Funnel? Filter? Drip? Are we making coffee or marketing magic?

Funnel? Filter? Drip? Are we making coffee or marketing magic?

SaaS startup owner contemplates pricing

De-coding common marketing terms for startups

Like any other specialized industry – say, the military or education or healthcare – we marketers use a lot of jargon. While we take these communication shortcuts for granted, if you’re a tech startup founder without a marketing background, it can seem like we’re talking a different language designed to keep you confused.

When we talk with you about how you can attract and communicate with customers and prospects (which is fundamentally what marketing is), we want you to be in the know. Don’t worry: there won’t be a quiz at the end (though you can feel free to quiz us). Let’s get started.

Content

Everything in marketing starts with a piece of content. That is, anything you read, view or interact with. Content is usually further defined by its format and/or where it appears. For instance …

  • Blog content
  • Email content
  • Video content
  • Website content

Content marketing is simply using the content you create to encourage action in your intended audience. The format, distribution channel and style of your content should be specific to your target’s needs.

At the early stage of your company’s marketing efforts, your content will focus on awareness. Then, your content will support more specific marketing goals. For instance, your goal may be to grow the number of active demos for your product or to drive traffic from your social media platforms to your website. Content is best developed and implemented with the goal of producing measurable results.

Pixel

A pixel, also called a tag, is a piece of code that is inserted onto your website and collects information (or tracks) user activity. Pixels are widely used on platforms like Facebook and Google, where information, such as what products a user purchased after viewing a certain page, is used by marketing teams for strategic purposes.

Mobile-first

Traditionally, web design and campaigns were initially created for desktop users and then disseminated into mobile content. The term mobile-first implies the reverse: creating websites, campaigns and other marketing content to be viewed on mobile devices. As more and more users are accessing your content on their smartphones and tablets, mobile-first design should be your primary focus going forward.

Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is key to effective content marketing, as it holds all the important information for content publication. Your calendar will contain content topic details, the date and platform that content will be published on, and any other information you deem relevant.

Funnel

Broadly speaking, a funnel is a series of steps designed to lead an individual to a desired outcome. At the “top of the funnel” – the widest part – is where you have captured the largest number of your target audience: website visitors in the case of a Landing Page Funnel, or unqualified leads in the Sales Funnel. With each step along this pre-determined pathway, the number of audience members decreases; hence, the funnel. As prospects progress to the “bottom of the funnel” their likelihood of conversion increases.

A marketer may describe your sales funnel as a “journey” or “customer experience,” detailing the procurement, interaction and actions that lead to a sale.

Optimize

Optimize is a term employed by marketers to indicate that an element of your marketing campaign is maximized, often due to the inclusion of analytics and strategy, for the benefit of search engines and users. You may recognize these terms:

Site Optimization: Also including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), this is a general term indicating elements of your website are catered to yield better search ranking results. SEO refers only to organic search traffic (not paid traffic).

Content Optimization: Content on your website utilizes strategic elements and keywords to ensure higher search engine ranking and a better user experience. Content optimization may also include link building.

Keyword Optimization: Keyword research that produces the most accurate and highest functioning keywords for your website. This process results in traffic to your site from users who seek to find the goods, services, or information you provide.

Mobile Optimization: Or, responsive design, is a term that indicates your website can be viewed successfully on mobile devices without having to design multiple versions of one website.

Each term indicates different marketing facets, with different specifications. However, the inclusion of the word “optimization” indicates that the marketer has taken care to strategically align the campaign to produce optimal results: greater engagement and conversions, higher search engine rankings and maximum traffic.

Campaign

A marketing campaign refers to an organized effort to realize a specific marketing goal. General goals include creating awareness around a product launch, lead generation, and improved brand visibility. A campaign should include a marketing plan, though the two terms are not interchangeable. A marketing plan is a strategy, whereas a campaign will include the steps to implement that strategy.

Outbound & Inbound

Marketing strategy can be classified into two categories: Outbound and Inbound. Outbound marketing involves efforts to grab consumer attention through print or online advertising, mailing lists, and campaigns.

Inbound marketing is a strategy marketers use to pull potential customers into a company’s marketing funnel. It uses social media, SEO, content marketing, events, blogs, and more to create brand awareness and attract new business.

Leads and Lead Generation

A lead is a contact that has the potential to become a customer. Lead generation is the act of identifying those that could potentially become clients and attracting them to your sales funnel. There are several specific terms that relate to leads and lead generation, such as:

Lead Magnet: A piece of information or product offered to consumers in exchange for their contact information.

Lead Nurture: Lead nurturing is the process of managing relationships with leads that are not necessarily ready to purchase. The purpose is to win their business when they are ready to buy. The concept of Drip Marketing falls under lead nurturing, in that it consists of steady, regular contact with potential customers to build relationships over time.

Lead Capture: A lead capture is often a page (called a lead capture page or “lander”) that is designed to initialize the sales funnel process with potential customers. This is done generally by obtaining information from a prospective client who is interested in your product or services. One strategy for lead capture is to use “gated” content, where highly-valued content is accessible in exchange for contact information.

Conversion: A conversion is when a contact goes from being an anonymous visitor to a known lead, or from a prospect to an actual sale, the ultimate goal of all sales and marketing efforts. Online, a conversion often takes place via a web form, used to capture information and signal interest.

Acronyms

CTA: Call to Action – A design element on a webpage leading visitors to a specific action, like “Call Now” or “Download this Whitepaper”.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization (see Optimization above)

SEM: Search Engine Marketing – Refers to paid search engine advertisements. This is in contrast to SEO, which only refers to non-paid (or “organic”) search rankings.

PPC: Pay-Per-Click – A type of online advertising where an ad is placed on a host website, and payment is made based on how many clicks the advertisement gets.

CTR: Click-Through-Rate – The metric of people visiting a web page or viewing an email who clicked on a link or button for a particular offer. A CTR is often expressed as a percentage and is used to measure the efficacy of a campaign.

CR: Conversion Rate – The number of users who take a desired action, such as clicking on a CTA or subscribing to an email list. A CR is presented as a percentage.

UV: Unique Visitor – A unique visitor is a term used to decipher a visit from a singular person (as denoted by their IP address) within a given time frame. This is important, as it will show you not how many times your site has been visited but rather how many individuals have visited your site.

LP: Landing Page – A landing page is a specific web page that a visitor can visit or “land” on from a link or an ad.

CRM: Customer Relationship Management – Customer Relationship Management platforms are used to collect contact information, establish sales pipelines and drive leads to conversion. They often work with a marketing automation program.

MA: Marketing Automation – A software-as-a-service platform that enables marketers to automate many repetitive tasks such as emailing, maintaining social media and various website interactions.

Want more?

We’re barely scratching the surface of marketing terms, especially when it comes to bringing all of these items together with automation. With that in mind, we have put together a handy guide to all of the terms we use when discussing how to take your startup’s marketing to the next level.

Download Growthwright’s “The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation Terminology” Now.
Amanda Bair is the Director of Marketing for Growthwright.

If you are a start-up looking for Marketing services, contact us here or email marketing@growthwright.com.

Growthwright  © 2018

Getting Started with Content Marketing

Getting Started with Content Marketing

SaaS startup owner contemplates pricing

7 Steps to Startup Success

Let’s lift the veil on the term “content marketing” – a catch-all phrase with big business implications. Startups and small businesses, who may be stressed over where to allocate resources, may feel intimidated by content marketing. Even though most of us actively participate in the thought leadership cycle (whether as a reader or a thought leader or both), content marketing may still feel a little mysterious.

Generally defined, content marketing is the strategic use of content (in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics, e-books, and otherwise) in order to achieve marketing goals. You may wonder how to get started with content marketing. Even with limited resources and minimal expertise, there’s a lot a startup can do to get on track.

We’ve compiled 7 steps to get you started:

1.  Don’t let time pass you by (just get started already!

We’ve heard many entrepreneurs say that they just don’t know where to start and so… they don’t! It may feel more comfortable to work within your comfort zone, but that is no reason to overlook content marketing. View content marketing as an evolving effort and go ahead and put your best foot forward. Starting now with the hopes of improving is better than not starting at all!

2.  Be consistent.

Consistency is vital in the realm of content marketing. Establishing an audience means you must regularly publish content to keep readers and followers engaged. No matter the timeline – whether you seek to publish information daily or monthly – set a schedule and follow it.

 3.  Reconsider the solo act.

Developing quality content may not be something you have the time to focus on. You may seek to engage employees in content development, though the added workload can stress out your staff. Many startups choose to outsource content development. Whatever choice you make, expect to play an active part in content marketing.

4.  Employ organizational tools.

The secret behind well-executed, consistent, and beneficial content marketing is a content (or editorial) calendar. Scheduling your content well in advance removes the last-minute stress. Content calendars can be as simple as a spreadsheet. Organize your content by date, subject, title, and social platform that the content will be published on.

5.  Identify your audience.

Some call this market segmentation. Your most effective content marketing is that which precisely engages your target readership. Are you a startup whose clientele are other small businesses? Your content should touch on issues which relate to your key audience, as well as to the product you are offering.

6.  Harness content that you have already created.

You may have hidden resources for content that you aren’t aware of. If you’ve created white papers, presented at conferences, or published an e-book, you’ve got a trove of information that can be distilled into content. Identify topics within these larger works that may be key for your content marketing. For instance, if you have written an e-book, you could create a blog series where each chapter of your e-book is a separate post.

7.  Develop a solid strategy.

Ensure your content serves a purpose by developing a strategy. Start by identifying your goals. Do you want your content marketing to push a certain product line or to gain awareness of a new service you are offering? Once you’ve established some clear goals, you can detail strategies that support them. This article offers some great advice on successful content marketing strategies.

These seven steps lay a solid foundation to start up your content marketing efforts. Engaging your audience through content marketing is a smart move – way to go!

Amanda Bair is the Director of Marketing for Growthwright.

If you are a start-up looking for Marketing services, contact us here or email marketing@growthwright.com.

Growthwright  © 2018

6 Steps to Creating Not-Embarrassing Presentations

6 Steps to Creating Not-Embarrassing Presentations

Are your presentations really connecting with your audience? Whether you’re pitching to investors, preparing a sales deck or updating your staff at the latest meeting, you’ll need a presentation that communicates clearly, engages your audience visually and doesn’t embarrass you.

Below are six guidelines from the Growthwright staff that you can implement yourself to make your presentations look more professional and appealing to your audience.

 

1. Start with content

You wouldn’t shoot a movie without a script, but folks jump straight into putting together a visual presentation without the content in place All. The. Time. Results are the usual paragraphs of text and miles of bullet points that prompt the presenter, and the audience, to start reading from the slides.

Steve Jobs, presenter extraordinaire, ruled with no bullet points and six words per slide or fewer. You don’t necessarily have to be that extreme, but whether you’re starting from scratch or updating an existing presentation, be a ruthless editor. Less is more in terms of providing information in a slide deck.

 

2. Keep it Simple

One of the most common mistakes in presentation design is going above and beyond what is necessary for the slide deck. A dozen fonts and colors, a different transition for every slide change, and [shudder] sounds, only serve to distract the audience from what you’re trying to achieve. Limit yourself to two or three colors or fonts. Spread content over multiple slides to improve readability. You’ll be amazed at how impactful a clean, simple slide can be.

 

3. Align everything on your slides

Your slides will navigate your audience through your presentation, but how will your audience navigate through each slide? Proper alignment of your content helps provide a “flow” down or across the slide frame. As one of the four key principles of graphic design, alignment is one of the most important. It helps group information and provides organization. By practicing proper alignment, your slides will immediately look more professional.

 

4. Stay consistent

Alignment is a great practice, but if you are not consistent throughout the presentation, all that hard work will go to waste. Colors and font styles and sizes should remain consistent throughout the presentation and match your brand’s look-and-feel. Use Google fonts­­ or Adobe Typekit to select fonts that are unique, yet easy to read. Contrast font sizes between your headings and body copy to improve readability.

One of the easiest tools in PowerPoint to keep your slides consistent is the Slide Master. Use this tool when inserting slide styles including borders, logos or background graphics to avoid headaches when placing text.

 

5. Avoid pre-designed templates

Nothing betrays a rushed presentation like a pre-designed slide template from an online database library. Although these templates can look quite professional, they don’t express your brand the same way as a custom template using your images, fonts and graphics. Audiences can tell immediately when the speaker has used a generic template.

If you are not a graphic designer or simply do not have the time to create your graphics from scratch, consider outsourcing this service to a professional. Custom templates are a great investment and can be reused and manipulated to fit any type of presentation.

 

6. Use high quality images

Have you ever placed a .jpg picture or graphic file on a slide and realized it was so small you couldn’t see the details? What do you do? You click the bottom corner and drag to make it larger. Now it’s BIG … and blurry. Avoid pixilation (blurriness) with high-resolution images and graphics.

PNG formatted photos with a 330ppi are ideal if you must drag and adjust the photo after it is placed. Otherwise, use a graphics-editing program like Photoshop to scale or crop your photos to size. Avoid using PowerPoint clip art or other software-based images or graphics. It’s likely that your audience has seen those images so many times, they look dated.

 

Wrapping it Up

Most importantly, your audience is there to see you. Your presentation should supplement your points and act as a guide, not be the star of the show.

These tips only scratch the surface of what makes a presentation truly shine. In the modern age, companies can’t afford to sacrifice quality. Pay attention to the details and put in the work to build an amazing presentation. Your efforts will pay dividends in the increased interest in your products and your business.

Amanda Bair is the Director of Marketing for Growthwright.

If you are a start-up looking for Marketing services, contact us here or email marketing@growthwright.com.

Growthwright  © 2018

More Than Fools Gold: Effectively Using Sponsorships to Boost Your Event Marketing

More Than Fools Gold: Effectively Using Sponsorships to Boost Your Event Marketing

 Go beyond Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. As winter wanes, it’s tradeshow season again … and time to think about how to get the best ROI of your tradeshow dollars.

Event marketing is a great way to raise brand awareness and penetrate a specific market. The benefits of event tradeshow marketing can offer relatively unknown and well-known companies alike the opportunity to meet face-to-face with industry professionals, competitors and sales prospects in a focused, relationship-building environment.

Unfortunately for those staffing the exhibit hall floor, it’s the speaking engagements, networking opportunities and the complimentary coffee that draw attendance to the tradeshows. But If you don’t have a session speaker representing your company at the conference, and don’t want to lug a Keurig around, don’t worry, you will just need to put in a little extra effort (and money) to draw some attention to your booth. That’s right: tradeshow sponsorships.

Tradeshow sponsorships have received an unfair rap as a useless cost on top of an already pricey investment. But strategic investment in sponsorships that support your overall event goals are anything but a waste of money. Ask yourself:

  1. Is creating a buzz and being top of mind important to you?
  2. Will the sponsorship positively impact your business?

Sponsorships come in many different shapes and sizes, and it can get a little confusing and difficult to weigh the differences between these packages. Let’s use the 2016 HIMSS Summit of the Southeast in Nashville, Tenn., as an example to illustrate popular sponsorship offerings, and how they can help display you as an industry leader while improving your brand recognition and adding volume to your booth traffic.

Pre-Conference Recognition

Building recognition pre-show is a very important tactic. You may not be the main attraction for the event, but awareness is key to ending up on the “must visit” list of prospects evaluating potential vendors and partners. Most conferences will feature exhibitor logos and short company bios on their website as a standard offering across all sponsorship levels. Your company logo will be listed on display for anyone interested in learning more about the conference or what you offer.

Top-tier sponsorships often include online banner advertisements on the event homepage as well as logo recognition on all pre-conference marketing materials. Sponsored or co-branded social media posts are also becoming popular.

On-Site Sponsorships

The on-site marketing is where most of that premium on top of the basic package will be invested. Depending on the package, you may be able to display your company branding on name badges, lanyards, literature handouts, conference tote bags, and more.

Through these sponsorships, attendees take your brand with them wherever they go, and a reminder for them to stop by your booth is always included. You’ll also have the added benefit from those opportunities that display your logo, almost like a walking billboard for your brand. Impressions are an important metric and expanding your reach throughout the conference will help expand your footprint.

Most conferences provide an opportunity for one or two exhibitors to purchase a “Presenting Sponsorship.” This package is usually the most expensive, but in the HIMSS case, gives the exhibitor the opportunity to present the Keynote speaker. This sponsorship puts you and your brand center stage. Bonus points if the presentation you are introducing has synergy with your brand.

Extras

Don’t forget there are often additional perks, such as prime booth location, priority exhibitor registration, or attendance passes included with sponsorship purchases. If you’re planning on sending several members of your team, a sponsorship feature like this one could actually benefit your budget. And don’t discount the value of registrant and attendee contact lists. Often not included with a standard exhibitor package, this premium can pay for itself in its ability to augment your pre- and post-show marketing.

Finally, if you have the budget for and see the value in a tradeshow sponsorship but don’t see any offerings that support your goals, consider discussing a custom sponsorship or add-on with the event coordinator. Bring your desired spend and your creativity to the table, and work together on a solution. It never hurts to ask, and you just might find a unique way to stand out from the crowd of sponsors

Danielle Thienel is a Business Development Analyst for Growthwright. If you are a start-up looking for services in finance, HR, Marketing or IT, contact us here!

Growthwright  © 2018

Rebound Your Marketing with Basketball Fundamentals

Rebound Your Marketing with Basketball Fundamentals

As a marketer to many technology startups, I’m often asked to give opinions on where money should be spent. Resources for a startup are tight, and every dollar needs to make an impact. Gone are the opportunities to spend money on “impressions.” While eyeballs are still an important metric, leaders in a startup environment like to see immediate ROI on their marketing investments. Luckily, we live in a world where marketers can start to do that faster and easier than in recent past.

Recently a client pointed out that a long-time focus on email marketing didn’t seem to be making any impact. I was asked if they should put all of their marketing efforts into LinkedIn where they seem to make better connections and have more traction. The personal touch that we all can get in social media campaigns is hard to pass up, but my advice was “no.”

Just like email campaigns should not stand alone, social media campaigns need to be one of multiple touches you are consciously making to your audience. Social media does allow for some interaction and authenticity, but email marketing is not dead. In fact, a recent statistic shows that 72-percent of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17-percent who prefer social media. It is also estimated that a message is 5x more likely to be seen in email than via Facebook.

At the heart of good marketing is the same “magic” that helps other departments outperform competitors: Discipline to a process. Consistent messaging, across multiple platforms isn’t always sexy to talk about, but it is what you have to do for success in any marketing program. Taking the time to build out a campaign that includes email, calls, social media and events is imperative to successful messaging. While there are many marketing automation tools that make a multi-touch program easier to execute once set up, typically the cost is beyond the resources of emerging technology companies.

I often use an analogy of basketball to talk about the importance of marketing and sales discipline. Women’s high school basketball is slow to watch if you are used to catching the NBA, but it is a great place to learn the fundamentals of the sport. You can see the offence set up in their zone, or you can watch the pattern of picks in a man-to-man defense in a way that doesn’t always fully mature the many fast breaks in professional ball. You also will see discipline to best practices: hands in the air on D; driving to the basket after the shot to grab that rebound; hustle; and most importantly, stepping up to the outside shooter – putting your hands on the ball and keeping that shot from going off.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to watch a pro game where a shot goes up … and everyone hustles back to defend their basket when a quick rebound would have kept the ball in offensive play. However, NBA is a lot ‘sexier’ to watch.

The slow and measured approach that you need to take to marketing as a new company can be tedious, just like watching a women’s high school basketball game. However, the same fundamentals developed at the start of an organization, and the discipline put in place, will ensure success when you do have the money for marketing automation that will set you up for some fast (exciting) breaks.

In marketing, you can’t take shortcuts. You can take advantage of automation, but the fundamentals of consistent messaging across multiple platforms should always be part of your program.

Amanda Bair is the Director of Marketing for Growthwright.

If you are a start-up looking for Marketing services, contact us here or email marketing@growthwright.com.