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The 34 Marketing Principles I Live By

Oct 30, 2018
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neil patel

Can you guess how long I’ve been a marketer?

7 years? Maybe 10?

Guess again.

I’ve been a marketer for 18 years now. That’s a long time… And funny enough, I’ve also been an entrepreneur for the same amount of time as I’ve never really held a “corporate” job.

Many of you think I am smart, and I am great at marketing. But let me burst your bubble… I am NOT smart, and I am NOT a great marketer.

Instead, I’ve just been doing everything long enough where I’ve learned what not to do.

See, the first 4 or so years of my marketing career went really slow and didn’t go the way I wanted. This was mainly because I kept making mistakes. And even worse, I kept repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

So, when I was around 20 years old, I created a list of marketing principles to never break because I wanted to ensure that I didn’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Over time I kept adding to the list, and it has helped me succeed not only as a marketer but also as an entrepreneur.

Hopefully, the list principles below helps you get to where you want in life. I know it’s helped me tremendously.

Here goes:

Principle #1: Don’t be the first

So many new marketing channels pop up, don’t be in a rush to try them all. Especially when these channels are new and unproven. You’re more likely to waste time than find wins.

At the same time, you don’t want to be the last either. The key is to be an early adopter. Once a channel is picking up steam, that’s when you want to jump on board and see if you can leverage it for your business.

Principle #2: Ride it while it lasts

Every channel that works eventually gets saturated. Some fade away, but most stick around, and some just don’t work as well.

For example, Facebook grew through sending out invitation emails to everyone in your email address book. That just doesn’t work anymore.

Digg used to be an amazing site that drove 100,000 visitors to a site in less than 24 hours. It doesn’t anymore. Google AdWords used to be a cheap way to drive sales. It still works, but it is expensive.

When you find a channel that is working amazingly well, push hard and milk it for as long as it lasts. As time goes on, you’ll want to keep leveraging it, but you’ll naturally have to scale back as more competitors jump due to price increases.

Principle #3: Sales and marketing should be owned by one person

To truly grow, you need to understand the whole picture. From how someone comes to your site, to what they are looking for, to how to sell, upsell, and retain a customer.

You need to think about the whole cycle a customer goes through.

For that reason, a company eventually needs a Chief Revenue Officer (especially in the B2B world). A CRO is someone in charge of both sales and marketing. The departments can run separately, but they need one boss.

When both departments don’t roll up into one boss, there is typically a disconnect. This will cause the conversion rates to be lower.

Principle #4: Go all in during recessionary periods

The market moves in cycles. When things go down people pull back on marketing. Don’t optimize for short-term gains, optimize for the long run.

Marketing tends to be more cost-effective during recessionary periods. This is when you should be spending more, doubling down, so that way you can beat your competition once the recession is over.

Principle #5: If you aren’t thinking long term, you won’t beat your competition

Most publicly traded companies optimize for a return within the first 12 months. Most venture-funded companies have a 1 to 3-year outlook. If you want to beat these companies, you need to have a 3-plus year outlook. This will open up more marketing channels that your competition can’t look at due to investors and outside pressure.

With your marketing, it doesn’t mean you have to lose money for 3 or more years to beat your competition. It means you just have to get creative. For example, I know marketing costs are rising each year, so I’ve invested in software to generate visitors at a much lower cost than CPC advertising.

Doing these sorts of things requires patience as it can take years for creative ideas to come to fruition.

Principle #6: Never rely on one channel

Good channels eventually become saturated and it’s too risky if your marketing is solely based on one channel.

If it goes away or stops working for your business, it will crumble you. You can’t control algorithms, and you can’t always predict costs. Focus on an omnichannel approach.

In other words, you can’t just do SEO or social media marketing. You need to eventually try and leverage all of the major marketing channels.

Principle #7: Marketing tends to get more expensive over time

It’s rare for marketing to get cheaper. You can’t control this. As much as you focus on marketing, you have to focus on conversion optimization. It’s the only way to keep you in the game as costs increase.

Try to run at least one A/B test each month. And don’t run tests based on your gut. Use both quantitative and qualitative data to make decisions.

Principle #8: Don’t take your messaging for granted

No matter how effective your traffic generation skills are, you won’t win if people don’t understand why they should buy from you over the competition. A great example of this is Airbnb. They beat Home Away and are worth roughly ten times more.

They both have a similar product and they both executed well. Airbnb came out much later, but they nailed their messaging.

Spend time crafting and creating amazing messaging. Typically, amazing messaging requires story-telling and understanding your customers.

You may have to survey your customers or talk to them over the phone, but eventually, you can come up with the right messaging using qualitative data. And once you’ve figured out the right messaging, retest each year as market conditions can change, which will affect your messaging.

Principle #9: The numbers never lie

Opinions don’t matter!

Marketing should always be a data-driven approach. Follow the numbers and keep auditing them as things will change over time. What works now may not in the future due to external factors that you can’t control such as privacy and security concerns.

For example, if your users claim to hate exit popups, but the data shows an exit popup increases your monthly revenue by 10%, then continually use the exit popup.

People within the organization will complain and argue with you, but as long as you aren’t doing anything unethical, follow the data.

Principle #10: The best thing you can do is build a brand

Whether it is a corporate or personal one, people connect with brands. From Tony Robbins to Nike, people prefer brands. By building a brand, you are building longevity with your marketing.

Don’t ever take it for granted and start building it from day one. No matter how small or big your company is, you should continually work on improving your brand.

From the story behind why it exists to showcasing it wherever you can, push hard on branding. In the short run, it will not produce a positive ROI, and it is hard to track the value of a growing brand, but it works.

When people want to buy sports shoes, they don’t always perform Google searches. Instead, they just think “Nike.” When people want a credit card, they think Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express.

Brands are powerful and create longevity.

Principle #11: Always protect your brand

You’ll have opportunities to generate quick sales or traffic at the sacrifice of your brand image. Never do it.

It’s better to have less traffic and sales in the short run than it is to tarnish your brand in the long run. If you tarnish your brand, you’ll find that it will be hard to recover and cost more money.

Principle #12: Don’t take shortcuts

Every time someone presents a social media or SEO shortcut, avoid it. Typically, they won’t last long, and they could set you back through a penalization. It’s better to be safe and think long term.

It will be tempting but say no.

Principle #13: Don’t market crap

Building a crappy product, service, or site just won’t cut it. With the web being competitive and it being easier to start a site online, you need to make sure you have something incredible.

It’s 10 times easier to market something people love than it is to market something people don’t care about.

No matter how good of a marketer you are, it’s not easy to market something people don’t want. So first focus on creating something amazing.

Principle #14: Hire a full-time affiliate manager from day 1

There are always people within your space who aren’t competitors and have an established user base. Have a dedicated resource continually reaching out and partnering with these sites and companies.

It’s a good long-term way to grow without having to invest a lot of capital. Even if your product or service isn’t ready, hire this person from day one as it takes 6 months to fully build up a good base of partnerships and affiliates.

Principle #15: Go against conventional marketing wisdom

Doing what everyone else is doing won’t work for the long haul. Doing the opposite usually works much better.

It may sound risky to go against the grain, but it is one of the best ways to grow when you are in a saturated market.

A simple example of this is how Gmail grew when they first came out. Space was crowded and even though their tool was great, so was a lot of the competitors. Gmail grew by creating the illusion of exclusivity. People had to be invited by other members to get a @gmail.com email address.

Principle #16: If you aren’t scared, you’re not pushing the limits

If you’re cheering about everything you are doing when it comes to marketing, something is wrong. You need to be scared and be going through a mix of emotions every time you launch a new marketing campaign.

If you aren’t then you’re not pushing the limits. Testing campaigns that your competition won’t ever dare to try, and, of course, be ethical when doing this. Don’t burn your brand.

The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Those who push the limits, tend to have a greater reward.

Principle #17: Don’t be unethical

You are going to have opportunities to gain quick wins at the cost of your customers. Always put others first. It’s the only way to survive in the long haul. In general, if you are going to have trouble sleeping at night, you shouldn’t be doing it.

A good example of this in marketing is how affiliates use forced continuity. This is when they sell physical products for free as long as their customers pay for shipping. What these customers don’t realize is that they are going to receive the same product every month and they will get a bill every month as well.

Don’t be unethical.

Principle #18: Get the right influencers onboard early

People tend to have a deeper connection with individuals over corporate brands. Get influencers on board early, as it will help you attract customers faster.

Make sure your influencers are related to your business or else it won’t work and will just be a waste of money.

For example, if you are selling a B2B software you don’t want half naked Instagram influencers promoting your product. It won’t work.

But if you are selling fashion products, having influencers on Instagram who have popular fashion channels will help drive sales.

Principle #19: Video is the future

People want to connect with you and your company. If you aren’t integrating video within your marketing, you are making a big mistake. Whether you like being on camera or not, video should be in your strategy from day 1.

When you create videos, don’t just put it on your site. Put the same videos everywhere… from social networks to asking other websites to embed your videos on their site.

You should even test running video ads as they tend to be more effective than text-based ads. They are more expensive to run, but the conversion rate is typically higher.

Principle #20: You don’t know everything

Marketing is always changing. No matter how good you get at one tactic, never stop learning. Having the attitude that you are great will only hurt you. Have an open mind and be willing to learn from anyone, especially newcomers with little to no experience as they bring fresh insights.

Principle #21: Don’t hire arrogant marketers

If you have arrogant marketers on your team, consider replacing them with people who are open to learning (assuming you aren’t breaking any HR laws).

Arrogant marketers are typically stuck in their ways and they aren’t open to change. Just because someone doesn’t know as much, doesn’t mean they can’t learn.

Arrogant marketers tend not to experiment, and they prefer sticking with what they know.

Principle #22: Little is the new big

Social media has empowered everyone. Don’t take people for granted, even if they don’t have money. By helping everyone, it will cause your brand to grow in the long run.

Don’t worry about a direct ROI when helping others, it will cause word of mouth marketing.

Because of social media, everyone can impact your brand in a good or bad way. So make sure it’s in a good way by helping everyone out (as much as it is feasibly possible).

Principle #23: Continually test what’s working

Because of external factors that you can’t control, things change over time.

For example, 3rd party authentications used to boost conversion rates, but now people are concerned with using them because of privacy concerns.

Always retest what has worked in the past every 6 months to ensure it is still helping you.

When you don’t retest, you’ll find that your conversion rates will drop over time and you won’t know the cause of it.

Principle #24: The majority of people don’t read

If you write a masterpiece, expect the majority of the people to not read it. Make sure your content and marketing landing pages are easy to skim. Without this, you’ll lose out on a large portion of sales.

Things like design, spacing, colors, and typography all affect readability and how easy it is to skim. Yes, messaging is important, but if no one reads it then you won’t generate sales.

Principle #25: Headlines are more important than content

8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 will click through and read your content. Spend as much time coming up with a headline as you do writing content. If you have an amazing masterpiece and a terrible headline, it won’t get read.

You shouldn’t stop with one headline either. Consider A/B testing a handful of headlines, as this will help you come up with a winning version.

Principle #26: Expand internationally once you’ve figured out your main market

The English language is always competitive. But markets like Asia and Latin America don’t have as much competition and people within these regions are willing to spend money.

Translate your website, content, product, and service as quickly as possible (while maintaining quality, of course!). It will open up more marketing opportunities and revenue streams.

When picking new markets, don’t just look at GDP look at the population as well. If one region has a slightly lower GDP but a higher population, consider going after the one with a larger population first.

Principle #27: Be willing to start over every year

If you are expecting to grow by just doubling down on what worked in the past, your growth will slow down.

By having the mentality that you need to start over and redo all of your marketing initiatives each year, you’ll grow faster as you will be receptive to change.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore what worked for you in the last 12 months, it means that you need to keep doing that as well as well as go back to the drawing board to try new tactics.

Principle #28: Ideas are a dime a dozen, but good team members aren’t

You’ll have dozens of ideas that you’ll want to test, but if you don’t have people to take charge of them they won’t go anywhere. Don’t bite off more than your team can handle.

If you want to grow faster, you need people to take charge and lead each of your marketing initiatives. This will also allow you to fine tune each channel and squeeze the most out of it.

And if you have dozens of ideas, don’t just hire any marketer. If you don’t hire the right person, with experience, you’ll find that marketing channel isn’t working out too well for you. So take your time.

Principle #29: Don’t hire people you need to train if you want to grow fast

There is nothing wrong with hiring people who need training, but it will cause your growth to slow down.

If you want more traffic and sales ASAP, you can’t hire people that need hand holding or training. Hire marketers with industry experience that know how to get off and running from day 1.

Ideally, you should even consider hiring marketers who have worked for your competition and have done well for them.

Principle #30: It takes 3 months for a marketer to get ramped up

No matter how skilled of a marketer you hire, even if they come from your competition, it typically takes 3 months for them to find their groove.

So, when you hire them as a full-time employee or a contractor, be patient and be willing to give it at least 3 months before you decide what you want to do.

Of course, you should see results within the first 3 months (even if they are small) but you still need to be patient.

Principle #31: People love stories and always will

Storytelling goes back centuries. They were effective back then and they still are today (and they will be tomorrow as well). Integrate stories within your copy. It will help you craft a better bond with your audience.

With a better bond comes higher conversion rates.

Principle #32: Don’t take trends for granted

If you see the market moving in a direction, even if you don’t think it will last forever, consider riding the wave. Even if you don’t like the trend, you’ll find that it typically makes customer acquisition easier and more affordable.

Use tools like Google Trends to help you determine which trends are popular and to see how the market is moving.

A great example of this is MixPanel copied the KISSmetrics product, but they grew faster as they rode the mobile analytics trend, while KISSmetrics did not.

Principle #33: Optimize for revenue, not top of funnel metrics

In marketing, looking at numbers like monthly visitors is great, but it isn’t the most important metric. Optimizing for leads isn’t enough either.

Your tracking needs to encompass the whole funnel. By optimizing for revenue you’ll be able to make better decisions and see faster growth.

When looking at your funnel, keep in mind that it shouldn’t stop with a purchase. There are upsells, repeat purchases, cross-sells, and even churn to consider.

Principle #34: Follow the rule of 7

People need to hear about your brand or see your brand 7 times before they’ll convert into a customer. In other words, you need to be everywhere if you want to win market share.

With every company having similar products and services, people have a hard time deciding who to buy from. If your brand is more prevalent, people are more likely to choose you.

Make sure you are leveraging as many proven marketing channels as possible.

Conclusion

Some of the principles above may seem obvious to you while others may not. But you’ll find that both you and your team will make many of the mistakes no matter how obvious they seem.

Whether it is the principles above or your own, consider creating a list of your own for your team to follow. And it shouldn’t just be for marketing. I have lots of principles… especially in regards to entrepreneurship.

So what other principles should marketers follow? Just leave a comment below with some of the principles you follow.

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Orignal Article Can Be Found Here

Why Sales Reps are the Best Marketers in Your Company

Every marketing playbook begins with “know your target market.”

It’s preached day in and day out by the top marketing pros. Every well-paid exec learns this on their first day on the job.

And for good reason. Knowing your target market is critical to generating traffic or converting sales.

But what does it really mean?

Most playbooks will tell you to fill out the classic buyer persona or demographic template.

What does that tell you, though? Honestly.

BMW sells convertibles to old, white, bald, suburban dudes who make a comfortable six-figures a year.

Ok. Now what?

That doesn’t tell you why they buy. That doesn’t tell you how to reach them, where they hang out, who influences them, or how to upsell them at the right time.

To make matters worse, most companies sell to multiple customer personas. And each one buys for vastly different reasons.

So shoe-horning them into a single box of…

Age
Gender
Location

… isn’t going to bring in paying customers.

Many marketers want to jump the gun. They go straight into A/B testing multiple audiences, for example.

You need 1,000 conversions monthly, minimum, to get results with statistical significance. And if you’re testing variables against a single persona, that means you need multiples of 1,000 conversions for each one. Which is one of the many reasons why A/B tests often fall flat.

Sales reps, on the other hand, know your target market inside and out. Even the lowest SDR on the totem pole has your target market down cold.

They deal with annoying sales objections all day long. They know what makes your target customer tick. They know what pushes them off the fence and what turns them into paying customers.

How? Because they’re in the trenches talking, learning, experimenting, and failing on a daily basis.

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Sales reps spend 41% of their time selling. Dealing with real customers in your target market. Finding out if they’re qualified to buy, or if they aren’t.

Meaning they know major things that marketers struggle with:

Who’s gonna buy from you
Why they’re gonna buy from you
Why they’re picking you instead of competitor A who charges less
Who ain’t gonna buy from you
Why they ain’t

That’s more powerful than any buyer persona template you can come up with. And according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, leads sourced by the sales department are among the highest quality (outside of unicorn-esque personal referrals).

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And they also produce the most leads and sales for a given business.

Sales reps understand customer motivations and preferences deeper than marketers do. Because without speaking one-on-one or meeting face to face, you can’t learn everything you need to learn about them.

They know how to sell without selling

You’ve just walked into a car dealership to scout new vehicles. It’s time for an upgrade.

You walk in the door and instantly realize you’ve made a big mistake.

It’s all downhill from here.

Time for a cup of terrible black coffee from the helpful car salesperson grinning from ear to ear. “Another deer in headlights,” they think. Practically licking their lips.

You know exactly what’s coming. But you still can’t avoid it.

You want the damn car. You’re practically foaming at the mouth.

You told yourself to be strong. To fight back. To flee from temptation.

But that smooth-talkin’ sales rep just roped you in.

They sold to you without selling.

90% of the sale happened before you ever stepped on that filthy lot. They built a brand image around the product. They didn’t even tell you to buy the car. They didn’t talk about its features or its wonderful quality.

They didn’t ask you to sign anything, read anything, or even what package you wanted. They simply got you to take a test drive.

See, we buy based on emotions. Ones that never show up on the Customer Persona deck circulating your department’s Slack channel.

They made you feel like a star when you got behind the wheel. That’s selling without selling. And sales reps are king at it.

It’s simply another form of branding that’s unmatched by most online attempts. And branding drives sales:


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Sales reps don’t know how to leverage branding or deliver an amazing customer experience because they read about it on GrowthHackers.com.

They know because they know. Because if they didn’t know, they wouldn’t eat.

Sales reps know how to sell to existing customers

Landed a few new clients from that latest marketing campaign?

“Run another one and double the acquisition! We just need X more traffic to land Y in new leads.”

Except, of course, those are just leads. Not sales.

And most new sales are completely unprofitable at the beginning.

So that’s not where the money’s at. Savvy (and wealthy) salespeople focus instead on where marketers don’t: existing customers.

You know, the customers who already use your product or service. Who already pay you cold hard cash. The ones that cost 5x less to sell to.

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But marketers aren’t really at fault for this. Our system/current mantra is that marketers exist to drive traffic. New inbound leads.

Content is king, right?

Their sole goal at most companies is to bring in more visitors. Meaning they often get caught up in customer acquisition and acquiring as many new visits as possible.

That leaves almost no room for focusing on marketing messages to existing customers.

Even worse, the deck is stacked against marketers. The mass majority of channels used by marketing departments are better for acquisition than retention:

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State of Inbound found that marketers’ top priorities consisted of entirely acquisition-focused tactics, too:

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On top of that, only 42% of companies can measure customer lifetime value with any accuracy. And if we know anything about real data, that data is probably wrong.

If you can’t measure lifetime value, you can’t know the potential of your existing customers.

That leaves you with one option:

To keep turning the wheels to avoid customer churn. To go back to those acquisition-based tactics. Bring in new leads with inbound strategies and make sure the CPA is low enough to allow for profits.

But sales reps are different.

They’ve built real, lasting relationships with the sales they’ve closed.

They don’t get paid based on Twitter followers. They get paid based on new real revenue.

And the money is in the list.

No, no the crappy email one full of unqualified subscribers who aren’t ever going to pay you. (Those influencers are wrong.)

The money is in the existing customer list because the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. Increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 25% or more.

Selling to existing customers is easier. And more profitable.

But typical marketing gigs don’t allow room for that. Marketers drive the traffic and email signups. Sales maniacally focus on dollars and cents.

Your sales reps actually talk on the phone

I know it sounds crazy. Phone calls? Is this 1973?

But phone calls are extremely important in today’s world.

Here’s why.

According to HubSpot, the most successful channel for sales reps to connect with a prospect is via phone:

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That means more deals. And more real, tangible sales are landed on the phone than any other channel.

Sitting on social platforms all day doesn’t drive big-ticket sales.

Sure, it can be great for generating brand awareness, but when push comes to shove, phone calls convert best.

Want to reach C-level executives, VPs, and managers? In other words, decision makers? Phone calls are your best bet.

And marketers almost never call customers. They’re too busy running around, managing new marketing campaigns.

Sales reps, on the other hand, are taking advantage of outdated phone calls for one specific reason: personalization. The Holy Grail of conversions.

According to AdAge, most marketers say that personalization will be the most important marketing tactic in years to come. But 60% of marketers struggle to personalize their content in real time.

Marketers love to talk about personalization. However, they don’t like to do it.

Phone calls are arguably the most personalized form of communication (aside from face-to-face interactions).

You’re talking directly with the prospect, for extended periods of time, developing rapport. You’re finding out what they did on the weekend, what ages their kids are, their tone of voice, their frustrations or excitements.

Try getting that on Instagram.

It’s real communication where the customer has a voice, and the sales rep is there to serve.

In fact, customers actually enjoy being contacted by phone:

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56% of surveyed customers prefer to communicate by phone for business purposes, after email and face-to-face.

When it comes to big fish like C-level executives and VPs, phone calls and real interactions rank high as well:

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While messaging and social seem fun, it’s not what business communicators or consumers want.

And sales reps are the ones conducting the face-to-face interactions and phone calls, not marketers.

To add to that, the most successful channel for connecting with prospects is via phone:

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Want to drive more sales?

You need to reach your prospects. And the best way to do it is through conducting a good old-fashioned phone call.

Aligning both departments is critical for success

Marketing and sales are often seen as two different worlds.

One has their heads in the clouds, posting cat gifs on social all day. While the other is a sleazy, money-hungry cesspool. (Marketers words, not mine.)

But that’s not true. The stereotypes simply don’t hold weight anymore.

Marketing and sales departments shouldn’t be seen as competition, but rather, two parts of a well-oiled machine.

When marketing and sales teams are tightly aligned, companies state that their marketing strategy is more effective:

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If you’re sales and marketing teams aren’t, you’re likely struggling with marketing.

And the cold hard truth is:

The majority of sales and marketing departments aren’t tightly aligned.

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Some are even rarely or completely misaligned. Meaning most strategies and campaigns are going to have major flaws that hinder revenue.

So your first step is to work on the fundamentals by making sure your messaging is aligned across both departments. Whether you’re cold emailing as part of your outbound marketing or blogging as part of your inbound marketing.

Conclusion

Viral coefficients don’t pay the bills. Neither do 301 redirects or Facebook chatbots.

And therein lies the problem.

Good marketing can’t beat real relationships or high-quality customer service.

Sales reps are actually the best marketers in your company. Even if they don’t want to be.

Experience trumps all, and sales reps almost always have the most customer experience in your company. They know your customers’ ins and outs. Their pain points. Their desires, wants and needs.

Aligning marketing and sales has never been more important according to the latest business data.

Want to become a better marketer? Spend more time selling, first.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


Source: Kiss Metrics

Why Inbound Marketing Fails (and How to Guard Against It)

There’s no doubting the power of inbound marketing.

It’s safe to say that inbound has revolutionized the way marketing works in today’s world.

When it works, that is.

Because many times, it doesn’t. Or at least, it takes too long.

Crafting an inbound campaign requires audience targeting, multiple forms of content based on funnel stages, and perfect integration between marketing and sales. Which rarely happens in most companies.

And on top of that, inbound marketing tends to pull in a very specific type of buyer.

Hint: It ain’t the CEO of a Fortune 500.

Inbound is great for driving certain kinds of leads. But again, many of those are unqualified and can take months to convert.

And you can’t risk spending months or years producing content only to see a trickle of unqualified, small deals roll in your door.

Here’s why inbound marketing fails and how you can guard against it.

Why Inbound Marketing Often Brings in the Wrong Clients

Inbound marketing is like a box of chocolates. You never know…

Cheesy movie quotes aside, this one rings true.

You really don’t know what you’re gonna get when you start a new campaign. Especially when it comes to B2B clients.

Think of it this way:

What clients and client types do you want?

Most likely large corporations. The big-time players. The accounts that will take your business to six-figures overnight.

Now… what clients do you usually get through your blog?

Small businesses. Local shops. Cookie-cutter clients.

Sure, your box of chocolates might have one or two big-time clients. But you really don’t know and can’t always control the outcome.

So why does this happen?

It all comes down to the inbound “funnel.”

Look at the standard funnel stages, and which content/lead magnets are usually associated with them:

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Whitepapers, guides, webinars, and demos.

These are all great. They all work to one degree or another. And there’s no doubt about that.

But when it comes to bringing in top clients, the typical inbound playbook fails miserably.

The only people sitting on hour-long webinars and downloading whitepapers are lower-level employees or a small business’s workers looking to improve their day-to-day, tactical activities.

C-suite executives and decision makers for large corporations aren’t anywhere near this type of content. They’re too busy.

And topics like “XX conversion rate tactics to increase your growth by YY%” don’t appeal to them. Because they don’t do tactics. They hire people to do them.

This leads to a long list of unqualified leads. Ones who aren’t making a final decision to purchase. Or even have a budget worth discussing.

Don’t keep reaching into the chocolate box with your fingers crossed. Unless you have another plan or can supplement it to cover the flaws.

Here’s how to take matters into your own hands and prevent the vicious cycle of poor inbound leads.

How Account-Based Marketing Can Help You Land Better Clients

Scaleable marketing activities work at the top of the funnel. Or for companies with extremely low barriers to purchase (read: low-priced, transactional, or free).

But those very same tactics often fail when you move up the food chain.

They aren’t personalized enough. They’re not customized enough.

And that’s exactly what account-based marketing seeks to achieve.

It focuses on identifying and qualifying ideal prospects first, before trying to get them deep into your funnel.

Before you’ve wasted thousands of dollars A/B testing or sending email campaigns and remarketing ads.

Your typical inbound marketing strategy is like fishing with a net, dragging it across the web and collecting as many leads as possible.

Account-based marketing, on the other hand, is like fishing with spears. You’re carefully selecting a target.


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A great example comes from WP Engine and Terminus.


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Their entire funnel was focused on identifying prospects ahead of time, expanding that research, engaging with them, advocating, and finally measuring success.

Conducting all that account research ahead of time wasn’t cheap or easy. But they got engagement from 93% of accounts on their target list.

Open rates jumped from 27% to 43%.

Overall, they increased their sales opportunities by 28%.

And that’s not all. The WP Engine team targeted 87 accounts and closed 32 deals.

Instead of casting a wide net, they honed in on specific accounts that were desirable and compatible with their services.

Through detailed, one-on-one customization, they were able to land clients that otherwise were unreachable.

So, how do you put some account-based marketing tactics into practice? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Conduct a Lead Search and Turn Them into an Audience

The first step in any proper account-based marketing game plan is to identify prospects first.

Creating a target list will allow you to get hyper-specific with your marketing messaging.

And we all know that personalization is critical.

Remember that ABM isn’t about marketing to 1,000 companies. Weed out prospects that aren’t going to convert.

Start by researching companies that could utilize your services and that match your target demographics.

You can do most of this directly on LinkedIn’s advanced lead search:

Once you’ve plugged in your data, you can start to add specific target accounts to your list.

Selecting these accounts will add them to your sales list, giving you constant updates.

Now that you’ve found accounts that fit your business goals, it’s time to do some deep digging.

Locate specific accounts and head to their profiles. Click “See all employees” to generate a list of employees at the company:

You can either scan for gatekeepers or use the keyword search to find them faster:

If you notice any shared connections, you have an even better shot at opening the door to a conversation.

And if you dig even deeper, you can often find the prospect’s email and social media accounts:

Start engaging with their content to get yourself out there. Sometimes, that’s all you need to start a conversation.

Take it a step further by researching these leads on tools like Socedo that allow you to target specific leads on social media:

Simply enter a few target keywords related to your products and services, and you’ll generate a huge list of leads.

Weed through the rest by narrowing your keywords down further.

Then simply repeat the same process of engagement and getting your foot in the door. You’ll quickly see which decision makers and buyers from which accounts are in-market.

Keep adding these accounts to a list or a Google Doc that you can keep track of.

The next step is to utilize LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences feature to target ads directly to your accounts.

These new audience formats are already proving to be extremely successful.

Advertisers see a 32% increase in post-click conversion rates with account-based targeting and a 37% increase in CTR for contact targeting.

To get started with these, fire up your LinkedIn Campaign Manager and head to the account assets section.

Click “Matched Audiences”:

Next, select the “Upload list audiences” tab and upload your own list of leads that you’ve collected through Socedo and LinkedIn:

You can upload lists of accounts or direct email contacts:

Be sure to format each with their own template listed in the upload process.

Now you can target high-quality ads their way, driving tons of brand awareness and getting a front row seat to their daily LinkedIn browsing.

Conferences Can Produce High ROIs

Most people think that conferences and conventions are a huge budget waster.

They cost thousands of dollars just to obtain a few tickets.

On top of that, you’ve gotta pay thousands in hotel and transportation costs.

It seems like an ROI nightmare.

Rand Fishkin from Moz estimates that a typical conference can cost anywhere between $4,630–$10,230. That could be your entire month’s marketing budget.

But what if that conference leads to you acquiring a new skill, discovering unique and groundbreaking ideas, or building relationships?

What if it nets you one of your best clients to date?

You could easily double, if not triple, your ROI.

Tons of high-level executives and business owners attend conferences every year. Rand himself has attended dozens over the years and believes they are an amazing investment.

Start by scouting conventions and conferences in your niche, specifically looking at the sponsoring companies of these conventions.

This will give you an idea of whether or not your target accounts are going to be attending.

For example, when you look at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference page, you can see the exact companies sponsoring and attending:

Knowing that they’re willing to pay big money to sponsor the event and have their brand featured tells you two things:

  1. They have a large budget
  2. They are heavily invested in your niche

Those two elements are critical when it comes to driving a sale.

Conferences are a great place to engage in genuine conversation with current targets and even find new targets for your business.

Sure, it’s old school and “lame.” But if lame works, let’s all be lame together.

So, what’s next? What do you do after you’ve initiated a relationship?

Go Old School with Direct Mail

Initiating the relationship is the easy part.

The hard part is standing out amongst the dozen other people vying for the same client you are.

Thinking about sending a targeted email offer?

Think again.

Email alone isn’t enough to catch their attention (even if it has en emoji in the subject).

And CMOs don’t have time to read your email offer.

Remarketing? Forget it. They see thousands of ads a month.

The goal in this step isn’t to get them to convert.

They aren’t ready yet. Account-based marketing takes a long time, but it doesn’t produce subpar leads like inbound marketing does.

While both take time and money, ABM produces a consistent quality of leads with a higher response rate.

To get the attention of high-level executives and big companies, you need to reach them through uncommon mediums.

For example, direct mail.

One study found that direct mail had the third highest ROI of any marketing tactic.

Another found that direct mail open rates are 42%. That’s nearly double email open rates.

One Utah-based marketing company found massive success with a direct mail campaign to land high-ticket clients.

97th Floor in Utah sent out a direct mail piece to their top clients, encouraging them to give back to the community:

On the back of the piece, they gave each client $20 to use to give back during the holiday season:

They effectively connected their offline efforts with online goals.

On top of that, they connected it to a #20helps hashtag to generate more buzz on social media.

Direct mail is old school, but when combined with online landing pages, it’s massively effective.

Why? Direct mail alone isn’t enough. You have to connect it back to inbound and digital best practices.

According to a study, marketing campaigns that used direct mail in conjunction with digital landing pages experienced a 118% lift in response rates.

Meaning people are much more likely to go to your site if you connect direct mail to online activities.

Want to reach the leads you really need?

Think outside the box and flip the script:

Go old school with direct mail, and tie it back to modern times with a landing page.

Conclusion

Inbound marketing was a game changer when the concept came to life.

And it still is today.

But it’s nowhere near foolproof or all-encompassing.

Results can take months to come to fruition, and the leads you do generate aren’t the ones your business really needs.

High-level executives aren’t sitting on your webinars during their busy schedules.

Decision makers aren’t being swayed by what CTA button color you choose.

In the event that your inbound marketing strategy is failing, you need a backup plan.

Safeguarding by using account-based marketing is a great start.

It can help you reduce the “box of chocolates” effect that you find with typical inbound playbooks.

Seemingly old-school sales methods like direct mail can help you cultivate real, genuine relationships with big-time leads.

The biggest customers don’t sign up after a blog post.

They get referrals. They vet. And they build rapport through personalization before ever signing on the dotted line.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


Source: Kiss Metrics

6 Engagement Marketing Metrics & How to Improve Them

“Engagement.” It’s a term often dismissed as “fluffy” that lacks true value towards primary business goals.

But we live in a world where customers can engage with us in real time. And with this comes an expectation of delivering the best experience possible.

It’s not just about letting your customers feel heard. Engagement metrics, while often seen as “vanity metrics,” are important indicators of how well your marketing is performing.

In this article, I’ll share six engagement metrics you must measure throughout the funnel to ensure your marketing is working. I’ll also share actionable tactics on how to improve them and, as a result, your bottom line.

1. Content Reach

You put in the grind and work hours to create a superb piece of content. You know it will serve your audience, but…

Crickets.

While often considered a vanity metric, Reach is still a great indicator of your content’s performance. If you’re promoting visual media through social platforms or blog posts, Reach dictates how well it will perform.

A simple definition of Reach is: “the total number of people who see your content.” It’s a metric that indicates the unique users and readers who see the content you promote.

There are a few elements to consider when measuring Reach:

  1. Unique users: As explained above, this is the standard method of measuring the reach of your content. Typically, unique users are measured through a 30-day window (thanks to cookies.) Bear in mind that not all views are created equally: a visitor to a landing page for a lead magnet will be more valuable than blog post readership.
  2. Geo: Understanding where in the world people are consuming your content helps you allocate budget and resources effectively.
  3. Device: Are your users reading your content on a desktop or a mobile device? Understanding how people consume your content will help you optimize and format the design experience of your content.

Another metric to keep an eye on is social shares. Calculated as part of your Reach, shares can provide an indicator on how well your content is resonating with your audience.

How to Boost Content Reach

Thanks to algorithm updates, organic reach is now tougher than ever. Last month, we saw the biggest ever drop in Facebook organic reach to date.

So how do you combat this? The most obvious way is through paid promotion. Many brands are allocating budget to boost the reach of their content.

Sponsored posts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, are more popular than ever. For example, Barry Feldman invested in sponsored Facebook posts to announce his new eBook. While this post only generated 100 organic views, his paid efforts reached over 2,400 users:

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Amplifying content using sponsored social posts and other paid media can be an effective way of extending reach, as well as generating a fresh stream of traffic. When it comes to earned media, influencer marketing is more popular than ever. In fact, 84% of marketers planned on running at least one influencer marketing campaign in 2017.

Consider starting by engaging with micro-influencers first. Unlike celebrities or public figures, they’re individuals who operate in specific verticals.

Their follower size is between 1,000 to 100,000 – which makes them more affordable and accessible than traditional influencers with an audience of 1M or over. They also tend to have a much higher rate of engagement.

Stitch Fix uses Instagram as a method of collaborating with micro-influencers. In the example below, they linked to a Q&A post with a fashion blogger to add value to their community while tapping into a wider audience:

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Identify the micro-influencers relevant to your brand, and then engage with them via social media before reaching out. Alternatively, get connected with influencers quickly using a platform like Upfluence or Hype Factory.

2. Time on Page vs. Scroll Depth

When you create an awesome piece of content, you want people to read it. However, if it takes ten minutes to read and users are only spending two minutes on the page, this might indicate a deeper issue.

“Average time on page” is a Google Analytics metric that helps you understand how users are engaging with your content. Before we cover this metric, it’s important first to understand average session duration.

Calculate average session duration by dividing total duration of all sessions (in seconds) by the number of sessions:

Total session duration (secs) / Number of sessions

The session duration for an individual user varies by how a user engaged with the last page of a session. For example, if a page contains a video, the session duration is tracked until the moment they hit “play.” Otherwise, the time spent on the page does not count towards the total session duration. Analytics Edge puts it best:

“If you track things like file downloads with events, and if a visitor downloads a file at the end of the last page, then the session duration is calculated to the time of that event (note: This does not happen if the event is a non-interaction type).”

So, why is “average time on page” such a tricky metric to measure?

“Time on page” and “time on site” are measured between timestamps of hits. So, if a user bounces, no time is recorded.

Furthermore, time on page is recorded even when a window or tab is inactive. This means that time on page is an average of users who didn’t bounce from that page.

Many marketers prefer monitoring scroll depth to time on page. It can provide a more accurate engagement metric for content, as the further someone scrolls through content, the more engaged they’re likely to be.

The truth is, you should measure both. Scroll depth alone can be misleading, as many users scroll through a page before deciding whether or not to continue reading.

You can access on-page metrics on Google Analytics using the Chrome extension (In-Page Analytics was removed from the GA interface this year.) Another solution is CrazyEgg or Hotjar’s Scrollmap technology, which shows you where on your page users are most engaged.

How to Boost Content Engagement

The more time people spend on your content, the higher the chance they are to convert.

Start treating your content as a marketing asset. Run regular A/B tests on pages with the large opportunities. You can find these opportunities by identifying pages that generate large amounts of traffic with low engagement. Head to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages on Google Analytics to access this data.

When Alex Turnbull wanted to improve engagement on the Groove blog, he ran an A/B test to see what effect storytelling would have on readership:

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The result? A 300% increase in people scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Look at your content and put yourself in your user’s shoes. Where are you failing to get their attention? At what stages might they get bored of your content?

Identify these potential points of friction, and then experiment with different headlines, introductions, and design layouts to improve engagement.

3. Social Comments & Conversation Rate

Reach is a great indicator of how many eyeballs view your content. Engagement with that content is often neglected and is arguably the most important aspect of social media marketing.

Therefore, comments should be regularly measured. Not only that but the overall sentiment of the conversation (i.e., positive or negative.)

Comment count is an exciting metric but can be meaningless without context. You must also measure the conversation rate. Calculate your conversation rate using this formula:

Total comments / Followers * 100 = Conversation rate

For example, a post that generates 30 comments may not seem like much to some. But for a Facebook page of only 250 likes, this number is significant. Using the formula above, the conversation rate for this post is 12%.

However, not all of your followers may see your post, and the above calculation doesn’t account for “non-followers” who see your content. With this in mind, another way of calculating conversation rate is against total reach:

Total comments / Reach * 100 = Conversation rate

With the above calculation, you’re measuring engagement against the number of users who actually see your post i.e. total impressions.

This metric helps answer the question: is this post interesting enough to initiate a discussion around?

How to Boost Conversation Rate

Using the question above, you can assume that the higher the conversation rate, the more your social content can be considered “interesting.”

Therefore, to increase engagement with your brand on social media, your content must be more interesting!

Ok, great. But “interesting” is subjective. What may be interesting to one audience may be boring to another.

To find out what content to create, look at the data. Look at your social media analytics over the last year and see where the spikes in engagement and reach occurred. Ask yourself:

  • What’s so interesting about this content?
  • Does the caption/headline hook in your users?
  • Is the image funny/inspiring?
  • Was the topic topical, or emotionally driven?

Use Unmetric’s free Discover tool to uncover popular content around specific topics. Search for relevant keywords/hashtags, select “Organic” under Post Type and then sort by “Most Comments:”

Using this approach, you can let the market tell you what it finds interesting. Use the data available to you and do more of what works.

4. Brand Name Search

Many marketers consider “branding” another fluffy term. It’s still important, and can often be the first step towards a sale.

The fastest way to measure your brand awareness is through brand query searches. To uncover this metric, head to Google Search Console and navigate to the Queries page and select the “Impressions” box:

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This page gives you an accurate estimate of how many people are searching for your brand name.

Other ways of measuring brand awareness include:

  • Social mentions: Search your brand name on Twitter and look at the total number of tweets in contains. Alternatively, use a tool like Mention to monitor social posts that mention your brand.
  • Inbound links: Using Webmaster Tools or Ahrefs can show you which pages link to your website.
  • Reviews: Sites like GetApp and Trustpilot can give you an idea of how people rate your brand’s products and services.

How to Boost Brand Awareness

The more content you produce, the more your brand awareness will grow over time.

Use retargeting ads to maintain top-of-mind awareness. Use Google’s display network and Facebook Ads to serve ads to those who have visited your website.

Retargeting ads can also help increase conversions using the Facebook pixel. For example, Expedia uses Facebook retargeting to capture users who viewed hotels without booking:

Content creation and PR also helps with brand building efforts. If your content is useful, entertaining or insightful, you’ll increase brand awareness over time.

5. Email Marketing Engagement

Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels. When it comes to measuring engagement, there are:

  1. Open rate: One of the top metrics measured by all marketers. Put simply; this tells you the total number of people who open your email.
  2. Clickthrough rate: The percentage of recipients who click on one or more links on your email. Calculated by dividing total (or unique) clicks by the number of delivered emails and multiplying that by 100.
  3. Conversion rate: The percentage of email recipients who clicked and completed an action on the landing page.
  4. Forwarding/sharing rate: The percentage of recipients who forward your email or click a “share” call-to-action.

Conversion rate is especially important. This metric is the biggest indicator of email marketing success. The ultimate goal of your email is to make a sale or persuade leads to take the next step in the funnel.

Using a tool like Return Path can help give you further insights into how your recipients are engaging with your emails. It shows you which devices and browser’s users use, as well as insights on when and where they view your emails.

Furthermore, it allows you to segment emails by demographics, mobile use, and custom tags.

How to Boost Email Engagement

The best approach to improving your email marketing results is to optimize each stage of the journey.

Open rates, for example, can be optimized by testing subject lines and which days of the week to send them. It’s also worth segmenting the users who open them most frequently and analyzing their behavior.

Many factors will affect clickthrough rates. For example, if your opening sentence doesn’t hook readers in, they’re less likely to read the rest of the email.

But your main focus should be on conversion rate. Test the following elements to improve conversions and, ultimately, ROI:

  • Opening sentence: Hook the reader in and guide them towards the call-to-action
  • Calls-to-action: Experiment with different text/buttons, e.g., “Click here” vs. “Get your free guide now.”
  • Landing page: Ensure the copy of the landing page compliments the email copy. The journey should flow seamlessly.

The example below from Freshbooks used social proof to reduce anxiety when releasing a new integration. It featured a testimonial from a customer, including a headshot to add an extra layer of personalization:

It’s the same approach you would take when optimizing a landing page. Test every element, from subject lines (headlines) to call-to-action text and buttons. Remove any unnecessary elements to make your emails as clear and persuasive as possible.

6. Net Promoter Score

As marketers, we’re always striving to make our audience happier. Net promoter score (or NPS) allows us to measure how happy they truly are.

Developed by Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company, NPS is a measure of how likely a customer is to recommend your brand.

Customers are categorized into three different segments: Promoters (score of 9 to 10), Passives (score of 7 to 8) and Detractors (score of 0 to 6.)

NPS can be calculated by simply asking the question, “How likely would you be to recommend our product/service?” Use this question within your website, SaaS platform or in an email survey.

How to Boost NPS

To improve NPS is to improve customer satisfaction. It’s a score that indicates how well your entire business is doing. Your goal is to generate more promoters, while converting passives and detractors into promoters.

It all boils down to delivering a delightful experience from the very beginning of the marketing funnel all the way to your product and service delivery.

NPS shows your product and marketing teams what users love about your product and where their pain points are. Use customer development to uncover where these sticking points are for your detractors.

So, then, the question is: what do you do with your promoters?

Referral and ambassador programs can turn happy customers into an entirely new acquisition engine.

Lululemon is a great example of this in action. They empower their ambassadors to lead yoga classes all over the world, and get support directly from the brand in the form of guidelines and content:

The key is to make them feel a part of something. Give your promoters the tools to easily create user-generated content (UGC) around your brand and to spread your message.

Conclusion

While engagement is often associated with “vanity metrics,” they can still be a key indicator for success.

The fact is your audience is active on many different platforms at once. Not just your blog, platform or website. The question is how do you get them onto your own media and into your marketing funnel?

Nurturing your audience on the platforms they’re active is the best way to do this. Improve each touchpoint on every channel you communicate with your audience on. This is how you convert attention into traffic & leads.

How do you currently measure the conversation with your customers? What are you doing to keep them engaged?

About the Author: Juuso Lyytikkä is the Head of Growth at Funnel.io. Funnel is a marketing analytics tool for online marketers that collects data from ALL advertising platforms and allows marketers to send and visualize this data anywhere. Book a demo to get a free trial.


Source: Kiss Metrics

Timely and Relevant Is The Only Message That Matters

During the 2014 Grammy Awards, musician Pharrell Williams was seen wearing an unusual hat:

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Sure, he may have gotten some funny looks, but it didn’t seem like a big deal.

That is, until a certain fast food chain seized the opportunity to craft a clever tweet:

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This was a spectacular feat on several levels. Many brands had been unsuccessfully trying to capitalize on the Grammys, but Arby’s nailed it.

It was also a great use of Arby’s social media persona. The restaurant even gained a funny response from Pharrell himself:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Those two Tweets gave Arby’s a colossal amount of publicity, gaining tens of thousands of retweets in a couple of days.

And they did it all with just eight words and a related hashtag.

Why did it work so well?

This smart marketing move had two important characteristics. It was timely, and it was relevant.

The most successful marketing is timely and relevant, and as I’m about to explain, that’s all that matters.

It doesn’t matter if you have millions of social media followers. It doesn’t matter if tons of influencers are promoting your product.

If your marketing isn’t timely and relevant, it won’t succeed.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to do marketing right. People are pickier about what they consume, and they’ll ignore anything that rubs them the wrong way.

If you throw salesy terms at your customers and pressure them to buy, you’re not going to get a lot of conversions.

But if you can build a connection with your customers, they just might turn into lifetime brand advocates.

You need to reach your customers where they are. That’s why timely, relevant messages are crucial for your brand.

What exactly does timely and relevant mean?

First, let’s define these terms.

“Timely” and “relevant” aren’t just buzzwords. They have real implications for your business, and as it turns out, they’re fairly complex.

Let’s tackle timeliness.

Many marketing campaigns are timely but not relevant. Often, these campaigns fail.

Make no mistake––timeliness is crucial. But you can still fail if you send a message at the perfect time.

Consider the Race Together campaign that Starbucks put out in 2015.

The campaign definitely came at the right time. The coffee giant launched it in response to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, which had just happened the previous year.

The cases were still in the news, and Starbucks decided to create a dialogue about race. It should have been a match made in heaven, but it wasn’t.

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The campaign flopped quite badly.

The initiative itself was inherently flawed. It didn’t matter that it came at the right time because it just wasn’t the right marketing approach.

The race issue is definitely of intense importance, but the way it was approached was solidly off.

So timeliness is definitely important, but your marketing can’t be just timely. It also has to be relevant.

To be relevant, you have to think about your audience’s current needs, wants, and opinions.

You can’t base your ideas of relevancy off of old trends or data. You have to stay up to date and figure out what your customers want and like right now.

You have to think about what your customers want, where you can reach them, and how you can benefit them.

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If your audience isn’t interested in what you have to offer, they’re not going to listen to you.

If your audience isn’t hanging out in the same places you’re marketing, they’re not going to hear you.

If your audience doesn’t derive any value from your marketing, they’re not going to pay attention to you.

Last but not least, if you want to be relevant, your marketing has to fall in line with your audience’s values.

If you launch an initiative that your customers fundamentally disagree with, you won’t see much success. The same thing will happen if your marketing is insensitive or poorly done.

To sum it all up, relevancy means catering to your customers in as many ways as you can.

When you combine timeliness with relevancy, you get a one-two punch that almost never fails to convert.

The danger of the wrong message

To understand why timely and relevant matters so much, let’s consider some marketing efforts that failed miserably.

One of the biggest marketing fails in recent years has to be Pepsi’s controversial ad that was called “tone-deaf” by almost every media outlet in the world, from the New York Times to USA Today.

The 2017 ad involved TV personality Kendall Jenner taking part in protests and eventually offering a can of Pepsi to police.

Pepsi said the ad was meant to “project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding,” but it fell flat because the ad painted an unrealistic portrait of protests and the interactions between police and protesters.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA5Yq1DLSmQ?wmode=transparent&modestbranding=1&autohide=1&showinfo=0&rel=0]


Like Starbucks’s Race Together campaign, Pepsi put this out at the right time, in the wake of police protests that seemed to divide America, and the company’s intentions were positive.

However, the ad wasn’t relevant. It was far too staged and the situation far too impossible to relate to viewers.

To put it bluntly, the public thought the ad was a ton of crap and spoke out against it. (Pepsi removed the video from their channel, but the re-uploaded version received over 150,000 dislikes!)

The flak that Pepsi received for the ad was more than negative publicity. Pepsi learned the hard way that the wrong message at the right time won’t work, and that was a wake-up call for businesses around the world.

You don’t have to be Pepsi or Starbucks to send the wrong message and alienate your audiences––it can happen to a business of any size.

SaleCycle found that out when its content strategy failed.

The B2B company wanted to produce more content and provide more value to its readers. So far, so good.

SaleCycle started publishing 2-3 pieces of content per week, and their overall content output soared.

However, they focused more on quantity and less on quality.

Even though they had 100 blog posts, just 10 of those posts made up half of their total blog traffic.

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The reason? They were publishing lots of content that their audience wasn’t interested in.

While it may have been timely, it wasn’t relevant whatsoever.

These examples prove that you need both timely and relevant marketing. You can’t just have one or the other.

Being timely but not relevant (or vice versa) is an awkward imbalance. It makes it seem like you’re kind of paying attention to your audience, but not really.

Both the Pepsi ad and SaleCycle’s content strategy were timely, but they weren’t relevant. In both cases, customers felt distanced from the business.

Ultimately, it’s your customers who decide whether or not your message is timely and relevant. That’s why you have to prioritize them.

You have to know your customers

Being both timely and relevant requires you to listen to your customers, get to know them better, and produce content that they want to see.

That sounds simple enough, but how does it play out in real life?

Basically, you have to continually track certain elements of your audience and use customer feedback to improve.

Okay, that still sounds simple. But trust me––there’s a lot to it.

Many businesses think that they can just glance at online reviews or social media posts to create timely, relevant messages.

But here’s the thing – customers want you to know them super well.

But the customer-business relationship is a two-way street. If you’re not doing your part, why should your customers?

So put in the extra effort to build personas, get to know what your audience wants, and cater to them.

Make “timely and relevant” your motto

I hope you’re convinced that timely and relevant are truly the only message that matters.

That doesn’t mean you’re done.

Understanding is only the first step. You have to implement it.

As corny as it sounds, being timely and relevant has to be something you are and not just something you do. (I told you it sounded corny.)

You might tell yourself that you’re being timely and relevant, but if your customers still aren’t happy, then you’re not doing so well.

Pepsi is a perfect example. When it created the disastrous TV ad, it wasn’t trying to deliver irrelevant content to their customers, but they misunderstood the kind of content their customers would connect with.

There’s no doubt that Pepsi thought it was delivering a message that was both timely and relevant.

Just like you probably think you’re delivering the right messages to your customers.

For all I know, you are. But the point is that you can’t ever assume you’re doing the right thing and turn a blind eye to your customers.

If you want to create the most timely and relevant messages, that concept has to be a focus throughout your company.

Everyone on your team should be thinking “timely and relevant.”

Think of Amazon’s mission statement. It’s easy to remember and permeates every level of the company.

Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Every Amazon employee knows that this is the goal. In the same way, your entire team should live and breathe “timely and relevant.”

That concept has to guide everything you do.

Your social media team should be thinking “timely and relevant.” Your product manager should be thinking it. Everyone from the interns to the CEO should be thinking it.

If everyone isn’t on the same page, then one person’s efforts could get completely lost in translation.

Conclusion

You care about your customers, right?

Obviously that’s a rhetorical question because you do care about your customers.

But be brutally honest with yourself: When you put out your content, run your shiny new marketing campaign, or release a new product, does that attention to your customers still come across?

The Pepsi and Starbucks fiascos proved that intentions don’t always translate into actions. What begins as a good-natured marketing plan may end up taking a nosedive.

As much as it might hurt to admit, you might be ignoring your customers.

And you might be sending your customers the entirely wrong message, which is directly caused by ignoring your customers.

At the heart of the matter, being timely and relevant is all about taking care of your audience.

If you listen to what your customers have to say and understand what they want, you’ll almost never send the wrong message.

You’ll understand your audience’s wants, needs, interests, and dislikes.

You’ll be able to see what kind of content is both timely and relevant.

To make it even easier on yourself, you can take advantage of Kissmetrics Campaigns.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/z946e3jlgn.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 

Campaigns was developed with the goal of delivering the right message at the right time. You’re able to send emails based on your users’ behaviors. Essentially, Campaigns is a behavior-based email engine. You find a segment of your audience that needs a nudge, and you create and send your emails in Campaigns.

The engine runs on the fuel of behavioral analytics and segments. Behavior-based emails mean that your emails are much more likely to be timely and relevant to your users.

And instead of relying on basic metrics like opens and clicks, Campaigns digs deep and looks at behavioral analytics.

Is your marketing and content timely and relevant? Have you had issues delivering the right message for your customers?

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.


Source: Kiss Metrics

Using Marketing Analytics to Win at Email Marketing

You might be part of the group of marketers that feel as though your email campaigns are missing something.

Only, you’re not sure what they’re missing.

You’ve reversed engineered your competitor’s email campaigns to see what they’re doing, but the truth of the matter is, you will never know the strategy behind their success because you don’t have access to their analytics.

So you end up in a cycle. You create emails, you write good copy and add relevant graphics, just like the guides tell you to, but you still don’t see the kind of results everyone talks about.

Email marketing is consistently one of the best marketing avenues to use.

So why aren’t you seeing the same results?

Many marketers make the mistake of not paying close enough attention to their email marketing analytics.

If you’re a marketer who isn’t using data to fuel and guide your email-marketing campaigns, you’re leaving serious money on the table.

Data allows you to see what does and doesn’t work so you can optimize your emails to perform better.

It’s a tricky, but rewarding process and involves taking raw data and turning it into actionable insights to help improve your email-marketing campaigns. Doing so will put you leagues above your competitors.

In this post, I’m going to explain the importance of using analytics to improve the way you segment your emails, improve the email content you send out and create winning email campaigns.

It doesn’t matter how brilliantly written your emails are, or how many well designed images they contain if you don’t see any results or can’t measure whether your efforts are helping you achieve your overarching goals.

Let’s dive in!

Choosing a Vendor

Looking at the current landscape of email marketing and the software available is often overwhelming.

If you’ve already chosen, and are happy with your provider, move on to the next section.

If we look at the email marketing software market radar below, it’s clear to see there are a number of different vendors to choose from.

Choosing an email service provider largely depends on what you hope to achieve and what feature(s) you’re looking for.

Source: Email Marketing Market Research, Crozdesk

Taking into account vendor size and the strength of the solution may help you evaluate which vendor to choose from based on your business’ personal requirements.

For example, if you’re looking to send automated, triggered email messages, you might use a tool like Kissmetrics Campaigns or you might choose to use a provider like Sendgrid if you’re looking to just send newsletters.

The issue, though, is although your choice of vendor will have some say in the types of campaigns you can run, they only go so far with providing you an honest view of how your campaigns are performing and what you need to do to improve them.

If you are looking to improve your email-marketing campaigns, you need to consider utilizing analytics to provide you with the core insight into how your current campaigns are performing against your preset goals.

Know Your Goals Before Choosing KPIs

Before you begin, think about what you hope to achieve from it.

You need to set goals.

Where most marketers go wrong is thinking their goals should be things like:

  • Increase open rate
  • Increase click-through-rate
  • Reduce the number of people who unsubscribe

Although these are some good metrics to follow (more on that later) they’re not goals.

Your goals should align with your business goals. For example, you might choose to do email marketing in the hope of generating more leads, growing your subscriber base or converting more leads into customers.

Note: you can have more than one goal, but you’ll have to tailor each metric to each individual goal.

When you’ve chosen the goal of your campaign, it’s time to work out which metrics you should be using to track the progress of your goal.

Image Source

For example, 73% marketers identified click-through rate as being one of the most useful metrics for measuring performance.

But let’s think about that for a second.

Say you’re the marketing manager at a SaaS company, you might want to increase your open and click through rate.

The problem is, open rate and click-through rates are known as process metrics. They indicate the order of events that occur from when an email is sent to when it reaches the subscriber. But they shouldn’t be goals in and of themselves.

Now if we reframe the situation and change our goal to: increase the number of free trial sign ups.

The reason isolating metrics is counter-productive is because it doesn’t give you the full picture.

Within your last campaign, suppose you increased your clickthrough rate. You might think that’s good, but the key question you need to answer is, did that increase the number of free trial signups? If the answer to that question is no, you need to work out why.

If it did increase the number of free trial sign-ups, can you correlate that to your click through rate? Now, you can see how things like changing your email subject can have a direct effect on your click through rate, which in turn has a direct effect on your conversions.

The key is to not take each metric as an individual number, but to use these process metrics and incorporate them into your overall marketing strategy to increase your revenue, or whatever your end goal might be.

If your goal is to attract more visitors to your website you probably want to focus on growing your subscriber list. So this is the metric you need to be following.

But what if your goal is to increase the number of leads generated? If this is the case, you should be tracking how many leads you’re capturing each day/week/month.

Choosing the metrics to follow largely depends on what sort of business you’re running. A SaaS company might have different goals than an e-commerce company who also might have different goals to a non-profit.

Moving Beyond Basic Data

If you want to win at email marketing, you need to think seriously about your analytics. There is a lot to track, so I’ve broken the core analytics down to focus on into three categories: basic, advanced and expert, with each getting harder to come by as you go up the scale.

Basic metrics

Basic metrics are easily accessible and are also known as behavior metrics. Most basic email service providers will give you some information around these metrics.

They include things like:

  • How many people open your emails?
  • How many people click your links?
  • Which links get the most clicks?
  • What’s the most common time people open your emails?
  • How many people unsubscribe (on average) from each email you send?

You might already be looking at behavior metrics to improve your campaigns.

But you’re ruining your chances of developing a winning strategy if this is the only data you consider.

What’s the point in having 100% open rates if no one purchases? Something has obviously gone wrong and understanding analytics further will help you understand why and where it all went wrong.

An open case for advanced email metrics

The thing about the basic metrics like click through and open rates, they’re basic metrics and simplistic. In that whilst they tell you who opened the email and who clicked through, they don’t tell you much else.

Moving beyond these basic metrics, consider your click-to-open-rate.

This metric tells you how engaging your email content is. It helps you understand whether the content of your email resonates well with your specified target segment. Working out this metric will provide you with a percentage of your subscribers who opened your email and also clicked on a link. It helps give you a clearer idea of the entire story.

So if one of your goals is to create engaging content, your aim should be to increase this percentage. Your click-to-open rate gives you an indication of how your subscribers behaved when they opened your email.

It gives you a complete, holistic view of how your email content is performing. For example, you might have a low click-through rate, but you can still have a solid click-to-open-rate. If you judge your emails on just one metric, you won’t get the full picture.

When you create a Kissmetrics Campaign, you set a Conversion goal. If the users you sent these emails to convert, they’ll count in this converted list. So for example, if you send out an email to people about a sale, you can select your Conversion as “Purchase”. If they read your email, then go on to Purchase, they’ve converted.

Advanced metrics

The advanced metrics looks at the results of your campaigns. They help you answer things like:

  • How many people actually purchased one of your products or services after clicking on your email?
  • How much money do you make on average per email campaign sent?
  • How much (on average) does each subscriber bring you in revenue?
  • How many of your email subscribers convert into an actual lead?
  • What is your ROI?

Expert metrics

Expert metrics are also referred to as experience analysis.

Experience analysis explains why your subscribers do what they do. Expert metrics are important because they show you what drives your subscriber’s decisions and the motivations behind the choices they make when they choose to engage or ignore your email.

Instead of just knowing how many of your emails within a specific campaign were opened, you’ll understand why they have a higher rate.

You’ll have a greater understanding why revenue is higher or lower at certain parts of the year, for example.

Now the issue is, for this area of analysis, you probably won’t be able to gather this data from your email provider. You’ll have to look further afield to get into your audience’s mind and understand exactly what makes them tick.

It’s no lie that understanding the behavior analysis is important, but it only goes so far. If you want real insight you need to know whether the people who are engaging with your emails are doing so because they’re bored on the train to work, or whether it’s because you framed your message right and they’re interested in doing business with you.

Using Your Data

Now that you’ve gathered the right data, it’s time to start listening and drawing the right conclusions.

When you have collated the right data from your email campaigns, you’ll be able to send better campaigns by first creating data-driven customer personas.

You’ll now identify who to target, when and why you should target this person and send them content you know will be useful to them.

For a second, let’s think about our own email inbox. How many times per week do you receive irrelevant emails that seem as though they have nothing to do with you? How many times a week do you consider, or actually unsubscribe from email newsletters?

If everyone used their data to fuel their marketing campaigns, they’d have less people unsubscribing.

Using a tool like Kissmetrics Campaigns will enable you to send automated, triggered emails based on user’s previous behavior. The beauty of these emails is that they’re not cold and they’re not unwanted because they’re based on previous behavior. These emails are in place to nudge the user towards something, whether that be purchasing, logging in, etc.

 

When you start to use the right tools to get the right data you’ll be able to:

Define and segment your audience

Who is your audience, and what sort of emails do they want to receive? When you’re defining your audience, let’s not forget about your original goals from the beginning.

In the example below, Pets At Home, a pet retailer, use the name of the pet within their email copy.

They also ascertain exactly what type of pet you have whether that be cat, dog, rabbit etc. to ensure they only send you relevant targeted emails that you’re likely to open.

personalized email example

If you don’t segment your emails, you will end up sending general emails that attempt to appeal to everyone but end up appealing to no one.

It’s shocking to think there aren’t more marketers segmenting their audience based on data because segmented emails generate 58% of all email revenue.

When you choose to segment your audience you improve the personalization of the emails you send.

You can segment your audience by demographic data such as:

  • Age
  • Income level
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Marital status

But most importantly, if you want real success, look at how your audience is behaving and segment based on that in relation to your overall goals we spoke about before. You might consider things like customer type, spending history, adoption status etc.

Targeted, personalized content

Once you’ve segmented your audience, you’ll be able to send specific relevant content to different cohorts of people.

74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.

Target messaging involves having an understanding of your audience and tailoring content and offers that speaks to them at the different stages of their journey with your brand.

In simple terms it means using the information about the audience within that segment to guide your message. If you’re a SaaS company and you have a segment of subscribers who have yet to try your software, sending them an email letting them know there’s another chance to get a free trial will obviously be more relevant than sending that email to someone who is already making great use of your software.

Email Marketing Shouldn’t Happen in Silos

As we’ve said, email marketing shouldn’t happen in isolation to your other marketing efforts, they should all be connected. It should be there to support your overarching, larger goals.

Often, your email audience will be prompted to visit your website after reading an email. It’s important to continue looking at the data once they land on your website to see if the whole cycle from email, to lead to conversion could be improved.

Use a heatmap tool like CrazyEgg to see where your visitors are clicking on and interacting.

Doing so means the hard work isn’t lost by a poor landing page that doesn’t perform.

What’s more, if you’re already using Kissmetrics campaigns, you can use the platform to track website behavior too.

Having a tool that tracks both the way your audience are interacting with their emails and your website will give you a much clearer idea of what is and isn’t working. You’ll not only get to understand the behavior, but you’ll be able to see what they actually did on your site and see exactly who they are.

Testing and Analyzing

Even after you’ve defined your overarching goal and the metrics you need to follow to achieve that, you should always be testing.

Because your email-marketing campaigns are now data-driven you will have a clearer idea of what elements you should test.

Focusing on the data will give you a clearer idea of what elements you should be testing.

If your goal is to increase landing page sign-ups, you might decide to track your open and click-through rates.

If you notice you have low open rates, but high click through rates, that should tell you that the content of your email is good, but you need to improve your subject like to encourage more of your subscribers to open your email.

Analyzing your results in this way will improve your campaigns.

It will give you a clearer idea whether or not you’re focusing on the right metrics and also whether the things you’re doing to improve your campaigns are actually working.

In short, look at the metrics you’ve chosen, compare those to the desired goal and devise a list of ways to improve next time.

Takeaways

How do you measure your success? Do you look at your open and click rates? Do you look at the number of people who unsubscribe and hope it’s lower than your last campaign?

If you do any of these things, you’re utilizing the basic core metrics most email marketer’s use.

But you’re ignoring the most important and critical metrics that will actually enable you to improve your email marketing.

Finding data isn’t hard and most email providers will offer some sort of analytics data in order to understand how your current and past campaigns are performing.

And for some marketers just looking at your open rate or click through rate is perfectly ok.

But what challenges most email marketers is finding advanced data and finding specific data to make the right changes to campaigns.

This post outlined how to define email marketing goals and use those goals to define which metrics you should be concerned about.

I’ve also explained why you need to look beyond the basic metrics to gain helpful insights into your subscriber list and how they behave.

So, now you should be able to leverage your own email data to improve how your email-marketing campaigns perform.

What ways have you utilized email marketing analytics to your advantage? Leave a comment below.

About the Author: Jordie Black is a content marketer and strategist helping startups and SaaS companies in the B2B space improve the way they connect with their audience through content. Learn more about her at www.jordieblack.com or follow her on Twitter @jordieiam to keep up with her updates.


Source: Kiss Metrics

Low Sales? Here’s How to Read Minds to Close More Deals

People either do what you want. Or they don’t.

And there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

Except react. Except follow-up based on a new set of rules.

That doesn’t mean you can’t predict it, though. That doesn’t mean you can’t manipulate it. It doesn’t mean you can’t choreograph it ahead of time.

Almost every single customer interaction presents an IF/THEN scenario. They either choose to do one thing, do the opposite, or do nothing at all. And each option means you should react in a slightly different way.

The good news is that you can do it in advance. You can determine what happens, before it happens, so the message they receive next is always the right one.

Here’s how to get this insight and react in real-time to give people exactly what they want, when they want it.

1. Start by setting objectives

Personalization isn’t “Hey $FNAME.”

It’s deeper than that. It’s about collecting various data points so you understand context. So you ‘get’ what someone wants before they want it.

In a Spy’s Guide to Strategy, ex-CIA case officer, John Braddock, says that creating a strategy comes starts with two moves:

  1. Identifying someone’s potential end game, and then
  2. Reasoning backwards to figure out how they get there.

That way, you can see what’s coming. Only when you know where someone is trying to go can you create scenarios for how they might get there.

Content mapping is a perfect real-world example.

Image Source

Some people come to your site to buy. But not most. Only a tiny slice ready to hit the Product Tour and Opt-in page before reading “Thank You.”

Others want pricing. Some want insights. And still more want information.

Which is why content mapping says you gotta give all those things to all those people. Make them stick around. Get them to click. Get them to come back.

The trick is to start here. Without determining who wants what, you can’t figure out how to get them there the fastest and easiest.

Marketing isn’t a singular campaign today. It’s not a banner ad or a drip email sequence.

Instead, it’s a series of IF, THEN statements. Conditional statements that show how people get form A->B, and then somehow to Z.

Z is what you want. Z is where you purchase. But people don’t start with Z.

That’s why you break the process down. A->B becomes a micro-conversion. It’s the step between the step. The guy behind the guy. That eventually makes stuff happen.

You start by hypothesizing. You try to infer what someone wants. Then comes the “then.”

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“Then” is when stuff happens. It’s your response.

Product companies are relatively simply. People check out a product but don’t buy. So you follow-up with retargeting efforts.

Easy, right?

Not so much for services. The sales process takes months instead of weeks. It takes nurturing instead of discounts.

Let’s say someone checks out your services. They check out some key pages. But they don’t opt-in.

“Free consultation” time? Not necessarily. That’s also not very inspiring.

So you switch it up. You could try an offer to get them to realize how much they need you. You need to make the pain real. You need them to place a dollar value on it. Otherwise, no sale.

That starts with a 1-1 conversation. It’s a spin on the “Free Consultation.” Except it doesn’t suck. It’s focused on their issues, not your own.

The goal: Get people who checked out our Services into this new 1-1 offer.

Next, you work backwards. You set-up the sequence to determine how someone is going to get from A->B.

Automation workflows can help you map this out. For example, if someone looks at the services page but doesn’t convert, do this next.

“This” could be “send new email.” Perfect.

Now do it again. This email goes out. Do they click on the CTA link?

Yes or no.

If yes, but they don’t sign up for your offer, it’s a no. Or it might as well be. So respond accordingly.

These sequences repeat ad nauseam.

There are no limits. That’s the beauty. And with some iteration, you can automate most of the entire process.

Setting a clear objective like that leads you seamlessly into the next step. Select your segment.

Except, you don’t create these segments out of thin air. Or you shouldn’t.

You should let people tell you where they belong.

2. Segment new leads

How do people get to your site?

They could punch in the URL directly. They could serendipitously run across your blog post on Twitter. Or they could find your aforementioned Services page by clicking on your Google ad.

Each of these are different channels, sure. But they’re more than that. They’re giving you more information than that.

✅ The direct website visit? Brand-aware. Been to your website multiple times before. Probably transitioning from stranger to lead.

✅ Twitter? New visit. Stranger. Needs more info to develop brand recognition.

✅ Google search ad? Also not brand-aware. But problem-aware. Probably solution-aware. Show them why you’re better.

Now, keep them separate. Don’t treat them the same.

Their under-the-radar behavior is already telling you something important. So keep it going by segmenting their journey.

Create different flows. Create different segments for each.

Image Source

Sometimes you have control over this. And sometimes you don’t.

For example, if you’re creating an ad, you control the landing page destination.

When you’re writing a blog post, you can control the internal links or other navigation elements they see.

But when someone finds something from organic search? You can’t always control everything.

Once again, marketing automation platforms can tell you the trigger. They can tell you the exact page someone visited. First. So you roughly know who they are or what they’re looking for.

They could leave your site right now and it would be OK. They could get distracted. Bounce. And you’d be fine.

‘Cause you’ve got the same ability to retarget in other places based on individual page views.

create audience custom combination FacebookImage Source

You can see which of the three products they clicked on. You can see which of the five services they expressed the most interest.

That tiny clue adds context. You should know what to follow-up with.

Similarly, someone views your opt-in form but doesn’t convert.

No prob. You can still follow up. You can still tailor the message based on their non-action. You can cycle through common objections until you land on what that sticks.

This is where personas often fail. This is where ‘segments’ often don’t work.

Your decision-making data should come from people’s actions. Not just your own hunches.

3. Nurturing & re-engagement

Eventually, someone opts-in.

Someone finds something like they like and gives you something in return.

On the one hand, it’s great. You’re one step closer.

Except on the other, it changes everything. You need to update things. You need to evolve the conversation.

For example, let’s say someone downloads an eBook. Then your free trial or 1-1 offer. Both good things.

Except, it creates a rippling effect.

For example, you need to work backwards before you work forwards. You need to remove people from previous sequences because their status has changed.

Those top of the funnel eBook nurturing emails worked. Wonderfully! But now that they’ve moved deeper, they need a new sequence. Only after removing them from the previous one.

Bad news, though.

One person moved forward. They went from TOFU to MOFU or BOFU.

But most don’t. Or won’t.

So let’s plan for that, too. Someone downloads the eBook. Maybe they even enjoy it. But after the first few weeks, nothing else happens.

They received the same nurturing emails. But decided against taking you up on the next offer. For whatever reason.

Same objective as the first, but a new segment this time.

What’s happening here:

  1. It’s been at least 35 days since someone downloaded the eBook. The reason? It gives your other campaigns at least four weeks to try and move them down the funnel.
  2. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The individual didn’t opt into any other offer you threw at them, either. No other forms were filled out.

Cool. No worries. Water off a duck’s back.

IF, you saw this coming. IF, you have a scenario planned out for them.

Typically, you want to get them to ‘reengage’ here. So new emails go out. Each, with different links like this next one.

Those are all unique links. They’re split up by topic. You’re setting a trap. You’re baiting a hook.

For someone’s action to once again tell you how to better segment them.

Let’s say someone clicks on the fifth option down: “Optimizing Your Website.” That indicates they’re interested in, well, updating their website.

Cool. You saw this coming. Savvy marketer, you.

That pulls them into a brand new segment. Seamlessly and automatically.

Now, you can tailor the next few messages better. You can send them website-related tips, instead of SEO ones. You can send them more relevant offers that they’re more likely to take you up on.

Which puts you one step closer.

4. Sales qualification

Ecommerce is easy. Someone buy’s or they don’t. Most customers are ‘good,’ as long as they’re paying.

Services ain’t easy. Most leads and prospects won’t become customers.

In fact, you can take this a step further. A small segment of people will want to work with you. But for a few different reasons, you won’t want to work with most of them.

You want the best customers. You want those that will be the best fit. The ones that ideally also have the longest lifetime value.

Which means you need to qualify. Which means you need to plan for this in advance.

You know many people who fill out your form won’t be a good fit. So you add a couple qualifying questions to the bottom of your form.

“Annual Revenue Range” can tell you a few things. It can tell you, right off the bat, if they can even afford you. Not worth jumping on the phone if they can’t.

But it can also tell you what product or service they might be best suited for.

As does “Biggest Marketing Challenge.” It helps you figure out what solution to line up with their problem.

It also helps you logistically. The person or division doing $100,000 websites will be different than the one doing $1,000,000 ad campaigns. So they need to be routed appropriately, too.

Now, think of your process and workflow. Each little decision or potential answer has another trickle down effect. It influences everything that happens afterward.

You need filters and branches and IF/THEN statements along the way. That way, you can take all of the various possibilities into account.

Before they happen. So you know exactly how to respond. When it eventually does.

Different sequences need to kick off when someone selects “Yes” vs. “No.”

Different people need to be notified. Different tasks and steps needs to come next.

Conclusion

Congratulations. You’ve made it this far.

You’ve sold a new deal. Closed a new account. Brought in a few bucks.

But a new customer isn’t the end of the process, so much as it’s the beginning of a new one.

“Marketing” doesn’t just mean advertising, after all. Onboarding is crucial. Customer service is key.

Keeping that account longer means more money in your pocket. Easier money than bringing in a new deal.

Retention is your job, too.

Which means you’re not done. Which means there are more scenarios to account for. More sequences to create.

Marketing isn’t isolated. It’s not one-and-done. It’s systematic. It’s a process. It’s a series of IF/THEN sequences.

People do what they want. They decide or click or opt-in or don’t. You can’t control that.

You can only control how you react and respond. Or how you lead them to do what you want.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


Source: Kiss Metrics

What Makes B2B Content Remarkable for Buyers?

It’s no secret. Everyone knows the biggest problem B2B content marketing faces today. Well, actually several give B2B marketers fits.

Which one am I talking about?

Making B2B content engage and actually drive more leads. How bleak does the situation look?

Not good. Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report surveyed 3,714 B2B marketers from around the globe. The report defines “effective” as “accomplishing your overall objectives.” CMI asked B2B marketers to rate themselves. Shockingly, just 30% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “effective”. And that was down 21.05% from 38% in 2014.

And Heinz Marketing quotes IDG Connect as saying “86% of buyers say content is neither useful, relevant, nor aligned with needs of people in the buying decision.” That makes B2B buyers information-rich and knowledge-poor.

The natural question to ask then becomes, “If marketers’ typical approach to B2B content doesn’t work, what does?”

I’ve been on a personal quest to find out over the past several months. Let me explain some of the top elements of lead-generating B2B content.

Show Your Buyer Why They Need to Change Their Behavior

CEB Group research published at Harvard Business Review shows exactly what buyers want. They feel they must learn something new about their business and have a compelling reason to change their present behavior.

This explains why you can craft useful, interesting, and in-depth information, yet still not generate the leads you want. You have to make more of the right content based on your knowledge of your buyer and their industry and problems.

SaleCycle actually had the stomach to admit on Econsultancy that 80% of its B2B content failed.

They were creating lots of content, but most of it wasn’t about topics that interested their prospects. Content that taught prospects facts, stats, and best practices about sales worked. Client stories worked too. However, their content about careers and company culture, though useful, absolutely bombed by comparison.

So, SaleCycle learned that lots of in-depth content doesn’t necessarily work. But they found what did through their analytics.

Include Emotion in Your B2B Content

You hear it all the time: B2B buyers are intelligent, sophisticated people. They only need the facts. True with some aspects of marketing (especially white papers).

But remember, they’re human beings and have emotions too.

What does research say about emotions in the B2B buying process? They play a far larger role than you think. Check it out:

B2B buyers make highly emotional decisions. (Image Source)

In fact, Kapost goes so far as to claim emotions matter more to buyers than logic and reason.

Are they completely outlandish in their claim?

Joint research among CEB Marketing Leadership Council, Motista, and Google also found:

“Not only did the B2B brands drive more emotional connections than B2C brands, but they weren’t even close. Of the hundreds of B2C brands that Motista has studied, most have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. Meanwhile, of the nine B2B brands we studied, seven surpassed the 50% mark. On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”

Why would this be?

Think about it, well, logically. With many purchases, B2B buyers find themselves in an intensely emotional situation.

They spend a lot of money on their purchases. At least several other people get in on the decision, so they want to look good. Make a bad decision, and they’ll lose an abundance of credibility and respect, and possibly their job. They want to go with the safe option, the one practically guaranteed to give them good results.

Consumers, on the other hand, generally make small purchases that don’t put a big dent in their budget. If the purchase doesn’t work out, they get angry, and often can get their money back. A few family members might be upset too.

But, it’s just a little money. And they have plenty of competing choices to choose from. So for many consumer purchases, it’s not a big deal to make a bad decision.

Possibly the greatest example of emotional marketing in B2B is IBM’s famous slogan from the 1980s:

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

Why did it work so well? With so much at stake for B2B buyers when buying computer hardware back then, they wanted to make a safe decision. No one wanted to lose their job, or a lot of respect, for going with an unknown competitor.

So, the slogan appealed powerfully to buyers’ desire for safety, security, and predictability. Like Apple today, IBM was the dominant tech company of the 1980s.

And of Course…B2B Buyers Use Logic Too

While buyers use more emotion in their decision than consumers, they also have to line up all the facts. But most B2B content doesn’t give them what they want in this respect either:

“66% of technology buyers feel that digital content needs to be more aligned with organizational objectives and relevant to the decision making process.” – IDG Connect survey

How do you do this? It’s a simple process, but it isn’t easy. Skilled marketers learn the questions B2B buyers ask throughout the sales cycle. They answer those questions with content.

Does that sound anything like what your sales team does? If they’re good at what they do, your sales team should already know these questions and answers. So, it’s just a matter of having a productive conversation with sales.

But, not all marketing and sales teams have positive relationships. If you don’t have access to this data, you have a number of tactics you can use to get it:

  • Ask sales if you can silently observe a few of their phone calls
  • Talk with customers you recently acquired because you know they love you now (you could offer a reward to the customer that’s chosen)
  • Check out B2B software review websites like G2 Crowd
  • Watch your competitors’ content, and especially the pieces that get the most social shares
  • Review your own analytics as you gather data, focusing in particular on how many buyers took your desired next step, which could be done easily with the Kissmetrics funnel report
  • Find and follow industry websites and thought leaders and watch the hot topics
  • Follow your buyers on Twitter and LinkedIn to see what they talk about
  • Do a Twitter advanced search using some of the keywords your buyer might use, and see what questions come up
  • Search and follow the most relevant topics to your buyer on Quora

In my opinion, talking to sales, listening to their conversations, or talking directly with customers gives you the fastest and most useful results. When that’s not possible, you’ll have to research multiple sources online and construct the sales cycle from scratch.

The Amount of Trust Buyers Give Your Content Depends on Its Source

How your buyer comes into contact with your content directly affects the amount of trust they give it. If they stumble across a blog post or get the exact same content from your sales team, they place a far different level of trust in it.

Look at how much buyers trust content, depending on the source it comes from:

trusted-information-sourcesB2B buyers still trust recommendations from their peers more than anything else. (Image Source)

So if you pay any attention, you probably hear non-stop about “influencer marketing.” According to these stats, since buyers trust peer, colleagues, and independent content most, influencer marketing is a worthwhile approach.

It’s not just another fad destined to go away. For what it’s worth, B2B buyers’ minds have worked this way for decades. Count on getting your content into their peers’ hands as a valuable marketing tactic for many years to come.

Buyers, Including Millennials, Want Their Content in a Certain Format

You may have heard about 2016 being “the year of video marketing.” Snapchat, Instagram, and even Pinterest also get touted as the next biggest channels for B2B marketers. Periscope even gets some attention.

The real question: should you even spend any of your time working on channel strategies?

According to research from The Economist, no. Both veteran and young professionals still prefer plain ol’ text:

professionals-prefer-text-articlesMost business professionals still prefer text content over any other format. (Image Source)

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any video in your B2B marketing strategy. I’m not saying that.

But, if you drive yourself mad because you don’t have a podcast, webinar, video, infographic or whatever, relax. B2B buyers don’t need anything fancy schmancy.

Just give them new and compelling information that gives them the business case for change.

Each Content Type Has an Ideal Place in Your Sales Cycle

You have such a massive mix of content to choose from. Blog posts, white papers, case studies, newsletters, videos, infographics…

What should you create, and where should you target it in the buy cycle? Eccolo Media surveyed B2B buyers firsthand to find out. And here’s what they found:

content-types-in-sales-cycleWhere the most common types of content work best in the sales cycle. (Image Source)

Basically, content works well before the sales cycle even begins, and best during the early and middle sales cycle.

To gather the data, Eccolo Media surveyed more than 100 B2B marketers. 33% were influencers while 67% were decision makers ranging in age from 20 to over 60, and holding positions from manager to vice president at all sizes of companies.

And they also give some interesting data you don’t see on the above chart: 80% of survey respondents thought it was “important” or “very important” to get content on an ongoing basis after their purchase.

Eccolo Media found B2B buyers want these types of content post-purchase:

  • 36% want “thought leadership” content
  • 30% would like technical support and updates
  • 25% love new product info
  • 9% find customer stories useful

Define What Content Marketing Success Looks Like

To find out what buyers want, you have to define what success means to you. Once you know that, then you can determine whether you’ve given buyers what they want (or not).

Now, all kinds of debate exists as to how you know you’ve succeeded. Some say MQLs. Others SQLs. Others look at follower counts, likes, and shares.

And then you even hear about brand new metrics like “return visitor rate (RVR).” Which should you trust?

I personally like two indicators:

  1. The number of buyers who take the next step (whatever that is) you ask for in your content gives you a good indicator of what you will see in your final conversion goal (MQLs, SQLs, sales, revenue)
  2. Looking at the correlation between increases in your key metrics and changes in your revenue or profit. For example, when you see an increase in prospects who try a demo following a white paper, you notice a jump in revenue too.

And I like these because it’s so difficult to get B2B buyers to take the “next step,” regardless of what that is. B2B marketing expert Ardath Albee looks at that action as a sign of commitment, which is hard to get from B2B buyers.

Address the Fear of Loss

Should you focus on benefits or fear?

Many B2B marketers today would say you should sell benefits. And it’s not wrong to sprinkle benefits throughout your content marketing.

However, if you want action, you should focus on avoiding pain. Legendary marketer Dan Kennedy says:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how incredibly powerful this first formula is.”

With this quote, he speaks in relation to his PAS (problem-agitate-solve) marketing formula. If you click the link above, you can learn about the formula in great detail.

The gist is:

  1. Start your copy with the prospect’s problem
  2. Agitate the problem by describing all the emotions they feel
  3. Talk about the solution you have for them

You’ll see more action when you focus on fear of loss instead of only highlighting benefits in your copy and content.

Sales Should Actively Reach Out to Prospects with Case Studies

You’ve heard the stat: 60% – 70% of B2B content just sits around, collecting digital dust. How do you make a cohesive, usable system that produces qualified leads with that?

Well, you can start with case studies. Because out of all content types, 84% of 319 execs surveyed at companies with $1 billion or more in revenues say they would respond positively when vendors initially reach out with sales emails that include case studies (more than any other content type).

You can see the full data below:

exec-response-sales-outreach-content-typeWhat execs trust most when your sales team reaches out to them with content. (Image Source)

With case studies, the closer the focus customer’s success story matches your prospect’s situation, the higher the response rate.

Don’t have case studies matching the prospects you want to attract? Time to write some. Your sales team knows many customers that succeeded. Offer your sales team $1,000 for the customer that you end up profiling. You’ll get more suggestions than you need.

Now You Can Stop Wasting Your Time and Do More of What Works

Over the next few years, I think we’ll see more B2B content marketers finding success. Everyone rushed to join the craze so fast, thinking content would be a quick fix to all their marketing ailments.

But now, with reality becoming clear, many will have to evaluate what works, and what doesn’t. And with this research in hand, you can stop wasting time and money and beat your competitors to high-ROI prospects.

About the Author: Dan Stelter, “The B2B Lead Gen Guy,” crafts persuasive content that makes attracting qualified leads effortless for B2B service, software, and tech companies. Learn how you can avoid 7 humiliating B2B content mistakes that frustrate buyers when you download your free special report.


Source: Kiss Metrics

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