10 Easy Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Content [Infographic]

The most effective marketers have their content strategies firing on four cylinders:

  1. Planning
  2. Content creation
  3. Content promotion
  4. Analytics

The list I just presented is the order in which effective content marketing gets done, but it’s NOT a priority list. Each tactic is vital. And they are dependent upon each other for success.

In other words, three out of four won’t do.

Put it down to fear, or laziness, or lack of knowledge, resources or tools, but number four — analytics — is the most neglected.

Need proof? Just take a look at this …

 

 

Last year, Orbit Media’s annual blogger research indicated that less than 32% of bloggers always check their analytics. If that number seems low to you, it’s actually a up a few notches from years prior.

Not good.

Content marketing metrics-phobia? Is that an actual thing?

It must be. But here’s another thing …

You can get over it. Easily. Right now. An advanced degree in statistics is not required. As the infographic below — which I developed with Orbit Media — explains: “Let’s stick the calculators in the desk drawer and look at 10 easy ways to detect if your content is cutting it.”

You’ll find no reasons to fear these simple approaches to analytics. And when you get in the habit of evaluating your content marketing efforts, you’ll also find yourself extracting the insights you need to get perpetually better.


from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/easy-ways-to-measure-the-effectiveness-of-your-content

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How to Edit Instagram Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Instagram Filters & More

Have you ever looked through your Instagram feed and wondered how some people make their photos look just so good with just a smartphone and a free app?

Whether I’m looking at mouth-watering photos posted by food brands or adorable photos of cuddly Instagram stars with four legs, I’ve had my share of photo envy.

When it comes to posting on Instagram, photo quality is everything. And if you take great photos and edit them exquisitely, I promise: you will be much closer to amassing the thousands of followers you’re hoping for.

But we have good news for you: Editing photos well on Instagram doesn’t take a whole lot of time, and it doesn’t require you using a fancy camera or software. It’s all about taking great photos and learning which filters work for which types of photos — all within the Instagram app.

In this post, we’ll help you turn unedited photos — like the one on top of a Peruvian desert — into ones that are much more compelling, like the one below:

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How To Edit Instagram Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide

1) Start with a great photo.

No amount of editing will fix a photo that wasn’t shot well in the first place. When it comes to posting something awesome on Instagram, it’s all about photo quality — and that starts with a photo that’s great even before you adjust it in the app.

You don’t need to be a photographer to take great photos for Instagram. All you really need is a smartphone and the willingness to learn some key tips for how to use it. Start by reading through these 18 tips for taking great photos with your smartphone. This blog post will teach you how to line up your shots using the rule of thirds, find perspective, and take advantage of symmetry, patterns, and more.

2) Upload your photo to Instagram.

Now that we have a photo we’re ready to work with, it’s time to upload your photo to the Instagram app. To do this, open the Instagram app and click the plus sign at the bottom center of your screen.

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From there, select the photo you’d like to edit from your photo album. By default, it’ll go into “All Photos,” but you can click the downward arrow next to “All Photos” at the top of your screen to open a particular album if your photo is located somewhere specific.

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Pro Tip: Instagram will crop your photo as a square by default, but if you want to change it to its original width, simply press the “Expand” icon (two outward facing arrows) in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo once you’ve selected it.

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Click “Next” to begin editing the photo.

4) Pick a filter.

Here’s where it gets fun. Now that you’re in editing mode in the Instagram app, the first thing you should do is pick a filter. Usually, I click through onto each and every filter, in order, and take note of which ones I like. Then, I’ll go back and forth between the ones I like until I settle on one of them. How’s that for scientific?

While slapping on a filter because it looks good is one way to do it, it is helpful to play around with each filter and get an idea of its specific purpose. From Lark to Crema to Valencia to Nashville, each filter has its own personality and hues that drastically changes the photo — not only how it looks, but how it feels. Take a look at these examples to see what I mean:

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Here are a few of my favorite Instagram filters and how they change the look and feel of a photo:

  • Lark: A filter that desaturates reds while pulling out the blues and greens in your photos, thereby intensifying it. Great for landscapes.
  • Moon: A black-and-white filter with intense shadows that’ll give your photos a vivid, vintage look.
  • Crema: A desaturated filter that gives your photos a creamy, vintage look.
  • Valencia: A filter that warms the colors of your photo, giving it kind of an antique look without washing out color completely.
  • X Pro II: A high contrast filter that makes colors pop and adds vignette edges, giving photos sort of a dramatic effect.
  • Lo-Fi: This filter adds high saturation, rich colors, and strong shadows to your photo. Great for photos of food.
  • Hefe: This filter adds a vintage look to your photos with a darker border, and the yellow tone makes landscapes appear dramatic and other-worldly.

Everyone has their favorites, so as you use Instagram for marketing more and more, keep experimenting and learning about your own filter preferences for every type of photo you take, whether they’re landscapes, close-ups, portraits, or something else.

Pro Tip: As you begin learning your filter preferences, you can reorder your filters and even hide the ones you don’t use. To do either of these things, scroll to the very far right of your filters options and click “Manage.”

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To reorder your filters, simply hold your finger down on the three grey lines on the far right of the filter you’d like to move, and drag it to reorder.

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To hide filters you don’t use, deselect them by tapping on the white check mark to the right of the filter.

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5) Adjust the lux.

The what? If you’ve ever edited a photo on Instagram, you’ve likely used the lux feature before, even if you weren’t sure what it’s called. It’s a feature that makes your photos more vibrant and brings out the smaller details.

Once you’ve selected a filter, turn lux on by tapping the sun icon above your photo:

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Then, use the slider to adjust the lux, which will adjust the contrast and saturation of your photo. I usually slide it up and down until I settle on what looks best. Tap “Done” when you’re finished and it’ll take you back to the filters page.

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6) Use the simple editing tools.

Next, open up Instagram’s simple editing tools by tapping the wrench icon below your photo on the right-hand side.

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From here, you can adjust a number of settings, including alignment, brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, highlights, shadows, and sharpness. I usually go through each setting one by one until I’ve adjusted the photo to my liking.

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To adjust each of these settings, click on the icon at the bottom of your screen, use the slider to find a “sweet spot,” and then tap “Done” when you’re done. If you adjust the slider and realize you don’t want to make any changes, simply tap “Cancel” and it’ll exit from that setting without saving any changes.

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Once you’ve made all the changes in Instagram’s tools that you’d like, click “Next” in the top right-hand corner of your screen.

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7) If you’re uploading an album on Instagram, edit each photo individually.

If you’re using Instagram’s handy new feature that allows you to upload up to 10 photos in a single album, make sure to be aware of a quirk that can come up when you start editing your photos.

Say I wanted to post not one, not two, but three photos of my adorable cat. I’d select one to upload to Instagram as usual, and then tap the album icon to select multiple photos at once:

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Choose the photos you want to use, then tap “Next:”

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You might be tempted to dive in and start picking a filter and editing from the list of filters at the bottom, but wait just a moment — because if you pick a filter from the menu below, you’ll apply it to all of your photos (shown below), and if you’ve learned anything in this blog post, it’s the importance of editing photos individually.

Tap the Venn-diagram icon in the corner of each photo to edit it individually.

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From there, you can choose a filter and edit your individual photos using the tools detailed above.

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When you’re done with one photo, tap “Done,” and you can choose another photo in your album to edit.

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8) Either post your photo immediately, or save it to post later.

At this point, you have two options.

Option 1: Post your photo immediately.

If you’re ready to post your photo now, then go ahead and post it by adding a caption, a geotag, tagging any relevant Instagram users, and clicking “Share.”

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Option 2: Save it to post later.

If you’re not ready to post it now, but you wanted to get a head start on editing it so you could post it in a pinch, then you can save the photo with the edits you made in Instagram without posting it — thanks to a little hack.

Ready? To use Instagram as a photo editor without posting anything, all you need to do is publish a picture while your phone is on airplane mode.

First, you’ll have to be sure you have “Save Original Photos” turned on in your settings.

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Then, turn on airplane mode. Here’s how to do that:

  • To turn on airplane mode on an Android device: Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then, swipe from right to left until you see “Settings,” and then touch it. Touch “Airplane Mode” to turn it on.

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  • To turn on airplane mode on an iPhone/iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click the airplane icon. Or, go to “Settings” and then “Wi-Fi,” and switch “Airplane Mode” on.

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Then, go back to your editing screen and press the “Share” button at the bottom. An error message will appear saying the upload failed, but rest assured the photo will be saved automatically to your phone’s photo gallery.

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Pro tip: If you want to edit a whole bunch of photos ahead of time so you can upload them later without much effort, one way to organize your edited photos so you can find them easily later is to add them to your “Favorites” folder on your iPhone.

To add photos to “Favorites,” you’ll need to “heart” the photo. Here’s how it works: When you’re scrolling through your photos, tap the heart icon at the bottom of your screen.

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The photo will be added to a photo album called “Favorites” in your iPhone’s folders, which you can access easily and at any time. Since Instagram doesn’t let you schedule posts in advance, this is a great place to store edited photos so you can upload them when you need them.

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And there you have it! By now, you should be able to edit your Instagram photos on a pretty basic level. For more tips and tricks to take your Instagram game to the next level, check out these 15 hidden hacks and features.

from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/edit-instagram-photos

Growth Hacking vs. Growth Mapping: What You Should Be Doing To Scale Your Business

So, you’ve tweaked your landing pages until your conversion rates can’t get any better, split tested every facet of your ad campaigns and collaborated with influencers in your niche to maximize your exposure.

What’s next?

These tactics are wonderful and can generate explosive growth, but after a while, you’ll reach a plateau.

Once your startup is a fully-fledged, profitable business, growth challenges become different. While a startup is focussed on big wins to make the cash register ring, established businesses need to think in terms of more stable, incremental forms of growth. It’s no longer about growth hacking; growth mapping has to take center stage.

This continuum of business growth can be explained using sports as an analogy.

Mixed martial arts have one of the most significant learning curves out of all sports.

In the first six months of training, you can learn the fundamentals of striking, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.

However, the longer you practice, the smaller the improvements you’ll make. Once you’re proficient at the basics, the real journey to mastery begins.

Sure, adding a spinning wheel kick to your arsenal of attacks is beneficial in the short-run, but elite level UFC fighters didn’t reach mastery by continually learning new techniques – they did it by refining their fundamentals, year after year.

Jiu-jitsu expert Demian Maia understands all facets of the game, but he didn’t start achieving spectacular results until he centered his strategy around his strongest skills: wrestling his opponents to the mat and securing a rear-naked choke. Fans often comment that his opponents know exactly what he’s going to do, yet are unable to stop it.

To achieve mastery in any discipline (especially business), tactics that provide short-term explosive growth are great – but the long game requires slower, sustainable progress.

This is the difference between growth hacking and growth mapping.

Whatever stage your business is at, consider using these growth tactics to take you to the next level.

1. Growth Tactics

Here are some non-technical growth tactics to try. These don’t require a/b tests or changing any forms to increase conversions. Instead, they’re simple tactics to test to see if they drive meaningful acquisition.

Personalized Discounts

The generic, one-size-fits-all approach to marketing is no longer applicable.

Nowadays, businesses can leverage user data to deliver more personalized, emotionally resonant messages to their users in order to maximize engagement and profits.

Email marketers have a good understanding of this. Depending on the actions people have taken in response to email campaigns, different email sequences can be fired off.

If a person opened an email promoting a webinar and attended, they might receive a sales-oriented email, whereas if they miss the webinar, their next message might be a gentle reminder of when the next webinar is available.

To take this a step further, I recommend using your analytics data to provide special deals to warm prospects. If a person has viewed a product page numerous times but hasn’t converted – there is a proven interest but something isn’t quite right.

In my experience, offering limited discounts to these users can push them over the edge and get them to convert. In this scenario, leveraging scarcity marketing in a highly personalized way can drive explosive growth.

Incentivized Referrals

Instead of pumping money into ad campaigns to acquire new customers, have you ever considered getting your existing customers to do your marketing for you?

In recent years, Dropbox and Airbnb have achieved extreme growth partially due to referral marketing. However, PayPal created the blueprint many years prior.

Initially offering $20 to new users and $20 for them to refer their friends (this was later scaled down to $10 and then $5), PayPal acquired over 100,000 users in the first month of being operational.

The bold referral program was masterminded by PayPal co-founder, Elon Musk. A consummate scientist, Musk described the viral nature of the program as “bacteria growth in a Petri dish.”

While you may not be able to spend tens of millions of dollars like PayPal did to acquire new customers, a good double-sided referral program (both the referrer and friend benefit) can stimulate tremendous growth.

If you’re not ready to create a formal referral program, consider sending your repeat customers a referral discount code via email. Since they have a positive impression of your brand (proven by repeat purchases), they’ll be happy to refer their friends to you – especially if they’re incentivized to do so.

Guest Posting

A few years back, people used guest posting for all the wrong reasons. In order to game search engines and acquire inbound links, marketers would submit sub-par content to external sites with no concern for providing value to the audience.

Fortunately, Google caught on to this unsavory practice and it’s being phased out.

However, Google is still perfectly happy for people to publish guest posts that, “inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.”

In other words, guest posting is no longer a link building game; it’s all about delivering value and long-term brand building.

As a free growth tactic, I find guest posting to be exceptionally effective. I aim to write multiple guest posts every week.

If you don’t consider yourself a particularly strong writer, you can hire a quality ghostwriter. You can expect to spend between $150-$300 per post. Make sure you find a quality guest writer that is an expert in their niche. They should have published on reputable blogs before, and are not a “jack of all trades”, meaning they can write on daycare blogs and b2b marketing blogs. Find writers that stick to one niche.

For startups, I recommend saving your best content for guest posts. This sounds counterintuitive, but guest posts will be read more than the posts on your site – so it makes sense to deliver the most value where you’re receiving the most eyeballs.

Gamification

If you’ve ever played the old school MMORPG game, Everquest, one of the most compelling features of the game’s interface was the experience bar, which would tell you how close you are to moving up to the next level.

LinkedIn use a similar gamification tactic to encourage new users to fill out their profiles.

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There is a core psychological component to gamification tactics such as progress bars.

Research indicates that the simple act of completing something, whatever it may be, leads to a release of endorphins. When the act of completion is associated with positive emotions, you’re compelled to keep completing things – which leads to a large user base for both SaaS companies and MMORPG games!

Think about how you can incorporate gamification into your user experience and you’ll reap the rewards.

Free Merchandise

In the digital era, free merchandise (a.k.a. swag) can seem like a pretty low-tech growth tactic, but this is exactly why it’s so powerful – because not many people are doing it anymore.

By handing out branded t-shirts, mouse pads, pens and other accessories, you can let your free merchandise do your marketing for you.

Counterintuitively, you don’t need a huge upfront investment.

I recommend browsing Alibaba and conversing with manufacturers. You can get your logo branded on a gigantic range of products – just shop around for the right price.

Sometimes, manufacturers will be happy to drop ship your orders, so you don’t have to hold inventory.

Instead of handing out gifts to everyone and anyone, I recommend shipping free branded accessories as rewards to customers who have a high Customer Lifetime Value (LTV).

Someone who has made repeat purchases already holds your brand in high regard, so they’re more likely to show off their free t-shirt or pen to their friends. Since they’re already a profitable customer, you’re not going to lose money on sending them a free gift – whereas you might with non-customers or one-time buyers.

Print on demand t-shirts work excellently in this scenario.

2 – Growth Mapping

Growth Scoring

Once you’ve exhausted all possible growth tactics, the first step to sustainable growth is to examine what’s working and what isn’t.

If content marketing is a core part of your company’s success, I’d recommend tracking key metrics for your campaigns.

When doing growth scoring for clients, I like to be as in-depth as possible. Before moving onto the subsequent mapping phase, I need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is the ideal blog post length in terms of generating engagement?
  • What is the ideal article title length?
  • What’s the average bounce rate and time spent on pages?
  • How many social shares are generated per post?
  • Do some types of content create more engagement than others (i.e. infographics and video posts)?
  • Do articles by certain authors perform better than others? If so, why?

Strategy Mapping

After analyzing our scores, we can tell where we should maximize our investment to get the best returns.

For instance, if infographics consistently perform better than blog posts (in my experience, they often do) – allocating additional resources to producing infographics will be beneficial in the long run.

Also at this stage, we have the opportunity to revisit highly performing blog posts and optimize them.

One of my favorite optimization tactics is to provide downloadable content upgrades at the end of these popular posts.

A content upgrade is simply a lead magnet (a checklist, eBook or other item of value that marketers trade in exchange for contact information) with one key difference: they’re contextually relevant.

If you’re a marketing agency, you might feature a lead magnet on your homepage in the form of an eBook about driving website traffic. However, if you’ve seen that an evergreen article about email marketing continually gets lots of views – you might want to provide a checklist at the end of the post describing the steps to creating a killer autoresponder sequence.

Growth mapping is all about examining the data, and then mapping out a course of action for sustainable long-term growth.

Have you used any other growth hacks that have been effective for your business? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your replies.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/growth-hacking-vs-growth-mapping/

3 Key Challenges Marketers Face & How to Overcome Them

Today’s marketer continues to face steep challenges when it comes to engaging with customers across multiple channels and touchpoints. It takes both smart marketing and the right technology to be able to listen, learn and respond to your customer at speed and with scale. Yet according to Marketo’s recently released The State of Engagement report, nearly half of the marketers surveyed (48%) said that finding the appropriate tools to enable them to engage with customers is the biggest challenge they face today.

In this blog, I’ll highlight 3 challenges marketers are facing today and marketing technology innovations that are helping them to overcome them—including some that are included in our latest product release.

Challenge #1: Engagement Doesn’t Happen Effectively Without Coordinated Data and Insights

Marketers today have access to more data than ever before. But, delivering experiences that will truly engage your customers requires you to go beyond the numbers—you’ve got to be able to translate data into actionable insights. There’s no question that it can be challenging to understand all the signals consumers share and how to leverage the data from those signals to deliver personalized, authentic messages. That’s where marketers should look to tools to help inform their strategies for deeper engagement.

For email marketers, tools like Marketo Email Insights is one way to gain insights into email performance. Using historical data, marketers can see trends in email delivery and engagement metrics and break results down by audience, content, and platform. And, in our recent release, we made several enhancements that give marketers new ways to prepare, analyze, and share email performance data— elevating it from highlighting interesting points to delivering actionable insights.

Another way marketers are leveraging data to deliver personalized experiences is through artificial intelligence (AI). The new Marketo ContentAI enables marketers to personalize interactions for broad audiences as precisely as if you were marketing to a segment of one, and it does it by using AI-powered insights to predict the best content to engage each individual. In Marketo’s summer release, new AI-based analytics provide rich insights into which of your content assets are most popular, which are trending, and how specific content pieces are performing for defined audiences (location, industry, visitor type). With machine learning tools like ContentAI powering predictive content on website, mobile, and email, your mountains of data are quickly synthesized to provide the insights needed to match the right content to the right audience for the highest possible engagement with your brand—something that simply isn’t scalable without technology.

Challenge #2: Engagement Doesn’t Happen Without Personalization

What’s the number one reason consumers don’t engage more often? The answer may surprise you.  According to Marketo’s State of Engagement research, the answer is irrelevant content. People don’t engage with brands they feel don’t speak to them. This is likely because interactions that don’t provide the right message, offer, or content, fail to deliver any meaningful value. Here’s where tools like ContentAI that I wrote about above offer tremendous value. They help marketers make sense of their content engagement data and choose the best assets to use to target individuals across segments. With AI-recommended content to help drive higher engagement, marketers must ensure they’re equipped with the right tools that enable them to deliver relevant content to each individual at the right time and in the right place, at scale.

And because websites are a main point of interaction between prospects and content, it’s not surprising that tools like Marketo Web Personalization are rapidly becoming a priority for marketers seeking to deliver a deeply personalized experience with individuals in real-time. Offering up personalized messaging, content, and offers based on firmographic, demographic, and behavioral data is a powerful way for marketers to ensure site visitors are always met with an engaging experience on the web. Why is this critical? When it comes to audience attention, according to a study by eMarketer, 83% of B2B buyers say company websites are the most popular channel for online research. Based on our research in The State of Engagement, more than 60% of consumers (both B2B and B2C) expect all of their interactions with brands to be personalized.

In our Q3 release, we’re giving marketers even more ways to deliver a personalized experience with more flexible personalization campaigns. As a marketer, you know your audience and what works for your business best, and so we’ve made it easier than ever to preview web personalization campaigns to see what they will look like across different devices. Now, there are even more ways to trigger campaigns based on a visitor’s activity like time spent on a page or specific movements on the page. All of these enhancements were designed specifically to help marketers present relevant content for a more personalized engaging experience every time.

Challenge #3: Engagement doesn’t happen in silos

In a world where every experience matters, siloed, unconnected teams are failing to create real connections with buyers and customers. For most, the real challenge is working cross-functionally to unite all customer-facing teams around the customer experience. To win in the Engagement Economy, two teams that have to work in lockstep are Sales and Marketing. These teams not only need to align on processes, but they have to truly partner around all aspects of the customer’s experience with the brand. But, without the right tools to support this relationship, that partnership can be a real challenge.

Successful companies are seeing Sales using more messaging and tools from Marketing and Marketing developing more playbooks to guide the Sales process—partnering to engage buyers across all phases of the customer experience. Sales Engagement tools, like Marketo ToutApp, help to bring these two teams together. Through digital playbooks, proven content, and engagement analytics, Marketo ToutApp focuses your Marketing and Sales teams on driving more predictable pipeline and revenue growth. And recent enhancements to Marketo ToutApp in our Summer release make it easier than ever for marketers to categorize and share content, so Sales has the right messaging and content to close more deals.

Overcoming the challenges

As marketers face the challenges and hurdles of an ever-evolving landscape, technology is more important than ever to create authentic customer experiences. Today’s marketer has access to an expanding technology arsenal to turn data into insights, to personalize at scale for segments of one, and to focus the combined power of Sales and Marketing on the customer experience. Today, success depends not only on the tools but how they come together in a unified marketing platform. One that enables marketers to listen, learn, and engage at scale to create the types of personalized experiences consumers demand.

How do you see marketers winning with technology today?

The post 3 Key Challenges Marketers Face & How to Overcome Them appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/10/3-key-challenges-marketers-face-overcome.html

How to Write Well: 10 Timeless Rules From Legendary Ad Exec David Ogilvy

Writing is easy. Most people can do it. If you’re reading this, you can write.

But can you write well? Does your writing connect with people? Does it engage readers, compelling them down the page? Does your writing inspire action, selling things or services or ideas?

If so, you have a potent skill at your disposal: you can command attention, a valuable commodity. More importantly, you can influence free will.

David Ogilvy, the creative force behind Ogilvy & Mather, understood this. He respected the potential of good writing.

The Memo

“The better you write, the higher you will go,” Ogilvy wrote in a memo to his management team. “People who think well, write well.”

The note, drafted in 1982, later appeared in The Unpublished David Ogilvy, a collection of incisive letters and speeches by the man hailed as “The Father of Advertising.”

“Good writing is not a natural gift,” he writes. “You have to learn to write well.”

How to Write Well

He closed out the memo with “10 hints” that anyone could apply to make their writing better.

I’ve transcribed his suggestions below, along with some modern context:

1) “Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.”

Full disclosure: Kenneth Roman, Joel Raphaelson, and David Ogilvy were cronies. In fact, Roman served as the agency’s CEO, which explains the front-and-center mention of his book. That said, it’s still a great business-writing resource.

Aside from the knowledge you’ll glean from Writing That Works, reading it over and over and over will acquaint you with the voice, tone, and style of two excellent writers. The more good writing you read, the more good you’ll internalize. The more good you internalize from others, the easier it’ll be to spot and correct the bad in your own writing.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is the product of prolific reading.

How to read more:

Ryan Holiday, an author and media strategist, offers some advice here: change your mindset.

“Stop thinking of it as some activity that you do,” writes Holiday. “Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.”

Holiday cites three main barriers that keep people from reading:

Time: “Carry a book with you at all times. Every time you get a second, crack it open.”

Money: “Reading is not a luxury … It’s a necessity … Books are an investment.”

Purpose: “The purpose of reading is not just raw knowledge. It’s that it is part of the human experience. It helps you find meaning, understand yourself, and makes your life better.”

If you want to read more, make it a priority.

2) “Write the way you talk. Naturally.”

Ogilvy, by all accounts, was down to earth, cool.

“His latest book is called Ogilvy on Advertising. Please welcome, David Ogilvy!” said David Letterman in a 1983 Late Night interview. He reached across the table to shake his guest’s hand. Ogilvy shook back without a word.

“The book is very informative,” said Letterman. “Anyone interested in a career in advertising should certainly do themselves a favor and take a look at that thing.”

Ogilvy broke his silence. “Damn right,” he said.

Ogilvy wrote like he spoke, naturally, which enabled his success as a copywriter.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is informal.

How to write informally:

Unless you’re writing a legal document, feel free to relax your tone. Use:

  • Active voice: “We have noticed that …” vs. “It has been noticed that …”
  • Contractions: “can’t” vs. “can not”
  • Abbreviations: “t.v.” vs. “television”
  • Colloquialisms: “kids” vs. “children”

Informal writing is less cumbersome, easier to read.

3) “Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.”

Reading is hard, you know. It takes energy and concentration and time, all finite resources.

Dense, long-winded writing that meets the intrinsic needs of the author, rather than the extrinsic needs of the reader, won’t get read. Writing should deliver value, quickly, to the audience. The author’s personal satisfaction is irrelevant.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing gets to the point.

How to write concisely:

Concise writing boils down to:

  • Awareness: your ability to recognize wordiness
  • Discipline: your willingness to cut unnecessary words

These six exercises will help you do both.

4) “Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.”

It’s true, big words make writers sound snobbish and conceited. What’s worse, they run the risk of confusing the reader, making her feel foolish, detaching her from the message.

As a writer, you have only a small window to capture attention. Don’t narrow it even more by using obscure words.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is immediately understood.

How to write coherently:

Cut your risk. Use words even a child can understand. For example, instead of:

  • Reconceptualize, write “rethink”
  • Demassification, write “breakup”
  • Attitudinally, write “with attitude”
  • Judgmentally, write “with judgement”

Need help with word choice? Use Hemingway Editor.

5) “Never write more than two pages on any subject.”

Take this one with a grain of salt. While “two pages” is subjective, Ogilvy’s point is clear: never write more than is necessary on any subject.

In other words, if you can abridge an explanation without diluting the concept behind it, do it.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing simplifies complicated information.

How to simplify a concept:

The Big Short, an Oscar-winning film about the 2008 housing collapse, was almost never made because the subject matter was too technical for a lay audience. Mortgage bonds; credit default swaps; collateralized debt obligations: all these concepts required explanation …

How did the producers make it work? Cameos and stories.

Anytime a complicated concept was introduced, a celebrity would appear, armed with a quick story. What made these stories so effective and efficient at educating audiences?

Shawn Callahan, founder of Anecdote, cites several key elements

  • Familiarity: The stories were told by famous people, like Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, and Richard Thaler, a renown economist.
  • Plausibility: The stories were credible, thanks to Thaler’s presence.
  • Relatability: The stories took place in recognizable settings, like a casino or a kitchen.

Finally, the stories were metaphorical, drawing parallels between the housing crisis and losing a blackjack hand, for instance.

“If you need to explain something that is complex or highly technical to an audience that might not understand it,” writes Callahan, “then tell them a hypothetical story based on something they do understand, something that’s relatable. And pick someone to deliver the message who is familiar to the audience, someone who is like them and also has credibility.”

6) “Check your quotations.”

Take this one literally. As a writer, the information you distribute commands public perception over ideas and events and individuals. It’s a tremendous responsibility.

In the age of self-publishing and Fake News, an author’s integrity is paramount. Check your quotes, your facts. Readers are depending on you, trusting you.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing has integrity.

How to maintain your integrity:

Let your conscience be your guide.

7) “Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.”

Communication rarely comes out right on the first go, especially when it’s written.

You wouldn’t give a presentation without a dry run, so why send an email or publish an article without an edit? Sure, the writing makes sense to you, the author. But only because you’re so close to it: your perspective is shot.

Distancing yourself from the work is the only way to regain objectivity, ensuring your message makes sense.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is clear.

How to write clearly:

Richard Lanham, an English professor at the University of California, developed a system called The Paramedic Method. It’s designed to help writers clarify their sentences with a simple, two-step process:

STEP ONE: Identify the problems in a sentence.

  • Underline prepositions (e.g., about, to, in, across)
  • Circle forms of the word “be” (e.g., is, am, are, were, was)
  • Box verbs (e.g., run, hide, jump; running, hiding, jumping)
  • Highlight the person or thing performing the action
  • Bracket wind-up explanations
  • Cross out redundancies

STEP TWO: Fix the problems you found.

  • Rewrite or delete unnecessary prepositional phrases
  • Replace forms of “be” with action verbs
  • Put the action in the verb
  • Put the person or thing performing the action into the subject
  • Delete unnecessary wind-up explanations
  • Eliminate redundancies

Lanham’s method streamlines the editing process. For more context and examples, click here.

8) “If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.”

As far as I’m concerned, if your name is on it, it’s important. After all, your writing speaks for you long after you part with it. In that sense, every word counts towards your reputation, your legacy.

With so much on the line, you should have an insurance policy.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing needs an editor.

How to find an editor:

You could ask a coworker to lend a fresh perspective, like Ogilvy suggests. But you have other options, too. It’s not 1982; leverage the internet. Try:

  • Reddit: Post your content in a relevant sub-reddit.
  • Twitter: Tweet your content at a writer you admire.
  • Inbound.org: “When you can’t just tap someone expert on the shoulder, turn to the inbound.org community to help and be helped.”

As long as you’re polite, tactful, and appreciative, someone will give you their time. But you have to ask.

9) “Before you send your letter or memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.”

Business writing, specifically, always needs a goal.

Whether it’s soft (e.g., influencing a general belief) or hard (e.g., driving a specific action), a goal will focus your message, making it more cohesive, not to mention easier to write. Moreover, nobody wants to invest their professional time reading a dead-end message, one that leaves them thinking, What now?

TAKEAWAY: Good (business) writing has purpose.

How to give your writing purpose:

What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to:

  • Inform, driving home the features?
  • Influence, driving home the benefits?
  • Entertain, driving home the brand?

To know for sure, write your call-to-action first. This will give your writing direction, funneling every subhead, paragraph, and sentence towards the same point.

10) “If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

In business, nothing is more intimate than a smile and a handshake, a pat on the back. Writing is void of these elements. Even the best writing can’t replicate human interaction, the sensation of being face-to-face.

People are irrational. We like to think we operate logically, but emotions are what ultimately move us. And while reading words can be a powerful experience, nothing replaces eye contact.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing, sometimes, doesn’t work.

How to avoid writing:

Ogilvy said it best: don’t write. Get in front of the person. Get on:

  • Skype
  • FaceTime
  • A plane

And if you’re down the hall from the person, walk to them. They’ll appreciate it. And you’ll be in a better position to get what you want.

“Good writing is not a natural gift,” wrote Ogilvy.

“You have to learn to write well.”

Now, you have his advice. The rest is up to you.

New Call-to-action

from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-well-timeless-rules-david-ogilvy

What Is Whitespace? 9 Websites to Inspire Your Web Design

Empty space is not always wasted space.

In fact, when it comes to web design, it’s a best practice to give your content a little breathing room.

Today’s website visitors are content-scanners. They scroll quickly, skim posts, and get distracted by busy layouts trying to accomplish too much. The key to getting your visitors’ undivided attention is simplicity — and that starts with an effective use of whitespace.

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at why whitespace matters, what it means for conversion-driven web design, and how eight websites are using whitespace to lead their visitors towards the desired action.

What Is Whitespace?

Whitespace is the negative areas in any composition. It’s the unmarked distance between different elements that gives viewers some visual breaks when they process design, minimizing distractions and making it easier to focus.

Intentionally blank areas aren’t just aesthetically pleasing — they actually have a big impact on how our brains take in and process new material. Too much information or visual data crammed into a small, busy space can cause cognitive fatigue, and our brains have difficulty absorbing anything at all. It’s information overload at its very worst.

Why We Need Whitespace

To understand the importance of whitespace, think about how difficult it is for your brain to process an entire page from the phone book or white pages. All those columns of teeny tiny text get squished together into one indigestible chunk of information, and it can be a real challenge to find what you’re looking for.

While phone books are designed to display maximum information in minimum space, the majority of print layouts are created to be more easily understood — thanks to whitespace.

To illustrate how effective whitespace is at helping our brains process information in print, check out the example below from Digital Ink:

See the difference? The layout on the left uses the vast majority of available space, but it looks crowded and severe — not exactly something you’d feel comfortable staring at for a long time to read.

In contrast, the layout on the right uses wider columns and more distance between paragraphs. It’s a simple design shift that has a major impact on making the article look more approachable and readable.

In addition to making layouts easier to understand, whitespace can also place emphasis on specific elements, helping the viewer understand what they should focus on. Using whitespace to break up a layout and group particular things together helps create a sense of balance and sophistication.

Take a look at this business card example from Printwand:

The business card on the left does include negative space, but the elements are still crammed into one area, making the whole card look cluttered and unprofessional. The card on the right uses whitespace to a better effect, spacing the individual elements out so the composition is easier to make sense of.

When it comes to designing websites, whitespace is crucial — not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a conversion optimization perspective. Using whitespace effectively can make your website more easily navigable, comprehensible, and conversion-friendly, directing users more smoothly to call-to-actions and encouraging them to convert.

In fact, classic research by Human Factors International found that using whitespace to highlight or emphasize important elements on a website increased visitor comprehension by almost 20%.

Just take a look at these two website layouts:

On the left, the call-to-action button has no room to breathe — it’s wedged between busy dividers and tightly packed text. There’s too much distraction around the button, making it difficult for visitors to focus on what matters.

On the right, the call-to-action has been padded with some much-needed whitespace. The button now appears to be a focal point on the page, encouraging visitors to stop and take notice.

You’ll notice that adding some whitespace around our call-to-action has caused some of the other content on the page to be pushed down — and that’s perfectly okay. Not everything has to be above the fold (the part of the website that appears before the user starts to scroll). In fact, designers shouldn’t try to stuff a ton of content before the fold of the page, since it will end up looking cluttered and overwhelming.

9 Websites Using Whitespace Marketing to Their Advantage

1) Shopify

The homepage for ecommerce platform Shopify has a simple objective: Get visitors to sign up for a free trial.

To direct users to this action, they’ve surrounded their one-field sign-up form with plenty of whitespace, minimizing distractions and ensuring visitors can’t miss it. The site’s main navigation is displayed much smaller than the form text, and placed out of the way at the top of the screen to avoid taking attention away from the central form.

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2) Everlane

Whitespace doesn’t have to mean the complete absence of color or pictures — it means making sure page elements are generously and strategically spaced to avoid overwhelming or confusing your visitors.

To show off its latest clothing collection, fashion retailer Everlane opts for a minimal set up: The full page background shows off a photograph of its “GoWeave” blazer, and a small, expertly placed call-to-action appears in the center of the screen, encouraging users to click and “shop now.” It’s a perfect example of leading users towards an action without being pushy or aggressive. 

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3) Wistia

Using whitespace strategically can be as easy as making sure your forms and call-to-action buttons are noticeably separated from the rest of your content. This simple change makes a huge difference in how your content is perceived. 

Wistia, a video platform, anchors their homepage with a friendly question and a drop-down form. The two central CTA buttons serve as the central focal point(s) of the whole page, and it’s given plenty of space to set it apart from the site’s main navigation and image.

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4) Welikesmall

Digital agency Welikesmall proves that whitespace doesn’t have to be boring, empty, or even static. Their homepage displays a fullscreen demo reel of their recent video projects, filtering through a variety of exciting vignettes to immediately capture the visitor’s attention. 

Full-screen video in any other context could seem busy and aggressive, but since the layout is designed with generous whitespace, it looks polished. With all the focus on the video background, the text is kept minimal. The agency’s logo appears in one corner, and a folded hamburger style menu appears in the other. Welikesmall’s slogan — “Belief in the Making” — is fixed in the center of the screen, along with a call-to-action button linking to the agency’s full 2016 demo reel.  

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5) Simpla

This homepage from Simpla demonstrates the power that a relatively empty above the fold section can have. This simple, decidedly minimal homepage uses whitespace to urge users to keep scrolling.

Beneath the logo and navigation, a large portion of the site has been left unmarked. The top of a photo — along with a short paragraph of text and an arrow — invites visitors to keep reading to learn more about the company and their mission.

This unique use of whitespace not only looks sophisticated, but it strategically draws visitors further into the site. 

6) Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums might be known for displaying antiquated paintings, but their homepage is decidedly modern. The whitespace here provides the perfect backdrop for the featured art, making sure that nothing distracts from the pieces themselves. It’s about as close to a digital art exhibition as you can get. 

The masonry-style layout gives the user a reason to keep scrolling, and also ensures that none of the images are crowded together. To maintain the minimal gallery aesthetic, the site’s navigation is completely hidden until the user hovers their mouse towards the top of the page.

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7) Burnkit

When working with whitespace on your homepage, you’ll have to make some tough decisions about what’s important enough to display, since there’s less room for a pile of cluttered content. This design agency shows us that you can display a wide variety of content in a minimal layout, without squishing things together and muddying the composition. 

Burnkit‘s homepage features blog content, key excerpts from the agency’s portfolio of client work, and behind-the-scenes looks at the agency’s culture. So how did they manage to fit so much onto one page without overwhelming the visitor? Whitespace. Lots and lots of whitespace. Each article is given generous padding, and the user can keep scrolling to reveal new material. 

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8) Medium

Medium cleverly uses whitespace to get readers to keep scrolling further down the page by enticing them with notes showing how many people have “clapped” for a post, how many people have commented on it, and what related content is next on the docket for them to read.

The whitespace pushes the reader to look at the center column of their screen, featuring a compelling title and cover photo — and uses social proof to show readers why they should keep scrolling.

medium-whitespace.png

10) Ahrefs

Ahrefs‘ website is another example of whitespace that decidedly isn’t white, and its homepage uses both whitespace and text formatting to focus the visitor’s eyes on the glowing orange button — to start their free trial.

In bold, large font, Ahrefs offers its software’s value proposition, and in smaller, center-justified text, it uses whitespace to guide the viewer to click the CTA button. Smart, right?

ahrefs-whitespace.png

from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/whitespace-web-design

Measure Twice, Cut Once: The Reason Why All Those Marketing Tactics Keep Failing

Tactics don’t necessarily fail because they’re bad.

They fail because of the context around them.

The customer segment was off. The timing was bad. Or the attempt was half-assed.

It all works. SEO works. Facebook ads work. Conversion optimization works.

But the degree to which they deliver depends wildly on other factors.

And the only way to ensure success is to get those things right, first, before jumping head-first into the tactics.

Here’s how to do the hard work, up-front, to make sure your next campaign goes off without a hitch.

Facebook ads “don’t work”

You can’t browse the interwebs without running into a new shiny hack. A brand new strategy or tactic to implement.

So you ditch the to-do list. You push off the important. You bend to the urgent. (Or at least, that which faintly resembles the urgent.)

You try the new hack. You invest hours that don’t exist and money that you don’t have.

You follow the “Launch Plan” from influencer XYZ to a T. Literally: Every. Single. Thing.

And then?

It falls flat. It works, but not enough. It produces, but not enough.

Seth Godin published Meatball Sundae in 2007. A decade ago.

Strange title, right? There’s a reason behind it:

“People treat the New Marketing like a kid with a twenty-dollar bill at an ice cream parlor. They keep wanting to add more stuff—more candy bits and sprinkles and cream and cherries. The dream is simple: ‘If we can just add enough of [today’s hot topping], everything will take care of itself.’”

Except, as you’re already all too familiar, that’s not how it works in the real world:

“Most of the time, despite all the hype, organizations fail when they try to use this scattershot approach. They fail to get buzz or traffic or noise or sales. Organizations don’t fail because the Web and the New Marketing don’t work. They fail because the Web and the New Marketing work only when applied to the right organization. New Media makes a promise to the consumer. If the organization is unable to keep that promise, then it fails.”

It’s the context, not the tactics.

We aren’t talking about 1960’s advertising. We can’t run ads in a vacuum and shape the public’s opinion.

There’s a lot of other things at stake. There’s a lot of other aspects to consider.

Facebook advertising is one of the best examples because it’s surprisingly complex and nuanced. You can’t just throw up a one-and-done campaign to see revenue pour in overnight.

That’s why it’s a waste of money according to popular opinion.

68 million people can’t be wrong… can they? (How many people voted last year again?)

Let’s click through a few of these to pull out the real gems:

“Facebook’s stock tanked after the IPO for one singular reason. Their advertising model does not work well. Most people who’ve advertised on Facebook, including myself, have been disappointed.”

Um. Ok.

“In that case, not only has Facebook and other digital technology killed ad creativity, it’s also killed ad effectiveness.”

I’m not even sure what that means.

Ok. Well, please, nobody tell Spearmint Love that Facebook ads don’t work. Because they just posted a 1,100% revenue increase last year using… Facebook ads.

Now, it wasn’t all rainbows, sunshine, and unicorns for them. They ran into problems, too.

It took six months for them to figure out one of the reasons their campaigns were stalling. It was simple and right in front of them the entire time.

Kids grow up.

Which means baby-related ads only work for so long with a particular cohort, before it’s time to refresh, update, and move along.

Again — the underlying issue was the market, the people, the life stage. Not the tactic.

They adapted. They went upstream. They followed customers as they naturally evolved.

So, no. “Boosting” posts endlessly doesn’t work. Buying likes doesn’t work, either. Not by themselves, obviously.

Likes, impressions, and fans don’t pay the bills. Leads and customers do.

That holds true regardless of which advertising medium we’re discussing: TV, radio, billboards, Google, Facebook, or otherwise.

You need a customer acquisition machine on Facebook. Simultaneous campaigns running in parallel. One building the attention and awareness for the next. Another nurturing those and presenting different enticing offers. Only after the foreplay can you get down to business.

Yet, that doesn’t happen. At least, not as often as it should. Which leads to… “It doesn’t work.”

This is far from the only scenario. This same issue pops up over and over again.

It even applies to the proposed Facebook solution you’re putting in place.

Custom audiences aren’t segmented

Facebook might not have the same level of user intent that AdWords does.

However, they do have custom audiences.

These dynamically-generated audiences can help you laser-target campaigns to skyrocket results. (Or, at least, push unprofitable ones past break-even.)

They allow you to run retargeting campaigns on steroids. You can overlay demographic and interest-based data with past user behavior, so you can accurately predict what someone wants next.

Custom audiences help increase your Relevancy Score, which in turn, lowers your Cost Per Click while also increasing your Click-Through Rate.

Image Source

Awesome, right?

So what could possibly be the problem?

Too often, your custom audiences aren’t custom enough.

Let’s talk about your business. How many products and services do you sell?

Now, how many of those do you sell to different customer segments or personas?

Imagine a simple matrix:

The possibilities might double or triple as you add each new variation. Exponentially.

It’s not my place to tell you that such a business model is too complicated. It is, however, to say that you’ve just made your ad campaigns infinitely more difficult.

Because this matrix doesn’t even take into account the funnel stage or intent level each audience has for each product. So we can add another layer of complexity here.

Let’s say you have a custom audience set up for past website visitors to your site. Fine.

However, in that one “custom audience” you’re lumping together all of these personas and products.

In other words, it’s segmented. Barely. A little bit. But not good enough.

The trick is to think through each possible variation and have your customers help you.

For example, the services page from Work the System segments you into two groups right off the bat:

Now, subsequent retargeting campaigns can use the right ad creative. The one that talks about the unique pain points of an online business (like remote workers) vs. that of the brick-and-mortar variety (like local hiring).

See? Everything is (or should be) different.

You can even do this on pricing pages.

For example, Credo names each plan for a different audience:

You segment product features based on personas. So why not your ad campaigns?

Agencies have more fixed expenses than freelancers. Therefore, their project minimums will be higher. Their goals are also in growing and managing a team vs. doing the work themselves.

They’re similar once again. But vastly different when you get down into the weeds.

MarketingExperiments.com worked with a medical company on a similar issue. Simply rewriting collateral pieces for a specific segment (as opposed to a nameless, faceless audience) increased CTR by 49.5%.

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Another trick you can try is including different ‘paths’ for each potential problem (and your service that lines up with it.)

So you send out a re-engagement email campaign with links to content pieces for each. Then you see who clicks what.

And then you sync your email data with custom audiences to add these people to the right destination.

Follow any of these recommendations (or better yet, use them together), and you’ll get custom audiences that are, in fact, custom.

It also means you’ll have about 3-4 times the number of custom audiences and campaigns running at any given time.

But it means you’ll have a better shot at success. And at getting Facebook ads to “work.”

All because you put in the proper work ahead of time.

Conversion tracking is off (or non-existent)

People think data is honest.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Data lies more than we care to admit.

Case in point: Conversions.

WTF is a “conversion” these days, anyway?

An email subscriber? A marketing-qualified lead? A sales-qualified lead? A one-off customer? A repeat customer? A high LTV customer?

Sometimes, it’s none of those things.

Years ago, I worked on a new client’s ad account.

The Conversion Rate column inside AdWords showed totals over 100%.

Now, obviously, I know that I’m dashing and brilliant and debonair. But not that much.

Because technically that’s impossible.

So we looked at it for only a few seconds to realize what was happening.

In almost every case, the Conversions total was equal to or more than the Clicks one.

That ain’t good. Here’s why.

Problem #1. It looks like we’re tracking clicks to the landing page as conversions.

Except, their goal wasn’t even a form fills opt-in. It was phone calls.

They anecdotally told me that phone numbers brought in better customers who also converted faster.

Ok, cool. Unfortunately, though, there was another issue.

Problem #2. No call tracking was set up, either.

So the phone rang. Constantly. Several times an hour. And yet PPC got no credit. Despite the fact that PPC probably drove an overwhelming number of the calls (based on the data we saw earlier.)

This client was primarily running classic bottom-of-the-funnel search ads. No display. So the peeps calling were converting. We just had no idea who was or why they were.

This creates a cascading effect of problems.

It meant that there was no historical conversion tracking data to use to draw insights. We literally had no idea which campaigns were converting the best or even which keywords outperformed others.

rabbit out of hat gif

But wait, because it’s about to get worse.

Problem #3. Aggregate numbers of leads to closed customers was being tracked in Excel.

In other words, X leads from Y campaign turned into customers this month.

Obviously, that’s not ideal. We couldn’t even track PPC leads accurately because of the issues above.

But from there, nobody could see that customer John Smith who converted on Wednesday spent $5,000 and came from Campaign XYZ.

Their “industry specialized CRM software” (read: sh!t) didn’t have an API.

A dude from the “industry-specific CRM” company gave me the following response: “We do not allow for any attempts to manipulate data in the database. Any attempts to do so would cause errors and result in data corruption.”

Which meant that even if we fixed all of these other problems, there was no way for us to pass data back and forth when PPC leads did, in fact, turn into paying customers.

So.

We’re blindly spending dizzying amounts of money. Daily.

And yet, somehow we’re supposed to come in and start driving new customers ASAP?

Without any idea of what’s currently happening, what happened previously, or even what we’re supposed to be optimizing in the first place?

via GIPHY

I’ll spare you the boring details. It involved months of going backward to fix various tracking problems (none of which we scoped or billed correctly beforehand #agencylife.)

We basically did everything imaginable.

Except our job.

We designed and created new landing pages so we could use form fields to track and painstakingly set up call tracking on every single landing page. Then we went so far as to create a process for their internal team to manually reconcile these data points each month and figure out how many customers were finally coming from PPC.

Then after we stopped working together, they undid all of the call tracking work we set up. Because: clients.

</end rant>

The point is, no tactic in the world can make up for this scenario.

Yes, SKAGs are good. Geo-targeting is good. Day-parting is fine, too.

But none of it matters if you can’t address the underlying issues. Otherwise, you’re just flying blind.

Not just a single goal inside Google Analytics. But many. Multiple. At different stages. For different personas. For different products/services.

Which always never happens.

First, create a good-old Google Analytics goal. You know, create a ‘thank you’ page, redirect opt-in users there, etc.

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More than one persona? Create more than one landing page and form. Message match from the last section helps you keep this all straight.

Then go back into AdWords and create new goals there, too.

The key is to set up the script properly on the new thank you page, and not the landing page. Otherwise, you’ll run into the issue we saw earlier (tracking clicks instead of opt-ins.)

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Last but not least, noindex and nofollow the thank you page. Because the last thing you can afford now is for people to find this page from Google, bypass your form, and distort your data.

But wait… what about the initial problem? Phone calls!

We can’t let those go untracked, either. Unfortunately, both Google Analytics and AdWords fail us here. (You can track them as Events, but you’ll still only get aggregate data at best.)

Unless… you hook up another tool like CallRail to swap out your web and landing page numbers. Then you can add a ‘swap target’ to destination phone numbers. It will give each visitor a new number so it can appropriately track all calls.

However… that means you’ll have to go back and append your AdWords and Analytics goals so that they pass the appropriate referral data.

You want to see which AdWords campaign, ad, and keyword delivered each lead.

Only then can you make tactical, day-to-day changes with any certainty.

This OCD-level tracking changes everything.

For example, if you know that a customer is worth $1,000/mo over 12 months and the cost per acquisition is only $200… you can afford to bid up the Cost Per Click aggressively.

Yes, you might pay more in the interim. But you’ll also make more in the long-run.

Context changes everything. But only if you see the entire picture.

Conclusion

All tactics work to one degree or another.

Some might be more appropriate for a particular company. LinkedIn ads, say, would be better for a recruiting company than a baby blog.

However, beyond the obvious, there are margins for error.

Those margins get worryingly large when you’re neglecting to take context into account.

Tactics are good, but they’re not miracle workers. What worked for one person on one site at one particular time will almost certainly not work the same for you.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad, you were wrong, or you suck.

It just means there were other factors you neglected to take into account. And it’s why copy/pasting tactical roadmaps or launch plans often falls flat.

The more time you spend doing the hard, boring stuff to get a better handle on your scenario, the better your probability of success gets.

And the more lucrative those changes can become.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/why-marketing-tactics-keep-failing/