Monthly Archives: June 2017

How to Make Your Blog Posts Generate Serious Leads

By Michael Brenner on June 19, 2017

Your blog either has that all important ‘it’ factor, or it doesn’t. You’re either generating significant leads from your posts or not.

If you’re not, you’re also missing out on an exponentially beneficial competitive advantage that other businesses are enjoying.

B2B marketers garner 67 percent more leads when they use a blog than when they don’t. You’re also losing out on the sustainable website traffic – and potential droves of qualified leads – with the 97 percent more inbound links you’ll have popping up throughout the web, directing more online users to your site.

When your blog content is valuable, it becomes a resource, not just for your market but also for your industry. Over time, more sites will link to your useful posts, attracting more potential leads to your site without you having to put in more work to generate those leads.

Why do some businesses seem to have the secrets of lead generation abundance figured out? While others simply aren’t getting results?

The truth is, there is a lot that goes into crafting excellent blog posts, the kind that will attract plenty of organic traffic but also compel readers to take that next step and become a lead.

Ready to turn your blog into a machine for lead generation? Here are the essentials you want to master to ensure your blog is doing its job.

Put a Lot of Effort Into Your Opening

Your first goal with your blog isn’t to generate leads but rather to get your audience to read your post. You only have a few seconds to impress your readers and capture their attention.

When looking at both B2B and B2C blogs, the average time someone spends on a post is a whopping 37 seconds. Yep, the time it takes you to pour your coffee, stir in your creamer and sigh is all the time your readers are going to spend for your average post, no matter how many hours you spent creating it.

How do you win over your audience before those 37 seconds are up and convince them to keep reading? You need a strong opening.

Try asking a question, leading with a beguiling fact or statistic, or just going all out, guns blazing at the beginning and present the reader’s problem and answer all within the first three sentences. Give them value in the introduction to convince them they will get more value if they keep going.

One of the best tactics is to start with a highly personal opening. A snippet of the author’s world. Hubspot offers a few examples of great openings, like this one, written by Jeff Deutsch in “Confessions of a Google Spammer.”

Then Write a Long-Form Blog Post

Wait a second? If the average reader only spends 37 seconds – why write a 1000 or 2000-word blog post? That’s a really good question. Here’s your answer: for those people who do read beyond the beginning, as in, the highly qualified leads that stumble upon your blog post, they are more likely to take action after reading if they you answered all their questions and concerns and then some.

When you don’t cover a subject in-depth, how often do your readers simply continue searching elsewhere on the web until they get the fulfillment they are after? Long-form posts have been found to generate nine times more leads than short-form posts.

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Use CTAs in Your Posts

Call-to-actions aren’t just for the end of your blog posts. What if your readers never make it to your punchy closing and colorful CTA link? You should also be using links within your content, directing readers to a relevant white paper or eBook to download, landing page, or simply to more information they may be interested in reading on your website, like this.

Use a Posting Schedule

Not only will a blog content calendar simplify your life, but it will also help you to grow your audience and potentially generate more leads. Here’s how. When you post regularly, you do two things.

First, you help your site’s page rank. Google rewards sites that post regular, fresh content. Publishing ten one week and then none the next because of burnout is going to make it difficult for Google’s web crawlers to identify your site’s freshness.

Second, you provide your readers with a media source they can count on. When your Twitter followers, email subscribers, and other site frequenters know there will be a new post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, they are more likely to visit to check out your latest and greatest.

Your readers may even come to expect a new post, seeing it as something to look forward to while waiting for the bus or stopping by their favorite coffee shop for a work break. Don’t rob people of their blog reading rituals because you post intermittently.

Be Visual Heavy

Blog posts with visual content are better for generating leads. They make a post, especially the long-form blog posts you are creating, more interesting to read. They can provide more insight into your text or replace it altogether.

Illustrations will help your readers know how they can take that all important next step to download content, sign up for your special offer, or in any other way become a lead.

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Video isn’t just highly digestible. You can add a clickable CTA in your video content.

Images enhance your blog posts by making them more appealing to look at, which means more people will actually read through your entire post and reach each and every CTA.

Images also help to make your text more relevant by expanding on your ideas. They can be used to provide a personal, emotional connection with your audience, encouraging them to keep reading and priming them for clicking a CTA button or link.

Take this one for example. Who can look at this picture and click away? Using images can really help to subconsciously encourage readers to stay on your post a little longer.

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And infographics are an excellent way to get across your information in a succinct, visually impressive way. They’ll build traffic, make your website’s blog content more varied, and help to establish your brand as an industry leader.

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Use the Walk-Away-Satisfied Test

This is probably the most important facet of creating a blog that is capable of generating leads that will help your business grow. All the technical and formatting features of your blog are important but what will sell your CTAs is your actual content. Make sure it is of value to your buyer personas. After reading your blog, your audience should feel satisfied that they:

  • Found a clear answer to their question or problem.
  • Are inspired to dig deeper.
  • Feel better informed about a subject and so can take their next step.
  • Are confident that when they need more information on your business’s niche subject, they know where to turn for more – your blog.

These are the sentiments that will encourage them to download your eBook, click over to your landing page to find out more, make a purchase or subscribe, explore other posts on your blog, or sign up for your newsletter.

Don’t Forget Lead Generation System Maintenance

Don’t forget, just like any company asset; you want to not only build your blog library, but also to spend the time to maintain, refine, and improve your old posts in both quality and SEO on a consistent basis. Do that, and you’ll have a blog with enviable organic traffic metrics and a growing business.

We all want to get to know our customers better. If we could wave magic wands and have customers walking directly into customized products and services tailored with them specifically in mind, we would.  Unfortunately, business – and life – does not work that way.

To understand our customers better, we need systems in place to acquire and analyze data, we need the right approach to using that data, and we need to be able to compromise.

With marketing automation, we already have those systems implemented throughout our company. Marketing automation systems provide us with the insight we need, as well as the means of storing and reporting on large amounts of customer data. We also have the right approach; we want to use this data to better understand our customers and provide a genuinely useful service.

It is the final element – compromise – that can cause difficulty. In essence, customer segmentation is one big compromise; we want to understand our customers on an individual level, but this is impossible. So, instead, we divide our customers into convenient groups and aim to meet their needs in as direct a manner as we can.

But how much should we compromise? How can we get the right balance and provide our customers with seamless services and support?

Segmentation aims

To begin with, we need to devise our aims for segmentation. Writing for OpenView, Tien Anh Nguyen defined the three types of customer segmentation. These classifications are a priori, needs-based, and value-based.

A priori refers to simple segmentation along a range of general characteristics. These might include gender, age, income level, or engagement medium. This is the most basic form of segmentation and uses information that is freely available to numerous other parties. This limits the usefulness of a priori segmentation.

Needs-based uses information gathered through thorough market research and interaction to divide customers based on their needs. This is a far more sophisticated form of segmentation than “a priori”, and goes some way to forming a profound understanding between customer and business.

Value-based segmentation divides customers along boundaries of overall value. This requires the harvesting of data from customer and client interaction over an extended period.

While Mr Nguyen is writing with specific regard to the B2B market, this model still applies to B2C businesses. In order to create manageable and useful segments of customers, we must first define our aims, and then decide which of the methods mentioned above is the most suitable.

Tried and tested segments

Once formed, customer segments must be subjected to intense scrutiny and examination on a long term basis. It is only by trying and testing and then trying and testing again, over and over, ad infinitum, that we can be sure that our segments are truly working and are as effective as they can be.

One problem which many of us encounter when attempting to build such customer segments is that we get a little ahead of ourselves. We think we know our customers – and we are sure that we know our business – and so we make assumptions. Making guesses and building segments based on such intangibles will only lead you down a blind alley, leaving you with customer segments and buyer profiles that are not fit for purpose.

The data is there; it is up to you to use it. Only form customer segments based upon solid truths, facts, and figures. Leave the guesswork out of it all together, re-appraising the efficacy of each segment with each new data set you lay your hands on. Don’t forget that the segments must be flexible; if you receive data which conflicts what you already have and you decide that a reorganization is necessary, then reorganization is what needs to take place.

Omnichannel approaches

Remember that modern consumers are fluid and therefore your customer segmentation strategies need to reflect this. Make sure that your customer segments are optimized for use across all of the relevant access points of your organization.

Increasing numbers of customers use mobile devices to shop for products and services, alongside more traditional means. The physical store is still an important part of retail, but customers are starting to browse products online beforehand or reserve products for collection.

Getting this right requires research and behavioral analysis. Which access points do customers within a certain segment tend to use? At which points are we losing customers from each segment? Which products would benefit this particular segment?

Develop each segment by answering these questions and use the answers to map out typical customer journeys for each segment. There is likely to be more than one typical journey for each, but by understanding them, you are coming one step closer to achieving a totally omnichannel structure within your organization.

Expanding the profile

Initially, we compromise because of time, cost, and a scarcity of resources. We must start small, working with the data we have in an effort to better understand our customers and to market to them in a more effective manner. This is the nature of the compromise in the early stages; the odds are stacked against us but we are making the best of what we have.

However, the situation doesn’t remain this way forever. Interactions develop and flourish, our marketing automation platforms feed more and more data into our organizations, and our situation hand becomes stronger. With this influx of data, we can make the segments even more accurate.

As we learn more about each segment, we can add more detail to their profile. We might find that, as the wealth of resources at our disposal has grown, we are now in a position to implement more specific profiles and segments and in increasing numbers within our business.

This is the nature of the compromise we are aiming for. It is almost not a compromise at all; instead, we have developed astonishingly accurate, inherently useful customer profiles which we can then utilize in our marketing and support initiatives.

With this level of business intelligence, client understanding and marketing savvy, the sky is the limit for what your business can achieve.

The post appeared first on GetResponse Blog.

Guest Post written by Erika Jolly Brookes, chief marketing officer at Springbot

The number one rule in marketing is “know your customer.” But what about your competitors?

Online retailers invest a lot of time and money analyzing customer behavior trends, reconciling aggregated data to create customer personas for drip programs and ad retargeting. However, many neglect to consistently gather competitive intelligence and analyze how the competition is better serving the customer.

If you are in this camp, it’s time to go beyond setting up Google Alerts for the occasional read on your competition. If you are not in this camp, but find yourself aimlessly clicking on your competitions’ Facebook posts, we have a plan for you too. It is time to dive deeper into your competitor’s marketing efforts.

When you evaluate your rival’s marketing strategies, you can identify which ones were successful and use them to further your own campaigns. Likewise, you can alter the ineffective marketing techniques to avoid making the same costly mistake as your competitors.

The good news is, that collecting information on what your competitors are doing is surprisingly easy. Sure, if you like, you can connect social signals and scrape the web for metrics that speak to your competitors’ link building efforts, feeding it all into a complex business intelligence engine. There are any number of relevant techniques for data analysis that you can experiment with, and if you’re operating in a high-competition enterprise space, this approach could help you identify some game-changing opportunities.

But for the rest of us, running a regression analysis with hypothesis testing, for example, would be overkill, and simply using a combination of smart Google searches and an inexpensive media mention alert tool does the job well enough.

Here are a few tips to help you get a more comprehensive, but not overly time consuming approach to navigating your competitions strengths and weaknesses.

1. Scour Websites for Strategy Intel

If you haven’t done a website audit on your competitors, this should be your first step. While looking at standard things like pricing and the product lines they carry, from a pure marketing standpoint, question:

  • What is their messaging?
  • Are they heavily promoting a certain product or line?
  • Do they have a newsletter? A blog? How do they capture new subscribers?
  • How frequently are they posting to a blog, and what kind of content, i.e. lookbook, video how-to’s?
  • Do they promote customer reviews or have a customer spotlight?
  • How are they linking to social media and what channels?

Gathering intel on these areas will provide you with the baseline information you need to begin making educated comparisons and implementing tactics to elevate your business. This isn’t a one and done endeavor though. You should aim to review your competitor’s online stores regularly, even once a month.

2. Evaluate Site Traffic & SEO

Take your website auditing to the next level and dig into your competitor’s web traffic. You can use web-based competitive intelligence tools and apps to find out how much web traffic your competitors are getting, peak times for traffic, visitor demographics and referral traffic.

Insights into your competitors’ web traffic can help you create a strategy and investment plan for the kinds of content that appeals to prospects.

For full-fledged search engine optimization, there are several SEO tools available to help you see your competitors’ top-ranking keywords, content, and backlinks.

This gives you an idea of content topics to tackle, lets you focus on profitable keywords on which you can actually rank — while ignoring ones not worth the effort—and does your link-building research for you too. 

3. Do Some Social Searching

Your competitor’s presence on social media is extremely important. Beyond what platforms they use, also dive into the content format, frequency, style that is shared and most importantly, the consumer engagement level with the posts. Specific things to observe include:

  • The number of page “likes” or followers your competitors have to track audience growth trends
  • Their frequency of posts per day/week/month
  • The average number of post likes, shares, re-posts and comments they receive
  • The type of content your competitors are posting including video, lifestyle images, customer content of their product in use
  • How your competitors are responding to and engaging with their consumers
  • If they use direct messaging to convert interest to leads
  • If they use Facebook ads to boost a post

These factors combined will provide a different perspective that can be leveraged for a fresh new approach to your social strategy.

Keep Your Customers Close, Keep Your Competitors Closer

Knowing how you stack up against the competition can shape your marketing strategies to improve your online store and gives you a bigger picture to potentially capture greater market share.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started now!

About Erika Jolly Brookes

Brookes leads all brand, marketing, product management and communications programs aimed to help Springbot achieve accelerated growth, secure new partnerships and drive innovation.

Brookes has held numerous executive-level marketing positions with leading technology companies Oracle, Vitrue, MindSpring, Earthlink and Rackspace. Before joining Springbot, she was vice president of strategy for Oracle Social Cloud. Brookes also led marketing and communications at Vitrue before it was acquired by Oracle in May 2012.

Content marketing is on the rise.

In 2017, it’s one of the more popular subjects on the Web. Almost every respectable business and marketing publication has already published at least a couple of articles where they point out the importance of adding content marketing to your already established marketing arsenal.

This is because content marketing drives great results.

In a day and age when over 200 million Internet users have some form of ad-blocking device added to their browsers, it’s becoming harder and harder for most digital marketers and entrepreneurs to promote their brand, business, products and services online. Paid advertising doesn’t really cut it anymore. It isn’t helping people generate new customers, so they’re forced to constantly experiment with their marketing and think outside the box.

This is where content marketing comes to shine. Especially written content. Even though it has been around for decades, content marketing has only recently started to get the recognition it deserves.

As HubSpot reports, in 2017, B2B marketers on average allocate 28% of their budget to producing killer content. Demand Gen claims in its recent report that businesses which invest in content marketing get 6x as many conversions, as opposed to those that ignore this type of promotion. Also, the guys at Social Media Examiner have pointed out that 81% of all marketers now plan to increase their use of original written content.

Judging by these numbers, one could easily say that written content is still king. Apart from being invisible to all ad-blockers, great written content is something that Internet users actually want to see on the Web. Customers want to interact with it, which instantly makes it the hottest technique to master in this day and age. But, even though there’s a huge demand for it, a lot of brands still fail with their efforts in this department. They keep publishing post after post, and nothing’s happening.

Why is that? – Because finding a skilled content writer isn’t really a walk in the park. And becoming one is even harder. You cannot just produce grammatically correct articles and expect to win big in this field.

No way. Content marketing is far more complex than that. If you want to become a great content writer, you need to adopt the following 3 skills:


To become an awesome content writer, first and foremost, you have to be a creative person. You need to know how to come up with insight that gets people on board. It’s also imperative that you understand what a client wants and how to transform his wishes into relevant and engaging content.  

Secondly, you need to learn how to use Google to your advantage. Understanding some basic SEO tricks, like how to find and choose the right keywords, generate interesting content ideas, master effective copywriting, acknowledge and leverage trends in your strategy, conduct content audits and competitor research, could significantly improve your efforts in this department.

SEO and content are codependent. You cannot do one without the other. Both of these practices have the same goal, and that’s to generate quality traffic for a particular site.

If you don’t play by Google’s rules, people will have a hard time locating your blog, and thus – your efforts will have been in vain. Having all this in mind, if you’re in the business of growing your audience and generating more quality leads for your site via content – properly optimizing content for search should be your top priority.

Google is all about keywords and links, and that’s why everyone who wants to become a successful content writer needs to think beyond social shares and likes, and actually focus on generating links via content.

If you invest a lot of time and effort into writing a particular blog post, white paper or case study, you want the world’s most popular engine to help you promote it. Your goal is for Google to recognize your worth and reward you for your effort.


When it comes to SEO, creating quality content is on top of every to-do list. Fluff doesn’t really work anymore. People who produce random articles in 2017, which they think their audiences will like, usually fail miserably.

If you want to become a successful content writer, you need to know that the only content that generates buzz in today’s world is the one that provides answers to a particular audience’s questions and feeds them with intel which they can use to level up their specific skills. For example, MOZ is a business that creates and sells SEO tools. Their ideal audience is made up of all sorts of different digital marketers who want to rank high in Google’s SERP. So, having that in mind, Rand Fishkin, the owner of this brand, has created an entire section on his site dedicated to learning SEO. The same goes for the people behind Dibz, a link prospecting tool, who have recently published a 10,000 long article about backlinks.

As you can see from the examples above, it’s all about creating genuine resources. That’s what Google needs, and that’s what users want.


If you want to become known for your work as a content writer, you have to niche down your efforts and focus on developing your brand in a particular market, not all over the place.

Even though most writers write for multiple clients from completely different industries at the same time, that often ends up quite counterproductive.

It’s impossible to present yourself as a relevant source in every niche and industry. Everyone knows that. If people see your name next to articles that cover everything from marketing, tech and home improvement to health – they’ll know you’re someone who basically just spins other people’s content, and thus, they won’t see you as a credible source that’s worth their time and attention.

It’s in your best interest, as a content writer, to choose an industry that best suits your interests and skillset. If you’re a digital marketer, leverage your experience in that industry and produce content that demonstrates your expertise.


Do you agree with everything I pointed out in this post? If you feel I missed something, feel free to write down your thoughts in the comment section below, and I will do everything in my power to get back to you ASAP.

Lazy Content Marketing Does Not Inspire the Masses

By Michael Brenner on June 14, 2017

Phrases like content marketing, digital marketing, social media marketing, and the like can float past a person and result in a yawn.

This yawn is probably because the reader needs some sleep, but lost passion can also contribute to that yawn.

When the marketer, whether it is you or another agency, loses the passion for what they are doing, the audience knows it! It is as evident as if you wrote it in a social media post, tweet, or the blog. It is almost as if you wrote it as a sentence in your blog article

So, how do we light a fire under us to keep that passion going? How do we ensure that our readers are not clicking off the page to go to another site?

Defining Content Marketing

The definition of content marketing, from 15 years ago, to the definition of content marketing now, is different.

Without going into the past (and professionally confusing ourselves), let’s focus more on what content marketing is today.

Content marketing has more to do with eliciting engagement from your target audience. This is basically a matter of creating a relationship with your audience. By doing so, you are hopefully obtaining that engagement on the first piece of content that they see, but also encouraging them to return to engage some more, on additional pieces.

Doesn’t that sound like the makings of a good business-customer relationship to you?

Content marketing is also more of a strategy than it is an item on a task list. It becomes the framework on which the building of your task list happens. There is the case of it becoming a strategic framework for the marketing of your business. It is also the dissemination of information related to your niche (helping to build your subject matter expert standing; niche authority; and branding).

The content marketing of today involves strategic components. OnPoint Marketing mentions one of them in a way that is easier for us to picture and helps to define content marketing using one of the methods, which is that of aiming for the low-hanging fruit. You see, content marketing, while it does involve writing, is not only about writing.

Let’s find out what that entails.

Understand the ROI of Content Marketing

The basic premise that is the foundational point of “The Content Formula” (by Michael Brenner and Liz Bedor) is the calculation of the return on investment (ROI) that content marketing provides.

Granted, it is much more than that, but it is definitely helpful in the area of ROI calculation.

This is one way to look at it, but it is a helpful way to look at it. It is like having a formula. Oh, granted, those who love math probably really love it. But, even for those who do not love math (Yes, you can handle it!), it is something a bit more tangible to handle, once you get the idea of how to process it.

And, let’s face it if we can understand IF we are getting some sort of content marketing result (the ROI), that helps, doesn’t it? And, even more so, if we can figure out just what that result is (the actual ROI calculation), then we have that tangible something as if it is in our hand.

If we are motivated to move forward in success in this business, you are in the right spot. This is true even if the goal is to be able to pay a utility bill! Having something tangible moves us toward seeing that come to fruition. And, for most of us, being able to see something come to fruition gives us some sort of spark. Am I right?

What comes after the spark? Hopefully, it is the fire of your passion!

Find Your Passion!

Ok, is that spark starting to warm your creative juices? Are you feeling that urge to move forward and write some incredible articles?

Sometimes passion has to do with the material that you are writing about and sometimes it is the writing itself that is the passion for you. Just like, for some people, writing is a scientific process, and for others, it is an artistic process.

For a minority, it is actually both (combining the scientific and artistic approach to the world).

Whatever it is that creates that passion in you, go with it. Your audience will sense it, and if you are good at parlaying your message, they will feel it with you, and that gives a better chance of engagement.

Remember, this isn’t only about a formula (even if it may involve a formula), but the passion is about the awareness of the excitement that already exists in you. It is about sparking it and then moving on from there, even in this beautiful world of content engagement.

Why? Well, that is the next topic… engagement.

The 1000 True Fans

To help understand the concept of building engagement, let’s step back and consider another way to look at it.

It is the “1000 True Fans” as discussed by Kevin Kelly.

The idea is that the goal is 1000 true fans rather than millions of contacts on the list. With millions of contacts on a list, it is possible that that is 999,999 people who are not engaging with your content. Does that really benefit you in any way?

By aiming for a smaller number than one million, and seeking to engage each and every one of them, you will actually do better. You will be building a relationship that creates loyal followers (who engage and buy your stuff!).

Summing It Up in a Plan

If you have heard the quote, “You fail to plan because you plan to fail,” then it makes sense that planning needs to be a key component in any content marketing strategy.

The reason that passion is important is that you will lose your audience if it is as dry as dust.

If content marketing is your goal, then you need to ensure that there is an aspect of engagement built into your process (which includes writing).

When was the last time you felt like engaging with a piece of content that is as dry as dust? See the point?

Now, go share that passion of yours (writing) and start engaging on a regular basis. You will soon realize that you are doing what is called “content marketing” and you are current with what it is supposed to be, in this day and age.

The world of marketing management and execution is evolving quickly. One trend that’s becoming more and more prominent across the professional world is the increase of non-traditional work.

Marketers are no strangers to unconventional work arrangements. Our field has been full of agency partners, contract staffing, freelancers, and more for decades now. But these kinds of non full-time or third-party work arrangements are becoming more and more common.

The jury is still out as to whether or not this is a good thing. But the reality is that your marketing career might well benefit from taking a job in the growing gig economy. And if a great opportunity comes along, it pays to have an idea of what you’re worth and how much you should charge.

How to Calculate an Hourly Rate

Say you found an awesome job with an amazing company, but they want to work with you on a contract/freelance basis. If you’ve never done this kind of work before, you likely have no idea what to ask for when they ask for a quote of your hourly rate.

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get a rough idea of a fair rate using a single, simple formula:

Hourly Rate = Yearly Income ÷ Hours Worked in the Year

In this case, Yearly Income is the amount of money you expect or need to make in a year. This is a personal number that will depend on a variety of factors. But in general it’s not unreasonable to start with your annual salary now and add a modest amount to that.

Hours Worked in the Year can also vary somewhat. But if you assume you’ll be working more or less full time with a couple of weeks of time off and holiday, you’d end up with 40 hours a week for 50 weeks, or 2000 hours per year.

From here it’s a simple matter of  plugging in the numbers.

Say you were offered a long-term contract with a major Fortune 500 firm for a year or more and need to know where to set your hourly rate. You make $45,000 now, but think you’re worth a modest raise to $50,000. In that case, the formula would like this:

Hourly Rate = $50,000 ÷ 2000 hours = $25/hour.

Pretty simple, right?

Some Considerations

The above situation is a common one, but not all interim and alternative work arrangements are quite so clean and simple.

For instance, imagine you decide to move to freelancing or consulting in your field full-time. Say you want to make $60,000 a year–but without a full-time salary, there will likely be some downtime in between gigs where you’re stuck looking for new work.

Maybe you’re only able to work an average of 1500 paid hours per year–that’s something you need to anticipate and compensate for in your calculations.

Additionally, remember that if you’re an independent contractor or freelancer, you’ll be responsible for your own taxes, healthcare, time off, and other benefits. They are not cheap, and you’ll certainly want to factor them into your wage and lifestyle!

Note that if you’re working through a consulting agency or marketing staffing firm, you’ll often be able to operate as a contractor on an hourly basis but still get healthcare and other coverage typically covered by an employer.

3 Common Leadership Mistakes CMOs Make

By Michael Brenner on June 13, 2017

The CMO role has always been viewed with a sense of both awe as well as some ‘I’m-glad-it’s-you-and-not-me’ mentality.

Sure, the role of chief marketing officer is designed for those who embrace complex challenges and are invigorated rather than broken down by stress. Those who sign up tend to value grit and the ability to get things done more than work-life balance and sleep.

Still, stepping into the office only to find that lasers are shooting at you from every direction does get tiresome eventually – for the CMOs that last that long, that is.

CMOs in the food industry, for example, seldom last more than a year. The automotive and healthcare industries are also notorious for short tenures. The modern corporate marketing head faces even more challenges than yesteryear’s superhero CMO.

Today, most CEOs expect their chief marketing officers to:

Despite the job difficulty, there are survivors. And some who excel in this role.

For CMOs struggling to master their universe, here are the pitfalls to watch out for. It is these common mistakes that make marketers cringe when a new chief comes aboard. Steer clear of these misunderstandings and oversights and see how much more empowered the CMO role can be.

Fear of Making Decisions

Yes, there’s a lot of pressure to get things right when the rest of the C-suite is expecting consistent, measurable revenue growth. Your marketing team have enough on their plates, weaving meaningful brand stories into your latest campaign and figuring out how to leverage your new CRM software. However, it is still important to make bold decisions and move forwards.

Afraid of making poor choices, some CMOs get caught in the trap of endless A/B testing and employee polls. This can muddy the decision making process rather than give you the clarity you’re after. The trick is to be calculating when it comes to mining for your data insights. Plan out your testing and view your metrics in terms of both short and long-term goals. Also, look at each test, poll, and survey as part of a greater whole. Watch how the numbers evolve. And, then balance your strategic data gathering with a continual flow of smart decisions.

No, you don’t need another A/B test to determine which email subject line, design theme or tagline will do. You already have dozens of metrics to use to help you make better marketing strategy decisions because you view your data holistically.

Talk Agility Without Actually Practicing It

Agile marketing is the methodology revolution that has allowed some brands to really rise up to the current pressures of digital marketing transformation. Take Netflix as an example. Led by CMO Kelly Bennett, Netflix is agility in motion. The company has created a magnificent customer feedback loop to inform their business decisions. Their marketers pay attention to what the customer is saying and doing, continually gathering this data, and then using it to facilitate an ongoing tweaking process of their services.

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The result? $2 billion in revenue a quarter. 85 million happy subscribers glued to their screens. A complete disruption of the cable television industry. And, a new Oxford entry. Binge-watching: a term used to describe polishing off your favorite Netflix series in one sitting.

No wonder your marketers want you to really take agile seriously. A study by McKinsey and the Association of National Advertisers found that as many as 70 percent of CMOs believe they employ agile marketing processes. That’s not what their marketing VPs and directors believe. Only 45 percent and 50 percent respectively agree. Of marketing teams, only 43 percent believe they are encouraged to take risks and experiment.

Agile is much more than a buzzword. It’s an essential method for empowering your team and for creating brilliant strategies. CMOs that really take the time to access resources on how to implement agile methods, experiment with it, and facilitate their team to go agile – all the way agile – are the ones who will unlock the true potential of their marketers.

Ignoring the 3,874 MarTech Tools Available Today

Editor of Scott Brinker created a dizzying supergraphic, identifying nearly 4,000 marketing technology tools. That’s 3,874 different tools with dozens in each subsector of modern marketing.

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Obviously, this doesn’t insinuate that CMOs should be bringing on every new piece of marketing technology. It does, however, mean they should, at least, explore tech for every facet of marketing.

Nathan Sinnott, CEO of Newpath WEB, cited a lack of urgency amongst CMOs and managers as the biggest obstacle to digital transformation. If you’re dragging your feet on MarTech, you’re only holding your marketers back. Start really diving into your brand’s digital potential by finding out where it would be most beneficial and then creating a plan to evolve. Talk to your managers and your team. Where do they believe the brand is falling behind?

  • Is it an outdated perception of marketing automation?
  • A limited social media or influencer strategy because data insights are lacking?
  • Could a software upgrade improve your brand’s lead generation?
  • Is it time to jump into in-house video content?

Make your transformation to a digitally-savvy marketing team an ongoing process. Bridge those skills gaps with training and new hires. And, keep the conversation going. MarTech will continue to evolve. You just have to keep evolving right there next to it.

Is Proactivity the Key to CMO Survival?

All three of these marketing CMO leadership mistakes point to an underlying theme – hesitation. Could today’s CMOs find more success through more action? Is a fear of failure and an inability to cope with the sheer breadth of the changes going on in marketing holding marketing leaders back?

If so, the solution lies in facing those fears. Not sure how to implement agile, pull off a full digital transformation, or even what campaign to approve for next month? The only way you’re going to get beyond hesitation is to jump.

There may be mistakes along the way. But for true marketing innovators, storytellers, disruptors, and integrators, every mistake is only one more experience to gain wisdom and become the CMO your marketers want to lead them.

What Makes a Great Whitepaper?

By Johanna Rivard on

Does your business have a blog? If so, great! It’s good that you’re giving away helpful and educational content for free on your blog. But, when you’re creating more comprehensive and valuable material (like guides, whitepapers, case studies, and reports), it might benefit your lead generation strategy more if you put it behind a signup form.

You’re giving your audience more value, so your prospects shouldn’t have any qualms about giving you their email address, or maybe even more. Gated content is a great way to incentivize lead generation and capture valuable lead information

According to the 2016 Content Preferences Survey by Demand Gen Report, 96% of B2B buyers want more information and input from industry thought leaders.

If you’ve created tons of helpful and educational articles and established yourself as a thought leader, your audience will already see the value in your content. So it’s only fair to start asking for something in return. Through gated content, you can collect information that you can use to nurture these leads and guide them further down your sales funnel.

Buyers want content that can help them benchmark their strategies and compare previous experiences with their own. The aforementioned Demand Gen Report survey found that 51% of B2B buyers rely on content published online for before they make a purchase decision. In addition, they want helpful and educational content rather than advertisements.

The same report found that 63% of B2B buyers read at least one case study during their research, and 47% consumed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales agent. This goes to show that gated content is indeed effective for lead generation.

Why Whitepapers?

Whitepapers hold enormous potential for B2B marketers. First, a well thought out whitepaper can pave the way for blog posts, discussions, and other accompanying content pieces. Second, a well-written whitepaper also differentiates you from competitors in the eyes of your reader.

B2B buyers value whitepapers that provide data and analysis. This makes whitepapers effective in establishing your organization as an industry leader with highly-valuable insights. Demand Gen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report also stated that whitepapers are the top content type used to make B2B buying decisions:


So, in creating your B2B content marketing plan, make sure that there’s a whitepaper lined up. We’ve outlined the components that make a whitepaper great, so you can properly plan and develop your next awesome piece of B2B content marketing content.

Here’s What Makes a Great Whitepaper

What Makes a Great White Paper?


Think of a B2B buyer who is doing research about the best solution for their identified problem. In their research, they’ll be likely to consume multiple articles from various sources. But your whitepaper provides all the information they need in just one PDF file. In coming across your whitepaper, the buyer may get the impression that your content is more valuable than an assorted collection of short blog posts.

A fact-based whitepaper can help you establish your business as a leader by cutting through the noise with content that’s backed by research and statistics. Pique your audience’s interest and generate highly qualified leads with your gated whitepaper.

Check out our collection of whitepapers for more marketing and sales best practices!

The post What Makes a Great Whitepaper? appeared first on PureB2B.

The Role of AI in The Future of Marketing

By Michael Brenner on June 12, 2017

Did you know that AI can predict your personality traits better than your spouse of partner, your friend, even your family?

That’s one of the key insights I learned last week when I attended Pega‘s Pegaworld at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV.

More than 4,000 Business and IT leaders came together to understand the role of technology and AI in the future of sales, marketing, customer service.

This event included some really smart people, if a bit more technical than the audience I typically see at Marketing conferences.

But an audience who is still trying to solve the same problems I think we all are:

  • Marketers trying to understand how to effectively reach target customers when ad blockers, changing media consumption habits, and ad performance are impeding us.
  • Customer Service people looking improve customer satisfaction, net promoter scores all while holding down costs.
  • And sales is looking to sell more in a world that is largely tuning out of promotional messages and avoiding business development approaches of old

One of my first tweets of the event:

Sales-driven culture is a thing of the past

The Chief Data Officer of RBS Bank was talking about:

How to use data and personalization to drive customer experience and ROI.

They found that

When account reps call people on their birthdays and anniversaries, sales increase!

And so despite all the conversations about technology, the main question on the minds of everyone there was:

How to use technology to make more human connections?

With sales, marketing, customer service and, in fact, across the entire organization. And so the question of Purpose and Culture came up time and again!

Drew Neisser said,

Purpose means going as far as defining how your organization helps the world in some way.

The CEO of Transavia, a low-cost airline in Europe said that he didn’t care about how many planes they had or how many flights they flew, he only cared about two things:

  1. Making their customers happy
  2. Making every employee a front-line employee (in service of customers)

They achieve the goal of improved Customer Satisfaction and Employee Engagement through technologly. But I believe it is mainly because of the their primary focus of putting customers at the center of everything they do.

He also spoke out against the scourge of the corporate world, micro-management, when he said

“Just let your teams be. They know how to deliver an amazing customer experience.”

What is the role of AI in the future of Marketing? (Sales & Customer Service?)

AI can help the courageous leaders inside customer-centric organizations, to achieve the goals of Personalization, better Customer Decisioning, improved Predictive Modeling.

Or for simple executives like me: more sales, lower costs, from engaged employees trying to make customers happy.

At a high-level, AI can provide Personalization across the customer journey and Predictive modeling to achieve better outcomes at every customer interaction.

But if you want to get into the nitty-gritty, here are some highlights of what AI can do from a company like Pega:

  • A Customer Decision hub that can automate recommendations in realtime to improve customer experiences using AI
  • Paid Media Manager uses AI to help marketers improve the ROI of paid digital campaigns
  • Natural Language Processing to determine the mood and intentions from customer emails and voice calls
  • An Intelligent Virtual Assistant (think Watson or Alexa) that can make your chatbots better
  • A Self-Service Advisor, which can even scan your customer’s browsing history to present different options.
  • AI-driven applications, that can alert a retail store rep on how best to help customers in-store, in realtime on their phones or tablets

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the technology, the case studies but mostly the leadership from some impressive brands like Coke and Sprint who said that AI has helped Sprint achieve 50% higher customer retention, 14% drop in customer churn and massively improved ROI.

Disclosure: I was paid to attend this event by the sponsoring company. The opinions and views expressed here are my own!