Beth Hauptle

Marketing and Communications for Arts and Nonprofit Organizations

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15 Things Every CEO, CMO, CTO, & CIO Must Do Before Hopping on Twitter

[shared via Google Reader from Alltop RSS]

So you have finally said “yes.” It feels almost like as big of a commitment as the day that special someone said “I do!”. You honestly never thought this day would come. You thought that crazy lil’ blue bird was a fad. Something that would fly away and you could move on with your day job. Nope, that lil’ blue bird is still live and kickin’! Crazy thing is you are starting to see the power of the blue bird and it’s friends. You are seeing people you never thought would jump on Twitter, love it. You are seeing other CEOs, CMOs and even your best friend nurturing relationships.

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Why Thank-You Emails Are the Untapped Gold Mine of Email Marketing

[shared via Google Reader from HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog]

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In our Introduction to Email Marketing ebook, we discussed that there are several different types of marketing emails you can send to your contacts. Depending on what your business goals and needs are, you could be sending newsletters, digests, dedicated sends, behavior-driven emails, lead nurturing emails, and more. All of these different options have their purposes, yet many marketers overlook a particular type of email that tends to get a lot of traction — the transactional email. That’s right: Transactional emails are one of the most effective types of communication to engage your prospects with.

Transactional emails are the messages you receive from ecommerce sites like Amazon.com that confirm your order and provide shipment information and other details. These messages get triggered by a specific action your contacts have taken and can also be used to inform contacts how to complete that particular action. For instance, if you were to sign up for a webinar, you’d complete a form and then receive a transactional email, which would provide you with the relevant login information in order to join.

transactional email

So what’s the marketer’s equivalent to transactional emails? Thank-you emails, or the automated messages triggered when visitors convert on your landing pages!

The Benefits of Thank-You Emails

Recipients anticipate transactional/thank-you emails because they help them complete an action. It’s the main reason why recipients open and click on them. And as a marketer, you can easily take advantage of this dynamic by including highly customized calls-to-action in your thank-you emails to leverage the fact that the lead is fresh and already actively engaged with your brand.

Thank-you emails are effective for two main reasons:
  1. They place your content directly in the contact’s inbox. So even if he or she clicks away from the thank-you page they’re redirected to after completing your conversion form, they can still search their inbox and find the information they need to redeem the offer, such as the ebook’s download link, webinar login information, etc.   
  2. People will often share your content by forwarding it via email, so thank-you emails give you yet another opportunity to extend the reach of your content to a brand new audience.
An example of a simple thank-you email:

simple thank you email

As you can see, the thank-you email above includes two links: The first one links to the thank-you page for the offer advertised on the landing page, where the user can access the ebook; and the second one links to a secondary conversion opportunity of higher commitment and value, enabling us to move the lead further along in the sales cycle.

Thank-You Emails Twice as Engaging as General Marketing Emails

While we can easily theorize that thank-you emails would be beneficial to a company’s marketing mix, we at HubSpot wanted to analyze just how engaging they are in practice. To understand how effective thank-you emails are compared to other email sends, we decided to compare them to another type of email we commonly send: dedicated marketing emails, sent on an one-off basis.

Using HubSpot’s Email tool we dug into the open and clickthrough rates (CTR) of our thank-you emails. We took a look at 21 of our existing thank-you emails and found that, on average, they generated a 42% open rate and a 14% CTR.

For comparison, we then looked at the generic marketing emails we’ve sent to one group of our buyer personas. The sample used here was larger — 131 emails — which, on average, generated a 12% open rate and a 6% CTR. In other words, the simple, automated kickback thank-you emails generated twice the engagement of one-off, dedicated marketing emails. What’s even better — they tend to take half the time to create!

TY emails VS one off sends

Marketing Takeaways

Now that we’ve covered some of the fundamentals of thank-you emails and their effectiveness, here are some marketing tips you should start applying to your marketing today.

1) Use Simple Thank-You Emails

Starting with the obvious, if you aren’t yet using kickback thank-you emails that get triggered after prospects convert on your landing pages, start implementing them sooner rather than later. To take this a step further, you can even make these emails the first part of a more complex lead nurturing workflow so you can control what other communication that contact receives, continuing to nurture them over time and move them through your sales and marketing funnel. (Note: For HubSpot customers, these can both easily be set up using HubSpot’s Landing Pages and Workflows tools.)

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2) Optimize Your Thank-You Emails

This part is key. Make sure you’re also optimizing your kickback emails to encourage secondary conversions. In other words, include calls-to-action (CTAs) for high-value marketing offers that will move your leads further along in the sales cycle, such as a consultation with your sales team or a free trial of your product.

If you’re already adding secondary calls-to-action to your thank-you emails (well done!), take your skills to the next level by implementing Smart CTAs that adapt to your individual email recipients. Smart CTAs are dynamic CTAs that automatically change based on the person viewing them, creating much more targeted, segmented, and effective email marketing. To learn more about how to implement Smart CTAs, check out our ultimate guide to using dynamic, personalized CTAs.

3) Make Your Thank-You Emails Social Media-Friendly

As we already mentioned, one of the key benefits of emails is that they get forwarded and shared, helping your content reach a brand new audience. Encourage this sharing of your emails by making it extremely easy for recipients to share your email content with their networks. Include social media sharing buttons/links and language that invites your contacts to forward the message to others.

Have you been using thank-you emails in your marketing? What has your experience been with this type of communication?

Image Credit: Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix)

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The Steps You Need to Define the Stages of Your Sales & Marketing Funnel

[shared via Google Reader from HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog]

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By now, most marketers understand the importance of mending the traditional rift between sales and marketing. The mistrust and miscommunication that’s so often found between the two teams can act like an anchor on your company’s growth rate. In fact, organizations with good alignment between sales and marketing teams achieved 20% annual revenue growth in 2010, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group. By contrast, companies with poor alignment saw revenues decline by 4%.

Often, one of the biggest blockers for sales and marketing alignment is the very different views each team has of the funnel. For example, they might disagree about the number of stages a lead passes through before becoming a customer. Furthermore, they often use different terminology to describe those stages. But in order to adopt an effective SMarketing (get it?) strategy, sales and marketing must have a unified picture of the funnel and standard definitions of each stage in the process. For example, HubSpot’s SMarketing team uses the following funnel stages:


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But that’s just our funnel … what does yours look like? And how exactly can you make sure both teams are aligned in their definition of the funnel? Follow these steps to help define the stages of your funnel that both Sales and Marketing can agree upon and collaborate around.

Step 1: Understand Lead Quality

Focus on the definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). This is the crucial handoff point between marketing and sales, so it’s essential that the teams agree on the terminology. Every company’s definition of an MQL will vary, but it should reflect a combination of traits and actions that indicate a lead is both a good fit for your company and ready to talk to a salesperson. Here’s one way to examine your funnel to assess lead quality and determine whether a lead is ready for sales follow-up:

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Aspects of Lead Qualification

Is the lead a good fit?

Your company might target financial services companies with 5,000 or more employees, or small service businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Or, you may be only interested in manufacturing companies of a certain size. Within those categories, you also might identify individual lead profiles, such as title or job description and role in the decision-making process — e.g., economic buyer, end user, influencer. How closely a lead aligns with your ideal customer profile will determine whether and when you hand it over to the sales team.

Is the lead interested?

A lead’s activity can reveal how close they are to a buying decision. For example, if a lead has only visited your website once, or has just begun following you on Twitter, they may be aware of your company but aren’t particularly engaged yet. A lead that requests a demo or views pricing information is showing a lot more interest.

Where a lead falls within the four quadrants of this matrix dictates the next step your marketing or sales team should take. For example:

  • Good Fit & Interested: Leads in the upper right quadrant are a good fit for your company and are highly engaged with your marketing. These are hot leads that require immediate follow-up from your sales team — usually in fewer than 24 hours.
  • Good Fit But Less Interested: Leads in the upper left quadrant are a good fit for your company but don’t show a lot of interest yet. Perhaps they’ve only signed up for an email newsletter or downloaded one piece of educational content. These are leads that the marketing team needs to nurture.
  • Lots of Interest, But Not a Good Fit: Leads in the lower right don’t necessarily fit your ideal customer profile, but are highly engaged with your brand. They might have subscribed to your blog and email newsletter, downloaded your ebooks, and attended your webinars. It’s worth having a sales rep do a low-cost follow-up with these fans to see if there’s an easy sale to make from a non-traditional customer. Sometimes leads that don’t seem like a fit have a good reason to buy your product. They can also turn into great evangelists for your products or services, thus providing you with indirect support as non-customers. That’s why you can’t automate the entire sales and marketing process. At some point, a good marketer or sales rep can spot an opportunity that your systems might overlook.
  • Little Interest & No Fit: Leads in the lower left quadrant aren’t a good fit for your company and haven’t shown much interest in your marketing content. They’re definitely not worth a sales rep’s time. Don’t be afraid to take them out of your communication stream.

Step 2: Develop Your Definition of an MQL

Using this matrix as your guide, develop an MQL definition based on the combination of fit and interest that’s right for your company. Some marketers may focus more on fit because they have a tightly defined market; other marketers may have a broad customer base and focus more on interest level. That decision depends on your business model.

MQL definitions in those two cases might look like this:

  1. A Focus on Fit: A contact with XYZ title or role who has filled out a landing page form and works at a financial services company in the U.S. with more than 5,000 employees.
  2. A Focus on Interest Level: A contact with the ABC title or role who has requested a product demonstration from a sales rep and works at any U.S.-based company.

Whichever approach you chose, base your definitions on data — not on gut instinct. Even experienced marketers and salespeople can be way off base in their assumptions about what makes a good lead.

Step 3: Implement Lead Scoring

Using a lead scoring or lead grading program that relies on data from your closed-loop analysis can help you determine the importance of different activities. Here is an example of what lead scoring can look like for you:

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Here’s how to implement a lead scoring system:

Examine Behavioral History

Examine the activity history of recent customers and analyze how many actions they took before becoming a customer — i.e., the number of page views or number of conversions, such as downloading a report or registering for a webinar, etc.

Identify Patterns

Look for patters that indicate a lead’s likelihood of closing. For example, if a lead that downloads ten pieces of content from your website or visits your site more than 15 times in one month, she is more likely to close. Consider incorporating frequency measures into your MQL definition.

List Activities

Also, list all the activities that a lead can take before becoming a customer, and analyze the close rate for each one. For example, to determine the close rate for a webinar, look at all customers that had watched a webinar, then divide that number by the total number of leads that originally registered for the webinar. That gives you the close rate for leads from that
particular event.

Calculate Average Close Rates

Using the close rates for individual actions, calculate the average close rate for all your marketing activities. Then look for actions that have a significantly higher close rate. For example, if your average close rate is around 1%, you might find a handful of actions that
have a 3%-5% close rate. Add these top-closing events to your definition of an MQL. Any lead that engages in at least one of these activities, and is a good fit for your company, would be considered an MQL. Use those close rates to decide what score to give different activities in your lead scoring or lead grading system.

Step 4: Optimize the Stages of Your Sales Funnel

Now that you’ve identified the different stages of your sales funnel, it’s important to optimize each of those stages on an ongoing basis. And that means continual analysis of key metrics at each stage of the funnel, such as:

  • Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate
  • Lead-to-MQL Conversion Rate
  • % Sales Accepted Leads
  • Lead Work Rates
  • MQL-to-Opportunity Conversion Rate
  • Opportunity-to-Customer Conversion Rate
  • Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate
  • Sales Cycle Length
  • Average Cost Per Sale

You should be looking at these metrics all the time so you can assess whether you’re slipping in any one area … because you don’t want to suffer a blip in your funnel. If your funnel develops a clog or hole somewhere along the way — and it will, it’s only natural — you need to be able to identify it and fix it to keep your sales and marketing machine efficient. And if you are working with multiple different types of leads, these metrics should be considered for each segment of lead, too, so you know if some segments are more valuable to your business than others (or, even better, if some segments have more potential than you once realized)!

This article is an excerpt from our ebook, The Complete Guide to Unifying Your Sales & Marketing Efforts. To learn more about everything from creating a service-level agreement to holding effective SMarketing meetings for better sales and marketing alignment, download the ebook here.

Image credit: danxoneil

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Is Experiential Marketing the Future of Social Media?

[shared via Google Reader from Alltop RSS]

For years marketers have been steadily focused on creating immersive online campaigns that make the most of opportunities for engagement. As the concept of the “share” continues to rise in importance (vs. a click or a Like, for example), inspiring audiences has emerged as a critical objective for brands. Make no mistake; this isn’t inspiration […]

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5 Steps to Super Charge Your Facebook Fan Engagement Today

[shared via Google Reader from Social Media Today - The world’s best thinkers on social media]

Last week I was having a conversation with someone regarding his current social media content for his business. On the surface there was nothing “wrong” with the manner in which he was engaging with his community - but (on the flip side) there wasn’t much right about it. Off the top of my head I offered some insights that I’ve gleaned from the practical experience of managing Facebook pages for large brands like Littlemissmatched, and from information published in a white paper by former company Buddy Media. Now I’m going to share them with you. Enjoy.image

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Morning Advantage: And You Think You Have Too Many Meetings

[shared via Google Reader from HBR.org]

Last week, Procter & Gamble’s board voiced confidence in embattled CEO Robert McDonald. But should we have confidence in the board itself? Bloomberg’s Jeff Green recently took a close look at P&G’s directors, half of whom are acting CEOs of other companies. These leaders aren’t just running any old businesses: they’re giants like Hewlett-Packard and Boeing, companies undergoing their own challenges.

The CEO-heavy board is an anomaly, Green writes, pointing to research showing a dramatic change in the makeup of corporate boards since 2000. And having a heavy dose of active business leaders at the helm could backfire, he adds, because of the sheer amount of time and energy the P&G turnaround requires. While the company’s directors had an impressive 97% meeting attendance rate as of September, some experts Green interviewed say that board members should be more diversely-credentialed.

PAGING PEGGY OLSON

What the Ad Business Needs Are Writers (USA Today)

“Johnny who can’t write has gone into advertising,” laments writer Michael Wolff. In a dirge for a forgotten craft, Wolff argues that, while video and data now rule the ad roost, these tools haven’t made business any easier. On the contrary: “It has gotten harder and harder to build brand, move merchandise, convey a message, leave a lasting impression” without meaningful and engaging copy. Wolff suggests we take a cue from Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs: “Pictures are easy. Words are hard.”

I CAN HAS PRODUCTIVITY GAIN?

Want to Increase Your Output? Look at This Adorable Kitten (Washington Post)

Go ahead, email your colleagues another adorable photo of tiny Mewskers von Fluffins. Researchers at Hiroshima University found that students who were shown images of fuzzy baby animals were more productive than those who viewed adult animals or delicious foodstuffs. Why? One theory is that viewing cute things makes us more attentive (bringing out our nurturing instincts), and that may transfer into greater focus when we return to the task at hand.

BONUS BITS:

Hey, I Know You…

Branded For Life (Bloomberg Businessweek)
How the Football Field Was Designed, from Hash Marks to Goal Posts (Smithsonian Magazine)
"The. Polls. Have. Stopped. Making. Any. Sense." (New York Magazine)

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The ‘Lost’ Steve Jobs Speech and Two Other Stories You Need to Know

[shared via Google Reader from Mashable!]


Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world. Today, we’re looking at three particularly interesting stories.

Listen to the ‘Lost’ Steve Jobs Speech in Its Entirety

In 1983, Steve Jobs gave a speech at the International Design Conference in Aspen. The audio recording of this event surfaced in June, but it was missing an interesting Q&A session that took place after the speech.

Blogger Marcel Brown managed to obtain the entire recording, and posted it to his site on Tuesday. In it, Jobs gives some fascinating observations about the future of computing. You can listen to it here.…
Continue reading…

More About: features, first to know series, mashable, steve jobs

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14 Brilliant Tumblrs for Original Art and Illustration

[shared via Google Reader from Mashable!]


1. Urban Myth
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Portuguese graphic designer Luís Alves creates beautiful composite images of iconic musicians. Look closely for intricate details — a young Michael Jackson rises from the Apollo Theater, where he won the Amateur Night talent show in 1967.

Click here to view this gallery.

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imageLet’s face it. Tumblr isn’t always the best place to find original content. After 10,000 reblogs, it’s hard to know who first drew that cat on a unicycle.

But if you know where to look, the blogging network can be a great source of inspiring illustrations, sketches, paintings and graphics.

SEE ALSO: 10 Must-Follow Tumblrs for Science Lovers

If you’re an artist or simply an art lover, you’d do well to follow these 14 excellent blogs which feature original work. Got some other favorites in your feed? Share them in the comments.

More About: Social Media, art, features, tumblr

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How to Give Your Audience the 5-Star Treatment With Exclusive Offers

[shared via Google Reader from HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog]

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Limited time offer! For Platinum members only! Upgrade for VIP benefits! First 100 sign-ups get a free flamingo!

That kind of marketing lingo seems kind of tired, doesn’t it?

Well, regardless of how it may seem, there appears to be some evidence that the “exclusivity” approach is still alive and well. Let’s start by diving into learning about a new company that has just sprung up, taking an interesting spin on the exclusivity concept.

Join the 11K Club and you’ll get … something. I can’t tell you what, but it’s DEFINITELY something.

The 11K Club is the most recent use case for leveraging exclusivity in marketing — it follows more well-known sites like Google+, Gilt Groupe, and RueLaLa, which operate as invite-only sites now, or have in the past. The company’s premise is a bit different though: there are 11,000 spots available in their exclusive club, but you can’t know what the club is even for when you’re signing up. You have to want to be a part of it just … because. You can send in your application for inclusion in the club, and you might get to be a part of it when it opens.

Here, take a look at its homepage (we’ve called out some of the particularly interesting highlights in orange):

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That last callout shows that they’ve already received more applications to be a part of the club — 13,255 — than there are seats available. According to an article on Mashable, the site’s co-founder Steve Whyley says he’s “trying to see if people will sign up to a club that they know nothing about purely because it’s exclusive and because they fear they’ll miss out. What 11K Club is proving, at least in our minds, is that it almost doesn’t matter what your site does, how it looks, what the homepage says.”

Well, I think in this case the element of curiosity can’t be outweighed (as the Eleanor Roosevelt quote on their homepage supports). I mean, I signed up for that reason, and said as much in the ‘Reason for Joining’ field. But Whyley’s still on to something here. In fact, Whyley apparently came up with the idea for the site after running a bookmarking site on which he restricted sign-ups — not because he thought it would tap into that feeling of exclusivity, but purely to manage some spam issues he was battling. The result? A dramatic spike in sign-ups, which Whyley attributed to the fact that “people wanted to sign up because they couldn’t sign up — they thought it was exclusive (which it wasn’t) and therefore wanted to join.”

So it seems that leveraging exclusivity in marketing is alive and well, even if those tired sayings in the beginning of this post make it seem a little passé. So the question is … how can you jump on the bandwagon? Well, you don’t have to change your business model to mirror the 11K Club; you can simply incorporate exclusivity into your content across different marketing channels. And to get you started, this post will outline some opportunities to leverage that exclusive feelin. Take a look!

How to Leverage the Feeling of Exclusivity in Your Marketing

1) Exclusive Fan/Follower Deals

One of the most common ways brands leverage exclusivity in their marketing is by giving their social media fans and followers exclusive access to deals … just for being part of their networks. Data shows it’s a good use of your social presence, too — according to an Econsultancy study, the most common reason consumers cite for following brands on Facebook is to receive special offers (70%). Now, you have to be careful the way you structure this. It’s against Facebook’s rules to make receiving an offer a condition of ‘Liking’ a page, for example. But there’s nothing wrong with, say, giving your fans and followers a network-specific coupon code so they can save a few bucks!

2) Access to Up-to-the-Minute Information

Watch any local news commercial and you’ll see them leveraging this technique — you have to watch their network if you want to be part of the group that will “hear it first!”

This is to say that there’s more to marketing than just tweeting out coupon codes. In an age where content is king, giving your social media followers exclusive access to information holds a lot of power. I mean, if you’re the one in your industry who’s known for launching news first, alerting people to deals on other sites — any information that your network would want to know — you won’t have a hard time gaining a large and loyal following. Here, take a look at how The Boss does it on his Facebook page, ensuring his followers hear about things they’d want to know immediately.

exclusive info

You could turn this whole idea of information-as-an-asset into a lead generation opportunity, too, by promoting your marketing offers as “form free” for just your social media followers. How would that generate leads, you ask? Because you have another offer (this time with a form) on your thank-you page, of course!

3) Forward-to-a-Friend Email Deals

Did you know that emails with deals are the most frequently shared type of email?

It’s true. Emails with discounts and promotions are the most shared (at 34.7%), coming in ahead of emails designed explicitly for sharing, which came in at 19.4%, according to eMarketer.

Why do you think that is? It might have something to do with people wanting to feel like they’re “in the know.” Particularly with their friends, family, and colleagues. In this instance, the email forwarder feels exclusive because they’re letting their networks in on a deal that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise if they weren’t so well connected. How very VIP of them. And you know what? Whoever receives the email feels part of the exclusive club, too. That brand new lead or customer is going to come to you not only as a referral — so they have a happy customer singing your praises already — but also as one who feels really special for getting to work with your company!

4) Product Buy-in and Development

If you’re selling a product, you have an opportunity to make your audience feel like part of an exclusive bunch every time you start developing new features or product lines — and the side effects show in customer retention, upselling, and cross-selling. Not a bad trade-off, right?

For example, you might do something as simple as give current customers sneak peeks into product development — you could do this via email, or take a cue from tip #2 and use your social networks. But you might want to take it a step further and invite certain segments of your customer base to actually beta those new products or features while they’re in development. That way you not only get great feedback during development, but you also start the word-of-mouth marketing process before the launch even begins! And I’m pretty sure the people who helped you develop the product are going to advocate pretty strongly for it once it’s released, since they now feel some ownership over its final outcome.

5) Partnerships With Relevant Businesses

What does partnering with other businesses have to do with exclusivity? It gives your current customers a reason not to leave you. Here, let me demonstrate with an example. Take a look at a Facebook update GymIt recently posted:

partner deals

So it turns out GymIt partnered with pizza chain Naked Pizza to give pizza discounts exclusively to GymIt members. That’s a pretty cool little perk for being a GymIt member. When your business takes the initiative to partner with other businesses relevant to your audience’s interests, it makes you more valuable to your customers. I mean, if I leave GymIt, will the Boston Sports Club give me pizza deals?!

That’s the kind of train of thought partnerships of this nature help to get in people’s heads. If your brand consistently delivers value through exclusive partnerships like this, you’ll earn life-long customers that recognize you actually care about making them happy by delivering valuable “bonuses” that they couldn’t get from a competitor.

6) Grandfather Customers Into New Pricing Structures

This is something your sales team can definitely leverage. If you’re going to launch a pricing change, the first thing to do is grandfather current customers into it at their old rate. I mean, they joined the club in the beginning, so they should be rewarded for it.

But there’s more “club joining” to be had with a pricing change. You could turn this into a creative exclusive marketing campaign by inviting your customers to invite their friends, family, or colleagues to become a customer at your old rate. You know, get it while the gettin’s good. This calls on the feeling of exclusivity that comes from referrals that we talked about in tip #3. You could also give your sales team the green light to invite leads that are on the fence about purchasing to come on at the old rate, helping close some deals that might otherwise be lost (or at the very least be pushed off for weeks or months into the future).

7) Build a Brand Around Exclusivity

You could execute marketing campaigns that focus on the feeling of exclusivity … or you just build a brand around the concept. There are some brands that do an excellent job of making their leads and customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club in every piece of content they release. UrbanDaddy is a prime example of a company that’s built its brand around exclusivity — just take a look at this email, for example:


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Did you read that copy? Saying things like “Everyone else: Impossible” and “Also per usual: you’ve got a Perk that gets you all of ‘em for less than everyone else” helps to constantly reinforce the message with subscribers that their membership with UrbanDaddy secures them insider status. And why would you ever leave a community that gives you unfettered access to the VIP treatment?

What other ways do you leverage the feeling of exclusivity to make your marketing more effective?

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Human Behavior On Social Media [Infographic]

[shared via Google Reader from Alltop RSS]

Many ask that has social media changed us. And many further press on the issue of social media making us more angry and short tempered in nature  But is it true? Pew Internet recently analyzed the social-emotional aspect of social networking to see how humans actually interact, and reached a very different conclusion than we …

The post Human Behavior On Social Media [Infographic] appeared first on The Technology Cafe.

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An Introduction to the New Power of Social Media Lead Management

[shared via Google Reader from HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog]

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Social media was once a shiny new toy. It quickly infiltrated the PR and B2C marketing space. But as more social networks began to appear, and more people began to adopt them, they became an uncontested space for all types of companies to be present in. At first, many businesses hardly knew what to do on social media — just that they needed to be using it.

That has all changed.

According to SEOmoz’s 2012 annual industry survey, 44% of marketers self-professed either “advanced” or “expert” level social media ability. It comes as no surprise that most marketers now understand the business value of social media. The question is, how do you take social to the next level? By integrating social media into the rest of your marketing database! Let me explain.

Social Media Followers Should Be a Part of Your Marketing Database

Your marketing database is the key to incorporating social media information into the rest of your marketing efforts and overall strategy. As a marketer, your strongest asset is your database of contacts: email and blog subscribers, leads, customers, and evangelists. It’s the entire spectrum of your brand’s stakeholders. It’s the overall community of people who care about you in some form, regardless of how miniscule or extensive that care is. Your marketing database is the key component of your marketing  — it’s the people you contact for every aspect of business. Interviewing fans. Converting leads. Contacting customers. Everything. And you know who has become an essential part of this list? Your social media followers.

marketing database social media

By using one unified marketing database, you can add a layer of social media insights to your existing contacts, thus gaining valuable information to target messages, nurture leads, and attract new contacts to your business. Now how do you actually do this?

Think of Your Social Media Database Like Your Email Database

Your email database consists of contacts who have subscribed to receive email communication from you. They have opted in to receive your marketing resources, announcements and promotions, and (if your email list is healthy) should be interacting with your content by opening, clicking, and forwarding these emails.

Your social media database works in a similar fashion. It consists of followers and fans who want to engage with your brand online. They’re retweeting, resharing, and repinning your posts. Clearly, they have an interest in the things that you are saying and the product(s)/service(s) you have to offer.

In this context, the interests and actions of your email recipients and social followers overlap. The act of opting in to receive email updates from a company is very similar to, for instance, hitting the ‘Like’ button on a Facebook Page.

email vs social database

The future of social media and the key to expanding the size of your marketing database is contingent upon the growth of your social media database. The more followers you attract, the larger your pool of people to turn into strong advocates of your brand. And boy does this open a whole new bucket of opportunities for your marketing as a whole!

Example Use Cases of This New Social Future

1) Share the Right Content With the Right People

The problem with followers in social media is that you cannot measure the extent to which these fans are actually engaging with your brand. You don’t know the specific people interacting with your updates. Allocate a few hours weekly to discovering these people. Look at who is retweeting and commenting on your content, and cross-reference that with your contacts database. HubSpot allows you to do this automatically. Our new Social Contacts tool allows you to click on any social message you’ve sent and see exactly who clicked and/or shared it. (You can even dig deeper and explore the number of leads and customers that resulted from that effort.)

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Now, instead of sending mass email blasts, you can directly contact and nurture those leads who are actually interacting with your brand. And by interacting with them, you’re using their social media following to help extend your brand to a new audience. This constant, positive, and targeted sharing of information will ultimately help grow your pool of evangelists, which will ultimately help you in other areas of your marketing.

2) Send Product- or Service-Oriented Emails

When it comes to email marketing, your boss most likely wants you to send communication about your product or service. Meanwhile, as a marketer, you likely want to email broader lead generation content in order to boost engagement. Fear not — there is balance between the two, and it comes down to segmentation. When you monitor the people who engage with your social media content, separate them into groups and allow those interested in your product/service to receive more communication about your special deals. Of course, make sure these users have already opted in to receive email communication from your company.

One seamless way to do this is by using the HubSpot-HootSuite integration app. You can use the app to see which contacts from your database are talking on social media, and then send them customized email communications after seeing that they’re further down the marketing funnel.

3) Use Social Media Lead Intelligence in Sales Calls

Marketers are increasingly invested in social media: According to Social Media Examiner’s 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 59% of marketers report spending six hours or more on it weekly. But they’re still struggling to find a reliable way to use social to boost sales. It’s simple: use social media information to personalize calls. Examine the difference between these two phone calls:

"Hi Anum, I noticed you work in HubSpot’s marketing department and thought you might be interested in learning about how our product that helps you do better marketing. When is a good time to chat?"

vs.

"Hi Anum, Thanks for sharing our latest ebook on Twitter! We really appreciate the support. Did you enjoy the read? Do you have any questions still lingering after checking out our content, and if so, could I help clarify or provide further assistance?"

The first call sounds like an average lukewarm call: when the sales rep has some information about the prospect they are calling, but not enough to start a meaningful conversation. The second call scripted in the role play is much more personalized and helpful. It shows that the salesperson isn’t just calling out of the blue. There is a clear reason, backed up by a clear action, and followed up with a clear benefit to the lead. Such is the power of social media intelligence in the sales process!

social media sales cycle

Now that you’ve learned why social following is critical in building up your marketing database and have seen some powerful examples of using social lead intelligence to follow up with leads in the sales process, it’s time to embrace the next generation of social media marketing. The social media sphere is constantly changing, and by figuring out how to effectively use social media and being on the front edge of how these channels will be used, you’ll find success on social channels before your competitors get around to finally investing time.

The future of social media is here … are you ready for it?

This has been an adapted excerpt from our new ebook, The Future of Social Media Lead Management. To learn more about how to segment and nurture your social media followers, download the complete, free ebook here!

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In Search of the Ideal Groupon Discount

[shared via Google Reader from HBR.org]

When the deal sites Groupon and Living Social launched a few years ago, I was astonished by the 50% discounts I found promoted for some of my favorite restaurants, stores, and services. While I bought some of these deals, I regret not buying more.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that many of the products and services being offered on deal sites aren’t as attractive to me: I keep seeing the same offers for yoga classes, massages, 30 day gym memberships, and unfamiliar restaurants. Don’t get me wrong: these may be good deals for some people, they’re just not the spectacular deals I saw when the sites first launched. As a result, I’m less vigilant about reading the daily missives I receive from deal sites, and I’m purchasing fewer of their offers.

It’s not just me who is souring on deal sites — others are too. Once anointed the "fastest growing company ever," Groupon’s Wall Street sizzle has faded. In less than a year of being a public company, Groupon’s stock price is down over 80% from its high.

So what happened? Some analysts cite “customer fatigue” — they claim consumers are tiring of 50% off deals. I disagree — saving big money rarely gets old. Instead, I believe the demise of deal sites is due to seller fatigue. Here’s why. Many sellers believe in “try it, you’ll like it” discounts: lower prices to draw in new customers who will return to pay regular prices. It’s this carrot of attracting future full paying customers that deal sites dangle to businesses. The problem, sellers are finding, is that customers using 50% off coupons aren’t keeping their end of the hoped-for bargain.

Sure, I believe in “try it, you’ll like it” discounts. Even if a product provides a demonstrably better value compared to its rivals, customers can be sedentary. A time sensitive (good until a set date) discount — which to consumers feels like cash in the pocket — can be the Pavlovian stimulus that inspires change and product trial. So if this is true, why not offer a big discount? More customers will trial the product which will lead to more full price conversions, right? Not necessarily.

Offering too high of a “try it” discount — say, 50% — can backfire on sellers. Sure, 50% is eye catching, but it also has severe side effects. First, a high discount can appear desperate — this can cause customers to question the long run value of the advertised product or service. Next, by offering a 50% discount, it’s more challenging to convince customers to return to pay full price. If you end up liking a product that you purchased for 50% off, wouldn’t it be psychologically challenging to pay double (full price) the next time you buy it? Finally, and most importantly, 50% off discounts attract the wrong customers, who I call uber-deal hunters. These deal-maximizers come simply for the big discount with little intention of becoming full price patrons.

The bottom line: too high of a “try it, you’ll like it” discount attracts the wrong customers as well as inhibits future full price purchases from potential repeat customers. This is a lose-lose proposition!

So what’s the right “try it, you’ll like it” discount for your product or service? I’ve found that 15 - 20% is appropriate. This more moderate discount provides the subtle push necessary to lead interested customers to trial, isn’t drastic enough to build psychological barriers that inhibit future full price purchases, doesn’t appear desperate, and is less likely to attract uber-deal hunters.

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