+ Digital Marketing Transformation

Why Digital Marketing Transformation Projects Fail

Why do Digital Marketing Transformation Projects fail?  We sought to find the answer to that question.

We talk with lots of companies about their marketing and business strategies and whether it makes sense to help with consulting.  Everyone we talk to wants to hear about how we can help with branding and all the components of digital marketing, such as SEO, E-mail, Web, Automation components, etc.  No one needs those explained to them and everyone is generally sold on them.  We find a common thread, though is that these marketing initiatives never seem to move forward for some organizations.  Previous failure or stalls have prevented companies from trying again. 

We sought to deepen our understanding.  To do so, we approached it as trying to understand the wants and needs and people involved in Digital Transformation initiatives. Here’s a window into some of the conversations we had:

What they want:

  • To look like a hero.  Not in a bad way.  Everyone wants to be good at their job.  
  • To get things moving.  They’ve talked about these types of initiatives for what seems like forever.  
  • Low or no risk.  If things go wrong they want an easy and quick out.
  • Perfect communication between Marketing, Sales and Technology functions.  Good luck…

What they need instead:

  • They need help.  Often times they are in charge of multiple initiatives and running in circles is eventually paralyzing, which makes them look weak and uncertain (certainty not like a hero).  Especially if there was a past failure or stall, they need an unconditional cheer leader for them and the initiative.    
  • They need an expert.  Someone who isn’t afraid to push and pull certain levers to get things moving.
  • Some risk.  Anything worth doing comes with it.  They need to put skin in the game to keep them from becoming complacent.
  • To satisfy sales.  At the end of the day, revenue is what keeps a company alive and thriving.  That’s not to say marketing and technology will be pushed aside, but sales are king and any process needs to set them up for success.    

To make matters more complex, we also started looking at the feelings of Marketing vs Sales vs IT and tried to surface some of their insecurities, frustrations & tendencies.  That sounded a little harsh to us, but it’s only when you know the truth that you’re able to make positive changes. Does below sound like your organization?

  • Marketing: Territorial and sensitive
    • “These are my ideas and they are great..I’m not just giving them away!”
      • What we see:  Marketing is being viewed more strategically than tactical in this age, which is huge!  They are getting paid to generate ideas, otherwise some of them wouldn’t have jobs.
    • “We’re the ones putting in the hard work and receiving no credit.”
      • What we see:  Marketing is receiving credit, but they aren’t being celebrated the way a closer does.  It’s one thing to move the ball and another to score a touchdown.
    • “We don’t need outside help.  Our team has it covered.”
      • What we see:  They might or they might not, but many marketing representatives tend to poke holes in Consultants work rather than solve the problems on their own.  This stalls projects or moves them backwards.
  • Sales: Self-less but critical
    • “Help me sell our services!..I’m out here by myself making deals!”
      • What we see:  That’s true at times.  Sales is tasked with selling and the good ones do just that.  They need talking points, collateral, presentations, experts to bring in, etc.
    • “I’ve asked these guys for help and I haven’t heard anything in weeks.  What are they doing?”
      • What we see:  Other departments don’t always move at the speed of a sales, nor can they know specific deals that will close at any given time.  When things are urgent, they are sometimes exaggerated.
    • “I’ll do anything for the client.  Their success is ultimately our success.”
      • What we see: The best sales people are rock stars and they tend to live and breathe this.  Closed deals and repeat customers is a strong sign of this at work.  
  • Technology: Oblivious at times
    • “I’ll respond to your e-mail.  No need for me to stop up to your desk.”
      • What we see:  People heads down in the technology probably don’t want to interface with you or other people.  If they did, they wouldn’t be technologists.
    • “What you asked me to do wasn’t feasible for that deadline, so I didn’t do it.”
      • What we see:  More thought is given to what logically makes sense than the personal considerations of the person who needed it.  This creates some of the most frustration in this space and is responsible for many of the project delays as progress or updates are often pushed back with little notice.
    • “A technology update was available last week, so I handled it for the entire company.  Should we let anyone know?”
      • What we see:  Again on the logic end.  It’s less about bringing people along for the ride and more about staying on the cutting edge.  

So what do we do with all of this information?  What is the answer to getting a Digital Marketing Transformation project to succeed? 

 It comes down to a healthy mix of the head and the heart, as it’s a change management initiative at it’s core, but you need someone who understands the in’s and out’s.  For some companies that is a homegrown solution and involves appointing a Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer to sheperd things through.  Someone who can bridge all these efforts.  For other companies, it’s an outsourced solution.  Many times the people who are best at this are in Consultant Roles at Marketing Services or Technology companies.  In either case, these people need to do the following:

  • Company Research:  Whoever is leading the initiative needs to fully understand the in’s & out’s of a company.
  • Department & Stakeholder Interviews:  People need to be involved in this.  These are servant leadership type of initiatives and all people / aspects need to be sought out.
  • Listening Sessions with involved Departments:  People don’t just need to be heard, they want to be.  Give them the opportunity to be involved and regularly update them and get their feedback on the initiative.  You can reserve the right to make the final decision, but they will appreciate the time. Even if they disagree, there is a solid chance they won’t work against the project.
  • Recommendation, Roadmap and Budget:  Know your Why before the How.  It’s basic strategy 101.  This includes aligning all resources needed as it relates to coding, sales process, marketing strategy, platform implementation, content development, training, etc.  
  • Help sell it internally:  There will be trials for each point and the majority will likely rule on each.  You need someone with a cool head to keep support high and be able to have some presence in front of Executives or an Executive team.
  • Implementation & Training:  Start to implement the How.  

James Pellizzi and Company has the resources you need to bring on a Digital Marketing Transformation initiative at your company.  Our areas of expertise include strategy & organizational buy in, selecting technology stacks, branding & content development, and marketing automation & CRM technical consulting.  

Download our guide or fill out a form if you’d like to be contacted!

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7 Ways to Kill it with your Content Marketing

Content Marketing is an important piece of Lead Generation.

I was thinking over the weekend how many marketer’s become interested in human psychology.  It makes sense because the best marketers spend a great deal of time trying to understand their audience so they can create a message that will move them.

Here are seven ways to kill it with your content marketing and truly connect with your desired audience.

You need a strong and compelling story to tell with a brand that is visually appealing.   If your website looks like it was last updated in 1999 and your logo was drawn up on cocktail napkins, you likely need a refresh.  There is no point in creating digital content if people are going to fall off the second they hit your site.  

For example, check out www.strangetrailsmarketing.com (It was a skunkworks experiment of mine).  Regardless of the information present, I bet you’re impressed by the visuals.  Those alone will keep you on the site. 

Once you have a strong brand and a great story to tell you need to focus on the information you will provide.  Like anything else in this world, you need to know yourself and what you want before you can go get it.  The same is true of your company.  

… and don’t overwhelm your audience with options.  Ever heard of the Jelly scenario?  A lady selling Jelly offered 12 flavors and she could barely get any of her shelves.   She brought it down to 3 flavors and sold out every day.  The more options, the harder it is to select something.  Keep it all as simple as possible. 

There’s a popular saying that people will forget what you said and what you did … but they will never forget how you made them feel.  Does your product / service offer that?  My business partner talks about how products/services are more than just providing a simple solution, but rather enabling people through an experience.  

For example, a coffee shop sells coffee.  They aren’t so much selling coffee as much as they are the ability for you to make it through a long afternoon.  Your nose can smell the brew once 3 pm starts and you can imagine the wooden floors, quirky atmosphere surrounded with local art and indie music in the background.  People can get coffee anywhere, but probably not that exact experience…

Does your product/service offer something like that? No reason it couldn’t..

Yep. I know where I’ll be at 3 pm tomorrow..

People like the soft approach.  When was the last time that coming on too strong worked for you?  Probably never.  The same needs to be true of your content.  It doesn’t need to be gated, it doesn’t need to be followed up with immediately via a phone call.  Give away pertinent information and ask for nothing.  It sets the tone for how your relationship with the client will be.  The last thing you want to do is give a prospect the impression that you will constantly be badgering them for more, more, more. 

This is a balancing act, of course.  A good middle ground is to focus on giving away basic information, but not the whole house.  For example, I’m writing this blog about content marketing, but I’m not writing your content.  You’d have to ask for that…

Soft selling doesn’t mean keeping your intentions a secret.  Quite the opposite.  Just because you’re not going to badger them to partner, doesn’t mean it should be a secret what that partnership would be like.  Make it clear that if people enjoy your content, they should contact you to continue the conversation with x, y and z.

For example, my company helps people align the technologies, people and processes needed to be successful on the Digital Landscape for Lead Generation and increased Brand Awarness.  This includes branding/content creation and setting up all digital marketing components such as e-mail marketing, social media marketing, pay per click, Search Engine Optimization and websites.  We also do technical consultation with Marketing Automation platforms.  

^ Just remember that a post like that isn’t probably going to get a lot of likes or responses.  It’s not safe, especially if no one else is liking it… but it doesn’t mean people aren’t seeing it or remembering it. 

More on that last point, people want to know they are always safe, above all else.  A sporadic posting schedule gives people the impression that you are a start-up, immature or don’t take your commitments seriously.  Good luck getting business in that case. 

By being consistent, people can check up and see what kind of business you are, who you’re working with and try to get a sense of what it would be like to partner with you.  

Humans connect most with other humans.  Unlike point number 5, expect posts involving your employees around the office or colleagues in action doing their jobs to get a lot of love.  People crave genuine connections with others, so it’s a good way to find people who will enjoy your product/service…or just need it.  If you can do it via video, even better.  Photos can be deceiving, but videos have a tendency to show off more authenticy. 

Take my below video as an example.  It’s just me having fun and messing up an answer, but it shows a human element and gives people a sense of what it’s like to be in a room with me.  

One of my clients is a law firm in Milwaukee and there was a post of one of their attorneys advising his client in an intense photo.  It screamed, “I’ve got your back and I’m by your side no matter what through this.”  People lined up around the block to work with the guy and it goes back to the idea of feeling safe.  Digital shouldn’t replace humans, it should speed up selection and interaction. 

I’m telling you, I should have been a psychologist.  Thanks for reading!

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5 Metrics To Look At To Dial In Your Google Ads Campaigns

When it comes to Digital Marketing, the Pay-Per-Click component of Search Engine Marketing is key to generating leads.  

Here are five metrics to look at that will help you dial in your Google Ads Campaigns. 

This is a more advanced read for people and companies who are beyond the starting point.

All of these metrics are focused on looking at key words under your ad groups.  You can add the Quality Score metric to your report and get a ranking from 1-10.  The higher the quality score, the better your campaign is doing in regards to that specific key word or phrase.  

Our advice:  Hone in on any keyword that has a quality score under 7.  You’ve now identified which ones to focus on improving.

Under the same view, you can add “Ad Relevance” which will tell you if your ad is exactly that, relevant to the keyword or phrase you’ve selected.  The rankings you can receive are either ‘below average’, ‘average’ or ‘above average’.  

Our advice: Any ad that is below average should be fixed immediately.  To make it super specific, don’t forget ad extensions and callouts.  These can add an element of personalization that will help you be more direct with people searching for your key word.

This metric will tell you if the webpage you’re sending to is making an impact on people who are clicking the ad.  So if you’ve picked “Corvette’ as the keyword and the ad is about “Corvette Racing” and then you send them to a landing page that is focused on fishing boats … well you get the idea.  

Our advice:  If your keywords have solid impressions along with an average or above average ad rating, but you’re landing page is below average, complete a UX assessment on the page and make it more relevant.

This is a metric we look at at the ad group level and it should correlate to these other metrics we’ve talked about.  If these are high, it could be as simple as you’re not spending enough to having to dig into the points from above.

Our advice: This is important, but this is a metric we look at only if we’re seeing low performance or no conversions across the board.  

Search Lost IS (rank) shows the percentage of time you are NOT showing up in search results.

Many marketers like to say, “Let’s let the data tell us what is going on.”  We agree.  Sometimes, though, even with all the analytics in the world things are more simple than they seem.  With all campaigns we run, there is always a few keywords that have low quality scores and everything else, yet they produce lots of conversions.  In those cases, we just leave it alone.  

Good luck out there!

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The Past Decade in Review

As the decade wraps up, it’s fun to go back and look at the journey you’ve been on.  Here is mine.  

I’m in sales mode for James Pellizzi & Co.  We want to double in size in 2020, so if you need help with any type of marketing or automation work, you might consider glancing through this article, as it will give you more than just a few taglines of how the leader of a potential partner/company of yours views marketing & business.  

Baby faced and ready to make an impression!

I was working at IEWC as a Marketing Coordinator, making a name for myself in marketing.  I had been out of college for two years and loved my job.  I took on a major branding initiative and was eager to make social media work in a B2B environment.  I couldn’t wait to get into work everyday.

In my eagerness, I began taking on anything and everything.  I became more of a Marketing Generalist, eager to please everyone.  For all the wins I was racking up, I also began to start losing.  I started to realize that human nature is to focus on mistakes.  I could do 9 out of 10 things right, but people focused most on the one thing I failed at (It didn’t help that I usually bombed in dramatic fashion).  My failures started to prevent me from capitalizing on my successes and I was frustrated stuff I thought didn’t matter overshadowed major wins.  I became somewhat disgruntled and occasionally took the long way into work.   

I had a new boss and shared with him my frustrations. The fact that he was willing to sit down and meet me halfway on things has always meant a lot. He acknowledged my ability to get things done, but helped me understand that I needed to walk alongside people first. I was running too far ahead of everyone. As a result, I was put on a team responsible for implementing Salesforce CRM, an initiative that failed in the past.  I couldn’t get enough of the marketing & sales processes and began traveling around the United States.  I lived in an airplane seat for a year but found myself loving every minute of it. 

One of the groups after a training session.

At its core, the project was a people & change management initiative.  I mostly just told people everything would be okay on a regular basis and to give things a chance… and it taught me that getting started is often times better than being perfect.  Starting is the hardest part and I found I excelled there.  This year/initiative will always be a fond memory.

At the start of the year, I was promoted to Channel Manager and the CRM project moved to it’s second phase, which was a roll-out around the world. I was rewarded for my good work with more responsibility. We no longer were using the Consulting firm as a crutch. I would be responsible for training and administration all on my own. I was more than up to the task and traveled to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Europe and China.  I’m not sure I’ll ever do another 17 hour flight to China again…but I’ll never forgot how much my travel companions looked out for me on all these travels.

The feeling you’d get when the wheels would touch back down in Milwaukee, whether across the US or the world…Mission Accomplished. I loved it.

With the CRM project over, I began to wonder what was coming next.  I had been turned down by all the major advertising agencies in Milwaukee, but upon some advice from my Dad thought I might have what it takes to make it in consulting.  I applied to all the major players and got an interview with Accenture!  I got the job and more than doubled my salary overnight.  Instead of working on CRM implementations, I was re-assigned to Emerging Technologies and began working with Marketing Automation platforms, specifically Eloqua and Marketing Cloud.   I remember during the orientation & training, everyone was posturing & talking about how great they were.  I thought to myself, “I’m going to eat these people alive…”

At one of the many training sessions Accenture puts on for it’s employees.

My client at Accenture was a major business retailer in Chicago.  I’d be up before 7 am, and drive from Milwaukee to an outside suburb every morning for 90 minutes.  I’d get home around 9 pm every night.  Sounds arduous, but my project manager and team took excellent care of me and I continue to incorporate many of the things she taught me in our current offerings.  The things we were doing were unbelievable.  Most of my work was focused on platform integrations, e-mail marketing and scoring models.  This was one of the only times in my career where no one tried to slow me down and I was once again hooked.  I couldn’t wait to get in and push the platform to new limits.  I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I still talk to a few people, although to be honest it seems like a different time & world…

My ego got the best of me.  I had been promoted at Accenture twice and seemed to be on the fast track to success.  Yet that didn’t stop me from taking a job as a VP of Marketing Automation (I really liked having that title) at an agency in Milwaukee, WI towards the end of the year.  In part, it was me proving to myself I could make it in the agency world, but it was for all the wrong reasons.  Even still, I was beaming with excitement as the year came to a close. The sky was the limit and we were going to conquer the market place!

James Pellizzi
My shiny new VP mugshot

I don’t have anything bad to say about the agency I was working for, but I learned the meaning of, “Too many cooks in the kitchen,” first hand during this year.  We were among the first Pardot partners and what I felt was working, I poured all my effort into.  Slowly, but surely our client list was growing and I was sending regular updates to everyone to make sure I wasn’t operating on my own. Even still, my vision at times came into conflict with the other leaders and eventually sapped my energy.  I’m still not sure if I was right or wrong to feel this way, as it wasn’t my company and I really wasn’t treated badly.  

I went out on my own.  I figured if I could build a practice for someone else, I could build it for myself.  The early months were fueled by my excitement.  I had taken a risk and was determined to make it a reality.  I also realized I took my busy routine for granted and began to feel bits of anxiety as I had been going 100 mph for so long and now I was at an abrupt 0.  Doubts about whether I was actually ready for this began to creep in.  Although, I used them as fuel to get my business up and running, come up with my brand and get some clients.  Strategic Digital Marketing was born and the mission was to help clients get the most out of their Marketing Automation platform.  I also advised them on how to tie together all the digital marketing components using the platform, and picked up new skills in SEO, PPC and Social.  

My primary offering was helping companies get the most out of their Marketing Automation platform and building confidence.

By the end of the year, I had a handful of small, but happy clients…but trouble was on the horizon. I was pursued by a start-up Salesforce shop in Milwaukee and routinely turned down their offers to hire me.  After being bullied into it and promised the world, I decided to give it a go.  I began working for two entrepreneurs who at first seemed to love my high energy and ability to get things done.  I was in charge of Marketing Automation and Marketing Services. I was directed to sell big and was promised resources to do the work would come after the deals were signed. 

Easily the worst year of my career. The honeymoon period at my new employer didn’t last long. I found myself working around the clock and on weekends, playing whack-a-mole because the Calvary that was promised never came.  The floodgates began to open and we started having lots of disgruntled clients.  I started to feel like a conman because I knew what I was selling couldn’t actually be completed, but leadership didn’t seem to care as long as the bottom line looked good.  I was dealing with familiar problems around taking on too much and being judged on what wasn’t going well. Nevermind the fact that two practices had been launched after multiple failed attempts by these men. It was all terrible and I’ll never forget any of it.

Luckily, I had a vacation planned after everything came to an end.

Reaching a boiling point after communications completely broke down, I left this company in spring of this year.  I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  My credibility in the Salesforce world was shot and I was told I wasn’t a leader and had failed.  They offered me a position as a salesman, which made my blood boil (of course they wanted to keep making money off me).  I swallowed my pride and accepted my fate. I remember sitting on a beach in Alabama with my family afterwards feeling stunned, angry and exhausted.  I also harbored concerns that this was the second time in less than two years I’d exited two start-ups that should have been excellent opportunities. Was I a difficult and ungrateful person? I also wondered if I wouldn’t be the last one to leave the company, and if so, the writing was on the wall and I had been shown first hand all the things a good business leader doesn’t do…quite a silver lining. I knew it would take time to find the answers to both those questions.

At the same time, I knew what I was going to do.  I’d rebuild Strategic Digital Marketing, which had been sitting idle as a back-up plan from the beginning.  This time I was ready and wanted help.  I found an adviser and partnered with other entrepreneurs to offer more than just Automation consultation.  If the night is darkest just before dawn, I felt like early 2018 was that, as by the end of the year, a few previous clients signed back on with me, I had my energy back and I had a local law firm that was willing to take a chance on my digital marketing methodology…

Back in business, ya’ll.

Strategic Digital Marketing changed it’s name to James Pellizzi & Company.  I felt strongly that it was my reputation on the line and I wanted to prove to clients and the marketplace that we’d take good care of them and take all of their marketing efforts to the next level, especially ones that had failed in the past.  If we succeeded, I’d reap the rewards.  If we failed, it was on me (and all the more reason not to).  With a team of experts in place, over the course of the year we managed all marketing efforts for 6 clients.  This included aligning the right people, processes and technology as it relates to Marketing including SEO/PPC, Email, Social, Web, Automation, Traditional and CRM.  Everything is done with increased brand exposure, lead generation and customer retention at the top of our minds (and we can help with your story, too).  Our mode of operation? Slow, but sure. Our difference maker? We want to (and will) be around for the long haul.

By the end of the year, we moved into a new office, culled a team of 8 contractors (all experts in their fields) & 2 full time employees, received multiple recognition as a top Marketing firm in Milwaukee and began formalizing some of our business processes…all boot strapped instead of funded by venture capital.  I feel strongly we have something special..and a foundation in place for it to grow.  It’s been an amalgamation of the past 10 years and I’m very proud it.

Devin Grainger joined as an Account Executive in the Fall of 2019.

I wouldn’t change the journey I’ve been on for anything and I feel very fortunate for all the experiences…

My new years resolution?  Introspection has a purpose and has helped me a lot, but I’ve analyzed everything to death.  We’ve got everything we need…including big plans for growth.  That’s where my focus will be.  Here’s to 2020.

P.S. Stay tuned for a website face lift.

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A Marketer’s guide to what a Lead Generation Program looks like in a B2B industry

If you are a marketer looking to bring digital transformation to your organization, you likely have heard of a lead generation program. 

What does that look like in an on-line world?  Below are the basics you’ll need to generate a lead, qualify it and send it to sales so they can close it.  This is all in the context of business-to-business (b2b) industries and not necessarily in order…

Website: This is probably obvious, but it’s not the home page you should be focusing on.  Whatever campaign you put together should target a specific service or product.  You’ll need to make sure you have a page that is hyper focused on that.  Bonus points if you have a tracked phone number or form so that people can easily contact you.   

Keyword Research:  Once you have your web page ready, the immediate next thing you need to do is understand what your desired audience is looking for that would get them on that page.  That can be done through what is known as keyword research.  A good tool like SEMRush or SpyFo will allow you to generate common keywords, what their search volume is, how hard it is to rank for them and show you any competitors that are currently ranking.
SEO:  Once you know what people are searching for, it’s time to go back and update your website accordingly.  Make sure you have a relevant title tag and meta description that includes the keyword or phrase that you’ve chosen to target.  You’ll also want to make sure you reference it somewhere in your header and/or first paragraph of text.  This now gives you a chance to show up when people search for said term or phrase.  When someone does so and makes it on your page and fills out a form, BOOM.  You’ve now generated a lead.
Pay Per Click Advertisements:  I made SEO sound really easy above.  It’s not.  It takes time & patience and some trial & error to be able to rank on the first page of Google or Bing.  If you want to speed that up, you can run Pay Per Click advertisements through Google or Bing for the same key words and phrases from your research.  Based on your bidding strategy, you may have a much better chance at showing up on the first page or top of the results.

Automated E-mail Thank You and Follow-ups:  Once someone fills out a form, you have indeed generated a lead, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.  You now need to qualify it.  You can do so by setting up automated e-mails that provide additional information about your company, products/services or information you think will be relevant.  Check out this article for some easy ways to get started on the technical end.  

Retargeting advertisements:  Another easy way to qualify a lead or keep someone interested is to establish retargeting ads.  You can do so automatically with Google and Bing.  You can also setup a social component using Facebook (and other platforms) that will show an advertisement in users mini feeds when they log in.   

CRM Integration:  By tracking e-mail metrics and how the engagement of additional advertisements, eventually you can make assumptions about who is interested in you and who is not.  When you think they, send the lead over to your company CRM so that sales can pick it up and close.  

Finally, everything above is contingent on three factors:

1 – You need a compelling story that will get people’s attention.  Make sure you have that.

2 – Don’t try to be perfect.  Focus on getting each component up & running and connected.  

3 – A Marketing Automation platform that will allow you to tie together these elements and send to CRM when ready.  Mailchimp will do all of this and it’s very inexpensive.  So no excuses!

We like talking about this stuff.  Send us a message or download our Do It Yourself Guide!


Make Facebook Relevant Again

Facebook and how people interact with it is changing.  

As far as marketing is concerned, I’ve been comparing it to the Wild West.  Anything goes, but truthfully I hope that changes sooner than later because there is so much potential.  Here are my recommendations for how to use Facebook for personal and business use based on my personal and professional experience.


I signed up for my Facebook account back in 2004 while I was a freshmen at UW-Whitewater.  Back then the name of the game was to have as many friends as possible and post as many pictures as possible.  We likely spent more time on that site than all other sites we were visiting combined.  

Now, many people grumble that Facebook is dying and it’s become irrelevant.  It’s just a bunch of people shit posting, looking up people they don’t know, following their exes, complaining about politics and seeing pictures of babies (and we’re not sure of who the parents are..or how we know them).  In the past few years, there have been times where I’ve been on Facebook and just felt not good afterwards at everything I was seeing.  

I don’t feel that way at the moment, though.  I’ve always described Facebook to friends, family and clients as the ultimate personal space.  To do so, you have to be selective about your friends and interests.  

Choose your friends wisely. If you’re friends with everyone, you’re friends with no one.  Unless you know the person on some kind of personal basis or at a minimum have met them in person, you shouldn’t be friends with them on Facebook (and I admit I didn’t always follow this advice).  This isn’t the easiest thing and I didn’t enjoy defriending people (we’ve all been on both sides) but if I haven’t seen you in 10 years or I pass you in public and you look right through me…well come on.  Neither one of us have any business seeing your most recent vacation photos…  

Same with your interests.  If you follow everything in the world, your mini feed is just a bunch of junk that likely won’t be honed in.  For me, I follow the Milwaukee Bucks, TMJ4, my favorite Mexican restaurant, Interpol and The Killers (my favorite bands) and some Miami Vice fan pages (because I really like that show).

You can also tighten your ad preferences.  If you don’t want ads, then go into your settings and say so.  I personally don’t mind Facebook following my web activity because they can present me relevant offers for products or services I’m interested in.  

^ As a result, when I login to Facebook, I see pictures of my nieces & nephews and good friends from college (because it gets harder and harder as the years go by), Giannis dunking on the competition, what the weather is going to be for the day and other local news, specials for Taco night, deals for The Killers at Summerfest and pictures of Don Johnson brooding in his Ferrari Daytona.  Why would I want to go anywhere else?  (Seriously)

Consider tightening up how you use Facebook and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how relevant the site has become for you again.


I also sell social media services to my clients.  In the beginning, it was largely based on having a policy in place for how employees were expected to use the platform and posting all about culture.  Then, it became about having posts everyday that pushed your offerings while running a like ad to get as many followers as possible.  You know what?  The same thing happened.  It all became just a bunch of noise.  The only people liking or sharing were employees…and it was because they were told to by their superiors or marketing department.  

Now, our goal for our clients is to make it much more relevant.  The strategies are four fold:

No policies in place.  If you have to control exactly how people use your business’s facebook page, it’s likely going to throw cold water on it… and the posts will be met as such…cold as ice.  Get a few administrators access to your account and encourage them to post photos of what the company is up to.  Give them guidelines, but don’t micromanage the message.  Worst case scenario you can always delete or edit a post.  

Showcase your product or service IN ACTION.  The caps are the key.  People connect with other people, so showing what you offer in the present tense along with it’s features and benefits are key.  You can count on some additional likes or reshares from the people that know the people you are focusing on.  This is a great way to grow organically and people will love the story aspect.  Pro tip: Videos under 30 seconds with sub titles are all the rage back home.

Limit your posts.  Ever notice that US Presidents seem to disappear from the spotlight after 4 or 8 years in office?  That’s because people get fatigued by seeing so much information about them everyday.  It’s also the reason why people start to miss them in the future.  Creating demand involves not being too available.   Consider limiting your posts to once or twice a week. The same pro tip applies: Videos!

Run super relevant ads.  Take your top products or services and put together some ads that are informative and tell a good story.  Put these ads in front of targeted audiences that need said product.  Coming full circle with the personal aspect, if people are looking online for similar things, Facebook will categorize it and give you access to their feeds (if you pay for it, of course).   My recommendation?  Start broad with the ad audiences and let the data tell the story to get them dialed in.  

There you have it…at least in my world, anyways 🙂

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+ E-mail Marketing

Automate E-mail Marketing with these 5 steps

Have you been thinking about establishing E-mail Marketing at your company?

Assuming you have all the approvals needed, below are steps to realize that goal. No more excuses!

1 – Sign up for a Mail Chimp Account
There are many E-mail and/or Marketing Automation platforms out there. If budget is an issue, you can do everything you need to for $50.00 per month with MailChimp. Signing up takes about 1 minute and the interface is extremely intuitive and easy to use.

2 – Integrate Mail Chimp with your web provider
Assuming you are using WordPress or Sqaurespace, integrating to your website shouldn’t take you more than an hour. After logging in to Mailchimp, click on your name and Connected Sites. Mailchimp will walk you through how to integrate, but most of the time it’s just logging into your web portal from Mailchimp to do the authorization.

MailChimp Login.png

Mailchimp Login Screen

3 – Create Lists that populate from your web form submissions
After you’ve integrated your website, you can create lists in Mailchimp that correspond to them. To do so, stay in Mailchimp and create the lists you want to use. Afterwards, login to your website and select your forms. There should be an option to send the contacts directly over to your Mailchimp list. The catch? You’ll have to make sure the fields all line up accordingly…


Integrating with Sqaurespace

4 – Create Simple E-mail Templates for a Thank You E-mail and a follow-up E-mail
Now you’re ready to create the actual e-mails and keep it simple! To get started, create a Thank You e-mail that does just that and mentions someone will be in touch within 24 hours. Include links back to your site and social media pages. Create an additional one that asks how their experience with the company was with a link back to your website or google to post a review.

MailChimp Template.png

Template Creation

If you can get a graphic designer or find some budget to hire a professional, great!

Although to get started, an administrator should be able to whip up some nice out of the box templates. All of them are responsive and guide you on how to create.

5 – Create automated campaigns
Finally, go to the campaign function and create an automated one. Again, it’s pretty intuitive, but the entry point should be, “immediately after a subscriber enters list.” Then select the Thank You e-mail template. Create another step that sends the Follow-up e-mail 30 days later.

…and that’s it! Afterwards, launch and monitor activity. I always say we don’t have to be perfect to get started. Now that you’re up and running, you can fine-tune everything, enhance templates and add in more steps.

This is just the basics. Our team has been around the block more than a few times on this, so holler if you need some help!

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+ Marketing Automation

Battle Royale: Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Pardot?

Marketing Cloud or Pardot?

Salesforce has two amazing Marketing Automation platforms on their hands. Marketing Cloud (formerly Exact Target) and Pardot. It can be difficult for a company to pick which one is right for them. Salesforce Account Executives will certainly tell you, but below is an inside scoop from someone who has worked at multiple agencies and saw the Pro’s and Con’s of both.

Number of Contacts
Pardot generally starts by offering 10,000 contacts and goes up from there. It can handle those 10,000 with ease. Once you get into the 100,000’s, the system will slow down with the platform taking longer to load screens and perform certain functions. It generally won’t affect your users experience, but it can be frustrating for your internal marketing team or administrator to get things done.

Marketing Cloud really has no limit when it comes to contacts. I’ve always told clients one of the main differentiators between the two is that if you’re looking to send tons of e-mail blasts and have 100,000’s of contacts, Marketing Cloud does it with ease. The user interface won’t miss a beat even if you add in a few hundred thousand more…

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Segmentation Ability
Pardot has a feature known as dynamic segmentation, which allows you to automatically segment your main contact list by setting If/Then statements. It works incredibly well and only takes a few seconds to setup. When synced with CRM, it will pull across all objects (contact, lead, account, etc) with ease.

Pardot Segmentation.png

Pardot’s Dynamic Segmentation

Marketing Cloud has what is known as data extensions, which allow you to carve up your main contact list with ease. There is a catch, though. If you’re synced with CRM, it only segments off individual objects, so unless your data is flat, you will likely run into trouble. You can write SQL tables to do so, but it will require someone with coding knowledge on your staff or selected partner. There is a feature called Audience builder that mimics some of the Pardot automation, but it’s very expensive.

MC Audience Builder.png

Marketing Cloud’s Audience Builder

The winner: Pardot

General Automation Functionality
Pardot has a great looking interface that offers an outline view of all functionality. Under the Marketing tab, you can easily find all of its features, whether it be automation rules, dynamic segmentation, creating e-mail templates, adjusting the scoring model, etc. It’s very intuitive and your Marketing Administrator won’t be intimidated when logging in. Campaign creation is mainly done through what is known as engagement studio. It looks good and works very well.

Pardot Engagement Studio

Pardot’s Engagement Studio

Marketing Cloud also has a good looking interface, but you have to scroll across multiple studio’s, including E-mail, Advertising, CloudPages, Social, etc (assuming you’ve purchased them all). Each has it own admin panel that needs to be setup and while they are very powerful individually, they don’t always tie together so well. Many features that you would assume are drag and drop still require a fair amount of coding behind the scenes. Campaign creation is done through whats known as Journey Builder and while it looks a little different, it works mostly the same as Pardot’s engagement studio.

Marketing Cloud Journey Builder.png

Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder

The winner: Pardot

Attribution is a hot topic among Marketing departments as they try to tie Return on Investment back to their multiple campaigns across social, web, e-mail, PPC, etc. Pardot has some ability to do so as it relates to e-mails, landing pages and to some extent, social. It utilizes what is known as campaigns as the entry point. These work extremely well, but for true attribution, you need to log all touchpoints. It’s doable if you get creative with salesforce campaigns, but it’s not exactly plug and play.

Marketing Cloud does a nice job of plugging in all their studios to the major advertising mediums. In most cases, you can integrate directly with your Google Adwords Campaign, your Facebook campaign and other web efforts. If your segmentation is setup correctly, getting individual reports for how each campaign performed is very realistic. Although, you’ll still have to use salesforce campaigns and use salesforce CRM to get the master report…

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Social Media
Pardot has a basic social feature that allows you to integrate to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can then schedule posts directly from the platform and track which of your prospects have interacted with your posts. It’s actually a very cool feature, but is somewhat clunky. For example, it doesn’t fetch previews, so you have to just trust the url and images are all going to look how you want them when you post.

Marketing Cloud is much more advanced. You can integrate with over 10 social media platforms and do the same scheduling/posting as Pardot, but it’s much better (and fetches). You can also automate responses, alert certain internal stakeholders of activity and do what’s known as social listening. It’s very powerful. The catch? It doesn’t currently integrate with your E-mail and Advertising audiences.

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Lead Scoring:
Lead Scoring is a powerful way to qualify leads. Pardot has an out of the box scoring model that can be tailored to an organization.

Marketing Cloud has no scoring model. Salesforce often sells companies both platforms. Marketing Cloud handles the bulk of the promotions, e-mail blasts, etc and then a small portion of that is taken and put into Pardot for lead scoring. I’m not a fan of it, but some companies have made it work for them.

The winner: Pardot

Template Creation:
Both platforms offer the ability to create e-mails, landing pages and forms. They look a little different, but they both offer flexibility and drag/drop features.

Pardot Template Creation.png

Template creation in Pardot

MC Template Creation.png

Template creation in Marketing Cloud

The winner: Tie

Pardot has many out of the box integrations to all sorts of platforms. It can be customized to an extent, but you need permissions from the company. As it relates to CRM, I’ve always described it like flipping a light switch. It’s very easy.

Marketing Cloud is wide open. Through their SOAP and REST API’s, you can custom build pretty anything you want if you have the ideas, time and resources. Likely goes without saying, but you’ll need people who are well versed in Salesforce coding to be able to do so. As it relates to CRM, it’s doable, but slightly more complicated than Pardot.

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Platform Standup:
Salesforce encourages you to utilize a Marketing Agency to help with the platform standpoint. Most agencies have a checklist or Quick Start as they are known, that they can walk you through. Pardot can take them anywhere between one week and one month for the initial standup depending on time/resources limitations. Much of this is training and overviews of how the platform works, which because it’s so intuitive usually goes very well. It usually requires a short term partner.

Marketing Cloud is usually more complex.

Many discussions need to be had around how data is structured and how the org needs to be setup. This can take weeks or months depending on how organized both parties are. After that, the demo’s and setup usually go fine, but because it’s not as intuitive it takes longer to complete the hand-off and likely requires a long term partner.

Tying it all together:
It largely depends on your company’s size and what you’re looking for. If you’re a small business, Pardot is a better match and price for you. If you’re mid-size and up, Marketing Cloud may offer the functionality you need, especially if you’re looking to sends tons of e-mails on a daily basis as well as bring an attribution model to your company. Just be prepared for a longer and more complex build…

If you’ve got a similar project or need further guidance, our team has been around the block more than a few times. Give us a shout!

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The train is leaving. We want you on it, but it is leaving…

Are you an entrepreneur or a younger individual poised to take over some leadership duties at your company?

If so, you may find it’s difficult at times to sell new initiatives, especially as it relates to Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation. Here are some tips to help you on your journey.

1 – Put yourself in the current leaders’ shoes … and show some respect
It’s probably an exciting time for you and probably a nerve-wracking time for older (wiser) generations. They’ve spent the past 20, 30, 40 etc. years building and protecting the company you work for and it was their blood, sweat and tears that has the company in it’s current (successful) spot. They have sentimental value about their brand, about the culture of the company, their history, etc… and they should! Above all else, they want to make sure their efforts have a lasting and positive effect. Handing the reins to young, (at times) untested newbies can be scary (and rightfully so!).

We will feel the same way someday about our efforts. If you can put in an effort to understand this, it will naturally show and it will go a long way with them inviting you to the table.

2 – Find the most progressive and open minded leader at the company
There is bound to be someone at the firm that is always open to new thoughts and ideas. Find this person. Take this person out to lunch and keep the conversation loose. Mention that over the next 6-12 months, the company needs to start exploring becoming more Digital. To do so, it should be done in a parallel path to what is tried and true. If the company currently likes hard mailers, directory listings and magazine advertisements, fine. Keep doing them, but also carve out some budget to explore a Digital Marketing Roadmap and some quick wins like a refreshed website, E-mail newsletters & nurture campaigns, SEM & PPC, Social etc.

I always say, it’s more important to get started then it is to be perfect with new initiatives (because it’s the hardest part). Once moving, you can use the momentum to keep building.

Having an Executive on board that knows the other Executives will naturally be able to get them on board with giving things a chance, whether it’s because of friendships, reputation, ownership, etc.

3 – Don’t be afraid to admit what’s not going well, but make sure the whole story is told
There are a lot of people out there that are not big picture thinkers, which is totally fine. Although, you need to be ready to both appease and disarm them. With Digital Marketing, there will likely be multiple mini projects in the beginning. In an ideal world, they will all go well. In the real world, it’s more likely that some will go really well, some will go okay and some will fail. The ones that fail are likely to be honed in on by certain people who want to shut everything down as a result.

Don’t overreact. In the words of my former boss, put yourself in a shit sandwhich. Start by talking about the state of the project, as a whole, reiterating how great it is that the company is moving with the times. Then admit the pieces that are not going well along with your plan to remedy them. Close out by also talking about the things that did go well. People will appreciate the honesty and good executives will see that the over-all initiative is important and moving forward.

If you just focus on the bad right away, that will take over the conversation and shut you down. Trust me…

4 – Don’t try to please everyone
Also remember that there is a limit to everything. It’s important to bring people along with you, but the naysayers can sap your energy and the project’s. At some point, you might have to just politely keep your head down and stay out of their way.

Focus on the good stuff you’re doing…and more importantly the people that are on board.

5 – Have Fun and make your intentions known
Probably the most important aspect. Have fun. Smile more. Joke around. In dealing with Digital Marketing, we’re not heart surgeons where the smallest mistake can be fatal. This project should be exciting and well known among the company. If done right, it builds culture, excites the community and gets your client new clients.

… and in doing so, don’t be secretive about it. Give regular updates, celebrate the quick wins, and update people on the failures (and their associated adjustments). At some point, you’ll realize you’re no longer in a Digital Transformation stage. Instead, you just work at a company that is now on the leading edge of all things Digital.

Coming full circle with the title, I always advise my clients to tell their Executive Teams that the train is leaving.

We want as many people on that train as possible. We will hold the train at the station for as long as possible. We will make the ride as comfortable as possible. However, that train is leaving and if you chose not to get on it, you’ll be left at the station.

Shameless plug. If you are in the midst of this or need help with your digital marketing, my team and I are well versed and at your service 🙂

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+ Marketing Automation Project Plan

5 Tips for creating a Marketing Automation Project Plan

Are you looking to create a Marketing Automation Project Plan for your organization? 

A Marketing Automation Project Plan may sound like a tall task, but ask yourself this question.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Marketing Automation is no different. Take your time when you’re starting out and make sure you have certain resources in place.  Here are five tips to consider:
Understand you have many options for a platform. There are many third party Marketing Automation tools on the market (Over 150+). Most of these platforms all have the ability to store contacts, design/ send e-mails, design/manage landing pages and form activity, scoring mechanisms that rank your contacts likelihood to buy, and the rest of the tools you’ll need to set up the automation
Identify at least one person who is technically savvy, with an interest in digital marketing. This person doesn’t have to have a degree in rocket science. Rather, a willingness to learn and explore will be far more valuable. The role of this individual will be to design marketing automation processes according to your objectives.
He or she will be at the center of all activities for the platform.  
Mentally prepare yourself for some trial and error. Plan to turn on the platform and then send out some initial low risk campaigns like a newsletter. Also, identify a product category or brand that you will put through a Pilot program in the coming months. 
What types of material do you want to send your readers? Think about content for the Pilot program, as well as generally-speaking. Most importantly: Include a strong callto-action on all e-mails and the follow-through strategy. For example, if your reader should click a hyperlink or button in the e-mail for a landing page, what are your goals and objectives for this person
Write down your TOP FIVE METRICS you’d like to achieve. It can be open/click rates or form conversions. Take it further and request close rates or opportunities won. Get this in the hands of your administrator who would, in turn, follow through to create a roadmap.

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Marketing Automation and Social Media | Stronger Together

Social media has become an integral part of our life, both personally and professionally.

This is especially true for business owners looking to connect with customers and potential customers.  Social Media and Marketing Automation are stronger together.  Having a strategy is important, so that’s the first step.  You should identify an objective for the project and ask yourself how it will benefit the organization.  Part of that should be determining how that fits into a greater marketing automation process.  Here are 5 ways to do that:

1 – Schedule posts
Platforms such as Pardot, Marketo, Hubspot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud all allow you to schedule social media posts in advance, which is a huge time saver.

When selecting a marketing automation platform consider that Pardot and Marketo have a more simple interface.  Hubspot and especially Salesforce Marketing Cloud have advanced features that go pretty in depth with their capabilities.

Don’t forget about the content, either.  You should be consistent with your schedule.  Perhaps every Monday is a new blog highlighting a service, new pictures uploaded for Throwback Thursday and Fridays reserved for highlighting the community or company culture.

2 – Score or rate your posts
The platforms give you a huge opportunity to take your social media efforts to the next level.  Pardot, Marketo and Hubspot come with a scoring model that allows you to rank your prospect’s activity, which includes social posts.  When you identify them through a form submit or an e-mail send, you can cookie them (which just means you’re tracking them).

You can place a higher emphasis on your business related posts and a lower emphasis on the more fun posts.  Include this in a greater scoring model that includes web forms, e-mail clicks, webpage visits, etc and you can start to tie back ROI to your social media efforts.

You’ll look like a rock star within your organization, too.

3 – Re-target on Facebook
Giving some much needed love to MailChimp.  Until recently, it was mostly known as an e-mail tool.  They’ve really upped their game by adding on some automation elements and the ability to re-target on Facebook.

When a person fills out a form on your website, they enter into a list in MailChimp, where you can track their activity and send e-mails.  Now, it will also put advertisements up on Facebook when that person logs on to the account, yet another way to touch them.

Hubspot and Marketo have similar features.  In both cases, you’ll still need to create the advertisements in Facebook.

4 – Include links on emails
Every platform has the ability to add social media icons to the bottom of your e-mail templates.  While this is very common on web pages, you’d be amazed at how many companies still don’t include them on e-mails.

It’s an easy way to get your existing contact database to also follow you on social media.  Also, you don’t have to pay anything for the likes and follows.

5 – Automate replies on social media
Salesforce Marketing Cloud reigns supreme in this last category.  Their social studio features allow you to monitor posts across all of your platforms.  In addition, you can do what’s known as social listening and search for key words or competitors that you want to track.

In both cases, you can create what is known as a macro that will automatically respond to posts.  Use it to handle critical PR issues immediately, thank people for their interest and attract people away from your competitors when they drop the ball.

Learn more about that here: https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/social-media-marketing/

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What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation isn’t so much a tool as it is a set of different technologies and processes.

It started when companies were onboarding commercial processes through a CRM system. As a result, among the streamlined processes was filling sales people’s pipelines with leads. Before this, the number one request of Marketing Departments was “Give me leads! Any of them!” They were hungry. Now they are to a point where they are actually overwhelmed. They are now saying “Enough!” Only give me the best leads that are ready to buy”. The tension between Sales and Marketing lives on.

So what is Marketing Automation exactly? Many people think it’s a platform that sends emails out and tracks their open/click rates. Not quite.

It’s a collection of technologies that allows companies to streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks and workflows. Doing so increases operational efficiency and helps firms grow revenue faster. There are three components:

  1. A Central Marketing Database: A place for all of your marketing data (think of it as the brain). A place where you can score and rank the relevancies of each lead and put them into groups. A place where you can gather insights into the conversations that took place with them.
  2. An Engagement Engine: A canvas where you can interact with the database (think of it as the legs). A place to send information and relevant content to your contacts.
  3. An Advanced Internal Team: Not so much technology as it is automation of internal marketing processes and fuller understanding of what a platform can do (think of it as the heart). This increase’s marketer’s ability to deliver relevant content to relevant individuals and arrange their sales team’s leads based on priorities. It’s also the human element.

To get started, look at the following platforms such as, Eloqua, ExactTarget, Pardot, Marketo, Hubspot and others.

MAKE YOUR SALES TEAMS CHAMPIONS OF THE OPPORTUNITIES YOU GIVE THEM. (Cham-pi-on/CHampeen/verb 1. Support the cause of; fight for, defend)

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