- For B2B marketers, Instagram Stories may not seem the most obvious medium for content creation, but it can be a very effective one.
- B2B brands are able to generate 20x more engagement on Instagram compared to LinkedIn.
- Digital Marketing Strategist, Sumeet Anand details on six ways B2B marketers can use Instagram Stories for lead generation with examples from Salesforce, Oracle, Hubspot, Slack, and more.
Instagram is the hottest new social media channel for B2B marketing. In fact, a study found that B2B brands are able to generate 20x more engagement on Instagram compared to LinkedIn. Sounds great, right? One of the best parts about Instagram is it gives you the ability to publish Stories along with posts. Over 500 million Instagram users view and post Instagram Stories on the app every day. With such popularity, it’s evident that users like this feature to view content. What’s more, is that one in three of the most viewed Instagram Stories is from businesses.
For B2B marketers, it may not seem the most obvious medium for content creation, but it can be a very effective one. For the uninitiated, Instagram Stories disappear in 24 hours. Think of it as a dashboard where you can add GIFs, photos, and videos that add brand and business value.
While your content doesn’t stay on the platform for long, it gets displayed prominently at the top of the users’ feed amplifying the chances of viewing and engaging with your brand.
Instagram Stories are very versatile. You can use them to promote your latest products or simply share an inspirational quote. That’s one of the biggest “whys?” Instagram Stories can be a great tool for marketing. If you are not using them to promote your brand, it’s time to get started now.
How to use Instagram Stories to generate more B2B leads
In this section, let’s discuss different ways in which you can leverage Instagram Stories for B2B lead generation.
To give you a better understanding of its practical usage, we’ve also included real-life examples from B2B companies.
1. Publish share-worthy content
The first part of the B2B marketing funnel is about creating brand awareness. You don’t directly try to sell your services or products to a cold lead. The first step to get them interested is to initiate a conversation about your niche or industry.
That’s where Instagram Stories come into the picture. You can publish share-worthy content that educates your audience or is interesting. If you have your own blog, you can also promote your latest posts in your Instagram Stories.
Salesforce uses this strategy to promote their posts and engage prospective leads. As you can see in the screenshot below, Instagram users can swipe to get redirected to their blog.
There’s all about getting more website traffic.
But what about lead generation?
On the website, there is a prominent CTA at the end of the blog post. So, Salesforce uses Instagram Stories to get more leads indirectly. It’s a quick entry into the sales funnel.
The actual process of lead generation and conversion happens on the website.
In other words, Instagram Stories provides a great window of opportunity for you to boost your traffic and get more leads.
Don’t miss out.
Not just blog posts, you can also share other resources like case studies, podcast episodes, and webinars via Instagram Stories. Since Stories stay on your profile for only 24 hours, they are great for such short-term promotional activities.
The best part?
Instagram provides different Stickers that you can use to make the promotion more exciting. For instance, Vancouver-based software company, Unbounce used the countdown Sticker to create buzz about their new report.
To get users interested, they also provide a sneak peek into the findings in the next series of Stories.
Here is a screenshot:
You can use a specialized Instagram Story maker tool with templates to make visually appealing designs without spending too much time or effort.
2. Conduct an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) session
B2B buyers value brands that are transparent with them.
If you are willing to share knowledge and provide them guidance, you can expect them to tune in. In an effort to build an authentic relationship with your prospects, you can host an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) session.
It can help you build brand awareness and boost your lead generation efforts. In addition to this, it can also establish your brand as a leader in your industry.
To get the maximum leads, you can invite an influencer or an expert. When they host an AMA on your Instagram Stories, you can attract their followers as well.This way, you can boost your reach and get more leads.
Don’t have the budget for it? There is still a way around it. Take inspiration from HubSpot’s Instagram Stories.
They conducted AMA sessions with their employees, including social media video editor, blogging manager, email and growth manager, and others. Each of them shared what they do and shared tips for others.
This is also a great strategy to get more engagement.
And anyone who has an understanding of the B2B marketing funnel knows that it paves the way for conversion.
3. Showcase your latest products
If you’re launching a new product or are adding new features to your product, announce it via an Instagram Story. It can help you create some buzz and inform your audience about what’s on offer.
Furthermore, you can actually demonstrate what users can do with the new product or feature. Such content can be educational as well as entertaining.
Social media management tool, Buffer used this strategy to promote their new app, Remix. Here is a screenshot from their Instagram profile:
As you can see, they have introduced the app casually. In a series of Stories that follow it, they have explained via images and videos how users it works.
They demonstrate how users can share content posted on one social media platform to another one seamlessly with the app. Through such engaging Stories, they provide a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to use the app.
Wondering how it is a great strategy to drive leads?
After all, they aren’t driving any website traffic. For that matter, they don’t even have a powerful call-to-action phrase on these Instagram Stories. There isn’t a special offer included either.
So, how is this strategy relevant for B2B lead generation?
As it turns out, providing exposure to your products and services is a top-of-the-marketing funnel. When people know more about your services and products, they are likely to check out your site. This, in turn, can get them to opt-in, and finally make a purchase.
The point being, it can help you with lead nurturing. In a nutshell, it is a baby step in the right direction.
4. Conduct quizzes
Another cool way to engage your audience and get them interested is to host quizzes and polls in Instagram Stories. Using the Quiz and Polls Sticker in Stories, you can find out what your audience is looking for.
For those who are in the brand awareness stage of the marketing funnel, it can be a great way to lead them onto the next stage.
It can get them to engage with you.
For this, it is a good idea to ask questions that are broadly related to your niche or target audience.
For example, US-based computer technology company, Oracle offers cloud applications. They also have special products related to Java. To spread awareness about them, they created the following quiz:
As you can see, they are trying to define the scope of their target audience in a very organic manner. Since it is provided in the form of a question, there is some participation required from the reader. This, in turn, makes it more engaging.
In addition to this, you can also use the “Question” sticker in Instagram Stories to ask for feedback. Video marketing software company, Wistia, asked their followers what would make it easy for them to create videos.
They even received multiple replies from their audience which they showcased on their Stories.
Here is a screenshot:
All in all, it shows how they are willing to lend a listening ear. At the same time, they get engagement and can also attract more leads.
5. Showcase customer feedback
One of the biggest concerns for B2B buyers is whether their purchase will be worth the money they are investing.
It’s a valid concern.
Since they are investing a lot of money, it’s understandable that they want to be sure about it. As a B2B marketer, it is your job to win their trust and showcase the value that you can provide them.
In all of this, where do Instagram Stories come into the picture?
It’s simple — They provide you a great platform to provide social proof to your audience. You can showcase testimonials on Instagram Stories.
Positive reviews or words of affirmation from past customers can go a long way in getting more leads and conversions.
Email marketing software program GetResponse showcased testimonials on their Stories. To make sure that it stays on their profile, they saved it as a “Highlight.”
Here is a screenshot of one such testimonial:
In the long-term, this strategy can help you build your credibility and win more customers. The best part is you don’t need to put in a lot of effort to share testimonials via Stories.
In the above example from getResponse, they have used text. But you can experiment and share audio and video testimonials as well.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Business communication platform, Slack takes this a step further. In the Highlight, “Slack Stories” on their profile, they share testimonials as well as links to case studies to showcase how their platform is making a difference to businesses.
6. Show your support for a social cause
Marketing doesn’t have to solely be about showcasing your products. It’s also about showcasing your brand values. Don’t shy away from taking a stand on a social issue that aligns with what your brand and audience believe in. In fact, during the 2020 holiday season, Mastercard shared that 75% of consumers intend to prefer shopping from businesses that share their personal values.
There are two benefits to this. It showcases that your brand has a human side to it, has personality, and cares about social causes.
Social media management solution, Sprout Social published a series of Instagram Stories on their platform supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
They even shared resources for anyone who wanted to reach out for help.
Bonus tip: Track insights from your Instagram Stories
For lead generation, it is recommended that you experiment with different types of Instagram Stories. Quizzes, AMA sessions, polls, and more — give it all a try! To find out what resonates with your audience, make it a point to regularly check insights for your Instagram Stories.
To view the stats for a Story that is live on your Instagram profile, you can follow these steps:
- Go to the published Story
- Swipe up to see insights for your Instagram Story
- Tap on the icon that looks like a chart.
Instagram also allows you to view insights for your previously published Stories.
For this, you can follow the steps mentioned below:
- Go to your Instagram profile
- Click on the menu icon given in the top right corner
- Tap on the icon for the Insights menu
Checking the insights for Instagram Stories can help you determine the kind of content that is doing well on your profile. Based on that, you can come up with more Instagram Stories and refine your marketing efforts.
Instagram Stories offer a lot of opportunities for B2B marketers to build brand awareness and generate leads. Not all of the above-mentioned strategies may help you get leads directly, but they can help you move prospective leads along the funnel.
For the best results, you should use a mix of these strategies. Also, keep in mind that social media marketing requires patience. So, do not expect immediate results! It’s one of the B2B trends to watch out for.
Do you have any questions about generating B2B leads using Instagram Stories? Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section.
The post B2B lead generation using Instagram Stories: Six tips with examples appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
- Agency lead generation strategies are top of mind right now and attracting more leads regularly has become a challenge with more and more content being available online now.
- Agile marketers are paving the path forward combining technology and talent.
- You can boost lead generation using content that adds value to your prospects—content such as white papers.
- Venngage’s Content Marketer, Ronita Mohan shares a five-step guide to design papers that will generate leads for your agency.
Agency lead generation strategies are top of mind right now. Attracting more leads regularly has become a challenge—the world is more online, but that also means that there is more content available.
Rising above the noise to draw in the right leads can seem like an impossible task. But we’re here to tell you that it isn’t.
You can boost lead generation using content that adds value to your prospects—content such as white papers.
While designing white papers from scratch can be tricky, there are online resources to create attractive white paper designs that boost brand awareness and increase conversions.
So, how do you create white papers that convert? We share a five-step guide to design papers that will generate leads for your agency.
1. Target agency lead generation audiences
Before you design a white paper, you need to define the audiences who will read it.
While your agency may have a diverse set of clients, when you’re trying to generate leads, you need to narrow down your focus.
You don’t want to create content that aims to please everyone—the chances are, you will end up attracting no one.
Generic content is easier to create—there’s a proliferation of it online. But you want your content to stand out in the crowd. That is how prospective clients will notice your agency.
To do this, you should study your market segments and answer these questions:
- What pain points do your clients have?
- How can your agency resolve those issues?
- Is your current market large enough for your service?
- Are there market gaps that you should explore?
- What kind of content has already been successful?
Following this process will help you understand your audience’s needs better. This will make it easier to choose topics and designs for your white paper and boost conversions.
2. Define topics for agency lead generation white papers
Now that you’ve defined your audience—and you know your goal is agency lead generation—you need to pick a topic that is suitable for your prospects.
Remember, your aim with your content is to provide solutions to your clients’ pain points—that should be the driving factor behind creating any kind of content.
There are a few ways to find topics of interest for your prospects.
One method is to send survey questions to your existing clients asking them what kind of content they would like to see from you.
You can also look at content that has already done well on social media, past white papers, and blog posts. This will help you decide which topics attract the most views.
Consider searching online for keywords related to your clients. Google’s longtail keyword suggestions are a great place to find new content ideas.
Plus, SERP results give you an idea of what content is being searched for and why.
It is best to get granular with your white paper topics. Instead of creating a paper on the wider topic of brand awareness, the below example focuses on brand positioning.
If you’re writing about email marketing—which is a broad topic—consider focusing on something narrower.
Write about incorporating user-generated content in emails, or how email marketing can be used to improve hiring rates.
You can also focus on specific aspects of your industry, such as the impact of phishing scams on company cybersecurity, or how to outsource IT departments.
The more targeted your topics are for your audience, the more likely they are to engage with your content.
3. Agency lead generation content creation
When you’re creating content designed for agency lead generation, your mind is on sales and conversions.
However, that shouldn’t be the primary thrust of your content. If you create white papers solely to sell your agency to leads, you might end up losing them instead of converting them.
Nobody wants to be sold to—especially when they’re investing time and energy into reading a white paper.
Additionally, white papers are gated content—they require interested parties to fill up a form to obtain access to the paper.
You can’t ask prospects to put in that much effort to get a piece of content that doesn’t enrich their lives or educate them about a topic.
But you do still need to convert prospects into clients. How can you do that?
Your white papers should be educational and informative about the subject matter, like in this example about employee engagement.
Do original research into the topic and include data that backs up your assertions.
Share case studies and illustrated use cases from your agency. Not only do case studies make for interesting content but they also act as testimonials for your work.
The process of attracting prospects should be organic—encourage them with well-researched and well-written white papers.
4. Designing white papers for agency lead generation
Your white paper needs to be interesting and engaging, but it also should be attractive to prospects.
You could create a Word document, export it as a PDF, and share that with your audience. But is that going to get prospects’ attention like this example below?
It is possible to design a white paper that is colorful and detailed with templates and even from scratch.
We outline how to design great white papers to improve your agency lead generation efforts.
Be on-trend with your agency lead generation white paper design
Your white paper needs to follow present graphic design trends. This is important because, while you want to stand out from a crowd, you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.
In the foreseeable future, these are some of the design trends agency marketers need to be aware of:
- Muted colors, not bold or neon colors
- Flat icons and illustrations, as opposed to 3D icons
- Geometric shapes, instead of the abstract, flowing shapes of 2019
- Classic Serif fonts, which are coming back into fashion
All these design elements will influence how you create your white paper and how successfully they draw in prospective clients.
Use visuals to design attractive lead-generating white papers
Visual communication has become one of the pillars of content marketing—which is why visuals need to be incorporated into your white paper design.
Start by designing an attractive cover page for your paper.
Similar to book covers, the top page of your paper has the power to draw people to read further, like in this example.
Your cover page should also convey what leads will find within the pages of the paper—don’t mislead them with visuals that are attractive but irrelevant.
Though papers are largely text-based, that doesn’t mean that visuals don’t help engage readers further.
You can use visuals like icons, illustrations, photos, and charts to add depth to your white paper. They also make the content more readable and scannable.
When using photos, look for imagery that reflects your target audience—that will make the white paper feel more relevant to your readers.
Structuring your agency lead generation white paper
We have already mentioned the importance of having a cover page for your paper. But you also need to include an index that outlines the chapters of the paper.
To make the process easier, always include page numbers in your white papers.
Readers will be able to return to sections they are interested in if they have an index to refer to, like in this example.
When you can, try to include quotes from experts in your field—this will give your paper more gravitas. Quotes should be highlighted with a bigger font size to vary the design.
In the same vein, include tables and text boxes that focus readers’ attention on specific facts and data.
Highlight key takeaways in the summary section of your paper—it is best to summarize your findings only after the paper is written.
Add a CTA in your agency lead generation white papers
What is the purpose of your paper? You want your prospects to perform some action.
That is why you need to include a call-to-action in your white paper—so that you can convert prospects into leads, and eventually into clients.
Here are some calls-to-action you can add to your papers:
- Subscribing to your newsletter
- Trying out your service
- Scheduling a call
- Learning more about your business
Ensure your CTA is visible and stands out on your page—this will encourage leads to click on it and travel further through your sales pipeline.
Repurpose content into agency lead generation white papers
Creating content for agency lead generation can be a tough task—especially when you have to build content from scratch.
But there is a workaround for agency marketing teams—repurposing existing content. Instead of creating the text and visuals for papers, breathe new life into what you already have.
For example, your company blog may have multiple posts around one topic. These can be collated into chapters for a paper.
Similarly, a webinar can be used to create a white paper, or a long eBook can be broken down into several white papers.
The possibilities for repurposing content are endless—keep an open mind and you can create papers that will generate more leads.
5. Agency lead generation white paper promotion
Congratulations, you’ve created a white paper! Now, what do you do?
Leads aren’t going to find your paper on their own. You need to actively promote your content.
There are numerous ways to get eyeballs on your paper. Here are a few promotion methods to follow:
Create blog posts around your white paper content and include a call-to-action to download the paper, like in this example.
Leads are more likely to access gated content if it has some context around it.
Promoting your white paper through an email campaign can boost downloads.
Share previews, statistics, or facts from the paper to entice your email list to click through to your paper’s landing page.
Write a follow-up email to everyone who downloads the paper to continue a conversation—this will increase conversions.
Social media marketing (SMM)
Leads use social media to find content and future partners all the time. Sharing white papers on your channels will increase visibility for your content and your brand.
Use social media tools to schedule posts about your white paper at relevant times to your audience.
You can build a landing page for your paper that includes a summary and key learnings—enough information to encourage leads to download your content.
Your page should include a simple form that prospective clients can fill in to access the paper—don’t ask for too much information, or they may be deterred from filling the form.
Promoting your content is a necessary step if you want to create agency lead generation strategies that convert.
Key takeaways: Prioritize audience needs to boost agency lead generation
Creating a white paper is a long process but a fruitful one that brings in more clients. To be successful, you need to follow a few crucial steps:
- Target your white paper audience
- Choose topics that are relevant to your leads
- Create content that will encourage leads to partner with you
- Design the white paper to attract leads
- Promote your content on multiple platforms
These steps will help you create white papers that will boost your agency lead generation efforts.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at the online infographic and design platform, Venngage.
The post Agency lead generation: How to create white papers that convert appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Even though marketing has changed quite a bit over the past decade as new channels and strategies have opened up, there is one method that remains just as effective as ever – email marketing.
Email marketing averages a 3800% ROI for both B2C and B2B companies, and 80% of businesses find that it directly correlates to higher business retention, too. However, email marketing has not stayed completely the same over the past few years and companies will need to adjust to stay relevant in 2020.
For example, in 2020, the vast majority of emails will be opened on mobile devices as opposed to desktops or webmail apps.
But, there are other changes and trends that marketers need to be aware of to keep their email marketing engaging and fresh as we enter a new decade.
Let’s break down the best practices that businesses should be using as they transition their marketing strategies for the new year.
1. Embrace the concept of smart permission-based advertising
Email marketing used to be sort of a wide net that was cast to a large audience with the intent of catching whatever it could. These days, technology allows companies to be far more strategic and hyper-target their receivers based on data, such as demographics or behavior.
However, customers do not always love this idea of intense targeting or generalized marketing. 77% of consumers prefer permission-based advertising, specifically through email – as opposed to direct mail, text, or social ads.
This means that to grow open rates, businesses must understand the importance of consent for targeting through opt-in email marketing. This means providing customers with the option to choose what types of marketing messages they receive from you – as well as the frequency of these emails.
For example, West Elm allows their email subscribers to choose when they want to receive emails, such as when the store is running a promotion or there are new arrivals in stock. Customers can also choose the frequency.
The majority of people will unsubscribe if they feel like businesses are constantly trying to sell them something. So it is important for companies to find the sweet spot by giving customers options that put them in control of the content they receive.
2. Remember: We live in a post-GDPR world
Modern businesses are extremely reliant on data for just about everything these days. But after all of the data leaks and breaches that occurred over the past years, as well as scandals coming to light of giant companies illegally gathering and selling customer data, consumers are warier than ever of sharing personal information.
Although the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is only in place in Europe currently, it has implications that affect businesses around the globe. For example, if your business services customers within the EU, your data collection processes must be GDPR compliant. Furthermore, these regulations have opened the eyes of many consumers to the importance of data protection.
Email marketing is heavily scrutinized when it comes to data collection so it’s important to incorporate elements into your email marketing that build trust with your audience.
One way to encourage data sharing is through transparency. Let your customers know how data sharing benefits them with personalized offers or better experiences. See how Teva does with their email opt-ins for data sharing.
3. Don’t overdo the email designs
Flashy designs, animated graphics, and multiple CTAs within an email no longer work the magic they used to. Many people find them simply annoying or even spammy, especially if they are checking the message on their mobile device.
Instead, keep the focus on what your brand has to offer and not solely on how “cool” the email looks. Get to the point quickly. If you are promoting a sale, display some good deals and incorporate CTAs that drive customers directly to those product pages.
Also, be sure to stick to the elements that influence customer behavior – like reviews. Not only do reviews help to improve your SEO, but they can also increase click-through rates.
For example, The Pearl Source used Trustpilot to automatically embed reviews into their marketing content – including email marketing, on their website, and on product pages. This helped consumers see overall ratings and comments before buying.
By displaying their total number of over 6,500 verified reviews, the brand also established social proof and cultivated trust with new consumers off the bat.
In the world of email marketing and marketing as a whole, authenticity trumps flashy designs. This is a reality that has solidified itself over the past decade and will almost certainly continue into the 20s.
4. Automate your hyper-personalized campaigns
Automation in email marketing offers a lot of great benefits. It can do wonders to impact sales by lowering cart abandonment and boosting customer retention rates. The more relevant your emails are, the more revenue you stand to generate and the best way to ensure this is through personalized automation.
This goes beyond just including the customer’s name in the subject heading. Instead, every element of the messaging needs to be catered to a customer based on key data points, such as:
- Their product viewing history
- Past purchases
- Recent behavior
One great example is this automated email from Tarte Cosmetics, which sends out personally curated product suggestions based on the customer’s purchases and product views.
In 2020, it will be crucial for companies to use trigger-based automation to perfect the timing of their messages. For instance, say that a customer views a product and adds it to their cart, but ends up abandoning it. If an email is sent 24 hours later alerting them that stock is running low or the price has dropped, it could result in a conversion.
In 2020, it is quite apparent that consumers want more control over their experiences and interactions with brands. So, it is important that marketers understand how to accommodate consumers’ preferences when it comes to email marketing – while still being able to increase sales.
By opting for permission-based marketing and including more elements that matter to consumers like personalization, reviews, and data sharing options, you can expect to see impressive returns from your email marketing in 2020.
Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc.
The post Four key email marketing practices to lead your business into 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
In this new lesson on Hero Academy, Google Agency Account Strategist Imani Parker, does a step-by-step breakdown on how to get YouTube Lead Form Ads set-up and the things and settings you need to be aware of when you are implementing this new format.
Read more at PPCHero.com
Venngage is a free infographic maker that has catered to more than 21,000 businesses. In this article, we explore how they grew their organic traffic from about 275,000 visitors per month in November 2017 to about 900,000 today — more than tripling in 17 months.
I spoke with Nadya Khoja, Chief Growth Officer at Venngage, about their process.
Venngage gets most of their leads from content and organic search. The percentage varies from month to month in the range of 58% to 65%.
In Nov 2017, Venngage enjoyed 275,000 visitors a month from organic search traffic. Today (16 months later) it’s 900,000. Nadya Khoja (their Chief Growth Officer) extrapolated from their current trend that by December of 2019 (in nine months) they will enjoy three million organic search visitors per month.
In 2015, when Nadya started with Venngage, they saw 300 to 400 registrations a week. By March of 2018, this was up to 25,000 a week. Today it’s 45,000.
While Nadya had the advantage of not starting from zero, that is impressive growth per any reasonable metric. How did they do it?
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. I’ll do my best to explain them, and how they tie together. There is no correct order to things per se, so what is below is my perspective on how best to tell this story.
The single most important ingredient: Hypothesize, test, analyze, adjust
This critical ingredient is surprisingly not an ingredient, but rather a methodology. I’m tempted to call it “the scientific method”, as that’s an accurate description, but perhaps it’s more accurate to call it the methodology written up in the books “The Lean Startup” (which Nadya has read) and “Running Lean” (which Nadya has not read).
This single most important ingredient is the methodology of the hypothesize, test, analyze, and adjust.
What got them to this methodology was a desire to de-risk SEO.
The growth in traffic and leads was managed through a series of small and quick iterations, each one of which either passed or failed. Ones that passed were done more. Ones that failed were abandoned.
This concept of hypothesizing, testing, analyzing, and adjusting is used both for SEO changes and for changes to their products.
The second most important ingredient
This ingredient is shared knowledge. Venngage marketing developed “The Playbook”, which everyone in marketing contributes to. “The Playbook” was created both as a reference with which to bring new team members up to speed quickly, as well as a running history of what has been tested and how it went.
The importance of these first two ingredients cannot be overstated. From here on, I am revealing things they learned through trial and error. You have the advantage to learn from their successes and failures. They figured this stuff out the hard way. One hypothesis and one test at a time.
Their north star metrics
They have two north star metrics. The first one seems fairly obvious. “How many infographics are completed within a given time period?” The second one occurred to them later and is as important, if not more so. It is “how long does it take to complete an infographic?”
The first metric, of course, tells them how attractive their product is. The second tells them how easy (or hard) their product is to use.
Together these are the primary metrics that drive everything Venngage does.
The 50/50 focus split
As a result of both the company and the marketing department having a focus on customer acquisition and customer retention, every person in marketing spends half their time working on improving the first north star metric, and the other half spend their time working on improving the second.
Marketing driving product design
Those north star metrics have led to Venngage developing what I call marketing driven product design. Everywhere I ever worked has claimed they did this. The way Venngage does this exceeds anything ever done at a company I’ve worked for.
“How do I be good?”
This part of Nadya’s story reminds me of the start of a promo video I once saw for MasterClass.com. It’s such a good segue to this part of the story that I cropped out all but the good part to include in this article.
When Steve Martin shed light on an important marketing question
I’ve encountered a number of companies through the years who thought of marketing as “generating leads” and “selling it”, rather than “how do we learn what our customers want?”, or “how do we make our product easier to use?”
The company is structured into cross-functional squads, a cross-functional squad being people from various departments within Venngage, all working to improve a company-wide metric.
For example, one of the aspects of their infographic product is templates. A template is a starting point for building an infographic.
As templates are their largest customer acquisition channel, they created a “Template Squad”, whose job is to work on their two north star metrics for their templates.
The squad consists of developers, designers, UI/UX people, and the squad leader, who is someone in marketing. Personally, I love this marketing focus, as it de-focuses marketing and causes marketing to be something that permeates everything the company does.
There is another squad devoted to internationalization, which as you can infer, is responsible to improve their two north star metrics with users in countries around the world.
Each template squad member is tasked with improving their two north star metrics.
Ideas on how to do this come from squad members with various backgrounds and ideas.
Each idea is translated into a testable hypothesis. Modifications are done weekly. As you can image, Venngage is heavy into analytics, as without detailed and sophisticated analytics, they don’t know which experiments worked and which didn’t.
Examples of ideas that worked are:
- Break up the templates page into a series of pages, which contain either category of templates or single templates.
- Ensure each template page contains SEO keywords specific for the appropriate industry or audience segment. This is described in more detail further in this document.
- Undo the forced backlink each of the embedded templates used to contain.
- This allowed them to get initial traction, but it later resulted in a Google penalty.
- This is a prime example of an SEO tactic that worked until it didn’t.
- Create an SEO checklist for all template pages with a focus on technical SEO.
- This eliminated human error from the process.
- Eliminate “React headers” Google was not indexing.
- Determine what infographic templates and features people don’t use and eliminate them.
I personally think this is really important. To obtain outputs, they measured inputs. When the goal was to increase registrations, they identified the things they had to do to increase registrations, then measured how much of that they did every week.
Everyone does SEO
In the same way that marketing is something that does not stand alone, but rather permeates everything Venngage does, SEO does not stand alone. It permeates everything marketing does. Since organic search traffic is the number one source of leads, they ensure everyone in marketing knows the basics of technical SEO and understands the importance of this never being neglected.
Beliefs and values
While I understand the importance of beliefs and values in human psychology, it was refreshing to see this being proactively addressed within an organization in the context of improving their north star metrics.
They win and lose together
Winning and losing together is a core belief at Venngage. Nadya states it minimizes blame and finger-pointing. When they win, they all win. When they lose, they all lose. It doesn’t matter who played what part. To use a sports analogy, a good assist helps to score a goal. A bad assist, well, that’s an opportunity to learn.
SEO is a team effort
While it is technically possible for a single person to do SEO, the volume of tasks required these days makes it impractical. SEO requires quality content, technical SEO, and building of backlinks through content promotion, guest posting, and the others. Venngage is a great example of effectively distributing SEO responsibilities through the marketing department.
To illustrate the importance of the various pieces fitting together, consider that while content is king, technical SEO is what gets content found, but when people find crappy content, it doesn’t convert.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure
This requires no elaboration.
But what you measure matters
This probably does justify some elaboration. We’ve all been in organizations that measured stupid stuff. By narrowing down to their two north star metrics, then focusing their efforts to improving those metrics, they’ve aligned everyone’s activity towards things that matter.
The magic of incremental improvements
This is the Japanese concept of Kaizen put into play for the development and marketing of a software product.
Done slightly differently, this concept helped Britain dominate competitive cycling at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Customer acquisition is not enough
Venngage developed their second north star metric after deciding that acquiring new customers was not, in and of itself, any form of the Holy Grail. They realized that if their product was hard to use, fewer people would use it.
They decided a good general metric of how easy the product is to use was to measure how long people take to build an infographic. If people took “too long”, they spoke to them about why.
This led them to change the product in ways to make it easier to use.
Link building is relationship building
As a reader of Search Engine Watch, you know link building is critical and central to SEO. In the same way that everyone in Venngage marketing must know the basics of technical SEO, everyone in Venngage marketing must build links.
They do so via outreach to promote their content. As people earn links from the content promotion outreach, they record those links in a shared spreadsheet.
While this next bit is related to link building, everyone in Venngage marketing has traffic goals as well.
This too is tracked in a simple and reasonable way. Various marketers own different “areas” or “channels”. These channels are broken down into specific traffic acquisition metrics.
As new hires get more familiar with how things work at Venngage, they are guided into traffic acquisition channels which they want to work on.
Learning experience, over time
My attempt here is to provide a chronology of what they learned in what order. It may help you avoid some of the mistakes they made.
Cheating works until it doesn’t
Understanding the importance of links to search ranking, they thought it would be a good idea to implement their infographics with embedded backlinks. Each implemented infographic contained a forced backlink to the Venngage website.
They identified a set of anchor text they thought would be beneficial to them and rotated through them for these forced backlinks.
And it worked, for a while. Until they realized they had invited a Google penalty. This took a bit to clean up.
The lessons learned:
- The quality of your backlinks matter.
- To attract quality backlinks, publish quality content.
Blog posts brought in users who activated
At some point, their analytics helped them realize that users who activated from blog posts where ideal users for them. So they set a goal to increase activations from blog posts, which led to the decision to test if breaking up templates into categories and individual pages with only one template made sense. It did.
Website design matters
Changing the website from one big template page to thousands of smaller ones helped, and not just because it greatly increased the number of URLs indexed by Google. It also greatly improved the user experience. It made it easier for their audience to find templates relevant to them, without having to look at templates that weren’t.
Lesson learned: UI/UX matters for both users and SEO.
Hybrid content attracts
Hybrid content is where an article talks about two main things. For example, talking about Hogwarts houses sorting within the context of an infographic. This type of content brings in some number of Harry Potter fans, some of whom have an interest in creating infographics. The key to success is tying these two different topics together well.
Content is tuneable
By converting one huge templates page into thousands of small template pages, they realized that a template or set of templates that appeal to one audience segment would not necessarily appeal to others. This caused them to start to tune templates towards audience segments in pursuit of more long tail organic search traffic.
How did they figure out what users wanted in terms of better content? They used a combination of keyword research and talking with users and prospects.
Some content doesn’t make the cut
After they caught onto the benefits of tuning content to attract different audience segments, they looked for content on their site that no one seemed to care about. They deleted it. While it decreased the amount of content on their site, it increased their overall content quality.
Traffic spikes are not always good news
When they initially started creating forced backlinks in their infographics, they could see their traffic increase. They saw some spikes. Their general thought was more traffic is good.
When they experienced the Google penalty, they realized how wrong they were. Some traffic spikes are bad news. Others are good news.
When your website traffic shows a sudden change, even if you’re experiencing a spike in organic search traffic, you must dig into the details and find out the root cause.
Lesson learned: There is a thing as bad traffic. Some traffic warns you of a problem.
Links from product embeds aren’t all bad
They just needed to make the embedded links optional. To allow the customer to decide if they do or do not deserve a backlink. While this did not cause any change to their levels of organic search traffic, it was necessary to resolve the Google penalty.
Incremental continuous improvement seems repetitive and boring. A one percent tweak here, a two percent tweak there, but over time, you’ve tripled your organic search traffic and your lead flow.
It’s necessarily fun, but it delivers results.
Lesson learned: What I’ll call “infrastructure” is boring, and it matters. Both for your product and your SEO.
Figure out what to measure
The idea of measuring the amount of time required to complete an infographic did not occur to them on day one. This idea came up when they were looking for a metric to indicate to them how easy (or difficult) their product was to use.
Once they decided this metric possibly made sense, they determined their baseline, then through an iterative process, making improvements to the product to make this a little faster.
As they did so, the feedback from the users was positive, so they doubled down on this effort.
Lesson learned: What you measure matters.
Teach your coworkers well
They created “The Playbook”, which is a compendium of the combined knowledge they’ve accumulated over time. The playbook is written by them, for them.
Marketing employees are required to add chapters to the playbook as they learn new skills and methods.
Its primary purpose is to bring new team members up to speed quickly, and it also serves as a historical record of what did and did not work.
One important aspect of continuous improvement is for new people to avoid suggesting experiments that previously failed.
Additionally (and I love this), every month everyone in marketing gives Nadya an outline of what they’re learning and what they’re improving on.
Their marketing stack
While their marketing stack is not essential to understanding their processes, I find it useful to understand what software tools a marketing organization uses, and for what. So here is theirs. This is not a list of what they’ve used and abandoned over time, but rather a list of what they use now.
- Analytics: Google Analytics and Mixpanel
- Customer communications: Intercom
- Link analysis and building: Ahrefs
- Link building outreach: Mailshake
- Project management: Trello
- General purpose: G Suite
To me, what Nadya has done at Venngage is a case study in how to do SEO right, and most of doing it right are not technical SEO work.
- Help senior management understand that some things that are not typically thought of as SEO (website design for example) can have serious SEO implications.
- Get senior management buy in to include these non-SEO functions in your SEO efforts.
- Understand what very few basic metrics matter for your company, and how you measure them.
- Distribute required SEO work through as many people as reasonably possible. Include people whose job functions are not necessarily SEO related (writers, designers, UI/UX, and more).
- Test and measure everything.
- Win big through a continuous stream of small incremental improvements.
Venngage has surely lead by example and all the guidelines and pointers shared above can surely help your organization implement its search for increased sales.
Kevin Carney is the Founder and CEO of the boutique link building agency Organic Growth.
The post SEO case study: How Venngage turned search into their primary lead source appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
News flash: a lead is not a lead.
Read more at PPCHero.com
When we hear the words “lead generation,” our minds automatically conjure up a B2B marketing strategy aimed at filling the top of the sales funnel. But leads are not exclusive to B2B companies.
Every type of business, be it wholesale, retail, startup or whatever else, needs qualified “potential” customers who can be nurtured into actual paying customers. Ecommerce is no different.
With the barriers to starting an ecommerce business tumbling faster than you can say Jack Robinson, the ecommerce industry has become competitive like never before.
Besides new competitors mushrooming every day, there is the entrenched Goliaths – Amazon – which will eat away close to 50% of the market within the next three years!
HubSpot’s State of Inbound report revealed that for 3 out of 5 marketers, generating traffic and leads is the toughest challenge. No surprise then, that 70% of them intended to expand their demand generation budgets in 2018.
But bigger budgets are useless if you use the same old strategies that didn’t work before.
How about embracing tried and tested strategies that guarantee leads in the New Year? Here goes!
Three top lead generation tips for ecommerce businesses
1. Rewrite your product descriptions with a focus on SEO
This mistake, like history, has been repeated time and again in the world of ecommerce. While the importance of having unique product descriptions is plastered all over the web, rookie ecommerce companies still make the same mistake of using manufacturer’s descriptions and putting off giving them a custom twist until later when they’ve “made some sales.”
But hey, if you won’t make them unique, how will Google rank you for those products? And if Google doesn’t rank you, how will you get any visitors? And if you don’t have any visitors, how will you have any leads? In fact, a study by AWR found that click-through rates from Google SERPs to retailers’ sites dropped from nearly 30% for position 1 to less than 5% for position 5. Thereafter, you might not as well exist.
According to this post by Tracy Vides, there are four critical factors that are important for SEO, lead generation, as well as sales, which you’d do well to address on your product pages:
- A well-defined buyer persona that matches your most valuable customer profiles
- Descriptions that answer every possible question that a potential customer might have
- In-depth reviews from existing customers
- A simple, intuitive, quick, easy path to purchase
Don’t be afraid to go into great detail with product descriptions. Clearly explain all the features; in fact, make it so simple that a five-year-old should be able to use your product by reading what you have to say about it. The same goes for the “usability” of your product pages. The more (and better) content you have on your pages, the better Google will understand and consider it, the more time readers will spend on it, and the more qualified leads you will eventually get into your funnel.
2. Continually expand your email list, segment it for maximum impact
There’s no better (and cheaper!) way to stay in touch with your customers than via email. I could quote research that shows how every dollar spent on email marketing brings back up more than $ 40 in revenue, but even if you don’t get such exponential ROI, email marketing is a channel you absolute must leverage.
While getting your hands on customers’ emails are easy to get for ecommerce businesses, it’s important to also capture email addresses of website visitors and browsers. This article explains how ecommerce businesses typically gather 3x their regular number of emails with email capture pop-ups. Depending on the type of pop-up you choose – exit intent pop-ups, timed pop-ups, sidebar pop-ups, and more. You can potentially capture emails from 3 to 16% of website visitors at close-to-zero cost.
Once you’ve set up your email capture pipeline, don’t go indiscriminately mass mailing your list and put them off from all your communications. Instead, create clear segments within your database to which you can communicate distinctly different messages.
Novelty apparel retailer Johnny Cupcakes discovered the benefits of simple and basic segmentation to their pleasant surprise. They leveraged social media data to piece together a more detailed profile of their customers, with information on their gender, interests, media habits, and brand preferences, and found that a large proportion of their customers were sports fans, especially baseball.
So they decided to experiment with a new product line of baseball shirts, with distinct male and female categories. They segmented their 80,000-strong email list by gender and sent them the email creatives you see below.
Source: Marketing Sherpa
The results blew them away. CTRs grew by 42%, conversion rate went up by 123% and revenue per campaign rose by a whopping 141%. What a difference relevant content can make to marketing outcomes!
3. Bring back lost souls with remarketing
As the old adage goes, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Getting users to come to your site in the first place is hard enough. But having them leave without buying a thing is simply heartbreaking. Put the brakes on your users’ exodus by retargeting them with two of the most effective methods available – retargeted emails and retargeted ads.
Retargeting emails or abandoned cart emails, sent to users who’ve added items to their cart and then dropped off from the buying journey, are a great way to remind potential customers of what they’re missing and nudging them back into the sales funnel. These emails have the power to win back at least 15% of revenue that’s typically lost, thanks to cart abandonment.
Source: author’s inbox
Retargeted ads come in different avatars. Just as you remind a user about an “almost” purchase with retargeting emails, you can remind users of their last visit to your site in the form of display ads, as they browse other sites across the web. The different types of retargeting ads relevant to ecommerce include:
- Search retargeting – target users that searched for keywords related to your business, but may not have visited your website
- Site retargeting – target users that visited your site and were “cookied” on their way out
- Contextual retargeting – target users that visited sites or liked pages similar to yours, or those of competitors
Users’ familiarity with your products and brand means CTRs for retargeted ads are 10x those of regular display ads. Data shows that website visitors that are exposed to retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert than those who never saw the ads. That’s massive!
Not only is retargeting better cheaper than traditional display and search advertising in terms of CPA (cost per acquisition), it also assists in reinforcing your brand on your customers’ minds – a nice little bonus!
Source: Blue Mint Marketing
Remarketing ads offer best results on the Google Display Network and Facebook, thanks to their massive reach and extensive data on potential buyers.
No matter what industry you operate in, at the end of the day, your revenue growth is inextricably linked to growing the number of customers who shop with you. These new customers could come in from glitzy, high-budget, multimedia advertising campaigns or they could come through low-cost, high-hustle marketing that gives lasting results. I know which path I’d take. How about you?
Eight months after bringing in a $ 40 million Series D, Moogsoft‘s co-founder and chief executive officer Phil Tee confirmed to TechCrunch that the IT incident management startup had shed 18 percent of its workforce, or just over 30 employees.
The layoffs took place at the end of October; shortly after, Moogsoft announced two executive hires. Among the additions was Amer Deeba, who recently resigned from Qualys after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged him with insider trading.
Founded in 2012, San Francisco-based Moogsoft provides artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) to help teams work more efficiently and avoid outages. The startup has raised $ 90 million in equity funding to date, garnering a $ 220 million valuation with its latest round, according to PitchBook. It’s backed by Goldman Sachs, Wing Venture Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Dell’s corporate venture capital arm, Singtel Innov8, Northgate Capital and others. Wing VC founder and long-time Accel managing partner Peter Wagner and Redpoint partner John Walecka are among the investors currently sitting on Moogsoft’s board of directors.
Tee, the founder of two public companies (Micromuse and Riversoft) admitted the layoffs affected several teams across the company. The cuts, however, are not a sign of a struggling business, he said, but rather a right of passage for a startup seeking venture scale.
“We are a classic VC-backed startup that has sort of grown up,” Tee told TechCrunch earlier today. “In pretty much every successful company, there is a point in time where there’s an adjustment in strategy … Unfortunately, when you do that, it becomes a question of do we have the right people?”
Moogsoft doubled revenue last year and added 50 Fortune 200 companies as customers, according to a statement announcing its latest capital infusion. Tee said he’s “extremely chipper” about the road ahead and the company’s recent C-suite hires.
Moogsoft announced its latest executive hires on November 2, only one week after completing the round of layoffs, a common strategy for companies looking to cast a shadow on less-than-stellar news, like major staff cuts. Those hires include former Splunk vice president of finance Raman Kapur as Moogsoft’s first-ever chief financial officer and Amer Deeba, a long-time Qualys executive, as its chief operating officer.
Deeba spent the last 17 years at Qualys, a publicly traded provider of cloud-based security and compliance solutions. In August, he resigned amid allegations of insider trading. The SEC announced its charges against Deeba on August 30, claiming he had notified his two brothers of Qualys’ missed revenue targets before the company publicly announced its financial results in the spring of 2015.
“Deeba informed his two brothers about the miss and contacted his brothers’ brokerage firm to coordinate the sale of all of his brothers’ Qualys stock,” the SEC wrote in a statement. “When Qualys publicly announced its financial results, it reported that it had missed its previously-announced first-quarter revenue guidance and that it was revising its full-year 2015 revenue guidance downward. On the same day, Deeba sent a message to one of his brothers saying, ‘We announced the bad news today.’ The next day, Qualys’s stock price dropped 25%. Although Deeba made no profits from his conduct, Deeba’s brothers collectively avoided losses of $ 581,170 by selling their Qualys stock.”
Under the terms of Deeba’s settlement, he is ineligible to serve as an officer or director of any SEC-reporting company for two years and has been ordered to pay a $ 581,170 penalty.
Tee, for his part, said there was never any admission of guilt from Deeba and that he’s already had a positive impact on Moogsoft.
“[Deeba] is a tremendously impressive individual and he has the full confidence of myself and the board,” Tee said.
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