6 ABM and Demand Gen Campaigns You Can Steal to Level Up Your Marketing

Imagine you’re a VP of Sales named Hayden.

You step out of your Uber and glance up at one of those digital billboards on top of a cab.

“Getting into OOH advertising, Hayden?” the ad reads. “We can help.” 

That might sound like Minority Report, but all the ad would have to do is combine geofencing with a dynamic ad creative and programmatic placement via a DSP—along with a healthy level of account-based segmentation on the back end.

It’s not exactly a demand gen campaign, but it’s not pure ABM, either. It’s just smart marketing. 

It’s this kind of blended approach that will eventually allow for the “ad of the future” described above. (It’s not that far off, either.)

In the meantime, what kinds of ABM and demand gen campaigns will have the biggest impact?

We put together dos and don’ts plus six examples to help you get even more creative with your marketing tactics both now and in the future. 

  1. Our distinction between ABM and demand gen
  2. Demand gen campaigns: dos and don’ts
  3. 4 demand gen campaign examples
  4. ABM campaigns: dos and don’ts
  5. 2 ABM campaign examples

Why our distinction between ABM and demand gen doesn’t matter as much as we think it does

Let me switch gears for a second.

As I was preparing to write this article, I had a conversation (well, Zoom call) with Logan Neveau, our Sr. Director of Product Growth.

He asked a quasi-rhetorical question I still can’t get out of my head.

“Most marketers don’t consider demand gen campaigns as part of ABM, or vice versa. But why the hell not?”

The more I think about it, the more I see what he means. 

The lines between demand gen and ABM campaigns are arbitrary at best: when the ultimate goal is to drive more revenue, what does it matter if the campaign uses one channel over another or a predefined list over a look-alike audience?

“Whether it’s demand gen or ABM, at the end of the day, you’re just trying to get in front of the right person.” 

Silvio Perez, Head of Ad Operations, Metadata

OK, sure. The goal is often different:

ABM is often about account engagement, while demand gen is more directly about activation.

But one should flow into the other, instead of standing entirely apart. (In fact, we wrote an entire blog post about it.) 

Watch Jason, Chris, and others break down ABM vs Demand Gen

The reality is that both of these are the marketing tactics that will all support the same overarching goal: get in front of the right person and drive more revenue. 

Demand gen campaigns: Dos and don’ts

I’m going to go out on a limb and say: this is where most of your budget currently goes. 

That makes sense, too: it has the most direct line to revenue, it’s faster to experiment with, and it’s generally easier to measure because marketers have been running direct response lead gen campaigns for so long. The systems are just set up for it. 

But that’s not the only reason: your CEO and CRO probably think “leads, MQLs, and opportunities” in the same breath as “marketing.”

Trying to get them to use new engagement metrics to measure ABM programs doesn’t always go over well—so you return to tried and true demand gen tactics.

Nothing wrong with that—but using a measurement system that has been around for a decade is no reason to phone it in. 

Dos for demand gen campaigns

1. Retarget folks who’ve visited your pricing and demo pages.

We’d call this low-hanging fruit, but we don’t like the buzzword. How about a no-brainer?

2. Run conversation ads on LinkedIn without an incentive.

You don’t have to reserve the effective channel for direct response, cold outreach. Try it out for retargeting and intent-based audiences, too. They may respond well.

3. Return to pipeline acceleration.

We don’t often see marketing teams using demand gen channels to push deals through faster. This is a great opportunity to blur the lines between demand gen and ABM to great effect. 

4. Rewrite your objectives.

Everyone defaults to direct response lead gen campaigns in demand gen. But switching over to engagement objectives (watching the video in the ad, for example) can work to support retargeting down the line. Aim to serve content that attracts or repels—something only your ICP will find interesting and valuable. 

Don’ts for demand gen campaigns

1. Treat all conversions and leads the same.

Leads captured through demand gen campaigns don’t all have the same level of intent or interest, so don’t make the mistake of treating the same in subsequent engagement. 

2. Add leads from demand gen campaigns to automated sales sequences.

The best way to alienate your carefully curated leads is to pass them to a biz dev team that will ask for 15 minutes of their time. If B2B buyers want to get in touch and schedule a demo, they know how to do that for themselves. 

3. Use the same offer all the time.

“Schedule a demo” might work some places some of the time, but it won’t work everywhere all the time. Your offer should be relevant based on the audience and where they are in their evaluation process. For example: don’t serve demo request ads to an entirely cold audience that would benefit from sponsored content on Facebook or LinkedIn, instead. 

4 demand gen campaign examples

1. Retarget high-intent audiences

  • Strategy: Remarketing to anyone that bounced from your demo or pricing page to get them to sign up.
  • Creative: Testimonials, Awards, Anything that shows you’re the sh*t.
  • Ad Objective: Conversion / Lead Gen
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Discovery, Display

Anyone who spends any amount of time on your demo or pricing page is most likely part of your highest-intent audience. You should be running with that all day, every day. 

If someone landed on one of those pages and didn’t convert, they either aren’t ready to give you their money or they don’t understand how your solution can help them. Retargeting them helps on both fronts. Here’s how. 

First, set up a custom audience on Facebook and/or LinkedIn that narrows in on visitors to either your demo or pricing page. 

LinkedIn:

Account Assets ➡ Matched Audiences ➡ Create Audience ➡ Website ➡ Enter URL paths

screenshot of linkedin retargeting
Create retargeting audiences on LinkedIn for people who visit high-intent pages on your website.

Facebook:

Audiences ➡ Create Audience ➡ Custom Audience ➡ Website ➡ People who visited specific pages ➡ Enter URL paths

screenshot of facebook retargeting
You can do the same thing on Facebook too.

Then, start a campaign to this custom audience with ad creatives that other people talking about how awesome you are.

Testimonials work great, especially if you can put a face to the name. Awards in a relevant category work great, too. 

Now’s not the time for discounts or desperation. 

2. Offer demo requests for high-intent audiences

  • Strategy: Conversation Ads + Intent Audience + Incentive 
  • Creative: Personalized convo ads offering a gift card.
  • Ad Objective: Conversion / Lead Gen
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn

I might not be a math guy, but here’s a simple equation: Conversation Ads + Intent Audience + Gift Card = Ultimate combo of maximum interest.

You start with a high-intent audience—you can pull a list from Bombora based on broader browsing habits, or get a feed of visitors to your category’s G2 page. For example, in Metadata you can pull up: 

screenshot of G2 Intent lookback
We use Metadata to build audiences with G2 intent data.

Then set up your Conversation Ads campaign to that specific list.

Convo Ad with an incentive:

Instead of making it broad, make it specific to them: Are you still looking at that software category? Can I help? Want a $50 Uber Eats gift card?

(I mean, work your copywriting magic, but you get the idea.) 

3. Convert trial users

  • Strategy: Leverage product usage data to target accounts that are actively using their trial 
  • Creative: Testimonials, Awards—ideally testimonials discussing how they upgraded their trial and benefits they’ve received.
  • Ad Objective: Conversion / Lead Gen
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

If you’re already leveraging product usage data, you should easily be able to pull a list of users within specific accounts who are actively using their trial (for example, “Days since Last Activity < 30”). 

Instead of lumping these accounts in with the rest of your custom audience or target list for your next demand gen campaign, separate them out so you can serve a hyper-relevant and timely creative. 

screenshot - active trials
Product usage data is almost like a cheat code for your marketing.

This approach (along with email drip sequences) is often reserved for re-engagement—but why not aim to convert some of your most engaged trial users?

4. Increase brand awareness via demand gen channels 

  • Strategy: Promote helpful, specific-to-your-ICP content that doesn’t sell anything. Retarget viewers based on video completion with trial and demo offers.
  • Creative: Educational, non-promotional content: an ICP-specific video, an industry report, an ungated deep dive guide, and so on. 
  • Ad Objective: Video Views
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

Capturing existing demand via Google and Capterra works for the time being. But what happens when these more direct channels get more saturated and more expensive?

Why not think outside the box before then?

“In every channel, it’s not about what you do but how you do it.”

Silvio Perez, Head of Ad Operations, Metadata

With this campaign, you’re more focused on capturing interest than leads—at least, initially. 

First, take time to create a truly helpful piece of content. Let’s take a video, for example.

Serve it to a wider audience on Facebook and LinkedIn, and watch for the number of people who finish watching the entire video. Suddenly you have a much more qualified shortlist even after casting a wide net.

screenshot video campaign
I’ll spend $5.04 to get 8 people that watch a 24-minute long video of mine, every day of the week.

Look for engagement on that creative (native to the platform—you’re not looking for conversions just yet.)

screenshot engagement metric
Talk about a HIGHLY engaged audience.

From there, retarget that shorter list of leads with a follow-up offer. 

ABM campaigns: dos and don’ts

Let’s get this out of the way: ABM isn’t just “air cover” for your sales team. You can (and should) get strategic with account-based campaigns.

Better yet: instead of treating ABM as entirely separate from demand gen, why not use it to both support demand gen efforts and experiment with more demand gen-esque tactics? 

Overall, you’re looking at awareness first, then engagement, then direct response. ABM can feed all three, even as it focuses on just a handful of key accounts. 

Dos for ABM campaigns

1. Lead with content but set up strong intent scoring in the background.

Instead of aiming for a direct response right off the bat, take a slower approach and measure engagement along the way. 

2. Adjust your outreach along the way.

Measure engagement within the account, and reach out with the right message at the right time. If you start with display ads to drive awareness, add in Conversation Ads once penetration is high enough (go from “nurture status” to active prospecting). 

3. Experiment with channels.

Most people hear “ABM” and immediately think of direct mail or running display ads. They’re far from the only things that will help you move forward with your accounts. 

Don’ts for ABM campaigns

1. Run the same demand gen campaigns against a list of accounts.

If you’re not aiming to appeal to the entire account, you’re not doing ABM. You’re doing demand gen with a smaller list. 

2. Think you need an ABM platform to run ABM campaigns.

And I say that as a marketer selling what some consider an ABM platform. You can run account-based campaigns on your own, natively in LinkedIn and Facebook. See how it goes and if the approach even makes sense for your company. 

3. Run ABM campaigns without coordinating with sales.

Consult your sales team both on who you’re targeting and the messaging and offer that you’re using. Coming off as uncoordinated will be off-putting for prospects. 

2 ABM campaign examples

1. Keep the recurring revenue train going by re-engaging customers

  • Strategy: Pull a Salesforce report with company names, serve account-based ads ahead of renewal and expansion efforts. 
  • Creative: Testimonials, Awards with company name mention
  • Ad Objective: Awareness ahead of renewal
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

Let’s be honest: usually, demand gen couldn’t care less about existing customers. 

It’s not their fault. OKRs for demand gen typically double down on new acquisition, not renewals or expansion.

And, like most people, those in demand gen care about more than their numbers than the company numbers. 

But that doesn’t have to be the case. If ABM can run “air cover” for sales, why can’t ABM run “air cover” for customer success?

Here’s our take: allocate most of your campaign budget to Tier 1 customers, then a smaller fraction for Tier 2 and Tier 3 customers (with a wider audience). 

Pull the company names from Salesforce, fill out your custom audience based on seniority and department (see the screenshot below), then push live and automate updates from Salesforce down the line. 

screenshot Salesforce account
This is one of the few campaigns here you can’t run natively in Facebook or LinkedIn.

Sales reps aren’t going to tag everyone in the buying committee, so you need a tool that can automatically bridge the gap between Salesforce and your advertising platform. 

“The first time legal and finance sees my logo should not be when the contract comes across their desk.” 

Logan Neveau, Sr. Director of Product Growth, Metadata

2. Use intent data from G2 to populate new campaigns

  • Strategy: Integrate G2 with your Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns to get a fresh audience for your demo request campaigns. 
  • Creative: Demo request
  • Ad Objective: Conversion/Leads
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

This one’s pretty cool, I’m not going to lie. 

If you’re a paying G2 customer, you can get a list of everyone who visits the category and comparison pages for your product. Better yet, with the API you can automatically throw them into campaigns, and update your audience on a daily basis. 

Here’s the ABM bit: instead of limiting the audience to direct visitors, you can expand it to include relevant buyers at the same target account. 

With a bit of fancy footwork, you can also suppress the cookie pool so that it excludes current customers and competitors. 

screenshot how to integrate G2 with your Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns
This is how we build dynamic G2 audiences on LinkedIn using Metadata.

Example of building dynamic SFDC exclusion audience of customers in Metadata:

Example of building dynamic SFDC exclusion audience of customers
Depending on the campaign – make sure to use dynamic exclusion audiences for your customers.

Just like your demand gen campaigns that rely on intent data, relying on G2 to feed your ABM campaign gives you the best possible audience to hit with a demo request. With this always-up-to-date and qualified audience, go for gold in your ad creatives. 

Bringing it all together with measurement

So you’ve launched the new demand gen and ABM campaigns you borrowed from this post. Now what? 

First, you need to make sure you’re measuring the right things to show your impact to your boss (and your boss’s boss). 

It all depends (as much as I hate typing that) on the objective of the campaign: consumption vs. conversion. Find the right balance between the two objectives, because you need both leading and lagging indicators.

For leading indicators, you can measure ad engagement, traffic and scroll depth. It’ll show you whether your audience is actually seeing and consuming your message. (And, yes, you can measure leads and MQLs too. Just don’t make them the end-all-be-all of your success metrics.)

I recommend keeping it simple for lagging indicators too. Measure things like demo requests, opportunities created and pipeline/revenue created. Don’t try to make the move overnight and jump directly to revenue. If you want to level up your measurement, you can measure things like average contract value, deal velocity and win rates.

Notice how we didn’t mention influenced revenue or account engagement?

100% intentional. Why? 

Because neither have a direct line to revenue.

And neither are things I would hang my hat on when showing our CEO or CFO. (Because they won’t care.)

That’s the high-level view of measurement.

How to Measure Your Facebook Ads ROI (With Metrics That Matter to Your Boss and Business)

There’s a big, honkin’ elephant sitting next to me that I need to address here.

If you’re reading this post on the ROI of Facebook ads, you’re probably asking a lot of common questions:

  • Are Facebook ads worth it for B2B?
  • What’s a good ROI for B2B Facebook ads?
  • How do I calculate the return on investment of my Facebook ads?

Yeah, you’re not alone. But you’re asking the wrong questions.

The problem is that these questions are all predicated on a giant assumption (and you know what they say about assumptions)—that you’re measuring your ad performance against the right metrics.

You don’t want to measure just any metrics. You want to measure the right metrics.

The metrics that matter to your boss. And your boss’ boss.

And that’s not typically the case.

In this post, we cover:

  1. Are Facebook ads a waste of money for B2B?
  2. Common mistakes to avoid
  3. How to calculate the real ROI of your Facebook ads

If you like raking in “leads” that have downloaded your eBook or attended your webinar, you can stop reading now.

But if you’d rather measure the ROI of your Facebook ads by things like pipeline and revenue, read on.

Are Facebook ads a waste of money for B2B?

A lot of B2B marketers wonder if spending marketing dollars on Facebook is worth it. You might worry that your super special and totally-unique-to-you ICP isn’t on Facebook—or maybe that you just won’t be able to reach them on the platform.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth a reminder. There are about 2.89 BILLION people on Facebook. I promise you, your ideal customer is there, and you can find them. And Facebook offers the advantage of catching these people outside of their typical work hours (score!).

Common mistakes to avoid

That said, Facebook ads can, in fact, be a waste of money if you fall prey to these mistakes B2B marketers often make:

  1. Using bad targeting
  2. Optimizing your ads against the wrong metrics

1. Using bad targeting

I already covered finding your perfect B2B Facebook target audience pretty extensively, but targeting is, in fact, one of the biggest hang-ups when it comes to driving return on ad spend (ROAS).

Working natively in the Facebook platform, you have limited options for targeting the people and accounts you’re looking for. It’s difficult or impossible to aggregate audiences by typical B2B variables like job title, industry, and employee count, you can’t upload account lists to find employees, etc. 

If you don’t get good at things like using your own first-party data and setting exclusions, you’re going to serve ads to a lot of people that don’t fit your ICP.

Which will tank your ROI.

Go back and check out that post if you’re struggling with Facebook targeting.

2. Optimizing your ads against the wrong metrics

Outside of targeting, the biggest problem surrounding the ROI of Facebook ads is your metrics.

When the top executives in your company present marketing results to the board, do they include impressions? Clicks? Engagement?

😬 😬 😬

I hope not.

The big wigs are much keener to hear how you’re actually impacting the bottom line. They want you to present metrics like:

  • Pipeline and revenue created
  • Opportunities created
  • Cost-per-opportunity

Ultimately, you want to tie your ad spend to revenue, but since your sales cycle might make that an excessively long process, these are strong performance indicators to report on and optimize against along the way.

The problem is that Facebook doesn’t allow you to optimize your ad performance against these metrics. The only option the platform gives you is to optimize to the initial conversion event, which is a higher funnel metric.

This conversion point is flawed and doesn’t account for the lower funnel metrics that matter to the business—like opportunities, pipeline, and revenue.

So, you may end up with a bunch of “leads” that downloaded your guide but aren’t the people that end up buying your product/service. 

Volume looks good. Cost per lead looks good. But the ultimate ROI does not look so good. Then Facebook continues to optimize your ads against this metric, sending you more of the same.

D’oh. It’s a money pit.

Great for Facebook, but not for you.

The exit out of this merry-go-round (and driving real ROI) is to connect your Facebook performance data with your marketing and sales performance data. 

This lets you figure out who IS buying your product or service after engaging with your ad. The better you can get at measuring lower-level conversions and feeding that data back to Facebook, the better your ROAS will be. 

Adam Goyette, VP of Marketing at Help Scout, does a great job explaining what that looks like in 4 Ways to Reduce Your CPL on Facebook by 50%.

How to calculate the real ROI of your Facebook ads

It’s a pretty simple equation to calculate the ROI of any advertising campaign, Facebook included:

(Money Received – Money Spent) / Money Spent = ROI

So, if you spent $2,500, which resulted in $10,000 coming into the business, the ROI equation would look like this:

(10,000  – 2,500) / 2,500 = 3

That can be expressed as a ratio, which would be 3:1, or a percentage, which would be 300%. 

The difficult part is connecting the spend with the money coming into the business.

So, how do you connect all of your data?

Well, you have a few options for bringing the data together.

1. Aggregate all of your own data

Hello, spreadsheets! 

At my last company, we used a data connector to pull everything we needed into a Google sheet—Facebook channel data plus opportunity data from our marketing automation platform (MAP). Then the Google sheet was full of calculations to net out the ROI of our Facebook ads.

It was messy, and it broke all the time, and I had to spend a lot of time fixing it, but it got me the ROI data I was looking for (namely, SQOs and cost per SQO). 

If you’re a bit more sophisticated, you can use a business intelligence (BI) tool like Domo for this integration and number crunching. 

BI tools will make your life a lot easier—if you know how to use them. You’ll probably need the expertise of a data analyst or strong marketing ops person to navigate the tech.

2. Make UTM codes work for you

If you can’t quite make it to fully aggregating your data, this is the next best thing. When you advertise on Facebook:

  1. Use a custom UTM for your campaign
  2. Tag anyone that engages as leads in your MAP
  3. Funnel these leads into a CRM campaign

With this approach, you can keep track of how many members end up in your campaign, how many convert into opportunities, how many show up to their demo calls, etc. 

The caveat is that you cannot see campaign spend in Salesforce—you’ll need to manually bring this data in from the ad channel (i.e. Facebook).

3. Use a tool like Metadata that measures Facebook ROI for you

Shameless plug—we’re really good at this. 

If you’re tired of hacking it together yourself, we make it easy by pulling in data from your ad channels, MAP, CRM, etc. It’s all in one place, numbers crunched behind the scenes, so you can quickly get at the ROI metrics that actually matter (adios, impressions).

But obviously, we’re biased. So, I suggest you dive into some Facebook benchmark data yourself. Head on over to our 2021 B2B Paid Social Benchmark Data for a variety of industry averages for ROI metrics like:

  • Click-to-lead conversion rate
  • Lead-to-opportunity conversion rate
  • Opportunity win rate

All of the data comes directly from our clients’ Facebook ad campaigns.

Friends with the ROI elephant yet?

I get it—it’s hard to let go of the metrics you’re familiar with. They’ve been ingrained in our marketer brains. 

We have to do some rewiring to measure and optimize against lower-level metrics. Because focusing on these metrics that actually matter to your boss—and your business—is the real way to drive ROI from your Facebook ads. 

🎤🙋🏼‍♂️

How to Optimize Existing Content & Why it Matters

This is the tenth 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.

At this point, you have probably heard someone say that you should be refreshing your content or maybe saw yet another up-and-to-the-right chart posted on Linkedin.

But what does that mean?

Well, when you move past some of the gimmicks or quick hacks to get a temporary boost in traffic, content optimization emerges as a sub-discipline within the world of SEO & content marketing. 

As such, it requires the same level of attention and process as things like optimizing PPC landing pages or A/B testing automation flows. It isn’t the core discipline but improves performance and should be done on a regular (if not recurring) basis.

The Metadata team was kind enough to let me share my experience with you on why it matters and how to identify the opportunities, implement the right solution, and do it at scale. 

Why all high-performing content programs include optimizing existing content

In my time leading Demand Gen & Acquisition at Sprout Social, we scaled the blog to 1 million sessions per month. As early as 2016, we saw the benefits of optimizing some of our existing blog content that had begun to decline in performance. 

Over time, it went from “cool, that worked” to “wow, this keeps working” to “let’s do this every month” to eventually a point where we were publishing more optimized pieces each month than new content. 

As I began speaking with others and studying similar companies, it was clear that every team with a significant content production was doing something similar.

Shopify, G2, Hubspot, and even sites like Motley Fool were all optimizing existing content to some extent.

The reality is that content decay is natural, and when you are in a competitive space AND producing a lot of content, it can happen rapidly.

But it isn’t all about fixing what has gone wrong. The process of analyzing existing content uncovers new growth opportunities as well.

So, high-performing content programs make content optimization a core part of their process to remain competitive, prevent the decay from working against overall growth, and continuously find new opportunities to expand and scale awareness, traffic, and conversions.

3 ways to spot opportunities for optimization

There are several ways to identify content to optimize or refresh, so I am breaking down the three that I’ve found to be the most common and most effective across a wide range of blogs. 

1. Look for declining performance

Declining performance is probably the most common and easy to understand. You look at the traffic and conversions over time, and they are trending downward. This steady decline works against any new content you create and often results in a net negative outcome for conversions. 

Semrush screenshot showing declining traffic
Look through Google Analytics, Semrush, or other tools to find which pages have been declining in traffic.

2. Find content sitting on page 2

In Google Search Console, you can look at the specific queries aligned to each blog post. In many cases, you may have posts or pages that are getting decent traffic, but upon closer inspection, realize that most of the queries matching to that content are ranking on the second page of Google. 

screenshot of Google Search Console
Google Search Console lets you sort by position. Look for pages that have a position greater than 10 and see if you can rework the content to move onto page 1.

3. Spot internal competition

As your content program grows, you naturally have more and more pages that talk about similar topics, which increases the likelihood of internal competition. 

Internal competition is when a single keyword matches multiple URLs on your site, creating confusion for search engines as they don’t know the priority. Internal competition typically results in most or all of those URLs having degraded performance. 

5 approaches to optimize existing content

As you identify good candidates for optimization, you need to figure out how you are going to do that. The truth is that each situation is unique, and it depends, but that isn’t helpful.

At Sprout, we eventually reached a point where we classified the solutions into three tiers, roughly corresponding to the level of effort required. This system helped a lot with capacity planning and systematizing our solutions to be highly efficient each month. 

Here are the five most common approaches companies take to optimize existing content: 

1. Expand

Content has slowly become longer over the years, so it is relatively common to find a blog post from a few years prior that is quite short. 

Word count is relative, so in this case, it comes down to how long the posts are that are ranking on page one of the search engines and how long it takes to cover the topic of the blog post thoroughly. 

i.e., don’t write 800 words about how to build a tiny home yourself or 3,000 words on how to change a drill bit. 

In many cases, you can assess what is missing from the post and expand it to cover the topic in full. 

2. Update

In some cases, the blog post covers the topic pretty well, but some of the content is outdated. 

For example, at Sprout Social, we created the Always Up-to-Date Image Sizes Guide for all social network image sizes.

Sprout Social displays the Last Updated date near the top to quickly let the reader know the content is relevant and up to date.

This blog post required frequent updating to make sure the content was fresh and entirely relevant.

3. Create

There are times when search demand grows for a topic that is currently only a small section on one of your blog posts. 

That post may be ranking for a few queries related to that topic, but the opportunity lies in creating a new, full post on that topic and then linking to it from the section on the existing one. 

This solution is more focused on growth and expansion than trying to mitigate decline and can be extremely helpful when you are scaling up your company blog. 

4. Consolidate

Consolidating content is typically the best solution to the internal competition problem mentioned before. 

Content consolidation involves combining multiple posts into existing ones or an entirely new post altogether, then setting up 301 redirects from the consolidated URLs to the new, final URL. 

The consolidated content creates a better experience for your prospects and customers trying to consume the content. Also, it sends a positive signal to the search engines, saying, “We cleaned up this mess that was creating problems for you and organized it all right here.”

5. Links

In some cases, the content fully covers the topic, is up to date, is of good quality, and isn’t competing with other internal URLs. Many times, this content needs more backlinks, more internal links, or both.

Look at the number of backlinks and internal links for the content ranking on the first page of Google to see if your post is low and needs more. 

An easy way to find internal link opportunities is to use Google.

screenshot of a Google search results page
Try typing: “site:[your site url] + [keyword]” into Google to find internal link opportuties.

In this example, there are several pages that mention “Facebook Image Sizes” that could be linked together.

Bonus: Prune

I’ve included content pruning as a bonus. It isn’t optimizing specific posts, but it can work well. 

Instead of consolidating content and redirecting URLs, sometimes you find old, lame content on your site that isn’t doing anything positive for you and isn’t worth keeping. 

In this case, delete it and make your site tidier.

Best practices for implementing at scale

As I noted before, content optimization is a discipline that requires processes and systems to be effective as possible.

Here are some of the best practices I’ve learned from scaling content operations at Sprout Social and now doing this for several companies.

1. Analyze quarterly

When you get ramped up, you’ll probably be analyzing your existing content every month. To get started, make it a point to analyze your content every quarter to identify posts that need to be fixed or have upside potential. 

Analyzing your data helps you stay on top of it, and like most things, what gets scheduled gets done. 

 2. Dedicate bandwidth

Most content teams create a consistent volume of content each month because that makes planning, budgeting, and consistency easier. 

If you are like most teams, that’s 4-8 posts per month. I’ve done as high as 30/month and talked with folks who have done 100+/mo. 

Regardless, a pretty easy starting point is to dedicate 25% of your current publishing bandwidth to optimizing existing content. 

So, if you are currently publishing 8 per month, start doing two optimizations per month and six new posts per month and go from there. 

The important part is that you carve out space for it and make it a priority and an expectation. 

3. Align with teams

One area that can hang up a team from making this a consistent process is collaborating with other teams. 

If you are frequently coming across older content, you may need new imagery or product shots or be required to verify with subject matter experts how to update the content from a technical standpoint.

Make sure you factor any outside dependencies into your timing and process, just like you would for new content, to make sure it becomes a smooth process.

Next steps for optimizing existing content

If you haven’t ever tried optimizing the content you already have, give it a shot on 3-5 posts you identify as good candidates. 

If you’ve been doing it for a while, but are inconsistent, consider building out a process to make it a recurring discipline for your company. 

If you want to learn more, subscribe to the Ten Speed Blog, where we frequently write on all things content optimization and strategy. 

Meet Nate Turner

Co-founder & CEO of Ten Speed.

Nate Turner is a SaaS marketing leader. He was the first marketer at Sprout Social, where he built and scaled the inbound engine from $100k to $100m in ARR. He is now the co-founder and CEO of tenspeed.io, a content optimization agency helping SaaS & D2C companies create revenue-generating content and an advisor for SaaS companies.

The Framework You Need for Successful Marketing Experimentation

If you’re a marketer, you need to be experimenting. 

There’s no way around it.

When a company discourages (or doesn’t actively encourage) experimentation it leaves marketing vulnerable. 

I’ve seen it happen a few times in my career. 

Marketing is afraid to test new ideas or ask for more budget, so they repeat once-successful campaigns that have long reached the point of diminishing returns. 

And here’s what happens:

  • KPIs get watered down
  • Leads are weak
  • Marketing slowly loses credibility within the organization

Does that sound familiar?

I’ve written recently about experimentation as a key way to inspire new ideas, prove marketing ROI and generally avoid being a mediocre company.

A lack of experimentation within an organization usually goes hand-in-hand with a fear of failure. Company cultures that don’t view failure as an opportunity to learn will frown upon experimentation or even forbid it.

If this sounds like your company, my advice is to run like hell. Because if there’s one trait innovative companies share —including Google, Facebook, and Amazon—it’s that they embrace experimentation

No marketer I know wants to work in this type of environment. 

Animated GIF - shaking head in disgust
Nobody wants to work for a company that doesn’t innovate.

Get an experimentation framework that works

Even if you work in a culture of experimentation, you still need to find the time and creativity to test new ideas. 

But most importantly, you need a systematic plan to run effective experiments and learn from them.

With a plan you can confidently and effectively:

  • Test new creative ideas.
  • Find new demand.
  • Verify that new audiences are receptive.
  • Maximize the value you get from every campaign.

You can finally bring a method to the madness.

Here’s how we do it.

Prefer to watch the video?

Develop your own framework

At Metadata, we’ve been leveraging a framework (originally built by Guillaume Cabane) for a few months to create and prioritize experiments and measure the results. One downside is that it’s, admittedly, fairly sophisticated. 

So, if you’re just formulating an experimentation plan, walk before you run.

screenshot of a simple experimentation framework spreadsheet
Your first framework can be basic. Start with a basic spreadsheet and get more advanced as you go.

Create a spreadsheet where the only inputs are: 

  1. Impact
  2. Effort
  3. Confidence

With the categories:

  1. High
  2. Medium
  3. Low

If you want to expand your experimentation framework further, here’s an Airtable framework template to get you started.

And each section below will give you tips and strategies for creating each part successfully.

1. Focus on your budget

Before you’re off to the races with experimentation ideas, you should understand the budget you have to experiment with and the demand and performance gaps you need to fill.

Your experimentation budget will depend on: 

  1. Your total working budget.
  2. The percent of your goals your working budget will deliver.

Let’s say you know you can deliver a lead for $100 from your current channels and tactics. Last month your goal was 100 leads, and your budget was $10,000. You had enough budget to meet your goals using tried-and-true tactics. 

However, this month your goals have changed to 120 leads, but your budget only went up by $1,000 to $11,000. 

Now there’s a gap of 10 leads to make up.

You no longer can meet your goals using past tactics and performance. In this case, you would only spend, say, $9,000 on the traditional tactic to drive 90 leads, leaving a gap of 30 leads and $2,000. This is where experimentation comes in—you need to try new things to get your CPL down to $67 for those last 30 leads.

However, even if you have enough budget to meet your goals using tried-and-true tactics, you should still be experimenting. Because at any moment those tried-and-true tactics could bomb. 

Try and optimize your current campaigns and use the dollars saved to do additional experimentation. 

If you’re in this situation, try and reserve at least 10% of your budget for new experiments.

Graphic saying "Reserve at least 10% of your budget for new experiments"

2. Gather your experimentation ideas 

Start by brainstorming ideas and then consistently add new ideas to your list as they come up. You should also give others within your organization access to the list so they can add their own ideas.

If you’re looking for a few ideas to get started, try these out:

  1. Test new landing page headlines.
  2. Try out a brand new marketing channel (TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn).
  3. Run a new set of Facebook Ads.
  4. Throw a digital event for your users/prospects.
  5. Sponsor a newsletter or podcast.

Ideas can be big as running a user event. Or as small as testing some ad copy and creative. The goal is to get in the mode of experimentation. After you have enough solid ideas down on paper, add data to help prioritize the experiments. 

Animated GIF - I think we have a pretty good idea

After you have your ideas, start to include data points such as: 

  • Effort – The difficulty level to build the experiment. 
  • Time – How long it will take to build and run.
  • Impact – What the potential impact will be (in terms of dollars or primary KPIs).
  • Confidence – Your confidence level of the experiment working.
  • Revenue possibility – The revenue estimate for the experiment.
  • Surface area – What part of the lifecycle it will affect: Acquisition? Pipeline? Retention?

When you do the math properly, the ideas that have the best mix of effort, impact, and confidence will float to the top— i.e. your “low-hanging fruit”. 

From these data points, you’ll be able to create an ordered list of the experiments you should run.

3. Set up experiment timelines and KPIs

Next, assign the top priority experiments to sprints and begin building. When you build, build the most basic MVP (minimum viable product) possible so you can test and iterate the experiment without wasting time. 

One of the biggest mistakes in experimentation is to try and build the perfect version the first time out. 

Animated GIF - Nothing is going to be perfect.

Here’s the reality: a large percentage of your experiments may fail.

So it’s important to reach the right balance of quality and speed. Use your MVP to learn and decide if it’s an idea you want to formally expand.

Provide the budget and timeline so you know from the start how long you want the experiment to run before you have enough data to be satisfied. 

You should also assign success and failure KPIs so you know if the experiment is beating or missing expectations. For instance, metrics to watch for an MVP would be CTR, CPL, and lead conversion. 

While these are not the normal metrics for measuring marketing success, they’re a good indication that the experiment is resonating and should be rolled out more formally. 

4. Assess the impact and what’s next

After an experiment has run its course, do a complete analysis of its impact and make a decision, usually one of the following: 

  • It performed great and should be an evergreen campaign that we build out even further and continue to optimize.
  • It needs some tweaks and a retest. 
  • It just didn’t work…let’s get rid of it.

Make sure to absorb and track these learnings so you can build on what you learned and not repeat the same experiment twice. And keep a running list of insights you’ve learned through experimentation. 

Start experimenting

Take the ideas with low effort and high impact and confidence and run them as your first experiments. 

As you generate more ideas (and you will), add inputs such as the metrics it will affect and how long it will take to build and run. Keep building on it.

Sooner than you think, you’ll have enough data and ideas to run a well-oiled experimentation engine that’ll keep you a step ahead of your always-evolving audience.