The 40/40/20 Rule of Direct Marketing

This is the sixth post in our new content series, No Fluffs Given. We’re tired of the fluffy content in our LinkedIn feeds, with no real substance or actionable takeaways. So we’re teaming up with some of the best B2B marketers we know. People who have ACTUALLY done this stuff before. And giving you new, actionable tactics to implement today.

It was morning, around 8 or so:

Me and Kels were in the kitchen, standing around the island, waiting for the coffee to brew. 

“What time is your call today?” she said. “It’s with Kim, right?”

Kim Krause Schwalm is one of the top direct-response copywriters in the world. 

“Uh-huh,” I said. “It’s at one.” The machine beeped. “Wish me luck.” 

In hindsight, I dunno why I asked for luck. Just something I say when I’m nervous, I guess. I’ve been studying Kim’s work for years, after all — transcribing her words, analyzing her logic — and now I had a chance to speak with her one-on-one. 

“Are you nervous?” said Kels. “Didn’t she ask you for the call?”

Kim had reached out a few days prior. She was interested in my marketing process, how I spread my content around the internet. 

“She did, yeh,” I poured my wife some coffee. “I dunno,” I said, “I mean… it’s KIM KRAUSE SCHWALM!”

Kels sipped and blinked. “Well,” she smiled, “good luck.”

“Hi, Eddie,” Kim said. 

“Hey, Kim.” 

“Oh,” she said, “you look just like your picture… same hat.” We laughed. 

The conversation was easy with Kim, comfortable. On that first call we talked about our goals, where we wanted to be in a year, two, five. We talked about copywriting. We talked about content marketing, growth. 

It was very productive. 

“Maybe it makes sense to do this again?” Kim said. “We can meet on an ongoing basis, if you like? You’ll help me get my writing out there and I’ll help you get even better at direct-response copywriting.” 

“Yes, please,” I said. “That would be… incredible.” 

And so started our mutual mentorship. 

Now, every week, Kim and I jump on a call to share knowledge, trading stories and “secrets” and being completely transparent. 

“Do you wanna focus on anything specific today?” Kim asked me last month. 

“Actually, yeh,” I said. “I’m writing an article about the 40/40/20 Rule of Direct Marketingever heard of it?” (We laughed. Of course, she had.) “Maybe you can give me your take on the fundamentals?”

“Sure!” Kim said. “I mean, do you want me to just speak extemporaneously about it?”

“Sure,” I said — and so started a masterclass on one of the most important principles in direct marketing (one that will help you actually predict the success of any ad campaign you run from this day forward). 

And now, I want to share everything we discussed on that call with you:

I’ve done my best to condense a 55-minute conversation into a clear, concise, digestible breakdown article — basically, a look inside a mentorship session with an A-List copywriter — complete with quotes, color, and context from Kim Krause Schwalm herself. 

(With her expressed permission, of course.)

Please enjoy:

The 40/40/20 Rule of Direct Marketing

Some people think copywriting and design will make or break an ad campaign. They think the “creative” is the most consequential element.

Not true. 

Over a century of conventional wisdom tells us the success of any direct-response advertising effort depends: 

  1. 40% on the “List”
  2. 40% on the “Offer”
  3. 20% on the “Creative”
Start with your 1) List 2) Offer and 3) Creative… in that order

In other words, if your “List” and your “Offer” are excellent but your “Creative” is abysmal, then technically, you still have a roughly 80% chance of success. 

Or if your “List” and your “Creative” are excellent but your “Offer” is abysmal, then you have a roughly 60% chance of success. 

Etcetera. 

You can use this 40/40/20 rule to help you project (beforehand) — or evaluate (after the fact) — the success of a promotion, any promotion. 

So let’s break each element down, one by one, starting with the most straightforward:

The List (40%)

40% of your advertising depends on the strength of your List, which, simply put, is the people your message is getting in front of.

Because your message will fall flat if the right people don’t see it.

Your List should not be your entire market. 

Ideally, your List should be a segment of your market, people who have 1) bought similar products to what you’re selling and 2) via similar ways of buying. 

For example, let’s say you’re selling a prostate supplement (a common direct-marketing product) via Facebook ads. Technically, your “Market” is ALL men over the age of 50… 

But your “List” should be men over the age of 50 who’ve 1) bought supplements in the past and 2) bought them via Facebook

If you can secure a list like that, your response rate will invariably improve because you’re speaking to a group of people with a proven desire for your product. 

This is what makes a good, strong list: proven desire

A bad, weak list, on the other hand, is usually blindly “compiled” based on a surface-level characteristics, like the age and/or sex and/or location of the prospects. 

“You risk so much less of your marketing budget,” Kim said, “when you’re spending it on people who’ve already bought your product, or who have bought similar products.” 

OK. Onward. 

The Offer (40%)

40% of your advertising depends on the strength of your Offer, which is a combination of several elements, including desire, price, and incentives

The best offers combine desire, price and incentives.

Let’s examine each one: 

Desire

Ask yourself: Is this product even something people want?

Kim told me a story about this. She told me how, over several years, she wrote 20+ successful promotions for a client, a supplement company. 

“Except we had this one, which we ran first as a newsletter insert,” she said, “just to test how it would do. And it was this new ‘Eastern’ formula for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. And it flopped! It’s the only one that ever did. But even at one point, after we initially tested it, my own mentor — a legendary copywriter in his own right — reviewed the promotion and made some changes and it still didn’t improve the results enough to be able to roll out to direct mail…” 

“So it wasn’t the copy?” I said. 

“No,” she said, “it wasn’t the copy. And it wasn’t the list — because we were selling to known buyers…” 

“…it was the angle,” I said, “the whole ‘Eastern’ thing, right?”

“Essentially, yes,” she said. “It was a product that wasn’t tested. And maybe the positioning angle was ‘old news’. Sometimes no matter how good the copy is, no matter how good the list is — it’s a product people just don’t want, and you’ve got a flop.” 

Price

Ask yourself: Is this product priced appropriately and competitively for what it is?

This boils down to your positioning. Usually, in direct marketing, you’re either positioning your product as the “economical” option or the “premium” option. 

If you’re selling a premium product, you can only command a higher price point through differentiation. For example: 

“Let’s say you’re selling fish oil,” said Kim. “You need to have some kind of unique ingredient or delivery system or proof — an endorsement, perhaps — if you want to charge more.” 

But if you’re selling an economical product, you typically have to create incentives to compete on price…

Incentives

Ask yourself: Is this ad giving people a reason to buy now

Incentivizing your list is imperative if you’re competing on price, yes. But it’s actually necessary for any type of direct-response ad or promotion. Because if you give people time to make a decision, they’ll usually take it. And you don’t want The Reader to take their time, to feel comfortable. You want her to feel tension, pressure, FOMO. 


Because these feelings compel action, which is the goal of all direct marketing. 

Here are a few ways to incentivize your list to buy now:

1) Dimensionalize the savings: 

  • “Buy 2, get 1 free”
  • “Get 3 for the price of 2”
  • “Save $40…like getting another bottle FREE!”

2) Create urgency:

  • Timing deadlines: “Save 50%, offer ends at midnight”
  • Trial deadlines: “Start for just $1, today only”
  • Scarcity deadlines: “Only 30 units left”

3. Remove the risk of ordering: 

  • “Money-back guarantee”
  • “Double-your-money-back guarantee”
  • “Order now, pay later”

“We’ve all been in situations where you think the ad is definitely going to work,” Kim said, “because it sounds like such a great product, you know?”

“Yeh,” I said. 

“But then, it’s like, the market doesn’t want it,” as she took a sip of water, “or maybe the offer wasn’t right — maybe one of the elements was off — and so there are many things that can cause a promotion to fail. And 9 out of 10 times, it had nothing to do with the copy. The ad just had all of these other things going on…” 

And on that note, let’s talk about:

The Creative (20%)

20% of your advertising depends on the strength of your “Creative”, which is a combination of three things: copy, design, and format

You don’t need to be Don Draper to come up with good creative.

Let’s examine each one:

Copy

Great ads are made when copywriters and designers work together, as part of what DDB founder, Bill Bernbach, called a “Creative Team”. 

That said, among the two, copy is king. 

“In terms of those 20%, copy isn’t the only component of Creative,” Kim said, “but it is the most important — and this is why smart marketers and companies really invest in the time it takes to do good copy.”

I nodded. 

“And so much of that is the research you put into it,” Kim went on. “Getting to know that market or audience, their biggest pain points and frustrations and hopes. And what are the alternatives they’ve seen? And what hasn’t worked for them? And why will this work now? And why should they believe that? All that work you do with research makes up the bulk of the copy.” 

Design

Again, ideally, the copywriter and the designer are working together, collaborating from the start. 

And if the copywriter’s job is to connect with and, ultimately, compel The Reader, then the designer’s work is all about getting the copy read. 

“Good designers know it’s all about getting the prospect to actually read the copy,” Kim said. “It’s not about achieving a cool look or an award-winning design. If you wanna create cool looks, go be an artist or work for a magazine or something. Because direct marketing is, first and foremost, about getting the copy read. It’s the only chance you have at getting the prospect to respond.” 

Format

This refers to how an ad is arranged and presented, how the copy and design come together. 

For example, in direct mail, you can take a “magalog” (i.e., a 16-page, 8 ½” x 11” ad) and condense it down and make it into a “bookalog” (i.e., a 32-page, 5 ½” x 8 ¼” ad), where everything is shrunken down and spread out across twice as many pages. 

“One reason to test formats is, simply, to see if people respond better,” Kim said. “You can also test formats that save you money, either with printing or, more importantly, with postage, if it’s something you’re sending in the mail.” 

Of course, this applies to digital marketing, as well. Successful content on LinkedIn won’t necessarily find an audience on Twitter — and vice versa — because people consume information differently around the internet. 

Advertising is rarely one-size-fits-all. 

It almost always depends on the circumstances, which is why testing — early and often — is so important. 

“Thank you so much, Kim,” I said. 

“This has been really refreshing.” 

“Yes,” Kim said, “I love revisiting the fundamentals.”

“Uh-huh,” I said. “You can’t get ‘too good’ at the fundamentals.”

Meet Eddie Shleyner

Founder, VeryGoodCopy.com

Eddie Shleyner is a direct-response copywriter, content marketer, and founder of VeryGoodCopy.com, where he publishes weekly “micro” content about copywriting, marketing, and creativity for over 22,000 email subscribers. He’s also a columnist at HubSpot, Hootsuite, Forbes, and the former Copy Chief at G2.com.

Connect with Eddie on LinkedIn here.  

Nail Your Targeting So Your Campaigns Don’t Suck

Let’s say your company sells conversation marketing software. And let’s say your company isn’t named Drift.

You’re Head of Demand Generation, or Revenue Marketing, or whatever your title is (just not growth guru or growth ninja, please God no).

In any case, you own a pipeline number—and you need to figure out who you should be targeting. 

Do you set up an account-based marketing (ABM) program, double down on the demand gen, or go for something in-between?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you’ll likely get a lot of value by taking a blended ABM + demand gen approach. (See my first post for more of the big picture.)

So, definitely-not-Drift marketer, this one’s for you. I cover both the wrong and right way to do both ABM and demand gen targeting. And, for good measure, I dig into what focusing your efforts looks like when you’re blending the two. 

If I’ve done my job right, you’ll walk away with a new understanding of:

  • What’s foundational to demand gen (hint: it’s building relevant audiences)
  • What’s foundational to ABM (hint: it’s building effective account lists)
  • How to (and how not to) build those effective target account lists and relevant audiences

This is part 2 of our ABM/demand gen series. If the first started at the 30,000 foot level, this article levels out at 10,000 feet: the do’s and don’ts of both ABM and Demand Gen, and how to blend them together. Next up: ground level, where I’ll dig into the specifics of targeting, setting up campaigns and how to measure success. 

Build an audience with relevant demand gen targeting 

As ABM has gotten more popular over the last few years, I feel like demand gen has gotten a bad rap. 

Good demand generation doesn’t mean filling your funnel with garbage and hoping to come away with a handful of qualified leads. 

Before you start building an audience that will convert, you need to understand which accounts will: 

  • Buy the fastest
  • Spend the most
  • Be the easiest to manage and most likely to renew

How (not) to build an audience

If you really want to tank un-Drift’s (impressive) growth and piss off the sales team, here’s the way to do it:

  • Take a shotgun approach (sprinkle some social ads here, try out a webinar there) and call it “demand gen.”
  • Target solely based on industries and job titles, without layering on any additional information
  • Don’t look at your own data to determine which accounts (and attributes) you’re having the most success with 
  • Avoid talking with key people (those that fit your personas) to get qualitative findings to inform your targeting

How to (actually) build an audience

Put a few pieces in place, first:

  • Get to a solid understanding of your actual Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Use your own data (and enrich it, when possible) to figure out who you should be targeting
  • Use both qualitative and quantitative research to flesh out your ICP beyond a handful of bullets and a few talking points
  • Remember: marketers don’t always know best. Talk to every key function in your company (Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Product, Engineering, and the Leadership team) to figure out what each team thinks your ICP is

I’m not going to tell you how to have those internal conversations, but here’s a bit more on those first two bullets. 

First up: go into your CRM and pull a list of your customer accounts. Sort them by ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue), TCV (Total Contract Value), LTV (Lifetime Value) and Renewals/Upsells. Put on your data analyst hat to identify any patterns and consistencies across the accounts you’ve pulled, looking for:

  • Who the best fit for your product/services is (and why)
  • Who is most likely to renew at higher ARR (and why)

Next: you need to figure out how to segment these accounts for your campaigns. Do the patterns highlight segmentation by industry? Company size? Whether the account has a particular function? Something else? 

Once you have these segments, go talk to people (gasp) from each segment and confirm with qualitative data why you have the highest probability to win with each segment.

You can talk with both current customers that fit the segment and prospects you’d be reaching out to anyway (not every call has to be a demo, y’all). 

Side note: when thinking about your ICP and these segments, think about as many characteristics as possible. Look at things like:

  • Industry
  • Revenue
  • Geography
  • Employee headcount
  • Customer base
  • Technology stack (technographic data, if you wanna get fancy)
  • New investments and expansions

Next level: Blending demand gen with your ABM efforts

In my first post, I mentioned that you can use demand gen to:

  • Target companies and prospects that still meet your Ideal Customer Profile
  • Focus on educating the market on big macro changes
  • Make sure you’re not leaving good revenue on the table

That’s because very few companies can afford to go 100% all-in on ABM. Unless you truly can only sell into a specific, known list of accounts, you’re leaving good revenue on the table from accounts that still meet your ICP.

But how can you be sure you’re not doubling up efforts? 

Most people think they’re actually doing “ABM” when in reality, they’re just marketing to a list of accounts—using the same old campaigns. You can market to these accounts with your demand gen programs, without any real difference in tactics and outreach—just with a much more targeted audience. 

If you still want to build a separate audience and use it in parallel to your ABM list: take the attributes you’ve identified in your ICP and turn this into an audience for your demand gen campaigns.

You can start by targeting specific industries, headcounts, annual revenue numbers (if they’re available) and technologies. Once you’ve selected these attributes, you can add the specific job titles you want to target.

For the not-Drift example: you can add titles like Director of Demand Generation, VP of Marketing, or Head of Growth. It entirely depends on the job titles you’re already seeing the most success with from your Salesforce reports. 

I recommend targeting people who may influence the evaluation and purchasing decision at an account, too. There’s no harm getting in front of someone in Marketing Ops with your targeting if they influence the final decision at the end of the day.

Now for the content-marketing-sized elephant in the room: you can definitely do all of this with or without Metadata, building the audiences natively in LinkedIn or Facebook. It’s just more challenging since each channel has its own targeting criteria with varying levels of granularity. 

ABM targeting / Building target account lists

At least 50% of the success of your ABM program is dictated by the quality of your account list. 

Is that based on scientific analysis? No. Is it based on our understanding of ABM? Absolutely. 

In other words: clever copy can only go so far. You have to make sure you’re targeting the right folks at the right time. 

Building out target account lists is often a rushed affair: haggard marketers pulling quick lists without collaborating with sales. 

For ABM, how do you get past “Wouldn’t it be nice if they were a customer?”

How (not) to build a target list

If you want to get real frustrated real fast, here’s how to build out a target account list for your ABM campaign:

  • Focus your list on the accounts with the largest potential Average Contract Value. 
  • Better yet, base your entire list on the logos that your CEO would look cool on your website. 
  • Don’t ground your target list against your competitive advantage or whether you’re well-positioned to actually win these accounts. None of that matters. 
  • Have sales put the target account list together, and just run air cover for the accounts they’re reaching out to (they’re totally gonna see those display ads). 
  • Leave realism at the door. (Wouldn’t it be nice for Salesforce to use Metadata? Absolutely, it’d be amazing. But I’m not Dave Gerhardt… yet) 

How to (actually) build a target list

A few things to keep in mind: 

  • Focus on creating a single set of target accounts across sales and marketing
  • There should be a ton of collaboration between sales and marketing; the first pass at a target account list is never the best version. Coordination is even more important as you both start to target the same accounts  
  • You can use the detailed ICP notes from the closed-won analysis outlined above—just build on top of it for your target account list

With your freshly-uncovered insights from demand gen, you can use additional competitive intel to flesh out your ABM lists. Consider things like:

  • Technographic data to see which accounts are using complementary and/or competing technologies
  • Relationships your employees may have with decision-makers and members of the buying committee 
  • Intent data to identify who may be in-market right now

A word of warning: the true owner of your target account list should be your Marketing Leader (that’s with a capital L—a VP, at the very least). You can’t build an effective ABM list without buy-in and true collaboration with your Sales Leader (again, with a capital L—your CRO or Head of Sales).

Starting at the top and then delegating down the org makes sure everyone is on the same page from the start. 

Next level: Blending ABM with your demand gen efforts

In my first post, I mentioned that you can use ABM to:

  • Focus on the right accounts where you are most likely to win
  • Provide much more personalized experiences for your buyers
  • Improve your coordination across Sales and Marketing (if it’s done well; see above)

But what about making sure your ABM efforts match what you’ve accomplished as you make inroads with demand gen?

The first thing I’d do: go into Salesforce (as one does) and start pulling a few different reports with different timeframes:

  1. Closed/won deals over the last three, six, and 12 months
  2. Closed/lost deals over the last three, six, and 12 months (pull the loss reason if it’s a requirement)
  3. Renewals and upsells from the last three, six, and 12 months

What you’re trying to do: identify commonalities within each of these reports, then turn these commonalities into account attributes.

The end goal is to zero in on specific segments of accounts where you know you can win. That’s better than any guessing game solution out there. 

This process also helps you better understand questions like:

  • Are there technologies that work really well with your software? Are there any technologies that are a really bad fit for your software?
  • What’s the makeup of these companies? Are they VC-backed startups that just took on recent funding? Are they older, private companies?
  • What’s the makeup of their marketing team? Is there a specific size team you have the most success with? Does your software replace the need for having inbound SDRs? 

If you don’t have a ton of historical data to pull from, you can still get creative. A few ideas: 

  • Go to definitely-not-Drift’s website and your competitors’ websites. Find the names of companies they use in their case studies, the social proof they quote 
  • Build account lists in something like ZoomInfo and add specific technologies you know your software plays well with. You can even target companies who use not-Drift or Live Chats
  • Scrape publicly available information to track company funding, employee growth, a bit of the tech stack, and more 

You can layer any intent data you have on top of your target account list to see whether you should prioritize any accounts based on this.

Once you’ve got a full list of accounts (there isn’t a magic number; it depends entirely on your average deal size and cycle, plus how ready your team is to actually do personalized marketing), review this with your sales team so you can get their feedback and sign-off. 

Finally, turn the account list into different tiers. We recommend starting with no more than three tiers to start (mostly to keep everyone sane).

You know the drill: your top tier (in the 10s of accounts) gets your most personalized outreach, and so on. 

The key is to do your homework, review the initial list with sales (make sure to explain what went into your homework) confirm that everyone agrees on the accounts and tiers.

Badabing, badaboom. You have an ABM campaign that aligns both with sales and with your demand gen efforts, and you’re well on your way to stellar growth for I-promise-it’s-not-Drift. 

Word of Mouth Marketing: How to Make It Keep Happening

We’re exposed to word-of-mouth marketing all the time. We take recommendations from friends for Netflix shows, restaurants and plumbers. Trust is a huge factor. We trust our friends and family, so we’ll take their word over an advertisement.

In fact, people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.

Trust is at the heart of WOMM (word-of-mouth marketing). Despite living in a world obsessed with inbound marketing data, 64% of marketing executives believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.

For a B2B tech company, having great products and helpful customer success people is not enough to move the word-of-mouth needle. Building brand trust requires a united company willing to play the long game with customer relationships.

My word-of-mouth wake up call

Even if prospects knock on your door unattributed, they heard about you somewhere.

We recently ran an experiment that opened my eyes to how much of our demand is from word of mouth. I was seeing a surprising amount of unattributed website leads for demo requests and I couldn’t figure out where they came from (Direct / Organic Search). But wherever they came from, they were converting. They were good hand raisers.

To get to the bottom of it, I cold emailed them to ask how they found us. It turns out every one of these unattributed leads that responded to me was a recommendation from somebody.

Some came from an agency partner that has a large social media following. Some were friends or former colleagues of our existing customers who were told to check out Metadata.

When I realized what % of these unattributed leads were word of mouth, it really hit home. I was reminded again that people buy a product because someone they trust recommended it. It’s not a clever display ad or a cool logo that seals the deal. It’s their friends telling them.

The challenge for B2B marketers is that you can’t hack or track word of mouth. There’s no quantifiable silver bullet.

At the same time, you can’t just hope people sing your praises. You can be proactive about WOMM. But it’s more about steady relationship building than any demand gen tactic.

Methods for enhancing WOMM

In my experience, time and patience are required to turn consumers into vocal brand lovers. It’s a long game. Do not expect short-term fixes.

Get the whole company involved in building trust

Companies that are out of sync internally will struggle with positive word of mouth. For WOMM to grow organically, all the major groups in a company need to nurture relationships and help build trust in the brand.

Engineering: Engineers are often on calls with prospects and customers discussing product roadmaps. That’s an opportunity to engage with people sincerely and directly. Be open to feedback and feel comfortable with being honest about the state of the product – good prospects and customers will understand that product development is hard.

Customer success: Customer success helps customers get wins with your product. You are usually one of the main points of contact with customers after the sale. If you’re personable on top of helpful, customers are more likely to spread the word about their successes and your brand (and you!).

Marketing: You should always be genuine in your marketing to establish real, trusting relationships with customers and prospects. Avoid bait-and-switch, flash sale schemes and be honest and authentic. And humor never hurts.

Sales: A salesperson is usually a prospect’s first interaction with a company. If you come off as aggressive, you may not only blow a deal but do damage to word of mouth. It’s important not to value closing a deal over the prospect’s situation. If they don’t have the budget, try to figure out a way to find that budget, maybe not until next quarter. Be flexible and thoughtful to gain a prospect’s trust and it will pay off later.

The C suite: To help word of mouth, the CEO and leadership team should be accessible and in tune with customers. That applies to the content they post on LinkedIn and how they present themselves at conferences and with customers. If the CEO seems aloof, people will assume that cascades down to the rest of the company.

Help customers help you

In addition to consistently cultivating relationships, companies can initiate WOMM by letting customers have a say in the product.

  • Before and during your product development, elicit feedback from customers about what new features they want in the next version. This will be personally fulfilling for them. They helped build your product. They’ll brag about it.
  • Tap an industry influencer to bang the drum for your company on social media. It always helps to have a well-known figure humanizing your brand to a large audience.
  • You can ask customers to leave product reviews on sites like G2, on your own website, or on social media. User reviews often give people the reassurance they need before making a purchase.

Stay positive and don’t burn bridges

Having strong customer relationships is the foundation for WOMM, but even good relationships end.

So keep in mind that even when business relationships are over, they can still pay dividends. You want relationships to be so solid that customers still recommend you when they stop being customers.

It’s no fun when a customer churns or ends up being a bad fit for your product. There will be revenue loss and word-of-mouth marketing will be the last thing on your mind. But always let go of customers with respect and professionalism.

Despite the disappointment, they’ll remember how gracefully you handled the parting of ways and will spread that good word to friends and colleagues.

How To Create B2B Landing Pages That Actually Convert

This is the fifth post in our new content series, No Fluffs Given. We’re tired of the fluffy content in our LinkedIn feeds, with no real substance or actionable takeaways. So we’re teaming up with some of the best B2B marketers we know. People who have ACTUALLY done this stuff before. And giving you new, actionable tactics to implement today.

Why do so many B2B landing pages fail to convert well?

Yeah, why is that?

I can tell you right now it’s not because you haven’t devoted enough time to:

  • Figuring out the personas you’re targeting
  • Nailing down the marketing angles you want to use to reach them
  • Getting designers to whip up a layout and eye-popping creatives that look juuuuust *right*

The uncomfortable answer is that most landing pages struggle to convert because the copy is often pulled together at the last minute.

Whatever a B2B marketer writes, it’s copy

Website content. LinkedIn posts. Thought leadership articles. It’s great when B2B marketers and campaign managers write copy for these assets.

Why? Because they’re able to easily weave their company’s strategic goals into the copy.

But.

There’s a gap between writing marketing copy that informs, educates, and persuades…

…and writing landing page copy that motivates prospects to (a.) fill in your lead gen form, and actually (b.) read the e-book, attend the webinar, or show up for a demo.

Again, this is not because marketers can’t write copy. It’s not because they don’t know how to persuade.

It’s because landing pages are a different beast altogether.

And most marketers simply get flustered trying to figure out which types of messages should go on their landing pages to make ‘em convert.

With so much pressure riding on them, it’s no wonder the landing page copy is left until last…

Even David Bowie and Queen sang about the pressure marketers are under to craft landing pages that convert (OK, so maybe the song wasn’t exactly about landing pages…)

But you don’t need to be livin’ on a prayer, clickin’ publish and holding your breath, hoping your landing pages will pull through.

You just need a little patience… and a solid B2B landing page framework. Like the one I’m about to show you.

Full disclosure: it doesn’t tell you exactly what to write on your landing pages.

But it tells you the right kinds of messages your prospects want to hear to motivate them to convert.

Think of it like a no-brainer checklist.

If your landing page checks off all of these 5 core copy elements, your landing pages will:

  • Reveal the right pieces of information, at the right time and pace to your readers (so they aren’t overwhelmed)
  • Encourage them to convert
  • Motivate them to follow through on what you want them to do post-conversion

And unlike shoulder pads, mullets, and parachute pants, these 5 core copy elements will never go out of conversion style with your readers.

Let’s dive right into the framework, ‘kay?

Core element 1: Make them stay with an attention-grabbing headline

David Ogilvy wasn’t wrong when he said: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

From the second your prospects touch down on your landing page, they’ll be wondering if they should stay (and keep reading) or click the back button and disappear forever.

The Clash gets that prospects are torn between staying (and reading more) or going from the second they touch down on your landing page

But most landing page headlines fail to capture prospects’ attention because they try to do too much.

Your headline only has one job to do. And that is to grab your readers’ attention.

That’s it.

You have an infinite amount of space below the fold to make a compelling argument for your prospects to convert. Your headline simply needs to make your reader stop whatever else they’re doing and focus on it.

So, how do you write a headline that’ll make them stay?

Here’s three tips for starters:

  • Base your headline off a question
  • Base it off a statistic or interesting fact
  • Base it off a deep-seated hope, fear, or desire—something you know your readers are struggling with but they can’t put it in words themselves
SavvyCal uses voice of customer data their headline to help say what readers think, and make you pay attention to it

Core element 2: Take their breath away with a curiosity-stoking lede

The lede should dazzle your prospects, affirming that choosing to stay on your landing page was the right thing to do

Get the headline right and you’ll capture prospects’ attention.

Get the lede (AKA subheading) right, and it’ll make them curious and excited enough to scroll below the fold and dive into the rest of your landing page.

Most ledes sound like an abstract from a journal article. But a truly compelling lede should be short, succinct, and support the statement or promise you’ve called out in your headline.

But it should never give away all the juicy details of your offer or product.

Your prospects need just enough context to grasp the value of what they’ll learn beyond the fold.

Because that’s what will compel them to scroll down and keep reading.

Hotjar’s lede states what the problem is and tells you they solve it, without giving away all the juicy details as to how they actually do it

Core element 3: Earn prospects’ trust with social proof

The biggest killer of conversions on landing pages?

A lack of social proof.

Because after you’ve hooked their attention and have them buried deep in the copy below the fold, their System 1 mind’ll say to them, “hey, I like the sound of this.”

At which point their System 2 mind kicks in, puts the brakes on their reading, and says:

“Waiiiit a minute. One second ago you were flipping through your newsfeed on LinkedIn… What company is this? Who do they help? And why should I trust them?”

That’s why social proof, and lots of it, is crucial.

It shows you’re not making this stuff up, and gives prospects’ System 2 minds something tangible to hold onto.

So they’ll know this much is true.

Who would’ve guessed Spandau Ballet was hinting at the need to build trust in your B2B landing page copy?

You can include social proof in the form of:

  • Written testimonials
  • Reviews from 3rd party sites or apps (think G2, Capterra, and TrustPilot)
  • Video testimonials or mini-case studies from happy customers
  • Logos of big shot, easily recognizable clients or customers
  • Impressive business stats (like “trusted by 12,453 companies around the world”)

And if you don’t have any of that? The personal branding of leaders in your company, of the speakers at your webinar, or the author/s of your e-book can also help.

For super powerful landing pages, try to include at least 3 out of these 5 types of social proof, and sprinkle them liberally throughout the page.

ClockShark is a study in the use of social proof. It’s clear they know what they’re doing and that you can trust them

Core element 4: Stack value to make converting a no-brainer

For your prospects, there’s a certain amount of anxiety that goes into converting.

Your prospects are giving up something precious to them (their data or contact information) so they can get something precious from you in return (what you’re offering them).

Meaning you need to position your offer as being equal to—or greater than—the value of your “ask.”

And the way to do that is by stacking the value of your offer.

“Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you,” proof that Rick Astley was a true expert (before his time) in value stacking

And this is easier to do than you’d think. You simply need to list the core benefits (not just features!) of what they’ll discover, or walk away with in their digital hands, as a result of converting.

Here’s how you can do this, easily:

  • Pull up a clean spreadsheet, or create a table in Word/Google docs
  • Write down in one column all (and I really mean all) the features of your offer—what they’ll get if they attend your webinar, download your e-book, book a demo, or sign up for a free trial
  • In the column next to it write down all your prospects’ pain points, benefits, and desired transformations—what they’re really looking for that will make their lives better

Then connect the points in these two columns by bridging between them with the phrase “so you can…” or “lets you…”

Edit for clarity and to weed out repetition, and there you have it. A solid value stack.

Now I know this sounds super esoteric, so here’s what that looks like in practice.

Pick any feature out from the screenshot from Basecamp below and break it down into the 3 elements as we described above: (1.) the feature, (2.) the “so you can”  or “lets you” bridge, and (3.) the outcome/desired result.

Here’s what you get: The “Message Board” lets you “Post announcements, pitch ideas, progress updates, etc. and keep feedback on-topic.”

Basecamp’s “how it works” landing page stacks value in multiple layers, relating its features to prospects’ current pain points and their desired outcomes or transformations

You can present your stacked values as icons with descriptions underneath, as a list of bullet points, or in any other format that makes sense for your page.

The point is your prospects will see that sharing their valuable information with you results in clear ROI for them.

Core element 5: A call to action—that actually drives action

Last but not least, the final kind of message your prospects need to see to move them to convert is a super-compelling call to action.

But by “call to action” I don’t just mean the button copy.

I mean finishing with a crystal-clear action or value-based headline and button copy that’s as bold as a cartoon avatar breaking through to the 3rd dimension.

Even though “take on me” isn’t so grammatically correct, the straightforward-ness of this CTA definitely stands out

You’ve spent the entire landing page making a convincing argument for your prospects. So now’s the time to ask them to convert, straight up.

Here’s some ways you can frame the CTA to encourage conversions:

  • Make it sound like an invitation, such as “Join 237 other companies already using X”
  • Lean into the action as much as possible, such as “Sign up for your free trial now” or “See how {product} helps you {achieve specific goal}”
  • And ease any final objections they might have about converting (“no credit card required”)

And if you want to test a value-based call to action, just connect the act of converting—clicking, downloading, or signing up—to the biggest or most important value they’ll get for doing so.

Better Proposal’s CTA headline aligns with the #1 biggest value prospects will get by converting, any final objections to converting are eased, and the button copy is crystal-clear and action-focused

That’s it. That’s the framework.

So next time you’ve been tasked with writing a landing page or two, don’t stress about trying to “find the right words” to make it convert from the get-go.

Use this framework to help you organize the right kinds of conversion-driving messages you need to include in your copy.

And piecing together high-converting landing pages will be faster, and easier, than you think—time after time.

*There are 9 hit 80s song references in this post—some are more obvious than others.

The obvious references (6):

  1. Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash
  2. Take My Breath Away – Berlin
  3. True – Spandau Ballet
  4. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
  5. Take On Me – A-Ha
  6. Under Pressure – David Bowie & Queen

Hidden references (3):

  1. Patience – Guns N’ Roses
  2. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
  3. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper

Meet Eden Bidani

Conversion Copywriter, Green Light Copy

Eden earned her sales and marketing stripes “walking the beat” in direct sales for 5 years. Now, she combines her “selling-not-selling” acquisition strategies with conversion copywriting to help SaaS, e-commerce, and tech businesses drive crazy-good growth at every customer touchpoint. Hobbies include remembering how much 80s music she listened to while growing up, and bribing her kids with chocolate to keep quiet during Zoom calls.

Connect with Eden on LinkedIn here.  

Metadata Integrates LinkedIn Conversation Ads Into Their Demand Generation Platform

Metadata customers can now launch Conversation Ads campaigns directly from within the platform with pre-vetted templates for B2B marketers

San Francisco – June 10, 2021 – Metadata.io, the first demand generation platform for B2B Marketers, today announced that LinkedIn Conversation Ads is an available ad format in their platform.

As a certified LinkedIn Marketing Partner, Metadata was one of the first to expand their integration to include this new ad format. Metadata’s fastest build to date (under 8 weeks), customers now have the ability to set up, manage, and measure LinkedIn Conversation Ads from within the Metadata platform, taking advantage of Metadata’s unique ad flow templates and playbook library for this ad type.

In December, Metadata won “Innovator of the Year” at LinkedIn’s Partner Connect North America as a result of their innovation with LinkedIn Conversation Ads campaign automation, providing B2B marketers and demand generation leaders the ability to use pre-vetted templates together with a new ad format.

“We’re thrilled to offer the LinkedIn Conversation Ads format in our platform for our customers who want to be at the edge of the latest opportunities in marketing, ” said Jason Widup, VP of Marketing at Metadata. “We used it ourselves over the last year and saw impressive results quickly – our campaign delivered 230% more demos in a month with 60% less budget with a $1:$5 ratio of spend to closed/won revenue. We were able to generate $1.5m in revenue and $7.5m in pipeline for Metadata.”

Marketers can now run LinkedIn Conversation Ads in Metadata for content download, event registration and demo request campaigns. Utilizing this new ad type will help marketers target both their target accounts, as well as the buying committee within those accounts, at a low cost and high conversion rates, generate qualified demand and revenue for their sales teams.

“We’ve generated hundreds of demo requests and found the percentage of new ABM leads generated from Conversation Ads that convert into SQO’s to be among our highest converting channels,” said Silvio Perez, Founder & CEO, AdConversion.

Despite how open and configurable LinkedIn Conversation Ads are, Metadata found that the best results are generated through a curated set of templates, playbook and ad flows, using specific CTAs and offers. With these ad flow templates and offers, Metadata customers can significantly shorten the time to execute these types of campaigns, and achieve positive ROI at higher rates than other marketing channels, for significantly less spend.

“With the performance we saw, we had to be one of the first LinkedIn Marketing Partners to offer this to our customers. Having this capability within our platform creates a conversational experience for B2B marketers to choose their own path, and allows for a more authentic, interactive engagement that results in higher ROI,” says Jason Widup, VP of Marketing at Metadata.Additional benefits to adding the LinkedIn Conversion Ads format to their platform include automating the user journey in less time and increasing revenue with a shorter sales cycle and higher lead volume. Specifically, customers are turning to Metadata to run LinkedIn Conversation Ads for the following reasons:

  • Flexibility: Can use the ads for content, webinar, and demo request campaigns
  • Highly targeted: Can send them using custom MetaMatch audiences
  • Cost-effective: Can deliver them at a low cost per send (< $1.00 in most cases), with very high open rates

Learn more about here: https://metadata.io/linkedin-conversation-ads/

About Metadata

Metadata is the first demand generation platform that launches paid campaign experiments and self-optimizes to revenue. Through AI and machine learning, Metadata helps B2B marketers automate the repeatable and time-consuming parts of running paid campaigns so they can focus more of their time on strategy, targeting, and creative. B2B marketers at Zoom, Okta and ThoughtSpot rely on Metadata to get closer to revenue. Start experimenting so you can get revenue faster with https://metadata.io/.

There’s No ‘Or’ in Marketing: Why You Should Blend ABM and Demand Gen

Account-based marketing isn’t exactly a shiny new toy, but the way ABM platforms talk about it could’ve fooled us both.

And don’t get me started on ABM platforms defining what ABM is based on their products’ capabilities.

The past few years, we’ve seen a shift toward favoring account-based activities in B2B marketing—and for good reason.

ABM offers the opportunity to connect (or reconnect) with your target accounts, scaling and personalizing as you go.

But some have swung the pendulum a bit too far, trading in proven demand generation activities for an all account-based, all-the-time mindset.

Marketers taking on ABM like a college kid buying up AMC stock may not realize:

  1. How critical alignment and coordination between sales and marketing is. I know, I know, everybody talks about sales and marketing alignment. But there’s a reason: your ABM programs won’t amount to anything if you’re coming up with and executing them alone.
  2. Their average deal size may not warrant an ABM approach. If the average deal size is less than $20k, it probably doesn’t make much sense for you to go all-in on ABM.
  3. How expensive ABM can be. I’m talking content creation, program spend, direct mail…this all adds up really quickly. And many companies don’t realize what they need to get legit ABM programs off the ground.

I’m here to set the record straight: ABM is just one piece, not the end-all-be-all, of B2B marketing.

This is part 1 of our ABM/demand gen series. In this first article, I’m starting at the 30k foot level to look at why most companies should take a blended approach to ABM and demand gen. For most of the series, I’ll focus on the ground level: targeting, setting up campaigns and how to measure success. Finally, I’ll pull back out for some perspective on when ABM isn’t the right call.

30,000 feet: ABM and demand gen

What am I talking about, here?

Plenty of B2B marketers are going strong with proven demand gen tactics and focused ABM campaigns.

But some enthusiastic marketing teams have latched onto an account-based approach, leaving direct response and performance marketing behind as the pendulum swings.

Others have confused ‘demand gen’ with a shotgun approach to marketing, resulting in more leads that don’t ever convert to revenue.

I’m not here to sell ABM short—it’s an incredible way to engage with target accounts.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need to choose between ABM or demand generation (or anything else, really).

Plenty of marketers think you have to choose one or the other, as if demand gen and ABM are mutually exclusive.

But the best B2B marketers use both demand gen and ABM at the same time.

You can (and should) run targeted demand gen programs for your ideal customer profile, even if you have ABM in place, too.

This series will give you, the marketer, a framework to think through how ABM and demand generation fit together in your own company and specific strategies to get better at both.

Long story, short: ABM is one of several marketing tactics you need for a well-rounded B2B marketing program—and ABM platforms aren’t the cure all you might think they are.

If you haven’t dipped your toes in the ABM water yet, take a breath (no FOMO here). ABM isn’t for everyone.

If you’re in over your head with the account-based approach, let’s get you back to safer more innovative waters.

Running legit demand gen campaigns will help you hit your revenue numbers.

10,000 feet: Where marketing gets mixed up

I see marketing teams make many of the same mistakes as they grow the team, expand to new markets, and take on new tech to support growth and get the message out.

The most common pitfalls I see include:

  • Thinking technology will solve a marketing problem. Adding an ABM platform to your stack doesn’t mean magically fix your messaging, just like downloading Calm won’t automatically increase your zen on a Tuesday morning.
  • Swinging too far in either other direction. Some marketing teams are either all-in on demand gen or all-in on ABM. You gotta find the right balance for your company and target audience.
  • Mixing up the intention of ABM and demand gen. Demand gen doesn’t mean take a shotgun approach with your bad marketing. ABM doesn’t mean forget about accounts that meet your ICP but didn’t make your target account list.
  • Getting stuck using one-trick pony platforms. ABM platforms can help you set up effective, account-based campaigns, but they can’t scale other demand gen campaigns to fill the rest of your funnel with new prospects.

While I recommend a mix of both demand gen and ABM campaigns, most marketing teams will end up leaning one way or the other.

How do you know which to use, and when?

ABM gets me in front of my ideal customer. Why’s that so bad?

Short answer: it’s not.

Slightly longer answer: it’s not, but true ABM should focus solely on your top tier accounts and high value deals.

The smaller your deals, the more volume you need so your GTM strategy will rely more on demand gen tactics. They’re scalable and typically cheaper.

You can use demand gen to:

  • Target companies and prospects that still meet your Ideal Customer Profile
  • Focus on educating the market on big macro changes
  • Make sure you’re not leaving good revenue on the table

Side note: once you start to build more awareness, you can start to run more direct-response campaigns.

Demand gen gets me lots of qualified leads. Why do I need ABM?

In a phrase, the larger and more complex your deals, the more your GTM strategy will rely on ABM.

You can use ABM to:

  • Focus on the right accounts where you are most likely to win
  • Provide much more personalized experiences for your buyers
  • Improve your coordination across Sales and Marketing (IF it’s done well)

Side note: depending on where the account is in your funnel (open opp vs. no open opp) it may not make sense to run direct-response campaigns at all, and instead focus on a more personal touch with ABM.

Ground level: What to do now

I’ll be going deep in this series, but I can’t let you go without something a bit more tangible after all that naysaying.

How do you get started if you’re currently only doing demand gen or ABM?

So you’ve swung all the way to ABM. What now?

You can double down on the efficiency of your account-based campaigns and use the targeted account lists to run better demand gen campaigns down the line. 

  • Review your target account list with your sales team. Ask some simple questions to make sure you’re prioritizing the right accounts. How did you come up with the list? Did everyone agree on the list? Which criteria did you use, and why? Is it all firmographic, or do you use technographic and intent data? 
  • Review who you’re targeting within each account. Again, take stock of how you’re reaching (or not reaching) your tier 1 accounts. Are you only targeting the decision makers, or have you added contacts for the rest of the buying committee? Which channels are you targeting them on—and why those channels? 
  • Turn your account list into a legit Ideal Customer Profile. What are the common attributes of your target accounts? Which job titles make up the buying committee at your target accounts? If your lists are laser focused on the most promising opportunities, you’ll end up with much better targeting for your demand gen campaigns.

So you’re still all-in on demand gen. What now?

Starting an account-based marketing approach from scratch can seem more than a little overwhelming. But, as long as you don’t overcomplicate it, ABM can complement your demand gen campaigns and lead to bigger opportunities. 

  • Don’t go “whole hog” right away, start small. Start by meeting with Sales, Product and Customer Success. Find consistencies across your best accounts so you can see where you have the strongest value prop, case studies and social proof. It can be as simple and small as 10 enterprise accounts, but whatever you do, don’t just pull a list of nice-to-have logos out of a hat.
  • Figure out the right approach to get started. ABM isn’t just one thing—there are one-to-one tactics, one-to-few tactics, and one-to-many tactics. Depending on how many target accounts you’re including in your pilot and the internal resources you have (think people and budget), pick the approach that makes the most sense for you. The more personalized your ABM approach is, the bigger lift will be for your team. One-to-one personalized content for your target accounts sounds great in theory, until you see how unrealistic it is for a small team with limited budget.

Tl;dr — whether you’re all-in on ABM or still heads down in demand gen, you’ll likely get a lot of value by taking a blended ABM + demand gen approach. Just make sure you’re using the right tools, testing and collecting feedback, and iterating as you go.

How Metadata Customers Are Using Conversation Ads

What do you get when you cross a website chatbot with a LinkedIn Sponsored Message?

A Conversation Ad!

B2B marketers have been using LinkedIn Conversation Ads for over a year to connect with prospects and generate leads and revenue.

At Metadata, we discovered this ad type last year when we had to adjust to pandemic-related budget cuts. I chronicled Metadata’s game-changing experience with conversation ads in a recent post. But long story short: The total closed/won revenue from conversation ads for us from April 2020 to April 2021 was $1.3 million. That’s a 5X ROI!

LinkedIn Conversation Ads were such a win for Metadata that we decided to offer them as a product feature. The feedback from customers so far has been positive and I’ll share customer quotes and performance metrics later in this post. But first, here’s a rundown of the key characteristics of LinkedIn Conversation Ads.

They’re flexible and cost effective

One of the main benefits of conversation ads is their flexibility. You can use them for demo request campaigns, but also for content downloads and webinar registrations.

They’re also cost effective: You can deliver conversation ads at a low cost per send (under $1.00 in most cases) with consistently high open rates of 60% or more.

The sender needs to be the right person

It’s critical that the message comes from someone the target recipient would take advice from.
If the target is the VP of marketing, the message should come from your VP of marketing. Note: A conversation ad should NOT come from a salesperson.

Conversation ads use CTA buttons for responses. Therefore, targets can’t actually respond to the sender, which will prevent you (the sender) from getting inundated with questions. However, in my experience, targets may reach out to you on the side via InMail or directly if you’re already a LinkedIn connection.

CTA buttons create a ‘choose your own adventure’ path

Messages typically have two CTA response buttons, giving conversation ads the feel of a “choose your own adventure”. Instead of just a single response, a new message is sent to targets based on the response button they select.

The CTA buttons usually say something like “Save my spot” and “Tell me more”. “Save my spot” goes to a landing page containing a form to sign up for the demo or webinar, followed by a Thank You page once the form is completed.

“Tell me more”, however, takes a circuitous route where the target is directed to a message describing the demo/webinar in more detail with CTA buttons “Not this time” and “Yes please”. “Yes please” goes to the form page. “Not this time” goes to a message offering more info about the product or an invitation to view an on-demand version of the webinar later. This message will also include a link to visit the website to learn more about the company. And all of this is infinitely configurable.

Placeholders allow for personalization

When setting up conversation ads, use placeholders for information such as first and last name, job title, company and industry. These placeholders are data points that LinkedIn already knows about your targets. So when the ad gets served in real time those placeholders are replaced with the actual values to help you better personalize the ad.

Read more about tips for delivering quality LinkedIn Conversation Ads.

Customer feedback on conversation ads

Here’s how a few of our customers have been using conversation ads so far.

Upkeep

Maintenance management software company Upkeep uses Metadata’s conversation ad feature to drive lower funnel conversions such as demo requests.

How have conversation ads performed so far?

Silvio Perez, Paid Demand Gen Manager, UpKeep: “We’ve generated 300+ demo requests and the percentage of new leads generated from conversation ads that convert into SQO’s are among our highest converting channels.”

What have you learned so far from trying conversation ads?

Perez: “You should build a solid exclusion list, especially when offering gift cards as an incentive. Also, look beyond LinkedIn vanity metrics and collaborate closely with sales to make sure the right opportunities are coming through and closing into revenue. Use CTA labels such as ‘how do I qualify’ to make sure the right people take you up on your offer.

“I recommend you don’t stop at a demo request. Create conversation flows that downsell prospects into your next most relevant offers such as a free trial or gated content.

“Finally, triple-down on your first sentence. It’s the first thing the prospect sees in their inbox. We’ve found a difference between 50-77% open rates just from testing the first sentence.”

Labelbox

Labelbox, a training data company, uses Metadata’s conversation ads to offer downloadable content pieces and demo sign ups.

How have conversation ads performed so far?

Chris Ebhogiaye, Growth Marketing Manager: “We’ve seen conversation ads drive 60% lower CPLs than our typical LinkedIn ads with strong engagement and conversion rates helping offset higher than average CPMs.”

What have you learned so far from trying conversation ads?

Ebhogiaye: “The shorter and snappier your messages are the better. So far, conversation ads are more successful for us at driving top of funnel interest than lower funnel activity.”

LaunchDarkly

LaunchDarkly, a feature management platform, has been using conversation ads to offer demos using a Doordash gift card as an incentive.

How have conversation ads performed so far?

Maurice Maxwell, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager, LaunchDarkly: “Performance has been stellar. We spent only $7K and drove 50 leads and those automatically became SALs [sales accepted leads]. Conversation ads have influenced $60K in pipeline.

“We asked people a qualifying question and gave some background to make sure this was something they did or managed. This helped weed out people who wouldn’t benefit from our offer.”

What have you learned so far from trying conversation ads?

Maxwell: “Pinpoint your audiences, but also exclude anything you can to improve segments, job titles and functions. You really need to know your ICP to make sure the audiences you want are what you’re targeting.”

Click here to learn more about running LinkedIn Conversation Ads with Metadata.

Ungated Content Actually Helps You and Your Buyers

This is the fourth post in our new content series, No Fluffs Given. We’re tired of the fluffy content in our LinkedIn feeds, with no real substance or actionable takeaways. So we’re teaming up with some of the best B2B marketers we know. People who have ACTUALLY done this stuff before. And giving you new, actionable tactics to implement today.

How many times have you walked onto the lot of a car dealership ready to buy, but had no idea what car you wanted? 

Zero times? Yeah, me too. 

Buyers are in control of the discovery process. The amount of information available to consumers grows every day, and they’re well-researched before engaging with a salesperson. 

These universal truths have led to the rise of content marketing for B2B companies.

But here’s an unfortunate paradox:

Marketers pour resources into producing content for buyers, but buyers see most content as a commodity. Just means to an end. 

We over value our own content. And the response has been to put a gate on it so we can track the return on our “investment”. 

Combine that with the never ending quest for predictable revenue. 

Add a dash of mistaking quantity for quality. 

And viola! We’ve created a perfect storm of shitty, gated content produced in mass volumes.

A massive, gated content shitstorm, if you will.

Lucky for you, you’ve stumbled across some ungated content on ungated content. So meta.  

And if you keep reading, you’ll learn how to prepare for this big change and the best way to measure performance after the gates have been opened. 

My first order of business

When I first arrived at Leadspace toward the end of 2020, I saw an amazing platform that was lacking market awareness.

Gating our content meant fewer eyeballs. And as far as I was concerned, we needed more eyeballs to help increase awareness. 

So I went off looking for an answer to one question

Did my new team close any deals as a result of gated content campaigns this year?

The answer was no. 

Plus, I had been in lockdown with my daughters, watching Disney’s Frozen on loop for six months. 

So there was only one thing to do.

Tell em, Elsa.

“Gated content” as a concept

Gating your content means it can only be downloaded in exchange for contact information.

With this contact information in hand – a new lead record is built and oftentimes immediately placed into an automated nurture program or SDR sequence.

Some people might refer to this interaction as “lead generation.” I’m not one of those people.

Marketing automation platforms (both a blessing and a curse) often take the blame for this content-for-contact info approach.

But where it started doesn’t matter.  Why it continues, does matter.

So who are you actually creating content for?

I see two reasons to gate content:

You want to calculate the ROI of the content you’re creating

You want to keep tabs on the people who download your content (that you spent all that time and money on) so you can understand how it impacts pipeline and revenue

You want to drop the downloaders into an email nurture program

Most email nurture programs operate under the assumption that your buyer’s journey is linear. And can be expedited by sharing content at each step in this “linear” journey.  

Neither reason actually benefits the people reading your content. It benefits you.

So who are you really creating content for: your audience or your sales motion?

But, what about the LEADS??!!

This is the most immediate place where you’ll feel the impact of ungating your content.

Simply put, your lead volume will go down. So there will be fewer people to add to your nurture programs and SDR sequences.

This means it’s also time to rethink your lead scoring approach, and likely, your definition of a “lead” altogether. 

I don’t consider people who download content as a “lead”.

As buyers continue to take more control of the sales process, allowing them to conduct their own research creates a better buying experience than being dropped into an automated nurture program asking for 30 minutes of their time.

Rethink your nurture strategy beyond the inbox.

Putting budget behind targeted, ungated content distribution is a savvy marketing play.

Set internal expectations before you ungate your content

Ungating content the right way doesn’t mean you can get rid of your forms and call it a day. 

Before you ungate anything, you need to set expectations internally. Start by meeting with these three groups of people:

  1. Your Leadership team
  2. Your SDR team
  3. Your Marketing team

Your Leadership team

Let them know your lead volume will initially go down. And when it does, they don’t need to hit the panic button. 

Looking further out – your CAC should decline as you spend more efficiently and the number of inbound demo requests steadily increases.  

Your SDR team

If your SDR team is spending a majority of their time chasing content download “leads”, they’re about to have a lot of free time on their hands.

Try directing them to use their newly found “spare time” so they can conduct research and build more personalized outreach for higher intent leads.

Your Marketing team

Work with Marketing Ops to ensure all the content gates are taken down correctly.
You’ll probably need to have a discussion about how this will impact your lead scoring and attribution. Ungating content creates new attribution challenges for those who tightly monitor return on ad spend.

How to measure content performance after you’ve ungated it

There’s still hope for all you data junkies and scoreboard watchers.

If you have a basic understanding of Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Salesforce (or know somebody that does), you can find a way forward without those content download reports.

You can break down your content consumption metrics into leading and lagging indicators.

Leading indicators: content consumption

Lagging indicators: pipeline impact

You’ve ungated your content. Now what?

You’ve just made a big shift in your marketing mindset from a seller-centric approach to a buyer-centric approach. 

Congratulations! Hopefully, this creates a domino effect and leads you to audit the entire buyer journey through the lens of your current and future customers.

Removing friction points from your buying process is a destination-less journey. 

But just because your content is easier to consume, doesn’t mean you’ve effectively opened the floodgates and can expect immediate spikes in demo requests.

Now, more than ever, you need to be building an effective CONTENT DISTRIBUTION strategy.  

Just because you produce the content, doesn’t mean people will automatically show up to consume it. 

But that’s probably a topic for a separate blog post…

Meet Tory Kindlick

Marketing Director, Leadspace

Tory is B2B SaaS marketing leader, having spent a majority of his career in demand generation roles. Currently, he markets marketing tech to marketers. Tory is not a ninja, guru, or rockstar, but does have an insatiable appetite for all disciplines of marketing (and ice cream…big fan of ice cream). He’s spent years immersing himself in marketing literature, trends, and best practices, and now does complete opposite of everything he learned. Tory has 2 little girls, enjoys picking up heavy things and putting them down, and has an unhealthy obsession with Philadelphia sports.

Connect with Tory on LinkedIn here.