The Greatest Marketing Growth Hack of All Time (Hint: Cupcakes)

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A few years ago my team at RJMetrics was launching a short survey over the holidays. It’s a tough time of the year to get attention, especially when you’re a B2B SaaS company. At some point, someone suggested a cupcake giveaway.

So we did.

Ten participants were randomly chosen to receive a dozen cupcakes, and people LOVED it.

  • They sent email responses to the request saying they hoped they got the cupcakes.
  • They tweeted delighted responses about the campaign.
  • When we delivered them, they tweeted pictures of them and their co-workers enjoying the cupcakes.

The response to the cupcake campaign was completely out of proportion to the $50 cost to us.

So we decided to make cupcakes a bigger part of some other marketing initiatives. Prior to this first cupcake encounter, we would use iPads as an incentive to promote our webinars. You know, that post-registration page that says “Tell your friends you’re joining us for a chance to win!” We decided to scrap the iPad in lieu of cupcakes…and our conversion rate skyrocketed.

No joke.

People would rather receive a dozen cupcakes than an iPad.

And inevitably we would ship the cupcakes and see a cupcake photo plus a tweet like: “RJMetrics has the best webinars, and you might win cupcakes!”

So there it is, the greatest marketing growth hack of all time. The next time you’re trying to motivate people to do something for you, offer the chance to win some cupcakes.

The Psychology of Cupcakes

Now, let’s talk a little bit about what’s happening here. There are a few good theories. I first shared a version of this post over on ThinkGrowth.org and the responses there aligned pretty closely to what I hear whenever I share this story. 

Cupcakes seem like a more achievable prize.

In the case of the survey, the odds of winning cupcakes were actually better than the odds of winning an iPad — we were choosing 10 winners instead of 1. But for webinars, the odds were exactly the same — only 1 winner. Still, there’s something about a dozen cupcakes that just seems more possible.

One commenter summed it up perfectly:

The Lake Wobegon Effect

As in Lake Wobegon of Prairie Home CompanionThis theory was presented by HubSpot’s co-founder and CTO, Dharmesh Shah and is a variation on cupcakes seeming more achievable, but with a little more detail on the psychology of why they feel more achievable:

Valuing Experiences Over Things

Another theory on why this is so effective is that people actually want the experience of winning cupcakes more than they want the experience of winning an iPad. Winning an iPad is kind of a lonely experience, tell your co-workers and they’ll probably feel bored or jealous.

But winning cupcakes? That’s a community experience. You can gather your co-workers around to share in your success, eat cupcakes together, take a picture. And maybe on some sub-conscious level we all just want that feeling of community more than we want an iPad.

My hunch is that if you ask someone outright, they will always tell you they would prefer to win an iPad, but actual behavior reveals we might want something a little more meaningful.

The Element of Surprise

This is a less popular theory, but personally, I think it carries a lot of weight. In marketing, all strategies erode over time. Andrew Chen calls this “The Law of Shitty Click-Throughs.” He uses the example of the internet’s first banner ad: 

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But by 2011, Facebook ads were converting at .05%.

And we see this play out again and again in marketing. As more businesses adopt a tactic, the better people become at tuning it out, and the effectiveness of that tactic wears off:

We’re just not used to seeing cupcakes show up in marketing. It surprises us, forces us to pause and pay attention. And attention, after all, is what marketers are always chasing.

If the surprise theory is true, this holds implications beyond cupcakes. It means there’s an enormous edge given to marketers who can navigate the balance of being familiar enough that people feel comfortable, but surprising enough that people actually pay attention.

I’ve recently fallen in love with CBInsights newsletter. The author of the newsletter and founder of the company, Anand Sanwal, has an amazing sense of humor and I’ve found myself hooked on his storylines. Here’s one of this latest newsletters:

How many business communications lead with “I love you”? Or talk about bromances in a way that makes you want to keep reading?

And you actually want to read the copy because Anand is constantly dropping little remarks like “a not very useful graph” that are so refreshingly honest about the things marketers are often trying to hype. I mean this graph is interesting, but he’s right, it’s not very useful 😂

And of course, this is all held together by a core of content that is top-notch commentary on the tech industry.

Why do I love this newsletter so much? Yes, it’s providing incredibly useful information, but I’m constantly surprised and delighted by what Anand is writing. I read what he’s writing because it’s different from how everyone talks about similar things.

He’s not giving away cupcakes, but there’s still power in the art of surprise.

Now it’s your turn.

After I published this post on ThinkGrowth.org I heard from two marketers who were already implementing the cupcake test. So, the time to try this strategy is now. It won’t be crazy effective for too long!

But seriously, cupcakes or no cupcakes, keep your eye out for opportunities to share a little joy with your audience. We’re all busy and distracted and overloaded with information. Ask yourself how you can add just a little more humanity to your marketing, how you can create moments for your audience to connect with other humans, how you can make them pause and maybe … just maybe … how you can even make them smile.

Editor’s Note: This post was adapted for the Marketing Blog from ThinkGrowth.org, HubSpot’s Medium publication. You can check out the original version here

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Source: The Greatest Marketing Growth Hack of All Time (Hint: Cupcakes)
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

8 of the Top Marketing Challenges Marketers Face Today [New Data]

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Every marketer faces different challenges. Although we typically share similar goals, some teams are stuck on hiring top talent, while others are having trouble finding the right technology for their needs.

Whatever the case may be, there’s always at least one area that you can stand to improve. In other words, there’s always room to optimize the various components of your strategy and turn your marketing into an even more effective revenue generator.

Curious about what kinds of obstacles other marketers are up against?

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We polled thousands of marketers on the challenges they face, as well as the tactics they’ve used to meet those challenges head-on. Here are some of the most common challenges marketers reported struggling with … and their solutions.

The Most Common Marketing Problems We Face, According to the 2017 State of Inbound Report

According to our report, generating traffic and leads and proving ROI are the leading challenges marketers face. Here’s a look at this year’s data:

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Image Credit: The 2017 State of Inbound Report

Let’s go through each of these top challenges and how marketers can address them.

1) Generating Traffic and Leads

Why It’s a Challenge

Generating enough traffic and leads was the top marketing challenge, according to the 2017 State of Inbound report. We started asking this question with this answer as a new option last year — and we’re glad we did.

Clearly, marketers are struggling with producing enough demand for their content. And as the years progress and competition stiffens, this will only become truer. With so many options of platforms for marketers to publish their content and even more ways to promote it, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to creating content that produces enough traffic and leads, marketers should ask themselves two questions: Are you truly creating high-quality content — the type of content people would pay for? And, do you know the type of content your audience actually wants?

For example, HubSpot Research has found that 43% of consumers want to see more video from marketers in the future, while only 29% want to see more blog posts. To learn more about how the way people are reading and interacting with content is changing, check out this HubSpot Research report.

Once you know you’re creating the type of content your audience wants, the focus shifts to promoting it in a way that makes your audience take notice. More than ever before, people are being flooded with content. Consumers don’t have to use a search engine to find answers. Instead, articles fill their news feed or buzz in their pocket via mobile notification.

Needless to say, the content promotion playbook is not the same as it was five years ago. To make sure your traffic and lead numbers continue to rise, check out this comprehensive guide to content promotion.

2) Providing the ROI of Your Marketing Activities

Why It’s a Challenge

Measuring the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing activities has remained a top marketing challenge year-over-year. But, it also continues to be a vital way for marketers to understand the effectiveness of each particular marketing campaign, piece of content, etc.

Plus, proving ROI often goes hand-in-hand with making an argument to increase budget: No ROI tracking, no demonstrable ROI. No ROI, no budget.

But tracking the ROI of every single marketing activity isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have two-way communication between your marketing activities and sales reports.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to providing ROI, there’s a strong case to be made for dedicating time and resources to establishing links between marketing activities and sales results. This means using both marketing software (like HubSpot) and a CRM solution (like HubSpot’s free CRM), and then tying them together to close the loop between your marketing and sales efforts with a service-level agreement (SLA). That way, you can directly see how many leads and customers are generated through your marketing activities.

We’ve found there’s no better combination than having an SLA and doing inbound marketing. According to this year’s report, inbound organizations with SLAs are 3X more likely to rate their marketing strategy as effective compared to outbound organizations with misaligned marketing and sales teams.

(Use this ROI calculator to simulate the potential ROI you could realize by conducting inbound marketing.)

3) Securing Enough Budget

Why It’s a Challenge

Securing more budget is a pressing challenge for marketing globally. And often, getting more budget is easier said than done — especially for smaller organizations that aren’t working with sizable nor flexible marketing spend.

But the key to securing more money for your team might not be that complex. Here’s what you can do.

What Can You Do?

The key to unlocking budget lies in being able to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts. According to our report, organizations that can calculate ROI are more likely to receive higher budgets.

Again, success with inbound marketing also plays a large role in driving higher budgets. Effective strategies obviously produce results, and our data shows those who feel confident in their marketing strategy are more than 2X as likely to get higher budgets for their marketing teams. But remember, inbound marketing is a long game. If you get off to a slow start, you shouldn’t back off — in fact, you might consider doubling down.

4) Managing Your Website

Why It’s a Challenge

Managing a website was the fourth biggest challenge for marketers in 2017. And chances are, your website’s performance is high on your list of priorities. It’s an asset that works around the clock to draw in visitors, convert them, and help you hit your goals, after all.

Issues with website management include a variety of different factors, from writing and optimizing the content to designing beautiful webpages. Here are a few things marketers can do to deal with this challenge.

What Can You Do?

First, read this report to see how your website stacks up against over 1 million other websites. It also includes a deep analysis on the four most critical elements of website performance and design, from average load time and website securityww to mobile friendliness and SEO.

If your primary challenge with managing a website has to do with the skills and resources you have available, you aren’t alone. This is especially true for small companies who don’t have all the talent in-house required to cover content, optimization, design, and back-end website management.

One solution? Hire freelancers and agency partners. To find freelancers, we recommend:

  • Tapping into your personal and professional network by posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks with a description of what you’re looking for.
  • Browsing freelance writers and designers based on their portfolios and areas of interest. For writers, check out Zerys and Contently. For designers, check out Behance & Elance.
  • Browsing HubSpot’s Services Marketplace, which lists a wide variety of designers from partner companies and agencies we’ve deemed credible.

Overall, you can make website management easier on your team by hosting your website on a platform that integrates all your marketing channels like HubSpot’s COS.

Finally, for the projects you want to keep in-house, here is a list of ebooks and guides that might be helpful to your team:

5) Identifying the Right Technologies for Your Needs

Why It’s a Challenge

Finding the right technologies was the fifth biggest concern for marketers this year. Oftentimes, this is because feedback on technology is scattered. Marketers might turn to colleagues, friends in the industry, and/or analyst reports to figure out which technologies best fit their needs — only to find that feedback is spread across emails, social media, and so on from people of varied reputability.

When you’re looking for a tool, software, or piece of technology to solve a specific marketing problem, where do you go to find it?

What Can You Do?

For those of you looking for a tool, software, or piece of technology to solve a specific marketing problem, we recommend taking a look at Growthverse: a free, interactive, online visualization of the marketing technology landscape that focuses on the business problems marketers are trying to solve, and leads them to specific pieces of marketing technology that aim to solve those problems. We’ve found it to be a really well-visualized map of carefully curated marketing technology resources.

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It’s worth noting that the main tool in top marketers’ arsenals is a platform for automating their team’s marketing efforts. We found that although our respondents indicated using an array of specific products, the larger trend was telling: The top marketers use marketing automation software in some form or another. Meanwhile, 40% of marketers cite marketing automation as a top priority for the next year.

6) Targeting Content for an International Audience

Why It’s a Challenge

Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing. To be more effective at targeting, one of the first things any marketer needs do is identify their buyer personas to determine who it is they should be marketing to. If you’re expanding internationally, it can be a big challenge not only to figure out the best ways to market to an international audience but also to organize and optimize your site for different countries.

What Can You Do?

Download our free ebook, The Global Marketing Playbook. There are some really helpful tips in there that’ll help give you some direction on global marketing, including how to identify your top three growth markets, how to explore local trends, and tips on choosing the best localization providers.

Remember, your website visitors might speak a plethora of different languages and live in totally different time zones. To make your content appealing to a wide audience, you’ll need to keep your global visitors top-of-mind when creating all your content. This means being aware of seasonal references, translating units of measure and monetary references, and giving translators the tools and permissions to customize and adapt content for a specific audience when they need to.

Finally, be sure you’re optimizing your website for international visitors, too. For more tips and resources on global marketing expansion, browse our international inbound marketing hub.

7) Training Your Team

Why It’s a Challenge

As companies scale and technologies continue to evolve, training your team will become a greater challenge for marketers. Whether it’s training them on the concepts and tools they’ll be using every day or making sure they’re achieving their full potential, the struggle is real across the board.

To combat this, I’ll share some tips I’ve used during my trainings to make sure the concepts and tool tips stick and have a lasting effect on your team and your marketing.

What Can You Do?

To get an overall idea of where your team stands, take a few minutes to assess each of your team members’ marketing strengths and weaknesses, levels of expertise, and passion/commitment to your company. Then, objectively rate the priority (or level of importance) of their expertise and their contribution to bottom line objectives (ROI) to date. Here’s a simple assessment tool from Lean Labs to help you evaluate your team so you can figure out who needs recognition and who needs coaching.

Next, check out this awesome resource from HubSpot Academy, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Training. It’s a guide that’ll help you navigate all the marketing training options you have, from quick daily habits to more rigorous, career-launching investments.

You also might consider requiring your team members to rack up some online marketing certification. HubSpot Academy, for example, offers certifications, documentation, and training programs to help people master the basics of inbound marketing. Google also offers training and certifications on analytics with their online Analytics Academy.

What about new hire training, specifically? We recommend creating a training plan for new team members. Here at HubSpot, each new marketer is given a 100-day plan like this one to lay out specific goals and help new hires demonstrate their effectiveness.

8) Hiring Top Talent

Why It’s a Challenge

Hiring top talent was the eighth biggest challenge marketers reported experiencing this year. Why? Many companies are shifting more resources to inbound marketing, which means higher and higher demand for top marketing talent. But supply simply isn’t keeping up. From sourcing the right candidates to evaluating for the right skills, finding the perfect person could take months … or more.

What’s more, the type of marketing talent companies are looking for is changing, too. In Moz and Fractl’s analysis of thousands of job postings on Indeed.com, they concluded that employers are seeking marketers with technical and creative skill sets. And the quick rate at which the demand for these jobs are rising has caused a marketing skills gap, “making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing.”

What Can You Do?

Employers are looking for marketers with a diverse skill set that includes digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing. To find the best inbound marketer for your team, the first thing you should do is decide what that person needs to be able to achieve for your business.

Ask yourself: What will the new marketer’s tasks and duties include? What skills do those tasks and duties require? What goals or challenges will the new marketer face? Use your answers to these questions to write a compelling job description. (Here are 37 pre-written marketing job descriptions to help you get started.)

Next, post your jobs where talented inbound marketers will find them. While traditional job sites like Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, or LinkedIn will help you cast a wide net, we recommend checking out Inbound.org, which is the only job listing service in the world that’s exclusively focused on inbound marketing and sales jobs.

Finally, focus your job description and new hire 100-day plan what people value most in their careers. This year, the data shows that 58% of people consider opportunities for growth when looking for a new job, while 50% are looking for a good work/life balance.

Does Your Company Face Any of These Marketing Issues?

A thorough analysis of your marketing strategy and its current performance will help you discover where your biggest marketing opportunity lies. This will allow you to focus on improving the areas that need the most attention, so you can start making your marketing far more effective.

If you’re faced with a challenge and want ideas on how to best tackle it, you can always consider getting some help by any of the various types of marketing training that are available. Learn more about what other organizations are prioritizing and tackling in the 2017 State of Inbound report.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

To learn more about the transactional email add-on, contact your CSM.

Source: 8 of the Top Marketing Challenges Marketers Face Today [New Data]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

9 Inbound Marketing Stats You Need to Know in 2017 [New Data]

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The inbound movement has always been about one thing: being relevant and truly helpful to your audience.

This approach shouldn’t change, but as technology and internal company relationships change, marketers and salespeople must learn how to adapt to better serve their customers.

To better understand how our relationships with consumers and coworkers are changing, we collected data from more than 6,300 marketers and salespeople from around the globe, which we’ve compiled in the 2017 State of Inbound report. It examines the relationship between company leadership and employees, details on collaboration between marketing and sales teams, and a look at what the industry’s foremost marketers are adding to their strategy in the coming year.

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Check out the full report here, or view some of the most interesting highlights below.

9 Stats You Need to Know From the 2017 State of Inbound Report

1) 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective. [Tweet this]

Last year, we started to examine marketers’ thoughts on their organizations’ marketing strategy and found that inbound marketers are much more likely to be satisfied with their organization’s approach.

We’re happy to report that this trend continued. 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective. However, the majority of outbound marketers (52%) do not think their strategy is effective.

2) 1/3 of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated. [Tweet this]

It’s not simply the effectiveness of the inbound philosophy that encourages us, but the success of inbound when compared to alternative methods. Each year, marketers tell us that outbound practices are overrated.

While we admit we might be a bit biased, when we cut the data, marketers agreed. According to this year’s data, 32% of marketers rank outbound marketing practices such as paid advertising as the top waste of time and resources.

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3) C-level executives and individual contributors disagree about the effectiveness of their organizations’ marketing strategy. [Tweet this]

Over the years, we’ve continued to examine the relationship between marketers and salespeople. This year, we discovered an interesting trend in the data: Company leadership and individual contributor employees are struggling under a growing corporate chasm.

This means that leadership and employees often view their company, its performance, and its future very differently. For example, while 69% of C-level executives believe their organizations’ marketing strategies are effective, only 55% of individual contributors agree. Leaders who want their business to grow must learn how to effectively communicate the organization’s vision and goals with their employees.

4) Marketers struggle most with metrics-driven challenges. [Tweet this]

Marketers find tracking and making sense of their metrics a challenge. This year, 63% of marketers admit that their top challenge is generating enough traffic and leads. This is followed by 40% who struggle proving the ROI of marketing activities and 28% who are trying to secure enough budget.

All three of these top challenges are metrics-driven. Without the proper tools to track concrete campaign results, these areas will continue to be a struggle.

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5) Organizations with an SLA are more than 3X as likely to be effective. [Tweet this]

When we began publishing this report nine years ago, much of our data revolved around the adoption of inbound marketing. As the message spread, we began to see why it’s crucial for both marketing and sales teams to adopt the inbound methodology together. One of the main ways this is done is through a service-level agreement (SLA).

Despite the fact that only 22% of organizations say they have a tightly-aligned SLA, the benefits of having one are clear: 81% of marketers with as SLA think their marketing strategy is effective. In fact, there is no combination of factors more strongly correlated with marketing success than being both inbound and having an SLA.

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6) 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder. [Tweet this]

While marketers struggle with tracking the metrics of their campaigns, salespeople admit that getting a response from prospects is a growing challenge. However, as you dive deeper into the data, you see the problem starts long before salespeople begin contacting prospects.

38% of salespeople say that they struggle most with prospecting. While there is an abundance of new technology and platforms to help salespeople connect and develop relationships with prospects, many are finding it difficult to incorporate this technology into their daily routine. In fact, 19% of salespeople say they’re struggling to incorporate social media in their sales process, and 13% say using sales technologies is now harder than it used to be.

7) Marketers think video and messaging apps have the potential to disrupt. [Tweet this]

As marketers prepare for the future, many plan to use a variety of content publishing platforms. In the past, content marketers poured their efforts into their email, website, and blog strategies. But with the rising trend of content decentralization, marketers are now seeing the benefit of publishing on a variety of channels.

In our study, marketers are paying more attention to video’s global appeal, with 48% planning on investing in YouTube and 39% looking to add Facebook video to their strategy. In addition, many marketers are experimenting with messaging apps, while others continue to focus on more visual platforms such as Instagram.

But don’t think the age of the blog is over. 53% of respondents say blog content creation is one of their top inbound marketing priorities.

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8) 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. [Tweet this]

Getting a response from prospects is not the only challenge salespeople are facing. According to our 2017 data, 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. Another 23% of salespeople say their biggest challenge using their CRM is manual data entry.

The more time salespeople spend on data entry, the less time they have to do what they are skilled at: closing deals. Not only is manual data entry time consuming, it can also be detrimental to the business. Storing contacts in an unorganized way or not properly using a CRM can lead to a disjointed sales strategy. Businesses should look to sales tools that include automation, integrate with their other platforms, and provide insight into the full customer journey.

9) Marketers and salespeople don’t see eye to eye on the quality of marketing-sourced leads. [Tweet this]

We know there’s a disconnect between marketing and sales teams around the definition of a quality lead, but this year’s report shows a drastic gap.

59% of marketers say they provide salespeople with very high-quality leads, but only 25% of salespeople agree. In fact, the majority of salespeople — from the C-suite to individual contributors — rank marketing leads last, behind referrals and sales-sourced leads. This data continues to highlight the importance of SLAs.

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Want more data-backed insights? This is just a preview of the State of Inbound report. Download the report for free to discover how inbound marketing and sales is evolving.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Source: 9 Inbound Marketing Stats You Need to Know in 2017 [New Data]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Top 8 Ways B2B Brands Are Reaching Customers in 2017 [Infographic]

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“Being a B2B marketer is a piece of cake,” said no one, ever. “A real walk in the park. Easy-peasy.”

The truth is, no marketer has it easy — but sometimes, it seems like B2B marketers have it especially tough. Their work doesn’t always get the same kind of spotlight that B2C marketing might, especially when it comes to things like word-of-mouth. Industry figures reflect this: Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, for example.

But that’s not to say being a B2B marketer has to be tremendously difficult. And there’s no reason why it can’t be fun, too. It seems like much of that success exists in marketing to the customer — not entirely unlike account-based marketing. That’s the philosophy behind Koyne’s 2017 State of Customer Marketing Report:

Customer marketing is not just renewal or repeat purchase efforts, but the complete set of activities undertaken by a company following a customer’s purchase of products and services in order to help those customers be successful and productive, as well as advocate for the company.”

Sounds good — but what does that look like? What are some of the best ways for B2B marketers to execute customer marketing, and why? To answer that question, Digital Marketing Philippines pulled some of the most interesting data from Koyne’s report and compiled it into the infographic below. Read on to learn more.


B2B Customer Marketing Trends



free report: content lessons from 175K blog posts 

Source: The Top 8 Ways B2B Brands Are Reaching Customers in 2017 [Infographic]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

State of Inbound 2017: Your Go-To Business Report for Marketing and Sales Research [New Data]

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Generate more traffic, more leads, more customers. That’s always been the purpose of marketing and sales.

But while the goal remains the same, the audience — and their preferences and behaviors — has not. People don’t want to just read content anymore. They want immersive video experiences. When it’s time to research a purchase or service a product, they don’t want to wait to talk to a rep on the phone. Instead, they’ll turn to an artificial intelligence-powered bot.

The way your customer shops and buys is drastically changing.

And in the age of the buyer, it’s up to businesses to adapt. That’s why we produce the State of Inbound research report each year: to help you stay up-to-date on all the marketing and sales changes that matter for your business.

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But for a moment, let’s dig deeper. While last year’s State of Inbound report introduced the growing disconnect between businesses and their customers, this year we look at what causes this divide in the first place.

There’s a corporate chasm forming between executives and their employees, and when misalignment forms inside the four walls of a business, that can impact everything from employee retention to customer satisfaction. Consider these discrepancies:

  • 69% of executives believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective, but only 55% of individual contributors in marketing agree.
  • 31% of executives believe that there’s tight alignment between their marketing and sales teams, but only 17% of both managers and individual contributors agree.
  • This trend continues on the department level: 45% of sales reps say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry, yet only 21% of executives said this is so.

In the 2017 State of Inbound report, we’ll break down the divide, as well as uncover international marketing priorities, new content distribution trends, and buyer communication preferences. Download our most data-packed edition of the State of Inbound today. 

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Source: State of Inbound 2017: Your Go-To Business Report for Marketing and Sales Research [New Data]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Account-Based Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: 4 Common Questions Answered

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Account-based marketing or inbound marketing? Which one should you use?

Well, maybe that’s not the right way to think about it. As it turns out, the two strategies are actually pretty complementary when done well.

With all the confusion between account-based marketing and inbound marketing, we thought we would clear the air — and hopefully help show you how the two work together.

What Is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a targeted approach to marketing based on an account, or a company, rather than an individual buyer. For the official definition, let’s turn to where the Internet goes for answers: Wikipedia. According to their definition, ABM is “a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.”

To simplify it though, let’s put it this way: Instead of marketing to individuals, ABM is about marketing to all decision makers within a target company at once.

Here’s a visual explanation from Terminus, an account-based marketing company.

Note: HubSpot is an
investor in Terminus, the creator of this slideshare

Are Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing Antithetical?

Because account-based marketing dictates targeting a specific company instead of attracting a wide range of individuals, it can be easy to assume that account-based marketing and inbound marketing are incompatible. But that’s not true. Inbound and ABM can actually be used in conjunction with one another since they share a few core principles.

Context is central to the inbound methodology, and to account-based marketing as well. Having the right context on your potential buyers and the pain points they’re looking to solve helps you in the following areas:

  • Tight sales and marketing alignment. There are many natural points within the ABM process that foster a closer relationship between Sales and Marketing. Each team needs to work together to achieve company goals, and ABM brings marketers closer to Sales’ thinking — typically focused on accounts instead of leads.
  • Highly targeted, personalized content. The cornerstone of ABM is focusing on specific individuals within an organization, and the content and messaging you send with ABM should be highly personalized and targeted to specific individuals within an account.
  • Customer happiness, retention, and upsell. Because ABM zeroes in on a core set of specific accounts, focusing on those clients’ happiness, retention, and potential to utilize more of your product/service through upselling can be a viable growth strategy.

Inbound is about adapting to the way people want to shop and buy. Account-based marketing fits nicely into that philosophy in that it enables marketers and salespeople to take a thoroughly personalized approach to a handful of accounts.

In a smaller addressable market, you can leverage ABM for your lead generation strategy, and lean on your online presence, content, and the influence you’ve built through inbound to close the deal.

Where Do Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing Diverge?

So if the two approaches share a commitment to personalized, relevant content, how are they different?

They diverge in two places.

The first concerns scalability. Account-based approaches work well when you have a smaller addressable market. For example, if there are only 100 companies you can sell into because you offer a highly specialized or perhaps enterprise-level product, creating an individual marketing plan for each potential account is reasonable. But if your company sells to a wide and diverse market of thousands, account-based marketing is harder to scale. That’s where you’d want to use a broader inbound approach.

The second area the two practices diverge is in the channels and tactics they prioritize. Account-based marketing relies on outbound channels like email and targeted advertising. When done well these tactics can extend a personalized experience — but if you’re not careful, uninvited outbound tactics can become spammy and disruptive. When done poorly, ABM can start to resemble the spammy approaches inbound was set up to counter.

How Can I Do Account-Based Marketing?

To ensure you keep humans at the center of your account-based marketing strategy, stick to the principles. Make account-based marketing about tailoring the way you communicate with your target company and be wary of any tactics that may overwhelm them.

There are five primary stages to account-based marketing that work hand-in-hand with inbound marketing. Let’s walk through each and detail how you can conduct ABM in a human-friendly way.

abm_cloud_stages (1).png

Identify

Account-based marketing begins with Sales and Marketing identifying and selecting relevant accounts. When beginning this selection process, firmographic data, such as company size, number of employees, location, and annual revenue, can give you an understanding of accounts you may want to target. Similar to inbound marketing, you can also use buyer personas to understand the day-to-day lives and challenges of your target buyers, and then determine content and channels to approach them.

Expand

In large sales — where ABM is typically used — buying decisions are generally made by numerous individuals within a company. ABM helps establish a relationship with each potential buyer and engages them in the purchase decision.

At the expand stage, creating unique, company-specific content that interests each potential buyer within the organization is important. Whether your product is for marketers, operations leaders, or anyone else, ensuring that you identify and engage with everyone in the buying decision is crucial to winning a customer.

Consider the challenges each of your stakeholders faces in order to create compelling content. For example, Finance may be concerned with pricing, while Operations might be focused on user access, ease of use, and security. With this context, you can create targeted content and interactions that match each individual’s concerns and challenges.

Engage

Here’s where Sales and Marketing come together and join the party to engage with stakeholders across various channels. For example, if one of your stakeholders prefers email, then equipping salespeople to reach out to that person with a helpful and relevant message can get a conversation started. This stage is largely about developing relationships with and getting to know all the buyers who will make the final decision.

Advocate

Next, you want to nurture bonds with a few stakeholders who can serve as advocates within the organization. The modern buyer is not looking for more information about products or services and can tune out information they don’t want to hear. So it’s up to both Marketing and Sales here to provide value — and talk about the product when and where necessary.

Measure

Finally, reporting at the account level can give you data on what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve over time. Within HubSpot, you can report on company growth, revenue, job titles, engagement levels, and much more — all at the account level.

So, where do you go from here? If you’re a company that sells into a smaller addressable market and has its sights on a handful of highly critical accounts, you can learn more about building an ABM strategy without abandoning your inbound philosophy in this webinar.

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Source: Account-Based Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: 4 Common Questions Answered
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Creative Work Relies on Failure

Everyone wants to be creative, yet many of us are too fearful to pursue our most creative ideas. Why? Our fearful reaction is not a matter of choice — it’s often a knee-jerk reaction that can be attributed to our biology.

According to Adobe’s State of Create report, “At work, there is tension between creativity and productivity.” That could have something to do with previous research indicating that there’s a natural association of uncertainty with ideas labeled as “creative,” and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

So when you’re pursuing a creative path, this hurdle can feel insurmountable. How do you tackle and, ultimately, dismantle it?

Creativity vs. Fear of Failure

In my experience — and that of many creative professionals — the most familiar form of fear come is really that of failure. It’s a hesitancy to branch outside the norm and risk exposing yourself to the judgment of others. But that fear alone is not what inhibits your path to creativity. Not acknowledging is what’s truly damaging. Nelson Mandela summarized that notion quite well: 

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

The traditional narrative about the creative process tends to leave out fear. We hear about and romanticize the lone genius’ bursts of inspiration but that isn’t always accurate. As David and Tom Kelley note in Creative Confidence, “A widely held myth suggests that creative geniuses rarely fail.” They go on to cite UC Davis Professor of Psychology Keith Simonton, who found that many of the world’s most famous creative people — like composer Wolfgang Mozart and scientist Charles Darwin don’t give up at the first sign of failure. Rather, they keep experimenting until they find what works.

That’s one of the things that makes fear a necessary and important part of creative work — learning how to work with it. Unfortunately, in many organizations, fear tends to dominate, often stifling what could have been some of our most creative work. Only 4 in 10 employees would even describe themselves as creative, and out of those who do, less than half think they’re “living up to their creative potential.” Those are forms of fear, and even if you’re not aware of it, you’ve likely let it take control before. 

But how do you recognize it? Here are some familiar “traps” you might be falling into.

Letting Fear Hinder Your Creativity

Scenario

In the middle of a brainstorm, someone pitches an off-the-wall idea that the whole team thinks is edgy and hilarious. These ideas are often followed by a flurry of enthusiastic statements that start with things like, “what if we….” or, “imagine if…”. Despite the team’s excitement, you decide the client will think it’s too offbeat, so you pitch your safer — a.k.a., less creative — plan B.

When you focus on what seems like the safer path and make decisions purely based on risk-avoidance, you lose sight of supporting your actual objective. That’s common in group dynamics, and even has a name: Groupthink, which occurs “when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation,” according to Psychology Today. It’s often masked as rational thinking, but playing it safe is actually the enemy of good creative work — the more you stay in the same place, the less effective your work becomes. Conversely, doing good creative work requires comfort with risk.

Letting Fear Dictate Your Creativity

Scenario

Your competitor releases a new product or service, or updates its branding/website, thereby staking its claim as the industry leader. Your fear of being outshined prompts a response focused solely on beating your competition, instead of doing what’s going to benefit your customers — and therefore, your business — the most.

While most people are aware that their respective brands must constantly innovate and evolve, letting fear control your efforts is also dangerous. When fear fuels your motivation and objectives, your work can become less meaningful due to a lack of passion or enthusiasm behind it. Plus, spending an unbalanced amount of time trying to keep up on every trend saps your resources and focus. When you succumb to fear, you often end up paying the price in the long run, with results like a bad user experience or looking like a copycat. As Karen Martin wrote in her book The Outstanding Organization, “When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”

Why You Need Failure

Yes, there is a right way to fail. When you creatively experiment — just as Mozart and Darwin did — there are times that you will fail. But when you fail in this manner, you learn from it. For this reason, it is important to accept and even honor your creative failures. View them not as a hindrance to creative success, but as a powerful conduit that gets you closer to your goal next time around. Accept that failure is an option, and one that you are quite capable of recovering from, with the right perspective.

In my experience, the only way to overcome your fear — or at least prevent it from sabotaging your day-to-day — is to reframe it. When you think of the framework for failure, replace the word “failure” with “learn.” That approach encourages confidence and a willingness to learn, which are vital for high-quality creative work.

At my company, C5, our vision is to help build a world where everyone can have a healthy and fulfilled life. We take this mission seriously in the work we create, the clients we work with, and the way we interact with each other. But “healthy” and “fulfilled” don’t have to translate to “rainbows and sunshine.” Fulfillment really comes from the fruit of your labor, which only grows through hard work and, sometimes, results that you weren’t hoping for. Knowing that, we believe that sometimes rising to the challenge is its own reward.

In our organization, we are pursuing an effort to remove unnecessary sources of fear and anxiety from how we approach our work. Letting our creativity come to front doesn’t mean we do things flippantly, take uncalculated risks, or play roulette. But we do cultivate environments in which we can take intentional risks.

We’ve outlined some of the pieces that, to us, comprise a calculated risk.

Determining Objectives of the Situation at Hand

Naturally, your actions are influenced by your goals. But creativity can always be cultivated within confines. In fact, structure is often beneficial. Just because you have always done something one way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. When strategizing how best to achieve a goal, consider alternate solutions, try new methods, and conducts A/B tests. For example, when Microsoft Internet Explorer requested an infographic from our agency, we ended up pitching a video concept, instead, because we felt it would deliver the message more effectively. The client agreed, and the “Child of the ‘90s” spot we created for them garnered over 49 million views.

Learning to Operate From a Place of Conviction and Commitment

If you have a unique or unusual creative idea, lead with confidence. Whether you’re pitching it to a client or trying to secure budget from management, if you drown in self-doubt at every stage, it’s likely to show. You should certainly listen to valid objections, but remember that passion and enthusiasm are contagious. Again — Microsoft would have surely rejected our pitch had we not made a well-supported, confident case for it.

Allowing the Freedom to Fail, Learn, and Grow

Nurturing an environment that not only encourages but demands experimentation is vital to push your creative boundaries. You can help cultivate this at every touch point in your organization, whether it means building out longer timelines, schedule regular out-of-the-box brainstorms, or encourage employees to work on their own passion projects. Pushing your team to experiment will only benefit you. Our agency has even closed up shop for a “hack day,” during which everyone — from accountants to designers — collaborated on creative solutions in a consequence-free environment.

Be Brave

As you face creative challenges, I encourage you not to give into fear — in fact, give it a chance. Without fear, there is no bravery. And without bravery, no risks are taken. And you can’t improve if you aren’t taking risks. Learn from what doesn’t work, and use it to build something even better.

What are some of the creatively-charged risks you’ve taken? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: Creative Work Relies on Failure
blog.hubspot.com/marketing