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14 Jul 15:56

10 Ways to Drive E-Commerce Sales During Slow Online Shopping Months

by Grant Thomas

Summer has arrived which means consumers are more prone to be travelling, spending time outdoors, and taking part in activities that divert their attention from all of the online shopping they should be doing! It’s no surprise that the summer months are the slowest when it comes to e-commerce sales, dipping by as much as 30% from top sales months like December.

So what does this mean for you? It’s time to get a bit creative and find different ways to drive sales during these slow months. Below, I’ve outlined 10 different ways that you can drive more engagement and sales revenue despite the lower level of demand during slow periods.

1. Get Seasonal!

Website design and seasonality matter when it comes to consumer behavior. Shoppers are much more inclined to engage with brands and retailers who consistently update their site to match seasons and holidays. This can be with design elements, imagery, promotions, and also with what products you showcase.

93% of consumers consider visual appearance to be the key deciding factor in a purchasing decision. Like it or not, shoppers are making purchasing decisions, at least partially, based on design so you have no excuses to keep up with the seasonal trends.

Don’t want to do a complete overhaul of your website for every holiday or season? You don’t need to! It’s super simple to implement seasonal pop ups to your site in just a few minutes. This will help you match the holiday or season, drive shopper engagement, and convert more sales without the dreaded development time you’d normally have to go through.

seasonal_pop_up_promotion.png

Summer themed promotion from Polar Pro Filters

2. Update Product Images and Descriptions

Want something that is going to help you in the short run and the long run? Use this down time to update product images and descriptions. Freshening up your product pages with optimized product images and new product descriptions will better provide shoppers with the information they need to make a purchasing decision. The clearer your products are described and represented, the better they are going to sell.

Also, updating content will help you on the SEO front. Perform some e-commerce keyword research to identify what your ideal customers are searching for. Then get to writing! Take advantage of the downtime and take this project seriously. You’ll see a significant impact. Here are some helpful tips on upgrading e-commerce product pages.

product_page_examples.png

Great product imagery and description from Tenkara Rod Co.

3. Run a Contest Giveaway

There is no better way to increase traffic engagement and conversion than a contest! This is your opportunity to create excitement and use something enticing to drive traffic to your site. Offer visitors a chance to win a big ticket item or bundle by simply entering their email address. This item could be one of your products or something that your ideal customer would be interested in.

evo_contest_giveaway.png

Attractive contest giveaway from Evo!

Shoppers are very likely to enter for a chance to win something of high value which means that you can better convert that traffic and rapidly build your email list! A simple contest can increase email capture by as much as 660%! In addition to generating traffic, a contest will provide you with plenty of new leads to market to during busy sales months where shoppers are more likely to buy.

4. Create Product Collections

To make is easier for shoppers to find what they are looking for, or even just give certain shoppers a place to start, create specific product collections. You’re essentially telling shoppers where to go on your site and making decisions on what to shop for easier. Some potential product collections are seasonal collections, a collection of similar items, buying guides, or a clearance section.

Draw attention to your product collections with emails and CTA pop ups in order to drive traffic directly to these specific pages. The entire purpose of this strategy is to provide an easier pathway for shoppers to make decisions and ultimately make a purchase.

5. Have a Sale

When sales are slow, have a sale! While many retailers are consistently running some sort of promotion on their site, this is more of a year round conversion rate optimization strategy. Running a sale requires lead time, promotion through various sales channels, and a discounting strategy.

Set some parameters for your sale. Length, discount amount, what items are sale eligible, and the goal at hand are a few things to consider. Here are a few key dates to focus your promotional sales strategy around. Other ideas are flash sales, back to school sales, and clearance sales.

6. Implement a Loyalty Program

I’m no loyalty program expert but I do know that they can be incredibly powerful in driving sales from current customers. This puts less stress on obtaining new customers during slow months and still allows you to drive sales. Our knowledgeable friends over at Sweet Tooth Rewards help retailers set up simple and effective loyalty programs so pay them a visit if you’d like to implement this sales tactic.

7. Clear out Excess Inventory

I’ve mentioned is a couple of times already but this can be a serious sales driver for your business. Consumers are always looking for a deal and clearance sections are a hot spot. It’s also a great thing for your business. You need to move inventory. If you don’t, it takes up valuable inventory space that could be better utilized for popular and fast moving products. Here are some ideas on how to clear excess inventory.

8. Create New Content

As an online retailer, content marketing can help you separate yourself from the competition by adding value to the shopping experience. Content provides more information to shoppers which can help them make a purchasing decision. Here are a few forms of content that will help you sell more:

  • Newsletters
  • How it works videos
  • Design and style guides
  • Beginner’s guides
  • Recipe books
  • Buying guides

e-commerce_content_marketing.png

Joybird’s Life and Design blog provides helpful guides on designing and decorating the perfect modern living space.

Focus on providing value that a big box store or competitor isn’t currently offering. Shoppers are much more likely to identify with your brand and purchase from you when you go the extra mile to provide a better shopping experience. You can also gate content to drive email sign ups on your site!

9. Focus on Email Capture

I’ve already mentioned a couple of tactics that can help you build your email list but I can’t stress the importance of email capture enough. Email is the lifeblood of your business and here are several reasons why.

Of all the new traffic that comes to your site, 98% of that traffic will leave without converting. Aside from getting a sale, capturing a visitor’s email is the most important goal in traffic conversion. Email is far more effective in converting sales than any other traffic source and is the most direct form of communicating to leads and customers.

Your email list can also be used to create custom audience facebook ad campaigns which allows you to target current leads with your Facebook ads. By focusing on email capture, you can better convert traffic, drive more sales, and increase ROI from your paid traffic campaigns. Here are several conversion tools to help build your email list.

email_capture_tools.png

10. Combat Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is the giant, 800 pound gorilla that stands in the your way of converting more sales. On average, 68% of shopping carts are abandoned which means there’s a lot of money left on the table. If you can slightly reduce cart abandonment, you can drastically increase monthly revenue. In order to take on the beast of a problem, we need to look at the causes.

Looking at the numbers, the main causes are unexpected costs (shipping, service fees, etc.), window shopping, and price shopping. Today’s shoppers are savvy and looking for the best deal possible. It’s this reason that you need to meet their needs and give them a reason to purchase. Discounts, free shipping, and other promotions keep shoppers on site and drive purchases.

To actively combat shopping cart abandonment, go directly to the source: cart and checkout pages. Engage shoppers who are about to abandon their cart with an exit pop up containing an enticing offer like the one shown below. Since these shoppers are so close to purchasing, don’t ask for anything in return, just give them the discount or free shipping. Your goal here is a sale! This simple tactic has helped brands reduce cart abandonment by as much as 30%!

exit_intent_ecommerce_promotion.jpg

There you have it! Ten actionable tactics to help you drive more sales, even when it’s slow. It’s important to look at both the short and long term benefits of each of these tactics. By incorporating some or all items on this list, you’ll begin to create consistent demand for your products and a more stable revenue stream.

Need some help implementing some of these tactics? We can help! Justuno provides conversion tools for email capture, sales promotions, and cart abandonment. Join us for our weekly conversion training session to see how to implement these tactics in just a few simple steps!

GET CONVERSION TRAINING

12 Jul 16:57

Why You Can’t Succeed at Social Without Fun

by Jay Baer

Jarrod Lyman - InstagramPassion, Authenticity, and Fun

It seems like a given that social marketing, a vehicle for engagement with an audience, should be fun. However that seemingly obvious fact can easily get lost in the shuffle of metrics, click rates, marketing plans, and C-suite approval.

But when the fun is lost, so goes the incentive for your audience to engage. If YOU are not having fun, then they will definitely not have fun either.

Jarrod Lyman brings a refreshing perspective to social that keeps enjoyment of life and his product at the forefront of his mind. It doesn’t hurt that his product is a beautiful swath of land in Oregon that provides endless outdoor entertainment and is capped off with the breathtaking peak of Mt. Hood. But beyond that, at the heart of his approach to social, is an understanding that if you don’t want to do it—whatever “it” is—neither will your audience.

Through his social-focused lens, Jarrod has transformed tourist marketing into a career that positively impacts his life, his community, and his brand.

In This Episode

  • How effective content and engagement leads to passionate brand ambassadors
  • Why picking the right channel means following the content’s lead
  • How enjoying what you do leads to winning social marketing
  • Why being successful means pushing business to your partners
  • How evolving channels and smartphones have led to an explosion of tourism content
  • The importance and growth of tourism marketing

 

Quotes From This Episode

“Social engages with people who are just discovering this destination and the people who already love it. It turns them both into ambassadors who will go and sing the praises of my destination for me.” —@jarrodlyman

“I let the story determine the length and the channel that it’s pushed through.” —@jarrodlyman (highlight to tweet)

“Guest bloggers really enrich the content on our site. They have that connection to the subject and that love. I can talk about it, but I may miss that inner story.” —@jarrodlyman

“If I’m not having fun writing it, they’re not going to have fun reading it.” —@jarrodlyman (highlight to tweet)

“We want people to absorb our content but we also want people to move on to our partners to see what else there is to offer.” —@jarrodlyman

“Tourism is one of the truest forms of economic development for a community.” —@jarrodlyman (highlight to tweet)

“It’s imperative that we forge partnerships and keep them strong so that we can leverage their efforts to help bolster what we do as well.” —@jarrodlyman

Resources

 

The Big Two:

Jarrod Lyman

What’s your one tip for becoming a social pro?

In social, it’s important to be real and love what you do. Passion comes through in anything and that is especially true with social. People can sense BS a mile away so be real, be authentic, and care about what you’re saying.

If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?

Unfortunately Jarrod doesn’t speak the same language as Bigfoot. So in absence of that choice, he’d go with Kevin Smith. Having just seen him perform live and experienced his passion for what he does in real life, Jarrod would jump at the chance to speak with him one-on-one to learn more about his approach to what he does, absorb some of that passion, and find ways to apply it to his own life.

See you next week!

12 Jul 16:56

How to Write with Power and Authority, Even if You Feel Like a Nobody

by Henneke

use it! you've got the power

In this overcrowded online world, do you ever wonder why people would listen to your advice?

I used to feel the same way.

I didn’t understand why people would read my writing tips when the web is awash with writing advice from people more experienced, more knowledgeable, and more authoritative than me.

Why would anyone listen to me?

I’ve learned that mindset was flawed.

When I learned how to write well, a new world opened up. I connected with people across the world. I built a thriving blog. People started listening to my advice — and more importantly, they acted on it.

Can you make an impact with your words?

As writers, our toolbox may seem limited. We can’t shout. We can’t use body language. We can’t even bang on a table to add weight to a message.

We only have our words to communicate with passion and power.

But written words are enormously powerful. You know that. When was the last time words made you smile? Or cry? Or inspire you to take action?

Once you learn how to write with power, readers start listening to your ideas, acting on your advice, and buying your products and services. You can inspire change — even if you feel you don’t have the required clout or authority right now.

Want to learn how?

Step #1: Write with clarity and substance

Weak writing rambles, rattles, and prattles.

Powerful writing, in contrast, is simple and to the point.

Many writers misunderstand this …

Writing with substance is not about writing longer articles. It’s not about word count. It’s not sharing as many tips as possible. The opposite is true. Often long articles lack substance; too many superficial ideas that compete for the reader’s attention weaken the content.

Substance is not about the breadth of your ideas; it’s about the depth of your arguments. Even an email of 100 words can have substance. A nugget of wisdom. A super-practical tip. A spark of inspiration.

Substance is about adding value, exceeding your readers’ expectations, and moving beyond the echo chamber.

“If you’re not adding value, you’re taking up space. The more space you take up, the more difficult it becomes to continuously earn your spot, and the more likely you are to become ignored and irrelevant.” – Sally Hogshead

So, how do you write with substance?

  • Have a clear purpose for each piece of content — how will you help your readers?
  • Create a list or mind map of what you want to include in your article.
  • Review your ideas and narrow down your topic — an initial mind map is often too unwieldy, so cull irrelevant ideas that lead readers astray.
  • Revisit your content’s purpose — will your content deliver on your promise? Will you solve a problem?

Becoming an authority is not about you. It’s about your readers. About their lives, their worries, their challenges, and their dreams.

Powerful writing starts with empathy, generosity, and a passionate drive to help your readers.

Step #2: Boost your authority with these content tricks

Focusing on a narrow topic may feel scary. Can you write enough? Will your article seem flimsy?

Don’t panic.

And don’t start adding irrelevant ideas and semi-related trains of thought.

Instead, use the three content tricks below to turn flimsy writing into persuasive and authoritative content.

Authority content trick #1: use specific examples

My favorite way to boost authority is using examples. They are an undervalued tool in your authority tool box.

Examples demonstrate how you translate theory into practice. Examples breathe life into your content by making abstract concepts concrete. Readers can visualize your ideas, and you show you’re not just talking the talk; you know what you’re talking about.

Want examples?

Each post discusses one narrow topic (writing in a conversational tone, writing sales copy, writing with substance) with a series of examples.

Authority content trick #2: add compelling statistics

Statistics are not my favorite type of content. I find numbers boring.

But it’s a mistake to ignore numbers.

Because numbers add substance to an argument. They show you know your field. They instantly make your content more factual.

For instance, for my own Enchanting Marketing blog, I wrote a post about 10 proven headline formulas. First, I present figures to explain how important headlines are:

“The average click through rate on Twitter, for instance, is only 1.64% (source, 2012), so 98 out of 100 people may read only your headline, and fewer than 2 of them click through.”

Then, for each of the headline formulas, I provide examples of popular headlines and support my points with facts:

“The ‘Burning Question’ formula is probably the most underused formula on the list. But its attraction is undeniable: the third most popular post on Moz (8.2k shares) and the fifth most popular post on HubSpot (13k shares) use this formula. We also know from research that questions get more clicks on Twitter than statements, and that subject lines with question marks get 44% more opens than those with exclamation marks (source).”

Statistics boost your credibility and appeal to rationality. But be careful: Don’t let the numbers undermine the clarity of your message. Only add research results and other numbers if they help clarify your ideas.

Authority content trick #3: support with quotes from experts

Can’t find any statistics to back up your argument?

Try using quotes from well-known experts. A quote demonstrates you’re familiar with other work in your field. Notice how I quoted Sally Hogshead earlier?

Strategically selected quotes support your claims. They help you “borrow” other people’s authority to grow your own.

Step #3: Inject power into your words

Does power make you think of dictators, bullies, and other dominant personalities?

As Sally Hogshead explains in her book How the World Sees You, power lives on a spectrum. Power’s gentle side manifests itself in the parental nudge and in the sports coach who motivates you to train harder.

Powerful writing inspires readers to take action. An effective sales page, for instance, encourages readers to click and buy. Strong social media updates make people click to read more. And authoritative blog posts motivate readers to implement your tips.

How?

Embrace your inner bossiness by using the imperative form and shorter sentences.

For instance, read this paragraph aloud:

Your job as a blogger is not simply to write tutorials that share tips, facts, and advice.

A useful tip that’s not implemented is like a riveting book that’s never opened. It’s forgotten and useless.

Instead of acting solely like a blogger dishing out your tips, you should become a mentor for your readers, a chief of your village, a leader of your tribe. You should fire up your tribe and jump-start their actions because your readers are waiting for you.

It feels a little flat, right? That’s because the sentences are long and the final sentences use “you should” instead of the imperative.

The alternative version below (from A Rabble-Rouser’s Rules for Writing Kick-Ass Closing Paragraphs) is more inspirational because it uses shorter sentences and the imperative form (“Fire up your tribe” instead of “You should fire up your tribe”):

Your job as a blogger is not simply to write tutorials.

Your job is not to share tips and facts and advice.

A useful tip that’s not implemented is like a riveting book that’s never opened. It’s forgotten and useless.

You’re not simply a blogger. You’re a mentor for your readers, a chief of your village, a leader of your tribe.

Come on. Fire up your tribe. Jump-start their actions.

Your readers are waiting for you.

Does that inspire you more?

The magic of writing

When I started writing, I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I doubted my skills. I didn’t know whether I had enough ideas.

But every time I had to write an article, I learned more about writing. I followed my curiosity. I discovered what I’m passionate about, and I learned what resonated with my audience.

You might think you don’t have enough to share. Or you might doubt your writing skills.

This is what I’d like to tell you:

You’re unique. You have unique experiences. And you’ll discover your voice and your passions when you write more. Writing brings clarity, deepens your understanding, and strengthens your ideas.

So, commit to writing. To creating valuable content. To being helpful to your readers.

Start making tiny ripples.

That’s how change begins.


Are you a writer who wants to become a Certified Content Marketer?

Inside Copyblogger’s Content Marketer Certification program, there’s a lot more for writers.

The training program helps writers make the most of their careers. Writers learn how to position themselves and their offerings, so that they can build profitable freelance writing businesses.

And the program is opening up soon. Drop your email address below and you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

The post How to Write with Power and Authority, Even if You Feel Like a Nobody appeared first on Copyblogger.

12 Jul 16:56

Scientists discovered an absurdly easy way to seem convincing

by Kevin Loria

Don Draper Mad Men

If you want to convince someone that your explanation for something is the best way to explain it, you might want to tack on some useless (though accurate) information from a tangentially related scientific field.

It turns out that when you tack on additional information from a respected field of study, people think that makes an explanation more credible.

That strategy can be devised from the findings of a recent study conducted by University of Pennsylvania researchers that was published in the journal Cognition.

And while this is a new finding, it's just one of several cognitive biases we have in favor of certain types of explanations. We think longer explanations are better than short ones and we prefer explanations that point to a goal or a reason for things happening, even if these things don't actually help us understand a phenomenon.

As the authors behind this most recent paper note, previous research has also shown that we prefer explanations of psychology when they contain "logically irrelevant neuroscience information," something known as the "seductive lure effect."

As former Tech Insider correspondent Drake Baer put it covering an earlier study on the same topic, "if you're trying to explain why someone did something, you can count on neurobabble to make you sound more convincing." All those references to the brain sound like they can really explain the ways our minds work, even if neuroscience is still a field we know little about.

human brain connectome

But until now, researchers haven't known if this argument-winning strategy was limited to using neuroscience to "explain" psychology or if it could be used to explain other areas of science as well. The UPenn team theorized people might in general prefer arguments that refer to more fundamental science, even if those references don't contribute to the explanation. They call this type of argument a reductive explanation (reducing one science to more fundamental parts).

To test this theory, the researchers created a hierarchy of sciences, going from least to most fundamental: social science, psychology, neuroscience, biology, chemistry, and finally physics. They recruited undergraduate students and people from Amazon's Mechanical Turk work marketplace and presented them with a survey designed to figure out whether useless reductive information made them consider explanations "better."

In each case, the researchers offered four possible explanations for a scientific concept: a good explanation, a good explanation that included the additional reductive information, a bad explanation, and a bad explanation that included reductive information.

marco rubio donald trump debate

As a general rule, their hypothesis panned out — people think explanations that have useless information containing details about a more "fundamental" science are usually better.

But there are some interesting exceptions and additional takeaways here.

  • Good explanations matter, and were rated better than bad explanations (even if the bad explanations had reductive information).
  • Adding useless reductive information made the biggest difference when researchers added neuroscience to an explanation of psychological science.
  • Participants trusted psychology the least and — in the one exception to the general rule — didn't think adding psychological explanations to social science made those explanations more credible (though these particular findings weren't statistically significant).
  • Study participants actually considered neuroscience more rigorous and prestigious than the sciences considered more fundamental by researchers (biology, chemistry, and physics). This could explain the big effect that neuroscience explanation has when added to explanations of psychological science.
  • Mechanical Turk respondents thought the explanations with reductive information were better than undergraduates thought they were. That information made a big significant difference for them, but it was less of a big deal for undergraduates. Different groups of people are going to evaluate information in different ways, and neither of these groups of people can accurately represent the way the entire population evaluates information.
  • People who were better at logical reasoning were better at evaluating explanation accurately (they gave less credence to reductive information). The researchers think this could mean that philosophers who have studied logic are less susceptible to this cognitive bias.
  • People who knew more about science were also better at telling good explanations from bad explanations.

So the next time you read an explanation of something, check to see if the author is adding useless information to support an argument, making you more inclined to believe them for all the wrong reasons.

And if you want to convince someone of something, you can see if adding some background scientific details helps sway the argument your way. Just try to rely on a science other than psychology.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A neurologist reveals the biggest myth about the brain

12 Jul 16:53

How the Principles of Stoicism Can Help Your Personal and Financial Life

by Trent Hamm

Perhaps more than any other topic, I’ve found incredible amounts of personal value from the philosophical school of thought known as stoicism. I find stoicism invaluable for navigating the modern world while maintaining any semblance of self-control. I consider the ideas within stoicism to be an essential part of my own financial life (and personal life, as well).

Read more...

12 Jul 16:48

Some of the deadliest diseases in prominent countries are becoming less common and no one knows why

by Gina Kolata, The New York Times

Something strange is going on in medicine. Major diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, are waning in wealthy countries, and improved diagnosis and treatment cannot fully explain it.

Scientists marvel at this good news, a medical mystery of the best sort and one that is often overlooked as advocacy groups emphasize the toll of diseases and the need for more funds. Still, many are puzzled.

“It is really easy to come up with interesting, compelling explanations,” said Dr. David S. Jones, a Harvard historian of medicine. “The challenge is to figure out which of those interesting and compelling hypotheses might be correct.”

These diseases are far from gone — they still cause enormous suffering and kill millions each year — but the list of killers that seem to be declining without full explanation is varied and striking.

Humans cannot, of course, cheat death. But it looks as if people in the United States and some other wealthy countries are, unexpectedly, starting to beat back the diseases of aging. The leading killers are still the leading killers — cancer, heart disease, stroke — but they are occurring later in life, and people in general are living longer in good health.

Colon cancer is the latest conundrum. While the overall cancer death rate has been declining since the early 1990s, the plunge in colon cancer deaths is especially perplexing. The rate of colon cancer deaths has fallen by nearly 50 per cent since its peak in the 1980s, noted Dr. H. Gilbert Welch and Dr. Douglas J. Robertson of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont, in a recent paper.

Screening, they said, is only part of the story. “The magnitude of the changes alone suggests that other factors must be involved,” they wrote. None of the studies showing the effect of increased screening for colon cancer has indicated a 50 per cent reduction in mortality, they wrote, “nor have trials for screening for any type of cancer.”

Then there are hip fractures, whose rates have been dropping by 15 to 20 percent a decade over the past 30 years. Although the change occurred when there were drugs to slow bone loss in people with osteoporosis, too few patients took them to account for the effect — for instance, fewer than 10 percent of women over 65 take the drugs.

Perhaps it is because people have gotten fatter? Heavier people have stronger bones. Heavier bodies, though, can account for at most half of the effect, said Dr. Steven R. Cummings of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute and the University of California at San Francisco. When asked what else was at play, he laughed and said, “I don’t know.”

Dementia rates, too, have been plunging. It took a few reports and more than a decade before many people believed it, but data from the United States and Europe are becoming hard to wave off. The latest report finds a 20 per cent decline in dementia incidence per decade, starting in 1977. With more older people in the population every year, there may be more cases in total, but an individual’s chance of getting dementia has gotten lower and lower.

There are reasons that make sense. Mini-strokes result from vascular disease and can cause dementia, and cardiovascular risk factors are also risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. So the improved control of blood pressure and cholesterol levels should have an effect. Better education has also been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, although it is not known why. But the full explanation for the declining rates is anyone’s guess.

The exemplar for declining rates is heart disease. Its death rate has been falling for so long — more than half a century — that it’s no longer news. The news now is that the rate of decline seems to have slowed recently, although it still is falling. While heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 300,000 people a year, deaths have fallen 60 percent from their peak. The usual suspects — better treatment, better prevention with drugs like statins and drugs for blood pressure, and less smoking — are, of course, helping drive the trend. But they are not enough, heart researchers say, to account fully for the decades-long decline.

The heart disease effect has been examined by scientist after scientist. Was it a result of better prevention, treatment, lifestyle changes?

All three played a role, researchers said.

It’s not as if the waxing and waning of diseases have never happened before. And all too often these medical mysteries remain mysteries.

Until the late 1930s, stomach cancer was the No. 1 cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Now just 1.8 percent of cancer deaths in the United States are from stomach cancer. No one really knows why the disease has faded. Perhaps it is because people stopped eating so much food that was preserved by smoking or salting, or maybe it is because so many people took antibiotics that H. pylori, the bacteria that cause it, have been squelched.

In the 19th century, experts tried to explain why tuberculosis was a leading killer. That’s what happens when people live in cities, doctors said, and there is little to be done. By the start of the 20th century, 1 out of every 170 Americans lived in a tuberculosis sanitarium.

Then, even before the eventual development of drugs effective against it, TB started to go away in the United States and Western Europe. But experts disagree about why. Some say it was improvements in public health and sanitation. Others say it was changes in medical care. Others split the difference and say it was both.

The tuberculosis surprise was eclipsed in the 1930s as heart disease became ascendant. It would kill us all, the experts said. And sure enough, by 1960, a third of all U.S. deaths were from heart disease. Now cardiologists are predicting it will soon fall from its perch as the leading killer of Americans, replaced by cancer, which itself has a falling death rate.

Predicting future trends, Jones noted, “is often a suspect science in which slight changes in assumptions lead to substantial differences in projected futures.”

But Cummings has a provocative idea for further investigation. He starts with two observations: Rates of disease after disease are dropping. Even the rate of “all-cause mortality,” which lumps together chronic diseases, is falling. And every one of those diseases at issue is linked to aging.

Perhaps, he said, all these degenerative diseases share something in common, something inside aging cells themselves. The cellular process of aging may be changing, in humans’ favour.

“I want to look inside cells,” Cummings said. Inside, there could be more clues to this happy mystery.

12 Jul 16:47

28 of the Best Marketing Campaigns and Experiments of 2016 (and the People Behind Them)

by Courtney Seiter

It’s easy to get tunnel vision as a marketer.

You’ve got lots of goals to achieve, and only so many hours in the day to get there. So you put your head down, get focused, and get results.

At the same time, it’s important to let yourself be inspired by others.

Our industry can be creative, groundbreaking and a lot of fun. If you’re in need of a marketing recharge, here are 28 amazing marketing campaigns and experiments—and the amazing people who dreamed them up. Read on, and get inspired to add your own innovative contribution to this list!

Best Marketing Campaigns 2016

1. Marketing himself, after a high-profile layoff

Marketer: Sree Sreenivasan

Innovation: If I were laid off from a high-profile job, I imagine I’d be pretty quiet on social media. But Sreenivasan,, former chief digital officer at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, wasn’t—he shared the news far and wide on Facebook, and asked for advice on what he should do next, even linking to a form inviting friends to give advice. In return, he racked up hundreds of likes, encouraging comments and more—proving that vulnerability can turn a low point into an opportunity.

2. The newsroom as marketing

Mattermark editorial

Marketer: Danielle Morrill

Innovation: To be an authority on your topic, you’ve got to know it inside and out. At Mattermark, which collects and organizes information on the world’s fastest growing companies, CEO Morrill takes authority one step further: The company basically set up a small, independent newsroom (led by former TechCrunch reporter Alex Wilhelm) within the team, producing reporting and analysis on financial trends, the venture capital space, startups and more.

3. The trend caller

Marketer: Mary Meeker

Innovation: No slide deck is more anticipated every year than Meeker’s giant analysis of digital trends from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In the 2016 Internet Trends Report, Meeker breaks down why Snapchat video marketing works, what motivates Millennials and so much more.

4. The foolproof formula

Marketer: Bamidele Onibalusi

Innovation: Busy marketers love surefire formulas. We love it even more when someone lets us in on a secret they could have kept to themselves. Onibalusi covers both in his actionable and thorough step-by-step opus on writing content that gets more than 100,000 views—every time.

5. Bringing more fun to newsletters

distro snack email

distro snack gif

Marketer: Susan Su

Innovation: Is your inbox full to bursting? Mine too, but somehow there’s still room for newsletters that surprise and delight. Su’s Distro Snack, from 500 Startups, is one such delight, a beyond-quick read that consists of a daily startup growth tip and a “delightful GIF alongside.”

6. No more forms

Marketer: David Gerhardt

Innovation: Imagine a content marketing landscape with no gated content. No content upgrades. No more forms or hurdles to getting to what you want. At Drift, CEO David Cancel and Marketing Lead David Gerhardt are going all in on the idea of taking marketing back to its roots. Sensing a shift in the air toward true authenticity and connection above ROI, they’ve removed all forms from the site. “All of the content we create and share from here on out will be free,” they announced. Talk about turning the funnel upside down!

7. Startups 101 on Snapchat

Suster on Snapchat

Marketer: Mark Suster

Innovation: Does Snapchat marketing have to look like emojis and rainbow vomit filters? Not necessarily. Suster, a venture capitalist in Los Angeles, uses Snapchat to deliver what he calls “Snapstorms”—mini-lectures across many video snaps that offer the inside scoop about startup challenges like hiring, power dynamics among boards, CEOs, and shareholders; and how to write a great email. Follow him here:

Suster snapchat

8. The surprise mixtape

Marketer: Toki Wright

Innovation: While most brand’s April Fools Day jokes are forgotten within 24 hours, Hamburger Helper produced an April 1st “prank” that’s a cut above: a shockingly good mixtape called Watch the Stove. The project started as a Twitter joke, but after General Mills enlisted music veteran Toki Wright and the students at McNally Smith College of Music, the project took on new heft—and then took the Internet by storm.

9. The videos taking over Facebook

Marketer: Andrew Gauthier

Innovation: You’ve seen them on Facebook: Quick, mouthwatering recipes that you experience from beginning to end over the course of 30 seconds to a minute (sound optional!). The source is often Gauthier’s project Tasty, a year-old pilot from BuzzFeed that has amassed more than 62 million Facebook fans (and taken over your feed). BuzzFeed followed up Tasty’s success with TastyJunior as well as Nifty, a hacks and DIY site with an even bigger following.

10. The automation experiment

Autotweet results

Marketer: Tami Brehse

Innovation: Always be testing is our marketing mantra. So we were inspired by Brehse, who did just that by automating her Twitter posts for a full month to find out what would change (spoiler alert: the all-green stats above are hers!)

11. The DIY marketer

Annie Cushing DIY

Marketer: Annie Cushing

Innovation: OK, we all know SEO is important. But getting from that basic understanding to the intricacies of site audits and technical SEO can be a huge hurdle—unless you’ve got Cushing in your corner. After years of educating the public through speaking, she now offers resources that bridge the gap (site audits! analytics basics! Excel dashboards!) that turn any marketer into a technical marketer.

12. The authenticity revolution

Genuinely_logo

Marketer: Mack Fogelson

Innovation: When is a rebranding more than a rebranding? For Fogelson’s company, formerly known as Mack Web, rebranding was a chance to tie deeply felt values into their services. In doing so, the brand now known as Genuinely created a manifesto for a new marketing era:

“The way our world has evolved has completely changed how companies must shape and market. People not only interact differently with businesses, they expect more. A ‘brand’ isn’t about generating a virtual identity through websites, emails, social media, and being found at the top of Google. Great brands are real and human and they follow through.”

13. Virtual reality that connects an audience

Day in the life: What The New York Times’ first VR editor does

Marketer: Jenna Pirog

Innovation: In November 2015, The New York Times distributed more than 1 million Google Cardboard viewers/glasses to Sunday home delivery subscribers. Since then,VR Editor Pirog has been in charge of innovating in storytelling’s newest platform: virtual reality. Viewers have explored everything from Pluto to SXSW thanks to Pirog’s pioneering work in a new medium.

14. Arts and crafts on Snapchat

Soul Pancake Snapchat

Marketer: Soul Pancake

Innovation: Far beyond selfies and landscapes, Soul Pancake is turning Snapchat into a true hub of creativity and community. On the day I wrote this, snaps focused on creating a doodle self-portrait and featured tons of community examples. Even better, lots of their coolest experiments are on YouTube in case you missed them on Snapchat. Follow them for more:

soulpancake

15. The newsletter that loves you

CB Insights

Marketer: Anand Sanwal

Innovation: Ever wondered who’s really paying attention to the emails you’re sending? Sanwal, founder and CEO of CB Insights, a private market intelligence firm, did. So he changed tactics, adding conversational tidbits readers wouldn’t expect into his daily emails (each one is signed with an “I love you”). The result? The newsletter has nearly 200,000 subscribers and has “taken the tech industry by storm.

16. The political myth buster

Rhea Drysdale

Marketer: Rhea Drysdale

Innovation: When you name your company Outspoken Media, you set the bar high. But even for an outspoken marketer, Drysdale has been on a roll. Her honest account of being a pregnant CEO opened industry eyes and set the stage for her to debunk a political rumor involving Hilary Clinton and Google. When you know your stuff well enough to correct news outlets, you’re going to get lots of attention—deservedly so.

17. The real-time case study

Marketers: Devesh Khanal and Benji Hyam

Innovation: The co-founders of Grow & Convert are racing against the clock to hit a goal of 40,000 monthly unique visitors—and they’re doing the whole thing in public. (What can we say, we’re suckers for transparency!)

18. Simplifying remarketing

Marketer: Elizabeth Marsten

Innovation: Remarketing can be a big annoyance to your audience—unless it’s done right. In the presentation Make Your Remarketing More Than an Echo, Marsten lays down the context and strategy to make sure your remarketing hits all the right notes.

19. Inside views with Facebook Live

Marketer: Christine Dwyer

Innovation: Have you harnessed the giant potential of Facebook Live yet? Dwyer has. The fitness trainer and speaker uses Live to take viewers inside her classes on Facebook, with engaging results. No wonder she’s one of Facebook guru Mari Smith’s fave follows.

20. Email + video = success

Marketer: Ellie Mirman

Innovation: Video isn’t just for social media—it can also be highly targeted and optimized to convert just the right customer. Find out how with Mirman’s presentation from WistiaFest: How to Use Video to Nurture Leads through the Marketing Funnel.

21. A heatmap for your Google Analytics

SEER heatmap

Marketer: SEER Interactive

Innovation: Google Analytics’ heatmap feature lets users visualize metrics, like users or revenue, over time. But you can’t have it in a report—until now. The analytics team at SEER built a custom Google sheet that allows you to create a heatmap metrics and identify growing or hot trends over time.

22. Social with personality

Marketer: Helena Langdon

Innovation: Whether she’s live-tweeting the Euro 2016 semi-final or finding the humor in Brexit, Langdon, the social voice of Innocent Drinks, keeps followers enthralled by innovating on the medium daily. We’re also fond of Innocent’s compliment generator. It’s our kind of weird. 🙂

23. A Tumblr of Internet ephemera

Cyberspace Culture

Marketer: Juan Buis

Innovation: Honestly, I think I’m too old to understand what’s going on with The Next Web’s Tumblr, expertly curated by Buis. But I do know I couldn’t stop staring at it for quite a while.

24. She knows what we want to see

trend report

Marketer: Pam Grossman

Innovation: Where do stock photos even come from? Someone has to be dreaming up all those women laughing with salad, and that person is Getty’s Director of Visual Trends Pam Grossman (well, the salad thing probably wasn’t her idea). What visual trends are on her radar for this year? “People who push the envelope and visuals that break with tradition,” along with meaningful consumption and surreal imagery.

25. Keeping it weird on Facebook

Marketer: Sarah Burton

Innovation: How do you get an increasingly overstimulated audience interested in reading the news? What if you read it to them in a sultry whisper? BuzzFeed’s Burton has been experimenting with “ASMR News”—that’s “autonomous sensory meridian response,” for those not in the know, a kind of “brain orgasm” triggered by sounds such as scratching and whispering. “Right now we’re keeping it weird, but simple,” Burton told NiemanLab. “We’re trying to see what people respond to.”

26. Don’t skip the ads on this podcast

Another Round

Marketers: Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton

Innovation: There’s only one podcast whose advertisements I never, ever skip, and it’s Another Round, a “boozy podcast that covers everything from race and gender to squirrels and mangoes.” Heben and Tracy (and the whole “pod squad”) make sure to put thought into every single moment of their time on air, which means even ads become hilarious drinking games and pop quizzes.

27. Letting the community call the shots

Marketers: Benefit Cosmetics

Innovation: Another great Facebook Live example! We love Benefit’s”Tipsy Tricks” series every Thursday. Viewers have learned to count on this series, and know that they’ll get the chance to ask questions, make requests, and generally take the lead in how the video will go.

28. Curation with care

Make Change

Marketer: Ashley Hockney

Innovation: Curated content works great because it’s not all about you. Hockney’s weekly “Make Change” newsletter from Teachable is such a great example of sharing the love and building authority and trust as a result.

Bonus: 75 more examples!

Siege marketing-examples

Marketer: Alexandria Heinz

Innovation: In case this post isn’t quite enough to get you inspired, Siege Media’s Heinz has curated an incredible resource of 75 content marketing examples, grading each one on a scale of elements that includes traffic, revenue, UX, design and interactivity.

Over to you!

It was so much fun to see all the cool ways folks are innovating with their marketing. I bet you know of many more incredible examples and marketers, and I can’t wait to hear them. Share your top picks for marketers doing awesome things in the comments and add to our inspirational list!

Image sources: WOCinTech, Pablo

12 Jul 16:47

25 Google Chrome tips and tricks that’ll help you get the most out of your web browser

by Jeff Dunn

google chrome party ces 2016

Though it might not be the most efficient browser in terms of overall performance (or privacy), Google Chrome is still the most popular of the bunch, and it can become plenty flexible if you know how to unlock its secrets.

So let’s help you do that. We’ve told you about essential extensions for Chrome in the past, but here we’ve rounded up a few easy, built-in tricks for getting the most out of Google’s omnipresent browser.

SEE ALSO: This startup promises to help you finally learn how to code (and not give up) for $20 a month

Search sites that aren’t Google right from the omnibar.

RAW Embed

If you go into Chrome’s settings, you’ll see a “Manage search engines…” button under the “Search” section. Click that, and you’ll see a list of sites you can search directly from the omnibar. Chrome will add most of these naturally.

So if you enter the URL for, say, Wikipedia, you can then hit Tab, and enter whatever Wiki article you want to find. This saves you the minor-yet-extra step of going to a site’s homepage before finding what you what to find.



You can use this to search your personal Gmail account, too.

Head back into that “Manage search engines…” window, scroll to the bottom to add a new search engine, and enter the following URL: “https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#apps/%s”. (Gmail’s search function, in other words.) Then make the keyword “gmail.com,” or “mail.google.com”. Now, you can search your email as you would Wikipedia above.

You can do a similar trick with Google Drive through the URL “https://drive.google.com/#search/%s”. Again, it’s not a massive time saver, but efficiency is efficiency.



You can also do math equations up there.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
12 Jul 16:46

Your Competitors Are Going Mobile—Here’s Why You Should Too

by Andrew Gazdecki

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As more and more consumers rely on their mobile devices for personal and business use, the need for a mobile app is rapidly growing. 2015 was dubbed “The Year of the Mobile Web,” so small businesses without a mobile presence have already fallen far behind.

There’s typically only one reason these businesses hold out: money.

The Cost of a Mobile App

In January 2015, Clutch conducted a survey of a number of leading mobile app developers to determine the average overall cost of building an iPhone/Android app, including the factors or variables that affect cost the most. The findings put the average cost of mobile app development between $37,913 and $171,450. For a small business, even the lower end of this price range is a hefty one to swallow, especially without an immediate return on investment.

Luckily, the average price has fallen drastically. While the numbers may be a bit out of date, the data can still help us identify the features carrying the highest cost when developing a mobile app: the infrastructure, features, and design. On the less expensive end is the planning, deployment, and even testing that goes into the mobile app’s release.

budgetapps

Why Mobile Development Is More Accessible Now

Technology often changes so fast that as soon as data like the above is released, newer technology has made development more accessible, thus lowering costs. As mobile development has become more popular and important in today’s business world, the number of app builders on the market also grown. More providers means more competitive pricing; there are more options to choose from, and some of these options are remarkably cheap compared to the prices we were seeing just a year or more ago.

Also on the rise is app development software. Some of these software or app development services are designed for a small business to make their own mobile app at a very low price. As long as a business owner is willing to take the time and effort required, these hyper user-friendly tools can drastically reduce overhead.

The evolution of mobile is almost identical to the changes we’ve witnessed in web development through its infancy and beyond. In the early stages of the internet, having a website became an undisputed necessity for businesses, but development was costly. There was only a small number of developers and designers available. Now, there are a number of inexpensive services that allow anyone to make their own functioning website with relative ease.

The Future of Small Businesses and Mobile Development

With a mobile app becoming a much more reasonable investment for a small business to swallow, the future looks very positive. Recent data reports that roughly a quarter of small businesses already have a mobile app and another 27% of them have plans to enter the mobile world in the next year or so. As prices go down and accessibility goes up, these numbers are likely to increase rapidly.

Part of the shift from uncertainty to conviction is simple education. Small businesses ambivalent about adopting mobile may have been quoted for an app a year or more ago and still believe it’s out of their price range. Others fail to see how a mobile app will impact their business or how it’s relevant to their industry.

mobile marketing mistakes

What Mobile Development Can be Used For

At the core of all business apps, there’s one of a number of key drivers:

  • Accessibility & Visibility — As mobile search volume continues to grow, adopting a mobile platform is more and more important for accessibility and visibility. If consumers can’t find you or interact with your brand in the mobile environment, they may defect to a mobile competitor. Alternatively, attracting new customers without a mobile app could become harder and harder; your business is less discoverable and you lack a key tool to keep you up-to-date and competitive in your industry.
  • Internal Processes & Productivity — While we often think of apps as a new platform for our customers to engage with, mobile development also improves internal processes and productivity. Many companies utilize desktop software to facilitate certain day-to-day business processes. A mobile-centric version of this software could further enhance these processes. After all, mobile is, well, mobile, which means you can perform these processes on the go instead of sitting down to fire up your desktop.
  • Customer Experience — Without mobile, a customer’s relationship with your brand or company is interrupted the moment they walk out the door. By providing a mobile app experience, that relationship does not have to end. Your brand is more accessible, appears more personable, and can stimulate more communication. Improving the customer experience ultimately increases brand loyalty and reduces churn.

All of these factors and others have direct relationships to profits. The more visible you are, the more discoverable you are to new and existing customers. Internal mobile apps boost productivity and, perhaps more than ever, time is money. Lastly, a mobile app is key to enhancing the customer experience, which is becoming more and more important to audiences. It is no longer about offering the best product and quality, you also need to provide the best experience and mobile is one of the most important facets of that.

Conclusion

The mobile world took off like a rocket. In a few short years, it moved from a trend and a business luxury to an accessible and vital dimension of the modern business. In the past, small businesses couldn’t afford to invest in this rapidly growing, mobile world. But as mobile has grown, so has the number of app developers and services available, reducing the costs of mobile adoption.

Even though only about a quarter of small businesses have entered the mobile app world, more expect to join soon. Those who remain unconvinced may be swayed as prices go down and accessibility goes up. And for the rest, a little bit of education on how mobile can impact their success could set them over the edge.

12 Jul 16:45

Bankers bring cake and silly props to pitch for new business — according to a former Goldman Sachs analyst

by Tina Wadhwa

Baking

It's called a "bake-off," and for investment banks looking to land a role on a big initial public offering, it's a critical time.

That's when bankers will, one after the other, try to convince a company's executives that their firm is best equipped to get the executives the value they want in a public listing.

As it turns out, banks pull all kinds of stunts when they are trying to win this role — like presenting a cake with the company's logo.

Alan Li, a former tech, media, and telecom investment-banking analyst at Goldman Sachs, broke down the IPO process on a recent episode of his new podcast, "The Vampire Squid."

The bake-off

Once a company decides to go public, it holds a "bake-off," as Li called the competition between investment banks to take the company through the process. In some parts of the world, it is called a "beauty parade," which gives you a sense of what happens. One by one, firms roll into a conference room and offer up their services.

During this bake-off, banks pitch the company to show which knows it best — which really understands the company and its mission, goals, revenue, and risk factors. Banks usually have a 40- or 50-page presentation detailing their attributes and why they are in the best position to take the company public.

And many banks try different ways to stand out among their peers. Li has seen banks bring an "IPO survival kit" — bags of goodies like Red Bull, pillows, and sleeping bags, a sort of gag gift to show that they're in it for the long haul.

Other banks have literally baked cakes, decorating them with the company's logo. Others might show up to the meeting in matching shirts bearing the company name.

The company's management team and board then pick a winner, which becomes the "lead left" bank on the IPO (so named because of its placement on the offering document).

This gives the winner control of the process, a bigger percentage of pay, and bragging rights.

To "win lead left," Li said, is a "badge of honor."
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There's good money at stake. On the world's biggest IPO — that of Alibaba Group — fees to underwriters totaled $300 million. For a deal like that, the wooing begins long before the decision to start a sale.

The hard work

All of that is just the beginning. The next step is for the company to file an S-1 document with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The document includes a business description, the legal and business risks of the company, how it will use the money raised in the IPO, financials, and management commentary, Li said.

The SEC may ask for comments, and the process can take months.

Next is the roadshow presentation, in which the lead-left bank creates a presentation of roughly 30 pages on the company for institutional investors like large pension funds, hedge funds, or mutual funds. These investors get to purchase the stock before the company goes public, and selling to them first brings stability to the stock price.

Roadshow presentations take seven to 10 days, and they include face-to-face meetings between investors and company management. These institutional investors give an indication of how many shares they want and at what price, while the bankers take notes in what is called "building the book." After the roadshow, bankers work out how to allocate these shares, Lin said, aiming for a mix of stability and liquidity.

Pricing

Next, the bankers price the shares and sell them to institutional investors the day before the company starts trading. Public investors will see a different, usually higher, price on the day of trading, depending on demand and interest from public investors. When the share price opens higher, it's the called the "IPO pop." If the stock price closes that day above the IPO offering price, this is seen as a successful IPO. If the price drops, it's a botched or unsuccessful IPO. The investment bank running the process may not have priced the company efficiently in the market.

Li takes a longer-term view, however. Facebook is considered one of the most infamous botched IPOs. Shares were sold to institutional investors at $38, the stock price was opened to the public at $42, and it traded back to $38 the same day. Twitter was seen as a successful IPO. On the first day of trading, it popped over 100%. But Facebook is now worth over $100 a share, while Twitter is going downhill.

You can find the podcast on Li's blog or on iTunes here.

SEE ALSO: A recent Goldman Sachs junior banker launched a podcast to explain everything you need to know about Wall Street

Join the conversation about this story »

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12 Jul 16:43

The Innovation Opportunity Chain

by Travis Barker

Learning organizations seek to leverage existing assets, human resources, and experience to generate additional values over time. These values are interdependent and rely on the organization’s commitment to:

  • Learning,
  • Retention of knowledge, and
  • Acquisition of new competencies in order to be sustainable.

Building upon previous platforms, the learning, knowledge, and added competencies become a competitive advantage for designing and delivering outstanding products & services.

Innovate Vancouver - The Innovation Opportunity Chain

Leveraging opportunities for innovation includes internal, external, and overlapping inter-dependencies. Several models have been promoted in the business literature over the past few decades.

  • The Value Chain emphasizes the organization’s internal processes & procedures as executed by specialized areas and functions of the business.
  • The Supply Chain Emphasizes the organization’s product & service delivery network and complements as well as builds upon the business’ internal value chain.
  • An additional model, the 10-types of innovation (developed by Walters, Pickel, & Quinn 2013), represents an Innovation Opportunity Chain that builds upon the existing models and adds the customer journey map.

The literature on UX, or the User Experience, has long recognized the competitive advantage acquired by businesses that focus on the user experience when designing products & services. Lean processes and the customer development model similarly place customer feedback in the front of iterative product & service design. When all three of these models are contrasted and compared the business case opportunities to build, integrate, and deliver new innovative products, services, and processes is strengthened.

Opportunities to improve efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, and satisfaction exist throughout the business product/service lifecycle. From ideation, through production, and up through use and replacement there remain opportunities to exceed customer expectations. The business that is able to identify and build upon these opportunities will have a competitive advantage.

Innovation Opportunity Chain

The usability of your business products & services and the customer’s experience throughout the product/service lifecycle is determined by every choice you make.

What are your goals for introducing revolutionary new values into your business efforts? Leave your comments below.

12 Jul 16:43

The 4 Mistakes Most Managers Make with Analytics

by Anja Lambrecht
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There is a lot of hype surrounding data and analytics. Firms are constantly exhorted to set strategies in place to collect and analyze big data, and warned about the potential negative consequences of not doing so. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently suggested that companies sit on a treasure trove of customer data but for the most part do not know how to use it. In this article we explore why. Based on our work with companies that are trying to find concrete and usable insights from petabytes of data, we have identified four common mistakes managers make when it comes to data.

Mistake 1: Not Understanding the Issues of Integration

The first challenge limiting the value of big data to firms is compatibility and integration. One of the key characteristics of big data is that it comes from a variety of sources. However, if this data is not naturally congruent or easy to integrate, the variety of sources can make it difficult for firms to actually save money or create value for customers. For example, in one of our projects we worked with a firm which had beautiful data both on customer purchases and loyalty and a separate database on online browsing behavior, but little way of cross-referencing these two sources of data to actually understand whether certain browsing behavior was predictive of sales. Firms can respond to the challenge by creating “data lakes”, holding vast amounts of data in their unstructured form. However, the very fact that these vast swathes of data now available to firm are often unstructured, such as in the form of strings of text, means it is very difficult to store them in as structured a way as could occur when data was merely binary. And that often makes it extremely difficult to integrate it across sources.

Mistake 2: Not Realizing the Limits of Unstructured Data

The second challenge to making big data valuable is its unstructured nature. Specialized advances are being made in mining text-based data, where context and technique can lead to insights similar to that of structured data, but other forms such as video data are still not easily analyzed. One example is that, despite state-of-the-art facial recognition software, authorities were unable to identify the two bombing suspects for the Boston Marathon from a multitude of video data, as the software struggled to cope with photos of their faces taken from a variety of angles.

Given the challenges of gaining insights from unstructured data, firms have been most successful with it when they use it to initially augment the speed and accuracy of existing data analysis practices. For example, in oil and gas exploration, big data is used to enhance existing operations and data analysis surrounding seismic drilling. Though the data they use may have increased in velocity, variety, and volume, ultimately it is still being used for the same purpose. In general, starting out with the hope of using unstructured data to try to generate new hypotheses is problematic until the firms have “practiced” and gained expertise in using unstructured data to enhance their answers to an existing question.

Mistake 3: Assuming Correlations Mean Something

The third challenge — and in our opinion the most important factor that limits how valuable big data is to firms — is the difficulty of establishing causal relationships within large pools of overlapping observational data. Very large data sets usually contain a number of very similar or virtually identical observations that can lead to spurious correlations and as a result mislead managers in their decision-making. The Economist recently pointed out that ‘in a world of big data the correlations surface almost by themselves’, and a Sloan Management Review blog post emphasized that while many firms have access to big data, such data is not ’objective’, since the difficulty lies in distilling ‘true’ actionable insights from it. Similarly, typical machine learning algorithms used to analyze big data identify correlations that may not necessarily offer causal and therefore actionable managerial insights. In other words, the skill in making big data valuable is being able to move from mere observational correlations to correctly identifying what correlations indicate a causal pattern and should form the basis for strategic action. Doing so often requires looking beyond big data.

One well-known example of big data is Google Trends, which uses Google’s records of aggregate search queries. However, it is also a case where the fact that the data is merely correlational limits is usefulness. Initially researchers argued that this data could be used to project the spread of flu. However, later researchers found that because the data was backward-looking, using search data only very marginally improved performance relative to a very simple model based on past time patterns.

To take a more specific example, imagine a shoe retailer that advertises to consumers across the web who have previously visited their website. Raw data analysis would suggest that customers exposed to these ads are more likely to purchase shoes. However, these consumers who have previously visited the website have already demonstrated their interest in the specific retailer even prior to viewing the ad, and so are more likely than the average consumer to purchase. Was the ad effective? It is hard to say. Indeed, big data here does not allow any causal inference about marketing communication effectiveness. To understand whether such ads are effective, the retailer needs to run a randomized test or experiment, where one subset of consumers is randomly not exposed to the ad. By comparing the purchase probabilities across consumers who were exposed to the ad and those who were not, the company can then determine whether exposing consumers to an ad made them more likely to buy. Value is delivered in such instances not primarily by the access to data, but by the ability to design, implement and interpret meaningful experiments.

It’s experimentation, not analyzing big observational datasets that allows a firm to understand whether a relationship is merely correlational or might be reliably predictive because reflects an underlying causal mechanism. While it may be challenging for a manager to improve profitability using even one petabyte of observational data describing customer behavior, comparing the behavior of a customer who was exposed to a marketing activity to that of a customer who was by chance unexposed — the results of an experiment – can help a marketer to conclude whether the activity was profitable.

Implementing field experiments, drawing the right conclusions, and taking appropriate action is not necessarily easy. But successful companies have developed the ability to design, implement, evaluate and then act upon meaningful field experiments. It is this “test and learn” environment, coupled with the skill to take action on the insights and understanding whether they can be generalized, that can make big data valuable.

However, because of diminishing returns to increasingly large data samples, such experimentation does not necessarily require big data. For example, Google reports that it typically uses random samples of 0.1% of available data to perform analyses. Indeed, a recent article suggested that the size of big data can actually be detrimental as “the bigger the database, the easier it is to get support for any hypothesis you put forward.” In other words, because big data often offers overlapping insights, a firm can get similar insight from one-thousandth of the full dataset as from the entire dataset.

Mistake 4: Underestimating the Labor Skills Needed

Experimentation is not the only method companies can use to infer valuable insights from big data. Another potential skill firms can develop is the ability to build better algorithms to deal with big data. One example for such algorithms is recommender systems. Recommender systems rely on algorithms trained on correlational data to recommend the most relevant products to a customer. Yet, it is not the size of the underlying data, but the ability to identify the critical pieces of information that best predict a customer’s preferences. Indeed, it is often not the size of the data but the machine learning algorithm used that determines the quality of the results. While predictive power may increase with the size of the data available, in many instances the improvements in predictions show diminishing returns to scale as data sets increase in size. But building better algorithms requires better data scientists. Companies that assume large volumes of data can be translated into insights without hiring employees with the ability to trace causal effects in that data are likely to be disappointed.

By itself, big data is unlikely to be valuable. It is only when combined with managerial, engineering, and analytic skill in determining the experiment or algorithm to apply to such data that it proves valuable to firms. This is clear when you compare the price of data to the price of data processing skills. The many contexts where data is cheap relative to the cost of retaining talent to process it, suggests that processing skills are more important than data itself in creating value for a firm.

12 Jul 16:41

9 Tricks to Instantly Become More Charismatic [Infographic]

by ebrudner@hubspot.com (Emma Brudner)

charisma-boosting-tricks.jpg

Sales success hinges on a number of characteristics, including industry knowledge, quality products, and personal drive. Arguably the most important? Charisma.

After all, the smartest, most up-to-date sales rep of all time won't sell very much if she can't get prospects to buy into her proposed plan, and this is why charisma is so critical. Emotions creep into the decision-making process of even the most rational buyers. If a stakeholder has a bad feeling about you, the business is going to the competition.

Don't lose deals because you can't inspire confidence. Turn up the charm by trying the nine charisma-boosting strategies presented in the following infographic from Business Insider.

charisma-tricks.jpg

HubSpot CRM

12 Jul 16:40

Note To SDR’s (Sales Development Reps) Your Job Is Arguably The Most Important Job In Sales

by Keenan
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I work with a lot of SDR’s (also called BDR’s, Inside Sales Reps and more) and one of the things I often see is how many of them can’t wait to get promoted to account executive. For many SDRs, the role of setting appointments and being the first line of qualification is less than glamorous.  Often, it’s not just the SDR’s who feel this way; it often pervades an entire organization’s culture, perpetuated by management.

For many SDRs, the role of setting appointments and being the first line for prospect qualification is less than glamorous.  Often, it’s not just the SDR’s who feel this way; it often pervades an entire organization’s culture, perpetuated by management.

SDRs are seen as the grunts too often, and that’s a shame, it needs to stop.

The world of sales has changed dramatically in the past ten years and at the center of this shift is the addition of sales development reps. These reps are responsible for picking the good from the bad AND teeing up the good.

It’s this latter part that I focus on most and use to differentiate great SDRs from average SDRs.

Whether from a marketing download or a from a cold call, the job of the SDR is to convince a prospect to have a meeting, to sit through a demo, etc.  It’s the SDR’s job to create demand, enough demand that the prospect is not only willing to meet with a salesperson but wants to meet with a salesperson.  There is a big difference between willing to meet and wants to meet and the best SDRs get prospects to want to meet with your sales people.

Ya don’t think there is a big difference between wants and willing?  How different do you think the call is gonna go if the prospect was willing to meet with you vs. wants to meet with you. Yeah, I thought so. I’ll take wants to any day of the week.

Getting prospects or buyers to want to meet starts with recognizing that the meeting, the demo or whatever action you want the buyer to take IS the sale.  Great SDR’s understand that the meeting they are trying to get the prospect to take is their closed deal. It’s their sale and therefore, like any other sale, they have to provide enough value that the prospects says; yes, I will trade my time for your information, demo, or whatever it is you’re offering for their time.

Don’t think this is a small effort. In today’s world time is just as valuable and in many cases more valuable than money.  Unlike money, time is finite. In some organizations, it’s easier for a buyer to get budget than it is for them to prioritize the time to pay attention to you.

Make no mistake, sales development reps are sales people. Instead of product or service and dollars being the consideration, it’s time and information.

Great SDRs have to figure out how to create a large enough value proposition to get buyers to trade their highly guarded, highly in demand time for your information.  Give that some thought for a second. Don’t just brush right over that.  People’s time is so highly guarded these days. If an SDR is unable to demonstrate why the information your Account Executive has, or the demo will highlight or . . . is worth 15, 30, 45, 60 minutes of the prospects time, they’re not gonna give it the SDR or Account Executive and that my friends is a lost sale.

SDR’s are legit sales people, with a legitimate sales cycle. It may not result in ultimately winning the business, but the business can’t be won without that first sale — getting that first meeting.

SDRs, if you’re feeling like you’re not a real salesperson cut it out, because getting people to give up their time, is the real deal. Get good at the fundamentals and learn how to get prospects to want to meet with your account executives, not just be willing to. Get good at knowing what questions to ask to uncover opportunities. Get good at positioning the value of the meeting. Get good at positioning yourself as an expert, the first line of expertise in solving the pressing business problem your company can solve. Get good at these things and you’ll quickly realize there is nothing remedial or entry-level about being and SDR.

Selling is selling, and whether you’re selling a $500,00 SaaS solution or a 45-minute demo, the rules still apply.

Is there enough value in what you’re offering your prospect for them to give up their time? There should be!

Remember my SDR friends, there is no sale without you, stand tall, be proud and get damn good. You are worth your weight in gold.

 

 

 

12 Jul 16:40

We Analyzed 7+ Billion Shopping Sessions. What We Found Will Surprise You. (Hint: Desktop is Far from Dead…)

by Marc Hummel

I’ll cut right to the chase.

Desktop PCs still dominate e-commerce.

You can stop reading now. Don’t finish reading this post. Log into the UI of your e-commerce platform and turn off the responsive version of your online store. Delete your mobile app from the app store. Get rid of your multichannel e-commerce team.

That is if you’re OK sticking with the simple version of the story.

Of course, reality is a bit more complicated.

As part of our quarterly report of e-commerce benchmarks, we created a comprehensive look-back window of more than six million purchases (and 7+ billion sessions) made across the Monetate platform. And this sample is no small potatoes: it represents more brands in the IR 500 than any other personalization and optimization platform. We found that 90% of the people in our sample used a desktop to begin their online shopping journey. And 99% of that subset completed their purchase on a desktop computer.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all desktop all the time. The data we analyzed show that multichannel e-commerce is a real, albeit complex thing. A lot of it has something to do with that precious resource we all tend to squander: time.

While desktop computers account for the majority of online shopping sessions (75% of our sample), their time in the spotlight is limited. Desktop usage peaks during work hours (8am–4pm). Its share of page views never drops below 75% and peaks at 84% (at about 2pm).

Outside those hours, desktop remains strong, but mobile devices and tablets account for roughly 40–45% of page view shares during commuting hours, early mornings, and late nights. Mobile hits its peak popularity in the early morning hours and tablet in the late evening hours. (Mobile always maintains more traffic share than tablet.)

Device type graph

There’s a good reason to pay attention to these figures, and especially to which device is the first one used in the purchase process. That’s because the first device used is (more often than not) also the device that gets used to complete the purchase.

  • When browsing starts on a desktop, 99% of those sessions convert on a desktop.
  • When browsing starts on a phone, 64% of those sessions convert on a phone.
  • When browsing starts on a tablet, 84% of those sessions convert on a tablet.

With these insights in hand, you could tailor the shopping experience to your customer’s innate behaviors. And since the data we analyzed are averages of many e-commerce retailers, your unique customer base is likely to exhibit different behaviors.

Not to get all knowledge-is-powery on you, but the more you know about what your customers want from you and when and how they want it, the better you can optimize the shopping experience for conversion and convenience. And as our latest e-commerce benchmark report demonstrates, you can really make some small optimizations that can have a big impact on your business.

So go ahead and download your copy of the report now. We answer:

  • Where do buyers begin and end their journey and how important is one channel vs. the other?
  • How does desktop compare to mobile when it comes to average order values and pages/session?
  • How a premium fashion brand uses cross-channel experiences to increase AOV and conversion rates.

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12 Jul 16:40

The Neuroscience of Sales: Resolving the Irrational Objection

by Christian Bowen

In Sales, we hear them all the time — objections from our customers that just don’t make a lot of rational sense… not to us, anyway. We don’t say it out loud, but we’re thinking, “What? Where did that objection come from?”

The irrational objection is one of the tougher challenges in Sales because we know that there is something deeper that the customer is not comfortable sharing. Also, the customer may not be fully aware of some of his/her deeper drivers. Since the sale will not progress until we resolve the objection, we need to discover what is causing the objection — but how?

Our brains — ergo, our customers’ brains — are wired with biases that cause errors in judgment. Because we may not be aware of these cognitive biases, even skilled questioning may not reveal them. During the sales dialogue, we need to identify and understand biases and get good at using “debiasing” techniques to move the conversation forward.

The Status Quo Bias

The status quo bias is at the root of many irrational objections. It’s really simple to understand — our brains don’t like change. Essentially, we have a preference for things to remain the same until the status quo becomes too uncomfortable to accept. This bias is a powerful and normal reaction for us in response to anything new and different, and it’s not just emotional — it’s physiological. According to research in the NeuroLeadership Journal, the brain likes to know the patterns that are occurring moment-to-moment. It craves certainty so that prediction is possible. Without prediction, the brain must use dramatically more resources, involving the more energy-intensive prefrontal cortex, to process moment-to-moment experiences.

Three Steps to Breaking Through

So, how do we fight through the emotions, chemicals, and everything else keeping our buyers anchored in the present? How do we make the status quo unacceptable?

  1. Acknowledge with empathy. We don’t need to alienate our customers by drowning them in pain; however, we do need to give them an emotional alternative to their way of thinking. It is normal and expected for our customers to be resistant to something new or different. Recognizing and acknowledging this is the first step.
  2. Understand their points of reference. It is important to begin uncovering information about how and why biases are affecting customers. Specifically, it is helpful to understand customers’ points of reference for the change. To what are they comparing this change? Usually, the comparison is negative, and we will need to separate that bad experience from our recommendation if we are going to move forward.
  3. Infuse new meaning. Infusing new emotional and logical meaning into existing points of view helps our customers see new possibilities. Our brains find it difficult to maintain two conflicting views simultaneously because we seek consistency. We need to help our customers “try on” new facts or views in ways that they can literally feel how their current assumptions may be inappropriate for the decisions at hand.

The next time we hear an irrational objection, using what we know about the status quo bias can make the difference between a resolution and a frustration. Though our customers’ objections may seem obviously irrational to us, they certainly do not seem that way to them. Moving forward requires empathizing with their perspective, understanding how their past experiences are shaping the objections, and reframing their points of reference by offering them new insights and possibilities to consider.

Consultative Sales & the Neuroscience of Sales

The post The Neuroscience of Sales: Resolving the Irrational Objection appeared first on Richardson Sales Training and Enablement Blog.

12 Jul 16:39

The Value of Silence in Your Discovery Process

by Rachel Clapp Miller

silence1.pngIf you want to be successful in sales, you need to effectively communicate. However, the ability to fully articulate your value and differentiation hinges on how well you listen.

Think about how frustrating conversations are when you feel like the other person is not hearing what you are saying? You never want your buyers to feel that way.

Questions are important to your discovery process, but it is just as critical that you listen to the answers. First and foremost, the ability to listen and remain silent with a prospect shows genuine interest in what that person has to say. Buyers are used to reps overlooking their viewpoints to push forward with a sale. When you ask questions and listen (be quiet), you demonstrate your willingness to understand their current state.

Your Question Track

When executing a discovery session, you should have an idea of the key discovery questions that will help uncover pain. However, don’t be crippled by your question track. The answer to one question should inform the next question you ask. You may have great discovery questions, but if you simply run through your list on the Value Framework without tailoring them to the immediate conversation – they won’t do anything to help you advance the deal.

Borrow from Journalism

When you are conducting discovery, you’re essentially interviewing your prospect. You may balk at the fact that you are comparing sales to the news. But – hear me out. Your sales discovery session may not be 60 Minutes, but the skills are the same. A reporter needs a particular interviewee to shed light on the story, provide information and reveal facts that may not have been previously known. Your goals are very similar.

In journalism school, one of the first techniques you learn about interviewing is to be quiet. People are uncomfortable with silence, so they will often keep talking to fill the noise gap. Have you ever noticed on a news interview show, like 60 minutes, the interviewer waits for the person to answer and has no issue remaining quiet?

One of the best ways you can get people to elaborate is to remain quiet. Nod your head. Provide some validating statements and wait several seconds to see if the person continues.

Silence is a powerful tool in selling. For many reps, the ability to listen quietly and intently to a prospect is unnatural. They have a burning desire to speak. By learning to listen, you can show empathy to a buyer, learn all there is to know about his situation, and ultimately convey a strong value proposition.

Download our Ebook: The ROI of Sales Messaging

12 Jul 16:38

Are Purchased Email Lists Too Dangerous to be Effective?

by Jarrick Cooper

Are you thinking about purchasing an email list? I get it, your sales team is hungry for leads and you have to do what it takes to fill the funnel.

This could potentially be a growth hack for your business, right?

Well, that depends. Although it might give you access to hundreds or thousands of leads you didn’t previously have, there’s no way to know for sure you are reaching out to prospective buyers. Worse, it’s possible the people on the list didn’t give their permission to be included in the first place!

In general, you should expect low conversion rates from purchased email lists.

If the leads are cheap, then low conversions are better than no conversions, you say. Here’s why that’s a dangerous marketing mantra to live by.

Subscribers Don’t Know Who You Are

Corey Wainwright sets forth several reasons why buying an email list is a bad idea, but here is one of the main reasons you are unlikely to get a high conversion rate from a list you’ve purchased:

“The contacts have opted in to receive emails, from, say, the list-purchasing company—not your company,” Wainwright says. “Even if the opt-in process includes language like, ‘Opt in to receive information from us, or offers from other companies we think you might enjoy,’ the fact is that the recipient has never heard of your company, and does not remember opting in to receive emails from you.”

The unfortunate tendency here is to get marked as spam since the people on the list don’t know who you are or how you got their email address in the first place. The last thing you want is to get blacklisted by spam filters.

A Purchased List Is a Dead List?

MailChimp tells us that a purchased list is as good as dead.

Here’s the gist of it: “If we look at campaign performance versus the percentage of a mailing list that’s purchased or scraped, we find that positive engagement falls off a cliff as purchased correlation increases. Since most folks have to open an email to unsubscribe, unsubscribers die off too. The only thing that does go up? Complaints.”

Purchased lists will clutter your database with dead leads who may never take the time to unsubscribe. Most marketing and email platforms charge you based on the number of unique emails in your database. When a dead list won’t churn, you may end up paying for those leads —again and again.

MailChimp—and many other reputable email marketing providers—don’t allow the use of purchased lists in the first place. Although not connected to conversion rate, this might be another reason not to buy lists.

Moreover, it’s simply not best practice with an established inbound methodology.

So how do you generate lead lists the inbound way?

Growing an Opt-In List Organically

Growing your own email list is still the best way to create a connection with your target audience. Why? Because you earned their attention.

They’ve engaged with your content, they think you have something valuable to say and they’ve opted in to receive more information on a specific topic.

Here are several ways to grow your own email list.

Create Valuable, Optimized Content

Create content that helps you get discovered in search, and provide an experience that’s different or unique from that of your competitors.

If you offer a lot of value up front, visitors will want to take the relationship to the next level, because they’ll be eager to find out what more you have to share with them.

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Brian Dean from Backlinko always creates valuable, long-form content that entices users to want to get on his email list. It makes you think – “If this is what I get for free, what do I get when I subscribe?”

Also focus on creating content that’s shareable. As more of your audience shares your content on social media, you’ll be able to attract more signups, too.

Make It Easy for People to Subscribe

There are times when a multi-step process works because you’ve gotten a visitor to click on a button, and psychologically they’re already in a space to say “yes” when they’re asked to put their email address in a form.

But it’s easy to overcomplicate the process by creating unnecessary steps between the user and the signup form. Try placing simple one-step subscription forms on different parts of your website and test their effectiveness.purchased-email-lists-2.jpg

CD Baby has a simple subscription form in their footer – no fluff!

Create Compelling Offers

What does your target audience actually want? Templates? Whitepapers or eBooks? Reports? Case studies? Courses? Offer something that’s relevant and valuable, and you will see opt-in rates skyrocket.

purchased-email-lists-3.jpgContent Marketing Institute has done a ton of work to figure out what kind of tools and eBooks its target audience wants.

Make Offers Easy to Find

It might seem obvious, but if you’re hiding your downloads on a page no one can find, your visitors will have trouble gaining access to assets they want and need.

Create a proper infrastructure and navigation flow for your website, and place calls-to-action in strategic locations, such as at the end of a blog post.

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HubSpot has an entire marketing library that can be accessed from the top navigation – these are all opt-in offers.

Use Persuasive Calls-to-Action

Pay attention to copy, color and imagery. A/B test to find out what resonates best with your audience. Grab their attention with your calls-to-action so they don’t miss out on a valuable offer.

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Neil Patel from Quick Sprout creates persuasive calls to action that are hard not to notice.

Experiment With Popups

Popups don’t work for every company in every industry, and can sometimes irritate users. But it’s worth your time to experiment with them because they tend to convert well.

Try using popup windows for a while, and determine whether they give you worthwhile results (for example, finding the unsubscribe rate from this method).

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Many sites have popups that show up as you’re about to leave their site; this one is on Social Media Examiner.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

The problem with a purchased list is that you’re probably not going to see a high conversion rate. Your communication style may be different from that of the seller’s, the product offering might not be matched up to the audience, or the list itself might have pre-existing problems that you’re not even aware of.

Building your own list is time-consuming and sometimes requires sophisticated strategies, but in the end, it’s worth every bit of effort you put into it. Subscribers will be more engaged, and you’ll see a much higher conversion rate, as long as your inbound strategy is well-formed around your buyer personas.

12 Jul 16:37

How to Tell What Stage of the Buyer's Journey Your Website Visitors Are In

by nvanderkolk@hubspot.com (Nick van der Kolk)

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The modern buyer’s journey has changed. Research shows that only 18% of buyers rely on a salesperson as a source of information when making B2B purchases. This is one of the main challenges sales reps face today: Due to the proliferation of marketing material on the internet, the modern buyer is no longer dependent on salespeople to access information to make purchase decisions.

But we can track prospects’ activity on our company websites. So from both a business opportunity and predictability perspective, sales reps need to understand website traffic in relation to where those visitors are in the modern buyer’s journey so we can provide targeted advice that’s relevant to what our buyers are looking for.

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How to Tell What Stage of the Buyer's Journey Your Prospects Are in Based on Their Website Visits

Awareness Stage

Buyers in this stage will: Visit your blog, interact with your social content.

How to tell your buyers are in Awareness mode: When buyers are in the Awareness stage, a salesperson’s job is to identify and connect with them. The vast majority of your website visitors are in this phase, as most Google searches and social media interactions are conducted by people still in the research phase.

These are people that have shown interest in key areas of what your business does but are early in their buyer’s journey. People visiting your blog and interacting on social are typically looking for answers, resources, education, research data, opinions, and insights.

Categorize the content on your website by the specific persona types it’s intended to serve. Then, using technology that tracks visitors’ website activity, you can keep track of the number of interactions they have and areas they have shown interest in. This serves the purpose of understanding what their interest area is and the amount of interactions are important to understand how engaged they are. Then, define trigger events you consider to be valuable and reach out when they happen.

Example: Let’s use the company ThaiShake as an example. The prospect, a woman in Thailand who wants to start her own business. She’s a vegan and knows a few things about nutrition, and is looking for business opportunities in that field. She researches online about business opportunities in this field and finds a blog post about being a Herbalife distributor.

After reading the post, she shares it on Facebook and asks if her social network has any opinions about this opportunity. This is a trigger event for us as she’s clearly engaged with the content, even though she hasn’t necessarily expressed any sort of commitment or clear interest in becoming a distributor herself. So while she is most likely not ready to make a decision now, it would be a good moment to connect, thank her for the share and provide her with additional content to help with her research. The actual content you provide in your outreach should be different based on the specific pages or posts that your prospect visits and shares.

If you don’t know who is visiting your company’s website or interacts with your social media, don’t worry -- you’re not the only one. HubSpot Sales makes tracking this activity possible.

Consideration Stage

Buyers in this stage will: Visit your product pages, benefits or features pages, and “About Us” or area of expertise content.

How to tell your buyers are in Consideration mode: Your website visitors are not equal. They are leads, customers, or complete strangers. Some will be engaged and qualified, while others will be engaged but a bad fit for your business.

As in the awareness stage, we are keeping track of our website visitors that have shown interest in our area of expertise and solutions we provide. For most organizations, the amount of these website visits will be significantly less than Awareness visits. However, you can still segment pages into interest fields and personas to help you craft a personalized response. For some organizations, the trigger event is the website visit of a product page itself, while others might require a minimum of five such interactions before considering it a trigger.

Example: Let’s revisit the ThaiShake example. As the woman moves down the funnel, she might open a few nurturing emails and do more research into the specific benefits of the Herbalife product. The company should start sending her more specific educational content based on what she’s reengaging with on the site.

Decision Stage

Buyers this stage will: Visit pricing pages, case studies, and “Contact us” pages.

How to tell your buyers are in Decision mode: Buyers who spend time examining your pricing page and case studies aren’t just looking at general information -- they’re determining exactly what it would take to become a customer. Buyers in decision mode are a salesperson’s low-hanging fruit since they’re the most likely to buy soon, meaning that your response speed and personalization are of even greater importance.

Example: The final step of our example is the prospect visiting ThaiShake’s “become a Herbalife distributor” page. This isn’t general educational or informative content -- she’s no longer simply researching the vegan nutrition space. If she applies, a sales rep should reach out as soon as possible with a closing sequence, but if she only visits the page a few times without applying then she needs to be nurtured further.

If you can segment and report on the different types of website traffic, you can create a funnel-type dashboard to see your entire pipeline segmented by buyer’s journey stage. Adapting your outreach to this information has several benefits:

  • Tailoring outreach from the first email to your prospects builds your credibility as a trusted advisor.
  • Focusing your sales efforts around targeting the buyers furthest down the funnel will increase your effectiveness.
  • Your forecasts will become more accurate because you’ll be able to map your buyers’ journey stages against your average sales cycle length and better anticipate when and if deals will close.

How do you determine what stage of the buyer’s journey your prospects are in? How do you use this information in your sales process? Let us know in the comments below.

HubSpot CRM

12 Jul 16:37

7 Easy Ways to Take Your Prospecting to the Next Level

by lhintz@hubspot.com (Lauren Hintz)

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When you’re prospecting, most buyers you encounter are in the Awareness stage of their buying journey. Therefore, your goal is not to sell them on your product. Your goal is not to get them to see a demo of your product. Instead, your goal is to educate them enough to bring them to the Consideration stage of the buyer’s journey or disqualify them as a bad fit.

You’ll see that the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey shown below matches the same point that salespeople move from identifying good fit leads to connecting with them.

inbound-sales-methodology-small.png

During an initial connect call or email conversation, your goal is to listen to your prospect’s goal or challenge they are exploring. You want to build up your credibility with the buyer so they trust your advice and want to spend more time with you. Highlight particularly effective and relevant content that addresses the unique perspectives of each buyer persona for your business.

Want to learn more? Register for free sales training, taught by a Harvard Business School professor.

If you notice you have gaps in the content, take note and inform your marketing team -- this will serve as a content roadmap for the future. For example, you may find that you have lots of content for a particular industry, but other important segments don’t have any tailored content content. Or maybe you have a lot of content, but it’s too generic and not specific enough to different personas. In the future, you (or your marketing team) can target content development to fill those gaps.

Here are seven best practices for initial email or phone conversations with prospects:

  1. Take an inventory of your existing content -- both marketing collateral and email templates. Review any blog articles, ebooks, webinars, presentations, or case studies your company has developed. Check your “Sent Items” in your email and you’ll find previous emails to prospects that will serve as excellent templates.
  2. Keep your outreaches short. Initial voicemails should be shorter than 15 seconds, and first-touch emails should be fewer than 200 words.
  3. Be sure you reference the buyer at least twice as much as you mention yourself. This feedback applies to company mentions, personal mentions, the word “I”, and the word “you.”
  4. End all emails with one question. The question should be short and a separate line. It should be focused on identifying a challenge or a goal. For example, if you mention you’ve heard great things about their sales team, you should ask, “How do you find such great salespeople?” If you are asking for time, be explicit about how much you are looking for: "When do you have 15 minutes to speak?" It’s important to note that initial emails should only include one question to keep your prospect focused on the most important takeaway.
  5. Sound human. Sound helpful. Avoid sounding like a legacy salesperson.
  6. The subject line is the most important element of your emails. Personalize the subject line to the persona’s perspective. Here’s 26 subject lines you can use to get started.
  7. The content you uncover in your inventory is just a guideline for what you could send to prospects. Salespeople should always be flexible enough to adapt available content to their style and to further personalize the content to the buyer’s context.

How do you make your prospecting outreach incredibly effective? Let us know in the comments below.

New Call-to-action

12 Jul 16:37

6 Sales Email Trends We Wish Would Die Immediately

by aja.t.frost@gmail.com (Aja Frost)

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Most of the time, we don’t realize trends are ridiculous until after they’ve faded away. Think: Pet rocks, shag carpet, Jazzercise, to name a few.

These six sales email trends, on the other hand, are so atrocious that we’re not just recognizing how horrible they are -- we’re calling for their immediate death. They’re worse than ineffective: They piss off prospects and immediately bring down your closing rate.

Read on to see which six email techniques you should stow away with your MC Hammer pants.

6 Horrible Email Trends That Need to End

1) Using a Fake “Re:”

According to data from 30 million emails, using “Re:” in your subject can generate a 92% open rate.

But that definitely doesn’t mean you should sprinkle “Re:” into outreach messages where it doesn’t belong -- because the end goal isn’t getting the prospect to open your email, it’s getting the prospect to respond.

Once someone reads your message and realize they’ve been duped, there’s no way they’ll be receptive to your offer. Email, meet trashcan.

2) Including Multiple Asks

Recently, salespeople have started packing their emails full of different “next steps.” For example, they might ask the prospect to point them to the best person for X, look over a article on Y, and find 20 minutes in her schedule to discuss Z. If you factor in their email signature, which suggests people check out their company’s site, that’s four separate call-to-actions.

Reps use this technique so they won’t be out of luck if their recipients don’t like the first suggestion. But it always backfires: Prospects feel overwhelmed by the number of options, you look desperate, and the chances of a response plunge dramatically.

That’s why you should always stick to a single CTA. Of course, you can -- and should -- still direct the prospect to helpful resources, but align your CTA with those resources so it doesn’t feel like a separate request.

Here’s an example:

Here’s a great article on specialized versus general IT staffing firms. Do you have 20 minutes on Tuesday after 3 p.m. to discuss those differences?

3) “Just Checking In”

You haven’t heard from the prospect in a while, and you want to put the ball back in motion. So you figure you’ll send a quick “just checking in” email.

However, these emails are extremely annoying to receive. They don’t provide a single ounce of value to the prospect. In fact, they actually negatively impact the prospect, since she has to waste valuable time on your pointless message.

And the biggest reason why these emails suck? Even though you’re not explicitly saying, “What’s with the holdup? I’m getting impatient!”, that’s the message you’re sending.

(Guilty of sending these? Check out our 23 better alternatives to check-in emails.)

4) Referencing a Weak Connection

If you’ve got an introduction or referral, by all means, ride that to the bank. But reps who simply go on LinkedIn, find a random mutual connection, and insert his name into their email are definitely misusing this technique.

After all, if the prospect does know the third party, the first thing they’ll ask is, “How do you know John Doe?” You’ll have to offer a lame response like, “We met at an event once.” And when John denies your story, the prospect will instantly stop trusting you.

And if the prospect doesn’t know the third party, they’ll wonder who John Doe is and why on earth they’d ever care that you knew him.

So hit backspace next time you find yourself writing, I saw on LinkedIn we’re both connected to [random stranger].

5) Writing All-Lowercase Subject Lines

Striking a friendly, human tone with your prospects shows them you’re not just a robot, programmed to sell. But it’s definitely possible to take this approach too far. Case in point: subject lines written in all lowercase.

Some reps think this style makes them look laidback and easygoing; unfortunately, it comes across as sloppy and inappropriately informal.

For example, imagine you were looking for a new sales tool, and you got an email titled “let’s chat about your lead gen software.”

You’re making a big decision -- one that could potentially change your entire sales strategy -- which means you probably want to work with someone who’s experienced, professional, and trustworthy. That subject line doesn’t communicate any of those attributes.

If, on the other hand, you got an email titled, “Here to Help You Generate More Leads,” you’d feel much more confident about the sender’s ability to add value.

6) Linking to Your Scheduling App in an Outreach Email

The other day, I got a great email from a sales rep. It was straight-forward, engaging, and clearly personalized. Then I got to the final line:

“I’d love to help you figure out your personal branding efforts. Here’s a link to my calendar -- choose a slot that works for you!”

Immediately, I rolled my eyes and closed the email.

I love picking out my own appointments with reps: It’s simple and easy. But sending the link before confirming the meeting makes reps look presumptuous -- as if you’re so sure the prospect will say yes, you’re not even bothering to ask.

The takeaway: Using a scheduling and availability tool is a great way to cut a few steps from the process, but wait until the prospect has agreed to a meeting. In the meantime, here are some other ways to engage a prospect in an outreach email besides asking for a meeting.

By kicking these trends out of your repertoire now (rather than one or two years later, when it’s really obvious they’re done), you’ll have a leg up on all the reps still using them. So say good riddance.

What do you think of these email trends? Any you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments?

HubSpot CRM

12 Jul 16:37

Sales Qualifying Questions to Identify Prospects

by Joel Goldstein

sales

Leads are crucial to every business, but unfortunately, not every lead will turn into a sale. To filter out leads that aren’t worth your time, try asking these questions during the sales qualification call:

“What problem are you trying to fix with this purchase?”

The first question that you should ask any potential client is what business need or problem they are trying to fix by talking to you and considering your product. First, this will help you identify whether the lead understands what you offer. The lead may have misunderstood what your product is capable of, and therefore think that it solves a need that it really doesn’t. This question helps you filter out these types of leads and also helps you build the rest of your pitch since you know now what type of problems need to be solved.

“What other solutions have you tried?”

It’s important that you understand what the lead has attempted in the past so you know what has not worked for them so far. Knowing what competitors or other solutions have failed to solve a lead’s problem will help you pinpoint exactly what it is about your product that you need to focus on during the pitch. It will also help you frame the pitch to show the lead how different your offering is from the ones that have been tried before. This will help leads that are hesitant about trying something that may not work since they’ve been disappointed in the past.

“Why are you interested in making a change/buying this product now?”

If the client has had a problem for a long period of time, what has prompted him to finally do something about it by switching companies or buying your product? By finding out what his motivation is, you will be able to determine whether the client has a sense of urgency to make a decision. The client may have recently experienced some sort of trigger event which has led them to need your product or service. These leads will be more serious about buying from you—and quickly.

“Who’s the decision maker?”

A wholesale distributor or salesperson who is trying to qualify a prospect needs to know up front who will be making the final decision. If it’s the lead that you’re speaking to, then proceed as you normally would with the rest of the sales process. However, if there are other individuals involved, make sure that you obtain their contact information on the qualifying call and involve them in sales meetings. Otherwise, you will find yourself spending a lot of time with someone who does not even have the final decision on whether or not to move forward with your company.

Do you use any of questions to help you identify prospects? If the questions that you use didn’t make the list, share them in the comments below!

11 Jul 16:23

How to Unlock the Full Potential of Your Customer Base

by Anastasia Pavlova

How to Unlock the Full Potential of Your Customer Base

Are you familiar with the Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule? Essentially, it states that 80% of your business wealth will come from 20% of your customer base. Add this to the fact that it costs at least 10 times more to acquire new customers than to sell to the ones you already have, according to eMarketer, and you’ve got a strong business case to invest in your customer base.

Despite these powerful numbers, B2B marketers are still primarily focusing their investment and activities into driving acquisition, which means that they are leaving money on the table. Today, more than ever, marketers must focus on providing value through the entire customer lifecycle. From acquisition, where your goal is to acquire customers at the lowest possible cost, to engaging those customers in meaningful conversations on the channels they’re on, to retaining them and continuing to provide value, to ultimately turning those customers into brand advocates.

The Fundamentals of Customer Base Marketing

Think beyond acquisition and focus on customer base marketing, which revolves around each customer’s lifetime value, not just their first purchase, by identifying and marketing additional cross-sell products or services to an existing customer, working to keep them happy and keep them as a customer, and developing current customers into loyal brand advocates.

Customer base marketing can be broken down into these four pillars:

  1. Cross-sell is the concept of offering complementary products or services to those a customer bought initially. For a simple example of this, think about the last time you went to a fast food joint and got asked, “Do you want fries or a drink with that?”
  2. Upsell is defined as selling more of the same product or an upgrade. Using the fast food example again, customer upsell would be the restaurant asking, “Do you want to supersize your meal?” They’re still selling you the same food, but they’re offering you the option to select a bigger portion.
  3. Retention focuses on preventing churn by keeping existing customers happy and coming back for more. Successful customer retention starts with the first contact an organization has with a customer and continues throughout the entire lifetime of the relationship. This includes successful customer onboarding, enablement, engagement with the company and its products, adoption and usage of the product or service they purchased, value realization, customer satisfaction, and repurchase intent.
  4. Advocacy and loyalty refers to continuing to build trust with your returning customers, rewarding them for their repeated business, and leveraging their high satisfaction, brand loyalty, and willingness to act as brand ambassadors to extend your marketing efforts—building awareness, providing referrals, and ultimately helping drive sales and increase revenue. In fact, research by BzzAgent, a word-of-mouth marketing company, shows that a customer advocate is 50% more likely to influence a purchase decision than a regular customer.

Customer Base Marketing is a Win-Win Situation

Customer base marketing creates a more engaged customer base by helping them maximize the return on their investment—successfully onboarding them, nurturing them with personalized, automated, and actionable tips to ensure broad product adoption and usage, and gradually opening their horizons to new capabilities and complementary products.

Customer base marketing doesn’t just bring more value your customers; it benefits your business as well:

  1. Sell more to existing customers. You’ve already done most of the hard work winning the customer’s business. Now that you know who they are and what they’re interested in, you can leverage lead scoring across demographics, firmographics, and behavioral data to identify opportunities to expand your footprint and create cross-sell and upsell opportunities. You can even prioritize your best customers to target them with unique offers.
  2. Target your best sources of growth. Listening and responding to customer behaviors helps you determine their interest in specific products or services and identify which customers are valuable opportunities. You already know your customer’s interests, so engage with them on their terms: on the right channel, at the right time, with the right message—one that they’re truly interested in. There are a few different approaches to targeting your customers. One strategy is to focus your efforts on customers with the highest potential, the highest lifetime value based on their historical purchase history, high usage maturity, and breadth of featured used. Another consideration is to identify risky customers early in their post-acquisition journey and develop custom programs to prevent churn. Both of these strategies should be used simultaneously to continue to provide value to happy customers and identify ways to prevent the unhappy ones from churning.
  3. Focus sales on their best bets. For a B2B organization, the benefits of customer base marketing extend to the sales team as well. Sales can have a more personalized dialogue based on who your customers are, as well as the behaviors and interests they’ve expressed, to prioritize conversations and focus on closing business.
  4. Measure marketing’s impact on growth. Like any other marketing program, with the right measurements in place, you will be able to demonstrate how your marketing investment impacts revenue. Focusing on the entire customer lifecycle allows you to gather the relevant data that gives you insight into how your marketing dollars impact business growth—beyond a customer’s first purchase to their entire customer lifetime value.

Ready to learn more and take a deep-dive into customer base marketing? Read our ebook Customer Marketing: How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back for More.

How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back for More

11 Jul 16:23

7 Things You Need to Do Now That Drive Career Success on LinkedIn

by James Potter

We are often asked (by those executives and sales leaders we have worked with previously) how to find their next career step or new role on LinkedIn.

Rather than keep this information quiet we wanted to share it with everyone to give them some focus to their efforts, demystify some of the “best practices” that aren’t, and look at the tips and free advice which are often contrary to what actually works.

To give you a rounded view we have shared not just our experience but have also gotten the perspectives from a number of great recruiters we know about what they look for and how they see your efforts, and the combined list is fascinating!

Here we go!

1. Never change your headline to currently available or seeking new opportunity – comes across as desperate. Erodes the value perception of you right now as opposed to your expertise and insights having great value.

2. Do make sure that somewhere (anywhere!) in your profile you have all the job seeking type words such as: opportunity, seeking, open to, vacancy, career, job, role, opening, contract if applicable etcetera, but not all together! They can be almost anywhere in your profile (apart from the advice for contacting me section of your profile!) as the less efficient recruiters will look for these key flag words in a search on LinkedIn.

3. Status messages are now even more critical. Think of status messages in terms of real human interaction. If you bumped into someone you knew and they said “How’s life?” what would you say? Put that response in your update box, but perhaps set it as ‘connections only’ to keep the conversation within your own network not wider.

4. Make sure you are doing status updates regularly, but no more than once or twice per day. Sharing what you’re up to, researching … , meeting up with a …, exploring how I could add value to a … etcetera always positive but always honest too. All work related not holidays, family or kitten (!) related. You get the picture I’m sure.

5. Start interacting in groups where you potential employers are; interact on others conversations first before starting your own. Think of a group like a conference or convention and act the same way. Professional, respectful to others, not desperate and progressive in how you engage in conversations.

6. Do not spend too much time on LinkedIn! This might sound wrong but imagine I see you interacting on LinkedIn every ten minutes in your public activity then you are shouting you have no work or if you do you certainly aren’t focused on it enough!

7. Search through your network for introduction opportunities to potential employers in your networks second level and “pull” on your relationship/ connections to get an exploratory chat about what is going on in their world, if your skill sets add value, who in their market is on the up or down? But notice not asking for a role or job as that shuts down conversation, smart people will recognise you’re looking and offer if there is a role you’re a good fit for but if not you just learn and get more prepared for next time or who next :)

An encapsulation of this is just to treat LinkedIn like business life; engage a little more and talk to people not just now but always.

This is the first of a couple of blogs on how to find your next role on LinkedIn so if you enjoyed this one watch out for the next or sign up below.

What tips would you suggest?

11 Jul 16:22

The Essential Secret to Creating Powerful In-House Videos for Your Business

by Marcus Sheridan
in house video production

Recently, we were approached at The Sales Lion to help a real-estate company sell one of their premium homes—a listing well into the millions—and upon review of their ...

The post The Essential Secret to Creating Powerful In-House Videos for Your Business appeared first on The Sales Lion by Marcus Sheridan.

11 Jul 16:21

The Economics of Customer Acquisition

by Expert commentator

Acquisition cost, lead gen, cost per lead, customer life-time value, ROI... Making sense of customer acquisition metrics

We live in a world of supply and demand, this applies to customer acquisition. Gaining a customer isn’t free, nor is it cheap. It’s a necessary expense when running a business, but it is possible to overspend. It’s important to find a good balance when it comes to customer acquisition, but that’s no easy feat.

It’s difficult to keep costs down because of the competition that’s inherent in any industry. Marketing costs are necessary to beat out the competitors. With so many more demands for customer attention circulating in the modern world, your draw needs to stand out in order to succeed.

Looking at the overall economics of the situation can help with this.

Supply and Demand

The idea of customer acquisition isn’t much different from the way the stock market runs. It’s driven by supply and demand. Timothy Sykes, investment guru, gives an excellent description of supply and demand in the stock market: “When there are more buyers than sellers, the stock prices rise to attract more sellers. When there are more sellers than buyers, stock prices fall to attract more buyers. Price is always changing based on supply and demand.”

The same goes for customer acquisition, and it’s an important component in calculating the actual cost of a customer. Obviously, the more customers you have, the more profits you’re making. The fewer customers, the fewer profits. Therefore, if trying to get customers on board has cost implications related to services available versus services desired, you're functioning within these basic market forces.

Customer Acquisition Costs

The first step in truly understanding the economics of acquisition is calculating the lifetime value of the average customer. Tallying up the cash flows you’ll receive on average and putting this in a dollar amount will show you the value, which will act as your baseline as you begin to evaluate several other aspects of acquisition, including:

  • Annual Spending: Define the difference between your one-time customers and loyal customers by looking at what they spend. In general, the loyal customer will spend more rapidly, particularly as you present more offers. From there, you can determine if you should be spending more to acquire new customers, or if you should hold back because you’re putting too much of a dent in your profit margins.
  • Retention Rate: You can discover likely retention patterns simply by evaluating the longevity of your biggest spenders. Based on their interactions and the costs you’ve presented to win their loyalty, you can gauge the cost of retention.
  • Price Point: Your one-time and infrequent customers will snap up any deal and discount they can get while your loyal customers are less likely to quibble over price. Compare the margins of what you make from your loyal customers with the margins you make from your less-loyal crew.
  • Word of Mouth: Sometimes the cost of acquisition is measured less in dollars and more by the actions of your customers. If they’re spreading the word about your business and products, that reduces your costs and ups your profits. This is an important metric to measure, since 84 percent of customers say they trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends.

Every one of these metrics can have a profound impact on customer acquisition. Looking at the numbers developed through these calculations can lead you to discover where you’re overspending and where you should spend more.

Customer Value

Obviously, your loyal customers will be worth more to you than your non-valued customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring more customers to your company.

You must look at consumers like they have the potential to stay with your company for years to come. If you knew every first-time customer would make at least one purchase per month for the rest of their lives, you would do whatever it took to get those customers on board.

customer aqusition

This is one of the reasons that startups tend to struggle more than established companies: startups are living with an out of balance business model in which the cost to acquire a customer – which includes all the costs such as marketing, salaries, and other company expenses – is far greater than the current lifetime value of that customer.

In order for startups to turn a profit, they need to rapidly reverse this equation, a challenge when you’re still dealing with all the overhead costs involved in opening a business. Another problem is that companies often don’t see the precise cost of conversions. Instead, they focus on lead generation. Leads are important – they’re where conversions start – but if your conversion rate is too low, you’ll quickly find your marketing campaigns too expensive.

As you can see in the following example, in order to understand the real cost of customer acquisition, you need to take an accounting of each step in the supply chain. First, understand the steps – you need to go from visitor, to lead, to acquisition, and at each step you’ll see a drop off in the number of customers and an increase in the cost of your marketing.

In this model, we’ll take a basic pay-per-click scheme as the customer acquisition method with a budget of $1000. The goal here is to demonstrate the problem of imbalance as well as our often inadequate calculations at the start of a campaign.

Step 1:

  • Starting budget: $1000
  • Clicks: 500
  • Cost per click: $2

Two dollars for a click may not be great, but 500 clicks for a site that’s new or had low traffic before might be a great improvement. If the calculations stopped here and clicks equaled customers, this would be a great value on the lifetime monetization scale. Unfortunately, this is just the start.

Step 2:

  • Cost per click: $2
    Conversion to leads: 5%
  • Cost per lead: $40

Things start to get pricey here. Forty dollars is an rather lot for a lead (depending on the industry)– especially when we remember that a lead hasn’t bought anything yet. We haven’t converted these individuals. We have to take the lead one step further.

Step 3:

  • Cost per lead: $40
  • Acquisition rate: 10%
  • Cost per customer: $400

Here’s where we see the real problem at hand – your campaign cost you $400 a customer, an amount that’s untenable for the vast majority of companies. Although one look at the most expensive keywords will show they're are some industries happy to pay it.

Sure, on a high enough profit margin over 20 or 40 years, this could ultimately reverse the balance between acquisitions and lifetime value, but it’s hard to get out of that initial slump unless you have a lot of startup money to burn.

What’s more, recognize that not all customers will jump on your bandwagon. Even those that you convert through this first thread will not all become lifetime customers. Your real calculation will require you to figure out the ratio of those long-lasting customers to one-time purchasers and determine what you can afford to spend to bring in new customers vs. how much you make.

You’ll also have to consider how long it will take to begin to see profits turn around and rebalance your business model. Lifetime value is about repeating these exchanges or other quality transactions. If you can’t stay afloat long enough to make lifetime value calculations work, then you’re already in the wrong business.

Boost Your Customer Acquisition

Ultimately, the best way to ensure positive customer acquisition is to boost your customer numbers, thereby dropping the acquisition cost per customer. To do that, there may be some aspects of acquisition you should work on developing.

  • Use Videos: Right now, online video consumption is taking over the internet, particularly for those aged 18-35. According to a Nielson survey, video traffic will make up 80 percent of online internet traffic in 2019. It’s currently one of the best ways to reach the younger generation and increase your customer reach.
  • Make Interactions More Personal: Marketing tools have evolved significantly in just five years, making it possible to tailor your marketing towards a targeted audience. Using personalization to your advantage can be a great way to see your acquisition rates jump. For example, personalized emails receive six times the transaction and revenue rates of traditional emails. 
  • Engage Around the Clock: The internet doesn’t sleep, and if you want to make your customers feel truly valued, you can’t either. Well, your online engagement can’t. As unrealistic as it sounds, consumers expect 24/7 engagement with brands. That’s where freelancers and customer service companies come in handy. They can help you tend to your customers at all times. Even if they respond at 2 o’clock in the morning to say they’ll have a better answer at 8 a.m., it’s still better than no response at all.

Consumers are demanding more and more from their retailers, and only those who keep up with such demands survive. Putting forth the extra cash to develop a strong customer acquisition strategy is essential to developing a wide customer base, and those who wisely strike a balance between money spent and money earned have the best chance of succeeding.

Thanks to Larry Alton for sharing his advice and opinions in this post. Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Image credits:  Gabriel S. Delgado C.

11 Jul 16:21

Less is Really Better? 7 Caveats in Analytics

by Angela Hausman, PhD

marketing roiIf you haven’t asked yourself if less is really better lately, then you should.

Here are some unexpected examples of where less is really better:

  1. Fewer leads
  2. More cost
  3. Fewer employees
  4. Less space
  5. Fewer tools
  6. Fewer platforms
  7. Less content

I’m sure you don’t believe me, but let’s delve into these examples of where less is really better.

Fewer leads

In generating leads, less is really better.

For some of my clients, generating a lot of leads is their primary marketing goal. So, why am I arguing that fewer leads is better?

optimize your conversion funnelBecause a lead is just a lead — nothing more, nothing less. What you really want are customers, right? Leads are only interesting in that they’re the first step down the conversion funnel to becoming customers.

And, you really don’t care about customers, for that matter. What you care about is revenue. So fewer customers isn’t really a problem and shouldn’t be a goal.

What you should be looking at is CLV (customer lifetime value) and doing yield management to maximize the CLV per customer.

Adding high CLV customers is much better than keeping existing low CLV customers. Increasing the CLV of customers is preferable to adding new customers.

Increasing your conversion rate is preferable to generating more leads.

The number of leads is a useless metric.

The entire sales process was turned on its ear by inbound marketing, which transfers power from the seller to the buyer. Buyers no longer have to reach out to you (becoming a lead) before they buy. If you’ve done it right, they have all the information they need right on your website or in your social feeds. They can go straight from strangers to customers with a single sales call without ever becoming a lead or generating incremental costs.

Isn’t that great!

More cost

Most folks think spending less is really better. No accountant worth his/ her salt would recommend increasing costs.

But, marketers aren’t accountants. We know spending more for a lead might generate a higher quality lead in terms of CLV [source].

Similarly, spending more to get high-quality employees is better than spending less on a mediocre employee [source].

And, you should spend more on better materials to make more profit [source].

If we learned nothing from the ’80, we killed the concept of shrinking to greatness [source]. While great advantage comes from operating lean, indiscriminate cost cutting often reduces expenses, like routine maintenance, that actually cause higher costs in the long run.

Get my meaning?

Fewer employees

Having too many employees may be more deadly than having too few [source].

Work expands to fill the time available. With too many employees, clunky procedures and wasteful processes develop. When there’s more work, the staff available can’t get it done because they’re hampered with these legacy systems.

Too many employees also leads to political problems and turf warfare that are counterproductive to efficient operation.

Having too many employees leads to unwieldy bureaucracies that slow down the company.

Less space

Less is really better when you think about space, as well.

In traditional organizations, c-suite folks had massive offices and the size of the office declined as the employee’s rank declined.

less is really betterOne aspect of lean is the realization that we don’t need all this space. In fact, employees work better, more efficiently, with fewer conflicts when they work in a combined space, rather than individual offices. Google, for instance, has pods where cubicles are adjacent to open spaces for chatting and kitchen areas for refreshment, all combined in an open floor plan that’s very fluid.

Rumor has it, even Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, has a cube rather than a big fancy office.

The same goes for manufacturing space. I once consulted with a client who had a very dysfunctional manufacturing facility that added significantly to cost, just because they could. Rather than constructing a facility where machines involved in a process were nearby, they simply set new machines down in any available space. If they’d had a smaller space, they would be forced to be smarter in where they placed equipment, forcing them to make an effort to design a smart process.

Fewer tools

I’m really a fan of using as few tools as possible to get the job done — preferably 1 tool.

This is a great example of where the less is really better. Too many tools results in a lack of coordination, duplication of efforts, and confusion. It also makes analytics a nightmare.

The same goes for fewer platforms — social platforms in particular. Is less really better? Absolutely. Having too many social platforms, jumping on the bandwagon of the current platform du jour, and having legacy platforms just hanging around all damage your reputation when you don’t have the resources to coordinate and post fresh, valuable content on a routine basis.

I once consulted with a company that had the same product sold through 4 or 5 different companies. Each had its own website and social media. It was a nightmare just to keep everything straight. Instead, I recommended having a single website with different pages for different target markets rather than different companies and websites.

Less content

content marketing

Some businesses think that if content is good, more content is better. It’s been a constant discussion among marketers as to the proper balance between quantity and quality.

For me, I’ll come out on the side of quality every the time.

But, there are limits where less is really better. Notice this graphic from Hubspot. Note that there’s a big drop-off when content is less than weekly. The change between weekly and multiple times per day isn’t as great as when you create content less than once per week. For my clients, I come out with a preference for 2-3 posts/week. I find this is the sweet spot between what is best and what is possible with the given resources.

Some final thoughts

It’s common practice to assume that more is better. I don’t agree. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t always fix it and may make it worse. Instead, you should be throwing smarts at a problem — figure out what it takes to get where your REALLY want to be, the figuring out what it’ll take you to get there.

In many cases, less is really better. If nothing else, it forces you to use resources wisely.

11 Jul 16:17

The Easy (and Insanely Effective) Way to Connect with Customers on LinkedIn

by John Nemo

Here’s a fast and efficient way to both personalize AND automate your invitations when connecting with potential customers on LinkedIn!

Dale Carnegie said it best: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

When you dissect the components of a perfect LinkedIn invitation, it plays right into what the author of How To Win Friends & Influence People was getting at: Personalization is key.

What the Perfect LinkedIn Invite Looks Like

One of the biggest problems with all those random invitations flying around LinkedIn is that nobody takes time to personalize the text.

So when you type in someone’s name, or make a note about where he or she lives, or comment on where he or she went to college, etc., your personal touch goes beyond what 99 percent of LinkedIn invites typically contain.

That gets you noticed, ensures your invite gets accepted and starts your new LinkedIn relationship off on a positive, personal note.

The problem, of course, is that utilizing a personal approach to each and every LinkedIn invite you send takes a lot of time.

Or at least it used to.

Thanks to LinkedIn’s powerful internal search engine and a nifty plugin called LinMailPro, you can now automate and personalize all the LinkedIn invites you send to prospective clients and customers.

(Watch this video to see how the entire process works.)

Step 1 – LinkedIn Search

First, you’ll want to utilize LinkedIn’s internal search engine, which essentially works just like a Google search online.

You type in your search term – perhaps the job title that your ideal customer has – and then LinkedIn goes to work, looking at 433 million profiles in 200+ countries to deliver you the most accurate results.

(Bonus tip: Make sure you do a “Boolean Search,” which means putting quotation marks around your search term. For example, if you want to connect with people who work in Business Development, you’d type “Business Development” into LinkedIn Search. That tells LinkedIn’s internal search engine to only show you profile pages that have that extra phrase – “Business Development” – in a person’s job title or professional headline.)

Step 2 – Filters

Next, you filter your search results by People, then by Relationship, choosing “2nd Level.”

(Again, watch this video for a step-by-step walkthrough of the entire process.)

Next, you move further down the screen and filter the search results by Location, Industry, Company Name, School or Nonprofit Interests.

What you want to do is choose 1 or 2 of those indicators (where someone lives, or where he or she went to college) to further refine your list of prospects and set yourself up for a “personal” invite.

Once you do that, you’re ready to rock!

Step 3 – Invites

At this point, you should have a ready-made list of your ideal clients or customers that is sorted based on someone’s job title, and another factor or two such as location, school or industry type.

This is where LinMailPro, a Google Chrome browser extension, comes into play. It allows you to send everyone on that list a personalized, 1-on-1 invite to connect without you having to do anything other than push the “go” button.

Once you have LinMailPro fired up, you type out the invite text you want to use, and LinMailPro adds in the person’s name (remember Dale Carnegie?) along with your personalized invite text.

Say, for example, I want to connect with Business Development professionals who live in Minneapolis-St. Paul (where I am).

My invite text might look like this: “Hi %%FIRST%% – came across your profile here on LinkedIn, was intrigued and thought I’d reach out to connect. Also noticed you live in Minneapolis-St. Paul like I do – hope you’re enjoying the warm weather! (Finally!) Look forward to connecting soon! – John Nemo”

Notice how I’m sending each person on my list a personal, 1-on-1 invite that not only uses his or her first name, but also talks about the fact that we both live in Minneapolis, that the weather is great today, etc.

Best of all, LinMailPro lets me automate the entire process, so I can send out dozens of invites like this every single day.

It’s personal, it’s automated and it’s effective.

What more do you want?

If you haven’t already, watch this video to see the entire process in action, and then give it a shot yourself!

11 Jul 16:15

Why Most Startups Suck at PR and How to Fix It to Get More Press Right Now

by Dave Gerhardt

I was having coffee with someone who works in a senior marketing role at a startup in Boston.

“I want to pick your brain on PR” she said.

“OK, shoot. What about PR?”

“Well we’re having a hard time getting any press.”

This company is well funded. They have a solid team. And they’re in a space that is filled with boring old incumbents. There should be plenty of angles here.

So I asked her what she meant when she said “press.”

“You know like Wired, TechCrunch, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe — that type of stuff.”

press logos

^ that’s why they are having a hard time getting press.

And this is something that countless startups get wrong with PR today.

Think about it: You don’t rely on those places to get your information on a daily basis any more, so why would your customers?

The Landscape for Press Has Changed.

And we know this…But just like most things in startups, we don’t often think about what we actually do as consumers. We have a hard time separating ourselves from the things that we want to do with our businesses and how we actually do things as people.

How often have you read the WSJ or NYT and heard about a company, product, or idea for the very first time? That almost never happens any more.

We don’t start our days with the the Journal or the Times any more.

Sure, we check what’s going on there, but we start our day doing things like checking Twitter, reading blogs (and Medium articles) from our favorite people and companies — and we listen to podcasts on our commutes on the way to work.

Getting PR today starts with understanding that what PR is has changed. More people have audiences today than ever before, and anyone can be a publisher.

PR today is all about reaching an audience — not about getting a logo to put in the footer of your website.
And getting more PR starts with understanding that the landscape has changed — and as a result, the tactics that you take to get PR need to change too.

Why Most Startups Suck At Getting PR

Most startups struggle to press because their “pitch” starts from the inside out. And that make sense. It’s human nature. You started a company (hopefully) because you so passionately believe that you’re solving a big problem or meeting a huge need in the market. Spoiler alert though: most people don’t care.

Have you ever read the comments on Product Hunt? Every single day, hundreds of new products are posted and launched there. And every single day, there are countless comments that ask:

“How is [New Product] different than [Existing Product]”

Even if you really are different, there’s just so much noise out there that it is so hard to stand out with your product story.

Take any product in any industry, and there are at least a handful of similar products. Heck I mean there are even three different people trying to invent new ways to send ROCKETS into SPACE.

space companies

So there are probably at least a handful of existing products in your industry, too.

And even if you have dreams of landing a nice story in the NYT or WSJ, there are usually only two typical pitches work:

  1. A huge round of funding led by a well known investor that’s always on the forefront of the next big thing.
  2. A handful of powerful customer references (and that story needs to be something more than someone saying “this marketing tool got me 200% more leads!” or “because of X product, I can now run my business while on the go!”).

How to Start Getting More PR for your Startup

Knowing that the landscape has changed, here are the two keys to getting more PR today:

First, your pitch needs to be all about you. Throw out your industry and your “game changing technology” and talk about YOU. Yep. You, as a person — as a founder, as an entrepreneur, marketer, whatever. This is the story that will give you a better shot at landing PR. We (people!) love hearing tactical, authentic stories about businesses today. It’s why we read Medium. It’s why we listen to podcasts. It’s why we follow brands on Snapchat. Use that to your advantage.

Take the crew at Buffer for example. Leo Widrich and Joel Gascoigne are PR BEASTS because from day one, they’ve been sharing their story as they’ve been building a company.

Maybe you started your company after working at Public Company X under legendary Manager Y for 5 years and that’s why you started this company.

That’s your story.

Or maybe this is just straight up the first time you’ve run a business — start sharing all of the things you’re learning as you’re building.

People would rather hear about those stories than about how you’re disrupting hiring, travel, or marketing technology for the 73rd time. Authenticity is the way that the best companies are getting PR today. Figure out what angle you can take to do the same.

This is an especially good strategy for your company to take if you’re still pre $1-5M in ARR and don’t have a ton of news or hundreds of happy customers that will go on record for you.

Second, the channels you’re using to get press need to change. Stop chasing the WSJ, NYT, Wired and TechCrunch and focus here:

  • Speaking engagements. You’re most likely an expert in your industry if you’re building a company around this business — so find every conference that’s relevant and try and get yourself a speaking slot. And this doesn’t mean make a list of the top 2–3 conferences in your industry. Find the small ones — speaking in front of 100 people who will love you will have a bigger impact on your business than speaking in front of 1,000 people who will be checking their phones the entire time. Plus, speaking forces you to sharpen your story for when you’re ready for that dream interview.
  • Podcasts. Think about the explosion in podcasts. There are podcasts for every single topic, niche and industry you can imagine. Go on every single podcast that you can before you starting pitching press. Podcasters are like mini PR outlets — and some of them aren’t so mini. There are thousands of podcasts that have THOUSANDS of monthly listeners. I can’t stress enough of much of an impact going on podcasts can have (and it’s the most authentic version of PR — you speaking directly into someones ears as they shop, workout, commute to work, etc.) And not only can you find every single podcast in your industry to go on, but there are also a whole set of sub-topics you can talk about. Let’s say you’re the founder of a startup that is building marketing software. I’d find every single marketing podcast to go on (for one angle) and then every single podcast about startups and entrepreneurship for a different angle. There are even podcasts about company culture, work/life balance, etc. ← my point is there are so, so many angles. Find them all before worrying about getting some “print PR.”
  • Content. Content is PR, but we just don’t think of it that way. Just like you should find every podcast to be on, apply the same stuff we talked about there and find every single site and blog that will take your writing. And this doesn’t just have to be media sites — every brand is a publisher now. Find all of the blogs you read and the ones you like in your industry and find a way to write for them. Nearly everyone takes contributed content now — you just have to put in the time to write something original. For example, if you have a SaaS sales product, make a list of the top 20 startup sales blogs and try and write posts for as many of those blogs that will take your stuff. You can also use Help A Reporter Out as a tool to source opportunities (you get a daily email with a list of reporters and bloggers who are looking for quotes on particular topics; it’s a great free way to get more links and press).
  • Figure out who’s already written something about your competitors. As we talked about earlier in this post, you’re probably not the first company in a given industry. You can actually use that to your advantage for PR. Find everyone that’s ever written about one of your competitors and reach out to tell your story. And don’t just look at the traditional press — make a list of every podcast interview they’ve done, site they’ve guest blogged for, AMA’s their founder has done and more. You can use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to find all of the backlinks to your competitors blog, homepage or particular landing pages — or use BuzzSumo to find influencers on a particular topic — and then make a really targeted list of people to reach out.

Whether you’re struggling to get PR or just think you should be getting more PR, spend more time focusing on the tactics in this post (content, podcasts, speaking) than pitching traditional media outlets and journalists.

And switch up your angle too — make it more about you than the industry you’re trying to “disrupt.”
We love reading and hearing authentic stories from real people, and I bet your prospects and customers do too.

Oh and this PR stuff isn’t just something I wanted to write about on Medium — this is something we focus on at Drift and it works.

Since the fall we’ve had over 70+ PR features — none in the WSJ, NYT, or TechCrunch — and that’s led to us doubling traffic to Drift.com, growing our blog traffic 7500%, and increasing organic search by 4x.

Now go and get some more PR of your own.

The post Why Most Startups Suck at PR and How to Fix It to Get More Press Right Now appeared first on OpenView Labs.

11 Jul 16:15

Advanced Retargeting: Nurturing Your Audience Across Digital Channels

by Nathan Isaacs

Advanced Retargeting: Nurturing Your Audience Across Digital Channels

The SaaS marketing world is humming in 2016 to the tune of offering your business something – anything – related to account-based marketing (ABM). It’s the summer hit equivalent of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

One of my favorite offerings has been to use retargeting advertising to engage with the employees from a specific account as they surf the web. Yes, retargeting ads can be annoying. But they are also effective. And when as much as 75 percent of the buying process happens before a contact ever reaches out to you, it is critical to be looking for proactive ways to win hearts and minds by building the brand through any number of tactics, including retargeting.

But just as ABM is a new concept that is really 20+ years in the making, an effective retargeting campaign for ABM relies on some old-school marketing.

Let’s review what you’ll want to consider as you launch your next retargeting campaign for ABM, and how they all the pieces fit together.

Ideal account profile

Who is your ideal account?

Just as you begin any marketing initiative by determining your ideal customer profile and buyer persona, the same applies to building out your ideal account profile.

Look at the accounts you have now or that are in your pipeline. What ones do you want to emulate? Do you understand the business drivers for that prospective account, on both an industry and company level?

Next, you want to focus on understanding goals, behaviors, language, processes, systems, and more. As you build out your ideal account profile and next move to creating personas, you will want to consider that you’ll need personas for the decision maker, the influencer, and the stakeholders.

As CMO Kevin Bobowski points out in the video below, in the example of targeting the Act-On account, we would build out personas for him (the decision maker), for his directors and senior directors of the various marketing teams (the influencers), and then a persona for folks like me that will be working every day in the product being sold (the hands-on users). The end result is that there can be hundreds or more different touchpoints into an account throughout the different stages (brand, demand, expand), all of which calls for a coordinated approach.

Content audit

As your ideal account and account-buyer personas take shape, be aware that you should have an audit that addresses each stage of the buyer’s journey for each persona. Audit the content you already have and identify the gaps. For instance, you may want to produce an eBook for users, a short demo video for the influencers, and an ROI case study for the decision makers. As this content gets identified and fleshed out, you can plan how to use it in your ABM retargeting campaign.

Lead nurturing

Let’s define it.

“Lead nurturing is an automated program that encourages prospects to interact with your brand,” said Linda West, director of marketing at Act-On Software.

According to Gleanster Research, 30 percent to 50 percent of the leads that marketers get are qualified, but are not yet ready to buy.

“Just because they’re not ready to buy does not mean they will never buy,” West said. “It means that it’s your job as a marketer to really stay top of mind with the person and really develop the relationship with that person, warm them up over time, so that when they are ready to buy, they choose you.”

She said the goal with lead nurturing is to provide that top of mind outreach through a series of emails and other communications, but not explicitly sell to the prospect, so that over time you’re building trust with them.

“You don’t want to turn them off by sending this ‘BUY NOW’ email message when you know they’re not ready to buy, when they’re not quite there yet, and when they barely know your brand,” West said. “They just won’t bite, especially if you’re in the B2B space or if you have a product with a really big price tag on it, and you have a much longer sales cycle.”

She said you can nurture a prospect across different channels, using the intelligence you’ve gathered from your marketing automation platform and your lead nurturing environment. Companies that excel at this, West said, generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at 33 percent lower cost, according to Forrester Research.

The messaging you send via your nurture program is going to be influenced by your prospect’s profile, behavior, and engagement on your website. Your nurture program is going to direct your account personas along the buyer’s journey.

The content you’ll serve could include blog posts, tweets videos, and just about anything that will help them better understand the problem they’re experiencing as their respective pain points. This can be best-practice content, inspirational content, or funny, suitable-for-the-workplace content. In later stages of the buying cycle, you’ll validate their interests and offer more specific solution/product information such as case studies, testimonials, analyst reports, and so forth.

Just as you did during your content audit, you want to map out where along the funnel you will be sending your nurture campaign messaging. Recognize that no one makes decisions on your timeline; they make decisions on their own timelines.

So as you develop an email nurturing automated program, you’ll use branching logic to say if someone interacts with this email, then serve them with this message. If they don’t interact, they get a different message. Map out the scenarios in which they interact with everything, and the scenarios if they interact with nothing.

You’ll now be ready to integrate that with your retargeting campaigns, expanding those nurturing messages via retargeting to the same personas in your lead nurturing email campaign.

“For every individual email message we have in the nurture campaign, we also have an ad that follows them around the web wherever they are, it’s a retargeting ad, that complements that message and gives them that same feeling,” West said.

Retargeting

Rodrigo Fuentes, co-founder and CEO of ListenLoop.com, suggests looking at how the loop can be closed via retargeting by looking at a hypothetical example: Carl, the CIO of Acme Construction Company (decision maker), has been tasked with buying construction management software for a new project Acme is starting. Carl delegates this assignment down the chain, and it eventually ends up on the desk of Anne, an engineering project manager.

Anne starts the buying process via a Bing internet search for “construction management software.” During her initial research, she comes across HCSS, a construction software company. HCSS, our hero in this example, was also on a list of prospective firms that Carl had passed down to her.

Anne visits HCSS’s website, exploring pages that give a high-level overview of various problems that construction companies have. She finds a landing page for a white paper that gives an in-depth analysis of the specific problem Acme has, and gives particulars of the benefits of HCSS’s construction management solution.

Anne downloads this whitepaper, saves it to her desktop, and then moves on to another project. You see, as mentioned earlier, Acme is a qualified buyer, but isn’t yet ready to buy. For Acme, it will be a 4–6-month buying process, and Anne has moved on to address more immediate deadlines.

But by downloading the white paper, Anne has been entered into HCSS’s CRM via its marketing automation platform. Carl is already in the system, filed under the Acme account profile. With the addition of Anne, HCSS is beginning to develop an account profile.

Based on her initial behavior, HCSS is going to put Anne in its lead nurturing program, sending her an email with content related to her interest and behavior on the HCSS website (gleaned from the marketing automation platform).

Additionally, HCSS is going to also serve Anne retargeting ads that support the nurture program. Those retargeting ads will be displayed on various third-party platforms, such as internet news sites.

The first retargeted ad offers an eBook on construction safety programs (based on her behavior on the HCSS website). A second, then third retargeting ad offering content focusing on the top of the funnel is sent out every seven days.

If Anne engages with this content, then next month HCSS will send her another batch of retargeting ads (and emails) that offer her middle of funnel content. Then, based on Anne’s engagement with the middle of funnel content, HCSS will send her bottom-of-funnel nurturing content.

Additionally, based on Anne’s behavior, HCSS will serve Carl retargeting ads that offer top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and later bottom-of-funnel content targeted to his persona as a decision maker.

Over the course of four to five months, HCSS will have been nurturing both the influencer and decision makers at Acme about their software solution. They will have also been generating brand awareness with Anne and Carl as the two traveled around the rest of the web via retargeting ads, including ads that featured Acme’s logo in them.

“It’s really important to understand that in this postmodern marketing world that we live in, people are becoming a lot more marketing savvy,” Fuentes said. “You really have to get creative and understand how to nurture audiences across digital channels. And I think that’s really where intelligent retargeting and intelligent email nurture marketing can be extremely valuable.”

Ready to expand your knowledge about how to extend your nurturing across digital channels? Join Linda West, Director of Marketing at Act-On Software and Rodrigo Fuentes, Co-Founder and CEO of ListenLoop, as they deep dive into the topic and show you how you can generate more sales-ready leads, by extending your lead nurturing efforts through retargeting.