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The Demand Creator Blog

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The D.E.A.L.S. Framework: Unifying Customer Acquisition & Success for Acceleration

Deal-Framework-Header

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen the proliferation of marketing and customer acquisition “methodologies” multiply, fragment and confuse. One of the reasons for this was the success that HubSpot had with their focus on Inbound Marketing and the methodology they created to define it.

Since that time, it’s become part of the standard SaaS/tech playbook to create a new methodology to frame the product a company is attempting to sell. I’ve even seen some very successful executives and advisors proclaim that if you want to launch a new SaaS product you must create a unique methodology to frame it. 

What’s more, with the promise of each “unique” methodology, the focus moves to what you call things instead of on the objectives and results that should be driving the entire process anyway.

Here are just a few of the loudest:

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Account-Based Marketing
  • Outbound Marketing
  • Conversational Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Legacy Marketing

What makes this so confusing and frustrating is that the proponents of each method describe them with near zealotry. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said to me, “We don’t want to do Inbound Marketing, we need to do Account-Based Marketing,” or vice versa. (You can substitute in for Conversational or any other option for either of those.)

Someone needs to hit the reset button. We need to stop talking about these approaches as though they are mutually exclusive. I, for one, am a fan of all of them, and while I would rarely use all of these methods within one company, I would also virtually never use only one. As an old manager of mine used to say, “Everything works and nothing works.”

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3 Tips to Create More Compelling Content

compelling-contentContent has an attention problem. What does that mean? Simply, that there’s so much content coming at all of us that it’s harder and harder to actually engage with anything meaningful. We’re barraged on all sides by snappy soundbites, quick takes, hashtags, memes, gifs -- you know the drill. That means it’s more important than ever to add value through your content. 

Unfortunately, the term “add value” is so overused it can seem almost meaningless. However, you truly do need to add value if you want a potential customer to give you their precious time and attention. One of the best ways to do that is to show how to solve a problem. 

Cool, you might be saying. We show readers/viewers/content consumers how to solve problems all the time. 

Here’s the thing: most companies have decided which problem they solve and subsequently, tailor any messaging to fit that solution. They believe that, if they can just perfectly state the great things the company can do, they will be able to create a perfect piece of content that will magically “sell” their solution. (FYI - there’s no piece of content that will make someone come to a blog, read one piece of content and buy a big, expensive solution, but that’s a blog post for another day.) 

The most common mistake I see is that companies tend to make their content about themselves, not about their customer's issues. The problem with that? Content that’s focused on selling your company and its solutions isn’t really focused on understanding and solving the customer’s problem. 

This blog will help you understand how to create empathetic content that will make the reader feel like you understand them. This will place you in the position of a guide, and over time, will allow them to see how you can help them achieve their goals. 

It’s not just about regurgitating your marketing message over and over again. You can tell a customer how great you are, but the more self-interested and self-promotional you seem, the less trustworthy you’re perceived to be. See the catch?

So, what should you be doing?

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The Key Components You Need to Optimize a Landing Page

optimize-landing-pagesLanding pages are a crucial component of your demand generation and inbound marketing strategy. You could write the best piece of content ever, but if you haven’t structured your landing pages to help users convert, your hard work could all be for not. 

So how do you optimize a landing page to encourage interaction and ultimately conversion? First, let’s take a step back and define what we mean by “landing page.” There are plenty of definitions out there and plenty of debates to be had, but that is a conversation for another day. For the purpose of this article, let’s define a landing page as any page that helps nurture and direct website visitors to a conversion opportunity. Yes, that means I’m looking at pages that (gasp) don’t include a form. 

Why? I want to point out an important, and often overlooked set of pages designed to direct users to what you might consider a more traditional landing page, where users exchange their contact information for a piece of content or offer that you have created. These are not necessarily core website pages, but they are vitally important in helping users convert. 

As marketers, we spend a great deal of time on the conversion page itself but often forget about how users are getting there. Sometimes it just isn’t practical to push users directly to a traditional “landing page.” Sometimes users just aren’t ready for your “10 Step Guide to Running  a Marathon,” they’re still training for a 5k! These intermediary landing pages help provide a little more information to help them identify and diagnose their underlying problem.

What is Page Optimization?

Page optimization is the process of improving the elements of a page to increase conversions using qualitative and quantitative data. The key component is data. Rather than re-design an entire page based solely on assumptions, you want to use data and observations to drive your adjustments. Note that this is a process and there is no magic wand. Page optimization takes time and often requires some trial and error.

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Don't Bounce! Tips & Tricks to Keep Your Website & Blog Bounce Rate Low

Dont BounceMetrics can either be your best friend or worst nightmare. When things are going well, your life is great, but what happens when they start to go against you? You start to freak out. Our world today is centered around being the top or the best in whatever we do. In business, this is especially true when it comes to websites. If I could guess, I would say one of the biggest metrics you look at when assessing your website is the bounce rate. It might not be the first or second thing you look at, but it’s up there. I could also guarantee that at some point that number has been higher than you anticipated and freaked you out. What if I told you that a higher bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing? Take the opportunity to learn more about what to actually expect with bounces, and make the adjustments you think need to happen. 

What is a bounce rate? 

To put it in simple terms, a bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on your web page and then leave without traveling to another page (or blog) on your site. Most of the time this means they’ve only viewed a single page and then left. 

High Bounce Rate = Bad, Right? 

It depends. What are your website goals? What does your website look like? Usually, if you’re bringing traffic to a single page that doesn’t solicit for any other navigation or if your website is one page, then having a higher bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The same thing goes for blogs because most people come to read that specific content piece and leave. If you have a website that includes more than one page, then a higher bounce rate could indicate something is wrong.

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Inbound 2019 - The Insights That We're Still Talking About

Inbound2019This past year at HubSpot’s Inbound 2019 conference, we were fortunate enough to fly the whole team in to Boston for the week. We were ecstatic to attend and be there for Doug’s session - The Ultimate Sales Manager: Coaching Reps to Coach Themselves. The week went by quickly, the sessions everyone attended either reinforced what we were already doing or inspired us to try something new, and we all (the Imagine team) left Inbound with some key takeaways. No two people had the same impact which meant everyone could bring something different to the table when we got back.

The Imagine Team’s Takeaways


Fiona - Head of Content

I thought one of the most interesting (and obvious in retrospect, as these things often are) tips from Inbound was from Kelsey Raymond. She recommended that content creators should sit in on a sales call at least once a month to hear first-hand what’s keeping potential clients up at night. That way, you’ll be able to keep these concerns in mind when creating content. 

I also found Daniel Waas’ session helpful because he talked a lot about his ideal framework for a webinar. As someone who writes fiction in my spare time, it struck me how much it was like a VERY simplified structure for a novel. This just reinforced that all successful content, no matter the format, has some type of story structure.

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Using Quizzes to Generate Leads and Increase Engagement

Quiz TimeEveryone creates content. If I had to guess, I’d say you’ve most likely created at least one piece of content today. Why? Because you want to create engagement. In fact, a primary objective of content is to create engagement. Yet, most content is either unidirectional (blogs, web pages, podcasts, videos, etc.) or very high effort/high cost (social media). This kind of content gets looked at once, maybe twice and then never seen again. You don’t want to bore your audience with the same kind of content over and over. Engagement is better when you can make it participative rather than passive. 

Quizzes are a great way to switch how people engage with your product. They’re often a relatively low-effort way to build participation and enhance engagement (and generate new leads). This form of content is less about reading and watching and more about impact and connection. It means more when people can do things and interact. Quizzes engage more. Your audience is able to engage more of their brain. Sometimes that means it’s more enjoyable, sometimes more memorable, and sometimes it just plants a better seed that will influence your audience at a later time.

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What Hansel & Gretel Can Teach Sales & Marketing Executives About Content Strategy

breadcrumbsIn 2010, we made a critical decision at Imagine. We decided that we needed to move beyond our focus on sales and support the entire customer acquisition & success process. This led to the creation of lead generation services, which led to becoming a HubSpot partner, enabling our clients to successfully implement inbound and content marketing.

I don’t often share the (real) reason that we made this shift. I remember the culminating event as if it were yesterday. I was debriefing with one of my sales coaches about the progress with a customer, and let’s just say that the progress wasn’t very good. 

The sales team we were working with wasn’t embracing the approaches we were hired to implement and was struggling overall. In the debrief, I was being informed of the obstacles and objections the sales team were confronting, and further, why those objections meant our approach wouldn’t work.

I have to admit that was one of the most frustrating days of my career. I thought to myself, “Why is this so damn hard for them? I’ve been selling for decades and I’ve never had these problems, and while - yeah, sure I’m good - I’m not so good that I’m immune from common obstacles and objections.

It was in that moment I was struck with a BFO - blinding flash of the obvious. I realized the one element that I’ve always had everywhere I’ve ever sold (or led sales teams) that this team did not have. That element was content. I’d always had content to support my efforts because I’d always created content if the content I wanted wasn’t already there.

I realize this observation from today’s perspective isn’t so enlightening. Today, content is a given. The problem is that as content has proliferated, its impact has decreased (which has further fueled the proliferation of content). A lot of people claim that the reason for this is that quality decreased. While I can’t argue with that observation, I’m certain that’s not the cause.

The cause is that people are doing content wrong.

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The 3 Jobs Content Must Perform + Your Guide to Giving Your Content A Performance Review

Rain DelayI had the entire client services team together this week for two days. (Check out the awesome picture of the rain delay/postponement we all enjoyed Tuesday night.)

As we worked through the agenda for our get-together I posed a question to each person on the team. Here’s what I asked, “The CEO of one of our clients calls you up directly and asks you, ‘How are we doing with content?’ How do you answer their question?”

We then proceeded to have a conversation that I’m certain is remarkably similar to conversations that take place weekly at growth advisories and agencies like Imagine and within marketing and demand generation teams at most companies. Each person answered the question with a noticeable connection to their area of expertise. There were a lot of “it depends” and a variety of data points like traffic, growth, conversion, bounce rates, time on page, and more.

Like I said, the same conversation that takes place everywhere. The same conversation that has led to the exponential increase in content that has caused a precipitous increase in lead and customer acquisition costs, with little to no impact on outcomes. Many advisors argue, with some legitimacy, that content marketing in general and inbound marketing specifically is no longer worth the cost and effort.

I was not satisfied with these answers. They give no one insight and they end up creating a lot of noise. I’m a big fan of finding the signal and I believe that if you measure something, you best be able to identify that signal and create some scoring mechanism to guide you to where you want to go. So we proceeded with the conversation.

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5 Elements of a Strong Conversion Page

Conversion Page Infographic-1-1-1We don’t have to tell you your ability to convert web traffic into qualified leads is a crucially important component of any demand generation effort. Yet, far too often we see that companies who have invested in marketing automation and in the creation of relevant content fail to pay proper attention to key conversion pages.

Conversion pages are those “critical few” pages whose primary purpose is to create a specific action. That action could be downloading a white paper, initiating a chat, requesting a demo, registering for a webinar, etc. The last thing you want is for your customer to land on your page and be confused and leave or take the wrong action. That wouldn’t only cause stress on them, but it would also cause stress on you. 

In the world of modern demand generation (and to be really, really trite) the only constant is change. However, despite the range and rate of change, there are still some things that are as true today as they were several years ago. People are still people, and if you want to capitalize on the hard work you’ve put into your content marketing, you’ll want to be sure you're following these five success factors of a conversion page. 

While there are dozens (or hundreds) of tips that can help you optimize performance, these five factors are the core attributes of performance. 

The Five Elements of a Strong Conversion Page

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The Role of Content In An Account-Based Marketing Strategy

content-marketingFew things are as misunderstood as content. In many ways content, and by extension content marketing, experienced a rebirth with the creation and mainstreaming of Inbound Marketing and the growth of marketing automation. As an executive shared with me many years ago, “Don’t spend money on marketing automation if you don’t spend a multiple of that on the content to use with your automation.”

In an Inbound Marketing context, content is a critical linchpin for the dominant Inbound tactic - search engine optimization (SEO). Content, laced with keywords, enabled people to find you. The more (good) content you created the more traffic you gain and the more leads you’d generate (at least that’s what the theory says). In a world where SEO is important, identifying the most important role for content generation and utilization is pretty easy.

In our work with companies that work in more highly defined industries/verticals selling fairly large ACV solutions, we’ve noticed that their approach to content is still being driven by the same guideline and expectations. But, it’s not effective.
Here’s why:

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