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Your customers provide a huge amount of knowledge about their wants and needs through their data. Customer data can help brands formulate strategies that have more chances of succeeding and improve their conversion and growth rates. Additionally, brands can use customer data to create content that is search engine friendly and optimized according to their audience’s needs.

But it can be tedious to utilize customer data into creating worthwhile content that is polished enough to help the community. I’ve put together a list of the most efficient ways to use customer data and create compelling content.

Before we get started, let’s cover the popular ways to collect customer data. Of course, you’ll want to have a robust analytics platform, but what are the other ways you can glean more information about your customers?

How can you collect customer data? Surveys & research

Surveys are a great way to learn more about your audience. Whether this is through a survey emailed to your most engaged customers and prospects, or through a form on your website, your surveys should be short to keep your customers engaged. That information can also serve as research which you can use to create engaging content.

Contest & giveaways

Running contest and giveaways is an excellent option to engage your audience. Be sure to choose a prize that is worth your customers and prospects giving you their data. As you are conducting the contest, you have the freedom to set the participation criteria, and since your motive is to gather customer data, you can

Free content offers

By using the data from your surveys and research, you can create content that solves the problems of your customers and prospects. If you gate this content, you can ask for valuable information like their email address and name. Be aware of asking for too much information and the potential of fake form fills.

Now you have collected the customer data. It is time for you to use that database effectively for content building and marketing.

How can you use customer data for effective content? Create engaging content

With the information gained from your customer data, you can create content that has a higher success rate. Does a particular topic resonate with your audience? Is there a certain point where your audience drops off? All of this information is valuable to create opportunities for your customers. While analyzing the content that works, you’ll also learn about the content that engages the least number of people, which will inform you about the content you should stop creating.

Identify what content resonates with which audience

There are various ways to disseminate information through content such as texts, infographics, videos, webinars, etc. When you have a vast collection of customer data, it becomes easier to identify the appropriate form of content for your ideal customers. Based on that information, you can prepare better content and content marketing strategies in the future.

Determine the optimal time to publish your content

If you want your content to get the most engagement by reaching the right audience at the right time, then there’s no better way than analyzing your customer data.

In your analytics platform, you can find the time at which the customers engage the most with your website. You can also use the analytic tools of different social media platforms to gauge the time when the majority of your target audience is active. By studying your analytics data, you can determine the best time for publishing content on your website and social media platforms.

Create content based on your customer’s location

By using the aforementioned ways to collect customer data, you can determine their location in a jiffy. You can find that particular data in your analytics platform and even Facebook insights (or other official social media analytics tools).

If you want to cater to the audience in that locality, you can create content that targets them specifically. Also, you can share it across on the popular social media communities in that locality.

Final thoughts

When you have vast knowledge about your audience, then you have a really powerful commodity at hand. You can utilize this knowledge to upgrade your strategies and continually evaluate your audience’s wants and needs. This whole process is time-consuming, but the results are worth your time.

If you think of more ways to collect and utilize customer data for content marketing, let me know in the comment section below.

The post How You Can Use Customer Data to Create Better Content for Your Customers appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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With 23.8% of marketers spending at least a week producing a single promotional email, it is quite clear how developing an email marketing strategy is a critical and crucial task. Therefore, it becomes imperative to have an email development process that’s not only well planned and efficient but also runs smoothly and fulfills your business’ long-term goals.

Here’s how you can improve your overall email development process and ace your email marketing strategy.

1. Always plan ahead

Planning is the key to success for any email campaign. Remember, it’s good to stay a step forward. So, if you wish to streamline your email development process, get going with a detailed plan where you can think, share, and discuss your thoughts with your team and ultimately come up with new ideas that can boost your email campaign. Once you have created a concrete plan, you’ll want to create a calendar to show how to execute that plan. From the number of emails to be sent to the consistency of the email flow, a calendar will help you stay on top of the tasks at hand.

2. Start with a project brief

A project brief helps you maintain a record of everything that you need to do in your email marketing strategy. From the work you do on your strategy and assets of the email to its goals and campaign results, a project brief is all you need to keep track of all your email marketing stuff. You can either choose from the project brief templates available online or create your own. However, if you are designing with your template, make sure you include the specific criteria listed below:

  • Email sending dates and deadlines
  • Goals to be achieved and its success measurement
  • Your target audience
  • Assets such as email form, landing page, template, and segmentation name, etc.
  • Groups within your team who are creating the email campaign
  • Envelope fields with names of the form along with email addresses, preview text, and subject line
  • A copy of your email links to be included and call to action
3. Go for a formal intake process

A formal intake process is an excellent way of synchronizing and managing the whole email development process. This will help you define and give precise roles and responsibilities within your team. Be it the developer, stakeholders, freelancers or designers, everyone would exactly know what, when and how they need to do their work. This, in turn, would make the overall email creation process seamless and ultimately result in a top-notch email campaign.

Here’s how you can set up a formal intake process:

  • Inform your team beforehand about your project so that they can give you their feedback.
  • Communicate with your team and understand what they are looking forward to in the email campaign. From designers who need to develop the email template to developers who need to code, thorough communication with them can help you create a project brief which is accurate and useful.
  • Also, it is essential to update your developers and designers about your brand guidelines. It would help you maintain the look and feel of your email consistent with your website and other digital channels.
  • It is a good idea to have a style guide to help the copywriters maintain a consistent tone and brand personality.
4. Continual evaluation

Your email development process is incomplete unless you evaluate its performance. Prior to launching your next email campaign, establish success metrics and KPIs to determine what success looks like for you. Your success metrics may be early-stage metrics like click-through rate or unsubscribe rate, or you may have marketing automation that allows you to track first- and multi-touch attribution and revenue metrics. Whatever you are evaluating, establish a culture of evaluation to allow for experimentation in your email marketing strategy. 

Wrap up

Remember, all it takes is a clear approach, goal-oriented thinking, and the ability to visualize and plan for long-term success.

The post 4 Actionable Tips to Enhance Your Email Development Process appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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Today’s marketers have a very specific goal: maximize revenue by delivering rich, meaningful experiences that turn prospects into customers and customers into lifelong advocates.

Shifting from lead-based marketingonly strategies to combined lead and account-based marketing (ABM) strategies has helped many marketers achieve this. It’s enabled them to collaborate with sales and incorporate an account strategy into all their existing marketing efforts.

Additionally, it’s enabled both teams to gather accurate account insights and find their ideal customers to create the right target account list. It’s also empowered them to identify new key contacts within their target accounts—a topic we covered at length in our last ABM blog post.

One other important thing it’s helped them do? Engage prospects and customers across channels and provide them with unforgettable experiences.

Below, we highlight how you can master cross-channel marketing by putting ABM at the heart of your strategy.

Understanding the basics of cross-channel engagement

There are a couple key tenets about cross-channel marketing to keep in mind. The first is simple: Particular channels don’t matter.

Sound backward? It’s not.

That’s because all channels matter. You need to reach your prospects and customers wherever they are, regardless of channel—using direct mail, email, social, and more.

To be clear, the focus of your ABM strategy and cross-channel engagement should actually be on your customer, not the channels they engage on. That’s because you can’t predict your customer’s journey. It’s impossible with all the options they have out there now. 

The data and insights you have about your accounts is far more important than the specific engagement channel you use to contact them.

Once you have access to information about who your accounts and contacts are, how they’ve engaged in the past, and what they’re looking for now, you’re in a better position to send them timely, relevant messages that resonate, regardless of what channel they engage on next.

Which brings us to the second key tenet of cross-channel engagement: personalization.

Lead-level data includes your prospect’s job title, persona, company name, and industry. But you need to combine that information with account-level data and context to really elevate your personalization game. That means having a strong understanding of:

  • Who your prospect is in relation to the buying group (decision maker, influencer, etc.)
  • Where the account is in the buyer’s journey
  • What type of content/messaging you should send the account
  • How much the account as a whole is expressing intent on certain topics (intent data insights)
  • What channels the account has engaged with in the past (phone, direct mail, email, etc.)
Enabling cross-channel engagement with ABM

With ABM, you should use the same marketing channels you use for your existing lead-based programs. Why? Because it allows you to interact with your leads in a more thoughtful way on the same channels—acting as an account filter between lead generation and prospect follow-up.

Rather than using a lead-based program to gather limited information and engage prospects through a typical email nurture campaign, you can take a more sophisticated and strategic approach.

With ABM, you can continue to develop compelling messaging based on your prospect’s personal characteristics—as well as the account they belong to—and provide them with superior experiences throughout the lifetime of their relationship.

A crucial step in scaling cross-channel engagement for your ABM efforts involves automating channel outreach. This requires deploying an innovative cross-channel marketing platform that contains both lead and account-based marketing automation capabilities that coexist with each other.

Automation makes it easy for you to continue the customer experience at scale, increase the velocity of your marketing and sales qualification processes, send better post-engagement autoresponder communications, and more.

Taking cross-channel engagement for ABM to the next level

Adding artificial intelligence (AI) to your ABM mix can do wonders for your cross-channel marketing efforts. It’s especially effective when it comes to personalizing your communications.

With AI capabilities built into your cross-channel marketing solution, you can continually adapt to ensure the messages you deliver always hit their mark for each specific persona and account.

Say you’re targeting a healthcare account. Obviously, you know to send your prospect a healthcare-related asset that’s specifically tailored to their role and point in the buyer’s journey. But AI allows you to go deeper than that.

On top of helping you determine what kind of content to send a prospect, AI can react to your campaign performance in real time and make changes to optimize engagement based on which content is creating the most conversions. 

If a particular asset has been drawing conversions left and right from other healthcare CMOs, AI will promote that same asset to the CMO you’re currently targeting.

And while real-life marketers would normally have to wait until a campaign’s run for some time to analyze asset performance and then adjust, AI can evaluate results on the fly and institute changes immediately while the campaign is still running. 

Getting marketing and paid media on the same page

There’s one last thing you need to do to hit cross-channel engagement out of the park: make sure your marketing automation and paid media teams work in harmony.

You should view paid media channels as an additional way to extend your brand’s reach. That means the cross-channel engagement messaging in your ads should be part of the same messaging family on the marketing channels that you own and operate.

Delivering superior and consistent prospect and customer experiences across channels depends on your ability to leverage rich, accurate data from your marketing automation solution. Oftentimes, that data exists in silos—marketing’s got access to some data, paid media’s got access to other data.

But by sharing data and working together as a unified team, you can improve your interactions and provide experiences that lead to increased conversions and better brand affinity.

Hungry for more tips? Read The Definitive Guide to ABM.

The post How to Master Cross-Channel Engagement with Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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When I launched into the wonderful and terrible experience of planning my wedding, I had one budget item I would not budge on: florals. While I appreciate their beauty, the idea that I was supposed to allocate 20% (TWENTY. PERCENT.) of my budget to something that was completely perishable was baffling to me. I scoffed at the recommended percentage and proudly proclaimed to my wedding investors (aka my parents) that we would dedicate no more than 10% maximum. Get fake flowers. Pick them from the gardens at the venue, I don’t care.

When all was said and done, I ended up devoting 25% of my budget to my florist. Why? It wasn’t because I’m not good with a spreadsheet. It’s not because the floral market here in St. Louis is monopolized. It’s because I love my florals vendor. I trust her completely. If she told me to, I would make an interactive presentation, win over my board (again, my parents), and make the case for an expanded budget.

Here’s what I learned from my incredible vendor—and my own purchasing behavior: You are much more likely to justify the cost when you feel valued by the person you’re buying from and when you trust his or her credibility.

While your marketing team is hard at work crafting your company brand, you should take the opportunity to humanize the sales experience by building out your own brand. Give the people what they want: a chance to buy from a person they like.

Here’s the Secret Sauce for Your Personal Brand 1. Host a Webinar

While your technical wherewithal in your industry may vary (looking at you, medical and IT sales reps—it gets complex!), your understanding of your customer should be strong. Work with your marketing team to identify the topics that make sense for you to cover. Could you host a sales-based webinar on “How to pitch expensive solutions to your executive board”? Is there an aspect of your product or service that you’re particularly passionate about? These could all be useful presentations for both you and your company to provide to your audience.

By playing an active role in webinars, you show the buyer that your company trusts you to speak at an industry level and to represent it well. The more visible you become as a consistent webinar host, the more prospective buyers begin to associate your name with your company—which could have endless benefits, ranging from staying top of mind with prospects to building your credibility.

2. Email Communication

All salespeople worth their weight in commission should know how to send a compelling email. But if you could use a refresher, here are a few quick tips:

Make it content-driven. If you just hosted a webinar, link to it and explain why you think it could be useful with regard to a specific problem your lead is trying to solve for.

Make it personal. Personalization is 2019’s sales word of the year. Use “you” 3x more than you use “I” or refer to your own company. Find a relatable but not creepy thing to connect on with your prospect.

Make it brief. Not my strong suit personally, but it should be all salespeople’s mantra: If you can’t say it simply, you don’t understand it, and neither will your lead. You have but a brief, fleeting moment to connect with your prospect and make your case. Use words sparingly and wisely.

3. Bylined Content, Blogs, and Guest Posting

Contributing to publications that reach your buyer means tapping into wider audience reach, increased visibility for you and your company, and third-party validation. Likewise, having a presence on your company’s blog further validates your expertise and demonstrates your engagement with the overall initiatives of your organization.

Both blog content and externally published articles are SEO boosters. When your leads get happy fingers and go to the almighty Google, it will be to your benefit for them to see byline after byline of valuable content backing you up.

4. Speaking Engagements

How many times have you thought, “If I can just get in a room with my buyer, I know I can win them over.” All salespeople are pretty convinced they have magnetic personalities (because: true), and speaking engagements are a perfect opportunity to use that expertise and charm to build a face-to-face connection. Much like a webinar, a speaking engagement suggests that your company has faith in your ability to represent the organization well.

You also get a chance to showcase your passion for your offerings, field questions in real-time, and meet your audience. In fact, a speaking opportunity is a great touchpoint for reconnecting with any leads in the area. A quick email or LinkedIn message inviting them to the event could lead to later conversations or a chance to meet in person—or at the very least, spark a conversation around your potential partnership again.

5. Social presence

Social media is one of the easiest, least time-consuming ways to create a digital footprint. Stay active on platforms like LinkedIn, where you can repurpose your webinars, blog posts, and articles and begin to gain a following. Show your prospects that you have an impressive knowledge of industry problems and your own products or services.

A few ideas:

Start a LinkedIn group specific to your industry and regularly share trends, insights, and other content formats. Pose questions aimed at solving the challenges your prospects face and that your service is a solution for.

Weigh in on industry news. Tweet out interesting statistics relevant to your buyer and add colorful commentary. Start conversations that keep you active in your lead’s mind.

Building a personal brand isn’t about catering to your sales ego. It’s about creating meaningful, trustworthy connections with your prospective buyers that foster a long, healthy relationship with your company moving forward. Anything you create under your own name can point back to your company positively and allow a buyer to get comfortable with the sales process. Like me and my florist, you may find that your personality and helpfulness result in expanded budgets, loyal followers, and very happy customers.

The post The 5 Things Salespeople Need to Build Their Personal Brand appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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Email is dead—or at least that’s what the headlines claim. Sure, getting to “inbox zero” might be everyone’s focus today, but brands shouldn’t count out the power of a well-executed just yet.

Why Email Still Works

Marketers have argued about the viability of email campaigns ever since email became widely adopted as a marketing channel. And it’s true that email no longer has the insanely high open rates it used to. But consumers still open their email 20 times a day on average. That’s why effective modern marketers can continue to connect the dots from their email campaigns to quantitative ROI.

In fact, the proliferation of smartphones has made email more effective than ever. According to a recent study, about three of every five consumers check their email on the go. 75% of study participants said they use their smartphones most often to check email.

No matter what you sell, most of your qualified leads spend their days glued to their smartphones, where their email apps are just a tap away on their home screen. Sending high-quality content directly to prospects’ inboxes is one of the easiest ways to reach them—you just need to deliver a valuable enough message that they’re excited to open it.

Therein lies the problem, however. Attention. With so many emails flying around, people only open and act on emails from brands they trust. If prospects don’t trust your brand and don’t care about your message, they will—best case scenario—simply delete your email without a second thought. Worst case, you leave a negative brand impression. They’re annoyed by your persistent, irrelevant messages. They trash your brand to friends and maybe even on social media. Not good.

Email can be a high-stakes game if you play it in an obnoxious way. Email is a marketing medium that has plenty to offer but only to those who effectively put themselves in the shoes of their prospects.

Sending Emails People Actually Care About

Just like any great marketing strategy, smart email campaigns start with the buyer in mind. Your prospect in the awareness stage needs a different message from your buyer in the consideration phase. Optimizing your message for the right stage of your buyer’s journey drastically improves the performance of key metrics (like open and click-through rates) while ensuring your sales team is given leads who are actually ready to talk. The more specifically your emails are tailored to where a prospect is in your sales cycle—awareness, consideration, or decision—the better your email drip campaigns will perform.

To execute an automated  that scales well and sets up your sales team for success, consider the following best practices:

1. Sales enablement takes priority

The point of investing in an email campaign is to generate revenue. It is a sales enablement tool. Keep this in mind from the beginning.

When you’re ready to write, start by choosing which part of the buyer journey to target. Are you talking to prospects aware of their problem yet? Are they starting to consider potential solutions to that problem? Are they ready to make a decision?

With that question answered, set goal KPIs and benchmark numbers to plot the course. And think about what tone will most quickly build trust with your buyers. Should your brand give off a casual and friendly vibe, or do you need to be seen as an all-knowing expert for your leads to trust you?

2. Hyper-specific audiences respond better

You could blast an email to everyone and their family pet. You could also throw money out the window and have a similar close rate.

depend on smart segmentation to succeed. Fewer, more tailored emails are better than the opposite. Take the time to get to know your target audience members ahead of time. What are their concerns? What are their pain points? What roles do they play in their organizations, and what solutions do they seek?

Separate into different pools the leads who may buy quickly from the leads who will take time to nurture to a decision. If you push for a purchase too early, you could permanently become spam in the eyes of your fledgling audience.

3. Automation should handle the heavy lifting

Rather than hire an intern to keep track of which emails get sent when, use your marketing automation solution to deliver fresh content at regular (but not intrusive) intervals. Automation is how you scale.

People in the awareness phase don’t need a ton of emails, so limit their communications to trigger-based outreach. When someone clicks a link or opens an email, take that as an invitation to keep the communication moving. As prospect activity picks up, accelerate the pace of communications.

Let the robots do their job. Spend your time developing engaging content that the members of your audience actually want to consume. If you’re doing it right, they should look forward to your emails. This requires a lot of relevant, high-quality content if you don’t want to hamstring your conversion rates.

Do you struggle to generate sales-ready leads? What do you think you could do better? Putting more effort into crafting valuable emails full of content your prospects care about could be the marketing strategy you are missing.

The post appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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Offering high-quality products and services to your customers is table stakes for any company to survive. But it’s hardly the be-all and end-all of business success.

In today’s digital era of transformation, the experiences your organization provides are equally important. As a reminder, people buy experiences, not just products. And to deliver remarkable customer experiences, you need to shift from a lead-based only marketing approach to a combined lead and account-based marketing strategy.

In our last blog on account insights and profiling, we outlined how to find your ideal customers, build the right target account lists using artificial intelligence, and use AI-powered account-level insights to create hyper-personalized account-based experiences (ABX) for ABM.

Now, we’ll dive into how you can leverage paid media for ABM to hydrate your target account lists by discovering net-new contacts within each target account and treat them to unforgettable experiences that truly make an impact.

But first, let’s talk about the concept of buying groups for account-based marketing strategies.

How are buying groups relevant to your account-based marketing strategy? 

The single most important thing to remember about B2B marketing and sales is this: No one person is responsible for making a purchasing decision on their own.

In fact, the average B2B purchase involves more than five decision-makers—all with varying levels of influence and authority. And that’s why traditional standalone lead-based marketing efforts without an account strategy is quickly becoming passé.

After building your target account list and prioritizing which accounts to target, it’s time to confirm the buying group that you want to market and sell to. A buying group is a specific set of key individuals for each account who will be part of the decision-making process and who ultimately all need to agree to purchase your product.

Successful ABM requires identifying all the key contacts within an organization’s buying group and sending them timely, relevant, and personalized communications tailored to their specific roles, responsibilities, and interests.

For instance, while you’d initially want to engage with a company’s CMO throughout a campaign, you might want to engage with the IT director at the same time or hold your messages to them until later in the buyer’s journey for that specific account.

The content would also differ. The CMO’s communications would revolve around their challenges and your solution’s benefits related to ROI and revenue. The IT director would receive information about the ease of implementation and integration, and time-to-value.

Of course, before you start thinking about the right time to reach out and the right content to send, you need to make sure you’ve identified all the right decision-makers for each buying group within your target accounts.  And that’s where contact discovery comes in.

Discover new contacts using two account-based advertising strategies

Paid media for ABM helps you with contact discovery, or attracting new and unknown contacts and mapping them to key personas within target accounts.

Here are two popular paid media use cases for your ABM strategy: 

1. Target unknown contacts within your known target accounts

Here, you start out with a list of accounts that are currently in your database. So, you’re fully aware of the companies you’re marketing to, but you don’t have all the right contacts for each buying group within each account yet. The goal is to upload that list of accounts into a paid media network, match the accounts into their database, and send ads to contacts within each account.

This will allow you to send account-based ads to net-new contacts at these companies across the web in hopes that they convert and become a known contact within your target accounts. Depending on the ad network, marketers can use this strategy to penetrate accounts and pinpoint people in the buying groups you most want to reach.

Just keep in mind: You have a finite audience to sell to, so you better make the most of your efforts.

2. Target unknown contacts within unknown accounts 

This is a situation where you can make something out of nothing. After developing the criteria for your ideal customer profile, you can discover both new accounts and new contacts for your ABM strategy. Often times, sales and marketing teams find that they don’t have enough target accounts, or they simply want more.

In this situation, you upload a list of your best-fit customer accounts into paid media networks. Using their look-alike models, the paid media networks can find new accounts that are similar to the attributes of your existing customer account list.

You can then run ads to contacts within the new accounts that the paid media network is suggesting.  And if they convert on an offer, you’ll secure a net-new contact in a brand-new target account for your ABM strategy

One thing to remember is you shouldn’t limit yourself. Increase your reach as much as possible across multiple networks while also being mindful of potential overlap of the same contacts across different account-based marketing ad networks.

Successful paid media campaigns for ABM require a marketing automation solution

A sophisticated marketing automation solution is the key to maximizing the success of your paid media campaigns for your ABM strategy.

Launching advertising campaigns for your ABM strategy is a great way to discover new contacts and accounts, but the customer experience should not start and stop there. Marketing automation solutions help continue the customer experience by automatically incorporating new contacts into nurture campaigns and scoring models to ensure that relevant, personalized and timely engagement continues across the buying journey. This is extremely important because most contacts don’t want to be followed up with right away just because they’ve interacted with your brand just once.

For example, let’s say a new contact converts from one of your paid media campaigns by clicking on an ad and downloading your latest white paper. This contact has now become a known contact within one of your target accounts, but what do you do next? Just because they downloaded a piece of content for the first time doesn’t mean they want to be followed up with by an aggressive sales rep right away.

Instead, use your marketing automation solution to nurture them in context to the account they belong to rather than an individual lead-based nurture program. View their conversation in context with all the other contacts within the buying group inside the account and make sure that your marketing automation solution is set up to engage each contact based on the account-level insights and strategy.

Marketing automation is a key part to a successful ABM strategy, especially when you’re wanting to continue and automate the account-based customer experience across your marketing channels after discovering new contacts and accounts across paid media channels.

The post Contact Discovery: Using Paid Media for Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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Every business eventually realizes that much of its marketing can be automated. Gone are the days of remembering to follow up with a lead, or websites that present the same offers to every visitor regardless of how they arrived on the page.

Marketing automation is a no-brainer for big businesses, who might have hundreds of thousands of customers to interact with on a daily basis. For small businesses, whether to invest in marketing automation software is a legitimate question, especially if you’ve never used it before.

For the most part, automating your marketing campaigns is typically a net-positive. It’s still important to understand what is true and what is not about the process so you know what to expect.

Here are eight myths about marketing automation and the truth behind them:

1. Automated marketing is just sending messages automatically

Automated marketing software sends messages to potential (and current) customers through email, web, social media, and text.

But the concept is about much more than sending messages automatically so you don’t forget to. It’s about maximizing efficiency, so you don’t need to write and send the same (or similar) messages to individual customers every day. It’s also about targeting and identifying what visitors to your site or store really need and giving it to them.

Finally, it allows you to study the data behind your actions and decide whether you need to tweak your workflows to better capture the interest and, ultimately, the dollar of potential customers.

2. Automated marketing is easier than manual processes

In many ways automated marketing is better, but does it make your life easier? Not always.

You can’t simply set and forget your automated marketing campaigns, assuming they will guide people from the top to the bottom of your funnel. You need to monitor what each campaign accomplishes, using the data you collect to target specific groups of customers to achieve better results.

Automated marketing removes the need to perform rote actions. Instead, your resources are redirected towards creating more creative and personable workflows and copy.

3. Automated marketing is just for email

As mentioned above, automated marketing is used across a number of channels, not just email.

While , you can actually use it to open up more options for your marketing campaigns and opportunities for lead acquisition. Continue to collect information on your customers—phone numbers, for example—and find creative ways to market through them using your marketing platform.

Don’t limit your ambitions to just email marketing—have conversations with your customers everywhere they interact with your brand, especially your web site, through contextual sign-up forms.

4. Marketing automation is only for big businesses

No matter how small your business, it’s likely worth the investment to let automated processes take over some of your manual ones, allowing you to focus on higher-level activities.

More and more software providers are entering the market, which means even the smallest businesses will likely find a level of service that matches their budget. Build out your marketing workflows on a small scale and let your processes grow with your business, rather than to try to retrofit them to how you work once you start growing. You can even start with free trials on many platforms to see which offerings make the most sense for your business.

5. Automated marketing comes off as robotic and impersonal

Your marketing materials will only come off as robotic and impersonal as your copy makes it sound. You can personalize your materials to make them speak to your customers.

Another way that you can encourage more personalized content is by sending highly targeted and specific copy to as many customers as you can. Group people in narrow workflows so you ensure that each person receives impactful content related to what they’ve already responded to. This is, in essence, the point of marketing automation—so when you use the software correctly, your content and messaging should come across as anything but impersonal.

6. Automated marketing won’t replace traditional systems

Maybe you feel that your marketing tactics aren’t broken, so you don’t need to “fix” them with an investment.

If you want to compete with the major players in your industry, however, you’ll need to use some kind of automated marketing software: The marketing software industry is growing by 30% annually, and those who aren’t currently using it plan to do so within the next 12 months, according to statistics collected by Emailmonday.

Marketing tech is clearly the future of the space, if not the present, so getting on board isn’t up for debate—it will be necessary in order to stay competitive.

7. Automated marketing will only provide a boost to your marketing

Your investment in automated marketing will actually carry over into other aspects of your business.

For example, marketing automation can help you become more efficient when it comes to sales. According to MarketingSherpa, just 27% of the leads sent over to sales from marketing will be qualified. Marketing automation can help you not just find leads, but qualify them, score them, nurture them, and continue to manage them over the lifespan of their time in your funnel. That way, once sales gets ahold of them, they won’t waste time talking to leads that have no future with your business.

8. Once a sale is closed, the automated marketing process is over

The goal of lead generation marketing is to turn new audiences into customers. But automated marketing is about more than closing the first sale. You’ll create opportunities for upsells, cross-sells, and future engagement leading to repeat business.

You should feel empowered to create post-sale workflows that encourage people to stay connected to your business and look for upcoming sales, discounts, products, and more.

Marketing automation is creating a new era of marketing where the goal is less about the execution of the basics and more about thinking creatively. That doesn’t make marketing easier, but it does make it more exciting. Time to dismiss the myths and embrace the challenge.

The post 8 Myths About Marketing Automation appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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I am sure most people have quit while waiting for a website page to load. Waiting is a hassle; we all expect fast-loading sites—anything less isn’t worth the wait in today’s time-poor world. If your website is like this, then you probably haven’t upgraded or even thought about your website for a little while now.

And that’s why website speed is an essential part of your site’s performance. Whether your goal is reducing customer care calls, getting more targeted leads or being the hub of your digital strategy, website optimization can make your site more effective in achieving those goals.

Most consumers state that load time is an important factor when it comes to searching for information online. According to Google, 53% of mobile phone visits are abandoned if the page takes more than three seconds to load. Moreover, the study suggested that fast websites generate higher revenue. Mobile sites which take a maximum of five seconds to load earn two times more ad revenue than those loading for 19 seconds.

Furthermore, Google asked users whether they would prefer 30 or 10 search results to be served up per page. When Google incorporated 30 results to a few search pages, the traffic dropped by 20%, and the page load time between the two result pages was only half a second. If half a second has such an impact on traffic, imagine the difference it would make if you reduce your site’s load time by three seconds.

Key aspects of website performance optimization Hosting

There are several important web hosting factors to consider when choosing whether to stay with your existing provider or move to a new provider. It goes without saying that you must make sure the hosting service has a dedicated 24×7 customer service. Check out reviews of their service on third-party review sites as well. Make sure there are no common themes in complaints as that would suggest there is likely to be a similar issue for you.

When browsing, you are trying to access remotes files found in web servers and the faster the computer, the faster one accesses the requested pages. The same applies to web hosting: effective web hosts invest in web server architecture to make sure that every page on those web servers run at full speed. Additionally, look for more advanced hosting packages that come with enhanced memory and increased power. Enhanced resources boost the speed of your websites because requests are executed more quickly. Advancing from shared web hosting to better plans will also do the trick.

Studies have found that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load within two seconds or less, with 40% abandoning a website that takes more than three seconds to load. There are lots of valuable guides and tips about there to speed up your site whether you need to speed up a WordPress website or any of the other content management systems out there such as Umbraco, Drupal, and so on. Speed really is king, so do what you can to improve yours.

Size of images

Files and images are crucial tools for your site as they help increase conversions, elicit your audience’s emotion, and tell stories about your site. It would be hard to develop an effective website without using visual content. The primary roles of using images on your website should be to improve the user experience and also enhance your content marketing. If the images negatively impact your site’s performance, then you need to fix this ASAP as Google will also start punishing your site by ranking it lower.

Also, consider “page bloat.” As new technology and new methods come along for content marketing and lead generation, try to avoid cramming too much onto one page. Images, scripts, flash, HTML, stylesheets, forms, video and so on—one page could have all of these on them. Try to avoid this. Simple, clean, and easy to understand is the best approach.

Images can often be quite a problem for load speed. If images are not properly optimized, they tend to consume valuable page loading time and contribute to providing a poor experience for your website visitors. Optimizing images helps boost your website speed and performance—the larger the file size of the image, and the less optimized they are, the slower a site will load and the worse it will perform. It’s as simple as that.

When selecting a file type, consider the purpose of your image and what it consists. Choose the format which results in the smallest size while retaining the quality. Furthermore, ensure you choose the right dimensions. Identify where the images will be used on your website and make sure they are not larger than needed for that space. Your hosting provider will be able to advise on not just how best to optimize them.

Apps/Plug-ins

Plugins offer different features and functionality. Some plugins load assets on the front-end such as images, JavaScript files, and CSS stylesheets while others are used in making database calls on the back-end. Most plugins need HTTP requests to load assets, and each request impacts your website’s page load time.

When website plugins are installed and set up properly, their impact on website speed is minimal. However, a conflict between plugins can negatively impact your website speed the same way as failing to keep them updated. Moreover, if you are using too many plugins that are making a lot of requests to load assets and files, or your plugins are not up-to-date, then your site’s user experience and performance will be negatively affected.

Mobile-first

Mobile-first can be described as the as a way of designing a mobile version of your site before the desktop version. Responsive design is ok, but mobile-first is ideal.

Mobile-first has three key benefits:

  • It improves the user experience for your website
  • Performs incredibly for backward compatibility
  • Google loves mobile-first websites and favors them in search engine results pages.

This means that even before coding and designing your website, gear your focus towards a great mobile design to get a better, simpler and faster web experience across all screens and devices. Aside from most of us browsing and searching on mobiles more than desktops now, Google’s mobile-first indexing is changing the game—this means that Google is crawling and indexing the mobile version of a site instead of the desktop version.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

CDN is a geographically located server which host copies of your website’s resources to deliver content based on the user’s location. CDN shortens the RTT (round trip time) of your content and brings it closer to the geographical location of your site visitor.

When online users request specific content from your website, the content delivery networks look for the most optimal edge note which can fulfill the requests. This means that automatically choosing servers that are closest to the requesting user, are least expensive, and have the highest capacity.

Conclusion

Aberdeen Group conducted a study which found that one-second delay in a page load time leads to 11% fewer page views, 7% loss in conversions, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. The findings imply that page load times directly impact sales, search engine optimization, as well as overall customer experience.

The fact that many customers say that they will never return to a slow site means that you should keep them happy by using proper website performance tools and incorporating the aspects mentioned above. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to not just your overall website traffic, but all key website metrics.

The post 5 Ways to Create the Optimal Customer Experience on Your Website appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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Companies that thrive amid constant change and innovation share a common trait: Their leaders encourage employees to think more like entrepreneurs than traditional workers.

However, thinking like an entrepreneur does not require setting up a startup inside an organization. It means leaders are inspiring employees to think for themselves, creating a culture where people want to play a role in making a profound impact with the work they do. This “entrepreneurial thinking” means people go beyond their written responsibilities to take ownership of their projects.

The Roots Of Entrepreneurial Thinking

Entrepreneurs have long been admired for their visionary ideas and their ability to engage teams of people to innovate new business models and strategies. Entrepreneurs think differently than others. Just look at how Elon Musk has pioneered a new form of transportation, and how Steve Jobs revolutionized the meaning of mobile. Entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic about a new future, and that optimism leads to innovation.

Here are four principals of entrepreneurial thinking for leaders to embody and encourage.

1. Add value:

Entrepreneurs understand that they wont get paid until they first create value. This is part of all of their projects and serving clients. When your team members strive to create value in everything they do, you see it in how they approach problem-solving.

Entrepreneurial thinking is grounded in creating value.

2. Take ownership:

Going past written responsibilities allows each person to push beyond the feeling of “good enough” in his or her work. Great leaders inspire people to feel a sense of ownership with their work, which comes by finding the meaning in accomplishing the end goal that is a benefit to the company and the person.

Entrepreneurial thinking happens consistently when leaders delegate the end goal and let the employees determine the tasks. Employees who take total ownership for their own financial success and security end up being the ones who drive company growth. In fact,

88% of CEOs surveyed by Gallop shared that employees taking ownership is important or very important for company growth.

Great leaders also don’t place blame if things don’t work out.

3. Share your wild ideas:

Employees who are hesitant to verbalize their ideas will struggle to contribute to the company. People who think like entrepreneurs exhibit the courage to share their crazy ideas under almost any circumstance because they don’t know another way.

I recently wrote about the notion of ideas on Sunday in my weekly column for Inc. Magazine. This isn’t about encouraging employees to work seven days a week. It’s about giving people space to share ideas when it’s best for them—even when it’s on the weekend.

4. Be resilient:

Today’s pace of work requires resilience. Change is constant. Disruption is inevitable. Innovation is the norm. When you demonstrate the power of resilience amid challenges, you are able to endure the pain of failure. Entrepreneurial thinkers thrive in these situations because it is part of their DNA.

The ability to weather the storm of work’s disappointments also becomes a huge factor in company growth. Failing fast becomes part of the process, and new paths are defined by the ones that keep going no matter the obstacle.

Leaders who empower their people to think like entrepreneurs reap the benefits long term. The ones who strive to put structure around creative people will struggle in the new era of work.

The post How Thinking Like an Entrepreneur Can Supercharge Your Success appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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The digital revolution has raised customer expectations massively. People want much more than just a product—they crave a complete experience.

The success of your marketing campaign no longer depends on the number of leads you generate. It rests on your ability to maximize your customers’ experience.

That’s why forward-thinking marketers are prioritizing account-based marketing—determining together with sales which accounts to target, why they should be targeted, and when they should be targeted. In fact, 87% of companies report a higher return on investment when adding account-based marketing (ABM) to their engagement strategy than traditional lead-based only marketing initiatives.

As we covered in our overview blog, a successful ABM strategy has people and experience at the center of it instead of random, individual interactions.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the first step of how to create epic account-based experiences (ABX) with the right account insights & profiling. 

With the right data—and a platform powerful enough to use the data effectively—you can gain highly accurate account insights and effectively profile your targets to create hyper-personalized account-based experiences that your customers and prospects will enjoy.

The first and most important challenge to overcome when wanting to truly maximize your ABX is knowing who your ABX should be for. What data should you be gathering? And how can you make the most of it?

Leveraging account insights in the new age of data

We’ve come a long way from sales-based account selection. Previously, sales teams would create a target account list based on the sales data they had available in their CRM. The process was time-consuming, took the sales team away from selling, and relied heavily on gut instinct.

But since the digital revolution, marketers have gained access to huge pools of data that can be used to help sales create more accurate account lists. Using these three key data sources, you can have better insight into which accounts to target:

Fit data 

Fit data often includes firmographics that detail a company’s location, number of employees, size, and other basic details. While this information is useful for gaining a high-level view of who your ideal account is for targeting, it needs to be combined with other data types to become useful. 

Intent data

Intent data identifies accounts that are actively searching or engaging with content related to your service or products. Whether it’s from paid media advertising data sources or opt-in data cooperatives, intent data can help you prioritize WHEN you should focus on certain target accounts over others and what messages to include in your content.

Engagement data

Engagement data helps you take account targeting to the next level by adding a third layer of insights to help hyper-prioritize which accounts to allocate resources on immediately. By identifying which accounts have already engaged with your content in the past—whether by opening emails, reading blogs, or registering for an event—you can get greater insight into which accounts have an even higher propensity to turn into closed-won accounts as well as the best way to reach them.

Great experiences aren’t just created from one data type—they come from combining all three to help you select the right accounts to target. But with so much data at hand, how do you effectively manage it?

Ideal customer profiles and predictive target account lists

Assuming your account data is clean and accurate, having lots of it can be both a blessing and a curse. It can bless us with the ability to create robust ideal customer profiles (ICPs) that help us select accounts with confidence, but it can also curse us with the daunting burden of having to manually analyze it so that we can actually use it. This is where AI can step in and help us speed up the process in a scalable way. However, AI is only as powerful as the amount of data that it is trained on and the quality of that data. It can help us leverage ICPs to create predictive target accounts lists that support your ABM strategy.

For example, if your ABM strategy is to cross-sell existing customer accounts with a specific product, you first need to know which of your existing customer accounts are ideal to target. With AI-powered look-alike models and the three data sources mentioned above, you can upload a list of customers who recently purchased a specific cross-sell product along with even having a high deal velocity. The model will analyze all the fit data and engagement data, along with enriching intent data to learn common attributes and even weigh them differently based on unique importance to you and your business to create your ideal customer profile. Next, you’ll want the AI to use your ICP to scan your existing customer base to pick out the best-fit accounts to cross-sell. 

Here are a few common examples of predictive target account lists:

Predictive best-fit lists: List of prioritized best-fit target accounts based on recent high-value, closed-won deals 

Predictive quick-win list: List of prioritized best-fit open opportunities with accounts that have high propensity to close faster than others

Operationalizing your predictive target account lists 

Once you have your predictive target account lists, it’s time to actually do something with them. Successful account-based marketers adopt marketing automation software that can operationalize their predictive target account lists.

With a best-in-class marketing automation platform, you can use AI to identify your ideal customer profile and match it to those in your account list. But identifying and prioritizing accounts is just the first step. The real magic of ABM comes when you put that data into practice by strategically discovering specific contacts within each target account 

While most marketers initially think the next step is to start engaging with the accounts on their target account lists, the next steps inevitably become hydrating those accounts by discovering net-new contacts within those accounts through the art of contact discovery. Remember, account insights and profiling uses mass amounts of data to primarily help you identify what the “perfect account” is,  but it doesn’t help you identify people within those accounts. 

Paving a path to step two of creating epic ABX: Contact discovery

Gathering accurate account insights and profiling your ideal customers is only the beginning of your exciting quest to create epic ABX. In our next blog in the series, we’ll look at how to discover contacts in your existing target accounts—as well as net-new accounts—to ensure you’re targeting the right people.

The post Find Your Ideal Customer with Account Insights and Profiling appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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