Is Your Marketing Working? See How Your Results Compare with These Digital Marketing Stats

By Hillary Bressler, Travel and Hospitality Marketing Lead, Pinch Hit Partners

Digital Marketing Stats for Marketers Who Keep Ahead of the Game

Stats are the lifeblood of good marketers.

The funny thing is that many marketers got into marketing because they thought they had a lack of solid math skills in school and thus went the route of the non-math related careers in school.  This is a bad joke as we come to find out that the marketer’s entire career revolves around math.  Budgets, column inch, pixels, impressions, conversions, percentages and the good old statistic.

Marketers have come to have a love hate relationship with math, except that of the statistic. The statistic drives us and gives us ideas.  Marketers love statistics.

There are many statistics out there that are completely useless to marketers whose main goal is to increase sales or drive recognition of a brand.  For example, global mobile ad spending is expected to reach 247.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.  This stat is interesting to marketers, but it does not help us drive traffic to businesses or our clients. Yes, it tells us that the mobile industry is not going away, and we keep an eye on it to watch for major shifts, but it doesn’t fuel us.

I have compiled stats that fuel marketers and engage the thinking process.  Each one can spark an idea or help marketers convince key stakeholders to move budgets around to support this ever changing digital landscape.

If these stats are not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.

The times in digital marketing are changing….rapidly.

So fast I would consider many strategies, like mobile, to be considered an emergency. With mobile now representing 69% of digital media time spent (comScore, 2017) the time to shift to mobile was yesterday.

In addition, 37% of all online spending in the United States and Europe is now made through Amazon. This figure is 57% for US consumers (Salmon 2017).

You may hate stats or love them, but you can’t leave them. Here are some of the most worthwhile.

Local Search

  • 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (WordStream, 2016)
  • 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase. (Google, 2016)
  • 18% of local searches done on mobile devices lead to a sale within a day (Junto 2017)
  • Leads from search engines have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (ex. cold-calling, direct mail, etc.) have a 1.7% close rate. (Junto 2017)

Lead Generation

  • Both desktop and mobile ads deliver branding effectiveness but mobile ads perform better – particularly at the bottom of the funnel (comScore, The Global Mobile report 2017)
  • Nearly 80% of companies not meeting their revenue goals attract 10,000 monthly website visitors or less. Those exceeding their revenue goals, 70% report attracting more than 10,000 visitors per month. (HubSpot, 2015)
  • The  less companies know about their KPIs, the less likely they are to meet their revenue goals. 74% of companies that weren’t exceeding revenue goals did not know their visitor, lead, MQL, or sales opportunities. (HubSpot, 2015)
  • 24% of marketers don’t know whether their efforts resulted in closed-won deals. (BrightTALK, 2015)
  • 72% of organizations that calculate ROI say their marketing strategy is effective. (HubSpot, 2016)

Conversion

  • Bounce rates increase by 50% if your website takes 2 seconds extra to load. (Junto 2017)
  • Conversions fall by 12% for every extra second that it takes your website to load. (Junto 2017)
  • Average e-commerce conversion rates are 1% – 2%. Even if you are doing everything right, you can still expect to win the sale around 2% of the time (BigCommerce 2017)
  • Advertisers that implemented Influencer Marketing in 2016 received $11.69 in Earned Media Value (EMV) on average for every $1.00 they spent (RhythmOne)
  • For the majority of online transactions, the path from awareness to conversion is very short — 71% of consumers make their purchase within a week of awareness or desire  (KPMG Global Survey – the truth about consumers 2017)
  • Users who have a bad mobile user experience are 60% less likely to revisit and purchase from that brand in the future (Smart Insights 2017)
  • 53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2017)
  • 64% of consumers say that watching a video on social media influenced them to make a purchase (Animoto, 2017)
  • Average page load speed on mobile sites is 22 seconds. A 10 second page load time has a 123% higher bounce rate than a 1 second page load time (Think With Google, 2017)
  • Mobile loading times are way behind the 2-second target. (Marketing Charts, Google)

  • Global cart abandonment rates have increased 1.3% (up on the previous quarter) to 76.9% (SalesCycle, The re-marketing report)
  • Titles with 6-13 words attract the highest and most consistent amount of traffic. (HubSpot, 2016)

Content Strategy

  • 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Demand Gen Report, 2016)
  • B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only 4-5 times per month. (HubSpot, 2015)
  • B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. (HubSpot, 2015) 62 percent of B2C content marketers outsource at least one part of their company’s content marketing activity. (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts. (HubSpot, 2015)
  • 78% of B2B buyers use case studies when researching purchases – DemandGen
  • The average blog post is now 1,142 words (up 41% since 2014) – Orbit Media
  • User-generated content has a 4.5% higher conversion rate (Sprout Soical, 2017)

Facebook

  • 85% of Facebook users watch videos with the sound off.   (Social Sprout)
  • Captioned video ads can increase video view time by an average of 12% (Social Sprout)
  • The Average CPC for Facebook Ads Is $1.72 and $0.63 for travel & hospitality (Wordstream)

  • The average click-through rate in Facebook ads across all industries is .90% and is .90% for travel and hospitality. (WordStream 2017)
  • People Aged 18-29 Are the Most Prevalent Facebook Users (65+ Is the Least)
  • 82% of Facebook Users Have Attended at Least Some College

  • Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. (Buzzsumo, 2015)
  • Facebook sends 82% of social media traffic to longer stories and 84% of social traffic to shorter news articles. (Pew Research Center, 2016)
  • The most effective length for an ad title on Facebook is four words, and 15 words for a link description. (Social Sprout)
  • 39% of users like or follow a Facebook page to receive a special offer. (Socialsprout)
  • 19% of Time Spent on Mobile Devices Is on Facebook (Social Sprout)

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn is the only major social media platform for which usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-year-olds than among 18- to 29-year-olds.  (Pew Research Center, 2015)
  • 70% of Linkedin users are from Outside of US. After US, India, Brazil, Great Britain and Canada has the highest number of Linkedin users.(Omnicore)
  • 59% of Linkedin members have never worked at a company with more than 200 employees. (Omnicore)

Pinterest

  • 71% of Pinterest’s users are women. (Search Engine Land, 2015)
  • Pinners are just as likely to purchase as users from other social channels, but spend 50% more on average compared to other social channels. (Hub Spot)
  • 45% of people on Pinterest use the app while watching TV. (Pinterest, 2016)
  • 36% of Pinterest users fall between the ages of 18 and 29. In a close second, Gen Xers make-up 34% of Pinterest’s audience.  (Pinterest 2016)

Snapchat

  • 52% of Snapchat users are under the age of 25. (Statista, 2016)
  • 79% of US teens (13-18) use Snapchat.  (Snap Chat)

  • 30% of U.S. millennial internet users use Snapchat regularly. (eMarketer, 2015)
  • 80% of Snapchat users use the app at a restaurant.  (eMarketer, 2015)
  • 66% of Snapchat users use the app while shopping  (eMarketer, 2015)
  • 50% of Snapchat users use the app at gyms (eMarketer, 2015)
  • 49%  of Snapchat users use the app at airports (eMarketer, 2015)

Twitter

  • 30% of online adults under 50 use Twitter, compared with 11% of online adults ages 50 and older. (Pew Research Center, 2015)
  • Twitter has nearly 4X as many users internationally as in the U.S. (Pew Research Center, 2016)

YouTube

  • 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities (Google, 2016)
  • On mobile alone in an average week, YouTube reaches more 18+ year-olds during prime time TV hours than any cable TV network. (Google, 2016)
  • Two-thirds of YouTube users watch YouTube on a second screen while watching TV at home. (Google, 2016)
  • YouTube is more commonly used by larger businesses. For example, 71% of businesses with 100+ employees use YouTube, compared to 38% of the self-employed. (Social Media Examiner, 2015)
  • YouTube has over a billion users, almost one-third of all people on the Internet. (YouTube, 2016) In an average month, 8 out of 10 18- to 49-year-olds watch YouTube. (Google, 2016)
  • Among millennials, YouTube accounts for two-thirds of the premium online video watched across devices. (Google, 2016)
  • The time people spend watching YouTube on their TV has more than doubled year over year. (Google, 2016)

Social Media Management

  • By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media. (Social Media Examiner, 2015)
  • At least 61% of those investing a minimum of six hours per week in social media marketing saw improvements in search engine rankings. (Social Media Examiner, 2015)

Visual Content

  • Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (Buffer, 2014)
  • Articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images. (Buzzsumo, 2015)
  • Research has shown that when people hear information, they are likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (LifeLearn, 2015)
  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content. (Mass Planner, 2015)

Video Content

  • 47% of the Value of Facebook Video Ads Happens in the First 3 Seconds (Social Sprout)
  • 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. (Animoto, 2015)
  • Almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. (Google, 2016)
  • 53% of smartphone users feel more favorable towards companies whose mobile sites or apps provide instructional video content. (Google, 2015)
  • 4 in 5 consumers believe that demo videos are helpful. Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers. (Animoto, 2015)
  • 55% of people consume video content thoroughly. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users. (Aberdeen, 2015)
  • Nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds. (Animoto, 2015)
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. (Adobe, 2015)

Email Conversion

  • The best time of day to send emails is between 4pm and 8pm. (Experian, Marketing Charts)
  • Email notifications about abandoned carts have a 40.5% open rate. (eMarketer, 2015)
  • As the number of images in an email increases, the clickthrough rate of the email tends to decrease. (HubSpot, 2014)
  • PC and tablet users have unique click rates of 3.8%, a 40% increase over the 2.7% mobile click rate (MailChimp, Impact of Mobile use on Email 2017)
  • Open rate has increased from 35% to 58%, unique open rate has increased from 15% to 25%, click rate has decreased from 10.8% to 3.8%, unique click rate has increased from 2.1% to 2.5% (SendGrid, 2017 Global Email Benchmark Report)
  • Open rates are 14.31% higher in segmented campaigns than in non-segmented campaigns (MailChimp, 2017)

Email Copy

  • 64% of people prefer rich text emails. (HubSpot, 2014)
  • Email subject lines that include the words “thank you” have the highest above-average engagement levels. (Adestra, 2015)
  • Emails that included the first name of the recipient in their subject line had higher clickthrough rates than emails that did not. (HubSpot, 2014)
  • The open rate for emails with a personalized message was 17.6%, compared to 11.4% without personalization. (Statista, 2014)
  • 66% of unsubscribes occur between 5 and 10 p.m. (Tomasz Tunguz, 2015)

Mobile Email

  • Outside of work, Americans most commonly check their email while watching TV (70%), from bed (52%), on vacation (50%), while on the phone (43%), from the bathroom (42%), and even while driving (18%). (Adobe, 2015)
  • 75% of Gmail users access their accounts on mobile devices. (TechCrunch, 2015)
  • 48% of emails are opened on a smartphone. (Movable Ink, 2015)

Display Advertising

  • Across all ad formats and placements Ad CTR is just 0.05% (Smart Insights 2018)
  • Rich media Ad CTR is 0.1% (Smart Media 2018)
  • 91% of people say ads are more intrusive today than two years ago. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 73% of people dislike pop-up ads. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 72% of consumers say they would have a lower opinion of a brand if they subjected the consumer to a pop-up ad. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 81% of consumers have closed a browser or exited a webpage because of a pop-up ad. (HubSpot, 2016)

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

  • Across the Bing and Yahoo search networks, search spend bounced up 32 percent year over year, while click volume growth increased from just 1 percent in Q3 to 14 percent in Q4. CPCs were up 15 percent year over year in Q4 compared to just 5 percent in Q3. (Search Engine Land 2018)
  • Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. (Google Economic Impact Report)
  • Giant retailers can spend up to $50 million per year on paid search in AdWords. The average small business using AdWords spends between $9,000 and $10,000 per month on their Google paid search campaigns. That’s $100,000 to $120,000 per year. (May 21, 2015)
  • 64.6% of people click on Google ads when they are looking to buy an item online. (WordStream, 2016)
  • Mobile devices produced 55% of Google search ad clicks in Q4 2017, but just 14% of Bing ads clicks. (Wordstream 2017)

  • The average cost-per-click (CPA) in AdWords across all industries is $2.32 on the search network and $0.58 on the display network. (WordStream, 2016)
  • When it comes to paid social media ads, the overwhelming majority use Facebook ads (84%), followed by Google ads (41%) and LinkedIn ads (18%). (Social Media Examiner, 2015)
  • Which marketing trend will be most important to you and your business in 2018?

Here Are My Takeaways..

Mobile will continue to be a major area of focus for advertisers on both search and display. As the price increases, ensure that your landing pages are optimized for load time and experience on mobile.

We see content marketing as the ‘engagement’ fuel that powers all digital communications from search to social to email marketing to creating website experiences which convert.

Speaking of major areas of focus…how ‘bout that Bing?! The unfortunately oft-forgotten search engine clearly became a bigger factor for many advertisers in Q4 2018; as you look to diversify your marketing channels in 2018, be sure to give Bing some serious consideration, particularly if you’ve had success advertising on mobile devices in the past.

I feel fortunate to have followed some of the amazing major changes in digital marketing and technology over the last 20 years. I am a firm believer that it is the companies that are 18 months ahead of the curve that will always be the winners and get the benefit like low CPC before the competition finds out.  Looking back, we’ve seen a phenomenal growth in the importance of organic, then paid search, then social media and more recently, incredible worldwide growth in mobile and particularly smart phone usage. I always encourage companies to take a percentage of their budget and throw it to new and emerging marketing and see what sticks.

Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from www.HotelExecutive.com.

 

Still confused? Request a free consultation with a Pinch Hit Partners consultant.

Digital Marketing Executive Hillary Bressler Joins Pinch Hit Partners, Will Serve Clients as a Fractional CMO and Travel and Hospitality Marketing Lead

Pinch Hit Partners is proud to announce the addition of Hillary Bressler to the company’s growing roster of marketing consultants and fractional Chief Marketing Officers. Bressler is a nationally regarded digital marketing executive and founder of .Com Marketing, the agency she sold to Edgecore in 2014. “Hillary was one of the first marketers to embrace pay-per-click advertising,” said Pinch Hit Partners founder Mark Cipolletti. “Her ability to forecast trends and opportunities will help us attract new clients, especially those CEOs and business owners who are struggling to keep up with the constantly changing world of marketing.” 

One thing that hasn’t changed much in marketing is how companies resource their work. “I was attracted to Pinch Hit Partners’ business model because I see fractional CMOs and outsourced marketing departments as a new and better way for companies to accomplish their marketing goals,” said Bressler. “Some of the best marketing practitioners are now working independently in the Gig Economy. Pinch Hit Partners takes advantage of this like no one else. It’s a game changer for small and mid-size companies,” said Bressler.

Bressler will be based in Orlando, Florida, a city and state known for an abundance of national travel brands. During her 20 years as an agency owner, she served many of the world’s leading travel and hospitality companies such as Marriott and Universal Studios. “At Pinch Hit Partners, she will lead our travel industry practice. She will also be a lead consultant for clients who need to advance their digital marketing capabilities,” said Cipolletti. 

Bressler started her career at the Golf Channel, launching their first website in 1995 and leading cutting-edge digital marketing strategies for the cable provider. In 2009, she co-authored a book, Discover Your Inner Strength (Cutting Edge Growth Strategies From Industry’s Leading Experts), with Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy. She is also a sought after speaker on the topic of digital marketing.

About Pinch Hit Partners

Your company’s growth is too important to be left to anyone other than a senior marketing executive. Pinch Hit Partners provides your small or mid-size company with a part-time or fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to lead your marketing function at the highest level possible. If needed, Pinch Hit Partners also provides outsourced marketing departments to execute marketing programs with quality and efficiency. For companies seeking industry-specific marketing experts, we offer consultants with specialities in travel and hospitality, insurance, franchises, sports, digital marketing and more.

Learn more at www.pinchhitpartners.com or contact Mark Cipolletti at mark@pinchhitpartners.com.

Tell us about your marketing challenge.

 

Case Study: Virginia Council of CEOs Embraces Marketing Automation to Grow Beyond Richmond Base

Client:

Virginia Council of CEOs

The Situation:

The Virginia Council of CEOs has more than 200 members, mostly from the Richmond area. When the Council’s Board of Directors decided to expand its membership to the Charlottesville area, the organization’s Executive Director turned to Pinch Hit Partners.

The Challenge:

The Council’s brand awareness was limited to the Richmond area. They needed an efficient way to connect with busy executives in a new market. The Council’s Executive Director also doubles as their primary salesperson, so frequent travel to another city would be limited. The Council also relied on three separate programs to manage membership, sales and communications. These programs lacked new capabilities like marketing automation and demanded abundant staff time to manage.

“Pinch Hit Partners has transformed the way we market our organization.”   

                                 – Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, Virginia Council of CEOs

The Solution:

Pinch Hit Partners consultant Mark Cipolletti implemented a LinkedIn campaign targeted at Charlottesville CEOs and business owners. Sponsored posts would only be seen by the target audience in the target market – no waste, no extra cost. The campaign’s call-to-action was an invitation to a series of informational lunches and cocktail parties. These group sessions allowed the Executive Director to consolidate his time in the new market and to demonstrate the Council’s skill for hosting excellent programming.

Cipolletti also identified a single marketing technology, Hatchbuck, to replace the Council’s three legacy tools. Hatchbuck collects online leads and automates emails, campaigns and sales tasks that would have been done manually in the past. These efficiencies will become even more important as the organization expands to additional markets in the future.

Virginia Council of CEOs LinkedIn post

The Result:

As a result of Pinch Hit Partners’ work, the Virginia Council of CEOs has successfully gained about two-dozen new members from the Charlottesville area. The tools and processes that were developed for this market expansion are now being considered as the organization looks at additional Virginia cities for membership growth.

The Reaction:

“Pinch Hit Partners has transformed the way we market our organization. Now our sales, marketing and communications are nicely integrated and we have a single platform like Hatchbuck to manage everything. We’re so glad we followed Mark’s recommendations. It’s been a game-changer for the Virginia Council of CEOs.”   – Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, Virginia Council of CEOs

 

About Pinch Hit Partners

Pinch Hit Partners is a Richmond, VA-based company that’s disrupting how marketing gets done for small and medium-sized companies by providing them with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing team or contracting with an expensive full-service creative agency. Learn more at www.pinchhitpartners.com. Contact Mark Cipolletti at mark@pinchhitpartners.com.

A conversation doesn’t cost you a thing. Contact us today to learn more about how Pinch Hit Partners can transform your marketing and sales.

 

 

We’re looking for Pinch Hitters in Richmond, VA

Pinch Hit Partners, the premier resource for fractional marketing consultants, is looking for new pinch hitters to join our team in Richmond, VA.

If you are a senior marketer interested in a flexible schedule, we can connect you with small and mid-sized companies looking for experts like you. As a fractional head of marketing, you’ll provide your clients with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own staff or contracting with an expensive full-service agency.

Pinch Hitters typically work with CEOs and business owners to develop strategy and to assemble a team of remote specialists to execute on the plan (if an in-house team isn’t already in place). If you are interested, please send your resume to Mark Cipolletti at mark@pinchhitpartners.com.

Evolution Divorce Selects Pinch Hit Partners to Launch New Legal Brand in Richmond

Veteran family law attorney Christopher Macturk has selected Pinch Hit Partners to help launch his new family law practice, Evolution Divorce & Family Law, PLLC in Richmond’s West End. Evolution Divorce will assist clients with separation, divorce and child custody issues, but that’s where the similarity with its competitors ends.

“I wanted to create a firm that’s built around the clients, not around the lawyers,” says Macturk. He plans to differentiate the firm by offering pre-agreed pricing instead of hourly billing as well as providing his clients with a service guarantee. Evolution Divorce and its clients will enter into an attorney-client relationship only if they have first agreed upon the work to be done and the price for that work.

“I see Evolution Divorce as a disruptor in my industry and it’s important to me to work with someone like Mark who has a similar approach. He’s disrupting the local marketing scene with Pinch Hit Partners,” says Macturk.

“With hourly billing, clients never know how much they will spend by the completion of their case. This creates unnecessary anxiety during an already stressful period in their lives,” says Macturk. During his 20-year legal career, he has often experienced clients who have been reluctant to contact him or share important information for fear that the conversation would add to the overall bill.

Evolution has selected Pinch Hit Partners to develop its brand and implement a strategic marketing plan. Pinch Hit Partners’ founder Mark Cipolletti serves as Evolution’s fractional head of marketing and oversees a virtual team of marketing specialists.

EvolutionDivorce-logo-RGB_primary

Pinch Hit Partners’ first assignment was to help create a name that would send a clear message to potential clients that Macturk’s new firm was unique. “Chris said from the beginning that this firm isn’t about him and he didn’t want to use his last name as most attorneys do. We tested several names and landed on Evolution Divorce. The name, the pricing model…it’s the evolution of family law,” says Cipolletti.

“I see Evolution Divorce as a disruptor in my industry and it’s important to me to work with someone like Mark who has a similar approach. He’s disrupting the local marketing scene with Pinch Hit Partners,” says Macturk.

Pinch Hit Partners was created to provide small and medium-sized companies with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing staffs or contracting with expensive creative agencies. Each Pinch Hit Partners account is led by a fractional, senior-level marketer who selects a team of specialists to meet a client’s unique needs. “You get the best of both worlds but without having to pay for all of the overhead,” says Cipolletti, a former head of marketing and communications at Allianz Global Assistance, Connexions Loyalty and Sheltering Arms.

About Pinch Hit Partners

Pinch Hit Partners is a Richmond, VA-based company that’s disrupting how marketing gets done for small and medium-sized companies by providing them with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing team or contracting with an expensive full-service creative agency. Learn more at www.pinchhitpartners.com. Contact Mark Cipolletti at mark@pinchhitpartners.com.

Tell us about your marketing challenge.

Going on the road this week to the Virginia Council of CEOs retreat

Pinch Hit Partners is a proud sponsor of the Virginia Council of CEOs. This week, we’ll be attending the Council’s annual CEO Retreat at the Homestead Resort. We’re looking forward to connecting with CEOs from Richmond and Charlottesville as well as our friends on the Council’s staff. Over the last few months, we’ve been working with the staff to expand their marketing capabilities. Check out the video to learn more.

See you at the Homestead.

Breathe new life into your brand using these 4 market disruption techniques

Over the last decade, the internet has fueled the growth of disruptors in every market segment. For many years, I worked in the travel industry where travel agents, tour operators and hoteliers saw their businesses forever changed by brands like Expedia, Travelocity, Jetsetter and Airbnb. Hailing a taxi cab has been replaced with Uber, Lyft and Safr. And buying a car has been transformed by the likes of TrueCar, Carvana, Beepi and CarLotz. The list goes on.

Market disruption is a form of differentiation, a way for a brand to stand out amongst its competition. Disruptors understand that simply focusing on price or service just won’t cut it anymore. They use a multi-dimensional approach to differentiating their offerings to gain adoption from buyers and attention from the media and investors. Try taking a page from the disruptor’s playbook to breathe new life into your company’s brand.

Here are four techniques to consider:

Refresh Your Branding

Disruptors are master branders. They develop clearly articulated brand personalities and visual identities. Most disruptors do very little advertising, instead they are community builders that rely on their customers to share their brands through word-of-mouth. So, consider a brand refresh and look for ways to encourage sharing by your customers. Disruptors love one-word company names too. Some may sound a little silly but Uber certainly works better than ABC Cab Company.

Simplify

Legacy providers have spent years, and lots of money, building systems and processes to support their businesses. Most were built to serve the business, not necessarily the customer. Disruptors exploit this weakness, building customer-centric companies. Look at your business through the eyes of your customer and simplify your processes whenever possible. And don’t forget to take advantage of smartphone capabilities when selling and servicing your customers. These devices will soon overtake desktop computers and laptops when it comes to how people access the internet (and your business).

Collaborate with Customers

Disruptors know their customers and their competitors very well. They dig deep into data to unearth what drives their buyers to action. Survey your customers, engage with them on social media and create feedback opportunities during every interaction. Invite your customers to contribute to product development, marketing and other aspects of your businesses. Consumers love brands that build relationships with them and collaborate with them to provide a customized product or service.

Experiment and Iterate

Disruptors don’t spend years building new services. They experiment and iterate. Their services are constantly evolving, keeping what works and getting rid of what doesn’t. Launch new services with a select group of customers and make modifications quickly. Once you feel confident about your offer, ramp up your marketing to gain market share.

In a world where consumers are overwhelmed with the amount of marketing messages they see and hear on a daily basis, having a strong differentiation strategy will help your businesses stand out. What works today may not work tomorrow so it’s important to not become complacent and look for new opportunities to differentiate.

You may also like:

5 Ways to Grow Your Business (with the Customers You Already Have)

Audi Selects Richmond as Backdrop for New A4 Promo Video

Great Customer Experience Can’t Overcome an Inferior Product

About the author

Mark Cipolletti is the president of Pinch Hit Partners, a Richmond, VA-based marketing company that’s disrupting how marketing gets done for small and medium-sized companies by providing them with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing team or contracting with an expensive full-service creative agency. Learn more at www.pinchhitpartners.com. Contact Mark at mark@pinchhitpartners.com or on LinkedIn.

Photo Credit: CarLotz

Updated: 7 Indispensable Tools for Becoming a Successful Solopreneur

Please note: This list represents some of the best productivity tools that I have found for freelancers, solopreneurs and small business CEOs. Since its original publication in 2017, several of the featured tools have updated their pricing and features. The changes are reflected in this new version.

So, are you thinking about leaving your comfortable corporate or agency gig to go solo? There’s a lot to consider – will you need to obtain health insurance?, do you have a home office?, do you have money in the bank to supplement your earnings until you build up your business? Being a solopreneur can be a little scary but the rewards can be great too.

In 2016 there were 55 million Americans working independently according to Freelancers Union.

I made the leap about two years ago with no prior experience working “virtually”. In the beginning, I needed to figure out a ton of things that I used to take for granted – things like how I would create a contract or how I would track my mileage and business expenses. I am not alone. In fact, in 2016 there were 55 million Americans working independently according to Freelancers Union. That’s about 35% of the total workforce. With so many people joining “freelance nation” a host of companies have created tools to make their lives easier.

Here are a few of the tools that I have come to rely on to run Pinch Hit Partners, my virtual marketing agency. Most of them are free and all of them are easy to use (which is critical since you no longer have access to an on-call IT help desk). And these solutions aren’t just for solopreneurs. As your business grows, many of these technologies will easily scale up to accommodate more customers and employees.

Good luck!

Bonsai
[Free – $29 mo.]  Having a lawyer create your contracts will eat into your profits very quickly. Built for freelancers, Bonsai helps you create your contracts by asking you a series of questions and then generating the final document that your clients can e-sign. But that’s not all. Bonsai will also send branded invoices and payment reminders to help you get paid on time. Create proposals and track your time too. The basic service is free but processing fees will apply if you want to accept payments via PayPal, credit cards or bank transfers. Most users will choose the $16 mo. version that supports multiple projects.

Hatchbuck
[Starting at $89 mo.]  It’s time to put on your sales and marketing hat. Use Hatchbuck to add forms to your website and send emails to clients and prospects. Hatchbuck will automatically record their activities into an easy to use sales CRM. Marketing automation features allow you to set up drip marketing campaigns. Sure Hatchbuck doesn’t include some of the fancy features of big name marketing automation tools like Hubspot but it also only costs a fraction of what those companies charge. One of my clients recently consolidated three technologies (member management, email and CRM) into one by using Hatchbuck. They saved a few bucks but, more importantly, they’re now saving a ton of time by working in one system.

Wisestamp
[Free]  Turn every email you send into a small ad for your business by creating a custom signature from Wisestamp. Go beyond a sterile text-only signature and add your logo or one of the many “widgets” offered. My signature automatically includes a link to my newest blog post.

G-Suite/Google for Business
[Starting at $5 per month]  Nobody will take you seriously if you use a free Yahoo address or an old AOL email. You want to look professional right? Use Google to set up an email using your business name. You’ll also get a ton of free cloud storage and free G-suite for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Sorry Microsoft Office.

Assistant.to
[Free]  Like it’s name suggests, Assistant.to is like having an assistant to help you set up meetings. This tool integrates with Gmail and saves you and your client from going back and forth through trying to settle on a date and time. Just offer your attendee up to three meeting times in a single email. They choose one and Assistant.to adds it to their calendar and yours. Bonus: it prevents double booking too.

Everlance
[Free – $8 mo.]  Tracking your mileage is a pain in the neck. Everlance is an app that automatically records all of your trips. All you have to do is “swipe” to mark each as business, personal or charity. Everlance Premium also helps you record your business revenue and expenses. I love the ability to take photos of my receipts and my accountant appreciates receiving detailed CSV files for completing my taxes. 

Bitrix24
[Free – $199 mo.]  Small companies probably don’t have the luxury of employing project managers but, with Bitrix24, you can easily manage and collaborate on projects with employees, vendors and clients. I primarily use Bitrix24 for project management and client communications but there are other cool features like a built in intranet, CRM and even some basic marketing automation functionality. There’s even a mobile app for staying on task while on the go.

I’m always looking for ways to work smarter. If you have other tools that make working solo more efficient, I hope you’ll share.

About the author
Mark Cipolletti is the president of Pinch Hit Partners, a Richmond, VA-based marketing agency. Pinch Hit Partners provides small and mid-size companies with fractional CMOs and outsourced marketing teams. And unlike so-called full service creative agencies, our low/no overhead model is efficient and affordable while still providing access to the highest quality talent and technologies needed to grow your business. Contact Mark at mark@pinchhitpartners.com or on LinkedIn.

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