How to generate leads from LinkedIn or Facebook

We’ve all used social media in our social lives, but when it comes to business, the usual approaches don’t work so well.  But sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can be great sources of leads for your business if you approach them correctly.

You will see many different ways to use social media to promote your business; we have shared here a simple guide to getting started using social media to generate leads.  This is not the only approach that will work and we’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you find other methods that do or don’t work…

Should I use LinkedIn or Facebook?

The easy way to decide where to start is to consider your audience.  Do you define them based on “hard” factors such as:

  • Industry
  • company size
  • location
  • job roles

Or on “soft” factors such as:

  • Their interests
  • Their hobbies
  • The sport they play
  • Their music or artistic choices
  • What they like

As a big generalisation, those that use the top list should focus on LinkedIn and those that use the bottom list, Facebook.  If you fall into both camps, do both!

Where to start on LinkedIn?

You probably already have a LinkedIn profile that you built years ago and use sometimes.  Well now is the time to start using it properly.  LinkedIn has recently updated its user interface, so it’s cleaner but a lot of useful stuff is now hidden away.

Start by taking a good look at LinkedIn and learn where everything is.  If you can’t find something, google what you are looking for.  There will always be an answer…

Next get your profile in order.  LinkedIn.com helps you with this, suggesting extra bits to add to your profile.  Load as much content onto your profile as you can then regularly do the following:

  • Post updates every week
  • Write a new article as often as you can but at least every fortnight. Share knowledge rather than talking about you and your business
  • Identify your target audience by creating an advanced search using the criteria available to you: industry, company size, job role, etc.
  • Review your second-degree contacts in the results of this search and send appropriate people a connection request. Never more than 30 per day.
  • Accept appropriate connection requests you receive then send a personal message to each person thanking them for requesting you as a connection and asking them a bit about themselves and what they want from LinkedIn
  • When someone accepts your connection requests send a personal message thanking them and asking them a bit about themselves and what they want from LinkedIn
  • Regularly message your connections through LinkedIn just sharing knowledge that you feel may be relevant to them.
  • Start a LinkedIn group and invite your contacts to join it then share relevant knowledge and links with them.

This may sound like a lot of work, but if you spent 45 minutes each day following this process, you could get an additional 3500 contacts on LinkedIn within a year.  That’s 3500 perfectly targeted (because you have hand-picked them one at a time) business contacts to influence towards becoming your customers.

You can also export contact data for your LinkedIn connections, including their email address.

Get social on Facebook

If you have decided that your business is better suited to Facebook then your style and approach are going to be less formal and more social.

Start by establishing a Facebook page for your business and a Facebook group.  Then join groups relevant to your business.  So if you run cookery courses, join “foodie” groups and contribute to these groups, join in the conversations and encourage members to join your Facebook group.

One very powerful way to use Facebook is to run adverts.  You can target people based on what they have liked, where they are and a range of other factors so the only people to see your adverts are well qualified already.

Unlike LinkedIn, where there is a best way to work, there are many different ways to take advantage of the services that Facebook offers and the best way to decide where to start is to use Facebook’s own training.  It’s free and available here:  https://www.facebook.com/blueprint.  Try signing up for their SMB courses, some are very good.

Other Social networks

Many social networks may work for your business and if you are lucky enough to be in a niche with a dedicated network, use it to your advantage.  However many people try and develop business using Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with less than great results.  You get followers, but turning your following into leads and sales is difficult.

Our advice is to focus your time and energy on LinkedIn or Facebook for your business, whatever your personal preferences.

Please do let us know your thoughts on this advice and share any successes or challenges that others can learn from.

LinkedIn, GDPR and the law…

You’ve got a LinkedIn profile; we all have. So you get notifications by email from LinkedIn when people send you a message through LinkedIn.

This has been going on for ages, but things are changing this month with GDPR taking effect across the EU.

So, do you stop receiving emails from LinkedIn with member messages?

No!

But why?

Because when you signed up to LinkedIn many years ago, you accepted LinkedIn Terms of Service (https://www.linkedin.com/legal/user-agreement) which gives them the right to send you emails unless you opted out.

Then you were offered the option to choose which messages to receive from other LinkedIn members here:

https://www.linkedin.com/psettings/email-controls

So, by signing up to LinkedIn you are agreeing to receive email from LinkedIn including emails that contain messages from other LinkedIn members.

It is up to you, in the settings area, to determine which of these emails you wish to receive, but if you have your settings as shown above, you will receive an email from LinkedIn every time another LinkedIn members messages you.

So, as the LinkedIn member is not sending you an email, they do not fall under the GDPR / PECR rules.

Hope this helps clarify a very confusing piece of legislation.

Remarkable ways companies can ensure revenue growth this year

We’re delighted to bring you a guest article from someone at the top of their game in helping businesses grow profitably.  Jane Bromley works with businesses to bring about massive sales growth and we’ve persuaded her to share the secret process she uses to help companies succeed. 

Here’s how she does it…

Over the past 20 years I have worked with dozens of companies across the UK, Europe and USA. Almost every single one of them had omitted to make some essential decisions and it seriously limited their growth.

The thing to bear in mind is that although these decisions make all the difference to Sales and Marketing results, those departments cannot make them on their own.

So, take a step back and learn 3 ways to guarantee the success of your Sales Force

1.    Limit Your Target Market

Too often companies have no clearly defined, target market focus and it kills their success. They just have never spent the time to work out what type of customers they can really make happy, let alone which ones are best for the business.

Does your company’s marketing budget runs into the tens of millions? If not, unless you profile your best customers and then focus on winning more customers like them, you will set your business up for failure. The more precise and contained your target market is, the more successful your company will be. A good target market definition needs to be precise, match the profile of your happiest clients AND give your company access to a large enough market to meet your financial targets.

By the way “SMEs” account for over 80% of the total business market so that is not a target market.

So examples could be:

  • Companies with 200 – 400 employees who have no actual computer system to manage their Human Resources today across the whole UK
  • Financial Advisers firms with between 3 and 6 people in the company across the California
  • English speaking companies with 5- 30 employees across the Thames Valley, who wish to automate their book keeping/ reduce monthly costs over time.

Case Study:

We worked with an international, €60m professional services organisation. Revenue had not grown in 5 years. Worse still, because they had staff in many countries, in order for the business to work effectively, they needed to win multi million, multi-year deals across several countries. Despite this they had not defined the target markets they would focus on. We guided them to focus on 3 focused target markets, 2 where they already had good traction and one more. Within 5 months they had won a €6m deal. From then on they have been growing in double digits, winning the sort of deals that assure excellent profits!

2.    Make your value compelling

The number of companies which expect their sales teams to hit targets without ensuring the product/ service really solves a customer problem/ pain, just blows my mind. Why would businesses waste so much money on an expensive sales team without doing that? It is crazy.

Some companies have worked out how to communicate a compelling value proposition and are accessing the great margins and revenue growth that follows. You can too. You simply need a value proposition that attracts customers in droves.

Just so we are clear, a value proposition is not a marketing claim on some brochure.
A value proposition is how you solve a big problem for a specific group of target customers – which no one else is solving.

Don’t copy others; it kills profits!  In the eyes of their customers, most suppliers in most industries look identical.  Consider banks. If you took the logos away, could you tell them apart? Now consider companies your industry…

Can your prospective customers easily see that your business solves their problems?

Here’s how can you tell for sure.  If your customers are spreading the word about how good you are, if sales are growing faster than your competitors’, if margins are good and customer loyalty is strong then your business is the “Honeypot” it should be. However, if your sales are flat or your margins are tightening, then your products or services are actually just commodities. It’s time to attract a lot more customers.

Companies are growing quickly, year after year – because they are Honeypots

“Honeypots” are companies that are growing at 15% or more, year after year, whatever the economy is doing. The value each and every one provides their customers beams out in the market.

An example is Slingshot SEO. They were a creative agency but realised they were in a fog. So they worked out where they excelled and decided to focus on search engine optimisation (SEO). The leadership team did not stop there. They chose to make each and every one of their customers successful, to the point where they could dominate their industry. Then they worked out exactly what they needed to do to make that happen. They created software to ensure their customers’ success and hired the very best SEO people in the world. In fact they pulled out all the stops. Now that is a powerful value proposition. Slingshot SEO grew at 3,597% over three years….. Wow!

Actions to turn your business into a Honeypot

  1. Find your customers’ pain.
    Spend time with them. Get under their skin. Ask them where they or their business is headed and what gets in their way. Persevere until you know exactly what wakes them up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
    Note:  Do not limit your thinking to the pain that is relevant to your business or you will miss the massive value of this step.
  2. Stand in their shoes.
    Putting yourself in their shoes, ask yourself how your business can help to resolve, or greatly ease, their pain. For best results forget your existing offering and start from a blank canvas. Define, in very concrete terms, what value you could offer that would make all the difference to them. Make it so specific and tangible that you bring it to life.
  3. Test it.
    Select a few trustworthy potential customers and see how they react to the value proposition you have now created. If they score less than 10/10, ask them to describe what worries them, ensure it really resonates and ask what would close the gap.
  4. Not marketing, delivery.
    Before you make any marketing claims ensure your business can deliver this value proposition each and every time. It is the consistent delivery that will get customers flocking to you in droves, telling their friends/ colleagues and willing to pay good margins.
  5. Spread the word.
    Once you delivering that 10/10 every single time, spread the word. Shout it from the rooftops. Do whatever it takes to ensure that your target customers understand exactly what you offer – where the honey is. Describe their pain so they know how well you understand them. Just remember – ensure that reality always exceeds their expectation.

Outstanding return on investment

The 5 steps above take time and effort. Having said that, when we have worked with clients we have cracked the hard part in one or two days. It is well worth the effort because the return on investment is always well over 20x. Look forward to a major increase in sales revenue!

Case Study

A Fintech client works with Accountants and Financial Directors. Following our advice they uncovered what worried their customers the most. They discovered their clients’ largest issue was the amount of time it takes to prepare information for and service their customers.

They realised that this problem dramatically limited the numbers of clients an adviser could look after, capping earnings considerably. As a result our client has developed a software system to significantly reduce the time required preparing information for and servicing their customers. Not surprisingly, by adding so much value, sales are increasing fast – AND they have the opportunity to totally transform their market!

3.    Quantify the value you provide

You can now hopefully see that your customers’ pain is a big issue for them. So having created a solution that solves that pain, then take time to quantify it.  Be really specific and give examples of other, similar clients. Then teach your sales team how to  make the benefit tangible and real to your clients.

For instance, we were recently working with a software company. Their system solves some major problems faced in the advertising world – saving their customers literally days of work. So they can go into their prospects saying “Our system will cost you x but, from what you have told us, you will save y”. As the value is so good – the saving is five times greater than the cost – there is actually no longer a decision for the client to make. He cannot lose.

And the client mentioned above in the Fintech market went on to work out how much time the accountants/ Financial Directors save. They also know the amount they tend to make each year. With those 2 figures each prospect can see that the cost of the product is only 10% of the savings they will make. Sales are amazingly easy now!

How will you begin?

You can start right now with the information provided.  This is the full method to growing revenue and profit in your business.

But we understand that these are not easy discussions, and there are many people in the business to get on side.  As you can tell, we’ve been through the process many times with many different types of businesses and can help you through it too, if you wish.

Strategenic works with CEOs, Boards and business leaders across the UK, Europe and USA, We specialise in speeding up growth, year after year.  All our clients have enjoyed excellent results. They have all cleared the barriers to sales success.

A few client examples:

  • An international computer hardware business increased revenue by £29m under a year
  • A global software firm started to enjoy far greater sales through their main channels and improved customer satisfaction improved the bottom line
  • A technology company increases sales by 400% in under 3 years
  • A Fintech business where sales had stalled, started to work as a team and developed a value proposition with the power to totally transform their industry

What clients say:

“Thank you for helping us to develop strategies to improve sales performance. Your expert support proved very beneficial in helping us to grow the business.”
Nigel Norman, MD, Sarsen Technology

“When I look back at how hard we have worked, what we have achieved and where we are headed, I realise working with you on your growth strategy was one of my good decisions.” Mark Oliver, MD, Raytheon Professional Services.

“Jane Bromley of Strategenic Ltd speeds up business growth through her sound strategic planning ability. Recommended.” Graeme Hogg, Director Business Strategy HP

Are you ready to talk?

If you’re a leader looking for results like the ones Jane describes here, Jane meets a few senior Executives each month to help them define exactly what they wish to achieve and to investigate how they can make faster progress.

Just call or email Jane to see if she has any slots left this month:

Tel:        +44 (0)207 0604 006
Email:    enquiries@strategenic.co.uk
http://strategicplanningforgrowth.co.uk/

Sales Not to Dos

Some of these are obvious and some more subtle.  All are based on 30 years hard-won sales experience!

Please give each some thought about how you could apply it to a sales situation.  That way you will be preparing yourself to behave differently in a particular situation in the future:

  1. While “the customer is always right”, they rarely know precisely what they want. So never take a customer or prospects’ requirements as gospel; check their understanding and use your expertise to help them get what they need rather than what they think they want.
  2. Never tell your prospects or customers “You need”. Rather explore options with them.
  3. Never talk too much. I know you’ve got a lot to say, but the best way to help your client buy from you is to listen to them.  The old adage is that you have two ears and one mouth – use them in that ratio!
  4. Never take a customer’s business for granted. You are always one step away from losing your customer, however safe you feel.
  5. Never make a bad first impression. No matter what anyone claims, the first impression someone has of you sticks and changing that first impression can be impossible.
  6. Never email in anger. You will regret it…  If you must, type the email, then save it in drafts for 24 hours before taking another look.
  7. Never over promise. It’s very easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and promise that your product or service can do all sorts of stuff that you hope it may one day.  You may get an order, but you’ll get an upset customer too.
  8. Never think short term. A new customer will rarely give you their biggest order first, so build a relationship to secure their business consistently.
  9. Never miss a deadline. Excuses just don’t cut it.
  10. Never lie. You will get caught out!

I hope you have found our “not to dos” useful.  We love sharing great sales hints and tips, so please do stay tuned for the next article…

Are you the leader your company really needs?

Most of our material is about growing sales but every so often we stray into related areas – especially when we have an acknowledged expert to bring you and their input will directly impact your sales growth.  Our friend and colleague Jane Bromley has been helping Directors and Owners of businesses become outstanding leaders for over 15 years and really knows her stuff.

Here’s what she has to say on becoming an outstanding leader…

Let’s be honest – most companies lack strong leadership.

Business people flounder without good leaders. What is more, people need someone who will ensure the company is going somewhere worthwhile. It brings a bounce to their step, making them much more effective. And, when you lead well, you will make a HUGE impact.

Example: A great leader

For a while now I have been working with a lovely professional services business. The Managing Director was brand new in. He was determined to transform the business so he started by defining the leader he wanted to be. Then, as it was in his nature, he spent a lot of time listening to the employees and solving their problems. As a result, they started to work more effectively, more creatively. Teams started to become more aligned and the staff felt encouraged. Morale improved. He knew he did not have the strategic ability to define where the business was going or the strategies needed to get there but he was smart enough to know he did not need to know all the answers and found external help to do just that. The business’ results started to improve quickly. Everyone began to feel part of something really worthwhile and confident that the company knew how to get there. Productivity increased dramatically. So did the results!

When someone decides to become a really good leader it has a surprisingly positive impact on their success; on the results their company enjoys and, above all, on how productive, fulfilled and engaged their staff become.

Two surprisingly powerful steps to become the leader your company needs

Step 1 – Define the leader you want to become

First of all, draw two columns on a piece of paper.

In the left hand column, list all the characteristics of someone who would be a great leader for your team or organisation. Have some fun with this. So, first of all, list all the ideas you immediately think of (e.g. good listener, decisive, inspiring confidence) until you look at your list and think: “Yes. This is what we need!”

When you have done that, think of some people you regard as great leaders. For instance, Steve Jobs . . . or Jack Welch of GE.

What was Steve Jobs renowned for? What made him such a good leader? Well… I think it was his passion; total commitment; focus on products with huge potential; determination to create top product quality; desire to push the boundaries and ability to inspire such enthusiasm and confidence that thousands wanted to follow his lead. When he re-joined Apple, if you spoke to an Apple employee you got the impression of an inspired army of people marching “unstoppably” where he led. This was despite the fact that he was a far from perfect Manager. He brought about impressive people alignment – across the whole company. Does that spark more ideas for your list?

On the other hand, Jack Welch brought outstanding focus, drive and passion into GE. His decision that GE would only remain in markets where they could be the market leader or number 2 meant that, in just a few years, GE had refocused totally and had 14 global, market leading businesses. Wow! Under his guidance GE became the most valuable company in the world. Outstanding leadership!

Which other inspiring leaders can you think of, in business, sports or any other area? You do not want to write a thesis here – just the aspects you think are important. Go with the flow…

Now consider the following:

  • What is the leadership style you want?
  • What type of leaders would you like to be known for?
  • Will you be results focused?
  • What do you envisage your team/ business achieving?
  • What impact will you have on the people in your team because, after all, that is what leadership is all about . . .
  • What will ensure you achieve excellent results?
  • What will the level of trust be like? Be precise about that. Not just “high trust”.
  • Finally, how will you inspire the staff to want to follow you?

Take at least 45 minutes to an hour to complete your list. Play with it. Have fun. This is your creation – so enjoy creating it.

Now, in the second column, simply compare objectively where you stand today against each characteristic from the first column.

Take all pressure off. Have fun with it. This is an exercise for you to enjoy.

So, there is a gap between where you are and where your future leads is. Which two or three areas will make a big difference to your ability to lead your team?

Example: A Pan-European Managing Director

I worked with an MD of a pan-European construction business. He was brand new into the role, although he had been a Director before. We went through this same exercise. Then we worked out how we could close the gap to become the leader he wanted to be. It only took six hours of 1:1 coaching. As a result, the company saw an immense difference:

  • His direct reports appreciated his leadership far more
  • He felt so much better in himself – he really knew who he was and what he stood for
  • All the staff across the company began to feel more confident about the business
  • The business aligned and revenue grew for the first time in five years

So you can see how incredibly powerful this exercise is!

Step 2- How to fast track your progress as a leader

This step will bring the leader in you to life – in a tangible way.

Now you have defined the leader you want to be, think of two or three scenarios where better leadership would be extremely useful in your business. What impact you would like to have in those scenarios? Envisage the result you desire. Go through the basics first – if one scenario is a meeting, how can you set it up to have the greatest impact? Which questions would you ask? How will you ensure that you gain insight from everyone in the team to gain maximum benefit? What outcome will you achieve together? How will you feel during and afterwards? How would you like the team to feel?

Then . . . just see yourself there. See how you do it. See it happening before your very eyes. How do you feel? Luxuriate in it going well. Enjoy it.

Did you know that, when your brain imagines something happening it cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality? So, once you have envisaged this scene, your brain will persevere until it works out how it will make it happen.

So, if you wish to fast-track your progress, visualise each scene quite a few times, just as you would like them to happen. It will help you a great deal.

Example: A Fintech Software Director

We ran a similar exercise in a Fintech company. I was working with a Director and I guided him through these two steps. Due to challenging circumstances, he was far too hands-on in his job, bogged down in day to day issues instead of providing the leadership staff were crying out for. In just six single hours of 1:1 coaching, he defined the leader he wanted to become. He suddenly saw how he could empower his team to love their work and achieve so much more. It was incredible to see the change in him.

Summary

There are simple, actionable steps you can take today that will make a big difference to your leadership in your business.  If you wish to get some help in this process, we have a great track record helping leaders fulfil their potential.

A few client examples:

  • An £11m creative agency more than doubled sales and profits in 3 months€5m increase in sales in 6 months, followed by 12% growth pa for pan-European division of Raytheon – where sales had previously stalled for 5 years
  • A technology company increased sales by 400% in under 3 years
  • A Fintech business where sales had stalled, started to work as a team and developed a value proposition their customers love, with the power to totally transform their industry

What clients say:

“Thank you for helping us to develop strategies to improve sales performance. Your expert support proved very beneficial in helping us to grow the business.”
Nigel Norman, MD, Sarsen Technology

“When I look back at how hard we have worked, what we have achieved and where we are headed, I realise working with you on your growth strategy was one of my good decisions.” Mark Oliver, MD, Raytheon Professional Services.

“Jane Bromley of Strategenic Ltd speeds up business growth through her sound strategic planning ability. Recommended.” Graeme Hogg, Director Business Strategy HP

Are you ready to talk?

If you’re a leader looking for results like the ones Jane describes here, Jane meets a few senior Executives each month to help them define exactly what they wish to achieve and to investigate how they can make faster progress.

Just call or email Jane to see if she has any slots left this month:

Tel:         +44 (0)207 0604 006
Email:    enquiries@strategenic.co.uk
http://strategicplanningforgrowth.co.uk/

My Sales Machine is up and running

“How can I get everyone in the sales team selling effectively while tracking their activity & sales, without drowning in paperwork and complex systems?”

This is the question ‘My Sales Machine’ answers…

How?

There are two parts to My Sales Machine; an intelligent system that helps sales people focus on the important stuff they need to do each day and a set of dashboards that track individuals and the team, showing outcomes and issues in ways that allow you to take action quickly.

No more waiting for accounts to tell you how much has been billed or getting sales people to manually report activity and sales.  My Sales Machine tracks all activity and allows you to focus on the exceptions: the sales that should have closed but haven’t, the leads that have not been followed up yet; the things that if you know about them early, you can take action on and make a real difference.

Sales people love My Sales Machine.  It shows them what they need to know: which marketing emails were interesting to a lead, which web pages they have visited, all previous sales activity and even what they say about themselves on LinkedIn!  Sales people get enough information to be effective but not so much that it becomes overwhelming.  They can be effective in their job, whether in the office or on the road, with the system automatically logging activity and sales so they don’t waste time on manual reporting.

So what is My Sales Machine?

My Sales Machine has been developed over the last 8-years by three ex Sales and Marketing Directors frustrated at the complex and expensive systems on offer.  It is based on the Microsoft Dynamics Sales system with a standard set of configurations and customisations that will transform any sales department.

We’ve already done all the hard work to give you 80% out of the box.  My Sales Machine is then tweaked by us to give you the final 20% that is unique to your business.

You get three key benefits:

  • Low Cost: Most of the work to set your system up has already been done, so you don’t have to pay for that.  Just a final configuration to your specific needs.  So you will get a low fixed price to implement the system.
  • Fast implementation: Systems are in and working and paying for themselves within 2 months, but we have implemented systems in a week or so where the client was in a real hurry.
  • Embody best practice: My Sales Machine actively drives sales.  The layout has been designed to guide sales people through their day so that they will be most effective.  When you implement My Sales Machine, you are getting a virtual sales manager to keep your team working efficiently.

The technical bits

You don’t need anything other than an Internet connection and a browser or smartphone to run My Sales Machine.  You may want to integrate your VoIP phone system and you will most likely want to integrate your email marketing system.  All this is straightforward and we work with outstanding companies to all provide these services for you.

Because My Sales Machine is built on Microsoft Dynamics, any / all of the integrations and solutions for this system can be used.  This includes integrations to everything from LinkedIn to Xero, web forms to Text messaging services.  Then there is the whole Microsoft ERP product range…

So your whole business can benefit from using My Sales Machine if you want to go that far.  Or you can use it to run your sales effectively.

Is My Sales machine right for me?

Almost any business will benefit from My Sales Machine but some will get more benefit than others.  The businesses most likely to get a great return are those that have a sales team and have or want to have sales targets and sales goals.

If you are just fulfilling orders off the web and don’t get to influence your buyers in any way, this is probably not the system for you.

Find out more

We love talking sales!  We’re passionate about generating business, sales systems, lead generation and everything that affects these areas.

Pick up the phone and talk to us on 01672 505050.

GDPR – what the F**k is that all about?

B2B marketing is being rocked by threats of losing whole databases and being unable to market services after 25th May 2018 – just 9 months away.

Really?

No, not really.  But there are some seriously hefty fines floating around and with the Government short of money, you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a fine up to a maximum of €20 Million or 4% of worldwide turnover, whichever is the greater!

So it makes sense to pay attention to GDPR and make sure you cover off the basics.

The aim of this article is to give you an update as of now (August 2017) so that you can start making some changes that will position you well when 25 May 2018 rolls around and GDPR descends on the UK like a toxic cloud of EU Bullshit that kills your sales and marketing efforts.

Limited Scope

I’m talking here about how GDPR affects your B2B sales and marketing: your data; email campaigns; social media; telemarketing, etc.

There are different aspects to GDPR that cover other areas of business such as: holding data on staff; employment contracts; payroll; logistics and so on.  I don’t know enough about these to advise you appropriately but we do know people, so get in touch if you want help.

If you hold any data on young people or anything deeply personal on individuals, get good, expert advice as there are changes in these areas.

What are the new rules when applied to B2B marketing?

This is the easy bit.  As things stand now, GDPR rules will be broadly similar to the Data Protection Act but beefed up with massive levels of fines and a focus on compliance:

  • You can email contacts in Limited Companies, LLPs, PLCs and Government institutions without needing an opt in as long as you give them an opt out. This does not actually rely on GDPR rather PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations).  Also see the “Disclaimer” below regarding the future of PECR.
  • You need opt in permission to email sole traders, partnerships and other unincorporated businesses / individuals based on the new GDPR requirements.
  • The rules about the opt in have changed so you have to be open about what you are going to do with their data, not use coercion to get them to opt in and not pre-fill tick boxes or make service delivery conditional upon opt in.
  • There is a load of stuff about the “right to be forgotten”, only holding data while you actually need it and profiling data but frankly the issues in the three points above are far more pressing.

As you can see, not that much has really changed for B2B marketing and that’s not surprising as we are not the target of this legislation; this is data privacy legislation so it’s focussed far more on giving citizens rights to control what data is held on them and what is done with it.  The legislation is very different to the Canadian “Can Spam” rules that were specifically targeted towards email marketing and B2B businesses.

So why the fuss?

Because most businesses are not compliant with the toothless DPA and will get caught by the much fiercer GDPR.

You should be able to carry on using most of your data without getting everyone to opt in or double opt in as long as you understand the concepts of compliance and get your data in order.

But you have to get your data in order…

Your sales and marketing

If you are anything like most B2B businesses, you have a database of contacts in a CRM with your sales people holding other data in spreadsheets and email; while marketing have their own email marketing system and hold contact data from shows and events all over the place.

Whatever the case, you have a mess of contact data in systems and files.  Not only is this data duplicated all over the place but it’s also incomplete, out of date and generally shite.

Your biggest issue in complying with GDPR therefore is to get your data into good order and up to date so that you can prove you are following the rules.

You are likely to be tripped up by:

  • Duplicate data
  • Unstructured data (spreadsheets, csv exports, etc, etc)
  • Incomplete data
  • Old data
  • Wrong data

Action

The good news is that you can actually use GDPR to make money!  Yes, really…

Imagine for the moment that your data was all held in one central CRM system with complete records de-duplicated and used by both sales and marketing types.

Not only would compliance be a breeze, but you could also make great use of the data to run campaigns, generate leads, track engagement and close sales far more effectively than you are now.  My advice is to use GDPR as a reason to get your data in order; put it into a truly effective sales system then work it hard to generate you sales.

Sorting the data

You probably need external help to get your data in order.  Fact.  The people that got you into this mess won’t be able to get you out of it; you need outside help to sort your data.

(shameless plug)

The right help will be able to get all your data into one place and de-dupe it against a sensible field like email address.  Then you need to segment your data.  Limited Companies, LLPs, PLCs and Government institutions you can ignore for now as you can carry on marketing to them under legitimate Interest/PECR.

The rest of your data is either unknown or unincorporated sole traders or partnerships.  This needs the most urgent attention as you MUST NOT email them after May next year.  A smart person will be able to help you reduce the unknowns through data appending.  Now you have a pile of contacts that you want to get opted in to your marketing.

Sensible precautions

No one expects rules on data permission to be relaxed; it is more likely rules will tighten over time.  My advice to you is to get as many of the contacts on your database as possible opted in to your communications.  Then you are covered as rules change into the future.

Finally, once you have your data in order, don’t let your team screw it up again!  Load your data into a sensible CRM system with good duplicate detection processes and make it a capital offence to store any data in a spreadsheet ever, no matter what the special case.

What now?

I hope you found this overview and action plan on GDPR useful.  It is presented “as is” and the usual disclaimers apply around taking proper advice blah blah blah…

But you have some decisions to make and action to take.  I’d love the chance to help you and maybe some of our services will be useful to you as you seek the elusive compliance gold star while creating a world class sales system on its back.  Get in touch if this sounds interesting.

Disclaimer – please do read this

The opinions I have expressed above are based on current legislation and what is known of GDPR at this point (August 2017).  However there is talk that PECR (the law we rely on to be able to carry on emailing B2B contacts without opt in) could be amended at the same time as GDPR, possibly requiring opt in for B2B emailing.

If PECR is changed, the basis on which the opinion above has been offered changes completely.

Such is the madness of this legislation!

What do the next 2 years hold for email marketing?

crystal ballSo unless you’ve been trekking the arctic tundra for the past 6 months the chances are you’ve heard of the new laws on electronic communication and data protection. (Hint: they’re huge, their impact even more so…)

But the question everyone is asking is how much will these laws change everything we think we know about B2B and B2C marketing?

We’ve been scouting the web for answers, here are some of the most interesting predictions:

Trust will become crucial

“Concerns of government surveillance have filtered down into corporate surveillance. Digital citizens are increasingly questioning the motives of the tools that help us buy such as advertising, comparison services and loyalty programmes” Ryan Garner

When Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents back in 2013, it illustrated that the amount of data that could be held on an individual was staggering, and it shattered the trust of millions.

The rejection of Safe Harbor and the data laws passed since are consequence of this wake up call.

What this means is that no individual is going to consent to the storing and use of their personal information without assurance and more importantly trust in that company.

So it looks like the focus is going to shift for the world of email marketing. It’s no longer going to be about sending emails to as many people as possible, most of whom you don’t know from Adam. It’s going to get personal: knowing those you contact, and tailoring your offerings to suit their needs. The only way to boost their marketing skills is with the help of these multi-channel marketing services.

Data quality not quantity

“Opt-in lists have always performed much higher than their opt-out counterparts for one defining factor. The open rate is higher, leading to greater figures in engagement, click through and conversion rates” – CommuniGator

We all know that warm data performs better than cold, and this opt-in data will be red hot. By default opt-in data will be up to date, and include contacts that want to hear from you, with a genuine interest in your offerings.  

CommuniGator for instance, have achieved click through rates of 37% on opted-in data, vs a click through rate of just 5% on cold data.

Although the size of your database will inevitably shrink, the quality of what remains will be far higher, meaning you’ll be able to spend more of your time nurturing the leads that matter most. 

Content overload

“Too often, content has not had the scaffold of data, insight and creativity to support it. We have jumped the gun getting personal without building the foundations” – Sarah Hooper

As Sarah Hooper points out “data intelligence and compelling content are vital ingredients in delivering a personalised experience in the customer journey” – something we’ve already established as being key.

This ties in strongly with the predictions of Graham Smith – whose blogs are a fantastic resource for everything related to GDPR and lead generation.

Smith suggests that though the best way to get opt-ins is by promoting valuable content, as more companies go down this route, more and more content will appear until it reaches “saturation point”.

He predicts that those who already deliver good content will see response rates fall, and new entrants to content marketing will be left unimpressed by the figures.

The best way to combat this is by producing unique content that will deliver real value to your prospects and give them good reason to opt-in to your campaigns and not your competitor’s.

The Canadian Scenario

Predictions are all well and good, but what about certainty? How can we know how this will affect us if no one’s done it before? Well back in 2010, the Canadian government started down the same road we are now travelling; consent and opt-ins are old news to our friends across the pond.

So what can we learn?

  1. Being prepared and starting early made a huge difference to opt-in rates
  2. Those that didn’t know / left it to the last minute struggled
  3. Opt in rates are typically between 12% and 20%, however, marketing results were equal or better than before the laws
  4. A strong, well optimised CRM was essential to log and prove consent

We’ve all got a lot more to learn from the Canadians; the insight they can offer us into this new and unfamiliar field will be unparalleled. We’re currently in talks with several companies to bring you the latest intel, tips and tricks to really up your opt-in rates. Watch this space.

In the meantime, check out the growing library of resources on the new laws here.

If you would like any help or advice on any of the above issues, or about the new laws in general, get in touch on 01672 505050 or drop an email to gdpr@nett-sales.com

Thanks and credit to the following for their great insight:
Skip Fidura, Chairman of the UK DMA Email Marketing Council
Prof. Christoph Bauer, CEO at ePrivacy GmbH
Andy Dickens, CEO Virtual Sales Ltd
Sarah Hooper, Amaze One
Graham Smith
Ryan Garner, Director of CitizenMe

 

What can Canadian opt-in laws tell us about the real life implications of GDPR?

canada-flagThe new marketing opt-in laws commonly known as GDPR are due to come into force in May 2018. They’re plagued with vagaries, risk, and uncertainty and give marketers only a small window of opportunity to get consent from their prospects before the axe falls.

At such a time we often look round for help, someone who can reassure us that though the changes coming our way are terrifying, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. In this regard we turn to Canada.

We’ve been in contact with Adina Zaiontz, founder and director of Napkin Marketing to discuss the experience of gaining consent and opt-ins as well as some of the unforeseen bumps similar laws have brought along the way.

CASL

CASL stands for the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, which came into effect July 1st, 2014.

In a nutshell, it prohibits most organisations from sending electronic sales and marketing communications to any business or individual unless that person has given consent though some exemptions apply.

What’s more, after July 1, 2017, individuals will be able to sue any entity they believe is sending them unauthorised messages. Organizations that don’t comply risk serious penalties, including criminal and civil charges, personal liability for company officers and directors, and penalties of up to $10 million CDN. As you can imagine, this has had a serious impact on the way B2C and B2B marketing is done there.

Sounds a tad similar to GDPR right?

The implications for marketing are very similar, but the difference is that Canada is already treading the path toward opt-in only campaigns and here in the UK we’ve barely started.

What can we learn?

The insight Canadian companies such as Adina’s can offer will be absolutely invaluable in this unfamiliar territory and will provide a solid foundation from which you’ll be able to build your own opt-in campaigns. We sat down and discussed the four major implications the laws had for Canadian marketing campaigns and what the impact could be here in the UK:

Value is crucial

“CASL has made businesses realise that they have to be much more creative and strategic with the campaigns they send. You have to provide value in these campaigns and give people good reason to sign up or opt-in to your list, and continue delivering value so they don’t unsubscribe” – Adina Zaiontz

Giving a prospect a reason to sign up or continue reading is essential for any successful campaign; the same principle will apply to opt-ins.

For Adina, the most successful opt-in campaigns were the ones that offered prospects value, benefits or useful knowledge in the form of eBooks, advice or special offers.

They gave people a stronger motivation to sign-up or consent to marketing as there was a tangible benefit for them.

Opt-in rates will vary

“Opt in success rates often depend on what kind of company is asking for the permission and how important they are to their client’s lives. People will likely opt-in to an accounting firm’s mailing list so they don’t miss their tax filing reminder. Yet they may not care to opt-in and keep in touch with the company they ordered their office sofa from in 2008 as it is not a vital business relationship. If you’re that sofa company you’ll need to come up with more creative ways (coupons, specials, announcements) to prove your value, ensuring you gain and keep that client’s opt-in and engagement” – Adina Zaiontz

No business’s experience of opt-in campaigns will be exactly the same. For those that offer essential services it’s going to be about ensuring your offering can compete against other providers.

For more niche businesses, opt-in campaigns are an opportunity to promote and emphasise the unique aspects of your product.

We’re not all the same, and as Adina noted it’s about being creative and proactive with your campaigns and ensuring you stand out in what is about to become a very crowded market.

Being proactive will make a difference

“One week before the CASL deadline in 2014 Canadians got thousands of emails from everyone they’d ever met, done business with, or ever heard of all asking for consent. Imagine every professional, consultant, retailer or company you’ve ever done business with or given an email address to emailing you for permission to stay in touch. All in the same week. Any company asking for consent around this time likely got really low opt in rates because they were simply one of many hitting the customers’ inbox” – Adina Zaiontz

Starting early turned out to be huge advantage, particularly for the companies who had to work harder for opt-ins.

It can take a number of ‘touches’ before a prospect engages and the same applies to asking for consent – it takes time. With that in mind maximise on the time left with a series of emails that will:

Build up prospects’ awareness of your company and by extension their trust
Offer a broad range of content that will resonate with the different people within your campaign and ensure there is something everyone wants to opt-in to
Don’t let the opt-in request be the first time your clients get a promotional email from you. That opt-in request should come after they have received a few messages from you that demonstrate your business value and establish a relationship with them. So they have a reason to choose to remain on your mailing list.

Put in the infrastructure

“Companies have to live under the assumption that they may one day get audited by the government and they will need to be able to provide documented proof of consent, or face hefty fines. Smart companies are being proactive on this by maintaining opt in/ communication records or databases and tracking them through a CRM system.” – Adina Zaiontz

It’s all well and good if you manage to get your prospects to consent to further marketing contact, but what if you need to prove it?

Would you, when asked, be able to quickly and easily provide documented proof that a particular individual consented to your marketing along with the time and date that consent was received?

Corporations in violation of CASL are already being hit with significant fines and you can expect the ICO and EU to follow this precedent. As such, putting a CRM or email marketing software in place that will track client communication is highly recommended.

The million dollar question – will it be worth it?

“If you do a good job asking for permission then you can expect about 30-40% of prospects to consent. It does seem like a big hit to lose that much of your “prospect list”, but on the other hand if 60% were people who weren’t interested in hearing from you anyway, do you really want to keep communicating with them?” – Adina Zaiontz

It’s something we all want to know. Will the loss of at least 60% of our carefully cultivated databases be justified in any way? It could be.

A list of warm leads will always have a higher response rate than a list of cold data, always has, always will.

By default your opt-in data is comprised of people who have consented to your marketing and have done so for a reason – they want to hear from you and are genuinely interested in your offerings.

In summary

The most important thing here is to build a structured marketing campaign that offers value and good reasons for prospects to opt-in. Starting early will be a huge advantage and here in the UK we have a window of just under 2 years. As Adina emphasised to us:

“Because the law hasn’t yet come into force in the UK you can really use the opportunity of starting early and asking for mailing consent now to ensure you’re ahead of the curve. When the law does come into effect you’ll find yourself in a strong position with more of your list intact.

Use the time to put in place the infrastructure to gain and document consent, you’ll need an email provider, webforms, CRM, and a range of other processes to really maximise time you’ve got to get consent”

More info

Thanks once again to Adina Zaiontz for her time and expertise in this area. You can visit the Napkin Marketing home page here or take a look at some of the CASL related content available on their blog.

Alternatively you can check out the CASL homepage here…

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article then get in touch on 01672 505050 or drop us a line to gdpr@nett-sales.com

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