Monthly Archives: June 2016

Market With a Mission

Start Targeting the Right Accounts for your Business

A little over a decade ago companies realized the need for more personalized marketing. Consumers of all types started craving a more personalized buying experience and the ways of marketing had to change so those expectations could be met. Creating a personalized buying experience required marketers to figure out how to take a more strategic approach in defining and going after key accounts. This is where Account Based Marketing (ABM) came into play.

So we understand that this personalized buying strategy has been around for quite some time. In 2004, Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) coined the official term we’ve been hearing a lot of, Account Based Marketing. ITSMA defines ABM as “focusing explicitly on individual client accounts … it is a collaborative approach that engages sales, marketing, delivery, and key account executives toward achieving the client’s business goals.”

3 Steps to a Successful ABM Strategy

This year SiriusDecisions released its State of the Account-Based Marketing survey, stating that over 90% of marketers recognize the value in ABM. So the question is, is ABM just the new hype or the next big thing? Although it’s been around for a while, a lot of focus is being put on this trend in today’s marketing efforts. And why wouldn’t it be? By targeting a defined list of accounts, ABM provides several benefits including putting time and effort into accounts that will give you business. Your list of accounts should be companies that you’ve vetted and determined will not only be a good fit for your business, but will also more likely buy from you. If they have no intention of ever becoming a customer of yours (for any number of reasons), why waste your time? A good ABM strategy starts with 3 steps: identify, market, measure.

Identify

Determine your target accounts and build a targeted account list by clearly identifying who can generate true revenue for your business. ABM is all about targeting specific accounts so research and know your target audience, inside and out. Here are a few questions you should be able to answer about your target audience:

  • What’s happening in their industry?
  • Who are their top competitors?
  • What have they done in your space to date?
  • Who will be key people within their company with whom you need to interact?

Market

DemandBase held a summit revealing the results from the SiriusDecisions survey that indicated more than 70% of B2B companies have staff dedicated to driving ABM specific programs. So once you know your target audience like the back of your hand, it’s time to get to work. Build behavior-based campaigns and approach your contacts in a very direct, personalized manner. Your campaigns should include personalized content and other messaging that targets each account’s needs, history, challenges, etc. A seamless experience should happen for your accounts regardless of who they speak to within your business. You must also align sales and marketing and ensure everyone is on the same page. Your ABM action plan needs to be understood across the board.

Measure

Whether you’re in sales, marketing or some other aspect of the business, you already understand there are always going to be successes and failures to any plan. After your ABM plan is up and running, it’s important to get your sales and marketing teams back together and review what worked and what didn’t. Your ABM strategy can only go up from there. Some conversation starters post ABM campaign may include:

  • Major points (strong and weak) that occurred during the process
  • How many accounts did you acquire?
  • What are the shared characteristics of each acquired account?
  • What were you great at?
  • What were you not so great at?
  • How will you improve next time?

As we move deeper into the digital age and continue to uncover the power of personalization, the ABM approach will undoubtedly become increasingly valuable in how marketing and sales teams operate. We’re already hearing that 84% of B2B marketers say that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other approach (ITSMA).

A Marketing Tool that Fits your Goals

Now that you have an ABM strategy in place, what about the tools needed to help? You may not necessarily need an Account Based Marketing specific tool but rather a marketing solution that assists with your ABM strategy and encompasses your overall marketing goal. As a marketer, proving the value of your efforts can be hard enough so the last thing you want is to be stuck with inadequate technology. Almost half (47%) of companies say they don’t feel their ABM teams have the necessary skills for ABM and their marketing teams need more support to succeed in ABM (SiriusDecisions). The best practice for implementing this strategy is to be open and honest with your vendor and ensure there are ways within your marketing tools to perform tasks that support your ABM goals.

Old News, New Buzz or Something in Between?

Account Based Marketing may not be an old soul, but it’s definitely not the new kid on the block either. It’s a well seasoned strategy that with newer and more innovative technology, is now getting a lot of hype … as it should. There are new ways to target specific accounts and directly reach out to them. With the B2B marketing industry continuously evolving, marketers must get hyper-focused on creating ideal customer profiles and identifying the best-fit customers and prospects for their business. It’s time to invest in sophisticated marketing automation technologies that can enhance your strategy.

The Beginner’s Guide to Content Experiments

Testing and optimizing content is extremely important to your marketing strategy. No matter how small or large your team is, optimizing content can generate the same or even more leads than brand new content.

In a study from HubSpot, one marketer managed to double the amount of monthly leads from the blog by optimizing old posts. Double. That’s a lot of new leads. They also increased organic search volume by 106%. Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO is the future of marketing and can be implemented across all channels.

We are going to walk through the steps required to run experiments, get results, then implement them to improve CRO for landing pages, email, social, or any medium that allows for experimentation.

Step 1: Identify Your Objective

What are you hoping to learn from this experiment? Take a moment to thoughtfully come up with the objective for your experiment. This will guide what your variations will look like and how you will determine if the experiment was successful.

Not all experiments need to be quantitative (numbers-based.) You can use experiments to map your buyer personas or find your brand’s voice. Not sure where to start? Try one of these landing page experiments as a first pass.

Examples:

  • Identify the effect that a new onboarding process has on your product
  • Test out a new channel for user acquisition
  • Determine your audience for a new paid campaign

Step 2: Propose a Hypothesis

What do you think will happen during this experiment? Here, you can put together an idea of what you think will happen, much like in the scientific method. Maybe you have a hunch that updating the copy or form placement on a landing page will yield a much higher conversion rate. Only way to find out is to test this theory. Trying and failing is much more productive than never trying at all.

Examples:

  • Changing the button on our form to a more actionable phrase will increase conversion rates
  • Using social media as an acquisition channel will bring in new users
  • Sending our emails at 10 am will have higher open rates than sending at 2 pm

Step 3: Determine and Create the Experiment Design & Variations

This is the part where you come up with the experiment’s design and test variations. Typically, you will keep one control, meaning the element that remains the same throughout the experiment. This is how you will prove the test’s effectiveness. Then, you can create a variation (or multiple variations) to test against the control. Don’t forget to track everything.

Here’s a handy worksheet to keep everything together >>

Examples:

  • Create 4 different versions of a landing page, then show site visitors the 5 versions (including the control) for 3 weeks to see which results in the highest conversion rate
  • A/B test sending the same email at different times of day with a group large enough to yield significant results
  • Interview 50 current users and gather demographic and qualitative data about them, then analyze the data in your contacts database to find the most prevalent persona

Step 4: Let it Go (Run Until it’s Statistically Significant)

Run your experiment for as long as you need to determine statistical significance. You can use this calculator to find out if you’re ready to analyze.

Sometimes it can be hard to get enough data to review, and in those cases you can extend the timeframe of the test until you have enough.

Step 5: Analyze
Gather your data and find out the results. Standard results include; fail, inconclusive, or success.

Fail means that your hypothesis was incorrect, inconclusive means that you didn’t have enough data to draw a conclusion, and success means that your hypothesis was correct. In this section, you can include learnings and takeaways to share with your team after the experiment is complete. These can also be easily turned into a blog post, offer, or podcast!

Experiments are a really important way to ensure that your content is performing at its maximum effectiveness, get new leads from old content, and improve the experience for your user.

You can use experiments as a marketer, product manager, sales rep, or anyone within your organization who wants to hit their goals. This is step one to starting a CRO strategy within your organization and it will be paying itself off in no time.

Final pro tip: Maintain a master experiment spreadsheet – this data is too good to lose!

This post appeared first on SnapApp.

Saving Bad Ideas? You Are Not Alone [Unthinkable Podcast]

I yank open the fridge. It’s 8pm, and I haven’t eaten yet. I’m STARVING, except my fridge doesn’t seem to care. It’s slim pickins tonight.

In the crisper draw, there’s half a raw eggplant — it’s starting to brown, and the skin is starting to wrinkle. Above that, some stale bread. (Well, the ENDS of the bread. And really, it’s more likely I bludgeon someone to death with this than eat it.)

There’s a lemon, cut in half, in a ziplock bag, which is now a vacation home for some mold. A hardened piece of parmesan cheese, grated down to the rind, is crammed in the back corner of the fridge.

And in the middle of all that “food” is a little round tupperware container with some leftover spaghetti, just a few flecks of red sauce caked onto the pale pasta, hinting at dryness. Also sadness.

But sad is not what I feel.

I feel…excited?

I grab the bread. It’s too stale to eat now, but if I toast it up, and maybe add some olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano, it’s salvageable. Then I take out the eggplant. I cut away the brown part and the edges of that wilted skin, and I slice the flesh in strips. Into the frying pan they go.

My next victims are the pasta and the parm. I shave off the little cheese left on the rind onto the pasta, and I zap it all in the microwave.

When it’s done, I have this nice, gooey, moist pasta-and-cheese mixture. Then I drape the eggplant over it, and BAM! Dinner is served.

From refrigerator sadness to a delicious meal. Bet nobody’s done THAT before! (Actually, as I learned later, this dish is called Pasta Alla Norma. But let’s just make that our little secret.)

What I realize is worth sharing about this story is not WHAT I did but WHY I did it. I was able to look PAST what seemed like a terrible situation, and instead I focused on what COULD emerge. That’s why I felt excited despite a terribly stocked fridge.

If you create for a living like I do, you totally get this feeling. You don’t just see what’s right there in front of you — that bland customer testimonial, that copycat brand message, that same-old same-old type of content that everyone else has been creating for years. Nope! You see past it. You get excited about what some bare-bones ingredients could be instead. You imagine the potential.

If you tinker on the side, launching little creative side projects as so many of us love to do, you know this feeling too. You get lost in your own little creative kitchen, thinking all the while, “Oh, if I just take this thing and cut it here, and that other thing and shave it down a bit right there, and add in that, and mix it with that, and step back and look at it … and then sprinkle in some of THIS … and BOOM! Look what I made! Something from nothing.”

Let’s be honest: More often than we’d like to admit, we’re in the business of saving things that start out looking pretty broken.

It’s like we’re trying to protect our audiences (and our resumes and portfolios) from what our companies or clients initially wanted to put out into the world. Sometimes, we save a bad idea from a business or a boss that wants to cram too much corporate messaging into something. (“Make sure that video mentions how how we offer best-in-breed in the jargon industry for the most jargons and jargon jargon jargon jargon!”)

Other times, it’s like people know they’re handing us a crap assignment, but they expect us to save it anyway. My personal favorite is when someone says, “Just have fun with it!” and then shows you a playground full of rusty swings, shattered glass, and weed-covered fields. (Wait, is “favorite” the right word?)

If any of this sounds like you, and if any of this starts to affect you and grate at you, I have two things I want you to hear:

You are not alone. And there is something you can do about it.

First, know this: You’re not alone in wanting to throw up your hands in frustration.

You’re not alone in dropping your jaw when you experience all the bad ideas thrown to content creators, or the short-sighted orders barked at us like we’re short-order cooks, or the tone-deaf content being launched into the world, dud missiles that others somehow expect to fly.

We all go through this. This comes with the territory of creating for a living. Some people just don’t think like you do about your craft, while others simply don’t care.

But you can indeed do something about it: Figure out your driving mission. If you know what you believe and where you’re going, it helps you drive through things that feel broken.

Ask yourself: What do you believe in? About creativity? About your audience? About doing meaningful work?

Sure, you may not know how to get to that more creative place in your career just yet, but before you can take any concrete steps at all, you need to know what each tactic serves. The How serves the Why. After all, it’s a lot easier to know which roads to take and turns to make if you know where you’re going.

But I just said “figure out your why.” That’s so rote. That’s so cliche. But do you DO it? Do we all practice it? Do we all reflect on what drives us internally? Figuring out that driving purpose is a weapon — it’s like a battle ship that can slice through the murky sea, tossing aside all the pollution caused by some jobs or companies.

After 7-8 years, and only after looking backwards, I can now say confidently my driving mission, my battle ship to drive against the murkiness and the garbage out there, is this: I want to make things to help makers. That’s what I love doing. That’s who I love serving. You. Us. Craft-driven creators.

Here’s the best part: You already do this without even thinking.

On an individual project basis, you already SEE where you want to go. You know the destination, even if the pieces are broken. You envision the better article, video, podcast, campaign, whatever it is — maybe dinner made of leftovers.

You’re CONSTANTLY starting with stuff that’s just not quite there, whether it’s simply raw and incomplete (ideas, materials, etc.) or truly broken (the bad idea, the short-sighted thinking, the brand-first rather than audience-first approach).

I’d wager your creative impulses serve you well in these situations, right? You never question WHY you’re out to make the most of that stuff. Yet at first, you probably skip many steps in your head — i.e., the how — to first picture the destination. “We could do THIS! Wouldn’t it be cool if THAT! Let’s try to make it go THERE!”

You do this projects. You can do this for your career too. It’s all about being mission-centric, tactic-agnostic. If I know I want to make stuff for makers, that’s bigger than any one project or job. I can more easily vet opportunities. I can more easily jump on or, conversely, ignore that new trend or platform, depending on whether it helps me fulfill that goal.

In the end, projects come and go. Bosses, clients, jobs, technologies, tactics — they’re all fleeting. But being a creator means leaving a paper trail. Whether you’re motivated by your own legacy or not, you’re creating one. You’re shipping work into the world. It’s there.

So, my challenge to you: figure out that mission.

In the next week, look back at projects you’ve done and where you geeked out the most about them. You know the moments — even if the project itself sucked, there was at least one tiny thing that got you so excited you almost laughed out loud at your desk.

I want you to recall that feeling. I want you to seek out that feeling.

I want you to be mission-centric, tactic-agnostic.

That’s the only way you’ll find beauty in the broken.

Listen to the related episode, Beauty in the Broken: Stories about craft-driven people who pursued their creative vision despite a scenario seeming beyond repair.

 

The post Feeling Like All You Do Is Save Bad Ideas? You’re Not Alone & Here’s What to Do Next appeared first on Unthinkable.

The Muse Is an Excuse [Unthinkable Podcast]

We’ve got an EPIC episode today. (Literally — I open this episode reading an epic poem…)

How often do we think we need some kind of external inspiration to strike? Why do we call upon “the muse” so often as creative individuals? And are we thinking about this all wrong?

On today’s show, we first go Outside the Echo Chamber with Elliott Bell from the tech startup The Muse. Elliott shares why a company hellbent on grounding careers in reality and offering direct coaching would name themselves “The Muse,” and he describes a powerful new product that has a bigger lesson embedded within it.

Then we hear a story from Chase Jarvis, award-winning photographer, director, and co-founder/CEO of CreativeLive. Not only is he running the world’s largest live-streaming education company, but Chase travels all over the world to speak about creativity with thinkers, leaders, and DOERS like Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, Brene Brown, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and many, many others.

Oh, and be sure to stick around until the end of Chase’s section — he shares a HUGE announcement with us.

Also in this episode:

  • What even IS the creative Muse? The search causes this episode to sound…well…the way it sounds.
  • One guest wound up working for Iron Chef. Another hob-nobs with brands like Nike and Red Bull and celebrities like Serena Williams and Pearl Jam. I try my best to sound like making a podcast is anywhere close to that cool… ?
  • A powerful message and big announcement from Chase: 30 Days of Genius! … and a rally cry to you all at the end.

Listen and Subscribe Now: iTunes | SoundCloud | Stitcher

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Help empower kids, promote creativity, and support local art programs — go to rightsideshirts.org.

The post The Muse Is an Excuse [Unthinkable Ep. 004] appeared first on Unthinkable.

7 B2B Companies Making Pretty Funny Content (Plus How They Did It)

Three words: Dollar Shave Club.

Is this going to be yet another post about the 2012 minute-and-a-half promotional video? Thankfully, no. But, I can’t help bringing it up because when talking about using humor to promote dry subject material – replacement shaving razors – Dollar Shave Club can’t be beat.

Their campaign hit all the checkboxes: scalability, broad appeal, information, and huge conversion ( according to econsultancy about 330,000 people signed up within a year of the video launch). Most of you probably know what I’m talking about, but in case you don’t, or want a refresher, check out the video below:

How do you feel about signing up to a replacement razor subscription now? Maybe a little excited?

According to a review by HubSpot, “the video cost approximately $4,500 – and yet, it got more than 11 million views and coverage on countless media outlets.”

Ok, enough about Dollar Shave Club – for one, it’s been covered over and over again, and two, it’s a B2C example where humor (attempted) is a much more accepted and popular approach.

So, what about B2B? How do content marketers use humor to not only generate awareness,  but to actually push an audience toward conversion?

I’ll give you a hint: The answer is not solely video. Video may come top of mind when thinking about adding humor into your marketing, but there are a variety of formats including:

  • Social
  • Websites
  • Webinars & Landing pages
  • Blogs
  • Calls to Action
  • Email & Video
  • Interactive content

In this post, we’ll cover seven B2B companies who are really killing it with their content and bringing their audiences some laughs along the way. We’ll point out key ideas on how you might be apply some of their tactics to your content approach.

1. Intel – Social

We’ll begin with an older social post from Intel.

The fact that it’s from 2012 is impressive because social has only grown more foundational in digital marketing, and Intel was already playing with the medium.

Key takeaway:

The post isn’t promoting anything – just providing some laughs for social browsers. It’s very top-of-the-funnel, awareness post, but new followers can turn into new leads.

2. iStock by Getty Images – Social and Website

We’ve all seen a stock photo exactly like this, but never with Vince Vaughn as the main subject.

Ok, so this example toes the line between B2C and B2B. The campaign was a joint effort by iStock and 20th Century Fox for a movie promotion.

But the majority of iStock’s audience is definitely B2B, and their move to stick out of the stock image crowd by making fun of stock photos is a great way to gain marketers and media outlets’ attention.

After seeing this, you may ask what other campaigns will they have next. What does their library offer if they’re aware of all the over-used tropes of stock images?

Key takeaway:

iStock poked fun at themselves and their industry space. They weren’t afraid to call out the minor elephant in the room and be a little self-deprecating, pretty much saying, “stock photos are often ridiculous. But, hey, we all need them. Come check out ours.”

3. ConversionXL – Blog

Blog voice and narrative is tricky. How conversational you can be often depends on the audience or the subject. With that being said, the more blogs a person reads, the more refreshing it often is to see prose with personality injected into it.

 

This example from ConversionXL, a conversion optimization agency, demonstrates how most of us really feel, and speaks to us in a more relatable language.

Key takeaway:

When you can cut formality and just speak to someone like you would a friendly colleague, one on one, the whole of your service or product can come to life in a much more human way. Humans like humans.

4. Punchline Conversion Copywriting – Calls to Action

Like ConversionXL, Punchline Copywriting’s website and blog is filled with playful writing. For example, their email subscription list is called Just the Tips.

What really stands out is their CTA and the personal quality of the copy. Throwing in my name and email for this list isn’t a chore because I genuinely want to see what they will send me.

And once I did sign up, my expectation was immediately met with a much more fun-to-read confirmation message than a simple “Thank you.”

Key takeaway:

By creating a more personal and interesting Call to Action, you can entice a reader’s curiosity more. We’ve all seen “Download Now” a thousand times. Even simple changes like “Give Me the Goods” or “Let Me Own This” can have large impacts.

5.  Unbounce and ConversionXL – Webinars/ Landing page

Unbounce, a landing page software company, teamed up with ConversionXL (second mention) to create Page Fights.

In this live broadcast series, optimization experts weigh in on a series of different landing pages and debate the optimization merits of each. This subject could be totally tedious, but creating a riffing-discussion based format that doesn’t take itself too seriously makes it an enjoyable experience.

Key takeaway:

By going beyond written content, Unbounce and ConversionXL offer an alternative content experience and brand promotion. Note the ever-present CTAs at the bottom for additional content.

6. Wistia – Email and Video

Wistia may be a video platform, but they know how to send great emails too. Below is a simple product update which can often be overlooked in crowded inboxes.

So instead of focusing on the product details, Wistia, instead, focused on a parade!

The email links to a short video of Wistia team members throwing a celebratory parade. This allows them to use a much more inviting CTA. How much more interested are you in “Watch the Parade!” than “Read more”?

Video

I know I said that we’d avoid video examples, but Wistia’s are a bit different. Because they are a video platform, they use video for everything – in blogs, trainings, updates, social, and overviews.

What makes their videos great is the employee personality that are in each one. Most videos are shot in their office, and while the quality always looks great, there’s a homemade feel to them that offers a unique viewing experience – one you want to return to.

 

Key takeaway:

By showcasing their company culture and the employees that thrive within itof it, Wistia creates disarming content that feels friendly and familiar – the type of people you’d want to do business with and get excited for what’s coming next.

7. Tintri – Interactive Content

When you think of a flash storage solution software, humor may not come immediately to mind. But that doesn’t stop Tintri from making engaging content that both entertains audiences and learns about them, too.

They created an election-season-themed assessment, pushing for “No LUNs in 2016!” For non flash storage experts, a LUN is a software storage term (logical unit number).

 

The interactive content has animations and unique quips for each question that is asked. Check out the whole No LUNs app here.

Key takeaway:

Injecting a topical theme like election season or a popular event into your content is always a way to breathe a little life into it. Tintri took it a step further by using satire in their content, to make the subject material more engaging. The fact that they got to learn about their audience in the process is bonus points.

Always Talking to People

As singer/ songwriter Regina Spektor said in her song Ghost of a Corporate Future, “People are just people like you.” When creating content in a B2B environment, it can be easy to lose sight of the abstract “leads” and “prospects” as just people who laugh, talk, and like to experience fun things.

The voice you use for your own content is very much dependent on your audience and subject, but you may be surprised at the boundaries you can push and the positive impact it can have on your content performance.

This post originally appeared on SnapApp.

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15 Must-Read Tweets from Top SaaS Marketing Influencers

Your Twitter timeline is flooded.

If you’re like me, you probably follow several different people. Everyone serves a purpose. So, you’re consuming a little news, some sports, and lots of influencers in your industry.

And despite your efforts to read every tweet, you simply can’t.

But don’t worry. I’ve curated the best tweets from the top SaaS marketing influencers.

Check out (and follow) these movers and shakers.

1. Morgan Brown – COO of Inman News

2. Nichole Elizabeth Demere – SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist

3. Everette Taylor – Founder & CEO of MilliSense

 

4. Lincoln Murphy – Founder of Sixteen Ventures

5. Sujan Patel – Co-Founder of ContentMarketer.io

 

6. Mary Green – Content at Sticker Mule

7. Trevor Hatfield – Founder & CEO of Inturact

8. Dave Rigotti – Head of Marketing at Bizible

9. Leeyen Rogers – VP of Marketing at JotForm

10. Sarah E. Brown – Growth Marketing at ServiceRocket

11. William Harris – Growth Marketer and Founder of Elumynt

12. Ronell Smith – Moz Associate & Content Strategist

13. Kevin Ho – Inbound Marketer at Wishpond

14. Talia Wolf – Founder of Conversioner

15. Kelly Kuhn-Wallace – Growth Marketing & Strategy Consultant

Stay Up-To-Date

Life gets busy. But that’s no excuse when it comes to your learning.

Be sure to follow these top influencers for the latest trends.

3 Reasons Why No One Is Sharing Your Content

60% of B2B marketers say producing engaging content is their biggest challenge for 2016. As such, understanding engagement metrics and determining what kind of content resonates with your audience is more important than ever.

One such engagement metric is social shares. Generating a high number of content shares on social media is key to overcoming engagement obstacles for a number of reasons:

Social shares amplify your content. No kidding, right? Although the organic effectiveness of most social channels for amplification has declined over the years (thanks to filtered news feeds), social media can still be a substantial source of referral traffic.

At Uberflip (a B2B SaaS company), social traffic accounts for 10-15% of our monthly Hub traffic, and the majority of these sessions are new visitors.

Social shares show social proof. Social proof is key to proving the credibility of your content, which causes a bit of a “chicken or the egg” situation: you need social shares to generate social proof, yet people won’t share your post unless they know it’s from a credible source.

The best way to get around this is to provide valuable content in a well-optimized content experience (more on that below).

Social shares impact SEO. The connection between social signals and search engine ranking is indirect, but important. The key thing to know is that if your content is good, people will share it increasing the likelihood that you’ll generate links, which can drive some serious SEO juice.

So, social shares have a ton of great benefits in addition to being a key way to measure content engagement.

But why aren’t people sharing your content on social? Let’s take a closer look.

1. You’re not enabling sharing

If you want people to share your content, make it easy for them to do so!

Add social sharing buttons to your content (using AddThis, for example). If the buttons display the number of shares from a piece of content, this can help demonstrate the aforementioned social proof, which can lead to even more shares.

In addition to social sharing buttons, include Click to Tweet links within the body of your content. Don’t just include buttons and links, however – prompt people to use them by leveraging the power of asking every now and then.

Consider that people might prefer sharing with their own social scheduling tool (Buffer, for instance), and ensure your content is optimized accordingly. Include:

  • A catchy headline (it will likely be pulled in with the metadata for the preview link)
  • A well-written and well-optimized meta description
  • A compelling image (or set of images)

Finally, rely on your own team to get the ball rolling with social shares. Keep them in the loop by sending the content you’d like them to help share in a daily email or via a group chat or a Slack channel. Nothing wrong with a little inside help every now and then!

2. It’s not valuable enough

According to The Psychology of Sharing (a report put together by The New York Times to understand the motivations behind why people share content), 94% of participants “carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient.” As such, the report concludes that it’s important for content to appeal to your audience’s motivation to connect with each other, not just with your brand.

In other words, if your content is not providing information that’s valuable enough for your audience’s audience, it won’t be shared.

Valuable content must appeal to the motivations of your readers, which requires in-depth research and knowledge of what makes them tick. One way to perform audience research is to use interactive content to gather information. Use the insights gathered from the results to fuel your content.

If your content is not providing information that’s valuable enough for your audience’s audience, it won’t be shared. Tweet: If your content is not providing information that’s valuable enough for your audience’s audience, it won’t be shared.

Most importantly, don’t let your content standards fall. Before you hit “Publish”, review this valuable content checklist to ensure every single piece of content is providing value.

3. It’s living in a poor experience

Your content experience – that is, the environment in which your content lives – can make or break your content’s performance.

Environment adds context and relevance to a piece of content, which can provide additional value and credibility to a piece of content. As an example, let’s say a profile on a famous basketball player appears on two different sites: ESPN and MTV. The content of the profile would vary slightly on each site since they serve different audiences. If the ESPN article was shared with the MTV audience, it probably wouldn’t have as much of an impact since the environment is not aligned with the intended audience.

Studies have proven that environment can have a massive impact on a consumer’s motivation to act and when it comes to social shares, there’s no exception.

Increase the value of your content (and its shareability factor) by ensuring that your entire resource center is visually appealing, responsive, well organized, and is relevant and contextual for your target audience.

Optimize for Sharing

Shares on social media can help get your content in front of new eyes, increase your brand’s credibility, and even impact SEO. However, your number of shares won’t budge if you’re not making your content easy to share and ensuring that your content is valuable and relevant to your audience.

If you’re optimizing for social shares, it might be time to switch up your strategy. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, we’d definitely appreciate a share 🙂

This post originally appeared on SnapApp.

5 Reasons Your Lead Generation Strategy is Not Working

In business, failure is always an option. This is especially true in B2B businesses that require a steady flow of leads to stay healthy. So it serves marketers well to know the ins and outs of lead management both for better and for worse.

Here are the top five reasons your lead generation campaigns may be failing.  

1. You’re Throwing Darts in the Dark

It’s hard to work in the dark, and trying 10 different strategies at the same time won’t help you see any more clearly. Trying out one lead generation tactic at a time and figuring out if it works is the wiser tactic. Make sure to give the results time to work themselves out before dumping strategies that don’t seem to help you reach your objectives.

When you have a clear picture of what is and isn’t working, you can implement the strategies that work, and stop wasting time on those that don’t.

2. You Have No Promotional Game

If you don’t have a strong online presence and aren’t making use of the wide variety of marketing channels available today, then you’re going to have a bad time. Be sure to work on establishing the credibility of your business before focusing heavily on lead generation. Build up engaging content, speak wherever you can, guest post, offer white papers, etc. Most importantly, concentrate on building a relationship with your target audience before trying to sell them anything. This goes a long way toward fostering trust and confidence in your brand.

3. You Don’t Know Your Audience

Your product is not for everyone. Make this your mantra and then put in the work. Create an audience profile. Figure out who is going to buy your product and why and then create campaigns that cater to that audiences’ specific needs.

4. You Don’t Have a Start-to-Finish Process

The best lead generation programs are “always-on”, consistent, and systematic. A good process is completely mapped – from the top of the funnel to the closing stage – with associated metrics, processes, people, and technology to support it. Successful lead generation processes don’t function like “campaigns” as we know them. Instead, they work like supply chains that consistently perform, producing qualified leads, which leads to consistent sales.

5. You Aren’t Using Strong Lead Conversion and Nurturing Tools

Converting a unique visitor into a lead is a complex process. It’s easy to assume that the further along your sales funnel a prospect travels, the more of a “sure thing” he or she becomes. However, there’s one thing you may not be counting on, one that elevates the risk of that prospect disappearing forever—the value of the content you’re offering.

Capturing contact information is necessary for lead conversion. However, most businesses aren’t successful at it because they fail to provide that one extra piece of value to entice the lead into handing over their information. The smartest strategy is to make sure you’re offering useful content in exchange for their information and/or additional participation within the sales funnel. Making use of white papers, e-books, case studies and other gated content is one of the most efficient ways to provide valuable information in return for contact details.

If you avoid these five pitfalls, you’ll be well on your way to a successful lead generation campaign. Just remember, measure everything and always be ready to change up your strategy if it isn’t working.

What are some of your favorite lead gen strategies?

The post 5 Reasons Your Lead Generation Strategy is Not Working appeared first on PureB2B.

Emotion and Irrationality: Matt Heinz Talks Understanding Your Audience

When was the last time you said something you really wish you could take back – be it at a party, an interview, or some other social setting?

We all mix up names, misremember personal details, or make an incorrect judgement occasionally. And although some of them are very superficial and minor, it’s tough to shake the feeling that the other person won’t forget the error, especially if it was a first impression. According to Matt Heinz, faux pas like these can come back to bite you in marketing, too.

Matt is the president of Heinz Marketing, an organization that focuses on strategic customer acquisition and retention strategy and execution. Basically, if you need to grow, this is the guy to know. (But definitely don’t ask him how he enjoyed his time at Washington State.)

We got the chance to sit down with Matt to discuss his approach to creating content that readers find meaningful and personally important. Read on to see what Matt thinks about knowing your audience, building a “recipe” for content resonation, and why it’s so hard for a lot of marketers to connect with their customers.

As a marketer, how do you get to the point of knowing how to do the right things for your audience?

Well, it starts with anything and everything you do to understand foundationally who your target audience is. I think this is why talking to customers is so important. This is why relying on people within the industry is so important. I think you develop that foundation. You continue to learn and read and talk to those people.

I’m old enough now to remember when we had to do focus groups to learn more about customers and now there’s a daily real time focus group going on all around us if we are willing to listen and interpret and triage that information. So, I think it’s really important for companies to invest in that foundation of knowledge about the customer. Not only developing that knowledge, but sharing it.

Right, and that’s the big missing link. You’ve done all this research and tried to listen. You’re kind of going through the motions, but sometimes, this type of knowledge lives just in people’s heads, kind of passed around like campfire stories.

If it’s institutional knowledge in those people’s heads, you better hope that those people never get sick and they never get fired and never leave, because it’s going to walk out the door with them.

Say you’re a marketer who cares about resonating with their audience. How would you recommend they go about this change management process of getting the type of buy-in that they would need from their leadership or from their team to really focus on this stuff?

I think, inherently, it’s not something that a lot of companies will prioritize, at least in isolation. Increasingly, I think they are more before-and-after stories of companies that embrace that deeper customer understanding, as well as the horror stories, and the downside of not doing it in general. I can give you many examples of people that lost deals because they lower cased the ‘r’ in realtor. It may sound superficial and trite, but we all have things that are near and dear to us.

I went to the University of Washington, and our chief in-state rival was Washington State. Every once in awhile, someone from out of state will say, “Oh, so you went to Washington State,” just not even thinking about it. That’s like telling a Yankee fan that your favorite team is the Red Sox. Again, it’s dumb and superficial maybe, but it’s meaningful.

So, it would be great if we all made purchase decisions based on logic. Unfortunately, B2B buyers use logic but also use emotion and use politics and use a variety of irrational but important-to-them criteria to create preference and trust and to consummate relationships with vendors and others in a B2B context.

Do you think that there are certain pain points in the B2B marketing experience that the solution would be, “Oh, I need to resonate”?

I can’t think of a lot of situations where it isn’t a good idea to create resonance. Some of that has to do with simply both understanding your audience well enough to ask them the right questions, as well as, asking questions on the fly to understand how everyone uniquely thinks about the problem. It’s very likely that there are meta-trends among a particular target audience you’re speaking with on any given day. But any given week, any given month, or any given quarter, there are more specific pain points or obstacles that person is dealing with.

When you encounter resonant content out there in the world, do you see it as having a certain set of characteristics or a certain quantity of ingredients?

I think there are some foundational building blocks that make it a lot easier. Very few people take the time to build personas in a way that meaningfully articulate the challenges and pressures and needs of an audience in addition to the benefits of using your product. Operationalizing that understanding inside your organization is step two – making sure that your marketing represents it. It’s built into their templates. It’s built into their training so that they’re seeing it; they are practicing it; they’re comfortable with it. They sound natural with it. A third piece I think is just the ongoing education, the ongoing training, the ongoing research, the ongoing exposure to your customers directly.

Is this something that you think about day to day? Creating content that’s going to resonate?

Absolutely. We create a lot of content. We blog almost every day. And we do have an editorial calendar, we have themes that we care about, but I would say that fairly quickly we will adjust our editorial calendar based on something that we’re observing in the market, something we are seeing as a priority among our customers.

That means listening to what they are challenged with, listening to their questions, understanding where they’re roadblocks are. Not in general, not three years ago, not based on what I learned in MBA school, but based on what they’re saying right now. So for me to be able to create content that’s truly achieved that objective, it means I have to have that regular input from customers.

What are some of the questions that you ask your audience when you talk to them?

I go right back up to the top and say: What are your goals? What is keeping you from getting there? A simple way of starting that is often saying, “What numbers are you trying to achieve? What are you measured against? And what are the primary challenges keeping you from getting there?” What I like about that question is most people aren’t going to respond necessarily with the most important roadblock or challenge, they’re going to respond with the one that is most prescient to them right now.

Why do you think it’s so hard for marketers to create content that resonates or to focus on resonance as a goal?

The most common answer is that we can’t get out of our own way. We are so enamored with our own products and services. We are so enamored with tying everything back to a product or a failed message that we don’t have the patience or the longevity to stick with a message or a stream of the conversation that addresses the customer more directly.

All of us have things we want to sell, right? None of us need to shy away from it, but very few people go to the hardware store because they want to buy a drill. Usually people buy a drill because they want a hole, right? We’re going to be much more successful selling more drills if we can help people envision and understand the connection between what we’re selling and what they’re getting.

Do Your Homework

In order to best connect with your audience, come from a place of genuineness, and make sure to do your homework. It’s not the end of the world if you mix up Washington and Washington State, but be prepared to get a prompt tongue-lashing from alumni on both sides if you do.

This post originally appeared on SnapApp.

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Marketers need to play a stronger sales enablement role on LinkedIn

Earlier this year, LinkedIn set out to determine which departments wield the most influence over B2B buyers across a number of different sectors. Their findings show that overall, marketing has 30% more sway than sales in a typical B2B buying decision and that marketing has 27% more sway than business development.

Even though marketers have the most pull as they add the most value, we have found that in many cases, marketing’s influence on LinkedIn is minimal. They’re more interested in pushing out content and filling the top of their funnel than using their influence to actually drive revenues.

What’s Wrong with the Role Marketers Play on LinkedIn Now….

My recent article, “CMOs Are Failing to Go Beyond Brand Awareness” which analyzes the actions the CMOs at Xerox, Lithium, G 2Crowd, Wiley, and XOJet shows that when it comes to social media, marketers focus on the top of the funnel. They’re focused on “sponsored status updates,” “sponsored inmails” and company page posts.

But if those leads get stuck on the top because they don’t have the value-added relationships that buyers want, what good are those leads? How can you demonstrate a clear social media ROI with brand awareness metrics? You can’t!

Marketing is relying on sales to make the relationships. Marketing may provide sales with content to use – but no context. And, they don’t provide sales with a strategy on how to use the content to nurture relationships and transition buyers. This is why at least 70% of content is not used by sales and why enterprise buyers reported to Forrester that 61% of sales professionals add no value to the buying process.

What Marketing’s Sales Enablement Role Should Look Like on LinkedIn

1) Marketing as a Sales Enabler on LinkedIn Goes Beyond Top-of-the-Funnel Awareness and Lead Generation. They focus on the complete awareness to revenue customer life-cycle that includes a set of psychological transitions where customers become aware of, evaluate, like, advocate and invest in a specific product or service. They go beyond the awareness tactics that social media and digital marketing executives take- and they meld traditional marketing with LinkedIn so they increase the percentages of transitions as well as increase the speed at which they transition.

Marketers who are sales enablers take a pipeline marketing approach and make decisions based on revenue generation instead of leads. They focus on optimizing all aspects of the LinkedIn marketing program to widen every stage of the funnel to deliver more MQL’s, more SQL’s, more sales opportunities, and more deals.

2) Marketing as a Sales Enabler on LinkedIn is Focused in Optimizing the ROI of the LinkedIn Selling System. LinkedIn sales enablers equip all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle. Notice, I mentioned consistently and systematically – that means going beyond just supporting content. It means putting a strategy for sales and marketing to execute in alignment, track and optimize for a stronger ROI of the selling system.

3) Marketing as a Sales Enabler on LinkedIn Provides Buyer Insights – By allowing sales to see and understand the Digital Body Language of buyers, marketers can give them the knowledge they need to figure out what an individual cares about, who within an organization is engaged in a buying process, and which organizations within a salesperson’s territory are showing buying interest. By mixing LinkedIn Sales Navigator, social listening tools, and competitive intelligence solutions with effective “relationship” engagement strategies, marketing can capture these insights. They can then lay out an account based marketing strategy for using these insights to get and keep the attention of these key decision makers. Notice, I didn’t just stop at “insights!” In my article, “LinkedIn Sales Navigator is not enough,” I discuss in greater detail why just providing insights is not enough.

4) Marketing as a Sale Enabler on LinkedIn are Prospect-Centric and are Focused on Building and Leveraging Relationships with Key Decision Makers. Marketers who are LinkedIn sales enablers do not have a resume based profile that discusses their campaign performance. Their profile positions them as subject matter experts who communicate their business value to buyers in order to become the “social” bridge between B2B buyers and sales. They are focused on building communities of interest where they showcase thought leadership with content and discussions around specific “issues” their prospects are experiencing and “issues” related to the industries they serve. They are focused on nurturing prospects (not mass nurturing but 1-to-1 nurturing) with relevant insights and value until buyers are ready for a sales conversation and a hand-off to sales.

B2B LinkedIn Sales Enablement in a Nutshell

Marketers who go beyond lead generation and focus on Sales and Marketing alignment to achieve revenue goals using LinkedIn can prove a clearer, stronger social media ROI. By providing rich insights into buyers, their companies, and their territories, marketers enable sales to better prioritize their efforts. And by focusing on relationships and how to leverage them, marketers can become the social bridge between buyers and sales. They can help build familiarity between salespeople and their customers. Together, sales and marketing can improve sales effectiveness using LinkedIn.

But marketing has to use its influence on LinkedIn and become more of a sales enabler  – and support sales in a more meaningful way so they can close deals using the #1 b2b social media platform.

Click here to learn more about my LinkedIn leads to revenue approach.

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