The 3 Best Practices for Using a CRM

One of the most important tools that your company can have is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform. To effectively sell and manage your customers, it is essential to have a way of staying organized despite the overwhelming number of contacts you may have. With the proper technology and training, salespeople can begin to close more deals by being more informed about every potential customer to whom they have reached out. Before you purchase a CRM, it is important that you understand the purpose of implementing this software into your sales strategy. Here are the 3 best practices for using a CRM.

1. Track Your Customers

From the moment you first import a new lead into your system all the way to the day you close the deal with that customer, it is vitally important to include and track as much information as you can. How much revenue would you expect out of this opportunity? At what stage are you in the sales process? How likely is it that this opportunity will be closed? Having this information readily available will make marketing and salespeople’s jobs that much easier. A CRM allows you to keep this information in one common place where everyone in the organization can access the data.

2. Reports and Dashboards

Tracking this data will not only give you something to refer back to, but it will also give you information from which you can build detailed reports and visual representations. There’s no easier and more effective way of presenting your open and closed sales opportunities than with the help of these CRM capabilities.  Knowing where you stand with your business opportunities is important, especially when it comes to reporting to upper management and keeping them updated on prospects. Creating simple and eye-catching graphs is a great way to do this.

3. Keep a Record of All Interactions

Communicate with customers more efficiently by using a CRM to track every interaction you’ve had with that prospect. This is especially useful while managing a large number of contacts at once. After every conversation, make a note of how the conversation went. Did you call or email them? What was discussed? Did this move the opportunity further along in the buying process? Next time they reach out to you, or vice-versa, you will have a note that will remind you of where you left off. More than likely, this will help you to close more opportunities by appearing more informed and personable to your customers.

If you decide to begin using a CRM, be sure that you know how to use it to its full capacity. Simply importing a list of leads will not bring you much newfound success. It’s what you decide to do with this list that determines how successful you will be. Use your most important data to collect and build reports while keeping a record of all your interactions. You are sure to see an improvement in the way you conduct business.

View our last blog on why your data is important.

Why Your Data is More Important than Your Message

As marketers, we automatically gravitate towards what we want to communicate. After all, communication makes up a great portion of our job description. We often times forget (or choose to ignore) the vast need for clean, detailed data of your target audience. Who you want to reach, dictates your message… not the other way around.

We all know it, and can repeat how important data is. But who is actually sincerely happy with their team’s effort to match data and messaging? According to a 2015 Digital Marketer survey of 1,000 diverse marketers, 80% use data to drive personalized communications, BUT one-third feel they are not using it to the best of their ability. They cite a shortage of internal resources, personalization technology and accurate data.

How can we expect to get the most out of our marketing dollars if the communications are doomed from the start? Data and communications will never reach 100% accuracy, but one cannot survive without the other. More than likely, depending on your target audience and state of your data (or lack thereof), you will need to implore several solutions to get the most return on your data.


  • An internal data management system

Depending on your resources and amount of pre-existing data you may be able to invest in a system to internally house your data. Robust systems may also clean, sort and complete other tasks in preparation for use.

  • An external data management company

If you do not have the internal know-how or availability to manage your own data: outsource. Companies can provide you a whole suite of services tied to your data, and can be more cost-effective than internal changes.

  • A big data company

Maybe you are starting from scratch and have no means to develop your own list of targeted audiences, then working with a list company is a fantastic option. By providing them criteria, they will create you a highly-targeted, customized list of viable customers.


The bottom line is without a strategy for utilizing segmented, targeted data, any marketing communications will not be successful. “Spray and pray” is not a valid method and provides very little return on your investment.

View our last blog on Content and Design.

The Number One Tip for Every Direct Marketing Professional (not what you’d expect!)

Drumroll please.


My number one marketing tip…make sure you have the right tools in place! Modern day marketers are expected to be responsible for a wide range of strategies and tactics, and the only way to make sure you are being efficient and effective is to know what tools are out there to help with each area. This list is by no means meant to be inclusive, but it should give you an idea of just how many resources (both paid and free) are available out there.


1. General SEO

(Raven Tools, Moz Suite, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs)


2. Technical SEO

(Screaming Frog, Xenu, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster, Schema Creator)


3. CRO

(Clicktale, Visual Website Optimizer, Inspectlet, CrazyEgg, Unbounce, UsabilityHub)


4. Social

(Buffer, Sprout Social, Hootsuite)


5. Keyword Tools

(Wordstream, Ubersuggest, Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Wordtracker)


6. Email

(Streamsend, Mailchimp, ExactTarget, Constant Contact, Sendgrid)


7. Customer Feedback

(Survey Monkey, Qualaroo, SurveyGizmo, Google Forms)


8. Automation

(Marketo, Hubspot, Net-Results, Pardot, Silverpop, Infusionsoft)


9. Mobile

(Localytics, Flurry, Appboy, Appfigures)


10. Personalization

(Monetate, Demandbase)


11. Data & Analytics

(Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, Geckoboard)


12. PPC Advertising

(Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Linkedin Ads)


13. Retargeting

(Adroll, Retargeter, Perfect Audience)


14. Content Marketing

(MyBlogGuest, StumbleUpon Paid, Contently, Scribe, Feedly)


15. CRM

(SugarCRM, Salesforce, Sage CRM)


16. PR

(Buzzstream, Vocus, HARO, PRNewswire)


17. Organization

(Trello, Google Drive, Dropbox, Basecamp, AtTask)


18. Customer Support

(Uservoice, Freshdesk, Zendesk, Happyfox)


19. Competitive Research

(Compete, SEMrush, SpyFu, iSpionage, Mixrank, TrackMaven)


20. Local SEO

(Bright Local, GetListed, Yext, Whitespark)


21. Chrome Extensions

(Scraper for Chrome, Moz Bar, Link Clump, Awesome Screenshot, Similar Sites)


22. Brand and Social Monitoring

(Google Alerts, Topsy, Social Mention, Mention)


23. Miscellaneous

(SenderScore, Wayback Machine, Prezi, Uberflip, Copyscape, IFTTT, Boomerang)


24. Bonus Tip – To get insight into some of the tools other companies are using, you can use BuiltWith. This will identify (most) of the technologies your competitors, favorite websites, and Fortune 500 companies are using.


25. Bonus Tip 2 – Many of the paid services mentioned in the blog post will offer a free trial – some even without a credit card. Make sure to take advantage of these trial opportunities!


Knowing the tools, what role each plays, which are in your budget, as well as which one(s) are right for your business can take a lot of time. It’s something that we definitely recommend every marketer take the time to research – it makes a world of difference!


So you have any favorite tools you don’t see on this list? Share in the comments below.

As always…happy marketing!

How to Use Retargeting for More Successful Direct Marketing Campaigns

Ah, retargeting; quite possibly the best “secret” weapon that many direct marketers simply ignore or miss. Why do I think they miss it? Well, here are some common questions I’ve encountered in the last year or so.


“So…What is retargeting?”

“How are search retargeting and site retargeting different?”

“Why do some people call it retargeting, and others call it remarketing?”

“What are the different types of display retargeting?”

“How do you make good retargeting ads?”

And of course, my favorite… “Why do these stupid ads keep following me around online?!?”


Retargeting is one of the fastest growing, yet often misunderstood tactics utilized by direct marketing professionals. What most don’t realize is that retargeting is a blanket term – there are actually 6 (or more depending on who you ask) main types of retargeting methods. Knowing which retargeting method to use and when to use them can make a big difference in your marketing campaigns. We’ll start with the basics:


Site Retargeting

This is probably the most common type of retargeting. If you’re a Google Adwords user, you are probably familiar with the terminology “remarketing”. Site retargeting is a form of online marketing in which you target users who have previously visited your website with display ads across the internet. Those display ads can take the form of banner ads, text ads, dynamic ads, product ads, video ads, and more. Site retargeting allows you to create segments (ex. Visitors who looked at product/service X, but didn’t convert) and use specific messaging to increase the likelihood that visitor will return and convert. Site retargeting is also great for upselling and referrals. One of the best parts is that you don’t need to work with a 3rd party vendor for site retargeting – anyone with a Google Adwords account can get up and running in no time.


Search Retargeting

Search retargeting is when you target users with display ads who have previously searched for keywords, services, or products that are similar to yours, but haven’t yet visited your site. Search retargeting is probably the second most utilized form of retargeting. It’s important to use a different messaging strategy with search retargeting vs. site retargeting. I’ve seen marketers using the same ads for each method, and that’s a big no-no. Remember, the users probably don’t know you or your brand yet with search retargeting, so it’s important to use a broader message, as they will be starting higher up in the conversion funnel. Once a user visits your site from a search retargeting campaign, they can then be placed into a site retargeting campaign with completely different messaging and goals.


Social Retargeting

Social retargeting is extremely similar to site retargeting, but instead of running your advertisements on display networks, you are using social media (Facebook, usually) to reach that audience. This tactic works well for gaining new fans, increasing page engagement, and of course, recapturing lost conversions. Create your own custom audiences to make the messaging more personal. For example, if you know a user has already purchased, you could run a Facebook retargeting offer campaign that gives a percentage off the next purchase in return for sharing with friends. Currently, working with a 3rd party vendor is usually the best option for social retargeting; however, running your campaigns directly through Facebook allows your ads to show on mobile, where a 3rd party cannot – so there are pros and cons to both approaches. You can be sure to expect much more from social retargeting in the coming months and years (and if you keep up with our blog, we’ll be sure to keep you informed!).


CRM Retargeting

One of the least known retargeting tactics, CRM retargeting, is when you use a mailing list (either email or even physical mail) to “match” the address to an online profile and display ads to that person. The match rate for CRM retargeting is anywhere between 20%-40% successful, depending on the provider you use and the list audience you are trying to target. There are numerous applications for CRM retargeting in direct marketing…but we’ll save that for another post.


Email Retargeting

Placing retargeting code in your email campaigns allows you to display advertisements to users who opened your email, but didn’t click. This is extremely powerful, but also extremely controversial, as it’s a more intrusive form of retargeting. It works by placing a line of code in your email that cookies a user upon opening. It’s also important to note that placing retargeting code may have a negative effect on your delivery rates, so make sure to test and weigh the pros and cons. Email retargeting will not work with Google Remarketing code, so you’ll need to use a 3rd party vendor (see below for a list).


Contextual or Behavioral Retargeting

Contextual retargeting is somewhat of a mix of site and search retargeting. However, instead of displaying advertisement to users who have visited your site, you are targeting users who have viewed or engaged with similar content (and/or with similar intent). Think of contextual retargeting as extremely focused display targeting based on user interests and actions. This tactic is great for capturing user interest in a broad category before diving into a hard sell of the brand. It’s often used at the top of the purchase funnel to drive users closer to the ultimate goal – conversion.


Examples of How to Use Retargeting in your Direct Marketing Campaigns:

While there are a virtually unlimited number of campaigns you can run with retargeting (depending on intent, industry, channels, etc.), we’ll try to get your wheels turning with some common use cases. Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit yourself to a single channel – you can capture a user with one retargeting method, and then convert them with another. Without boring you with a long list, here are a few basic examples that most direct marketers (and even retargeting newbies) can apply to their business and marketing campaigns.


Generic Examples:

  • Direct Mail -> PURL -> Site Retargeting – for users who didn’t convert
  • Email -> Email Retargeting – for users who opened, but didn’t click
  • Direct Mail List -> CRM Retargeting – for branding in anticipation of mail delivery
  • Direct Mail -> Conversion -> Social Retargeting – for referrals or upsells
  • Search Retargeting -> Partial Conversion -> Site Retargeting – to capture and convert


Popular Retargeting Networks:

If you’ve read this far, you know I made reference to 3rd party retargeting vendors earlier in the article, and promised to provide more details. There are pros and cons to using a 3rd party, and each vendor has its own strong points. Adroll is great for beginners, but lacks some of the features of Retargeter (though Retargeter has significant spend minimums). Google is great is you’re just getting started, or running a relatively simple campaign. If you are serious about retargeting, I suggest taking a look at each to determine which is best for you and your business or campaign. As always, feel free to use the comment section or contact form if you have questions or if you’d like some help choosing!


Most popular retargeting companies:

  • Google Remarketing
  • Retargeter
  • Adroll
  • Perfect Audience
  • Chango
  • Rocket Fuel
  • Bing Remessaging



OK, so now that we’ve covered a lot of the basics, here are some actionable suggestions to ensure you are getting the most out of your retargeting campaigns.


  • Understand and map out the various uses/goals for your campaigns ahead of time.
  • Create extremely defined segments and audiences based on your goals.
  • Make sure your audiences don’t overlap – too many ads and calls to action will hurt conversions.
  • Create relevant messaging and visuals for your advertisements.
  • Set ad impression caps – you don’t want to come off creepy or annoying.
  • Filter out websites in your display networks that are underperforming or offensive to your users.
  • Constantly test for each ad size, each goal, and for each audience.
  • Measure and repeat until you’re a pro at retargeting.
  • Once you’re a pro – try your hand at dynamic retargeting.
  • Write a blog post about retargeting to share the knowledge J


So that’s retargeting in a nutshell. In short, there are unlimited possibilities for integrating retargeting into your direct marketing campaigns. The use cases and potential methods will continue to expand as more and more ad networks (and social networks) open up to retargeting vendors and external software platforms. In the last two and a half years, we’ve already gone from simple site retargeting to contextual retargeting with dynamic ads – so there’s no telling what the future of retargeting may hold for marketers…I for one am excited.

Do you have any other retargeting tips, suggestions or questions? Maybe some other retargeting use cases for direct marketers? We’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments section below.


Until next time…happy marketing!

7 of the Biggest Adwords Mistakes

Adwords can be confusing for people new in the marketing world. When learning, be sure to not commit these mistakes and you will be well on your way to success.


1) Using broad match without negative keywords

This is the biggest mistake you can make by far. If you are using broad match keywords, you should be constantly checking what search terms your ads are appearing for (typical located in the “dimensions” tab). Using an analytics platform and common sense, add  new negative keywords to your campaign every day for the first couple weeks. After you gain some experience this timeframe can gradually increase to every other day or even once a week…but never longer than once a week. And don’t forget that you can add negative keywords by exact, phrase and broad match as well.


2) Not setting correct geographic targets or devices

Be smart with who you target. If you don’t ship products to Canada, then you don’t want to show ads there…duh! Local businesses should not waste their money by showing ads nationally. Using the same concept, do not pay for ads that appear on mobile phones if your site is not mobile friendly. Or if you have an all flash site – you probably don’t want to run ads on an Ipad. All of this can be configured in the “settings” tab.


3) Not setting up conversion tracking

When setting up an ad campaign, how would you know what works and what does not without analytics? The same applies for conversions, if your ads are leading to increased traffic, that is great but you want to make sure they are converting into customers. If they are not, reconsider a stronger call to action.


4) Not using remarketing

This might not seem like a big mistake since you are not wasting money, however when you realize how much money you could be making by using remarketing…you’ll change your mind. If you target visitors who have already been to your site with a specific message based on how deep they went and to what parts they visited you, why wouldn’t you? Remarketing ads allow you to stay in the forefront of their mind throughout their time online (or until they clear their cookies) and you ONLY pay when they actually click your ad. You can show your ads on some of the most popular sites online thousands of times for little cost.


5) Not testing different ad copy AT ALL TIMES

Think of it like this. Even if you have an incredibly successful ad that’s making you lots of money…it could always be better. Nothing in this world is perfect. Perhaps using an exclamation point instead of a period or using capital instead of lowercase letters will increase that successful ad’s conversion rate by 15%. Even something as small as using instead of as the display URL can make a difference. Guess what? You’ll never know unless you try. People get tired of seeing the same things over and over so you should be continuously testing, or a few months down the road that successful ad might not look so successful anymore.


6) Not testing ad extensions

If Google told you “hey, we want to make your ad more visible by offering you the option of adding a clickable phone number, site links, showing your address, or displaying your products”, would you say no? If you did you would be committing one of the top 7 biggest Adwords mistakes possible. I’m not going to tell you they help 100% of advertisers…but they help most of us once we have done some testing.


7) Focusing on CTR rather than ROI

Awesome, your ad has an average position of 1 and a CTR of 22%! That’s great right? Well, that depends. It’s not great if you have an average CPC of $11 and a conversion rate of 0.0%. You don’t make money by getting your ads clicked; you make money by making visitors buy your products. CTR is relative to average position. So pay less attention to click though rate, and more attention to ROI.


Adwords can be confusing for people new in the marketing world. When learning, be sure to not commit these mistakes and you will be well on your way to success.

The Ultimate Website Audit Guide – 10 Steps to SEO Success

10 steps to SEO website success. Things change in the SEO world frequently and what works today may not work tomorrow. Take a look at what you can do now to start.


When I am doing an audit for a client or even as a favor to a friend there are guidelines I like to follow to help me identify weaknesses, strengths, and potential issues more quickly and efficiently. Honestly, I have almost even begun to like auditing websites thanks to this tried and true method…almost.


1) Look For The Redirects

Does a site redirect its duplicate content? For example I would be checking to make sure that all pages on redirected to If they are not 301 redirected, then I will be looking for the use of a rel=”canonical” tag on those pages. If I find neither of these things – then at least I know what my first suggestion is going to be!


2) Check for Page Titles, Meta Tags, H Tags & Alt Tags

During this step I want to make sure that every page is using unique page titles and meta tags…while intelligently making use of all H tags and alt tags. Once again, if this is not being done, it’s another quick and easy fix that can lead to better rankings.


3) Check for Broken Links

When auditing a site, checking for broken links is near the top of my priority list. With access to applications and software like Google/Bing Webmaster Tools and SEOMoz checking for broken links is a breeze. After identifying the broken links, I simply fix them…end of story… unless of course there are 1,000’s of broken links. That usually signals much larger issues (that I will cover in step 9).


4) Scan for Duplicate Content

While this step is not always practical for large sites with 10,000+ pages, I at least like to start by using different methods to navigate to the same page. For example, in a personalized invitation site I might search by both “occasion” and “product type” to reach the same product. Once there I will check to see if the URL is consistent no matter how the page is reached. There are also numerous tools that can be used to check for duplicate content.


5) Examine Link Profile

One of the most important factors of any site audit – the link profile will give you a good picture of what a site is doing right and wrong in the world of online marketing. I usually check the total number of links, number of unique linking domains, distribution of links to the domain, no follow vs. follow links, and the distribution of the various types of links. This step is very time consuming – but it gives me a great picture of where a site may be lacking in terms of inbound links. Tools like OpenSiteExplorer are also great for looking at the authority of each inbound link at other unique characteristics like MozRank and MozTrust.


6) Keyword Analysis – Are they realistic?

This is one of the most important steps of any site audit. Some SEO ignorant sites simply choose to target the wrong keywords. You can be optimized from here to the moon and still not see any returns from certain keywords. Most of the time unrealistic keywords are either: too difficult to rank for, or do not have enough search volume to justify the resources spent in optimizing for them.


7) Check Site on Different Browsers

This step is much easier when you have access to an analytics platform. Simply pull up site usage statistics by browser to identify which browsers are underperforming. After identifying potential issues, simply view your site in the aforementioned browsers to see where the problems lie. Tools like Browserstack are also helpful for identifying trouble areas.


8) Level of Indexation

One of the most overlooked statistics, depth of indexation, can play a significant role in the total amount of traffic. If a page isn’t indexed, you’re simply not going to rank for it. If certain pages are not indexed I try resubmitting sitemaps to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. If the pages still are not indexed I look at what the problems could be. Are they too deep within the navigation? Perhaps there are duplicate content issues? I try fixing any obvious issues…if none can be found I will suggest to start building off site links to that page, as well as increase internal linking.


9) Site Architecture, URL Structure and Internal Navigation/Linking

This is often the most difficult part of any SEO audit to fix. Problems with information architecture and URL structure can require drastic website reorganization which can often affect conversion rates. This is not something to be taken lightly. But if a problem is identified it needs to be fixed. Remember to have a good game plan when implementing these changes, and test as much as possible before making the switch. 301 redirects will most likely be needed – especially when making your URLs friendlier and less dynamic. Make sure you have a good plan in place so that you do not lose any link value your pages may have.


10) Usability and the Obvious

These are the things often missed in a website audit. Things like “about us”, “FAQ” and other essential pages can be overlooked; though they often contribute just as much to the bottom line as any other pages on a site. Even things like the checkout page should be examined. I once made a recommendation to initiate a credit card option at checkout (other than only PayPal, which by the way takes most major credit cards) and conversion rates have increased 350% ever since. The main concept here is to take a step back and look at the website objectively as if it is brand new to you. Sometimes people who are too close to a site can miss the obvious…


But remember…even the best SEO website audits are useless unless the findings are expressed in a clear and realistic action plan. These 10 steps to SEO website audit success should be performed periodically and not just once a year or less. Things change in the SEO world frequently and what works today may not work tomorrow. Just remember to keep your content fresh and your methods fresher.