Core Web Vitals

The 2021 SEO Focus Will Be Google Core Web Vitals

2021 is a big year for SEO. The world’s #1 search engine will be rolling out three new signals, known as Google Core Web Vitals, that will influence how your website is ranked based on the page experience for a real-world user. These “vitals” will be a new component of the overall Google Page Experience update, designed to make the search experience easy and more relevant to its users. Although these changes will not go live until May 2021, companies need to prepare beforehand to maintain their digital presence. Here’s how to get ahead:

What are Google Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a set of factors that will measure the overall user experience of a webpage by focusing on the performance in three key areas: page load speed, interactivity, and visual stability. These “vitals” will play a big part in Google’s new “Page Experience” score, an official ranking factor set to roll out in 2021.

Each Core Web Vital has three primary performance thresholds: “good”, “needs improvement”, or “poor”. Pages should always aim to hit the “good” threshold for each metric. But thankfully, Google offers some flexibility: only 75% of page views need to fall into the “good” bucket of a metric for Google to pass your site.

Core Web Vitals ThresholdsPage Load Speed: Largest Content Paint (LCP)

Largest Content Paint (LCP) measures how fast the page loads when a user clicks on a link. As the name suggests, it refers to the time it takes from the start of the page load to when the largest content (e.g., image, video) is “painted” on the user’s screen. To provide a “good” user experience, aim for an LCP of 2.5 seconds or less.

Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID)

As a measure of interactivity, First Input Delay (FID) identifies the duration before a user can fully interact with a page. To be more specific, it measures the time it takes for a page to respond to actions, like clicks, scrolls, or keyboard inputs. Ideally, a page should be fully interactive within 100 milliseconds; otherwise, it will negatively affect the “Page Experience score”.

Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) refers to how stable a page is as it loads. If elements on a page shift around as it loads, then the page will return a high CLS. To achieve a low CLS, page elements should be fairly stable as it loads up with little to no unexpected layout changes. Pages must uphold a CLS of 0.1 or less to meet the “good” threshold.

Why Google Core Web Vitals Are Important

Core Web Vitals Page ExperienceStarting in May 2021, Core Web Vitals will become Google ranking signals. These signals will join Google’s huge Page Experience Update, which will rank pages based on additional factors such as:

The introduction of these new Core Web Vitals highlights a significant shift in how search engine rankings will work in the years to come. Unlike in the past, user experience will now play a more active role in how pages rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). This means that sites that deliver a high-quality user experience will rank higher in search results compared to poorly designed websites. From here on out, websites must be built with the user in mind to gain the upper hand in SERPs.

This is not to say content is no longer valuable to Google; content relevance is still an essential ranking factor. But according to Google, your page experience signal will act as a tie-breaker if you are competing with another page in terms of content. The key to ranking higher than your competitors in 2021 is to focus on both page experience and quality content.

Core Web Vitals are also going to become a criterion to appear in Google Top Stories. Google is planning to remove its previous AMP eligibility requirement, and will heavily rely on Core Web Vitals instead when selecting pages to display in the “Top Stories” carousel. What does this mean? Make sure 75% of your page views hit the “good” threshold on all your Core Web Vitals if you want to reach that first spot in the carousel.

Tools You Can Use to Track Your Core Web Vitals

Because Core Web Vitals will be critical to all web experiences, Google has made them easily measurable across all of its popular tools. Here are some easy tools available for those looking to easily track their Core Web Vitals and spot areas for improvement:

  • Google Search Console: Use the new Core Web Vitals report to see which pages meet the “good” threshold and which pages need more attention.
  • PageSpeed Insights: Insert a URL to test the page’s performance and gain insight into how you can improve it for each metric.
  • Web Vitals Chrome Extension: Access the three main Core Web Vitals metrics in real-time for Google Chrome and use it to troubleshoot your page.

Core Web Vitals ReportHow to Improve Your Site’s Core Web Vitals

Reports show that users are 24% less likely to abandon page loads when visiting pages that meet Core Web Vitals thresholds. Therefore, players in a competitive environment can make a big difference by improving their Core Web Vitals before their competitors. Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your Core Web Vitals before the official Google update:

Improve your Largest Content Paint (LCP) by:

  • Removing any unnecessary third-party scripts.
  • Preloading key above-the-fold content through browser caches.
  • Lazy loading your images to display only when the user scrolls down.
  • Removing considerably large page elements or substituting them with a smaller size.
  • Serving images in NEXT-GEN formats (JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP).

Improve your First Input Delay (FID) by:

  • Minimizing or deferring JavaScript so users can quickly interact with a page.
  • Removing non-critical third-party scripts.
  • Using a browser cache to preload content and respond to activity quicker.

Improve your Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) by:

  • Ensuring all your media (images, video, GIFs, etc.) size attribute dimensions are set.
  • Reserving space for images, embeds, and ads to avoid interfering with the layout.
  • Adding any new UI elements below the fold to preserve your above-the-fold content.

Key Takeaway

Google Core Web Vitals are set to become a reality soon, and companies have already started to prepare for this update. In fact, Google has reported a median 70% increase in users engaging with its tools to test their sites, most likely so they can get ahead of their competitors. Companies looking to future-proof their site and stay competitive in 2021 will need to fully embrace this new user experience approach and prepare for the Core Web Vitals update in the upcoming months.

Wondering how to future-proof your site from Google’s new update?

Choosing B2B Marketing Agency

Choosing a B2B Marketing Agency: Unique Problems Require Unique Solutions

Every business is unique, and therefore, will have unique problems. Led by our CEO Austin LaRoche, today’s B2B Marketing Agency Insights touches on why choosing a B2B marketing agency that tailors and personalizes its solutions to your unique problems is critical.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk to any company out there that’s looking to hire an agency.

Chances are, if you go and start interviewing agencies, you are going to see a lot of different approaches. One of the approaches you will see is agencies that offer you a menu of services in different packages. “Here’s our $5,000 package, our $10,000 package, and our $15,000 package.” And many times, this stuff can be a little cookie-cutter: “Well, if you choose this package, then we’ll do this much with Google Adwords, SEO, and social media.” They probably contain things you might not even need.

What’s wrong with that approach? I guess there’s no wrong approach, but the reason I philosophically disagree with this approach is because I believe you are unique. And because you are unique – every business is unique – you will have unique problems, which require unique solutions.

The only way for you to have those problems solved, in my opinion, is to choose a B2B marketing agency that is willing to listen to you. They should be able to conduct a simple SWOT analysis: “Here’s what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are.” They should be able to look at those threats, at those weaknesses, and say, “Okay, here’s how we’re going to solve the problem.” Even if some agencies have worked within your industry and have a similar client to you, it doesn’t mean that they know how to solve your exact problem.

That sort of personalization and customization is what you need at an agency because a really good agency will figure out exactly how to grow your business and how to help you grow. Not use the things that they have done with everybody else and do it the same way. There is no formula. If there was, we would all use it. We’d all be growing and dancing in the streets, and it’d be great.

There is a balance within marketing, on the science and the art. A great agency will take those two sides, put them together, and solve those unique problems.

If you are out there and looking for an agency, I always say look for the guys who want to approach your problems as if they are different from other problems. Look at the people who will treat you as if you are a unique entity. Look at the people who will solve your problems in a different way than they have all their other clients in the past. That’s the sort of personalization and customization you deserve. That is going to get the job done, which is really what’s most important.

There you go. That’s it for today. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, saying good luck growing.

show expertise

Show, Don’t Tell, Clients Your Expertise

Telling your customers that you are an “expert” isn’t enough to build credibility. Today’s B2B Marketing Agency Insights sees CEO Austin LaRoche delve into why it’s crucial to show your expertise to your customers rather than positioning yourself as one.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host, Austin LaRoche, CEO at ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk about a word that kind of drives me nuts: “Expert”.

Clients ask me all the time: “Hey, should we tell everybody that we’re experts in this field?” And I always tell them: “No.” It goes back to one of my favorite Game of Thrones quotes, “The king doesn’t have to say he’s the king.” The point of calling yourself an expert is to try and build credibility. If you’re looking to build credibility, show your expertise through the content you produce, the things you say, and the point-of-view that you can provide that nobody else can. Because being an expert means really going through that 10,000 hours.

When you haven’t gone through that 10,000 hours – but you are capable, you are on that path – maybe at that point, you want to call yourself an expert because, deep down, you are not there yet. And it’s okay; you’ll get there. But if you call yourself an expert, people will think you are a little bit of a fraud.

Let’s go back to the writer’s adage. Show, don’t tell. Show people what you can do. Talk about how you do it differently. Build content that really supports this because people will then interpret you as an expert. That’s what you are going for. The reason why you are even thinking of using the word “expert,” why you are thinking of calling yourself an expert, is because you want to be viewed as an expert.

Calling yourself an expert is not the way to do it. The way to do it is to really take all of those things that you have learned, all of that expertise you have accumulated, and share, educate, and tell the people in your industry why you are different and what you know. That will resonate with them. That will make them interpret you as an expert.

Thank you guys so much. I’m Austin LaRoche saying good luck growing.

Write with Point-of-view

The Courage It Takes to Write With A Point-of-View

Taking a stand and writing with a point-of-view takes courage. For today’s B2B Marketing Agency Insights, CEO Austin LaRoche discusses why standing by your company values can be a powerful strategy to attract customers.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche. Today, I want to talk about courage. In our previous video, we talked about content and needing to write with a point-of-view. Writing with a point-of-view is something that is really scary to a lot of people. But it doesn’t have to be – it just takes courage, because courage is contagious.

The people who want to work with you are really going to want to work with you once they see your courage. There are a lot of things going on in the United States right now. For some reason, some things that seem super simple to us like social justice and having everyone’s life being treated fairly are somehow becoming political, and you see bigger brands unafraid to go there. Nike has gone there and will show that love. That takes courage because there is a lot of people who, when those commercials come out, say, “I’m never buying Nike again, I’ll never do it.

It takes courage to take a stand because everybody who is not feeling that way, everyone who feels separately and shares those same values as Nike, goes, “Damn. Alright. That’s why I buy Nike. That’s my company. I love those guys.” That is far more powerful than being afraid to lose a couple of customers because you will not be everything to everybody. But I want to scale it back because most of us don’t need to have that extreme point-of-view. It is easy to highlight that because it is a national issue and example that we can all relate to.

In smaller doses, we can identify things that we believe that our competitors don’t do. It doesn’t make our competitors the bad guys; it just means we think differently. If we are really courageous and can step up to say, “Listen, this is how we believe things should get done,” it will make a difference. Even if you have a customer who is like, “Well, that’s not how we want to get it done,” just say, “Well, this is how we believe it should be done. This is what we believe in as a company. These are our values.” Even on a small scale, it is going to make them want to work with you more.

Values can go all over the place. It can be simple brand values; it can be operational values. Sometimes, it doesn’t take nearly as much courage as you might think. Sometimes, it just takes that commonality. But commonality can only get there when you are willing to stand for something, to do something, to get behind something. Like my company, we get behind the EOS. We love EOS. When we work with other companies that run on EOS, it is a great relationship because we think the same way. We share the values. It is not necessarily courage.

We say that [EOS] is the best way to manage clients, which is really funny because even clients who don’t run on EOS see how we manage their account, and they think, “Wow, they are super organized. I want to be around super organized people.” Now, there might be other people out there who are like, “I kind of like when things are all over the place, I like to improvise, I like to fly by the seat of my pants.” And good for them. I will courageously tell them that they are not my customer. But all jokes and examples aside, taking a stand isn’t easy. It takes courage. If you want to write with a point-of-view and be a company that can get people to actually love and care about them deeper than just products and services, you will need to have the courage to believe something, to stand for something, and to unite your customers and your company around a central theme.

Even if you don’t, I’m sure you can run a fine business. But if you want to stand out and want people to actually love you instead of “like you,” you gotta be courageous.

Good luck out there. I hope you can do it. For everybody else at ATAK interactive, I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Thank you so much and good luck growing.”

path to innovation

A Simple Path to Innovation

With so much noise surrounding the “best way to be innovative,” it’s easy to forget that the path to innovation can be simple. In today’s B2B Marketing Agency Insights, CEO Austin LaRoche breaks down the path to innovation into the three simple steps B2B businesses can follow to become more innovative.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I am your host, Austin LaRoche, CEO at ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk about innovation and a simple path to it.

The other day, I was interviewing an applicant for a position and doing what I always do. I was going through some of our core values, and one of those touched on innovation. I asked him where he had displayed some innovative techniques in a past job.

He slightly stumbled and said, “Like, man, I don’t know. I don’t think I’m an innovative person.” I was like, “Okay, expand on that.” He said, “You know what? When I get into a project, I do so much research. I get like my hands on everything. Once I do research, then I start looking at what the right way is. I start doing that and getting those reps in. Once I have that, then I just do things a little bit differently. I try and take some chances. Then I go after something new.

I just started laughing because it brought me back to the days when I started my first agency, which was more social media-driven. I would always tell clients that that path to innovation was simple. It was: evaluate, emulate, innovate.

The idea was always to, first, evaluate what you are doing and then evaluate what everybody else in the industry is doing. I don’t really love competitive analysis, but again, this is just a simple path to innovation. It’s not THE path to innovation – there are lots of different ways – but you want to look at what the competition’s doing and then see who’s doing it right.

From there, you start doing it right too. You start getting those reps in, and before you know it, you are doing everything right. You are doing things the way that the other people in the industry are doing.

At that point, that’s when you get to take chances, that’s when you get to take the next level. You would make that next jump. It is such a simple, simple path. It is not the only path. But if you are wondering, “How do I even start to become innovative? How do I become innovative in anything that I do?“, just take that path, evaluate the landscape, see who’s doing it right, and do it the way they do it.

There’s this famous story about Hunter S. Thompson and how he hand wrote Old Man and The Sea so that he could know what it was like to write a great novel, like Ernest Hemingway. That’s the sort of emulation that you want. Once you can do that, you can go all Gonzo, do your own thing, be innovative and take it to the next level.

So if you’re stuck, trying to figure out how to do something different and innovative, just try that simple path: evaluate, emulate, and then innovate. For everybody else at ATAK interactive, I’m Austin LaRoche saying, good luck growing.

Job Application Mistakes

3 Mistakes Young Marketers Make When Applying for Agency Jobs

Wondering how you can stand out as a young marketer in a sea of applicants? For today’s (slightly different) B2B Marketing Agency Insights, our CEO Austin LaRoche talks about the three biggest job application mistakes young marketers make and how they can fix them.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche CEO at ATAK Interactive. Today, we’re going to go in a little different direction. Most of this time, we’re doing tips for companies looking to market themselves better. Today, I want to focus on a different demographic. I want to focus on young marketers. I want to help them get the job of their dreams because I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting throughout the pandemic. I’ve looked at many resumes, a lot of cover letters, have had a lot of conversations, and I’m seeing three big job application mistakes. I want to make sure you guys know what they are, so hopefully, you can avoid them in the future.

Job application mistake #1 is underrating the importance of the cover letter. The cover letter is your opportunity to show a couple of things. One, that you actually want this job, not a job – this specific job, which all you have to do here is to do a little research on the company. Look at what they are doing; look at what they are putting out on social. Acknowledge it in just one sentence. I know we all have that base cover letter that we think is like the go-to, but you gotta be able to customize that specifically for the job you want because the people on the other end want to see that. They want to see that you care and that you are actually interested, specifically in them. Second, make sure your grammar is up to par. Don’t skip out on the grammar. I’m going to talk about that more in a second.

Job application mistake #2 is unfocused resumes. Do you know how many people still put that they are proficient in Microsoft Office on their resumes? My son is seven years old, and he is proficient in Microsoft Office. You’ve got to go beyond that. And I get it – especially when you’re young, you don’t have as much experience. You only have a couple of internships, but that doesn’t matter. There are opportunities to put other things on there. Show me some certifications. HubSpot, Google, Facebook – they all have opportunities for you to get certifications. Some do cost money, but most, like HubSpot, are mostly free for young marketers. So you can go in and at least show that you are trying to learn, that you are trying to build out that skillset, and that you have that hunger because that matters a lot more than the job you had at Nordstrom in college.

I’m not knocking the job you had at Nordstrom in college. We all had those jobs. It’s just doesn’t matter to me. I’m the one hiring, and I need to know where you are as a marketer, not as a hard worker. We’ll find that out later on the road.

The last thing is not understanding how this application process – from application through the interview – is an audition. Everything you do along the way, you are showcasing how you will do it with colleagues and how you would do it with clients. So it is not good if you don’t have some basic follow-up skills. Follow up every single time you talk to somebody. Always follow up. If you haven’t heard from anybody in a little while, follow up there too because it doesn’t mean you didn’t get the job. It just means that the company is really busy and they may have forgotten. But they don’t forget the person who keeps persistently following up and seeing what needs to be done.

Another thing I know we touched on it before: grammar. Anything that you are writing, whether it’s an email or a cover letter, make it nice and polished. You might text your friends with a lowercase “I” but you sure as hell cannot email a prospective employer with a lowercase “I.” Even the most like cool hip companies, they are going to look at you and go, “Dude, I don’t need you to talk to me like you’re my buddy.” You need to be polished, and you need to communicate like an adult. I see it much more than I thought I was going to. That is a big-time turn-off, not because you are doing anything wrong necessarily in your communication with me, but because that makes me think that’s how you will communicate with a client. It’s going to look incredibly unprofessional.

Those are the top three job application mistakes and how to fix them. Firstly, really get a nice cover letter that you spend a lot of time on. I know it might be more time-consuming than you want, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Secondly, get that resume to really show your skills and capabilities – essentially the right things. Lastly, treat everything like an audition – over-communicate, be incredibly prepared. Just show that’s the kind of person you will be if you go on that team in the long run.

That was a little bit different. I hope that was helpful for you guys. Good luck to anybody out there who is trying to get a job. I know it’s really hard in a pandemic. I am rooting for you. I’m Austin LaRoche, for everybody else at ATAK saying, good luck growing. Take care.

Marketing Budget

Great Marketing Starts With A Budget

Understanding your budget is crucial for an effective marketing strategy. In our B2B Marketing Agency Insights, our CEO Austin LaRoche discusses how a clear marketing budget can help you grow your business and hit your goals.

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, CEO at ATAK interactive. Today, let’s talk about something that many people have a tough time talking about: money. Understanding a marketing budget from the get-go is the only way you will have effective marketing – because everything costs money.

You gotta pay to play in some regards, but you also have to know where to start. A good agency or marketer understands that a marketing budget isn’t endless. But if they understand what it is, they will try and make the most out of it.

A lot of times, people shy away from this conversation. I know, especially as an agency, anytime I’m talking to a prospect, it seems like it can be this cat and mouse game. And it is just so unnecessary.

Because what happens when we establish a marketing budget is the people in charge, whether it’s your agency, your internal team, or your CMO, get to take that number, a monthly budget or an annual budget, and tie it to our goals. We get to say, “Now it’s in our hands. The power is in our hands to be able to take that budget, to take those dollars, and to be able to hit those goals.

What’s really important about this is that so many times, people get lost in cookie-cutter retainers and services. They get tied to the idea of the service as opposed to the solution and the goal. The goal is to grow. The goal is to hit the targets, increase the SQL, increase the conversions, and increase revenue. It’s to grow, grow, grow, and get bigger.

But, if you are sitting there just doing a bunch of services, how are you going to grow? That is why you need to really understand your budget from the get-go and have the people who are in charge of hitting those marketing goals also be in charge of that budget because their success is tied to it. Trust me, they all want to work with you as long as possible. It can be an employee; it can be an agency. The goal is to work forever.

You want to give them that control because if you don’t, they will keep doing the services. It’ll be fine, but no one is going to be paying attention to the growth. The marketing isn’t going to the growth. The marketing is going to the follow-through of a proposal that somebody put together a year before they started working with you that was filled with “ideas.” Now, they have insights, data, and real information that says, “This is how we can do this better.

That’s why you’ve got to figure out what that budget is. Be upfront with it. Don’t try and lowball either your agency or your people. Say: “What do we need? These are our goals.” Tie them into your goals. “This is what our cost per acquisition needs to be, okay? How much money do you need? If this is our cost per acquisition, how much money do you need to hit this amount of new customers?

It’s really easy to simplify it, but you have to be open with the conversation because only that transparency, only that conversation of  “This is what we can spend on marketing,” can become part of the North Star along with the goals. I don’t think you can have two North Stars. Maybe when their powers come together, the combination of goals and budget can lead the way so that your marketing team can get the most out of their efforts. So that they are not afraid to say: “Guys, we can’t spend money here anymore. We got to go over here because this is working.” Not, “Well, we said we were going to do this service for this year, and we’re going to commit this much time and budget towards it. It’s not working. It’s been six months. We should know that it’s not working, but hey, we said we were going to do it.” Because what you are doing here is you are setting people up to fail.

People want to follow through. If you follow through on services, as opposed to solutions, you are not going to be nearly as effective as if you look at the big picture – at the growth – and say, “I’m going to do whatever it takes within my powers and my budget to be able to hit those growth targets, exceed those growth targets, and make you happy so we can work together for the rest of our lives.

Thank you guys so much. For everybody else at ATAK interactive, I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Good luck growing.”

LinkedIn Outreach Standing Out

When LinkedIn Outreach Gets Too Saturated, How Do You Shine Through?

A common challenge for many sales representatives doing cold LinkedIn outreach is standing out through the noise. In today’s B2B Marketing Agency Insights, ATAK’s CEO Austin LaRoche talks about the most effective strategy to shining through and reaching your leads.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. Today, I want to talk about standing out in a crowd – particularly on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has evolved over the years to a lot of different things. One thing that’s clear about LinkedIn is that there is a lot of spam, a lot of noise, and many people who want stuff from me.

I have been thinking a lot – how do you stand out in that crowd? When you are doing LinkedIn outreach, you are doing everything you can to make a name for yourself. It hit me the other day when a nice guy sent a request to me because all of a sudden, it was like, “There. That worked.

I always say that cold outreach has to be serendipitous. Somebody has to be offering you something that they have – that is what you want – at a time when you really need it. Just from a cold lead perspective, a complete cold call.

So this guy, who reached out to me on LinkedIn, did not ask me for anything. All he asked is if I wanted to be on his podcast. A lot of people like to go on podcasts and shows to talk about themselves. He was offering me a forum. I don’t know how many people listen to his podcast, but what I can tell you is, I said yes – “Yeah, that sounds cool. I’ll go on a podcast. I’ll talk about what I do on a podcast.

What is funny is that years ago, I went on someone’s radio show, and it was a lot of fun. We had a good time, and it was a good setup. I never really got a lot of details. I just went on-air, and it was on one of these Sirius stations or something like that. I didn’t know that the radio show even existed. I didn’t know anyone who listened to it. I doubt anyone ever did. But what I know is that after I was a guest on that guy show, he had an associate who was calling me quite regularly to see if I needed his company’s services. This associate was just annoying; he wasn’t good. But, if he was better and I needed those services, I would probably be interested in moving forward with him because he had done me a solid – I was on his radio show.

What it comes back to is that if you are going to reach out to somebody on LinkedIn or any of these other channels, instead of going in and saying, “Hey, this is who I am. Do you need me?”, offer them something of value. Give them an opportunity to speak about something in their industry that they have always felt strongly about but never really had a forum for it. It can even be just as simple as a podcast.

If you are going to reach out to people to try and connect with them, stop going in asking for stuff. Go in and see what you can give to them – if you even want them to enter your orbit. This is a little tip on standing out on LinkedIn, where it is so saturated: don’t go in and say, “Hey, I think our companies would be aligned. I think that what you do is really interesting to me. We’ve helped people just like you in the past.” Go in and say, “I got this really cool thing that you might like and would make you look good. Tell me if you wanna be a part of it.” Now that is a heck of a LinkedIn outreach strategy.

That’s it for today. I’m Austin LaRoche. This is B2B Marketing Agency Insights, saying good luck growing. Thanks, guys.

Brand Messaging

Exaggerating the Problem to Define the Solution

A strong B2B marketing strategy is predicated on a clear understanding of your target market’s pain points. For this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, our CEO Austin LaRoche explains why you should emphasize a problem to drive your brand messaging.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host, Austin LaRoche. Today, we are gonna talk about exaggerating problems to define your solution. One of my favorite marketing case studies of the last 10-20 years has to be Casper Mattress. For anyone unfamiliar with Casper Mattress, they were the mattress company that disrupted the entire mattress industry. They came along with a simple premise (brand messaging) of “Why on earth would you want to go into a mattress store when you can buy your mattress online?

To me, this was preposterous. I love going to the mattress store. You go in, you lay on a million beds, you find which one is the most comfortable for you, and then, you purchase. You are good to go from there. But to many people, Casper said, “Yeah, that is a big problem. Oh man, do you really want mattress salespeople to come in and talk to you?” It never bothered me, but obviously, it was bothering other people. They disrupted an industry.

Where it’s really interesting, I think, is so many times in our day-to-day lives, we become prisoners to our own messed up way of living. For instance, I like to cook, and I currently have a can opener. It doesn’t work really well, so I have to do all these things to make it work. I go to the grocery store every single week. There are can openers there. There are certain ones in my budget, and yet, for some reason, I don’t go and buy a new can opener. I’m so used to living in my messed up world.

What happens a lot of times is your consumers, your target market, live in a messed up world. They know they are living in a messed-up world. They kind of accepted it, so they need to keep being pushed to see what the better world looks like; what is the promised land?

By exaggerating the problem and saying, “Look, you might think it’s not a big deal, but it really is. Your life could be so much better if you just did this, if you just did that.” That is a solid marketing strategy because of what you are doing and what you are saying to your target market, which is your brand messaging, is this: “Stop living in this messed up world when things could be so much better. All you have to do is go with me.” That’s it.

If you are out there, I want you to start thinking, “What problems are my customers facing that maybe they are just living with that maybe they are okay with it right now?” But they shouldn’t be because if they invest in you and invest in your product or your service, their life will be a lot better. What you have to do is convert them to the notion that their life will be a lot better with your product and service. A great way to do that is to exaggerate that problem and drive that brand messaging about how your solution will make it all better.

That’s it today. Thank you guys so much. I appreciate your time. For everybody else at ATAK Interactive, I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Good luck growing.”

Balance Creative and Efficiency

The Balance of Creative Genius and Getting Sh*t Done

Balancing creativity with efficiency is crucial for the success of any marketing campaign. For this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, our CEO Austin LaRoche discusses what makes this balance between creativity and efficiency essential and how to achieve it.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk about a balancing act, and it’s not an easy one. What we are going to talk about is the balance between creative genius and getting stuff done.

I have many clients, and some of them range a little too extreme in one way or the other. Either we are always taking forever because we are waiting for the perfect idea or something that we think is so grand that it could go – wait for it – “viral.” Conversely, I have others who are like, “Just go, just do it, pass, try, go.” And it’s like, well, we should put a little bit of thought into the creative because the truth is it’s a balancing act. No matter what level of marketing – it can be a simple ad campaign, or it can be a big, full-scale national print, TV, radio, everything campaign – you need to be able to have a balancing act of the creative and the “We got to go.” This is because we always see paralysis by analysis over here with the creatives. “Oh, I don’t know if this is right. I don’t know. I think it’s good.” But at some point, you got to make a decision. And then, on the other side, where you have the “Oh, alright, just test creative, it doesn’t matter” people, you are losing a lot of dollars to testing by not really coming up with something that’s clever or speaks to your customer.

So how do you balance that? I think a good way to start is to start with that “Build-Measure-Learn” concept from startups. You do want to do some testing, but also give yourself some time and effort on the creative side to at least have a few different options where you go, “You know what? I’m proud of this. This is unique. This is cool. This is different. This is something that I want to hang my hat on.” I really do feel like if you can combine those two things – if you can balance those things – that is when the marketing gets really strong because part of what you are fighting is the art versus the science.

Oh my God, this is the big, beautiful, pretty thing that people are just going to connect with.” When you hear the numbers telling you how people are connecting, how people are converting, you gotta be able to blend them. It’s always great when you have people on your team who have both those skillsets and can work congruently together to get the job done.

What’s not good is when you are way too far in the extreme, one way or the other. When you are building out your teams or building out your marketing campaigns, give yourself enough time to get the right creative genius you need to be proud of and also, go out there and get stuff done. Avoid that paralysis by analysis. Do some testing, see how everything is working, and then get these two functions to grow together, to market together, and eventually thrive together.

That’s it for today. Again, I’m your host, Austin LaRoche, saying good luck growing.

Marketing to Sales Map

The Marketing-to-Sales Map

The Marketing to Sales (M2S) Map was designed to help B2B agencies organize an efficient action plan based on the customer lifecycle. In this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, CEO of ATAK Interactive and creator of the Purposeful Marketing Method, Austin LaRoche, explains how to use this granular document to help your company get the results you want with your clients.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, CMO, now CEO, at ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk to you about one of my favorite creations: Marketing to Sales maps, also known as M2S maps.

This granular document is based on the foundation of what we call a customer lifecycle. Attracting the prospect, connecting with the prospect, closing the prospect into a customer, and delighting the customer. With the customer lifecycle as our foundation, we then start outlining a couple of different things.

The first thing we do are actions that we want to take in each stage of the customer lifecycle.

The next column we have is the purpose, goal, or function. This is where we identify why we are taking those actions. This is really important because sometimes you’ve got the best of intentions, but maybe the wrong action. Maybe you are advertising on Facebook when you should be advertising on Instagram – and that’s okay. You’ll learn as you start executing these maps where you need to change things. But you always need to know why you are doing them. That’s why the intention is so important and the purpose, role, or function.

Next up, we have success metrics. Every action that we are doing needs to have a success metric tied to it. Let me give you an example: if you’re doing search engine optimization, then you are probably going to look at a success metric, like organic search traffic, and you want to be able to track this. You want to have the metric tied to the action because once you have that, then you can create the next important part of the plan, which is the weekly goal.

The weekly goal is essential because it ties right into the success metric. The weekly goal not only tells us what metric we’re chasing but also tells us where we need to hit every single week.

Next up, the responsible party. Listen, you can’t be accountable to a Marketing To Sales Map without knowing who’s in charge of every action you’re taking. That doesn’t always mean they have to do all the work. But they are the ones who are in charge and who are overseeing that that part of the Marketing To Sales Map is being executed.

Lastly, we have costs. We have to work everything pragmatically and within budget. If we identify how much we want to spend, then we can really put the right dollars to the right actions in these Marketing To Sales Maps. We are making sure that we stay on budget.

When you look at the Marketing To Sales Map – as a whole – you have the actions you will take in each part of the customer life cycle. You know why you are doing them because of the purpose, goal, or function of each action. You have a success metric tied to each action that you are doing. You have the weekly goal for each action to ensure that the work is actually effective and is getting you the results you want. You have the responsible party, so you know who’s in charge of ensuring everything at every step in that lifecycle. And lastly, you stick to a budget by identifying the costs of each action.

It’s a very granular process that will help your marketing efforts tremendously because it outlines everything you need to do, why you need to do it, how it can be successful, who’s in charge, and how much it costs. You can’t ask for more than that.

Thank you so much for your time today, and as always, good luck growing.

Clients on EOS

Running Your Clients on EOS

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a staple for the organization and success of ATAK Interactive. For this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, CEO Austin LaRoche shares some tips on how you can use this system to enhance agency-client relationships.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I am your host, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive – which stands for accountable, tenacious, agile, and kind, all day, every day. Today, we are having a little fun off the top, but let’s talk a little bit about EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, and how marketing agencies can utilize the system to enhance their agency-client relationship.

If you are not familiar with EOS worldwide, check them out: eosworldwide.com. It’s an amazing system. It has really helped accelerate growth in my business as well as many of my clients. Check it out if you are unfamiliar with it, and come back when you are done. We would love to talk to you a bit more once you understand how you can really strengthen the relationship between a client and agency by utilizing EOS.

The best way to work with a client utilizing EOS is to do a run-through of what a weekly Level 10 would look like. Most agencies have some sort of weekly touchpoint, so when they transform that touchpoint into a level 10, that’s a great start.

Here is what a Level 10 would look like between an agency and a client. You start with a segue – much less formal than a “good news personal, good news business” – and everyone goes around. Everybody gets on the zoom call. Everyone gets on the conference line. “Hey, how was your weekend?” Boom.

Then, you dive into the scorecard. The scorecard is a list of KPIs that you need to look at week over week. The reason you look at them weekly is because data dictates behavior. What we really want to do is check out:

  • How many conversions did we get?
  • What were their CPC and our Google AdWords this week?
  • How many sequences did we send out for the sales team?

You want those numbers to be more conversion-based than vanity metric-based because everyone hates vanity metrics, especially your clients. Go down and check out the most important numbers that matter. Go through them, see how they compare to the last week, and see if you can find any trends. Hopefully, those are successful trends.

Next, jump in and go through the rocks. Rocks are the most important things you want to get done in the quarter. This is something you need to figure out before you start Level 10s with your client. “Hey, what are our quarterly rocks?” One of the things with EOS is they look for an 80% completion rate with your rocks. They want that because they want you to challenge yourself. If you are getting a 90 or 100% percent on your rocks every quarter, chances are you are not really challenging yourself. That’s all right, but when you are working with a client, it is less about challenging yourself and more about being accountable for what you say you will do. So you want to hit 100% of your rocks if you are working with a client. When you say, “We’re going to do this, and we want it to perform like that,” you need to make sure that is what you are doing because it is more of a promise than a challenge.

Next up in a traditional level 10 are customer headlines. Scrap them. They have nothing to do with this.

Moving on: the to-do list. What you want to do is go through your to-do list and make sure you did all the things you said you were going to do. The client has done all of the things they said they were going to do. Everyone is on the same page for holding each other accountable.

Next up is IDS. Now, IDS is typically taking issues and figuring out how you identify, discuss, and solve them. “Issues” is a scary word in an agency-client relationship, so scrap that and call it “Project Updates”. What you are going to do within these project updates is go through all the issues. This is how we are doing; this is what we need a little feedback on; what do you think we should be doing about this?

Bring the issues in, but don’t call them issues because it is slightly more alarming to a client, especially if they are not familiar with EOS. If they are familiar with EOS, they know the system, and you are probably good. But if not, call them “Project Updates” and go through the issues at hand. Once you go through and solve everything, all the issues turn into to-dos.

At the end of the meeting, you recap the to-dos, rate the meeting – rinse, wash, and repeat. It’s really easy. It will be a great way for you to hold your own work more accountable and help get more traction towards the vision that your clients have set on the work you are doing together.

That’s it. It’s simple. All you have to do is update a weekly scorecard, create quarterly goals, hold yourself accountable for your to-dos and projects. You manage that in an hour or less meeting every week, and it keeps all of your projects moving. It keeps communication between you and your client top-notch. All expectations are set and are very clear to all parties.

It is a really great way to organize your collaboration and keep communication really tight. Expectations are clear in the relationship between the client and the agency.

I hope that was helpful to you. Again, I’m Austin LaRoche for ATAK Interactive, saying good luck growing.

Certified HubSpot Platinum Agency

ATAK Interactive Named HubSpot Platinum Agency

Two years ago, we at ATAK Interactive made the decision to become a HubSpot Solutions Partner. Within a year, we reached the HubSpot Gold Agency tier. Today, ATAK Interactive is proud to announce that we have grown into a Certified HubSpot Platinum Agency.

As a B2B Marketing Agency dedicated to helping clients achieve measurable success and growth, we are honored to be part of the HubSpot Partner Program and leverage the best technology and marketing stack in the industry.

HubSpot has the absolute best tool in the marketplace to align sales and marketing, but we have to say this: we aren’t huge fans of HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing (“if you build it, they will come”) methodology. Why? We don’t think it’s the best approach to growing B2B companies or the best way to use the HubSpot platform itself. We are constantly seeing a disconnect between how the platform supports heavily touted Inbound Strategy compared to what it is actually great at doing.

At ATAK Interactive, we look past the outdated “Inbound Marketing” strategy and use HubSpot for what it really is – a robust platform that aligns and maximizes your sales and marketing. And it’s this primary focus on sales enablement that has allowed us to reach this exciting new Platinum milestone.

“ATAK Interactive has been able to consistently win new accounts against larger, more established agencies because we aren’t prisoners to the ‘HubSpot prototype.’”

– CEO, Austin LaRoche

ATAK’s goal is to help clients achieve measurable growth, to be a sales team’s best friend and increase their revenue. And we’ve found that one of the only ways to achieve this sustainable revenue growth is by aligning sales and marketing teams. When a sales team knows how its marketing team is performing for each contact or what the prospect is actually interested in, they’ll be able to change the conversation accordingly to deliver content that is relevant and adds value. These two siloed divisions can play well together with the right technology, and that technology is HubSpot.

With HubSpot, both marketing and sales teams begin working from a central CRM. This means that they are using the same tools, which will ultimately unite them around the same data and empower them to create personalized buying experiences for clients. In a nutshell, HubSpot empowers marketing teams to support sales efforts. And it’s for this reason that our clients love HubSpot! They see actual, measurable growth by aligning their sales and marketing activities. And because of all the success our clients have had, they are always looking for more features and capabilities to unlock, try out, and leverage in order to enhance their current workflows and maximize the use of this incredible platform.

What’s interesting is that HubSpot seems to be gradually switching gears and focusing more on sales enablement as well. Instead of supporting “Inbound”, many of the newer features and capabilities, such as the new Target Accounts dashboard, have been more focused on unifying a company’s sales and marketing workflows into a single growth mindset. As HubSpot transitions into a real growth platform, we feel it’s truly an exciting time to be a HubSpot Platinum Partner.

If you’d like to learn more about HubSpot and why it’s such a powerful tool, schedule a consultation with a Certified HubSpot Platinum Agency today!

HubSpot Target Accounts

How to Use HubSpot’s New Target Accounts

As more and more B2B buyers expect and value personalization, account-based marketing (ABM) has captured the attention of B2B companies looking for real, sustainable business growth with a more targeted approach to selling to companies and prospects. The process aligns your marketing and sales teams from the get-go, promoting long-term business growth, delighting customers, and boosting revenue.

If you want to be successful with account-based marketing, you need to invest in new resources. One such resource is a software with ABM capabilities such as HubSpot and its new Target Accounts. Not only does it make executing and monitoring an ABM strategy easier, but Target Accounts also helps you build a strong foundation for your strategy. It comes equipped with one of the strongest prospecting tools on the market, letting you implement ABM efficiently and effectively. But before we delve into how you can leverage HubSpot’s new Target Accounts, let’s take a quick look at what account-based marketing is, and why it’s so important. 

Account-Based Marketing Explained

Traditional vs Account Based Marketing Funnel

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is an account-centric growth strategy in which marketing and sales collaborate to develop highly targeted and personalized buying experiences to secure a specific company or account. 

For a simpler explanation, imagine a traditional marketing funnel flipped upside down. Instead of casting a wide net and then narrowing your potential buyers down to qualified leads, ABM consists of identifying exactly who you want to target first and creating personalized campaigns around each of these target accounts. These campaigns often contain messaging designed to address the specific needs and motivations of a target account to immediately engage them and bring them into the buyer journey. 

But why should you have account-based marketing as part of your 2020 marketing toolbox?

  1. Higher ROI. Since ABM involves focusing on accounts that are likely to convert, companies can eliminate unqualified prospects early on. Doing so can minimize time wasted, save costs, and lower risks. In fact, ITSMA reported that 87% of marketers that measure ROI saw ABM outperforming every other marketing investment. 
  2. Marketing and sales alignment. For ABM to be effective, marketing and sales teams must be aligned in order to accurately identify target accounts, map them out, and align on sales initiatives. So ABM essentially accelerates this alignment, allowing companies to experience 36% higher customer retention rates as a result. 
  3. Higher quality leads. With such a high degree of personalization, ABM has proven to be successful at generating higher quality leads and maintaining customer relationships. McKinsey & Company found that personalization reduces acquisition cost by as much as 50% and can increase revenue by up to 15%. 

Now that you understand the basics of account-based marketing, here is how to get the most out of HubSpot’s Target Accounts and elevate your marketing strategy.

How to Get the Most Out of HubSpot’s Target Accounts

HubSpot’s new Target Accounts feature can make selling to high-value accounts easier than ever. With both your marketing and sales teams working from a central CRM, your teams can finally use shared tools that unite them around the same data and empower them to create seamless buying experiences for your highest-value accounts. 

Let’s take a look at some of the overall features of this new HubSpot tool.

Target Accounts Dashboard

HubSpot Target Accounts
Courtesy of HubSpot

The Target Accounts dashboard is the new command center for your marketing and sales teams to monitor all your ABM efforts. This dashboard will help you see the overall progress of your strategy and keep track of your target accounts. By default, it gives you a birds-eye view of: 

  • Current target accounts;
  • Accounts with open deals;
  • Value of those open deals; 
  • Accounts missing a buying role; and 
  • Accounts missing decision-makers.

This dashboard also allows you to get more granular as needed. With filters, you’ll be able to see critical information such as which accounts currently have no open tasks, no logged calls, no meetings scheduled, or no open deals associated with them.  

To fully maximize your Target Accounts dashboard, we recommend that you, first, identify what makes an account a high-value “target” for your company. Look at some of your largest deals and most successful customers. What do they have in common? The common traits you identify among your target accounts (e.g. industry, company size, annual revenue, location) will give you – and HubSpot – a clearer idea of what your best-fit target accounts will look like. 

Once you have a clearer idea of your target accounts “persona”, you’ll have the option to assign an “Ideal Customer Profile Tier” to these contacts. This custom property defines how close a company matches your “ideal customer profile”. Tier 1 indicates companies who are the best fit for your business while Tier 3 is meant for those worth selling to, but are not the priority. Tier 2 companies are good-fits for your company, but may not bring in as much revenue as Tier 1. By assigning these tiers, you’ll get an overall picture of how closely your chosen target accounts are aligned with your strategy. 

Account Overview

From Target Accounts, you’ll get access to an “account overview” summary for each company in your HubSpot CRM. This account overview gives you a quick, high-level view of where each of your target accounts is relative to the buyer journey.

 You will have records of a specific company’s recent activities (i.e, emails, meetings, and calls), associated contacts, internal stakeholders, and any tracked page views from associated contacts. In addition, you will be able to see all deals associated with that company, helping you keep an eye on how effective your marketing and sales efforts are while easily cross-referencing your most recent communication with any associated contacts.  

Prospects

HubSpot Prospects
Courtesy of HubSpot

Also living in your Target Accounts dashboard is arguably one of the most important features in HubSpot that will enhance your ABM strategy: the Prospects tool. This Prospects tool shows which companies have perused your site – as well as how many pages they viewed – but have not yet converted on a form. It essentially gives you a list of qualified leads that have started the B2B buyer journey. As a bonus, you’ll be able to easily tag a prospect as a target account and involve them in your ABM efforts.

Getting familiar with the Prospects tool will make it easier for you to find and track some of the high quality accounts you never considered. Equipped with this information, your sales team will have insight into which companies they should be actively cold-calling or emailing. It’s an extremely powerful tool, delivering detailed insight into the companies you should be targeting as well as their level of interest. 

Recommendations

In addition to the Prospects tool, HubSpot provides another way to find target accounts. As you mark companies as Target Accounts in your database, HubSpot’s algorithm will begin to understand the criteria you use to categorize your high-value accounts. No matter what metric you used to categorize companies as “target accounts”, HubSpot’s AI will learn what types of companies to look for. Simply speaking, it automates the search process for new best-fit target accounts.

When used together, both Prospects and the Recommendations creates a list of sales qualified leads that your marketing and sales teams can immediately connect with and create personalized experiences for. They enable your marketing and sales teams to focus on other valuable activities like connecting with decision-makers and moving them through the sales funnel, which is why we recommend HubSpot when executing an ABM strategy.

Ready to Get Started With HubSpot’s Target Accounts?

Account-Based Marketing helps your company attract high-value accounts through personalized approaches and forge deeper relationships with them. As such, ABM campaigns require seamless collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. But how can you foster this collaboration? The answer is simple: by leveraging software that supports ABM, like HubSpot. Especially with the Target Accounts feature automating the research process and acting as a central database for all your high-value target accounts, both your marketing and sales teams will be able to work together and close deals much more efficiently.

Interested in using HubSpot to automate your sales pipeline?

What is Sales Enablement

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales Enablement is a simple concept with a big impact on the future of B2B marketing. In this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive, breaks down how Sales Enablement has grown into an important tool for sales teams and how you can equip your team with the resources they need to close more deals.

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk about sales enablement. Sales enablement could not be more straightforward. It’s simply providing the service of providing the resources that sales teams need to close more deals.

Now, sales enablement in one way, shape, or form has been around for a while. If you look at one aspect of sales enablement – content – then you will see old-school agencies developing nice print ads, trade show booth designs, that kind of stuff. Nowadays, it is much different. You need to help create interactive presentations, videos, the type of tools that salespeople need in our age of virtual selling. 

Beyond content, technology and automation are other major areas you can use to help your sales team. A great way of doing this is to utilize something like HubSpot sequences, where you can put prospects into automated outreach and help salespeople “touch base” with cold leads and begin a conversation with them. This takes away a lot of the “grind” part of a salesperson’s job that they don’t typically like. Let’s be honest – they are not necessarily that good at it either. Some are, and I mean no disrespect to the grinders out there who are hammering the emails and phone calls out. But I think most salespeople like that feeling of, “Okay, I’ve got someone interested, and now I get to put on a show.” Nevertheless, I digress. 

Another great way that you can help a sales team out is with really good reporting. If you are helping them utilize CRM, you can get data from all these different marketing sources. You can see where different leads are coming in, where they are dropping off in the funnel, and start producing that type of data to your sales team. It helps give them the intelligence they need to see where they can be better to move those customers down in the funnel. Reporting is an area that gets overlooked so many times because people think, “Oh, that’s a bunch of numbers.” But those numbers tell a very big story, and marketing is all about storytelling in one way, shape, or form, whether it’s internal or external. Utilizing that reporting, telling the story of how you are doing and where you can improve, is another great way to help out sales teams so they can do what they do best, which is close more deals.

Okay, that’s just a quick overview of what sales enablement is. If you really want to get into the weeds and learn more, I suggest you check out ATAK Interactive’s website. Take a look, learn a little more, and don’t be a stranger if you have any questions. Thank you guys so much for watching today. I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Good luck growing.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

The LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn has long been a popular and effective place to find and nurture sales leads. But with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, sales teams now have even more power to discover leads effectively and manage their pipelines. In this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive, gives insight into what sets the LinkedIn Sales Navigator apart from other agency tools.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host, Austin LaRoche, CEO at ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk about LinkedIn Sales Navigator and my two favorite parts about it.

Now, the first one is its ability to find a target market. I hear companies all the time saying, “We should buy a list. Should we buy this list?” And it is a list of thousands of people with mildly accurate information. It is just so annoying. But with LinkedIn Sales Navigator – and all those great sales teams know this – there is no better way to hone in and find your target market. You can use all of the different parameters, such as job title, company size, and geographic location. It is so robust. I can’t recommend LinkedIn Sales Navigator enough to find your target market. There is no better tool in the world at “finding.” If I said to you, “Give me your top 20 prospects in the world, exactly who you are looking for,” there is no better tool or better way to find them universally than LinkedIn Sales Navigator. I know some of you probably have some sneaky industry-focused way of doing this. But universally speaking, for all of us, the best way is LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The demographics are incredible.

Now, the second-best part of LinkedIn Sales Navigator is seeing those people who maybe you don’t like, or maybe they passed you up in a job interview years ago, checking up on you. When you see those people looking at your profile, when you see those people keeping tabs on you, seeing what you are up to, there is no better feeling in the world. When you go through all sorts of professional up and downs, we have our allies. I don’t want to say we have our enemies, but I will say we have people that maybe we butt heads with. So when those people are checking on what you are doing – when you are not even thinking about them at all – wow! Not a better feeling in the world.

So go ahead. This is not like an advertisement for LinkedIn Sales Navigator. I actually love the tool for those two reasons. It helps me figure out where my target market is and helps me feel better about myself when I see people from my past trying to keep tabs on me.

There you go. This is my raw, honest answer. This is what you get at B2B Marketing Agency Insights, for better or for worse. Again, I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Good luck growing.

B2B Sales Enablement Marketing Agency

The B2B Marketing Agency of 2030

Being forward-thinking and prepared for the future is crucial to success. In this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive, gives a glimpse of what B2B marketing will be like in 10 years and how you can start to get ahead now. 

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host, Austin Laroche, CEO at ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to look into the future, 10 years from now. It’s 2030 (hoping that the coronavirus is gone or at least somewhat under control), and we are looking at what a B2B marketing agency will look like.

What’s funny is the B2B marketing agency of 2030 will solely be a sales enablement agency. Over the next decade, we are going to watch technology, like HubSpot and Salesforce, take the silos of sales and marketing and bring them together. We are going to see the rise of a “smarketing” department or a growth department. People in the B2B marketing space who are going to get paid will be the ones who simply put their value on how much they can help you grow, how their services support your growth, how their KPIs are conversion-focused – well beyond something like an MQL – and are all about “How will our work and our support help you sell more?

I don’t really know anybody who thinks differently. If you look at HubSpot and how they have changed some of their education, they started to back off from the inbound methodology a lot. The reason why is because marketing agencies are increasingly transforming into these great sales partners. We went over what a sales enablement agency will do in the Sales Enablement video, but it is only going to get more and more intense on this side.

The big difference is that expectation, in my opinion. What are you looking for in your marketing agency? I have been in so many different meetings with companies who talked about past agencies they have worked with and being really excited about things such as ranking high and relevant searches. But when they captured those keywords, it didn’t lead to more business. Maybe it was because their landing pages weren’t converting. Maybe it wasn’t because their product was that good. But the marketing agency didn’t have an answer; all they would say is “Well, we brought you the traffic. You didn’t convert it.

The thing that I can’t wait to see with marketing agencies is eliminating the excuses – every excuse that salespeople have hated for so long. These excuses are all going to go out of the window because really great marketing agencies are going to help enable those sales and they are going to get those results. They will not blame the lack of results on a sales team or some service they could be offering.

It is going to be really cool to watch the B2B marketing agency landscape change because in 2030, every great agency is going to be a sales enablement agency. Every great agency is going to plant their flag in the ground, in the fact that they can help you grow. They can show you exactly how to do it and if something doesn’t work along the way, there is no way out for them. What they do has to succeed.

That is what a great sales enablement agency is going to do and that is what 2030’s B2B marketing agency is going to look like. All right, thank you guys again for listening today. I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Good luck growing.”

HubSpot Secrets

4 Secrets to HubSpot

Are you getting the most of HubSpot? In today’s episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive, lets you in on a few secrets about our beloved marketing software, HubSpot.

 

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive. I’m a company man today, wearing the tee and digging it. I hope you guys are too. Today, I want to talk about four secrets. More specifically, the four secrets about HubSpot that most people don’t know about.

Secret #1: HubSpot doesn’t run on the inbound methodology anymore, which is a good thing. Again, for those who don’t know, the inbound methodology, which I’ve criticized many times in my life, is:

If you blog it, they will come. We are going to create all this content and people are going to read it. They are going to read through all of it. Then we are going to slowly get them down the funnel and they are going to love everything we do. They are gonna take a very long time to make a decision, but then once they do, we are going to get them because we are going to create the best content.

I think it is still a very noble idea. But at the end of the day, it’s not really what works. What’s funny is HubSpot is really pushing a lot of their sales enablement features right now because they have built a tool that can align sales and marketing like there’s no tomorrow. It is unbelievable. It is such an amazing piece of software I can’t recommend it enough. So what they are pushing right now is how the tool can help close more deals. They have a lot of sales training for their agencies. They also have sales training for everybody else, like an individual who is looking just to sharpen his or her skills.

But, that’s the thing. HubSpot doesn’t really have this “If you blog it, they will come” mentality. They have something called sequences that automates outreach, cold outreach, to people you never met before. This is the exact opposite of the inbound methodology, and yet, they support it. Why? Because it works and it’s a little bit more effective than what the inbound methodology used to be. Not saying that it didn’t have its heyday and that it wasn’t okay way back when. I’m just saying HubSpot is not using it and neither am I.

All right, secret #2: a lot of the HubSpot agencies are still prisoners to the prototype. HubSpot is doing their best. They are trying to train everybody. I was looking at some of the new agency tools, recently – or sorry, “solutions partner” – educational tools, and a lot of things that they are talking about now are good: customizing services for clients, being able to really survey problems, not putting clients in a blanket retainer of, “We are going to write 10 blogs for you this month. And then we are going to create two eBooks.” Essentially, they are honing in on how solution partners can build out something that’s a little bit more effective. But you still see it a lot.

I can’t believe some of the agencies I’ve gone up against in pitches and actually won. What the feedback has been every time is, “You were the only person who told me how to use HubSpot to increase my sales. Everybody else showed me how they were going to write blogs, how I would get higher on search result pages. But you were the one who focused on, ‘How do I sell more? How is ATAK Interactive going to help me grow my business?‘”

Secret #3: one of the best things about HubSpot is the integrations. The HubSpot integrations are out of this world. I have a lead developer who looks at this stuff all the time and he said he has never seen a cleaner API in his life. And it shows. I love the HubSpot-Slack integration – that’s amazing – and the different form integrations with TypeForm and Survey Monkey.

Every single time I have tried to make something work with HubSpot, it has been so seamless. Anytime there isn’t a native integration, I have seen my Technical Marketing Director use Zapier to connect HubSpot with all sorts of different elements. It is amazing that they have built a tool that can become this centralized hub and can do so many things with the technology we already use. They talk about the integrations a little bit, but it is one of the main strengths that doesn’t get discussed enough.

Secret #4: I alluded to it at the top, but HubSpot is more of a sales tool than a marketing tool. It wasn’t always that way, but it really is a tool that salespeople need to be able to close more deals. It helps marketing teams bring in more leads, qualify them, and organize them in a way that is easy for a sales team to discover. That alignment that we always talk about is there, but it is also a skewed alignment. It is aligned towards helping sales more than it is marketing. You want to know why? Because sales is more important than marketing (says the guy who runs a B2B Marketing Agency).

This is true because sales is what fuels growth. So HubSpot is more of a sales tool than a marketing tool. It doesn’t mean the marketing tools aren’t great. You can develop really great workflows. You schedule social media posts. You can build out great landing pages. The tools are fine, but it is how those tools work and how they support the sales operation. This is the real strength of HubSpot.

I love HubSpot. I think it is an amazing tool. Those are four secrets that I have learned about it, working with it over the past two years. I have a few more up my sleeve, but I don’t know if I’m going to divulge them today. To learn more, you may just have to reach out. Don’t be a stranger if you’re interested. I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Good luck growing.”

Content Not Resonating

Why Your Content is Not Resonating

Content creation is an incredibly important aspect of your marketing strategy and can be extremely impactful if done well. During this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, ATAK Interactive CEO Austin LaRoche pinpoints some of the reasons why your content might not be resonating and what you can do to improve your content marketing strategy.

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, CEO at ATAK Interactive. Hope everybody is doing well today. I want to talk to you about something that is very important to me and, probably, something that is very important to you. It is most likely a problem that you have seen more often than you would like. And that is: why your content is not resonating.

There is this great book by Seth Godin called This is Marketing and he uses this mantra repeatedly, which is “People like us do things like this.” What he is really prompting companies to do is to write with a point of view. Develop content with a point of view. This takes courage because when you write with a point of view, you risk losing customers. You risk losing prospects.

But why would you want to do that? Well, what happens is when you write with a point of view, you are going to separate yourself from your competitors and signal to your type of people. You are going to have people who say, “Man, this is a company that believes in the same thing that I do, and I am going to go as far as I can with them. These are my people.” 

I understand this is a big leap for companies to make. PR companies have us taught forever, “Don’t say anything offensive. Don’t say anything that might turn anybody off.” But, in this world – the saturated market where there are so many businesses and so many competitors – the only way you are going to stand out is to have the courage to say something.

Moving forward, bring a point of view when you are developing content. It doesn’t mean you have to be controversial. But what you do have to do is say, “This is what matters to me. And maybe others in the industry don’t actually believe what I’m saying, but this is what I believe, okay? And if you believe the same thing that I do, if this resonates with you, then we are going to be perfect partners. We are going to be the company for you. But if you don’t believe what I have to say, go with somebody else.” And that takes some courage. 

Do you have that courage? Is that important to you?

If you can take that leap and develop content that is going to connect with your target audience, I think you will see a lot more improvements in your marketing. You are going to see customers more delighted than they have ever been. You are going to see your referrals go up, and you are going to see the wrong people leave and the right people enter.

I’m excited to see what you can do. Step up, write with a point of view, and let’s get that content to really start resonating with our target audience. All right, that’s it today. As always, good luck growing.

Marketing Qualified Leads

Why Nobody Cares About Marketing Qualified Leads

Marketing Qualified Leads might have a nice ring to it, but they aren’t a relevant marketing performance metric anymore. After all, most MQLs do not convert into customers. In today’s episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, Austin LaRoche, CEO at ATAK Interactive, discusses why you should actually be tracking Sales Qualified Leads instead as part of your marketing and sales strategy.

Video transcription below:

Welcome to B2B Marketing Insights. I’m your host, Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive. Today, I want to talk to you about the MQL and why it just doesn’t matter. For anyone who’s unfamiliar, MQL stands for marketing qualified lead. So in a standard sales cycle, if you are bringing inbound leads in, you want to make sure that they are “marketing qualified,” which means they are somewhat interested. Now, to get the sales qualified, they have got to go further down the buyer’s journey and have that mind frame of wanting to purchase.

Now, the problem with the MQL is that like many metrics, it is something that agencies typically tip their cap to. It has become a little bit of a vanity metric because if you are really trying to help a sales team grow businesses and close deals, then the MQL doesn’t matter.

It reminds me of this famous scene from The Wire with Stringer Bell. If you are not familiar, he talks to a few of his producers and tells them that they are bringing in too many “40 degree days”. Then he goes on this explicit-laced tirade about how if it is too cold, everyone is all up in arms; if it is too warm, everybody is a little bit too excited. But if it is 40 degrees, nobody cares. And that’s kind of what the MQL is – nobody cares. If you are not getting any leads, that’s going to be a problem. But if you are getting a bunch of MQLs – people who are somewhat interested but aren’t ready to buy – then you are not really helping out a sales team.

In theory, what you are supposed to do with these MQLs is you are going to nurture them. You are going to nurture and continue marketing to them. Then, when they are ready to buy, that is when sales will come in. That is when you will be able to close that deal. But like many things in marketing, it is this “roadmap fairytale” that we have created: “Okay, we’re just going to slowly get everybody down the funnel.” When in reality, if you have somebody who is an MQL, you need to figure out what it’s going to take to make them become an SQL. You need to figure out what you have to do, how you have to communicate, how you have to work with your sales team to make them a sales qualified lead, and give your sales team a real chance to close these guys.

If you are a marketing agency out there, stop tipping your cap at MQLs. Stop tracking them. They are not even important. Just knock it off. When you start putting your KPIs together, why don’t you have SQLs? So when somebody goes, “Well, didn’t we get some more leads?”, go “Yeah, but they didn’t matter. They are not ready. We need to get them up to SQLs.

So stop tracking them. Stop trying to sell your sales team on MQLs. Give your sales team some more SQLs so they can do their job, close deals, and grow the business. This way everybody wins.

There you go. Thanks so much. That was today’s episode of B2B Marketing Insights. Again, I’m Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive, saying, “Good luck growing.

B2B Marketing Agency Tools for Sales teams

Four Tools Marketing Agencies Should Build for Sales Teams

If you’ve read our previous blog on How to Build a Winning B2B Sales Enablement Strategy, you know B2B buyers today extensively evaluate a product or service before purchasing. Given this, one of the surefire ways to easily engage buyers throughout the buyer journey is through sales enablement, a tactic where your marketing team deploys the right tools to help your sales team close deals faster. For this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, Austin LaRoche, ATAK Interactive CEO, breaks down the 4 important tools marketing agencies should provide to sales teams in order to help with sales enablement.

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, CEO at ATAK Interactive. Today, we’re gonna talk about something very basic. We are just going to go through four beginner tools that marketing teams and agencies should be providing sales teams to help with sales enablement. 

To start off, we are going to talk about buyer personas. Buyer personas are very easy to do and I recommend marketing and sales teams collaborate to create these together. 

The best way to do it is to just start with a simple structure:

  • You start with the demographic. For example, age, geography, and job title. 
  • Then you go into what people want. What does this persona want? What are their goals? What’s their vision?
  • Next, go into their hesitations. Why might they not want to buy from you? What are their pain points? What are they going through that makes them not as good of a buyer as you wish?
  • Then you hit the tendencies. See what influences them, what media they read, what software they use. Who are these people?
  • Finally, how do we approach them? What type of tone do we need to talk to them? What products and services do we need to pitch them?

If you build your buyer personas with those five things in mind, then you will be able to really segment out your customer base, which will allow your marketing and sales teams to work together as a unit, and understand that target audience. So this is the first thing.

The second tool for sales teams is a simple competitive analysis. Now I’m not a big “let’s look and see what the competition’s doing” guy. I don’t really care as much. I know what I want out of my agency and I know where I want to go. And I bet you’re like that too. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is not value out there in seeing how your competitors are attacking this new world that you’re in. So whether it is the simple things, such as looking at how much they are spending on ad words, what ad words they are actually purchasing, how they are embracing LinkedIn in this day and age, what they are spending on social media…There are all sorts of parameters that you can use just to look and see what everyone else is doing. Not because you’re like, “Oh, okay, I want to steal this idea”, but because you want to look at the landscape and go, “Well, they’re doing this. And so I’m going to do this and I’m gonna do it better than they did.

The third thing is outbound email automation. If your sales team has a prospect list, your marketing team better make sure they have the right messaging sequences to send to this prospect list without the sales guys even really touching anything. 

When you use a tool like HubSpot, you can create these sequences; you can automate this communication. Instead of sales teams pounding phones, sending individualized emails, and trying to personalize everything, you can get that exact same personalization through a lot of marketing intelligence with a tool like HubSpot. Your marketing team can start sending those messages out so your sales teams can spend more time doing what they want to do, which is closing deals. 

Lastly, we have inbound workflows. Your marketing teams should be building inbound workflows so that when leads do come to you, they are being nurtured properly. You are automating things so that the right salesperson is connected to the right contact, or prospect, based on the information they put into the form. From there, the prospect should be getting the right information until they are able to set that appointment with the salesperson. Then, the salesperson can go and close everything from there. 

In summary, the four basic tools you can build for sales teams are buyer personas, competitive analysis, outbound automation, and inbound automation. If your marketing team is not doing this, you need to tell them to step up their game. Or, I don’t know, give somebody else a call – just saying. Anyway, I’m Austin LaRoche saying, “Good luck growing.”

B2B Marketing Agency Insight Stop Calling it Webinar

Let’s Stop Calling It A “Webinar”

Driven by the shift to remote work, 2020 has proven so far to be a great year for the word “webinar”. However, with everyone hosting one these days, the term “webinar” has lost most of its impact. In this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights, ATAK Interactive CEO Austin LaRoche shares his insight into why the term “webinar” has reached its peak and offers alternatives you can use to better frame your next virtual session and stand out from the crowd.

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive. Today, I’m going to be a little ranty today. And what I’m getting ranty about is webinars. Not about the actual webinars, but the term “webinars”.

I think it is time we stopped calling them webinars. You want to know why? Because I do not want to go to your webinar. When you tell me you have a webinar, I think: “Okay, it’s going to be me and a few other people who are going to go through a thing. It seems boring. You are probably going to have a PowerPoint, which is probably going to be poorly designed, and there will be a Q&A session at the end. It’ll be okay or whatever.

From a pre-COVID world, I was bored out by webinars, but then COVID hit and it was like, “Oh my gosh, we are all doing webinars. It’s all we can do. It’s webinars 24/7. All the webinars you can get.

I just think there are better ways to frame it because when you look at the functionality of a webinar, all you are doing is creating a Zoom that you are giving people access to. And then everyone is just in a Zoom room – or a GoToMeeting. 

There are all sorts of ways that you can frame it so it doesn’t sound as boring as a webinar. So, why don’t we talk about a few of those? 

First off, call it a round table. Get a couple of industry leaders and go, “Hey, this is what we’re going to talk about. We are going to have a little round table discussion about how our industry is going to be handling a post-COVID world.” Before you know it, instead of going to a webinar, I’ve got a round table of four industry leaders who are going to be explaining things to me – that I think are going to be very valuable – and I’m going to have the opportunity to ask them questions. 

Speaking of, if it’s going to be more of a Q&A, why don’t you just call it a Q&A? Make yourself readily available: “Hey, I’m hosting the Q&A asked me anything.” 

If it’s going to be a smaller webinar, what if you called it an exclusive demo and you only invited four or five people? Or maybe you invite as many people as could possibly get, but once you realize it’s only gonna be four or five people, then you say it’s an exclusive demo that you only sent a few emails for because only the most important people could be in this demonstration, right?

I just think there are other ways of presenting it. I think you can even do something like a virtual presentation. I’m more interested in a virtual presentation than I am in a webinar. I think this is an area where some creatives need to really come up with a new phrase to get me much more excited about going to these digital events because, honestly, I don’t want to go to your webinar.

I’ll go to your round table discussion. I’ll go to your Q&A. If you invite me, I’ll go to your exclusive demo or even your virtual presentation. That’s where we are at now. Let’s see where we can get to tomorrow because I’d really like to see the idea of the webinar evolve in a way that makes me much more interested to go to them.

For all of you guys out there who are doing webinars and you’re killing it, congratulations! I’m really supportive of it. I really like webinars, but I do think it’s time for us to just call them something else. 

There we go, that was the rant. Hopefully, it wasn’t too ranty. But, in case it was – sorry, I got to have a little bit of a point-of-view.

On that note, thanks for watching B2B Marketing Agency Insights and good luck growing.

B2B Marketing Agency Failure

6 Ways Agencies Fail Their Clients

Are you thinking of hiring a marketing agency? If you are, being aware of the mistakes that can lead to misalignment between an agency and client is crucial when looking for the right partner. With over 12 years of marketing agency experience, Austin LaRoche, ATAK Interactive CEO, has boiled it down to 6 common threads of why agencies and clients don’t work out well in this episode of B2B Marketing Agency Insights.

Video transcription below:

Welcome back to B2B Marketing Agency Insights. I’m your host, Austin LaRoche. Today, we’re talking about six ways agencies fail their clients. 

In over 12 years of working in a B2B marketing agency, I have seen all sorts of horror stories. But I’ve also seen a lot of common threads as to why agencies and clients don’t work out together. Because even though everybody is unique and they have their own nuanced ways, there are still common mistakes that everybody makes that clients just – for lack of a better way of saying it – freaking hate.

Let’s go through some of these mistakes so that hopefully if you’re hiring an agency, you can make sure that you avoid them and get the right partner for you. 

Number one is a lack of goal setting. I always talk about purpose as “Where” meets “Why: where are we going and why are we going there. That’s purpose. That’s it. It’s really that simple. If you lay that out from the beginning, you’ll need to answer questions like this: what does success look like six months from now? What does success look like one year from now? When you start putting some numbers to it, then everybody will know where you are going. 

Now, the number two mistake that agencies make is a reliance on vanity KPIs. If you had to tell me every single time I saw a PR agency talk about impressions because they push something through a PR Newswire or send a mass pitch to a thousand bloggers… It’s just so disingenuous.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. What matters are growth metrics; what are your growth metrics? What do you really need to know? Anything that revolves around brand awareness is irrelevant – “Get it out of there, man.” Same with website traffic; who cares? Get a conversion based mentality. This is the number of leads we are getting; this is the number of sales we’re getting. It is growth metrics or nothing

The third thing that I have noticed is long performance timelines. “You know it takes six months to a year to get everything to work.” Listen, this is the digital marketing age. We can start running ads tomorrow and figure out if people are going to be converting, either as customers or leads. You should be able to get results within three to six months if everything that you’re doing is right. Where you really have to watch out is when you get locked into a big-time contract with this mindset of “Oh wait a minute, it’s not going to work for the first six months”, because the truth is you’re going to get so impatient. You really are. You are going to think, “Hey look, we went from position 85 on the Google SERP to position 42.” Great, but who cares? You’re not number one so it doesn’t matter. Why don’t you just pay some money to Google AdWords and get your site right at the top of the search page so that we can start getting a little bit of traffic and maybe some conversions, leads, or sales. So, don’t –  don’t, don’t, don’t – fall trap to the “Hey, it takes a really long time for this to work” because it really doesn’t.

Next is communicating your value to your target audience. Too many times marketing agencies write and communicate the way they would, which can be a little too hip. Maybe they don’t understand the target audience. Maybe they’re just talking generally because they don’t understand the client or business. But for whatever reason, what ends up happening is this: if you’re not communicating directly to that persona even though you know exactly what they need to hear, what their customer hesitations are, and how to get over that hump, then it just falls flat. So watch out for that. 

Number five – they don’t understand the marketing to sales map. Let’s talk about the customer journey here. We have to attract the prospect, right? Next, we have to connect or convert that prospect. Then, we have to close that prospect into a customer, and finally, we have to delight that customer. If you don’t know what you’re doing at every single one of those stages in your marketing, then there is absolutely no reason for you to be doing any marketing whatsoever – because nothing is working together and nothing is playing. You have to create that whole roadmap. You have got to build out every stage so that it all makes sense. Too often, agencies will just say, “We’re going to send traffic to the website.” And when you ask, “Okay, well, why it is not converting?”, they will just counter with, “Well, hey, you know, we sent the traffic, that’s what we were supposed to do.” So the tip here is to follow the entire journey – attract, connect, close, delight. Know exactly what to do and how to increase those conversions or deals to achieve growth. 

Lastly, agencies do a really poor job at clearly conveying expectations, and it happens in all sorts of different areas. It can happen with budget. It can happen with scope. It can happen with results. Conveying expectations is really about making sure that the client knows at all times what to expect, why something is a certain way, and, if there’s going to be a problem, getting ahead of that problem and reassuring them with “Hey, I hope you understand that it needs to be like this or needs to be like that.” If a marketing agency can convey those expectations, then they are really going to be able to bond with you and you’ll get a great agency experience. 

So, I hope that this was valuable to you. I hope if you’re looking to hire an agency, you can look at some of those different areas. Or if maybe your agency has fallen short, I hope you can recognize that there are better options out there. There are companies that really do care about your growth, your success, and really want to hang their success on your success. And that’s ultimately what you’re looking for at the end of the day.

So thank you again for watching B2B Marketing Agency Insights. Again, I’m Austin LaRoche, CEO of ATAK Interactive, saying, “Good luck growing.”

Sales Enablement Strategy 2020

How to Build a Winning B2B Sales Enablement Strategy in 2021

B2B businesses today operate in a new reality. 82% of B2B buyers today spend more time in the research phase, extensively evaluating a product or service before purchasing. Buyer power has increased and as such, B2B businesses have to adapt to this new buyer journey and integrate new techniques to win and retain these customers. This is where sales enablement comes in.

Today’s buyers have a strong preference to buy from sellers that can add value and help them with their purchase decision. In fact, 74% of buyers choose to move forward with the sales rep that was the first to share value and insight. So with sales enablement, the marketing and sales teams are able to work together to deliver this value and convert their prospects into actual buyers.

What is Sales Enablement?

But first, what is sales enablement? Sales enablement is a strategic process of equipping your sales team with the tools, content, and information they need to efficiently convert leads and close more deals. At its core, it is a collaboration between both marketing and sales. Marketing provides resources and collateral that, in turn, empower the sales team as they interact with potential buyers. With the right toolkit, your sales team can create engaging experiences, both remotely and in-person, for prospects who are increasingly looking for a higher degree of personalization throughout their buyer journeys.

Why B2B Companies Should Care About Sales Enablement

All marketing and sales departments have the same goal: to drive sales and revenue for the company. But, traditionally, these two teams have worked separately, causing marketing and sales to be siloed. Each team ends up focusing on different target consumers to pursue, ultimately, impeding each other’s abilities to attract and convert qualified leads. Studies have shown that when sales and marketing are misaligned, companies lose 10% of revenue or more each year.

Sales Enablement Sales and MarketingSales enablement creates a bridge between marketing and sales. With the marketing team by their sides, sales reps are able to access the right content at the right time to successfully engage their prospects throughout the buying process. And the numbers are proof. When sales and marketing work well together, businesses:

Sales Enablement Sales and Marketing

Growth is a joint effort. Through sales enablement, each team receives a clearer understanding of who they are targeting and how the journey looks for their prospects. Your marketers no longer need to waste time and resources developing content that will not resonate with customers. Instead, they will begin to develop high-quality collateral, like case studies and whitepapers, designed to help the sales team add value to their relationships with leads and drive quicker conversions, especially when remote selling. It’s critical to remember that sales and marketing are partners working toward the same goal, rather than two different teams.

So why do B2B companies need a sales enablement strategy? The short answer is this: because a sales team empowered with the right toolkit from the marketing team will convert more leads and, ultimately, generate more revenue for the company

How to Build a Winning Sales Enablement Toolkit in 2021

To build a winning B2B sales enablement strategy in 2021, your marketing team needs to assemble a toolkit, filled with resources and content that will enable your sales team to target the right buyers and engage them throughout the buyer journey, whether remotely or in-person. From sales automation to customer success, the right sales enablement tools streamline outreach, lead management, deal management, and customer communication for a seamless buying process.

A robust sales enablement toolkit will contain the following tools and content:

Sales Enablement Software

A sales enablement software gives your marketing and sales teams a complete overview of the sales pipeline and allows them to manage all their collateral from a central location. It ensures that your sales representative can find the proper content at any time, submit it to prospects, and track engagement within that piece of content.

A sales enablement software simplifies:

  • Outreach automation: automated and personalized email sequences that outreach and follow-up to nurture and connect with leads as well as close deals;
  • Lead management: access to tools such as live chat, email tracking, and meeting scheduling, to engage with and close interested contacts;
  • Sales pipeline management: CRM database tracking contact details and past interactions as well as tools to track the progress of customer lifecycles and potential deals; and
  • Remote sales management: a centralized location that allows sales reps to easily access, present, and share the latest branded materials, anywhere and anytime.

With the correct sales enablement software, sales and marketing teams are able to work together to deliver timely, relevant, and on-brand content to prospective buyers. We recommend the following sales enablement tools to include in your toolkit:

HubSpot

HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot is one of the top sales enablement software (and the one we use!). It connects all sales and marketing efforts into an all-in-one sales platform for easy cross-team collaboration. When combined with its free CRM software, HubSpot’s sales tools track all relevant buyer data and interactions, allowing the sales team to manage the sales pipeline on a deeper level. HubSpot’s Sales Hub features:

  • Automated email workflows that streamline outreach while keeping messaging personalized
  • Email integrations that track all conversations for easy lead management
  • Custom email templates for sales outreach and contact nurturing
  • Robust segmentation capabilities for contacts and companies to create hyper-targeted lists
  • Personal calendar integration to simplify meeting scheduling
  • Analytics tools that track which pieces of content resonated with your buyers and how many seconds they viewed each page of a proposal

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a sales intelligence platform that helps the sales team access the full extent of LinkedIn as a platform for digital selling. With Sales Navigator, sales teams are able to target the right prospects and engage decision-makers with personalized outreach. Its main features include:

  • Lead recommendations based on your target accounts
  • HubSpot Integration to organize your pipeline and track accounts you connect with
  • Advanced lead and company search and export capabilities

Sales Enablement Content

Did you know as much as 80% of marketing content goes unused by the sales team? In many cases, it’s because the content is wrong; it simply doesn’t address the right challenge the buyer may be having. Research shows that 95% of buyers purchase from sellers who offer relevant content at each step of the buying process. That’s why having the right type of content is crucial. The right content will facilitate meaningful conversations and optimize your customer experience.

Personalized Sales Decks and Interactive Collateral

Generic sales decks no longer work as more prospects expect a one-to-one selling experience. In fact, 64% of B2B decision-makers reported they won’t engage with a salesperson if the communication is not personalized. With a personalized sales deck, your sales reps can tailor the messaging to specifically reveal how your product or service can address the buyer’s unique needs. And by showing that they understand a prospect’s needs, a personalized sales deck will help build trust and move the prospect one step closer towards conversion.

Sales Enablement Sales Deck

Sales Playbook

A sales playbook arms your sales reps with all the content and strategies they need to close a deal. Since sales reps spend 40% of their time searching for or creating content, creating a sales playbook that outlines all the messaging, questions, and resources needed will exponentially decrease time wasted on searching. With ready-made content, your sales team can focus on selling and closing deals faster. Plus, training new sales reps becomes far quicker and easier with a sales playbook since it contains information on your buyer personas and the most effective techniques.

Case Studies

A case study is one of the most powerful pieces of content you can have in your toolkit. It highlights your previous customer’s success and how your product or service helped them achieve their business goals. More buyers are researching a company before committing (82% of buyers, to be exact), and seeing the experience of a previous buyer can be the key to engaging these prospects. With a customer case study, your sales reps can demonstrate to a prospect the actual benefits of your product or service.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership content is a great resource for attracting and educating prospects, which makes them the perfect addition to your sales enablement toolkit. Accessible in a wide range of formats–from blogs to webinars to white papers, thought leadership exemplifies the knowledge and leadership a sales team has in a given industry. These pieces of content must be compelling, have a strong point-of-view, and educate the buyer. By having a strong leadership message, your sales team can build credibility and trust with your prospects.

Email Templates and Sales Scripts

Email templates and sales scripts are other important tools for sales enablement. Ready-made email templates can streamline the creation of follow-up emails, outreach emails, and check-in emails to further nurture leads while sales scripts can ensure that the sales team hits the key points in any conversations.

Remote Selling

Traditional ‘face-to-face’ sales interactions are disappearing and remote selling is steadily becoming the norm. In order to maintain visibility among your prospects in 2021, your sales teams must reinvent face-to-face interactions by adopting remote selling techniques and leveraging your digital resources to a higher degree.

Sales Enablement Remote Selling

In addition to sales enablement software and content, the marketing team should focus on creating easily consumable multimedia content, such as:

  • Short branded videos highlighting your product’s main features;
  • Branded virtual Zoom backgrounds for video conferencing;
  • Pre-recorded sales presentations with engaging graphics and animations; and
  • Possibly, even augmented reality experiences of your product.

When remote selling, your sales team needs every edge they can get to relay value. As such, digital media will play a key role in capturing the attention of remote buyers.

Besides nurturing prospective buyers, remote selling resources can nurture sales reps too. Sales managers can record educational training videos with the marketing team and create a resource hub dedicated to the continuing education of the overall sales team. Combined with the sales playbook, your sales team will have access to all the training materials they need to become top sellers.

The Bottom Line

In today’s B2B marketing landscape, many companies are struggling to find a strategy that will keep their marketing and sales departments in sync. Both teams waste valuable time on leads that will never convert, and often, qualified leads get lost in the confusion. Sales enablement is no longer an option; it’s a complete necessity. By aligning your sales and marketing, you can start building a customer journey that generates revenue for your company.

Interested in empowering your B2B sales teams with the digital tools to sell successfully and close deals faster?

Martech

How to Build a Consolidated MarTech Stack

As marketing plays a bigger role in the greater buyer journey, marketers have started to rely on technological solutions to stay top of mind and maintain a competitive advantage. These technological solutions are known as MarTech, or marketing technologies, and make marketing efforts more effective and efficient.

Currently, the MarTech industry is growing at a fast rate. In 2018, the number of MarTech companies has grown from approximately 150 to 7,000. With a wide variety of technologies at our disposal, now is the time to create a consolidated and smarter MarTech stack and essentially, doing more with less.

This trend comes as no surprise. In 2019, marketing leaders answered that they utilized only 58% of their MarTech stack’s potential. As such, consolidating your MarTech into an optimized stack of a few all-encompassing solutions is the key to streamlining your marketing strategy. Creating a robust but consolidated marketing technology stack will help to increase your teams’ efficiency and improve all aspects of your marketing—and sales—operations, from content to customer relationships.

But before we jump into building a MarTech, here’s a quick rundown of what a MarTech stack entails.

What Is a MarTech Stack?

A marketing technology stack, or MarTech stack for short, is a set of technologies and tools a business combines to manage and improve their marketing across the customer lifecycle. Essentially, a MarTech stack enables the marketing and sales team to connect with buyers at different stages of their journey.

The focus of creating a MarTech stack is to improve internal collaboration, easily measure the impact of marketing activities, and reach customers in new ways. These tools are often effective on their own, but when “stacked” together in a format that works intuitively, the stack will create a cohesive digital experience that will nurture your customers and prospects.

All MarTech stacks should include the following core technologies:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System

All companies need a central place to store and manage their customers’ (both current clients and prospects) contact information. That’s why a CRM system is essential when building a consolidated MarTech stack. As a central warehouse for all customer data, a CRM system helps businesses personalize and improve all aspects of the buyer journey, from lead generation all the way to retention, so your team can improve relationships with potential and current customers.

Marketing Automation Platform

As the name suggests, marketing automation is using software to automate certain marketing activities. When trying to attract, connect, close, and delight, a marketing team must often perform repetitive tasks such as email marketing and social media posting. But with a marketing automation platform, these repetitive tasks are automated and still capable of delivering a personalized experience to your customers. A marketing automation software will automatically monitor the level of engagement activity for each contact in your CRM database. 

Sales Enablement Tools

From sales automation to customer support and customer success, sales enablement tools play a crucial role by streamlining outreach, lead management, deal management, and customer communication. By managing and automating these processes at scale, sales and marketing teams can better prioritize and execute tasks in a more streamlined and efficient way.

Content Management System (CMS)

At the heart of any marketing strategy is content. Content is how you attract leads, convert those leads into customers, and get them to come back. As such, a CMS is an essential part of a MarTech stack. A CMS is a platform that allows users to create and manage a website, even without technical experience in coding. Any website changes, from a small edit to the text to creating entirely new pages, can be easily managed. Having a good and intuitive CMS platform can help ensure that your content remains fresh and up to date, which in turn optimizes your SEO, drives traffic to the site, and leads to more conversions.

Before you consolidate your MarTech stack, we recommend including HubSpot as it encompasses all the core functions mentioned above.

Now, here’s how to build a consolidated MarTech stack for your company.

Step 1: Devise your marketing strategy

The first step to building a consolidated MarTech stack is to plan out your marketing and sales strategy based on your product or service and target market. You’ll also need to analyze your current practices and identify where they match the strategy and where you need to do things differently. What you’re missing can help shed a light on what functions are needed for your marketing and sales teams.

Step 2: Run an audit

The next step is to run an audit on your existing MarTech to discover any gaps and redundancies that may exist. Be sure to include any piece of software used by any employee on your marketing and sales team, from email applications to CRM platforms. The main goal of this step is to find out which technologies you can eliminate to streamline your MarTech stack.

Step 3: Define your (technology) needs

After you run your audit, you’ll have a better idea about the current state of your stack setup and how to streamline it. Your new consolidated MarTech stack should align with your strategy so the next step is to identify what technology you need in your stack to enable your strategy. During this time, you may realize that your team has identified needs that aren’t fulfilled by the core technologies listed above, such as social media and email. These needs can be addressed with the following common MarTech categories:

Website Analytics

Analytics tools enable the marketing and sales teams to gain a deeper insight into who their customers are. This software measures the performance of your website, content, and campaigns to fuel decisions on how to increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Email Marketing

Email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment (ROI), making an email marketing platform a worthwhile investment. This MarTech helps you grow your list of email subscribers, design and build emails, create segmented lists to enable a higher degree of personalization, and track the performance of your emails.

Social Media Marketing

As part of a MarTech stack, a social media marketing software enables you to schedule, manage, and analyze the results of your campaigns to save you time and help you become more agile.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimizing your website for organic search is an important step to drive traffic to the site. While SEO tools aren’t as necessary as the others, adding an SEO tool to your MarTech stack can help boost your lead generation efforts.

Step 4: Plan how to manage data

A MarTech stack relies on shared data. Since each platform in your MarTech stack will be collecting its own set of data, it’s important to figure out how it will all be managed. At this point, looking into marketing technologies that seamlessly integrate and share information in real-time will be crucial. Doing so will help consolidate this data so it can be viewed through a single-view dashboard and alleviate any gaps in reporting. We strongly recommend including HubSpot as part of your streamlined MarTech stack as it has an ecosystem of over 200 platforms and apps.

Step 5: Implementation

The last step in building a consolidated MarTech stack is implementation. The end result shouldn’t have any redundancies or gaps and all components should seamlessly work together.

The bottom line

The need for consolidated MarTech stacks is growing as more businesses move toward creating cohesive and data-driven experiences for their customers. Instead of growing larger in number, MarTech stacks need to get smarter, more streamlined, and increasingly interconnected to empower both the marketing and sales. That’s why we also consolidated our MarTech stack. Here’s how ours looks like:   

ATAK's Own Martech Stack

Is your MarTech stack working seamlessly? 

Do you know what technologies your organization is using, and are they organized and integrated seamlessly? With over 8,000 solutions to choose from, it can be difficult to architect the right MarTech stack. If you’re looking for a partner who can help set up and consolidate your technology solutions, align your marketing and sales activities, and support your business goals, contact us to take the first step towards a smarter MarTech stack. 

COVID-19 B2B Marketing

B2B Marketing During COVID-19: Cindy Flynn

Cindy Flynn, of Hackler Flynn Law, has gone from doing four webinars a year to an average of six per week thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She took some time to speak with ATAK CEO, Austin LaRoche about her increased webinar schedule, some tips for running successful webinars, and how she’s connecting with business owners looking for advice on how to navigate the Covid-19 crisis.

Video Transcription

Austin LaRoche: Thanks so much for being here today. My name’s Austin Laroche and, here at ATAK, we’re just starting a little “Marketing in the Time of Covid-19” series. With me today, I’ve got Cindy Flynn from Hackler Flynn Law. How are you doing today, Cindy?

Cindy Flynn: I am great. Thanks, Austin for having me.

Austin LaRoche: So, I wanted Cindy to come on because Cindy is doing so many webinars. I think I’m going to have to start nicknaming her, “The Screen Queen”.

How many webinars are you doing a week right now?

Cindy Flynn: Probably on average six.

Austin LaRoche: Wow, six webinars a week. So for those who don’t know, Cindy is an employment attorney, and she represents entrepreneurs, companies, and employment battles.

And so, the webinars have mostly focused on the new CARES Act, right?

Cindy Flynn: Yes. I’ve also talked about Covid-19 and employment law, and essentially, how to deal with it as a business owner.

Austin LaRoche: What are some of the common questions that you’re seeing from customers?

Cindy Flynn: Oh, man. I think the biggest thing blowing people’s minds right now is providing an internet and cell phone expense reimbursement for your employees who are working from home. Many businesses are not doing that, so I think it’s going to be a big area in which plaintiff’s attorneys out there are going to find a way to file class-action lawsuits again business owners.

Austin LaRoche: I just been so impressed by how you’ve been able to just take hold of a situation because so many different companies in different industries are being disrupted and they need somebody within their industry to be the voice of reason – that thought leader. So it’s cool to hear your big point of view with everything, which is that you see this big area where employment law is about to be shaken up.

So before all of this started though, how many webinars were you doing just regularly or maybe ever?

Cindy Flynn: I think I did four last year in total.

Austin LaRoche: I’ve always said that webinars are kind of like QR codes; they’re perfect in theory, right? Until we were all forced to work from home, we all still wanted that handshake, face-to-face connection but now, well, webinars make complete sense. Right now, it’s the best way for daily, continued education.

Cindy Flynn: Yes. And Austin, our firm hired ATAK, your amazing company last year, and one of the things on our to-do list was getting out and putting together webinars for our clients, our prospects, our friends, and our community. It was number “101” on my to-do list.

When we were forced to all use Zoom, it was so easy to put together a webinar and to host a webinar. The idea actually came from you guys so I’m forever grateful for that. But Covid-19 definitely just put the whole idea into action.

Just as an employment lawyer, we are trying to pump out as many free webinars to our community as possible because I really feel strongly that businesses are going to be sued this year. We’ve had four clients now, in the last two weeks, come to us with demand letters from employees that they’ve gotten rid of, that they’ve terminated since Covid. This is something I feel strongly about – please talk to your employment lawyer or call me if you don’t have one because it’s just an area in which some businesses are going to get into trouble.

Austin LaRoche: It’s something that everyone’s concerned with and anytime there’s a transition, everybody wants to able to do things the right way. And so being able to consult somebody like yourself is an area where businesses have a great advantage now, even before they have to make a lot of the tough decisions and even to learn a lot of things.

Cindy Flynn: And I think it’s a good opportunity to work with companies like yours.

I’m keeping you guys plenty busy right now with all this. Every time I put together the content, I send it over to your team for design consistency because we want to make sure, with all our marketing efforts, that it’s consistent throughout, right? And so your team does such an excellent job of putting together the final touches to the content my team puts together and making sure it doesn’t sound so “legal-ey” (framing it in a common language that people can understand). So that’s another thing – I think that now’s a good time to also focus on marketing efforts and consistency throughout your organization.

Austin LaRoche: Yeah, it’s funny. I keep telling everybody there are two paths you’re going to take during this time, and sometimes those are blended.

One is to invest in the infrastructure of marketing. If you’ve always wanted that new website or to install a new CRM – now that things have slowed down to an extent – you have that time to really invest in that infrastructure. The other path is to invest in that thought leadership, which is what you’re doing. You’re telling your market how to get out in front of Covid-19 and how to navigate this mess.

And I think that both those things can be really good investments. And I want to go back to what you were talking about with the webinars because, now that you’ve done them so often, what would you say some do’s and don’ts would be for someone who wants to host a webinar?

Cindy Flynn: The more prepared you can be in any speech, the better. The more you can anticipate the questions that people are going to ask you, the better. Take the time to really be prepared and do your due diligence because what else are you doing right now?

One of the things you want to avoid when doing a webinar, or any presentation for that matter, is reading directly off the screen. It makes you sound like a robot. With any sort of speech that you give, you want to use PowerPoint to your advantage. And something that your team is great at. I can put together a slide with certain information and then, they take it all away and put a picture, graphic, or something to where it’s so much easier to understand. But I think that goes with not only webinars but also with any sort of presentation you’re giving.

Austin LaRoche: I absolutely agree. Any time you can avoid having everyone reading your screen instead of listening to what you’re saying, you’ve got to take it.

What about any technical tips? I know you’ve been using Zoom for your webinars.

Cindy Flynn: I do. And it’s great. It’s not the normal, Zoom package. They have something additional, where you can have up to a hundred people in a webinar. They also have like 500, 2000 person webinars and there are different structures there. But what’s nice about this package is it allows you to just see the speakers and your PowerPoint presentation (or whatever you want to do) as long as you are sharing your screen. You don’t have to see all 100 people or all 2000 people, you know, in your Zoom gallery view.

Austin LaRoche: Yeah, Zoom room or Zoom banquet hall.

Cindy Flynn: Right, right.

Austin LaRoche: So you said you’ve been doing a hundred person webinars for yours?

Cindy Flynn: I mean, if I do one with the bar association, it’s obviously a lot bigger; Provisors is a networking organization and their limit is a thousand.

With regard to the limits, I like to keep it to a hundred people because our webinars are very interactive, so people can ask questions throughout. What they have on their Zoom, under webinars, is a Q&A section so that they can type in questions, to which we will then respond.

Sometimes when it gets 200 people or so in a webinar, I have one of my associates on the line as well, so she’s able to answer specific people’s questions that aren’t necessary to bring up to the whole group. I’ve found that to be really helpful because I’ve done webinars with a lot of people and to navigate questions and keep it flowing throughout can be challenging at times.

And I also have her chime in as well throughout so that it’s not my voice. With most webinars, it is my voice just talking for an hour, so it’s nice to break it up a little bit too.

Austin LaRoche: And so going back to the question-and-answers, do you have time at the end for questions or is it just if anybody has a question throughout? What’s the best practice there and how do you balance that?

Cindy Flynn: I like to do it throughout – that way if I’m talking about something in the beginning, my mind can stay on that subject matter and while we’re on the slide, I can answer the questions as they roll in. I find that it’s easier for me this way since the questions are particular and pertaining to that area that we’re talking about, rather than waiting until the end. But that’s just my style. I think you have to go with what works best for you. But I have been asked questions at the very end. Then I try and go back to slide 10 so that everybody kind of knows what you’re talking about.

Austin LaRoche: Keeps it engaging too because people feel more involved. Well, that’s great. I think after hearing a little bit about things I didn’t know as a business owner, I’m going to need to pop into one of the next three webinars. Can you tell us your website?

Cindy Flynn: It’s HacklerFlynnLaw.com. I have an events section – that your team put together – and, you can either look for our upcoming events, which are scheduled out to next February, or scroll back to look at past events and see the recordings from any of those for free.

Austin LaRoche: For free? So, there are zero reasons why business owners should not go and get caught up on what they need to know now that we’re in the age of Covid as employers.

Cindy Flynn: That’s right. That’s right.

Austin LaRoche: Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you doing this and I’m excited for all the people who will continue to learn from you and hopefully protect themselves because of you.

Zoom Conference

How B2B Companies Can Delight Their Customers During COVID-19

It’s been several weeks since the United States reported its first positive case of COVID-19 (also known as Novel Coronavirus). To mitigate the risk of spreading the virus, millions of people are practicing social distancing by staying inside and avoiding crowds.

Though this practice is keeping our communities safe, it has negatively impacted a lot of companies as they are not receiving the same constant business.

However, there is a silver lining to social distancing for businesses. People are building stronger relationships with their families, friends, neighbors, and communities. This has created the perfect opportunity for companies to strengthen their relationships with their current customers.

With the virus putting most company’s acquisition activity on pause, your existing customers will have the confidence to complete purchases and act as your advocates during this time.

We have compiled some creative strategies to help you build a stronger connection with your target audience so that it will not only outlast the virus outbreak but also for years to come.

1. Assure Them Your Company Can Deliver in New, Innovative Ways

Many things are changing so you want to ensure your customers know they will still be receiving the same support from your company despite the virus’s effects on your operations. In communicating with your audience, elaborate on the value propositions they care about that you will continue to provide. Ease their hesitations.

Now comes the hard part. If you tell your customers they can be reassured that they are receiving the best qualities of your business during social distancing, you need to know how to deliver on that promise. Make no mistake, things will change. But for applicable companies, you can provide the same service to them in new, exciting ways.

Take advantage. Figure out how to replace what was with what is now and project your new direction with confidence. Make sure to keep your message clear, crisp, and confident.

2. Host a Virtual Event

Don’t let your canceled or postponed event stop you from showcasing your products and services to your customers. There are plenty of platforms and channels for you to host a virtual webinar, presentation, or panel.

Most people are looking for entertainment while they are social distancing in their homes. Let your virtual event be something for them to look forward to by providing tips and product demos, unveiling new products and services, giving a behind-the-scenes look into your business, or discussing new insights within your industry.

On social media, you can also host Facebook Live or Instagram Live events, which leads us to our next idea…

3. Increase Your Social Media Activity

It’s no secret that screen time has gone up for many people since the beginning of the quarantine. Social media is one of the biggest factors for this high activity as people are frequently checking for the latest updates on the virus.

Whether you’re posting about the virus or product offers, this is the best time to start ramping up your social media strategy. With higher posting frequency on social media, you can ensure you show up in your customers’ news feeds.

Also, be sure to offer options for your customers to contact you via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other instant messaging platforms. This will allow you to answer questions and provide other information your customers may need.

4. Video Chat with Your Customers

Give your customers some literal Face Time. If your sales team is in regular contact with your customers, have them switch to video conferencing to give a more human interaction during this time of isolation.

Video chat also allows your customers to build trust and assurance through a 1-on-1 experience with your team. Your team can answer questions in real-time, demonstrate some complementary products they own or give them an inside look into new products.

5. Support Your Customers Beyond Selling

Take a look at how your customers have been managing their efforts during the pandemic. Have they donated to an organization or started a relief of their own? If so, this would be a great opportunity to either donate to that same organization or relief to show that you and your customers share the same values.

COVID-19 has affected pretty much every industry across the board so your company can look for ways to support your industry. As part of the health & wellness community, one of our clients, Paragon Laboratories, recently donated a large supply of N95 respirators to local hospitals in the Southern California area to keep their community healthy.

Another way you could support your customers would be to provide complementary services you don’t normally offer, such as product demos or virtual training. Your company can also host free weekly webinars to showcase thought leadership and open up a conversation between you and your customers.

Companies taking any of the measures listed above will let their customers know they are trying to make their lives better despite the growing pandemic. Your customers will see that your company cares about its community, which will lead them to want to continue doing business with you. By focusing on building these relationships, your company will be in a much better position to get back on track as soon as the virus passes.

7 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Thought Leadership to Overcome Their COVID-19 Challenges

There is an opportunity for every business in every industry to use the uncertainty of this moment to utilize thought leadership. If you want to lead, what better time than in a crisis? 

Thought leadership is the gateway to customer trust. By exemplifying knowledge and leadership in a given industry, thought leaders develop content that is compelling, has a strong point-of-view, and educates. This builds credibility and eases customer hesitations. In fact,  Edelman’s 2019 B2B Thought Leader Impact Study found that 58% of B2B decision makers made buying decisions based on thought leadership.

Thought leadership in the time of the Coronavirus is vital. Simply put – the people willing to guide their target market towards a better future have the opportunity to come out of this crisis in better economic shape than those that sit still. Those are the stakes. 

So, how do you exhibit thought leadership? Create content through this simple lens: based on my experience and knowledge, what can I provide for my customers and industry that guides them to a better tomorrow? 

Your work will be an investment that should come with no immediate expectation. You’re not just educating the people that keep your company’s lights on, but also your competitors and others in the industry. You will need to be creative to standout in the crowd. Everyone is at home with a lot of time to brainstorm ideas and develop something unique. 

Here’s a few ideas that may help you get ahead of the competition.

7 Creative Ways You Can Use Thought Leadership to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges

1. Create a Virtual Trade Show

One of the most common setbacks clients in the B2B space have seen is the cancellation and postponement of trade shows. This is certainly not an ideal scenario. There were thousands upon thousands of people in their target market who were planning on walking by their booth, offering an opportunity to catch their eye and begin, at the very least, a conversation. That target market still exists. In most industries, the need they have for these products and services has not vanished either. 

Anyone with access to their product or service can set up individual or group meetings on Zoom to demo their product or service. Video conference technology (Zoom/GTM/Google Hangouts/etc) makes it easy. If you boil it down, all we’re suggesting is to do a video conference demo. But if you package it the right way, it becomes a can’t miss opportunity for everyone sitting at home bored out of their mind and in dire need of excitement and content.

Let’s say your company sells shoelaces.

You can email your mailing list and let them know “In lieu of Shoelace Expo 2020 being canceled, we are taking private one-on-one meetings to demo our new shoelaces. Please reach out if you’re interested.” That is something you can do, however, I doubt it would be very effective. 

What if you went this way…

“Announcing Virtual Shoelace 2020! Our Private Shoelace event starts Monday. 

Due to the cancellation of Shoelace Expo 2020, our team at Schu Laces is hosting a virtual trade show Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week. We will debut 7 new product lines and provide a sneak peek to the first 10 customers that book a private appointment for Monday. Access is INVITE Only and by receiving this email, you are on the list of prospective buyers to which we are extending an invitation. Click on this calendar link now and book your spot to get an exclusive early look at the Schu Lace Spring line.”

Now that sounds a helluva lot more exciting than getting a one-on-one demo, right? It keeps the spirit of the trade show alive and provides your company with the chance to possibly bring in some partner businesses (that are not competitors) and set up different rooms, demos, and time slots. 

2. Develop a Mega-Panel Webinar 

Circling back to the uncertainty of COVID-19, every industry is trying to figure out “what happens next?” While no one can be certain, industry leaders should have the insight and foresight to be able to help others get an idea of where the winds are shifting.

The best way to approach this idea is to find 2-3 others you feel would make a great “panel” with you. Evaluate these potential panel-mates based on personality, chemistry, vision, audience, success, and industry-specific factors to determine who would be right to host the panel with you.

From there, come up with a title for the presentation that directly touches on your industry’s impact as a result of the virus. Don’t be afraid to go “State of the Union” with a title like “The Future of the Shoelace Industry Post-Corona” or “How the Shoelace Industry Will Look After COVID-19”. Make sure the idea is both topical and looking ahead. 

Lastly, work with your panel on a rough outline of what the presentation should look like, the technology you will use, how you will organize Q&As, and how you will promote the event to your industry. Set your plan and execute it!

3. Go Live on Social Media to React to Industry News

Many thought leaders do a great job of making you feel like you could be there best friend if you knew them in real life. They are relatable and speak conversationally so that their audience feels comfortable and accepting of their message.

One of the great ways to exemplify that is by utilizing the live tools on social media. Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Linkedin Live can be great resources to utilize for thought leaders.

If you’re going to go this route, stay on message, and be consistent. Let’s say you decide you want to move ahead and go live on Linkedin every day. Pick a consistent time. If you’re going to recap the news from the day, maybe look at 4 pm to 6 pm as a window. Go live and have continuity to what you are saying. 

Let’s keep using our Shoelace company as an example. Their Linkedin Live might look something like:

“I’m Johnny Schu, and as we have been doing since the beginning, we’re talking about how the Shoelace market is being affected by the Coronavirus. Today, the state of California issued a ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order, effectively shutting down all not essential businesses in the country’s most populated state. The brick and mortar athletic stores on the west coast are going to take a hit, and Shoelace companies solely relying on traditional retail, especially regionally, are going to need to shift focus. Ecommerce shoe stores, such as Zappos, are still open and the expectation is that the loss of revenue from this ban may result in an uptick in online sales. If you sell shoelaces, this is another indicator that online stores should be your sole focus right now.”

That would be a way to start, but one of the key things to do with any live feed is to have at least one hour of content planned or have the ability to improvise. Live feeds get prime placement in the algorithm of most social networks, but people peruse them in and out and by going longer, you are giving yourself more time for people to come in and see the content.

Additionally, you should have a Q&A component at the end of every live session so you can answer questions and give your audience a chance to engage with you.

4. Become a Trusted Source Through Aggregation

Of all the terrifying aspects of the Coronavirus, perhaps the most horrific has been the spread of misinformation. It is so hard to keep up with what has been determined to be factual and what turns out to be bogus.

If you want to earn trust with your audience and be seen as a credible voice, one of the easiest things you can do is consolidate the most accurate and relevant information of the day and put it into a single source.

This can simply be a blog post that you email to your database and share on social media. If you can do this consistently, you will be able to garner the attention of your target market by simply only sharing and aggregating accurate and relevant information. 

5. Start an Industry Slack Channel and Facilitate the COVID Conversation 

Slack is a perfect platform to facilitate conversations centered around shared interests. If our friend Johnny Schu were to create a “Shoelace Industry + COVID19” Channel, he could be the straw that stirs the drink in his particular field of work.

By organizing the channel, inviting the industry folks to participate, consistently providing good information to that channel (especially if he’s already investing in aggregating this information on his blog), asking for engagement and ideas, Johnny is positioning himself as a leading voice on the topic, even if he is not providing one iota of an opinion. 

Slack channels are free, easy to create and give you the perfect platform to control the message.

6. Develop a Virtual Training Program

One thing I often hear business leaders complaining about is their lack of time. COVID-19 has provided many with more time than they ever believed they would recapture. Using this time to invest in others is a great way for thought leaders to educate their employees, customers, and industry.

With software like Absorb or Mindflash, creating a virtual training program with an LMS has never been easier or more customizable. If you know the curriculum in which you want to develop, these programs will help you cross the finish line.

Remember, teaching is leading. And every industry, especially those hit hardest by the Coronavirus, needs to learn a thing or two as the pandemic extends.

7. Learn Something New and Document the Journey

Have you ever wanted to learn a new process, technology, or platform? What better time than now? And what better way to learn than to showcase the experience to your industry? 

Companies see shiny new objects in their industry all the time. However, rarely do business leaders have the capacity to become early adopters. With the Coronavirus and the conditions it has built, anyone can take advantage of the newfound time and try something new – the crazy AR technology somebody told you about, the email automation platform your competitors started using – you name it. Dig your claws into it and share the journey for all to see.

If you’ve built your name as a thought leader in your industry, your opinions on the learning experience are going to carry more weight than you may realize.

Conclusion

In the end, these 7 ideas are all connected by a single mission – to get you to speak up and distribute your point-of-view for the world to see. How you do it is up to you, but the opportunity is yours to grasp. Are you the leader you present yourself to be? Then step up and start publishing 😉

ATAK, Marketing, and Moving Ahead in the Age of COVID-19

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley

For those of us that serve in leadership positions at our respective companies, one of the most frustrating feelings is not having control. We’re used to calling the shots, making the decisions, and living with the consequences. But COVID-19 has brought a lot of unknown variables. There is still so much we do not know about the final impact this virus will have on our global economy and when or how we will come back from this. This uncertainty fuels our anxiety.

I’ve thought a lot about the choices ATAK Interactive has made and is making in response to this new world we are living in. Since Thursday, March 12th, our team has been working remotely. This shift in setting does not affect our ability to execute at 100%, and I have found that our entire team’s communication, immediacy, and efficiency increased across the board.

As an organization, we have built a set of core values that is the backbone of how we run our company, manage our clients, and fulfill our scopes. Some businesses create generic ra-ra values such as “commitment to excellence,” but at ATAK, every element of our operation – hiring, performance, attitude – is reflected in these values. We don’t have them written on the wall or until now, have ever shared them to the outside world.

I am showcasing them here today because I believe they reflect how we are responding to this pandemic, how we will continue to serve our clients as we navigate these muddy waters, and how we will empower our customers to use thought leadership to overcome COVID-19.

ATAK’s Core Values

  • I am the problem, I am the solution
  • I see possibilities
  • I will adapt, and I will evolve
  • I want to be better, I will work to be better
  • I will innovate where others imitate

When it comes to helping our clients and businesses navigate the challenges of COVID-19, we’re going to stay true to ourselves. We will be the solution. We will see possibilities. We will adapt. We will work hard. And we will innovate.

Over the next few weeks, ATAK will be releasing content centered around marketing during these times. We will offer ideas and examples that aim to inspire you to push through the uncertainty, find your voice, and extract your creativity.

Many things are changing in this moment, but ATAK is not. I have said for years that our job is to help companies utilize the latest technology to grow their business. No global pandemic or economic recession is going to change that.

We know now is the time when many of you need us the most. We are your partners. We are your biggest fans. And we are here, continuing to work for you, each and every day.

Sincerely,

Austin LaRoche
CEO
ATAK Interactive

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t Lose.

B2B Marketing Strategy

5 B2B Marketing Trends in 2020

Over the years, the B2B marketing landscape has noticeably changed. Driving this transformation is the B2B buyer journey, which has gotten longer and more complex. 82% of B2B buyers are spending more time in the research phase, using more sources to research and evaluate products and services. And when researching, buyers make an average of 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s website.

As more companies view marketing as part of the greater buyer journey, creating an experience that immediately engages the buyers and moves them from lead to customer is the number #1 priority that B2B businesses must focus on in 2020. To help you accomplish this, we gathered 5 B2B marketing trends to shape your 2020 B2B marketing strategy.

5 B2B Marketing Trends in 2020

As the buyer journey grows more complex, so does the marketing funnel. In order to have a successful marketing strategy, focus on these five B2B marketing trends for 2020:

  1. Align sales and marketing efforts through sales enablement
  2. Use ABM to target specific accounts with relevant, highly personalized messaging
  3. Invest in trade shows for lead generation
  4. Streamline your martech into one stack
  5. Use data to drive your messaging

1.    Sales Enablement

In the 2020 B2B marketing landscape, marketing will play a bigger role in sales enablement. When marketing and sales work together, a solid sales enablement strategy can positively affect your company’s bottom line by increasing the number of customers and sales. As such, marketing must understand what resources and tools sales needs in order to efficiently move the buyer through the buyer journey—from nurturing the prospect, to closing the deal and beyond.

Resources and tools to strengthen your sales enablement strategy include:

  • Customer case studies highlighting your previous customer’s success to attract prospects;
  • Whitepapers that attract and educate your prospects on what problem your company solves;
  • Email sequences that automate the outreach and follow-up process to nurture and connect with leads as well as close deals;
  • Live chats which allow sales reps to engage with and close interested contacts in real-time;
  • Sales enablement software, like HubSpot, that gives a complete overview of the sales pipeline as well as access to a wide variety of marketing tools.

2.     Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

As more and more B2B buyers expect and value personalization, account-based marketing, or ABM, is an important trend for B2B marketers in 2020. Similar to sales enablement, ABM is a collaborative effort between marketing and sales. But, unlike a traditional marketing funnel, ABM requires marketing and sales to concentrate their resources on a specific set of target accounts and create personalized campaigns for each account. These campaigns contain messaging designed to address the specific needs and motivations of that specific account to immediately engage them and bring them into the buyer journey.

Traditional vs Account Based Marketing Funnel

With such a high degree of personalization, ABM is typically more successful at generating higher quality leads and maintaining customer relationships. ITSMA found that 87% of marketers that measure ROI saw ABM outperforming every other marketing investment. This makes account-based marketing an essential trend to adopt to your overall marketing strategy.

3.    Trade Show Marketing

In an increasingly digital-focused landscape, trade show marketing is still a valuable B2B marketing strategy in 2020. A solid B2B lead generation strategy, trade shows give you and your company the opportunity to (1) engage with high quality leads in-person and (2) increase brand awareness among your target audience. B2B marketers who use ABM should especially invest in trade shows as these events provide the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with buyers from target accounts.

In the past, the main challenge of trade show marketing for B2B marketers has been measuring the success of their participation. However, this is rapidly changing. With a rise of martech and CRM systems like HubSpot, marketers now have access to better data on how many leads and sales conversions were generated from the trade show. This greater trackability makes trade shows are a worthwhile investment for B2B marketing in 2020.

4.    Martech Stack Consolidation

As we see continued growth within the martech industry (the number of martech companies has grown from approximately 150 to 7,000 in 2018), an important B2B marketing trend in 2020 is consolidating your company’s marketing technologies, or martech, into one optimized stack.

Juggling several different marketing technologies in a marketing campaign can create compatibility issues that disrupt your B2B sales and marketing pipeline. So, cutting back and focusing on the ones that actually work is the key to enhancing your B2B marketing efforts. An optimized stack of one or two solutions to handle multiple functions and offer integration with other platforms will streamline your marketing strategy. Martech consolidation means all your data will be in one place and less time will be spent on training your employees.

For an easy and intuitive martech, we recommend HubSpot as it encompasses both sales and marketing and seamlessly integrates with over 200 platforms and apps.

5.    Data-Driven Messaging

Data is an essential component of running a successful marketing campaign. It provides deep insight into who your target market is (which helps you attract higher quality leads), and where your customer is within the buyer’s journey.

Leveraging this data to create personalized B2B marketing campaigns for your target audience is proving to be a huge trend in 2020. Data-driven messaging is all about focusing on your users and delivering experiences that are relevant to them in order to boost your lead generation efforts. In addition, using data gathered from Google Analytics and/or your martech stack will help your B2B marketers build stronger relationships with the businesses they are targeting. With so much data to comb through, it is important to look at meaningful metrics to get an accurate picture of your B2B marketing efforts.

Conclusion

The B2B marketing landscape is constantly evolving. Buying behaviors of B2B buyers have shifted significantly and are continuing to do so today. To keep up, B2B marketers must adopt these 5 B2B marketing trends to get high-quality leads and the results they want from their 2020 marketing strategy.

California State Flag

4 Myths About the New California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

On January 1st of this year, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect. It’s the first major comprehensive privacy legislation to be passed in the U.S. for over two decades.

The landmark act gives California consumers control over their online personal information and how a company uses it. More specifically, the CCPA supports California residents with their right to access and review their personal information, as well as know:

  • What personal information about them is being collected, used, shared, or sold;
  • Whether their personal information is being sold and to whom; and
  • How to opt-out of the sale of their personal information.

Additionally, the CCPA grants California consumers the ability to ask companies to delete all of their collected personal data and sue those companies if the privacy guidelines were violated.

If notified of a violation, companies have 30 days to comply with the CCPA regulations, with fines up to $7,500 per consumer record if not resolved. Large tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, have already been hit with billion-dollar lawsuits over violations of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a data privacy law that compares similarly to the CCPA.

Smaller companies, however, do not have that kind of money, leaving them vulnerable to the new legislation. To help your business prepare for the CCPA and avoid unnecessary lawsuits, we have compiled a list of the biggest myths that have been circulating the new law.

Myth #1: Your Business Is NOT Affected Because It’s Not Based in California

Currently, the CCPA affects businesses that meet one of the following criteria:

  • Gross annual revenue of over $25M;
  • Buy, receive, or sell the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices; and/or
  • Derive 50% or more of annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information.

Some companies meet this criterion but believe they are not affected by the privacy law because they are not based in California; however, this is not true. Companies do not need to be based in California, have a physical presence in the state, or even be in the U.S. to be affected by the new law. If they meet the criterion above and serve California residents, they must comply with the CCPA regulations.

Myth #2: GDPR Compliance Guarantees CCPA Compliance

This may come as a surprise, but GDPR compliance does not mean your company is compliant with the CCPA. The biggest difference between the two is that the new privacy law definition of personal data is more expansive than GDPR’s definition. This may drastically impact the data mapping efforts your business implemented to receive GDPR compliance, and additional efforts may need to be taken to comply with the CCPA.

Myth #3: The Information Your Business Has Is Not “Personal Information”

Compared to GDPR, the CCPA has a broader description of the type of personal information considered sensitive. According to the CCPA, personal information can be described as:

  • Identifiers (name, postal address, IP address, email address, account name, social security number, driver’s license number, etc.);
  • Characteristics of protected classification under California or federal law;
  • Commercial information (personal property records, products or services purchased, purchasing history and tendencies, etc.);
  • Biometric information;
  • Geolocation data;
  • Professional or employment-related information;
  • Education information; and/or
  • Audio, electronic, visual, or thermal information.

Basically, if you’re collecting a person’s data online marketing, advertising or other digital initiatives, you more than likely have collected at least one type of personal information. But don’t worry, this isn’t the issue.

The real problem is when a consumer requests a record of their personal information collected by your company. A company has 45 days after the request to provide a comprehensive report of all personal information records. This can be challenging for most companies, as identifying and compiling all data records can be extremely time-consuming.

A good strategy to avoid this problem is to gather less data. Many companies don’t know what personal data they’re collecting, so it may be beneficial to look into the type of information you’re collecting from your customers and assess which areas are unnecessary. This will help your business avoid any legal trouble, as well as potentially create an opportunity to differentiate yourself by showcasing the type of solid privacy protection practices your company employs.

Myth #4: Being Quick to Change Your Policies Is the Best Plan of Action

Though it’s usually better to get things done promptly, the CCPA is the exception to this rule. Data privacy is relatively new to legislation and will continue to be an ongoing process. This means that the current regulations will most likely change in the coming years, so you don’t want to spend so much time and energy into updating all of your policies, only for them to be updated again within a short period.

The best approach to complying with the CCPA is to audit your practices and determine where you stand with personal data and how it is collected, stored, handled, and disclosed. From here, you should be in a good position to identify the next steps in updating your policies. However, it’s worth noting that once these policies are updated, you should revisit them regularly to ensure compliance with the CCPA and avoid any legal actions against your company.

The CCPA has been in effect for only a few months but has already sparked plenty of questions and concerns among businesses and privacy advocates. This is just the start of a trend of increased regulations around consumer privacy, as other states are drafting up their own privacy laws. For now, your company should focus on complying with the CCPA and developing a strategy to handle consumer requests for their personal information records.

AB Test

How to Optimize Your Emails with A/B Testing

Customers fuel the growth of any company. That’s why making sure your customers are receiving the most amount of value out of their relationship with you is important to your company’s marketing efforts. Email marketing is one of the most important tools in your marketing toolbox, with one of the highest returns on investment (ROI): an average return of $42 for every $1 spent, compared to organic and paid social media advertising, organic and paid search, and display ads. In addition, as of 2018, 59% of marketers said that email was their biggest source of ROI. As the primary channel to engage your contacts, you need to optimize your emails with A/B testing to ensure you’re getting the most out of the channel.

Because emails are so important when it comes to nurturing your customers (59% of customers have stated that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions), optimizing your emails to add the right kind of value is a crucial step. For those looking to maximize the ROI of their marketing efforts, here is an overview of email split testing.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of testing two different versions of the same email, with a sample of your audience, to see which one performs better. It tests your regular email (version A) against a variation of your email (version B), where a single element—like a subject line or call-to-action—has changed.

It is important that you only test one element at a time for accurate results. For example, although your audience opens the email, you noticed they were not clicking through to your website. So, when conducting the A/B test, you would only change the wording of your call-to-action in version B and analyze how your click-through rate has changed.

But why is it so important?

Sending the right content to the right audience at the right time equals marketing success. Small differences, like a personalized subject line, call-to-action button, or a later send time can greatly influence the audience’s engagement with the email. That’s why A/B testing and using the data you uncover to improve your emails are so important.

Using concrete data from your split tests, you can make informed decisions about your email marketing campaigns and see if they are performing according to set goals or not. You can even create more effective campaigns, which will lead to more engagement from your audience and, ultimately, more conversions.

Now that you know why email A/B testing should be an essential part of your marketing strategy, here are five easy steps on how to split test.

How can I A/B test?

1.     Look at your email metrics and set a goal.

Analyze your data from past emails before you start split testing. By looking at your metrics, you can set a baseline for measuring your success and notice any areas of improvement. Once you figure out what you want to improve, set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for yourself, a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

For example, after doing some research, you’ve noticed the open rates for your promotional emails, which have historically averaged over 18%, have declined the past few weeks. So, your goal may sound like this: “I want to bring my open rates back up to 18%, two weeks from now.”

2.     Decide what elements of your email you want to A/B test.

Based on your goal, focus on an email element you want to test. Each element directly affects different parts of the conversion process, so make sure to choose carefully. Testing different versions of your design layout, for example, will directly affect how many people click through to your website.

Here is a list of several elements you can test:

  • Call-to-action
  • Subject line
  • Design and layout
  • Body copy
  • Send time

Using the example at step 1, you can test if a more specific and urgent subject line along the lines of “Say goodbye to your exclusive 20% offer!” will increase your open rates more than something like “Last chance to purchase!”

3.     Create your marketing campaign.

The next step is to create your marketing emails. Create an email, version A, based on your past ones. Keeping version A in line with your past campaigns creates a baseline, a standard, you can test your variant against. Based on version A, you can alter the element you decided on in step 2 to create version B of the split test.

4.     Segment your audience into two sample sizes.

Create two sample sizes from your audience list. Make sure both sizes are similar and large enough in order to make your test is accurate. If you use HubSpot like we do, your sample sizes will be automatically calculated for you. HubSpot recommends you have at least 1,000 contacts to see statistically significant results. But, for those who don’t use a marketing tool, an easy and good rule of thumb is to divide your audience 50/50. You can send version A to one segment of your audience and version B to the other.

5.     Analyze your results.

Once the test has started, it is best practice to let your test run for at least 1-2 weeks to get verifiable results. A common mistake when split testing is ending the test too quickly. Since some subscribers may open emails days after it has been sent, it is important to wait before analyzing your results. When the test has officially closed, HubSpot will automatically tell you which version won. But if you don’t have access to HubSpot, here are two free split testing calculators to help you decide the winner: Neil Patel’s A/B Testing Calculator and Survey Monkey’s A/B Testing Calculator.

In Conclusion

With the data you gained from split testing, you can now take actionable steps to help improve and grow your email marketing campaign. If your test has proved inconclusive, don’t be discouraged! The great thing about A/B testing is that you can test as many times as you want. Consistently using split testing will optimize your email campaign so you can maximize the value you provide to your customers.

If you are looking for a way to boost your marketing efforts, we’re here to help! Contact us today to take the first step towards marketing with purpose.

ATAK HubSpot Gold Partner

ATAK Interactive Named HubSpot Gold Agency

In the summer of 2018, I made a decision I did not think I would ever make – I decided that ATAK Interactive needed to become a HubSpot agency. For years, I railed against HubSpot’s Inbound Methodology, which I found, and still find, misleading and ineffective. But once I looked under the hood, I recognized that “Inbound” was a marketing ploy the company used to get more users and agencies to adopt the system and that beneath the “if you blog, they will come” nonsense was an incredible piece of software.

A year and a half later, I couldn’t be a bigger HubSpot evangelist.

As I wrote a few weeks back, the biggest benefit of HubSpot is its ability to combine sales and marketing. I couldn’t recommend a better tool for merging these two impactful growth areas (marketing and sales) that will see each department transform into a single entity over the next decade. And after spreading this message to prospects and customers over the past 20 months, we are entering a new chapter in our relationship with the company.

This spring, ATAK Interactive is being named a HubSpot Gold Partner, after successfully implementing the system with our clients and proving to be a valuable agency partner that helps businesses implement and optimize the tool. We are grateful to the HubSpot team and their support in helping us learn the best practices for agencies, teaching us new ways to use the product, and being there to answer all of our “rookie” questions.

To celebrate what we have achieved with the tool, we wanted to share a couple of features and capabilities that our clients have loved most about the HubSpot…

The Salesforce Integration

Enterprise sales teams typically use Salesforce. As one of my friends in the SaaS world likes to joke, when someone asks her “what CRM do you use?” she replies, “is there more than one?” nodding to Salesforce. The experience sales teams have with the tool was the driver in helping them grow to a billion-dollar company. Unfortunately, the marketing tools they have in their Marketing Cloud and Pardot do not typically have the same positive reception. This is what makes the Salesforce and HubSpot integration so powerful. It’s combining two amazing pieces of technology, so sales teams can utilize the workflows, customer behavior monitoring, and automation tools that marketers have loved for years. While the integration can be tedious depending on contacts, properties, and historical data, the two platforms play nice together and the integration is fairly seamless.

Automated Outreach

ATAK always aims to be a sales team’s best friend. Whether it’s constructing clear messages, designing attractive collateral, or generating qualified leads, we try to give our partners all the ammo they need to grow their business. The latest is how we can develop sequences and workflows for their sales teams to automate – but still personalize – their outreach emails to prospects and leads. Beyond the simple construction of workflows, sales teams can be notified when prospects open an email, click a link, or visit one of their website pages, giving them valuable insight as to what matters most to that particular lead. It’s easy to build, easy to customize, and helps save time for our “best friends.”

Streamlined Operations

While I won’t keep harping on just how much HubSpot streamlines sales and marketing (even if it TOTALLY does!), I’ll illustrate that streamlining different areas of your business can go far beyond these two arms of a business. For starters, HubSpot’s Service Hub houses customer service tools like a ticketing system, ticketing pipeline, live chat, conversational bots, and more. Having Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service all on the same page, seeing what’s going on with important customers and prospects, is incredibly value. However, some clients take it even further. Whether they’re integrating HubSpot with project management tools like Asana, finance tools like Quickbooks, or communication tools like Slack, companies can make sure their systems are working together. One client of ours even built a 12-step development process they use for their clients into HubSpot so every person in their company can see where each customer is in their journey.

If you’re interested in learning more about how HubSpot can benefit your business, and you want to talk to a GOLD Partner (high fives all around #TeamATAK), feel free to shoot me an email at austin@atakinteractive.com and I can help you carve a vision of how your company can get the most out of the tool.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone on our team that has helped our customers grow with HubSpot. 👊

HubSpot Sales and Marketing

How HubSpot Integrates Sales and Marketing

“The hurt caused to companies (of any size) by the technology silos between marketing and sales departments will force a fundamental relook at how they deploy these technologies. Marketing & sales can no longer afford to be separated technologically or strategically – bridging the age-old gap has to happen now to ensure continued revenue growth.”

Satya Krishnaswamy, Head of Personalization, Adobe

If you believe the gap between Sales and Marketing functions in the B2B space is going to continue to close in the 2020s, look no further than the technology. While we can outline the many reasons sales and marketing departments have been at odds over the years, it’s safe to say there’s never been a time when getting these two on the same page has been easier.

For companies that use HubSpot, multiply that last sentence by 10x.

Traditionally, HubSpot has marketed itself as a platform for inbound marketing. They created the category “inbound marketing,” and built the technology to support that function to great success in the mid-2000s and early 2010s. But the true strength of the platform has shifted.

Inbound used to promote itself through an “if you blog it, they will come” lens. Create compelling content, publish it on your blog, schedule it on your social media channels, and watch as your inbox gets flooded with leads! That part of inbound has and always will be a myth. But the part of inbound that DOES work is utilizing the content you’re creating in all parts of the customer lifecycle to help grow the company.

Nowadays, HubSpot’s strength is that it allows sales teams to see how effective its marketing team is performing for each contact, understand what the prospect is actually interested in, and change the conversation accordingly. Essentially, this is the technology answer to changing this…

to this…

Somehow, the company that railed against sales teams and outbound tactics has built the perfect tool for them to gather the intelligence they need to succeed at their job.

In 2014, HubSpot added a CRM. Since then, it has added a fully flourished Sales Hub with tools for outreach, lead nurturing, pipeline segmentation, and so much more. Its technology essentially “spies” on any prospect who has given you their information (whether through one of your website forms, or via email) and you can track, among others, every email they open, blog post they read, and page on your website they visit.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Let’s look at how each operates:

On the left, you see how Sales teams generally Attract, Connect, Close, and Delight their prospects and customers. On the right, you see the same for marketing.

Let’s look at how Marketing + Sales teams use HubSpot at each step.

Attract

For sales, it’s never been easier to automate outreach than it is with HubSpot. If you have a prospect list you built through LinkedIn or other means, you can put prospects into an automated sequence with ease.

With Marketing, all of your Google Ad tracking is seamlessly integrated into HubSpot, and your social media posts can be published directly through the platform.

Connect

For salespeople, connecting generally occurs during conversation and opens up an opportunity to educate someone on what it is they do. Creating personalized content through templated landing pages and emails is simple and intuitive with HubSpot. When you connect HubSpot forms, any lead generated becomes automatically entered into your CRM and as mentioned above, you will now be able to watch their every move 😉

Close 

The process from Connect to Close varies in length and difficulty for companies. But for Sales and Marketing teams looking to come together, this is where the tool plays nicely.

With the email integrations, workflows can be automated based on prospect behavior. Not returning an email? Let’s send Prospect A into Workflow A and remind them 3 days from now. Did they visit our website? Let’s send Prospect B into Workflow B and provide more educational content based on which page they came to.

Sales teams can use email templates based on situations, have meetings scheduled from their calendars, enroll prospects in a series of highly personalized email sequences, and find relevant files easily as they try to close their prospect into a customer.

Delight

There are two types of customer delight – educational and experiential. HubSpot makes the educational part of delighting a customer – teaching them the latest and greatest – incredibly easy and relevant.

Their SEO tool helps you research topics that people are showing interest in, and offer some derivatives as well, enabling you to create blog content relevant to your audience. As mentioned earlier, you can schedule your social media posts straight from their publishing tool. As your contacts start interacting with your content, HubSpot allows you to track this behavior,  so you can gain the intel needed to write the perfect follow-up to topics.

But the biggest benefit? Everybody’s playing in the same sandbox!

Too often, the divide between marketing and sales is how they are siloed. With HubSpot, each department has access to the same files, can monitor where prospects are in the customer lifecycle and make smart decisions accordingly, and run reports that show the effectiveness of their efforts.

The structural benefits of having the Sales Hub where one department lives each day integrated with the Marketing Hub, where the other department lives, allows all parties to row the boat in the same direction, coming together to help grow your company.

Google Search

What The Google BERT Update Means For SEO

Google BERT marks another major update to the company’s search algorithm in 2019. 

The Most Important Update in Five Years 

At the end of October 2019, Google announced a Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers update, lovingly referred to as BERT. Google also took the unusual step of announcing that the release was the most significant update to its search algorithm in five years. They also stated that they expected BERT to impact at least 10% of ALL search queries.  

So, What is Google BERT? 

According to  Google:  

“Well, by applying BERT models to both ranking and featured snippets in Search, we’re able to do a much better job helping you find useful information. In fact, when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time. 

Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.” 

In a nutshell, BERT has resulted in a significant leap in Google’s ability to not only better understand the context in queries, but to also apply the learning to longer and more conversational search queries.  

Google has been able to reach this breakthrough in query processing thanks to its work in neural networks and machine learning. 

What Does BERT Mean for My Site’s SEO? 

The long and short of it is, not much and everything.  

Because BERT deals with the way Google interprets user’s search queries, it doesn’t directly affect your on-site SEO. However, since Google is now much better at taking context into account, it’s far more critical than ever for your site content to be clear and well written.  

SEOs should look to focus on creating highly specific, well-written content. Your content should be unique, authoritative, and trustworthy. 

Ok, but Can I See Some Examples of Google BERT in Action… 

We get it. It can be hard to understand how Google BERT is going to affect search queries.  

Let’s look at some examples provided by Google:

Google search results example before and after Google BERT for travel to brazil

Notice how the search results changed drastically after BERT has been applied. 

Instead of returning a news article bout travel to Brazil, the algorithm is now intelligent enough to understand the intent of the searcher and provides a result that answers the search query more accurately.

Google search results page before and after Google BERT for

In this example, we once again see how Google BERT has greatly improved the understanding of the context of a question. The much-improved understanding of the search query provides a much better search result that not only answers the user’s question, but also understands their intent.

Conclusion 

So far, we’ve told you what Google BERT is and what it does. We’ve also told you it’s going to affect a large number of searches and search results. That all sounds bad, but we promise it’s not. 

While the update may lead to a drop in search traffic, that’s not necessarily a terrible thing.  

Why? 

Well, because Google is now better able to understand the context of queries, it should do a much better job of weeding out traffic that is not likely to convert and probably should never have visited your site in the first place. 

Lastly, BERT is an excellent reminder to all SEOs to go back and review their site content.  

In cases where you do see a drop in traffic, take the time to review the content on those pages and refresh and optimize them as necessary. 

SEO has long been about creating unique, quality content, and Google BERT is another reminder that all of the content you create should focus on answering the questions your site visitors are asking.  

If you believe your site has been affected by the Google BERT update? ATAK can help …..Contact Us Today.

Audience in facebook

How To Use Facebook Audiences To Grow Your Business

With more than 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is, without a doubt, the most important social media network today. As marketers, it is impossible to ignore these statistics and the treasure trove of data these billions of users have given Facebook access to. Thanks to this insight, you can now create Facebook audiences that can help take your business to the next level.

Read on to learn more about how Facebook has turned this data into actionable data that has allowed marketers to cut through the noise and target the right customers at the right time.

With your standard pay per click (PPC) advertising model, marketers are tasked with making educated guesses (at best) about their prospective customer’s intents and habits. That means trying to find the keywords they’re most likely to use when searching for your service or product. Altogether, that limits a marketers ability to target potential customers and despite the best data, still involves some guessing and luck.

Facebook is different.

Because of the immense wealth of knowledge they have gathered from their users, they have given advertisers incredible control over who they are targeting, when they’re targeting them, and how they’re targeting them.

One quick thing: The Facebook pixel is a piece of code that needs to be installed on your site before you can take advantage of Facebook’s targeting options. Check out our post on the Facebook Pixel to learn more about it and how to set it up.

Now, let’s dive into Facebook targeting options.

Facebook targeting options are organized around “audiences.” You can think of audiences as the market(s) or persona(s) you are looking to target with your services, products, and marketing message. They allow you to target broadly or very specifically with options like age, gender, location, interests, job title, education, and more.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg and still involves a fair bit of guessing about your ideal customer’s demographics, interests, and more.

Thankfully, Facebook provides marketers with 3 core audience types that allow for varying degrees of specificity: 1) Saved Audiences, 2) Custom Audiences, and 3) Lookalike Audiences.

Let’s start with ‘Saved Audiences.’

Saved audiences will be familiar to every marketer out there, especially those that regularly work with personas.

These audiences allow you to target to market and customer demographics like the ones mentioned above. You can then save the audience and continue to use or modify it across different campaigns.

Despite how well you know the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customer or client, saved audiences are still cold audiences and should be treated as such. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. In fact, custom and lookalike audiences both depend on saved audiences to be most effective, so spend some time making them as dialed in as possible.

Once you nail down your saved audiences, it’s time to move on Facebook’s higher converting audience options: Custom Audiences.

Custom Audiences

Custom audiences are Facebook’s highest converting targeting option and with good reason.

These audiences allow you to craft audiences in a few ways. For example, you can upload a list of customer emails or phone numbers, and once matched, show ads to just those groups of people.

If you have installed the Facebook pixel on your site (if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?), you can create audiences based off any number of actions people have taken on your website.

You can target people who have visited your website, specific pages on your site, and/or performed specific actions while there. If you have an app, you can target people based on the actions they’ve taken while using it.

Custom audiences are so powerful because you get to skip having to guess who your ideal client or customer is. With the information custom audiences provide, you can target your ideal customer with an exact marketing message at the perfect time.

If you’re serious about using Facebook ads to drive business growth, taking your time to create valuable custom audiences is well worth the effort. By doing so, you’ll put yourself in an excellent position to take full advantage of Lookalike Audiences.

Lookalike Audiences

Finally, we have lookalike audiences.

Once you have a created valuable custom audiences, Facebook can use its vast data to match the users in your custom audiences with other Facebook users that share many of the same characteristics.

With lookalike audiences, you can then target users that you would never have known to target otherwise.

One thing to keep in mind regarding lookalike audiences: Facebook gives you multiple options to pick from when it comes to the size of your audience. The smaller your audience, the more closely it will match your target audience, the bigger the audience, the broader, less exact your matching will be.

One Last Thing…

Although Facebook’s targeting options make our lives easier as marketers, there are still some best practices we need to follow to get the most out of the platform.

First, you need to make sure you are placing your audiences in their correct places along your buyer’s journey. Treating a lookalike audience as if they are a long-time customer is a sure-fire way to waste the advantage those audiences are giving you.

Second, your marketing message matters! You still need to address your customer’s pain points, your unique selling proposition.

Finally, make sure your message is tailored to where your audience is in their buyer’s journey.

We hope you can see why Facebook’s targeting options are crucial in today’s advertising climate. With countless options ranging from broad to pin-point specifics, Facebook has given marketers a powerful tool to add to their marketing toolkits.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Facebook advertising can help your business grow, we’d love to help. Drop us a note, we’d love to chat!

Facebook business ad page

Why The Facebook Pixel Is Essential To Your eCommerce Business

With more than 1 billion active daily users, Facebook has become a staple of many people’s daily lives. As an eCommerce business today, the social network is virtually impossible to ignore and doing so can significantly impact sales and performance. 2018 statistics show that more than 93% of marketers use Facebook for advertising and more than 3 million businesses use Facebook to promote their services or products. Facebook has taken notice of these statistics as well and it has taken the immense amount of data it collects to help advertisers market their products and services to their ideal customers at the ideal time. Read on to learn how the Facebook Pixel is essential for businesses looking for eCommerce success on Facebook.  

What is the Facebook Pixel? 

With more than 2 billion monthly users, the chances of reaching your ideal audience on Facebook are high. But, as all marketers know, reaching your customers is only half the battle. You also need to be able to serve them with the correct marketing message at the correct time. That means using analytics to know what products and services matter to them most, when they’ve added products to their cart but failed to check out, and more. 

Enter the Facebook Pixel. Facebook created the pixel to provide marketers with a way to track the performance of their advertising efforts. More importantly, the pixel tracks the actions users take after clicking on an ad on Facebook. The pixel is simply a piece of code that gets added to every page of your website. The pixel is simple to install if you are comfortable working with your website’s code. Otherwise, a web developer can easily help complete the task.  

Once installed, the pixel is triggered when someone visits your website and takes an action(s). It then reports this action. These actions are important in two ways:   

  1. They allow you build custom audiences that help you find more potential customers and clients
  1. they allow Facebook’s algorithm to become better and better at serving your ads to people that will be more likely to take certain actions. Some of the actions you can track include pages/products viewed, items added to cart, abandoned carts, checkouts, and more. 

As a marketer, having access to this information should put a giant smile on your face. 

What Can The Pixel Do? 

As we mentioned above, one of the greatest features of the Facebook Pixel is the ability to create custom audiences, and by extension lookalike audiences. Because the pixel can track several actions, it gives marketers the ability to create highly targeted visitor segments and serve them ads tightly tied to the actions or products they have interacted with.  That alone would be an incredible advantage for marketers.  

However, because Facebook has collected so much data from its users, it can also use custom audiences to find other people with the same likes, interests, and characteristics. These audiences are called “Lookalike Audiences” and can help you reach millions of additional potential customers.  

Can you see how helpful that is to marketers constantly on the lookout for new customers? Marketing strives to create a personal connection with potential customers and having the ability to cut through the noise with targeted messages is a tremendous advantage. 

The real beauty of the pixel, however, is in its ability to track your visitors’ actions. The pixel allows you to dynamically target users with ads for the exact products or services they were viewing. You can target users who placed items in their cart but did not checkout with special offers to entice them to come back and complete their purchase. You can even walk a potential client through your entire funnel by setting up the pixel to track their actions on your site. 

What If I Use A Software Platform Like Shopify or Magento? 

Luckily, because the pixel is a simple piece of code, it can work across a wide number of websites.  

If your business runs on a popular eCommerce platform like Shopify or Magento, the process is even easier. As preferred partners, both Magento and Shopify make it even easier to install the Facebook Pixel and start collecting data.  

Magento offers a plugin that quickly and easily adds the pixel. For a step by step guide to installing the pixel, you can visit Facebook’s own support page.  

Shopify’s installation process is even simpler. 

Regardless of your website’s backend, there is no reason not to have the Facebook Pixel installed and collecting data. 

Conclusion

As we hope you can see, the Facebook Pixel is a powerful piece of code that can help supercharge your business. With the help of the pixel, through custom or lookalike audiences, reaching your target personas and fine-tuning your targeting helps maximize marketing budget and minimizes wasted spend. Once you’ve reached your target audience, the pixel takes things a step further and allows you to target them with messages that address the actions they have taken and interests they have shown on your website. For marketers, this combination should be too good to pass up.  

At ATAK, we understand the incredible advantage the Facebook Pixel provides and so we ensure pixel tracking is implemented across all our client’s websites and eCommerce stores.  

We hope we’ve given you a good idea of what the Facebook Pixel is and why having it installed on your website is non-negotiable. If you have any questions about the pixel, feel free to reach out. We’d love to chat! 

Sponsored post in instagram feed

These Are The Instagram Metrics You Should Be Measuring

Ed Note: This week, ATAK’s Marketing Manager Sarah Shimoda shares some insight on the real Instagram metrics you should be focusing on. For help attracting, connecting, closing, and delighting your customers on Instagram, schedule a consultation with us today. Enjoy!

Instagram has changed over the past few years and is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. The company launched the Boomerang photo app in 2015, shifted their chronological algorithm in early 2016 to show users the “best” posts first, and introduced their version of Snapchat,  Stories, that transformed the product completely. With all these changes and features Instagram produces and hitting over 600 million monthly active users, it has earned its spot as one of the top social media channels, making it a crucial platform for businesses, big or small.

When it comes to companies using Instagram, posting about their product and using fun hashtags are one thing (or two things, technically), but it can get a little daunting when it comes to looking at the actual numbers and understanding the impact of users responding to posts. Let’s break down some of the most important metrics to measure when it comes to your business’s Instagram account.

Engagement Metric

This goes without saying, but it’s safe to conclude that pretty much everyone likes to be liked — both in real life and in the digital space. When you have an Instagram account for your business, receiving a bunch of likes and comments not only gives you a sense of validation in your product, but also gives you important metrics to help you measure your account’s engagement to give you an idea of how your content is performing and how it resonates with your customers and potential customers.

Key Metric to Pay Attention to

Your profile’s engagement rate is arguably the most vital metric to take into account when it comes to Instagram. After all, Instagram’s new algorithm looks to bump the most engaging posts to the top in order to enhance the users’ experience. According to Iconosquare, the sweet spot for an account’s engagement rate falls between 3-6%. Being available to respond immediately to comments is a crucial component in order to help increase your chances of getting more engagement on your post, and achieving your goals.

We are all familiar with accounts that have thousands of followers, but upon digging deeper in their feed, we find they have noticeably low likes and comments compared to how many followers they have. Not only is it off-putting, but it deters the user from your call-to-action, whether it’s something as simple as leaving a comment or subscribing to your newsletter. Don’t be one of these accounts!

Think of engaging with people on your account as a form of customer service. In real life when dealing with customers, good or bad, you wouldn’t just ignore them, right? You would engage with them. Having conversations with your customers through the comments section is a way to have them return to your account and continue engaging with the content you put out. This is especially important when you are in the process of growing your following. Of course, once you start getting hundreds of comments per post, it’s nearly impossible to keep up and respond to each one, but it’s certainly a good habit to start early on to show your customers you’re a real person.

Audience Metrics

Determining your audience is a vital part of helping you figure out who your customers are — which is one of the first things to think about when mapping out your marketing strategy. In your Instagram account, you can learn some interesting facts about your followers, such as location, age range, gender, and even the day and time your followers tend to be the most active on Instagram. With this type of data in hand, it’s a great place to start to test out different content that aligns with your demographic.

Key Metric to Pay Attention to

Aside from metrics such as gender, location, and age, Instagram has another metric under Audience that provides data on the average times and days your followers are on Instagram. In the example below, we see a good amount of this account’s followers are on Instagram around 3pm on Mondays. This tells us they should plan to release their upcoming posts at this time and assess its performance from there.

Stories

Rolled out in 2016, Stories is Instagram’s version of Snapchat, which allows users to post photos or videos that are visible for 24 hours. Stories play a big role in Instagram now, with users interacting just as much with this as regular posts, and we think a part of this is due to Stories being right at the top when you open Instagram. With that, if it makes sense for your business, Stories would be a great thing to participate in, if you aren’t already.

Additionally, Instagram added a feature to this called “Highlights” where you can choose some of your past Stories and make them visible and permanent on your Instagram account, under your bio. Think of these as the best of your Stories that you think are useful and worth having users return to, hence calling them highlights. This would be good to document a product launch, an ongoing giveaway or contest, tutorials and more.

Key Metric to Pay Attention to

Some of the important metrics related to Stories you should take note of are Forward and Back. These are the actions that users do when they are viewing your Stories. If you’re seeing a lot of users tapping forward on your Stories, it’s important for you to try to determine why. Typically, this is a good indicator that your content didn’t resonate with the user, so be sure to make note of that and try to optimize your future Stories to prevent forward taps. On the other hand, if you’re seeing some traction on your back taps, then this could potentially mean your story caught the user’s eye, and they wanted to go back and view it again, which is good! Be sure to take note of that content and test it in future Stories.

Now that you have a better understanding of some of the top Instagram metrics, you have the knowledge to confidently dive into your account to analyze your numbers in order to determine the next steps to improve your content and grow your following.

Inbound Through the Eyes of a New Marketer

Ed. note: Today, ATAK’s very own Content Marketing Coordinator, Meredith Burns, is sharing a few thoughts on her goal to learn more about the importance of inbound marketing. Enjoy!

Up until a few months ago, I had about as much marketing experience as your local neighborhood kid selling lemonade at the end of the street. I knew that a good-looking sign, the need for refreshment, and an affordable price of 50¢ a cup were what I needed to make the sale. Seemed easy enough to get the hang of, right? My previous education and career background had prepared me for the classical music and digital media markets, so I had dabbled in self-promotion before. I was looking for a career change that would let me express myself but also give me the opportunity to help others in the process. My nature is to seek out a challenge, so I pursued a career in a totally different area. After months of taking volunteer jobs and applying, I landed a spot at ATAK Interactive. And so, my journey began!

I had quite a bit of ground to make up on the marketing front. I was quickly introduced to HubSpot as a guide. My new managers and colleagues encouraged me to take a look into the courses on HubSpot Academy. One of my goals for my first quarter of employment was to complete and pass the Inbound certification. I had never heard of Inbound but it sounded good and I knew that it was something that our company had implemented in their strategy. I was preparing myself for a whole new way of thinking. This felt like a great way to dive head-first into the marketing pool.

My first impression of Inbound: not blown away. Turns out the main concept behind Inbound was something I felt like I had been doing since my lemonade stand days. According to HubSpot, Inbound is the “philosophy based around helping people.” It was neither groundbreaking nor a new concept to me. Sure, seems like a great way to generate leads and get people to like you. People love being helped! The Inbound that HubSpot gives us comes off as an “if you blog it, tweet it, Instagram it, they will come” approach.

With that being said, Inbound does have its strengths. There are quite a few tools that have been helpful in my professional growth. Here are some of the things that worked for me from a fresh standpoint:

What Worked  

The main aspect of this method that I liked is that it was a systemized process. Some of it is overcomplicated, but for the most part, it gave me the guidelines I needed.

  • Attract, Engage, Delight: It has a nice ring to it. It’s a logical way to market. With this process, both the business and the customer benefit in the end. I can think of MANY companies that could really benefit from a reminder of the “delight” stage. Inbound does a good job of making it understood that the process must be continuous and that appreciating the customer for their opinions and perspective will encourage them to come back for more. In my few months here, I have seen how invaluable this is. With so many personalities and perspectives, a majority of clients/customers will respond best to an empathetic employee.
  • Building a SCOPE
    • SCOPE stands for Standardize for consistency, Contextualize for relevance, Optimize for clarity, Personalize for impact, Empathize for perspective. These steps fit within attract, engage, delight and are another broken down process that I think is easy to lose sight of. As a content creator and project manager, this process is especially relevant to my daily work. If I am not making timely and relevant content, then I am not really creating anything of much value. My job is to guide clients who have little to no experience in managing their digital image. The SCOPE model is helpful for both myself and my clients to monitor their social media presence

What Didn’t Work

  • Combining Funnels and Flywheels
    • HubSpot started to lose me on this one. It was way too complicated, and the metaphor just didn’t click for me. I understood the purpose of the flywheel (as representing company growth), but when they tried to fit “funnels” (a representation of the different steps in the Buyer’s Journey) INSIDE of a flywheel, it seemed messy. I had to re-watch the video so that I could pass the test, and I still didn’t quite grasp it.
  • Inbound is PASSIVE
    • This is a biggie. The Attract stage of the Inbound methodology is supposed to be the moment when the prospective client becomes hooked. The components of this stage include: posting ads, videos, blogs, and creating unique content for social media based on a content strategy. Yes, all of these are great ways to get your information out there, but as someone who comes from a non-marketing background, I was expecting to learn a more aggressive way to make a first impression. This version of Inbound seems to rely solely on digital avenues that don’t require much conversation. This is a more hands-off approach.
    • On the flip side, being too aggressive can definitely drive people away. I can’t count the number of times that the fitness club, Equinox, has contacted me within the first week of me expressing even the slightest amount of interest in membership. It honestly drove me away and made me feel like they needed me more than I needed them. Desperate much? So in that sense, airing on the passive side does sound safe. However, just putting out a blog or posting a cool graphic and hoping that it will make an impression is not going to be the only way to get a lead. Setting up a phone call, face-to-face meeting, and showing up a to support your client at events have gone a long way for me so far in my marketing career.

Why Did I Need to Learn This?

I sat down with ATAK Interactive’s CMO, Austin LaRoche (aka, my boss’s boss’s boss), to get the 411 on how this actually is going to help me out in the long run. Here were a few key points he made:

Inbound gets misconstrued and essentially has just become the nomenclature for how we define our online lead generation. It’s about getting good leads to come to us and that’s something that’s really important for companies to be able to do to be able to grow their business.

Okay… got it. Makes sense.

“With a lot of clients that we work with and have success with, I don’t want to call it unintentional Inbound, but it’s been a mixture of a lot of different things. Instead of just ‘if you blog it, they will come,’ we have also done a lot of hard work to connect with local media outlets and face-to-face interaction. That type of exposure helps us get more Inbound leads. When you break down the fundamentals of it, like you did, you can kind of see some of the flaws. It helps you to be able to put it into perspective. As long as you recognize that the methodology is not the end-all-be-all, you’ll see that it’s being able to take the things that work from it and then making them work for our clients.”

Well when you put it like that, I can see why understanding Inbound will be helpful. One step closer to being a real marketer. YEAH! All joking aside, Austin essentially needed me to understand Inbound because it is an important method in the digital world that we live in today. While a very passive approach on its own, we can tailor our strategy to be more proactive and in turn “delight” the customer based on their individual needs. Implementing Inbound into my work has been both intuitive and unintuitive. Overall, the Inbound methodology is a helpful guideline in developing strong business and personal connections.

email marketing trends that matter in 2019

Email Marketing Trends that Actually Matter in 2019

Every day our inboxes are flooded with emails from companies trying to sell us on something. If you receive 20 or more email marketing messages a day, odds are, most of them get sent straight to the trash bin. Too many businesses believe in quantity over quality when it comes to blasting those on their email marketing list – this is a big no, no!

If you take a step back and put yourself in the consumers’ shoes, you’ll find that it’s starting to take a toll on their level of trust with some of these organizations. Especially, those that buy or sell email lists. But, from a business owner’s perspective, with all the clutter landing in consumers’ inboxes, how do you set yourself apart from the competition? Reading more on emerging email marketing trends and applying them is a great start! Below, we’ll provide you with an overview of 2019 email marketing trends that matter the most. Embrace them, and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.

Personalization Vs. Privacy

As we touched on earlier, consumers are becoming distrustful of large companies that are misusing their data. Those who are angry are speaking out and governments are responding. In 2018, we saw GDPR take effect in Europe and the passage of broad privacy regulations in the state of California. Restrictions are likely to only get more rigid this year.

That said, consumers expect a certain level of personalization in marketing messages and web experience. According to Adobe, 33% of consumers say companies recommending products that don’t match their interests is the main reason they unsubscribe. Ultimately, consumers want to know how their data is being used and that it’s being used in ways to benefit them, not exploit them.

Smarter Spam Filters with AI and Machine Learning

Not only are marketers catching on to AI/machine learning technology, but Email Service Providers (ESPs) are increasingly growing their data sets to improve algorithms that can block and filter out all kinds of spam messages. According to SpamLaws.com, spam makes up about 45% of all emails and 73% of this figure points to identity theft. This year, more than ever will be a challenge for senders’ emails to land in inboxes if they consistently produce a low open rate.

Design Matters

Since the birth of email started out as a purely text-based channel, marketers have traditionally paid more attention to producing quality copy, along with headers, and proper grammar. In 2019, that has all changed. Gone are the days when captivating copy was the only important aspect of a blog or campaign. Marketers have begun to realize that effective posts are as much about the imagery as the words, and we are focusing on design elements such as animated illustrations, icons, bold button colors, and more. As we start to see an influx of traffic and engagement, expect to see this trend go even further as marketer’s design efforts pay off.

Interactive Content Takes off

As marketers, we know campaigns should be dynamic and not static, it’s 2019 after all. Today, it’s even easier than years prior for marketing platforms to make it seamless to add a host of interactive elements, and we’re here for it. Emails are now including things like image carousels, navigational anchor tags, sliders, survey forms, and more.

There are other more basic ways marketers can enable audiences to engage and interact with messages, such as including a “reply to us” option for recipients. This option makes it more important than ever for senders to continue to have an active email address available, otherwise, it makes you look like you don’t give a rat’s ass about your customer. When we all know, this is simply not the case. At a minimum, senders should consider experimenting with this sort of simple interactivity to boost engagement and experiment with this trend in 2019.

Some Parting Words to Leave You With…

Though email may be one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, it’s definitely not obsolete. On the contrary, it still has the power to make or break your business, so you better prepare for the coming trends and embrace the advanced tactics in this field in order to remain competitive and dominate within your market place.

By using email marketing that involves a combination of personalization, smart technology, bold design, and interactive content, you can take your business to the next level and grow your subscriber base considerably. Before going all in, just make sure to test all of our suggestions and let us know in the comments if you need any additional help or just reach out to us.

Now go forth and be awesome!

ATAK at Inbound3 1

Why We Decided to Become a Hubspot Partner

Over the next 6 months, ATAK is excited to make a series of announcements about our company and some of the new frontiers we will soon be entering. The first of these comes today.

ATAK is now a HubSpot Agency, and after just a short month with them, have already become Silver Partners.

I want to take a little time and express why we chose to team with HubSpot and why we believe in the company and their vision.

For anyone unfamiliar, HubSpot describes themselves as “inbound marketing and sales software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.” At their core, they are a software company. But like many great organizations, they know why they do what they do and have built an evangelical following of agencies and clients because of it.

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6 B2B Marketing Strategies for 2019

The world of business to business marketing is constantly expanding and best practices are changing rapidly. When was the last time you updated your company’s B2B marketing strategy? We want to make sure you’re staying up to date with the most effective strategies so you can maintain your competitive edge. Read on for some of our top B2B strategies to help your company get ahead.

1. Sophisticate Your Email Marketing by Keeping Your CRM Well Maintained

The first step to effective marketing is to know your customer really well. One way you can achieve this is by keeping your CRM in tip-top shape. A CRM is only useful if you keep your lists well maintained, ensuring all information is up to date, labeling your campaigns accurately and clearly, standardizing your data conventions across the board, and doing regular audits for data quality. With a clean list, you can begin sending much more targeted email campaigns to prospects at all stages of the funnel, in specific regions, industries, etc.

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SEO Mistakes You’re Probably Making

6 SEO Mistakes You’re Probably Making (And How to Fix Them)

Sure, it’s easy to nod along whenever your colleagues mention SEO, but sometimes all the jargon goes right over your head. Ranking. Organic. Keyword Density. Trust us, you’re not alone. But don’t let it intimidate you. As complicated as SEO can be, there are still very simple steps you can implement today that will ensure your content is up to industry SEO standards.

First off, what is SEO really, and why does it matter? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that it’s more likely a search engine, like Google or Bing, serves your link as the top result when users search a keyword. It’s important that your content pages are optimized because it will help increase site traffic which in turn can increase leads and transactions.

Well if SEO is so important, everyone’s probably pretty great at it, right? Turns out, even some of the best website out there make these seven common SEO mistakes:

1. Having Messy URLs

Keep your URLs as clean and concise as possible to help improve SEO rankings and user experience. Some blog visual editors, like WordPress, automatically pull in the title or first line of the blog post into the URL field. Often times, this is a bit too long and chock full of grammatical articles, like “the” or “an”. Always take the time to shorten these URLs until they simply contain pertinent words. For example, if your article title is “32 Reasons Why Lemurs Are Super Awesome”, you can tailor your URL down to “/awesome-lemurs” or “/reasons-lemurs-awesome”.

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instagram stories

Can You Use Instagram Stories to Increase Sales?

Instagram added Instagram Stories as a way to compete with the app millennials are obsessed with, SnapChat. Now it’s become its own entity and brands are finding unique ways to use it towards their marketing and content efforts, from increasing online traffic to generating foot traffic to offering special deals.

What are Instagram Stories?

First, you may be saying to yourself, “I’ve seen these ‘Instagram Stories’ before but what are they exactly?” Great question. Instagram Stories is a feature that lets you post images, 15 second video clips, or text, that vanish in 24 hours. It also includes a “live” function, which we will only cover briefly today. Why would something so ephemeral be beneficial to your content strategy? Instagram Stories is a great tool to help your brand stay top of mind because they’re shown in real time. This means each time you add a story, your brand pops to the front of the line-up and your followers are more likely to see it. Also, the more often you post content that incentivizes users (i.e. coupon codes, secret sales), the more your followers will be trained to check your stories on a daily basis.

It might seem like a lot to digest, but don’t worry. We’re going to break it into seven very simple steps you can take to use Instagram Stories to increase sales.

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linkedin profile improvement

How to Optimize Your Company LinkedIn Page in 40 Minutes (or Less!)

You’ve been connecting with colleagues and peers on LinkedIn for years but have you tapped into the power of LinkedIn company pages? Having an optimized LinkedIn company page can help you stay top of mind, become a thought leader in your industry, and attract top talent. Here are seven simple ways to spruce up your company page.

To Get Started

Simply click on the “Me” icon in the upper right corner, and click on your company page. Once there, hit “Overview” and use the small pencil icon on the top right corner of each section to edit the content within.

1. Add a Banner

Time Spent: 5 minutes
Swap out LinkedIn’s default banner image for a branded one; it’s a quick change that packs a big punch. We recommend keeping it simple and using your company’s homepage as a reference point, it’s best for your users to have a cohesive experience between platforms.

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Facebook Targeting Strategies

8 Facebook Targeting Strategies You Should Try Today

If you’ve spent hours wringing your hands over your Facebook ads strategy, you’re not alone. The clunky UI, confusing options, and vague reporting tend to elicit frustration from even the most experienced digital marketer. It doesn’t have to be this way. Check out these eight tried and true strategies that will help you unlock the full potential of your Facebook ads.
(Note: Many of these strategies only work if you have the Facebook Pixel installed on your website. If you haven’t installed this already, you can learn how to do so here.)

1. Utilize Life Event Targeting

Facebook is always reminding you about your friends’ life events: birthdays, engagements, weddings, you name it. You can actually use Facebook’s rich, life event knowledge to your advantage when creating targeted Facebook ads. This means if you’re a florist, you can target people that have an upcoming birthday or who have just gotten engaged.

2. Enhance Remarketing Strategies

Sometimes customers need that one extra nudge before purchasing. You want to make sure that if they’ve engaged with a product ad in the past, make sure they’re seeing that same product again, you can do this through creating a remarketing strategy. Consider your customer funnell and remarket based on what their interest and intent may be. For example, if you’re retargeting to users who have landed on your blog, you’ll likely want to serve them content focused ads, while as if it’s users that have landed on a product page, you’d prefer to serve them a product ad.

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AV ipad mockup

How a Fully Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign Delivered Results

Last September, Anderson & Vreeland prepared for their largest trade show of the year, LabelExpo Americas 2016. Inside their booth was some of the most cutting edge equipment in flexographic printing – the Flint nyloflex Xpress, the Xeikon ThermoflexX, and the AV Flexologic SAMM 800.

But the highlight for the company was the “Great Packaging Starts with a Great Workflow” exhibition. For months leading up to LabelExpo, A&V had unveiled an optimal printing process that began with the Hybrid Packz software, moved to GMG for color precision, and used the Screen Truepress Jet L350UV to print pristine and vibrant labels with a rapid turnaround. To showcase the workflow, the company partnered with Chicago’s Church Street Brewery to re-design the label for their seasonal Helles Bock and print the new label through this new process.

Inside the LabelExpo booth were bottles of freshly brewed and delicious Helles Bock for prospects to enjoy while they learned how the label on the beer they were drinking was developed.

It was the culmination of a five month integrated marketing campaign led by ATAK Interactive that would help the company sell 20% more product than they had at the previous LabelExpo.

Here’s how we built, executed, and delivered this successful campaign from start to finish.

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GO campaign mockup

6 Strategies for Building a Nonprofit Website in 2019

Every nonprofit organization can benefit from having a digital presence to solidify their mission and spread their message. The process of website development can be overwhelming. At ATAK, we help clients get down to the core of their identity, and use this to guide the website design and development process.

Attracting new donors, and staying top-of-mind with everyone in your donor base, is a complicated balance in 2019. Mindful and well-meaning donors can still become forgetful as time goes on, necessitating ongoing marketing work and the importance of integrating donor database, payment, and media systems into a website from the ground up.

When creating a nonprofit website, attention has to be equally split between communicating a message to current and potential donors, and creating an interactive, technically flawless experience.

Here are 6 must-haves ATAK’s development and marketing teams have built into nonprofit websites in 2019 so far:

1. Sharing Your Message and Call to Action

It’s important that your website design is intuitive and attractive to your visitors. When built right, your website will attract visitors who have never heard of your charity, or mission.

A responsive website design with arresting copy is a must-have for nonprofit organizations to look modern and transparent. Your website should clearly communicate what you do, who you are, and why you’re doing it. This includes information on your home page, an ‘About’ page sharing what you do and who leads your organization, and a blog where your team can share news and opinion.

our mission

For our client Elevate Adventures, this meant a concise, step-by-step for the process of facilitating a nature experience for nonprofit organizations.

The art direction for this project was clear: we would let the national parks speak for themselves. Sweeping nature photos share Elevate’s spirit of adventure and reverence for the National Parks it helps others access and enjoy.

national park adventures

The right branding and visual style helps build confidence in your site and organization. The right logo, design, and imagery combine in a way that helps visitors quickly and simply understand what your organization wants them to do – such as donate, engage, or volunteer.

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AB testing green

Small Changes Lead to Big Numbers: A/B Tests to Run on Your Website’s Homepage

Consider your homepage the entryway to your online business. Here, you have the fleeting opportunity to impress upon your visitors… pretty much everything about your company. From the abstract (your brand personality and values) to the tangible (current promotions), every element on your homepage can stand to be optimized through A/B tests so that potential customers get the most out of their first visit.

In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the options worth implementing on your site’s homepage elements. Keep in mind that since the homepage is far on the sales funnel from the final purchase, the measure of success for a well-optimized homepage isn’t necessarily increased revenue, but lowered bounce rates, increased product page views, increased click-throughs, and so forth — essentially, any additional activity from the homepage onward indicates a win.


Starting From the Top


The header on your homepage is where you’ll find your logo and navigation. Run a few A/B tests on the placement of your logo. Will it go at the top right, center, or left? This may not seem like a change that will garner statistically significant results, but see if these variations make a difference in average time a user spends on your site.

Testing your search bar language is quick and easy so don’t ignore the opportunity to improve your site’s activity. Indicators of the success of this test can include increased product page views and increased average order value (AOV) due to the customer shopping for products that they hadn’t previously considered. Continue reading

Data Solutions Much More Than Just SEO

Data Solutions: Much More Than Just SEO

There are many ways to bring traffic into your website when you’re working with a digital marketing agency. Within marketing, we call these channels. To clients, they look more like services. The primary channels for bringing in digital marketing traffic are:

  • Social Media
  • Pay-Per-Click and Remarketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • 3rd Party Links (i.e. – press coverage, interviews)

It’s very uncommon that any of these channels will perform on its own. This is almost always a blend of tactics, integrated into one campaign. The better your campaign target and messaging, the more likely it is to resonate with prospects. This is where a data solutions department can be particularly useful.

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