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Top B2B Demand Generation Tactics for 2018, According to Survey

Demand 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.

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.

How to Personalize Cold Emails Beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’

How to Personalize Cold Emails Beyond

image credits goes to the original owner

Most people (and ISPs) mistakenly lump cold emails as junk mail. One proven way to ensure your cold emails don’t end up in the spam folder is to personalize your message. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide on how to personalize cold emails beyond the usual “Hi [FirstName]” tactic—and to do this at scale.

Cold emails remain the workhorses of B2B marketing. They’re a good way to start building a relationship with prospects, influencers, and business partners. Sadly, cold emails continue to get a bad rap from people and ISPs alike. That’s because a lot of marketers misuse cold outreach to send out bulk, unwanted, and irrelevant (read: spam) messages to unsuspecting recipients. Although cold emails are, by nature, unsolicited messages, it’s how they’re being used that turns them into spam.

There are several strategies for improving the chances of your cold emails reaching the right recipient’s inbox, but personalization is demonstrably one of the most effective. Applying personalization tactics that really increase your emails’ relevance improves deliverability by:

  • Avoiding bulk, generic email blasts, hence preventing setting off spam filters
  • Improving engagement rates (opens, clicks, replies, etc.), which also boosts sender reputation
  • Minimizing spam complaints, which also improves sender reputation

Of course, personalization does have its downsides, one of which is that it requires time and a lot of research. But personalizing your cold emails pays off. That’s why we’re sharing this short practical guide on how to personalize cold emails at scale.

 

Step 1: Create personas for your target audience

Personas help you precisely define who your target recipients are. With personas, it’s much easier to accurately target and segment your audience. If you haven’t yet identified personas for your target recipients, Marketingprofs suggests building ideal buyer profiles with the following info:

  • Role in the buying process
  • Fears and challenges
  • Drivers and motivators
  • Organizational goal and priorities
  • Problems and issues

 

Step 2: Build your cold email list

Now that you’ve identified your target audience personas, you’re going to use the generated profiles for finding contacts to include in your cold email list. If you already have an existing email contact database, the process involves simply filtering the list using the profiles’ attributes.

If you don’t yet have a current list to fetch records from, you can either gather the contacts through your own research or work with a third-party list vendor.

 

Step 3: Find relevant and relatable info for each recipient

IT’s now time to get your hands dirty. This step involves doing some (mostly) manual, tedious research. The goal here is to mine pieces of information specific to each recipient that you can then mention in your cold email copy.

Sales engagement platform provider PersistIQ recommends the “3 takeaways in 3 minutes” approach when determining what personal details to include in your research. The idea is to start with 3 personal facts about each prospect you can gather in 3 minutes. Each of these pieces of information should help you connect with that particular prospect. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Current location
  • Work history
  • School or university
  • Mutual connections

Other personalization snippets include:

  • Website
  • Blog post and articles
  • Company news and announcements
  • Social media posts

Append some or all of these pieces of prospect data onto the cold email list you generated (or acquired) in step 2.

 

Step 4: Craft the personalized email template

In the previous step, you gathered relatable prospect information for each recipient. Now, it’s time to write the email template (or templates) where the relevant personal facts will be inserted.

While we all have our own cold email writing styles, here’s a quick rundown of email personalization best practices to keep in mind:

  • Try to mention one of the personal facts on the subject line
  • Start the body by pointing out another relatable fact
  • Segue into the main portion of your message
  • End with a clear call to action

 

Conclusion

Personalized emails tend to produce better engagement rates (26% higher open rates, 14% higher CTRs, and 10% conversion rates). Not only that, personalization tends to boost deliverability and inbox placement, especially for cold emails. So, before doing your next cold email outreach, try a little personalization first.

Why You Need to Rethink Your Email List Segmentation Best Practices

Email List

Find out why most email list segmentation best practices no longer meet the demands of today’s email marketing landscape.

There’s no shortage of email list segmentation best practices to go around. In fact, a quick Google search for ways to slice and dice an email list gives 19,700,00 results. But a great deal of these readily-available tips falls somewhere between marginally useful to totally obsolete. That means your segmentation strategy is probably due for a little overhaul. Here’s why.

In case you haven’t noticed, both B2B buyers and their buying cycles have changed. B2B prospects are now almost 60% into the decision-making process before reaching out to a vendor, and they’re doing a ton of research and learning about a product or services largely on their own. Old static segmentation models can no longer account for the dynamic, self-determined behavior that today’s prospects tend to display.

That’s just one area where traditional email list segmentation best practices fall short. You need to reconsider conventional ways of segregating email contacts because:

 

  1. Everybody’s doing it.

You really can’t gain any decent competitive edge from following traditional email list segmentation best practices. Practically, most B2B organizations segment email lists according to some basic combination of demographic, firmographic, and firmographic attributes.

While these are fairly effective as starting points for slicing and dicing lists, these strategies have attained such mainstream acceptance that it’s hard to differentiate your campaign and generate above-average results solely on these criteria.

 

  1. Buyers evolve faster than profiles.

As marketers, we’re painfully aware that data decays at a rate of at least 2% per month. But there’s more to marketing data going stale than contacts’ job titles or addresses changing.

The modern B2B purchase journey’s nonlinearity means that prospect behavior doesn’t remain constant or predictable throughout the process. This is why segmentation models need to take these changes into account in order to be useful.

 

  1. Traditional models don’t do a very good job at personalization.

Most email list segmentation best practices were developed when mass targeting was still the norm. That was why these models relied mostly on broad categories and aggregate groupings of prospects.

With today’s decision-makers expecting a relevant, targeted experience, sending out emails that only make use of superficial personalization (first name, industry, company names, etc.) simply isn’t going to cut it.

 

These are a few of the main reasons why email list segmentation best practices need to evolve. The bottom-line is that the marketing landscape has changed. Traditional ways of doing things aren’t that helpful or effective anymore. So, keep up and stay ahead.

Top Email Marketing Benchmarks of 2017 (and How to Do Better in 2018)

image credits goes to the original owner

In a few short days, we’ll be starting another email marketing year. But before we do that, let’s first look back at 2017 and see how well email marketers collectively performed. Even more importantly, let’s use these email marketing benchmarks as guideposts to do better in the upcoming year.

Today’s blog entry compiles key 2017 email marketing benchmarks from Delivera, MailChimp, Inbox Marketer, and SignUp.to. The numbers cited here describe 2017’s email marketing campaigns in terms of oepns, clicks, bounces, and other metrics, plus some actionable tips to help you improve in each category. Let’s dive right in.

 

Opens

While there’s some variation in the actual number, our data sources all seem to agree on the average email marketing open rates in 2017:

  • The average open rate is 31.92% for all industries (Delivera).
  • On average, overall open rate was recorded at 24.79% (SignUp.to)
  • Open rates increase to 28.8%, up from 25.9% in the past year (Inbox Marketer).
  • On a per-industry level, open rates ranged from 15.2% to 28.4% and averaged 21.8% (MailChimp)

This year, the following tactics resulted in better-than-average open rates:

  • Subject lines less than 50 characters long resulted in 58% open rate (Adestra).
  • The open rate for personalized emails is 1.4 times higher than generic ones (Statista).
  • Segmentation results in 14.3% higher open rates (MailChimp).

 

Click-Throughs

In two of the references we used, the findings indicate overall higher click-through rates for the year (although the number widely varied):

  • Overall, CTRs incrementally increased by 0.8 percentage points, averaging 5.8% (Inbox Marketer).
  • Average CTRs across all sectors were reported to be 3.57 percent (Delivera).
  • CTRs came in at 4.19% for all industries (SignUp.to).
  • Depending on the industry, CTRs ranged between 1.25% to 5.13%, averaging 2.62% (MailChimp).

Here’s how email best practices enhanced CTRs of email campaigns:

  • Trigger emails generate 2x higher CTRs than traditional emails (Super Office).
  • CTRs for segmented emails are more than 8x higher than non-segmented emails (Super Office).
  • Subject line personalization improves CTRs by 17.36% (MarketingSherpa).

 

Click-to-Open

While CTRs measure the number of clicks over the number of emails sent, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) expresses the number of clicks as a percentage of the total opens. That’s why CTOR is a better gauge of email engagement.

SignUp.to finds that average CTOR is around 11.88% (SignUp.to). Meanwhile, Smart Insights recommends aiming for a CTOR between 10% to 15%. If your campaign is underperforming in terms of click-to-opens, follow the below tips:

  • Write short and clear subject lines.
  • Keep your copy between 50 to 125 words long.
  • Make sure your call-to-action (CTA) stands out.
  • Close with a specific option and end with gratitude.

 

Hard Bounces

Email marketers remain very effective at keeping hard bounces in check. According to Inbox Manager, bounce rates remain low at just 0.9% across all industries in 2017.

MailChimp’s industry-level email marketing benchmarks report shows that hard bounce rates vary from industry to industry, with a minimum of 0.7% and a maximum of 1.2%.

To keep your hard bounce rates within acceptable limits, try out the following:

Use a double opt-in list signup method

Keep your list spotlessly clean

Verify each contact in your list

Work with a data scrubbing and maintenance company

 

Conclusion

While averages and aggregate numbers give us a quick way to compare and evaluate our campaigns, keep in mind that these headline values oftentimes don’t tell the whole story. That’s why we need to go past these top-level email marketing benchmarks to find out what’s really going on. In that sense, the best reference metrics will always be your own campaign results.

Happy New Year!

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

image credits goes to the original owner

The holiday season is in full swing. Aside from crowded stores and endless checkout lines, the inbox gets particularly busy this time of year, too. In fact, people receive 1.5 times more promotional emails during the holidays than at any other period. This brings all sorts of email deliverability issues that can drag down campaign performance.

As Kevin Senne over at Oracle Marketing Cloud explains, ISPs tend to tighten their grip on incoming mail during the holidays. That’s because mailbox providers slow down the rate of email arrivals to deal with the seasonal deluge. Naturally, this throttling has an effect on both if and when emails reach a recipient’s inbox.

While these email deliverability issues largely bother senders of promotional emails, every marketer who wants to get in touch with prospects or customers during the holidays isn’t immune from these problems.

That’s why we searched the Web for practical tips and best practices to help you avoid holiday-induced deliverability headaches. Let’s take a look at what we learned:

 

  1. Keep your list spotlessly clean

As you’re making your email list, and checking it twice, you might want to have someone recheck it thrice. The first step to your recipients’ inbox starts with the list. Squeaky-clean lists help keep email deliverability issues at bay.

That’s because clean lists tend to give you lower bounce rates, which in turn improve your sender reputation. The better your reputation becomes (in the eyes of ISPs), the better your deliverability gets.

While there’s no shortage of tools and techniques you can use to do some D.I.Y. list cleaning, most sources we dug up strongly recommend working with a third-party data cleaning service provider for best results.

 

  1. Stick to your current sending IP address

If you’re thinking that switching over to a new IP address will give you better deliverability for your holiday campaigns, then you’re in for some very rude awakening. Deliverability expert Return Path cautions against changing your sending IP address, especially during the holiday season.

Using a brand new IP does let you start out with a blank slate, but it’s going to take a while to “warm up” a fresh address and earn the trust of ISPs. Building your sender reputation from scratch isn’t going to happen overnight, and the process will be much longer during the holidays when throttling and stricter spam filters are in place.

 

  1. Watch your mailing frequency

Return Path also warns email marketers not to abruptly increase their sending frequency in the run up to and during the holidays. The biggest mailbox providers keep a close eye on any sudden spikes in send-out rates, slowing down or stopping incoming mails from senders who step on the gas too quickly. In many cases, this can permanently harm sender reputation.

To avoid potential email deliverability issues from sending out too much mail during the holidays, most references we found suggest consistently maintaining your usual email frequency. Other sources also point out that, if you really want to increase your email volume, you need to slowly and gradually increase your frequency over several weeks ahead of the holidays.

 

  1. Wear your authentication badge at all times

Another way to improve deliverability is to use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication. These are tools that tell ISPs you’re someone they can trust. While enabling these items won’t guarantee deliverability (nothing does), they’re a crucial component of building and maintaining a good sender reputation.

As marketing automation provider Real Magnet describes, these three authentication systems allow you to improve your emails’ deliverability and credibility. They implement protocols that verify your domain as the sender, which is something that affects ISPs’ decisions to accept or reject incoming mail.

Enabling all three tools helps guarantee your emails make it into the inbox, as well as protect your emails from spoofing.

 

  1. Focus on the recipient, not the campaign

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other mailbox providers use engagement metrics (opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, etc.) to determine if your email should end up in the inbox or spam folder.

That’s why avoiding email deliverability issues also means improving how your emails engage your readers. From the subject down to the closing, your email needs actionable copy and compelling design.

We went over some effective tips to write engaging emails in a previous blog entry. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA
  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

With these steps, your holiday email campaign will surely minimize, if not avoid, email deliverability issues. From the ContactDB team:

Happy Holidays!

What Will Appointment Setting Services Look Like in 2018?

What Will Appointment Setting Services Look Like in 2018?

image credits goes to the original owner

B2B marketing continues to evolve. That, of course, barely registers as news. What’s really interesting is that, this time, the trends reshaping marketing are starting to impact traditional outbound strategies, including finding and booking sales meetings. If you’re looking to partner with a third-party appointment setting services provider in 2018, here’s what you should expect next year.

Generating leads and appointments still rank as the top challenge that B2B marketers face. That’s why B2B marketers allocate the bulk of their budget increase to prospecting activities. With more than two-thirds of marketers claiming they’re unable to consistently connect with high-quality prospects, a significant number of organizations plan to outsource at least part of their prospecting program.

This makes appointment setting a prime area for marketers to consider. But marketing itself has now changed so much that even appointment setting doesn’t look like what it did just a couple of years ago. Prospecting continues its steady march toward adopting pull tactics as more B2B buyers chart their own course in the purchase journey.

This means that an outsourced appointment setting services partner should deliver prospecting solutions that help you keep up with the times. At a bare minimum, here are four things you should expect from a reputable provider:

 

Account-Based

Account-based marketing (ABM) is gaining traction among marketers. In a nutshell, ABM strategies focus on targeting only a few organizations with the highest likelihood of turning into customers, rather than directing marketing efforts at huge numbers of target companies. It’s like fishing with a spear instead of casting a net.

A reputable appointment setting services company gives you ABM capabilities on top of personalized and targeted prospecting. They tailor campaigns based on an account’s characteristics, which is a step closer to the much sought-after “segment of one”. ABM-enabled appointment setting services target entire org charts of key decision-makers from target accounts, connecting with every person involved in the buying process within a single company.

 

Automated Prospecting

As much as 7 in 10 companies currently use some kind of marketing automation platform (MAP). That’s because MAPs boost lead generation for 80% of marketers and improve conversions for 77% of users. Companies rely on MAPs so much that, as a percentage of revenues, spending on marketing automation now outweighs other IT expenditures.

Appointment setting services that leverage automated prospecting use proven tools to rank leads and follow up on opportunities with minimal human intervention. This frees up their marketing and sales specialists to work on more value-added activities in your campaign such as live conversations with decision-makers. Automated prospecting accelerates one of the most time-consuming components of marketing and makes it more efficient and productive.

 

Data-First

Around 42% of marketers blame poor data quality as the main reason why prospecting campaigns tend to underperform, while about half point the finger at bad data for their MAP’s failure to deliver decent returns. In addition, marketers think they don’t have access to detailed data on prospect behavior and intent, which can help refine their targeting accuracy and enrich segmentation.

Any third-party appointment setting agency should (at the very least) transparently describe their data validation and enrichment processes. You want appointment setting services that let you target, track, and test all aspects of a prospecting campaign. It’s no longer enough to be data-driven, it’s now about being data-first.

 

Experience-Led

Adobe finds that tech marketers prioritize “customer experience and being experience-led” for 2017. This pretty much sums up the trends influencing today’s prospecting strategies in the B2B space. Appointment setting now requires not only a multichannel approach, but also an omnichannel mindset. The difference is that multichannel strategies tend to revolve around marketers’ perspective, while omnichannel takes the entire customer (current or potential) experience into account.

Omnichannel appointment setting services goes beyond integrating different marketing channels to engage prospects. They weave the entire buyer journey into a coherent process for you and your target leads.

So, be on the lookout for these four qualities. These form the baseline for “good” appointment setting services. Make sure that a potential marketing partner meets all four characteristics.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

image credits goes to the original owner

Here’s a number to think about: 3,800%. That’s the average email marketing ROI according to the DMA. But just because you’re doing email marketing, too, doesn’t guarantee you’ll also be getting the same spectacular returns. To generate decent ROI, you first need to develop a working email marketing campaign plan.

Putting together a coherent and doable email marketing campaign plan remains a daunting challenge for a great number of marketers. A lot of moving parts make up a typical email campaign, and it’s easy to get lost in the dizzying details. But with a clear planning process, the task becomes more manageable. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide to campaign planning, plus a ton of email marketing tips and tricks to get you started.

 

Step 1: Set specific campaign goals and objectives

As email marketers, we’ve been raised to believe that everything starts with the list. But this mindset needs to change. Goals and objectives actually precede the email list. Everything only follows once you’ve identified the things your campaign needs to achieve.

Some email marketing campaign goals include:

  • Reaching out to cold prospects
  • Nurturing email prospects
  • Welcoming new subscribers
  • Verifying/Updating subscription
  • Promoting/Announcing new offers
  • Achieving conversion goals
  • Responding to triggers or actions

 

Step 2: Identify the types of emails to be used

Once you’ve specified your campaign targets, it’s time to figure out which types of emails work best for the tasks at hand. Marketers use dozens of email types, but these can be grouped into:

  • Prospecting Emails – These are emails sent to identify new opportunities for customer acquisition
  • Nurturing Emails – These are emails that cultivate relationships with leads, subscribers, or existing customers.
  • Promotional Emails – This type of emails announces offers or company-related news.
  • Transactional Emails – These emails are sent in response to a specific action or trigger.

 

Step 3: Know the target audience and segments

This looks like a fairly straightforward activity. But almost half of marketers still fail to segment their lists into relevant groups. There’s more to audience identification than simply knowing your target market. You have to define specific buyer personas that serve as your ideal audience profiles.

We’ve written about effective ways to segment a list in a previous post, and the key points are worth repeating here:

  1. Start with basic firmographics
  2. Map emails to sales funnel stages
  3. Follow a contact’s clickpath on your site4Find out what content they’re engaging with
  4. Find out what content they’re engaging with
  5. Keep track of responses and activities
  6. Apply a lead scoring scheme

 

Step 4: Flesh out a robust sending schedule

Now you’re ready to set the schedule and frequency of email send-outs. Different sources cite varying optimal times of day and days of week for sending out emails, but it’s good practice to test this out for your own campaign. The same holds true for sending frequency.

While not all campaigns need a detailed sending schedule, the following email marketing tips and tricks for scheduling will help you find the right send-out times:

  • Start with the widely-accepted “best” times for sending out emails (Tuesdays through Thursdays, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.)
  • Let subscribers indicate how often to receive emails
  • Keep initial follow-ups to within 3 days of last touch point
  • Sync nurturing emails with your content calendar
  • Tweak schedule and frequency based on campaign results

 

Step 5: Brainstorm content and design ideas

You now have the why, what, who, and when of your email marketing campaign plan. The next things to think about are your emails’ content and design. Compelling copy and great design go hand-in-hand at producing successful email campaigns.

In terms of content, your emails need to speak to your audience and achieve a purpose. Consider the following tips when crafting email copies:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA

For the design, it’s the message that dictates the email’s look and feel:

  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

 

Step 6: Choose suitable metrics and KPIs

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s why selecting a suitable set of metrics is part of campaign planning.

Email marketing continues to be one of the most data-rich marketing channels around today. So, if you think “vanity metrics” (delivery rates, open rates, CTRs, bounces, spam reports, and unsubscribes) can tell you everything you need to know about your campaign, then you’re leaving a huge insight gap in your program.

To ensure your dashboard displays only the right numbers, follow the below steps:

  1. Revisit your campaign goals and objectives
  2. Use metrics that determine if you’ve reached each goal
  3. Look at all your campaign data sources
  4. Know which pieces of data improve timing, content, and impact

 

Step 7: Outline a clear process for testing

The final step in the planning process is to come up with a program for testing and tracking your email campaign. Testing allows you to continuously improve your email marketing campaign plan. So, you need to hammer out a workable testing procedure before hitting “send”.

But, with so many individual components to test, creating a testing plan (as well as carrying it out) can feel overwhelming. Put the following tips into practice to make this part of the planning process run more smoothly:

  • Test basic elements first
  • Focus on one component at a time
  • Make your sample sizes sufficiently large (i.e., at least 1,000 observations)
  • Use consistent schedules when testing
  • Trust the test results over gut-feelings, no matter how counterintuitive

 

Conclusion

At this point, you now have a working email marketing campaign plan. But before you hit send, it’s crucial to go over your outline once or twice to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

If you think some aspects of your campaign look tedious or too time-consuming, then a good email marketing automation tool can make things easier. In addition, reputable email marketing service providers help you carry out part or all of your campaign activities more effectively.

What other steps do you follow when putting together an email marketing campaign plan?

How to Decide Between Lead Generation vs Demand Generation Services [2019]

In this day and age, it’s surprising that quite a number of B2B marketing folks still get the terms “lead generation” and “demand generation” mixed up. Although these two activities remain inextricably linked, they’re not the same thing. That’s why if you’re out on the market looking for lead generation or demand generation services, it’s important that you know the differences between them and find out how to choose which one you need.

Demand generation and lead generation share some similar goals, but successful marketers use each of these to achieve different sets of objectives. According to the Content Marketing Institute, demand generation creates interest on your brand or product, while lead generation captures information from interested prospects once demand has been established. The outcome of demand generation services is increased reach and conversions, while that of lead generation is new qualified contacts available for marketing or sales.

In other words, demand generation precedes lead generation. Demand generation hauls prospects into your sales funnel, while lead generation ensures that these prospects actually make it inside. That means if you’re looking for an outsourced marketing partner, you need to be sure you’re getting the right services. Here’s a few questions to help you find out whether you need lead generation or demand generation services:

 

  1. What are your present priorities and objectives?

Customer acquisition and brand awareness typically vie for marketers’ time and budget. But achieving either or both these end-goals requires having clear processes in place. What’s more is that these processes vary depending on whether your current strategic situation call for a revenue-oriented or a branding-focused approach (or a combination of both).

If you’re leaning toward customer acquisition, then lead generation activities should probably make up a significant chunk of your marketing efforts. Otherwise, going for demand generation services is most likely your best path forward.

 

  1. How much does your target market know about your product or solution?

Keep in mind that demand generation services help you create buzz and awareness about your solution or company. It’s the right tool for the job if your target buyers aren’t very familiar with what you’re offering and you need to let your audience know about its capabilities and benefits.

On the other hand, if your target prospects already have a good idea about your product, then they’re potentially ready to proceed toward the next stages in the sales funnel. That’s where lead generation can really help.

 

  1. What prospect qualifications are you looking for?

Here’s one way to think about the differences between lead generation and demand generation services. Demand generation is like casting as wide a net as possible, while lead generation helps keep only the most interested prospects, setting the rest aside. This is why demand generation tactics often use content that’s freely available (such as blog posts), whereas lead generation relies on gated content assets (such as whitepaper downloads).

Lead generation needs a more specific (and oftentimes narrower) set of prospect qualification criteria. BANT, buyer profiles, and lead scores make up prospect qualifications in lead generation. Demand generation, meanwhile, works with a broader set of prospect characteristics.

 

  1. What are your target outcomes?

Demand and leads are obviously different things, although you could argue that a lead is what demand looks like once qualified. Unless we’re talking about demand in a microeconomics context, quantifying demand for your product or solution is trickier than measuring lead generation outcomes.

With lead generation, it’s easy to find universally agreed-upon metrics to measure results (e.g., record counts for lead quantity, lead scores for lead quality). For demand generation services, it takes a little creativity to find the right yardsticks to use.

By now, you’ve possibly gotten the impression that lead generation and demand generation go hand in hand. That’s exactly the case. Deciding between lead generation and demand generation services is actually finding the right balance between which initiatives to do in-house and which ones to outsource to a third-party provider. Define what you want to achieve and determine how your current capabilities and resources stack up against your objectives.