The Path To Experience-Driven Commerce

There | July 10, 2019

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There is no more business as usual. The world’s biggest taxi company owns exactly zero taxis. The largest hotelier owns zero rooms in zero hotels. The hottest name in designer fashion sells no clothing. Some of today’s fastest growing companies are taking on mature markets by simply changing the way people shop. Uber, Airbnb, Re

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Paradoxes is a strategic marketing company that helps organizations identify problems and opportunities, why they exist, and what to do about them. Our unique use of research, analysis, and positioning services enables organizations to continue improving through making smarter decisions…

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How LinkedIn ABM Enhances B2B Branding

Article | August 11, 2021

It’s hard to believe that a B2B marketer isn’t aware of the value of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and has switched over as well. Being in a B2B business, if your priorities include efficacious alignment with sales, delivering higher quality and apter leads, and linking other marketing activities that hit directly to revenue, ABM is undoubtedly a practical part of your thinking. But, despite this, only because the benefits are understood doesn’t state that the process for building an ABM program always is the same. ABM can feel daunting for several reasons, such as: The complex task of pulling data together for target accounts The science of profiling those accounts and categorizing audiences The long-lasting task of personalizing content And the effort involved in generating the momentum to make it all happen However, it might be easy to assume that ABM is only workable for larger businesses with sophisticated analytics and resource to spare. But the fact is ABM is already delivering value for a wide range of businesses. And those businesses find many essential ingredients for doing effective ABM. Out of which, a popular ingredient is LinkedIn. It’s through LinkedIn tools that they are now integrating data from both sales and marketing. For example, by having LinkedIn-based marketing, they can now easily have a real-time view of accounts' engagement. It’s on LinkedIn where they find the targeting capabilities to deliver personalized content to the right target audiences. And it’s on LinkedIn where they can find the capabilities to scale ABM programs flexibly. Footing of LinkedIn Account-Based Marketing ABM strategy demonstrates benefits such as the ability to look at the impact of engagement in detail. It enables you to be precise about whom you are targeting and why. The more insight you can integrate while working with sales to plan an ABM program is the better. The sources can come through various marketing automation platforms, ABM-specific tools, and ABM strategies. However, it’s unusual to spot an ABM program that doesn’t combine LinkedIn as a vital source of insight or, say, as a constant source of data collection and the crucial execution channel. Its function across the various stages of an ABM program makes LinkedIn a worthy starting point for marketing teams to build an ABM strategy. Even if you are starting with confined in-house data, LinkedIn affords the essentials for prioritizing accounts, identifying the critical prospects to target, delivering personalized content, and tracking the impact of what you’re doing. It’s one crucial foundation of ABM, which you can build on as you gain more insight. What’s Inside—LinkedIn Account-Based Marketing Many consumers decide to buy a product or service before ever encountering it personally. Of course, this also applies to B2B buying. How is that? People research in B2B as much as in B2C. In the age of social media, people purchase solely through research. Social media has empowered people to research more than ever before, and for B2B, this is oftentimes observed through LinkedIn. People can research every single angle and aspect of a brand and company, from corporate social responsibility and community engagement to followers. In addition, they can research the CEO personally — what the CEO is saying, doing, and buying. So, when people are deciding whether to buy from you, they research. The first thing they'll do is search for you through the LinkedIn profile. When people click on your LinkedIn, they’ll get a positive impression if you have positive content and recommendations and lots of positive engagement on your page. Your content is positive and would lead when it shows long-form posts, short-form posts, videos, graphs, white papers, and figures that explain what you do, how you do it, and what you can do for people. When audiences are involving with your content, it's high time that you know what you are doing and are an expert in it. When Media 7 interviewed Udi Ledergor, Chief Marketing Officer at Gong, he said, “Our top channels for engaging our audience of sales professionals include our LinkedIn page, our highly engaged audience at our LinkedIn profile, and our enthusiastic list of email subscribers. To complement our digital channels, we supplement them with a good dose of content, which includes advertising, and other mediums not often used in B2B Marketing.” Similar to this, when Media 7 interviewed Ed Breault, Chief Marketing Officer at Aprimo said, “We are “humanizing” communications as much as possible, over the phone for voice, broadcast, media buying within different properties like LinkedIn. I think it’s a drive to strike a balance to create a complete experience for my audience. The foremost motivation to innovate should be solving a real-world problem your customers are experiencing.” LinkedIn Account-based Marketing has created value to add for ABM strategies. However, LinkedIn targeting also plays a vital role for smaller marketing teams who have just stepped in their ABM journey and are hungry to gain meaningful insights to help plan their program. Here are some crucial ways to use LinkedIn for targeting campaigns at the stages of executing an ABM: Build a Personal Brand One of the best ways to engage with essential accounts through LinkedIn Account-based Marketing is to have decision-makers as part of your existing system. If you already have a trustworthy relationship with them, they will be more probable to trust you and buy from you. You can take advantage of LinkedIn to build a personal brand, build solutions, and aware your accounts. There is no secret hack to using LinkedIn to expand your personal and company brand. Be authentic. Provide significance to your audience. Don't show up only to sell. To build your brand, the best content type to post will solely depend on your audience. However, LinkedIn users are 10x more active in sharing videos than text-related posts. So, ensure creating your content in the format your audience wants to consume it. Outline the Priority Accounts You can’t stay relaxed after you assign a high-value account for your ABM program. You also need to spend time profiling the business, identifying important stakeholder audiences, and developing a plan for them. The time you invest in understanding your top-priority accounts won’t only support sales, but you will also be creating relevant personas for your broader ABM program. To know how to go about profiling accounts on LinkedIn, you need to know that the Buyer Circle feature within LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a perfect starting point for profiling your priority accounts. In this, you will be able to identify all of the decision-makers and influencers expected to be involved in a purchase decision. Choose Types of Ads Ideal for LinkedIn Account-based Marketing There remains a wide range of advertisement options similar to your target audience. Determining which ones will be the best fit according to your business can benefit your ads to land with an extra punch. Let’s understand it in detail. Content Sponsored Ads A sponsored content is proven to be one of the most effective ad types to engage the audience and is best considered an easy way to get started with LinkedIn account-based marketing. In case of point, you can use an existing post on your company’s page or create a most relevant to your target audience. Content can include images, articles, videos, or presentations that win audiences’ hearts. Likewise, carousel images are a particularly robust strategy that can help humanize your brand through your ads. With the ability to use several images that can link to multiple landing pages of the company’s website, you can share more of your company’s story. Carousel-based ads can even boost your target audience to stop scrolling through their feed and interact with your ad directly to get in contact with your sales team. LinkedIn Text Ad A text ad only includes words. This means you can’t rely on fancy images to draw in leads. Instead, it’s all focused on a creative copy. Text ads can be valuable, especially because they may be cheaper than other ads, and where you can easily update the text to achieve the best ROI. So, if you are thinking of creating specific campaigns, use LinkedIn targeting options and see the results. LinkedIn Display Ads Right in line with LinkedIn account-based targeting, display ads let you target an extremely specified audience. In addition, with using a variety of content for your ads, like text, audio, video, or images, LinkedIn targeting becomes easier. The benefit you get is that you can strengthen your brand and ultimately reach more professionals, decision-makers, and influencers worldwide. LinkedIn Video Ads Video has become a popular choice for brand content because video ads make up 35% of total online expenditure. It’s a simple yet effective way to deliver your company’s message in a creative and informative method. Luckily, you can also utilize video with your ads, as LinkedIn privileges this content format in the best ways. If nothing, begin with creating video ads on LinkedIn for targeting campaigns. Generate Content that Works the Best The ability to deliver customized content is the optimum truth for an ABM program—because everything pivots around it. Personalized content is the bridge where sales meet marketing execution. If it is done right, it means that influencers and decision-makers engage with content that reflects the business’s needs and the priorities in its respective role. Creating personalized content maximizes the engagement that it can generate. For example, in LinkedIn’s recent State of Sales survey, 87% of B2B buyers in Europe say they are more probable to consider products or services from a brand that engages them with content precisely relevant to their role. Similarly, LinkedIn’s exceptional targeting capabilities play a prominent role in a lot of ABM strategies. LinkedIn account targeting ensures that, when you modify content to fit a priority account, you can deliver that content exclusively to that account Keeping an attractive offer for an eBook, guide, white paper, or infographic can be perfect for drawing key prospects’ attention. It is because you never know how it might ultimately create an easy opportunity for a conversion. How do you Now Convert Leads? While you might upload your target list appropriately, create a captivating ad for your audience, and set up all options correctly, still you might have a remaining question in the back of your mind: What if I don’t get conversions? That’s the entire purpose of this, after all. You don’t want to fade off at the last step! When lining up your ad for lead generation, you can indicate your target audience between sending them to your website’s external landing page or filling out a LinkedIn form. While an impeccably executed landing page can convert leads, LinkedIn also might deliver different options to let them fill out a form, where their information will be swiftly and efficiently filled based on their profile. That’s what the power of LinkedIn account-based marketing is doing to other B2B business bodies. Track Engagement for Best Results In the last, it is an obvious step to take! The multiple benefits of tracking your engagement will be equally apparent. Tracking the results of your accounts through LinkedIn account-based marketing can aid you, and your account-based marketer to better understand who other prospects are required to be targeted within existing accounts. Also, you can track at an appropriate time, to give an extra gentle push in the funnel. Activating real-time alerts so that your account-based marketer can get in touch with the accounts that have demonstrated interest in your business within an appropriate time frame. Doing this can help discover further opportunities that may have been missed otherwise. Providing these alerts can enable your account-based marketer to perceive exactly when targeted accounts engage with your ads. Of course, this swells up your engagement score. From this, your team can take additional steps and use that information to determine which accounts aren’t engaging and think critically—why some offerings are working and how you can change the ads that aren’t responding. Since every campaign is different, you will have to determine individual goals for each of the accounts. However, if your campaign is underperforming, there are steps you can always take to make improvements. Ready to Start-up your ABM Process with LinkedIn? Most business professionals are already strengthening LinkedIn for networking, inspiration, and knowledge sharing. So why not use the platform for everything of which it is worth able? No other social media platforms are as specific and curated as LinkedIn. So, if you know whom you are targeting and looking for a new way to capture leads, it’s not too late to use LinkedIn Account-Based marketing techniques. Again because, people are researching you, whether you like it or not. The great thing about LinkedIn Account-Based marketing is that you can take the bull by the horns and proactively craft your LinkedIn profile to guide their research on you. In this way, you are the one writing your narrative and deciding their opinion of you so that your social selling can take off. Frequently Asked Questions What are the benefits of using LinkedIn for ABM? The benefits of using LinkedIn for ABM are generating leads, driving website traffic, multiplying ROI, creating brand awareness, showing marketing potential, and marketing functionalities, among many others. What is the top 3 reason to use LinkedIn for ABM? Well, several reasons are evolving each day to use LinkedIn for ABM, but the reasons actually will give you results are: Selection of targets To profile priority accounts Score leads How to use LinkedIn ABM to generate leads? There are some steps to follow to generate leads using LinkedIn ABM. Don’t miss out on these. Firstly, know your audience Find them on LinkedIn Create a list of target accounts from their LinkedIn profile Specify your accounts Create content through keeping accounts and their business needs Choose your ad type and specify to your audience Post, tag, share throughout the platform Track your engagement { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the benefits of using LinkedIn for ABM?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The benefits of using LinkedIn for ABM are generating leads, driving website traffic, multiplying ROI, creating brand awareness, showing marketing potential, and marketing functionalities, among many others." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is the top 3 reason to use LinkedIn for ABM?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Well, several reasons are evolving each day to use LinkedIn for ABM, but the reasons actually will give you results are: Selection of targets To profile priority accounts Score leads" } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How to use LinkedIn ABM to generate leads?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "There are some steps to follow to generate leads using LinkedIn ABM. Don’t miss out on these. Firstly, know your audience Find them on LinkedIn Create a list of target accounts from their LinkedIn profile Specify your accounts Create content through keeping accounts and their business needs Choose your ad type and specify to your audience Post, tag, share throughout the platform Track your engagement" } }] }

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5 Reasons Why Account-Based Marketing Gives Better ROI

Article | July 23, 2021

ROI matters in B2B business. Account-based marketing has reached a significant tipping point and has become an investment that could pay off for the years to come. It is because B2B marketers are achieving substantial results with the help of ABM, and those who haven't started using it yet are planning to implement it. And why not? This type of marketing harnesses the best marketing tactics for creating highly relevant campaigns that positively impact a B2B businesses’ bottom line. Forrester describes ABM as "a strategy by which marketing and sales cooperatively work to pursue, establish, and grow in long-term and engage in revenue-generating relationships with specific accounts." As a result, its study says that 71 percent of companies that invest in ABM report that their return on investment is fairly or significantly higher than traditional marketing programs it used before. Now that the importance of account-based marketing has come into the picture while detailing the reasons why ABM gives a better ROI. It is decisive to know why you should get interested in ABM. Importance of Account-Based Marketing ABM is vital to your marketing strategy because it helps you create a more targeted and effective campaign. In other words, it has the potential to fuel growth for years into your B2B business future and develop stronger relationships with customers who matter most in support of your business objectives. Understand that ABM is more than social media advertising that incorporates traditional marketing methods such as direct mail and email marketing. Similarly, marketing automation is yet another crucial part of ABM. When you automate your ABM, you get qualified leads and prospecting activities. This gives you a competitive advantage over other companies in your industry so that you can get an insight into what your competitors are up to. But, most importantly, you get a higher chance of getting the right prospect to what you offer. In connection to this, here comes an important step to include—creating relevant content. It is because when it comes to ABM, relevance is all that matters. Your offers need to be tailored for qualified prospects, and not all noise will cut through the clutter anymore. A recent Forrester Consulting study by LiveRamp surveyed 312 B2B marketers across six industries found that nearly all marketers said their businesses are committed to using ABM as a revenue-driving strategy in the present time. Similarly, most marketers also reported a high level of confidence by using a wide range of ABM capabilities. Let’s deep dive into five reasons why ABM offers a better return on investment than more traditional methods. Efficient Operations for Sales and Marketing ABM users highlight its role in bringing sales and marketing closer to collaborate on developing and executing sales and marketing strategies. As per Bizible’s research, marketers are now 40 percent more likely to align their strategy with sales because of ABM's strategy. By putting the teams together, sales and marketing can coordinate their outreach and ensure client engagement is conducted high-value and meaningful. Meanwhile, marketers benefit from a streamlined approach that lets them discard a far-and-wide marketing strategy favoring carefully chosen prospects. With having a focus on selected targets rather than scattershot marketing campaigns, marketers can now focus on harmonizing and automating their digital marketing efforts, which makes them ready to work on next-generation demand-gen platforms with the help of AI and machine learning. In this way, they can orchestrate their campaigns and exponentially grow the ROI of your business. This ensures the right account prospects and results in the most significant ROI potential. This automated marketing approach reduces the marketing team workload and saves staff precious time while preserving huge marketing dollars. Thus, more efficient spending and a higher threshold for returns will bring a significant ROI to your business. Master in Multichannel Amid the rush to digital marketing, which is gaining prominence in the current time, the most effective ABM strategy and programs create a balance of online and offline approaches, fully integrated across sales and marketing. In addition, account-based marketing automation saves marketers from making unnecessary costs, so they spend less on marketing while still getting results. Forrester's survey says that the key strengths of dedicated measurement solutions by ABM are the improved ability to track engagement and optimize across online and offline channels. This is so marketers can manage the frequency of engagement as well as precisely determine attribution. A Personalized Approach Personalization makes ABM so appealing to clients. ABM has a way of turning attention to detail, so it immediately gets a client’s interest. To be true, the marketing and sales teams have to be competent in conducting in-depth research of potential leads. When it’s done accurately, they will target clients based on their likelihood of converting, then develop personalized offers to get good results. For this, you have to keep a separate ROI of account-based marketing at the same level. When you have such a narrow focus, you get a chance to communicate with the specific prospect and craft a better offer for them. By providing a personalized approach, you have a high chance to see increased ROI of your business. Manage, Monitor Data Governance and Privacy Maintaining the privacy of prospect data is crucial for B2B organizations. In today’s time, where the lines between B2B and B2C marketing are increasingly blurred, applying strict governance policies over the use of prospect data is a must. In addition, people expect brands to respect privacy preferences and actively work to build trust. Every dollar counts in a crisis. But almost one-third of marketing professionals are still planning to increase their investments towards ABM in the next calendar year. Moreover, decision-makers expect those investments in digital to yield substantial business benefits; the pressure to deliver is higher than ever. So, to have an actual ROI of account-based marketing is equally crucial to enjoying a significant revenue of your business. ABM Encourages to Measure Performance By integrating ABM strategy and account-based marketing automation, marketers can identify and reinforce the most effective strategies to measure the performance of marketing efforts that exclusively depends on ROI generation. It’s easy to measure acumens when you have highly focused accounts and well-sorted campaigns. You need to perceive what content approach gains traction and what attempts fail to succeed. In a nutshell, when the businesses are identified, an account-based approach will offer precisely what a business needs; this will help your business gain maximum ROI. So, plan now for an account-centric marketing future. Your team can accelerate deliver strong business ROI out of account-based marketing automation programs by considering a cross-channel B2B business solution that can help fill capability gaps and evidently prove the worth of your ABM marketing efforts. Frequently Asked Questions How effective is ABM for generating ROI? When it comes to increasing the ROI of business, ABM helps drastically. It aligns sales and marketing teams to work together, which generates a positive ROI and increases revenue. In this, 60% of companies that use ABM experienced a revenue increase of at least 10% within a year, while one out of five companies experienced a 30% and more rise in revenue. What is a good ROI percentage for ABM? A good ROI percentage for ABM stands at 5:1, which is considered the middle of the curve. A ratio over 5:1 is considered robust for most businesses, whereas a 10:1 ratio is exceptional. What are the top 3 reasons to choose ABM marketing? The top three reasons are: To reach the right prospect that matters according to business To gain a competitive advantage ABM shortens long sales cycles { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How effective is ABM for generating ROI?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "When it comes to increasing the ROI of business, ABM helps drastically. It aligns sales and marketing teams to work together, which generates a positive ROI and increases revenue. In this, 60% of companies that use ABM experienced a revenue increase of at least 10% within a year, while one out of five companies experienced a 30% and more rise in revenue." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is a good ROI percentage for ABM?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "A good ROI percentage for ABM stands at 5:1, which is considered the middle of the curve. A ratio over 5:1 is considered robust for most businesses, whereas a 10:1 ratio is exceptional." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the top 3 reasons to choose ABM marketing?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The top three reasons are: To reach the right prospect that matters according to business To gain a competitive advantage ABM shortens long sales cycles" } }] }

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Data-Driven Marketing: 7 examples of using data as a force for the good

Article | September 10, 2020

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter. You can’t work in the marketing industry these days without constant talk of data. Data-driven marketing. Big data. Marketing analytics. Facebook is worth more than $650 billion, and it’s not because cat pics and grilled cheese sandwich selfies are so valuable. It’s because Facebook is just a big ol’ bag of user data. But I must admit and you might find yourself in the same boat using data doesn’t come naturally to me. I work in marketing because I’m a creative, not a statistician. If you feel the same way, here is an analogy that changed my mind. I was interviewing Wharton’s Peter Fader and Sarah Toms. We were discussing how Electronic Arts used data to improve the product. “When they realized the power of the data that Pete was just talking about, they had a bit of a crisis about identity. They're like, ‘but we're a creative company. How can we now be all data, all the time?’” Toms said. Zach Anderson, the chief analytics officer at Electronic Arts, won over those creative hearts and minds with this analogy: Cooking competitions shows where the chefs are doing incredibly creative things with ingredients that are given to them. So data is really just another ingredient you have at your disposal as you make your creative take on a classic matzoh ball soup or marketing campaign. “Data is actually a good thing that they should be embracing because it allows them to be even more creative,” Toms said. So with that approach in mind, let’s look at a few examples of using data as a force for the good while improving marketing results. Example #1: Focused view of data helps nonprofit that sells through ecommerce identify the best opportunity for revenue increase Data can quickly become overwhelming. So many numbers. How do you find the opportunity? TenbyThree© is a nonprofit that actually sells products. The charity sells baskets created by artisans in rural communities of developing countries to help the artisans pull themselves out of extreme poverty. And it had a whole lot going on with its team pulled in many directions. Where to focus? That focus because particularly important with the rise of COVID-19. TenbyThree mostly sold these baskets in brick-and-mortar locations like Whole Foods Market, Disney theme parks and specialty retailers. But with the pandemic came a massive drop in foot traffic and thus sales, so the nonprofit has tried to increase ecommerce sales through its website. The MECLABS Institute team (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) worked with TenbyThree to determine where to focus its conversion optimization discoveries. This data analysis uncovered an opportunity hidden in plain sight product tags. Each basket sold in stores had a tag with information on how to connect with the individual artisan who created the basket by going to TenbyThree’s website. Very few customers were using this feature. If the tags could be optimized to get more people to use the website’s artisan lookup feature, that increase in traffic would also likely help produce an increase in sales through the website. In The Marketer as Philosopher Episode 2, The Data Pattern Analysis: 3 ways to turn info into insight you can see the methodical approach used to uncover this data insight to help you identify more opportunities in your own data. The episode also teaches viewers how to use a Data Pattern Analysis Tool (you can download the tool for free here). To get more data help, you can participate in a Live Coaching Session with Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, on Thursday, August 20th 2020, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. In this Q&A session, participants will learn how to set up and use the Data Pattern Analysis Tool, simplify their data with three key dials, and apply the principles of The Marketer as Philosopher: Episode 2 to their own company. Example #2: Targeted database helps tent maker pivot It would be an understatement to say that COVID-19 has forced businesses to make significant changes. We’re all living it, we all know the impact. But some changes are more difficult than others. When that change is to focus on a new ideal customer, it can be difficult to pivot quickly. Many companies have built their customer base and customer contacts over many years. This is where external data can be helpful. For example, TentCraft sells tents to event producers for concerts. But the events industry halted worldwide in March. While the team always knew they were too narrowly focused on just one industry and should diversify the business, they never got around to acting on it. But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Suddenly they needed to pivot their entire go-to-market approach and find a new target customer quickly. The team came up with the idea to turn concert tents into drive-thru COVID-19 testing facilities, but they never sold to hospitals and didn’t know any hospital administrators. The team looked for a way to quickly enter a new market without increasing overhead. They worked with ZoomInfo to get data and insights for hospitals and other healthcare systems. They used the company and contact search to quickly execute a layered approach. The marketing team would start with a broader approach to outreach building an outreach list of 2,000 to 3,000 contacts. Based on open rates, responses and conversations, they learned not only about the specific roles they should be targeting but also what their pain points were. The sales team would use this information to create a more targeted outreach list of 100 to 200 contacts and then tailor messaging and visuals to demonstrate how TentCraft could address the specific pain points. The click-to-open rate for the broader emails ranged from 15% to 28% while the more targeted lists typically ranged from 35% to 45% with a handful nearing 60%. Keep in mind, when you see those numbers, that this was all cold outreach. Because they had phone numbers, job titles and location data, the marketing team was able to supply this information to the sales team in real-time when emails were being opened and links being clicked. This helped the teams prioritize, move to conversation quicker and shorten the sales cycle. Over $600,000 in revenue disappeared in March alone, but during the first two months of this pivot the company booked more than $2 million in revenue, and April was the biggest revenue month in company history (during a pandemic with the core revenue shut off). They are now 12% ahead of last year’s pace. In the first month of the pivot, they went into contract with more than 100 healthcare facilities which, remember, is an industry the tent maker had no prior experience with. This pivot was reactive. And while it has worked out thus far, the mindset in the company has now changed. “A big takeaway for our team is that we need to always be pivoting to new markets, new products, features and partners. That means pairing speed and agility with execution,” said Matt Bulloch, President, TentCraft. Example #3: Test data shows the benefits of value sequencing for HR software There may be many elements of appeal in your company’s value proposition. But your customer may not be ready to receive them all at once. That’s why effective value sequencing is so important. Where in the customer journey should the customer be introduced to different elements of your company’s value? Data can help show you the way. David Richter wanted to use marketing data to discover how to position his company’s brand and the messaging used at each stage of the marketing funnel. Richter works for CIPHR, a software platform that serves HR departments. “It’s a crowded market, and in any one year we find ourselves competing with upwards of fifty different vendors. In terms of functionality, it’s incredibly rare that any one provider has a distinctive edge over the entirety of the market. If functionality does get developed that is a game changer, then it’s quickly replicated by other similar providers,” said Richter, Director of Marketing, CIPHR. The one thing that sets CIPHR apart, according to Richter, is its attitude to integrating its people management platform with specialist, third-party tools. Since larger competitors have strategically acquired complementary businesses, they are less incented to integrate with third-party tools they don’t own, Richter says. However, Richter had concerns about leading with this “connectivity” in marketing communications. “Connectivity is the USP (unique selling proposition) that CIPHR has hung our hat on in our marketplace and the position we want to build a strong brand around,” he said. “The trouble is that, at the initial point of engagement, most HR professionals, when looking for an HR system, aren’t thinking about what it can integrate with.” Including terms like “API” or “integration” in subject lines cut the HR SaaS platform’s email open rate in half. Approximately two-thirds of all sales leads are generated through CIPHR’s website, so getting the messaging optimized for conversion is essential. To prove to the senior leadership that CIPHR should tailor the focus of its messaging through each stage of the sales cycle, Richter’s team decided to try different messaging on various landing pages on the website. The landing pages were only used for PPC traffic from the same, exact match keywords with the same ads displayed to generate the click. Landing page headline #1 — Generic HR Software with benefits message, e.g., “HR Software that reduces admin and helps you to work more efficiently,” converts traffic to inquiry at 14.1%. Landing page headline #2 — HR Software with connectivity message, e.g., “HR Software with brilliant connectivity,” converts traffic to inquiry at 10.2%. Landing page headline #3 — Connectivity message with no mention of HR Software, e.g., “Connect your people data throughout your organization,” converts traffic to inquiry at 6.4%. Armed with this data, CIPHR’s leadership is now happy to lead with relevant, product and benefit-led messaging on the website (pre-engagement) that positions connectivity as the differentiator. “We now also have a strong lead nurturing campaign to educate leads about the benefits of connectivity,” Richter said. Example #4: Online meditation school’s A/B testing on blog doubles student enrollment rate If you engage in A/B testing, you can learn from real customer behavior to serve your customers better while improving results. Here’s an example. “In building our platform, we have seen immense success from using a data-driven approach for most of our marketing decisions,” said Kyle Greenfield, Founder, TheJoyWithin.org. “One example is how we used Google Optimize testing combined with heatmap and flow data from Hotjar to improve our blog layout.” The online school for meditation, happiness, and personal empowerment discovered that less than 1% of blog readers were signing up for a free meditation course. The bounce rate was between 79-81% even though most readers were spending three to five minutes on the site. The team tested two elements of the blog's layout the sidebar and one inline internal ad placement. The team tested a new approach to be more direct about different options new students have on the platform. They moved away from a banner ad with the headline “Discover a Clear, Modern Path to Bliss” coupled with a list of potential benefits. The new approach was a direct question to the user, asking “How Can We Help?” coupled with a one-sentence explanation of what was offered, and three possible paths: “learn how to meditate,” “increase my happiness,” and “manifest my dream life.” They tested different variations of this idea, and ultimately found that making the message clearer and more direct, with fewer graphics and design elements, resulted in better conversion. This change was combined with testing of the placement of the inline ad. It began as a top-line insert before the post. But the team discovered that users were more engaged when the ad was placed a few paragraphs into the blog post. The previous data informed this decision, since the team knew users were already reading the content and scrolling down the page. With this change, the team was able to more than double student enrollment rates and reduce bounce rate by 12.5%, to 70%. Example #5: Incubator generates 300 leads to help the fight against hunger For marketers looking to do good in the world, sometimes they overlook a data basic your website should have a landing page with the ability to capture data from those interested in helping the cause. For example, Not Impossible Labs (NIL) describes itself as a one-of-a-kind technology incubator and content studio dedicated to changing the world and making the impossible possible for individuals faced with a range of problems (what it calls “absurdities”). Most recently, NIL tackled the absurdity of hunger, made all the more pressing by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, NIL began working with Salesforce and Postmates on a prototype platform to feed insecure people at scale. The incubator created a text-based service that connects people in need of food with pre-paid, nutritious, to-go meals from nearby restaurants. A child or family in need of food can text “hungry” and the solution connects them with nearby restaurants with extra food that would likely go to waste. In March of 2020 when the pandemic hit the United States, NIL was in the midst of deploying programs across the country to serve some of the 42 million people, of which 15.9 million are children, who go hungry each year. How did they make it possible or should I say, not impossible to fight hunger? A marketing landing page. Verndale and Sitecore offered pro bono help to create a landing page on the site to capture information from visitors in a form connected to a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to store the data. “We kept everything simple, from messaging and experience design, to providing several frictionless pathways to get involved. More conversion points created more opportunities to engage,” said Ross Lucivero, Manager Director of Verndale's Los Angeles office. NIL was able to gather data on approximately 300 leads who were ready to give, partner, spread the word, nominate a new city or get involved in their local community. “The newfound capability to capture individual leads as well as scale our ability to re-engage audiences is a game-changer,” said Joseph Babarsky, Director of Strategy & Partnerships, Not Impossible Labs. That re-engagement relies on the ability to have the data about who has visited the landing page previously and then present another marketing message to them a call-to-action on the Not Impossible homepage for those who have visited the Hunger campaign page but had not converted through a form submission or donation. “This customized prompt re-engages informed visitors and drives them back to the campaign environment to take action,” said Liz Spranzani, EVP of Technology, Verndale. “If you have an open mind the seemingly impossible can become possible. You can see this proven time and again through the work Not Impossible Labs has done to help individuals with a range of disabilities and, of course, with their hunger project,” said Paige O’Neill, CMO, Sitecore. Example #6: The inner workings of a customer review site Most discussions I’ve seen about data use in marketing focuses on categorizing how the data is collected. First-party data is collected by the company itself, and third-party data is sold to you by a company that aggregates data from many other companies. In addition to how data is collected, you should also consider how customers experience data. I would categorize that data in two ways data you control and data you don’t. The data you control might be in your advertising or your website, like “Nine out of ten dentists recommend Brusha Brusha toothbrushes.” The data you don’t control can be shared in the press or social media, and especially on review sites. One example is a site called Best Company. “The entire mission of Best Company is to harness data to improve the decision-making process for consumers across several industries. As a company, we believe we are changing the world for good by empowering consumers to make the best possible decisions with their money. We are a truly independent and impartial review site, promising accurate rankings and honest reviews and refusing to reward unmerited ranks for money,” said Rebecca Graham, Content Manager, Best Company. What this means for your company is that customers’ product and service experience is also part of your marketing. The more you can control and optimize the experience, the more you can optimize this type of data for your brand. “When reviews are available for all to see, companies practicing business with high value and integrity will naturally emerge as reputable leaders, whereas less trustworthy companies drop lower in rank,” Graham said. You can also learn from these websites as well. They provide valuable customer intelligence about how your brand is being perceived by real customers as well as opportunities for social proof and third-party credibility you can leverage in your marketing. “For example, on business lender Lendio's reviews page, prospective clients can see breakdowns of the star ratings on 400+ verified customer reviews, including the ratings of sentiment criteria like value for your money and customer service. Lendio, which currently has an average of 4.7/5 stars from customer reviews, can leverage the data referenced above by sharing on social media and through content marketing and email marketing copy,” Graham said. So pull out your company’s value proposition, take a look at how you express it in your marketing, and then see where customers agree and disagree. Where can you learn from customers to express elements of value in your marketing that customers are experiencing but you’re not communicating well? For example, Cotton Mask Co. discovered that its face masks were especially helpful to hearing aid wearers by monitoring customer reviews, and pivoted its marketing accordingly. But also, take a good hard look at the reviews and determine where your brand falls short. Is it because customers assume your company has a certain element of value that isn’t part of your stated value proposition? If so, change your marketing to clarify. Or is it just that your company is not living up to its value proposition? In that case, you have the data to show why the marketing department should get involved in the customers’ product and service experience to improve it. Since consumer reviews platforms provide data to customers when they are considering a purchase decision, it is important for brands to understand how they operate. So I asked Graham for a bit of an inside look at Best Company. There’s some she couldn’t share (like how their algorithm works), but I hope the below mini-interview helps you get a better understanding of how this data about your company ends up online and a little more about the companies that put it there. MarketingSherpa: How do you make money? What is your business model? Rebecca Graham: Our two revenue streams come from: 1) Lead generation for affiliate partnerships 2) Business Suite subscriptions. Like many sites, we may be compensated through affiliate relationships with the companies on BestCompany.com. But we do not have any relationships with companies that guarantee or impact their ranking or score and we never will. A basic profile is free for any qualifying company in the United States. The purchase of our B2B Business Suite reputation management product can't bump up your brand's rank, but it can provide traffic-based insights regarding your profile page as well as enhance it for improved visual aspects and thoroughness, such as featuring product images and videos, adding an FAQ section and highlighting how you stand out from your competitors. MS: How do you get reviewers? How do you verify them? RG: Best Company receives thousands of review submissions each week. Every review that is submitted goes through a very thorough moderation process to ensure its accuracy prior to it being published on BestCompany.com. Reviews are generated in four ways: 1) Organic and direct traffic, i.e., from users visiting our site 2) BestReviews, our review generation process in which we collect reviews from customers on behalf of the company. We offer fully managed email and phone review solicitations for companies with customer contact lists as well as a custom form for companies to utilize for outreach themselves. 3) Reviews from charity and fundraising groups 4) Reviews solicited from our members ALL reviews, whether organic or company-solicited, are subject to our review moderation process, which include email address verification and analysis via our fraud threshold algorithm (the details of which we do not divulge in order to prevent companies from trying to “game” the system). Furthermore, Best Company reserves the right to reject or remove reviews that violate our standards, which includes content that does not relate to the company or company's service being reviewed, appears to be incentivized, or contains false information. We also encourage consumers to resubmit reviews with their most up-to-date experience with a company. MS: How do you ensure your data isn’t manipulated by companies to make themselves look better? RG: Here are a few of the protocols we have in place to ensure accurate claims regarding the data on our site: Companies are not given a numbered rank until they have at least 10 reviews on their profile. Badge accreditations are only made available to companies meriting them (such as #1 ranked company or a position in the Top 10) A company cannot hide or delete negative reviews from their BestCompany.com profile Best Company believes the moderated reviews published on its site to be valid unless proven otherwise by the company with factual evidence of false information, moderation errors, or duplicate reviews. More information regarding disputes can be found here. Example #7: Independent financial adviser cites his sources to build credibility This next example is a bit of a different take on using data in marketing, but I thought it was worth bringing to you because I’ve noticed the marketing industry has a rampant problem with crediting sources. There are so many bold-faced marketing claims that shout and brag. But why should anyone believe those claims? Alec Tuckman shared with me the story of a seminar he was conducting about stock market performance. He was frequently challenged by an attendee. “Not wanting to make him look bad in front of his spouse, I did not get confrontational or upset, I simply pulled out a thick notebook full of Wall Street Journal clippings I have compiled over the last five years,” said Tuckman, owner/operator, Wealth Management Partners of Los Angeles. Every one of those articles was supportive material for the statements Tuckman made about the market. While he didn’t get the business from that particular attendee, Tuckman felt that it gave him instant credibility. “Data is the best marketing tool,” he said. “Being able to cite a credible, well-known source gives you credibility.” But don’t just cite any data, or you may end up hurting your brand’s credibility. “Make sure the data is from a reliable source. I wouldn’t recommend quoting something you read from a friend on Facebook IM when you’re trying to prove you are an expert on a particular subject like the stock market. Make sure you are sourcing material from credible sources like Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Bloomberg,” Tuckman advised.

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HOW UGC IS CHANGING THE GAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS’? MARKETING (EXAMPLES OF BRANDS WHO GET IT)

Article | March 1, 2021

You’re overcomplicating it. You don’t need the studio lighting, you don’t need a $2000+ camera, you don’t need a full production crew. Actually, it can actually be more effective for your content to not use any of this. Keep reading to learn how. By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed the rise of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is photos and videos created for your brand by customers, viewers, or followers. There’s so much beauty in this and throughout 2020, with everyone stuck inside their house, lots of companies had no choice but to make do with what they could. Sometimes this meant FaceTime photoshoots or videos that customers shot on regular iPhones. I am a huge fan of user-generated content and most consumers are, too. Let’s unpack the beauty of why this is such a beautiful and effective form of content on both the customer side as well as the business’ side.

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