Your marketing isn’t working: The red flags you shouldn’t ignore – Part 1: Episode 18

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We often talk to marketing leaders who are struggling to figure out why their marketing efforts are not driving results. Sometimes, the reason is more obvious to our team looking in from the outside than it is to those on the inside busting their butts to move the needle.

In this episode of The Demand Gen Fix, we talk about some of the issues we often see – and what you can do to rethink your approach if any of these issues are plaguing your marketing efforts.

[00:04] Discussing common marketing challenges and the solutions for sustainable growth

[02:04] The Importance of building a strong digital footprint

[03:50] Strategies for building and expanding your Audience

[05:44] Key considerations for creating creating impactful content

[08:34] The pitfalls of gating content and the missed opportunities this creates

[15:51] The common mistake with digital advertising programs

[18:57] The importance of a holistic marketing approach to the buyer journey

The Demand Gen Fix is hosted by GrowthMode Marketing. Visit to learn more about us.


Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in HR tech industry.


Thanks for joining us today for the Demand Gen Fix. Deanna, Erica and I are happy to have you along as we dig into the age-old question. Why is all this marketing work I’m doing not driving results? Sometimes as a marketing team, looking at it from the outside view, we can see the problems more clearly than those that are on the inside working their butts off. We today are going to touch on some issues we often come across at GrowthMode Marketing, and we’ll help you rethink your approach if your company is dealing with these. The first one is one that we’ve talked about quite a bit on our podcast, and that is about your digital footprint. Sometimes your company’s digital footprint is just too small or you have the wrong kinds of content out there, so it’s ineffective.


This is a common one. We see this a lot, and I think part of the challenge is that many marketers don’t recognize it as a problem. They haven’t seen the statistics; they haven’t recognized yet that the way B2B buyers buy now is different and evolving more than it used to be. And a lot of the decision happens before a prospect is willing to talk to a sales rep. And so, they’re doing a lot of digging online to understand from all these different channels how your solution works, what the problems, they’re addressing the ways to deal with them and uncover it. Statistics from Gartner say up to 80% of that buying decision process is complete before a prospect talks to a salesperson. And so if your digital footprint is small and or ineffective, it’s not doing its job. You’ve got a problem and you really need to take a step back and look at what do we do to address that.


A lot of times companies just don’t have the time, or the resources put aside to build out their digital footprint. It’s an afterthought. They’re just really looking for results. They’re looking to go after their prospects, putting their sales team on it, and they don’t put those resources toward building that out. It’s the last thing on the list. And honestly, we say it has to be a priority. You have to make time for that. You have to put resources toward it and not just let it fall on, you know, by the wayside. It’s a really important thing in this day and age that you are out there on the internet where people can find you.


Absolutely. There are three avenues that you need to travel down to help prospects reach your growth destination. You’ve got to look at the website, that really is your digital footprint or your digital storefront, I should say. And if that’s not good, that’s one of the first places I think organizations need to invest. The reason being, if I’m coming to your website and I have questions, and I don’t want to talk to a salesperson quite yet, you want them to be able to get all the information that they need in order to, trust that your products and services solve the problems that they have and that they’re a good fit for your company. Second manage channels. That’s all about building your audience. You want to build an audience because you are going to constantly be feeding that demand generation engine with new content, and you want them to continually follow along and continually consume and engage with your content, because that helps build not only that brand awareness, but trust and ultimately an affinity for your brand. So when they are in market to buy, you make the short list. And then, of course, third party channels. And that’s all about tapping into existing relevant audiences so that you’re not just limited to the audience that you’ve built out, especially if you’re just starting out in this area and you don’t have a really big audience yet. How do you get your message out and get your brand out into the market by tapping into someone else’s audience?


To evaluate whether or not this is something that’s an issue for you or for your company. One simple way to start doing this and evaluating this issue is doing a Google search on your company. Start to dig around and search the way that you think your prospects would be searching online for these types. The solutions that you offer and see, search around your company and around those solutions and see what kind of information is coming up, what you can find on your brand, what does the volume look like? Is there a number of different pieces and types of content that someone can find easily that can drive them back to your website? What’s the quality of that content? Does it do that research and dig in as deep as they want to based on the content that they can find? And then, does the content that you’re finding when you do that search, attract the right ideal customer? Is that content they are speaking to your ideal customer profile?


I have one to add to that as well. And that is, how old is your content? If you do a Google search and everything that comes up is five years old, that’s not going to be a good look. People are going to say, you know, these guys are not on top of things, they’re not up on the latest and greatest. So you definitely need to make the sure that you’re updating your content constantly and not just how many companies are out there that you go to their website and you can just see that it’s an early two thousands website, and it has never been updated, and so you definitely need to keep things current.


Yeah, that’s a really good point. There is some content that stays relevant over time, but quite frankly, if I’m going to be your audience and I’m coming back, I need to see fresh content. Plus, from an SEO standpoint, it works in your favor from an SEO perspective, if you want to get pages ranked to continually be putting new content in there. And I think something to keep in mind that Erica kind of touched on is, making sure you have content that attracts the prospects that you want to attract. So we see this from time to time working with our clients and talking to companies out there, like they might have a really big content footprint, but the type of content you put out there determines who you attract. And if it’s not the right contact and you’re not attracting the right type of companies and individuals, i.e., the ones who can make the decision to buy from you, who are a good fit for your products and services, then you’ve totally missed the mark.


And you can have a big digital footprint, but it’s not the right digital footprint. And so that’s definitely a lens you need to put on to all of the content and the footprint that you have out there. And if you happen to be in a spot where it’s like, Ooh, the content we’ve been creating, it’s really good for this type of audience, but that’s not the buyer and that’s actually not who we need to be talking to. Change that and start to create the footprint that you need to have so that the shoe fits, to find the right Cinderella.


Another issue that we come across here at GrowthMode Marketing is we have clients that say that their gated content is not converting. We have said it again and again. We don’t think you should gate content, at least not until the very end of the process. And so that is something that we talk about a lot, and we do see that more and more often this day and age data content is not converting. People are not clicking through to fill out a form. People are just not enjoying sharing their personal information anymore. They don’t want to get all those cold calls, they don’t want to get a million emails and they want to get their information for free, basically. And you know, there’s really no reason not to give it to them so that they have your company’s name in their head, knowing that your company is a good resource for what they’re looking for.


Well, the issue you run into there is, what you’re trying to do is force someone into the bottom of the funnel. And these people are not in market to buy typically. If someone’s going to get to that gated piece of content and decide this isn’t worth my information, there might not be enough value here, why do I give them my information? You’re trying to get someone who’s not in market to buy, to basically convert on that form just to see that piece of content. And I think we run into that a lot. We spend all this time and effort building out, or the client does when building out these different pieces of content, and it is so valuable, this piece of content, there’s so much worth behind what that is.


That’s the client’s opinion. We don’t want to gate that and prevent somebody from seeing that information if that’s going to help them along their buying journey. And I think sometimes it’s a difficult conversation because there’s always people who think that it’s worth a form fill or that it’s going to generate a lead. But I think it’s really important to just think about the fact that, yeah, all this time and resource and effort is put into creating those pieces. Why prevent people from seeing it? If there’s proprietary information in there that you don’t want out there in public, then you shouldn’t be publishing that piece in general. So I think that’s something that I see and hear a lot in regards to gating content, which is exactly why we tell people not to, because you put all that time and effort and money into that piece, and you’re just not converting because it shouldn’t be gated. You want people to see that, you want to get that in front of them. You want that to be a piece that they can use to guide themself through the buying process until they’re ready to actually raise their hand.


There are other things you can do besides gating your content. You can purchase an email list if that’s what you’re looking for. You can track engagement activities via marketing automation. There’s all kinds of marketing automation programs out there that do a really good job at that. You can then continue to target them on retargeting ads. There’s all kinds of ways to get your customer’s information and your prospect’s information without making them fill out a form.


Yeah, you definitely need to think twice before getting content. And I think as marketers, we were trained, and it was a best practice. Once upon a time that you create a really good piece, you put it out there, you put that form in front of it, so we could capture that contact information and then continue to market that to that person to chase after that person. From a sales perspective, and knowing how people buy today and how people consume information and how they’re reacting to forms on content, it just doesn’t make sense anymore. We talk to companies, we run into all the time where they’re looking at it and they’re like, I have this really good research report that we had created. We thought it would be this amazing lead magnet. We put a gate on it, we have a landing page, we’re getting good traffic to the landing page.


I’ve heard sometimes 700 people go to the landing page, 1500 people go to the landing page, 2000 people go to the landing page and nobody’s filling out the form. I’ve actually had individuals call me more than once, and they’re like, Deanna, do you think my form in HubSpot is broken because I’m seeing all these visitors to my page, but none of them are turning into leads for us. And we’ll go into the system, and we’ll look at it for them, and we’ll say, okay, the first thing you should do, go submit that form online and see if it comes through to you. And they do that, and they come back and they’re like, okay, I don’t understand. It did come through to me. I’m like, yep, form’s not broken. People don’t want to fill out your form. And now those 1500 people that you had the opportunity to put some of your best content in front of to build that trust with them, didn’t get to see that content.


They walked away, they went to someone else’s site and they found the information that they were looking for. So there’s this huge missed opportunity when you do that. It surprises me how common it still is to gate content. There’s a lot of different differing opinions out there. Some people are like, well, some things you should gate, some things you shouldn’t. Some people think you should still do it. Get the name, run with it, continue to market to it. Why put an obstacle in front of consuming the content that you want people to engage with because it benefits your organization to get them to read it, watch it, listen to it? I think if you’re going to take a strategy where you gate something, you’ve got to use it sparingly and you’ve got to make sure that if you’re going to do that and that it’s the right place to do that. So for example, like a newsletter subscription, okay. They’re asking in that case for you to continually notify them and send things, or they’re ready to see that live demo and talk to a salesperson. Obviously that makes sense to have a form so they have a way to contact you. But beyond that, think twice and put yourself in their shoes too, and think about the types of things you would or wouldn’t put your information in. I think it’s that simple.


How can we evaluate whether or not this is an issue for you? Whether or not gated content with low conversion rates is a red flag you should be aware of is the first thing would be looking at, Deanna mentioned this, but looking at the volume of traffic that you’re getting to landing pages and then comparing that to the number of basically bounce rates or what percentage of visits is actually turning into someone abandoning that page and not filling up out the form. And then what percentage of the people who are visiting are actually filling out the form and converting? You can start to look at what is your conversion rate, but again, to Deanna’s point about you had 1500 people visit that page, and let’s say maybe you had one person fill out that form and actually download the piece you just missed out on all of those content, all of those people that would’ve engaged with that piece of content. So those are some ways that we can really just start to evaluate whether or not this is an issue for you, and then take a step back and look at the things you are doing and determine where that fits in the buyer journey and whether or not you should do some work to engage and offer that piece to your prospect.


Another red flag that we commonly see are digital ads that aren’t driving leads. And I think this is a tactic that many marketers look at and make an investment in it, and sometimes a very significant investment. The digital ads are not cheap to run but they look at it as a way to capture a lot of leads. And so I think a common misconception here is if we need leads, the more we spend, the more leads will get. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. And I think there’s, there’s many reasons why that happens, but if you are evaluating, should I be spending more on digital ads or pulling back, I think there’s a few things to look at.


Well, for one thing, things have changed a lot, right? And again, we talk about this all the time, but things have really changed. Digital ads used to be a whole different way to engage with your customer, and I feel like a lot of people feel like that’s still the way to go. But in actuality, in this day and age and the way that there’s just so many ads out there, most likely that ad is not the driver of your lead. If you were to look at a buyer journey, it doesn’t go on a straight line and that click through on the digital ad is not where your leads are coming from. Don’t put all your eggs in the digital ad basket. Yes, maybe go ahead and do some of that, but make sure that you’re doing other advertising too, because that most likely is not the thing that’s going to drive leads to your business. And just remember that, again, things are constantly changing, so you have to rethink, just don’t do these things because you did them eight years ago and it worked out really well. Be sure you’re evaluating to see how these things are working for you.


And as you evaluate, I think it’s important to keep in mind that last touch attribution can really skew the metrics. So I know in a lot of organizations, they’ve got the technology in place to track things, and it looks like, 75% of our leads come in through digital ads. So it’s really easy to think, I invest more in the digital ads, I will get more leads from this, this is the best source for us to get leads from. But the last touch was certainly not the first touch. I think it’s highly unlikely, especially if you’re selling like an enterprise HR technology software or anything that has a substantial cost to it, that they saw an ad for the first time, they thought that’s a great idea. They clicked on request a demo, and they became a prospect and they were ready to buy, right?


It doesn’t work that way. The buyer journey is very rarely a straight line. There’s probably a lot of things that happened that they saw and that they consumed and engaged with before they ever responded to the digital ad. And so, it’s important to not put too much into that last touch attribution because if you pull back on all the other marketing things that you’re doing, and to Jenni’s point, you put all your eggs in the digital advertising basket, you’re probably going to start to see the results of the digital ads go down. In fact, I know that happens for some organizations that have tried that very thing. And the reason is because it wasn’t the digital ad that ultimately was driving everything. It was collectively all the things that they were doing in marketing. As Gartner research has indicated and now takes an average of 66 touches to get a prospect to engage with a company. There were probably 65 things from a marketing standpoint that happened that got their attention before they clicked on that ad.



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