The Three-Step Process To Improve Your Number Of Product Demos Booked

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Demo requests are an essential part of your growth marketing strategy, but we all know that requesting a demo and scheduling a demo are two very different things.

Here are three steps you can take to improve the number of demos you schedule and make sure that you’re only scheduling demos for qualified leads who are likely to buy what you’re selling.

1. Convince prospects to request a demo.

The process of requesting and scheduling a demo starts with your lead form. There are a couple of things you can do to attract qualified leads and convince them to request a demo form.

First, show prospects what your product or service does. A short video demonstrating your product or service will give prospects enough information to decide whether or not they want to learn more. While it might seem like you’re “giving away” information about your product or service here, you’re really saving yourself time by only attracting leads who might be interested in paying you.

Keep your video short -- under a minute. This gives enough information to help a prospect decide if your product might be worth their time without giving away your whole demo. It’s a form of buyer-enablement content that will filter out people who are uninterested and engage those who are.

Second, make the form easy to fill out. Nobody wants to fill out a form that asks a dozen questions, even if they’re genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Keep your lead form brief by only asking the most important questions for you to qualify the lead: first name, last name, email address, phone number.

2. Quickly decide which leads are qualified leads.

You need a way to instantly determine who’s a qualified lead. Start by only qualifying emails that are business accounts. Automatically filter out email addresses that are generic (.gmail, .yahoo, .edu, etc.). People who are serious about your product or service will have business email accounts. Plus, this information will allow you to quickly look up a prospect’s business so you can determine whether or not they’re a fit for your product.

Then, only qualify leads with a phone number. People who are serious about scheduling a demo will put their phone number. Make that a required line on your lead form, and don’t respond to any demo requests that have fake numbers attached.

3. Shorten the time from requesting to scheduling.

I’ve found that shortening the amount of time a prospect has to wait between requesting a demo and scheduling a demo is the most important thing you can do to increase the number of demos you schedule.

Start by setting up a process to contact prospects within five minutes. Depending on what you’re currently doing, this might take a little bit of getting used to. It also might mean doing an overhaul of your current process. A lot of companies think they’re doing well when they contact a prospect within an hour or two, but in my opinion, that’s just too long. Having a plan in place to quickly qualify leads (like I talked about above) will help you shorten your response time.

Next, the best case scenario is to book same-day demos. This significantly reduces the time it takes to go from a demo request to an actual demo and makes it much more likely that a prospect will buy your product or service. Don’t let so much time pass in between the demo request and the actual demo that your prospects move on to your competitors or lose interest altogether.

Finally, don’t give too many options. Whether you reach out to a prospect via phone or email, don’t give them too many options for scheduling. Have a few times available for the same day and the next day, and only extend beyond 24 hours if there’s truly a conflict for your prospect.

By connecting with more prospects, how many more demos could you schedule, and how many more deals could you close? When you consider that some of your competitors may be taking this approach, you can’t afford a long time gap between a demo request and a sales rep reaching out. Improve your software as a service automation process, and work with your sales development team to set the goal of responding to leads within five minutes so you can connect with more qualified leads faster than ever.

This article was first published on Forbes.com and is reprinted here.

Four Steps To Using Automation To Help Scale Your SaaS Company

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Your software-as-a-service (SaaS) company already uses automation, even if you call it something else. It’s nearly impossible to run any SaaS product without incorporating automation. As a marketer, understanding how your SaaS company can utilize automation to reach more customers in less time and with less effort is the key to reaching a new level of efficiency that will help you grow your business.

Prior to working at Fox and Guess, I was the head of growth for some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s up-and-coming SaaS startups. My role involved launching new products, growing the customer base, and increasing customer engagement and global brand awareness. By creating a scalable marketing automation machine, we were quickly able to get into the high seven figures.

Let’s start at the beginning: Marketing automation is simply a way to make manual processes automatic. The increased efficiency opens the doors for new processes. You can deliver personalized messages to your customers using any outreach platform you want, from social media and email to direct mail and push notifications.

When used correctly, marketing automation can help you reach a broader audience during the right time of the buying cycle so you end up with more conversions using fewer resources. So, how do you create a marketing automation process for your SaaS company?

Step 1: Determine the life cycle funnel for your product.

Your SaaS life cycle funnel refers to the process that your prospect takes when they convert to being a customer of your company. Understanding this framework for your customers is essential so you can have a better understanding of the different stages a customer encounters along their journey with your company.

There are various life cycle frameworks. Here are just a few examples:

• Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue (AARRR).

• Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA).

• Reach, Engage, Activate, Nurture (REAN).

You can also create your own, based on your product and how your customers interact with it. I recommend that you start defining the life cycle for your company by focusing on one primary buyer persona. Build a life cycle around that persona, from the customer’s first interaction with your company until they become a happy, converted customer.

Step 2: Define your metrics for every stage of the funnel.

Now that you have your funnel, you need to clearly define what metrics you’ll use to determine how effective your process is. Here are some examples to get you thinking for an AIDA life cycle (but don't limit yourself to only these):

Awareness

• New email subscribers.

• Unique website visitors.

• Referral traffic (use urchin traffic monitor codes -- UTMs -- to easily identify what sources people are using to find your website).

• Engagement on social platforms.

Interest

• Leads generated.

• Booked demo calls.

• Demo-to-close rate.

• Email open rate.

• New trial sign-ups.

Desire

• Product engagement for new users.

• Product engagement for trial users.

• Questions asked during the trial/new phase.

Action

• New paying customers.

• New monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

• New gross revenue.

• Customer acquisition cost (if it’s going down, your marketing automation strategy is working).

• Rate of churn.

• Trial-to-paying customer conversion.

Step 3: Map the life cycle journey for your customers.

You’ll need to get in the mindset of your customer to determine their journey, from discovering your product to paying for it as a converted customer. Again, use only the main persona to map out their journey.

You can make your map visual, or you can simply list out the steps a customer will take to move through the life cycle. Use whatever method helps you understand the life cycle journey better.

Step 4: Build your SaaS marketing automation workflow.

Now that you have your customer journey mapped out, you can get to the real work: creating your marketing automation workflow.

There are dozens of ways you can create a marketing automation workflow; there’s no one-size-fits-all plan here. The good news is that you can customize your marketing automation plan to exactly meet the needs of your customers. Plus, you can adapt it as your customers’ needs change.

This may mean automating social media posts to publish at the most opportune time of day to reach your potential customers in the awareness stage, providing the right content to answer the questions they may have when researching the details of your product or following up with an email offer for a free demo.

Use your automation flows for everything from onboarding and conversion to nurturing, retaining and reactivating customers. Marketing automation will free up resources for your company and help you give your customers a better experience.

This article was first published by me on Forbes.com and is reprinted here.

Why You Should Care About Micro-Influencers, And Three Tips On Working With Them

Social media usage on platforms like Instagram is still on the rise. With users scrolling through their feeds, it adds up to big dollars for influencers with millions of followers. In fact, an Instagram account with 1 million followers or more can make more than $50,000 for a single sponsored post.

But here’s something interesting: Engagement drops when influencers have millions of followers. In fact, according to an analysis of 800,000 Instagram users by Markerly, engagement on the users’ posts tends to peak when they have somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 followers.

I believe the reason for this is simple, really: Followers of smaller influencers tend to trust the account they’re following. This tight-knit group of followers may be more likely to want to buy products that are being marketed by someone they feel they know or who seems more exclusive.

During my time at Guess, I worked on influencer marketing campaigns with celebrities like Jenifer Lopez and Amanda Cerny, and I found that the return on investment is generally better when working with micro-influencers than with mega-influencers.

Welcome to the world of micro-influencers.

What are micro-influencers, and why do businesses work with them?

Micro-influencers are social media influencers who have around 1,000-50,000 loyal, engaged followers. Unlike celebrities who have a million or more followers, micro-influencers are generally ordinary, everyday people. This is what gives them such a loyal and trusting audience. Micro-influencers are generally experts on certain topics, and they usually promote products that they really think their audience will like.

I find that there are three key benefits to working with micro-influences:

1. They have an engaged following. Engagement trumps number of followers. An influencer can have 10 million followers who see your product or business promoted, but without enough engagement, your campaign will fall flat. Micro-influencers, on the other hand, might only have a few thousand followers, but they are often more engaged in the influencer’s posts and may not only buy your product but also promote it to their own networks for free.

2. They’re cost-effective. Instead of spending $50,000 for a single sponsored post, as you might for someone with a million or more followers, you can have a micro-influencer write a sponsored post for just a few hundred dollars.

3. They’re authentic. Micro-influencers are often highly invested in their personal brand, so many won’t promote something they don’t believe in. They also aren’t making enough per sponsored post to make it worthwhile to jeopardize their authenticity. I find that this is what makes them so much more trustworthy than other influencers in the world of social media marketing.

How can you find and leverage micro-influencers for your business?

1. Start with your business’s followers. Start your search for the right micro-influencer by looking at who’s following your business’s social media accounts. You might already have some micro-influencers who are promoting your brand. With the right partnership, they could help you grow your reach. The key is relevance -- understanding what they’re an expert in and how it matches your needs and audience. You can also use influencer marketing platforms that can help you find the right influencers based on engagement, hashtags, follower count, reach and social platforms.

2. Use hashtags. Hashtags are still relevant. Search for micro-influencers using hashtags to see who’s already promoting your product or business -- or one like it. This can be a relatively easy way to find people who are already working as micro-influencers in your industry. You can also create your own branded hashtag campaign to start a conversation and get your customers involved.

3. Cross-promote your influencer’s content. The best micro-influencer strategy involves cross-promotion. Share your micro-influencer’s posts on your business account. This gives them more views, and it also drives more traffic to your website, blog posts and social media pages. It’s a win-win!

Incorporating micro-influencers into your marketing strategy can be a great way to reach your target audience. Be genuine in your approach to micro-influencers, and give them some freedom as far as how they create their advertising posts so they can retain their authenticity with their engaged followers.

This article was first published on Forbes.com and is reprinted here.

Strategic Growth Marketing Can Help Your Business Reach Three Goals

Often referred to as “growth hacking,” growth marketing is one of the latest marketing tactics that businesses are using to grow their customer base.

The term sounds like a no-brainer -- growth marketing means you just market your business to grow, right? Well, sure, but, as you can imagine, it’s more complicated than that.

Here’s everything you need to know about what growth marketing is, along with goals to set for your growth marketing campaigns so you can start measuring your success.

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What is growth marketing?

Growth marketing is a type of marketing strategy that’s focused on retaining your customers rather than just attracting new customers. Instead of only focusing on the top and bottom of the sales funnel, as traditional marketing does, growth marketing follows the customer through the entire buying process.

Understanding the life cycle of the buyer helps you figure out where to reach your future customers. It also tells you how to retain your current customers and, most importantly, how to keep them coming back and referring you to their network.

Growth marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of marketing. You’ll need to stay vigilant by running A/B tests, tracking analytics and monitoring trends. You’ll have to be flexible and ready to concede failure quickly when you discover that your marketing tactics aren’t working.

When it comes to growth marketing, businesses tend to have three main goals:

1. Customer Retention

A key difference between growth marketing and traditional marketing is that growth marketing focuses on existing customers first. People who have already bought your products or used your services are more likely to come back to you if they have had a great experience and if you continue to deliver products, services and information they find valuable.

Starting with a customer retention focus is also smart financially. As research has shown, acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than it is to retain an existing one.

2. Customer Acquisition

Customer acquisition comes second because you want to know how to keep customers before you go out and find new ones. When it comes to customer acquisition, the main goal here is to figure out where potential customers are located and how they’re going to find you. It could be through online marketing, offline marketing or referrals.

Drill down into these components even further, and focus your efforts where you have the highest potential. If your potential customers are on Instagram but not Twitter, focus on Instagram, and forget about Twitter.

3. Increased Profit And Revenue

Of course, at the end of the day, your business needs to make money. A poorly executed growth marketing strategy that relies too heavily on customer acquisition costs might help you increase profits but not revenue. A successful growth marketing strategy, on the other hand, will give you new revenue streams and lead to an increase in both revenue and profits for the long term.

No matter what stage your business is in, developing a growth marketing strategy will help you retain customers and find new ways to attract new customers so you can grow your business.

This article was first published on Forbes.com and is reprinted here.

Automation Is Not The Enemy; It's The Path To Creative Growth

What do Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington and Paul McCartney all have in common? It’s not their stardom, not their seemingly boundless wealth. It has nothing to do with paparazzi. No -- don’t Google

Give up?

The answer may not surprise you: These indisputably famous personalities all reportedly have a meditation practice. This means that for some time every day, they sit with themselves and the total silence of their minds in an attempt to find inner peace.

Gone are the days of such practices having a reputation for being a woo-woo waste of time. Today, some of society’s most prosperous CEOs and celebrities meditate on a regular basis, serving as zealous and loyal advocates to the mindfulness movement. So often, in fact, I believe it has almost become a prerequisite for fame.

So, what is it about meditation? Why does it evidently turn us all into superhumans? And what does that have to do with automation?

Doing Nothing Is Actually Everything

In a society that praises working overtime, it’s no wonder we’ve developed harmful habits that echo a similar sentiment. We’ve started stuffing every awkward pause in our life with swiping, scrolling and sharing on social media. We seem to have developed an incessant need to be moving, contributing and learning. And many of us have totally forgotten what it’s like to just be bored. Some of us have likely even demonized it to a point of feverishly avoiding it.

But the empty space of boredom is actually necessary to humans, and profound. Those of us who were shoved out the back door to go “play outside” in our childhood were once intimately acquainted with the idea of having “nothing to do.” And we learned how to engage with our imagination, make friends and begin navigating our first sense of self.

Sometimes, boredom was a reason to forge a human connection(subscription required) -- “Hey, you’re bored? Me too. Wanna ride bikes?” It was why we had conversations with ourselves -- “How do I feel about this? Do I want to climb a tree or go swimming?” We don’t do that much anymore, do we?

If we’re not checking in with what our “inner voice” is saying on a regular basis, we’re letting it go. I believe this is how most of us sabotage our own success. We spend so much time bouncing from thing to thing that we totally forget to nurture the person who matters the most: ourselves.

And this is why Oprah meditates. “Doing nothing” is a mental house-keeping habit that’s absolutely crucial if we want personal growth and success. Most importantly, I believe it’s also crucial to our happiness.

Automation Creates Room For Meditative Space

Back in March, New York congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke publicly about automation, offering a creative perspective to combat the typical attitude of fear that most people feel in its wake. She offered:

“We should be excited about automation, because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing in and investigating the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in ....”

These are just a few of the ways automation liberates us to reconnect with ourselves and others in the future. So much of our time has been eaten up by work that occupies the mind without stimulating any growth, and automation is finally creating an opportunity to leave that work behind.

Imagine being able to maximize our time so efficiently that we can actually culturally reprioritize taking the time to rest, stop and be bored. Imagine automated technology doing the jobs that rob us of the space and time to actively work on the relationships we have with ourselves and others. Imagine every human in the world having an equal opportunity to express their creativity, contributing their best and brightest ideas for the good of humanity.

Finding Balance In Your Business

Marketing automation is just one example of an area where leaders can utilize the benefits of automation. Scheduling social media posts ahead of time on a topic your audience is passionate about can lead to quality engagement. We have the opportunity to simply “forget” about this responsibility, and instead, immerse ourselves entirely in the present moment. Wouldn’t we rather be enjoying dinner around the table with our families, rather than remembering the need to post on LinkedIn or Instagram?  

There is a balance to be struck, however. There’s no need to automate absolutely everything; the point is to become more connected to ourselves and each other. If automation begins creating impersonal experiences for clients, buyers and customers, leaders may begin to see a decline in satisfaction. Ergo, it’s important to be discerning about where we choose to use automation and where a more personal approach is necessary.  

While marketing automation saves time, for example, it may behoove certain companies to begin moving away from automated customer service practices. Honestly, nobody likes explaining their frustrations about a product to a robot with a number menu prompt. 

To find this balance, it’s crucial for marketers to study their company’s buyer personas and actively research what their demographic may need in terms of attention. Whereas millennials may be used to automation, baby boomers may not take so kindly. It’s being sensitive to the needs of the customer that will allow leaders to strike a balance that is unique to the company they represent.  

We know that creativity takes energy. For marketers specifically working in creative industries, freeing up time in the appropriate areas of their companies by using automation is an incredible opportunity to conserve energy for more creative pursuits. And being mindful about where we’re using automation allows us to still engage our critical thinking, challenge ourselves and grow personally and professionally. 

This is all a big dream -- that’s undeniable. But the opportunity for all humans to collectively grow and succeed? That’s one I feel is worth fighting for.

This article was first published on Forbes.com and is reprinted here.

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