Content is crucial for just about any B2B business as it drives traffic and convinces your leads to become your customers. No wonder, most B2B businesses are increasing their content marketing budgets every year.
But do they use content marketing to its full potential? How do you create content that serves several goals, like traffic acquisition and rankings?
The big challenge with B2B content
While being extremely valuable to business success, B2B content is also extremely challenging for marketers to execute properly. The problem is twofold: Targeting.
Unlike B2C content where you usually target a single human being, in B2B you have to keep the whole group of decision-makers in mind. This group is usually referred to as a DMU (a decision-making unit) and, depending on your platform and your target organizations, it can include the head of marketing, CEO, IT representative, CTO, etc.
In other words, B2B content targets a group of decision-makers and normally takes more time (and more steps) to convert.
Creating convincing content that appeals to every single person within a DMU is hardly possible:
- CEOs may need to know how your product will save them money
- Head of marketing will need to make sure that your product solves an existing problem without making their department redundant. In this case, the best interests of the CEO may be in conflict with the best interests of the marketing team, and yet, the latter is likely to be the final decision maker, so you will need to keep their needs and challenges in mind.
- The IT team will have to ensure your platform is technically possible (it is possible to integrate into their technical environment).
Before you start creating your B2B content strategy for traffic generation, you need to know your decision-makers and be able to plan your content around possible conflicts.
In other words, plan your content assets that convey value and then decide which keywords you can optimize for.
Knowing your decision-makers
So what is the best way to know who you are targeting? You already know your target businesses in mind (those you created that B2B product for) but how to better understand their internal decision-makers?
B2B audience research is different from B2C audience research: You can hardly apply your web analytics demographics info because you have to keep all those intra-organizational levels and politics in mind.
To better understand your target DMU, try several of these options:
- Talk to your sales and customer support teams. They already interact with your potential and current customers on a daily basis. Let them describe their contacts and who those report to. Get all the details they can share, including their frequently asked questions and common challenges.
- Survey your customers. Using on-site and on-registration surveys will help you collect more data on the size of companies you are dealing with and your actual users’ roles within those companies. There are a variety of plugins allowing you to integrate surveys with your content.
Additionally, inbox Insight offers a handy checklist for you to organize your data and better understand your target DMUs.
From there, start creating a list of problems each person within a DMU may have and how your product may solve all of them. This is where matching those problems to searchable keywords is the required next step.
Planning your keyword strategy
It is not often easy to identify how people may be searching for solutions and answers to relevant problems. While there’s no such a thing as an ideal word count which would work in every niche, try and create a resource that will answer several related questions.
Google is now mature enough to steer your search into a more popular direction, so I suggest starting your keyword research by simply searching Google. Type the search terms as you yourself would use them, and pay attention to:
- What Google Autocomplete suggests in the search box
- “People Also Ask” boxes and featured snippets
- Words Google shows within search snippets in bold (on desktop)
- Google’s “Related Searches” and (on a mobile device) Google’s categories that usually appear below organic search results:
All of these will help you collect the core terms your target B2B customers are using when searching for solutions to their problems.
From there, use keyword research tools to extend your core terms and discover even more related terms.
Keyword clustering is a good way to better organize your keywords by intent and identify some common searching patterns. Here’s a good guide on using those identified keyword clusters to create a content strategy that will apply in both B2B and B2C.
Promote and repurpose your B2B content
Publishing your content is a good first step to start generating some organic search visibility. But unless you promote your content, you will not achieve much as search engines need more signals than just useful copy.
Promoting your content is a whole new topic that has already been covered in much detail. A lot of content promotion ideas apply to both B2B and B2C content, including social media sharing, email marketing, and more.
When it comes to the B2B niche, some of the more effective content and link acquisition methods include:
- Organic promotion via email messages. Emailing is the main source of communication for most B2B businesses, so including your recent or most important content assets in your email signature will get you some clicks and possibly even backlinks. Wisestamp will help your employees create a cool signature that can pull your recent articles. They offer some cool email signature examples for you to get inspired.
- Content repurposing. With so many complicated DMUs in mind, you will need different content formats to cater to all of them. Making your content possible to download as a PDF file (to make it shareable within a company) is the first step. You can make that happen using Google Docs. Another idea is to turn your content into a video format which is pretty easy using Movavi. This would expand your reach to video-only platforms, like Youtube. Additionally, consider reusing your visuals (graphs and screenshots) in a PowerPoint format to create content to promote on Slideshare and Linkedin. Venngage makes it very easy. In other words, turn your content into lead magnets!
- Webinars make excellent B2B content because they can be used at every step of the sales funnel. You can live stream them, turn them into many videos, transcribe to create text content, enable lead generation forms to engage your prospects. There are lots of platforms that allow you to do all of that.
- Use email marketing. Email automation is an integral part of any B2B pipeline. Here are a few examples of email marketing campaigns to get you started with yours.
Creating optimized content that targets different roles and comes in different formats will require a lot of organizational efforts.
Content planning and creation take a ton of time, so it makes sense to set up a content marketing strategy that serves several goals, like organic traffic and sales generation. Hopefully, the above tools and steps will show you some direction. Good luck!
Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.
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Make the most of your long weekend with deals for every room of the house—including the backyard.
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Make the most of those gift cards with these great discounts.
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Black Friday on Amazon is the best time to find deals on most baby products and kids’ stuff. Often, baby products and equipment will go down in price by anywhere between 10 and 50%. It is also an excellent opportunity to save up if you need some furniture for your children.
We compiled this list of best Amazon Black Friday sales for kids, which will hopefully save you some time while shopping on the world’s largest online retailer. Remember to check out these Black Friday deals to get more information about any discount that might interest you – you will find new offers every day!
Kids Chairs And Table Sets
If you need a table and chairs for your kids, you should definitely check the sales on Black Friday. The possibilities are endless – all you really need to do is know how many chairs and what kind of table your kid needs. Here are the best Black Friday deals on Amazon right now:
This set from Humble Crew is a great choice for small kids. It comes with a table and four chairs, all made of wood. The chairs are also stackable, making them easy to store away after use or between playtimes.
This table and chair set from Humble Crew are ideal for toddlers. It comes with a table and two chairs, all made of durable plastic. It also comes with plastic building blocks that can be used to build various things. They are compatible with other leading brands of building block sets, so you don’t have to worry about switching between brands. Perfect for creative kids and parents.
This 3 piece kiddy table and chair set from Baby Relax is an excellent choice for small children. It comes with a small table and two chairs, all made of solid wood. They are made to last and can be used for years to come. If you need this set, now is the time to buy it as it is going for a great discount.
Kids’ Outdoor Chairs
If you have kids, you probably need at least a couple of chairs made to be used outside. It gets extremely hot during summer, and sometimes it can be difficult keeping kids in the house all day long. With these outdoor chairs, your child will now have a place to relax when they want to get some fresh air. It
Here are the best deals for kids’ outdoor chairs that you can find on Amazon:
This baby chair from Baby Delight is excellent for kids of all ages. It folds easily and can be carried around effortlessly. It also comes with a sun canopy that protects your child from the sun’s harsh rays when they are out in the open. The frame itself is made to last and is built of high-quality materials.
This baby chair is ideal for kids below 16 kg. It can be easily attached to your existing dining table, and it comes with a harness that protects your child’s safety at all times. The kid’s chair can be hung anywhere as long as there is a stable structure, and it will remain there firmly.
Kid’s High Chair Black Friday Sales
Black Friday is an excellent time to get your kids a new high chair. There are plenty of different chairs available, with each one being different in some sense or the other. Here are the best Black Friday deals on Amazon for kid’s high chairs:
This solid wood high chair from Abiie comes in a rich walnut finish and a tray that can be easily attached. You can use it for your infant or toddler, thanks to the adjustable three-position reclining seat. It also has a five-point harness system that keeps your child safe at all times. Solid wood is highly durable and makes the high chair an excellent choice.
If you don’t want to buy a high chair, why not consider buying one that can be easily transformed into a different type of seating? This 6 in 1 high chair from Graco transforms into a toddler seat and a booster seat. It is good quality and suitable for kids up to 50 pounds.
Black Friday Car Seat Deals
Car seats are a major necessity for young children, and it might be a good idea to invest in some high-quality items as they will last for years before you upgrade them. If you buy from Amazon on Black Friday, there is a chance that you can save up to 40% on car seats. Here are the best deals right now:
This car seat from Baby Trend is designed to keep small children safe while they travel. It comes with an adjustable base that allows it to fit into all cars and has an integrated anti-rebound bar on the front. It is also equipped with five-point harnesses and can be used for babies between 5 and 35 pounds.
This car seat from Graco is one of the best Amazon Black Friday deals for kids. It comes with a cushioned base which makes it safe but also easy to clean when needed. The Snuglock technology allows you to easily install this in all types of cars without too much hassle. It is equipped with five-point harnesses and can be used for babies between 5 and 35 pounds.
This car seat from Diono can be used in many different ways and serves a variety of functions. It has a high weight capacity and is equipped with energy absorption padding to keep your child safe while they travel. It also comes with adjustable headings and shoulder pads to adjust the seat’s interior to fit your child best.
Get Nursery Furniture On A Black Friday Sale
If you plan to decorate your child’s nursery, now might be the best time to do so. The right furniture will make your child’s nursery feel more comfortable and come with numerous benefits. You can get incredible savings on nursery furniture when you buy from Amazon on Black Friday. Here are some of the most exciting deals:
This bedside sleeper from Bellababy is a great choice for those who want to have their baby close by but also want to give them some privacy. It can be used as a bassinet and a crib and comes with some storage space underneath, which you can use to store toys or diapers.
These blankets from Touched by Nature are made of 100% organic cotton and can be used throughout the year. They can be used as a blanket in the winter or a sheet when it is warmer. They are available in different designs and come at a great discount.
This is one of the best Black Friday deals for parents looking for a comfortable place to put their babies when they are not sleeping in the crib. It is made of breathable fabric, which allows your baby to be rested and relaxed, even when it’s pretty hot outside.
This beanbag chair comes in a variety of colors and serves multiple functions. It can be used as seating or as a footrest while you are cuddling a baby. It is also made of durable materials and is easy to clean. The beans inside it can be easily adjusted, allowing you to choose the firmness of your beanbag chair.
This baby monitor is an excellent choice for those who want to keep an eye on their child while they are sleeping. It can be used as a standard monitor or as a camera which allows you to see what’s happening in the nursery. It has some great features and comes with a remote which will enable you to move the camera around.
While Black Friday is a fantastic day to shop for stuff, it also features some of the best deals when it comes to things for your baby. If you are looking forward to getting a great deal on one or more of these products, then make sure to take a look at Amazon!
The post Amazon Black Friday Sales For Kids Chairs And More appeared first on Comfy Bummy.
- Social media has increasingly become a key avenue for the fate of brands’ online performance
- There is a relation between brand perception, social listening, customer service, and the eventual consumer spending power
- Here’s how social media marketers can make the most of social channels to drive business value
In order to gain sales and increase leads, social media marketing must be fully integrated within a company’s overall marketing strategy – including search.
For companies looking to increase lead generation for sales conversion and build upon long-term customer relationships, social media involvement tends to be more cost-effective and successful, in the long run, than traditional short-term-oriented marketing methods.
Social media’s return on investment is best measured over time in the form of customer loyalty, customer relationship management, and an improved corporate perception in the general marketplace.
1. Regularly updated content boosts search engine rankings
Research proves that by providing relevant and constantly updated content, companies can gain new customers, achieve a higher search engine ranking, and increase online visibility. Online marketing methods that center around search-optimized content can also improve a company’s SERP ranking.
Now that search engines like Google is indexing social media content, keyword-rich posts, and relevant comments within social networks. This has become a viable marketing tactic.
According to Google’s Gary Illyes in one of his discussions with SEO Eric Enge on social media mentions and rankings and how Google might use online mentions of a brand on social media and networks:
“The context in which you engage online, and how people talk about you online, can actually impact what you rank for.”
Furthermore, related research conducted by CognitiveSEO discovered an equivocal link between social shares and SEO. Analyzing 23 million social media shares on selected platforms showed that – likes, comments, and shares that posts receive are vital signals for Google and other search engines to rank websites.
2. A positive social media brand presence strengthens online reputation
Engaging potential consumers – in social networks – can bolster a company’s reputation and strengthen its ability to improve customer service. A business that engages its customers online and participates in the dialogue is better positioned to respond to customer inquiries.
According to Convince & Convert, 32 percent of customers expect a response to be within 30 minutes and 42 percent of customers expect it to be within the hour. Moreover, about 57 percent of customers expect response time during weekends and nights to match response times during normal working hours.
Having a fast response time not only leads to a happy customer but can also lead to additional revenue for companies. A study conducted by Twitter found that when an airline responded in six minutes or less to a tweet, the customer was willing to pay about $ 20 more for that airline in the future. When an airline, however, took more than an hour to give feedback, that customer was willing to pay only an additional $ 2.33 for that airline in the future. This really makes you want to put some pep in your step when it comes to responding to customers, doesn’t it?
Also, a business with a strong social media presence is better positioned to respond to customer complaints. Negative comments can act as an early warning system, empowering a brand to:
- quickly adapt its message,
- reinforce its product’s value,
- positively nurture relationships with customers, influencers, and brand advocates.
Whether negative word of mouth buzz comes in the form of a disparaging online video, as a comment in a user forum, or from an adverse online review of a product, companies with an active and solid social media presence can help repair their reputation by responding in real-time.
3. Measure social media effectiveness
Companies concerned with analytics and other metrics for measuring social media effectiveness can employ several simple methods for gauging the success of social marketing campaigns. Some ways to measure and track social media marketing include:
A. Increase in followers
An increase in the number of followers on social media means an increase in a brand’s popularity. It is worth understanding the audience engagement and crafting social media campaigns that can increase your social media following.
B. Reactions on published posts
Evaluating the reactions of audiences on social media posts helps determine what is interesting the most. This helps focus more on what interests users the most.
This applies to all social media channels, be it Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. The inbuilt analytics provided by these channels helps evaluate the way audiences are reacting to published posts.
Similarly, online marketers need to check when someone tags them in a post or, mentions them. The more tags they get, the more users they reach. This helps instantly increase business visibility as more people engage online with the brand’s content.
C. Social media reach
Social media campaigns’ reach helps determine the total number of people that are reached both within and outside of targeted audiences. The more reactions and engagements to published posts, the better is the online visibility.
Having a good reach to business posts on social media is a clear indication that the marketing campaigns are on point.
D. Referral traffic
Another important metric that businesses consider when measuring social media effectiveness is gauging referral traffic. This gives a clear picture of how the marketing campaign has performed on social media. Every online marketer should evaluate performance by measuring the difference between the actual target achieved and the target set.
This will help gauge the efforts needed to be put in. If a particular channel is found to be unable to get sufficient traffic, then it should be reconsidered. A social media channel that is not resonating with the nature of the business is probably a waste of time and effort.
E. Click-through rate (CTR)
Click-through rate is another important factor when measuring the effectiveness of social media, as it is closely associated with direct conversion.
Generally, a higher CTR means that a marketing campaign is effective. Because more clicks mean more visitors that are drawn to the website. CTR is considered as one of the KPIs by a majority of the businesses and is generally used in PPC ad campaigns, a link on a landing page, etc.
4. ROI based on soft metrics
While hard metrics of conversions (sales, cost-per-sales, and profit) are the way many businesses tend to rate social media ROI, businesses should also consider some softer metrics as a means to measure their campaign effectiveness.
In fact, according to research by the Association of National Advertisers,
“80 percent of US client-side marketers measured the effectiveness of their social content, with social media metrics such as “likes” the most common.”
Measuring campaign effectiveness considering softer metrics can be done by asking the following questions:
- Are brand-relevant tweets being re-tweeted on Twitter?
- Are there more fans and brand-friends on Facebook?
- Is there an uptick in online conversations about a new product launch or web design improvements?
- Are site visitors and customers sharing opinions and discussing what they want and need?
Questions such as these may not add up, in the short run, to actual sales and quantifiable profit but ROI based on soft metrics could certainly provide insight on social media marketing’s worthiness. This has the potential, in the long run, to convert into profit and hard ROI.
Make definite social media marketing goals
To take full advantage of social media channels for effective marketing and improved profits, marketing teams need to execute strategic marketing plans. Businesses must apply measurable metrics, take a long-view approach, and define clearly their social media marketing goals.
Only through this, can social media marketing prove itself worthwhile for proving business value.
Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, inbound marketing consultant, and founder of Write Minds. He can be found on Twitter @jmcmillen89.
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The post Social media marketing: four keys to boost lead generation and sales appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Aircover raised $ 3 million in seed funding to continue developing its real-time sales intelligence platform.
Defy Partners led the round with participation from Firebolt Ventures, Flex Capital, Ridge Ventures and a group of angel investors.
The company, headquartered in the Bay Area, aims to give sales teams insights relevant to closing the sale as they are meeting with customers. Aircover’s conversational AI software integrates with Zoom and automates parts of the sales process to lead to more effective conversations.
“One of the goals of launching the Zoom SDK was to provide developers with the tools they need to create valuable and engaging experiences for our mutual customers and integrations ecosystem,” said Zoom’s CTO Brendan Ittelson via email. “Aircover’s focus on building sales intelligence directly into the meeting, to guide customer-facing teams through the entire sales cycle, is the type of innovation we had envisioned when we set out to create a broader platform.”
Aircover’s founding team of Andrew Levy, Alex Young and Andrew’s brother David Levy worked together at Apteligent, a company co-founded and led by Andrew Levy, that was sold to VMware in 2017.
Chatting about pain points on the sales process over the years, Levy said it felt like the solution was always training the sales team more. However, by the time everyone was trained, that information would largely be out-of-date.
Instead, they created Aircover to be a software tool on top of video conferencing that performs real-time transcription of the conversation and then analysis to put the right content in front of the sales person at the right time based on customer issues and questions. This means that another sales expert doesn’t need to be pulled in or an additional call scheduled to provide answers to questions.
“We are anticipating that knowledge and parsing it out at key moments to provide more leverage to subject matter experts,” Andrew Levy told TechCrunch. “It’s like a sales assistant coming in to handle any issue.”
He considers Aircover in a similar realm with other sales team solutions, like Chorus.ai, which was recently scooped up by ZoomInfo, and Gong, but sees his company carving out space in real-time meeting experiences. Other tools also record the meetings, but to be reviewed after the call is completed.
“That can’t change the outcome of the sale, which is what we are trying to do,” Levy added.
The new funding will be used for product development. Levy intends to double his small engineering team by the end of the month.
He calls what Aircover is doing a “large interesting problem we are solving that requires some difficult technology because it is real time,” which is why the company was eager to partner with Bob Rosin, partner at Defy Partners, who joins Aircover’s board of directors as part of the investment.
Rosin joined Defy in 2020 after working on the leadership teams of Stripe, LinkedIn and Skype. He said sales and customer teams need tools in the moment, and while some are useful in retrospect, people want them to be live, in front of the customer.
“In the early days, tools helped before and after, but in the moment when they need the most help, we are not seeing many doing it,” Rosin added. “Aircover has come up with the complete solution.”
On the heels of acquiring sales tax specialist TaxJar in April, today Stripe is making another big move in the area of tax. The $ 95 billion payments behemoth is launching a new product called Stripe Tax, which will provide automatic, updated sales tax calculations (covering sales tax, VAT and GST) and related accounting services to Stripe payments customers initially in some 30 countries and across the U.S.
Stripe Tax is a separate service from TaxJar, but the two are not unconnected. As Stripe Tax was being built out of Stripe’s offices in Dublin over the last several months, Stripe’s business lead for EMEA Matt Henderson told me that the team had identified TaxJar as a strong company in the field. That ultimately led to M&A between them.
Sales tax — and specifically a more seamless way to deal with charging and tracking sales tax — is a painful issue for people doing business online.
Digital and physical goods are taxed in over 130 countries, Stripe said, and within that there can be a huge amount of variation and compliance complexity, since codes get updated all the time, too. Mishandled sales tax, meanwhile, can result in pretty hefty fines, sometimes up to 30% interest on past-due amounts.
Unsurprisingly, a sales tax tool has been the most-requested feature from Stripe’s customers, Henderson said, a call that presumably only got louder in the last year, as e-commerce and digital transactions went through the roof with COVID-19.
Arguably, that makes Stripe Tax one of the company’s more significant product launches, not to mention the first since announcing its monster funding round earlier this year.
Previously, Stripe customers would have resorted to using a third-party service (like TaxJar) to work out sales tax. Or, more typically, those Stripe customers would have opted to limit the number of places they sold goods and services, in order to minimize the pain of dealing with multiple, complex and usually quite localized tax codes.
“No one leaps out of bed in the morning excited to deal with taxes,” said John Collison, co-founder and president of Stripe in a statement. “For most businesses, managing tax compliance is a painful distraction. We simplify everything about calculating and collecting sales taxes, VAT, and GST, so our users can focus on building their businesses.”
Stripe said that a survey of its customers found that two-thirds of respondents said the challenge of implementing sales tax actually limited their growth.
TaxJar has built a strong system for handling that, but the company — based out of Massachusetts but with a remote team — is primarily focused on the U.S. market, which has sales tax that is complicated enough (there are 11,000 different tax jurisdictions in the country).
That leaves a lot on the table for building out sales tax tools for the rest of the world: The wider focus of Stripe Tax thus fills a particular geographical gap for the company, regardless of how well TaxJar and Stripe integrate over time.
There is another key difference worth noting between the two.
TaxJar came to Stripe’s attention with an established operation — 23,000 customers at the time of the announcement. Stripe (wisely) bolted that on as a standalone business, which means that new and existing customers that use TaxJar can continue to use it as is. That is to say, at least for now, they do not need to be Stripe payments customers in order to use TaxJar, even if the integration between the two platforms will only improve over time.
Stripe Tax, on the other hand, is being built from the ground up as a product aimed specifically at increasing touchpoints and stickiness with Stripe customers.
Stripe Tax provides real-time tax calculation based on customer location and product sold; transparent itemizing for customers; tax ID management in areas (like Europe) where business customers can provide their code and get a reverse charge on tax if they are under a certain turnover threshold themselves; and reconciliation and reporting across all transactions to make filing and remittance easier.
But there is for now no way to use Stripe Tax outside of Stripe payments.
This could pose some problems for some customers. These days, many of the strongest retailers will take an “omnichannel” approach that might cover selling through marketplaces, selling through websites, selling through social media and more — and not all of those experiences may be powered by Stripe. It will be worth watching whether future iterations of Stripe Tax can account for that.
Stripe’s most significant product launch prior to Stripe Tax — Stripe Treasury last December — underscores how the company is currently very focused on diversifying outside of its basic payments business and opening the platform to much wider, more scaled transactions.
Treasury, which is still in invite-only mode, saw Stripe partner with established banks to provide a business banking service, providing a way for its customers to handle money that they generate from their Stripe-powered businesses.
The full country list where Stripe Tax is launching is Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Updated to correct the number of customers TaxJar has to 23,000.
Salesforce dominates the world of CRM today, but while it’s a popular and well-used tool for organizing contacts and information, it doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to helping salespeople and marketers sell better, especially when meetings are not in person. Today, one of the startups that has emerged to help fill the gap is announcing a round of growth funding on the back of a huge year for its business.
Qualified — which builds better interactions for B2B sales and marketing teams that already use Salesforce by tapping into extra data sources to develop a better profile of those visiting your website, in aid of improving and personalizing the outreach (hence the name: you’re building “qualified” leads) — has picked up $ 51 million in funding. The startup will be using the Series B to continue building out its business with more functionality in the platform, and hiring across the board to expand business development and more.
Led by Salesforce Ventures, the funding round also included Norwest Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures, both previous backers, among others. As with so many rounds at the moment — the venture world is flush with funding at the moment — this one is coming less than a year after Qualified’s last raise. It closed a $ 12 million Series A in August of last year.
Qualified was co-founded by two Salesforce veterans — ex-Salesforce CMO Kraig Swensrud and ex-SVP of Salesforce.com Sean Whiteley — serial entrepreneurs who you could say have long been hammering away at the challenges of building digital tools for sales and marketing people to do their jobs better online. The pair have founded and sold two other startups filling holes to that end: GetFeedback, acquired by SurveyMonkey, and Kieden, acquired by Salesforce.
The gap that they’re aiming to fill with this latest venture is the fact that when sales and marketing teams want to connect with prospects directly through, say, a phone call, they might have all of that contact’s information at their disposal. But if those teams want to make a more engaged contact when someone is visiting their site — a sign that a person is actually interested and thinking already about engaging with a company — usually the sales and marketing teams are in the dark about who those visitors are.
“We founded Qualified on the premise that a website should be more than a marketing brochure, but not just a sales site,” Swensrud, who is the CEO, said in an interview.
Qualified has built a tool that essentially takes several signals from Salesforce as well as other places to build up some information about the site visitor. It then uses it to give the sales and marketing teams more of a steer so that when they reach out via a screen chat to say “how can I help?” they actually have more information and can target their questions in a better way. A sales or marketing rep might know which pages a person is also visiting, and can then use the conversation that starts with an online chat to progress to a voice or video call, or a meeting.
If a person is already in your Salesforce Rolodex, you get more information; but even without that there is some detail provided to be slightly less impersonal. (Example: When I logged into Qualified to look around the site, a chat popped up with a person greeting me “across the pond”… I’m in London.)
Qualified also integrates with a number of other tools that are used to help source data and build its customer profiles, including Slack, Microsoft Teams, 6sense, Demandbase, Marketo, HubSpot, Oracle Eloqua, Clearbit, ZoomInfo and Outreach.
Additional data is part and parcel of the kinds of information that sales and marketing people always need when reaching out to prospective customers, whether it’s via a “virtual” digital channel or in person. However, in the last year — where in-person meetings, team meetings and working side-by-side with those who can give advice have all disappeared — having extra tools like these arguably have proven indispensable.
“Sales reps would heavily rely on their ‘road warrior’ image,” Swensrud said. “But all that stuff is gone, so as a result every seller is sitting at an office, at home, expecting digital interactions to happen that never existed before.”
And it seems some believe that even outside of COVID-19 enforcing a different way of doing things, the trend for “virtual selling”, as it’s often called, is here to stay: Gartner forecasts that by 2025, some 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place in digital channels. (So long to the expense account lunch, I guess.)
It’s because of the events of 2020, plus those bigger trends, that Qualified has seen revenues in the last year grow some 800% and its net customer revenue retention rate hover at 175%, with funding rounds come in relatively close succession in the wake of that.
There is something interesting to Qualified that reminds me a bit of more targeted ad retargeting, as it were, and in that, you can imagine a lot of other opportunities for how Qualified might expand in scenarios where it would be more useful to know why someone is visiting your site, without outright asking them and bothering them with the question. That could include customer service, or even a version that might sell better to consumers coming to, say, a clothes site after reading something about orange being the new black.
For now, though, it’s focused on the B2B opportunity.
There are a number of tools on the market that are competing with Salesforce as the go-to platform for people to organise and run CRM operations, but Swensrud is bullish for now on the idea of building specifically for the Salesforce ecosystem.
“Our product is being driven by and runs on Salesforce,” he noted, pointing out that it’s through Salesforce that you’re able to go from chatting to a phone call by routing the information to the data you have on file there. “Our roots go very deep.”
The funding round today is a sign that Salesforce is also happy with that close arrangement, which gives it a customization that its competitors lack.
“Qualified represents an entirely new way for B2B companies to engage buyers,” said Bill Patterson, EVP of CRM Applications at Salesforce, in a statement. “When marketing and inbound sales teams use this solution with Sales Cloud… they see a notable impact on pipeline. We are thrilled about our growing partnership with Qualified and their success within the Salesforce ecosystem.”