I feel a bit sheepish writing this, but I’ve had so many friends and colleagues (including the Xerox CEO!) contact me about this award that I wanted to take the opportunity to offer my thanks and share the news.
On June 13, in its inaugural Top Digital Marketers special report, BtoB magazine recognized 25 B2B marketers doing “exceptional” interactive work. If you look through the list at the bottom, you will see my name. BtoB explains, “The winners were selected by BtoB staff, based on criteria including strong interactive vision and strategy as part of their overall marketing efforts; innovative use of digital technologies; and proven results.” Wow, that’s quite an honor! And one I would like to share with my team and coworkers because I am never alone in these endeavors.
Here’s how I see it: Digital marketing is an essential part of any marketing program today – it should never stand alone. As buyers take more cues from online content, community, and experts, marketers can no longer depend on “interruption marketing” — tactics that try to get in front of prospective customers regardless of the prospect’s level of interest or qualification. B2B marketers must engage with potential buyers, determine their interests, and share useful, relevant information if they want to excel online. Here’s an example of how our industry marketing team approaches digital marketing to illustrate how we translate this perspective into practice.
Earlier this year, we decided to host a webinar featuring a well-recognized vertical industry expert. For those of you who know Ellen Carney, senior analyst at Forrester Research, she is one of the bright lights among the property, casualty, annuity, and life insurance industry luminaries. (And, yes, I adored working with her while at Forrester, so there’s my bias out in the open.) Our goal was to build Xerox Service’s reputation in the insurance industry, demonstrate a thought-leading point of view, and attract prospects to our story.
To do this, we wanted to produce fresh, interesting content that we could repurpose in different ways to drive traffic and interest. Now, to be honest, Forrester is not the cheapest resource with which to partner on this, so we wanted to make sure that the Webinar lived beyond its broadcast date. Here are a few highlights detailing where we focused our effort:
1) Relevance. We learned Ellen planned to publish a new report (not yet available on Forrester’s site) about the key trends shaping the future of the insurance industry. To associate ourselves subtly with what we expected to be ground-breaking research, we introduced Ellen to Gary Cole, who heads up our customer communications line of business for the insurance industry. Ellen liked Gary’s perspectives and decided to interview him to help provide background for her report.
2) Podcasts/audio files generate content — quickly. We didn’t want to spend a lot of time writing, reviewing, and rewriting new content. Leading up to the webinar, we asked Ellen to talk to Gary about her findings. With Forrester’s consent (and — full disclosure — hired advice) we recorded and published three separate snippets of a Q&A conversation between the two of them, and featured each podcast in a separate blog post. You can find them here:
Insurance 2020, Insuring Against a Hole-In-One and Other Calamities, Going Green, Big Brother Evolves into a Risk Manager, and National Dog Bite Prevention Week: CA Tops National Liability List. We started promoting the Webinar in the fourth and fifth post in this series; we didn’t lead with it. We tried to use catchy, off-beat topics to grab attention. We also tried to steer away from Xerox-centric language — this had to be about the industry, not us.
3) Highly targeted contact list. This is probably the most important part. We market and sell managed print services contracts valued at multiple millions of dollars and spanning 5 years or more. There is a rather short list of companies that would be interested in this type of outsourced service. Knowing existing customer profiles, we crafted a list of specific accounts from which we generated a refined list of over 5000 contacts using internal databases and external sources. To B2C folks, this may not sound like many, but for us, this was significant. While we welcome anyone interested in the future of the insurance industry to attend, we wanted to make sure that key folks at companies — like Allstate, the Hartford, New York Life, Prudential, State Farm, Travelers, USAA, and others — had the opportunity to hear from Xerox about Ellen’s new research.
4) Industry-specific landing page. Nothing fancy, but we wanted one destination to focus our blog and outreach efforts toward that would also serve to tell interested parties a bit more about what we have to offer. This way we could focus the Webinar content on what is interesting to clients and minimize the sales pitch from Xerox. It was also vital to record the event (again with Forrester’s paid permission) and make it available as a resource to those who couldn’t attend live.
5) A personal touch. We reached out to friends, fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We answered every email inquiry promptly. We sent personal emails to people we knew in the industry and promised to minimize the promotional content. We sent a reminder 30 minutes before the broadcast so that registrants didn’t have to dig through their email to find the links. We crafted separate thank-you notes for attendees and “sorry we missed you” messages for those who couldn’t make it. We made the replay available to everyone and encouraged them to share.
As a result, this Webinar enjoyed an 80% attendance rate against registrations. I don’t know about you, but — while at Forrester — I was thrilled to get 30% or more of the registrants to attend Webinars. 50% attendance is exceptional and 80% is out of this world! Also, this was the second highest attended industry-specific Webinar my team conducted so far. (So, for those cynics out there, 80% does not mean 4 out of only 5 individuals attended. We had many more than that participate.) We also generated three “leads” prior to the event — people interested in knowing more — as well as many requests wanting to see if the event would be recorded so they could access it on-demand.
What’s next? Measurement and tracking. We will enter attendee information into our database and track influence the influence of this Webinar and digital content against new opportunities and pipeline. We will extract key questions, quotes, and other tidbits from the Webinar and use those content chunks to promote the replay. We will create customizable emails — featuring content elements and key talking points from Ellen’s research — for our sales people to use to follow up directly, and personally, with clients using our Business Builder tool. And we will do more – but I can’t give away all my secrets!
While the BtoB award is so appreciated, I hope in sharing this, you can get a glimpse into some of the activity that creates fundamental, straight-forward digital marketing. And I also hope to remain worthy of the recognition. Thank you again BtoB!