Useful B2B Digital Marketing Benchmarks [Infographic]

When planning upcoming marketing campaigns it helps to take a look back at your historical metrics to determine if your tactics were successful or not. If it was an email campaign, you’re naturally looking at open and click rates. If you launch a paid search ad, you need to know your average click-thru-rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC).

Once you know these numbers, the next question is “What does success mean for each?” And that’s where gets interesting. Some metrics can be determined by working back from business metrics but other times you just want a quick reference to industry benchmarks.

Insight Venture Partners, a leading global private equity and venture capital firm, created this Periodic Table of B2B Digital Marketing Metrics.

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9 Steps to Digital Marketing Greatness [Whitepaper]


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There are more than 23 million small businesses currently operating in the United States, and all of them are trying to reach through the clutter with a strong brand presence and a compelling marketing strategy. The digital age is upon us, and with hundreds of communication platforms and infinite possible applications, the world of online marketing is a complicated yet very rewarding area for small business development. Maybe you’ve never tried to establish a strong online presence, or maybe you’ve tried many different strategies with lackluster results. As a small business entrepreneur, your time and resources are already stretched, and you’ve probably told yourself at least once that you don’t have the time to develop a strong online marketing strategy.


9 Steps to Digital Marketing Greatness [Infographic]

This guide exists to help you understand, build, and eventually maintain a powerful, integrated online presence. It won’t happen overnight, but with a little bit of dedication and the right resources to back you, you can accelerate your small business’s online presence to a formidable level.

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Blogging Leads to Sales

Business owners sometimes treat their online marketing like flossing. They know they should do it, but it nevertheless gets buried under the tasks of running the day-to-day business. Included in this bucket of online marketing is the concept of blogging. “What? How’s that going to grow my business?”

What is a blog?

First off, let’s explore what a blog actually is and how it’s part of the bigger picture. A blog, abbreviated for web+log, is typically an informational section of your website that allows for short content for frequent distribution. Meaning, it’s less words than heavy-duty whitepaper and it’s more informative than a Tweet. Blogs are also formatted fairly consistently with ability to filter through them with categories or tags that essential build a library of reference for the website visitors. They are also written in a unique way as people tend to read, or should I say scan, online differently than print. Bullet points, numerical ordering, and short paragraphs are more effective than long prose.

Why do website visitors value blogs?

Depending on the objective of the blog, visitors can get a lot out of it. Some companies use blogs less as a sales tool and more as a personality disseminator. In other words, it’s a way for employees to showcase their quirky attitudes or display their friendly faces. This is sometimes a much-needed human touch, instead of the flat lines, drop shadows, and icons that overtake the online experience. A blog can also be a great continuous stream of education.

The most successful blogs strive to add value, meaning educate or solve a problem, with every blog post that gets published. It’s also beneficial because the post can be released in a timely matter. Getting a press release out into the media can be a much more daunting task then publishing a quick post announcing the release of a new product or the hiring of a new sales person.

Why do search engines value blogs?

Search engines value blogs because they hold content at the center of everything. The search engine ranking algorithms will always select content that adds value to the person doing the search over a stale site that has none. After all, if Google and Big return bad results and irrelevant content, then people will stop using them. Additionally, blogs are a great way to encourage links back to the website. If the blog post is valuable to the visitor, they will in many cases share that link with their social networks. This concept of creating content to be shared by users is called “Link Baiting” and helps dramatically increase a website’s search engine ranking. After all, every link pointing to your website counts as a vote, and like politics the more votes more popular you’ll be perceived.

How does blogging increase sales?

Higher ranking in the search engines directly correlates to more traffic flowing to a website. If that traffic is targeted correctly, then more traffic typically means more leads and more customers. It’s human nature that if you solve a problem for somebody, they will remember you and reciprocate. This applies directly to blogging as the more visitors that get helped; the more they will value helping company’s brand.

In a recent study, the 2012 State of Inbound Marketing by HubSpot, it was discovered that 92% of companies that responded acquired a customer through their blog if they posted multiple times per day. The numbers are still impressive for those that post daily at 78%, 2-3 times per week at 70%, and weekly at 66%. This data along with some other metrics in their report shows a direct correlation between blogging and customer acquisition. Blogging was recorded as the most effective lead generation category as being “Below Average Cost Per Lead.”

Summary and Next Steps

Blogging, or publishing web content on a regular basis, can be an effective tool for adding additional value to prospects and customers. It provides for a strong online foundation that encourages other websites to link to the posts and for visitors to share them on social networks. It’s been found that blogging can increase traffic significantly and be another avenue to generate leads. If you’re looking to get started, then carve out an area of your site today and start writing. Good luck!

Book Review: The New Rules of Lead Generation

There are many elements to marketing that can prove effective for growth of a business. However, at the heart of every marketing strategy should be a focus on generating sales-ready leads. After all, if the marketing isn’t generating leads and revenue, then it’s not working. The best marketing today doesn’t rely on loose metrics like frequency, reach, impressions, or branding. Not to say those concepts aren’t important, but they don’t create a concrete direction for a marketer to make decisions. Marketers can however make intelligent marketing based on how many qualified leads come through the door and ramp it up or down specific to the source.
A new book by David T. Scott titled The New Rules of Lead Generation - Proven Strategies to Maximize Marketing ROI is a resource that every corporate marketer should own. The New Rules of Lead Generation helps marketers by defining a lead and more importantly defining what kind of lead a business wants. Tacking on some more traditional thinking, he identifies what stage in the buying cycle (attention, interest, decision, and action) the lead could be in and then suggests developing products/services that solve a problem at each particular stage. In his book, Scott walks through what he’s identified as the 7 most successful lead-generation marketing tactics.

The 7 Most Successful Lead-Generation Tactics

  1. Search engine marketing
  2. Social media advertising (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter)
  3. Display advertising (a.k.a. banner ads)
  4. Email marketing
  5. Direct mail advertising
  6. Cold calling
  7. Trade shows

Scott provides some valuable best practices and insight well learned from his own personal experience. He talks about how to measure and optimize your campaigns and encourages marketers to embrace a integrated approach, which combines multiples tactics together for the biggest payoff.

The book is an easy read and although may seem a bit obvious to those with many years of experience in direct marketing, it will drastically reduce the learning curve for a new entrant. I could also see it being used as a powerful internal selling tool to provide to senior leadership to explain “why” the strategy is lead generation instead of simply branding.

For more information on The New Rules of Lead Generation:

5 Tips for a Fantastic Marketing Conference

I recently attended a marketing conference in Indianapolis, IN called Connections - “Inspire the Future”. The event was put on by ExactTarget, an international email marketing service provider. The event pulled together 4,000 marketing clients and industry thought leaders all learning together. Inspired by how well this event was executed, I thought I’d share 5 tips from what I saw at the conference that in my opinion made it successful.

  1. Tell Success Stories - People love stories and are excited to learn if the content is structured like one. Start off by introducing the problem. Mostly likely your audience is in the same boat. Let them put on their detective hats and walk through how you attempted to solve it. Show them your methods and each step along the way. When you get to the end, leave them with the positive results. It’s helpful to bring in your clients, your partners, and experts. The more stories you tell, the better.
  2. Bring in the Big Dogs - Not every company has the resources to hire famous celebrities, bands, and entertainers to attend their conference. If you can (ExactTarget Connections featured Michael J. Fox, The Fray, and David Blaine) then you’re surely able to excite your attendees. However, if you can’t afford it then you should at least bring in the thought leaders. No matter what your industry, there are people with deep expertise and knowledge. Bring these keynote speakers up on stage to tell their stories. Some of them might come from your company but it is much more powerful if they don’t. Get some big names in there and you’re on your way to a successful event.
  3. Embrace Social Sharing - If you’re going to throw an event or conference then you need to be prepared for people to talk about it online. Embrace the conversations by setting up Twitter hashtags, Facebook pages about the event, or other channels for people to share. Lead the conversation by talking with people online. Let non-attendees participate by following the attendees’ profiles and news feeds. ExactTarget created a “Social Media Lounge” space that automatically posted tagged Tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts.
  4. Make Your Guests Comfortable - The last thing you want people to remember about your conference is that they were hungry, or they didn’t get enough breaks, or they they didn’t have access to water. If you’re going to put on an event then be a good host and go overboard in providing the essentials. ExactTarget connections had hundreds of coffee stands (might be exaggerating but it seemed like it), water bottle towers, snack tables, drink carts, and served food. Go above and beyond expectations with the little things because they really do matter.
  5. Make Your Pitch - Once you’ve got all your attendees excited, educated, and comfortable then you need to give your pitch. Although the event may be about customer appreciation, you have to remember you are a business that needs to make money. Design your conference so they you can close, up-sell, and cross-sell your products. There is no better time to adding extra value to your customers than on the high of a great event!

Have you been to an event lately? What made it stand out?

3 Essential Web Metrics to Monitor

If you own a website or blog then naturally you should be monitoring whether it is accomplishing your goals or not. Of course, that’s easier said than done in today’s world of endless numbers.

Do you monitor your bounce rate, number of page views, sites referring your traffic, views on mobile, inbound links, outbound links, page rank? Well yes, but not necessarily every day. There are just too many numbers to consistently watch if you’re only one person. Even a team can have trouble distinguishing the nice-to-have from the need-to-have.

What’s important about these metrics is that they aren’t the end game. I don’t look at them and say “Oh, that’s nice.” They are a starting point and are worthless if you don’t use them to take a step deeper by asking questions. What was this number yesterday? Why is it so much higher or lower? What caused the spike or drop? Was their one or many causes?

The purpose of watching these numbers allows you to dive deeper and gain some real learnings. These metrics below allow you to do that.

Below are 3 key website metrics that I watch every day:

  1. Daily Visits (Google Analytics) - Although you’re thinking this is an obvious choice, you’d be surprised at how it’s overlooked. This metric will tell you a lot about the trends of the people visiting your site. You’ll see what days your visitors primarily focus on. Some retail sites tend to see an uptick on the weekends. B2B companies have a skew towards the workdays. Dive in deeper to see what hours of your most popular days cause the most transactions or leads. Use this information to target your content to people on specific days or focus your advertising during those core purchase hours. Longer term, are your daily visits going up or down? If you’re consistently publishing new content and your visits are going down then you may be losing traction. Figure out which of these visits are new versus returning and gauge whether you’re being successful.
  2. Search Queries (Google Webmaster Tools) - If you’re making an effort to increase your search engine rank in Google, Bing, or any other major search engine then you need to pay attention to your “Search Queries”. This metric showcases the most common search queries pointing to your site, as identified by Google. It allows you to see how many times your site is being found, being clicked on, and your average position. You can compare the queries driving to your site with the list of keywords you’re actually trying to rank against. This is a quick and easy way to judge the success of your SEO efforts.
  3. Links to Your Site (Google Webmaster Tools) - The currency on the web is valuable outbound links to websites you value. With that in mind, you should be measuring how many websites are “voting” for you. Quality is much more important than quantity but this number should continuously be going up nevertheless. You should consistently be creating and promoting your content on relevant blogs, partner websites, and associations. Leverage your industry expertise in news articles and press releases. Promote your deals and discounts on social media sites like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Always link back to your site. Even better, link back to specific pages and deeper URLs.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of metrics that should be analyzed when optimizing a website and a business. Spend time to quarterly or yearly pull together a full analysis and competitive review of how you’re doing. Look into the path your visitors are taking, the pages that cause the biggest bounce rates, and the browsers most used by your local customers. But don’t get overwhelmed and ignore the key metrics that you should be focusing on daily. Keep yourself  informed quickly and easily by only looking a few.

What are your most important metrics?

Marketing Automation Explained

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, it’s advantageous to manage your customers and prospects in one of the many customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This obviously allows you to match your customers with sales transactions, but more importantly for marketers it allows you the option of layering on a marketing automation system that can deliver targeted messages at the right time without continuous management by additional personnel.

If you’re like many companies, you employ a marketing individual or team to collect your contacts information and execute campaigns in somewhat of a batch and blast situation. You may even be sophisticated enough to break down your list by sales group, product, region, or industry. What you probably don’t do is automatically trigger your selective content to send out when a customer is on your website, when a prospect has downloaded your sales whitepaper, or when the system has identified a customer within their annual buying period.

Marketing automation, what is it?

Marketing automation combines technology, typically hosted, with business processes that score leads based on fixed criteria like title and size of company, as well as dynamic criteria, such as which web pages the person viewed, whether the individual attended a webinar or clicked through to an offer. Ultimately this information allows the marketer to better target messages and promotions to individuals based on their stated and implied interests. That process is generally called “lead nurturing,” which is a popular buzzword in the industry. - Joe Chernov, Eloqua (in an interview with

3 reasons you need marketing automation:

  1. You can “set it and forget it”. Once you do the work up front to create your content and your set of rules, your program will run with little oversight. Your programs will also be able to run outside of your companies work hours. With the expansion of mobile devices and tablets many people continue to work after they get home or into late hours. Turn your marketing into a 24/7 sales generating machine.
  2. You can scale your processes. It’s very demanding to send a personalized “Thank you” note to every one of your customers on the same day they make a sale. This business requirement would require monitoring, notification, editing, proofing, and executing for every item. Automate processes like these and scale the number of touch points, leads generated, and sales routed.
  3. You can eliminate human errors. How many of you have seen those “sorry, our mistake” emails from well-intended marketing teams who mixed up their data or their content? Probably everyone. This type of thing happens all the time because human touches are heavily involved. Errors and mistakes can be eliminated, or at least mitigated, by creating a rigid step-by-step program or process. Do the work up front to build, test, and approve then let the computer do the thinking.

10 best practices that utilize marketing automation:

  1. Contact Registration - Capture your customer or prospect’s information at every chance you get. Offer them something of value in exchange. Can you solve a quick problem of theirs with a whitepaper demonstrating your expertise?
  2. Welcome Email - Trigger and email that expresses gratitude that your customer or prospect has taken the time to interact with your brand. This is a great opportunity to provide additional resources or guide them to your call-to-action. Also, this eliminates the confusion when they get an email from you later and ask “Why am I receiving this?”
  3. Identify Customer Intent - Some marketing automation solutions can integrate with analytics tools so you can see exactly what content they care about. It sounds a bit Big Brother, but your sales team would love to know if one of their top customers just browsed the new product page and downloaded the demo video. Great way to identify a potential easy cross-sell.
  4. Lead Scoring - Not all prospects or customers are the same so they certainly shouldn’t be treated the same. Identify your triggers for contacts with the highest propensity to buy and jump on them first. You only have a limited number of resources in a day so prioritize accordingly. Segment customers by title, location, sales history, advertising referral source, website content browsed, or any other data point that is important to you.
  5. Assign to Sales Representative - Automatically notify one of your sales reps to take action and update your CRM reflecting it. Build rules that remind them via email or text message after a certain number of days of no activity. Create a backup rule in case a sales rep is on vacation or out of the office. A list of 1,000 leads in Excel handed over to a sales team seems like a “job well done” from a marketing perspective, but is overwhelming if you’re the one making the calls. Instead, trickle the leads automatically as they come in. Much more manageable.
  6. Nurture Email - You’re spending all this time and money to get valuable information into your system. Make sure you don’t forget to continuously communicate with them on a regular basis. Send a newsletter, product updates, and thought leadership material on a schedule that your customers feel is appropriate. Measure how effective you are with engagement metrics such as open rate, click thru rate, and additional actions on your website.
  7. Engaged / Unengaged Survey - Segment your audience by how engaged they are with your website, content, and emails. Similar to lead scoring except you’re looking at their actions, not their demographics or company information. Take the time to craft a short survey and get a feel for how you’re doing. Ask them “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” and begin measuring your Net Promoter Score.
  8. Upcoming Renewal Date Email - If you’re a B2B company, you’ll sometimes have annual renewals or a period of time when your customer is evaluating their options. Use this date field as a trigger to get out and front of their questions and concerns. Emphasis your additional value and why they went with you in the first place. This is also a great trigger to ping sales reps or customer relationships managers. You have a mass communication solution, might as well use it for internal messages as well.
  9. SMS Communication - There has been a boom of success stories relating to SMS marketing campaigns. It’s a very personal medium that consumers tend to guard unless they initiate the opt-in. Once you get that opt-in permission however,  you’ll get their full attention as 98% of all SMS are read. This is a great way to get timely and promotional messages directly into your customers hands. Use your marketing automation system to trigger alerts when they’ve reached a certain threshold or when their eligible for a special deal.
  10. Social Media - Not really in the same bucket of a usual marketing automation solutions, but I still put it in the same category because some of it can be automated. Utilize tools such as or Ifttt.comto automatically tweet or share your latest blog post. Although I like to screen who I follow, you can automate following someone that follows you or unfollowing someone that unfollows you on Twitter. Again, I like to make my responses personal but if you don’t have time for it you can automatically thank a person that mentions you.

Have you looked into how marketing automation can help you?

Inbound Marketing Guide [Infographic]

I wanted to share this fantastic and easy to understand infographic I came across outlining the Inbound Marketing Process. It was created by an agency in Wallingford, CT called Impact Branding & Design. According to their website, Impact Branding & Design is a “Creative team of inbound marketing professionals which develops and executes highly effective online marketing campaigns.”

The Inbound Marketing Process infographic can be found on their original blog post here.
I’ve outlined their 6 step process in the infographic below.

Step 1: Develop a successful marketing strategy

Determine the purpose of your marketing by establishing clear goals, objectives, and challenges. Without a marketing strategy you won’t be able to optimize and measure your inbound marketing efforts.

Marketing is an investment in the growth of your business, not an expense - Impact Branding & Design

Step 2: Create & maintain a powerful website

A website is a tool for your customers and prospects to interact with your brand and content. This tool should add value to the experience of doing business with you. Basic website principles go a long way: Easy to navigate, professional appearance, search engine friendly, mobile ready, easy to update.

An effective website is the hub of all your online marketing and lead generation - Impact Branding & Design

Step 3: Generate more traffic

Promote your thought leadership through a blog, social media, SEO, and PPC.

  • “A blog gets you 55% more traffic!”
  • “400% more indexed pages are produced by blogging”
  • “Nearly 2/3 of U.S. internet users regularly use a social network”
  • “20% of monthly Google searches are for local businesses”

Step 4: Convert traffic to leads

Leverage your website in order to get the visitor’s information and start your sales process. You can’t do business with an anonymous web browser. Also, visitors providing their information should get a fair exchange. Give them something of value in order to collect their email and information. Solve a problem for them and start the relationship right off.

Step 5: Convert leads to sales

Leverage marketing automation tools to identify your high value leads and route them to your sales force. If your budget can support it, set up a system such as, Hubspot, or Marketo (to name only a few) and connect to your customer relationship database (CRM). Score them, segment them, and send targeted and thoughtful communications.

Step 6: Measure everything

You can’t optimize if you don’t track the right numbers. Figure out how well you’re doing by measuring every step of the process. Utilize your website analytics, your media purchasing data, your social media metrics, and your sales conversion rates. Close the loop by determining your return on investment (ROI) and focus on spending your dollars in the right places.

Now, below is the infographic:

Replace Marketing Best Practices with Testing

As marketers, we sometimes get pulled into the black hole of thinking that best practices are the answer. We dive into case studies, we research articles, and we have discussions with peers about how other companies have achieved their success. The problem with relying on building our marketing on case studies is we don’t really learn anything for ourselves. Every business is different and just as importantly every product inside of the same company is different. Each can target a different audience with a different buying cycle.

If a campaign or advertisement works for one product or company, labeling it a “best practice” does not ensure it will work for another. Even more dangerous, the marketing campaign could be led down a path in the wrong direction from the very beginning.

So what do we do about it?

We need the answers to these questions!

When do I send out my message? How long should my email subject line be? What color will grab the attention on this direct mail postcard? At how long into the commercial do I ask them to ‘like’ us on Facebook? What dimensions do I create that banner for?

We should be figuring these answers out for ourselves.

  1. Have a clear marketing goal. Go back to the very simple reason of what the marketing department is tasked with. Is it driving sales? Leads? Registrations? Clicks? Visits? Understanding what the goal is will affect how it’s measured and therefore the results. It will quickly be apparent that the discovered “best practice” on our desk is for a company with a different variable.
  2. Build a foundation of testing. Set up a campaign to measure the end goal as an experiment. Continuously benchmark against the progress of the campaign and adjust as necessary. Build testing into the DNA of every campaign. If the campaign can’t be measured then take a good look at the reason it’s being run.
  3. Look at the results of the experiment. People are busy. We all are. But without the results there is no measure of success. We need to take the time to present them in a reasonably easy to understand way. If our CMO or executive board spends more time on the format than the data, it’s been done wrong.

Marketing can be a fine-tuned and running machine in every company. No matter what the product or company, each has their own needs. Relying on best practices will not only take a marketing team down the wrong path but it will set them up for future failure.

Undoubtedly, we’ll run into a situation (especially with the way technology evolves) where there is no best practice to choose from. Would we rather have a system in place to figure it out ourselves or wait until someone else does, so we can read their “best practice”.