The Beginners Guide to Online Marketing

The Beginners Guide to Online Marketing

Chapter Fourteen

Written by Neil Patel & Ritika Puri

Loose Ends:
the Community Weighs In

What’s better than one smart marketer? Two smart marketers.

And what’s better than two smart marketers? Three.

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 find is that the best marketers are always eager and willing to help.

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 awesome to leave hanging.

Luckily, we have these stories to end this guide the right way. With amazingly creative 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.

One question. Three very different brains. Three amazing answers.

Here are words of wisdom from some of our favorite marketers:

Emma Siemasko founder at Frog2Prince, freelance writer,
and content marketing specialist at Grasshopper

  • Words of Wisdom

    • Don’t be afraid to get completely out there
    • Delight your customers on a personal level
    • Have a blast
    • Don’t be afraid to try something new and leverage offline channels

    I’m Emma Siemasko, the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneur’s phone system. I was hired by Grasshopper to help create unique, engaging, 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, generate buzz (and have people write about us), and separate ourselves from our competitors. 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/entrepreneurs/our audience in a fun, engaging, and offbeat way. We didn’t want to create a standard guide like everyone ele is making on the internet (we do have guides, too, but I really wanted to do something different), so we decided to make a startup magic 8 ball.

  • Goals

    • Make people laugh
    • Have people use the tool
    • Reach entrepreneurs/startup founders/small business owners
    • Combine a piece of online content with an offline marketing campaign to see how it worked
    • Do something different
    • Try out a new and unique promotion strategy
    • Try to do something worth writing/talking/blogging about and linking to (Guess it worked because we're being featured in this guide!)
  • Methodology/Approach

    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 (think Neil Patel, Guy Kawasaki), I decided to send the cards to the people who were active on social media 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 whose stuff I often read. I sent 25 cards. I did research on each person I mailed cards to (so easy in the internet age!) 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.

  • Results

    • Magic 8 Ball was 5th most visited page on our site, behind our main page, sign-up, and a couple other features pages. This was huge.
    • People asked the 8 Ball over 1500 questions.
    • We also saw a fair amount of success on reddit. I particularly liked this response, as it showed how content has the power to place us as a first choice, above our competitors:

      Maybe your marketing will scare some people.

      It’s okay. Because you’ll inspire someone else.

      And those smiles matter more than anything.

  • Changes in direction

    Originally we wanted to automatically show the questions people asked, but we realized 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:

    • Should I hire more employees at my startup?
    • Should I stay in the real estate business?
    • Is it better to outsource your manufacturing?
    • Can we survive loss of revenue?
    • Will I be able to quit my job this time next year?
    • Do I have enough seed money to start my business?
    • Does my competitor have a better product than I do?
    • My friends think my job is cool, right?
  • Successes & Failures

    The biggest success is that this got people talking, just as we hoped. It generated social engagement, and people were (and still are) 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 page to direct them around our site so that they could see all the other cool stuff we have! This will be a focus for the next campaign.

  • Final Learnings & Thoughts

    • Make sure you funnel people if you have them visiting a piece of content
    • Volume counts. We saw about 7 responses for 25 cards, which is pretty good. Imagine if we’d sent out 5 times as many cards.

Dave Rogers digital analytics expert, testing champion,
and principal at ConvertClick

Words of Wisdom

  • The social web is the heart of online marketing
  • Adopt a long-term view of today’s content > social >leads lifecycle
  • Built a storyline into your analytics and reporting

“Reporting is no good unless you have the analysis to back up your findings. There’s always a story in today’s marketing world. It’s more than numbers. It’s more implex.”

“Without the storyline, I think that everything would stagnate. We need marketers to can get behind the story and truly flesh it out.”

“Optimization is stronger when you have the story to back it up. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What isn’t working? How do you stand behind your findings?

“The goal of marketing, content marketing in particular, is to boost shares. And then there’s an equally important learning component. What customers and businesses have in common is that they’re both running campaigns to learn.”

“I would say that 50% of your marketing outcomes should be learning. These findings will funnel into the other 50%. ROI. In marketing, Learning fuels ROI.”

Scott Walker co-founder and lead at Underwater Audio

Words of Wisdom

  • Conversion optimization is the key to boosting sales on your website.
  • Always be testing
  • Be relentlessly committed to data
  • You can always be better, so push yourself

Recently, Underwater Audio tested two versions of a product page. The idea was simple — to provide customers with the best experience possible, with the intent of boosting conversions.

Here was the original page:

Here was the variation:

And here were the results of the test — a dramatic 41% improvement over the original.

Lars Lofgren growth manager at KISSMetrics

Words of Wisdom

  • Build the overall framework, not just the campaign
  • Creating a marketing strategy is much like building a new product

A good example is how we drive signups is with free offers of some kind, like 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 campaign to launch in the next week or so.

When I first launched the SaaS Marketing Bundle, the conversion rate on the landing page was about 13%. This was traffic coming directly from the blog by clicking 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 conversion rates to other businesses or different types of campaigns. Small differences in how you drive traffic, structure your funnel, and pitch your offer completely change your conversion rates. At the end of the day, the quality of your traffic has a 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. First you have to validate your model. Can you acquire traffic and signups? But once 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.

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing is multifaceted. You ask three marketers the exact same question, and they’re likely to give you three different responses. Embrace it. Let others’ 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 strategy will be even more awesome.
  • Learn from the community always. Read blogs.
  • Even for seasoned marketers, the word ‘marketing’ means something very different. Be aware of these nuances. Create a strong vision for what marketing means for you.