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The Ecommerce industry is growing at a rapid pace across the world. As per the stats shared by GlobeNewswire, the global B2C e-commerce market is anticipated to reach USD 7,724.8 billion by 2025. Not only the big companies even the small eCommerce companies serving in the local town and cities are growing at an unprecedented rate. The rise of m-commerce and social commerce has helped the small companies to grow at a faster rate.

 

Considering the growth of big and small ecommerce companies, investment in the ecommerce industry seems to be a profitable idea. However, starting an online ecommerce business is not a cake walk. If you are assuming that today you will set up an online store and from the next day sales started flowing, believe me, it is not going to happen in the competitive ecommerce industry. There are the number of things that you need to consider before starting an online ecommerce business. For example:

 

  • Your Business Niche: The dream of running a successful ecommerce business starts with choosing the right niche. Validate your business plan and do the market research before you launch it.
  • Ecommerce Technology Platform: Choose a technology platform that helps your business to grow further on the web. Evaluate an ecommerce platform on certain parameters like responsive design, multiple payment options, scope of customization, and such.
  • Marketing Goals: You must set the budget for marketing to match your business pace with the competitors.

 

So, here in this post, I am sharing the list of trending online ecommerce business ideas which you can consider to start right away. These business ideas are flourishing at a good pace and have the potential to go mainstream a few years down the line.

 

Start a Multi-vendor Ecommerce Store like Amazon, Flipkart: People have become quite accustomed to buying things online these days. With the success of multi-vendor marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Alibaba, investors or aspiring entrepreneurs have realized the benefits of starting an online marketplace. You can launch an online multi-seller marketplace similar to Amazon, FlipKart with a readymade technology solution like the YoKart. YoKart is a premium and world-class ecommerce platform to launch a multi-vendor website or mobile app.

 

Launch an Online Food Ordering & Delivery Marketplace: Online food ordering and delivery industry is growing at CAGR of 11%. The online food delivery companies like Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc has changed the face of online food ordering industry. Though these companies are dealing at global level, you can start your online food ordering marketplace in a local city or town to earn high profits. How to start, read this in-depth post: Online Food Ordering Marketplace: What Makes It a Good Business Idea & Future Opportunities 

 

Online Grocery Business Idea: According to a survey, the numbers of online grocers are increasing with a 3x rate on a year-to-year basis and the whole sector is growing at an impressive annual rate of 11%. So, for any brick & mortar, going online does seem to be the obvious logical step to take the business to the next level. To start an online grocery business, watch this video: Guide to Start an Online Grocery Business

 

Travel Activity Business Idea: The travel industry underwent radical change with the launch of online travel booking portals. Today travelers look for a one-stop solution, where they can find out about local activities & attractions and book them in advance to have a comfortable, hassle-free, and memorable vacation. So, start a travel activity marketplace with a ready to launch solution like FunAway, where your customers can book travel activities easily.

 

Start an Online Rental Marketplace: The trend of ‘renting over buying’ is changing the face of re-commerce industry, which is reflected in the fact that more than $1 billion has been invested in online rental startups, within last 5 years. While Transportation & Fashion are two sectors for which rental websites are particularly popular among investors, rental marketplaces for appliances, equipment, gears, etc. aren’t too far behind. Read this post on Entrepreneur India to know, all the ins & outs of online rental marketplaces: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/292429

 

Post Originally Published at here: The Online Ecommerce Businesses that You Can Launch Right Away 

Every day, all of us are bombarded with marketing messages on hoardings, print media, SMS, mail, TV and phone calls that are of no relevance to us and are in fact a nuisance. Google ads make a lame attempt at personalization but are actually an equal nuisance. Personalized messaging based on customer preferences is the holy grail for marketing professionals. Modeling customer preferences and predicting customer behavior are therefore important use cases for AI and should be of great interest to marketing professionals.

 

Recently I tried working on the marketing use case published on the the IBM Watson blog  at https://www.ibm.com/communities/analytics/watson-analytics-blog/predictive-insights-in-the-telco-customer-churn-data-set/ with my preferred Machine Learning tool TFLearn (http://tflearn.org/ ) and I got good results. I would like to encourage all marketing professionals to try cracking this use case on their own. This will motivate you to start thinking of Machine Learning use cases that can enable you to reach out to your customers in a more personalized manner

.

If you need a little help to get you stated on your journey to learn Machine Learning, I will be happy to conduct a workshop for your team. Please mail me at sudhir_kumar_gupta@yahoo.com if you are interested.

It is a no-brainer that both content and a target_list are crucial elements of a campaign. There are many ways to ‘mix and match’ these elements for desired results. Some companies bet on a ‘content_first' approach. But there are others who stand by a ‘target_first' strategy. There is no right or wrong way in doing this. But definitely, there is a ‘better’ way - and it can be easily derived from your campaign objectives. Here are my views on both approaches. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.

 

Content First Approach:

For most innovation-driven organizations, developing solutions comes first. market_scoping and market sizing may follow instead of preceding it. In such cases, the aim would be to promote the solution / product to the target market as much as they could. So, content creation across various formats takes the driver’s seat for campaigns. Depending on how targets react to content, lead nurturing is planned and executed. This approach is also used for ‘spray and pray’ awareness campaigns.  

 

Pros:

  • Can reach wider audiences since content is generalized
  • The number of assets needed for the campaign may be less when compared to a target first approach
  • Campaign execution is simpler due to a lower number of messaging streams

Cons:

 

Target First Approach:

For some organizations, quick wins are of utmost importance. They cannot afford to wait for conversions to happen at its own pace. And they may want to capture all their low hanging fruits as effectively as they can with minimal touch. In such cases, organizations first define their targets and acquire as much intel as they can about them. This may include their current state of business, buying journey, personas involved, available budgets and expiring projects. Interestingly, this is the most crucial effort as the impact of the content, and the campaign itself, is dependent on this intel. The marketing team creates multiple messaging_streams for different types of target profiles. As a result, the targets receive customized content - which better resonates with them. This considerably improves the success rate of the campaigns by delivering higher conversions and better quality leads. I suppose these are the very reasons that make this approach a 'favorite' for deal / account based marketers.

 

Pros:

  • Resonating content potentially delivers better conversions
  • Significantly accelerates sales cycles
  • Quality of leads is much higher
  • Paves way for the sales team to approach the prospects with better intel

Cons:

  • Target intel is crucial for success. If intel is insufficient/inaccurate, campaign will fail
  • Larger the target audience list, more the asset creation effort. When account-level-customization is considered, this gets even more cumbersome to manage
  • Cost of content creation may be high if it is not managed well
  • Reach may be limited to a select number of targets
  • Campaign management is challenging due to the complexities involved in managing multiple sub-campaigns

 

After all, this boils down to ‘reach’ vs ‘impact’ - shallow and wide as opposed to narrow and deep. Honestly, that’s a call that you have to take based on your campaign strategies and your execution capabilities.

 

But, thinking out loud, making a wide and deep cut is not an impossible task.

 

After all, you just need a starting point – the thought that this is possible and the intention to make it happen

 

Ganeshkumar S

Sheelu Vallabh

For most people, sharing their email address is as concerning as changing their kids’ diapers every hour - thanks to the Toms, Dicks and Harrys of the world who spam your mailboxes at the drop of a hat. In today’s context of ‘many mails, nothing sails’, seeing even a thousand ‘unreads’ doesn’t matter. For some, unread mails is still a sore sight – they clean their inbox frequently for their own reasons. The point to note here is that – if the mails that you are writing are not effective, they will be eternally left unread, ‘read-and-forgotten’, deleted or better yet, junked. Now imagine the plight of digital marketing experts who use email marketing as a primary tactic to reach their targets!

 Here are the 5 most common email characteristics that Toms, Dicks and Harrys swear by to spam their way to their targets’ inbox or better yet, be permanently blocked.

Meet Sp@mLooper, the Bot that Will Spam Scammers Back for YouImage Source: Tripwire

 

Caution: Please do not read the links provided in these pointers – they may make you write better and more effective emails!!!

 

1. You forgot to knock the door!

  • Unsolicited emails that are not welcome is the first trap for filters. For instance, Tom sent an email about new offers to an acquaintance whom he’s just met once at an event. Of course, the acquaintance won’t think twice to block him now.

Additional Read: Watch out #GDPR is not far

 

2. Why is Mr. Obama sending me a coupon?

  • Senders’ name and IP matters – this is the first thing that people read. If the recipient sees an unrecognizable or creepy name, that’s a sure shot way to be spammed.

 From - an article

  • Subject line is the next most important aspect of an email. Write something like ‘Hey Recipient’ or ‘Free Flowers for every purchases’ and your objective of getting spammed will become real.

InfoGraphic: Subject Lines Matter

 

3. Oh! I’d rather read nursery rhymes a hundred times

  • There are two ways to drive your audience to death! When the recipient opens Dick’s mail but finds boring and non-engaging content, you stand a chance to deliver a good blow. But when you send incorrect and irrelevant content, it’s a sure shot killer.

A Relevant Link

 

4. Excuse me Mr. Trigger Happy sender

  • Too many emails is another guaranteed way of losing your game. On the contrary, with a low frequency, Harry just realized he lost the interest of his customer list. But yes, an imbalanced frequency can help your spam goals.

Balance Parlance

 

5. You are using me for practicing, are you?

  • Repeating campaign cycles is one of Tom’s favorite way of spamming targets. Tom sends the same set of emails and assets over and over again till his targets spam and block him. It may work for you too.

Refreshing Content

 

Disclosures:

  • My reflection of the practices listed here are based on market stats and reports that search engines helplessly and abundantly display.
  • The people referenced are real marketing professionals - of course, their names and gender are changed to Tom, Dick and Harry in this blog.
  • Of late, like many smart marketers, I have succumbed to ‘email marketing best practices’ and have lost the ability to spam and cannot write emails that will be left unread.
  • Sameer Murdeshwar helped fine tune this blog.

 

Ankush Garg is a Marketing professional with 16+ years of experience in B2B & B2C Digital marketing. He is currently Director Marketing at Pentaur and leads a team of consultants for Marketing Operations, Sales Operations, Demand Gen, Customer Success & Consulting - for Marketo and other clients.

 

You can ask questions on: 

  • Marketing Automation
  • B2B Marketing
  • Marketing Ops

You can ask questions till 29th, August and they will answered on 30th August. Please add your questions in the comment section below.

Engagement is the Key to Success on Social Media

Social media is no longer used solely for awareness but has also become a critical tool to generate leads. Through the effective use of social media, businesses can get more ROI from their marketing campaigns and activities as compared to traditional tactics such as email campaigns. A ‘sticky’ and memorable social media campaign has the potential to be viral! The best part about viral content on social media is that it is not limited to the platform that the campaign started from. If it has the potential of going viral, it can quickly spread across social media channels.

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. Plus a social media overreaction.

A good example would be the #ShotoniPhone campaign from Apple that relies on user-generated content to create memories that last! It gives a platform to customers to have their images be featured via billboards across the world. This campaign ensures that it’s solely based on the engagement of users from different backgrounds, with the single point of convergence being an iPhone. Considering Apple is a late adopter of social media and still, does not have a single tweet, still the campaign has been a major success. I checked the trend over the past one week (Aug 18 – Aug 24, 2018) and it had 2 million engagements, close to 50 thousand mentions and 20 thousand unique authors for the hashtag. On Twitter! 

 

This strategy is not limited to just consumer electronics companies. In fact, Maersk is a great example of using such a strategy in the B2B space. Maersk’s entire Instagram account is based on user-submitted photos. All they did was combine smartphone photography, shipping containers (believe it or not!), and the open sea. With just user submitted photos on their Instagram account, they have around 124k followers. Now that is one helluva strategy for a container shipping company.

Through email marketing, we attempt to create an individual connect with each email - through social media, we can connect with every person who likes, follows or comments for each post published .

 

Almost all businesses have social media handles. However, a majority of them have a presence just because they "need to be“. Many of them try to use social channels but fail to realize its true potential. The key as we can learn from Apple, is that it’s better to focus your efforts on a limited number of social media platforms. Utilize the rest of your efforts to listen to and engage your audience. Do not try to conquer all social media platforms as managing them all will only dilute your engagement levels. Remember to be social, not just do social.

 

I will expand on this topic in my next post. Stay tuned!

 

 

- Thanks to Sameer Murdeshwar and Sowmya Moni for their contribution to this blog post.

Engaging an agency, or in better words a marketing partner, for your marketing needs could make or break your business. Here are 4 must dos if you want a successful engagement with your marketing partner.  

  1. Think through your marketing goals
    • The best marketing goals are always complementary to business goals and sales goals. Depending on the focus areas, these goals may be more aligned to business objectives like brand building, perception improvement…etc., or aligned to sales goals like generating leads, nurturing leads, increasing pipeline, accelerating sales cycles, or a fine blend of both. Having absolute visibility on your marketing goals is super important.
    • The more the details on how to achieve this goal, the better would be the engagements and approach. For example, let us consider engaging an agency for execution of a defined marketing goal. And for this, let us hypothetically assume the following objective - “Achieve a 25% growth in the APAC pipeline through new logo acquisitions” – this could be a good goal to start with. However, further in-depth descriptions of the goal increases the chance to achieve better results – so, let us get more descriptive >> “Achieve a 25% growth in the APAC new logos pipeline through events, targeted email campaigns and social media brand building”.
  2. Define your scope of engagement
    • The next step is to clearly chalk out the steps involved in execution. Again, the more details we have in the marketing roadmap and timeline, the better it is. For instance, in our example, we may choose to participate in 3 events, run 2 half yearly campaigns and manage a year-long social media brand building engagement. When expanded further, this translates to tasks related to content creation, program management, campaign execution, reporting…etc.
    • It is crucial to explore in-house capabilities and their bandwidth to help execute the plan for maximum synergy and cost efficiencies. For instance, the in-house team may be capable of running campaigns but may not be ready to churn out customized content at the speed which the campaigns demand.
    • When these aspects of timelines, tasks, capabilities and availability are looked at in conjunction, it opens up an insightful view of the focus areas, in-house strengths and gaps that need to be filled.
    • Describing the working style of the team is also essential for assessing agency fitment when time is right.
    • Budget is another animal altogether. But necessary expenditures will have to be made for effective outcomes. If not, the only options we have would then be restricted to be to upskilling the team, cutting down the tasks on a lean model and/or increasing team size.
  3. Identify and evaluate agencies that can address your expectations - based on similar experiences and decide
    • If we have done the first two steps effectively, this step should be easy. Now we will know what kind of complementary support we would want to effectively execute our plans. Based on the requirements, a targeted search can be done to identify the first list of agencies. It is also a wise approach to ask your industry contacts for referrals and look through the top agencies listed in articles. However, their fitment with your working style will have to be explored and their work will have to be assessed in line with your specific expectations.
    • It doesn’t hurt to ask for their reference work. But given that there are many known and unknown players in the market with no clear visibility on their effectiveness, organizations evaluate the agencies through a pilot project before engaging them for their long-term programs. Based on my experience, this pilot engagement has delivered good results in the long term – both in terms of cost effectiveness and quality. It is recommended that you pilot with at least 3 agencies to steer of decision bias. Based on the deliverables, it gets much easier to shortlist the preferred agency. But the game doesn’t end there.
  4. Set expectations for the short listed agency
    • Its very common to stop at finalizing on the number of assets agencies should create or the kind of tasks that perform. But I would recommend a result based approach here.
    • To ensure effective results, it is always best to co-write the contract / SLA details in line with the expectations. Word of caution: Not all agencies may be OK with this approach because of the metrics included or at times, may charge an extra for the quality being delivered. But if marketing has to be driven by results than efforts, then this is the way to go. 

This 4 step approach has helped all the startups and small enterprises that I’ve supported not only to identify their marketing partner but also refine their marketing strategy in line with their business needs.

 

Feel free to share what worked best in your engagements.

 

Ganeshkumar S

A few weeks back, I was at a B2B marketing panel discussion – “So, what’s going to stick on the Marketing Dartboard?”. Content being one of the core elements of marketing it was obvious that it had to be discussed at length. One of my senior colleague in the panel, who is quite passionate about content marketing believed that the long copy is back in the business – that triggered this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts. Here’s what I think…

 

Until now, in content marketing we all believed that “less is more”. We are inundated with content across channels – social, blogging platforms, innovative content delivery apps and what not. This combined with the increasing attention deficit – “less is more” – still feels perfect.

 

Look at most of the B2B company websites and you’ll see flashy stock images (a few will haunt you as well), punchy headlines, phrases and just a few sentences as the copy – this is changing. There was a notion that no one reads pages and pages of content, instead everyone likes to surf through it, picks only nuggets which gave rise to the “snackable” content. So content marketers started coming up with just the nuggets and direct to lengthy documents as required (which they believed no one reads) – this notion is now proving to be false.

 

So what’s driving the long copy?

 

My senior colleague at the panel discussion gave the example of how everyone is flocking to Medium – an online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams (Twitter co-founder and former CEO). This platform was developed with an objective of publishing writings and documents longer than Twitter's 140-character maximum. Launched in 2012, currently it has over 60 million daily active users. According to this research, articles on medium with 6-7 minutes read time is the sweet spot which can get you 20% higher ‘claps’/recommends. 6-7 minutes of read time translates to ~ 1900 words. According to medium read time is based on average reading speed of an adult – roughly 275 WPM and they add 12 seconds for each inline image.

 

Before I go ahead and profess about what’s driving or why long copy, I must admit that, whether to use long or short copy solely depends on the content type and the channel you deploy it in. For example a whitepaper must be long enough to be credible while a social media message copy must be brief and catchy for it to be consumed on the go.

I believe there are three primary reasons that’s driving the long copy:

 

  • First and foremost: SEO – Every content marketer wants to expand their outreach and engage their target audience. Appearing high up in search engine results means more people have access to your content and will hopefully engage as well. My SEO expert friend tells me that to get Google’s attention (appear higher up in the searches) a web copy must have at least 2000 words – now that makes sense! With that additional copy you can always weave in the right keyword and phrases in your content with all the permutations and combinations that is hot as indicated by your SEO keyword tool.
  • Secondly, Depth – Longer but superficial content won’t get your audience engaged. Writing content that goes deeper into the topic and is substantiated with in-depth research fascinates your audience. There are different marketing writing models out there, the one I like and use the most is SCIPAB. If you use a content framework, I’m sure you’ll analyze the topic in different dimensions to convey the message holistically and therefore, will need the long copy. And of course this too has its SEO benefits, in addition to content length and right keywords, Google search results are ranked algorithmically based on many signals that look for high-quality, in-depth content.
  • Thirdly, Snackable Content Fatigue: Everyone today is constantly browsing and flipping through content without really going deeper into one topic – this leads to dissatisfaction and hunger to know more. I believe this is driving us towards the content that is fulfilling.

 

We’re seeing long form writing making a comeback and that is evident from the popularity of publishing platforms like Medium. Having said that, I believe short copy still has its place in the form of sponsored ads and social media that teases the audience richer and deeper content. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

 

Thanks a lot, Sowmya Moni for your valuable thoughts on this blog and an insightful discussion at the "...marketing dartboard" event.

Gamification has become an increasingly popular technique over the years, including in the B2B space as well. B2C marketers have derived great value from gamification to drive engagement levels with their consumers. NASSCOM Community Member - Sameer Murdeshwar, recently wrote a post on an overview of what Gamification is all about – it is a great read! While browsing through the NASSCOM community, I was pleasantly surprised to find real-time feasible working gamification models across the site. The NASSCOM Community strategists, administrators and moderators have done an excellent job planning these models to improve engagement across the community. 

Here are a few thoughts around how community leads may have come up with these gamification models – in a step-by-step approach.

  • Identify key engagement goals tied to the objectives of the community
    • Key engagement models depend on the results that each model delivers - For example, if the objective is to increase member interaction and foster networking, then an engagement model that incentivizes users to follow others, comment on articles, and contribute to discussions may be the right approach.
  • Assess if gamification is possible
    • Evaluating the feasibility can involve many steps that vary by the goals. But one of the key elements that drives gamification models is whether the objective is ‘measurable’. For instance, the number of members followed can easily be quantified – so, we can include that in gamification. But unless aspects like quality and usefulness of comments (akin to how helpful reviews are on e-commerce sites) is made measurable, it cannot be gamified.
  • Set the context of gamification for identified objectives in line with user analysis
    • For each objective, the circumstances under which it can be valid has been determined. It may be complemented by aspects related to circumstances under which the users engage such as type of frequency of interaction. For instance, a new user may be thrilled to just write a single comment while a veteran member would be more interested in moderating successful discussions in the community.
  • Design and build the gamification models in line with available engagement technologies and tools
    • This may have involved intense ideating sessions including brainstorming and focused group discussions to identify potential gamification designs in line with community goals, governing circumstances, user categories and gamification theories. Based on the outcomes of these sessions, prototypes may have been discussed taking into consideration UX, UI and technical constraints. For example, rewarding new users to log-in every day with the objective to influence engagement may have been one of the ideas. A web interface that supports these goals may have followed with measurable engagement models.
  • Improvise and fine-tune
    • Based on engagement metrics, the design and model would be continuously fine-tuned to maximize the impact of gamification. Currently, there is significant engagement occurring in the community with members awarded with points, badges and ranks for performing various tasks including blogging, commenting, responding and even following other members.

The continued success of the model depends on continuous innovation and improvisation, of course – I believe the team is already doing this to enhance our experience. I’d be stoked to connect with the core NASSCOM team to know more about how they achieved this level of Gamification and confirm my observations. Long way to go!

Operations !!

 

Sales Ops, Marketing Ops and Customer Success Ops

 

Sales and Marketing cannot be aligned without the (respective) Operations - Sales Ops, Marketing Ops & Customer success Ops teams being aligned.

 

In most companies, the Sales and Marketing teams seem to get the most attention, budgets and resources. For too long, they have worked in separate silos, with different priorities and KPI. Although they are the under-appreciated cogs in the corporate machine, Operations are the actual driving force to build a frame work to support the corporate mission to that deliver value, sales and profits.

 

Specifically, in the B2B SaaS marketing and sales world, sales and marketing alignment (aided by Ops) is necessary to:

 

  1. Maximise revenue & ROI
  2. Improve MQL and SQL quality (better lead scoring)
  3. Optimise marketing spend, content and engagement/performance by channel
  4. Have common goals / strategy approved by Executive team
  5. Improve customer NPS / CSAT scores
  6. Deliver better customer experience

 

Operations is the link between Sales and Marketing that allows alignment to happen.This Sales-Marketing alignment works ONLY and ONLY when the involved teams of Marketing Ops, Sales Ops and Customer Success Ops work together. 

 

So how do we define these Ops teams:

 

 Marketing Ops team – Mops focusses on evaluating marketing performance, strategic planning, selecting and implementing the right marketing technologies (stack). Mops team also makes sure the defined processes are running fine and campaigns reach their objectives.

 

Sales Ops team – Sales Ops creates, implements and optimizes the process, data and applications that support the sales team. They also help mould the base that feeds into Marketing, Finance and customer success.

Sales OPS can work with marketing team to fine tune brand messaging and content because sales ops team owns and has access to troves of prospect / customer behavioural data. Sales Ops team collaborates with marketing operations team to improve the ROI by helping prioritise quality of leads and sales productivity by nurturing prospects to customers.

 

Customer success Ops team –– CS Ops develops customer relationships that drive an emphasis on product adoption, encourage Renewals/Expansion, upsells, & cross-sells, generate customer advocacy, usage, reduce churn and increase CLTV. (Customer Lifetime value)

 

A new term – “Revenue Ops” has come up in the recent years.

 

Revenue Ops:  In a survey done by LeanData and Sales Hacker, more than 70% people defined Revenue Ops as an alignment of Sales, Marketing and Customer Success Ops. In some cases, Revenue Ops is merged with Sales Ops and led by the same Sops VP/Senior Exec.

 

Revenue Ops

Source: “State of Revenue Ops 2018: Survey of B2B Sales & Marketing Professionals” by LeanData and Sales Hacker

 

When these three operations teams are working together like clockwork, then higher marketing efficiency AND higher ROI is made possible. Revenue grows faster with higher margins, cost per qualified lead is lower and conversion rate and deal size is higher. Over time, this can evolve into ABM – Account based Marketing.

 

Some factors that can help with alignment are:

  • Common processes – Sales and Marketing teams using the correct systems and updating the correct fields at the correct time.
  • Common Metrics and Goals – Win rate, Sales Cycle, Deal Size, renewal/churn rate, Lead quality (MQL / SQL), etc.
  • Executive buy-in – Senior leadership, CXO / Executive team should agree to a common Strategy, Goals, Budgets and timelines.
  • Integrated Sales & Marketing systems – this typically allows data to flow bi-directionally between CRM and Marketing Automation system and different teams can access the same data for every prospect or customer.
  • Teams  – The correct skillsets for the respective teams  - a mix of IT knowhow, marketing mindset, analytics, detail orientation, etc.
  • Attribution -   When prospects become paying customers, attribution of the sale to the various touchpoints (across channels) that led to the sale is necessary.

 

So Operations is that secret sauce that makes and allows alignment to happen.

 

Fortunately, at Pentaur, we have all three Operations teams working with multiple clients – Marketing Ops, Sales Ops and Customer Success Ops.  This helps the teams work together and share best practices and wherever possible, we ensure that alignment does happen!

 

What are some of the other ways, alignment can happen?

 

Ankush Garg

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ankushgarg/

 

Originally posted on: LinkedIn

Sales & Marketing alignment does not work without … | LinkedIn 

 

sales and marketing #b2b marketing marketing ops sales & marketing alignment salesforce consulting marketo

Businesses, especially startups, need quick and early wins to sustain, invest and grow. A significant focus is placed on low hanging opportunities for such needs – these opportunities are typically characterized by high value, low acquisition / conversion cost and a shorter closure duration. For these very reasons, this is one of the favorite play fields in Growth Hacking.

 

When we try hunting for these low hanging opportunities, it is easy to lose track and take at all the wrong turns with the amount of information we are churning – often leading to nothing but frustrations and futile results. To beat that, here are 3 golden rules that we’ve learnt over the years that works wonders in identifying such valuable opportunities.

 

Identifying the right market space for quick wins

  • For every product or solution, the market scope is pretty vast – even if it is a niche solution. Also, gain insights on clients’ buying behavior, buying cycles and conversion triggers. A market research might provide a wealth of information on the market landscape and where we need to focus.
  • Here is an real-life example to relate better. One of my friends had this specially designed activity kit for kids to help sharpen their mental abilities. The initial scope of target market covered parents in Bangalore – of course, they were all ‘hard-sell’. We did a quick research and figured out that there is a segment in the market for easier penetration - it wasn’t the parents but particular schools that enabled students to explore such new models.

 

Amplify the ‘word of mouth’ effect in the target market

  • Often the fastest buyers are the ones that are convinced about your product-business fit. In majority of cases, such buyers are gained through word of mouth. This is where networking plays its super critical part. The more contacts you have, the more may be the influence on your target market. Running specific programs for increasing market influence and client referrals could be of great value here. Depending on the type of market that you are targeting, these programs could be based on product, delivery, offers…etc.
  • Let us relate this with my friend’s activity kit example. Now we started talking to a significant number schools, conducted various workshops and further shortlisted schools based on their interests in such activities. Some of the schools’ founders and leaders started taking these discussions to their circle which not only set the stage for our next steps but also brought in some immediate requests.

 

Targeted Marketing Campaigns will do wonders

  • Complementing your engagements with targeted marketing campaigns will maximize impact. Communicate product innovations, roadmaps, ideas and wins to your audience to gain their confidence and trust in your product and solution capabilities. It is of paramount importance to understand the cost of acquisition, nurturing and closure for a better cost-benefit analysis of your marketing campaigns.
  • Going back to our activity kit example, we now had a good list of hot targets with good opportunity value. We ran specific targeted campaigns focused on accelerating their buying journey including direct mailers, outdoor ads in strategic locations, social influencer campaigns and generic newsletters on kids’ mental development. The result was fabulous. Before we reached their doorstep, they knew who we were and what we offered. The discussion was purely on closing the sale rather than introducing the product or convincing them that this is good for kids.

 

This set of 3 golden rules will apply to most engagements. However, depending on the type of business environment you may have to consider different tactics and approaches. I'd recommend getting in touch with a growth hacking specialist to fine tune your engagements for better results. 

 

All said, it is important to note that such low hanging opportunities can only be a part of the pipeline and not the pipeline itself. A synergized sales and marketing effort would add much greater value to win such opportunities.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts on identifying low hanging opportunities for your business / organization.

Ganeshkumar S

Gamification has evolved beyond just another buzzword over the past few years, with its impact felt across education, business and our day-to-day lives. Its elements - levels, badges, and leaderboards, are frequently used in marketing and workplace sectors. Enterprises are no longer asking about whether it is worth applying it for their business and are now looking for ways to best leverage it to their advantage.

 

The concept is not new – even before structured phases of gamification were defined in the industry, gaming principles have been used by businesses for decades. A popular example would be the airline industry where leading players have been offering frequent flyer programs for added benefits to loyal customers. This has been replicated in other industries with the goal of increasing interaction and consumption that leads to a tangible benefit such as coupons, previews or discounts. Schools and offices apply it as well, where a sustained process of achievement ends in the form of a degree, bonus or promotion.

 

These examples, though mapped over many years, demonstrate elements of simple game design but lack features that can create a more engaging experience. Today’s enterprises are leveraging SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) as a perfect convergence of technologies to drive innovation and accelerate outcomes of their strategic goals. To drive interest and increase the potential of gamification, enterprises are molding their techniques based on fundamental principles founded on behavioral science, a recognition that games are a critical communication and entertainment medium, and an unwavering focus that places each customer at the center of their strategy.

 

For B2B marketers, gamification can be an important tool to achieve their goals, measure ROI on marketing investments, and enable sales to drive business growth. The following four applications are where B2B marketers are focusing on –

  • Driving online community engagement: A common technique would be to design a robust B2B brand community with the objective of increasing engagement. Employing a user-driven online community with simple reward mechanisms can help achieve this goal. Large enterprises, such as SAP, are building such interactive communities where employees, customers and partners network and motivate action while inspiring meaningful contributions and collaboration. This ecosystem helps increase the quantity of user-generated content, crowd-source their products’ enhancements, amplify their brands’ voice, and reduce support requests and costs.
  • Generating leads: This is one of the key challengers for marketers who heavily rely on inbound marketing. With the amount of content being generated across multiple platforms, getting eyeballs to react to a brand’s message and convert passive interest into meaningful and actionable leads can be challenging. Companies are thinking beyond the standard “please fill in this form” routine to capture readers’ information and give them access to content. They are also thinking of developing personalized customer facing messaging and content by tracking customers’ content consumption trend to a reward, such as a personalized webinar, invite to an event, or access to a trial version of a new software. IBM’s Innov8 is one such example where users are encouraged to solve real-world problems through a free game that can be accessed after a sign-up.
  • Incentivize sales: Gamification can be used to motivate sales teams beyond traditional financial incentives. Competitiveness is a crucial component to sales success and gamifying this can only increase the impact on revenues. Setting up a leaderboard with regular recognitions for top performers, and promoting internal trainings can act as incentives for sales teams to drive win rates, and increase employee engagement.
  • Improving customer experience: This is a little more complex and goes beyond badges and recognitions. Designing a better customer experience requires an in-depth analysis of the customer base to determine whether individual touch points or entire sections need to be gamified. Key touchpoints can include an immersive product exploration on the company’s website, a deep-dive interaction through demo videos and social content, and even interactive troubleshooting with product teams.

 

To conclude, businesses now think differently about how customers and employee engagement can be enriched to boost revenues and trim bottom lines. Gamification provides a reason for customers to visit websites and influence buying behavior, and gives employees new ways to obtain feedback on job performance and acquire skills to take on more responsibility at work.  It can also connect customers and partners, and make them feel respected for providing feedback. In today’s hyper-engagement economy, time and attention have become increasingly valuable. People are more likely to engage in activities that are truly rewarding with opportunities for them to learn, grow, socialize, be recognized and rewarded. The principles of gamification, evolved from human psychology, behavioral economics and game design, can further help marketers increase return on effort and investments in such an economy.

The horror of stock images

It’s been close to two centuries since Washington Irving terrified us with “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” where a headless horseman frightens poor Ichabod Crane. Circa 2018, digital versions of headless apparitions continue to torment us online.

 

A headless man pointing at the screen – How many of you remember seeing such a picture? Or a better question would be: How many instances can you remember seeing or using them in the past – One? Two? Or more? I am guilty of using such images on so many occasions that I’ve lost count.Headless Men Pointing at Screen Image

 

Every day when you log into LinkedIn and Twitter, we come across these images from business-oriented social media handles. Scroll through the posts and then try to recall the posts you remember skimming through. Which ones do you remember? Regular text and graphs vis-a-vis posts with generic stock images.

 

While visual content works great to capture our attention, most of us have over-exploited the use of stock images. Some organizations follow a guideline which dictates the use of one generic image accompanying every post - be it a happy human face, executives shaking hands, an abstract image of our favorite ‘headless people’.

 

You will get similar suggestions when looking for best practices and tips to make social posts more visually appealing. Most guidelines recommend the use of a high definition, well-polished, human-centric imagery to stir human emotions. What we end up doing instead is converting every post into obvious marketing material. Most human minds have learned to skip such posts and go to the next one. These posts end up losing their true essence instead of stimulating human emotions.

 

It is absolutely fine to have a non-HD image as long as the image conveys what you want to say. It is fine if you use a screengrab of a graph from a presentation or a website to add value to your post. I am not completely disregarding the stock images and their usability, but use them wisely. Make it relevant and useful to the audience. Else you are only going to lose their interest. A need for information dissemination through the image is critical for the success of the post. 

 

If you still want to have that human connect and stir human emotions, add a meme. Make your audience smile, or even better get them to laugh. Adding humor once in a while is a great way to give your social handles a human touch and pique their interest.

 

All in all, ask your social media leads to stop behaving like a team of over-professionals. They are there to create a connect with the consumers directly and to generate awareness of your brand.

 

What do you want your brand image to be? A business that truly cares about humans or a business that poses to be human-centric. The choice is yours!

 

Nitin Gupta

 

- Thanks to Sameer Murdeshwar and Sowmya Moni for sharing their value adds on this topic

Growth hacking continues to be a hot topic, more so in the world for startups. While there are many strategies to achieve the desired growth objectives, here are the top 3 tips from my mentors that delivered great results.

  • Start with the 80:20 approach for quick wins vs pipeline build

    • Focus more on the opportunities that are closer to winning. Early wins give a strong morale boost to your teams as well. (Identifying these low hanging opportunities is a topic in itself. Know more from my blog here). Of course, building your pipeline for larger engagements concurrently is critical too. Give the focus a 80:20 split for closing deals vs pipeline build. This would eventually reduce to 50:50 once you start reaping the benefits of pipeline building efforts.

  • Question the conventional approaches on all fronts

    • What worked once may not work again and copying someone else’s as-is definitely will not help achieve the fullest of your potential. Don’t be afraid to question the current approaches - in fact question everything. Innovation and improvisation not only applies to the product but to other functions as well. Reinvent the sales, marketing and delivery approaches for identifying better engagement models and improving them in line with your business goals. It is of paramount importance to find the right mix of these functional approaches for your engagements too.

  • Don’t take your focus off the end-result

    • Revenue growth would ultimately define your success. Often startups get locked in particular stages – be it product innovation or trying to achieve breakthrough in tough-sell opportunities. It is of paramount importance to follow the Fail-fast models while rapidly experimenting. Remember the ‘Law of Diminishing Returns’. Defining metrics to help decide when to move on to the next opportunity or sales stage is a good starting point for this approach.

There are many insightful growth hacking success stories that you may want to consider for your engagements. You may find some here >> https://growthhackers.com/growth-studies 

 

Could you recall what Growth Hacking practices worked or didn’t work for you? Share in the comments section below.

 

Ganeshkumar S

Thanks to Sheelu Vallabh and Sowmya Moni for sharing their insights on this topic and value adds. 

In the recent blockbuster movie Batman Vs. Superman, without knowing each other well, Batman and Superman fought their way through dramatic turn of events only to realize how they could be each other’s greatest allies. Let’s see how this reflects sales and marketing in real world. 10 years ago, sales was essentially looked at as a person driven engagement – there was a notion that without a sales person, nothing can be sold. From low value items to large value items, customers were used to meeting a person to buy something.  And marketing was only seen as a market prepping engagement. In fact, sales and marketing were like the Batman and Superman doubting each other of creating complications and chaos in the world.

Then came Wonder Woman in the movie, who changed the way Superman and Batman looked at themselves and how their coming together is more important for a better world – just like how technology helped effectively align sales and marketing. The lines between marketing and sales are being redrawn and in some cases they are fast diminishing with advanced tools and channels powered by technology. Nevertheless, contrary to the notion of 2 discrete departments, we are witnessing significant overlap in sales and marketing functions where they are addressing the market opportunities as a unified business unit - now comparable to the ‘Justice League’ that is addressing the chaos brought in by monsters from different realms.

In the B2C space, especially in retail space, Big Bazaar has one floor staff for roughly every 412 sq. ft. of floor space. They rely on marketing for driving traffic to their stores and for increasing customers’ at-the-floor purchases. On the other hand, Flipkart and Amazon focus on the same objectives but execute with a huge technology arsenal - with no stores or sales person. Yet the turnover for both these models is staggering. The role of technology and the way sales and marketing function together are so obvious in the B2C space which buries the discreteness six feet under.

In the B2B space, sales teams are using a number of apps and tools to keep their targets engaged and have in turn taken over a significant portion of the marketing function as well. On the other hand, in addition to prepping the market for favorable sales environment, marketing function leverages evolving technologies to take over the initial sales cycles – most often till consideration stages. For high value deals, they collaborate with the sales team to cover the last mile as well.

In summary, the alignment between sales and marketing only seems to improve with technology – just like how Wonder Woman made Superman and Batman come together for a greater cause. What more is in the store is only to be explored – of course, I am not referring to the next movie.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on the evolving ‘Justice League’ – the sales & marketing alignment. And ya, if you like this post, give a thumbs up  

 

 

Ganeshkumar S