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Archive for the ‘Marketing strategy’ Category

Jun

Entrepreneur Pekka Koskinen Shares Effective SaaS Marketing Tactics

Effective SaaS Marketing Tactics

Want to pick-up some marketing tactics and tips from a battle-tested pro?

Pekka Koskinen is a serial software entrepreneur in B2B SaaS space who calls Helsinki, Finland home. His latest venture, Leadfeeder, is Pekka’s fourth.

Since so many of my clients are forever in search of the most effective tactics for marketing and selling SaaS platforms, I asked Pekka to do an interview for this blog. I wanted I’d ask Pekka about the various strategies he believes can accelerate the success of startup SaaS companies and share them with you.

Meet Pekka

Barry: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Leadfeeder to get started?

Pekka: Leadfeeder is an online tool, which helps generate leads for your sales team. We offer B2B companies knowledge about which companies have visited their website and what they’ve done there.

The problem we’re solving: only 2% of the website visitors leave their contact details. But based on their IP address we can tell which companies the rest of the visitors are from.

By connecting that information with your CRM information you’re able to see how your existing customers, your ongoing deals, and new prospects visit your website and what they do there. You generate more intelligence and effectiveness to the sales team.

Barry: You still are invested in and advise other software companies, so tell our viewers a little bit about some of these other initiatives.

Pekka: This is in fact my second startup in the web analytics space. I founded my first startup in 2004. It was a web analytics company called Snoobi. At the time, there wasn’t yet Google Analytics. That tool just told you how many people you have on your website, what do they do there, where do they come from, and typical web analytics stuff.

I ran that company for eight years. We became one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe. In 2012, I ended up selling that company and by then it was around 60 people working there. Since I knew the web analytics space and I knew what was missing, I found this opportunity with Leadfeeder to build a sales tool on top of Google Analytics.

Barry: In your bio it says you are a Startup Sauna coach. That’s an interesting description of whatever it actually is. What is it?

Pekka: In Finland, all of the big business deals are made inside saunas.

Barry: Saunas?

Pekka: Yeah, I was just kidding… Startup Sauna is a startup acceleration program in Helsinki. It’s a six-week program for 15 teams selected from 1,000 applicants all around Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. They come to Finland and we coach them for six weeks. So I’m very involved with helping them with everything related to building a business from scratch: marketing, sales, business model, pricing, and product.

Analytics are all-important 

Barry: You’re a mentor and you’ve got yourself quite a bit of momentum with Leadfeeder, so you must be doing something right. If you look back or even if you look at other companies, are they doing something wrong? Do B2B SaaS companies often make the same mistakes?

Pekka: I try to do things in a really pragmatic order. So in the beginning, when you don’t have anything, the only way you can drive traffic to your website is basically to buy AdWords or Facebook marketing.

What I see many times is that people are not putting enough effort in analytics. So how we did it is that we started from the beginning to really track what is the cost for conversion that we are getting and then when we were adding other traffic sources we already had the tracking in place.

I would say that putting the tracking in place in the early phase and then making sure that all the traffic sources are tagged (with UTM tags, for example) so you can identify the sources, it’s really important.

For me, this is the only way to do this, but I still see many B2B companies not using analytics when they are doing marketing and I cannot understand how you can manage your Internet marketing without knowing what’s happening.

Barry: Right. And Leadfeeder itself is a tool for that, helping you understand who came to your website.

Pekka: Kind of, yeah, but Leadfeeder is for sales guys. It’s for identifying who was there. But then if we talk about how to drive greater traffic to the website, then Google Analytics probably is the most important tool there.

But what I see many times is that companies have installed Google Analytics on their website, but it’s not configured well. You need to have goals and funnels in place. We’re using a lot of custom segments in Google Analytics to analyze how our existing customers are using our website compared to the new people that we are getting to the website.

Generating traffic with partner programs 

Barry: So it all starts with traffic and you talked about paying for it with AdWords and Facebook—obviously two places with massive audiences and well-known advertising programs. But those cost money, and so you want to do something organically to keep the budget in check. So what could you do to create organic traffic as a B2B SaaS startup?

Pekka: That’s true, when you go forward with the paid advertising it’s going to be really costly. What we wanted to do is to have others market us.

So we generated this partner program, for example, that enables digital marketing agencies to recommend us to their clients. If we can get traffic and trials through those channels then we give kickback commissions to the agency. And what that has done is that the agencies are speaking about us quite a lot to their customers. Some of creates direct traffic from their website.

But most people just Google “Leadfeeder” and come to our website, so we’ve been seeing quite a big increase in organic traffic in those areas where we have most active partners.

Then there’s search engine optimization—definitely a really important thing for how we can get traffic affordably from Google. What that in in practice means is generating good quality content on our blog and getting links from other websites to our website, and that way increase the domain authority.

Generating traffic with quality blog content

Barry: Now you’re talking my business here, content marketing. We’re talking about blogging. Have you been a proponent for using a blog to generate search-based traffic for a while now and for your various companies?

Pekka: In Leadfeeder we’ve been doing this now for a year more actively. In my other companies we haven’t been doing that so much. I think the whole content marketing tactics became important in the last maybe three years. Definitely, at Leadfeeder, that’s our most important way to do marketing.

Generating traffic with digital PR 

Barry: I see on your homepage, and I’ve scrolled partially down, social proof, which is testimonials and client logos. So let’s assume that’s a tactic everybody wants and should have.

But then I see the probably not-so-easy-to-achieve “As seen in.” These are big media brands. Here it says Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fox, Mashable, and Social Media Examiner, and I’m sure there’s more. Those are definitely highly coveted websites. How did that happen? That sounds like an unpaid promotional plan.

Pekka: Yeah. It’s kind of like a combination of unpaid and paid. We are a using a PR agency to hook us up with journalists from these media and that’s how these have happened. We haven’t had the connections, so that’s where the PR agency helped us the most. But then the content is partly done by us and then partly done with the assistance of the PR agency.

Barry: Obviously you’re a proponent of knowing where your traffic comes from. Is appearing on websites like Mashable one of the better traffic generators?

Pekka: It really depends on the article. For example, in Social Media Examiner, there was a really great article about us that got shared 2,000 times, or something like that. That really generated a lot of quality traffic for us and lots of people signed up for Leadfeeder from that traffic.

But it really depends. Now we’ve been getting really good traffic from Entrepreneur.com. But from analytics we can only the fraction of the benefits. So we can see the direct traffic, but then we’re also seeing that once there is a big PR piece, there is also an increase in organic traffic from Google.

Barry: That’s the idea. I certainly advise my clients to play the guest blogging game, because when you put a website together very few people are on it, whether you have a blog or not.

Leadfeeder partners with Google

I was reading just this morning, and I guess this is relatively new news, your product works with Google Analytics. Sounds like you have some pretty exciting announcement about a partnership with Google.

Pekka: Our product is built on top of Google Analytics API, so we are a pretty heavy user of their API. We have a really good relationship with their marketing team and their product team and last month we were in their headquarters recording a video about how to generate leads using Google Analytics and Leadfeeder. You can see that on Google Analytics YouTube channel. It was a pretty good place to be, to be promoted by Google.

Barry: I would think so. Is there more to come or is that a one-off?

Pekka: There is more to come. We are also doing a cooperation with MailChimp and Pipedrive and these other players, but of course Google is the biggest of our partners.

Google Analytics is a great tool for marketing people, but then if sales people want to know what’s happening on the website, then Leadfeeder makes the Google Analytics information valuable for the sales guys. So that’s how we are complementing each other.

Leadfeeder’s conversion strategies  

Barry: We’ve talked quite a bit about partnerships, public relations, paid advertising, things that bring people to your website.

This little formula is almost “no duh” it’s so obvious, but I’ve heard it from my friend Andy Crestodina who says…

Traffic x Conversion = Results (or outcomes)

So let’s talk about conversion. How do you get people to do what you want them to do, and what is that thing that you want them to do when they’re on the Leadfeeder website?

Pekka: The first thing is the landing page. Most of the people come to our front page, so we want to make sure that the message comes fast. There is also a video to explain what Leadfeeder is about. So that’s the most typical way people come to our website.

But then if there are some special channels—for example, Pipedrive’s blo—they’re linking to our blog post about how we integrate with them. So we have created source-specific landing pages that kind of tie together our message and the message of the site where the traffic comes from.

So if you come from Salesforce’s website, you land to our Salesforce page, which explains what this is. That has been really important in order to engage people further, because if you just push everybody to the front page they are not going to convert.

Barry: I’ve read a lot about that, the source-specific landing page. Great idea… great tactic… What’s next? What’s offered to them when they land on a source-specific landing page?

Pekka: The first thing is to try to give them value. So we understand that they are the users of some other tool or they just read some other article. So first we need to connect with that. So we create some value and explain how we could help them.

We’ve seen that if we try too much to push people from the blog post to our signup, that doesn’t really work. For example, if we write about “best tools for social media marketing,” people come to our website, but they are not necessarily yet ready to sign up for our tool.

So what we try to have them do is to go to our product page. We’ll offer some video and we are tracking that as a conversion for that traffic. I was telling you about the importance of tracking, but you need to track the right things. So if you always track everything based on how many signup conversions you are having, you might go wrong. So you need to have the micro-conversations also set up in the analytics.

Leadfeeder’s conversion strategies

Barry: Are you also trying to capture their email address?

Pekka: We decided not to do that actively. On the blog we have a place where you can subscribe to our blog posts, but we‘ve tried to encourage people to sign up for the tool, because it’s so easy to try. You just need to connect your Google Analytics and that’s it.

Barry: I suppose in the B2B SaaS business it’s more important to get them to touch and feel the product and you said there is no steep slope to get there with Leadfeeder, so they can do it quickly.

So even though you’re talking about soft selling, or not coming on too strong, when they get to a landing page that’s specific to something they just read, you are indeed giving them a button to push if they want to try the product or see a demo, right?

Pekka: Yeah, exactly. We have this product videos for demos on the website, that’s one thing. We also have a chat on the website so people can engage through that, but really we’ve tried to make signing up for the actual product as easy as possible. No credit card is needed. You have a 30 day free trial. It’s a one-minute signup process. So that’s what we want them to do.

Barry: That’s good stuff. Marketers call that reducing friction. Well, that’s Pekka Koskinen coming to us from Helsinki where he helps people in the sauna.

Pekka: Yeah, it’s so cold here, so you need to be in the sauna all the time.

 

 

Feb

How to Go Big with a Small Digital Marketing Budget [Repurposing FAQ Too]

SMALL DIGITAL MARKETING BUDGET (2)

Your digital marketing budget isn’t big, but your aspirations are.

I hear you. As a content marketing strategist, writer and creative director, I get this question all the time…

“How can we create great content on a small digital marketing budget?”

Along a similar line, I know every time industry research is published I’ll see “lack of budget” ranking among the top challenges.

Top content challenges

Okay, so your budget’s an issue. I’m obliged to address it. I do so in conversation nearly every time I discuss content planning with a new client. I’m about to share with you a version of my answer. It could surprise you.

Care to guess what I say? Might it be…

Go to a writer brokerage or freelance finder website and find a low-cost writer? Task internal employees (non-writers) with the writing? Forgo strategy. Forgo design. Forgo promotion?

No. No. No. No. And no. (more…)

Dec

32 Ways a Digital Marketing Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business

A lot of clients—marketing professionals and business owners—get in touch and ask me to help plan, write, and create websites, eBooks, and blog posts. That’s far from a complete list, but three common requests.

On the other hand, a lot of clients reach out to me without a specific task list in mind. They know they want to grow their business. They know they want to produce traffic, leads and sales. And they think they need the help of digital marketing consultant.

They’re right, but their question is often oh-so-broad: “How can you help me?”

Shwew. My answer could be any number of things and at that point, not having the benefit of knowing where their digital marketing currently stands, I’m seldom able to quickly deliver a perfect answer.

I certainly don’t want to blurt out a specific digital marketing tactic… “YouTube is the answer” or “An email campaign will make rain for you.” That’d be reckless.

A digital marketing consultant should recommend tactics based on needs identified from a carefully considered audit. I’m a strategist. I’m a copywriter. But I’ve been doing digital marketing since it existed, so there are a substantial number of ways I can help you grow your business through digital marketing.

Here they are.

The list won’t magically nail an effective strategy, but my hope is it’ll provide some answers to the “How can you help me?” question and give us lots to talk about.

 

(more…)

Oct

Digital Marketing Failure: Why the Glass is Half Empty

digital marketing failure

Creating content is a huge part of your digital marketing, yet most of it’s a waste of time.

Ouch. Why?

Did you catch the “Content, Shares and Links” study from Buzzsumo and Moz? It examined 1-million blog posts. Two alarming findings include:

  • Over 50% of posts earned 2 or less Facebook interactions
  • Over 75% achieved zero external links

The report’s author, Steve Rayson, writes, “The majority of content published on the Internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links. The data suggests most content is simply not worthy of sharing or linking, and also that people are very poor at amplifying content. It may sound harsh but it seems most people are wasting their time either producing poor content or failing to amplify it.”

Once more for emphasis: most people are wasting their time.

That is harsh—and definitely worth trouble-shooting. It seems safe to say the factors behind unsuccessful digital marketing campaigns can be vast. In this post, I’m going to explore the reasons that stand out to me, especially on the content marketing frontier where so much time is invested. (more…)

May

What is a Lead Magnet? (And 10 Ways to Quickly Magnify the Size of Your Email List)

 

What is a lead magnet

 

A lead magnet is a free offer you make in exchange for an email address (and possibly additional information).

Lead magnets are also called:

  • Signup incentives
  • Signup offers
  • Freemiums
  • Content upgrades
  • And many other terms

One well-respected digital marketer calls them “an irresistible bribe.” Sounds seedy to me. Lead magnets are above-board and have always been a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal. They’re especially golden in digital age because we can satisfy the reader’s request in an instant.

What’s the purpose of a lead magnet?

The purpose of a lead magnet is to inspire the people who are consuming your content to get on your email list. You’ll aim to convert them to customers in the future with lead nurturing tactics, most notably, email.

Offering lead magnets is a vital part of the content marketing formula that builds a more loyal audience, and in turn, effectively builds your business.

Why ask for an email instead of credit card?

“Hello. Can I have some money? God bless you.”

Sounds more like panhandling than an effective approach to digital marketing, doesn’t it?

See, only 2% of first-time website visitors make purchases—and that applies to carefully crafted websites optimized for conversion.

What do the rest do? They leave. They were just browsing. Maybe, just maybe, they’re researching and considering your solution, or something similar.

So if the overwhelming majority of visitors to your website aren’t yet in buy mode, you’re likely to chase them away by pushing your product or service on them.

What do you do instead? You ask for an email address.

In doing so, you’re asking for permission to stay in touch. Your challenge, of course, is to build a relationship, to earn their trust. This takes time. And usually, repeated touches.

 

But you still have some selling to do

Though the people joining your list aren’t necessarily parting with their money, by merely handing over their email address they’re investing some level of trust in you. They expect you to reciprocate by delivering value.

First, you need to sell them an idea. (more…)

Jan

How to Make Your Analytics Matter [Content Matters Podcast 05]

Content Matters 5 - analytics

Reports don’t affect don’t affect your marketing. Actions do.

You can search far and wide, but you’re unlikely to find a marketer who’s more plugged into the power of web analytics than my podcasting partner, Andy Crestodina.

At marketing conferences across the country, Andy’s sessions on understanding and applying your web analytics to optimize the performance of your website and content are always packed. Everyone in the audience gains amazing clarity on this critical topic. They leave ready to turn the numbers into meaningful actions to increase conversion.

In the next 22 minutes you’ll gather many of Andy’s best tips and get schooled in web analytics. (more…)

Nov

The 4 Indispensable Pillars of Effective Digital Marketing [Free eBook Too]

Pillars of effective digital marketing

We’re going to talk about post website depression (PWD).

If you’re a sufferer, I urge you not to be embarrassed. You’re hardly alone.

Generally, PWD is preceded with wild mood swings. For months you’re knee-deep in the grind. Meetings and conference calls. Site maps and wireframes. Copy and code. Layouts and links. Flurries of emails. Portals. Staging sites. Browser testing. Blood, sweat and title tags.

Then finally…

After an exhausting Friday of tedious troubleshooting you’ve blasted past every last imperfection (you think). The flip gets switched over the weekend and you’re live. The new site looks tight. It loads in a flash. Isn’t the web wonderful?

High fives are flying all around the office Monday morning. The boss even sprung for donuts. But in the coming days, the buzz wanes. A week or two later, the source of your depression becomes clear: a million perfectly composed pixels can amount to zero effect on the business.

4 Pillars - eBook

 

HEADS UP…

This is a 4,000-word post. If you’d rather “Pocket” it or download it to read at another time, click here or the image on the left to get a free eBook version.

 

It’s time to call a content marketer

That’s me. And this is a call I’m a part of a lot.

I’m happy to have this call because I can answer most of the questions and steer the ship forward from here. But I must admit, this call tends to include two waffles I could live without.

Waffle 1: Uncertainty

I told you the impetus behind this consultation: PWD. The company’s learned a new website in and of itself is no rainmaker. Now, at least to some extent, the marketer/owner/person I’m talking to realizes her or his company needs more than a shinier home on the web; they need a more significant digital footprint.

They need to publish content—onsite and off (but first, on) so they get discovered more. Known more. Liked more. Trusted more. This is how digital marketing works.

But then, ugh, the question, the inevitable question, dare I say, the “you’ve got to be kidding me” question…

“Barry, in our business we’re not so sure potential new clients go online to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (read, research, make decisions, buy, etc.).

Here’s what I think at that moment: Are you serious? Where do you think they go? Where do they get their books? Where do they do research for their personal needs? Where did you find me? And WHY are we talking?

Here’s what I say at that moment: Yes, they do. (And the client knows it.)

And one more thing: In digital marketing it’s dangerous to forge a strategy based on what you think or your opinion. You need to know how your prospects and customers behave.

Waffle 2: Commitment

Somehow we get past the ridiculousness. It’s understood: content must be produced. We proceed to the double-headed time and money monster. This part of the conversation could go a number of ways and at this point it’s a bit premature to do a content marketing plan, but to do my part I say what needs to be said:

Yes, it’s going to take time and money. And if you’re not committed to it long term, you’ll be wasting both.

So what’s it to take to make digital marketing work?

The most successful businesses are becoming customer-centric marketing machines. They’re able to:

Research indicates buyers are commonly two-thirds (or more) of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. Marketing’s role has become enormously different.

  • Marketing is sales. Marketing—not sales—guides buyers through the early stages of the buying process.
  • Touch points multiply. Marketers need to engage customers across an expanding array of channels.
  • Timeliness is crucial. Relevant marketing messages and content must be delivered fast and at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Good news: your company can shift into digital gear to become more in touch with your customers’ needs, more responsive in delivering the content they seek when it matters most, and more effective and efficient.

Though there are countless strategies that may come into play there are four pillars of effective digital marketing your company needs to master:

1. Content marketing
2. Search engine optimization
3. Social media marketing
4. Marketing analytics

None of the above is optional. Think of them as four legs of a stool or table that forms the foundation of your digital marketing. Try to get by without one and your foundation falls down.

Digital marketing CTA banner

I’m now going to dive into each of the four to help you begin to get a basic understanding of the pillars of effective digital marketing. (more…)

Oct

How to Write Autoresponder Emails to Convert Leads

Autoresponder emails to convert leads

You work your tuchus off to get the email addresses of your website visitors. What do you do with them?

You should send them email. Thank you email? Maybe. Email newsletters? Probably. Special offers? Good idea. An autoresponder email series designed to convert?

You bet your ass (“tuchus” translated from Yiddish to modern English).

No one will disagree with this definition of conversion

You can define conversion how you like. A popular approach is the “winning” of a new email subscriber. Such a sequence often works like so:

> Get screen space
> Get attention
> Get a click
> Get time-on-site
> Get email opt-in

It looks like a whole lotta’ getting, but is the getting any good?

It might be good, but it’s not like you’re going to want to book a meeting with the CEO, unroll your holy scroll o’ addresses before her eager eyes, and demand a salary hike, stock options and early retirement.

But what if you could demonstrate your email marketing tactics converted WAY more prospects to paying customers? You’d probably feel quite alright presenting yourself as a customer acquisition rock star due for a healthy bump.

Define conversion as turning a prospect into a paying customer and no one’s going to disagree.

This post explores a vastly underused, but highly effective, tactic for winning sales: the email autoresponder series. (more…)

Sep

Digital Marketing Basics: Simplified and Comprehensive

Digital marketing basics

Marketing works differently now.

Push is out. Pull is in.

You have to think inbound.

Traditional “outbound” marketing tactics that dominated the pre-Google world are now alarmingly ineffective. We all have the power to filter out advertising and we’re not afraid to use it.

The customer is in control. The communications process begins if and when the customer wants. Without advertising. Without phone calls. Without you.

Instead of pushing out messages via paid media, to reach this customer, you must put the power of content marketing, search, and social media to work. The relationship with your brand begins there.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads
(such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
~ Search Engine Journal

To be an effective marketer, you have to do a complete 180. The strategy is to pull people to your website with magnetic content.

Additional resource: introduction to inbound marketing.

Define objectives by beginning with the end in mind

“Our digital marketing isn’t working.” 

The great thing about digital marketing is how easy it is to measure results. So if you say the program isn’t working, it’s only a valid assessment if you’ve defined what “working” actually means.

Your sales and marketing team must agree on the program’s objective. Objectives differ from company to company, site to site, and program to program. Generally speaking, the mission is to generate traffic, leads and sales.

Are you aiming to expand an email database? Sell off the page? Foster word of mouth?

You’re going to experience failure and success. Digital marketing is forever experimental. You know what you need to conduct a meaningful experiment, right?

You need an outcome.

Additional resource: fast-track approach to setting objectives and planning.

Digital marketing CTA banner

(more…)

May

Content Marketing Roles: A Guide to Building Your Team

Content Marketing rolesHelp wanted? Let me help you with that.

Sooooo… You know you need to keep nailing your content marketing to increase traffic, leads and sales. And (I hope) you also know success in content marketing is enjoyed only by companies committed to hiring the best talent.

Content development director Michele Linn of Content Marketing Institute recently wrote:

Each year we track the challenges marketers are having with content marketing in our research. This year, one challenge was far more pronounced than it has been: finding trained content marketing professionals. 

Unsurprisingly, I’ve found in addition to a huge demand for hiring talented content marketers, companies are craving advice for how to go about it. As a content marketer and writer (who’s often hired to help market various types of marketing solutions), I’ve also found myself tackling these “help wanted” challenges a lot lately.

I encourage you to gather and read these resources, however, I’m going to roll much of the material up and into this post to help accomplish this mission. (more…)