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Online marketing moves at the speed of light. To keep up, you need a strong foun-
dation with the judgment to think critically, act independently, and be relentlessly
creative. That’s why we wrote this guide — to empower you with the mental building
blocks to stay ahead in an aggressive industry.
There are plenty of guides to marketing. From textbooks to online video tutorials,
you can really take your pick. But, we felt that there was something missing — a
guide that really starts at the beginning to equip already-intelligent professionals
with a healthy balance of strategic and tactical advice. T he B eg in n er’ s G u ide to
O n l in e M ark etin g closes that gap.


We -
neurs and small business owners, entry to mid-level candidates, and marketing
managers in need of resources to train their direct reports. Most of all, we want you


This guide is designed for you to read cover-to-cover. Each new chapter builds upon
the previous one. A core idea that we want to reinforce is that marketing should be
evaluated holistically. What you need to do is this in terms of growth frameworks

help you connect the many moving parts of marketing to your big-picture goal,
which is ROI.

Your customers, prospects, and partners are the lifeblood of of your business.
You need to build your marketing strategy around them. Step 1 of market-
ing is understanding what your customers want, which can be challenging
when you’re dealing with such a diverse audience. This chapter will walk you
through (1) the process of building personal connections at scale and (2) craft-
ing customer value propositions that funnel back to ROI for your company.



Mediocre marketers think in terms of campaigns. Great marketers think in

terms of growth frameworks. Learn how to position your marketing strategy
into a sustainable, ROI-positive revenue engine for your brand. Gone are the
days of shallow branding. Leverage metrics to build a solid revenue stream.



When people spend money, they’re thinking with both their rational and

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools that your company can wield to
build customer connections. This chapter will walk you through the mechanics
of cultivating your company’s story.



You can have the most amazing web storefront, blog, or product in the world,

This chapter will walk you through some of the most common free and paid



time in building a strategy for driving sales. Conversion optimization is the

practice of (1) (2) converting



Content marketing is more than just blogging. When executed cor-

rectly, content including articles, guides (like this one), webinars, and
videos can be powerful growth drivers for your business. Focus on
building trust and producing amazing quality. And most of all, make
sure that you’re capturing the right metrics. Create content to gener-
ate ROI. Measure the right results. This chapter will teach you how.



Paid channel marketing is something you’ve probably come across

in some form or another. Other names for this topic include Search
Engine Marketing (SEM), online advertising, or pay-per-click (PPC)
marketing. Very often, marketers use these terms interchangeably

ads. Marketers frequently shy away from this technique because it

vantage. It’s not uncommon for companies to run PPC campaigns
with uncapped budgets. Why? Because you should be generating
an ROI anyway. This chapter walks through the basics of how.



Email marketing has a bad rap. Why? Because in the majority of cases, it’s
spammy. When executed correctly, email marketing can be incredibly power-
ful. The trick is to prioritize the human-to-human connection above the sale.
Balance automation with a personal touch. This chapter will teach you how.



keting has been around since the earliest days of online marketing. It’s a great
solution for businesses that are risk-averse or don’t have the budget to spend

stream for your ecommerce or B2B business.



Search engines are a powerful channel for connecting with new audiences.
Companies like Google and Bing look to connect their customers with the
best user experience possible. Step one of a strong SEO strategy is to make
sure that your website content and products are the best that they can be.
Step 2 is to communicate that user experience information to search en-
gines so that you rank in the right place. SEO is competitive and has a repu-
tation of being a black art. Here’s how to get started the right way.



You’ve launched an amazing product or service. Now what? Now, you need

and less expensive than advertising. Regardless of whether you want to

hire a fancy agency or awesome consultant, make sure that you know what
you’re doing and what types of ROI to expect. Relationships are the heart
and soul of PR. This chapter will teach you how to ignore the noise and fo-
cus on substantive, measurable results.



feed. When executed correctly, social media is a powerful customer engage-

you should do instead is to focus on a few key channels where your brand is
most likely to reach key customers and prospects. This chapter will teach you
how to make that judgment call.



Most businesses aren’t optimized for the mobile web, and that’s a problem. We
operate in a cross-platform world. Smartphones and tablets are taking over. If
you’re not optimizing your site for mobile visitors, you are likely losing money.
Learn how to craft a data-driven mobile approach. This chapter will help you
1 2 3
learn the ropes.





When writing this guide, we reached out to the marketer commu-

nity to collect case studies and learnings about creative marketing
strategies. Most of these examples are included throughout the

here, from the perspective of four awesome marketers. What bet-

ter way to wrap up this guide than with you, our community?





At any given time, your company has hundreds of options for running market-
ing campaigns.

We’ re n ot ex ag g eratin g .

and tweet to your heart’s content. Within these choices are even more micro-choic-
es. What targeting options and images should you pick for your Facebook ads?
Should you develop your blog posts in house, or should you outsource the writing
to ghostwriters? How do you choose the right email subject headlines? Should you
choose a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression pricing model?

These questions are daunting. It’s easy to get bogged

down and feel like a hamster in a wheel. As you move for-
ward in your research, you’ll come across experts who’ll
tell you to “j u st st ar t t e st i ng . ”

Ig n ore this adv ice.

Marketing is strategic. To succeed, you need highly focused goals. You need a frame-
work for a scalable, replicable framework. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner
or an advanced marketer — this fact will always hold true. If you run without direction,
you’ll end up wasting two of your company’s most valuable assets: time and money.
Step #1 of successful online marketing is an understanding of your company’s exact
needs and goals. You need relentless self-discipline. And laser focus.

rom most marketing

guides that you’ll read. We’re going to start backwards, with the lessons that most ex-
perienced marketers take years to learn. We believe that this approach is the best way
to ( 1 ) move your organization forward while ( 2 ) saving time and ( 3 ) saving money.

marketing campaign. This chapter will put you light-years ahead of the crowd.

Average marketers think in campaigns. They work all week, push out a
campaign, then start again from scratch next week. That will only take you
so far. To get to the next level, you need to start thinking in systems and
build a marketing machine. This is the only way to 10x your growth and
then 10x it again.

LARS LOFGREN Growth Manager, KISSmetrics


Every marketing strategy should start with your customer base.

Who are the people using your product? What do these individuals
value, what do they feel, what products are they currently using,
and what will it take to sign them on as paying customers?

Before jumping into your online marketing strategy, have a con-

versation with your existing customers.

the process that transformed them from interested prospects into

paying customers? What do your customers value or care about?

Chances are that the answers to these questions have little to do with whether your

most compelling are stories about how your business solved some of your custom-
ers’ most pressing problems.
Marketing is about human-to-human relationships and can happen through any

remember whether they found your company through a click on a Facebook ad or

through a referral from a friend.

How have you found some of your favorite companies, products, and services?

Now, I (R i t i ka
my marketer hat and show you my inner consumer. Let me tell you a story about
two companies that changed my life.


In 2011, I decided that I was fed up with department stores. I didn’t like standing
in lines, hunting in piles for clothing items that I liked, and wasting my money on
items that I needed but didn’t fully enjoy.

Out of the blue one day, a new boutique opened by my house. I loved everything
about shopping there — that the items were inexpensive, that the boutique was nev-
er crowded, and that every item in the store was unique. This store embraced every
single one of my values as a busy woman. It was the most positive brick-and-mor-
tar experience that I have ever had.

Later in 2011, I (R i t i ka) started growing my marketing consulting business. The end
result was that I had zero free time. I transitioned to doing most of my errands on-
line. The problem was, I missed that in-store, personal ‘b ou t i q u e ’ experience from
my neighborhood store. I told a friend about it, and she introduced me to an online
store called ModCloth. I took a look and was instantly hooked — I go through peri-
ods of time when I check the website daily for new inventory.

I quickly took notice of ModCloth’s robust online marketing presence — which

makes sense, given that they’re an online storefront. They’re active on social, bril-
liant through email, and constantly retargeting me through Facebook ads with
products that they think I’ll love.
Even though I live and breathe marketing, what always stood out to me about
ModCloth has not been their campaigns. When I sat down to write this guide, I
chase. And that’s surprising, given that I’m served with ModCloth ads almost every
time I log into Facebook. I click on these ads every single day — I can’t resist. I know
that I love ModCloth’s ads, but I can’t remember a single one.

What I remember is the problem that ModCloth helped me solve — the fact that I

time-suck, and ModCloth came along and made it fun.

At the heart of ModCloth’s marketing spend (w i t h m e i n p ar t i c u l ar ) is a hu-

man-to-human connection. And here is a snapshot of what that connection has
earned them. All and all, I’ve probably spent $1,000 over the last two years.



breweries. But don’t let the warehouses and car body shops fool you. On weekend
evenings, this place is an amazing destination for meeting new friends and enjoying
craft beers.

word of mouth referral. I found it through a Yelp search and was instantly amazed
by this place’s four-and-a-half star rating.
by this place’s four-and-a-half star rating.

Convinced that the company was investing heavily in its online marketing initia-
tives, I (R i t i ka) recruited the Brewery’s owners to interview for an article I was writ-
ing in Amex OPEN Forum.

You know what shocked me? Despite Eagle Rock’s massive online presence, they
had invested very little in their online marketing strategy:
robust marketing campaigns.

The truth is, Eagle Rock’s secret marketing weapon was and always has been word
of mouth. The company’s owners have devoted their lives to an unmet need in Los
Angeles — the fact that craft beer enthusiasts want a local microbrewery.

Eagle Rock Brewery quickly developed a reputation for its energetic venue, dedicat-
ed community, and high quality product.

And that’s just it. It’s Eagle Rock Brewery’s reputation that fuels the company’s
online marketing strategy. What the Internet did was amplify the natural word-of-

Eagle Rock Brewery has an impressive social media following. Their strategy is sim
ple — to keep communication as open as possible with their communities of custom-
ers and prospects. It is a single, focused goal. -

And you know what? As one of Eagle Rock’s customers, what I care about most
is not how much they’re spending on advertising or marketing. I care about their
product and that they’ve made me — in a big way — a happier person.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re running online ads, email
marketing campaigns, or retargeting customers on Facebook. What matters is that
your company’s marketing team sets up the right systems to build genuine, hu-
man-to-human bonds with the buyers you’re trying to reach. The key to successful
Internet marketing is your ability to choose the best possible channels for achieving
that end goal.


verse and will demonstrate their own unique preferences, personality traits, and
needs. Your online marketing initiatives need to reach each and every one of
these customer segments.

These are the behavioral, demographic, and psychological characteristics of your

buyers. A quick way to get started is to complete the following worksheet.


1. What are you r typ ical cu stomers’ rol es? If you ’ re sel l in g a B 2 B p rod-
u ct or serv ice, w hat are their j ob titl es?

Examples for consumer brands include husband, wife, father, mother, aunt, un-
cle, grandmother.

Examples for B2B brands include IT manager, marketing manager CEO, busi-
ness development manager, vice president, etc.

2. D o these in div idu al s hav e decision - mak in g au thority? If yes, do they

Understand your customer personas on a personal level by pinpointing their key

personality traits:
personality traits:

Demographic characteristics:

Job title
Where they’re located (city, suburb, rural)

Key professional attributes:

Responsibilities associated with this buyer persona's job

Highest job priorities/responsibilities in this buyer persona’s direct area of

The top problems/pain points they’re facing that your company can help
Several perceived barriers to the above problems
What actions the buyer may have already taken to solve their key problems
Who do they report to
Years in this role

Marketing is very much like public speaking or performing. Even though you are

viewers on an individual level. That means understanding who is in your audience

as well as what brought them there.

When completing your buyer personas, imagine them as individuals rather than
groups. Step away from traditional market research frameworks that compartmental-
ize people into standardized, pre-existing categories. In other words, lose the cookie
cutter — your core customer segments should be unique to your organization.

Start with real conversations about your customers and prospects. Move forward
prise you and dramatically alter the course of your marketing strategy.

Here’s an example to consider:

In 2009, Fan Bi started a company called Blank Label when he noticed two con-
sumer problems: (1) (2) custom tai-
lored shirts were too expensive for average consumers. He launched Blank
Label, a custom men’s shirt company, to address that need.

Originally, Blank Label’s team envisioned its customer base to be just like the
founders — young men who thought it would be cool to have a customized shirt.
What the team found after months of user research through emails, live chats, and

consisted of older men who were doctors, lawyers, and accountants.

In 2011, the company added new features to appeal to what the company’s core
customers wanted most. The company also redesigned its website to deliver a more
upscale look and feel.


We essentially discovered who our core customer was and tried to dig deep
with them on what kind of experience they wanted online. That was: a new
brand, user interface and close-up photos.

FAN BI Co-founder, Blank Label

These changes boosted the website’s sales performance by 25% to 30% in about
a month.


Knowing your customers is not enough. You also need a thorough understanding of
how their values, behavioral characteristics, traits, and personality traits translate
into sales with your company. A key place to start is with your organization’s sales
team. Even if you do not yet have a marketing strategy in place, you can start to

key questions to address:

1. What are the most common w ays that p rosp ects f in d ou t ab ou t you r comp an y?

Word of mouth? Referrals?

Choose marketing initiatives that amplify what’s already working. If you’re notic-

to implement a formalized referral program to incentivize more opportunities for


2. What are some of the in itial q u estion s they’ re ask in g ?

Incorporate answers to these questions into your company’s marketing messag-

es, sales pitches, and value propositions up-front. Anticipate what your prospects
want to know. This strategy will help you build a strong, mutual connection.

3. What is the typ ical decision - mak in g p rocess f or b u yin g ? What k in ds

of f ol l ow - u p q u estion s are they ask in g , an d w hat typ es of stak ehol d-
ers are in v ol v ed w ith con v ersation s ab ou t you r b ran d?

Expect this process to happen incrementally, over some period time. Your mar-
keting materials should guide your prospects through each stage.
4. How long does the overall process last? About how much time does
each stage take?

Every marketing initiative should be measurable to assess ROI. You need to make
this judgment call at just the right time. If you measure too early, you may not
have enough data to truly understand the success of your initiative. If you mea-
sure too late, your organization may lose money due to a delay in responding
quickly enough. The best approach is to be realistic about your timing. That way,
you won’t risk making decisions too late or too soon.

between your product or service and your prospects’ needs?

ing these problem areas, your company will be well-positioned to keep prospects
engaged longer.



The conversion funnel is one of the most important concepts in online market-
ing. It is, in a nutshell, a diagram that paves your buyers’ paths to sales. This
concept is so important that even though we’re introducing it now, we’ll be
devoting an entire chapter to it (chapter 5) later on.

Keep in mind that conversion funnels vary between organizations and user
segments. Your business will likely have more than one.

This tool will help you visualize and understand user behavior at
every stage of your marketing. A portion of your website visitors will
tion won’t.

So get together with your sales team, and go back to the drawing
board (literally). Conversion funnel diagrams are invaluable tools for
piecing together a comprehensive view of your prospects’ psycholo-
gy and path to sales.
Whatever you do, don’t copy other companies’ diagrams. Your conversion fun-
nel should be something unique to your company that your marketing leads
develop in tandem with your sales team — if you’re a business owner or entre-
preneur, you’re going to need to wear both hats.

One word of caution is to be connections-minded. Whatever you do, don’t get

bogged down by anatomical details. The conversion funnel describes a process,
but more importantly, it’s a lens into the human-to-human relationships that
your company is building with your prospects. No matter what you read or
what advice you hear, remember that you are always, absolutely, and undoubt-
edly talking about people.

Conversion funnels are just as much about emotions as they are about logical
decisions. Make sure that you evaluate, analyze, and pay close attention to both.


Companies leverage online marketing to accomplish the following types of goals:

1. Build brand awareness about products, features, or services

2. Engage prospects at both ends of the interest spectrum – when

they’re most intrigued and when they’ve gone cold.

3. Grow business with existing customers and clients.

All three of these aims funnel into the end goal of customer acquisition and
growing revenue.

Here are some examples to explain what we’re talking about:

1. ModCloth runs a be-the-buyer program to help educate customers about new

products that they’re thinking of launching. This is a strong way to build engage-
ment and inform customers about new products and services in a compelling
2. ModCloth is retargeting me (R i t i ka) with new products in my Facebook feed. It’s
because I haven’t stopped with them in a few months, and they want to re-earn

time after a dry spell. They’ll show me the exact products I spent time browsing
(t o c om p e l m e t o b u y ).

3. Here is how ModCloth strives to maintain an ongoing relationship with existing

customers. After a purchase, they’ll send customers an email to review the prod-
uct. They also share a reminder that customers who invite friends will receive

word and drive growth for the company. Smart mov e.

Your marketing plan should cover as much of steps 1,2, and 3 as possible. You may
want to address these initiatives increments depending on the position of your busi-
ness. For instance, if you’ve launched a new company, it will be a higher priority to
build awareness. Once your business has matured a bit, you may want to focus on
growing business with existing customers or re-engaging cold leads.

Every single marketing campaign should have a causal relationship to revenue.

Oftentimes, marketers aren’t sure where to start. With so many options, strategies,
and tactics to consider, how do you truly know what’s best for your company?

The answer is simple:

that particular initiative. And if it’s free?

Remember the golden rule: time is money. In marketing,

nothing is truly free. Every strategy, initiative, or campaign
comes at a price, which is usually an opportunity cost.

Each type of marketing goal will have a distinct conversion funnel and success met-
rics to measure. We’ll explore these topics in chapter 2. Right now, we want you to
have a basic understanding of the three ways that online marketing builds connec-
tions with your target customers.

The goals that we’ve described apply to all marketing mediums and channels. At this
point, you may be inclined to think that pay-per-click is the best option for building
brand exposure (#1) and that email marketing campaigns are the best option for
re-engaging cold leads (#2).

The reality is that you can’t think of marketing channels in absolute terms. There are
some options than will produce better results than others, but not because one strate-
gy is intrinsically better than the other. What matters most is how each strategy com-
plements and translates into results for your unique business model. Your goals are
bigger than the marketing mediums and channels that you ultimately choose.
Companies leverage online marketing to accomplish the following types of goals:

1. B u il d b ran d aw aren ess ab ou t p rodu cts, f eatu res, or serv ices

2. E n g ag e p rosp ects at b oth en ds of the in terest sp ectru m – w hen they’ re

most in trig u ed an d w hen they’ v e g on e col d.

3. G row b u sin ess w ith ex istin g cu stomers an d cl ien ts.

All three of these aims funnel into the end goal of customer acquisition and
growing revenue.

H ere are some ex amp l es to ex p l ain w hat w e’ re tal k in g ab ou t:

1. ModCloth runs a be-the-buyer program to help educate customers about new
products that they’re thinking of launching. This is a strong way to build engage-
Marketing starts customers
ment and inform with your customers. Before launching
about new products any
and services in campaign, make
a compelling
sure to do your due diligence to truly understand what your customers want
and need. Remember that they are always the top priority. Why else does
your business exist?

Beyond prioritizing your customers’ needs and values, make sure to under-
stand the path they’re taking to sales. That means paying attention to your
company’s conversion funnel, a topic that we’ll review in chapter 5.

Ignore marketing experts who tell you to ‘just start testing.’ This is an

Instead, you need to start testing with a plan. And that plan should completely
revolve around your company’s prospects and customers. No exception.





Shooting darts in the dark is not a marketing strategy.

JESSICA OMAN via Firepole Marketing

In the last chapter, we introduced you to the most important rule in marketing.
Know your customers. Who are they? What do they value most? What inspires
them? What brought them to your brand? The list of questions goes on.

important stakeholder. Your buyer. That means listening more than talking — learn-
ing more than teaching or marketing.

It’s this vision that drives the web’s most successful marketing campaigns.
And after reading the last chapter, you’re more than convinced. You’ve deployed
customer surveys and hopped on the phone with your most engaged buyers. You’ve
written the most in-depth user personas on the planet.

What comes next?

Now, you need to build a scalable, sustainable marketing engine. Think about it:

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint.

You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan.

You wouldn’t take a road trip without your navigation system.

You wouldn’t build an online app without wireframing the UX.

Whether you’re spending $100 on Facebook ads or $100K on customer education

videos, you need a carefully planned strategy. Trust what we say when we tell you

needs to start with the results that you want to achieve. ROI is not a guessing game.



han not, C-suites

are risk averse to spending money on new initiatives with tough-to-quantify re-
turns. CEOs and CFOs perceive limited value in the ‘money sink that is marketing.

your campaign generated any sales?

not an expense. When executed correctly, it works. We know it works because it’s
possible to track anything and everything, all the way down to the source of the
click that generated the sale. With the right tools and a little bit of creativity, you can
prove the value of your marketing. Web analytics are just that robust.
Marketing should command the same amount attention and respect as any
high-value business function. You just need to structure your programs around the
ny’s marketing team lead, the ball is in your court to communicate the value of the
results that you’re generating.

They care about the sales and new business that resulted from your marketing spend.
That’s it. If you focus on reporting click data, social media shares, and email open-rates,
you’ll have trouble inspiring buy-in from your executive team.

So here w hat you n eed to do:

Build a strategy that positions your marketing initiatives as an ROI generating, critical
business function.

The problem is, marketers struggle to make this mission-critical connection. Take what
marketing leader Andeas Ramos says about content marketing, a technique that we’ll
review in chapter 7.

So far, I have not found a single case study that shows content marketing
is successful. I’ve searched the web; I’ve looked at dozens of “leading web-
sites”; I’ve talked to many people, incl. heads of agencies and published
authors. None of them have been able to give me an example of a content
marketing campaign that showed it was financially success, i.e., profitable.

ANDREAS RAMOS via his blog

He summarizes the steps that a meaningful content marketing study should include.

are channel agnostic and can help boost the success of any type of online marketing.
Here’s what you do to prove your marketing program’s ROI:

STEP 1. State the campaign costs

STEP 2. State the revenues that resulted directly from the campaign

STEP 3. Describe the tracking process

STEP 4. State the number of leads and sales generated from the marketing

STEP 5. m ax C P L ) or cost per acquisi

tion (m ax C P A )

STEP 6. Use statistically meaningful numbers — small sample sizes generate mis-
leading analyses

STEP 7. Establish a control group to benchmark the success of your campaigns

Here’s an example case study from marketing consultant Mark Spaner:

Clockwork Home Services is the leading franchisor of contractor home services in

ing a Clockwork franchise.

Here was his strategic vision:

Spaner’s team deployed an email marketing program. Whenever a magnet tool was
downloaded, an e-mail series on that topic was automatically deployed on a pre-de-
termined schedule.

Here was the outcome of his marketing initiatives:

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you’re reading this guide, you may be running

let alone results that you’re ready to report.

The reason why we’ve walked you through this methodology and example mar-
keting campaign is because we want you to have a full, 360-degree view of what to
expect from your marketing strategy. We want you to fully understand the types
of results you should expect to see from your investment, so we won’t be shy about
throwing information your way.

We want to teach you how to start with your big vision and work backwards to de-
ploy the right initiatives. Keep reading to learn how.

Marketing success comes from reaching the right customers at just the right time in
their decision-making process.

Put yourself in place of a customer, and think about the last time you shopped with
your favorite online store.

Imagine that you’re shopping for an upcoming vacation. Weeks ahead of schedule,
you have plenty of time to make a decision about what you need, but you still see
some items that you like.

Within 24 hours, you begin seeing ads for those exact items in your Facebook feed.

C oin ciden ce? A b sol u tel y n ot.

Strategic and careful planning? More than you may realize.

buy the items you’ve been waiting for? You bet.

As a next step, maybe you set the items in your shopping cart. The coupon code ex-
pires, and yet another week goes by before you go back to this retailer’s website.

But when you do, there’s a surprise waiting for you — the price in the shopping cart
has dropped.

It’ s g ame on . Y ou ’ re ready to b u y.

The reality is the polar opposite.

On the other side of the computer screen is a marketer who is carefully analyzing
and responding to your behavior patterns. And it’s not just one marketer. They’ve
built entire enterprise systems around the goal of moving customers through the
purchase funnel.
purchase funnel.

The idea is simple: figure how to promote the right products and brands to
the right customers, maximizing revenue in the process. That’s not a simple
problem when you’ve got a busy website along with 225 stores doing about
$10B in sales annually

BOB THOMPSON of CustomerThink on an analysis of

Nordstrom’s brand relationships strategy

Whether you’re working for an enterprise brand or running a small business, you
need to remember one key lesson — that timing is absolutely everything.

Banner advertisements perform better when shown to audiences who’ve already

expressed interest in buying your product.

Coupon codes are most relevant to customers who are interested in shopping with your
brand but reluctant (f or som e r e ason or anot he r ) to pull the trigger on the purchase.

Email marketing campaigns are most compelling for customers who’ve subscribed
to your product or brand.

When strategizing your timing, you need to think beyond basic metrics like time on
site, time of day, day of week, or month of year. What you need to do is sync the tim-
ing of your marketing campaigns to your buyers’ perspectives and psychology.

That level of analysis will help your team deliver the right marketing message at just
the right time.

Our recommendation is to study your favorite brands across the various marketing
channels that they’re leveraging to connect with you. Before you keep reading this
guide, try to answer the following question:

low prospective buyers?

We want you to answer that question before your keep reading this guide. Consider
this to be your last exercise from the perspective of a consumer.

basically throwing arrows in the dark.

Without clear goals, marketing campaigns have the potential to be dangerous for
your business.

If you’re not sure about what you want to achieve with your marketing, you risk wasting
time and money — both of which are incredibly scarce resources for your organization.

So what are the types of goals that your business needs to achieve?

You need to focus on objectives that translate directly into ROI for your business.

For example, you may set a goal to acquire new users. Why? Because your business
needs paying customers to remain sustainable and grow.

Another goal you might set is to boost shares and follows on Facebook. Why? Because
social media engagement generates exposure for your brand. That’s why TOFU
Marketing runs facebook ads. To build awareness and interest around its brand.

How do social media shares translate into direct revenue for your business’s sales
pipeline? Well, it’s free marketing. And presumably, if you connect with the right au-
diences, exposure boosts the likelihood of bringing in more leads. Branding has a very
clear place at the top of the sales funnel (a c onc e p t w e ’ l l ad d r e ss i n t he ne x t c hap t e r ! ). To
build a customer base, you need visibility around your products and services.
Let’s take a step away from social media. We’ll get to a more in-depth conversation
in later chapters and don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves now.

Goals should be custom-tailored to your business’s revenue objectives. There is no

really dig deep to understand what objectives your executive team cares about most.
Revenue and sales. Your goals can be as straightforward as lead generation, a key
framework for moving prospects down the sales pipeline.

Here is an example from NewsCred, a company that helps organizations license

content from premium publishers. The company has published an informative
homepage to educate audiences about its product. At the bottom of the page is a
call-to-action to encourage interested prospects to request more details. This is the

For CrazyEgg, a core goal of the company blog is to drive free-trial sign-ups. This
banner follows users as they scroll through blog content:

In the last chapter, we drove the point home that customers are the lifeblood of your
In the last chapter, we drove the point home that customers are the lifeblood of your

their needs, values, personalities, and interests.

But you can’t ignore your business either. To select the right goals, you need to take
the following three steps:

STEP 1. Iden tif y you r cu stomers’ n eeds

STEP 2. Iden tif y you r b u sin ess’ n eeds

STEP 3. C on n ect the dots so that you r comp an y an d cu stomers are

seaml essl y al ig n ed

Here is an example of how Speak2Leads, a platform that helps sales teams respond
to their leads faster, has established that balance into a cohesive brand positioning
(w hi c h t he y c al l a p i t c h). I (R i t i ka) helped the company prepare this to help unify the
company’s messaging across communication platforms. This is a concept we’ll cover
in chapter 3.

Not sure what your company’s marketing goals should be? Start by asking
questions and listening as actively as you can.

In research, statistics, and analysis-driven classes, professors call this concept

‘t he r e se ar c h q u e st i on,” a concept we’ll talk about in chapter X when we dive
into your analytics strategy.

There are certain types of questions that you need to answer before diving into
any marketing strategy. Consider the following:


Are you hoping to promote visibility or generate leads to your business? Or may-
be, you’re hoping to do both. What’s important to consider is that some market-

should understand what your company needs right now. It may make sense to

few weeks. Especially as you’re just starting out, you may need to stagger your
marketing spend.

need to run tests to see what works before committing to scaling your programs
(c hap t e r 7 ). The good news is that you can get started with $100 or less. This level
of spend will help you generate actionable learnings, which you can reinvest in

here and there can quickly add up. At the very beginnings of your marketing pro-
gram, you’ll be taking an upfront loss to gather learnings.


Answer this question to help your team understand what results you need to


If you think that marketing with transform your brand into an overnight Holly-
wood success story, you’re dreaming. Viral campaigns don’t happen by accident.
They require careful, behind-the-scenes planning. Marketing isn’t magic. You
need to set direct and tangible expectations that align with the resources you’re
willing to commit to your marketing programs. A good way to start answering
this question is to research case studies from brands with business models and
budgets that similar to yours. Remember that you need to do more than just
replicate campaigns that you like. You need to adapt your marketing approach to
your business’s exact needs.
Take the case of Speak2Leads. This company is trying to solve a key problem in the
CRM world — that organizations take too long to connect with their leads and prospects.

As an early stage startup, Speak2Leads as one core need — to acquire as many

high-potential leads as possible.

A key challenge that Speak2Leads faces is that the product is relatively novel. Many
of the company’s prospects are problem-aware but don’t necessarily know which
solutions are most valuable to pursue. Speak2Leads is tough to describe into a few
short and sweet sentences, which is why the company’s marketing team has decided
to send prospective customers directly to the product demo page:

Speak2Leads to make the customer acquisition process as interactive as possible.

The Speak2Leads team very much understands that there are a range of marketing
options available. From paid channel advertising to content development, it makes
sense for Speak2Leads to run a range of marketing tests. Regardless of campaign
medium, however, one challenge is clear — the company needs to make their prod-
uct digestible and relevant to their customers. A key way to take marketing beyond
marketing and to generate leads is to demonstrate the product in action.

Here is where the components of your marketing framework come together.

Marketing should follow the consumer purchase cycle. These are the steps that pros-
pects take to become customers and that customers take to become repeat buyers.

It’s best to compartmentalize campaigns into the following key categories:


Connect new prospects with your brand.

Make sure that existing customers are looped in regarding new products and services.

As an example, Harvard Business Review keeps its subscriber base informed of new
products through email marketing:
Here is a banner ad on Slate to drive awareness about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3:


Keep new prospects interested in your company, products, and services.

Make sure that existing customers continue to re-engage with your marketing
materials and rely on your company as a trusted resource.

As an example, check out Levo League, an online portal for women in business. The
company distributes a regular email newsletter to bring subscribers to their website
on a regular basis.
user base via email:


Reach new prospections at the key points of decision, when they may be consid-
ering a competitor over you.
Reach prospects when they are considering a product but unsure of whether to
buy it now or later.
Connect with existing customers when they are shopping around for add-on
products and services.

As an example, check out online retailer 6PM. They’ve been retargeting me across
Facebook and my favorite websites with items that I (R i t i ka) have added to my cart
but haven’t bought.

Promote long-term brand loyalty.

Connect with existing customers when they are shopping around for add-on
products and services.

Last-minute hotel booking app HotelTonight recently gave its app users $15 in
credits and sent an email reminder about it.

Remember this framework, as we’ll use it to guide our marketing channel discus-
sions in later chapters. Feeling lost? Fear not. This discussion is a segway to the

Let’s get to it.


Before you move on to the next chapter, be sure to remember the following

Every marketing campaign needs to be part of a goals-driven framework.

Know what your company wants to achieve before just jumping in with a test
or marketing spend. Be as educated and strategic in your decisions as possi-
ble, even if your intent is to simply try something new or learn.

Remember that timing is everything. Strong marketing frameworks are built

around delivering the right message to the right audiences at exactly the
right time. Do not underestimate the power of this statement.

Start by listening and asking questions. Learn what your customers need, and
take the time to understand your company’s most pressing priorities. The
marketer’s job is to create connections between your brand and customers.

Remember that your marketing initiatives will fall into the following core
areas: awareness, engagement, decision, and retention. Understand which
of these four functional areas are most important to your business and why.
Make sure that your marketing campaigns align with the goal that are most
important for your business to achieve right now, in the medium term, and
down the road.




Human-to-human connections are the heart and soul of business. At the end of the
day, you’re dealing with people — your company is solving problems, alleviating
pain points, and providing delightful customer experiences. Revenue is something
that happens as a byproduct of a sound business model and a positive customer

Storytelling is a powerful technique for building relationships. It’s an age-old con-

cept that brings people together and keeps them engaged. It doesn’t matter where in
the world you’re based or how much funding your startup has.

Good stories give big voices to small ventures. That’s why it’s mission-critical that com-
panies take the time up front to fully develop their approaches to storytelling.

Good writing and content strategy makes products, and the marketing
of those products, much better. When we do our jobs well, the things we
launch are easier and more fun to use. We’ve seen how changing copy
can positively impact sign-ups, engagement and sentiment.

TIFFANI JONES BROWN, Content Strategy Lead at

Pinterest via Contently
Pinterest via Contently

Storytelling and marketing go hand-in-hand. Just think about it. Whether you’re
producing infographics, writing copy for a Facebook ad, or writing a free online
guide (l i ke t hi s one ), you need to capture your audience’s attention.

On a daily basis, consumers (y ou r se l f i nc l u d e d ) face advertising overload. Marketers are

constantly competing for their prospects’ and customers’ attention. More likely than
not, your brand will be buried under spammy advertising messages.

How can you make your brand stand out? Storytel l in g .

Chapter 3 is an all-inclusive guide that explains why your brand should prioritize

either. Storytelling is a powerful and actionable marketing technique. Convinced?

Let’s get to it.


We tend to think of stories as things that might begin with “once upon a
time,” present us Good Guys and Bad Guys, take us on a journey which is
resolved, if we’re lucky, with a happy ending.
But how does a Powerpoint presentation fit into this scheme? Or a televi-
sion spot promoting a particular product benefit? Or a marketing campaign
that aims to associate your brand with a certain set of images and feelings?

TIFFANI JONES BROWN, Content Strategy Lead at Pinterest

B ran d storytel l in g is:

Dd The reason why your company came to be
What motivates your team to wake up and come to work everyday
How your product came to be

A transparent view into the people behind the company

A relationship-building tool
More subtle than you realize
A concept that underscores your entire web presence
Something that your entire team, at organizational levels, embraces
A look into who you are as a company
B ran d storytel l in g is N O T :

A long-winded, 5-paragraph essay about your company

A blog post
Dd Something isolated
A fragmented view into your company
Something reserved for the marketing team only
A PR stunt
A viral video
A tool to manipulate customers and prospects

Contrary to popular belief, brand storytelling is not about your company. It’s about
your customers and the value that they get when engaging with your product or ser-
vice. The most powerful brand stories are the ones that prioritize customers as the
stars. Think of your company as a supporting character.

Oftentimes, marketers get hung up on this concept. They’re stressed about communi-
cating the perfect message and confused about where this initiative should be housed
within your business.

Should you hire a consultant? Should you loop in your company’s EVP of corporate
communications? And what if you’re an engineer? Does that mean you’re doomed?

Don’t overthink this process. Storytelling is something that we do naturally. More

often than not, we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

Marketers have been telling brand stories for years through

advertising, in-person brand experiences, and so on.


tion. The human interest behind our brands will fall through the cracks.

And you feel stuck — at a loss for words to describe what you do and why you mat-
ter to your customers.

So why not let your customers tell your story for you?
That’s what Clarity did. The company provides a marketplace for advice seekers and
experts to connect and share business advice. The company recently launched a se-
ries of stories from actual customers. If you’re wondering how Clarity can help grow
your business, take a lesson from the leaders who actually use it.

It’s not just startups that make use of this powerful approach. Enterprise CRM
Salesforce hosts customer success videos on its Pinterest page.

Brand storytelling is more than what you write on your webpage to your custom-
ers. It’s more than your blog posts and about pages. It’s how you communicate your
messaging. It’s your values. Your brand’s stories are values are infused in every
piece of copy, customer service answer,

Okay, so you’re convinced. But what what the heck does it all mean? Storytelling
still feels tough. Web copy and advertising messaging are still challenging to write.
Here’s what you need to do.

This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s the key to successful marketing. Stop
thinking like a marketer. Stop trying to sell your product, and instead, focus on
developing human interest. Answer the question of why people should care about
what your company has to say.

That means being persuasive and appealing to emotion.

Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they
are not sales pitches. Brand stories should be told with the brand perso-
na and the writer’s personality at center stage. Boring stories won’t at-
tract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can.


Whatever you do, don ’ t b e b orin g . Do not let the words on your page hide the
personalities behind your organization.

Share more than what you sell. Share your strengths, weaknesses, and how you
arrived at where you are today. One way to do this is by participating in the story-
telling ecosystem. Just as you’re looking for customer testimonials and case studies,

Authenticity is crucial to copywriting. If you’re overly formal or on guard, you’ll lose

trust with your audience. And that’s because consumers can sense disingenuous
messaging from miles away. From awkward stock photos with fake customers to
false promises, empty messaging can only hurt your brand.

B e real in stead. B e hu man .

e — not giving an aca-

demic presentation in 1862. If you talk down your customers and prospects (or show
any i nd i c at i on of l ac k of r e sp e c t ), they’re going to stop listening immediately.

Honesty and transparency are important in brand storytelling. Yes,

you’re crafting ‘stories,’ but they need to be rooted in the reality of
your brand, products, and industry.


Don’t dwell over whether or not you’re using perfect grammar. You can always hire a
copywriter for that. Stop worrying about the occasional misplaced commas. Focus on
developing your messaging instead.

Conversational writing also means keeping it short. Write what you want to say. Get it
all on paper. Then cut it. And cut it again. Stop trapping yourself into the mentality that

Write what you feel like writing — with the exception that you can’t let your stories get
too long and unwieldy. Too much writing on a blog post or webpage will make your
readers feel distracted or lost. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible.
There’s no need to try to sound smart. If you build a great product, your customers and
prospects will perceive your company as incredibly smart.

The main culprit, in my view, is the loathsome college essay. Only in col-
lege are we forced to write a paper at a certain length. We develop strat-
egies that balloon our paragraphs so we can fill out eight, 10, or 12 pages.
You don’t need to write a lot or use big words to sound smart.

DANNY RUBIN via Lifehacker


Brand storytelling is more subtle than what your company is saying. As

we mentioned earlier, the ‘how ’ matters just as much. Take a lesson from
son team are responsible for the voice, tone, user interface copy, grammar
conventions, and pinner education on the site.

just right. This fact may seem surprising, given that some companies have
zero resources deveoted to getting their messaging just right.

Our team’s job is to help people feel good when they use Pinterest.
We try to make Pinterest-the-product feel clear and delightful, and
Pinterest-the-brand feel authentic and relatable.

TIFFANI JONES BROWN, Content Strategy Lead at

Pinterest via Contently

Your company’s message architecture is far from coincidental. It takes careful stra-
tegic planning to position your strategic planning.

Don’t expect good stories to appear out of thin air. You need to focus on getting
your messaging just right. You need to craft your company’s message architecture
to underscore all of your brand communications. Yes, this is a real thing. And it
looks a little something like this — an example that may look familiar if you’ve
already read chapter 2:

This table represents the steps that Speak2Leads has taken, conceptually, to con-
This table represents the steps that Speak2Leads has taken, conceptually, to con-
nect with the company’s core audience — sales team leaders and small business
owners who are looking to increase the speed of connecting to new leads. The con-
cept is simple — when you wait too long to connect with an interested prospect,
your company risks losing his or her business.

But here’s the problem. When sales teams are too aggressive, they risk driving cus-
tomers away. That’s why Speak2Leads has positioned its company and product as
one that boosts human-to-human connections. Selling is not about annoying your
or connection.

Before articulating your company’s brand persona, you need a thorough outline of
your message architecture.

So what does that mean?

A message architecture is a hierarchy y of communication goals that reflects a

common vocabulary. It might be a concise ise outline of five attributes, each with
sub-bullets that clarify meaning and add color. Those attributes and terms re-
ncrete, shared terminology — not just
flect a broader discussion to establish concrete,
abstract concepts that fall apart outside the hallowed halls of marketing

MARGOT BLOOMSTEIN, Content Strategy Consultant via

the Openview’s Blog

A message architecture, according to Bloomstein, is a way to transform vague goals

into substantive concepts with context and priority. Your company’s message archi-
tecture will look a little something like this:
Speak2Leads incorporates these values in all of the company’s written material
from help center documentation to email marketing initiatives and blog posts. The
goal is to keep communication standard across its entire team and to maintain that

message architecture as early on as possible.

The company’s story as a technology, partnerships, and customer-service minded

organization comes through in absolutely everything on the website. Even though

people — a customer service lead and marketing consultant (R i t i ka), the same brand
story will always shine through. Speak2Leads is a company that prioritizes human
interest and is committed to solving a real problem in sales.

The company’s blog:

The company’s customer-facing knowledge center:

So how do you get started in choosing the keywords to place in your message

Brand strategists leverage a technique called a card sorting exercise.











Is possible, try to get your customers involved in this process. One way is to inter-
view them for customer case studies. What words and expressions are they using
to describe your brand? The more interviews and service reviews you conduct, the
more patterns you’ll start to see.

hind your company.

Your company’s story, message architecture, and brand identity should follow
your team members everywhere from on-site blog posts to PR opportunities in

consistent as possible. As we mentioned earlier, the image you share with the
world should be a genuine, authentic, and transparent view into your organization.

Up until this point, we’ve shown you how Speak2Leads has invested heavily in
its on-site brand persona. Here is a recent interview that they gave to Inc in a
story about companies with their own apps:

What you’ll notice about this interview is that it reinforces key themes that appear
throughout the Speak2Leads website. Coincidence? No way.

This brand identity stems from the organization’s brand persona and message ar-
chitecture — that the company is heavily solutions and client-driven. The company
built its entire solution around a real, focused, and pressing sales problem. That
brand story is powerful and should shine through everywhere, regardless of wheth-



What you say is just as important as how you say it. Make sure you’re using
the tone, voice, and communication style that your audiences value most.

How do you know what this should be and what words you should choose?
Jump back to chapter 1, where we walk through the art meets science of
knowing your audience.

If you’re speaking to an audience of millennials, for instance, they tend to embrace a ca

sual, conversational tone and style — more so than an audience of baby boomers would.
Again, unless you were a college English major (l i ke R i t i ka w as), the concepts of
voice, tone, and style are really vague. How the heck do you put it all on paper?

site brand communications. Get started by completing the following template:


1. G oal of w eb site section :

Jot some notes about what your website visitors should hope to accomplish
when visiting your website.

2. A u dien ce:

3. C ore con cep ts to b e rein f orced:

What do you want your audiences to feel after visiting this section of your web-
site or piece of writing?

4. T on e:
What emotions should come across after somebody reads this story or section of
your website?

5. P ersp ectiv e:

Who is telling the story?

6. V oice
Should the language be conversational, formal, or somewhere in between?
Your brand styleguide and message architecture can be custom-tailored to any form
of multimedia, beyond writing. Whether you’re producing infographics, brand videos,
e-books, or blog posts, your plans will ensure that your messaging is consistent across
mediums. Writing is only one form of online communication. Make sure that you invest
the time in energy in creating structure behind everything that you produce online.


Human-to-human connections are the heart of marketing. Brand storytell-

ing is a technique that can reinforce these bonds.

Stories can give your brand a powerful voice, regardless of whether you’re
running an enterprise organization, small business, or startup.

Storytelling is medium-agnostic. Tell your story through blog posts, custom-

er help centers, about pages, videos, or infographics.

your site, especially if your company is actively building a PR strategy.

Storytelling is more than what you say explicitly. It’s how you communicate
your message and how you connect with your target audiences.

Storytelling concepts are vague, abstract, and tough to plan. Rely on card
sorting exercises, message architecture maps, and brand styleguides to ar-
ticulate your strategy and scale it across teams.

Brand stories are cross-functional commitments that should guide your en-
tire organization. Your sales team, engineers, product managers, executives,
and entry-level professionals should all have a hand in articulating your
brand’s messaging.

they’re saying about you. Identify patterns, and hold these concepts as close
to your heart as possible.





You’ve built an amazing website, mobile app, or online storefront. Your brick-and-
mortar customers love you, and you have the Yelp reviews to promote.

N ow w hat comes n ex t?

If you build it, they will come.

It doesn't matter how slick your website looks: If no one

comes to it, good luck building that Web business.


Just kidding. If it were that easy, the multi-billion dollar internet industry would be
totally useless.

Your website could be amazing, but it’s probably hiding in a digital dark corner where
So what should you do?

You need to actively think about how you’re going to bring new visitors to your web-
ing to content marketing, you have a range of options. We’ll get to these topics but
before we do, we want to explain a key concept:

Audience connections.

ences — people who are most likely to become paying customers.

If you’re new to online marketing, you’ll probably read a lot about blogging, paid
channel advertising, and social media marketing. This guide is going to take a dif-
ferent approach — we’re going to give you the holistic education you need to build a

strategy on Google AdWords. It’s the single-most important marketing strategy for
reaching your target audiences.




ways be subjective and depends on the unique needs of your company.

As we keep emphasizing in this guide, you need to understand your marketing goals to

That means taking a step back and understanding your customer acquisition goals.
Who are you hop in g to reach?

your target audience is through Facebook. Or LinkedIn. Or by sharing your blog posts
with a larger audience.

strategy. As part of this process, the company runs a sales leadership blog on the com-
pany website.

Here’s the problem — audiences aren’t there yet. Speak2Leads is blogging consistently,
and in time, readers will come.

But this process isn’t magic — and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time,
dedication, and patience. Realistically, the site is at least six to eight months out from
positioning the blog as a growth engine.

In the meantime, we’re syndicating Speak2Leads’s content with Business2Community,

a website with an established audience of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and
company leaders. And that’s not all. Business2Community also syndicates its content
with Yahoo Small Business.
Publish your content in one place, and amplify your audience through distribution. The
make the connection
substantive. One way to do this is to advertise on social media platforms like Facebook
and LinkedIn. Another way is to share your branded content with a larger publisher.

This distinction brings us to a very important point, that distribution is the heart of
online marketing. To bring people back to your website, you need to put your brand out
there. This concept is timeliness and applies to virtually any marketing medium.

Eagle Rock Brewery, an example we mentioned in chapter 1 grew its customer base of
Eagle Rock Brewery mirrors a similar concept that Estee Lauder leveraged when build-
ing her makeup business — she distributed her products through department stores
where her target customers were likely to be shopping. Today, her global empire is
worth billions.

l modes of distribu-
tion is that you need to do more than just go where prospective customers are likely to
be. Bring them back to your company’s website — and keep them coming back.


mouth referrals, social media publicity, viral videos, and news outlets who might be
covering and linking to your company online.

ment or advertising slot that your company has devoted to testing. These channels
include banner advertising, social media advertising, and sponsored placements.
sored” or “from our partners” label. By law, companies need to indicate when ad-
vertising is paid.

dedicate time and human capital to building an intelligent strategy and executing
your operations.

We start with the big-picture now and dive into the details in upcoming chapters.


There are several key ‘free
drivers) in online marketing.These include the following channels:
P u b l ic R el ation s:
Build relationships with journalists to gain visibility in media channels. Connect
with top blogs in your industry to contribute content and thought leadership on be-
half of your brand.

Search E n g in e O p timiz ation ( S E O ) :

Develop a strategy to improve your website’s visibility in search engines. When pro-
spective customers are searching for information online, your company should be

Social M edia:
Develop a presence on social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,
LinkedIn, and Quora. Focus on the networks that best position your organization to
reach target audiences.

B l og g in g :
Share thought leadership and expertise in your industry. Your company blog can help
you to become a trusted resource for your customers and prospects.

V ideo M ark etin g :

Create engaging videos to help explain your products and to tell the story behind
your brand. Branded videos can also yield entertainment value.

C on ten t Syn dication :

Don’t have an audience for the video or blog the content that your company is produc-
ing? House it on your blog, and distribute it through a website, publication, or video
channel (like YouTube) with a larger audience base. A proportion of these viewers or

E mail L ists:
Bringing visitors to your website just once isn’t enough. You need to keep them
coming back. An email list can help you accomplish this goal. For instance, every
ers, kind of like the following example:
As we mentioned in the previous section, the term ‘free

Take the example of the Speak2Leads company blog, for instance. As we mentioned,
they syndicate their content with media channels including Business2Community
and Yahoo Small Business. The company also promotes its blog posts through
LinkedIn discussion groups of sales professionals, Quora threads related to CRMs,
and to an extent, Twitter.

Even though the blog is new, these pieces of content send a small amount of referral

Speak2Leads shares content via LinkedIn discussion group members who are inter-
ested will read the post. Readers who liked the post will share it in their own social

Business2Community & Yahoo Small Business re-publish Speak2Leads article à

social media.

in building this marketing engine:

Hiring a content strategist to help oversee the editorial direction and to build the
syndication relationship with Business2Community.

Time spent developing content, which is sometimes an opportunity cost (CEO’s

time spent writing) or direct cost of hiring a writer or editor.

There is also a cost associated with building out a social media strategy, as well as
a separate cost associated with maintaining social media operations.

A way to bring down marketing costs is to leverage your team’s existing

skillset. Consider the story of Dollar Shave Club, a Santa Monica startup
that created a subscription model around men’s shaving products.

The company’s CEO Michael Dubin just happens to have experience as

an improv actor. So he and his team made a hilarious viral video.

The result?

Millions of dollars in venture funding and 5,000 new customers in just one
day following the company’s launch — all thanks to a viral video that cost
just $4,500 to produce.
Especially when it comes to internet marketing, Hollywood success stories are few
and far between. You need to step out of your company’s comfort zone to actively
seek out the audience you want to reach. Take a lesson from Karen X Cheng, found-
er at Dance in a Year.

Karen learned to dance in a year and videotaped her journey. At the beginning of
the video, you’ll see a person who is just getting started learning to dance. As the

moments, you’ll see someone who can dance like a total pro.

Karen’s video tells an amazing story of patience, dedication, and results. It’s energizing.
It’s inspiring. And to date, this home movie has more than 3 million views on YouTube.
It’s inspiring. And to date, this home movie has more than 3 million views on YouTube.

What seems like luck was actually a part of Karen’s carefully planned mar-
keting strategy.
I did a ton of marketing, and it started
ted long before the video
was released. Going viral was not an accident — itit was work

KAREN X CHENG via Fast Company

As she outlines in an article for FastCompany, here are the steps she took to grow
distribution for her video:

1. First, she posted her video to Facebook and Twitter as well as social news sites like
Reddit and Hacker News. She asked her friends to share it and tweeted it at estab-
lished bloggers. She also emailed bloggers who had previously written about other
viral dance videos. Of the approaches she tried, Reddit yielded the strongest re-
sults. The video gained attention and made its way to the top of the GetMotivated
subreddit page. After day 1, she received 80K views.

2. On day 2, bloggers who came across Karen’s video the day before began tell-
ing her story through media channels including Mashable, Jezebel, and the

3. The video’s popularity pushed Karen to the YouTube homepage. That chain of
events helped take Karen to 1.8 million pageviews on the third day.
Karen also leveraged her video to connect with potential sponsors and stakeholders
in her project. These included companies like Lululemon and American Apparel —
two organizations that she was happy to support. Some of these companies support-
ed Karen and shared her video on their social networks too.

She also released her video on Tuesday, guessing that on Monday, people are most
likely to be catching up from the weekend. Her strategy was to catch audiences at

The beauty of Karen’s strategy is twofold:

The marketing and distribution strategy was relatively low-cost.

It can be translated to any piece of high-quality, unique content including e-books

and blog posts.

marketing initiative.

If you perform a Google search for the expression “l e ar n t o d anc e ” Karen’s video

Google Keyword Planner tells us that this phrase is a moderately competitive search

on learning to dance via search engines.

Karen’s video, with the social and PR activity promoting her, ranks among the top
10 search results. This search engine placement will generate strong residual impact

back. Email lists are low cost and powerful tools for accomplishing this key goal.
It’s one of the ways that PassivePanda grew its audience from 0 to 350,000 unique
visitors in just a year.

If you’re ever feeling lost, anchor yourself with the following foundational concept,

your audience’s love, support, and attention.


include online advertising through banners on websites, search engine

marketing campaigns on Google and Bing, and retargeting campaigns
for users who have visited your site before.

This technique is a strong strategy for building awareness around your brand as
well as bringing existing customers and prospects back to your website.

When you’re careful about your strategy, the online advertising ecosystem can

an ad budget without carefully considering the end results that you want to
achieve? Not so much.

Small business owners and startups are frequently hesitant to start paying for
online ads.


For one, they’re skeptical that online marketing doesn’t work. And secondly,
they don’t want to spend the risk of spending their funds.

But here’s the thing. If you ignore paid channel advertising, you risk missing
out on a valuable user acquisition opportunity.
Facebook, for instance, runs an advertising program where marketers can
acquire on a cost per install (C P I ) basis. Users can install apps directly from
Facebook’s mobile platform. Meanwhile, advertisers are only charged on a cost
per install basis.
Moreover, the cost of acquiring these users is competitive — costing under
a dollar in some instances. What’s also important to keep in mind is that
Facebook isn’t the only platform for running mobile ads — there are a range of
options available to align with the target customers and price points that your
company needs.

And here’s the thing. Companies that are risk averse about paid channel adver-
tising are probably doing it wrong. Contrary to what our instincts may tell us,
marketing is not a money-sink or investment. When executed correctly, it’s a
solid revenue driver.

As one Harvard Business Review article argues, it’s time to put an end to the war be-
tween sales and marketing. Both business functions are on the same team and are
exponentially more powerful when aligned and working together.

If your marketing team is doing its job, it shouldn’t even need a budget. This
is a controversial perspective, but you know what? It needs to be said. If
your marketing team is a money-sink for your organization, then it probably
shouldn’t exist. Why would you invest in something that causes your company
to lose money?

The trick, however, is not to jump in with an arbitrary million-dollar spend.

You need to start your test small (w i t h a b u d g e t ), and raise that budget

Here’s what business owners will be especially glad to know — you can start
testing with as little as $100. Yes, you might lose it, but the trick is to keep
collecting data about what pricing models, targeting options, and ad networks
perform best for you.

AdRoll makes it possible to get up and running with a new retargeting cam-
paign in just 3 steps. In fact, they give you $60 for a two week free trial.
The PPC industry is valued at hundreds of billions of dollars thanks to online
media giants like Facebook and Google as well as other small companies. And
rest assured, it’s growing.

In just a few chapters, we’ll walk you through the mechanics of successful paid

quick introduction.



Inbound marketing is a term that HubSpot, a Boston-based company,

has popularized in the last few years. The term is catchy for sure, but
what exactly does it mean?


you. This is a marketing discipline that encourages business leaders to

position their companies as pull rather than push-mechanisms.

Examples of inbound marketing include branded content (t hr ou g h b l og s and

v i d e o), social media, and giveaways. Inbound marketing works for compa-
nies that can successfully position themselves as thought leaders and valuable
sources of information.

Inbound marketing is a term that HubSpot, a Boston-based company, has pop-

ularized in the last few years. The term is catchy for sure, but what exactly does
it mean?

Marketing adds visibility to your website.

necting with the right audiences and leading them back to your website.

requires dedicated time and resources. You need to invest

in your strategy and put muscle behind your plan.

able returns from your investment, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Once your marketing strategy gains momentum, you should feel comfort-
able raising/lifting your budget to grow your customer acquisition.

quite robust.

Focus on developing a high quality product and robust marketing materials.

marketing through social media and return visits over the long-term.

Consumers can sense BS from miles away. Give them the respect that they

marketing strategy.





In case you skipped the last chapter, we just spent 3,000 words talking about
how important it is to invest time, energy, and resources into bringing custom-
ers to your website.

We constantly need to be asking ourselves what we really expect a user

to understand about our product, and we need to have ways to preemp-
tively help them in places where we’re presenting new concepts or unfa-
miliar terminology.

LAURA KLEIN, Principal at UsersKnow for her blog

Now, we are going to shock (r e ad : r oc k) your entire world by telling you the following:

In addition to bringing visitors to your website, you need to keep them there. Not
only that, you need to transform them from interested prospects into customers.
Your website needs to move the relationship forward (and se al t he d e al ).
Conversion optimization is the process of transforming new
ers into repeat buyers.

This is a concept that every online marketer needs to thoroughly

understand. If you don’t have a website (or marketing strategy) that’s

Conversion optimization isn’t rocket science. In many

ways, it’s common sense. But you need to actively think about what
you’re doing. Know your best practices.


Website visitors go through a series of steps before converting into paying

customers or repeat buyers. These steps will vary based on your business
model, industry, and product/service price points. Your job as a marketer is
to understand these natural paths and make the process seamless.

A typical conversion funnel looks something like this:

Or maybe something like this:

Metaphorically speaking, conversion funnels come in all shapes and sizes.

Pragmatically speaking, conversion funnels will almost always look like a funnel.

These points of divergence are natural and impossible for your business to avoid.
But there are some things that can easily be avoided. Like when your company looks
untrustworthy. Or when audiences can’t understand what the heck is going on. Or
when sign-up processes are so convoluted that prospects just give up and move on.
Conversion optimization is the solution to these problems. But we’ll get to that later.
In the meantime, we want to make sure that you really get the basics.

It’s rare for a company to have just one conversion funnel. That’s why you want to

stable 27-year-old.

Your more expensive product line may be a tougher sell than than the $5/month
Return-website visitors may have already built trust with your company while
brand new visitors who just found your website through a banner ad might be
more skeptical.

ferral from a friend. You might guess that the personal referral will instill the most
trust in your brand.

An optimized conversion funnel starts with a thorough understand if your audience

and user segments. Conversion optimization is a term that many marketers toss
around as a buzzword — it’s a buzzword that comes with many, many more.






What #s 1 through 3 share in common is that they are tactics. These are important
as part of your conversion optimization process, but they are not enough to BE con-
version optimization.







Treat your customers and prospects as you would your most valuable collaborators
and business partners.

Conversion optimization is a blended discipline that is equal parts psychol-

ogy, design, copywriting, A/B testing, and analytics. Here is how each of the


customers’ and prospects’ most pressing needs and priorities. Know where
saging, and copy possible.

Understand what messaging makes the most sense at each stage of the conversion

guides prospects towards a purchase. Early funnel prospects, for instance, just
want to gather information. If you push them too hard with an aggressive sales
pitch, you risk damaging the relationship. Mid-funnel prospects, however, want
more than research and may be ready for a conversation with your sales team.
Understand the stages of the conversion funnel to know what your customers
and prospects need. Then, craft your message accordingly.

Avoid creating cognitive dissonance. This is a fancy way of saying that your mar
dissonance is cohesion — ensuring that your headings, sub-headings, calls to

H ere are tw o homep ag e con cep ts that ex emp l if y this b est p ractice.
Coworks, a community that helps businesses build long-term relation
ships with freelancers. Here is a screenshot of their homepage. We love how well -the
The value proposition, to ‘get creative jobs done now by great freelancers your
friends recommend’ is clear and concise. Through one short and sweet state-
ment, we easily can see that social recommendations are a major value proposi-
tion for this community.

The image is chosen with intelligence and care. These are actual Coworks custom-
ers, not a generic stock photo.

The explainer text towards the bottom of the screenshot clearly explains the seg-
ments in which Coworks specializes. The company also explains that trust, net-
work referrals, and online collaboration management are key value propositions
for using this platform.

So what’s missing? The page could be strengthened with customer testimonials as

well as logos of companies that are already using Coworks.

This brings us to our second example, InVision: a software platform that helps de-
Conversion-centered designs blend form with function. Your web pages should be aes-
thetically pleasing, quick to read, and driven by human interest. Beauty alone, however,
will not drive sales for your company. The design elements you choose should be cus-
tom-tailored to the precise conversion funnel stages that you’re targeting.

The Coworks homepage, for instance, is clearly targeted to new users. The design
ing. Text is kept short and clear to just a few lines.

In addition to building human interest, Coworks implements subtle design elements

to convert new website visitors into users of the platform.

The website call to action is clear and simple — placed prominently in the middle
of the page.

The call-to-action is bright blue, a vibrant color that stands out from each of the
other elements of the page.

The page communicates prioritizes visual communication over text through strategic
use and placement of web copy. Coworks makes it a point to call out that joining the
platform is free — right next to the page’s call to action. The company also uses en-
gaging icons, rather than text, to explain the platform’s core specialties in design &
illustration, writing & translation, photo & video, and web/app development.

It is important to keep your design as current and updated as possible. A cruddy

design could be costing you business.

CloudSponge had an outdated web design that they suspected was hurting their
business. Sure enough, it was. When they tested a new version of the site, perfor-
mance improved by 33%.
Conversion-centered designs blend form with function. Your web pages should be aes-
thetically pleasing, quick to read, and driven by human interest. Beauty alone, however,
will not drive sales for your company. The design elements you choose should be cus-
tom-tailored to the precise conversion funnel stages that you’re targeting.

The Coworks homepage, for instance, is clearly targeted to new users. The design
ing. Text is kept short and clear to just a few lines.

In addition to building human interest, Coworks implements subtle design elements

to convert new website visitors into users of the platform.

The website call to action is clear and simple — placed prominently in the middle
of the page.

The call-to-action is bright blue, a vibrant color that stands out from each of the
other elements of the page.

The page communicates prioritizes visual communication over text through strategic
use and placement of web copy. Coworks makes it a point to call out that joining the
platform is free — right next to the page’s call to action. The company also uses en-
gaging icons, rather than text, to explain the platform’s core specialties in design &
illustration, writing & translation, photo & video, and web/app development.
cepts, copy, and headlines. How do you know that you’re running with the best
possible option for converting users?

The fact is that you probably don’t. That’s what A/B testing is for — to help you con-
tinuously iterate and improve.

A/B testing is also known as split testing. The process involves comparing multiple
A/B testing is also known as split testing. The process involves comparing multiple
variation of a page element (or entire page) to pinpoint the best performer.

It’s especially important to run A/B tests when redesigning your website. Even if
pany may lose valuable sales. An A/B test will help you ‘try before you buy’ and
forecast unexpected boosts and losses before they happen. In other words A/B tests
help mitigate the consequences of marketing gone wrong.


1. Start with user psychology. What elements on your homepage, product pages,

are example elements that may make sense to A/B test:

Color schemes


Landing page copy


Explainer video vs. no video

Call to action copy

Requirements for credit card information


Page templates

Homepage concepts

2. Determine how many variations you want to test. This will depend on how much

sample size for each group.

3. Form hypotheses about what you think will perform better and why. Make this
a cross-functional exercise by gathering perspectives from your entire team. Be
sure to include a blend of opinions from designers, engineers, copywriters, and
everyone in between.

4. Choose a tool like Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely to help run your test.

is representative and entirely randomized, as unforeseen trends in the data can

skew the interpretation of results.
5. Run your test until you see a stable pattern. If you end your test too soon, your

time. And if you don’t see a pattern in the data? That’s just the way it is — it’s
perfectly acceptable to have inconclusive results. This trend happens in formal
research all the time, and it doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong.

6. Having a statistics background can help for interpreting the results of your A/B
test, but don’t feel held back if you’re not a mathematician. The tools we men-
tioned in #5 can help you make sense out of your data. Visual Website Optimizer
is especially powerful for website owners and marketers who may be new to sta-
tistics. The software will give you a framework to make sense of your data.

7. Be consistent. Testing is something that your company should do on a consistent

basis so that your team is constantly gathering insights and learning.

When executed correctly, A/B testing yields powerful results. Consider the follow-
ing example from Nature Air. The company had 17 separate landing pages and did a

pages had contextual calls to action while the original landing page did not.

A/B testing with a new call to action boosted conversion rates from about 2% to
more than 19% — an increase of almost 600%.
What are people doing, and why?

What went wrong, and why?

What’s going right, and why?

The answers to these three questions are foundational to your online marketing
strategy. They will help you:

Fix problems that are causing you to lose business.

Identify initiatives that you can scale and grow for even more success.

The thing about analytics is that there is no formulaic approach. You need to identify
the right tools and metrics to help tell your customers’ story. And before you go soft-
ware shopping, you need a clear strategic vision for what you’re hoping to achieve.

If you’re not careful, you can easily become buried in a sea of data. There’s just so
much. It will keep you entertained and intrigued for hours.

But that’s not the point. Data should have value beyond entertainment. What you
study should have a clear connection to your company’s most pressing strategic
goals. Before running any analyses, you should ask yourself whether there is a clear

business decisions.

Analytics should be actionable and should tell a clear story about the people browsing
your website. They should also capture the entire buy cycle in the following key areas:

Metrics to watch include unique visitors, natural search, and referring links.

Metrics to watch include pageviews, return visits, social media engagement, and
completion of on-site tasks (e.g. video views)

Metrics to watch include return visits, repeat buys, long-term customer value,
and churn.

Conversion optimization and A/B testing goals should be compared against bench-
marks established from your analytics.

A landing page is a single web page that appears after a user clicks on an adver-
tisement. These can be used to capture leads, communicate information, or gen-
page. Here are
some examples:

Speak2Leads has an integration partnership with Infusionsoft. Here is what users see
when they click through to Speak2Leads from the Infusionsoft app marketplace:

1. Infusionsoft App Marketplace — where Speak2Leads can recruit new prospects

2. Infusionsoft-focused landing page, hosted on Speak2Leads, to convert prospects

into leads.
2. Infusionsoft-focused landing page, hosted on Speak2Leads, to convert prospects
into leads.

make sense for your target audience. Cognitive dissonance will cause users to be-

Landing pages can also be set up to gather interest from potential customers, even
before your product launches. This is called a pre-launch landing page. Here is an
example from Pitchbox, a software platform that helps companies streamline their
prospecting and sales:
make sense for your target audience. Cognitive dissonance will cause users to be-

Landing pages can also be set up to gather interest from potential customers, even
before your product launches. This is called a pre-launch landing page. Here is an
example from Pitchbox, a software platform that helps companies streamline their
prospecting and sales:
The company is in private beta, and their conversion goal is to gather interest and

Unbounce is a platform that can make the process of creating and A/B testing your
landing pages much easier. They’ve put together a great diagram that explains the
components of a high-performing landing page. Especially if you’re a newcomer to
online marketing, this guide can help you overcoming any design learning curves to
start generating results immediately.

1. The starting point of your marketing campaign is your ability t

unique value proposition. Be clear in what sets your product apart from the competi-
1. The starting point of your marketing campaign is your ability t
unique value proposition. Be clear in what sets your product apart from the competi-
tion. Your value proposition can be communicated through four page elements:

A. The primary headline

B. The sub-heading

The best way to keep your primary headline short & sweet. Add supple-
mental details to communicate as clearly as possible.

C. The reinforcement statement

Include this statement for backup (to cover bases) since people will be scan-
ning your page.

D. The closing argument

2. Unbounce calls this the hero shot. Its purpose is to build human interest and clar-
ity ambiguity. It can be a picture or explainer video that showcases your product,
service, or team in the best possible light.

3. Provide a more detailed description of your product or service’s main features

jump into the most important details. Answer the one key question that website
visitors are inevitably asking: “what’s in it for me?”

A. -
tence or paragraph (at most) and explain the rest via bullets. Come back to
this section once it’s written, and edit out the bloat.


start describing the features. These details will be important for reaching us-
ers who need in-depth information to make a decision.

4. Social proof is a powerful and persuasive concept (in Unbounce’s words exactly).
These are social signals to explain that your product or service is in high de-
mand. The concept is that users are more likely to convert if they know of other
4. Social proof is a powerful and persuasive concept (i n U nb ou nc e ’ s w or d s e x ac t l y ).
These are social signals to explain that your product or service is in high de-
mand. The concept is that users are more likely to convert if they know of other
customers that have been happy doing business with your company.

E x amp l es of social p roof in cl u de:

Customer testimonials

Social signals via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn

A count of how many customers your company has

Trust seals to establish security of information

Awards from reputable organizations

Here are some examples of the concept in action:

From 37Signals:
From Clarity:

From Unbounce:

From KISSmetrics:

From UserTesting:
From UserTesting:

this is communicated as your webpage’s call-to-action (CTA), which can be a
standalone button or part of a lead gen form.

Copy text and color are the elements that you should prioritize most in your

Be very direct (and tangible) about what audiences can expect after clicking
through on the button.

Make the button as attention-grabbing as it can possibly be. General best

practices are to choose a color that contrasts with the existing color scheme.
Use additional visual cues to draw attention to it.
Look at the following example from the CrazyEgg homepage. What is more compel-
ling? A button that says “c l i c k he r e ” or CTA copy that tells you exactly what you’re
going to get?

And here’s an example from QuickSprout:

should expect to derive from working with your company or using your product.
After all, you’re talking to humans, not click bots.

we feel that you’re well-empowered with the basics to move forward. Now that un-
derstand how to build a marketing system, we’re ready to talk campaigns.

Getting audiences to your website is only half the marketing equation. Your
company needs to invest in a powerful conversion optimization strategy.

Start by understanding the steps that prospects take in moving through your
company’s unique conversion funnel. Keep in mind that you likely have more
than one.

Conversion optimization is a blended discipline. You need to pay attention to

clude design and copywriting. A/B testing and analytics are also crucial for opti-
mizing conversions on your website.

Landing pages are a discipline where art meets science. They need to be attrac-

conversion funnel. Re-read the last section of this chapter. Print it out, and pin it
on your marketing team’s wall.





You’ve heard the term tossed around a million times. Content mar-
keting. The phrase seems simple enough, but what exactly is it?
Content marketing is just what it sounds like. It’s the process of en-
gaging and growing your customer base through high quality content.
Content marketing is an investment.
It’s part of a larger marketing framework.
It requires strategic insight.
It targets users across the entire conversion funnel.
It should be held accountable to a standard set of success metrics.
Content marketing is NOT social media, an intern’s job, or limited to a company
blog. Like any other marketing practice, it requires commitment to systems and
standards. It should be held accountable to measurable results.

Now that consumers are totally in control of the buying process, you are seeing enter-
prise brands working to adapt to that. The whole movement to get found in search, or
drive online leads or create business opportunities with social media starts and ends
with a content marketing strategy.
In order for any of that to work, enterprise brands have to have something meaningful
to say that, in some way, links to their marketing and business objectives.

JOE PULIZZI, Founder and CEO at The Content Marketing Institute via
The Content Strategist

Content marketing is more than just the creation and distribution of content.

Content marketing is the art of creating and distributing relevant and valuable
content to attract, acquire, and engage a target audience — with the objective
of driving profitable customer action.
The Content Marketing Institute

It starts with storytelling around the concepts that your customers value most.

Good storytelling can feel challenging, especially if you’re a marketer

or business owner who comes from a sales background. With content
marketing, you absolutely cannot and should not sell. Rather than
pitching your services upfront, focus on driving awareness about your
brand and thought leadership in your area of expertise. Think about
moving prospects through the conversion funnel. Sales will happen as
a natural byproduct of this relationship that you’re building with your
customers and prospects.

Take a look at Qualcomm’s Spark platform as an example. This enterprise com-

pany is creating innovating content to keep readers engaged. And what aren’t
they doing? S e l l i ng .

Rather than producing content from a team of marketers, the company hires jour-
nalists, business leaders, and tech bloggers. To the best extent possible, the brand
tries to remove itself from the equation. They don’t talk about themselves. Instead,
they cover topics that their audiences truly care about.

Content marketing is more than just writing. There are a variety of channels that
your brand can leverage to connect with prospective customers. These include:


These can be entertaining or educational videos produced on behalf of your brand.

Dollar Shave Club, a Santa Monica startup, was able to kickstart its user acquisition
through the production of a hilarious video. It went viral and generated over 12,000
user sign-ups within days of launching.

Videos can range in cost from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. If
you are looking to produce a video and need a quote, check out SmartShoot.


These are content hubs designed to engage and educate audiences about topics that
they care about. Qualcomm Spark is one example of a content portal.

For another example, check out LearnVest’s Life and Money platform, a resource

tent portal collects stories and actionable tactics from people learning to make the
most of their money.

A r t i c l e s f or c ont e nt p or t al s t e nd t o c ost $ 2 0 0 - $ 1 , 0 0 0 t o p r od u c e .

These are longer-pieces of content, designed for the purpose of education. These
can be self-published through Amazon or hosted on your website. For a great exam-
ple, check out the 2013 Careers Guide from Wealthfront. Wealthfront is investment
ter? Because young professionals have money to invest too. The company’s leader-
ship team consists of highly seasoned Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (t he y he l p e d t o
b u i l d L i nke d I n). They understand how to navigate Silicon Valley better than anyone.

Clarity, a platform that connects advice seekers with experienced business leaders
and subject matter experts, recently produced an e-book with stories on entrepre-
neurship. The resource, “S t r ai g ht U p S t ar t u p A d v i c e s” shares stories on starting,
growing, and launching a business. This topic make sense for Clarity’s audience of
business leaders and new entrepreneurs.

Depending on length, Ebooks cost between $1,000 and $10,000 to write. Hiring a
designer to supplement the writing can also cost up to $10,000 or more.


These are storytelling tools and visual representations of data. Infographics are
focused on a general topic like The Biggest Tax Dodgers in History or The Good and
Bad Habits of Smart People. The key is to tell your story visually. Break down com-
plex information into a simple, easy-to-follow form.
Here is an infographic (ab ou t i nf og r ap hi c s) from Customer Magnetism.
Depending on the level of sophistication, Infographics cost between $1,000 and
$5,000 to produce. Expect to pay between $500 and several thousand dollars for
promotion and distribution.

One way to build a relationship with your audience is to teach a class in your area of
expertise. You can teach this class through e-mail, videos hosted on your website, or
in your physical store. Online platforms like Udemy also provide resources to help
you produce, host, share, and monetize your videos.

H ere are some ex amp l es:

Erica Swallow, a startup PR expert, teachers a class in her area of expertise

(via Udemy):
Erica Swallow, a startup PR expert, teachers a class in her area of expertise
(via Udemy):

Onboardly teaches a class on acquiring customers through blogging:

Ritika teaches and co-teaches in-person classes via General Assembly:

Both Michael’s (an ar t su p p l y st or e ) and Lululemon (w om e n’ s r u nni ng and y og a

g e ar ) host in-store events:
Both Michael’s (an ar t su p p l y st or e ) and Lululemon (w om e n’ s r u nni ng and y og a
g e ar ) host in-store events:


One valuable way to build your audience is to host a webinar: an online version of
a seminar. These can be free to low-cost. The beauty of webinars is that they are
scalable to accommodate as many people as you want, from anywhere in the world.
KISSmetrics frequently hosts webinars to help customers and prospects develop
their website analytics strategies.
Typically, the cost of your webinar will be the software you use to host it (u nl e ss y ou
w ant t o hi r e an e x p e r t t o c om e g i v e t he p r e se nt at i on). GoToWebinar and Mezzanine
let you host and record webinars.

When well-executed, all forms of content are valuable, so don’t feel pressured
to drop $100K on an enterprise microsite if you don’t have the budget handy.
Remember that ROI is contingent on your brand’s comfort level to spend.

Whatever you do, do it well. There is always room to produce more content as your
company grows.



KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, and QuickSprout have always built their organic search

Through blogging and creating infographics, KISSmetrics was able to to get over
100,000 monthly organic visitors in less than a year. Same with QuickSprout —
Google drives close to 100,000 per month to the blog.

CrazyEgg has been going through a similar process.

It is a great tool for improving the conversion of a website. We launched our blog,
The Daily Egg, during the first week of November 2011, so the blog is only over
one year old. In our first year, we had half a million visitors. Traffic growth has
been on average 10 to 15 percent month over month, and subscriber growth really
picked up at the six month mark.

RUSS HENNEBERRY, former Blog Manager at CrazyEgg via

The Content Strategist
Here are some key lessons learned from the three websites:

B e detail ed an d con sisten t. Short blog posts tend to get fewer links than lon-
ger pieces of content. Don’t feel pressured to churn out massive amounts of con-
tent each day. Prioritize quality over quantity.

M ak e con ten t dig estib l e b y u sin g v isu al s. Information overload is the norm
online. Make information as simple to digest as possible, and your readers will
love you… which means that they’ll share your content.
B e con sisten t. If you can’t publish content on a regular basis, it will be tough to
get ROI. Make sure that you publish regularly.

Write aw esome headl in es. If your headlines are boring, nobody will want to
read your content. You need to be compelling, edgy, and speak to your audience’s

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will
read the rest of your post, explains CopyBlogger.

Headlines should be short, sweet, and enticing.



Production is only 20% of the content marketing formula. The rest is distribution.

recruit eyeballs.

One way to bring visitors to your website is through email marketing. If you have
a blog, make sure that there is a clear place for users to sign up to be a part of your
email list. If you publish an ebook? Same thing. Collect leads. Make sign-ups the

When you publish a new blog post, video, or ebook, tell your subscribers about it.
Send them an email every time a new story is produced. Don’t worry about turning
this into a promotional newsletter. Make it a short, attention-grabbing, and compel-
ling personal note.

Here is how it’s done for QuickSprout:

Here is how LearnVest does it:


1. Title your emails with compelling headlines, which can be titles of your newest
or most compelling blog posts.

2. Be extremely personal and personable. Make it clear that there are real people
on the other sides of your company’s computer screens.

3. Don’t be spammy about your emails. Let your users know how often you’ll be
emailing them when they opt-in to your mailing list.

4. Send emails once or twice a week, max!

5. Monitor unsubscribe rates closely. Use these numbers to guide how often you
should send your emails.

6. Once your subscriber list is large enough, A/B test subject headlines on a portion of
your subscribers to see which inspire the most opens. An important metric to moni-
tor are open rates (t he p r op or t i on of e m ai l s op e ne d c om p ar e d t o t he nu m b e r se nt .)

But we’ll talk about email marketing again later in chapter 8.


One of the core purposes of content marketing is to build a community around your
brand. Marketers and business leaders get that. But for some reason, brands feel
like all of the content needs to come from them. That’s the wrong approach to your
content marketing. You should only produce a portion of your content in-house.
Hire writers and content producers. Here’s why:

Professional writers and subject matter experts frequently have their own audi-
ences. Reputable writers will help you kickstart or amplify your audiences.

Professional writers tend to work with multiple clients. Smart writers will
cross-promote posts between clients.

Great writers leave footprints all over the web.

People want to learn from their peers in the community. If your CEO uses your
company blog like a megaphone to blast corporate messaging, you’ll instantly
scare your readers away. Hire writers to neutralize your sales pitch.

Writers can write faster than you can. You don’t have time to spend hours on a
blog post that your writers can knock out in an hour. Spend your time building
your product, and leave it to your freelancers to produce greatw content.

Take a look at some of the most popular blogs on the Internet. Typically, these folks
will collect insight from multiple writers. This is the approach that KISSmetrics
and CrazyEgg have taken. It’s an invaluable way to amplify your network and build
a community around your brand — leverage the community that others have build
around their own brands.
One of the core purposes of content marketing is to build a community around your
brand. Marketers and business leaders get that. But for some reason, brands feel
like all of the content needs to come from them. That’s the wrong approach to your

Content marketing is valuable for connecting with users at all stages of the
conversion funnel. Make sure that you’re monitoring the right metrics to
optimize your content marketing program’s performance:


These metrics quantify the relationship you’re building with your prospects and
customers. Pay attention to the following metrics to capture this important concept:

Pageviews: The total number of pages viewed on your website in a given

time period.

Average visit duration: How long visitors are spending on your site.

Return visits: The number of total visits from users who have visited your web-
site before.

Bounce rate: The percentage of users who visit your website and then immedi-
ately leave.

Average pages viewed per visit: The number of website pages viewed, on av-
erage, in a given time period.


rics will help you quantify this concept:

Social media shares: Shares through social media channels like Facebook,
Twitter, and Pinterest give your content a higher probability of gaining visibility.

Unique visitors: The total number of distinct visitors who come your website in
a given time period.


A marketer’s most important job is to drive leads and conversions. Content market-
ing should align with these goals.
ing should align with these goals.

Leads: The number of leads that can be directly and indirectly attributable to
content marketing.

Conversions: The number of sales / orders that funnel in through your content.

Sign-ups and inquiries: The number of people who express interest in doing
business with your organization after consuming a piece (or multiple pieces of)

It is important to understand how leads are interacting with your brand throughout
the purchase funnel. Depending on your company and business model, it usually
takes a series of steps to ultimately convert into a lead or paying customer. Content
marketing should help your customers through this purchase funnel. The process
should be emotionally engaging, fun, and frictionless.


How much of your bottom line does your content program drive? To measure this,

Recurring Revenue: Quantify the revenue that your content program drives


How much does it cost to acquire each user through content marketing? On aver-
age, how much value will customers drive over a lifetime? These metrics will help
you craft an intelligent budget for your content marketing strategy — to make sure
that you’re ROI positive and not losing money from your investment.

Unbounce is an example that we’ve featured throughout this guide,

but in case you’ve missed the discussion — they’re an awesome com-
pany and are generating phenomenal thought leadership in the mar-
keting community. Their company specializes in software that helps
marketers create high-performing landing pages without web de-
signers or IT. Not to mention, they have a strong content marketing
presence with high quality writers and passionate readers.

They were wonderful enough to submit a case study for us about their recent
“Unwebinar.” Here is a breakdown from Unbounce’s Director of Marketing,
Georgiana Laudi.

What was the problem that Unbounce’s webinar was trying to solve?


Unbounce launched its multi-client and multi-user capabilities last fall. Within
a couple of weeks it became obvious that some of our customers weren’t sure
how best to use the new features and that communication on our website wasn’t
doing enough to show the value. Up to our necks with typical startup fury,
Ryan (Director of Customer Success) and I set out to find a solution, we called them

It was the first time we’d ever hosted a live online event (even though in marketing,
we’d been guests on quite a few webinars). It was an experiment to say the least. We
decided not to limit attendance to customers, giving non-customers a peak in-
side Unbounce. This MVP version wouldn’t last long though.


What were your goals?


The goal of the first Unwebinar was 2-fold, 1) Communicate what was new
(multi-user and multi-client capability) and 2) Gather feedback which would help us
do a better job with our product, with our customers and communicating to
leads. And, since we knew people less familiar with Unbounce would attend, we
wanted to briefly introduce ourselves as well.

What important steps did you take?


We built a fort of sleeping bags, stuck a desk in the middle with 2 mics and 3
computers (one for Ryan, one for Rick our CEO, and one for me to moderate). We put up
a landing page (duh) and signed up for the de facto standard, GoToWebinar.
We then sent an email to our customers and leads and also pushed out invites
through our social channels.

We then nervously held the 30 minute webinar, and proceeded to high-five on

a job well done. Anyone who has ever held a webinar knows though, the work
does not end there. We then converted the recording and slides, gathered a
list of resources that came up during the recording, and sent out our follow-up
email, also asking for feedback. Emails and tweets were overwhelmingly posi-
tive, throw in some more high-fives, and we were off to plan our next one.


What was the outcome?


Throughout the Q&A, it quickly became obvious that attendees had tons of
questions about landing pages and A/B testing itself. We knew we had to
switch things up; We were now going to focus on content to help marketers be
more effective, primarily and almost entirely. We knew there was a place for
demoing Unbounce itself, but marketers were desperate for tactical advice, so
we set out to be as useful as possible.


At any point, did you need to change directions? Why or why not?


By our 2nd Unwebinar, we’d convinced stage/camera/audio shy Oli Gardner

(Mr. Landing Page) that his knowledge was in high demand in this format too (Oli
launched our blog and writes 90% of our ebooks). It worked, Oli and Ryan not only an-
swered peoples’ questions about Landing Page Optimization, but were pretty
entertaining too. Feedback again, was overwhelmingly positive.
By our 2nd Unwebinar, we’d convinced stage/camera/audio shy Oli Gardner
(Mr. Landing Page) that his knowledge was in high demand in this format too (Oli
launched our blog and writes 90% of our ebooks). It worked, Oli and Ryan not only an-
swered peoples’ questions about Landing Page Optimization, but were pretty
entertaining too. Feedback again, was overwhelmingly positive.

We’d found our winning Unwebinar format; Invite experts (like Anna Sawyer,
Joanna Weibe, Chris Goward, Peep Laja) to come and talk about topics related to
conversion rate optimization and give attendees a platform to ask questions in

We still do demo Unbounce after every webinar, but now we give people fair
warning and they’re welcome to opt-out. Much to our delight, about of at-
tendees stick around for it.

Even better, as a result of our Unwebinars being more content focused, our
Customer Success team continue to offer super useful weekly demos for people
wanting to learn more about Unbounce itself.


What were some key takeaways that you learned?

Our first webinar made it really obvious that while there is a place for demoing
our product, marketers are hungry for great content and actionable learning.

Here’s how our registration and attendance have looked since we started:


Actionable Steps to Client Management in Unbounce 190 50

Landing Page Optimization with Oli Gardner 476 178

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About

1021 471
AdWords with Anna Sawyer

Copywriting for Conversion with Joanna Weibe 2282 627

A/B Testing Essentials with Michael Aagaard 1938 449

Designing for Conversion with Oli Gardner 2523 589

Multiply Your Conversion Rates with Chris Goward 2066 426

10 Landing Page Mistakes and How to Fix Them

3265 610
with Peep Laja

Not only were our webinars themselves improving but we started to do what
we do best, test dedicated landing pages. Through our integration with Zapier,
on our 2nd webinar we were able to use Unbounce landing pages for our reg-
istration pages. Not only are they prettier than the standard stark format of
GoToWebinar, we’re able to test to see which messaging works best, all while
sending registrants directly through to GTW automatically. It was a game
changer. Conversion rates on our registration pages have gone from 26% on
our 2nd webinar to 65% on our latest, that’s an increase of 150%!

Speaking of our latest, this month’s Unwebinar is with Rand Fishkin, he’s gonna


Content marketing is more than just blogging. Get creative about the types of
content you’re producing.

Hold your content marketing program accountable by monitoring success

through metrics that translate into revenue for your company.

Focus on engagement, not self-promotion. Write about topics that your readers
care about, and don’t be overly promotional about your brand. Let sales be a nat-
ural byproduct of your content marketing strategy.

Integrate your content marketing with a bigger-picture marketing strategy.

Focus on moving customers and prospects through your sales conversion funnel.
Make the experience fun, engaging, and frictionless for them. Prioritize relation-
ships above transactions.

Be relentless about quality. Your content should be amazing. Readers won’t care
about a sub-par experience, as there is plenty of other content out there.





Paid channel marketing is something you’ve probably come across

in some form or another. Other names for this topic include Search
Engine Marketing ( S E M ) , online advertising, or pay-per-click ( P P C )
marketing. Very often, marketers use these terms interchangeably to
describe the same concept — traffic purchased through online ads.

You might be surprised to learn that the paid channel advertising landscape is
worth hundreds of billions of dollars. In 2011, the ad-supported Internet con-
tributed more than $500 billion to the United States economy.

H ol y smok es. That’s a lot of spend. But what is the exact ROI?

The numbers alone tell us that this marketing channel far too robust to ignore, but
more often than not, marketers are scared to take the plunge for two reasons:

1. It costs mon ey to g et u p an d ru n n in g an d

2. T here’ s a b ig chan ce you ’ l l l ose mon ey if you aren ’ t smart ab ou t you r

strateg y.

Over 10 years ago I fell in love with PPC because it was the most measur-
Over 10 years ago I fell in love with PPC because it was the most measur-
able and optimizable marketing channel. Yet as PPC has become more and
powerful and thus more optimizable, sadly, the average AdWords account
manager is optimizing less stuff in their account — to the point where I be-
lieve that today, most AdWords accounts are dying of neglect.

LARRY KIM, PPC Blogger and Expert via WordStream

Paid channel advertising is a powerful marketing medium because it is measurable.

It’s possible to calculate both a long-term and short-term value for how much rev-
enue resulted from even one incoming website visit. You can also deploy targeting
features to ensure that you’re reaching the right audiences.

reach customers.

Which n etw ork shou l d you u se?

The answer to that question goes back to user psychology. Understand what people
are doing when they’re using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google products.

and advertising message.



Here is a quick yet thorough crash course on the topic:

The capacity in which you work with a website or advertising network to show your
ads will depend on how you are able to pay. Tools like Facebook will generally give

ferent paid channel pricing models, as well as their strengths and pitfalls:

T he B asics:

You’re not charged for any clicks.

This ad format is common on display advertising networks (b anne r s, ad s w i t h an

i m ag e , e t c ).

L in g erin g Q u estion :

W hat I s A n I m p r e ssi on?

It’s a measure of the number of times an ad is displayed, regardless of whether it’s

clicked on or not.

the ad spend; whereas for other types of online advertising (l i ke C P C ), there is no

guarantee that your ad will shown.

Stren g ths:

CPM rates can be relatively inexpensive.

You’re paying directly for people to see your ad — these are likely to be top of the
funnel consumers.

You can easily apply a budget that makes sense, as you are only paying for views.

Works well for visual, branding-oriented campaigns.

Guarantees that your ad will be shown the number of times that you want it to be
seen (p e r i m p r e ssi on) .

Weak n esses:

If people aren’t clicking on your ads and converting, you risk overspending.

Performance ( r e su l t i ng sal e s f r om ad v i e w s) are tough to accurately track and monitor.

Here are examples of CPM banner advertising on (s e e t he ad f r om
U nd e r w at e r A u d i o on t he t op of t he p ag e ) . It’s possible to purchase ads with sites like
these directly or through the Google Ad Exchange.

Here is how Forbes runs display advertising (s e e t he b anne r ad f r om H P at t he t op ):


T he B asics:

You pay for every click on your ad, at a price determined by the marketplace value
of the keyword or expression you’re interested in.

CPC marketplaces operate on an auction model, where strong-performing ads are

likely to win.

(C TR s) and
the CPCs that the advertisers are willing to pay.

Stren g ths:

Clicks are straightforward to track.

(C P C s and b u d g e t s) in near real-time by

tracking performance on your website.

You only pay for the clicks you need.


For marketers who are tracking ROI, CPC advertising can be much more cost-ef-
Weak n esses:

Clicks coming in now may result in monetization later — attribution models need
to be accurate.

If you’re not bidding with a competitive CPC, it’s entirely possible that you won’t

It’s complicated.

If you don’t have a handle on your strategy, it can quickly become


It requires a dedicated resource to monitor and optimize campaigns.

You need to know what you’re doing to see an ROI.

Here are example PPC ads targeting the keywords “

u sab i l i t y t e st i ng ” on Google:

And Bing:
And Facebook: And LinkedIn:


T he B asics:

The advertiser pay

For instance, if you advertise on, you will pay 20% on sales generated

Stren g ths:

You pay for performance.

Weak n esses:

T he B asics:

Cost per install based advertising.

Geared towards mobile app developers.

Stren g ths:

You pay directly for installs.

Some ad network algorithms will decrease costs for higher number of installs.

On some ad networks (l i ke F ac e b ook) , you can target your creatives and messag-
ing to people who have downloaded similar apps in the past.

Weak n esses:

You pay the same amount for user-installs that yield both high and low long-term
user value.

Here is an example of a mobile ad from HotelTonight, an app that helps consumers

book hotel rooms at the last minute. These ads are targeted to Facebook newsfeeds.

T he B asics:

Cost per view rate structure for video advertising.

You pay per number of views to your video ad.

Stren g ths:

Structured entirely for video-based advertising.

You can choose to have ads autoplay or for users to click “p l ay .”

networks like Google/YouTube.

Video is a highly engaging marketing medium.

Weak n esses:

You’re paying for views, not conversions.

The same weaknesses from CPM-based advertising apply to CPV-based


Your paid channel advertising campaigns are only as strong as your overarching
strategy. Here are some important concepts that you should know before you shop
around for advertising opportunities:

These are features that allow you to pace how ads are shown throughout the day.
You can specify that ads are shown during certain hours of the day only.

Market to your existing audience. If you’re an e-commerce company, you can show
them products they’ve already expressed interest in buying. You can remarket to users
through a variety of platforms including Google’s advertising network and Facebook
( m or e on t hi s t op i c b e l ow ) . Here is an example of an ad that was remarketed to me
( R i t i ka) via Facebook — I’ve been shopping around for the perfect laptop bag.

Target your advertisements to audiences at the country, state, city, or metropolitan
area level.

Connect with audiences based on their browsing activity/shopping behavior/interests.

Target advertisements to users
based on past purchase activity.


message/landing page. Quality scores are especially important for Google. Higher
quality scores can result in lower CPCs . Advertisers are
incentivized to show high quality ads.

Costs per click (C P C s) will frequently decrease with higher ad CTRs. In online auc-
tion models, the highest CPC bidders will not always win.
Targeting capabilities and features typically vary by ad network, but these concepts
are fairly standard.
Keyword match types control which searches or terms initiate your ad. This concept
relates to precision.

For instance, you can use broad match to show your ad to a wide audience, phrase
match to ensure that your ad is part of a searched expression, or exact match for the
most rigid possible precision. Negative match lets you pick keywords and expressions
that you don’t want to align with ( f or i nst anc e , y ou r c om p e t i t or ’ s b r and e d ke y w or d s. )

Match types are most relevant to search engine marketing but frequently apply to
other text-based marketing channels.


Choosing the right ad network is an important strategic decision. You should base
your decision on the following criteria:


How will this ad network help you reach the right audience with the right adver-
tising message at the right time?

Do you care more about demographic targeting, interest-based targeting, or both?

Do you care more about reaching a B2B or consumer-facing audience?

Do you care about reaching a certain demographic or cross section of the internet,
or are you trying to reach general consumers?

Here are example targeting options that are available on Facebook:

Here are some example ad targeting options on LinkedIn:


How well does the ad network align with certain user experiences?

For instance…

Search advertising through Google AdWords and Bing can help you reach con-
sumers based on keywords they’re researching online.

Facebook advertising allows marketers to show display ads that drive awareness
about new businesses, services, or products.

LinkedIn advertising allows marketers to target professionals (b y i nt e r e st or j ob

t i t l e ) when they’re browsing through feeds, job listings, or groups.

Are the ad formats likely to inspire user engagement?

Do available ad formats give your marketing team the ability to tell its story in a
clear and compelling way?

Do available ad formats align with your brand’s needs?

Unattractive ads will generate a negative user experience, costing you time and
money. Don’t jump into an ad network because you feel like “e v e r y one ’ s d oi ng i t . ”
Choose ad products and features that create the best user experience possible.

4. A d N etw ork R ep u tation

Low CPCs are frequently too good to be true, coming from click farms, spambots,
and shady user experiences.

Make sure that you’re reaching real people and delighting them with a positive
user experience. ‘ ’ is usually too good to be true. Make sure that
ble testimonials and reviews.
Here is an ad network review that was recently featured on QuickSprout:

In 2012, I (Neil) launched a landing page on It was incomplete but
still converted at 3.7%, which means that 37 out of 1,000 visitors completed the
lead gen form.

through the HelloBar featured on the top of the site. I wasn’t happy with the lev-
tising sources — LinkedIn, Google AdWords, Retargeter, Perfect Audience, and
StumbleUpon Ads.

My budget was $66,37.09, to be exact.


sion rate at 1.6%. It also provided the highest quality of leads.

The volume was extremely low, but I was paying $4.76 a click, which was expensive.

Lesson Learned:

LinkedIn can drive high quality leads for a B2B company, but it is expensive. Do

Google AdWords:

$5.62 per click, and the conversion rate to a lead was 6.55%. Volume wasn’t the is-
sue with Google, but lead quality form LinkedIn was literally 15 to 20 times better.

Google is typically a great advertising channel for both B2B and B2C companies,


I used Retargeter to remarket to QuickSprout readers and get them over to

were around 0.2% and visitors converted into leads at a 5.05% conversion rate.

In this case, Retargeter worked well because:

1. QuickSprout receives well over 100,000 unique visitors each month (which
means there is a big enough pool to remarket to).

2. Those visitors are likely to promote because I’ve already built trust with them
through my blog.

3. Retargeter is continuously optimizing ads on their end from geo-targeting, to

selecting which ads to display based on click-through rates, and day parting.
This ad network partner kept CPM costs as low as possible.
served to new people. Click-through rates dropped well below half. Due to this, you
need to keep creating new ad designs (on a weekly basis). This strategy will keep
click-through rates high.

Perfect Audience:

cialize in Facebook remarketing. Retargeter can also remarket on Facebook, but
CPMs on Perfect Audience are extremely competitive.

Perfect audience ran around 33 cents per click, with a click-through rate of 0.16%.
A visitor converted into a lead at 3.58%. The quality of leads weren’t as strong as
LinkedIn, but they were good.

The bigg ads

will decrease over time unless you continuously rotate your creative.


tors to my landing page at $0.05 per visitor.

didn’t convert too well. The conversion rate was only $0.05, and the leads were

to your content, not to paid products.

Choosing the right ad network is an important strategic decision. You should base
your decision onKNOW WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD
the following criteria: —

Start with your user value and work backwards:

1. On average, how much does your business earn, per user, through CPC

2. What type of margin are you hoping to make?

A common mistake that marketers make is working with in-session ROI data. This
is the wrong approach. You need to look at your customers’ lifetime values in tan-

over the course of three years. You can hypothetically spend up to $4,999 on mar-
keting in the short run.

Granted, you wouldn’t want to spend that much money to acquire a customer. You
should focus on establishing a happy medium, in between the maximum and mini-
mum. If you increase your PPC spend to $1,000, you may realize that you’re able to
get 5x more customers compared to spending $500. In the short run, you may not

You shouldn’t optimize your marketing campaigns for in-session revenue. Instead,
you should ideally be optimizing them using lifetime value metrics as that will allow

equation. You need

c acquisition.

A/B testing isn’t optional. You need to include it in your marketing plan. If you
can double or triple your conversion rate, your customer acquisition costs will
decrease dramatically.

So what? What matters most is the ROI you’re driving and how you’re monetiz-
ing your marketing spend.


If your paid channel advertising strategy is doing its job, your budget shouldn’t mat-
ter. Every dollar you invest should generate a margin-positive return.

Focus on optimizing your ROI, not how much you’re spending on a daily or monthly
basis. Once you feel more comfortable with your marketing spend and you are able
to track a positive return, you can grow your budget.

Start your spend low, and scale up.


tion is an extremely viable marketing channel. Don’t let costs

scare you away.

Focus on generating ROI based on your long-term user acquisition value instead
of in-session revenue.

There is no one-siz
choose the right marketing channels for you.

better if you can earn viable business.

Start with small tests and scale up as you get more comfortable.

a budget.





If you’re like me, the first thing you do when you wake up is grab your
phone and check your email. I go through and delete all the unimportant
emails so that when I get into the office, a fresh inbox awaits. However,
when I see a subject that catches my eye, I typically read that email right
away. That’s the power of email.

STEVE P. YOUNG, via Unbounce

Think about it. When you send an email, you reach your audience in one of the most
personalized ways possible. Our email inboxes are literally in the palms of our hands.

bed. It’s an understatement to say that email is a powerful marketing channel.

The problem is, we’re also bombarded with spam. Take a look at your
email inbox right now. Does it make you want to tear your hair out?
Finding a great brand email can feel like a diamond in the rough.
YEven with
ou ’ re all the
l iteral l yjunk
l ook out
in g there,
f or aemail marketing
u n icorn still has
. But they’re ROI.
According to an Econsultancy study, two-thirds of marketers rate the
The problem is, we’re also bombarded with spam. Take a look at your
email inbox right now. Does it make you want to tear your hair out?
Finding a great brand email can feel like a diamond in the rough.
Y ou ’ re l iteral l y l ook in g f or a u n icorn . But they’re there.

Even with all the junk out there, email marketing still has ROI.
According to an Econsultancy study, two-thirds of marketers rate the
ROI from email marketing as ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’ Harvard Business
Review did an analysis with one detailer and discovered that the dol-
lars earned per email sent was around $15.79 for sales generated in
store and online.

out there. The marketers who come out on top will focus on three core concepts:

C on ten t. R el ev an cy. V al u e.


As marketing director at SmartShoot, a marketplace for photographers and

He found that subject lines are mission-critical for driving cold recruitment.

Using the subject line “Y ou r A M A Z I NG p hot os,” he generated a 70% open

rate along with a 25% conversion rate. Because it was a cold email, he
made sure to tell recipients where he found these photos, along with an
introductory email to the company that he was representing.

The subject line shows that flattery is a great way to get your recipient’s
attention. However, you want to make sure that you are not baiting your
recipients and then trying to sell your services.

STEVE P. YOUNG, via Unbounce

A re w e b orin g you ?
As Steve P. Young points out, a similar subject line used by Sperry Van Ness. Their
email open rates were around 30%, which is above the industry average. The com-
pany believed that it was the same subscribers opening emails, over and over.

To clean their list, the company drafted an email with the subject line, “Were we
boring you.”

The opening paragraph included a message about how many subscribers were open-
ing the newsletter and how many weren’t. Sperry Van Ness asked subscribers if they
wanted to stay on the list or if they wanted to opt out. The open rate for this email
jumped to 50%, and the company received fewer unsubscribe requests than they
thought they would. People actually apologized for not being more involved.

Lessons learned:

Questions in subject lines are a great way to build a rapport/inspire a connection

Be matter-of-fact and upfront

Inspire dialogue from the get-go

I (Neil) recently blogged about how powerful email marketing can be when starting
a business. If I want to launch a business and make money fast, all I have to do is
leverage my connections and my brand. Within days, I can easily get thousands of
visitors to any website and generate thousands of dollars in revenue.

That’s how I helped my buddy launch a product. He was able to generate $100,000
in income within 30 days.

cash, so I couldn’t spend money on marketing. When I told people I had a company,
they’d try to avoid me. Nobody wants to hear a sales pitch.

My solution was to use email. I cold-pitched millionaires. Here’s what I did:

1. Selling to people doesn’t always work, especially if you don’t have a track record.
I decided I was going to tell people how they were screwing up their marketing.
I told them everything that they were doing wrong. I made the assumption that

wrong and would hire me instead.

2. Some of these emails generated responses, which evolved into phone calls. And
2. Some of these emails generated responses, which evolved into phone calls. And
some of those phone calls became high-paying consulting gigs. This is how I was
able to work with people like Pete Cashmore, Michael Arrington, Guy Kawasaki,
Gary Vaynerchuck, and others.

1. D on ’ t g iv e u p . When you col d p itch p rosp ects, rej ection s are b ou n d to
hap p en . C on tin u al l y f ol l ow u p u n til you g et a resp on se. It took me 6
mon ths to g et M ichael A rrin g ton to hire me.

2. B e thorou g h. T he more that you can show real ex amp l es an d sol u tion s to
you r p rosp ects’ p rob l ems, the more credib l e you ’ l l ap p ear as a resou rce.

3. D on ’ t b e af raid to n ame drop p rev iou s cl ien ts an d con n ection s that

you hav e in common .

4. B e resp ectf u l . Sometimes p eop l e w il l ig n ore you , an d that’ s ok ay.

E v en if you p ersist, they’ l l stil l ig n ore you , an d that’ s ok . J u st mov e on ,
an d don ’ t f eel b ad ab ou t it. It’ s their l oss, n ot you rs.

ly to your end recipient. Make them care.

Imagine sending tens of thousands of individualized emails to your marketing list.

You probably can’t because it’s impossible.

That’s the beauty of marketing automation software. Send emails to the right users
(a nd c u st om e r / p r osp e c t se g m e nt s) at just the right time in the purchase cycle. It’s a
sophisticated way to scale personal attention.

The key to successful marketing automation is technology. Rely on tools (r at he r t han

sp r e ad she e t ) to reach your email list successfully. The biggest players in the space






The great promise of marketing automation has always been that it enables
you to trigger messages based on a visitors actions on your site, ideally
sending messages when they are most relevant, rather than spam.



inboxes. Your deliverability statistics may be strong, but your emails are getting ig-
nored for reasons outside of your control. You need to build a connection with your
audience before you start sending them emails. Implement an opt-in process — a
series of steps that subscribers can take to ensure that they’re receiving your emails.
Perhaps include a freebie, piece of content, or promotion/deal that they’ll receive in
exchange. Don’t just bombard your customers with emails. Make sure that they’re
set up (a nd w i l l i ng ) to read what you have to say.

Here is Noah Kagan’s approach — if you want his free growth hackers tips presenta-
tion, you need to subscribe .
Here is Noah Kagan’s approach — if you want his free growth hackers tips presenta-
tion, you need to subscribe .


Email should not be a standalone marketing channel. Make sure you’re integrating
all of your marketing campaigns. If you launch a blog, for instance, make sure to
concurrently build your email list. Every time you publish a new blog post, notify
your subscribers via email. This chain of events will keep audiences coming back to
your website.

On QuickSprout, audiences have a few ways to become email subscribers:

plicated, graphics-heavy newsletter. It’s just a regular email — a quick way of bal-
ancing marketing automation with 1:1 personalization.


An understanding of user psychology is successful for successful email marketing
(a nd au t om at i on e sp e c i al l y ). You need to make sure that you’re targeting customers
and prospects with messaging that complements their needs and intent.

Always create a plan or outline for your email marketing campaigns — make sure
that your messages follow a system or schedule.

ing, and what steps should users take after each message?

pects to complete the demo. A secondary goal of the demo is for prospects to reach
out for a free trial. The second email is to nurture the relationship and promote user
engagement. Readers are directed to the blog.

Here is another example from Clarity, a marketplace that connects advice seekers
with consultants and subject matter experts. You can use the platform to book ex-
perts for a call.

Recently, I ( R i t i ka) wanted to book a call with Poornima Vijayashanker, founding en-
gineer at and founder at BizeeBee, a membership management platform for
I started the process of booking a 15-minute call with her, but then I got lazy and
didn’t complete the transaction. In Clarity’s view, that is a lost opportunity. So they
kept up with me through some awesome marketing automation. They probably
thought that I got lazy and then forgot about booking the call (w hi c h w as t he c ase —
g ood t hi nki ng , C l ar i t y ! )

So what happened? I booked the call. That’s a conversion event valued at close to $70!


As we’ve mentioned in previous chapters, you need to do more than just get ‘em to
your site. You need to specify a clear conversion goal from your email marketing
automation. You also need to ensure that your landing pages are fully optimized for
the actions you want users to take.

Here is a case study from Todd Staples, founder at Stealth Auto and Strategic
Marketing Pros:
Here is a case study from Todd Staples, founder at Stealth Auto and Strategic
Marketing Pros:

Objective: Stealth Auto wanted to increase the number of people who add prod-
ucts to their carts and then successfully checkout.

Steps Taken: They started an experiment for our returning visitors and then test-

Hypothesis 1: As the test was limited to returning visitors, there was no need to dis-

Therefore they thought about removing those from our product pages.

Also, they replaced Order Now button with View my Pricing.

The basic idea was to handle FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubts) here. Although
Order Now is a typical and standard button to continue with Sales funnels , it might
confuse visitors because there is no pricing available on the product page.

They still have to select product options to see the actual pricing. So, View my pric-
ing sounds better option in there. They also replaced “Satisfaction Guaranteed! “
with Click below to show Pricing.

Hypothesis 2: They made the button even more meaningful with View Options
and Pricing.

Outcome: Variation 2 outperformed Control and Variation 1.

What does this case study have to do with the body of Stealth Auto’s corresponding
email campaign? Nothing. Email was a means to an end goal of an on-site conver-
sion event.


Deliverability is important to email marketing. Make sure you’re taking all possible
steps to reach your audience’s inbox. Here are some clear steps to take:
Avoid the following list of words in your email messaging. They’re
spam triggers:

Here are some examples from

$$$ Cost


Bargain Credit bureaus


Best price Earn

Big bucks Easy terms

Cash Free

Compare rates
Here are some examples from e-commerce:

As seen on Order

Buy Order status

Buy direct Orders shipped by

Buying judgments Shopper

Don’t use the color red.

Don’t use misleading subject lines.

(don’t leave them blank), and ensure that the subject
matches the email body.

Avoid capital letters

within your email and in the subject lines.

Be smart about symbols.

If you use too many, your emails will look totally spammy.

Don’t link too much.

Limit your links to 3, max.

Include unsubscribe links.

This is required, by law.

Be thorough yet to the point.

Make sure you include a straightforward reply to and from email address so that
subscribers can get in touch with you.
Choose the right service provider.
Some have better deliverability rates by industry. When talking with companies
like Marketo and InfusionSoft, make sure to ask about their deliverability rates in
your industry.
Here are QuickSprout’s deliverability rates with InfusionSoft.

And here they are with SendGrid combined with Ongage:


The FTC rigorously enforces laws email compliance. Make sure that your strat-
egy is aligned with the CAN-SPAM Act so that you’re not exposed to potential
lawsuits. Here are the rules that businesses must follow:

1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “F r om ,” “To,” “R e p l y -

To, ” and routing information — including the originating domain name and
email address — must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated
the message.

content of the message.

3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but
you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.

4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physi-

registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a
commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.

5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message
must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt
out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy
for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type
size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or an-
other easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to
you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of
messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from

to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You
must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge
a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information be-
yond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a
reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honor-
ing an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more
messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the
form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a
company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.

7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if
you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract
away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose
product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the
message may be held legally responsible.

There are two types of email marketing metrics: (1) engagement and (2) conver-
sions/monetary analysis. A healthy marketing strategy should focus on both:

Total Opens: This is the total number of times an email in a campaign is opened.
This is usually a count of the total number of times an invisible pixel is opened.

Total Open Rate: This is calculated by taking the total number of email opens
and dividing them by the number of delivered emails.

Unique Opens: This is similar total opens but is limited to unique viewers (i.e.
only one open per person is counted).

Total Clicks: This measures clicks generated from each campaign. You should in-
clude your unsubscribe rate from this metric.

Total Click-Through Rate (CTR): Divide the total number of clicks by the num-
ber of delivered emails.

Unique Clicks: This will tell you how many unique people clicked on at least one
link in the email.

Click -to-Open Rate: -

Conversions, Conversion Rates, and Revenue: These are metrics that you
should be tracking across your marketing channels.

Personalization is the foundation of your email marketing strategy.

Rely on software through marketing automation to scale your 1:1 relationships.

Do your due diligence to ensure you choose the right marketing automation soft-
ware for your company and industry.

Focus on the entire user experience, and guide email subscribers towards conver-
sion-focused goals.

Know federal spam laws so that your email marketing campaigns are fully


Remember that your audience is reading emails from a variety of devices. They’re
not necessarily behind a computer screen.





While there are currently tens of millions of blogs worldwide, close to 60

million powered by WordPress alone, many bloggers are not yet monetizing
their sites. If you're one of these bloggers, a good place to start is with af-
filiate marketing: directing readers to a product or service in exchange for a
commission on the sale (or other action) when it occurs.

LEYL MASTER BLACK, via American Express OPEN Forum

the next level.

Let’s say that you’re running a company that specializes in shoes. Your
customer base knows that you’re a shoe expert but also values your input
on other high quality products — like handbags. Maybe your customers

same options over and over again. As a shoe vendor, you’re acting as a
marketer for the handbag company.

Company A Directs Customer to Company B Transaction Occurs

Company A will earn a commission from the transaction on company B

time that Amazon launched its Associates Program (w hi c h st i l l e x i st s).


telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation.

proportion follow cost-per-action. CPC and CPM payment methods are much more

p u b l i she r s”
or “ad v e r t i se r s/ m e r c hant s.

mutually exclusive roles.

er/merchant, and is the publisher:
they can begin to earn higher commission rates.

entirely based on “p ay p e r p e r f or m anc e . ” In other words, advertisers pay for incre-

mental sales, only.

Advertisers need to actively build their own sales and marketing arms. Publishers
are typically third parties and are independent entities.

Advertisers have limited ability to control publishers. If they don’t sell? Tough.
Publishers might be open to hearing an advertiser’s suggestions, but ultimately, the
two entities are independent from one another.


monetize by taking a portion of the commission.


Amazon Associates: Bloggers, large content sites, or large networks can choose
products to market directly to their customers.

Commission Junction: -

choose from pay-per-call, lead generation, and even international solutions.

Chase, Macy’s, Starbucks, and Sephora.


and revenue potential tends to be much higher, even though there are fewer
sales (t he r e ar e hi g he r d ol l ar - v al u e t r ansac t i ons) .

services that are of interest to its customer base.

Check out , for instance. She runs a blog about marketing,

inks to free guide and
whitepaper downloads as well as the opportunity to sign up for a conference.

(b u t y ou d on’ t w ant
t o se l l ) , check out RevResponse
resources to your readers. You’ll be paid between $1.50 and $20 per download. The
value to the advertiser is that they will be able to connect with your audience. If you
run a content marketing program, you can use this platform to reach audiences out-
side of your existing visitors.

To answer this question, you need to think about the following questions:

n etw ork ?

2. Who w ou l d b e p oten tial p u b l ishers?

3. What w ou l d you ex p ect the yiel d f rom these serv ices + p u b l ishers to b e?

Questions 1-3 will help you forecast your revenue potential. Is the market big
enough for you to pursue? If not, you should invest your limited time and resources
into higher yield marketing opportunities.

A n imp ortan t step is to g et ou t an d tal k to p rosp ectiv e p u b l ishers an d

b u sin ess p artn ers
the yield been in terms of performance? What are the typical revshares that ad net-
works are taking? What are typical conversion rates? What would be the incentive
for publishers and business partners to promote your products and services?

marketing in helping you meet your market demand.

marketing is right for you. Once you’ve come to an answer of “y e s,” you need to
make the following decision:

and services?

the company’s ability to deliver results?

from scratch? Do you have someone on your team to oversee this initiative by
forming relationships with publishers, handling disputes, troubleshooting techni-
cal problems, and making sure that payments are sent on time? Do the anticipat-
ed returns justify the invested time?

yourself these key questions:

1. Is this a viable revenue opportunity?


and representative) -

want to run these on the sidebar of your blog (like Heidi Cohen) or at the bottom of
a piece of content (if you’re a mom blogger like 3 Boys and a Dog. If you’re running a

of your website.


with you.

Around 2007, entrepreneur Mike Geary from The Truth about Abs joined Clickbank’s

This sounds crazy and over-the-top generous. It was. But here’s what happened.

website. Out of more than 10,000 products being sold on Clickbank, Mike’s product
shot up to being the top sold, which drove even more attention to his company.

According to Mike, his revenue is around $1M per month.

Here is a great case study from Practical Ecommerce and CrazyForBargains, a fami-
ly-owned retailer of high-quality sleepwear. The company has been around for more
than 10 years — Melissa Canepa Murphy launched their e-business in 2002.

2012, the company still relies on search engines, but they have developed additional
(h e al t hy ) revenue streams.

nue. She hopes that she will be able to grow that number to 20 percent. What she

paying for ad placements and hoping that they work, she pays a 12 percent commis-
sion on actual sales generated. The program tracks sales based on a 365-day cookie,

one year of the initial referral.

that this process was a major time sink — she had to take the time to constantly

payment systems
he l p se l l he r p r od u c t s) .

gram — she pays him between $2,500 and $5,000 per month. The variance de-
pends on whether or not there are performance incentives in place and whether or
not there is a need for additional services like design and development.

Interpersonal relationships have been crucial to the success of Murphy’s pro-

open. She’ll also adjust her product mix and merchandising to increase conver-

Participate in forums

Purchase PPC advertising

Attend marketing conferences

Remember that there’s a person on the other side of the computer screen. Form
ates over the phone. Strategize together.


Groupon for $5 billion dollars.

ompany since Google.

What sparked this growth? Two words:

works that took huge cuts from the revenues generated. Instead, Groupon focused
works that took huge cuts from the revenues generated. Instead, Groupon focused

to social media, you don’t need to be a publisher to have a following -- you can pro-

you should learn about building your own.


1. R each ou t to b l og g ers: Approach individual bloggers who are aligned with

and have a strong connection with your audience.

2. Hunt down mid-to-small range so-

cial media enthusiasts who may be interested in joining your program.

1. Look at your current audience

readers, email subscribers, and social media followers. Some of

these folks are current, previous, or future customers.


You need to actively recruit them by hunting down bloggers and website owners who
could promote your product or service. Also look for publishers with email lists.

ing in a third party’s. When you’re getting started, do a bit of both.


so that you’re

relationships with bloggers.

4. Announce the program

and relevant forums.

5. Measure results

If you want to grow something, you need to measure it. Use your analytics tools to

Unlike most marketing channels, you only pay per transaction -

ing. In other words, you only spend money when you make money. This strategy is
important for small businesses that have limited resources to spend on advertising.

rely on your social media channels, entirely.

Make the process as seamless as possible.

towards a common goal — to amplify sales for your product.




You’ve seen the emails — a company is guaranteeing that you can rank on
the first page of Google for a small monthly fee. Sounds too good to be
true! It’s because it is.


SEO is less complex than marketers make it sound. We p romise.

been around since the earliest days of the internet, and the goal has always been the
same — to rank as high on search engine results pages (S E R P s) as possible.

As you could imagine, the competition in this space became very cutthroat, as more
and more companies realized how important it was to rank for certain keywords.

And this pressure pushed people to do some real shady marketing — buying links,

In February 2011, Google reached their breaking point, and released P an da — the
Almost overnight, “t hi n” or “shad y ” sites folded. Chaos ensued as multi-million dol-

And the sites that came out on top?

These were the Wikipedias of the world that focused on building a genuine and healthy
user experience. T rick s an d tactics l ost, w hil e rel ev an cy an d q u al ity w on .

Which brings us to the most important lesson of SEO:

User experience is everything.

So here we are in a day and age where Google and Bing have put total power in the
hands of consumers. User experience dominates the search engine market. SEO and
strong marketing go hand in hand.

Search engines are constantly monitoring your website for key user experience
cues. As much as your website, marketing, products, and services need to support a
strong user experience, you need to make sure that your strengths translate into a
language that search engines can fully understand.


SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to in-

crease the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There
are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other
sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making
sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.

MOZ, via The Beginner’s Guide to SEO

It may sound counterintuitive, but focusing on SEO means more than just analyzing
search engine technology.

SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to in-

crease the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There
are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other
sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making
sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.

MOZ, via The Beginner’s Guide to SEO

It may sound counterintuitive, but focusing on SEO means more than just analyzing
search engine technology.

J u st thin k ab ou t it.

Search engines are designed to connect people with valuable information — imme-
diately, when they want it. Quality and relevancy are crucial here, and Google’s goal
is to ensure that the best possible websites are the ones that come out on top. It’s
why we keep going back to platforms like Google and Bing — because we trust them.

for algorithmic signals that are indicative of a strong user experience.

You can’t fake it. To be quite blunt, search en g in es

are g ettin g smarter an d smarter. Be genuine.
Spending money to trick a search engine ( b u y i ng l i nks,
ke y w or d st u f f i ng , l i nk w he e l s, e t c ) will just be a waste.
Focus on building a quality user experience instead.

Step 1 of any SEO strategy is to understand what not to do. ‘B l ac k hat ’ is a term
that marketers have used for years to describe shady SEO practices. These are
techniques designed with the sole intent to manipulate search engines (G oog l e
and B i ng ) to rank a business by spamming the Internet.

the majority of instances, there is no bouncing back.

O n ce hit w ith a p en al ty, here’ s w hat hap p en s:

A f ast d e c l i ne i n sal e s

A ne e d t o r e b u i l d y ou r S E O p r og r am f r om t he g r ou nd u p

I know of one particular company that was hit with a Panda/Penguin

Penalty due to a lot of low quality inbound links.
This e-commerce business went from making $1 million in revenue per
month to making about $10,000 per month from repeat customers — on a
good month.
The owner was faced with having to let go many long-time members of his
staff while simultaneously trying to get the penalty removed AND working
on a new (non-black hat) SEO strategy.

CHRIS KILBOURN, CEO at TOFU Marketing (via his blog)

Whatev er you do, av oid the f ol l ow in g at al l costs:

P r om i se s f or a g u ar ant e e d nu m b e r of l i nks

R e l y i ng on t he u se of soc i al b ookm ar ki ng , d i r e c t or y su b m i ssi ons, ar t i c l e sp i n-

ni ng , and g u e st p ost i ng v i a c ont e nt f ar m s

P r om i se s t hat y ou ’ l l r ank at a c e r t ai n nu m b e r w i t hi n a c e r t ai n t i m e f r am e

C r e at i on of f ake soc i al m e d i a ac c ou nt s

P r i c i ng l e ss t han $ 1 , 0 0 0 p e r m ont h

E x p l ai ni ng t hat y ou r l i nks w i l l b e d e l e t e d i f y ou t e r m i nat e t he r e l at i onshi p

If it sou n ds too g ood to b e tru e, it p rob ab l y is.


Let’s say that you’ve accidentally hired a black hat SEO company. D on ’ t f reak ou t.

most important tips:

1. Put together a list of all inbound links (u se a t ool l i ke O p e n S i t e E x p l or e r or

L i nkD e t ox . c om ).

2. Remove links from low PR sites (m any t i m e s y ou w i l l hav e t o si m p l y ask t he w e b -

m ast e r t o r e m ov e t he l i nk and hop e f or a p osi t i v e r e sp onse ).

3. If you can’t get the bad links removed, use the Google Disavow tool (t hi s i s a l ast
r e sor t op t i on — G oog l e d oe sn’ t l i ke y ou t o ov e r u se i t ).

4. Start building up good high quality content on your website via a blog and your

5. Put together a proper content marketing and/or public relations campaign that
will help you EARN high quality inbound links.

If you’ve already been penalized (or su sp e c t t hat y ou hav e — y ou w on’ t ne c e ssar i l y

r e c e i v e an al e r t or r e al i z e t hat som e t hi ng i s w r ong ), you’ll need to submit a reconsid-
eration request with Google. Only submit your reconsideration request after you’ve
taken corrective steps. Google has no problem clicking ‘no’ if they feel that your ef-
forts haven’t been enough. One forecast from Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz
says that Google receives nearly 5,000 reconsideration requests per week.

Your request needs to really stand out. Be sure to provide supporting evidence for

Doc (r at he r t han an at t ac hm e nt or r and om l i nk).

You submit your reconsideration request via Google Webmaster Tools, a resource
that provides detailed reports about your webpages’ visibility on Google.

I m ag e sou r c e : W e b not s

the following mission-critical detail:

SEO is based entirely on keywords.

Think about it from a user experience standpoint. The value of search engines is


The team responsible for SEO at Google is the search quality team, a group estab-
lished more than 5 years ago to ensure the best possible user experience. The goal
of this team is ensure that key signals of quality websites align with what’s shown
on search engine results pages.


Google incorporates a manual and algorithmic approach to reviewing webpages.

This two-fold approach is designed to ensure that quality always triumphs.

It’s an understatement to say that the process of indexing the web is challenging.
It’s impossible to do manually. That’s why Google has invested heavily in creating
an algorithm that factors “human variables.” But at the end of the day machines are
machines. They’re not equipped to handle ambiguous scenarios

Here’s an example situation that is likely to need a human eye:

Let’s say your website starts producing hundreds of thousands of pages overnight.
From the eyes of an algorithm, this looks totally suspicious — as though you’re
producing thin spam pages for the sake of having more content. Not cool.

But what if there’s a totally legitimate reason? Say that you’re an e-commerce
mastermind, for instance, and you’ve needed to tear down and relaunch all of
your product pages on a new website.

This is a situation where Google’s manual reviews would need to jump in.

The above discussion brings us to the most important principle of SEO. Don’t worry
about chasing the algorithm. Focus on appeasing humans, and you will come out on
top. Here’s why:

Through a series of updates (ni c knam e d P and a and P e ng u i n) Google has made ag-
gressive leaps forward in ensuring quality.

Google’s algorithm is always changing. That’s why it’s completely pointless to try to
reverse engineer it:


2. The se al g or i t hm s ar e al w ay s c hang i ng and i m p r ov i ng

Even if you devote your life to reverse engineering Google’s algorithm, you’ll just be
wasting your time. Instead, you need to focus on the following:


2. The c om m u ni c at i on m e c hani sm s t hat t r ansl at e t hi s i nf or m at i on b ac k t o se ar c h e ng i ne s

T hese in cl u de:

Indications of quality subject matter expertise (b ac kl i nks, c ont e nt d e p t h, soc i al m e -

d i a si g nal s, i nt e r nal l i nki ng st r u c t u r e )

Strong user experience (shor t p ag e l oad t i m e s, si t e m ap s, or i g i nal c ont e nt )

Authority (b ac kl i nks, l ong e v i t y , si t e ag e )

For those getting started to SEO, SearchEngineLand’s Periodic Table of SEO
Elements is a great guide to quickly navigate the landscape. Here are the core com-
ponents of SEO:

Sitemaps are a way to tell search engines about webpages on your site that are oth-
erwise hard to discover.

A Sitemap is a list of pages on your website. This tool will help ensure that search
engines know about all the webpages on your site.

You can submit a sitemap through Webmaster Tools (d e sc r i b e d l at e r i n t hi s c hap t e r ) .

Sitemap s are esp ecial l y imp ortan t if :

Y ou r si t e has d y nam i c c ont e nt

Y ou r si t e has p ag e s t hat ar e n’ t e asi l y d i sc ov e r e d b y b ot s d u r i ng r ou t i ne c r aw l s

(f or i nst anc e , p ag e s w i t h r i c h A J A X or i m ag e s)

Y ou r si t e i s ne w and has f e w l i nks t o i t (b ot s c r aw l t he w e b b y f ol l ow i ng l i nks f r om

one p ag e t o anot he r . I f y ou r si t e i sn’ t w e l l l i nke d , i t m ay b e hi d d e n)

Y ou r si t e has a l ar g e ar c hi v e of c ont e nt p ag e s t hat ar e n’ t w e l l - l i nke d t o one anot he r .

Search engines don’t guarantee that they’ll index all of your pages, but they’ll use
the data in your Sitemap to learn more about your website. This is important to
making sure that search engines always do the best job possible when reading your
website’s content. To get started, follow standard Sitemaps protocol here.

You can also create your Sitemaps manually via RSS feeds that update with new
(t hat y ou w i l l ne e d t o u p d at e on y ou r ow n).

forget this fact and focus exclusively on Google.

For the most part, this strategy can work. Even though the two com-

goal. User experience.

Your user experience strategy for the two search engines should be the same in the
sense that you shouldn’t let search engines dictate what you do.

What you need to do is be smart about how the two search engines are processing
information from your website. Make sure that you do a technical audit of your
website for both.

Both Google and Bing have Webmaster Tools platforms. As we mentioned earlier,
this is a resource that can help you see how search engines are reading your website.
Make accounts with Google and Bing. Keep in mind that Webmaster Tools is neces-


Te l l se ar c h e ng i ne s t o i nd e x y ou r w e b si t e

E v al u at e y ou r i nt e r nal l i nks

S e e t he b ac kl i nks t o t he w e b si t e

C om m u ni c at e w i t h t he G oog l e S e ar c h Q u al i t y Te am

I d e nt i f y c r aw l e r r or s t hat ar e i m p ac t i ng y ou r ab i l i t y t o show u p i n se ar c h

Before you start thinking about metadata, site load times, and sitemaps, fo-
cus on the big picture — the mechanism you’ll use to engage your audience.

As Femgineer founder Poornima Vijayashanker once told me (R i t i ka) : your

big idea (n ot S E O ) should move you forward. You can always hire someone
to clean up “t he m e ss” you leave behind. 3:20

SEO is a discipline where art meets science. Content marketing is the tech-
nique to leverage, and here’s why:

Y ou ’ l l c r e at e a w e al t h of b r and e d c ont e nt

Y ou ’ l l i nc r e ase y ou r c hanc e s of r e c e i v i ng b ac kl i nks f r om p ar t ne r si t e s

ac t i v e d i sc u ssi on p ar t i c i p ant

Keep in mind that content marketing is NOT SEO. It’s a separate marketing initia-
tive that (w he n e x e c u t e d c or r e c t l y )


1. Create an infographic each week (a r ou nd $ 1 , 0 0 0 p e r i nf og r ap hi c )

2. Write 2 detailed blog posts per week that are at least 1,000 words (u p t o $ 3 0 0 /
p ost i f y ou ou t sou r c e t he w or k t o a w r i t e r )

3. Create a detailed guide every quarter (u p t o $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 i f y ou ou t sou r c e t he w or k t o a

w r i t e r or su b j e c t m at t e r e x p e r t )

Some additional steps to follow to sync up your content marketing with SEO —
courtesy of Alex Chris from the Quicksprout forums:

1. Create — amazing quality — lengthy content

2. Maintain a consistent publishing schedule at 2-3 times per week

3. Know which keywords you’re targeting — pick 3 primary and a list of less-com-
petitive terms


5. Make sure that your pages load quickly

6. Integrate your content marketing with your social strategy (t o p u sh d i st r i b u t i on)

7. Make sure that you maintain a good internal linking system to connect content
on your website
Traffic growth on the CrazyEgg Blog hass been on average 10 to 15 percent
eally picked up at the six month mark.
month over month, and subscriber growth really

RUSS HENNEBERRY, Former CrazyEgg Blog Editor via Interview with Ritika

Choose 3 core keywords for your blog categories. Then, identify a list
of secondary keywords that are slightly less competitive to support your
high-level effort.

HEATHER ANNE CARSON, Onboardly Co-Founder via Interview with Ritika


Here’s what you do when you’re just starting out.


Most SEO professionals will start with keyword research. Running a low-budget
PPC campaign will help you do just that. Instead of just seeing which terms people
are searching for, you’ll see which terms are converting.

You can always use tools like WordTracker -

ter, but very soon, you’ll realize that you need more revenue data. PPC campaigns
bridge that gap.

Follow the keyword research steps here, and start a PPC campaign using those key-
words and phrases. This test will help you understand the exact keywords that con-
vert visitors into paying customers.

erate a wealth of research

Once you know which keywords to target, you’re ready to start building links. Do not
( t he e x p r e ssi on t hat i s hy p e r l i nke d ) . This approach is actually quite
spammy. Focus instead, on directing links to highly relevant pieces of content.

term you’re after. The second should be from a website that ranks in the top 1,000.

Whatever you do, don’t be spammy. Make sure that the links are natural. Look for a

1. R each ou t to b l og g ers in you r area of f ocu s an d tel l them that you hav e
a resou rce w orth f eatu rin g .

2. If you n otice a b rok en l in k to a resou rce, l et the w eb site ow n er k n ow .

3. If you ’ v e l au n ched a n ew comp an y, ask b l og g ers to w rite ab ou t you r

p rodu cts an d serv ices.

Google has their eyes peeled for shady link-building tactics. Don’t force the connec-
tion. Be a helpful resource, and present the link as a secondary goal.


I (N e i l )
account. What the top-ranking websites have in common is that Facebook is one of
the top referral sources.

A strong Facebook presence can help generate viral exposure for your content.
These social signals indicate to search engines that you’re running a popular and
trusted website.


presence as a source for building exposure around your website. You’ll see a

internal team. Links from high-authority, reputable sites and media channels have
more weight than a mom & pop blog. If you’re limited on cash, you can hire a per-
formance-based agency like PR Serve.

Your PR agency should focus on the following:

Launches: Whenever you launch a new feature or service, make sure that the
PR agency gets you coverage.

News: If you have big news like a fundraising event, you’re likely to get coverage.

Guest posts:
prepared for most of these blogs to turn you down. Keep going until someone
gives you the green light.

Interviews: If you’re awesome, this should be easy. Come up with some interesting
data points and stories around what you’ve done, and you’ll likely build interest.

When link building, the priority is getting your brand out there. The links will hap-
pen naturally.


There’s lots of great content out there. Mediocre work has no place in this ecosys-

attention to you (they’re going to get what they need elsewhere).

Focus on answering the questions that your audience base is already asking.

A good place to start is Quora, a question and answer engine about any topic.
Answer a Quora question on your blog and then link to your post as a response on
the discussion thread.

Make sure that you actively promote your blog posts. Start small, and work your way

Stand apart from the competition by creating exceptionally unique content. There
are a lot of blogs out there. Invest your energy in writing guides (like this one!) in-
stead. This approach will help you stand out above the crowd.

We’ve said it before in this guide, and now the same message is back to haunt you.

Getting people to your website is only half the marketing equation. Make sure that
you focus on conversion optimization as well.

itor to your website will continue to rise as time passes. By optimizing your website
for conversions, you’ll develop a steady revenue stream.

Before you start your conversion optimization process, make sure to survey your
website visitors. This information will help you understand why visitors to your
website may not be buying.

This data will help you prioritize the changes that need to be made to your website,
and you can start to A/B test variations.


Google Plus and on page optimization are things you need to do no matter what.
They’re the bare bones.


The strategies we’ve walked you through are for universal search. But there are oth-
er markets that you can target.

If you’re running a brick-and-mortar or location-based business, you should op-

Reach mobile audiences.


The strategies we’ve walked you through are for universal search. But there are oth-
er markets that you can target.

If you’re running a brick-and-mortar or location-based business, you should op-

Reach mobile audiences.

This is an advanced topic that falls outside the scope of this beginner’s guide. It
is, however, a topic that will be extremely important to a subsection of our read-
ers. If you’re looking to implement a vertical-based SEO strategy, Chapter 9 of the
Advanced Guide to SEO will walk you through how.

SEO mentions.


your company.

Let’s look at CrazyEgg as an example.

If you’re interested in using the software, you may take some time to read reviews.

In 2012, CrazyEgg was able to generate more than $20K in sales from websites that
rank on page one for the terms “CrazyEgg review.”

I (Neil)
How can you grow your business through long-tail SEO? Follow these three steps:

What words are potential customers likely to be searching for? Look at Google
Suggest data. Just start typing in your company name into the Google search box.

Google will only show you a limited set of results, but there is a tool called
Suggester that will show you an expanded list.
Once you have this full list handy, it’s time to create your strategy.


Create landing pages on your website that are focused around each of the long-
tail keywords. If you don’t have the development resources to do this quickly, use
Unbounce. You can also use WordPress.

If you want people to come to the pages around long-tail keywords, here’s what you do:

G iv e aw ay a p rodu ct or serv ice to b l og g ers. If they like it, they’re likely to write
a review of your company’s products or service. Ask bloggers to incorporate no-follow
links so that search engines don’t think you’re trying to manipulate the system.

for instance.

C reate p ositiv e b u z z . Donate some of your proceeds to a social good organiza-

tion to create positive buzz around your brand.

In addition to creating landing pages that rank in SEO, you can run PPC campaigns
around the long-tail keywords that people are already searching for.


battle. You need to make sure that your website is built to sell with the right calls-
to-action, social proof, and easy-to-follow explainers about your product or service.
Explainer videos and case studies could also help.

SEO and user experience should always be aligned. Resist the temptation to en-
gage in anything that could seem remotely shady. If it seems too good to be true,
it probably is.

Prioritize Bing in addition to Google. The SEO community talks about Google a

Focus on the technical components of SEO in addition to the strategic compo-

nents. Think of SEO as a strategy for communicating information to search en-
gines. You’re marketing to search engines to tell them that you’re delivering the
highest quality resources for a certain keyword. Search engines like that.

Content marketing can do wonders for your company’s SEO. Create infographics,
blog posts, and guides that will wow your customers and prospects.

ly part of the SEO equation. Make sure that you focus on con-
version optimization as well.

Use budgets to regulate your spend. Don’t use budgets as a measurement

of efficiency. If your paid channel advertising efforts are truly efficient, you
won’t need a budget.




The right media coverage can be the tipping point for a new company,
opening up opportunities with investors as well as building loyalty with

JANE BOLAND, PR consultant via American Express OPEN Forum

You’ve launched an amazing product or service. Now what? Now, you need to get
the word out.

hiring a really awesome consultant.

vertising. For cost-conscious businesses, ROI is crucial. Every penny spent on mar-

take to form a successful strategy for your business:


The sad truth about PR is that existing process are broken. They’re outdated, costly,

M any ag e nc i e s ar e st i l l b u y i ng v e r y e x p e nsi v e ‘ m e d i a l i st s’ and b l ast i ng ou r

p r e ss r e l e ase s and p i t c he s t o hu nd r e d s of j ou r nal i st s at a t i m e .

I t ’ s har d f or t he P R i nd u st r y t o t r ac k and m e asu r e t he v al u e of w hat t he y d o.

P r e ss r e l e ase b l ast s e nt i r e l y m i ss t he m ar k on t ar g e t au d i e nc e s.

At Lean Startup Machine Weekend, part of my team's exercise was to in-

terview journalists about their experience with PR pitches. They all said
that 90 percent of the sometimes hundreds of pitches they get a day are
spam; totally irrelevant to what they write about.

JANE BOLAND, PR consultant via American Express OPEN Forum

To succeed with PR, you need to focus less on the appeal of an agency and focus
more heavily to focus on results. Prioritize what you want to achieve, not outdated
‘b e st p r ac t i c e s.’ If you want to get in front of journalists, for instance, you are likely


A press release is worthwhile if your announcement is over-the-top catchy and
newsworthy. But here’s the thing — most press releases read like giant sales pitches.
If you think that journalists and publishers are going to be attracted to lukewarm

100s of spam messages again.

We hate to say it but marketers — get your head out of the clouds. The world does
not revolve around your business, and journalists could care less about what you
have to say.

vating a unique and thoughtful pitch in your area of specialty. A press release won’t
cut it. Position your organization as a valuable, reliable, and trustworthy source of
information instead.
The problem with PR is ‘sp r ay and p r e y ’ or ‘b r oad c ast ’ mentality. If you shout at
journalists with a megaphone, they’re not going to listen.

Above all, journalists care about compelling stories. They want to hear about your
founders’ emotional journeys. They want to know what problem your company is
solving and what motivates your team to wake up and come to work in the mornings.

Treat journalists like trusted business partners, not eyeballs. Develop a conversa-
tion. Let them ask questions.

Know your 2-4 stories in and out. Hustle hard for the small, one-off men-
tions. These usually come as a result of work done on the business devel-
opment and partnerships side of things.

HEATHER ANNE CARSON, PR expert & co-founder at Onboardly


Every so often, you’ll come across startups that generate insane

amounts of traction on almost zero budget. You might think
that it’s the outcome of luck — most likely, that isn’t the case.
The more likely scenario is careful, strategic planning. WIth on-
line media, Hollywood success stories are few and far between.
Behind the scenes, marketers are hard at work — building key
relationships with key stakeholders.

Let’s jump back to an example we featured in Chapter 4. Karen X Cheng founded , a

platform that helps users learn anything in a year (c ool v al u e p r op osi t i on, r i g ht ? )
Karen learned to dance in a year and videotaped her entire journey. The outcome
was an amazing video that went viral on YouTube. In just a few short months, her
video has amassed millions of views. She makes the experience of learning to dance
look seamlessly easy. She makes the process of making a viral video look pretty darn
easy too.

That’s how you know that she put some real muscle behind the process.

I did a ton of marketing, and it started long before the video was released.
Going viral was not an accident — it was work.

HEATHER ANNE CARSON, PR expert & co-founder at Onboardly

1. F irst, she p osted her v ideo to F aceb ook an d T w itter, as w el l as social

n ew s sites l ik e R eddit an d H ack er N ew s. She asked her friends to share the
it and tweeted it to established bloggers. She also reached to bloggers who had
previously written about viral dance video. Of the channels she pursued, Reddit
was the top performer. The video gained attention and made its way to the top of
the GetMotivated subreddit page. After day 1, she received 80K views.
2. Day 2 was discovery day. The bloggers who had seen her video previously

3. The video’s popularity pushed Karen to the YouTube homepage. That

chain of events helped take Karen to 1.8 million pageviews on the third day.

Karen also leveraged her video to connect with potential sponsors and stakeholders
in her project. These included companies like Lululemon and American Apparel –
two organizations that she was happy to support. Some of these companies support-
ed Karen and shared her video on their social networks too.

She also released her video on Tuesday, guessing that on Monday, people are most
likely to be catching up on emails from the weekend.

The problem with PR is that the supply/demand ratio is completely imbal-

anced. PR seekers are constantly spamming writers, journalists, and bloggers
for attention.

A service called Help a Reporter Out (H A R O ) can help to alleviate some of this
coming stories. People seeking PR can monitor journalist queries and join the

You can sign up for a simple e-mail digest that looks like this:

As a journalist and marketing strategist, I (R i t i ka) use HARO from both sides of the
fence — as a marketer and a writer.

H ere is the b ig g est p rob l em that I’ v e f ou n d w ith H A R O :

For some queries, I’ll receive 50+ responses, but here’s the thing. Most of the pitch-
es I get are totally irrelevant. They’re ego centric and completely disregard my needs
as a journalist. They make me jump through hoops to get the information I need.

to everybody 1:1, as much as I’d like to make myself available.

The thing to know about journalists is that they’re incredibly strapped for time and
working under short deadlines.

So when I’m ready to write my story, I’ll read through the pitches I receive via
the HARO dashboard ( not e m ai l ) , which means that it’s difficult for me to reply
to inquiries 1:1:
From a journalist’s perspective, here are some tips for making your HARO query
stand out:

1. When people pitch me, I want

to quote the material directly. Most likely, I won’t have the bandwidth to hop on a
sation as a follow-up. Send ready-to-quote material ins tead. Here is an example
pitch that I sent to a reporter from Inc on behalf of Speak2Leads. It was success-
fully published. I took the time to really get inside the mind of the reporter and
meet her needs.

My name is Sammy James, and my small business has built a technology solution
that that facilitates swift seller/prospect connection and significantly increases
conversion rates. Years ago, my company was two separate marketing agencies
whose clients consistently received high call volumes. Even though our clients were
receiving a number of leads, their sales teams were slow to pursue those oppor-
tunities and close deals. Our clients were lean operations without the luxury of a
big-business call center staff. Missed connections were a huge opportunity cost.

To begin, we built the first iteration of an app that phoned our clients as soon
My name is Sammy James, and my small mall business has built a technology solution
that that facilitates swift seller/prospect connection and significantly increases
conversion rates. Years ago, my company y was two separate marketing agencies
whose clients consistently received high call volumes. Even though our clients were
receiving a number of leads, their sales teams were slow to pursue those oppor-
tunities and close deals. Our clients were lean operations without the luxury of a
nnections were a huge opportunity cost.
big-business call center staff. Missed connections

To begin, we built the first iteration of an app that phoned our clients as soon
as a prospective customer would reach out to them online via a web form. The
results were powerful. We started using our own app in our own business devel-
opment efforts. What we loved was the ability to connect with potential clients
immediately, as soon as we received an inquiry from them. Prospects loved the
fast response time from us, and we were able to instantly present our business
in a positive light, as a robust and customer-service based operation. And most
importantly we were speaking to more of our leads. We then grew this platform
to solve another problem — lead management and follow-ups. If we didn't reach
prospective clients on the first try, we were likely to give up, and that was costing
us business. We decided to expand the app to streamline our follow-up efforts.
The app helped us take the leg-work out of long-term lead management so that
we could work more efficiently in closing deals.

We designed our app to solve our clients' biggest business problems — missed
connections — and in doing so, we realized that other companies faced this same
dilemma. As a digital marketing agency, our #1 goal was to help our clients gen-
erate leads. Our clients told us the response was extremely positive, and sudden-
ly, our app became one of our business's core products. In 2010, my two mar-
keting companies merged to focus entirely on Speak2Leads, the name that we
ultimately chose for this app and our company. We have grown our client base to
75 customers so far, who each use this very same app to connect with their pro-
spective customers.

My advice to small business owners is to build the perfect solution to a very real
problem that is ultimately bigger than you. Position yourself as the first use case
or beta tester. When I built Speak2Leads, I was focused heavily on helping my
clients generate stronger results. I never would have imagined that solution would
ultimately become a business in itself.

We actually use Speak2Leads for our own businessness development offers. The goal
pects the value of Speak2Leads
is two-fold — first of all, we want to show prospects
firsthand. Secondly, we want to be able to connect with prospects as soon as their
interest is piqued. As a small business, we do not
ot have the time or person-power to
track each and every lead. So, we use our own product to streamline this process.
Our app integrates with virtually every customerr relationship management tool,
marketing automation platforms, and now email service providers so it has been
very easy to adapt the solution to the exact needs of our business and our clients.

SAMMY JAMES, Owner of a Web Conversion Company

2. D on ’ t sen d a g en eric p itch. Send a unique, compelling story. Share some-
thing that stands out from a typical PR blast.

3. Stop b omb ardin g the w riter. Journalists work on a deadline but do not nec-
essarily know when their work will be published. Don’t bombard journalists with
follow-up questions. Don’t harass them on LinkedIn, and don’t aggressively talk
them via multiple email addresses. If you don’t hear a response, move on to the
possible to respond to each and every one.

4. Write a real l y comp el l in g email headl in e. Instead of just

replying to the query, take the time to craft a unique headline that
summarizes your story’s value proposition. Remember that there
is a human being on the other end of the computer screen. Make it
really, really easy to deliver your message, and the reporter will be
more likely to open your email message.

5. Set- u p G oog l e A l erts. Make sure that you have Google Alerts set-up for the
keywords you’re monitoring about your brand. Especially with HARO, you may
not know when a writer will feature your story. Don’t bombard the writer with
questions. Run Google Alerts to help you keep your eyes peeled.

Save yourself the time and hassle of combing through spreadsheets and sending
hundreds of emails. Use tools that have been developed to solve your exact pain
point — scale with limited resources.

One example resource is BuzzStream — a CRM (c u st om e r r e l at i onshi p m anag e m e nt )

platform that helps PR professionals build relationships, monitor conversations,
and maintain historical records of conversations with PR and media platforms.

F eatu res in cl u de:

A u t om at e d t ool s f or r e se ar c hi ng l i nk- b u i l d i ng p r osp e c t s

R e sou r c e s f or i d e nt i f y i ng c am p ai g n op p or t u ni t i e s

The ab i l i t y t o p r i or i t i z e a hu m an, r e l at i onshi p - b ase d t ou c h

BuzzStream lets you automate mundane tasks like saving information about key
contacts and partners. Teams can also collaborate on initiatives and delegate out-
reach tasks.

Content marketing means that brands are becoming publishers and building their
own audience bases. Companies, like you, are looking to connect with key audiences
through PR and distribution.

Team up with fellow-business blogs who are looking to reach the same audiences as
your organization. There are two ways to get going — guest post on industry blogs,
or invite others to create content for your blog.

15Five, a company that creates employee management software, recently launched a

video/interview series on its own blog. This initiative generated PR for both 15Five
and the partner the company chose to feature. Onboardly, a content marketing and

the following case study, courtesy of Renee Warren:

We wanted to extend the reach of the entire brand in the most focused and im-
pactful way possible.
ing on getting featured by the major tech outlets and the more creative road less
travelled. We chose the road less travelled.

We decided to focus on entrepreneurs and highly respected business leaders to

dience. And thus was born our video interview series.

reach than major tech outlets. Note the word “powerful”. Why bother getting in
front of people who would have no use for 15Five? We wanted to get in front of

up to a more targeted audience than TechCrunch, for example.

have the problem of being drowned out in the real-time news feeds of the major
tech blogs.

We wanted to “ ” so to speak, so we started with the peo-

the most.

Of course, people like Simon Sinek, Chip Conley, etc. came to mind. We reached
out to them, told them what we are all about, explained why we love what they are
doing and asked them if they’d be open to sharing their insights with our commu-
nity. When the interviews went live, they would want to promote them as much
as we would. It is a win-win-win (u s, t he m , ou r c om m u ni t y ) .

S o f ar , w e ’ v e r e l e ase d t he i nt e r v i e w w i t h S i m on S i ne k.
W e hav e m or e i nt e r v i e w s b ot h p r od u c e d and sc he d u l e , b u t w e ’ r e r e al l y j u st g e t -
t i ng st ar t e d .

S i m on' s i nt e r v i e w i s f ou nd i n i s ou r 5 t h m ost v i si t e d p ag e of al l t i m e .

We had just started our blog in April, which is when the Simon Sinek post was
published. It quickly received over 1,000 pageviews. In fact, it was so successful
given the “ne w ne ss” of our blog that we wrote a follow up blog post about the
topics discussed by Simon Sinek in the interview. That post received almost iden-
tical results. Between the two posts, visitors stayed for an approximate average of
4 minutes, which is well above average for the blog (a p p r ox i m at e l y 3 m i nu t e s) . The
interview video itself has received over 3,500 views in total to date. And in the

into one that is potent, original and increasingly more valuable to our ever-grow-
ing audience.
Grasshopper, a virtual phone system for entrepreneurs, uses its blog as a platform
for giving props to their best customers. The company has a “su b m i t y ou r st or y ”
program and will write about their customers who have something awesome to
share. For Grasshopper, PR is an invaluable way to say “t hanks” to their trusted
business partners.

I did a ton of marketing, and it started long before the video was released.
Going viral was not an accident — it was work.

HEATHER ANNE CARSON, PR expert & co-founder at Onboardly


One way to get press coverage is to give away trials or samples of your prod-
uct or service. Reach out to prominent journalists and bloggers, and ask if they
would be open to doing a product review. Give them a free trial or sample to try.


When a journalist, blogger, or fellow business writes about you or your company —

your organization as a company that wants to return the favor and help.

can, maintain a personal touch. Take journalists out to dinner as a ‘t hank y ou ’ (n ot a

b r i b e ) for writing about you.

Show that you are grateful, and you’ll stand apart from the crowd of people who ar-
en’t. Add value to your industry — don’t extract it. Pay it forward whenever you can.
Connection karma, and you never know when something small will materialize into
something much, much bigger.

and frustrating rat race. Cut through the noise by zeroing in

on the results you want to achieve.

Treat PR like business development. Build key relationships with journalists.

Put yourself in the shoes of a journalist. Craft meaningful, compelling pitches.

Don’t ‘sp r ay and p r ay ’ a salesy advertising message.

Personalize pitches to the journalists’ needs and interest.

Develop a powerful brand story to share.




Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and

resources. Surround yourself with people e who not just support you and stay
with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence.

A social media strategy is more than just a Facebook page or Twitter feed. When ex-
ecuted correctly, social media is a powerful customer engagement engine and web

The social media landscape has evolved in the last few years, so if you’re jumping in
now, you might be late. That’s the harsh reality.

momentum through the social web.

As with any marketing strategy, the approach is straightforward:
1. Iden tif y the social chan n el s w here you r targ et au dien ce han g s ou t
2. Sol idif y you r b ran d messag in g — w hat in f ormation w il l reson ate w ith
an au dien ce w ith social media?
3. U n derstan d w ith social chan n el s b est comp l emen t you r w eb site’ s
con v ersion op timiz ation p rocess. U l timatel y, you r g oal is to create a
steady stream of b u yers.

Social media is more than just a Facebook page or Twitter feed. Here is a quick crash
course in the variety of social channels available:


Extremely vibrant, con- High engagement. Consumers exception-

sumer-focused social ally critical about ad
Fan pages integrate
network. targeting and banners.
with newsfeeds.
People use heavily People don’t like to
Free and paid market-
to stay in touch with be hit over the head
ing solutions.
friends and family with a sales pitch on
FACEBOOK Facebook.
Sponsored post
App integrations with
Strong performance in
mobile ad network.
Rich in multimedia.

Micro-blogging plat- Strength is in short-form Short-form messages

form for rapid and communication; Twitter can sometimes compli-
users are masters of cate or trivialize in-
information condensing information depth communication.
into short spaces.
Ad platform can be lim-
’Hashtags’ for discov- ited in delivering web
ering and participating
in new conversations. for branding (b u t y ou
ne e d t o t e st and se e )
Heavy emphasis on
connections and meet-
ing new people.
Ad platform.

Vine is powerful for

delivering an artistic

Virtual pin board for Can be extremely Can be a challenging

curation of your favor- marketing medium for
ite topics. driver. non-visual brands.
Strong skew towards Self promotion is a big
female-focused no here.
Ad platform.

Vine is powerful for

delivering an artistic

Virtual pin board for Can be extremely Can be a challenging

curation of your favor- marketing medium for
ite topics. driver. non-visual brands.
Strong skew towards Self promotion is a big
female-focused no here.
Visually engaging and
friendly format.
Opportunity for com-
munity to share and pin
products that they love.

Question and answer Audience of entre- Can be a challenging

engine. preneurs, marketers, marketing medium for
engineers, VCs, and non-visual brands.
Self promotion is a big
Genuinely curious and no here.
intelligent community.
Opportunity to pro-
mote and get distribu-
tion for blog posts.
Amazing opportunity
to research topics in
depth and to learn.

Largest business-to-busi- 1:1 outreach Some professionals

ness social network. Market intelligence don’t consistently use
Designed for network- Employee recruitment
ing and making new Advertising on
LINKEDIN connections. Variety of paid chan- LinkedIn is relatively
nel solutions expensive
Interest-based groups Don’t ‘spray and
prey’ strangers with

Customer review plat- Advertising solutions Some small businesses

form for brick and mor- available feel that the paid chan-
tar platform. nel advertising plat-
Opportunity to en-
form is too aggressive.
YELP gage directly with

mouth referral driver.

The world’s biggest DIY

Interest-based groups Don’t ‘spray and
prey’ strangers with

Customer review plat- Advertising solutions Some small businesses

form for brick and mor- available feel that the paid chan-
tar platform. nel advertising plat-
Opportunity to en-
form is too aggressive.
YELP gage directly with

mouth referral driver.

The world’s biggest DIY

video network.




There is tremendous pressure for companies to develop a social media presence.
Feeling the crunch, companies will just jump in.

other marketing channel in that it requires a thoughtful, ROI focused strategy.

Don’t jump in.


No Facebook? No problem. Develop a social media presence on the networks that
align most strongly with your customer base and brand. Don’t feel like you need to

be hanging out.

Remember that social media is, at its heart, a distribution channel. To spread the
word about your brand, you absolutely need an audience.

KISSmetrics doesn’t feel pressure to be active on Pinterest — momentum will grow

when the timing is right:

portant to establish a brand presence here:
There’s a caveat to this analysis. Even though KISSmetrics does not maintain a big

When KISSmetrics releases infographics, the goal is to get people to share it via the
social web, especially Pinterest. The key strategy is to include social sharing buttons
on the infographic page.If you look at the infographic snapshots below and on the
next page, you’ll notice that Pinterest buttons aren’t added to the sidebar — they’re

shows the Pinterest button only.

Why does the KISSmetrics team do this?

Even though the majority of KISSmetrics customers are male, Pinterest is still an


In order for people to follow you, you need to follow your customers. Pick social
networks that align most strongly with where your customers are hanging out al-
ready. If you’re running a B2B organization, for instance, participation on LinkedIn
Discussion Groups is a no-brainer.

If you’re running a publishing website, it’s mission-critical that you get your act togeth-
er on Twitter, since audiences consistently tweet and re-tweet through this channel.

An e-commerce site, on the other hand, may see stronger results on Facebook ( t hat
i s, u nl e ss y ou r c u st om e r b ase i s ac t i v e on Tw i t t e r ) . It really depends on your customers’
preferences, internet browsing, patterns, and demographic. For, for in-
stance, it makes sense to run a Twitter feed since the website specializes in daily deals.

When in doubt, run an informal research study. Just ask.


Online communities add value in the form of exposure and distribution. A portion
of your fans and followers are likely to convert. When you invest in building up your
social media following, you are investing in distribution.

Focus on building your fan base by asking your audience to become a fan or follower
in order to read the rest of your content:
Focus on building your fan base by asking your audience to become a fan or follower
in order to read the rest of your content:

Just like email marketing, it’s important to build your following organically. When
audiences opt into becoming a fan, they’re more likely to engage with your brand on
an ongoing basis.

Be respectful when recruiting fans and followers. Some folks just won’t want to.
Make sure that there’s an opportunity to opt-out. Include a “No Thanks” link. You
will want to cookie your readers to make sure that after they see the invitation once,
they don’t again.

This strategy can help you double your social media following — which can easily


Use a tool like 5 Minute Fan Page to collect leads on your Facebook page. These lead
generation forms have the potential to achieve much higher conversion rates than

Use a tool like 5 Minute Fan Page to collect leads on your Facebook page. These lead
generation forms have the potential to achieve much higher conversion rates than

Another approach is to collect email addresses through Facebook Connect:

Expect to pay $0.25 to $1 per email address collected. If your email marketing strat-
egy is well integrated with your conversion goals, you should be able to make your
money back relatively quickly. Not to mention, an email list is something with long-
term value. Every time you have a new product or announcement, you can instantly
promote that message to your list.
Obviously, a 2AM Facebook post is unlikely to recruit eyeballs. Beyond the obvious,
however, it’s important to pay attention to the nuances of timing your posts. Use
free social media tools from Simply Measured to time your Tweets and status up-
dates just right. Here’s what some of the reports look like:

Post when audiences are most likely to be engaging with your social sites.


Social media and content marketing go hand in hand. When people are browsing their
Facebook and Twitter feeds, they’re not necessarily in the mood to buy. They want to be
social, catch up with friends, connect with family, browse pictures, and relax. 3:20

As much as you want to sell, your content shouldn’t. They key is to build audience
relationships instead. People make laugh. Capture their interest. Be a brand that
is also a friend. Share content, not products. Remember that people are emotional
and want to be entertained.
and want to be entertained.

And yes, that sometimes means sharing a meme or two.

Promote content beyond your own. Curate content from the community, and share
what’s most relevant to your friends and followers. Clarity does a great job exemplify-
ing this concept by curating amazing reads from entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Once audiences browse through your content, make sure to connect them with
more. This strategy is especially important for YouTube videos.

Get more video views by ending your video with another. You’ll need a video editor

It’s of the key strategies used by Mike Chang’s YouTube Channel — and he has mil-
lions of subscribers.


This strategy can help build loyalty and engagement. Host tweet-ups to help answer
your fans’ most pressing questions. Other ideas include follower-only webinars and
Facebook networking parties to help businesses connect with one another.
Be social. Join Quora and LinkedIn discussion groups to build trust and awareness
about your brand. If somebody asks questions related to your product, provide an
ty knows.

NewsCred founder Shafqat Islam makes sure to answer questions about content

Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner stays on top of questions related to landing page
optimization (a nd hi s c om p any )



Conversations go both ways. Ask questions as much as you’re broadcasting messag-
es. Questions can help you better understand your customers and show how much
you care. Conduct market intelligence, learn what people think of your products,
and get people talking.

This approach can also help you brainstorm topics for your content marketing,
blogging, or infographic strategy.


People don’t want to read chunks of text. They want easy-to-scan, attention-grab-

base from your brand. Just don’t be boring.

Like any marketing channel, social media ROI should be measured and tracked.
Make sure to segment your data by post-type (c ont e nt v s. d e al s v s. p r od u c t s) , and
keep track of your long-term user value. With social media, conversions are much
less likely to be direct.

Virality is another metric that you should watch. When people share your content
with their fans and followers, your company gets free marketing. This exposure has

Typically, social media ROI metrics fall into the following categories:


Unique Visitors Shares Conversion Rates LTV

(direct & indirect)
Pageviews Customer
Conversions Acquisition Cost
Avg. Visit
(direct & indirect)
Return Visits
Bounce Rate

Your data will help you identify key opportunities for growth. Confront problems
directly to make your social media strategy as strong as possible.

This test and scale approach was critical for Foursum, an app that makes golf more
social and rewarding.

Renee Warren, co-founder at Onboardly, walks us through a recent case study:


We had a good Facebook following, but we weren’t seeing much engagement out-
side of announcements about big tournament wins. We wanted to turn that large
following into a more engaged community.


By creating branded images that featured popular golf quotes, we suspected we’d be
able to extend our reach from shares. By creating branded Would You Rather? im-
ages, we suspected we’d be able to get some debates going and fuel comments.


Branding is very important to us, so we wanted the images to be well-designed. We


Branding is very important to us, so we wanted the images to be well-designed. We

put all of the quotes on beautiful golf-related backgrounds (courses, greens, etc.)
and added a small logo.

We took a similar approach with the Would You Rather? images. We could have
just made them text-based, but we imagined people sharing the images and starting
mini-conversations on their own pages.


step towards creating a more engaged community. We’ve noticed an increase in en-
gagement around those images and other content we’ve been sharing as well.


Where we’d normally see 0-10 shares, we saw up to 60 on a branded quote. Where we
would normally see 0-15 comments, we saw nearly 40 on a Would You Rather? image.

Choose social channels that align with your audience.


Track results so that you can make optimizations and continuously improve

Monitor metrics related to virality, engagement, leads and conversions, and costs.

Shares and re-tweets are extremely valuable because they generate free exposure
for your company.

Encourage users to share your content by implementing (a nd t e st i ng t he p l ac e -

m e nt of ) social sharing widgets.

Be as visual as you possibly can. People don’t like to read giant blocks of text.

Remember that people on social media aren’t necessarily in the mindset to shop.
They’re looking to connect with friends, sync up with family, browse photos, and
discover entertaining media.

Integrate your social media strategy with your branded content program. Content

Listen as much as you broadcast. Use social media to learn about your customer base.




1 2


I think that every person has a set of mobile consumption minmin- 7


utes in their day. Standing in line at Starbucks, waiting for the

subway train, and waiting at the doctor’s office, what every
body does is pull out their device and browse content.

REGAN FLETCHER, VP of Business Development at

News360 via The Content Strategist

We operate in a cross-platform world. This is a concept we’ve discussed throughout

this guide, but we feel that it deserves a standalone chapter because too many mar-
keters and business owners procrastinate on mobile.

The numbers
And you knowalone
moment you.
that you wait is a wasted opportunity.

5 8 % of people who own smartphones have used them for store-related shopping.

An estimated 6 3 % of people expect to do more shopping on their mobile devices

over the next couple of years.

There are 1 . 2 b il l ion people accessing the web from mobile devices.

Almost 2 5 % of black Friday shopping in 2012 was done on mobile and tablet devices.
The numbers alone should convince you.

5 8 % of people who own smartphones have used them for store-related shopping.

An estimated 6 3 % of people expect to do more shopping on their mobile devices

over the next couple of years.

There are 1 . 2 b il l ion people accessing the web from mobile devices.

Almost 2 5 % of black Friday shopping in 2012 was done on mobile and tablet devices.

Spontaneity plays a major role in 8 1 % of all smartphone purchases.

8 8 % of people agree that having a mobile device with real-time information makes
them more spontaneous with shopping and more open to discovering new things.

Is you r b u sin ess ready f or mob il e deman d?

You might be less ready than you think. As of January 2013, the Interactive
Advertising Bureau reported that only 57% of the top 100 brands are well-prepared
with a mobile friendly site.

Use this fact to your advantage. Outsmart the crowd with a stellar mobile mar-
keting strategy.


Earlier in this guide, we talked about the value of user personas. With mobile mar-
keting, you need to take this concept a step further. In addition to understanding who
your users might be, you need to understand where they are and what they’re likely to
be doing while they’re engaging with your content, brand, products, or website.

On mobile, UX is everything. Marketers need to create an expe-

rience that’s simple and easy to view on
o the screen. That means
no chunks of text, no lengthy product descriptions, and no leaving
readers hanging without calls to action.


via Interview with The Freelance Strategist

The best thing you can do is learn why your users are mobile, recommends
Klein. Do they not have computers? Is their job on the road? Are they in
meetings or classes? What sort of mobile devices are they using? Tablet
usage can be much closer to laptop than it is to phone, for example.

LAURA KLEIN, Principal at UsersKnow via The Content Strategist

A r e t he y w ai t i ng at t he t r ai n p l at f or m , e n r ou t e t o or f r om w or k?
C ou l d t he y b e hang i ng ou t i n t he hosp i t al w ai t i ng r oom ?

For inspiration, here is an example from TaskRabbit, a community that helps people
outsource their gigs to people who are looking to earn some money.

The mobile site has zero bells and whistles. The site is highly functional for what
needs to get done on the go: posting and searching for gigs.

purpose of this guide, we’re talking about mobile websites only.

( I f y ou w ant t o r e ad m or e ab ou t ap p m ar ke t i ng , check out this blog post, w hi c h w i l l

t e ac h y ou how t o p i e c e t og e t he r a c om p r e he nsi v e , w e l l - r ou nd e d ap p m ar ke t i ng st r at e g y . )

Mobile marketing is challenging because you’re dealing with variation between de-

the ground:


easily using Google Analytics via the Mobile report.

Here is a snapshot of data from UserGrasp, Ritika’s website that gets very little web

how I cater to mobile users.

My homepage, about, and consulting pages have quite a bit of text on them. I
should condense it down. Again though, I’m looking at a cross-section of very limit-
(b e c au se I d on’ t i nv e st , r e l y on, or u p d at e t he si t e ).
(b e c au se I d on’ t i nv e st , r e l y on, or u p d at e t he si t e ).

me that when I start investing more time in my website, mobile should be a priority.

H ow man y p eop l e are comin g to you r site v ia mob il e?

about your mobile strategy.

Do you need a mobile strategy? Rely on the data to answer that question. Even with
sounding yes.


Mobile presents the challenge of presenting enough information in limited space.

that shrinks down core user experience details.

You could always organize information into more pages, but that technique is prob-
lematic. When information spans multiple pages, it’s tough to access. People won’t

straightforward, to pick one design concept that adapts to multiple scenarios.

Generally speaking, dealing with forms, especially long ones, in responsive

Web design is quite a challenge! The longer the form, the more complicat-
ed it is to adapt to small devices. The physical adaptation is not that hard;
most designers will simply put the form’s elements into a single column and
stretch the inputs to the full width of the screen. But making forms visually
appealing isn’t enough; we have to make them easy to use on mobile, too.

STEPHANIE WALTER, Graphic and Web Designer via Smashing Magazine

But don’t be fooled. This practice is more challenging than it sounds.

Especially if you’re new to design and online marketing, your best bet is to work
with a professional designer. If you’re limited on funds and resources, you can buy a
pre-made layout for less than $50 from a website like ThemeForest.

Look for a theme that will empower your company to communicate information
C hu n k s of tex t = n o g ood

For inspiration, here is how Clarity looks on desktop and mobile. Both designs are
equally communicative and make navigation simple and straightforward. It doesn’t
matter what device you’re using.


When people are on their phones, they don’t have time to fumble through a long
form. They also don’t want to click on a tiny link. They’re also on their phones and
may want to give you a quick call. Here’s what you need to do:

M ake y ou r C TA s b ol d , e asy t o c l i c k, and ob v i ou s

A v oi d t he u se of f or m s. I f y ou ab sol u t e l y ne e d t he m , m ake su r e t he y ’ r e as
shor t as p ossi b l e

I f y ou ’ r e op e r at i ng a b r i c k and m or t ar st or e f r ont , m ake i t r e al l y e asy f or p e op l e

If you’re running PPC campaigns, make it easy to convert right then and there.
As Greg Sterling points out in an article for MarketingLand, you can include your
phone number in a Google SEM ad.

We talked about conversion funnels at the very beginning of this guide.

(a nd p l an y ou r f u nne l s) accordingly.

Know what your mobile users are after. Make the path from visitor to customer as
direct as possible.

A mobile strategy is critical to your online marketing. If your website is designed

for desktop-only customers, you’ll potentially miss out on sales.

In addition to knowing what your prospects want, focus on where they are and
what they might be doing while engaging with your brand.

Use visuals, not chunky blocks of text, to communicate with users on mobile screens.

When building a marketing strategy from the ground up, make sure to prioritize
your approach to mobile.




What’s better than one smart marketer? T w o smart mark eters.

And what’s better than two smart marketers? T hree.

And four? Well, you get the idea.

The best part of online marketing is the amazing community. At any moment, you
have thousands of smart folks to share ideas and collaborate with. What you’ll also

That’s why, when we jumped in to write this guide, we reached out to our marketing
community for case studies and stories. You’ve read most of these in other chapters
from this guide. Some stories, however, didn’t quite make it in. But they’re too awe-
some to leave hanging.

Luckily, we have these stories to end this guide the right way. With amazingly cre-
ative feedback and ideas from the best of the best online. So let’s get to it. Here’s
what happens when you ask three marketing experts the same question. It’s time
for us to bow out and for the content marketer, analytics expert, and small business
owner to step in.

D on’ t b e af r ai d t o g e t c om p l e t e l y ou t t he r e

D e l i g ht y ou r c u st om e r s on a p e r sonal l e v e l

H av e a b l ast

I’m Emma Siemasko, the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, the entre-
preneur’s phone system. I was hired by Grasshopper to help create unique, engag-
ing, and branded pieces of content to help us get some traction online. We do this to
provide value to our customers and prospective customers, get people talking, gen-
erate buzz (a nd hav e p e op l e w r i t e ab ou t u s) , and separate ourselves from our com-
petitors. A phone system is kind of unsexy, but Grasshopper is cool. We want to be
more than a phone system, helping entrepreneurs out with whatever we provide.

We created a Startup Magic 8 Ball to connect with customers/

We didn’t want to create a standard guide like everyone ele is

making on the internet (w e d o hav e g u i d e s, t oo, b u t I r e al l y w ant -
, so we decided to make a startup
magic 8 ball.

M ake p e op l e l au g h

H av e p e op l e u se t he t ool

R e ac h e nt r e p r e ne u r s/ st ar t u p f ou nd e r s/ sm al l b u si ne ss ow ne r s

how i t w or ke d

Tr y ou t a ne w and u ni q u e p r om ot i on st r at e g y

Tr y t o d o som e t hi ng w or t h w r i t i ng / t al ki ng / b l og g i ng ab ou t and l i nki ng t o

( G u e ss i t w or ke d b e c au se w e ' r e b e i ng f e at u r e d i n t hi s g u i d e ! )

One of the areas we’ve struggled with is content promotion. We didn’t want to put
the Startup Magic 8 Ball out there just to see it get a few clicks from Twitter and die.
I came up with the idea to send notecards to community managers, content writers,
bloggers, and others who might get a kick out of the 8 ball. Instead of going after
hotshot entrepreneurs that get tons of emails and mailings (t hi nk Ne i l P at e l , G u y
K aw asaki ), I decided to send the cards to the people who were active on social me-
dia and blogs. I targeted people at a more junior/mid-level.
I made a list based on startups/small companies I knew and marketing writers

cards to (s o e asy i n t he i nt e r ne t ag e ! ) so I could personalize each one...a little bit

creepy, but we’re working with a startup magic 8 ball here, so I wanted to get across
a kind of mystical, creepy, fortune-telling style.

The cards came with a unique message and linked to the 8 ball. The hope was that
people would really want to check it out, and that they might be tickled by the card
as well. The notecards were a separate but connected promotional strategy.

M ag i c 8 B al l w as 5 t h m ost v i si t e d p ag e on ou r si t e , b e hi nd ou r m ai n p ag e , si g n-
u p , and a c ou p l e ot he r f e at u r e s p ag e s. Thi s w as hu g e .

P e op l e aske d t he 8 B al l ov e r 1 5 0 0 q u e st i ons.

W e al so saw a f ai r am ou nt of su c c e ss on r e d d i t . I p ar t i c u l ar l y l i ke d t hi s r e -

ab ov e ou r c om p e t i t or s:

Maybe your marketing will scare some people.

It’s okay. Because you’ll inspire someone else.

And those smiles matter more than anything.

Originally we wanted to automatically show the questions people asked, but we real-
ized they might be rude and crude. We did record every question that was asked so
we could see how people were using the 8 ball. It was impressive to see how many
questions were asked about entrepreneurship and startups. People were using it for
business purposes, even though it was a fun gag.

Some questions that got asked:

Shou l d I hire more emp l oyees at my startu p ?

Shou l d I stay in the real estate b u sin ess?

Is it b etter to ou tsou rce you r man u f actu rin g ?

C an w e su rv iv e l oss of rev en u e?

Wil l I b e ab l e to q u it my j ob this time n ex t year?

D o I hav e en ou g h seed mon ey to start my b u sin ess?

D oes my comp etitor hav e a b etter p rodu ct than I do?

M y f rien ds thin k my j ob is cool , rig ht?


The biggest success is that this got people talking, just as we hoped. It generated
social engagement, and people were (a nd st i l l ar e ) asking the 8 ball questions.

Failure. Once people got to the 8 ball and tried it out, there wasn’t really anywhere
for them to go. We needed to put some content or something else interesting on the

have! This will be a focus for the next campaign.

M ake su r e y ou f u nne l p e op l e i f y ou hav e t he m v i si t i ng a p i e c e of c ont e nt

V ol u m e c ou nt s. W e saw ab ou t 7 r e sp onse s f or 2 5 c ar d s, w hi c h i s p r e t t y g ood .

I m ag i ne i f w e ’ d se nt ou t 5 t i m e s as m any c ar d s.


The soc i al w e b i s t he he ar t of onl i ne m ar ke t i ng

A d op t a l ong - t e r m v ie w of t od ay ’ s c ont e nt soc i al l e ad s l i f e c y c l e

B u i l t a st or y l i ne i nt o y ou r anal y t i c s and r e p or t i ng

al w ay s a st or y i n t od ay ’ s m ar ke t i ng w or l d . I t ’ s m or e t han nu m b e r s. I t ’ s m or e i m p l e x . ”

“ W i t hou t t he st or y l i ne , I t hi nk t hat e v e r y t hi ng w ou l d
st ag nat e . W e ne e d m ar ke t e r s t o c an g e t b e hi nd t he st or y

“ O p t i m i z at i on i s st r ong e r w he n y ou hav e t he st or y t o b ac k i t
u p . W hy ar e y ou d oi ng w hat y ou ’ r e d oi ng ? W hat i sn’ t w or k-

“ The g oal of m ar ke t i ng , c ont e nt m ar ke t i ng i n p ar t i c u l ar , i s t o b oost shar e s. A nd t he n

t he r e ’ s an e q u al l y i m p or t ant l e ar ni ng c om p one nt . W hat c u st om e r s and b u si ne sse s
hav e i n c om m on i s t hat t he y ’ r e b ot h r u nni ng c am p ai g ns t o l e ar n. ”

w i l l f u nne l i nt o t he ot he r 5 0 % . R O I . I n m ar ke t i ng , L e ar ni ng f u e l s R O I . ”

C onv e r si on op t i m i z at i on i s t he ke y t o b oost i ng sal e s on y ou r
w e b si t e .

A l w ay s b e t e st i ng

B e r e l e nt l e ssl y c om m i t t e d t o d at a

Y ou c an al w ay s b e b e t t e r , so p u sh y ou r se l f

Recently, Underwater Audio tested two versions of a product page.

The idea was simple — to provide customers with the best experi-
ence possible, with the intent of boosting conversions.

Here was the original page:

Here was the variation:

Here was the variation:

And here were the results of the test — a dramatic 41% improvement over the original.


Build the overall framework, not just the campaign

Creating a marketing strategy is much like building a new product

our SaaS Marketing Bundle.

Even with a terribly designed landing

page that hasn't been optimized at all,
We've still gotten 1,100 signups in the
last 2 months. I threw some content
together, launched the page, and then
let it just run in the background while I
focused on other projects.

Now I have an entire list of a narrow

target market that I can reach directly
when I want to. I'm actually working on
getting all of our campaigns into a single
email tool which is why I haven't spent
much time improving it. But I should
have a new version of the same cam-
paign to launch in the next week or so.

on our banner ad for it. Then I sent a few emails to some of our other lists about it
and the conversion rate shot up to 19%. This is why I spend so little time comparing

dramatic impact on the performance of the rest of your funnel.

Building the marketing for your business is very similar to building a new product.

you validate it, then you need to start building a system.

Average marketers think in campaigns. They work all week,

push out a campaign, then start again from scratch next week.
That will only take you so far. To get to the next level, you need
you validate it, then you need to start building a system.

Average marketers think in campaigns. They work all week,

push out a campaign, then start again from scratch next week.
That will only take you so far. To get to the next level, you need
to start thinking in systems and build a marketing machine.

This is the only way to 10x your growth and then 10x it again.
This is what a lot of my time is spent on currently, building the
marketing systems that can support aggressive growth.


Marketing is multifaceted. You ask three marketers the exact same question,

strengths add value to your weaknesses. Everybody has them, and there is no
such thing as a perfect marketer.

Embrace varying perspectives. Ask other marketers for feedback, and your strate-
gy will be even more awesome.

Learn from the community always. Read blogs.

Even for seasoned marketers, the word ‘m ar ke t i ng -

ent. Be aware of these nuances. Create a strong vision for what marketing means
for you.