What is Different for Interactive Content in B2B Marketing, and How to Use it?

Interactive content B2B marketing

What is interactive content for B2B marketing?

The traditional definition is that we create content that gets readers to engage and interact with our content. As a result, we can improve the effectiveness of our B2B marketing activities instead of slogging away at producing an endless stream of offers to get customers to respond.

But like everything else in the B2B marketing world, this definition too is changing. A customer’s attention is valuable, and you can’t compete for their time by doing more of what everyone is doing. So just because someone can click or answer a couple of questions, it doesn’t mean that you have met the interactive content bar.

The new definition of interactive content in B2B marketing

Interactive content must form an active bridge between marketing and B2B sales stages. The back and forth must be seamless because the B2B sales cycle is itself not linear.

That’s exactly what good interactive content does.

For example, to help with your B2B marketing campaigns your probably already have:

  1. Blog posts that outline a nuanced point of view or provide practical best practice advice
  2. Video – tutorials, trends, best practices
  3. Info-graphics
  4. Checklists
  5. Quizzes

All of these are excellent vehicles of B2B marketing. They get the word out there and raise your SEO score for organic reach. They also provide valuable credibility during the middle stages of B2B sales.

For example, as nicely explained by Neil Patel in this blog post, info-graphics can really help improve backlinks. They can increase your site authority and traffic too. If more people link to you, your credibility is higher.

Similarly, anyone who’s taken a Buzzfeed quiz can attest to the fact that they are irresistible. Inserting a quiz or calculator into a blog post is another way to make the blog post interactive. 

What’s Missing?

But for a business that engages in B2B sales and relies on multiple people making a decision, creating such kind of interactive content is not enough to do the job. If you have recently wondered about the quality of your MQLs that you have given to sales, or if you have struggled to keep up with middle and bottom of the funnel activities of your sales team, then you have the evidence you need.  Today’s interactive content may generate traffic and raise awareness, but doesn’t do anything more substantial.

As a result, B2B marketing teams are left in an intense cycle of trying to do more and more qualification. They are also constantly producing more and more content.  All this while their B2B sales teams still have to follow their traditional methods of engaging the buyers once they are in the door. That sounds like a major disconnect in alignment.

Before we outline how to tie in the top-of-the-funnel B2B marketing activities with bottom-of-the-funnel B2B sales activities, let’s look at some nice examples of real interactive content that do bring together both marketing and sales aspects.

Some great examples of Interactive Content

Before we discuss what’s missing in these excellent examples, let’s review them to see what makes them so great. Hubspot website grader This is a fantInteractive content hubspot website graderastic example of interactive content. It gives you immediate value, and gets you to engage with other content in a very focused and targeted way. If you get a 10/30 on performance of your website, wouldn’t you want to see the video that tells you how to improve that score? And after trying to fix it yourself, wouldn’t you engage an expert to do it for you?

BrightLocal Listings Scanner Interactive content local SEO

Another great example that gives people immediate value, and then guides them to a call to action that leads to a tangible benefit. Of course, you are much more likely to engage a local consultant or agency to do this for you, but BrightLocal becomes the tool of choice.

Conversion Helpers or Product Selectors

Interactive content credit card selectorExcellent for aiding decisions during checkout, these quiz like tools help you navigate a set of options to get to a solution. Much like a credit card selector. We found some more mentioned in a very nice article here. These are excellent examples of how to guide a customer journey along. You can help a customer decide which product to buy or which next step to take. It’s likely that customers will come back and buy from you all else being equal.

What’s Next for Interactive Content?

The examples we saw above were great at customer engagement. But almost all of them don’t go “beyond the moment”.

As any B2B sales and marketing professional knows, a successful transaction takes anywhere between 3-10 high quality touchpoints. These touchpoints have varying levels of detail – education, pitching, refining, pilots, trials, and so on.

Next generation interactive content not only achieves the first step of getting the client in at the top of the funnel, but it also addresses these next steps for continuous customer engagement. It connects the top-of-the-funnel (more traffic) to the middle-of-the-funnel (sales pursuit) to bottom-of-the-funnel (sales). That’s what is needed for B2B marketing that is aligned with B2B sales.

Interactive Content - sales assessmentFor example, assume that you are a coach that helps professionals with better career progression. This coach developed an interactive assessment for his clients to take the first step in engagement. Then used the goal setting feature to help the client in full context of their aspirations and present status. This is definitely something where the initial interactive content resulted in a long term engagement – profitable for both sides. In addition, the volume of top-of-the-funnel activities seem less important than just a few quality interactions.

Will This Work For You

If you rely on consultative B2B sales and B2B marketing, then you should explore interactive content of the new kind. You cannot remain satisfied with generating more and more content to get more eyeballs and visibility. It may look good on your dashboard, but it gradually erodes the value of all the hard work you do when MQLs don’t convert into SQLs with high accuracy.

Using such an approach for B2B marketing also helps streamline your time investment.  Every hour that you spend writing a blog post or creating an infographic maps back to the systematic structure that supports your interactive content. Once you have that going for you, your interactive content becomes an anchor that leads to what is called evergreen content – it keeps working for you over time!

Next steps

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

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How to Create Better Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)?

If you are looking to improve your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) process, and also your lead nurturing process, you have come to the right place.

Fact: 97% of the leads from marketing are not useful to sales(1).

Marketing Qualified Leads

Most firms in B2B selling and B2B marketing are finding it more and more complex to set up a good process to qualify “leads” before spending valuable sales time on them.

The harsh reality is that marketing often qualifies a lead based on actions such as downloads, clicks, form submissions, and open rates. But these signals are not necessarily sufficient for sales. For example, there may be no budget, no urgency or a real need, the action could be purely for education etc. Over time the sales team comes to view these “MQLs” as less and less valuable. That’s a big problem.

How can marketing teams adopt a more robust lead nurturing and qualification process?

For marketers trying to put up good numbers on the dashboard, adopting  practices like we outline below may look bad in the short term because your MQL rate may drop a bit, but you’ll be basking in glory in the long run.

A Quick Review of the Challenge

Lead scoring and nurturing has widely been reduced to a mathematical problem.

  1. We assign points when certain things happen.
  2. Then when the score exceeds a threshold we want to pass the lead on to sales
  3. We check the various boxes on our monthly dashboards.

The trouble is that no one is genuinely happy with a cookie cutter process like this. All this looks great for a few months as the shiny new toys are implemented. But when folks start drilling down into the actual impact such as revenue or new deals, this process looks like we are going through the motions – we know it needs to be done, but are struggling to get to the real value.

Is downloading an eBook, submitting a form, or attending a webinar really an adequate way anymore to score leads and pass them to sales? If the concept of “showrooming” from retail sales is familiar to you, you’ll agree that many of those “leads” are not looking to buy but have many other reasons to browse your material. Such leads should no longer become marketing qualified leads, and should not be passed to sales unless a higher level commitment happens. But how do you then progress such a lead? (we’ll address this below)

It’s even more complicated when your sales team rejects a lead. What happens then? How do you nurture them back “knowing what you know now”?

Finally, you have most likely been saddled by a marketing automation system AND a separate CRM system. Regardless of what anyone says, we guarantee that the integration is finicky or pretty dismal at best. Everyone is happy in isolation with their kingdoms, unless you look at the end to end process of how you qualify and nurture leads.

The Solution to a Good Marketing Qualified Lead

We think the biggest problem underlying all of this that we are failing to give an opportunity to our marketing team to actually qualify a lead properly to the Marketing Qualified Lead status before handing over to sales. This implies that the marketing team (or the SDR / inside sales team) must be able to interact with the prospect with something more than just emails.

Here is how you would empower both your marketing and sales teams with Evalinator:

  1. Create an interactive assessment – this is basically a maturity model quiz aligned with your sales offers. For example a marketing agency might have something like, “Is your SEO cutting it for you?”. A technology services company might create “Are you maximizing the time of your data scientists?” or “Is your data strategy up to the mark?”. A product development firm might create “Is your product development cycle geared for success?”.
  2. This self-assessment is then marketed in all the usual places, and users are given incentives to take it with the usual incentives. e.g. get this infographic after you take this assessment, etc.
  3. As respondents take the assessment, the marketing team can now follow up with a set of predefined or practiced interactions. Evalinator allows this through a variety of bench-marking and goal setting tools.
  4. Sales uses the same assessment to interact with the prospect with full context. And it becomes a great sales pursuit tool as well.

Those who respond to your assessment can be considered more promising and conversations with SDRs or the marketing team can follow a semi-automated cycle like this:

  • Follow up 1:  “70% of respondents actually scored higher on this category. Do you want more information?. Do X or Y”.
  • Follow up 2: Let’s set up a short term goal to do Z?

As is evident, X, Y, and Z are options that indicate a higher level commitment. For example, provide more information on budget and project need, ask other members of their team to take the assessment, agree to a short term goal to do something, etc.

All of this can still happen through your marketing automation system complimented by a manual touch for more promising leads. Three things can happen:

  1. The lead is going to push for a sales meeting – the best case.
  2. You will build up valuable context about the lead (important goals, budget, schedule etc.). Such lead work out much better when sales gets them.
  3. The lead will not respond in the right way to any higher level commitment. In which case, it was never a good lead to pass to sales to begin with.
Summary

The process of flagging a lead as a Marketing Qualified Lead needs to become more sophisticated. 97% of such leads are not useful to sales or are ignored.

In the long run, this is bad for the marking team’s morale, and also affects the productivity of the entire sales and marketing engine.

Try Evalinator and see if it is right for your situation. You don’t need to pay anything until the free trial ends.

References:
  1. Marketing Qualified Leads statistics
Next steps

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

What is Consultative Selling and How to Bridge the Gap?

consultative selling secret

Consultative selling has often been associated with building trust, adding value, and being customer-centric. It is often compared to transactional selling where you position your products and services, and discuss with the customers if they need them.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is NOT an either-or situation. Both types of selling are needed at different times of your sales cycle to successfully close the deal. But how do you bridge the gap between the two?

In fact, this article on Forbes by Lisa Earle McLeod provides some nice tips on consultative vs transactional selling. She also mentions the importance of interactive tools for sales.

In this post, we will show you how to use both types of selling and bridge this gap between consultative and transactional selling. That way you will be able to engage better and sell more.

In order to do that, we need to re-frame the question like this:

How do we find out what customer really need and then take charge of the conversation?

This re-frame of the typical sales question is important. Customers usually already have a vision of what the end state should look like. However, if you look under the covers, you will discover that they are actually trying to figure out their “execution” game plan. The vision itself might need some fine tuning but it’s more or less reasonably done.

Customers generally know where they want to be, but they don’t always clearly know “how” to get there.

And as a service provider, you are in the best position to help. Why? Because you have seen this story play out at many other clients before. You can help customers with the tactical game plan they need to successfully realize their vision.

Take any topic – supply chain effectiveness, e-commerce, big data analytics, customer experience, starting a business, marketing  and so on – you know “how” it has been done before to meet the “why”.

But instead we often get distracted by trying to lay out the vision, and then pitching our products to meet customer needs. In doing so we completely miss addressing the “how”.

Consultative selling chasm That’s true for coaching as well. Be it leadership, management, sales, life or career, you help your clients get to where “they” want to be. You don’t define the “why” for them.

And that’s where lies the gap in between consultative selling and transaction selling. We think we want to help the customer define their vision, but in fact what customers really want is to know “how” to get there! And by not engaging in that discussion we are giving up control of our customer engagement. We are not taking charge. We are leaving it up to the customer to decide how to engage us. That’s not a great option because customers are struggling too. They will gravitate towards either what’s in front of them or what they are comfortable with.

So let’s do this in 2 steps:

1. Determining what the customers actually need

Remember that we are not talking about vision or benefits. Customers already know that. What they don’t know is “how” best to get there.

That’s where “your” expertise comes in. Broadly speaking, every vision or goal can be supported by a given set of capabilities.

Whether it be technical, management or human. For example:

a. Technical capabilities – analytics, digital, agile, cloud, etc etc.

b. Management – product roadmaps, target markets, customer experience, competitive parity etc.

c. Human – culture, objectives, collaboration, leadership, fairness etc.

Believe it or not customers already know they need the above. Each of these capabilities above can be drilled down further. Your assessment should focus on how to apply the capabilities that map to your products and services. These in turn will help your customers achieve their goals. These capabilities and your expertise in them is what your customers need. So focus on those in your assessment. See where the gaps are, and what the customers is struggling with.

This is the first phase of consultative selling.

2.  Take charge of the conversation on the “how”

In this phase you are applying both consultative and transactional selling methods.

This is where you pick up steam. You assume the role of a coach or consultant who has understood the customer’s goals and vision, and drilled down into what they need. Now is the time to nurture them and help them realize their vision.

See this post on how to build trust during the sales cycle. This article by Marissa Levin on Inc. also brings out some excellent points.

Your experience proves your expertise. If you share your case studies and customer testimonials, your prospects will trust you. This post is NOT about building that kind of trust.

Also, you are NOT adding value by giving them free stuff. You are adding value by helping them define “how” to apply these capabilities to get to their goals. That’s what you do in BOTH consultative and transactional selling. The only difference is that you are not doing it with context of the “how”.

So, set short term goals that helps clients think through and apply the capabilities to their vision. For example if you sell analytic services you might help them break down the problem into some relevant categories, if you sell SEO services then your goals will be linked to those actions, and if you are a life coach then you might be helping them build good habits.

Whatever the case, always tie these goals to a tangible benefit that your customers can observe.

Summary

This 2 step approach has the unique benefit that you can operate with context. And doing that helps you pull away from the commoditized offers and solicitations your customers may be getting.

Your assessments provide value (aka clarity), and your engagement efforts deliver tangible benefits.

So the next time you send a cold email, don’t ask “We sell X and we can delivery Z benefits to you. Can we discuss?

Instead ask “I think you want to get to Y. And X is needed to get there. Here are the Z problems others like you have faced which we have helped overcome. Can we discuss?”.

Or something like that. Your assessment on Evalinator will help frame this pitch.

Good luck and hope to see you on Evalinator!

Next steps

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

Solving the #1 challenge with your sales follow up emails

Only 2% of deals are closed in the first sales meeting. In fact most sales transactions require more than 5 follow up emails to get closer to a good next step. And only 8% of the sales persons get to that stage. These were the results of a study published by Marketing Donut.

sales follow up

Of course, there has been much written about the need to systematically follow up, don’t accept know NO for an answer, and try to personalize, personalize, personalize!

But despite all of the available tips and tricks about testing different subject lines, advice on style of writing, length of emails etc., we think the underlying challenge is something different. Sales persons, frankly, just run out of personalized material to share in their sales follow up emails. Instead, they fall back to “just checking in”, or “just wanted to share an update that…”.

Sending multiple sales follow up emails does result in you being top of inbox. So it’s a great strategy to implement. But whether you like it or not, that strategy is also being used by everyone else. It’s becoming easier by the day too – marketing automation tools send emails automatically on the sales persons behalf. So at best, when the right moment comes, the buyer may remember you and include you in their shortlist, as they begin to seriously assess who to select.

Unless…you have done something different with your sales follow up emails and have succeeded in building a trust connection. One way to do that is to include meaningful content in your sales follow up emails.

How to include meaningful content in sales follow up emails

Meaningful content is something that shows the customers that you are not just sending them content that you send to everyone else.

Everyone sends product updates, latest corporate announcements, and so on. That content is focused on the seller. However, the important thing to do is to reflect those developments in terms of how they apply to your prospect. That’s perhaps easy to do with the first sales follow up email when you refer to your in-person interactions and position your product.

But with the second email or phone call onward, its not easy to write something meaningful except the good old “I’m checking in to see if now is a good time to reconnect…”.

Instead, what if you could say “I have an update on this specific goal of yours that we discussed in our meeting…”? That would surely be far more interesting to the prospect, and more likely to elicit a response.

That kind of sales follow up is possible only if you have discussed customer goals in the meeting. But that doesn’t happen too often. Most of the times, we are just keen to share how great our product or service is without getting to what the customer could actually be struggling with.

We know how difficult it is to not jump into a “product first” presentation. After all, you don’t fully know what the customers problems are, and the customer is hesitant to share them without knowing more about you first. So it makes sense to build credibility right off the bat, and do your pitch.

That’s where a thoughtfully crafted interactive assessment comes in.

How to use interactive assessments to meaningfully enable your sales follow up

sales follow up assessmentMost sellers know who their buyers are, and what their general pain points are. So an interactive assessment that starts with validating those pain areas can begin the interaction on the right foot. Here’s how such an approach can be implemented:

  1. A series of questions you ask related to the subject matter of the sales call. Whether is coaching, business services, management consulting, or IT services.
  2. The responses to those questions feed into a benchmarking model that also shows how the prospect compares to their peer group.
  3. Then the planned sales pitch – product overview and presentation of credentials in the form of one or more case studies
  4. Finally, using the benchmark model to engage in a discussion of where the prospect would like to see themselves in the short term, and what some of those goals could be.
  5. Gauge the prospects propensity to engage (budget, dependencies etc.), and close.

Note that steps 3 and 5 are already executed by most sales persons. Its steps 1, 2 and 4 that are often unable to be carried out, or carried out as a conversation to learn more about each other.

What we are doing with Evalinator is to help you formalize those icebreaker and exploratory conversations into an actionable model.

This model then leads to informed sales follow up communications. And as you update the model with conversations with other prospects, the data set becomes richer, and you are then able to engage with meaningful statistics and insights.

Next steps

If this approach sounds even remotely reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

Why is personalization so difficult in B2B sales and marketing?

We know that personalization is critical to build trust and engage our customers. And there are a lot of tools and plenty of advice that help us personalize our interactions.

personalization - sales funnel

Yet, every time a salesperson or marketer  decides to do something, they struggle to really personalize. Let’s dissect that a bit.

 The bar is higher, but it is also anti-personalization

Till recently, basic personalization was expected. That was about including names in emails, showing relevant content on websites, and even showing relevant advertisements and recommendations on shopping carts. We did that with software automation. So someone who has downloaded a piece of content is now sent a sequence of emails that we believe are relevant to that person, designed to move them closer to a purchase. Similarly, we use re-targeting to show our advertisements all over the web to people who have viewed a product on our website.

By doing these things, we hope to catch them at the right point in their buying cycle so they are more likely to come to us. They may not be ready to buy right now, but one day they will be. And we hope to be there in their inbox or on the website they are on.

personalization at top of funnelSo this personalization is a better mousetrap – traditional mass marketing with better technology. It does not have too much context of why or when. It’s based on statistics and hope. Marketers face this reality every day, but they still make a lot of money.

It definitely works. So what’s the problem.

Mass personalization doesn’t work as well for expertise based B2B businesses

Brand awareness does count. So an agency selling analytics or digital capabilities would do well to be all over the web, and top of the inbox of their prospects. For this purpose email automation and re-targeting advertisements work very well.

But there is also the B2B sales funnel to cater to. The sales cycle is typically  several weeks or months long, and generally not based on impulse purchases. The automation techniques help with the top of the funnel but don’t do much to help with the middle of the funnel (answering questions and positioning) and bottom of the funnel (transaction closing). When we say expertise based B2B businesses, we mean coaches, consultants, agencies and services firms. All of these need context to build trust, so they can understand their customers’ pain areas and priorities. These are crucial elements to progress with the sales cycle instead of relying on blind outreach.

To satisfy these middle and bottom of the funnel personalization needs, we believe that building trust during the sales cycle is very important.

Let the customers try to do it on their own first – Become a partner, not just a one-way sales person

Most customers want to try themselves first. Any digital agency will agree that customers try SEO and content marketing themselves first. And when they realize they are in over their heads because it takes too much time and knowledge, only then do they turn to an external partner to help them. Same way for coaches (business or life) and any other services or management consultant. personalization - coaching

You have to let the customer try first. It is their struggle. Not yours.

But when customers are trying it out, you want to be there to help them and guide them. Otherwise you will have lost your pole position and become just one in a list of many possible agencies or coaches to ask for proposals.

A good way to becomes a partner is to lead with your biggest asset – your expertise.

Let’s face it. Every one wants to know how they are doing. By positioning an interactive assessment that helps customers benchmark their performance, it opens up a process of discovery. They are open to further discussions because the conversation has jumped from a product sale, to a needs and goals analysis. The sales process upgrades to a fit analysis, and milestone definition.

As the customers are trying it out, you are helping. And guess who they lean on when they realize they need external help. That’s where an interactive assessment from Evalinator comes in. It provides you with context for personalization in the middle and bottom stages of the sales cycle. It helps you become a partner in your customers’ journey.

Ready to give it a try? Sign up for free and try it out. We know you’ll love it.  

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

How to build trust during a sales cycle?

Why is it important to build trust during a sale cycle?

79% of buyers prioritize trust in a sales relationship as a key factor (2019 Salesforce State of Sales study).

Customers always appreciate a process where the focus is on the goals they are trying to achieve, not on the actual product being bought or sold.

And, regardless of who you are, you are always selling to grow your business. So whether you are a consultant or a coach, your buyer is evaluating both you and your “sales pitch” as they decide to engage.

Are you building trust?

trust in a sales cycle Only 3% of buyers trust their sales reps! (Hubspot sales statistics for 2020). So it is obvious that most of us today need to do much better at building trust during our sales cycles.

Given that it is so important, our goal should be to build a position of trust in our buyers’ minds. If we establish a trusted advisor position, then clients will look to us for guidance as well. And will likely prefer to buy from us rather than the competition – all else being reasonably similar of course.

Here are some strategies to help build trust in your sales cycles with your prospects:

Build trust at the start of the sales cycle

Sharing benchmarks on how your customer’s peers are doing on various dimensions of the problem, and empathizing with your prospect’s problems is a great way to break the ice and instill confidence. It also shows that you know the space, the problems, and the solutions that might work the best. When you use an interactive assessment such as Evalinator, you get can easily offer personalized benchmarks to your customers.

This starts building the foundations of trust in the sales cycle. The earlier you do this, the better. Sharing survey results, 3rd party analyst reports, independent research, or benchmarks from your interactive assessment can be a great way to do that so long as you personalize those results and make them relevant. Be careful that you don’t appear pedantic or make too many assumptions for your customers though.

Use diagnostics to clarify the need and understand the priorities

Too often, customers have a sense of where they are and what they want to do. But they are not always very clear about the issues. In these cases, they appreciate a diagnostic tool from you to help them define that need, understand where they lack the most, and quantify where they are doing well.

As a coach or consultant, you should probably start with a simple diagnostic. Whether it’s free or paid doesn’t matter. Starting with a diagnostic shows that you bring a structured approach to the table. And your customers will appreciate that during a sales cycle. It anchors the discovery process and build trust. For example, coaches may start with a “Wheel of Life”, and consultants may start with a “maturity assessment”. You can sample a few assessments here, and you can even sign up for free to create one for yourself!

Help clients create a vision and concrete goals

trust during a sales cycleA diagnostic performed with an interactive assessment is a great way to get prospects and customers to open up about their problems and vision. Perhaps some of the items didn’t make sense, or perhaps they simply hadn’t thought about them.

When you have the results of the diagnostic in hand, you can then share with clients additional benchmarks about how others in their position are tackling those challenges. It also helps you work with your clients to set a vision for where they want to go.

A few concrete goals at this point are possible to set even if they have not decided to buy from you. Doing so establishes you as an advisor, who they can start to trust during this intimate sales process. The sales process does not actually look like sales anymore, because they start seeing you as an advisor, and someone they trust. See this blog post on how goal setting works with an interactive assessment you create on Evalinator.

Help selflessly but don’t go overboard

This phase of the sales cycle is called nurturing your prospect. You build trust by helping them with advice, tips and tactics. This advice can easily be personalized if you are using an interactive assessment. You partner with them on this discovery journey so they can define what they need clearly.

But it is also easy to lose focus at this time. So you need to balance being an advisor and someone who does need to get paid. More often than not, if your customers have budget and the need is qualified, they will sign with you if everything else checks out (credentials, capability, price etc.).

It’s also human nature to return the favor. So if you help them, your customers will empathize with you and go out of their way to help you. (within reasonable means of course). Price becomes less important at this time because its easy to manage those expectations with additional value that you are providing. In addition, by engaging with customers, you have built up a barrier to entry for your competitors because you have the context that they don’t.

Building trust needs work but it is easily done if you have the right tools. Being genuine is important so there is no shortcut other than believing in your product or service, and caring about your customers.

In most cases the product itself is not different or unique enough. But you – YOU – can be the difference. The trust and relationships you build will be the reason the customer will buy from you.

Try Evalinator for free to determine if it can help you build trust in your sales cycle.

But wait. We don’t want to sell you on something just like that. Before you subscribe, check to see if Evalinator is right for you. That way you will know if using Evalinator will work for you.

We’ll see you around!

 

Here are 5 of the Top 7 Email Marketing Mistakes You can Eliminate

email marketing solve 5 of 7 top issues

Recently we came across a nice blog post on Jeff Bullah’s website describing the top 7 email marketing mistakes that you should avoid.

It was surprising that 5 of those 7 mistakes were related to the context that you have about your customers. This is also a common theme across most research around this topic of email marketing.

These mistakes were largely about:

  1. Not having insights about your audience
  2. Lack of personalization
  3. No familiarity with sender
  4. Unappealing subject line
  5. Content not being relevant

All of these point to the one underlying issues that every marketer or sales person faces with email marketing: What to write to my customers and prospects about that they will find relevant?

And over time, the more bland emails we send, the more we fade away from your customers minds. Because customers don’t find value in what we send them. It becomes a mechanized engine which is not very effective.

Don’t we all nervously track the open rates and click through rates of our emails every day. We know that feeling that email marketing brings.

email marketing can be hard workOne way to avoid this is to do research for every prospect. But that’s extremely time consuming, and does not work very well if you have to reach your database every week or month.

The second way is to send information that they might consider relevant. e.g. send some industry statistics. The problem is that these are not directly actionable. A common reaction is “yes, but so what I can do about it”.

How to solve these email marketing problems?

With Evalinator you can build:

  1. Context of your customers – So your emails can be about them. Won’t that be an awesome way to get their attention and keep them engaged.
  2. Lead with relevant action items – There is no “so what” anymore. You have a clear cut action item for them because both you and them agree on what that next action is. And if they want to change that action item to something else, then they can – and you can chip in too.
  3. Put in statistics only you can send – Evalinator generates targeted statistics that your customers care about. For example, if email marketing was your topic, then they would see that “60% of other marketers like them have the same problem”, or that “75% of all sales people in their industry think that marketing is not helping as much”. Now that’s really relevant.
  4. Keep them engaged with promotions: Everyone procrastinates and that includes your customers. But what if you could give them a freebie and help them at the same time…e.g. “here’s a chance to enter a raffle if you complete X in the next 30 days.”. That would be a win-win!

email marketing solvedSo you can solve those pesky email marketing issues like personalization and relevance by using Evalinator. It lets you build trust by engaging in a way that is truly helpful.

Try Evalinator for 21 days risk free.

But wait. We don’t want to sell you on something just like that. Before you subscribe, check to see if Evalinator is right for you. That way you will know if using Evalinator will work for your email marketing woes.

We’ll see you around!

Image credits: Here, here, and here.

Why We Must Go Beyond Content Marketing?

How to go beyond content marketing?

What does it mean to go beyond content marketing?

You are probably already engaged in content marketing. Or you are thinking of starting. It simply means that you would like to publish different types of content that your users and prospects can engage with. That way you can secure better mindshare. Your customers will remember you when they are ready to buy a product or service that meets their needs.

Content marketing is no doubt an effective strategy.  It helps you reach your customers, educate them, and subsequently get them to buy your products and services.

But Content Marketing Is Not Enough

There are 3 main reasons for that:

  1. First, it’s simply because content marketing has rapidly become akin to the traditional mass marketing and advertising of the past. It has become just “another” interruption tactic. For your content to be seen by your target customers, you need to deploy traditional advertising techniques – lots of it. The promise of the digital age was personalization and presenting a point of view. But content marketing has slowly become a segment based outreach strategy – mass personalized, but not personalized.
  2. Second, it’s not special any more. Quality content is hard to come by. Everyone is putting in the same keywords as they strive for better SEO (to rank higher in google searches). And folks are publishing content with titles that promise the same thing. Differentiating by bringing in your unique point of is becoming very difficult. Your voice just gets lost in the crowd.
  3. Finally, it is hard. Because it has become a mass, segment based marketing tactic, we are always in a rush to produce more content, and then pay to promote it. And that is a rabbit hole that never ends. So we do it for a while with all the right intentions, and then we just give up. Because like traditional marketing, the “create and blast content” strategy needs a lot of time and resources.

beyond content marketing. know the faces by personalizationThe result: We end up with a faceless strategy.

That said, we can’t give up on quality content marketing. After all, it’s the lifeblood of businesses today. Customers look for the right content so they can make informed decisions, and establish rapport with you.

 

So what can be done? How can we go beyond content marketing, and maximize our RoI.

What We Need To Go Beyond Content Marketing

The answer is to start thinking in terms of:

  1. Evergreen anchor content. Frequent of content will follow from there.
  2. Personalization to the individual in addition to the segment
  3. Interactivity

By evergreen anchor content, we mean a set of content assets that address the core pain points of your customers in a systematic and comprehensive way. These are NOT your weekly blogs on current topics that will get stale quickly. Your anchor content is something that your business is based on – ours is based on building better engagement with prospects and customers. Pick the focus of your business and address the topic in a good reasonable way.

Your evergreen topics are relevant 24/7, 365 days a year to those who care, or those who will come to care. Be sure to look up some  keyword research tools to make sure you’re using the phrases your customers are using to search for your service. These content assets (e.g. a set of blogs, your methodology, etc.) is your evergreen anchor content. This is also what customers see when they visit you – quality, no-fluff content.

Then you deploy a “one-to-one” customer interaction approach to attract, qualify and nurture your customers towards your paid services and products. This personalization comes from interctivity where customers engage with your content – e.g. do a self assessment, set a goal for themselves, see what others like them are doing to address the pain points, read advice from you, etc.

You must be thinking “but that’s what I do today when a customer responds and sets up the first discovery call”.

Beyond content marketing through individual goal settingThere’s a subtle difference. And that difference comes from what we at Evalinator call “context”.

Here’s what happens today: If we can’t convert a customer during that first interaction or discovery call, we then fall back on a nurturing and reminder approach. We email them new content periodically, and we also make it a point to periodically email them and ask if they are ready to make a decision.

What’s missing? Context. Our nurturing and reminder approach is rarely personalized. It’s mass marketing disguised as personalized. Because we don’t know the individual customer. We only know the general “segment” of the customer.

At Evalinator, we think you should go beyond the routine content marketing, and engage with your prospects as an individual. When you have context, you know what their individual pain points are. You know what they need to do to keep chipping away at it. And you offer to be there during their struggles. Over time, they realize that they want you to help them get to their destination.

It’s almost like we need to rekindle that lost art of customer engagement. Machines and tools have given us the means to do so, but they’ve also made us lose sight of what’s really important.

Meaningful retention doesn’t happen because we have a busy content marketing engine.  It happens because we cared enough to go beyond content marketing to focus on our customers as individuals. We make a sale because they know we can help them get to their goals, and we keep them from churning because we engage.

Evalinator helps you build trust by engaging in a way that is truly helpful.

Go beyond content marketing. Try Evalinator for 21 days risk free.

But wait. We can do one better than that sales pitch! Before you subscribe, see if Evalinator is right for you. That way you know that we practice what we preach.

We’ll see you around.

 

References:

  1. List of keyword research tools by Ahref
  2. Image credits because the creators deserve it: Here and here

 

Use Goal Setting For More Effective Sales Follow Ups

Goal Setting give you a powerful mechanism for sales follow ups. It allows you to engage your customers and prospects 1-1 through personalized interactions.

Read on about how an interactive assessment can allow you to engage in goal setting with your clients. Used this way, your interactive assessments will become much more than just an online quiz to get email addresses.

Sometimes customers know where they are going, and sometimes they don’t. They often need your help to determine their destination and get there. Using Evalinator, you can help your prospects do just that with goal setting, and equally importantly, get your clients to trust you in the process.

That way, not only do you build your email list, you also generate more engagement and revenue overall.

Goal setting and interactive assessments

Increasing use of technology does not mean that we automate everything and pretend like it is personalized. Customers always know! So customer engagement must include:

  • Empathy
  • Personal attention
  • Context

So goal setting combined with interactive assessments offer you the best of both worlds – email signups and engagement.

Here are some best practices to follow while engaging in goal setting. We also mention when something can be automated, and when you need personal touch.

Step 1: Create actionable profiles of your prospects & customers

Common segmentation practices today rely on either static parameters like demographics (title, role etc.), or guesswork such as who opened and clicked on emails.

goal setting with contextThese are good steps towards personalization but on their own they do not take into account aspirations of customers. Therefore your goal setting will not be as relevant and impactful. 

Further, each such segmentation parameter is considered in isolation in your email database – perhaps as a flag to determine what kind of content to send next. It also does not include how one customer may be performing on their aspirations vs-a-vis their peers.

An interactive assessment using Evalinator helps you with more relevant  and contextual segmentation. For example, you might want to show that sales and marketing leaders think differently about the same question e.g. customer mind share, sales enablement, advertising, etc.  Similarly, you might want to bring out how different persons within the same demographic may perceive things differently. e.g. clarity of purpose in life, career goals, or relationships.

It follows that the quality of goal setting you have with the right context is very meaningful. As a coach or consultant, if you know the intent of your prospect or customer, then you have a powerful way to bring insights to your customers and discuss resolutions. It also helps you go beyond traditional content marketing

These insights that you get out of the box with Evalinator help you with the next step in sales follow ups – goal setting.

Step 2: Organize readouts to clarify goals and share insights 

Once your respondents have taken your interactive assessment, then you can do the readout in multiple phases in order to initiate goal setting.

Goal setting based on visionIf you are coaching or consulting a group of people such as in a corporate setting, then doing a group followup session is a great way. Here you show overall scores by the various segments so they can see where they stand vis-a-vis their peers.  If you’ve ever been through a session that shows how different people perceive the same thing differently, then you already know how exciting it is for participants of such a session. A group session allows for personal interaction but still offers economies of scale and time. You could also choose to do this in a webinar or email newsletter. Note how this also gives you ready-made material for your content marketing!

  • Ask everyone to observe how they fare against the benchmark and why.  Each individual should be looking into their custom assessment results. More often than not, there will be some surprises and a few aha moments.
  • Brainstorm on what is good, what is not so good.
  • Discuss both immediate and long term resolutions
  • Request your respondent(s) to put in their individual goals and time frames – keep them short in duration (3-5 weeks or less), and measurable.
  • You can also ask everyone to put in something that you deduced – your secret sauce based on your experience!

Your goal setting journey has begun!

Step 3: Set up periodic reviews

How many times have you attended the most amazing sessions only to go back to your daily routine and forget all about what you learned?  It is natural and expected. The daily grind and operational pressures cause that to happen to everyone.

periodical goal setting reviewsFor this reason, as a coach or consultant, you want to set up periodic reviews and refresher sessions. It also helps you quantify and demonstrate the value & ROI (Return on Investment) of your engagement. Your customers – corporate or individual – are always calculating what they are getting in return for paying you. With Evalinator this is easier than ever to demonstrate that because you now have something to anchor the discussions, and common goals to work towards.

  • Schedule predefined sessions every 2-4 weeks or so. This will depend on how you charge among other things
  • Use the assessment results, and goals to guide that discussions
  • Show the progress on goals to keep up motivation
  • Review important concepts using the questions and rating scales of your assessment as an anchor

Conclusion

There you have it. An end to end roadmap from initial engagement to a thriving relationship and quality sales follow ups through the use of goal setting based on the results of an interactive assessment. Follow these steps for an amazing 1-1 engagement with your clients.

Your interactive assessment now allows you to go beyond the static, guessing game of segmentation to factors that really matter.  Now you can truly engage in follow up sessions and coaching without losing context.

Every interaction can be personalized and makes your sales follow ups very productive. Not to mention your content marketing gets easier too.

Read about the 4 types of interactive assessments you can create with Evalinator.

 

Create Your Interactive Assessment Now