Setting up closed loop reporting allows you to track your key marketing and sales metrics in order to identify what marketing programs are contributing to leads, opportunities and sales. The reporting system consists of two main components: marketing software, for lead generation and advanced analytics, and a CRM (customer relationship management) system, to track and measure sales activities.
When a marketing software platform and CRM system are integrated, the two are able to share data from every lead, beginning with the original source of the lead and ending with the close. This enables you to develop reports showing close rates and new customers from leads generated through marketing. For this reason, many marketing software platforms are automatically integrated with popular CRM systems.
Your closed-loop reporting system should also feature:
- Automatic, two-way synchronization between the marketing platform and CRM.
- De-duplication of leads that allow you to update existing lead records.
- The capability to pull information from your CRM system into your marketing platform to allow you to segment leads.
Sharing Information When Setting Up Closed Loop Reporting
Sharing information between the two platforms is beneficial for both your marketing and your sales team. For instance, sharing complete lead intelligence, including the history of leads’ activity, helps sales reps to plan their follow up strategies and find hooks to begin their first conversations. In addition, marketing software can provide lead alerts whenever hot leads revisit your website, respond to a campaign, or take any other trigger action.
Equally, sales should share data with marketing including contact touches (records of email and call attempts or connects), lead status updates, and revenue numbers, such as data on closed deals and the revenue linked with to each contact.
Utilizing Closed Loop Reporting to Identify Top Marketing Channels
By setting up closed-loop reporting, you are able to track marketing programs and determine which are the most effective by examining metrics including:
- Number of visits per channel
- Leads per channel
- Visit to lead ratios per channel
- Lead to customer ratios per channel
You can't manage what you can't measure. Closed-loop reporting provides executives with the actionable information needed to make sales and marketing investment decisions which can drive predictable and profitable revenue growth.
Successful Smarketing requires your sales and marketing team to work together by using the same definitions and sharing the same goals. One important aspect in this regard is developing a unified picture of the funnel including the terminology you use for each stage.
How to Define Your Funnel Stages
One of the easiest ways to define funnel stages is to adopt a common terminology such as the following:
- Leads (or Information qualified leads)
- Marketing qualified leads
- Sales qualified leads
How to Define Your Funnel Stages: Marketing Qualified Leads
Your next challenge is to build a definition of marketing qualified leads (MQLs). This is an important stage in the funnel as it is the point where the marketing team may transfer leads to the sales department or other actions may be required. Your definition of a marketing qualified lead will be specific to your company, but it must encompass two elements. Leads must:
- Be a good fit. Leads that meet his criteria will closely match the profile of your ideal customer.
- Be interested. Activity that suggests interest can include requesting further information, downloading ebooks, and attending webinars. In contrast, a single visit to your website or recent subscription to a newsletter does not indicate strong interest.
If leads meet both criteria, they are hot and require followup from your sales team within 24 hours. In other cases, you need to take a different course of action; for instance, leads that are a good fit but not yet highly engaged should remain with your marketing team for nurture. Leads that are very interested but not a good fit, on the other hand, are usually worth passing to a sales rep for a low-cost followup. Finally, those that meet neither criterium are a waste of team and best removed from your communication stream.
Defining Your Company’s MQLs
The last stage is to arrive at a definite description of MQLs that fits your company’s needs by considering the following:
- The behavioral history of recent customers such as the average number of actions they take before becoming a customer.
- Patterns indicating the closing of a lead.
- The close rate for activities a lead can take before becoming a customer.
MQLs are leads who are both a good fit and match the patterns of recent customers, particularly engaging in activities with high average close rates.
An interesting question and one that has significant impact on your company's ability to grow. The Web offers extensive opportunities to grow your business but it isn't magic, it is a tool. Like all tools you have to understand how it works and use it with skill to get the desired results. Most BtoB companies have a website and have made an effort to attract prospective customers to their site. This will undoubtedly bring traffic and new sales prospects but it is only part of the solution. When a prospective customer finds your company through search engines they generally are evaluating several companies and their solutions. They already have a perception of their problem and the criteria for solving it. In addition to the sales prospects generated by search engines your company needs sales prospects that are searching specifically for your company. When a prospective customer intentionally searches for your company they do so because they already have a positive disposition towards your company's expertise.
Market leading expertise can best be demonstrated through being articulate on the customer's problems and offering value added solutions. Your company's challenge is how to demonstrate its expertise on the Web with potential customers your company has never met. Blogging is a proven method of establishing expertise on the Web and yet a recent study shows only 40% of companies have embarked upon a blogging program.
Prospective customers respond to additional insights to their problems and to their problem resolution strategy. The key to effective blogging, therefore, is value added content and a frequent Web blogging presence. If your blogs provide a prospective customer with additional perspectives on their problem and enhances their criteria for problem resolution, they will seek your company for a solution. By positively influencing the resolution criteria of potential customers your company substantially improves its position to obtain new customers and provide customer satisfaction.
The study also revealed that BtoB companies that blogged got 67% more leads than companies that didn't.
When target customers are ready to buy, do they consider your company? This is a key question for any business. A reasonable resolution to this question is critical for BtoB companies who serve a defined target market. Most companies do not have a good handle on the answer because they don't know what they don't know. The first step in solving this quandary is to think customer and not your company. Let's start with several key facts we know about BtoB customers:
- Customers buy solutions to their problems and challenges and not products and services.
- Customers buy from companies that understand their problems, show expertise in the customers field and deliver quality. The best value for the investment.
- Customers today do their pre-buying research on the Web.
- The customer is like a sponge, they absorb every contact with your company which forms their overall perception of your company. Unfortunately they hardly ever give much feedback on their conclusions.
With these facts as a foundation, there are several questions a company must address if it is to grow sales in today's environment.
- When potential customers are in the pre-buying mode and doing research on the Web do they find your company?
- If they find your company, what perception do they form? Does it give them the feeling of dealing with an expert or just a sales pitch.
- When they have completed their research, what is the compelling reason for the customer to contact your company over the competition?
To fully address all of these questions requires a synergistic Inbound Marketing implementation. Let's start, however, with focusing on one key element of such an implementation, building your company's credibility as an expert in its respective market.
The quickest and proven way to establish expertise credibility on the Web is by effective blogging. The blog focuses on customer problems and respective business solutions, not your company's specific products or services. With frequent relevant blogging, the potential customer begins to look to your company for ideas and generic solutions. This continual demonstration of understanding the customer's problems builds confidence that your products and services are a valuable solution. This creates both a following of potential customers and establishes the customer's positive perception of your company's expertise. It provides a means for your customers to find you throught the search engines. It is also an excellent way for your company to realistically test your company's internal ability to effectively talk about the market and the customer problems you are addressing.
Surprisingly, when asked to give the topics and basis for blog writing, far too many companies do an inadequate job. Unfortunately this does not speak well of the company's ability to speak to their customer's problems and the compelling reason for potential customers to buy from them. Why is this important? If customers don't feel you understand their problems they will migrate to a vendor that they perceive does. To understand the impact of effective blogging let's look at the results of a HubSpot study of 4000 companies.
- Businesses that blogged just 16 to 20 times per month got 3 times more leads than those who didn't blog.
- Those who blogged at least 20 times per month saw nearly 4 times more leads than those who didn't blog.
- Those who blogged at least 20 times per month had 5 times more traffic than those who blogged less than 4 times per month.
- Businesses with over 200 total blog articles got 3.5 more leads than those with under 20 blog posts.
If your company is doing less than 16 blogs a month or not blogging at all a new blogging strategy is advisable.
For more strategic and tactical recommendations on how to blog for your business, you can download the ebook below.
Below is a short video from Matt Cutts at Google talking about the importance of body content. Many SEOs, especially in the "old days" put most of their emphasis on the "Head" of the document such as:
- Meta description
- Meta keywords
- Page titles
However, as discussed in the video if the body content doesn't match the head, then Google is not likely to show your content.
Watch the video here:
The benefits of having a Google + business page are huge. Besides the fact that there are millions of users that you can reach, Google + makes it easier for you to market your business. This is because your marketing efforts on Google + can directly influence your search ranking on Google. What does this mean? It means that having a Google + business page provides your company with a win-win situation! The following are 3 ways that the use of Google + changes search marketing on Google:
- Posting to the public on Google + - Whenever you post anything on your Google+ page, whether its text, images, videos or links, Google will index them. This means that the content you have posted will appear higher on Google’s search engine ranking for individuals doing related searches that are Google + members. For non Google+ members, this content may not be ranked as highly. But this means that the more people connect with you via Google +, the more people will find your content via Google’s search engine.
- Sharing links – Google loves quality links. This means that when you share a link on Google +, whether it’s a link to your blog or a link to your website, you can help to increase its search ranking. This is because whenever you share a link, Google + users can add comments, share or +1 the link, which helps to add to the link’s authority – thereby helping to increase the link’s search ranking.
- Linking your Google + business page with your website – The more you link your website with your Google + business page, the higher it will rank on Google’s search results. You should install a Google + Badge on your website to ensure that both visitors and Google itself know that the Google + business page is yours, helping to provide your site with the level of authenticity many sites don’t have. You should also add your website to your Google + page profile in order to help tell Google where your website is. By linking one to the other and vice versa, you’ll improve your experience and ranking on Google itself.
These are three ways that Google+ can change your search marketing. These are huge benefits, so be sure to set up a Google + business page for your company if you haven’t already.
If you’re not using Google + for business yet, you should be. Google + has millions of users, making it the perfect platform to increase brand awareness and loyalty. Not to mention that its run by Google, arguably the largest and most important search engine on the Internet, which means that properly using Google + could help you SEO strategy. One of the features that you should use if you use Google + for business is the Google +1 button.
What is the Google +1 button?
The Google +1 button works in the same way as the Like button that Facebook provides and the Share button provided by Twitter. Basically, whenever you release content on your website, such as on your blog, you can add the Google +1 button somewhere on the page. This allows people that read your content to share it on their Google + pages with just a click of the button. This has a number of benefits. First of all, the more +1 clicks that you get, the better you score on Google’s search ranking algorithm. Secondly, when someone shares a piece of your content on Google +, everyone in their social circle will be able to see and read your content – they can even re-share it. This helps to drastically improve your brand awareness and could even draw in more traffic to your website or gain you more fans on your Google + business page. Of course, much of this depends on the quality of your content as well. Here's a brief video about the +1 feature:
How do you implement the Google +1 button?
First of all, remember that your website’s visitors will only be able to use the Google +1 button if they themselves have Google + accounts. Now, adding a Google +1 button to your content is relatively easy. All you have to do is go to the Google +1 page where you can simply click on the link “Get the Code.” You’ll then be given the option to customize your Google +1 button. There are four different sizes to choose from that include small, standard, medium and tall. You’re also given annotation, width and language options. Once you fill that out, a box will supply you with the code to paste into your website.
If you want to know more about using Google+ for Business...download our free guide below:
Google + is often considered Google’s answer to the social media giant, Facebook. Unfortunately, many people look at Google + as an inferior platform, even though it has millions and millions of users. However, Google + is actually an excellent social network that has a lot of benefits and advantages that other social sites do not have. In fact, if you don’t have Google + for business, then you should. Google + provides companies with a huge amount of ways to increase brand awareness and loyalty. The following are a few reasons why Google + for business is an absolute must:
- Integration – Google has a number of other platforms and services that benefit the business community, which means that Google + offers the best integration of all of these services. For example, you can seamlessly integrate Google’s search engine, YouTube and Gmail with your Google + page.
- Google + Circles – Circles is an incredible feature for businesses. Basically, everytime you add a contact on Google +, you’ll be able to add them to a circle, such as a co-worker circle, a friends circle, a family circle and so on. This type of sub-categorizing is perfect for a business. This is because you’ll be able to share content tailored to specific circles. For example, if you run a pet food company, then an article about cats isn’t going to be relevant to all of your followers since many of your followers probably have different pets. With Google +, you’ll be able to designate cat owners into one circle, dog owners into another and so on. This allows you to share your content about cats only with your circle of cat owner fans.
- Google + Hangout – Hangout is another great feature that is very similar to a webinar. Hangout is a free video chat platform that lets you hold video chats with an unlimited amount of people from your Google + for business account. Not only can you broadcast in real time, you can also save it to your YouTube channel. Hangout is a great way to engage with your consumers by holding Q and A sessions or by unveiling new products or services.
Google + Circles, Hangout and easy integration are all reasons why you should be jumping on the Google + bandwagon in order to promote your brand and engage with your consumers.
Out of all the available social networks, Google+ used to be perceived as a lesser option for most. This, however, is simply not true. It is worth having a presence on Google +, especially if you are promoting a business. There are, after all, over 40 million active members on Google +. Not to mention that because it’s run by Google, having a business page on Google + will help you to achieve better search results through Google. So if you haven’t already, set up a Google + business page, the following are a few tips to help you get started:
- Setting up an account – First of all, in order to set up a business page on Google +, you’ll have to open a personal account. You can do this by setting up a gmail address for multiple members of your marketing team. Once you have a personal account, you’ll be able to set up your business page.
- Setting up your business page – Go to the create a page category on your Google + account. You’ll be able to classify your page from a number of options that include “Local Business or Place,” “Product or Brand,” “Company, Institution or Organization,” “Arts, Entertainment or Sports,” or “Other.” Once you make your selection, you’ll want to fill in all the basic information, such as your company name, your company’s website URL, and your company’s industry.
- Customize your business page – Once the basics are out of the way, you can customize your business page by adding a tagline and uploading a profile photo, such as your company logo.
- Promoting your business page – Before you begin promoting your page, share a few posts first. Add some valuable content and links so that when you begin promoting your page, visitors won’t end up on a business page with nothing of value on it. Begin by having team members and employees become fans of your page. Ask customers and partners as well. Make sure that you have links to your Google + page available on your website as well as on your blog, so that readers can easily share your content on their personal Google + profiles.
Want more tips? Download our free guide below:
Goals are powerful. They motivate us, keep us accountable and always push us to get better. However, many people set goals that arent' realistic or measureable.
Try using the SMART goals framework for setting more effective goals for yourself and your business.
SMART is an acronym standing for:
- Specific - target a specific outcome for achievement
- Measurable - make sure you can measure whether or not you acheived your goal.
- Attainable - Lofty goals can be motivating until they never get achieved. Make sure goals are attainable. If they are not realistic, you may have to "chunk them down" into smaller goals.
- Relevant - Does the goal relate back to the overall end goal
- Timebound - When is the goal going to be achieved?
For marketers, it might be useful to categorize your goals in either (Visits, Leads or Customers).
Increase website visits by 50% (from 5000 to 7500) by August 31, 2014.
Now that you have a solid framework for setting goals, go ahead and set some. If you are using HubSpot, you can now set goals directly in the system.
Another useful goal-setting tool in HubSpot is the benchmark feature. While setting goals, you can use this information to determine how realistic and attainable your SMART goals might be. The example below shows the key metrics from over 7000 HubSpot customers, including visits, leads and customers of your business and that of the median and top 50% of all HubSpot customers.
If you found this information useful, download the entire Inbound Marketing Checklist for Runningn an Inbound Marketing Campaign.