Using Engagement to Accelerate Pipeline

The pressure to make deals close, especially as the year comes to an end, is real. But what’s a marketer to do when prospects fail to progress? According to research by SiriusDecisions, an integrated webinar strategy is one of the best ways to make deals move.

Too often, teams turn to automation to try and nudge opportunities without working through if a contact needs to be nudged in the first place. It’s a spray-and-pray marketing strategy disguised in an algorithm, and it doesn’t deliver the necessary results. To get deals across the finish line, marketers need to move beyond clicks and views and start to empathize with audiences.

Empathy demands close listening, and the best way for marketers to listen today — outside of directly calling and talking with prospects — is understanding what messages connect and why. Automation cannot find these insights on its own and must take a backseat to genuine engagement. In a digital context, this means marketers need to do more than watch audience clicks and views and interact with attendees as they consume content and ask questions. Generating these meaningful interactions means gaining better insights into what they need from a solution — giving marketing and sales the fuel they need to push opportunities along.

Collecting Insights

Collecting insights is more complicated than slapping a UTM code on a link. Often, collection requires tracking a range of accounts in a vertical and how they engage with interactive content. Here, using the right tool is critical. Does it monitor downloaded resources? Questions asked? Often they visited a website or digital events? These sorts of insights are essential for identifying opportunities, especially fast-moving prospects looking to make a quick deal.

The insights gained from user engagements can also help unstick stalled deals. Marketers and sales teams can provide slow-moving prospects with additional content based on their interests or alert them to upcoming events or articles by subject matter experts they respect. Additionally, organizations can put together highly-targeted, self-serve nurture tracks with the use on on-demand content.

The Right Content Meets a Better Channel

On-demand content hubs are particularly powerful tools for stuck opportunities. Such hubs allow you to re-engage and refocus prospects on your best, most relevant content based on industry and persona. They also enable prospects self-discover content and engage with the organization in a way they prefer. On-demand hubs also provide an opportunity for marketers to create self-qualifying triggers that move highly-engaged prospects from a nurture track to an active demand track.

Live events, too, are great for motivating and re-engaging stuck prospects. Live events give them the opportunity to interact with SMEs, ask questions and download new content specific to the event.

Fueling Reports

Time is of the essence, which means sales teams needs as much information on newly engaged and re-engaged prospects that are ready to take the next step. That’s why it’s essential for organizations to build engagement profiles – summaries of prospect or account interactions with a brand. With engagement profiles, marketing can get specific behavior reports across live, on-demand and personalized content experiences for either individual prospects, or cumulative reports on accounts, and deliver them to sales for the final push.

End-of-year pushes are never easy. But using engagement-based marketing to push stalled pipeline across the finish line can resurface promising leads and make fast-moving campaigns much more comfortable.

To learn more about how webinars and on-demand gateways help you accelerate pipeline, download this research from SiriusDecisions.

Did Microsoft Azure’s Approach to Marketing Help Its Company’s Quarter?

It’s rewarding to see a company succeed — especially when they’re considered an underdog in their respective industry. Microsoft, for example, is a quintessential comeback story in the tech industry. It was the tech industry leader for decades until being supplanted agile companies, like Google and Apple, that were more capable of adapting to a digital age.

Today, the organization is back near the top. It’s now the world’s fourth-most valuable company, nipping on Alphabet’s heels (in May it even surpassed the Google conglomerate) and just had an excellent earnings report.

What gives? Well, a lot of hard work from dedicated employees and key investments in critical areas, such as the company’s cloud platform, Microsoft Azure. Azure, in fact, is one of the prime drivers behind the company’s growth spurt. Its cloud platform is so successful that it’s growing faster than Amazon’s AWS. That’s serious pipeline.

To us, we can’t help but think that Microsoft Azure’s marketing efforts played a critical role in an organization’s overall success. While the tech giant possesses the funds to buy their way into a market, the company’s ethos — and practicality — demanded it takes a long-term, ground-up approach to marketing that informs customers, trains partners and provides sales with the insights they need — and do so quickly. It’s a traditional, well-oiled global demand generation machine refined for the modern era and it works. Trust us, we’ve seen it in action.

Microsoft’s successes — and other growth successes — should be a wake-up call to organizations chasing global growth. Its message: growth is a team effort, and putting everything in the right place first pays off in the long run. Curious about how Azure boosted its global marketing efforts? Check out our case study explaining how they re-invented their webinars for success and register for our upcoming episode of the Webinar Best Practices Series, “Taking Your Webinars Global.”

Summer Reading: How Webinars Help Drive Pipeline

For today’s marketers, generating leads is the name of the game. Make more leads, get more money. Sadly, identifying quality prospects — those sales can turn into revenue — isn’t easy. As marketers, we need to look beyond measuring the potential for pipeline and move towards measuring results for pipeline.

So, how does this work? Well, we Mark Bornstein lays it out on track three of our Summer Playlist, but we can also summarize the main points here.

Conceptually, it’s straightforward. Take a look at all of your marketing tactics and analyze conversions by percentage of market-qualified leads. Then, focus your efforts and exploit the tactics that work.

Microsoft, for example, analyzed its methods and found webinars converted leads — attendees to buyers — at a high rate (7.2 percent). It doubled-down on its webinar efforts, going from 200 to more than 4,000 webinars per year — and netted SiruisDecisions’ 2016 ROI Award in the process.

So what are the basics of using webinars to drive pipeline?

First, webinars need to drive movement across the entire buying cycle — not just top. That means you’ll need to develop thought leadership webinars, company and product positioning webinars, case studies, validation and, of course, demonstration webinars to offer your prospects a full picture of what your organization has to offer.

Keep in mind the tone needed for each stage. Top-of-funnel events, like thought leadership webinars, should remain high-level and avoid being too “pitchy.” Similarly, bottom-of-funnel events should address specific pain points attendees are experiencing and demonstrate what your solution can accomplish for them.

The second step in getting webinars to drive pipeline is to increase the number of content touches in each webinar event. Creating these opportunities is advantageous in and of itself — it makes your webinars more interactive (by having your presenter point out where visitors can go for more information), and it gives you the opportunity to audit your content.

Still, you’ll want to make your content available in a webinar for one key reason: to let your audience members choose their own buyer’s journey experience. By enabling attendees to decide which steps they want to take, whether be it downloading content, registering for a demo, contacting a salesperson, or simply looking up the presenter’s biography, you provide your prospects with the subtle tools to indicate where they are on the buyer’s map, what stage and how likely they are to convert.

Just remember: more content means more opportunity for engagement and potentially more qualified leads.

The third step in using webinars to drive pipeline is to take a closer look at lead scoring. By examining how an attendee engages with a webinar — by asking questions, downloading content, answering polls and surveys and more — you can get a clearer understanding of where the attendee is on the buying cycle as well as the likelihood of future engagement and if they’re a good fit for a potential buyer.

Engagement scoring through webinars is a great way to break out leads across different tiers as well. For example, the most engaged leads can be matched with an account executive while the least engaged leads can be given nature material — saving your sales team time and effort. The point is, by measuring webinar engagement, you can better break out leads by quality and give them the appropriate amount of care and attention.

The final step for driving pipeline is handing off to sales. With right marketing systems in place, complete with engagement analysis, webinars can provide your sales teams with the critical contextual information they need to make a quality call with a lead. For example, if the lead asked a question during a webinar, a sales rep could provide them with additional content or offer a direct answer to their problem. They could also reference the content of the webinar to continue the conversation with a lead and, hopefully, bring in a close.

Webinars make it easy to drive pipeline. All you have to do create, provide, articulate and follow up on the content you’ve already created.

Speaking of which, we have some more material for you to peruse. It’s our Summer Reading list inspired by track three of our Summer Playlist. Take a look:

  1. Using Big Marketing Event Ideas to Drive Pipeline
  2. It’s Time for Marketing to take on Revenue Responsibility
  3. How Genesys scaled its global webinar program with ON24
  4. Lead Intelligence: A Better Model for Lead Gen
  5. How Microsoft creates world-class, ROI-driven webinar programs