Monthly Archives: June 2016

Check Out These 10 Underutilized Traffic Sources

By Sujan Patel on June 17, 2016

As a startup marketer, what channels do you exploit in order to increase traffic to your site?

In my experience, most marketers focus on organic and paid search, as well as social media and email marketing … sound familiar?

If it does, that’s fine – these are all really important channels. Any marketer – startup or otherwise – should be including them in their strategy.

But they’re not the only channels that can be exploited to drive traffic. This is something a lot of marketers seem to forget.

In short: it pays to think outside the box.

box

Here are 10 underutilized traffic sources that are perfect for startup marketers.

1. Reddit

If you know how to play the game, Reddit can drive tons of visitors to your site. That makes sense when you learn that in the last month there were nearly 8 billion unique page views on the site, and that subreddits (kind of like groups or forum boards) such asData is Beautiful have more than 6 million readers.

Redditstats

Unfortunately, Reddit hates marketers. If they smell one, they will start digging – and if they’re right, you’re toast.

But don’t let that discourage you.

Sure, the Reddit/marketer vendetta might make your job a little more taxing. But it doesn’t make it impossible.

The trick is to use Reddit not as a marketer, but as a Redditor.

That means using the site as any other Redditor would. Share links that are in no way affiliated with your brand, and take the time to contribute comments to existing threads.

Just join in the conversation.

“If you were to start promoting your site on Reddit right now, you’d be likely to join the thousands of “Reddit Marketers” that get laughed off of the site. You see, the trick to Reddit marketing is, well, to not market.

Redditors aren’t big fans of self-promotion. In fact, there is a special fiery hatred within every Redditors’ heart toward shameless self-promoters.” – Travis Levell, Startup Bros

You goal is to create a pattern of normal use. You want to be indistinguishable from any other Reddit user.

The easiest way to do that is to stop thinking like a marketer at all. Get involved in subreddits that genuinely interest you. That way your contributions will come naturally and no one would guess that you have an ulterior motive.

Once you start to know your way around the site, you can begin to get involved with subreddits that relate to your brand and the links you want to promote.

Just remember…

  • Build both site-wide and subreddit-specific histories before you post any promotional content.
  • Save only your very best content or links for Reddit.
  • Don’t post links from your own domain too many times, or too often – this can flag spam filters.

For more detail on how to win the Reddit game, I recommend taking a look at this post from Travis Levell of Project Pivotal, which used Reddit to get 625 students enrolled in its Udemy course.

Key takeaway: Drive traffic by sharing your best links on Reddit, but take steps to disguise your marketer status by first building your profile organically.

2. Email

There are many ways marketers can exploit email as a traffic-generating tool.

Email marketing is the obvious one – as mentioned above, it’s one of the more commonly-used means of driving traffic. If you don’t currently run an email marketing campaign, I encourage you to start. It’s been shown time and again to be the best performing digital channel in terms of ROI.

emailmarketing

I’ve also found email signatures and autoresponders to be effective means of leveraging email for traffic generation.

Email signatures are an excellent place to promote your digital activities. It’s natural, discreet, and once you’ve created the signature, entirely self-sufficient.

I tend to change mine pretty regularly, depending on the project (or projects) I’m working on at the time.

Here’s what it looks like right now:

signature1

And here’s an example of a previous signature:

signature2 copy

Autoresponders – for those who don’t know – are emails that get fired off automatically in reply to anyone that emails you. Do you set your “out of office” message when you go on vacation? Then you’ve used an autoresponder.

Autoresponders are handy little tools for when we’re too busy or preoccupied to get back to people right away. They allow us to manage expectations by letting people know they should expect a delay in getting a response. This means we can get on with our work (or whatever else we’re doing) free of interruptions.

They’re also great for marketing, including driving traffic to your website.

I use them to do both.

I currently use an autoresponder that lets people know I’m heads-down focusing on ContentMarketer.io.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.45.43 PM

It serves both of the aforementioned purposes. It manages the expectations of anyone that emails me, and it drives traffic to ContentMarketer.io.

I also use an autoresponder to reply to anyone that signs up to my newsletter. The focus of this is to drive visits to some of my best blog posts.

autoresponder1

Key takeaway: Email marketing’s an obvious platform for traffic generation but you can leverage its power further by utilizing your signature and an autoresponder.

3. The Viral Loop Referral

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, a viral loop referral is a type of referral scheme.

A referral scheme with a very interesting twist.

It’s designed to trigger a type of pyramid effect.

What this means is that if a company begins with one customer, and that customer refers three new customers, then each of those refer three customers, the company soon has 13 customers. If the cycle continues, the company quickly has….a lot of customers.

viralloop

Dropbox has to be the best-known example of a successful viral loop referral scheme.

“Dropbox is often cited as the canonical example of successful referral marketing.

Just as Shakespeare imitated his predecessors, Dropbox wasn’t actually being original with its referral program.

But they did it so well that it would become what all other referral programs now aspire to.” – Visakan Veerasamy,Referral Candy

In case you’ve been living in the dark for the last nine years, Dropbox is a cloud storage provider. It’s an excellent service, with one small limitation: storage space.

When you first create a Dropbox account, you’re granted 2GB of space. If you want more, you have two options:

  1. Pay to upgrade your account
  2. Refer new users

Users that choose option two are granted an extra 500MB of space for each successful referral. They can keep referring people until they’ve secured themselves an extra 16GB of free space. After that, they have to pay.

dropbox

That means that to get the full 16GB of free space, users have to refer 32 new users.

Now, imagine if each of those also referred 32 users…

That adds up to a lot of users.

They won’t, of course. That’s just not realistic. But if each Dropbox user refers just two people (bearing in mind that many will refer more) the viral loop referral scheme is going to start paying off.

And of course, it did. Supposedly Dropbox went from 100,000 users to 4 million in just 15 months.

Key takeaway: Maximize the impact of referrals with a scheme that rewards customers, not for a single referral, but each time they refer somebody new.

4. Facebook Comments

When you think about Facebook for marketing, you probably think about Facebook business pages and Facebook Ads.

That’s fine. Those are both great tools for businesses and I’d generally encourage their use.

But they aren’t the only ways you can capitalize on Facebook.

By commenting on posts created by other pages, you can drive significant traffic to your Facebook page, and in turn, your site.

The trick is to find pages relevant to your industry that see a lot of engagement, and to act fast. You need to be one of the first people to comment on a new story.

It’s also critical that your comment adds value.

Your goal is to get as many likes on your comment as possible. Get enough, and it will become a “top comment.”

When that happens, it will stick to the top of the post, where – if you’ve picked the right Facebook page – it could be viewed by thousands upon thousands of people.

Take this post on The New York Times (which, while we’re on the subject, is a pretty good place for most brands to post, on account of the wide range of topics covered):

NYT

The top post boasts 444 likes and has triggered its own dialogue, with 63 additional comments resulting from it.

Why? Because the comment adds value to the conversation. It also mirrors popular opinion, which in this context is pretty important. You’re looking to attract positive attention – not wind people up.

Of course, depending on the page and the specific post, a spot of light-hearted comic relief can net you similar results.

Take spoof “news” site The Onion. Their top comments are almost always jokes that play off of the content of the original post.

theonion

For a more detailed account on successfully using Facebook comments to drive traffic to your site and your page, read this excellent post, courtesy of SVTMedia’s Siimon Sander.

Key takeaway: Drive traffic by commenting on new posts on popular Facebook pages. Just remember to act fast – generally the “top comments” are some of the first to be posted.

5. Quora

Quora is, in its simplest form, a question-and-answer site. Users ask questions, and other users come along and provide answers.

It operates in a similar manner to Reddit in that you’ll get the most out of it if you take the time to act, and contribute, in the same way a genuine user would.

It’s also a similar timesuck: you have been warned.

Unlike Reddit, you have to sign up to the site before you can start viewing posts, which is a tad annoying. On the plus side, the Quora community isn’t quite as venomously anti-marketer as the community you’ll find on Reddit.

Contribute with a quality answer, and you shouldn’t be ripped to pieces if you also decide to include a link to additional relevant content of your own (“shouldn’t” being the operative word here – I can’t be held responsible if things pan out differently!).

Like most “community” based traffic sources, you’ll get the most out of Quora if you take the time to write detailed, interesting, and useful posts.

This is because when people like your post, they may well “upvote” it. They might also comment on it. If your post drives enough engagement, it will become “stuck” at or near the top of the thread in question.

That’s pretty awesome, but it gets better.

Unlike other traffic sources we’ve discussed on here – Facebook comments in particular – Quora threads, and your answers, tend to stick around.

If someone searches for a question that you’ve answered – a month, 6 months, even 2 years after you posted it – your answer may well pop up. Old threads can also resurface if they get new answers.

Take this post for instance. I found it on the front page of Quora, yet the second answer on the page is from 2012.

quora

To get a feel for what a “great” answer on Quora tends to entail, just start exploring the site. There’s also an excellent (albeit outdated) Q&A here that details some of the most upvoted answers on the site.

Key takeaway: Use Quora in a similar manner to Reddit – mimic the habits of other users, and when a relevant topic comes along, drop in a link to your own site or content.

6. Guest Posts

When some people write a guest post, their goal is to obtain a link. For me, it’s about so much more.

I write guest posts first and foremost because they help me build my personal brand. I also write them because they’re a very effective means of driving free, relevant traffic to my sites.

So effective, in fact, that guest posts are the main source of traffic for two of my tools: Narrow.io and Quuu.co.

But guest posting isn’t as simple as firing off pitches to countless sites in the hopes that one will stick. Will you get a few ‘yeses’ that way? Yeah, probably. But you’re not looking to write for any old site.

If you want traffic, you need standards. You need to write for sites that have a big audience. Huge, ideally. But that audience needs to be relevant, too.

It doesn’t matter if a site gets 1 million unique visitors a day – if none of those visitors fit into your target market, you’re not going to get results. Referral traffic will probably be minimal. Any traffic you do get won’t be relevant.

The same logic applies to highly-relevant sites with tiny audiences. You might fit right in, but if that site’s not getting any traffic, how can you expect it to send any to you?

Pick sites based on their readership – both its size and relation to your niche. Next, you need to win them over.

Some sites have guidelines for potential guest bloggers. You’ll probably fare best if you follow them.

Many of the best sites, however, don’t advertise the fact that they accept guest posts. That’s probably because as a general rule, they don’t. But few sites won’t make an exception for the right post from the right person.

So you have to ask.

Find the best person to contact. If it’s a personal blog, that’s going to be its owner. If it’s a big site with many sections, you’ll probably want to find the editor of the section you want to contribute to.

It can help to build bridges before you approach the topic of guest posting. Try commenting on your contact’s blog posts or approaching them on social media.

The biggest factor in your success here, however (in my experience, at least), is the topic you approach them with and whether or not you can demonstrate the skills to craft an awesome post.

Site owners and bloggers want original, interesting topics. Or at least an original perspective on a not-so-original topic. Relevance to what they cover is key, too.

They also want people who can write.

Don’t send the same post idea to each site. You need to demonstrate that this post is just for them. Take your time researching potential topics so you can show genuine interest in and knowledge of their area of expertise.

Don’t forget to provide links to examples of your writing, either.

And always, always proofread your emails. Carefully. Nothing will land you a firm “no” faster than a poorly-written outreach email.

Key takeaway: Guest posts can drive tons of traffic to your site, but only if the site you write for has a substantial audience and is relevant to your niche.

7. Competitions

A giveaway can drive masses of traffic to your site, and quickly. It can also be a huge waste of money.

It all depends on the type of competition you run and the prize you give away.

If all you care about is traffic, give away an iPhone, a vacation, or cold, hard cash. You’ll get tons of traffic, I promise. So much traffic that your servers will probably crash and your site will go down.
But that would suck, right?

Sure it would.

But not as much as wasting all that money on a prize that drove a bucket-load of useless, server-breaking traffic.

If you want to run an effective competition, you need to be picky about the prize you give away. Choose something that only your potential target audience would be interested in.

This limits entries to people who might actually care about what you do.

You also need to be careful about the type of competition you run.

A great way to boost visibility of your competition is to run it with another site or publication. This means it gets promoted to their audience, which is great.

Unfortunately, that also means that entrants will be able to enter the competition directly on that site.

Goodbye potential traffic.

Thankfully, there’s a way around this: require entrants to answer a question that necessitates a visit to your site in order to answer.

Avoid asking simple questions like “When was our company founded?” You can bet that answer will find its way around the web. If that happens, few entrants will bother visiting your site.

Goodbye potential traffic, again.

Instead, ask a question – or even better – set a task that makes visiting and exploring your site unavoidable.

An Ecommerce company might ask entrants to create a “wishlist” of products they would buy if they had $500 to spend on the site.

wishlist

If I did this, I might ask entrants to read a specific post and describe what they would do in response to something covered.

For example, I could ask them to read “Growth Isn’t Everything: 7 Lessons Learned from 5 Failed Companies,” pick one case study, and describe what they would have done differently.

The general gist is to avoid competition questions with multiple choice answers. You need to get entrants thinking for themselves, and you need to make your website their source of inspiration.

Key takeaway: Maximize the impact of competitions by choosing a prize that relates closely to your brand and what you do, and avoid making entry too easy. Set a task or question that forces entrants to visit and explore your site.

8. Automated Voicemails

An automated voicemail operates in a similar fashion to a cold email. The difference, of course, is that instead of sending an email, you’re leaving a message on the recipient’s phone.

The practice is, supposedly, most commonly used by medical debt collectors, student loan services, and financial institutions. But it has countless other applications, too.

You could use it to:

  • Thank customers for their purchase
  • Tell current customers about a new product they might be interested in
  • Remind customers about an event or an appointment
  • Follow up on a series of outreach emails

Whatever you use automated voicemails for, getting results from them involves leaving the right message in the right tone of voice. You want to sound genuine and friendly – not like a corporate robot, or worse – an actual robot.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: what would you respond to?

Remember what the goal of your voicemail is: to get the recipient to visit your website. This means it’s important to give your web address out clearly and give them a reason to go to it.

Key takeaway: Automated marketing strategies (including voicemail) can be very effective – as long as you don’t soundautomated.

9. Videos

Videos can do so much more than help build your YouTube following. Executed correctly, you can use them to tempt people away from YouTube (or whatever video-sharing site you choose to use) and onto your site.

  • Videos that answer common questions consumers ask about your industry can drive referral traffic if you encourage viewers to learn more by visiting your site.
  • Detailed product reviews or demonstrations can drive conversions (on your website, naturally).
  • Land an interview with someone authoritative in your industry, and not only can you get in front of their audience, but you’ll have a chance to convince that audience to find out more about you by visiting your site.

“If you provide a service or SaaS (software as a service), using video to describe a complicated process is the perfect way to clearly describe it to consumers. Consider using an animated video or a whiteboard setup for maximum effectiveness.” –Bubba Page, for Inc.

Of course, to maximize your referral traffic, you need to make it as easy as possible for viewers to visit your site.

You can (and probably should) read your web address out loud in the video and include a link to it in the description.

Youtube

Better yet, you can include linked annotations from within the videos themselves.

annotations

Of course, YouTube isn’t the only service that can help you turn videos into web traffic. Vimeo, DailyMotion, and Metacafe are all viable alternatives. I personally had a lot of luck with live-streaming service Periscope.

Key takeaway: Video marketing rocks, but if you want it to drive traffic to your site, you need to make getting there easy, and enticing, for your viewers.

10. Real Life

Oddly enough, some of the most effective means of driving online traffic exist offline.

Take flyering. It’s a form of marketing that’s been around since long before the web came along, but it’s easily adapted for modern day marketing:

marketingchannels

Just make your web address a feature of your flyers, and give people a reason to go online and visit it. Better yet, slap a unique code onto the end of that URL and you’ll be able to track how much traffic your flyers generate.

For me, though, the most effective way of driving web traffic in real life is simply by speaking to people.

Last year, I started speaking regularly at conferences. I always mention my site in my talks and include the URL in my slides. I also tend to wrap up by offering a freebie in exchange for an email address.

This generally results in 100-150 new addresses from great contacts (these are people I – hopefully – have made a genuine impact on, after all).

You can see the effect of this in Google Trends. Each time I speak at a conference, searches for my name increase.

googletrends

Don’t forget about business cards, either. They’ve kind of fallen out of fashion in recent years, but they’re still crazy valuable. If you talk to someone and you hit it off (so to speak) a business card is a quick and easy way to make sure they remember you.

Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to drive online traffic, offline. Get out there and start speaking to people – just make sure they remember you and know where to find you online (and why they should find you).

What other underutilized traffic sources are you currently exploiting? If it’s not mentioned above, it would be awesome if you’d take a moment to leave a comment about it below.

The post Gain an Unfair Advantage With 10 Underutilized Traffic Sources for Startups appeared first on Sujan Patel.

Successful content campaigns increasingly have a common element: engagement. The more engaging your content, the more stimulated your audience. The more stimulated and engaged your audience, the faster you’ll reach your marketing goals. Easy, right?

But when your audience is inundated every day with attention-seeking material through social, email, their own browsing searches, and the demands of the physical world – living, breathing, gravity, all that – it can be difficult to create the content that really gets them leaning forward, gets them active.

Instead of just skimming the usual headlines and subheadlines of static content – ebooks, whitepapers, even video is a passive experience – interactive content invites you to respond, right then and there. As both an award and an intrigue, the more you respond – the more personal results you’ll get.

Think of the ability to calculate your own departments ROI by using a customizable calculator, or quickly navigating a product picker assessment that identifies exactly the right choice, without having to do comparisons, talk to sales, sit on hold.

The above are just some very practical examples of interactive content – the possibilities are endless, as is the impact it can have on your audience.

To explore this impact more in depth with someone who knows a thing or two about reaching an audience, we sat down with marketing expert Neil Patel to talk about how to create engaging content.

Co-founder of SaaS tools Crazy Egg, Kissmetrics, and Hello Bar, Neil is also the founder of the web content consulting company Quick Sprout. As a popular events speaker across the globe and an avid blogger of marketing and entrepreneurial insights, if you haven’t yet been acquainted with Neil, you’re in for a wealth of knowledge. And, also, where you been?

Find out some of the key ingredients for creating engaging content in this week’s segment of The Tuning Fork below!

What is the value of content? How do you think about it?

If you can write something that’s educational or informational – something that someone can read and say “wow, I could change this in my business, I could change this in my diet, I could change this in my personal life,” and be happier, get results, make more money, whatever it may be… if you’re writing such great content that’s actionable and clear and which most people can usually understand, and more importantly implement, you’ll change people’s lives. That’s how you can build a really loyal brand through content marketing.

What’s so great about interactive content?

If it’s interactive in a visual format, especially – for example, there are animated infographics or gifographics in which you click and it changes and it can explain, let’s say, how a car engine works. The animated information, especially in content form, ones that you can interact with, helps people understand your core message in a much simpler way.

Think about a college lecture. When you’re in a college class and the teacher talks at you, there’s no engagement. They’re talking to a class full of 200 people.

What’s going to happen to a percentage of those people? Some are going to pay attention. Another portion will be really attentive, taking notes, highlighting stuff, then you’ll get another portion that are daydreaming, thinking about other stuff. Then you’ll get another portion of people who are actually sleeping. But when you engage and you interact, they’re much more likely to learn, do something, versus just pushing stuff down their throat. And that’s the beautiful part about content. When you make the content interactive, whether it’s text format or image format or anything like that, people will start learning more. Because they’re engaging. And that’s the key to helping people: it’s to make sure that they’re engaged.

And if your content isn’t engaging, yeah, sure, some people will learn and some people will love it, but a decent portion is just going to bounce off or ignore you or fall asleep.

Is there different content that’s better for different people? How do you know?

It comes down to surveying. If you survey your audience and try to learn from them and understand what they need or want, you’ll get more data from them on what you should adjust. There is no one key solution, it’s surveying to find out what they want and then giving it to them.

Was there a trigger for you in thinking about the power and value of engagement?

I saw that other people were creating engaging content and their content was going viral. And I was like wow, creating something more engaging does way better than just trying to shove things down people’s throats.

Is there a difference between something being valuable and something being engaging?

I think it goes hand in hand. If you can create something that’s really valuable, people will love it, and if it’s engaging, you’ll do even better.

Is interactive content most valuable at one point in the funnel than another?

It’s valuable in two ways. One, getting people engaged on the front end, since it attracts more visitors and those visitors are more likely to convert. And then two, throughout your funnel, you can do interactive content even as simple as making them fill out a survey – because the more engaged they get, the more likely they are to go through the rest of your funnel and buy.

Why is it so hard for marketers to take risks with what they create?

A lot of the time with marketers, they don’t know how to do a lot of these things. It’s still a new space. And on top of that, they usually work for someone, so they have to prove the ROI and prove it’s worth it, and when something’s new it’s tougher for them to be willing to take risks because it’s not always up to them.

I’ve written articles in the past on topics like “The ROI of Content Marketing” and they’ve always done really well because of it. And what that tells me is people aren’t sure if what they’re doing is worth doing, because they’re searching for these types of terms, so that means people are uncertain – and if they’re uncertain, they’re less likely to take the risk.

What’s getting you excited in marketing right now?

Personalization is the big thing, in content marketing especially. Think about Facebook. You go on Facebook, they’re only showing you what they think you’ll want to see. That’s what will happen with blogs. Why can’t I go to CNN and them show me only the blog posts they think will appeal to me? They have my history of what I’ve read and what I’ve viewed. Personalization for me looks like just giving people what they want when they want it and not showing them anything else, like this CNN example.

What would you recommend for someone who’s never created interactive content before?

Go find interactive pieces in similar industries and learn from them. Then figure out what you want to create first. But do your research before you start creating. Marketers go wrong by just creating based off whatever they want versus using data, trying to understand the reader, before they start putting any information out there.

It’s just awesome. If you haven’t used it, you should consider trying it. What’s the worst that could happen? You don’t get results? You learn from that and you can try again or you can go back to doing what you were doing. But it usually works pretty well, and it’s worth a shot.

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Have you ever seen a piece of content and had a déjà-vu moment?

You say to yourself, “I’ve read this before, and I know I’ve seen the gray-haired man holding an iPad somewhere.”

B2B content has become pretty formulaic.

Insert ‘Top 10’ list headline here.

Insert stock photo of a businessman jumping in the air there.

If you want to stand out in this explosion of digital content, you need to get smarter with your content and create content that differentiates your brand and supports your message. And you need to do it 10x better than your competition.

Start by banning these 11 overused stock photos from your B2B marketing:

1. The Futuristic Woman Touching a Screen

Wearing Star Trek glasses while touching a transparent screen is totally representative of what working in B2B is like, right?

2. The Headset Hottie

The headset hottie is the quintessential overused stock photo. She’s everywhere—from working at online universities, to working for startups, to selling sunglasses online— and everywhere in between.

She’s usually a great tip off that your first touchpoint with a company will be with a call center employee in Manila. If there’s one stock photo you should never use, it’s the headset hottie.

3. The Gray Haired Businessman

No B2B website would be complete without a silver fox in a modern office space. I’m not sure exactly what he does at the company, or how he helps support marketing objectives, but at least he’s nice to look at.

A photo of a real executive or customer would be 10x more effective, though.

4. The Forced High Five

Nothing says teamwork like the forced high five!

5. The Executive Wearing a Hardhat

I’ve seen this stock photo on websites ranging from marketing content to high-tech to B2B agencies: all completely unrelated to construction.

6. The Businessman in a Field

Either he just quit his job, or he is on his way to a music festival after leaving work.

Wait, that doesn’t make sense. And neither does this image. Ban it from your marketing.

7. The Woman in a Black Suit With Folded Arms

Almost as popular as the headset hottie, the woman in a black suit with folded arms can usually be found standing in front of a white backdrop, or standing in front of office windows and doors, or with a perfectly age-balanced team behind her.

Is she really the best representative of your company or your customers? I didn’t think so.

8. The Man on His Phone Outside of His Office Building

Is he on his way to work, sneaking out of the office to text his girlfriend, or is he taking a selfie? I can’t figure it out, and I bet your target audience can’t either.

9. The Computer Circuit Board

It’s 2016, and as of May 17th, these stock photos are still all over Fortune 500 websites. Computer circuit board images are so AOL circa-1995. For the love of all things creative, stop using these images. Now.

10. The Faceless Man Adjusting His Tie

Admittedly, I’ve used the faceless man with a tie to promote webinars. You may have too. I bet it didn’t help your webinar numbers.

11. The Token Young & Casual Guys in Plaid or Denim

Nothing says “we’re young and our perks include ping pong tables” like the token young and casual guys. I’ve seen these guys on the website of a blue chip Fortune 500, and also on the website of a hip coworking space, so heed caution. It’s hard to get your brand and message across when you use the same stock photos as everyone else.

We Can Do Better

While most of us are guilty of using these cliche stock photos in our B2B marketing, we can do better.

  • Instead of slapping the forced high five team photo onto a landing page with a short form, create a product configurator with photos of your sales team members. This will humanize your brand, and I can guarantee you, your competition isn’t doing it.
  • Instead of putting the silver fox on a white paper landing page, create a ROI calculator, and introduce your audience to your CEO or CTO

You get the idea.

Content production is only going to continue to increase, so there is no better time to focus on differentiating your brand.

And that starts with banning headset hotties from your marketing content.

This post appeared first on SnapApp.

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At the beginning of every lead generation initiative, it’s important to understand the difference between inbound and outbound lead generation. The concepts behind each approach use different execution methods so it’s vital to comprehend the logic behind them before you start out.

Here’s a quick guide to inbound and outbound lead generation, and what each approach can do for your business.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound Lead Generation is also called “interruption lead generation”. Using this approach, the marketer initiates the first interaction by sending out a message to potential leads. The best examples of outbound lead generation are direct emails and phone calls.

In today’s highly connected world, there has been some debate about the effectiveness and relevance of outbound lead generation techniques. While it’s a more “old school” approach, the outbound lead generation method can still work if spruced up with some of today’s modern tactics and technologies.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound Lead Generation is when you allow your prospects to come to you through SEO and the provision of valuable content. Unlike outbound lead generation, it’s the prospect who decides when and how they will reach you.

The best example of inbound lead generation is content marketing, which is where you publish relevant content with the intent of attracting your target audience to your brand’s website. However, one of the main challenges of inbound lead generation is standing out from the crowd. Even if you provide compelling content and utilize paid ads, it can still be difficult to remain visible amidst the competition.

Which is better?

Inbound and outbound lead generation are like two Girl Scouts selling cookies. Despite being called “interruptive”, the outbound lead generation is the more traditional Girl Scout who goes from one house to the next, politely inquiring if people want to buy some cookies.

Inbound lead generation is more like the creative Girl Scout, who makes posters and flyers, and even leverages the power of trending news in social media to tell a vast pool of potential customers she’s offering 10 percent off to the first 100 customers.

She’s like the brilliant Girl Scout troop who used Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent Oscar history to sell cookies. She doesn’t approach the customers one by one to make her case. Instead, she chooses a stage (communication medium) and makes her pitch.

While both Girl Scouts have equal chances of selling cookies, it seems that the second Girl Scout was able to cast a wider net. To better demonstrate the pros and cons of inbound and outbound lead generation, we’ve created the table below.

Inbound Outbound Infographic

Shared Goals

Despite their differences, inbound, and outbound lead generation approaches share the same goal. The desired outcome is always to generate leads. They also both function best when you have a clear and specific target audience, knowledge of where your audience is and how you can reach them.

Both approaches understand the need for incentive and regardless of which method you use; every initiative requires some form of lead nurturing.

Outbound lead generation can produce results quickly when done right. Inbound lead generation usually takes a longer time to implement but can potentially lead to more opportunities over a longer period.

The most efficient lead generation strategies utilize a combination of both approaches, but the key is to understand your target audience so you can leverage the most cost-effective practices to reach them.

The post Outbound VS Inbound Lead Generation: Know the Difference [Infographic] appeared first on PureB2B.

Does your content marketing strategy look very much like this process?

You realize your competitors all have a content marketing program, so you decide that you will launch one too. You rush to develop your content strategy, copying everything your competitors are doing.

Then you ask one of your marketing managers to take on the content marketer role to drive the program. Your team creates 20 blog posts and promote on all your social channels, and you wait for your audience to read and share with their networks and for quality leads to start coming in.

But days and weeks passed, and you’ve only gotten 100 reads. You desperately create a newsletter campaign to try to boost your readership. And at the same time, it just hits you that you’ve got a meeting with the leadership team in a week to present your content marketing program. What KPIs and objectives should you use? You start pulling together stats on the number of impressions, likes and anything else that might help prove the ROI of your content marketing efforts…

This may sound like an exaggeration to some, but this is the reality for many brands. According to the 2016 B2B and B2C Content Marketing reports from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, nearly 70% of marketers say their organizations do not have a documented content marketing strategy, and more than half of all B2B and B2C marketers are unclear or unsure about what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like.

Even with the best technologies, analytics and teams of writers, editors and graphic designers, if your brand is publishing without purpose and planning, your content marketing efforts will not be successful. Publishing just for the sake of publishing is simply not effective content marketing.

If you are looking to develop or improve your content marketing programs, here are some best practices from Contently to help you get started.

Step 1: Define Your Objectives And KPIs

Without clear goals and metrics to measure success, you cannot fully evaluate and improve your content marketing efforts over time. Leading marketing organizations go beyond vanity metrics such as likes and standard metrics like leads and sales, they look at metrics that measure how their marketing efforts are developing deeper relationships with customers and impacting overall business objectives, such as cost savings, productivity improvement and risk management.

Step 2: Define Audience And Channels

The rise of social media has made consumers more segmented across the web, with their attention split across multiple channels that fit their media preferences and needs. To be able to capture and earn consumer attention, you need to find out where your target audience is spending their time. And since each platform serves a unique audience base, you also need to identify the content that caters to that specific group.

To do so, you need to go beyond traditional demographics like age, geography and income, and ask yourself what sort of challenges, motivators and behaviors individuals in your target audience have in common. The answers to these questions will provide insights into your target audience’s pain points and triggers, which can inspire different content ideas and formats to reach and engage each audience group.

Step 3: Map To Sales Funnel

Now that you have your consumers’ pain points, motivation drivers and triggers identified, the next step is to map them to each stage of the buyer journey against the sales funnel. Here’s an example from Contently below:

Step 4: Determine Your Channel Strategy

With an ever-growing number of social media channels and platforms, you want to find out where your target consumers already spend time to research and find information related to your product and industry.

Once you have your list, narrow down to ones that are high traffic, popular sites where you think prospects may be receptive to your brand message. You will also want to use web analytics to find out which sources and channels your audience comes from, and identify the content formats that resonate with the audience for each channel.

As well, find out where your prospects and competitors share content through traffic and referral data sites like Alexa as well as content marketing tools like BuzzSumo.

Step 5: Identify Market Opportunity

Now that you have developed your channel strategy, what content should you create for these platforms? To identify your content marketing opportunities, you want to find out what your competitors are publishing and not publishing – the latter would be opportunities for you to leverage and stand out from your competition.

Look at which customer pain points you can help solve through your content. Then develop your own unique voice and perspective that you want your brand to be identified with. Seek to add original insights and value to your readers. Here are a couple more ways to help you beat your competition at content marketing.

Step 6: Evaluate Existing Resources And Processes

Your content marketing efforts won’t be successful if you don’t have the appropriate resources and processes to support them. Contently advises marketers to not only evaluate their existing budget, content, technology and headcount, but to also conduct an “honest assessment of how all of an organization’s content resources fit together, and where additional talent, technology and processes are needed.” Below is a list of questions to support you with this evaluation process.

Step 7: Create Your Content Plan

Now that you’re ready to start developing your content plan, here’s what your plan should include:

  • Input from Step #1-6: your content objectives, KPIs, audience definition, channels strategy, market opportunity, resources and processes
  • Content to create
  • Channels through which you will engage your audience with your content
  • Contributors who will create content
  • Workflow to create, produce, approve and publish content

With the content that will be created, you want to include your content topics, categories and subcategories, formats, frequency, production budget and share of overall content production. Here’s a sample template from Contently:

You’ll also want to turn this into an editorial calendar so you can visually see how all your content pieces map out.

The next step is to strategize how content will be distributed through various channels, both owned and paid platforms. You will also want to outline how all internal teams can leverage the content that will be created, to identify collaboration opportunities and to also highlight how your content adds value to your organization.

Here’s an example of what this may look like (excluding internal teams):

To help you stay on top of all your content contributors, topics, formats and budget, you’ll want to document all these items down so you can track everything.


And finally, here’s a template example from Contently on how you could outline the workflow and process through which content is created, produced, approved and published.

 


Step 8: Test, Evaluate And Optimize

Developing and executing your content plan is half the battle, you’ll also need to evaluate and optimize your strategy to continue improving your content marketing programs.

To do so, you want to evaluate the performance of your content based on each topic or format, the channels that engage your audience most deeply, and the content contributors who deliver the strongest results against your KPIs.

When you track this data on an ongoing basis, you’ll be able to identify which types of content are working (or not working), which channels drive the greatest ROI to prioritize for future content distribution, and which contributors to recognize and reward or require further coaching and support to deliver content that will best engage your audience.

By repeating this process regularly, you can truly create, execute and optimize your content marketing programs for success, delivering compelling content that reaches, engages and converts your target consumers.

What other tips or best practices have helped you develop a successful content marketing program? Please share your ideas below!

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help. 

Photo Source

Got a great campaign idea? Make it even stronger with a microsite, which will give curious customers the information they need without a complicated search.

Microsite or Landing Page?

It can be tempting to lump microsites with landing pages, but they’re actually separate solutions to different problems. A landing page is hyper-focused and specifically designed to encourage audiences to answer a call to action. So, say an organization is looking for signatures on a petition or contact info in exchange for an eBook, a great landing page is absolutely the way to go. In content marketing, landing pages are usually leveraged in this way—a form to be completed by your visitors in exchange for a piece of content such as a whitepaper.

A microsite, in contrast, is a branded content site that exists independently of a company homepage and URL, so it’s the perfect space to offer multi-level, interactive engagement for a highly specific campaign or topic. Microsites allow audiences to get detailed information about a product or service without getting lost (and distracted) in the layers of content on an all-encompassing company site.

And while websites and landing pages certainly have their uses, here are a few reasons microsites are the best solution for capturing and holding interest.

Rise Above the Content Marketing Fray

Buyers are more connected to brands than ever, and they’re using mobile, tablets and desktop to gather as much information as they can before they make purchase decisions. A recent Ad Age study found that 94% of consumers used multiple devices to research before they made purchases. To meet buyer demand, three quarters of marketers plan to produce more content in the coming year than they did last year.

An interactive microsite helps audiences find relevant information at a touch, rather than forcing them to slog through pages of irrelevant content hoping to stumble upon the information they’re looking for. Microsites are also great for drawing new leads that might have been lost on a larger page.

Precision Branding

When pop star Rihanna teamed up with footwear legend Manolo Blahnik for a highly anticipated shoe collection, the two incredibly popular brands merged on a microsite to create an interactive lookbook that not only showcased the collection, but also included two sharable videos outlining the creation process behind the product as well as purchase information.

Microsites are the perfect solution for creating specific branding around a new or limited addition product because they allow established brands room to experiment without altering logos and personalities on existing webpages and social media accounts. A word of caution from the RihannaxManolo campaign: anticipate audience interest. Their brand collaboration was so well received users crashed the microsite!

Personalize Content

While marketers are producing more content than ever, many are forgetting to keep the focus on the audience, leaving many buyers feeling talked at rather than engaged in conversation. A recent study found that 54% of B2B buyers wanted more personalized recommendations across interactions, and 51% wanted more information about promotions or special offers.

A microsite can answer both problems by providing specific, personalized information about products, but they can also go one step further. Marketers can actually create personalized URLs for each contact on a list, which is a particularly effective solution for account-based marketing, or marketing to an entire organization instead of an individual. Personalizing microsite URLs can make a campaign tailored to an entire company feel as 1:1 as an individually targeted campaign.

Create Sharable, Interactive Experiences

However, the most personal, informative microsite in the world might not be enough if audiences aren’t engaging. It’s important to make sure that users are interacting with content once they click to get the most out of your microsite.

Case in point, when Domino’s introduced its new delivery vehicles, DXPs, the brand wanted to show off the in-vehicle ovens, storage capacity and design, so it created a microsite that allowed users to get behind the wheel in a fun game that showcased the cars rather than the pizza. Once users were sharing and engaging, Domino’s took the experience one step further by linking the microsite to an interactive social media experience that gamified the delivery process even further. Using games, quizzes, and interactive infographics on microsites is an easy, highly sharable way to encourage audiences to play with the product, learning more in the process.

Convert Leads

Microsites are great at generating new attention, but they’re also highly effective at converting new leads. One study found that dedicated microsites could increase conversion by as much as 50%. However, those conversions are much more likely for microsites that not only provide hyper-focused product information, but also make the information gathering process fun by creating meaningful, personalized engagement through interactive content.

In the B2B selling world there is near universal appreciation for the value of sales coaching. Research indicates significant impact on forecasted deal win rates, revenue growth and other selling metrics. Research from The Sales Management Association show sales people believe it’s the most important, least supported sales resource.

The constraints are equally clear. The big impediments are no surprise: lack of sales manager time, skills, and accountability.

We discovered a core cause of these constraints that makes the situation look even worse. It explains why, despite the universal acknowledgement of coaching importance, it isn’t being conducted regularly and effectively.

This discovery made us appreciate the current approach to sales coaching will never be universally executed effectively and consistently. If it could, it would have. It’s simply too difficult. A new approach is needed.

What Are We Coaching For?

The top level objective of sales coaching is clear. We’re coaching sales performance to drive better results. But what does this really mean?

To make sales coaching effective, managers or coaches must know the specific performance elements that require coaching. They must experience how reps actually perform, in the arena, in conversations with customers and prospects.

Sales coaches listen for rep knowledge and understanding, skills and techniques, and specific sales behaviors.

Important coaching behaviors on our checklist include how sales reps:

  • Open a call
  • Set the agenda, “set up the listening
  • Establish rapport and relatedness that opens trust
  • Review prior conversations, activity and information that provides background or context for the current meeting
  • Use questions effectively to guide conversations
  • Listen — listen actively, and without “stepping on” speakers (my personal challenge)
  • Manage meeting time and flow
  • Respond to buyer questions, objections and competitor traps effectively
  • Deliver key points, stories and presentations effectively
  • Uncover all information that is appropriate or required for each conversation
  • Validate key information and understanding
  • Gain commitment to actions, ground rules and next steps
  • Execute new sales competencies, such as:
    • Use social media
    • Use content to sell
    • Educate and facilitate consensus of buying teams (CEB, Challenger Customer)

This is often referred to as situational competency, or situational fluency. Focus is on how reps actually perform in the heat of battle.

Training and role-playing is for sales preparation and practice. Coaching is for in-game adjustments.

Sales Coaching Tools And Technologies

Two technology categories that enable sales coaching have been available for decades. Modern technology, bandwidth and delivery systems make the experience much richer today.

Just-in-time learning, guided selling, and performance support systems deliver situationally relevant text, video or content recommendations.

Video training applications are becoming especially popular and functionally rich.

These applications are excellent for training and getting reps to practice telling their story, presentation or key point explanations. Reps experience feedback both by viewing video role plays and receiving feedback from sales managers or coaches based on those recordings.

Companies in this space include Brainshark, CommercialTribe and HireVue, among others.

These systems support coaching based on simulated performance rather than on evaluation of actual performance and situational fluency.

There is certainly a great need to get key stories, presentations, objection handling, technical explanations and other important “messages” delivered effectively. But message delivery is just one aspect of professional selling that benefits from coaching.

Companies are also trying desperately to shift sales rep behavior away from traditional, product-feature-benefit pitches. They are looking to instill value generating conversations based on dialogue, questioning and active listening.

This is a significant area where sales coaching is required.

Sales Coaching For Situational Fluency Requires The Right Information

So how do you get the information to do this?

The general understanding is sales managers or coaches need to actually be in sales conversations. It’s called the ride along, joint call, or conference call. And it makes sense, right?

Without direct sales call experience, it’s difficult for coaches to know the what, why and how to coach. It’s this factor that is the underlying cause of the time problem, the biggest inhibitor of regular and effective sales coaching. 

The answer lies in time shifting sales conversations. 

This is accomplished simply through audio recording sales calls. This is something we’ve done in our organization for fifteen years. Inside sales teams have made this a regular practice for a long time.

But outside reps have been constrained by cumbersome technology to accomplish this. We used small (first analog, then) digital recorders. The audio file had to be downloaded. The average one hour call was tedious to review. But the concept was sound, and it worked if we put in the effort.

Today, the iPad and related devices easily record digital files. Apps like CaptureAudio (see iPhone App Store) are suitable for use by individuals and small businesses. A system from SpearFysh (Commercial Conversation Management Platform) provides a robust enterprise solution. These applications enable reps to record conversations and mark key segments of audio during the conversation. Custom tags categorize the audio in meaningful ways for each conversation type.

Marked audio files remove the linear review process. With a good, simple tagging scheme, relevant sections can be instantly played. An inventory of sales conversations can be maintained and shared.

This means coaches don’t need to be in the meeting. Decisions about which meetings to use for coaching can be made based on the results of calls. Coaching can be conducted at the convenience of rep and coach.

Three Levels Of Coaching

Once you have coaching data, your coaching possibilities open.

Sales reps can self-coach. This is similar to professional athletes reviewing game tapes. This actually increases coaching moments, as reps can review every important conversation. Manager/coaches must be more selective.

Peer coaching becomes possible. I’ve long favored the principle, “we teach best what we most need to learn.” By making everyone a coach, greater learning opportunities open up. You can begin to create a culture of coaching. Reps can compare their conversations with those of the best reps, for each type of conversation.

Professional third party coaches are an important option. You may not be able to change the reality in your organization of time availability for managers to coach. Not all managers have the skills, temperament, and freedom from organizational pressures to provide effective coaching. Third party coaches are a great option.

Sales coaching based on actual performance is the best way to coach. Selecting the best coaches is important as well. Recording sales conversations removes the need for coaches to experience meetings in order to coach. Time-shifting the coaching meeting opens all kinds of sales effectiveness possibilities.

The post Capture Sales “Situational Fluency” for Effective B2B Sales Coaching appeared first on Avitage.

As everyone knows, a logo is the original image of the full or abbreviated name of a brand or a special non-alphabetic figure. Psychologists say that the logo is a true indicator of the success of the project in the eyes of a visitor and a certain signal of trust.

As a rule, a logo reflects not only the brand’s name or slogan but also the basic idea, the call to the audience, and so on (you can see the examples of good logos here).

Before creating the logo by yourself or preparing the task to the designers, please consider the following tips:

  • What is the business of your company? Who is the target audience? Clear answers to these two questions will help you in defining the logo concept.
  • Make sketches on the paper along with keywords.
  • Think about the emotional idea of the logo. For example, you can use symbolism or, conversely, irony, etc. It depends on the main purpose of the logo, i.e. the message you want to convey to customers.
  • To be scalable without quality loss, the logo must be of a vector format. To create such a logo, you can use Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator.
  • Do not include any marks of others that may be protected by law (for example, coat of arms and flag of the country, well-known logos, etc.) or agree such an inclusion with appropriate representatives.
  • Make sure that the logo is balanced (you can see good examples of such ones here). If it consists of at least two elements – they must be in balance and harmony (check it by the sense of the greatest possible number of independent observers).
  • Decide whether to use complex graphics effects in the logo. For example, if you plan to use the logo in web design, the gradient will help it to become more volumetric and deep. If printing on billboards or low tide in metal or plastic, the gradient is not appropriate.
  • Try your logo in black and white. A good logo should work in one color. Complex and multi-colored logos have many limitations. The correct logo should not lose its qualities due to the reversal of colors and monochromaticism.

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On this url, you’ll find some awkward result of “impressive” design skills.

The Simplest Methods to Make the Logo More Attractive

  • Pouring. Pour paint letters with a spectrum of colors to revive the logo and make it less formal. Q, O, D are the most suitable letters since they have enough inner space. Trying to fill in any other letter with a small color area, you may just blur it. Using structural pouring, please choose not more than a few basic colors.
  • Use geometry. For example, you can make the inscription in a certain geometrical figure: circle, ellipse, square, etc. At first glance, it’s a primitive method, but you can apply associative approach: for example, a circle or an oval with lines of latitude and longitude successfully applied in the field of international relations or travel.
  • Abbreviation. This method is the leader in the number of produced logos. If you are too lazy to come up with something, the abbreviation may play well for you. Check out the examples of such logos at this website.

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Of course, you can’t design a high-quality logo without paying due attention to the psychology of color. If you want to create a sustained and business style, please use “cool” colors like blue, violet, and turquoise or gradation from black to white through shades of gray. To create a more emotional and “living” design, use “warm” color like shades of orange, green, yellow, and red. By increasing the level of color saturation, you can make the design more emotional and memorable, and vice versa.

A sense of depth and space emphasizes the “realness” of the picture and focuses on the future. This technique is used not so often, but, nevertheless, it is very effective.

The Factors that Could Negatively Affect the Perception of the Logo

  • Social: the logo is too obviously focused on the rich customers.
  • Geographical: violation of the traditions of your target audience.
  • Political: connecting your brand with certain political beliefs or figures.
  • Religious: every religion has its inherent symbolism and vocabulary, the use of which can attract or repel the supporters.

The professionally designed logo can give your business a significant boost and help to attract the attention of customers, and that is exactly what you need. The logo is a visual representation of your company, a sign that gives answers to questions about your products and services. Each logo requires a unique approach that can be found combining theory and practical experience.

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of persuasion. Going back to biblical times, the entire point of fables was to persuade the population to do the right thing. Nowadays, storytelling is used to sell us everything from cars to vacations. As you may have noticed by all those new cars on the streets, it’s very effective.

Storytelling can be used in every form of media. Social media, radio ads, blog posts and of course television. When you put storytelling to use for your business, it will help you persuade consumers to make a purchase or sign up for an email list.

Here are the fundamentals that will help you tell a successful story.

Story Structure

Every story has a structure. In its most basic form, there’s a beginning, middle and end. However, the real juicy part happens in the middle: The climax. In the most effective stories, the climax is where the real drama happens. You don’t want your story to be anti-climactic! (Pun intended!)

When telling a story, you want to create a plot with characters and situations your audience can relate to. Once you do that, you take your plot to a climax and gently let them back down again. This is the foundation of a great story.

For example, a story about a couple buying a car isn’t that exciting. A couple worried that they can’t afford a car, only at the moment of price reveal (the climax) do they realize they actually can. This is where the persuasion comes in: you’re telling the audience you can afford more car than you think.

Continuity Across Ads

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Telling a story doesn’t mean it lives and dies with one article or ad. You can tell your story across multiple ads, channels, and formats. Dos Equis created the character of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” and were able to tell that story in multiple television ads, online, and in-store materials. When you create a story, make sure there’s continuity across all formats and platforms.

Make Story Relatable

As you’ve read on Marketing Insider Group before, you need to make your story relatable. If your audience can’t relate to the story, they won’t care about it. Try to tell stories that fit into their lives.

For example, a story about life on the farm may not be all that relatable to an audience that consists of city dwellers. Or a story about having children wouldn’t be relatable if your audience is mostly teenagers or single adults. Make your story relate to their lives for the biggest impact. If they can see themselves in the scenario, they’ll be more connected to it.

Be Emotional

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Much like making the story relatable it’s all about allowing your audience to connect emotionally to the story you are telling. If they care about the characters and what happens to them, or your story makes them think about their own lives, you’ll be able to control how they feel about your brand.

A great example is how sports brands use this technique on a regular basis with popular athletes. You already care about the character (or the team the athlete plays for), and that character cares about and uses the brand. Have you ever seen a person more emotional at a random event that a sports fan? A story about car crashes and showing a toddler being thrown about will resonate with mothers. Get emotional.

Use Local Stories

The more local the story, the more you can relate to people and their emotions. Try to find stories in your local community, state or country. People feel really connected to those in their community. The more you can pull them into a local story, the more you’ll be able to persuade them to care and take action.

One way of doing this is talking about how your product or service impacts the local community. Tell the story of how your product and service makes the lives of residents better. For example, your sports store can tell stories of how they have helped to create memorable moments for hundreds of local kids.

Feature Your Product

downloadIt’s easy to forget that you’re supposed to be talking about your product or service when you’re telling a great story. Make sure your goal is front and center.

A great example is Blendtec’s “will it blend” campaign. All they did was tell a story that asked a simple question – what will in fact blend. From iPhones to Golf Balls, it was all about blending things. People were invested in the story. Who doesn’t want to know if golf balls will blend?

Blendtec is also a great example of a climax. And you care about the result. Most importantly, it’s all about the blender. That’s the main tool used. Feature your product or service.

Leave Them Wanting More

Just like Blendtec left you wanting to see more stuff blended, make sure your story leaves the audience wanting more. This is what makes a hit TV show or comic book so valuable – people want to see or read the next one.

Even with Dos Equis, there was always more to the story. The tagline was always the same, but the audience never knew what interesting endeavor he would get up to first.

Be Authentic

Don’t try to be anything other than what you are. Consumers are savvy, and you’ll lose all your ability to persuade them if they think you’re not being authentic. Do your best to tell a genuine story they can relate to.

Think about annoying commercials and pop-up ads. These commercials are usually not very authentic. The story they tell is fake, and you’re not buying it. Compare this to the story you see when watching an Old Spice commercial. It engages you and seems more authentic. It makes a big difference. Ask yourself – are you creating a story or a commercial? That’s the difference. There are plenty of writing tools that can help you.

Stories of Possibilities

It’s always good to have the story tell the audience how their lives will be improved by your product or service. Much like the car crash example above, this is the story of how Volvo makes your child safer. If the audience can envision that possibility, you’ve just persuaded them.

Telling stories is a great way to get attention, hook them in, and help persuade them to purchase a product or service. Just make sure you connect with them. The story alone won’t do it – it needs to be a good story. Get creative.

You probably have an amazing marketing department that is constantly creating interesting, value-packed content that moves leads down the sales funnel, right? Of course you do.

But it’s possible that you may be undervaluing the impact your content can have when it’s more integrated with your sales team’s actions – and that has to change.

Why? Because when your sales team is able to leverage your content and learn key insights with the engagement data that comes from it (what role they are, what they’re interested in, company size), your content becomes even more powerful as a sales tool.

With this data, sales teams are able to optimize and scale their SQLs (sales qualified leads) by determining which MQLs (marketing qualified leads) are Super MQLS – all before sales vetting and call attempt. This data also allows the right follow-up information to be sent to the right people at the right time.

In this post, we’ll look at what content for sales enablement really is, as well as examples that showcase how both marketing and sales team can use it to more effectively drive sales.

What Is Content for Sales Enablement?

First things first: Let’s get on the same page about content for sales enablement. Different companies define it in different ways, but for the most part, it’s just what it sounds like – content that enables sales.

According to a survey from DemandMetric, marketers define sales enablement content as:

  • Print materials and assets (like whitepapers, brochures, etc.)
  • Value-packed blog posts
  • Case studies/testimonials
  • Onboarding/training (like a drip email campaign)
  • Interactive content (like a interactive calculator as a lead gen tool)

And what’s more: Three-fourths see it as valuable, essential material. 75% of marketers said sales enablement content makes a moderate to significant contribution to the sales process. So it makes sense that both the marketing and sales team should have an open dialogue around this content.

To really maximize sales enablement content, you need your content to be doing the work for you. While case studies and testimonials are definitely helpful for bottom-of-the-funnel leads, using interactive content to pose questions and receive opinions is really what will take your MQLs to the next level, and drastically scale your sales efforts in the process.

Let’s explore what this type of sales enablement content looks like in action.

Examples of Interactive Sales Enablement Content

Now that we understand what sales enablement content is, let’s look at an example and break down why it’s so effective. First, we’ll look at two assessments.

Maybe you’re wondering, “How does an assessment like this one enable sales?”

First of all, an assessment is a piece of content that feels individualized to a specific issue for the user – it helps tease out a pain point that preps them for a simple, easy solution.

Beyond this, it’s a great tool for the sales department because it moves buyers a little bit further down the funnel as they work through the assessment.

The more the leads think about the specific obstacles they are facing, the more they become aware of how much they need something to address it.

It gets better: Often, sales has a series of questions they ask every prospect to grade how good the prospect is. Having specific content like assessments, roi calculators, and product pickers starts capturing that critical information as part of your content-enabled campaigns, pre-sales.

With this data, that initial vetting effort from sales is minimized or skipped completely, allowing the team to focus their effort on “super MQLS,” spending more time closing deals, and less sorting through unqualified leads.

Sales works more higher qualified leads, and marketing improves its scoring efforts and creates customized nurture streams to further leads through the funnel – all leading to greater efficiency, and increased revenue.

Lastly, well designed sales-enablement content provides a richer experience for prospects. Positioning assessments, polls, or quizzes to allow the lead to learn something about themselves or their organization in process is a much less “salesy” experience. There’s no person on the other end making a pitch – the customer just works through the discovery process in a low-intensity, low-commitment context.

Which Big Data Blueprint Is Right for You?

Pentaho, a big data integration and analytics solution, used a product picker assessment that asks lower-funnel prospects specific questions about their current data process and problem points.

 

This assessment bucketed users into four product groups/ sales use cases. The lead data went directly to their Marketo and Salesforce databases that allowed sales to follow up with powerful insights to the organization’s needs.

325 of the leads created through the content were qualified to Sales Accepted Leads with the data received. Over $200k in pipeline was directly attributed to the interactive assessment.

Realize Real Results

Blackbaud, a marketing platform for non-profits, has seen content for sales enablement produce amazing results.

They launched a microsite called Realize Real Results, which included different types of content (including interactive calculators and assessments.) The microsite was promoted across various marketing channels over the course of one month.

Sales reps were able to use the data from the calculators as talking points during discovery calls, creating a more informed conversation. For leads that have not used the calculator, they were invited to put in their own metrics right on the call and see the results in real-time.

Content results:

  • 52% click rate on landing page
  • 56% lead conversion
  • 500 qualified leads
  • 133% Q1 quota attainment
  • $600k add’l Q1 sales

Pretty impressive, right? The content for sales enablement deployed here produced real, tangible ROI – and allowed both the marketing and sales teams to work together to outpace their goals.

Where Sales and Marketing Unite

As you can probably see, content marketing and sales enablement are the place where the marketing and sales teams need to overlap and work together.

It’s no longer enough to just create great content and put it out in the world – it needs to relate back to a larger sales strategy and produce valuable customer data that both teams can put to good use.

Ask yourself: Are your marketing and sales team effectively collaborating in the content department? If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your approach.

This post appeared first on SnapApp.

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