B2B Cold Calling in a Digital Sales World: (Does it still work?)

by Angeline Plesek, Online Marketing Contributor

They said radio would die when television came on the scene.

Nearly 70 years later, radio has stood the test of time side by side with television through the decades.

can-chat-chatting-500Just like the age old debate between these two mediums, now there is a similar contest going on in the B2B sales environment —the question is whether or not old-time cold calling is still applicable in an ever increasingly digital world.

According to a survey conducted by Software Advice in 2012 titled, B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Surveywhen marketers were asked which channels yielded the best results for producing quality leads, in-house email marketing came in at the top followed by search engine optimization. Even though these digital channels came in first and second in popularity, cold calling still came in a close third.

So, to dismiss cold calling would be foolish, right?

Proponents of cold calls still swear by them because apparently they are still proving to be a way to generate good sales leads in some industries.

When it comes to cold calling, Steve Spencer, Director of Recruitment for Managed Information Technology and Print Services at the Morisey-Dart Group, says, “I cold call everyday in my business for one reason—it works!  My prospects are senior managers and C-level individuals.  It has been apparent to me that they still use the phone even though the social media channel and others have been well developed. They are very busy and don’t have time for social media any more than they take time to surf the Internet. Productivity is all important to this group and effectiveness is all important to me. The clients I call on in the MPS space still prefer the phone. Some of them do use LinkedIn and a few use Twitter; however, the phone is still King.”

On the other side of this argument, there are those that are less enamored with cold calling like Mike Volpe, CMO of Hubspot. He was recently part of a panel discussion on a Google+ Hangout session where panelists were asked whether cold calling still works in B2B lead generation.

Volpe commented, “I’m not going to say that no one gets a ROI out of it anymore, but it’s not at all the first thing that you should be investing in. I think there are other things that have a much lower cost to acquire new customers and also annoy people a lot less.”

He goes on to say that for about every 200 people you contact, you may actually get only one person as a customer, but in the meantime you have annoyed the other 199. His feeling is that the phone should be used primarily to contact people that have already expressed an interest first through other digital channels.

Isn’t it possible to strike a balance?

Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe it depends on the demographics within the target market you call on, or maybe it’s just the culture of the industry you deal with day to day. In any case, couldn’t there still be room for cold calling, email marketing, social media, search engine optimization, and various other digital channels when it comes to B2B lead generation?

Using a newer medium such as social media can help to warm up for cold calls, using each to fuel the other to get to the end result of boosting your ROI in the end.

People still listen to the radio today even nearly 70 years since television was introduced and has managed to reinvent itself throughout the decades even to the point of Internet radio—in spite of its visual counterpart.

Maybe the cold call still has its place in B2B sales and marketing, and can survive alongside the digital media channels as long as there are prospects that are still open to it—at least for the time being.

Test Results Revealed: How Listing a Phone Number Increased Web Page Visits by Over 18%


Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

I write a lot about tweaking and testing your business web pages to see what elements perform the best. This week’s article is about how not only listing a phone number on a checkout web page performed better, BUT how the right phone number on a checkout page increased visits by over 18% according to a blog post published by Creative Direct Marketing Group.

A flower shop business decided to test two different phone numbers on their checkout page…a local number and a toll-free phone number. THE WINNER: the local number.

You might say, “Why would this be?—I mean wouldn’t people outside of the immediate area rather have a toll-free number listed for their convenience?”

While this is probably true, it may be that a “local” phone number gives the perception that the business is more accessible…(true or not, noticed I said perception).  A toll-free number may have given the appearance of a business far off in the distance somewhere.

Result: The local phone number may have lessened some of the mental hesitancy and anxiety a prospect may feel when buying online.

In any case, I think contact information (and a phone number especially) can make a prospect feel a lot more comfortable about handing over his hard-earned money when making a purchase online.

As the article said, “Clearly, Flowers Across Melbourne’s prospects were more comfortable with a local number than a toll-free number.”

I’d take it a step further and say a phone number (local or not) gives more credibility than just an email—it just depends on your target market.

I recently made a sizable purchase online for some software. I have to admit that I was very nervous because there was no phone number listed anywhere on the business website—not even on the support page. The only contact info listed were the standard email addresses… info@, support@, etc.

There is something comforting to a prospect to know that should there be a problem, he can pick up the phone, hear a voice, and deal with a real person.

I went against my better judgment and bought anyway because the owner of the website is pretty well-known in his market and has credibility…so I bought…and so far so good.

I’ll close by saying that many people are not like me and would not have taken the chance and purchased—this would have resulted in a lost sale.

You really need to take the time to get to know your prospects, tweak and test, and find out what works best for your business.

Simple Website Tweaks to Improve Your Online Conversions and Business Profits

Image courtesy of [stockimages] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [stockimages] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to a recent article posted on MarketingProfs.com called, “Five Rookie Website Mistakes You Can Fix Today”, regarding business websites and their online performance, “…common mistakes have big consequences, but they’re also fixable.”

I would add that to ignore them is to leave money on the table.

I think all marketers are guilty at one time or another of rushing to put out the next promotion—then sit back and wait.

The article written by Andy Crestodina addresses some really important elements on your business web pages that when tweaked, can really make a difference on your website’s conversions.

My favorite is Mistake # 1 Homepage Headline Hints…I teach on this all of the time. Why?

In my opinion, the headline is the first opportunity to “grab and keep” your prospect’s attention—and it really is one of the elements to fix quickly and easily to improve conversion rates once you know how.

Andy states, “Your homepage headline is clever but unclear.”
This is very common. Many people try so hard to write such a clever headline, that the prospect ends up scratching his head and walking away confused.

I encourage you to read his article if you are interested in learning more about simple website tweaks that can boost your online profits.


What is the Best Day to Send Out Your Sales Email? These Results Might Surprise You!

marketing calendarThere is nothing more disappointing than spending a good amount of time trying to craft the perfect email promotion just to have it ignored by your audience.

One of the questions that is always asked is, “What is the best day/time to send out my email promotions?”

The folks at Sidekick, (free email tracking software), recently analyzed over 6 million emails to try and gain insight into what factors have an impact on email open rates.

One of the factors they examined was what days of the week are the best to send out sales emails for improved response/open rate.

Here is what they found:

** Don’t give up on weekends when it comes to sending out your email sales messages!!

Apparently weekends are a good time to send your emails messages because everyone else thinks it’s not a good time, but the irony is that this means you’ll have less competition to fight in terms of getting your prospect’s attention and your message noticed.

Sidekick: “We found that 80% fewer emails are sent over the weekend.”

So what does this mean? Because of the lower volume of emails your prospects receive, they may be more likely to open your message since there is less email clutter for them to wade through on the weekends.

Their results show that when emails are sent over the weekend they are 10% more likely to get opened.

According to Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights, emails sent on Tuesdays have a chance of getting higher response because it is typically the highest web traffic day; however, it also means you are competing against more messages, so there is more traffic to beat out.

On Mondays people are just gearing up for the week and when they are bombarded with so many emails, they may be looking for messages to delete just to be able to plow through the stack.

The theory is that Tuesdays through Thursdays are best because everyone is back to a sort of “normal routine”.

Less email is sent on Fridays because the thought is that people are busy trying to tie up business before the weekend and/or distracted because the weekend is on the horizon.

Chaffey says, “Sending emails on Friday could be good since there is relatively little competition and you can pick up at home use. This is when we send our weekly roundup emails – it fits what we want to offer too.”

In my opinion, it all boils down to your audience. Trying and testing different days/times is the only way to find out what truly works best for your list of prospects.

You can read more about the results from Sidekick’s  2014 Email Open Rates Report here.


Why This Mobile Video Sales Page Was Able to Improve Conversions by Over 50%


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you use video on your web sales pages? This week’s post is about some interesting test findings regarding video and its use on mobile web sales pages…

According to a blog post on Video Brewery,


“That’s how much more likely website visitors are to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video. In addition, visitors who view videos stay on the site an average of 2 minutes longer than those who don’t view videos, comScore says.”

Now, let’s take that a step further and think about incorporating video into your mobile strategy…the following test results reveal that it might be something to consider.

Austin McCraw, Senior Director of Content Production, at Marketing Experiments MECLABS revealed some test results that showed how the use of video on web sales pages for mobile increased conversion by over 50%.  His conclusions showed that it isn’t just the use of video that is important–but also where the video is “placed” on the page relative to other page elements.

TEST GOALS:  The goal was to improve the number of landing page membership conversions on mobile devices. (they tested smartphones & tablets)

They did two different tests for each mobile device using the same exact video across all of the various test page layouts.

TEST 1: Mobile phone device with various landing page layouts that included the same  video

The original version of the page (the control) used this basic layout sequence:

* Headline
* Subhead
* Video
* Copy

There were 3 different new layouts (treatments) that were tested against the control…and the WINNER (Treatment A) boosted conversion by 34%!

Then a similar test was conducted for mobile tablet devices.

TEST 2: Mobile tablet device test  with various landing page layouts that included the same video

The original version of the page (the control) used this basic layout sequence:

* Headline
* Subhead
* Secondary Headline
* Video
* Copy

There were 2 different new layouts (treatments) that were tested against the control…and the WINNER (Treatment A) boosted conversion by 52%!

Now, here is WHY…

All of the treatments added an element that the original versions DID NOT have, a well-known, recognizable authority in the industry. They added her picture with some copy to the treatments, but they found that in both cases the WINNING versions “outperformed” the other Treatments even though they also used her picture…but WHY?

Video placement may have been key in the results…

It was important HOW the “sequence” or order of the elements were actually put on the page that boosted conversions in the WINNING sequenceversions.  McCraw said that the winning pages made it a priority to display the main content only AFTER building the problem and establishing authority.

In other words, in the cases where they introduced the video BEFORE the authority figure, conversions weren’t as good. It was important that the authority figure was shown before the video to build the product’s credibility.

THE CONCLUSION: “Sequencing is important in conversion improvement.”

The Marketing Experiments video that showcases this test is just the tip of the iceberg…McCraw taught so much more in his presentation. If you’re interested, you can view it here!

Subheadlines: Why They’re Important and How to Make Them Work!

Subheadlines: Why They’re Important and How to Make Them Work!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I write a lot about headlines, but recently I came across a quote by Victor Schwab in his book, “How to Write a Good Advertisement”—it reminded me that I neglect the headline’s “less popular” cousin, the subheadline.

As Schwab put it,  “Subheads are like ladder rungs which make it easier and more inviting for the reader to keep going down through more of the body matter of an advertisement.”

He goes on to explain that the weaker the rungs—the more likely your prospect’s interest will drop and you’ll lose him, as he will abandon your copy.

Ways to Make Your Subheadlines Work

Here are 4 subheadline tips to help make your copy stronger and keep your prospect engaged longer so you can persuade him to take action.

1) Use subheadlines to make your body copy appear more inviting

Too much text bunched up into long paragraphs can be unappealing to the eye and make your copy too overwhelming to read.  Use good subheadlines to break up the text so the prospect will want to continue to read your message.

According to Schwab,  a good rule of thumb is two short opening paragraphs and then your first subhead.

2) Use subheadlines to give your prospect a sneak peek of what’s about to follow in the next paragraph

Many times a prospect will just scan the subheadlines to figure out if he wants to continue into the next paragraph/s or use them to select what parts of the copy he wants to read.

You can write a subheadline that acts as a “teaser” for the copy to follow.

(hint: insert a benefit!)

3) Ask your prospect a question in your subheadlines to gain curiosity

Preferably ask a question that he would like the answer to immediately…(of course you need to answer it in the following paragraph)

4) Make your subheadlines stand out physically on the page

You can make your subheadlines grab your prospect’s attention more easily by making the font slightly larger and/or bold.

If your subheadlines are crafted just right—these little guys can be really powerful elements that keep your reader engaged.

Use subheadlines to walk your prospect through your copy step by step—and ultimately to get him to take the action you want him to take!


The Top 8 SEO Basics You Need to Know

SEO basics for small business websites, website seo optimizationSearch engine optimization (SEO) is an important component of any successful website, but do you know your SEO basics as well as you should? Here are top 8 fundamentals that you absolutely need to know about search engine optimization:

Basic #1 – Content is King

Search engine optimization for beginners always begins with good content. This basically boils down to making good on what you promise with your website. Provide the information you claim to provide, supply the goods or services you advertise, and any good relevant information you believe will be useful to your website visitors.

Basic #2 – Selecting Relevant Keywords/Phrases

Keywords are phrases that a target web visitor is most likely to type into a search engine when looking for specific products, services, or information. This means the content provided in your web pages needs to be seeded with the right keywords. The right balance between relevance and words with less competition needs to be achieved. The most relevant keywords may be too competitive with other sites, while less competitive keywords may not get a large enough number of searches.

Basic #3 – URL Links Need to Be Relevant

The Uniform Resource Locator (URL), or website address link of a website and its subsequent web pages must be as relevant to the content as possible. For example, a URL of www.feldonsflashlights.com/types/LEDflashlights will be more effective SEO-wise than www.feldonsflashlights.com/folder3/00034.htm because the former web address spells out what is in the page content, “LED flashlights.” Not only will the former URL be more attractive to search engines, but may also be easier for users to read and remember.

Basic #4 – Page <Title> Tag Must Match the Content

One of the most important and yet overlooked SEO basics is selecting a relevant title for the title tag of “each” page. It is imperative that the title be brief enough to fit in a small space but broad enough to effectively communicate the content of the web page. The title tag is very important because it tells the search engines what a page is all about. The title tag information shows up in the most upper-left hand corner of the computer screen for each page in a web browser.

Basic #5 – Use of the Description Meta Tags

Description meta tags go hand-in-hand with effective page titles because the description can be used to catch the attention of a web visitor. A good description meta tag and a call to action can convince a web visitor to actually click the link and enter the site. While some SEO experts have minimized the importance of this tag (because they say it is no longer important to search engines), the fact is that it is the text your web visitors see when they read your listing on the search engine results page and could be the one factor that gets a potential visitor to click or not based on what he reads.

Basic #6 – Use of Heading Tags (<H1><H2><H3>)

Once a web user lands on a page, he should see a relevant headline with keywords included that let him know he’s in the right place! This is another one of those SEO basics that many website owners overlook. Heading tags count towards the visibility of a website on search engines because the keywords included in these tags tells the search engines what the page is all about.

Basic #7 – Importance of Image File Names and the Alt Text Value

Using keyword phrases when naming image files to match the content of a web page, as well as, using keyword phrases in the “alt” value of an image tag, adds significant SEO value to a web page when search engines filter through images on a web page. Rather than naming a file something like, “picture2.jpg”-a much better file name for a search engine may be something like, “LED-flashlights-small.jpg” and including the same phrase as the image tag “alt” value.

This would look something like: alt=”Small LED Flashlights”

Basic #8 – Keep Learning…SEO is Always Changing!

Just like everything else in technology, the Internet is always changing-so is search engine optimization. This makes it important for anyone with a business web presence to continue to learn about changes in SEO and keep their website updated accordingly.

Keeping all these SEO basics in mind should arm you with the basic foundational knowledge needed to get you started in search engine optimization for your business website.

The Five Headline Ingredients

five headline ingredients for copyYou can write the most persuasive, selling copy ever…but if your prospect doesn’t make it past the headline, you’ve wasted your time. Capture your reader’s attention and move him or her into your copy by using at least one, if not more, of these five effective headline writing ingredients:

1) Appeal to the prospect – Use words such as “you,” “your” or words that imply you are speaking directly to the reader.

“You Can Look Younger in 10 Days,” or “See Your Wrinkles Disappear in 10 Days.” The use of you or your, or an implied use of “you” gives a personal tone to the headline. The reader feels as though you are speaking directly to him or her.

2) Mention the benefits – People buy products or services for their benefits. The prospect’s primary concern is, “What’s in it for me?” Mention at least one benefit in your headlines. Try to emphasize the primary benefit.

“Lose Weight and Look Great in 14 Days!” emphasizes weight loss to improve one’s appearance. Good health is also a benefit of weight loss, but most people care more about their appearance than their health. This headline emphasizes what most prospects perceive as the main benefit, and it grabs their attention.

3) Use current news in headline writing. You can make a headline sound like a news item to gain reader interest. Using words like “now,” “finally” or “at last” make the headline sound like the copy may be about something new or interesting. The reader wants to continue to read and find out what is “new”.

4) Use curiosity – Create curiosity in your headline writing. Ask questions such as, “Are You Paying Too Much for Your Monthly Utilities?” If the reader pays high power bills, this headline grabs his attention.

Use the curiosity technique properly so that it is relevant to the product. If you use curiosity to hook the reader and then write about something entirely different, the reader gets disappointed and stops reading.

5) Mention the product favorably – Show favor toward the product or service you are writing about by using complimentary adjectives in the headline. If you don’t sound enthusiastic about the product or service, it is difficult to get the prospect excited about it.

Rather than just writing, “The Mercedes ML63 AMG Outsells Automobiles in its Class Every Time!” write, “The All-New, High-Performance and Luxurious Mercedes ML63 AMG Outsells Automobiles in its Class Every Time!”

The success of your sales or ad copy depends on strong headline writing. You only have a moment to capture your prospect’s attention and persuade him or her to continue to read your copy. Use these headline ingredients to increase your chances of capturing attention, keeping it and making a sale!

Boost Your Website Traffic by Changing Your Online Marketing Attitude

boost-web-traffic, optimization of website, how to optimize a website for seoWhen most business marketers decide to create a plan to boost their website traffic, they think in terms of fulfilling their own online marketing needs.

What will “I” get out of this? How can “I” boost my web traffic? What can “I” do to increase online sales?

Let’s face it, you are in business to make money, but as crazy as it sounds, this is the wrong approach to driving web traffic. The questions above should be geared toward fulfilling your users’ needs, not your own. The object of the game is to attract users; you need to appeal to their likes and interests. So, how you do it? You just need to change your online marketing attitude so that you serve your audience’s needs rather than your own.

Here are five easy steps to changing your online marketing attitude…and ultimately increasing your website traffic:

Step 1: Know your audience. As elementary as this sounds, you need to put yourself in their shoes. How can your product or service solve their problems? What’s in it for them? They really don’t care about how wonderful your company, product, or service is…they care about what it can do for them. Don’t think about yourself; think about your audience.

Step 2: Research the relevant keywords. Determine what keyword terms your users would search for to find your product or service. Stay away from industry-terms that may be beyond the scope of their knowledge. What is common knowledge to you, may not be to your audience; especially in the early stages of their product search.

Step 3: Dump the corporate-speak. Talk to your audience using conversational language. Don’t sound too corporate or stuffy. Speak as if you were face to face trying to sell them. Use the words, “you” or “yours”. Talk to them, not above them.

Step 4: Give them something to come back for. A great way to find favor with search engines, especially Google, is to give your audience loads of helpful information. Post articles that are of interest to your users on relevant subjects. Building an article repository of sorts will keep them coming back. They will want to check back to see what you’ve got in store for them. The more useful information the site posts, the more Google and other search engines take notice. It looks as though the site is a resource for the users…and Google likes that. Learn more about this by reading Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

Step 5: Establish and keep an ongoing relationship with your users. Now you’ve got them, you’ve kept them coming back for more useful information…it’s time to build an ongoing relationship with them. You need to build trust so that eventually they will purchase your product or service. Give them a “special offer” such as a “free” report, e-book, or anything to capture their email address in return. Once they agree to opt-in to your email list, you will have the opportunity to keep in touch with them. Send them useful information and every once in a while…a little sales message. Don’t always bombard them with sales messages. Eventually you will gain their trust and they will buy.

It doesn’t take much, just a little online marketing attitude adjustment and you will be on your way to boosting your online web traffic, establishing ongoing relationships with your users…and converting that web traffic to sales.


Headline Test Shows Increase of 307% in Response… (how you can use the same tweaks to boost your online ROI)

You and you'reI saw a blog post titled, This Headline Tweak Boosted Response By 307%, and couldn’t pass up the chance to comment on the results.

I am a true believer in crafting headlines to get response—not so much clever headline writing, but headlines that have proven results by simply inserting certain ingredients.

This headline test shows how important adding these ingredients can be to boost your ROI.

The winning headline was:

“If you’re a retailer in need of fresh ideas and proven growth strategies, this book is for you!”

The post doesn’t really say why it won but I believe it is because it included “TWO” of the most important headline ingredients.

The words “you’re” and “you”— address the prospect directly. This is key in successful headlines. The competing headline didn’t use “you’re” or “you”. It addressed the prospect as “retailers”, thus grouping all prospects who read the headline into one impersonal group.

The other ingredient the headline included was benefits—“fresh ideas and proven growth strategies”—two things any struggling retailer would be looking forward to learning.

I encourage you to read the actual blog post and you can learn more about the Five Important Headline Ingredients here.