Deliverability:  Conquering The Email Marketing Problem

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM

email-marketing.pngFrom the days when Google announced their “email killer” Wave, I’ve heard marketers and consultants say things like, “Email is dead.” My response to those who say that to me is always: “Really? What do you use instead?”  

I usually don’t get an answer, or someone starts rambling on about social media, private communication networks like Slack, or they claim organic (or paid) search is the only viable strategy. They say if people want what you do then they’ll find you, and a marketer’s (or salesperson’s) job is to ensure that the right people can find you.

While there is certainly truth to the statement that people will find you (and no one can question the growing importance of social media, search and the challenge that communication networks like Slack represent) the fact is that email is still the number one tool in the toolbox for managing and developing business relationships. Consider (sources: Content Marketing Institute & Optinmonster):

  • 77% of B2B marketers use email in the marketing mix  
  • 91% rate email as a key piece of content marketing success
  • 2.7 billion people use email
  • 91% of users use email at least daily
  • You're 7x more likely to originate a customer via email than other channels
  • 58% of users cite it as the first channel they go to every day

The problem is that email is a “push” communication tactic, in a “pull” world. Additionally, when you’re sending an email to someone, you are competing for attention in what is probably the noisiest and toughest place to compete - the inbox. This means that your email strategy must rise to a higher standard. Good email marketing simply isn’t good enough.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing

The 10 Worst Vanity Metrics Every Marketer Uses

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 31, 2017 5:00:00 PM

The 10 Worst Vanity Metrics Every Marketer UsesWhat you measure gets be very careful about what you measure.

The story of Moneyball is a powerful one. Despite its popularity, its central thesis is often overlooked. While many people point to the new analytics that Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane identified that others ignored, the real power (and advantage) was in their ability to determine the metrics that everyone else valued that, in reality, did not lead to success.

The time has come (more accurately the time is long past due) for Moneyball to come to marketing and sales.  

Twenty-first-century marketing, led by the movement to inbound marketing, made a compelling promise: greater insights, fast & better decisions and the ability to separate the “signal from the noise.” Businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries would finally be able to stop debating opinions and feelings and would be able to rely on facts and data.

While it has fully delivered on the promise of more metrics (I would argue too many metrics), it has not delivered on the promise of insights and smarter decisions, backed by facts and data.

The reason? People measure the wrong things. The vast majority of metrics used by marketers and executives are what I call “vanity metrics”. What is a vanity metric? It’s a metric that can make you feel good but is not an indicator of success or advancement.  

If they’re ineffective, you may ask, why are vanity metrics so attractive? For two reasons:

  • They’re easy to measure.
  • They’re easier to control (and therefore they make bosses and clients feel better).

Identifying, tracking and utilizing metrics that actually contribute to success are hard to detect and uncover. I recently shared an example of a set of metrics we regularly use in guiding our business and advising our clients.

I love metrics, but it’s important to note that it’s better to have no metrics than to focus on the wrong metrics. Today I share 10 of the most popular metrics that are used by the vast majority of practitioners but do little or no good.  

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance

The 5 Factors that Must be Considered Before Strategy/Tactics are Determined

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 29, 2017 2:12:30 PM

The 5 Factors that Must be Considered Before Strategy/Tactics are DeterminedIt’s a dangerous time in the world of sales and marketing. There’s so much useful information, insights and data available to growth-oriented executives looking to find the elusive formula for consistent and fast growth.

What makes this time dangerous is the very reason that so much great information exists. More than $10 billion of venture and private equity investments have poured into technologies aimed at supporting growth (source:  VBProfiles). Every one of these companies has a vested interest (literally!) in convincing you that they’ve found the formula... that it’s simple and oh by the way, all you need to do is buy (subscribe?) to our product...and sales growth is yours!

Here is some of what I’m talking about:

  • Drift is telling the world that they should eliminate their forms (here’s my response to that).
  • HubSpot proclaims that no one answers their phones and outbound is dead.
  • SalesLoft teaches that outbound is still the answer.
  • Numerous sales consultants rail against “social selling kool aid purveyors” and remind everybody that cold calling and prospecting is the key to success.

I could go on (and on). It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.*

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Topics: Sales Development, Performance, B2B Sales Strategy

3 Reasons Lead Generation Efforts Fail

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 24, 2017 5:30:00 PM

3 Reasons Lead Generation Efforts FailI’m in the process of writing a book (more news at that soon) and through that process, it’s led me to review much of what I’ve written over the last 13 years. One area that I found fascinating is that as recently as five years ago I was writing about the need to focus on lead generation.  

Today, I find that I don’t have to convince people of the importance of taking a professional approach to lead generation. Even (most of) those that are not practicing it acknowledge it’s the right thing to do.

However, after ten years of Inbound Marketing, sales development and demand generation “strategies,” sales and marketing executives alike cite the need for greater lead generation as a top 3 challenge. I think it’s earned a permanent position as the #1 priority of marketers in HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report.

With so much money and time being spent on lead generation, you’d think the problem would have been solved by now, wouldn’t you? The majority of lead generation efforts are failing and frankly, they’re annoying customers and prospects while increasing costs for companies. Something has to change.

Having reviewed hundreds of lead generation programs, I’ve learned there are three core reasons that so many lead generation efforts fail.

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Topics: Lead Generation

Why Your Business Isn’t Growing Like You Think it Should

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM

I see it all of the time. You provide an excellent service, a great product, or who knows; maybe you’ve even created disruptive technology that is going to change the way people behave in a given market.  

west-wing-news.gifDespite your best efforts, growth never becomes easy or predictable. Sure, you experience enough success and your customers 💖 what you do, so you know that with just a little more effort, a bit more ingenuity, and a pinch of luck your growth curve is about to look like the good news signal from The West Wing.  

But alas, the objective always seems just out of reach. What’s more, the very actions you take to drive such growth only reinforces the barriers you’re working so hard to overcome.

No one is immune from this affliction. I see CEOs, sales executives, marketing executives, salespeople, and others, struggle to find the right growth formula. This situation is an outright epidemic in the private equity/venture world as more and more money is thrown at more opportunities, where the only predictable and sustainable result coming from their efforts are higher burn rates and founders losing their equity.

Why? Why are so many smart, hard working people failing to unlock the growth equation? More importantly, what can you do to fix it today?

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Topics: Demand Generation

[Video] Demand Creator Minute: Assess a Sales Opportunity

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 4, 2017 1:00:00 PM

b2b-sales-review.jpgFor me, one of the toughest judgments I have to make as a salesperson, manager or growth executive is determining when a sales opportunity is ready to close.  

Push it too early and the likelihood of a sale is not only significantly lower, but the time you spend after the proposal is multiplied...taking valuable time from other pursuits. Wait too long, and you not only waste time, but you may lose the opportunity altogether.

Over the years, I've developed seven go-to questions that when answered clearly, concisely and confidently indicate the opportunity is ripe. The great thing about sales (for some) is that you’re never dealing with a perfect situation and you never have access to all of the knowledge you need.  

Successful sales is a lot like playing poker. A strong process and keen insights, mixed with experience enables you to find the opportune point to take action on the information you do have to maximize your probability of success. The seven questions I share in this video have helped me shorten the time to sale, while ensuring I spend the right amount of time and energy on the right opportunities. Just as importantly, it’s provided me the indication to know when to fold and walk away from the opportunity.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching

The Most Important Growth Dashboard in My Arsenal

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 2, 2017 4:00:00 PM

growth-dashboard.jpgSix weeks ago I wrote about the only metric that matters. That metric is the number of people in your addressable market that are paying attention and are engaged with you.

Since I wrote that post I have had a number of conversations on the subject with both clients and business owner friends. The concept has had the same impact on them that it did on me when I first discovered it. There’s quickly a realization that much of the data we’ve learned to rely on as marketers and demand generation executives is often either useless or worse...misleading.

The world of data and analytics has hijacked an engineering term called the signal to noise ratio. In engineering it refers to a measurement that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In data and analytics it means being able to separate the data that provides valuable insight from the data that merely creates noise or confusion.

The most common mistake I see when I assess an organization’s marketing and demand generation efforts is that they view a number of metrics - especially at the top and middle of the funnel - as a total, or average number. For example, I’ll often hear or see things like this: traffic is up x percent, we generated y leads, we’ve got z number of leads in our database.

The problem with averages, as the old saying goes, is that if I have one foot in boiling hot water and one foot in ice cold water, if I look at the average I’m fine...and in a lot of pain. And the problem with dashboards that reflect all activity is the data is skewed, often highly, by factors that don’t matter (like anybody not in your addressable market viewing your website).

Think of it this way. You’ve done a great job to build content designed for your desired personas so that it resonates with them, but is of little interest to others, and you’re also reviewing your web analytics. You know that time spent on site and on page is a good indication of engagement so you track that number.  

You begin to notice that, as you have developed your new content strategy, Google Analytics is showing that the average time spent on a page or on the site is down. You begin to panic. How can this be? Why are we spending all of this time on our content and site when the data shows we’re getting less engagement? How am I going to explain our investments when I talk with the CEO?

Suddenly you remember that in a typical month only about 23% of the traffic to your site is from your targeted personas. You realize that the time that 77% of your visitors (the ones that you’re optimizing your content not to resonate with) have a greater impact on that metric than the 23% of visitors who actually matter. It is for this reason that you must segment your audience and the dashboards you use to judge and monitor progress.   

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Topics: Lead Nurturing

The Truth that Inbound Marketing Agencies Don’t Want You to Hear

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 25, 2017 1:00:00 PM

The Truth that Inbound Marketing Agencies Don’t Want You to HearAt Imagine we work with growth obsessed, forward leaning executives who want to hear the truth about sustaining and scaling growth. We take a lot of pride in our ability and willingness to tell our clients (and prospects) what they need to hear and to teach them what they need to know, rather than what they would want to or like to know.  

Today I want to take that same approach with you, the readers of this blog, as I share with you the truth that inbound marketing (and other sales and marketing) agencies don’t want you to know. It’s not working. It’s not working for clients, and the reality is, it’s not working for the agencies either.

Today, more blogs posts, landing pages, infographics, video, emails, etc. are being created than ever before, and what do most businesses have to show for it? Higher expenses, complicated and confusing websites and more noise that must be dealt with to “break through.” Oh, and what is the response from the very marketing agencies that caused this problem to begin with? Simple - produce more content and spend more money on pay-per-click.

It’s no wonder that Kip Bodnar, CMO at HubSpot, recently shared that marketers “fuck everything up.” But why? What’s happened? How has the promise and excitement of inbound marketing ended up in a cacophony of noise and “me too-ism”? More importantly, what can companies and growth executives do about it?

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

How to Tell if Your CRM Database is Leveraging or Thwarting Your Investments in Sales Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 18, 2017 12:30:00 PM

database-management.jpgWhen I first got into sales, a common refrain was that a salesperson is only as valuable as the names in their Rolodex (here's a picture of a Rolodex for those readers under age 40). As the world entered the information age, the conversation quickly transformed to the importance of a company's database.

Despite the number of people who talk about the importance of their database, I've learned (and have to admit that until a few years ago was guilty of this) that most of the conversation is merely lip service. Well, that may not be fair. It may not be lip service so much as it is a poor focus.

Too often people define the value of their database of the quantity of names they have. (Can I call this database envy?) While the size of your database is certainly important, it's nowhere near the most important.

In this edition of The Demand Creator Minute, I focus on the crucial role of your database, the most overlooked (and dangerous) aspects of database management and three keys to ensuring you're using your database effectively.

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Topics: Demand Generation

Good Content is a Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing Work

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Good Content is A Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing WorkAaah, I remember the good old days. You remember them, don't you? You know, the days when creating good content was the key to successful content marketing and inbound marketing?

Don't get me wrong, you still need good content, but today it's a commodity. Let's admit the truth; there's more than enough good content out there on just about every subject. And while there's more bad content than good, and the volume of bad content is growing faster than good content; good content is simply not enough to drive your results.

But, before you jump to the obvious conclusion that this blog post is about the need to create great content, that is not what I'm suggesting. Frankly, as I've been studying the keys to success, I'm increasingly convinced that for most companies, creating great content is not the answer. Simply put, the investment of time and energy (and as a result - money) to get from good content to great content isn't justified - the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

How can I say this? Isn't this content marketing heresay? Look, I'm not saying having great content is bad. Instead what I'm saying is that if you're not utilizing your content (super) effectively, your focus should be on optimizing your process before enhancing your content.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Demand Generation