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How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing Metric

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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

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Estimated brand reach is the most important high-level metric that everyone seems to either interpret incorrectly, or ignore altogether.

Why? Because it’s a tough nut to crack.

By definition, brand reach is a headcount of unique “individuals” who encounter your brand, and you cannot de-anonymize all the people on every one of your web channels. Simply put, two “sessions” or “users” in your analytics could really be from one person, and there’s just no way you could know.

Nevertheless, you can and most definitely should estimate your brand reach. And you should, and most definitely can, use that data in a meaningful way.

For instance, it’s how we confirmed that:

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s dive in.

What is reach?

Reach counts the number of actual people who come in contact with a particular campaign. For example, if 1,500 people see a post on Instagram, your reach is 1,500. (Warning: Take any tool claiming to give you a “reach” number with a grain of salt. As we covered earlier, it’s really hard to count unique individuals on the web).

Impressions, on the other hand, is a count of views. One person can see an Instagram post multiple times. A post with a reach of 1,500 can easily have as many as 3,000 impressions if every one of those people see it twice.

Brand reach takes this a step further by tracking all the individual people who have encountered any and all of your company’s campaigns across all of your channels, in a given time period.

If you’re tracking brand reach correctly, every single person only gets counted once, and as far we know, that’s impossible.

Google Search Console, for instance, will show you exactly how many impressions your website has achieved on Google Search over a period of time. But it won’t count unique individuals over that period. Someone could easily search two different keywords that your site is ranking for and encounter your brand twice on Google. There is no way to tie those multiple sessions back to one individual user.

It would be even harder to track that individual across all of your channels. How, for instance, would you make sure that someone who found you on social, and then again on search, isn’t counted twice?

The short answer is that you can’t.

However, you can estimate brand reach, and it’s work worth doing. It will a) help you tie meaningful metrics to your overall brand awareness efforts, and b) give you an immense amount of insight into how that high-level brand awareness affects your deeper-funnel outcomes — something that is sorely missing in most marketing programs.

Using impressions as a stand-in for pure reach

We’ve accepted that we can’t count the number of users who encounter our brand. But we are confident in our ability to count total impressions, and crucially, we’ve deduced that there’s a strong relationship between impressions and reach.

Common sense tells us that, if you see changes in your brand’s total impressions, there are likely changes to your reach as well.

We tested this premise using one of the only channels where we can actually count pure reach vs impressions: our email marketing program.

In email marketing:

And, as we suspected, there is a near perfect correlation between the two, of 0.94.

Interestingly, there is also a near-perfect correlation between email impressions and email engagement (someone clicking on that email) of 0.87.

Admittedly, email is a very controlled channel relative to, say, search or social media.

So, I went one step further and looked at how our “impressions” in Google Search Console aligned with Google Analytics’ count of “New Users” over the course of one year (which we’ll use as a stand-in for pure reach, since it only counts users once in a given timeframe):

The Pearson Correlation Coefficient for impressions’ relationship to GA’s New Users is 0.69, which is very strong! In other words, more impressions typically means more unique users, (AKA, reach).

Meanwhile, the relationship between GA’s New Users and GSC clicks is an astonishing 0.992, which is just 0.008 off from a perfect correlation.

1676979051 989 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

People much smarter than I have pointed out time and time again that GA’s user data must be taken with a grain of salt, for reasons I won’t get into here. Still, the point is that there’s ample evidence to suggest an extremely tight relationship between reach and impressions.

TL;DR: If impressions change negatively or positively, there is very likely to be a corresponding change in reach, and vice versa.

What we ended up with

Taking all of this knowledge into account, we started tracking impressions of every single channel (except email, where we can actually use pure reach) to help determine our estimated brand reach. The outcome? This graph of our brand reach as it changes over time:

1676979052 823 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

It’s extremely rewarding to have this type of number for your brand, even if it is an estimate.

But the greatest value here is not in the actual number; it’s in how that number changes from month to month, and more importantly, why it changes (more on this later in this post).

How to track estimated reach

The chart above displays our brand’s estimated reach across all our known marketing channels. Acquiring the data is as simple as going into each of these channels’ analytics properties once a month, and pulling out the impressions for the prior month.

Let’s go through the steps.

1. Have a spreadsheet where you can log everything. Here’s a template you can use. Feel free to update the info in the leftmost columns according to your channels. Columns G through L will populate automatically based on the data you add to columns C through F. We recommend using this layout, and tracking the data monthly, as it will make it easier for you to create pivot tables to help with your analysis.

1676979052 942 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

2. Access your impression data. Every marketing mix is different, but here’s how we would access impression data for the channels we rely on:

  • Organic search: Pull impressions for the month from Google Search Console.

  • Email marketing: Total number of unique contacts who have successfully received at least one email from you in the current month (this is one of the few channels where we use pure reach, as opposed to impressions).

  • Social media: Impressions pulled from Sprout, or from the native social media analytics platforms. Do the same for paid impressions.

  • Google Ads/Adroll/other ad platform: Impressions pulled from the ad-management platform of your choosing.

  • Website referrals: The sum of estimated page traffic from our backlinks each month. We use Ahrefs for this. The idea is that any backlink is a potential opportunity for someone to engage with our brand. Ahrefs estimates the traffic of each referring page. We can export this, and add it all up in a sheet, to get an estimate of the impressions we’re making on other websites.

  • YouTube: Impressions from Youtube Analytics.

Most of the above is self-explanatory, with a few exceptions.

First, there’s email. We use pure reach as opposed to impressions for two reasons:

  1. Because we can.

  2. Because using impressions for email would vastly inflate our estimated reach number. In any given month, we send 3 million or more email messages, but only reach around 400,000 people. Email, by its nature, entails regularly messaging the same group of people. Social media, while similar (your followers are your main audience), has a much smaller reach (we are under 30,000 each month).

1676979052 545 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing
We deliver many more emails (impressions) every month than there are unique recipients (reach).

Second, is Referral traffic. This is traffic that comes from other sites onto yours, but note that it excludes email, search-engine traffic and social media traffic. These are accounted for separately.

The referral source, more than any other channel, is a rough estimate. It only looks at the estimated organic page traffic, so it leaves out a large potential source of traffic in the form of other distribution channels (social, email, etc.) that website publishers may be using to promote a page.

But again, reach is most valuable as a relative metric — i.e., how it changes month to month — not as an absolute number.

To get the desired timeframe of one full month on Ahrefs, select “All” (so you’re actually seeing all current live links) and then show history for “last 3 months” like so:

1676979053 588 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

This is because Ahrefs, sadly, doesn’t let you provide custom dates on its backlink tool. My way of doing this adds a few steps, but they’re fairly intuitive once you get the hang of them (plus I made a video to help you).

Start by exporting the data into a spreadsheet. Next, filter out backlinks in your sheet that were first seen after the last day of the month you’re analyzing, or last seen before the first day of that month. Finally, add up all the Page Views, and that will be your total “impressions” from referral traffic.

The video below how we would pull these numbers for November, using Ahrefs: 

Finally, you’ll notice “branded clicks” and “branded impressions” on the template:

1676979053 594 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

This data, which is easily pulled from GSC (filter for queries containing your brand name) can make for some interesting correlative data. It also helps us with engagement data, since we count branded search as a form of engagement. After all, if someone’s typing your brand name into Google Search, there’s likely some intent there.

How to evaluate estimated reach

Once you’ve filled in all your data, your sheet will look something like the image below:

1676979054 347 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

That’s enough to start creating very basic pivot tables (like adding up your total reach each month). But notice all the holes and zeros?

You can fill those by pulling in your engagement metrics. Let’s run through them:

  • Organic search: Pull clicks from Google Search Console. (Optional: I also recommend pulling branded search impressions, which we count as engagements in our spreadsheet, as well as branded clicks). New Users from GA is a viable alternative to clicks (remember that near-perfect relationship?), but you won’t be able to filter for your branded impressions and clicks this way.

  • Email marketing: Total number of “clicks” from the emails you’ve sent. We do this over opens, because opens have become less reliable; some email clients now technically open your emails before you do. Clicks in emails can be pulled from your email automation platform.

  • Social media: Engagements (link clicks, comments, likes and reposts) pulled from Sprout, or from each social platform’s native analytics. Do the same for paid engagements.

  • Google Ads/AdRoll/other ad platform: Interactions, or clicks, pulled from the ad platform of your choosing.

  • Website referrals: Referral traffic from Google Analytics (these are the people who encountered your brand on an external website and then engaged with it).

  • YouTube: Views from Youtube Analytics.

Once you’ve filled in this data, your spreadsheet will look more like this:

1676979054 594 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

Now you have some new insights that you can create pivot tables around. Let’s look at a few:

1. Engaged reach

This is the portion of your total estimated reach that has engaged with your brand. You want to see this climb every month.

1676979054 888 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

2. Engagement rate

This is the percentage of your estimated reach that is engaging with your brand. This is arguably your most important metric — the one you should be working to increase every month. The higher that percent, the more efficient use you’re making of the reach you have.

1676979055 244 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

3. Engagement rate by channel

This shows you the channels with your highest engagement rate for the current month. You can use this to flag channels that are giving you what we might call “bad” or “inefficient” reach. It affirmed our decision, for instance, to drop an entire display channel (AdRoll) in favor of another (Google Display). Month after month, we saw low engagement rates on the former. Diverting our spend away from that display channel slightly increased our cost per thousand impressions, but the added cost was more than offset by a higher engagement rate.

1676979055 649 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

4. Winners and losers month-over-month

You can do this as a direct comparison for reach or for engagement. The chart below is a comparison of engagements between October (blue) and November (red). We always want the red (most recent color) to be bigger than the blue (unless, of course, you’ve pulled resources or spend from a particular channel, e.g., paid Instagram in the chart below):

1676979056 671 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

5. Correlation data

This is where we get a little deeper into the funnel, and find some fascinating insights. There are many ways to search for correlations, and some of them are just common sense. For example, we noticed that our YouTube reach skyrocketed in a particular month. After looking into it, we determined that this was a result of running video ads on Google.

But reach and engagements’ most important relationships are to leads and, better yet, leads assigned to sales reps. Here’s an example using five months of our own data:

1676979056 322 How to Use Estimated Brand Reach as a Meaningful Marketing

While we still need more data (5 months isn’t enough to close the book on these relationships), our current dataset suggests a few things:

  • More reach usually means more engagement. There’s a strong relationship between reach and engagement.

  • More reach usually means more lead gen. There’s a moderate relationship between reach and lead gen.

  • More engagement almost always means more lead gen. There is a very strong relationship between engagement and lead gen.

  • More engagement almost always means more assigned leads. There’s a strong relationship between engagement and leads that actually get assigned to sales people.

  • More lead gen almost always means more assigned leads. There’s a very strong relationship between lead gen and leads getting assigned to sales people.

This is just one of the ways we’ve sliced and diced the data, and it barely skims the surface of how you can evaluate your own brand reach and brand engagement data.

6. Collaborating with other marketers on your team

Some of the relationships and correlations are subtler, in the sense that they relate to specific levers pulled on specific channels.

For example, we were able to figure out that we can increase branded search by running broad-match-keyword Google paid search campaigns, specifically.

The only reason we know this is that we meet as a team regularly to look over this data, and we’re always debriefing one another on the types of actions we’re taking on different campaigns. This structured, frequent communication helps us pull insights from the data, and from each other, that we’d otherwise never uncover.

Why this work is so worth doing

If at some point while reading this article you’ve thought, “dang, this seems like a lot of work,” you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But you wouldn’t be right, either.

Because most of the actual work happens upfront — figuring out exactly which channels you’ll track, and how you’ll track them, and building out the pivot tables that will help you visualize your data month after month.

Pulling the data is a monthly activity, and once you have your methods documented (write down EVERYTHING, because a month is a long time to remember precisely how you’ve pulled data), it’s pretty easy.

One person on our team spends about one hour per month pulling this data, and then I spend maybe another two hours analyzing it, plus 15 minutes or so presenting it at the start of each month.

We’ve only been doing this for about half a year, but it’s already filled gaps in our reporting, and it’s provided us with clues on multiple occasions of where things might be going wrong, and where we should be doubling down on our efforts.

Eventually, we even hope to help use this as a forecasting tool, by understanding the relationship between reach and sales meetings, but also reach and the most meaningful metric of all: revenue.

How cool would that be?

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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.

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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.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

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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