How to Do Customer Engagement If You’re In a Unique Niche

I once worked with a business who specialized in making custom squirrel horror dioramas.

If you’re wondering what in the world a custom squirrel horror diorama is, then you’ve proved an underlying point of this article.

Unique niches are really tough for marketing.

If there are 37 people on the planet that are in your target market, then you’ve got your work cut out for you.

But at the same time, a unique niche is a huge advantage!

Marketing in a tight and well-defined niche is deliciously straightforward.

  • You have less competition.
  • You can segment your audience with ease.
  • You can go hyper specific with organic and paid keywords.
  • You can micro target the heck out of Facebook ads.
  • You have the potential to get higher conversion rates.
  • You can get to know each of those 37 people on a first-name basis.

But there are some things that are more difficult in unique niches.

What’s Difficult About Unique Niches?

Customer engagement falls into that category.

Okay, so customer engagement itself isn’t that complicated.

However, when you’re in a specific niche, your customers are going to have specific wants and needs.

So you have to take a much more strategic approach to customer engagement if you want to get the results you’re looking for.

Lots of niche business overlook this, and it costs them.

“Customer engagement” falls into the abyss of other jargony business best practices that just don’t get done.

You can avoid falling into the same trap, but you have to plan ahead and work a little harder to understand your customers better.

And that’s the thing — engagement starts with understanding.

Unsurprisingly, customer engagement with niche customers looks a lot like a relationship, but what many brands forget is that relationships take work.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to push the relationship or dating analogy too far.

But I do want to speak directly to businesses that are in a well defined niche.

I’ve worked with companies who designed hair dryers for women with light and curly hair. Another one of my clients made big rock-shaking machines for mines. (It’s called vibratory equipment.)

Niches are really cool.

And I also want to speak to businesses that need to boost their customer engagement efforts.

Customer engagement is more than just clever tweets and using emojis in your Facebook posts.

Customer engagement is a fascinating world that can dish up more conversions than you ever thought possible.

We’re going to solve the customer engagement problem in unique niches.

(And if you’re the custom squirrel horror diorama guy I used to work with, this article is for you, man.)

Get Up Close and Personal

It makes sense that if you want to sell to customers who have specific wants and needs, you need to figure out what those wants and needs are.

That’s why it’s important to dig deep into demographics and psychographics. Your demographics will tell you who, while psychographics will tell you why.

Demographics and psychographics are important for every customer engagement strategy, but they’re especially crucial when you’re operating in a small niche.

To get this information, you can use a number of different platforms, but Google Analytics is probably the easiest (and it’s free).

Although it will only show you some basic information, it’s often enough to get started.

To find demographics in Google Analytics, go to the sidebar and navigate to Audience > Demographics > Overview.

You’ll find two sections: age and gender.

Again, It’s really basic, and gives you only a slice of relevant demographic data.

Because Google Analytics is so lacking here, consider doing some more research. Other demographics you might want to research include:

  • Location
  • Current occupation
  • Income
  • Education level
  • Family status (marital status, number of children, etc.)

You can find most of these using sites like that give you information on demographics in a certain area that you specify.

When it comes to psychographics, Google Analytics provides more information than you might expect.

You can see this info by going to Audience > Interests > Overview.

Here you’ll see three categories: Affinity Category, In-Market Segment, and Other Category. When you put these three together, you get a better idea of what your customers like.

Pay extra attention to the In-Market Segment. These are things that your customers are in the market for. They’re already into the sales funnel and might even be ready to buy.

Together, demographics and psychographics help paint a vivid picture of your audience.

You not only know what kind of people you’re engaging but also how to engage them (because you know what they want).

So now you know who your customers are and what they want.

What do you do next? You create a strategy that’s custom made for them.

There are lots of ways you can go about this, and it can get confusing.

Here are a few tips to help you out.

Be Approachable

Approachability is one factor that is exponentially more important for niche businesses than it is for more general businesses.

That’s because a unique niche is personal to your customers. Any given customer might even go so far as to define himself or herself using a niche.

Consider the cassette market. (Yes, cassettes are making a comeback.) People who listen to cassettes might call themselves cassette enthusiasts.

These people form a community, albeit small, that want that kind of personal engagement that their interests require.

Often, you’re engaging your customers in a way that’s intensely personal to them.

The more approachable you are, the better your customers will feel.

Understand that your customers don’t just want to like you––they want to trust you.

Building trust takes time and effort, but it has a big impact.

So how do you become more approachable?

Especially, since we’re dealing with the issue in a business context, and not in a warm-handshake-and-friendly-smile context.

First, listen to your customers.

And get serious about listening.

It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re listening to your customers, but are you really? If you aren’t, it’s never too late to start.

When you get customer feedback, don’t just make a mental note of it.

Keep a record of it and actually look at it.

Look for common threads in the feedback you get.

You might need to ask for feedback in the form of a survey. Most of your users will be happy to give you their thought, and a nice incentive (like a prize drawing) doesn’t hurt either.

Second, create a personality around your brand.

Of course, you could do this literally like Geico did with their gecko mascot (who has his own Twitter account).

But you could also transform your entire brand into something your customers trust.

Coca-Cola does this with its unforgettable marketing campaigns that are focused on happiness and positivity.

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Bonus: Be funny.

If humor comes naturally to you, use it.

One example of a hilarious brand is Blockbuster. Specifically, The Last Blockbuster.

Okay, maybe it’s not actually a real business, but it sure is funny.

Humor doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes, it’s feels forced and painful, like chewing on screws.

But for businesses who can do it, it enhances approachability.

If your brand is approachable, you’ll stand out from all your competitors.

Your customers will feel like you know them, and that’s because you do. All the work you put into finding demographics and psychographics will pay off at this step.

Enhance Your Online Presence

Like any relationship, the connection between you and your customers has to be nurtured. It takes frequent and open communication for any relationship to succeed.

That’s why having a robust online presence can drastically improve your customer engagement.

Being more active online mean that there are more points of contact.

Your customers can reach you more often, and that very act builds a ton of trust.

You probably saw this coming from a mile away, but being available on social media often is a huge plus.

People spend a lot of time on social media, and you can take advantage of that by also spending a lot of time on various networks.

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Social media is most likely where your target audience hangs out. Your specific audience might tend to congregate on one or two social media sites, and you need to find out exactly where.

This doesn’t mean you should go out and run a bunch of ads on every social media site.

It does mean that you should have a human presence on your accounts.

Look, I love bots just as much as the next guy, but you’re going to tick people off if your Twitter “customer service” is a poorly-programmed bot.

(Bots aren’t pure evil, as I’ll mention in just a minute.)

Many brands understand how important this is, and they make sure to respond to as much customer feedback as they can. Target’s Facebook excels at this:

Other brands go above and beyond the call of duty. Some companies like Warby Parker have created social media accounts solely for customer support.

But old fashioned customer support isn’t the only option. Some businesses, especially smaller ones, simply don’t have the resources to staff a dedicated support team.

That’s one of the reasons live chat has become so popular over the past few years.

With live chat, you can have business hours, so to speak. Your customers know when you’re available, and you can respond in real time.

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It’s a super efficient and cost-effective method of doing customer support in a way that your customers will love.

The ability to talk with your customers in real time is a big benefit. It’ll increase the level of hospitality and make customers feel closer to your brand.

Correctly programmed and carefully used, Chatbots can be used appropriately.

You’ve probably seen these around. They look like live chat boxes but are handled by software.

You can program these bots to do a ton of helpful things, like ask questions and make product suggestions.

Setting up a chatbot will take a little more time, but on the upside, you won’t have to do much after it’s done.

One of the big benefits of chatbots is consistent customer engagement. Your customers can interact with your brand even when you’re not there.

Still, it’s no replacement for human contact, which is why most businesses supplement chatbots with live chat support, and they work nicely in tandem.

Figure Out How to Treat Your Customers

Customer engagement looks a lot different today than it did just ten years ago.

(Sheesh, I’m starting to sound like one of those “when I was a kid” people!)

Today, you can improve your customers’ experiences with interactive quizzes, well-timed popup offers, and even games.

The abundance of customer engagement resources also means that it’s actually more difficult to engage customers than ever before. How can you cut through all the noise?

What many businesses are discovering is that it takes a lot of value for customers to pay attention to a brand.

If you’re not an industry titan like Google or Coca-Cola, this is the road you have to take. And thankfully, it’s not too hard to navigate.

You probably already know that customers prioritize value above all else, but you might be underestimating how much value you need to provide.

There has to be a huge amount of value every step of the way.

Value isn’t just something that you do. It’s something you are.

That sounds fluffy, but it really isn’t. It means that if you’re not giving your customers value as they go through the sales funnel, you’re not doing your job.

Value is what will separate you from everyone else in your niche. You need to figure out what kind of value your customers want and determine the best way to deliver that value.

If you’ve already researched your audience’s demographics and psychographics, you’re already halfway there. All that’s left is to provide the value your customers are looking for.

How do you do that? Actionable content is one of the best ways. Content marketing is still alive and well, and people still respond well to it.

The more helpful your content is, the more your customers will engage with it.

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For your content to stand out, it should be better than your competitors’ content. (That will also help people find your site before they find your competitors.)

The Skyscraper Technique is a popular method for creating amazing content, but in the end, all that matters is providing an overwhelming amount of value with every piece of content you publish.

Use Email For Good, Not Evil

Email is a powerful tool in every marketer’s arsenal––in fact, it’s the most powerful. Email is one of the top-converting channels. It’s simply unparalleled for engagement.

Sadly, it’s often overused. How many times have you gotten annoying email campaigns you didn’t want? Probably more times than you can count.

When it comes to your email strategy, keep Seth Godin’s idea of permission marketing in mind.

When someone gives you their email address, they’re trusting you with it. They expect you to not spam them or send them content they don’t want.

That’s the idea of permission marketing. You are literally getting your subscribers’ permission to market to them, and you have a responsibility to make good on your promise to only give them what they want. That means no spam or unscrupulous tactics.

This goes back to what we covered earlier about building trust with your customers. Email plays a huge role in that. If you respect people’s emails, they will respect you.

It’s tempting to use a lot of fine print to trick people into opting in to more than one list, and you might even want to rent out your list.

But if you really want to engage your customers and turn them into lifelong brand fans, you have to stick to email best practices.


Being in a super specific niche doesn’t have to make your customer engagement difficult.

In fact, niche engagement has the potential to allow you to connect with your customers on a personal level.

At its core, customer engagement has the same principles and priorities no matter what kind of business you own.

But within each niche, it looks a little different.

It’s well worth your time to find out what works and what doesn’t for your customer base.

If you’ve had any problems with customer engagement in your niche, share your experiences in the comments!

And if you have any major wins tell about those, too!

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Introducing The State of Engagement

If you’ve been following our latest posts on engagement and marketing, you know that marketers need to change the way they engage prospects and customers. We have entered the Engagement Economy, and to survive and thrive, organizations must evolve their marketing strategies and tactics accordingly. Simply put, we must stop saying that what we have been doing is “engaging” buyers. And instead, we must take steps to truly engage.

What most marketers have done with all the new digital tools at their disposal is put a new spin on traditional tactics of marketing to their audience. What’s needed is a wholesale change. It starts with truly understanding what it means to engage with today’s buyers.

I’m not blaming marketers. But I am advocating for a shake-up—starting with the mindset and going all the way down to the tactics—at most organizations.

To validate that marketing leaders need to adopt and execute new strategies and approaches, Marketo undertook the first-ever engagement focused study. Surveying more than 2,000 global consumers and marketers in order to surface valuable insights, the results should serve as a guidepost for marketers intent on succeeding.

Marketers Are Missing the Mark

The survey data revealed significant gaps between consumer expectations and marketers’ abilities to satisfy them. Consider this: the vast majority (82%) of marketers believe they deeply understand how their buyers want to be engaged. But half of buyers disagree.

A key reason for buyer dissatisfaction? Receiving irrelevant content from brands. In fact, this is the top reason consumers say they choose not to engage with vendors.

Irrelevant content

Part of the problem is likely due to the fact that the majority of consumer engagements with a brand are primarily transactional in nature. But it’s virtually impossible to deeply understand and build a relationship with someone purely through transactions.

It also doesn’t help that marketers are struggling to best use the tools available to them. It’s no small feat trying to unite data from the multiple—and often disconnected—point solutions used to manage engagement across different channels. In fact, it’s the biggest barrier to successful engagement, according to the marketers we surveyed.

And They’re Lacking Executive Support

The misalignment between marketers’ perceptions and buyer experiences is troubling. But what may be even more disturbing is the lack of critical support available to forward-thinking marketers. Those marketers that recognize the need to better align with buyer expectations are not getting essential executive sponsorship. In my experience, I know it’s nearly impossible to shift organizational priorities and strategies without support from the powers that be. As marketing leads the charge in defining true engagement for buyers, it’s more critical than ever that their executive team buys in.

It’s Time to Close the Gap

Ultimately the survey data indicates that marketers who make a priority of keeping the pulse of consumer expectations and interests will be the marketers who truly stand out, offer value, and engage to win in the Engagement Economy. The key to succeeding just may lie in moving beyond single-purpose tools to technologies, solutions, or platforms that facilitate the seamless flow of data across the marketing stack.

Marketers around the world agree that a top challenge is demonstrating return on their technology investments. It stands to reason that if their current tools are falling short in enabling the engagement that buyers expect, they are unable to deliver on their organizations’ core strategic goals. Executive leadership tends to reserve their support for initiatives that are driving a measurable impact.

With the right technology, marketers can satisfy consumer expectations, leading to better engagement, which in turn yields a higher return on marketing investments. This paves the way for executive support—and continued success.

Download The State of Engagement report for many more insights into what it means to truly engage consumers, employees and partners in the Engagement Economy.

Insights on Engagement from Consumers and Marketers

The post Introducing The State of Engagement appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog

7 Digital Marketing Strategies That Work: A Complete Guide

There’s no question that, in the modern landscape, a big part of your marketing strategy is digital. Consumers and businesses alike are almost always online — and you want to be able to reach them and observe their behavior where they spend the most time.

But when you’re growing a business, it seems like this ever-evolving landscape can quickly become overwhelming. There’s already enough to do — how are you also supposed to create, fine-tune, and maintain an agile digital marketing strategy?

We’ve compiled a list of seven digital marketing strategies that marketers can adapt to help their teams and businesses grow, as well as a crash course on the meaning of digital strategy and marketing campaigns.

Click here to download our free guide to digital marketing fundamentals.

What is Digital Strategy?

In short: Your digital marketing strategy is the series of actions that are going to help you achieve your goal(s) using online marketing. The term ‘strategy’ might seem intimidating, but building an effective digital strategy doesn’t need to be difficult.

In simple terms, a strategy is just a plan of action to achieve a desired goal, or multiple goals. For example, your overarching goal might be to generate 25% more leads via your website this year than you drove last year.

Depending on the scale of your business, your digital marketing strategy might involve multiple goals and a lot of moving parts, but coming back to this simple way of thinking about strategy can help you stay focused on meeting those objectives.

Despite our simplification of the term ‘strategy’, there’s no doubt it can be difficult to get started actually building one. Let’s see what a digital marketing campaign looks like, and then, we’ll jump into those seven building blocks to help you create an effective digital marketing strategy to set up your business for online success.

What is a Digital Marketing Campaign?

It’s easy to confuse your digital strategy with your digital marketing campaigns, but here’s how to distinguish the two.

As we’ve already outlined, your digital strategy is the series of actions you take to help you achieve your overarching marketing goal. Your digital marketing campaigns are the building blocks or actions within your strategy that move you toward meeting that goal.

For example, you might decide to run a campaign sharing some of your best-performing gated content on Twitter, to generate more leads through that channel. That campaign is part of your strategy to generate more leads.

It’s important to note that even if a campaign runs over the course of a couple of years, it doesn’t make it a strategy — it’s still a tactic that sits alongside other campaigns to form your strategy.

Now that we’ve gotten to grips with the basics of digital strategy and digital marketing campaigns, let’s dig into how to build your strategy.

How to Build a Comprehensive Digital Strategy

1) Build your buyer personas.

For any marketing strategy — offline or online — you need to know who you’re marketing to. The best digital marketing strategies are built upon detailed buyer personas, and your first step is to create them. (Need help? Start here with our free buyer persona kit.)

Buyer personas represent your ideal customer(s) and can be created by researching, surveying, and interviewing your business’s target audience. It’s important to note that this information should be based upon real data wherever possible, as making assumptions about your audience can cause your marketing strategy to take the wrong direction.

To get a rounded picture of your persona, your research pool should include a mixture of customers, prospects, and people outside your contacts database who align with your target audience.

But what kind of information should you gather for your own buyer persona(s) to inform your digital marketing strategy? That depends on your businesses, and is likely to vary depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C, or whether your product is high cost or low cost. Here are some starting points, but you’ll want to fine-tune them, depending on your particular business.

Quantitative (or Demographic) Information

  • Location. You can use web analytics tools like Google Analytics to easily identify what location your website traffic is coming from.
  • Age. Depending on your business, this may or may not be relevant. It’s best to gather this data by identifying trends in your existing prospect and customer database.
  • Income. It’s best to gather sensitive information like personal income in persona research interviews, as people might be unwilling to share it via online forms.
  • Job Title. This is something you can get a rough idea of from your existing customer base, and is most relevant for B2B companies.

Qualitative (or Psychographic) Information

  • Goals. Depending on the need your product or service was created to serve, you might already have a good idea of what goals your persona is looking to achieve. However, it’s best to cement your assumptions by speaking to customers, as well as internal sales and customer service representatives.
  • Challenges. Again, speak to customers, sales and customer service representatives to get an idea of the common problems your audience faces.
  • Hobbies and interests. Speak to customers and people who align with your target audience. If you’re a fashion brand, for example, it’s helpful to know if large segments of your audience are also interested in fitness and well-being, as that can help inform your future content creation and partnerships.
  • Priorities. Speak to customers and people who align with your target audience to find out what’s most important to them in relation to your business. For example, if you’re a B2B software company, knowing that your audience values customer support over a competitive price point is very valuable information.

Take this information and create one or more rounded personas, like Marketing Molly below, and ensure they’re at the core of your digital marketing strategy.

2) Identify your goals & the digital marketing tools you’ll need.

Your marketing goals should always be tied back to the fundamental goals of the business. For example, if your business’s goal is to increase online revenue by 20%, your goal as a marketer might be to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year to contribute towards that success.

Whatever your overarching goal is, you need to know how to measure it, and more important, actually be able to measure it (e.g., have the right digital marketing tools in place to do so). How you measure the effectiveness of your digital strategy will be different for each business and dependent on your goal(s), but it’s vital to ensure you’re able to do so, as it’s these metrics which will help you adjust your strategy in the future.

If you’re a HubSpot customer, the Reporting add-on in your HubSpot software brings all of your marketing and sales data into one place, so you can quickly determine what works and what doesn’t.


3) Evaluate your existing digital marketing channels and assets.

When considering your available digital marketing channels or assets to incorporate into your strategy, it’s helpful to first consider the bigger picture to avoid getting overwhelmed. The owned, earned, and paid media framework helps to categorize the digital ‘vehicles’, assets, or channels that you’re already using.

Owned Media

This refers to the digital assets that your brand or company owns — whether that’s your website, social media profiles, blog content, or imagery, owned channels are the things your business has complete control over. This can include some off-site content that you own, but isn’t hosted on your website, like a blog that you publish on Medium, for example.

Earned Media

Quite simply, earned media refers to the exposure you’ve earned through word-of-mouth. Whether that’s content you’ve distributed on other websites (e.g., guest posts), PR work you’ve been doing, or the customer experience you’ve delivered, earned media is the recognition you receive as a result. You can earn media by getting press mentions, positive reviews, and by other people sharing your content on social media, for instance.

Paid Media

Paid media is a bit self-explanatory in what its name suggests — and refers to any vehicle or channel that you spend money on to catch the attention of your buyer personas. This includes things like Google AdWords, paid social media posts, native advertising (like sponsored posts on other websites), and any other medium for which you directly pay in exchange for visibility.

Gather what you have, and categorize each vehicle or asset in a spreadsheet, so you have a clear picture of your existing owned, earned, and paid media.

Your digital marketing strategy might incorporate elements of all three channels, all working together to help you reach your goal. For example, you might have an owned piece of content on a landing page on your website that’s been created to help you generate leads. To amplify the number of leads that content generates, you might have made a real effort to make it shareable, meaning others are distributing it via their personal social media profiles, increasing traffic to the landing page. That’s the earned media component. To support the content’s success, you might have posted about the content to your Facebook page and have paid to have it seen by more people in your target audience.

That’s exactly how the three can work together to help you meet your goal. Of course, it’s not compulsory to use all three. If your owned and earned media are both successful, you might not need to invest in paid. It’s all about evaluating the best solution to meet your goal, and then incorporating the channels that work best for your business into your digital marketing strategy.

Now you know what’s already being used, you can start to think about what to keep and what to cut.

4) Audit and plan your owned media.

At the heart of digital marketing is your owned media, which pretty much always takes the form of content. Every message your brand broadcasts can generally be classified as content, whether it’s your ‘About Us’ page, your product descriptions, blog posts, ebooks, infographics, or social media posts. Content helps convert your website visitors into leads and customers, and helps to raise your brand’s profile online — and when it’s optimized, it can also boost any efforts you have around search/organic traffic. Whatever your goal, you’re going to need to use owned content to form your digital marketing strategy.

To build your digital marketing strategy, you need to decide what content is going to help you reach your goals. If your goal is to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year, it’s unlikely that your ‘About Us’ page is going to be included in your strategy — unless that page has somehow been a lead generation machine in the past.

It might more likely that an ebook gated by a form on your website drives far more leads, and as a result, that might be something you want to do more of. Here’s a brief process to follow to work out what owned content you need to meet your digital marketing goals:

Audit your existing content

Make a list of your existing owned content, and rank each item according to what has previously performed best in relation to your current goals. If your goal is lead generation, for example, rank them according to which generated the most leads in the last year. That might be a particular blog post, an ebook, or even a specific page on your website that’s converting well.

The idea here is to figure out what’s currently working, and what’s not, so that you can set yourself up for success when planning future content.

Identify gaps in your existing content

Based on your buyer personas, identify any gaps in the content you have. If you’re a math tutoring company and have discovered in your audience research that one of your persona’s biggest challenges is finding interesting ways to study, but you don’t have any content that speaks to that concern, then you might look to create some.

By looking at your content audit, you might discover that ebooks hosted on a certain type of landing page convert really well for you (much better than webinars, for example). In the case of this math tutoring company, you might make the decision to add an ebook about ‘how to make studying more interesting’ to your content creation plans.

Create a content creation plan

Based on your findings and the gaps you’ve identified, make a content creation plan outlining the content that’s necessary to help you hit your goals. This should include:

  • Title
  • Format
  • Goal
  • Promotional channels
  • Why you’re creating it (e.g., “Marketing Molly struggles to find time to plan her blog content, so we’re creating a template editorial calendar”)
  • Priority level (to help you decide what’s going to give you the most “bang for your buck”)

This can be a simple spreadsheet, and should also include budget information if you’re planning to outsource the content creation, or a time estimate if you’re producing it yourself.

5) Audit and plan your earned media.

Evaluating your previous earned media against your current goals can help you get an idea of where to focus your time. Look at where your traffic and leads are coming from (if that’s your goal) and rank each earned media source from most effective to least effective.

You can get this information from tools like Google Analytics, or the  Sources Reports in your HubSpot software.

You might find that a particular article you contributed to the industry press drove a lot of qualified traffic to your website, which in turn converted really well. Or, you might discover that LinkedIn is where you see most people sharing your content, which in turn drives a lot of traffic. The idea here is to build up a picture of what earned media will help you reach your goals, and what won’t, based on historical data. However, if there’s something new you want to try, don’t rule that out just because it’s not yet tried and tested.

6) Audit and plan your paid media.

This process involves much of the same process: You need to evaluate your existing paid media across each platform (e.g., Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to figure out what’s likely to help you meet your current goals.

If you’ve been spending a lot of money on AdWords and haven’t seen the results you’d hoped for, maybe it’s time to refine your approach, or scrap it altogether and focus on another platform that seems to be yielding better results. (Check out this free AdWords guide for more on how to leverage it for business.)

By the end of the process, you should have a clear idea of which paid media platforms you want to continue using, and which (if any) you’d like to remove from your strategy.

7) Bring it all together.

You’ve done the planning and the research, and you now have a solid vision of the elements that are going to make up your digital marketing strategy. Here’s what you should have so far:

  1. Clear profile(s) of your buyer persona(s)
  2. One or more marketing-specific goals
  3. An inventory of your existing owned, earned, and paid media
  4. An audit of your existing owned, earned, and paid media
  5. An owned content creation plan or wish list

Now, it’s time to bring all of it together to form a cohesive strategy document. Let’s revisit what digital strategy means: the series of actions that are going to help you achieve your goal(s) using online marketing.

By that definition, your strategy document should map out the series of actions you’re going to take to achieve your goals, based on your research to this point. A spreadsheet is an efficient format — and for the sake of consistency, you might find it easiest to map out according to the owned, earned, and paid media framework we’ve used so far.

You’ll also need to plan your strategy for a longer-term period — typically, something like 12 months is a good starting point, depending on how your business is set up. That way, you can overlay when you’ll be executing each action. For example:

  • In January, you might start a blog which will be continually updated once a week, for the entire year.
  • In March, you might launch a new ebook, accompanied by paid promotion.
  • In July, you might be preparing for your biggest business month — what do you hope to have observed at this point that will influence the content you produce to support it?
  • In September, you might plan to focus on earned media in the form of PR to drive additional traffic during the run-up.

By taking this approach, you’re also creating a structured timeline for your activity, which will help communicate your plans to your colleagues — not to mention, maybe even help keep you sane.

Your Path to Digital Marketing Strategy Success

Your strategy document will be very individual to your business, which is why it’s almost impossible for us to create a one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy template. Remember, the purpose of your strategy document is to map out the actions you’re going to take to achieve your goal over a period of time — as long as it communicates that, then you’ve nailed the basics of creating a digital strategy.

If you’re eager to learn more about this realm, and how you can build a truly effective strategy to help grow your business, check out our simple guide to digital marketing strategy.


Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing

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Four Days of Facebook: Learn How to Grow Your Facebook Audience Fast

As we approach 2018, two things about the near future of marketing are clear: the way we approach social is transforming, and messaging apps are undeniably on the rise.

Now more than ever before, having a coherent, actionable Facebook strategy to grow your business is absolutely essential. But as you probably know from experience, this is easier said than done.

Register for Four Days of Facebook and learn how to grow your audience faster than ever before

To teach you how to grow your business in the new era of social, HubSpot and Facebook are teaming up to bring you “Four Days of Facebook,” a series of live, virtual events about leveraging Facebook for ads, messaging, and so much more.

We’ve enlisted Gary Vaynerchuck, HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, and a powerhouse group of social experts from Facebook and HubSpot for a week packed with educational workshops, live talks, and more.

Each day includes a unique agenda of top-notch video content to help you navigate the rapidly changing Facebook ecosystem like a pro. You won’t find this inside knowledge anywhere else, so register now to get reminders for the event, and join us every day of the week for exciting product updates from Facebook and HubSpot — plus a few daily surprises.

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Why Your Team Needs a Growth Manager

Growth hackers…growth managers…growth marketers — startups these days are all about growth. But are these titles just different names for the same kind of job? And if you’re in the startup world, which type should you hire and why?

This article will help shine some light on one of the hottest and most lucrative jobs in the marketing field today, while taking a closer look at how to hire the right kind of person to propel your company forward. Let’s jump right in:

Growth Manager, Growth Hacker, Growth Marketer?

At their core, all of these types of jobs have a singular focus: growth — both of revenue and reach. According to Steven Walling, former Product Manager for Wikimedia, “growth” in this case is, “a shorthand term for the cycle of acquisition, activation, retention and reactivation of users or customers.”

Every company, particularly startups, attach a different meaning to these terms. But the overall concept is the same:

  • If you’re a growth manager, you balance your time between initiating and nurturing the growth of the company. The manager part of the title implies that you may also be responsible for a team.
  • “Growth hacking” is more of a mindset than a position. People who embrace this idea are not afraid to stretch boundaries and think outside the box to get results. They may be growth managers or growth marketers or basically anyone who has an experimental mind.
  • Growth marketer is more of a “catch all” phrase that refers to someone who dabbles in growth hacking, but may also leverage more traditional marketing methods as well to get the intended result.

What Does a Growth Manager Do?

Back in the early 2000s, simply having a business on the internet did a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Companies were growing at breakneck speed and having investor money thrown at them from every corner. Things were happening so fast that there was an avalanche of bad judgements, questionable decisions and weak foundations.

Even the big companies were not immune. Amazon invested in, which is now widely considered to be one of the biggest dot com failures. Some companies shut their doors, others stumbled but managed to hang on. It was simply too much of a focus on growth for growth’s sake.

Enter the growth manager.

Rather than build companies that are fueled by hype and publicity, growth managers look at data and results. They find ways to rise — sometimes aggressively so, mostly because of the “hunt or be hunted” competition online. Rather than hope that the playing field is leveled, growth managers are out there with digital tractors, making it happen.

Some of today’s most well-known companies, including Uber, Dropbox and even Google are hungry for growth managers. So what exactly do they do?

In essence, growth managers set achievable company growth goals, then set about making them happen. This can be done by way of data collection tools (like Kissmetrics) to determine a baseline for what’s happening on your site. They reach out to customers, look at trends, and ask themselves “how can we build upon this?”

But it’s not enough to simply grow, nor do you want to hoard data to go through later. Growth managers use the data they’ve collected to create customer personas, improve revenues and minimize costs and expenditures where possible.

Finding these actionable gold nuggets is, in itself, a full-time job. Having a growth manager on hand to not only sift through the data, but also get other departments such as product development, sales and marketing to work together as a cohesive unit, is a smart choice that nearly every company, especially startups, can benefit from.

What to Look For When Hiring a Growth Manager

According to Ivan Kirigin, who was an early growth manager at Dropbox, understanding both the skills and the role your growth manager will play within your company is vital to getting the best possible results with one.

Kirigin explains that there are no “silver bullets” in the world of growth marketing, so zeroing in on the most important areas of focus will help your manager and team work together more effectively and efficiently.

He continues in elaborating that, off course, hiring someone who can understand not just the alphabet soup of online marketing – like SEO, PPC, PR and CRO, is important, but so too is realizing that one person cannot do everything.

He recommends finding someone with a core layer of skills, such as a background in statistics, UX or branding, along with other helpful skills like split testing, copywriting or funnel building. Then concentrate on their specific knowledge channels, like Facebook ads, social media, PR and so forth. Here’s a helpful chart showing the different layers of expertise for a growth manager’s career.

From a skill-set perspective, understanding the different types of customer acquisition channels – including paid and owned media as well as earned media (PR, word of mouth, organic SEO) are vital to the growth manager. Knowing how to understand, filter and work with data, including visualization tools, are a definite plus, as are having strategic thinking skills. There is no real “growth manager checklist” – but using these requirements as a baseline can help you find a growth manager who is flexible as well as data-driven.

How to Help Your Growth Manager Do Their Best

Of course, simply having a growth manager on your staff won’t make magic happen. You’ll need to have proper data infrastructure in place so that they can gather the right details and craft a plan of action. Being able to accurately analyze user behavior as well as prepare and understand experiments, are crucial to growth success.

In addition, your growth manager will likely work alongside and with other departments, ranging from design and sales to engineering and marketing. Once different growth initiatives are in place, the growth manager will go back and look at the results, then course-correct or tweak campaigns and funnels as necessary.

Realize that by bringing on a growth manager, you’ll need to keep an open mind and open line of communication with them and the growth marketing team as a whole. They’ll no doubt have invaluable customer feedback and insights, including changes that should be made to the product or service, the website, and so on. They’ll operate on a mindset of deciding which tests will have the most desired results, how much of an impact will the changes have when implemented, and how much will it cost to make those changes.

Any avenue where the company can make big changes while minimizing costs and broadening brand and reach are changes that are worth prioritizing.

Have You Hired a Growth Manager? Share Your Thoughts Below!

If you’ve hired a growth manager, or you are one, we’d love your thoughts! What has your experience been like? If you’re looking to hire one, we’d welcome your questions! Share your thoughts and comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

How to Measure Social Selling to Improve ROI

Social selling can be described as the art of connecting with sales prospects and building meaningful relationships with them, typically through your brand’s chosen social media platforms, to position your business at the forefront of their mind. The CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that effective social selling sales training services could improve win rates and quota attainment by 14.9% and 10.9%, respectively. In simple terms, social selling involves using social networking sites to identify the right prospects and connect with them, establish trust, and nurture these relationships to achieve better sales performance.

In this blog, we will take a look at three ways that businesses can measure social selling to get the most from it.

1. Individual Engagement Rates

Success in social selling involves making personal contact with potential clients through social media sites and sharing interesting or useful articles, blog posts, or infographics, in an effort to build trust. As a result, one very simple social selling metric involves monitoring engagement rates for each sales rep. To measure this, you can start by looking at the number of content pieces each rep shares over a particular period of time, in order to assess their commitment. From there, engagement can be measured, providing you with an idea of each sales rep’s social media influence.

“Once your sales reps have developed a habit of sharing relevant content…start measuring the engagement of their network,” says Alex Hisaka, writing for the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog. “[Track] how many people like, comment on, and share each piece of content.”

2. Sales Training and Sales Coaching ROI

In order to maximize social selling, it is important to invest time, effort, and money in the necessary social selling training and sales coaching to encourage the most successful behaviors. Therefore, a good way to measure the effectiveness of your social selling is simply to measure your ROI on any social selling training you carry out.

However, in an article for Sales for Life, Amar Sheth, a social selling trainer, points out that it is important not to focus entirely on the financial aspect of ROI, but also on other aspects of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model:

  • ROI: Did the training investment provide a positive ROI?
  • Results: Did the training have a measurable impact on performance?
  • Impact: Did the learners’ behavior change as a result of the training?
  • Learning: Did knowledge transfer occur?
  • Satisfaction: Did the learners enjoy the training?

Unfortunately, many businesses are guilty of providing poor quality training, focusing entirely on tools like LinkedIn and failing to address necessary changes to sales processes, methodologies, and systems. This is why CSO Insights found that social selling training is ranked highly for needing improvements and major redesigns.

3. Second Degree Connections

Finally, second-degree connections provide an incredible opportunity for sales reps pursuing a social selling strategy, so it makes sense to pay attention to the number of secondary connections each rep has. This is a metric which will largely need to be self-reported, but make sure reps know to monitor it.

On LinkedIn for example, which is the most popular social selling platform, this can be done through the ‘Get Introduced’ feature. Being referred by a mutual connection makes a sales prospect five times more likely to engage with a sales rep, according to LinkedIn Sales Solutions, so this should be an area of particular interest for prospecting.

Social selling has the ability to drastically improve your sales team’s win rates. In essence, you are putting your sales team where your customers already live and turning them from Joe Salesguy into a trusted, personal connection.

How have you used social selling to increase your sales? How did you measure it? Tell me about it in the comments!

The post How to Measure Social Selling to Improve ROI appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog

What’s the Best Way to Write a Blog Post? Marketers Weigh In

I write content for the HubSpot Blog every day, and after more than a year of doing it, I like to think I have a good system.

It starts with drinking seltzer and listening to instrumental pop music, and it usually ends with a finished article. But I wondered if others might have better strategies and more efficient hacks than Polar’s Dragon Whispers seltzer and 2Cellos’ cover of “Despacito.”

So I asked the rest of my teammates about their processes — how they source ideas, and any of their hacks and tricks for putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), and getting the job done.

Unsurprisingly, I got a lot of good advice — from not allowing yourself to delete anything written during the first draft, to saving the introduction and title for last — so I wanted to open up the discussion to a larger group of marketers on

Whether you’re an experienced blogger or are just getting started, I’ve compiled suggestions for every stage of the writing process — along with some general tips for writing clearly and concisely, staying focused, and knowing when you’re done writing.

14 Helpful Blogging Tips

Sourcing Blog Post Ideas

1) Source inspiration from sites like Quora, Reddit, and

When you’re at the very beginning of the writing process and wondering what topic or idea you want to tackle, Paul Skah recommends finding out what types of questions your target audience is asking before getting started.

Sites like Quora, Reddit, and, where people ask and discuss common questions and challenges, can inspire blog post ideas. Once you have an idea of what to write about, you can choose specific keywords to target.

2) Or, ask your colleagues and peers common questions to guide your blog post’s focus.

Shauna Ward recommends finding blog post inspiration by asking members of your own team what your audience wants to know. Whether you’re targeting your blog post to attract new visitors or help convert leads, your colleagues will give you the specific guidance you’re looking for.


3) Don’t be afraid to freewrite if you have writer’s block.

My colleague Eric Peters recommends writing — about anything — if your blog post is having a slow start. In fact, morning freewriting has been recommended to improve general productivity for anyone.

Getting Started on New Posts

4) Start with a completely blank document and brain dump everything you know about a particular subject.

Caroline Cotto‘s method for starting the blog writing process is to do a brain dump — to write anything and everything you know about the subject in a blank document, and then, go back and find themes, arguments, and gaps in information to continue researching and writing about.


5) Outline blog posts with a working title and headings to guide your brainstorming and writing as you go.

HubSpotter Emma Brudner, meanwhile, believes in starting out with a bit of guidance — namely, a title and headers to organize the blog post’s content as you write.


6) Do your research first, then bullet out main points, then write it all out.

My colleague Meg Prater has a different method — starting with research. After she thoroughly researches a blog post topic, she jots down the points and facts she wants to include in bullet format, then organizes them into an outlined version of the full blog post.


7) Write your introduction once your post has evolved.

Tatiana Morand advocates for saving the first for last — the introduction. Revisiting the introduction — once you’ve worked out your arguments, main points, and body content — can help ensure it captures the reader’s attention and sets them up for the rest of the blog post.


Writing and Finishing Posts

8) Focus on clarity, not complexity.

HubSpot Marketing Blog Editor Karla Cook offered a plethora of writing advice below, but my favorite suggestion was to “focus on clarity, not complexity.”


Instead of trying to write complex sentences using technical vocabulary and multiple phrases, write so your reader can get the necessary content as efficiently as possible. And that means writing sentences that are clear, concise, and get to the point — not necessarily in the most artistic fashion. Remember, you’re writing a blog post — not a short story.

9) Write first — delete later.

My fellow HubSpot bloggers Aja Frost and Amanda Zantal-Wiener are avid believers in banning the delete key while writing the first draft of a blog post. They advise to write as much as possible, even in stream-of-consciousness style, and then to go back and delete when it comes time to edit.


10) Keep your writing process nimble. Take breaks and come back to content later if you need to.

Lydia Cockerham advises bloggers not to be afraid to take breaks or go on a writing marathon, depending on how the words and inspiration are flowing. She mixes longer and shorter writing chunks to take breaks and allow time to think and brainstorm during the process.


11) But make sure you make decent progress before stepping away from a blog post to stay motivated.

On the other hand, Ivan Kreimer suggests not stopping until you’ve finished writing a certain number of words to keep yourself motivated and to complete your blog post in good time — his threshold is 750 words.


12) Rely on multitasking to help you stay focused while writing.

Kenny Pattle uses multitasking to keep himself focused and on-track while writing blog posts — by setting 30-minute timers by completing other tasks on breaks. By planning other tasks and projects while working on a post, you can stay focused by the necessity to stay productive and get everything done.


13) If music doesn’t work for you, create your own soundtrack.

Instrumental Britney Spears just isn’t for everyone, so Ward recommends skipping the tunes and creating your own ambient noise soundtrack to keep you focused while you write if music doesn’t help you stay focused.


14) Come up with at least 5-10 title options to choose from.

Once you’ve finally finished your blog post, it’s time to get it ready for publication — and that means choosing a title. As the blog post evolves, so too does your original idea for it, and that includes your working title. Joe Goldstein recommends reviewing the finished blog post, creating as many as 10 of them, and choosing the best fit for the piece with multiple options in front of you.


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