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8 Discontinued Social Media Channels and Features (+Why They Never Took Off)

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8 Discontinued Social Media Channels and Features (+Why They Never Took Off)

What was the first social network you ever joined?

While many people will recall it being Facebook or Twitter, others might remember some of the earlier, less popular social networks. You know, like Friendster, Open Diary, and Orkut?

A lot of these original social networks go forgotten, but that doesn’t make their stories any less important. After all, these networks laid the groundwork for the social media giants we use today.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the stories of some of the earliest social networks — and why they didn’t stick around.

From Six Degrees to Snapchat: A Brief History of Social Media

One of the first versions of a modern social network is Classmates.com, which launched in 1995 and allowed users to share messages and photos with their childhood and college classmates.

In 1997, SixDegrees was founded based on the theory that people are only separated by six levels of friends and family members. It was the first social platform that allowed users to create and curate profiles and laid the groundwork for online social networking.

Blogging (once called weblogs) came to the scene in 1998 with Open Diary, which included a social networking feature where users in groups could read each other’s writing. Open Diary laid the groundwork for later blogging sites like Xanga and LiveJournal in 1999.

In 2002, Friendster was launched to help circles of friends find one another and communicate online. It paved the way for other sites like LinkedIn (2002), Myspace (2003), and Facebook (2004) to launch networks with similar features, such as Myspace’s Top Eight friends, Facebook friend groups, and LinkedIn connections.

In the late 2000s and early 2010s came Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Google+, which experimented with short-form and visual content, as well as aggregating and saving content for later consumption. Some of the latest social networks on the scene include Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok — platforms based on sharing authentic, ephemeral, visual content that requires as few words as possible.

Of course, this is a very brief history — and several social networks were launched and forgotten during this timeline. Needless to say, those networks still played a role in the development of the bigger social landscape we know and use today. Let’s discuss some of the networks we’ve forgotten and why they didn’t stick around.

8 Dead Social Networks You Might Not Remember

1. Vine

Launched in 2013, Vine was a popular video app where users created six-second looped videos. Users could make their content, follow friends and popular creators, and browse trending videos. It dominated social media networks from 2013-to 2016, and many of the popular videos remain relevant in pop culture and memes to this day.

discontinued social media channel: vine

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When Did It Fall?

Vine was discontinued in October of 2016.

Why Did It Fail?

Vine ultimately failed because it could not keep up with other growing networks of its day that championed video, like Instagram. Many Vine executives and co-founders were also against monetization and did not want to take sponsors from brands, so creators and marketers moved to platforms like YouTube where they could monetize their content.

2. MySpace

Myspace is a social networking site where users could create a profile page to share their interests, photos, and connect with friends. It also appreciated music, so users could set a song that would play every time a friend visited their profile.

In its prime, Myspace was the most popular social networking site, even surpassing Google as the most visited website in the United States.

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When Did It Fall?

In 2011, Myspace’s CEO Mike Jones announced that the platform would no longer try to rival Facebook. It would instead pivot to a social entertainment style site and, while it still exists today, does not remain a fraction as popular as it did in its prime.

Why Did It Fail?

The New York Times cites Myspace’s decline as result of consumers and changing tastes, coupled with the rise and popularity of Facebook.

Myspace also had a change of leadership when bought by News Corporation, and Tom Standage, Deputy Editor of The Economist, said “Its new owner treated it as a media outlet rather than a technology platform and seemed more interested in maximizing advertising revenue than fixing or improving the sites underlying technology.” The site soon became inundated with advertisements, affecting usability.

The site ultimately fell because of a failure to focus on site users and their experience, but instead on monetization and advertisers, which sent consumers elsewhere.

3. Friendster

Friendster, launched in 2002, was the first social network to allow users to create profiles and share content with their contacts. It was also used to learn about local events, pop culture news, and to connect with brands. At its peak, Friendster had roughly 115 million users around the world. The website currently ranks 2,949,342 in global internet traffic and engagement over the past 90 days, according to Alexa.

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When Did It Fall?

Friendster rebranded as a social gaming website in 2011. It closed for good in 2015 after Mark Zuckerberg bought Friendster’s suite of social networking patents for $40 million.

Why Did It Fail?

Jonathan Abrams, Friendster’s founder, says “The problem was that Friendster was having a lot of technology problems,” and people could barely log into the website for two years. He adds, “By the time Facebook and MySpace were doing those things, Friendster had lost a lot of market share in the U.S. for stability issues.”

Computer scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology conducted an “autopsy” on Friendster to uncover its demise, and they cited a disastrous site redesign in 2009 that caused traffic and users to plummet. They also determined that it took much more effort to navigate the platform than the benefits that came from using it.

Friendster also wasn’t widely adopted by users’ friends and families, so their time was better spent on other networks where more of their real-world network was online — namely, on Facebook and Myspace.

4. Google+

Google+, launched in 2011, was a social network owned and operated by Google. It was essentially a way for all Google users to have a central location for all of the actions they took across all of the different Google platforms and services.

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When Did It Fall?

The Google+ developer API was discontinued in March of 2019, and the site was shut down for business and personal use in April 2019.

Why Did It Fail?

Low user engagement was a significant factor in Google+’s demise, and the company reported having difficulty “Creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets customer expectations,” and said that 90% of user sessions lasted less than five seconds.

In addition, an API update in 2018 potentially exposed the personal information of 52.5 million users to outside developers, and this occurred for six days before being discovered. The Wall Street Journal reported that “The move effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of a product that was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook Inc. and is widely seen as one of Google’s biggest failures.”

5. Open Diary

Open Diary, founded in 1997, was an online blogging and journaling website that laid the groundwork for features we see on modern blogs, like comments. Writers could add friends and change privacy settings so only specific people would see what they were writing, and it eventually expanded to different topic areas so users could write about a variety of themes.

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When Did It Fall?

Open Diary closed in 2014.

Why Did It Fail?

After two major security breaches, falling subscription revenue led the Open Diary team to offer more expensive paid subscription options to recoup its losses. This move instead drove users away towards free alternative blogging sites, like Xanga and LiveJournal.

6. Ping

When he launched Ping in 2010, Steve Jobs referred to it as “Facebook and Twitter meets iTunes.” Ping was a social networking feature within iTunes where users could add friends, follow artists, and look up local concerts. Friends could also preview songs their friends were downloading and listening to.

discontinued social media channel: ping

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When Did It Fall?

Ping was terminated in 2012.

Why Did It Fail?

Ping was originally meant to feature an integration with Facebook that would allow users to easily connect with friends and artists they already followed on Facebook, but the partnership fell through. Users were then left with a blank slate on which to build another social network of people to follow.

Additionally, Ping only allowed users to listen to 90-second previews of songs on its network — any longer and they had to buy the song. Since Ping was part of iTunes, it became redundant instead of an enhanced experience. Apple replaced Ping with a better integration with Facebook and Twitter that allowed for easy music sharing.

Many of the features meant to make Ping stand out from the crowd can now be seen on Spotify, where users can connect their Facebook and follow friends, see what they’re listening to, and learn more about their favorite artists.

7. Orkut

After a failed attempt to purchase Friendster, Google launched Orkut in 2004 as a place for people to add friends and share content. Users could view profiles, rate friends, add them to lists, and like their friends posts. At its peak, Orkut had 300 million users around the world.

discontinued social media channel: orkut

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When Did It Fall:

Google shut Orkut down in 2014.

Why It Failed:

Orkut took hold in a few countries, primarily India and Brazil, but never achieved widespread international popularity. At the time, YouTube and Google+ were outpacing Orkut’s growth, so Google refocused on these platforms in an attempt to compete against Facebook and social media. As such, the Orkut team cited the growth of Google’s other social media assets as a reason to shutter the site.

8. Eons

Eons, launched in 2006, was touted as “Myspace for boomers,” and set age restrictions that prevented anyone under the age of 50 from joining, which was later lowered to 40 in 2008. The site never experienced a huge boom in popularity around its launch and, at its peak, had roughly 800,000 users.

discontinued social media channel: eons

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When Did It Fall:

Eons.com shut down in 2012.

Why It Failed:

The age targeting was restrictive for a reason, but this had detrimental effects as the user base was rather limited. It also prevented the site from being widely popularized and, as social media was just coming onto the horizon and wasn’t yet widely adopted, the platform was unable to build a successful network out of such a small user group.

Lessons for Marketers From Failed Social Media Networks

There are several lessons for modern marketers in the stories of these fallen social networks. We’re not saying that you’re always at risk of killing your brand, but keeping these tips in mind may help you maintain and grow your followers and engage with them authentically.

1. Understand your audience.

The most significant factor of success when creating a social media network is creating for the audience that you want to have. For example, you wouldn’t create a text-based blogging site if you’re hoping to attract multimedia creators.

As with all marketing practices, make sure that you have a solid understanding of your audience, who they are, and what they want, so you can create a platform that will meet their needs and keep them on the platform.

2. Meet your audience where they already are.

Many social networks fail because brands try to reinvent something that already works well, or requires extra work for users to be able to participate. For example, Ping wasn’t able to integrate with Facebook, so users had to recreate social networks that likely already existed for them on an entirely new platform.

Instead, meet your audiences where they already are and supplement their experience. Part of Facebook’s success and longevity is due to its creation of an infrastructure where users don’t need to leave Facebook to get things done. It’s grown beyond just a social network into a destination for news, commerce, and content consumption.

Marketers should experiment with new technologies and offerings to keep followers interacting with their brand more, such as creating helpful chatbots, publishing on new forms of media, and trying new strategies like virtual reality or experiential marketing to keep audiences engaged and on a website or social platform for as long as possible.

3. Borrow from your competitors.

Borrow a page from the Facebook playbook and be aware of what your competitors are doing. For example, Vine was forced to shut down because other networks were offering similar features, but did it better and provided more opportunities, like creators who could monetize their content. A recent example

4. Be authentic and not overly self-promotional.

A common thread between Ping and Open Diary’s downfall was the brand’s attempt to monetize. Users didn’t like Ping advertising iTunes music that they could only listen to for 90 seconds, and Open Diary users didn’t want to pay for something that was free on other sites.

Users want an authentic experience on social media to interact with friends, family, and their networks, not logging on to a site and being bombarded with advertisements.

The next time a new social network comes onto the scene, we’ll be here to tell you the story — and predict if it will be here to stay. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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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