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08 Jun 17:03

Morgan Stanley thinks cars of the future will be nothing but a 'data pipe' (F, TSLA)

by Matthew DeBord

Ford City of Tomorrow

It has finally come to this: the iconic automobile, the dream machine of the 21st century, is set to become merely a feature of 21st-century infotainment plumbing.

That's the view of Morgan Stanley auto and mobility analyst Adam Jonas. In a research note published Wednesday, he grappled with Ford's destiny in what he called the "Auto 2.0" future:

A constructive view of Ford’s potential in Auto 2.0 is to view the firm’s global car population as mobile real estate, a data pipe ... equivalent to telecom spectrum. With the right strategic repositioning over many years, Ford may be in a position to convert its (roughly) 2 billion of daily vehicle miles traveled into a data harvesting, machine learning, content delivering juggernaut. In today's automobile business model, once the car is sold the OEM loses that customer, giving up the opportunity to generate after sale revenue to other firms in other industries. In the Auto 2.0 business model, we see 100% of the revenue and profit eventually coming from the operation of vehicles in a network.

We're starting to see a lot of this sort of thinking now, as the alleged mass-disruption of transportation pivots from electric cars to self-driving cars to connected/networked cars. Those pivots are largely being forced by well-funded Silicon Valley experiments that thus far have demonstrated no real business case.

Tesla is effectively the only major stand-alone electric carmaker. The global market for these vehicles is only about 1% of total sales; consumers have basically said "no thanks" to EVs. Google has amassed millions of autonomously driven miles with its test fleet, but the company hasn't figured out how to make money on tech. Apple was supposed to be making a car but now probably isn't. Uber rolled out self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh last year, but its revenue comes almost entirely from human-piloted cars. 

The car-as-data-node idea

Tesla AutopilotNew

Enter the car-as-data-node idea. Because the tech industry has thus far failed to meaningfully disrupt transportation — cars built, cars sold, on an individual basis — or even really taken a genuine shot at the much-vaunted opportunity, it's reverting to a model that it understands and can make money on. Data and software go hand-in-hand, so why not make the next big thing the invasion of that stubborn, rolling sanctuary? 

After cycling through the path of greatest resistance — real-world vehicles — the putative disruptors have slipped back to the past of least resistance: the virtual realm of code and information flows. Hence the techy "Auto 2.0" terminology that Jonas employs. Auto 1.0, for anyone keeping track, was formerly just known as the "car business" and lasted for over a century. 

The whole point of making cars into data pipes is compelling, and Ford's new CEO, Jim Hackett, has offered some intriguing and nuanced ways to make this work in Ford's favor (he hasn't yet laid out any official road maps yet). But the bottom line is that the main purpose of such a pipe would be to sell car owners stuff. And the notion raises big privacy and intellectual-property issues: Who owns the data? Carmaker or car owner? If the latter, then the fat profit margins expected from this business — former Ford CEO Mark Fields thought they could be 20% — might be in doubt.

Pivot city

ford car dealership salesman

This lastest pivot, after more than a decade of the car business not really changing all that much, is evidence of a deeply embedded problem with the industry. Automakers are doing quite well these days, making lots of money as consumers buy SUVs and pickups.

But there's no story there. It's just boringly excellent execution quarter after quarter, money in the bank, and consumers presented with a vast array of choices with no automaker able to develop monopoly control of any aspect of the market (save Tesla, with its tiny sliver). If you don't want to lose your money, you can buy Ford's stock at its currently rather depressed price of $11 and collect a generous 5.5% dividend. 

Or you can tell Ford to stop doing what it obviously does well and ask it to make a costly bet that big data is where the action is. Oh, and make sure that you don't keep that big data but instead, share it with tech companies. 

When you start to see a lot of pivots, plot changes, and techno-speak getting into a discussion about a perfectly successful and profitable business, you have to ask yourself what you're really being sold.

SEE ALSO: 'So, do you want to see the car?': The story of the day that Tesla stunned the world

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Buying Tesla stock is like buying a call option on Elon Musk

08 Jun 17:03

Facebook’s Branded Content Tool and Influencer-Generated Content

by Francesca Cruz

Influencer marketing is a type of “sponsored content.” There should always be a value exchange between the marketer, the influencer and the customer if you want the content to be received favorably. The key to success is ensuring alignment between your brand, the influencer, the influencers audience, and your target audience.

Influencer-Generated Content and Facebook Branded Content Tool

Sponsored content works particularly well when supporting top of the funnel goals and net new lead acquisition. It isn’t, however, good at cutting through the noise, appealing to users who don’t want to see branded content or getting passed ad block. That’s where “sponsoring” content through influencers works so well. Sponsored content through influencers is unique in the way it maximizes the long tail impact of content, in a recent study we uncovered there was actually 2x the amount of impressions post campaign (when using sponsored influencer-generated content). The same study further proved a massive return on investment of influencer-generated content.

What is the Facebook Branded Content Tool?

If there is an exchange of value between a brand and an influencer, the influencer must use the Branded Content Tool to publish the resulting sponsored content. The Branded Content Tool is only available on Pages, not profiles, so you must have a Page to publish sponsored content. When you use the Branded Content Tool, you will be prompted to tag the sponsoring brand in the post. Once you publish your post using the tool, the word “Paid” will appear next to the post date. It looks like this:

Influencer-Generated Content

How do I use the Branded Content Tool?

Simply follow the instructions on the Facebook Help Center here. It’s easy!

What if I wasn’t paid in cash, but instead I received a free product or a trip?

Any kind of value exchange between an influencer and a brand must be disclosed using the Branded Content Tool. Sponsored content requires that you adhere to some important guidelines and policies issued by both the Federal Trade Commission and the individual social networks. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate those policies so you don’t lose any velocity on your valuable influencer content creation.

If you haven’t already checked out our FTC Success Kit. It’s a great collection of resources that will help you ensure your sponsored content is compliant with the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC guidelines are not the only regulations influencers and marketers need to adhere to when it comes to creating sponsored content. Facebook just launched its updated Branded Content Tool and associated policies that help influencers disclose their relationships with brands. This simple set of FAQ will help you better understand how to use the Branded Content Tool so you can continue creating great authentic content without worry!

Does using the Branded Content Tool mean I don’t have to include an FTC disclosure like #ad or #sponsored?

No. Facebook has stated that the Branded Content Tool should be used alongside any other regulated disclosures. I actually reached out to the FTC directly to get clarity on this topic. Because the Paid symbol may not be “clear and conspicuous,” which is a key tenet of ensuring your content is FTC compliant, and tagging a brand does not always indicate a sponsored relationship, the FTC recommends that an additional disclosure like #ad or #sponsored be used alongside the Branded Content Tool.

I hope this was helpful! Happy creating.

07 Jun 16:13

Effective Ways to Use Infographics for Marketing Campaigns.

by Andy Williams

GettyImages-687124490.jpg

An infographic is defined as a visual image that is used to represent information or data, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Infographics have grown to become a huge part of marketing campaigns in recent years.

Nearly all companies today compile and use data in their marketing campaigns, and this is usually what is used to make up an infographic. However, knowing how to use those infographics effectively in your marketing campaigns can be the fine margin that separates you from your competition.

Content Supplementation

As a marketer, you should be constantly creating and driving new content to your consumers, not only to stay relevant, but to keep your content fresh. Quite often, an infographic can be a great segue into a piece of premium content, like an eBook for example, as it can act as an introduction or a brief overview to a certain topic. Once the consumer has digested the infographic, there can be a simple CTA linking traffic to your website to download the eBook and read more about the topic.

Drive Traffic

If you are looking to drive more traffic to your website, or a particular piece of content, then creating an infographic can be the perfect driving force to get current and new consumers interested in your marketing efforts. The key for success here is to use the infographic to pique consumers’ interest (because who doesn’t like to look at beautiful design, right?) in the topic. Even if they have limited knowledge of the topic, a well crafted infographic can take them on an informative journey that engages them and makes them want to learn more, thus creating a click through to your website or premium content.

Go Viral

Infographics are almost tailor-made for social media platforms: a highly engageable piece of content on a dynamic social sharing platform. If your infographic hits the right notes then it’s highly likely that your content will be shared by thousands in a matter of seconds, and your company’s visibility will increase very quickly. It’s almost like a match made in heaven. However, it does work both ways, so make sure that your infographic is aesthetically pleasing.

Get Your Brand Recognized

Another effective use of infographics is to create brand awareness. Not only do they put out a bold statement of your in-house design chops, but they can go a long way in really getting your brand recognized as a market leader. In addition, not only are infographics great at expressing knowledge of a particular topic, they can also be an effective way of telling the wide world just how great your company is—especially if you have the stats to back it up!

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Don’t rest on your laurels. Infographics are evolving, and new techniques are being brought forward all the time (take a look at this animated infographic for example). What used to be a static medium has now evolved into something much more dynamic, so make sure you are staying on top of current trends and seeing how they can relate and help push forward your company.

Conclusion

There are a number of ways you can use infographics in your marketing campaigns, some of which we have covered above in this post, but the main takeaway is that a beautiful, well designed, easily digested infographic can really be the driving force behind your marketing campaigns.

07 Jun 16:06

Why Ignoring Video Marketing is Hurting Your Business

by Susan Friesen

6 Compelling Benefits to Jumping on the Video Bandwagon while the Momentum is Hot

Have you noticed seeing a lot more videos on Facebook lately? Not only have there been a plethora of Facebook LIVE videos, but I’ve also been seeing a trend of videos made from simple animations or static inspirational images with music added.

All because Facebook has declared video to be something people want to watch more than any other form of content.

Then there’s the popularity of YouTube, SnapChat, Twitter and Instagram’s video platforms and capabilities that make using video hard to ignore in today’s business marketing landscape.

And it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise either. Think about how we have all been spoon-fed videos since young toddlers on TV.

The good news is, with the advancement of technology over the past few years, you no longer need to be a professional videographer or editor to be able to produce decent-looking videos, especially for a social media audience.

Still not sure if you should bother taking on the task of learning to do videos for your social media marketing? Take a look at some of these stats:

  • A Facebook video receives, on average, 135% more organic reach than a photo.
  • 73% of Business-to-Business marketers say video positively impacts their marketing return on investment.
  • According to CISCO, 80% of all consumer internet traffic will come from videos by 2020.
  • 10 billion videos are watched on Snapchat every day.
  • More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube every day
  • A Facebook video receives, on average, 135% more organic reach than a post with just a photo.
  • On Twitter, videos are 6 times more likely to be retweeted than photos and 3 times more likely than GIFs
  • Companies that use video in their online marketing efforts have been known to grow their revenues 49% faster.
  • Businesses who use videos in their marketing enjoy a 27% higher Click Through Rate (CTR) and 34% higher web conversion rates than those which don’t (Aberdeen Group, 2015).

Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? But what can video actually do for you that will help boost your bottom line?

By incorporating videos into your business and social media marketing, you can take advantage of the following benefits:

  1. Increase Your Target Market’s Confidence in You

    Since trust is what relationship marketing is built upon, videos make a perfect fit to developing your target market’s confidence with your business offerings.

    Because you want to create the “Know, Like and Trust” factor with your ideal client, there is nothing better than having your smiling face be in front of that market in order for them to see your personality, understand your level of expertise, and get an instant impression of you that will lead them quicker to purchase.

  2. Boost Your Search Engine Rankings

    Because people tend to stay on your site’s web page longer by watching a video, the search engine’s algorithms are interpreting that to mean your site is worthwhile. This will, in turn, boost your SEO rankings. According to Moovly, your chances are 53x’s greater to be higher up in Google’s search results if your website or blog post includes a video.

    That coupled with Google’s ownership of YouTube, your chances of getting higher rankings are increased when your videos are also housed there.

  3. Gain a Higher Social Media Reach

    Getting more people to like, comment and share your posts on Facebook has been an increasing challenge for business owners. The good news is, video has been a shining beacon of hope where 76% of users say they are apt to share entertaining videos on social media.

    If you make an effort to create fun and entertaining videos, this will increase your brand exposure and will, in turn, bring more attention to your business in an indirect way.

  4. Enjoy Higher Website Conversions

    Video marketing studies show that 74% of users who watched a video explaining or demonstrating a product ended up making the purchase.So by simply adding a video to your sales or free giveaway page, you should see a significant increase in people signing up for your offering.

  5. Save on Expensive Production Costs

    With technological advancements we are seeing at an incredible rate, the great news is you don’t need to invest in a lot of expensive equipment to create well-made videos.

    All you need is your smartphone and you’re good to go. So videos are now considered a cost-effective solution to getting in front of the masses in a format people are responding well to.

  6. Take Advantage of Showcasing Your Offerings

    A video is a great way to explain, demonstrate and showcase any kind of product or service offering you may have.Whether you are promoting a new program or offering a free giveaway for list building purposes, adding a video to the landing page will help give the viewer an opportunity to see it in action and visualize its benefits.

So as you can see, there are lots of reasons to start using videos to enhance your marketing efforts that will lead to increased sales.

Unlike as little as 10 years ago, the cost of equipment and production has made video marketing much more affordable for business owners; however, this is not to say it’s simple, easy and a sure-thing for success.

In my Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs monthly membership program, I share lots of tips and strategies on not only video marketing, but many other social media and digital marketing topics to help grow your business. Come and join us and learn!

07 Jun 16:05

A Sales Managers Recipe: What Cooking in 2017

by Ken Thoreson

Last week after presenting a keynote program called Gourmet Living, an attendee came up to me afterward and discussed her challenges as a sales manager. The last three years have been tough and she was looking for new ideas for 2017 to excite her team and also to simply change up the routine. At the half way point of the year, there is time to continue to exceed your goals.

Since my keynote program had been about creating a Menu for Your Life with many metaphors around cooking I started thinking about what her sales management recipe should be, for about 30 minutes we discussed a variety of ideas. So if 2016 left a bad taste in your mouth, use the following ingredients to create a new recipe to make 2017 your best year ever.

Become a Detective: In sales management workshops we always talk about inspect what you expect. Once a week; review your sales teams CRM system to ensure they are using it properly and casually ask each team member about their certain activities within their key accounts. Once they know you are actually reviewing their accounts they will be more precise and begin to be more accurate. Next, make two extra sales calls per month with each sales rep. Validate they can sell your firm and they are using the proper sales tools. These actions are not micro-management, they are designed to provide you greater opportunities to coach and grow your team.

Reduce Fatigue: Recognize your sales team might be tired or somewhat challenged based upon the last three years of tight budgets and stress. Fire them up with new products or packaging/pricing, change the game with new times for sales and sales training meetings-even re-arrange the sales offices. Once a month, take your sales team on a field trip to visit a customer, let the customer sell your team on your products/services.

Find Creative Dust: Read a book on creativity and share it with your team. The truly great salespeople are the most creative and it is true that creativity can be learned! As a sales manager, creative sales strategies will push you over your quota-get your entire team into a creativity fix.

Become an SOB: That is a Student of the Business. Invest in sales management training, books, DVD’s. Create your own network of other sales managers where you can discuss ideas, learn what is working for others and explore new sales management concepts. Push yourself to become a professional in 2017, consider visiting other offices and view how their sales managers run their sales teams. At our website you will find free videos on hiring and training salespeople and other articles I have written on sales management, you might also go back and skim through our blog to look for other ideas.

While these are just a few ideas, I would enjoy reading your reactions or other recipes for success below. As a team of readers, let’s build up a complete for each as we work to make 2017 a feast we will always remember.

07 Jun 16:05

If Your Company Isn’t Good at Analytics, It’s Not Ready for AI

by Nick Harrison
Jun17-07-118141740

Management teams often assume they can leapfrog best practices for basic data analytics by going directly to adopting artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies.  But companies that rush into sophisticated artificial intelligence before reaching a critical mass of automated processes and structured analytics can end up paralyzed. They can become saddled with expensive start-up partnerships, impenetrable black-box systems, cumbersome cloud computational clusters, and open-source toolkits without programmers to write code for them.

By contrast, companies with strong basic analytics — such as sales data and market trends — make breakthroughs in complex and critical areas after layering in artificial intelligence. For example, one telecommunications company we worked with can now predict with 75 times more accuracy whether its customers are about to bolt using machine learning. But the company could only achieve this because it had already automated the processes that made it possible to contact customers quickly and understood their preferences by using more standard analytical techniques.

So how can companies tell if they are really ready for AI and other advanced technologies?

Automating basic processes

First, managers should ask themselves if they have automated processes in problem areas that cost significant money and slow down operations. Companies need to automate repetitive processes involving substantial amounts of data — especially in areas where intelligence from analytics or speed would be an advantage.  Without automating such data feeds first, companies will discover their new AI systems are reaching the wrong conclusions because they are analyzing out-of-date data. For example, online retailers can adjust product prices daily because they have automated the collection of competitors’ prices. But those that still manually check what rivals are charging can require as much as a week to gather the same information. As a result, as one retailer discovered, they can end up with price adjustments perpetually running behind the competition even if they introduce AI because their data is obsolete.

Insight Center

Without basic automation, strategic visions of solving complex problems at the touch of a button remain elusive. Take fund managers. While the profession is a great candidate for artificial intelligence, many managers spend several weeks manually pulling together data and checking for human errors introduced through reams of excel spreadsheets. This makes them far from ready for artificial intelligence to predict the next risk to client investment portfolios or to model alternative scenarios in real-time.

Meanwhile, companies that automate basic data manipulation processes can be proactive. With automated pricing engines, insurers and banks can roll out new offers as fast as online competitors. One traditional insurer, for instance, shifted from updating its quotes every several days to every 15 minutes by simply automating the processes that collect benchmark pricing data. A utility company made its service more competitive by offering customized, real-time pricing and special deals based on automated smart meter readings instead of semi-annual in-person visits to homes.

Structured data analytics

Once processes critical to achieving an efficiency or goal are automated, managers need to develop structured analytics as well as centralize data processes so that the way data is collected is standardized and can be entered only once.

With more centralized information architectures, all systems refer back to the primary “source of truth,” updates propagate to the entire system, and decisions reflect a single view of a customer or issue. A set of structured analytics provides retail category managers, for instance, with a complete picture of historic customer data; shows them which products were popular with which customers; what sold where; which products customers switched between; and to which they remained loyal.

Armed with this information, managers can then allocate products better, and, see why choices are made. By understanding the drivers behind customer decisions, managers can also have much richer conversations about category management with their suppliers — such as explaining that very similar products will be removed to make space for more unique alternatives.

Trying out AI

After these standard structured analytics are integrated with artificial intelligence, it’s possible to comprehensively predict, explain, and prescribe customer behavior. In the earlier telecommunications company example, managers understood customer characteristics. But they needed artificial intelligence to analyze the wide set of data collected to predict if customers were at risk of leaving. After machine learning techniques identified the customers who presented a “churn risk,” managers then went back to their structured analytics to determine the best way to keep them — and use automated processes to get an appropriate retention offer out fast.

Artificial intelligence systems make a huge difference when unstructured data such as social media, call center notes, images, or open-ended surveys are also required to reach a judgment. The reason Amazon, for instance, can recommend products to people before they even know they want them is because, using machine learning techniques, it can now layer in unstructured data on top of its strong, centralized collection of structured analytics like customers’ payment details, addresses, and product histories.

AI also helps with decisions not based on historic performance. Retailers with strong structured analytics in place can figure out how best to distribute products based on how they are selling. But it takes machine learning techniques to predict how products not yet available for sale will do — partly because no structured data is available.

Finally, artificial intelligence systems can make more accurate forecasts based on disparate data sets. Fund managers with a strong base of automated and structured data analytics are predicting with greater accuracy how stocks will perform by applying AI to data sets involving everything from weather data to counting cars in different locations to analyzing supply chains. Some data pioneers are even starting to figure out if companies will gain or lose ground using artificial intelligence systems’ analyses of consumer sentiment data from unrelated social media feeds.

Companies are just beginning to discover the many different ways that AI technologies can potentially reinvent businesses. But one thing is already clear: they must invest time and money to be prepared with sufficiently automated and structured data analytics in order to take full advantage of the new technologies. Like it or not, you can’t afford to skip the basics.

07 Jun 16:04

You Should Be Using AdRoll to Retarget Your B2B Customers

by Chloe Jung

geralt / Pixabay

Retargeting has earned a bad rep. Most people associate it with getting stalked around the internet by a consumer product. They never intended to buy it or already bought it three weeks ago. I was looking at that Harry Styles doll as a joke okay? I was never going to buy 3…

But don’t write it off. B2B retargeting can be an effective addition to your full-funnel advertising strategy. You can reach prospects you thought you had lost and find new customers too. It’s worth a shot. Lately, Adroll has been my highest converting platform across all of my accounts.

Retargeting requires a thoughtful, deliberate, unique strategy. It’s not as simple as mimicking your Twitter campaign strategy on a new platform. And that strategy differs based on what kind of AdRoll campaign you’re doing. Let’s go one inch deeper on each of these B2B retargeting strategies.

Convert warm leads with URL segmenting

When to use it

Your site is already getting a lot of traffic. It might be organic, paid (driven through AdWords, Twitter, Facebook, and other channels), or a mix. Some of your visitors convert, but most leave. You want to bring them back for another interaction and opportunity to convert.

How to use it

With URL segmenting you can serve ads to unique subsets of your audience based on their behaviour. For a Product X retargeting campaign, choose URLs that indicate a visitor is interested in X (product page, any blog post or case study related to it, the pricing page, etc). The more pages they’re visiting, the warmer they are.

What to say

The user has already had a first, second, or even third interaction with Product X. They may have seen ads. They have been to Product X-related pages on your site. This history is why it’s important to avoid repeating messaging from other campaigns. They’re already warmed up. You know they’re more interested than the average prospect. Hit them with an offer, mention a game-changing feature or benefit, or invite an action like a demo or trial.

Reach existing customers or prospects with CRM segmenting

When to use it

You have an email list of at least 100 contacts. They have either purchased from you before or have opted in through a webinar, newsletter, tradeshow booth, or other means. They’re classified as very high potential prospects.

How to use it

Take advantage of AdRoll’s CRM data onboarding tool by uploading your email list. Make sure you build in some lead time. AdRoll spends up to 7 days matching these contacts across the web using cookie technology.

What to say

You’re already in a relationship with this user, so don’t treat it like a first date. Build off of your history with this contact and use your second or third layer of messaging. How did you get their email? Answer that question and you have a starting point for crafting a more personalized message than what you’re serving up to general audiences through other channels.

Reach new, high potential customers with Prospecting

AdRoll Prospecting is a new feature that isn’t rolled out to all advertisers yet. But be sure to join the waitlist because it has been a high converter in our experience.

When to use it

You have an existing customer base, but you want more! AdRoll’s prospecting tool builds the top of your funnel with new leads that are very similar to those that have already converted.

How to use it

When you opt in to AdRoll Prospecting, you’re joining a community of advertisers pooling data. When you have a model that maps behaviour to intent to conversion, there’s no guess work. You aren’t setting your own demographic targeting or URL segmenting. We’re using machine learning algorithms to find more people like your existing customers.

What to say

This audience is similar to your CRM and URL segmenting audiences, but you should assume you’ve never met before. Treat these prospects as a high potential new audience and serve them introductory messaging.

07 Jun 16:04

How to Boost Your Thought Leadership Strategy with Facebook Live

by Wendy Marx

How to Boost Your Thought Leadership Strategy with Facebook Live

A successful thought leadership strategy needs to stay on top of new tools as they become available. Facebook Live is such a tool. It’s like the newest kid on the playground — and while some have welcomed him with open arms, others are more skeptical, and hold him at a distance.

If you are serious about thought leadership, though, Facebook Live needs to be part of your repertoire. Read on to find out why and the key ways to make it work for you.

Hubspot’s latest State of Inbound report reveals that Facebook Live is poised to take off. 46% of those polled said that they plan to incorporate Facebook video into their marketing strategy in the coming year.

Yet, video was also cited in Hubspot’s report as being a top challenge that marketers are still figuring out. Many see the benefits of using video, but are nervous about how to begin, or even wonder if it’s a good fit for their company.

That’s what we’re here to discuss. But first…

Why is Facebook Live So Important to Your B2B Marketing Plan?

Video has proved to be an incredible marketing dynamo for many companies. On average, one third of online activity is spent watching videos! That’s quite an impressive amount you could miss by not using video.

Add to that the fact that 90% of users said that watching a video was helpful in their decision process, and 50% of executives look for more information after watching a video on a product or service.

Video is a clear winner.

But let’s take it a step further. Combine video’s powerful impact with Facebook’s audience of 1.86 billion average active monthly users…what do you get? A perfect cocktail for success. While platforms like Youtube have live video capabilities, none can match Facebook’s reach.

 

Now let’s see how you can put that power and reach to work for your thought leadership goals.

While platforms like Youtube have live video capabilities, none can match Facebook’s reach

7 Ingenious Ways to Put Facebook Live to Work for Your Thought Leadership Strategy

1. Interview an Industry Expert

Try to score an interview with an expert in your field, a well-known researcher, or someone else that fits your industry and goals. This kind of interview is very popular in the world of Facebook Live.

Interviews have the potential to widen your audience, and bring others to your brand. Whether it’s the subject matter or the popularity of the interviewee, a live video can attract more than just your day-to-day followers.

Get the word out well ahead of time on social media. Use the expert’s name in your description to reach their audience. Encourage your interviewee to share the live video details with his or her followers. This kind of publicity can attract a wider audience to your brand, and your other content.

During the interview, encourage your audience to ask question, and keep that kind of engagement going throughout the video.

Live interviews can widen your audience, and bring others to your brand

 

2. Create a New Format for FAQs

Every company has frequently asked questions. Why make these into a long and torturous reading experience, when you can cover these same points live? The bonus, too, is that people will have the opportunity to ask auxiliary questions, and you’ll be able to deliver more thorough answers.

This can be especially helpful if there are changes to your company, and you need to quickly address tthis and your customers’ and prospects’ concerns.

3. Go Live with a Webinar

Webinars are an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and expertise that sets you apart as a thought leader. Facebook Live makes it even more accessible and engaging. Your audience gets to see you in person, and ask questions. It makes it more like a real classroom experience than ever before.

Doing a webinar live offers more opportunity for audience participation than pre-recorded webinars. Such an authentic experience can boost your thought leadership credentials exponentially.

As an added bonus, you can offer to stick around after the webinar is over to answer any final questions people have. This kind of extra-mile offering is what sets thought leaders apart.

4. Feature Your New Product Launch

In the past, product launches were exclusive, and largely depended on the venue. Facebook Live opens this experience to more individuals who perhaps did not have the circumstances to attend in person, but who can still share in the excitement of the launch.

Make the experience worth it for your live audience. This goes beyond setting up a live stream in the back of a venue. Make your live audience feel like VIP members from the comfort of their computer. Show off your new product — up, close, and personal — and show your audience what it can do.

Make your live audience feel like VIP members from the comfort of their couch

5. Introduce Your Team

From executives to employees, introducing your team can enhance your brand’s image. This should not be all about your CEO — although he or she should be included. Let people get to know the people behind the company. Bring those faceless workers into the spotlight, and show how they fit into your company’s culture and values.

This will help attract a more diverse audience to your company. Your employees are what humanizes your company and make it special. Showcasing your employees will help attract potential talent to work for your company.

Make this a regular piece — perhaps featuring one person a month. Then if some of your employees appear in future live sessions, your audience will already feel like they know them.

6. Educate Your Customers

Help your customers learn how to use your product. While manuals and blog posts can do a thorough job explaining this, videos have a more powerful and personal impact. The human brain processes images and video substantially faster than text — use that to your advantage!

Have a series of live videos that address the basic functions of your product, and invite your audience to ask questions as you go. As ssues and problems arise, live video is a great tool to troubleshoot.

Be sure to go beyond the basics. Especially in the B2B space, audiences are typically pretty tech savvy. Show them various “expert” features of your product that will improve their efficiency and make their jobs easier.

7. Offer a Content Upgrade

Whatever topic you decide to cover in your live video, the marketing opportunity doesn’t have to be over when the camera turns off. Point people to a content upgrade — an eBook, case study, or white paper — that follows that same topic in more depth.

This is an excellent opportunity to keep people on your content, and to introduce them to additional thought leadership material. The more they get to see your expertise in action, and the wide range of content you offer, the more ilikely they will perceive you to be a thought leader.

And if you gate your content upgrade, those “one-time” visitors can become solid leads.

Before You Go Live…

Get the word out on social media and other outlets. Make sure people know well in advance what topic you will be covering, and when. You could even send out an email if you think the topic will interest certain people.

Be prepared. Preparation is key to live streaming video. Because you can’t go back and edit out mistakes, you need to have all your bases covered before that camera turns on. Have all the materials you will need within arm’s reach. If you interview someone, make sure that person knows what kinds of questions you will ask — without it being too “rehearsed.”

Don’t Use a Script. I know, you want to be thoroughly prepared — but a script will just take away the value that a live video is supposed to offer. There’s a reason people want to watch you live. They want to see something authentic, including any hiccups that come up. Use a basic outline that will remind you of your main points, but won’t tie you down.

Engage. One of the best things about Facebook Live is the audience participation. Keep an eye on the comments, and interact with them. Answer questions. Acknowledge r remarks. This engagement is what sets this platform apart from YouTube, and makes it a home-run.

Post the Video After. No matter how good you are at getting the word out prior to your live video, there will be those that miss it or were busy at that time. Make it available on your social media networks after the camera is done rolling. Create a blog post that highlights the key points you discussed, and even embed the video within your site.

A Few Examples of Facebook Live in Action…

1. AWeber

Take this example from AWeber, a software company specializing in email marketing for businesses. AWeber used this live video to answer a customer’s question, and go beyond the question to really educate its audience. Right from the beginning, listeners are encouraged to submit questions in the feed that they will address at the end. It’s not scripted or dull, and the back and forth between the two presenters gives it a nice conversational quality.

2. General Electric

GE is a great example of using Facebook Live to connect with its audience and humanize a brand. This past year the company shot live video from Drone Week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to introduce its team members and talk about key developments in theicompany. Filming on-site at live stream.

3. Hubspot

Hubspot, the leading authority on inbound marketing, doesn’t just talk about Facebook Live — it gets right into the action and show us how it’s done. In this Live video, Hubspot leverages a must-see interview with Canva co-founder, Cliff Obrecht — an expert within the content marketing industry. They delve into how Canva came to be, and other special anecdotes that an audience wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. The laid-back atmosphere and conversational tone makes this video something special.

Key Points to Remember…

  • Facebook Live combines the power of video with the reach of Facebook.
  • A live interview with an expert in your industry can introduce a wider audience to your brand.
  • Humanize your brand by introducing members of your team in a live streaming session.
  • Educate your audience with live webinars or an FAQ session where your audience can ask live questions as you go.

Facebook Live has the potential to be a huge boon to your thought leadership strategy, if you let it. Companies are continually creating new ways to use Facebook Live and seeing wild results for their efforts. If you haven’t already, you need to add this to your tool set. We promise, it’s not as scary as it may seem.

How do you like to use Facebook Live in your B2B marketing plan?

07 Jun 16:02

Being Transparent About Your Long Term Strategy

by Fred Wilson

Elon Musk famously posted Tesla’s long term strategy in 2006 and ended the post with “don’t tell anyone.” That has led may entrepreneurs around the world to follow suit and be transparent about what they are up to and why. I think its a great practice for companies to follow. It helps the outside world understand your company and it helps with recruiting as potential employees can better decide which companies they want to work for and why.

Our portfolio Coinbase has been doing that for a while now and Founder/CEO Brian Armstrong just posted the latest version of their “secret master plan” to use Elon’s words.

You should go read the post as I think it does a nice job of explaining where they have been and where they are going. But if you want the quick summary, here are the four steps:

  1. First, we will make it easy for consumers to invest in digital currency by building a retail exchange (Coinbase). The differentiators for this product are trust (security, compliance, etc) and ease of use (access to convenient payment methods, intuitive interface, etc). This will allow more people to own digital currency, especially non-technical people.
  2. Second, we will enable professional traders and institutions to trade digital currency (GDAX). This will support the investment use case in step one, but also scale it by driving larger trading volumes. More liquidity in the markets will reduce volatility of the underlying assets, which is important to enabling the payment network. The differentiator for this product will also be trust (security, compliance, etc) to encourage larger, traditional investors to enter the market.
  3. Third, we will create a mass market consumer interface for people to start getting value from the payment network (Token). Now that a critical mass of early users have been drawn in by the investment use case, the industry is ready for its “Netscape moment”. This product will make it dramatically easier for consumers to use digital currency as a payment network, and for developers to build applications that utilize the payment network.
  4. Fourth, by lowering the barrier to create new digital currency applications, we’ll see an explosion in the number of ideas tried. We’ll invest in, partner with, or build a number of new applications in this space, including replacements for many of the services people use in finance 1.0. Some examples include merchant processing, remittance, loans, fundraising, venture capital, escrow, credit scores, and more.

If you have a secret master plan for your company, think about posting it publicly. I think it will do a lot more good than bad for you and your company.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Marz Crystal — June 15, 2017
If You See Something, Say Something: My New Mantra on Working in Tech

Nick Grossman — June 15, 2017
For web platforms: cryptocurrency vs. dollars?

07 Jun 16:02

Off the hook with Milton Friedman

by Seth Godin

Nearly fifty years ago, Milton Friedman published a polemic, an article that altered the way many people think about corporations and their role in society. Countless writers have explained why it's poorly reasoned, dangerous and wrong. (Including business school deans, Harvard Business Review and Fortune).

The simple message of the simple article was: “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits..."

Friedman does add a parenthetical, "so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud,” but it's clear that his emphasis is on the first part.

Businesses, he argues, should show no corporate responsibility, do nothing to further the goals of an ethical society, do nothing to improve the lives of customers, employees or bystanders—unless these actions coincidentally maximize profits.

An interesting question that most people haven't focused on: why did this dangerous idea catch on and stick around so long?

Here it is 2017, and the Chairman of one of the largest pharma companies in the country is gleefully telling patients and the FDA to live with the costs of his profit seeking, at the same time he pays his CEO more than $95 million a year. Because he can, and, like many who lucked into top jobs at big companies, because his excuse is simple: He's just doing his job.

If the idea is so wrong, if it leads to an erosion of the social contract and the deaths of innocent kids, why are we still discussing it?

Because it's simple, because it diminishes responsibility, and because it comes with prizes and warm chocolate cookies for those in charge.

The simplicity of the argument matches up with its mendacity. There's no need to worry about nuance, no need to lose sleep over choices, no endless laundry list of social ills to worry about. Just make more profit.

Do this, get that.

A simple compass, a north star, a direction to go that absolves the employee/boss of responsibility for anything complicated or nuanced.

People love mechanical simplicity, especially when it benefits them.

The official rules of baseball are more than 250 pages long. Why? Because working the system, cutting corners and winning at all costs long ago replaced playing by the spirit of the game. Since the league can't count on people to act like people acting on behalf of the community, they have to create ever more rules to keep the system in check.

The problem is far worse in a supposed free market. When humans stop acting like humans and instead indicate that they have no choice but to seek every short-term benefit and cut every possible corner, we can no longer trust each other to act responsibly.

Off the hook feels like a simple way out. "I'm just doing my job, and not thinking hard about the side effects (or to be more accurate, the effects) of my actions. Not only that, but one of the things that's part of my job is lobbying to have fewer rules. Because working the refs is good business. And because everyone is doing it, I have no choice but to do it too."

Of course, it's difficult for us to solely blame poor Milton. Lots of us have bad ideas, I've certainly had plenty. No, we need to blame ourselves for letting selfish corporate officers get away with this reasoning. When we go to work, or partner with, or buy stock in a company that signs up for Milton reasoning, we're rewarding people who have long ago stopped acting like people.

Profits are fine, they enable the investment we need to produce value. But almost nothing benefits from being the only thing we seek, and the pursuit of profit at the expense of our humanity is too high a price to pay.

Here's a different version: A business is a construct, an association of human beings combining capital and labor to make something. That business has precisely the same social responsibilities as the people that it consists of. The responsibility to play fairly, to see the long-term impacts of its actions and to create value for all those it engages with.

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07 Jun 16:02

Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality

by Avinash Kaushik

Life is short.

It is time to point out an ugly truth, and to be the brave person that you are, the intelligent rational assessor of reality that you are, and kill all the organic social media activity by your company.

All of it.

Seems radical, but let’s take it one step at a time.

To give you a sense of the depth and breadth of ideas I’ll cover today, here are the sections in this post:

I urge you to have an open mind. My plan is to challenge your critical thinking skills, and share lessons that will apply broadly across the professional effort you put day in and day out. Most of all, I’m excited to frame an important problem, and present solutions that will transform an important part of your marketing strategy.

Let’s go!

The Promise of Marketing Utopia. 

I hate pimping (what marketing has come to be). I adore building meaningful relationships – the kind of long-term connections where a brand truly gives a f about their customers, and gives something of value in exchange for their attention. I LOVE brands that can pull this off, and support them with my un-asked-for evangelism and precious $$$s.

Hence, you can imagine how gosh darn excited I was at the advent of Facebook and Twitter (first real social networks). There were a billion people there, spending a meaningful amount of time on these wonderful platforms. Excitedly, brands could have a presence (a "page") where they could contribute meaningful updates (info-snacks) in order to be a part of the organic conversations people were already having by the tens of millions.

Daily meaningful brand connections would be converted into brand familiarity, shifts in brand perception, feeding brand loyalty. #orgasmic

If you were a travel company, meaningful would now translate into helping feed wanderlust. The company could contribute info-snacks about where people should go, exposing the coolest places in the world, helping people travel better via tips, pictures, videos… you know… communicating travel love. The one thing a travel company would have in common with travel customers. The most imaginative travel marketers could even extend this opportunity to helping connect the purpose of their existence, selling tickets and hotel rooms, to helping people create moments of happy by crafting day/s of escape from the rough and tumble of life.

Glorious, right? If you work at Expedia or Cathay Pacific, does that not make you want to come to work and, for at least a part of your employment, create meaning? How rare is that!

If you were Cisco, meaningful would mean sharing info-snacks whose entire purpose could be to get Engineers promoted. Share tips, ideas, schematics, usage shortcuts, creative implementations, solutions to top problems that hold Engineers back… you know… understanding your audience deeply and give them something of value in exchange for their attention. The most imaginative B2B marketers could even figure out how to be a part of solving some of the deepest entrenched problems in the industry (STEM education, equal opportunity, + +) and in turn add an entire value-system to their brands.

Amazing, right?

Marketing based on something real, rather than a coupon or company brochure.

The Broken Promise of Marketing Utopia, Implications. 

None of the above transpired on Social platforms.

Businesses of all types, including Google (SMB, Main), got on amazing platforms like Facebook (and Weibo, Instagram, Pintrest etc.) and started pimping. All that their collective imagination could manifest in a Utopia-possible environment was: LOOK ME I AM SO PRETTY!! BUY NOW!!!

Stuff that is a turn off.

Consider the Google’s first FB page above, it is a complete disaster with not a single post in the last six months being of even five seconds of value to any small business. That page, or the main one, is not an overt Buy Now, but if you think critically like the tough Marketer I want you to be you’ll have a hard time finding a single post that’s solving for Google’s human customers. Almost every single one is pimping Google (or pimping random research Google has commissioned – to pimp Google!). The non-value is so transparent, yet they post every single day something that basically is solving for Google (although only God knows what that is). If someone bothers to interact with the post, the posted comment is a spam or totally useless. Yet. They keep posting. Polluting utopia.

Google is not unique in not understanding the promise, checkout your company’s FB page.

This strategy by businesses lead to what I now call the Zuck Death Spiral. ZDS.

Real humans on Social platforms quickly got turned off by these low-grade Social contributions/posts by companies. That meant humans (us!) refused to engage with them. This was noticed by Team Zuck, who started to slowly turn down the presence of company posts in User feeds. This lead to less Reach for brands. Which in turn lead to even fewer customer interactions for content posted by brands. Which was duly noted once more by Team Zuck. Which… you know where this is going, tightened the screws on organic Reach even more. And, here we are in a barren desert for brands on FB.

Most brands get less than 1% Reach via their organic contributions on social platforms. And, less than 1% engagement of any kind from that less than 1% reached (identified using the best social media metrics: Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate).

ZDS is solving for FB, as FB should, and it is an attempt to solve for FB’s users.

So… If all you can do is overtly or covertly pimp… And, pimping is not cheap (that Google page, and your company’s page, has pictures, videos, an agency deployed, internal company employees with a “social media execution checklist”, senior leadership time committed, and more)… And, all it does is get you 1% Reach, max, with almost no engagement… Why do you still have an active (organic) social media effort?

Why is this reality not smacking some sense into your marketing strategy?

The Broken Promise of Marketing Utopia: Examples. 

Is it difficult to check if your brand is caught up in the Zuck Death Spiral? No.

Do you have access to any data to measure how deeply non-impactful your organic Social Media efforts are? OMG, yes.

Everything you need, data and information, to do an audit is public.

All you have to do is visit your company’s Facebook page (or Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. presence).

Let me show you what to look for. Let’s start with Expedia. They have 6.4 million Likes as of today. Go look at any post on the page if you are an Expedia employee.

expedia_facebook

First thing you’ll look at is the Applause Rate (likes, other emotions, you’ll see it right under the photo). That number is 75. Divide that by 6,462,977 (potential audience size today).

0.00113%. That’s a painful stab in your heart.

Next Conversation Rate (comments, you’ll see a total at the end of your posts). 7. Divide that by 6,462,977. A sad 0.00011%.

Finally, my favorite sign that you truly added value to a human rather than pimp, Amplification Rate (shares). 3/6,462,977. At this point you are weeping with me: 0.00005%.

To give you some context as to how insanely lame these numbers are, Expedia.com received 59,400,000 Visits in May 2017. This post accomplished 75+7+3. More people walk into the Expedia lobby in Bellevue, WA, every second of every minute.

You might be screaming that is not fair Avinash, the Zuck Death Spiral ensures that a tiny fraction of 6,462,977 are seeing Expedia’s posts! Very fair point. But, is the Social Media Budget at Expedia not justified based on the potential from 6,462,977? Would Expedia commit it’s multi-million-dollar budget to Social Media based on the potential to engage 75+7+3 people on Planet Earth?

One final point. Brand destruction.

Pretty much every single comment on pretty much every single Expedia post is a complaint about how horrible Expedia is (from personal experience I know this is not true). If your Facebook presence is solely to inspire people (see Trish Sayler above) to create clever rhymes about how bad you are… Why are you on Social Media?

Ignore the active smearing of the Expedia brand, let’s go back to data: Is it worth have 75 | 7 | 3 as the value delivered from an organic Social Media strategy for a company with 54,900,000 Visits?

My answer is an emphatic no. Expedia should immediately cease 100% of its organic Social activity.

1/100th of the Social Media budget could be spent on any other random digital strategy to get 75+7+3, and have zero brand destruction!

Oh. And while I’m focusing on Facebook for the sake of simplicity, everything in this post applies to all other Social Media channels. The Utopia failures. The lack of imagination. The small numbers. The uselessness.

Here for example is a post on Twitter by Expedia:

expedia_twitter

The numbers: 9 | 2 | 2. Divided by 391,000 (followers).

You can do the math and assess dent in the universe this content contribution from Expedia is making.

Almost nothing. Technically, perhaps less than nothing.

I hate making recommendations based on outliers, please know that Expedia is the norm. Hence, the title of this blog post.

Here’s a B2B example, a company I think well of… Cisco.

cisco_facebook

Go through the same analysis.

Your numbers are 31 | 1 | 3. Divided by 845,921.

Would you spend a single hard-earned Cisco router and switches dollar to get this as the return from a multi-million dollar Social Media budget?

Like my company, your company, and Expedia, Cisco gets no value from their organic Social Media efforts. Technically, Cisco is getting negative returns once you account for the people, process, tools, agency, leadership investments.

Let’s switch gears and look at a B2C company with a massively positive opportunity to leverage the word Social in every way on these platforms… Chick-fil-A.

chick-fil-a_facebook

Better numbers, as you might expect.

1k | 89 | 73. Divided by 7,775,155.

Consider it. Chick-fil-A could buy the most remnant TV inventory on a channel least watched by humans during the middle of the night and get better Reach. And they can also measure how many of them walked into a Chick-fil-A in the next 12 hours.

Does the above number justify custom videos, images, active posting by Click-fil-A on Facebook?

One final example to bring this home.

ProjectManager.com is a lovely tool. It is wonderful that they use folks like Jennifer Bridges, Susanne Madsen and others to create very helpful Project Management videos on YouTube. It seems they are a medium-sized business.

Here’s their Facebook page:

project_manager_facebook

69 | 0 | 25. Divided by 62,951.

Pound for pound, better performance than all three (four including Google) companies above. Shame on them.

Still. Are the resulting Applause Rate, Conversation Rate and Amplification Rate enough for a smaller business to use it’s precious marketing dollars on this Social Media strategy/impact?

Consider this as well for all brands… There is no native discovery model on these Social channels. Your content will live for 20 minutes and then it is dead. Not just because of ZDS, but also because there is no Search behavior by users or a method that would deliver Serendipitous Discovery of content you post.

Unlike say on YouTube, or your Blog, where your Subscribers will see the content right away, and then through Bing and Yandex and YouTube itself people will find your content when relevant and keep viewing it. Your content there has a live beyond 20 minutes.

Win Big: Stop Posting Content for Organic Reach On Social Channels. 

Given the numbers above, and be sure to check any other Social Media channel your company is actively investing in, I hope you have the input you need to apply your critical thinking skills.

Let me give you one final push: You have better alternatives to drive short and long-term Profitability for your company (rather than investing in organic Social Media).

Here’s an example.

I write an insightful newsletter with the singular aim of improving your salary. The Marketing < > Analytics Intersect. You should sign up. It is a companion to this blog, I write once a week there and once a month here.

One year into it’s existence, TMAI has 21,246 Subscribers.

Measuring Open Rates for email is difficult (the tiny pixel ESPs use to track opens are not executed by default for most email programs). Even with that flaw in reporting, TMAI has Open Rates of around 9,000 (9,895 precisely for the last one).  Around 1,000 people (912 for the last one) take an action that is of value to me.

A random person, me, can get 9,000 opens of my content, at least a thousand active engagements with my brand whenever I want. I have over 1,000,000 Social Media followers across the five platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram). I can’t even get 1/100th the impact.

My simple unsexy email newsletter strategy crushes the on paper potential of one million Social Media followers.

And, beyond the impact… I also directly own the relationships with my 21,246 Subscribers, I own the data, the relationship exists on my platform, and I can use it as creatively I want to use it with no limitation on type of content (text or video or dancing penguin gifs).

Why should your company be on Social Media 5x per day to get a lousy 20 interactions with your brand? How is that acceptable ROI from your investment in a 5 person Social Media team, a Social Media Agency, a Social Media analytics tool, a Social Media auto-posting tool and more?

Could you not get 100x ROI from the 0.25 person that's running your email newsletter?

Could you not just take all that Team, Agency, Tool, money, throw it into AdWords or AOL Display Ads and not get massively higher ROI, of any kind, in 10 minutes?

Could you not get better ROI taking all that money and buying remnant inventory on your local Television channel?

Could you not get better ROI if you just took that money and bought free lunch for the employees in your building every other day?

OMG, you most definitely can.

So. Why are you on Social Media?

Is it fun to shout in a vacuum?

Why does it not feel dirty to go waste your shareholder's money?

Stop it then.

Welcome to the world of higher standards for impact delivered. Feel cleaner and prouder coming to work every day as a Marketer/CMO.

Is the Huge Audience on Social Media Platforms Completely Useless? 

NO!

There are a couple of billion people on Facebook (and billions or hundreds of millions on other Social channels). From an advertising perspective, that’s still an audience that might be of value to your business.

Kill your organic Social strategy completely, switch to a paid Social Media strategy.

Buy advertising from Facebook. I’ll make it easy, click this link!

Buy advertising from Twitter. From Snapchat. LinkedIn. Oh and WeChat and Line.

This simple switch from the fuzzy Organic goals to concrete Paid goals will give the one thing your Social Media Marketing strategy was missing: Purpose.

It is now easy to define why the heck are you spending money on Social Media? To drive short and medium-term brand and performance outcomes.

Fabulous.

Set aside the useless metrics like Impressions and 3-second Video Views. Set aside hard to judge and equally useless Like and Follow counts. Measure the hard stuff that you can show a direct line to company profit.

Define a purpose for the money you are spending.

For the clients I’ve worked with across the world, expressed behavior of the users suggests that the largest cluster of intent is See. There is a little bit of Think and a little bit of Care. (This is why Social marketing strategies that target Do intent yield extremely poor results.)

[Bonus Read: See-Think-Do-Care Business Framework]

If the purpose is to execute See and Care intent marketing strategies (in the old world sometimes incompletely referred to as brand marketing), you can use the following amongst my favorite metrics to deliver accountability:

1. Unaided Brand Recall
2. Likelihood to Recommend
3. Lift in Purchase Intent
4. Shift in Brand Perception (negative to neutral, neutral to positive, positive to proactive evangelism)
5. Lifetime Value

Humans have measured these using primary and secondary research methods for 3,500 years. Quite easy to do the same for your newly focused paid Social advertising efforts.

[Bonus Read: Brand Measurement: Analytics & Metrics for Branding Campaigns]

If on the other hand the purpose of your paid Social advertising is to target Think and/or Do intent, you should measure the impact using the following across your digital – and pan-digital presence:

1. Recency & Frequency
2. Loyalty
3. Task Completion Rate
4. Assisted Conversions
5. Macro-Outcomes Rate
6. Economic Value

We have measured these for a long time on the web. You can use your quantitative tools to measure most of these (Google Analytics, Adobe, True Social Metrics). And. You can measure these for your ecommerce, non-ecommerce, B2B, B2C, pure content, non-profit, or whatever else kind of delicious business you are running.

Now, you’ll hold your agency and employees accountable for delivering business profitability for your Social efforts just as you do for any other advertising effort – Search or TV or Email.

Just as you would do in all those other cases, do more paid Social advertising if the metrics show a business impact and improve/eliminate your paid Social efforts if they don’t.

It will mean a different Social content strategy, different targeting strategy (leveraging rich Social signals), and a different landing page/app strategy. Proper end-to-end user and business optimization. Nirvana, delivered by that magical word… Purpose.

The path to your salary and job promotion is also now crystal-clear. Right?

Is the Idea of Marketing Utopia Permanently Dead? 

I’ve seen the near-future, and I believe we’ll get to Utopia Marketing.

The fact that companies don’t know how to be human, how to take even 20% of their people plus budget and invest optimally in understanding humans and deliver something of value to those humans is deeply heartbreaking.

Yes, I can blame the short-term quarterly focus of the CMOs and the SELL, SELL, SELL MORE incentives they create for you to earn your bonus. But still, how heartbreaking is it that not even 1% of us could convince our CMOs to allow us to do what Social was actually good at? How sad is it that we have such little influence? I blame us.

Still. I am optimistic that Marketing Utopia, as I’ve imagined it at the top of this post, is not dead. I think the solution will be to get rid of the humans from the process!

What? Human marketing by getting rid of humans?

Yes. Hear me out.

I think AI/Machine Learning will solve this problem.

Today, humans and their limited ability to process data, and the finite incentives in place, are the reason we burned Utopia to the ground. We simply can’t process billions of signals across tens of millions of touch points across millions of people, and figure out the best message at every moment and its short, medium, and long-term business value.

Current advances in ML already give me hope that algorithms will understand intent a billion trillion times better than your current employees AND these algorithms will have the inherent capabilities to process billions of data points to truly understand complex patterns of user behavior and a robust understanding across all that to know exactly what delivers business profit.

Companies can then take the equivalent of their Brand and Social budgets and allow smarter algorithms to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time across all clusters of intent. All the while, optimizing for long-term business profitability.

It will help that Machine Learning is not embolden to trivial company politics. :)

[Bonus Read: Artificial Intelligence: Implications On Marketing, Analytics, And You]

Bottom-line.

While I’m recommending you stop doing something, hearing no is not super-inspiring, I hope you’ll see that my goal is help you think more critically about where you spend your personal time and your company’s money.

I also hope you’ll see how the shift in strategy I’m recommending brings Social in line with your other advertising efforts, allowing for a ton more focus on your Social efforts and a billion times more accountability.

Finally, I hope you feel optimistic that around the horizon lurk technological solutions that will allow for the manifestation of the beautiful humanity that exists in your company (even if we have to take human employees out of the equation to get there – don’t worry, they’ll still, for now, be responsible for the novel elements required).

Demand more from Social, because Social can deliver more. It just happens to be paid Social.

Oh… And if you've chosen to define your professional career as a Social Media Analyst or a Social Media Guru or a Social Media Marketer, I respectfully offer that you should rethink your strategy. You likely already see deep pressure on the possibilities in front of you, and on your compensation growth. This will only get more severe. Figure out how to expand your skill-set, and then scope of influence/impact, so that you can delete the first two words from each of those titles and retain the last one. If you are remotely good at what you do, you'll be in a recession-proof digital career. The opportunity is there, your career trajectory and compensation growth will be up and to the right.

As always, it is your turn now.

If you’ve achieved sustained success from your organic Social Media content strategy, would you please share your example? If you disagree and believe Marketers should invest in organic Social despite poor Reach, ApR, CoR, and AmR, would you please share how you see value/impact? If you’ve successfully dumped organic and pivoted to paid Social, please share stories of your victory. Are you as optimistic as I am that Machine Learning based intelligence will solve optimally for the Utopia opportunity?

I look forward to hearing your smart perspectives and cogent challenges.

Thank you.

Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality is a post from: Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik

07 Jun 16:01

4 Cold Calling Tips from the Experts

by Alex Hisaka
  • cold-calling-tips-from-experts

I’ve said it before: Cold calling is on its way out. But I am not so naïve as to think it’s going to disappear overnight. If you’re going in cold, though, you might as well make the most of it. In this post, you’ll find four insights from five experts to help you take the chill out of cold calling.

Go in With a Plan

Winging it rarely gets you far in sales. Top sales reps approach every aspect of their selling process strategically. When prospecting, you wouldn’t reach out in any capacity without putting a plan in place. It’s just as important to do that before making a call.

According to Steli Efti, founder and CEO of Close.io, “When selling on the phone, oftentimes sales reps don’t understand how to structure a call.  If you don’t have the right plan going into a sales call, it’s going to be much harder to close the deal. Every sales call, from a cold call to a closing call, should follow a pre-planned structure that is meant to optimize the likelihood of a desired result.”  

Warm Them Up

One of my biggest objections to cold calling is that it’s simply not necessary to go in cold anymore. With all the tools at your disposal and information at your fingertips, you should be able to connect in some way with a prospect before you ever pick up the phone. In fact, reaching out with value can pave the way for the prospective buyer to agree to a call. 

Dean Moothart, Director of Client Solutions at LeadG2, recommends that you “share relevant content that positions you as thought leader and then follow up. Sending your target contact an email before you call can help if it’s written well. Don’t send a generic email. Use the information you uncovered…and include links to relevant thought leadership content (blog articles, white papers, eBooks, etc.). It is even better if you are the published author of this content. This will help you position yourself as a subject matter expert in the eyes of the prospect and not just a run-of-the-mill salesperson. Who doesn’t want to talk to an expert who has experience solving their business problems?”

Make It Personal

You want to build rapport with a prospective buyer as soon as possible. To make that connection, it helps to unearth something relevant and significant as you prepare for the discussion. As Jill Konrath, sales keynote speaker and best-selling author, says, “I discovered that the only way to capture the attention of these corporate decision makers was to create a very personalized message based on in-depth research in their firm. Once I started doing this, I started setting up meetings.”

Adam Honig, co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies, suggests, “Look them up on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections. Google them to find common ground to talk about. Maybe even search their Twitter or Facebook profiles to get more background information to form a connection. Find that personal, human touch to build immediate rapport. Just hitting them up with the standard blah blah isn’t going to work.”

Get Them Talking

Outside of hearing your call go silent because the prospect has hung up on you, your biggest fear is probably hearing “no” (“No, I’m not interested,” “No, that’s not a priority for us”…) One way to avoid this is by doing more listening instead of selling. But to get prospects talking, you need to come in with an insight.

As Mark Hunter says, “The buyer never ends the discussion or hangs up on you when they’re doing the talking. You get them talking by sharing information that you think they might find interesting. Lead off by engaging them with something from a macro perspective – an industry perspective – to get them talking.”

As a modern sales professional, you never need to approach another buyer cold. For more ideas on how to thrive in the era of social selling, download our eBook,
The Post Era of the Cold Call.

07 Jun 16:01

Getting Your Business Ready for the Channel

by Jessica Baker

Channel readiness has humble beginnings in most organizations. At first it is an idea, then an initiative, then a strategy. Becoming channel-centric has far reaching implications in your business, and getting your business ready for the channel can be a confusing time in any organization.

True readiness comes from all aspects of your organization and directly effects your channel competitiveness. Every level in every department will own a piece of this readiness, and will need to be in alignment with the strategy for this to work well. How do you get “ready”? Before you go out with a channel strategy, here are some considerations to take to get you off the starting block and headed in the right direction the first time:

Adopt a “Channel First Mentality”

Even if you are just starting with partners, considering the needs of indirect partners ahead of your direct sales needs actually makes supporting partners easier. “Channel First” means that you are building everything in your company with the idea that you will also need to enable, support, train, market and transact business with a third party. It is a pervasive spirit in your organization so that all your systems and processes are partner-friendly, and designed with that end goal in mind.

It may be counterintuitive to serve the channel first, but consider this example. When building training materials on the functionality of your product, you can quite easily create them for partners, and then take a sub-set of those materials and share them with your direct organization and end users. It is infinitely harder to retrofit materials created for direct end users and use them for the channel. Starting with “Channel First” saves time and resources in the long run.

Expect Executive Support Across the Board

This is probably one of the more critical considerations – even one leader in your organization not in alignment with this strategy will upset the entire initiative. A channel-ready organization is one where the top leaderships is all 100% behind this, and prioritizes it in their daily management of the company.

I learned this lesson the hard way. A company I was working with had an executive who ran product management for a particular offering. This executive could not understand why he should be concerned about partners, and generally scoffed at any request to support partners. So when a very large, very strategic Technology Alliance Partner requested his time, well, let’s just say the meeting didn’t go very well, and that partner took the business elsewhere. One year later and that partner was doing substantial business with a competitor, and the business with the stubborn product leader is no longer the market leader.

Invest in Channel Resources

Just as you would invest in direct resources, the channel needs resources as well. Often they are similar to your direct team, but they need to be geared for the channel. Resources include everything and everyone your direct organization engages with – from people to processes. You will need to have parallel resources to support both direct and indirect channels.

Take for example, your CRM. Your direct team will use your CRM daily to interact with partners and different pieces of your business. Your partners should, too. There are some really great PRM (Partner Relationship Management) solutions out there. Investing in tools like this help your partners connect with your processes and access resources, saving your sales team from unnecessary concierge services and allowing you to realize operational scale.

Craft Your Channel Value Proposition

Your Channel Value Proposition goes beyond a product pitch. You will need to think about the needs of a partner, their clients and how this partnership helps them compete in the market. One of the key ingredients in Channel Value Propositions is support, and that generally means a Channel Account Manager (CAM) role.

It takes a special skill set to be a great CAM and you should build your teams with not only aptitude, but also attitude with regard to the challenge at hand. I’ve seen people “re-purposed” into CAM roles with little experience and it rarely ends well. Creating a channel sales organization is just like creating a direct sales organization with the added complexity of partner management.

This concept of “Channel Readiness” actually never ends; it is a constant beat in the rhythm of your business and woven into the fabric of your success. If you take these four principles and apply them to your readiness strategy, you can start the drum beating in perfect timing with the rest of your organization.

Looking for information on spinning up a channel sales program? Be sure to check out the Ultimate Field Guide to Building a Channel here.

By downloading this eBook, you are agreeing to receive periodic emails from OpenView.

The post Getting Your Business Ready for the Channel appeared first on OpenView Labs.

07 Jun 16:00

Are Companies Ignoring Their Best Source For Buyer Insights?

by Tony Zambito

Illustration by Aneeque Ahmed

In the past few years, the data analytics revolution has continued unabated in the worlds of B2B and B2C. The rise of data analytics is resulting in increased budgets and staff to account for the volume of data that can now be computed and accessed. This growth in the volume of data has spawned numerous types of data analytics services provided for marketing and sales management to deal with the ever-increasing volume of data.

Insular We Have Become

While organizations may have decreed that the purpose for all this data crunching is for customer-centricity, something else may be happening unintentionally. That is, the actual outcome is a business by data-centricity versus business by customer-centricity.

Through natural laws of inertia, companies can become insular because of data. Creating a data island unto itself that is consumed by data and exists through data only. With ever-increasing demands for access to data to support initiatives.

An outcome of insularity is organizations can develop an over-reliance on quantitative data in all aspects of a business. Creating an addictive dependency on data analytics, which in turn attempts to reduce all decisions down to an arbitrary quantitative equation. There is a degree of irony to the growing influence of data analytics. It goes something like this:

After decades of senior management making decisions on quantitative data alone, a movement began to incorporate more “voice of the customer” into decision-making at the advent of a new century. The rapid rise of data analytics is causing the opposite effect. Which is, a reinforcement of data and a doubling down on making decisions based on quantitative data alone.

This may be hard to see happening. After all, the data is supposed to be about customers. And, does that not make us customer-centric? The answer lies in whether an organization is consumed by the quantity of data as opposed to a focus on obtaining critical business, as well as, buyer insights. If an organization has become insular about data, the danger they may face is that they may focus disproportionately on the quantity of data versus the quality of business and buyer insights.

Human-Learning Versus Machine Learning

Hot buzzwords steamrolling through 2017 are Machine-Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Artificial Intelligence. Although all are not the same, the common goal is to make data “smart”. Machines with access to data can learn and this resulting learning contributes towards artificial intelligence that can carry out “smart” tasks. In B2C, this has significant value. For example, in banking, artificial intelligence can recognize patterns of consumer transaction activities and begin to anticipate whether consumers are wanting to perform a deposit, make a payment, or conduct a wire transfer.

Such an ability to learn patterns that lead to artificial intelligence can result in vastly improved customer experiences. This use of artificial intelligence can be harder to achieve in certain B2B markets. However, the impact of machine-learning in industrial settings can be significant.

What executives must think about is what gets stripped away. An over-reliance on data and even in recent developments related to machine learning and artificial intelligence can cause companies to miss the all-important social context. Losing sight of the social context in which problems, issues, goals, interactions, etc. come together to unfold a story.

Stories, including those that are filled with numbers, take place through human learning. Stories are enhanced by quantitative data. And vice-versa, quantitative data is enhanced by stories. A reliance solely on quantitative data and AI/machine learning/NLP will result in the missing out on the crucial understanding of the stories taking place.

Stories From The Best Source

Where do such stories come from? How can organizations learn about the stories taking place in the world of their customers and buyers? The answer is – directly from their customers and buyers. Stories convey what data analytics cannot. The emotions, fears, dreams, situations, and more that make up the fabric of our daily human existence.

With the increasingly over-reliance on data, organizations can get caught up on a data crunching treadmill in search of elusive buyer insights. This is creating a dilemma of sorts. As data analytics firms and services promise ongoing insights, it devalues the notion of insights itself. In a way, commoditizing the concept of insights.

Insights are not something that happens every day or after every data crunching exercise. Unfortunately, the addictive nature of quantitative analyses is setting up an unrealistic expectation that insights can be derived almost daily or weekly.

Insights come from the ability to curate stories, to connect the seemingly unrelated, and to analyze. Insights are derived from the unexpected and the not-so-obvious. It also is uncovered through new connective relationships from what has always been known. Insights then are derived from critical thinking involving human understanding.

Thus, companies will need to view insights as a human-centered process and not a data-centric process alone. To succeed at making insights truly human-centered, companies cannot ignore their best source for understanding the stories that make up the goals and aspirations of their customers and buyers. Their customers and buyers themselves.

The following buyer insights interview gives a sense of how human-centered versus data-centric alone understanding can lead to better-informed decision-making:

“I stumbled onto something by walking by our customer service center. I decided to listen in on some calls and ask questions. What became apparent was not that we had to go after other decision-makers in accounts but how was it that we can empower our existing customers to help others within their organizations. This was a subtle distinction we were not getting from all the reports we ran.”

-Vice President, Product Strategy

The Rise Of Thick Data

To accommodate the evolving data-centric world we are living in, the rise of the term Thick Data has emerged. Thick Data is the collective qualitative research of behavior associated with stories, emotions, mental models, and goals. While such qualitative research has existed for decades, the term is meant to address a shortcoming, as well as, an opportunity.

The shortcoming is that companies are beginning to realize that big data analytics alone will not give them the insights they need to inform future strategies. On the other hand, Thick Data derived qualitatively from their best source – directly from buyers, complemented by big data analytics can lead to opportunities previously unforeseen.

(Where do buyer personas fit in this emerging environment? It is important to reiterate that buyer personas are the communications platform for conveying buyer insights. And, they will only be as good as the buyer insights themselves. For example, many buyer personas are of a poor communications quality because they were built as fact-based role descriptions and not necessarily based on critical deep buyer insights. Buyer personas then can help illuminate Thick Data that help companies to understand the qualitative stories complementing big data.)

The Future: Thick Buyer Insights

The future of achieving deeper buyer insights may very well depend on how well organizations can integrate and complement big data analytics with that of qualitative thick data. The future then perhaps leading to Thick Buyer Insights. A realization that insights cannot be achieved through data alone. Yet, also realizing that data can enhance, as mentioned above, the stories learned from their best source of buyer insights – directly from their customers and buyers themselves.

07 Jun 15:59

5 Unforeseen Financial Pitfalls of Making the Wrong Sales Hire

by Amy Volas

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you’ve already made the wrong sales hire (now or in the past) or you’re trying to prevent yourself from making a bad hiring decision. Regardless of what brought you here—welcome. This post will outline the painful cost of making a bad sales hire, and help to safeguard yourself from a hiring disaster in the future.

Why You Might Be Making the Wrong Sales Hire

Simply put, the recruitment and selection process can be tricky. This is increasingly so when it comes to sales recruiting, as your sales team is instrumental to your company’s success.

When it’s done well, companies can focus their time and energy on growth. Done poorly, however, and the company is sent reeling, trying to address the consequences of a bad sales hire.

So, how do you avoid this occurrence, especially with all of the modern information on said topic?

(Seriously, a simple Google search for “Cost of Making the Wrong Sales Hire” results in about 587,000 URLs.)

cost making wrong sales hire

Not to mention, if you receive bad advice, you might end up carrying out that bad advice repeatedly, all the while expecting the positive predefined result. Einstein’s definition of insanity is especially true in this scenario.

Well, I’ll save you the pain and headache. After 20 years in sales, recruiting, and HRTech, I understand the pitfalls of making the wrong hire, and I know how to prevent them in the first place, too.

If you want in on the details, read on:

1) Loss of Time

losing time sales hacker

Getting your hands on a new employee is a significant investment of time. From figuring out what you really need to evangelizing the role to sourcing to interviewing and negotiating, every step of the process takes time – especially when properly executed.


Hiring the right person for your sales team is multifaceted, so it should take time -@AvenueTP
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So, what happens when you invest the time and the person is clearly not the right fit?

At that point, the time you spent acquiring and considering this salesperson is a sunk cost—and a significant one, at that. 

According to Glassdoor:

If your company has 249 employees or less, it will take just under 20 days for you to interview and identify a new hire. If you’re a larger company with 1,000 to 9,999 employees, hiring will take 26 days on average.

This is what makes the further loss an insult to injury.

While the employee is at your company, your leadership team will lose time training them, and your experienced employees will lose time trying to fix their mistakes and shortcomings. 

According to Mindflash:

After a bad sales hire, 36% of their respondents reported a negative impact on employee morale along with a 22% negative impact on client solutions.

Think about it from a leadership perspective, that same study indicates a 41% loss in worker productivity, that’s a lot of unexpected management time that could’ve been avoided in the first place.

At the end of the whole ordeal, your company—from executive leadership to your sales floor— will spend significantly more time trying to solve the additional problems the employee creates than on the productive tasks at hand to make it truly “rain”.

2) Loss of Money

losing money sales hacker

Although it’s cliché, the phrase “time is money” is spot on, here.

On the low end of the cost spectrum, it’s estimated that losing an employee costs the same amount of six to nine months of that employee’s salary.


If you lose a sales manager that’s making $100k, you’ll lose $50k or more when they leave…
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From all of my research and firsthand accounts of the damage that can be done, this is a conservative estimate.

If a 50K loss has you panicked, the unfortunate reality is that losing a sales hire can cost much more.

Real Life Example:

I recently had a client that was in desperate need of help. Sadly, they were in quite a predicament. Their dilemma? They brought on two of the wrong senior-level sales people that produced ZERO amongst many other issues.

In less than a year, a bad sales hire cost their business $3MM! Yikes…

3) Loss of Productivity

lazy bad employee loss productivity

As your army of top performers spend more time trying to negate the damage of the bad sales hire, their numbers can suffer tremendously.

With everyone in damage control mode, your employees will be doing less of what they should to support your bottom line—further increasing the situation’s financial burden.

Remember the painful $3mm loss I mentioned earlier?

Well, unfortunately, that financial cost wasn’t the only damage the company suffered. When their two senior-level sales executives failed to deliver, their sales pipeline turned into a communication vacuum, of sorts.

Without the proper people in place, the company had to pull other individuals from their roles to provide coverage. As these employees tried to keep sales up and manage their old tasks, they were stretched too thin.

After 9 long months of pain, the company was able to cut ties with their “mis-hires.”

Post-Mortem – It took a few additional months to determine what they needed from their lessons learned, a month to engage with yours truly and then 45 additional days to make their hire.  

Overall it had set them back 3 quarters worth of anticipated productivity and results. Try explaining that to your board…

In both instances, the outcome isn’t what it should be.

4) Impacting the Client

bad sales team relationship

When many look at trust in relation to a bad sales hire, they look at employee trust. If your leadership team brings someone on that isn’t a good fit, other members of your sales force might lose confidence in your ability to hire successfully—and understandably so.

What’s often overlooked, though, is the impact this has on the client experience and their trust.

Here’s an example: A growing company wanted their sales people to have an individual book of business that generated a steady stream of sales within the first 90 days with a growth plan over the course of the next 18 months post-sale.

In their pitches, every salesperson committed to proactive communication to stay ahead of any potential roadblocks, clearly illustrating a rock-solid implementation plan, and specific milestone/checkpoints to ensure results.

Unfortunately, the company hired the wrong people for the job. The sales people they hired had no experience creating ongoing relationships with their customers.

They were all very successful in short-term/transactional sales, but when it came to nurturing a relationship to truly “land and expand”, the majority struggled and then some.

Needless to say, turnover skyrocketed, and as the company scrambled to fill the roles and keep up, their customers had no clue who to contact amongst many other issues.

As you might have guessed, this company lost many high-profile clients because they over-promised and under-delivered. Ouch!

5) Decline In Employee Morale

low employee morale sales hacker

One of the most important things a company can possess is genuine brand equity—internally and externally. Although many factors can influence your brand’s image, one surefire way to create chaos is with a revolving door of salespeople.

Internally, a bad hire influences brand equity negatively because it leads employees to question where the company is going and the perceived value of the sales organization.

Well-suited employees often have a lot of common ground that creates cohesion producing a well-oiled sales machine. When a new employee is added to the mix and negatively sticks out like a sore thumb, other employees might feel that your organization is moving in a different direction—one that they might not fit into.


Externally, potential hires might see your high turnover rate as a red flag – @AvenueTP
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Additionally, if your former employees take to a review site to outline their negative experience, candidates will read and heed their review—potentially leading your next best salesperson to turn down the job with your company. Fact, bad news travels fast.  

News of bad experience reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for good experience.

3 Takeaways to Avoid a Bad Sales Hire:

  • Focus on what you want. After hearing about all of the financial downsides of a bad hire, your first reaction might be fear. There’s so much that can go wrong in the hiring process, but if you only focus on the negative, you’re never going to recruit the salespeople you need to succeed.

Understand what makes a salesperson succeed at your specific company, and then recruit someone off that baseline. Scorecards are your friends along with a well-established repeatable and measurable hiring process.

  • Spend time training and coaching. All too often, companies write off a high turnover rate, but this shouldn’t be the case. A lot of the time, employees become bad hires because they are not onboarded, trained, or coached properly; they don’t understand how to have success in the role, so they become upset and unsuccessful.

Here, the best offense is a good defense. If you don’t want to lose employees and experience all of the financial losses associated, take the time to set them up for success. It’ll cost you up front, but the long-term savings will be worth it.

  • Keep everyone up-to-date. We live in a dynamic world, but we don’t always cater to the ever-changing nature of our lives. Companies are often busy trying to navigate the current market overall and competing priorities, so taking the time to disseminate the details to their sales team often falls to the wayside. Proactive communication and open dialogue is your friend, take the time to do this and you’ll reap the rewards.

So, now that you know what can go wrong with a bad sales hire and how to avoid it, how will you move forward? Don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result—begin to implement sustainable changes that will ultimately create a world-class sales organization.

The post 5 Unforeseen Financial Pitfalls of Making the Wrong Sales Hire appeared first on Sales Hacker.

07 Jun 15:58

No List Buys – Why Static List Building Based on Firmographics Is Outdated and Inefficient

by Madhumanti Debnath

StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

Your sales team is only as good as the data they use – and if they’re stuck using static lists to identify prospects, even their most winning sales pitch will fall on unqualified, uninterested ears.

At LeadSift, we firmly believe in the #NOListBuys mantra: It’s never worth it to buy a static list based on firmographic data alone.

Firmographic data can be useful, but only when it is combined with other attributes. On its own, it doesn’t tell a compelling story about your prospects. Sure, you might be able to segment prospects by industry, size of company, annual revenue and job title and more. But what does this information tell you about whether that prospect is even remotely interested in your product?

To us, there are at least three major flaws with relying on static lists based on firmographics:

1) Knowing the right title doesn’t mean they are in the buying journey

Let’s say you’re targeting VPs of Marketing in the technology sector. You get a list of a few thousand names that hit that mark, and they’re from the right size and territory, so you forward them to your sales reps. But after a few weeks (and a few hundred cold calls), not one single demo or meeting has been scheduled.

The people you’re reaching out to are busy, and despite their apparent match with your buyer persona, they’re not actually in the buying journey. They haven’t expressed an interest in your product, and they certainly don’t have time to be pestered by a sales pitch for something that’s not even on their radar.

However, all is not lost: dynamic, contextual lists can provide prospects that are closer to making a purchase, because they combine attributes like job title with specific actions prospects have taken that indicate that your product or service is top-of-mind.

2) Static lists are riddled with old and outdated data

It’s no secret: static lists are often built, and then forgotten about. They collect dust, going weeks and months without an update as the data becomes staler and staler.

While a list of several thousand seemingly on-target names might sound nice on paper, the reality is that many of the contacts you’re buying will actually have already moved on to a new position or company before you get the chance to contact them. This leaves you with clutter and dead-ends that ultimately waste time and money.

3) You’re getting the same, stale data as everyone else

So not only are you stuck with a list of unqualified contacts, many of whom are no longer even in the position you want to target, but that static list of yours is also in the hands of dozens or even hundreds of other sales teams. And that means that the prospects that you do reach will have been spammed to death already, and even less likely to respond positively to your pitch.

However, all is not lost if you’ve been relying on static lists to pump up your pipeline. Using a tool like LeadSift can overcome all of the above shortcomings (and more!), and supply you with fresh, qualified leads that are in the buying journey. Try us out, and we bet you’ll join the #NOListBuys team in no time!

07 Jun 15:58

What is the Process of Lead Generation in Sales?

by Nikka Alejandro

3dman_eu / Pixabay

Lead generation is the process of attracting leads (your potential customers) into a contact management or marketing software system with the hope of nurturing them throughout the buying process to help convince them about your offerings and then convert them into a paying customer.

The strategies used to generate these contacts are put in place by your business to ensure that your leads are quality and worth nurturing for the future. Lead generation is all about building trust with your audience and educating them about your industry and offerings along the way.

Here are the five steps to more effective lead generation in sales:

1. Acquire Leads

Start acquiring leads by generating engaging content that can be shared throughout your various marketing channels. Create content about your business in the form of eBooks, blog posts, white papers, photos, infographics or whatever else that would fit your business and your audience. Distribute this content across your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, other social channels, email and wherever your potential customers are active.

Some of your content should be short form, like blog posts, tweets, photos and short video clips, that requires no barrier to read, view or consume, while some of your content should be longer form that requires a form to access like an eBook, free course, white paper, infographic or an instructional video.

Once a lead has made it to the point of interest in viewing a long-form piece of content, they fill out a signup form becoming a part of your contact management system, email list or both. This visitor is now a newly acquired lead.

2. Nurture Existing Leads

Once a lead is a part of your CMS or email list, it is important to continuously nurture them to ensure they move through the sales funnel when the time is right or to encourage another purchase. Retaining their interest in being part of your email list is vital. It’s time to work to build this lead into a long-term relationship that involves both trust and loyalty with your business.

Setup email autoresponders that trigger customized emails to send to a lead if they download a certain amount of content from your website, try a product trial after they make a purchase if you are offering a daily deal or any other interaction a lead might be having with your website and its content.

The entire process of nurturing a lead could take anywhere from a month to more than 12 months to convert them into a customer, if not longer. Take your time with building the relationship over the phone, through email and focus on when the customer will be ready to take the next step with your company.

3. Score Each Lead

Scoring leads allow your business to understand which leads in your system are more valuable than others. A valuable lead is one that is interacting more with your business online whether they are downloading more content or viewing more web pages as compared to other leads.

Focus your team’s efforts on nurturing better quality leads that will have a greater impact on your sales since these leads are already interested in your content and services, closer to converting to a customer than other leads with a lower score.

Analyze the rise and fall of your lead’s score to better understand what stage in the process most leads begin to fall off and how can this be corrected, as well as when most leads are ready to be passed off to sales.

4. Pass Along Leads to Sales

Setting the different stages in your own lead management process is important for the continual flow of leads from beginning to end of the sales funnel. The lead generation process of reaching leads, retaining interest, nurturing leads to prevent them from dropping off and establishing their desire to interact with your company is the focus of the marketing team.

The sales team should focus on moving the desire a customer has, that was originally spurred by the marketing team, to action in the form of a conversion. Once a customer has bought from your company, it is the sales team’s responsibility to enrich the experience with existing customers and retain them over time.

Look at your leads and create definitions for a lead ready to be passed on to sales as opposed to a lead that still needs to be nurtured by the marketing team.

Some common ways to define a sales-ready lead is if there is a healthy profile created about them from different data points, their lead score is high, certain behavioral attributes show there is high interest, they appear to have a budget, the authority and need of your services and lastly, their timeline implies that the entire buying process must be expedited.

5. Evaluate Lead Generation Process

The entire lead generation process should be under scrutiny by your team to ensure that it is as effective as possible in bringing in new leads, nurturing them, converting them into customers and retaining those customers over time.

One of the most successful ways to have a measurable impact on your lead process is by identifying where your leads drop off and attempting to resolve the issue while learning how to recapture the leads that were lost.

Many leads drop off before they are passed to sales because there was an interest in your company but it did not develop enough to move from an interest into a desire. These warm leads can be recaptured, but this costs more time, money and effort from the marketing team, which is why it’s important not to lose them in the first place.

Marketing analytics can also help your team continue to understand if certain benchmarks are being reached such as an increased flow of traffic to your website if more visitors are signing up to your list, an increased conversion rate, more time spent on your website etc.

Monitor these benchmarks and more to determine whether they are directly impacting a leads journey through the funnel and helping to prevent them from losing interest in your business. Constantly experiment and test out new iterations of the process to understand what works best for your organization as a whole.

To learn more about effective lead generation strategies, read this in-depth article.

Companies that pay attention to each of these steps, especially in the early planning stages, and devote the right resources and budget, tend to perform better than the competition. The process isn’t simple, and ignoring any of these steps can lead to poor outcomes.

Building a killer process, on the other hand, leads to sustained growth and profitability.

07 Jun 15:58

The Buck Stops at the CEO for Account-Based Marketing

by Sangram Vajre

When it comes to generating leads vs. account-based marketing, the buck stop at the CEO. Period.

Innovative B2B marketers and CMOs are rallying behind the idea of account-based marketing (ABM) because it’s a proven strategy to grow revenue. ABM is a new way of getting aligned with sales teams to engage best-fit accounts instead of being focused on BS metrics like marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or the number of people’s badges you scanned at a trade show booth.

B2B lead marketing vs. account-based marketing

That’s why we’re in the midst of the account-based marketing revolution. But is your CEO on board?

In order to fully align your organization for account-based marketing, the CEO needs to be bought in. No matter how much the CMO or the marketing team wants to do ABM, if the CEO isn’t bought into shifting from traditional lead-based metrics, then “account-based whatever” just isn’t happening.

If your company’s CEO still wants to see the number of leads generated thinking it will lead to revenue, then it’s time for a wakeup call.

Why It’s Up to CEOs to Pave the Way with ABM

For decades, B2B SaaS industry leaders have been misguided in their view of marketing as a lead gen machine. It’s also the reason why customer marketing hasn’t been a focus, but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s discuss the factors that have led to B2B CEOs’ heavy focus on leads.

  • The inbound marketing movement creating scalable ways to generate leads
  • Marketing automation to nurture, grade, and score contacts and prospects
  • Content marketing to engage people through thought leadership

All these factors have made B2B marketers look like lead generation machine, which is what they were supposed to be. With the explosion of B2B MarTech, the process looked like this: leads were qualified, then funneled through the sales process to become paying customers.

Now, lead generation made marketers appear to be heroes. A good CMO could demonstrate how a handful of those leads ended up becoming customers. But alas, Forrester found that less than 1% of leads generated ever turn into customers.

This means 99% of the leads created by marketing never see the green that the CEO ultimately cares about. Is this really what the CEO and board want to see? No! Execs want to see the ROI of marketing, or at least they should.

So it really comes down to the CEO, President, and/or executive leadership team to come to an agreement. If leadership says, “I want the marketing team to generate leads” and they are sticking to the MQL, SAL, SQL, metrics, then share that Forrester stat. For every 100 leads generated, only one “might” become a customer.

That’s gotta make some CEOs furious. I hope so.

It’s time to flip that funnel and challenge the status quo.

For the CEOs who care enough about the results beyond following the usual B2B marketing playbook — and those who are willing to try something new with measuring marketing’s metrics — get ready to thrive in 2017 and beyond.

I challenge every CEO out there to do away with MQLs and look only at the number of qualified demos or meetings scheduled. How many of those demos became opportunities? How long did it take for those opportunities to turn until deals? That’s what CEOs should ask their marketing and sales teams.

Marketing and sales need joint accountability and measurement on revenue (not lead) metrics and KPIs. Instead of generating leads, CEOs should think about creating pipeline velocity and the customer experience from “click to close”.

Here’s an example:

The sales team has 200 accounts that are sitting in the pipeline to be closed in next 90 days based on their typical sales cycle. Let’s say it’s the start of a new quarter, and we want those 200 accounts to close by the end of the quarter.

Marketing should review these accounts with sales and the various touchpoints the contacts in those companies have had through the buyer’s journey. Engagement is the name of the game.

Personally, I like to think of engagement for pipeline velocity campaigns as a combination of high/low “tech” and “touch.” Remember the formula for velocity?

velocity graphic account-based marketing

Creating energy in a pipeline velocity campaign requires lots of engagement. Direct mail, targeted advertising, email nurtures, personalized videos, hosting events, all these things help to create velocity in pipeline. Let’s engage qualified opportunities instead of spending a ton on SEM/PPC. Your CEO should hopefully be down with that idea.

I know this can be challenging, especially philosophically. No more MQLs. But this is the type of change can only be driven by the CEO as this is a philosophical change.

The buck stops at the CEO. It’s time for the CEO to step in and say, no more inbound vs. outbound, no more sales vs. marketing. Let’s all have one measure of success so we can drive revenue and build the best in class organization.

Want to learn more about executing and measuring an account-based marketing program? Download the Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing to get a step-by-step guide to getting started with ABM, plus worksheets that will help you plan and execute your ABM program.

07 Jun 15:58

Top Marketing Challenges Revealed: ROI & Budget Are Marketers & Greatest Concerns

by Debbie Williams

In the past two weeks, two completely different digital marketing industry reports have been released that, while very different, reveal some very similar insights about the greatest challenges facing the industry, and business as a whole, today.

Each year HubSpot releases the the significant gap between sales and marketing, one thing has exponentially stood out to us. Since 2015, the top three responses to the greatest marketing challenges have been the same, and they have a direct correlation to each other.

The top three marketing challenges facing companies in 2015, 2016 and 2017:

  1. Generating traffic and leads* (63% in 2017, 65% in 2016)
  2. Proving ROI (40% in 2017, 43% in 2016, 71% in 2015**)
  3. Securing Enough Budget (28% 2017, 28% in 2016, 51% in 2015***)

Top answer in 2017; **Top answer in 2015; *** 2nd ranking answer in 2015

2017

State of Inbound

The Metrics Matrix

First and foremost, companies are still very challenged by tracking and analyzing their metrics. All of the top three challenges reported this year are related to data and metrics. With dozens of analytics and tracking tools available, from HubSpot to Google Analytics and Ahrefs to Moz, there is no shortage of options that companies have to track results. While using these tools is a daily part of what we do as an inbound marketing agency, we’ve discovered that many businesses, even multi-million dollar companies, do not have any type of analytics tracking in place when we first start working with them. While they might have at least Google Analytics set up on their site, they don’t have the internal resources to interpret the data, nor an internal process in place for what to do with these metrics.

Generating traffic and leads, proving ROI and securing budget are all directly correlated.

More than ever, marketing teams are being measured on their contribution to company revenue. To help prove marketing results directly impact sales, teams need the right tools and attribution processes to track their efforts and ultimately to leads and sales . The data in the State of Inbound Report proves that there’s still a big black hole in the operations of many companies that is preventing metrics from being accurately measured.

“So, these challenges come full circle. Tracking and proving ROI makes marketing teams more “successful;” thus successful marketing teams often get more budget.

Marketing Industry Transformation

Beyond the State of Inbound Report, there have been several other big news stories and studies about the shakeup and transformation of the marketing industry. In January 2017, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble made a speech that rippled across the marketing world. In a major statement of this speech, he called out the closed measurement systems of Google and Facebook, and demanded they take down their “walled gardens” of data metrics. Pritchard also demanded that every agency and media partner they work with adhere to the Media Ratings Council (MRC) standard by the end of the year, shaking up the long-standing agency commission structure of media buying.

On May 31, 2017, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report was released with 355 slides, often touted as “the most anticipated slide deck of the year. It was chock full of insights from the influential analyst covering stats and trends in mobile, social media, gaming, digital content and advertising. Slide 17 addressed the top challenges in Social Media Marketing, and surprise, surprise, the top two are measuring ROI and securing budget.

Social Media Marketing

And, slide 16 is being called the “most nervous-making slide title of the day – “Ad Measurability = Can Be Triple-Edged … When Things Are Measured = People Don’t Always Like What They See … Users Don’t Always Like Data Collected.” So not only are companies struggling with collecting and analyzing data, they’re not always happy with the metrics they are seeing. This is likely correlated to the lack of closed-loop processes for developing marketing strategies with proven and measurable ROI.

These two industry-leading reports prove there is a lot of work to be done, and companies, large and small are facing the same challenges.

What can be done?

  • Break down sales and marketing silos to close the gap between marketing and sales teams and initiatives.
  • Use the right tools to help plan and measure marketing strategies and results.
  • Work more efficiently with an agile marketing approach, using data to pivot and make changes more quickly based on metrics.
  • Revamp the company mindset from marketing as a department to marketing as a company initiative with collective goals.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, but making changes to the strategies, processes, methodologies and technologies that companies use in marketing is absolutely crucial.

07 Jun 15:58

If You Are a Farmer

by Anthony Iannarino

What does a farmer do?

A farmer prepares the earth. A farmer ensures that the ground is ready to produce. When the ground is ready, the farmer tills the soil and plants the seeds that will eventually bring a harvest.

When the seeds are planted, the farmer nurtures them, ensuring they get the right nutrients, the right amount of water, and the right pruning. The farmer is in charge of the care and feeding that eventually produces a crop.

You are, even as a farmer, responsible for creating opportunities.

You start by developing the relationships that will be important to winning deals. You are also responsible for planting the seeds of change, creating the case for the client to do something different, something that produces new results. You till the soil. You nurture green sprouts.

The idea of an account manager, or client success manager if you prefer, is to do the work that leads to new opportunities being created and won. That work starts with ensuring that the client captures the value of what you have sold them, and it continues through maximizing their results. It does not, however, end with you becoming a glorified customer service representative.

Because you have greater access than a salesperson, you can get closer to the people that work inside your client account. You can also develop a greater understanding of what your client needs help with and what comes next. This access and these insights allow you to start introducing new ideas–and the new initiatives that create an opportunity for you and your company.

Even though you may not be responsible for managing or winning the opportunity, you are responsible for–and best positioned to– create new opportunities.

If your role is to manage accounts, then manage them so well that you have an absolute right to pitch the next idea, as well as bringing in your team to support you in delivering it.

The post If You Are a Farmer appeared first on The Sales Blog.

07 Jun 15:58

How to Start Selling to Your Ideal Customers (Step-by-Step)

by Carolyn Kick

How to Start Selling to Your Ideal Customers (Step-by-Step)

You may have heard of a recent trend in sales, creating an “ideal customer profile” (ICP).

Maybe you’ve read about it, or even gone through the process to create one. But creating an ICP is only half the battle.

Getting buy-in from your organization, implementing it across your sales team, and evaluating its performance is the next step.

Learning how to effectively implement and track the progress of an ICP can have a big impact on your sales team’s success. Some major benefits include:

  • Shorter sales cycle
  • Higher average contract value
  • Increased revenue
  • Reduced churn rate
  • Happier customers

In case you haven’t already jumped on the ICP bandwagon, here’s an easy step-by-step process to develop one quickly.

Once you’ve completed that process, you should have an ICP with:

  • Industry
  • Location
  • Employee count
  • Estimated revenue
  • Any other characteristics you think are important for your ICP

The next step is to implement your ICP. This process is crucial, and when done effectively can mean massive success for your sales team.

The rest of this post is dedicated to helping you successfully implement your new ICP. We’ll cover:

  • Setting goals to evaluate your ICP
  • Establishing sales and marketing alignment
  • Implementing an ICP across your entire sales team
  • Refining and optimizing your ICP over time

Setting Goals and Evaluating Your ICP

how to start selling

An ICP should be created using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data.

Even so, it’s likely you’ll have to make some “best-guesses,” especially when first implementing an ICP in your sales process.

Because of this, it’s important to set up a system to test and evaluate your ICP. As Peter Drucker once said, “what gets measured gets managed.

Even better, you’ll be able to refine and optimize your ICP over time by making data-driven decisions. Here’s a three-step process to evaluating your ICP:

  • Set a timeframe

Establish a timeframe to test the first iteration of your ICP. Typically, a period of four to six months works well. However, based on your sales cycle and target customer, a different timeframe might work better. For enterprise sales, a longer test cycle may be necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of an ICP.

  • Set a goal

Set a specific goal to work towards. Your goal should be unique to your sales process and team, but some examples include:

  • Increase MRR by x%
  • Generate x number of qualified leads
  • Increase average deal size by x%
  • Reduce customer churn by x%

Whichever goal you decide on, make sure it’s clearly communicated across your entire sales team.

  • Establish metrics

Based on the goal you set in step two, specify metrics you will use to track progress towards that goal. Put systems in place to systematically track and monitor these metrics during your ICP test period.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

how to start selling

Sales and marketing alignment is critical when implementing an ICP.

Ideally, your marketing team would be involved in the process of formulating the ICP. At the very least, buy-in from marketing is critical.

When your sales and marketing teams are in sync, lead generation becomes easier.

Many marketers base their strategies on “buyer personas.” So what exactly is the difference between an ICP and a buyer persona?

The ICP indicates the types of companies/accounts you should be targeting. Buyer personas identify and define the types of buyers you should be targeting within those companies.

Once you’ve established buy-in, sales and marketing can work together to create buyer personas aligned with the ICP.

Implementing an ICP in Your Sales Team

how to start selling

The first step in any successful ICP implementation is to communicate it clearly across your sales team.

Explain the parameters you’ve outlined for the ICP and make a case for why an ICP will help your team crush sales goals.

Next, clearly explain the ICP test period, goals, and evaluation metrics you’ve decided on. Ensure systems are in place to hold every team member accountable towards these new sales goals.

Understand the Purchase Decision Making Process

Once your sales team is on board, work together with your marketing team to identify the key decision makers involved in the purchase decision. Further build out your buyer personas to include job title, rank, department, etc.

These buyer personas will help you identify and prospect the best leads at companies that match your ICP.

Discover Prospects

With buyer personas in mind, it’s time to identify companies that match your ICP. Once you find companies that align with your ICP, you can discover key decision makers from those companies.

These will be your prospects.

Discovering companies and prospects is usually the toughest part of implementing an ICP. Luckily, there are many tech tools out there which can help you pinpoint prospects that perfectly match your ICP.

You can apply filters to discover companies and people to target using a prospect database or a lead generation software.

Sometimes a combination of good old fashioned Google and LinkedIn search can do the trick. Whichever method you choose, developing a list of target accounts and key decision makers is key to implementing an ICP.

Connect With Prospects

Once you’ve identified prospects who match your ICP you can begin outreaching.

While automated email is a popular sales method, a more personalized approach is effective when using an ICP.

Because you already have key data insights on companies, you can leverage these in sales emails to make a more compelling case for your product.

Unlike traditional sales which targets a large volume of low-quality or unqualified leads, with an ICP you will be targeting less leads, but those you do target will be high-quality.

This is why a high-touch, personalized sales approach is more effective.

No matter how you do it, in order to be effective, you need to nail your offer.

Refining and Optimizing Your ICP

how to start selling

It’s important to remember that your ICP can, and probably will, change over time. When it comes to refining your ICP, here’re some tips to keep in mind:

  • Track your progress in milestones. Remember the timeframe and goals you set for your ICP? You don’t have to wait until the end of that timeframe to evaluate your ICP. In fact, it’s even better to evaluate your ICP at shorter intervals or “milestones.”
  • Follow the data. When evaluating your ICP in milestones, make sure to look at the numbers. Quantify and consider how the ICP is impacting your sales efforts. If you notice you’re not on track to meet your goals, it might be time to change your ICP. Simply put: if you notice something isn’t working, make a change. Likewise, if the numbers indicate a positive effect on your sales process, move forward with your ICP.
  • Evaluate success. At the end of the ICP test timeframe determine if you met your goal. If you didn’t meet your goal, you may want to consider fine-tuning your ICP, or pivoting entirely. If the data points in the right direction, you may opt to extend your testing timeframe.
  • Test, test, and test some more. Continuing to test, refine, and/or pivot is key to your sales teams success in the long term. Always have metrics in place to track and evaluate the performance of your ICP.

Key-Takeaways

Some key takeaways from this guide on learning how to start selling include:

  • Set a goal and testing period timeframe for your new ICP.
  • Establish metrics to track progress towards your goal.
  • Work with marketing to create buyer personas that correspond to your ICP.
  • Use a tech tool to pinpoint prospects who match your ICP.
  • Develop and implement a warm outreach strategy.
  • Track progress towards your goal and refine your ICP as needed to meet sales targets.

What tips do you have for people learning how to start selling to their ideal customers?

07 Jun 15:58

Sifting Through a Sea of Website Leads

by Colleen Perone

I am lucky enough to be part of a constantly evolving sales team here at Bop Design. Our Business Principal who has an MBA in Business is always pushing us to think outside the box. We have over 500 unique visitors to our B2B website daily and I have crafted a system in which I can evaluate and assess which of these visitors may need our B2B website design services.

There are a handful of prerequisites each website visitor must have before I initiate communication with them, as I don’t want to waste their precious time or my time. Here are the steps I take to sort through a sea of website leads to determine whether they are a quality lead and how I handle each potential client.

Start with Low Hanging Fruit

We utilize Lead Forensics for shaking out all the low hanging fruit. Before we started using Lead Forensics, I would spend hours looking through Google Analytics metrics. Now the Lead Forensics software shows exactly who looked at what on our website and for how long. Lead Forensics also provides the physical address and contact number of these businesses. It allows me to set up Trigger Reports which send email notifications as soon as someone of interest returns to our B2B website. That gives me the opportunity to engage with them through LiveChat in real time. The LiveChat feature on our website and the ability to see a potential lead’s behavior on the website helps me determine where website visitors are in the buying cycle and how I can help them.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Being a boutique B2B agency means we are not a good fit for every business visiting our website. We typically build B2B websites for service-based companies, so eCommerce websites are not our target market (eCommerce websites have their own nuances and best practices). Also, our blog posts often reach an audience of other marketing and advertising firms (and we are happy to be a resource for others in the field). Luckily, I’m able to vet out these types of visitors and don’t spend much time on leads that are not aligned with our business model.

Find the Right Contact

As a B2B marketing agency, we prefer to engage with the marketing team to offer services specific to their needs. Once I have identified the company through Lead Forensics, LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for pinpointing who is part of the marketing team. On LinkedIn, I look at the Company’s page and verify they have a marketing team and who is on that team. Next, I use Data.com to look up their email addresses and draft a brief, personalized email offering to help with their marketing efforts.

Don’t Ask for A Call Right Away

I never ask for a call in my first email correspondence since that comes off as pushy. Why would they take my call? They don’t know who I am or what I’m selling. Rather, I offer my assistance and expert knowledge of B2B marketing. I can typically tell who needs our B2B website or content marketing services after spending a few minutes looking over their brand’s website.

Don’t Sell, Help Them Shine

Being part of a team that truly wants to see other B2B companies thrive and flourish is rewarding, both personally and professionally. We want to show other B2B companies their ROI and how we capture their essence in a website design. I am constantly updating my approach in my email campaigns to communicate all the ways we can help.

07 Jun 15:57

How to Create a Great Sales Pitch in 3 Steps

by mhalper@salesscripter.com (Michael Halper)

consultative-selling-compressor-790794-edited.jpg

“Consultative selling” comes up again and again. But what does it really mean? And how can you make your sales pitch -- which is traditionally product-centric -- more consultative?

First, let's dive into the differences between product selling and consultative selling. Then, I'll explain how to create a consultative sales pitch. Finally, I'll share a customizable connect call script that works with the consultative style.

Product Selling is Easier

If you compare product selling and consultative selling, it might seem obvious the second is better.

But most salespeople use the first approach. Why? It’s an easier way to try to sell.

Most salespeople have a lot of product knowledge, allowing them to talk to every prospect about their products without much extra thought or planning.

While a product selling sales pitch might be easier, it’s less effective. A push approach often repels prospects, damages rapport, and leads to time wasted chasing low-quality prospects.

A consultative approach, on the other hand, helps reps start conversations, create good impressions, work new accounts, generate more leads, and increase average deal size.

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, if product selling is easier, how do you switch to a consultative approach?

Converting Product Selling to Consultative Selling

Here are the main elements of product selling. If you flip them, you’ll become a consultative salesperson.

  • Focus primarily on the product → Focus on the prospect
  • Assume every prospect needs the product → Ask probing questions to see if the prospect has a true need
  • Try to sell to every prospect → Find prospects that fit with what you sell
  • Focus on selling products → Focus on providing solutions
  • Try to sell the product at every step of the sales process → Sell the next step in the sales process
  • Do most of the talking → Try to get the prospect to do most of or an equal amount of talking
  • Center your sales pitch on explanations and descriptions of the product → Center it on probing questions
  • Talk about product specs and functionality → Talk about benefits, problems, ROI, and client examples
  • Prioritize your own interests (selling, closing, making money, etc.) → Prioritize the prospect’s interests (making money, decreasing costs, making their life better, etc.)

Building a Consultative Selling Sales Pitch

Even if that list makes sense to you, you might still be unsure what to say and which questions to ask. It is easy to know what to say when all you do is talk about the product. It is a little more difficult to have good probing questions ready and to keep the conversation centered around the prospect.

Here’s a simple process that will make it crystal clear what to say and ask.

  • Step 1: Think of a 2-4 benefits that your product offers (improvements that your product will create, e.g. automate processes, decrease time, decrease costs, increase revenue)
  • Step 2: For each benefit, think a of a problem or challenge that is solved (sometimes the opposite of the improvement that the product creates)
  • Step 3: For each problem, compose a question you could ask to see if someone has that concern

Consultative Selling Call Script

Use the points you developed to create a call script. Here is an example of one I’ve personalized with my information -- simply take out my details and replace them with your own.

Introduction

Hello [prospect name], this is Michael Halper from SalesScripter. Have I caught you in the middle of anything?

Value Statement

Great. I’m calling because we help sales managers make their teams more successful with phone prospecting and lead generation.

I actually don't know if you are a good fit for what we provide, so I just had a question or two.

Pre-Qualifying Questions

If I could ask you really quickly:

Are your sales reps able to consistently generate leads and get into new accounts?

How concerned are you about the amount of time it takes to get new sales hires ramped up and performing?

How confident are you that all of your sales reps are asking prospects the right questions?

Is identifying and correcting under-performing sales reps important?

Is decreasing sales staff turnover one of your goals?

Are you open to exploring new ways to boost sales performance?

Do your sales reps use any kind of script or sales playbook?

Examples of Common Problems

Oh, OK. Well, as we talk with other sales managers, we have noticed that they often express challenges with:

1. Getting sales reps to consistently generate leads and get into new accounts

2. Helping sales reps give good sales pitches and ask the right questions

3. Getting under-performing sales reps corrected and on the right path

4. Decreasing high sales staff turnover

5. Ramping and training new salespeople

6. Increasing sales performance and consistently hitting targets

7.Are any of those areas that you are concerned about?

Company and Product Info

Well, based on what you shared, it might make sense for us to talk in more detail. As I mentioned, I am with SalesScripter -- we provide a sales prospecting platform and sales methodology that makes it easy for salespeople to engage with new prospects and generate leads.

Close

But I have called you out of the blue. I have some more questions for you. Can we schedule a 15 to 20-minute call next Tuesday or Thursday?

Once you've mastered the consultative selling approach, you'll never want to go back to a product-centric sales pitch again. This one might require more time, energy, and thought -- but the ROI is worth it.

HubSpot CRM

07 Jun 15:57

4 Ways to Make an Undeniable Impact at Your New Marketing Job in 1 Month or Less

by Mark Miller

Unsplash / Pixabay

One major trend we’ve watched in recent years as a marketing talent agency is that more pressure is on marketers than ever to drive results and prove their value. If you’re taking on a new marketing position, it’s especially important to make a good impression early on and establish a reputation as a difference maker and indispensable resource.

But even in a best-case scenario where you step into a new role and start producing results, it’s not always easy to prove it and make your results known. Today’s world of real-time responsiveness and instant analytics has trained us to expect instant gratification in the form of demonstrable success. But the reality is that some aspects of marketing are long-term efforts that can require weeks, months, or even more to fully pay off. And sometimes you’re limited by the nature of your business cycle–if your business only has a handful of large sales per year, it’s hard to guarantee immediate, visible results.

Marketers know better than most the importance of first impressions. Making a mark early on in a new job will establish a foundation for more respect, authority, and growth potential during your time at that business.

How can you show to your coworkers and supervisors that you’re driving results early on after being put in a new job through a marketing placement agency? Try these strategies to demonstrate the impact you’re making right away and give them an idea of what to expect from you in the future:

Aim for Some Easy Wins Early

marketing placement agency

Many of the most productive and ROI-generating marketing strategies are effectively never-ending campaigns that may take a long time to accumulate meaningful results and analytics. But there are also some tactics that can be effectively compartmentalized and completed as demonstrably finished accomplishments.

For instance; imagine you were put in charge of a business’s SEO strategy by a marketing talent agency. It might well take months for you to start ranking high on some competitive keywords and generating traffic that leads to sales. But there are meaningful things you can do in the meantime that are highly visible, tangible achievements, like reducing site load times, making a site mobile-friendly, or redesigning navigation for better UX.

Seek out opportunities to fix obvious problems and create assets that will have lasting, readily apparent benefits. Some examples:

  • Complete a competitive analysis of your marketplace and identify opportunities for growth
  • Identify blatantly broken processes or tools and update them to modern best practices
  • Focus on your “place of strength” where the majority of your experience and skills lie and work from there

Become the Office Clairvoyant

Go out of your way to stay on top of the latest trends in your field and anticipate how they’ll affect your business’s industry and customers. Predict the future and forecast coming changes (and then do what’s needed to make sure you can jump on any opportunities or dodge incoming problems).

Make your prophesies with discretion. You don’t want to develop a reputation for “crying wolf” and making predictions that don’t come true. But if you do begin making forecasts that consistently come true, you’ll become a seer in the eyes of your peers and managers.

Point to Powerful Metrics

marketing placement agency analytics

Today’s sophisticated analytics systems offer marketers a buffet of different reports and KPIs to track. But at the end of the day, ROI will always be the king of all metrics for marketing professionals–that’s one thing we as a marketing placement agency don’t expect will ever change.

Unfortunately, ROI can be hard to nail down–especially early in your tenure at a new marketing position. When you don’t have hard data proving significant immediate returns, turn to other related stats that can at least be tied to it in the short term. How are you increasing leads, or trimming down cost-per-customer? The answer will depend on your position in the organization. For instance:

  • Increased traffic, longer time-on-site, and lower bounce rate for the company’s web site
  • Cutting down on cost-per-click in your Facebook Advertising
  • Improvements in direct mail response rates
  • Increases in engagement on social media

Additionally, make sure to measure your “starting point” when you first join so you’re best empowered to point to progress as time goes by.

Translate Data Into Insights–and Add a Creative Element

Just because that endless spreadsheet is a goldmine of data for you doesn’t mean others will see anything other than a block of numbers. When reporting, tease out the most important data and convert it into information useful even to those without the same background and experience you have. Compare your performance to the company’s previous results, industry benchmarks, and your eventual goals.

Don’t stop there. Find ways to illustrate your progress over time. Side-by-side comparisons, timelines, charts, checklists and more make compelling ways to add context and make your accomplishments more meaningful. Be consistent and use a standard, flexible reporting template that’s reliable and user-friendly.

07 Jun 15:57

7 Ways to Increase Sales with Marketing Automation

by Ellen Gomes

You know the basics of marketing automation: it streamlines, automates, and monitors routine marketing tasks. But a good marketing automation platform is about more than making life easier for the marketing team—it should also help you close more deals.

So, how can you tap into different aspects of marketing automation to increase sales? Check out these seven tips:

1. Pass Over Sales-Ready Leads Using Lead Scoring

Tired of hearing sales complain about marketing’s unqualified leads? Determining when a prospect is sales-ready can be difficult, but a robust marketing automation platform scores leads behind the scenes.

Lead scoring is an automated strategy that adds or subtracts points from each lead based on actions taken or not taken. It can also be used to track demographic data to provide a higher score to a lead that fits your ideal buyer persona. When a lead reaches a threshold that you set, it is deemed “sales-ready” and is passed onto the sales team.

Here is an example of some lead scoring you can implement, based on behaviors:

Lead Scoring Example

Lead scoring helps ensure that your sales team doesn’t waste time on unqualified leads. It can also shorten overall sales cycles.

2. Personalize Your Website

By the time a lead hits your website, they’ve already gained an impression of your company. A personalized website will increase your conversion rate and make a better impression. The lead and customer data (who they are, where they work, online behavior, etc.) can be used to personalize landing pages and other web content seen by each lead. Even anonymous web visitors’ experiences can be personalized.

Identify Web Visitors with Web Personalization

For example, if you are an online retailer, and a visitor who has been shopping for winter coats finds your website, a web page for winter coats would be presented first. Personalized web content helps build a better, more personal, relationship with leads and ensures that their experience with your company is the best it can be–and therefore increases in sales.

3. Provide Your Sales Team with the Info They Need to Follow Up

To make sure your sales-ready leads are being followed up on with the right message by sales–it’s important to provide sales with the information they need to have the best conversation. By tracking the interactions leads have with your company and providing that information to sales in an easy spot, such as their CRM system, sales will be able to have a personalized and effective conversation with each sales-ready lead.

Here is an example of a dashboard that can help prepare your sales team. It’s called Interesting Moments, and it’s a part of the Marketo Sales Insight application in Salesforce.

Marketo Interesting Moments

4. Keep the Conversation Going Using Triggered Emails

When a lead interacts with your company, it’s important to stay top of mind by keeping the conversation going. Triggered emails get sent automatically based on a lead’s actions. They help turn more leads into real customers without wasting your sales team’s time. For example, if a potential customer views a pricing page, an email designed for interested customers can be sent.

Triggered emails have been shown to perform three times better than other types of emails (even batch emails).

5. Segment Your Lead Nurturing

In an ideal world, all marketing leads would be sales-ready. But in reality, most leads are not ready and need some nurturing before they can be passed to sales.

By implementing segmented lead nurturing, you can provide specific content to each lead to push them to become sales-ready–when they are ready. Segmented lead nurturing can be done by industry, role, or company size.

6. Track Your Leads on Every Channel

Your prospects are on every channel—whether it’s browsing on social, searching the web, heading to events and more. It’s important to track each interaction your prospect has with your company–no matter what channel. This will help guide your message to a prospect, based on what types of content your audience is interacting with. This will help increase sales because relevant content is the number one way to keep a prospect engaging with your company.

Use tools native to your engagement platform like predictive content, web personalization, digital ads and triggered emails to help you engage your leads with a timely, relevant and personal message, while also capturing data about their engagement (or lack of engagement) with your message or content.

7. Track Your Results and ROI

Doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results isn’t going to cut it in today’s digital world! Marketers need to be tracking the ROI of every program they run to see if there are tangible results. An ideal ROI is 5x–meaning you are generating 5 times the amount of pipeline or revenue compared to what you paid to run this program.

By tracking this type of data, you’ll know which programs yield the best results for revenue – and keep running those programs and cancel the ones that are not performing.

An engagement platform with marketing automation doesn’t just offer benefits for the marketing team—it can help sales win more deals, more often and more efficiently.

06 Jun 17:13

Unlocking the Creative “Spark and Grind” in Sales

by Stephanie Rodriguez

When talking about creativity, we are often quick to label people as either left brained or right brained; dividing the rationalist and the creatives. When you consider the skill set typically associated with a sales rep, creativity is not usually on the list. Based on how they spend their time, sales professionals are often labeled as left-brainers. But this label isn’t very accurate. By the very definition of creativity (constantly trying new ideas, experimenting, and evolving) sales reps are often the most creative individuals in a company.

They have what author Erik Wahl refers to as “the spark and the grind.”

“This is the first truth you have to understand about creative endeavors: the spark comes to life at the expense of the grind.”

— Erik Wahl, The Spark and the Grind

Creativity requires both the spark of new and exciting ideas, and the grind to test them and bring them into the world. Sales professionals follow this cycle each and every day. It’s where new tactics and new strategies come from. It’s what keeps a sales team successful despite a rapidly changing market or customer base. Sales reps that embrace this creativity fully are often the ones that experience the most success.

So how can you hone these skills even further? In his book, Erik Wahl offers practical advice about how to fan the sparks and make the grind more productive with three key habits.

Immerse Yourself in the Unfamiliar

The first habit Wahl lays out is to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar. Creative insight comes from making new, unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. It stands to reason then, that the more new ideas, concepts, people, and experiences you can expose yourself to, the more connections you have to make. Fortunately for sales reps, you experience a variety of new situations every day.

creativity-post-3

Cold calling is a great opportunity to hear new objections, try new ways to counter them, and listen to a new perspective. Every person you speak with or exchange emails with is an opportunity for new insights.

You should also constantly examine what’s working for the other reps on your team and even outside it. Which SalesLoft email templates are getting the most response? How did your friend one desk over close that deal yesterday? What about that last cold email you received from outside the company? What made it standout in your inbox? There’s no shortage of new information to immerse yourself in.

Conversing With Yourself and Others

Constructive criticism is crucial to innovation. Ideas need to be tested and improved constantly to get to true innovations that will make you more successful. Be open about the new tactics or ideas you’re trying out and ask for feedback from your friends, your team, or even your prospects. The more you vette your ideas, the better they become.

You can also gain important feedback on your own through A/B testing or analytics, key components of the best sales engagement platforms. A/B testing allows you to test your assumptions and wild ideas in a controlled environment. You can try out different email, cadences, or even voicemails, and allow your analytics platform to tell you if you’re on the right track. The most successful new ideas are bred with creativity, but confirmed with data.

Rehearse Creativity Constantly

The most innovative sales reps commit to developing their creativity each day, in what Wahl calls “a lifestyle of iteration.” Never be satisfied with your approach. Customers are always evolving and your sales process needs to improve along with them. It’s important to note that acting on creativity takes time. Just like getting back to the gym after a hiatus, you need to repeatedly create new sales tactics to become more accustomed to making creative changes. Don’t be discouraged if your spark of an idea fizzles out. That is exactly why you practice the grind.

Sales professionals have the ability to integrate the spark and the grind into day-to-day processes, and you should. Your spark and creativity gives a new life source to your sales that customers will welcome and appreciate. While your left-brained, logical inclinations provide the grind to fully tackle your creative side and continually drive your sales forward.


Want to learn more about effective sales creativity and strategy? Download your free copy of our latest ebook and start landing larger clients, earning more revenue, and enjoying more sales success.

absd-cta

The post Unlocking the Creative “Spark and Grind” in Sales appeared first on SalesLoft.

06 Jun 17:12

Smart cities are as stupid as the people who make them

by Cory Doctorow

For 13 years, I've been writing about Adam Greenfield, one of the world's smartest critical thinkers on what we're calling "The Internet of Things" this decade -- but since the first glimmers of the idea of networked people, places and objects, Greenfield has been writing smart things about the subject, most recently in Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life, a book that Verso will publish next week.

In a long excerpt in The Guardian, we get a flavor of Greenfield's nuanced, incisive critique of technology that is deployed to manipulate the people who use it, treating us as things to be sensed, not sensors.

Greenfield argues that the IoT's surveil-and-manipulate model is especially dangerous because its proponent believe that they're measuring objective reality, and are engaged in something apolitical. The reality is that people respond to metrics, so measuring something changes it, and this means that what you measure matters just as much as the measurements themselves.

It's possible that we'd be able to create systems that are aware of these problems and try to account for them, but for so long as the answer to every criticism is "We're empiricists, and your politics have no place here," the problems will only get worse.

The bold claim of “perfect” knowledge appears incompatible with the messy reality of all known information-processing systems, the human individuals and institutions that make use of them and, more broadly, with the world as we experience it. In fact, it is astonishing that any experienced engineer would ever be so unwary as to claim perfection on behalf of any computational system, no matter how powerful.

The notion that there is one and only one solution to urban problems is also deeply puzzling. Cities are made up of individuals and communities who often have competing preferences, and it is impossible to fully satisfy all of them at the same time.

That such a solution, if it even existed, could be arrived at algorithmically is also implausible. Assume, for the sake of argument, that there did exist a master formula capable of balancing the needs of all of a city’s competing constituencies. It certainly would be convenient if this golden mean could be determined automatically and consistently. But the wholesale surrender of municipal management to an algorithmic toolset seems to place an undue amount of trust in the party responsible for authoring the algorithm.

If the formulas behind this vision of future cities turn out to be anything like the ones used in the current generation of computational models, life-altering decisions will hinge on the interaction of poorly defined and subjective values. The output generated by such a procedure may turn on half-clever abstractions, in which complex circumstances resistant to direct measurement are reduced to more easily determined proxy values: average walking speed stands in for the “pace” of urban life, while the number of patent applications constitutes an index of “innovation”, and so on.

Quite simply, we need to understand that creating an algorithm intended to guide the distribution of civic resources is itself a political act. And, at least for now, nowhere in the current smart-city literature is there any suggestion that either algorithms or their designers would be subject to the ordinary processes of democratic accountability.

And finally, it is difficult to believe that any such findings would ever be translated into public policy in a manner free from politics. Policy recommendations derived from computational models are only rarely applied to questions as politically sensitive as resource allocation without some intermediate tuning taking place. Inconvenient results may be suppressed, arbitrarily overridden by more heavily weighted decision factors, or simply ignored.

Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life [Adam Greenfield/Verso]

Rise of the machines: who is the ‘internet of things’ good for? [Adam Greenfield/The Guardian]

(via Beyond the Beyond)

06 Jun 17:11

2 Powerful Google Analytics Metrics That Can Improve Your Search Rankings

by Michael Chibuzor

2 Powerful Google Analytics Metrics That Can Improve Your Search Rankings

Google Analytics is one of the most used analytics tools. It’s used by some 28 million websites worldwide. It’s an easy tool to use and comes with no cost.

On one hand, when you effectively track your website’s traffic, sales, and revenue, you will start to understand your target audience better. You’ll ultimately drive more website growth.

On the other hand, not tracking your website’s metrics is a huge disservice to your business.

And of course, when you first start out you need to learn how to use any analytics tool. For a sophisticated analytics tool like Google Analytics, it won’t be of much help if you don’t know how to use it and what to track with it.

More importantly, the insights that you draw from the analytics make all the difference.

The truth is, not many people know what metrics to measure and how to make sense of them. I’ll show you how.

But first, let’s get the basics out of the way.

A common Google Analytics mistake

Businesses make a lot of mistakes when using Google Analytics. Some of them confuse views with visits while others aren’t sure of causation and correlation.

But the biggest mistake that businesses make is that they use the tool to track website traffic – and that’s all.

For them, Google Analytics is all about seeing how much traffic your website gets every month (or week). They never go beyond this single metric.

According to Jayson DeMers, “most of the inexperienced users only rely on a single and most familiar metric.” This strategy is acceptable for a few months when your business is new, but relying on a single metric after 6 months could hinder your business’ growth.

In reality, Google Analytics helps you measure a whole lot of metrics (both vanity and actionable metrics) which you need to make informed decisions on the direction that your website is going.

For instance, the “User Behavior Analysis” helps you understand what users do when they arrive at your website.

The behavior analytics reveals metrics like visitor flow, exit pages, events, what actions visitors take on your website, and you can experiment with different types of behavioral patterns.

If you want to improve your search rankings, you’ve got to understand that measuring the behavior of website visitors is more crucial and meaningful as compared to simply tracking the monthly visits and new sessions.

For instance, if you’re getting a lot of traffic but the conversion rate is under 1%. No matter how large that 1% might be, I don’t think it’s encouraging. So what are you expected to do?

Well, this is where behavior analytics comes to the rescue.

The “Behavior Flow” metric will show what visitors did when they’re on your website, the page they exited and what type of content they like the most.

Could this be the best use of Google Analytics?

I think so.

With that said, there are two powerful metrics in Google Analytics that will give you deeper insights about your users. I like to call these the “user-centric metrics.”

If you optimize for both of them and make decisions based on them, you’ll not only improve your rankings in the SERPs, but you’ll dramatically boost user engagement and experience. Yes, they’re that powerful!

The two powerful metrics are:

  1. Bounce rate
  2. Percent of new sessions

Metric #1: Bounce rate

If you’re just starting out, bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing a single web page.

According to Google, a bounce is a single-page session.

It’s calculated by dividing all the single-page sessions by total sessions. The answer is converted to a percentage.

Bounce rate can be found at several places inside your Google Analytics account.

It’s available in the Audience Overview, which is the first thing you see when you login to your Analytics account.

However, this is an average bounce rate for all your web pages combined. You need to check bounce rates for individual web pages (including posts and pages) to be 100% sure. And to do that, click on Bahavior > Site Content > All Pages.

Seeing the bounce rate in Google Analytics isn’t a big deal, you already knew it. But the steps that you take after viewing your bounce rate is what will determine whether you have opportunities to boost your organic search visibility or simply continue with what you’re already doing.

So, if your website had a 64% bounce rate, what does it mean and what are you expected to do?

The first step is to compare it with the industry average bounce rate.

Bear in mind that finding an accurate average bounce rate for every industry is somewhat impossible. But there are several sources that will help you make a rough guess.

KISSmetrics published an infographic with average industry bounce rate:

I personally like Voodoo industry bounce rate since it has a better segregation for industries. You can fit your industry somewhere in it:

The infographic may not be clear, but if you have a blog, expect a bounce rate between 70% and 98%. It’s quite normal to have a high bounce rate if you have a blog.

A high bounce rate isn’t always bad. Better yet, bounce rate isn’t a ranking factor.

Not every website uses Google Analytics so Google can’t measure the bounce rate of those websites. Thus, it’s not a ranking factor.

Fine.

Then how can you improve your search rankings with bounce rate?

Before you can reduce bounce rate, you need to understand a critical factor that sends a clear signal to Google on the state of your content. It’s referred to as Pogo-sticking.

Here’s how Skyword defines it:

“Pogo-sticking is when the searcher clicks on a link on a SERP, sees that it’s not what he or she is looking for, and immediately bounces off by hitting the back button.”

In a nutshell, it’s a situation whereby a user clicks on a search result and quickly goes back to the search engine, clicks on the next result, returns back, and so on. They are looking for a website that satisfies their query.

The best SEO ranking factor of all time is user satisfaction.

Google (and other search engines) may not truly measure correctly the causes of bounce rate on your website, but the effect of pogo-sticking makes it easier to measure.

Because Google can now assume that your web page doesn’t have useful information for the user.

The moment you’re able to stop search users from clicking back and forth on search results, you’ll eliminate pogo-sticking from your web asset, and have a much better chance of reducing bounce rate.

Rand Fishkin has explained how to solve the pogo-stick problem.

If you get rid of pogo-stick and improve user experience ― this will send a signal to Google that users are now happier with your web page. Your content is now useful and well-researched. You no longer write on generic topics, but rather, you go in-depth.

And you have a great navigation and internal structure ― which allows website visitors to click-through to another page while getting answers to their questions.

It’s beyond creating quality content. Because the word “quality” is relative. What I perceive as quality content may not impress you at all.

Therefore, the solution is to create content that addresses your customer’s questions. You want them to read the article, watch the video, listen to your podcast, and not consider another resource or blog.

Make no mistake about it, improving user experience is a surefire way to cut bounce rate in half and grow your organic visibility.

As proof that it works, Elite-Strategies used website design and user experience to reduce the bounce rate of their client by 55% and increased organic traffic by 2x.

Metric #2: Percent of new sessions

Google defines a session as a group of interactions on your website at a specific time period.

When one session ends, the next time the same user returns to your website it will count as a new session.

After inactivity of 30 minutes, the session expires and it will then be counted as a new session.

The Percent of New Sessions is the measure of percentage of first-time visitors to your website.

The percent of new sessions can be found in Google Analytics in Audience > Overview.

You can find the % New Sessions for individual pages in Google Analytics.

Log in to your account.

Click on Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages.

So how you can use this to increase search rankings?

First, did you know that the Percent of New Sessions is an engagement metric? It’s a measure of user satisfaction.

A high percentage of New Sessions means that visitors who land on your website visit multiple pages. It’s a measure of stickiness of your website.

A low percentage means that the majority of the visitors don’t have multiple sessions on your website. Users don’t like having multiple sessions with your website.

You have to make sure that the % New Sessions is high because it means new visitors are finding your website through search engines and are sticking to it.

When a user doesn’t return to the search results page after clicking on your website, all things being equal, it’s a signal that they are satisfied. This satisfaction signal improves your website’s ranking.

Google will push your website to the top with an intention to serve the best results that will satisfy users.

To show you how impactful this can be, CognitiveSEO posted an article on Reddit one normal day. They received 20K new visits in a day from Reddit.

Good for them.

But this increase in new sessions improved their website’s search engine ranking for a very competitive keyword. Yes, the web page actually jumped from position 74 to 8. Isn’t it awesome?

The search visibility spiked the same week.

Impressive.

Interestingly, the bounce rate and the average session duration for this page was extremely low.

A spike in the percentage of new sessions will surely give your website a great boost in SERPs. Because users want to discover new content that improves their lives in one way or the other. And if users are satisfied, Googlebot will likely be.

Search engines try to serve pages that a lot of people are already visiting and are clicking on.

For this reason, the title and meta description of your web pages should be beneficial and irresistible so that new visitors who find your listing in the organic results for a given keyword (e.g., content marketing strategy plan) can be drawn in, and click-through to your website.

Conclusion

These two Google Analytics metrics are exceptionally powerful and are helpful in improving your search ranking. Why? Because bounce rate and % New Sessions are direct signals from user’s behavior.

Analyzing and making sense of these two metrics (and all the others) is your primary responsibility as a website owner or website administrator.

From my personal experience, if you spend 80% of your time working on reducing your bounce rate and increasing % New Sessions, you’ll indirectly influence other metrics including page views, Avg. Session Duration, and Goal Conversion Rate.

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

Which metrics in Google Analytics have the most effect when you’re making decisions related to market research and SEO?

06 Jun 17:02

A Cheaper, Easier Resistance Standard on a Chip

Graphene sheets could replace gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide in quantum Hall effect ohm standard
Illustration: NIST
Near 5 Kelvin, a strong magnetic field drives charges to the edges of the graphene lattice, producing a voltage drop with a quantized resistance in between.

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, Gaithersburg, Md.) and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., have deposited a graphene film on silicon carbide to produce a quantized ohm-on-a-chip. The advance, several years in the making, promises a practical device for measuring electrical-resistance that is easier and less expensive to make, and less demanding to operate, than the current generation of standards fabricated from gallium arsenide (GaAs) and aluminum gallium arsenide (AlGaAs).

Both the graphene and the GaAs/AlGaAs standards depend on the integral quantum Hall effect: Under the right conditions of low temperature and strong magnetic fields, the resistance in a two-dimensional semiconductor can become quantized—an integer multiple (precise to within at least one part in a billion) of the ratio between Planck’s constant and the square of the electron charge (this works out to about 25,812.8 ohms).  When electrons move across the planar semiconductor at temperatures a few degrees above absolute zero, a perpendicular magnetic field pushes moving charges at right angles to their direction of motion—driving negative charge to one edge of the chip, positive charge to the other edge, and producing a voltage gap and a precisely quantized resistance in between.

In a paper in the journal Carbon , NIST researchers Yanfei Yang and Randolph E. Elmquist and their collaborators describe the production and performance of a highly homogeneous, 5.6-millimeter-square sheet of graphene—a one-atom-thick hexagonal lattice of carbon—to serve as the two-dimensional Hall effect semiconductor. (An arXiv preprint of the paper is also available.)

Conventional GaAs/AlGaAs quantum Hall devices typically operate at 1.2 Kelvin or below and require magnetic fields higher than 5 Tesla (5 T, stronger than the fields used for magnetic resonance imaging), Elmquist observes. They are also limited to currents of 20 to 80 microamperes at one volt or less.

“But with graphene, which is an exceptionally good conductor for a 2D material, we’ve seen full quantization as low as 2 T,” Elmquist said in an NIST statement. “[This] allows us to use a much smaller magnetic apparatus that can be placed on a tabletop. Some devices are still perfectly quantized at temperatures as high as 5 K, and we have observed critical currents as high as 720 microamps, which is the highest ever observed for a QHE standard.”

The upshot is that if it’s possible to conduct measurements at such high currents, you can accurately calibrate a room-temperature resistor of similar value, like a 1 kilo-ohm or 10 kilo-ohm resistor. With lower field, higher temperatures, and higher current, you can have a much simpler system: a closed-cycle refrigerator where you won’t need liquid helium,” he said. “By contrast, we run the NIST gallium arsenide system only twice a year because of the expense and difficulty of running the liquid helium system.”

The NIST Physical Measurements Lab has struck a development deal with Prescott, Ont.–based  Measurements International Ltd. Graphene-based quantum Hall effect resistance standards could be commercially available in a year or two, Elmquist said. 

06 Jun 16:57

An In-depth Guide to Boosting Customer Lifetime Value Using Social Media

by Cynthia Johnson

Are you using your social media presences to keep your customers engaged with you so that they make more purchases, more often, over time?

What are the best ways to turn your social channels into customer lifetime value (CLV) boosters, and how do you calculate and track those efforts?

As we all know, social media offers marketers remarkable power. But let’s be honest – In all likelihood, you are not effectively maximizing the customer lifecycle optimization potential that your social efforts can deliver.

In this article, we’ll discuss what CLV is and why it’s critical to identify, calculate, track and increase it. Then we’ll take a look at exactly how to do that via your social channels.  

What CLV is and Why it Matters

Customer lifetime value is the amount of money that your average customer spends with you over the course of his or her lifetime. It’s useful to track, because when you know this, you can project the revenue that future customers will send your way, a figure that you can use as a break-even benchmark when compared with customer acquisition costs (CAC).

Taking CLV into account can completely shift how you think about customer acquisition. Rather than brainstorming ways to acquire customers and figuring out how cheaply you can accomplish this, a CLV calculation helps you reshape your thinking into brainstorming ways to optimize your acquisition spending for maximum sales value – rather than simply more new customers.

Considering it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it is to keep an existing one, it’s an incredibly valuable metric, as it’s inseparable from your customer retention strategy.

According to a 2014 study from predictive analytics firm Implisit, on average, leads captured on B2B websites take an average of 75 days to convert, peer referrals take 97 days, and social media-driven leads only take 40 days to convert. So at least the nurturing process for selling to new sales leads is shortest when social plays a role in B2B product discovery. The 2016 PwC Total Retail Survey, moreover, strengthens the idea that social plays a key role in building positive brand sentiment, which is pivotal when you’re trying to retain customers.

Image source: http://www.pwc.com/totalretail

Referencing CLV as a metric that you try hard to maximize is vital if you want to increase profitability and retention, because it reveals the true (estimated) ROI on customer acquisition. Segmenting your CLV calculations can likewise help you identify which channels produce the most profitable customers.

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of measuring ROI based on people’s initial purchases. You should be optimizing your marketing activities in terms of the lifetime value a customer contributes to your business. And you should be using your social channels to drive those CLV metrics up. Here’s how.

Incorporate Social Media Activity into Your Loyalty Rewards Program 

Encourage your customers to engage with you on social media by rewarding them when they do so. Award points to members who follow selected social accounts, redeemable for discounts on the products they already love.

Since 90% of loyalty program members desire communication from the programs in which they participate, give it to them on the channels you want to promote. Empower them to engage with your brand and earn points where they spend their time anyway. The bonus here is that since you’re inevitably already hitting your loyalty program members via email marketing, adding a social touch-point primes your members to build an omnichannel relationship with your brand.

The icing on the proverbial cake here is that once your loyalty program members have followed you on your social channels, your brand will keep popping up in their feeds, keeping it in the forefront of your customers’ minds.

Image source: https://antavo.com/blog/blogthe-definitive-guide-to-creating-a-successful-loyalty-program/

Of course, you can do this all automatically. Antavo, for example, is a loyalty-marketing platform that rewards the social media behaviors you want to encourage. Your customers can complete the action you want them to take, receive points and redeem awards – all in one place. You can even give them choices with stepped levels of reward points for each action, so they can determine what’s comfortable and worthwhile for them.

Offer Discounts to Specific Segments via Social Ads

Creating separate buyer personas and pushing out tailored content which will resonate with each audience and drive them to action has the potential to jack up your sales by 124%.

You’re segmenting your audience, right? Let’s take that concept one (strategic, profitable) step further. With a social selling intelligence tool like Leadfeeder, you can track your site visitors so you know which products, or categories of products, or content topics, they’re most interested in and therefore likely to purchase when targeted.

Anytime someone engages with your website, Leadfeeder does the homework for B2B companies automatically. It integrates with your CRM, empowering you to segment your audience based on their behavior on you website. Then, you can target each segmented audience with social ads and create both upsell and reengagement discount offers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn.

Image source: https://www.leadfeeder.com/

For example, if Leadfeeder tells you that that customer companies A and B have visited your website six times in the last two months, consistently lingering on Product Q, but have not returned in the last week, it’s time to target them with a Facebook advertisement specifically for Product Q.

Does your CRM tell you that both customers bought Product Q a year ago, and it’s time to restock? Up those click bids! This is a highly focused ad, since you already know who they are, what they want, and how far along in the sales funnel they get before converting. Capitalize on this knowledge.

Provide Top Customer Service Across all Social Channels

We’ve reached the stage where we need to go beyond a 24-hour response promise and a cheery smile. Customer expectations regarding service via social media have skyrocketed: 32% expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% within the hour.

And it gets even more intense: of the survey respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product or company through social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as they do during standard business hours.

Thankfully, the technology is now available to take your customer service to the next level and provide exactly what your customers are seeking. Conversocial is an automated, comprehensive customer service platform that streamlines not only direct customer communication but also internal ticket assignment and escalation procedures. Ultimately, this means you can achieve higher productivity, faster decision making, and the big prize: the opportunity to demonstrate superior customer service in comparison to your competitors.

Image source: http://www.conversocial.com/

In addition, Conversocial offers preventative customer service by automatically finding indirect product or brand mentions on Twitter and Instagram. This way, you can proactively resolve issues before they spin out of control. And of course, it integrates with your CRM so you can track all of your touch-points within a single system and review them at a glance.

Feature Your Customers in Your Social Posts

Everybody wants to feel important. And since 87% of consumers want meaningful interactions with brands, but only 17% believe that brands deliver on those interactions, marketers have some work to do here.

Two-thirds of your audience believes that their relationships with sellers is one-sided – they want more recognition and warm feels from their brands. Give it to them.

Last year, for example, Coca-Cola marketed personalized soda bottles, but they didn’t stop there. The entire world went crazy for them, and Coke – being the marketing geniuses they are – capitalized on the momentum by encouraging people to share pictures of themselves drinking from their personalized bottles. The pictures stormed social media, and Coke pushed them along by featuring, highlighting and promoting them, ultimately making their customers feel like a million bucks, and (bonus alert!) transitioning Coca Cola’s customers into their advertisers.

Image source: https://www.facebook.com/kajabi/

In another example, online course sales platform Kajabi is uber-successful at making their customers feel like superstars by featuring them on their social channels. Their #KajabiHero Facebook campaign highlights their customer successes and explains to potential users how this “hero” utilized the platform to bring in significant profits. This strategy allows Kajabi to simultaneously achieve two goals: “pulling their weight” as far as the brand’s responsibility to engage the customer, and exponentially increasing the traffic to their social channels. Win-win.

Invite High-Value Customers to Join a Group for Superfans

 If you’re in B2B, LinkedIn might be a better host for your VIP fan group than Facebook, but regardless of your ideal channel, a great way to drive engagement from loyal fans is granting them exclusive and/or early access to sales promotions, pre-launch sales or special events.

The women’s fashion brand Zig Zag Stripe did exactly this and sold $6 million worth of products in six months. Their superfan Facebook group boasts 45,000+ members and was established as the antidote to the brand’s diminishing engagement on their main Facebook page.

Image source: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ilovezigzag/

Zig Zag Stripe’s fans feel like they’re part of an exclusive group, and they enjoy giveaways and prizes for recruiting their friends into their “private, closed circle” of discounts and deals. The kicker here is that every brand has the ability to open a (free!) closed Facebook group and sell directly to the group.

Soldsie software allows you to take this strategy to new heights, as it allows you to post your products to Facebook or Instagram, empowering your followers to purchase simply by commenting. Items are then automatically added to the customer’s shopping cart, promoting easy checkout.

Increase CLV by Channeling the Power of All Your Social Channels

Maximizing your customer lifetime value in relation to your cost of customer acquisition is challenging but achievable. Get creative; implement one or all of the methods mentioned above and untap the full power of your social channels to incrementally increase your CLV.

Focus on the lifelong relationship you’re building with loyal customers and reshape your thinking to focus on maximum lifetime sales value of each customer. They will thank you for it, and so will your bottom line.

The post An In-depth Guide to Boosting Customer Lifetime Value Using Social Media appeared first on Social Media Explorer.