Posts in Growth Marketing

Hubspot vs. Marketo: A Head-to-Head Comparison

July 15th, 2021 Posted by Growth Marketing 0 comments on “Hubspot vs. Marketo: A Head-to-Head Comparison”

The software options to choose from in the marketing automation space can feel overwhelming, but two that often rise to the top as viable considerations are HubSpot and Marketo. While both platforms aim to provide a multitude of marketing tools to help attract and engage with new customers, they may be better suited for different types of businesses and audiences. Within this post, we pit HubSpot vs. Marketo and take a look at their strengths and shortcomings to help you make a more informed decision on which platform to choose.

What Is HubSpot?

HubSpot defines itself as a “marketing, sales, and service software that helps your business grow without compromise.” The HubSpot platform offers a complete customer relationship management (CRM) platform that assists with accelerating sales, streamlining customer service, increasing the number of leads, and even provides a CMS platform for developing websites that feature dynamic content and incremental form integration. Many of these tools can be used individually as needed, or together across different teams within an organization such as Marketing, Sales, Service, and Operations. By having multiple teams utilizing HubSpot, all parties are working off the same system of record and can easily collaborate within the software to deliver positive results for the business and its customers.

Key Benefits of HubSpot

  • All-in-one platform: HubSpot is an all-in-one platform for marketing automation, sales management, content management systems (CMS), and helpdesk automation. While the tools that it offers in each category are extensive, categories can be purchased individually to help meet the most pressing needs of a given business. Since all of HubSpot’s tools are integrated and compatible with one another, using it for cross-functional efficiencies can be highly beneficial for delivering a remarkable customer experience.
  • Built-in CRM system: HubSpot offers a built-in CRM system that is driven by a singular database that can be shared across various functions in a company. This makes for a seamless handoff of responsibilities across teams, and ensures that each team is empowered with up-to-date information on the customer and their position within a company’s funnel. Customer communications can also be organized and tracked, including past conversations, support tickets, deals, and more. Tasks can also be assigned to follow-up with a customer to further improve their experience.
  • Ideal for inbound marketing: The HubSpot marketing hub allows businesses to more effectively create meaningful relationships with their customers and prospects through valuable and meaningful content and experiences. HubSpot clearly identifies the phases within an inbound strategy as “attract, engage, and delight” and they have built their tools to support this approach. This model is intended to give brands the necessary momentum to drive referrals and repeat sales within their business.
  • A full suite of blogging tools: As fresh, traffic-driving content is important to attract and convert customers, one benefit of using HubSpot is its blog software. HubSpot offers a clean platform to draft and format blog posts and automatically optimizes them for mobile. It offers collaborative editing features to allow multiple team members to share feedback. HubSpot also boasts built-in SEO tools to deliver on-page SEO recommendations in order to improve the content for searchability. Users can set posts to publish in advance and even share blog posts directly to social media or dedicated email lists. It is also fairly easy to track the performance of each post with HubSpot’s analytics, which can help inform future content decisions.
  • Price flexibility: HubSpot provides limited free versions of each core segment (Marketing, CRM & Sales, Customer Service, CMS) of the platform. These free versions come with solid tools that help users get a feel for the HubSpot software before ever upgrading to the paid features. This also is not a free trial – the free features are totally free with no time limit restrictions. Beyond the free tools, HubSpot allows users to pay for “Starter,” “Professional,” or “Enterprise” Packages within each individual core segment, or a user can bundle each segment’s “Starter,” “Professional,” or “Enterprise” Packages together for a highly discounted price.
  • A/B testing: For Enterprise customers, HubSpot allows marketers to conduct A/B testing for their marketing efforts, including email campaigns, calls-to-action, and landing pages. By leveraging HubSpot’s analytics, marketers can assess which test performed better and optimize their communication approach accordingly.

Key Disadvantages of HubSpot

While HubSpot offers many marketing tools and resources to nurture leads and meet a wide range of business needs, there are some drawbacks worth considering.

  • Better for mid-size companies: Given the monthly cost of HubSpot as well as the need for sales and marketing teams with enough employee bandwidth to dig into the resources available within HubSpot’s single-system platform, HubSpot’s premium packages may be better suited for SMBs with higher revenues ($5M or more annual revenue) and more personnel resources. That being said, even the free resources and starter packages offer some notable value for smaller businesses.
  • There are better individual tools out there: Although HubSpot delivers a highly integrated and user-friendly marketing platform, alternative tools may be better at specific tasks. For instance, HubSpot offers landing pages within their marketing platform, but a service such as Leadpages may be a preferred resource for that individual tool. Depending on the needs of a business, opting for individual (separate) tools may be beneficial and potentially cheaper. However, this fragmented approach falls short of the collaboration and cross-functional visibility that HubSpot offers.


What Is Marketo?

Marketo delivers a software suite of tools that were designed by marketers for marketers. It helps businesses create, deploy, and automate marketing campaigns that capture and engage leads. It encompasses the use and management of email marketing, inbound marketing, event marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and more. Marketo also helps attract better leads, convert leads into customers, and determine if leads need to be nurtured more or if they are ready to be handed over to the sales team. Marketo also provides visibility across all marketing efforts to determine what is working well and what is not, including how campaigns have influenced deals at each stage during the customer journey.

Key Advantages of Marketo

  • Automation meets personalization: Lead nurturing (the process of developing relationships within each stage of a sales funnel) should be a key consideration of any marketing automation solution. Marketo excels with marketing automation, which works hand-in-hand with its lead management and content personalization system. In fact, marketing programs within Marketo can be set up to automatically deliver a personalized customer experience to each individual buyer. Through customer insights, content can be served with laser precision by leveraging the power of fit, intent, engagement, CRM activity, and offline data behind it. This allows Marketo to deliver dynamic content that nurtures leads automatically until they are ready to engage. All users have to do is drag content into their campaign’s stream within Marketo, and it takes care of delivering it to the right person at the right time based on their individual profile and actions that they take. It will even let the marketing team know where there is no additional content remaining in the sequence. Marketo also uses AI to learn, predict, and recommend the best content for each visitor or email recipient to ensure the highest chances of conversion.
  • Turning data into dollars: Through data-driven engagement, Marketo is an exceptional lead management tool. Marketo offers a holistic view of prospect, customer, and engagement data to establish an informed foundation to work from. By better understanding their customers and leveraging strategies such as A/B testing and segmentation, Marketo can help drive conversions and keep customers engaged. Even website experiences can be personalized with Marketo, and visitors can also be re-targeted across the web in order to stay top of mind when it comes to future purchase decisions.
  • Cleared for landing pages: Marketo gives users the ability to create customizable guided landing pages and lead generation form templates. They allow users to easily modify the appearance to align with their brand, and update the images and copy for whatever the campaign calls for. Portions of the guided landing page templates can be toggled on or off for even more flexibility within the editor. Additionally, tokens can be leveraged to add a layer of personalization to the landing page that is specific to the browsing customer.
  • Mobile Integrations: Marketo offers a mobile software development kit for both Android and iOS. This allows users to integrate their existing campaign journey, audience segmentation, and connected channels to trigger push notifications based on behavior, data, and location of customers. Additionally, Marketo has a full suite of automated text messaging capabilities that can be segmented for focused mobile marketing and sales efforts.
  • Detailed Analytics: Within Marketo’s suite of marketing software is Bizible — a robust marketing analytics platform. This allows clients to unify their marketing data automatically, measure the effectiveness of each point on the customer journey, and present campaign results using sharable pre-built dashboards or focusing on select groups of data if more focused information needs to be conveyed. Multi-touch revenue attribution is also part of the Marketo analytics software, allowing businesses to optimize their sequences and invest in the areas that have been proven to drive the highest ROI.

Key Disadvantages of Marketo

  • Not recommended as a CRM: Marketo offers CRM integration using the Salesforce platform or Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This means that additional costs may be associated with getting all of the necessary features out of Marketo, and businesses should be aware that Marketo is not a standalone CRM solution prior to purchasing. Still, once the data has been integrated, Marketo will sync both lead and account-level CRM data which users can leverage across all of Marketo.
  • Significant learning curve: As a robust marketing automation platform, Marketo’s learning curve is rather steep. Depending on a business’ needs with the software, it is possible that they may require a dedicated IT member or a specialist to manage the initial integration and onboarding process. This can lead to more significant costs beyond the price of Marketo itself.
  • Pricing: There is some ambiguity around Marketo pricing, as they do not publicly share their rates and instead require you to contact sales for more information. They do, however, scale their pricing based on the plan and number of leads on the account – so the larger the operation the higher the cost. Because of this Marketo may not be an affordable option for some.
  • Dated interface: Marketo is powerful and effective, but many feel as though the software is not aesthetically pleasing. Its design also makes it somewhat difficult to navigate if the user is not already familiar with the platform. While this will not be a deal-breaker for most, it is worth mentioning as a common complaint of Marketo.

Marketo vs. HubSpot: Which Is the Better Fit for Your Business?

Choose HubSpot If:

…your business requires a comprehensive marketing tool that is easy to use and includes a built-in CRM. HubSpot is the better option for those focusing on inbound marketing, as well as smaller businesses that can use HubSpot’s smaller packages with flexible pricing options. HubSpot also helps companies refine their content strategy, and is ideal for businesses that need marketing automation software that encourages cross-team collaboration. It is a great option for those who may be less tech-savvy, as they have a dedicated support team who is available to help resolve issues as they come up.

Choose Marketo If:

…your business already has a Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration. Marketo is an excellent marketing automation platform for B2B businesses, especially for account-based marketing, content personalization, and email marketing.  Marketo is a great option for clearly identifying prospects and converting them into customers. Large companies with internal IT teams are be good fits for using Marketo.

sales marketing alignment

Sales Enablement: Turning Leads Into Customers

July 13th, 2020 Posted by Growth Marketing, Sales Enablement 0 comments on “Sales Enablement: Turning Leads Into Customers”

What Is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is the combination of technology, processes, people, and content designed to help sales teams sell more effectively and boost conversions. It aims to ensure that your sales team has the strategic resources and information they need to thrive. Although each business has a unique approach, sales enablement should help improve key sales activities such as finding the right prospects, making sales calls, pitching your product, converting sales, and managing accounts.

Removing Barriers

The responsibility for sales enablement traditionally sits within the sales and marketing teams in an organization. By removing the barriers between sales and marketing, insights and data can be shared freely and a more collaborative relationship can take place. Sales enablement is intended to improve the content process and unify the organization’s teams that influence purchase decisions. When these different functions are working together seamlessly, the sales team is empowered to promote knowledge-based sales interactions with leads and potential customers – and ultimately generate more revenue.

Why Is Sales Enablement Important?

Sales enablement can make a meaningful impact on the growth of a company by equipping all members of sales with the information, sales training, and resources to excel at their job. It can highly improve the onboarding process for sales managers and establishes a system for helping them achieve consistent and scalable results in a way that is repeatable as more sales staff is needed. The knowledge is shared throughout the teams, and it is a best practice to have the most effective sales managers serve as leaders or teachers for navigating the sales enablement program. The hope is that this process will lead sales teams away from having a select few overachievers, and instead empower the whole group with the tools they need to effectively do their job.

Where Does Sales Enablement Fall in the Marketing Funnel?

Sales enablement comes to life through the creation and distribution of content, however not all content is intended for the same purpose.

Take general content marketing for instance. Most content in this space focuses on sharing information and educating an audience while establishing your business as an authority in the space. This content is relevant to what your customers are looking for and it often helps answer their questions. A primary differentiator for content marketing is that it is not intended to be a direct-selling mechanism. Instead, it is a way to engage your audience and give them a base-level of understanding prior to interacting with a salesperson. When considering the marketing funnel, content marketing lands primarily in the ‘attract’ phase but also contributes to the ‘convert’ phase.

Sales enablement content on the other hand is intended to provide sales reps with the right information and content that is relevant and helpful to the prospects and customers they are engaging with. With this in mind, sales enablement is most present in the marketing funnel during the ‘convert’ and ‘close’ phases.

If planned strategically, the materials that you create can establish a clear brand narrative for your audience and can work together as a prospect makes their way down the marketing funnel. Just be mindful of the intent of each piece in whether the content is serving the purpose of content marketing or sales enablement. Marketing and sales groups should be aligned on the editorial calendar, making it easy for members of the sales team to reference or leverage sales enablement content whenever it may be helpful in converting a prospect.

sales enablement

Examples of Sales Enablement Content

The content you create and distribute can be instrumental to the success of the sales enablement process. When presented to qualified prospects, the right content can be a significant factor in closing the deal. This information should resonate with your leads and help build their trust, confidence, and connection to your business. Here are some examples of content types that help to enable sales:

  • Persona Documents: By creating documents that outline who your typical customers are, your salespeople will have a playbook of sorts to help convert sales within defined audiences. For each persona, you can provide their motivations for purchase, needs, and specific pain points along with any basic information that provides context on who they are and things to keep in mind during the sales process. This deeper understanding of each audience group will help your sales team relate more effectively and tailor their sales messaging in a way that truly resonates.
  • Product Training Documents: It is important that your salespeople know your product or service intricately and the importance of all of its key features. Any lack of competency in product knowledge could be the downfall of a sales opportunity. By providing sales training in a way that turns your salespeople into masters of the product, they will be able to sell with no hesitation and understand what the key questions they should be asking to find a client’s pain points and help address them.
  • eBooks and Whitepapers: While we often see instances of eBooks and whitepapers being used as lead magnets to capture email addresses, they can also be valuable sales enablement materials. Know your audience, and craft these documents in a way that provides valuable information and solutions to issues that ideal customers may be facing. These can be given directly to qualified leads or used as a refresher for members of the sales team.
  • Blog Posts: By taking a more informative approach to some blog posts (much like the previously mentioned whitepapers), they can be utilized in the ‘convert’ stage of your sales funnel. This is another example of a valuable reference point that can align sales and marketing teams and unify messaging in the sales process.
  • Sales Scripts: Think of a sales script as a set of talking points. These should include both the messaging you want to lead with and responses to common questions or concerns that a customer may have. These scripts should be consistent with information in your marketing material but can include additional persuasive data (such as statistics and figures) that can be used when closing a sale. Since effective sales efforts can be heavily influenced by trust and relationship, it is important that these scripts are not read verbatim but are used as a general guide instead. Scripts can also be aligned with key points within the sales cycle for even more relevancy.
  • One-Pagers: One-pagers can be particularly useful if there is an aspect of your product or service that can be difficult to understand. One-pagers aim to simplify and clearly demonstrate the benefits of your product or service, turning uncertainty into confidence to help assist a prospect in the decision-making process.
  • Social Media Content: Social media can help contextualize your brand, but also be a valuable touch-point with your leads and current customers. Sales enablement content can be shared (or linked to) on social media, and can also be used by salespeople to inform prospects on specific news and discussion points. The sales team also can monitor the engagement and reactions on any given social media post to determine how well the information is being received and what is driving notable engagement.
  • Competitor Research: Marketing teams will often conduct industry research on their competitors to have a better understanding of the market and where their brand stands within it. This can be extremely beneficial because it clarifies points of differentiation and can even help define your target customer. By having a grasp of where the business clearly outperforms the competition, the sales team can double-down on those points to help convert interested prospects into customers.

Whenever possible, and depending on the nature of the materials being created, these pieces of sales enablement content should be easily accessible for the sales team. If you do not opt for a complete sales enablement tool, consider a cloud-based storage option such as Dropbox or Google Drive with clearly market folders so no matter where your salesperson is they can always access the resources that they need.

sales marketing collaboration

Knowing When It Is Time for a Sales Enablement Strategy

If your business is struggling to meet the financial goals and expectations they have set for themselves, it is likely that developing a sales enablement strategy is necessary. Teams need a viable foundation of information, sales training, best practices, and structure to truly succeed – and sales enablement is a good mechanism to foster that and guide your organization through each sales cycle.

Some common issues that could be hindering your company’s sales and could benefit from sales enablement are:

  • Onboarding Inefficiency: If your organization has an inefficient onboarding process for its sales team, or doesn’t have an onboarding process at all, it is likely that this is affecting your bottom line and growth trajectory.
  • Low Sales Productivity: If your sales reps are being asked to do too many non-sales related tasks or if they are focusing on the wrong audiences, they will be unable to meet their sales expectations.
  • Unorganized, Unhelpful, or Non-existent Sales Content: As we mentioned before a good mix of content marketing and sales enablement content is incredibly helpful to generate leads through brand awareness and ultimately assist with sales conversions. If your business’ content is difficult to access or if you are not creating the right kind of content that will help in sales situations then your salespeople are under-equipped to do their job.

In each of these cases, a sales enablement strategy could help tremendously. By streamlining content that can be leveraged for both specific (like onboarding or audience messaging) and general (key talking points, product benefits, etc.) instances, your sales process will be subject to much less guesswork and inconsistency.

Key Elements of a Sales Enablement Strategy

Having a strategy behind your sales enablement program will ensure that the right type of processes and content will be created. This will make sure that the sales and marketing teams have everything they need to succeed and they are both working from the same set of information and best practices.

  • Assess the Situation: Take time to get a clear understanding of how your company will be able to benefit from a sales enablement strategy by asking yourself some key questions:
    • Are sales and marketing working collaboratively or are they mostly siloed?
    • Does the current content serve the needs of both sales and marketing?
    • Are sales reps efficiently and effectively trained? Do they have a mastery of the product or service?
    • Are sales materials current or outdated?
    • Are salespeople modifying the content they do have?
    • Is there a shared location where all content can be found?
  • Make a Business Case: You may need to pitch the creation of a sales enablement program to your higher-ups. Demonstrate the problems you are presented with and how sales enablement will directly address those identified issues. Show how an investment in sales enablement now is an investment toward streamlined processes, efficiency, and growth in the future. Of course, make sure your business case is tied to metrics and goals that are realistic and attainable along with providing accountability for the project.
  • Clarify Your Personas: Before diving into the sales enablement process fully, you will want to be aligned and in agreement with who your target customers are. It is crucial that both marketing and sales are collaborators in determining this. By clearly defining what types of customers you are creating, the marketing team will be able to create focused and compelling content that addresses the precise solutions those audiences are looking for.
  • Determine Content Status: Take a look at what kind of digital content your company already has at its disposal. Consider the website, blog, social media, sales training documents, case studies, and anything else that may be useful for sales reps. Assess how recent and viable sales content is in relation to where you are at as a company. If your materials are lacking, it is time to start mapping out a plan for sales enablement content starting with content areas that are clearly lacking. Aligning your content against the specific segments of the marketing funnel can also be an effective way to ensure you are serving potential customers at all points of the funnel.
  • Organize Your Content: Sales enablement content should be stored in an easily accessible, cloud-based solution that is shared amongst both the marketing and sales teams. These materials need to be neatly organized and easy to navigate so sales managers are able to quickly find relevant information that will serve their own education or the unique needs of their customers. Have your sales enablement team determine the most convenient storage platform for the way they work. It is a good idea to have a point person to oversee the maintenance and organization of this content storage so it remains consistent and easy to use.
  • Sales Enablement Reporting and Analytics: Analytics and data will give you a chance to see what materials are being used the most and what is driving the most engagement. If transactions can be tied to pieces of sales content, that is even more valuable. The important thing here is to see what is working well and what may need to be improved.

What Are Some Sales Enablement Tools?

When it comes to sales enablement tools, there are a wide variety to choose from. It is important to find a tool that meets your organization’s most pressing needs when it comes to sales training, sales asset management, and sales engagement. Perhaps the most important thing a sales enablement tool should do is allow your sales and marketing teams to work seamlessly together and boost their efficiency. Below are a few sales enablement platforms to consider:

  • HubSpot: HubSpot CRM automates standard sales tasks that tend to distract sales reps. The platform supports sales, marketing, and service in one clean, easy-to-use interface, helping break down the barriers between sales and marketing teams.
  • Salesforce: Perhaps one of the most robust CRM offerings on the market, Salesforce is an complex cloud-based customer relationship management solution built to increase efficiency and give customers a seamless and personalized sales journey.
  • Pipedrive: Pipedrive is a powerful CRM tool that helps you visualize current leads, their status, and the associated activities (such as upcoming calls) that are scheduled with any given lead. While this is a great resource for your sales enablement team to manage their deals and track communications, there is less focus on cross-functional collaboration and content management with this tool.
  • Membrain: Geared toward B2B sales, Membrain defines themselves as a sales enablement CRM that can replace or complement your existing CRM. It aims to make it easy to execute on your sales strategy with a flexible CRM database and prospecting engagement playbooks, and equips managers to coach their sales reps to higher performance levels. It also includes content management features, sales analytics and automated reporting, and more.

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Sales enablement holds tremendous power to change the trajectory of growth for your organization over time, and redefine best practices within your company. It challenges traditional organizational structures in favor of collaborative, information-driven environments that change the way you approach your business in a fundamental way. When teams operate in silos, risks of inconsistency and inefficiency will always be present. Sales enablement and the combined forces of marketing and sales can have a huge impact on an organization’s ability to attract and convert leads into customers in a profound way.

writing process

Content Marketing Fundamentals: Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters

June 13th, 2020 Posted by Growth Marketing 0 comments on “Content Marketing Fundamentals: Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters”

As search engine algorithms shift and the effectiveness of time-tested SEO tactics changes, it is important to evolve your approach to content marketing. Among these shifts is a growing trend of search queries being lengthier, more question-oriented (“Hey Google”), and more conversational. This helps the person searching for content gather more precise results, and also helps search engines improve and learn to serve up the best possible information. 

content marketing

From a content creation standpoint, we need to acknowledge these consumer behaviors and organize our content in a way that makes sense to search engines in the midst of a cluttered content environment. A great place to start is to organize content on your website with a pillar page and topic cluster approach, shifting your content strategy from a focus on keywords to a focus on topics instead. This method is intended to improve your site architecture, improve the ability of search engines to find your related content, and should ultimately help your content rank higher in the search engine results. 

What Is a Pillar Page?

A pillar page is a connective hub for detailed content regarding a key topic on your website. This is a one-stop-shop page for anyone interested in learning more about your chosen subject. Your pillar page should be a long-form, broad overview covering all aspects of a singular topic on a single page (and yes, this is a pillar page about pillar pages).

Within the pillar page, visitors can find key information and immediate answers to questions they may have, but also find internal links that allow them to deep dive into ideas related to the pillar’s primary topic. As related content is published on your site, additions should be made to the pillar page to include a link out to the new article – which also links back to the pillar page. This coupling of links to each destination creates a defined relationship between the two. 

While the content on pillar pages have breadth, they should not overlap too much with more specific blog posts and materials in the form of cluster content (which we will get to shortly). The pillar page topic needs to be narrow enough that a comprehensive overview can be reasonably contained within a pillar page. On the flip side, the topic needs to be broad enough to have the potential for many additional articles on sub-topics (or keywords related to the pillar topic) to be written. For instance “advertising” as a topic is likely too broad, but notching down to something a bit more contained such as “Facebook advertising” could be more focused while still providing space to contribute more nuanced content around it.

Pillar pages can be leveraged as an essential resource for visitors interested in a specific topic in ways that standard blog posts are typically unable to achieve. Keep in mind that it is also possible to have multiple pillar pages on your website that support various topics related to your business.

What Is a 10x Content Pillar Page?

When you hear “10x content pillar page” the same principles outlined above still apply. However, with 10x, you are setting forth with the intent that your page is 10 times better than any other publicly available resource on the topic. This is not only in the information presented (although this is the most important part), but also in the creativity, user experience, and unique approach. If you aim to be the definitive online resource for a given topic, this is a great way to approach it.

What Are Topic Clusters?

The aforementioned related content that we have talked about are referred to as topic clusters. These provide contextual support for the general content provided in a pillar page. For instance if “Facebook advertising” is the pillar page we are working with, the topic cluster would be the collection of materials that provide more comprehensive detail on sub-topics related to Facebook advertising. For example, you may have articles such as ‘copywriting for Facebook ads’, ‘Lead generation through Facebook ads’, ‘A/B testing for Facebook ads’, and more that would all be associated (and linked to) the primary pillar page.  

Cluster content commonly comes in the form of blog posts, but it can be any material that supports the ideas present on the pillar page. This could include video, audio recordings, infographics, downloadable PDFs, quizzes, and more. 

There is a difference between the purpose of these different content types that marketers need to be aware of: while the pillar and cluster content strategy is written for the purposes of SEO, more “down-funnel” assets such as whitepapers or industry studies are used as sales enablement assets. Learn more about sales enablement strategy here!

A well-implemented topic cluster should demonstrate to search engines that the content you are presenting is interconnected and complementary to your pillar content. This will help to establish your website as an authority and a thought leader on the selected topic, and ultimately rank higher in search. 

writing process

How Do You Write a Pillar Page?

While there are many ways to go about constructing your pillar page, there are a few fundamental aspects to keep in mind as you set up this new infrastructure.

Determine your topic(s)

First, you need to know what primary topic you want to cover within your pillar page. This topic should be something that is inextricably tied to your business, a product you offer, or a service you provide. By focusing in on an area of expertise you will be able to convey your authority on the subject and hopefully generate more business related to the topic. The more value you are able to provide within the pillar page and topic clusters, the stronger the association of your business and this topic will be. 

Content roadmap

Now you can begin mapping out the framework of the pillar page and associated cluster content. We would recommend a phased approach where you build out the essential pillar page content first, and then gradually add on to it with content that continues to support the topic. 

Start by outlining the primary topics that you would like to have featured on your pillar page from the start, as this will be the foundational information for you to build off of. If you already have an active blog, determine what content you already have that applies to your foundational pillar page. From here, you will be able to assess what content needs to be created or modified to support the present themes on your foundational pillar page.

To ensure you are maximizing the effectiveness of your pillar pages, it is important to plan beyond your foundational content. Brainstorm additional cluster content ideas that will add more substance to your pillar page. Although the focus here is in creating robust content to support your pillar page, it is still useful to tap into keyword research to help map out cluster content ideas. A great place to start with this is Hubspot’s SEO Tool, which not only will help you optimize your content but it will also provide recommendations for related topics based on relevance, competition, and popularity. 

It is also helpful to consider the frequent questions an audience might have on any given topic. Taking a thoughtful approach to your topic clusters allows you to strategically create searchable content that delivers on your audience’s needs.

Develop content

Once you have decided on your foundational pillar page topics and have established a plan for future materials or blog content to continue to support the topic, it is time to get to work. Begin constructing your pillar page with general and brief (but helpful) overviews on each topic within the page. Now is also the time to create blog posts as needed for the foundational pillar post, and start creating additional articles to publish on a regular basis moving forward.

As you are building out your pillar pages, remember to also add in compelling imagery, videos, or infographics that support the ideas you are trying to convey. Given that pillar pages can grow to be fairly large, breaking up the copy with visuals makes it feel less daunting for the reader.

Link together

Thankfully, one of the most important parts of this strategy is also the easiest. Make sure that all topics covered in your pillar pages link to a related blog post or material with more information. This blog post should also have a link directing back to the pillar page. This internal linking benefits your SEO and gives your website a structural flow which makes the discovery of more content that much easier for your audience.

Measure your results

Analytics and data are your friends when it comes to optimizing your pillar posts and cluster content. Google Analytics and Hubspot are both great resources for obtaining helpful information with which to take action, including which of your pieces are directly influencing new revenue. Seeing which pages are underproducing when it comes to click-throughs or time on site may help indicate what sections need to be improved moving forward.

Get Started!

Pillar pages and topic clusters offer an innovative way to go about structuring, organizing, and creating content. This approach presents the opportunity to build authority and influence your audience and customers while presenting information in a way that search engines can process effectively. We believe this content strategy is a win for your audience, your SEO, and your business. 

Now is the time to get to work. If you need any guidance on setting up or implementing pillar pages and cluster content for your business, we would love to hear from you!

Data Differentiation: Standing Out

February 24th, 2020 Posted by Growth Marketing 0 comments on “Data Differentiation: Standing Out”

 What is Data Differentiation?

Data differentiation means understanding your data at a level of detail that enables you to find and target your audience effectively throughout the sales and marketing funnel.  

Why is that important? Well, I believe good data equals good marketing. 

I also believe that there is an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to think more critically about both the quality and utilization strategies of the data sets at their disposal so that they can run more effective campaigns. 

Couple caveats before we really get started:
I am not a data scientist – even if I did dress like one when I was 9 – and I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about the still inexact science of marketing.  

I should also acknowledge that data collection and segmentation certainly isn’t the only piece of the growth marketing puzzle – you still need creativity and great content, solid ad copy, engaging website copy, and a strategy for putting it all together. 

But for me as a digital marketer and agency owner, the content is the gas, and I believe having actionable data about your target audience is the foundational element of marketing success; it is the engine that drives the car.

It’s also important because in this industry there are so many businesses taking data for granted or underutilizing what they have: 

  • Large businesses with huge data sets doing nothing with them 
  • Small businesses with just a few data points, struggling to connect the dots in small sample sets.

Basically, there is a gap between the collection of data and the effective utilization of it to drive marketing excellence, and in turn, profit.  

In this post, I would like to provide some insight into why I think that happens, and some strategies that any size business can use to address it. 

The Problems

Before we can talk solutions, we need to acknowledge the problems, and there are many.  

The Touchpoints Are Saturated

First, while data feels ubiquitous, it is not. Small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, have a select few options at their disposal – Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. I can count on 1.5 hands the number of platforms available to advertise on and collect data from and to target consumers with. These are all the touchpoints!

And as we are all very well aware, they are saturated with advertising.

Everyone Has the Same Access

Having a limited number of touchpoints also means we all have the same access to the same data sets: I remember when I first opened up the Facebook ads platform it felt like a treasure trove. I was astounded by the possibilities (interest targeting overlayed with demographic targeting overlayed with site behaviors? Gold mine!), figured I had pretty much solved this marketing thing, and was all ready to show off my shiny new toy.  

Fast forward a few years and, spoiler alert, Facebook targeting didn’t solve marketing. Because no matter how many different interest targets or demographic options there were, it was still just limited to people on Facebook. 

Additionally, and more importantly, everyone else had the same new toy – your competitors also have a Facebook page, and they all have the same access to the same data sets.

What has ended up happening is businesses scrambling to advertise on this narrow platform using all the same data sets provided by the platform – essentially just testing the same data sets against each other, over and over. And when one company owns both the data and the platform, who wins (hint: it’s not consumers and its not the advertisers and marketers)?

This leads us to the next problem, which is that unfortunately….

You Have No Choice

Marketing is omni-channel because people are on these platforms – this is where the party is happening. Not only that, they expect personalized connection at each touchpoint; showing up is not optional, AND you have to show up in all the right ways. On Facebook and Instagram, that means posting to your stories, giving context to each image, etc. On Google, it means writing optimized content that is shareable, links out easily, and is optimized for thousands of unknowable ranking factors. And so on.

The Data Sets Are Not Even Yours

The data on these platforms is served to you in easy to use buckets so everyone feels great about using it (flashback to me overly excited at discovering my new toy), but ultimately you don’t know how good it is or where it came from, and sometimes neither does the platform (see Cambridge Analytica). But as marketers, we trust the data to be good and viable.  

Which is crazy because, as an example, only about 28% of Americans trust Facebook with their data:

And if you thought there would be some sort of correlation between that trust Facebook’s ad revenue, think again: 

Facebook is happy to let you duke it out on their platform over the same limited space and targeting capabilities.

So, on the one hand, we have the consumers,  who don’t trust these platforms with our own data, and on the other we have marketers use the same data as gospel and throw hoards of money at Facebook’s platform, based on trust in their data. 

Why are advertisers spending more on ads if the majority of Americans don’t trust them with their data? Seems like a bit of a disconnect, right? 

Facebook is an admittedly easy target, but it’s not just them; Google also has sizable control of search data, and sometimes they even compete against you with your own content:

Have you done a Google search for lyrics to a song recently? This is what you get, more often than not:


Let’s take a minute to acknowledge why this is a problem. Google, a company that has long incentivized websites to allow them to crawl their pages for use in their search engine by paying out for ad space, has now become so powerful that they are simply scraping that data and serving the info directly in search results. Lyricfind, in this case, not only doesn’t get a click, but they also are missing out on ad revenue that they would get if people clicked through to the site and served an ad impression. 

But I digress…

Really what this all boils down to is this:

Digital marketing today consists of a few monopolies that mostly control both the data and the platforms. 

As an advertiser/marketer you really only have three options:

  1. Accept the status quo, be lazy and keep using the same tired data sets that everyone has
  2. Take your ball and go home 
  3. Use the third-party platforms as a starting point for building your own ecosystem of first-party data

Since I hate lazy people and I’m not about to quit on my clients, I am choosing option three. Here is why you should too.

The Solution(s) 

Gather First-Party Data

Gathering first-party data to build audiences around is the only way to truly serve personalized, contextual content that differentiates you from everyone else. 

Gathering first-party data to build audiences around is the only way to truly serve personalized, contextual content and advertising that differentiates you from everyone else. 

Marketers and business owners need to stop being so reliant on these few platforms and start building their own ecosystems of their own data that they trust. 

Segment Your First-Party Data Into Usable Lists

Then, segment segment segment. Create lists for all the actions taken on your site with your content by your leads and prospects: website interactions, email interactions, content interactions at various stages of the buying cycle, etc. 

For example – let’s say you sell retreat packages, and you are a little light on attendees for an upcoming Budapest trip. You want to see people that have not yet booked with you in 2020, who are from California, and have visited one of your pages on Budapest – you can segment all of these contacts to create a very targeted list. From here you can either email them, engage with them directly using a local ad strategy, or you can combine that with the data provided from the aforementioned platforms.

Customize Third Party Targeting Using Segmented First-Party Data

Remember you don’t really have a choice – you have to be there. So you may as well be there with as targeted of a list as possible. And just because the data platforms are saturated doesn’t necessarily mean they are worthless, they just need some customization, layering on your own information. 

In order to accomplish this, you need tools to collect and segment your first-party data.

Tools You Need: CRM

To start at the very beginning, you need a website with analytics. That is 1A. 1B is a CRM. Each of these platforms has their own pros and cons, and I won’t get too far into it for now. Just know that choosing the right CRM really depends on your budget and your integration needs, but there are a few key points to consider: price, integration, and internal resources.

These are not simple CRMs – with the right set up, these are marketing automation platforms that can use email data, IPs and site tracking cookies to give you individual, personalized information about your customers. You can then group this information together into segments and hit them with content and ad copy at every stage of the buying cycle.

Enterprise Advantage

Larger companies that have huge data sets have an advantage in CRM segmentation for a few reasons, but mostly because larger first-party data sets generally means more accuracy when translating to third party platforms. Their segmented lists are large enough that they can be uploaded directly into third-party platforms like Facebook, Google, or a Demand Side Advertising platform to create absolute audiences of those exact people. Smaller data sets won’t work for that, because the audience has to be large enough to feel anonymized; I can’t upload a list of 30 people and expect to get a full match rate, and also the platforms don’t like it when the ads get too personal).

Secondly, larger businesses typically have other means by which they can acquire data – they can get wider distribution through Demand Side Platforms, they can buy lists that more perfectly match their existing segmented lists.  

The disadvantages for larger companies are that large data sets can be pretty unwieldy – they require (actual) data scientists and specialists to parse through all the different interactions and create workable automation for outreach and targeting.  

Tools You Need: DSPs

Demand-side platforms (DSPs) are advertising platforms that allow advertisers to buy into programmatic advertising. They have similar internal data sets for targeting (demographics, interest targeting, purchase intent, etc.), but once again the true power of using these platforms is when you can combine the basic targeting capabilities with first-party data;  cookie data, CRM data, purchase data, etc) 

Like any other platform, the effectiveness of the targeting depends mostly on how deep your first-party data is data goes and how well integrated it is together. The better the data, the more granular you will be able to get and the more relevant your ads will be to the target audience.  

Of all of these – we probably use Criteo DoubleClick, and the Trade Desk most often. These are definitely on the enterprise side of our solutions, mostly because of the traffic and spend minimums required to participate (The Trade Desk, for example, has a $20k min monthly spend qualification). 

SMB Solutions

Smaller businesses don’t have the advantage of using huge data sets, and they simply don’t have a large enough audience to do any meaningful third party layering. For example, a business that only gets a few conversions can’t build a meaningful list for these kinds of mass targeting strategies. They can’t just upload their list of 30 or even 300 people to Facebook or Google or a DSP and then target those people – its too small of an audience and, as we mentioned, won’t be able to match enough profiles for it to be viable.

So, they have to be a little more creative, but they can still use this powerful combination of first and third-party data to differentiate their targeting. 

Lookalike Audiences

Create lookalike audiences by uploading your segmented email lists to third-party platforms like FB – this involves taking a list and uploading it to FB, then FB matches those emails to profiles and creates a list of people that look like those people. You can then target these “lookalike” people with curated messaging based on the list segment. Were they interested in a certain product or service offering? Build a lookalike audience of those people, then refine it through third-party data like interests or demographics. 


Site visitors can get cookied and then retargeted through any number of advertising platforms, including Google, AdRoll, Criteo, Bing, Facebook, etc. Savvy advertisers will retarget at the page or product level and keep an eye on frequency metrics to avoid feeling too intrusive or creepy. 

Share Pixels

Small businesses struggling to get enough traffic to build first-party data sets for retargeting can share pixels with collaborative businesses that share similar audience targets. This will allow you to grow your list faster with psuedo-first-party IP data. 

Also, small businesses should take advantage of the fact that they have fewer contacts by working to make those contacts that much more meaningful. They can:

Use Chat

For smaller businesses that may not have the means to use a full CRM, using a chat function on their site to engage one-on-one and collect user-level data for future engagement can make a difference in creating a valuable connection. 

Warning: Installing a chatbot on your website is simple. Building a process around responding to chat requests in a way that leaves customers feeling supported and heard is an entirely different thing. 

Some of the leading chat technology out there is Mobile Monkey, a chatbot specifically for Facebook Messenger, Drift, a chatbot that integrates with many CRMs and has powerful automation tools, and even Hubspot has its own native chat that integrates directly with Hubspot workflows. 

Obtain Call Data

Phone-based businesses can get in on the data collection game by installing simple scripts onto their site that dynamically swap out the phone number that appears on the site based on the source of the traffic. Then business owners can pull reports for each phone source to determine the effectiveness of a given channel or campaign. 


There are a lot of ways to reach your customers. Unfortunately, they all tend to hang out in the same places. Creating unique data sets to target them where they are will help you stand out in a saturated and monopolistic environment. 

Healthcare Services Growth Marketing

Why Growth Marketing Is Perfect for Healthcare Services Companies

May 6th, 2019 Posted by Growth Marketing, Healthcare 0 comments on “Why Growth Marketing Is Perfect for Healthcare Services Companies”

Healthcare Marketing and Inbound Growth Strategy: The Perfect Pairing

Over the past 5-10 years, business has undergone a philosophical and technological shift in marketing strategy. The philosophical changes came by way of a change in consumer buying habits, which forced a rethink of traditional marketing models; namely, the shift from the product-centered sales and marketing funnel to the customer-centered marketing flywheel.

The second big change was technological. Sophisticated marketing automation tools have become more prevalent, enabling savvy businesses to respond to this increased complexity in the buying cycle, and conduct more individualized and personalized marketing.

Most businesses have been slow to adapt — and for a variety of reasons. But healthcare marketing departments are not as shaken as the rest because they already understand what many businesses are still learning: the value of a customer-centered approach.

Healthcare services companies have known for quite some time that the customer journey does not begin or end with an office visit, and that the patient journey is not nearly as cut and dry as it may be for an e-commerce company or retailer. They understand the importance of consistent communication long past discharge, and the value of patient-centered business operations, which makes them uniquely prepared for this brave new world.

Change is hard, but it is much easier to change a process or upgrade a tool than it is to change a culture or philosophy. While some healthcare marketing departments may lag behind on the technological side, they are leading the pack in philosophical approach, making them much more prepared to adopt industry leading applications and strategies.

Philosophical Change: Funnel to Flywheel

For many years, businesses used the marketing funnel — a methodical, plodding process of moving customers through a predetermined set of steps to encourage an outcome at the “end” — to convert prospects into customers. Then came social media, influencers, online reviews, and content platforms, which transformed the traditional customer journey into a complex series of touch points and seemingly endless feedback.

Thanks to these changes in customer expectations and buying habits, the funnel is no longer a sufficient model. Now, consumers expect personalized messaging and a dynamic, customized experience, which requires nuanced messaging and robust strategy.

The funnel has been replaced by the flywheel, where there is no “end” to the process of customer acquisition, engagement, and retention. The product or service is no longer at the center. Instead, the cycle is ongoing, with the customer placed at the center of all marketing, sales, and service operations.

Content, and the importance of developing customized “smart” content to engage with customers at any phase of the buyer journey, plays a large role in the transition from the old model to the new.

In the traditional funnel model, content marketing is treated almost exclusively as a tool for attracting customers; in the flywheel model, content is a tool that can reach people at any stage in the process. The role of sales and marketing shifts from “funneling customers toward a goal” to providing a holistic experience throughout the engagement, greasing the flywheel in the form of smart, relevant content and valuable engagement opportunities.

Examples of Content During Phases of the Patient Journey

Patient-Centric Flywheel

Attract Phase (Discovery)

Educational content, brand awareness.

  • Blog Posts
  • Webinars
  • Newsletters

Engage Phase (Consideration)

  • Case Studies
  • Demo Videos
  • Service Descriptions

Delight Phase (Retention)

  • Customer Support Documentation
  • Email Outreach
  • Insider Content

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is simply the application of the flywheel concept to your business strategy. Rather than traditional sales and marketing funnels where prospects are fed a series of offers, the patient is at the center of the spinning flywheel. Sales, marketing, and service arms all work together to identify and eliminate friction in the total patient experience. The point is to keep the flywheel spinning as smoothly as possible, around the patient, at all times.

Technical Challenges

The best healthcare companies are hyper focused on the patient; there is no shortcutting the patient experience. With new technology coming along every day, the pace of adaptation is often slow, as ingrained systems and regulatory compliance restrict unbridled growth.

But adapt they must, as failure to do so causes friction in the flywheel, and no matter how philosophically aligned your company, the friction creates patient experiences that are less than optimal.

Examples of Flywheel Friction

  • Prospective patient searches for clinics in their area, calls a number, and gets a national line instead of their local office
  • Prospective patient books an appointment or submits a HIPAA-compliant form but, upon arrival at the clinic, is made to provide the same information over again
  • Prospective patient searches for information online and sees interesting content, only to be redirected to a homepage or provided with no extra information
  • Prospective patient engages with site content, but is not provided with additional content suggestions
  • Prospective patient submits a form for more information on a specific topic but is then sent generic information unspecific to the information requested

Here is where the dual forces of philosophy and technology blur together:

Marketing departments may well understand the need to provide a patient-centered experience, but also may not realize that the very tools they are providing to deliver this patient experience are confusing, clunky, or even broken. Today’s patient wants to feel cared for both online and offline, and without a healthy balance of both, we abandon our overall commitment to them.

Applying Growth Marketing to Healthcare Services

Creating personalized, genuine experiences for customers at every phase may seem to fly in the face of privacy and HIPAA compliance, but this could not be further from the truth. It does not take a special set of tools to make people feel great about visiting your clinic, but simply utilizing these tools with the same level of care and compassion that is demonstrated by the caregivers within it. Consumers and patients alike expect a certain level of communication and follow-up, and everything from HIPAA-compliant forms to double opt-in emails ensure communication is delivered effectively and responsibly.

Growth marketing encompasses more than just marketing. It is a belief system that all things marketing, sales, and service are intertwined and should support each other, with the patient at the center not noticing the transition from one to the other. It is a seamless, customer-centric marketing philosophy, which makes it a perfect fit for companies providing healthcare services. Often, the only thing missing is the technical piece, which is much more easily remedied than changing a culture. Partnering with a talented growth agency can get your clinic on the path to a successful, scalable, and profitable future.