Sales tools: Sendbloom – Automate your prospecting emails

Sendbloom is a prospecting automation platform that helps you build your sales pipeline.

If you’re using the cold calling 2.0 model popularized by Aaron Ross in his groundbreaking book Predictable Revenue, then you’re sending cold emails to get people to take the next step in the sales funnel – whether that’s responding to your email, getting on a call, requesting a demo or actually making a purchase.

Manually sending cold emails is a tedious and overly repetitive task. And while it allows you to really laser-target your prospects and reach out to them with more relevant messaging… it’s hard to scale and not a practical approach for most sales organizations.

But automating email follow ups often aren’t as effective. They’re easy to set up and run, but generally less effective, because most prospects can immediately see that this is an automated email and will either ignore your sales emails… or hit the spam button.

Sendbloom tries to solve this problem by allowing you to create personalized, automated email cadences.

Stop wasting time to manually research prospects

Sendbloom automates the prospect research part. Their software will crawl the web, third-party and their own company databases to get more context around each lead.

Information like company size, founding dates, what kind of software applications they use, which industry they’re in, where they’re located, their funding history, job titles, and a lot more.

All this data will be available to you and allow you to set up and automated email campaigns at scale.

Prospect list segmentation

Sendbloom also helps you to easily segment your lists based on any combination of attributes you’d see fit.

sendbloom-segmentation

Let’s say you’re selling CRM solution to ecommerce sites that also have an iOS app.

You could for example upload a list of contacts that are working at companies that have iOS apps into Sendbloom, and then filter out all those contacts who’s job title contains the word “Manager”.

Then you could filter out all the contacts whose company is using E-commerce solutions like Shopify, Magento & OpenCart.

Then you could further filter out all contacts who are in Retail, and exclude all companies that have more than 500 employees.

And then you could filter out all those where the average iOS app rating is better than 3.5.

Even if you do not need this level of granularity – it gives you a good idea of what’s possible in terms of targeted email campaign outreach. Segmenting your prospect lists and criteria that you can define on the fly is very easy.

This will allow you to operate agile and constantly test and iterate with your sales approach.

Personalized emails at scale with merge tags

All the attributes associated with a contact can then be inserted into the email templates you set up for your sales email campaigns.

sendbloom-mergetags

Combined with Sendbloom’s Segmentation Designer, this is a very powerful feature for highly-targeted outreach that can improve your email response rates significantly.

Eric Siu from Growth Everywhere wrote about this the benefits of Sendbloom in a blog post:

The main differentiator that I saw was that Sendbloom can actually automatically put your prospects into different segments and hit them with different e-mails. It’ll scan your prospects and see what type of software they’re all running on their websites and if they see something that you have specified, they’ll place them into a different segment.

For example, let’s say you started a Analytics company and want to see which companies run MixPanel or KISSmetrics. You could have a brief e-mail go out to these prospects indicating that you have a better solution to solving their analytics issues. The rest of the people that don’t have MixPanel or KISSmetrics can receive a generic e-mails.

Built-in reporting

Sendbloom shows you which prospects open or responded to your emails, which emails bounced and who clicked on a link in your emails.

In addition to that, you also get high-level campaign metrics.

campaignmetrics

Overall, their reporting isn’t as powerful as of many other sales email automation tools.

CRM integrations

Sendbloom can be integrated with Salesforce to log all correspondence data in your CRM. I’m not sure how much of the data will be in Salesforce, and how the data exchange between Sendbloom and Salesforce exactly works, so this is probably an area that you should look into yourself if this is something that’s important to you.

Conclusion

If setting up highly-targeted cold email campaigns is a regular part of your sales process, then it’s definitely check out Sendbloom.

The ease of use with which you can set up highly-targeted sales email campaigns is really where Sendbloom shines.

Competing vendors for Sendbloom are PersistIQ, SalesLoft & Outreach.

Check out their website for more: https://www.sendbloom.com

Content promotion tactic: Commenter pre-outreach

There are many variations of doing outreach to promote your blog posts. The most widely known, utilized (and abused) way is influencer outreach.

Cody Lister from MarketDoc recently shared a influencer tactic he’s been using that reaches out to people who have commented on other people’s blogs.

Here’s the method in a nutshell:

  1. Find posts that are similar to the blog post you’re about to publish using Buzzsumo, and then select those blog posts that have >15 comments
  2. Scrape and prep the commenter emails using import.io and a bunch of other tools
  3. Email these commenters letting them know about your upcoming post
  4. Notify them once your post is live

You can check out more detailed step-by-step instructions in Cody’s post (and find 20 more juicy blog promotion tactics)

Writing value propositions that stick in your website visitors’ minds

When it comes to creating marketing websites, a lot of people think that: “People don’t read.”

“There’s too much text.”

“Say this in less words.”

“Who’s gonna read all this?”

And while you definitely don’t want to overwhelm your website visitors with excessively long text-blocks that distract from the core messaging…

… don’t make the mistake of pruning away too much copy from your website, especially if it comes to copy that conveys your value proposition.

A recent experiment by the ConversionXL team showed that a bullet list with descriptions helped readers understand and recall the value proposition more accurately than shorter versions.

You can see the 4 variations here. The red boxes highlight the areas that have been modified.

value-proposition-presentation

Variation B, titled “Bulleted Descriptions” is the one that got the most views.

A lot of people would describe this page as “overloaded” and containing too much text.

But the test revealed that this very version was the one that was most successful at helping website visitors understand the value proposition of this website.

Unfortunately, they didn’t test (or if they did, they didn’t share the test results) of these landing pages and what the engagement metrics were. All they did was survey participants and track participants’ eye movements on the website.

So we don’t know if Variation B got less engagement than other variations – but the main takeaway from this experiment is this:

If you want people to actually read the value propositions you’re composing, limit other elements on the web page. Elements that stay on the page should be extremely relevant to the value proposition’s message.

The eye tracking also revealed that more text caused visitors to notice the value proposition faster, and spend more time reading it.

Data shows: A lot of short, low-quality content performs BETTER than fewer long, high-quality content pieces

Most content marketers agree that writing less and better content is the way to go.

The day of churning out a ton of low-quality content are long gone. This is something that worked in the past, but the algorithms (Google, FB, etc) are getting better at surfacing quality content that provides the best experience to the person spending time on the web.

This kind of summarizes how content marketers think about this topic nowadays.

Which is why I found The Future is More Content: Jeff Bezos, Robots and High Volume Publishing by Steve Rayson a thought-provoking post.

He looks at the Washington Post, and how a strategy seemingly spearheaded by Jeff Bezos led to a 28% increase in traffic between April 2015 & April 2016.

There are a lot of things that played into this growth (like Bandito, that allows editors to publish different versions of the same article, and then automatically optimizes the article to perform best. A kind of multivariate content testing tool), but according to Steve Rayson, the main factor was:

PUBLISH!

MORE!

CONTENT!

Less isn’t always more

He compares Social Media Examiner with Hubspot: moreorlesscontent

* these numbers are rounded and exactly accurate. But close enough to be viable for making the point.

Even thought SME gets A LOT more shares than HS per post… in the end, Hubspot is ahead by roughly about 1 million shares because of sheer volume.

When I looked recently at the most shared content published by marketing and IT sites, the data confirmed that on average long form posts achieved more shares. But when I looked in more detail at the 50 most shared posts, 45 of them were short form and under 1,000 words.

Which is interesting, cause it’s not what is commonly believed in content marketing land.

Steve Rayson also makes a point that you can’t just start churning out a ton of low-quality content. Google would most likely penalize you for that. He believes you first need to build up some authority, and only at some point can you really start pushing the MOAR-CONTENT button.

What’s “valuable” content?

As someone who cares about quality content, I had to really keep an open mind to his arguments, because

I

HATE

CRAPPY

CONTENT.

So here was a point that really made me think:

Maybe the way we’re measuring “quality” is flawed. Maybe in some cases, it’s not about the quality of the writing and the message, but more about timeliness and relevance. He brings up sports reporting as an example. What people care most about are the results.

Ultimately, people aren’t visiting your site because they want to be on your site. They want it to get something out of it. Give it to them as fast as you can, and make it easy for them to get it (with the least amount of effort).

That will make them come back to you for more.

Why this might all be wrong

Ronell Smith wrote in response to Steve’s post that he believes the “more content” theory is wrong.

His advice:

Determine the cadence with which your brand can create uniquely valuable content, which Rand defined and described in a 2015 Whiteboard Friday. The key is to focus the lion’s share of your attention on creating content that’s exclusive and recognized as best-by-far in its class.

He points out that most brands aren’t media companies.

He also mentions that we shouldn’t over-emphasize the importance of shares, and calls them “the cotton candy of content marketing”. (Which I think is on the money!💵)

But shorter content?

He does agree that content marketers have become infatuated with long-form content. It doesn’t have to be long. It has to be valuable. The length of the post should be determined by the needs of your audience.

In a nutshell, what Ronell advises content marketers to do is:

When creating content, we should begin with empathy being top-of-mind. That’s when you can allow your inner journalist to soar:

  • Who benefits most from this information (i.e., who, specifically, am I talking to?)
  • What are their specific needs?
  • Why is my brand uniquely qualified to satisfy those needs?
  • How can I best depict and share the information?
  • When is the optimal time to create, share and promote it?

Notice I never mentioned length. That was intentional.

The length of your content should be determined by your audience, not your brand.

Well said!

How to write high-value, low word-count posts

Ronell Smith also has a great methodology for writing highly-valuable short posts:

570ee0cbdff251.74128542.png

The key element with this approach is that it ensures I have a clear, strong point to make, then can back it up with supporting facts. The real genius of this approach is once I’ve covered my three points, I’m done.

The goal isn’t to write everything there is to write on a topic; the goal is to share sufficient information that leads to learning and/or opens the topic up for further discussion.

If you decide to use this approach/style of post, keep these numbers in mind:

100: Number of words to make your point in the initial paragraph

300: Total number of words for the three supporting points

50: Number of words in the closing paragraph, including the call to action

AdWords keywords: What does the plus-sign in front of keywords mean?

If you’re advertising with AdWords, you’re probably already familiar with the match types for keywords:

  • broad match
  • phrase match
  • exact match
  • negative match

But one thing many people aren’t aware of is what Google has termed broad match modifier.

These are basically like a tighter-controlled version of broadmatch, and they way you use them in AdWords is by adding a plus sign in front of all the keywords (and close variants) that you must be used in the search in order to trigger your ad.

Let’s look at a specific example:

sales software

This is a broad match term, and it might be triggered by a bunch of keywords that Google considered related (they’re calling these relevant keyword variations). In the case of sales software, these might be keywords like:

crm software

crm system

software sales

crm tools

Google has enough semantic context to understand that even though “CRM system” does neither include the word “sales” nor “software”, it’s still relevant.

But let’s say you actually don’t want these kinds of relevant keyword variations, but only those that do contain the word “sales”.

Here’s you could achieve this:

+sales software

By adding the plus sign in front of one or more of the keywords, you’re specifying that the word with the preceding plus sign (or a close variant) must be included in the search query. So with the above example, your ad might show up when someone searches for “sales crm” (because it does contain the word “sales), but not for “crm software” (because it doesn’t contain the word sales).

You can read more about the broad match modifier here, and about general keyword match types here.

Growth terminology: What’s a smoke test?

Smoke testing in the context of growth marketing is a way of quickly, and with very limited resources, finding out whether a growth idea is worth executing or not.

If you’re trying to gain traction for your software product, there are a ton of growth experiments you could run. Most of the time, growth marketers have no problem coming up with ideas, the challenge is to find out which idea to execute next.

Typically there’s a reliance on engineering that slows things down as well. “We’d love to execute that idea… but engineering is busy and they don’t have time to do this now.”

A smoke test is a method to validate a growth idea without relying on engineering.

Here’s an excerpt from Lean Startup:

Smoke test with its marketing materials. This is an old direct marketing technique in which customers are given the opportunity to preorder a product that has not yet been built. A smoke test measures only one thing: whether customers are interested in trying a product.

DistroDom (aka Dominic Coryell) released an excellent free course on smoke testing that you can go through in less than 1 hour.

Smoke test process

Dominic shared a 6 step process for smoke testing growth ideas:

  1. What is the hypothesis?
    Keep your hypothesis simple: If we do______(growth idea) then we’ll be able to achieve ______ (result) in ______ (time period) by investing ______ (dollar amount).
  2. What is the minimum proof I need?
  3. How can I get that proof with no coding?
  4. How can I get the right traffic?
  5. How can I measure conversion?
  6. How do I analyze and optimize?

=> What did I learn?

Why is this smoke test process so valuable? Because it enables you to let customer demand decide how to grow your business, rather opinions and guesstimates.

TKLinktottemplate

Smoke testing the smoke test course

One of the things I like the most about DistroDoms course is actually that he at the end of the course reveals how this free course is a smoke test for a paid course he’s launching on the same topic.

DistroDom’s hypothesis was:

  1. Hypothesis: If I give free content, people will like it enough and buy the course if they need more advanced courses from deep-dive experts.
  2. Minimum proof: If 15% of the people who see the landing page sign up for the free course, and there’s at least 100 signups for free.
  3. Do it with no coding: For this free course, no coding was required, but it would take DistroDom about 1 week to record all these videos for the free course before getting minimum proof.
    He set the landing page up using InstaPage and Canva to design some of the creative assets on that landing page. He also used emojis from EmojiOne.
    All the signups went into Autopilot using a simple 1-click integration for InstaPage. (He said it’s one of his favorite email automation tools, very low priced compared to comparable alternatives. Plans start at $20/month! He did a video screenshare of the Autopilot interface, and it looks really awesome. I might finally get rid of that old Aweber account I still pay for and move things over…)
  4. Right traffic: DistroDom didn’t have time to implement a referral program. So instead he sent people directly to the paid program landing page to see if anyone would buy. Some people did!
    When people sign up for the free course, he’s running their emails through ClearBit to get some context around who it is that’s signed up.
    In terms of getting early traction, he’s got a nice framework for how to get it:
    Network: Easy (low impact)
    Paid: Medium (medium impact)
    Community (blogs, forums, press, buzz, influencers…): Hard (high impact)
  5. Measure conversion: Since this was just an email signup form, it was super easy. Number of visitors & number of signups.
  6. Analyze & optimize: DistroDom hasn’t done that yet, since this is so early in the process.

With every growth experiment, there’s 3 phases:

  1. Smoke test it
  2. Get distribution
  3. Keep or toss it

Random things:

  • There are several useful templates in there that you can use to turn the theory into action.
  • He uses Jeff Bezos’ / Amazon’s press-release method to “announce” new ideas.
  • He often feeds data into these three tools to use them in different ways:
    Zapier
    Clearbit
    Stamplay – This is one I haven’t heard of before. It’s a visual API builder, and according to DistroDom “the most robust way to connect data”. Curious to try this out soon. They have a free plan, and then the paid plans range from $24/month to $499/month.

 

What is the Goal Flow report in Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics, there’s a report called Goal Flow.

First of all, in order to use this report at all, you must have goals set up.

A goal is a certain action you want a website visitor to take on your website.

Watch this video by Google explaining in less than 3 minutes what a goal is:

 

What types of actions can be goals?

There’s a variety of actions a website visitor can complete that you could define as goals in Google Analytics. But the most common two kinds of actions you’ll want to track as goals in Google Analytics are:

  • sign-ups or form submissions
  • purchases.

 

Why set up goals?

Setting up goals makes it easy for you to keep an eye on the most important metrics of your online business.

Goals can provide you with answers to the following questions:

  • How many conversions took place within a given date range?
  • What was the conversion rate?
  • Which marketing campaigns are performing best?

2 types of goals: Macro & Micro

There are two kinds of goals you want to define.

Macro goals

What’s the most important action you want website visitors to take? If you’re selling something online, then the answer is: making a purchase.

So every time a website visitors buys something on your website, that’s a macro goal.

If the primary objective of your website is to collect leads for an expensive service, then a form submission is a macro goal for you.

Micro goals

What are steps people often take before completing a macro goal?

In the case of an online shop, an example of a micro goal could be:

  • adding an item to a shopping cart
  • adding an item to a wish list
  • signing up for a newsletter
  • etc

There are no universal rules as to what the right way to define a micro goal is vs a macro goal, it’s all about the context in which these goals are relevant to your business.

You can learn more about Goals in Google Analytics here.

20 things I learned from reading Hiten Shah’s new book “5 Habits to Building Better Products Faster”

buildingbetterproducts

Here are the 20 things I learned from reading Hiten Shah’s new (free) book 5 Habits to Building Better Products Faster:

  1. Figure out what your customers need, instead of what you think they need.
  2. The early stages of product development aren’t at all about your constraints or your resources. They’re about focusing on what’s important: the customer.
  3. Work backwards like Amazon. New initiatives start out by writing an internal press release. More details here. Take the example of the press release for Amazon AWS (now a $9.6 billion run rate business):
    AmazonAWSpressrelease
    Writing this took the current head of AWS, Andy Jassy, 31 drafts before he took this to Jeff Bezos
  4. The jobs-to-be-done formula is:
    When_______, I want to _______, so I can ______.
    Check out what Intercom has written about the JTBD framework.
    Intercom’s example: When I talk to customers, I want to start conversations with the right customers at the right time, so I can get quality customer feedback.
    JTBD makes the customer the compass that drives the direction of your product development.
  5. Employee motivation should be aligned with happy customers” – Chris Savage, Wistia CEO
  6. Complex ideas are almost always a sign of muddled thinking or a made up problem.”—Sam Altman, Y Combinator
  7. One of the most important habits for continuous learning and improvement: writing stuff down.
    Documentation is often more a medium of self-discipline than a way to communicate information. -> better quality thinking
    Documentation is a reusable asset, and one that accrues in value and in quantity over time

    But I'm wondering... isn't there such a thing as death by documentation? Documentation overload? Too much documentation, so that the workplace becomes a big swamp, where it's impossible to move fast because you gotta wade through all that documentation?
  8. “The simple and familiar hold the secrets of the complex and unknown. The depth with which you master the basics influences how well you understand everything after that.” —Edward Burger and Michael Starbird, 5 Elements of Effective Thinking
    Start by thinking deeply about the basics, instead of everything that you’re hoping to achieve.
    Thinking deeply isn’t about increasing complexity. It’s about breaking problems down to their most basic form. Reduce the number of steps.
  9. Tony Fadell, who led Apple’s iPod team, spent six weeks in stealth mode looking at the competition.
  10. Otellini’s decision [to say no to Steve Jobs when asked to build a new processor for the first iPhone] was completely logical and also completely wrong.
    Without context and a larger vision for the future, data means nothing.
  11. Summarize findings into a single sentence. This forces you to look away from the numbers, and into what they actually mean for your product.
  12. Before you get started on an initiative, answer the following question: What would success look like?
  13. goodbadexample
  14. Use data to constantly challenge your assumptions, to validate hypotheses, and to solve urgent problems.
  15. The only advantage a startup has over larger companies is the ability to move quickly.
    Your competitive advantage comes from your ability to attack one problem at a time. Why?
  16. Former HubSpot VP of Growth, Brian Balfour, gives a 4-step process for building focus:

    1. Identify one long-term meaningful goal: This might mean boosting the single metric we discussed in the last chapter. The alternative to focusing on one goal that matters is to spread yourself thin on short-term optimizations in order to hedge your bets.

    2. Distill the most important thing to make progress toward that goal. Say that tour goal is to increase inside sales revenue by 40%. Using data has shown you that users integrating other services increases free trial conversions by 3x. You could then focus on getting these trial users on a call with a sales rep.

    3. Create a timeline for making progress long enough to gather data. All product initiatives need to have a clear goal, a measuring stick for what success looks like, and enough time to measure. For small teams, this should range from 30-60 days. Sticking to a timeline ensures that you don’t sink too many resources into a product goal that you can’t achieve. It allows you to move on and focus on the next thing.

    4. Editing your longer-term goal according to data. The fourth step is why it’s so important to set a single measurable goal in the rst place. It’s what allows you to gure out what you’re doing right and wrong, and improve. Making mistakes is forgivable and inevitable in product, but failing to learn from them is wasteful. Startups operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty, and it’s tempting to

  17. Focus + Sequence = Speed
  18. Project management spreadsheet Hiten loves: click here
  19. A small improvement to a high-impact feature is far more important than a large improvement to a low-impact feature.
  20. Every day, ask yourself one question: “Am I working on the right thing, right now?”

I’d highly recommend you get yourself a free copy of the book and study it. Plus, you can even get a free consultation from him, which is freaking insane.

2 Pageviews, 2 spam comments

So at this point of this blog, I couldn’t care less about the number of pageviews and visitors I’m getting. It just doesn’t matter at this point.

But what surprised me was the effectiveness of the spamb0ts.

I got exactly two visitors to marketingbaby.com since I launched the blog, that’s what Google Analytics tells me.

traffic

(Btw. I’m launching a new ‘how to get rich on the internet with high-traffic websites’ course. If you sign up now, you’ll get it for a discounted $198!)

Which is funny, cause I also got two spam comments on my blog:

spamcomments

Spam never sleeps!

Content marketing metrics: How Intercom measures content performance

If you’re serious about content marketing, you know that one of the most difficult things it to measure its effectiveness.

(Once you’ve got things up and running that is, and you’re getting enough attention from the right kind of audience).

Solving the content marketing attribution problem is a huge challenge. Hubspot, and many other marketing solutions are pretty much build around that problem.

So it’s always interesting to hear how companies currently winning in content are going about this.

Which is why I found this interview with Intercom’s Managing Editor, John Collins, super interesting. Around 30 minutes into the call, the talk about content marketing metrics:

At Intercom, they’ve got a really strong finance and analytics team, and there’s an analytics person who works on the marketing side, so they’ve got a lot of internal data.

One of they ways they measure content marketing ROI is by segmenting signups based on behavior.

Some of the segments they have:

  1. people who first came to the marketing site, and then to the blog and then signed up for the product.
  2. people who went to the marketing site and signed up for the product, without visiting the blog.
  3. people who come to the blog first, then go to the marketing site and sign up

They found that first segment has a higher average LTV than the second or third.

So this is how they analyze the ROI of their content on a really high level.

On a more micro-level, they don’t get too hung up on metrics.

They don’t attribute certain blog posts to signups. If a post gets a low number of pageviews, then that’s a good enough indicator that this kind of content isn’t probably the best thing to repeat.

Pageviews are really only important if you’re selling advertising. And none of us are.—John Collins

You can listen to the entire interview here:

 

What are some interesting ways you’ve seen companies measuring the effectiveness of their content marketing?