Too early to talk Q3? Nope.
For many companies, Q3 is slow. Summer vacay is in full swing, and those of us back in the office are itching to pack it in early. And Europe? Literally the entire continent is eating gelato at the seaside until mid-August.
Yes, it’s summertime and the livin is easy (as Gershwin wrote and Billie Holiday turned into magic—you really should listen right here). It’s everyone’s favorite season but Q3 can be the toughest time of year for B2B. So why not plan ahead and take advantage of the lull?
Here’s three ideas to kick start your Q3 plan (or recharge marketing any time of the year).
1. The Summer of the Sprint
For those familiar with agile project management, scrums and sprints are a big deal. While the marketing team isn’t responsible for product development, which is usually the context for agile, you can still apply the idea to marketing.
Pick three sprint themes to tackle this summer. Maybe your customer onboarding needs a refresher, or nurture emails that have been running on autopilot need some love, or you’ve been meaning to connect with new influencers to expand your reach but haven’t had the time.
No matter what you have going on, I’m pretty sure you can find a few projects that dropped off the radar, and those will be your sprints. From there, it’s all about planning and execution.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how a sprint runs:
- Identify sprint theme
- Pinpoint goals and scope the work
- Select team members and responsibilities
- Schedule kickoff meeting and daily scrum
- Meet at the end for a project review
- Move on to the next sprint
Week-long sprints are great because they’re so fast. On Monday you kickoff, and by Friday you’ve achieved something. The momentum never has time to wane, and before you know it, you’re on to the next thing. If you have a bigger project, try two or three-week sprints.
By the end of the summer, the team will feel great about crushing a few big projects and you’ll have results to show for it.
2. The Summer of A/B Love
You only need to attend one conference a year to feel cosmically bad about the A/B tests you’re not running.
When it comes to email marketing, web presence, messaging, and pretty much everything else we do, A/B testing is the one thing we should be doing, yet tends to get kicked to the curb. A shame, since A/B testing can actually help identify valuable insights that can’t be found by other means.
Build a few important A/B tests into your Q3 plan. If that doesn’t sound like fun, divide into Team A and Team B and see who wins.
If you can find a way to gamify the tests, you’ll get the whole team writing better copy, tightening up messaging, and re-imagining landing pages for better conversion.
Regardless of what you’re testing this summer, take the time to do it right. Also take the time to listen to this podcast, where two wicked smart economists discuss data and causation.
And speaking of gamification, don’t forget to pick a nice outdoor patio for happy hour to celebrate the winning team!
3. The Summer of Trying Something New
Even if summer isn’t a slow time for your organization, it’s a great time to kick the tires on a new tool or platform. If you wait to start assessing vendors and doing demos until Q4, it could be too late to sign a deal and get up and running in time for the new year.
So think about the tools and initiatives you’ve been meaning to explore and get into it.
Here are a few solutions we love:
Pretty sure we might have hit maximum overload on ABM about four months ago, but while many are familiar with the concept, most are far from implementing it or understanding how to measure ABM success.
Over the past few years, digital and inbound have matured and we’ve learned a few lessons. Namely, when you stuff the top of your funnel with folks who downloaded a piece of content, it might take an act of divinity to move those folks through the funnel.
Without exactly the right mix of content, campaigns, and sales outreach, you can forget about decent conversion rates or a healthy funnel.
Or, you can stop thinking solely in terms of leads and start thinking about engaging the right people at the right accounts. This is where ABM comes in, and Engagio is leading the pack. Because ABM requires tight alignment between sales and marketing, Engagio has built a great platform for marketers and an equally great Salesforce widget for your reps to track account activity.
LinkedIn for Lead Gen and Retargeting
Okay so LinkedIn just rolled out native forms. If you run sponsored content programs already, you can now point to a LinkedIn form instead of your own.
I like being an early adopter so I’ve been giving it a try for one of my clients. I’m recommending it here because I’ve seen a boost in conversion: forms are pre-filled with the person’s LinkedIn data, thus removing friction, and the experience is seamless because they’re not leaving LinkedIn and bouncing to your landing page (you could also argue there’s less connection with your brand).
That said, the new lead gen forms are not without bugs (you can’t download leads in Chrome—only works in IE or Firefox), and the UX is not at all intuitive: you need an account manager to walk you through it once or twice.
Another huge offering from LinkedIn is retargeting through Matched Audiences. You can engage key accounts, prospects, and audiences with three new capabilities: website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting.
If your database is loaded with contacts who’ve gone cold and email isn’t cutting it, this is an effective way to reach them through targeted ads and content. And for visits to your website that haven’t converted, you’ll expand your reach on LinkedIn, which has the potential to be much more targeted than Google Display.
Plus LinkedIn is up to 500 million members, so.
Welp, if I didn’t believe in this product I wouldn’t be working here. Sponge is the only solution that ties planning with performance and analytics, and really helps even the most non-mathy marketer become revenue-focused and quantitative.
After a simple integration with Salesforce, login to Sponge and start playing with revenue targets and model budget scenarios to see marketing’s impact on the bottom line.
Sponge also provides reporting made for demand gen marketers, so you won’t have to rely on Salesforce reports and waiting around for the ops team to get you the data you need. Since Sponge gives you one place for plans, campaigns, and analytics, the whole team will be addicted before you know it.
If you’re a semi-neurotic serial refresher (no judgment here)—tracking campaign performance by the minute, running conversion rates, and contemplating the health and velocity of your funnel—Sponge is your new nerdy best friend.
If you use gift cards or other incentives to drive webinar registrants, survey completion, or any other point of engagement, I bet whatever you’re doing is pretty manual and not easy to track.
Rybbon changes all that. You can order through the Rybbon portal, set up your campaign, grab a token for Marketo, and you’re done. You can track when a gift is redeemed and schedule a sales follow up. The ease of use is one thing, but the lack of risk is also huge: if your allotted giftcards aren’t used, you can return them for a refund or order new gifts in any increment you need.
Try a survey that helps you get a better read on your customers and prospects, then offer the anonymous results in a follow up campaign. It’s a great way to boost engagement and get valuable insights at the same time.
So there you go, a few ideas to rally the team and try new initiatives that can move the needle in meaningful ways. Whether your summers are slow or not, a smart Q3 plan can set you up to crush Q4 and end the year strong.