Inbound Marketing Means More Effective Strategies

Over the past few years, we’ve established the challenges and priorities for
marketing and sales teams in the State of Inbound report. This year, we introduced a new angle in our study: do marketers believe in their organization’s marketing strategy?

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How Marketing and Sales Challenges and Priorities Shift Over Time, and Differ Between Inbound and Outbound Teams

What are your company’s top marketing priorities over the next 12 months?

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Todays Top Marketing and Sales Challenges

The most challenging tasks facing marketers are generating leads and traffic, proving ROI for marketing activities, and securing budget.

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Today's Marketing and Sales Priorities

   Marketers today are focused on converting the visitors they attract into leads and customers. Next is growing traffic to their website, followed by increasing revenue from existing customers (upselling).
   Clearly, the mandate marketers received is: “Keep the engine running” with a keen eye toward monetizing their marketing activities.

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Which of the following best describes the principal industry of your organization

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For the last eight years, HubSpot surveyed thousands of marketers and salespeople around the globe about their challenges, priorities, and strategies in marketing and sales. The result is a testament to the trends and growth of inbound, something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

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How Google Analytics Hooked us on Direct Metrics




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Integrating Online and Offline Channels

Elsewhere, I have written on how marketers and communicators should operate in a world with numerous available traditional and digital channels. Here is a flowchart that summarizes my process:

The overall theory: Segment the target demographic and create a persona. Decide the 4 Ps. Create an overall strategy that assigns weights to each part of the Promotion Mix. Choose the messaging. Select the best online and offline channels. Produce the marketing collateral. Transmit to the audience. Measure the results.

But the problem is when online marketers often drink their own digital Kool-Aid, ignore traditional channels and exaggerate the effectiveness of modern channels. (And I’m not even taking all of the online advertising fraud in the industry into account.)

Remember Oreo’s famous Super Bowl tweet? Ritson ran all of the numbers and calculated that it was seen by less than 1 percent of Oreo’s target market. And that example is held up as “social media marketing” at its very best. In another example from Hoffman, Pepsi lost enough market share to drop to third when it moved its budget from TV to social media.

But social media consultants and agencies are always going to say that “social media is the answer,” because their livelihoods depend on it — even though Ritson notes that it is often not the answer and Hoffman says, perhaps too bluntly, that it’s part of modern marketing’s bull—-. Digital video platforms are always going to claim that “TV is dying” because their success depends on it — even though TV has never been more popular than it is today.

Few take the time to research the facts, and instead just regurgitate whatever spews forth from the digital marketing echo chamber. And most people are selling something. An advertising consultant or SEO agency is always going to say, respectively, that advertising or SEO is the solution to everything.


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How Google Analytics Pushed Everyone Online



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How Google Analytics Changed the Buckets



According to W3TECHS, Google Analytics is used by 55 percent of all websites and has a traffic analysis tool market share of 83 percent. More than half of those websites use GA as their only source of marketing data.

Google transformed the marketing industry. However, the introduction and widespread adoption of GA pushed marketers to change their focus from the strategy to the channel (this is a screenshot from an old client of mine back when I was a consultant):

Traditional marketing allocates activities based on the strategies that comprise the traditional Promotion Mix: direct marketing, advertising, personal selling, sales promotion and publicity. Google Analytics replaced those “buckets” with these entirely new ones: direct, organic search, social, referral, paid search, email and display.

However, that shift in assumption has led to poor marketing because almost any strategy can be executed over any channel — and it is strategies, not channels, that have associated best practices and deliver results.

Take “social media marketing,” a vague, useless phrase that refers to channels but not to any specific strategy:

  • Direct marketing campaigns (that are inaccurately called “advertising campaigns”) get direct responses from a specific set of people on social media based on their demographics and what they “like”

  • Advertising campaigns put paid media published by an identified sponsor in front of a mass audience on social media

  • Publicity campaigns gain mass exposure through earned or owned media that is spread on social media

  • Personal selling campaigns have salespeople contact prospects and leads over social media

  • Sales promotion campaigns circulate coupons, discounts and codes on social media to generate immediate sales

Each of these five things can be deemed “social media marketing” — but when a term means everything, it means nothing. The five traditional strategies have best practices, as well as times and places to use — and NOT to use — them within an overall marketing plan.

To ask “What is the ROI of social media?” makes as much sense as asking “What’s the ROI of the telephone?”

By not using and knowing the traditional terminology that the marketing industry uses for precise reasons, marketers are only hurting themselves and their own campaigns.

When one now looks at Google Analytics and sees the results, for example, in the “Social” bucket, it’s rarely clear which of these strategies and activities delivered which results. The same is true for almost all of the “buckets” that appear in online marketing analytics. The strategic activity matters more than the communications channel. The channel merely dictates the format of the marketing collateral and content that one creates within an overall strategy.

To ask “What is the ROI of social media?” makes as much sense as asking “What’s the ROI of the telephone?” Activities, not channels, generate ROI. But after Google Analytics and every other marketing platform defined “social media” and other channels as buckets, and therefore as marketing strategies, people have confused strategies and channels ever since.

The positive thing about GA is that we can know which channels tend to perform the best. The negative thing about GA is that we know less about which specific, overall strategies and activities over those channels lead the best results.

Download It's Not the Market, It's Your Marketing 
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