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How It’s Changed and Where It’s Going in the Next Decade

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How It's Changed and Where It's Going in the Next Decade

A sound content marketing strategy is one of the better ways a business can help shape its brand identity, garner interest from prospects, and retain an engaged audience. It lets you establish authority in your space, project legitimacy, and build trust between you and who you’re trying to reach.

As you can assume, it’s well worth understanding. But that’s easier said than done. Content marketing isn’t static. The landscape of the practice is constantly changing. It doesn’t look the same now as it did ten years ago, and in ten years it won’t look the same as it does now.

It’s a difficult topic to pin down — one with a fascinating past and an exciting future. Out of both genuine interest and forward-thinking practicality, it’s important to understand both where it’s been and where it’s going.

Here, we’ll get some perspective on both. We’re going to take a look at how content marketing has evolved in the past decade, and how it’s going to evolve in the next one according to expert predictions.

How Content Marketing Evolved in the Past Decade

Google changed the game.

In 2011, Google conducted its landmark Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) study. It found that 88% of shoppers use what’s known as a Zero Moment of Truth — a discovery and awareness stage in a buying cycle where a consumer researches a product before buying it. Google’s research also indicated that word of mouth was a definitive factor in swaying that moment.

The study provides a unique point of reference in the context of content marketing’s evolution. It captures the essence of how and why businesses needed to focus on content marketing at the beginning of the 2010s.

It was tacit evidence that companies’ stories were being told online — well beyond the control of their marketing departments — and it was in their best interest to help shape those conversations.

The ZMOT study highlighted the need for sound Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ranking for relevant keywords on search engines became all but essential to bolstering a company’s online presence and holding up during consumers’ Zero Moments of Truth.

But that study wasn’t the only bombshell Google dropped in the early 2010s. Around the time the study came out, Google’s search ranking algorithm changed to discourage “keyword stuffing” — the practice of repetitively loading a webpage with specific keywords to try to sway search engine rankings.

The change represented what is still a continuous effort by Google to provide users with positive, helpful online experiences. And it did just that. The shift that set the stage for businesses to focus on producing more high-quality, meaningful content.

Social media rose.

But content marketing’s evolution wasn’t exclusively linked to search engines. Social media’s meteoric rise to prominence — one of the most disruptive trends in human history — also had a profound impact on the practice. As these platforms developed into mainstays of everyday life, they presented new challenges for content marketers.

As social media evolved, it popularized a different kind of content consumption than search engines. The difference boiled down to a matter of “pointed versus passive.”

Consumers use search engines to find content more pointedly. Generally speaking, when you use a search engine, you’re looking for a specific answer or a specific subject. Social media allowed users to consume content more passively on their preferred platforms. The content you see on your Facebook feed is finding its way to you — not the other way around.

That trend incentivized the creation of more shareable, attention-grabbing content that could easily be spread across social media channels.

In fact, as of 2021, social media is now the primary channel used by marketers, with over 80% of marketers using social media — by comparison, only roughly 40% use content marketing and SEO. 

the most popular channels used in marketing in 2021Image Source

Video made a push.

Video also emerged as one of the prevailing content marketing mediums as the decade progressed, particularly among younger consumers.

As of 2021, roughly 70% of marketers say video is now their primary form of media used in their content strategies. 

Additionally, nearly nine out of ten people report wanting to see more videos from brands. 

Video is inherently engaging. Generally speaking, it’s easier to follow than blog posts, email newsletters, or ebooks. Gradually, audiences took to it more and more as the decade progressed. By the end of the 2010s, platforms like YouTube were central to the landscape of content marketing.

the primary forms of media used in content strategies in 2021

Obviously, content marketing underwent several shifts in the 2010s, but as I said at the beginning of this article, the practice isn’t — and will never be — static. There are still plenty of changes to come.

How Content Marketing Will Evolve in the Next Decade

future of content marketing trends 2022

Video content will continue to rule.

As I just mentioned, video was emerging as one of the most — if not the most — important mediums for content marketing at the end of this past decade. There’s no indication that that trend is stopping anytime soon.

In 2020, media uploads increased 80% year-over-year, demonstrating how the pandemic accelerated the popularity of video creation and consumption. 

And, as Canva’s B2B Head of Content Rachael Perry points out,
“Video content is positioned for massive growth now, especially as video-first social platforms like TikTok continue to rule.”

Perry says, “Almost everyone creates and absorbs visual content in today’s world, and video is a great way to bring your brand to life and build more personal connections with your audience.”

Perry adds, “Until now, video creation has been complex, but there are new tools making it easier. If you can understand what your audience truly needs, video can help you provide that value in a memorable way.”

All told, it looks like the exploration and expansion of video as the preeminent medium for content marketing is going to continue. The priority for marketers is going to be a matter of standing out.

That could mean emphasizing the quality of the content you produce — ensuring it’s enriching, well-crafted, and relevant to viewers. You could also try looking to emerging platforms like TikTok.

CEO & Co-Founder of Slidebean, Jose (Caya) Cayasso, told me he encourages brands to step outside the more traditional avenues of content marketing — blogging, email marketing, and SEO — to create “wider moats” around their content efforts. 

He says, “[At Slidebean] we decided to bet on YouTube, and it’s become our most significant source of revenue and brand awareness. Alternatively, companies like Morning Brew and Duolingo are killing it on TikTok — but requires us to reinvent ourselves constantly, and to break the status quo of typical corporate content.”

Cayasso adds, “You have to be incredibly clever and adaptable to succeed in video content — even more so if you’re a brand, versus an individual.”

No matter how individual producers and companies manage to innovate when it comes to video marketing, the medium is going to be a mainstay in the evolution of content marketing going forward.

Adjusting for mobile will be essential and present new opportunities.

According to Statista, global mobile data traffic in 2022 will be seven times larger than it was in 2017. Mobile device usage is increasing astronomically, and it’s in every content marketer’s best interest to keep pace with that trend.

In 2021, 61% of Google searches took place on a mobile device, and that trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Having a website optimized for mobile devices will be central to successful SEO efforts. And a lot of the content you create will need to fit that bill as well.

Blogs should be easily navigable on smartphones. Readily accessible video content that your audience can watch on mobile devices will be a big help as well. Prospects and customers will need to be able to get as much out of your mobile resources as your desktop ones.

This shift towards mobile will also present new opportunities through emerging kinds of media. More novel mobile technology — like virtual and augmented reality — will have a very real place in the future of content marketing.

As people continue to rely more on their mobile devices, content marketers will have to as well.

Successful content will be more empathetic, purposeful, and customer-first.

Google’s ranking algorithm aims to prioritize the content that will mean the most to searchers. Ideally, by Google’s standards, the first ranking search result for any keyword is the one that best addresses whatever users are searching for. And in all likelihood, they’ll keep tinkering with their process in pursuit of that interest.

While there’s no telling exactly how the algorithm might change going forward, one fact remains — marketers need to focus on high-quality content that will register with consumers. That means understanding your audience and putting considerable effort into how to reach them best.

As HubSpot Senior Content Strategist Amanda Zantal-Wiener puts it, “Where I’m starting to see content turning a corner is in the area of empathy. In the years to come, marketers are going to start creating more content that’s truly created in the mindset of putting themselves in the shoes of others — be it their customers, prospects, partners, or someone else within their audiences.”

She adds, “They’ll ask questions like, ‘What does my audience need from me right now? What can I create that’s truly going to help them?’ That’s going to become a requirement for marketers when they begin brainstorming content.”

Content marketing is trending towards audience enrichment as opposed to product promotion. If this shifting tide holds true, content marketing will continue to become more targeted, purposeful, and customer-centric as the practice evolves.

As Katelyn Seese, Content Strategist at Blue Frog, puts it, “Content marketing has the power to make real connections with your audience and educate them of the value of your brand beyond your services, products, or offerings. Consumers care much more today about the who and why of your brand rather than just what you do. Understanding who your audience is and why they need your brand is the key to creating meaningful content that truly resonates with your audience.”

Of course, content creation isn’t easy. Fortunately, Kim Giroux, Director of Marketing at Beautiful.ai, believes the future includes an increase in tools that should help your writers with content creation and design. 

Giroux told me, “Over the next decade, content creation will be automated with tools backed by artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Widespread adoption of such tools will give marketers the ability to create quality content in a fraction of the time. At the same time, integrations will simplify tech stacks and end-user experiences. Professionals will no longer need to understand complex tools, while workflows and team collaboration will be seamless.”

She adds, “With automation in content creation tools as the norm, designing or branding content such as presentations, infographics, blog posts and white-papers will be effortless.”

“The days of spending hours formatting and incorporating brand elements and design principles into every piece of content will be long gone. Smart technology will instantly create branded, visually appealing collateral, freeing up marketers’ brainpower to focus solely on the messaging and strategy behind a brand.”

Historical optimization will become increasingly important.

Basha Coleman, a Historical Optimization Marketing Manager at HubSpot, believes the future of content marketing will include an increased awareness and dedication to historical optimization.

She says, “As we enter an era where competitive content is appearing each minute, content teams will find it worthwhile to extract more value out of every minute spent on content development.”

Coleman adds, “That means existing material that is updated with new data and trends can compete with brand new content on the same topic, while spending less time and resources to produce it.”

If you don’t already, consider investing in a strong optimization strategy for 2022 and beyond. This will help you create consistently relevant and high-ranking content without constantly starting from scratch, and is a critical SEO tactic for maintaining authority in the SERPs. 

future of content marketing according to basha coleman

Marketers will use more interactive content on their websites.

Nowadays, consumers are interested in easily-digestible, interactive content. In fact, 45% of B2B buyers say interactive content is one of their top three preferred content types, and interactive content gets 2X more engagement than static content.

To serve your audience’s needs, consider how you might implement more interactive content, which breaks up long paragraphs of text and provides the viewer with an alternative method for consuming content. 

As VP of Marketing at Trusted Health Jill Callan puts it, “With average attention spans dwindling down to less than that of a goldfish, brands can no longer afford to have one-way conversations with their audience.”

Callan says, “Interactive content on your website or blog can help engage visitors and make complex information easy to digest.”

Callan adds, “At my company, Trusted Health, we’ve used this approach to engage our nursing audience with things like our Salary Calculator, which helps nurses get detailed salary and cost of living information for every state. The best part? Creating contextual user experiences needn’t suck up precious product or engineering resources.”

If you aren’t sure how to begin, you’re in luck. Callan shared with me three tips to kick-start your interactive content journey:

  • Embed an ROI calculator on your website to show potential customers how you will save them money. An interactive tool immediately shows your product’s value versus relying on text-heavy copy to explain it.
  • Crowd-source product innovation. Tap into your brand advocates and loyal customers to learn more about their pain points and product wishlist. Use those insights to inform a product roadmap.
  • Create a quiz. Not only are quizzes a great way to engage visitors, they also give you a better understanding of your audience so you can create more targeted campaigns in the future.

Zero-party data will become the preferred option for collecting prospect and customer data.

The way we use cookies and other ad-tracking tools in the next decade will change dramatically. 

Marketers will need to continue prioritizing the security of their prospects and customers’ data, or risk losing their consumers’ trust. 

To do this, many marketers will switch from using first, second, or third-party data to using zero-party data, which is data collected voluntarily from customers in exchange for value. Zero-party data goes beyond email address or phone number, and instead can include personal context, interests, and preferences — in return, prospects and customers can expect a more personalized consumer experience. 

As Senior Director of Marketing at Microsoft Advertising John Cosley told me, “Zero-party data is the foundation for a relationship built on trust and a value exchange. For consumers, it holds the promise of a personalized and more relevant experience with brands. In return, brands and businesses receive better insight and a longer-term relationship.”

future of content marketing according to john cosleyUsing zero-party data enables you to create trust between your brand and its consumers, while also ensuring you’re delivering the most personalized content possible for your customers. As other types of data collection are phased out — including third-party cookies — you’ll see marketers shift to zero-party data in the next decade.

If there’s anything to take away from understanding the previous and upcoming evolutions of content marketing it’s this — don’t get too comfortable. New trends and challenges are always emerging, and it will always be in your best interest to stay abreast of them.

And above all else, focus on consistently creating high-quality content that your audience will always be able to get something out of.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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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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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.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

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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