Social Media for Home Builders: 10 Great Brands to Follow

As Marketers, we strive to write valuable content, stand out from our competitors and target our audience in a unique and creative way. Leveraging social media is a great way to achieve all three of those goals.

However, if you or your client is a home builder or involved in interior design, it might be challenging to know what exactly to post and how to differentiate yourself from other brands.

Check out these 10 home builder brands that found creative ways to leverage social media.

10 of the Best Home Builder Brands to Follow on Social Media

1. Lennar Homes (Facebook)

Social media is best for just that: being social. Lennar Homes is the perfect example. Their Facebook page is personal – it’s not just beautiful pictures of amazing homes. They share pictures of first-time homeowners and other big milestones.

Not only can this increase their reach by tagging people and accordingly showing up in more relevant newsfeeds, but it also increases engagement. Neuromarketer Martin Lindstrom is willing to bet that “90% of all decisions are made subconsciously” with our emotions and seeing pictures of happy families elicits emotions way more than a picture of a beautiful spiral staircase ever will.

2. David Weekley (Instagram)

Social media offers companies the unique opportunity to give behind the scenes looks and sneak peeks to those who opt to follow them. This is an incentive, initially, to follow the company. The more a user views this social media platform, however, the more the company gains a sort of brand leadership relationship with the potential client.

David Weekley Homes does a great job of using not only images of the homes they build but also scenery of the area and a quick video tour of a recently built home. This adds another level of helpfulness and intrigue to potential clients viewing their profile.

According to Social Media Today, “online video has proven to be the most engaging and compelling form of content for social media users who watch and share thousands of them every single minute” — you don’t want to be missing out.

3. Fischer Homes (Houzz)

Another advantage to social media is the ability to connect with potential clients on a more meaningful level. On Houzz, for example, a home builder can follow anyone who is following them. This creates an opportunity to gain insight into what other information that user has available on Houzz and also to open a dialogue.

Fischer Homes, for example, is following not only design studios and construction companies. They are following homeowners. With this simple strategy, Fischer Homes is able to collaborate on projects with people who are openly creating project boards on Houzz — practically begging for a remodeler or home builder to reach out to them!

4. Habitat for Humanity International (Twitter)

Looking for a great example of how to engage on Twitter? Check out Habitat for Humanity International. It’s easy to shoot out a couple tweets and cross your fingers that you’ll become an overnight sensation.

But unless you’re Lady Gaga, this probably won’t get you very far. Habitat is great at using hashtags to draw already interested viewers in, posting correctly sized images for these viewers to connect with and relate to, and then a link to their blog to pull people to their website.

According to Buffer, “tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.” The ultimate goal of social media is to pull a potential client to your website to learn more about you and why you are the right decision for them. Habitat for Humanity International does just that.

5. Pulte Homes (Facebook)

pulte-homes-facebook-comments

Another great way to engage with people through Facebook is by responding to their comments. Think of it this way: each person who engages with something you post on social media is the same as someone engaging with you in person.

If someone told you they loved a fireplace you designed to your face, would you reply? Treat social media as an opportunity to have conversations with people you may not reach on a daily basis. Pulte Homes does a great job of interacting with anyone who comments on their Facebook page, developing relationships and trust with each touch.

6. Wallmark Custom Homes (Pinterest)

Pinterest is a largely untapped platform that offers the opportunity to reach an estimated 100 million users searching for pictographic ideas, inspiration, and information. In the home building and remodeling industries in particular, this is the perfect place to showcase some of your finest work.

Beyond just posting your own work, however, Pinterest is an excellent way to interact directly with users who are “pinning” on boards for their own upcoming projects. You can also remain relevant by pinning images of upcoming holidays (for example, Thanksgiving decorations or recipes).

Keeping up with what’s trending will help you get noticed by those looking for trending topics. Wallmark Custom Homes does a great job of creating relevant boards with trending topics and resonant boards with their own images from projects.

7. Reed Design Build (Houzz)

Another way to interact with users on Houzz is through responses to comments. Houzz is like the love child of Pinterest and Facebook — it lends itself to building interactive projects with users as well as comments and rating.

Reed Design Build does an excellent job of responding to comments and garnering reviews. Both show not only how much they care about their potential clients by answering their questions but also how much they care about their past customers by collecting several 5-star ratings.

8. Shea Homes (Pinterest)

Pinterest can be a tricky platform to remain sticky. Without someone directly seeking out your brand in the search, it can be a challenge to put out content that will be found. Take a page out of Shea Homes’ book.

This home builder produces several boards pertaining largely to relevant and trending topics in an effort to remain top of mind for those searching for related topics. Once they draw someone to their profile, however, they have several powerful boards outlining their brand. One board is even filled with pins to their own blog, spanning over 75+ topics of interest for home buyers.

Shea Homes is harnessing the power of external links to build their SEO and increasing the number of places they can be found by potentially interested customers with their Pinterest strategy. According to Moz, “Top SEOs believe that external links are the most important source of ranking power,” so this is not a strategy to be overlooked!

shea-homes-pinterest.png

9. Toll Brothers (Instagram)

Instagram might not be your top-product-selling platform as a Marketer, but it just may be your top-brand-selling platform. This app gives you unique experience of connecting with your audience in a visually captivating manner.

Toll Brothers is particularly strong on Instagram, utilizing not only a hashtag (#TollLife) but also the regram capability to discover when people are talking about them and to then highlight these shared images. This brand cleverly takes the hashtag to the next level; when someone posts a picture on Instagram with their hashtag, Toll Brothers reposts (“regrams” for all you fluent Insta-tongues) the picture on their own profile as a feature.

This strategy generates excitement around the brand and around producing powerful photography surrounding the brand. Some might call this free marketing and publicity, actually, by letting those using the brand speak for themselves.

Toll Brothers Instagram

10. Drees Homes (Twitter)

So, I mentioned hashtags. Let’s talk about them. Drees Homes is hitting this strategy out of the park! By inviting anyone who encounters their brand to use the hashtag #LivingTheDrees, Drees Homes is not only showcasing their creativity in hashtag development but also their commitment to starting a conversation around their brand.

With continual upkeep, Drees Homes manages to keep their hashtags relevant and fun, including #HappyHollyDrees for the holiday season for example. I wish I lived in a Drees home just so I could interact on their online community with all of their fun hashtags and customer features! And, according to Sprout Social, ” Seeing as how they’ve been integrated into most of the popular social media platforms, and social media has entered almost every facet of our lives,” hashtags are here to stay. So, #EmbraceTheHashtag!

drees-homes-twitter.png

Social media strategy is not something that works alone in a vacuum. Each platform has a unique audience and should accordingly be treated as a different opportunity. In building your social media strategy, keep in mind that it takes continual upkeep and honing, and that it works best with a comprehensive marketing plan to get the most out of each touch point.

Starting a social media strategy for your own home building or remodeling business? Check out the free ebook below.

Social Media Checklist for Home Builders and Remodelers

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48 C# Interview Questions Any Interview Worth Their Salt Will Ask

With over 7,000 C#.Net programming jobs advertised every month that have an average salary of over $90,000, the demand for this type of developer has exploded. But why is the C#.Net labor market so hot right now? Well, more and more engineering departments are adopting C#.Net to build their software because it’s similar to other common C-type languages like C++ and Java. This makes the language intuitive to learn — in fact — it’s the fifth most popular programming language for building software.

To help you prepare for your next C#.Net developer interview and land the job, check out the following C#.Net interview questions most interviewers will ask you.

48 C#.Net Interview Questions

1. What is C#?

2. What are the advantages of using C#?

3. What are an object and class?

4. What is an Object Pool?

5. What is an abstraction?

6. What is polymorphism?

7. Is C# managed or unmanaged code?

8. How do you inherit a class in C#?

9. What’s the difference between Interface and Abstract Class?

10. What are sealed classes in C#?

11. What’s the difference between a struct and a class in C#?

12. What’s the point of using statement in C#?

13. How is Exception Handling applied in C#?

14. What are boxing and unboxing in C#?

15. What are the three types of comments in C#?

16. Can multiple catch blocks be executed in C#?

17. What’s the difference between static, public, and void? What’s the outcome of each one?

18. What are value types and reference types?

19. What’s the difference between ref and out parameters?

20. Can “this” be used within a static method?

21. What are Arrays in C#?

22. What is a jagged array in C#?

23. What’s the difference between Array and ArrayList?

24. What’s the difference between System.Array.CopyTo() and System.Array.Clone()?

25. What’s the difference between string and StringBuilder?

26. What are delegates in C#?

27. What’s a multicast delegate?

28. What is a Reflection in C#?

29. What is a Generic Class?

30. What are Get and Set Accessor properties?

31. What is Multithreading?

32. What is Serialization?

33. What are the different ways a method can be overloaded?

34. What is the accessibility modifier “protected internal”?

35. What are the different ways a method can be overloaded?

36. What is an object pool in .Net?

37. What are the most commonly used types of exceptions in .Net?

38. What are accessibility modifiers in C#?

39. What are nullable types in C#?

40. What’s the difference between is and as operators in C#?

41. What are Indexers?

42. What are Singleton Design Patterns?

43. Given an array of ints, write a C# method to total all the values that are even numbers.

44. Is it possible to store mixed data types like int, string, float, and char all in one array?

45. Describe dependency injection.

46. Write a C# program that accepts a distance in kilometers, converts it into meters, and then displays the result.

47. What’s the difference between the “constant” and “readonly” variables when using C#? When would you use each one?

48. Which preference of IDE do you have when using C#? Why?

Recruiter-Approved Answers to “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

When I was job hunting and in the process of interviewing, one of the scariest questions I came across was this one — “So, Caroline, where do you see yourself in five years?”

At the time, I was a month out of graduation. I barely had an inkling of an idea what I wanted to do in six months, never mind five years.

I struggled to find the line between honesty, genuine confusion, and fantasy.

I wondered if I should say, “I hope to be at your company, perhaps leading the marketing team!”, to suggest my steadfast loyalty to the company for which I was interviewing.

Alternatively, perhaps I should let them know my biggest fantasy — “In five years, I hope to be traveling and writing a book.”

Sometimes, I simply settled for the truth — “In five years … huh. I have no idea.”

However, none of these responses are answers you’ll want to copy for yourself. Here, we’re going to explore what interviewers actually want to know when they ask you that question, and how you can answer it to demonstrate your value as a candidate.

Use these marketing resume templates to create a killer resume. 

Why Interviewers Want to Know “Where You See Yourself in Five Years”

When an interviewer asks you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, they want to know one thing — whether your goals align well with the potential career path of the role for which you’re applying.

Ultimately, they want to hire a candidate who they can hire and train for the long-haul. They’re asking this question to gauge whether you’ll likely want to stay with the company for a long time, and whether the company can fulfill some of your long-term needs.

You might be thinking — “Okay, but so what if I quit after a year or two? I still put in my hard work during that time.”

Unfortunately, it’s more expensive to replace an employee, and bring a new hire up-to-speed, than you might think. In fact, the average company loses anywhere between 1% and 2.5% of their total revenue on the time and effort it takes to train a new hire.

Additionally, companies don’t want high turnover rates, which can decrease team morale and productivity.

For instance, let’s say you’re applying for a customer service position but tell the interviewer, “In a few years, I’d like to get more involved in SEO and marketing analytics.”

This can be a great answer, if the company has a department for that.

But if the company outsources for their SEO needs, then the recruiter just learned you’ll likely become frustrated by the lack of opportunities internally, and leave the company within the next few years.

Of course, if this is the case, she’ll choose to hire a candidate who’s long-term growth plan aligns well with opportunities her company can offer.

Now that we’ve clarified that, let’s take a look at how you should answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

How to Answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

To ensure accuracy, I spoke with internal HubSpot recruiters to find out what type of answer they deem most appropriate for this question.

Holly Peterson, a Senior Recruiter at HubSpot, told me, “A good answer to this question is an honest one. If you don’t know where you see yourself in five years — that’s okay, but you should have something prepared, to at least share your thoughts surrounding the question.”

Peterson further noted, “Responding ‘I have no idea’, isn’t ideal, but saying something like ‘I’m not sure the exact role I want to be in, but I want to continue on a growth trajectory in X field — whether that develops into a people management role, or functional expert, it’s hard to say at this point in time. Overall, I want to make sure no matter what position I’m in, I’m constantly seeking growth opportunities in and outside my role.’ That way, whether you have a concrete goal or not, you set yourself up as someone who has a growth mindset, i.e. you’re a continual learner. All employers want to hire this type of person.”

HubSpot Recruiter Rich Lapham also advises candidates to avoid making a statement if they can’t back it up. He told me, “Whatever your answer, think through the follow-up question, ‘Why?’. When candidates can’t articulate their why it often feels as though they aren’t presenting their authentic self, and to me that’s a red flag. For instance, if I ask a candidate and they respond with ‘I want to be a manager’ and I ask ‘Why?’, you can usually tell the difference between people who are really interested in management versus people who say it because they think it is the right thing to say.”

Additionally, Olivia Chin, a Technology Recruiter at HubSpot, said, “I like to hear tangible, measurable answers that show candidates have done their research and also have personal drive. i.e. ‘I noticed a lot of Tech Leads at HubSpot started as Software Engineers. I am interested in people management and it’d be great to develop those skills on the job.'”

Chin, who recruits for both entry-level and senior, also mentioned, “I always appreciate honesty. If a candidate doesn’t have a set plan or timeline, a good answer might be, ‘As a junior-level candidate I want to learn as much as I can, and in a year or two I’ll have a better idea of what I want next’.”

Finally, Glory Montes, a HubSpot Associate Campus Recruiter, told me, “Before answering this question, think about the size and culture of the company you’re interviewing for. Are they a fast-paced startup? If so, make sure your answer aims high! If they are slower-paced, make sure you are staying realistic about what kind of progress you can make in that organization. Also, the focus doesn’t always have to be on job titles. You can also focus on hard or soft skills you want to develop, relationships you want to make, or even personal goals to give the recruiter a better idea of your priorities.”

Sample Answers to “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

1. “As a social media manager, I’d like to focus short-term on developing my skill set to become incredibly proficient on the job. Then, in five years’ time, I’d like to have become adept at design and know how to use programs like Photoshop — ideally, I’d take online or evening courses to help with this. I have an interest in video marketing, and I think there’s a compelling alignment between social media and video and it could be interesting to figure out how to intersect those passions long-term to help grow your social media audience.”

2. “In five years, I’d like to have completed your leadership training course. I read about it on your website and think it’s a phenomenal program. Once I’ve completed that course, I’d like to develop my skill set to eventually become a project manager for my team.”

3. “My goal is to find a company where I can grow my career and develop new professional skills. In five years, I imagine I’d like to be in a leadership position — additionally, I’m interested in learning more about the content strategy side of the business. However, I find it most important to find a company that encourages continuous learning, as yours does.”

4. “Right now I’d like to continue to develop my writing skills, which is why I’m excited about the opportunity to be a blogger at your company. In five years, I would be delighted to see this role turn into a bit more of an editorial position, where I also help edit other writers’ work, and offer ideas for the editorial strategy of the team.”

5. “In five years I’d like to have developed a deep expertise of video strategy and how to use video to promote brands, which is why I’m excited about this position. I know my role will require me to become a master at video, which aligns well with my long-term goals. Additionally, in a few years I could see myself enjoying the project management aspect of video strategy, as well.”

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How to Do Market Research: A 6-Step Guide

Today’s buyers hold all of the power when making a purchasing decision. You’re also likely aware that they’re doing some of their research online.

But have you really adapted your marketing plan to match the way today’s customers shop and buy?

Click here to get started with our free market research kit.

Consider three recent statistics about modern buyer behavior:

What’s a marketer to do to make sure your buyers find you early and often? Go where they’re going.

That might sound obvious, but how deeply do you understand exactly where your buyers are doing their research and what is influencing their decisions? That’s where market research comes into play.

Whether you’re a newbie or experienced with market research, this guide will give you a blueprint for conducting a thorough study of your product, target audience, and how you fare in your industry.

Primary vs. Secondary Research

There are two main types of market research that businesses conduct to collect the most actionable information on their products: primary research and secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is the pursuit of firsthand information on your market and its customers. You can use focus groups, online surveys, phone interviews, and more to gather fresh details on the challenges your buyers face and the brand awareness behind your company.

Primary research is useful when segmenting your market and establishing your buyer personas, and this research tends to fall into one of two buckets:

  • Exploratory Research: This kind of primary market research is less concerned with measurable customer trends and more about potential problems that would be worth tackling as a team. It normally takes place as a first step before any specific research has been performed, and can involve open-ended interviews or surveys with small numbers of people.
  • Specific Research: This kind of primary market research often follows exploratory research, and is used to dive into issues or opportunities the business has already identified as important. In specific research, the business can take a smaller or more precise segment of their audience and ask questions aimed at solving a suspected problem.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is all the data and public records you have at your disposal to draw conclusions from. This includes trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data you already have on your business.

Secondary research is particularly useful for analyzing your competitors. Here are three types of secondary research sources that make this process so beneficial:

  • Public Sources: These sources are your first and most accessible layer of material when conducting secondary market research. Being free to find and read — usually — they offer the most bang for your buck. Government statistics are arguably your most common public sources, according to Entrepreneur. Two U.S. examples of public market data are the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, both of which offer helpful information on the state of various industries nationwide.
  • Commercial Sources: These sources often come in the form of market reports, consisting of industry insight compiled by a research agency like Pew, Gartner, or Forrester. Because this info is so portable and distributable, it typically costs money to download and obtain.
  • Internal Sources: Internal sources deserve more credit for supporting market research than they generally get. Why? This is the market data your organization already has in-house. Average revenue per sale, customer retention rates, and other historical data on the health of old and new accounts can all help you draw conclusions on what your buyers might want right now.

1. Define your buyer persona.

Before you dive into how customers in your industry make buying decisions, you must first understand who they are. This is the beginning of your primary market research — where buyer personas come in handy.

Buyer personas — sometimes referred to as marketing personas — are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you visualize your audience, streamline your communications, and inform your strategy. Some key characteristics you should be keen on including in your buyer persona are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title(s)
  • Job titles
  • Family size
  • Income
  • Major challenges

The idea is ultimately to use this persona as a guideline for when you reach and learn about actual customers in your industry (you’ll do this in the steps below).

To get started with creating your personas, check out these free templates, as well as this helpful tool. These resources are designed to help you organize your audience segments, collect the right information, select the right format, and so on.

You may find that your business lends itself to more than one persona — that’s fine! You just need to be sure that you’re being thoughtful about the specific persona you are optimizing for when planning content and campaigns.

2. Identify a portion of that persona to engage.

Now that you know who your buyer personas are, you’ll need to find a representative sample of your target customers to understand their actual characteristics, challenges, and buying habits.

These should be folks who recently made a purchase (or purposefully decided not to make one), and you can meet with them in a number of ways:

  • In-person via a focus group
  • Administering an online survey
  • Individual phone interviews

We’ve developed a few guidelines and tips that’ll help you get the right participants for your research. Let’s walk through them.

Choosing Which Buyers to Survey

When choosing whom you want to engage to conduct market research, start with the characteristics that apply to your buyer persona. This will vary for every organization, but here are some additional guidelines that will apply to just about any scenario:

  • Shoot for 10 participants per buyer persona. We recommend focusing on one persona, but if you feel it’s necessary to research multiple personas, be sure to recruit a separate sample group for each one.
  • Select people who have recently interacted with you. You may want to focus on folks that have completed an evaluation within the past six months — or up to a year if you have a longer sales cycle or niche market. You’ll be asking very detailed questions, so it’s important that their experience is fresh.
  • Aim for a mix of participants. You want to recruit people who have purchased your product, folks who purchased a competitor’s product, and a few who decided not to purchase anything at all. While your own customers will be the easiest to find and recruit, sourcing information from others will help you develop a balanced view.

3. Engage your market research participants.

Market research firms have panels of people they can pull from when they want to conduct a study. The trouble is, most individual marketers don’t have that luxury — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the time you’ll spend recruiting exclusively for your study will often lead to better participants.

Here’s a simple recruiting process to guide your efforts:

  1. Pull a list of customers who made a recent purchase. As we mentioned before, this is usually the easiest set of buyers to recruit. If you’re using a CRM system, you can run a report of deals that closed within the past six months and filter it for the characteristics you’re looking for. Otherwise, you can work with your sales team to get a list of appropriate accounts from them.
  2. Pull a list of customers who were in an active evaluation, but didn’t make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either purchased from a competitor or decided not to make a purchase. Again, you can get this list from your CRM or from whatever system your Sales team uses to track deals.
  3. Call for participants on social media. Try reaching out to the folks that follow you on social media, but decided not to buy from you. There’s a chance that some of them would be willing to talk to you and tell you why they ultimately decided not to buy your product.
  4. Leverage your own network. Get the word out to your coworkers, former colleagues, and LinkedIn connections that you’re conducting a study. Even if your direct connections don’t qualify, some of them will likely have a coworker, friend, or family member who does.
  5. Choose an incentive. Time is precious, so you’ll need to think about how you will motivate someone to spend 30-45 minutes on you and your study. On a tight budget? You can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. Another option? Send a simple handwritten ‘thank you’ note once the study is complete.

4. Prepare your research questions.

The best way to make sure you get the most out of your conversations is to be prepared. You should always create a discussion guide — whether it’s for a focus group, online survey, or a phone interview — to make sure you cover all of the top-of-mind questions and use your time wisely.

(Note: This is not intended to be a script. The discussions should be natural and conversational, so we encourage you to go out of order or probe into certain areas as you see fit.)

Your discussion guide should be in an outline format, with a time allotment and open-ended questions allotted for each section.

Wait, all open-ended questions?

Yes — this is a golden rule of market research. You never want to “lead the witness” by asking yes/no questions, as that puts you at risk of unintentionally swaying their thoughts by leading with your own hypothesis. Asking open-ended questions also helps you avoid those painful one-word answers.

Here’s a general outline for a 30-minute survey of one B2B buyer. You can use these as talking points for an in-person interview, or as questions posed on a digital form to administer as a survey to your target customers.

Background Information (5 Minutes)

Ask the buyer to give you a little background information (their title, how long they’ve been with the company, and so on). Then, ask a fun/easy question to warm things up (first concert attended, favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, etc.).

Remember, you want to get to know your buyers in pretty specific ways. You might be able to capture basic information such as age, location, and job title from your contact list, there are some personal and professional challenges you can really only learn by asking. Here are some other key background questions to ask your target audience:

  • Describe to me how your work team is structured.
  • Tell me about your personal job responsibilities.
  • What are the team’s goals and how do you measure them?
  • What has been your biggest challenge in the past year?

Now, make a transition to acknowledge the specific purchase or interaction they made that led to you including them in the study. The next three stages of the buyer’s journey will focus specifically on that purchase.

Awareness (5 Minutes)

Here, you want to understand how they first realized they had a problem that needed to be solved without getting into whether or not they knew about your brand yet.

  • Think back to when you first realized you needed a [name the product/service category, but not yours specifically]. What challenges were you facing at the time?
  • How did you know that something in this category could help you?
  • How familiar were you with different options on the market?

Consideration (10 Minutes)

Now you want to get very specific about how and where the buyer researched potential solutions. Plan to interject to ask for more details.

  • What was the first thing you did to research potential solutions? How helpful was this source?
  • Where did you go to find more information?

If they don’t come up organically, ask about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, and so on. Probe, as appropriate, with some of the following questions:

  • How did you find that source?
  • How did you use vendor websites?
  • What words specifically did you search on Google?
  • How helpful was it? How could it be better?
  • Who provided the most (and least) helpful information? What did that look like?
  • Tell me about your experiences with the sales people from each vendor.

Decision (10 Minutes)

  • Which of the sources you described above was the most influential in driving your decision?
  • What, if any, criteria did you establish to compare the alternatives?
  • What vendors made it to the short list and what were the pros/cons of each?
  • Who else was involved in the final decision? What role did each of these people play?
  • What factors ultimately influenced your final purchasing decision?

Closing

Here, you want to wrap up and understand what could have been better for the buyer.

  • Ask them what their ideal buying process would look like. How would it differ from what they experienced?
  • Allow time for further questions on their end.
  • Don’t forget to thank them for their time and confirm their address to send a thank-you note or incentive.

5. List your primary competitors.

Understanding your competitors begins your secondary market research. But keep in mind competition isn’t always as simple as Company X versus Company Y.

Sometimes, a division of a company might compete with your main product or service, even though that company’s brand might put more effort in another area. Apple is known for its laptops and mobile devices, for example, but Apple Music competes with Spotify — which doesn’t sell hardware (yet) — over its music streaming service.

From a content standpoint, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors — even though their products don’t overlap with yours at all. A toothpaste developer, for example, might compete with magazines like Health.com or Prevention on certain blog topics related to nutrition, even though these magazines don’t actually sell oral care products.

Identifying Industry Competitors

To identify competitors whose products or services overlap with yours, determine which industry or industries you’re pursuing. Start high-level, using terms like education, construction, media & entertainment, food service, healthcare, retail, financial services, telecommunications, agriculture, etc.

The list goes on, but find an industry term that you identify with, and use it to create a list of companies that also belong to this industry. You can build your list the following ways:

  • Review your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd. In certain industries, this is your best first step in secondary market research. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create “quadrants,” where you can see companies plotted as contenders, leaders, niche, and high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, ecommerce, and related business services.
  • Download a market report. Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer both free and gated market forecasts every year on the vendors who are leading their industry. On Forrester’s website, for example, you can select “Latest Research” from the navigation bar and browse Forrester’s latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to have saved on your computer.
  • Search using social media. Believe it or not, social networks make great company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you’re pursuing. Then, under “More,” select “Companies” to narrow your results to just the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.

Identifying Content Competitors

Search engines are your best friends in this area of secondary market research. To find the online publications with which you compete, take the overarching industry term you identified in the section above, and come up with a handful of more specific industry terms your company identifies with.

A catering business, for example, might generally be a “food service” company, but also consider itself a vendor in “event catering,” “cake catering,” “baked goods,” and more.

Once you have this list, do the following:

  • Google it. Don’t underestimate the value in seeing which websites come up when you run a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company. You might find a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and more.
  • Compare your search results against your buyer persona. Remember the buyer persona you created during the primary research stage, earlier in this article? Use it to examine how likely a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the content the website publishes seems like the stuff your buyer persona would want to see, it’s a potential competitor, and should be added to your list of competitors.

After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up. Examine the first two or three results pages for each search you conducted. These websites are clearly respected for the content they create in your industry, and should be watched carefully as you build your own library of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

6. Summarize your findings.

Feeling overwhelmed by the notes you took? We suggest looking for common themes that will help you tell a story and create a list of action items.

To make the process easier, try using your favorite presentation software to make a report, as it will make it easy to add in quotes, diagrams, or call clips. Feel free to add your own flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

  • Background. Your goals and why you conducted this study.
  • Participants. Who you talked to. A table works well so you can break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
  • Executive Summary. What were the most interesting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
  • Awareness. Describe the common triggers that lead someone to enter into an evaluation. Note: Quotes can be very powerful.
  • Consideration. Provide the main themes you uncovered, as well as the detailed sources buyers use when conducting their evaluation.
  • Decision. Paint the picture of how a decision is really made by including the people at the center of influence and any product features or information that can make or break a deal.
  • Action Plan. Your analysis probably uncovered a few campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and/or more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, a timeline, and the impact it will have on your business.

Conducting market research can be a very eye-opening experience. Even if you think you know your buyers pretty well, completing the study will likely uncover new channels and messaging tips to help improve your interactions.

Not to mention, you’ll be able to add “market research” as a skill to your resume.

market research

How to Create a High-Converting Signup Form for Your Landing Pages

Leads onlineYou’ve incorporated signup forms on your landing page as part of your digital marketing strategy, but they simply aren’t doing the trick. How do you get people to actually fill out the forms that you’re putting in front of them? Although it seems simple (it’s just a couple of form fields, right? Why is this so complicated?), there is an art to creating a high-converting signup form that increases the number of conversions you see.

Next time you’re putting together a landing page for your upcoming ad campaign or lead magnet, take more time to focus on your signup form. Instead of using the generic form that your email marketing platform or landing page software creates for you, make some tweaks.

Here are a few tips for your next signup form to help increase the number of signups your company gets.

1. Stick to one column.

Although you might think it makes it look more concise and smaller on your page, breaking your contact form up into columns can deter people instead of drawing them in. When you place things into multiple columns, it can be easier for a user to miss fields, which can be frustrating, especially if they’re required form fields.

You want the experience to be user-friendly above all else, and there’s nothing more annoying than having to go back and fill out a form more than once. If that’s the case, you’re definitely going to lose some potential leads that would rather exit the page than have to deal with completing your form again.

To prevent that from happening, it’s better to just keep everything in a single column, unless the fields correspond with each other (i.e., first name and last name fields can go side-by-side and remain cohesive).

2. Keep it short and simple.

Don’t create a signup form on your landing page that has twelve different fields to fill out before a customer can even get in contact with your or download a lead magnet. You don’t want to make it difficult to get in touch with your business. Instead, stick to the minimum amount of fields possible for that stage of the sales funnel.

If you’re creating a landing page for a lead magnet, you shouldn’t need much more than name and email address. If you’re creating a form for your contact page, ask for the minimum amount of information you need in order to close a sale. Anything else you need, you can get from your email marketing, prospecting, and sales emails.

Leads online3. Make the offer clear and obvious.

Why is someone signing up in the first place? If you don’t make that immediately apparent to a website visitor, he or she is probably not going to fill out your signup form. 

If you’re making your website visitors search for information about your email list, lead magnet, or reason to contact you or your business, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Instead, place all relevant information about your business, newsletter, lead magnet, and more front and center so that every person who lands on the page immediately knows what he or she is going to get by filling out your form.

4. Include visual aids.

If you’ve created a signup form to receive a lead magnet, freebie, or another automatic email with information upon signup, use visual aids to improve your landing page and form conversions even more. Add a photo or video content that illustrates what the user will receive.

Including photos or video of yourself or your team is a great way to get personable with your audience and give them a face for your company. Share screenshots or mockups of the content they receive by signing up as well. There’s nothing more compelling than actually getting a teaser look at something in which a website visitor might be interested. It makes them even more likely to complete the signup form so that they can see the entire freebie for themselves.

5. Incorporate minimalistic design.

Try to keep the design of the signup form as minimalistic and modern as possible. You want the overall design to be visually appealing so that it draws your website visitors in. Ditch those beveled Submit buttons and old-school form field designs.

Instead, incorporate minimalistic design into your signup form so that it matches your website and doesn’t seem out of place. You can use third-party plugins to design visually appealing signup forms, or you can embed forms without any formatting or design from the email marketing platform so that it will take on the design of your website.

This helps to keep everything cohesive so that nothing stands out like a sore thumb. Incorporating minimalistic and modern design into your website, landing pages, and signup forms helps your business to be viewed as relevant, up-to-date, and trustworthy.

6. Get creative with your call to action.

No one wants to click a boring old “Submit” button anymore. It’s time to use your business’s personality and get creative with your call to action.

By playing to exactly what users get by signing up, you can be playful and imaginative when it comes to the sign-up button. If you’re offering a freebie or lead magnet upon sign up, you can switch up the button to say something fun like “Gimme” or “I need this.” If you’re offering a free consultation, change the submit text to something like “Call me for free.”

Of course, depending on your industry and clients, you may need to exercise a bit of caution regarding your calls to action. With a little forethought, though, you can incorporate some flair into your CTAs that will encourage your web visitors to click and engage with your content offer.

Looking for more information about improving your overall conversion rates and lead generation strategies? Contact us; we’d love to help!

 

How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2019

google revenue

Digital marketing is going to change drastically in 2019. And sadly, you aren’t going to like a lot of the changes.

And no, I don’t mean change from a competition standpoint. You already know that each year marketing gets more expensive and more competitive. That’s just a given.

Just look at the graph above: that’s Google’s annual revenue. As you can see, during the last recession, Google made more and more money. They didn’t even have a down year.

One of the big reasons we are seeing digital marketing change so much is because of the adoption of new technologies. But also because the web is getting saturated… there are 1,805,260,010 websites on the web.

That means there is 1 website for every 4 people in this world. That’s crazy!

So, let’s dive into it… here’s how digital marketing is going to change this year.

Drastic Change #1: SEO won’t look the same

I’m starting with this one because I know you are going to hate this. SEO is moving to voice search.

In 2018, 2 out of every 5 adults used voice search once per day. But in 2020, 50% of all searches will be done through voice search according to ComScore.

And it won’t just be people speaking into their microphone on their cell phone or laptop, 30% of web browsing won’t even take place on a device with a screen. That means more people will be searching through devices like Google Home or Alexa.

I know you don’t like this because every time I blog about voice search, no one really reads the article. It’s one of those topics that SEOs just wish didn’t exist.

Why?

Well, being on page 1 doesn’t matter when it comes to voice search. Either Google pulls from your website or they don’t.

And secondly, conversions from voice search will be lower because people won’t be going to your website. Google will just be giving them the answer. At least, until we can figure out how to solve this as marketers.

But instead of looking at voice search as a bad thing, just think of it this way, no one cares to read articles about it, which means most SEOs won’t be prepared for it.

This is your chance to get ahead of your competition and gobble up that traffic before the market shifts into using voice.

Here are some articles that will teach you how to maximize your voice search traffic:

Drastic Change #2: Expect algorithm updates to be more complex

According to the Moz algorithm changelog, there were 12 updates in 2018.

Although it sounds like a lot, it isn’t. In 2017 there were 13 updates and in 2016 there were 11. In other words, Google has been averaging 12 updates per year if you combined the confirmed updates with the “unconfirmed” ones.

But let’s look at the older updates…

On July 17, 2015, Google released Panda 4.2. I know you may have hated the Panda update, but it wasn’t too bad. All Google did doing was get rid of spammy sites with low-quality content.

They didn’t want to rank sites that had thousands of 300-word blog posts with duplicate content.

Could you blame them for that?

And what about the change Google made on September 27, 2016, the Penguin 4.0 update?

If you built spammy links, they no longer would just penalize you, in most cases, they would devalue those links instead.

That means if you did something shady like buy a ton of backlinks and get caught, those links would just be de-valued instead of causing your whole site to get banned.

Now if you look at the latest algorithm updates, they are getting more complex and harder to beat. And it’s because technology is evolving so fast.

Google no longer has to just look at metrics like content and backlink count to figure out if a site ranks well. They can look at user metrics, such as:

  • Are users spending more time on your site than the other ranked sites on Google?
  • Are people bouncing off your site and heading back to the Google listing page?
  • Are your brand queries increasing over time? Or do people not see you as a brand?
  • Do people find your site more appealing… in other words, is your click-through-rate higher?

If you want to beat Google, you have to shift your mindset. It’s not about understanding Google, it’s about understanding users.

Google has one goal: to rank sites that users love the most at the top. That causes people to come back, keep using Google, and increase their overall revenue.

If you can put yourself in your users’ shoes, you’ll be better suited to do that.

The first step in doing this is to realize that when someone performs a search for any keyword, they aren’t just “performing a search,” they are looking for a solution to their problem.

By understanding the intent of their search, you’ll be more likely and able to solve their problems. You can use tools like Ubersuggest to help you with it as it will show you long tail phrases (problems people are trying to solve for).

Once you do that, you’ll be able to create the best experience, the best product, or even service that people deserve.

This is how you make your site continually rank well in the long run even as they make their algorithm more complex.

Drastic Change #3: You can’t build a company off of 1 channel

You familiar with Dropbox?

Of course, you are, it’s a multi-billion-dollar company… and you probably have it installed on your computer.

When they first came out, they tried to acquire users through Google AdWords. Can you guess how much it cost them to acquire a customer?

It ranged between $200 and $300.

Do you know how much Dropbox costs?

$60 a year.

The math doesn’t work out. Why would you spend $200 to acquire a user who only pays $60?

Even when someone pays you $60, it’s not all profit. Because of that, Dropbox had to grow using growth hacking.

dropbox flow

Dropbox gives you more free space the more users you invite. That’s a great example of growth hacking. And it’s how they grew into a multi-billion-dollar company.

Nowadays, if you created a similar invite flow within your company, it won’t work that well. You can no longer build a company using one channel like how Dropbox grew.

And do you remember how Facebook grew?

When you signed up, they would tap into your email address book and send out an email to every single one of your contacts inviting them to use Facebook, even if you didn’t want them to.

facebookfriends

That one channel helped Facebook grow into the multi-hundred-billion-dollar company that we know today.

Nowadays, if you get an email saying your friend is inviting you to join a new site or social network, you’ll probably just ignore it.

Again, you no longer can build a big business leveraging only one marketing channel.

So, what does that mean for you?

First of all, popular marketing channels that are profitable get saturated fast and you are going to have a lot of competitors.

Due to that, you have to leverage all channels. From content marketing and paid ads to social media marketing and SEO to email marketing… you have to leverage all channels out there.

It’s your only option to doing well in the long run.

One channel won’t make your business anymore. But if you combine them all, you can still grow your business.

And hey, if something happens to one channel like an algorithm change, at least your business won’t go down too much because you are diversified.

No matter how much you love one form of marketing, never rely on it. Adopt an omnichannel approach.

Drastic Change #4: Blogging won’t work too well

I got into this a little bit at the top… the web is saturated. There are just way too many sites.

Sure, most of those 1.8 billion sites aren’t being updated and a lot are dormant.

Now out of those 1.8 billion sites, roughly 1 billion of them are blogs. That’s roughly 1 blog for every 7 people out there.

When I started my first blog in 2005, there weren’t as many people online creating sites or producing content. There also weren’t as many people using Google.

Nevertheless, Google loved content. Everyone was saying how content is king because if you produce high-quality articles Google would rank them due to one simple fact… they lacked content in their index.

But as time went by, Google no longer had a shortage of content. I would even go as far to say that there is too much content for them to choose from.

For that reason, they can be pickier if they want to rank your website or not. It’s not just about backlinks or optimizing your on-page code, it’s about providing what’s best for the end user.

That means Google is going to rank fresh content that isn’t regurgitated.

If you want to take the route of just writing dozens of articles each way and trying to rank for everything under the sun, you can. It’s still possible, but it will take more time and it will be harder as there is more competition.

More so, the way content marketing is changing in 2019, and we saw a little of this in 2018, is that you need to update your content.

No longer can your strategy be to write a lot of content. You are going to have to plan on updating your content on a regular basis.

For example, I have one person who works for me full time going through my old blog posts to update them. Also, I now only have time to write once piece of content each week. There is no way I can go through my blog and update over a thousand blog posts.

You’re going to have to do the same if you want to maintain your search traffic. If you are established and have an old blog, spend half your time updating your old content. If you are a new blog, you don’t really need to spend more than 5% of your time updating your old content.

Drastic Change #5: You’ll need to focus on new search engines and new content types

We can all agree that text-based content is saturated.

If you don’t agree with me, just scroll back up to Drastic Change #4 😉

We all know it takes forever to rank on Google. If you aren’t willing to give it a year, you shouldn’t spend much time doing traditional SEO.

What if I told you there was another form of SEO in which you can see results very, very fast?

So fast, that within 30 days (or even a few days!) you can rank at the top. And, better yet, those rankings mean you will get traffic.

Just look at my search traffic from this different kind of search engine:

youtube search

Can you guess that what search engine this is?

YouTube!

I generate 198,380 views every month from YouTube search. And those people watch my content for an average of 559,237 minutes a month.

I’m generating over 388 days of watch time each month just from YouTube search. That’s crazy!

YouTube isn’t nearly as competitive as Google. Nor is optimizing for the iTunes store if you have a podcast.

Don’t just focus your efforts on Google.

Focus your efforts on less-saturated forms of content like video and audio while optimizing for less common search engines like YouTube and iTunes.

Plus, these new channels have a very lucrative audience as they are engaged. Did you know that 45% of podcast listeners have a household income of $75,000 or more?

Here are some articles that’ll help you out:

If you don’t have a big marketing budget no worries. These channels aren’t as expensive or competitive yet. You also don’t need a studio to film or record. You can just bust out your iPhone and start recording yourself.

Believe it or not, a lot of people prefer that over studio quality content as it is more authentic.

Drastic Change #6: Budgets will start shifting into conversion rate optimization

At the beginning of this post, I broke down Google’s yearly revenue.

As you can see it has continually increased even during recessionary periods.

Sure, some of it has to do with more people coming online. But also, the cost per click is rising.

Same with Facebook Ads. I literally know hundreds of affiliates who used to make over a million dollars a year in income because Facebook Ads were so affordable.

But in June/July 2017, Facebook crossed a point where they had more advertisers than inventory… at least in the United States.

Over time, that trend continued into other countries, which mean Facebook Ad costs drastically increased.

Just look at the graph below. As you can see, companies spend the majority of their budget on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.

marketing by spend

Now let’s look at what channel produces the highest ROI. Can you guess what it is?

marketing roi

SEO, right?

Although the chart shows SEO produces the biggest ROI, in reality, it is the second runner up.

What’s hard to see because it is classified as “other” in the chart and it is grouped with other marketing channels, is conversion rate optimization. And that channel produced the biggest ROI by far. It beat SEO by leaps and bounds.

It was just hard to see that because not enough companies spend money on conversion rate optimization. And when they do, it is a very small portion of their budget.

In 2019, start running A/B tests. Whether you use Crazy Egg or any other solution out there, don’t forget to include it in your marketing arsenal.

Drastic Change #7: Marketers will learn what funnels are

You may have heard of marketing funnels or sales funnels, but I bet you aren’t using them.

And no, a funnel isn’t something as simple an email sequence.

Because ads are getting more expensive, you’ll find yourself doing things like running more A/B tests (as I mentioned above), but it will only help so much.

As your competition also starts running A/B tests, you’ll find that ad prices will go up again.

So, what should you do?

You are going to have to upsell and downsell your visitors. I learned this tactic from Ryan Deiss years ago and he was spot on.

The best way to generate revenue isn’t to get more customers, it’s to get more money out of your existing customers.

Sure, your customer base is only going to spend so much. But if you offer upsells and downsells you can see increases in revenue from 10% to 30%. And some cases you’ll even double your revenue.

The key points with upselling and downselling are as follows:

  1. Offer at least 2 or 3 upsells (or downsells).
  2. If people don’t take the offer, considering offering the same offer again with monthly installments.
  3. The best offers are speed and automation. In other words, if you can help people get results faster or in an automated way, they are much more likely to take it. People are lazy and impatient, hence speed and automation always win when it comes to upsells.

At this point you are probably wondering how to do all of this upselling or downselling, right?

You have to build a marketing funnel. The good news is, you don’t have to hire a developer, you can use solutions like Click Funnels and Samcart.

They are easy to use, and you can get started in minutes.

Conclusion

Expect 2019 to be a crazy year. What worked once, won’t work in 2019.

Technology is more sophisticated and with things like machine learning and artificial intelligence knocking at the door, we are going to be on a crazy rollercoaster.

Don’t be afraid, though!

If you take the concepts above and start working on them now, you are going to be in for a much smoother ride with fewer downs and more ups.

So what do you think is going to change in 2019?

The post How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2019 appeared first on Neil Patel.

Forms Aren’t Dead: The State of Email Lead Capture in 2019

Email lead capture is the process marketers use to collect information from their website visitors. Typically, this is done through a traditional web form, although you can also capture leads through popups, chatbots, live chat, quizzes, surveys, and more.

Despite the process being fairly straightforward, our strategies often fluctuate in how we accomplish lead capture. Similarly, the results we achieve can vary quite a bit, too.

Unfortunately, the diversity of lead capture strategies, tools, and results can make it difficult to know precisely which process you should follow with your own marketing team — which is why we decided to conduct a survey.

We wanted to see, in 2019, what tools marketers are using for lead capture, what strategies they are using to optimize their efforts, and what kind of results and conversion rates people are seeing.

To ensure you’re able to optimize your lead capture strategy in 2019, keep reading.

Click here to learn how to write effective email subject line with the help of  100 examples from real brands and businesses.

Survey Methodology and Respondent Data

Any survey you conduct is limited by the sample you can reach. In our case, we received 173 valid survey responses. We filtered for marketers working full-time on lead capture and lead generation. Here are some quick statistics about our sample.

A large percentage of our respondents work at small businesses, with roughly 33% reporting less than 50 employees, although the distribution evens out among the other responses:

Additionally, a good chunk of our respondents (24%) work in advertising and marketing, but the rest is fairly diverse and split evenly between other industries.

Everyone in our sample works full-time and said they were “very” or at least “somewhat” involved in lead generation and lead capture efforts at their companies.

As with any research you conduct, there are some limitations with our dataset, as well. We’ll cover sample limitation and quirks later in this article.

Key Lead Capture Statistics and Findings

Here’s a quick overview of the most interesting statistics we learned about lead capture in 2019:

  • Forms aren’t dead. 74% of marketers are using web forms for lead generation, and 49.7% of marketers say that web forms are their highest converting lead generation tool.
  • Chatbots still have low adoption, but still, 17% of marketers are using chatbots today. However, only 6.5% say its their highest converting lead capture tool.
  • The average length of a web form in 2019 is about 5 form fields. Because contexts vary so wildly, this is neither good nor bad, though we have seen in consistent studies that fewer form fields usually result in higher conversion rates.
  • Conversion rates are highly variable and contextual. Reported conversion rates varied consistently across reported categories, but the mean conversion rate from our study is 21.5% (*read more below about the limitations with our reported conversion rates).
  • Data-driven marketers are outpacing everyone. Running A/B tests, using form analytics, and running user tests are all correlated with higher form conversion rates and satisfaction with lead generation efforts.
  • Multi-step forms convert 86% higher. Only 40% of marketers use them, but those that do report 17% higher satisfaction rates with their lead generation efforts, and their self reported conversion rates are 86% higher.
  • Only half of marketers use “lead magnets” to capture email addresses. Marketers who use lead magnets, or downloadable resources after a website visitor shares their email address, report marginally higher satisfaction rates and conversion rates than those who do not use lead magnets.
  • Ebooks are the most popular lead magnet, with 27.7% of marketers using them. However, 24.9% are using webinars and almost as many (21.3%) are using free tools to get email addresses.
  • The average Ebook length is between 5k and 10k words. Barely anyone writes an Ebook that is larger than 10,000 words, and the most common length is between 5,000 and 10,000 words.
  • Marketers overemphasize on total lead volume and not enough on lead quality. It’s reported that only 56.4% of marketers have a lead qualification strategy, and only 39.5% are using any sort of predictive lead scoring. It appears we overemphasize on volume on leads without considering the quality of each lead.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s explore a few of these statistics more in-depth.

Takeaway #1: Forms aren’t dead.

Online forms are the most commonly used type of lead capture tool, with 74% of respondents reporting they use them.

Screen Shot 2019-01-14 at 3.42.49 PM

Half of our respondents reported forms gave them the highest conversion rates, making online forms the highest-converting lead capture tool for marketers.

Takeaway #2: Chatbots still have comparatively low adoption.

Many marketers report using more than one type of lead capture tool, but roughly 40% report only using one tool. And, while 37% of respondents use live chat, only 17% use a chatbot.

Additionally, only 7% of respondents said chatbots were their highest converting tool. By comparison, around 13% reported live chat or quizzes/surveys being the most effective tool.

It would appear from this data that, despite hype and trends, the old school web form is still alive and well for marketers.

Takeaway #3: The average length of a web form in 2019 is about 5 form fields.

Forms are popular and pretty well loved in 2019, but what does the average form look like?

For starters, we found that marketers use, on average, 4.92 form fields on their forms (with five being the most popular answer). The number of form fields mostly resembles a normal distribution that centers around five, although there is a small spike of marketers who use more than 10 form fields.

Takeaway #4: Conversion rates are highly variable and contextual.

Average conversion rates are pretty varied, with a pretty stable distribution of reported conversion rates. Very few people report conversion rates in the 51-100% bucket.

This is one piece of data we need to take with a grain of salt, as with any self-reported KPI or metric. We don’t know exactly how our respondents define a conversion, how they measure conversion rates, or what their offers are, so we lack a lot of context.

Still, when we couple our conversion rate data with our data on self-reported satisfaction rates, we start to see interesting patterns.

First, take a look at our aggregated satisfaction rates:

Screen Shot 2019-01-14 at 3.46.47 PM

Very few people (8%) are dissatisfied with their lead generation efforts, but only 12% report being very satisfied.

It also gets interesting when you examine these answers in conjunction with others. For instance, we found that those who are most satisfied with their lead generation efforts are those who use chatbots and report chatbots as their top converting lead capture tool.

Takeaway #5: Data-driven marketers are outpacing everyone.

Generally speaking, marketers who use methods to improve the customer experience, and specifically those who are using data to drive experiences, are outperforming those who don’t.

For instance, marketers who run A/B tests on their forms tend to be more satisfied than those who don’t, and they also report roughly 10% higher conversion rates than those who don’t run A/B tests.

Following the trend, those who use form analytics report 15% higher satisfaction with their lead generation efforts and 19% higher conversion rates.

But what about user testing? A user test is a type of usability test in which you have users run through your website and attempt a task, and analyze their ability to do so.

Most people are running between one and five per year, but a full 36% never run user tests on their forms.

Again, we found that people who run user tests are more satisfied with their lead generation programs than those who don’t, and that the satisfaction rating increases as the number of user tests rises.

This is a big area of opportunity. Combined with a form analytics tool like Formisimo, you can learn a lot about user behavior from occasionally running user tests. To learn more about form optimization in general, check out this CXL Institute course.

Takeaway #6: Multi-step forms convert 86% higher.

Only 39% of marketers report using multi-step forms. Those who do, however, report 17% higher satisfaction rates with their lead generation efforts, and their self reported conversion rates are 86% higher (16.05% for those who don’t use multi-step, and 29.76% for those who do).

A small majority of marketers report using lead magnets in their campaigns, but 40% report not using them at all.

Takeaway #7: Only half of marketers use “lead magnets” to capture email addresses.

A lead magnet is simply something of value you give in exchange for a visitor’s contact information.

We found that a small majority of marketers use lead magnets to capture emails, but a full 40% don’t use them (and roughly 10% don’t know if they are or aren’t).

Creating a relevant and valuable lead magnet is one of the most effective ways to increase conversion rates on lead capture forms. If you’re not doing this, it might be time to consider trying it out.

Takeaway #8: Ebooks are the most popular lead magnet.

If you’re wondering what type of lead magnets people generally use, Ebooks lead the way — but webinars, checklists, and free tools are close behind.

Other answers included “Qualifying email lists”, “Rewards”, “Customized vehicle brochure”, and “Property information”, meaning it’s largely made up of industry-specific offers that are related to the product or service in question.

Takeaway #9: The average Ebook length is between 5k and 10k words.

Very few marketers create Ebooks with greater than 10,000 words, and most fall within the area of 5,000-10,000 words long.

Takeaway #10: Marketers overemphasize on total lead volume and not enough on lead quality.

Collecting a lead is a small part of the overall process. It’s important, of course, but you also need to worry about where you’re storing the data, and how you’re qualifying and nurturing leads.

Most marketers use more than one tool to store their leads — something that definitely jives with my personal experience.

Because we’re often using a myriad of tools for our marketing efforts, we need to store leads in many places and integrate many systems together to build a coherent system.

Specifically, we found that the most common tool for lead storage is a CRM, with 57% of marketers reporting using one. 48.8% report using an email marketing tool for storage, and 43.6% report using spreadsheets.

Of course, capturing leads is just one step of the process. What we do with them matters as well, as the end goal isn’t just to store them in a CRM or an email tool, but to turn them into customers. Part of this approach is qualifying leads and reacting appropriately based on their quality.

Do marketers normally have a strategy for lead qualification? It appears that, yes, this is the norm, with 56.4% of marketers saying they do have a documented lead qualification process. However, that leaves 34.9% with no documented process.

This is important because, as you would logically suppose, those who have a documented lead qualification process report 21.4% higher satisfaction ratings with their lead generation efforts.

While 39.5% of marketers are using predictive lead scoring in their marketing strategy, roughly half of marketers (48.8%) are not (and 11.6% don’t know if they are or not).

Limitations and Quirks With Our Data

As with any collection of data, you need to question its quality thoroughly. Especially with surveys and self-reported data, the nature of the questions can affect the output of answers. In our case, we can draw a lot of valid insights about lead generation and marketing in 2019, but we need to be careful about generalizing some of it.

The big question we need to consider is the “average conversion rate” of lead capture forms.

Naturally, this depends on how you calculate conversion rates, where your web form is, what your offer is, etc. For instance, the conversion rate of an offer for a free tool that is only seen by targeted paid traffic and only has an email address field is entirely different than a pop-up form that everyone on an ecommerce site sees.

Ultimately, conversion rates are wildly contextual.

How people calculate conversion rates is also different. Do you calculate by those who see your form, those who count as a page view (despite not scrolling to the form), or those who start filling out the form but never finish?

None of this is straightforward, so it can be tough to generalize findings about this metric.

As evidence for this quirkiness, look at this chart:

Our respondents seem to get better and better conversion rates the more form fields they use. While this is possible, it’s incredibly unlikely, at least when all other variables are controlled for. Almost all historical research has shown that increasing the number of form fields has an inverse effect on conversion rates (although not all studies have shown that).

That’s not to say the data is inherently untrustworthy. Just take any “average conversion rate” data with a grain of salt!

Additionally, we believe our sample is quite representative, as it had been filtered to include only those who work full-time on lead generation and lead capture efforts. But a greater sample would have been desirable. There is a lot of nuance — in industries, company size, etc. — that we couldn’t dive into because our sample size was only 173.

Looking to the Future

The process of capturing email leads is a huge part of inbound marketing. Parts of it change over time, such as the lead capture tools we use and the specific tactics around lead magnets, form optimization, and lead scoring and storage.

However, much remains the same, such as the core ideas of crafting relevant offers and building a lead capture tool with as little friction as possible.

It appears from this survey that less has changed than one would expect. Despite new “conversational” tools like live chat and chatbots, most people still use forms, and most people still entice visitors with Ebooks and webinars.

To no one’s surprise, those who run A/B tests, conduct user tests, and use form analytics, are more successful than those who don’t.

It will be interesting to see how things change in the next few years, as inbound marketing channels become more crowded and lead capture tools get “smarter” and more interactive.

Will we still be writing 7,500 word Ebooks in exchange for five form fields’ worth of information?

That’s where we stand today. Where will we be next year?

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