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How To Write an Exceptional White Paper for Your B2B Brand

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How To Write an Exceptional White Paper for Your B2B Brand

Every step of a white paper needs to help your reader to make an informed decision.

It must match your marketing challenges, be structured to generate leads, address your target audience, define the scope, present evidence, offer a conclusion, and contain an effective call to action. Then it needs a proven argument and a logical structure to hold together.

Too many marketers skip some – or all – of these steps. How can you make sure your white paper is one that your prospects will turn to time and time again?

Here are seven steps to creating a white paper that attracts attention and influences readers.

1. Pick the right type

Choosing the type based on your target audience is the best way to match your white paper with your marketing goals. Gordon Graham, author of White Papers for Dummies, has written over 300 white papers for companies like Google and Verizon.

Choose the most suitable white paper type based on your target audience, says @WhitePaperGuy via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

He says that, fundamentally, there are three types of white papers:

  • Problem-solution
  • Numbered list or listicle
  • Product backgrounder

Let’s look at how each of these types works:

Problem-solution white papers generate leads

“(These white papers are) the most powerful for generating fresh leads at the start of the customer journey because prospects will Google their problem, not your product name,” Gordon says.

The problem-solution type allows you to walk through the drawbacks, limitations, unintended consequences, and tradeoffs of traditional solutions. For example, consider this white paper from Kinaxis, How CIOs Can Improve Supply Chain Management. It details four limitations of legacy planning, such as unsophisticated forecasts.

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Kinaxis focuses on business and technical limitations to show it understands the industry. This helps buyers compare and contrast alternatives.

Numbered lists or listicles get attention and nurture prospects

Numbered lists present a set of issues, points, questions, or tips. “The listicle is best for engaging or re-engaging a prospect in the middle of their customer journey,” Gordon explains.

For example, this white paper from officemorph, 13 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Out Your Next Office, runs through common mistakes to cast doubt on alternative solutions and specify the ideal selection criteria. For example, mistake one is bidding out the project.

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Product backgrounders support a product launch or evaluation

“This type goes into the features and benefits of a specific offering, and that’s fine as long as you don’t put it in front of prospects too early in their journey before they want it. Then, it’s just a sales pitch,” Gordon says.

This example from Explorance, Analyzing Student Comments in Online Course Evaluations with Blue Text Analytics, details the problem and technical advantages of a specific production solution to help the reader. In this excerpt, the company addresses the challenge of inputting open-ended comments by defining them, explaining how it’s gathered, and detailing the benefits it provides.

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In this type of white paper, you design it to match your goals. “See how that works? And why you have to use the right type at the right point in the customer journey?” Gordon says.

“So when you find a product-focused white paper, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’re easier to do. But they will flop at lead-gen or engagement if that’s the only type a company ever does.”

2. Structure it to generate leads

A good white paper follows a structure. Brian Boys, author of How to Write a White Paper in One Day, has more than 25 years of experience writing white papers.

“It’s not just having a detailed outline before you start writing – that’s important. But it’s knowing exactly how each part of the white paper functions in sequence,” he says. “The job of each section is to convince the reader on a particular point and then compel them to read the next section.”

The job of each section in a white paper is to convince the reader on a particular point and then compel them to read the next section, says @BrianBoys via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Kinaxis follows a fairly typical white paper structure for How CIOs Can Improve Supply Chain Management. Look closely and notice it:

  • Covers market drivers contributing to the reader’s problem
  • Scopes a problem occurring when the solution is not used
  • Provides a historical overview reviewing traditional solutions
  • Identifies a recommended solution but never mentions a company or product name
  • Includes the benefits relevant to the reader’s problem
  • Creates a checklist of what to look for in the new solution
  • Introduces a call to action to move the reader to the next step

Though Kinaxis chose not to write about its solution, Citrix does this well in Think Beyond File Storage to Accelerate Business Efficiency. It explains how its ShareFile and Right Signature products give access to all files through a single, secure portal, give control over data sprawl, automate workflows, boost productivity, take advantage of flexible storage, and gather accurate document feedback and approvals.

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You can also use a generic example or case study to illustrate real scenarios, as Shopkick does in its white paper, What Top CPG Brands Have To Teach Us About Successful Product Launches. For example, part of the white paper includes a case study about rethinking traditional store positioning, detailing the topic, going behind the scenes, and describing related roadblocks.

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“You must have a clear foundation and canvas to paint on,” says Sarah Greesonbach, founder of the B2B Writing Institute.

“With a standard structure doing 60% of the work for you – organizing your notes, outlining your thoughts, providing a persuasive argument – then you can roll back on your heels and study the topic, crafting content that is the product of deep thought.”

With a standard white paper structure doing 60% of the work, you can roll back on your heels and study the topic, says @B2BWritingInst via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

3. Craft an attention-grabbing title

If choosing the most relevant white paper type is the best way to persuade readers, then crafting a powerful title is how you compel them to read it.

This is a point that Robert Bly, author of The Copywriter’s Handbook, has been writing about for four decades. “Strong titles can help you gain the reader’s attention, select the audience, communicate an important message, and draw the prospect into your white paper,” he says.

Strong titles can help you gain the reader’s attention, select the audience, communicate an important message, and draw the prospect into your white paper, says @Robertbly via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For example, Gartner crafted a highly specific headline for its white paper (gated), What Midsize Enterprise CIOs Need to Know About Composable ERP:

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It identifies the ideal reader (CIOs), the target market (midsize enterprise), and the subject (composable ERP). Then the audience is propelled into a sense of urgency by a call to action that sits in the present tense (need to know).

Although Gartner’s title doesn’t flag benefits or outcomes, it creates curiosity to pull the reader into the content. CIOs will want to find out what it is that they “need to know” to support their business. They are drawn to the content to satisfy their curiosity.

If your target reader doesn’t find any relevance in your title after a few seconds, they will move on, no matter how valuable your white paper.

4. Write a persuasive executive summary

Once you have your reader’s attention, an executive summary is how you help them to recognize their problem so that they can solve it.

Rachel Foster, CEO of Fresh Perspective Copywriting, has spent years writing white papers to help B2B technology marketers generate high-quality leads. She says, “The two most common executive summaries used in white papers are the preview and the synopsis.”

Provide a teaser preview

“It often discusses the market drivers and challenges that make the topic relevant,” Rachel says. “Then, it hints at what the reader will learn without giving away the bulk of the content.”

For example, consider this preview executive summary in Simply NUC’s white paper (not available online), Will a Mini PC Give You the Power You Need to Run Your Organization?  It walks top-of-the-funnel readers through the market context (need to increase productivity), the problem (inefficient computers), its implications for businesses (energy-wasting), and promises a solution (mini PCs).

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Publish a synopsis

“A synopsis provides an overview of the white paper’s content, including the recommended solution,” Rachel explains. This works better for bottom-of-the-funnel audiences because they are ready to buy.

This example from another Simply NUC white paper, Mini PCs Offer Business Big Benefits (not available online), details the argument – from market context to the solution and results.

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Take the time to frame your choice of executive summary within your audience’s context, especially given the pace of change in marketing.

“I used to prefer preview summaries, as I didn’t want to give everything away,” Rachel says. “I now feel that the summary should provide key information upfront. If you withhold the most important information for later in the white paper, a large percentage of your audience may not read it.”

It’s a mistake to withhold the most important information until later in the white paper, a large percentage of your audience may not read it, says @B2BTechCopy via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

5. Present facts and evidence

A strong white paper convinces your audience with facts and evidence drawn from credible sources. Susan LaPoint, founder of Focal Point Content, has spent decades as a writer, editor, and content marketer. “When collecting evidence for a white paper, I find it useful to think like a journalist,” she says. “This means doing the research first to get a big picture view of the facts. Then I see how it relates to the story I’m telling.”

Find evidence for your white paper that reinforces the story you’re telling, says @SusanLaPoint via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

To persuade your reader, make sure the evidence is compelling. “Citing credible sources is key. I start by looking for original research – meaning from well-known research firms and publications,” Susan says. “You establish trust by including reliable data, as well as case studies and quotes from industry experts.”

Consider this white paper, Unlock the Agile Workspace from Six Degrees, which highlights key statistics and leverages industry sources and analysts such as the TUC, Gartner, PWC, and Deloitte. This image details the references used in the white paper with titles and links.

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You can find trustworthy sources by:

  • Using industry journals, leading analysts, and research reports
  • Searching authoritative industry sites for your topic keywords
  • Creating a list of sources that provide the best data that you refer to each time you write a white paper
  • Using research brand names as keywords such as “Gartner” or “IDC” to a Google search for your topic to quickly locate gated data in press releases

White papers are created to educate readers, so building trust by using recent research is best. Within the past two years is a good benchmark for fast-paced industries. “Trust is how you build your case and influence your reader to act,” Susan says.

6. Offer a conclusion

Once you have made your argument, think about what your key message is.

Sarah Mitchell, co-founder at Typeset, is an experienced white paper writer and content marketer. She says the goal of a white paper is to help your readers make an informed decision.

“If you’ve written persuasively throughout your white paper, the logical conclusion for the reader will be the exact product or service you offer,” Sarah says.

For example, Acquire’s white paper How Geoscience Data Can Shape the Future of Mining (gated) puts forward a conclusion that places its solution at the heart of the reader’s success. It explains how early adopters are well-placed for the future of mining and concludes by inviting the reader to send an email for more information and to schedule a meeting to discuss their data collection environment and how they can benefit from this solution.

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This conclusion speaks to the reader’s pain point –  keeping pace with market change – and offers a fundamental business case for the shift to integrated data capture.

Writing a conclusion that speaks directly to your target reader’s needs and motivations increases your chances of influencing them. “This is your opportunity to explicitly show your readers why your company is the smart choice by tying your offering back to the business case you’ve made,” Sarah says.

Use your white paper’s conclusion to explicitly show your readers why your company is the smart choice by tying your offering back to the business case you’ve made, says @SarahMitchellOz via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

7. Include a call to action

To give your white paper the best chance of moving the reader to the next step in the sales cycle, include a CTA.

Barry Feldman, founder of Feldman Creative, has 25 years of experience writing powerful lead magnets. “Put some thought into offering a clear and practical CTA at the conclusion of your white paper – or even within its pages,” he says.

“Often, a white paper is going to be a top-of-the-funnel piece,” Barry explains. “And, though it’s probably crafted to position your organization as an expert in its field, it’s also likely it was created to put readers on the path to resolving a specific challenge.”

Here are a few examples of CTAs that make it easy for the reader to take the next step:

  • Connect with an expert
  • Complete an application
  • Watch a video
  • Read a research report

You need to base your CTA on the readers’ needs and motivations. What action do they need to take to achieve their goal? What is the benefit to them? How do they get started?

Look at this CTA from Leadsquared (gated):

1659437376 468 How To Write an Exceptional White Paper for Your B2B

It identifies an action (schedule a free demo), a solution (patient-first platform), and the product or company (LeadSquared). Disclosing the demo is free and reduces friction.

The secret to a successful white paper CTA is to put the customer first. “As with all content, don’t be pushy. Be eager to address your reader’s pain point and be generous with your advice,” Barry says.

The secret to a successful white paper CTA is to not be pushy. Instead, address your reader’s pain point and be generous with your advice, says @FeldmanCreative via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Will your white paper succeed?

Not only can a white paper help you to add value to your reader – and subtly identify solutions that won’t – it also is a powerful addition to your content marketing strategy. A white paper can become the single resource that has the biggest impact on an organization’s buying decision as it is forwarded from stakeholder to stakeholder.

For marketers who want to establish meaningful thought leadership that generates leads, a white paper is the best way to attract and influence an audience.

 Register to attend Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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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.

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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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