time and energy in writing frequently can torpedo you. Tired of the stress of wondering, “Am I blogging enough?” Give up the habit!

Focus on following the structure outlined above. Form the habit. Start putting this process to work for you.

No. 2: Losing Visibility by Forgetting Google Authorship
In its effort to clean up the Web, Google launched Authorship. The essence of becoming a recognized Author with Google is all about one thing:

Giving authors of high quality blog articles (you) more exposure.

Here’s how. Google gives maximum attention to registered Authors by including a photo next to ALL blog posts appearing in its index. This grabs eyes. This beats out competing writers who aren’t Authors.

This drives more leads to your page!

You’re losing visibility if you’re not aligned with Google via Authorship.

No. 3: Investing Too Much Time Writing ‘Epic Content’
For a long while, I invested time writing blog posts that convert leads really well. Every single post I made “counted.” However, Google would only rank them on page 1 sometimes.

This wasted my time. I was literally writing great articles that nobody would ever read. Ouch.

Even more frustrating, sometimes Google does rank our articles—yet nobody clicks. Ugh!

So here’s the fix: Invest time in getting ranked on page 1 or 2 first. THEN, monitor for visitor traffic … and THEN tweak to optimize lead generation from your post.

I don’t recommend writing total crap. However, take the pressure off. Write, first, for search engine ranking. Use an effective blog post writing template (that generates leads) but don’t over-invest your precious time.

Here’s how to get into the habit. For example, let’s assume you:

  • completed keyword research—you know what customer pain, fear or goal you’ll address in your post;
  • understand and practice the 3-step system summarized in No.1 above; and
  • know how to make an effective call to action and are ready to earn leads.

You know how to get prospects to your site and what to do with them once there. You’re armed and dangerous. You can earn attention with magnetic headlines, get prospects to read and act on your post.

This blogging system is quality-intensive. But it can be a trap!

It’s very easy to over-invest time in a post that nobody will ever read. So write to get found in search engines first. Be diligent about structure (for search engine and human discovery). However, don’t over-do it. Wait.

Protect your time investment. First, write to be discovered. Don’t neglect proper form but don’t over-invest in polishing … optimizing it for peak lead generation performance. Good luck!

The No. 1 Most Overlooked Video Content Marketing Strategy

Is your video content marketing strategy producing leads? Most B-to-B marketers are generating views, clicks, shares and likes, but netting few leads. Don’t be one of them. Generating leads and sales with video isn’t difficult if you get back to basics. The trick is publishing videos that create self-confidence in your viewers. This is a faster, easier way to create engaging discussion—and ultimately trust in you.

Is your video content marketing strategy producing leads? Most B-to-B marketers are generating views, clicks, shares and likes, but netting few leads. Don’t be one of them. Generating leads and sales with video isn’t difficult if you get back to basics. The trick is publishing videos that create self-confidence in your viewers. This is a faster, easier way to create engaging discussion—and ultimately trust in you.

What Does Confidence Have to Do With It?
Don’t let any gurus convince you that “social selling” is somehow mystical, new or different.

In video marketing, trust is rarely earned by what you say in videos or how you say it. Trust is earned by what your videos DO for prospects that gets them confident in themselves as buyers.

For example, have you ever watched and taken action on a short video? Maybe it was a direct TV infomercial where you saw a product demo. You probably didn’t need what was being sold, but you took action anyway. Why?

Confidence.

Even if it’s purely novel, after watching a product demo humans are “hard wired” to react. But only if we witness a transfer of confidence—from seller to buyer. Or from “the converted” to the skeptic.

If written, shot, edited and distributed correctly, videos of various lengths can produce leads consistently. These exceptional videos succeed because they do one thing better than others.

Why Confidence Works So Well
You might think going viral is the key, but it’s not. Videos that create leads work because they demonstrate raw, credible, believable confidence in action.

Videos that generate leads tap into skepticism, fear, annoyance and ambition—and put it to work for the seller. Again, think in terms of infomercials: from kitchen gadgets (skepticism) to fear (financial and medical) or ambition (college, weight loss).

Effective video “brings to life” the benefits of the emotional end goal of everyone on planet earth: confidence. No, not the functional benefits of the product, the emotional end benefit in its most raw state.

Where to Start: How to Create Confidence
Effective videos grab attention. They have a title that is simply irresistible and relates to a fear, ambition, goal or problem. Effective titles make a promise. An effective video content marketing strategy delivers that promise in a way that either:

  1. transfers confidence from someone on camera to the viewer or
  2. manufactures confidence by giving tips, actionable advice or “better ways.”

The best way to get started is a video treatment—a rough concept of how your video will flow. The easiest kind of video to produce is one that increases the success rate of prospects.

Right now, think about something you know that most customers don’t. What danger, risk or hidden opportunity do you know about that they don’t, right now. What would really move prospects’ needles if you had 60 seconds to tell them? Jot down your ideas.

Create a video treatment that demonstrates a better way, shows steps to solve a problem or provokes an emotional reaction (fear, excitement) in the viewer. Don’t be shy.

For example, ask a question customers need answered in a way that might scare viewers a bit. Then answer it in a way that leaves them wanting more details.

When and How to Make a Call to Action
The goal of your B-to-B video content marketing strategy is to get prospects so confident in themselves they take action. Everything else is wasting time. Forget about trying to influence prospects. Get viewers to act.

If you followed the above formula, you’re on track. Now we need to nudge viewers with a call to action. This nudge capitalizes on the momentary confidence you just created or transferred to the viewer.

At this point, customers should be starting to feel a sense of trust in your words. You’ve proven yourself to be bold, have something to say, ask the tough questions or give out “tough love” advice. Will they trust you enough to buy from you? Maybe, maybe not.

Prospects will, however, be willing to trade their contact information in exchange for more of that confidence you just gave them.

They’ll be more willing to become a lead. All they need is that call to action. Make it easy for prospects to act on that impulse you just created.

Effective Video Content Marketing Makes Prospects Crave More
Content that creates leads makes prospects think, “Gosh, I wonder what else the author of this article knows that I need to know!” or “Wow, I see the opportunity more clearly now; how can I get access to more of this kind of thinking?”

Maybe your offer will be to teach customers a new skill or go deeper into solving a problem for them. You might offer a multi-part video tutorial, ebook or stream of email tips that guide and motivate prospects each week.

There are a handful of options. The idea is to use a call to action to get viewers off your video and onto a lead nurturing process.

Remember: Trust is earned by what your videos do for prospects that gets them confident in themselves. If you follow these simple guidelines you’ll be making videos that sell for you. You’ll have an effective video content marketing strategy.

Good luck!