Friday, December 31, 2010

"Best of 2010" lead generation tactics

At Zend, marketing has an SLA. Every year we sign a "contract" with our sales team. Based on some pretty simple funnel mathematics, we're committed to delivering a certain number of qualified leads to every sales rep every week (the numbers vary based on role and geo). In 2010 we exceeded our goal by 30%. How?

These are the 3 lead sources that drove most revenue for us in 2010:
  1. Inbound inquiries - heavy investment in inbound marketing paid big dividends in 2010! More people heard about us, more people found us online, more people were open to doing business with us
  2. Free downloads - our products are real easy to install and try out, making registered downloads a highly effective means of generating good leads
  3. Webinars - these have been working extremely well for us in 2010 - we've focused on educational content rather than on selling product, and we opened our webinar platform to partners and customers
What didn't work for us all that well? Renting lists, cold calling, doing broad offline events. No wonder I called my blog "Marketing 2.0".

Focus on focus

When working in a startup, focus is all but easy. Every interaction with a prospect/customer/analyst/engineer/partner opens up a world of new opportunities for your product or service. Temptations are in abundance when you're young.

A few years ago, I was working at Identify Software (later acquired by BMC). We built a really cool app that helped developers and support engineers troubleshoot software problems. We called it black box flight recorder for software. One of our early customers was Intel, and our tool found its way to the cyber security team, who realized it could help them analyze the impact of malware.

They were ecstatic about it.

The result? We started going after the security market. We didn't change direction, we just added one. Instead of  focusing all our (then scarce) resources on delighting our users and growing our user base, we spent time discussing a new security product and talking to companies in the security space. Luckily, the whole initiative was scrapped a few months later and we re-focused our attention on our original market, but this just goes to show you the risks startups are running into when smart people get ideas of what else they could do with your nifty technology.

The problem startups are facing is rarely what to do. It is what not to do.

What do you do when you run into a focus issue? One thing that has been quite effective for me is the home page banner test. Ask yourself (or your CEO, or your VP Sales) - "there is one main banner on the company's home page - what do you want it to say?". If there's one thing you want to tell people about what your company does, what would it be? And no, you can't have rotating banners...

A blog is born

Well, here we go. My first personal blog post. As a marketer, I've been using social media extensively for a good number of years. I have always thought of social media as a great way to engage with customers and influencers. At Zend, the company I currently work for (as head of marketing), we have seen some really good results from our social media efforts. We communicate with thousands of people using Facebook and LinkedIn, we disseminate great educational content through blogging, webcasting and podcasting, we interact with our community via Twitter and we do a fair amount of promotion through paid ads on various social networks.

But while I've been immersed in social media since the beginning of (social) time, I have never taken the time to write my own blog.

Why start now?

In one word: Seth. In two: Seth Godin.

I've been following Seth Godin for a number of years. Reading his most recent post "What did you ship in 2010?" got me thinking about all the things I shipped in 2010. And I shipped a lot! We had two major product releases, a hugely successful user conference, we over-delivered on our lead targets, and made substantial improvements to our website, our email programs, marketing metrics, and more. Yet another year has gone by, and I still don't have a blog where I can share some of my experiences and views on the new world of marketing.

So I decided to ship.

Welcome to my blog.