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Why No One Is Opening Your Emails

Why No One Is Opening Your Emails

A marketer’s worst nightmare:

You spent valuable time building a piece of content for your subscribers, maybe multiple pieces, only to realize how few are reading it. The good news is that email marketing is still the number one channel for advertising. In fact, Digital Agency Network found it is 40 times more effective than methods such as social media! 

So what’s the bad news? Convincing people to OPEN these emails is not easy.  

According to Campaign Monitor, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day, but only opens 17% of them…Those are tough odds to overcome. 

Take this inbox for example: 

 

It may even be similar to how your inbox looks right now. People are too busy to read 100+ emails every day. They’ll focus on the ones that are of interest and which capture their attention from the start. Since you can’t change how people’s inboxes look, you’ll have to play the game and find a way to rise above the competition.

But how?!?

Better Subject Lines

A good subject line dramatically increases the likelihood of your emails being opened. In fact, Convince & Convert found a 35% increase in open rates from relevant subject lines alone. While it may be just one component of the email, it’s the first thing recipients see. 

For marketers, subject lines are an opportunity to stand out above the rest, so don’t rush them. Some characteristics of a good subject line include writing with a personalized tone and staying short and sweet. 

For more examples and tips on creating the perfect subject line, click here.

Send Fewer Emails 

Don’t get trigger-happy with the ‘send’ button. A study from HubSpot found that 69% of email users have unsubscribed from a business because the organization sends too many emails (I know I have). When people sign up for a newsletter or subscription, make sure they know what they are getting themselves into. 

Be clear in the intro email about the communication cadence so they have an idea of what to expect. Is this a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter? Without addressing this, you run the risk of becoming a nuisance–leading people right to that ‘unsubscribe’ button. Don’t become a spammer.

Wait, how do I know how many is “too many”? Glad you asked! 

Segment your list of contacts and test different frequencies. For example, consider using A/B testing. A/B testing can be used to try different techniques within a small sample size of your target market.

Source: Split Metrics

In this case, let’s say you have 1,000 contacts in your database. Take a small sample, maybe 300 or so, and split them in half. Send one-half a higher frequency of emails than the other. From there, you can look at the open rates and click-through rates to see which frequency has higher engagement. 

Another quick way to offer a better experience to your audience is by asking them what they want. For instance, let them decide how often they want to hear from you. This can be done within the intro email by giving them an option to choose from: once a day, once a week, twice a month, etc. 

This allows the reader to dictate your relationship with them and provides a more personalized experience as a whole.

Overcome Triggered Spam Alerts

Emails can be sent to spam without having the recipient manually ‘mark as spam.’ Email accounts such as Gmail are becoming smarter as technology continues to grow. As a result, spam detection is becoming more prominent and sensitive to emails originating outside the organization.

A study from Propeller CRM found that 45% of all emails get triggered as some type of spam. 

Yes, you read that correctly! 

Nowadays, email software is designed to detect certain words that are most often found in SPAM. These are known as trigger words. If you use enough of these trigger words, your message will be sent to spam. That’s why it is imperative you understand how sensitive these systems are, and how to avoid overusing trigger words.

Here a few examples of common trigger words, and how to work around them:

Try to avoid using a word like “Free.” This extends to the subject line, title, and body of the email. Instead, try using words like “complementary,” or “at no charge.” Doing so allows you to avoid spam detection while still getting your point across. Other common trigger words include “Guaranteed,” “100% FREE,” “Act Now,” “Attention!,” or any repetitive use of CAPS or character symbols. 

Understanding these trigger words and strategizing around them will keep your emails away from the SPAM folder and give you a better chance to be seen.

Looking Ahead

As mentioned earlier, email is still the most useful tactic for marketers. Experiencing low open rates can be frustrating, but you can use it as an opportunity to step back and assess your strategy.  

Continue to optimize your subject lines, frequency of sends, and keep track of potential trigger words, and you will have a better foundation to analyze your current email strategy to see where improvements can be made.

Interested in more business tips like these? Subscribe to our blog or contact us today to let us help strategize and increase your inbound leads. 

 

CEO’s Guide to SEO for B2B

CEO’s Guide to SEO for B2B

When it comes to B2B marketing, it’s crucial for companies to be visible online. Studies show that “61% of all B2B decision-makers start their process with a web search, and 71% won’t have a conversation with a salesperson until they’ve undertaken their own research,” according to B2B Marketing. By practicing SEO or search engine optimization, any business can build a strong online presence and drive traffic to its website.

In this blog, we define some of the terms associated with SEO and share strategies that will help you optimize your website.

SERP

Search engine results page or SERP is what comes up when you type a query into Google. Although the order of the results page is determined by a complex algorithm, SEO is a determining factor in where your website ranks on this page. By implementing SEO tactics, you can achieve a high ranking on the SERP where you’ll get the most visibility. You should make it your priority to be on the first page since there’s a 71% CTR for page one results while pages two and three have a combined CTR of just 6%.

Types of SEO

  • On-page SEO: includes any activity that’s carried out on the page that will be published such as inserting keywords, links, or meta tags
  • Off-page SEO: includes any activity performed on the page after it goes live such as sharing, liking, or commenting on the post to build engagement
  • Technical SEO: the behind-the-scenes setup of your site that makes it easy to index such as SSL or an XML sitemap

Indexing

The term indexing refers to adding web pages into Google search. If your site isn’t indexed, it will not show up on the SERP. So how do you get your site get indexed? Well, every website created in WordPress is automatically indexed. But, if you’re not on WordPress, don’t worry- Google has crawlers that follow links and discover websites to add to their index. If you don’t want to wait for this to happen, there are other ways to get your site indexed by Google that you can learn about in this article.

Keyword Research

SEO allows you to rank for certain keywords, meaning your website or webpage is made visible in the results when a keyword is typed into a search engine. For example, a digital marketing agency may want to rank for the keyword phrase “SEO strategy.” In order to determine which keywords you want your business to rank for, it’s necessary to conduct keyword research.

Keyword research is “the process by which you research popular search terms people type into search engines like Google, and include them strategically in your content so that your content appears higher on a search engine results page (SERP),” according to Conductor.

To develop a list of search terms, it helps to start by asking yourself: what are my customers interested in reading about? What are they searching online? You can gather ideas by looking on Reddit, using Google Autocomplete, or seeing what competitors are writing about.

Once you’ve gathered a solid list, try typing some words or phrases into SEMrush. This tool will show you the volume, competition, and keyword difficulty of each keyword. Since B2B is small, it’s best to focus on high-value, low volume keywords. In addition, long-tail keywords, or keywords containing 3 or more words, are generally better to use because they’re more specific.

The Bottom Line

SEO gives you the tools to provide the right audience with the right information at the right time. It helps with lead generation, establishing your company as a credible source, and shows that you understand your audience. To learn how we can help your company with SEO efforts, feel free to contact us.

Is the HubSpot Reporting Add On Worth The Price?

Is the HubSpot Reporting Add On Worth The Price?

Without the proper tools, pinpointing the engine behind company growth — sales, marketing, or the two working in tandem — is an arduous task. In this article, we explore the value of the HubSpot reporting add on tool. 

If this is you, you’re not alone. According to HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2018” report, 40% of surveyed companies stated that their top marketing challenge was proving the ROI of marketing activities.

Similar issues come with sales. Which representatives are closing the greatest number of deals? Are cold emails working? If you’ve been there, then you’re at a point where in-depth reporting that closes the loop between marketing and sales is a must.

HubSpot comes with standard reporting capabilities, but to drill down to metrics unique to your business, you’re going to need HubSpot’s Reporting Dashboard Add-On on. Priced at $200/ month, it’s not an investment to be taken lightly.

With that price tag, is it worth it? Read on to find out what the tool offers, why it’s unique, and some potential drawbacks.

 

Features

So, what exactly is HubSpot’s Reporting Dashboard Add-On? It’s a tool for building customized reports in a way that’s organized and easy to understand. You can then syndicate your findings across your organization. Let’s break these components down:

Building Customized Reports

With HubSpot’s Reporting Dashboard Add-On on, you can create a custom visual look at your data that answers virtually any sales or marketing related question. Want to know how many marketing qualified leads became sales qualified leads this month? Done — with the conversion rate in plain sight.

You can choose from pre-made reporting templates or roll your sleeves up and build reports from scratch. Choose from an array of displays; pie charts, bar graphs, donut charts, and more. Data can be viewed in real time, so you’re never left wondering how to pivot your sales and marketing efforts to achieve optimal results.

Organizing Your Reports

Of course, with endless options for creating reports, you need a way to organize them. This is where dashboards come in; Create up to 200 dashboards which can house up to 10 reports each.

Now, everyone in your company can have visibility on aggregated metrics that matter to them — whether that’s a high-level overview of marketing performance or the amount revenue a specific sales representative generated last quarter.

Syndicating Your Reports

Don’t let critical reports go unnoticed. The HubSpot’s Reporting Dashboard Add-On on allows you to send reports to your team’s inbox on customized timelines. Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly — your team will always be aware of their progress.

 

Why It’s Great

It’s Simple

You don’t need to be a data scientist to understand what you’re looking at. It’s all in one place — organized and in the format that is most useful and convenient for you.

Visual reports allow you to understand trends at a glance, and precise numbers provide a more detailed view of progress.

Enables Sales and Marketing Alignment

When marketing and sales work together, the possibility and fear of a lead slipping through the cracks dissolves. As a result, the ROI of marketing efforts increases, your sales team runs more efficiently, and there is visible top-line growth.

In fact, in organizations where sales and marketing are aligned, marketing acquired leads are 67% more likely to close.

How does this connect with the add-on? With the tool, you can create a report where you can see how many sales qualified leads to become opportunities. If this conversion rate seems a bit low, you have a jumping off point for correcting the problem.

Read, “The Right Way to Follow Up with Marketing and Sales Leads.”

Monitor Metrics Unique to Your Business

Because you can easily build custom reports and dashboards, you have unhindered access to metrics that matter to your business. Say goodbye to scouring your arsenal of tools to find the data points you need. They are neatly and conveniently packaged to be accessed at will.

 

Drawbacks

Drilling Down Into Data

With customized reports, you can’t access granular data on broad metrics. For example, let’s say you build a report that shows how many leads fall into lifecycle stage for the current month. You can’t just click on the sales qualified lead bar to see who these leads are. For this, you will need to create a list where you will define the qualifications for a lead to appear on that list.

The Price

$200 per month is a lot — especially when tools like Google Analytics are free. To decide if it’s worth it, you need to assess why you want the tool. If you are interested in granular data such as bounce rate, entrances, the assets driving conversions, and so on, then you’ll be just fine with Google Analytics.

However, if you have grown to a point where you need to close the loop on marketing and sales efforts, then the HubSpot add-on is worth it. This brings us to the answer to the question that started this blog: Is HubSpot’s Reporting Dashboard Add-On on worth the price?

 

The Verdict

The tool serves as a single source of truth that encourages visibility throughout your company. Instead of just being a tool on website performance alone, like Google Analytics, it’s the be all end all tool for measuring the health of your organization.

The main drawback is the price, but if you strike up a deal with just one lead that would have slipped through the cracks otherwise, then it’s already paid for itself.

So, the answer is yes. Investing $200 per month for the add-on is worth it.

The Best Email Subject Lines For Sales

The Best Email Subject Lines For Sales

Crafting email subject lines for sales has become an art. To make your email stand apart from the hundreds in your prospect’s inbox, you need to capture his or her attention immediately. Easier said than done, right?

We’ve compiled a list of tried and true email subject lines that are favorites of industry professionals. Tweak the content, press send, and watch your open rates increase.

Cold Email Subject Lines

When a prospect hasn’t heard from you yet, it’s hard to get them to take the bait. Here are some examples of email subject lines that will help you score that initial click.

“Erica Banks told me to drop you a line.”

If you have a connection with your prospect, mention him or her by name. Your prospect is more likely to open the email with this trust-building information. Be sure to tell your connection before reaching out in case your prospect asks for verification.

“Have you been to the Gotham Bar & Grille on 12th St?”

This casual question is a great way to start a rapport with a prospect. Whether or not you’ve been to the restaurant or venue (preferably in their city of residence), it’s a fun way to begin a  conversation. Once you’ve started talking, ask if a meeting at the said location would be possible.

“So, I hear you are a master in data analysis”

Like the restaurant tactic, this method is likely to catch your prospect’s eye. Why did you ask about their specialty? Is there an opportunity related to it? This email subject line shows you did your research, but ensure you have a legitimate reason for mentioning personal information.

“Josh, did you meet your advertising goals last quarter?”

This email subject line is successful for two reasons. It mentions the recipient’s name, possibly increasing the open rate by up to 22.2%. Then, it asks a pertinent question about his job. Tweak the question for your industry; a health tech salesperson might write “Hi [name], are you frustrated with your supply chain?”

Follow-up Email Subject Lines

Whether you’re sending another email after receiving no response or checking in after an initial call. Here are a few ways to make that second contact as smooth as the first.

“Here’s that case study I mentioned”

If you referred to some kind of information, like a case study, article, or blog post in your first email or call with the prospect, that’s a great reason to follow up. You’re reminding the prospect about your initial conversation and providing value at the same time.

“Jane, I thought you might like this new Forbes article”

This is an information-packed follow-up message, especially useful if you didn’t make contact the first time around. You’re mentioning the prospect’s name and letting them know that you want to provide value.

“Can I help you meet your Q2 goals?”

Every professional has quarterly and yearly goals—and feels a lot of pressure to meet them. Offering help with this critical project can quickly catch a prospect’s eye.

“Would you like to spend one less hour a day on email?”

This is another email subject line that can be adjusted for your industry. Boil down your product, determine real-world value it can provide for your prospect, and feature it in the subject line.

Last-Chance Email Subject Lines

Maybe your prospect hasn’t answered any of your emails or has just gone radio silent—try to revive that relationship with these email subject lines.  

“3 steps and we can get started”

People love numbered emails (and articles and lists), so a number is a great way to start an email. This subject line implies that you two have a rapport, so even if you haven’t actually spoken to your prospect, they may be intrigued enough to see what’s going on.

“15 minutes on Thursday?”

It’s hard for anyone to ignore an email about a meeting. Your prospect might think you’re waiting on their answer to complete your schedule or may be interested in hearing your rapid-speed pitch.

“Ready to part ways?

Sometimes honesty is the best policy. If you haven’t received a single message in return from a contact and need to know if you should stop wasting effort on them, this message might be your best option. If they respond with a negative or simply don’t respond, you’ll know their answer.

I need to apologize for something”

If you are willing to do whatever it takes to get a certain prospect to click, think outside the box. Other clickable options include “HBO Go Password?” (a favorite of HubSpot) or a classic: “Like cute cat videos?” You’ll get more clicks, but it’s up to you to craft creative content in the email body that lives up to the subject line.

 

Interested in more business tips like these email subject lines for sales? Check out our blog.

3 Tools to Help You Create a Strong B2B Value Proposition

3 Tools to Help You Create a Strong B2B Value Proposition

If you had to entice a customer to buy your product using one sentence or less, what would you say? This is the question you should ask yourself when developing a value proposition. It can be difficult to narrow down your product’s value to 20-30 words. Luckily, there are numerous tools available that will take you through a step-by-step process of developing a value proposition. These tools can help you prioritize important information, organize your thoughts, and even bring you to a new perspective or idea that will enhance the way you communicate your product or service’s value to customers.

Here are a few tools to help you develop a strong B2B value proposition:

1. The B2B Elements of Value Pyramid

Bain & Company created a model that organizes valuable elements that B2B organizations can offer customers. The model’s roots can be traced back to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from 1943, which argues humans are motivated by both basic and complex needs. However, this model focuses on people’s motivation for buying products or services. The elements at the bottom are easy to measure, such as acceptable price, while the elements at the top are more objective and difficult to quantify, such as reputational assurance.

According to leaders at Bain & Company, if companies use “modern survey techniques and statistical analysis to quantify all the elements on a consistent basis, they can learn what customers truly value and which aspects of an offering merit investment.” By surveying customers and asking them to rate the elements they value most, you can modify and improve your value proposition.

Elements of Value Pyramid

Source: Harvard Business Review

2. Strategyzer Value Proposition Canvas

Strategyzer, known for their business model platform, offers a canvas tool for companies to create value propositions. It’s composed of two sections, a customer profile and value map. The customer profile describes the jobs your customers try to get done (these can be functional, social, or emotional). In addition, this section highlights the pains customers experience when trying to get the job done and the gains they hope to achieve.

The value map lists the products and services your value proposition builds on. In this section, you should ask yourself, how does your product minimize or reduce pain points? How does it maximize outcomes/benefits? The best value propositions come from connecting your customer profile and value map. The customer profile may contain countless jobs, pains, and gains but the value map helps you highlight which ones to focus on.

Value Proposition Canvas

Source: Strategyzer

3. Value Proposition Builder™ by Futurecurve

This trademarked tool is a product of Futurecurve’s research into human behavior. The six elements are part of an iterative process that leads to a customer-centric value proposition. The process is centered around identifying your target market and how your product or service provides value for that audience. However, this value is strengthened by determining which benefits are most important, how they offer differentiation, and proof to support your claims.

Futurecurve outlines a number of positive outcomes of undergoing this process to create a value proposition. To name a few, companies gain a clear profile of buyer personas, an understanding of what offerings to take to market, and evidence on how they deliver value. For more insights on creating a value proposition, you can check out Futurecurve’s book “Selling Your Value Proposition: how to transform your business into a selling organization.”

Value Proposition Builder

Source: Futurecurve

With these tools, you can ensure that you’re creating a strong value proposition that speaks to your customers and their needs. For examples of B2B value propositions, check out our blog The Top 10 B2B Value Proposition Examples (And How to Create Your Own).

Looking for a team to help with your company’s B2B marketing messaging? Contact us.

Marketing Agency vs. Marketing Consultancy

Marketing Agency vs. Marketing Consultancy

If you’re up to date on what’s happening in the marketing industry, you know that consultancies have increasingly become a threat to traditional agencies. With the popularity surrounding digital technology, there has been a shift away from the creative approach of selling “big ideas” and a move towards data-driven marketing. To dig a little deeper into this, let’s take a look at the differences between an agency and a consultancy.

Definition

A marketing agency has the ability of handle all aspects of the advertising process. This includes strategic planning, creative, and production. Some agencies are full-service, meaning they offer a complete approach to marketing and advertising initiatives. Other agencies may specialize in a particular creative service, such as graphic design, video, or social media.

On the other hand, a marketing consultancy has expertise in strategies to engage customers and improve business opportunities, both through retaining existing clients and attracting new customers. Their focus is to help companies achieve defined and measurable goals. A consultancy typically helps businesses develop inbound strategies, implement marketing tools, drive traffic, generate and nurture leads, produce content, and improve SEO.

Process

A marketing agency is going to be more focused on executing creative. They are expected to know the best way to shoot a video or create a beautifully-designed website. When it comes to working with an agency, clients typically already have a marketing strategy in mind. For example, they may want to launch a new product or rebrand. Either way, there’s a clear objective and it’s the agency’s job to find the best way to execute it creatively.

Because of the conceptualization involved in designing creative assets, the turnaround time for an agency is longer than a consultancy. However, the main thing that separates an agency from a consultancy is their role in the marketing process. A consultancy will develop a plan to help your company grow, while an agency expects you to already have that figured out. They are the ones who provide the creative assets to support the project plan.

If you’re using a consultancy, it’s typically because you have a problem that you’re not sure how to solve. This could be anything from “why am I not getting traffic to my website?” to “how do I start generating more leads?” It’s a consultant’s job to identify a business-oriented solution to problems like these.

The consulting process begins with researching a client’s company and familiarizing oneself with their services, buyers, and competitors. Consultants immerse themselves in their client’s industry so they can better understand their goals and pain points. They take a data-centered approach to marketing, relying on analytics to inform their strategies. You can expect a fast turnaround from a consultancy as they are skilled in driving performance and producing quick, measurable results.

Which is right for you?

Now, you may be sitting there asking yourself, which option is right for me? It depends on your company’s needs. If you’re looking for quick results that drive revenue and growth, you should go the consultancy route. But if you’re looking for support in executing creative initiatives, an agency is the right pick. Looking for a little of both? There’s a third option- a hybrid agency/consultancy.

SmarkLabs is a prime example of this. We are a full-service marketing operation that create and execute marketing plans. We have a team of marketers who are skilled in growth strategy and a team of creatives who are experienced in graphic design and videography. Because of this, we’re able to handle every aspect of the marketing process and create consistent campaigns that produce reliable results.

To learn more about our services, drop us a line.

Looking ahead

The line between agency and consultancy is becoming more and more blurred. Consultancies are beginning to offer branding and advertising services while agencies are moving into digital technology. In terms of the future of marketing, many have argued that consultancies will dominate because the way people interact with brands is changing. It’s no longer about releasing big, flashy ad campaigns, but finding small and truthful ways to engage with customers and create personalized experiences.