Welcome to Q4 2020. I know. There were times in previous quarters of this topsy-turvy year where it seemed like we’d never get to this point. But we did. We made it. Congratulations.
After more than six months of pandemics and cultural tensions and a crazier-than-normal election season, things feel like they are starting to return to normal—at least in the business world. For one thing, more and more companies are reaching out to ask about our services, and I have a couple of theories as to why.
Many are coming to us to begin the planning process for 2021. That’s pretty normal for this time of year. Others, we think, are faced with something of a conundrum. They were told earlier in the year to pause or reduce spending, and they did. Now, as they enter the fourth quarter, they face a use-it-or-lose-it situation where budget is concerned. That’s leaving them with a windfall they never expected: they suddenly have dollars they need to spend by the end of the year.
If that’s you, we have some suggestions on where you can put that money. (And, really, these suggestions are worth investing in, windfall or not.)
Create Great Video
I could tell you that video is maybe the most effective content channel going, but you’ve already read that in dozens of places. You may have already done some video. With your extra budget, you can make more.
But there are some do’s and don’ts to consider. Don’t make product videos. Don’t make videos about you or your team. You don’t need another animated demo. Do highlight your customers. Tell their stories. Show their successes. And not just their success because of they use your product, but their success in general. You’ll get some credit by association.
There’s a good example of this from the B2C world right now.
The cups and cooler company YETI has been releasing some really great videos on YouTube over the last six to 12 months. They are amazing examples of content marketing. YETI is footing the bill for creating the videos and, yes, you may see a YETI product in the video somewhere. However, they mostly focus on adventures and the people who are able to have them because of the products YETI sells.
Honestly, YETI does an amazing job of telling great stories, and, if you are interested in content marketing at all, they are a company you should be paying attention to.I will grant you that those YETI videos have a high polish. That means they are also high dollar. No doubt. And I’m not going to try and tell you that you have to “spend money to make money.” But I am going to encourage you to see those videos as inspiration. Figure out what kind of engaging customer stories you can tell, then figure out the best way that you can tell them.
Our budgets around here are likely a lot like yours, and we’ve posted 10 videos since April with more in the production process. None of those took more than a few hours to produce end to end.
Budgets shouldn’t be limiting, and even if your windfall is more like a breeze there are still opportunities.
Create Better Email
We are more connected to our inboxes than ever, and that’s true for a few reasons. One, it’s this crazy year. Because our in-person activity is limited, we have been forced to lean more heavily on digital channels. This isn’t just affecting our work activities either. Because we are all stuck indoors and getting a bit bored, we open emails we may never have glanced at if things were more normal. (Hello, sale emails from our favorite retailers.) Speaking of retail, the rise in certain activities—like online shopping—also just naturally keep us more connected to our inboxes. All of this means that email remains a really effective marketing channel.
If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your strategies, this is a great time to do that. To help get you thinking, here are a few things to ask yourself:
- Am I segmenting messages to targeted audiences as much as I should be?
- Am I personalizing my emails with callouts and content that entice my audience?
- Am I getting creative and showing my brand’s culture and personality?
These are all techniques to keep at the front of your mind when it comes to making your emails more effective. So, where do you put that extra money you have to spend? Here are two ideas.
Set up automated nurturing if you already haven’t. This involves time to create the emails, to create the content you’re sharing if you don’t already have it, then to build the automations inside whatever software it is you’re using.
Test, test, test. Now is the perfect time to test and find out what works for your business—what kind of subject lines work best? What about emojis? Are you optimizing for the types of devices your customers use to open your emails? What about dark mode? If your email software doesn’t offer much in the way of A/B testing, find one that does. We are partial to HubSpot and would love to tell you more about it.
Create a Better Converting Website
You look at your website every day, but when is the last time you checked to see if it was actually performing like you want it to? You do have a goal for your website, right? It has a job that you want it to accomplish? For mid-sized B2B tech companies, that job is often conversions. That is, you want it to take someone from a visitor and start them on the journey of becoming a customer.
Most sites with conversion as a goal actually don’t convert very well. That’s because so much rides on a generic “contact us” form. Or “Sign up for a demo.” If that describes your site, then creating more opportunities to convert is an ideal place to consider investing your fourth quarter windfall.
That starts with a website audit so you can better understand how visitors interact with your site. Do you know how far down your home page they scroll before leaving for an interior page? Do you know what they click on or where their eyes go when they do scroll? Or do they even scroll at all, instead opting to use the menu at the top of your homepage to navigate through your site?
If you don’t know these things, then you can’t know the optimal place on each page to put your conversion points. You don’t know where visitors are most likely to click on a button offering them a free downloadable asset. You don’t know where on your pages you’re losing their attention and likely to lose any conversion opportunities you’ve created after that.
The user audit is just the first step. Next up is optimizing your assets, and this assumes you’ve already invested in asset creation—eBooks, whitepapers, blogs, and so on. (If you don’t have those, that’s where you start.) Look at your assets’ performances. Which blogs do visitors actually read? Which whitepapers and eBooks do they download most often? Instead of pushing visitors toward a generic form, use these popular pieces and the information they provide as a way to entice conversions.
So, if you’ve come into some unexpected money this quarter, don’t just spend it to spend it. Put it to work for you. Create video that can sit at the top of your funnel and create awareness. Better optimize your email marketing so those leads in the funnel can be better nurtured. And optimize your site so it does a better job of converting people and getting them into your funnel. All it takes is a plan, and we can help you develop one.