Marketers are always asked to produce the “next great thing” that will take their business to the next level.
We asked 27 of our marketing friends what they were planning in the coming year and their answers weren’t what you would have heard three years ago. Webinars? Nope. PPC? Not really.
The common theme revolved around content marketing, inbound marketing and lead nurturing. “Get more from your existing leads” was a comment from more than a few. In fact, over half those answering talked about the importance of content marketing in some form or another. This isn’t shocking considering 71% of B2B marketers use content marketing to generate leads according to Marketing Profs.
Next on the list is a trend we’ll see more and more in the coming year–account based marketing (ABM). Although marketers may not use the term, ABM is a growing strategy as organizations get uber targeted on marketing activities geared towards top accounts including event marketing, email, dedicated account prospecting and other multi-channel marketing.
A special thanks goes out to our content manager Alyssa Reeves who helped pull together this nearly 4,000-word post.
The question: What is your top marketing initiative to acquire leads in 2016 and why?
The Industry Leaders and Their Responses
In no particular order…..
Sanjay Dholakia (@sdholakia) | CMO at Marketo
Sanjay is very experienced when it comes to marketing. He has held many positions ranging from senior consultant to VP of Marketing and Business Development to CEO. And now he holds the position of CMO at Marketo. There, Sanjay is responsible for extending Marketo’s thought leadership, driving overall marketing operations, developing business segments, and expanding the reach of the company’s solution partner ecosystem and customer network.
“Nearly everything we do here at Marketo, ultimately, is intended to engage people (I try not to call them leads) with us and help them along their own buying journey. Our focus is less on the actual number of leads or people, but on whether we are engaging with the *right* people. To that end, the number one strategic initiative for us is to continue to drive a personalized approach across all of our inbound and outbound target account programs. Applying this strategy of individualized engagement and relevancy across all channels and tactics helps us not only drive acquisition – but conversion.”
Sangram Vajre (@sangramvajre) | Co-Founder and CMO at Terminus
Sangram is not only the co-founder and CMO at Terminus, but he also has had experience as a marketing board member on Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AIMA). His goal is to: Create compelling touches to attract, influence, and convert prospects into customers.
“Leads don’t matter anymore, accounts do. Every time a lead comes in, we look and see if it belongs to the right account that we want to engage in and if not, we don’t bother. Our sales team is focused on a set of accounts that is all about creating relevant conversations with an industry vertical and look at that as the way to align sales and marketing teams.Our goal is simply driven by business pipeline and revenue and marketing role is to help accelerate pipeline, provide air cover, and get more revenue. More leads just doesn’t achieve these objectives unless they are qualified opportunities and for a fast growing startup company, we need to focus on the top line to achieve our collective goals.”
As CMO at Kahuna, Julie has global responsibility for Kahuna’s brand, strategic planning, customer education and empowerment, and more. She has over 20 years of marketing experience and is recognized as an innovative digital change agent with a proven track for creating world class marketing organizations.
“In 2016, marketers will continue to battle for consumer attention, and personal branded experiences on digital channels will stand out. In order to drive leads, we’ll focus on educating brands on the opportunity to engage their customers on their “owned communications” channels — e.g., push notifications, in-app messaging, and email. Instead of leaning on “rented” channels like advertising, they’ll focus on the channels they actually own and control.
The rise of adblocking — a threat to the world of rented channels — in fact will help drive this trend of owned communication. And eventually, brands will the both the tools and practices to invest further in owned communications, and rethink and rebudget the marketing mix. ”
Adam New-Waterson (@RevTechCMO) | CMO at LeanData
Adam is passionate about simplifying sales and marketing so teams can focus on what they do best, selling. He began his Marketing career at The Reynolds Group and made his way up to become the CMO at LeanData. Adam graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts-Photography.
Instead of just trying to chase the next set of “leads,” I want to be sure we’re fully activating the ones we already have.”
Allen Schweitzer (@AllenSchwei) | Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Brafton, Inc.
Allen is a results oriented, process driven sales leader with a history of success selling complex software, hardware, and technology products. His specialties include, closing new business, new customer acquisition, hiring, training, and more. Allen has years of experience under his belt in sales, so it is safe to say he’s a pro.
“Brafton’s top marketing initiative for lead acquisition in 2016 continues to revolve around rich content – specifically video, in depth blogs, downloadable assets like ebooks & infographics and the optimized landing pages where most of these assets will live.
There are so many opportunities to leverage & repurpose content like this across different channels like Marketo nurture emails, webinars, social activity, speaking engagements, Sales efforts & more. 2015 was the year where our inbound efforts beat our outbound efforts in terms of developing sales pipeline and revenue.
We’re looking to capitalize on that trend by increasing our content investment for 2016. It’s a very exciting time for online marketing.”
Matt Benati (@mattbenati) | CEO & Co-founder of LeadGnome
Matt Benati is the CEO and Co-founder of LeadGnome, an innovative web service that mines email responses to deliver account-specific contacts, enhance existing leads, and provide actionable sales intelligence. Matt is a passionate believer that sales and marketing alignment, transparency, and communication optimize revenue generation, and he champions this philosophy in his teams and writings. He is very active in the Account Based Marketing and Account Based Sales Development communities. Matt’s previous positions include VP Marketing at LogMeIn, VP Global Marketing at Attunity and senior roles at Netezza and IBM.
“I’m focused on accounts (not leads) driven by an account based marketing strategy. The LeadGnome team starts with a best-fit list of accounts – each account meets specific criteria (e.g., revenue, established email marketing program, use of marketing automation).
We then engage these accounts with a personalized, multi-channel approach to earn their business and create customer advocates. “
Ben Hindman (@bennydotevents) | CEO & Co-founder of Splash
Ben is CEO and co-founder of Splash, an event marketing platform that helps businesses and brands more effectively market through their events. In 2015 alone, Splash has powered 500,000+ events for brands ranging from Red Bull to the Pope.
And just like our digital campaigns, the key is to attack every one with a strategic, integrated marketing mindset: We create unique IRL experiences that attract the kinds of customers we want, set goals ahead of time, closely track our event CPA, and ensure that every RSVP is meticulously tracked through the sales funnel. To us, there’s no better form of direct marketing in existence.”
Thom VanHorn (@MrVanHorn) | VP of Demand Center at Acronis
Thom is a CMO of the Year Finalist, Social and Viral Media Hall of Fame member and Webby Award Official Honoree. Aside from being award winning, Thom is an innovative Global Marketing Executive with proven success driving demand generation, corporate communication, and sales and marketing programs for startups as well as Fortune 100 corporations.
“While generating leads is important, what we are focusing on is generating better quality leads and moving them through the pipeline. Doing so requires a combination of technology to validate lead info, metrics to show us what is and what isn’t working, and constant testing to determine the right mix of organic, social, and paid activities.”
Kylee Hall (@kyleehallb) | Sr. Director, Marketing at LeadSpace
Kylee is very experienced when it comes to marketing. She has 15 years of experience and holds a B.B.A. in Marketing from The College of William & Mary and an M.B.A. in Econometrics and Statistics and Marketing Management from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. Kylee’s experience spans from small start-ups to large enterprise companies.
“In general, it will be a strategic focus and simplifying our b2b marketing operations. Marketers can easily get caught up in the race to try out the latest technologies to generate more leads, but this leads to chaos when it comes to your marketing stack.
For 2016, we’re looking to focus our efforts on a few core technologies (including our own predictive analytics platform) to acquire leads and target those leads that have the greatest intent to buy.”
Flora Felisberto (@FloraFelisberto) | Sr. Manager, Marketing Programs & Operations at Perfecto Mobile
Flora is a demand gen marketer with a record of producing quantifiable results for high tech start-ups. She has extensive expertise in many topics, but specializes in lead gen, marketing automation, lead scoring and nurturing, and more. Flora previously worked for Mendix as the Demand Gen Manager, but recently took her new role at Perfecto Mobile.
“In 2016, we plan to generate leads using a true inbound strategy. The goal is to move away from traditional marketing channels like events and cold emails to an inbound strategy that includes SEO, persona-based marketing, content and tools that engage our target market.
Driving awareness by delivering valuable content usually generates top of the funnel leads that are nowhere near ready to buy. But the “hard sell” approach is a thing of the past. This means that nurturing becomes an essential part of the overall initiative.
So a key tactic will be the creation of better, more sophisticated nurture programs that leverage things like segmentation, lead stage and progressive profiling to make sure we’re driving leads through the funnel.”
Lisa Millette | Director, Web and Marketing Operations at DataGravity
Lisa has a lot of experience under her belt as a manager and director. Throughout her career, she has been marketing manager, manager, and she has held director positions since then. Lisa has great knowledge in her field.
““Much of our focus will be on generating and measuring content that will not only drive more awareness around DataGravity but also help us to understand our online audience better. Thought leadership in our space is essential.”
Diederik Martens (@diederikmartens) | Marketing Automation Manager at Quintiq
Diederik is a passionate revenue engineer and is mainly focused on Marketing Operations. It is his life goal to share everything he has absorbed in his field as autodidact, by speaking, teaching, coaching, or consulting. Diederik and Quintiq was also awarded the 2015 Killer Content Award at the B2B Content 2 Conversion conference in Arizona.
– Have more focus on expanding our reach within current target verticals;
– Implement stronger messaging which is better targeted and more contextual;
– Increase our data quality. Especially for supporting sales with named accounts;
– Decreasing the drop-out in our lead management process by even further aligning marketing and sales;
– Further improve our reporting capabilities.
The keyword in my opinion for 2016 is FOCUS!”
Michal Ferguson (@MichalNotMike) | Director of Inbound Marketing at Cloudlock
Michal has a ton of experience in the field of marketing. She has been a Marketing Manager three times for three different companies, was President at All in the Numbers Marketing, Inc., and is now a Director of Inbound Marketing. Michal pretty much does it all when it comes to marketing.
This year is all about expanding relevancy through blogs, eBooks, our own data-based industry reports, interesting and inspiring infographics — as well as nurturing our growing database. It’s going to be a good one!”
Rick Miller (@OptimizedMiller) | Vice President, Customer Insights at Networked Insights
As a member of Networked Insights’ leadership team, Rick helps guide corporate strategy and product development while managing an analytics team that provides cutting-edge brand and product research. Rick’s company is on the leading edge of marketing automation as it works with major brands to identify social trends to obtain real-time insights on customer behavior.
Pushing content through various social channels, building our followings, and rewarding them with premium information in exchange for moving them down the lead funnel will be key for us.
As a Marketo shop, we will be investing a fair amount of energy in lead tracking and improving the metrics that tell us if we are succeeding or not with our content.”
Derek Vansant | Vice President, Demand Generation at CircleBack
Derek first joined CircleBack as one of the original members of its B2B team. His passion has been applying a process-driven approach to building qualified sales pipeline and revenue for B2B technology companies for more than 15 years. Derek has delivered hundreds of millions in sales pipeline and record growth for some of the area’s fastest growing companies.
“I will make my bid for the most unsexy answer. My first priority is research. I literally want to identify all the best prospects in my market, whether that’s ten thousand people or hundreds of thousands. It’s a dirty, laborious, and boring job, but the information is out there if you are willing to put in the work.
I still leverage inbound marketing, but I’m not waiting for the world to come to me. I’m using great content and marketing automation to go outbound and start conversations with all my target prospects.”
Zak Pines (@MoneyballMktr) | Director, Marketing at Ipswitch, Inc.
Zak is a Moneyball Marketer, which he defines as a data-driven demand generation leader. Zak has his own blog, MoneyBall Marketer, where he writes posts about data-driven demand generation and marketing best practices. He has developed and leveraged marketing automation & analytics technologies since 1995 and have led the go-to-market of software-as-a-service solutions. Currently, Zak is a director of marketing.
“We’re laser focused on our inbound marketing machine to drive customer acquisition – starting with a steady stream of technical content, highly relevant to our very technical audience – and through to lead nurturing programs and close alignment with sales to maximize our MQI-to-MQL and MQL-Deal conversion rates.”
Matt Heinz (@HeinzMarketing) | President at Heinz Marketing Inc.
Matt has more than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes. He also has held various positions at companies such as Microsoft, Weber Shandwick, Boeing, The Seattle Mariners, Market Leader and Verdiem.
“In a word, it is content. My number one marketing focus is to create and distribute content that delights, teaches, empowers and mobilizes B2B sales & marketing professionals. If we do that right (a combination of choosing, publishing and distributing that content correctly), it will continue to be the foundation of our lead and sales pipeline engine.”
Pierce Ujjainwalla (@marketing_101) | Co-Founder of Knak
Pierce is currently the co-founder of Knak, responsive Marketo email & landing page templates made simple. He is also the founder and Principal Marketo consultant for Revenue Pulse. He is passionate about two major things: marketing and technology. Over the past six years, he has used his passion to help companies of all sizes reach their revenue and marketing goals through technology.
“Given that Knak is offering a new product to the market, we are most focused on improving our product in 2016. We believe that will be our biggest way to acquire new leads, as our existing users (over 20% of Marketo’s customers) promote us to their networks.
Referral programs in our app and regular Template Thursday communications will be how we get the word out about the easiest way to create better Marketo emails and landing pages.”
Josh is a highly motivated executive with a wide range of business and technical online experience. He is an experienced leader with an entrepreneurial style that achieves profitable results in the demanding online environment where both partners and customers strive to achieve the best deal. His specialties include: Entrepreneurship, New Business Launch, New Business Development, and much more.
“Our top marketing initiative to acquire leads in 2016 is a rock solid persona and market segment based content strategy. As buyers are getting more sophisticated and the lead lifecycle lengthening, simply putting content out in the industry and tracking engagement is no longer enough.
Catering the right level of information and education to the right persona and their stage in the buying cycle is what will take the leads we acquire through the sales funnel in a much more efficient and meaningful way.”
James Walsh | President and CEO at Baseball Prospectus LLC
James is prod president and CEO of Baseball Prospectus. Baseball Prospectus offers stats of all baseball players and the records of all of the teams. The website continuously posts blogs about player and team announcements and has an annual Baseball Prospectus book. James has himself a great business.
“One initiative is to redesign our materials with a clear simple design that reflect the beauty of other company redesigns scheduled for 2016.
Also provide potential sponsors with easy to consume package offers and attract leads, and introduce new clients to our brand with evergreen content that has been on the cutting edge of baseball analysis for the past 20 years.”
Daniel Gaugler (@dgaugler) | VP of Marketing at PrintingForLess.com
Daniel is a big marketing guy. He s a business-driven, entrepreneurial-minded marketer and has an extensive background in: marketing automation, integrated marketing programs, direct mail, search engine marketing, and more. Daniel’s mission is Creating innovative and fast paced teams who demand results.
“Customer success – More than just driving value recognition from our products and services, customer success is about helping our customers exceed their goals.
In 2016 we’ll achieve this by investing in content and services that not only helps customers before they buy but deploying that same playbook further down the funnel to drive more value.
We believe that customer success is a competitive advantage and helps feed every part of our funnel. From driving new leads through referrals, to collaborating with customers for better products, to creating customers for life. If our customers prosper, so will we.”
Megan Berry (@meg_rae_b) | Senior Demand Generation Manager at Virgin Pulse
Megan is the Senior Demand Generation Manager at Virgin Pulse, responsible for all digital, inbound, and outbound marketing programs. Born, raised and schooled in the Boston, MA area, Megan earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Bentley University. When she’s not at work, you can find her playing ultimate frisbee, or exploring her new passion for photography.
“Our top marketing initiative is to scale the middle of the funnel and implement strong lead nurturing programs.
The last two years, we’ve excelled at our top of the funnel strategies – we now need to focus on delivering content specifically to our personas that’s relevant and timely for them, so that they’re more inclined to meet with us based on the resources we’re giving them.”
Laura Maiurano (@lauramaiurano) | Field Marketing Director at Cellebrite
Laura is a highly motivated, proven leader with a passion for marketing. She has experience in digital marketing, brand marketing and event marketing with specialization in demand generation.
“My top marketing initiative to drive leads in 2016 is to use third party data providers to source net new leads. We are launching a new product that targets a new audience and need to build our database quickly.
To further qualify these new names, we will be partnering with inside sales to launch a qualifying call-down campaign. Once we have a solid handle on qualified titles, we can develop a multi-channel marketing campaign to further expand our new segment.”
Donna Furlan | Marketing Director, Specialty Channels at Interactive Health
Donna is a seasoned worker for health companies. She has perviously held positions Product Manager at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Director of Product Development and Director of Marketing at Meritain Health. Donna is a very valuable Marketing Director for the Interactive Health team.
“One of our top 2016 marketing initiatives is content marketing. Through development of insightful, relevant content that breaks through the clutter, we will not only provide interesting and educational information to our audience, but reinforce our position as thought-leader in the industry.
Marketing automation will assist us in targeting the right audience for this content and measuring effectiveness so that we can continue to provide both valuable and relevant content to them individually. These efforts will not only assist us in acquiring new leads, but nurturing existing leads that will ultimately result in new business.”
Jessica Falarski Cross (@JFayeSF) | Director of Audience Marketing at EverString
“As director of audience marketing for a predictive marketing company, my issue is no longer lead acquisition. With EverString I have the solution to identify all my target accounts and my target contacts within those accounts. The real issue then becomes activation, engagement, and acceleration of my audience. Hence my job title of director of audience marketing.”
Matthew Lord | Founder of EmailMarketingCopywriter.com
Matthew is a big believer in the copywriting formula, AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). As a marketing copywriter, he strives to to create remarkable email campaigns that nurture leads, increase sales, and reduce client turnover. Matthew is an expert in his field: email copywriting, and can gain any business more business.
“My marketing strategy to increase leads in 2016 is going to be focused on creating content that solves the problems my buyer personas face everyday (highly targeted, niche content), and also continuing to optimize my paid media strategy which brings in highly qualified leads as well.
That approach has worked quite well, so I’m not revamping anything or drastically changing course, I’m just going to do more of what works.
One thing I plan on improving in 2016 is tracking the source of each lead. That is where I’m currently falling short, and I plan on implementing measures to solve this problem.”
Jeff Coveney (@RevEngineMarket) | Founder at RevEngine Marketing
Jeff is an accomplished marketing expert with more than 20 years success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology organizations. Most recently, Coveney founded RevEngine Marketing, a marketing automation consulting firm that helps companies accelerate leads through the marketing funnel in a repeatable and measurable way.
In the coming year, we’ll focus on content that builds brand and educates. This helps engage our existing client base while demonstrating expertise to perspective clients.
Director of Marketing – Anonymous
“Trade Shows…”elephant hunting” – going after key accounts with a ABM strategy and multi-touch campaigns”
U.S. Marketing Manager – Anonymous
“In general, it will be a strategic focus and simplifying our b2b marketing operations. Marketers can easily get caught up in the race to try out the latest technologies to generate more leads, but this leads to chaos when it comes to your marketing stack. For 2016, we’re looking to focus our efforts on a few core technologies (including our own predictive analytics platform) to acquire leads and target those leads that have the greatest intent to buy.”
What do You Think?
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