How to Make Your Team Believe in Content Marketing

By Haley McDevitt on December 16, 2020

‘Tis the season to believe in the holiday spirit AND the power of content marketing.

If you’re new here, content marketing is a business opportunity to reach and convert new customers. It drives measurable results through powerful story-telling that’ll hit home with your customers.

Chances are, you believe in content marketing. You’re ready to hop on the Content Marketing Express.

But is your team?

This is a recurring issue that we solve time and time again for new clients. You need to make your colleagues and executives believe in content marketing, and fast. Time is of the essence and everyone is sick of dead-ends. 

Where do you even start?

Quick Takeaways:

  • Content marketing is more than publishing articles. 
  • SEO tools prove that consistency and relevancy are crucial parts of the equation.
  • Consider the mass amounts of content out there. You should know who you’re up against.

Involve Your Team in the Conversation

Sometimes, the best way to involve your team is to describe content marketing through relatable consumer behavior.

Being the number one rank in search results isn’t the primary goal anymore. The next time you’re on the prowl for a how-to or a home remedy for a cold, you might notice the components of search engines like Google. 

The top placements are usually bought out with enormous amounts of paid search budgets. Before the paid placements will come featured snippets, enabling you to find exactly what you need without another click or tap.

How nice of you, Google, to want visitors to stay on your site and your site only.

It’s not all about the featured snippet, though. The real celebration comes in the form of monthly, weekly, and daily tracking of a company’s upward climb. 

One goal of content marketing strategy is to research and surpass these tricky algorithms. And when we get it just right, we do a little jig to celebrate our clients’ success stories.

Show your team the tangible benefits that content marketing could provide, then get into the nitty-gritty once you’ve raised their attention.

Understand What Content Marketing Really Is

Content marketing, per our definition, delivers the content your audience is seeking in all the places they are searching for it.

Two measurable tricks to this approach are consistency and relevance, both of which prove ROI almost immediately.

You’ll need to consider a publishing cadence that works for your team’s bandwidth. Some companies have dedicated teams for content building, copyrighting and site optimizing; many do not. That’s where a content marketing program could come in handy. The benefits can be broken down:

  1. Cost-effective content creation
  2. Resources to cope with high-demand projects
  3. A broad content spectrum
  4. Ability to stay on top of content marketing trends

Don’t just hire anyone who claims they “do” content marketing without knowing the type of quality you might receive. In order to stay competitive, your content marketing plan cannot be superficial.

Winning the Content Competition Race

When it comes to content and visibility on online platforms, you have two kinds of competitors: direct and indirect.

You know your direct competitors. These are the guys who offer the same product or service and compete for the same market. Whether you’re currently in last place or on the top of the leaderboard in one or more channels, there’s likely room to drive more organic traffic.

One of the tools that we use for our clients is SEMrush, an all-in-one marketing tool for improving online visibility and uncovering marketing insights. We identify the top competitors of your company, their top content, focus keywords, and more. 

Knowledge around your competition is power and is the framework for keeping your company in the game.

Some tools might be worth investing in and exploring to give your team the background needed to make a well-informed strategic decision.

Also don’t overlook the impact of sneaky indirect competitors. These ones offer different products or services but are competing to satisfy the same customer need.

If you’re in the CRM market, other CRM tools are easily identifiable. If you’re in the cloud software industry, your direct competitors are those with similar platforms and services as yours. 

Your potential customers are searching for buzzwords to find the right solution. In organic search, you could be competing with companies that you’ve never thought twice about if you have similar keywords, audiences, or content in general. 

One relatable example for the average fellow is house painters. Those services compete directly with other house painting companies, but indirectly with home improvement companies like Home Depot or Lowe’s. 

Actively Choose Empathy

Our natural instinct as businesspeople is to put our best face forward, showing off what we do and what we sell. However, all branded content is an opportunity to show your audience that you truly care about THEM.

If you’re not doing so already, you should be focused on delivering content that your audience is actively seeking.

You know that your product or service is great. If you’re constantly bragging about it, your audience is going to file you with the rest of the money hungry marketers.

The simplest way to choose empathy is to remind yourself that your customers are people just like you. No one wants to be bombarded with ads or gimmicks. You don’t buy into cold selling, so why would your customers?

Get Ready for 2021

Now is the time to start planning your 2021 marketing strategy if you haven’t already. Make sure you start the New Year with a clear plan of your goals and how you’re going to achieve them.

While marketing trends come and go, the basics of success remain the same: understand the needs of your audience and communicate with them clearly and consistently. That’s why customer-focused content has always been the best way to establish solid relationships with your audience. It goes without saying that content marketing will continue to dominate the digital marketing landscape for some time to come. Most of these trends rely on content in some way. To have success in them you’ll need to have a solid base of quality content across all your marketing channels.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

content marketing for brand building

Brand awareness is more than people simply recognizing your business name or your logo.

True brand awareness entails your audience getting to know the personality behind your brand and what makes you different from your competitors.

It’s vital to build brand awareness because consumers are much more likely to buy from a brand they know and trust than one that’s new to them.

A research study found that over 80% of people searching for a product on Google chose to click on websites they were already familiar with, regardless of their position in the results.

Content marketing can be a highly effective way to build brand awareness. With every piece of branded content an individual sees, they become more familiar with your brand. But while exposure is important, it’s not the only factor at play.

Content can help to build your brand in several different ways.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Content marketing is an excellent way to demonstrate knowledge and expertise and build trust with your audience.
  • The more content you publish, the more exposure you give your brand. Every piece of content has the potential to widen your audience.
  • Your content is an important part of your overall brand and can be used to amplify your brand voice and reinforce your commitment to your brand values.

1. Demonstrating Authority and Expertise

By regularly publishing informative and educational content that helps to solve your audience’s problems, you demonstrate the fact that you know what you’re talking about as an expert in your industry.

For example, take a look at the blog published by marketing and CRM software company, HubSpot.

HubSpot publishes a lot of detailed and useful articles on subjects such as content marketing, web design, email marketing, SEO, and customer experience.

Most of these articles are not written with the aim of selling more software licenses. Nor, indeed do they even mention the products and services that the company sells.

This informational content is not published with the aim of making more sales, but rather to share knowledge and cement HubSpot’s position as an authority in the area of digital marketing.

The audience reading HubSpot’s blog may not immediately be looking for a marketing software solution. However, with each piece of content they read, they’ll build a stronger association between the HubSpot brand and marketing knowledge.

If at some point in the future they are in the market for a CRM or marketing automation software, they’ll already have HubSpot in mind and be confident in the brand’s experience and knowledge.

2. Building Trust

Consistently publishing helpful information for your audience not only helps to demonstrate your expertise and authority but is also vital for gaining the trust of your target audience.

People don’t like to feel like they’re being sold to or that brands only have an interest in gaining their business.

Content marketing means publishing content that’s not sales focused and demonstrates you care about your audience and their problems, rather than just making the sale.

The more content your audience reads and the better they get to know your brand, the more likely they will be to trust you. The more they trust you, the more likely they are to spend money with you in the future.

Source: Marketing Charts

3. Fleshing Out Your Brand Personality

Many brands offer very similar products and services, often at similar prices. Your brand personality is what distinguishes you from your competitors and builds relationships and loyalty with your customers.

Your content should reflect your brand values and mission. It should demonstrate what you offer beyond the products and services you sell.

Every piece of content you publish should also reflect your brand tone and voice. Whether this is fun and friendly, creative and quirky, or confident and informative depends on your audience, the industry you’re in, and how you want to position your brand.

Source: EndeavorCreative

To get this all right, it’s important to have a clear and defined brand, mission, value, voice, and content strategy that pulls it all together. Skipping over any of these steps will result in content that doesn’t have a clear voice or personality, and your brand will be weakened as a result.

4. Increasing Brand Exposure and Mentions

Every piece of content you publish gives you a new opportunity to expand your audience and reach more eyes.

Publishing content around the topics that your audience and customers are interested in is a highly effective way to boost your SEO. This means your site is more likely to come up in searches for keywords related to your business. The more content you publish, the more chances you have of showing up in search results.

Source: Oracle Modern Marketing Blog

Good content can help you to attract traffic from many other sources apart from search engines.

People share high-quality content on social media. Social media mentions are doubly effective because they not only help you to reach a wider audience, but a social share acts as a vote of confidence and demonstrates that others trust in your brand too.

This is increasingly important these days where 83% of consumers say they are more likely to buy a product or service if it is recommended by a friend or family member.

5. Building Customer Loyalty

Content marketing is not only important for attracting new customers but also to keep the customers you already have.

Strengthening relationships with your customers is also important for building your brand. When customers are loyal to your brand, they are more likely to recommend it to others.

Consistently publishing new content is a great way to stay in touch with your existing customers, keep your brand on their mind, and give them more opportunities to share your content and products with others.

6. Engaging Your Audience with Brand Storytelling

Everyone loves a good story. So it’s no surprise that much of the most successful content on the web involves some element of storytelling.

Likewise, some of the world’s most successful brands have a great story behind them. Just look at Apple (founded by college dropouts out of a garage) or Toms shoes (inspired by the travels of the founder and the barefoot children he met along the way).

If you can use content to tell the story of your brand in an engaging way, you’ll build an emotional connection with your audience that will make them want to read more, interact more, and buy more from your brand.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today–and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

7 Ways to Create Content that Generates Leads

By Michael Brenner on December 14, 2020

content that generates leads

Are you feeling your well of content marketing inspiration running dry?

It doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time and energy to create content that generates leads.

Sometimes it’s just a case of thinking outside of the box and putting a new spin on the content you already have.

There’s still time left before the end of the year to make sure your content marketing efforts have an impact on your revenue.

If you feel like you’re in a bit of a content rut, try some of these ideas to generate content that will really work for you.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Use your existing content as a basis to create new content that’s focused on generating leads
  • Always keep your customers at the heart of your content: Who are they? What do they want? And how can you help them?
  • Make sure you have a true understanding of your brand’s core values and demonstrate these values in the content you publish.

1. Answer Your Company’s “WHY?”

Finding your company’s WHY and creating content around your true purpose can help you to connect with your audience on a deeper level.

In 2020 and beyond, the values of your brand are more critical to success than ever before. Over 70% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that align with their own values.

Your brand’s mission should go beyond making sales and generating profits and get to the root of the wider impact you want to have on the world.

So how do you uncover that true purpose? Start by getting together employees at all levels to answer questions like “why do we exist?” and “what are we good at?” Pull these findings together into a company mission statement that’s at the heart of everything you do.

Once you’ve decided on your mission statement, make sure the world knows about it by creating content that demonstrates your commitment to your mission.

Using brand storytelling to link your content back to your core values will help your audience to feel more connected to your brand. They’re then more likely to want to read more of your content or convert to a customer.

2. Master the Art of Trend-Jacking

If you’re stuck for content ideas, an effective way to come up with topics that are sure to pique the interest of your audience is by incorporating some timely topics and current trends into your content.

Take a look through your calendars and see if there are any upcoming events or product launches that your audience will be interested in. If you can create some original content around these topics, you’re sure to get them reading. If you can somehow tie in your products or solutions, you’ve got a good chance of driving some conversions.

Breaking news stories and breakout trends always make great topic ideas. This type of content can be especially valuable if you’re one of the first to offer commentary or unique content. Trending topics attract links like nothing else.

Source: https://www.equinetacademy.com/trendjacking-in-content-marketing/

Set up Google alerts for your industry and make sure to read related news feeds regularly. Google TrendsBuzzsumo, and Trendwatching are also useful platforms for keeping an eye on new trends. Sometimes Twitter and other social media platforms are the best places to spot trending topics.

Trending topics don’t have to be restricted to your industry either. Creating some new content around a trending meme or pop culture content can be a fun way to connect with your audience and attract new traffic – you could even go viral!

3. Repurpose Your Existing Content

Often the best source of inspiration for new content is what you already have.

Repurposing and reusing the content you already have means you can maximize your content marketing ROI and have the opportunity to reach a wider audience.

Original infographics and charts created for use in reports and articles can be repurposed for social media posts. You can also pull key insights from your long-form content pieces and repost them on your social media channels.

If you’ve seen success from a certain blog post, consider enhancing and expanding it into an ebook or white paper. You can pull together the content from several blog posts into a single ebook. Likewise, taking the content of multiple social media posts could form the basis of an article.

Think about ways you could reach a new potential audience with your existing content. For example, a single blog post could be recreated as a video or podcast. You don’t have to come up with a completely new content idea for each piece of content. Revisiting topics in multiple formats is often the best way to widen your reach.

Source: https://www.evergreenfeed.com/blog/improve-social-media-strategy/repurpose-content-social-media/

4. Connect with Your Community

Don’t just think of your content as something one-sided for your audience to passively consume.

Content is a great opportunity to open the conversation and invite the community around your brand to engage with you.

Webinars, panel discussions, and other virtual events are a great way to share content in a way that makes your audience feel more involved.

Virtual events like webinars can be incredibly effective at driving sales and conversions too. You can expect around 15% of webinar attendees to convert to a sale, which is an impressive conversion rate by anyone’s standards.

The reason that such events convert so well is that you have a captive and engaged audience who are already interested in what you have to say.

Digital events can seem intimidating if you’ve not yet dipped your toe in the waters, but they don’t have to be a huge production.

Get together a few industry leaders and people that your audience is interested in listening to. Plan some topics for discussion and remember to keep the process two-way. Starting a conversation can create some interesting launch points for new content that you may not have thought of before.

5. Focus on Buyer Intent

Remember why your business is here. While you can use content indirectly to build a relationship with your audience and raise awareness of your brand, don’t be afraid to go ahead and tell the world what problem you solve.

Make sure you understand true buyer intent. Let’s say you have a business selling vacuum cleaners. People who buy vacuum cleaners don’t really want to buy a vacuum cleaner (who would really want to spend their money on a vacuum cleaner if they had a choice?). What they really want is a clean house with the minimum amount of time and effort. If they can’t get this information from you, they’ll go somewhere else.

Source: https://www.gartner.com/en/digital-markets/insights/how-to-use-buyer-intent-data-to-your-sales-advantage

Creating content that explores tips and ideas for keeping your house clean and making sure to explore the features of vacuum cleaners that make life easier would most definitely be a way to make more sales.

Utilizing influencer marketing can be an effective way to amplify the power of this kind of content. For example, sales of Shark vacuum cleaners shot through the roof in the UK in parallel with the rising popularity of cleaning influencer “Mrs. Hinch” who creates content purely around cleaning tips.

6. Profile Your Customers

Source: https://www.thesmarketers.com/abm-approach-ideal-customer-profile/

How well do you really know your customers? You’ve probably got a good idea about why they bought from you ­– because your product or services solved their problems. But who are they really as people?

Finding out more about who your customers really are can help you to create more relevant and engaging content that’s sure to lead to more conversions.

For example, Zogo is an app that creates engaging financial literacy lessons for young adults. By taking the time to fully understand their “Generation Z” audience, they’ve been highly successful in creating content that not only gets read but also drives conversions to financial institutions that partner with the app.

Zogo took its inspiration from the huge success of language learning app Duolingo. Rather than publishing dull financial education articles, breaking the content into small chunks and serving it on a mobile platform with gamification was the best way to engage with their GenZ audience.

7. Map Content to the Buyer Journey

Take the time to audit your existing content and see where it relates to the buyer’s journey. You’ll probably find there are gaps in your content that could result in you losing a lead before it turns into a customer.

A lot of brands do a good job of creating informational content that attracts an audience at the top of the marketing funnel. If you’re producing educational content but not thinking about how to actually turn those readers into customers, you’re not getting the most out of your content strategy.

The content you produce should align with the buyer’s journey. Make sure you know and understand the touchpoints that your customers may interact with on their way to making a purchase and think about the problems and questions they may have at each stage. Create great content that overcomes these challenges and answers their questions.

Need More Help with Content?

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today–and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

Whether virtual or in-person, event planning is a painstaking process.

Planners oversee countless details and put in place many event aspects to ensure that events turn out great.

Oftentimes, however, they encounter challenges. These challenges are not because the team lacks requisite skills and experience but because many planners still use traditional methods which can be quite out-of-date, which can lead to missing important details that might have significant implications for event success.

However, an optimized process utilizes technology to reduce manual tasks, free up time, and create a connected experience for attendees.

Every aspect of event planning can be supported with appropriate technologies that will make planning your event not only easier but also more organized and precise.

This article identifies common areas where planners encounter challenges and covers suitable technologies that can be used to streamline the process. Those topics are outlined below:

  • Task Organization and Prioritization
  • Event Budget Management
  • Event Registration, Marketing, and Promotion
  • Venue Sourcing and Selection
  • Event Experience
  • Call for Papers and Content Management
  • Accommodation and Travel

Continue reading to learn more!

1. Task Organization and Prioritization

In the event planning process, some of the issues that pose common challenges involve prioritizing planning activities, managing schedules, and creating teams. To take care of this, consider simple productivity tools like:

  • Evernote – For notes and tasks
  • Todoist – For tasks and checklists
  • Fantastical – For calendars and tasks

For complex requirements involving multiple teams, consider full-scale project management tools such as:

  • Basecamp
  • Asana
  • Trello

You may also consider using event-specific planning software like the ones offered by Aventri and Bizzabo.

2. Event Budget Management

Another area where tech can be helpful is in managing event budgets. Tools are available to help you make budget projections, track expenses and revenue, and set up payment reminders.

You can also use the tools to assign items to vendors and designate team members to oversee specific line items. Examples of suitable tools include:

  • Planning Pod
  • Aventri
  • Cvent

With these tools, you can easily calculate event ROI, and know where to make adjustments to actualize your goals.

3. Event Registration, Marketing, and Promotion

To simplify data collection, transfer, and integration, consider using a combined platform for event registration, promotion, and marketing. Some marketing automation platforms (MAPs) include all these features and can help you eliminate duplication of activities. Examples of  MAPs that you may consider include:

  • Marketo
  • Hubspot
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Salesforce
  • Drip
  • Autopilot

Monitoring user behavior is essential to increase conversion rates (the number of event registrations), and MAPs can help you achieve this. However, if you are not using a MAP, there are other tools that can help you achieve that.

Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring user behavior on your website, although it has its own limitations. Other tools with more extensive features include:

  • Crazy Egg
  • Lucky Orange
  • Hotjar

These tools provide the opportunity to watch site visitors navigate your site either live or recorded, giving you a complete picture of user experience. This can help you improve your page navigation flow to guide users along to your call-to-action.

4. Venue Sourcing and Selection

Selecting and sourcing event venues is a time-consuming activity. It requires identifying and sending RFPs to different properties and waiting to receive responses from each of them.

However, eRFP solutions make it possible to set parameters according to event requirements in order to preselect relevant properties that are the best fit for your event. The solutions then enable you to create an RFP to be sent to selected properties directly through the system. This usually has a quick turn-around time and a higher response rate. Examples of venue sourcing solutions include:

  • Cvent
  • Aventri

eRFP platforms allow you to manage the venue bid process more efficiently, and also allows for seamless communication with properties. You can make negotiations, selections, and award contracts directly on the platform you choose.

5. Event Experience

Creating unique event experiences requires an understanding of what appeals to each segment of your audience and speakers. Some may prefer to attend your event in-person, whereas others love to connect from the comfort of their homes. Therefore, you need a platform that will create a connected experience to accommodate both in-person and virtual attendees.

In addition, using a mobile event app can help attendees create a personalized experience at your event by creating their own agenda and choosing networking opportunities with other event attendees. Below are some tech suggestions for your event platform and mobile event app needs.

  • Pathable
  • Accelevents
  • Bizzabo
  • Aventri

Some of the platforms provide complete experiences while others offer the separate components you need for your event, either event platform or mobile app.

pathable

6. Call for Papers and Content Management

Getting in touch with event speakers, requesting papers and content for an event, and monitoring deadlines can be a challenge for many event organizers. Technology is available to manage this process more efficiently. One prominent software solution to consider is Hubb. Hubb can help you reduce the admin time spent when processing content manually.

7. Accommodation and Travel

Use tech to manage guests’ accommodation and travel plans and save tremendous time. With a simple tool, you can collect, organize, and manage travel and accommodation preferences without hassle. An example of such a tool is Eventpro. This tool also helps with venue booking and management requirements.

Technology solutions are great for making planning easy, however, they shouldn’t come at an unbearable cost. That’s why you should carefully consider your budget before adopting technology to optimize your event planning process. Your tech choice should drive results that lead to a significant increase in ROI not less overall funding.

This is a guest post by Jordan Schwartz

Jordan Schwartz is president and co-founder of Pathable, an event app and website platform for conferences and trade shows. He left academic psychology for the lure of software building, and spent 10 years at Microsoft leading the development of consumer-facing software. Frustrated with the conferences he attended there, he left Microsoft in 2007 with the goal of delivering more value and better networking opportunities through a next-generation conference app. Jordan moonlights as a digital nomad, returning often to his hometown of Seattle to tend his bee hives.

10 Simple Tricks to Accelerate Your Sales Pipeline

By Michael Brenner on December 9, 2020

We know the sales cycle is composed of phases. It may vary greatly, especially on the time that it takes to complete. A long sales cycle typically requires several touch points and spans several weeks to months.

I remember seeing around 84 days to convert a lead into an opportunity when I ran demand generation for a large software company. Then  it took on average, another 18 days to turn it into a deal.

Harvard University found that at least 25% of B2B sales cycles take a minimum of 7 months to close.

SiriusDecisions, found that the typical cycle has extended by 22% over the last five years because the digital marketing mix has made things more complex and there are now more decision-makers involved in the process.

Accelerating sales and closing deals faster means keeping the process short and your leads engaged and moving.

Here are some simple tips to accelerate your sales cycle.

1. Nurture Your Leads

Start by segmenting your contacts into lists of casual browsers and of those who may not purchase soon. These are the leads who need nurturing before being passed off to sales. Lead nurturing allows your sales team to work on qualified, ready-to-buy prospects for a faster sales pipeline.

Clogging up your pipeline with leads that aren’t ready slows down the cycle. One of the main reasons behind this is that 61% of B2B marketers (as per Salesforce data) send all leads directly to sales without determining if the leads should still be nurtured.

2. Automate Where Possible

Automating some processes in the pipeline helps in lead scoring and ensures that leads are attended to promptly. Determine which tasks are systematic/repetitive and start automating those, since reducing the hours needed to complete these tasks means your team can spend more time working on high-value leads.

Two tasks that you can automate are follow-ups and lead qualification, which are both necessary in sales but can be tedious. Follow-ups make your clients feel important, but in the hustle and bustle of modern life, it can be hard to stay on top of following up. Draft follow-ups in advance and send them automatically through your CRM.

Another big challenge that can be automated is qualifying sales-ready leads before handing them off to the sales team. Automation can address this flaw in the vetting process to provide a faster, scalable, and more efficient qualification process.

3. Implement Paid Search for the Top of the Funnel

Longer sales cycles mean your prospects are taking their time and researching their options, which they are likely doing via the Internet.

Paid search makes sure that your company appears on top of their SERPs, allowing you to gain additional traffic, and build brand awareness.

Start by researching your keywords. Remember to target the keywords that people who are researching your products and services will use.

Then, create landing pages full of educational content to continue nurturing these leads. Landing pages need great CTAs as well, but don’t be too aggressive since they still may not be ready to make that final purchase decision.

You can also create ads that present why customers should choose you instead of your competitors.

4. Work with Real Buyers

Real buyers, in this case, are the decision-makers. Not communicating directly with these people often leads to long and uncertain sales cycles.

Find ways to talk to and work with executives. You can start by working with the mid-level clients and building their trust until you can persuade them into setting a meeting with their decision maker.

5. Understand the Decision-Making Process

Ask your prospects about their timeframe. Learn what they want to know before making a decision, as well as who’s involved in the decision. Discover their criteria and what they want to learn about the business, and you’ll be set up for success.

Their answers will give you an idea of how their assessment will go down, helping you develop a lead management strategy that’s tailored to fit your particular target audience or persona.

6. Align Content and Reward with the Sales Cycle

There’s a natural progression within the marketing funnel, and leads will have to advance through each stage at some point. Make sure that you’re supplying them with the necessary information they need throughout their journey that’s relevant to each step of the buying process.

Start by establishing brand awareness and credibility, then work on serving up your offerings once the prospect has enough knowledge. Make sure that with each piece of content you offer, you’re letting them know what they can do from there to move them further into the funnel.

Content with thought-leadership can be integrated into promotional offerings. Balance educational content by showcasing your products and services. Once you’ve convinced them and passed them on to Sales, they’ll be much closer to making that all-important purchase decision.

7. Personalize Everything

Nowadays, most people have learned how to spot and dismiss obvious marketing ploys, making it harder for businesses to hold their engagement during the initial stages of the sales cycle. However, this can be solved by having a deeper understanding of a customer’s interests and personalizing the engagement.

More in-depth information about customers requires gaining their trust. So, you need to provide something of value in return. Here are some other ways to personalize your marketing efforts:

  • Have a remarketing strategy that caters to customer behaviors or actions
  • Put a face to your brand that will promote and represent your company
  • Use relatable language in your messaging that still reflects your company image

8. Focus on High-Performing Channels

Having more marketing channels isn’t always helpful, especially when you’re trying to cut your sales cycle time in half. Figure out what to focus on and find out which channels perform best. Naturally, continue to build systems that support a focus on those channels to ensure the highest returns.

Keep in mind that your channels should regularly be tracked, as each one’s performance will change over time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with and try out new channels as you optimize your campaign.

9. Use an Incremental Close

Make the buyer deeply invested in you through small commitments to put them in the habit of saying “yes.” Each time you have a positive interaction, it’ll build towards a mutually beneficial relationship based on trust and value.

Determine the requests you’ll make at the end of every interaction, ensuring that both you and the prospect will benefit from it. Each commitment should increase in size and significance as you continue to nurture and eventually lead to closing sales leads.

10. Leverage Social Proof

Your current, satisfied customers are the best brand ambassadors you can have when trying to sway prospects. Peer opinions and testimonials can be leveraged to win a prospect’s confidence, resulting in a faster sales cycle. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Find a mutual contact and ask for a personal introduction.
  • Send them case studies as evidence that your product or service has helped your customers’ ROI.
  • Invite buyers to an event where they can mingle with your current customers. The customers will eventually talk you up.
  • Bring up organizations that may be dealing with a challenge similar to the prospects and that they can relate to.

Bonus: Be Aware of the Demand Funnel “Cocktail”

I was once asked by the good folks over at Focus to participate in an exciting project and the first edition of the “Book of Funnels“.  The challenge was this: put all your thoughts on the marketing and sales funnel into one page and use a picture to tell your story.

I have to admit that this project was a lot of fun. At the time, I was leading a large online demand generation program and had some thoughts about the state of the marketing and sales funnel. And I agree with Craig Rosenberg at Focus, that “every organization should make the effort to depict its revenue funnel on one page. It serves as the basis for your sales and marketing strategy.”

There was much discussion by the leaders in our organization about the shape of our funnel and the need to increase the velocity of our demand activities by moving from a wine-glass shaped funnel to one shaped more like a champagne flute or a shot glass.

The use of the drinking metaphor is too alluring so to all of you who have used this before, thank you for the inspiration. Now there were a few main points I tried to get across in my submission:

  • The division between a marketing and sales funnel is a myth. Marketers sell stuff and sales people market stuff. The funnel is a useful way to analyze the rate at which we are capturing and managing demand.
  • To our customers there is no funnel. I believe we should align our efforts to customer needs.
  • There is no beginning and no end. We should have a continuous level of activity in the marketplace. This way we are engaging prospects earlier in the buying process and never stop engaging them even (or especially) after they purchase from us.
  • The earlier engagement and continuous activity level will create more efficient demand management by delivering against customer needs. Our customers will tell us when they are ready to speak to a salesperson. For most B2B buying experiences, they expect to speak to a salesperson at some point in their journey.
  • By engaging with customers on their terms, when they start the buying process and throughout their relationship with your company, you create a thinner and taller demand funnel. Conversions increase. Marketing spend is much more efficient. And customer lifetime values increase.

Now there are many great examples of funnels in this book and none of them are wrong. Some suggest the funnel is obsolete, one of my favorites is Barbra Gago’s “hourglass” that suggests we start with the community to drive customer evangelists. I also like Adam Needles “Buyers 2.0” demonstrating that buyers chose their own path and Steve Woods comments about valuation of leads and analyzing marketing impact on revenue. But whichever funnel “speaks” to you, I hope we gave you something to think about and also some direction on how to analyze your own marketing efforts.

Over to You

Accelerating the sales pipeline requires a defined sales process, knowing your prospects’ interests and pain points, determining which leads to enter into the pipeline and which leads to nurture, and continue building your relationship with the clients.

Automating a few steps in the buying process can also be beneficial in moving through the sales cycle faster to quickly earn your revenue and grow your business.

Once you’ve managed to implement some of these tactics, you’ll notice your sales pipeline becoming shorter, more systematic, and more predictable. All of which are great for making your sales process more efficient and helping decision-making in the future.

What Does Your Content Say About Your Company Culture?

By Michael Brenner on December 9, 2020

Tell your Story

It’s more important than ever before to build a positive and inspiring company culture. The culture of your organization affects the talent you attract, how engaged your employees are at work, and also the customers who choose your brand over others.

Your company culture is a reflection of your core brand values and mission. And those values can be an important factor in the decision-making process when someone chooses to spend their money or do business with you.

According to a 2020 survey of consumer behavior, over 70% said it was important that companies they bought from aligned with their values.

Source: https://www.5wpr.com/new/research/5wpr-2020-consumer-culture-report/

There are many factors that go into your company culture. It’s important to mold the working environment and the sort of business you do around the type of culture you want to cultivate.

Source: https://www.breathehr.com/blog/topic/company-culture/what-is-company-culture-and-why-is-it-important

But have you considered how the content you are publishing affects how your company culture is perceived?

Quick Takeaways:

  • Expressing your true company culture is critical for attracting the right talent and the right customers.
  • The content you publish can be a valuable way to demonstrate your brand culture.
  • Get your brand values and mission statement set in stone to create a solid base for all your content marketing efforts.

Why Your Content Is a Reflection of Your Culture

Have a think about the brands you regularly consume content from and how the content has a unique personality that affects how you would describe the brand.

For example, take a look at this tweet from smoothie company Innocent Drinks:

Source: https://twitter.com/innocent

Even if you’d never heard of the company before, you’d probably start forming an impression of their company culture just from seeing this small piece of content.

Some things that spring to mind include:

  • Young and fun
  • Friendly
  • Caring about the environment

A quick look at the Innocent Drinks page shows that this first impression aligns pretty closely with the brand’s stated values.

Source: https://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/us/careers/what-we-re-about

How about another example?

Social media automation tool Buffer actually dedicates a whole section of its blog to the importance of “open” culture.

You can see that Buffer values transparency, sustainability, and work-life balance from their blog articles on subjects including calculating the carbon footprint of remote work, moving to a four-day workweek, and why their transparent email policy stopped working.

Buffer is a brand that really understands the importance of content marketing and makes the effort to ensure that all content reflects its core values:

  • Default to transparency
  • Cultivate positivity
  • Show gratitude
  • Practice reflection
  • Improve consistently
  • Act beyond yourself

Does Your Content Promote Your Company Culture?

Take a look through some of your existing content online with fresh eyes. Does it really reflect your brand and values? If your content was all someone had to go on, would they have an accurate picture of what it might be like to work for your company?

Some brands naturally do a great job of creating values-focused content. The ones that do succeed not only because they have a talented team of marketers and content creators working for them, but also because they have a clear idea of the company culture they want to cultivate and promote.

So if you don’t yet have a clear handle on how to describe your company culture, or you’re waiting for it to develop organically, you must focus on building a positive culture first.

Source: https://studyonline.rmit.edu.au/blog/positive-workplace-culture

Your people are one of the cornerstones of your company culture so make sure they’re involved. Getting together to officially nail down your brand values or mission statement can be a great starting point for an official company culture to flourish.

But when it comes to brand culture, actions matter more than words. There’s no point in claiming you have an open and honest culture and care about the environment if this isn’t true.

Developing your true company culture will take some time, but it can be helped along by working with people who share your values.

Hiring the right people is essential, of course. But marketing to the right audience is equally as important. If you can create content that attracts an audience that shares your brand values, you’ll be well on the way to success.

Creating Content Around Your Culture

Once you’ve put the hard work into building a great brand culture, you can use your content to show off what a great company you are.

If you’ve come up with a list of official brand values, this can be a great way to get started with your content plan, as you can make sure any new content you create falls into one of these “buckets”.

Make sure to take advantage of content to tell the story of your brand. When working through your content strategy, it’s natural to want to make sure that each piece of content is fulfilling a specific purpose and aligning with the customer journey.

But not all content has to or should funnel a potential customer toward a sale. Your content should also work to build your brand slowly but consistently with each piece you produce.

Great authors don’t have to work to market their books. People eagerly anticipate them and buy them automatically because they know they like their style and subjects.

If you approach your marketing content in the same way romance novelists tackle their books, you’re sure to be well on the road to building a dedicated audience that is interested in what you have to say.

Source: https://www.columnfivemedia.com/culture-marketing-101-how-to-turn-your-brands-culture-into-content/culture-marketing-101-ideation

Activating your employees to create their own content is another fail-safe way of creating authentic, engaging content.

Nobody knows your company and its culture better than your employees. Utilizing their knowledge, expertise, and passion is often the most effective way to tell the world about your company culture.

At the very least, make sure your employees are involved in your content process, whether that’s by brainstorming ideas for content topics or sharing your content on their own social media accounts.

Ready to Tell the Story of Your Brand Culture?

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today–and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

25 B2B Lead Generation Strategies That Deliver Marketing ROI

By Michael Brenner on December 8, 2020

The beginning of the final quarter of the year always signals a re-evaluation of old strategies and the hunt for newer ones to stay competitive in your industry.

Driven by a host of emerging technologies and an influx of new insights, b2b buyer behavior continues to evolve at breakneck speeds. Understandably, B2B marketers are hard-pressed to recalibrate their lead generation strategies in this ever-shifting landscape.

The explosion of content addressing consumer concerns at every step of the buyer’s journey has developed increasingly educated consumers. Additionally, advancing technology has heightened consumer expectations for customer experience.

In fact, a study by Walker Information, projected that customer experience has surpassed price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Some B2B brands are getting better at converting their prospects while others are stuck in their old ways, perhaps unsure how to spice things up.

But 61% percent of businesses say that lead generation is their biggest marketing challenge.

There are many free lead capturing tactics out there, but few will help you maximize your ROI. Here are effective B2B lead generation strategies that will play up your game.

1. Create High-Quality, Evergreen Content

Content is the currency of the web nowadays, so you should regularly publish content. This not only helps your credibility as an expert, but it also increases your reach and exposure. But don’t create content for content’s sake. You want your content to provide value to your audience, not just sit there and make your brand look pretty.

When you publish valuable content that informs, educates, and entertains your target audience, you earn their loyalty. It’s easier to convert leads once you’ve gained their trust.

Also important is the frequency of your publishing. Publishing quality blog posts more often shows your target audience your commitment to go to great lengths to provide them with valuable content that addresses their concerns.

According to a study by Hubspot, companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month generate 4.5 times more leads than those who publish only 0-4 posts per month. The study further revealed that 47% of B2B buyers rely on content for research and making purchasing decisions.

More significantly, B2B buyers consume at least three to five pieces of related content before contacting a sales person. Leverage this information by producing more content more frequently so you can cater to your audience’s information demands.

Lastly, while moment marketing is a great way to stay relevant or go viral for a certain duration, coming up with evergreen topics in your niche is a sure way to get noticed no matter what stage your potential clients are in the sales funnel.

Evergreen content works hand in hand with your SEO strategy, allowing you to stay fresh on search engines. Evergreen content is helpful, informative, and shareable—all the things people love about high-quality content. Plus, it never goes out of style.

2. Gate Your Content Strategically

Not every marketer is confident whether or not they should gate their content. However, this is still one of the most effective ways to attract and identify leads who care about your business.

When done right, gated content can increase leads and conversions. Case in point: Finance and trade website Trading Strategy Guides added almost 11,000 targeted subscribers to their email list in just one month by using a content locking script. Unbounce’s gated content stats reveal more campaigns with conversion rates that fall between 19-45%.

Putting out gated content is wise if you’ve already built a library of content that you are sure your audience is enjoying. This way, loyal readers won’t be apprehensive in giving you their names and email addresses to read what you wrote.

3. Offer Content in Exchange for Email or Personal Information

Make use of content offers that require contact details for users to access them. This will help you to quickly grow your contact list and kick-off the lead generation process. Provide various resources such as eBooks, guides, whitepapers, checklists, tutorials, tools and anything else you can produce that gives value to your audience members.

Other opt-in offers like newsletters and webinars should also be utilized if possible. Whatever you choose to produce, make sure that it’s actually useful in the form of education, problem solving or entertainment.

You’re going to need to use forms if you want to capture your visitors’ contact information. The best practice is to minimize the number of required fields and only ask for the information that your sales team really needs.

If your form is too demanding, you’ll be scaring off potential leads on a regular basis.

4. Personalize More Touch Points

One-size-fits-all marketing is dead. Users are now craving for that human touch that allows them to cultivate deeper connection and more meaningful relationships with brands.

In a SalesForce survey of 7,000 consumers, 57% of the respondents said they are willing to share their data in exchange for personalized offers, 53% for personalized product recommendations, and 52% for customized shopping experiences.

So personalize your content marketing efforts. No need to use first names or stalk people across the web. But use your audience’s content consumption behavior to present personalized content.

5. Personalize Social Media Interactions & Build Communities

Social media is no longer just an extra channel of publishing or promoting your content. Social media is good for business.

This is your chance to engage with your audience. The average person has 7.6 active social media accounts and spends more than 2 hours a day on them. Take advantage of this.

Be active and consistent across the platforms you choose to operate on. It’s recommended that you choose at least 3 or 4 different social media channels to promote your brand. The ones you choose should depend on who your target market is and where they tend to hang out.

You can start a Facebook group where you can have regular discussions on pressing issues relevant in your industry. Use hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to connect with like-minded individuals or specific causes or topics.

LinkedIn Marketing is so important as this social network is clearly the leading platform to communicate with B2B prospects and tell them more about your brand. It has impressive traction as a B2B lead generation network. In fact, more than 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn—a tell-tale sign that CXOs need to expand their social media.

With every other marketer reaching out on social media channels, merely connecting to prospective customers is not enough. To reinforce the “humans” behind your brand, be sure to send personalized connection requests and messages to cut through the noise of spam and irrelevant marketing. Best results come from being an active member of your community.

6. Optimize Your Landing Pages and CTA

Did you know that a lot of landing pages contain more than one offer? If yours falls into this category, it’s time to rethink your lead conversion strategy. Marketing Experiments found that multiple offers in one page can decrease conversion rates by up to 266%.

Optimizing your landing pages for lead generation means addressing SEO best practices, focusing your content on the value of your offering, optimizing your signup form for engagement and implementing a customer testimonial campaign.

These strategies will make your offer more compelling to your visitors and increase the likelihood of conversions. 

Focus on a single goal for each landing page and be clear with your messaging in your Call-To-Action (CTA) to reduce distractions. Your primary goal is to convert your visitors into leads, so make sure your landing pages and CTAs are convincing. Make it an engaging, straightforward, and natural experience for them to type in their information on your forms.

Your CTA buttons can make a big difference as to whether or not someone clicks through to your landing page. Make sure you have the right colors, shapes, sizes, positioning and any other attribute that affects how users see your buttons. A/B test your CTA buttons to determine which combinations work best to improve your conversion rates.

7. Record the Actions of Your Website Visitors

An excellent way to diagnose why your website visitors aren’t converting is through analyzing their actions on your website. Tools like Hotjar or Mouseflow can allow you to record user sessions and plot heatmaps on most-clicked buttons on your site.

Many Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) experts swear by this step and maintain that it’s one of the fastest ways you can uncover the “whys” in your process:

  • Why are they not converting?
  • Why are they not filling up my forms?
  • Why do they like this webpage so much?

From here, you can rectify a situation or apply more of the same strategy to your other pages. This is helpful for A/B testing as well.

8. Encourage Online Reviews

A study by RevLocal found that 92% of consumers read online reviews when considering a product or service.

If your website doesn’t have a testimonials page or a reviews feature, it could be hurting your chances to get contacted. Create opportunities for your clients and customers to add a review and post it on your website.

Reviews build consumer trust, improve your local search ranking, and ultimately improve conversions. The RevLocal study also found that consumers are likely to spend 31% more on businesses with stellar reviews.

9. Expand Your Online Presence

The persona of your brand is not limited to your website and social channels only.

Branch out and appear on other sites to grow your credibility, such as guest blogging, getting interviewed, or answering questions on Quora.com or other industry-specific Q&A sites or forums.

This is a great way to build authority for your personal brand and put your business name in front of those seeking relevant solutions to their problems.

Quora alone can help you gain thousands of leads if you answer the relevant questions in your industry. Developing your brand as a thought leader can increase brand awareness and also help first-time learners about your brand build trust faster.

10. Use Gmail Ads to Target Your Competitors’ Audience

Email is still the most popular lead generation channel—77% of B2B marketers use email marketing to drive leads, according to SuperOffice’s State of B2B Email Marketing report.

In B2B, there is a lot of value at drawing the attention of your competition’s customers. Gmail ads allow you to target your Google Ads campaign to people who have received emails from your competitor. Sounds sneaky? It is, but it’s effective. It gives you direct access to people who are already familiar with the nature of your service.

Use this opportunity to show what sets you apart from the competitor. Use familiar language, optimize your email marketing layout, and give them an offer they can’t refuse.

11. Ramp Up Your Video Marketing

Video marketing presents a promising opportunity to reach your target audience. More than 75% of Fortune 500 executives view video content regularly and around two-thirds of that number visit the vendor’s website, as per a Forbes study titled Video In The C-Suite. So, it’s safe to say that video is a highly-effective way to attract leads.

Indeed, video content has been known to be a major driver in purchasing behavior. Animoto’s State of Social Video study found that 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social video content. What’s more, a video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more, according to data from Adelie Studios.

HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report also found that 48% of marketers are already planning to include YouTube in their content strategy in the coming years. Don’t lag behind the competition. Get your camera rolling!

12. Automate Social Media Sharing

Give your digital footprint a boost by promoting your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social platform used by your target market.

However, most marketers have too much on their plates to prioritize social networking. Thankfully, there are numerous tools and apps for automating social media or scheduling posts, shares, likes, tweets, and any other social engagement you can think of.

I use Hootsuite, but Sprout Social and Buffer are also highly recommended by marketers, as they not only automate sharing but also provide analytics to make sure that you’re sharing content optimally.

13. Attend Offline Events

It’s not enough to just be visible online. Your clients see you on the web, but do they physically see your brand anywhere else?

Attending offline events such as digital marketing conferences and trade shows can help you generate leads from other areas of interest.

Some businesses, especially the older and larger companies, do not rely on the web for networking with partners and customers. They like putting a face on the name, and they want someone they can trust.

14. Optimize Your Website for Mobile

B2B online queries are noticeably shifting from personal computers to smartphones. Indeed, Google’s research confirms that 50% of B2B queries are made on mobile phones.

This number is expected to reach 70% by 2020 as we take into account the entry of more B2B employees from the “digital generation” (Millennials and Gen Z), and the increasing use of smartphones by older generations.

Additionally, a recent BGC report on B2B buyers’ usage reveals that 60% B2B buyers admit that mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase. Specifically, mobile can accelerate time to purchase by 20% by increasing efficiency in decision making and enhancing team collaboration. BGC further reports that 42% of the average share of total revenues are contributed and influenced by mobile.

The questions you need to be asking yourself are:

  • Is AMP implemented on my website?
  • Are all my web pages responsive? Do they pass the Google Mobile-Friendly test?
  • Is the content of my website optimized for mobile-first indexing?
  • Am I maximizing engagement with micro-interactions?

Optimizing your website for smartphones is not only beneficial to your B2B marketing goals but also help your buyers make business decisions efficiently. You need to factor mobile into an omnichannel customer journey and finding new and improved ways to reach and engage your audience.

15. Turn Up Your Retargeting

Prospects usually browse several websites and comb through dozens of articles to guide their purchase decisions. Only 2% of buyers make a purchase on the first visit. Retargeting aims to reel back the 98% and give them a nudge towards your brand.

Retargeting is still underutilized by B2B marketers, but it is catching on. About 70% of marketers allocate 10% or more of their budgets to retargeting. So, if you haven’t already, start retargeting your website visitors now and increase the chances that they choose your brand over your competitors by 70%.

You might consider putting up ads that show varieties of content (soft sell vs. hard sell). Prospects who aren’t ready to make a purchase might be convinced to buy if your brand is continually visible to them.

16. Maximize Marketing Automation

Marketing automation tools are the marriage of email marketing tools and CRM. Marketing automation software connects with your CRM to automatically send highly targeted and personalized marketing emails to leads. This tactic ensures that you put relevant and timely content in front of the right prospects.

Thomson Reuters testifies that their revenue increased by 172% when they adopted a marketing automation solution. Nearly a third of marketers attest that email is their most effective lead generation tactic. In itself, email marketing is already acing it, and it has been for quite some time.

Integrate the functionalities of CRM, and you’ll see why B2B marketers rank marketing automation as one of the best ways to generate better and more qualified leads.

17. Engage Prospects with AI Chat Bots

Chatbots are artificially intelligent messaging-based bots that can autonomously engage your website visitors and automate business transactions. AI processes text or speech input by your prospect or customer and sends an appropriate response.

Adopting chatbots sends a strong message to your prospects such that you want them to have a seamless interaction. Additionally, integrating AI into your lead generation strategy creates new avenues for process efficiency and optimization. Minimizing your dependency on human customer support and lead generation will also inherently reduce operational costs.

18. A/B Test Your Paid Campaigns

A/B testing with paid campaigns makes sure that you’re employing strategies and channeling money into what works. The beauty of A/B testing is its ability to quantify the value of each strategic tweak to your lead generation campaign, so you know exactly how well each experiment performs.

You don’t want to cast your net blindly, so keep testing new strategies and ideas to figure out which you need to stop, and more importantly, which you need to scale.

19. Harness the Power of Micro-Influencers

Influencer marketing is as strong as ever, but in 2018, we’re seeing a shift towards brands making use of lesser-known influencers (people with authority in smaller niches). These guys might have fewer followers, but their relative level of influence remains the same.

The industry is getting saturated, and major influencers are getting bombarded with requests. Not only does this make popular influencers very expensive, it also makes them extremely picky about who they work with.

The best solution to this is for brands to leverage micro-influencers. These micro-influencers are relatively untapped despite their huge potential for reaching new audiences effectively. What’s more, they tend to cost less and aren’t sick and tired of unsolicited approaches from other brands.

20. Analyze Your Data

Improve your market research, data gathering methods, and analytics to determine who your ideal audience is, where your prospects are coming from, which channel is generating the most leads, and which leads are more likely to convert into sales.

Data analytics can also help you determine behavioral changes in your buyer personas so you can adjust your drip strategies accordingly. Analyze constantly! Metrics and numbers don’t lie. Identify significant trends and learn from them.

At a minimum, you should be collecting data using Google Analytics, but if you’ve got the resources, it’s worth investing in a CRM tool that fits your specific needs.

21. Profile Your Target Audience

User behavior evolves just as quickly as innovations in technology. It’s important to study your target audience and create effective buyer personas to better understand users’ pain points, challenges, goals, and buying behavior.

If last year, you were able to provide their needs and wants, then maybe this year you can focus on another challenge they may be facing.

Think about something you can address with an innovative product or content offer. Remember that your buyer persona will shape your content marketing strategy and that this is where it all begins.

22. Work Closely with Your Sales Team

Your sales personnel are the ones who interact with your clients, so it’s important to get their qualitative feedback so you can combine it with your quantitative data.

You can also get a clearer picture of who your buyer persona is from your sales team.

Sales and marketing have always worked hand in hand to achieve the best results. Proper sales and marketing alignment usually results in higher conversion rates, better performance from both departments, and a more functional working environment altogether.

23. Stay on Top of Google

Is your website on the first page of Google? More than 90% of users don’t go beyond the first page of SERPs. This is why the first page is a much-coveted spot. SEO today is all about relevance and authority, and that’s how you should address your brand’s online assets.

Also keep in mind that ranking well isn’t just about the traffic. Getting your business on that first page also says a lot about your company, as it establishes you as an authority in your niche.

24. Launch Incentive-Based Referral Programs

Don’t take word-of-mouth marketing for granted—it’s still the primary factor behind almost 50% of buying decisions. More stats show that B2B companies with referrals reportedly have 70% higher conversion rates and a similar faster close time on sales.

Your satisfied clients are the best people who can market your business to others. Incentivize referrals! Make it more exciting for them by creating customized referral codes that entitle them to discounts. This also makes it easier for you to track where your leads are coming from, and which are converting.

25. Integrate Your Marketing Campaigns

Experiment with different strategies. Unify and integrate your tactics across multiple lead generation channels.

A single voice that resonates shows your audience a solid brand personality. This is imperative in B2B lead generation to show users and businesses that your company is reliable and that your brand is here to stay.

Essential Questions You Need to Answer Before You Start Lead Generation

You’d think that most companies have figured out the best ways to collect prospect data. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. In reality, designing the actual lead generation strategy is still a challenge, as 42% of 845 companies admitted having difficulty in planning a tactic for generating leads according to a survey by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association and Rain Group.

The good news is that plotting your strategy for lead generation is as easy as asking the what, who, where, when, and why of the sales and marketing processes. These questions should be set forth and answered carefully before planning a successful lead generation strategy. Your answers can be used not only as benchmarks for when you move forward, but also to avoid common mistakes, make better, informed decisions, and show where you need improvement in the planning, as well as with the process itself.

What do your potential customers want?

Assuming that you already know who your targets are (as you should, by now), the next thing to find out is their needs. Ask what their goals and pain points are to fully understand what value to deliver and how to tailor your message when communicating with them. This means doing industry research, surveying consumers, consolidating information, and trying to make sense of the data.

What can your business deliver?

Develop a unique selling proposition (USP) about your business and make sure that the entire organization aligns with and understands it. The USP informs your target market why they should buy or get your product or service and what makes you different compared to the competitors—what can you promise and deliver to potential customers and what is your value proposition? The message should be communicated right from the start of the buyer’s journey, as it will make your business stand out.

Who is your lead?

You cannot generate a lead without knowing your business’ definition of “lead.” Make sure that all the teams involved in the process (especially the Sales and Marketing departments) agree on who the company is trying to get. Aside from having a definite explanation of your target lead, this step can also help in Sales and Marketing alignment.

How do you reach your leads?

Find out which channels to use to communicate with your leads by learning which websites they usually go to, the frequency of visits, and how they search for information. Once answered, you can utilize strategies like content marketing, paid advertising, sponsorship, and affiliate programs targeted at your prospects. From this data, you can then set up surveys, social media monitoring, interviews with current customers, A/B testing, and a lot more to gather information on or drive your leads.

At what point in the sales process do you want to generate leads?

Every step of the sales process can generate leads, albeit not of the same quality. Therefore, the approach should differ at each point. For example, someone who’s in the early stages is still learning about their problem and will probably need more nurturing. However, the same technique will not work if the person is already ready to buy. Know the stages of your sales funnel inside out, and you’ll be able to zero-in on potential bottlenecks so that you can maximize conversion rates.

What do you do with the lead?

Leads should be directed to the Sales team for the final step (closing), but then, some of them may need to be directed to Marketing for nurturing, as they may not be ready to make the purchase yet. Lead nurturing is the process of directing leads along the funnel to prepare them for the last part of the buyer’s journey by informing them why they should buy from the business. It’s essential to come up with an effective nurturing process and stick with it.

When do leads become prospects?

To establish if a lead is ready for purchase, your company should first have a method for lead scoring. In lead scoring, a lead can either be a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). An SQL is a lead for a person in the Sales team to reach out to, while an MLQ is one that is for Marketing, as further nurturing is needed. There are key indicators needed to determine the score of a lead. Metrics for these indicators can be set through a Service-Level-Agreement (SLA) between the teams.

Where are you going to distribute your content?

Any content that earns you a place in customers’ minds as a trustworthy source is worth creating. And you can choose to deliver this content via blog posts, videos, images, infographics, webinars, whitepapers, ebooks, and the like. Depending on the type of content you create you can learn which distribution channel should be used—websites, blogs, social media accounts, and email are all great options. You can even leverage gated or exclusive content to collect key information from your prospects in exchange for giving them access to your content.

What do you want customers to do after they purchase?

Interaction with a lead or customer shouldn’t end after the purchase. After all, satisfied customers can be utilized to gain even more leads and prospects, as they help you put lead generation strategies in the context of the customer journey. Customers can be beneficial in gaining good publicity, especially in this era of social media.

How will you track your progress?

Nowadays, there is no better way to track your lead generation progress than through CRM software. It’s reached the point where if you don’t have an effective customer management tool, you’re planning to fail. With the right CRM software, you can quickly and accurately track the status and success of leads based on the goals and metrics set. In addition to behavioral data, these tools can help store and manage contact data, which can help in your lead qualification process.

Raring to Generate More Leads?

A growing business means a profitable business. However, profitability is only possible when the right customers purchase your products and services. It’s far from impossible, but acquiring both clients and prospects is a process that needs to be taken seriously.

Nailing your lead generation strategies is the foundation of all your other moves along the sales cycle. Be smart and creative in getting your visitors to engage and convert.

A Roadmap for B2B SMBs to Achieve Digital Transformation

By Michael Brenner on December 8, 2020

Is digital transformation just a buzzword? Does it seem unattainable for your small business? SMB business owners are wrestling with these questions and seeking clarity.

B2B SMBs can achieve digital transformation; it takes work, commitment, and the right strategy.

To help you get started or keep progressing, we’ve designed a roadmap for B2B SMB digital transformation.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Digital transformation is a necessity to stay competitive and meet customer needs.
  • SMBs understand the value of digital transformation and are accelerating efforts, yet still struggling with challenges.
  • B2B SMBs can achieve digital transformation with minimal friction by adopting the right technology, committing to digital marketing, empowering employees, and delivering optimal experiences for customers.

SMBs and Digital Transformation: What Leaders Are Doing and Saying

recent survey of 3600 SMBs found that 51% are accelerating digital transformation investments and priority. They also noted that the pandemic amplified this. The push to become more digital has value, and they know it.

The main drivers behind this rush to adopt include reducing costs, inspiring innovation, improving operations, boosting business growth, and improving productivity (see chart below):

Image: Techaisle

Digital Transformation Is Critical to Staying Competitive and Meeting Customer Needs

Why do B2B businesses need to change? The pandemic delivered both disruption and opportunity. People shop for services and products differently, even in the B2B realm. eCommerce is fast becoming a necessity for B2B, as Forrester predicts it will hit $1.8 trillion in the U.S. by 2023, accounting for 17% of sales.

Outside of the pandemic making it obligatory, B2B buyers are changing in other ways. Currently, around 73% of those making B2B buying decisions are millennials. They are digital natives that want easy, convenient ways to purchase.

The typical B2B buyer performs approximately 12 online searches as research, according to Google. They also seek out content, consuming up to 13 pieces before purchase. This consists of vendor and third-party content.

Image: FocusVision

Meeting your customer where they are now requires robust digital channels. You need to attract their attention with content marketing efforts that demonstrate solutions, expertise, and thought leadership. Your content also needs to rank well to get found in those searches, which requires an investment in organic SEO.

Further, when a customer arrives at your website, it needs to be easy to navigate and find answers. You also need either an eCommerce framework to sell physical products or a self-guided experience for users so they can purchase your app or service.

The good news is that these outcomes are not out of reach for B2B SMBs. There are specific strategies to implement that will accelerate or strengthen your digital transformation.

The Roadmap to Digital Transformation: Directions Ahead!

Now, it’s time to talk about the roadmap and the four pillars noted above.

Leveraging the Right Technology

Digital transformation cannot occur without technology. When considering the technology that enables digital transformation, there is no perfect stack. It should support the next three discussion areas: digital marketing, employee needs, and customer experiences.

A word of advice is to minimize the number of platforms you use. This gets complicated and expensive fast. Look at how one to two platforms can deliver what you need, such as:

  • Unified communications (UC) for employees: This type of platform brings communications and collaboration together—voice, video, instant messaging, file sharing, and more.
  • Marketing platforms that combine web, email, social, metrics, and workflows in one intuitive app.
  • eCommerce systems that deliver personalized recommendations, make checkout easy and secure, and gather data on customer behaviors.

Investing in Digital Marketing

Many B2B SMBs use digital marketing to generate traffic and leads. However, they also traditionally spend a substantial amount on event marketing and sales travel. Those dollars are now available for other uses. Using them to invest in key areas of digital marketing will help audiences find and buy from you.

Here’s where you can put those dollars to reach digital transformation:

  • MarTech tools as discussed above.
  • Improving your digital channels, including adding eCommerce functionality or revamping your website. Website updates could involve virtual product tours, targeted personalization by visitor, and adding chatbots to answer questions fast.
  • Content marketing: An investment in content marketing improves your organic ranking, which leads to more website traffic. Without buyers finding you online, you can’t sustain a digital ecosystem.
  • Data science and advanced technology: If you want to master digital channels, you need to rely on things like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML produce insights via data science, either autonomously or by actual data scientists. This valuable data can help you forecast and market better.

Putting budget dollars in these areas can lead to business growth and greater profitability. Spend wisely based on your digital transformation goals.

Empowering Your Team

The next component of digital transformation is supporting your employees. For this process, the goal is to improve team productivity and agility. You’re asking them to adapt at record speed. COVID-19 likely accelerated many initiatives here. To ensure your team succeeds through this change, you must empower them.

There are two ways to do this. First, they need the right technology stack to communicate and collaborate, as well as to manage processes, grow, and scale. They won’t be able to reach the goals you set with disparate legacy systems.

Second, team members need to be part of the conversation. Cultural change is top-down, but it never works unless everyone’s on the same page. Openly communicate to your staff about the why, how, and what of digital transformation. It will provide them insight and offers transparency, which employees appreciate.

The New Customer Experience

B2B buyers aren’t new to the digital experience with brands. However, now you need to leverage digital tools to create experiences you can’t have face-to-face anymore. Bridging the gap here could produce some amazing innovations.

For example, you could host virtual events with your thought leaders, customers, or others in the field. You could also employ virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) as a sales tool (check out the video below). Other smaller-scale options include video chats or adding new features to your app (if applicable) that resolve unique challenges.

B2B SMBs Digital Transformation: Time to Keep Progressing

Digital transformation isn’t a process that ever ends. New technology, market factors, and customer needs will keep reshaping the concept. Your focus should be on having intuitive tools, investing in digital marketing, supporting employees, and delivering exceptional customer experiences in the current environment.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

Content Marketing Analysis: How to Win The CRM SaaS Market

By Michael Brenner on December 7, 2020

Content Marketing Analysis for CRM SaaS Companies

Managing customer relationships has always been super important to the success of a business.

For many product and service companies, it is an evolution. It starts with defining product-market fit. Then we have to hire and scale sales and marketing pipeline to acquire new customers. And it culminates in servicing and retaining existing customers to maximize profit.

For nearly 40 years, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been software-based and data-driven. Companies have embarked on a content-based B2B digital marketing strategy in order to find, win, and retain new clients.

By using data, tools, and research, we’re going to conduct a content marketing analysis of various business software segments. We started this series of content marketing analyses with Master Data Management. Now we’re bringing it closer to our sales and marketing roots with a look into the content marketing performance of the top CRM platforms.

We’ve helped companies build a content marketing strategy in just about every industry there is. We provide simple content roadmaps. When clients follow the guidelines presented, amazing results follow.

Stick around to learn more about how the key players in the CRM game are able to attract visitors to their website using content marketing. (And if you want an analysis like this for your industry, let me know!)

What is CRM and Why Is It Important?

I remember using ACT! software to manage my contacts way back in 1994 when I started in sales. For me it was mainly a data management tool.

Today, SaaS-based CRM platforms manage both the people involved as well as many of the tasks surrounding customer data, campaigns, lead states, pipeline value, and contract stages.

If you have any processes for sales, marketing, business development or customer service, then you likely use one of the CRM platforms.

An effective CRM tool provides real-time data, trustworthy reporting, enhanced automation, and overall increased productivity.

Simply put, the market potential is huge. And the landscape is crowded. Here is a snapshot from Scott Brinker’s martech landscape 2020 displaying just the all the CRM software companies.

Ahh Competition: Why CRM Companies Focus on Content Marketing?

The above image makes it clear. CRM software is one of the oldest and most competitive martech segments there is.

Lead nurturing, sales, marketing, support and service, all play a role in CRM. Messaging and engaging customers at every touchpoint along their customer journey is paramount today. Mapping content to each stage of the funnel is the right way to do it. This works even when the funnel is inverted (ABM).

All you have to do is look at Salesforce.com, arguably the first successful SaaS tool. Despite being a market leader, Salesforce has been one of my favorite examples of effective content marketing for years because they answer basic buyer questions with consistent and helpful content.

Salesforce has owned the #1 ranking for “what is CRM software” for more than 20 years:

Customer relationship management is any tool, strategy, or process that helps businesses better organize and access customer data.

And they created one of the most successful infographics in martech to explain what CRM is.

Why This Report Is Useful to All CRM Companies

This report can help CRM companies better understand their own competitive advantages in the market, and what the winners are doing differently.

By the end of the report, our goal is for each CRM company to understand their stance in the industry and what they could do to improve their awareness, search rankings, website traffic, and leads derived from their website.

New and smaller entrants to a saturated market can in fact build competitive advantage with these strategies. As we’ve proven time and time again, no company is too small or too new to become a destination of insights in their industry.

The bottom line is that B2B buyers get most of their information from searching online. And this trend has accelerated since the pandemic. This makes content marketing an instrumental part in reaching, engaging, and converting those buyers.

Methodology

Here’s how we approached our content marketing analysis for the CRM software segment:

  1. Identified top companies based on software reviews and analyst reports
  2. Chose major players whose strategy is clear and easy to understand
  3. Checked the performance of their websites against key metrics to gauge search visibility

Introducing the Top- CRM Software Companies

Here are the  top CRM software companies and how they describe themselves on their websites:

  1. Salesforce – Salesforce is the world’s #1 customer relationship management (CRM) platform. We help your marketing, sales, commerce, service and IT teams work as one from anywhere — so you can keep your customers happy everywhere.
  2. HubSpot – HubSpot offers a complete CRM platform with all the tools and integrations you need to grow better — whether you want to increase leads, accelerate sales, streamline customer service, or build a powerful website.
  3. Zoho – Zoho CRM empowers a global network of over 150,000 businesses in 180 countries to convert more leads, engage with customers, and grow their revenue.
  4. Zendesk – Zendesk makes support, sales, and customer engagement software for everyone. It’s quick to implement, easy to use, and scales to fit your needs.
  5. Freshworks – With Freshworks CRM, discover the best leads, boost customer engagement, drive deals to closure, and nurture existing customers with a smart, comprehensive solution.
  6. Pipedrive – When you need to stay laser-focused on the right deals, Pipedrive is here to support you.
  7. Nimble – Skip the set-up. Nimble is the only CRM that builds itself for you.
  8. Less Annoying CRM – A simple CRM built just for small businesses to track leads and stay on top of follow-ups
  9. SugarCRM – SugarCRM empowers your marketing, sales and services teams to collaborate across the entire customer lifecycle for more meaningful, memorable experiences.
  10. Monday.com – One platform. Better Teamwork. Highly effective teams choose monday.com to manage their work.
  11. ActiveCampaign – ActiveCampaign gives you the email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM tools you need to create incredible customer experiences.
  12. Keap – Wish you had eight arms? Us too. Keap’s CRM and sales and marketing tools help you get more done with less work so you can grow your business.
  13. Insightly – The Unified CRM Platform – Align Marketing, Sales, and Project teams around one view of your customers.
  14. LeadSquared – Get higher efficiency out of your call center, feet-on-street, digital sales and merchant operations
  15. Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Meet today’s challenges by bringing your customers and business together with the next generation of CRM and ERP applications.
  16. Nutshell – The CRM that just works – Choose the sales model that best fits your business and see how we help teams like yours close more deals.

Overall Domain Authority and Organic Traffic

When we look at overall domain authority, traffic and backlinks, Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho and Zendesk take the lead.

The one key differentiator is their paid budgets: $1.8M, $170K, $358, and $823.4K, respectively.

Microsoft Dynamics leads in authority score with a 93, largely due to their consumer software parent.

Nutshell, LeadSquared and Less Annoying CRM come in last, respectively in domain authority and organic traffic.

Site Authority Score Organic Traffic Keywords Backlinks Domains Paid Keywords Paid Costs
salesforce.com 81 8.5M 2.27M 33.9M 151.5K 36.8K $1.8M
HubSpot.com 80 15.8M 4.12M 137.8M 219.4K 1.4K $170K
Zoho.com 77 4.4M 1.16M 22M 126K 342 $358
Zendesk.com 87 9.7M 6.87M 750.9M 265.6K 16.1K $823.4K
Freshworks.com 68 265.2K 155.7K 3.2M 16.1K 9.4K $809.6K
Pipedrive.com 63 477.1K 169.5K 829.5K 10.8K 12.7K $384.1K
Nimble.com 59 85.9k 31.1k 531.6k 5.3K N/A N/A
LessAnnoyingCRM.com 45 15.2K 14.9K 16.3K 1.3K 9 $2.5K
SugarCRM.com 65 93.9K 71.4K 1.2M 15.4K N/A N/A
Monday.com 63 709K 152K 551.7K 12.9K 48K $2.8M
ActiveCampaign.com 68 359.6K 201.7K 2.9M 26.4K 13.2K $763.8K
Keap.com 57 159.1K 102.2K 264.6K 6.5K 651 $87.2K
Insightly.com 60 44.8K 9.5K 166.7K 6K 1.1K $86.9K
LeadSquared.com 53 104K 30K 25.5K 2.3K 150 $4.6K
Dynamics.microsoft.com 93 636.3K 43.7K 434.3K 9.5K 16.2K $448.6K
Nutshell.com 52 79.3K 54.4K 191.7K 2.6K 99 $7.2K

Which CRM Software Companies Lead in Terms of Web Traffic?

In order to measure the value of each visitor, it’s important to understand the differences between each traffic source. Traffic sources can be categorized into direct, email, organic, paid, referral or social.

The average technology website gets 45% of it’s traffic from organic search, 38% from direct traffic (visitors typing the company website name into their browser), 15% from referral traffic (other websites linking to the company) and just 1% from social media.

It’s interesting to note that all but 3 of these leading CRM companies get less than average traffic from organic search on a percentage basis.

In order to acquire new customers, a company must attract new visitors to their website. To determine the success of a company at attracting visitors who don’t already know who they are (direct traffic) without having to for it (paid traffic), we look primarily at organic search while considering referral and social media traffic as well. This is why Content Marketing provides such high ROI.

In the CRM category, Dynamics.Microsoft.com, Nutshell.com, and SugarCRM.com are listed at the top of the organic search traffic chart based on percentage at around 54-57%. Monday.com, Salesforce.com and Leadsquared.com are at the bottom of this list with only around 6-8% of their traffic coming from organic.

There’s multiple factors at work here.

For example, because of their lack of name recognition, organic search, and referral traffic compared to the category leaders Salesforce and Hubspot, Monday appears to be using paid to grow more than any other company:

I would question how sustainable this strategy is?

LeadSquared seems to be relying on word of mouth over organic or paid, with more than 8% of their traffic coming social (more than 5x their peer average.) However, the trend in website traffic from social is decidedly downward.

This is why we focus on delivering gains in organic search. You are attracting relevant visitors to your website while they are looking for education on a problem you solve. The cost per acquisition is lower in organic than in paid (about 10x lower for our clients). And the cost per “effort” is lower for organic vs social or campaigns.

Source: SEMrush

Company Name Other Traffic
Monday.com Direct: (76.83%) Referral: (4.58%) Paid: (5.71%) Social: (6.66%)
Salesforce.com Direct: (35.68%) Referral: (55.86%) Paid: (.25%) Social: (.30%)
LeadSquared.com Direct: (78.38%) Referral: (13.49%) Paid: (.07%) Social: (8.06%)
Pipedrive.com Direct: (84.64%) Referral: (3.36%) Paid: (2.65%) Social: (.23%)
LessAnnoyingCRM.com Direct: (88.18%) Referral: (2.01%) Paid: (.09%) Social: (.16%)
Insightly.com Direct: (67.07%) Referral: (18.63%) Paid: (1.98%) Social: (.11%)
Freshworks.com Direct: (29.98%) Referral: (51.62%) Paid: (3.61%) Social: (.79%)
Zoho.com Direct: (68.31%) Referral: (14.98%) Paid: (.34%) Social: (.46%)
Zendesk.com Direct: (47.64%) Referral: (29.48%) Paid: (.10%) Social: (1.26%)
Keap.com Direct: (55.22%) Referral: (8.82%) Paid: (4.48%) Social: (3.58%)
ActiveCampaign.com Direct: (53.08%) Referral: (12.22%) Paid: (5.58%) Social: (.74%)
Nimble.com Direct: (67.86%) Referral: (3.37%) Paid: (0%) Social: (.15%)
HubSpot.com Direct: (51.85%) Referral: (11.36%) Paid: (0.32%) Social: (.84%)
SugarCRM.com Direct: (21.76%) Referral: (18.35%) Paid: (4.56%) Social: (.57%)
Nutshell.com Direct: (39.70%) Referral: (4.70%) Paid: (0.23%) Social: (0.41%)
Dynamics.microsoft.com Direct: (18.67%) Referral: (20.51%) Paid: (3.77%) Social: (0.37%)

Source: SEMrush

What Are CRM Software Buyers Searching For?

In SEMRush, our team searched each of the key players using the key term “customer relationship management.” These trending subtopics show the most popular subtopics over the last 60 days across the internet.

To break it down further, this demonstrates the current growth potential on these particular subtopics and could be a great trend for your business to follow.

The mind map visualization below shows the keywords and questions these potential customers are using when they search the internet for answers. This could serve as the starting point for an annual content marketing plan.

Any CRM company who answers these questions WILL increase their organic search, rankings for important keywords and attract relevant traffic to their website.

What Are the Most Important Keywords?

Our first move with any new client is identifying the most important keywords in their industry that demonstrate buyer engagement or curiosity.

A keyword analysis also helps us gauge the origin of each company’s search traffic. SEMrush pulls keywords for us that buyers are searching for. Taking some of the CRM software companies in the middle of the pack in terms of organic search traffic, we see that there isn’t as much keyword overlap as you might expect:

This analysis also tells us what the biggest opportunities are for winning the organic search battle. For Pipedrive, for example, “customer lead management” and “sales contact management” are 2 big opportunities. A steady flow of content on these topics could deliver huge gains in organic search traffic and rankings.

We also look at keywords where a brand ranks on the 2nd page but higher than the competition. We also rank these keywords by CPC, assuming this is a proxy for conversion. Following our example for Pipedrive, “software sales CRM,” “sales CRM,” and “pipeline CRM” are big content marketing opportunities.

We also analyze the brand related and non-branded keywords for each brand. Getting 100% of your traffic from brand search means that you are only attracting the people who already know who you are.

In order to grow, you need to attract visitors who have never heard of you! That’s the power of content marketing: to reach, engage, convert, and retain buyers you would have never reached if all you did was talk about yourself.

No matter the rankings of each CRM business, understanding their position in the following keyword research could help each company effectively reach their target audience, increase sales, obtain quality leads, improve ad campaigns, and build brand awareness.

The top 3 companies that have the highest number of non-branded related keywords are Zendesk, HubSpot, and Salesforce. Well done!

The businesses that struggle with attracting visitors from non-branded keywords are Insightly, LessAnnoyingCRM, LeadSquared, Nimble, Microsoft Dynamics, Nutshell and SugarCRM.

These companies would benefit the most from a strategic content marketing program. The rest of the key players lie in the middle and could utilize content marketing to stand out among their competition.

How Many Keywords Are the CRMs Ranking for and What Is It Worth?

As you can see from the graph below, the companies that are driving the most keywords Zendesk, HubSpot, Salesforce, Zoho and ActiveCampaign.

CRM Company Backlink Analysis

Backlinks are extremely valuable for search engine optimization because they represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another. Ultimately, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content.

Good content leads to more backlinks. The more backlinks a site has, the better its site authority, traffic, and rankings are.

The best way to build external links is to earn them through thought leadership, engaging brand storytelling. and original research. We also help our clients build links through guest posting.

Many CRM SaaS tools have links from other blogs to their blog pages / top performing pages. And you can see the correlation between a high number of backlinks, domains, and authority score.

Site # of Total Backlinks # of Referring Domains Authority Score
Zendesk.com 750.9M 265.6K 87
HubSpot.com 137.8M 219.4K 80
Salesforce.com 33.9M 151.5K 81
Zoho.com 22M 126K 77
Freshworks.com 3.2M 16.1K 68
ActiveCampaign.com 2.9M 26.4K 68
SugarCRM.com 1.2M 15.4K 65
Pipedrive.com 829.5K 10.8K 63
Monday.com 551.7K 12.9K 63
Nimble.com 531.6k 5.3K 59
Dynamics.Microsoft.com 434.3K 9.5K 93
Keap.com 264.6K 6.5K 57
Nutshell.com 191.7K 2.6K 52
Insightly.com 166.7K 6K 60
LeadSquared.com 25.5K 2.3K 53
LessAnnoyingCRM.com 16.3K 1.3K 45

CRM Software Company Content Engagement

We used Buzzsumo to determine how often  a sampling of these brands are publishing content and how well that content sees engagement relative to each other.

  1. The average article published received just 11 social engagements. (Marketing Insider Group averages 85)
  2. Only 2 of the CRM software companies we analyzed published “what” and “why” articles which make up a large percentage of the search queries in CRM
  3. There was a steep decline in the content published month to month with very little content published last month

Effective Content Marketing Will Increase Google Rankings

In the CRM segment, content marketing is not just for Google rankings but the entire brand messaging and sales process across all digital channels.

So, you’re a low-performing CRM company in terms of content marketing. What’s next?

We would suggest starting a content marketing program right away. Your goals should be to improve overall rankings in visibility, traffic and engagement by targeting the best keywords, creating content for those keywords, and publishing 1-2 times per week.

Our 7-step content marketing strategy helps you:

  1. Identify your mission, purpose and goals.
  2. Understand your audience.
  3. Establish your content priorities.
  4. Plan your strategy.
  5. Create your content.
  6. Promote your content.
  7. Track and evaluate your content performance.

That sounds like a lot of work right? Why should you consider this?

Because our clients see an average increase of 138% in organic search after the first year and achieve 7x ROI after 6-8 months.

Outsourcing Content Creation

Maybe you don’t have the time, staff to do this, or budget? Our clients spend only $4,000-$8,000 per month. That’s less than the cost of an event sponsorship and much more effective.

Outsourcing content marketing frees you up to focus on your marketing strategy, on finding the best talent, activating your employees, and showing your executive team the amazing ROI we’re delivering for you.

Choosing a Content Marketing Agency

Choosing a content marketing agency can be a tough feat. Companies can claim that they “do” content marketing, but can they prove ROI?

A content marketing agency, at the very least, should:

  • Understand how to attract the right audience
  • Provide lead generation and customer acquisition
  • Map your customer journey to content
  • Focus on building search rankings with content and external links
  • Provide basic content promotion services and guaranteed traffic
  • Report progress based on pre-decided metrics and KPIs

Of course, we offer all these things and best of all, we love to help our clients measure the success.

So what do you say? Let us help you develop a successful content marketing strategy for your business. Contact us today!

How Empathetic Storytelling Drives Success

By Michael Brenner on December 7, 2020

In 2004, a Carnegie Mellon University study looked at the impact of empathetic storytelling. They studied participants who received two different kinds of donation requests from the well-known nonprofit Save the Children, an organization that aims to promote all children’s rights and provide support around the globe to uphold them.

The first request used a number-heavy approach: “Donate $25 and feed a child for a month. Just under a dollar a day will feed this starving child.” The second took a more narrative, storytelling approach where they profiled the children and told the story of their suffering. The participants who were told the personal story gave more than double the amount of those who read the number-heavy request.

I’m certainly not surprised by the study’s outcome. Research has shown that empathy affects our thinking and stories about real people that make us actually “feel” are the best way to motivate us into action.

how storytelling affects the brain

In Mean People Suck, I take this concept a step farther and explore the ways empathetic storytelling can actually transform our personal and professional lives.

What Makes Storytelling So Effective?

According to Vanessa Boris in Harvard Business Review, effective storytelling forges bonds between the listeners based on shared ideas. Those shared ideas create the bonds that define our culture, our values, and our shared history. Numbers may provide the most accurate insights, but sobering statistics and percentages aren’t always the best way to show us what’s at stake. It’s human nature to feel for others.

business storytelling
Source: https://www.thethinkingbusiness.com/

Stories Increase the Value of Your Products, Services and Brand

Perhaps one of the best stories I’ve heard about how storytelling can increase value is that of two reporters, The Washington Post’s Rob Walker and The New York Times’ Joshua Glenn. They considered themselves storytellers who believed in the power of stories to create quantifiable value through empathy. They wanted to test their hypothesis, so they came up with this idea called the “Significant Objects Project.” They theorized that sincere stories were such a driver of emotional connection that their impact could be measured objectively.

They started by buying 100 useless trinkets at garage sales and online, all for a few dollars each. They then turned to their colleagues and a community of writers to provide a backstory for each object. Those writers included bestselling authors, Pulitzer Prize winners, journalists, and mommy bloggers; and they were each asked to write one story about one of the objects.

Source: SignificantObjects.com

One writer penned a fictional letter by a woman named Susan about a globe paperweight that Rob and Joshua had purchased for $1.49. In four pages, “Susan” told an elaborate tale of love lost, amazing sex, travel, regret, loneliness, and questions of self-worth. When the letter was attached to that item, the $1.49 globe paperweight sold for $198. That’s a 132,000-percent difference!

Source: SignificantObjects.com

Rob and Joshua had spent $129 on 100 items purchased in thrift stores, garage sales, and online. Those items then sold for $3,613 online once the fictional stories were added to the items. The final markup average for those 100 items was about 2,700 percent. The point is that stories have real value.

Styles of Storytelling

There are different approaches to storytelling, but one of the most well-known was created by Joseph Campbell, who studied 200 memorable stories from every culture around the world in his book The Power of Myth (Anchor Doubleday, 1988). He created what is known as “the hero’s journey,” which is the common element in all good stories from the beginning of time. It follows this straightforward pattern.

  • It starts with a reluctant hero (like Luke Skywalker).
  • The hero is called to adventure (to help free Princess Leia).
  • He or she goes on a journey far away from home (another planet!).
  • On the journey, he or she faces a challenge (learning the ways of the Force) or an obstacle (facing Darth Vader and stopping the evil Empire).
  • Our hero overcomes that obstacle (blowing up the Death Star) and transforms (into a Jedi).
  • Thus, the hero’s journey is resolved.

However, my personal favorite when relating storytelling to marketing is Pixar’s variation on Campbell’s hero’s journey. In his book Creativity, Inc., Pixar’s Pixar’s co-founder and former president, Ed Catmull, explains how anyone can scale creativity and achieve the consistent success Pixar did. Ed explains how the hero of his story was his team. Pixar had a completely flat structure and a famous vetting process for their story ideas, where they would bring in 50 employees from throughout the company to talk about story ideas and plot lines. Anyone could contribute to the conversation and say what they thought.

The hero of Ed’s story was his team, and the hero of the team’s story was the audience. The audience was the movie watcher they were trying to reach. In other words, “It’s not about you!” (That’s a famous line from The Incredibles.)

Human Stories Work Best

No matter what industry you work in, Ed’s message is important for us to remember. The truth is, it is never about you. For successful personal and professional relationships, the ability to understand what others are experiencing is critical. This concept is also known as empathy.

A perfect example of a marketing executive who mastered the art of telling human stories their organization is Jill Kouri. I met her when we both served on the board of a business marketing association. When she was promoted to CMO of commercial real estate firm Jones, Lang, and LaSalle (JLL), Jill made it a point to build marketing communications as a strategic function.

Her plan included redefining what marketing meant by building a team of diverse storytellers. In a 2016 interview Jill said, “we are committed to maintaining a culture that unleashes the full potential of all employees. We recognize that diversity is a core component of our business and the right thing to do for our workforce and communities.

The team of writers started by telling human-centric stories about everything we may need to know in commercial real estate. They strived to help their clients achieve their ambitions, and that stemmed from the belief that every accomplishment begins with a unique ambition. In October 2017, they released a new content hub called Ambitious. The hub featured a magazine and website that became a source for the stories they told about their clients. They took case studies and turned them into human interest stories.

They used multiple mediums to layer their content.  After the magazine was released, online videos would be posted on the company website, expanding on those stories. They also wanted to use the platform to tell the company’s own personal story to help people get to know them. The platform quickly generated interest. They printed 3,000 copies of the first issue and 5,000 with the very next issue.

Jill and her team were successful because they never lost sight of the human element. Ultimately, she made her team the hero of the story. Her group of engaged storytellers became a strategic asset to the entire business.

Take the Next Step

The fact is you do not have to be Joseph Campbell, Ed Catmull, or even Jill Kouri to use empathetic storytelling to be successful. You do not even have to be the CEO or even part of the management team. You just have to remember one key element: it is not about you.

So what do you think? Please consider picking up your copy of Mean People Suck today, and get the bonus visual companion guide as well. Or check out our services to help evolve your culture. And I would be thrilled to come present to your team on The Power of Empathy!