Tuesday 2/10 Inbound Sales & Smarketing

In the past, salesmen and marketers have been separate entities. With each one standing on their own island, looking out across the water at the other one and wondering just exactly what their purpose is, what are they scheming? Sales people and marketers often use mostly negative words when describing the job of one another. Where a marketer would describe a sales person as lazy or incompetent, the salesman would describe the marketer as overly academic and even irrelevant. This type of mindset can be toxic to business in today’s highly cooperative workplace.

While marketing and sales are completely different continents in the world of business, it is important that both realize they are equally responsible for the performance of their company. This could be achieved by aligning sales and marketing so that they become the highly cooperative Pangea of “Smarketing.”

Sales and marketing should realize that ultimately they are on the same team, and in the end they are working towards the same goal of generating business for their company. Both departments should be aligned around the same or related goals, and should have transparency into each other’s goals and progress towards them. They should also allow each other access to the various buyer personas that each has developed, while at the same time providing each other with insight on them. Alignment around specific personas helps the company to solve the specific problem of that persona.

Hubspot has identified five steps for integrating Smarketing:

  1.  Speak the Same Language: In order for sales and marketing to align around the same goal, they must use a similar metric. Sales is a good metric for both departments because it can be boiled down to leads needed for marketing and sales needed for the sales department. Equally important is the alignment of the definition of a sales-ready lead; a potential customer that shows a high level of fit and interest.
  2. Set Up Closed-Loop Reporting: Proper reporting between departments can help marketers determine if the leads they gather are any good, and can also provide insight into the effect of your marketing efforts. Sales can see which leads are worth pursuing, which aren’t worth pursuing, and helps to eliminate duplicate leads.
  3. Implement a Service Level Agreement: An SLA defines what sales and marketing commits to accomplishing a common goal, in order to support each other. Agreements such as marketing delivering a minimum number of leads to sales per month, or Sales making a certain number of attempts to engage a potential customer in a set period of time.
  4. Maintain Open Communication: Holding a smarketing meeting in which both sales and marketing attend to discuss team successes, educate each other about personas and to address potential issues regarding service level agreements. Management meetings should also be held so that key managers can discuss these topics in depth and to resolve any potential issues.
  5. Rely on Data: You can create a common dashboard for both sales and marketing to use, through which they can share reports aligned with their common goal, and measure progress towards service level agreements. A common dashboard can also help to measure the volume of quality leads against the monthly goal, and to adjust accordingly. This dashboard would also help to track your various efforts and determine which are the most successful.

Tuesday 2/3 — Landing Pages

OK, so we’ve covered some pretty good ways to attract customers to your website through various means of inbound marketing, search engine optimization and building a strong presence on social media. Let’s say all of your time and hard work has paid off and you are now getting a considerable amount of traffic to your website, but how do you turn that traffic into revenue?

The first step in converting your website patrons from viewers to purchasers is to have an attractive landing page, one that will grab their attention and garner more interest in your business, product or cause. Your landing page is the first thing that customers will see, so you want it to make a good impression.

Here are some tips and practices that any good business should incorporate into their landing page:

  • Keep it Simple: Your landing page should be very straight forward, and reflect the overall theme or image that your brand is trying to accomplish. Too much clutter can distract customers and drive away potential sales.
  • Catch their eye: The design of your landing page should be attractive and garner interest from the customer wherever they look. Using animations to demonstrate your product or open up to more information can help the customer learn more about you or your product without leaving the page.
  • Call to Action: Have an obvious next step on your landing page, whether it be purchasing or learning more about your brand. There should be a clearly defined option, begging for that next click.
  • Product Demo: Having a video on your landing page to demonstrate your product or inform about your company is a surefire way to increase conversions. It offers the page viewer a chance to learn more about your product without any additional clicks.
  • Targeted Ads: In order to get past the usual “banner blindness” of the everyday online consumer, use targeted advertisements that will make the customer feel like they were designed specifically for them. Using geo-specific ads to present promotions to the customer can help drive sales.

These are just a few of the various tactics to employ on your landing page to help drive sales. A properly optimized landing page will do most of the sales work for you, allowing customers to develop interest in the product at their own pace

Thursday 1/15

Today I learned where the slang term “limey” (used to describe someone originating from the United Kingdom) came from and it was surprisingly not from my England-born grandmother. This bit of insight actually came from the Microsoft study about not listening to the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion), in which they described a 17th century ship captain looking to help his nation’s navy overcome the scourge of scurvy. To find out why his nation’s seamen were so prone to getting this debilitating disease when compared to the navy of Mediterranean countries, he risked half of his crew in a controlled experiment. One half was given limes in addition to their daily rations, and the other half of his crew was left unchanged. The half given limes had shown a considerable decrease in the disease. The fact that he was willing to risk half of his crew shows just how important controlled experiments can be, especially when that experiment is looking at challenging the status quo. If he did not conduct this experiment, he could have very well lost his entire crew to scurvy.

The same mindset can be applied to digital marketing in today’s world. Say, for example a company is doing just well, but they are wondering if changing the look or layout of their website would result in more sales. The HiPPO in most cases might not want to conduct any type of experiment, because they are worried that anything other than the way they have been conducting business would drive away customers. The beauty of today’s modern world is that the company would not have to sacrifice those potential customers because they would be able to retain their current website as a control variable, and then introduce the new and improved website, perhaps to a new market. This type of testing would give the HiPPO definitive evidence on whether the new look helps or hurts business.

This type of hypothesis testing, often referred to as A/B testing, is a small but very important slice of the website optimization pie. With the countless sources of input on the Internet, battling for our attention, clicks and money, an aesthetically pleasing website can make all the difference in the world. The right layout, font choice and even color palette can be the deciding factor in grasping a customer’s attention, as internet users tend to make snap judgments of websites they visit in a fraction of a second. Even the color of the checkout button on a shopping website can make a difference in sales as certain colors will trigger responses in the mind of the consumer. For example, a red button might drive away sales due to the color’s association with stopping and danger. A green button could provide the exact opposite response. The only way to know which website design works the best, is through A/B testing, which would give empirical evidence to the HiPPO that says “hey, maybe change isn’t so bad after all.” The key to a successful website is through evolution of it’s design, as trends change, so should your website.