Top B2B Demand Generation Tactics for 2018, According to Survey

B2B Demand Generation TacticsDemand Gen Report recently polled 160 marketing executives and found some interesting trends behind B2B demand generation tactics. Emails remain the number-one channel for engaging top-of-funnel leads, as well as converting mid- to bottom-of-funnel prospects. The survey also reveals that marketers now increasingly rely on “cross-channel” strategies in order to meet “more aggressive” revenue goals.

Around 70% of B2B marketers say their demand generation budget will grow in 2018. That’s in response to higher sales growth projections for this year, as B2B companies target at least a 30% increase in revenues. As a result:

  • 28% of respondents report their organizations set revenue-based quotas for marketers (compared to 23% in 2017)
  • 30% of respondents say pipeline influence is the main metric to gauge marketers’ performance (up from 27% in 2017)
  • 73% of respondents rank lead quality as the number-one demand generation goal

With marketing increasingly being tied to revenues and in the face of ever-changing buyer behavior, marketers continue to refine their B2B demand generation tactics. Here’s what the Demand Gen Report study finds:

 

Top B2B Demand Generation Tactics

Findings from the Demand Gen Report study indicate that different tactics work best at different stages of the sales cycle. Around 68% of the polled marketers rank in-person events as the most effective tactic for generating qualified top-of-funnel leads, followed by webinars at 61%. Here’s what the complete rankings look like:

  1. Live Events (68%)
  2. Webinars (61%)
  3. Lead Nurturing (57%)
  4. Whitepapers (50%)
  5. Case Studies (50%)
  6. Videos (37%)

For the top-performing demand generation tactics at later stages in the funnel, case studies outrank other strategies as follows:

  1. Case Studies (73%)
  2. Lead Nurturing (63%)
  3. Live Events (55%)
  4. Webinars (54%)
  5. Whitepapers (47%)
  6. Videos (38%)

 

Top B2B Demand Generation Channels

Close to 3 out of 5 B2B marketers rank Emails as the most effective channel when it comes to driving awareness and interest in the early stages of the sales process. The complete rankings are as follows:

  1. Emails (59%)
  2. Search (56%)
  3. Website (51%)
  4. Social Media (44%)
  5. Online Ads (27%)
  6. Retargeting (19%)
  7. Content Syndication (17%)
  8. Telemarketing (14%)
  9. Direct Mail (7%)
  10. Predictive Analytics (2%)

Here’s how these channels perform when it comes to converting leads later on in the sales funnel:

  1. Email (81%)
  2. Website (50%)
  3. Telemarketing (45%)
  4. Retargeting (27%)
  5. Direct Mail (20%)
  6. Search (18%)
  7. Social Media (17%)
  8. Content Syndication (11%)
  9. Predictive Analytics (11%)
  10. Online Ads (6%)

 

Cross-Channel Strategies

Among the key takeaways from the Demand Gen Report survey is that marketers shift their preferences for different B2B demand generation tactics and channels at different points in the sales cycle. Search ranks highly (2nd) during the early funnel stages, but diminishes in importance later on. The same can be said of telemarketing, which the survey shows as a better channel for converting opportunities than as a tool for engaging fresh leads.

This indicates that B2B marketers understand when and how to use these different channels. Oftentimes, this involves combining these tools into a single, coherent strategy where each channel complements the others.

At ContactDB, for example, we use a multi-channel approach when doing demand generation campaigns for our customers. We leverage the scale and reach of email marketing to enhance live phone conversations with the target hand-raisers and use social media to reinforce these touch points.

It’s clear that B2B demand generation tactics are evolving, and it’s time for marketers to adapt.

Make Up or Break Up: Re-engagement email campaign Tips from the Experts

Re-engagement email campaignEvery email list has its fair share of inactive contacts, and every email marketer once in a while asks whether to hold on or let go. There’s unfortunately no easy answer when it comes to deciding what to do with disengaged subscribers. But with the right re-engagement email campaign, marketers can manage inactive subscribers more effectively.

According to Kissmetrics, inactive contacts make up as much as 60% of an average email list. Meanwhile, Return Path estimates that highly-engaged subscribers represent only around 24% of contacts. Having a large number of inactive accounts on your list drags down email deliverability, since low engagement rates tend to signal poor sender reputation.

Apart from causing deliverability issues, inactive subscribers also waste marketing resources. Most ESPs charge customers based on the volume of emails sent (which, in turn, largely depends on the size of your list). Paying for contacts that won’t convert into nurtured opportunities or closed deals clearly hurts your email marketing ROI.

But there’s more to dealing with inactive contacts than simply deleting them from your list altogether. It’s good practice to run a re-engagement email campaign to try and win back stalled subscribers. The campaign’s results will help you determine which contacts to keep and which ones to forget about.

So, how should you reach out to uninterested contacts? Here’s what the experts have to say.

 

Define exactly what “inactive subscriber” means

As MailChimp explains, the term “inactive subscriber” can mean different things to different marketers. But in general, a contact gets labeled as inactive in two ways:

  • Based on a subscriber’s activity (or lack thereof)
  • Based on time elapsed since last engaging with a campaign

It’s up to you how much lack of activity (opens or clicks in the last X emails) or time period to set as your criterion. The key thing to remember is that a lack of interaction doesn’t indicate inactivity right away (which brings us to our next point).

 

Segment inactive contacts into 3 groups

Now that you’ve chosen a yardstick to measure inactivity, it’s time to figure out what to do with contacts that meet the criterion. Campaign Monitor notes that inactive subscribers fall into 3 categories, each requiring a different re-engagement approach.

  • Never-Actives –subscribers who have never engaged, most likely contacts who signed up for a one-time offer such as a free download. Send a re-commitment email that lets them indicate their mailing preferences.
  • Dormant – subscribers who were once active but have now become unengaged. Send a series of nurturing emails that offer value (such as a relevant article or resource).
  • Customer Inactives – Once-active customers who no longer interact with any of your campaigns. Gradually ramp down your email cadence before asking the final question.

 

Craft a compelling re-engagement email

You already know that your past emails didn’t resonate well with inactive subscribers. That’s why your re-engagement emails need to look, feel, and sound a bit different from your usual campaigns.

For subject lines, HubSpot suggests spicing things up with a little personalization (such as the recipient’s name, company, or industry), as well as “asking for signs of life” with a relevant question.

AWeber lays out a number of guidelines in order to write effective re-engagement email content:

  • Find out why inactive subscribers signed up in the first place
  • Check whether you’re continuing to meet these expectations
  • Uncover any previous changes to your email strategy that may have affected engagement
  • Determine what to offer in order to pique their interest

To maximize response rates for your re-engagement email campaign, you need to include a clear, strong, and specific call-to-action (CTA). Whether you’re pointing them to a helpful resource or asking whether they’d still like to remain on your list, you need to make that action easy for recipients to complete.

 

Automate re-engagement, but humanize your response

Manually keeping track of subscriber inactivity works well when handling relatively small email lists. But when your contacts number in the thousands, the only way to do re-engagement email campaigns at scale is through automation.

SendGrid thinks that a huge part of your re-engagement campaign’s workflow should be automated. Tasks such as scheduling send-outs and unsubscribing contacts are best handled by machines, so that you stay focused on more exciting stuff in your email marketing program.

However, not all activities in your re-engagement email campaign should be set on autopilot. Responding to feedback and inquiries from your recipients are, for now, still best done by humans.

 

Conclusion

There’s still value to be had from trying to win back disengaged subscribers—that is, if you reach out the right way. So, build a robust re-engagement email campaign strategy using what we’ve talked about in this post.

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing Emails

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing EmailsMarketers rely on a lot of tools to drive live event attendance and conversions. But time and again, emails remain the top channel for achieving event marketing goals. Here’s how to get the most from your live events with the help of lessons drawn from the best event marketing emails.

On average, B2B marketers use a total of 5 different channels to generate buzz and maximize engagement for their live events. Recent research published by event tech provider Bizabo shows that email ranks as the top channel for promoting live events among 46% of B2B and 24% of B2C marketers.

Let’s look at what the best event marketing emails can teach us about crafting effective event invitation, promotion, confirmation, notification, and follow-ups.

 

1. Create a sequence of email touch points

Live events typically consist of three stages: pre-event, in-event, and post-event. You need to map out a sequence of emails to be sent out at each stage in order to maximize engagement.

Pre-event emails are crucial since they set the pace and determine the initial results of your live marketing project, while post-event emails are also very important since they directly impact your campaign’s conversion rates and ROI. That’s why we’ll talk about these points in greater detail later in this post.

 

2. Build anticipation and excitement

Apart from generating awareness, pre-event emails help boost attendance rates by building anticipation and interest well before opening day. At a bare minimum, your event marketing campaign needs to send out invitation, confirmation, and reminder emails.

Email automation vendor Delivra recommends the following best practices when doing pre-event send-outs:

  • Invitation emails – Sent weeks or months in advance (the bigger the event, the earlier the send-out) since potential attendees need time to secure buy-in from their boss.
  • Confirmation email – sent right after the recipient responds with an RSVP (best handled through email automation).
  • Reminder email – sent once daily 3 days before the event (including a final reminder sent 1 hour prior to event opening).

 

3. Revisit your subject line strategy

There’s sadly no hard-and-fast rule that spits out irresistible email subject lines. But with careful tracking and testing, it’s possible to tweak your subject line strategy to get better inbox placement and open rates for your event marketing emails.

Event Technologies analyzed 1.25 pre-event and post-event emails and found that:

  • 44 out of the top-performing 50 pre-event emails (according to open rates) mentioned the event name in the subject line.
  • 40 out of the top-performing post-event emails also mentioned the event in the subject line.
  • Pre-event emails whose subject line included the event name had an open rate of 24% vs 18% for pre-show messages whose subject line made no mention of the event.

Aside from naming the event in the subject line, it’s also good practice to indicate a specific call-to-action (CTA), e.g., “Visit us at DMA 2017 &THEN – Booth #1234”.

 

4. Look for sources of conversion friction

One thing that sets the best event marketing emails from the rest is that they provide a seamless experience for your recipients, from email open all the way to landing page conversion.

According to Kissmetrics, anything that gets in the way of this conversion journey is friction. There’s clearly a lot of points in your recipient’s clickpath where friction can slow down or hamper conversion. Here’s a quick rundown of a few places to closely keep an eye on:

  • Email copy – Is the copy short and easy to read?
  • CTA – Does the CTA stand out? Does it clearly specify the action?
  • Design – Is the design responsive?
  • Social sharing – Does your email make it easy for people to find and connect with you on social media?
  • Landing page – Does it seamlessly transition from the email? Are the landing page copy and CTA consistent with the email?

 

5. Plan your follow up ahead of time

Should you try to reconnect with your event attendees after the show? Of course, by all means. But following up requires more than just sending out a quick email. Like pre-event emails, post-show follow ups need some careful planning:

  • Prepare a prompt and personalized follow-up plan
  • Carry out the follow-up over a series of nurturing emails
  • Start following up 1-2 days after the event; don’t wait until 2 weeks
  • Offer different possible nurture paths
  • Make sure to reference a specific activity at the live event
  • Be careful about adding event leads directly into your marketing database

 

What other live event marketing email best practices do you follow?

Email Deliverability Best Practices: How to Authenticate Your Emails

How to Authenticate Your Emails

image credits goes to the original owner

If you’re seeing low or declining deliverability rates, chances are your sender reputation isn’t exactly up to snuff. There’s a ton of factors that ISPs check when determining sender reputation, and one important aspect is the sender’s email authentication setup. This needs to be a critical area of focus in your email deliverability best practices.

Email authentication helps ISPs prevent forged emails from reaching their users’ accounts. In other words, it’s a way to prove that an email you sent really comes from you (not some sender pretending to be you). From this, it’s easy to see why your email deliverability best practices should also include sender authentication.

 

How Email Authentication Works

Email authentication allows ISPs to properly identify the authenticity of emails their users receive. When a receiving server gets an incoming mail, it verifies whether the message really did come from the sender. To do this, it checks for specific pieces of information in your email and DNS records.

According to SparkPost, the email authentication process varies from approach to approach but typically consists of the following steps:

  1. A business or organization that sends emails establishes a set of authentication policies.
  2. The email sender configures its mail servers to publish and implement these policies.
  3. The receiving server authenticates an incoming email by referring to the sender’s policies.
  4. The receiving server accepts, flags, or blocks the incoming email based on the results of step 3.

In the next section, we’ll go into steps 1 and 2 in greater detail, plus outline the specific ways to set up email authentication.

 

How to Set Up Email Authentication

We’ve seen that email authentication affects sender reputation which, in turn, impacts email deliverability. To set up authentication for your email marketing program, follow these quick steps:

 

Step 1: Use SPF and DKIM authentication

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are authentication protocols stored in the sender’s DNS records. These contain the “pieces of information” we briefly mentioned earlier that ISPs use to check an email’s authenticity.

Simply put, SPF and DKIM prevent the bad guys from impersonating you as the sender. The details can get a little hairy, but the important thing to keep in mind is that without SPF and DKIM, there’s no way for ISPs to be sure it’s really you who’s sending the email.

 

Step 2: Record all your sending IPs

The sending IP address is the numeric label that uniquely identifies every sending source you use. It serves as the passageway through which emails are sent to your recipients. You need to let ISPs know all the sending IP you use (including those of your email service provider).

This is achieved through what’s called a reverse DNS record. Reverse DNS records do the opposite of what normal DNS records do; they return the name associated with a given IP address. Without a valid reverse DNS record, many ISPs will block your emails.

 

Step 3: Put it all together

Reverse DNS records, SPF, and DKIM are the three basic DNS entries to help ISPs authenticate your emails. Once you’ve already set all of these up, here’s how to put them into action:

  • Create your authentication record on SPF and DKIM, then publish them
  • Configure your mail server to sign outgoing mail with DKIM
  • Test your DKIM, SPF, and reverse DNS records

 

Step 4: Use a genuine, personal From name

The final step doesn’t involve anything fancy, but is arguably the most important one. Make sure that your emails’ From line contains an authentic name of a person. Avoid departmental or role-based addresses like marketing@xxyzcompany.com. You want to build a personal relationship, so it pays to start connecting on a personal level.

 

Conclusion

Now start building your sender reputation with these email deliverability best practices in mind. The main takeaway is that being authentic doesn’t end with email verification protocols. It’s all about building a long-term relationship with recipients.

4 Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact Database

Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact Database

image credits goes to the original owner

So you’ve got yourself a new contact list. Now what? Bought lists help you reach your growth targets faster—that is, if you’re able to set it up the right way. Today’s post goes over four steps you should follow right after you buy a contact database. These activities ensure that your list works as expected or, even better, exceed your targets.

In a previous post, we talked about the five situations where it’s okay to buy a contact database:

  • Your solution solves a real pain point or problem.
  • You’ve clearly identified your target prospects.
  • You’re targeting a high turnover industry.
  • You don’t have the resources to build a list at scale.
  • You’re expected to deliver results in the near-term.

If it makes sense for you to buy a contact database and you’ve invested in one already, then there’s a few things you need to straighten out first before using your list right out of the box.

 

1. Clean the bought list thoroughly first

Even though your list may come from a reputable database provider, you can’t take any chances when it comes to data quality. That’s why you need to thoroughly scrub and validate your bought list before putting it to use.

  • Scrub invalid addresses, spam traps, and distribution email addresses
  • Remove (hard) bounced addresses
  • Verify and update records

List cleaning tends to take up time and resources, so it might be a better option to let a third-party data cleaning services company do it for you.

 

2. Build your sender identity and reputation

To improve email deliverability, you need to convince both your recipients and ISPs that you’re someone they can trust. The idea is to let them know there’s a real person behind the email and that you’re really who you say you are.

  • Personalize your sender name
  • Use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC tools
  • Try out sender score and certification services
  • Warm up a new IP or use a dedicated sending IP

Using a bought list means you’re likely reaching out to most of the contacts for the first time. This underscores the importance of building your identity and reputation.

 

3. Ask contacts if they want to stick around

Most list vendors tout their products as opt-in, permission-based, or anti-spam-compliant. But, unless you’re deeply familiar with their data collection and QA practices, it’s better to err on the side of caution and carry out a double opt-in campaign, where you ask contacts for permission.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to run a double opt-in campaign after you buy a contact database:

  • Do a thorough data scrub (see step 1)
  • Prepare your free (value) offer
  • Craft an opt-in confirmation email
  • Build the landing page
  • Re-confirm with a thank you email

It’s okay if you encounter a lot of unsubscribes after your double opt-in campaign. Aside from staying compliant, this is one way of cleaning your list for better deliverability and engagement.

 

4. Reach out, engage, and respond

Bought lists translate to cold outreach. But that doesn’t mean your first interaction with the contacts should be icy, too. In order to maximize response and/or conversions, be sure to:

  • Personalize your cold emails beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’
  • Segment your list according to buyer personas
  • Offer educational content (whitepapers, webinars, articles, etc.) related to the contact’s job title or industry
  • Start a nurturing campaign with follow-ups and multi-touch cadence

These best practices should help you avoid getting the cold shoulder from your cold prospects.

 

Conclusion

When you buy a contact database, you need to put a few things in place before using it in your campaign. Keep these four steps in mind as you start growing your pipeline.