Email Analytics: The 8 Email Marketing Metrics & KPIs You Should Be Tracking

There’s a lot to say when it comes to how to do email marketing well. We could talk for days about the most critical components of an optimized email, common email marketing mistakes you might be making, and examples of brilliant email marketing that will inspire you. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how optimized your emails are if you can’t see the results of your efforts — not to mention measure whether email is helping you hit your goals.

So before sending your next email, pause for a few minutes and ask yourself: What is the goal of my email marketing? Is it to grow my subscriber database? Generate more leads? To convert more existing leads into customers?

Whatever you decide your goal is (and you can have more than one), the next thing you need to do is figure out which metrics you’ll need to track in order to determine how you’re progressing toward that goal.

Let’s take a look at the metrics you should be paying attention to in your email marketing efforts. We’ll start with the metrics every email marketer should be tracking, and then we’ll take a look at how to tie certain metrics to your specific goals.

1. Clickthrough Rate

  • What It Is: The percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links contained in a given email.
  • How to Calculate It: (Total clicks OR unique clicks ÷ Number of delivered emails) * 100
  • Example: 500 total clicks ÷ 10,000 delivered emails * 100 = 5% clickthrough rate

(Using either total clicks or unique clicks in the calculation above works, as long as you use the same approach consistently.)

Clickthrough rate (CTR) is likely the first answer you’ll get when you ask an email marketer what metrics they track. It’s what I like to call the “day-to-day” email marketing metric, because it lets you easily calculate performance for every individual email you send. From there, you can track how your CTR changes over time.

CTR is also frequently used for determining the results of A/B tests, as these tests are often designed with the intention of finding new ways to get more clicks in your emails. Clickthrough rate is a very important metric for all email marketers to be tracking, as it gives you direct insight into how many people on your list are engaging with your content and interested in learning more about your brand or your offer. Read this blog post to learn what a “good” clickthrough rate is, according to industry benchmarks.

(HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to easily set up click tracking in your emails using HubSpot.)

2. Conversion Rate

  • What It Is: The percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link within an email and completed a desired action, such as filling out a lead generation form or purchasing a product.
  • How to Calculate It: (Number of people who completed the desired action ÷ Number of total emails delivered) * 100
  • Example: 400 people who completed the desired action ÷ 10,000 total email delivered * 100 = 4% conversion rate

After an email recipient has clicked through on your email, the next goal is typically to get them to convert on your offer — in other words, to take the action that your email has asked them to take. So if you’re sending an email to offer your audience the chance to download, say, a free ebook, you’d consider anyone who actually downloads that ebook to be a conversion.

Because your definition of a conversion is directly tied to the call-to-action in your email, and your call-to-action should be directly tied to the overall goal of your email marketing, conversion rate is one of the most important metrics for determining the extent to which you’re achieving your goals. (We’ll discuss more specific goal-related metrics later.)

In order to measure conversion rate on your emails, you’ll need to integrate your email platform and your web analytics. You can do this by creating unique tracking URLs for your email links that identify the source of the click as coming from a specific email campaign.

3. Bounce Rate

  • What It Is: The percentage of your total emails sent that could not be successfully delivered to the recipient’s inbox.
  • How to Calculate It: (Total number of bounced emails ÷ Number of emails sent) * 100
  • Example: 75 bounced emails ÷ 10,000 total emails sent * 100 = 0.75% bounce rate

There are two kinds of bounces to track: “hard” bounces and “soft” bounces.

Soft bounces are the result of a temporary problem with a valid email address, such as a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server. The recipient’s server may hold these emails for delivery once the problem clears up, or you may try re-sending your email message to soft bounces.

Hard bounces are the result of an invalid, closed, or non-existent email address, and these emails will never be successfully delivered. You should immediately remove hard bounce addresses from your email list, because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key factors to determine an email sender’s reputation. Having too many hard bounces can make your company look like a spammer in the eyes of an ISP. (Read this blog post to learn more about the difference between hard and soft bounces.)

sent-vs-delivered-email.png

4. List Growth Rate

  • What It Is: The rate at which your email list is growing.
  • How to Calculate It: ([(Number of new subscribers) minus (Number of unsubscribes + email/spam complaints)] ÷ Total number of email addresses on your list]) * 100
  • Example: (500 new subscribers – 100 unsubscribes and email/spam complaints) ÷ 10,000 email addresses on the list * 100 = 4% list growth rate

Aside from the call-to-action metrics (CTR, conversion rates), you’ll also want to be keeping tabs on your list growth and loss. Of course, you should be aiming to grow your list in order to extend your reach, expand your audience, and position yourself as an industry thought leader. But believe it or not, there’s a natural decay of your email marketing list, and it expires by about 22.5% every year — which means that it’s more important than ever to pay attention to growing your subscriber list and keeping it at a healthy size.

5. Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate

  • What It Is: The percentage of email recipients who clicked on a “share this” button to post email content to a social network, and/or who clicked on a “forward to a friend” button.
  • How to Calculate It: (Number of clicks on a share and/or forward button ÷ Number of total delivered emails) * 100
  • Example: 100 clicks on a share/forward button ÷ 10,000 total delivered emails * 100 = 1% email sharing/forwarding rate

The rate at which your email recipients forward or share your email with others may not seem all that significant, but it’s arguably one of the most important metrics you should be tracking.

Why? Because this is how you generate new contacts. The folks on your email list are already in your database. So while conversion is still a primary focus, this doesn’t help you attract new leads. Encourage your readers to pass along your email to a friend or colleague if they found the content useful, and start tracking how many new people you can add to your database this way. (Read this blog post for tips on getting people to forward your emails.)

Keep a careful eye on your sharing rates to discover which types of articles and offers tend to get shared the most, and use that insight when you plan email campaigns in the future.

6. Overall ROI

  • What It Is: The overall return on investment for your email campaigns. In other words, total revenue divided by total spend.
  • How to Calculate It: [($ in additional sales made minus $ invested in the campaign) ÷ $ invested in the campaign] * 100
  • Example: ($1,000 in additional sales – $100 invested in the campaign / $100 invested in the campaign) * 100 = a 900% return on investment for the campaign

This is the most basic formula to calculate ROI — but there are several ways to approach calculating the ROI of your email campaigns. Depending on your type of business, you might prefer a different one.)

As with every marketing channel, you should be able to determine the overall ROI of your email marketing. If you haven’t yet, set up an SLA system whereby you assign different values to various types of leads based on their likelihood to generate revenue for your company.

How many of each of these types of leads did you generate via email marketing? How does this translate to potential revenue? Actual revenue? These are the types of metrics that will help you show your boss and your sales team how valuable email marketing is as a channel that drives real, tangible results.

7. Open Rate

What It Is: The percentage of email recipients who open a given email.

Most email marketers are still bent over backwards trying to optimize their subject lines for higher open rates. While this can have a positive impact — and more opens are a great thing — they really should be focused on optimizing their clickthrough rates, instead.

The fact of the matter is that open rate is actually a very misleading metric for a few reasons. Most importantly, an email is only counted as “opened” if the recipient also receives the images embedded in that message. And a large percentage of your email users likely have image-blocking enabled on their email client. This means that even if they open the email, they won’t be included in your open rate, making it an inaccurate and unreliable metric for marketers, as it underreports on your true numbers.

You can get some value out of open rate as a metric if you use it as a comparative metric. For instance, if you compare the open rates of this week’s email send to last week’s email send (both to the same lists) it might give you some insight since the variables are somewhat controlled.

8. Unsubscribe Rate

What It Is: The percentage of email recipients unsubscribe from your send list after opening a given email.

As with open rate, the unsubscribe rate isn’t a reliable picture of the health of your email list. Many subscribers who are tired of receiving email messages from your brand won’t bother to go through the formal unsubscribe process. They’ll just stop opening, reading, and clicking on your email messages.

That’s why it’s much more effective to measure subscriber engagement by clickthrough rates and conversion rates. From there, you can keep an eye out on unengaged subscribers so you can consider removing them at some point, like we went over earlier. Checking your monthly unsubscribe rate is helpful for calculating your overall list growth rate, though, so do keep an eye on it every once in a while.

How to Know Which Email Metrics to Track, Based on Your Goals

The goal of your email marketing may be very different from the goals of another company like yours, and may even vary within your own company over time. But again, it’s crucial that you determine exactly what it is you’re looking to achieve with your email marketing before you begin (or continue) to send and measure your emails.

Here’s how you can align your specific goal with key metrics.

Subscriber List Growth Rate

If your focus is on growing the top of your funnel — attracting more visitors to your site, signing up more blog subscribers, getting more people to use your free tools, that kind of thing — your goal will probably be growing your subscriber list. Your emails will likely contain calls-to-action such as “Subscribe to Our Blog” or “Join Our Weekly Email List.” So of course, the most important metric you should be tracking for this goal is the growth rate of your subscriber list. (Read this blog post for more detailed tips on how to grow your subscriber list.)

subscriber-growth-hubspot-blog-1.png

Unengaged Subscribers

Just as you want to track and grow your subscribers, it’s also important to keep an eye on your unengaged subscribers — and consider removing them from your list altogether. Why? Because sending emails to people who aren’t engaged with your emails (called “graymail”) can hurt the deliverability of your email overall. Email clients might get tipped off by low engagement rates and deliver email from known-graymail senders straight to recipients’ “junk” folders, meaning your emails will technically get sent and delivered, but won’t necessarily be seen.

Here at HubSpot, we deliberately unsubscribed 250,000 people from HubSpot’s Marketing Blog, which included people who had opted in to receive emails about new content we published on the blog. This subscriber purge brought our total subscriber count from 550,000 down to 300,000. Read this blog post to learn more about why and how we purged our subscriber list, and why you might consider doing the same.

Number of New (or Total) Leads Generated

Maybe instead of focusing on subscribers, you’d like to work on growing lead generation. If this is the case, you should be sending emails that offer lead generation content — in other words, content that requires the viewer to fill out a lead capture form in order to access it.

If the goal of your email marketing is lead gen, you should be tracking how many leads you’re capturing every day, and every month. You can decide to focus on all leads generated, or only new ones added to your database, depending on your priorities. 

Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate

Finally, let’s say you want to focus more toward the middle/bottom of your marketing funnel, and convert more of your existing leads into customers. If this is your goal, the emails you’re sending will likely provide content more closely related to your business and your product or service. Your calls-to-action may include “Get a demo,” “Watch a Video of Our Product in Action,” or “Start a Free Trial.” If this is your goal, you should be tracking changes in your lead-to-customer conversion rate.

As obvious as this all seems, you’d be surprised how many email marketers determine their goals and then don’t bother to track their progress against them. Make sure that you’re able to track how closely you’re trending toward your goal at any point during the month, and that you’re looking carefully at any changes in these metrics month over month.

Navigating Email Marketing Metrics

The bottom line? Be smart about which metrics you’re tracking, and make sure you’re able to effectively measure your individual email performance, the health of your email list, and your progress toward your overarching goals. As long as you’re able to determine each of those, you’re on the right track for more effective email marketing.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Are Amazon ‘Sponsored Products’ Ads Worth It?

Say you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones or a new guitar tuner. Where would you start your search? Google, right?

Not so fast. Amazon came away with nearly 40% of the US ecommerce market in 2018. Google still remains the top search tool for B2B purchases and services and informational queries that lead to purchases, but Amazon is the dominant front runner in ecommerce.

Need help getting started with inbound ads on Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook? Book a free meeting with The Center for Inbound Advertising here.

So what does this mean for you?

When you’re thinking about your online advertising strategy, you want to meet your consumers where they are. And if you’re an ecommerce company, that place is — more likely than not — Amazon. 

That’s where Amazon advertising comes in. Amazon has several advertising programs to choose from, but the best one to get started with is Amazon Sponsored Products.

The Sponsored Product ads are really just image ads — similar to display ads in Google Ads — but the cool thing is that they appear in search results on Amazon right next to the searched products. So, when I search for “acoustic guitars” in Amazon I get this:

amazon sponsored ads acoustic guitarsThe only visible difference between the sponsored and the non-sponsored results is the gray “Sponsored” tag that appears above the product title. You’ll also see that sponsored products can appear above the rest of the results.

Does Amazon Advertising Work?

According to Ad Badger, the average cost per click (CPC) for Amazon PPC is $0.97. This is on par, if not less, than similar advertising on Google and other platforms, which means that there is opportunity for success using Amazon ads. 

The real question is “Will Amazon advertising work for me?” Even more specifically, you should be asking “Will I make more revenue than what I spend on the ads?”

The success you have on the platform will depend on a number of factors, including:

Strategy

Imagine that you have the perfect product and the perfect ad. Then, imagine that you spend too much of your marketing budget on irrelevant keywords. On the other hand, you could also bid on keywords that are too broad and competitive when cheaper and better suited keywords are out there. 

It’s your responsibility as you advertise on Amazon to continually optimize your ads for performance. Use “negative keywords” to exclude irrelevant traffic (and minimize wasted spend). Try out different keyword strategies, and be sure to create well-structured campaigns and ad groups within your ad account. Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for you.

Budget

PPC is a great model because you only pay for each person who clicks your ad. The higher your budget, the more potential clicks you’ll receive. When you’re evaluating your goals for Amazon ads, you’ll want to ensure that your budget matches your expectations. Here’s how you can do that: 

This number signifies the average percentage of visitors who actually converted. That means that, with some quick math, you can estimate how many purchases to expect from the amount of clicks you expect. This will help you reverse-engineer how many clicks it will take to turn into sales and, in turn, how much budget you should allocate to achieve that goal. 

Ad and Product Page Copy

In-person sales have the benefit of a sales or customer service representative who can position the product/solution, remove roadblocks to buy, and answer questions. If you’re selling on Amazon, however, you don’t get to provide those personalized touch points. That job rests with your copy. 

Your ad copy must do its best to convince shoppers that the product meets their needs and compel them to click on the ad. This improves the ad’s performance.

Also keep in mind the old marketing adage “A confused mind says ‘no.'” That means that the copy on your product page must also remove roadblocks and answer any anticipated questions a shopper might have. If prospects are confused or unsure, they will not click your ad, your conversion rate will suffer, and you will not achieve the ROI you want from your ads.

Visuals

Online shoppers aren’t able to hold your product in their hands before making a purchase. Even if you have the most awesome item to ever hit online shelves, you won’t move much of your inventory if your photos are unattractive or unclear — no matter how much you put into advertising. This is why product photography is so important when it comes to Amazon advertising and conversion. 

In addition to following Amazon’s compliance requirements, images on ads and on product pages should showcase features, action shots, and different angles… all in a visually appealing way that grabs the prospect’s attention and entices them to buy.

Positioning

Just because someone clicks on your ad doesn’t mean that they’ll buy — shoppers aren’t necessarily loyal. Buyers shop around; if your positioning in the marketplace doesn’t match the quality of your product or provide competitive pricing, you might actually lose out on sales. 

Imagine this scenario: 

A shopper is searching for a product and discovers your ad. They click on the ad and view your product page. On the same page is a “Sponsored products related to this item” section where they see the exact same product… only 25% less expensive. With all other things being equal, they are likely to bounce off your page and purchase the less expensive item. 

Imagine another scenario: 

Your product averages 3.7 out of 5 stars based on customer ratings. Another seller offers a similar product, only theirs averages around 4.7 out of 5. With all other things being equal, the shopper will go with the safe bet and purchase the product with the higher rating. 

There are a number of positioning factors that will affect your sales, including the sales you drive from your Amazon sponsored product ads. The best thing you can do is provide stellar customer service and keep an eye on the competition to ensure that your brand positioning is helping you rather than hurting you.

Will I See Better Results on Amazon vs. Google Ads?

A major difference between Google Ads and Amazon Sponsored Products is where people are in the purchasing process when they search on each platform. 

People searching on Amazon are more likely to be at the end of the buyer’s journey (i.e. closer to a purchasing decision). On Amazon, they know what product they want, and they are just looking for the right deal and provider. 

On the other hand, Google has more of a mixed bag of search queries, encompassing all stages of the buyer’s journey. This means your ad strategy can be much more flexible, targeting earlier stages of the buyer’s journey. That being said, not everyone searching in earlier stages of the buyer’s journey will be ready to make a purchase in the near future (if at all). 

Many product-based companies have no need to target those individuals, making Amazon just fine (and perhaps ideal) for their advertising strategy where the goal is to put a product in front of interested shoppers.

Getting Started With Amazon Ads

Now that you know the variables that can make your ad successful, you can get started with your Sponsored Products campaign. Here are the steps: 

  1. Sign up for Seller Central and follow the steps to create your account. 
  2. Create your Sponsored Products campaign. 
  3. Choose the products you want to promote with your ads. 
  4. Decide which keywords you want to target. 
  5. Determine your budget. 
  6. Create your first ad. 

Unlike other Amazon ad types, Sponsored Products are launched immediately upon completion. For more information about account and campaign setup, visit the Amazon Advertising page. 

Here are a few additional tips for getting started with Amazon Ads:

1. Win the Amazon Buy Box

The Buy Box is the box on an Amazon product detail page where customers can begin the purchasing process by adding items to their shopping carts.

amazon buy box

Since many sellers may end up selling the same item, not all sellers are eligible to win the Buy Box. Amazon only awards it to sellers who meet their minimum requirements, are selling at a competitive price, and have excellent seller metrics. 

According to BigCommerce, 82% of Amazon sales go through the Buy Box, so it’s essential to earn it from Amazon. This can be done by performing in a few key areas, including shipping time and price.

2. Implement a Cohesive Structure in Your Ad Account

Within your Ad Account, you’ll be able to build campaigns. Understanding the basic organizational structure within your Ad Account will help you optimize for performance. Here are the definitions for each component of Amazon’s tiered structure: 

  • Account – Your account is the place you’ll go to access any of your campaigns and seller tools. Think of it as the biggest bucket.
  • Campaign – It’s a great idea to build a campaign for each product category you’re targeting.
  • Ad Group – Each ad group will contain the ad that you’ve built and the corresponding keywords you’re targeting with that ad. The best practice is to be as specific with each ad group as possible to improve the performance of the associated ads.

Chart illustrating Amazon Ads hierarchy

3. Learn the Strategy Behind Keywords and Bidding

Just like Google Ads, Amazon Sponsored Products uses keywords to trigger your ads. Automatic targeting — allowing Amazon to choose your keywords for you — is often the right choice for new advertisers. If this does not appeal to you, or once you’ve accumulated some data from a running campaign, you can choose manual targeting where you pick your own keywords.

There are three types of keyword matching:

  • Broad Match – The prospect’s query matches your target keyword, including misspellings, synonyms, variations, and different word order. This is the most flexible and non-restrictive.
  • Phrase Match – The prospect’s query must precisely match the target keyword, or the prospect’s query must contain the target keyword.
  • Exact Match – This is the most restrictive type. The prospect’s query must match exactly to the target query. Your ad will not show with “similar” matches, only “exact” matches.

Understanding the pros and cons of each will help you determine what keywords and keyword matching to choose in order to boost your ad’s performance.

4. Utilize Reporting in Amazon Ads

Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In order to make the best choices for your campaign, you need to use a data-driven approach and monitor your results. 

Amazon provides advertisers with data about searches for particular keywords. Similar to Google Ads, you have to be an advertiser to get access to this informative data. The data includes which search terms are performing the best, enabling you to add new keywords and refine the performance of your campaigns.

For each keyword, the search terms report will include data on:

  • Campaign
  • Ad group
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Click thru rate
  • Cost per click
  • Conversions/number of orders placed
  • SKU for the sale
  • And more

If you have a product to sell, now is the time to consider using Amazon Sponsored Products ads. You’ll enjoy a reasonable cost per click and have a chance to promote new products at the top of an Amazon search.

How to Create a Revenue-Generating Google Ads Campaign

The trouble with search engine optimization (SEO) is that it takes a long time to work and doesn’t come with any guarantees. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, on the other hand, can provide results a lot faster. For companies that have no organic presence and need ROI fast, a paid ad is sometimes your best bet for driving traffic to (and conversions from) your website.

The problem is that your competitors are using the same search terms and keywords you will. Not only do you need to know how to build a campaign through Google Ads, but you also need to know how to stand out from the crowd.

What Is a Google Ads Campaign?

Google Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) system for advertising in the search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google. You can create Campaigns, which are used to organize groups of similar ads. Your Google Ads account can have one or many Campaigns running at a time.

Let’s start with a few real examples of Google Ads campaigns — a service formerly known as Google AdWords — and then throw in some pro tips for succeeding with your own search engine marketing (SEM) strategy. By the time we’re done, you’ll be an expert.

1. New Breed Marketing

Search term: what is inbound marketing

new breed marketing google ads campaign

Links to:

new breed marketing landing page

Some searchers are experiencing a pain that’s led them on a path to purchase, but they may not be clear on what it is that will solve that pain. That’s the thinking behind the first Google Ads campaign example above.

New Breed Marketing, an agency partner of HubSpot, is an inbound marketing service provider. Because New Breed’s customers might not know what they’re signing up for with “inbound marketing,” the company sought to define the term for them — helping buyers confirm that inbound marketing is indeed what they’re looking for.

New Breed Marketing’s Google Ads result above is as simple as search engine marketing gets. The meta description is just one sentence long but indicates to searchers that inbound marketing is a “process” to be invested in.

Meanwhile, the blue link, called a Site Extension, itself promises to explain inbound marketing in the form of a downloadable “guide.” This ensures those who click through to the website are prepared to submit their contact information and become a lead in exchange for that guide. Remember, Google Ads campaigns cost you money every time somebody clicks on one of your ads — you need to get something out of those clicks.

2. Nettitude

Search term: cybersecurity

nettitude google ads campaign

Links to:

nettitude landing page

In general, the broader the search term, the less likely the searcher will want to buy something right away (a pay-per-click concept called “match types“). In the Ads campaign above, however, Nettitude bid on a broad, one-word search term — “cybersecurity.” While this broad search term doesn’t target a specific searcher, the details of their Google Ad ensures the link can satisfy many different types of searchers no matter what their interest was when they typed in the word.

Nettitude’s AdWords campaign, above, does two things well:

First, its meta-description has several value propositions that most cybersecurity customers would be receptive to. This includes a “2 hour response time” and a “free initial consultation” to make a prospect’s initial outreach convenient and low-commitment.

Second, the ad displays a phone number directly on the page. When you bid on a search term that yields such a broad, diverse group of people, getting them on the phone is often the easiest way to nurture their interest so they don’t wander off to another search result and forget about you.

3. Rock Content

Search term: content marketing course

rock content google ads campaignLinks to:

rock content landing page

Rock Content, an agency partner of HubSpot, is a content marketing service based in Brazil.

Its Ads campaign bid on a search term that’s only somewhat related to the service Rock Content is offering on its landing page. Here’s why it works.

The search term “content marketing course” is intent on finding classes that help marketers increase their content marketing knowledge. Rock Content looks to pivot searchers from taking a class for improving their content knowledge to entering an “evaluation” for determining how much they already know.

This evaluation might not satisfy every searcher, but it is a smart way of pivoting their interest to a related service and introducing them to Rock Content’s offerings at the same time.

4. Destination Canada

Search term: cheap holiday destinations

destination canada google ads campaign

Links to:

destination canada landing page

Canada Destination’s Google Ads campaign above uses a searcher’s general interest in taking a holiday trip to advertise all the fun parts of Canada. Similar to the third example on this list, the strategy is to pivot off of a broad search term to drive value into its own offering. It’s not a casual article, but it’s also not a flight itinerary — that middle-of-the-funnel space is what makes this campaign work so well.

The link above also uses two sub-links beneath the main Site Extension, highlighting the key subjects covered in the website to maximize the ad’s click-through rate.

When people search for “cheap holiday destinations,” it can be hard to gauge their level of interest just right. When launching a Google Ads campaign, you don’t want your ad to be too broad to convert customers, but you also don’t want to be so close to the cash register that your searchers aren’t ready for what you’re offering them. Canada Destination’s digital tour of the country captures that middle ground perfectly, holding users’ interest without chasing them away with overly specific content.

5. FM Training

Search term: leed certification online

fm.training google ads campaignLinks to:

fm.training landing page

FM Training is a certification hub for facility managers (FMs), the same people who work to make their building facilities LEED-certified. Lots of coursework can go into earning this certification, but it can be a challenge to find curricula that caters to these professionals.

FM Training’s Ads campaign makes sure FMs know they’ve come to the right place.

While the five Site Extensions beneath the ad help users jump directly to the information they’re most interested in, the first sentence of the meta-description is what really reaches out to this audience: “FMs …” — the audience is clearly stated in terms they’d understand — “… see a salary increase of 6% or more within 1 yr.” The ad uses the limited space it has to send a message designed to encourage clicks and make the ad worth the investment.

6. LeftLane Sports

Search term: hiking boots for women

leftlane sports google ads campaignLinks to:

leftlane sports landing page

This campaign by LeftLane Sports is an example of local business advertising done right. The company doesn’t even need people to click on the link to make money from it.

If prospects in the Boston area search for “hiking boots for women,” they won’t just see a paid result by LeftLane Sports; they’ll see where the brand’s nearest storefront is and how long they’re open. It’s the perfect way to drive website traffic to the appropriate product pages and promote a local presence in the process.

1. Get a Google Ads account.

Before you can do anything, you’ll need to visit the Google Ads website and sign up for an account. 

As part of signing up for a Google Ads account, Google will automatically take you through the process of creating your first campaign, so be prepared with your financial information. Google takes its fee with each click, so your banking credentials are required during the setup process.

Note: There’s no need to worry about getting charged for ad spend as you go through your first campaign setup. You can always turn it off once you get through the registration process.

2. Set your Campaign Goals.

The Google interface will prompt you to select a goal type from the following three options: 

  • Get more calls
  • Get more website sales or signups
  • Get more visits to your physical location

This goal will be tied to your advertising campaign, so you’ll want to choose the one that most closely represents the results you want to see.

3. Complete the “Describe your business” section.

The Google interface will prompt you to select a goal type from the following three options: 

  • Get more calls
  • Get more website sales or signups
  • Get more visits to your physical location

This goal will be tied to your advertising campaign, so you’ll want to choose the one that most closely represents the results you want to see.

4. Designate your geographic area.

In this section, you’ll designate where you want your ads to appear. This is particularly helpful for local businesses. 

At the same time, if you are an online shop, you may be less concerned about geographic constraints. It’s still not a bad idea to consider where, exactly, the majority of your audience lives. If you don’t know, you may want to back up a step and consider your buyer personas first. Why spend money advertising to people in the Midwest if the bulk of your customers live in the Northeast?

You can also reach other countries if your company serves international buyers. Just be sure you’re prepared for any of the buyers who come your way as a result of your ads. You might pay a lot of money for visitors who can’t make a purchase if you’re not careful.

5. Set up keyword themes. 

Google will determine different themes based on your website content. You can customize your keywords based on their suggestions as a jumping off point for your campaign. 

Keep in mind you’ll be competing against many other companies for the same audience when choosing keywords for which you want your ad to show up. Take some time to think of the keywords that will reach people who are ready to buy. For instance, instead of using “luxury shoes” in your PPC ad, you can use keywords such as “red leather heels.” Maybe you’ll miss out on people who are looking for shoes of all types, but you’ll snag those who have a particular shoe in mind. They’ll be more likely to make a purchase if your ad leads to a landing page with red leather heels, and that will more than pay for their click.

You can also use negative keywords and save a lot of money on your clicks. These tell Google what you don’t want your ad to show up for. In other words, you can use keywords such as red leather heels, not stilettos.

6. Write your ad.

This is the most important aspect of your Google Ads education. The copy you use is what will convince potential buyers to click. You want to attract plenty of people, yes, but you also want those people to buy. If they don’t buy, you pay anyway. 

In this section, you’re setting up the headlines and meta descriptions for your first ad(s). Note that you can choose to set up multiple ads in a single campaign, though Google starts you off with one. 

For each add you create, you have three considerations: 

  • Headline
  • Description
  • Destination URL

interface where you write your google ad

Headline

Start with a great headline that uses search terms that will reach your niche. Google splits the headline up into three sections of 30 characters each, so make each character count. You might even need to use abbreviations, or you can search for shorter synonyms.

Description

After the headline, you get another 90 characters for the first description. Use this space to highlight any benefits. How will the product solve your buyers’ pains? Then, in the second description, you can capitalize on a feature.

Be ready to change these if you notice your ad isn’t gaining a lot of traction, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Destination URL

This is where you can choose where clicks on your ad go to. Just choose the page you want them to land on and paste the URL in the field.

7. Set your ad budget. 

Here, you’ll be designating your daily budget. 

You want to include enough money to make a difference, but you really don’t want to break the bank. You can manually set the bids for clicks, which gives you more control. This also means your ads will stop showing once your budget is spent. That means you won’t end up with a shocker of a bill later.

Once you start to review the results from your campaign, you can always adjust the budget.

8. Complete the “Budget and review” section. 

In this section, you’ll be reviewing your campaign settings. It’s best to double check each of the following: 

  • Your daily budget
  • Your monthly budget
  • The impressions you’ll get for that budget
  • The clicks you should expect based on the impressions
  • The location you’re targeting

 

9. Double check your double check.

It’s always a good idea to check over everything one more time before you set your ad in motion. Is everything spelled correctly? You’ll miss out on keyword searches if there’s a typo one of them. When you’re sure you did everything correctly, then take a deep breath and move on to the next step.

10. Set up billing.

Because Google charges per click, it needs the payment information during the Google Ads account setup. By providing your payment information, you’re giving Google the ability to charge accrued advertising costs from your campaign.

11. Hit Submit. 

By doing so, you’ve set up your first Google Ads campaign.

To create additional campaigns, perhaps with different or tighter keyword groups, you’ll want to select Campaigns from the page menu on the left. Then, click the blue plus button and choose New campaign. The Google interface will walk you through the additional steps. 

Beyond setting everything up correctly, you’ll also want to A/B test your results often. Change headlines, introduce new features, focus on different benefits — and then take note of the number of conversions. There’s always a way to make your ad perform better.

Why CRM and Marketing Automation Need Each Other

When I was younger and I listened to Hannah Montana sing “The Best of Both Worlds,” I didn’t fully understand what she meant.

Now, as a marketer, I get it.

Having the best of both worlds is the feeling you have when your company’s marketing automation software and CRM work in tandem.

But it’s not just about how much easier it makes your job. When the two software work together, your company will convert more MQLs to SQLs and make more sales.

In fact, marketing automation software can increase sales productivity by 14.5%.

That’s why marketing and sales teams need to integrate their software and work together.

Below, we’ll review what marketing automation and CRM software do and why they need to be integrated.

CRM and Marketing Automation

Before we dive into why marketing automation and CRM need each other, let’s discuss what each software does.

To start, marketing automation software helps marketers automate some of their processes such as sending email campaigns or posting social media posts.

Marketing teams use automation software to produce and promote content.

Additionally, this software includes reports and analytics for when leads visit your website, open an email, fill out a form, or read a blog.

Ultimately, the goal is to streamline the process of taking a lead, nurturing them, and moving them to a sales qualified lead. Essentially, it’s all about lead generation and personalization.

If your team needs more marketing qualified leads, a way to distribute content, or has a large email list, it’s time to invest in marketing automation software.

Some of the best marketing automation software includes HubSpot, MailChimp, and Marketo.

On the other hand, a CRM is a software that helps sales teams manage their pipeline and lead qualification processes.

A CRM will track customer data, including dates and notes of phone conversations, past purchase records, and emails.

Essentially, with this software, your salesperson can see the full picture of who a prospect is and their history with your company.

Ultimately, a CRM helps sales reps take prospects from sales qualified leads to customers.

If your salespeople lose track of prospects, forget to follow up, or you’ve outgrown your lead tracking system, it’s time to look into CRM.

A few of the best CRM platforms are HubSpot, Zoho, and Salesforce.

HubSpot is one of the best choices because the HubSpot Marketing Hub includes the foundational CRM functionalities, so you have both software in one.

However, for the optimal experience, you should use both the HubSpot Marketing Hub and advanced Sales Hub so you have more sophisticated features in the marketing automation and CRM.

Now that we’ve discussed what each software does and how they can help your team, you might be wondering, “Why do these need to work together?”

Well, when marketing automation and CRM software work together, they provide a seamless journey for your customers as they go from visitor to MQL to SQL to customer.

Additionally, integrating the two software will give your sales reps the full picture of a prospect’s interaction with your company. Your sales rep will know the marketing history of their prospects.

Plus, when marketing automation and CRM are integrated or in one software, your marketing and sales team can provide consistent messaging.

Let’s go through a tangible example of how the two software can work together.

To start, let’s say a marketer attracts a lead through a blog post, much like this one.

Perhaps that lead decides to download a lead magnet and fill out a form. Once that happens, the marketing team starts nurturing the lead through an email marketing campaign.

After taking enough action, that lead becomes a marketing qualified lead. After a while, let’s say they request a demo and are officially a sales qualified lead.

Once this happens, the sales rep who’s responsible for the demo goes to the marketing automation and CRM software to gather information on their interactions with the company.

They find out what offers the prospect has downloaded, what blogs they’ve read, who they are, and what company they work for.

This information informs the reps strategy for the demo call, so they’re prepared to answer the right questions and personalize the sales call.

If the marketing automation and CRM weren’t connected, your sales rep wouldn’t be able to find that information easily. Perhaps they even ask the prospect during the demo call, which irritates the prospect because they’ve already given your company that information and they’re repeating themselves.

That’s why the two need each other.

While you might have a system or process in place for lead tracking, it’s probably a manual process that comes with human error and prospects slipping through the cracks. You can’t scale a system like that.

Your marketing automation and CRM should be connected so your sales team has the right tools to close a deal.

Additionally, by integrating marketing automation and CRM software, your marketing and sales teams can work together.

For example, your marketing team might leave notes for your sales reps in a contact record about a previous interaction.

Or maybe your sales reps help your marketing team determine which content leads find the most helpful.

Integrating these systems should help you understand the gaps and friction points in your marketing and sales process. It can help you discover why leads aren’t moving from MQL to SQL or why prospects aren’t closing.

Ultimately, by integrating your CRM and marketing automation software, your team can:

  • Generate more qualified leads
  • Offer better visibility to marketing and sales teams
  • Shorten the sales process
  • Provide consistent messaging
  • Unify your data management
  • Improve the customer relationship
  • Enhance pipeline management
  • Develop cross-department relationships

Overall, integrating your CRM and marketing automation will make your marketing team, sales team, and customers happier, by streamlining the marketing and sales process.

How to Write an Incredible Startup Marketing Budget for 2020

As a marketer, it’s undeniably critical you’re fully aware of your own budget and resources, and use that information when making decisions.

For instance, let’s say you’re a marketer at a startup, and have decided to propose investing in Twitter Ads to the decision-makers at your company.

Of course, one of the biggest questions you’ll be asked is, “How much is this going to cost?”

If you’ve prepared a marketing budget, you can refer back to it for the answer. A budget shows how much you have to spend on campaigns overall, and the ‘Paid Advertising’ section shows how much you intend to spend on social ads.

With numbers from the budget, you can demonstrate how Twitter Ads fit into the overall strategy, and prove your team can afford to make those purchases.

Additionally, when you know the revenue available for marketing efforts, you can then decide how to maximize your spending to align with your goals.

Marketing budgets are imperative to a company’s success. However, if you work for a smaller startup, resources and money can be tight, making it difficult to determine how much should be spent on marketing.

Here, let’s explore the typical budget for marketing teams at start-ups, so you have a ballpark to consider when determining your own team’s marketing budget.

Marketing Costs for a Startup

When your company is new it can be confusing to determine an initial marketing budget. In some cases, budget decisions are top-down, inspired by competitors, or made by setting a goal. If all of those routes don’t fit your startup’s operations, begin with just one thing: revenue.

Later, we’ll explore a few more expenses to take into consideration when planning your marketing budget, but first let’s talk about how you can use revenue to start fleshing out how much you can spend.

Figuring out your gross revenue and how much of that is going to go towards your marketing budget is going to be your biggest asset when figuring out how much you’re going to spend.

You’re going to use money from your gross revenue to fund your marketing budget. So, how much of your gross revenue will you need? Well, according to a recent survey, the average marketing budget for startups is 11.2% of overall revenue, in order to have enough to build brand awareness and start attracting leads.

To find your gross revenue, calculate your total number of sales. From there, you can figure out how much you’re going to spend on your budget. For startups that don’t have gross revenue yet, estimate how much you are expecting to make over a year and use those numbers as benchmarks.

For another resource to help calculate revenue, try an online calculator, like this one from Small Business Association. The process of building a budget based on revenue is helpful for startups because it’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of how much you’re making, and how much you’re willing to spend.

Now that we’ve gone over how to make a budget, let’s go over some considerations to take into account once you’ve solidified your budget.

Startup marketing budget considerations

So, what should you even put into your budget?

Once you’ve got the overall budget of your company’s total revenue, you can break down the costs. Think of factors that will come up naturally in a marketer’s day-to-day, and what resources you’ll need to make that happen.

You can put this information in a spreadsheet, or you can always use a template, like these free marketing offerings from HubSpot. There are no rules with budget design, as long as it’s comprehensible and detailed enough to be useful.

For instance, it’d be smart to include factors such as:

  • Technology — When you are creating campaigns, factor in the technology you need to use, such as software to build and maintain a product page.
  • Research — If you haven’t yet discovered your target audience, you may need to invest in market research. This doesn’t have to be an expenditure if you don’t have the resources, though. For instance, this post shows you how to conduct market research yourself.
  • Automation — Services exist to automate most of the marketing process for you, like organizing leads and website management. This can be advantageous to businesses who don’t have the resources to spend money on extra hands to complete projects.
  • Production — In this category, note any expenses for what you need to create marketing messages, such as graphic design, photography, or videos. Instead of paying for multiple different services, you could hire a freelancer to fit these roles. They wouldn’t be a permanent new addition, but could use their expertise in a pinch.
  • Paid Advertising — Are you planning to run ads on TV, radio, or online? This is the category where you factor in those costs. Remember, you can find figures on how much you can expect to spend on paid ads — take a look at our Advertising guide to explore prices on anything from PPC ads to social media ads.
  • Branding — These are assets you use to build the first impression of your company, like business cards, signs, billboard ads, or laptop stickers.
  • Content Marketing — This section will detail how much you’re going to allocate to the content you will deliver. This is also an area where you don’t need to shell out a ton — between automation services, like HubSpot or Sprout Social, and content ideas you can produce for free, you can flex your budget to fit your financial needs.
  • Traditional Advertising — If applicable to your business, make a section for traditional advertising methods. Paid advertising occurs mostly online, but traditional advertising refers to marketing efforts outside of that. Factors to include in this section are print, billboards, etc.
  • Unexpected — Things break, don’t work, or sometimes take more time than projected. When you figure out your budget, be sure to plan for costs that may come up unexpectedly, such as extra fees from advertising.

Once you’ve chosen your sections, you can start deciding how much of your budget will be beneficial in each area. As a guide, think about your business and campaign goals. From those goals, choose the sections you want to invest the most in.

Working from your business goals helps you make guided budgeting decisions. For example, if your campaign goal is to increase brand awareness, you’ll probably want to devote the most to branding, content marketing, and paid advertising.

You may not need to factor all of these expenses into your budget — or, you might need to factor all of them. It depends on the needs of your business, but remember that you can play around with free methods for most of these costs, if even periodically.

For example, if you are certain that automated software will help your startup, see what software offers free trials or free services that you can use to see if it’s worth the cost for you later on..

Making a budget helps the growth of your business. Your marketing budget keeps track of your expenses and allocates funds towards essential resources. Additionally, it enables you to plan for the future based on campaign goals.

To make sure your spending is under control, having a marketing budget is critical, and gives you the reassurance that you won’t put the company in danger with every marketing decision you want to make.

7 Amazingly Effective Lead Nurturing Tactics

As companies adopt inbound marketing as a way to generate more leads, the importance of having an effective lead nurturing strategy becomes very clear. In most cases only a relatively small percentage of your inbound leads will be ready to make an immediate purchase, leaving upwards of 90% of your inbound leads on the table.

Implementing an effective lead nurturing strategy can have a huge impact on the results of your inbound marketing strategy.

In 2018, lead generation, sales, and lead nurturing were the top three organizational objectives for content marketers. 

You want to actively move the prospects you’ve created through your marketing and lead generation efforts, to the point where they become paying customers. Some tactics on how to nurture leads are through targeted content, multi-channel nurturing, multiple touches, timely follow-ups, and personalization.

Despite the clear benefits of lead nurturing, marketers can struggle to build the right strategy around it. According to the 2019 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Survey, 60% of respondents gave their nurture programs a failing grade.

There’s a huge opportunity for savvy marketers like you to implement effective lead nurturing strategies and gain an advantage over your competition.

So you are probably wondering…

  • Which lead nurturing tactics work best?
  • What do super successful marketers do differently?
  • Or how do I get started with lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is of course just one component that goes into executing an inbound marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn what super successful inbound marketers are doing differently to attract traffic, convert leads and close customers you can check out this comprehensive resource – An Epic Guide to Creating an Inbound Marketing Strategy.

Now let’s get down to it – we’ve read through dozens of reports, dug into the most recent data about lead nurturing and compiled this list of the seven amazingly effective lead nurturing tactics.

7 Amazingly Effective Lead Nurturing Tactics

1. Leverage targeted content.

When it comes to lead nurturing, one size certainly does not fit all. As the research proves, strategically nurturing your leads using targeted content can significantly improve the results of your inbound marketing strategy.

Using targeted content for lead nurturing may seem obvious, but it’s something that marketers are struggling with. Last year Forrester Research reported that 33% of B2B marketers cite “targeted delivery of content” (i.e., delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time) as their biggest lead nurturing challenge.

There are a few prerequisites for using targeted content for lead nurturing. First of all, you need to understand each of your unique buyer personas. Of course, you then need to create an assortment of targeted content designed to nurture each of your personas based on their interests, goals, objectives, and marketing triggers.

Lastly, you need to have a marketing automation platform in place to help you identify, segment and target your unique buyer personas as you scale your inbound marketing strategy.

2. Use multi-channel lead nurturing techniques.

In the past, most lead nurturing strategies involved setting up a simple email drip campaign that would send out generic emails to a list of prospects.

Today, marketers like you are looking for new lead nurturing tactics and technologies that go beyond the limits of email. With the help of powerful marketing automation platforms, savvy marketers are now executing multi-channel lead nurturing strategies.

Effective multi-channel lead nurturing most commonly involve a combination of marketing automation, email marketing, social media, paid retargeting, dynamic website content and direct sales outreach. Because there are so many tactics involved, to execute this properly, you really need to ensure that your sales and marketing teams are well aligned and working cohesively.

3. Focus on multiple touches.

While the buyers journey for every product and service can be quite different, research from the Marketing Lead Management Report indicates that on average, prospects receive ten marketing touches from the time they enter the top of funnel until they’re a closed won customers.

Interestingly, another research study from Demand Gen suggests that 49% of marketers include less than five touches in their lead nurturing programs. If you’re in this category, it might be time to revamp your lead nurturing efforts a bit.

As you can imagine, the most successful lead nurturing strategies deliver content that helps prospects progress through the buyer’s journey by addressing common questions and concerns. In addition to email tactics, consider how you can use a mix of content types like social media, blog posts, whitepapers, interactive calculators, or even direct mail, to nurture your prospects into customers.

4. Follow up with leads in a timely manner. 

The benefits of immediate follow up calls seem quite evident, but most organizations still aren’t acting very quickly. A recent article in Harvard Business Review highlighted the surprisingly slow response times of most US based companies. Here are a few benchmarks from the study which included feedback from more than 2,240 US companies:

  • The average first response time of B2B companies to their leads was 42 hours
  • Only 37% of companies responded to their leads within an hour
  • 24% of companies took more than 24 hours
  • 23% of the companies never responded at all

Automated lead nurturing can help you reach large groups of prospects, but a timely followup email or a phone call is still quite often the best way to convert inbound leads into qualified sales opportunities. As several research studies have shown, the odds of converting a lead into a sales opportunity are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following a website conversion.

When you make a timely, well researched call to an inbound lead it’s far more effective than any volume of cold calling. You know exactly what the prospects is researching based their recent browsing behaviour and you also have enough information about the prospect to do some initial research about the organization they work for and their specific role within the company.

5. Send personalized emails.

Several research studies indicate that email marketing continues to be the most effective tactic for lead nurturing.

The research also consistently shows that personalization tends to produce significantly better results than generic marketing. A study by Accenture found that 41% of consumers switched businesses due to a lack of personalization.

As highlighted in this helpful blog post, there are all kinds of ways you can personalize your emails to improve your lead nurturing strategy. You can send triggered emails when someone downloads your gated content, clicks on links in your emails, visits certain pages on your website, or when they demonstrate a high level of engagement.

When you combine the power of marketing personalization with behavioral triggered emails you can deliver the right marketing messages to the right people, at exactly the right times.

6. Use lead-scoring tactics.

For those who are new to the concept of lead scoring, it is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization.

Lead scoring can be implemented in most marketing automation platforms by assigning numeric values to certain website browsing behaviors, conversion events, or even social media interactions.

The resulting score is used to determine which leads should be followed up with directly by a sales rep or which leads need to be nurtured further down the funnel.

Based on this research, it seems as though lead scoring is an effective lead nurturing tactic that most marketers simply aren’t taking advantage of yet.

7. Be sure your sales and marketing strategies are aligned.

According to a study by market research firm CSO Insights, when both sales and marketing share responsibility for lead nurturing, companies experience a significant financial boosts. In fact, organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams experience 36% higher customer retention rates.

In order for both sales and marketing to contribute to lead nurturing you’ll need to identity when prospects should be transitioned between teams as they progress through the funnel. In creating your lead nurturing strategy, think about how you can use triggers like lead scoring, page views, workflow enrollment, conversion events or sales contact to transition leads from automation to direct one-on-one outreach.

The shared expectations, responsibilities and goals for this collaboration between sales and marketing should be outlined in a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA). Creating a formal sales and marketing SLA will help the two teams hold each other accountable for converting leads and effectively nurturing them into paying customers.

Leveraging Lead Nurturing Tactics

In review, let’s quickly recap the seven most effective lead nurturing tactics:

1. Targeted content: Content intrigues, entertains, and delights audiences that could become qualified leads.

2. Multi-channel lead nurturing: Try to reach your audiences on multiple online channels, rather than just relying on email.

3. Multiple Touches – Prospects receive an average of 10 touches from the time they enter the top of the funnel until they’re a closed-won customer.

4. Timely Follow Ups: The odds of a lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are much greater when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after an inbound lead converts on your website.

5. Personalized Emails: Personalization benefits both your marketing and your customer retention.

6. Lead Scoring: This strategy helps you determine which leads you should really take time to follow up with.

7. Sales and Marketing Alignment: Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams experience 36% higher customer retention rates.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2016, but was updated for comprehensiveness in March 2020. 

Local Lead Generation: The Tips, Tricks, and Tools to Do It Right

Let’s imagine you manage a balloon animal artist collective in Omaha, Nebraska. You notice your company’s growth is plateauing. You mostly serve a strange crop of repeat customers who throw a lot of parties and really like balloon animals, but they can only do so much for you.

You realize you need new business and decide a base of interested contacts would be a great place to start. In other words, you need to generate new leads, but you’re not sure what you’re supposed to do.

Your company isn’t some multinational balloon animal conglomerate — it’s just a collective that features three of the top ten most celebrated balloon animal artists in the greater Omaha area. And you only book customers in Douglas County (that’s where Omaha is — I just looked it up.)

If you’re trying to generate leads for your business, it doesn’t make sense to employ the same lead generation strategies as companies that operate on a global scale. Instead, you would do something called local lead generation.

Let’s get a picture of what that concept is and how to do it right.

Local Lead Generation Tips

Local Lead Generation Software

What is Lead Generation?

Before understanding what local lead generation is, it might help to know what lead generation itself is. As per HubSpot’s own definition, “Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting a strangers and prospects into people who have indicated an interest in your company’s product or service. Some examples of lead generators are job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content.”

There’s a wide variety of lead generation strategies available, including tactics specific to social media platforms and lead generation through paid-per-click (PPC) ads.

A solid lead generation strategy is an invaluable asset for a business of any shape or size. So that brings us to the point of this article — how can doctors, dentists, smaller law firms, contractors, construction companies, and any other business that operates regionally turn prospects into leads?

More bluntly, how can a local business construct and leverage an effective lead generation infrastructure?

Local Lead Generation

On a fundamental level, local lead generation is just another category of lead generation. That might sound obvious, but it’s still helpful to keep in mind. You’ll be using the concept’s same core principles, but you’ll apply them within specific parameters. Here are some important factors and tactics to consider, and what they mean in the context of local lead generation.

Local SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is essentially the process of expanding a company’s visibility in the organic search results on engines like Google. Its endgame is to drive more visitors to a company’s site, increasing chances for more conversions.

Ranking well on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) is one of the most important factors for local lead generation, but ranking locally is a different process than ranking nationally.

To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user.

There are several strides you can take to ensure that your local SEO strategy is optimal and effective. These steps include improving your website’s internal linking structure, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, engaging with customers on social media, and ensuring your contact information is consistent online.

This is obviously a very high-level overview of local SEO. For a more thorough, technical explanation of the optimization process, check out this article.

Local SEM

HubsSpot defines SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, as “using paid advertising to ensure that your business’s products or services are visible in search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user types in a certain keyword, SEM enables your business to appear as a result for that search query.” In a nutshell, it’s the process of placing targeted advertisements on search engine pages.

The practice can be leveraged by businesses of any size and provides another excellent avenue for local companies to generate leads. Like SEO, targeted search engine ads are rooted in search interest — meaning high ranking SEM ads generally bring in already engaged prospects.

If your ad placements can rank well for regional search inquiries and keywords, you should be in a good position to generate local, interested leads. To learn more about SEM, check out this article.

Landing Pages, Forms, and Offers

Landing pages — website pages specifically dedicated to turning visitors into leads — are central to almost any virtual lead generation effort. A landing page contains lead forms that ask visitors for their contact information, but they won’t give that information up for nothing.

The process is transactional. Prospects can’t be expected to dole out their phone numbers or email addresses without receiving something in return. That “something” is known as an offer. It’s some sort of incentive that is designed to drive interest in a company while establishing its credibility.

Offers are often content-based. Whitepapers, ebooks, and webinars are all examples of potentially compelling offers. But offers don’t always have to be content-specific — particularly when it comes to local businesses.

Local companies might get more out of offering a discount or a free consultation in exchange for a prospect’s email. No matter how your business operates, well-constructed landing pages and compelling offers are crucial when it comes to converting an interested website visitor into a legitimate lead.

There are also various kinds of software available to aid your local lead generation efforts.

1.HubSpot Marketing Hub

The HubSpot Marketing Hub’s suite of features can assist with your audience targeting efforts. It contains resources that provide real-time SEO suggestions to help you tailor a content strategy to your local audience.

It also enables more sophisticated and effective promotion over social media and other online marketing avenues. Businesses can also leverage the platform to design compelling calls to action and personalize messaging based on location, traffic source, buyer persona, and more.

Ultimately, The HubSpot Marketing Hub is an affordable option for local businesses looking to attract and garner interest from prospects. It provides the necessary resources for any local business to get a picture of who its customers are, how they’re interacting with its marketing efforts, and what it can do to translate prospects’ interest into legitimate leads.

2. Google Search Console

Google Search Console can be an invaluable asset to any local SEO strategy. The software brings data about where your content appears in Google’s search results to light and shows how often search visitors are interacting with your site when it appears on search result pages.

The console’s reports provide legitimate, quantifiable visibility into the impact of your content marketing, considering factors like clicks, impressions, and page rank. It also offers insight into keywords or phrases people are searching for when your site appears on the results page — a powerful resource for coming up with new content ideas based on the keywords your prospects are actually searching.

3. OptinMonster

OptinMonster is a conversion optimization toolkit that features resources to generate leads, gain subscribers, and ultimately provide sales opportunities from your site’s traffic.

It contains templates to create offers and a powerful targeting and segmentation engine — taken together, these tools can identify when to show the right visitors offers relevant to their interests. It also has analytics resources to measure the efficacy of your campaigns. 

Source: OptinMonster

4. Google Ads

Google Ads can be one of the most mission-critical components of a local business’s SEM efforts. And the software’s HubSpot integration allows companies to identify and reach highly-targeted local audiences.

It can use any CRM data point to serve as a reference for targeted messages — an asset to local businesses looking to pinpoint who and where their potential customers’ interest is coming from.

It also lets small businesses set their own advertising budgets by offering insight into which ads are most effective — allowing local companies to keep careful tabs on the ROI of their paid ads.

5. Typeform

Typeform allows you to capture more leads with engaging interactive forms. The software features mobile-ready contact forms, surveys, quizzes, and more — all from premade or custom templates.

Its automatic tracking tools allow you to pinpoint where your most engaged audience is coming from — whether it be specific social media channels, your website’s home or contact page, or any other source that feeds leads to your business.

No matter the shape, size, or nature of your company, gaining exposure to interested prospects will always be in your best interest. Local businesses still need to grow, and new customers are central to that process. Companies with any sort of online presence should always be looking to generate new leads — no matter how far or wide their geographical reach extends.

So when you’re ready to take your balloon animal collective to the upper echelon of the Omaha, Nebraska novelty party entertainment scene, be sure to look into the different local lead generation strategies explored in this article.

Remote Smarketing 101: How to Align Distributed Marketing and Sales Teams

To create the optimal customer experience, it’s undeniably critical your sales and marketing teams are well-aligned.

If you don’t, your prospects will suffer.

For instance, imagine this: your prospect has been researching a new video conferencing tool for weeks.

She’s finally found one company she’s extremely interested in — yours.

Before calling a sales rep, your prospect decides to read numerous blog posts on your website. She also downloads an ebook, watches your company’s YouTube videos, and even chats in a few of your community forums.

Once your marketing materials have convinced her your product could be a good fit, she decides to call one of your company’s sales rep.

Unfortunately, the sales rep has no background knowledge on the content with which the prospect has already interacted. The sales rep begins a generic introductory sales pitch, not realizing your prospect is almost ready to buy — she just has a few final questions.

This results in a less-than-ideal user experience for your prospect, who won’t feel valued as someone who’s been interacting with your brand’s content for weeks already.

Additionally, it isn’t an ideal experience for your company’s sales or marketing teams, either. If the sales rep was aware of the content with which the prospect has interacted, they’d have an easier time connecting with the prospect and understanding her needs upfront.

Ultimately, well-aligned sales and marketing teams have a major impact on your business’ bottom line. In fact, companies with well-aligned sales and marketing teams generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts.

However, if your marketing and sales teams are primarily remote or operate out of different locations, it can be more challenging to align the teams than it would be in-person. That’s where good remote leadership comes into play.

Here, I’ve spoken with Debbie Farese, HubSpot’s former Director of Sales Enablement and current Director of Global Web Strategy, and Matt Hambor, HubSpot’s Corporate Sales Manager, to gather insights into how you might align your own distributed marketing and sales teams.

3 Tips for Aligning Distributed Marketing and Sales Teams

1. Ensure your goals are aligned across distributed marketing and sales teams.

Ultimately, to align distributed marketing and sales teams, it’s critical you ensure both teams have clearly identified mutually-beneficial goals.

Debbie Farese told me: “Goal alignment is the best way to ensure sales and marketing teams are aligned, no matter where they sit. For marketing, this means looking at metrics that factor in the quality of leads generated, not just the quantity. Examples are lead-to-qualified-lead rates, close rates, revenue per lead, etc.

Farese added, “For sales, this means committing to working the leads that marketing generates and tracking this along with success in closing deals. Examples are work rates, productivity per rep, etc.”

Ultimately, it’s not enough to say you’ve aligned goals across teams. Instead, you need to prove it, with some of the metrics Farese mentions above. And, whether your team is remote or in-office, you’ll want to continue to foster meetings that allow both teams to pivot if your current strategy isn’t enabling the teams to work hand-in-hand effectively.

For instance, let’s say your sales team has identified “inform customers of new product features” as a major 2020 goal. However, this goal hasn’t been properly communicated with the marketing team.

Undoubtedly, this causes friction for the prospect. A prospect might receive tons of high-quality marketing materials before speaking with a sales rep — including ebooks, blog posts, webinars, newsletters, and YouTube videos — but they’ll feel caught-off guard if most marketing materials don’t mention the product’s new features.

It makes it easier for both your sales and marketing teams to effectively perform their roles if both teams are well-aligned in a few critical goals.

And, most importantly, it makes it easier on your prospects and customers if your teams are aligned. You don’t want your prospects to feel like your company is disorganized, or that they’re receiving disparate information from different teams within your larger organization.

2. Have your marketing team listen to sales calls or join Slack conversations.

If your sales team is largely remote, that likely means your sales reps function primarily via video or conference calls to close deals, rather than in-person customer meetings. This could make it easier to integrate marketing into the sales process, or enable marketing leaders to listen, on occasion, to prospect conversations to ensure the marketing team is delivering relevant content.

For instance, Farese told me, “Through remote work, it’s easier than ever for marketing to listen in on customer and prospect calls to understand their persona even better, develop empathy for sales reps, and get an understanding for what content and messaging really resonates.”

Additionally, Matt Hambor mentioned as a leader of a remote team, it’s critical you “encourage everyone to contribute to communication via Slack, email, or text. If you hear a good idea or success story from a member of your team, encourage them to share it with the larger group.”

This concept can also help align your marketing and sales teams — for instance, you might invite members of your marketing team to your sales team’s Slack channel, so they can take note of customer concerns and successes and consider using those stories as Case Studies or by highlighting the customer in a company newsletter.

3. Create both formal and informal opportunities for sales and marketing to collaborate.

Matt Hambor, who’s been managing a majority remote sales team for over two years, told me a few tactics he’s used to facilitate team bonding and cross collaboration. Hambor says, “Setting clear expectations and being transparent when dealing cross-functionally is critical with any type of collaboration, but even more important when it’s remote.”

You might try implementing a few cross-department virtual meetings once a month, or once a quarter. Hambor’s team, for instance, meets with a HubSpot Marketing Manager once a month for a standup meeting in which both teams are able to ask questions and ensure their priorities are well-aligned.

By ensuring your sales team is able to glean insight into marketing strategies and priorities, you’re ensuring your sales reps have a firm understanding of your prospects’ entire start-to-finish buyer’s journey, so they can better meet prospects wherever, and whenever, they’d like to be met.

Additionally, Hambor mentions he often hosts weekly happy hours, contests within the team, and other more casual events to facilitate team bonding. To align your sales and marketing teams, then, you might try creating a quarterly remote happy hour, trivia game, or cross-department bonding activity.

Ultimately, whether your teams are remote, in-person, or a mixture of both, Hambor says it’s vital as a manager that you show you care about your employees’ well-being. Hambor says, “It’s important you ask how your employees are doing … and actually care. They could be going through things you don’t have exposure to. It’s important you have a genuine interest in their well-being and success. The last thing you want is your remote teammates feeling isolated and insecure reaching out and asking for help.”

Once you’ve implemented some strategies mentioned above, consider sending a survey to your sales and marketing teams to gather insights into other potential opportunities for cross-department collaboration and partnership. Your marketing and sales teams will thank you — and so will your prospects and customers.

How AI Tools Dropped One Agency’s Reporting Time by 97%

As marketers in 2020, there’s one major thing that we have in common: We’re driven by data.

Regardless of whether we’re copywriters, social media managers, videographers, or web designers, data is key to helping us determine which projects are successful, which strategies might require more of a budget, and which tactics we need to leave behind.

But those who thrive on data also know its one major downfall: it can take hours to collect and organize.

Even if you have an analytics software that tracks a campaign’s traffic, engagements, ROI, and other KPIs, you’ll likely still need to take time to organize these numbers, analyze them, and come up with an understandable way to report on your projects to your team or clients.

In the past, marketing firms and agencies tasked full-timers with reporting-related duties. And, although much of the data collection process has been automated by various analytics software, marketing teams and firms are still losing countless hours on manual data reporting.

This is a problem that my Cleveland-based marketing firm, PR 20/20, ran into a few years ago.

As part of our process, we create monthly performance reports for each of our clients. When we create them, we pull the data from HubSpot and Google Analytics. Then, we write a report to explain the data to our colleagues, clients, and project stakeholders.

These reports allowed our clients to make better sense of the numbers they were seeing and formulate their strategies around where they performed well or needed improvement. But, although they were helping our clients, creating them was holding our team back.

While our clients found the reports valuable, the process of pulling the data, analyzing it, and drafting the reports easily took five hours per client, per month. This took our marketers away from tasks that could have been productive in the long run, such as brainstorming new ideas and strategies that could noticeably help their clients.

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through how to streamline reporting with AI, using our own experiment as an example.

How to Streamline Your Reporting Processes with AI

Step 1: Research your AI software options.

Whenever you’re attempting to experiment with or implement a new strategy, you’ll want to research the topic thoroughly.

For example, you’ll want to recognize your budget and then look into software that fits into it.

You’ll also want to determine the pros and cons of any software you consider. This will help you better familiarize yourself with the world of AI and which tools can actually help you. Because the topic of artificial intelligence comes with a lot of online hype, thorough research will also help you to distinguish which products are actually worth investing in and which are overhyped and overpriced.

Prior to deciding that we wanted to streamline our reporting strategy, we’d been researching AI through resources at our Marketing AI Institute.

The Institute is a media company that aims to make AI more approachable for marketers. Since we launched the company, we’ve published more than 400 articles on AI in marketing. We’re also tracking 1,500+ sales and marketing AI companies with combined funding north of $6.2 billion.

After learning about how AI had already streamlined dozens of marketing-related processes, we decided to explore how automation and artificial intelligence could help us with our clients at PR 20/20.

We became obsessed with how smarter technology could increase revenue and reduce costs.

In the process, we found natural language generation (NLG) technology that wrote plain English automatically.

Essentially, NLG takes structured data — such as information on spreadsheets — and turns it into written or spoken language. You’ve encountered NLG anytime you’ve used Gmail’s Smart Compose feature. Or, when you hear Amazon’s Alexa respond to your voice queries.

Once we discovered a potentially helpful NLG software, we decided to run an experiment to see if the AI technology could partially or fully automate our performance report writing process.

2. Pick software that works best for your team.

After doing your research, you might learn the basics of how AI technology such as machine learning or NLG works.

Now, the next step is to search for software that works for your business. Here are a few things you’ll need to consider:

  • The cost: You’ll want to consider the cost of any of the software’s subscriptions or fees, as well as the cost to implement it. For example, you may need to contract or hire an engineer to prepare your data and take any steps to make sure the software works smoothly.
  • Maintenance needed: While higher-priced software might be intuitive enough to require lower maintenance, others may need to be monitored and updated by someone who’s very tech-savvy. Be sure to understand what you’ll need to do if something isn’t working properly so you don’t incur any emergency costs.
  • Usability: As a marketer, you won’t want to rely on a full-time engineer to use AI software to run your reports. You’ll want to shop for software that your less tech-savvy team members can eventually get trained on and learn. For example, a software that lets you adjust your settings or make basic adjustments in an easy to understand dashboard will be effective for multiple team members and require fewer software experts to manage.

As you pick out software, you’ll also want to track down case studies, reviews, or user testimonials that describe how a company used the software to run reports or complete a similar activity. This will give you an idea of if the product you’re considering has a good track record or credibility in the AI software industry.

When it comes to finding affordable AI-powered software, there are a number of service providers that similarly use NLG to draft analytics reports or generate dashboards that you can then share with your clients or stakeholders. Here are two highly-regarded examples:

Domo

Domo is a data visualization and reporting tool that integrates with major data and analytics platforms including Google Analytics. Once you connect these platforms, you can use a dashboard to set up and generate data visualizations or reports for your clients. These visualizations include pie charts, other graphs, and word clouds.

Preparing the data that Domo will report on also requires minimal maintenance. The platform offers guides on how to create datasets or spreadsheets that its algorithms will recognize as well as a drag and drop guide which asks you to upload specific information such as “Monthly Budget.”

Here’s a quick demo that shows Domo in action:

Adaptive Insights

This reporting software allows you to generate reports or reporting dashboards that your team and clients can edit and cross-collaborate on. Like Domo, it also includes a handful of data visualization capabilities.

Adaptive insights dashboard

Aside from data visualizations, you can also add boxes to your dashboards that show you scorecards that note whether you’re hitting your goals or not, as well as filters that help you drill down on specific aspects of your project. Here’s a demo explaining how small businesses such as nonprofits can benefit from the software’s dashboard reporting features:

3. Prepare your data so your software can understand it.

Regardless of which product you choose, you’ll likely need to prepare your data in a way that your software’s robot or algorithm could easily recognize and analyze.

For example, before beginning our own experiment, we needed to prep the data by structuring it in a way that was compatible with the very basic NLG software we used.

The software required structured data in columns and rows to generate text. So, first, we had to pull HubSpot and Google Analytics data into spreadsheets.

Because doing this manually would take too much time and limit the potential time saved with automation, we used APIs and built our own algorithm using Google Apps Scripts to pull data into a Google Sheet.

Next, we standardized how each performance report would be formatted. We knew NLG software would be unlikely to handle completely custom reports well. So, we created a template for these reports that didn’t change each month.

To create a format for each report, we identified a set of 12 common questions we were trying to answer for clients each month:

  1. How much traffic came to your website, and how does that compare to the previous month? Last year?
  2. How engaged was last month’s website traffic?
  3. What were the top traffic-driving channels?
  4. Was there fluctuation in overall traffic, and if so, what caused it?
  5. How did the blog perform last month?
  6. How engaged was blog traffic?
  7. What were the top-performing blog posts?
  8. Were there any changes in blog traffic last month, and if so, what caused them?
  9. How many goals or new contacts were generated last month?
  10. What were the top converting pages?
  11. Where did goals or new contacts originate?
  12. Was there any change in total goals or lead volume, and if so, what was responsible?

4. Develop a template or set up a dashboard for your reports.

A good AI software will either allow you to create documents or even dashboards, as your reports. These assets can then be sent to your team or your clients so that they can easily look over and make sense of what all the data you’ve collected means.

Once we’d structured our data and developed a standard report format, we had to translate our standard report format into an NLG template.

The template was essentially a completed version of a performance report. When the NLG software runs, this report gets copied into the NLG software. Then rules are applied to the copy to programmatically update what’s written based on the structured data provided. Specifically, we assigned:

  • Variables: Parts of the template that are swapped out with a data point.
  • Conditional Statements: Branching if/then logic that selects the appropriate wording to
  • Synonyms: To give the content some variety, synonyms can be added to vary the words or phrases used in the report. The NLG software will randomly insert one from a list of options that humans create.

Rather than the NLG software solely writing out a report, which could result in incomprehensible sentences that poorly discussed the data, we created the template so that the software would merely fill in the blanks of each report with specific data points.

The end result was a template that, when paired with a spreadsheet, automatically produces a unique report for each client. The final output could be a CSV, Word, or Google Doc file.

5. Test the software before implementing it.

Even if you’re working with a credible AI software, you’ll still want to test it and troubleshoot any issues that come to light. This prevents any AI-related incidents from occurring when the tool is actively being used by employees or on tight deadlines.

We ran hundreds of tests to guarantee the reports came out accurate and read well. And we eventually perfected the process to consistently produce clear, accurate automated performance reports.

If a software provider that you work with offers a trial or discount for testing out their product, leverage it. This will allow you to witness first-hand if the cost of the product outweighs its benefits, or give you time to identify if there is a more suitable product that you should be using.

6. Once implemented, measure your results.

Like in the testing phase, you’ll want to monitor how well your tools are working when they are actually implemented in your office.

When you do this, here are a few things that you’ll want to evaluate:

  • The amount of time that the software is saving employees, or if there were any bugs, how much time the software cost.
  • The amount of other productive or revenue-generating tasks your team was able to get done with the extra time you had.
  • The ability of your team members to be trained and adapt to the new software and reporting processes.

As we tracked our new automated performance reports, we found that our tools took a fraction of the time to produce the same report that we took hours to create. Additionally, the level of detail in our client reports is now consistent across all accounts.

Before we implemented AI tools, the reports were only as strong as the account team’s comfort level of analyzing marketing performance reports.

Now, at midnight on the first of the month, our reporting program starts to pull in the data, communicates with the NLG system, and then automatically creates Google Docs with the fully written report.

The only manual part of the process now involves spot-checking the data for accuracy, applying some styling, and then sending.

What once took us five hours per report now takes 10 minutes. While the original process needed to be managed by multiple teammates, only one staff member is needed for spot-checking.

In this scenario, our company benefited from NLG technology because our new process allowed us to increase revenue from happy clients, improve the quality of our data reporting, and reduce costs of time and labor originally associated with reporting.

Resources for Automated Reporting

Although our team is able to access AI providers and experts for our in-office experiments, other small business marketers can also take advantage of this strategy somewhat affordably.

However, keep in mind that AI implementation can take time. For us, we needed to put time into building structured datasets, as well as our Report template so that our AI software could read our analytics and draft reports properly.

If you’re interested in testing out your own AI experiments, but don’t know where to start, check out the HubSpot Academy course, “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Marketing: Live from MAICON.” It will teach you how to apply AI in marketing using a holistic framework and begin conversations around piloting AI in your business.

Why HubSpot’s Director of Web Strategy Says Your Website Isn’t About You

Welcome to 2020. In a recent survey conducted by HubSpot Research, 63% of marketers responded that they are looking to make a website upgrade this year. Are you?

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 9.52.40 AMThe discussion of web strategy can take many directions, from copywriting to conversion paths. When we consider website optimization and overall web strategy, accessibility should be one of your main objectives in 2020 and onward.

Accessibility is a broad term, but there are a few main things I will focus on in this article: a continuous monumental shift to mobile devices, transparency and disclosure of information, and properly interpreting user intent. In 2020, build your web strategy around your audience’s needs first. Providing a great user experience will allow you to more easily deliver your message and meet your business goals.

Keep Being Transparent: If People Can’t Find It on Your Site, They’ll Find It Elsewhere

Continue to lead with transparency. Websites have come a long way from just pretty online brochures — done right, they’re now your best tool to build trust and credibility with prospects and customers. Users want to feel that they are in control of their site experience, so help them get there by sharing more, not less. Public-facing pricing pages are a great example; making your pricing readily available to your customers lends credibility to your brand, and qualifies/disqualifies prospects for you. Additionally, help them find your pricing quickly by including it in your primary navigation and on your home page. Make your pricing easy to understand and have clear call to action to complete the sale.

One B2C company that sets the standard for this is the clothing company Everlane. On all of their product pages, they have a section that looks like this:

Everlane Transparent Pricing Screenshot

This honest and revealing approach to their pricing builds trust in their brand and makes the customer feel more in charge of their purchasing decisions.

Product reviews are also a valuable tool; your prospects generally trust other customers’ opinions, so use that to your advantage. By proactively disclosing this and other information, you get to lead the narrative and tell your story your way.

Prospects will find honest reviews about your product whether or not you choose to feature them on your site, so taking the lead and featuring them on your product pages helps keep them on your site and builds credibility in your brand.

Pricing pages and product reviews are just two ways that you can use your website to persuade buyers, encourage advocacy, and decrease the friction in your sales process. If you can keep a potential buyer on your site, rather than looking for this information elsewhere, it’s a better experience for them and you.

Start Solving for Mobile and Accessibility First, and the Rest Will Fall Into Place

Mobile usage rates continue to rise, including a huge shift in business-to-business in just the past year or two. Overall web traffic from mobile devices now represents 52% of web traffic worldwide. At HubSpot, 46% of our blog traffic comes from mobile.

If you have not yet embraced a mobile-first approach, now is the time. By approaching copy, design, and conversions with a mobile mentality, you will improve your desktop experience as well. This approach will force you to be more thoughtful and concise with content creation.

I’m not suggesting you create less content; instead, focus on clarity and conciseness. Bite-size information is always best for grabbing attention and enticing your audience to read more.

Slack has done a great job with this. Their mobile site is fast, beautiful, has concise messaging, and features custom smart CTAs for whichever type of phone operating system you are visiting the site from.

Slack mobile website

As you start to think more about mobile, you also have to focus on accessibility.

At HubSpot, accessibility is a focus in 2020. We run our site on HubSpot CMS, which has made it easy for every marketer to create and edit content, and we’re working diligently to improve our website accessibility for all.

To help us, we spoke to Christina Mallon, the Accessibility Design Lead at Wunderman Thompson. Christina started her presentation with “What if I told you that your marketing content was excluding an audience of roughly 61 million people in the United States? 1 in 4 people live with a disability in the United States.”

This further enforced our belief that accessibility should be a requirement for every marketer going forward. We aren’t perfect, but we have put together a task force to improve our process.

If you’re looking for a starting point, try studying the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to ensure your process for web design and content production is inclusive.

Be mindful of font and type size to help drive better user experience. Ensure hyperlinks are easily identifiable. What types of content could you add to consider more users? Maybe you could add subtitles to your videos for the hard of hearing. Or, perhaps you could add a page reading feature to your blog. Making experiences accessible for those who need it makes them better for everybody — design for the edges and the rest falls in.

Stop Giving Users Limited or Outdated Choices

As the saying goes, it’s not about you. Stop forcing your site visitors down the conversion path you want them to take. A classic example: You visit a site, and the only call to action is a “Contact Us” link that sends you to a form and (potentially) into the void. Instead, ask yourself — what is best for your audience? How and when do they want to interact with you?

Start by making the effort to understand users’ intent. Different visitors are looking for different types of information based on their familiarity with your business and position in the buyer’s journey. Perhaps it’s educational resources or a support center for customers, or maybe it’s someone who was referred to you by a friend and is ready to talk to your sales team.

You should be able to create a general website map that connects the most appropriate calls-to-action for different sections of your site, and you can run experiments over time to optimize the best user experience and conversion rates for your business on specific pages.

Oftentimes, different visitors on the same pages have different preferences or needs, so don’t limit them to just one choice. You don’t need to throw away that “Contact Us” page with a form — try adding the phone number for your sales line or online chat — you can use a chatbot if you don’t have live chat agents available. At HubSpot, we’ve seen great success with our calendar tool that lets users schedule a meeting to talk to sales at a time that’s convenient for them. Another great example of this is Salted Stone’s contact us page.

Salted Stone Contact Us Page

Give your audience an opportunity to get in touch however and whenever they choose.

My Recommended Web Strategy Resources

Here are a few of my favorite tools for improving our web experience:

  • Stark: Contrast checker and colorblind simulator

  • WAVE: Web accessibility evaluation tool

  • Lighthouse: Good for testing page load time

  • BrowserStack: App and browser testing

Take a Deep-Dive Into the State of Web Strategy

I’m excited to see where you take your web strategy in 2020. Remember, lead with the user, and if you need some data to help guide these decisions, get access to over 70 data points and trends from over 3,400 marketers around the world. Dive deeper into HubSpot’s survey data by downloading the full “Not Another State of Marketing” Report.