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B2C Product Marketing Tactics

What problem are you trying to solve? For forgetful people (like me) who always forgets the passwords to my online accounts, Dashlane promises to “securely remember all of your passwords.” For people who need to work on projects remotely, Google Docs allows you to “write, edit, and collaborate wherever you are. For free.” For people […]

What problem are you trying to solve?

For forgetful people (like me) who always forgets the passwords to my online accounts, Dashlane promises to “securely remember all of your passwords.”

For people who need to work on projects remotely, Google Docs allows you to “write, edit, and collaborate wherever you are. For free.”

For people who want to keep in touch with friends and family around the country or overseas, “download Skype and stay in touch with family and friends for free.”

These Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies all have one thing in common: they offer a B2C product marketing or similar service that solves a specific problem for consumers encounter at home and on-the-go.

But what about in the workplace?

What if I need to share a password for an online analytics account with a client?

What if I want to write, edit, and collaborate on documents with my colleagues?

What if I need to keep in touch with a client who moved recently relocated to a new state?

To answer the growing demand to have a solution that solves a common problem both at home and at work, B2C product marketing companies are beginning to introduce robust Business-to-Business (B2B) products specifically for teams, businesses, and large enterprises.

In fact, according to Forrester, we expect the US B2B eCommerce market to be worth $1 trillion — twice the size of the US business-to-consumer (B2C) E-Commerce market by the year 2020.

B2C product marketing companies transitioning to B2B cannot simply add “For Business” to their consumer-facing offering because of the inherent differences between B2B and B2C marketing.

 

Understanding the Difference Between B2B and B2C Product Marketing

To successfully make the transition from a B2C marketing model to a B2B marketing model, you need to understand some their fundamental differences:

 

B2C vs. B2B Market Size

B2C companies have the ability to market to tens of thousands, even millions of consumers, just like Ebay’s consumer-facing platform is able to target practically anyone with Internet access.

In contrast, B2B markets are much more niche because they cater to a smaller pool of potential customers. File storage company Dropbox, for example, currently has 500 million users, but just over 200,000 B2B clients.

 

Customer Relationships

Since many B2B purchases involve monthly or annual contracts for products and services, B2B marketing requires a company to nurture strong relationships with their clients.

If you’re the office manager of a large corporation, you’ll most likely work with FreshDirect’s B2B offering, FreshDirect At The Office, to order your company’s weekly supply of office snacks. The food delivery company will often assign a dedicated account manager to be your point of contact and help with everything from future deliveries to cancellations. This also affects the purchasing process, since closing a B2B sale can often take weeks or months.

In contrast, if I wanted to order snacks for myself or my family, I can place an order online myself using FreshDirect’s Home Delivery service. Since B2C consumers often don’t have direct contact with a company (unless it’s for customer support and troubleshooting), they can quickly make purchases based on what their immediate want and needs are.

 

The Decision Making Process

According to AdWeek, 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before they make a purchase and, on average, a consumer will visit three stores before making their purchase.

Consumers want to understand basic pre-purchase information, like pricing, payment information, the make and model, warranties, shipping information, availability, or if the store offers any special deals or discounts for the product.

B2B customers also look at the same basic pre-purchase information, but they also require additional technical information and an in-depth understanding of how your product works. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, customers put B2B salespeople’s subject matter and solution expertise at the top of their list of important qualities when evaluating potential suppliers.

Now that we understand the fundamental differences between B2C product marketing and B2B marketing, let’s explore how a B2C company can attract B2B customers.

 

Attracting B2B Customers with Your B2C Product Marketing

For B2C companies who want to begin attracting B2B customers, you’ll need to focus on specific customer acquisition, conversion, and retention strategies.

I’ll outline 18 actionable marketing tactics we’ve used at Ladder (in no particular order) that will drive traffic to your website, convert visitors into paying customers, and keep them happy while using your service or platform.

Customer Acquisition Strategies

 

Facebook and LinkedIn Lead Capture Ads

A lead capture ad is a social media ad format that allows you to capture visitor’s emails with without the user having to enter their name, email address, or other personal information.

In two clicks, visitors can opt-in to signing up for an email list or a product demo with all the necessary form fields already filled out from their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.

Lead capture ads also allow you to collect valuable information about a visitor that can help you create customized messaging based on their contact information (i.e. email, location, phone number, etc.), work credentials (i.e. job title, seniority, or job function), company details (i.e. company name, company size, or industry), and education (i.e. degree, field of study, graduation date, etc.).

B2B Lead Generation

Facebook and LinkedIn Lead Ads for B2B Lead Generation

Brand Awareness Campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn

According to a survey of over 300 B2B marketers, 58 percent said Facebook and LinkedIn were the social media platforms with the highest return on investment (ROI). Furthermore, content marketing is highly regarded as the cornerstone of B2B marketing strategies.

To quickly earn traffic to your site consider trying one of these campaign ideas:

  • Original content: Share engaging, informative videos, blog posts, infographics, e-books, tutorials, and other content that will help your prospects solve a problem or answer a question. In return, you’ll build brand awareness and generate qualified leads.
  • Brand awareness campaigns: For a wide range of prospects at the very top of the sales funnel, display ads that introduce your product or service and encourage them to visit your website or a landing page to learn more.
  • PR Mentions: Positive reviews or press mentions are valuable pieces of content to share in your ads and will help build your brand’s reputation since users are more likely trust products or companies that were mentioned in reputable publications than a regular ad.
  • Studies or research: Original studies and research are also great pieces of content to advertise. Not only will it improve your brand awareness, but it’ll also build your company’s reputation as an authoritative thought leader in the industry.
  • Testimonials and case studies: Similar to PR mentions, testimonials, and case studies will help build trust, brand awareness, and also help with a prospect’s buying decisions later in the sales funnel.

Target Lookalike Audiences in Lead Capture Ads

Once you have a solid list of leads from lead capture ads, you’ll be able to build another target audience based on what those leads “look like.”

For instance, if you discover that a majority of your leads work at startups in the New York City area, you’ll be able to build and target an audience of other New York City-based startups, founders, employees similar to ones that have already displayed interest in your product. With this approach, you’ll drive qualified traffic to your site.

b2c product marketing

Target Lookalike Audiences in Lead Capture Ads

Twitter Engagement Ads

Twitter engagement ads allow you boost the reach of organically posted tweets or create tweets that are only displayed to your target audience. Since Twitter has cheaper cost per impressions than other social media ad platforms, it’s a good option for raising brand awareness by building social proof through Likes and Retweets.

 

Google Search Ads on Core Keywords

Acquire users who are looking for the exact service or product that you offer by targeting core keywords on Google Adwords. If it’s your first time running a B2B AdWords campaign, begin by selecting a list of keywords and conducting keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner to determine each keyword’s search traffic, competition, and the AdWords suggested CPC bid.

Then select the best keywords you want to target. You’ll want to stay away from bidding on keywords with low search volume and keywords that are generic terms. For example, if I’m a B2C product marketing company that deals in food delivery service who wants to attract B2B clients, you don’t want to run ads on the generic term “food” because of high competition from groceries, restaurants, review sites, recipe blogs, and other website or organizations in the food industry. Instead, consider targeting relevant terms like “office food delivery”, “grocery delivery”, “and ‘grocery delivery service”.

Next, create and run an ad with specific visuals, copy, and landing pages for each keyword you’re bidding on so that it’s relevant to viewers. Don’t forget to track your ad’s performance and iterate based on the results.

Google Search Ads

Google Search Ads on Core Keywords

Mentioning Advanced Technology in Copy

On landing pages and paid ads, highlight your product’s technological edge. Mention what technology makes your product faster, stronger, safer, or easier to use than your competitors.

This tactic is used frequently by companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple, who offer specific technical details about their products to answer specific technical questions customers may have, showcase the quality of their product, and to distinguish themselves as technology innovators.

Keep in mind that it’s not enough just to say that your product has a 12-megapixel iSight camera, so tie in technical details with user-friendly benefits–in this case, the 12-megapixel camera ”captures sharp, detailed photos” and “takes brilliant 4K video, up to four times the resolution of 1080p HD video”.

Mentioning Advanced Technology

Photo Caption: Writemysite.co.uk

Sponsor Meetups and attend online community events

A piece of advice our co-founder Michael Taylor offers to new companies is to win your first 10 customers with “hand-to-hand combat”–meaning you should physically meet and build relationships with your potential customers.

Find out where your ideal customers and decision makers hang out.

Ask your friends if they know anyone. Reach out to your personal network for referrals.

Once you get one person talking to you, make sure to ask them where you can find more people like them and ask them to introduce you to others.

Realistically, however, sometimes your ideal customers may be hundreds or thousands of miles away. In this case, consider making your presence known on online forums, participate in online webinars, and add a representative of your company to relevant social media groups.

However, this does not mean you should constantly spam the group with your company’s website and offers. Contribute to the community with valuable insights, demonstrate how your product can specifically solve members’ problems, and share engaging content–without being super sale-sy.

 

Fewer form fields on landing pages

Similar to two-click Facebook and LinkedIn lead capture ads, having fewer form fields on landing pages is decreases the amount of effort and attention a user has to invest into signing up, which will result in increased sign-ups and form submissions.

For this tactic, you should optimize your forms to only ask for information necessary to the registration process, like name and email address. For the additional information like company size, an address, or phone number, you can request that information during the onboarding process or at a later stage in your relationship with that user.

However, we should note that while this tactic may increase the overall number of leads, you could experience a higher number of low-quality leads, which is okay if you don’t need any pre-qualifying data to close a sale.

how to market b2b products

Fewer form fields on landing pages

 

Customer Conversion Strategies

 

Repeat the Primary CTA

Adding your primary CTA to the middle, the bottom, or to the sidebar of your website and landing pages is a simple way to increase conversion. It prompts visitors to click through after they’ve had a chance to read your marketing copy and know more about your product/service.

Moreover, providing the extra opportunities to convert–especially if you have a long landing page–removes the tiny bit of friction in scrolling back to the top of the page.

Primary CTA on Landing Page

Repeat Primary CTA on Landing Page

 

Referral Program for Current B2C Users

A study by Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany and the University of Pennsylvania found that referred customers had 25 percent higher profit margins and were 18 percent less likely to churn than other customers.

Promote your new B2B product to your current B2C customer base and incentivize them to with a referral bonus, an extended free trial, or some free swag. Not only will this generate high-quality leads, it will also mobilize some of your most loyal consumers to become brand evangelists.

 

Free Trial versus Demo Landing Pages

Run an experiment offering two different landing pages offering a free trial or a product demo and split-testing them with ads. This will help you figure out if you should be pushing your sales cycle towards demos or free trials.

Then, use data from your tests between landing pages to make data-driven decisions on what kind of copy and messaging to use. For instance, you can try A/B testing the offering different lengths of a free trial or try testing a video demo versus a live demo with an account executive.

A/B Test

A/B Test Free Trial vs Free Demo on Landing Pages

Personalized Sales Email Drip Campaign

Contact leads with an automated email drip from a personal account to create the impression of one-on-one interaction to drive sales. This lets you build a strong relationship with a potential user, and therefore book more meetings and demos. For cold leads, you can offer dynamic content pieces to better nurture leads in your drip campaign.

Email Drip Campaign

Personalized Sales Email Drip Campaign

 

Customer Retention Strategies

 

Mandatory Onboarding Tutorial

While a handful of users at a company may already use your B2C product, offering a B2B product means onboarding dozens, even hundreds of new users at once.

To encourage product adoption and user retention, block all other actions in your UI until a new user has gone through your onboarding tutorial. You’ll be able to guide new users through the proper usage of each part of your platform with a tour or demo.

Onboarding Flow

Mandatory Onboarding Flow

Tutorial Onboarding Email Drip

When onboarding new users, sending an educational email that explains how to use your product will help get them past a “how/why would I use this?” dilemma. This email can contain a brief outline of the key features of your product, how to use them, and a link to a detailed article where they can find additional information.

As an example, Asana does this tactic very well. They’ve designed their tutorial emails to teach users how to use their product to maximize their productivity at work. Similarly, each email should focus on one thing users must do to understand the value of your product or explain how one key feature works.

 

Step-by-Step Re-activation Email

Inactive users and users who signed up, but never used your product may want to come back but have no idea where to start. Start by them a step by step re-activation email where you guide them through the process of using your product.

You can include existing content, like blog posts, FAQs pages, product documentation, or contact information for your customer support team to create a workflow for them.

reactivation email

Step-by-step reactivation email

Feature Announcements

While your current product may be optimized for consumers, it may need continued development to meet the needs of large organizations and teams. Therefore, you may have potential customers interested in your product, but won’t fully convert until you’ve introduced a new feature or service.

If you do create such feature, send out an email to your users to inform them of the news.

This will reactivate potential buyers who may be stalled in your sales funnel while informing your current active users of what they can expect when they log in next. You should also highlight user-requested features to show responsiveness in development and attract users that may have dropped off due to a missing or broken feature.

 

Targeting potential users who may churn

Are you noticing a drop in weekly or monthly active users?

Are you seeing a spike in customer support requests from new users?

Start to analyze data on what leads to churn on your platform. Then, identify users ‘at risk’ of churning and target them with increased customer support, incentives, and discounts, or helpful content that can help alleviate their issues with your service.

Email targeting

Email targeting for users likely to churn

 

As a B2C product marketing company, marketing and selling your product to highly-informed B2B customers is a constantly changing challenge. Since 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process, B2B customers are actively looking for vendors that are knowledgeable about their industry and can provide the most effective solution to help solve their problems.

Use these 18 tactics to build trust with buyers, offer industry insights, and help prospects move through a complicated and lengthy sales process with confidence.

To access more than 800 actionable marketing tactics for every stage of the sales funnel for free, visit the Ladder Playbook.   

How HubSpot Ranked a Competitive Product Page in 3 Months (for a Product That Didn’t Exist Yet)

SEO is hard. SEO for product pages is even harder. SEO for product pages for products that don’t exist? Seemingly impossible. However, with the right approach, it’s really not much harder than ranking top-of-the-funnel blog content. In fact, the process can be scalable across multiple product pages and you can leverage quality content creation to […]

SEO is hard. SEO for product pages is even harder. SEO for product pages for products that don’t exist? Seemingly impossible.

However, with the right approach, it’s really not much harder than ranking top-of-the-funnel blog content. In fact, the process can be scalable across multiple product pages and you can leverage quality content creation to do so (not just a high domain authority or thousands of pages and user generated content).

At HubSpot, Scott Tousley and I took on the challenge of ranking product pages for products that are yet to exist. We did it through a traditional HubSpot content-heavy approach, and leveraged what is known as our Pillar & Cluster model (more details on this in a minute) to feed product page SEO (more details on the model in a bit). We also heavily invested in content promotion and link building tactics, which anyone can do, regardless of resources or company size.

The results in only 3 months (October through December 2017) were solid. Here’s an example of our customer feedback software page ranking at number 3 (above companies with live products):

In this article, I’ll walk through the higher level strategy of why we chose the approach we did, and then I’ll also dive into tactical tips to apply this knowledge at whatever business scale you’re operating.

Product Page SEO: An Indirect Content-Based Approach

It’s really hard to build links to product pages.

For obvious reasons, those writing content are not jumping in excitement to write promotional pieces with product links. Some opportunities exist, but not enough to outrank product pages that have been around for years and that have acquired natural editorial links with time.

Similarly, it’s not feasible to create massive content-heavy product pages. We needed something simple, because as I mentioned, the product wasn’t actually live yet.

So to get past those hurdles, we leveraged link equity and site architecture.

Specifically, we followed HubSpot’s Pillar and Cluster model and relied heavily on internal linking and external link building on our massive “Pillar” content.

Let’s step back and define some of those terms, because there’s a bit of jargon here that’s necessary to understand.

  • Link Equity: Also known as “link juice,” it’s the idea that certain links pass value and authority from one page to another.
  • Site Architecture: The planning and structuring of website content.
  • Internal Linking: Hyperlinking content within your own site.
  • Pillar & Cluster model: A model created by HubSpot that values topics over keywords to boost SEO as well as UX.

While some of it is speculative, there are some general heuristics when it comes to link equity that come in handy when it comes to ranking product or transactional pages. According to an episode of Whiteboard Friday, here are three principles for link equity:

  1. External links generally give more ranking value and potential ranking boosts than internal links.
  2. Well-linked-to pages, both internal and external, pass more link equity than those that are poorly linked to.
  3. Pages with fewer links tend to pass more equity to their targets than pages with more links.

With that in mind, we created massive guides for topics with lots of search traffic volume. These are our “pillar pages,” or in other words, our 10X content.

We expected these to attract the most links, and we directed all of our link building efforts towards these pieces.

We complemented these pillar pages with “cluster” content, articles with similar topic themes that focus on longer tail keywords. These linked back to our pillar pages as well as to each other.

Finally, on all of our pillar pages and our cluster content, we linked as high on the page as possible to our product pages.

Again, this is based on the HubSpot Pillar & Cluster framework, which looks like this, structurally:

Image Source

Or to get super specific, here’s the actual visualization we used to show our particular efforts:

As a specific illustration, here are three pieces of content we created that actually correspond to this strategic architecture:

This video does a good job explaining the general gist of the idea. Essentially it’s an architectural view of content creation, particularly for blogging and SEO:

This process of content planning is an iteration of website architecture, which is basically the “planning and design of the technical, functional and visual components of a website – before it is designed, developed and deployed.” It’s also a strategic method of content planning that helps build authority on specific topics.

Image Source

Organizing your site in a logical way isn’t just good for SEO, it’s good for user experience and navigation in general.

With that in mind, here’s how the specific process looked when it came to content creation.

 

Planning Content for SEO Volume and Easier Link Acquisition

To start, we aligned our content from the bottom up, meaning we knew which products we were attempting to rank and had to work from bottom-of-the-funnel up to the top.

So, let’s go back to our example, Customer Feedback Software.

We knew we’d have a product page for this where people could actually sign up. But from there, we worked backwards to research which terms commanded the most search traffic around that theme.

In this case, both Customer Feedback and Customer Satisfaction drove a ton of demand, so we created pillar pages for both of those that both linked back to the feedback software product page. Here are the specific pillar pages we ended up creating:

SEO research for the pillar pages also included comprehensive long tail keyword research based on questions we could answer on the broader topic. These longer tail keywords would eventually be spun out into individual cluster posts (i.e. blog posts), but also incorporated into the pillar content itself. Some of these posts included:

…and many, many more of course. These were more specific and lower search volume posts that complemented the larger themes of customer satisfaction and feedback.

So, for a post on Customer Satisfaction, we included sections on things like customer satisfaction software and how to improve customer satisfaction scores:

In addition, we aligned with our content team to create tons and tons of cluster blog posts that linked to and supported the themes set up by the pillar pages. An example is this blog post we published on customer feedback survey mistakes:

Finally, all of these posts – whether pillar or cluster – included product page links, and cluster blog posts also included links to our pillar pages (with exact match anchor text, as you can see above).

We also included CTAs on our pillar pages that lead to our product landing pages:

In all cases, no matter what type of content we were created, we sought to create 10x content, the kind you’d actually want to link to. Particularly with our pillar pages, this meant included linkable content “hooks,” such as:

  • Original data & stats
  • Original Images
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Quotes from influencers
  • Frameworks
  • Pros and Cons Tables

We tried to include anything we could that was outside the typical Wikipedia-style me-too content. We didn’t want to rehash what was already out there, we wanted to be better and different. So, for example, we designed our own survey examples, like this one for NPS:

Or, for example, for our Customer Feedback page, we included pros and cons tables to help visitors decide which type of feedback surveys to use:

Now that we had a solid base of quality content, we built out a distribution and link building process to make sure we rose in the rankings and got some eyes on the pages.

 

Building Links and Distributing Content

Link building is its own monster, and to do it true justice would require its own multi-thousand word blog post.

To summarize, however, we tried all the major link building tactics and some worked better than others.

Generally speaking, the ones that worked the best were the least scalable: they involved relationships that had been built over months and years. On a similar point, the ones that were the least effective were the ones that are the most popular and overused: Skyscraper Technique link building, HARO pitches, roundup posts, etc.

The most important part, in fact, was the process of discovering influencers and link targets to begin with. Since we wanted both high relevance and high authority links, we created a “bullseye” framework to distinguish between Tier 1, 2, and 3 targets.

  • Tier 1 – Blogs and influencers directly related to the Service Hub. These include bloggers who write about customer success and customer success practitioner. It may also include direct competitors to our tools.
  • Tier 2 – Blogs and influencers who are semi-related to customer success. Includes customer experience, survey tools, and user experience software & experts. It may also include other products that don’t directly compete, but they are still kind of related to customer success/support.
  • Tier 3 – Larger blogs and influencers who focus on broader marketing and business topics. Not super related, but due to high domain authority, still opportune link building opportunities (plus, there’s no competitive nature to these sites, so they’re more willing to link to us).

There existed an inverse correlation between our Tiers and the ease of link acquisition.

Tier 1 was the most difficult, mainly because most of the sites and influencers were competing for the same keywords. On the other end of the spectrum, large blogs that write on broad marketing topics generally weren’t too concerned about competing, so it was much easier to work with them.

 

Measuring, Optimizing, and Beyond

Measurement is important in SEO, and in marketing in general. You need to know if you’re moving in the right direction, and if not, how you can possibly remedy that or optimize your efforts.

To do that without going too crazy watching too many keywords, we followed only the spearheads topics of our content strategy using Accuranker. We figured that if we ranked these, the longer tail keywords and most specific cluster posts would easily follow (and if they didn’t, it would be easy enough to optimize them later on).

Here’s what a typical Accuranker report looked like earlier on in our efforts:

Which is much better than where we started, which is from scratch:

You can use other tools for this, such as Ahrefs and I’m sure a dozen more, as well.

If you’re operating at large scale and want to customize your reports more, you can build a homebrew tool, though if you’re just beginning in your SEO and measurement efforts, it might not hurt to start with a software solution so you can focus on your actual SEO execution.

Hopefully, you can choose a solution that allows you to get a weekly email report with your rankings. Peaking too often can be tempting but ultimately unhelpful due to natural fluctuations in SERP rankings (especially in the first few months of publishing content).

When you know your weekly ranking trends, you can spot early ineffectiveness and course correct.

For instance, our knowledge base guide wasn’t moving at all into the top 500, but all our other content was. So, we 1) added about 1000 words and more influencers quotes to our pillar page 2) changed the title and the H2 subtitles and 3) went super hard on link building to our pillar page. As of today it’s sitting at position 5.

Similarly, I saw that we weren’t ranking for the cluster article we wrote on “customer satisfaction surveys,” even though it was a few thousand words, and in my mind, quality content. We simply changed the title and the following week it was ranking.

Finally, we tracked user acquisition as well. You can and should be doing this anyway through your tool of choice (Google Analytics, Amplitude, etc.). As a result of our SEO efforts, our beta requests saw a sharp increase:

 

Conclusion

Good SEO is rarely the result of sporadic hacks and luck, rather, at scale and for acquisition, it’s the result of a solid process and playbook (just like any other aspect of growth marketing).

This playbook should have multiple components, ranging from content strategy and architecture to differentiated and compelling content creation and all the way to promotion and link building. All the pieces matter, some more than others depending on your specific situation.

For instance, a smaller authority site may have to put a lot more effort into content creation and link building that a large site like HubSpot or Shopify. It all depends on where your competitive advantage lies.

However, with a bit of strategy and content architecture, no matter the size or scale of your company, you can get product pages to rank and actually acquire users from SEO, not just top-of-funnel vanity traffic.

Why Product Marketing is the Growth Secret Weapon You Absolutely Must Have

If you’re not investing in product marketing, you’re probably not growing as quickly or as efficiently as you could be. We’ll talk more about that later, but for now, let’s answer this: What is product marketing? Product marketing is basically defined as the process of promoting and selling a product to an audience, to drive […]

If you’re not investing in product marketing, you’re probably not growing as quickly or as efficiently as you could be.

We’ll talk more about that later, but for now, let’s answer this:

What is product marketing?

Product marketing is basically defined as the process of promoting and selling a product to an audience, to drive demand and usage of that product.

There’s nothing wrong with that definition, but it massively oversimplifies what a product marketer does. A product marketer’s role revolves around the product, obviously, but the product is as much a tool that helps the marketer to market more effectively, as it is the thing the marketer’s trying to market.

Confused yet?

Stick with me, and, with the help of this presentation from Hana Abaza, Head of Marketing for Shopify Plus, we’ll show you what product marketing is, and why it’s the growth secret weapon you absolutely must have.

 

How Does Product Marketing Differ from Marketing-Marketing?

To really understand product marketing, it helps to learn how it differs from more general marketing.

Marketing-Marketing

Marketing is concerned with growing a brand as a whole. To do this, your average marketing manager will be involved in everything from brand awareness and website traffic, to brand messaging and public relations. They’re also likely to look at the whole sales funnel and launching campaigns that target potential customers at each stage of it.

Product Marketing

Product marketers, on the other hand, use the product as the catalyst for growing the brand. They must have a deep understanding of the markets surrounding the product or products in question (including competitor products). They also need to have an in-depth understanding of their audience – in particular, why they use the product (or products), where the product fails them, and how to talk to them in a voice they understand.

Product marketers also, unlike more general marketers, focus predominantly on the bottom of the funnel (although their insights should be fed back up the funnel). They typically think about customers more than they do prospects or leads.

These are the sorts of questions a product marketer needs to be answering:

“What are we building?”

“Who are we building it for?”

“How do we talk about it?”

“How do we go to market?”

 

They need to know:

  • What the product does
  • Who their customers are and why they would use this product
  • What language their customers will understand
  • How they get the product in front of the people that will use it

If they can do that, they’re not only in a far stronger position for marketing the product or products they’re assigned to, but they can actually enable the company as a whole to operate more effectively.

“Product marketing lives at the intersection of all these functions. It’s probably one of the most cross-functional roles you’ll see in an organization.” – Hana Abaza

 

But What Does a Product Marketer Actually Do?

We already know that the product is central to the product marketer’s role, and that they assist in growing a brand primarily by developing, improving, and promoting the product.

Despite this very specific focus, product marketers really do a bit of everything.

All of this:

And this:

And this:

Let’s talk about some of this in more detail.

Product marketers:

Position the Product

They figure out where the product sits in the market.

“If marketing is about making it easy for people to find, evaluate and buy your products, then positioning is about figuring out what your product is in the first place.” – Hana Abaza

To do this, you have to understand the context that frames your product. Do that and you can define all of these things:

  • Your pricing
  • Your customers
  • Your competition
  • Your brand
  • Your channel
  • Your message

That will help you figure out things like this…

…which will help you target the right people, at the right price point, with the right messaging.

And on that note…

…They Figure Out Messaging

Product marketers figure out the language people use when they talk about the product. They then use this to create messages that are easy for their target audience to understand.

In her presentation, Hana used Dropbox as an example – specifically, Dropbox as it looked in 2010:

Hana spoke about the fact that her mother uses Dropbox, and that her mother is representative of a not-insignificant segment of Dropbox’s user base.

Back in 2010 however, Dropbox alienated that portion of their audience with the language they were using.

I’m talking specifically about this phrase:

It’s unlikely that Hana’s mother, and others like her, would have understood what it meant to sync files, let alone how to do it. As a result, Dropbox was limiting its target market to people with a certain level of technical knowledge.

Dropbox today looks very different.

To help target users more effectively, Dropbox split their welcome page in two – one page for businesses, and one page for individuals. Select the ‘individual’ tab, and you’re presented with this – simple, direct, jargon-free copy that describes exactly what Dropbox does and how it will benefit the user, in language anyone can understand:

This is the sort of thing a product marketer can help execute.

They Create Spec Sheets

Creating a spec sheet is essentially a data collection exercise, in which information like that shown in the diagram below is collated into a single, easy-to-digest document.

Spec sheets might not look that interesting, but they play a key part in enabling a product marketer to perform their role more effectively.

They Consider Internal Communications

When adding a new product to a company’s existing portfolio, product marketers will be responsible for deciding how internal communications will play out – namely, when other departments and staff members will be told about the product, what they will be told, and how it will be told to them (including the method of delivery – i.e. email or in person, who will deliver the message, and the language that will be used).

They Help Plan the Launch

 

Product marketers will figure out what kind of launch your product necessitates. While I’m generalizing a little here, “types” of launches can typically be placed in one of three tiers:

  • Tier 1 – tell the world
  • Tier 2 – tell customers and prospects
  • Tier 3 – you probably should have had it anyway so just quietly add it in

They’ll then help formulate a plan for executing it.

And They Help Grow the Product Post-Launch

A lot of companies put all of their time, effort, and resources into developing and launching a product, and forget about the growth part afterwards.

A product marketer will help bridge that gap.

They’ll experiment with how to grow the product’s user base, and how the product itself can be leveraged to drive even more customers.

 

How Do You Know When You Should Invest in Product Marketing?

So far, we’ve offered up multiple reasons why investing in growth marketing is a good idea. That’s because, generally, it is. But it’s not for everyone – at least right now. In fact, get it wrong, and product marketing could actually do your business more harm than good.

“Bad product marketing can kill your company.” – Hana Abaza

So how do you know whether product marketing is a fit for you right now, and in what form?

You’re probably not quite ready for product marketing if:

  • People don’t understand what you do
  • Your employees don’t know how to explain what you do
  • Your current marketing isn’t working

Thankfully, those are all things you can change pretty easily (once you understand that they’re an issue, anyway).

If these things don’t apply to you, then you’re probably ready to adopt product marketing. To what extent, however, depends largely on the circumstances surrounding your product and company. More specifically, the size of your company, the complexity of your product, and the landscape it’s part of.

  • If your company is still very small, and your product or products are very simple, you probably don’t need to hire someone to work on product marketing specifically, but you should still consider the concept and what elements of it you can adopt using your existing resources.
  • If you have a really simple product but your company is growing, it’s probably a good idea to hire someone to work specifically on product marketing.
  • If your company is still really small but your product is really complex, again, it’s probably a good idea to hire a product marketer.
  • If you’re a big company with a complicated product, product marketing becomes an entire function that necessitates not just hiring a product marketer, but a team of people that can support them.

You also need a product marketer – or at the very least, a knowledge of product marketing – if:

  • You’re about to launch or start shipping something, but you don’t know how much to charge for it.
  • Your product’s about to ship but you have no way of telling customers about it.
  • Your sales team doesn’t understand the product they’re supposed to sell.
  • Your customer support team is getting calls about a new product on your website but they have no idea what it is.

 

So, Should You Be Using Product Marketing?

While there are some exceptions, as a general rule, yes, you should be using product marketing.

Having someone (or a team of people) who have a deep understanding of your customers and their relationship to your product is, for many businesses, the secret to growth – and not just growth for growth’s sake. A product marketer can assist in driving growth that’s sustainable and that maximizes profit.

The key to using product marketing as a growth lever most effectively, however, is to understand that it’s never “done.” Even once your product has become a success, product marketing should be something that remains in the background and that feeds into a culture of continuous learning, improvement, and growth.

Do you have any insights to add on why companies should be using product marketing, or how they can use it most effectively? If you have a moment to share your thoughts, you’ll find the comments just below:

How to Drive Bottom-of-Funnel Results From Your Blog

  Note: This article was written based on content and ideas shared by James Scherer from Wishpond in a webinar hosted on the Growth Marketing Conference webinar series. Before we make the decision to buy, we all go through a particular process. Marketers call that process the “sales funnel,” and it looks something like this: Image Credit It’s […]

 

Note: This article was written based on content and ideas shared by James Scherer from Wishpond in a webinar hosted on the Growth Marketing Conference webinar series.

Before we make the decision to buy, we all go through a particular process. Marketers call that process the “sales funnel,” and it looks something like this:

Image Credit

It’s essentially a simplified customer journey: the steps consumers take while deciding what to buy and from whom. At the top of the funnel are people who are yet to be exposed to your brand. At the bottom are people who are ready to buy; they just need convincing that they should buy from you.

Every stage of the funnel is important, but it’s towards the bottom of the funnel where things get really interesting. To maximize leads we need to target the top stages of the funnel, but our end goal – generating sales and revenue – only happens when we get those leads to the bottom of the funnel.

To do this, we have to nurture those leads. There are a number of ways you could do this but arguably the easiest, most effective, and most cost-effective is email. Email sequences, to be exact.

In fact, according to stats reported by HubSpot, leads nurtured with targeted content result in more than a 20% uplift in sales opportunities.

In a moment, we’re going to go through a tried-and-tested process for nurturing leads and driving bottom-of-funnel results from your blog; but first, let’s touch on one of the most important factors in creating blog content that converts:

Creating Better Content

Your ability to generate and nurture leads is dependent in large part on the quality of your content. After all, if your readers aren’t getting value from your content, why would they want anything else from you?

This means that if your content isn’t up to scratch, improving it is the first step in driving bottom-of-funnel results from your blog.

So what constitutes “better content”?

It should be long-form

Long-form content is more detailed than short-form, and, consequently, offers more value to the reader. There’s also more content for search engines to read and analyze, which typically translates to better rankings and more traffic.

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule as to what constitutes long-form content, most marketers agree that 1500 words and up is a good figure to aim for.

It should include images

They help illustrate points and break up text, making it easier to read. Use them.

It should feature examples

Simplify difficult processes with screenshots, or, failing that, easy-to-follow bullet point or numbered lists.

It should be actionable

Explain to readers how they can put the suggestions you make into practice.

It should feature new ideas

Be as original as you can. Try to avoid focusing on ideas and strategies that your target audience has heard 1000 times already.

The points it includes should be proven

Legitimize your points and arguments with real-world examples and case studies.

It should be personal and tell a story

Why have you written this content? Why should people listen to what you have to say on this subject? Personalize your content by framing it in the context of your story.

Once your content’s ticking all the boxes above, you should be ready to start using it to drive bottom-of-funnel results from your blog. Let’s talk about how.

Using Your Blog as a Lead Generation Tool

Before you can nurture a lead, you have to capture it. Your blog is doing the grunt work for you – it’s either driving people to the site, or engaging those that are already on it. Your next challenge is to learn a little bit more about those visitors by getting them to hand over their details.

  1. VIP demos

This tool is designed specifically to drive leads from bottom-of-funnel blog content. By this I mean content aimed at potential customers that are seriously considering buying from you.

To capture those bottom-of-funnel visitors, you need to enhance your content with CTAs (which might sit above, below or in the sidebar of the content, or in a pop-up) that invite the visitor to sign up for a one-on-one VIP product demo.

This CTA should take the user to a short form. Exactly what that form contains is up to you but in this context it makes sense to ask for the prospect’s name, email address, and industry.

Anyone who completes that form gets placed in a segmented email list which will trigger an email sequence designed to set up a date and time for the demo.

  1. Blog subscriptions

This tool can be used to drive leads at all stages of the funnel, although its effectiveness increases as prospects move down the funnel and become more familiar with your company and content.

Simply put, offering blog subscriptions as a lead generation tool works because readers will subscribe to get more of what they want.

As with the VIP demo tool, place CTAs above, below, in the sidebar of the content, or in a popup (or a combination of all four).

Image Credit

A short signup form should be contained within that CTA. All you really need is the subscriber’s email address, but for the purpose of lead nurturing it helps to get their first name, too. That said, if in doubt remember that shorter is always better.

“Every field you ask them to fill increases friction. The best thing you can do to improve conversions is to get rid of as many fields as possible.” Peep Laja, ConversionXL

Again, once a visitor completes the form they will be placed in a segmented email list and a sequence of targeted emails will follow.

3.Content upgrades

Content upgrades are an article-specific lead generation tool. By that I mean that each content upgrade is tied to the article it appears on. It’s especially effective when tied to in-depth content (or 10x content) and listicles.

Brian Dean explains in detail what a content upgrade is and how they work here; however, in short, they are a piece of paywall-hidden content that accompanies and enhances the article it’s linked to.

The upgrade itself could simply be the article in a downloadable PDF. Alternatively, it might be a downloadable checklist or “bonus” points or tips.

Image Source

Exactly what the upgrade is doesn’t really matter, so long as it genuinely adds value to the user. What does matter is that it’s being used correctly to capture that user’s details so they can be placed in the relevant email list, and the email sequence can begin.

The CTA itself is best placed within the article itself, like so:

Alternatively (or additionally) it can be placed below or in the sidebar of the content, or in a pop-up (just make sure to give the user a chance to read a good chunk of the content before pushing the upgrade on them). Once again, limit the barrier to entry by asking only for the prospect’s first name and email address.

Nurturing Leads through Segmented Email Campaigns

Using your blog as a lead-generation tool is only the first step in driving bottom-of-funnel results from it. Very few of those leads will be ready to buy, so you need to nurture them until they’re ready to make a purchase.

Segmenting leads

We already know that new leads should get placed in segmented email lists. There are lots of ways you might segment your email lists, but there are two we’re going to focus on here.

Leads segmented according to interest, and leads segmented according to industry.

Leads segmented by interest

The majority of leads will be segmented by interest only.

How do we know what a lead’s interested in?

We could ask them, but we know we need to keep our sign-up forms as short as possible. With this in mind, their “interest” would be dictated by the subject of the content they converted on.

For example, we can assume that someone who converted on an article about using Facebook in marketing is interested in social media marketing. They would then be placed in a list that ensures they are exclusively (at least initially) sent emails and content about social media.

Leads segmented by industry

When a prospect converts on a bottom-of-funnel content piece – like the VIP demo mentioned just above – we’re ideally going to want to segment them according to their industry. This is because you’re going to want to nurture them with emails that align the features of your product with pain points that are typical of their industry.

It will also help your sales team understand the prospect’s needs, so they can sell to them more effectively.

Unfortunately, to get this information, you’re going to have to ask for it. That probably means adding a third box to the signup form.

Nurturing leads

Once you’re successfully segmenting leads into appropriate email lists, you’re going to want to create the email sequences that will nurture them, and push them towards converting.

Let’s run through the email sequences you might create to nurture leads coming from each of the lead generation tools discussed just above.

VIP demo leads

Anyone who’s filled out a form asking for a product demo is either very near to, or at the bottom of the sales funnel. In this case specifically, the lead has stated outright that they would like a product demo.

This means your first email would ask the prospect when they would like the demo to take place (you can see a template for this and all email subject lines in the sequence just below).

Bonus tip: you can streamline the booking process by providing a link to a calendar that they book themselves straight into.

Needless to say, if the prospect converts as a result of that email, the sequence ends.

If they don’t, they should receive a follow-up email a few days later. You may want to personalize the follow up, in accordance with the prospect’s interests or industry.

Again, if the prospect converts, the sequence ends.

If they don’t, a third and final email should be received, again a few days later. You’ll probably want to personalize this one, too, with the prospect’s interest or industry. Another good trick is to begin the subject line “Re:” as a reminder that they have initiated the conversation by asking to arrange the demo.

Blog subscription leads

The first email a blog subscription lead should receive is a simple “thank you for subscribing” email. That’s all the subject line of this email needs to be, but again, you can see the template for this and subsequent email subject lines in the sequence just below.

Bonus tip: ensure whoever sends this email sends all of the emails.The sequence might be automated, but this goes a long way toward personalizing the interaction.

Email two sends the subscriber a piece of content that’s relevant to their interest, and that also demonstrates your product’s link to this and how it can help resolve the prospect’s (assumed) pain points.

This will subtly help funnel subscribers towards your product.

Email three should be a sales email, similar to the first email you might send to a VIP demo lead. You’re simply asking if they have time to talk that week about their subject of interest.

If they convert at this point, the sequence ends. If they don’t, they receive a fourth email.

Email four should be a case study that highlights the value your business can add to them.

Email five is sent regardless of whether or not the lead clicked through to the case study. This email should offer a discount. It should also offer a demo or call of some kind.

If the lead converts, then great. If not, they get sent to the general newsletter segment.

Content upgrade leads

The first email a content upgrade lead should receive is the content upgrade itself. This should be delivered the moment they request it (once again, you can see subject line templates for all emails in the sequence just below).

Email two should be an example article – similar to what you would send a blog subscription lead.

Email three should be a sales email – again similar to what you would send a demo or blog subscriber lead.

If they convert at this point, the sequence ends. If not, they receive a fourth email.

Email four should be a case study. It needs to demonstrate how your business might add value to the lead.

Email five should offer the subscriber free access to an on-demand resource like a webinar, video, or podcast – something with your voice on it, or better yet, your face. The idea here is to further the relationship the lead has with you before they receive the next sales email.

Email six should be another resource that helps educate the customer on your product’s link to their interests and pain points – for example, something like “proven strategies for success in [their interest].”

Bonus tip: the resource should highlight your product’s features and benefits through product pictures or (if it’s a tool) screenshots of it in action.

Email seven is a sales email – a discount or coupon. Add urgency with a time limit (seven days is fair). It’s also a good idea to send a reminder email 24 hours or so before the discount or coupon expires (assuming, of course, that the lead hasn’t converted).

Once again, if the lead converts, great. If not, they get sent to the general newsletter segment.

Bear in mind that all the suggestions above are just that – suggestions. Use this strategy as a guide for effective email nurturing, but remember that what you include in your email sequences, and how many emails you send, is totally up to you.

Do you already nurture leads using email sequences? Does your strategy differ from what we’ve outlined here? It’d be great if you could share your secrets and let us know how effective they’ve been – comments are below:

25 B2B Marketing Strategies You Probably Haven’t Tried

There are plenty of articles touting the importance of lead generation and building up your pipeline for your B2B marketing. It’s easy to get in a rut in your business and assume every strategy has already been done. But there are still lots of B2B marketing strategies out there that you probably haven’t heard of. […]

There are plenty of articles touting the importance of lead generation and building up your pipeline for your B2B marketing. It’s easy to get in a rut in your business and assume every strategy has already been done. But there are still lots of B2B marketing strategies out there that you probably haven’t heard of. If you’re one of the 78% of businesses that aren’t satisfied with their conversion rates, try mixing up your B2B marketing strategy with something different. Here are 25 ideas to get you started.

 

Ryan Farley

1. Use Autopilot for LinkedIn

“A tactic I’ve seen work is using Autopilot for LinkedIn to crawl mass numbers of profiles of your target audience. You put a click-baity headline in your profile, along with a call to action. Then, you can track clickthroughs and see who viewed your profile, and reach back out to them.” – Ryan Farley, co-founder of LawnStarter

 

 

 

Bill Widmer

2. Send Gifts

“Sending gifts is an incredible way to get on someone’s radar. It also plays on psychology and reciprocity – they’ll feel like they owe you something in exchange. Of course, I’m not saying send them something to try and get them indebted to you. That’s just being a ****. Don’t expect anything in return – just build that relationship, and it can naturally open up to greater opportunities, higher CLV, and juicy referrals. Everyone loves getting gifts in a world of junk mail and hiding behind screens.” – Bill Widmer, Ecommerce Content Marketing expert

 

Christopher Kelly

3. Handwritten Notes

“Sending handwritten notes to team members and clients goes further today than at any other point in history. There was a day not too long ago when receiving an email was exciting: Your computer would announce ‘You’ve got mail’ and you would run to see what had arrived. Today, a handwritten note cuts through the digital clutter and is received with a similar anticipation.” – Christopher Kelly, writing for Tech.co

 

 

 

 

Joel Klettke

4. Use Geo-Targeted Ads During Events

“I haven’t seen many companies running geo-targeted ads when events happen in their industry. I’ve had huge wins targeting conference hashtags and combining that targeting with geofencing that only hits people who are actually there, at the event. You can be hyper-relevant across multiple platforms, with just-in-time personalized offers and deals.” – Joel Klettke, Founder of Case Study Buddy

 

 

 

Hans van Gent

5. Empower Your Customers and Start a Dialogue

“A significant trend in content marketing has been the rise of audio in 2016 (podcast listening grew by 23% over 2015). With the release of Anchor 2.0 in March this year, it opens up a whole new way of empowering your customers and starting that dialogue with them in a unique way. And the beauty of it? The app is mostly still undiscovered territory for a lot of marketers so you can have the first mover advantage.” – Hans van Gent, Founder @ Inbound Rocket

 

 

Andrew Dennis

6. Upgrade and Update Your Marketing Funnel

“Upgrade and update your top/middle of the funnel content to build your email list. With this strategy, you take existing content that is ranking well and update or upgrade it in some fashion (add visuals, video, interactives, etc.) to breathe new life into the content and further improve or solidify rankings in a competitive space. Along with updating, add relevant CTAs and/or downloadables to drive email signups and build your marketing list.” – Andrew Dennis, Senior Content Marketing Specialist @ Siege Media 

 

 

 

Sid Bharath

7. Start with a Survey

“Instead of soliciting business through cold email, start with a survey. The benefits of this are two-fold. First, you get to collect data on your industry which you can publish as a content piece. Second, you essentially warm up those cold leads and you can move forward with a sales conversation without coming across as the spammy sales person.” – Sid Bharath, VP of Growth @ Thinkific

 

 

 

 

Brad Smith

8. Do Things That Don’t Scale

“Trying to get your foot in the door? Go old school with direct mail. While everyone else is getting ~1% spamming people on LinkedIn, direct mail recipients visit a promoted website 60% of the time (https://www.usps.com/business/pdf/FY08_DM%20Onl_Sales%20WP.pdf). And also visited the promoted website according to a USPS study (with first-time shoppers being the most influenced). “And one company has seen 25% response rates with companies making over $30 million a year.

So no, it doesn’t scale. Not at first anyway. But prove it on a small scale, and then get some free interns to hand-write mailing addresses for you. Make the unscalable, scalable.” – Brad Smith, Founder of Codeless

 

Ross Simmonds

9. Leverage Niche Communities

“One of the more unique B2B marketing tactics is leveraging niche communities like Reddit to build trust and credibility. Far too many marketers think that B2B marketers can only be reached on LinkedIn or at a conference – in reality, many C-suite executives are browsing Reddit just like the rest of us. If you can create content that relevant subreddits find interesting and valuable – opportunities await.”  – Ross Simmonds, Digital Strategist @ Foundation Marketing

 

 

 

 

Sweta Patel

10. Host an Awards Ceremony

“One of the most unique marketing strategies entails making people feel valued and giving them credit for the work they do. Most people don’t realize the value of people’s work in the company because they are so focused on task over humanity. Most workplaces require more out of individuals in this revenue and data-driven world. Sometimes it’s best to create a strategy that recognizes “rising stars” with their hard work. This is one way of winning credibility with them.

“One tactic is to put on a special awards night event that recognizes your prospects. This way you will win their trust. You can give them ‘special trophies’ and awards that acknowledges their expertise. The nominees can invite their fans and this will help you increase the reach in your business. For example, nominate your top 50 rising prospects and invite them to the award show to collect their prize and trophy with a speech at hand. Tell them to invite their fans for their big ‘spotlight’ ceremony. Make it a sophisticated event.” – Sweta Patel, Director of Demand Generation @ Cognoa

 

 

Patrick Whatman

11. Create Standalone Products

“I love seeing standalone products from companies trying to bring new users into their ecosystems. Followerwonk (by Moz) and the Headline Analyzer (by CoSchedule) are great examples. These are products that help people separate from these companies’ main offerings, but help to build awareness and recognition about the parent company. And they’re great for lead generation.” – Patrick Whatman, Head of Content @ Mention

 

 

 

 

 

Cameron Conaway

12. Send People a Value-Packed Slide Deck

“I’ve come to love Andy Crestodina’s conference-based approach. When he speaks he packs so much valuable content into his slides, too much to possibly cover during the talk, and he asks people to get him their business card after the talk so he can send them the slide deck immediately after the conference. I’ve watched hundreds of people wait in line just to give him their card.

“Then, in the email he sends, he mentions his blog and asks attendees, alongside the amazing deck he’s giving them, if they’d also like to subscribe. I don’t subscribe to many blogs, but I subscribed to his. When somebody completely over delivers like this it makes you trust that they will continue to provide relevant and valuable content.” – Cameron Conaway, Content Marketing Manager @ Klipfolio

 

Cara Hogan

13. Interview an Expert from a Target Account

“I got really creative in integrating expert interviews into an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. Rather than just interviewing an expert in your field, interview an expert from an identified target account.

“For example, if you’re selling to a mid-size startup, interview their CEO, VP of Marketing, or even one of the VCs who is a primary investor. Then, when sales approaches the decision maker for that account, they can send them a link to the interview you’ve done, giving your brand immediate credibility and clout. It makes every sales conversation immediately easier and more likely to end in a closed deal.” – Cara Hogan, Content Strategist @ Zaius

 

 

Rob Wormley

14. Use Live Video to Sell Products in Real-Time

“Using live video to build awareness, connect with more prospects, and actually sell products in real-time. We’re doing it with Climb and making it possible for retailers, brands, and influencers to make sales in real-time on Facebook Live. The future of selling online is all about engagement, entertainment, and experience.” – Rob Wormley, CMO & Co-Founder @ Climb

Kaleigh Moore

15. Create Interactive Content

“Use interactive content as part of a larger lead gen strategy, so the convo doesn’t stop after the quiz, but is further personalized based on responses.” – Kaleigh Moore, freelance SaaS writer 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Katai

16. Sell to Human Beings

“I strongly believe in 2 content marketing that is personalized and has a real business purpose. Don’t just create content because it’s trendy or cool, but create content because your audience needs it and wants it. Behind every “B” is a “H” from human. And we are not selling to businesses and brands, we are selling to human beings. And people buy from people!” – Robert Katai, Visual Marketer and Content Strategist @ Bannersnack

 

 

Will Blunt

17. Meet in Person

“It’s not unique, but it’s definitely underutilized… With a large chunk of B2B organizations obsessing over ‘inbound’ and content, we have forgotten about how effective a phone call or face-to-face meeting can be for building trust and closing deals. Use your content to build a base level of trust and credibility for you and your business.

“Then use your team to research and identify a short-list of your perfect clients (the information is all available online). Create a personalized profile of each them. Interact, engage and build a meaningful ‘online’ relationship. When the time is right, get that person into a meeting room or on a video call. Close the deal, be friends forever.” – Will Blunt, Founder of Blogger Sidekick

 

 

Ty Magnin

18. Send Retargeting Emails

“We send what I call ‘retargeting emails’ to people at companies who hit our site and don’t convert. It’s a nice way to engage a passive audience from their inbox.” – Ty Magnin, Director of Marketing @ Appcues

 

 

 

 

Benji Hyam

19. Show Leads You’re Sending Them Traffic

“Brian Swichkow of Ghost Influence taught me this one. If you’re investing in content marketing and want to get the attention of a company, include a link in the post to the company and add campaign tracking to the URL with your site name in it. For example: growandconvert.com/?utm_source=growandconvert&utm_medium=blogpostname

“That way, when readers of your post click the link, the company you’re trying to get in contact with will see traffic being sent to their site by your site. The company is more likely to have a conversation with you when they’re aware of you because you’ve sent a good amount of traffic to their site.” – Benji Hyam, co-founder @ Grow & Convert and Wordable.io

 

 

 

Devesh Khanal

20. Create In-Depth Data Analysis

“Consolidate data relevant to your industry, analyze it, and publish an in-depth data analysis article or study. Very few companies are doing this. Most are doing the same old ebooks and whitepapers. This is evergreen content that is linked to like crazy and shared easily. It’s content that turns you into a thought leader.” – Devesh Khanal, Founder, Grow and Convert

 

 

 

 

Shanelle Mullin

21. Use the Tools Your Ideal Customers Are Using

“Add a Chrome extension like Ghostery or use a tool like BuiltWith. You’ll then be able to see what tools your ideal customers are using. Build a list of those tools and begin reaching out to their content teams. Can you co-host a webinar together? Publish a new guide together? It’s an easy way to get in front of their highly aligned audience (often, by email), especially if you’re going to be producing a lot of content anyway.” – Shanelle Mullin, Content & Growth at Shopify

 

 

 

 

Kylie Ora Lobell

22. Write White Papers Around Pain Points

“White papers are excellent for the beginning stages of the sales funnel. They convince potential customers that your company is worth looking into, and can push them from being marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads.” – Kylie Ora Lobell, writing for Directive Consulting

 

 

 

Ed Zitron

23. Say Thanks in a Creative Way

“TD Canada Trust shared over 300,000 $20 gift certificates for their ‘TD Thanks You’ campaign. You don’t have to go that big, but thanking someone by giving something back to them resonates in a special way with consumers.

It can be as simple as a gift-code, which you’ll see small niche sites like dog treat site BestBullySticks do, or Opentable’s VIP program that gives points per reservation that eventually convert into gift certificates.” – Ed Zitron, CEO of EZ-PR.com, writing for Inc.

 

Margaret Austin

24. Introduce Your Employees

“Giving a face to your brand helps to engage your customers and give them a greater sense of trust in you and your services. We all like to see that there’s a real person behind the company image. This doesn’t mean showing everyone working studiously at their desks nor letting it all hang out at the office party. Create a friendly and approachable video revealing a day in the work life of one of your employees or get them to talk about what it is they do and what your customers can expect from them. And then do some good editing; a static talking head video is unlikely to hold anyone’s attention for long.” -Margaret Austin, writing for B2B News Network

 

 

 

Will Williamson

25. Use Dynamic and Behavioral Lead Scoring

“Knowing how prospects are likely to behave is as important, if not more so, than understanding ‘who they are’ as people. The two don’t always go together. By using information aside from the standard demographics (age, gender, pay bracket etc.), you’ll be able to make lead qualification work better for you.

“You’ll get a better understanding of where the lead came from, how they found your website, and the actions they’ve taken while on the site. This important information gives you an insight on what is involved with the journey of the buyer and what motivates your prospects. As an example, did they find your website through a backlink and go through every page on the site? Or did they enter the site from a search engine and go directly to your product page? Armed with behavioural data, you can set up a targeted email marketing programme that sends them relevant content based on behavioural triggers.” – Will Williamson, writing for JDR Group

6 Ways to Improve Your B2B Marketing Efforts

B2C marketing is, in many ways, pretty straightforward. You have a product. You need to get it in front of a large audience. This is how you plan to do it. All of us have experience in this area. We’ve all made purchases as a consumer. But far fewer of us have experience buying as […]

B2C marketing is, in many ways, pretty straightforward. You have a product. You need to get it in front of a large audience. This is how you plan to do it.

All of us have experience in this area. We’ve all made purchases as a consumer. But far fewer of us have experience buying as or for a business. That means that when it comes to marketing (of any type), we tend to fall back on the approaches we’re familiar with and have responded to ourselves.

Those at the top tend to do the same.

Marketing is for consumers. Business deals are made not through social media or content, but via direct sales approaches.

Except they’re not. Not exclusively. Not anymore.

Assuming that reaching out to decision makers directly is the only way to make a sale is an archaic way of thinking.

While things are changing (39% of the UK’s B2B marketers feel marketing is seen as ‘very important’ by their organization, with 33% saying ‘fairly important’) there are still so many ways B2B marketers could be leveling up their game.

Here are 6 things you can start implementing today that will help you generate more leads, more sales, and more revenue – without a direct sales strategy in sight.

1. Establish Your Buying Cycle

A typical buying cycle looks like this:

Image Credit

But there are many variations of it. Every business, and each of their customers, are a little different. Customers enter the buying cycle at different stages, with varying levels of knowledge. Some purchases are highly considered, while others are made on impulse.

While there’s no way to predict the process every customer will go through before buying, you can (and should) determine what your typical buying cycle looks like.

So how do you do that?

You can start by looking at the time delay between a customer’s first interaction with your site, and when they make a purchase. You can find this data in the Conversions section of Google Analytics. For ecommerce transactions, go to Ecommerce > Time to Purchase.

Or for all conversion data (i.e. goal completions as well as ecommerce transactions), go to Multi-Channel Funnels > Time Lag.

Next, try analyzing consumption of your online content. Are customers utilizing the resources you provide prior to converting? Which resources specifically are they using?

You can find this out in the Top Conversion Paths section of Google Analytics.

Most importantly, what interactions (if any) are occuring between you and your customers prior to a transaction taking place? Do they ask a lot of questions, or are they happy to buy without one-on-one assistance?

Together, all this information will help you determine the sales cycle your typical customer goes through. You can then use this knowledge to adapt your marketing efforts so that each tactic plays a part in moving customers from their current position in the buying cycle to the next.

2. Match Content to Customer Pain Points

What determines the content you create (assuming you create content, of course)?

Is it what you think will appeal to your target audience? Or do you choose ideas based on their perceived virality and potential appeal to publishers?

A quality content strategy will often incorporate content designed to drive shares, brand awareness, and links. Unfortunately, viral concepts that appeal to publishers rarely align with the needs of a target audience.

The best content strategies (this can apply to both B2B and B2C marketing) help customers and target customers overcome their pain points – at every stage of the buying cycle.

Don’t just carry out some brief keyword research and write articles based on industry-specific searches. Figure out what pain points your target audience faces at every stage of the buying cycle, and address these pain points in your content.

3. Push for Referrals

How do you approach customer acquisition?

Do you have a sales team sending cold outreach emails and making cold calls?

Many B2B companies don’t leverage their existing customer base enough – or at all.

They’ll invest heavily in acquisition strategies like cold outreach and on- and-offline advertising, but they won’t make use of one of their strongest connections to new customers – their existing customers.

Asking your current customers (your current happy customers) to refer others who they think may have an interest in your product or service is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to generate new business.

So how do you push for referrals in a B2B environment?

That all depends on your business model.

If you’re selling SaaS or a similar product that can be scaled with ease, use an automated referral scheme. This is where customers are automatically rewarded when they succeed in getting someone else to buy your product.

Better yet, create a viral referral scheme that rewards customers not just for their first referral, but for every referral after that, too.

This is how many of today’s most successful online businesses were built, including Dropbox and PayPal.

If you have an agency model or similar – i.e. your business depends on clients – your approach should be a little different.

In this context, an automated referral scheme would probably come across as impersonal, and is unlikely to get great results.

A better approach is to reach out to happy clients personally, and incentivize them to send others your way.

4. Integrate Marketing Channels

Effective marketing strategies are rarely comprised of different channels working in silos. Marketing is most effective when channels are integrated and teams are working together towards a shared goal.

This means ensuring different departments, teams, and staff members are communicating.

It also means tying their efforts together for maximum impact.

That could entail (but is far from limited to):

  • Enhancing content with CTAs designed to capture visitors’ details.
  • Encouraging people who sign up to your email list to follow you on social media.
  • Promoting content and other marketing tactics (webinars, for example) via other channels, such as email and social media.

Of course, the best ways for you to unify your marketing channels is dependent on the tactics you’re using.

5. Make Mobile a Priority

It’s pretty common knowledge that the majority of internet use now takes place on mobile devices – specifically, phones.

Image Source

But this isn’t true across the board. Some industries see lower mobile usage than others, particularly those which target a predominantly older market.

The same might be said of B2B industries.

It seems logical that professionals will be researching and purchasing business materials from the comfort of their office, using a laptop or desktop computer, but in actual fact, this often isn’t the case.

Decision makers are just as likely (or more likely) to research on mobile devices while they’re on the go, or during evening or weekend downtime, simply because they don’t have the time to shop during office hours.

This means making your website as mobile-friendly as possible is crucial. Even if the majority of your visitors aren’t on mobile, odds are a not-insignificant chunk will be.

That said, you can easily find out your exact mobile-to-desktop ratio in Google Analytics.

Just go to Audience > Mobile > Overview, and you’ll see a breakdown of the device types being used to access your site.

6. Automate Wherever Possible

One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve B2B marketing efforts (and many other tasks involved in the day-to-day running of a business) is to automate wherever and whenever you can.

Unfortunately, a lot of firms, especially those with a long history, are reluctant to move with the times. They’re happy to do things the way they’ve always been done because, well, that’s just how things have always been done.

They’re making a big mistake.

The right software can help you streamline processes by automating repetitive tasks. You can, for instance, speed up the sales cycle and avoid repetition and unnecessary interactions by storing customer data in a CRM.

You can then make these processes even more efficient by linking them together using an integration tool like Zapier.

The more processes you can automate, the quicker you can get the grunt work completed, and the better results you should get from your marketing efforts.

Do you have any other tips for getting better results with B2B marketing? It’d be great if you could share your ideas in the comments below:

10 Marketing Tools You Need to Have in Your Toolkit

How big a role do tools play in your workday? Anything less than “very big” is the wrong answer. Tools should be playing a prevalent role in pretty much everything we do at work. They help us be more efficient and effective at our jobs so we can make more money in less time. They […]

How big a role do tools play in your workday?

Anything less than “very big” is the wrong answer.

Tools should be playing a prevalent role in pretty much everything we do at work. They help us be more efficient and effective at our jobs so we can make more money in less time. They just make our lives easier.

But we shouldn’t be using just any tools. We should be using the right tools.

If you’re relying on tools that don’t fit your needs, are badly supported, or are antiquated, you won’t get the results you could be or should be.

While there’s no one perfect set of tools for everyone, here are 10 of the top marketing tools available today that you need to have in your toolkit.

 

1. Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is up there with the best digital marketing reporting tools, but it’s got an awesome USP: it’s completely free.

GDS pulls data from countless sources into one real-time, bespoke dashboard that looks good and is easy to share.

Everything from YouTube and Reddit, to SEMrush, Salesforce, and, of course, Google Analytics, is supported. Even Bing Ads can be connected in a few clicks.

While there are other reporting studios that pull in and display data in a similarly easy-to-digest format while offering more features and better support … did we mention Google Data Studio is free?

What does Google Data Studio cost?

We might have said this already, but … it’s free.

 

2. Mailshake

Mailshake is an intuitive, user-friendly platform designed to help you simplify, streamline, and scale cold outreach campaigns.

Choose from pre-written templates, or write your own personalized messages en-masse, then schedule or send emails in real-time. Mailshake also makes it really easy to create automated follow-up sequences, as well as monitor performance by tracking opens, clicks, and replies.

You can even leverage Mailshake’s API, and streamline workflows by connecting the tool to more than 1,000 other apps, including Gmail, Slack, and HubSpot CRM.

What does Mailshake cost?

Pay annually, and a basic package will set you back $22 per month, per user. It’ll cost you $29 if you pay monthly. Pro accounts (which offer additional features like A/B testing and conversion tracking) are $37 per month per user, paid annually, or $49 paid monthly.

 

3. Visual Website Optimizer

Any organization that relies on its website for even a small portion of its business should be constantly testing and optimizing with the goal of improving UX and increasing conversions.

VWO is an enterprise-level A/B testing and CRO platform that’s also suited to small businesses. It boasts state-of-the-art-technology, easy integration with a variety of popular third-party platforms, and the features you’ll need to plan and execute campaigns across whole teams with ease.

While there are more affordable A/B testing and optimization tools on the market, VWO stands out thanks to its intuitive interface and industry-leading technology, security, and support.

What does Visual Website Optimizer cost?

Pricing is bespoke, but you can set up a free trial or request a demo on their site.

 

4. Voila Norbert

Voila Norbert does the hard work of digging deep into the web in order to verify email addresses individually or in bulk. For an extra (nominal) fee, it’ll enrich your email lists en-masse by digging out data like contacts’ locations, job titles, employers, and social profiles.

It’s an invaluable tool for prospecting that’ll help you build better lists, faster. Voila Norbert’s email finding tool was elected the most accurate email finder out there according to Ahrefs . Whether you’re trying to reach out to influencers, build marketing connections or reach potential recruits, Norbert’s got you covered.

What does Voila Norbert cost?

Your first 50 leads are free. After that, you can pay-as-you-go (for $0.10 a lead), or save money and choose a prepaid package starting from $39 per month for 1,000 leads.

 

5. Zapier

With more than 1,000 apps supported, Zapier makes it possible to eliminate repetitive, data-driven tasks from your workload. This can instantly increase productivity and make you more effective at pretty much everything you do. Marketing is no exception.

Simply connect the apps you use, create workflows in a few clicks, and tackle your tougher tasks while Zapier automates the grunt work.

What does Zapier cost?

Absolutely nothing.

 

6. Right Inbox

Right Inbox does what Gmail doesn’t. This includes scheduling emails, setting reminders so you don’t forget to reply to important messages, and creating recurring emails that will automatically get sent on the dates and times of your choosing.

You can even attach private notes to email threads that only you can see (a priceless feature for those of us who struggle to keep organized).

What does Right Inbox cost?

The free version gives you access to all features, but limits you to 10 emails a month. Unlimited use costs $5.95 per month if you pay annually, or $7.95 paid monthly.

 

7. Grammarly

Error-free writing is essential to creating a professional image. Even something as innocent as an isolated grammatical error or a single sentence with sub-par structure can cause a prospect to question your credibility.

This is where Grammarly comes in. Just copy and paste a block of text into the tool, and Grammarly highlights spelling mistakes and grammatical mishaps, alongside other simple fixes that will improve the readability of your writing, including repetitive words, missing articles, and misplaced modifiers.

What does Grammarly cost?

A standard account (which does plenty) is completely free. Premium accounts cost between $11.66 and $29.95 per month, depending on whether you choose to be billed monthly, quarterly, or annually. For paid accounts, Grammarly promises to identify more mistakes and get you better results. You’ll also get access to its plagiarism tool.

 

8. Mention

Mention lets you listen closely to the entire web. See what’s said about your brand, anywhere online.

You can set filters to drown out noise, track how your share of voice and sentiment matches up to your competitors’, and benefit from detailed brand insights that are bespoke to your business.

What does Mention cost?

From $25 per month. That gets you a solo plan, which lets you create 2 alerts and notifies you of up to 3,000 brand mentions each month.

Small business plans start at $83 per month. Larger businesses and agencies will likely require a custom plan with bespoke pricing.

 

9. SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is a competitive intelligence tool that can assist with everything from competitor research to content promotion.

It’s essentially a pared-down version of Google Analytics for all medium- to -high traffic websites that anyone can view.

Sure, the data is estimated, but it’s generally not far off the mark (and short of hacking into a competitor’s analytics account, what better option do you have?).

The data it offers includes estimated visits, time on site, and bounce rate, as well as traffic source, visitor location, and top referrers.

There’s also a free Chrome extension, which is well worth plugging into your browser.

What does SimilarWeb Cost?

A basic account is free, as is the Chrome plugin. Enterprise plans are available and offer extras like historical data, keyword analysis, and mobile app engagement. Prices are available on request.

 

10. Easel.ly

Most of us aren’t designers, but many of us will benefit from being able to transform dull data and information into engaging visuals.

Easel.ly is a simple, versatile tool that enables pretty much anyone to turn facts and figures into visual content that people actually want to read.

What does Easel.ly cost?

Limited access is free, and pretty restrictive. Thankfully, a pro account (which gets you access to over 320 infographic templates, 112 fonts, and much more) is just $4 per month.

What other marketing tools do you think everyone should have in their toolkit? Let us know in the comments below:

Why Your Growth Team Needs Inbound and Outbound

Broadly speaking, marketing tactics can be placed into two distinct groups: inbound marketing tactics and outbound marketing tactics. Inbound tactics help potential customers discover you on their terms. This includes most forms of content marketing, SEO, social media, and email marketing (but only when the customer has specifically opted-in). Benefits of Outbound Marketing Outbound tactics […]

Broadly speaking, marketing tactics can be placed into two distinct groups: inbound marketing tactics and outbound marketing tactics.

Inbound tactics help potential customers discover you on their terms. This includes most forms of content marketing, SEO, social media, and email marketing (but only when the customer has specifically opted-in).

Benefits of Outbound Marketing

Outbound tactics are based around activities that involve the business reaching out to the customer. This can include cold calling, direct mail campaigns, and most types of advertising.     

They’re also often described as interruption-based and permission-based marketing – you can probably guess which one is which.

Outbound has fallen out of favor with many marketers in recent years, but this doesn’t mean making the first move with customers doesn’t have its advantages.

  • Outbound marketing can get you in front of huge numbers of people very quickly.

There’s a waiting period between beginning an inbound marketing strategy and seeing any results. From there, those results should (in an ideal world) keep improving over time.  

That’s a good thing, but if you need to get in front of as many people as possible as fast as possible – say, when you’re initially launching a new product or brand – you need outbound marketing.

  • It gets fast results (in terms of how quickly leads become sales).

Outbound marketing is designed to secure sales fast. It’s not about spending weeks (or even months) nurturing leads who aren’t sure what they want or when they want it. Get outbound marketing right, and you’re targeting people who are ready to buy.

With the right email, marketing materials, or a phone call from someone who knows and loves the product and can sell it, those leads could potentially become sales that very same day.

  • It’s easily scalable

Few, if any, inbound tactics get results immediately. This can make scaling pretty tricky. How do you know where is best to invest if you don’t yet know what’s working and what isn’t? Is it even worth scaling tactics that won’t generate returns for 6 months, 12 months, or more?

If you need to generate revenue asap, you need to scale up on the areas that are driving results now.

These are almost always outbound tactics.

Thankfully, they’re easy to scale. It’s not hard to send more emails, hand out more flyers, increase your presence at industry events, or make more phone calls. If any of those tactics are getting results, extend your reach and you can realistically expect the results you get to improve with it.

  • Direct forms of outbound marketing allow you to talk to customers, build relationships with them, and understand how you can market to them more effectively.

There’s no better way to build relationships than by talking on the phone, or better yet, face-to-face – activities that form the backbone of many outbound marketing tactics.

Relationships can be built using inbound tactics too, but there’s often a big difference in their type and quality.

When we talk about building relationships using inbound marketing, we’re generally thinking about how we can get customers to connect with us via the marketing materials we use – whether that’s social media, video, website content – or something else.

This can make customers feel affiliated with the brand and increase their loyalty to it, but it’s not going to result in the types of relationships that are created when we’re actually out there, talking to people directly.

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

According to HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report, 71% of companies primarily conduct inbound marketing.

 

That’s a significant chunk of businesses, so why are they doing it? When outbound marketing gets you fast, scalable results, why are so many companies choosing to decrease their use of outbound marketing tactics in favor of inbound activities?

  • Inbound gets more sustainable, long-term results than outbound marketing.

A well-written, long-form, evergreen blog post has the potential to drive traffic almost permanently (or at least for as long as the post remains on your site). The same can be said for other forms of content as well as things like influencer campaigns, and the overall impact of the work you do to build your brand.

In other words, the effects of inbound marketing don’t disappear overnight. Those results can be seen (and usually are seen) long after your investment stops.

Conversely, outbound tactics typically cause a spike in sales which quickly reverses when you stop spending.

  • It can effectively target customers at all stages of the sales funnel

Inbound marketing works across the whole buying process. Blog posts and other resources like ebooks and videos can be produced to target customers who know they have a problem but don’t know the solution, all the way through to customers who are considering your product but need a little more information before deciding to make their purchase.  

Email sequences (email marketing can be both inbound and outbound) can push potential customers through the sales funnel using contextually-appropriate information, content and offers.

Outbound marketing, on the other hand, rarely works unless prospects are already at the bottom of the sales funnel.

  • It’s preferred by consumers because it doesn’t interrupt their flow and targets them on their terms.

One of the biggest barriers to outbound marketing is consumers’ (and increasingly, businesses’) stance towards it. Outbound marketing is interruptive. Even if a potential customer is looking for this type of product, they might not want to talk about it with you, right now.

While this isn’t as much of an issue as some people would have you believe (more on this just below) it does highlight one of the key benefits to inbound marketing: you’re reaching customers on their terms.

Why Your Growth Team Needs Both…

The way most marketers think about outbound marketing has shifted. It’s frequently viewed as outdated. Many marketers think it just doesn’t work anymore – period. They believe only inbound tactics are worth their time and investment.

In fact, when asked what they think the most overrated marketing tactic is, 32% of marketers said paid advertising.

Image Credit

I think marketers with this mindset are missing out.

Outbound marketing isn’t the problem – it’s how we use it.

Traditionally, outbound marketers would relentlessly push their product onto prospects at all costs. It was largely seen as a numbers game. It didn’t matter whether a prospect was interested – get in front of enough of them, and someone’s going to buy.

This has (by and large), changed.

While we’re still reaching out to customers directly, we’re not focusing on what our product can do, but what it can do to help the customer. We need to overcome objections by understanding customers’ pain points and where our product fits in.

The result is a set of tactics that can drive great results alone, but are even more effective when used alongside an inbound marketing strategy.

Here’s why your growth team should be using both inbound and outbound marketing tactics.

  • It allows you to more effectively target every stage of the sales funnel.

To be as effective as possible at nurturing and converting customers, you need both inbound and outbound marketing. Restrict yourself to one or the other, and you can safely assume you’re either going to be:

  1. Missing out on sales from potential customers who are ready to buy but need the push of a direct sales strategy, or
  2. Failing to get in front of potential customers as they enter the sales funnel and are looking for information that will directly or indirectly influence their decision to buy

Instead, use inbound tactics to attract customers further up the sales funnel so you can capture their contact details, then leverage direct forms of outbound marketing to maximize how effective you are at nurturing and converting them.

  • It drives sales immediately.

Inbound tactics rarely, if ever, drive sales immediately. Sure, a solid SEO strategy could see you driving bottom-of-the-funnel visitors to your site, and a website designed with the needs of the user in mind could quickly convert them – but how long does it take to get to the point at which that happens?

SEO typically takes 6 months or more to even start getting results (although this varies a lot depending on the state of your website and your industry). Even then, results are not guaranteed.

If you need sales now (and most businesses do), you can’t be relying on what might be. You need to be investing in tactics that generate leads and turn them into sales quickly, alongside tactics that will drive sales organically later down the line.

The only way to do that is by investing in inbound and outbound growth tactics simultaneously.

  • It helps future-proof your bottom line.

Outbound tactics will drive sales and start lining your back pockets immediately

Executed correctly, inbound tactics will continue to generate sales long after you stop investing in them – in other words, they will help to future-proof your bottom line.

SEO is probably the best example.

Rankings in the SERPs change all the time, but if you’re consistently ranking in the top 5 positions, you don’t suddenly drop out the moment you stop optimizing your site and building links. That’s a slow process that happens over many months – even years – depending on the competitiveness of your industry, and how “ahead” you are of the competition when you give up on SEO.

This isn’t the case with outbound.

Almost immediately after you stop investing, sales will drop off.

Again, this isn’t a problem – as long as you’re also investing in long-term tactics that will help future-proof your bottom line.

  • It makes it easier to respond to the immediate needs of the company (i.e. to scale up or scale down).

Let’s say you’re looking to push for more sales of a particular product – maybe because it’s proving way more profitable than your other products. It’s easy to respond to this need by upping your investment in outbound marketing. You can’t do this if your growth team is reliant solely on inbound, simply because those tactics are so slow to get results.

On the other hand, you might find you need to slash marketing costs, but you’re worried about this move’s impact on your bottom line. Temporarily reducing your investment in inbound can allow you to do this. You can cut costs by reducing spending or pausing activities entirely, without seeing your sales impacted for many months (or more).

  • It can help you stand out from the competition.

Since so many companies are rejecting traditional outbound activities, competition for attention in these areas will have understandably dropped. Consequently, it’s easier to stand out and get prospects to listen to you.

By a similar token, if your competitors are using both inbound and outbound tactics, you need to be using them both too if you want to ensure you’re on a level playing field.

Do you prefer to use inbound or outbound growth tactics? Will you be adjusting your strategy in response to what you’ve read here? I’d love to hear your thoughts – if you have the time it’d be great if you could leave a comment.

4 Lead Generation Ideas To Rethink Your Strategy

Coming up with lead generations ideas and a subsequent strategy is not for the faint of heart. But, if you’re not consistently generating leads for your business, sooner or later you are going to regret it. Generating qualified, targeted leads is essential to the wellbeing of every business, but what are lead generation idea all […]

Coming up with lead generations ideas and a subsequent strategy is not for the faint of heart.

But, if you’re not consistently generating leads for your business, sooner or later you are going to regret it.

Generating qualified, targeted leads is essential to the wellbeing of every business, but what are lead generation idea all about, exactly?

What is a Lead Generation Strategy

A lead generation strategy is a set of marketing activities implemented to actively attract potential customers to your business to convert them into clients.

An effective strategy is structured in several stages and it involves different activities, from the generation of traffic, the acquisition of the lead and the conversion into a client.

The last stage of the process is clearly the dearest to most businesses, up to the point that 70% of marketers say that converting leads into customers is their top priority.

State of Inbound marketing
Even though converting leads into customers is what determines the final success of lead generation ideas, the real main challenge for most marketers, is to generate highly qualified leads in the first place.

In fact, when it comes to lead generation ideas and strategy, it’s easy to get lost in old ideas and obsolete best practices. As anything else in the online marketing space, lead generation strategies are subject to the exponential growth of the market.

Therefore, marketers need to adapt and be constantly looking for the most efficient ways to generate the best leads.

4 Lead Generation Ideas for the Best Leads

If you are one of those marketers, looking for inspiration to generate more qualified leads, these are 4 ideas that will make you rethink your strategy:

#1 CONTENT MARKETING

The “Content marketing is king” statement is now largely supported by numbers.

More than half of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority, and a 45% of them refers to content marketing as the most effective online lead generation strategy.

If that wasn’t enough, a research by Demand Metric shows that doing content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and it generates approximately 3 times as many leads.

effective content marketing

Photo from Search Engine Journal

That said, a content marketing strategy is not necessarily easy to implement since it includes a variety of content types that goes from blog posts, to lead magnet, videos, webinars, podcasts and so forth.

As you can see in the chart above, some type of content performs better than other.

But it’s important to consider that, as the market gets more and more saturated, the way people consume content changes.

Many marketers are investing a lot in video content for their content marketing strategy.

The numbers of active users on the two main video platforms, Facebook and YouTube, are a great incentive with respectively 2 billion and 1.5 billion monthly users.

Social Media activity

Monthly Active Users on Social Media

Regardless of the type of content you choose to implement in your strategy, the most important idea to take away is that quality content production drives quality lead generation.

Investing in producing original and useful content will set you apart from the huge amount of mediocre content shared every day.

#2 ONE-PAGER LEAD MAGNET

Offering content to download to website visitors, such as a lead magnet, is one the most effective strategies to drive leads to conversions, especially in the B2B industry.

The kind of lead magnet offered then becomes crucial.

Considering that most of the people are generally busy and might not have the time to read a 50-pages long ebook, a better option is to create a “one-pager” lead magnet, a very short document that cuts straight to an ultra-specific solution to a very specific problem that your readers have.

The goal is promising your leads solving that problem by giving them a practical list of things to do or by giving them practical tools to make their life easier.

A few examples of one-pager lead generation ideas are:

1. Checklists

A checklist is a list of actionable points that your audience can follow and apply to grow their business in some aspect (eg. how to us drone footage for real estate marketing videos)

2. List of tools

A list of tools is simply a list of resources to increase a prospect’s ability to level his business up or simplify his day to day work-life (eg. a collection of online tools or services free to use).

3. Mindmap

A mind map is a simple way to visually organize information and to help someone to better understand a process so that they can go through it by themselves. It is like a flowchart, where people are guided step by step to a procedure that will get them from point A to point B (eg. how to properly set up an e-commerce store).

4. Templates

A template is a pre-designed model to produce a more effective, nice-looking and professional output. They are usually highly appreciated because they are easy to customize without needing technical skills (eg. sales email template).

#3 QUORA & MEDIUM

Diversification is key to succeed in the lead generation game.

Today’s online market allows marketers to leverage different channel of communications to attract potential clients, for example by answering questions or participating in communities threads with valuable insights.

Two rapidly growing platforms to implement this subtle marketing strategy with the goal to generate qualified leads, are Quora and Medium.

Both platforms are largely populated by highly educated people, but for different purposes:

Quora

Quora is a community where you get to answer the most relevant questions about your industry.

To understand its huge potential for lead generation, it’s important to consider this data: 55% of consumer would pay more to have a better customer experience and “89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service”.

That says a lot about how much customer service weights to the success of a business relationship.

On Quora, potential customers are constantly asking for help about some issues that they are facing.

A tremendous opportunity for marketers to serve them, simply by providing useful answers, before they even know about your business. A very effective strategy to win their trust since the very beginning.

A few tips for an effective Quora lead generation ideas are:

Optimized profile

The first thing users do after receiving a good answer from a contributor is to check his/her profile.

It’s important to optimize your profile to inspire trust.

Use a nice picture and edit your description, by sharing few words about yourself and the company you work for.

The profile can be edited similarly to the home page or welcome page of your website, including social proof, collaborations or particularly important achievements in your field of specialization.

Also, add some link to your landing pages, courses or free resources to drive traffic to your best content.

Include as well your social media contacts so that people can find you outside of Quora.

Last but not least, make a promise of how you can bring value to the community.

Straight-to-the-point answers

Most people on Quora are simply looking for the best advice in the shortest amount of time.

The best practice to succeed on it is to answer specifically to the actual question by cutting straight to the point you want to make.

Answers including bullet points and short paragraphs usually perform better and receive the most upvotes.

Consistency + Tracking

Consistency is important on Quora, to establish your authority in the crowded user base of 100 million people.

By consistently providing valuable answers in specific categories related to your niche market, there is a good chance to end up among the “Most Viewed Writers”, which reinforce your position as a leader and generate more traffic to your profile/website.

Track the traffic with UTM links to understand what specific article you linked is performing better, and leverage it more as you continue your activity on Quora.

Medium

Medium is trending social media platform that is steadily gaining its spotlight as a place for marketers to share their content.

The power of the platform lies in the fact that, unlike sharing blog posts on your company’s website, on Medium you are part of a community where people can discover your content or have it shared on their personal feed, if its relevant to their interests.

Share good stories

As an increasing number of businesses have access to online advertising platforms and social media communication, marketing messages are more likely to fall flat under repetitive generic words and expressions.

Medium, on the other hand, gives the publisher the quite unique opportunity to break free from the usual pattern and actually share real stories and insights around the business.

Since the platform rewards quality sharing, writing stories about “behind the scenes” insights on how your company had to deal with some initial struggles, how it adapted to new circumstances or how it managed to succeed and accomplish positive results, it’s likely to pay off.

The reason why stories can have a huge impact on other people, sometimes more than any other marketing message, is that stories allow other people to understand the emotions and the “why” behind your company’s efforts.

Focus on the important metrics

The stories on Medium are shared in order of quality and interestingness according to the number of “Claps” and views but and the “Read Ratio”, meaning how long people have read about the story.

However, longer articles tend to have lower “Read Ratio” compared to short articles, but they can generate more “Fans” and therefore be considered of higher quality.

A general rule of thumb is to write stories that range from 400 to 2000 words, but remember that value beats any metric.

lead generation stats

Medium

Get published

Depending on what kind of business you run, you can push to publish your stories in one of the many highly targeted Medium publications.

There are two ways to achieve that, the first one is to simply being picked by the publication itself, the second is by outreaching to them.

In any case, a fair amount of time should be spent reading and confirming your writing style to the editorial guidelines of the publication you are interested in.

Call people to act

Every time you craft a good story to share, insert some call to action in the middle of the story and at the end of it.

A call to action can be a link to drive people back to your website or simply the request to give a “Clap” to the article (the way people can show appreciation on Medium, similarly to the like on Facebook).

Since the platform itself is not meant as a way to promote yourself, generally speaking, always use informal and sincere copywriting to do that.

If used correctly, these two social media platform can generate a lot of quality traffic to your website.

Even if 96% of your visitors are usually not ready to buy from you yet, bringing them to your website from places like Quora and Medium catalyzes the process to convert them first into leads and then into customers.

#4 LIVE EVENTS

Another lead generation idea is online. Online is a source of value for many businesses but combined with offline events it doubles its power.

Organizing business meetups, workshops or any kind of events around your niche market by using Event Management Software such as Eventbrite, is a solid way to generate new qualified leads.

People attending your live events show a strong interest in what you do.

lead generation at live events

Live Event Metrics

To take the most out of live events, it’s important to set up email marketing campaigns before and after the event.

Normally, the people subscribing to the event list by buying the ticket, only receive a confirmation email with their ticket attached. It’s a good idea to warm things up by sending a welcome email right away after their subscription.

Then once the event is over, right when the lead is engaged the most, it’s crucial to send a follow-up email to sell your product or service, maybe with a special discount offer.

The best way to do this is to automate your email communication by syncing your Event Management software to your Email Marketing software so that you don’t have to do it manually.

A Successful Lead Generation Idea Into A Strategy is Not Built Overnight…

But implementing the right ideas can really make a big difference for a business growth and revenues.

In an increasingly competitive market, the goal should always be to work smarter and not harder.

These were 4 tested and new-fashioned ideas to consider, but of course, there are hundreds of them so you can implement, depending on the kind of business you’re involved with.

20 Marketing Experts Share The Growth Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2018

  With 2018 fast approaching, we asked 20 marketing experts for the growth marketing trends, tactics, and strategies they see taking center stage in 2018. We’ve organized their responses into 7 categories: SEO/Content Data and Analytics Paid Acquisition Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Video and Live Streaming Other Channels and Strategies General Growth Marketing Check […]

 

With 2018 fast approaching, we asked 20 marketing experts for the growth marketing trends, tactics, and strategies they see taking center stage in 2018. We’ve organized their responses into 7 categories:

  • SEO/Content
  • Data and Analytics
  • Paid Acquisition
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Video and Live Streaming
  • Other Channels and Strategies
  • General Growth Marketing

Check out some of the folks below Thursday, December 7th at the Growth Marketing Conference in San Francisco! Click here to buy your ticket.

 

SEO and Content

Brian Dean

 

The big SEO trend in 2018 will be Google’s AI algorithm. The days of a bunch of nerdy engineers turning the dials at Mountain View are fading fast. Instead, Google’s AI program (RankBrain) is figuring out if users are satisfied… and shuffling around the search results accordingly. That said, links, on-page SEO, keyword research and the other “traditional” SEO strategies will still be important. But they’ll be less important as time goes on. – Brian Dean, Backlinko

 

 

 

Casey Armstrong

SEO Tip: At its core, SEO is about content and links. Stop trying to re-create the wheel and stop reading so many blog posts. Dive into Google Search Console, see which high intent queries you are getting volume, but have a poor impression-to-click ratio, and optimize accordingly.

SEO Trends: Both of these have been around for a bit, but semantic relevancy and snippets will continue to be huge in 2018. These both take some creative “hacking” or knowing where to look, but can provide step function lifts in your organic traffic and allow you to leapfrog competitors with stronger domains and backlink profiles. – Casey ArmstrongBigCommerce

 

 

 

Tim Ash

There is no ‘best” on-average website for all visitors. Copying your competitors is never a good idea, because you do not understand key aspects of their business model, audience, brand strength, or strategy.

So what is the right answer?

You need to actually listen to your site visitors. The best way to do that is to pay attention to what they do on your site. Based on this information, you can change the site experience in real-time. Personalization can pay huge dividends because it makes the visitor feel special and dramatically increases relevance for them. – Tim AshSiteTuners

 

 

 

Lars Lofgren

 

AMP isn’t gaining headlines or a sexy growth hack right now but it’s not going away, it’s steadily gaining steam. In the SEO world, I wouldn’t be surprised if AMP moves from a “nice-to-have” to a “make-the-switch-right-now” over 2018-2019. Even though giving Google control of our site makes me super nervous over the long-term, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a deal with the devil that I’ll get forced into signing. – Lars LofgrenI Will Teach You To Be Rich

 

 

 

Barron Ernst

It’s more important than ever to make sure you do a good job targeting email based on actions and other elements of personalization. The era of the generic newsletter is over and click thru rates continue to decline for it. It’s key that the message has some relevance to the customer and addresses their specific user behavior within your product. And you should tie your email to a specific business outcome, not just to clicks on the email.

Also, people still don’t understand the basics of deliverability. Spend time understanding why you need multiple IP addresses, how to monitor inboxing across various ISPs, and what leads to bad and spammy emails. Make sure you are spending the time to deeply understand what drive success of emails hitting people’s inbox. This is especially important if you are growing and changing email providers. It’s very common for this transition to cause problems as you transition your IP addresses, sending domains, and get started on a new email service. – Barron ErnstShowmax/Growth Consultant

 

 

Dominic Coryell

 

I’m a big fan of Zaius for email marketing right now. They take a B2C CRM approach which allows me to easily spin up behavioral emails based on a seemingly unlimited # of micro-segments. – Dominic CoryellGrabr

 

 

 

 

Data and Analytics

Benji Hyam

 

I hope more companies will move from a last-touch attribution model to measure ROI from channels, to a first-touch and last touch attribution model. Last touch isn’t a good representation of what drove a potential customer to take action or make a decision. By also taking first-touch attribution into consideration, companies will get a better idea for what channels influence a sale and be better at allocating budget. – Benji HyamGrow and Convert

 

 

 

Melinda Byerley

 

Google Analytics + Salesforce integration could be a game changer for B2B Marketing. Attributing marketing spend in sales-driven organizations is a perennial challenge, and the connection between the two platforms is notoriously difficult and error-prone. We’re optimistic about this opportunity and encouraging our B2B clients to explore it as a top priority in 2018. – Melinda Byerley, Timeshare CMO

 

 

 

 

Nate Moch

 

Building a platform that can tie together all of your data across channels is going to be a fundamental requirement to growth. The future of growth is in machine learning as it will be used for everything from personalization to activation, from content to marketing. You can’t take advantage of the potential of machine learning without access to all of your data in one place. If you haven’t invested in your data infrastructure, make it happen in 2018. – Nate Moch, Zillow

 

 

 

Paid Acquisition

Logan Young

 

Optimize your content for mobile. Not only are users viewing content on their mobile devices at an increasing rate, they’re also becoming more comfortable going through the entire purchasing process from their smart phone (as opposed to switching to desktop to buy). Shoot vertical videos, use images/headlines that have stopping power, don’t ask users to leave social and go to a site with bad loading time since most are using data and will abandon the request if load time is longer than 3 seconds.- Logan Young, BlitzMetrics

 

 

 

Brian Rothenberg

 

Paid acquisition will continue to be a viable tactic for many, and a required one given the diminishing reach of organic social and other platforms. Competition is increasing, so CPMs and CPCs are as well – this will require the most successful paid marketers to better leverage data (ideally first-party data for segmentation and lookalike audiences), and/or to better monetize their services which in turn enables higher spending via paid acquisition. Paid acquisition is a tool in the toolkit, but don’t let it be the only one — if you do, the only long-term winner is going to be Facebook/Google. – Brian RothenbergEventbrite

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Will Bunker

 

The cost of doing machine learning is really low. All the algorithms are available on open source and cloud platforms. It is a matter of finding the most interesting data to use for insights. The data can be trained to better identify who has a higher probability of being a great customer or predict churn and allow companies to be proactive. – Will BunkerGrowthX

 

 

 

Conor Lee

 

The most hyped thing ever. Few teams have the talent resources necessary to really apply it. – Conor LeeHipLead

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Siu

 

Using a tool like Automated Insights can help you crank out unique content at scale (that doesn’t sound like a robot). – Eric Siu, Single Grain 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oli Gardner

 

Machine learning and AI will create smarter systems. If they are exposed via APIs that will empower the growth marketer even greater acceleration and experimentation potential. – Oli Gardner, Unbounce

 

 

 

Video and Live Streaming

Dennis Yu

 

Video will become central to the modern marketer’s strategy– not some side thing or freelancer project. Central means that the company produces video as their primary form of content, produced by the company themselves (not hired actors), and edited by an in-house team. – Dennis YuBlitzMetrics

 

 

 

 

Tony Tie

 

The boom of live streaming is going to heavily depend on internet bandwidth and improving speeds. I don’t know if we are going to make leaps in access and speed in 2018, but the moment the streaming experience is as seamless as a prerecorded video, it will take off. – Tony Tie, Expedia

 

 

 

Other Channels and Strategies

Todd Wilms

 

One of the bigger challenges for marketing is internal not external – the sales organization. “He Said, She Said” in-fighting over leads kills the pipeline and only leads teams to play it safe. Build alignment by have shared goals (revenue, touches to closure, lead to closure duration, etc.) that both teams own and share responsibility. You are one big team driving growth so act like it. – Todd WilmsThe Consultant’s Collective

 

 

 

Sean Work

Focus on improving your brand. Work on improving your image, trust and authority. This is the stealth CRO hack that no one can steal from you and it will improve your conversion rates across the board. When people are familiar with your brand and your brand looks/feels sharp, trustworthy, friendly (and not some fly-by-night operations)…guess what? You’ll close more deals, sell more products…..you’ll grow! – Sean WorkCrazy Egg

 

 

 

Sean Sheppard

 

Be pro-active and lead your customers to their desired outcomes with actionable insights. The most successful companies generate the majority of their revenue with existing customers. Find ways to grow with them! – Sean Sheppard, GrowthX

 

 

 

 

Ryan Kulp

 

If you build a chatbot, make sure the customer knows this is a bot. NO bots are good enough to “trick” people into thinking they’re real… that’s called ‘Passing the Turing Test’ and Facebook Messenger won’t do this anytime soon. Instead, make your chatbot so *obviously* a chatbot, that your prospects and customers will get a “kick” out of interacting with it. –Ryan Kulp, Fomo

 

 

General Growth Marketing

Ada Chen

 

There are certain marketing channels that are incredibly specialized like paid marketing, email marketing, and SEO where a world-class practitioner is worth their weight in gold. As growth marketing matures, I think we’ll see less generalized ‘growth marketing’ roles in teams and more focus on building teams with channel experts. – Ada Chen, Notejoy

 

 

 

Brandon Redlinger

The majority of companies will get growth wrong. Instead of focusing on “how can we build a better product and deliver more value to customers,” the focus will remain internal. They’ll still be trying to figure out “how do we get more money from our customers?” The allure of VC money and front page headlines that our society so prizes are only distractions. As a consequence, they will miss the real revenue opportunity.

However, I’m very bullish on the growth marketing movement in the long run. I think companies will wise-up. The smartest companies will re-think roles, responsibilities, and relationships of the growth marketers, and they will be given more responsibility for the customer experience. – Brandon Redlinger, Engagio

 

 

Hana Abaza

 

I think it’s never been harder to move the needle. It’ll be less about tactics and hacks and more about sustainability and actually deliver something your audience wants. – Hana Abaza, Shopify Plus