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10 Innovative Retail Trends to Watch in 2024

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10 Innovative Retail Trends to Watch in 2024

As always, with a new year comes new trends in the world of retail and ecommerce. In 2023, we saw massive growth in social commerce, influencer marketing, and even advancements in augmented reality shopping experiences. In 2024, we’ll still see those themes as a focus, but with a greater emphasis on AI, omni-channel marketing, experiential marketing, and so much more. 

From technological advancements in the retail industry to surprising new partnerships, here are the top innovative trends in retail to keep an eye on in 2024.
 

1. The Convergence of Physical and Digital Retail

 

As physical and digital retail intertwine, the real challenge lies in making these emerging technologies work together seamlessly. The goal is to avoid siloed experiences and create shopping journeys that seamlessly integrate the best of both worlds. Achieving this cohesion is the key to providing customers with an elevated shopping experience.

How can you leverage this growing trend in 2024? Let’s get into it.

Prioritizing Modern Shopping Methods – To thrive in this convergence, it’s essential to prioritize modern ways of shopping. Mobile checkout, VR/AR integration, and the widespread use of QR codes are top focuses for retailers looking to enhance both the digital and in-store experience. These innovations not only streamline the shopping process but also cater to the tech-savvy preferences of today’s consumers.

Bridging the Gap with Innovative Tools – A prime example of the blend of digital and physical retail is Uniqlo’s virtual fitting tool. This feature allows customers to use their smartphones or manually input measurements to find the perfect size, ensuring a more informed and satisfying in-store experience. It’s a testament to how technology can seamlessly bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds.

The Power of Personalization – Leveraging influencer marketing campaigns and live streams can create a more personalized and engaging shopping experience. This personal touch, previously a hallmark of in-store shopping, is now a pivotal aspect of the digital retail landscape, blurring the lines between the two.

The Growth of Retail Media – A significant development in this convergence is the growth of retail media networks. Retailers are now selling ad space across various platforms, including websites, in-store displays, mobile applications, and even streaming services. Industry giants like Amazon, Kroger, and Walmart have already embraced this trend, with many other retailers following suit to advance their retail media offerings.

In-Store Experiences Still Have a Place – Many digital native, direct-to-consumer CPG brands like Bonobos, Glossier, Casper, and Warby Parker started online, but have since launched and expanded their physical presence over the past few years. Most of the digital brands opening stores sell apparel, which makes sense; it’s a category where shoppers benefit from interacting with the product in person. 

 

2. GPT & AI Tools Will Advance Personalization and Operations

 

GPT and AI tools are shaking up the retail game, ushering in a new era of personalization and operational efficiency. With the new and improved GPT-4, plus a variety of new plugins, we’re expecting to see some exciting changes in the near future when it comes to AI. 

Imagine tailored shopping recommendations and tutorials, finely tuned to your preferences. For example, if you frequently purchase basic tees, expect emails featuring outfit suggestions based on those tees, along with recommendations to complete the look. The level of personalization not only enhances customer satisfaction but also increases brand loyalty and we expect brands to take advantage of this tech in 2024.

Chatbots, now infused with AI, are set to raise the bar even higher. These bots meet customers online, offering rapid responses and round-the-clock availability. Brands like Lego are elevating customer engagement with digital shopping assistants, which provide personalized gift recommendations based on user responses. As AI continues to reshape the retail landscape, this technology offers greater convenience for customers and enhanced customer relationships for companies.

 

3. Increased Adoption of Social Commerce

 

The surge and popularity of online shopping is here to stay. According to a recent study, in the last 12 months, 34% of shoppers bought a product online via PC, 38% bought a product online via tablet, and 44% bought a product online via mobile phone or smartphone.

 

Additional statistics show that:

  • U.S. social commerce is projected to reach 145.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2028. [Source]
  • Half of those polled in Pulse’s 2023 study said they plan to boost their online spending in the next six months. [Source]
  • Shopping via smartphone keeps climbing steeply, gaining 2 percentage points on in-store shopping just since our March 2021 Pulse survey and more than doubling since 2018. [Source]
  • Compared to when our first survey was conducted, more people say they’re buying online at least daily.  [Source]

 

Social commerce — native shopping experiences on a social media platform — offers shoppers an even more seamless way to shop online. Instead of clicking through to a third-party website, users can make purchases directly from the social media app or site.

And social commerce isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Over recent years, we’ve seen the introduction of Shops (via Meta), the expansion of Snapchat’s social commerce capabilities, and most recently, the release of TikTok Shops.

Shops are custom storefronts for businesses on Instagram and Facebook. Sellers can create collections of featured products, as well as modify the look of their Shop with banners, images, colors, and buttons. The same Shop can be accessed from both Facebook and Instagram, so once it’s set up, sellers have the potential to reach a wide global audience on two platforms. 

With Shops, Facebook is catering more directly to brands than they have in the past. This is part of Facebook’s effort to create a personalized shopping experience for users in the “Shop” destination of the app, which we expect to become more prominent to users in the near future. 

TikTok Shops was also released in September which allows brands and creators to showcase and sell products directly on the app. The platform recently stated that this release “will now bring shoppable videos and LIVE streams directly to For You feeds across the country – and give brands, merchants, and creators the tools to sell directly through shoppable content on the TikTok app.”

 

Source: Instagram

 

As a part of emerging retail trends, we can expect to see social commerce become an even more integral part of the ecommerce experience for brands and shoppers alike in 2024 and beyond. 

 

4. Successful Retailers Become Experiential

 

For companies with physical locations, it’ll be key to distinguish themselves from online retailers by providing unique in-store experiences, also known as experiential marketing. Though the reality is that brick-and-mortar stores often sell less, they have the opportunity to provide value through relationship marketing by strengthening customers’ relationship to the brand. Immersive, Instagrammable experiences, aka “retailtainment,” can bring the brand alive. For example, Marvel found a valuable promotional tool in their touring Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., an immersive exhibit that has pulled in huge crowds all around the world. Through interactive displays and real-life movie props, the franchise invites fans to step into the cinematic world that’s delighted them for years.

 

Example of Experiential Marketing

Source: Richard Sears

Another example is when Amazon launched their first “Just Walk Out” store in 2018 where shoppers enjoyed checkout free shopping. Since that launch, consumers have embraced this technology and it’s becoming popular in entertainment venues, airports, universities, grocery and convenience stores, and stadiums across the U.S., UK, and Australia. Amazon noted that they “have now launched the technology at Lumen Field, home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. During the 2023-24 NFL season, fans can grab their Seahawks gear at the new Seahawks Pro Shop Outlet located in the northwest corner of the stadium’s field level.”

But it’s also important to keep in mind that experiential activations don’t just have to happen in-store – they can take place online as well. Although the metaverse hasn’t reached the massive success anticipated by some industry experts, there’s a notable trend among consumers, particularly those from Gen Z. They are actively engaging in sponsored online events that can transition into opportunities for making purchases or simply become experiences worth sharing.

“There’s no mistake that innovative retail initiatives will continue to shift to the virtual space, but that doesn’t mean the physical space won’t remain an important one. If used correctly, it can complement its online counterpart to bring a brand to life and give it an edge against competitors.”

– Prediction courtesy of Movable Ink 

 

5. Even More AR-Powered Shopping Experiences

 


The innovative retail trends of Augmented reality (AR), machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) are here to stay. And while AR in retail isn’t new (Facebook made some big AR moves in 2018), it’s gone from a nice-to-have to an essential part of retailers’ ecommerce offerings.

As so many shoppers continue to rely on online shopping, retailers leverage AR technology to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical. While brands like IKEA, Home Depot, and Target all have proprietary AR shopping experiences, AR-powered commerce isn’t just for mega-brands.

Shopify introduced Shopify AR, an easy-to-use toolkit for businesses to create their own AR experiences to showcase their products to customers. And it works: Shopify reports that interactions with products having AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR.

Promotional image of Shopify’s AR capabilities reading “Create immersive shopping experiences with Shopify AR”

Source: Shopify

 

All in all, when it comes to technological advancements in the retail industry, look for more brands taking advantage of AR capabilities in 2024 — and more shoppers seeking out those AR experiences to make purchase decisions. 
   

6.  Brands Will Compete on Values with Sustainability & Social Trends

 

In an era where economic uncertainty is at the forefront of many consumer’s minds, brands are finding new ways to stand out by competing on values rather than price. Sustainability and social trends have become powerful tools for establishing a brand’s identity. Taking a pro-social stance not only encourages brand engagement but also enhances long-term value, even in the face of slowed sales velocity. 

As we move into 2024 (and beyond), repairing , recycling, reusing, and thrifting are expected to gain even more traction. Authentically aligning your brand with sustainable values can set you apart in a crowded marketplace. Similarly, supporting a social cause provides your brand with a unique edge, allowing you to differentiate yourself based on factors beyond price alone. Embracing initiatives such as offering cost-effective or free clothing repair, like Patagonia, or selling pre-owned items, like REI, can elevate your brand to the forefront of this values-driven competition.

 

7. The Rise of Buy Now Pay Later

 

The rise of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is making waves in the retail world, and it’s not just about convenient payment options. In fact, it’s becoming a lifeline for brands looking to thrive in an ever-changing market. This trend isn’t exclusive to those selling low-priced items. Thanks to the increase of BNPL providers like Klarna, businesses of all sizes can encourage purchases by offering customers the option to split their purchases into manageable payments over time. 

BNPL is also becoming an important part of enhancing the in-store experience, as 41% of Gen Z retailers are gearing up to incorporate it into their payment offerings. So, whether it’s an impulse buy or spreading the cost of a big-ticket item, BNPL is all about giving consumers more control and flexibility in their shopping journey. Consider adding this option for your customers in 2024.

 

8. Optimizing Fulfillment and Delivery

 

Optimizing fulfillment and delivery has become a key focus for brands looking to stay ahead. With a growing demand for same-day and next-day delivery options, retailers are finding ways to meet customers’ need for speed. One strategy that’s gaining popularity is in-store pickup, which not only provides a convenient option for shoppers but can also encourage additional purchases when customers come in to collect their orders. For instance, if a customer has bought a single item and is just shy of qualifying for free shipping, offering in-store pickup can be a good alternative. 

When it comes to fulfillment, retailers are paying attention to returns more than ever. While minimizing returns is a cost-effective approach, creative solutions are emerging to turn returns into opportunities for customer engagement. For example, offering coupons or free gifts when customers return items in-store can be a nice touch. It’s all about providing a range of options, as seamless and hassle-free returns remain a top selling point for many shoppers today.

 

9. Partnership Expansion

 

Off-site advertising is accelerating through strategic partnerships between retail media networks and media companies. This collaboration is reshaping the advertising world, creating opportunities for brands to extend their reach beyond traditional marketing channels. Retail media networks, embedded within popular ecommerce platforms, leverage their vast customer data to provide precise targeting options to advertisers. By teaming up with media companies, these networks are able to amplify their impact through the integration of off-site channels like social media, content platforms, and search engines. 

We’ve seen many recent examples of these partnerships like Kroger and Disney teaming up. Kroger’s retail media arm, Kroger Precision Marketing, partnered with Disney Advertising to help brands target audiences via streaming media. This beta test will allow CPG marketers to target audiences using shopper data on select Disney platforms, starting with Hulu.

Dollar General’s media network, DGMN, has also established an innovative partnership with Meta to introduce a first-to-market solution, enabling advertisers to connect with hard-to-reach consumers and seamlessly bridge the gap with in-store purchases. Through this collaboration, advertisers have the capability to tap into Dollar General’s extensive database, over 90 million distinct customer profiles, across the Meta ecosystem. This access extends to prominent placements on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, including News Feeds, Stories, and Reels.

We expect to see more partnerships like this as we head into 2024 and beyond.

 

10. Exclusive Brand Assortments and Collections With Retailers

 

The retail industry is witnessing a surge in the popularity of exclusive brand assortments and collections, with Target recently emerging as a pioneering force in this trend with their collaboration with Kendra Scott (among others). As consumers increasingly seek unique and premium offerings, retailers like Target are actively partnering with renowned brands and designers to curate exclusive, limited-edition collections that draw shoppers in with a blend of style, quality, and affordability. This move not only fosters brand loyalty but also propels retailers into the realm of fashion-forward and coveted destinations for consumers. 

The Kendra Scott collaboration at Target is just one example of how retailers are embracing this trend, where exclusivity and accessibility coexist, making high-quality designs more accessible to a broader customer base. As the demand for these exclusive assortments continues to grow, it’s likely that other retailers will follow in Target’s footsteps, transforming the way we shop and engage with our favorite brands.

Ready to shake up your retail strategy by incorporating some of these trends into your marketing plan in 2024? We can help. Contact us today to get started.



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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

​​

via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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