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How Your Audience Could Shift in Web 3 [Executive Insights + Podcast Episode]

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If you work in tech, media, or even marketing, you’ve likely heard a lot of buzz around Web 3.

And, when filtering through all the noise about future versions of the internet, you might find it hard to differentiate all of the predictions from myths and reality. And, more importantly, if you’re likely asking questions like, “How could Web 3 impact my business?”, “Will I fall behind if I don’t get in on Web 3 now?”, and “Is Web 3 just built on hype?”

“When you’re listening to the news, or you’re on Twitter, and people are talking about NFTs and Web 3, it seems really abstract and futuristic and stupid. It’s really easy to naysay all of it. I get that,” says Kipp Bodnar, HubSpot CMO. “A lot of it is going to be crap. And a lot of it’s going to fall away.”

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But, Bodnar adds, “In the last version of the internet, your whole job was to make a product or value proposition 10 times better than it was before. In the next generation, the internet, it’s making something somebody thought was impossible possible.”

“And if you can’t pull that magic trick out as a business over the next 10, 20, or 30 years, you’re not going to exist. Because that is the game that’s going to change. Don’t think about the technology, think about the changing customer experience and that move from impossible to possible,” Bodnar says.

In this post, we’ll dive into the questions businesses are starting to ask about Web 3 and how it could impact the changing landscape.

To hear more about Web 3 from our very own CMO Kipp Bodnar, and our SVP of Marketing, Kieran Flanagan, you can also check out this episode of their podcast, Marketing Against the Grain (plus other episodes and interviews coming soon). 

Editor’s Note: This post goes more into detail on the impacts of Web 3. For a foundational post explaining what Web 3 is, check out our first piece on Web 3 here.

A Brief History of the Internet

When explaining the possible impacts of Web 3, it’s helpful to go back and look at how the previous evolutions of the internet impacted consumers and businesses. The graph below highlights just a few high-level characteristics of Web1, Web2, and Web 3 without getting overly technical.

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Web 1 (1983 to Early 2000s)

Web 2 (Early 2000s to Today)

Web 3 (The Next Internet Evolution)

Low-Speed

Enabled basic messaging, email, search queries, and PC-based web surfing.

High-Speed

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Offers advanced messaging/communication, video calling, streaming, social media, and early AR/VR.

Highest Speed

Decentralized on the blockchain. Could Enable extended reality, user-built platforms, coin/token incentives, and other experiences.

When the internet launched, it was essentially decentralized and many companies that focused on internet services had a slight leg up as many tech firms began to invest in it and learn what it could do. Today, the internet has become drastically centralized with companies like Google and Meta owning many of the platforms we visit each day.

Because consumers want growing control over their experience and are more hyper-connected to technology than ever, some describe Web 3 as “giving the internet back to the people”, as blockchain-built web experiences are often decentralized.

The image below shows how Web 3 infrastructure could compare to that of our current internet. While business owners and marketers that aren’t goaled around Web 3 investments don’t necessarily need to know all the technical lingo in the images below, this graphic essentially shows a more streamlined, centralized path from user to internet access while Web 3 will host a more complex, decentralized path that leverages blockchain technology.

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image comparing web 2 and web 3 framework

Source: Coinbase

While we won’t go too deep into the technology behind Web 3, you can find some great resources on the technical side of things with online courses – like this one from Coursera or this content from Reforge.

At this point, it’s still a bit too early to know how many of the predictions we’re seeing will come to light. And, if they do become a reality, they’ll likely require a learning curve and a long adoption lifecycle. Because of this, the move from Web 2 to Web 3 might be much slower and more gradual than some would expect.

But, even though we likely won’t see the entire internet change in one day, week, or year, we’ll still watch some Web 3 concepts, companies, and technology grow in the coming years — which could enable us to adopt it at a quicker pace.

Ultimately, you don’t need to ditch your current business plan to focus on major Web 3 investments just yet. But, there are concepts, consumer behaviors, and tech you might want to keep on your radar so your company can adapt if and when a wide-scale evolution happens.

Web 3 Concepts & Audience Shifts You Could See Soon

Full Web 3 implementation is far off, and we know a lot of SMB marketers don’t have any interest, technical bandwidth, or budget to dive into Web 3 complexities yet. And, that’s okay.

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But, if you put overwhelming technical lingo and wild predictions aside, the way consumers have optimistically buzzed-about Web 3’s potential shows just how much they’re ready to see the internet, businesses, and society evolve. And, even if your business plans to stay in the Web 2 world for the foreseeable future, you should still make note of how these shifts and growing web technology could impact your business.

Here are a few business shifts we’ll see soon, in part because of Web 3 development.

1. Consumers will want more say in the online products and platforms they use.

Right now, the platforms we use daily, like Google and Facebook are centralized. When you log on to a platform like Facebook, you’re exchanging web data with its Meta servers.

This means that Meta and its biggest stakeholders ultimately determine how Facebook works, user rules, how it uses your data, and how the UX changes over time. And, if Meta were to pull the plug on Facebook servers, it would disable usage for everyone.

Because of this, just a few key tech companies and big-name investment firms have a solid hold over many of the things we do and see online. And, in certain areas – as with data usage, social media feeds, search engines, or web experience – many users wish they had more say.

But, what if users were treated more like shareholders and could give input on how a platform worked, used their data, or built experiences for them? In a decentralized Web 3 world, some believe this could be possible.

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For example, some platforms, like metaverses will allow you to trade crypto, NFTs, non-crypto currency, or other items of value for a plot of land (or a stake in the platform). While large brands and investment firms would still likely own a majority stake in their platforms and serve as decision-makers for terms of use, users could at least personalize their experiences a bit more, or have more control over how the platform works for them.

While not all businesses will lean into decentralized platforms, those who do could put some key developments of their online products into the hands of loyal users or customers.

Giving users the ability to play a role in the evolution of platforms they use not only allows them to feel linked to a brand through a sense of ownership and trust, but it also allows you as a business owner to benefit from the ROI of user experience improvements the users themselves are making.

How Businesses Can Respond

Even if you aren’t ready for Web 3 investments, or never plan to invest in it at all, you can still take steps to make your audiences or customers feel like they have an impact on your business’s evolution. Here are a few smaller-scale ideas.

  • Introducing Product Developers to Customers: Oftentimes, sales and service are the only ones who talk to customers. But, product developers can learn a lot from meeting with a few loyal customers, listening to feedback, and learning about their pain points. In turn, the customer feels like their actionable and constructive feedback has been heard.
  • Customer Feedback Research: If your product development team prefers to look at more quantitative data, consider running a survey about your product and returning that feedback to marketing, sales, service, and product teams.
  • Report on Your Progress: After customers or prospects give you feedback, create a marketing plan highlighting the improvements you’ve made around your product after receiving feedback. This will show customers and prospects that you are acting on their needs and that they have a voice when they’d like to request changing something.
  • Customizable Features: Customization might not make your customers feel like stakeholders, but it does have similar benefits. When users can customize how online products look, feel, and work around their preferences and goals, they might feel more attachment to your product than one that allows no customization. Ask yourself, “Are there ways I can better help my customers make their own great experience with my offerings?”

Internet Users Will be Motivated by Incentives

While incentivization has been around for quite some time, blockchain technology will make it easier for brands to track and incentivize usership and community engagement in Web 3.

Imagine going on a website and being paid to spend time there, or logging into an app and receiving points that you can trade for something of value later – like cryptocurrency or even NFTs. These are the types of tactics that brands could potentially leverage to gain solid growth.

“When you think about the difference between the last generation, the internet and the next generation the internet – understand that it is a massive change in incentives and the ability to incentivize,” says Bodnar.

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Kieran Flanagan, HubSpot SVP of Marketing also explains, “In Web 2, for [gaining] leads and things like that, we had a cost per acquisition and freemium. You make the product free, so your cost per acquisition goes down.”

“In Web 3, I think your incentives drastically change that, again, because you have a flywheel effect through your incentives. I don’t know how it changes. … But I do think how you think about acquiring customers and the cost to doing that is greatly changed when you’re using these different incentives or tokens to build your business,” Flanagan adds.

Meanwhile, Bodnar added that incentivization will become more of an economic proposition in Web 3.

“While the cost of the old way of doing [acquisitions] is getting so high that you can take more risks to do the new way (because the old way is becoming untenable). And then, can I take that same amount of money, incentivize my community to drive referrals, and be advocates to spread word of mouth to drive the brand? And can I factor in customer acquisition cost on top of that?” Bodnar says.  

“We’re not going to give up customer acquisition cost,” Bodnar explains. “What we’re saying is, community acquisition cost is going to be the precursor. We’re going to figure out the economics of acquiring people through communities, and that customer acquisition cost is going to be basically an output metric of how effective our community strategy is.”

One example of a startup that’s already using digital incentivization (and is currently used by Flanagan) is STEPN, an app that rewards you in NFTs as you make running accomplishments with the app turned on.

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“STEPN is a Web 3 lifestyle app with Social-Fi and Game-Fi elements. Users equipped with NFT Sneakers – walk, jog or run outdoors to earn GST, which can be used to level up and mint new Sneakers,” notes the website, adding that players can “choose to lease or sell their NFT Sneakers on the in-app Marketplace; users’ GST earnings are stored in the in-app Wallet, which has a built-in Swap function.”

While people are earning NFTs by running with the app on, STEPN benefits from data collection agreed upon when first using the app, transaction fees from buying and selling NFT products, and fees consumers pay to lease NFT sneakers.

To learn more about STEPN, check out this demo which STEPN features on its official website.

Ultimately, the business model is simple: Users pay to buy a product to join the app, they are treated to coinage or NFTs for spending time on the app, and the business makes money from the trades, transactions, and purchases made in the app once the user loyalty model has brought them in.

Embracing Incentivization Ahead of Web 3

Want to leverage incentivization without building a Web 3 experience? There are plenty of ways to do this.

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One example of a Web2 incentivization is our HubFans platform. With the platform, HubSpot customers and partners can assist HubSpot in some way by completing “Challenges” for rewards and digital badges.

HubFans challenges that help HubSpot, could include a mix of small and larger asks, like promoting our brand, filling our feedback surveys, or meeting with teams looking to chat with customers. As you complete more challenges, you move into higher tiers of HubFans status and can start to access rewards like event invitations, networking sessions, and potentially an invite to join the HubFans council.

Hubfans page highlights benefits of hubfans tiers

While HubFans doesn’t involve Web 3, it is a great example of a digital incentive-based opportunity that can both help a brand gain insights from its partners and customers on various initiatives, build a strong fan-based community, and – most importantly – reward great customers and partners for their loyalty to the brand.

Crypto, NFT, and Blockchain Tech Will Gain More Interest

While you shouldn’t just change your whole business model or payment features to accommodate crypto, the growing interest in this currency is worth keeping on your radar if your business appeals to audiences that have invested in digital coinage.

As interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain-based transactions grows, many brands – including B2B companies have embraced crypto-based payment features on their websites or platforms for quite some time – and not just for NFT purchases. Among them are Overstock.com, Home Depot, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. Additionally, payment platforms – such as PayPal – have adapted to accept crypto-based payments.

If you think it makes sense for your brand to start accepting cryptocurrency pay, it couldn’t hurt to start looking at credible companies that offer website plugins for this, as well as platforms that can help you manage and monitor your company’s cryptocurrency. You’ll also need to read up on any laws and regulations your company or state might have about crypto usage and taxation for businesses.

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If you live in the United States, you can find a list of state-based legislation for the United States here. However, you should also keep in mind that regulations might vary when doing transactions with customers in countries outside of the U.S.

Consumers Will Crave Experiences, Not Just Content

Over the past five years or so, experiential marketing and product experiences have gained steam. And when the COVID-19 pandemic kept any of us on lockdown, millions turned to remote experiential content with VR and AR platforms.

In the marketing and sales realm, brands like Walmart and BestBuy are already identifying ways that they can sell products through VR stores (complete with sales reps who are also logged in to a VR metaverse.

Meanwhile, companies like Mercedes already leverage AR with virtual assistant platforms. Through platforms like these, customers can scan an element of their vehicle or product and have its functionality explained to them. They can also ask questions about any problems or faults in its operation. Combined with an AI chatbot, the AR element of the assistant makes it much more user-friendly.

mercedes app allows you to scan parts of your car and learn about it.

Source: PTC

With the connectivity, speed, and advancements of Web 3, interest, and engagement in virtual experiential content could only grow.

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How to Prepare for a More Experiential Internet

While most businesses can’t affordably build VR or AR experiences or even physical experiential events just yet, there might be more accessible opportunities to advertise, build communities, talk to your customers, or even offer services in a more experiential environment that arise for you as technology develops.

For example, brands can already work with businesses like Snap, tech agencies, or software companies to have AR/VR experiences created for them.

To learn more about experiential or VR marketing specifically, check out this post and this post, respectively.

Customers Could Yearn For Community Belonging

With Web 1, we still focused on building communities through word of mouth within the limits of the internet. In Web 2, we discovered the impact of community building on major social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, Discord, and Twitter.

Now, many community managers and company leaders are just waiting with bated breath to see how they’ll be able to invest in community building in Web 3.

“The convergence of brand and community is going to be one of the biggest trends in marketing over the next decade,” says Bodnar.

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“The reason communities are becoming more important is because going through intermediaries to reach people directly like Google and Facebook is getting way more expensive,” Bodnar explains.

Additionally, with Web 3’s blockchain-based incentivization opportunities, “you can now properly incentivize your community members to share in the success of your business with you in a way that you couldn’t before – through the use of tokens, NFTs, and a whole host of things.”

Building Communities (Even in Web 2)

While you don’t necessarily have to be a Web 3 expert, coder, or developer to win over audiences in the new era, building out an active and effective web community could be a key priority for your brand in the coming years.

If you have a base following and even a few channels now, you can already get started in using tactics like these to build an engaged online community and network that you could carry over into the Web 3 era.

Here are a few quick ways to start developing a sense of community.

  • Meet your targets where they are: Are your audiences, customers, or targets spending time on one social media channel or platform over another? Focus on growing your community and building engagement there first.
  • Create great content: “The core object of most communities is content. It’s some type of story, some type of exchange of ideas. If you’re going to build a remarkable brand through community, you first have to have remarkable content and remarkable stories.  In your community,” says Bodnar.  
  • Don’t be afraid of long-term bets: Communities don’t just appear overnight and take time and energy to build out. “I think these bets are long-term. They’re not for the next six months. They’re for the next 12, 24, 36 months,” Bodnar advises.

Want to learn more about community marketing or building a community that can boost business? Check out this guide.

When to Start Thinking About Web 3

Many tech lovers will often tell you, “the Web 3 era is coming, whether we’re ready or not.”

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And while a new iteration of the internet is coming, evolutions take years or even decades before a new era is clear.

Like any new technology, this rollout will be fast for businesses that love to embrace the latest trends, but will happen over a longer period for others.

Do you have incredibly tech-savvy customers that are interested in crypto and blockchain tech? Or, do your offerings already include user-built platforms, token incentivization, blockchain services, metaverse offerings, tech security, or something that’s strongly associated with Web 3? if not, you don’t necessarily need to transform your whole business plan or take other big bets on future predictions.

But, if so, you can check out publications like Trends.co to learn more about how to leverage these technologies to boost your audience’s experience.

In any era, the best thing you can do is think about your customer or target buyer and their experience and identify what you need to do to meet them where they are.

Ultimately, when you’re responding to your customer and creating experiences for them that competitors can’t – you’ll still be ahead of the curve.

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To learn more about all the latest emerging trends and how they’ll impact marketing as well as the bigger business, check out Marketing Against the Grain, HubSpot’s newest podcast hosted by Kipp Bodnar and Kieran Flanagan.

Want to learn even more about how your business or team can embrace Web 3. or even get business ideas related to emerging trends like these? Subscribe to Trends.co, a weekly trends update for business professionals with all the info you need to know about leveraging trends in today’s landscape. 

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Welcome to Creator Columns, where we bring expert HubSpot Creator voices to the Blogs that inspire and help you grow better.

I’ve tested 100s of psychological tactics on my email subscribers. In this blog, I reveal the five tactics that actually work.

You’ll learn about the email tactic that got one marketer a job at the White House.

You’ll learn how I doubled my 5 star reviews with one email, and why one strange email from Barack Obama broke all records for donations.

→ Download Now: The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Imagine writing an email that’s so effective it lands you a job at the White House.

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Well, that’s what happened to Maya Shankar, a PhD cognitive neuroscientist. In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs asked her to help increase signups in their veteran benefit scheme.

Maya had a plan. She was well aware of a cognitive bias that affects us all—the endowment effect. This bias suggests that people value items higher if they own them. So, she changed the subject line in the Veterans’ enrollment email.

Previously it read:

  • Veterans, you’re eligible for the benefit program. Sign up today.

She tweaked one word, changing it to:

  • Veterans, you’ve earned the benefits program. Sign up today.

This tiny tweak had a big impact. The amount of veterans enrolling in the program went up by 9%. And Maya landed a job working at the White House

Boost participation email graphic

Inspired by these psychological tweaks to emails, I started to run my own tests.

Alongside my podcast Nudge, I’ve run 100s of email tests on my 1,000s of newsletter subscribers.

Here are the five best tactics I’ve uncovered.

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1. Show readers what they’re missing.

Nobel prize winning behavioral scientists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky uncovered a principle called loss aversion.

Loss aversion means that losses feel more painful than equivalent gains. In real-world terms, losing $10 feels worse than how gaining $10 feels good. And I wondered if this simple nudge could help increase the number of my podcast listeners.

For my test, I tweaked the subject line of the email announcing an episode. The control read:

“Listen to this one”

In the loss aversion variant it read:

“Don’t miss this one”

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It is very subtle loss aversion. Rather than asking someone to listen, I’m saying they shouldn’t miss out. And it worked. It increased the open rate by 13.3% and the click rate by 12.5%. Plus, it was a small change that cost me nothing at all.

Growth mindset email analytics

2. People follow the crowd.

In general, humans like to follow the masses. When picking a dish, we’ll often opt for the most popular. When choosing a movie to watch, we tend to pick the box office hit. It’s a well-known psychological bias called social proof.

I’ve always wondered if it works for emails. So, I set up an A/B experiment with two subject lines. Both promoted my show, but one contained social proof.

The control read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws

The social proof variant read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws (100,000 Downloads)

I hoped that by highlighting the episode’s high number of downloads, I’d encourage more people to listen. Fortunately, it worked.

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The open rate went from 22% to 28% for the social proof version, and the click rate, (the number of people actually listening to the episode), doubled.

3. Praise loyal subscribers.

The consistency principle suggests that people are likely to stick to behaviours they’ve previously taken. A retired taxi driver won’t swap his car for a bike. A hairdresser won’t change to a cheap shampoo. We like to stay consistent with our past behaviors.

I decided to test this in an email.

For my test, I attempted to encourage my subscribers to leave a review for my podcast. I sent emails to 400 subscribers who had been following the show for a year.

The control read: “Could you leave a review for Nudge?”

The consistency variant read: “You’ve been following Nudge for 12 months, could you leave a review?”

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My hypothesis was simple. If I remind people that they’ve consistently supported the show they’ll be more likely to leave a review.

It worked.

The open rate on the consistency version of the email was 7% higher.

But more importantly, the click rate, (the number of people who actually left a review), was almost 2x higher for the consistency version. Merely telling people they’d been a fan for a while doubled my reviews.

4. Showcase scarcity.

We prefer scarce resources. Taylor Swift gigs sell out in seconds not just because she’s popular, but because her tickets are hard to come by.

Swifties aren’t the first to experience this. Back in 1975, three researchers proved how powerful scarcity is. For the study, the researchers occupied a cafe. On alternating weeks they’d make one small change in the cafe.

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On some weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar was full.

On other weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar only contained two cookies (never more or less).

In other words, sometimes the cookies looked abundantly available. Sometimes they looked like they were almost out.

This changed behaviour. Customers who saw the two cookie jar bought 43% more cookies than those who saw the full jar.

It sounds too good to be true, so I tested it for myself.

I sent an email to 260 subscribers offering free access to my Science of Marketing course for one day only.

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In the control, the subject line read: “Free access to the Science of Marketing course”

For the scarcity variant it read: “Only Today: Get free access to the Science of Marketing Course | Only one enrol per person.”

130 people received the first email, 130 received the second. And the result was almost as good as the cookie finding. The scarcity version had a 15.1% higher open rate.

Email A/B test results

5. Spark curiosity.

All of the email tips I’ve shared have only been tested on my relatively small audience. So, I thought I’d end with a tip that was tested on the masses.

Back in 2012, Barack Obama and his campaign team sent hundreds of emails to raise funds for his campaign.

Of the $690 million he raised, most came from direct email appeals. But there was one email, according to ABC news, that was far more effective than the rest. And it was an odd one.

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The email that drew in the most cash, had a strange subject line. It simply said “Hey.”

The actual email asked the reader to donate, sharing all the expected reasons, but the subject line was different.

It sparked curiosity, it got people wondering, is Obama saying Hey just to me?

Readers were curious and couldn’t help but open the email. According to ABC it was “the most effective pitch of all.”

Because more people opened, it raised more money than any other email. The bias Obama used here is the curiosity gap. We’re more likely to act on something when our curiosity is piqued.

Email example

Loss aversion, social proof, consistency, scarcity and curiosity—all these nudges have helped me improve my emails. And I reckon they’ll work for you.

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It’s not guaranteed of course. Many might fail. But running some simple a/b tests for your emails is cost free, so why not try it out?

This blog is part of Phill Agnew’s Marketing Cheat Sheet series where he reveals the scientifically proven tips to help you improve your marketing. To learn more, listen to his podcast Nudge, a proud member of the Hubspot Podcast Network.

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The power of program management in martech

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The power of program management in martech

As a supporter of the program perspective for initiatives, I recognize the value of managing related projects, products and activities as a unified entity. 

While one-off projects have their place, they often involve numerous moving parts and in my experience, using a project-based approach can lead to crucial elements being overlooked. This is particularly true when building a martech stack or developing content, for example, where a program-based approach can ensure that all aspects are considered and properly integrated. 

For many CMOs and marketing organizations, programs are becoming powerful tools for aligning diverse initiatives and driving strategic objectives. Let’s explore the essential role of programs in product management, project management and marketing operations, bridging technical details with business priorities. 

Programs in product management

Product management is a fascinating domain where programs operate as a strategic framework, coordinating related products or product lines to meet specific business objectives.

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Product managers are responsible for defining a product or product line’s strategy, roadmap and features. They work closely with program managers, who ensure alignment with market demands, customer needs and the company’s overall vision by managing offerings at a program level. 

Program managers optimize the product portfolio, make strategic decisions about resource allocation and ensure that each product contributes to the program’s goals. One key aspect of program management in product management is identifying synergies between products. 

Program managers can drive innovation and efficiency across the portfolio by leveraging shared technologies, customer insights, or market trends. This approach enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, seize emerging opportunities and maintain a competitive advantage. Product managers, in turn, use these insights to shape the direction of individual products.

Moreover, programs in product management facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing. Program managers foster a holistic understanding of customer needs and market dynamics by bringing together teams from various departments, such as engineering, marketing and sales.

Product managers also play a crucial role in this collaborative approach, ensuring that all stakeholders work towards common goals, ultimately leading to more successful product launches and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Dig deeper: Understanding different product roles in marketing technology acquisition

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Programs in project management

In project management, programs provide a structured approach for managing related projects as a unified entity, supporting broader strategic objectives. Project managers are responsible for planning, executing and closing individual projects within a program. They focus on specific deliverables, timelines and budgets. 

On the other hand, program managers oversee these projects’ coordination, dependencies and outcomes, ensuring they collectively deliver the desired benefits and align with the organization’s strategic goals.

A typical example of a program in project management is a martech stack optimization initiative. Such a program may involve integrating marketing technology tools and platforms, implementing customer data management systems and training employees on the updated technologies. Project managers would be responsible for the day-to-day management of each project. 

In contrast, the program manager ensures a cohesive approach, minimizes disruptions and realizes the full potential of the martech investments to improve marketing efficiency, personalization and ROI.

The benefits of program management in project management are numerous. Program managers help organizations prioritize initiatives that deliver the greatest value by aligning projects with strategic objectives. They also identify and mitigate risks that span multiple projects, ensuring that issues in one area don’t derail the entire program. Project managers, in turn, benefit from this oversight and guidance, as they can focus on successfully executing their projects.

Additionally, program management enables efficient resource allocation, as skills and expertise can be shared across projects, reducing duplication of effort and maximizing value. Project managers can leverage these resources and collaborate with other project teams to achieve their objectives more effectively.

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Dig deeper: Combining martech projects: 5 questions to ask

Programs in marketing operations

In marketing operations, programs play a vital role in integrating and managing various marketing activities to achieve overarching goals. Marketing programs encompass multiple initiatives, such as advertising, content marketing, social media and event planning. Organizations ensure consistent messaging, strategic alignment, and measurable results by managing these activities as a cohesive program.

In marketing operations, various roles, such as MOps managers, campaign managers, content managers, digital marketing managers and analytics managers, collaborate to develop and execute comprehensive marketing plans that support the organization’s business objectives. 

These professionals work closely with cross-functional teams, including creative, analytics and sales, to ensure that all marketing efforts are coordinated and optimized for maximum impact. This involves setting clear goals, defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuously monitoring and adjusting strategies based on data-driven insights.

One of the primary benefits of a programmatic approach in marketing operations is maintaining a consistent brand voice and message across all channels. By establishing guidelines and standards for content creation, visual design and customer interactions, marketing teams ensure that the brand’s identity remains cohesive and recognizable. This consistency builds customer trust, reinforces brand loyalty and drives business growth.

Programs in marketing operations enable organizations to take a holistic approach to customer engagement. By analyzing customer data and feedback across various touchpoints, marketing professionals can identify opportunities for improvement and develop targeted strategies to enhance the customer experience. This customer-centric approach leads to increased satisfaction, higher retention rates and more effective marketing investments.

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Dig deeper: Mastering the art of goal setting in marketing operations

Embracing the power of programs for long-term success

We’ve explored how programs enable marketing organizations to drive strategic success and create lasting impact by aligning diverse initiatives across product management, project management and marketing operations. 

  • Product management programs facilitate cross-functional collaboration and ensure alignment with market demands. 
  • In project management, they provide a structured approach for managing related projects and mitigating risks. 
  • In marketing operations, programs enable consistent messaging and a customer-centric approach to engagement.

Program managers play a vital role in maintaining strategic alignment, continuously assessing progress and adapting to changes in the business environment. Keeping programs aligned with long-term objectives maximizes ROI and drives sustainable growth.

Organizations that invest in developing strong program management capabilities will be better positioned to optimize resources, foster innovation and achieve their long-term goals.



As a CMO or marketing leader, it is important to recognize the strategic value of programs and champion their adoption across your organization. By aligning efforts across various domains, you can unlock the full potential of your initiatives and drive meaningful results. Try it, you’ll like it.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business

Before we dive into the second way to assume power in your business, let’s revisit Part 1. 

Who informs your marketing strategy? 

YOU, with your carefully curated strategy informed by data and deep knowledge of your brand and audience? Or any of the 3 Cs below? 

  • Competitors: Their advertising and digital presence and seemingly never-ending budgets consume the landscape.
  • Colleagues: Their tried-and-true proven tactics or lessons learned.
  • Customers: Their calls, requests, and ideas. 

Considering any of the above is not bad, in fact, it can be very wise! However, listening quickly becomes devastating if it lends to their running our business or marketing department. 

It’s time we move from defense to offense, sitting in the driver’s seat rather than allowing any of the 3 Cs to control. 

It is one thing to learn from and entirely another to be controlled by. 

In Part 1, we explored how knowing what we want is critical to regaining power.

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1) Knowing what you want protects the bottom line.

2) Knowing what you want protects you from the 3 Cs. 

3) Knowing what you want protects you from running on auto-pilot.

You can read Part 1 here; in the meantime, let’s dive in! 

How to Regain Control of Your Business: Knowing Who You Are

Vertical alignment is a favorite concept of mine, coined over the last two years throughout my personal journey of knowing self. 

Consider the diagram below.

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Vertical alignment is the state of internal being centered with who you are at your core. 

Horizontal alignment is the state of external doing engaged with the world around you.

In a state of vertical alignment, your business operates from its core center, predicated on its mission, values, and brand. It is authentic and confident and cuts through the noise because it is entirely unique from every competitor in the market. 

From this vertical alignment, your business is positioned for horizontal alignment to fulfill the integrity of its intended services, instituted processes, and promised results. 

A strong brand is not only differentiated in the market by its vertical alignment but delivers consistently and reliably in terms of its products, offerings, and services and also in terms of the customer experience by its horizontal alignment. 

Let’s examine what knowing who you are looks like in application, as well as some habits to implement with your team to strengthen vertical alignment. 

1) Knowing who You are Protects You from Horizontal Voices. 

The strength of “Who We Are” predicates the ability to maintain vertical alignment when something threatens your stability. When a colleague proposes a tactic that is not aligned with your values. When the customer comes calling with ideas that will knock you off course as bandwidth is limited or the budget is tight. 

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I was on a call with a gal from my Mastermind when I mentioned a retreat I am excited to launch in the coming months. 

I shared that I was considering its positioning, given its curriculum is rooted in emotional intelligence (EQ) to inform personal brand development. The retreat serves C-Suite, but as EQ is not a common conversation among this audience, I was considering the best positioning. 

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She advised, “Sell them solely on the business aspects, and then sneak attack with the EQ when they’re at the retreat!” 

At first blush, it sounds reasonable. After all, there’s a reason why the phrase, “Sell the people what they want, give them what they need,” is popular.

Horizontal advice and counsel can produce a wealth of knowledge. However, we must always approach the horizontal landscape – the external – powered by vertical alignment – centered internally with the core of who we are. 

Upon considering my values of who I am and the vision of what I want for this event, I realized the lack of transparency is not in alignment with my values nor setting the right expectations for the experience.

Sure, maybe I would get more sales; however, my bottom line — what I want — is not just sales. I want transformation on an emotional level. I want C-Suite execs to leave powered from a place of emotional intelligence to decrease decisions made out of alignment with who they are or executing tactics rooted in guilt, not vision. 

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Ultimately, one of my core values is authenticity, and I must make business decisions accordingly. 

2) Knowing who You are Protects You from Reactivity.

Operating from vertical alignment maintains focus on the bottom line and the strategy to achieve it. From this position, you are protected from reacting to the horizontal pressures of the 3 Cs: Competitors, Colleagues, and Customers. 

This does not mean you do not adjust tactics or learn. 

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However, your approach to adjustments is proactive direction, not reactive deviations. To do this, consider the following questions:

First: How does their (any one of the 3 Cs) tactic measure against my proven track record of success?

If your colleague promotes adding newsletters to your strategy, lean in and ask, “Why?” 

  • What are their outcomes? 
  • What metrics are they tracking for success? 
  • What is their bottom line against yours? 
  • How do newsletters fit into their strategy and stage(s) of the customer journey? 

Always consider your historical track record of success first and foremost. 

Have you tried newsletters in the past? Is their audience different from yours? Why are newsletters good for them when they did not prove profitable for you? 

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Operate with your head up and your eyes open. 

Maintain focus on your bottom line and ask questions. Revisit your data, and don’t just take their word for it. 

2. Am I allocating time in my schedule?

I had coffee with the former CEO of Jiffy Lube, who built the empire that it is today. 

He could not emphasize more how critical it is to allocate time for thinking. Just being — not doing — and thinking about your business or department. 

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Especially for senior leaders or business owners, but even still for junior staff. 

The time and space to be fosters creative thinking, new ideas, and energy. Some of my best campaigns are conjured on a walk or in the shower. 

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Kasim Aslam, founder of the world’s #1 Google Ads agency and a dear friend of mine, is a machine when it comes to hacks and habits. He encouraged me to take an audit of my calendar over the last 30 days to assess how I spend time. 

“Create three buckets,” he said. “Organize them by the following:

  • Tasks that Generate Revenue
  • Tasks that Cost Me Money
  • Tasks that Didn’t Earn Anything”

He and I chatted after I completed this exercise, and I added one to the list: Tasks that are Life-Giving. 

Friends — if we are running empty, exhausted, or emotionally depleted, our creative and strategic wherewithal will be significantly diminished. We are holistic creatures and, therefore, must nurture our mind, body, soul, and spirit to maintain optimum capacity for impact. 

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I shared this hack with a friend of mine. Not only did she identify meetings that were costing her money and thus needed to be eliminated, but she also identified that particular meetings could actually turn revenue-generating! She spent a good amount of time each month facilitating introductions; now, she is adding Strategic Partnerships to her suite of services. 


ACTION: Analyze your calendar’s last 30-60 days against the list above. 

Include what is life-giving! 

How are you spending your time? What is the data showing you? Are you on the path to achieving what you want and living in alignment with who you want to be?

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Share with your team or business partner for the purpose of accountability, and implement practical changes accordingly. 


Finally, remember: If you will not protect your time, no one else will. 

3) Knowing who You are Protects You from Lack. 

“What are you proud of?” someone asked me last year. 

“Nothing!” I reply too quickly. “I know I’m not living up to my potential or operating in the full capacity I could be.” 

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They looked at me in shock. “You need to read The Gap And The Gain.”

I silently rolled my eyes.

I already knew the premise of the book, or I thought I did. I mused: My vision is so big, and I have so much to accomplish. The thought of solely focusing on “my wins” sounded like an excuse to abdicate personal responsibility. 

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But I acquiesced. 

The premise of this book is to measure one’s self from where they started and the success from that place to where they are today — the gains — rather than from where they hope to get and the seemingly never-ending distance — the gap.

Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan encourage changing perspectives to assign success, considering the starting point rather than the destination.

The book opens with the following story:

Dan Jensen was an Olympic speed skater, notably the fastest in the world. But in each game spanning a decade, Jansen could not catch a break. “Flukes” — even tragedy with the death of his sister in the early morning of the 1988 Olympics — continued to disrupt the prediction of him being favored as the winner. 

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The 1994 Olympics were the last of his career. He had one more shot.

Preceding his last Olympics in 1994, Jansen adjusted his mindset. He focused on every single person who invested in him, leading to this moment. He considered just how very lucky he was to even participate in the first place. He thought about his love for the sport itself, all of which led to an overwhelming realization of just how much he had gained throughout his life.

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He raced the 1994 Olympic games differently, as his mindset powering every stride was one of confidence and gratitude — predicated on the gains rather than the gap in his life. 

This race secured him his first and only gold medal and broke a world record, simultaneously proving one of the most emotional wins in Olympic history. 

Friends, knowing who we are on the personal and professional level, can protect us from those voices of shame or guilt that creep in. 


PERSONAL ACTION: Create two columns. On one side, create a list of where you were when you started your business or your position at your company. Include skills and networks and even feelings about where you were in life. On the other side, outline where you are today. 

Look at how far you’ve come. 

COMPANY ACTION: Implement a quarterly meeting to review the past three months. Where did you start? Where are you now? 

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Celebrate the gain!

Only from this place of gain mindset, can you create goals for the next quarter predicated on where you are today.


Ultimately, my hope for you is that you deliver exceptional and memorable experiences laced with empathy toward the customer (horizontally aligned) yet powered by the authenticity of the brand (vertically aligned). 

Aligning vertically maintains our focus on the bottom line and powers horizontal fulfillment. 

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Granted, there will be strategic times and seasons for adjustment; however, these changes are to be made on the heels of consulting who we are as a brand — not in reaction to the horizontal landscape of what is the latest and greatest in the industry. 

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In Conclusion…

Taking back control of your business and marketing strategies requires a conscious effort to resist external pressures and realign with what you want and who you are.

Final thoughts as we wrap up: 

First, identify the root issue(s).

Consider which of the 3 Cs holds the most power: be it competition, colleagues, or customers.

Second, align vertically.

Vertical alignment facilitates individuality in the market and ensures you — and I — stand out and shine while serving our customers well. 

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Third, keep the bottom line in view.

Implement a routine that keeps you and your team focused on what matters most, and then create the cascading strategy necessary to accomplish it. 

Fourth, maintain your mindsets.

Who You Are includes values for the internal culture. Guide your team in acknowledging the progress made along the way and embracing the gains to operate from a position of strength and confidence.

Fifth, maintain humility.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of humility and being open to what others are doing. However, horizontal alignment must come after vertical alignment. Otherwise, we will be at the mercy of the whims and fads of everyone around us. Humility allows us to be open to external inputs and vertically aligned at the same time.

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Buckle up, friends! It’s time to take back the wheel and drive our businesses forward. 

The power lies with you and me.


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