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Digital Marketing Tools We’re Thankful for This Year

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digital marketing tools were thankful for this year

As we eagerly count down the last few days until Thanksgiving, the Industry Dive marketing team is practicing our own form of thanks-giving. 

Just like that one family member that forces you every year to go around the table and say what you’re all thankful for, I asked our team to go around and share their favorite marketing tools. “What digital marketing tools are you most thankful for this year?” 

And while we could make a long list of tools we use every day, I was more curious to know which tools the team could not live without. Here is a list of marketing tools we are most thankful for this year:

  1. Grammarly
  2. Moz
  3. Google Campaign Builder
  4. Google’s Data Studio
  5. LinkedIn Sales Navigator for Gmail
  6. Slack
  7. Canva
  8. Unsplash
  9. Zest

I loved writing this post because you can pretty much find a tool for every job function. Every person on our marketing team plays a different role and serves a different purpose  each equally as important as the other. This collection of tools resembles just that. Keep reading to see how each of these tools plays a role in assisting our marketing team function at its best.

Grammarly

As far as I know, Grammarly is the best writer-checking tool in the game. Since I installed this app a few years ago, I cannot imagine how else I would get through a workday without this plug-in catching every spelling and grammar mistake I make.

Industry Dive’s VP of Marketing, Robin Re says, “I’m thankful for the Grammarly plug-in. Not only does it catch any typos in my marketing copy and external-facing emails, but now, thanks to the Tone Detector [beta], it gives me a sense of how my email might come across. Which as any marketer knows… the HOW you’re saying something is just as important as the WHAT. I can sometimes wander into ‘formal’ tone and sound robot-like, so this is a nice nudge to lighten it up.”

This tool will help improve your marketing copy, edit your emails and generally calm your anxiety about missing a small grammatical error in your writing. I highly recommend installing this app if your job requires you to write regularly.

Moz

Moz is another tool to be thankful for, especially if you manage SEO for your website.

Marketing Coordinator, Olivia Iurillo says, “I’m most thankful for Moz’s keyword explorer, which we use for SEO. When our editorial team asks for help with headlines or is curious about what our target audience may be searching for, I use the keyword explorer in tandem with SERP analysis to try and determine what keywords will boost organic search traffic.”

Google Campaign Builder

Savannah Smith, Marketing Campaign Specialist, is thankful for the time saved by this tool. 

“It sounds simple, but I’m thankful for the Google Campaign URL Builder. We manage 40+ campaigns in a given week, and being able to quickly create UTM codes to track performance across different sources and mediums is such a time saver.”

Screenshot 2019 11 25 at 10.01.59 AM

Building your campaign tracking links could not be easier with this tool. 

Google’s Data Studio

Google’s Data Studio has endless tracking capabilities. It’s great if you have someone on your team who knows the ins and outs of the system to help you customize reports to show you exactly what you need to measure. Our entire team uses these reports for various different reasons. 

As the Director of Lead Gen, Malinda Gather spends a lot of time working in Google’s Data Studio. 

I’m thankful for Google’s Data Studio. The number and types of reports you can create are endless, but I primarily use the tool to track landing page performance by campaign and placement. This allows my team to quickly pivot our promotional and copy strategy if the report indicates our current promotion isn’t resonating. It’s also an easy way to track our most successful promotions.”

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I, on the other hand, use Google’s Data Studio to track contributor content performance. Luckily, I have Jackie (our data analyst) to help build reports like this for me. 

Screenshot 2019 11 25 at 2.11.38 PM

When it comes to marketing data analytics, I don’t know a better tool. 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator for Gmail

Wondering if you have the right person in your “to” line of your Gmail email? Or how you might be connected professionally? For those of you who email with people you don’t know regularly, you will love this plug-in. You can learn a lot more about the person on the other end of that email thread when their LinkedIn profile (including degree of connection and LinkedIn group membership) pops up on the side of your Gmail inbox.

Marketing Campaign Corodinator, Sammy Srinivasan, loves this tool. “I’m thankful for the LinkedIn email plug-in. It tells me more about the prospects/leads that I come across and it makes it far more efficient to see if that person is a fit for our campaign.”

Matching a recipient to their LinkedIn profile helps provide more context to the conversation, and of course helps humanize it a bit with a smiling face if they have a profile picture.

Slack

There are so many different chat tools to choose from these days. From one-on-one chats to larger group collaborations, Slack is the perfect tool to help improve company-wide communication.

This is a tool we are all thankful for. Our team has a private channel where we share ideas, ask questions and just chat throughout the workday. On the Slack website, they offer helpful tips for in-app collaborations and other various ways to utilize this tool to boost work-productivity (including polls, calendar reminders, and project management notifications).

Sr. Data Analyst, Jackie McCartney, thinks Slack makes work more fun.

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Canva

The tool I am most thankful for is Canva. Although my go-to tool for designing social media graphics is Photoshop and InDesign by Adobe, I absolutely love having Canva around for creating quick, on-the-go graphics.

The Adobe apps are the most robust design tools you can find on the market and are perfect for people trained in graphic design; but for everyone else, Canva offers a large variety of templates for all your marketing needs. You don’t need to remember all the optimal social media graphic sizes because Canva has everything pre-set for you. They’ve also updated their system so you can share your work with others, offering another great resource for team-collaboration.

The real selling point for me is that you can use Canva on any computer by just opening up your web-browser, going to the site and signing in. Adobe apps work best on Apple computers, so I rely heavily on Canva for my graphics when I’m traveling or working from home.

Unsplash

Megan Gavin, Director of Audience Growth Marketing, manages the majority of our social media ads, so she knows everything that goes into creating the perfect ad.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” says Meg. “It’s especially important when you’re limited to a few lines of text in your paid social posts. Unsplash has a vast gallery of free, high-quality images to help provide a cohesive product message and experience to prospective readers.”

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Zest

The last digital marketing tool we want to give thanks for is Zest. Thank you, Zest, for offering us an easy plug-in to share and discover new social media and digital marketing content daily. 

Their website reads, “The content you need when you need it. Build your skills to stay ahead of the industry. Let Zest’s AI personally match you with community-curated marketing content.” Install the plug-in and you will be able to share your favorite industry insights with other marketers around the world, as well as discover favorite content that others are reading. 

As a trusted source for marketers to discover insights and learn from their peers, Zest reminds me a lot of what we do here at Social Media Today. For example, at Social Media Today, we find the smartest minds in the social media marketing world and work with them daily to create unique content that offers real advice and doesn’t add to the content-overload we experience on the internet today. The Zest team is also committed to sorting through content and making sure they only share the best of the best. 

You can select topics (such as “social,” “SEO,” “B2B,” etc.) that you want to read about and the system will show all the recent articles suggested for that topic. They also give you a nice profile page so that you can save content and follow other people to see their content suggestions.

Screenshot 2019 11 25 at 11.47.16 AM

Well, that’s it from us. Of course there are plenty of other amazing digital marketing tools on the market, but these nine tools improve my team’s daily work lives and we are so thankful for them. 

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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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