Daniel Burstein

Ask MarketingSherpa: Getting approval for your marketing ideas from your company’s business leadership or from clients

July 7th, 2021
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of these conversations here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Daniel, I’m wondering if I can share a thought from a conversation with a digital marketing “expert” I had today….

Theory:

If almost all ads/campaigns/approaches are likely to have weak VPs (value propositions) and non-compelling CTAs (calls to action), would an alternate approach to marketing knowledge delivery be to identify the most-likely-to-produce mediocre-result approaches. Would that have more affect on marketing performance than to rely on the main perception that MECLABS tries to get across based on fundamentals?

My thought is that no matter how hard a real marketer tries to use fundamentals, ultimately the decision makers, who will never understand the basics, will oppose the approach in favor of a futile effort that’s proven over and over not to work?

Here is how you do it properly

Vs

Based on your lousy approach you seem to want to defend with all your heart, it would be best to waste less by tackling your goal this way.

Thoughts?

Dear Reader: I sense some frustration with getting a client on board? Or working with business decision makers to prioritize your marketing spend?

Ultimately, whoever writes the check makes the decision. And the best we can do is hope to influence it in as positive a direction as possible. I assume this is very similar to other industries, like government for example.

So yes, unless we are the final decision maker, the marketing we produce will never be flawless and perfect. But our job is to take something that is say, 20% good, and shift it to 50% good. That’s not 100%, but it is better than 0.

As Confucius said: “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to just let it slide. The typical brainstorming technique of pretending there are no bad ideas actually isn’t helpful. (It’s called regression to the mean, says Harvard Business Review).

As a marketer, you must be the voice of the customer and an advocate for the audience. Without quality internal marketing, the world gets ideas like Zippo perfume. And no, I’m not making that idea up. You can read about it this New York Times article: Brands Expand Into New Niches With Care, but Not Without Risk.

Here are five tactics to help you win the yes for your next marketing strategy…

This requires a value proposition

It is internal marketing essentially. Don’t overlook the importance of this task. Like anything worth doing, it requires an investment of your time and attention. I was talking to a channel marketing manager at a Fortune 500 tech company, when something she said really stuck out to me. She was working on a major lead nurturing campaign, and about half her time spent on this project was spent on selling the project internally (from Internal Marketing: The 3 people you must sell to in your own office).

You need a prospect-level value proposition for each type of decision maker involved, as well as a process-level value proposition for the action itself.

We built this tool to help our readers – Free Template to Help You Win Approval for Proposed Projects, Campaigns and Ideas.

And this free template as well – How to Sell Your Marketing and Advertising Ideas to Your Boss and Clients (with free template)

Testing can help

Sometimes you need straight-up data to prove the mettle of your idea. A/B testing is one way to get that data.

You could say something along the lines of, “OK, let’s try it your way, try it my way, and let the customer decide.”

We actually had a great example of this happen internally in our own organization – Headline Writing: How a junior marketer beat the CEO’s headline by 92%

Educate about new technology

Sometimes the pushback you’re getting is because the decision maker just doesn’t understand the technology involved.

Educate execs on the latest technology and why their pushback to your ideas might not make sense. Let them see the flaws in their logic for themselves. For example, MECLABS (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) created a free mobile optimization course to help marketers understand what considerations they should take for conversion optimization and messaging specifically in a mobile environment.

Collaborate

Never look at it as a Me vs. You battle.

Give the decision makers you work with the benefit of the doubt – they probably want the same thing you do. Business results. And happy customers.

They just may not have spent as much time focused on the project or objective as you. They have other concerns.

Try to get some of their time for a value proposition workshop to build the fundamentals of your marketing together. Or at least get a meeting to present a competitive analysis.

Good intentioned, capable people may still come up with different conclusions. But after taking the journey together, you will better be able to understand their reasoning and they are more likely to understand why you are suggesting the approach you have chosen.

Help them feel the customer experience

“Wouldn’t GM executives learn more about the problems that customers face, [exec William Hoglund] was asked, if they had to drive used cars and deal with repair problems like everyone else,” James Risen wrote in the LA Times.

You may have a disconnect with a decision maker because they are too far removed from the customer experience.

In that case, before even presenting your ideas, share some form of the customer experience with them.

I was encouraged to see this line from Gabriel T. Rubin in The Wall Street Journal recently, “GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan and Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota swap footwear on Capitol steps to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.’”

A bit tongue-in-cheek of course. But if national leaders are willing to try it out, our business decision makers can as well.

If you can’t literally put them in your customer’s shoes, at least start your pitch meeting with a few slides that clearly illustrate how customers’ experience the brand’s product or services. Direct feedback from customers – say, from customer reviews or ratings – can really illuminate executives. Just make sure the reviews accurately represent a major set of customers and are not an outlier.

Reader, you are far from the only one with this struggle. I find we marketers are often better marketing externally than internally. Best of luck in getting approval for your ideas.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Thanks so much for this. Everything you say resonates and validates.

I find your mention of this very interesting: “But our job is to take something that is say, 20% good, and shift it to 50% good. That’s not 100%, but it is better than 0.”

It may support my original thought that the problem I’ve been trying to solve is not actually an accurate understanding of the true problem.

“Marketing underperformance” may actually be a symptom of a problem, and this may be where my frustration comes from.

I feel I’ve been trying to solve underperformance by insisting that a fundamental principle approach is the only way (Man with a Hammer Syndrome).

I think if I adjusted my perception in a way that’s more aligned with the decision maker’s rationale, then I think I’ll find my way back to enjoying solving marketing problems without expectation that the engine has to be perfect from the foundation. This is a fool’s errand when working within an imperfect business landscape.

It may be a good approach for a building that has a problem, even though the logical choice is not to tear the building down…but instead shore it up in the areas that make the most sense according to the unique variables for that particular issue – building, budget, timeline, outcome, etc.

I really appreciate being able to dialog this stuff with someone who gets it.

Thanks again,

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

Related Resources

Five Tips From a Personal Care Industry CEO for Setting (and Getting Approval for) Your Marketing Budget

What are the most valuable marketing skills? (with free resources to improve those skills)

1,681 (and counting) free business and marketing case studies – Another great way to make your case for a marketing idea is by sharing a case study with decision makers

Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is (particular about) digital marketing?

June 30th, 2021
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

 

Marketing 101: What is (particular about) digital marketing?

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Digital marketing is the communication of value to a potential customer through their computer, tablet, smartphone or similar device to help that customer perceive the value of the product or service. The goal of digital marketing is to earn a “yes” (also known as a conversion) to the organization’s “ask” (also known as a call-to-action). That ask may be the ultimate conversion an organization seeks to achieve – often a sale – or an intermediate ask like signing up for an email list or joining a webinar. Copywriting and design are critical to this value communication.

Digital marketing, also known as online marketing, is often contrasted against traditional marketing, also known as offline marketing. While offline marketing has occurred since the dawn of humanity, it’s rise really occurred during the start of the era of mass production caused by industrialization and mass media. Marketers were needed to generate demand for this new, abundant supply.

Digital marketing’s rise has been driven by the mass adoption of the internet and the associated increase in the use of digital devices.

If you are searching for the definition of digital marketing, you likely want to understand this juxtaposition – in other words, what is particular about digital marketing as compared to traditional marketing. We’ll provide a few particular aspects, but first, some word usage examples.

Word usage examples

To put the term “digital marketing” in context, here are some examples of how we have used the term in our content:

And our very first mention of “digital marketing” on February 26, 2008 (there were earlier mentions of similar phrases like “internet marketing”) came in a job title:

“However, Mikael Blido, head of Digital Marketing, Sony Ericsson, knows that…” from How Sony Ericsson Markets (In)directly to Consumers: Secrets Behind Their Online Strategy

Now let’s look at what is particular about digital marketing as compared to traditional marketing.

A/B testing is cheaper, quicker and easier in digital marketing

Before the rise of digital marketing, traditional marketers could split test direct mail and other direct marketing. They would mail one marketing message to a randomly selected group of potential customers, another marketing message to another randomly selected group, and see which performs better.

They would have to print multiple versions, have multiple calls to action (for example, two phone numbers), wait weeks or longer for the results to come in, and manually tabulate the results.

Digital marketing allows inexpensive, quick, and easy testing on a variety of channels – digital advertising networks, social media advertising, email platforms, or on websites with the help of testing software.

Since testing can help marketers improve results by better understanding their customers, digital marketing can allow more marketers to understand more customers quicker.

When Gartner’s GetApp brand surveyed 238 leaders at startups and small businesses about marketing technology, respondents cited A/B testing as the most effective software tool in their toolkit – 62% found A/B testing tools very effective.

“A/B testing may take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of things you can discover business insights that help you increase conversions and—ultimately—your bottom line. Or, it may allow you to fail fast and move on,” said Amanda Kennedy, Senior Content Writer, GetApp.

Here are a few free resources you might find helpful if you’re looking for best practices for starting and/or measuring A/B tests for marketing experimentation:

A/B Testing in Digital Marketing: Example of four-step hypothesis framework

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Creating an A/B test

Unlock the Power of Your A/B Testing Program

Email Marketing Optimization: How you can create a testing environment to improve your email results

Get Your Free Test Discovery Tool to Help Log all the Results and Discoveries from Your Company’s Marketing Tests

Prioritize your marketing experiments with the Test Planning Scenario Tool

Digital marketing is less expensive in general

Not only is A/B testing less expensive in digital marketing versus offline marketing, pretty much everything digital is less expensive (well, everything except digital marketing salaries).

Email marketing is generally less expensive than direct mail. Video pre-roll ads are generally less expensive than TV commercials. And while rates are increasing as competition increases, online display ads are generally less expensive than print advertisements in newspapers and magazines.

Here are a few free resources if you need help with digital media buying and budgeting:

Reprioritize Your Marketing Spend and Transform Your Results: Learn a radical new framework

Advertising Chart: How digital ad placement strategy affects customer response

Marketing Budget Charts: B2B customer experience investments (plus 4 budgeting tips)

Advice From Three Digital Marketing Experts on Building Your Budget

It is easier to track the ROI of digital marketing

Department store owner John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

It is notoriously difficult to track the ROI (return on investment) of offline marketing. For example, you could put a coupon in a newspaper advertisement with a unique code and count how many times the coupon is redeemed (or even, the exact amount of sales the coupon and ad secured). But what about people who saw the ad and aren’t coupon clippers? Or even more complex, what about people who saw the ad, had a positive brand impression, and then your digital ad stuck out to them and they clicked and purchased? How can you know what role the newspaper ad played?

While there is certainly branding in digital marketing, most digital marketing has a clear and direct call-to-action, and marketers can track from a click on that call-to-action and see how customers performed throughout the funnel up to a purchase, helping them measure the ROI of the digital ad.

Still, ROI tracking is far from perfect in digital marketing as well. If your company has a long and complex sales funnel, you have to decide how to measure ROI. Should the ROI be credited to the initial ad they clicked on that got them to download a whitepaper and signup for your email list nine months ago? Or the email they clicked on today that lead them to finally purchase? Or a combination? (This general topic is known as marketing attribution, and first-touch, multi-touch, and last-touch attribution models specifically).

What about if a customer reads a review of a product on your review site, but doesn’t click the affiliate link? Perhaps they purchase your product in a physical store or simply go back to your ecommerce store later to purchase. Are you properly attributing revenue to the review site?

If you are interested in tracking the ROI of your digital marketing, here are some free resources that can help:

Marketing Attribution Chart: Data from more than 500,000 customer buying journeys

Marketing 101: What is lead attribution?

Improve Attribution: 8 Steps to Measure the Impact of Your Marketing Efforts

Ecommerce Research Chart: ROI on marketing spend

Social Media: 4 simple steps to calculate social media ROI

It is easier to reach the niche group of people who can be best served by your product

Marketers typically call this targeting. But who wants to be targeted? Targeting implies you are about to be attacked.

So let’s call it – reaching the people your brand can best serve. That might be a small niche. A giant group. Or an amalgamation of personas that together comprise a large group of people.

This is possible in offline marketing to some extent. If you only serve a particular city, you can buy an ad in the local newspaper. Or if you are looking for outdoor enthusiasts, you can advertise in Outdoor or Sierra magazine.

But digital marketing allows for a much deeper and more granular focus for your marketing messages. You can build your own email list of people who are interested in your product. You can host a sweepstakes and attract people who are interested in your giveaway prize (for example, a trip to an organic resort could attract people interested in buying organic milk). You can only serve up your advertising to people who take a certain action, such as search for a specific term or put a specific product in a shopping cart.

For example, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) was able to generate 2,555 leads from a $6,500 ad spend on Facebook by using specific parameters that focused the ads around a lookalike audience (people who had similar characteristics to BCAN’s current community) along with specific demographic parameters of people who are considered ‘at risk’ for bladder cancer diagnosis, such as firefighters and Vietnam veterans (you can read more in Quick Case Study #4 in Anti-Selfish Marketing Case Studies: 4 specific examples of focusing on what the customer gets).

This ability to reach a niche group of people may get harder and more expensive though. As customer privacy concerns increase, governments along with major corporations that make operating systems and devices are putting limits on tracking customer behavior.

If you are interested in reaching a specific group of people with your digital marketing, here are some free resources:

Online Behavioral Advertising: How to benefit from targeted ads in a world concerned with privacy

The Benefits of Combining Content Marketing and Segmentation

Email Segmentation: Finish Line’s automation initiative lifts email revenue 50%

How to Tailor Ads to Demographic-based Preferences & 5 Tips for Motivating Mature Consumers

Advertising Research Chart: Customer perception of what makes a travel ad effective, by age group

Email Marketing: Groupon’s segmentation strategies across 115 million subscribers

Local SEO: How geotargeting keywords brought 333% more revenue

You have many opportunities to learn about the customer

While it plays a role of some of the other aspects of digital marketing I’ve already discussed, data deserves its own distinct section as well.

With A/B testing, you are building an experiment to learn how specific changes you make affect customer behavior.

But even if you don’t build A/B tests, it’s almost impossible not to get some data from your digital marketing. Even better if you proactively set up your campaigns to record the data that will be most insightful about the customer.

With offline marketing, you may be able to collect data if a person responds to the ad. For example, if they send you the postcard you included in a magazine or call the phone number on your newspaper ad.

With digital marketing, the data is far more extensive. You can granularly track many behaviors customers taken, even how they scroll on your website or where they hover their mouse.

While we’re on the subject, data is a very buzz-y word that seems big and scary to the non-analytical marketer. It can be complex, for sure. However, data simply gives us an opportunity to better learn about and serve real human beings on the other side of the mouse – the people we call current and potential customers.

If you are interested in digital marketing data, here are some free resources:

The Data Pattern Analysis: 3 ways to turn info into insight

Digital Analytics: How to use data to tell your marketing story

Get Your Free Simplified MECLABS Institute Data Pattern Analysis Tool to Discover Opportunities to Increase Conversion

Digital marketing is less trusted

We’re on a roll discussing all of the bonafides of digital marketing, so I hate to be a Debbie Downer. But if we’re going to discuss what is particular about digital marketing…let’s be honest. At least one thing that is particular is negative.

Digital marketing is generally less trusted than traditional marketing.

We asked 1,200 consumers: “In general which type of advertising channels do you trust more when you want to make a purchase decision?” Prints ads ranked first, with 82% of Americans saying they trusted advertisements in newspapers and magazines when making a purchase decision. But it goes beyond just that one channel. All of the top six most trusted media were traditional, and all of the seven least trusted media were digital.

You can see the data for yourself in Marketing Chart: Which advertising channels consumers trust most and least when making purchases.

If you need help instilling trust in your digital marketing, here are some free resources:

Anxiety: Use privacy as a competitive advantage

The Marketer and Buyer Anxiety: Three ways to counter anxiety in the purchase funnel

The Importance of Building Trust: What 2,400 consumers say about trust in the conversion process

The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken?

Four Quick Case Studies of Anxiety-Reducing Marketing

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

If you are interested in digital marketing, you might also like…

B2C Marketing: 65% lift in organic traffic from in-house digital marketing transition

A Simple Guide for the Busy Marketer: Using data from online marketing and web analytics tools

Social Media Marketing: Doubleday combines geocaching and Facebook to boost sales 23% for John Grisham book

If you are interested in entry-level marketing content, you might also like…

Marketing 101: What is source/medium?

Marketing 101: What is PPC in marketing?

Marketing 101: What is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing: 53 articles (and 1 video) to help with onboarding

Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is a point-first headline?

May 28th, 2021
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

 

Marketing 101: What is a point-first headline?

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

 

A point-first headline is a headline that begins with the main point you are trying to make to the reader.

There are three types of sentences: point first, point middle, and point last.

 

Creative Sample #1: Illustration of point-sequenced grammar

Essentially, when you write a point-first headline, you are leading with the information that is most appealing and relevant to the reader. So placing the main point of value for the customer in the front of the sentence increases the probability it will be read and understood by potential customers. For this reason, the best-performing headlines are typically point first.

Writing a point-first headline is the equivalent of the inverted pyramid in journalism. Writing a story this way encourages the reporter to put the most newsworthy info first.

Another journalistic saying that is very applicable to a point-first headline is “Don’t bury the lede.” In other words, make sure the most newsworthy part of the story is front and center. For marketing, “most newsworthy” translates to “main point of value to the customer.”

 

A headline experiment

MECLABS Institute worked with a survey company to research which headlines would be most effective to recruit panelists to take surveys (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

The experiment tested a series of point-first and point-last headlines. Below you can see each headline along with its conversion rate. We’ve also underlined the main point in each headline.

Point-first headlines

  • Get Paid to Take FREE Surveys: 28.76% conversion rate
  • Here’s Your First Survey, and an Invitation to Join Our Research Community: 28.35%
  • Get Paid to Fill Out Online Surveys: 27.98%
  • Get Rewarded for Your Opinion: 27.92%
  • Surveys – Quick, Easy and FREE: 27.52%
  • Win Cash & Prizes for Online Surveys: 27.27%

Point-last headlines

  • Set Up Your FREE Account Today and Start Earning Money!: 27.35%
  • You’re Invited to Join the [Company Name] Community and to Earn Rewards For Your Opinions: 27.14%
  • Join the [Company Name] Community and Have Your Opinions Count: 26.92%
  • Take Online Surveys From Home and Win Cash & Prizes: 26.81%

As you can see, point-first headlines tended to outperform point-last headlines.

While no point-middle headlines were included in this experiment since they tend to underperform both point-first and point-last headlines, here are a few examples of what point-middle headlines for this landing page might look like.

Point-middle headlines

  • Sign up today and get paid to take free surveys
  • Take free surveys and get rewarded for your opinion
  • Share your opinions and win cash with online surveys

As these examples show, the main value to the customer is easier to overlook in a point-middle headline.

 

Page Templates That Work

The tendency for point-first headlines to outperform point-last and especially point-middle headlines (all else being equal) led MECLABS to recommend to marketers that you should test point-first headlines on your landing pages.

In the free resource Page Templates That Work: Improve conversions with these scientifically proven webpage templates, the templates advise marketers to use a “Point-first headline that clearly communicates the value of the page objective.”

 

Creative Sample #2: Excerpt from Page Templates That Work

Creative Sample #2: Excerpt from Page Templates That Work

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

 

If you are interested in point-first headlines, you might also like…

Copywriting: See immediate lifts by applying these 5 principles to your headlines

Headline Optimization: How testing 10 headlines revealed a 3-letter word that improved conversion more than major changes

Email Marketing: 3 letters to drive subject line success

 

If you are interested in entry-level marketing content, you might also like…

Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is a business elevator pitch?

May 13th, 2021
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

 

Marketing 101: What is a business elevator pitch?

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

An elevator pitch is a quick explanation of a value proposition for something you are trying to influence another person’s opinion on.

An elevator pitch (also called an elevator speech) can be for a company (to persuade investors), a product (to influence a purchase), a project (to get budget) or even a person (to get a job).

A key component of an elevator pitch is the quick, succinct summation of much more information – enough to change an opinion or elicit an action but not so much that you lose someone’s attention. An elevator pitch can be particularly important when you know you will only have a short amount of time with the person (say, at a networking event or running into the CEO in the hallway or in a literal elevator).

The term likely originates from the idea that one could run into a key decision maker in an elevator. If that happened, you need a prepared statement you can use during the few seconds you have with this decision maker during that elevator ride.

A forceful value proposition is key to an effective elevator pitch. According to MECLABS Institute’s methodology, there are four elements to a forceful value proposition – clarity, credibility, exclusivity, and appeal (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

“I must understand (clarity) so I can believe (credibility) that only you (exclusivity) have what I want (appeal),” said Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute.

Word usage examples

To put the term ‘elevator pitch’ in context, here are some examples of how we have used the term in our content.

Elevator pitch example

Steve Jobs delivered a famous elevator pitch to John Sculley in 1983 – “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Sculley was the president of Pepsi at the time. Jobs was starting to make something special happen with Apple. However, Jobs needed a CEO to run Apple so that he could focus on developing new products for the growing company. Sculley wasn’t convinced by Apple’s laid-back culture and politely rejected Jobs’ original offer until Jobs presented his famous elevator pitch.

“That abrupt but direct question says everything about how Apple tackles innovation and its products—and it led to Scully joining Apple,” said James Edge, Founder, Crush the USMLE.

“The pitch is brilliant because of its simplicity and unorthodox nature. Instead of following the traditional elevator pitch model, this one went straight to Sculley’s heart. The question hit him so hard that he eventually changed his mind and joined what would become one of the most impactful and profitable companies in the history of the world,” said Marc Lewis, General Manager and Executive Editor, Ecowatch.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

If you are interested in elevator pitches, you might also like…

An Effective Value Proposition: What it is, why it is so important to business and marketing success, and how to use it

7 Steps to Discovering Your Essential Value Proposition with Simple A/B Tests

Pivot Your Value Proposition: 6 ways brands, entrepreneurs and marketers are responding to COVID-19’s economic fallout

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Daniel Burstein

Ask MarketingSherpa: Homepage value proposition

February 10th, 2021
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Ask MarketingSherpa: Homepage value proposition

We frequently receive questions from our email newsletter subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of these conversations here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi Daniel. Hope you’re having a good week.

About 10 days ago I commented about a three-part study you posted on homepage redesigns on your Linkedin post.

I asked you for some extra resources, and you sent a few links that I reviewed.

If you don’t mind me asking a direct question, could you offer your two cents of feedback on this please?

Here’s the thing. My client is a SaaS Case Management platform, that wants a redesigned website. So we’ve started working, and at the outset, the deal is to make the homepage less techy and more business-oriented.

I’m working on the homepage value prop, and we discussed two options, both suggested by me:

Option 1: Manage Cases With Ease

Option 2: Manage More Cases With Less Stress.

The internal team is heavily leaning to Option 1 because it looks cleaner, and I’m pulling the other way because Option 2 identifies the wants and pains of the target audience better, and with more emotional impact.

I’d love to hear your two cents on the matter. When the homepage is competing with $50 million per year businesses, and the audience is the public sector and companies serving the public sector, how smart is the idea to use these more “emotions-oriented” taglines?

Igor Mateski
Founder/CEO
WebMaxFormance

Dear Reader: Hey Igor,

I can’t say which is the best value prop for the company. That takes a lot of work. If you haven’t already, I suggest conducting a value prop workshop with them. Here’s an example – B2B Value Proposition: How a tech startup used a value prop workshop to help prepare for a public offering (4 takeaways for your brand)

As to your question between the two options, your best bet is to test.

Personally, my off-the-cuff response (hope it doesn’t sound too harsh), they will both underperform because they have no credibility. I know you wouldn’t tell me “Manage Less Cases with More Stress” so why should I believe you if you told me “Manage More Cases with Less Stress?”

As for “emotions-oriented” – it can work. Remember, you’re not selling to companies or government agencies, you’re selling to people. If you’ve hit on the right emotion from them (and I don’t know them and can’t say if you have) it can be very effective, but again, it needs to be credible.

Hope that helps.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hmm…interesting point, about credibility. I didn’t turn over that rock. Obviously.

We haven’t had any interviews/planning with the client. They just asked that we redesign the site, and the deadline is New Year’s. So we’re cutting corners in plenty of places in order to make the deadline.

That being said, what do you suggest as a quick and easy way to add credibility to the value prop?

By the way, thank you for your comment. It’s quite helpful!

Dear Reader: Glad I could help, Igor. Quick and easy? That’s tough. I’d suggest get them on the phone, discuss the claim they like, and then you really have to challenge them. “OK, I believe you. But why should anyone else believe this? They’ll have three other tabs open with websites for your competitors. Why would they believe this line?”

Here are some specific elements that can help build credibility on the page – Credibility: 9 elements that help make your marketing claims more believable.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Thank you for the resources. I really appreciate this.

If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

You might also like…

MECLABS Institute Value Proposition Development on-demand certification course – Learn how to clearly communicate an effective value proposition based on a review of 1,100 academic articles and more than two decades of real-world experimentation

MarketingSherpa Quick Guide to Website Optimization PDF

Powerful Value Propositions: How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and Lift Your Results (Value Proposition Archives)

Daniel Burstein

Visualizing the Conversion Journey

November 12th, 2020
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Here is the great struggle in all human relationships.

Me with my wife. Your brand with your customer. Even me with you, dear reader.

I am not you.

I am not my wife. You are not your customer.

However, we tend to think other people are like us. This is known as false consensus effect. Overcoming this cognitive bias – and striving to break down this barrier – is key to successful human relationships.

And thus, it is key to successful marketing. The better you understand how to truly serve your customers, the more successful your marketing will be.

Here’s one way to break down the barriers between your marketing team and your customers.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

 

A purchase is a journey

“Why do you insist on visualizing the conversion journey?” This question came from an attendee of a group coaching session with Flint McGlaughlin about conducting a data pattern analysis.

Visualizing the conversion journey is one way to break down that artificial barrier between you and the customer.

If marketers work on a landing page, direct mail piece or print ad in isolation, they overlook the real way potential customers make decisions in the real world.

Other than an impulse purchase, there is usually a step before. Or after. Or both. Or several steps. These other elements of the customer journey affect the overall success rate of whatever piece of marketing collateral your team is currently working on.

Here’s a simple example. MVMT used to send emails that linked to a general collection of its watches. When the team changed its strategy to use the emails to drive potential customers to specific landing pages that tied tightly to the campaign in the emails, they increased conversion 44% (see more in How the World’s Fastest-growing Watch Brand Used Email to Grow Revenue 98%).

To get you thinking of ways to visualize your customers’ conversion journey for your marketing team, here are a few tips.

 

Don’t view data in isolation

In the free Simplified MECLABS Institute Data Pattern Analysis Tool, there is a place to add in the metrics for a funnel analysis. Of course. (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa)

 

 

However, just seeing webpage paths and conversion numbers is not the best way to try to get into the customer’s shoes. The customer does not experience the conversion journey like this.

So there is also a place in the tool to add in the actual screenshots of the funnel.

 

 

When using the tool, having the actual customer experience close at hand is a good reminder that conversion optimization is more than a numbers game. There are real people on the other sides of those numbers.

What does the world look like to them? The more you use data as a means to an end – to get closer to the human experience – the more you can leverage empathy in your marketing and increase conversion.

 

Immerse yourself in the customer experience

Many decisions that impact the customer are made in a meeting in a boardroom. The walls in that meeting room might be filled with generic art or company mission statements.

As a temporary way to bring the customer journey into that meeting – and set the right environment for your team to make customer-first decisions – print out each step of the customer journey and hang it on the walls of the meeting room as an oversize poster.

That’s what we do in a MECLABS Quick Win Intensive. Here’s an example:

 

 

We’ll even use markers or Post-It notes to write the metrics right on each step of the conversion journey, or mark each step with potential conversion optimization changes.

This approach makes sure the changes aren’t made in isolation, and the entire customer journey is front and center. Should you change a certain headline or call to action? Well, when you see what customers are experiencing in the previous or next steps, you get a better sense if the entire journey is smooth and seamless.

Here’s an example of a more permanent way to visualize the conversion journey. In the MECLABS building, we had a Customer Experience Lab. There were a series of screens where you could pull up each step of the customer journey, in addition to magnetic boards if you wanted to include any print collateral and write on it. So as potential ideas are debated, the entire customer conversion journey is laid out clearly for everyone to see.

 

 

Of course, times have changed. Many people reading this article right now are not in offices or physical meeting rooms yet.

You can do a virtual version of the conversion journey over Zoom. Or print out the steps and hang them up in your home office. The core goal is the same whether you’re working in-person or remote – making sure you and your team can’t overlook the customer journey when making key decisions.

 

Map out the big picture

Visualizing the conversion journey isn’t just about seeing what the customer sees, you should also try to think what the customer thinks. For example, you could create a customer journey map clearly showing the questions potential customers have as they consider your product and map the marketing and sales material and interactions you are using to address these questions.

 

 

Or you can approach the customer journey from the opposite direction. Instead of focusing on the questions potential customers have about your product, identify the key conclusions they need to reach to keep traveling along the journey with your company that ultimately leads to a product purchase by creating a prospect conclusion funnel.

 

 

As you can see, there’s more than one way to visualize the customer conversion journey. The exact way you go about is less important than the intent behind it – better understanding your customer to better serve the customer and improve results.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

You might also like…

Data Pattern Analysis: Learn from a coaching session with Flint McGlaughlin

How SAP Mapped Buyer Journeys for 19 Industries to Build More than $23 Million of Marketing-generated Pipeline

Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is source/medium?

September 15th, 2020
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

 

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

If you’ve ever been in a meeting with people who work on the data analytics for your company’s website, you may hear them refer to the metrics of Source and Medium. Sometimes, they’ll say the words so quickly together it sounds like one compound word “Sourcemedium.” (Just like people who work in digital advertising can make pay-per-click sound like “paper click.”)

Source and Medium are actually two distinct pieces of information that together help you understand where the traffic going to your website comes from. They are referred to together because they share a report in Google Analytics. You can find them in the left-hand column of Google Analytics, under Acquisition, then All Traffic, then finally Source/Medium.

 

 

The source is the specific website that sent traffic to your website, and the medium is the category that website resides under. Here’s a look at a Source/Medium report for our websites for a random day.

 

The word before the slash is the source, and the word after the slash is the medium.

As you can see, the top source of traffic was direct, which is not assigned to any medium. Direct traffic can come from someone typing in your website’s address to their browser, clicking on a bookmark, or clicking on a link from a non-website source like a PDF or presentation. As the name implies, people went directly to your website. However, direct is also the default source Google Analytics uses to report any traffic that it cannot assign another source to.

As you see, some traffic comes from the medium organic, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This refers to organic search.

And some traffic is listed with the medium referral, this means that visitors clicked on a link from another website to get to your website. In the example above, some of those websites (sources) were Internshala, Target Marketing magazine, and the University of British Columbia.

How you can use this information

According to the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic — a methodology to help marketers understand and optimize the factors that affect the probability of conversion — the motivation of the potential customer is the factor that most affects conversion. (MECLABS Institute is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

Understanding the source and medium of traffic to your website can help you better understand your customers’ motivations so you can better serve them and ultimately increase conversion. It can also help you understand if you are not getting the right types of customers to your website and need to change your traffic-driving and traffic-attracting initiatives.

Here is an example from work the MECLABS team is doing with the nonprofit TenbyThree as part of the show The Marketer as Philosopher — Become a Force for the Good:

Read more…

Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What are beneficial buttons?

July 8th, 2020
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

A beneficial button is a call-to-action (CTA) button that explains a benefit the customer will receive by clicking on it. In other words, the button has a process-level value proposition.

This may sound obvious when you read the above sentences. If you’re asking the customer to take an action, of course, the button should have a benefit. However, I challenge you to navigate around the web right now and see how many buttons are truly beneficial.

Three categories of CTA buttons

There are three categories of CTA buttons:

  • Value-neutral buttons – These buttons don’t have a positive or negative value. For example, using the word “Submit” or “Go.”
  • Value-negative buttons – These buttons have a higher cost than value. For example, “Buy Now.”
  • Value-positive buttons – These are beneficial buttons. They show the customer the benefit of taking action. For example, “Download My Template.” By filling out the form and clicking the button, you will get the value of a template download.

You can see the full landing page yourself: Free Template to Help You Win Approval for Proposed Projects, Campaigns and Ideas

How to categorize your CTA buttons

Two marketers can see the same button and disagree on whether it’s a beneficial button.

For example, Kodak considered a “Subscribe” button to be a beneficial button for its email registration page while a “Submit” button was not. (From the case study List Growth Tactics: How Kodak added 33% more email subscribers and 53% more YouTube followers).

Read more…

Marketing 101: What are grids (design)?

June 12th, 2020
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

In a previous Marketing 101 post on MarketingSherpa, you might have read about the rule of thirds, “… a basic guideline for framing and image composition that results in the viewer seeing a balanced, more naturally flattering image.” (Check out the blog post here if you haven’t read it yet.)

The rule of thirds is an example of a grid, specifically a 3 x 3 grid that’s used primarily for images, photographs, paintings, and possibly other mediums, such as landing pages. While it may be the most well-known grid, there are a whole lot of other grids out there that can help structure the layout of your landing page, approved by web designers everywhere.

A grid is a framework of intersecting vertical and horizontal (or angular) lines that are used to subdivide a page into margins, columns and modules (boxes) to structure content on a layout. Basically, it’s a visible guide for placing images, text and graphic elements onto a page with purpose or rational logic.

Why should you use grids?

  • It saves a lot time.

After some practice, it becomes easier and faster for you to see where text and images could perfectly align. You also don’t have to design the grid yourself (unless you want to) as there are many popular grids used in web design layouts that are one Google search away (and mentioned below.)

  • It makes collaborations run smoother.

Grids can become part of a guideline that each member of a  design team must follow, making it easier to collaborate on a project. It keeps the layout design consistent.

  • Webpages look organized and balanced overall.

Using the same grid or similar grids for multiple pages will help unify them, making these pages predictable for visitors and easy to navigate — alth­­­ough be careful not to make it so predictable that the layout becomes boring.

How do you use grids?

Grids have basic elements; here’s an overview:

Read more…

Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is lead attribution?

June 4th, 2020
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Lead attribution is the process of determining which marketing activities should be credited for bringing in a potential customer, also known as a lead.

The exact definition of what is considered a lead will vary based on the lead management process at each company, but for the purposes of this article, we will consider a lead as a potential customer that indicates interest in a company (for example, filling out a form or calling for more information).

Lead attribution is extremely valuable

Lead attribution is both extremely valuable and maddeningly difficult.

It is so valuable because if companies know which marketing activities produce leads, and which do not, they can optimize their marketing investment. As department store owner John Wanamaker famously said more than 100 years ago, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

So even though lead attribution doesn’t have the creative glory of other marketing practices like copywriting, design, content marketing or branding, don’t overlook it. In fact, I’m writing this blog post because I received a question when I was waxing poetic about lead attribution in the recent article – 8 Mini Case Studies of Using Marketing as a Force for Positive Change in Our World While Getting Results for Your Company and Clients. In the article I say …

“Listen folks, I’ve been doing this a long time. So when I started looking for stories for this article, I had my assumptions about which marketing tactics this article was going to cover:

Landing page optimization to better communicate value —that’s a given.

Content marketing — probably more than one mini case study.

Better ad targeting — of course.

But lead attribution?

Valuable tactic? Absolutely. But it’s boring, behind the scenes, and has little direct correlation to bring about positive change for people. At least, that was that my assumption.

If you’ve had similar assumptions, check out this next story.”

The mini case study goes on to tell the story of how a marketing attribution technology helped fuel a little friendly competition between radio stations in a radiothon that ultimately raised $500,000 for Feeding America during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Which brings up the point — while lead attribution is the term I most often hear thrown about, attribution can be applied to any customer action that companies seek, including product purchases or, in the above case, donations during a radiothon. For that reason, there are other similar terms — like marketing attribution or revenue attribution – that refer to roughly the same thing: understanding which marketing or advertising (or even sales or public relations) activities contribute to a company achieving its goals.

Read more…