Month: November 2014

3 Missed Opportunities: Lead Nurturing to Maximize Conversions


Lead generation is a tricky thing to get right. And if you’re not doing a great job of nurturing those new leads through to a purchase, your efforts will all have been in vain anyways. There are many tried and true ways to keep your leads interested and engaged, and hopefully your marketing and sales teams are already on top of them.

lead nurturing

So where is there room for improvement in your sales funnel and lead nurturing program? Only a thorough examination of your analytics, CRM system and sales figures will truly tell you what personalized steps you should be taking to maximize the number of new leads who make it through to a purchase. But there are several trouble spots in the lead nurturing process that most businesses struggle with, so you can start there.

These missed opportunities can cause you to lose a lead forever – whereas handling it in the right way can earn you a loyal customer instead. Maximize conversions with proactive steps and hands-on management of the sales funnel for all your leads. Look out for these opportunities to connect with leads, and don’t miss them when they come around.

1.  Abandoned Shopping Carts

I’m an expert on these because I abandon shopping carts myself – a lot. Many times a week, probably. I blame a lack of commitment combined with the sticker shock that comes with seeing the final total after shipping and taxes are added in. It’s not a social experiment, but I have to admit I’m always curious to see how the business in question will handle it, if at all.

If you’ve ever abandoned your shopping cart before clicking the Place Order button, then you probably know the answer to this one: most businesses don’t do anything about it. Since you are likely browsing their webshop as a guest (i.e. not signed in to an account associated with an email address), the business generally has no way to contact you. For many, the only recourse for following up is through retargeting, which we’ll get to later in this blog.

Related Class: Demand Generation: Email Marketing Messaging Best Practices

The businesses that stand out to me are the ones that have the ability to follow through, and act on it. Today I got an email from a site I browsed recently, with the subject line “Your cart misses you.” In the email were tempting images of the items I had considered purchasing, along with the clincher: a voucher code for $15 off my purchase if I act soon. This is a smart move no matter what type of business you’re running. If you have the ability to contact shoppers after they abandon a cart, use it. You might lose a little on your profit margin by offering a discount or free shipping, but otherwise it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to lose the whole sale.

2.  Shoppers Who Browse and Leave

Any eCommerce business is likely to see a lot of these users; they come to your webshop, look at a few products, and take off without purchasing. This is an opportunity that is very often missed since, as I said above, you don’t have an email address to contact them. But you can still follow up with them in a different way.

Related Class: How to Set Up Social and Display Retargeting

Retargeting is essentially pinpointing those users who have visited your site, and getting relevant online ads in front of them. With the right tracking technology, or the help of third party agency, you can automate ads to be for exactly what that user was looking at or searching for. Did they browse your site and click on a few winter jackets? Did they search your site for the term “down parka”? With retargeting, you can show them ads of jackets they considered, and other items that seem very relevant to their needs. It’s generally said that only 2% of online shoppers buy at first sight; retargeting is designed to get the other 98% to come back to your site for a second look (and hopefully a purchase!).

3.  Leads with Little Information to Support Them

Unless you have a business that sells one very specific commodity or service, it can be difficult to know what a lead is looking for when they sign up for your mailing list or fill out a form. This missed opportunity is essentially not asking for enough information to personalize the marketing emails and offers that you will need to use to cultivate the lead.

Obviously this is a fine line to walk, since a form that is too long or asks for too much information risks a high rate of abandonment. Consider offering a freebie, discount code or guide that is significant enough to warrant the longer form and thus more of the user’s time.

It can be difficult to know why someone who has never dealt with your business would sign up for your mailing list, or why they’re choosing to download your latest whitepaper. That’s where a few extra questions can help you form a clearer picture of the lead you’ve gained – so that marketing can tailor emails to the needs or interests of that lead, rather than sending a standard email. But weigh your needs versus the lead’s time carefully, and consider offering an incentive to ensure that they follow through.


These are just 3 of the most common missed opportunities – no doubt you can look at your own sales funnel and pinpoint other problem areas that need your attention. Sometimes lead nurturing can seem like the less exciting cousin of lead generation, but one without the other is sure to lead to less-than-stellar sales numbers for any business.

Looking to learn more about lead nurturing? Check out this class, Content is Opportunity: Developing Content for Every Stage in the Buying Cycle. You’ll find out about which content is best at each step, for leads them come back and convert.


How to Use Freebies and Samples to Generate Leads


Whoever said that there is no such thing as a free lunch obviously never heard of lead generation. Smart marketers and business owners know that giving away something for nothing has a lot of bonuses that go well beyond that seasonal “it’s better to give than to receive” feeling. When it’s done right, offering a freebie can cultivate goodwill, generate leads to participate, and help you reach a whole new group of potential customers. And don’t forget, a good freebie will get your leads to fill out a form, so you have their details for further marketing.

generate leads

For many brands, the freebie giveaway of choice is a social media contest. I’ve written about these little lead generation bonanzas here, and I think that they serve a valuable purpose in any social media marketing strategy. Still, there is a big difference between a contest where the winner gets a freebie, and a form where everyone’s a winner. Competition giveaways are great for ramping up engagement, but they don’t have that instant feel-good effect for each and every lead.

Free samples are a good move at just about any step in your sales funnel, since they can obviously help sway doubting or hesitant leads to commit to a purchase. Whether it’s a handful of color swatches or a full prototype of a customized product, the benefit of offering these free samples will almost always outweigh the cost, as long as you are as good as you say (you are, right?). If it’s the difference between an abandoned shopping cart and a considerable purchase, you’ll always be glad you handed over a little work for free.

Meet New Friends

But since our focus here is on lead generation and not lead nurturing, let’s look at how to use samples and freebies to meet new leads, and tempt them into your sales funnel. You’ll be making a great first impression by offering something in return for their interest in your products or services. And as we all know, often a first impression is the only chance you’ll get! There are many websites and social media pages like Freebies Frenzy that spread the word on free giveaways, so you could reach a huge audience and generate leads if your offer gets picked up and disseminated in this way.

Related Class: Social Media Demand Generation

Standard procedure for many businesses is to offer a free consultation or free service. This is a great way to get new people into the store or business, which is without a doubt the hardest part of turning leads into customers. A computer shop that offers a free preliminary workup is likely to also get that customer’s business when hardware or software issues are found in the consultation. You’ll often see automotive shops offering your first oil change for free, or free tire rotation. That’s because they know that you’ll probably think of them first when your Check Engine light comes on, or when it’s been 3,000 miles since that free oil change.

Build a Friendly Rapport - with Free Stuff

If you’re running a brick and mortar business as opposed to eCommerce, you can probably take a leaf out of that playbook. What services can you afford to offer for free? What product can you hand to every new customer when it’s their first time through the door? It’s not groundbreaking in terms of strategy, but you shouldn’t underestimate the tried-and-true approach. Customers want to feel valued, and to feel a connection with your business. Giving something in exchange for their interest is an instant reward that won’t go unnoticed. Just be sure to publicize it clearly on your website and social media channels, so newcomers just checking out your business for the first time know what is on offer to them.

generate leads

eCommerce companies can get in on the action by offering freebies that leads can access just by filling out a simple form. Want to get them on board and buying your merchandise? Offer free samples of your products, at a level that you can afford in terms of value and shipping. If that’s not practical (if you sell bulky or heavy products only), you can custom design a small, branded freebie that can tempt leads to get in touch. Or, do what many, many online businesses do: offer a free whitepaper or guide that’s very relevant and very valuable to your target demographic.

Offer Free Content

A smart whitepaper (with a compelling title and descriptive blurb) has all the appeal of a freebie, but offers other benefits as well. You’ll have a chance to impress the lead, your reader, with your insights and ideas, perhaps convincing them in the process that you’re a good partner for them to work with. And you’ll be able to share some of your brand personality with the reader as well, creating the basis for a relationship that you can build on later with email and other marketing follow-ups.

With the right landing page and form, your freebie will pay off in a lead that you can cultivate through email, direct mail, or social media. Generate good feelings and great leads by getting into that seasonal giving spirit – all year round.

Want to learn more about generating new leads? Check out this class, Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion & Velocity, to find out why aligning sales and marketing can help you achieve the best conversions for your business.


Cyber Monday Marketing: 3 Tips for eCommerce Success


It’s just over a week away, after we’ve all wrapped up the Thanksgiving leftovers and weathered the Black Friday stampedes: Cyber Monday. This new-fangled sales holiday – December 1st this year – can be a dream come true for marketers and businesses, since it’s a timely and popular way to kick off the holiday sales push. However, it can also be a bit of a nightmare, since you’ll be competing with many other great offers and discounts. Not to mention the pressure to get it right so that the upcoming holiday month starts off on the right foot!


Not all eCommerce companies are well-suited to offer a Cyber Monday discount or special, but for most businesses it can work when done right. A few tips to get you started in the right direction:

1.  Keep It Simple

Potential customers are going to be bombarded with offers from all sides on Cyber Monday, so you’ll need to stand out even if you only get a few seconds of their attention. Whether it’s an email offer, a social media post, or something you’ve publicized elsewhere, you won’t have space, and customers won’t have time, for lots of details.

Short and simple offers are best: think freebies, percent off discounts, cash off discounts, BOGO offers, free shipping. Consider offering sitewide discounts or free shipping to anyone who purchases on that day, without requiring a voucher code. You’ll be smoothing out your sales funnel for new and returning customers, so don’t slow them up with codes if you can help it.

Whatever you do, keep fine print to a minimum. Don’t make online buyers jump through hoops. On a day with so many great offers, customers will probably just skip your deal altogether, rather than read through a landing page or email full of “only valid with purchase of…” or “discount applies to purchases over…”

2.  Test and Test Again

Trust me, I speak from experience (an experience that haunts me). If you offer a great deal that really increases your site traffic, you really, really want to make sure that your site can handle that traffic. I have seen truly bizarre malfunctions from overtaxed webshops, from price glitches to credit cards being charged multiple times (a true customer service nightmare). Talk to your website backend guru or team, double check on your server capacity, and make sure everyone on that side knows what might be coming.

Related Class: E-commerce Testing to Dramatically Lift Sales

Since Cyber Monday has really caught on in the last few years, offers are often picked up by discount sites, tweeted and retweeted, and shared by pages and social media channels that specialize in spreading deals around the internet. You might feel like your offer is just for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers, but it may not stay that way! Prepare for more traffic in case you see a lot of shares.

If you choose to use voucher or promotional codes, be sure to test them as well – hell hath no fury like a customer whose voucher code didn’t work on Cyber Monday.

3.  Focus Your Efforts

For the average business, Cyber Monday isn’t a great opportunity to reach brand new leads from all corners of the internet. Instead, it’s a great opportunity to get your qualified leads to finally purchase, and to re-engage with stagnant leads and past customers. Think about it: the chances of meeting a brand new prospective buyer, showing them what you have on offer, and convincing them to buy at a discount right away – all in one day – are relatively slim.

If you have limited marketing means (and who doesn’t), focus your attention on current and past leads, your mailing list, and your social media followers. Targeting these groups will allow you to spread your message widely, without wasting energy on people who will never be your demographic or need/want what you’re selling. Have a dedicated sales team or person? They should be hitting the pavement (or phone, or email) to talk to leads about the special offer they can’t miss on Monday.

Related Class: Mastering the Facebook Sales Funnel

And please, don’t wait till Cyber Monday to get started. Marketing should be activating your mailing list and social media followers by laying the groundwork ahead of time. In the coming week, everyone on your email list, and anyone who likes your Facebook page, or follows your business on Twitter, Instagram or Google+ should know about the deal or freebie you have prepared for December 1st. Unfortunately you have a big hole in the middle of the week – Thanksgiving – when people aren’t likely to be deal hunting or even checking their email often, so get started early and post often if you want to catch everyone in between busy holiday plans.


Don’t wait on this if you’re hoping to capitalize on Cyber Monday – sit down with your marketing and sales team tomorrow and plan out your week, with clear goals for sales and leads. If you choose a simple offer, get it out to the right people, and prepare for it on the technical side, December 1st can be the first big day of what will ideally be a big month for your sales.

Want to learn more about crafting the emails that will bring your leads in for conversions, on Cyber Monday or any other day? Check out this class, Email Marketing Tactics, for tips on optimizing your emails in every way, from layout to copy best practices.


3 Critical Steps for Fine-Tuning Your Sales Funnel


Most businesses hoping to improve sales look back to square one: if marketing would only generate more leads, they say, our sales numbers would soar! While that might be true across the board, increasing lead generation isn't the only way to improve your bottom line. After all, it's just the very tip of the iceberg. It can be expensive and time consuming to crank up lead generation through marketing.

The good news is that there’s another way. Tightening up your eCommerce sales funnel is an efficient and low-cost way to improve sales totals. We call it a sales funnel, of course, but for many businesses it can be more like a sieve, leaking perfectly good leads out at every step from start to finish. Some of those lost leads might return soon, but many won't; at best you'll have to start back at the beginning and recruit them all over again, and at worst you'll never see them on your site again. Invest some time in fine-tuning your sales funnel, and you’ll see more leads making it through to the final step.

1.  Analyze Your Funnel

The first step in optimizing your sales funnel is really diving deep into your website’s analytics. If you can crunch the numbers and pick out a few "choke points" – the places where leads are abandoning the process – then you can focus your problem-solving efforts on those places. Unless your website and your funnel are a total mess, it's unlikely that you need to overhaul the whole thing. It's more probable that a few small steps are losing you a lot of leads, and that tweaking those areas will smooth out your whole sales funnel, so more make it through and convert.

Related Class: Mastering the Facebook Sales Funnel

Are leads bouncing off your site when they see a certain form? Or abandoning carts when they get to the shipping details page? Or do they not even get past your cluttered shop front of a homepage? Pay attention to the different behaviors of leads arriving at your site from different points of entry; it could be that your email offers are drawing in leads who bail when they get to your vague landing page, or when they read the fine print at the bottom of that landing page. Perhaps your leads arriving from social media abandon your offer when they realize how long the form is or see that their details aren’t auto-filled in the address section.

2.  A/B Test Everything – Yes, Everything

You might think that the location of a ‘Next’ button and the font size of a CTA are minor details. Actually, you’re probably right about that. But that doesn’t mean those minor details don’t add up to a layout, or appearance, or functionality, that could be losing you leads. I’ve written about the importance of A/B testing here before; it helps us as marketers move away from hunch-based decision making, so we can base our design and functionality choices on data about what is really the most effective. Try different landing page layouts, different copy, different forms, different page flow, even different colors.

One of the most important things to test in-depth is any form that your leads need to fill out to convert. Of course, forms are necessary in any process, so you can get the details you need to complete the transaction. But it’s important to think hard about what you absolutely need versus what you want. Of course, you’d like to have a little background info on your leads, but if asking them for more details makes them balk, it’s not worth it. Use A/B testing to pinpoint what fields in your form are asking too much, or at what point your forms become too long for leads to bother with. I’d also recommend experimenting with which fields are required to continue and which are optional.

3.  Streamline for Mobile Users

It’s a safe bet that a ton of your leads are accessing your site from a mobile device – are you meeting them halfway with a mobile-friendly sales funnel? Whether your leads are coming to you via email, social media, or search results, they will be expecting a site that makes sense and works well on any type of device. Hopefully you’ve already perfected a mobile-specific version of your site, or created your site with responsive design in mind, so that leads on mobile devices don’t struggle with viewing pages, their cart, or necessary forms. That’s definitely the bare-minimum.

Related Class: Developing Content for Every Stage in the Buying Cycle

To really fine-tune your mobile sales funnel, so leads arrive and stay through to completion, you might need to adjust the order of pages, reduce your forms to be shorter and easier, and in general reduce the number of pages necessary to get from A to B. Keep images to a minimum and definitely, definitely avoid anything that requires Flash! Use A/B testing to figure out which mobile tweaks are helping you keep leads.

Adjusting your sales funnel to smooth the path from brand new lead to paying customer is a process that takes time and an eye for detail, but it’s worth it. Don’t waste valuable leads that marketing worked hard to bring in – make it easy and natural for those interested users to move through your process, and they’ll reward you with a boost to your bottom line.

Need more information on managing your leads as they move through the process? Check out this OMI class: Increase Lead Generation, Quality, Conversion and Velocity. You’ll learn about pumping up lead generation, and strategies for keeping those leads interested at every step.


7 Steps to Effective Lead Nurturing: Reactivate Your Email Lists in 2015


Do you struggle with email marketing? You’re not alone. B2B marketers often underestimate the efforts needed to remain in front of their hot leads. Their typically long sales cycles make it all too easy to deviate from the strategic and systematic follow-ups needed to push leads into the customer realm.

email marketing

According to Forrester, 50% of nurtured leads eventually turn into customers. So before you give up on what could represent some significant revenue, here’s how to start unclogging your sales funnel, and make 2015 a banner revenue year.

1.  Change your mindset

Lead nurturing is about relationship building. After all, you’re engaging with people, not their business. So rather than stress out about making a sale, shift your objective to providing meaningful interactions and useful and relevant content to your audience. Redirecting your focus on education and entertainment then makes lead nurturing fun, rather than a chore.

Related Class: Email Marketing Tactics

2.  Search and clean up

Ask recipients who haven’t opened an email in 12 to 18 months if they’re still interested in receiving them. Dormant recipients who aren’t ready to buy can remain silent for months, while some who have become uninterested over time may not be as forward as those who unsubscribed, especially if they only check their dedicated subscription address sporadically. You won’t know how big your list really is or if you’re even talking to the right people unless you ask.

3.  Ask them what they want

This step is crucial if you haven’t sent an email or company update in a long time. Why guess and waste time creating content or developing tools your audience doesn’t need? Free tools like Survey Monkey can help you poll subscribers and ask what they’re curious about and struggle with in their business.  The insight you gather will be invaluable in planning your marketing programs, content and offers.

4.  Revisit your buyer personas

What new observations can you add to your existing personas? Are you launching a new product line or service that will attract a new market segment? Unless you know whom you’re talking to and what they care about, you’ll have trouble addressing their needs, interests and challenges and pushing those hot buttons that keep them up at night.

Related Class: Using Social Data to Improve Email Marketing

5.  Segment your list

Although this will in part depend on the email platform you’re using, segmenting your list can help you zero in on specific users and create highly targeted campaigns for specific groups. Depending on your business and objectives,  your leads’ preferred languages, geolocations, signup source, title, gender, survey results, previous campaign activity – to name a few – can be sliced and diced to get better open and click through rates. Narrowing your focus with highly relevant messages can help generate better results. However, use with caution to avoid sending irrelevant or pesky duplicate emails to some recipients.

6.  Create a short-term calendar

This is where most B2B marketers fail. They quickly become overwhelmed as they attempt to plan far in advance to keep up with yearly business objectives. But the fact is that despite your best intentions, unforeseen changes, whether internal or external, will inevitably affect the best laid plans. By aligning your interactions and marketing content with quarterly goals, you become hyper focused and can remove the stress of unrealistic long-term planning.

7.  Deploy and mix it up

With a clean, segmented email list, laser focused buyer personas and short-term goals, it’s time to reconnect with your leads and deliver educational and entertaining content in digestible bites:

  • Short demonstrative videos or webinars that demonstrate your competitive advantage
  • A downloadable case study featuring a happy customer’s experience
  • An eBook repurposed into a series of blog posts that focus on a specific concept, product or service that you offer.
  • Webinars co-hosted by your affiliates and partners
  • Numbered white papers that demonstrate opinions, present controversial views or challenge the status quo
  • Infographics that capture industry data in visually captivating formats.
B2B email marketing


If you’ve struggled with consistent lead nurturing, Q4 is the perfect time to revisit your program and transform a stagnant sales funnel into a revenue generator. As you refocus on educating and entertaining your audience, you’ll gradually break through the barriers, overcome objections and turn your hard-earned leads into loyal customers.

Want to learn more? Dive into email marketing in-depth with this class, B2B Email Marketing Best Practices. Using case studies and examples of real campaigns, the class teaches strategies and quick fixes that can boost your email efficacy.


How to Get Your Social Media Marketing Right (and Wrong): Newsjacking


So far in this blog series, we’ve covered how to perfect your voice for social media channels, and how to run contests that help you boost engagement and goodwill. The last topic is something that can go so right, and also so, so wrong: newsjacking.

What is newsjacking? It’s the process of taking advantage of a popular news story to boost your marketing. Pretty simple, right? Yes and no. When it’s done right, jumping on a timely news trend can boost your social media reach and engagement, and even help you get near that elusive viral status. But less successful newsjacking will, at best, fall flat – and at worst, it can be offensive or tasteless.

Riding the Wave

Use of the word ‘newsjacking’ to describe this marketing move was made popular by marketing and sales strategist David Meerman Scott, in his book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Savvy marketers can use breaking news in many different ways – advertising, press releases, timely giveaways, etc. – but we’re talking about social media use here.

Related Class: Twitter Engagement Tactics for ROI

Scott describes news popularity as a wave that rises up to the peak exposure and then rapidly drops off. Effective newsjacking needs to be very, very timely, or you’ll just look like you’re hopping on a trend that everyone else is already tired of. A very popular news story will really saturate all types of media, and that definitely means your fans will be seeing a lot of it in their newsfeeds on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social platforms. If you’re too late, they’ll probably just scroll right past your post or image since they’ve already heard enough on that topic.

Industry Topics vs. General News

Newsjacking can work in two ways: you can jump on news topics that are relevant to your industry, or just use general news or pop culture stories to highlight a certain aspect of your brand. Let’s look at a great example of the former:

newsjacking social media

“Bendgate,” of course, refers to that exciting time after everyone realized that the brand new iPhone 6 would bend in your pocket. As far as a news story, it had everything – a hint of scandal, great visuals, lots of social media participation, and a healthy dose of humor, too. A lot of brands jumped on this timely story to highlight their own sense of humor, and of course, their superior, non-bendy phones. Competitors were wise to capitalize on this story, since Apple so rarely takes a hit in the public eye.

Lessons to learn from LG, Samsung, and all the other brands that took this opportunity? If there’s big news in your industry, good or bad, you can and often should present your take on it. The other big takeaway is that humor is a good way to smooth the way – especially if the news topic lends itself to laughs like Bendgate did.

When it comes to capitalizing on general news and pop culture stories, let’s look at the Superbowl tweet heard round the world:


Oreo definitely got a jump on businesses when the lights went out during the third quarter of the 2013 Superbowl. They managed to pull together a great visual and get it out there before most people had even taken to Twitter to complain or comment on the blackout. This is another great example of the role humor can play in newsjacking – it might not make a whole lot of sense for Oreo to comment on the Superbowl (not exactly typical football snacks, are they?) but because they were able to make a joke about it, the connection is there.

Massive events like the Superbowl, the Oscars, and the World Cup aren’t everyday things, but you can plan ahead for them generally. Don’t force a connection if it’s not there, but explore options and talk it over with your whole team in advance. Then, make sure your social media marketers are thinking on their feet as well, so that unexpected events (whether it’s a Superbowl power cut or viral video) can be used to your advantage.

Crimes of Newsjacking

Newsjacking done badly can be pretty blah – users won’t pay any attention to your attempts if they’re too late, or don’t make sense. But some brands have really blown it with tasteless newsjacking of very unfortunate news:


First place in tactless newsjacking goes to Urban Outfitters, who used Superstorm Sandy to highlight their free shipping. Gap did something similar, hoping that users stuck inside might be doing some online shopping. Considering that many people lost their homes and some lost their lives, it pretty much goes without saying that any attempt to use that for sales is in pretty poor taste.


Second place goes to the Golf Channel, with this newsjack of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. It’s not a tragedy like Sandy was, but it’s still a topic that’s too serious and sensitive to use for business gains. Learn from Urban Outfitters and all the rest – just stay away from news stories that might be sensitive subjects for anyone. In the world of social media, nothing will help you go viral, in a bad way, like stepping on toes.

Since this marks the end of our series on getting your social media marketing right, you can learn more do’s and don’ts in this class: 7 Elements of Highly Effective Facebook Marketing. Complete with case studies and critiques, this class includes lots of tips and tricks to help you maximize your strategy.


How to Get Your Social Media Marketing Right (and Wrong): Contests


Last week, I started off this social media marketing series with a discussion of voice – the heart and soul (and personality) of your social platform presence. But now it’s time to look at the nuts and bolts strategies that you can use to get the most out of your social media channels. One of the most effective tools that the big brands are using, and that you can adapt for your business, is the social media contest or giveaway.

social media marketing

Social media contests, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other platform, are generally a great way to boost your fans’ engagement. With a clear incentive for their increased interaction, you’ll encourage them to get closer to you, and take that step from passively following your page to actively engaging with your page. And because of the way most social media platforms highlight the interactions of a user’s friends, you’ll also increase the likelihood that friends and family will see the interaction and take notice. Maybe they’ll even join in!

By offering a good incentive or giveaway, you’re also fostering some good old fashioned positive energy, which is great since most of us are doing a lot of sell-sell-sell on social media, and that can get annoying for fans. Think about it: you’re always asking them to do something for you (convert or purchase), so shouldn’t you be offering them something in return? This is a technique that’s in the playbooks of most major brands, but it works well from Fortune 500 all the way down to mom-and-pop operations.

Getting it Right: Simplicity & Generosity

One of my favorite examples of a contest done right is from Siggi’s, an all-natural Icelandic-style yogurt company. Every month, they run the contest below, and the winner gets a month’s worth of fancy yogurt:

Social media marketing

The beauty of this is the simplicity for the user – you like and comment, and you’re done. Maybe you win, maybe you don’t, but either way it was not a big expenditure of energy or time. You’ll probably try again next month even if you don’t win this month.

The investment of time and energy is a crucial factor that determines whether users will really bother with your contest. Asking people to like or comment on Facebook, or tweet or retweet on Twitter, pin or repin on Pinterest, etc. is a good start because it’s quick and easy.

Related Class: Fundamentals of Facebook Marketing

Anything more than that can work, but you’d better have a darn good prize or incentive to motivate those more extensive user behaviors – like going to a landing page, filling out a form, sharing a photo, or taking their own photo. We do see these contests on social media, and they can certainly work, but you’ll probably see a reduction in overall participation, in exchange for the more involved participation you’re getting. Look at this contest from Nudo Adopt, an artisanal Italian olive oil company based in the UK:

social media marketing

This contest isn’t particularly simple for the Facebook fans – it requires at least a little ingenuity, in addition to the act of commenting. But it works well for two reasons: because the prize is a big one that brand fans definitely want, and because the entry process itself is fun for fans. A competition prize that’s worth a good chunk of change and clearly appeals to your fans will absolutely boost your contest participation. The real temptation here, though, might be the fun of the contest itself; brand fans love Nudo, love the olive oil flavors they offer, and yes, of course they want to come up with the next flavor! Nudo’s fans are likely to be foodies with an interest in cooking, so a contest that plays to their strengths is a surefire hit.

Getting it Wrong: Too Complicated and Not Relevant

There are two common ways that brands can get it wrong when it comes to giveaways and contests. The first, mentioned above, is making your contest overly complicated for the user to enter (unless you have a big prize worth a few steps). Many social media users browse Facebook and Twitter on their phones when waiting for the bus, or during a dull meeting, so asking them to leave the platform, type out their info in a form, share a photo, or post their own photo is unlikely to get a response immediately, and few will return later unless your prize is really spectacular.

Related Class: 10 Essential Elements of a Mature Social Media Marketing Strategy

The second way to get it wrong is to choose a prize that isn’t really relevant to your brand fans. Siggi’s could give away just about anything, but they stick to prizes that are an obvious match for their customers and fans – their own products, Whole Foods gift cards, etc. A great example of a brand contest that violates both of these tenants? This competition from iconic sneaker company Converse:

social media marketing

Clearly there’s nothing wrong with this contest, and it’s not totally off base. But in the world of social media marketing, this asks a lot from fans, and at the same time speaks to only a small portion of brand fans. I love my Chucks and definitely feel that they’re a throwback to punk and garage rock, but today just about everyone wears these sneakers. So reaching out to the fraction of Converse brand fans that are musicians isn’t going to get that much engagement. Thus, a contest that is neither simple nor generally relevant to the brand’s social media users.

If you haven’t already, look back at the first blog in this series – and then keep a look out for next week’s blog about how to handle newsjacking and timely trends in the world of social media.

Want to find out more about social strategy in the meantime? You should check out this class, Unconventional Facebook Marketing Techniques that Deliver Results, for more ideas that you can use to boost your Facebook marketing and get out of a social rut.



Guesswork to Science: How to Fix B2B Lead Generation With Intent Signals


Wasted marketing budgets fueled by spray-and-pray marketing tactics. Low marketing-to-sales lead conversions. Poor alignment between sales and marketing teams.

Do these scenarios sound familiar to you? I’d bet yes, because what I’ve described is all too familiar. The B2B lead generation process in its current state is broken.

shake hands

I’ve worked in the big data analytics space for over fourteen years. During that time I’ve heard from a diverse range of enterprise companies about their lead generation pain points. The three I’ve outlined above are among the most common, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. Whether it’s marketing or sales, the core of the issue for B2B lead generation is guesswork.

Consider the number of tactics in enterprise sales and marketing that are born out of a gut feeling: sales representatives often rely on instinct to determine which leads to pursue. Marketing guesses which nurture content will be best suited for a certain type of prospect.

Related Class: How to Create Content for B2B Marketing

What resources have been wasted on targeting the wrong buyers, who don’t have an immediate need to buy certain products? How many deals have been lost to competitors? And most importantly—how much more money would companies make (and save) if they replaced guesswork with data-fueled predictive intelligence about their next buyers?

b2b lead generation

Say hello to the Predictive Age. Today we have access to a huge amount of data about our businesses and customers–90 percent of which was created only in the last two years, according to ScienceDaily (a fact that was quoted in Marc Benioff’s Dreamforce keynote this year). Most B2B companies are increasingly investing in solutions that can help them interpret that data to make better choices and inform strategies. And increasingly, business leaders are starting to understand that there are subtle (yet critical) differences between the types of data used in predictive sales and marketing models.

Let’s revisit the first three pain points. Here’s how 6Sense is providing relief to its customers:

 1.     Wasted budgets fueled by spray-and-pray marketing tactics

Bombarding the masses with un-targeted ads and emails benefits no one—neither the individuals on the receiving end nor the organizations sending them. For corporations, every ad viewed by a non-potential buyer is a wasted dollar (and an annoyed potential future buyer). Tapping into prospects’ intent activity data allows marketers to know exactly where their prospects are in their buyer’s journey and when they will have a need. 6Sense’s customers use this data to target the top of the funnel, for example, and deliver relevant ads to accounts that are truly in the awareness stage doing research.

2.     Low marketing-to-sales qualified lead conversions

According to IDG Enterprise, one of the biggest challenges facing B2B marketers is generating and handing over high-quality leads to sales teams. In fact, 79 percent of MQLs never actually convert into actual sales (MarketingSherpa). Our approach goes beyond current lead scoring solutions and taps into activity intent data that indicate which prospects are actively researching solutions in the near term. A Fortune 500 customer of ours increased MQL-to-SQL conversions by 450x by knowing which prospects were close to a sale (and why), and effectively nurturing and closing those leads.

 3.     Inadequate alignment between sales and marketing teams

Sales believes that marketing doesn’t hand over enough high-quality leads. And marketing doesn’t get feedback on the leads that were delivered. The fact is corporations need their marketing and sales teams to be aligned; revenues depend on it. 6Sense goes a long way to get marketing and sales on the same page. Both teams benefit from a clear picture of where prospects are in the buying cycle; all net-new accounts; and the reasoning behind an account or contact’s score (which informs the cadence and type of communication).

It’s time we stop the guesswork in B2B lead generation and hold marketers accountable for revenues. The way to achieve this? Let data drive our businesses forward.

Looking to learn more? Check out this class: Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion & Velocity. You’ll hear about capturing leads, and nurturing them through to a sale.


How to Get Your Social Media Marketing Right (and Wrong): Voice Matters


Using social media to market your brand is just good business – and all the good businesses are doing it. This means there are many great examples of social media done right, and lessons to be learned from the brands that are succeeding.

To see if your social media marketing efforts are hitting the mark, let’s look at a few major aspects of social strategy. This blog will be the first of three looking at smart steps (and bad moves) that businesses use on social media, and how you can learn from the best brands to improve your own strategy. Our first focus is definitely top of the list: the voice you use for your social content.

The Social Voice: Getting Your Tone Right

Social media is definitely a place where you can unbutton your collar and loosen the tie a bit. Since most social media platforms started off exclusively for people, businesses getting into the game have typically adopted a friendly, informal, funny and sometimes joking tone. It helps your business posts fit well into a newsfeed or Twitter feed filled with friends and family, and helps you avoid sounding like stuffy money-makers who are cramping your fans’ social media style. In general, it’s a good idea – if you can get it right.

Related Class: Content Marketing Strategy for Social Media

The key to finding your voice for social media content is thinking hard about your business and your branding, and then matching that feeling with a slightly more friendly tone. Your industry or field is important (financial advisor vs. pre-school, for example) in figuring out a playful or serious tone, but it’s not the only factor. Don’t just think about what your business does or sells; think about how your business feels to you, and to your customers. Let’s take, for example, the insurance industry.

A Duck, A Caveman and a Gecko Walk into a Bar…

Insurance is a relatively serious matter – just ask anyone without it when something bad happens. But we see a lot of humor and levity from many of the top companies out advertising their insurance over competitors. Brands like GEICO and AFLAC use funny characters, birds, cavemen and other gimmicks to make people laugh in their advertising, and that fits with their brand since they’re more ‘the fun friend you can count on to save you money’ then the super-serious insurance salesman.

Since that’s the branding for GEICO, it shouldn’t be surprising that the company’s social media platforms are also funny, informal and occasionally ridiculous. On Facebook, GEICO typically posts some informative, industry-relevant content, mixed heavily with jokes, fun photos, and posts that tie in with their current ridiculous TV ads.

social media

Worst Case Scenario Sales

To contrast, let’s look within the same industry but at a very different brand: Allstate. This insurance company doesn’t tell jokes or use absurd characters to advertise their services; their ads are somber, serious illustrations of, essentially, how glad you’ll be to have a reliable insurance company when you need it most. Their spokesperson is always the same, and he’s not cracking jokes or quacking.

Related Class: Brand Advocacy Strategies Using Social Media

Because this is their branding, it would be bizarre if their social media channels were jocular or frivolous, overly informal or silly. Allstate mostly posts relevant content about insurance, and then some ‘lifestyle’ type posts – topics sourced from their Good Life blog – about family, home care, tips, etc. So they’re still sharing lots of content that isn’t directly about sales, like GEICO, but the content is more in line with the feel of their brand.

social media

Getting it Wrong

There are 2 major ways to really blow it when it comes to your brand’s social media voice. The first, clear from the above examples, would be to pick a tone that doesn’t fit your brand. It will be odd for your social media fans or followers, odd for you, and could really diminish the clear brand you’ve probably worked hard to build.

The second way to get your voice wrong on social media is to be totally frivolous and silly, to a degree that users find you annoying. I know no one would accuse Old Spice of hemorrhaging high quality content to begin with, but their Facebook page is an exercise in wasted words and space:

social media

This tone does fit their brand as we see it in ads – silly, funny, and more than a little nonsensical. But inane, pointless content, and phrasing that wouldn’t pass muster at a middle-school sleepover is not going to win them any new fans, and could irritate the fans they have. Don’t go overboard trying to fit the friendly, social vibe of the platform; no one is expecting you to sound like their closest friend or teenage son. Be your brand and be it consistently, but try to wrap it all in a friendly, amiable candy-coating.

Next up in this three part series will be getting your contests and giveaways right. Social media platforms are a great medium for competitions, and the right contest can boost your engagement and your total fans rapidly. But the wrong one can, at best, be a total flop – and at worst do your brand some damage.

Want to learn more in the meantime? Check out this class from OMI: Social Media Tools to Build Your Audience. You’ll learn tips and tricks for improving your efficiency, driving more traffic from social media, and growing your base of followers.