Another year has come and gone, and we’ve been reflecting on all the challenges we’ve faced together over the last 12 months.
Our small, yet mighty team achieved incredible marketing growth last year, but not without a generous dose of failures and triumphs.
To give you some insight into what we did right, here’s a comprehensive list of all the tips, tricks, and strategies we tested last year.
1. Social Media
2015 was the year of smarter social media for the marketing team. For one, we upgraded to Buffer’s small business plan, which allows us to add more team members, schedule more posts per profile, and dive deep into rich analytics. We especially love Buffer’s Optimal Timing Tool, which helps marketers discover the best times to share content.
Now, we keep track of our top-performing posts and how engaged our followers are on a bi-weekly basis — this ensures we’re continuously monitoring and improving our social media strategy.
We also built our brand voice, which identifies our brand personality and core values. Along with that came our buyer personas, or the target customers that we’d like to market to. Determining our brand voice and buyer personas was essential for knowing who we are as a company, and for guiding the content that we create and share on social media.
2. Content Marketing
At the beginning of 2015, we spent a lot of time trying to pump out as much content as possible.
We spent so much time producing content that we began to lack not only in quality, but in thoughtfulness and strategy. And the truth is, more content wasn’t necessarily translating into more traffic or leads.
In the second half of 2015, we tried to offer our audience more value. We focused our energy on longform blog posts and gated content, as well as case studies that highlighted our customers and their specific use cases. We added a Resources Center to the Brandfolder website, and tried to publish informational and useful materials relevant to our industry and our buyer personas.
So far, our content has been successful in influencing almost 20 percent of the overall revenue generated in the second half of the year.
### 3. Analytics & Reporting
Last year, we made major investments in Salesforce and HubSpot. We had to get these two large systems up and running, and communicating with one another, to help us become better marketers in 2015. By integrating a variety of tools, including Slack, Unbounce, Salesforce, and HubSpot, we’re better able to keep tabs on incoming leads and Sales follow up.
We also found an awesome PPC partner, Pico Digital, to help us dramatically improve the way we execute and track our online advertising. They were able to help us reduce our CPC by 87 percent and our CPC by 58 percent (from the baselines previously established by another vendor), dramatically increasing the lead volume while keeping costs relatively the same.
4. Marketing Campaigns
Once we were equipped with high-quality content, we were on the fast track to incredible marketing growth. We turned to HubSpot to help us with the automation front, which provided an easy way to build out several unique marketing campaigns.
We started by working to re-engage cold prospects from our Salesforce database by building out a three-step drip email campaign to remind them about Brandfolder. As a result, we created four new opportunities, increasing our quarterly pipeline by 15 percent— and this was just off one email blast!
We also utilized the personalization features in HubSpot to further customize our messaging for our target markets. We created landing pages for different verticals and launched email drips to drive traffic to the appropriate vertical pages, complete with complimentary messaging about that person’s industry.
5. Influencer Marketing
Building relationships with influencers became a priority during the latter half of the year. We’re now focused on cultivating authentic relationships with experts in branding, design, and digital asset management (DAM). In order to find these influencers, we use BuzzSumo to research the major players in the game. Then, we get in touch with a genuine message about why we’d love to create a mutually-beneficial partnership.
Once you establish these relationships, the opportunities are endless — co-marketing using each other’s social media channels, quoting industry experts in blog posts, collaborating on eBooks or other long-form content. This allows us to reach a broader audience and leverage completely new social networks.
6. A/B testing
Around the beginning of our third quarter, we decided to see if our website would work autonomously to drive Brandfolder sales.
We removed the traditional form from our pricing page and tried to get people to buy 100 percent on site. Unfortunately, we saw the number of inbound leads decrease dramatically. The increased number of options on site and the reduced interaction with our sales team proved to be less beneficial to buyers.
So after 90 days, we decided to revert back to capturing the information of those interested in learning more about Brandfolder pricing. Doing so resulted in a 4X increase in leads, which then gave our Sales team more opportunities to explain the benefits of our solution, which then resulted in increased sales.
Over the course of 2015, we effectively grew our blog traffic over 300 percent! Since you’re probably wondering how we did this, here’s a breakdown of two tactics that helped us grow.
Interviewing Brands and Influencers
In our Brand Matter blog series, we got insider details on the marketing and branding strategies at companies like Lush Cosmetics, Marley Coffee, and Dollar Shave Club. These posts were inherently successful because we chose large brands with hundreds of thousands of social media followers — and they were sharing our content for us.
If we really wanted to achieve incredible marketing growth, our small team had to become more efficient. We chose to repurpose blog posts that had already achieved a high amount of organic traffic, and we transformed them into new blog posts, graphics, SlideShare posts, and Pinterest pins.
In addition to saving us time, this gave us a chance to test out new formats (we hadn’t previously been active on SlideShare, for example) with some of our best content.
How We’ll Achieve Incredible Marketing Growth in 2016
Mobile traffic is higher than ever before, and we’re excited to roll out more campaigns optimized for mobile users. We’re also excited about exploring more options for native advertising on sites like Instagram and Pinterest.
Video is another medium that’s on the rise. We’ve seen paid advertisements in video form start to creep into our Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat feeds. And according to Forbes, video is going to completely dominate in 2016. We’re looking for more ways to incorporate video into our marketing strategy, whether that be video blogging, product videos, or other informative and interactive content.
As we mentioned earlier, we haven’t been able to focus on testing as much as we would have liked in 2015, but we’re going to test everything in 2016. We want to see which messaging resonates, which campaigns perform best, what subject lines are converting, what verticals we engage with most, and so on. We’ll be testing copy, design, colors, fonts, and anything else that our marketing fingers touch.
With our marketing technology stack dramatically improved in 2015, we now have a great deal of data to work with. We’re going to use a variety of tests to determine the best way to generate ROI across content, on and offline campaigns, social media, and more. We’re also going to get laser focused on figuring out the KPIs aligned to each activity and what types of things we can do to ensure we’re being successful.
Can you tell that we’re looking forward to the new year? If anything you read sounded encouraging (or even the opposite) we’d love to hear about it in the comments!