Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

First written early in 2017, re-discovered in drafts.

Photo by Arvind Thangli on Unsplash

Process: Facebook Advertising is a wonderful rabbit hole. I’ve done Facebook Ads in the past. It’s easy to get carried away by all the targeting options like, custom audiences, interests, demographics, placements, bid types, ad types etc.

But it’s important to focus within your resources, both people and budgets. Sure you can make gorgeous canvas ads to create an immersive experience with embedded videos and what not. But is the complexity and overhead worth it? Sure you can create Facebook Ad funnels with a blog post for the first group, use the Facebook Pixel to re-target those who read the blog with a gated offer and then re-target those with a free trial or demo. But it’s a factor of much money are you willing to spend, how often do you want to actively monitor campaigns, ad sets and ads and tweak and keep an eye on things. Yes you can setup automated rules within Power Editor now to take some of that headache off you but does if you are only spending $500 per campaign, with 5 campaigns and 2 ad-sets and 4 creatives, is it not easier to simplify the process?

Experimentation and process is an important part of learning, but only after you’ve reached the local maximum in your current setup. In my case, doing Adwords, Adroll, GDN, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook meant that my rather limited ad spend was getting chopped up across these channels and not really getting its full potential. For any meaningful learning to happen, you need to have enough data points to look at.

Spending $100 on Adroll and reaching 50 people but not seeing early results didn’t mean it wouldn’t work. It just mean I hadn’t figured out what would work.

Learning in most experiments is a function of sample size. For example, if you only get 100 people to your landing page that you have 2 variations of, and variation B is shown to 50 people and 5 of them signup for your product, does that mean the same will hold true when 5,0000 people land on that page? Most likely not. And how long does it to get 5,0000 eye balls on a page? Months? Is it worth testing something over a period of 8 months when you only expect to see a 2% increase in signups? Does it have a significant impact on your business? I won’t get into the math of the statistics behind it, but something to think about.

The same held true for my ad spend. If I am spreading my budget across every available channel, with LinkedIn being the most expensive & only getting a handful of people to click on the ads. Is that a learning? Or just a waste? On top of that, within each ad network, there’s at-least a dozen things you can change like ad creative to attribution windows to bids to targeting.


Learning comes from structured process and smart decisions to focus vs trying 20 different things but not really trying them well.

4 years ago, I wouldn’t have said process. I probably would have been that person who spent $100 on each available ad network including Snapchat, partially out of curiosity without asking if my audience uses Snapchat.

Process helps you answer questions like what you are trying to do and how will you do it? How will you document results so 6 months from now, you can reference them instead of repeating the same mistakes?

How I’ve started doing it: writing everything down in a Google Doc.

Before I start a new advertising campaign, I take sometime to create a document outlining my assumptions, strategy (driving new audience or trying to reach an existing one) which defines the audience (interests + behaviour + web) & ad creatives.

After the campaign is over (I structure them by months for ease of budgeting) I export the results into excel and see if there’s any correlation or patterns that I can repeat.

An example is that in March, I noticed that most of the conversions from Facebook Ads came via Desktop and Apple Devices:

Conversions by Device (exported from Facebook Ads for CrowdRiff)

So in the next campaign , I created Ad Groups targeted by device:

  • Desktop
  • iPhone
  • All Devices

With the same audiences across ad groups to test the assumption. Since my previous campaign strategy & results are documented, I can always go back and see what I did and compare.

December 2017 update: The device targeting didn’t result in a significant change in results.

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Agencies: It was after dinner when I got the call from alawyer from the west coast specializing in real estate & family law. Looking to dive into marketing to drive new business, a mutual friend had introduced us earlier.

He shared his experience with a local agency that promised to increase his search rankings but after 6–8 months, without any solid results, he decided to part ways.

With another agency proposal in hand, he was looking for an extra pair of eyes for a sanity check.

As I looked the proposal he sent over from a full service agency, it sounded needlessly complex for a small law firm. The agency had line items for content calendar, social media marketing, Adwords (setup and ongoing) and even press releases.

My first instinct was to look at Google Analytics and the % traffic via social media & what % of visits came through the blog and general content spot check. The numbers of referrals from social in GA didn’t justify the $$ on social media setup & and on-going $ for social media marketing (posting?). All social channels combined were bringing in less then 2% of the traffic, which could have been bots since the bounce rate was high. The blog; a mix of client stories for the most part, did not have a strong organic reach.

We didn’t get into each line item, but I told him that in my view, the proposal he got was trying to do too much. It was a local law firm that only worked with local clients, folks don’t tend to follow lawyers on Twitter, unless they have a super witty social team (Wendys anyone).

My two cents were to stop putting up client stories on the blog they belong as testimonials on the site, instead focus on search keywords and intent and break it into two buckets:

  • Brand Affinity: focus on keywords that are informational — How do find a good real estate lawyer, example of house transfer contract etc, what happens during divorce or separate etc. Search queries where someone isn’t looking to hire someone right away but looking for more information.
  • Buying Intent: Good lawyers near me, real estate lawyer <city name> etc. This is also a direct conversion (have Ad extensions setup) but also if you did the brand affinity strategy, your customer is already familiar with your name so they’re more likely to click/convert on your ad.

The second suggestion I had was to perhaps hold some offline workshops or free office hours and put up some subway ads in the city. Press releases and scheduling posts in buffer would hardly move the needle for him.

Thought’s comments questions? Let me know on Twitter.


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Going to Pakistan next week so brushing up my Pashto (Hey Dad, Mom, Gol and Aimal can’t wait to see you again 🙂 )

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, or months. I don’t remember when was the last time I sent this out, but it’s been a while. I won’t get into the details, most of you already know my personal/work life and since this gets republished on Medium and LinkedIn at some point, I don’t want to make it public.

I am looking for help with editing an ABM post I wrote. Interested? Let me know. I sent it to the editors at Inbound.org and they are interested but it needs some work.

Which brings me to the next thought, most of you know I am a big reader and between my new subscription (paper in the mailbox) for New Yorker and Medium I read quite a bit. This morning there was a interesting tweet(storm) by a senior executive at Hubspot about content that I embedded below and hopefully works in Gmail. Now Hubspot is a company built on the whole concept of ‘content’. But Peter Caputa (VP Sales) at Hubspot made the case of storytelling and bloggers being more like writers and writing ‘in-depth’ essays. I on the other hand think that is a luxury only companies of a certain size can afford. Think about marketing on a spectrum of revenue and there’s an end of demand generation where the focus is on revenue, direct response and leads and the other end is brand marketing (stable revenue stage). My disagreement was two fold:

1) a company like Hubspot can afford to run an editorial operation completely divorced from the Demand Generation operations, as can Zendesk. 
2) A company below certain ARR /<insert a local startup or SMB> here needs to keep it’s content focused on direct response. That means focusing on keywords, writing about things that come up in sales calls that SDR’s/BDR’s can use when they’re making calls or marketing can use in campaigns. It has to ultimately help generate revenue in some way. 
3) A company that has a great editorial operation like Mattermark comes to mind, but I am not a customer and I read the analysis by @alex and the newsletter curated by @nick and it’s unlikely I will be a customer. Companies like Buffer who write about transparency and operations also heavily write about social media marketing and ‘direct response’ writing.

Preliminary thoughts. No conclusions reached yet but wanted to put it in writing.

Here are the embedded tweets I mentioned. Goodnight!

Yes to this entire rant/tweetstorm 🙌 https://t.co/gImXWO6Xgt

— Janessa Lantz (@janessalantz) December 14, 2016

This was sent earlier as part of Overdrafted. Subscribe here.

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Photo Credit: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1468309218808-b673d545d957?ixlib=rb-0.3.5&q=80&fm=jpg&crop=entropy&cs=tinysrgb&s=7f613564f8e45eb116209f29ed92b808

This is Edition 9 of Overdraft. Signup here if you feel like it.

Edition 9: Demand Generation Funnel

Hey friends and family,

I’ve read a series of articles on Medium about lead scoring, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) & Product Qualified Lead (PQL).

My head is buzzing so I will try to keep this coherent.

First of all, this article talks about building a predictive lead scoring model. It’s quite the buzz these days in B2B Marketing circles, with different vendors with hefty price tags and ominous black boxes selling their wares. However let’s break it down; B2B technology vendors are notorious for vague copy on their website, without actually explaining what or how they do it. I guess that helps them fuel the ‘demo request’ forms.

Traditional lead scoring is based on 2 dimensions:
– Straight up things like job title, company size (a proxy for revenue which means ‘disposable money to spend on technologies’) and mostly country and other such things.
– Behaviour, which means if they’ve actually been to your website/blog a couple of times and read or downloaded some eBooks and such.

Note: Remember to have negative scoring for things like email bounced, blank title, unsubscribed from marketing emails and such. Otherwise you’re lead score will, in theory, trend towards infinity.

Where lead scoring falls short? A couple of things, the world isn’t perfect and data isn’t clean. Someone might self identify as a VP of Marketing but in reality they might be a Marketing Manager. It’s all user generated anyway. Secondly if you use a third party data service to augment your lead records, you have a single point of failure. If the third party returns null or wrong data, your whole model is thrown off. 

So what is predictive lead scoring? It’s the idea (data science anyone?) that you look at a sample size of all the customers you got and look for similarities. If you have a large enough sample size and enough data points, there might be some commonalities like certain industries, behaviours (attended your webinar twice around ‘Lead Management for High Performing Marketing Teams’), spent 3 minutes look around your pricing page, had job titles within a certain area or other overlaps. These themes give you data points on what your ideal customer profile looks like and instead of having a linear lead scoring model, you have a weighted one. After all, not all behaviours are created equal, some are more equal then others. The challenge of-course that the process from visit to customer isn’t linear or simple. But a large enough sample size offers insights.
Should you then drop a hefty sum on a predictive lead scoring tool? Nope – Hubspot already offers it in built into their tool and you can build one yourself using excel by using regression analysis. What is regression analysis is a project for me for next week.

The second article talked about how traditional excel sales/revenue growth models often are based on historical funnel conversion rates which leads to total lead/MQL target madness. Yes, I’ve been there. But historical conversion rates aren’t predictive of the future, they’re an opportunity of improvement. If you MQL targets or lead targets are 8000 a month, then there’s definitely something leaky in your funnel and it’s better to fix that. What is the bottle neck? is it the Sales Qualified stage? Is that because of head count? Or is there a broken process? For example your funnel looks like this:

Lead -> MQL = 90%
MQL -> SAL = 40%
SAL -> SQL = 8%
SQL -> Opp = 50%
Opp -> Customer = 60%

It’s clear that there’s a 8% conversion rate that is causing the MQL/Lead number to inflate beyond control. What is causing that? What can be improved? If only 8% of the leads are being qualified by sales, what is happening to the rest of the 92%? Are they thrown out and replaces by new MQLs? Why not recycle them? Or is it simply that the MQL’s are not true MQL’s and hence not replying or engaging with sales? Can the channels/messaging and positioning be shuffled to better explain what the product does for whom so those who do fill out a form actually know what they’re getting into? One too many B2B SaaS products have vague ambiguous copy on their website, but interesting blog/ebooks that someone will download with no intention of buying the product or rather no idea what the product does. 

Process is essential but hard to get right but essential to the demand generation funnel. Hard to get right because there’s two ‘departments’ on a constant head butt with each other: sales & marketing. Traditionally, marketing is responsible for Leads -> MQL and Sales is SQL -> Customer. But both have varying incentives in places. I am all for SDR/BDR teams being under the Demand Generation/Marketing teams, to help simplify the process changes and align goals. 

Last thing: Product Qualified leads. This is a concept on freemium products, where a user has a free trial or free version and hits a ‘wall’. The wall can be a premium feature leading to a landing page or hitting the max quota on their plan or something of the sort. However I find this only works in the case of freemium products, if your product has no entry point to a account and usage, this model would not work.

Here are all the links:
Stop the Lead Scoring Madness.
Lead Scoring Models [Slide Share]
Product Qualified Lead
Before You Widen The Top of the Funnel

Before I go, here’s a fantastic read by Erin from Fortune on Cruise Automation that sold to GM Motors for a a mind boggling amount of money and how GM and Cruise is keeping things alive.

It’s been a while. I hope you’ve all been well. 


This is Edition 9 of Overdraft. Signup here if you feel like it.

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I came across Tara Hunt’s new video over on LinkedIn via Amrita. Tara talks about the misconception of marketing as something that follows everything else. It’s a symptom of the ‘engineering’ driven company mindset where it’s overly focused on the technology but not really keeping a line of sight on who the technology is for. For example Uber thinks of itself as an operational/logistics company which uses technology to scale. The same argument can be made for 80% of companies that label themselves as tech.

Marketing is the process of bringing a product to market.

If a company says ‘we achieved 100% YoY growth without a single dollar spent on marketing’ my next question is great — how did people actually hear about you if you didn’t do any marketing? You probably did but you don’t realize it and also don’t confuse advertising on the web with marketing.

Are Casper, Endy and a dozen other mattress companies tech companies or mattress companies? They argue they are tech companies. Maybe because it makes it easy to get funding from venture capitalists, who would want to put money into a mattress company? I’d call them ‘Internet Enabled’ businesses. A mattress is a mattress. The differentiation from where I stand is the branding. That’s why the Canadian company Endy (I first called it Eva that is how saturated and similar the name’s are) has bought entire Toronto Subway ads for itself and Casper has sleep pop up shops around the city.


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Photo-credit: Deviant Art: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Untitled-634298413


Just before I started writing this, I was in a call with Meta Data.They’re a B2B ad/marketing tool with a hybrid agency model. There’s a platform but they also offer creative services to design and manage the ads. It’s an interesting model, that I’ve come across recently. It reminds me of the concierge service that I started for Organimi to build company org charts in Organimi in the 2nd year of the company’s existence. Do more companies adapt it to increase the LTV of their customers or is it because ultimately something can’t be done by machines? In the case of Meta Data, they have a platform fee for accessing the product and additional creative services and management fee (optional from what I can tell).

Closer to Toronto, Betakit ran story on Vantage that pivoted to a similar(?) model with a added a similar component from the sounds of it.

So this is an interesting one. China is the Bitcoin super power. Imagine trekking the mountains of Tibet and thinking your away from civilization and you hear the familiar sound of a electronic hum. The cheap power and relatively cheap labour makes it a mecca for Bitcoin mining. I don’t think Bitcoin itself is going to be a normalized currency for the next 10–20 years atleast, not until everyone agree’s on its value. I can buy coffee with Bitcoin, sure but if I want to pay rent, my landlord will raise an eyebrow and kick me out.
“These are concerns that have parallels with the way China is using its digital market power to reshape the Internet and influence the global debate about censorship and surveillance.”
Why are we so paranoid about China? They already run the half the world if not more. Read the Post essay here.

I am a huge fan of Rand & Sarah (Moz) and in light of the recent layoffs, they’ve faced some serious heat. But Rand in in signature tell all style wrote about the layoffs from his perspective and its a great read on the hard choices you make to run a business. There’s been layoffs in Canadian Tech recently but they’ve been pretty hush hush. Especially recent ones in Toronto. People will find out and its better to get ahead of it and explain. I was tempted to use ‘control the narrative’ here but that sounds like Theranos a little too much. Moz had to make a tough choice but it was the right choice. Ultimately you have to operate a business and if they did not make the layoffs, it would have run the business to the ground. The folks who were let go supported each other and even made a site Hiremoz to make it easy for companies looking for talent to hire them.

For the marketers reading this, here’s Drift putting out all the emails they use. This partially marketing, partially transparency but definitely helpful.

I haven’t been on Quora on a while. I always wonder about where that company is headed. They have a incredible community but sometimes there’s formulaic answers to questions which are optimized for up-votes. Perhaps that’s me being skeptical. At some point they will have to monetize it, will they use ML or some sort of technology to serve ads related to people’s queries? I’ve ‘exploited’ it for traffic and signups in the past and it worked well. We’re all guilty of finding loopholes.

Facebook Video’s are weird. They auto-play so it counts as a view but I rarely watch them. Now Facebook is saying they made mistakes measuring views vs ad spends for brands. Growing pains of video on social and how to get ad dollars from TV on to the internet.

What is this and how is this different from Airbnb? It’s called Sonder and it also works in the same home-sharing model as Airbnb. I poked around the site, which looks alot like Airbnb. But design-wise, it works. So why re-make something that isn’t broke.. I know Flatbook, but from my impressions Flatbook is niche sub-lets market from what I can tell.

Edit — Flatbook re-directs to Sonders so they re-branded and pivoted? Google still indexes them as Flatbook

It’s friday. Have a great weekend!


P.S Excuse any typos. This was written at 5pm on a Friday.

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Cognitive Bias Codex — Buster Benson. Buy it here: https://www.designhacks.co/products/cognitive-bias-codex-poster

Hey/ Salaam there,

9 subscribers, including my wife (hey Soph), dad (hey Dad), Siblings ( Boogie: Gul, Aimal)

Before anything — Trump has been getting more media coverage then he deserves. I wish we’d just ignored him and let him wither in the darkness. But we didn’t. So now Josh Whedon has gotten together a ‘sh&t ton of famous people’ because it’s that important.

I have never been to EW but this video was spectacular and touching. Watch it here.

While we’re on the topic of politics. Respect to Reid Hoffman for launching Trump cards. My eyes went a little wide open when the post mentioned ‘People who work for him personally’. I wonder how much Reid makes to pay his personal staff from his own pocket. ALOT.

Continuing the thread, why don’t more business leaders speak up against Trump? Fear according to NYT & Hoffman.

Found this from a friend who shared it on Twitter (thanks Cori) — Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet. If there’s one thing you click out of this email, this should probably be the one.

Airbnb: I got a call from them yesterday, asking why I am not hosting with them anymore. I explained I was renovating the house so I snoozed it. But I was surprised at the relatively ‘old school’ tactic. This was the first time I got a call from Airbnb but it was an interesting call. Might be signs of something changing. Might not be anything. Speaking of Airbnb, I loved how they tied Superhosting and a ‘Market place’ for hosts to manage other properties. I bet the crop of ‘Airbnb Management’ companies will be given a run for their money. Glad I did not get into the space, even though I played around with the idea and did some research.

Spotify and Tinder are best friends now. It just isn’t about dating, it’s about owning pop culture. Spotify hasn’t been having the best of times, but it’s aggressive partnerships strategy might help it bump its paid subscribers number ahead of an IPO perhaps? I got Spotify premium bundled in with my carrier plan so I didn’t blink an eye. Otherwise I would have questioned splurging $10 a month on it.

If you are in Marketing, you know about Lead Nurturing. Here’s a 36 Minute Read on Lead Nurturing. It’s long but I love the illustrations. I think Intercom and Dropbox & Stratechery made them popular and with the iPad Pro anyone can sketch on a screen. My take away on lead nurturing, don’t over-do or over-complicate it. It reaches a point of diminishing returns pretty quickly. Either someone will buy your product or they wont. Bombarding them with emails; educational or otherwise won’t change their minds or create FOMO or a need out of thin air.

That’s all for today. Back to my day job now.

P.S Trying to figure out the optimal workflow. I am trying a dedicated notebook in Evernote.

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