Lake One’s Paid Media Glossary

Paid advertising is often a great way to increase traffic and sales as you’re growing and sustaining your online presence. But the lingo can be a little confusing if you aren’t used to hearing it every day. To help, here’s Lake One’s paid media glossary of terms, including a breakdown of the basic types of paid media to help identify which ones might be a fit for you.

Paid Media Glossary

Types of Paid Media

1) Retargeting Ads

Retargeting is a form of paid media that serves ads to users who have already engaged with your site or social media page. The goal of retargeting is to re-engage users with your brand.

Because retargeting works via cookie tracking, it allows you to target your ads to a specific behavior. For instance, you can retarget an ad to people who abandoned their online shopping carts or viewed a specific webpage.

Pros to retargeting: Great for keeping your brand top-of-mind and moving users further along the funnel. 

Cons to retargeting: Not a strategy for acquiring new visitors.

2) Display Ads 

Display ads, or sometimes called Banner Ads, are static image ads. These are the ads that you see when browsing the web, outside of social media or Google. Display ads can be run as a form of retargeting, so this is why you might see an ad for the eCommerce site you just visited pop up on your fav news site. Display ads can also be interest-based: i.e. getting an ad for Recipes.com after browsing a few different sites for Thanksgiving dinner planning.

Display ads on Google all run through what’s called the Google Display Network. This is a vast network of over 2 million websites that are connected to Google and able to display your ad. Google estimates that this network is able to reach up to 90% of the internet.

Here’s are some examples of display ads not based on retargeting.

Paid Media Glossary

Pros to Display Ads: Retargeting through display ads can be especially effective when retargeting.

Cons to Display Ads: Display ads usually have low click rates and are typically used for awareness campaigns.

3) Pay Per Click Ads

Pay per click, or PPC, is what the industry calls advertising within search engine results. These are the “paid results” you see on Google (or Yahoo or Bing, etc.) before the organic search results display. You will only pay for an ad if it gets clicked, and the amount you pay will vary greatly depending on your targeting.

Paid Media Glossary

Pros to PPC: Effective way to get to the top of the search engine results and generate traffic. 

Cons to PPC: Can be expensive depending on your targeted keywords and often requires a higher level of expertise to be effective.

4) Social Ads

Paid Media Glossary

Socials ads are advertising served on any social media platform. Facebook and Instagram ads can be managed together while Twitter and LinkedIn need to be done directly through their ad serving platforms. (Here are some tips on LinkedIn advertising.) Depending on your audience’s social media savviness, advertising on these platforms can be hugely successful. 

Here’s an example of a retargeting social ad. These shoes and the cellphone case are specific products I’ve reviewed recently.

Pros to Social Ads: Platforms range in expense but are generally cheaper than other options plus offer the ability to target very niche groups, especially when using LinkedIn for B2B purposes.

Cons to Social Ads: Focus is typically on visuals of ads and some platforms, like Instagram, have high aesthetics expectation. It can involve trial and error when getting started.

Targeting Options

1) Mobile

Ads served just to mobile users and not to desktop.

2) Native

Ads that blend into the environment and do not look like ads; typically on social media.

3) Geofencing

Targeting an ad to a specific geographical area- can be down to specific zip codes.

4) Dayparting

Only serving an ad during specific times of the day (such as business hours) to increase targeting based on persona search habits.

5) Exact Match

In PPC ads, exact match ads are only served when your exact keywords are searched (e.g. exact match for “Best St. Paul Moving Company” won’t serve an ad for “Best Rated St. Paul Moving Company”).

6) Phrase Match 

In PPC ads, phrase match ads are served when there is a contextual match for your keywords. (e.g. phrase match for “Best St. Paul Moving Company” will serve an ad for “Best Rated St. Paul Moving Company”).

7) Bid

The budget you’re willing to pay for your ad to display. Bids can be set by click, impression, and/or on a daily/monthly basis.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Paid Media KPIs

1) Impressions

How many people have seen your ad. Unique Impressions are the individual people who viewed your ad vs Total Impressions which counts each and every view independently, even if one person viewed your ad more than once.

2) Click or Clickthrough

The total clicks on your ad.

3) Clickthrough Rate

The percentage of impressions that received a click.

4) Cost per Click

How much you’re paying on average to receive a click on your ad.

5) Cost per Acquisition

The average cost you’re paying for a goal to be completed (a goal can be a purchase, a form submitted, etc.)

6 Must-Track B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Are you using email to send content to your leads and customers? If you’re not, turns out you’re part of the minority.

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Whether you’re a seasoned marketing pro or an email novice, check out the list of our top B2B email marketing KPIs we like to track. But before we dive into the metrics, we need to touch on one major email marketing necessity, goals. 

Email Marketing Goals 

You should know by now that random acts of marketing (executing marketing tactics that aren’t part of an overarching strategy) are a major don’t in our book and that definitely applies to emails. You might be thinking, “It’s just an email.” And in a sense, you’re right. However, all email communication whether it be a newsletter or a simple follow up email post-download needs to be part of a greater digital marketing strategy.

Learn all about Lake One’s Digital Strategy here.

Okay, so how do you go from the big picture down to your email campaigns? You break it down email by email.

HubSpot recommends doing a quick gut check before you send your next email by asking yourself these questions. What is the goal of my email marketing? Is it to grow my subscriber database? Generate more leads? To convert more existing leads into customers?

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

Once you have your goal(s) determined, you’re ready to figure out which metrics you need to track. Read on for our top 6 fav B2B Email Marketing KPIs.

Need help goal setting? Download our SMART Goals template. 

#1. Bounce Rate

What is bounce rate? Bounce rate is the percentage of emails that could not be successfully delivered to the email recipient’s inbox. 

Why we track bounce rate: Emails can bounce for several reasons and fall into two categories, “hard” and “soft”. Soft bounces are temporary problems with delivery like issues with an email client’s server. Hard bounces are permanent problems such as a nonexistent email address and will never be delivered. 

Okay, so an email can’t be delivered, how does that affect you? Our friends at HubSpot say contact list cleanup is a must and we agree. All hard bounces should be removed from your list immediately because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key factors to determine an email sender’s reputation. Too many bounces = Spammer when it comes to ISPs. 

#2. Open Rate

What is open rate? Open rate is the percentage of recipients that open a given email.

Why we track open rate: Recipients can’t convert if they aren’t opening your emails, so the open rate can be a great place to start for optimization. We have to disclose though, not everyone is a fan of tracking open rate because it can be an unreliable metric. An email only counts as opened if the recipient also receives all embedded images within that email. Image blocking is an option via email clients- it’s definitely a possibility your number is off. 

So all of the above aside, we still like to keep open rate on our radar, especially when optimizing subject lines and using it comparatively. 

B2B Email Marketing KPIs

#3. Click-Through-Rate 

What is Click-through-rate? CTR is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links in an email. We often refer to the links as the Call-to-Action (CTA) of the email.

Why we track CTR: CTR is a great indicator of how your email is performing and if your content is resonating with your personas. Are recipients actually clicking on the links that you want them to click on? According to Campaign Monitor, the average click-through rate for most campaigns is slightly over 4%. Here are some tips on how to optimize your followup email CTAs for a higher CTR.

#4. Conversion Rate

What is conversion rate? Conversion rate is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on an email CTA and completed the desired action. Think completing a form, signing up for a free trial, making a purchase, etc.

Why we track conversion rate: Conversion rate is the money maker! Both figuratively and quite literally in some instances. The first step in email marketing is getting the user to click on your link in the email and the second is getting them to convert. This is a major metric in determining if you are meeting your goals.

Lead to MQL/Customer Conversion Rate

Depending on your email campaign goals you can really drill down when it comes to conversion rate. It can also spin off into other metrics such as Lead to Marketing Qualified conversion rate and Lead to Customer conversion rates. 

#5. ROI

What is B2B Email Marketing ROI? ROI is the overall return on investment for your B2B email marketing campaign. 

Why we track ROI: ROI is a KPI staple. Just like any other initiative within your company, you need to track ROI. Are you making money? Are your marketing efforts helping the bottom line? ROI analysis can point out areas of opportunity and areas that are burning cash. 

While we’re talking about KPIs, are you tracking your sales and marketing team alignment? Here’s some more info.

#6. Unsubscribe Rate

What is Unsubscribe Rate? Unsubscribe rate is the rate at which email recipients are unsubscribing from receiving email communication from your company. 

Why we track unsubscribe rate: Unsubscribes alone shouldn’t be the only indicator you review for email performance; however, if your unsubscribes are high, check it out! Perhaps your email is too aggressive, your customers have outgrown you, or your persona messaging is off.

Whatever the reason, high unsubscribe rates are like a big flashing light saying, “Change needed here.” 

Smart Goals Worksheet Template

Words to the Wise

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers and become hyper-focused on the KPIs, but here are few things to keep in mind.

  1. Keep it in perspective. Don’t rest solely on percentages. Make sure to look at how many recipients are contributing to the data before you go optimization crazy.
  2. Optimize. And then Optimize again. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you see a number you don’t like, optimize! Emails are perfect candidates for testing. 
  3. Give it time. You want to give your email campaign time to do its thing. Rapid-fire changes aren’t helpful because it muddies the waters of what’s actually contributing to the change. 

Practical Ways to Implement A/B Testing on Conversion Funnels

A conversion funnel is what we call the path a user follows to convert on a landing page. You can read more about the basics here, but the parts that make up a conversion funnel are the CTA, Landing Page, Thank You Page, and the Thank You Email. As marketers and business people, we want people to convert, but sometimes our marketing underperforms or our guts say that good performance could be better. So then we test. Here are practical ways to implement A/B testing on conversion funnels and improve their performance. 

Implement A/B Testing

A/B Testing CTAs

CTA testing in HubSpot could not be any easier. By creating two versions of your CTAs- A and B- HubSpot will naturally serve the CTAs equally. When running multivariate CTA testing, we’re focusing the majority of our attention on the Click Rates because clicks are the main goal of a CTA. Submission rates are a secondary factor because they are mostly an indication of your landing page performance. The caveat here is relevance, though. High clicks and low submission rates can be an indication that the promise of your CTA is incongruent with that of your landing page. The messaging of one or the other may need to be adjusted. 

Not all leads are created equal! Download our Lead Scoring Guide to learn how to automate your lead qualification.

In this example, version A and B were created at the same time. After a few months of testing, both have nearly identical views, but the clicks on version B are a full percentage point higher. At this point, since we have a decent amount of data, it might be time to create a new version “A” to see if we can beat or at least match version B.

Implement A/B Testing

A/B Testing Landing Pages

HubSpot also makes implementing A/B testing on landing pages super easy. What you’re looking at when testing landing pages are submissions. WordStream tells us we want 10% or higher to be considered among the best. Some of the things you could vary are your headlines and copy. You can even try testing the medium of your offer- guide vs eBook vs infographic etc.- to see what your audience is more compelled to utilize.

One of the biggest advantages to A/B testing a landing page is to see how the length of a form affects your submissions. As marketers, we of course want as much data as we can get, but we also know that there’s a breaking point in what we request. High-value offers have a higher threshold for longer forms. To test, create two variants of your landing page- one with a shorter form and one with a more complex form- to find out where your persona’s threshold is. If you can get away with having a longer form and requesting more information without your submissions rates suffering, go for it.

If you’re not sure where to start with your landing page testing, you can try setting up heat mapping to see exactly how your users are interacting with your page. You might find people are leaving right away (a better headline or more appealing design, perhaps?) or abandoning the form (shorten that sucker up!). Bounce rates can also indicate where to start.

Bonus: are your landing pages optimized for SEO? Learn more about it here.

A/B Testing Thank You Pages

You create Thank You Pages (TYPs) variants the same way you do Landing Pages in HubSpot. So what are you looking for here? Engagement. You want people to access their offer (via a link or a button) and then go on to engage with the site. This is where you have the opportunity to move them through the funnel or charm them with delight. You can create full variants of your TYP or try testing a CTA within your TYP as we discussed above. 

A/B Testing Thank You Emails (Kind of)

Thank You Emails are the automated emails that send after a user submits a form. They can be set up directly on the landing page form or via a workflow. Unfortunately, you cannot implement A/B testing of automated emails in HubSpot. But, there are a few ways to get around it. What you want to measure by testing thank you emails are your open rates and click rates.

Lead Scoring Guide

Open rates are correlated to the strength of your subject line. To test, benchmark your current views and opens then manually make and publish your updates to the same email. Allow your updates to gather data and then measure performance against your benchmarked data. Rinse and repeat.

You can test the click rates in your thank you emails by creating multivariate CTAs as discussed in the CTA section above. You can also manually update the copy and hyperlinks to your “next step” offer (whatever action you’ve included in your TYE that you want your user to take next such as downloading a different offer or contacting you for a consult). Benchmark your stats and revisit often to check the efficacy of your updates. 

5 Types of Digital Marketing Audits: Must-ask questions to get your audit underway

When it comes to your digital marketing program (or at times, lack thereof) conducting a digital audit can be both eye-opening and exciting. Yes, we said exciting! From your website to your content to your tech stack, audits examine it all. The digital marketing audit is your ticket to finding out the state of the state and where the opportunity is for you to make a quick splash on your modern marketing and sales program. 

So, if you think you could be squeezing more results out of your current marketing plan or are feeling a little in the dark about your tech stack, then this one’s for you. Here are the 5 types of digital marketing audits Lake One utilizes, along with some of the top probing questions we ask to kick off the process.

digital marketing audits

1. Google Analytics Audit

The primary purpose of a Google Analytics Audit is to walk-through your site’s tracking implementation and setup. It goes beyond just paid media although that does play a part. From conversion to clicks to time spent on your site, here are a few questions to ask yourself to get you started in the direction.

Questions to ask:

  1. What are you currently tracking? Are you tracking everything you need to be?
  2. Is the data you are collecting valid? Can you trust it and make decisions off of it?
  3. What are the holes? What would you like to be tracking that you aren’t?
  4. Does anything need to be fixed? Is tracking broken?
  5. Can reporting and/or tracking be consolidated to make the process cleaner?

Is your marketing geared toward the modern buyer? Download our guide and learn more.

2. Website Audit

The fact that you are reading this blog post is a strong indicator that you realize how important your website is, but in case you don’t, we’ll say it: your company’s website is uber important. A website should attract your potential customers and empower them with information, aide in their buyer’s journey, and most importantly, provide opportunities for conversion. Design is critical as well, but great sites contain more substance beyond aesthetics. 

At Lake One, we like to review websites for four main areas.

Performance

Performance can mean can quite a few things but in a nutshell, this section means, “Does your website pass the blink test?” Not familiar with the blink test? Simply put, are you able to determine within five seconds the purpose of the site, digest some content, and know what steps to take next as a user. 

Questions to ask:

  1. Is the main value proposition clear? 
  2. Is the main navigation menu clear and accessible?
  3. Is there a clear conversion path? Do the conversion paths flow through the buyer’s journey from awareness through to decision?
  4. Are there relevant resources for web visitors? Are they accessible?
  5. Do users know what steps to take next?

Content & SEO Audit

Now we start getting into the nitty-gritty, the ‘substance’ that I was referencing earlier. 

Content

When reviewing a website for content, it should be two-fold with both online and offline content. Online content encompasses all of the posts, downloadables, etc. that are accessible by web visitors; offline encompasses all of the sales assets, one-pagers, etc. that may be archived internally.

Questions to ask:

  1. Does the site contain relevant keywords that align with a clear content & digital strategy?
  2. Is the content keyword-rich?
  3. Does the content appeal to different buyer personas?
digital marketing audits

SEO

We create content for people first and foremost. But content needs SEO love to fully reap the benefits of your hard work. SEO is an ever-present tactic we weave throughout all of our digital practices; however, at its most basic, we review from both the content and website construction itself. (Click here for info on finding the SEO keywords that will be the hardest work for you.)

Questions to ask:

  1. Do the relevant page titles, meta descriptions, URLs, etc use relevant keywords?
  2. Do the above elements follow SEO best practices for character count, structure, etc.?
  3. Are the images optimized for SEO as well?

Conversion

Websites must provide visitors with an opportunity to convert. A website that’s fully optimized for conversion goes beyond a learn more button and a contact us form. You can have all the website traffic in the world, but if the website isn’t converting, you’ve got a problem.

Questions to ask: 

  1. Are there conversion pages at various stages of the funnel?
  2. Are there any CTA opportunities being missed?
  3. Is it clear what steps a user needs to take to get that information they need to convert?

3. Technical

A site audit wouldn’t be complete without reviewing the technical implementation and output of the website. Have you ever sat and waited for images to load or content to render and given up? Sure, it might have been a slow glitch in your wifi, but it might not have been. Here’s what to look for when it comes to tech.

Questions to ask:

  1. What is the site speed?
  2. Is the design responsive?
  3. Does the design render well on mobile?
  4. Are there any crawl issues?
  5. Is there a sitemap?

4. HubSpot Audit

HubSpot offers a full platform of marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM software. It’s a powerful tool that when fully utilized, can propel your sales and marketing results forward. With all that being said, we love to look under the hood and look for ways to get more out of your HubSpot subscription. We look at the following and more:

  • Landing Pages
  • Forms/Form Fields
  • Thank You Pages
  • Personas 
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
  • Nurture Sequences

When reviewing, first check if those functionalities are in use and then check performance. 

Questions to ask:

  1. How are the above elements performing? (conversion rates, submission rates, etc.)
  2. Are the nurture sequence emails targeted? What’s the enrollment criteria? Is it useful? Is someone checking those emails?

By the way, did we mention we are HubSpot Gold Partner? We just so happen to be experts in utilizing HubSpot and making it go the distance for your digital marketing program. Let’s chat.

5. Sales & Marketing Alignment Audit

We have written several pieces on the importance of Sales and Marketing alignment to achieve harmony among client-facing teams. When teams are aligned, it’s dynamite. However, when conducting the audit, think less along the lines of quick wins and more along the lines of building a strong foundation for long-term success. 

Questions to ask:

  1. Do teams have a common definition and understanding of key terms? (i.e. marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, etc.)
  2. Are teams targeting the same buyers?
  3. Are teams working towards the same goals?
  4. Are teams promoting the same products/services?
  5. Are teams creating content together?
  6. What is the lead handoff procedure?
  7. How does sales provide feedback on lead quality?
  8. Do teams have regular meetings?

For an in-depth look at the questions above, check out our B2B Smarketing Team Assessment.

Conclusion

The best way to move forward and to grow is to gain a complete understanding of where your company is at digitally. Even if you’re not looking to grow (but who isn’t?) no matter where you are at with your marketing, everyone can benefit from a digital marketing audit.

The History of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has an exciting, rich, and still somewhat young history. The timing of factors like the internet gaining steam, creation of social media, and the mobile phone boom have all played a part in the creation and rising popularity of inbound marketing. We’re going to take you through the history of inbound marketing and some of the differences between traditional and new-age digital marketing, but first, let’s cover the question of what is inbound marketing.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is any strategy that earns the attention of prospects, engages their interest, makes your company easy to find, and builds brand awareness. Some of these strategies include SEO, content marketing, blogs, social media, webinars, online courses, events, and more.

Looking at starting an inbound program? Use this checklist as your guide.

Inbound marketing includes a cyclical relationship with consumers where you attract visitors with content and resources they are interested in or intentionally seeking. Inbound aims to answer the buyer’s questions and problems with content, and then nurture leads through the buying funnel. There is typically an exchange of information between the company and the lead- contact info for an eBook, for example. That contact info is used to personalize, nurture, and inform to hopefully convert them into a customer. Once a customer, the idea is to continue to delight them by adding further value through your relationship with them as a trusted, empathetic advisor. Read more about inbound and why it works here.

The History of Inbound Marketing – The Perfect Storm

Many credit HubSpot’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan with creating inbound marketing. He and his co-founders, Dharmesh Shah and David Meerman Scott, coined the term and the genius theory we associate with inbound marketing in 2005. From there, they built the marketing powerhouse platform Hubspot around that theory.

However, pieces and parts of inbound marketing already existed or were being dreamt up around the same time as Halligan and friends were conceptualizing, creating a perfect storm that eventually led to our modern-day version of inbound marketing.

The 90s – The Beginnings of SEO

The very first search engine, Archie, was created in 1990 as a school project. By ’93, Wandex became the first search engine to crawl the web indexing and searching indexed pages on the web, and our beloved Google was founded in 1998.

According to The History of SEO, SEO symptomatically began to grow out of the development of search engines and the World Wide Web. Results started to be ranked, drawing more traffic to sites as search engines grew “smarter.” Read more about SEO here.

May 1999 – The Release of “Permission Marketing

Another modern-day marketing guru, Seth Godin, quietly released his fourth published book in the exciting, revolutionary year of 1999. The wider marketing world didn’t quite know who Godin was yet, and it was the first time all were exposed to his bald head as he selected it as the primary image on the cover of the book.

Permission Marketing is based on the idea that consumers will come to you and provide you permission to market to them. Godin’s idea was to bring consumers into a long-standing cooperative marketing relationship with multiple layers of exchanging permission and valuable incentives.

In the book, Godin labeled most strategies at the time as Interruptive Marketing, which took the form of advertisements in magazines or on the radio or television, unanticipated telemarketing calls, or annoying internet pop-ups. They were designed to interrupt you in the middle of doing something else and steal your time away. These were typically promotional in the form of a forward, shameless sale, often designed to trigger an emotional response such as fear or anxiety to get you to take an action or make a purchase as soon as possible.

Early 2000’s – The Dawn of Social Media

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were all introduced to the world between 2002 and 2006. (Let’s take a moment of silence for MySpace…) These spaces were designed for people to congregate and socialize on the web within their own networks of friends and colleagues. However, the rapid growth and massive popularity of the platforms caught the watchful eyes of businesses rather quickly. Those users were their customers and potential prospects, after all, and they wanted to exist where they spend their time on the web. They were willing to pay to catch the eyes of those users; therefore, social media advertising began.

History of inbound

As you can see, in the twenty years from 1990 to 2010, most of the puzzle pieces for modern inbound marketing fell into place. Pair SEO, fresh value-based marketing ideology, and social media with the mobile phone boom and you’ve got your digital marketing perfect storm.

Traditional vs. Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing is still widely used today. Although digital marketing is newer, it’s gained relevance quickly and caught up with or perhaps even surpassed traditional marketing in popularity and relevance. There are many differences between the two marketing methods which we’ve laid out below. But first, let’s cover what each method entails.

Traditional Marketing

Most everyone is exposed to traditional marketing multiple times throughout every day. Traditional marketing is considered any kind of offline marketing.

  1. Broadcast – TV & radio
  2. Print – newspapers & magazines
  3. Outdoor – billboards & fliers
  4. Direct Mail – catalogs & postcards
  5. Phone – telemarketing & SMS marketing

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses all of the different marketing techniques that take place online utilizing the internet and internet-connected devices.

  1. Websites/landing pages
  2. Social media
  3. Inbound marketing
  4. Content marketing
  5. Email marketing
  6. SEO
  7. PPC & SEM
  8. Affiliate marketing
  9. Influencer marketing

Looking for agency help with your digital program? Here are some of the benefits.

One-way vs. Interactive

One major setback of traditional marketing is it is a one-way street. Your creatives work hard to come up with a campaign that will be printed or recorded and placed. From there the hope is that the right people will see or hear it, be motivated to take action, and seek out your company or product. But, there is typically no way to know if that particular traditional marketing asset was what drove them to your company. It is mainly just a way to broadcast whatever message you’d like to get out into the world as a way of building your brand and letting people know you exist.

history of inbound marketing

A lot of digital marketing techniques and mediums involve ways to see and interact directly with your potential consumer. You attract them with a message or some kind of content, then they are usually called to take a specific action, like providing their email address. Marketers use this as an indication that it’s time to interact with them by sending content or reaching out to move the consumer through the buying funnel.

Static vs. Fluid

Traditional marketing methods are quite static. A lot of planning goes in to creating a 60-second radio ad or drawing up a 48-foot wide billboard that will be up over a major highway for 3 months. That planning is essential because once the ad is running or the billboard is placed, it can be nearly impossible to make a change. Usually, with traditional marketing, you’ll have to replace the outdated information with something completely new.

Emails are one of the only digital marketing methods that may be difficult to change once sent. However, it’s easy to send an additional email to note a correction or adjustment. Other than email, most other digital marketing mediums allow for changes to be made on the fly. For example, you can make a quick update to pricing on a landing page, or recalibrate SEO keywords in a published blog.

Ability to Track Results

One of the major advantages of digital marketing is the ability to track and analyze results. Because digital marketing exists online, nearly everything is trackable. As long as you have the tools to collect the relevant data, and expertise to analyze it, you’ll usually be able to decipher which specific techniques are working or not.

Traditional marketing can be nearly impossible to track as it can be difficult to build a correlation between people hearing a radio ad and deciding to walk into your store or visit your website. That certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t value in these tactics. If that were the case, no company would spend $5.25 million on a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. But, dozens did this year and some even purchased multiple spots.

Cost

Speaking of $5.25 million, traditional marketing can be quite costly (though that’s an extreme example). Because it’s difficult to track results, it is also very hard to decipher ROI from your spend on traditional marketing techniques.

inbound campaign checklist

Digital marketing offers several techniques that come at a very low to no cost to your company. It costs nothing to exist on social media or write a blog article other than your time. Spinning up a website involves cost, but you need one regardless of your marketing strategy. Creating killer content or having an expert help optimize your site for SEO may start to cost a bit. But, having the ability to track results from your different digital marketing techniques allows you to understand ROI and invest in the methods that work for your consumers.

Lake One’s Favorite Marketing Tools for Making Life Easier

Part of the Lake One Modern Marketing philosophy reloves around utilizing a smartly crafted tech stack to research, execute, and analyze marketing. There are many tools we collectively use, but independently, we have a few front-runners that allow us to work smarter and harder. Here are our favorite marketing tools for making life easier.

marketing tools

Ryan’s Picks

Keywords Everywhere

Keyword research can be laborious. With the Keywords Everywhere extension, it becomes part of all your activity. Some of the best features include seeing keyword data across multiple sites from search to Amazon. Set KW to highlight keywords at a certain volume, price, or competition threshold so you discover them quickly. Then, you can to add to and export lists. Keywords Everywhere is a marketing tool that makes research become part of regular internet browsing.

Marketing Tools

Ghostery

I’m a martech nerd. I love to know what tools are being used. With the Ghostery plugin, you can dissect a competitor’s marketing stack quickly by seeing what tags are installed. For me, I usually stumble upon a new tool once or twice a week worth exploring.

Want to know what it’s like working with Lake One? Give this blog a read.

Pixel

I was a long time iPhone user, since the first generation. A couple of years ago I converted. First, for battery life. I’m on the road a lot during the day with clients and prospects, so not needing to carrying a charging cord with me every second is huge. Second, with new generations of Pixels, they’ve built in spam tracking and call screening. Unfortunately, with number spoofing, it’s too easy for spammers to take up space in my voicemail. At a glance or with a call screen I can weed them out and not interrupt my day. Third, the camera/video is awesome. The Pixel makes for a great tool to produce quick content on the go.

Rachael’s Picks

Jing

I’ve had Jing installed on my machine for nearly a decade.

Jing makes taking and sharing screenshots a breeze, and in my opinion, is a must for those in client-facing roles. Why? Because of its ease of use and quick sharing capabilities. My favorite feature is the option to take a screenshot, annotate it, save it as a ‘copy’, and then share it simply by using “paste” vs having to save it to your computer and upload. You can paste it wherever you need it to go (in an email, in a slack conversation, google doc, and even in a text message).

Preview (Mac)

If you have a Mac, you’ve likely used Preview for one thing or another like viewing a picture or a PDF. But file viewing isn’t why Preview makes my list… It’s the ability to easily resize images for the web.

As best practice, images should ideally be under 500KB if possible, and Preview makes it happen with a few clicks. Simply click ‘Tools’ and then ‘Adjust Size’.  Voila. 

Marketing Tools

Slack

By definition, “Slack is a collaboration hub for work, no matter what work you do” and that’s pretty spot on.  The possibilities with Slack seem endless, but at Lake One, we use it for ideation, collaboration, and oftentimes, we share client updates. Here are a couple of our favorite features.

Channels: Slack allows you to sort your conversations by channels. On our #LakeOne channel, we often discuss our internal marketing efforts, like this blog, and team wins. 🙂

Integrations: Slack can integrate with several platforms (think HubSpot, HeyTaco, and Google Docs) and provide real-time updates.

Giphys: You can easily incorporate Giphys into your slack conversation and this feature alone has provided so many laughs. I may be biased, but our slack channel is pretty entertaining.

Marketing Tools

In all seriousness though, Slack allows the ability for instant communication which is a must, especially for virtual teams.

Danielle’s Picks

Yoast

Yoast is a blog plugin for WordPress. There are so many reasons why this makes my favorite marketing tools list. First, without Yoast, there’s no way I can edit my meta description or SEO Title. Yoast allows me to do that- they call it the Snippet. In addition, I can enter in a “focus keyword”. By doing so, Yoast scans my post and helps guide my optimization process. I can get a snapshot of how well I’ve included my keywords through the blog, meta, and alt-texts. It gives suggestions to make the post more SEO-friendly by offering improvements and pointing out potential problems.

Marketing Tools

Additionally, Yoast offers a “readability” analysis. This tells me if any sections are too long, how the writing scores on the Fleche Reading Ease test, and if there are too little or too many transition words. It gives me an overall audit of how well the post is written.

Google Hangouts

Because, #ViturtalTeam. We use Google Hangouts for all of our internal meetings. We love it because we already use Google Calendar, so adding Hangouts is a simple extra step. We even have one specific Hangout URL bookmarked that we pull up for impromptu meetings or check-ins with each other. This saves our team a ton of time and allows us to connect via video chat to keep projects moving.

While we love Slack for instant chat, the voice and video calls can be glitchy, not always picking up on the microphone. Hangouts saves the day in reliability there, so it’s always our default for voice and video.

RiteTag

Whenever we start doing social media posting for a client, we conduct a hashtag analysis. We look at the hashtags they tend to use already and then brainstorm what we think would be beneficial for them based on their content strategy. I run those hashtags through RiteTag. RiteTag tells me how popular (or not) a hashtag is in three categories: get seen now, get seen over time, and don’t use. It also gives me related tags I can add to our list and allows me to decide what the better choice between two may be. For example, #DigitalAgency is good for long-term exposure whereas #DigitalAgencies is no bueno. #DigitalMarketing is a great choice to be seen now. RiteTag is a marketing tool every marketer should have bookmarked for easy access.

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Benefits of Working with a Virtual Marketing Agency

I set out to build Lake One to be, in a lot of ways, the anti-agency. I thought about all the bad experiences I had as an in-house marketer working with consultants, freelancers, and agency partners and wanted to make sure to instill in the values of our team – the opposite of those bad feelings. A lot of the reasons people choose to work with us, are because of that choice. But one I get asked about is the flexibility of our team. Our team is virtual. Not in the sense of AI & robots (although we use a lot of cool tools that are built with that power enabled), but virtual in the sense that our team works from all over the place. Sometimes, we lose business because of this and that’s okay. But I think the benefits of working with a virtual marketing department outweigh any of the perceived concerns. Here are a few benefits to consider when working with a virtual marketing agency.

working with a virtual marketing agency

Highly Productive

Let’s face it. The office environment is distracting. Random meetings coming up for absolutely no reason, that person who loves to stop by and talk your ear off. Sometimes it’s hard to get work done at work. Remote work arrangements increase productivity by removing distractions. Of course, at home, a coffee shop or coworking spaces can provide their own kind of distractions, but being in control of the space our team works in lets us be flexible to adapt to the tasks we need to accomplish.

Better Team Morale & Health

Because our team works remote and has more control over their days, we can fit things in that help reduce stress. Research has shown remote teams have a 44% higher positive attitude and 53% lower stress level. All of this leads to a happier, healthier life which bleeds into the work we do.

Reduced Costs

Because our infrastructure costs are lower, overhead is low. It’s amazing how much companies spend on overhead and those costs get passed through, especially in the services business. Because our costs don’t include fancy offices, we’re able to provide services at a more approachable price.

Okay, I get the benefits – but how do y’all dig in?

So maybe I have you sold on the benefits. But you’re wondering about our ability to strategize. After all, the work we do is highly important to your business. Do we even talk to each other about the accounts we’re working on? Let’s address some of the ways our team works together.

Program Management

First and foremost, program management is the hub by which internally we see where all projects are. Externally, clients can see how things are progressing. We’re constantly fine-tuning our processes around program management to be as transparent about what’s getting done, what’s getting stuck, and what’s coming up.

Virtual Marketing Agency Program Management

 

Daily Communication

We adopt an agile marketing approach and run daily standups with our team so we all know what we’ve worked on, what we’re our priorities are for the day, and what we need from others on the team. That’s a starting point. We also have daily sidebar conversation virtually and a series of carefully planned meetings internally to tackle things like business operations, ongoing innovation, and ad hoc client troubleshooting.

virtual standup

Client Communication

Aside from transparent communication via our program management, we regularly communicate with clients. Often daily. We have a structured meeting cadence and frequently meet face to face to tackle the big hairy strategic discussion.

Reporting

Internally, we have dashboards monitoring all accounts and reporting on progress on goals. At a glance, we know daily how our clients are progressing which allows us the insight to isolate problems or opportunities.

Put a Virtual Marketing Department to Work for You

At the end of the day, we’re not that much different than an agency with an office. We have some flexibility that gets our creative juices flowing – but we’re always driven by one thing. Success for our clients.

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Action19: Lessons in Business Resiliency

We were fortunate enough to be able to attend and sponsor the first ever Action19 event hosted by our partner Authentic Brand.

The theme of the event was Resiliency. While the speakers aligned their messages to the overall theme, each focused their address on a specific form of resiliency: personal, business/sales, and financial.

Action19 Recap

Personal Resiliency: Cory Hepola

Cory Hepola is currently a radio host for WCCO. Having switched his career from news anchor to radio host recently, Cory focused his keynote address on the perseverance it took to attain his success. Cory broached the subject of failure by discussing his hundreds- maybe even thousands?- of job rejections. He reminded us that we all go through struggles. So why then do we put up walls? Why do we avoid transparency, never talk about getting fired or rejected or criticized, and why is it that we only put the best versions of ourselves out there? We all do it. The point of Cory’s keynote wasn’t an appeal for us to all openly air our dirty laundry, but more so to call to attention that everybody has dirty laundry. Resiliency is found in not letting the struggle stop you from chasing your dreams.

Action19 Recap

One of my favorite parts from Cory’s keynote was his insight into dreams only coming true when you’re ready for them. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up when things aren’t going your way or happening fast enough, but more often than not, things won’t happen until you’re actually ready. The beauty of resiliency is that the more you persevere, the more prepared you’ll be when the universe is ready for you. Know your strengths, weaknesses, values, and purpose, and work toward goals that help facilitate your true character. True character is, after all, what shows itself when times are tough.

Cory was also keen to point out that whatever we do, it’s important to surround ourselves with good people. Allow those people to push you and support you.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

The message of resiliency we all walked away with from Cory was that Everybody (capital E) fails. When you’re ready for it- actually ready, not just impatient- it will come to you if you’ve persevered through the struggle.

Hiring Resiliency: Mike Frommelt and Mary Nutting

In a dialogue between Mike Frommelt, Visionary & Co-Founder, KeyStone Executive Search and Mary Nutting, Owner, CorTalent & President, NAWBO, we learn about resiliency in recruiting and retaining employees. Mike built on to the adage, “right people, right seats,” by appending “right time.” He implored us to find employees as eager and passionate about your company as you are; the people truly invested in their careers. He continued to say that those people who really understand are the ones who will be all in.

Action19 Recap

Mary built on that idea. She pointed out the importance of hiring people based on the person and their values- people with “stretch skills” (potential). Find out and understand how a candidate’s personal values fit into company values before hiring. This will help ensure a quality fit, somebody more likely to succeed and grow within your company.

Mary also addressed the importance of knowing your business’s needs today. She discussed how occasionally businesses got lost in the goals and forecasts that predict future need. Rather than hiring for that, hire for what you need today. Don’t let your business get ahead of the talent- make sure you have talent for right now.

And then there’s that little matter of compensation. How do you deal with that? Let the market set it. Simple.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

Resiliency is found through your people. As leaders, it’s critical to empower, inspire, and spend time with them everyday. And as Mike said, you want people’s hands and their hearts to bring your company to the next level. Invest in your people and your reward will be employees who work for you because they want to, not just for the paycheck.

Sales Resiliency: Josh Fedie

Josh Fedie, founder of SalesReach, lit the room with humor as he told us about resiliency in sales. First, smarketing (holla!). Align your sales and marketing teams. Make sure they are working toward the same goals and that you practice sales enablement, and are ensuring your sales team has all of the marketing material they need. Then, make sure you have the right tools – sales acceleration- to speed up your deals.

The modern buyer will be searching for you. It’s important to know, as Josh taught us, that every touchpoint in the sales process matters. Therefore, ABB + ABS. Always Be Branded & Always Be Selling! Always make sure you align your actions with your mission and vision. When your brand shines through, people will always work with people they like. Forever and ever.

Another knowledge bomb Josh dropped was to do video. Now. Like, right now. 90% of consumers said video helped them make a purchasing decision. Use video in your marketing and in your sales process as video enables your salespeople to be very personal. At every turn, you should be enabling your people.

Action19 Recap

Empower your employees. Let them know they bring value to the organization. Those employee brand ambassadors will create custom brand ambassadors, and that’s where revenue resilience truly lies.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

Resilient sales teams are the product of resilient smarketing teams. An aligned smarketing team can help you empower every person in the company. Always be branded, and always be selling.

Financial Resiliency: Panel

The last session of the Action19 mini-conference was an expert panel discussing the topic of financial resiliency. Andy Schornack, President & CEO of  Flagship Bank Minnesota, Heide Olson CEO of All In One Accounting, Inc, Amy Langer Co-Founder of Salo LLC, and Aric Bandy President of Agosto.

The question ‘what should you do to prepare for a recession?’ was the first to be posed to the panel. Make sure your balance sheet is structured properly and that you have liquidity in assets. Develop good cash management in good times. And protect your people. While this wasn’t a continuation of the retention discussion from earlier in the day, treating your people as your greatest asset was a constant theme through the financial resiliency advice.

Action19 Recap

Additionally, we heard from Heide not to let your guard down when things are good. Always know where you are financially and don’t just have a plan B. Also know what triggers to be aware of that might indicate the need to switch to B. Furthermore, focus on process, people, and diversifying appropriately to make it through the next downturn. Invest in technology while you can, too.

Another question the group tackled was “As you head into a downturn, what happens when you ratchet back sales & marketing?” We’re going to take just *a little* liberty and say that the resounding answer was “bad things.” But really, panel members told about how when they cut back on marketing was when competitors were able to come out ahead. Additionally, they mentioned that it took a long time to catch back up to where they had been. Even in downturns, there is opportunity if you have the right team and are well positioned to take advantage. Find out why your employees and clients are working with you and do more of that.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

As mentioned, supporting people was a large part of this financial discussion. Be resilient by creating an empowering environment where employees know they are valued.

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*Photo credits to Authentic Brand

What to Avoid When Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Working with a successful, experienced digital marketing agency can be critical to helping you build marketing infrastructure and scale for your company down the road. However, if you’re considering hiring a digital marketing agency that isn’t a good fit or can’t get the job done, it could be a very costly mistake. To help you avoid any chance at finding out the hard way, we’ve compiled a few tips about what to avoid when you are searching for and hiring a digital marketing agency.

WHAT TO AVOID WHEN WORKING WITH A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY

Research Phase

Don’t believe all agencies are one-size-fits-all

Your business is unique; therefore, the results you are looking to obtain will be unique. You’ll need to have an idea of what you’re looking to accomplish from working with an agency prior to going into the search. You don’t have to know specifics as you will eventually create a definitive strategy with the agency you choose, and they can help guide you in understanding what kind of results you should be able to achieve. However, to start, you’ll want to know some basics on your side

Download the How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company essential guide here.

Do you need serious help with your SEO or paid advertising? Does your website need an overhaul? Do you need a major boost around content? Are you looking for a quick fix or would you like to work with someone more long-term? Do you want to work with a local agency that you can meet face-to-face?

Decide what is most important to you prior to starting any kind of search activity for an agency so you at least know where to start looking.

Avoid choosing an agency based solely on location, pricing, or shiny promises

If you are pinching pennies, you may be enticed by the cheapest option you find, or you might be tempted to just find the firm that is closest to you. To be successful in the long run though, you’ll want to look into the capabilities of any digital marketing agency before you dive in and hand them your money. Marketing is a saturated market, there is a massively varying scale of capabilities and ability to produce results. Keeping this in mind, you’ll also want to be careful of being lured in by shiny messaging or promises that are right on the surface. The main point is to do your homework before spending a dime and hiring a digital marketing agency.

Did you know that they are different types of digital marketing agencies? Click here to learn more and find the best fit.

Evaluate more than just the surface

Check out the websites of your prospective agencies. For each one, consider if it clearly describes what they offer. Is the blog (assuming they have one) well-written and informative? Are there any customer case studies or online reviews? Narrow your list of potentials down to between 3-5 and get ready to have some conversations.

Prior to getting on the phone with an agency, have a rough idea of the budget you’d like to stay within. It may be difficult to find upfront pricing online because most agencies do custom pricing based on your objectives and the deliverables required to hit goals. That being said, though, if you have a budget range, a good agency should be able to demonstrate what can be done at that level.

In addition to a budget range, go into your conversations with a few set questions that you will ask every single agency you speak with. It can be easy to get sidetracked or a little lost in initial conversations because there is typically a lot of ground to cover. So, write down your questions in advance and make sure you get to all of them. You may want to save the pricing conversation until near the end of the initial call so the agency representative has an understanding of what you might need from them and can give you an accurate estimation. Here are some questions we recommend asking your prospective agencies.

Overall, hire a digital marketing agency who is transparent, quick to share examples and results, easy to talk to, knowledgeable, and experienced. You should never feel talked-down-to. Especially if you are going to work long-term with them, you’ll want to make sure your communication styles are a good match.How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Implementation Phase

Don’t allow work to start without a clear plan from the very beginning

Any agency should have a proven, repeatable process framework they can walk through with you. They should also have the ability to customize their typical processes to your specific needs and situation. They should make recommendations and tweaks to their processes based on what you are looking to accomplish and where you are with your marketing today.

Before starting the real work, a Service Level Agreement or some kind of full layout of the plan to get the project up and running should be presented for your approval. (Read about our Sales and Marketing Alignment SLA here!) Once you’ve signed off on it, persona work will likely begin with your agency. All of the work the agency does moving forward will be based on these personas, so you want to make sure they are accurate in order to target the correct audience with all marketing efforts.

At the start of the project, the agency should do a full walk-through (or Kick Off) of their plan with you. They should lay out their strategy and tactics and communicate the expected results. This should typically happen in a conversation that includes some kind of documentation for you to follow along, maybe it’s a slideshow presentation or a handout, but they should walk through it with you before jumping into the actual marketing communications.

hiring a digital marketing agency

It’s also important to note that inbound marketing can take 6-12 months to gain traction and upwards of 18 months before making a major impact. An agency that promises immediate results might be blowing smoke. Similarly, be wary of any agency that seems staunch in their plan. Inbound typically requires fluidity as data are gathered and knowledge gained. The ability to pivot as needed is key.

Project Phase

Avoid confusion later on in the project

Before getting off of your Kick Off call with your chosen digital marketing agency, you should have, at the very least, your next call scheduled. Ideally, you should set up a weekly or bi-weekly recurring time to meet and review progress. Even if you don’t end up needing or using the time every week, it’s great to have it on the calendar just in case.

Another thing you’ll want to establish right away is clear and set definitions of everyone’s role in the process, both from your own company and the agency. Who will be in charge of what, who will provide and receive updates, who has action items prior to the next check-in, etc.. Knowing these answers will help manage your relationship through its entirety. 

Finally, you should have a good understanding from the beginning of what kinds of metrics are important, how they will be tracked, and how they will be reported on, as well as how you can view and understand those reports.

Ready to have a conversation with Lake One? Request a free consultation.

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4 Essential Benefits of Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Bolstering an existing marketing program or starting from scratch can be a heavy lift, but you don’t have to go it alone. Joining forces with a digital marketing agency might be the best option for achieving your goals. Here are four benefits of partnering up.

Essential Benefits of Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

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