Agency Growth Isn’t Just About Your Agency Anymore

There’s a common misbelief that business growth is only about increasing numbers. It’s a lie that businesses should only focus on increasing the number of email subscribers, qualified leads and revenue. It’s a lie that businesses have to be obsessed with metrics to solve for their bottom line.

For agencies, this ruthless mentality comes at the expense of your clients. Your clients are humans, after all, and no one wants to be treated like a number in a spreadsheet. Focusing only on increasing numbers lends itself to agencies who make short-term decisions that sacrifice long-term client relationships, trust, and success.

We believe there’s a better way to grow your agency.

The best agencies grow because of the success of their clients. They realize that their client’s success is inextricably linked with their own. Metrics-driven growth cannot be the only, ultimate goal. Chasing growth should not come at the cost of compromising your (or your client’s) values.

Fortunately, there’s a way for your agency to grow betterHere, we’ll cover a few of our biggest tips to ensure your agency is able to grow with your clients.

1. Focus on the big picture.

To ensure your agency is growing as your clients grow, it’s critical you focus on the big picture. For instance, how can you help train your client’s employees so they can become self-sufficient and independent in their own growth?

Additionally, perhaps your client needs guidance when it comes to re-imagining future goals. Rather than looking at goals as numbers on a graph, consider how you can help your client dream bigger — which will undoubtedly payoff for your own agency in the long run, as well. Agencies should become “growth partners” for their clients and build long-term marketing, sales, and customer service strategies to help their client’s business grow over time. 

2. Create a client-centric culture.

It’s time that agencies change the conversation with clients from simply delivering marketing projects, to being viewed as a long-term growth partner who solves for their client’s success. It’s time for agencies to center their businesses on the Customer Code.

The Customer Code is a shared set of principles about how to build an agency that clients love. It’s not about what marketing projects you deliver for clients, but how you get the job done. Growing better means removing any friction in your client’s business model to make client relationships as delightful as possible.

Additionally, a client-centric culture can help your employees’ workplace satisfaction. Agency life is hard. Scope creep is real, and employees get overworked, which can lead to low retention rates. High employee turnover makes delivering high quality services that much more challenging.

Hiring at agencies is a universal problem. According to the 2018 Agency Growth Report, almost 70% of agencies report having trouble finding the right talent.

If agencies are centered on their clients’ success, then clients are happier. And if clients are happier, your employees feel like their making an impact and are happier, too. 

Many agencies struggle with finding new clients. According to WordStream’s State of Internet Marketing Agency 2017 Report, 39% of agencies said their biggest challenge is obtaining new clients.

If marketing agencies reposition themselves as a long-term growth partner with their clients, those relationships (and deal size) will naturally increase. And, if existing client engagements are able to grow in size, your agency doesn’t have to consistently find new clients to maintain or grow revenue. A win, win. 

Growing better is about making your clients and employees more successful, building relationships by doing the right thing, and focusing on the long-term, even when it’s not the easiest path.

3. Ask for client feedback and act on it.

Agencies with a growth mindset are eager to ask for feedback from clients to make their clients even more successful. This can take many forms — client satisfaction surveys, one-on-one calls with the decision maker at your client’s company, or even team-wide feedback sessions after a big campaign launch.

To illustrate the importance of “Ask for feedback and act on it”, let’s take a look at an example. One Fire is a HubSpot Agency Partner based in Illinois, and has a client that sells compost turners.

One Fire won this client and went to work building out an inbound marketing strategy. When auditing the client’s current strategy, One Fire determined that their website didn’t have consistent branding or optimal conversion paths.

However, the client had recently worked with a different agency on their website, and wasn’t ready for a full redesign.

One Fire continued with the engagement, and delivered new content and campaigns to drive traffic to the site. After the engagement, One Fire held a feedback session to learn if the client was satisfied with their work. Unsurprisingly, the client felt their outdated and unorganized website didn’t allow them to fully leverage the content One Fire was creating for them.

So, what did One Fire do? They redesigned their website for free. That’s unheard of! Initially, One Fire knew the website had the potential to be a problem for their client, but they weren’t allowed the opportunity to fix it. Normally, a website redesign is a service for which they’d charge thousands of dollars. However, One Fire knew this was the right thing to do for their client. By generously offering a website redesign at no cost, One Fire was able to build long-term trust with their client.

Without the feedback session at the end of the engagement, One Fire could have lost this retainer client and never known why. Incorporating regular feedback loops with your clients is a simple, practical way to bring the Customer Code to your agency’s culture.

What does “growing better” look like for other agency owners?

Without a doubt, supporting your client’s success will help your agency grow. One Fire’s story is one featured in a new video series, launching today. Agency owners are sharing their stories about how they’ve embedded the Customer Code into their agency’s cultures.

Register now for the three-part video series. You’ll learn how these agencies owners are helping their clients grow better.

How to Help Your Clients Grow Better in 2019 (2)

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Earn My Attention, Don’t Steal It [The Customer Code Series]

Editor’s note: This is the second post in an 11-part series on the HubSpot Customer Code. You can subscribe to the full series here.

Your time is precious. So is your customer’s.

We know this is true, but we still somehow feel okay about stealing another person’s time and attention when we’re in a business context.

Wait…stealing? Really? 

We don’t think of aggressive sales and marketing tactics as stealing. But, what’s the word for when someone takes something from you, that you value (like your time) without your permission and gives you nothing in return?

I think the word is “stealing.”

And the end result of all this attention theft is that customers don’t trust us. Globally, only 3% of people say they trust sales and marketing professionals. That’s two meager percentage points above politicians and car salesman — ouch!

When a company reaches out to people without permission, 85% of consumers say their opinion of that company goes down:

CC-01-Outreach

The people who were on your “target” list of great potential customers are now less likely to buy from you in the future because you didn’t earn their attention, you stole it.

Evidence of this low opinion and lack of trust is everywhere. Salespeople and marketers have the dubious honor of spawning an entire cottage industry of technology designed to keep us out of our prospects’ lives:

  • Ad blockers
  • Mass unsubscribe tools
  • Companies that exist just to guard our time against robocallers
  • Apps to protect people from cookie gathering

It’s as if people are installing home security on their attention.

Earlier this year, the European Union introduced sweeping new legislation, GDPR, to protect consumers from aggressive sales and marketing tactics.

People want their governments to protect them from attention theft.

Now, I’m convinced that most salespeople and marketers know the difference. We know that:

  • Ads that are delightful and entertaining earn our attention. Ads that block and interrupt steal it.
  • Content that informs and helps earns our attention. Distracting clickbait steals it.
  • Forms that ask for information in exchange for high-value education earn our attention. Forms that ask for information in exchange for low-quality content steal it.
  • Emails that ask for permission earn our attention. Emails that show up unrequested (and with no unsubscribe link!) steal it.
  • Sales calls that seek to understand earn our attention. Sales calls that seek to close at all costs steal it.

Salespeople and marketers know these things, but the pressure from above to grow bigger, faster, and at all costs is often too intense to put customer needs ahead of business needs.

Our team feels this pressure too.

HubSpot has long been an advocate for earning attention. Brian and I founded this company on the idea that is it’s better, more effective, and more cost-efficient to attract people with an inbound approach like providing quality content vs. interrupting them with annoying ads.

But over the last year we sat down and really examined our practices throughout the customer experience and found some painful areas where we didn’t walk the inbound walk on earning attention.

We hired an MBA intern to figure out how frequently we were emailing prospects. In the end they told us it was impossible to tell the average number of emails, but in the process they discovered a few edge cases where some prospects were being emailed as often as 100 times in a week!

Yes, we-a-culpa too.

Sure, these people gave us permission to email them, but there’s no way they anticipated or were asking to get that many. Was anyone on our marketing team trying to be rude? Of course not! We have a team of marketers working hard to hit their goals, and help their colleagues in sales hit theirs. But, it turned out that even with the best intentions, we still weren’t living up to our commitment to solve for the customer.

Fixing the problem didn’t happen at the individual level. We didn’t just tell our marketing team to stop sending so many emails, that wouldn’t have fixed much. It took HubSpot leaders making an investment in a customer marketing team and centralizing all customer-facing email. This decision required our leadership team to allocate hours toward solving for the customer–even if it meant delaying lead-generating and revenue-generating work, and restructuring our team and processes.

But we didn’t stop there. After a lot of self-reflection we sat down and wrote The Customer Code. We believe that it’s not about what you sell, but how you sell, and The Customer Code holds us to the standard of building a company that customers love.

The first tenet of The Customer Code is: Earn my attention, don’t steal it.

We gave ourselves an 8 out of 10. We’re doing some things right here:

  • Creating valuable, search-friendly content
  • Teaching Academy classes that help people get better at their jobs and improve their career options
  • Hosting events like INBOUND that create opportunities for all of us to learn together

We should be good at these things. After all, they’re at the heart of inbound. But, as you saw with email example, we still have room for improvement. In addition to fixing that, we want to:

  • Make it easier to opt out or tells us how you want to engage
  • Make sure our ads are relevant and targeted
  • Publish less but higher quality content

By improving these things, we create trust with our audience. They like us more. They come back. We’ve earned their attention. And this reduces friction in the customer experience.

You can absolutely grow by stealing attention, companies have built massive businesses by doing so, but you grow better by earning it. That’s the kind of growth I’m interested in.

This post is part 2 of 11 in a series on HubSpot’s Customer Code. You can find more info on The Customer Code and how we score ourselves here, and watch my INBOUND talk on this topic here: 

Customer First Templates

How to Mine Bitcoin: A Comprehensive Guide

When I first heard the term “Bitcoin mining”, I imagined a 49er dressed in tattered western garb, swinging a pickaxe at a huge data server and yelling “BOYS, I FOUND US SOME BITCOIN!”.

Needless to say, my initial understanding of Bitcoin mining was completely off the mark (although I secretly wish it was true). Bitcoin is entirely digital, so unlike other mineable materials such as gold or coal, swinging a pickaxe at the ground won’t dig up any bitcoins. You actually have to use a mining rig, which consists of mining software and hardware.

The term “mining” is also really just a clever metaphor for the intricate proof-of-work system that gives people bitcoins in exchange for validating the cryptocurrency’s transactions. In other words, the reason why people mine Bitcoin and how they actually do it is complicated. Fortunately for you, though, we wrote an in-depth explanation of what Bitcoin mining exactly is, why people do it, and how you can mine the cryptocurrency.

What is Bitcoin Mining?

To truly understand how Bitcoin mining works, you first need to know the basics of Blockchain, which is the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. The technology acts like a public, digital ledger of every single transaction made in Bitcoin, recording each transaction of the cryptocurrency into a database, copying the database, and sending copies to every computer, or node, in its network.

To make sure this ledger’s true state is verified and updated, each node in its network cross-references and communicates with each other to see if all the copies are the same. This publicizes and validates every single transaction of Bitcoin. It also decentralizes the cryptocurrency, removing the need for a financial middleman to verify its transactions, like a bank.

If a node notices one of the ledger’s copies isn’t the same, due to a manipulation of a transaction’s record after the fact, the network rejects the transaction. This security protocol halts people from altering the ledger to spend bitcoins more than once and prevents them from sending someone else’s digital funds to themselves.

To update a blockchain with these new, verified transactions, a new block, which is a bundle of these transactions, needs to be created and added to the chain, which is all the blocks linked together. But to create and add a block to the chain, the block needs to be validated by the answer to a complex cryptographic puzzle. So Bitcoin rewards the individuals, groups, or businesses who are first to solve the puzzle with a payout of the cryptocurrency.

These validators, who use mining software and hardware to earn Bitcoin payouts, are called miners. Once a miner figures out the correct answer to the cryptographic puzzle, which is verified by each node in the network, they earn the block reward and a new block is created and added to the blockchain. Each block has a unique code, called a “hash”, on one of its sides and the hash of the previous block in the chain on its other side, linking all the blocks together in a chronological and permanent fashion.

For Bitcoin miners, the block reward for validating one megabyte worth of Bitcoin transactions is currently 12.5 tokens. With one token’s value hovering at around $6,374 today, a successful miner could rake in approximately $79,675.

Validation methods like mining are called proof-of-work or PoW, and they’re one of the reasons why Bitcoin and Blockchain are considered so innovative. Incentivizing miners with payouts of Bitcoin to validate its transactions makes the cryptocurrency safe, secure, and trustworthy to use. Mining also releases bitcoins into circulation, which increases the odds that consumers and merchants will be more willing to adopt, accept, and trade it, boosting the cryptocurrency’s value.

But even though mining is economically beneficial to miners, consumers, merchants, and Bitcoin itself, digging for it can actually harm the environment — Bitcoin miners are predicted to consume more electricity than the entire country of Argentina by the end of the year.

Since there’s a limited supply of Bitcoin, they don’t want to issue the supply of the cryptocurrency too quickly, so they make the cryptographic puzzles that validate each block increasingly more difficult to solve. This allows them to cap the number of blocks that miners can package and link to the chain each day. As a result, the more challenging these cryptographic puzzles get, the more electricity miners have to use to mine Bitcoin.

Is Bitcoin Mining Worth It?

Despite the profit potential of mining Bitcoin, the energy costs associated with Bitcoin mining and your mining hardware’s upfront costs can actually do harm to your bank account. Picking the wrong hardware or not having access to a lot of cheap electricity could cost you more money to mine Bitcoin than the maximum number of funds you can earn.

So before you invest in a mining rig to mine Bitcoin by yourself, make sure to use a Bitcoin mining profitability calculator from websites like CryptoCompare, Buy Bitcoin Worldwide, or 99bitcoins to see if you can actually turn a profit.

If you find out you can’t make a profit mining Bitcoin by yourself, not all hope is lost. You can actually pay companies to mine the cryptocurrency for you. This service is called cloud mining and the companies who offer it own huge cryptocurrency mining facilities filled with stacks of mining rigs. All you have to do is rent a rig and they’ll start mining Bitcoin for you.

How to Mine Bitcoin

1. Hire a cloud mining company.

In the crypto community, Genesis Mining is considered the most reputable cloud mining company. Their data center is located in Iceland, so they use renewable energy sources, like geothermal energy and hydropower, to power their mining operation in a more cost-effective and cleaner way than their counterparts who solely rely on electricity.

If you want to check out other cloud mining companies, take a look at HashFlare or a cloud mining company review site, like CryptoCompare. They list most cloud mining companies’ contracts and include their length, the cryptocurrency they’ll mine, price, return on investment, profit ratio, user reviews, and ratings.

2. Pick a mining package.

After you pick a cloud mining company and sign up for a free account, you can choose between a selection of mining packages, which will all have different contract lengths, hashing power, and prices. Your package’s price depends on Bitcoin’s current market value, the cost and difficulty level to mine the cryptocurrency right now, and your preferred hash rate.

3. Select a mining pool.

Once you choose your contract, you can either mine Bitcoin on your own or mine the cryptocurrency with other Bitcoin miners in a group called a mining pool. Joining a mining pool allows you to combine your rigs together and boost your total hashing output.

You’ll have to split your block rewards with the other miners in your pool, but mining pools usually generate more block rewards for individuals than mining Bitcoin on your own. Most cloud mining companies will ask you to join a mining pool right after you choose your contract.

4. Choose a Bitcoin wallet.

To withdraw and store the bitcoins a cloud mining company has mined for you, you need to download a Bitcoin wallet, which is software that allows you to securely receive, store, and send bitcoins in the Bitcoin network.

To find the best-fit Bitcoin wallet for your specific situation, check out this blog post about the top Bitcoin wallets for 2018.

How Do People Really Feel About Amazon’s Big Announcement? Here’s What We Found Out.

In September 2017, Amazon released a public request for proposals from cities vying to become the location for its second headquarters — setting into motion over a year of events that have caused a range of emotions and responses.

By mid-October of that year, the company had received 238 bids. By January, the list of contenders had been narrowed to 20 finalists. And starting last week, rumors were swirling that Amazon had decided months ago that it would split its second quarters — commonly dubbed “HQ2” — among two cities.

Those cities, it was officially announced this week, are Crystal City, Virginia, and Long Island City, New York.

The response has been mixed. Some officials in both locations have lauded the selection.

“I’m really excited about the potential Amazon offers,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia in a statement.

“Welcome to Queens, #HQ2,” wrote New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a tweet — only to receive a range of replies, including “NOPE, NYC doesn’t want this.”

But in a sea of tweets, praise, and outrage, we wanted to know: How does the average internet user, perhaps representing those most likely to use Amazon, really feel about this announcement?

We had questions and set out to get as many answers as possible — so we ran a survey of over 2,500 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada. Here’s what we learned.

Many Are Unfamiliar With the Amazon HQ2 Journey

Location Awareness

For every survey question we ran, between 20-50% of respondents indicated that the question was the first they had heard of HQ2 at all.

For instance, when we posed the question — “Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters — a.k.a., ‘HQ2,’ between two cities. Without looking it up, do you know which two cities were selected?” — a quarter of respondents indicated that weren’t familiar with HQ2.

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters — a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Without looking it up, do you know which two cities were selected?

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters -- a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Without looking it up, do you know which two cities were selected_ (1) 

Otherwise, the highest number of respondents said they were aware of which two cities were selected, though the split among responses was fairly even.

Shock Factor

We found similar results when asking respondents how surprised they were with the HQ2 city selections. Again, close to a quarter of respondents said they were previously unaware of the Amazon location saga.

“Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters — a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Did you find this news surprising?”

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters -- a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Did you find this news surprising_ 

But out of those who were familiar with it, just under a third of respondents said that they were somewhat surprised by the news. Few people, it seemed, were caught completely off-guard by the cities selected for HQ2.

Location Expectations

For respondents who were surprised, we wanted to know which cities they previously thought might be chosen as the new home for HQ2. 

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters — a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Prior to this announcement, which location were you expecting Amazon to select?

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters -- a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Prior to this announcement, which location were you expecting Amazon to select_ (2)

Adjusting for the percentage of respondents who said they were unfamiliar with HQ2 prior to seeing this question, we found that the highest number indicated they expected Toronto to be selected.

However, that could be due to the fact that a somewhat disproportionate number of respondents from Canada — nearly 40% — selected Toronto as their answer.

Responses by Region (5)-1

Otherwise, the second-highest number of respondents said they believed New York would be chosen, aligning with the general lack of surprise we saw among respondents in previous questions.

Overall Impact

Finally, we wanted to measure how people feel about what type of impact HQ2 might have on the locations where it’s slated to be located.

First, we asked people to measure how positive or negative the overall impact of the presence of HQ2 in the cities selected could be.

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters — a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Do you think that HQ2 will have a positive or negative impact on the locations selected?

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters -- a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. Do you think that HQ2 will have a positive or negative impact on the locations selected_ (1)

In general, respondents indicate a positive outlook for the cities where Amazon’s HQ2 will be located, with about half answering that the impact will be beneficial in some way.

As for what the specifics of those impacts look like, we also asked respondents what sort of outcomes they expect to see as a result of Amazon moving into these locations.

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters — a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. What sort of impact, both positive and negative, do you think HQ2 will have on the locations selected?

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would split its second headquarters -- a.k.a., “HQ2,” between two cities. What sort of impact, both positive and negative, do you think HQ2 will have on the locations selected_ (Choose all (2)

Most respondents believe that job creation will be the highest (positive) impact area, with 49% indicating that they think the opening of HQ2 will create employment opportunities across a range of skill sets and career progress.

The Impact on the Marketing and SMB World

Amazon isn’t alone, however, in its wooing of east coast talent. Not long after the HQ2 locations were announced, Google CFO Ruth Porat said at a Wall Street Journal event that the search giant would double its workforce in New York City over the next decade.

It’s a move that prompts further questions — such as, “Why all the attention at the opposite end of the U.S. from Silicon Valley?” 

“Not everybody—big surprise—wants to live in Silicon Valley,” Porat said at the time, “so we want to make sure we have the opportunity to build vibrant centers across the country.”

But ask HubSpot VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson, and you’ll learn that tech talent on the east coast isn’t a new concept.

“There is a rising tide factor here. The east coast was already a magnet for tech talent,” Keaney Anderson explains. “Amazon moving here further solidifies that and could bring more people into the region.”

So how does that bode for the small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) in the areas where these tech giants will be growing, and the marketers often responsible for crafting their messages to this increasingly competitive talent pool?

Is it a positive development, in that there’s more talent to go around? Or will it become more challenging for SMBs to attract good talent when newly adjacent to Big Tech?

It all goes back to that messaging, Keaney Anderson says.

“If you’re in Amazon’s geographical shadow, you are going to need to put some thought into your culture and what you have to offer that is unique to talent,” she suggests. “Not everyone wants to work for a giant company, even a really interesting one like Amazon. You need to decide what your differentiation is, as an SMB, to offer recruits.”

HubSpot VP of Marketing Jon Dick agrees that SMBs should lean into that variation of talent.

“Having more jobs open, regardless of where they are, does create more competition. But that can be a good thing,” he explains. “Large tech companies and SMBs attract different people.”

How to Start Planning for 2019 Digital Marketing

Digital marketingIt’s that time again. We’re well into Q4, so your business should be thinking about next year’s digital marketing planning. How do you kick the year off with a bang? How can you plan to generate even more revenue for your company? What promotions will you run? What new products or services will you create?

There is so much to plan ahead for, so the earlier you’re able to do so, the better. If you’re looking for assistance putting together a plan for your 2019 digital marketing, read on. We’re covering the best practices for planning your new year strategies.

1. Reuse what worked this past year.

Did you have any campaigns that really hit it home for your business? Run those same campaigns. If there are any sales or promotions that you’ve created for your company that have worked, especially any that have worked better than you expected, keep them in your repertoire. It’s much cheaper to reuse ideas and assets than it is to create new ones every single year.

You know what they say: don’t fix what isn’t broken!

Choose a few of your top campaigns from the previous year to rerun. This makes your 2019 much easier to plan but can also make customers excited when they remember how much they saved during the promotion in years past.

However, you don’t want to make your marketing boring and repetitive. By choosing your top few campaigns, you’re able to get good use out of ideas that worked, then spend some time with your marketing team to create new ones.

2. Focus on upcoming trends.

Digital marketing is always so interesting because it changes pace so quickly. What was new and relevant five years ago is obsolete today. This is why it’s essential to take a look at upcoming trends each year to see if there are any new avenues on which your marketing team should be focusing or investing.

What’s coming up for 2019?

– Data, data, and more data

It’s becoming increasingly doable to track social media marketing, even with brick and mortar shops. This means your business should absolutely be utilizing analytics, insights, and reporting to see which campaigns are performing, how many dollars are being generated, and where improvements (if any) could be made to increase performance.

– Chatbots

These have been increasingly popular over the last couple of years, with the most common chatbots being utilized on Facebook or on a company website. There is software in which your business can invest to create a chatbot that can help make appointments or sell products/services for your business without any of your sales or marketing people having to raise a finger.

– Native ads

These ad types are shown within feeds, just like any other post you see, with the only difference being that they’re denoted “Sponsored.” Because viewers are largely ignoring banner ads, sidebar ads, and other seemingly out of place ads, native ads that appear just like a friend’s post are gaining popularity. These are seen on each of the main social media platforms and should definitely be utilized by your business where possible.

– Video

Yes, we’re going to say this every year until you’re yelling “video!” in your sleep. Video content is the future. People want entertaining content to watch, and it’s your job to give it to them. Try investing in shorter videos for Facebook or Instagram Stories, and move up from there.

Digital marketing3. Conduct an online audit.

Because things are always changing, it’s a good idea to keep up with new design trends, check out new platform features, and more. Each year (or, ideally, each quarter), conduct an audit of your business’s online presence and update cover photos, rewrite bios, fill out any new fields with more business information, and generally take a look around to see if you’re following all of the branding best practices for your social media pages.

4. Analyze the competition.

Looking for ideas? Check out what your competition has been doing and see if you can emulate their campaigns and make them better for your own business. If you have absolutely no idea what to try next, your safest bet is just to do what everyone else is doing…only better.

Of course, we certainly recommend chatting with the experts and using an agency to help you out if you’re stuck in a rut (that’s exactly what we’re here for), but in the meantime, follow the crowd.

5. Test out a new type of digital marketing.

Is there something your business wanted to try out the last couple of years, but simply hasn’t done so? Make 2019 your year! Find something new to test this year and set out to create a plan for it.

If your business could really benefit from affiliate marketing or influencer marketing, start reaching out to people and businesses to promote your product. You can partner with a third-party company or use a CRM to automate your own affiliate program for your product or service.

If you’ve been dying to invest in video equipment to really dive into video marketing for your business, get on it! Create your video strategy, whether it’s weekly Facebook Live videos in a private Facebook group, webinars, creative videos, educational videos, and more.

Or, if your business would benefit from a podcast, invest in your equipment, add your podcast idea to iTunes, start outlining your episodes, and start recording! There are endless creative ideas to set your business apart from your competition, to provide value (both free and paid) to your customers, and generate a profit for your company.

If you’re interested in chatting more about how we can help you to create a 2019 digital marketing strategy for your business, contact us today. Creating profitable strategies is what we do best.

 

Unriddled: Amazon Officially Selects HQ2, an Unsend Feature Coming to Messenger, and More Tech News You Need

“Unriddled” is HubSpot’s weekly digest of the tech headlines you need to know. We give you the top tech stories in a quick, scannable way and break it all down. It’s tech news: explained.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. Amazon Officially Announces HQ2 Locations

Confirming rumors that began swirling last week, Amazon officially announced yesterday that its second headquarters — better known as HQ2 — will be split between two locations: Crystal City, VA (considered by some to be a neighborhood of Washington, D.C.) and Long Island City in the Queens neighborhood of New York.

The announcement comes as no surprise to those who were saying for months that Amazon was likely to select the Washington, D.C. area as an HQ2 location — such as NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway, who earlier this year pointed out the proximity of Crystal City to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s home in the area, as well as his preexisting ownership of the Washington Post

U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia also commented on the Crystal City selection.

“As a former Governor, now Senator, but also as a former technology executive, I’m really excited about the potential Amazon offers not only to Northern Virginia,” Warner said in a statement, “but the whole capital region and the entire Commonwealth.”

As for the Long Island City location, Amazon notes that its selection is related to the area’s “diverse community with a unique blend of cultural institutions, arts organizations, new and converted housing, restaurants, bars, breweries, waterfront parks, hotels, academic institutions, and small and large tech sector and industrial businesses.” Read full story >>

2. An Unsend Feature Is Coming to Messenger

Facebook has confirmed, via an iOS app store description, that users will soon be able to “remove a message from a chat thread after it’s been sent.”

IMG_4181

“If you accidentally send the wrong photo, incorrect information, or message the wrong thread,” the description reads, “you can easily correct it by removing the message within 10 minutes of sending it.”

This teaser of the new feature — which is said to be “coming soon” — arrives after months of speculation, and follows Facebook’s admittance that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had the option to delete messages after sending them. Read full story >>

3. Twitter Follower Counts Drop (Again)

After alerting users that their follower counts might drop in July, Twitter has once again said that, thanks to a bug, these previously “locked” followers reappeared and have once again been removed.

According to Reuters, the bug caused these accounts to be “briefly added back [to] follower accounts” for a “few accounts.”

Twitter itself lost about 7.8 million followers in the initial July purge, got 2.36 million of them back by October, and lost another 2.4 million on Friday. Read full story >>

4. Google’s AI Is Getting to Work

Distinguished Speakers

Earlier this week, it was announced that Google would open source its artificial intelligence that plays a vital role in distinguishing one human voice from another.

The formal term for this distinction, “speaker diarization,” describes the process of being able to tell different voices apart in audio where many people might be speaking at once. It’s “an important part of speech recognition systems,” the company says, playing a vital role in “solving the problem of ‘who spoke when’.”

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Image source: Google

According to VentureBeat, the newly open-sourced AI can tell voices apart in this situations with up to 92% accuracy. Read full story >>

Smart Pictures

Also in the world of Google AI, The New York Times is using the company’s technology to help make its archive of photos (which date back to the 1870s) “smarter” — that is, to help recognize and translate text that describe the photos.

In other words, writes Stephen Shankland of CNET, the NYT is using Google AI to “turn a historic archive of more than 5 million photos into digital data that’ll appear in the newspaper’s features about history.” Also a future possibility, Shankland writes, is exploring AI technology for object recognition in the photos. Read full story >>

Help Me Finish That Thought

Think of it as a visual-content autofill. Google announced this week that its AI technology will also be applied to Android devices to suggest GIF images, emoji, and stickers that it believes fit into your conversation.

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Image source: Google

Starting yesterday, Google said, phones using the Android operating system and the company’s Gboard will use machine learning to know which of these visuals that best fit the specific context of a conversation.

“With thousands of emoji and stickers, and an endless number of GIFs, it can sometimes take awhile to find the perfect way to say ‘I love you,’ ‘hooray,’ or anything else you’re trying to communicate,” writes Gboard Product Lead Angana Ghosh. “This makes it faster and easier to share your #feelings and your glowing personality with whoever you’re chatting with.” Read full story >>

5. Apples to Amazon

Yes — there’s more Amazon news. Last week, it was revealed that Amazon reached an agreement with Apple to carry more of the latter’s products on its website, including the latest models of iPads, iPhones, and the Apple Watch. The product selection will not, however, include Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, perhaps due to its potential competition with Amazon’s own Echo smart speaker products.

But, there’s a catch. This new product expansion means that independent vendors selling refurbished Apple products on Amazon’s marketplace will now face high restrictions. Their listings, explains CNET‘s Ben Fox Rubin, will be removed after January 4 of next year, and they’ll “have to apply with Apple to become authorized resellers on Amazon.” Read full story >>

6. Marketers, Take Note: Samsung Is Going All-In on Voice and Now Is the Time to Prepare

At last week’s Samsung Developer Conference, the name of the game was connectivity — and voice assistant Bixby is what’s tying it all together. Here’s what marketers should know about it. Read full story >>

7. Meet the People Building the TV Controlled by Your Brain

Imagine a TV that’s controlled only by the brain. Meet the people developing that technology today — and discover the future they envision for it. Read full story >>

8. The Voice Search Barometer: Where Do Users Stand? [New Data]

Studies say that more and more online transactions are taking place via voice. But what do these transactions look like — and how many users are really adapting voice? Read full story >>

9. The What, Where, and How of Video Consumption [New Data]

With new online video products popping up with increased frequency, we wanted to know how people really prefer to watch. Read full story >>

Featured image source: Amazon

9 Easy Ways to Convert Webinar Leads into Sales

A jam-packed webinar is a beautiful thing. But you know what’s better than filling your funnel with webinar leads? Converting those leads into customers.

The key to turning webinar leads into sales is giving your prospects a clear path forward. Too often, we focus on creating great webinar content and hosting an engaging webinar, which are both important, but we don’t spend enough time on the next step.

According to research from InsideSales.com, 73% of marketing and sales leaders say webinars are one of the best ways to generate high-quality leads. With this in mind, you don’t want to let these valuable leads languish in post-webinar purgatory. Here are nine simple ways to convert more webinar leads into sales.

9 Easy Ways to Convert Webinar Leads into Sales

1. Poll your audience to see who’s ready to buy.

At GoToWebinar, we always use multiple polls during our webinars. They grab attendees’ attention and prompt them to take part in the action. Poll responses provide handy insights you can use to segment your audience by need, interest level, industry, and more, too.

Polling your attendees during the webinar will also help you find out if they’re interested in learning more about your company or talking to a sales representative. Bear in mind, this technique is not suited for top-of-the-funnel webinars that are unrelated to your product. You don’t want to hit attendees with a “buy now” message when they are still in the discovery phase.

Additionally, polling your attendees during the webinar — rather than polling them in a post-webinar email — will yield a much higher response rate. If attendees respond in the affirmative, pass them to your sales team for follow-up.

If you get a lot of positive poll responses, take time at the end of your webinar to demo your product or show your attendees how they can purchase it. Those who aren’t interested can hop off and those who are interested will appreciate the extra info.

2. Send a post-webinar survey.

Sending attendees a quick survey right after the webinar is a great way to see if your content resonated with them, capture additional attendee insights, and gauge attendee interest in your product.

If you didn’t ask them these questions during the webinar, ask them who’s ready to take the next step in a post-webinar survey. You can also use survey responses to segment your webinar attendees and tailor your follow up marketing messages.

3. Involve your sales team in the webinar.

Collaboration between marketing and sales sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to overlook. To involve the sales team in your webinars, make sure they know what webinars are on the calendar and what topic they’ll cover. This will help the sales team prepare more thorough follow-up communication with webinar leads and keep your marketing efforts aligned with your company’s sales goals.

At GoToWebinar, we recommend going a step further and having sales reps join the webinar. They can even help run the webinar, fielding and answering attendee questions.

By taking part in the webinar, sales reps will get familiar with the topic. They’ll also notice that most attendees are engaged, which will make them all the more motivated to follow-up. This sets the groundwork to seamlessly pass the top webinar leads from marketing to sales.

4. Follow up within 24 hours.

While it’s still fresh in their minds, send out your first email follow-up to webinar attendees and no-shows within 24 hours of the webinar. Your audience expects to receive the webinar recording and presentation slides, regardless if they showed up or not.

Prospects also love when companies include a link to a follow-up blog post that summarizes the webinar content and answers some of the top attendee questions. Sure, it takes extra planning and a quick turnaround to do this, but you’re fostering a relationship with these prospects — this type of targeted content is key to converting your audience down the line.

5. Identify hot, warm, and cold leads.

You don’t have to use all three lead categories, but at the very least, divide your leads into hot leads that are ready for sales and ones that need to be nurtured.

We’ve already discussed two ways to identify hot leads — using a poll or survey — but you also have access to a lot of other data that can help you pinpoint where leads are in their buyer’s journey.

Look at data like:

  • Registration responses: go beyond only asking for name and email on your webinar registration form. Ask more probing questions that will help segment and personalize your marketing.
  • Attendee interest rating: if you’re using a solution like GoToWebinar or Zoom Video Webinar, you will have webinar reports that display your attendees’ engagement level over the course of the webinar.
  • Previous marketing engagement: this includes web behavior, content downloads, and prior webinar activity.

6. Send personalized follow-ups to hot leads.

Passing on your sales-ready webinar leads with specific instructions for how to follow up will increase the odds your sales team will close these prospects. You could also go a step further and provide your sales reps with a customizable email template. The easier you make their job, the more likely they’ll hit it out of the park.

This follow-up messaging should relate to the webinar content, provide value, and offer help. It’s also effective to personalize these messages as much as possible based on what you know about each prospect.

7. Nurture warm and cold leads.

Even if some of your webinar leads aren’t ready to buy today, you don’t want to waste the opportunity of closing them when they do become ready to buy. Putting warm and cold webinar leads into your existing nurture tracks based on your usual segmentation will boost the chances that they’ll contact your company when they’re thinking about purchasing your solution.

Alternatively, you can create a webinar-specific nurturing track for these leads, if you have the resources. As you develop your nurturing content, think about what stage of the buying cycle the various segments of your attendees are in and identify other key content assets you can offer in your nurturing stream that build on your webinar content.

The length of the nurturing stream will depend on your sales cycle, but four to six weeks is a good place to start.

8. Retarget your webinar leads.

Creating retargeting campaigns for your webinar leads will keep your brand top of mind. Again, you can segment these audiences based off their responses, interest level, and previous marketing engagement, but the point is to keep your leads warm and move them through each stage of the journey.

Remember, retargeting ads should complement your other marketing tactics. You don’t want to email webinar leads with a discount offer and retarget them with an awareness ad at the same time.

9. Always empower leads to take action.

It’s always better to make it easy for your prospects to take the next step in their buyer’s journey. Even if your leads aren’t quite ready to become customers, give them the ability to keep learning with additional resources and ways to engage. Whether it’s during the webinar or in your follow-up emails, including a clear call to action and highlighting its benefit will entice your audience to take the next step with your business.

Webinar leads are some of your best leads.

A recent GoToWebinar study on content engagement revealed that people are willing to spend more time with a webinar than any other type of content. These are some of your most engaged leads, so make sure you have a plan to convert them. If you’re not ready for all these tactics, just start with a couple and you could see your webinar conversions gradually take off.