Monthly Archives: September 2017

Here’s your virtual pat on the back for focusing on customer retention. You’re in the minority, my marketing friend. Most brands are still focusing more on acquisitions despite the fact that it costs 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an old one.

Have you yet determined, what are the most effective customer retention strategies for your marketing? What tactics are you using to foster customer loyalty? Are you getting good results?

There are so many approaches you can take to improve your retention rates and enhance brand loyalty. Not sure where to start? The brightest minds in marketing are always a good launching point, as well as a resource for the advice and insight you need to hone your strategy along the way.


Here are the customer retention influencers you should be paying attention to. Follow them on social media. Check out their expert tips. Make them your virtual mentors. You’ve nothing to lose, and all the customer loyalty you can handle to gain.

1. Fred Reichheld

Fellow at Bain & Company, author of the best-selling book, The Loyalty Effect, and one of the most recognized loyalty experts in the world, Fred Reichheld advocates setting the bar way above customer satisfaction and focusing instead on advocacy.

He says, “I don’t think employees get inspired by that (satisfactory), they don’t innovate around that; it is not what I would want as a customer.”

Reichheld explains that the Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is more effective at gauging a company’s standing in the eyes of its customers and the likeliness of future growth than a room full of customer satisfaction surveys.

Not familiar with NPS? It involves the answer, on a scale of 1 to 10, of this question:

How likely is it that you would recommend this brand to a friend or colleague?

Respondents with a score of 9 to 10 are called promoters. They’re the ones who will keep buying and refer other customers – fueling growth and probably doing a better job at generating leads than you could ever do.

2. Bill Rice

CEO and Founder of Kaleidico, Bill Rice recommends developing an online presence your existing customers can come to depend upon. Publish your blog posts or online videos consistently. Use your brand’s social media channels to increase your brand’s visibility. Retaining customers can be as simple as reminding them “that you’re around and that they enjoy your product or service.”

3. Mike Bal

The mind behind Marketing Apocalypse: The Brand’s Survival Guide and a Director at digital marketing agency, Single Grain, Mike Bal suggests taking a fun, creative approach to making your customers feel the love. Tactics like featuring them in your social media posts, running contests on your blog, and sending thoughtful gifts – virtually or by mail – can have a huge impact.

Think outside of the box. For example, try browsing some of your customers’ social media profiles and come up with something special as a customer thank you gift. Something beyond your average promo code or free product sample. This is almost guaranteed to get them talking about your brand on social media. It will also probably get you an 11 when you ask the NPS question.

4. Gregory Ciotti

Marketing strategist for Help Scout, Greg Ciotti is a proponent of that magic concept that elevates all life’s relationships, not just the ones with your customers. Reciprocity. It’s what ‘makes the world go ‘round and keeps customers coming back’.

When giving back to your loyal customers with delights, Ciotti suggests opting for a surprise approach. You want to create a “wow” factor. To do this, the idea is to be thoughtful and personable – the handwritten thank you note, the extra freebie because you noticed your customer always buys a particular accessory. Thoughtfulness can be more effective than investing a lot of money to delight customers.

5. Lydia Sugarman

Founder of brand building agency, Venntive, Lydia Sugarman has a long history in marketing and sales. Her take on customer retention is refreshingly authentic. One of the most useful tactics she’s found is to simply pick up the phone, mail a card, or send an email or text when you haven’t heard from a customer in a while. It’s all about letting people know they are appreciated. Taking the time to reach out is a simple way to do this.

6. Richard Shapiro

Another customer loyalty thought leader, Richard Shapiro explains that retention is all about relationship building. How can you bond with your clients and customers? For B2B companies, he suggests meeting for coffee or lunch – somewhere outside of a business setting where people are more relaxed. For B2C, sending a follow-up text, email, or letter encouraging further interaction can keep the relationship going. Shapiro is the author of The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business.

7. Jerry Jao

CEO and Founder of Retention Science Jerry Jao writes a lot about trust building as a way to encourage brand loyalty. Tactics, like using social proof on your website and demonstrating transparency, are what will not just win over new customers, but also reassure existing ones that they chose a reputable company to do business with.

8. Paul Boyce

Founder and CEO of Popcorn Metrics Paul Boyce has some old-school advice for mastering customer retention. Focus on your product (or service) first. Before delving into customer delight and creating a Disneyland customer experience, the best way to keep your customers is to sell a product they like. Through user testing and tools like remote user walkthroughs for software products, you can get an idea if there are hiccups that need to be addressed.

9. Neil Patel

According to Neil Patel, content marketing expert, entrepreneur, and Co-founder of Crazy Egg, one of the secrets to a successful customer retention strategy is word of mouth marketing. What he calls on his blog, WOMM.

By increasing WOMM, you’re not only building brand awareness, you are bringing on more loyal customers. Customers acquired by word of mouth have a 16 to 25 percent higher lifetime value. To create more WOMM, Patel suggests building your own miniature marketing army of raving fans (your customers) through a strategic loyalty program.

10. Chris Hexton

Co-founder and CEO of Sydney-based email remarketing software provider, Vero, Chris Hexton emphasizes the importance of customer tracking. The best way to make buyers happy is to know what they want before they do. Using your marketing software, follow their actions and responses to better anticipate their needs. And, to recognize when you’re starting to lose customers. Identify warning signs of churn, and you can take necessary steps to reel your customers back in before you lose them.

The importance of customer retention is nothing new. Your existing customers are the key to growth. 20th-century engineer, author, and management consultant, W. Edwards Deming explained decades ago,

Start honing your customer retention techniques. Use the simple and direct, the bold and creative, the data-driven, the unexpected. Just keep building those bonds. And enjoy the reciprocity.

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Starting an official blog is one of the most exciting milestones for a budding professional. It is an excellent opportunity to become a force in the industry and gain valuable exposure. If you have expertise in a certain area, blogging can do wonders to propel you into the mainstream. In fact, HubSpot’s State of Inbound report found that marketers who prioritize their blog are 13 times more likely to experience a positive ROI than those who don’t.

As great as this prospect sounds, gaining traction and widespread attention is no easy task. It can take years for a blog to generate justifiable traffic.

That being said, you must do everything you can to rise above the crowd. Here are three fundamental but fantastic strategies to keep in mind upon launching your first blog.

Create Relevant, Actionable Content

As obvious as this sounds, far too many bloggers struggle with this concept. The content itself is the heart and soul of your platform. To establish yourself as a thought leader, you must provide a profound level of value which the reader can walk away with.

An extremely common mistake first-time bloggers make is over-emphasizing their personal stories and interests. The harsh reality of breaking into the blogosphere is that not many people care about you as a writer, traveler, or businessperson. They care about what you bring to the table in terms of educating them.

By all means, you can let your unique personality shine through in your writing – that’s one of the best aspects blogging. Just be sure to keep it contained and related to your actionable advice.

When you are aiming to educate, one strategy that might help is writing pillar-style articles. These are full of practical tips and solutions (I’d build a bit on their original definition and label them as generally longer than 1,000 words). The more of them you have on your blog, the better.

Be sure each point you make is well-researched and relevant to the current trends of the industry. You can use a tool like Buzzsumo for picking up clues as to which topics related to your industry are gaining attention across the web.

Use this knowledge as a jumping off point to crafting content around trending issues and concerns in your field. Every piece of content you produce should meet a standard of professionalism, insightfulness, and practicality. When these traits are exhibited consistently, your image as a thought leader will get larger.

Seek Mentorship

In the early stages of your career, there is a tremendous amount you can learn from an industry veteran. Depending on the range and depth of your network, it can be tough to find honest people willing to take you under their wing and share their experience, skills, and wisdom.

In terms of running a blog, seeking guidance is one of the best moves you can make.

For one, an experienced writer has most likely dealt with many of the struggles and roadblocks you will face at some point in your journey. They can provide valuable insight on how to power through.

Two, if they have been creating successful posts for a while, they know how to word an article in a way that gains traction. They are familiar with the industry have a tried-and-true ability to approach a topic from the reader’s point of view to craft stellar content. A seasoned blogger knows all the little tricks and healthy habits that help establish a good publishing rhythm.

Three, they are familiar with how to promote their content on a granular level. If their platform has enjoyed significant traffic over the years, they probably know a thing or two about organic search as a marketing channel. For a blog, SEO is one of the most valuable web promotion strategies you can employ. Connecting with a professional to show you the ropes can be instrumental in getting the exposure you need.

Finally, someone whose been around for a long time most likely has a few powerful connections in their back pocket. If you are planning to do any guest blogging on high-traffic websites to help get your name out there, knowing someone on the inside is a huge asset.

Tai Lopez, popular investor, entrepreneur, and startup advisor is a huge advocate for the importance of business mentorship in professional growth. “Finding mentors is one of the biggest predictors or your success,” says Lopez.

Throughout his career, Tai has built a massive following of entrepreneurs in search of guidance on how to achieve health, wealth, love, and happiness. His popular book and podcast club consists of over 1.6 million members across 40 different countries.

If you’re just breaking into the business world, Lopez’s platform is a phenomenal place to start for words of advice on how to make money, how to ace affiliate marketing, and networking opportunities to find someone who can help turn your goals into realities.



Make Bold Predictions

In the world of blogging, “playing it safe” will only take you so far. Some of the most common traits of successful bloggers are they ooze confidence and are in no way afraid to take risks.

So be loud, make scholarly proclamations, challenge the status quo! Get deeply involved in your industry and go to unheard-of lengths to garner attention to your blog.

That said, you need to keep your claims within reason. The last thing you want is to be known as a blogger who spews bilge across the internet. With each proud statement you make, be sure you always have information and data to back it up. When you’re first starting out, simply making predictions without proper the credibility will get you nowhere – it can even damage your reputation. It should be obvious you put in the time to do your due diligence before formulating your stance.

Danny Brown, author and consulting professional, is a great example of a thought leader using his blog to promote unique, outside-the-box thinking.

He consistently addresses the fallacies in the norms of his field and creates thought-provoking arguments to support his ideas. His thoughts have won him a plethora of awards including Canada’s Top 50 Marketing Blogs and the Hive Award for Best Social Media Blog.

Regardless of your industry, the name of the game is presenting an image of innovative thoughtfulness and a starting point to conversations.

Write your blogs with a sense of quote-worthiness. Being bold is perhaps the best way to stand out in the blogosphere and is a critical factor on the road to becoming a respected thought leader.

Parting Words

Becoming a household name in your field does not happen overnight. Chances are, your blog will seem more like a hobby until it starts seeing substantial traffic. The key is to be consistent in posting quality content, largely for free. No one becomes an industry thought leader by accident. Once you combine your superior knowledge with writing and marketing prowess, it’s only a matter of time before you crack the code.

Twitter is losing ground in the engagement game. Recently, it was revealed to be the worst social media channel for engaging consumers. Instagram, and to a lesser extent, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest are much more effective according to TrackMaven’s 2017 digital marketing analysis.

Twitter also developed a bad rep when it became overshadowed by Snapchat, motivating concerns that Twitter was no longer able to compete with the more modern social media sites, especially with millennials and generation Z users.

Time to lay off Twitter and push those Instagram profiles to the front of your social media marketing strategy, right?

Hold your horses. Just because some companies are gaining serious traction with the newer social media platforms, doesn’t mean Twitter has lost its value or that the alternatives will make your marketing more effective.

Remember the fallacy of composition from economics? Just because a farmer is better off planting corn, this doesn’t mean other farmers will be better off planting corn as well. In fact, more farmers planting corn based on the first farmer’s success – rather than their own circumstances – will yield a negative result for everyone because the market will become saturated with corn.

It’s the same for digital marketing. Being aware of trends and using this information strategically is wise. But, following the steps of other marketers to achieve the same level of success isn’t strategic.

The slide of Twitter is a reason to evaluate your social media strategy, especially if you aren’t meeting your goals for engaging your customers and for customer retention. It’s not a reason to start the dangerous game of writing off one social media site for another.

Twitter is still one of the best channels for making brand updates and announcements, promoting events, and for capitalizing on the real-time events to make those brilliant, lighting quick marketing moves. Yes, I’m talking to you, Oreo cookie.

It’s also great for building trust with your buyers through authentic customer service interactions. Brands receive tweets all the time from customers voicing their concerns, feedback, and questions. Research shows that responding doesn’t just have the power to make a brand more likable. Tweeting a response correlates with a revenue increase.

image source

Whether Twitter is one of your brand’s strongest digital assets, whether it has a supporting role, or even a one-liner in your overall digital strategy, depends on the dynamic between your brand and your market. If you believe Twitter is a useful social platform for engaging your customers, you don’t have to give up on the blue bird and prioritize other, newer platforms just because that’s working for other brands. There are still many brands who are successfully marketing on Twitter.  If you want to know how to make your Twitter account shine out in an Instagram world, these businesses will give you some food for thought.

American Airlines

One of the largest airlines in the US, American Airlines leverages its Twitter page to appeal to its diverse consumer base by revealing a very human face. They do this well by using several techniques.

  • Profiling individuals who work for the company
  • Sharing their own community initiatives like #LetGoodTakeFlight
  • Participating in other progressive social movements like #smartgirl
  • Posting on current events that everyone loves – there’s a lot of football on the AA Twitter feed
  • Using a sense of humor throughout their posts

What a smart move for American Airlines. With airfares always getting higher and delays, unsavory airline food, and cramped cabins becoming the norm, using Twitter to create that warm, down-to-earth, feel-good impression is ingenious. Another reason AA’s Twitter usage is so impactful is that their entire page is customer-centric. The theme of “there are one million and one reasons to like us” never lets up.

General Electric

Technology that helps to make the world that futuristic reality we’ve been pining over for decades through sci-fi movies and Microsoft ads is extremely appealing. The one where clean technology and smart innovations create a peaceful, progressive society, as opposed to the post-industrial, post-nuclear muck we’re still wading through. We’re all waiting for that, and General Electric knows it. GE does an excellent job of creating a home for this march forward on its Twitter page.

You’ll find consistent video posts showing us the steps towards a brighter future with green energy innovations, smart cities, speed trains, and next gen medical research. Talk about a drip feed of really amazing tech that social media users would want to share with their friends on Facebook or other social profiles. The Envirobot, for example, is a robot eel that swims through the water to detect the level of pollution in the water – how cool is that?


Starbucks uses the retweet feature like no other. The result? Half of the Starbucks social media promotion on Twitter is performed by the most powerful voices for any brand – other customers.

Sprinkle these well-placed brand ambassador shout-outs within the coffee company’s own enticing product photos, deals, and announcements, and you have one effective relationship-building digital asset.


NY-based ad agency R/GA takes a creative approach to its Twitter usage. The posts are self-deprecating and hilarious, poking fun at social media marketing, New York, and life in general.

The beauty of this approach is that it’s engaging because it’s refreshing. A cutting-edge ad agency should take a cutting-edge approach to Twitter to earn those retweets, likes, and shares across social channels. Other brands shouldn’t follow the same approach, but rather define what effective and out-of-the-box means for them. This goes back to the fallacy of composition. It works because it works for them, not for Citibank, Dunkin Donuts, or Apple.

What works for your business depends on your customers, your industry, and, most importantly, the personality of your brand.

Twitter is about sparking conversation. It’s a very personable platform. The brands that can be themselves, whatever that means – whether it’s projecting an approachable persona in an unapproachable industry, being fun and supportive, edgy and ridiculously funny, or inspiring the world – are the ones who are still successfully marketing on Twitter.

How to Generate Leads Using Facebook (Without Ads)

By Michael Brenner on September 11, 2017

In order to be of substantial use to businesses, Facebook has been making it easier for marketers and business owners to generate leads. With more than 50 million business pages, Facebook understands it is important to provide value for business users as well as for the over 1.4 billion consumer pages. It is up to us to take advantage of all the value.

If you believe Facebook lead generation is limited to lead ads, you’re missing out on a big slice of the pie. While lead ads may help to push some customers further along your sales funnel, they are not the only approach you should take for generating leads with Facebook.

Some users won’t bother interacting with an ad, even the more subtle strain of advertising found on Facebook. Also, you’ll miss out on generating higher quality leads with all the inbound strategies you can leverage with your Facebook business page.

If you want to get to the heart of your lead gen power with your Facebook marketing, consider using these techniques. Then, thanks to Facebook Insights, you can easily see for yourself how effective your inbound lead generation tactics are for yourself.

Use Facebook Forms

Let’s start out by getting right to the point. You can easily transform your Facebook page into the ‘social’ landing page of the century by using a form. The advantage of a Facebook contact, newsletter subscribe, or other customized form is that it makes it easier for your potential customers to communicate with you as they don’t have to leave your Facebook page.

There are plenty of resources online for creating forms like Wufoo, JotForm and Formstack. Once your form is created, you can embed it into your Facebook page and it will show up as a new tab on your Facebook page. You can also use Facebooks iFrame application to create custom forms.

Get the Post Anatomy Right

Posting a link to your recent blog post to direct Facebook fans to your website and then eventually to your landing page is classic social media lead generation. In order to make it work, keep your Facebook posts visually appealing. Use an image instead of text-only and boost user engagement by 2.3 times. Just make sure you include a clear link back to your website in the caption.

Hubspot has identified the key features of the perfect Facebook post. Step number one is to have a clear goal, then make it short, visual, and well-linked. Bonus points for being provocative or inspirational.

Live video – employee or client interviews, events, behind-the-scenes footage – can help make your Facebook posts even more magnetic. Facebook users spend 3 times more of their social media viewing time glued to live video content over traditional videos. The better quality posts you use, the more users you’ll attract back to your website, the more likes and shares, and the more Facebook will recognize your content as popular and valuable.

Make Your Lead Magnet Interactive

Providing links back to your landing pages where your Facebook fans can sign up to download an ebook, sign up for your newsletter, or access your coupon code is a direct and effective way to generate leads through Facebook. While these are excellent tactics that should be a part of your strategy, for capturing high quality leads, consider offering your brand’s fanbase hosted webinars.

A webinar is an online event. This means you can create a custom event page on Facebook. As you invite users to the page and they sign up, you will be able to create a buzz, put out alerts, and continually build up interest. Your event posts will stand out, drawing even more attention to your Facebook presence and motivating more users to either sign up now, or to keep your brand in mind for later because you are sending the message that you have value to offer.

Tip for webinar success – don’t offer webinars randomly, but rather use a set cadence such as once every quarter, twice a year, every other month. As you promote each webinar, some users who are interested but not convinced to attend one event, will know they can register for the next one x weeks later. You can even use this predictability to your advantage. Create a lead generation form for people to sign up for a reminder for the next webinar that will be launched on your chosen date.

Then, of course, don’t forget to repurpose your webinar content into blog posts and other content – which you can share on your Facebook page to generate more leads.

Change Your Facebook CTA

You probably already have your CTA button – ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Sign Up’ on your Facebook page. This is a great tool that helps to generate leads easily. The only problem is, taking a set it and forget it approach can backfire. Your call to action can become a timeless part of your Facebook page that people stop noticing if you don’t work to make it noticeable.

A lot of brands make this mistake – using a basic logo or branded image, setting the CTA to ‘Contact Us’ and then moving on to focus on posts, not the actual page. A general rule of digital marketing is that the more static something is, the more it becomes a part of your brand’s background noise. While this may work for some parts of your online presence, any place you have a CTA you want there to be some sort of ‘pop’ or energy to break the easily ignorable stillness.

Try changing your button from time to time. Facebook makes it easy to track how well your CTA is doing. Pay attention to how effective one button is over another, as well as the impact of a new button.

Switch it up to suit your evolving marketing campaigns. Change your Facebook cover image as well for an even more attention grabbing effect. For example, when you are leading up to your webinar, switch to the ‘Sign Up’ button and change your cover photo to reflect the event. Launching a new product? Try the ‘Shop Now’ button with a relevant image.

Here is a great example of getting the most out of this marketing space. Artist Sandra Dieckmannuses her cover to showcase her different art work. She changes the cover image regularly, keeping the page fresh, attractive and interesting.

Lead Generation Goes Way Beyond Lead Ads

Use different lead generation techniques with Facebook. Play around with what works and track your click rates. And, keep evolving your strategy. There’s so much you can do to increase the number and quality of leads you capture from this platform. Just running Facebook ad campaigns may be a useful ‘piece’ of the entire strategy but it is through leveraging all the features you can use, from custom forms and rotating CTAs to value-packed posts and lead magnets, that you will discover the true metal of your Facebook business page.

A major revenue source that many businesses miss out on is getting single-purchase customers to return for more orders. It’s much cheaper to retain a customer than it is to get a new one, yet many e-commerce businesses don’t tap into this.

Converting a current customer into one that returns time and time again requires a different approach. They know your company, and they went through all of the marketing you’ve already done, so they get the picture. In order to re-attract them and convince them to spend more money, you will need to create a whole strategy that targets them. Here are some best practices to help bring customers back to your company time and time again:

Staying in Touch

If you want people to stick around, you need to stay in touch with them. This advice applies with friends and customers. If people don’t hear from you on a regular basis, they will forget about your business and move on. Then, when they do need a new product or service you provide, instead of leaping right to you, they’ll begin the buying process anew and potentially end up at a competitor.

A major step to getting returning customers is finding a way to stay connected with them after a purchase without annoying them. This decisions weighs heavily with the communication preferences of your target market. If they spend a lot of time on social media and prefer to get news from companies through Facebook or Twitter, sending them emails would just frustrate them. On the other hand, they might prefer getting something personal in their inbox rather than a blanket statement on Facebook.

Just do whatever you can to make sure you can contact your customers. That might mean giving an incentive to follow you on Facebook or to sign up for regular email updates. Encourage them to surrender their email address so you can continue to market to them.

Curating Products for Them

Have you ever purchased a vacuum with an online retail store, and then for the next month, when the site recommends products to you, nearly all of them are vacuums? You don’t need another vacuum — you just bought one!

Good curation can be a helpful tool to keep customers coming back time and time again. If you have a wide variety of products to sell, sending customers suggestions of what they should buy next can do a lot to raise awareness. This can be especially helpful if you sell products all within a specific area or industry.

For example, going back to buying vacuums, if somebody purchases a vacuum from your business, either they are replacing their cleaning tools or are just buying their first ones. So, instead of suggesting they buy other vacuums, you can send them curated suggestions like additional attachments, bags, filters, other cleaning tools like mops and brooms, or disposable items like paper towels. Don’t just curate different iterations of the same product; suggest choices that revolve around why they bought the initial product. Upsell them, both at the time of purchase, and later down the road when they discover they need extra products.

Subscription Services for Disposable Products

If you sell a product that will last your customer a lifetime, it becomes very hard to get them to buy more of the same. But, if you sell disposable products, than getting customers to keep coming back on a regular basis becomes very easy.

Offering a subscription for disposable products can help lock customers into staying in business with you for an extended period. That way, as a product nears the end of its expected lifecycle, a new one arrives, so a consumer doesn’t have to go shopping for a replacement. It’s why companies like Dollar Shave Club can flourish: by getting their product into their consumer’s hands right as their previous one wears out.

One way to get customers to sign up for a subscription is to offer discounts on longer agreements. That way, consumers see an immediate benefit to buying from your company for a long period of time. It will also attract bargain hunters who are willing to enter into a long-term subscription in order to save money over time.

Offering Benefits to Long-Term Customers

Once you start getting customers coming back time and time again, offer them exclusive benefits that show you value their continued support. Often, companies will provide sales, deals or coupons that can only be used by new customers. This leaves current and returning customers out to dry and feel like the business doesn’t notice them. If you want to build and keep customer loyalty, you need to throw them something.

Not only will giving a long-term customer a deal or something special keep them around, it will encourage other customers to stick around too. Especially if you do something special, your customers will share what you did for them, leading to great word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

Keep Them Coming Back

If you create a strategy around keeping people coming back to your business, not only can you improve your revenue, you’ll create life long customers and fans. That, in turn, will lead to more word-of-mouth marketing, higher reviews, and more active social media communities.

In order to pull this off, find ways to incorporate long-term retention in your business and marketing strategies. Create a subscription service for your disposable products. Create an automated process that sends emails with curated products based on what they have bought in the past. Get creative and focus on not just potential customers, but your current ones too, to get more sales.

As content marketing practices mature, organizations look for new ways to gain advantages and improve content performance.

One of the most elusive tactics is to optimize content for audience and situation relevance. Numerous studies have shown business outcomes improve significantly when content delivers highly targeted, useful and relevant insights to audiences.

Yet marketers currently struggle to produce content tailored even to relatively simple relevance factors, such as specific industry verticals or personas. Demand campaigns and nurture tracks seldom are targeted to those factors. Lack of data, list segmentation and relevant content are three primary reasons we usually hear.

As marketers move beyond content for marketing tactics, and step up to support sales and the sales channel’s content requirements, the ability to deliver highly targeted, situation-relevant content will be an essential capability.

Sales engagement is essentially a one-to-one activity. When B2B buying teams are made up of 5 to 6 stakeholders, the specific issues of the buying team is the “one.” If content isn’t relevant and useful to the specific issues of the buying team, it won’t have much impact.

Unfortunately, the traditional, “bespoke,” custom creation approach simply can’t meet this requirement. It’s not fast or flexible enough. The common adage is “good, fast or cheap, pick any two!” It can’t scale without compromising quality, time or costs.

Structured Content Approach

In search of alternatives, advanced content marketers have investigated an approach referred to as “Structured Content.”

Structured content is information or content that is organized in a predictable way and is usually classified with metadata. XML is a common storage format, but structured content can also be stored in other standard or proprietary formats.” Wikipedia

This is a specific approach within a broader concept called Intelligent Content.

Intelligent content is a strategic communications business asset:

Content that is “intelligent” is not limited to one purpose, technology or output. It is structurally rich and semantically aware, and is discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable.  It is ultimately one of the most strategic assets that a company can have.” Intelligent Content Conference

Structured Content creation has been used by the technical publication profession for over a decade. It’s based on a structured database, similar to the way some website content management systems (CMS) work.

This approach typically uses XML content storage methods. DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is a common methodology that is used by software authoring systems. Content is written into and pulled from a formerly-structured database of content components.

Modular Content Approach

The nature of today’s B2B marketing and sales content has shifted from product data sheets, to more educational and story oriented content. This content represents the largest and fastest growing segment for content marketers.

Unfortunately, the Structured Content approach and it’s systems are generally too rigid and difficult for most marketing and sales users.

Marketing and sales content is also more dynamic, in a less structured way than technical publications, or even websites.

A modular content approach may provide a better alternative to meet the challenge of creating many versions of finished content to optimize for contextual relevance.

Primary version categories include:

  • Situational context
  • Audience type (prospect, customer, influencer), industry vertical, buyer role or persona
  • Specific topic interest
  • Business purpose

Shared and reusable modules improve content quality and consistency. Another example is the need for greater adaptability. A specific module might fit well in one asset or context, but in another context requires modification. Source modules that reside outside a structured database can more easily be edited for context.

Modular Content as “Core” and “Extensions”

A modular content approach involves creating common “core” elements as source modules.  Core modules contain important or common messages that are used across many assets, use cases and even business functions such as sales, marketing and training.

Other modules provide contextually unique “extensions” to core elements. Extensions are custom elements that surround core components. They are not as universally re-usable as core elements. Extension components can created within business functions that are closest to audience, business purpose and situational context.

Configured Assets

The ability to create custom “Configured Assets” is especially helpful. This is the ability to configure core and extension modules into a new asset. It might also require some asset-specific custom language.

Here’s an example of a Configured Asset. We’ve identified at least 10 content criteria that content operations must meet and ideally optimize. These criteria add to pressure to scale output. Meeting these criteria can lead to high-performing, long-life content assets. It also results in higher return-on-content investments than the traditional approach.

The Configured Asset linked above is comprised of four modules:

  1. 10 criteria list
  2. video
  3. graphic
  4. explanation at bottom of why these are issues.

Each module is used as a stand-alone asset. They are also used in different combinations in several Configured Assets.

Consider a scenario where you want to optimize a white paper or e-book for relevance based on three business problems, four primary industry verticals and three key buyer personas and (a rather common scenario).

While it initially sounds daunting, a configurable modular content approach makes it eminently practical and achievable to assemble source modules into 36 versions of final work products!

Update and Maintain Long-life Assets

Traditionally, when content elements are physically copied into many different versions, they become “hard coded” to each asset. Another possibility with a configurable modular content approach is to have modules that are configured in many versions retain connection to their source module.

When feedback indicates the need to edit source modules, all versions that use the module are automatically updated. There’s no need to know which versions contain or require the updated sections. Even previously delivered assets can reflect updated changes.

For example, in the linked configured asset above, the video is periodically updated. It syncs from Wistia, our video hosting service, through the modular content component, into different configured versions. This can also apply to editing lists of text, or replacing graphics.

For a large portion of digital content requirements, simple configured assets are suitable enough for rapidly deployed content and regular use. Where higher production values are required — higher design and formatting for example — configured versions can simply be exported into a high-end design application as part of a finishing process.

Business Impact of a Modular Content Approach

Content creators today work under increasing pressure to deploy finished assets quickly, to meet short time-frame requirements, or test new ideas and messaging. Modular content creation, management and configuration enables faster content time-to-market.

A configurable modular content approach also means content can be maintained over time to preserve quality, extend useful life, and raise ROI.

But the most significant business impact is realized as a result of the ability and flexibility to scale output while optimizing relevance versions. Relevance today equates to quality. As the white paper example above indicates, exponential increases in output can be realized without significantly increasing time, resources or costs.

Becoming facile with modular content is a critical competency for operating a leveraged content supply chain.

The post Modular Content Creation vs. Traditional and Structured Content Approaches appeared first on Avitage.

If there was a Yelp listing for every industry niche, “Headphone Brand” would appear with the most possible dollar signs.

Big brands use bigger celebrities and spend some of the biggest ad budgets around to promote their products and, really, the emotion they want you to feel when you buy their products. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Nicki Minaj, athletes like LeBron James, and brands like Apple, Sony, Bose, and more, all slug it out to deliver the same message in increasingly expensive ways: “These headphones are the best.”

This is a flashy, fast-paced industry niche.

So what in the heck do we make of Grado Labs?

In 1918, a Sicilian immigrant purchased a small building on a nondescript block in Brooklyn. Over nearly a century ago, while the world around this building changed at breakneck speed, the world inside plodded along. It was one kind of business, and then, gradually, another. It was led by one generation of Grado, and then, gradually, another.

They don’t advertise, not one cent. They don’t upgrade much, using the same old equipment in the same old building. And they even make their headphones by hand.

So why are they such a success in the digital age?

It’s Unthinkable.

Listen below, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Get behind-the-scenes photos and videos, host commentary, plus this week’s “email antipasto” by subscribing to the newsletter:



The post UNTHINKABLE: Hand-Making Tech & Embracing Slow Growth in the Digital Age appeared first on Unthinkable.

We’re overloaded with the message that “Content Is King,” but teams are still struggling with where to even start.

Some latch onto sales trends that only guide a short-term strategy, while others rely on new technologies to do the work for them. We’re constantly inundated with endless choices as to the way we create, pitch, and share content with today’s changing sales landscape. At the same time, many sales and marketing teams are quickly learning that more content options often mean more content problems.

The latest data says that marketing leaders recognize a huge need for content control. A 2017 study by Heinz and Highspot revealed a 15% gap between what marketing teams rated as the importance of content accessibility and their own team’s performance. Even more, an 11% gap was present between marketer’s expectations and delivery of producing content for sales.

That means that while execs acknowledge the impact of making sure their sales reps can find the content they need, they’re falling short.  The bottom line is:

No matter how technology changes the type of content we’re producing, and how our customers engage with it, the value of that content shouldn’t be compromised.

To address these problems, I’m going to walk you through 5 steps to transform your content from adequate to awesome.

1) Align Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing teams don’t always play nice – especially when it comes to content. Sales reps demand marketing content as it relates to customer needs, but marketing is often one step away from the insights they need to truly deliver what works. Whether or not their involvement and interest truly evaporate once they hand off content to sales, or whether sales doesn’t offer sufficient feedback from customers, marketing teams oftentimes lose the visibility they need to produce customized, compelling content.

Here are three ways you can begin to bridge the gap between sales and marketing and set your business up for success:

  1. Define accountabilities and set goals. Decide what optimum outcome both teams are expecting from this alignment, as well as ownership in regards to roles and responsibilities. For example, sales could commit to quantifying customer engagement and using a modern content analytics tool to drive the strategy forward. Marketing can then focus on using those measurements to develop customer-centric content.
  1. Establish cross-collaboration and communication. The very notion of aligning sales and marketing teams means that they’ll need to learn to work together continually. Communication should always be open, and teams should always be sharing metrics into which sales pitches are working, how customers receive different types of content, and which content challenges each team faces every day.
  1. Fix content gaps. Once you have your plan set in place, take a step back and find out what’s currently working (and what’s not). Find out where your content is meeting its original expectations, and measure any shortcomings. Draft a new plan to strategize how you can fix these imbalances.

2) Value Effectiveness Over Efficiency

Cranking out content at the fastest rate won’t award you with the results that you’re looking for. Efficiency lends itself well to projects that require minimum effort for maximum output – but does that sound like the way you want to foster deeper customer relationships, with minimum effort?

When it comes down to it, effectiveness is at the heart of a successful sales campaign. Focus on what really matters: Landing higher sales with ease, accuracy, and yes, speed. Don’t let your team’s performance be sacrificed for the sake of time.

3) Personalize Each Pitch

It’s an obvious rule, but an important one: Customization creates compelling content. Your pitch is far more likely to resonate with a prospect if you’re using content that’s been proven to make an impact before. Utilizing a tool that allows reps to find, share, and report on their individual successes can really go the extra mile for the whole team.

Again, customers want to see content that relates directly to them. So find a modern sales enablement technology that allows you to make modifications and edits to documents within the platform, so reps don’t waste time on fragmented file systems and folders. More time for them means more time for deals.

4) Implement a Closed-Loop Improvement Process

Utilizing a closed-loop improvement process is proven to be one of the best ways to increase visibility and propel your business forward. See what we mean:

By closing the feedback loop to funnel customer insights back to where your content is produced, your work immediately becomes less manual and more automated. Letting the data collected from smarter sales content analytics to drive your most important business decisions will not only reap huge benefits, but it will make the life of both your sales and marketing teams that much easier.

5) Make Your Content Accessible

Of course, none of the above steps make any difference if you’re not utilizing a smart content feed that will deliver you the content you need, as soon as you need it.

As much as 19% of a salesperson’s time is spent “searching for and gathering information,” according to a report by McKinsey. This statistic should be absolutely unacceptable in your business because it undoes all of the hard work implemented by each team and instead creates rework where your content really matters: When pitching it to customers. Finding a solution that makes your content more accessible to the people closing deals for your business means saving time, money, and overall resources.

Lucky for us, the best sales enablement tools and technologies will ensure that all of your sales content is organized, prioritized, and categorized to free your reps up to do what they do best: sell.


At the end of the day, these 5 steps will bring you much closer to your team’s ultimate goal of achieving faster conversions and higher sales in less time. Put these practices into place so you can stop working so hard for your content, and instead have your content hard work for you.

The post appeared first on the B2B Lead Blog.

As a marketer, you’re no doubt aware of the constant changes the world of digital marketing is experiencing. You’re also probably well aware of how these big changes force marketers to constantly adapt and add new skills to their marketing stack.

That’s why it’s essential for marketers to have the ability to adapt to new technology and trends to stay afloat in a highly competitive space.

A competitive advantage as a marketer is highly valuable in such a convoluted, confusing job market and is necessary for professionals wanting to set themselves apart from the competition and advance their careers forward. 2017 will be over before you know it, and it’s important to start preparing yourself personally and professionally for what lies ahead. Make sure you’re ready for what the future has in store–and build a little career insurance along the way. Consider list of essential skills nearly any digital marketer will find useful in 2018 and beyond.


Content Marketing

The core foundation of effective digital marketing – content marketing still remains the “king.”

Brands have increasingly recognized the need to produce high-quality content in order to attract and keep their audiences interested and engaged. The value of content marketing has significantly risen over the past recent years and won’t prove to die down any time soon. Thus, every company how important it is to have a strong team of content developers on their side.

A marketer who can effectively plan, create, and promote compelling content is in demand now more than ever. No matter what field of the marketing umbrella you’re under, recognizing the value of quality content and being able to deliver it is a tremendously valuable asset.

Social Media

Social media isn’t going anywhere – no one can deny the power of social media as it is one of the most valuable tools brands have in increasing brand awareness and reaching their audiences. Social networks have access to massive and highly engaged audiences that no other channel can provide for brands to effectively share and promote their message.

For instance, being proficient in Facebook advertising and fully understanding what kind of strategy works best on the world’s largest social network proves to be a huge competitive advantage. Likewise, knowing what type of visual content is the most effective on Instagram and knowing optimal times to post is something companies look for in digital marketers, especially social media marketers.

Being able to understand the ins and outs of the social media landscape and knowing what works is a skill that every digital marketer should have today and for the future. This is the type of knowledge companies look for to help effectively boost their social media presence and connect with consumers on a personal level.

Video Production

Video is the most effective type of visual content and can significantly drive engagement with audiences for brands. This is especially true for video content on social media platforms. The integration of video content and social proves to be a compelling way to boost brand awareness and ultimately a brand’s bottom-line.

Thus, many brands are focused on marketers who are knowledgeable of video production.

Having any basic skills in video production, editing, and animation as a marketer are unique techniques that companies look for when comparing candidates.

Does your resume look boring and dull? Revamp it by brushing up your skills with video editing tools such as Apple Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Data Analytics

The development of sophisticated data analytics tools creates an abundance of data readily available for brands. This information can help businesses get key insights into their consumer behavior, allowing them to effectively improve the customer experience.

Understanding your consumer behavior and tracking the performance of your digital efforts are crucial in ensuring the success of your marketing campaigns. From conversion tracking cookies to GPS data and app activity, the volume of data businesses have access to is overwhelming. Tools like Google Analytics helps you track performance and measure key metrics like conversion and site traffic.

While there may be a wealth of data at hand, effectively knowing how to use it and convert it into valuable information is difficult. Finding marketers who are knowledgeable in reading and translating data serves a huge valuable asset for companies. A data analysis expert who can help businesses sort, organize, and extract meaning and actionable insights from a plethora of data is always in demand.

If you have a knack for crunching numbers, adding data analytical skills to your skillset is a great way to make you more competitive as a digital marketer.

Technical Skills

It’s important to possess technical and analytical skills in an industry that’s being impacted by technology in almost every single aspect.

Technical skills are among the most valuable and highly seeked-out qualities in the digital landscape. Knowing basic HTML and CSS coding languages is an invaluable skill to add to your resume. Sophisticated coding languages like Java and SQL are even more impressive.

Having an understanding of the technical side of a company’s marketing efforts is without a doubt one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the competition.

Design-Forward Thinking

There’s been a huge trend in businesses that are making changes in their organization to adopt a design-first mindset. Whether it’s web, software, or product design; design thinking has become an integral part of effective marketing for a reason.

While it’s important to possess technical skills, it’s essential for marketers today to have the ability to integrate them with creativity to help businesses provide the ultimate customer experience. Marketers who understand and know how to employ design thinking into their work are highly desirable by employers and recruiters who seek to be innovative.

CMS Experience

Almost all businesses use a content management system to help publish, edit and manage their digital content.

WordPress and Drupal are two of the most common content management systems businesses use. Having experience with these types of platforms shows that you’re set to go and ready to help the business push out compelling content and drive ROI!


If you’re looking to add these digital marketing skills to your marketing stack, there is an abundance of tools and resources for you to use. Taking digital marketing courses by Google or simply just conducting your own research are ways to ensure that you keep up with the revolving digital landscape.

Don’t fall behind – continuously working to expand your knowledge and expertise as a marketer is what employers and recruiters look for in candidates. You can never have too many skills so establish yourself as a credible digital marketing expert to successfully advance your career forward in the right way.