Using Marketing Automation to Sell Group Subscriptions

April 18, 2011  |   Marketing   |     |   0 Comment

B2B publishers can be slow adopters of new technology, bringing a healthy skepticism to the next big thing. Many times it is because they can solve the same problem for less money. Instead of adopting marketing automation, for example, a lot of publishers have developed their own database marketing systems to solve problems like driving activity-based campaigns.

But one area where marketing automation could be invaluable is turning individual subscriptions into large sales. In corporate sales, as with any marketing, content is king (and publishers are kings of content). But where they lack expertise is creating “meta-content”; that is, content about how their information helps companies on a large scale.

For individual subscribers, the solution is simple: offer a free trial and upsell based on their interaction with your publications. But when you want to move to bigger deals, some problems arise:

  • Too many leads: You have thousands of subscribers, and all of them could be interested in a company-wide plan. How do you tell who is and who is not?
  • No system to upsell further: A subscriber who is happy with her content won’t necessarily look at other purchases with you, or think much about how the content she reads is valued outside her immediate circle. You may send cross-sell efforts to her, but do you have a system to evaluate and market corporate-level subscriptions?
  • No content to upsell further: You may be a king of the content you publish, but do you have content relevant to group subscription sales? For example, if you sell access to a database of financial results, you may have some copy on how that would help an individual. But do you have whitepapers, videos or case studies on how your information could fit into your clients’ businesses as a whole?

Marketing automation was developed for B2B marketers to work out these exact issues. As publishers, you may think that having lots of content and lots of leads solves the above problems for you. It doesn’t. But with a proper marketing automation platform integrated to a CRM system, you can start to…

1) Create and tag content: Here I’m talking about the specific information you publish PLUS the content about your content (meta-content). For example, how does your publication or database integrate with your customers’ needs? Where could they use your data in their business processes? How could a group subscription help different areas of your subscribers’ businesses? What other content do you have on offer that might be of help? Create a series of whitepapers, webcasts, videos, surveys and case studies. Segment them by:

  1. Type of content – is the content news, data, a database, etc?
  2. Buying cycle – would someone downloading the content do so out of curiosity or because they are ready to buy?
  3. Demographic – is the content focused on a particular vertical industry, geographic location or job title?

2) Gate content and slowly build an intelligent lead profile: Make sure to gate your content. But use cookies to identify repeat visitors so you don’t have to always ask the same questions. When a lead looks at a white paper, ask for their name, company and email. Once they watch a demo video on how their product works, ask for different information like budget or a timeline to buy.

3) Send automatic campaigns to leads to showcase your “corporate” content: When someone subscribes to your product, send them a periodic email to judge interest in a corporate subscription. If they respond, you know there may be more interest.

4) Systematically follow up on any interest: Based on your tagging or information collected in progressive profiling, send automation campaigns to follow up with your leads with more content that might interest them, or with calls to action that will lead them to a next step.

5) Score leads and send them to sales based on real intent to buy: While nurturing leads automatically, you’ll be building a profile based on activity and fields. Before sending leads to a high-paid sales team, figure out how interested they are and whether they fit your buyer’s profile. You may want to send them to a telephone qualification team first. But make sure your lead scoring filters out any leads with only peripheral interest so that your most expensive sales resources aren’t busy chasing rainbows. You want sales to be excited about every lead you send them, and scoring will make that happen.

Each and every one of your subscribers had a particular business need that made them buy your publication. But looking at which subscribers are leads for a larger offering could mean the difference between an $800/year individual subscription and a $200,000 corporate license. In the latter, clients will integrate your information into various areas of their business, treating you more like a partner than a publisher.

A marketing automation program may seem superfluous and expensive, and $30,000+ a year can seem like an expensive way to email customers. But marketing automation is much more than sending email. Platforms like Marketo and Eloqua offer a way to conduct digital, one-on-one conversations with your subscribers and upsell them en masse. So consider how many new subscribers you’re missing, or how many possible corporate deals are ignored because you don’t have a systematic, intelligent way to evaluate your leads.

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