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Did you miss Merinda Peppard of Salesforce Pardot at Digital Week? Don’t worry, you can check out the on-demand webinar right here

Or, if you’d prefer- we also have the webinar transcription available – take your pick!

Salesforce Pardot – Top 10 B2B marketing best practices

Speaker: Merinda Peppard

My name is Merinda Peppard. I am the marketing lead for the Salesforce Pardot business. Today I’m going to talk through how I use marketing automation to run my business. But let’s jump straight in.

I joined Salesforce recently after working in B2B marketing for around 15 years. It was quite interesting: during the interview process I didn’t actually know how to pronounce the Pardot brand name. Was it Pardot? Is it Pardeaux, like in the French? It made for a slightly awkward first few minutes of the interview, but it’s actually pronounce Par-dot. And the reason why I’m telling you this is because it’s Latvian and the word in Latvian means to market or sell. I think this background is important because it’s really fundamental to the aim of our company as a part of business, but also it’s fundamental as a key objective for many B2B marketers out there. You know, we’re so closely aligned to sales that it becomes ingrained in our key objectives.

I think we can just look at the marketing automation. So, we’ll take a step back and really look at a high level for a second on what B2B marketing automation is. Essentially, what B2B marketing automation does is allow you to take your leads from your campaigns and really get them across to sales. That’s our key objective here. Sales are always wanting those highly-qualified, hot leads to follow up on and that’s the concept. So, the campaign, we create these wonderful marketing campaigns, we put them into a magic marketing automation box and good leads come out at the other end – that’s what we’re hoping for and that’s the concept.

But what I’m finding more and more is that marketers understand the value and they understand why they need a marketing automation solution, but they’re not really quite sure how to actually do it. So, this is what I’m going to go through today and I’m going to go through some of the steps that I do when I’m setting up a campaign myself for my B2B business using Pardot, the Salesforce marketing automation solution.

The first thing my team does is we sit down and we figure out what kind of campaign and content strategy we’re going to run – the two are very closely aligned. I’m going to talk about an actual campaign today that we did about six months ago. We decided that we wanted to focus the campaign on high-growth start-up businesses. That target in particular was really hot for us about six months ago and we wanted to focus on it in our marketing initiatives and really get that target group to understand the value of Pardot and our business. So, I’m going to walk through that campaign and what we did on a step-by-step basis.

Best Practice #1. We took a couple of inputs into our decision-making process to not only come up with who we were targeting put also the message and the content that we were going to use to target these people with. The first thing that we did was really look at the data. What we’re seeing time and time again at Pardot is that entrepreneurial businesses in particular were buying Pardot in record numbers, so we wanted to build a campaign around that. Then we needed to decide what we should focus the content on. With Pardot, one of our key USPs is that it’s a really easy-to-use platform. That was one of the key themes that we wanted this audience to take away: that Pardot is easy; it’s easy to get started and there’s a lot of value for high-growth businesses and small marketing teams.

The second thing we do is we listen to our customers. Within my role, we’re always on the road. We’re at lots of events, we have a very strong events strategy within Pardot, and we’re always in the field, out talking to customers – and we get a lot of feedback about how our customers use our product, etc. When we talked to some of these high-growth companies that recently bought Pardot, one thing that became apparent when we spoke to them was that they didn’t know initially that they need marketing automation – they didn’t even know what marketing automation was. That was interesting for us because we thought, “Wow – we really need to go to the drawing board and we need to educate this audience, right at the very beginning, on what marketing automation is.” We had a product that was valuable to these people, but they didn’t initially know that they needed it, so there were some lightbulbs that weren’t there. So, that was interesting to figure out our content strategy for this campaign.

The third thing we did here was we read research. I think we’re lucky as a B2B marketing organisation; at Salesforce we have a lot of resources, we’re lucky enough to have access to focus groups and stuff like that. But if you’re a smaller B2B organisation, there’s obviously other research that you can look at. There’s tons of stuff on eMarketer, there are Forrester reports – there’s lots of different types of research that you can use to validate where your head is at and where you want your campaign to go and in what direction.

And of course, the last thing we did is what I call our marketing magic. I think this is a little bit of why we all become marketers and certainly why I became a marketer – it’s because I love the mixture of the art and science. I really love that creativity side of marketing. So, how do we take that concept and how do we make it compelling and interesting, really make people want to buy our products at the end of the day? When we did all this research, we listened to our customers, we looked at the data, our two main findings were really that there was:

  1. a lack of awareness in marketing automation; and
  2. that with this target group, their key priority was that they wanted to grow fast.

So, we took these two findings and we combined it into a campaign theme which we called Small Teams, Big Dreams. That’s how we came about figuring out the campaign and the content strategy, and then we built all of our content assets around that.

So what did we do then? After we decided what our campaign theme was, we needed the content to support that campaign. Content is really at the heart of a lot of marketing automation campaigns: you need to have that content to keep people continuously engaged, and what we’ve learned at Pardot is that we need different content for different stages of the funnel.

Most of you have likely seen this funnel before. Let’s start at the top of the funnel. I think if we ignore the funnel and we just use one piece of content for all of our prospects it’s not going to be that easily digestible and consumed by people as they change their journey through the funnel. At different stages of that journey they definitely want different things. I think the top of the funnel, really, is about building the awareness; it’s that educating people on a problem that your business will solve and the value that your business has to offer. For us, the top of the funnel was something… We didn’t even really want to talk about Pardot, our company; we didn’t want that content to be product-focused at all, because at that stage of the buyer’s journey people are just trying to understand what marketing automation is. We’re trying to educate them on that problem and we didn’t want to introduce our product too early because that’s not what the prospect is looking for.

What we did here, for this particular campaign targeting high-growth companies, we designed a really cute infographic where people could scroll down and see the many different hats that marketing professionals wear in those businesses. We all know that B2B marketers, especially in smaller teams and high-growth businesses, wear a lot of hats, so we had a joke with that and created this lovely infographic saying, “B2B marketers are always trying to do a lot of stuff – here are all the hats they wear,” and really educate them on how marketing automation can help – but definitely not pushing our product content at all at this stage, because people just aren’t ready for that.

Then, as we move from the top of the funnel, we move then to mid-funnel content. As we move down that funnel, the second piece of content that we decided to show here was showing people the value in terms of the actual strategies they can use with marketing automation. So, the first piece at the top of the funnel was why you need it; the second piece was, “Okay, now how do I actually use marketing automation to grow my business?” Now we have a little bit of product content here, but we’re still trying really hard to educate people on the value of marketing automation. So we introduce a little bit of product content, because of course, eventually we want people to buy, but it’s not the primary focus of this piece of content.

The third piece of content that we develop really has to be product-focused and this is really where people have seen the problem, they’re starting to understand the solution and how they can use it. And this is where we really want to introduce the product, down at the bottom stage of the funnel.

So, by the time the prospect or customer has flowed through this journey, they’re really ready now to understand what you do as a business and the product, and what products you have on offer. They’ve been educated and they’re ready to see, “Okay, this is the product that’s going to help me do everything I need to do.” And so for this piece of content, we actually had some of our customers tell their story, because I think sometimes getting your customers to tell your product story is a really nice way and a softer way to sell your product. We took it up and we packaged this in a bottom-stage funnel piece, and the product content here is really showing the value to the customer about why they’re reading it. I think the great piece around bottom-of-funnel content is that you can give this in addition to using it in your marketing efforts; you can also give this to your sales teams because, at this stage, they’re really having one-on-one interactions with your customers as well, and if there’s bottom-of-funnel content such as case studies, etc., they can also use these in their meetings.

I give this presentation a lot and so many customers come up to me and say, “We understand that. We understand marketing automation and we understand that we need content. But the thought of developing all this content is absolutely terrifying.” You know, if you’re a small marketing team and if you’ve ever developed content, you know it can be very time-consuming and it’s not easy. “Are there any strategies,” they ask, “to do this in a structured way?”

That leads me on to Best Practice #3, which is to create an anchor piece of content. It’s really about creating an anchor piece of content and then developing your marketing automation strategy around that. Now, your one anchor piece of content will be time-consuming – there’s no way around that. It will be your most time-intensive piece of content and you’ll probably spend a good amount of time and resource building it. But once you’ve got that anchor piece of content, you can really merchandise it, use it again and again, and I’m going to show you how you slice it up and repackage it and dice it in a whole different bunch of ways – so you’re really only doing that heavy lifting once upfront. We do this for two reasons:

  • One, it really helps us maximise our time and investment, and we get the most mileage out of the content that we’re spending so much time putting together.
  • And the second is that people like to consume content in different ways. I will probably consume content in a very different way to how you personally do. I, for example, don’t like to read white papers, but I would click through a five-slide slide-share on some of the stats from a white paper, for example.

So, taking this one piece of anchor content and using it multiple times is a really, really good strategy, especially if you’re resource-constrained.

So, we’ve got our campaign theme, we’ve developed our content. Now, that doesn’t really mean anything back to the objective of us in B2B marketing of helping our sales achieve their goals. It doesn’t really mean anything until we start capturing leads. We need to capture leads; we need to get the into that magic marketing automation factory I showed you on my first slide so that we can start scoring them and grading them and getting them across to sales.

Here are some of the tips that I’ve learned on how we can maximise lead capture at Pardot. We want to get our offers out by different content channels; we want to see what’s interesting, how different call to actions work better on different channels. It seems a bit straightforward, but you’d be surprised. On the blog, for example, the call to action there, what we really want people to do is read the blog; we don’t want them to download anything – the word “download” is a bit scary when you’re on a blog because it’s very top-of-the-funnel, you’re just wanting to read content. But for a webinar ad, the call to action there is definitely to register – register for the webinar. So, it’s really important to look at those calls to action and to understand the key metric and goal for each of these content channels.

Once you’ve got your content and you’ve sliced and diced it in all these different ways, we need to figure out, of course, how much of that content do we gate and how much do we leave un-gated. Have a think about when you’re consuming content. We’re just trying to see… You know, how do you react to gating? Let’s just go through and think about the different ways of gating for different content.

I think I would personally rarely gate infographics or short video content or a single customer story, because I really want people to read these things. This is part of the top of the funnel and the education process, and it’s really important to make it as easy as possible for people to download. You really want to get that into the hands of everyone. When you start to talk about something that’s much more time-intensive to produce, such as an eBook or a white paper or a longer-form video, that’s when we start to really gate people and get that lead capture, as we’re moving down the funnel as well. People understand the credibility of your business, they’ve bought in to the fact they will receive great content from you, and they’re more willing, then, to give up their contact details for some interesting content.

At these sorts of micro-decisions your customer is having across their journey, when they see an ad they take a few seconds to decide whether they’re going to click on that ad or not; then they go to your landing page and there are more micro-decisions then. They might decide in five to ten seconds whether they’re actually going to fill in the landing page. These sorts of micro-decisions you need to think about as they’re completing their journey. When will you gate and when should you allow that free flow of information?

That leads us on to…People are obsessed with clicks from ads and that makes sense. Right? You pay money for ad space and people want to click on your ad. But what people don’t realise is it’s actually not that hard to get clicks. I’ll show you why. I’m actually a sucker for dog videos on Facebook; this is a kitten video, but I’ll click on anything that has a funny dog video. That’s an extreme example, but actually it does show that anyone can get clicks – it really doesn’t mean that that click is valuable. You have to think about what happens to that person after they’ve clicked on the ad. They’ve made a decision to click on your ad and now they’re on your landing page and you’ve got five or ten seconds to get them to actually fill out that landing page – so there really needs to be some cohesiveness between the two, cohesiveness between the ad and it needs to map back to your landing page and the specific content that you’re trying to deliver to that person. If you can have as dynamic content as possible, then that is definitely going to increase the conversion of your leads coming through. If you say in your ad that someone is going to receive a white paper, then it sounds obvious, but they need to receive a white paper, not a short, two-page handout.

The other thing we do here at Pardot – and this is one of my favourite features of Pardot – is that we A/B test every single landing page. It’s really easy to do, first of all. I don’t need to be an HTML developer – and I’m definitely not – or a coder or anything like that; we can do it directly in the system. And you can A/B test a million things, of course, so where do you start? You can test colours, you can test pictures, you can test words. But we’ve found, time and time again, that the number one thing that will make the most impact to your A/B test really is the headline. So, when you’re sitting with your team and you’re looking at this and you’re thinking, “What shall we A/B test and where do we start?” I would definitely recommend the headline, because that’s really where you’re going to see the biggest return.

So, you’ve added the landing page, your prospect is looking at the form that they need to fill in and they’re trying to decide whether or not they’re going to fill in that form. That’s the next step in that journey, that marketing automation journey, that you need to consider then for your customer.

Sales will want you to ask everything on the form, of course. If they could get their prospects’ blood type, they would have it. The more information that the sales team has and the more well-informed they are, the better for them – and the less work it is for them, of course, to get that information at the time of sale. But as a marketer and as someone who fills in form myself, I really just want the email address, because I know that through the power of marketing automation, once I’ve got that email address into my system I can then really develop these campaigns and develop and nurture the tracks to get more information from people on a piece-by-piece basis. This is what we call progressive profiling and this is what really helps increase the conversion from piece to piece, as you’re collecting contact details about your customer.

Progressive profiling is one of my favourite features. It really allows you to have a conversation with the prospect and not overwhelm them by asking for too much information. Usually, if you have a Pardot form, I’m going to ask you for email address, because I definitely need your email address upfront so I can keep corresponding with you; and then probably just your name. Then what I’ll do is I’ll keep showing you other pieces of content to get you more engaged and give you more information about my business, whether it’s an educational product or customer content. There are two reasons why I’m giving you more content:

  • One, it’s going to help me get more information to my sales team, because as I serve you more content you will give me more of your contact information;
  • Then, as we go through scoring and grading – which I’ll talk about in a minute – for each piece of content I will give you a score and grade, which also helps inform my sales team as well.

It really makes me, as a marketer, build a great profile on you as the customer. I can target content based on what I know and based on what I think you’ll like – so it’s really a better experience for the customer as well.

But how do we do this? How do we get people to continually give us information? One way is to put content in front of them, but the other thing I learned at Pardot is that the best way to start that progressive profiling journey is with an autoresponder. So, let’s talk now about the autoresponder.

Have a think about how many times you’ve filled in a form and how many times the first email you get after you’ve filled that form in is a “Thank you, someone will contact you shortly” – that’s the exact wording sometimes that you get. But actually, what you want is another opportunity to get them more engaged. They’ve gone through the journey, they’ve clicked on your ad, they’ve decided to fill out the landing page. And then they’ve filled it in and this is where they’re interested in your brand, in your product, in your services or whatever it is you’re selling. But then what you need to get is another piece of content in front of them. They’re really ripe for learning at this point and they want to consume the content – so that’s the opportunity to get more of your content upfront while they’re on their journey.

Within my marketing team, we actually spend a lot of time thinking about our autoresponder strategy and we really make sure that we’re putting content that’s relevant to the journey that they just went on. So, if they click on something they become more engaged, but also we’ve got that progressive profiling going. I can ask then more detailed questions on the forms; I can ask about their company size; I can ask where they’re located in the form so that I can start sending them content based on their country, for example, if I’m responsible for Europe. And then all of this dynamic activity is really tailored to the interaction that they’ve had previously, so you’re giving them that personalised journey as they’re really going across.

We all do a lot of work on our websites. It’s interesting: websites are so visible within organisations. You’ve probably experienced the same as me where you’ve had one of the senior executives interrogate you about something that you’ve written on your website. The point is that so many people view your website and your website is really the face of your brand, and it’s so highly visible; it’s the manifestation also of your message. But it’s so easy to just forget about. Once you’ve created your fantastic website, you create it and then forget about it and start focusing on your lead generating campaigns instead. And you think, “Well, it looks good,” you’ve optimised your SEO, but then you’re not really focused on it.

Well, I think that’s a mistake and I think it’s what a lot of marketers do. They run their website as a project and then they forget about it. But it’s not really a set-and-forget asset. It’s really hard to continually update your website, but this is where really dynamic content and B2B marketing automation really helps you, because you can use the tool to set people dynamic content based on what you know about them – and this will absolutely improve your lead generation effectiveness.

Let’s take a look at this as an example. This is an example from the Pardot website and you can see here that there are two different types of people that come to our website as a business. If someone comes to my website and I don’t know yet what the CRM tool is that they use, I probably won’t directly talk to them about Salesforce, because they might use Salesforce or they might not – I don’t know. But I don’t want to put Salesforce in front of them because I’m not sure if they’re interested in it yet. I know they’ve filled out a form and they’ve come to my website, but I’m not quite sure if targeting them with Salesforce content is interesting. This piece here, what we serve them with here is “Marketing Automation and your CRM: The Dynamic Duo” – so, very generic content that we put in front of them if we don’t know what CRM they’re using.

On the other side, if we do know what CRM they’re using, we can dynamically serve them content that talks to them specifically about that. If we know that they’re a Salesforce CRM customer, then we can serve them this content piece on the right which is “Salesforce for B2B Marketers: The Complete Guide”. That definitely is increasing conversion; it’s talking directly to the need that they have.

I’m going to take a poll right now just see out of curiosity how many of the audience here are using Salesforce as a CRM solution. A very simple poll: Does your organisation use Salesforce as CRM solution? Please go ahead and complete our poll there.

Yes, quite a number of you are using Salesforce as a CRM solution. So, for the group there, if you were coming to our website and I knew that you were using Salesforce, I would be serving you the Salesforce-focused content for B2B marketers. And for the 65% that don’t currently use Salesforce, I would be serving you with generic content.

The next best practice that we look towards is scoring and grading. Scoring we define as what a person does and then the grade is defined by who a person is. If you have Pardot, a lot of the scoring that we set up is out-of-the-box, and this is based on best practices that we’ve seen across companies. Also, it’s figuring out how you weigh up how to score someone going to your pricing page, for example, versus downloading a white paper, versus attending an event. There are different scores that you can give for all the different engagements that your prospects have with you, so what we’ve done is we’ve created a package based on best practice so you don’t have to think about that – so it’s very easy. Of course, you can change the scoring as you want, but if you just want to start with what the industry is using then you can do that.

Let’s have a look at this in a bit more detail. Anything that’s like a demo request or a pricing page or someone attending a webinar or who is clicking on emails, these are going to score higher than if I send somebody something and they engage with it but they haven’t actually registered for a webinar or they didn’t attend, maybe they opened my email but they didn’t click. I’m still going to give them a score, but they’re just not going to score as high as if they actually did something that was more engaging. In my case, my scoring threshold here is 200 points. On the flipside, it’s the same with grading. If I know that you use CRM and you are at an executive level position, then I’m going to give you a higher grade because that’s more interesting for me as a business. I’m going to give you more points because I know that you’re more valuable to my sales team fundamentally.

Once we have that sort of scoring and grading methodology in place, we can really map out our lead management and flow. This looks complicated, but it’s actually a simplified version. We’ve got three different kinds of buckets of leads that we can classify. Let’s walk this through slowly.

A response comes in to our magic marketing automation factory, as we described on the first page, and we determine whether that’s a new lead or whether it’s an existing lead or contact, which means a salesperson is currently engaging and working that deal or perhaps it’s an existing customer. If it’s a new lead, it goes through that scoring process that I just mentioned. So, someone might, on their initial interaction, get an initial interaction score and a grade, and then they go to sale – sometimes they don’t.

So, once they reach that score and that grade, they will go on to what we call our EDR team, which is basically our inside sales team. What they’ll do is they’ll call up the person, they’ll have the conversation, they’ll determine if there’s a propensity to buy with that person. Then, if there is a deal or an opportunity with that person, they will go on to an account executive. But if it’s not, they’ll put them back down into a nurture track to go through that process of getting marketing touches until they’ve really determined the reach of the threshold and that grade again. So, if they’re not ready for sales yet, they can always be re-nurtured and put through the system again. Perhaps they’re not ready, perhaps it will take them six months to make their purchase decision; but they’re still really interested in educating themselves on my product and my industry, so it’s still very valuable to keep them in the system and to keep offering them webinars, offering them white papers, etc.

Now, if it is an opportunity, then the AE will get a notification that they can engage with that customer. And then that’s really exciting for them because that’s when we’ve passed our hot lead from marketing across to the sales teams to really work that opportunity. And we assign that to sales then.

So, I think it’s pretty straightforward, how the campaign organisations are structured. But you’ve got a lot of people engaging with the campaign, so it’s really about how do you assign and how do you get the best score out of your existing database.

Let’s take a pause here and we’ll just look at lead assignment. Lead assignment and prioritisation is really key here, because you’ve done a lot of the hard work, you’ve gone through the process, you’ve come up with that brilliant campaign and your content strategy, you’ve scored and graded your customer contacts and everything is ready to go. Once we’ve reached that grade and we’ve been at that threshold, we just want to make sure that we know what’s going on and we’re assigning it to the right person – and we’re assigning it for a number of different reasons. AEs and sales reps know that their sales managers will run reports on the ones calling up on their hot leads. They know that if they’re assigned a lead there should be an SLA to follow up on that lead on a timely basis. And we really want to make sure that we’re giving across the right quality leads and fine-tuning that over the time; having that open dialogue with sales to make sure that we’re fine-tuning the quality of the lead that’s coming across, we’re getting feedback on whether that lead was good and why potentially it wasn’t a good quality lead. So, this is really something that we really want to have a regular conversation with on the sales team.

But something that we also do is empowering our sales team to nurture as well. There’s one element of marketing passing across leads to sales for closing and closing the deal, but sometimes it’s important that the sales team continues on that conversation once they have that one-to-one relationship as well. I think some of the recent stats at the moment show that 85% of your customers’ purchase decision is really already made up before they’ve even engaged with your sales team – and that’s crazy, actually, because that means that the role of marketing is so valuable. The prospect has done all of their research and has almost made up their full choice before they even reach your sales team, and that’s really all down to the content marketing that we’ve been doing as marketing. So, your prospects are really, really educated, they’re engaged before they pick up the phone to call – and this is changing the sales cycle within B2B. It really is at the moment.

So, we want to give our sales team the power to nurture as well. We want to give our sales team the opportunity to add their contacts into these marketing nurture tracks that we’ve created. We’ve spent a lot of time to create the content, the nurture tracks, the email flows – why not give your sales team the opportunity to add their contacts as well into these tracks? So then everything is looking good from a marketing perspective, your sales team are creating random emails or content pieces themselves, they’re using pre-approved content from the marketing team so you have that control over that. And really I think that’s the key, that’s the next step in marketing automation, is ensuring that your sales team as well have access to campaign reporting, understanding what content pieces are working the best, what is influencing the pipeline, what channels are influencing the pipeline, and also to deliver all of that information back into the sales teams and keep that open dialogue. I think that’s where marketing and sales really work together to become one department, if you like, to generate that full customer journey from start to finish, engaging with that educational piece upfront and then still using that content all the way through to the end sale.

So, that’s the model that we use and that’s what we use as a B2B marketing organisation within Salesforce. I work really closely with our sales team to make sure that we have a constant and open dialogue around what is working, what type of leads are coming through, are they the right leads, are they sales-ready yet, how much more content do we need to deliver them, and then how do we get those assets into the hands of the sales guys and girls to make use of, to really leverage all the hard work we did upfront in generating that content.

I want to thank you, everyone, for joining on the call today. Thanks again and thanks for joining.

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