B2B Businesses: Going Social During Natural Disasters


When phone lines go down, social media is one outlet many can turn to. As Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast this week or earthquakes rock the West, social media and other marketing channels can prove invaluable. While most marketers handle customer crises, such as a dissatisfied customer or negative online review, with a strategic plan of approach, Mother Nature’s events are not always as easy to manage. Your B2B business can make the most of its marketing team during a hurricane by bracing for the storm with yet another plan, one that easily adapts to change. Marketing during a hurricane isn’t about your product, it’s about your people and the people affected.

Hurricane Sandy (Hurricane Irene Image)Email Marketing

If you’re looking for something to reach all your readers and customers on a more regular basis than blogging, but work with something that requires less time than social media maintenance, consider your e-mail marketing database. You can reach a wide spread of people who may not be on social media or active blog readers. Here are a few ways you can use your email database during Hurricane Sandy.

  • Use your newsletter lists. Many B2B businesses have newsletters. Send out a newsletter that provides information on natural disaster assistance and recovery. Keep the focus on the hurricane or natural event at hand first and tie in your business second.
  • Rework your email blast. When phone lines are down, people may turn to their email. Marketers always want timed email campaigns to be valuable and provide relevant information. Even in a moment of crisis, this should be your aim. Make sure you are providing current news updates related to your industry, geographical location and business as well as resources others can turn to for help.

Social Media

Social media provides users with the latest information on trending topics. Whether that’s SEO, a celebrity or Hurricane Sandy, people turn to their social networks for the most up-to-date reports. You can quickly communicate with your employees and customers by being tuned into your social media networks. Make sure you’re accurate, responsible and prompt to respond. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure that happens.

  • Be proactive. When you’re expecting a storm that could derail production or phone communications, make sure your followers and employees know what your business is doing in the event that happens.
  • Be consistent. Provide your fans and followers with consistent updates to avoid confusion and keep the communication lines open.
  • Be compassionate and keep calm. The information you share needs to be accurate and up-to-date. Your followers and fans want to be informed, so your business needs to be too – especially when it comes to the areas hit hardest.

Blogging

While social media may be a great resource for staying current with the latest news relating to Hurricane Sandy in real time, blogging is another channel your business can turn to. If you don’t have the time or opportunity to closely monitor social media, blogging is one area your business could turn to. A blog post before, during and after a storm can keep customers informed without the effort required by social media.

  • Before: When you are expecting a hurricane or other event that will impair the abilities of your business, writing a blog post about the realistic expectations, i.e. shipping delays, back orders, etc., can allow customers with orders pending to know what to expect. Even if you’re business won’t be hit, provide links to sites and resources others can turn to if affected.
  • During: This is an opportunity for your business to provide updates about the natural disaster, your business, and, again, resources those who are hit can turn to. Keep calm and provide information for how your business is managing with current conditions. Remain positive!
  • After: The first blog post after a storm should make note of how your business plans to pick up operations now that the dust has settled. While each business and industry will have to handle the situation differently, this post should be a positive and informational read, much like the rest of your natural disaster communications.

Marketing is often on the front lines and may be used to dealing in damage control online. However, using social media, your business blog, and email marketing database during Hurricane Sandy or an earthquake isn’t something to take lightly. You don’t want to lose your business or compassion. Balance the business and compassion for those being hit when your turn to a company account during a natural disaster. Don’t forget, there are useful organizations to follow before, during and after a natural disaster for breaking news and alerts as well as tips for staying safe. You may also want to tune into the channels your local newspaper, news station or government agencies are using.

How does your marketing team handle hurricanes?

Resources:

American Red Cross, FEMA.gov, NOAA.gov, National Hurricane Center


Accurate Timing Affects Email Marketing Success


In order to boost brand goals, make sure the timing of your email marketing campaigns is on point and on schedule. In a September StrongMail study, US marketers indicated that being able to ensure emails arrived during a specific time window increased engagement and their overall ability to run certain kinds of promotions that were dependent on timing. Triggered emails are one type of lead nurturing campaign that increases conversions.

It’s a Numbers Game

Triggered Email B2B MarketingSome important numbers from the StrongMail study were that one-third said email timing led to increased revenues, while just 9.2% claimed no benefits from being able to control email campaign timing. The majority of those who responded saw benefits from email timing.
Approximately 80% of those who responded aimed to have messages sent within 15 minutes of a customer’s action that triggers the email. One-quarter of respondents saw a “substantial” decrease in conversions after six hours or less, including 6.5% who saw a major difference after just two hours.

Timing is Everything
When it comes to monitoring leads, many sales teams have found that a quick follow up leads to an increase in conversions. Your email marketing strategy needs to take note. However, with emails you aren’t responding to a completed online form, you’re responding to an action a potential or current customer has taken. Here are a few of the best times to send out timed marketing messages.

  • When a prospective customer has abandoned their shopping cart. S&S Worldwide sends follow up emails within an hour of a cart being abandoned and these retargeted emails account for one-third of their annual e-mail sales.
  • When it is someone’s birthday or purchase anniversary. Epson’s “Happy Birthday” email generates revenue per email that’s 840% greater than the overall email program.
  • After relevant on-site searches. LowFare.com found that trigger emails sent after relevant on-site searches got 200% higher open rates and 50% higher CTR than their standard newsletter.
  • When you gain a new customer or client. Electronics company Roku sent an automated email to encourage new customers to refer their friends and contacts, which generated 75 percent of all registrations in the referral program.

What Else Can Triggered Emails Do?
Not only can well-developed and well-timed triggered emails increase email related sales and click-through rates, these emails provide your business with the opportunity to enhance the customer experience. A better customer experience can lead to more brand loyalty, return customers and referrals. Triggered emails amplify the customer experience by:

  • Taking personalization to new heights. Customers like to feel a connection to a brand. Because triggered emails take the trigger, customer behavior and your brand into consideration, personalization in each email is more accurate.
  • Providing your business with more data. A well-executed triggered email campaign can provide your marketing team with more data for future campaigns such as insights on recipient behavior, preferences, and potential for a sale.
  • Add value to customers. A triggered email that is geared to a specific customer will provide the customer with more information as they go through the buying cycle. You can build trust and loyalty while providing event-specific topics and offers.

In business, timing is everything. From setting up shop to getting someone on the phone at the right phase in the buying cycle, timing can’t be ignored. Triggered emails sent within an hour of the customer action taking place can grow your sales numbers while developing a better connection between the customer and your brand/business. B2B marketers are always looking for ways to connect and reconnect with prospects. Triggered emails, timed correctly, can help you do just that.

Does your B2B business use triggered/timed emails? Where have you seen the most success?


4 Quick Tips for Improving Conversion Rates


Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is something many B2B businesses focus on. Converting leads into customers is important and sales teams are always looking for ways they can increase their CRO. As it turns out, with a few tweaks in structure and strategy as well as some focused testing, your business can convert more leads and increase its rate of conversion. Make the most of your CRM and sales tracking software as well as your testing to convert more leads into customers.

Successful Segmentation

The more ways you segment your leads, the greater the chance you have at converting them into customers. A study conducted by Econsultancy and RedEye found that companies whose conversion had improved used 90% more ways to segment their visitors and customers than companies whose conversion had not improved or had stayed the same. The three key areas you can’t afford to ignore are geographic, demographic and behavioral segmenting. Other segmentations companies have found successful include buying behaviors, channels, lifestyle and levels of engagement.

Multivariate Testing

Many businesses still use A/B testing. A/B testing is just one of the ways to test how successful changes to your page are against the current design and determine which ones produces more positive results. Multivariate testing has become the most valuable method for improving conversion rates. While multivariate testing may difficult to implement, it has proven to be the most valuable in improving conversions for those who do it. Whether you choose to go with A/B or multivariate testing, your business needs to be testing the impact of your web design on a regular basis.

Usability Testing

Similar to multivariate testing, usability testing is important. This testing method of user-centered interaction will demonstrate how your website really works when facing a potential customer. In the same Econsultancy study mentioned above, researchers found that usability testing is by far the most effective technique for improving conversion rates as the vast majority of respondents deem this technique as highly (47%) or quite valuable (51%). This is the best way to see why customers are behaving the way they do on your site and if the site is easily navigable across multiple devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.

A Structured Approach

Econsultancy found that 70% of the company respondents with a structured approach to conversion had improved sales. Once comparison they found was that 24% of the organizations who had a structured approach to improving conversions had a large increase in sales while just 14% of companies that did not have a structured approach to improving conversion had a large increase in sales. Just looking for improvements without putting a strategy in place may lead to an increase in conversions, but taking those same thoughts and implementing a strategy for approach can make all the difference.

While different methods of testing or segmenting may require more effort, the ROI is worth the time you’ll be putting in. More and more, B2B businesses are transitioning from A/B testing to multivariate testing as well as from broad segments of leads and customers to more specific ones. Refining your CRO strategy means you’ll need to take a structured, customer-focused approach. By focusing on specifics and the structure of your approach, your business can increase its conversion rate and sales.

How will these numbers and strategies change your business’s approach?


Increase Sales Opportunities with Lead Nurturing Campaigns


Many B2B marketers dedicate time and money to lead generation. Whether you’re using online or offline marketing, from PPC campaigns to trade shows, your company wants to attract prospects. People who are in the early buying stage aren’t always ready for someone from your sales team to call. Reaching out too late is a known problem, but reaching out too early can drive away potential customers too. If you’re looking to improve the results of your lead generation efforts, turn to a lead nurture campaign.

What is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is how your business establishes a relationship with a prospect that is still in the early stages of buying. This type of campaign focuses on creating a beneficial, working relationship so that when it comes time to buy, that lead turns to your business instead of someone else. Lead nurturing is not about following up to see if someone is ready to buy or sending out an email blast about your company’s products. Lead nurturing is:

  • Providing high-quality content that is relevant
  • Building trust between you and the potential customer
  • Finding the most-qualified leads from your generation efforts

Best Practices

Making sure you run your lead nurturing campaign right is crucial to its overall success. In a study done by Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at 33 percent lower cost. The right campaign can improve your sales team results while saving your business money.

Right from the start, incoming lead processing campaigns provide your B2B business with the opportunity to create a fantastic first impression.

  • This is where lead nurturing begins.  Your sales and marketing teams should create a profile of an ideal customer to determine where a lead is “sales ready” or not. Once you have that in place, you can determine your opt-in email marketing or sales representative approach. Having email preference settings in place can help you fine tune your approach and nurturing content.

After you’ve processed a lead and determined where they are in the buying process, consider the information you’ll send them and the frequency. Depending on your business and industry, the time frame for emails will vary, but as rule more than once a week is too frequent and less than once a month is not frequently enough.

  • If a lead isn’t sales ready and is simply conducting research, your lead nurture efforts need to be geared towards sharing educational, industry-oriented information.
  • Even with all the online outlets available, B2B marketers need to focus on remaining as personable as possible, especially when it comes to their lead nurturing campaigns.
  • Match your content to where the potential customer is in their buying stages. If they are in the research stages, send tips on best practices, whitepapers, and other educational information. Once they begin showing interest in your content, begin sending more product and solution-focused information.
  • If they begin showing even more interest in your campaigns, hand the lead off to a sales representative. When you’ve determined the lead to be “sales ready,” making sure someone from sales gets in touch shortly can be a make it or break it moment.

Calculating ROI

According to DemandGen Report, on average, nurtured leads produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. But, when you’re calculating the ROI of your lead nurturing campaigns, focus on the number of sales ready leads and conversions from both your new and existing CRM databases. Whatever it is your business is hoping to gain from lead generation campaigns, track the before and after to see what is working best.

  • Lead nurturing can improve the conversion of prospects from your existing database to sales-ready leads by 2 or 3 times.
  • An effective lead nurturing campaign can help generate more qualified sales-ready leads without any additional spending on lead generation.
  • Focus on the old and new. Leads that have been deemed “old” aren’t a loss. With lead nurturing campaigns, you can turn old leaves into opportunities won.

Lead nurturing campaigns are a great way to make sure your business is making the most of your lead generation efforts. Even better, the right campaign and messaging can take dormant accounts from your database and turn those into conversions. The benefits of a lead nurturing campaign, beyond an increased percentage of lead conversions, are the insights you’ll gain into your most “sales ready” buyers, their purchase stages and needs.

 

Image Source: Espressob2b.com