How to Execute a Successful Link Building Campaign

What is Link Building?
Link building refers to the process of actively increasing the number of links to your website, generally because you’re trying to improve your search engine ranking, or spread the word about your business. It uses assets you create and host on your website to acquire the links – whether that’s an ebook, white paper, case study, infographic, or another helpful resource. You also need to be aware that quality and authoritative links help, but your rankings could suffer from Toxic or malicious links.

Link building takes time and effort, and Google wants to see those links come in naturally over time. Black hat SEOs often turn to buy links, which is a huge no-no to try to cut out the hard work involved in proper link building. While it may help increase ranking temporarily, it always comes back to bite you in the end. But, do it right, and your efforts will pay off tremendously.
Designing Your Link Building Campaign
As tempting as it may be to go out and start asking people to link to your content that’s not an effective way to accomplish it, and will more often than not be a gigantic waste of your time. Approaching it systematically with a clear plan in place will take longer, of course, but it will yield a much higher ROI.
Set Your Goals
Knowing the goals, you’re trying to accomplish with the link building campaign will help you devise the best possible strategy to help you reach those goals. Whatever your goal with the campaign is, it should tie into your overall business goals. If your goal is to build ten links – that’s not a good goal to hit if building those ten links won’t affect the overall success of your business.
Sure, you have a goal to build quality links, the more authoritative links, the better, because those play such a significant role in search engine rankings. But, because link building won’t make you overnight success and impacts aren’t instant, you need more reasonable goals than “Build 100 links.”
Developing Your Assets
Your assets are what you will use to attract and earn the links. What works for you will vary from business to business and from industry to industry. An excellent way to think about it is what you can use to hook people? What will make them care about you and what you have to offer? The most common asset is content, but others include data, products, services, and people. Regardless of which assets you want to use, they need to be created to serve the audience you’re trying to attract.
Think about what kinds of links you need to get. Options include:

Homepage links
Links to deep pages within your site
Links that contain your brand or company name
Links that contain keywords you’re targeting

To figure out which ones you need, begin with a detailed link analysis on your current website. Also, take a look at how you’re ranking for specific keywords compared to your competition. Use Open Site Explorer for this analysis, so you know what your link profile looks like at the start. It can help you identify opportunities for improvement, which may help guide you in asset creation or help you see current assets you can use to attract links.
Finding Link Targets
Think about the type of people you should contact, because you don’t want to waste energy on those who wouldn’t be interested in your content. Randomly reaching people will lead to a lower response rate and a hit on your reputation.
Before you start your link building campaign, at least have a rough idea of who you think will care about what you’re doing. Who will care enough to link to it? That’s what matters.
Let’s say you’re putting together a piece of content called, “The Stress-Free Guide to Holiday Meals with Family and Friends” because you know how much people enjoy eating the holiday meals, but stress out about making them or hosting the gatherings.
Who would be interested in this guide?

Food bloggers: They make a habit of sharing recipes with their audience all the time!
Parent bloggers: They know how stressful it can be managing a household with littles running around, and are usually willing to receive stress-reduction and time-saving tips.
Recipe sites: They’re willing to share anything that contains fantastic recipes!

Now that we know who we’re after, it’s time to dig a bit deeper to find them.
Locate Blogger Lists with Google
Search “list of food bloggers,” “list of parent bloggers,” and “list of recipe sites,” and you’ll find no shortage of lists to work through, where someone has already done the hard work of putting together the list.
Use a tool like a Scraper to grab all the URLs from the page. Put them in a spreadsheet for later, and then use URL opener to open all of them with a single click. This way, you can look at them to make sure they are relevant to your content and locate contact information.
Harness the Power of Twitter
You can search Twitter for lists of bloggers and influencers, but you can also use a third party tool, Followerwonk, to search bios. Search again for food blogger, parent blogger, or recipe site, to find Twitter users to connect to. Download your results to a spreadsheet, and you’ll be able to find the websites associated with those people to include in your list.
Researching Link Targets
At this point, you want to do a bit more research on the people you’re targeting. Look at their social media profiles to see what they’re sharing, to make sure they’re still active, and whether they only promote their content or include others, too.
As you go through their websites, take notes of what they’ve shared and what interests them, so you can use it to craft a personalized pitch to them when you contact them later. Using a generic approach shows the person you don’t care about what they have to offer you – and you haven’t’ done your homework. It’s the quickest way to get ignored.
Next, look for contact details for the websites you find relevant. Check the header and footer for a link to a contact page, or an about page that often lists contact details. You can use the ToutApp Chrome plugin to highlight email addresses on the page for you.
Prioritizing Link Targets
Once you have your list of link targets, it’s time to group them by priority so that you can customize your messages accordingly. You can prioritize them any number of ways. However, you feel it is most appropriate for you.

By blogger influence, for example, the number of social media followers on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook
By likelihood of linking, for example, food bloggers compared to parent bloggers
By domain metrics, for example, domain authority

Now it’s time to start talking to people about your campaign. Begin with your high-level targets because they can get you good results if they respond. And, you can use them later for social proof when you reach out to the smaller websites. If smaller sites seen other influencers have picked up on your content, they will be more open to sharing your content when you contact them.
Remember, you’re contacting a real person, so craft your pitches with the information you noted in your research. Call out particular content you like that they created and shared. Focus on real conversation and prove to them the value your content will offer them. They don’t owe you anything, and you’re asking them for a favor. Keep the message short and sweet, but detailed enough to show them why they need to care, and what action you want them to take. Offer to write the content for them, because they may like your content but not have enough time to write about it. However, save that last bit for the most significant influencers because it will require additional time and resources on your part – so it’s not something you want to offer everyone.
Personalize the message with their name, a good subject line, something specific about their work, and a proper email signature. If you come off as a spammer, this and any future attempts to connect will be ignored.
Follow Up
If you don’t hear from someone after that first email, it’s okay. People get busy, and the more popular bloggers and influencers will get lots of emails like this every day. It’s okay to follow up once if you don’t get a reply the first time. This reinforces the fact that you’re a real person and not a spammer using automated software to make contact.
Keep your outreach organized so you can tell who you need to follow up with and when. You can track replies in a CRM or a standard spreadsheet.
If you get negative responses, it can be discouraging, but you should always take the time to reply instead of ignoring it. This builds a relationship because you never know when you could have a better opportunity to work with this person again in the future. Get as much feedback and information as possible so you can use to improve future campaigns.
Tips for Link Building Campaigns
Guest Blog for Other Websites in Your Niche
The author byline is a great way to get links and build your brand back to your site and encourages people who like your work to go back there to learn more about you. You want to guest post on high quality, high profile websites, though, because those are the ones that are going to do the most work for you. If you’re blogging on sites with no authority or traffic, then it’s not going to do you any good.
Find sites in your niche that allow for guest posting, by going to Google and searching “write for us” or “contribute” with your niche keywords. Sites like SEMRush, Search Engine Journal, and Entrepreneur are great for those in the SEO, Online Marketing, or Business niches. Every niche has high powered and respected publications, but you can also find Medium publications that accept contributions if you’re looking for something a little different.
Make Use of Broken Links When Link Building
Prospecting for broken links is an excellent way to connect with people. If you find a broken link on someone’s website that your content could be a viable replacement for, then you have a way to provide mutual benefit.
Use a tool like Check My Links to find broken links and email the site owners to let them know you found a broken link on their site. They’ll likely be thankful you spotted something for them, and you can casually mention you have a link they could replace it with.
Take your time with link building and remember you need different domains in your link profile, too. If your main competition has 1,000 referring domains, you need at least 1,001 to be able to have a shot at competing. You never know what kind of ongoing link building efforts they have, so you should never really stop trying to build links.

Taking Your First Steps: Introduction to Google Ads for SASS Companies

200degrees / Pixabay
“Get $100 in Free Ads!”
“Free $75 Ad Credit”
“Claim Your Free Ads Coupon”
We have all seen these ads online. It seems like every SAAS product has some partnership with Google that can get you “free money”. And yet… you still haven’t dipped your toe into the ad world.
Why? For most people, it is because it is a big investment in both time and money.
I am writing this article for those of you in that situation – you are familiar with Google Ads and think they could benefit your SAAS company but aren’t sure where to start and how to go about it in the right way.
Let me walk you through taking your first steps in paid media at your SAAS company and answer some of the common questions we get.
When should I start using paid media for my SAAS company?
As someone who makes a living partially off of clients using paid media, you may expect me to say something along the lines of “Everyone should use paid media. If you are breathing right now and like money, you should be using paid media”.
The truth, however, is that not everyone should be using paid media.
The channel should be treated just like any other marketing channel, from email to SEO – you should only use it if you can get a positive ROI out of it. And in paid media, just like any other channel, you can only have success if you know a few things first:
Know your audience
Who are you selling your product to? I don’t just mean what their title is, I mean you should know everything about them:

Are they mostly male or female?
What age range do they fall between?
What publications do they frequent?
Where do they live?
Hanes or Gildan? (okay, maybe not that one)

While this is important for any marketing, it is especially important to paid media. Google Ads has some VERY specific targeting methods that allow you to prioritize certain attributes of users. This is one of the strengths of the channel, and if you don’t have an accurate understanding of your buyer then you will be throwing money away on clicks that are unlikely to convert.
Note: If you aren’t confident in who your persona is, then use a tool like Hubspot’s persona worksheet to figure it out.
Other, more important note: If you think you have an understanding of your persona but you have not taken the time to talk to real clients, you may want to revisit that. You can tell some demographic information by looking at your clients, but without talking with them (or better yet having a third-party talk to them) you can only assume what their pain points and desires are.
Know what your offering is
While it would be great if every click you got on an ad led to a customer, that is not going to be the case. Depending on the set up of your campaign, users may still be in the early stage of the buying process when they click; they’re doing research for solutions to their problem. If your ads are targeting those still in the research phase, they may not be ready to make the purchase, so don’t try to force them to. That is like the Comcast rep asking you if you’re interested in buying Xfinity Mobile when you just called to cut cable – you’re not in that mindset.
Instead, give them something useful for where they’re at in their journey. Maybe you offer a whitepaper, tip sheet, or worksheet to guide them in their decision process.
If your SAAS company offers a $10-a-month product, however, you may be able to go straight for the sale. The important part is understanding where prospects are in the buyer’s journey and how you can help get them to the next stage.
Know how to use the platform (or work with someone that does)
There are some types of marketing that you can do without any complicated tools – like social media, for example. If you know what you are doing, you can just jump on LinkedIn and start creating great content. You don’t really need to know how to use a social media management tool.
That is not the case for paid media and Google ads specifically – lack of knowledge of the platform leads to a lot of wasted money and effort. I don’t say this to discourage you, but instead to make sure that you get a positive return from your efforts. Many business owners or marketing managers of SAAS companies have sworn off paid media because “it just doesn’t work for them.” And yet, it is bringing in mountains of leads for their direct competitors…
Luckily, there are lots of free resources to learn everything there is to know about Google Ads. They even have their own academy and certification process!
How much should I spend?
One of the first questions I get when I start working for a client that is interested in paid media for their SAAS company is, “How much should I spend?”
A simple and very reasonable question. The answer, however, is not as simple. And while that’s probably not what you were hoping if you’re asking it as well, the answer is that it depends.
What does it depend on?
Hey, that’s a great follow-up question. First and foremost, the amount you should spend depends on the competitiveness of your market. Google Ads is built on a bidding system, so as competitors increase, so do prices. If you are a lawyer, then you are going to need to spend a lot more than Lefty’s would.
Secondly, it depends on your results. If you are running ads and have tightened up your campaign to the point that you are getting a 200% ROI – scale, baby! It usually takes time to build up to that point, but if you are getting a great return on your ads then increase your budget and take over a larger share of the market.

While tracking ROI is an article in its own, I do want to note that you need to take more than just your average cost-per-click from paid media into account. If you make $5,000 from your ads this month and only spent $2,000 that may sound good, but if it costs $3,500 to deliver the goods (labor, rent, taxes, etc.) then you are actually $500 in the hole.
The math Income: + $5,000 Ad Cost: – $2,000 COGS: – $3,500 Profit: ($500)

If you are reading this and thinking “I get it, there are lots of factors in figuring out pricing. But just give me a number!”
I hear you. Spend $1,456.75 /mo. to start off. No more, no less.
How should I set up targeting?
Paid media tools like Google Ads are particularly strong in their ability to target accurately. To provide an example, we recently set up a campaign for a waterproofing company that connected to an open-source weather API to increase ad spend when it rained outside. You can’t do that with SEO.
Use that power. Too often we see campaigns that are only using keyword and geographic targeting. That is a start, but you may find after looking into the data that 85% of the sales come from the 35-44 age bracket while 60% of your clicks are going to the 65+ age bracket that led to no sales! This is an extreme example, but it highlights the importance of targeting.
Here is a list of some of the targeting options available through Google Ads:

Marital Status
Contextual Targeting
And more…

Big picture, target as precisely as you can. You want to balance tight targeting and having a big enough audience to drive real traffic to your site.
Adwords is all about testing, learning, and tweaking. Start the campaign off with the targeting you think will work best, give it a week or two, then look at the data. After a few weeks of this, you will be making decisions based on cold, hard data and will be well on your way to building up your marketing funnel.
I hope this answered your initial questions on paid media for SAAS companies, but I know the world of paid media can be a confusing one. Best of luck on your journey toward success in paid media.

7 Marketing Terms You Better Know as a Modern Marketer

The evolution of marketing has grown beyond “The 4 Ps” and ad buys on local TV and radio stations. If you’re a modern marketer, you’re inundated with terms from SEO to ROI… from A/B testing to closed loop marketing… and more.
So if you’re in the marketing profession right now, which terms should you know? The list is nearly endless. But we wanted to bring you a few of those terms to get you started. This isn’t a “Marketing 101” piece. It’s not a deep dive, either. We just wanted to share seven marketing terms you better know as a modern marketer, with a look at some middle of the road terms you may or may not know. The bonus? Each term below has a video with George B. Thomas breaking it down for you.

Closed Loop Marketing
Marketing Automation
Account Based Marketing
Business Intelligence
Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
Inbound Sales

First, let’s look at what marketing looks like in the modern age. The relationship economy. The information age. Modern Marketing is a holistic, adaptive methodology that connects brands with real customers and drives business results by blending strategy, creative, technology, and analysis.
Whether you’re looking for a modern marketing agency, a marketing professional to hire, or a career in marketing, these terms will help you in your modern marketing journey.
1 Closed Loop Marketing
A closed loop marketing strategy relies on data and insights from closed-loop reporting. “Closing the loop” essentially means your sales teams report back to marketing about what happened to the leads they got from marketing, so everyone is on the same page.
Closed-loop marketing is important for your company because it means no more guessing! It helps you focus on the channels and campaigns that matter most. Plus it minimizes the cost-per-lead. When you know what channels and campaigns close the most sales, you can stop wasting efforts on those that don’t. Of course you can find many more reasons… but those alone make it clear that closing the loop is good for business.
How can you use closed-loop marketing for your company?
With good communication between sales and marketing, and with someone taking ownership of the process, your marketing will improve.
Here are three ways closed-loop marketing can impact your business.

You can use closed-loop marketing to make sure your buyer personas are locked in. The insights you gain from closing your loop between marketing and sales will give you the most comprehensive view of your leads and customers. Most companies assume they know their audience. With closed-loop marketing, you’ll really know them by dashing assumptions and using data!
You can use closed-loop marketing to shorten the sales cycle. Identify the pivotal touchpoints along your buyer’s journey. Lean into those, improve them, put resources like automation into play and help shorten the sales cycle. You’ll remove the noise that may distract or slow down the funnel.
Leadership will see tangible results of marketing efforts. This new way helps to see how marketing’s efforts truly impact the company because it shows which channels help make the most profit.

2 Marketing Automation
The term marketing automation essentially covers any software with the goal of automating marketing actions. Simple enough. Marketing departments everywhere want to automate repetitive tasks. With marketing automation platforms, businesses can target customers with automated messages across email, web, social, and text. But it’s so much more than that.
Automation in any capacity allows humans to be more efficient. When we can automate repetitive tasks, we get to put machines to work and free to do more. In marketing, scheduling emails, setting workflows to handle messages, using artificial intelligence (AI) to get more done means we get to find better ways to market. So it stand to reason that marketing automation platforms allow your business to use humans better and make better marketing!
How can you use it for your company?
In short, you can use marketing automation to increase efficiency, make better marketing and drive more revenue. Here are three ways you can use marketing automation to impact your business.

Increase customer lifetime value – automate communications to stay top of mind with your customers, add personalization and do it all with fewer people – increasing the value while lowering the cost. If that doesn’t increase C-L-T-V I don’t know what does! That’s definitely better marketing and more revenue!
Increase efficiency by reducing admin costs – From automatically sending late-payment reminders to consulting clients who are late on paying an invoice, to automatically setting up reporting & project planning accounts when a client accepts a proposal, use automation software to reduce the amount of repetitive admin work.
Finally, put marketing automation software to work for your brand and improve engagement. Whether you’re upping open rates, getting a higher click-through-rate or simply getting prospects to reply and schedule a chat, marketing automation makes it easier to analyze your efforts and double down on what works.

3 Account Based Marketing (ABM)
Account based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to marketing based on account awareness. A business development team in an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. ABM is a very popular marketing strategy among B2B marketers. Through research you essentially decide which businesses, or accounts, you want to do business with and you laser-focus your marketing on the decision makers in those companies.
An account based marketing strategy really complements the traditional, short-term marketing goal of generating leads with efforts aimed at driving long-term revenue growth.
Account based marketing tactics can help your marketing team laser-focus on the best potential clients. For example, instead of a blanket approach like going after small businesses, SMBs, and enterprises – you might start by focusing on those accounts that have the highest need and the required budget.
How can you use it for your company?
Account based marketing is a win-win-win for sales, marketing, and customers. Here’s a look at what ABM can do for your business.

The whole strategy perfectly complements the account-based approach sales teams have embraced for years. When marketing buys-in and dedicates its resources to an account based marketing strategy, sales teams can better personalize their outreach. Nurturing targeted members of the buying committee with appropriate marketing messages helps speed up the sales process, allowing sales to achieve better close rates while closing bigger deals… faster. So get your marketing team to put A-B-M into play.
You can deliver better return on effort in the B2B world with account based marketing. When you implement A-B-M, marketing benefits because sales sees the marketing team as a trusted ally on a strategic mission. It brings the two teams together, creating a defined list that both teams agree make the most promising targets. Did you know that 84-percent of businesses using A-B-M say it delivers higher ROI than other marketing campaigns? BOOM.
A third way you can use account based marketing at your company is to enrich the marketing team with a much deeper understanding of the company’s overall target audience. Marketing can then apply their insight into what content and messages resonate to amp up the results of their efforts.
Finally, leverage account based marketing to better serve your customers. Buyers prefer personalized interactions, and A-B-M delivers just that. Serving targeted content and messages that resonate does take up-front work… but customers will recognize and appreciate this – and the fact that you don’t waste their time with ones that are off the mark will turn buyers into ambassadors.

4 Business Intelligence
What is business intelligence? It’s the strategies and technologies companies use for the data analysis of business information. At a basic level, it leverages software and services to transform data into actionable intelligence that informs an organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions.
What gets measured gets improved. We know that in marketing. It’s true at all levels of a company. Business intelligence is important for your company because people need data to do their jobs better.
Some companies have a business intelligence analyst on staff. Others use business intelligence tools and have teams put them to work. Either way, leveraging data to make decisions will help take your business to new levels.
How can you use it for your marketing, sales, and service teams at your company?
Business intelligence tools will help you better manage big data, make better decisions and move faster.

For instance, the first way you can leverage business intelligence is for better supply chain management. A company that wants to better manage its supply chain needs business intelligence capabilities to determine where delays are happening and where variabilities exist within the shipping process. This could be physical supply chain as well as digital supply chain. Think SaaS as well as manufacturing.
Another way you can put this all to work is to better understand the big data (and dark data!) in your business. Many organizations still struggle with how to wrangle their data, so you’re not alone. What if you could have an executive dashboard that gives prices by region and another dashboard that showcases vendor performance.
A third use of business intelligence is simply better planning. From marketing to sales to procurement, you can look at reports from the previous year’s numbers – that’s business intelligence – then create forecasts for the following year – that’s business analytics. Add to that the human creative factor of asking “what if,” and you’re putting business intelligence to work for your company.

5 Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
First, let’s define each term separately. Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of online content like videos, blogs, and social media posts. It does NOT explicitly promote a brand but aims to generate interest in its products or services.
Meanwhile inbound marketing is the technique for drawing customers to products and services via content creation, social media engagement, search engine optimization and branding. Think of it like a magnet for customers.
You know this fact: The world has changed. The consumer now holds the power in their interactions with brands, because they have the internet. Stats show that buyers are much further down their decision path now than any other time in history. They’re going to the web for answers.
We’ve also all become very good at tuning out advertising. We stream TV and skip commercials. We have ad blockers on our browsers. We change the channel on the radio – or go to streaming music. So ads aren’t as effective as they used to be.
Which means… If you aren’t using content marketing or inbound marketing to reach them, you’re missing out.
The question now becomes – which is better? Inbound marketing or content marketing? And how can you use the winner for your marketing?
Here’s the thing… It’s not an either-or situation! Basically, you can’t do inbound without content. And content without inbound is just traditional advertising. Think of like this. Inbound marketing is the vehicle that gets you to your customers. Content marketing is the fuel!
Now that we have that down… Here are three inbound marketing examples using content marketing… to help you grow your business!

Maybe you have some deep insight into your industry, data points and examples that tell a story… Create an infographic! Then you can take that content marketing and then put inbound marketing to work in the form of a guest blog post, snippets of the infographic for social media posts like Instagram and include an announcement in your company’s email signatures.
Got something to say? Create a video! Then you can optimize it for search, share it in social media, and email your supporters/fans/customers. You could even ask people to share if they find value in it. Having others share your content is a great measurement of quality content.
Finally… since you’re an expert in your niche, create an industry report. Then you can break up the content into smaller pieces and blog about it. You can also take the information to other sites and guest blog. You can also take the information on the digital road and go on podcasts as a subject matter expert. Of course, make sure the report is available as a download on your site, too! This could even help in the P-R world and bring the media to you!

6 Gatekeeper
A gatekeeper, or more specifically a business gatekeeper, is a person who controls access to something – in a literal sense they might be a gate attendant like a security guard… but in this context we’re talking about the person who controls your access to a person, or people. A gatekeeper stands between you and the decision makers in a buying decision. Most often this happens in a B2B situation. You don’t get access to the C-Suite without going through a gatekeeper.
And research shows that you have to convince seven people to do business with you in the B2B world. So it may not even be one gatekeeper… it may be several of them!
With this in mind, it’s easy to see if you don’t explain yourself in the right way, your message will never be delivered. So you need to know who the gatekeepers are, what speaks to them and how to turn them into ambassadors for you.
How does the gatekeeper affect your marketing and sales and what can you do about it?

Understand the gatekeeper. Maybe you can make this a buyer persona so you can understand their pain points and speak their language. Understanding the gatekeeper will help you focus your marketing efforts on them first, then the ultimate decision maker. In fact, you might even be able to empower the gatekeeper to bring their boss the idea and make them the hero.
Which brings us to point number two… Earn the gatekeeper’s trust. Whether it’s the “Executive Assistant’s Guide to Corporate Travel” or the “Marketing Manager’s Checklist to Wow the CMO” … creating the right content to earn their trust is critical. A second part to this point to consider is this: connect with them on social media like LinkedIn. If business comes down to relationships, you want to cultivate one with the gatekeeper in a professional manner.

7 Inbound Sales
Inbound sales is a personalized, helpful, modern sales methodology. It complements inbound marketing. Inbound salespeople focus on their prospect’s pain points, act as a trusted consultant, and adapt their sales process to the buyer journey.
The opposite would outbound sales, which mostly involves cold outreach like unsolicited emails, cold calls, surprise office visits and other interruptive sales and business development techniques.
It all comes back to the fact that the world has changed. We talk about it marketing. It’s so hard to get peoples’ attention today with ad blockers, commercial skipping devices and no-ad-streaming services. It’s the same in sales.
We’ve become very good at ignoring cold calls from sales reps, ignoring emails – especially from people we’ve never met who talk to us like they know us!
So if we ignore these outbound sales techniques ourselves, why haven’t more businesses adopted an inbound sales strategy?
If you’re convinced… then let’s look at how can you use inbound sales for your company!

Identify the right buyers. In the B2B space, this is called account based marketing. Whether you’re in sales to other businesses or directly to consumers, identifying the right buyers from the start (working with marketing most likely – and teaching them about your ideal buyer) will get you off on the right inbound sales journey.
Next, connect. Anyone focused on inbound sales will connect with leads to help them decide how to progress through the buyer’s journey. This should include the communication tools they choose – it might be texting, social messaging, email… be ready to communicate in the way your prospects do.
Also, explore. Inbound salespeople explore their qualified leads’ goals or challenges to see whether their offering is a good fit for them, the customer. Focus on their challenges, not your product or service. Show empathy and connect over those challenges, then share how your business can help.
Which brings us to our last point… advise. Inbound salespeople advise prospects on why their solution is uniquely positioned to address the buyer’s needs. Skip the script and position your product or service in a way that highlights how it solves their unique needs.

Email List Cleaning: Why and How to Properly Clean Your Email List

Spring cleaning is a drag. We get it. But just like it’s important you get rid of all those broken pens and loose paper clips in your desk, it’s also important to give your email list a thorough cleaning. The good news is you won’t need a vacuum for this one.
Table of Contents

What is email list cleaning?
Why should you clean your email list?
How to spot a need of email list cleaning
How to clean your email list (no cleaning supplies necessary)
5 Ideas to maintain a healthy email list

Use a double opt-in
Ask your contacts
Start a re-engagement campaign
Make it easy to unsubscribe
Never buy email lists

How to clean your list with Mailjet

What is email list cleaning?
Email list cleaning means removing old or inactive contacts from your email database, be it contacts that are no longer engaging with your emails or dated email addresses that are no longer active and might return bounces, blocks or might have even become spam traps.
Cleaning your email list is really quite simple. It’s pretty much exactly what is sounds like: looking over your email contact list and updating it as you see fit. That means getting rid of old, outdated contacts. Just like getting rid of those old pens in your desk.
But wait a minute…isn’t it the more contacts on your list, the better chance you have for a higher opening rate? Actually, that’s not quite true. Removing contacts from your list might seem scary. After all, you put in work to get them there in the first place. But placing your focus in nurturing the contacts who love your brand is the better way to go. Then you’ll be able to show them what your brand can really do.

Why should you clean your email list?
Simply put, because it can impact your deliverability. That’s a fancy way of saying ‘the number of emails that make their way into your contacts’ inboxes, instead of the Spam folder’. Why should you care about this? I’ll tell you why.
Three words, four syllables: Increase Open Rates.
The way ISPs (Internet Service Providers) learn is from your statistics. They take a look at your open rates and try to gage from there how interested your contacts are in the content you’re sending them. If your open rates are low, this tells the ISP that your contacts aren’t interested.
You need to clean your email list to ensure that the ISP doesn’t take a look at your low open rates and say “This is not valuable, send to spam.” (Tip: it’s more fun if you read it in a robotic voice). If this happens, your open rates will decrease even more, fewer people will be reading your emails, and the ISP will continue to mark it as spam. It’s a vicious cycle, we know.
By cleaning your email list, you’re ensuring your open rates, which is the ratio between emails sent and emails opened, are better. Now, this won’t affect the total number of contacts that read your email; if 4 out of 100 open your email, the number will remain the same if 4 out of 50 contacts read it. The potential ROI from this campaign might remain the same, but email list cleaning will affect your reputation with the ISP. And this is key .
You don’t want a bad reputation (despite how cool the song by Joan Jett is). The worse your reputation is with an ISP, the more often your mail will end up in spam. Then, because your emails are ending up in the spam folder instead of the inbox, the number of contacts reading your email will be reduced, along with your ROI and engagement. Email list cleaning is what’s going to help you avoid this.
There’s another reason to clean your list (as if you haven’t been convinced yet). By putting your time and focus into contacts that love your brand, instead of subscribers that never interact, you can build better relationships with your active customers. Focusing on the contacts that love your emails lets you create content that suits their needs and interests, which can lead to better conversion rates. You’ll have better customer satisfaction, and higher revenue. It’s a win win.
How to spot a need of email list cleaning
You should always clean your list from blocks, bounces and spam complaints after you send an email, but even if your emails are arriving in your contacts’ inbox, you might still be in need of an email list cleaning.
Basically, the way to figure out if you need to clean your email list is to keep an eye on your open rates. What you’re looking for is an indication that they are starting to go down. If you see that they are decreasing over time, it might be time to clean that list.
Old contacts can be a couple of different things. It could be contacts that are uninterested or disengaged in your brand. These are those people that never open your fantastic emails and don’t know what they’re missing.
If it’s not them, it could be bad email addresses that your messages bounce back from (the WORST). Take a look over your email list with these two types of contacts in mind and start to scrub that contact list clean. Metaphorically, of course.
How to clean your email list (no cleaning supplies necessary)
Ok, you convinced me, I know why I should clean my contact list and I’m ready to begin. But where do I start?
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
To clean your email list, you can use two methods:

Remove blocks, bounces and unsubscribes after every email campaign.
Use segmentation to target inactive users.

Cleaning your list after every email campaign
We promise it’s not as much work as it sounds. After each campaign, take a look over your stats. You’ll want to look for unsubscribes, bounces and spam, and remove them from your contact list before sending another campaign. Diligence is key to cleanliness!
But, what else can you do to optimize your email contact list? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Cleaning your list every few months
You can also segment your list based on the engagement of your contacts. Look for the contacts that haven’t opened your email in the past 3 to 6 months, and send them a ‘we miss you’ reactivation email.
It’s like checking in on an old friend. You send them a little message to see if you still have anything in common, and if they don’t respond… all that’s left is to move on and remove them from your contact list. Because, let’s face it, if they haven’t engaged with you in the past 6 months, the message they’re sending is pretty clear. They’ve lost interest in what you’re offering. But the good news is you are freeing up time and effort to focus on catering to the contacts that can’t get enough of you.

5 Ideas to maintain a healthy email list
1. Use a double opt-in
A double opt-in means that when a customer signs up for your mailing list, you fire off an email asking them to confirm their subscription by following a link in the email. Setting up a double opt-in system helps you prevent fake email addresses from entering your database. This means that only those that are interested in receiving your content will confirm the subscription, and there will be fewer bounces, blocks, etc. Think of it as a first defense for a cleaner and healthier list.
2. Ask your contacts
It can be hard to tell if your contacts are simply not interested in what you’re sending them, or if they love it but just don’t feel like taking further action with it. A way to separate these two audiences is to ask questions. We have a couple ideas for how you can do this. So go on, don’t be shy.

You can ask your contacts to vote in a poll, with a question about how much they are enjoying your content, or maybe what they would like to see more of. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a good poll?
Request some feedback on something you’ve sent, a new format you’re trying out, or anything else you’re curious about.
Ask your contacts to set their own communication preferences directly within the email. You can ask about preferred frequency, topics they might be interested in, etc.
Offer your contacts the ability to easily make product or feature requests.

Once you’ve sent out a round of these emails, filter out the contacts that are still not engaging with your content. Voila! Cleaned.
3. Start a re-engagement campaign
Remember when we were talking about those ‘we miss you’ emails? That’s a re-engagement campaign. Low engagement in your content doesn’t necessarily mean that your contacts aren’t interested in your brand, it could just mean they aren’t too interested in the content you’re providing. So before you scrub them from the list completely, see if you can pique their interest a bit. We have a few ideas for you:

Offer a free gift, or maybe a discount (no one can resist free stuff). But be careful with this one. It has potential, but what you really want is for your contacts to be interested in the content you’re providing, rather than just re-engaging for the freebee.
Give them a special perk, or maybe access to special content. Everyone loves to feel special every now and then.

Another tip is to take a quick glance at the calendar. Sometimes, people love your content, they’re just being bombarded by emails because of the time of year. Like during the holiday season when they don’t want to open even one more email. Just make a note to re-engage with these contacts later on.

4. Make it easy to unsubscribe
It’s never a good idea to hide your unsubscribe link from your customers, or to make the process of unsubscribing difficult, time-consuming or confusing. If they can’t find your unsubscribe link, or don’t want to take the time, they may just mark you as spam. You don’t want that, and we don’t want that for you.
We know it may seem backwards to offer your clients an easy way for them to leave. But, if you’re providing your contacts with quality content (which we know you are), then they won’t even look at that unsubscribe button. Just make sure to make it worth their time by providing worthwhile content.

5. Never buy email lists
Repeat after me: I will not buy email lists. Good. Now say it five times fast.
It may seem like a quick and easy way to build up your sender list, but don’t be fooled. It’s far better to build up your own list of subscribers that chose to receive your content.
A bought list is usually poor in quality. They aren’t targeted for your brand, so you’re not going to get good value from interacting with them.
They could also have something called spam traps in them. These are email addresses that used to be valid, but will now get your IP address blacklisted for sending to them.
So before you go to buy that list, remember all those annoying emails you got that you rolled your eyes at and sent to the junk folder. That’s not where you want your emails to end up.

Should Brands Be Authentic or Aspirational on Instagram?

What’s more important in what we post on Instagram: authenticity or perfection?
Most of us would probably answer the former without thinking twice. Of course, it’s better to just be yourself, right?
The “just be yourself” credo feels natural to extend beyond personal accounts to consumer brands, too. After all, the push to humanize companies and commodify our own personalities has made the two increasingly difficult to distinguish between.
But we’ve found that the answer isn’t quite so simple.
For starters, there’s no clear-cut definition of what authenticity actually means for your brand’s Instagram presence. And to complicate things further, examples of brands achieving success on Instagram can be found on both ends of the authenticity-perfection spectrum. So, if you’re deciding which is best for your brand’s Instagram presence…the debate remains.

Do you opt for less-polished images and conversational captions that your customers can instantly relate to?
Or do you strive to create an aspirational feed that will have your customers fantasizing about what they could become with your product?

Let’s explore the case for each type of brand account.
What does it mean for brands to be authentic on Instagram, anyway?
The question of what makes an authentic Instagram presence is hard to answer.
Some brands (like General Electric) have taken to sharing behind-the-scenes photos of their company, while others, like Aerie and ModCloth, have pledged to not share photoshopped images.

However, it’s not clear whether this is enough for these brands to be considered “authentic” on social media.
Most definitions of the term say that to be authentic is to be true to your personality or spirit, not necessarily true to objective reality.
By that definition, a company with a larger-than-life brand, like Walt Disney World, should post fantasy-driven, perfected images. If the Walt Disney World Instagram account was full of candid snapshots of long lines, tired toddlers, or sweating parents, that would be less authentic to the famous Disney spirit than their imaginative feed of fireworks and attractions.
On the other hand, for many, a lack of authenticity is indicated by a sense that what a brand is posting is probably not what you’d see with your own eyes, without filters or professional editing.
So, for the sake of clarity in this article, let’s say that an “authentic” Instagram presence is one that doesn’t rely heavily on professionally styled, photographed, and edited images.
Your brand’s Instagram: the case for authenticity
A whopping 86% of consumers say that a brand’s authenticity is important when they decide what to buy. With half of all Instagram users following brand accounts, it’s likely that a brand’s Instagram presence factors into how authentic the brand is perceived as being.
Plus, if Instagram influencers are a trend to rely on, they represent a growing movement away from the jaw-dropping, perfected images that originally gave Influencers, well, their influence.
Especially those with younger followers, many Influencers have adopted a rawer presence, deliberately posting images that are not only unedited but show them in an imperfect light.
Such accounts, like fashion influencers Reese Blutstein and Courtney Trop, don’t break from their version of authenticity even when partnering with high-end brands. In fact, they often draw attention to the flaws in their shots: In one post, Trop captions a photo featuring a Louis Vuitton bag, “My dream bag but it’s cut off in this pic so I’ll have to take another.”
Also, consider the immense popularity of the relatively new Instagram Stories feature, which was launched mid-2016. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom told Vox that the move sprung from their insights that users were backing off Instagram due to “feeling the pressure of sharing really amazing photos.” Stories were meant to give users (and brands) a place to share more off-the-cuff images of their uncurated life.
Clearly, it’s worked. Today, over 500 million people engage with Instagram Stories daily.
These trends point to a major opportunity for brands to connect with their customers through an Instagram presence that feels more authentic and less styled.
Your brand’s Instagram: the case for the perfect aesthetic
Despite the hype about authenticity, a look at the most popular Instagram accounts tells a different story.
Accounts that cater to the fantasy of a fairytale life, complete with stunning images of perfectly styled models or professionally lit lifestyle photos, have followings that dwarf the accounts mentioned above.
Accounts like that of fashion mogul Chiara Ferragni boast photos of a jet-setting life (with never a hair out of place) and tens of millions of followers.

The same can be said of the Kardashian sisters’ accounts, which have some of the highest follower counts in the world. Brands who have paid partnerships with Kim Kardashian reportedly pay over $500,000 for a single Instagram post. For that amount, their ROI must be much higher, suggesting that a large number of consumers are indeed excited to buy from a brand that promotes perfection.
Even with the addition of the lower-pressure Instagram Stories feature, many people still feel the pressure to be perfect on social media, particularly Instagram. Highlighting the widespread desire to be perceived as perfect, a recent study links Instagram use frequency to negative feelings about one’s self-worth or physical appearance.
However, brands offering a fantasy of perfection on Instagram can capitalize on a powerful buying motive: wanting to have (or at least be perceived as having) a better, more glamorous lifestyle.
Successful brands with an authentic Instagram presence
There are dozens of brands that have tapped into the authenticity movement on Instagram and created a devoted community around their product.
With two million followers on Instagram and a valuation of $1.2 billion, Glossier is the quintessential example of a brand that has leveraged a down-to-earth Instagram presence to skyrocket the success of their company.

Their photos, while high-quality, aren’t overly styled. Sometimes, photos of their products seem like the ones you could take in your own bathroom. The makeup company is also known for re-posting photos that customers share. And because their product is natural-looking makeup, this choice makes sense.
In another example, men’s casual wear brand Chubbies uses Instagram to post exclusively humorous images.

Often, the photos take the form of funny memes poking fun at their brand. With a customer base of people who don’t like to take themselves too seriously, this type of Instagram branding works well. They currently have about 450K followers.
Successful brands with a perfect-aesthetic Instagram presence
By contrast, some of Instagram’s coolest brands are doing the opposite, going for a polished and defined feed.
Direct-to-consumer luggage and travel brand Away is a company that disrupted the travel industry with their curated Instagram presence. Their luggage, while generally less expensive than other luxury travel brands, nevertheless promises customers a globe-trotting lifestyle. Their Instagram feed is a long stream of aspirational images of travel through business class and enviable locations. With 400K followers and counting, their strategy seems to be working.

Similarly, LNA, a clothing brand based in Los Angeles, posts images of their picture-perfect, California-cool models against immaculate backgrounds or posing in hillside pools. The account has one of the highest reported engagement rates of any brand.

Takeaway: Be true to the brand you’ve created
There is an opportunity for brands with the call for more Instagram authenticity. A lot of consumers are tiring of the super-perfect world projected by marketers and advertisers… especially when it comes to seeing that content amid photos of our friends.
And Instagram users, in particular, seem to be suffering from perfection-weariness. These consumers are craving brand content that doesn’t try to impress them with dazzling photos. Instead, they want images that reveal what your product looks like in real life.
On the flipside, brands that are sticking with the aspirational aesthetic are doing remarkably well. It turns out that just because authenticity has become a buzzword doesn’t mean that the tried-and-true “perfect shot” Instagram feeds have lost their appeal. After all, achieving a perceived higher status or esteem is one of the age-old buying motives that almost every consumer has.
However, looking at how different brands have been successful with both types of approaches on Instagram, we can pinpoint one clear kernel of advice: Be true to the brand you’ve created.
If your brand is built on humour or if your customer-base prizes realness above all, then aim to be authentic on Instagram. But if your brand serves up luxury products, you’re probably better off sticking with your perfect aesthetic.
What do you think? When it comes to Instagram for brands, what’s more important: authenticity or perfection?

Top 5 Ways to Improve Declining Content Marketing ROI

Most marketers don’t take the ROI from content marketing seriously. They assume the content marketing ROI to be good. If you fall in the same category then you might be making a huge mistake. Successful marketers always measure the ROI from content marketing and also take appropriate steps to boost it.
Let’s understand what is content marketing ROI? how to calculate it? and learn some tips to boost the ROI percentage from content marketing.
What is Content Marketing ROI And How To Measure It?
The Content Marketing ROI measures the revenue gained from your content marketing efforts when compared to the actual spent.
Follow the below ways to find out your content marketing ROI:

Calculate the amount of money spent on producing each and every piece of content like articles, infographics, videos, images or even content editing.
Identify the amount of money spent on the promotion of articles like PPC Ads, SEO, Press Release, etc.
Add the money spent on any content marketing tools like Buzzsumo, Grammarly, Trello, etc.
Figure out the number of leads you are able to generate from your content pieces.
Calculate the actual ROI by subtracting the lead amount from the money spent and then dividing the result by the amount of money spent. The result should be multiplied by 100. You will get your ROI. For example, if the lead amount is $5000 and the money spent on content writing + promotion is $2000 then the difference comes to $3000. The result $3000 is divided by $2000. It equals to 1.5. The final result is multiplied by 100. It equals to 150%.

Top Ways To Boost Your Content Marketing ROI
Here are the top 5 ways to boost your content marketing ROI by leveraging the power of analytics and several other tools:
1- Keep Vanity Metrics Away and Focus on Real Metrics
In order to measure the content marketing ROI properly, you need to ignore vanity metrics like number of registered users, number of downloads or number of page views. These metrics do not necessarily help to measure the number of leads.

Instead, real metrics like the number of leads generated from every webpage, traffic generated on the site via specific high intent keywords and the total number of conversions happening on the site are metrics that directly impact your bottom line.
2- Improve The Quality of Traffic To Your Site
The quality of traffic is a great indicator that your website is getting hits from real users instead of bots. You can use the power of specialized analytics software like Finteza to measure the quality of traffic on your site and take appropriate steps to improve it.
Simply click on the Quality tab after logging into FInteza analytics and you will see a dashboard as shown in the below screenshot:

The green bar indicates pure traffic which includes live users, the yellow indicates traffic coming via proxy servers and VPN, red indicates traffic generated via spam IP addresses and grey indicates traffic coming from social networks/bots.
Finteza provides a metric known as Traffic Quality Level that directly indicates the percentage of pure traffic on your website.

The higher the percentage, the better is the quality of traffic on your website. Quality traffic always leads to better ROI.
3- Prepare Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is the content that always remains relevant and never loses its value. This is opposed to seasonal content like news stories.
Choose keywords that quality for evergreen content and apply strategies like the Skyscraper content strategy to make the content stand apart in the search results. This will help you to easily defeat your competitors in the search results and gain more traction.
You can make use of tools like BuzzSumo to find the top content generated by your competitors and produce content on a similar style but even better than them.

4- Repurpose Your Content
Instead of using your content just once, repurpose your content pieces and distribute them across several channels in order to boost the overall ROI generated from them. Here are some ways to repurpose your content:

Turn your content into Podcasts or videos.
Republish the same content on a different platform.
Combine your top articles as roundup posts.
Create an infographic out of your old blog post.
Turn a Quora Q&A into a blog post.

5- Take The Help of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is an extremely effective way of reaching a wide range of audiences. You can tie up with micro influencers and ask them to promote your content on their social media channels.
Micro influencers often have a lot of loyal followers who always take action on the shared content. Mention is a great platform to find influencers in your niche.
Besides, tying up with micro influencers is easy and doesn’t cost a fortune. This way you can boost your existing content marketing ROI without disturbing your content marketing budget.
Final Thoughts
Content marketing still remains one of the top digital marketing channels but we are living in an age called the ‘Content Overload’. This essentially means ‘less is more’. Marketers must understand the importance of improved ROI in their marketing strategy. Make use of the above strategies to improve your content marketing ROI and generate more leads for your business.

How to Improve Your Email Marketing With These Tools

Email marketing is one of the most widely-used, yet underrated marketing techniques. Many brands use it because it works. But email marketing doesn’t get as much attention as more trendy techniques like influencer marketing.
The hard truth is that email marketing is a tried and tested marketing technique that has been used by marketers for years and it will continue to be used. And the simple reason for it is that it does not require much investment and can help attain a variety of marketing goals.
However, you can’t run successful email marketing campaigns that generate high ROI, manually. You need to use software and tools to optimize your email campaigns and help you get the best out of your email campaigns.
Here’s a list of eight such email marketing tools that you can use to optimize your email marketing and get a high ROI from your campaigns.
1. Find Email IDs for Your Email Lists Using Hunter
Email prospecting is one of the initial steps in running a successful email campaign. You need to identify people that you can target and find out their email IDs to build your email lists.
However, doing that manually can be a tedious and time-consuming process. That is why you need a tool like Hunter that can do that for you.
This tool can help you find the email IDs of people working in any company within seconds. And, you can use their search filters to refine your search and target only relevant people.

2. Find Ready-to-Use Email Templates From Cakemail
Writing engaging emails and designing them in a way that grabs attention is a crucial factor that determines the success or failure of your email campaigns. And, it’s not feasible to create emails from scratch, every single time.
That’s where a tool like Cakemail can help you. It has a large library of content blocks and email templates that you can use for your email campaigns.

3. Run Engaging, Automated Email Campaigns Using Mailchimp
Creating personalized email chains and sending out email blasts are the primary steps involved in an email marketing campaign. However, sending emails manually is not exactly feasible for large businesses. That’s why it is always a good idea to use email automation so that you can send emails at the right consumer touchpoints automatically.
Mailchimp is a useful email marketing tool that can help you automate your email campaigns. Though it has a lot of other functionalities and is essentially a one-stop-solution for all your needs, email automation is one of its best features.
And, it is better than most other such tools in the market because it provides smart automation. You can use this to retarget potential customers, send emails on important occasions, send abandoned cart reminders, and a lot more.

In conclusion, this tool helps you reach the right people at exactly the right moments with the right emails.
4. Track the Website Traffic Driven by Email Campaigns Using
UTM codes are an effective way to track exactly where your website traffic is coming from. And, it can also track the campaign medium (like email, post, tweet, etc.) that is driving the traffic. Using this feature, you can calculate exactly how much share of website traffic is driven by your email marketing campaigns.
This is where a can help you. You can use it to create UTM codes for your email campaigns and calculate the share of traffic coming from there. This tool lets you build and share your UTMs and manage them effectively. This is an essential tool that can help you assess the impact of your email campaigns.

5. Measure the Performance of Your Campaigns Using AWeber
No matter how well you design your campaign and how effectively you automate and run your campaign, you’ll never know its ROI until you measure the key performance metrics.
You need to use a tool to track and measure the performance of your emails. AWeber is one such tool that you can use to check key metrics like open rate, click rate, etc. What’s more is that it provides visualization options that you can use to make sense of the data that you collect.

6. Take Your Email Marketing to the Next Level Using Video Emails from BombBomb

BombBomb is a personalized video email marketing solution that can help you take your email campaigns to the next level.
We all know that videos are much more engaging than any other form of content, especially text. They are easy-to-grasp, require minimal effort to watch, and are engaging enough to keep a viewer interested.
Leveraging the power of videos to fuel your email campaigns is exactly the kind of strategy that can help you stand out. After all, why would a person read your emails when they are bombarded with so many emails every day? Videos just might be the answer to that and BombBomb is the tool that can help you integrate videos into your email marketing strategy.
Running a successful email marketing campaign involves several steps and if you can optimize each step, then you can get the maximum returns from your campaigns.
These tools can help you do that. Leverage these useful tools to improve your email marketing and get the most out of your campaigns.

Customer Success and Upsells: How to Make the Most of Opportunities

When your goal is to grow your customer’s business, upselling becomes a means, not an end. That’s the advantage of working within a customer-centric environment. Your success depends on your customer’s success, so expansion becomes a necessity for both parties. Upsells are the result of the growth a customer has enjoyed because of your commitment to delivering lifetime value.
It’s also worth noting that up to 70% of revenue in a subscription business comes from existing customer renewals and upsells. Customer success upsells are critical to your own success.
Let’s look at how you can generate customer success upsell opportunities and encourage continued expansion.
Upsells Happen Every Day
Unlike renewals, upsells aren’t tied to timelines. Rather, they are a function of the customer experience.
To create happy customers, you have to shift your focus from the sales event and toward the ongoing nurturing of existing customers. This customer-centric model demands that you shape your actions to meet the customer’s needs in order to drive recurring value for both sides.
There are several key goals of the customer-centric enterprise:

Share information across the enterprise to surround the customer with personalized service.
Accelerate onboarding to help the customer realize value early.
Resolve escalations quickly to ensure continued value.
Nurture the growth of each account.
Continually monitor customer health.
Proactively engage customers with personalized campaigns.

Such careful attention to the customer and a positive customer relationship will make this process simple and natural.
Converting Upsell Opportunities
Forging a responsive, proactive relationship with your customers is beneficial for every stage of the customer journey. The renewal and upsell phases of your customer success journey should be a discussion rather than a last-minute effort to generate additional revenue.
If you know your customer’s business, you should be able to offer relevant advice on its growth. You can then frame your upsell efforts around personalized exchanges or email campaigns. Remember, though, that not every customer will be able to upsell; focus only on companies that have good opportunities for such expansion.
You might employ campaign themes around:

Company Growth: We noticed you’ve expanded your team. Do you need additional seats on your license?
Industry Trends: This new feature would help you better achieve X.
Change in Management: We understand you’ve recently changed marketing management and think you could benefit from additional training.
Product Usage: We’ve noticed you’ve been using X feature more recently. Our premium feature would help you achieve even better results.

In each case, the upsell campaign should be based on account-specific information. Show your customer how closely you’ve been paying attention and they’re more likely to see your efforts as sincere.
Metrics that Reveal Upsell Opportunities
Whoever said happiness can’t be measured didn’t have the right customer success platform. Every interaction and action your customer undertakes with your team or your product generates data. This data should be stored in a customer success platform, where it can be comprehensively tracked and analyzed. You can then use this information to identify if a customer is ready for expansion.
You might look at measurements such as:

Usage Data: If a customer is using the product frequently or is heavily leveraging specific functions, then it is time to offer them access to premium features or other advanced products.
License Utilization: Is the customer approaching the license cap on their account? If so, it is natural to offer them more seats.
Product ROI: What do your business success metrics tell you about the ROI a customer is enjoying? Successful customers experiencing value are more likely to respond to upsell campaigns.
Company Demographics: What type of company and industry are you dealing with and what features of your product suit this field? Not all industries are equal, so you need to consider domain when pursuing upsells
Satisfaction Metrics: Any customer feedback on your product is gold. You can readily identify happy customers through their direct responses to surveys, escalations, and customer success engagements. Happy customers are more loyal and more responsive to upselling.
Customer Health Score: A customer health score is generated within your customer success platform. It is a combination of customer data used to create an overall satisfaction level as a quantifiable mark out of 100. It offers you an enterprise-wide view of the state of your accounts. All you have to do is focus your upselling efforts on the top performers.

You can make the task of identifying upsell opportunities easier by setting up custom alerts within your customer success platform. Essentially, you establish thresholds across any of the above metrics that will automatically trigger email alerts. So, if a customer reaches their license cap, creates a spike in usage, or begins regularly accessing a feature, you’ll be notified right away.
Natural Customer Success Upsells
Customer success upsell opportunities are generated by a positive customer experience. Creating lifetime customer value will naturally produce the right conditions for expansion.
By forging a personalized relationship with your customer, you set your customers up for long-term growth. Upselling is an outcome. Put in the effort to nurture your customer’s growth and they’ll need you to help them expand.

Why a B2B Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Strategy Must Be a Priority

Let’s face it, marketing resources—whether part of a large or small team—only have a certain amount of bandwidth each month to build or strengthen their brands, generate leads or demand, enhance their customer experiences, or to reach all of these goals.
For many, the ultimate goal is to help increase/improve opportunity engagement throughout their funnels or pipelines.
Unfortunately, to achieve these goals, marketers often have to adjust, adapt, and accelerate their marketing strategies and plans. Reaching the right buyers (especially C-suite) is getting harder and harder. Traditional and digital marketing and sales tactics aren’t working as well as they once did.

Buyers don’t pick up the phone or return calls as much as they once did. TOPO notes that it can take up to 18 calls to reach a buyer.
Buyers are not opening emails and clicking on links as much these days. Campaign Monitor reports that the average email open rate is 17.92%.
Buyers may not be at your conference or stop by your booth. Conferences and trade shows are getting more expensive as destinations to attend or to exhibit.
Buyers are leveraging less referrals. According to a study from the Hinge Research Institute, Inside the Buyer’s Brain, Second Edition, the use of referrals as a search method has dropped by 15 over the last few years. Buyers are also making fewer referrals. The rate of actually making a referral is down almost 5% over the last few years.

Marketers must be as effective and efficient as possible with the resources, time, and budget that they have. This is where ABM can help. The Alterra Group reports that ABM shows a higher ROI than other marketing activities. ITSMA takes it further noting 87% of marketers that measure ROI say ABM outperforms every other marketing investment.
This is why a B2B, account-based marketing (ABM) strategy must be a priority for you. Why wouldn’t you prioritize account-based marketing tactics over other less effective, traditional and digital means? According to SiriusDecisions, 92% of B2B marketers worldwide consider ABM “extremely” or “very” important to their overall marketing efforts. Need more proof, read on…
“87% of marketers that measure ROI say ABM outperforms every other marketing investment.” ITSMA
Times Have Changed for B2B Marketers
Gone are the days of sending out one universal message to the world and expecting a high level of engagement and buying. Personalization and customization are the names of the game now to be effective. Today’s buyers and clients are savvier than in days gone by. They do research on everything. They read blogs, recognize automated messages, listen to podcasts and webinars, and more. They are enlightened. They conduct searches online and don’t ask for referrals as much. They want to hear from sellers who have done their homework and know their businesses, challenges, goals, etc. They want to talk with sellers who are genuine—sellers who can add value to their buying journeys with tailored, not canned responses. They are looking for trusted advisors.
Have you ever received an email or LinkedIn message from someone who was attempting to personalize but got your personal or company name wrong? I have this happen to me a few times a month. Needless to say, those sellers do not get very far with me.
Also, keep in mind that, contrary to your some of your team’s thinking, your products or services do not fit or appeal to everyone. Even, if by some small miracle, you do have that unicorn product or service, you should prioritize the audiences you are trying to reach. Focusing your messaging and selling will help your company or firm be more effective and is a key pillar of ABM. Before I go much further with B2B, account-based marketing, let me define what it is so that we are on the same page.
What is B2B, Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
At Hinge, we believe that ABM is a scalable and layered strategic approach to marketing and sales that leverages different levels of targeted and personalized messaging to engage with a specific prospect or customer/client (account) during an experience or journey. The processes and tactics of ABM have been around for decades in one form or another. What makes ABM different is the technology now available to leverage account segmentation, behavior, orchestration, and reporting.
Our definition of Account-Based Marketing includes the alignment and orchestration of not only Marketing and Sales teams but the Executive, Sales Development, Customer Success, Product Development, and other teams that engage with prospects and customers/clients. It brings together targeted accounts, data-driven programs, and personalized buyer experiences into a coordinated outreach. Some call this broaden approach “Account-Based Everything” or “ABX.”
Many marketers came up through the ranks learning to develop and maintain a marketing and sales funnel or waterfall where the focus is placed on generating a high volume of awareness and leads at the top of the funnel, nurturing a portion of them into demand, and converting a smaller subset of that demand into opportunities and then closing them. With ABM, that funnel approach is flipped. As organizations such as FlipMyFunnel have promoted, with the flipped funnel, the focus is on targeting a small set of accounts, mapping and engaging key decision makers, and then creating relationships that lead to more opportunities and revenue. (See Figure 1.)
The traditional funnel focuses on number of leads generated and the number of leads passed to Sales. The flipped funnel focus on identifying key accounts and the number of meetings (engagement) with key decision makers.

Figure 1: The Traditional Funnel and the FlipMyFunnel Funnel
A Striking Benefit of B2B Account-Based Marketing
As I discussed earlier, ABM tactics often outperform every other marketing tactics. The ROI is dramatic and makes a compelling case for any marketer. But the differentiator that I think will capture the attention of any corporate or firm leadership team will be the significant impact on revenue.
SiriusDecisions reports in one of its State of ABM studies that “91% of companies using ABM were able to increase their average deal size.” Moreover, 25% of the respondents stated that their revenue increase was over 50%!
Independently, research from TOPO and the ABM Leadership Alliance, and reported in ABM in Action, shows that companies that have implemented ABM saw a 171% increase in their Annual Contract Value (ACV). (See Figure 2.)
From Gartner’s perspective, its research shows that ABM programs provide a 70% increase in opportunities created.

Figure 2: ACV lift after implementing ABM
“25% of the respondents stated that their revenue increase was over 50%.” SiriusDecisions
Don’t Skip Addressing Considerations
Hopefully, if you have reached this point, you are pretty excited about ABM and what it can do for your company or firm. Now, a shot of reality. To be successful at account-based marketing, you have to address a lot of considerations. That is why it is so important to start on our strategy now. Imagine you are custom building a new home. Your strategy is your blueprint. You wouldn’t invest a lot of time, money, and resources into building a new home if you didn’t have a detailed blueprint. Beyond that, what types of windows will you have, what will the flooring look like, how much tilework will there be, will there be smart house features? It’s all about the details and who will do the work. Will you be doing any of the carpentry, plumbing, electric, drywall, painting, masonry, etc.? Will you be using any contractors or specialists on this custom home? Will you have a general contractor to drive the blueprint/strategy? Even if you want to do a lot of this with internal resources, you should still use an ABM consultant to guide you through the strategy, help you apply best practices, and avoid known pitfalls.
The same holds true for your ABM initiative. You’ve got considerations such as buyer personas, target account lists, change management, playbooks, data management processes, account plans, cross-functional account team organization, content, offers, campaign design, personalization, events, account mapping, internal collaboration and communications, and more.
Then there are channel considerations. Email. Direct Mail. Account-Based Advertising. Social. Phone Calls. Inbound. Outbound. Metrics. Reporting. You don’t have implement all of these considerations, but I think it is well worth going through the exercise of addressing the considerations. Then you can scale your ABM program based on resources, budget, timelines, and more. It is best to start out with a small pilot program that you can grow and optimize in phases.
A Couple of Tips/Caveats
There is no doubt that a well-planned Account-Based Marketing strategy can have a dramatic, positive impact on ROI and revenue in ways few other marketing strategies can. However, be patient. Set realistic expectations based on your average sales cycle and the skill sets of your team members. While your strategy will be well-intention, it will not be coming out of the gate fully optimized. You will gain insights along the way. Changes will occur to the program—Just like with that custom-built house, you will find changes will occur to your ABM program. The exciting part is that if you stick with the program, you will eventually see the optimization kick in and the bigger payoffs occur.
Speaking of learning from previous tactics, I would recommend that you make sure that your company or firm has a strong brand, key differentiators, and solid positioning before proceeding to ABM. I have seen several clients move ahead only to hit a brick wall when target accounts did not engage—even with the higher level of personalization. Consider your brand a foundation piece to your ABM.
Another foundational piece is a good, high-performance website. The website, custom landing pages, messaging, etc. will tie directly to your other ABM tactics. Nothing stops a possible ABM deal faster than a website that is too slow, too hard to navigate, too vague, or too old (out of style).
Why You Need to Prioritize A B2B, Account-Based, Marketing (ABM) Strategy Now
The B2B marketing world is changing fast. ABM has been proven to work—and work well. You need to commit to ABM today even if you do not implement a strategy and program for a year or more. Planning now will ensure a higher level of success tomorrow. This piece was not designed to be a comprehensive guide to ABM. In fact, its purpose was to specifically focus on the compelling metrics and data to get you to raise ABM as a priority.
Use this piece to get excited and motivated. Keep in mind that your results may vary—especially if you have never created and implemented an ABM strategy before. Start discussions with different teams to get buy-in. Do research online or by talking with ABM practitioners or industry analysts. Now you know what is possible. In the near future I would like to address how to build out an account-based marketing framework. The key to ABM success is to coordinate and unify traditional and digital marketing tactics—and then execute, communicate, measure, and optimize.
“Companies that have implemented ABM saw a 171% increase in their Annual Contract Value (ACV).”TOPO

Why Are You Selling Dog Food To Cat People?

I have a question for you today. And that question is: Why are you selling dog food to cat people? Now, I know you are probably not selling dog food, and you probably don’t sell to cat people. But chances are, your business may be doing just that. Let me explain.
Advertising Mindset
So I was talking with a prospect who was interested in learning more about social media. But really, what he was looking for was a replacement for advertising. He tells me, “I used to spend $3,500 a month on Yellow Page ads, and now I’ve got to spend $500 to do something online. I don’t get it.”
Okay. So the $3,500 made sense, but the online spending of $500 doesn’t. The Yellow Pages was something that was around for a long, long time, and it made something happen. It made the phone ring. So when your phone rang, it gave you feedback. It said, “Hey, this is working. This is worth the time and investment. I can see ROI.”
But digitally, it’s a lot harder. It’s harder because you don’t hear clicks. You don’t see visits. You don’t get reports on engagement, unless you go look for it. And that’s one of the biggest problems: what are they looking for? What are you looking for? What are you spending your money on? And what are you getting in return for that investment?
Follow The Money?
Now, he kept saying that he wanted to work with consumers, but there was a lot more money in corporate. The reason he wanted the consumers is because it’s an easy sale. It’s something that immediately happens, where the other one is a longterm game. It takes time to build up corporate clients. Selling dog food to cat people basically is this: If you say that somebody has a pet, which means they’re into pets because they have a cat, maybe eventually they’ll get a dog.
Let’s say I go into Constant Contact and I create an email. I say, “Okay, here’s some information about cats. And here’s some information about dogs. And here’s some information about hamsters, and maybe bunnies and rabbits and birds, and whatever. You’re into pets, right?” Well, unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of people treat their marketing. “Everybody uses water, right? So as long as I talk about water, everybody’s got to drink it. Pets drink it. People drink it, everything. It runs down the middle of the street when it rains. Who deals with water but a plumber? Okay, a plumber. Everybody uses water right?”
The Riches Are In The Niches
Well, consumers have a different need. Do they need repairs? Do they need remodeling? Do they have other concerns? Maybe their water is hard, or something along that line. Businesses, yeah, they have the same things. They have water fountains, they have bathrooms. But maybe they use water in production, which is different. Maybe they need to prep a space for a lease. Maybe they’re moving in and they want to move the bathroom from one side to the other. It’s a different need. It’s a different audience.
Now, break it down even further. Some consumers have homes. Some don’t. Fight? So the ones that need repairs who have homes, they’re your clients. The ones who need repairs who live in apartments aren’t, because it’s the superintendent or the property manager that has to deal with that. So even though there’s a consumer involved, it’s a different audience. It’s a different message. And it’s a different value.
Same thing with businesses. Some businesses own their own buildings while others are renting. So are you talking to the business owner who owns the building and is maintaining it, or are you talking to the leasing company or the property management company? They have different needs and different concerns. Yeah, of course, they all want the cheapest price, but are they willing to sacrifice their livelihoods on it?
Communicating The Value Difference
There’s a big difference between a company that’s been established, that’s been around for a long time — that has experience, that has training, that has certificates — than something called “two chucks in a truck,” right? Two guys who just happened to lose their jobs put a sticker on the side and drive around looking for business.
The question is: Is your audience being fed the right information? Now, advertising is a mindset. And that mindset is, if you put out an ad, enough people will see it, sooner or later they will kind of pare it down and say, “This is important to me.” Now, in the old days, you could put an advertisement in the Yellow Pages or a newspaper, and people would self-categorize. They would say, “Okay, yeah, there’s an ad for women’s clothes and men’s clothes and homeowners and plumbing and whatever.” They would narrow down and find the ad that was appropriate to them. But we live in a short-attention-span world. And if you send somebody an email with cat food and dog food and rabbit food and bird food, they’re going to look at it and say, “I’m confused. I have a cat. Why am I getting all of this other stuff?”`
Countering The Advertising Mindset
That’s the difference between the advertising mindset, which is very transactional, and the relationship building mindset, which is something that takes time. If you’re sending out an email or any kind of marketing message on social media or anything, here are five steps that you need to take:

First and foremost, pare down your audience. Know who you’re speaking to.
Number two, customize your message. Make sure that message is geared towards them and their problem at this specific time.
The next thing is to include only one message per email. You don’t want to make them choose, because they’ll get confused.
Next, put one link in that email. And put it in up to three times. Again, too many choices leads to confusion.
And then finally, be consistent. If you’re going to email an audience, do it every single week. The more consistent you are, the more people will appreciate it. And they’ll start to say, “I’m looking forward to that.”

Now, when I suggest this to customers, I get usually the same batch of objections.

First, “I don’t have time to break out all of those emails and do all of that stuff.” But let me tell you, your audience doesn’t have time to do the work for you. So if you don’t do it for them, they won’t repay you with their attention, their clicks, and their business.
The next thing is, “I need sales now.” Well, yeah, but the problem is: Is your message matched up with what your clients need now? And do they understand the value that you provide, that you’re not just two chucks in a truck?
And then finally, “But if I don’t sell to every audience, I’m missing opportunities.” Well, you can sell to every audience, you just have to do it one at a time.

Final Thoughts
Let me break that down. The bottom line is, the riches are in niches. A niche has an itch, and they’re asking for your help to scratch it. The more you categorize your information, and deliver it to the right people at the right time, the better the response rate. So yeah, you may not get 1,000 people to respond, but what if you got 10 really interested people at one time? How would that change your business?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about showing the concepts presented. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?