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Problem: A steady flow of traffic to a landing page, but a majority of visitors leave without becoming leads. Solution: First, you must begin thinking like your customer. Take a step away from your business objectives—e.g., let's get them to “buy” or “sign up”—and think about what the customer wants. It's not bombardment of “buy now” marketing messages; rather, it's compelling content relevant to where they are in the buying cycle. Also, find a Web site usability expert. If you're breaking common rules of usability, fixing those errors alone increases conversion—sometimes up to 50% or more. Most landing pages sputter to create leads because they force users to submit information before they are ready to do so. A landing page is only as good as the content behind it, so provide value to the visitor upfront before requesting action. Finding information has to be intuitive and without surprises in the b-to-b world. Only after supplying users with relevant information can you ask them to reciprocate with action through registration or a request-for-information form. In the conversion cycle, this is what we call the “seducible moment.” I was recently comparing the landing pages of two large technology companies. Each landing page was sandwiched in the middle of each company's Web site. Once I clicked on a link that took me off the landing page, I was lost in the morass of a thousand-page Web site with no information relevant to my initial inquiry. If your landing page is positioned in the middle of your corporate site, you'll lose conversions from shear confusion. You may also consider using a microsite to increase conversions from your vertical search campaign. Unlike a landing page that may lack relevant information or a Web site that serves many audiences—investors, media, prospects, partners—a microsite delivers a targeted experience for a single campaign or brand. If specific keywords are driving your vertical search campaign, then your best conversion tool may be a microsite tailored to those visitors, with simple navigation and detailed information relevant to users' specific interest.

Aaron Kahlow is the managing partner of Business OnLine (enterprise.business ol.com), a b-to-b Web site services company.

Problem: Efficiently communicating to multiple constituents—sales force, affiliates, suppliers, distributors, leads, etc.—in a personalized way. Solution: Communicating effectively with a segmented audience is a common challenge. You have to look no further than your own e-mail trash folder to know what happens to unsolicited information that doesn't directly pertain to your needs. Many of the emerging social networking technologies, such as RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, widgets, blogs and even podcasts, can help better target your information to its appropriate audience. Many of these technologies are low-cost and easy to implement; the real effort is in organizing content. Much of the information, such as press releases, financial information and technical documents, is probably online already, and there is assuredly a wealth of information in-house. All that needs to be done is to develop categories for the information—for instance, marketing materials, community relations, product information and industry trends—and determine which technology is most appropriate for the information. RSS can be an effective way to deliver press releases, sales information or other data that are updated frequently. Audience segments can subscribe to the specific feeds that are relevant to them. Developing desktop applications such as a widget, which automatically updates and is always available, can be a great tool allowing a sales team in the field to obtain the latest marketing materials, sales information and lead status. Podcasts are also emerging as an effective way to communicate with potential buyers and other audiences. In a recent KnowledgeStorm/Universal McCann report, 60% of the technology buyers surveyed said information currently delivered as white papers or analyst reports would be more interesting as podcasts, and 55% indicated they would be more likely to consume that information in podcast form. The advantage of these social networking technologies is that they allow the audience segment to select the information it needs most, and they allow you to provide that information in a more timely, and often more compelling, fashion.

Adam Heneghan is president of Elevation Inc. (elevation-inc.com), a Chicago-based provider of online marketing services and technology.

Problem : Sending too much—or too little— e-mail to subscribers. Solution: Moving corporate communications to e-mail distribution can save thousands of dollars in print costs. But the average b-to-b manager today is overwhelmed by hundreds of e-mails each day. Understanding what frequency is just right for your audience will have a direct impact on your readership.  Here are three best practices that we've gleaned from our customers' experiences. 1) Consider whether the frequency is appropriate for the nature of the content. For example, a multiarticle newsletter targeting financial analysts is a lot of content to digest on a daily basis. Weekly or monthly distribution is likely a better choice. But for special notifications—such as stock alerts—timeliness is everything to your audience. 2) Make your subscribers aware of the intended frequency. Set specific frequency expectations with your audience when they sign up for your communications. You should also offer several options so they can tell you their preference—for example, daily headline alerts, weekly bulletins, monthly news, quarterly roll-ups and annual reports. Allow them to sign up for a single or multiple communications rather than all or nothing. 3) Look for clues in your readers' open rate and click-through statistics. Are your subscribers opening your daily messages? If not, try offering the same information in a weekly e-mail. If readers are not clicking through all the articles in your quarterly publication, then it may be too long. Try breaking up the information into shorter, more frequent messages and test how your audience responds. Overall, it is important to take a proactive approach to understanding the frequency desired by your subscribers in order to avoid unsubscribes. When in doubt, survey your subscribers and let them tell you what they want.

Joe Colopy is the founder and CEO of Bronto Software (bronto.com), a provider of e-mail marketing software.

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