Jon Miller, VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo, recently shared with the Northern CA Business Marketing Association best practices that Marketo leverages to market themselves. He began his talk by reviewing how the Internet has changed the buying process. With the prevalence of information on the Internet, we have moved from a state of information scarcity to information abundance. Buyers are conducting research on solutions and vendors online and engaging with sales reps much later in their buying cycles. As a result, the way we market and sell must change. Here are 5 best practices Marketo is using to market and sell in this new paradigm.

1. Be found when people are looking

Content marketing means publishing and disseminating educational content so that your company and solutions are found by buyers when they are conducting research on the Internet. Content should be relevant to where a person is in their buying cycle. Marketo uses “early”, “middle”, and “late” to designate buying stages and maps content accordingly.

  • Early stage: Increase awareness and branding by publishing thought leadership and entertaining content. Examples include infographics, funny videos, and research. This content is not gated (behind a form) which increases consumption and the likelihood of it going viral.
  • Middle stage: Designed to help buyers find Marketo when they are looking for marketing automation solutions. Examples include buying guides, RFP templates, white papers and webinars. This content is usually gated. When you do gate content, use short forms. Asking for a phone number in addition to email address reduces the conversion rate. Marketo’s short form conversion rate is 13.4%. When a phone number is added and other fields, the conversion rate drops to 10%.
  • Late stage: Content is generally not gated and helps buyers evaluate and reaffirm their selection of Marketo. Examples include pricing, demos, case studies, reviews.

You don’t need to have all content ready now for your programs. Start small and build as you go, keeping out in front of drip campaigns. For instance, you can re-purpose blog posts by sending the entire post in an nurture email so recipients do not have to click to read it.

2. Include social sharing on every campaign

Don’t underestimate the power of peer-to-peer influence in the buying process. Every campaign launched by Marketo has a social component and they measure the “social lift” which in some cases is an additional 11% in reach and engagement.

  • Social sharing can be added to your website, landing pages, emails, online ads, and Facebook pages.
  • Referral programs and sweepstakes can be effective ways to encourage people to share.

3. Nurture and score leads until they are “sales ready”

In Marketo’s B2B complex sales process, buying committees have anywhere from 5 to 21 people, it takes 120 days to move a name to an opportunity and an average of 7 touches to convert a cold lead to a sale. Nurturing is essential to keep in front of prospects and shorten the sales cycle.

  • Marketo runs over 40 programs a month to acquire and nurture prospects.  A 4.1.1 cadence is used for early stage leads. 4 pieces of content that are educational, yet entertaining. Then 1 webinar invitation (soft sell) and 1 demo invitation (hard sell).
  • Lead scoring is defined as a “shared sales and marketing methodology for ranking leads in order to determine their sales readiness.” Leads at Marketo are scored based on fit, interest, and buying stage. Behavioral scoring looks at what people do online, what pages they visit, and what content they read.
  • Lead scoring increases the amount of time sales reps spend selling and results in higher revenue growth.

4. Build a sales development team

Sales Development Reps (SDRs) call all prospects with a lead score of “Target” to determine if the prospect meets the criteria for a Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). SQLs are then passed to inside and field sales reps to follow-up.

  • To make sure Sales follows-up on all SQLs, Marketo has a mantra of “no lead left behind.” Sales reps get reminders and if they don’t take action their boss is copied on the next email.
  • SDRs call within 5 minutes of a content download. Chances are the recipient is still at their desk reviewing the content and will pick up the phone.
  • A SDR team provides consistent follow-up, is economical compared to having inside and field sales reps follow-up and provides a talent pool for sales.

5. Use analytics to turn marketing into a revenue driver

With marketing automation systems such as Marketo, marketing’s impact on the pipeline can be measured since you can track all touches for a given account over time and spread the marketing spend accordingly. This means that marketers can be part of the revenue-producing team versus a cost center – helping to align marketing and sales and increasing the credibility of the marketing team.

  • Marketo looks at reach (size of long term revenue), flow (from one stage to another), conversion and velocity of the pipeline.
  • Their average pipeline conversion rates are: 70% conversion from a SQL to an Opportunity; 15% conversion from new Opportunities to Wins, and a 4% conversion of existing Opportunities to Wins.