Hubspot’s Newest State of Inbound 2015 Report – Continued

As promised, let’s jump into the state of inbound sales section of Hubspot’s newest State of Inbound 2015 report.  Don’t forget to download the whole thing, or just get the highlights here on my blog.

Here are the key takeaways from the sales section of this report:

  • “Social selling is still more hype than reality”
  • “Sales technology budgets have shrunk since last year.  In addition, sales departments that have adopted emerging sales tools don’t cite confidence with those tools.”
  • “Different roles within the sales team experience different CRM obstacles. While manual data entry is still the biggest CRM problem overall, executives struggle with lack of adoption, and managers cry lack of integration with other tools.” –> Ain’t that the truth!
  • “Prospecting is the most difficult step of the sales process.  This issue is compounded by the fact that salespeople lack vital information before they reach out to leads.” –> Here is where prospect nurturing plays such a vital role!
  • “Field sales isn’t really dying.  Despite sensational articles declaring the demise of field sales, hiring data shows that outside reps are getting hired (and fired) at more or less the same rate as inside reps.”
  • “Executive buyers are not very trusting of salespeople.  To regain credibility among executives, salespeople should arm themselves with content and become active on social networks.”
  • Sales Priorities–>
  • “The overall company top sales priorities
    • Improving the efficiency of the sales funnel
    • Improving existing sales technology
    • Reducing the length of sales cycle
    • Training the sales team
    • Social selling
    • Investing in sales enablement
    • Investing in a CRM”
  • “These are the top sales priorities by level in a company [I chose to focus on the top 3 out of 8]
  • Executive:
    • Closing more deals
    • Improving the efficiency of the sales funnel
    • Reducing the length of sales cycle
  • Non-executive VP or director:
    • Closing more deals
    • Improving the efficiency of the sales funnel
    • Improving existing sales technologies
  • Manager or senior manager:
    • Closing more deals
    • Improving the efficiency of the sales funnel
    • Improving existing sales technologies
  • Individual contributor:
    • Closing more deals
    • Improving the efficiency of the sales funnel
    • Training the sales team”
  • asa
  • Sales Technology–>
  • “…budgets for sales technology have decreased form last year’s estimates. Of respondents who were privy to their sales tech budgets, 93% indicated their companies planned to spend $100,000 or less, with 78% spending less than $25,000.”
  • “In addition to falling budgets, sales teams that have adopted new tools haven’t been blown away by them.”
  • “24% of teams do not use a CRM.”
    • “Even more alarming is the fact that approximately 46% of salespeople in our survey are not exclusively using dedicated technology to store lead and customer data.  Instead, they’re relying on physical files, Google docs, and other “informal means” in place of or in addition to a dedicated system.”
  • “Unsuccessful sales teams are 2X more likely to use Excel, Outlook, or physical files to store lead and customer data.”
  • Sales Challenges–>
  • “Although salespeople by and large have proven their resilience by tailoring their process to the modern buyer, there are still some challenges that arise from this seismic shift.”
  • What part of the sales process do reps struggle with most?
    • 42%–> Prospecting
    • 36%–> Closing
    • 22%–> Qualifying
  • How much information does your company have about a lead before a sales rep reaches out?
    • 43%–> Contact information
    • 31%–> Social media information
    • 21%–> Website interaction history
  • “…when Marketing and Sales collaborate, salespeople are privy to more lead information…And there’s more god news for the marketing side of the spectrum.  Salespeople struggling with prospecting can expect more relief over the coming year–‘increasing the number of contacts/lead’ is marketers’ number one or two priority, depending on company size and B2B vs. B2C.”
  • What is your biggest CRM challenge?
    • Manual data entry
    • Lack of integration with other tools
    • Difficult to track my sales funnel
    • My sales team does not use it
    • Invalid/incorrect data
    • Managers don’t use it
  • “While executives identify manager non-adoption as the most pressing hurdle, managers themselves report lack of integration with other tools, with manual data entry close behind.”
  • Sales Trends –>
  • “The buzz might make you think the trusty field sales rep will imminently go the way of the dinosaur.  But…inside sales reps actually stand a better chance of being laid off than their counterparts in the field.”
  • “Popular culture often paints salespeople as employees who care about the size of their paycheck and little else. [However…] Our survey asked salespeople what they look for when deciding whether to pursue a position at a new company.” [I chose the top 5]
    • Opportunities for growth
    • Work-life balance
    • Compensation
    • Culture
    • Company performance
  • “With this in mind, sales leaders need to create new growth opportunities for reps who might not be suited for management if they hope to recruit and retain solid sales talent.”

I hope these two summaries helped but please do me a solid and go and download Hubspot’s report so you can have it handy.  All you have to do is click the links at the top of this post, or click the big image at the top.

Thanks for reading & stay tuned for more report summaries coming your way!

Hubspot’s Newest State of Inbound 2015 Report

I just downloaded Hubspot’s newest report on the state of inbound marketing and wanted to give you a “quick” snapshot of what you can find. You will very quickly see why I have out the word quick in quotes above. :)

For starters, you can download the full report but then either just look at the state of inbound marketing or the state of inbound sales parts of it. I chose to look at both as you can as well.

The state of inbound marketing section covers: the growth if inbound marketing, emerging trends, the best in class marketing practices, setting up for inbound success, and international inbound

The state of inbound sales on the other hand covers: sales priorities, technology, challenges and trends. I will cover this section in a subsequent blog post.  So stay tuned!

As the kick off to the report itself states, “Last year, we added sales to the mix to provide a more complete view into the entire lead-to-customer lifecycle. Our research found that salespeople struggle with a lack of information about their leads and manual data entry — two challenges that necessarily reduce their effectiveness at converting leads to customers. Just like Marketing’s lead generation is of prime interest to salespeople, marketers would be wise to take the problems sapping Sales’ efficacy to heart…with more than 150 countries represented. The majority of our nearly 4,000 respondents are marketers who work for B2B SMBs, and only one-third have an affiliation with HubSpot. Half of the companies represented generate under $1M a year in revenue, and the other half generate over $1M.”

Here are some of Hubspot’s key takeaways from the marketing section first:

  • “Both inbound and outbound marketers rank paid advertising as the #1 most overrated marketing tactic.”
  • “Inbound is the preferred marketing strategy regardless of company type. B2B, B2C, nonprofit…”
  • “Over six times as many respondents from companies with fewer than 25 employees cited inbound as their primary marketing approach…at companies with over 200 employees, inbound and outbound marketing strategies are deployed equally.”
  • “Leads (and converting them) remain a top priority.”
  • Growth of Inbound –>
  • These were the top priorities, based on company size [I chose to only list the top 2 out of 4]:
    • 0-25 employees: converting contacts/leads to customers, increasing the number of contacts/leads
    • 26-200 employees: increasing the number of contacts/leads, converting contacts/leads to customers
    • 201 or more employees: converting contacts/leads to customers, increasing the number of contacts/leads
  • These were the top priorities, based on the type of company [I chose to only list the top 2 out of 4]:
    • B2B: increasing the number of contacts/leads, converting contacts/leads to customers
    • B2C: converting contacts/leads to customers, increasing the number of contacts/leads
    • Nonprofit: increasing the number of contacts/leads, converting contacts/leads to customers
  • “Demonstrating ROI is the #1 challenge marketers face…across companies of different size and focus, and securing more budget to allocate toward ROI-generating activities was next in line”
  • “Finding the right technologies and managing a website were understandably a larger concern for small companies fighting to reach the growth phase.”
  • These were the top challenges, based on company size [I chose to only list the top 2 out of 4]:
    • 0-25 employees: proving the ROI of our marketing activities, (and a tie between) securing enough budget/managing our website
    • 26-200 employees: proving the ROI of our marketing activities, securing enough budget
    • 201 or more employees: proving the ROI of our marketing activities, securing enough budget
  • These were the top challenges, based on the type of company [I chose to only list the top 2 out of 4]:
    • B2B: proving the ROI of our marketing activities, securing enough budget
    • B2C: proving the ROI of our marketing activities, managing our website
    • Nonprofit: managing our website, proving the ROI of our marketing activities
  • Emerging Trends –>
  • “…proving ROI (though indeed still a top priority) has fallen in importance year over year.”
  • “ROI is still the #1 challenge, but executive support and team training are soaring.”
  • Most overrated marketing tactics across inbound and outbound organizations alike [ I chose to only list the top 3 out of 10]:
    • 1. Paid advertising – print, outdoor, broadcast, 2. Paid advertising – social media, online ads, PPC, 3. Social Media
  • “Senior executives favor inbound more than managers.”
  • “This year’s data showed an increase in the number of respondents who indicated they use freelancers and agency partners for content creation.”
  • Best-in-Class Marketing Practices–>
  • “Let’s dive into what the companies with the highest return on their marketing dollars are doing:
    • Inbound efforts achieve higher ROI than outbound regardless of company size or total marketing spend
    • Leading marketers resist the allure of paid campaigns and recognize outbound as being overrated
    • Best-in-class marketers track ROI, prove it’s growing each year, and secure increased budget as a result
    • Past success with inbound marketing is the single-biggest factor that drives budget increases
    • Both staff and guest contributors write marketing content
    • The best marketers check their marketing analytics 3+ times a week
      • Marketers who check their metrics 3x+ times a week are over 20% more likely to achieve positive ROI.”
  • Setting Up for Inbound Success–>
  • This section covers “how leading marketers ascend to the top. What tools do they use? hat sort of relationship do they maintain with Sales? How do they think about metrics (and how often)?”
    • “The main tool in top marketers’ arsenals is a platform for automating their team’s marketing efforts.”
    • Using marketing automation software increases a marketer’s chances for success.  And when Marketing and Sales loop each other in to software purchase decisions…the odds are even better.  Marketers who were involved with sales software selection were 13% more likely to see a positive ROI, and 11% more likely to receive an increased budget.”
    • “Respondents whose teams checked marketing metrics three or more times a week were over 20% more likely to see an increased ROI in 2015.”
    • “Inbound success is a team effort, and requires strong alignment between Sales and Marketing. The organizations getting the most out of their marketing budget (and getting more of it) tend to be partnered tightly with sales.”
  • International Inbound–>
  • “The global community is united in their favor of inbound practices…[however] it doesn’t mean that each region works the same way.”
    • “Australia, New Zealand, and North America all are proportionally less concerned with training, and more concerned with proving ROI. The Asia Pacific region (excluding Australia and New Zealand) was on average 17% more likely to cite tailoring their content to an international audience as a challenge than other regions.  On the other hand, Latin America is proportionally more concerned with identifying the right technologies than other global regions.”
  • Top marketing challenges by region [I have selected the top 3]
    • Australia & New Zealand
      • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities
      • Securing enough budget
      • Managing our website
    • Asia Pacific excluding Australia and New Zealand
      • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities
      • Targeting content for an international audience
      • Securing enough budget
    • Europe, Middle East, and Africa 
      • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities
      • Securing enough budget
      • Managing our website
    • Latin America
      • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities
      • Identifying the right technologies for my needs
      • Securing enough budget
    • North America 
      • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities
      • Managing our website
      • Securing enough budget
  • “North America was the only region where more than half of respondents indicated they check their marketing metrics three or more times per week.  International regions have catching up to do in terms of tracking metrics and ROI.”

As promised, the next blog post will be focused on the takeaways from the inbound sales section.

I hope you’ve found this helpful and stay tuned!

Marketing in Healthcare

Thought leadership, it’s important in all B2B areas but also in an industry such as healthcare.  What you know, as well as topic sensitivity and regulations can be very heavily weighed.  However, that doesn’t mean that marketing should be boring, or stale, or non existent.  At the end of the day, you are dealing with people and people consume information through all social networks, the web, forums, blogs, articles, etc, etc, etc.  This means, that your information should be readily available in these places and in these ways.

You don’t have to have the wildest ads, because at the end of the day you are potentially dealing with sensitive topics and are creating awareness around them.  As a marketer, don’t be put off when your manager or client says that you can’t really do something.  Take his or her advice, then do some due diligence.  Perhaps the competition is already doing something you’ve suggested.  Bring this up to him or her and make them aware of the situation, and perhaps, they will be more likely to let you at least run some distance with an idea to see where it might lead.

But if I were to weigh things, I think that thought leadership and good, optimized, content is what will get you the most bang for your buck. You’ll be found easier and hopefully your content will be what brings people to your practice or healthcare provider.

But don’t take my word for it, here are some great tips from Hubspot on the matter as well – 3 Keys to Digital Marketing in Healthcare as well as some great advertising campaigns as gathered by the healthcare marketer.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 5.17.00 PM

The Best Marketing Event Videos of 2015

Your time is limited!

Hurry hurry, there are only 13 or so hours left of this awesome opportunity.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but as I watched Will Reynold’s talk I began to get really inspired and knowing that I won’t have time to watch all the videos in one sitting I began to download them.

So hurry up and download some great marketing knowledge!

The 6 Best Marketing Event Videos of 2015.


The Importance of SEO

It’s been a doozie of a week but today is a two-a-day kind of day so read this blog post, but also check out today’s LinkedIn Pulse blog post about Client Management.  And as an even more added bonus, I’ll be sharing my diy plans for this year’s Christmas in the Working Mom section of my blog.  PHEW! Let’s begin.

So what do we know about SEO?  Most people will say that it’s important.  But some might not realize it’s not a set it and forget it kind of thing.  You may need to explain that there is more to SEO than just website effectiveness and getting found on line.

SEO is about those two things but also about growing brand awareness, thought leadership and as Search Engine Land states:

It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.” 

You have to think about at least the following 10 things when trying to run an effective SEO strategy:

  1. How is your website structured? Are things easy to find?
  2. How often are you updating the content on your site, either via a blog, or updating general information?
  3. Are your alt tags, video descriptions, meta descriptions, title tags, all that good stuff up to date and most importantly actually there?
  4. Where are you coming up in search results when plugging in some keywords?
  5. Are you working on improving, or maintaining, search results on an ongoing basis?
  6. Are you looking at social networks and forums to see what others are saying about you, and most importantly contributing to those conversations?
  7. Are you looking at relevant articles, blogs, etc. and commenting on those with a company profile to maintain relevance?
  8. Are you creating relevant and shareable content?
  9. Is your PR program in sync with your SEO program?
  10. Are you analyzing the results of your SEO efforts?

I know I am not an expert at all, I just like to know enough about things to be dangerous.  So if you’re looking for an expert, or know that you can’t do all of the above and more on your own, then look to KoMarketing Associates in Boston who are excellent to work with.

Good luck!

Content Marketing Strategy

Content is king.  But more importantly, the right kind of content is king.  Don’t just put out content for the sake of putting it out.  This approach will simply result in content that isn’t fully thought through, and content that isn’t strategic.  What I mean by the last word is that just as everything deserves a strategy, so does content marketing.  It must be thought of as a key component of an effective marketing strategy.  With, the right kind of, content being king, you have to ensure that the content you create is on point with who your brand is, is on point with the overall message, and is written in a way that entices the audience to read and learn more about you rather than run away because you’ve beat them down with industry and company jargon.

Here is how I would approach the creation of a content marketing strategy.  First and foremost it needs to align with the overall marketing strategy/plan, which needs to align with the overall business strategy/plan.

Once the marketing strategy/plan has been written and signed off on by all stakeholders (and I mean sales, other involved directors, and sometimes even the president of a business unit) you can then go about creating your content strategy.

Focus on the areas that need content.  Seems simple enough, but as I said at the beginning, don’t just create content to create content.  If you need to improve brand awareness, or drive traffic to your site, or increase web sales then most of those efforts will be focused around a digital strategy.  You may need to focus on improving through leadership which means becoming a resource to your potential customers, rather than someone whose emails they delete because you only share information about your products, rather than how you solve problems for your customers via your products.

Think about SEO.  With all content you need to make sure that you are easily found for the right reasons and via the right keywords.

You will most likely need to adjust your content strategy on an ongoing basis, as you may need to adjust your marketing plan, but make sure that the two are always in sync with each other.  And make sure that everyone is in sync with what kind of content, and message, you are putting out to the greater customer segment(s).

And last but not least, analyze, analyze, analyze and revise

I could go on and on with specifics, but these are my high level approach steps to a well planned out content marketing strategy.

Looking for some expert advice? Here are some articles that I stumbled upon and liked:

Developing a Content Marketing Strategy – Content Marketing Institute – This piece goes through the 5 things a content strategy plan must have.

How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy – MOZ – Granted, this is an older article but still very relevant.  It talks about why you should care about a content marketing strategy as well as a framework for that strategy, which is very detailed!

Content Marketing – Marketo – “Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself.” What else do I need to say? The post also goes into how to design engaging content, which is very important.

Email Marketing

I’ve dabbled in e-mail marketing and feel that I know enough to be dangerous but I won’t claim to be the be all and end all expert in the space.  Here is what I’ve done and have learned from doing those things:

My involvement:

  • Creating drip campaigns in Pardot
  • Creating simple landing pages
  • Monitoring prospects turning into leads & nurturing them

What I’ve learned:

  • You have to have a strategy
  • You must know your audience & how they’ll digest your information
  • Don’t beat people over the head with how awesome you or your products are, be informative & instead have them come to you
  • Have a clear CTA
  • If a landing page is needed, have it be clean, concise & to the point

There are so many ways to go about creating effective email campaigns.  The most important part though is to know your audience and what will make them tick.  If you’ve bought a new email list then you have to be very cautious as to how you come off that very first time.  Pay attention to your subject line & make sure that what’s in the body of the email marries up with the subject line.  Don’t be pushy, be informative.  Become their go to thought leader.

These are just a few of my high level thoughts. But I wanted to leave you with some cool email campaign looks as well as some parting thoughts via an infographic from

P.S. Stop by again on Thursday for my thoughts on content marketing & creating a good strategy.

The Twitter Evolution

I just read some interesting news regarding Twitter.  I’ll share a link to the AdAge article in a little bit but essentially there are rumblings of Twitter exploring the idea of allowing brands to have extended content, i.e. more than 140 characters.  I have mixed feelings about this.

My initial reaction was “Whoa!” (as you can see on my twitter account) This could be amazing for brands.  They’d get to tell more of a story, maybe connect better & share more information, etc.

But my second reaction was “Ugh.”  This is just going allow brands to blather on about themselves, their products or services on yet another platform.  Twitter was different because you had to know how to get the attention of your audience.  Your content had to be quick and to the point, not very different from an elevator pitch.  You had to know how to be creative and enticing enough to have people want to learn more about you, or have an initial place where you could start a conversation and then lead them to you in different ways.

The more I think about this, the more I’m leaning towards my second reaction.  What about you?

Here is the full AdAge article on this topic.

Product Marketing

In my recent searches I have come across product marketing roles that I wanted to dissect.   In some instances lines are easily blurred between marketing and product marketing due to the nature of the business. This can absolutely work but I want to look at the bigger picture of what each process entails, based on what I’ve seen in my past, and why they can co-mingle.

In some instances product marketing can be described as the final stages of a product development process.  It can also be the initial stages in terms of doing market research, but it all really depends on the organization and how it is broken up.  Product development on the other hand typically seems to do all the hands on “stuff” we’ll call it, as shown above, that get the idea/product to the product marketing stages where it is time to get the product launch going. But again the lines can get blurred and  there certainly are instances where the product marketing person or department does all of the above.

I have been lucky to have been a part of and seen a variety of these kinds of scenarios.  In one scenario the product development and marketing areas were very divided, in another the two truly worked together, and in yet another there was no collaboration at all.

In scenario number one I was a product marketer that was involved in an led projects for accounts big and small.  In this role I was responsible for identifying a clients need, or taking direction from a sales manager on that clients need, working with numerous internal departments to create a product that would both satisfy the need as well as meet our margin requirements.  Upon that projects completion I would hand off all of my knowledge on the product to the design team that would then work on collateral, POP materials, and advertising.

In scenario number two a new product development/phase gate process was introduced into the organization.  I asked to be a part of this new process and was brought in to the product launch stages of each new product introduction. Leading up to that phase, I would identify the appropriate marketing strategy for each new product or product update and work with my marketing team, or outside agencies, to create all of the materials needed for a successful product launch. This meant understanding why the product was being created, who it was being created for, how it needed to be sold, and where. This was a very involved process but it allowed all involved parties to know what was going on and when and how the deadlines may be affected, if at all, due to sourcing or manufacturing constraints.

In the last scenario, and probably most unfortunate,  there was no collaboration at all. A group of key people would identify the next product to be created, would then create it, and marketing would be brought in on that information two weeks prior to a launch.  The goal in this scenario was simply to be first to market rather than have all ducks in a row.

As you can see, there can be various iterations to how these different roles can be seen in an organization.  Personally, I love collaboration, I love figuring things out, I love a good strategy.  Every organization is unique and every process is different.  I am just lucky enough to have been a part of many different scenarios and understand that there is no cookie cutter way to figuring out how a product marketing role will work in your organization.

Car Sales Strategy – A Form of Pull Marketing

I walked in to a car dealership that’s local to our area and wondered, “Do they even have any cars on this lot?” Well…yes they do.  But you *have* to talk to someone.  Now that I know where the cars are, I might sneak past the sales guys but at this dealership the guys don’t roam the lots, you come to them.  This is probably their form of inbound/pull marketing.

I found it very interesting as at most other dealerships you can walk around the big lots freely and peek into the cars and read the specs as you shoo off the sales guy until you are actually interested in asking a question.  But here, it was different.  It was going to be a different experience and one that lead me to blog about it.

It’s difficult for car dealerships to be one upping each other all the time.  I mean really.  What’s the difference in who anyone buys from other than that customer’s experience, the inventory on the lot, and last but most importantly the prices?  More than likely it’s the very first thing I wrote as well as the last.  Word of mouth travels and if enough people have a bad experience, and if enough people document that bad experience online, then you might be doomed.

But I digressed.  I simply found it very interesting how this dealership set up its “interaction” with its customers.  What do you think?  Will more dealerships begin to do things this way? Have I been living under a rock and most of them conduct business this way now?