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Influencer Marketing Experts Pick Their Favorite Tools To Manage Their Programs

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An influencer marketing strategy involves more than an influencer and a brand.

“If you want to have robust outcomes, you need to build a relationship with the creator, immerse them in your brand and get their buy-in as a partner. That’s what it takes to produce genuine, trust-driven recommendations their audience will pay attention to,” says Jason Falls, author of Winfluence.

How do you use the tools at your disposal to do that? I asked 16 experts in influencer and content marketing. Let’s look at what they had to share.

Neal Schaffer, author, Age of Influence, says:

Socialinsider helps you analyze a pool of potential influencers once you’ve discovered them. This social media analytics tool allows you to extract public information from potential influencers’ social media accounts. You can do a deep analysis as to what content they publish, what of that content people are most engaged with, as well as publishing and engagement trends. The tool’s “tag” content feature lets you compare and contrast influencers who post similar content to understand who performs better and why.

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Jason Falls, author, Winfluence, says:

Tagger has the deep and broad filter – the first step – to driving great influencer collaborations. You can really zero in on the “right” influencers, not just a list of possibilities. Let’s say you want to find the top food influencers in San Francisco with at least 20,000 followers, who have a high percentage of their audience in Sacramento, frequently mention certain wine brands, and have an engaged audience with YouTube content. The extremely specific request can elicit a list from Tagger in a matter of seconds. With most other tools, you get halfway there and then you have to look at each individual’s content manually to go the rest of the way.

If you want to have robust outcomes, build a relationship with the #influencer, immerse them in your brand, and get their buy-in as a partner, says @JasonFalls via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Its new Signals product takes it a step further. Using a social-listening strategy, you can find anyone participating in conversations about a keyword or topic and see where those conversations are happening. You can use it to identify influencers talking about the topic or just listen to the conversation among influencers to inform your content strategy, product decisions, and beyond.

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Jeanette Okwu, founder and CEO, Beyond Influence, says:

As an agency, it is crucial to work at scale and with speed. As an influencer marketer, I have demoed, tested, and worked with numerous SaaS solutions like CreatorIQ, Klear, Traackr, and a bunch of smaller ones like lefty, Dovetale, and Woomio, to name a few.

We have opted for Tagger for its massive influencer database to help us run international campaigns on all social media platforms. Its direct access to these platforms allows for best-in-class data capture, which is essential when researching influencers for integrated campaigns. We use it to set benchmarks, KPIs, and instant access to metrics and content analysis are the groundwork of what we do daily.

While there are capabilities like searching for creators based on categories and a set of demographics of their audiences that most competitors have as well, the biggest differentiator for me is their affinity engine as a standout unique selling point. But their discovery and campaign workflow are some of the most sophisticated. Another significant benefit is seeing the overlap between the influencer and a brand audience, which tremendously speeds up the decision process.

@taggermedia’s discovery and campaign workflow are some of the most sophisticated, says @jeanetteokwu via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. #tools Click To Tweet

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Facebook Live + InVideo

Mari Smith, CEO, Mari Smith International, says:

My influencer tool of choice for some time now is a combination of Facebook Live video broadcasts coupled with some paid amplification and repurposing clips of the video replay for Facebook and Instagram Reels and Stories using a tool such as InVideo. (Mari is a brand ambassador for InVideo.)

InVideo has the best collaboration features of any video tool I’ve tried. It’s super easy to have multiple team members – or agency plus client – quickly create and publish professional videos.

When I team up with a brand in an ambassador/influencer capacity, I craft an end-to-end campaign that includes a highly educational Facebook Live promoted ahead of time to my own audience. And then, after the broadcast, the brand and I collaborate on paid placement to elevate the reach and results further.

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The most effective #content format across @Meta’s family of apps is unquestionably #video, says @MariSmith via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Timothy Hughes, co-founder, DLA ignite, says:

Want a constant stream of leads? How about I pick you up in my car tomorrow, and I drive you to a place where I know all your prospects and customers are hanging out? Sounds great, doesn’t it? All you have to do is go up to them and have a conversation. No need to pitch – in fact, people hate that. Just have natural everyday conversations. Stay as long as you like. The more conversations you have, the more leads you get. That place is LinkedIn. It’s the best tool for anybody who wants to build authority, influence, trust, and get a constant stream of leads.

Brands have the choice to continue to ignore these conversations and keep slapping people with “brochures” from their employees or to empower their teams to have conversations on social and walk the digital corridors.

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The best tool for anybody who wants to build authority, influence, trust, and get a constant stream of leads, is @LinkedIn, says @Timothy_Hughes via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Andy Crestodina, co-founder, CMO, Orbit Media, says:

LinkedIn is critical for anyone doing organic influencer marketing, especially in B2B. It’s key for every step in the process:​

  • Research and identification: Find people actively discussing any topic. You can see their credentials and topics at a glance. And if you plan to promote the content on LinkedIn, you can see their reach and engagement right there.
  • Networking and outreach: After a few thoughtful comments, mentions, and shares, they’re likely to accept your connection invitation, giving you implicit permission to message them. It’s an excellent place to start a conversation, which is the first step toward a pitch to collaborate.
  • Co-promotion: If the influencer promotion plan has a LinkedIn component, you’re already there. Once the co-created content is live, you can post a quick promotional video with a mention or even host a live conversation. And the engagement on LinkedIn is generally much higher than on Twitter or Facebook.

The LinkedIn platform checks all the boxes for the B2B influencer marketer. I don’t know how to do organic influencer marketing without it.

Although you may not think of it as a tool, @LinkedIn is critical for anyone doing organic #InfluencerMarketing, especially in #B2B, says @Crestodina via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Ashley Faus, content strategy lead, software teams, Atlassian, says:

Employees are the new influencers. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows trust in institutional and formal authorities has been declining for a decade, but people trust people like themselves and technical experts the most. That’s where your employees shine. But it’s hard to track the traditional metrics like reach and engagement for tens or hundreds of individual profiles.

Enter Shield. It allows employees to connect their LinkedIn accounts to a dashboard, so you can see actual reach and engagement over time. It helps your company partner with employees to know which content is resonating with your audience, report high-level reach and engagement trends (plus growth) to leadership, and helps you show the symbiotic relationship between personal profiles and company pages.

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Aaron Orendorff, vice president of marketing, Common Thread Collective, says:

Influencer marketing takes time. And sometimes, the “simplest” step of getting your product to an influencer is the hardest part. It’s even harder at scale.

You must collect addresses, sizes, etc. Then you might have to package the product yourself or contact your third-party logistics to flag that order. Or you might go into your Shopify store and create a zeroed-out order. All of which takes time.

The Kynship app lets you significantly speed up this process. It creates orders in no time by efficiently sending multiple products to multiple influencers in a matter of a few clicks. Other competitors offer seeding components, but they require the influencer to use their time to submit what they want, when they want it, and where to send it. The Kynship app puts control in the brands’ hands, giving you the ability to control the timing of campaigns and the quality of relationships.

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Jessi Sanfilippo, Founder, Roadie Socia​​​​​​​l, says:

What sets GRIN apart from influencer marketing tools is the deep look at the engagement rates and validity of the influencers’ followings and specifically bots and demographics.

Those two features were critical in projecting outcomes when I worked at a women’s wellness startup. We needed to partner with influencers who had highly engaged, primarily female communities. If you’ve been on the brand or agency side of influencer marketing, you’ve seen a lot of creators or their reps who send media kits with inflated numbers. GRIN really felt like a team member doing the heavy lifting to be sure we would be spending our modest budget effectively and coming as close as possible to the impact and revenue we were expecting.

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Katie Stoller, head of influencer marketing, Fiat Growth, says:

I’ve used over 15 tools, and my favorite in terms of execution flow and efficiency is Activate. I used it before Impact acquired it, but the acquisition led to a strong focus on conversion tracking. That is important as we serve fintech companies that aren’t selling tangible products, so there is no e-commerce tracking available. We rely heavily on link tracking across the customer journey (app downloads, email sign-ups, and subscription sign-ups). Many of our clients use Impact for their affiliate marketing and strategic partnership programs. Being able to include influencer marketing in the mix is incredibly helpful.

Activate has great features that allow you to propose and negotiate in the tool. It also allows you to capture individual Instagram story frames and download them with their related metrics. Activate also seems to shave time off managing programs, especially when working with more than five influencers at one time.

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Michael Brito, global head of analytics, Zeno Group, says:

Most of the 40-plus tools in the influencer marketing space offer little to no value for B2B and enterprise technology companies, except for Onalytica. Its discovery module allows marketers to combine bio and content searches. They have also created a robust taxonomy that can segment influencers by industry, job function, vertical, etc.

Users can analyze influencer conversations and engagement. It’s similar to a social listening platform but only listens to the influencers within a project. This is critical for B2B influencer marketing programs. Also, Onalytica is one of the first to launch a B2B marketplace that connects tech influencers with B2B brands.

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@Onalytica is one of the first companies to launch a #B2B marketplace that connects tech #influencers with B2B brands, says @Britopian via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Crystal Duncan, senior vice president and head of influencer marketing, Tinuiti, says:

In my 15 years in the influencer marketing industry, I have found there isn’t one tool that does it all perfectly for every brand or agency. I always recommend doing the research, having an understanding of what your budget is, and weighing the benefits of the tool, which will make your day-to-day easier.

One of my favorite tools is gen.video, as it has tracking capabilities to help showcase sales data from influencer content. Understanding how influencers are impacting the bottom line is hugely important for our clients and campaigns.

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Tom Augenthaler, founder, 551 Media and The Influence Marketer, says:

Finding influencers is one thing but vetting their followers to make sure they are legit is another. With many wannabe influencers buying fake followers to look impressive, it’s imperative to know the makeup of their audience, including a breakdown of real people, mass followers, fake followers, suspicious accounts, and other influencers.

That’s when I turn to HypeAuditor. The robust influencer marketing tool can be used to find influencers, track campaigns, competitors, and identify trends. I rely on it to assess the veracity of an influencer’s audience. I really appreciate the charts measuring follower growth over time, so you can see spikes in new followers as well as drop-offs. Spikes in growth sometimes indicate the purchase of followers. Another plus is that you can download PDF versions of the influencer reports. Right now, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are covered by HypeAuditor, but I expect they will add more social platforms moving forward.

Use @HypeAuditor to check that your influencers’ followers are genuine, says @taugenthaler via @SarahLParkerUK @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Lenox Powell, content director, Semrush, says:

BuzzGuru brings ease, simplicity, and transparency to the process of finding compatible influencers. It rolls influencer discovery, analysis, and competitive intelligence into one app. Specifically, it gives valuable insight and analytics on influencers’ performance across multiple platforms (YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, and TikTok), so you can find partners who best align with your marketing needs.

Among its top three benefits – streamlined search, global selection, and competitor and industry insights. Its database of over 21 million influencers has met strong authenticity and performance criteria. Advanced filter combinations and search features (keywords, video mentions, etc.) make it possible to find influencers whose audience aligns with your target audience.

In addition to filtering your search by platform, ad mentions, advertising budget, etc., you can refine by broadcast language and country. You also can search competitors, market leaders, and others in your industry to see if they’re working with influencers. You can see who they’re partnering with, the types of campaigns they are running, their budget, and the influencer’s performance.

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Clint Mally, content marketing educator, ClintMally.com

Use your YouTube channel, podcast, or other platform as the reason to connect with influencers in your target industry. I recently created a YouTube video, podcast, and article from a one-hour conversation with Andy Crestodina.

Then, I used SparkToro to find other influencers who have some connection to Andy and are more likely to say yes since Andy had worked with me earlier. I found influencers who could contribute quotes under the social section, future collaborators under the podcasts and YouTube section, and influencers to pitch for guest blog submissions under the website’s section.

Influencer Marketing Experts Pick Their Favorite Tools To Manage Their

I was also able to connect with people like Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin, and Mike Stelzner who might never have talked to me otherwise. All you need is for one person to say yes to make this work.

Finding what’s right for your program

Jessy Grossman founded the networking organization Women in Influencer Marketing. She’s seen over a dozen of the most popular tools demonstrated in their virtual event – The Best in Influencer Tech.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for anyone. The pricing varies wildly, she says. “The ideal is that they’d all come together to provide one suite of tools. Since that’s highly unlikely, I suggest that – if the budget allows – to use a few of them to mix and match.”

Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit (May 31-June 2) in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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

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

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

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

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

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

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

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

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

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

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

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

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

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

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

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

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

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

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

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

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

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

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

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

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

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

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

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

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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