Ignition Community Live: Feed the Need for Leads59 min video / 55 minute read
Director of Marketing
Marketing Projects Manager
SCADA & MES Specialist
Vertech Industrial Systems
Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives
As an integrator, you’re always looking to generate leads for future projects. So does that mean that you constantly have to “sell harder” and chase a bigger market? Actually, many sales opportunities await in places that you might be overlooking. In this presentation combining live discussion and video, find out how you can get more sales leads from your existing customer base and your local area, and how to leverage your website and content to drive new customers your way. Don’t miss lead-generating best practices from some of the top marketing minds in the Ignition community!
Lauren: Well, hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Ignition Community Live. I'm very excited for today's Live, which we're calling Feed the Need for Leads. It's the 24th episode, believe it or not, in our Ignition Community Live series. To start off, I'd love to introduce myself. My name is Lauren Walters. I'm the Marketing Projects Manager at Inductive Automation, and I'm going to be moderating today's Ignition Community Live. Our featured speaker is Doug Dudley. Doug is the Director of Marketing here at Inductive Automation, and he's going to be presenting some expert tips for improving your marketing efforts. Doug, thanks so much for being here today. We're excited to have you. Can you tell us a little bit more about your role at the company?
Doug: Yeah, sure. I'm excited to be here, too. Thanks, Lauren. My name is Doug Dudley, I'm the Director of Marketing here at Inductive Automation. Been with the company, getting close to 10 years. Actually started with the company as a graphic designer and writer, and one of the first things they had me work on was a lot of our marketing content. So had the chance to write many webinars and case studies. And I've also had the chance to work on things like our event content. So if anyone's come to any of our Ignition Community Conferences, I've had a big hand to play in planning that content, as well as delivering some of that content like the keynote. So, got a chance to work with a lot of really talented people, a lot of our marketing campaigns. And I'm really excited to be here today, share some of that knowledge with this audience at this ICL.
Lauren: Yeah, we're excited, I'm excited to hear what we're going to share today. And we also are joined by two special guests who know a lot about integrator sales and marketing. We're thrilled they're here. Chris McLaughlin is the SCADA & MES Specialist at Vertech Industrial Systems, and Jeff Winter is the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Grantek. Thank you, guys, both, so much for being here today. Could you tell us a little bit more about your companies and what you do there? We'll start with you, Chris.
Chris: Hey, everyone. So yes, I'm Chris and Vertech is a systems integration firm with locations throughout the United States, and we specialize in automation, SCADA, MES and OT services. And my role, you see it as SCADA & MES Specialist, that's what I like to go by 'cause those are my two loves. Officially, within the company, my title is Director of Sales and Marketing. And so you could guess what I do a lot of within Vertech.
Lauren: Yes, it's a dual title. That works great. Jeff, how about you?
Jeff: Yeah, thank you. My name's Jeff Winter, and I'm with Grantek. We're a 200-ish person system integrator with offices in three different countries, and our focus is really on being an Industry 4.0 solution provider. I've personally been with the company about eight years. And in my current role, I lead our company's strategic initiatives around Industry 4.0, and really act as a bridge between the traditional marketing and sales role where my team attempts to productize our services into repeatable lines of business.
Lauren: That's awesome, we're thrilled to hear from both of you later in this Community Live. But for now, Doug, I'll hand it over to you to get us started on today's topic.
Doug: Yeah, sure. Thanks, Lauren. And thanks to our special guests for being here. I'm looking forward to a good conversation about this topic today. So our marketing team often gets asked for marketing tips by our integration partners. One question we get a lot is: How can I create more leads as an integrator? So today, we're gonna be answering that by looking at several things integrators can do to get more leads from their existing customers, their website, and their content. There's actually a lot of really practical things integrators can start doing right away to help generate more leads. And we're gonna talk about several of those things in today's webinar. Yeah, so let's jump right in.
Doug: We've actually gotten this question quite a bit, and so we made a video about it. This video is actually part of a larger video series that we call The Pitch, and The Pitch is a series of sales and marketing training videos, specifically aimed at our integration partners and distributors to help them learn how to sell and market Ignition more effectively. So to get things started, we're going to watch that video, and we're gonna have a... I'm gonna come back afterwards, have a really good Q&A on the topic. So in this video, a few things that we'll be covering are the easiest ways to create new leads from your existing customers, how to grow your local network, tips for using your website to create more leads, how to use content in your marketing, and ways to follow up on those leads.
05:03 [‘The Pitch’ video begins.]
Lauren: Hi! Welcome back to our sales and marketing training videos. I'm Lauren.
Shay: And I'm Shay. Today is all about one of the most crucial parts of any marketing effort, creating leads.
Lauren: We'll talk about how to get more sales leads by working with your existing customer base, growing your local network, leveraging your website and expanding awareness with great content.
Shay: We're back talking with Doug Dudley, our Director of Marketing. Thanks for being here again, Doug.
Doug: Yeah, no problem, excited to be here.
Lauren: So today's topic is about creating leads.
Lauren: And building your lead base. And normally, when we think about creating leads, we think about new people, making new connections. But you actually argue the best way to find leads is to start with your existing customers.
Doug: Yeah, and the biggest reason for that is there is no easier sale than the person who's already been sold. Your existing customers already like your product, they already trust your company. Your marketing has already worked on them, so they're gonna be much more likely to give you an additional sale. Maybe it's growing their use of Ignition inside their facility, from one machine to another, or from one plant to another. Maybe they're setting up the chain trying to make it an enterprise-wide architecture. Or maybe they have friends or colleagues in other companies that would also be interested in Ignition. If you can win the trust of that customer, instead of focusing on just making one more Ignition sale, actually try to win the trust of that customer and build a relationship there, you could potentially have a whole flood of new leads from inside that company or beyond from that relationship with that customer. So that's a way of looking at your existing customer base to find new potential leads for yourself.
Shay: So we had a tip on that, on maintaining these existing customers and being able to grow business based off of that, that lead that you've already nurtured and been able to make a sale to, which is to make sure that you are performing magic tricks a little bit, yeah?
Doug: Yeah, yeah. So this is actually something that Steve Hechtman was talking to me about, and he said that one of the best ways, especially with Ignition, one of the best ways that you can go in and make another sale is to go in to an existing customer who's had a problem, they've been hitting their head up against a wall because there's something they can't solve, and if you can go in there with Ignition and work a miracle for them, be an Ignition magician was the term he coined, you will just blow them away and win them over because you'll solve this problem that just seemed unsolvable, and you'll do it with very little effort. If you're able to do that, and Ignition gives you the tools to be able to turn those ideas into reality so quickly. If you can turn a proof of concept into a solution on your customer site, when they think you're just coming out there to do an evaluation, you can totally blow them away. You can be that Ignition magician, and they're gonna want you to come back and do more and more magic tricks for them to solve more and more of their problems. So that's another example of what we've talked about before about doing more for the customer, going above and beyond. And that can really help solidify that relationship so that they're gonna give you more and more and more leads to help you have more and more sales of Ignition, yeah.
Lauren: I know another thing you've mentioned before that Steve and Wendy have talked about is looking for jobs while you're on the job. Can you say a little more about that?
Doug: Yeah, Steve told me that as an integrator, the best marketers he had were his technicians that would go on the job site because they're there, they're building relationships, and they also have an opportunity to see opportunities on the plant floor. So if you go there with just the intention of solving that one problem, you might solve that problem. But if you're so laser-focused on that, you're very well gonna miss a lot of other opportunities for problem-solving that your customers have. They might not even know that there are opportunities. You might have ideas from things you've done on another customer site. If you see those opportunities and just share them with your customers, it's another example of doing more for them, being like, "Hey, you know, I just saw this thing over here. You know, I know I could use Ignition to solve this for you really quick. Maybe we can take a look at it." It's just another example of doing more for your customers, being that Ignition magician, and finding opportunities. 'Cause if you're able to find them on the job, you're getting paid and you're finding more opportunities to get paid down the road. It's another example of being able to create those leads from existing customers. So those are just all some different techniques that can really help turn your existing customer base into even more and more and more work for you.
Shay: Another piece of creating leads is figuring out where you want to look for those leads, where do you want your future customers to be. And oftentimes, we tend to want to look big because if we're looking at a big area, that's going to equate to lots of customers, is kind of the mindset. Can you speak to maybe why that's not always the case, and what the better way to go about that is?
Doug: In so many things, it's better to focus in on what you're really, really good at and really be amazing at that, to do a good job. So in this case, instead of focusing on a big geographical area, especially when you're smaller, it's better to focus on a smaller geographical area. And it's usually better to focus on your local area. There's a couple reasons for this. It helps you have focus so you can really do a good job of what you're doing. But also, it helps you build a good, local network. And as we've talked about before, word of mouth is a very powerful way to spread your brand, it's also a very powerful way to find new leads. If you do a really good job for someone in your area, and they're just amazed with the work you do, they're gonna talk to the people about it. Very likely, the people they're gonna talk to are other people at work, other people that are local. They're gonna have local connections, too. That word of mouth is gonna spread much quicker in a local area, and then the people that'll spread them out, they'll talk to, will likely also be in the local area or close by. So word of mouth can spread faster and you'll be able to build up a good reputation in that area. Once you have that good reputation, then it's easier to expand to a larger and larger and larger area, but it's great to start with a good local network as your base of operations and really just own that territory before you expand out too much further.
Lauren: So it sounds like building this local network is a really crucial part of creating leads. How do you even go about doing that? What's a good first step?
Doug: Start by looking for places. And a lot of these places aren't really marked, they don't have big signs out front. They might have no sign at all. So you gotta be a little bit watchful when you're going around, just trying to find big industrial parks. Maybe look for where a bunch of power lines are going into a place 'cause they're drawing a lot of power. Maybe get on the Internet and try to find some places, too. But you wanna go out and visit those locations once you find them. You're mainly just looking to go out there and make some connection, even if that connection is just with the person upfront. You just wanna put a name and a face to your business to the people there to let them know, "Hey, I'm local, I'm around. Here's what I do." Bring some kind of business card or maybe leave them a brochure of your services. Don't just lead with that, don't just shove it in their face, but just have that as after you've had the conversation, after you've made the introduction, you can just give it to them, "Hey, if you're looking to contact me, hear some more about business, you know, let me know, we'd love to work with you," that kind of thing. So don't sell hard. Just try to meet them, introduce yourself, and then leave something behind so that they do wanna contact you, they have a way of contacting you again.
Shay: So approaching customers face-to-face and having brochures, that sort of presence is super powerful and really helpful. But we're in the age of the Internet. And so having a website, whether folks believe it or not, is really crucial for when you can't have those face-to-face interactions, and when someone's just looking you up, and that sort of thing. But what are some things that folks miss when they go to address that, when they go to create a website that makes them feel like, "Hmm, maybe I don't need to do this"?
Doug: So one mistake that people make is thinking they don't need a website. And this is especially true of smaller companies that are more locally-based, that get almost all their leads from their local network. And there's a tendency, sometimes, in those cases, to think, "Well, I don't need a website because I don't do any business from my website." The fact of the matter is, and this is getting more and more true every day in our day and time, you really have to have a website to be taken seriously. A website is really your storefront, and it's really a representation of what your company is. So even if you're not bringing in a ton of business from your website, even if it's not a huge lead generator for you, it's still important to have a presence there. If nothing else, people will look you up. It's really one of the first things they do, even if they did meet you, you left a brochure or something. They're gonna look you up, and if they come across a website that looks like it was maybe one of the first ones ever made...
Shay: Seen a few of those?
Lauren: Yeah, we've all been there. We've all been to that site.
Doug: Or it's just a one-page thing and it's very poorly designed, very little content there, it just doesn't represent the company well, that's one of your first impressions of the company. And some of the thoughts they're gonna have is, "Well, this is how they're presenting themselves. How are they gonna present me if I do decide to be their customer?" So really just have to have a nicely-designed, good website with good content just to be taken seriously, especially for larger customers. The larger the customer, the more they're gonna look at that as well. So that's one thing, definitely, you need to have, yeah.
Lauren: I do know Vertech has something to say about building great websites, so I think we'll actually roll that clip right now.
Chris: Your website is the number one place that people are gonna come to research you. It is where you have your content. It is the place where you could put your case studies, your white papers, anything that is culture-related to your company. They're also coming there to look at: Well, how big is this company? How much do they know about what we do? Are they involved in our industry? And all of this is building trust. And then the more that you can back that up in the way that you talk and the materials that you give out related to that in your social media presence, it's all building that story. And then the more that you can throw in webinars or different videos or other even events, all that you're doing is you're building trust with a customer that's looking, of, can you do the project? Can you do it on time? And can you do it correctly?
Lauren: Okay, so Doug, let's say I have built my beautiful, state-of-the-art, stunning website, it's got all the fancy bells and whistles just like Vertech's, but I'm not getting any leads.
Lauren: That happens to a lot of people. That's not just an industrial... industry problem.
Doug: No, no.
Lauren: What could you say are some ways to fix that? Or why does that happen?
Doug: So a few things to keep in mind to help turn that website into something that’ll convert leads for you. You really just need to tell people what to do next. So I'm reminded of another story I read in a marketing book where this college campus was trying to get more people to come out and get their flu shots. And so they tried a postcard, help promote the benefits of getting a flu shot. They tried some kinda email campaign. They tried a bunch of stuff. But they ended up deciding, "Let's just put a map out that shows where on campus the health center is to tell people where they need to go to get the flu shot," and that worked. Sometimes, you just have to draw people a map, so they know what to do next. And that's very true on your website as well.
Doug: So someone's come on your website and now, they're checking you out. What do you want them to do next? Do you want them to call you to find out more about your services? Do you want them to fill out some kind of lead form so you can set a demo up with them? Do you want them to download a PDF that you created? That offer can depend on what you would like to put out there, but whatever the offer is, it needs to be something that's compelling and interesting to that person, not just to you. So if it's a button on your site that just says, "Please call us so we can sell you something," probably not gonna be compelling and interesting to them. But if it's, "Call for a free consultation today," or, "Download this white paper on how to build better alarming systems." If it has some benefit to that visitor that they can immediately experience, something that's gonna give them some benefits of value...
Shay: Instant gratification.
Doug: Instant gratification. They're much more likely going to do that next step. And if they do that next step, then you have a lead you can follow up on, whether it's getting their contact information through a form, or them calling you, then you can start some kinda conversation and start building that relationship with them. But you gotta draw them a map, tell them what to do next, give them an offer, and make that offer something compelling and beneficial to them.
Lauren: It's important to have a great website, but it's also important to have useful information there, and that really is the content. So can you speak a little bit about what great content is for a successful website?
Doug: Creating marketing content is a really big digital marketing strategy these days. And it's definitely one that Inductive Automation has been employing for years. So you wanna create content that's educational, educational in nature, and helpful. And ideally, you wanna create content that answers a fundamental question that your potential customers would be asking. So for example, if you're an integrator and you're selling integration services, you need to think about: What are the problems that my potential customers are trying to solve? And how can I give them something now that helps them solve those problems? Maybe it's an article about the best PLCs to use. Maybe it's a blog post about the 10 most common mistakes people make when they're putting in an Ignition system. Whatever it is, if you can actually answer that question, then when those customers are looking for an answer to that online, they have a chance of finding your content. And if they find that content and it's on your site, they're now gonna start associating you as helpful because you're helping them answer a question or educating them. And they're in the place you want them to be to create a lead for yourself. Hopefully, at this point, you've created some kind of...
Doug: Drawn yourself a map on your website, created some kind of call to action for them. And if you get them on the site with content, that hopefully, they can take that call to action to capture a lead and you can follow up on it. So those are just a few benefits of having great content. Position yourself as a thought expert to create engagement on your site. And also, it can help you with your SEO, which is search engine optimization. If you have a lot of people finding your website because of great content you put on there and staying on the site and reading it, that's gonna help your search engine optimization so that you'll go up those search engine results and be more likely to be found for people who are looking for you. So those are all just a few of the very beneficial benefits of having great content.
Lauren: Well, and I know Vertech is also very passionate about creating content. They even have their engineers writing some of their content, if you can believe it.
Doug: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Lauren: And I know Chris from Vertech has a few thoughts about this that he would like to share.
Chris: So content marketing is a buzzword. What does that really mean? It means, first off, that you have to have a lot of content. It's not enough to just have a simple website that says "About Us" and maybe talks about that you happen to be involved in SCADA or MES projects. Not enough. Go deeper. You need white papers, you need case studies, you need examples of your projects, and you need to give away your secrets. Yup, I said it, you need to, for free, give away what you do best. And that's scary. And the same thing happened at Inductive Automation, Inductive University. Why would you give away thousands and thousands of hours of videos that they have made? Because it makes you sound more knowledgeable and once you get it out there, people are gonna continue to come back to you. Same thing is true of us as integrators. We give away everything of how we do MES projects, what our screens look like. What was the solution? What was the architecture? We have videos that we put up. We put on webinars. And any integrator could come to these, too, and we're just not afraid of that because what goes around comes around. If you put the content out there, people are gonna see that you're knowledgeable in the space, and it's going to help you.
Shay: So we've talked about a lot of different strategies you can employ to start building out your leads, creating new leads. That's really not the end of the story, though. It's just the beginning. So what's the next thing? What do we do after we've collected these maybe names, email addresses, contacts?
Doug: You gotta follow up on that lead. If you do all that effort and then nothing comes from it, they're just gonna sit there and nothing's gonna happen. You wanna follow up in a timely manner 'cause otherwise, they're gonna forget. If you call them up two weeks after they said they wanted that download, that PDF, you say, "Hey, remember that PDF you downloaded two weeks?" They have no idea who you are. So you gotta follow up in a timely manner. And you also have to follow up in a relevant manner. So look at what action they took to create a lead, maybe they were trying to download something, maybe they were asking to do a demo or get a consultation from you, and then follow up with a relevant response to that query so that they can feel like, "Hey, I wanted something and now I'm being contacted with that thing. This sounds like something that I can be helped with."
Shay: Yeah. And we actually got to talk to another one of our premier integrators, Grantek, about this, and they had some great tips for follow-up. So let's actually see what they had to say.
Geoff: Grantek captures leads through a number of avenues. Partner portals are a great example. Also, people inquiring via phone or through our website, connecting with us on social media. But a big key for us is the timely transfer of that lead, quickly vetting that, and getting it in front of the most appropriate group at Grantek. We're a very large, diverse organization with offices throughout North America, even offices in India, so it's really important that we get that new prospect, that new opportunity in front of the right group as soon as possible. So we have an internal process that tackles that. And that's something we want to impress upon our future client that it is timely, that we are looking to assist them. Hopefully, they see that with our marketing content, but when they first engage with us, ideally, we're connecting with them as soon as possible.
James: By making sure that that first contact point with Grantek is intended to be with someone who is the best fit, either from a geography or from a technical background or from a knowledge of the industry, that allows for us to make sure that the first contact with a client is a positive one. And even if Grantek's not the right person or the right company to be doing this work or to help solve these problems for the end client, we wanna make sure that that experience is positive and that we help them in any way that we are capable of doing to find someone who could actually help them with that issue, if it's not us.
Lauren: So we've spent a lot of time talking about the customer journey and understanding our customers as part of this marketing series. So how do we follow through? What's the little pièce de résistance at the end of your follow-up of your lead?
Doug: Right, yeah. You want to follow up with your leads in a way that's relevant and a way that's going to be appropriate for what level that customer is on their customer journey. So if they just became aware of you, you're probably not gonna wanna go in with that, "Hey, why don't you buy something from me?" Especially when you're doing content marketing. 'Cause a lot of the content is not incredibly sales-forward; you're just trying to solve a problem. So if you follow up on someone downloading a white paper about how to solve a problem, maybe they just want a little bit more information about that subject. "Hey, do you want a demo on how you can build that alarm system better?" Or maybe they're just looking for more content. "I can put you in the direction of more content." And a lot of times, the way you follow up with them can help, too. So maybe it's more appropriate to follow up with... By email than by phone call. Now, if they have gone all the way and they're now considering you and they're trying to make a decision between you and a competitor, then you can be much more straightforward with your call to action, but they've gone down that customer journey a little bit farther. So you just have to be mindful of where they're at so you don't scare them away because you spent all this time and energy to get them where they're at. The last thing you wanna do is scare them away and then who knows when they'll be back?
Lauren: Thank you, Doug. It's been great working with you on this series so far. And I'm sure if we have some other questions, hopefully, we'll be able to call you back.
Doug: Yeah, absolutely. I've been... I've had a great time talking to you, and talking about marketing, and look forward to the next time we talk.
Shay: Definitely. Thank you. See you next time.
Lauren: Alright, we are back live to start a conversation. And it's a cameras-on conversation, so we're excited to have all of our panelists joining us on here in person, get a little bit more information. And I wanna talk a little bit more about creating leads. I have questions for each of you. Chris, I'd love to start with you. In the video, you talk about giving away your secrets because what goes around comes around, and you've really seen that at Vertech. Can you talk about a specific content project where you've learned from that, and what Vertech has had done to create that initiative?
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. So we are firm believers in that, of, it's not dangerous to give away your secret sauce. It's going to be okay. So one example, at the 2018 ITC Conference, we wrapped up all of our marketing pieces and all of our how we do MES projects into one talk. And so it was a presentation that went through the lifecycle of an MES project, how we run it, the spreadsheets that we use, the forms that we use, our UX design, our actual screens, everything that we do within a project. And we told everybody, and that was end users and integrators alike, they're all in the room, and then we said, "We're not only gonna show you; we will give you all of these forms and we will give you all of these spreadsheets that you, too, could use at however you please." And so we posted that up on our website, gave a special URL, and had tons of downloads from both integrators and end users, which turned into leads, which turned into people that are interested in your services 'cause it doesn't just end up, "How do you do an MES project?" It's, "Will you do an MES project for us?"
Lauren: Awesome, you did get a shoutout in the questions bar from JC Harrison, friend of IA. "Agree with Chris. Give it away." That's awesome.
Chris: That's my brother.
Lauren: Jeff, we'll move on to you. In your video, your colleagues at Grantek talk about the importance on following up with leads. Can you go into a little bit more detail about determining the best way to follow up on a lead?
Jeff: Sure. So I think it goes without saying that following up on leads in a timely manner is imperative for success. I shouldn't need to convince you to follow up with leads. The question more comes: How do I follow up with leads? How do I provide value faster to our customers and build better rapport quicker? And this is important because not all leads are created equal. And if you apply a one-size-fits-all model, you may be missing the boat on a lot of this. So we happen to follow and implement the buying journey, the customer's buying journey, which Doug talked about earlier. Well, we like the HubSpot model for this, which breaks the buying journey into three phases: It's awareness, consideration, and decision. And depending on where a customer is within that journey changes what they're looking for and therefore, changes how we manage and handle that particular lead.
Jeff: So for example, if a customer's in the awareness stage, they don't know if they have a problem yet or if they do, they're trying to understand it, which means they're in an information quest. They're out there looking for educational videos and trends and benchmarks and checklists and ways to evaluate themselves. And so for people in this stage, they generally don't want to actually talk with a salesperson; they're just trying to get our information. And so we try and respond to that by being a resource tool. Now, if they're in consideration phase, that means they know they have a problem. Now, they're searching for a solution to that problem. And in this stage, they're looking for how-to guides and white papers and case studies and solution comparisons and road-mapping decisions. And our research has found that about 60% of the time, people actually want to talk to a salesperson in this stage because they need help. And so we push for that in this particular stage.
Jeff: Now, if they're in the decision stage, that's the least desirable because they already know they have a problem, they already think they know how to solve it; now, they're just looking for the right person to choose for it. So here, we shift to talking about our company. What's our value? We talk about our people, our skills, our expertise. We provide testimonials, and we talk about what it's like to work with our company because that's what they're looking for in this stage. So as you can see, depending on what stage they're in changes what they're looking for, and how we respond to that lead. And the faster we can identify in which stage they're in, the more effective our marketing and sales teams can be in responding to that lead.
Lauren: That's awesome. Well, Jeff, you kind of perfectly set up my question for Doug. Talking about that buyer's journey, and you mentioned this in the video, too, drawing a map out, kind of what Jeff was saying as well, to encourage people down a path, a buying path. Can you talk about writing a good call to action or some kind of piece of compelling content that is going to really seal the deal for that sale?
Doug: Yeah, sure. I think that's a great segue into that. It's really about those calls to action and what those call to actions mean to that prospect, to that specific part of their buyer's journey that really makes up that map. And so when you're thinking about your marketing, you really wanna be thinking about what stage people are at and what you want them to be doing next to keep moving forward from being that prospect, to being a lead that you can potentially have your sales team follow up on. So I actually had a few tips that I wanna share with the group here about how to write a really good call to action because call to actions are really important to help draw that map for your prospects.
Doug: So one of those, the CTA is super important because they do help give that next step. And before I go into the tips, I just wanna give a little bit of example to show people what this map is I'm talking about. So let's say somebody's interested, comes to one of our webinars — that person is now in Phase 1. They are aware of who we are, and then we have something to offer them. Now, they follow the call to action to get to that webinar because we created that content and set up a form for them to sign up to come to the webinar. Everyone that's here in this webinar today took that call to action to join the webinar. So we're a very relevant example. So let's say in that webinar, we then have a call to action at some point of the webinar to come to our website to learn more. If that person then takes up on that call to action to do that, they are then part of Phase 2: Consideration. They're now considering what we have to offer and looking to see if it will match up their needs.
Doug: So let's say the person comes to our website; now, they're there. And on the website, they encounter a call to action to do a product demo of Ignition with a member of our sales team. And they fill out the form and then they set up a demo. They have now taken that call to action and they're entered into that third phase, or decision, where they're deciding between our product, competitor's product, and their own needs to see if we have a fit there. So as you can see, there was a call to action at every step along the way to move that person into a deeper level of commitment further down that buying cycle to get them to be someone who the sales team can actually follow up on. That's how CTAs can form this map that I'm talking about.
Doug: So to those tips for writing good CTAs. Tip Number 1:, you wanna reduce risk. So part of a good CTA is to make your audience feel comfortable enough to take action, which could be accomplished by including statements that reduce their risk. Saying things like, "Free download. Get a five-minute demo," are some examples. You wanna give that prospect an expectation of what they're committing to and the level of that commitment. Another way to reduce risk in your CTA is to include what we call social proof. And social proof is just proof that people like them, like your audience, have used your product or service and have had success with it, that it can be one that's trusted. So examples of social proof would be like customer testimonials, a positive review, or even logos from companies that have used your product.
Doug: So let me show you just an example here from our own website. This is just a screenshot of the bottom of one of our product pages. If you go on our website, you'll see this. We have a call to action on those product pages to download Ignition. And what you can see here is we're starting to use some of that language to reduce risk. So we talk about, "Install in three minutes." So we're giving them a very clear idea, "It only takes a little bit of time," that we're making the commitment clear. And then we're pairing that with some logos from companies that have used Ignition. So that's a social proof element. These companies have used Ignition, trust Ignition. So those are just a couple of ways that we're reducing risk with that call to action, and all of that's to help people feel comfortable with taking that action. This is something they can do and get some value out of and trust.
Doug: So another tip for a good call to action is to make your action clear. It's vital to be clear with your CTA what you want your prospect to do next. A good CTA makes it clear to your prospect what action they should take and what the results of the action should be. An example of how to do this, a couple examples is, "Click here to learn more." In this example, "click here" is the action and "learn more" is the result. Very simple, but they know exactly what they need to do, and they have an idea what they're gonna get from that action.
Doug: So a third tip is: create urgency. When possible, it's best to encourage a response at a given timeframe. Doing this can counteract the sense of complacency that can be the enemy of taking action. So you want people to take action. So a couple examples of how to create some urgencies with your call to action like, "Download today. Click now to get your free white paper." You're just trying to give them some subtle hints that this is an action they should take now. So one caution here is you don't wanna put too much urgency on a call to action for someone who's too early in the buying process because it could scare them away. So just use that with caution. But it does help people feel like they should take action more immediately.
Doug: And then my fourth tip is make the action relevant. This is probably the most important tip, and this is directly correlating to what Jeff was talking about in his answer earlier, where it really is all about understanding where your prospect is in the buying purchase. So you could have the best, most amazing call to action in the world, but if you're asking your audience to take an action that's not relevant to them and to their needs, they probably won't do it. So you could write a... Let's say your audience is people that really program PLCs, and that's the main thing they're interested in with your product. You could write a white paper all about dog-walking, and they're probably not gonna download it, unless they really love dogs, or they just had a really bad dog walk that day and figure, "You know what? I need to get some tips." But if you write a white paper about three common mistakes when you're downloading a PLC, or 10 tips from a pro, they're probably much more likely to download that piece of content than the dog-walking piece.
Doug: So it's important that your call to action be relevant to your target audience's needs. So if you tried all these tips and you can't seem to find those magic words to get your prospects to take action, you might be asking the wrong thing. Look again at what's relevant to your audience and how you can help them solve their problems. And that's gonna give you a better call to action by having them take an action that's actually relevant to them. So anyway, those are four tips. Hopefully, those are useful to help create that map, and use call to actions to get your prospects to take action.
Lauren: Thanks, Doug. That's a great tutorial, so I hope other integrators and some of our guests will be able to use that in their marketing efforts soon. We're gonna open the floor for questions. I have a few seed questions. And then for those of us who are in the audience, feel free to add your questions in the question section of GoToWebinar. I am seeing a few great ones coming in. I'll start with our seed questions, though. For an integrator who's just getting started in marketing, what's the best thing they can do to kick their efforts off? Chris, I wanna start with you, and then we'll go to Jeff.
Chris: Yes, so there's no silver bullet, quick win. I'm sorry to tell you this. But the absolute best thing that you could do in the beginning is you have to build credibility and your brand. And so this is exactly what Doug was talking about in the video of your digital presence is very important. And so the more content that you could put there, the more that you could show that you are knowledgeable and that you could be able to do their project and give them reasons for why you are a great fit. That is going to build credibility. Everybody is going to be researching on your website. You do it for everything that you wanna purchase, your customers are doing it for you. And so building that credibility helps build your brand. And as a side benefit, it also helps with your recruiting that you're gonna do for people working at your company. But after you have set up that content marketing and credibility piece, the lead generation is what flows from that, and then a lot more tactics that outflow. But you have to start somewhere, so start on the content and credibility.
Lauren: That's a great answer. Jeff, you have some additional thoughts?
Jeff: Sure, I'm gonna complement what Chris says and talk about the creation of your value proposition and the associated messaging and story that's told to communicate your value proposition. Because you really need to be able to answer two questions. One is around the value of why the customer should be doing this particular thing that you want them to be doing. And then you need to be able to answer: Why me? Why us? What makes our company special or different than everyone else out there in this? And you need to know that answer so that you can communicate it. And that may seem like a simple question, but trust me, it's a little harder than you think to come up with.
Lauren: That's excellent. Thank you both for sharing. Doug, did you have any other thoughts you wanted to add as well?
Doug: No, I think these guys covered it great, so...
Lauren: I agree, that's awesome. Another question, this time, Jeff, we'll start with you. Is it important to hire a marketing firm to create effective marketing? What are your thoughts on that? And then we'll move to Chris.
Jeff: This is a good question and a tough question. I don't think there's a straight answer to this because it depends on what your objectives are within the company. What things you want to do in-house and what you're just completely willing to outsource. It depends on the size of the company that you are. For example, if your marketing objectives are to expand into an entirely different market, it may be more valuable, if you don't know anything about that market, to hire someone. If you're just trying to do more in their current niche, then you may not need one. This is an example where I'm gonna reference CSIA, Control System Integrators Association, if you're familiar and have known of them. Because they have a marketing committee and a peer group to allow people within their same size or within their same objectives to compare what people are doing. And they come up with best practices specifically for the integrator community. So I can't say whether I would recommend definitely hire one or definitely don't because it depends on what you're trying to get done.
Lauren: Awesome. Chris, you wanna add anything to that?
Chris: Yes, please. So everybody on this call, how many of you are Marketing majors? Probably not a lot. You probably have an engineering degree, and you started your business because you thought that you could do it better, or that it would provide a better life, or that you could make more money. And so as a result, you do engineering really well, you run your business really well, but marketing is that thing that a lot of times suffers. It's... integration companies that I've been at before, when you are small, it's the last thing that you are working with because you are spending so much time on your projects and your people.
Chris: And so we've noticed at Vertech, we belong to CSIA also, so shout out to Jeff to that. And we happen to find one of their marketing agencies, Trew, so that's spelled T-R-E-W. And we worked with them for about three years, and it was the kickstart that we needed. So I'm gonna just say this, that everyone on this call is capable of writing content, doing everything that you need for your website, doing campaigns, doing webinars, making it all happen. You can do it. Sometimes, you just need a little kickstart. And so that's what we noticed that having an agency, at least for a portion of time, is gonna help you get your website straight, get your content started, get your strategies down, get your call to actions right. And they are experts in an area that most of us were not experts in. And so use that, and then continue. You can do it all yourself after a while.
Lauren: Thanks, Chris. I will say even some of us who work in marketing, we're not Marketing majors. Guilty. Doug, is there anything you'd like to add to that before I move on to some questions from the audience?
Doug: No, no, these guys covered it great again. I would just, you just said it, Lauren, a lot of the team we have over Inductive Automation Marketing didn't start as Marketing majors. A lot of it has been learned. And so I think there's a lot of resources out there to pick it up and create some really good content. And I think for me, one of the most important things, just understanding your audience. I think if you have that understanding, it can give you a lot of the tools you need to connect with them. I think bringing agencies in, particularly when you are creating new campaigns or you're just trying to get something up and running, you wanna get a look at your website, you wanna get an idea of, "How do we set up a content creation campaign?" that can be really helpful. But a lot of the knowledge that people need is really about their audience, is already there. It's just getting some expert help to how to bring that out to be successful can be really helpful.
Lauren: Excellent. Well, thank you guys. I'm gonna have this question, a few... We've gotten a few versions of this question. So it's... This one's from Derek Cook: When sharing content, how do you handle confidentiality agreements with clients and projects you've done at their sites? I'll just kick that out and whoever would like to take that first. We got several questions with this kind of theme of how do you handle NDAs, confidentiality, all of that stuff. I know that's a big deal in our industry.
Doug: Yeah, I can answer that a little bit for us. So we do a lot of case studies and we work closely with those customers to make sure that they are comfortable with us telling their story and sharing it publicly. I know we have them sign some forms to say, "Hey, it's okay to be sharing it in this capacity." We work closely with them to make sure that the information we're sharing is only what they're comfortable with. And we always give them the sign-off to be able to do that. So that's how we've handled it with case studies. And in a lot of our webinars, we do the same thing with webinars in terms of we have customers, they have to be comfortable with sharing what they're going to share, and we just record that. So that's how we've handled it. When you get into NDAs, you are gonna run into having some customers who just don't wanna share that story, and you do have to take that seriously and respect the relationship there. So if you've said you're not gonna be sharing that information, you just simply can't share that information. And so at Inductive Automation, we do take that pretty seriously and make sure we only share what our customers are willing to share.
Lauren: Jeff, you wanna add something?
Jeff: Sure, from our experience, I would lump these into two camps: Where the customer is willing and where the customer is unwilling. And the advice I would give if they're willing, share with them what you're wanting to share with the world because they will have parts that they say, "Yeah, you can share that, but you can't share that." And you can identify what it is that they share. Something as simple as you can get a testimonial from them, but you may not be able to share pictures, for example. And so it's identifying if they're willing to share at all, and then what it is. If they're unwilling to share, then you need to do your best magic to try and extrapolate out the experience that you have to be able to generalize as much as possible and talk about that particular problem or solution in general, and methods of which you have solved it. That's the harder one 'cause not everyone wants to share, but you should have a strategy around what you do when someone doesn't wanna share, but you've developed a gold mine in what you created that you wanna be able to showcase to the world.
Lauren: Awesome. Chris, do you wanna add anything to that one, or we can move on to another one? I think those are great answers. Great, I'm looking through where... We have some great questions here. Have any of the panelists ever tried pay-per-click advertising, PPC? Is that successful? Yes or no? Anyone wanna take that one?
Chris: Sure. Everybody's experience will be different. I can say that we have tried it, and it didn't do what we wanted to do. And I've spoken to a number of people at CSIA, and they've had similar experiences. We tried it on social media platforms, so LinkedIn and others. We've tried it on Google. And the amount of money that was outlaid versus the results that came back, we can get people that... It just wasn't getting the right quality of lead. And so some could argue that if you had tweaked it enough over time that maybe you could have gotten the right messaging or you could have promoted it in a different way with different keywords. But at least with the amount that we put out and the results that came back, comfortably I'd say that it is not the most effective thing that we have been able to do.
Lauren: Yeah, it sounds like content marketing and all of that has been more successful for you. Jeff, did you wanna add something?
Jeff: I would say we've had an interesting experience, and I can mimic what Chris is talking about where we've done pay-per-click, both Google, social media. I would say they've been successful at generating interest, but they haven't been successful in generating the leads that we want. And so what it's forced our company to do is make sure that we truly understand who our ideal customer actually is, and the particular people we're trying to reach within it. So I would argue that the overall experience was a success 'cause it made us really challenge, "Who do we actually want as our customers?" Because you always say, "Well, everyone," and then when you dive into it, you'll be like, "Well, not everyone. I only really want these particular people." So I would say that that exercise is useful to help force you to figure out who you're actually looking for.
Lauren: That's a great perspective on that. Doug, do you wanna add anything, yeah?
Doug: Yeah, we've had some success with pay-per-click. We do mostly Google Ads, we've done with some with social, too. I think the offer and how you're using it, obviously, affects it, too. Since Inductive Automation is a software company, we do get a lot of our leads coming from people that can come and download the product. And so we've found that that offer actually works pretty well on the pay-per-click campaigns that we've produced because then, we can target a slightly different audience, but then compel them into the same offer of downloading the product and giving it a try. So I think it depends on the offer and how you're using it. It's, we found some success. I will say we didn't have a lot of success, initially, but over the last few years, we've been honing in it, and it's become a pretty good source of leads for us at this point. So it all depends on how you use it and working with it. But we've had some success with it, at least in the last couple years.
Lauren: Sounds like there's a lot of room to experiment all around. Here is a question, another one from Derek Cook: How fresh should a website be? I think that means like how often should we be refreshing or adding content to our websites? Daily, weekly, yearly? Does anyone wanna take that?
Doug: I guess it depends on how much traffic you want, and if you're using your content for things like building SEO, and if you're trying to capture certain keywords. I would say websites need to be kept relatively fresh 'cause everyone's gone to a few stale websites, and the immediate reaction is like, "Wow! This is really, that's just really... " Feels like a dead site. So this is actually one of the benefits of content that has been highlighted a couple times here. If you are, if you do get a content program started, and part of that program is figuring out a easy way to post that content to your website, that is a way you can build into your process, a way to keep that content fresh.
Doug: So one way we do that is with our blog. We use a blog for outgoing communications to our audience and to our customers, and we, I think, we post three or four times a month. Sometimes, we talk about our product, we talk about... We have tips on there, we have guest bloggers. And it's a way of keeping things fresh. We also put things like this webinar and other webinars we've done on our website. So I'm just using an example as a way to keep it fresh. That's how we refresh our website the most. I don't really have a great rule of thumb, but I would say you wanna keep it somewhat regular, especially if you have people coming back to it. If they keep feeling there's useful things for them to come back to your website, you're gonna draw them back and more, and engage them more, and that should help move them along that buyer's journey to become a lead you can follow up on. So, they see everything in one go and there's no reason to come back, they probably won't.
Lauren: Awesome. Jeff or Chris, would you wanna add anything to that?
Jeff: Sure, I would say that if anyone has the answer to that, you're gonna make a lot of money 'cause we're all guessing when it comes to that. The general rule of thumb I've heard is that many years ago, you refresh your website every five years. And then it went to every three years. Now, people are saying almost every one year. Now, when we say website, that means the experience of engagement and the feeling that they get when they go to the website and what your purpose is. I would argue that would be different than the amount of time to refresh for content, how often you're loading and posting stuff on there. With that, I think we would all safely agree as much as you can. The more you do it, the more engagement you're gonna get. You could do it every day and that would be fantastic. But that's gonna be realistic to what matches your company. So you almost need to think about what part you're talking about, just how often you'll be posting content or actually completely redesigning how customers engage with your company.
Lauren: Awesome. Chris, anything to add there?
Chris: Yeah, just dovetailing off of what Doug said, so in terms of the content strategy, there is the point where you can create one thing and then propagate it out in multiple ways. So typically, starting at the highest level of a white paper. So come up with a topic that is relevant to the industry, relevant to your services. And then from that white paper, you should be able to generate at least three or four blog posts. You should be able to use that same topic that you also have a project that's relative to it and a case study. You should be able to get four to five social media posts out of it. And all of that comes with email blasts, and it might even end up in a newsletter or as gated content as a call to action. And so if you've made one thing and then it made it really easy for you to make many more. And that helps with the frequency of the updates to the content on your site.
Lauren: Excellent. Well, thank you, guys, all so much for joining. We're almost out of time here. I was curious if any of you have any final thoughts or tips on leads, marketing in general, or any final thoughts for us? Anyone care to start?
Doug: I just appreciate people coming and wanting to learn more. I would say there's a lot of things you can do. Hopefully, people picked a few tips up with this. And just try it out for yourself and get started. I think there's a lot of things people can do to connect their audience.
Lauren: Absolutely. Start anywhere, I guess.
Chris: Yeah. We just wanna say that we're happy to be a part of the community, and want to help out however we can.
Jeff: I'd like to say thank you as well. I actually learned things by being a part of this, and I hope everyone else did, as well. COVID has forced everyone to become digital media companies, so paying attention to marketing gained in its importance. So I'm excited that everyone's paying attention to this.
Lauren: Absolutely. We are, as well. Well, thank you, all three of you, for being here today, Jeff, Chris and Doug. You've brought a lot of value to this conversation. For those of you who didn't get questions answered, we'll be sure to follow up. One question I did see quite a bit of, which we have a whole slide for, is questions around where are these videos for The Pitch, if you haven't found them before. The Pitch video series is great. There's over, I think, it's 21 videos that Doug, myself and others on the marketing team helped create around sales, marketing, leads, all of that kind of stuff. And it's available in the Integrator Account section of our website. Now, if you're not an integrator or a member of our Integrator Program, it's free to join. You just check it out at the link below, inductiveautomation/integrator/join. We'd love to see you there. And there's other perks as well. So we hope you guys will check those out and continue to learn and grow with us as part of the program. I think with that, we will close it out. Thank you again to our community for joining us. Thank you again to our panelists. And we'll look forward to seeing you guys next time on the next Ignition Community Live.
Doug: Alright, thanks.
Lauren: Bye, everybody. Thanks.