Melvin Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal system in 1873 to classify and organize library books. It enabled library goers to easily find whatever book they desired by leafing through index cards in a small filing cabinet. Unfortunately, content marketing doesn’t come with a pre-existing content marketing taxonomy like the Dewey Decimal system.
Too many times content marketers get asked by another employee if they have some random type of content on some random topic.
What Is a Content Marketing Taxonomy?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines taxonomy as “a scheme of classification.” In content marketing, that means:
Content marketing taxonomy is a scheme of classification made up of titling, folder organizing, tagging, and any other way of organizing content that aides in your content marketing’s findability, content marketing strategy, and content marketing distribution.
Why Is a Content Marketing Taxonomy Important?
Having an effective content marketing taxonomy isn’t just about the ‘findability’ of your content. It helps put your content strategy and goals into perspective, allowing you to ascertain content priorities based on what’s in an item’s name. It also simplifies content audits—which should be performed at least once a year.
Of B2C and B2B marketers, 56 percent and 64 percent respectively admit they don’t have a documented content marketing strategy. A content marketing taxonomy aids content strategizing by organizing content in an easy-to-understand way for marketers to analyze data and gaps.
A clear and concise content marketing taxonomy improves the readability of your editorial calendar. It allows all parties to know what kind of content you’re creating at a glance.
Natalya Minkovsky, editor for the Content Marketing Institute’s Chief Content Officer magazine, says that:
Future Proof and Organize Your Content
A well constructed content marketing taxonomy also helps future content strategy execution. It simplifies new audience-facing strategies by allowing you to slice and dice data in multiple ways. If you already tag content based on personas and want to personalize your audience experience, a content taxonomy helps determine which content to serve to whom.
A content marketing taxonomy helps determine how your website content should be organized. For example, with a well-organized taxonomy you can see which content types have the best bounce rates, click-through-rates, or time on page metrics. These insights help determine the order and flow of content on your website.
Content Marketing Taxonomy Planning (With Template)
When planning a content marketing taxonomy, first consider the constraints of your content marketing platform and other software for housing or planning content. Some software has preset fields to fill in for each piece of content, so missing tags have to be included in the name. Other software allows custom fields, so most tagging can happen separately, providing more opportunities for slicing data by multiple fields at once.
This is what content tagging looks like for a piece of content in Curata’s content marketing platform (CMP):
Fields (in CMP):
Consider including the following elements in a content marketing taxonomy.
For Written Content
When separating by “content type” or “distribution method,” define what these mean. This way everyone dealing with the new taxonomy understands what each section means. It also ensures there aren’t duplicate fields. For instance, if someone posts all sales enablement content under [SE] but others call it sales enablement, you won’t be able to consistently find the content you’re looking for. Tracking and analytics based on this distribution method will also be incomplete or inaccurate.
Tags, Categories, or Titles
Once you’ve determined which information needs to be included in your content marketing taxonomy, decide which information should be part of the title (and where). Include what should be included as a tag, what should be included as category, and whether or not any of this information should be externally visible to help your audience find the content they need. Here’s how we determined which piece of information fits where, and why:
Externally Visible Tags and Categories
If your CMP forces content tags or categories to be externally visible, things can get tricky. You probably don’t want your audience to see your “BOFU” or “Content Marketing Carey” tag.
At Curata we keep content in both locations to fit the individual preferences of various departments. The spreadsheet below in our Google drive is also used to find content. The taxonomy is the same, but the organization is slightly different. This allows our sales team to find our content without sorting through pieces they don’t need or learning a new taxonomy. We ultimately decided to retain this inherited format to keep things simple for sales. It also allows for easy sorting based on content type, and includes a link to the content (with tracking parameters).
Having an external tagging and categorizing system as well as an internal taxonomy enriches your website’s metadata and boosts your SEO.
Implementing a new content marketing taxonomy requires change management. There are several ways to go about this—here’s what we recommend.
Prior to developing a content taxonomy, assemble as diverse a team as possible to collect opinions and feedback. Content taxonomy can impact everyone from marketers to designers to engineers and salespeople. Getting their buy-in and feedback beforehand can save future headaches. Once you determine an official taxonomy, here are some simple steps to roll the program out company-wide.
A content marketing taxonomy assists with content organization, findability, content strategy, and consumption. And it sets you up for more successful content marketing plans in the future. As James Goldman of CMSwire says:
For more information on creating a content marketing strategy that works, check out Curata’s eBook on creating a content marketing strategy below.
via Blogger How to Build Your Own Content Marketing Taxonomy
At most companies, it can feel like marketing and sales are far from being on the same team. According to the 2017 State of Inbound report, fewer than half of marketers would describe their respective companies' Sales and Marketing teams as "generally aligned."
And that's a problem.
Here at HubSpot, we're lucky to have a strong, healthy relationship between marketing and sales. Our marketing and sales executives started out on the same team in the company's earliest days, and that collaboration has trickled down throughout the organization as it continues to grow. But it wasn't just luck, of course.
That alignment -- which we call "Smarketing" -- is largely the result of a conscious decision to work together, set goals, and create agreements between both teams.
One of the most critical steps, it turns out, is creating a service level agreement (SLA). Traditionally, an SLA serves to clearly define exactly what a customer will receive from a service provider.
But we suggest creating a Sales and Marketing SLA: An agreement that details both marketing goals (like number of leads or revenue pipeline) and the sales activities that will follow and support them, like following up on leads qualified by marketing. Both teams use this document as a commitment to support each other, based on concrete, numerical goals. And guess what -- 81% of marketers whose companies have this type of SLA have an effective marketing strategy.
But if you don't have a Sales and Marketing SLA in place, fear not: We've outlined four steps to create one below, as well as ways to get started on aligning your sales and marketing teams.
How to Create a Sales & Marketing Service Level Agreement
Aligning Marketing and Sales
Before you begin to draft your SLA, you'll have to make sure your Sales and Marketing teams are aligned -- or, as we put it before, achieve harmonious Smarketing. That's accomplished in two main parts.
1) Have Marketing commit to a number.
As a marketing department, not only should you have a concrete strategy and reporting goal, but also, you should have a concrete numerical one that aligns with the sales team's mentality.
Sales professionals are greatly driven by their quotas -- the numerical goals that correlate with their compensation and job security. If Marketing commits to a similar, related numerical goal, it shows that the team is being held accountable in a manner similar to Sales.
2) Communicate, celebrate, and address the achievement -- or lack thereof.
Maintaining strong communication regarding how each team is performing on goals boosts transparency. If either team isn't reaching their goals, addressing that confirms their importance, while celebrating hitting those goals can aid motivation.
If you're not sure where to begin when it comes to setting these goals, check out our free Marketing & Sales Lead Goal Calculator, designed to help you determine and track the goals that will eventually become part of your SLA.
How to Make an SLA
1) Calculate the Marketing Figures and Goals
In order to calculate the marketing side of your SLA, you'll need the following four metrics:
Then, it's time to do some calculations.
It might also be a good idea to reevaluate the marketing side of the SLA each month, as a variety of factors can change the numbers used in your calculations over time. To do so, create a document that tracks your SLA calculations by month, which should include the following metrics:
You will also need:
With the figures above, you can re-calculate the metrics you started with on a monthly basis, or whatever timeframe is used in your business -- quarter, year, etc. Just make sure the same measure of time is used for both Sales and Marketing to maintain alignment. Have a look:
You could also take it one step further, and incorporate quantity and quality into these metrics. The above calculations provide you with a quantitative volume goal of marketing-generated leads. However, we know that not all leads are created equal, and as a result, some may be considered higher- or lower-quality than others.
For example, a decision-making executive might be a more valuable contact than an intern. If that's the case, you can do the above analysis for each subset of leads, and set up separate goals for each type/quality level.
Want to take it even further? Measure in terms of value, instead of volume. For example, a CEO may be worth $100, for instance, while a director is $50, a manager is $40, and so on.
2) Calculate the Sales Figures and Goals
The sales side of the SLA should detail the speed and depth of following up with marketing-generated leads. A few years ago, HubSpot enlisted an MBA student's help in performing an analysis to determine the optimal number and frequency of follow-up attempts for each lead -- if you have the time and resources for that, great. But many businesses don't. According to the InsideSales Fall 2016 ResponseAudit Report:
Not all leads may be fit to send to Sales immediately. Perhaps they need to meet some minimum level of quality, like reaching a certain activity level, which can only take place after being nurtured by Marketing. That's perfectly fine -- as long as your leads get some immediate follow-up.
The first moments after lead conversion are critical in maintaining a relationship with your leads, and either Sales or Marketing should take action to start building that relationship, make nurturing easier, and set up the sales rep for success when she eventually does reach out.
But this advice is futile if you don't consider the bandwidth of your sales reps. Sure, in a perfect world, they'd make six follow-up attempts for each lead -- in reality, though, they may simply not have enough hours in the day to do that. For that reason, you'll also need to factor in the number of leads each rep is getting (based on the Marketing SLA), how much time they spend on marketing-generated leads versus sales-generated leads, and how much time they have to spend on each one. If you're looking to conserve time, some of the follow-up -- email, in particular -- could be automated, so look into options there.
3) Set up Marketing SLA Reporting
Now that you have your SLA goals, it's time to track your progress against that goal -- daily.
To start, graph the goal line. Multiply 1/n -- n is the number of days in the month -- by your monthly goal. That should determine what portion of your monthly goal you need to achieve each day. You'll want to graph that cumulatively throughout the month and mark your cumulative actual results on the same chart. We call that a waterfall graph, and it looks something like this:
4) Set up Sales SLA Reporting
For the Sales SLA reporting, you'll have two graphs -- one monitoring the speed of follow-up, and the other monitoring the depth of follow-up.
To graph the speed of follow up, you'll need the date/time the lead was presented to sales, and the date/time the lead received her first follow-up. The difference between those two times equals the time it took for Sales to follow up with that particular lead.
Take the averages of lengths of time it took for Sales to follow up with all leads within a particular timeframe -- day, week, month -- and graph it against the SLA goal.
To graph the depth of follow-up -- e.g., the number of attempts -- look specifically at leads that have not been connected with, since the goal of the follow-up is to get a connect. For leads over a certain timeframe that have not gotten a connect, look at the average number of follow-up attempts made, and graph that against the SLA goal.
And One Last Step
When it comes to what should be in your service level agreement, there's one final piece: Review these metrics on a daily basis to monitor your progress, and make sure both Sales and Marketing have access to the reports for both sides of the SLA.
This step helps to maintain accountability and transparency and allows for both teams to address issues -- or congratulate each other on productive results.
What best practices have you observed in creating a service level agreement within your organization? Let us know in the comments.
via Blogger How to Create a SMarketing Service Level Agreement
And while AI is important and interesting, I'm going to ask you to put a pin in that so we can talk about another type of intelligence: emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence doesn't involve bots or machine learning, but it still could have a huge impact on your job, your success, and your happiness at work. By now, we all know that success isn't just about what you know -- it's about how you work with the people around you, too. And whether this involves networking, an inter-departmental project, or managing direct reports, other people will have a huge impact on if you get your next promotion, new job, or have opportunities presented to you.
In this post, we'll run through a quick review of emotional intelligence -- what it is, why it's important, and how to be an emotionally intelligent leader at work.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
The term was first defined in 1990 by two behavioral researchers named Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and it was more broadly popularized by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
Emotional intelligence is defined as "a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action."
So, what does that actually mean, in plain English?
Emotional intelligence, or EQ (a play on intelligence quotient, or IQ), refers to your ability to handle emotions -- your own, and those of others. It's the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, having control over them, and help others do the same. And as you can imagine, these people skills can be just as important to professional (and personal) success as technical skills.
In fact, there's actually no correlation between a high level of cognitive intelligence (IQ) and a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ). Psychologist Daniel Goleman thinks that the measurement of IQ is too restrictive and doesn't accurately reflect if an individual will be successful, in their career or life in general.
Goleman and Dr. Richard Boyatzis created a framework of behavioral qualities that demonstrate EQ. In this post, we'll explore 10 of these behaviors that leaders can use to show EQ and foster it in their teams.
8 Qualities That Demonstrate Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
Are you flexible to changes on your team and within your organization? Are you resilient when confronted with conflict and difficulty? Are you able to quickly manage the expectations and needs of both the people you report to and the direct reports on your team?
Adaptability is a key trait of emotionally intelligent leaders. Whether you're dealing with a bad month of metrics, an interpersonal conflict between team members, or a company crisis that requires an all hands response, leaders need to be able to quickly react and respond to new and changing information. They also need to be able to respond to change with compassion and diplomacy -- even if the changes might not be to their preference. Grudges, overly emotional reactions, and negative one-off complaints are unproductive, can contribute to low morale, and are generally signs of low EQ.
Leaders should set examples for emotionally intelligent adaptability by encouraging teams to present constructive feedback in team meetings or 1:1s. Leaders should also acknowledge pain points that come with change and encourage team members to brainstorm solutions and techniques for quick recovery.
Are you able to motivate team members and people around you in the workplace? Can you change the mood with a joke or positive outlook on a tough situation? Are you able to help someone stuck in a negative mindset see a different perspective?
Just like adaptability, optimism is critical for leaders to motivate and uplift a team during tough times at work. Now, optimism doesn't mean you're relentlessly positive, no matter what. It means you can see the bigger picture of a difficult situation or bad mood to get perspective and keep moving forward -- instead of getting bogged down in negativity.
Leaders should encourage team members to look at all sides of a problem to gain perspective, come up with creative solutions to challenges, and help point it out for them when they can't do it themselves.
Do you try to identify and solve problems before they arise? Do you volunteer to make things better for your peers and your team? Do you always follow up on conflicts and questions brought to you by team members? Do you not only complete the asks of your role, but look for ways to get even better results?
The ability -- and eagerness -- to take initiative is another sign of emotional intelligence in leadership. In fact, doing the bare minimum can sometimes be perceived as selfish -- even if you are technically getting your job done every day.
Leaders with a high EQ seek out ways to improve and excel -- and that includes helping team members take initiative, too. Leaders should identify and cultivate strengths in their team members and help them get to the point where they're confident and capable enough to take initiative, too. Other examples include volunteering to take on additional work, team projects, or simply helping others complete tasks in the office.
4) Conflict Resolution
Do you moderate interpersonal conflict discretely and effectively? Do you help team members navigate disagreement or clashing priorities in a way that's respectful to everyone involved? Do you advocate for your team to make sure members feel supported and heard?
Let's face it -- if you work on a team, conflict is bound to happen, even among the closest of colleagues. When that happens, leaders have to help come to solutions that make everyone involved feel heard, respected, and resolved.
Emotionally intelligent leaders should provide team members with plenty of opportunities to talk -- in person, via phone or video call, or as a team -- to resolve issues and air challenges before they devolve into unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Leaders should empower team members with conflict solutions, new processes, and more of that adaptability to prevent future problems before they arise. And sometimes, the greatest conflict resolution a leader can offer is letting a team member vent and get a problem off their chest.
5) Professional Development
Do you encourage team members to learn and cultivate new skills? Do you help team members identify strengths and target areas of improvement? Do you deliver constructive and actionable feedback? And when the time comes, do you advocate for team members to seek new opportunities, even if those opportunities aren't working with you anymore?
As Saturday Night Live writer and actor Tina Fey once said, "in most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way." She's obviously a very emotionally intelligent leader, and we encourage leaders to take it a step further than that for best results.
Hire talented people and develop their skills and talents so they're the best they can be -- even if that potentially means losing them as a team member. Emotionally intelligent leaders can prioritize the development of others over their own desire to have the best team possible. These leaders should help employees identify talents, improve on strengths and weaknesses, and help team members take on new opportunities they might not without a leader's encouragement.
Do you put yourself in teammates' shoes when addressing challenges and problems with them? Do you acknowledge others' feelings and opinions and respond to them? Do you share your own emotions and worries with team members to help them feel understood?
Effective leaders must be empathetic in order to also be emotionally intelligent. Empathy means not just listening to team members, but making them feel heard and understood, too. Leaders should constantly seek to understand the perspective of their team members to effectively communicate changes, feedback, and news -- both good and bad.
Empathetic leaders can deliver feedback in team members' preferred method of communication, tailor meetings and communication according to different personalities and styles, and adapt their leadership style to what's most effective for motivating and helping the larger group.
Do teammates confide in you? Do you know when to keep information confidential, and when to escalate it through the proper channels? Do teammates feel comfortable bringing concerns to you when they arise?
Trust isn't just about keeping secrets your team members confide in you -- it's also about creating an environment of mutual trust where team members feel supported and comfortable.
Emotionally intelligent leaders should provide team members with multiple avenues for providing feedback, airing grievances, and voicing questions or concerns -- without feeling vulnerable or wrong for doing so. They should encourage team members to support and rely on each other, work collaboratively, and share knowledge and skills for better team outcomes.
Do you analyze your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement on a regular basis? Do you engage with your direct reports and your supervisors to get 360-degree professional feedback? Do you set monthly, quarterly, or annual goals for improvement and personal development?
In addition to all of the above, one of the most meaningful ways leaders can cultivate their emotional intelligence to drive better team outcomes is to pause and reflect on themselves. It can be challenging to critique yourself, which is where collaborative feedback comes in. Emotionally intelligent leaders constantly seek feedback from peers and other leaders to analyze and strategize how to constantly improve -- in meetings, 1:1s, and by seeking to learn from other sources.
These are only eight examples of emotional intelligence in leadership, but focusing on these traits will help leaders cultivate emotional intelligence in team members to help them be as productive and successful as possible. For more information on improving and cultivating emotional intelligence in leadership, download HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah's ebook here.
What signs of emotional intelligence do you value? Share with us in the comments below.
via Blogger 8 Signs of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
According to the latest Radicati report, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received in 2017 is likely to reach 269 billion. And that number is expected to jump to 319.6 billion by 2021.
Email marketing isn't going anywhere.
But there’s a big catch. With so many emails landing in our inboxes, there needs to be something unique about your emails so that you stand out from the crowd.
You're probably already acutely aware of this, and have already started to incorporate personalized elements into your promotional emails.
But what about transactional emails?
Transactional emails are those triggered by a user interaction on your site, such as a purchase receipt or a delivery confirmation. Most companies don't give too much thought to these types of messages, but they represent an important marketing opportunity to interact with your customers at their most engaged.
Research from IBM company Silverpop's 2015 Email Marketing Benchmark Study found that transactional emails enjoy an average open rate of about 45%, compared to just 20.8% for non-transactional emails.
The click-through rate for transactional emails also has a significant edge on other marketing emails at 10.4%, while the average CTR for non-transactional emails is 3.2%.
So before you write off these messages as boring, think again. In fact, you can harness transactional emails to amplify your marketing efforts. Their potential is way beyond just welcoming a new subscriber or sending ecommerce-related updates.
What is a Transactional Email?
There’s a general perception that transactional emails are only sent after a customer has bought something from your website -- an order confirmation email, order shipment email, order delivered email, etc.
In reality, transactional emails have a broader defintion. A transactional email is a message sent to a subscriber because of a certain action they took on your website, such as visiting a particular page, signing up for blog updates, or abandoning a cart.
Personalization in Transactional Emails
We all love to receive emails that are tailor made for us. And that is the reason why personalized campaigns help improve click-through rates by around 14% and conversions by 10%. We all know this is true for promotional emails, but few marketers have begun to further optimize their transactional emails with advanced personalization.
As a general rule of thumb, your transactional emails should be 80% informational and 20% promotional. Transactional emails are intended to deliver important information, so you can't compromise this with too much promotional content. The key is to give users the information they need and expect, and offer them a personalized next step to continue their journey with your company.
To help you start harnessing the power of your transactional emails, we'll take a look at three impressive examples of optimized and personalized transactional emails sent by real companies. Each example represents a different type of transactional interaction, enabling you to create messages that are extremely relevant to recipients and profitable for your business.
The Welcome Email
The welcome email is the first email you send to a person who has opted in to receive your emails, or someone who has made their first purchase on your website. As your first direct interaction with a user, the welcome email is an important chance to start things off on the right foot.
To help you gather data for a positive personalized experience, It’s important to ask for a few key pieces of information about your new subscriber at the time of sign up. The information can be used to tailor your welcome email to resonate with the subscribers.
If you have asked for their name, you can go ahead and open with a personalized greeting . Isn’t it natural to like someone saying "Hey Joe" rather than just a "Hey there"? If you have collected their zip code, providing local store information is also a good idea.
Here’s a simple yet awesome welcome email from Upwork. They have made good use of the of the subscriber information they collected at sign-up. The global freelancing platform makes the person feel special with just a few simple, personalized lines.
They welcome Mike and provide all the information he needs to know to get acquainted with the platform. Prominent CTAs can be used to guide the user back to the website for more relevant info.
The Purchase Email
After a customer makes a purchase, there are 3 types of emails that are usually triggered: order confirmation email, order shipment email and order delivered email.
We know none of these sound exciting, but they’re important to the customers who are waiting to know the status of their order and should thus be very important to marketers as well.
To interact with your customers at their most engaged, you should customize these emails with relevant content. Apart from the basic dynamic information of the order, you can make best use of upsell and cross-sell techniques, which direct users to content or products relevant to their purchase.
When someone purchases something from your website, you get an idea as to what kind of apparel they like or what kind of holiday destination they prefer. Dynamic content for these type of emails can be fetched on the basis of the customer’s current purchase, past purchase history or any other real-time interaction.
It might seem a little dicey when it comes to recommending products, but if used carefully, recommendations have the potential to make a strong impact. After all, it costs 5 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Also, convincing your existing customers to buy from you is easier than convincing a new subscriber, isn’t it?
Make sure you do not bombard the customer with a big list of recommendations or they might soon lose interest in you or feel overwhelmed. Restraint on the number of suggested products serves to keep the customer engaged.
We love this purchase confirmation email from Teespring. It provides all the essential information about the order -- which the subscriber needs to know. But they've also taken full advantage of relevant cross-sell opportunities, presenting the user with customized information about other products.
Cart Abandonment Email
It’s a nightmare for a business to see abandoned carts. But they exist in big numbers. According to a SalesCycle report, around 74.52% carts were abandoned in 2016.
But it is possible to recover some lost carts through email marketing. And personalization of cart abandonment emails makes things easier. Generally, when a subscriber receives relevant suggestions, they are more likely to take the desired action.
Lux-Fix.com, a fashion retail brand, implemented an email personalization program to get 85.7% rise in email conversion rates and a 136.2% rise in recovered sales from cart abandonment emails.
By personalizing the email with products the customer or prospective customer was looking for, you can create context and remind them about their interaction with your brand. Also, you need to make sure that when they click on a product image or description you send in your email, you take them to the exact product page on your website.
Moreover, you can also cross-sell in this type of email. By giving color options of products they put into the cart or recommending similar products that they may like, you are actually broadening the horizon of your brand in more ways than one.
You can also segregate the cart abandoners on the basis of what caused them to do so. By implementing your knowledge regarding shopping habits, stage of a particular subscriber’s journey, etc. we have a few ideas you can make use of:
This email by MCM is an excellent example of cart abandonment emails. The top menu is in place and there's a major focus on reminding the subscriber about what they left in the cart. Apart from all this, they have cross-sold well by adding some similar products that the subscriber may like.
Don't Forget Your Transactional Emails
Personalization plays an important role in increasing the probability of your email campaign’s success. While personalization often gets limited to just promotional emails, it's important to consider personalization options in your transactional emails as well to improve open and click-through rates.
Customized transactional emails can perform even better with this targeted approach.
via Blogger How to Personalize Transactional Emails With Dynamic Content
The other day, I was airing some grievances to a friend. The whining topic du jour: artificial intelligence, or AI.
“Every time I hear about it, I think, ‘Sure, that’s cool,’” I said. “But sometimes I wish it would slow down -- there’s so much happening there, and so fast.”
“Well, I have bad news for you,” my friend told me. “It's not going away anytime soon.”
He was right. AI continues to be all the rage in the worlds of both tech and business, and is growing at a lightning-fast pace. At the most recent Google I/O, an entire suite of new AI-related product features were unveiled. Microsoft, meanwhile, launched an entire investment arm dedicated to this type of technology. And as research from CB Insights indicates, in 2016, over 500 AI startups raised roughly $5 billion in funding.
But which ones are going to stick around?
We thought you might ask that -- that’s why we sought out the six that have piqued our greatest interest. We’ve listed them below and summarized what it is that they’re trying to do … and why they’ve got our attention.
6 Artificial Intelligence Startups to Watch
What the Company Does
In its earliest days, Bizible’s revenue attribution product provided technology to help its customers better assess spending activity and make better decisions. Now, its new revenue planning product uses machine learning to help B2B marketers plan for every revenue-related scenario. Think: The product crunches the historical revenue attribution data to help predict what GeekWire calls “‘what if’ scenarios — like increasing marketing spend ... or reducing event sponsorship budgets.”
Why We're Paying Attention
We love it when companies examine what they already do best and say something like, “Wait a minute -- we can use this information to make something even better.”
In Bizible’s case, that was the marketing expenditure data it already organized and helped customers analyze. The next step, the company decided, was to help marketers make even better use of that data -- with the help of intelligent algorithms that predict the results of a given current spending track, and provide budgetary alternatives that address the aforementioned scenarios.
It’s that AI technology, CEO Aaron Bird told GeekWire, that helps marketers “have a good understanding of causality in the past ... in order to do a good job of planning the future.”
What the Company Does
New-York-based UiPath is known best for its robotic process automation (RPA) technology -- the kind that helps to automate what can become tedious business tasks, like data entry. As PYMNTS explains, eliminating the need for human labor on such processes can help “companies save money by offloading these tasks from human contractors.”
Why We're Paying Attention
To be completely honest -- the type of technology being created by UiPath scares us a little. The potential drawback of human job elimination by way of AI continues to be a hotly-contested topic, and while it does make us slightly shake in our boots, we can’t help but be fascinated by the companies that throw their respective hats into that particular automation ring.
But we also find ourselves drawn to the UiPath Academy -- a “free of charge, self-led online learning environment where anyone in the world can enroll and train to obtain a UiPath RPA certification.” The point of that certification? Creating more RPA experts that can help companies implement and make the best use of technology like UiPath’s.
From a certain perspective, that could be seen as UiPath’s method of countering the potential job elimination resulting from widespread RPA -- by cultivating a population of experts who know how to make the best use of AI within certain organizations.
What the Company Does
In the B2B realm, most marketers don’t spend a ton of time thinking about how they would make use of a fleet of drones -- at least, we don’t. That is, until we learned about vHive: The maker of cloud-based technology for enterprise-level organizations that want to use drones to manage field operations.
Why We're Paying Attention
Drones are an area of technology that’s seen mixed results over the past decade. Many brands continue to experiment with numerous uses of drones -- one of the most interesting cases we’ve come across is telecom company BT using drones to provide internet service in places impacted by war and natural disasters.
But at the same time, few brands seem to be able to truly make it work -- some are missing sales estimates, laying off members of their drone teams, or closing up shop altogether. So when we learn about startups in this realm receiving high amounts of funding -- vHive secured $2 million from VC and private investment in its first round -- it makes us ask, “Okay, so what’s different about this one?” Perhaps it's the focus on fleet management, or the target audience of enterprise-level companies, but we’re curious to see how this works out.
4) AgoloSource: agolo
What the Company Does
Another player in the New York AI field, Agolo’s technology is designed to synthesize and summarize the media most important to professionals in order to do their jobs. Here’s a peek at how it works:
Why We're Paying Attention
Information overload is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away -- at least, not anytime soon. And as bloggers, we often have to monitor a high volume of news about marketing and technology. That’s why intelligent systems like Agolo’s tend to make us positively giddy -- they can help us figure out what we need to do, and automatically find and summarize the news that’s going to help us best do our jobs.
But that benefit isn’t limited to bloggers. Marketers from every industry struggle with staying on top of the news and content they need to see in order to remain informed about competition, regulations, and more.
What the Company Does
Another Israel-based startup, Vault’s technology has a primary focus on the entertainment industry. It uses big data to help professionals in this sector address and resolve both marketing and financial decision-making problems -- partially with its box office sales prediction technology.
Why We're Paying Attention
Even though it’s been a while since I actually visited a movie theatre, I still positively geek out over box office rankings. After all, I’m both a consumer and a marketer, and I like to see the products -- software and films alike -- that amass an eyebrow-raising audience.
That’s something that makes one of Vault’s products, Deep Audience, so interesting to us -- its ability to take the entertainment industry’s media assets, like movie trailers or a script, and apply an algorithm that can analyze who’s going to be drawn to it.
From there, entertainment marketers can make important decisions about how to package and communicate the product to this audience, depending on size, composition, and other factors. Our hope: The Deep Audience becomes available and applicable to marketers within industries beyond entertainment.
6) All Turtles
What the Company Does
Okay, so we may have cheated a bit on this one. All Turtles is actually a self-described "AI startup studio" that provides guidance and other resources to founders of companies within this sector. The approach, according to its website, is to tackle “one frontier at a time,” starting with AI.
Why We're Paying Attention
The act of AI startups receiving funding isn’t exactly rare news -- after all, that’s how we found out about many of the companies on this list. What intrigues us about this one, however, is that it’s a startup for startups: one that was founded by Phil Libin, who’s held executive roles in both the VC and tech sectors.
That’s a powerful combination of skills and experience. We’re curious to see how it’s applied and carried out in an area of business and technology that, in the grand scheme of things, is still in its earliest stages -- but shows no signs of ceasing to grow at full-tilt.
Types of Intelligence
What stands out to us about many of the companies listed here is the potential impact their work could have on a number of populations. Automated business processes, predictions, and fleet management are all very cool -- but we're eager to see how many of these brands develop technologies that will benefit individuals on a personal level. AI certainly has the ability to help professionals do their work more seamlessly. But it could also have a positive impact on, for example, aging populations, by automating in-home assistance that can keep seniors healthy in their homes longer.
In any case -- these are just some of the reasons why we're watching the world of AI unfold.
Which AI startups are you keeping an eye on? Let us know in the comments.
via Blogger 6 AI Startups We're Keeping an Eye On
These days, the phrase "content is king" still holds true (to an extent). But the rules surrounding content production as well as our understanding of it as marketers has changed. No longer is it about having content in spades, it's all about quality.
Having one great piece of content is always going to be better than 10 second-rate pieces that don't add any value for readers. However, if you can consistently produce great content on a regular basis, that's enough to dominate the online marketing realm.
Unfortunately, about 70% of marketers still lack an integrated or consistent content strategy, based on research from Altimeter. Creating great content is hard, and many marketers still don't have sufficient knowledge or adequate resources to produce high-quality content on a regular basis. Some produce generic content, which is akin to replicating a cola brand. You're not innovating and it'll never be as good as Coke, in which case no one's going to buy/drink it.
Let's face it, most brands don't have the resources or expertise to compete with larger, more established companies with bigger marketing budgets. So how can they create high quality content at scale?
Well, one great way is to crowdsource. No one knows your readers better than they know themselves, and you simply can't compete with the collective knowledge of an entire audience.
In this article, we'll focus on why brands should let their users help create value in content.
How to Leverage User-Generated Content
Owned Media vs. Earned Media
Source: The Keep-calm-o-matic
Different types of media can be utilized to improve your organization's value creation initiatives. One type is "owned media." This refers to the content that your organization has 100% control over, including your company's official website, company blogs, and your official social media pages.
Owned media may also come in the form of case studies, whitepapers, and ebooks. These types of media are not only controlled in terms of production, they're also controlled in terms of distribution, because much of it is "gated". The primary goal of owned media is to provide value to provide value through content marketing to generate and nurture leads.
Though there are many advantages to having complete control over your content, it doesn't always work well to build trust with your audience because it isn't "peer reviewed". In some cases, owned media can also end up being over-technical, product-centric, and self-serving, hence the lack of appreciation from users. There's only so much a brand can achieve if all their conversations and interactions are one-way.
The media type at the opposite end of the scale is "earned media." Simply put, this refers to the media exposure earned by your brand through word-of-mouth. This exposure could stem from your own SEO efforts, high-quality content you publish that goes viral, great customer experience delivered, or pretty much anything else your brand does that compels individual users to create content with your brand's name on it.
As the title suggests, "earned media" is the type of media or exposure your brand has earned by doing something positive or negative. These also come in various forms, including reviews and feedback, recommendations, press coverage, and articles, amongst others. The reason earned media works so well to build relationships is because it places users into your media channel, turning attention away from your brand and onto your audience.
In terms of building awareness and trust, earned media can be a gold mine. It helps build your community through social proof, and provides you with user-created value that leads to more opportunities for engagement. Not only does it facilitate improved ways to learn about your prospects/customers, it opens up a dialogue for two-way conversations so users can interact with your brand.
Oh yeah, it's also free.
Benefits of User Generated Content
Why wait for people to start talking about your brand when you can create a channel for them to make themselves heard and facilitate User-Generated Content (UGC)? Every piece of content a user produces on your website or site's outpost becomes branded UGC. Brands can provide a means for their users to collaborate with them via their website, forums, and social media platforms to power up these channels with activity.
For the users, they create UGC to express themselves and gain recognition. It's a win-win situation, as brands greatly benefit from the buzz. Here are just some of the advantages for brands:
More importantly, UGC creates a competitive advantage for brands that is inherently difficult to replicate because communities can't just be copied.
Think about the power of sites like Wikipedia, whose moderators are crowdsourced users that help make the site better because they care about being part of an active community. Imagine how difficult/expensive this would have been to accomplish with owned or paid media. Now you see the power of user-created value.
Another great example would be the Inbound.org community, which has over 170k professional marketers who are happy to share their knowledge with other members. Everyone has their own opinions and experiences so this creates an unrivaled source of marketing expertise that makes the community extremely attractive for anyone looking to learn about sales/marketing.
Potential Challenges of Building a Community
You can't build an empire in a day. In today's highly connected world, there are plenty of challenges brands face when trying to build an online community.
While UGC is definitely a cost-effective approach, one bad apple can ruin the bunch. The first problem with UGC is that since it comes directly from users, it can't be controlled by the brand. This opens up areas for concern with trolling, negative comments and various legal compliance issues, just to mention a few.
As the name suggests, it's the user that generates the content. Thus, it is their content and they can essentially create whatever they want, whether it's good for your brand or not.
Which leads us to another challenge, how to maintain and moderate UGC. This is where the community manager comes in. He or she must be able to keep users engaged and set the tone for what themes, subjects and topics users should contribute towards. An experienced community manager should also know how to create content, handle PR issues and provide support to users.
Another challenge is the amount of time need to build a community. It's not a one-time, big-time deal. Like in-house efforts, UGC requires resources, continued effort and time for it to work.
Some brands launch online communities that offer many features, which can lead to high development costs. For instance, some have extensive communications, search and analytics functions. These features can require huge amounts of resources to develop, all of which could potentially go to waste if the feature doesn't get used or is fundamentally flawed.
Apart from the above, other potential issues include developing an authentic brand voice, respecting boundaries, keeping your community engaged, and policing content. Though this might seem a little daunting, I can assure you that the benefits of having an active community far outweigh the development and maintenance costs.
How to Encourage Users to Create Value
At this point you're probably asking "how do I get users to create value in the first place?"
First, you need to give them a reason to become part of your community. You need to make them WANT to be part of the "squad." You can tap into their innate desire to belong to a community and help others or you can focus on the opportunity to learn from industry experts.
When a brand engages with their audience online, it sets an example and encourages other users to participate and join the conversation. This is highly evident on social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter where users can communicate with brands directly.
It's important to know who your audience is at this point, so you can develop themes to ignite their interest. Much like producing owned media, you should first listen to your audience to find out what they're interested in and what they're concerned about. Then use this information about your audience to develop themes, topics and subjects that focus on their needs, wants and desires. The more user-centric your system is, the better it'll work.
To help you along the way, here are the basic principles to creating an online community:
The Power of Communities
In its simplest form, members of a community help each other grow. Communities offer people support, encouragement and expert knowledge along with providing a sense of belongingness.
For brands, communities can be just as powerful. The stronger your community, the more likely it is that it will help you sustain your business. When it comes to establishing your brand as an industry leader and thought innovator, there's not much that's more compelling than having your own strong community.
Not convinced? Here's the proof:
Think about companies like Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, and Alibaba. The nature of their business models depend entirely on their communities. The larger they are, the more value they provide to individual members. But, keep in mind that these are extreme cases whereby the products are essentially the communities themselves.
Though many businesses won't have the need or ability to create a community-centered website, they can always have a presence on social media and via blog comments, which can be just as beneficial. Online communities can help further showcase your brand's products or services and attract new members to come aboard. Bottom line, you need to bring your community into your marketing.
Think of it as a channel for free marketing and PR. Now, who wouldn't want that?
via Blogger How to Leverage User-Generated Content in Your Marketing Strategy
The inbound movement has always been about one thing: being relevant and truly helpful to your audience.
This approach shouldn't change, but as technology and internal company relationships change, marketers and salespeople must learn how to adapt to better serve their customers.
To better understand how our relationships with consumers and coworkers are changing, we collected data from more than 6,300 marketers and salespeople from around the globe, which we've compiled in the 2017 State of Inbound report. It examines the relationship between company leadership and employees, details on collaboration between marketing and sales teams, and a look at what the industry’s foremost marketers are adding to their strategy in the coming year.
Check out the full report here, or view some of the most interesting highlights below.
9 Stats You Need to Know From the 2017 State of Inbound Report
1) 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective. [Tweet this]
Last year, we started to examine marketers' thoughts on their organizations' marketing strategy and found that inbound marketers are much more likely to be satisfied with their organization's approach.
We're happy to report that this trend continued. 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective. However, the majority of outbound marketers (52%) do not think their strategy is effective.
2) 1/3 of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated. [Tweet this]
It’s not simply the effectiveness of the inbound philosophy that encourages us, but the success of inbound when compared to alternative methods. Each year, marketers tell us that outbound practices are overrated.
While we admit we might be a bit biased, when we cut the data, marketers agreed. According to this year’s data, 32% of marketers rank outbound marketing practices such as paid advertising as the top waste of time and resources.
3) C-level executives and individual contributors disagree about the effectiveness of their organizations' marketing strategy. [Tweet this]
Over the years, we've continued to examine the relationship between marketers and salespeople. This year, we discovered an interesting trend in the data: Company leadership and individual contributor employees are struggling under a growing corporate chasm.
This means that leadership and employees often view their company, its performance, and its future very differently. For example, while 69% of C-level executives believe their organizations' marketing strategies are effective, only 55% of individual contributors agree. Leaders who want their business to grow must learn how to effectively communicate the organization's vision and goals with their employees.
4) Marketers struggle most with metrics-driven challenges. [Tweet this]
Marketers find tracking and making sense of their metrics a challenge. This year, 63% of marketers admit that their top challenge is generating enough traffic and leads. This is followed by 40% who struggle proving the ROI of marketing activities and 28% who are trying to secure enough budget.
All three of these top challenges are metrics-driven. Without the proper tools to track concrete campaign results, these areas will continue to be a struggle.
5) Organizations with an SLA are more than 3X as likely to be effective. [Tweet this]
When we began publishing this report nine years ago, much of our data revolved around the adoption of inbound marketing. As the message spread, we began to see why it’s crucial for both marketing and sales teams to adopt the inbound methodology together. One of the main ways this is done is through a service-level agreement (SLA).
Despite the fact that only 22% of organizations say they have a tightly-aligned SLA, the benefits of having one are clear: 81% of marketers with as SLA think their marketing strategy is effective. In fact, there is no combination of factors more strongly correlated with marketing success than being both inbound and having an SLA.
6) 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder. [Tweet this]
While marketers struggle with tracking the metrics of their campaigns, salespeople admit that getting a response from prospects is a growing challenge. However, as you dive deeper into the data, you see the problem starts long before salespeople begin contacting prospects.
38% of salespeople say that they struggle most with prospecting. While there is an abundance of new technology and platforms to help salespeople connect and develop relationships with prospects, many are finding it difficult to incorporate this technology into their daily routine. In fact, 19% of salespeople say they're struggling to incorporate social media in their sales process, and 13% say using sales technologies is now harder than it used to be.
7) Marketers think video and messaging apps have the potential to disrupt. [Tweet this]
As marketers prepare for the future, many plan to use a variety of content publishing platforms. In the past, content marketers poured their efforts into their email, website, and blog strategies. But with the rising trend of content decentralization, marketers are now seeing the benefit of publishing on a variety of channels.
In our study, marketers are paying more attention to video’s global appeal, with 48% planning on investing in YouTube and 39% looking to add Facebook video to their strategy. In addition, many marketers are experimenting with messaging apps, while others continue to focus on more visual platforms such as Instagram.
But don’t think the age of the blog is over. 53% of respondents say blog content creation is one of their top inbound marketing priorities.
8) 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. [Tweet this]
Getting a response from prospects is not the only challenge salespeople are facing. According to our 2017 data, 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. Another 23% of salespeople say their biggest challenge using their CRM is manual data entry.
The more time salespeople spend on data entry, the less time they have to do what they are skilled at: closing deals. Not only is manual data entry time consuming, it can also be detrimental to the business. Storing contacts in an unorganized way or not properly using a CRM can lead to a disjointed sales strategy. Businesses should look to sales tools that include automation, integrate with their other platforms, and provide insight into the full customer journey.
9) Marketers and salespeople don't see eye to eye on the quality of marketing-sourced leads. [Tweet this]
We know there's a disconnect between marketing and sales teams around the definition of a quality lead, but this year's report shows a drastic gap.
59% of marketers say they provide salespeople with very high-quality leads, but only 25% of salespeople agree. In fact, the majority of salespeople -- from the C-suite to individual contributors -- rank marketing leads last, behind referrals and sales-sourced leads. This data continues to highlight the importance of SLAs.
Want more data-backed insights? This is just a preview of the State of Inbound report. Download the report for free to discover how inbound marketing and sales is evolving.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
via Blogger 9 Inbound Marketing Stats You Need to Know in 2017 [New Data]
Marketers and readers agree -- videos and social media make up the next great frontier of content marketing and distribution.
The harder question to answer: How do we quickly and easily make those shareable videos our audiences want to see on social media?
There are a lot of ways to create video content directly within social media apps. Think: Facebook Live, Periscope, and Snapchat Stories. But these videos are live, spontaneous, and unpolished. They're authentic -- but sometimes, you might want to create something more technical and creative.
Here's where Clips comes in -- Apple's solution to easy social media visual content creation. Read on to learn all about the app, what you can do with it, and how to use it.
What is Clips?
Clips is a mobile photo and video editing app that helps users quickly and easily create shareable visual content for social media and its Messages app.
Its simple interface features a record/capture button, filters, emojis and geotags, and cards. If these features sound familiar, it's because Clips borrows some of the most popular and engaging features from apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
But Apple isn't trying to create another photo and video sharing app that would inevitably compete with these other platforms. Instead, it's created one to easily film, edit, and upload visual content to apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
Apple takes Clips a couple steps further with two other cool features: automatic subtitling and a widget to add music from Apple Music. Let's dive into how to use all of these neat video editing tools to make a highly shareable social media video.
How to Use Clips
Download Clips free of charge in the iOS App Store. As the name of the parent company might suggest, Clips is currently only available on iOS devices.
How to Record
When you open up Clips, you'll see a big, red recording button. You can toggle between photo and video recording, or you can select a photo or video already recorded on your device. Tap the red button to capture a photo, or hold down the red button to record a video.
You can record Clips up to 30 minutes in length at a time.
How to Add Automatic Subtitles
Tap the bubble text icon on the top of your Clips camera view, and choose the font style the way you'd like your subtitles to appear.
Then, when you start recording, Clips will automatically subtitle the words you're speaking. I had to record this video several times to get it right -- you have to speak very clearly and slower than usual into your device's microphone. Here's what a short Clip with automatic subtitles looks like:
How to Add a Filter
Tap the triple Venn-diagram at the top of your Clips camera view and different filtering options will appear. Tap the one you like, then record your photo or video as normal.
How to Add Emojis & Geotags
Tap the star icon at the top of your Clips camera view and choose a sticker to add to your photo or video. Here's what one looks like in action:
How to Add a Card
Clips has a few options for static or moving images you can customize with your narration or music (more on that next). Tap the letter T at the top of your Clips camera view and select a card you want to use for your photo or video. Here's an example I chose to wish someone a happy birthday:
How to Add Music
Clips gives you the ability to add music from your own library, or its library of stock soundtracks, by tapping the music note in the upper right-hand corner of the Clips camera view. Tap a track to download and select it for your Clip
How to Share Clips
Tap the downward-pointing arrow in the upper-left hand corner of your Clips camera view to look at your work. From there, you can create a new video or share the Clips you've already created.
When you record several Clips in one sitting, they'll be woven together into one large recording when you go to share. To avoid this, tap the arrow after each recording to create a new video project altogether.
Next, tap the sharing icon in the lower right-hand corner to pull up the screen below:
From here, you can easily share your Clips via Messages, email, or you can save your Clips to your device.
Where to Share Clips
In addition to the channels above, you can easily share Clips where they were designed to be shared -- on social media. If you tap the "More" ellipses, you can add other social networks to your sharing options, as shown below:
Clips is a fun, easy-to-use app that allows you to create highly shareable images and videos. By adding a few embellishments like subtitles, filters, and emojis, content is easier to consume and share on a variety of platforms -- without having to film and edit a video with professional equipment and software.
Have you tried creating video content using Clips yet? Share with us in the comments below.
via Blogger Clips 101: How to Use Apple’s New Camera App
I've seen the inside of hundreds of marketing agencies over more than a decade, including my own.
Most marketing agencies struggle to generate recurring revenue. Many suffer through the ups and downs of the cash-flow roller-coaster because they never make the switch to recurring-revenue engagements.
Some inch their way to consistency by securing one, two, and three thousand dollar per month engagements. But, those low fees aren't usually enough to justify much work, and after failing to make a big impact on their client's business, they get fired after 6 months or a year.
On the flip side, I've also had the opportunity to see many agencies prosper as they've secured bigger and bigger clients that stick with them for years. When I met Stream Creative (now a Platinum HubSpot Partner) in 2010 at HubSpot's INBOUND event, they told me they had no recurring revenue. Every year I'd ask them, "How much revenue is from recurring contracts now?" Every year, their percentage would go up. Last year, their response was, "All of our clients start as retainers, and now we add projects on top of that."
I have hundreds of stories like this. This kind of success continues to fuel me in my mission to help agencies grow their recurring revenue. It's why I started HubSpot's agency partner program in 2008, and why I've launched an agency partner program at my new company, Databox.
Below, I've compiled a list of some common dumb moves that prevent agencies from winning new retainers, landing bigger ones, or losing those precious few ongoing contracts -- and what to do instead.
9 Reasons Your Retainers Aren't Bigger
1) Your Own Marketing Sucks
You wouldn't hire a dentist with rotten teeth or hire an account who has filed bankruptcy 6 times over.
So why the hell would a company hire an agency that doesn't prioritize their own marketing?
I'm not going to lecture you on how to do this. If you don't know how to market your own business, you have bigger problems.
But if you want to start winning more, get more at bats by doing inbound, internet marketing.
If you need some inspiration, follow the lead of Impact Branding, a HubSpot Diamond Partner who now gets more than a quarter million visitors to their site every month. "We've grown from two to thirty-two people and the majority of our clients have found us through our online marketing. The smartest decision I made as a startup agency was to dedicate time to it and when we were bigger, to dedicate a full time person to it."
2) Your Clients Are More Tech-Savvy Than You
Marketing technology is a given these days. Clients expect you to have expertise in the software products they've chosen.
When I ran my own little agency, marketing software was pretty new. Google Analytics, Moz, and Constant Contact were really the only well-known tools. There was such a lack of tools, we often edited websites with Notepad and configured our own email server for sending email campaigns.
When I joined HubSpot in 2007, web content management systems were still pretty new and HubSpot was really just a blogging platform with some keyword research tools and a form builder built into it. Today, HubSpot is a full marketing and sales growth stack that makes it possible to execute a multi-channel marketing campaign. And at Databox, our average paying customer visualizes key performance indicators from more than five different tools.
You need to be a tech-step ahead of your prospects.
3) You Aren't Aligned with Marketing Technology Vendors
Marketing technology isn't just a fact of life you must adapt to. It's a massive business development opportunity for agencies.
Here's why: marketing technology is booming. Investors have been putting billions of dollars behind marketing technology companies (known as martech) and it's cousin, salestech, for more than a decade now. There are a bunch of marketing technology companies generating hundreds of millions of dollars -- and a few generating more than a billion dollars in annual revenue. In fact, marketers are expected to spend more than $120 Billion over the next 10 years.
Where do you think they're investing all that money? They are putting much of it into marketing and sales, or what they like to call it: customer acquisition. In fact, they're putting more into sales and marketing than they make in many cases, as investors continue to put money behind them and their unprecedented growth curves.
When I started HubSpot's agency program, partnerships between martech companies and agencies was a pretty new idea. But, today, most of these companies have agency partner programs. And the benefits of partnering are great for agencies.
In addition to earning commission when you resell their products, you can also do co-marketing to generate leads, buddy up with their sales teams to get referrals, and market and sell your expertise directly to their install base. In other words, you can leverage their customer acquisitions machines to generate new clients for you.
If you pursue these partnerships to help you win new clients, you can't fake your way through it, though. First assign someone from within your agency to identify, learn and drive adoption of new software programs.
"Clients hire us because of our experience identifying and using technology to improve their marketing and sales results. They've come to depend on us for evaluating new technology and presenting new opportunities to them. Even though HubSpot is a broad "all-in-one" marketing and sales platform, our average client uses more than 5 pieces of software integrated with it," said Elyse Meyer, owner of Prism Global Marketing Solutions. Her firm won HubSpot's Integrations Innovations Award for leveraging HubSpot and other software that is integrated with HubSpot to drive client results.
Maybe you're just not that into technology, though, and this doesn't feel natural. If for no other reason, do it for the leads. "Not only do our clients get better results, but we get more opportunities with larger companies that are looking for a tech-savvy agency that can focus on their business holistically," Meyer added.
And if you're clinging to your "We're technology agnostic" line, stop it. Like any other personal or business relationship, the benefits of picking a mate are greater than going it alone. Plus, I usually find that technology-agnostic agencies are actually just technology-ignorant. I bet your prospects will make the same conclusion.
4) You Look and Sound Like Everyone Else
As I was building HubSpot's agency program, Enns and fellow agency luminaries David Baker and Tim Williams started warning me that the sheer volume of HubSpot partners marketing themselves with the same message and the same tactics will soon make them all look like a commodity.
And even though demand for inbound-certified practitioners still outweighs supply, inbound agencies do tell me they are being shopped around more and more and under-cut by new entrants all the time.
But this doesn't mean your agency shouldn't do inbound marketing. Inbound is an unstoppable movement driven by buyer's interest in self-educating, self-serving, and ultimately, being served better.
What it does mean is that you must differentiate yourself by establishing an expertise no one else can match in another way. A great example of this is TREW Marketing, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot partner that helps companies market to engineers. But they don't market to all kinds of engineers. They've specialized even further than that. They focus on working with specific types of manufacturing companies like control and automation companies, embedded semiconductor solutions, and just two other specialties that I (nor you, probably) will understand even if I name them.
Here's an excerpt from their website: "TREW helps design and embedded companies generate demand for their wireless chips, reconfigurable FPGAs, UI development software, and electronic control solutions (to name a few!) in this rapidly changing space." Find another agency with that on their website. Go ahead, I dare you. They even wrote the book on inbound marketing to engineers.
"By focusing on these niche markets, we bring our collective knowledge of what works to each client, making it a win-win for both agency and client," explains Rebecca Geier of TREW Marketing. "Not only can we serve them better than anyone else because we understand their products, markets and technical buyer, we can do it faster and more effectively than any other agency. Based on our knowledge and relevant experience with similar industries, we can help them create a differentiated position, develop content engineers are seeking, and drive conversions to fuel demand and business growth."
5) You're Trying to Be All Things to All People
Most agencies are small. According to Digiday, "Two thirds of advertising agencies in the U.S. employ fewer than five people."
There is no way you can be an expert at everything. Instead, partner with firms who are truly experts at things and focus your own resources on developing one or two core competencies.
"Thousands of HubSpot customers use our website templates. We've worked with hundreds of them one-on-one to lower their Cost per Customer Acquisition with Conversion Rate Optimization." said Joe Jerome, owner of Brand Builder Solutions. "Not only does our efficiency allow us to beat the competition on price, but we're continuously investing in our processes and systems around this type of work."
I personally know several other agencies who outsource their work to Jerome's team because his quality is high and because he stays in his lane. He doesn't offer the kind of services his agency partners do. Therefore, agencies trust him not to steal their clients. And Jerome is often in a position to refer agencies work too.
Find partners who are experts at one or two things, and be more like them too by building your own deep expertise in one or two things.
6) You're Not Using Data To Justify Investments
Marketing results are more predictable today than they've ever been. It's not an exact science, but over time, more and more things have become measurable.
Just a few years ago, it was possible only to measure CTR of paid ads and not ultimate conversion rates. Now that's easy. As technology continues to advance, marketing and sales activities will become even more measurable and improvable based on data.
And if you've been doing digital marketing correctly, you know the longer you work with a client, the more data you can collect, and the better you can predict the outcome of future marketing activities.
When you're starting out a relationship, it's hard to predict how much value or ROI you can deliver. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, though.
According to a survey we ran at Databox, most agencies use data in their sales process sometimes, but only 30% require their clients to give them access to data every time. In addition to putting forth a more relevant and customized proposal to the client, there must be a reason these agencies always request access. Maybe they close deals more often because they do?
Here's how they do it …
Without even asking for anything from your prospect, you can use tools like HubSpot's website grader to evaluate issues with a prospect's website or competitor grader to evaluate how they compare against their competition. You can use a tool like SEMRush to evaluate ways to increase organic search traffic.
Don't stop there. If the prospect has Google Analytics setup, ask for access so you can evaluate issues and find improvement opportunities. If they're already using tools like HubSpot or Databox, ask for access to those, so you can look for opportunities deeper in the funnel.
If you want to make this process systematic, consider developing standardized report templates for your agency that allow you to quickly view the data the way you want to view it, like HubSpot Platinum partner, FullFunnel did, "We've created templates for our core funnel metric reports that make it even easier and quicker to roll out new reports to new clients and prospects."
By doing this in your sales process, you'll demonstrate your approach to data-driven marketing and set the stage for using data to justify future investments too.
8) You Are Too Focused on Top of the Marketing Funnel Services
There are not enough agencies that know how to grow sales for their clients.
I'm not suggesting you should stop building or re-designing websites, ignore search engine optimization, or social media marketing, but at a minimum, you need to be able to connect those efforts to sales.
To do that in a B2B or high-ticket B2C client, you need to serve the sales leader as much as you serve marketing. Marketing is essentially a support function for sales, so it's ludicrous that an agency wouldn't.
In the early days of HubSpot, we taught agencies how to generate leads for clients, which certainly helped turn top of the funnel results into client revenue. Then, as marketing automation became popular, generating qualified sales leads became the norm.
Today, generating qualified leads is no longer good enough. Agencies need to help drive CRM usage, align sales and marketing goals and messaging and enable sales teams with training and content for use during the sales process.
Many agencies have told me they've doubled their retainer sizes by offering sales enablement services. Other than the fact they have no reason to lie to me, I believe them. Why? Enabling a sales team is a time-consuming activity when done right. And it is a very quick return on investment when done right too. In one case, an agency reported they created a "a more stable pipeline and consistent flow of opportunities" just be getting the sales team to send out a sequence of pre-written templated emails to one additional prospect per day.
9) You Aren't Introducing New Ideas to Clients
Typically, companies hire agencies because (a) they don't think they can execute on certain concepts in-house or (b) because the same old stuff isn't working as well as it once did.
It's an enviable position to be in where clients are expecting you to pitch them new things. Most companies are expected to just do what they're hired to do.
If your agency isn't introducing new ideas to clients, you're not only failing to deliver on expectations, you're squandering an opportunity to retain and grow your client accounts.
Don't have ideas of your own? Leverage technology to find opportunities for improvement. LeadG2, a HubSpot Platinum Partner leveraged SeventhSense, a send-time personalization solution, to do just that. Email marketing is an extremely important marketing channel for many of their clients, and they were at a loss on how to improve deliverability, opens, and click-through rates. By using SeventhSense to send emails to individual recipients based on the recipient's activity profile, they achieved "a 26% Increase in open rate, 141.38% increase in read rate, and a reduction in hard bounces to almost zero."
There are plenty of technology companies with clever ways to help your clients grow traffic, leads, and sales. Don't feel like you have to figure it out all on your own.
Do These Things to Land Bigger Retainers
Most agencies really struggle to grow. The most common blocker I've seen is they take on project after unprofitable project.
While conventional ‘marketing agency' wisdom says you need to go upstream to get bigger retainers, my work with HubSpot partners proves you can get bigger retainers from small and mid-sized businesses too. Sure, it helps to go upstream and you can gradually move upstream if you want. But, don't fool yourself into thinking you need to go out and miraculously land big clients to get there.
Instead, stop making the mistakes above. Alternatively, start doing the things below.
Start doing all of these things and I guarantee you'll never have cash flow problems again. Instead, you'll start growing revenue and profit consistently. Oh yeah -- and you'll have bigger retainers too.
via Blogger 9 Reasons Your Marketing Agency's Retainers Aren't Bigger