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Which Instagram Story Formats Really Engage Viewers [New Research]

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Which Instagram Story Formats Really Engage Viewers [New Research]

In 2021, Instagram reported over 500 million users viewed Stories. 

Since launching in 2016, the Stories feature alone has made Instagram more popular than other Story and mobile video platform competitors including Snapchat, TikTok, and its owner’s own platform: Facebook Stories.

 

Even if you’ve already published a handful of branded Stories, you still might want to up your game by making them even more engaging. After all, Stories can provide great benefits related to audience engagement, brand awareness, and even purchase-related conversions.

Despite the growing number of benefits that Instagram Stories offers brands, crafting good content still takes time, energy, and brainstorming. Even when you put your best efforts into creating a Story, you might still find that it falls flat, sees a high drop-off, or shows other signs of low engagement.

As you build your social media content strategy for 2022, you might be asking yourself, “What type of Instagram Story format do people actually engage with?”

In this post, I’ll highlight what consumers said about their favorite Instagram Story formats, the trends marketers are noticing, and show you examples along the way.

Which Formats Marketers Are Leveraging [HubSpot Blog Data]

The HubSpot Blog surveyed over 1,000 marketers to learn more about their marketing strategies in 2022. According to this survey, 78% of marketers leverage Instagram Stories in their roles. Of those who use Instagram Stories, 43% post on behalf of their brand multiple times per week. The marketers in this survey note audience viewership of Instagram Stories declines after four to six Instagram Story pages. 

According to the marketers we surveyed, here are the most common Instagram Story types subjects that result in the greatest ROI.

Content That Reflects Brand Values

Per the HubSpot Blog survey, 18% of marketers indicated Instagram Story content that reflected their brand’s values produced the greatest ROI. Considering 71% of consumers want to buy from brands that align with their personal values, this piece of data isn’t surprising. 

When companies are upfront about their core values related to topics such as diversity, inclusion, sustainability, and human rights, buyers are able to quickly determine a brand’s stance on a particular topic. 

Similarly, it’s important that consumers know why your brand exists, and how you can serve them. Regularly incorporating your company’s mission and vision into your content can also help your audience feel more connected to your brand.

Product-Focused Content

Consumers want to see your product in action! Whether it is through regular demonstrations by your team, user-generated content from other happy customers, or positive reviews, product-related content can deliver positive results. When crafting Instagram Stories, find creative ways to present your products that appeal to your audience. 

Interactive Content

On Instagram Stories, interactive frames have a specific call-to-action or way viewers can get involved from within the app. This often includes using Instagram’s Poll or Quiz sticker, inviting users to share a specific piece of content themselves, or a game. Here’s an example from @fentybeauty, who used Instagram’s slide feature to poll their audience.

Instagram Story Format: an example of an interactive Instagram Story

Trendy Content

Trend-related content entails coverage of a recent cultural moment or news story. This type of content can range from informative (breaking news) to humorous (posting a meme related to a recent event). Trendy content is well-suited for Instagram Stories because of it is best consumed quickly and while relevant. Unlike a feed post that can take days to reach an audience, the 24-hour period an Instagram Story is live can be a great place to share content that is only relevant for a short period of time. 

Now that we know what content marketers are prioritizing in Instagram Stories, let’s look at what formats consumers prefer and engage with most often.

Which Format Consumers Are Actually Watching

While some brands and users post Stories focused purely on interactive features, others might post visual storytelling content such as short narratives or longer video stories that feel more like documentaries.

But, which one of the many Instagram Story formats is most intriguing to people? To get to the bottom of which Story style is most engaging, I surveyed 350 people using Lucid software to learn more about their favorite Story formats, sound preferences, and ideal Story length.

I asked consumers, “Which Instagram Story are you most likely to tap all the way through until the end?”

At this point, you may have your own predictions of how people might have voted. While research says that interactive stickers, such as Quizzes, Polls, or Questions are highly engaging, you might also be thinking about the times you’ve tapped through an influencer or brand’s behind-the-scenes videos via their Story. So which, ultimately did people choose?

Stories centered around Quiz or Poll stickers were one of the most popular formats with 15% of the votes. However, 35% of consumers actually prefer short narratives with a mix of photos, text, and videos.

Which types of Instagram Stories do you tap all the way through?

Data Source: Lucid Software

Short Narrative Stories

Short narratives are basically articles translated for a more visual audience. They rely on brief paragraphs and bullet points of text, accompanied by related visuals, to tell a story in a few cohesive short slides. Here’s a great example of a short story that swipes up to a longer piece of web content from Harvard Business Review:

Harvard Business Review Instagram Story

This strategy is a great way to get more eyes on your blog content without asking people to leave the Instagram app.

Aside from informing your audience of a topic related to your industry, you can also take a note from HBR and other publishers by using Stories as a traffic generator. In the example above, HBR — which has a verified account — has adapted a long-form article into a short Story and included the full post at the end as a swipe-up link.

With this tactic, the Instagram Story serves as a teaser as viewers who are very interested in the topic can swipe up to read more about it on HBR.org.

Quiz or Poll-Centered Stories

Another strong Story format uses Quiz or Poll stickers. Essentially, these Stories feel like they are just created to quiz the viewer by including the Quiz sticker on most pages, or brands can leverage Stories with polls primarily on each page to get their audience’s insights on a topic.

These Stories are intriguing and entertaining to viewers because it allows them to test themselves and learn about a new topic interactively, or vote in a poll and see what other audiences think about a certain topic or theme. Here’s an example of an interactive Story from HubSpot which centered around a Poll-styled quiz and revealed the answers at the end.

HubSpot Poll Instagram Story

While you can also use an actual Quiz sticker, which will immediately tell viewers quiz questions, HubSpot’s strategy also works as it allows viewers to get a glimpse at what others guessed and see a rundown of the actual answers at the end. This might keep viewers engaged, entertained, and in the Story for longer if they know that there will be a payoff on the last page.

While fewer people voted for Stories centered around Question stickers, this feature could still be a great feature to experiment with as it can help you interact with and learn more about your audience in a more open-ended way that Polls.

Here’s an example of a Question sticker in a HubSpot Story. After this page, the Story went on to share the answers that viewers submitted.

HubSpot Questions INstagram Story

Although open-ended questions seem like a great way to learn about and interact with your audience, keep in mind that viewers will need to take time to fill out answers rather than simply tapping on a Poll or Quiz sticker. This means that if your audience isn’t as interested in the topic or question, you might run into issues getting responses.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use and leverage the Instagram Questions sticker in your Stories, check out this helpful guide which includes examples of brands that used the feature successfully.

Demos and Tutorials

Brands can also leverage tutorials and demos, which was the fifth most popular Story style. This tactic might be especially helpful if you’re interested in ecommerce or purchase-related conversions as a growing number of people prefer to learn more about products via video. Here’s an example of a tutorial from Kylie Cosmetics, where CEO Kylie Jenner puts on a new lip liner from the brand.

Kylie Cosmetics Instagram Story Tutorial

Story formats that include demos or tutorials can be advantageous to brands because it allows them to show off how their products work. Additionally, if you have over 10,000 followers or are a verified user, you can link these Stories to your ecommerce site or a purchasing page for the products shown. This way, if a viewer is impressed by a tutorial or demo, they can simply swipe up to learn more about or purchase the product.

A Mix of Content

Because many people don’t have a preference or prefer a mix of multiple elements in Instagram Stories, be sure to add a bit of variation to your content strategy. For example, brainstorm ways to add interactive features, such as Quiz or Poll stickers to narratives, tutorials, or other types of Story content. This will add an extra layer of engaging content to a Story that might already be interesting to viewers.

Here’s an example of a Story from Starbucks that mixes in storytelling and interactive stickers to announce the return of a popular seasonal beverage:

Starbucks Instagram Story

Other Instagram Story Formats

When it came to the Story styles with lower rankings, consumers were actually less interested in behind-the-scenes content, mini-documentaries, and Stories that center around customer testimonials.

This might hint that marketers on these platforms might want to be thinking more creatively when launching content on Instagram Stories. Rather than just focusing on your product or customer testimonials, you might want to test out creating informative short narratives or interactive Stories that relate strongly to your brand. While this will engage Instagram audiences, it might also show off your company’s expertise in its industry.

While this poll deemed a few Story formats less engaging, I still encourage you to mix things up and experiment with some of these styles just in case they work for you. Here are a few to try.

Customer Testimonials

Although customer testimonials aren’t as interesting to consumers, this doesn’t mean that you should scratch them entirely. In fact, they’re still a commonly used tactic in many brands and industries, despite consumer preferences. For example, a number of companies, like Planet Fitness, have built their strategy around testimonials. Here’s an example:

Planet Fitness Instagram Story

In the above scenario, the customer testimonial strategy works for Planet Fitness because it helps gym prospects feel less intimidated and more motivated to take on physical fitness after seeing a customer’s success story.

Behind-the-Scenes Stories

No, behind-the-scenes Stories don’t necessarily talk about your product front and center, but they can give prospects an idea of what your company is like, the inner workings of your industry, and a look at the staff that customers could work with.

Behind-the-scenes videos allow you to show off how hardworking or relatable your business might be, which might make viewers feel more comfortable working with you.

One example of a brand that uses this technique is the NBA. The basketball league regularly shares videos of professional basketball players behind the scenes at games or celebrations. In the image below, they shared an Instagram Story video of basketball players taking a photo with the rapper Drake:

NBA Instagram Story

Mini-Documentaries

Like narrative-style Instagram content, mini-documentaries tell journalistic stories that are slightly more complex and primarily centered on video — like a documentary that you tap through.

These are often higher-quality and incredibly informative, so they are more prominently used by publishers such as National Geographic. Here’s just the beginning of a long documentary-styled Story where NatGeo visits NASA’s offices to uncover facts about the first moon landing:

NASA Instagram Story

If you’re a small to medium-sized business that’s just ramping up your Instagram strategy, you might want to stick to a short narrative Story, like the ones noted at the beginning of this post. These will allow you to similarly show a combination of videos, photos, and text without as much production time and effort. However, if you’re a content creator or feel like covering an event or newsworthy topic in your industry might boost brand awareness, you might want to experiment with this longer-form, in-depth visual storytelling style.

Ideal Story Length

For years, social media managers have been trying to determine how long the perfect Instagram Story should be. This has been such a major question that marketing blogs and publications have done further research on the matter.

If you’re a small to medium-sized business marketer, Story length is a valid thing to consider, especially if you have low time or resources. While you ideally want to engage people with low dropoff throughout your entire Story, you might not want to spend time making incredibly long pieces of content with multiple pages if you know people in your industry usually only tap through a small number of pages.

So, what exactly is a good Story length? To get some added insight on this, I surveyed the 350 consumers and asked them, “On average, how many pages of an Instagram Story will you tap through before swiping out?”

Before looking at the results, you might think “The ideal Story should be as short as possible,” simply because it’s content on a fast-paced social media platform. But, then, you might also remember that a number of publications, like Harvard Business Publishing and The Washington Post have leveraged Stories as a way to share long-form content.

So, which approach is right and which is wrong?’

It seems that there are solid themes in ideal Story length, however, there still might not be an ideal number of pages in this type of content.

According to the poll, 63% of consumers will tap through six pages or less, with 34% saying they tap through four to six pages on average. This data aligns with the feedback we got from marketers through our HubSpot Blog survey. However, more than one-third of consumers will tap through stories with more than seven pages, with 20% saying they’ll tap through 10 or more.

How long should an Instagram Story be?

Data Source: Lucid Software

The results above are similar to research published by Buffer which noted that Stories made up of seven or fewer pages are the most engaging. However, the fact that a large chunk of Lucid respondents will watch beyond seven pages hints that you might not need to shrink down your content to ensure that it’s seen.

When determining the best Story length for your audience, we encourage you to consider the age group of your audience, the type of topics they engage with, and how fast-paced their lifestyles might be. If you have an idea for a great topic that your audience will love and is compatible with interactive Story features, you might be able to get away with a longer Story.

If you have a topic that you worry might feel dry or too complex to explain on Stories, you might want to format this as a smaller Story with a sticker linked to longer-form content

As you start posting regular Instagram Stories, you should also experiment with both long and short Stories. Then, look at the drop-off rate of each Story. If many people seem to drop out of one long story but not another, this might be due to the topic or the writing rather than the length. However, if people regularly drop out of your longer-form Stories around a certain page number, you might want to limit your Story content to that number of pages.

Telling an Engaging Visual Story

Regardless of what topic you’re publishing a Story about, or which format you decide on using, make sure it informs the audience about something they care about, provides entertainment value, and highlights your brand’s credibility in your industry.

If you’re unsure about how you can leverage Instagram Stories to better market your brand, it can be helpful to look at examples from similar companies in your industry. 

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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.


Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

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