If you’re into digital marketing at all, you’ve probably heard that outbound marketing strategies are over. And in a lot of ways, they are. Today’s consumers don’t answer cold calls, they hate being sold to with scammy commercials, and they’ve set their email inboxes to automatically filter out promotional emails. Outbound marketing, in the old, Don Draper version of itself, no longer exists. And if it does exist, it very rarely works.
If you’ve read our blog before, you know we’re inbound marketing junkies. It’s a way of life, and we love it. Inbound marketing is absolutely the marketing tactic that speaks to today’s consumers, and we often use outbound marketing tactics to bolster our inbound marketing strategy.
When used with tact and purpose, 21st-century outbound marketing tactics are an excellent way to draw more leads into your inbound marketing flywheel.
Not quite sure about that? Let’s take a look at three specific outbound marketing strategies that will actually work to draw in new, qualified leads:
PPC and Paid Search
Pay-per-click and paid search advertising are amazing ways to draw in new traffic. We especially love them for our clients who are just setting up a new website. Since it takes time for Google to crawl and index new websites, paid search is a great workaround to draw in new, qualified leads immediately, until the organic rankings can catch up.
PPC is considered an outbound marketing tactic because you’re paying for it. Instead of letting consumers come to you, you’re pushing your message out to them.
However, unlike outbound marketing tactics of the past, paid search can be highly targeted to address only the consumers who are actually good fits for your product or service. We’ve written extensively about PPC, so I won’t dive into it too far in this blog.
For the purposes of this blog, all you really need to know is that by bidding on quality, long-tail keywords that are relevant to your product or service, you can put your company front and center on the search engine results pages your target buyers are looking for.
While it is an outbound marketing strategy, it’s not abrasive or in the consumer’s face. Instead, it offers a product or service that’s relevant to their search, and then it will bring them to your website, where you can use other inbound marketing tactics to further nurture your lead. It’s the perfect example of inbound and outbound marketing strategies working together to grow your company’s revenue.
Social Media Advertising
Don’t tell me you’ve never clicked on a Facebook or Instagram ad.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are so good at delivering tailored, personalized content to their users, and social media advertising is one way to take advantage of those platforms.
When you have a clear picture of who your audience is, you can develop social media ads that speak exactly to your target buyer. Social media platforms have robust demographic and targeting features that allow you to ensure your selected audience is very specific and highly likely to have an interest in your product or service.
Remarketing ads are a great example of social media advertising as an outbound marketing strategy that actually delivers. They follow someone who has actually been on your site and who has interacted with your content and maybe even thought about downloading a content offer or making a purchase.
When that prospect navigates away before making a purchase or download, they become a candidate for your remarketing ad. Now, when that prospect heads to their social media page, they’ll see an ad for your product or your brand on their social media feed. This remarketing ad is the perfect way to keep your company top-of-mind and keep calling those prospects back to complete their action.
Remarketing and other forms of social media advertising are especially effective outbound marketing strategies because they’re not delivering your message to just any consumer. They’re directed at specific individuals who are likely to, or who already do have an interest in your product or service.
Targeted Email Workflows
Many people don’t consider email to be “outbound marketing”. But, if you’ve ever gotten an email from a bot or about 15 follow-up emails from an insurance company you didn’t reach out to first, you know that’s just not true.
Targeted email workflows work best if you have obtained contact’s email addresses in a white-hat way. That means, they gave you their email address, whether through a subscribe button or by downloading a content offer.
Buying email address is not quality outbound marketing. It’s obnoxious, and it’s unlikely to deliver any kind of quality ROI.
From there, you can use targeted email workflows to nurture specific segments of your email list according to their pain points, challenges, and needs. You’re reaching out to a client, so it is an outbound marketing strategy, but you’re doing so with the prospect’s best interest at heart, which is why it will be effective.
The key takeaway here is that when you use email workflows to genuinely nurture leads with content they care about, and that solves a problem of theirs, you’re using outbound marketing to keep drawing new prospects back into your flywheel.
Bottom line? Outbound marketing, or the process of marketing by reaching out to consumers, leads, and prospects, is still a viable way to market. When you use outbound marketing strategies with 21st-century consumers in mind, you can actually produce some significant results.
Want to learn more about how outbound marketing can deliver you quality leads, right now? Let’s chat.
Outbound marketing is tricky in a world of consumers who don’t want to be sold to. We can help. Digital marketing, both inbound and outbound, is our bread and butter, and we’d love to see how our tactics can work to grow your company!
An MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) is a reasonably qualified lead who has downloaded a content offer or interacted with your marketing team, but who hasn’t yet entered into your sales funnel. An SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) is a lead your sales team has qualified as a potential customer. SQLs are in your sales funnel, and your team is actively working to move them closer to a deal.
Leads. Everybody wants ’em, but not everyone knows what to do with them once they have them.
That’s where the inbound methodology comes in. Designed to help both marketing and sales teams nurture leads all the way through to a sale in the world of the modern, digital consumer, the inbound sales process puts a huge focus on MQLs and SQLs.
But what are they, how are they different, and how do you deal with both MQLs and SQLs to boost the ROI of your inbound sales process?
Here’s a breakdown of the MQL vs. SQL question, complete with tips on how to define them and how to use those definitions to optimize your sales and marketing process to close more reliably and more efficiently. Let’s start with the basics.
What’s an MQL?
A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a site visitor that your marketing team has deemed likely to eventually turn into a sale. MQLs are qualified prospects: they fit your buyer persona.
That said, they’re missing a few qualifications that would make them the perfect fit for your sales team.
Maybe they’re working on a seriously long buyer’s journey. Or, they’re in the right industry, and they have the decision making power, but they don’t have the right budget, or realistic budget expectations yet.
In short, an MQL is a reasonably qualified lead who matches one or more of your buyer personas, but who isn’t quite ready to buy yet.
What’s an SQL?
A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a lead who your sales team has decided is worth pursuing. They’re at the end of the consideration stage and are moving into the decision-making stage of their buyer’s journey where they’ll appreciate sales-focused content and support.
Typically, a sales qualified lead is confirmed after an initial outreach call with someone on your sales team, who can determine how serious the lead is about your product, and how motivated they are to buy.
An SQL is a lead who has intent to buy and who seems interested in your company as a contender to make that purchase.
MQL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference?
The most important difference between MQLs and SQLs is the intent to buy. While there are other factors that will affect whether a lead is categorized as marketing or sales-ready, the biggest tip-off for marketers when deciding whether or not to pass a lead on to sales is the intent to purchase. That’s a surefire sign that they’re ready to talk to sales and tells you that passing them onto sales is the best way to serve that lead.
Since MQLs and SQLs can look different for every industry, and even individual companies, let’s look at a couple of examples of what qualifies an MQL vs. SQL:
First-Time Site Visitor vs. Returning Visitor
A first time visitor is a good example of a potential MQL. They’re just starting the buyer’s journey, and are working on gathering the information that will ultimately help them make a purchasing decision down the road.
A returning visitor, on the other hand, who has been to your site a few times, and is browsing key pages and downloading bottom-of-funnel content offers, is an SQL. They like the information you’re putting out enough to keep coming back. And if they keep coming back, they’re probably ready to talk to your sales team.
Top of Funnel vs. Bottom of Funnel Content Offers
An MQL is a lead who is downloading and converting on top-of-funnel content offers. They’re interested in information that teaches and educates about the general product you sell.
Let’s say you sell cars. An MQL will be downloading content that offers information like, “How to Know When To Buy A New Car,” “Is it Better to Lease, Buy Used, or Buy New,” and “Safest Sedans of 2019.”
So, they’re asking those research questions that solve their beginning-of-the-buyer’s-cycle problems. They’re not ready to buy yet, but they’re definitely thinking about it, and they fit your target buyer persona well enough that your marketing team recognizes them as a great potential fit for your company in the future.
An SQL, on the other hand, is going to download bottom-of-the-funnel content offers. With that same car sales example in mind, an SQL will download content that sounds like this: “How to Finance a New Car Purchase,” “5 Steps to Buy A New Car,” and “5 Things to Know Before Purchasing a New Car.”
SQLs are at the bottom of the funnel — they’ve already done the research, they already know they want a car, and they know which car they want. Now, they just have to figure out how to make the purchase.
Just knowing which content offers a lead is downloading can give you great insight into whether they are marketing or sales qualified. And making that distinction is what puts you ahead of the competition in closing new sales efficiently.
Why Differentiating Between MQLs and SQLs is Important
It’s one thing to know the difference between an MQL and an SQL. It’s another thing to know why correctly categorizing each lead is so important.
The difference between an MQL and SQL is crucial in offering up the right content, and the right lead nurturing experience. If a lead has already made up their mind on what product is right for them, you don’t want to be sending them basic content that outlines all of your products — it’s not relevant to their buyer’s journey anymore.
In the same vein, if you have a lead who is still learning what your product does, how it works, and why they might need it, you don’t want to send them on a sales call.
They’re not ready to make a purchasing decision yet, and probably don’t have company approval to make the decision. At this point in their journey, a sales call would seem pushy, and would ultimately be a waste of your sales team’s time.
Correctly identifying whether a lead is marketing or sales qualified has a huge impact on the success of your overall inbound marketing and sales strategy. Knowing whether a lead is an MQL or an SQL tightens up your lead nurturing process to deliver the best possible results with the least amount of work.
When you have a foolproof way to correctly categorize leads, you know exactly what content to deliver, and when. That goes a long way in helping those leads convert, and it saves your marketing and sales teams a lot of wasted time delivering content that wasn’t relevant or reaching out to a lead who wasn’t ready to convert.
Consistent definitions will make the MQL to SQL handoff a little easier, but there’s still a little work that goes into it. Here are 5 general steps to guide you through the handoff process.
Once your marketing department identifies an MQL, they should be entered into a few lead nurturing campaigns, whether that’s through targeted email marketing campaigns or a casual, helpful marketing outreach campaign.
Ideally, that MQL will continue making qualifying actions — they will download more content offers, they might ask your marketing team a few questions, and they might subscribe for your newsletter.
From there, the sales team can reach out, ideally within 24 hours of the lead’s last conversion action, to connect and qualify that lead as an SQL.
It is possible that on their qualifying call, the sales team find the lead is not quite ready for the decision-making stage. At this point, your marketing team should have a set of steps in place to kick that lead back down to an MQL and continue nurturing them until they’re ready to convert again back up to an SQL.
With these five steps, and clear, identifiable definitions of MQLs and SQLs that both sales and marketing agree on, your handoff process should start to go a little more smoothly. It’s a tough process, no matter how you look at it, and the best way to make sure your handoffs are successful is to have regular meetings with both sales and marketing teams to identify any problem areas and implement solutions that fix those issues.
No Matter Your Industry, You Need MQLs and SQLs
It’s easy to get stuck in an MQL vs. SQL mindset. It’s easy to say, “oh, I’m not dealing with that lead, they’re for sales” and vice versa for marketing. And it’s true that for the most part, you want your sales team interacting with the sales leads, and your marketing team interacting with those marketing leads.
But the bottom line is, for any company both MQLS and SQLs are an integral part of the sales pipeline. You can’t have one without the other, so it’s important that your marketing and sales teams work together to develop content and lead nurturing strategies that benefit both MQLs and SQLs.
MQLs, when nurtured properly, become SQLs, who become customers and promoters of your brand.
So, when done right, all of the work you’ve done to develop a quality inbound marketing and sales plan comes full circle to help you close more sales and grow your company.
Identifying MQLs and SQLs isn’t always as easy as it sounds. If you’re struggling to nurture leads through the buyer’s journey, Evenbound can help. Inbound marketing and sales is what we do every day, and we’d love to help you troubleshoot your lead nurturing process to help grow your company. Get in touch to see how we can help, or click the link below to schedule time to chat about your challenges with our president, John Heritage.
You know that old saying, “work smarter, not harder”? It’s safe to say that’s an idea we can all get behind. No one wants to spend hours of their day working on a project that won’t produce results.
Unfortunately, in the case of many businesses who do not have aligned sales and marketing teams, the concept of working harder on projects that might not ever see the light of day is an everyday reality.
This SlideShare from The TAS Group states, “lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget costs companies at least $1 trillion a year.”
Both of those stats offer up compelling arguments for making a change to sales and marketing alignment. Beyond just saving your sales and marketing teams wasted effort and budget though, sales and marketing alignment can actually offer some benefits to your company, delivering pretty impressive returns when implemented properly:
Aligning your sales and marketing teams is one perfect example of working smarter, not harder. When your sales and marketing teams are aligned, everyone does less work to obtain a higher quantity of better, more targeted clients. Then, you can allocate all of that additional time and energy into inbound marketing and sales strategies that you know will help your company generate revenue and grow.
So, how do you get there?
Sure, sales and marketing alignment sounds nice, but can you actually make it happen, and how much work will it take?
Honestly, it depends on your company.
If you already have both sales and marketing teams onsite, you can get started by just getting everyone in the same room every week or so. If you’re a larger company with sales and marketing teams that work remotely or on different campuses, it might take a bit more effort. And if your company doesn’t really have a marketing team, you could have a still longer road ahead of you. (Or, you can hire a marketing team to help you out. More info on that here.)
If you’re interested in aligning your marketing and sales teams to boost revenue and cut out wasted time, we support you. In fact, we’re going to give you six sales and marketing alignment strategies to help you do it. Check ’em out:
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: communication will always be the key to successful marketing and sales alignment. The first and best way to get your sales and marketing teams on the first page is to get them in the same room, chatting about their wins and challenges.
Too often, it feels like sales and marketing are pitted against each other. Sales isn’t happy about the quality of leads marketing is sending over, and marketing feels frustrated that sales didn’t follow up with all of the leads they’re sending over.
Getting your two teams in the same room is the first step to getting them to work together. Once you know what everyone is frustrated about, and also what they’re cool with, you can start making a little bit of headway towards alignment.
Consider Cross-Departmental Training or Shadowing
One great marketing and sales alignment strategy is to put each team in the others’ shoes for a day or even a week. When they have the opportunity to see how the other team works, what their day looks like, and what challenges they face regularly, they’ll be able to function together more efficiently.
We get that this is an easy way to disrupt your regular business flow, so start slow. Take one team member at a time, and have them shadow someone from the other team for an afternoon. Make sure the team members you choose are both excited about the potential benefits that alignment can provide, and you’ll find that both parties will learn something from the experience.
When the afternoon is up, your salesperson can report back to their team what they learned, and the marketing person can their team what struggles the sales team is having that they could help with.
Encourage Sales Input on Content Development
According to Forbes, 60% of B2B content never gets used. Whether the sales team doesn’t feel like it fits their individual client’s pain points, or they don’t even know it exists, sales input is an invaluable resource when it comes to content development.
Your sales team has an intimate, one-on-one relationship with each buyer. They speak to them personally and they understand their specific, unique challenges and goals for the future. This alone should make them your marketing team’s number one resource for content development.
If you’re not sure how to implement more sales input on marketing content development without seriously slowing down your publishing schedule, start by having the sales team take a look at your content calendar. (You do have a content calendar, right?)
They can tell you which content they’ll really be able to use, and offer a few key points to include for each upcoming post that will help you speak specifically to your target buyer’s challenges and goals.
Work Together To Establish A Common Language
Marketing and sales haven’t historically worked together all that much, especially in more traditional industries like manufacturing. Traditionally, marketing works to create brand awareness, get the word out there, and make sure everyone knows what your company has to offer. In that older business model, sales either take the leads that come in or (more likely) they go around looking for (read: cold calling) those perfect leads themselves.
This disjointed approach to sales and marketing as separate entities has fostered two different languages for both teams. They have different definitions of leads, they don’t have the same understanding of what makes a good lead, and they have fundamentally different goals.
To establish a common language that works for both teams, sales and marketing have to come up with the same definitions for these three things:
What A Lead Is
How You Score Leads
A Quality Service Level Agreement
What A Lead Is
It’s important that your sales and marketing teams both understand what makes a lead a good lead. And as you probably know, there are two types of leads: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). It’s possible that you’ve even defined these in the past.
But have your sales and marketing teams defined them together?
Both marketing and sales should offer input on the definitions of MQLs and SQLs, so that both teams understand what qualifications are necessary for both lead types. One clear definition, for both teams, will help with the lead handoff process, and it will help both teams understand which leads and prospects need what specific service or lead nurturing content.
With a solid foundation in place, everyone can move forward more confidently towards a tight alignment between sales and marketing that cuts out wasted time and boosts revenue.
How You Score Leads
Traditionally, the sales team has developed a process for determining which leads might be more valuable to your company than others. This process is called lead scoring.
If your goal is to get sales and marketing teams aligned for better business growth, it’s important to have your marketing team in on the lead scoring calculation. They need to know what makes a lead most attractive to sales, and why.
With that information, marketing can determine which leads could use more nurturing through the marketing process, and they can better streamline their efforts to influence target buyers in the markets that offer the highest return. By bringing the marketing team into the lead scoring conversation, you help them understand what to look for in a quality lead that shows they are likely to close.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
One of the biggest killers of marketing sales alignment is unbalanced reporting and goals. Too often, the sales team feels like they’re under the microscope to close sales, and the marketing team feels that the sales team isn’t acting on all of the leads they’re passing along. A service level agreement, (SLA) is the solution to this reporting imbalance.
A Service Level Agreement is a sort of contract that helps clear up some of this misdirected pressure, while still holding both teams accountable to goals that further your company’s overall revenue and growth goals. For example, with a quality SLA, your marketing team may be responsible for delivering a certain number of quality leads each month. Then, your sales team may be responsible for converting a certain percentage of those quality leads each month.
This agreement makes it clear what each team is accountable for, while still framing it in the light of one overall company goal — to produce more revenue and long-lasting clients for the company by converting highly qualified leads.
Every company’s SLA will look a little different. What’s important is that you get the sales and marketing teams together to agree on an SLA that’s fair and contributes to your company’s growth goals. When both teams understand what they’re accountable for, and that accountability feels fair to both sides, you’ll get a lot more out of everyone.
Leverage Sales Enablement Tools
It’s easy to forget that the sales team can benefit from inbound methodology tools as much as your marketing team can. Many of your favorite marketing platforms and CRMs are designed to help your sales team as much as they are your marketing team.
Encourage your sales team to use tools like email sequences and CRMs that implement lead scoring systems for you. The information they put in the CRM, and the data they generate helps them make better selling decisions, and it offers valuable information for the marketing team to move forward and optimize with as well.
When your sales team is comfortable with enablement tools, it’s also easier for your them to reach out to marketing and ask for content that will help them close deals.
Case studies, whitepapers, and ebooks about your product or service are all assets that are traditionally created by marketing. When sales is empowered to ask specifically for the content they know will help them close deals, marketing can focus their efforts on just the content that sales knows will be powerful and impactful to your buyer personas.
And again, that’s an effort that cuts down on wasted time, while still promoting the targeted lead nurturing tasks that will help your company grow.
Keep a Common Goal in Mind
Finally, one of the hands-down best sales and marketing alignment strategies is to set a common goal. Even though sales and marketing do different things and have different processes, they’re both on the same team. When they’re both working towards the same goal, it’s so much easier to see that they’re on the same team. Make that overarching goal clear to both teams, and you’ll see the results that marketing and sales alignment can deliver.
The more closely your sales and marketing teams are aligned, the more efficient your company will be in identifying qualified leads and closing deals. And when you close deals efficiently, you work smarter, and you grow.
If you’re looking for more sales and marketing alignment strategies, tools, or tricks, we’d love to help. As a digital marketing agency, we often align with B2B sales teams to promote overall company growth, and we also train companies with existing sales and marketing teams how to align for better results. To learn more about what we do, get in touch.
Email workflows are an excellent tool for pulling qualified leads through your sales cycle. When you set up an email workflow, you already know who you’re talking to, you have an idea of what they’re looking for, and you have a solution to their greatest pain points. One of the best lead nurturing tools in an inbound marketer’s toolbox, email workflows allow you to speak directly to qualified leads and offer them helpful, relevant content that draws them closer to making a purchasing decision.
We’re going to look at a few key email workflow best practices you should be implementing convert leads and close sales as best possible. But before we do, let’s start with the two most important rules of the email workflow:
The Golden Rule of Email Workflows
The golden rule of email marketing, whether you’re creating a workflow or just sending out an email to your subscribers is this: Don’t be annoying.
Seriously. I know this sounds simple, but it’s more tempting than you’d think. The, “oh, I’ll just send out one more email” feels are real. Try not to give in to them, and for the love of everything, please don’t spam people.
Try to limit your emailing to just two or three emails per contact a week, tops.
And if someone unsubscribes, let them. Embrace your inner Shania Twain and remember you’re better of without them. Do not. Repeat. Do Not. Continue to email them.
The only thing that will do is earn you angry people who are definitely no longer customers, and who now have a bad taste in their mouth about your company.
Not sure if you’re emailing too much? Imagine you were receiving all of the emails you are sending. If you’d be frustrated at getting yet another email from a peppy sales rep who doesn’t actually know that much about your company, it’s probably time to lay off.
The Silver Rule of Email Workflows
We’re not sure if “silver rule” is a thing, but if it is, always be offering something, would be it for email workflows.
If you take just one thing away from this blog, it should be to always offer something in every workflow email you send.
Whether it’s a relevant content offer, a chance to meet with a sales rep, or a free trial of your software, every email you send, especially in a workflow, should offer up something that keeps your prospective clients moving through your sales cycle.
With those two very important rules of email workflows in mind, let’s move on to some of the ultimate email workflow best practices that can help you convert leads and close sales:
Set a Goal for your Workflow
Before can get started developing a workflow, you have to know what your goal for the workflow is. Do you want to:
Set up a phone call?
Encourage another content offer download?
Get a lead started on a free trial?
Every workflow has an end goal. Before you can write your content, and even decide who you’re talking to, you have to have that goal in mind.
Define Your Qualified Lead
Most email workflows are triggered by an action that indicates a site visitor is a qualified lead. You need to define what that action is, and what a qualified lead looks like before you can launch that workflow effectively.
Let’s say the goal of your workflow is to set up a call or meeting with a prospect. Actions that might qualify a lead for this workflow could be:
They’ve downloaded multiple content offers that speak to consideration stage questions
They’re halfway through their free trial of your product
They’ve already talked to your marketing department
They’ve visited specific pages of your website multiple times, and for consistent periods of time.
Each of these actions tells you that the lead is already slightly invested in your company. They might like your content, they’re possibly enjoying aspects of your product, and they could even already be familiar with your marketing team. When they’re invested in what you’re offering, and know a little bit about you and your company, they’re a qualified lead. You just have to decide what that looks like. For more help defining your qualified leads, check out this blog on email marketing segmentation.
When you’ve defined what a qualified lead means to you for this specific workflow, you can get to actually writing and building out the email workflow directly for that qualified lead.
Identify Relevant Content
Now you know why you’re writing an email workflow, and you know who to write your workflow to. Let’s figure out what you’ll write about.
A traditional email workflow is about three emails long. You can always make them longer if you need, and if a lead converts right away, the workflow will bail on them.
I find that the easiest way to start writing an email workflow is to work backward. Look first at what you’re offering in each email before you start writing the content. (You are offering the lead something in every email, right? If not, see above for the Silver Rule of Email Workflows.)
For example, you know that your last email is going to offer up your schedule for your lead to set up a time to chat. The content of that email should lead up to that last call-to-action, and could look something like this:
I hope you’ve found our Complete Guide to Opening Coconuts helpful! If you have any questions about the guide please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I know you’ve had a great deal of interest in coconut cracking lately, and I think our Extreme Coconut Machete might make the perfect tool to help improve efficiency at your coconut water bar. Would you like to learn a little more about it?
To set up a time for a brief chat with me, please feel free to add a meeting to my schedule.
I look forward to connecting with you soon!
All the best,
Toucan Sam VP of Sales EZ-Open Coconuts, Inc
Every aspect of this email is leading up to that final call-to-action. Let’s take a closer look at how this workflow is working specifically to convert that lead.
Keep Emails Short & Include Questions
The above email from Toucan Sam is an excellent example of a workflow that is short and to the point, but that still entices a lead to continue moving through the sales cycle.
The email opened with a line that reminded the prospect why Sam was emailing.
Then, it offered a bit of helpful information that was specific to the prospect. John has a coconut water bar, and Sam’s product could help him improve his business’ efficiency.
It’s important to keep workflow emails short — definitely no longer than a page, but preferably no more than a few very short, one to two sentence paragraphs.
Remember: Design Counts
It’s also good to think about the design of your workflow emails.
They should be relatively minimalistic — you don’t want too many pictures or too much information distracting your prospect from the message — but they should include basic things like your logo and possibly your social media buttons.
The email should be clean and clearly laid out so the prospect can scan through quickly, without missing too much of your message. Put the most important messaging at the very beginning and very end of the email, where people are sure to see it. Bolding and bullet-pointing key callouts can also help draw attention to the content you want prospects to see most.
It is also good to personalize emails for the recipient, as well. Most email workflow services, like HubSpot or MailChimp, will auto-fill names and company names, along with a bit of other information for you. It’s a simple step that can make a big difference, so don’t forget!
Send Test Emails
Always, always, send test emails. And open them. And click all of the links.
You’d be amazed at how easy it is to forget to add in a link or to accidentally link to the wrong page.
You’ve spent a lot of time finessing your email, and you only get one shot to send it out. Make sure everything works the way it should before you hit that send button.
Send First Workflow Email Within 24 Hours of Qualifying Action
Set your workflows to go out as soon as possible after a lead completes a qualifying action. If they sign up for your newsletter, make sure your follow-up email goes out as immediately as possible.
If your sales team is working to follow-up after potential clients download a specific offer, try to have that first workflow email go out within an hour of their download. That way, your company is still fresh on the prospect’s mind and they’re more likely to respond.
Give People Time Between Emails
You want your first email to go out quickly, but that’s it. The other emails should take a little bit of time, in respect for the Golden Rule (see the top of this blog if you’re skimming). Don’t send any more than one email in a 24 hour period. And if you can wait a day or two between emails, that’s even better.
Every industry and every company will see different results from different tactics, so you will have to do a bit of testing to see how often and how quickly to send your follow-up emails for best results.
That said, a good rule of thumb is the less spammy, the better. You want to remain top-of-mind, but not at the expense of your lead’s experience with your company.
Make It Easy to Unsubscribe
As we mentioned in the Golden Rule at the very top of this blog, your goal with an email workflow is not to trap an unwitting consumer. Rather, you’re working to offer up relevant, helpful content that solves their pain points, and shows them of your authority in your industry. If they don’t want your help, you have to allow them to unsubscribe.
Not only is this ethical, but it’s better for you. If you have a bunch of dud leads who qualified accidentally, or who aren’t quite ready for your services, it’s better to let them go than have them skew your email metrics to show that your messages aren’t performing.
All of that goes to say — make it easy to unsubscribe.
You don’t want to waste your time on unqualified prospects, and they don’t want to hear what you have to say. Let them go.
Don’t Use Attachments
This last point is truly an email workflow best practice: don’t attach content to your workflow emails. Nearly every company tells employees not to open emails with attachments from strangers, for the very real reason that it could be a hacker or a virus. When you attach your content offers and additional relevant content to emails before someone has asked for it, you seem fishy. (Phishy? See what we did there? 😉)
Instead, offer links to a landing page where prospects can download your content offers or digital links to content offer PDFs. This will help increase your open rate, and likely your response rate, too. You always want to be offering something, in every workflow email, but it has to seem legit if you want people to open it.
Whew. That was a lot.
There’s a lot going on with email workflows. They seem like such simple pieces of content, but there’s a great deal of work that goes into them, from deciding what you’ll offer to crafting a series of emails that will work to pull your ideal prospects all the way through the sales cycle. Hopefully, these email workflow best practices will help you put together a workflow that converts leads and closes sales.
Still struggling with your email workflows? We get it. Let us know how we can help!
From cleaning up your contacts to developing workflow content that speaks directly to your target audience we’re email workflow pros and we’d love to help you beef up your email marketing strategy for overall business growth.
If you’re like any other marketing department we’ve ever talked to, your boss wants to know exactly how much your efforts are contributing to the company’s overall sales. You probably also know that proving that number isn’t as easy or as straightforward as you’d like.
Too often, companies put pressure on the marketing department to track every single outbound marketing dollar spent to a lead generated or a sale closed. And because marketing does things like create brand awareness and foster positive relationships, that can be difficult to quantify. That’s why we use an ROI Model to calculate the budget and ROI of the marketing campaigns we create.
When you take a good hard look at your marketing investment as a whole, and you have clear goals for your marketing department, it’s actually not impossible to calculate your marketing ROI. And we’re going to show you how to do it, using an ROI Model. First, definitions!
If you want the textbook answer, “a Return on Investment Model is a comprehensive, customizable model that allows you to input your project assumptions and quickly understand potential returns.”
In English, an ROI Model is a method of calculating not only how much you need to spend to generate a certain amount of income, but also how much traffic, how many qualified leads, and how many sales you need to close on each month to reach that goal.
Your marketing ROI Model is a simple, 4-bullet point statement that outlines your company’s business goals, while also outlining specific goals for each your sales and marketing teams.
Your marketing ROI Model shows everyone exactly how your sales and marketing teams are going to complete your company’s overall growth goal. It clarifies expectation for both teams and helps you calculate exactly how much you need to spend on your marketing budget to achieve your projected goals.
Your superiors want to get the word out about your company, but they also want specific, measurable reports about how your marketing efforts are contributing to the bottom line. We get that.
This ROI Model will help you figure it out. It’s what we use to help our clients measure ROI and determine a marketing budget that can deliver legitimate growth. This is how it works, in 4 simple steps.
Step 1: Know Your Customer Lifetime Value and the Value of New Sales
How much does the average new client deliver your company in sales?
This number is important because you can use it to figure out how much you’re spending to market to that person, relative to how much you’re making on them. That’s your marketing ROI right there. So, before you go any further, figure out on average how much revenue you make from a new client. Then figure out how much you make in the lifetime of your relationship with a customer.
When you know how much revenue you generate from each client, you can figure out a reasonable amount to spend on your marketing budget.
Goal setting is the first step to actually developing a solid marketing budget. And when we talk about goal setting, we’re talking about the whole company.
What are your company’s goals for the next year? Do you want to grow by 10%? Do you want to close a certain number of leads each month?
It’s important to set these goals and make sure everyone in your company understands them. This way, everyone can work toward this singular goal, together. With an overarching company goal set, the rest of your sales and marketing team goals will fall into place.
Step 3: Use A Digital Marketing ROI Model
Alright. Now you know how much a new client makes you, and how much you need to make in the next year or month. Let’s get to the Digital Marketing ROI Model.
Ours functions like a funnel, starting with the traffic your site sees per month and moving down from there to determine the number of closed sales you need to reach your monthly revenue goal. Let’s use an example to help clarify this.
Acme Corp is a manufacturer of anvils, rockets, explosives, and magnets. Last year, Acme Corp made 22 million dollars, which was flat from the year before. Let’s take a look at the ROI model we’d use to calculate the best marketing budget for their goals.
First, we need to know what their goals are, and how much revenue a sale brings to their company:
Goals: Acme Corp wants to grow their company by 5-10% this year.
Value of a New Sale: $25,000
Average Customer Value: $200,000
With this information, we can figure out how much income Acme Corp needs to generate each month to reach that 5-10% growth goal. From there, we can work backward to determine exactly how much site traffic we need to drive to achieve that goal.
Given Acme Corp’s goals, we’ve determined that they need to generate $375,000 in new revenue a month.
With an average new client sale price of $25,000, that meansthey need to close on 15 new sales each month.
Now, Acme Corp has a strong sales team, who works to close on an average of 5% of their marketing qualified leads. If Acme Corp closes on 5% of their qualified leads a month, they need 300 leads to reach that 15 sales per month goal.
Let’s work back one more step to figure out how much traffic Acme Corp needs to bring in 300 leads per month.
They have an average traffic conversion rate of 3%.
That means they need to bring in 10,000 site visitors per month.Believe it or not, we’ve just figured out Acme Corp’s entire Marketing ROI Model. Here’s what it looks like all condensed into 4 simple bullets.It might be only 4 bullet points, but it’s still a lot of info. We’ve just built out Acme Corp’s ROI Model to grow their business by 5-10% in the next year. This ROI model accounts not only for their marketing budget but also for their monthly marketing and sales goals.
The Acme Corp marketing team needs to bring in 10,000 visitors per month, and they need to convert 3% of those visitors into qualified leads.
The sales team is responsible for converting 5% of those leads into sales, to ultimately deliver on Acme Corp’s growth goal of 15 new sales or $375,000 in new revenue per month.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the purpose of this blog, Acme Corp is spending just 5% of their total gross income from new sales on marketing. That adds up to $18,750 per month or $225,000 a year.
To some, that might sound like a lot. It’s important to know that this is a fairly conservative marketing budget estimate.
In the grand scheme of things, 5% isn’t actually all that much to spend on your marketing budget, but that’s where your marketing strategy comes in, bringing us to the very last step:
Step 4: Invest Your Marketing Budget Wisely
You’ve completed your Marketing ROI Model. You know how much traffic you need to pull in, and how many leads you need to convert to meet your growth goal, and you know exactly how much you want to spend to do it.
It’s important to remember that while this ROI model can give you a good picture of how much you should be spending to get the right results, you have to be investing in the right marketing tactics to see actual results.
Where you allocate your marketing budget is what will make or break your ROI Model. Your marketing and sales teams have their goals, but if they don’t have the tools and training necessary to meet those goals, you won’t see your ROI Model realized, and you’ll probably end up spending more than the budget you allocated to reach your growth goal.
If you don’t have landing pages, are working with a website from 1995, or aren’t strategically targeting your paid advertising campaigns, you’re probably not going to see the results you want from what you’re spending on marketing.
We hope this blog helps your sales and marketing teams align to reach your company’s growth goals, and gives you a good starting spot for determining a realistic marketing budget.
Marketing ROI, marketing budgets, and especially inbound marketing strategies are kind of our jam, so if you have any questions about anything we covered in this blog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
And if you want to grow your company by 20% in the next year, we can help. Growth marketing is kind of our thing, so if you’re interested, let’s chat.
Digital marketing has a language of its own. It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital marketing guru or new to the ‘biz, this is an industry that’s full of constant change, and that means new words, acronyms, and theories all.the.time. We’ve created this list of 23 digital marketing terms to define some of the terms we get asked about the most often. Take a look for a refresher, or to help you get started if you’re just getting into the whole digital marketing thing:
Digital Marketing General Terms
We know you know what these mean, but here’s a refresher just in case.
CRM – Customer Relationship Management Software
This is software that companies use to track the interactions they have with each customer. Every CRM functions a little bit differently, but you’ve probably heard of big names like Salesforce and HubSpot. Essentially, this software helps you keep track of each client, lead, and potential client.
Your CRM should help you catalog each conversation you have with a client, and it should keep you informed of your client and leads’ activity on your website. Have they spent a lot of time on particular pages of your website? Are there key content offers they’ve downloaded? Maybe they’ve interacted with a chatbot on your site.
A quality CRM keeps track of all of the interactions your clients and potential clients have with your website, your marketing team, and your sales team, helping you provide the best service possible. Learn more about CRMs here.
ROI – Return on Investment
If you’re in business, you’ve heard the term ROI before. You know that old saying, “you have to spend money to make money.”? Your ROI, or your return on investment, is essentially that calculation: how much money you make by spending money on a marketing campaign.
ROI is typically expressed as a ratio or a percentage, and it’s calculated by subtracting the cost of a marketing campaign from its net profit, then dividing that number by the original campaign cost. A visual formula for ROI looks like this:
Let’s say you spent $1 on a marketing campaign. (Bear with me, we’re going for easy math here.) Let’s also say that campaign earned you $5 in sales. For every $1 spent on marketing, you earn $5 in sales. Your ROI ratio would be 5:1.
For my percentage people, in this example, you’re spending about 20% of your revenue on marketing. That’s fairly average. You’re making money, but you’re not doing anything crazy or exceptional. An extraordinary ROI is closer to a 10:1 ratio.
“Optimization” is undoubtedly a digital marketing buzzword. In the digital marketing industry, optimization means applying learned metrics and analytics to a marketing campaign to improve it.
For example, let’s say you’ve been blogging for a year now. You write blogs that focus on three categories: relevant industry news, informational how-to blog posts, and company updates.
When you look at your marketing analytics, you see that your company update blogs have no traction on social media, are the least read pages on your website, and have a very high bounce rate.
You might “optimize” your blogging strategy by minimizing the number of company update blogs you write, or by taking out that blog category altogether.
You’re using metrics and analytics to improve or “optimize” your blogging campaign. Thus, you are using optimization to increase your blog’s potential to convert visitors and leads.
Lead generation is another digital marketing term that’s used all.the.time. The term lead generation means bringing new, qualified potential customers into your marketing and sales cycle.
Typically, lead generation is used in the context of describing a digital marketing effort. For example, blogging and deploying pay-per-click advertising campaigns are both digital marketing efforts that work to increase lead generation. That is, they work to draw more qualified potential buyers (um: leads) into your website and sales cycle.
B2B – Business to Business
This is an acronym we use constantly but rarely explain. It simply means a business that sells to other businesses, rather than to consumers.
Good examples include industrial manufacturers or companies that sell a service (like digital marketing companies).
A manufacturer who produces lug nuts is considered a B2B. They develop a very small part of an automobile, and they sell that part to another manufacturer, like Ford or Dodge, who sells to the consumer.
It’s a little trickier to market B2B companies than B2C companies because their ideal buyer isn’t a person, it’s a company. Some digital marketing companies (like us) have taken this challenge to heart, and focus the majority of their time and effort on implementing and optimizing campaigns for B2Bs.
B2C – Business to Consumer
These are more traditional companies who sell directly to consumers. We mentioned above Ford and Dodge — these are manufacturers who sell to a consumer, rather than another manufacturer. More common examples would be grocery stores and online clothing retailers.
Lead nurturing is a key concept behind the inbound marketing methodology. When you nurture a lead, you’re interacting with them in a positive way that leaves a good impression of your company. The more of these lead nurturing interactions you have, the further you draw that lead through the sales cycle. Stellar lead nurturing shortens the length of the sales cycle and delivers qualified customers more quickly.
Relevant email workflows and timely, helpful follow-ups are examples of lead nurturing actions.
Search engine optimization is the process of changing and improving your website for the best possible search engine ranking. Writing content that addresses specific keywords, implementing a mobile-responsive website design, and ensuring your website has a fast load time are all examples of search engine optimization tactics.
Anything you do to make your website function better and provide a more user-friendly, informative experience for web browsers is considered SEO.
CTA – Call To Action
A call to action is a tool you use on your website, or in your digital advertising campaigns to entice consumers to take an action. In an ad, the call to action might be to click over to your website. On your website, a call to action might ask a visitor to sign up for your newsletter.
Typically, CTAs take the form of a button. When a consumer presses the button and takes the action to visit your site, download your content offer, or sign up for your newsletter, they’ve completed a conversion, and have moved one step further through the sales cycle.
A landing page is any page on your website where a visitor lands after clicking over from somewhere else. Typically, when marketers refer to landing pages, they’re talking about a page on your website that has been designed to capture a visitor’s contact information.
For example, if you’re running a digital advertising campaign, your ads will take anyone who clicks on the ad offer to a specific page that contains a form and a call-to-action that will capture a motivated visitor’s contact information.
Let’s say you’re a home builder that works in the higher market of custom home building and design. One of your buyer personas might be a doctor in his late 50s who is married and whose children are moving out of the house to pursue a college education.
To create a full buyer persona for this doctor, you would look at the pain points, challenges, and goals of this person, and write a very specific narrative for him to help guide your marketing decisions and target that person in the future.
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that’s most often associated with the inbound marketing methodology. Any content you create that functions to be helpful to your ideal client or buyer persona is a part of your content marketing strategy.
People most often think of a blog when they think of content marketing. And this is true: your blog is an integral part of your content marketing strategy, as it offers up helpful information that’s targeted to keywords you know your ideal clients is searching.
That said, a blog isn’t the only part of a content marketing strategy. Your content marketing strategy includes any content that works to draw in new, qualified leads and potential clients. That means video development, social media marketing, guest blogging, and even email newsletters are considered aspects of a content marketing strategy.
Digital Marketing Terms: Outbound Marketing
In case you haven’t heard, outbound marketing is making a comeback. When done properly, outbound marketing functions to draw in qualified leads to your website quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, outbound marketing is also chock full of acronyms and digital marketing terms that you might want explained. Here are a few of the most common outbound marketing terms that benefit from explanation:
KPI – Key Performance Indicator
KPIs are essentially all of the metrics you see results for from digital advertising campaigns. When an ad campaign ends, and Facebook or Google shows you the results of your campaign, most of the highlighted numbers in that report — like bounce rate, click through rate, cost per click, cost per impression, etc — are key performance indicators. KPIs can be any type of analytic, and in fact, most of the rest of the digital marketing terms in this section are key performance indicators.
CPC – Cost Per Click
How much you pay each time someone clicks on your digital advertisement. This is a KPI, and you’ll see it on reports for every digital ad campaign your company runs. Typically, you’re looking to run ads that have a low cost-per-click, unless your ads are highly targeted. If you’re showing ads to only a very small group of highly-qualified consumers, you might be willing to pay a little more for their clicks.
CTR – Click Through Rate
Click through rate is another metric that indicates how many of the people who saw your social media post or digital advertisement actually clicked on the link, and made it over to your site or the intended landing page.
Click through rate isn’t just for digital advertising. It’s also used in other digital marketing applications, like email marketing. An email’s click through rate refers to how many recipients clicked on a link in the email, and made it to a web page or took a desired action.
CPI – Cost Per Impression
One impression represents one time your ad was displayed on a website. Your cost per impression is how much you pay each time your ad is displayed. This metric doesn’t tell you anything about whether or not a user interacted with the ad, but it can give you an idea of how much reach the ad had. Impressions can help build brand recognition by getting your name out there, even if no one clicks on your ad. If you’re trying to build brand awareness, this is an important KPI.
CPA – Cost Per Acquisition
CPA or cost per acquisition is a metric that tells you how much it costs to acquire one customer. Cost per acquisition is calculated for advertising campaigns by dividing the total cost of your campaign by the number of conversions.
This is an important, high-level metric. CPA can tell you what the ROI of an advertising campaign is, and will show you if your ads are returning enough value. If your CPA is very high, you might consider changing or tweaking your ad targeting tactics.
A bounce rate is the number of people who immediately navigate away from your website or landing page after clicking on an ad or a link. A high bounce rate means that your visitors are probably not finding what they’re looking for on your site.
You can lower bounce rates by making sure your landing pages are specific to each ad you create, and by ensuring that your website and blog is full of informational content that makes sense for your industry, product, or service.
Ever shopped for something online, only to find that the next time you went to Facebook you saw hundreds of ads for that same product popping up left and right? That’s remarketing at its finest. Remarketing is an ad tactic that’s used to draw in customers who have already been to your site, but who have not yet made a purchase.
Digital Marketing Growth Terms
We’ve covered most of the FAQ terms that you hear when you talk about digital marketing. But there’s still one category left that we’d like to cover: digital marketing growth terms. Growth marketing is new, but it’s slowly increasing in popularity. Unfortunately, like most marketing methods, it has a few weird terms that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else. We’re going to try and explain them:
HubSpot is a CRM software, and company. The company acts as a resource for marketing teams and companies interested in the inbound marketing methodology. The HubSpot CRM is a powerful software that integrates your marketing and sales’ teams efforts to help you provide the best possible service to new leads and existing clients.
Account based marketing is a marketing strategy used primarily by B2B companies. It was developed to solve the specific challenge that B2B’s face trying to market to companies, rather than individual people
ABM focuses a B2B’s marketing efforts on a clearly defined set of target accounts — your ideal accounts, the types of companies you’d like to work with all the time — usually in the same one or two markets. ABM relies on highly personalized marketing campaigns that are created to speak directly to those ideal accounts’ specific pain points and challenges.
For a long time, sales teams focused on making sales and making sales alone. Today, we’re realizing that companies can be more effective as a whole when sales reps also know how to nurture leads and provide helpful content to prospective customers. Training and empowering sales teams to sell, market, and nurture leads is what we call sales enablement.
We hope this little vocab list helps clear up any digital marketing term confusion! If you have any more questions about digital marketing terms or digital marketing in general, we’d love to help. Get in touch whenever is convenient for you.