Tag Archives: competition

4 Ways to SEO Proof Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

influencer marketing and SEO

A few years ago, there was a joke that was going around on the internet. It goes something like this: “What is the best place to hide evidence of your wrongdoings? Page 2 of Google Search results!” While the joke itself may have been created in good humor, it does imply something extremely important. It’s crucial for businesses to compete for higher visibility in search results. Consumers are more dependent on the internet than any other medium, making search ranking crucial for businesses to attract potential customers. More often than not, people only look at the first page of search…

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4 Ways to SEO Proof Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

What is Web Spam?

Web Spam: Intentional attempts to manipulate search engine rankings for specific keywords or keyword phrase queries. But isn’t that what SEO is? Trying to get your website content to rank better in search engine results? Well… There’s a fine line between doing everything you can to give your website content the best shot at ranking well in the search engines, vs. trying every sneaky trick possible. The Old Days of Web Spam – Keywords, Keywords, Keywords Everywhere! The first search engines (Lycos, HotBot, AltaVista to name a few) used a fairly basic approach to ranking webpages. For the most part,…

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What is Web Spam?

Master Your Next Feature Launch: How Vimeo Uses Unbounce Landing Pages to Go to Market Faster

You’re a product marketer and it’s five weeks away from a major launch.

The office is buzzing with excitement and tensions are rising by the day. Your marketing team is busy prepping all the essential pieces in your marketing launch toolkit, from email communications to paid advertising to PR initiatives and beyond.

But something’s missing.

Your website needs updating to reflect the launch of your new feature or product… and then you need somewhere to send your paid campaign traffic.

If you’re relying on your developers to build a new page for you, it could take weeks (or longer). Besides, shifting your devs’ focus away from the product launch probably isn’t the best use of their time. Adding work to their plates could mean having to delay going to market (and miss your launch deadlines) — and that could be deadly for business.

The marketing team at Vimeo has experienced this stress first-hand. Garrett Bugbee, Manager of Search and International Marketing, recently described to me how product launches have put a strain on his team in the past:

We had a huge creative backlog, especially during product launches. We relied on our devs to build our pages for us. It was a slow and painful process, from design to the kick-off meetings and then actually waiting for it to be built and QA’d… It was a massive issue.

Fast forward to today, Garrett and his team have removed many of these pre-launch bottlenecks. When it came time to launch their new product, Vimeo 360, they’d mastered the art of going to market with new products on time and on budget.

So what’s Vimeo’s secret recipe to making every product launch a smash hit?

Garrett teases at it in the video below. Have a look, or read on for the blueprint to their success.

Make every product a smash hit: Watch this video to learn how Vimeo removed bottlenecks from their launches so they could go to market faster.

Meet Vimeo and their latest product, Vimeo 360

As one of the internet’s most popular video sharing websites, Vimeo attracts more than 100 million unique visitors per month and is home to over 50 million creators worldwide (and counting).

As their popularity increases so too does the competition.

In order to stay on top, Vimeo has to evolve and innovate. With at least four new video products or features being introduced to the platform each year, a failed launch for Vimeo could mean a loss of thousands (dare we say millions) in company dollars, so there’s infinite pressure to get it right — every time.

You can imagine then, the pressure that Garrett (the hero from our intro) must have felt when he and his team set out to launch Vimeo 360, a new product that allows users to upload 360-degree videos in stunning high quality:

Because some of Vimeo’s competitors were already dabbling in 360-degree video, Garrett knew they had to launch quickly — and with a splash:

It’s a tool that other platforms have already, and it’s something that we wanted to give our creators so they have a new venue for expression and a new way to produce, make and showcase content.

Removing bottlenecks from the campaign launch

Vimeo’s main goal for the 360 launch was to drive engagement, measured by new subscribers and 360 video uploads.

While part of their homepage was to briefly feature Vimeo 360, Garrett and his team wanted to build out a page to better explain the product and all the amazing things it could do, including:

  • An example of a 360 video for prospects who were not yet familiar with the technology (shown above)
  • A showcase of 360 video content created by some of Vimeo’s power users
  • A detailed breakdown of features that make Vimeo 360 stand a cut above the rest (high-quality resolution, intuitive controls, powerful integrations)
  • A promo for their 360 video school, which teaches creators of all stripes to make better videos

That’s a lot of heavy lifting for a website that is also serving a general audience, so Garrett and his team turned to Unbounce to create a click-through landing page for their campaign:

Garrett’s team used Unbounce design features like parallax scroll to appeal to his visually-inclined user base. Click to view full-length landing page.

Beautiful isn’t it?

Garrett explained why empowering his marketing team to build this page themselves was key:

The big benefit here is the flexibility we have to produce a marketing-specific landing page without the help of our engineering team.

Our devs get to focus on building a great product, and we can focus on designing a page built specifically for marketing purposes without pulling our front-end devs away from their work. We can go to market a lot faster by parallel-pathing both the product build and the page build.

Don’t pull devs away from work – your marketing team can build launch landing pages themselves.
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The best part? The campaign landing page that the Vimeo marketing team created drove engagement, which was the campaign goal.

Garrett explains:

[Using scroll mapping,] we saw people scrolling all the way down the page, interacting with the content throughout. It really achieved the goal which was to drive engagement, not just with our paid subscribers but with everybody on the platform.

Better performing paid and social advertising campaigns

A beautiful, engaging landing page is well and good, but at the end of the day, your boss wants hard numbers that show that your campaigns performed.

Since adding dedicated campaign landing pages to their marketing launch toolkit, Vimeo has also seen better results for their paid and social advertising campaigns.

Some paid ads created by Vimeo for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, the Google Display Network and DoubleClick Bid Manager.

Before Unbounce, Garrett humbly admits that they were letting their website get in the way of their campaign success:

Before Unbounce, we simply directed prospects to a page [on our website] with a pricing grid, and that’s pretty extreme to just throw that in someone’s face right away.

But now that Vimeo is sending paid traffic to product launch-specific landing pages like the one above (as opposed to generic pages like their /upload/ page and homepage), their campaigns are kicking serious butt. Check out these impressive results:

  • 730% increase in subscribers from 360-related paid keywords
  • 4529% increase in total video uploads from 360-related paid keywords

Bonus: Dedicated landing pages aren’t only bringing Vimeo better campaign results — Garrett explained that they’re also improving user experience and Google’s relevance score:

Unbounce has allowed us to target specific landing pages for top keywords, which is a huge win. I think that this one of the best use cases for Unbounce.

You can use Dynamic Text Replacement or make specific pages, and you just target your top terms, it’s highly relevant… I have complete control of that experience and that’s the marketer’s dream.

Unbounce’s Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) feature gives Garrett and his team the capability to swap out text on their landing page — so that their ads and landing pages present exactly what visitors searched for.

Unbounce’s Ryan Engley explains how Dynamic Text Replacement works. See DTR in action here.

That level of message match across the entire buyer journey is key to strong PPC performance.

When prospects click on an ad and see a landing page with a headline that matches exactly what they searched for, they’re reassured that they’ve made a “good click” and are more likely to stick around (and even convert) — and that in turn positively impacts Quality Score in AdWords.

What you can learn from Vimeo’s success

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Vimeo’s 360 campaign, it’s this:

Yes, product launches are a lot a pressure, but they don’t have to be painfulnot when marketing teams are empowered to move nimbly without bottlenecks.

According to Garrett, it’s all about focusing on your core competencies:

With Unbounce, we can now generate marketing-specific landing pages quickly and easily and translate those across different languages.

It takes the pressure off our devs and engineers, and lets them focus on what’s core — what’s vital to the business — which is building video tools for creators. We handle the marketing side.

By making Unbounce landing pages an essential part of your marketing launch toolkit, not only can you gain the competitive edge by going to market faster, you’ll also:

  • Free up dev resources so they can focus on building and innovating your product
  • Convert more prospects by sending paid traffic to relevant, high-converting pages
  • Create beautifully designed pages that showcase your product in the best light possible
  • Make your boss really happy by saving the company precious time and money

And that folks, is why you should NSAPLCWADLP… Never Start A Product Launch Campaign Without A Dedicated Landing Page. ;)

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Master Your Next Feature Launch: How Vimeo Uses Unbounce Landing Pages to Go to Market Faster

Save the Date for Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference 2017 [Discount Code Inside]


I know you’re busy, so let’s cut to the chase.

Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference is back on June 25th – June 27th in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.

What’s in it for you?

First off, we’ve carefully curated a star-studded speaker lineup that includes the likes of Mari Smith, Scott StrattenKindra Hall and Rand Fishkin. See the full agenda here. (Fun fact: We made a pledge to have 50% female speakers this year, and we stuck to it.)


Additionally, unlike other conferences where you’re torn between tracks, this conference is single-track. No need to miss a thing or weigh up your love for PPC or CRO. You can have it all and bring back stellar takeaways to your team on each of their respective specialities. #Teamplayer

We’re also working closely with our speakers to ensure talks are as actionable as possible. (This is our conference’s promise).

Explore the topics below to see featured talks and get a sense for the ones most exciting to you:


Jonathan Dane — The PPC Performance Pizza

Jonathan DaneIn this session, Johnathan will cover 8 ways to make any PPC channel work with positive ROI. He’ll guide you through a simple framework, The PPC Performance Pizza, that will double performance on any PPC channel, from Google Adwords to Facebook.

You’ll learn:

  • How to use search, social, display, and video PPC to your advantage
  • Which channels and offers work best in tandem for more conversions
  • The frameworks KlientBoost uses to double your performance within 90 days

Rand Fishkin — The Search Landscape In 2017

Rand FishkinMuch has changed (and is changing) in SEO, leaving us with an uncertain future. In this talk, the one and only Rand Fishkin will share his view on the search landscape 2017, dive into data on how users behave in search engines, explain what the election of Donald Trump means to site owners and, most importantly provide you with the essential tactics every marketer should embrace to be prepared for the changes.

You’ll learn:

  • How has search behavior changed and what does it mean for marketers seeking organic search traffic
  • What new tactics and strategies are required to stay ahead of the competition in SEO
  • How might new US government policies affect the web itself and future platform and web marketing opportunities

Amy Harrison — The Customer Disconnect: How Inside-Out Copy Makes You Invisible

Amy HarrisonWhen you write copy, there are 3 critical elements: What you KNOW about your product, what you WRITE about your product, and what your customer THINKS you mean. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to have a disconnect between all three, and when that happens, customer’s don’t realize the true value of what you have to offer. In this talk, you’ll identify any disconnect in your own marketing, and learn how to write copy that breaks through the noise, differentiates your brand, and speaks to your customers’ desires.

You’ll learn:

  • How to recognize if you even HAVE a disconnect
  • How to beat the blank page – know what to include for every piece of copy you create
  • How to make even commoditized products sound different and fresh to your customer

Mari Smith — Winning Facebook Advertising Strategies: 5 Powerful Ways To Leverage Your Results & ROI

Mari SmithFacebook is constantly adding new features, new products and new ad units. What works today and what’s a waste of time and money? How should marketing teams, agencies and brands focus their ad spend for maximum results? In this dynamic session, world-renowned Facebook marketing expert, Mari Smith, will answer these questions and more.

You’ll learn:

  • Simple processes for maximizing paid reach to build a steady flow of top qualified leads
  • How to make your Facebook advertising dollars go much further, and generate an even higher ROI
  • The top ten biggest mistakes marketers make with their Facebook ads and how to fix them

Michael Aagaard – Your Brain Is Lying To You: Become A Better Marketer By Overcoming Confirmation Bias

Michael AagaardHave you ever resisted or ignored a piece of info because it posed a threat to your worldview? If you answered “yes,” you’re like most other human beings on the planet. In fact, according to the last 40 years of cognitive research, favouring information confirming your worldview is extremely common human behaviour. Unfortunately, being biased towards information confirming what we already believe often leads to errors in judgment and costly mistakes in marketing. But how can we overcome this?

You’ll learn:

  • The facts about confirmation bias and why it is such a dangerous pitfall for marketers
  • A framework for becoming aware of and overcoming your own confirmation bias
  • Hands-on techniques for cutting through the clutter and getting information rather than confirmation

Did we mention the workshops?

We’re bringing back workshops (see Sunday’s tab on the agenda) and we’ve tailored the topics based on your feedback. We’ll be talking hyper-targeted overlays, how agencies can leverage landing pages and getting people to swipe right on your landing page. The best part? They’re all included in your ticket price. Most importantly, marketers who purchase CTAConf tickets, get notified first once registration for workshops opens. Workshops were standing room only last year and we’re bringing them back bigger than ever, so first dibs on registration’s a real bonus.

Finally, we want you to have a ton of fun while you learn. We’re talkin’ 8 food trucks, incredible after parties, all the dog hoodies you can handle, wacky activities and full access to the recordings of every session. SPOILER: we’re looking into renting a Ferris wheel (seriously, this is a thing).

Convinced? Grab your tickets here.

(Hey, blog reader. Yeah, you. We like you. Get 15% off ticket price when you use discount code blogsentme.” That’s cheaper than our early bird price.)

Want to see the excitement in action?

Here’s a peek at what we got up to last year:

The countdown is on

Regardless or whether you’re a PPC specialist, conversion copywriter, full-stack marketer or living that agency life, we’ve got something in store for you. Our workshops and talks touch on everything marketing: pay-per-click, agencies, copywriting, conversion rate optimization, landing page optimization, branding and storytelling, email marketing, customer success, search engine optimization and product marketing.

Check out the full agenda here.


See you at the conference (and on that Ferris wheel)!

Grab your tickets here and remember to use discount code “blogsentme” at checkout for 15% off that ticket price!

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Save the Date for Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference 2017 [Discount Code Inside]

How to Supercharge Growth and Overcome Competition with Added Value

Working in a competitive, oversaturated industry is not easy. There are dozens of similar companies, each and every one fighting for the same customers. If you are working in an industry like that, how do you survive? Undercutting the competition on prices is not sustainable. Sooner or later the margins will become so small that you will start losing money. You can start developing a new feature or improve what you already offer, but that takes a lot of time and resources. However, there are some other ways you can grab the attention of potential customers. You can add value…

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How to Supercharge Growth and Overcome Competition with Added Value

Resolving User Pain Points Across eCommerce Conversion Funnel

As reported by Internet Retailer, the projected online global consumer spending by 2019 will more than double to $3.551 trillion of the global spending in 2015, accounting for 12.4% of the total retail sales.  These numbers show that consumer inclination toward online shopping is increasing. However, the gap between what consumers want and what they get is also widening. This is where the importance of providing visitors a friction-free experience across an eCommerce conversion funnel stems from.

Competition also has been becoming increasingly fierce. Global marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba are eating into a large share of the retail market. Numbers from Ecommerce News suggest that by 2020, Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba will own at least 40% of the global retail market. eCommerce enterprises and retailers, however, are confident that they can one-up players like eBay by providing enhanced customer experience and services.

eCommerce enterprises also realize that the modern consumer/customer journey is complex. Empowered and informed consumers neither have the patience nor any reason to buy from eCommerce establishments that fail to provide instant gratification.

In this blog post, we talk about how eCommerce enterprises can smooth out friction at each stage of the eCommerce conversion funnel—awareness, consideration, and purchase. We discuss how enterprises, regardless of where the customer enters the funnel, can provide an enhanced and optimized customer experience.

Addressing Pain Points at the Awareness Stage

A consumer at the awareness stage already has a preconceived notion, which is molded by social and digital content. The ability of consumers to create, absorb, and distribute information has increased manifold. The following Deloitte Consumer Review 2014, which represents consumer attitude toward digital content, validates the same.

user engagement through digital content

To stand a chance of gaining user attention/awareness in the digital eCommerce arena, online enterprises need to ensure that they have a strong digital content strategy in place, which consists of formulating a clear objective, understanding the target audience, determining the brand’s voice, and more.

Let’s also not forget the impact of search engine optimization on accessibility and online presence. Forbes talks about SEO key trends 2016 for eCommerce, highlighting the measures that enterprises can ensure  to grow their online presence . A MOZ post discusses the changing face of search in the age of video transcription.

With mobile usage on the rise, consumers expect high quality and variety of content to be available on their smartphones. However, according to BrightEdge Content Engagement Report 2015, more than 1 in 4 mobile sites is misconfigured, which results in an average 68% loss of smartphone traffic to that content. These statistics don’t frame a great picture, given that the Google searches via mobile have already surpassed desktop searches.

While eCommerce enterprises need to optimize quality content for awareness through search, they need to do so with the goal of acquiring quality traffic. Analyze where most of your traffic is coming from. Go a step further to find out the traffic sources that are driving most engagements.

After you have figured out the traffic sources that are driving most conversions, you can create a winning user engagement strategy for those channels. Here’s an interesting case study on how Michael Kors integrates Instagram and other social media to boost eCommerce and store revenue.

awareness stage strategy example for eCommerce

Addressing Pain Points at the Consideration Stage

A consumer at the consideration stage is well aware of your existence. The problem for eCommerce enterprises to address at this stage is understanding their visitors’ intent and motivations—what do the visitors want and what would make them convert. Addressing the following questions can help eCommerce enterprises ease the users’ pain points.:

  • Why certain visitors don’t buy right away while others do?
  • What can alter a visitor’s buying behavior?
  • What distractions can put off a potential customer?

Taking a predictive action approach at this stage of the funnel is one way of dealing with the friction before it happens. This approach requires creating customer personas, mapping user journeys to understand how users interact and engage with your website, and then using this information to work out tactics that ease user interactions and experiences.

Visitor recordings and heatmaps, as well as user feedback gathering tools such as on-page surveys, can be deployed by eCommerce enterprises to gain clear insights into the what and why of on-site behaviors of visitors.

Losing potential customers to competition at the consideration stage is another big challenge for eCommerce enterprises. Although an understanding of customer intent and motivation can make visitors’ experiences delightful—even to the extent that they  come back or spread a positive word around—there are high chances that even a positive on-site experience doesn’t make them buy from you.

Reason? Visitors at any stage of conversion are continuously relying on their own research and user-generated and influencer-generated content to reconsider their purchase decision.

Influencing Purchase at the Consideration Stage

There are a number of things influencing buyer behavior at the consideration stage. A ready-to-convert visitor might interact with your website and go back to the consideration stage if he/she is able to find a better deal elsewhere.

One of Harvard Business Review posts talk about why users need not choose a fixed path to conversion. An extract from the same HBR article is quoted below:
“Julie Bornstein, CMO at Sephora, has seen social media change how people buy beauty products. Recommendations from friends have always been important, but now these recommendations spread ‘quicker, faster, and further’ at every stage in the funnel. The decision on what to buy increasingly comes from advocates who share their experience in a way that pulls in new customers and informs their purchase decision. Sephora’s response has been to bring all the stages of the funnel together at a single place, creating its own online community where people can ask experts and each other about brands, products, and techniques.” 

From a user’s perspective, User-Generated Content (UGC) helps build trust  and mitigates the fear of buying, which could otherwise have been a huge point of friction. It has also changed the way eCommerce businesses build engagement. For a complete picture on how UGC can be leveraged, check out this article by MAVSOCIAL. Using trust seals and testimonials is equally important for easing out the fear of being cheated or misled. For more insights on the importance of trust, read how this eCommerce business established credibility by adding a trust badge and increased its conversion rate by 72.05%.

The takeaway here is to keep the visitor engaged through your eCommerce website and build trust. This can be achieved using a good mix of predictive analysis, user-generated content, and leveraging principles of persuasion that can turn user buying behavior in your favor (consider FOMO). User interface is another parameter that eCommerce enterprises must test and improve for driving more visitor engagement at the consideration stage of the funnel.

Addressing Pain Points at the Conversion Stage

The decision is made in your favor, and the visitor is going through the checkout on your site to buy the product. What could stop a visitor from converting at this stage? Is it that the visitor’s preferred mode of payment was not available? Is it that your shipping costs are exorbitantly high? VWO’s Shopping Cart Abandonment Report 2016 states, “One-fourth of the respondents will not check out if they encounter unexpected shipping cost.”

Regardless of the length of the checkout, the goal for eCommerce enterprises should always be to make the checkout distraction-free.

Consider Amazon’s example: At checkout, they have only two options listed—place order or close the window. Not providing unnecessary navigation options on the checkout eliminates distraction at this final step.

Amazon's example of distraction free navigation

A thorough usability study for their checkout can help eCommerce enterprises find out what needs to be fixed and what can be made better. Here’s a usability benchmark of 100 eCommerce sites that have been ranked by Baymard, according to their checkout usability performance.

eCommerce checkout usability performance benchmark

Another article by Baymard talks about mobile checkout usability, which is no less important than website optimization, considering that people are browsing their phones more than ever. However, there is still a huge potential for retailers to drive conversions directly from mobile.

Optimizing for mobiles and tablets becomes all the more important because consumers often browse one device and buy from another. The meandering that happens between different devices before a visitor converts, requires eCommerce enterprises to track and analyze cross-device behaviors.


An ideal funnel in the current dynamically changing times is not only the one that drives more conversions, but also the one that is able to provide exactly what customers want. Whether consumers are in the awareness, consideration, or conversion stage of the buying journey, eCommerce enterprises can help improve the online buying experience by understanding and addressing frictions at each stage.

What do you suggest can ease user pain-points at each stage of the eCommerce conversion funnel? Comment and let us know.

CTA Solving user pain-points in eCommerce conversion funnel

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Resolving User Pain Points Across eCommerce Conversion Funnel

The Definitive Guide to Agency Marketing Automation

Nurturing seeds
Grow, little leads, grow! Image via Shutterstock.

Most agency websites suck. (For the longest time, mine was no different.)

But it’s not your fault.

You’re strapped for time as it is — too busy running around, responding to clients ASAP and leaving little-to-no time for yourself.

This problem can be extended to most agency promotional efforts. Your blog struggles for consistent publishing. Social could use some work. Outgoing emails are inconsistent at best.

Marketing automation can help dramatically, but it’s typically only reserved for clients.

Well not anymore. Because spending just a few hours setting up an effective email automation workflow can net you 20% more sales opportunities, letting you spend more time focusing on your current clients.

Here are a few sample workflows to show you how any agency can start employing its own marketing automation campaigns to nurture leads, close clients and onboard them painlessly.

Sample automation email workflows

An introductory guide to marketing automation

When used properly, marketing automation can deliver a 451% increase in qualified leads. It can also increase average sales by 34%.

79% of the best marketers have already been using marketing automation for years now.

But… it’s typically only the largest marketing teams who’re implementing successfully.

While 60%+ of marketers use email to keep in touch with customers and prospects, only around 13% use marketing automation. (Despite the fact that marketing automation can deliver twice as many leads as the normal mass email approach.)

Even more concerning, only 85% of B2B marketers reportedly feel like they’re not using it to its fullest extent.

That’s a shame. Because beyond the amazing lead nurturing powers we’ve already discussed, it’s ALSO one of the best ways to scale the efforts of any small, scrappy team looking for an automated way to nurture prospective leads (so it’s not another thing that falls into the lap of the founder, principal or partner).

Marketing automation is also an excellent agency tactic because it perfectly aligns with a consultative sales process that you should be using (here’s a primer on SPIN selling I wrote for HubSpot with more background information).

Here’s how it works.

Using one of your favorite email marketing tools (we use and love HubSpot and recommend AutopilotHQ as an alternative, but you can even use MailChimp if money’s tight) you can set up workflows that automatically trigger pre-crafted emails at predetermined intervals.

Example workflow

Each of these workflows should have a goal or objective, like “Fill out Form XYZ” or “Purchase Widget ABC”. When someone on your email list achieves your desired goal, they’re automatically removed from this list so they don’t receive any other now-irrelevant offers. (Many times you’ll even simultaneously add them automatically to a new workflow in order to achieve a different purpose.)

You can also get uber-nerdy, creating different If, Then conditional statements for people who DO (or don’t) open or click an email, creating endless branches of customization until your heart’s content.

Agencies and marketers everywhere commonly implement this stuff for clients. It ain’t brain surgery. For example, ecommerce shops commonly have ‘Cart Abandonment Workflows’ that follow up with people who add products to their cart but don’t follow through with a purchase.

For example, you can sweeten the deal with a timely discount or free shipping. You can also introduce scarcity by urging people to purchase one of the last remaining items before they run out of stock. Or, highlight any other limited-time bonus, like Audible sent me recently:

Audible email

These emails are popular, because they work. Personalized, timely emails like this result in 14% better click-throughs and 10% better conversion rates.

Marketers are very familiar with setting these up for clients. Trouble is, they rarely set them up for themselves.

It’s obviously not a lack of knowledge or skill. It’s usually some combination of meeting existing client deadlines, responding to urgent requests and pricing out new projects.

But don’t worry, because I’ve already done the work for you. Simply adjust the following workflows for your own agency.

Maximize Your Conversions with Email Campaigns

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Workflow #1: site visitors -> interested contacts

Your first objective is to grab the attention of current website visitors and turn them into interested contacts.

These are people who aren’t quite leads yet, but can be in the future if you nurture them properly (and if the timing is right for them).

People at the top of the funnel (TOFU, in HubSpot parlance) lack awareness for your services. (In other words, they don’t necessarily realize that they need you just yet.) More likely, they’re looking for SEO tips, web design trends or similarly educational, information-based content.

Grab people’s interest with topic-focused content offers. Viral-inducing infographics are perfect, like this excellent Landing Page Anatomy gifographic from KlientBoost.

At the bottom of the post, you’ll see the customary CTA featuring a proposal offer.

KlientBoost CTA

Most people find your blog posts through one of two ways:

  1. Referrals (at the beginning)
  2. Organic search (over the long-term)

Blog posts like the example above that targets “Landing Page Anatomy” will generally bring people in through organic search. As such, they’re probably looking for information and education. (In other words, they’re likely not looking for expensive, custom, done-for-you services quite yet.)

One thing to try testing here if these people aren’t ready to talk proposals, is to try a softer sell with a downloadable guide, checklist, ebook and so on.

The benefit of leading with a soft sell (i.e., downloadable guide) over a hard one (i.e., consultation) is getting more leads to opt-in, giving you the chance to nurture them over time with inbound marketing campaigns.

IMPACT does something similar right on their homepage, offering a free guide to download immediately.

Impact homepage form

Workflow #2: interested contacts -> marketing leads

The second step is to subtly get your new interested contacts to raise their hand and become a marketing lead.

That gives you the cue to begin proceeding with a more direct, hard sale.

How exactly?

Continue building interest and trust in your services through case studies and other educational resources that bridge the gap between information and solutions your services offer.

You can get super sophisticated with clever lead scoring techniques that give you quantifiable averages based on pageviews, site visitors and more. But that’s time consuming and imprecise.

If we’re emphasizing speed here, just create a basic service-related offer and ask people to download it if they’re interested.

For example, when you try reaching out to San Diego firm Digital Telepathy, they’ll send you a playbook which provides some more details about how they work (and what you can expect).

Playbook form

People who make this subtle transition to inquiring about your services are now entering that middle of the funnel (MOFU) step. By filling out a service-related form on your website, they’re  expressing explicit interest in what you have to offer.

Digital Telepathy uses their Playbook to provide more information about how their services work. However you can also use a calculator-like tool to show the ROI, or even a video/webinar that details what a typical project looks like (and what it might cost).

Here’s a simple cadence to get them there:

  • Day 3: Tips article
  • Day 7: Opinion article
  • Day 10: CTA – MOFU offer
  • Day 14: Tips article
  • Day 17: Opinion article
  • Day 20: CTA – MOFU offer
  • Day 24: Tips article
  • Day 27: Opinion article
  • Day 30: CTA – MOFU offer

These emails should be personal and largely unstyled, because the one thing that separates services companies is YOU. Everyone “does SEO” or “designs websites.” Look around at the biggest agencies, and you’ll quickly notice they’re selling themselves, their people and their culture.

Codeless email

From a design standpoint, this email sucks. Especially that awkward looking guy’s face. But it’s personal, meant to prioritize a one-on-one connection (rather than our design brilliance).

And most importantly, it was easy to create. If marketers can strip away additional required resources (e.g., design and development), you can speed up creation and deployment (which is critical if you’re building out ~30 of these over the next few days).

PRO TIP: Upload your segmented email list (for example, one ‘group’ or segmented list for each step of the funnel discussed so far) to create a Facebook Ad Custom Audience and run remarketing campaigns to make multi-channel marketing a practical, scalable and affordable reality for scrappy upstarts.

Workflow #3: marketing leads -> sales leads

People can be qualified as a marketing lead when they’ve met some basic criteria and shown some interest in your services.

You want to move people from the middle of the funnel (MOFU) to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

The goal is to turn these middle of the funnel (MOFU) leads into ones ready to move into the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) and get on the phone to discuss scope, pricing and more.


Benchmark your prospect against the competition to quickly highlight where they are now with where they want to be (or where their competition already is).

Here’s the next workflow cadence to implement:

  • Day 3: Detailed ‘How-To’ article
  • Day 7: Case study
  • Day 10: CTA – BOFU offer
  • Day 14: Detailed ‘How-To’ article
  • Day 17: Case study
  • Day 20: CTA – BOFU offer
  • Day 24: Detailed ‘How-To’ article
  • Day 27: Case study
  • Day 30: CTA – BOFU offer

Look: I’m no sales expert.

But I do know that if you can show people (quantifiably) where they are now alongside where they want to be and where their competition already is, your chances of closing that sh*t just went up exponentially.

So instead of the basic free consultation that excites no one, offer something that compares and contrasts a company with their own aspirations.

For example, Wordstream found huge success when they shifted their initial offer to an AdWords Grader that breaks down how a company’s campaign performance is doing currently with what they could (or should) be doing.

Moz Local does something similar, highlighting the amount of inconsistent, duplicate or missing local listing information that’s holding you back.

(Here are a few more B2B offer examples like these if you’re interested).

The goal is to detail your prospect’s problems in real time and offer up compelling solutions to fix them (which is the exact Problem Agitate Solution copywriting formula employed on the daily).

One example that makes me infinitely jealous and I will NOT hesitate to steal emulate is IMPACT’s ROI calculator:

ROI calculator

Your emails to get people to these offers can be the same style and tone as previous ones (more-or-less). Here’s another imperfect, yet implemented email example:

Codeless email

Same crappy email template. Same goofy looking dude.

But the overall goal is the same: come across as a real, friendly person who can be a helpful asset.

Workflow #4: sales prospect -> happy new client

Once you’ve had the chance to meet one-on-one with new prospects, you’ll probably start following up personally.

But there’s no reason to stop automating your efforts just yet — use it to help build trust and urgency (or simply take care of those leads that become unresponsive when attempting to follow up).

Here’s the next workflow cadence to implement:

  • Day 3: Meeting notes or recap
  • Day 10: Video overview of the next steps
  • Day 17: Calculator (their expected ROI)
  • Day 20: Case study and testimonial
  • Day 24: Case study and testimonial
  • Day 30. Breakup template

That last step is especially important. You know when you follow up with a new prospect, over and over and over again, only to hear crickets in return? Break up, don’t follow up.

Even something simple should do:


I’ve tried following up a few times but haven’t heard anything back. I’m going to assume this is no longer a priority for you right now.

Best of luck going forward!

– Brad

When all’s said and done, you’ve turned strangers into contacts or subscribers, turned those contacts into true marketing leads, and then whittled down a list of sales prospects who want to talk shop one-on-one. And they’re about to finally close.

Well played. You should celebrate. Go on, you deserve it.

Say it with me now, “I. Am. The. Best.” Image via Giphy.

But don’t stop automatically following up with clients once they sign on the dotted line.

Instead, remove the possibility of buyer’s remorse and encourage referrals by continuing to send emails consistently to new clients.

Pawel Grabowski wrote an excellent agency onboarding template recently on Agency Analytics that suggested the following sequence:

  1. Welcome message: Exactly as it sounds. Welcome new clients and continue reinforcing the value you’ll deliver. You can also send over important documents that might require their feedback as well.
  2. Break the silence: Explain your agency process and provide quick updates while your team is busy heads down getting the project rolling.
  3. First deliverable: Send frequent deliverable updates as items within the project’s scope get accomplished.
  4. Educational materials: Provide supporting details or documents that help set the context and expectations for clients.
  5. Follow up: Feign face-time with consistent project updates to make sure clients know they’re loved, appreciated and understood.

You can also use these automation techniques to de-personalize some interactions.

Here’s what I mean:

I’ve often found it’s difficult, awkward or just uncomfortable to ask clients for direct feedback to improve or for testimonials when a project is winding down.

It’s natural to feel like you’re imposing when asking this of clients. And many times they feel put on the spot and don’t react as you’d like (candidly).

To avoid this, bolster your onboarding sequence with simple project management email templates and surveys to go out after 30 or 45 days of working together:

Codeless feedback email

Using a single, all-in-one tool for all your client communication also has the added benefit of banking answers. For example, HubSpot’s smart form fields will save answers previously provided (like name, etc.) so that future forms won’t keep asking for duplicate information (thereby annoying clients who’ve responded to a few of these).

There’s a delicate balance that you need to strike when using automation with agency clients, because you don’t want to come across as unprofessional by asking redundant, duplicate questions that may have been already been addressed.


Marketing agencies struggle on a daily basis, just like our clients, to find the time and resources to properly promote our businesses.

Being in a client services position only exacerbates this problem, forcing us to continually put client needs ahead of our own.

When you’re slammed with projects, consistent agency promotion declines (or stops entirely).

Marketing automation is the perfect solution, tailor-made to help you nurture and follow up with interested leads at scale.

It can help you bridge the gap between site visitors ready to receive a proposal from… the other 98% of your website visitors.

And when executed properly, marketing automation should also seamlessly fit into your consultative sales approach.

That means a few days of hard work can deliver you with a systematic process to incrementally build trust over the long-term, until your prospects are ready to become clients (and even loyal referrers).

Jump to original: 

The Definitive Guide to Agency Marketing Automation

BLUF: 4 Examples of High-impact Copy Inspired By this Military Tactic [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]

Woman morse code
Imagine you’re tapping out a telegraph the next time you write your landing page copy. Image by Everett Collection via Shutterstock.

Right before the Titanic sank, at around 1:00 a.m. on April 15, 1912, somebody sent the following telegram, an incredible — albeit sad — example of BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):


BLUF is originally a military communications technique, in which the conclusion — the most vital information and actions — is placed right at the start.

As a copywriting tool for your landing page, BLUF is effective for a few reasons, including:

  • highlighting your best copy right away,
  • reducing the likelihood of people bouncing due to lack of clarity and
  • giving the reader what they need to make an informed decision (respect people’s time and intelligence and they’ll respect you).

Look at this example from the Starbucks website:

Starbucks ad
Starbucks proving that sometimes less is more.

When the folks at Starbucks released their Italian-Style Ham & Spicy Salami sandwich in January, they knew that all they really needed to do was show the sandwich and tell you what’s in it. Throw in some colorful words, like handcrafted, splash and tangy, and you’re salivating.

This is BLUF. Starbucks has given you everything you need to know about whether this sandwich is for you, all in about 30 words. If you really want to “Learn More”, you can  (it has 480 calories and little pickled peppers, if you’re interested).

Now that you know what BLUF is and have some idea of how it works, let’s look at some more examples, and then how to put BLUF into practice on your own landing pages. Get ready to nerd out.

Download Your Free Learn How To BLUF Worksheet

Craft killer BLUF-inspired copy that converts with this FREE downloadable worksheet.
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BLUF example #2: Gumroad

Gumroad landing page
Gumroad’s landing page is a strong example of BLUF, giving visitors the pertinent info they need right up front.

What is Gumroad’s BLUF?

Sell music directly to your listeners.
See higher conversion, lower fees and more customer control.

Gumroad’s bottom line is that it allows musicians to sell directly to listeners. That might be enough for some people, but the landing page includes some key features of the service, like lower fees and the possibility of higher conversions. If you’re a musician, Gumroad is sounding pretty good by now, so the next logical step is to attempt to seal the deal by inviting you to sign up for free.

There’s more information in the page section below if you’re in need of a bit more convincing, but essentially everything you need to know to make a decision is right there up front.

BLUF example #3: Human

Human landing page
Human recognizes that we humans have very limited attention spans.

What is Human’s BLUF?

Human’s BLUF is even simpler than Gumroad’s; its app will encourage you to do 30 minutes or more of exercise every day. It’s a fitness tracker that feeds you little nuggets of praise, pushing you to do more.

Like Gumroad, the copy on Human’s landing page passes the Blank Sheet of Paper test, giving visitors only the bare necessities in order to make a decision.

Again, the call to action mentions that the app is free to download, making it harder to refuse.

BLUF example #4: Dyson

What if the thing you’re offering is complex? Further, what if you want to highlight the fact that it’s complex, but still have people understand it? All the more reason to use BLUF. Nothing changes.

The Dyson team prides themselves on making things that are intuitive and easy to use. They also want you and the competition to know that there is absolutely nothing else like a Dyson. They’re not shy about giving you the technical details, but look at how they do it.

This unique 360 vision system uses complex mathematics, probability theory, geometry and trigonometry to map and navigate a room. So it knows where it is, where it’s been and where it’s yet to clean.

What is Dyson’s BLUF (and what else have they done right?)

Dyson landing page
Dyson effectively blends simplicity using the BLUF tactic with the complexity of it’s high-tech product.

Nobody who’s just looking for a bog-standard vacuum cleaner is going to be interested in the ins and outs of the 360 Eye — or its $1,200 price tag. The people who are interested in this cleaner are gadget geeks and tech brains with money to burn.

The folks at Dyson know that, and they sell based on the vacuum’s features. The bottom line is that the people who are most likely to buy the 360 Eye will be attracted by certain words and phrases, like “robot navigation technology” and “probability theory.”

Dyson knows that the people who buy this cleaner will want to stand and look at it with their friends and say,

It uses trigonometry to figure out that it still needs to clean near the fridge.

Plan your copy using BLUF

Planning what to write on your landing page with BLUF is easy.

If I’m a visitor to your landing page, I have a specific need to fill. I want you to:

  • show me how your offering meets my needs (whether it’s a car alarm or a cake decorating set),
  • give me reason to think that your thing is better than everyone else’s and
  • invite me to learn more, sign up or buy.

If I want to know more, I can scroll, but if you can fulfill my need convincingly right there in your opening, I’m less likely to visit somebody else’s landing page, right?

Consider this: How often do you stare at an article or landing page and have no idea what you’re reading? Let’s avoid that.

Exercise: Learn how to BLUF

This is just for fun, so don’t panic. Thinking about the examples above, pick a product or service (your own or someone else’s) and have a crack at this. I’ve filled it out for PayPal as an example:

Words/phrases you associate with this product/service Problems this product/service solves Things which make this product/service better than the rest
Money, finances, security, payments, safety, ease, simplicity, universal, send, receive, business, invoice, used by millions, trusted, fraud protection • Sending and receiving money safely
• No need to hand over bank details
• Trade in different currencies
• Keep track of business payments
• Can receive payments/send invoices to people who don’t have PayPal
• Work easily with any currency
• Access your money anywhere in the world

Visualizing your thoughts and features like this starts to give you an idea of what your conclusion, key points and actions might be. It’s the framework for your BLUF copy.

We’ve now got plenty of material to create a PayPal landing page with. We might say something like:

Send and Receive Money Safely
Access your money anywhere. Trade business invoices in any currency.
Start trading today

Outlining your copy first can be useful for informing your design. It’s something that copywriter Alastaire Allday talks about in his ebook, Think Like a Copywriter.

Wrapping up

The essence of BLUF is about giving your reader the information they need right away, and allowing them to make an informed decision about a follow-up.

While being so scant in your introduction may sound scary, just like in dating, confidence pays off big time. It’s much easier for people to buy into your idea when you’re completely behind it yourself. You still need to be descriptive, but highlight your best parts straight away. Don’t beat around the bush.

Good luck using BLUF to take your landing page copywriting to another level.


BLUF: 4 Examples of High-impact Copy Inspired By this Military Tactic [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]

Beating Copywriter’s Block [PODCAST]


We’ve all experienced that feeling of dread.

You’ve got your pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), but your mind is as blank as your Google doc. And your landing page copy isn’t going to write itself.

Before you throw up your arms and abandon your work, listen to the latest episode of the Call to Action podcast. Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy interviews Grant Lingel, Content Manager of professional service provider Bunny Inc. about tricks he’s used to break free of the prison that is writer’s block.

You will learn:

  • How you can find the happy medium between landing page copy that delights and landing page copy that converts.
  • What mirror neurons are and how they can help you get out of your copywriting rut.
  • Why you don’t have to feel guilty about the hour a day you spend browsing your Facebook newsfeed (turn your procrastination into productivity!).

Listen to the podcast

Download via iTunes.
Prefer Stitcher? We got your back.

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Dan Levy: So writer’s block is something anyone who writes can relate to, but you usually hear more about it in literary circles rather than in the context of online marketing. Why do you think that is?

Grant Lingel: That’s a great question because it’s definitely true. And as a writer, you know, writer’s block can definitely happen to anybody at any time. But in my eyes, I think writer’s block typically occurs more in the world of fictional writing as opposed to nonfictional.

Dan Levy: Right.

Grant Lingel: Now, as a writer, I’ve worked with both fictional and nonfictional. With online marketing and copywriting, usually the writer’s pretty well versed in the topic or at least very well briefed about what they’re working on, and not just that, who the audience is gonna be. So they have a much better idea of what they’re getting into as opposed to somebody who’s in the literary world where they’re usually creating characters, building a whole new world, developing storylines, trying to connect everything in an engaging, fun way that’s gonna keep the reader turning the pages. I think that’s why writer’s block affects fictional writers more so than copywriters and online marketers. So, with that said, writer’s block can definitely happen to people that work with copywriting and people who work in online marketing and content marketing worlds. But at least in my opinion, I think it’s a lot more short-winded and it deals usually more with struggling to find the right wording and not so much being lost altogether and unable to continue or needing to take a few days off or −

Dan Levy: Yeah, that makes sense. They have to wait for those moments of inspiration where you’re obviously working within a preexisting constraint, which is to persuade people to do something. At the same time, copywriters don’t just have to worry about their writing being really great; they also have to make sure it converts. So do you think that variable makes your job easier or harder?

Grant Lingel: I think both. First of all, I’ll say why I think it makes it easier. So going along the lines of what I was just talking about with writer’s block, writing copy entails not only knowing the topic but understanding the audience and understanding the business you might be working for or the product or the service that you’re writing about. Because the writer needs to do a lot of research to craft the copy in the right way, to drive conversions and to a very highly targeted reader, they’re able to focus on building up the content to make the call to action essentially the climax of the story. I mean, this’ll keep the writer focused on the task at hand, which is to create engaging copy. And that will ultimately drive conversions. So I think that makes it easier because it keeps the writer focused. I think focusing on conversions can make it harder as well. I know it’s kind of saying one thing and then saying the other, but because it’s harder because if you’re writing just a blog post, for example, about your favorite restaurant, you don’t really need too much research. You don’t really need to think too hard about it. You went there, you had a meal, you enjoyed it, fantastic, you can write about it. You still wanna do a good job because you wanna drive people to that restaurant. But instead of just understanding the topic that’s being covered, a copywriter also needs to understand who they’re working for, the product in question, the audience, trying to do it all in a specific word count that contains the right amount of keywords and is polished for SEO purposes. All these factors make the process a lot more intensive. So you can’t really take shortcuts, and if you do, you’re gonna pay for it down the road.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I think sometimes having those constraints is helpful creatively when you know you’re constrained or at least you’re focused on a particular goal and a particular business goal. It gives you a context for your writing that you don’t have when you’re just writing fiction or writing for some other reason. At the same time, you’re definitely more accountable to your words, aren’t you?

Grant Lingel: Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. But at least for me, and I know a lot of writers who think the same way, that added pressure is fantastic for productivity. I mean, being under the gun when it comes to deadlines and knowing that you need to get it done in that certain amount of words or in that certain timeframe, it’s like cramming for an exam. You have to do it or else you’re gonna lose that client; you’re gonna lose that project. And obviously, that is not at all what you wanna do. So having that added pressure, I think, is a fantastic motivator to get it done and do it in a great way.

Dan Levy: Yeah. Also, there actually is such thing as right and wrong when it comes to copywriting.

Grant Lingel: Definitely, yeah.

Dan Levy: If it’s persuading people and making people convert, then you’re doing it right. If not, it doesn’t matter how pretty the words are — you’re ultimately doing it wrong by definition.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, you might have a way with words and tell a beautiful story, but if it’s not doing the end goal of converting readers into buyers or users of certain services, you need to go back to the beginning and figure out what you did wrong and focus on what’s gonna drive those conversions.

Dan Levy: All right. So your post outlines nine ways to dig yourself out of those kinds of ruts and find inspiration for crafting your landing page copy. Can you talk about how something called mirror neurons can help?

Grant Lingel: The whole idea of mirror neurons is really interesting because essentially not until long ago in the 1990s, humanity had no idea why we cringe if we see somebody take a sip of rotten milk or why we get warm and fuzzy inside if we see a family embracing at the airport. It makes me feel good. The answer? It’s because of mirror neurons. When you witness an event like this, you put yourself in the place of the person to whom it’s happening. So when you see somebody coming home and embracing their children, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy because you can feel that. You don’t need to be in that hug. It doesn’t need to happen. It might never have happened to you. But you can put yourself there, and that’s because of mirror neurons. So, although it may not seem like it if you watch the news a lot, humans are actually very empathetic creatures. So mirror neurons let you connect your own experiences to experiences that are currently happening around you. So because you know that, for example, rotten milk is absolutely disgusting, you’re gonna gag if you see your sister unknowingly take a sip from a cup of funky milk. So by digging deep into your own past and using your own experiences for inspiration, you’re already gonna have an idea of what kind of content that you wanna write and what kind of reactions you’re gonna receive from the people who are reading them. So if you can put yourself into the eyes — or the mind rather — of the reader, you can already draw certain emotions and certain conclusions while you’re writing, before it’s even published. It’s a great way to connect with your reader on a very emotional level without even having to talk to them, without even having to know them, because they’re gonna be able to experience what you’re writing just from reading it. They don’t even need to be in the room. They don’t need to be with you. The mirror neurons in their brain are gonna relate their own past experiences to the words that they’re reading on the screen. It’s a very interesting concept, and I think it can really help a writer because you can honestly put yourself into the position of the reader without doing anything but digging into your own experiences.

Dan Levy: I love it because we’ve talked about empathy on the show before in the context of copywriting and just great marketing in general, and it’s always felt genuine, but it’s also felt a little bit touchy-feely and a bit of a squishy concept, especially for more conversion-centered marketers. But what you’re saying here is that, no, this is actually rooted in science.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan Levy: And I think that’s a language that a lot of data-centered marketers understand maybe a lot better, so I love how we’re kind of bridging the science with the human emotion here.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, it’s great, because emotion drives everything. People wanna hear a great story. So even if you’re talking about copywriting or creating a landing page for a product or some service, you can sell it based on telling a beautiful story and making the people relate. Touching on those emotions is one of the most important things there is when it comes to selling a product or hooking a reader, making them feel like they’re more connected to a company instead of just a wallet waiting to buy something at the other end.

Dan Levy: Well, talking about good stories, no pressure, but can you maybe give an example of how you’ve used your own experiences and memories and empathy to inspire your landing page copy?

Grant Lingel: Well, that’s tough, what’s the −

Dan Levy: So a good story.

Grant Lingel: − I mean, one specific story? I mean, it’s not a fantastic story, but it’s something that’s stuck in my mind every time when I’m writing for a landing page. Writing copy for landing pages needs to be done in a way that drives action. Otherwise, there aren’t going to be any conversions. So, if there are no conversions, what’s the point? You’ve got to start over. So when creating the right copy, I think back to all the experiences I’ve had reading copy on other sites to see what piques my interest and what leaves me uninterested or bouncing away quickly. So this one time, I saw an ad on Facebook that I thought looked fantastic. It was about a skateboard company. I’ve been a skater for ages. And the company made handcrafted longboards, and the photo was beautiful. The text was simple in the ad, and it was effective. I clicked. I went to the landing page. And when I got there, I was just knocked over. I was completely bombarded by just so much information. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing because it was the opposite of what the ad looked like. Their colors clashed. There were images everywhere. Some were black and white; some were in color. There were multiple headlines, big, chunky paragraphs that just rambled on and on. It took me way too long to find the call to action because it was buried below mountains of random text, reviews, images. It was just a mess. By the time I was able to find the call to action, I had to actually scroll down to get to it, which is a big no-no right there, and I left. But I did like the page on Facebook. A few months down the road, they posted something on their Facebook page, and I was like, all right, I’m gonna check it out because it looks great, and it was different. It was a much different experience. Somebody must have gotten on the horn and was like, “Yo, you guys really need to change this because it looks terrible. It’s not working. You’re not selling these boards.” So when I got there, the new page was crisp; it was beautiful, and I ended up buying a board. I use that experience every time I write landing page copy. I always think about that skateboard company and how awful the experience was the first time, and then a couple months later, it was completely different, and it worked. It’s funny because the board didn’t change. It was still the same fantastic product that I use to this day, but the sales experience, the whole experience between me and the company changed and that’s what made the difference.

Dan Levy: That’s a great example because it shows you the opportunity there and the opportunity that’s lost when you do succeed in making that emotional connection and speaking to somebody’s lived experience and their sense of anticipation and then you completely crush their hopes when you show them the landing page that just doesn’t speak to that at all.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, it was really surprising. And I felt fantastic when I went back a couple months later and saw that that was resolved, just gotta keep it crisp and to the point. You don’t wanna go crazy and lose people before they get to the call to action.

Dan Levy: You also recommend looking to books and TV shows and movies and even tabloids for copywriting inspiration. In a sense, it sounds like you’re just enabling my bad habits here. But can you paint a picture of how you’ve applied something you’ve seen in a book or on screen to your landing page?

Grant Lingel: A lot of different things that I’ve done with inspiration that I’ve seen from TV, but it’s not like a specific show. It’s more of a specific technique actually. I’ve always been a big fan of standup comedy. Standup has always been huge in my life. Comedians like George Carlin, Mitch Hedberg, Louis CK, Dave Chappelle, they’ve always influenced me because they take the obvious and they shed this brilliant light from a totally different angle that really makes you think, obviously makes you laugh as well, but it makes you think. And you’re gonna hear something that they say, and you’re gonna say, “Wow, why didn’t I think of that?” or maybe you had thought of it. Why didn’t you say it? Why didn’t you go on stage and tell that obvious joke? And it’s because what they’re pointing out are things that are not only true but they’re things that are relevant to almost everyone. I mean, they’re things that almost anyone can relate to. So when I’m thinking of the right one-liner or the right title or the right slogan, I think of these comedians and I think of different ways to grab people’s attention by pointing out something obvious but in a way that might be hidden. I mean, I’m obviously not doing it for laughs. I have a terrible delivery when it comes to comedy. I’m doing it to leave people thinking. I want them to think what I think when I hear a great joke from one of the best comedians. You know, “Wow, that’s so true. Why didn’t I think of that?” When you do that, whether you’re writing subheads for a listicle post or a catchy title for a landing page, you’re instantly gonna leave the reader wanting to read on and learn more about whatever the content is about because you’re gonna catch them with just a few words and I think that, especially now today, people don’t have amazing patience. People are just surrounded by endless information. So if you really don’t catch them right off the bat, you’re gonna lose them. So you need to figure out ways that’s gonna make people think because if they’re thinking or smiling or laughing or whatever, they’re gonna wanna see what else is coming.

Dan Levy: It’s funny because, on one hand, we’re marketers and we’re reading these case studies and blog posts and a lot of these best practices that are floating around. But we also all watch Netflix, I’m sure, and we read either books or trashy magazines and go to the movies. And I don’t think a lot of people are necessarily making that connection. They think that these are two separate worlds, but a lot of these storytelling techniques and even these persuasion techniques and these ways to connect with you emotionally exist in these other media as well. So I think that’s a great piece of advice to pay attention.

Grant Lingel: Absolutely. It’s all connected. I mean, storytelling is everywhere. It’s on a box of cereal. It’s not just in the literary world or movies or TV. Everything is telling a story. So if you can connect with who’s listening, that’s it. You win.

Dan Levy: Yeah. Actually, another thing you suggest in your post is Facebook and Twitter −

Grant Lingel: Oh, yeah.

Dan Levy: − which I think again sometimes feels like a bad habit and like a total time suck.

Grant Lingel: Oh, absolutely.

Dan Levy: But there are also ways to turn that social media procrastination into productivity, right?

Grant Lingel: Oh, for sure. I mean, I try and keep my time scrolling endlessly and mindlessly on my Facebook newsfeed to a minimum because, like you said, it can absolutely be a time suck. And when you’re just browsing through endless photos of friends’ babies and cats and what they had for lunch, you can just feel like, “What am I doing? I should be productive right now. This is awful.” But when it comes to finding inspiration for what to write, especially for something specific like a landing page, Facebook can be a great source of inspiration and productivity. When I go to Facebook or Twitter for inspiration, it’s to look at current trends and to see what people are sharing and not just what they’re talking about, but how they’re saying it. Most of the things that are popping up on newsfeeds these days are links to blog posts and product pages as well, so that’s another excellent way to see what people are sharing and to discover what it is about the copy in these posts that is so sharable. Why are they sharing this and not the 5 billion other posts that are going live that same day? It’s astonishing how much is out there. So to see what people are sharing is a peak into what it is that makes something sharable and therefore valuable. So when you start browsing through posts on Twitter and posts on Facebook and landing pages that are shared across social media, you begin to recognize patterns. You see what style of storytelling is being used and how it’s being displayed. And if you look really closely over a period of time, you can see the transition from one trend to another. If one major site or influential post by somebody with 5 million, 10 million followers, if they do one little thing differently, the next day you’re gonna see everybody doing that one little thing differently and then that becomes the new trend. Soon enough, that becomes the norm. And until the next makeover comes along and leaves posts looking a little bit different again, you need to follow those trends. So it’s not good to just sit around on Facebook and do nothing. It’s great to catch up with friends; it’s great to see every once in a while what’s going on. But to be productive with it, to find inspiration with it, it’s good to follow the trends and to see why and how people are talking about certain things because trends change pretty quickly now, so you’ve got to stay on top of things.

Dan Levy: Yeah. You also recommend looking at your competitors for copywriting ideas, right?

Grant Lingel: Oh, for sure.

Dan Levy: How do you do that though without, you know, like, stealing?

Grant Lingel: You never wanna steal, ever obviously. But you should definitely take into account what your competitors are doing. The reason is to check out the competition because you wanna see what they’re missing out on. You wanna see what they’re doing but you wanna see what’s not there as well. You don’t just check out their landing page as the competition, looking for ideas and then jacking those ideas. You wanna look at their landing pages, not as a competing writer business or landing page creator. You wanna look at their landing page as a potential customer. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who was interested enough to click over from an ad and who may wanna buy what the landing pages are offering. And then you look at it. You think, “Okay, this looks great, but is there something missing? Are the colors off? Does the text say too much? Does it say too little? Are there any emotional connections being made from the copy?” If you break down the competition, you can craft a landing page that fills in the missing pieces from the competition.

Dan Levy: Right. It sort of goes back to what you were saying earlier about clicking through that Facebook ad and being disappointed by the skateboarding landing page.

Grant Lingel: Definitely.

Dan Levy: You could learn a lot by clicking, just clicking around and seeing the opportunities that your competitors and your peers and just other marketers are missing out on.

Grant Lingel: Oh, for sure.

Dan Levy: And of course, often it’s as simple as that, right? Follow up with a landing page that actually matches what you offered in the ad. It’s so basic, but so many people are missing that opportunity.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, constantly. I mean, with that skateboarding company, I wanted to just email them, be, like, “Hey, guys, let me help you out. I mean, I wanted −”

Dan Levy: “I’m trying to buy from you. I’m trying, but −”

Grant Lingel: Yeah, “Please stop ruining my purchasing experience with your loud landing page. Please let me help you.” But luckily, they figured it out on their own.

Dan Levy: Well, not to bring back any painful memories, but to circle back to what we were talking about before in terms of maybe being faced with that writer’s block or not knowing exactly how to start writing your landing page copy, can you recall a time in your career when you’ve been in that situation and you were able to dig your way out of that hole by using some of these tactics?

Grant Lingel: Oh, yeah, for sure. There’s always gonna be writer’s block. There’s always gonna be a time where you have no idea how to get started or how to continue where you left off. I wouldn’t call it a painful memory because a lot of time, writing itself can be very painful.

Dan Levy: True that.

Grant Lingel: But every writer has been hit by writer’s block. It happened to me while writing my books. It happens to me all the time writing blog posts, outlines for future blog posts, landing pages. Heck, even sometimes I get writer’s block with emails because I want to word an email properly, but sometimes I’m like, oh, man, I’ve got to just − I’ve got to get out of here, and it happens.

Dan Levy: Oh, for sure. I think of all the copywriters and content marketers that we have in house, and I know that just hearing you say that is gonna provide so much comfort and reassurance because everybody’s in that boat sometimes.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, of course, because writing is intensive. It’s hard on the brain. It’s a lot of mental work and stimulation because you’re not just trying to create something out of nothing. You’re trying to use everything in your brain to get to that creation point. You’re reading, you’re studying, you’re researching, you’re pulling from your own experiences, you’re trying to create something out of thin air. So sometimes your brain just gets really tired and doesn’t want to write. It just wants to chill. And I’ve found for me, getting outside and getting as far from technology as possible is the best way to dig myself out of the hole. And being in nature has and it’s always been the answer to my problems. Even when I lived in New York City, a quick walk in the park would help just destroy my writer’s block because I was able to reconnect with a setting where I feel more comfortable. I know New York City’s not like the ideal place to experience nature, but just getting outside and feeling some sunshine on your face and watching the clouds breeze by and feel the wind and listen to the birds, and while you’re doing this, you’re gonna be putting a smile on your face. And if you’re putting a smile on your face, you’re gonna feel better. And when you feel good, you feel motivated, you feel inspired, and when you’re inspired and happy, writer’s block is not going to affect you.

Dan Levy: All right. Well, I’m feeling inspired. I think I’m gonna go outside −

Grant Lingel: Nice.

Dan Levy: − even though it’s snowy and cold, I think it’s time for a walk.

Grant Lingel: Yeah.

Dan Levy: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Grant. This was great.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, of course, yeah, it was great chatting, and thank you very much for talking with me.

Dan Levy: Thank you.

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Beating Copywriter’s Block [PODCAST]

Product Marketing is the New Content Marketing [PODCAST]

Are you serving up yummy, educational content or are you shoving your product down prospects’ throats? Image source.

Your customers don’t care that you think your product is better than the competition.

But they do care about consuming delightful, in-depth content that will make them better at their jobs… which raises the question: is it possible to educate your audience with highly useful content without tiptoeing around what you actually sell?

Gregory Ciotti, Content Strategist at customer support software Help Scout, thinks so.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, our Content Strategist Dan Levy speaks with Gregory about how product marketing is the new content marketing.

You will learn:

  • What the 9x effect is and why it’s stopping your audience from converting.
  • How to integrate your product into content without alienating your audience.
  • How excellent customer success can support your marketing initiatives.

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Gregory: I’m Gregory Ciotti, the Content Strategist at Help Scout.

Dan: You start your post with a great line: “Marketing is not something that you do to people, it’s something that you do for people.” Can you explain what the difference is?

Gregory: Sure. So the simple truth is that it doesn’t really make sense to attract customers who aren’t a fit for your product. It doesn’t really take a marketing saint to kind of want to do that for your own purposes, to do the right thing. But it also doesn’t make business sense to attract people who are just not a right fit. They’re going to add burn to your support team and then they’re going to churn anyway. So I’m not sure in what universe it really makes sense to trick people. It’s really all about truth telling. So doing marketing for people is providing them with the information that they need to make a decision. A big part of marketing is communication. I often think of communication as a mix of vision and conversation. So seeing things – seeing the truth, rather, or seeing real outcomes they might not understand yet, and then communicating those clearly and coherently.

Dan: Interesting. And I guess communicating it in a way that’s empathetic or takes the person you’re communicating with’s own perspective in mind, right?

Gregory: Absolutely. One of the things I’ll tell you is that the inertia that you have to overcome is – they’re just real situations that people deal with. It’s not even necessarily convincing them; it’s kind of just addressing concerns. Especially in B2B. I’ve had so many support managers message us saying that they’re very interested in Help Scout but they need to make the pitch to the rest of their team. There’s a lot of work involved in switching over the software that they’re using. So the job of marketing there is to just give them – actually help them build their own argument. Give clear, coherent reasons that the switch is worth it, that their current solution isn’t as compelling as they think it is, and that they can get real results by taking the effort to try something else.

Dan: That’s interesting. So you’re not just communicating to your customers but you’re also giving your customers the tools to communicate to whatever stakeholders they need to buy into your product, right?

Gregory: Right. And if they’re the decision maker, they’re making their own presentation to themselves anyway, right? They’ve got to build their own pitch for, hey look, I know this might actually take a little bit of work but here are the reasons why it’s worth it. And on top of that, I would add that sometimes they don’t have an accurate representation of what maybe the workload would be like to switch. Or they just don’t necessarily have a full grip on the truth because maybe they had an experience that kind of tinted the way they see things. A quick example to kind of give a reality to this is we’ve improved our ability to import from other help desks. And every time somebody comments on – let’s say there’s a Zendesk import or something like that. They never really say, “That was easy.” I don’t hear that language.

I actually hear, “That was much easier than I expected.” There was a perception in the beginning that didn’t reflect reality. They kind of assumed up front that it was going to be very difficult and there’s a lot of ways that – especially the copy and really everything else that you do to communicate what this process is gonna be like — it’s just about truth telling and kind of getting people back to reality.

Dan: So people often bring lots of baggage to the table by the time they get to to you.

Gregory: Who isn’t, right?

Dan: True that. One of the things that you say customers need to overcome is what you call the 9x effect. Can you talk about what that is and why it’s something marketers need to be aware of?

Gregory: Sure. So the general concept, it’s originally from Harvard Business Review. Customers kind of perceive their current solution as three times better than it really is. And of course as marketers, we kind of end up perceiving our solution as kind of three times better than it is. This is all about perception, of how people perceive it to be.

Dan: Right.

Gregory: So that creates this gap between us, between the business and the buyer that we kind of don’t really realize. Like we’re not understanding as marketers why people don’t see the value. And it’s because of this push and pull. We’re over valuing what we’re positioning and what we’re putting out to the world. And customers are over valuing their current solution. I can’t really say this for certainty but I believe the old 10x product kind of mindset came from it: there’s a 9x product to overcome — it really takes a 10x product to get people to see the value in switching. The big light bulb moment for me with this 9x gap is that most people do not start in a neutral place. They don’t actually start in a reality.

We’re both actually kind of starting a little bit distance from reality. And a funny way I think – I’ve always seen it this way but I’m not sure everyone agrees, but I actually think marketing brings us back to reality. Marketing actually brings us back to the truth that this is how things are going to go down. And I think great marketers really adhere to that because it doesn’t make sense to do otherwise.

Dan: That’s a hell of a perception to overcome, right? I think a lot of people would say the opposite about marketers that were manufacturing reality rather than speaking truth.

Gregory: Right. And then, you know, it’s particularly true for SaaS but really true for all businesses. It doesn’t make sense to burden yourself with customers who aren’t a fit. Especially in SaaS, though, which is where most of my experience lies. All we’re really adding is burden to the entire team, burden to the customer and they’re going to churn anyway. So we’re not helping either ourselves or the customer there… so who are we really helping? Why would we bother to do something like that?

Dan: Okay, so the 9x effect tells us that customers are more likely to want to stick with the status quo and be suspicious of any new product, whereas companies tend to overestimate the value of their own product. As a marketer, how can you bring yourself back down to earth and put yourself into that customer mindset?

Gregory: Sure. I mean I think that comes down to just understanding the objections all along the way. And like I said, the objections aren’t always obvious; hence the over valuing our own product.

Dan: Right.

Gregory: I would like to think that it’s obvious why you should switch to Help Scout from something else but I’m not dealing with a support team of 50 people who have a workflow embedded in something else. So I can’t get to reality either, as a marketer, unless I truly understand the objections that you would have and really give value to those objections, not kind of brush them away, like “That shouldn’t be a problem.” Like, of course it’s a problem! If you perceive it to be a problem, then it is a problem. Perception is reality, right?

So I think it starts on our end really to – the only way we can get back to a neutral place is to just understand objections and give credence to every objection a customer might have, and to structure our language around that. I often think of copywriting as a game of word search where the answer key is what the customer needs to hear. You can’t pick the wrong word ever because if it’s a wrong word, it’s not going to speak to them and in doing so, you’re not really projecting reality.

Dan: I feel like a lot of marketers see those objections as something to overcome, rather than — what you’re saying — as an opportunity to use their words and to craft your copy and your marketing in a way that speaks directly to those objections and those concerns.

Gregory: We work with really everyone on the team — growth is everyone’s job. Words alone won’t always fix the problem. If people feel that the import process is too difficult, then you make it easier. So marketers are not alone in their ability to reduce friction, but we are responsible for communicating things accurately. You should be able to – I keep coming back to the same example but hopefully it makes for a better case. That if you’re going to import something, it needs to be crystal clear on how much effort is expended. And people should have their previous concerns kind of alleviated. If they think it’s going to take a really long time or they think it’s gonna be complex, get them to reality. Tell them how it really is gonna be.

Dan: One thing you suggest for demonstrating the value of your offer is to contrast what people’s life might look like before and then after adopting your product. Can you give an example of what that might look like?

Gregory: Sure. So we have a lot of customers come from Gmail. And it’s no exaggeration to say that your world and support is entirely different when you first use a product like Help Scout or a help desk, right? It’s you’re in a whole new ballpark. I often think of going to a product as switching, no matter what you’re coming from. I kind of say that I switched to a tool like Evernote from a “genius scattered notebooks system.” It wasn’t really switching from an Evernote competitor, per se, but I had something I was using to get the job done, right? So you kind of have to get a sense of what their world is like at the moment and then contrast that with what their world looks like after they make the jump.

And I’ve always kind of believed that contrast gives the best context because it just creates a clear division between two things. It can be awfully muddy when you’re trying to envision what your workflow looks like by adding this thing, this widget, this tool. But when you create this clear contrast, it’s crystal clear. There was a then, there’s a now; I think it’s much easier for people to relate and to kind of understand what their world looks like when they make the jump.

Dan: I wonder if Evernote sees their competitor as like Moleskine notebook?

Gregory: Exactly. I’ve heard a lot of great examples in that space. I can’t remember who said this but one person was saying that newspapers ended up kind of looking at each other as like, “Who’s stealing my readers?” And they didn’t really realize that it ended up being sites like social media – developments, rather, like social media — and everything else that was really the challenger that came in that they didn’t see. They kind of thought it just has to be another newspaper that’s taking these people away.

Dan: True.

Gregory: So for us, we can’t necessarily think that the before and after for people is always another help desk. Sometimes people are coming from this very complex system and outlook and we need to understand what their journey looks like, too.

Dan: All right, well I think a lot of what we’re talking about here can be summed up as really good product marketing. It seems like we’re hearing companies talk about product marketing these days the way they used to talk about content marketing just a few years ago. Why do you think that’s happening?

Gregory: Sure. So the team at Drift released a great SlideShare a few weeks back with the simple title of “What is Product Marketing?” And I think the 40,000 views they later got kind of speaks to this increased interest of people who want to understand the field. I see product marketing as the go-to market strategy, owning the positioning, messaging and it’s really marketing to current customers and creating demand by making sure the word gets out, essentially, to current customers. I think the reason that I would say the popularity, so to speak, has increased is a lot of businesses – and especially online businesses – are moving to a subscription model.

It really makes sense to market to your current customers and to get more customers to use the features you already have, or to use the features they’re already using more frequently. That’s a big part of product development but just because you launch a feature doesn’t mean people will use it. And product marketing ensures that they understand the value, they understand what they would get not only by using the feature for the first time or potentially using it more often, but through that they kind of create demand. By then they’re of course going to tell others, like, “I got this great result with this new Help Scout feature, this new Unbounce feature. You should check it out.” So I do believe that at its core, it’s marketing to current customers but it creates demand by how it echoes out.

Gregory: Right, and then you could leverage that content and those customers who, in a sense, have become evangelists for your product, fire up in the funnel to create awareness and interest in your product.

Dan: Absolutely. And product marketing is really key to enable many parts of the business so I would say product marketers work closely with sales so there’s sales enablement. Product marketers probably understand objections best, which really trickle down to all marketing activities. So they’re a really key component in kind of getting the entire marketing team onboard with how customers see the product and how we could position and package the product better in everything we do when talking to customers.

Dan: It seems like a lot of the most successful companies — online companies — in the last five years have built their reputations and their audiences by creating really successful content marketing. And I’m wondering how you could transition into product marketing without alienating that audience.

Gregory: Sure. So one of the really exciting challenges I think content marketers can contribute to is pulling out the story of a new feature or a new workflow in the product. Some really handsome guy once said that content marketers can learn a lot from journalists. I’m not sure who that was.

Dan: I don’t know about the handsome part.

Gregory: But you know, there is a lot of truth to that. And to give you an example, when we released a feature in Help Scout called satisfaction ratings, which is a quick way to get a kind of happiness report, we brought on Dave Cole from Wistia to talk about the possible downside of using happiness ratings as a way to judge your support team unfairly. Now, it seems kind of strange to launch a feature with a blog post that says basically that there’s danger in looking at happiness ratings the wrong way. But that was the most interesting story to pull and the most honest story to pull from that whole space. This space of happiness ratings and evaluating happiness feedback from every support manager I talked to said that they’re absolutely a good way to get an overall grip on customer satisfaction.

But where I see them being used wrong is teams are essentially graded on their happiness rating. And that causes people to pursue the T-ball ticket questions; you know, they’re going after the easy ones. They’re avoiding anything that’s difficult. And Dave shared some really great experience with that. And that was a super successful post for that feature launch. And it was essentially storytelling and product marketing and content marketing all wrapped up into one. And certainly a much better approach than, “We have this new thing — check it out.” So I think what I see a lot of content marketers doing really well recently is that approach.

They find the story within the product, they tell it really well. They tell it in a use case sort of way so that even if you’re not currently using feature X, if you’re not currently using happiness ratings, you walk away with a much better understanding of how they could be used. So I’m really excited to kind of see that space open up. I don’t think it eliminates the charm of content marketing because again, it was all about advice; it’s all about kind of how people get benefits and it’s all about ideas and instruction. But it also includes the product.

Dan: For sure. We make these distinctions internally between content marketing and product marketing but I think from the customer perspective or from the audience perspective, all they are seeing is good or bad stories that do or don’t resonate and seem relevant to them. And if you could create stories that are speaking to their pain points and find a way to make your product and your customers part of that story, then it really doesn’t matter what you call it.

Gregory: Absolutely. Their distinction is far less severe, maybe, then the ones we create for ourselves. If it’s entertaining and useful, then it hits all the check marks, right? And that’s challenging enough.

Dan: Absolutely. Can you talk a little bit about the role that customer success plays in all of this? We often think of marketing and CS as different departments or different disciplines. But you suggest that they could actually fit into one another.

Gregory: Sure. So I think this really crystallized for me when I was looking at a customer’s site. Docs is our knowledge base product. And they had just read an article I had written on writing great knowledge base articles. And they had a follow up question about organizing your knowledge base. And as I was sitting there in the middle of the workday and looking at someone else’s knowledge base, taking notes to send him this advice-filled email, I was like, “Wait a minute. I do work in the marketing department, right?” And it kind of dawned on me that he had been using – he had been following the article I had written step-by-step. He had been using it for every knowledge base article that he had written so far. And there I was kind of following up with him with further advice over email.

And my point with all that is just that content doesn’t – it’s not necessarily limited to attracting people. It can keep people around. It helps them get more value out of the product when you’re doing it well. It helps them understand the proximity, the kind of like action points of the product. We have knowledge base software but writing a knowledge base article is an entirely different beast. It actually requires writing advice; just having the software is not enough. So I do feel that content is customer success and that a big part of content is planning what topics you can address that will help people after they’re already signed up and happy and have been using your product; how can you kind of take them to the next level.

Dan: Totally agree. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk shop, Greg. Always a pleasure.

Gregory: Yeah, it was great.

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Product Marketing is the New Content Marketing [PODCAST]