Category Archives: Strategy

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The Three Elements of an Effective Total Online Presence

The Three Elements of an Effective Total Online Presence written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Total Online Presence

Business owners today understand that being visible online is important. But what does having an online presence really mean? It’s a lot bigger than just having a website and a Facebook page. And when you look at the statistics on how consumers behave online, it’s easy to understand why. Did you know that:

  • 77 percent of searches on mobile devices are followed up by an action within an hour;
  • 87 percent of potential customers won’t consider a business with low reviews/ratings;
  • 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information on social media sites; and
  • 82 percent of small business owners claim their main source of new business is still referrals?

All of these statistics demonstrate the importance of having a total online presence that is fully integrated. That means that the total online presence shouldn’t supplant everything else you’re already doing—it needs to support it.

In order to make the most of the way that consumers interact with brands online, there are three fundamental elements of strategy for your online presence: website, SEO, and content. These are bigger than just tactics, they’re strategic components; as such, they need to be blended together in an effective and efficient way.

Below, we’ll take a look at the three elements of your total online presence, and how to get them working in tandem to bring you the greatest results.

Creating an Effective Website

The way that both search engines and people search has changed how websites need to work today. Your homepage isn’t just a placeholder and index for all of your links. It’s now the start of a journey—it’s where you build the know, like, trust, and try elements of your relationship with customers.

The first thing your homepage must do is demonstrate how you solve the biggest problem your prospects are facing. No one comes to a website looking for a product or service; they come looking for a solution to their problem. If you can prove that you understand their issue, then you can begin to talk about how you solve it (with your products and services).

The content on your homepage needs to back up your claims. Video is becoming an increasingly important element in building trust. A video featuring your team talking about your deep understanding of the problems your prospects face builds trust. Not only do they feel like you really know what you’re talking about, but the simple act of seeing your face and hearing your voice builds a personal connection that makes the trust grow even faster.

You also want to provide an evaluation or checklist in order to give prospects a way to try your approach. When they can see the way you work to solve their problem, they gain confidence in your ability to get the job done.

Beyond those basic content elements, your website also needs to address two major technical hurdles in order to be competitive today. First, it must work on a mobile device. In 2018, Google announced that they’d be using mobile websites, rather than desktop websites, as their main basis for indexing and ranking. This means that if you don’t have a mobile site (or you have one that isn’t optimized for mobile), you’re lagging behind your competitors and falling in Google search rankings. Second, security and privacy are becoming bigger and bigger concerns for consumers. After years of watching some of the giants like Facebook and Target stumble with online security, consumers are looking for small businesses who work hard to guard their personal information. This means ensuring that you have an HTTPS site and that you are encrypting any data you collect from visitors.

Search Engine Optimization

It’s Google’s world, we’re just living in it. Whether you like it or not, Google is the biggest player in the online game, and so a small business owner’s chief concern needs to be optimizing for Google. But at the same time, you can’t lose sight of your customers and optimizing for their human needs.

The first thing that any small business owner should do to ensure they’re ranking well with Google is take a deeper look at Google My Business. I’ve talked before on the podcast about the importance of this tool, but Google continues to build out this platform and further integrate it with other tools. In fact, I suspect that in 2019 it may become Google’s very own social platform, allowing small business owners to interact with their customers. But for now, at the very least, it’s the number one way in which small businesses are being found by people looking for local solutions.

This means you should be taking your Google My Business presence seriously. If you haven’t done so already, claim your business and make sure there are no duplicate entries. Ensure the category of your business is specific, and that the name, address, and phone number all sync up with what you have on your website. Add photos and videos, posts, and descriptions to your profile. You can even use Google My Business to connect directly with customers and prospects through text messaging.

You also want to be sure that your website is giving you the best shot at ranking locally. Fill your pages with local data, content, and resources. And beyond what is actually on your website for prospects and customers to find, you need to be paying attention to the metadata behind the scenes. Make sure your titles and descriptions are helping you rank for those search terms that matter most to your prospects.

Reviews are the final piece of the SEO puzzle. They have become a significant factor in how you rank. Businesses with few reviews or poor reviews will fall behind those with lots of good reviews. And as with all of the other elements of SEO, while reviews matter for rankings, they also matter for the people reading them. Having reviews—and good ones at that—will make prospects far more likely to give your business a try.

Content Beyond Blogging

Today, it’s pretty common for “content” to be used interchangeably with “blog posts.” But in reality, content is much bigger than that. Content drives every channel. Whether it’s advertising, email marketing, social media, community events, videos, referral offers, or text messaging, these are all forms of content (or at the very least channels where content is needed).

When you’re developing content, you need to be catering to every stage of the customer journey. A great way to do this is through the creation of hub pages. These pages allow you to structure your content around specific topics. When you centralize all of your knowledge on a given topic within a hub page, that allows the content to be shared more easily and to draw attention in ranking.

Beyond just creating a centralized page for relevant content, you want to be sure you’re marrying content upgrades to those hub pages. If you have a page that ranks, attach a free checklist or eBook so that you can begin using all of that content to capture leads.

I’ve Got My Strategic Elements—Now What?

As you can see, these three main elements of your total online presence all go hand in hand. This means that you also need to get your website, SEO strategy, and content working together to generate and capture leads, so that you can begin the process of nurturing them and converting them to customers.

Building an effective strategy is about addressing the needs of your prospects and customers all along their journey. Whether they’re in the earliest stages of the marketing hourglass, and are just coming to know and like your business, or they’re a repeat customer about to make a referral to a friend.

Every element of your strategy needs to be focused towards moving people along the hourglass, and this goes beyond just website, SEO, and content. Things like advertising, outreach, pay per click, and reviews all must work together to accomplish this task.

Fortunately, if you’re using these three major strategic elements as your guide, you’re able to structure the other tactics around those larger forces to create a marketing system that best serves the needs of your business and your customers.

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The Top Four Marketing Trends for 2019

The Top Four Marketing Trends for 2019 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on 2019 Marketing Trends

‘Tis the season for end of year lists and content that’s looking to trends in the New Year. Rather than run through all of the ins and outs of what I see coming up on the marketing horizon, I’ve decided to focus on what I see as the four most important marketing trends for 2019.

If you’re a small business owner or a marketing consultant who works with small business teams, these are the trends you can’t afford to ignore.

1. Get Up to Speed on Google My Business

Google has been trying to crack the social media and small business ad platform code for a while. Some attempts, like Google Plus, have not worked, but it seems like they may have finally found their sweet spot with Google My Business. This is a tool where local businesses can advertise and consumers can find nearby businesses on mobile devices.

Over the past few months, Google has been more and more focused on the Google My Business platform. It’s become more feature-rich and useful for business owners, and I think it’s likely that it will become a sort of social CRM tool in the near future.

Google My Business

Photo courtesy of Google

What do I mean by that? In addition to the features like leaving reviews, finding directions, and making suggestions to edit the page, Google has recently added a feature where people can follow a Google My Business page. Not only that, Google’s recently introduced an app just for their Google My Business product.

These changes lead me to believe that they’re aiming to make Google My Business like a social network for businesses. This serves local business owners well. When someone starts to follow your company on Google My Business, that’s obviously a strong indicator that they’re interested in what you have to offer. This provides yet another channel for you to identify hot leads and connect with your fans.

If you’re running marketing efforts for a small business, then you should be paying close attention to all of these developments and additions to the platform and keeping pace with them accordingly.

Eventually, I anticipate that a business’s Google My Business platform will become a ranking factor in Google searches. The more followers you have on your page, the higher you’ll rank in search results. The quality of your business’s online assets and reviews are already ranking factors, so it’s not a leap to think that Google My Business will affect ranking in the future.

2. Focus on Retention

There’s an awful lot of work that goes into generating leads. It’s time, it’s money, it’s effort. This means that retaining leads is really where a business’s bread and butter lies. Research has shown time and again that it’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than to go out and find a new one.

So what does that mean for your marketing efforts? It means you need to focus on your basic online presence. Existing customers will only stick around if their experience in interacting with you is one that builds trust. When you have a shoddy online presence that’s inconsistent or has big gaps in information, you make your customers doubt you. Have you ever thought twice about using a particular service provider because they had a bare bones website or they weren’t anywhere to be found on Yelp?

Retention is also about focusing on building a robust on-boarding process for existing customers. This needs to be a process that’s clear-cut and allows you to monitor results and make changes and improvements based on the data you’re seeing.

Finally, you need to make sure you’re creating real value for your existing customers. Build campaigns that really train them, events that are experiences that surprise and delight, and a referral process that provides true incentive for them to pass your name along to others.

CRM and marketing automation tools can help you manage these processes. These tools allow you to segment your audience so that you can easily guide, train, and over-communicate with the customers you already have so that retention stays high.

3. Embrace the Cloud

In recent years, the Cloud has become a bigger and bigger part of doing business. And small business owners have already begun to use cloud-based technology to improve their internal systems and processes. Cloud-based storage and communication systems have made it easier for distributed teams to collaborate and get things done.

However, the future lies in harnessing cloud technology to provide an even better customer experience. It’s not just about convenience or lowering cost, it’s become a part of the customer’s expectation that cloud technology is used to enhance the customer experience.

As you begin 2019, think about how you can use cloud-based tools that help with payment collection, online collaboration, and other customer service features to make your customer experience even more seamless.

4. Use Video Content Everywhere

We’ve been talking about content and we’ve been talking about video separately for years, but I think 2019 is going to be all about video content. Short form video content, in particular, is an important marketing trend. Studies continue to show that video content gets the most engagement and highest return on investment.

Developers and tech companies have caught wind of the trend as well. They continue to come out with new tools and products that make it easier for anyone to produce short and engaging videos that can be used for any and all marketing efforts.

Video isn’t just something splashy to put on your website’s homepage anymore. It can and should be used to provide meaningful content all throughout the customer journey. You may use it during the early phases to introduce the brand story and team members, but it can also be employed further along the journey to share content that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry (building trust with prospects), and later to provide in-depth tutorials for customers so that they can get the most out of their recent purchases.

You should be using video across channels, too. Video on your website is great, but also put your video content to use in ads, social media posts, and as a way to introduce your blog posts. When video is used in this way, it goes beyond being just a tool to becoming something that produces deep, meaningful content all along the customer journey.

I hope taking a look at these trends gets you excited about all of the wonderful marketing possibilities ahead in the New Year!

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How to Use CRM for Audience Segmentation

How to Use CRM for Audience Segmentation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

All customers today are looking for a highly personalized experience. They expect businesses—from the big guys like Amazon all the way down to their local coffee shop—to understand their wants and needs, and to treat them like an individual.

When you’re running a successful business with hundreds or thousands of customers, though, it is impossible to make your audience feel special if everyone is getting the exact same messaging. That’s where audience segmentation comes in. When used properly, the information stored within your CRM can be used to create subsets of your prospect and customer population who you can then approach with highly tailored messaging. This makes every individual feel like a VIP, and it makes them all the more likely to do business with you over the other guy.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at audience segmentation: What it is, how to do it, and why it matters for your business.

What is Audience Segmentation?

Audience segmentation is the process of breaking your audience down into smaller groups. There are a number of ways that you may choose to segment your audience, and each business will segment differently based on their individual needs and goals. You can consider the following categories of attributes when you’re thinking about segmentation:

  • Demographics: Do you want to break your list down by age, gender, geographical location, income, or job title?
  • Stage in Customer Journey: Is this individual a prospect, a repeat customer, or somewhere in between?
  • Actions: Have they signed up for your newsletter? Abandoned a cart on your e-commerce website?
  • Interactions: When was the last time they interacted with your business, and how did they do so?
  • Purchases: What purchases have they already made, and how recently?
  • Preferences: How do they prefer to be contacted? And how frequently do they want to hear from you?

Segmenting your audience allows you to approach different subsets with different messaging and offers. These targeted messages are more likely to meet with a positive response than if you send the exact same message to everyone on your mailing list.

How Do I Segment for My Business?

Every business has unique goals and will segment their lists differently as a result. The first step in deciding how to segment your list is to look at your ideal customer: What are their attributes, and what actions can you take in contacting them to ensure you’ll move them further down the marketing hourglass?

For example, for a retail store with both a brick and mortar and e-commerce platform, geographical location is an important way to segment your list. You want to be sure that the people receiving your email about in-store deals and promotions live close enough to actually come to the store. For a B2B business, factors like job title or company seniority might be more important to take into account when segmenting. Those who are in leadership positions are more likely to be the decision-makers in selecting your business, so you’ll want your messaging to reflect that.

The great thing about CRM tools is that they allow you to segment based on multiple attributes and actions, so don’t feel like you only have to pick only one or two. The system will manage each individual’s profile, and the more information you have on each person the more able you are to target them with the messaging that is most relevant.

Why Does Segmentation Matter?

Creating an incredible user experience is all about personalization. Marketo released the results of a survey recently, where they found that 63 percent of all respondents were “highly annoyed” by generic email blast messaging. Nearly 80 percent of those respondents also indicated that they will only engage with promotions from a brand if the promotions are related to a prior purchase they made.

With statistics like those, it’s easy to see why segmentation is so important. People are less likely to do business with you—even when you offer them a promotion or deal—if it’s not something specially tailored to them. Not only that, but when you begin to annoy customers and prospects with generic messaging, you erode trust and effectively encourage them to look for a competitor who will acknowledge their individual wants and needs.

Use Segmentation to Inform Future Campaigns

Outside of the unparalleled personalization that email segmentation offers, there’s a benefit to your team in email segmentation as well—one that goes beyond the obvious benefit of more sales. Email segmentation makes it very easy for your team to run A/B testing on different messaging and campaigns.

When you break your list down into subsets, you can send variations on the same messaging to groups in your email list and see which campaign gets greater traction. When an email campaign is successful, you know that something about the messaging was persuasive to the audience. The next step for you is to identify what made it so great and then to replicate this in future campaigns. As you continue to refine your approach, your audience will be delighted by how well you understand them and their needs, and will be all the more likely to become return clients and to refer you to their friends.

How Do I Find the Right CRM to Implement Segmented Messaging?

All CRMs allow you to collect and save data on customers and prospects, and many have campaign management and email marketing built directly into the platform. Others work with an outside email messaging system to get the job done.

If you have yet to select a CRM for your business consider a comprehensive tool like ActiveCampaign, ZoHo, OntraPort, and InfusionSoft. These platforms offer more traditional CRM functions like sales and lead scoring, plus segmentation and email marketing.

If you already have a CRM in place that doesn’t provide an email marketing function, don’t despair. Most email management systems will integrate with CRMs; take, for example, MailChimp’s integrations with a variety of CRM and e-commerce platforms that allow you to undertake effective email segmentation by bringing the tools you already use together.

Audience segmentation is the key to providing the kind of highly personalized attention that prospects and clients not only want, but expect. Using a CRM to help you create detailed profiles and send targeted messages to users based on their individual wants, needs, and attributes helps establish your business as a likable and trustworthy brand—the kind of business someone is excited to interact with.

Google Ads Changes Affecting Small Businesses

Google Ads Changes Affecting Small Businesses written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Changes to Google Ads

Google has recently made some drastic changes to their ads program—starting with a name change, from Google AdWords to Google Ads. Some of the changes are technical, like tweaks to the interface. Others represent fundamental shifts in the way Google views advertising. These will affect more than just your Google advertising efforts, but also how you approach other marketing tactics, SEO, and content.

Google is the dominant force in online advertising, so you can’t afford to ignore what they’re doing. Here, I’ll walk you through the most important changes and new features that small business owners need to be aware of.

Goodbye, AdWords

The biggest change is that we have known the primary Google ad tool as AdWords. Now, they’ve dropped Words, and it is just Google Ads. This is more than just a technicality, I think it signals a fundamental shift in the way they’re viewing advertising.

When Google originally launched their ad product, advertising was all about keywords, but times have changed. Google is so much more than just a search engine at this point, and the change in name reflects their omnipresence on the web.

The new name indicates a move towards a more comprehensive approach, one that will incorporate machine learning and behavioral tracking to better understand the true intent behind people’s actions online.

Google Ads on Your Desktop

One of the other significant changes small business marketers will see is that there is now an application you can download to your desktop: AdWords Editor.

Similar to the Facebook editor, the idea here is that you can now download your campaigns, work on them offline, and then upload them again. This means that you’re not stuck sitting on the platform the entire time, and can now get more work done if you’re offline and on the move.

Google Sheets Integration

If you’re not already familiar with Google Sheets, it’s essentially a free, online version of Microsoft Excel. The integration with the new ads program allows you to pull reporting from Google Ads and into Google Sheets.

Doing so allows you greater flexibility in parsing the data. You can filter by your own criteria, create reports, and track data more easily. This will be particularly useful for agencies or consultants who need to create reports for multiple clients.

New Comprehensive Campaigns

With their new advertising program, Google is providing additional support to small business advertisers, allowing those who don’t have the time or energy to create their own campaigns to leave that all in Google’s hands.

The skeptic in me feels that there is a tradeoff between convenience and value. They make it very easy for you to give them a budget and they’ll do the legwork, but you’re also handing over control and the appropriate measures to monitor and adjust how that money is spent. Without visibility into what’s actually being done to market your business, how can you understand how to get better results in the future?

  • Google Local SearchLocal Ads: Google allows you to create one campaign that will propagate against search, maps, places, pages, display, and even YouTube. This means you only have to design one campaign to be used across all of their many platforms, while Google makes the decisions about how to best tailor the approach in each place.
  • Lead Ads: A new unit on YouTube, Lead Ads allows you to collect an email address through an ad message. This is similar to Facebook’s Lead Ads, which have been around for a while.
  • Responsive Search Ads: You create a pool of headlines and descriptions, and Google tests each of those possible combinations to determine which is most successful. Depending on how many concepts you create, you can end up with thousands of possible combinations—it’s A/B testing in hyperdrive. This is designed to help you lift click-through and conversion rates significantly.

Responsive Search Ads

What About Organic Search?

While these new campaigns are great for those who are taking advantage of the Google Ads platform, what about those marketers or small business owners who are putting all of their faith in the power of organic search?

These new ads will drive up conversion rates, as Google continues to do the analytics on what makes the most successful campaigns for its paid advertisers. In addition to being successful, these ads are also huge. They still contain extensions, and so they are going to take over. This will only serve to force organic results further and further down the page. Those users searching on a mobile device will have to scroll for a very long time before hitting the first organic result.

The message here for small business marketers is that you can’t ignore Google Ads. You still need to have a comprehensive marketing system with other tactics, including social media and content, as a means to get into organic search. But at the same time, you can’t ignore paid advertising.

Google Local Services Ads

The last item, which does not impact everyone yet, is Local Services Ads from Google. Formerly known as Home Service Ads, Local Services Ads are currently focused on tradespeople, technicians, and providers of other services to homeowners, with plans to expand to additional categories.

Business owners must apply to be in this program and become “Google Guaranteed,” which means that they’ll have to clear a background check and Google will provide a money-back guarantee to anyone unhappy with the company’s services.

Google Local Services Ad

This comes at a price: Google does not send users directly to a website when they click on this type of ad. Google uses a tracking phone number so that they’re able to see which leads are generated from these ads; the business owner is then charged for those leads. And rather than charging a nominal fee per click, Google will now ask for $25-$100 per lead, depending on category and competition, because they’ve delivered a verifiable lead.

This new approach allows Google to be fully involved in the lead generation process, which gives them valuable information about the way people are searching for services and also allows them to charge small business owners a greater fee than they would for pay-per-click advertising.

As we see advertising moving more towards a focus on intent, a shift that is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, we will see Google Ads encroach more and more in the search space. Google has created a system that encourages you to give them more of your ad budget, and while you certainly can’t ignore Google Ads as a part of your overall strategy, I would argue that there’s still great benefit in attending to your other marketing channels.

If you are struggling with managing the rapidly-changing online advertising landscape, Duct Tape Marketing can do an audit for you. Our Total Online Presence Audit is a comprehensive review of your assets online, including your ads. We can assess your strengths and weaknesses, and point you in the right direction.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

The Seven Steps to Marketing Success – How to Build a Marketing System

The Seven Steps to Marketing Success – How to Build a Marketing System written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Building a Marketing System

The key to an effective marketing approach is creating a marketing system. This is Duct Tape Marketing’s point of view and our key differentiator. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the seven steps you must undertake to build a successful marketing system for your business.

1. Focus on Strategy Before Tactics

The first step to creating a successful marketing system is to know who your ideal customer is, and what their core problems are. If you don’t understand the value that your business can bring to each engagement, it’s nearly impossible to select the tactics you should use to reach your audience.

When you understand the ideal customer and create the narrowest definition possible for who that is, you can then connect what you’re offering to solving the customers’ problems. This makes your approach not just about your products and services, but about your promise to solve those problems. If you don’t take the time to understand your ideal customer, there’s no way to build a marketing strategy that will speak to them.

2. Guide the Customer Journey – The Marketing Hourglass

Because of the internet, the way people buy today is largely out of your hands. They have so many places to do research, ask networks, find out about you, and discover the products and services to solve their problems before they ever contact a company.

The customer journey comes into play at Duct Tape Marketing with something called the marketing hourglass. The hourglass has seven stages: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer. These stages represent the logical behavior in buying that many of your customers want to take. Your job is to help them move through those stages sequentially.

Your first step is to understand how somebody would come to know about a company like yours. Likely, they’d turn to a search engine or they’d ask a friend. At these early stages, they know they have a problem, but they haven’t yet concluded how they’re going to solve it. Marketing at this stage needs to show that you understand their pain points and that you might have the right solution for them. From there, you need to establish trust in your brand and perhaps even give them a way to try you. When they do finally buy, that experience must be excellent in order to create repeat business. Not only that, but happy customers will also generate referrals.

All marketing efforts must be built around the concept of the marketing hourglass. When you understand how your customers buy and what they’re expecting to achieve at each stage, you’re able to build a marketing plan that exceeds their expectations along the way and creates happy, lifelong customers.

3. Make Content the Voice of Strategy

Content is not just a tactic, it is the voice of strategy. You have made a promise to solve a problem for your customers; you now need to be ready to meet people where they are (search engines, social media, etc.) and generate enough valuable content to dominate in those arenas.

We use something called content hubs to outshine in search and to create content that is valuable to read, find, and share. This content must also meet customers at every stage of their journey, from know and like all the way through to referrals.

4. Create a Total Online Presence

Even if you do the majority of your business offline and in person, in today’s world, you must have a total online presence. The internet is where people go to have an experience with marketing, to understand a company, and to do research. When someone refers you to their friend, the friend turns to a search engine or your website to learn what other people are saying about you and to see if you actually solve the problem that they have.

No matter what kind of business you run, you need to be tackling all the elements of online marketing. This includes social media, search engine optimization, content, website, and email marketing. All of these pieces must work together as an integrated whole.

5. Build a Reliable Flow of Leads

Leads are the lifeblood of getting your business going, and so you have to find a predictable way to generate enough leads to grow your business. There are numerous channels through which to generate leads, and again, integration is key.

Sales, content, advertising, networking, and online and offline events all play a role. There is no one way to generate leads; the key is in finding the three or four channels that you can consistently mine and establishing a process to develop leads through those channels.

6. Make Lead Conversion Your X Factor

Lead conversion must be your multiplier. The key here is to focus on all forms of lead conversion. Obviously someone buying your product or service for the first time is a conversion, but what about signing up for an ebook, registering for an online course, getting a free evaluation, or making an appointment? Those are all conversion activities.

You need to map the experience of each of your leads and clients so you can be sure that they’re having a great experience throughout. This is how you create repeat business and reactive those clients who have been lost. Once you begin tracking customer experiences, you then need to measure these activities. When you understand customers’ behavior, you can create better experiences; even if that only increases each conversion activity by one or two percent, that has a huge impact on the business overall.

7. Live By the Calendar

When you’re developing a system, you have to have a plan. It doesn’t have to be long-term—focusing on three to four important priorities for the quarter is ideal. From there, you can break those priorities down into activities and projects so that you can plan the quarter and not expend energy chasing the next new thing.

You have to have fewer priories, and you have to make marketing a habit. It has to be something that you do daily. You have to build meetings with the appropriate people to make sure that you’re moving those priorities along. Once you establish that habit, you should start documenting your processes. From there, you can decide what tasks you can delegate, either by adding more staff or outsourcing to others.

The reality is that marketing never ends—it’s a cycle. Once you go through the seven steps and build your marketing system, you want to constantly be reviewing, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and changing your approach accordingly.

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The Impact of Understanding Customer Acquisition Costs and Customer Lifetime Value

The Impact of Understanding Customer Acquisition Costs and Customer Lifetime Value written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s post is from Dan Kraus – Enjoy!

Have you heard someone talk about customer acquisition cost (CAC) or customer lifetime value (CLV or LTV)? If you’re in the tech business, and especially if you work with SaaS products, you’ve definitely heard of, and can likely calculate, these values. If you’re not in the tech industry, you should learn about these numbers, as they have enormous value for businesses of every type and size.

CAC is how much you spend to acquire a customer. In the simplest of calculations, it’s the amount you spend on sales and marketing divided by the number of customers you get during the period you’re measuring.

CLV is the net value of a customer to the company–how much money a customer spends during their entire relationship with you, minus the costs of products and services they buy.

Used together, these numbers help drive your overall business strategy, including your marketing approach.

Here’s a simple example. I met with a plumbing services business that cleans out drains as their primary business. We talked about their starter offer (how they get new clients in the door), which focused heavily on emergency clog removal through their 24-hour hotline.

They historically charged $149 for an emergency cleanout. Their loaded cost to do this, including technician time, vehicle wear and tear, and materials, was about $70. They wanted to clear a net profit of 20% ($30). Backing the cost and profit allocation out, we had $49 left to cover marketing and non-allocated overhead. After talking, we determined we needed to acquire a job/customer for $35 if the emergency clog removal was all they sold–a very challenging number to achieve in a market as big and competitive as Charlotte.

So we talked about the lifetime value of a customer. Less than 10% of the customers they worked with bought any other services–on the first service call or in the future–and their additional purchases were around $200. After taking out costs, we determined that their average CLV was approximately $42. They quickly understood that they needed new business strategies if they were going to grow.

They needed to increase the lifetime value of a customer. If they did, they could afford to spend more to acquire new customers. This realization drove them back to business planning because they needed to make decisions about customer service, cross-sell and up-sell plans, marketing to previous customers, and even compensation plans for their techs.

No matter what business you’re in, you can figure out your CAC and CLV and use the numbers to support or change your strategies and tactics. If you’re in professional services, use the numbers to understand if you need to focus on getting more repeat business or acquiring new customers. If you sell products in a brick-and-mortar store, the numbers will help you plan your promotional budget and adjust your product mix. If you’re a local services business–plumbing, car repair, landscaping, etc.–you can use your CAC and CLV values to determine how much you should spend on marketing to new customers versus providing better service to current clients.

John makes the point in this blog post that CLV is unlimited if you have delighted customers because they refer you, and those referrals have no CAC. If those referrals then refer you again, you end up in a virtuous cycle. I couldn’t agree more, but you have to start that cycle somewhere, and that somewhere is understanding where you are now so you can be smarter about where you invest going forward.

So, break out the spreadsheet and get some help from your bookkeeper, accountant, or financial advisor to figure out a basic cost of customer acquisition and customer lifetime value.

Those numbers will help you answer critical questions like:

  • How much should I budget for marketing based on the goals I have for gaining new customers this period?
  • How much should I be investing in customer delight, customer experience, and customer support?
  • Where should I focus my sales team and how should I structure their compensation plans for the results I want?
  • Which products or services should I concentrate on to get the customers I want to work with, and who are also profitable for our company?

Want to learn more? Try these other resources:

The Cost of Customer Acquisition: How Much Can You Spend to Earn New Business?

The Ultimate Guide to Calculating, Understanding, and Improving CAC in 2018

How to Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

Dan Kraus

Dan Kraus is the founder and president of Leading Results, a marketing consulting agency based in Concord, North Carolina. Through his firm, Kraus helps business owners develop a marketing strategy that empowers them to be self-sufficient and ensures their long-term success. Find him on TwitterLinkedIn, or on his blog.

Why You Need Inbound For Outbound Marketing and Vice Versa

Why You Need Inbound For Outbound Marketing and Vice Versa written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In recent years, outbound marketing has gotten a bad rap. It’s seen as expensive, time consuming, and it feels like a relic of the past. And the numbers bear this out: in 2017, HubSpot’s State of Inbound report found that 71 percent of businesses worldwide are focused primarily on inbound marketing.

But I’d argue that there is real value in outbound marketing, when it’s done correctly. In fact, you can develop a sort of symbiotic relationship between inbound and outbound marketing tactics in order to create an even stronger overall marketing strategy.

Here, we’ll look at why you need inbound for outbound marketing (and vice versa) and what you can do to strengthen your approach in both arenas.

Tailor Your Inbound Approach Based on Outbound Success

Nowadays, people are trained to tune out most traditional outbound tactics. Television commercials are muted or skipped over entirely, direct mailers are tossed in the trash without a second glance, and radio stations are switched as soon as ads begin playing.

So what information can you glean from an outbound campaign that is successful? If you begin to generate responses to an outbound campaign, you’ll know that you’re onto something. Your messaging was powerful enough to cut through the noise and grab the attention of someone that wasn’t actively seeking out the good or service you offer. And that’s valuable information.

You can then take that knowledge and use it to strengthen your inbound approach. Revamp your call to action on your website to reflect the messaging in your outbound campaign. Create blog posts that are related to the topic you presented in the ads. Adopt a similar tone in your social media posts. Understanding what it was that grabbed a stranger’s attention can allow you to bolster your relationship with those who already interact with your brand or who happen upon it via inbound channels.

Use Outbound to Identify the Strongest Prospects

Tracking responses to outbound marketing can also allow you to gauge who your most promising prospects are. If someone goes out of their way to react to your outbound efforts, it’s likely that they’re very enthusiastic about your business. This is a prospect with a high likelihood of conversion, and if you then open up a dialogue by presenting them with the appropriate inbound tactics, you have a good chance of winning them over.

These are the people you should be reaching out to with targeted offers and discounts. Make sure they’re encountering your paid ads on social media so that your business remains top of mind. Send them a free white paper and ask them to sign up for your bi-weekly newsletter that’s filled with valuable content. You’ll feel confident that you’re getting the greatest return on your inbound investment because you’re going after your most highly engaged prospects.

Catch Customers at Any Stage of the Marketing Hourglass

Outbound and inbound marketing come into play at different stages of the marketing hourglass. Typically, outbound strategies are deployed at the top of the hourglass, where new customers are just getting to know and like your brand. Inbound strategies become useful a bit further down. Because inbound allows you to develop a two-way conversation with prospects, these techniques can be valuable in the trust and try phases of the hourglass. This is where prospects will want to gain a deeper understanding of your brand, and perhaps hear from you or from your clients about what it is that you excel at, and why a prospect should give you a shot.

However, the customer journey is never a straight line, so you have to be prepared for the fact that existing customers will sometimes encounter your outbound marketing efforts and brand new prospects who aren’t familiar with your brand may discover your inbound approach before they ever see one of your ads. This means that you need to be thinking about how to create both inbound and outbound campaigns that are appealing to prospects and clients no matter where they are on their journey.

Your outbound approach should not only be a catchy introduction to your brand, it should also have a voice that aligns with the rest of your marketing, so that your existing customers feel that what they already understand to be true about your brand is just being further confirmed by any outbound efforts they come in contact with. Similarly, your inbound marketing strategy should be accessible enough that a stranger can happen upon any tweet, Instagram post, or paid search item and be able to easily glean what your business does, and what you might be able to offer to them.

Use Inbound and Outbound to Tell Your Story

If you’re only focused on either inbound or outbound marketing, you’re missing out on the opportunity to provide a holistic picture of what your business does, what your value proposition is, and how you stand out from the competition.

Outbound marketing only allows you to present a small sliver of the solutions you can provide to prospective clients. A good outbound campaign can tell a story in a direct mailer or a commercial, but outbound media are by nature briefyou’re limited to a 30 television commercial, one page mailer, or 15 second radio spotso prospects can’t get the full picture. And you can bet that in today’s digital world, even if you’ve gotten their attention through outbound tactics, they’ll be doing some digging on your business before converting.

That’s why pairing an outbound with an inbound approach is crucial. Your inbound marketing efforts, like social media and curated content on blogs or in white papers, allows you to tell prospects a broader story about who you are and what you do. Your social media accounts should have a clear point of view and should demonstrate your guiding vision and principles for your business. Your content should prove your deep industry knowledge and confirm your status as a thought leader.

Prospects want to trust you, and in order to trust you, they have to feel like they know you. The outbound will put you on their radar screen, but the inbound will open up a dialogue between you and the prospect, helping to prove to them that you’re the best company for the job.

A marketing strategy that focuses only on inbound is missing out on valuable opportunities. Pairing inbound and outbound marketing strategies allows you to create the fullest picture of your brand for prospects and clients alike, and gives you the greatest shot at winning new business and maintaining the trust and loyalty of existing customers.

How to Integrate Sales and Marketing to Grow Your Business

How to Integrate Sales and Marketing to Grow Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

It’s an age-old notion that marketing and sales teams don’t get along. Like rival football teams in a teen movie, the marketing team sees themselves as the heroes—creating forward-thinking ideas and campaigns that will open up a whole new world of potential clients and drive tremendous growth—while the sales team thinks what they’re doing is the real work—coaxing customers along, catering to their needs, closing the deal and actually bringing in revenue.

But just like in a great teen movie, the moral of the story here is that when the two teams can put aside their differences and work together, they can accomplish really amazing things for your business.

Creating harmony between sales and marketing might be easier said than done, but it is definitely possible. Here we take a look at some tips for integrating sales and marketing in a way that will lead to healthier revenue and happier teams.

Foster Friendship

It may seem obvious, but people will work better together if they know and like each other. Because there is typically a rivalry between sales and marketing teams, there’s a lot of value in bringing these two groups together. You can do it however you’d like: an informal lunch gathering in the office, an after-work excursion to a bowling alley, or an overnight offsite to a nearby hotel with hiking or fun outdoor activities.

No matter what your budget is, there are real, tangible benefits in bringing these teams together and creating a convivial environment. Happiness can lead to success in various aspects of life, and work is no exception. Happy employees are more engaged, productive, and do better work.

Not only does this productivity and engagement help your bottom line, it also makes being at work a more pleasant experience for all, and isn’t that a win-win?

Create an Inclusive Strategy

Once you’ve built a bridge between these two teams, you’ll want to share your comprehensive business strategy. This should be the grand, guiding vision for all employees in your company, including those on the sales and marketing teams.

Present this strategy to both teams together, and then open things up for discussion. How does their day to day work feed into the larger strategy? How can the sales and marketing teams collaborate to work towards achieving the business’s overarching goals? What are the strategies of the two teams, and then what are the tactics they’ll use to achieve results?

Getting these teams talking about how they fit into the larger picture can encourage them to think about collaboration not just as a nice to have, but as a must have in order to serve the business as a whole.

Encourage Communication

Now that you’ve got the teams talking, keep those lines of communication open, and create a clear system for the sales and marketing teams to transfer leads. Where in the marketing hourglass does it make the most sense to get the sales team involved?

Will all of the channels through which marketers can reach prospects nowadays, your marketing team has the know and like portion of the funnel covered. But things tend to get a little murky by trust and try.

Some people will be willing to take online reviews, social media posts, and offers like white papers or webinars as enough to convince them to become a customer. Others will need a bit more hand holding in the form of sales presentations, demos, or just someone to talk to before they commit.

You want to make sure that these prospects who are on the fence actually end up getting in touch with a sales person. They’re so close to converting, and if your sales team is responsive and provides them with just a little bit more personalized information, their business is yours.

This means you need to create clear internal processes for identifying these people and getting them in touch with the sales team quickly and efficiently. Consider establishing a channel on Slack or a similar messaging system so that the sales and marketing team can easily communicate. A shared inbox tool like FrontApp can also empower your team to see the interactions a prospect has already had with your company, and allow others in your organization to quickly and easily pick up where their colleagues left off.

A seamless transition between marketing and sales efforts will help to build trust on the prospect’s end, and is one of the factors that can help you close the deal.

Share The Data

Marketers are constantly collecting new data on how customers are interacting with the company and on how effective their marketing efforts are. Salespeople are in constant communication with customers, and have lots of real-world data they’re picking up from these interactions.

This means that sales and marketing teams should be sharing data to identify trends that can help both of them improve their respective approaches.

For example, if marketers are seeing that a particular call to action on the website is getting a lot of traction, they should share that data with the sales team. It means that something about that messaging is resonating with customers, and salespeople can tailor their approach to include that same messaging when speaking with clients or prospects.

Similarly, if the sales team is hearing the same feedback, good or bad, from a lot of clients, they should be sharing that with the marketing team. If customers are saying they’re unhappy with a specific product because it doesn’t do what they were expecting it to based on what they read on your website, that’s an issue with the marketing language.

Marketing teams are likely using Google Analytics or a similar tool to collect their data, while the sales team is probably using a CRM platform. Providing the each team with access to the other team’s data can allow them to understand the customer from a new perspective and (hopefully) improve their approach to their own work.

Reward Good Work

Sales teams have historically been rewarded for their work with incentives. This is part of what can feed into that classic marketing/sales rivalry. While the marketing team is attracting new prospects with their work, it’s the sales team that closes the deal and gets the glory (and the financial reward).

I’m not saying take away incentives from your sales team. There is an art to motivating salespeople, and it involves a different approach for your different tiers of workers; some are stars, while some are laggards, and they need to be handled differently.

What I am saying is that it’s helpful to incentivize your marketing team, too. But the approach here has to be different. It can’t be commissions based on sales; instead you should identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and create a bonus structure around them.

Something easily measurable, like traffic or visibility, is a good place to start. Create a bonus structure around site traffic that’s driven by marketing content, or provide a monetary reward when you hit a certain number of followers on a social media platform. From there, you can broaden out and consider other KPIs.

It is possible for the sales and marketing teams to put aside their differences, integrate their approaches, and live in harmony. And it’s imperative that small business owners and leadership do what they can to encourage open communication and collaboration across team lines. Not only will this make for happier teams, but it will also make for a healthier business.

A Small Business Guide to Paid Content

A Small Business Guide to Paid Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

If you’re a small business out in the world today, it can feel like your competition is everywhere. The ubiquity of the internet means that anyone, anywhere, can turn to any provider to get the goods or services they need. In an environment like that, what can you possibly do to stand out from the crowd?

In the past, advertising was the cornerstone of any plan to get your company’s name out there and to attract new business. However, with giants like Google now committing to filtering ads, and with customers being turned off by loud pop-up videos and irritating banners blocking a site’s content, focusing exclusively on advertising is becoming a less sustainable marketing model for businesses.

So what’s the alternative? Here we’ll take a look at paid content: what it is and what it can bring to your business.

Why Turn to Paid Content?

Content marketing is essentially a way for you to create deep connections with customers, establish yourself as an industry expert, and thereby drive sales. This content can be anything from blog posts to podcasts to e-newsletters.

Whatever form the content takes, it’s critical that it’s high-quality, informative, and results-driven content that really solves a problem your potential clients have. If you prove through your content that you understand their needs and that you have a means to meet them, you can become their go-to source for whatever good or service you provide.

The challenge, then, becomes getting that content in front of the right people. You know that old adage “If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Same goes for content creation. You can be turning out some really impressive work, but if no one’s seeing the content you’re creating, it’s not doing anything for you.

Leveraging Distribution Platforms

Getting your content out there to a broader audience is exactly why some companies turn to distribution platforms. These platforms allow you to set a budget and timescale, and from there they work to put your content in front of a targeted audience that will find it the most interesting and useful. We’ve discussed this approach in the past, and while there are a lot of platforms for you to choose from, some of the most popular are covered here.

Content Distribution PlatformDistribution platforms will provide you with analytics, so you’re able to see which content is getting the most traction and can tailor your approach as you learn more about your audience. The greatest downside to these types of platforms is that the content still lives on the margins of web pages. Often located below the site’s content, they look like paid content, which may turn some potential readers off.

Sponsored Content on Trusted Publications

If you’re concerned about the look of content on a distribution platform, you may want to consider sponsored content instead.

While perusing your favorite online magazine or newspaper, it’s likely that you’ve come across a story that’s sponsored by a brand. Perhaps it’s a mattress store that’s written an article about the importance of a good night’s sleep. Or an athletic goods company that’s published a piece about how the proper running shoe can help marathoners beat their personal records.

These types of posts are imbedded in a publication and are designed to mirror the look, feel, and tone of other articles, but in reality, they’ve been paid for by marketers. This kind of paid content is beneficial in a few unique ways. First, it allows you to target the readers of whichever publication best aligns with the target audience for your good or service. It also provides an air of legitimacy for your advertising; if the reader trusts the publication, they’re likely to also trust your content that they find on its pages.

Facebook Posts and Google Searches

Similar in concept to the sponsored content approach, you may also consider placing sponsored posts on Facebook or paying for Google search ads. This is another form of native advertising, which again allows your content to blend in with its surroundings.

Google Search Ad

If someone happens upon a Facebook ad as they’re scrolling through their newsfeed, or sees a search result at the top of their Google results, they’re less likely to be put off in the same way they might be with a more obvious marketing tactic. Since these ads are intended to look like a part of the larger platform, readers don’t feel they’re being “sold” a product or service.

The New Approach to Influencer Marketing

When you think of influencer marketing, it’s possible that your mind jumps immediately to the Kardashians or another celebrity with a massive social media following. But the trend in influencer marketing is changing, and many marketers are now moving away from the celebrity endorsement.

In fact, in a recent study by Collective Bias, 70 percent of millennials said they’re more likely to buy a product that’s been endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger, rather than a celebrity. This is good news for smaller businesses, who can’t afford the seven-figure endorsement price tag that Kylie Jenner commands.

If you’re a small business, think smaller scale. Target influencers who are important to those in your desired network, and reach out to them. If you have a compelling pitch and are willing to send them a free sample of your product, they just may cover your business on their blog or give you a shout-out on their social media platforms.

There are a lot of small businesses out there, creating content and competing for the attention of potential customers. While this can make the world of content creation feel overwhelming, if you focus on creating quality content that really helps your target audience, and find ways to get this content in front of an ever-broadening audience, you can make the content creation approach work in your favor to drive revenues and expand your business.

The Role of Content Has Changed – Here’s How You Can Adapt

The Role of Content Has Changed – Here’s How You Can Adapt written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

It wasn’t too long ago that you could follow the formula below to attract and generate leads for your business:

  • Develop a content upgrade, like an ebook
  • Gate it behind a form on a landing page
  • Drive people to your landing pages through blog posts, social media, advertising, and email campaigns
  • People see the offer on the landing page, are interested, and give their contact information in exchange for the content
  • Voila, you have a new lead that you can nurture to a sale

While content upgrades still work well as a lead capture tool, you need to now get creative with how to get eyes on it. The market is so saturated these days and so many businesses are now following this approach that it can be easy to get lost in all the noise.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now and began testing an approach that I had seen to start to emerge that I want to share with you. While my results have been significant, it may take time for business who are just getting started to see the same results, but in my opinion, it’ll be well worth it in the long run.

The key is to continue to position yourself as the expert in your field, and the best way to do this is to create and aggregate content into one place to show not only your visitors that you know what you’re talking about, but search engines as well.

Have I lost you? I hope not! To understand what I’m talking about, take a look at the details below.

Creating content – An evolved approach

As content continues to grow in importance for your business, it now must take on an elevated position in your strategy and planning.

The use of high-quality, education-based content has become a necessary ingredient in creating awareness, building trust, converting leads, serving customers and generating referrals.

Marketers these days have a lot in common with the traditional role of publishers. The good news is that the days of creating an infinite amount of thin content are over. You can create content less frequently, provided you structure it correctly and include a ton of value within it.

Today we have evolved into the “less is more” approach. Big content projects, even if there are only three per year, is better than writing a blog post every week, just because you think you should.

I’m currently experiencing great results with something that I’m calling Hub Pages. This is something many have already started doing and I understand why.

Content planning has really risen to the strategic level. It’s no longer an SEO tactic or simply content marketing. While we should certainly use it for those things, we must plan it at a foundational level.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, content really is now air for your business as it impacts every channel, which elevates how we have to think about it.

Content becomes an asset over time

Content is no longer created for today or tomorrow. It is created as an asset that can be used throughout every stage of the Marketing Hourglass. Because of this, you need to think about the time and energy you need to invest to get it right.

Hub themes

local marketing

I’ve talked about the Total Content System for years and it’s really driven by what I’m starting to call “hub themes.” These themes can be monthly, quarterly, or whichever timeframe you think is best.

Let’s say the theme for the month is “local marketing.” You’d want to drive all the attention you have to this idea of local marketing, so one of the main tabs on your website may become “The Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.

Instead of it just being a page that talks about local marketing services, it becomes a foundational page that has a tremendous amount of value about what local marketing is, with tons of resources and links that people can click through to for further information (it may even end up looking like a course).

All of the content you have pointing to it are like the sub-chapters of the hub theme. I not only have all of these internal pages driving back to this one hub page, I also include links to external, high-quality content on the page that can also be linked back to the hub page.

Hub pages are also a great way to organize existing content and get more use out of it. Driving it to, and including in, these hub pages is a great way to give old content new life.

With so many pages driving to one another, you’ll start to gain a lot of trust and authority from Google, which will eventually help to increase your rank in search engine results pages over time.

The role of content upgrades

Content upgrades are still the new free. When you put these hub pages together, still include content upgrades, like an ebook or webinar signup, on these pages. People will now see these content upgrades because you are driving more traffic to these pages and they are easier to rank for instead of individual posts.

So, what do you think about this approach? Have you started to implement these types of efforts in your business?

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Building a Small Business Marketing Consulting Practice…see what I did there?