Category Archives: Backlinks

Killer Resources for Freelancers … and an Option for Those Who Don’t Want to Go It Alone

This week, Stefanie Flaxman and I yielded the floor to a pair of smart gentlemen who we don’t hear from quite as often as we used to. And we featured a writer you haven’t seen on Copyblogger before. Her debut post for us is a must-read for writers who like being able to pay their
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Engage Customers: Tips for Holiday Marketing

Marketers, are you ready? It’s that time of year again. With the National Retail Federation expecting holiday sales to increase between 3.6 and 4% from last year, consumers will be shopping more and spending more money, meaning marketers and brands must work harder to connect prospective customers before their competition does. But, to attract and retain consumers during this season, brands can’t miss a moment with their audience.

Here are some of the technologies and techniques marketers must adopt to win over customers this holiday season:

1. Get Relevant or Get Ignored

This won’t be the last time you hear this saying. When you personalize the customer experience, your customers will understand you respect their time. Have you ever found the perfect gift for a loved one, added it to your cart, forgot about it, and sadly found out it was sold out the next time you logged on? It’s unfortunate but happens far too often.

Amazon constantly wins when it comes to personalized customer experience. If a shopper puts an item in the cart and logs out, Amazon reminds her it’s there, but selling quickly. Additionally, the company integrates recommendations across the buying experience: from product searches to the final purchase, showcasing a seamless process and demonstrating its understanding of customers’ needs.

A retailer that also stands out when it comes to relevance is Neiman Marcus. The brand reaches its customers by delivering real-time, personalized videos to passive browsers of its website and transforms them into active shoppers by highlighting specific designers, seasonal promotions, and a buy-online-pick-up-in-store service. This campaign drove incremental online revenue and increased brand awareness with a highly targeted audience, revealing the power of personalized videos.

2. Mobile Will Still Dominate, but Experience Matters Most

Every marketing message should be optimized for every device. However, with 76% of mobile shoppers changing their mind about who to buy from based on the user experience—not just how it looks on the device and optimization—user experience plays a huge role in the purchasing decision this holiday season.

This holiday season, a barely personalized message or video about a product or service consumers want—or want to give their loved ones—won’t persuade them into buying anything. By contrast, a personal video probably will, if it taps into an anticipated experience, such as a video showcasing how much use they will get out of the ski gear they’ve been eyeing. In fact, we have found that personalized videos that relate back to something a customer is experiencing or will experience can drive up to 20 times incremental revenue growth, a 22% reduction in customer churn, and a 19% increase in digital adoption. 

3. Create Video Content That Taps Into Emotion

Over 50% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI, and that number is only growing. Video is the most compelling storytelling medium, with a combination of sight, sound, and motion that captivates viewers and evokes their emotions.

Think about the last time you watched a video and shared or liked it over social media. What was the reasoning behind the engagement? Did you laugh? Feel sentimental? Emotions are contagious, and consumers—people like you and me—love to watch and share content that inspires us.

And, the holiday season is that time of year where brands battle it out to win over customers through “giving back” and “feel good” campaigns. I always think back to last year’s John Lewis #BusterTheBoxer video. To this day, it’s still one of the most widely shared holiday videos. But, imagine if you can personalize or make that video relevant to a specific viewer. It can spark emotions that drive purchasing decisions and brand loyalty.

4. Embrace Consumer Laziness This Holiday Season

I don’t mean this in a negative way. Thanks to innovations like Alexa, Siri, Google, and Cortana, consumers’ habits have completely changed—people will take the easiest and most hassle-free path to get what they want—especially during the holiday season. The issue is marketers are only slowly catching up and not capitalizing on human laziness.

The way consumers shop is constantly evolving. Think about it: you’re ordering your favorite brand of wine for your holiday party through Alexa. All you need to say is, “Alexa, order me [insert brand name here] bottle,” rather than go to the nearest liquor store to pick it up or even order it online. Marketers need to keep up with this evolution. Catering to customers and getting them what they want, when they want it, with the least amount of effort on their end will be essential this holiday season and into the next year. As such, marketers need to develop these automation strategies now.

The holiday season is competitive but mission-critical. Consumers are distracted. For retailers to shine brightly this holiday season—despite technology evolving and competition heating up—they must deliver content in an entertaining, valuable and relevant way. Video isn’t the only medium, but it’s the most successful storytelling medium with the potential to combine big data and automation with the emotion of sight, sound, and motion.

What holiday marketing plans do you have for your business this year? What has worked in the past for you? I would love to hear your plans in the comments.

The post The Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Engage Customers: Tips for Holiday Marketing appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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Why Marketers Shouldn’t Shy Away From Long-Form Content

There are numerous studies confirming that long-form content works. It performs better in search and attracts organic traffic. But while everyone agrees that long-form content is the most efficient way to gain attention, not everyone can write as well as a professional journalist and keep the readers engaged.

There is increasing pressure to write long-form content, but the attention spans of users are getting shorter each day. People are used to consuming short bits of information and when presented with a longer piece, they simply scan the article or jump directly to the summary. So how does one build a good long-form post that provides tons of value and is read from start to finish?

In this blog, I’ll explore the tricks that can make your content more readable and cover key reasons to write long-form content despite the obstacles.

Why Long Form Content Works

Long form content works for many reasons. From a technical perspective, Google considers long-form content more authoritative, but that doesn’t mean that you should throw in thousands of meaningless words into the article and expect rankings to improve. Even though such a black hat tactic might work, it will inevitably lead to high bounce rates and the page will go down in search, eventually.

Instead, try to come up with a topic that provides value to your targeted audience and cannot be covered in a shorter format. There is a general misunderstanding that the readers won’t have enough patience to read the long form content, but if the topic requires detailed coverage in order to be understood you won’t have to fight for the readers’ attention.

There are three key reasons that long-form content gets results:

1. It Provides Detailed Information.

Customers are inundated with short content. It’s common for the users to scan several short-form content pieces before an objective opinion can be formed. Long form content is different. It provides a comprehensive overview of the topic including contrasting opinions, step-by-step action plans, and detailed instructions.

2. It Keeps the Readers Engaged

Surprisingly, long-form content presents a challenge to the users. The benefit of short-form content is that it’s incredibly easy to digest and doesn’t require much effort. With long-form content, readers know that they need to invest time and effort.

It might sound contradictory, but when you see a long article online, the association with authoritative media, such as New York Times or New Yorker, comes up. You then assign more value to the article, which in turn makes you more attentive to the information at hand. This offsets, to an extent, the fear of having to invest more time in the article.

3. It Increases Shareability

The power of social is undeniable. There is a whole slew of psychological forces that come into play when we share content. From boosting our egos to trying to be helpful and expressing virtual empathy, it is undeniable that sharing makes us happier.

Sharing long-form content makes us look better because it shows that we follow authoritative resources. Long form content also provides tons of value that we feel compelled to share with others. Additionally, considering the amount of effort that goes into writing and producing the long form piece, it’s normal to want to support the author, who created such an outstanding piece.

How to Keep the Readers’ Attention

Human focus is limited. While you might have the most interesting topic and groundbreaking research data, you can’t expect the readers to consume it all. It’s important to construct your long-form content in a way that makes it easy to read and comprehend.

Here are some tips to help you create a great long-form content piece:

1. Break Down Longer Content Into Shorter Pieces

Just like large projects have to be broken down into tasks, long-form content must have distinctive paragraphs and headlines to help the readers navigate the article. Having no proper structure makes the content look visually intimidating. But when the readers see distinctive paragraphs and commit to reading one of them, they feel compelled to read further.

2. Close Every Section With a Kicker

A kicker is a compelling closing idea or a quote. Essentially, a kicker is similar to a cliffhanger in a TV series—it promotes anticipation and keeps you thinking about possible future scenarios.  Most articles end with a kicker, but in a long-form piece, you’ll have to use several kickers to keep the readers engaged. Try to incorporate kickers at the end of each section. A kicker could be a surprising revelation, a challenging question or a hint of what is coming in the next section.

3. Start Every Section With a Lede

Lede is another technique used in journalism to improve readability. Opposite to kicker, a lede is placed at the beginning of an article or an article section. A good lede contains the essence of the story and communicates the important information all the while capturing the imagination. You don’t want to give out all the information in the lede, but you can tease the readers or give a catchy summary.

4. Use Lists

Bulleted or numbered lists are the structural elements that support readability. Readers like bulleted lists because they allow for quick scanning. Bullets and numbers in text are also perceived differently than words and letters so they can be used as stylistic elements to draw attention to certain parts of the article.

5. Insert Screenshots and Visual Cues

Visual elements give the readers a long-awaited break from reading. Pictures are sometimes more compelling than text and convey the information in a straightforward and creative way. You can create custom designed visuals with the help of online graphic design tools and incorporate them into your long-form piece for increased engagement and better readability. Screenshots also help get the point across or provide step-by-step instructions if you’re trying to give actionable advice.

6. Adjust Your Fonts

When it comes to fonts, it’s best to take the web designers’ approach. Sans serifs such as Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, Lucida Sans, and Verdana help readability online, while creative fonts can be used for headlines to make them stand out.

The size of the font matters too. Most web designers recommend 16px as a standard size for web content. 16 px on screen looks exactly the same as the text in the book, which is why most people find this font size the most convenient and legible.

7. One Idea Per Sentence

“One idea per sentence” is a writing technique expressed by Theodore Bernstein in his book Watch Your Language. The author claims that content with multiple ideas per sentence is hard to comprehend and even harder to remember. On the contrary, a story with only one idea per sentence allows the writer to express the idea in a clear and concise manner, which in turns makes the article more memorable.

If you’re using multiple conjunctions, dashes and connecting words in a particular sentence, this might be a sign that you have too many ideas in that sentence. Try to break the sentences into shorter pieces. Also, question the purpose of each sentence and paragraph as you write.

SEO also takes into consideration the Flesch-Kincaid Readability test which analyzes how difficult it is to read copy within an article. The longer your sentences are, the more difficult it is to discern the point.

8. Indicate Estimated Reading Time

Reading time indicators simplify the selection process of readers, and are being increasingly employed in online content platforms. In 2011, psychologists Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke concluded that the faster we make decisions the happier we feel. The reading time indicator tells us the time we need to read the article, simplifying our decision process and contributing to our happiness. Additionally, knowing the length of the article assists the reader with time management. No one likes to commit to something that doesn’t have a defined time frame. When you provide the readers with estimated reading time you eliminate a possible source of anxiety.

Moving Forward

Creating long-form content requires a substantial investment of time and resources, but it also helps establish your expert image online and drive thousands of visitors to your site. So get on the bandwagon, brainstorm topic ideas, write your long-form piece and develop a promotion strategy to distribute your article online.

How have you used long-form content in the past in your marketing plan? How might you use it in the future, based on the strategies I’ve outlined here? Let’s keep our discussion going in the comments.

The post Why Marketers Shouldn’t Shy Away From Long-Form Content appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Marketo Marketing Blog

6 Tips For Email Marketing Success This Holiday Season

Black Friday and the holidays are fast approaching. Big box retailers have filled their storefronts with holiday décor, and Santa will soon to have hour-long lines at the mall. You’ve got a choice with your brand: to embrace holiday marketing or to let it pass you by. Of course, you know that your strategy, no matter what needs to engage your customers across multiple channels. And with email being 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter, it’s important to note that email is not to be ignored.

In this blog, I’ll cover six critical tactics to run a successful email marketing campaign this holiday season.

1. Segmentation

According to DMA, marketers have found a 760% increase in revenue attributed to email from segmented campaigns. Start with some basic segmentation: separating your active subscribers from your inactive subscribers. This not only ensures the best possible deliverability, but you can then target the two separate groups with different messaging. A simple subject line tweak to the inactive segment that feels personal and triggers emotions, such as ‘We missed you,’ can go so far as re-engaging them. Once you have this covered, you can delve deeper into segmentation, focusing on things such as age, gender, browsing activity, and purchase history.

2. Personalization

A key element of successful email marketing lies in personalization. This can be as simple as putting the subscriber’s first name in the subject line or body copy of the email, or something a little more sophisticated, such as re-targeting the consumer with similar options to items they have previously purchased or browsed, or adding personalized suggested content through a solution like Marketo ContentAI. Campaign Monitor’s report states that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, so why not start there?

Remember—always keep an eye on your data and watch to see what works for your audience. If you consistently achieve a higher open rate with subject line personalization, consider making it a permanent fixture in your email strategy.

3. Re-engagement

One strategy for the holiday season is targeting inactive subscribers with a re-engagement campaign in the lead-up to Black Friday. This means slowly ramping up the re-targeting campaign—to avoid being blacklisted—and aiming to re-activate subscribers and build your database in time for the big sales. The first step is ensuring these subscribers are still within the time limit of permissions in the various CAN-SPAM/CASL laws. Once you have that covered, you can split the segment into manageable chunks and begin to email.

I suggest sending a similar email to that of your active list, with a varied subject line and intro paragraph. This keeps it relevant and straightforward and only involves minor copy tweaks to be more personalized to that segment. At the end of a couple of weeks of re-engaging these subscribers, hopefully, a number will drop back into the active list, just in time for those sales!

4. Re-emailing

Another tactic in the lead-up to the holiday period is to re-email those who have not yet opened the email from your initial send. If you’re sending a daily email, wait 6-8 hours and use a query to find those subscribers who haven’t opened.

Compile a segmented list of these email addresses and re-send the email—with a different subject line and hero. Everything else in the email can remain the same, and you should hit the audience who choose to check their emails at a later time. If they happen to see the earlier email, the subject lines are different, so it’s win-win.

5. Testing

One of the key elements of successful email marketing is testing. With a test and learn principle, it is possible to continually make improvements to those all-important KPIs, such as open rate and click-through rate. This principle remains true around the busy holiday period, and you should continue to utilize it to boost engagement.

Subject line testing is the most obvious, with a straightforward tactic being to send two separate subject lines to a select group of active subscribers, and send the remaining subscribers the winner 2-4 hours later. This ensures relevancy and can be done each time an email campaign is sent if desired. (Tip—most email service providers will automatically send the winning subject line to the remaining subscribers, so no need to set an alert here!)

Once you have subject line testing covered, try moving on to content testing. You could test static vs. GIF in the hero image or a different content layout. Always split these A/B tests and keep all other variables the same to ensure a fair test. The time of day and day of the week are other tests to optimize send time. Remember to re-test these each year, as the database changes over time and so can preferences. Analytics will be your best friend here. Pay close attention to the insights provided, and continue to build on them to achieve a successful strategy that consistently improves your KPIs.

6. Mobile Optimization

Always make sure your email design is responsive. According to MovableInk’s Consumer Device Preference Report from Q1 of this year, 73% of email is now opened and read on smartphones or tablets, and 27% is viewed on a desktop (non-apparel). With over half of all emails being opened on mobile devices, a non-responsive design will cause high unsubscribe/spam rates and deter consumers from interacting with your brand. Ensure that you are providing the best possible user experience to your consumers so that your click through and conversion rate don’t drop over the holiday period. With an ROI of $ 38 for every $ 1 spent, email continues to be the most effective online marketing tool.

With these six email marketing tips for the holiday season, you’re set for success! Do your email marketing tactics around the holidays differ from the rest of the year? How might you introduce some of these tactics into your strategy for this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Marketo Marketing Blog

The Key to Successful ABM: Marketing and Sales Alignment

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a game-changer, but it’s not uncommon for sales to push back against implementing it as a new strategy. It’s understandable. On the surface, it appears that ABM is asking sales to work with fewer leads, and that kind of change can be a scary proposition. In my previous blog post, I touched on this very subject when discussing outbound prospecting. The reality is, the sales team is not only holding marketing back from a necessary evolution, they are holding themselves back if they’re not getting on-board with ABM. Account-based strategies require input from across the organization because they work for, and benefit, the entire organization.

Alignment needs to happen across the board and if your B2B brand is targeting named accounts but hasn’t yet implemented an ABM strategy—your competition is getting a head start on your customers. ABM’s popularity has been rising and for good reason: coordinating your resources to focus on pursuing and converting specific accounts works.

So, Why ABM? 

  • 80% of marketers who track ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing strategies, often significantly.
  • 97% of marketers agree that ABM has a “somewhat” or “much” higher ROI than other marketing initiatives.

Inverting the traditional B2B strategy of lead generation-based marketing brings in bigger, more valuable accounts and increases engagement with target and existing accounts. But what do marketers and salespeople need to do in order to ensure ABM success? Align. 

In this blog, I’ll cover the key to successful ABM as well as how to get your sales team on board and how to achieve alignment.

Sales and Marketing Alignment is Crucial

Alignment between sales and marketing is beneficial for any organization, but if you want to get the most out of ABM (and what marketer doesn’t?), it’s crucial.

  • Conversion rates improve when sales and marketing share ownership of lead nurturing and incubation.
  • Companies with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams experience 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.
  • When sales and marketing teams are aligned, leads are 67% more likely to become clients.

The good news is that ABM by its very nature brings the two teams together—as long as both sales and marketing can agree to work together. If you’re finding it challenging to get sales to buy-in at first, you’re not alone. Ultimately, you are working toward a sales and marketing partnership but the first step is, of course, alignment.

How to Get Sales on Board

So, you’re a marketing team leader who needs to convince sales to buy in or a sales team leader who needs to get the rest of the sales team on-board. Where do you start? First, make sure the sales team understands the dramatic benefit that ABM brings to their lives. Then, demonstrate how a successful ABM strategy hinges on their input.

1. ABM is Good for the Sales Team

Whether you’re meeting one-on-one with the director of sales, writing an email, or pitching the entire sales department, ask a few questions:

  • How satisfied is sales with the leads they currently get from marketing?
  • Does the sales team always have the content/resources they need for closing an account?

Most honest sales reps will take the opportunity to express their frustrations because it’s just statistics that sales departments are commonly frustrated by what they feel are unqualified leads and by not being able to find the content resources they need.

But those are two of the best reasons that sales should be excited about an account-based strategy.

ABM starts with selecting target accounts, which is very much like qualifying leads at the beginning. There is almost no chance for an unqualified lead to land on a sales rep’s proverbial desk because sales and marketing have selected target accounts together from the very beginning. How would the sales team like to only talk to highly qualified, ready-to-buy leads?

After selecting target accounts, account-based marketing hinges on strategic, personalized content that marketing develops for specific personas, accounts, and even—sometimes—individuals. How would the sales team like to be able to deliver a case study in the same industry as a prospect, or a report generated especially for his/her company?

It might force sales out of their comfort zones at the beginning, and it might be a little longer before they start seeing new ABM-generated leads, but most sales reps won’t turn down a much greater percentage of qualified leads, at much bigger accounts, and the content they need to close the deals.

2. ABM Needs Sales’ Input

Everyone wants to be needed, right? Even though it’s called, “account-based marketing,” ABM involves more than just the marketing department. Alignment between sales and marketing is both a prerequisite for and a product of an effective ABM strategy.

Consider the five basic steps of account-based marketing. Almost all depend on input and insights from experienced sales reps:

  1. Identify Target Accounts—Sales knows who the big dogs are and probably already has a short list of dream accounts they would love to close.
  2. Develop Personas—Sales reps know who clients actually are, and can lend all kinds of detailed insights into the development of really robust personas.
  3. Find the Right Content—Marketing will take over a little bit here, but this exercise is based on the previous two steps.
  4. Integrate ABM into Your Multi-Channel Strategy—Marketing and sales will both execute this step in different ways and on different channels, but, again, the content and the strategy are built on the insights developed in the first two steps.
  5. Measure and Optimize—In an ABM model, sales gets to help define the KPIs as well. Broad-based marketing looks at a set of metrics that aren’t all, necessarily, the right fit for ABM and/or don’t help sales. As part of an ABM team, sales reps help marketers identify the metrics that will help optimize an account-based strategy.

Account-based marketing is not a new marketing trick that sales needs to deal with or help implement. It’s the natural evolution of marketing, sales, customer service, etc., but doesn’t work unless the whole organization grows together—and there is plenty of incentive for sales to be on-board.

How Does Alignment Work?

With a broad-based marketing strategy, the marketing team attracts leads through avenues such as advertising, email, and social media. Leads come in, and then sales takes over to work to convert them. With ABM, sales and marketing work together throughout the process, but that alignment has to be strategically planned—at least for a little while. Two teams who have worked in separate silos for generations won’t suddenly start playing as one team just because an executive tells them to be aligned. Even the most well-intentioned team members need to break a lot of old habits.

So once both teams are on-board, look at those five steps again, and plan how alignment needs to happen at each one.

  1. Identify Target Accounts—This should only be done with the whole ABM team at the table. Sales and marketing can bring their own initial lists to the meeting, but everyone should leave with the same short list. Look for overlaps between the two lists first. Then, agree on a system of lead scoring, and score the remaining potential target accounts to see which are more likely to close.
  2. Develop Personas—Even if sales and marketing have been poorly aligned until now, they’ve still been working on targeting and converting the same set of prospects. Developing personas together isn’t as much about overlap as it is about details. Marketing’s personas will identify companies, titles/positions, business priorities, etc. Sales’ insights will add FAQs, pain points that only come out in conversation, and favorite sports teams. All of it is important for ABM.
  3. Find the Right Content—If personas change drastically in step two, there might need to be an intermission in ABM meetings while the marketing team retools some existing content pieces. If not, or if your marketers have unusually thick skins, start reviewing core content pieces together. Begin with the ones most commonly clicked or used by sales, and make sure each piece aligns with a persona and a particular stage in the buyer’s journey. Marketing with have data that demonstrates which pieces have the best digital responses; sales will know which ones work best with real people when it’s time to close an account.
  4. Integrate ABM into Your Multi-Channel Strategy—Sales and marketing both participate here, on different channels. Marketing will probably have the bigger piece of this pie—pushing out content on the website, social channels, email, etc. Sales, however, will still be integrating content into personal emails, phone calls, and meetings. Keeping this organized so that no target account receives the same content twice, or irrelevant content for their stage requires a sophisticated marketing automation platform and CRM.
  5. Measure and Optimize—It might be up to marketing to prepare this data, but it should be shared and reviewed with the entire ABM team on a regular basis. Marketing’s engagement metrics and sales’ pipeline metrics both crossover to ABM. Account-based strategies will also need to monitor and measure new contacts identified and mapped to accounts, and new leads engaged.

What’s happening here is that both sales and marketing have a stake in every step, but it has to be intentional. That alignment makes for a stronger strategy that, combined with a focus on targeted accounts, can make a big difference in conversions.

Bottom Line

ABM has proven its effectiveness for a growing number of businesses, but it can only be truly successful if both marketing and sales buy-in. This can seem like a hard sell for sales teams that are set in their ways and feel that what they’re already doing works. You need to drive home that a shift to ABM can work better. Ultimately, you are working toward a marketing sales partnership, but alignment is essential to reach partnership.

Your first step? Sell your internal customer first–the sales team. Write a pitch they can’t resist and present it with confidence. When they see the real potential of ABM, they’ll get on board without hesitation.

The post The Key to Successful ABM: Marketing and Sales Alignment appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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Sales Velocity: The Critical Sales Metric Your Team Probably Isn’t Measuring

The more quickly you can convert leads into paying customers, the more successful your business. Time is money, after all. Yet, the sales metric that reveals the most about both time and money—sales velocity—is commonly overlooked.

What is Sales Velocity?

Sales velocity is a measurement of how fast you’re making money. It looks at how quickly leads are moving through your pipeline and how much value new customers provide over a given period.

Why is it so Important to Track Sales Velocity?

Sales velocity plays a huge role in your business’ ability to thrive and grow. The less time it takes for prospects to move through your pipeline, the faster you can close more deals. So, a higher sales velocity means you’re bringing in more revenue in less time. Tracking sales velocity over time allows you to benchmark your own sales velocity against other teams, compare the effectiveness of individual reps or regions, and see how changes to the sales processes impact your business, for better or worse. Understanding sales velocity can also help you forecast more accurately and determine how your sales process can be optimized for faster sales and higher conversion rates at each stage.

This blog will show you how to measure sales velocity and identify any bottlenecks that might be slowing down your sales process so you can start bringing in more revenue, faster.

The 4 Key Variables That Impact Sales Velocity

Sales Velocity 1

There are four factors that affect sales velocity: the number of opportunities in your pipeline, average deal size, conversion rate, and how long it takes to complete a sale. Together, these metrics can be used to calculate sales velocity so you can track how it changes over time and, hopefully, figure out how to optimize your operations to make money faster.

1. Number of Opportunities

How many leads can your team work through in a given period? If you want to compare sales velocity internally, you can also break down opportunities by sales rep, region, or product.

2. Average Deal Size

For many businesses, this is simply the dollar value of an average sale. For SaaS companies or subscription-based products, average customer lifetime value is more relevant.

3. Win Rate or Conversion Rate

How many leads turn into paying customers over a given period? If you start with 100 leads and 40 of them become paying customers, you’ve got a win rate of 40%. Pretty straightforward.

4. Pipeline Length or Sales Cycle Length

How many days does it take for prospects to move through your pipeline? The answer depends on how many steps are in your sales cycle, how complex your product is, and the cost of your offering.

The Sales Velocity Formula

Figuring out your sales velocity requires taking a good hard look at your pipeline, sales cycle, lead nurturing processes, and average deal size.

The sales velocity formula requires the following pieces of data:

  • Number of opportunities in your pipeline
  • Dollar value of your average deal size
  • Customer conversion rate as a percentage of wins vs. losses
  • Average sales cycle in number of days

Calculate your sales velocity by multiplying the number of opportunities in your pipeline by dollar value of your average deal size and your win rate. Divide the result by the number of days in your typical sales cycle.

Sales Velocity 2


Let’s say your business has 50 opportunities, an average win rate of 25%, an average deal size of $ 10,000, and a sales cycle that typically lasts 60 days. Here’s how you could use the formula to determine sales velocity:

Sales velocity = (50 * .25 * $ 10,000) / 60

= $ 125,000 / 60

= $ 2083.33

This tells us that your sales velocity is $ 2083.33, which means you’re bringing in roughly that much revenue each day. Knowing this, you can either strive to increase the numerator (in this case, $ 125,000) or decrease the denominator (60 days)—or both, if possible.

That said, a one-off calculation doesn’t actually reveal much about the health of your business. To get the full picture, you need to put these numbers into context. The true value comes from consistently tracking sales velocity at regular intervals and using it to compare the effects of changes in your sales process.

How to Unblock Bottlenecks and Boost Your Sales Velocity

If you want to increase your sales velocity (and, really, what business doesn’t?), there are several approaches you can take. You can either increase your opportunities, conversion rate, or average deal size—or decrease the time it takes prospects to move through your pipeline. Ideally, you should continue with your current lead generation strategies while optimizing the other three factors.

  • Improve Your Conversion Rate: Increasing conversions requires finding, targeting, and nurturing sales-ready leads. In addition to refining your marketing and honing your lead qualification process, take some time to analyze your pipeline for leaks that need patching. For instance, are conversions dropping off or stalling at a certain step?
  • Optimize Your Average Deal Size: There are obvious benefits to landing high-value deals. However, bigger sales tend to take longer to close, so the real key to improving your sales velocity balancing high-value and low-value opportunities that allow your reps to manage their time effectively. Try to increase deal value using a combination of strategic discounts, tiered offerings, and cross-selling.
  • Shorten Your Sales Cycle: If deals are taking too long to close, try breaking down your sales process by step and keep an eye out for bottlenecks. Is there a particular stage slowing things down or taking too long? Is there software available to automate part of the process? Fixing up that problematic stage could shorten your entire sales cycle.

Use Sales Velocity to Accelerate Your Growth

If you ignore sales velocity and blindly focus on keeping your pipeline full, you’ll have tons of leads but not enough resources to move them through the pipeline, negotiate high-value deals, or convert prospects into customers. However, once you start measuring sales velocity, you’ll have the data and insights necessary to optimize your sales process from start to finish.

Have you been measuring sales velocity in your company? How has it helped you in winning sales? If you haven’t been measuring sales velocity, how might this change your plans for 2018? Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments.

The post Sales Velocity: The Critical Sales Metric Your Team Probably Isn’t Measuring appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Marketo Marketing Blog

Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Sleazy: 5 Real-World Examples

In my youth, a former coworker once told me, “I’d never date anyone who works in marketing.” When I inquired about his reasoning, he replied: “It’s just so sleazy. Choosing that line of work says a lot about a person.” Since I was young and impressionable, that sentiment stayed with me. So I was naturally
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How Blending Can Boost Your Business

Until 1991, being lost in a multilevel mall parking garage might have struck you as more frustrating than funny. But Seinfeld took that universal and unpleasant experience and made us laugh about it. Everyone has searched unsuccessfully for his or her car; everyone has had to smile while complimenting an ugly baby. Seinfeld simply showed viewers that these mundane moments could be (and are) profoundly hilarious.

Like many comedians, Jerry Seinfeld tapped into our stored knowledge, fused our differentiated experiences, and helped us realize that funny aha! moment that is widely understood. Although his show professed to be about nothing, it actually pushed viewers to envision themselves and their own lives through its four loopy characters.

By weaving such concrete observations about the world into surreal, witty plots, the show became a master at blending. Marketers can learn a lot about blending from Seinfeld, especially when it comes to navigating a modern marketplace that is as dynamic as it is diverse.

In this blog, I’ll cover why blended experiences benefit both the customer and the marketer, as well as three steps to introduce blended experiences into your marketing plan. 

Why We Want Blended Experiences

Blending is taking two products, services, or experiences and merging them into a new creation. Just like in comedy, much of business is uncovering and realizing insights that consumers haven’t been able to formally articulate or combine yet. And blending uses those ideas to render an innovation that gives brands a competitive edge.

As an adjunct professor, I’ve noticed that my students are increasingly attracted to blended products and experiences. They have smartphone apps to open their garage doors, and they buy food marketed as sustainable or shoes that double as a donation. Even personal experiences—having parents from different cultures, experiencing different cuisines—show how blending is influencing consumer behavior.

Marketers can take advantage of this trend by looking for blending opportunities in their brands’ outreach. Part of consumers’ readiness for blending derives from how global the world has become, especially given the rise of technology. Free apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber make it possible to communicate worldwide in real time, and social media and other sharing sites expose people to events in literally every corner of the globe.

People young and old are no longer thinking or operating in silos, set categories, or boxes. So neither should your marketing.

How to Start Blending

Successful blending hinges on insight into what consumers are looking for and the prevailing technological and cultural trends that could make a blended product, service, or experience desirable. Once marketers have these insights, they can strategically decide how to evolve their brands.

Here are three tips to make blending work for your brand:

Look Before You Leap

Just as Seinfeld’s incisive observations and formulations made the show such a hit, businesses wanting to blend must meticulously study their target markets.

Smashing two concepts together doesn’t automatically make a successful blend and could actually render something your consumers hate. For instance, Frito-Lay created a Cheetos lip balm. Even though there might be a spot on a Venn diagram where lovers of Cheetos and haters of chapped lips cross, an intricate look at the market could’ve predicted that these were products best left apart.

Measuring reactions to a potential innovation before building a concept through efforts like focus groups is essential to successful blending.

Don’t Imitate; Do Understand

We know that consumers are open to blending, but a great way to hone the scope of innovation is to see what other blended products your consumers love. Then, start your development there.

Tesla, for example, set a new standard for the automobile by merging technology with sustainability. Moreover, it created a car that has transformed how consumers think about transportation. If your consumer base aligns with the Tesla market, consider ways you could blend your own technology with environmental-friendliness.

That said, buy-in is easier to achieve these days given consumers’ willingness for blending, which should embolden you to take chances on insight-driven innovations.

Blend What You Know

Blending-based innovations can take your brand to a new level. But new product development is always riskier than revising an existing product, and you may find that your new products, services, or experiences have more footing in the marketplace when those innovations involve uniting concepts your consumers already value.

When Taco Bell and Frito-Lay got together in 2012 to create the Doritos Locos Taco, they sold 100 million units in the first 10 weeks, according to Fast Company. Once the first Doritos Locos Taco was a hit, the companies felt more freedom to variate the theme, creating Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos and Flamas Doritos Locos Tacos. Still, and although a Doritos-based taco shell is novel, the product’s initial success was founded on blending two known and widely popular commodities.

While Seinfeld didn’t discover that low talkers can be painful to endure or that double-dipping chips is gross, it reframed those singularities into global experiences that audiences worldwide find funny. Blended products, services, and experiences help us see the world in a new light and find the familiar in something new. But only when these blends rely on insights into the micro- and macro-level trends driving purchasing behaviors and decisions and consumer conversations do they drive a brand’s success.

What successes have you had with blending? What potential do you see in creating a blended product or experience for your customers? Tell me about what you’re envisioning in the comments.

The post How Blending Can Boost Your Business appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Marketo Marketing Blog

Here’s a Quick Sneak Peek at This Year’s Massive Black Friday Discount

The crowds. The lines. The noise. The endless circling to find parking. Black Friday is an American institution — and for good reason. Commerce is king, humans like to save money, and Black Friday marries those two together unlike any other date on the calendar. But over the last handful of years, something has come
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The Most Powerful Writing Voice for 21st-Century Content

In the beginning was authority. From the earliest days of advertising, authority was one of the first strategies used to persuade the masses. Then, a lot of us started using this internet thing to talk to one another. There was some speculation that authority was becoming an outdated concept. But it’s funny how these things
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