An effectively designed website is only one element of an effective web marketing ecosystem. To achieve effective  web presence and drive qualified leads, we developed an easy to remember mnemonic “AEIOU” (attract, engage, influence, optimize, understand).

AEIOU helps to consider the strategies that make up a digital marketing strategy. But to really power the  strategies, companies need marketing automation tools. Platforms like Hubspot (, Act-on ( and Marketo ( and many others  are very powerful ways to manage multi-stage buyer processes and map content and engagement at each stage of the process – nurturing relationships from awareness to customer.

When budgets are a little smaller or the sales cycle is a little less complex, we often recommend using a component-based approach as a marketing solution. Some of our preferred solution components and web services include:

  • WordPress content management system- we often recommend WordPress due to its ability to integrate nicely with other preferred web marketing systems and the ease of use our clients enjoy (
  • Unbounce landing page setup – easy to create and test marketing landing pages to drive qualified leads (
  • MailChimp – email marketing system – we set up custom email templates for this easy to use email marketing tool and measure the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns (
  • Revenizer – a marketing dashboard we created (sister company) specifically to help measure the effectiveness of web and social presence and increase revenue from web marketing campaigns (
  • CRM –  Salesforce is the leading CRM and is often a great choice, however it is worth looking at many of the more “social CRM” solutions like Batchbook.

In selecting these solutions, we recommend that you find sets of solutions that work well together with strong APIs and integrations. If your needs are not too complex a component based approach can be a very affordable and effective way to deliver marketing automation.


Somewhere between $0 and $3.5 million per item.  Usually closer to $0.

Surprised?  I hear it from people outside the industry all the time — they are convinced that evil manufacturers are paying supermarkets to have their items placed at exactly the right position on shelves.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s some truth to the idea that manufacturers pay supermarkets for placement.  Just not how you think.

Let’s say a supermarket currently has pasta shelved together by type of pasta — that is, all spaghetti is together, all ziti is together, and so on.  But I want my brand (let’s call it Asta Pasta) to have all of its varieties shelved together.  I feel like that might cause consumers to shop within my brand and maybe ignore some of the other brands in the section.

I might even have some data showing that Asta Pasta’s sales go through the roof when this shelving configuration changes.  But I’m not going to show that to anyone outside my company.

Instead, I’ll hire an outside consulting firm that will analyze the entire section — Asta Pasta, store brand, and competitors’ brands too.  And they’ll create a study that shows how sales for the entire section will improve if brands like Asta are placed together in blocks.

If you can fit this change into a supermarket’s usual shelf reset schedule and it’s not too drastic — and especially if you can show that the category will have amazing sales increases — it might cost a manufacturer absolutely nothing to have this change implemented, aside from the cost of the study (negligible, hopefully) and the cost of a sales call to the supermarket’s headquarters.  If it’s something more radical (and gets approved), the manufacturer might be on the hook for the cost of resetting the section — which might run $200 per store or more.

Where money comes into play is when a manufacturer wants to introduce a new item — one that didn’t have a spot on the shelf previously.  That’s generally called a slotting fee or slotting allowance.  And it can run up to $3.5 million per discrete item (per flavor and size combination — that is, per UPC) to be placed in every U.S. supermarket.  We’ll cover that in a coming post.

(Image: Used under a Creative Commons attribution license from Flickr user AndyCunningham)

An Overview of Lead Nurturing: For Every Business

Up to 95% of qualified prospects visiting your company’s website are there to research but are not yet ready to make a purchasing decision; ultimately, as many as 70% of these prospects will buy from you or your competitors. How do you gradually mold these prospective leads into buyers?

This is where lead nurturing comes in. A lead nurture program involves adapting calculated marketing strategies to share useful, relevant information with prospects regardless of how ready they may or may not be to buy. The goal is to establish your brand and build a relationship based on trust and credibility, which will ideally position you to be their first choice once they are ready to make a purchasing decision.

First, identify a set of new prospects by monitoring certain activity on your website, such as who has downloaded a white paper or filled out a form, and determine which leads are ready to be sent to sales and which need to be nurtured. This can be achieved through a lead scoring methodology, which should take into account demographic attributes; budget, authority, need, timeline (BANT); lead source; and level of engagement with your materials.

For those prospects that you have determined to be nurturing candidates, establish permission to be included in your nurturing campaign by asking prospects to opt in or out. This is the first step in building a relationship that is based on trust and relevancy. At the very least you need to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act by providing a clear way to opt out, but you might want to go the extra mile and ask for explicit permission on registration forms. Not only does this earn you the prospect’s trust by proving your concern for privacy, but it also increases your deliverability and sender reputation scores.

Throughout the nurturing process, gradually send pertinent information over time. Timing is critical; consider the duration of the buying process and the communication approaches you will use to determine the best frequency of communication. A general rule is to contact prospects at least one a month but no more than once a week.

Personalize the content of your communications to ensure that it will be relevant to your prospect, which will keep them interested in staying on your list. Develop profiles of your prospects that include characteristics that will help you best tailor your communications to their needs, rather than simply providing less valuable generic content.

Do not let leads sit at any point in the process. You should always be communicating with prospects and continuing to move them along a cycle, even if they are not ready to buy. Pay attention to a prospect’s activity and engagement with your website and adjust your communication according to these cues. Accelerate communication with prospects identified to have a higher interest, and reduce communication with prospects that are slower to respond.

By building a positive impression of your company and keeping the prospect engaged and interested throughout the lead nurturing process, they will be more likely to select your company once they decide it’s time to buy.