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How to Write Simple Queries

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How to Write Simple Queries

Ever heard of SQL? You may have heard about it in the context of data analysis, but never thought it would apply to you as a marketer. Or, you may have thought, “That’s for the advanced data users. I could never do that.”

Well, you couldn’t be more wrong! The most successful marketers are data-driven, and one of the most important parts of being data-driven is collecting data from databases quickly. SQL is the most popular tool out there for doing just that.

If your company already stores data in a database, you may need to learn SQL to access the data. But not to worry — you’re in the right place to get started. Let’s jump right in.

Why Use SQL?

SQL (often pronounced like “sequel”) stands for Structured Query Language, and it’s used when companies have a ton of data that they want to manipulate. The beauty of SQL is that anyone working at a company that stores data in a relational database can use it. (And chances are, yours does.)

For example, if you work for a software company and want to pull usage data on your customers, you can do that with SQL. If you’re helping develop a website for an ecommerce company that has data about customer purchases, you can use SQL to find out which customers are purchasing which products. Of course, these are just a few of many possible applications.

Think about it this way: Have you ever opened a very large data set in Excel, only for your computer to freeze or even shut down? SQL allows you to access only certain parts of your data at a time so you don’t have to download all the data into a CSV, manipulate it, and possibly overload Excel. In other words, SQL takes care of the data analysis that you may be used to doing in Excel.

How to Write Simple SQL Queries

Before we begin, make sure you have a database management application that will allow you to pull data from your database. Some options include MySQL or Sequel Pro.

Start by downloading one of these options, then talk to your company’s IT department about how to connect to your database. The option you choose will depend on your product’s back end, so check with your product team to make sure you select the correct one.

Understand the hierarchy of your database

Next, it’s important to become accustomed to your database and its hierarchy. If you have multiple databases of data, you’ll need to hone in on the location of the data you want to work with.

For example, let’s pretend we’re working with multiple databases about people in the United States. Enter the query “SHOW DATABASES;”. The results may show that you have a couple of databases for different locations, including one for New England.

Within your database, you’ll have different tables containing the data you want to work with. Using the same example above, let’s say we want to find out which information is contained in one of the databases. If we use the query “SHOW TABLES in NewEngland;”, we’ll find that we have tables for each state in New England: people_connecticut, people_maine, people_massachusetts, people_newhampshire, people_rhodeisland, and people_vermont.

Finally, you need to find out which fields are in the tables. Fields are the specific pieces of data that you can pull from your database. For example, if you want to pull someone’s address, the field name may not just be “address” — it may be separated into address_city, address_state, address_zip. In order to figure this out, use the query “Describe people_massachusetts;”. This provides a list of all of the data that you can pull using SQL.

Let’s do a quick review of the hierarchy using our New England example:

  • Our database is: NewEngland.
  • Our tables within that database are: people_connecticut, people_maine, people_massachusetts, people_newhampshire, people_rhodeisland, and people_vermont.
  • Our fields within the people_massachusetts table include: address_city, address_state, address_zip, hair_color, age, first_name, and last_name.

Now, let’s write some simple SQL queries to pull data from our NewEngland database.

Basic SQL Queries

To learn how to write a SQL query, let’s use the following example:

Who are the people who have red hair in Massachusetts and were born in 2003 organized in alphabetical order?

SELECT

SELECT chooses the fields that you want displayed in your chart. This is the specific piece of information that you want to pull from your database. In the example above, we want to find the people who fit the rest of the criteria.

Here is our SQL query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

;

FROM

FROM pinpoints the table that you want to pull the data from. In the earlier section, we learned that there were six tables for each of the six states in New England: people_connecticut, people_maine, people_massachusetts, people_newhampshire, people_rhodeisland, and people_vermont. Because we’re looking for people in Massachusetts specifically, we’ll pull data from that specific table.

Here is our SQL query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

;

WHERE

WHERE allows you to filter a query to be more specific. In our example, we want to filter our query to include only people with red hair who were born in 2003. Let’s start with the red hair filter.

Here is our SQL query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color=”red”

;

hair_color could have been part of your initial SELECT statement if you’d wanted to look at all of the people in Massachusetts along with their hair color. But if you want to filter to see only people with red hair, you can do so with a WHERE statement.

BETWEEN

Besides equals (=), BETWEEN is another operator you can use for conditional queries. A BETWEEN statement is true for values that fall between the specified minimum and maximum values.

In our case, we can use BETWEEN to pull records from a specific year, like 2003. Here’s the query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

;

AND

AND allows you to add additional criteria to your WHERE statement. Remember, we want to filter by people who had red hair in addition to people who were born in 2003. Since our WHERE statement is taken up by the red hair criteria, how can we filter by a specific year of birth as well?

That’s where the AND statement comes in. In this case, the AND statement is a date property — but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. (Note: Check the format of your dates with your product team to make sure they are in the correct format.)

Here is our SQL query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color=”red”

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

;

OR

OR can also be used with a WHERE statement. With AND, both conditions must be true to appear in results (e.g., hair color must be red and must be born in 2003). With OR, either condition must be true to appear in results (e.g., hair color must be red or must be born in 2003).

Here’s what an OR statement looks like in action:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color = ‘red’

OR

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

;

NOT

NOT is used in a WHERE statement to display values in which the specified condition is untrue. If we wanted to pull up all Massachusetts residents without red hair, we can use the following query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE NOT

     hair_color = ‘red’

;

ORDER BY

Calculations and organization also can be done within a query. That’s where the ORDER BY and GROUP BY functions come in. First, we’ll look at our SQL queries with the ORDER BY and then GROUP BY functions. Then, we’ll take a brief look at the difference between the two.

An ORDER BY clause allows you to sort by any of the fields that you have specified in the SELECT statement. In this case, let’s order by last name.

Here is our SQL query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color = ‘red’

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

ORDER BY

     last_name

;

GROUP BY

GROUP BY is similar to ORDER BY, but aggregates data that has similarities. For example, if you have any duplicates in your data, you can use GROUP BY to count the number of duplicates in your fields.

Here is your SQL query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color = ‘red’

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

GROUP BY

     last_name

;

ORDER BY VS. GROUP BY

To show the difference between an ORDER BY statement and a GROUP BY statement, let’s step outside our Massachusetts example briefly to look at a very simple dataset. Below is a list of four employees’ ID numbers and names.

a table of four names and IDs as a result of sql queries

If we were to use an ORDER BY statement on this list, the names of the employees would get sorted in alphabetical order. The result would look like this:

a table of four names and IDs as a result of sql queries with the name Peter appearing twice at the bottom

If we were to use a GROUP BY statement instead, the employees would be counted based on the number of times they appeared in the initial table. Note that Peter appeared twice in the initial table, so the result would look like this:

sql query examples: a table of three names and IDs

With me so far? Okay, let’s return to the SQL query we’ve been creating about red-haired people in Massachusetts who were born in 2003.

LIMIT

Depending on the amount of data you have in your database, it may take a long time to run your queries. This can be frustrating, especially if you’ve made an error in your query and now need to wait before continuing. If you want to test a query, the LIMIT function lets you limit the number of results you get.

For example, if we suspect there are thousands of people who have red hair in Massachusetts, we may want to test out our query using LIMIT before we run it in full to make sure we’re getting the information we want. Let’s say, for instance, we only want to see the first 100 people in our result.

Here is our SQL query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color = ‘red’

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

ORDER BY

     last_name

LIMIT

     100

;

INSERT INTO

In addition to retrieving information from a relational database, SQL can also be used to modify the contents of a database. Of course, you’ll need permissions to make changes to your company’s data. But, in case you’re ever in charge of managing the contents of a database, we’ll share some queries you should know.

First is the INSERT INTO statement, which is for putting new values into your database. If we want to add a new person to the Massachusetts table, we can do so by first providing the name of the table we want to modify, and the fields within the table we want to add to. Next, we write VALUE with each respective value we want to add.

Here’s what that query could look like:

INSERT INTO

  people_massachusetts (address_city, address_state, address_zip, hair_color, age, first_name, last_name)

VALUES

  (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139, blonde, 32, Jane, Doe)

;

Alternatively, if you are adding a value to every field in the table, you don’t need to specify fields. The values will be added to columns in the order that they are listed in the query.

INSERT INTO

  people_massachusetts

VALUES

  (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139, blonde, 32, Jane, Doe)

;

If you only want to add values to specific fields, you must specify these fields. Say we only want to insert a record with first_name, last_name, and address_state — we can use the following query:

INSERT INTO

  people_massachusetts (first_name, last_name, address_state)

VALUES

  (Jane, Doe, Massachusetts)

;

UPDATE

If you want to replace existing values in your database with different values, you can use UPDATE. What if, for example, someone is recorded in the database as having red hair when they actually have brown hair? We can update this record with UPDATE and WHERE statements:

UPDATE

  people_massachusetts

SET

  hair_color = ‘brown’

WHERE

  first_name = ‘Jane’

AND

  last_name = ‘Doe’

;

Or, say there’s a problem in your table where some values for “address_state” appear as “Massachusetts” and others appear as “MA”. To change all instances of “MA” to “Massachusetts” we can use a simple query and update multiple records at once:

UPDATE

  people_massachusetts

SET

  address_state = ‘Massachusetts’

WHERE

   address_state = MA

;

Be careful when using UPDATE. If you don’t specify which records to change with a WHERE statement, you’ll change all values in the table.

DELETE

DELETE removes records from your table. Like with UPDATE, be sure to include a WHERE statement, so you don’t accidentally delete your entire table.

Or, if we happened to find several records in our people_massachusetts table who actually lived in Maine, we can delete these entries quickly by targeting the address_state field, like so:

DELETE FROM

  people_massachusetts

WHERE

  address_state = ‘maine’

;

Bonus: Advanced SQL Tips

Now that you’ve learned how to create a simple SQL query, let’s discuss some other tricks that you can use to take your queries up a notch, starting with the asterisk.

* (asterisk)

When you add an asterisk character to your SQL query, it tells the query that you want to include all the columns of data in your results.

In the Massachusetts example we’ve been using, we’ve only had two column names: first_name and last_name. But let’s say we had 15 columns of data that we want to see in our results — it would be a pain to type all 15 column names in the SELECT statement. Instead, if you replace the names of those columns with an asterisk, the query will know to pull all of the columns into the results.

Here’s what the SQL query would look like:

SELECT

     *

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color=”red”

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

ORDER BY

     last_name

LIMIT

     100

;

% (percent symbol)

The percent symbol is a wildcard character, meaning it can represent one or more characters in a database value. Wildcard characters are helpful for locating records that share common characters. They are typically used with the LIKE operator to find a pattern in the data.

For instance, if we wanted to get the names of every person in our table whose zip code begins with “02”, we can write this query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

WHERE

  address_zip LIKE ‘02%’

;

Here, “%” stands in for any group of digits that follow “02”, so this query turns up any record with a value for address_zip that begins with “02”.

LAST 30 DAYS

Once I started using SQL regularly, I found that one of my go-to queries involved trying to find which people took an action or fulfilled a certain set of criteria within the last 30 days.

Let’s pretend today is December 1, 2021. You could create these parameters by making the birth_date span between November 1, 2021 and November 30, 2021. That SQL query would look like this:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color=”red”

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2021-11-01’ AND ‘2021-11-30’

ORDER BY

     last_name

LIMIT

     100

;

But, that would require thinking about which dates cover the last 30 days, and you’d have to update this query constantly.

Instead, to make the dates automatically span the last 30 days no matter which day it is, you can type this under AND: birth_date >= (DATE_SUB(CURDATE(),INTERVAL 30))

(Note: You’ll want to double-check this syntax with your product team because it may differ based on the software you use to pull your SQL queries.)

Your full SQL query would therefore look like this:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

WHERE

     hair_color=”red”

AND

     birth_date >= (DATE_SUB(CURDATE(),INTERVAL 30))

ORDER BY

     last_name

LIMIT

     100

;

COUNT

In some cases, you may want to count the number of times that a criterion of a field appears. For example, let’s say you want to count the number of times the different hair colors appear for the people you are tallying up from Massachusetts. In this case, COUNT will come in handy so you don’t have to manually add up the number of people who have different hair colors or export that information to Excel.

Here’s what that SQL query would look like:

SELECT

     hair_color,

     COUNT(hair_color)

FROM

     people_massachusetts

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

GROUP BY

     hair_color

;

AVG

AVG calculates the average of an attribute in the results of your query, excluding NULL values (empty). In our example, we could use AVG to calculate the average age of Massachusetts residents in our query.

Here’s what our SQL query could look like:

SELECT

  AVG(age)

FROM

  people_massachusetts

;

SUM

SUM is another simple calculation you can do in SQL. It calculates the total value of all attributes from your query. So, if we wanted to add up all the ages of Massachusetts residents, we can use this query:

SELECT

  SUM(age)

FROM

  people_massachusetts

;

MIN and MAX

MIN and MAX are two SQL functions that give you the smallest and largest values of a given field. We can use it to identify the oldest and youngest members of our Massachusetts table:

This query will give us the record of the oldest:

SELECT

  MIN(age)

FROM

  people_massachusetts

;

And this query gives us the oldest:

SELECT

  MAX(age)

FROM

  people_massachusetts

;

JOIN

There may be a time when you need to access information from two different tables in one SQL query. In SQL, you can use a JOIN clause to do this.

(For those familiar with Excel formulas, this is similar to using the VLOOKUP formula when you need to combine information from two different sheets in Excel.)

Let’s say we have one table that has data of all Massachusetts residents’ user IDs and their birthdates. In addition, we have an entirely separate table containing all Massachusetts residents’ user IDs and their hair color.

If we want to figure out the hair color of Massachusetts residents born in the year 2003, we’d need to access information from both tables and combine them. This works because both tables share a matching column: user IDs.

Because we’re calling out fields from two different tables, our SELECT statement is also going to change slightly. Instead of just listing out the fields we want to include in our results, we’ll need to specify which table they’re coming from. (Note: The asterisk function may come in handy here so your query includes both tables in your results.)

To specify a field from a specific table, all we have to do is combine the name of the table with the name of the field. For example, our SELECT statement would say “table.field” — with the period separating the table name and the field name.

We’re also assuming a few things in this case:

  1. The Massachusetts birthdate table includes the following fields: first_name, last_name, user_id, birthdate
  2. The Massachusetts hair color table includes the following fields: user_id, hair_color

Your SQL query would therefore look like:

SELECT

     birthdate_massachusetts.first_name,

     birthdate_massachusetts.last_name

FROM

     birthdate_massachusetts JOIN haircolor_massachusetts USING (user_id)

WHERE

     hair_color=”red”

AND

     birth_date BETWEEN ‘2003-01-01’ AND ‘2003-12-31’

ORDER BY

     last_name

;

This query would join the two tables using the field “user_id” which appears in both the birthdate_massachusetts table and the haircolor_massachusetts table. You’re then able to see a table of people born in 2003 who have red hair.

CASE

Use a CASE statement when you want to return different results to your query based on which condition is met. Conditions are evaluated in order. Once a condition is met, the corresponding result is returned and all following conditions are skipped over.

You can include an ELSE condition at the end in case no conditions are met. Without an ELSE, the query will return NULL if no conditions are met.

Here’s an example of using CASE to return a string based on the query:

SELECT

     first_name,

     last_name

FROM

     people_massachusetts

CASE

  WHEN hair_color = ‘brown’ THEN ‘This person has brown hair.’

  WHEN hair_color = ‘blonde’ THEN ‘This person has blonde hair.’

  WHEN hair_color = ‘red’ THEN ‘This person has red hair.’

  ELSE ‘Hair color not known.’

END

;

Basic SQL Queries Marketers Should Know

Congratulations. you’re ready to run your own SQL queries! While there’s a lot more you can do with SQL, I hope you found this overview of the basics helpful so you can get your hands dirty. With a strong foundation of the basics, you’ll be able to navigate SQL better and work toward some of the more complex examples.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 25 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Published

on

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.

​​

via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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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How to Buy Ads on Netflix: Specs & Tactics for Marketers

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How to Buy Ads on Netflix: Specs & Tactics for Marketers

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By Emily Sullivan

Netflix, the streaming giant known for binge-watching and award-winning originals, sent shockwaves through the industry in 2022 by announcing an ad-supported tier. This move was likely fueled by a desire to reach new audiences, combat rising subscription costs, and potentially even fend off competition from other OTT platforms. These ads could lead to strong growth potential with advertisers eager to tap into Netflix’s massive user base. 

If you’re unfamiliar with how Netflix works, it’s important to know that Netflix is an OTT (Over-the-Top) platform, meaning it delivers streaming content directly over the internet, bypassing traditional cable or satellite providers. It’s one of the most popular OTT platforms globally, but in the ad supported video on demand (AVOD) space, Netflix is a relative newcomer. Understanding this new facet of Netflix is crucial for marketers looking to capitalize on this advertising opportunity.

Interested in learning more about Netflix and its advertising offerings? You came to the right place. In this post, we’ll cover the foundational elements of Netflix ads including ad types, specs, advertising best practices, and more. 

Why Did Netflix Start Offering Ads?

In November 2022, Netflix introduced an ad-supported tier. This move marked a significant shift, as Netflix was previously known for its commitment to an ad-free experience. The decision likely stemmed from a desire to tap into new revenue streams. With consumers increasingly cost-conscious, an ad-supported tier provided a way to attract budget-minded viewers while still offering a premium ad-free option, similar to established AVOD providers like Hulu and Peacock.

Initially, the launch was off to a slower start, with few people signing up for the ad supported tier and Netflix failing to meet guarantees, but things are quickly turning around and savvy advertisers are taking notice. Netflix boasts a massive user base, with roughly 270 million paid subscribers – a household name with immense reach. In fact, 40% of new Netflix sign-ups are choosing the ad-supported tier, translating to a total of 40 million users. Netflix’s ad platform presents a unique opportunity for marketers looking to reach a large and engaged audience.

“Our goal isn’t just to offer the same products and tools the industry has come to expect — although we’ve made a lot of progress on that front over the last year. It’s to build something bigger and better than what exists today. We want to shape the future of advertising on Netflix and help marketers tap into the amazing fandom generated by our must-watch shows and movies.”

Amy ReinhardPresident, Advertising at Netflix

How to Start Advertising on Netflix

So, you’re interested in capitalizing on Netflix’s massive audience? Here’s a breakdown of the three main ways to buy ads on their platform:

1. Netflix Ads Manager

This platform, powered by Microsoft, allows you to directly purchase ad space on Netflix. However, be prepared to meet their minimum spending requirements, which can be substantial and offer little room for negotiation.

2. Partnering with an Agency

While the minimum spend might be high for direct buys, streaming agencies like Tinuiti can be a valuable asset. They can not only help you navigate the intricacies of Netflix advertising, but also:

  • Consolidate Streaming Data: The streaming landscape is fragmented, with viewers spread across multiple platforms. Agencies can collect data from these various platforms and turn it into a unified, actionable strategy for your advertising campaign.
  • Expertise and Negotiation: Agencies bring a wealth of experience to the table. They can leverage their knowledge of the advertising landscape and potentially negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf.

3. Ad Tech Partners

Companies like Microsoft offer ad tech solutions that provide technical capabilities to streamline your advertising efforts. These partners typically take a more hands-off approach compared to agencies, focusing on the technical aspects of ad delivery and optimization.

The best option depends on your budget, experience level, and campaign goals. If you’re a large brand with a significant budget and an in-house marketing team, going directly through Netflix Ads Manager might be a good fit. However, for most businesses, partnering with an agency or ad tech provider can offer valuable support and expertise.

Ad Types & Specs for Netflix Ads

Now that you understand the different avenues for buying ads on Netflix, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of ad formats and specifications:

Netflix Ad Types

Example of a Netflix Ad Featuring Smartfood and Love is Blind

Currently, Netflix offers two main ad types, pre-roll ads and mid-roll ads. Netflix notes that users can expect to see a few short ads per hour and that they aim to place ads during natural plot breaks for a more seamless experience.   

Let’s take a look at each option… 

  • Pre-roll Ads: These commercials play before a program or movie begins, similar to traditional linear TV advertising.
  • Mid-roll Ads: These ads appear in the middle of a program, typically inserted during natural breaks in the content.

During paused playback, ad breaks are displayed on the progress bar. As an ad break begins, the upper-right corner reveals the number of ads included in that break.

While Netflix advertising is fairly new, the platform has made a few important announcements to look out for in 2024. Netflix plans to introduce a new binge ad format for global advertisers, offering viewers an ad-free fourth episode after watching three consecutive episodes. Additionally, QR code integration in U.S. advertising will launch early in the year. Sponsorship opportunities, including Title, Moment, and Live Sponsorships, are also now available in the U.S. and will expand globally in 2024.

Netflix also offers live opportunities including WWE Raw (launching January 2025), which will air live on Netflix 52 weeks of the year, and the NFL Christmas games which Netflix just secured the rights to. These live events provide advertisers the opportunity to reach ad and ad-free members of Netflix in a live environment with traditional ad formats.

Last but not least, Netflix recently announced they are adding Pause Ads to their suite of custom ad units. This is currently in beta and is expected to be rolled out to the general marketplace in H2 2024.

Netflix Ad Specs

When it comes to advertising specs, it’s important to follow Netflix’s guidelines which include the following… 

  • Supported Lengths: Netflix accepts ads in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 60-second durations.
  • File Format: Ads must be submitted in MP4 or MOV format.
  • Aspect Ratio & Resolution: Maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of either 1920×1080 HD or 1280×720 HD.
  • QR Codes on the Horizon: Netflix is preparing to support QR code integration within commercials, allowing viewers to seamlessly access additional information or promotions.

Hot Tip: Stay tuned for updates, as Netflix is constantly evolving its ad platform.

Why Advertise on Netflix?

Advertising on Netflix offers several unique advantages for advertisers including… 

  • Massive Reach – Netflix boasts a massive subscriber base worldwide (globally, there were around 270 million Netflix subscribers in Q1 2024), providing advertisers with access to a vast and diverse audience. These viewers are often highly engaged, spending significant time on the platform consuming content. In fact, Over 70% of Netflix’s ad-supported members watch for more than 10 hours a month – which is 15 percentage points higher than the nearest competitor according to Nielsen.
  • Targeting – Netflix collects extensive data on user preferences and behavior, enabling precise targeting of advertisements based on demographics, interests, viewing history, and more. This targeted approach increases the relevance and effectiveness of ads, maximizing ROI for advertisers (more on this below).
  • Global Reach and Localization – With a presence in numerous countries around the world, Netflix offers advertisers the opportunity to reach audiences on a global scale. Additionally, the platform’s localization capabilities enable tailored advertising campaigns to resonate with specific regional or cultural audiences.
  • Unskippable Ads – Unlike some streaming advertising platforms, Netflix ads are unskippable, guaranteeing your message reaches viewers.
  • Positive User Experience – Netflix prioritizes a positive user experience, so it’s unlikely viewers will see the same ad twice in a single episode. However, there’s a chance you might encounter the same ad later during your viewing session. It’s also important to note that children’s profiles maintain their ad-free experience.
  • Ad Delivery & Blocking – Since ads are delivered server-side, ad blockers are ineffective on Netflix. Additionally, playback automatically pauses if you minimize the window while an ad is playing, ensuring your message is seen.

Best Practices When Advertising on Netflix

When advertising on Netflix, it’s essential to understand the platform’s unique capabilities and audience targeting options to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns. Check out a few best practices you need to consider… 

Explore Audience Targeting Capabilities

Netflix offers several audience targeting capabilities for advertisers on their ad-supported tier. These capabilities focus on three main areas: demographics, viewing habits, and content context. Here’s a breakdown:

Demographics:

  • Age: Advertisers can target users by age groups, like 18-34, 35+, etc.
  • Gender: Ads can be shown to specific genders (male or female).
  • Location: Targeting can be set by country or even state (in the U.S.).

Viewing Habits:

  • Genre: This lets advertisers target users based on the genres they watch, like comedy, drama, action, etc.

Content Context:

  • Top 10: Ads can be placed before or after shows and movies on Netflix’s daily Top 10 list, ensuring high visibility.

Advertisers also have the option to choose where they don’t want their ads to appear. For example, they can avoid showing ads on programs with mature themes or content that may not align with their brand values.

By using a combination of these targeting options, advertisers can reach a more precise audience interested in their product or service. This increases the ad’s relevance to viewers and potentially improves the ad campaign’s effectiveness.

It’s also important to note that Netflix now has the ability to target advertiser first party data. The platform currently has two approved DMPs: Liveramp or Adobe. Advertisers who work with either of these DMPs can upload first party data for targeting or suppression.

It’s important to note that Netflix’s ad targeting is still evolving. While it doesn’t offer some of the more advanced options found on other platforms, they are working on expanding their capabilities.

Test Your Ad Creative

Just like any other marketing campaign, testing your ad creative on Netflix is vital for optimizing performance. Here are some key reasons to test your ads:

  • Discover What Works: Testing allows you to compare different ad variations and identify which elements resonate most with your target audience. This could involve testing variations in messaging, visuals, calls to action, or even ad length.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Testing provides valuable data and insights. You can track metrics like click-through rates, completion rates, and brand recall to see which ad versions generate the best results. Don’t rely on guesswork. Testing helps you move beyond assumptions and identify what truly connects with viewers.
  • Meet Audience Expectations: Netflix viewers anticipate premium content, including ads. Testing ad creative ensures that your commercials meet these expectations by delivering high-quality, engaging content that resonates with the audience.
  • Optimize Performance: Testing allows you to refine your ad creative to achieve optimal performance. By experimenting with different elements such as messaging, visuals, and calls to action, you can identify the most effective combinations that drive engagement and conversion.
  • Enhance Relevance: Testing helps ensure that your ad creative remains relevant to your target audience. By continuously testing and refining your approach, you can adapt to changing consumer preferences and market trends, ensuring that your ads stay impactful and resonant.
  • Maximize ROI: Effective testing enables you to make data-driven decisions that maximize ROI. By identifying and scaling the best-performing ad creative, you can allocate your advertising budget more efficiently and achieve greater results.

Measure and Analyze Your Results

Netflix doesn’t offer 1:1 conversion measurement for ad buyers (yet) – but they do have brand awareness and lift studies they offer advertisers so keep this in mind when measuring and analyzing your results. 

The platform did recently announce that this summer, Netflix will expand its buying capabilities to include The Trade Desk, Google’s Display & Video 360, and Magnite who will join Microsoft as the main programmatic partners for advertisers.

Starting in the second half of 2024, Netflix just announced that the following third party measurement partners (partnering to measure and verify the impact of advertiser campaigns) will also be added: Affinity Solutions, iSpotTV, NCSolutions, Videoamp, DCM and TVision.

They also announced Netflix will launch an in-house advertising technology platform, by the end of 2025. This will give advertisers new ways to buy, new insights to leverage, and new ways to measure impact. 

Is Netflix Advertising Right For Your Brand?

Overall, Netflix advertising offers the unparalleled reach of a massive, highly-engaged audience. This can be a strategic choice for brands seeking broad awareness and brand association with premium content.

If you’re interested in exploring advertising opportunities on Netflix for your brand, consider reaching out to the Tinuiti team. Our expertise can provide guidance and assistance in navigating the complexities of advertising on the platform, maximizing your campaign’s effectiveness and ROI. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase your brand on one of the world’s largest streaming platforms—connect with Tinuiti today to get started.

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Xngage and HawkSearch join forces with a powerful connector

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Xngage and HawkSearch join forces with a powerful connector

The bar has been set by the industry leaders in UX and Merchandising, and our customers have stated their claim clearly – “to grow our market share, we must have an enterprise search experience that drives conversions.

Optimizely offers baseline search experiences within our commerce platform, which are designed to help companies get started with organizing and delivering SKUs to customers. These experiences utilize out-of-the-box algorithms and methods for sorting, categorizing, and customizing.

While Optimizely provides a foundation for search experiences, we knew there were users ready to take their search capabilities to the next level. This is where the Xngage and HawkSearch partnership promises to redefine how you approach search-driven experiences within Optimizely Configured Commerce. Our highly experienced partner Xngage has developed a seamless integration connector, a best-in-class accelerator for harnessing the power of HawkSearch.

The powerful partner in search

HawkSearch is known for its expertise in search-driven engagement, AI-powered product discovery, and no-code customizations. With a strong history of serving B2B customers with enterprise-level search solutions, it was a perfect choice to make HawkSearch directly available within Optimizely’s platform.

The expertise of Xngage made this connector a reality enabling Optimizely’s Configured Commerce customers to:

  • Easily plug directly into the HawkSearch service to share your products and their relevant data.
  • Utilize powerful unit of measure conversions, ensuring your customers can find exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Customize sorting and facets to deliver highly relevant results to customers.
  • Craft a personalized user experience with features like auto-complete and the new ‘instant engage’.

Customers can further explore HawkSearch’s capabilities in this on demand webinar and recap, which highlights the benefits and use cases of the Xngage connector for HawkSearch.

A powerful partner in digital growth

Xngage complements Optimizely perfectly, as they deliver robust solutions in the realm of digital content and commerce experiences. The development of the Xngage connector to HawkSearch is a part of their broader mission to empower manufacturers and distributors to serve their customers digitally. This alignment seamlessly fits with Optimizely, making our partnership with Xngage an ideal choice. 

Furthering their goal of digital growth, Xngage offers a range of holistic and complementary professional services, including:

  • User research & user experience design (UX)
  • Enterprise architecture & ERP integration
  • Product information management (PIM)
  • Ecommerce Implementations, and digital growth services.

To learn more about this highly experienced digital commerce partner visit Xngage.com.

The future of the partnership

This partnership is just the beginning. Xngage and HawkSearch are committed to working hand in hand to empower you with the tools and insights you need to elevate your ecommerce site. Stay tuned for future blogs, webinars, and resources that will help you make the most of this transformative alliance.

The future of ecommerce search has never looked more promising, and we’re excited to have you on this journey with us.

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