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How to Measure Social Media Marketing ROI [with Expert Advice]

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When it comes to building effective social media ad campaigns, the biggest question isn’t “how much should I spend?”

It’s “for every dollar I spend, how much do I get back?”

In other words, it’s all about return on investment (ROI) — how are ad spending and customer conversion linked? Understanding this connection makes it less important how much you spend, and instead lets you focus on the impact of your social ads. In this piece, we’re taking a look at how to measure social media marketing ROI and offering a look at eight tools to help streamline the process.

ROI is a measure of spend versus value: If I spend “X” amount, how much do I get back? The best-case scenario is an ROI greater than one, where companies get back more than they spent on an investment.

Consider a manufacturing company buying a new piece of production line equipment that costs $10,000 but brings in $20,000 worth of revenue each year. The result is a positive ROI and a worthwhile investment. While measuring social media ROI isn’t quite as straightforward since companies need to account for the reach and impact of specific ad campaigns, the underlying concept is the same: Over time, the goal is to get back more than you spend.

While specific measurement timelines and media metrics will differ, the role of ROI remains the same.

How to Measure Social Media Marketing ROI

One of the most popular and data-driven ways to measure social media marketing ROI is through paid advertising. The problem arises, though, when there isn’t a sound strategy in place to yield a positive return on investment.

How does this happen? Typically, social media marketers build an AdWords campaign to rank for important search terms. The campaign drives clicks, traffic, and leads, but ultimately the ad spend outweighs the impact of the ads which is bad news for ROI.

These marketers end up learning a really expensive lesson, one that could be easily prevented by following these simple steps:

1. Develop a Budget.

Ads aren’t right for everyone. Some industries have extremely high competition with astronomical CPCs. Some products have too low of an average sales price for the economics to work.

To determine if ads are worth your time, start by building a budget. This isn’t always an easy task, especially considering the hit many marketing budgets have taken over the past two years. According to Tequia Burt, Editor in Chief of the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog, market knowledge is a key component of this process. “As marketing leaders evaluate their budgets and organize their plans for the year ahead,” she says, “a bit of context and clarity can lend helpful structure.”

Consider that 76% of companies plan to boost spending across areas such as branded influencer content, ads in social media stories and ads in social media feeds. Knowing where and when this spending makes the most sense is critical to drive ROI.

Featured Resource: Budget Templates To Manage Your 2022 Spend

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2. Continually Evaluate Ad Performance.

Try not to look at ads as a shortcut. It’s possible to get to a place with ads where they become a recurring source of profit, but typically that’s not how things start.

Don’t be surprised when a week after your campaign launches your ads aren’t generating tons of profit. “Around 80% of businesses online feel that they deliver great assistance via social media, but only 8 percent of their customers agreed,” says John Kopanakis, professor of Business Intelligence at Hellenic Mediterranean University. “Despite putting in a lot of effort, many marketers hardly reach their targeted sales. It is because they struggle to measure the impact of their social media efforts on their sales.”

As a result, incremental improvements in clickthrough rates and conversion rates can have a huge impact on profit. Use the ads calculator to explore the impact these changes could have. Watch your ads like a hawk for the first month and you’ll avoid big mistakes.

3. Make Sure You’re Amplifying the Right Message

Ads act like a megaphone to amplify your marketing campaigns and content. The more complete and well-developed your campaigns are, the better your ads will perform.

As noted by Samuel Bu, Marketing Director at FortuneNote Chinese Business Magazine in a recent LinkedIn Pulse post, it’s also critical to find the right channel for your business. While he highlights LinkedIn as a great way to generate leads and calls out Facebook’s huge impact on the social market, he also highlights challenges with platforms such as Instagram. Why? Bu says “Most likely, Instagram falls short of producing strong ROI due to its more intangible metrics — such as brand awareness, reputation, loyalty, and consumer engagement.”

Think about it: Which ads do you think perform better? Those promoting your homepage or those promoting a remarkable piece of content that helps someone?

Bingo. Those promoting awesome content.

Campaigns that use ads should be treated like other campaigns. Establish your goals first, build great content, focus your message and optimize your landing pages, then figure out how ads can help amplify your message. Taking this combined approach and only using ads as a strategic component of your marketing campaigns will pay off.

How Much Should You Spend on Ads?

Assuming you’ve run the numbers and now know what you can expect in terms of profit and ROI, it’s time to launch a campaign. To do this you’ll have to make two budget decisions, regardless of where you are advertising:

  • Total campaign budget or duration: How much do you plan to spend in total? How long will the ads run for? Be aware that if you don’t set a limit there will be no maximum or end date.
  • Daily budget: How much do you want to spend a day?

There are two ways most marketers use ads, short-term and long-term. Let’s take a look at both …

Short-term ads. Budget = at least a few hundred dollars over a month.

When marketers use ads for a short-term goal, it’s usually to jump-start a campaign or boost content that needs a bump. These ad spends are generally smaller and shorter, but can be large.

If you have a few hundred dollars to spend, spend it this way. Create a social post that promotes a piece of content and then use your ads to boost the post. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have good solutions for this. Make sure you use the social network that gives you the best targeting for your persona and returns the most valuable leads. Measure this by assessing the quality of the leads generated after the campaign.

Long-term ads. Budget = at least a few thousand dollars over a quarter.

Ads can be a great solution in a pinch but if you really want to use ads strategically build them into your overall marketing strategy. This means more consistent, quarterly ad spends.

Consider how potential customers make purchase decisions and use ads to influence them. This may mean always relying on search ads or retargeting to make sure prospects find you when they are ready to buy. You’re more likely to accumulate better data taking this approach, which will allow you to get more sophisticated in how you optimize your ad spend.

Given the quickly-changing nature of social media platforms and posts, it’s worth considering social media ROI tools to help stay on top of spend and revenue measurements. Here’s a look at eight great options.

1. HubSpot

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: HubSpot

The HubSpot Advertising ROI Calculator makes it easy to narrow down when and where it’s worth spending on social ads.

Start by inputting your projected monthly budget, then your expected cost-per-click (CPC), target conversion rate, average sale price and lead to customer rate to get a general idea of your ROI on advertising spend. Use the calculator regularly to reevaluate your campaigns and make sure they’re delivering on key metrics.

2. Hootsuite

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Hootsuite

Hootsuite also offers a free Social ROI Calculator that lets you input ad spend data to determine potential ROI. While it uses slightly different metrics and has a different setup than the HubSpot version, the general function is the same: Input your data to see where it makes sense to spend on ads and where the return may not justify the investment.

While both offer a solid starting point for ROI, we’re naturally biased toward the HubSpot version.

3. Sprout Social

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Sprout Social

Next up is Sprout Social. Unlike HubSpot and Hootsuite, you’ll need to sign up for a free trial to access Sprout Social’s ROI calculator. After 30 days, it’s $99 per month if you want to keep using the tool.

Depending on your current ad campaign and ROI goals, however, the cost may be worth it. Sprout’s tool offers message-level insights to see which posts are proving their worth along with follower, engagement, and keyword analytics that cover the entire publishing process from draft to queue to posting.

4. Cyfe

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Cyfe

Cyfe provides a set of all-in-one business dashboards that provide insights across key social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Easily monitor what ads are being posted, how they’re performing, and how users are interacting with your campaign efforts.

Cyfe comes with a 14-day free trial. After that, it’s $19 per month for two dashboards and one user.

5. Google Analytics

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is familiar, free, and functional. While it doesn’t have the same laser-focus on social media as some other offerings on our list, it comes with the advantage of access to massive data sets, and also helps inform social advertising SEO, which is critical to any effective campaign.

To see how your social ads are performing at a high level, first log into your Google Analytics dashboard. From there, select Acquisition, then All Traffic, then Channels. This will bring up a list of your traffic sources, including those from social sites, in turn helping you get a general sense of how social ads are working to drive revenue.

Featured Resource: The Ultimate Google Ads PPC Kit

HubSpot's Ultimate Google Ads PPC Kit

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6. Buffer

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Buffer

Buffer is an all-in-one social media marketing and ROI tool that’s designed to simplify the process of measuring and managing ads. The tool streamlines the creation of social ad content and lets you measure impact in just a few clicks to see what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to improve.

If you’re just getting started with social media ads, Buffer has a free plan that lets you manage up to three channels with basic tools. From there, plans start at $5 per month for “Essentials”, $10 per month for “Team” and $100 per month for “Agency”.

7. Keyhole

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Keyhole

Keyhole lets you accomplish two key tasks: Listen to what people are saying about your brand in real-time and monitor the impact of your influencer marketing campaigns.

The first is critical because customer sentiment is a solid bellwether when it comes to ad effectiveness. If the number of people talking about your brand is going up — and if most of what they have to say is positive, you’re on the right track.

Influencer marketing reports, meanwhile, help keep tabs on influencer partners who exist outside your business ecosystem but offer potential benefits for your brand, as long as they’re posting consistently and in line with your messaging.

8. Social Mention

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Social Mention

The simplest tool on our list, Social Mention lets you search any keyword or key phrase for recent social mentions.

In practice, companies can use Social Mention to see what’s currently trending and what opportunities exist to target specific keywords, and can then follow up after ads have gone live to see how campaigns are performing.

Getting the Biggest Social Impact for Your Spend

Bottom line? There’s no single way to spend your social marketing budget. Some companies may prefer to keep spending low and handle most of their ads through free platforms and word of mouth, while others are willing to spend top dollar for on-demand results.

Whatever budget you choose and whichever approach you take, however, there’s a common rule of thumb: Ask lots of questions about your ad spend, and make sure ads are performing as intended.

Why? Because even targeting the right market with the right approach, it’s easy to burn through money fast. Safeguard yourself by knowing what to expect, having clear expectations, and using the right tools to measure social ad ROI.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2016 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

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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.

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!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

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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