For me, one of the best things about WPC is the ability to learn so much from our partner community.
At this year’s 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Eric Rabinowitz from Nurture Marketing and I had the opportunity to host a session featuring some of our superstar marketing partners. In this session, partners heard from a few of the orgs and individuals who are really nailing this “marketing thing,” online and off, and showing amazing returns on their marketing investments.
If you were unable to attend the session or, like me, you can’t write fast enough to capture all that brilliance, here’s a recap of some of my favorite pointers from the experts we had in our session, as well as from other partners doing great marketing.
Email campaign tips
According to Chris Dunning, CEO of TechQuarters, email marketing is still a very effective way to drive business, but you have to be deliberate.
Customization. Don’t sign your marketing emails with your company name or “Marketing Team.” Chris says 60 percent of his company’s email marketing leads come directly to the marketer whose name appears on the email. Customers don’t like to think they’re receiving impersonal, blast emails; a signature and name feel more personal.
Be sure to use custom landing pages for each of your email campaigns. This gives you a place to aggregate relevant content, provides a specific landing page for visitors, and makes it much easier to track clicks to gauge the success of your campaign.
Timing. Automate your emails to arrive in the afternoon or after work, when people have completed their day’s work and can read them on the bus ride home. Emails sent in the morning, says Chris, are seen as interruptions to the day’s tasks, and you don’t want to be thought of as an “interruption.” According to Chris, emails sent between 10:30AM and 1:30PM had a 9.7 percent open rate. The same emails, sent from 4-7PM got an average 13.3 percent open rate.
Shoot for short, entertaining, and frequent. You don’t want to go too crazy, since too many emails will net you an “unsubscribe” in a hurry. But three iterations with different subject lines are a good way to keep the topic fresh in readers’ minds. Embed multiple links and track each one to see what readers are clicking on, and always, ALWAYS end with a clear call to action (“call now” or “click to buy”).
Follow up. If someone opens your email but doesn’t make contact, follow up. They may just need a nudge or engagement with an actual person who can answer their questions.
On-site event marketing tips
Christine Bongard, VP and COO at QTS says to look for opportunities to educate your customers, in-person or online. Her team plans out their marketing events and campaigns a full year in advance, so they can develop and maintain a consistent brand voice and re-purpose content. How they suggest you do it:
Educate your audience. People are looking to industry experts to help them make sense of a complicated technology landscape. Host learning breakfasts and an annual technology conference. Share information when you can to gain trust and make it easy for customers to work with you.
Market your events, in-person and on social. You can have terrific speakers and sessions, but if no one knows about your event, your work could be wasted. Christine says market events AT events—have a handout at your booth to let people know about their next great learning opportunity.
Encourage your staff to share event announcements through their social channels. Be open to all marketing opportunities, Christine says, because up to 10 percent of their attendance comes from unexpected sources.
Leverage others. Co-deliver events with a partner for additional marketing and advertising possibilities (and split expenses!). Christine says they figure 10 – 20 percent of attendance at their events are due to their partners’ marketing and mailing lists.
Sponsors can help extend a limited event budget and also help fill seats. Just be sure to be very clear on expectations—events are occasions to educate first and sell second. Be sure to account for an expo area where your vendors can show off their products and services.
Structure your marketing team
Effective marketing isn’t just in the content customers see, it’s also in the structure of the team behind the scenes. For example, David MacLaren, CEO of Mediavalet, says a two-team approach with separate roles for sales people (those who close deals) and business development people (those who call out to new prospects) has led to a 200 percent year-over-year growth in his business. Business development reps uncover, qualify, and tee up qualified opportunities; sales people close the sale. Tips from David on how his team(s) make it work:
Have business development reps managed by your marketing team. Marketing knows a lot about the companies and individuals they’re targeting in their campaigns. Business development reps can use this information to make intelligent calls instead of cold calls. This structure and approach saw the hit rates for Mediavalet’s business development reps increase 300 percent year-over-year.
Differentiate roles by customer needs. To further increase the effectiveness of your revenue generation teams, be cost effective, and increase your potential talent pool, hire different individuals to handle inbound calls, outbound calls and for closing deals.
Make use of great resources
Great tools make life easier and can make you more efficient and profitable, so be sure to leverage what’s available. David also suggested some tools to boost your marketing efforts:
Pay per click (PPC) campaigns generate “a minimum of 2-3 rings a day and as many as 15,” David says. Test several options: one of the great advantages of PPC is the ability to iterate quickly, and at relatively low cost. Utilize free tools on Bing and Google to get you started.
Software search and review sites connect buyers with sellers of business software. According to David, 33 percent of his company’s leads come from sites like Capterra, Finances Online, G2 Crowd, and Ombud. Remember, businesses bid for position, so once you’re on one of these sites, make sure your profile is brushed to a shine and that you explore sponsorship opportunities.
See what I mean about learning from partners? If you want more great information from the session, check out session video on-demand.