Marketing Performance Metrics Need to Be Just as Visible as Sales Metrics

Smarketing - Sales + MarketingWhen you think about the health of any business, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most people immediately go to sales numbers—pipeline, bookings, and revenue. And, they are not wrong. However, here at 3SixtySMB, we push our clients to focus on another aspect of the business: marketing. Let’s put this into context a bit. How often do you personally purchase a product or service from a business that you’ve never heard of before? If we are being honest with ourselves, the answer is “never” or “very rarely.” This is why we believe that tracking the performance of marketing is as equally important to the health of the business as tracking sales performance. Current statistics show that it takes an average of 5 – 7 impressions for people to remember a brand and that In 2015 Facebook influenced 52 percent of consumers’ online and offline purchases, up from 36 per cent in 2014.

Now, as a business, you can try the old school, brute-force method of focusing solely on outbound sales to generate revenue—and it does work. But in all honestly, this method is directly in line with the “working harder and not smarter” mentality, and it is guaranteed to lead to burnout of the team over time. There is the misconception that marketing equals huge expense, but that simply isn’t true; there is a significant amount of marketing that could be completed with zero budgeting dollars spent (just effort). We’ve already covered that in previous articles: Social Media and Online Forums, Hidden Gems of Customer Insight, The Importance of Testing in Marketing Campaigns, How To Develop A Social Media Marketing Strategy For Your Business and will continue to cover that down the road, but today we’ll talk about how to put a focus on marketing to boost overall corporate performance and morale.

A phrase we use quite frequently is “what gets measured, gets done”… However, we are also firm believers that if you really want something to be done, make sure everyone knows how a team is performing. With most organizations, this is done on a daily basis with respect to sales, as sales numbers are typically reported across the business in dashboards, update emails, and meetings. Yet, with respect to marketing, this almost never happens, and in most cases, no one knows how the company is performing from a marketing perspective. I’m reminded of my time with HubSpot. As a company, not only did they focus equally on sales and marketing performance, but they also adopted the terminology “Smarketing,” frequently combining sales and marketing in corporate communications and meetings. This ensured that both teams were on the same page and also gave everyone the sense of pride that they were all moving forward in the right direction as one team and company. In this vein, we always recommend to our clients to put the marketing team’s performance on a pedestal alongside sales.

At the very core of this, we recommend sharing at a minimum: website performance and lead performance, along with email and social media community growth on a weekly or monthly basis, paired alongside with trending data… But, these are the bare minimum and we always suggest tracking other items such as:

  • Percentage of new vs returning visitors
  • Average number of pages viewed
  • Average time on site
  • Most popular pages
  • Social campaign performance
  • Email marketing performance
  • Pipeline generated from marketing
  • Sales generated from marketing

Each and every one of these statistics provides some real insight to the marketing lifeblood of a company, and when combined with sales and trending data, they can truly lead to a deeper understanding of the real health of a business. Once you start measuring these data points, you can then try to find ways of continuous improvement to keep them moving in the right direction. Sharing these numbers publicly has an interesting side effect as well: it can boost morale … Again, thinking about HubSpot, one of the greatest things about sharing the numbers and trajectory is that it gave everyone a huge sense of pride in the business and was a large part of their culture: Why HubSpot Treats Its Culture as a Product. As a leader within your organization, give it a try and see how it affects the business… We can almost guarantee you’ll have a boost in corporate performance and morale.


Why Small Businesses Should Always Respond to Inquiries

Why Small Businesses Should Always Respond to InquiriesAs a consumer, one of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that most small business do not respond to inquiries. I’ve lost count, both personally and professionally, on how many times I’ve reached out to a business, only to never receive a response. We are talking anything from questions about a product or solution to direct buying questions on pricing and delivery timeframes—and yet, nothing… There is nothing that will guarantee a loss of business more than simply not following up on an inquiry.

With so many small businesses struggling to grow or keep their doors open, it still amazes us the staggering amount of businesses that ignore inquiries… The concept is not lost on us, that back in the day there was a heck of a lot less competition, and if you were truly good at what you did, there was a strong chance you were the only game in town and prospective buyers were practically knocking down your doors for business. Your brand and lack of competition essentially meant there were no real rivals. So, it would be in the best interest of a buyer to chase you down for work… But, that is no longer the case. The internet and services such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others have all drastically changed the playing field. This means you are no longer the only game in town and that your competition is only one click of a mouse away, literally… What this really boils down to is the fact that if you are not responding to a request for information within minutes of submission, you are exponentially more likely to lose that business to a competitor. Don’t believe us? Here are a few statistics about response time in relationship to closing business:

  • 78% of customers buy from the first responder.
  • Sales conversions are 391% higher in the first minute.
  • Taking longer than 5 minutes to respond amounts to an 80% decrease in lead qualification.


  • Companies that respond within the first hour were 7x more likely to qualify that lead than companies that waited beyond an hour.
  • Prospective buyers fill out 3-5 lead forms on average.
  • Calling a lead more than 5 minutes after a lead submission has a 46% lower qualification rate than calling in less than 5 minutes.
  • More than 65% of all conversions occur on the first call.


  • Odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes rather than 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.
  • Research from shows that 35–50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.


  • A rep is 100x less likely to make contact if the first call is made 30 minutes after submission. The odds of making contact drop by 3000x if the first call is made 5 hours after lead submission.
  • Increasing response rates from 27% to 92% causes a 314% lift in results.
  • If a lead is called within five minutes versus 30 minutes after it’s submitted, that lead is 100 times more likely to be contacted and 21 times more likely to enter the sales cycle.


At the fundamental base of these stats is that you have to respond to inquiries, and obviously, the faster the better… and we are not talking about just email and voicemail either. Services such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List and the countless other services have made it so that prospective buyers can reach out to vendors on a multitude of platforms. This really means if you are not on the proper platforms for your industry, you are losing out on more business than you really know about. Also, these services do something else that makes a prospective buyer’s life easier: they create neatly formatted lists of businesses that provide specific products and services for buyers. These lists include you and all of your competition, making the statistics above all the more dramatic… Prospective buyers will take their neatly formed lineup and just call down the list one company at a time. Unfortunately, many in that list may never respond, making the first business to speak to a buyer exponentially more likely to win that business. It’s not because they are better, cheaper, or smarter but because they were most likely the only one a prospective buyer could speak too.

Beyond responding, there is another aspect that all but guarantees someone to lose a prospective buyer’s business: lack of follow-through. Some businesses and salespeople are absolutely fantastic with responding to initial requests for information, but they fall flat on follow-through and never provide what they said they will as a follow-up from the initial discussion. Not providing a prospective buyer the information they are looking for will guarantee they will not buy from you.

At the end of the day, in order for some businesses to grow, you simply need to put a little more effort into monitoring the various mediums in which a perspective buyer could contact the business and respond to inquiries as fast as humanly possible. In many cases, it is just that simple to see measureable gains in revenue. However, if you wanted to go the extra mile, businesses need to remember that you have to put effort into your online presences to be found by these prospective buyers. We wrote an article about this not too long ago: The Importance of Having an Online Digital Presence for Local Small Businesses and you can always contact us directly for help at

Small Business Owners’ Resistance to Change Is Slowly Killing Them

Small Business resistance to changeWe live in economic times where each industry segment can have literally hundreds of companies that could be considered direct competition, all vying for the same business. This increased competition has put significant pressure on businesses to perform like they never have before in order to just stay afloat. Unfortunately, we are finding businesses that were once successful now struggling, and there is an ever increasing gap between those that are successful and those that are now forming. The retail industry is almost a perfect example of what is happening across all industries. Long-time titans of industry such as Sears, Toys R Us and countless others are closing locations or declaring bankruptcy. In contrast, you have others such as Target and Best Buy seeing some of their best success in their recent history. There are many theories and even some very specific root causes that led to the demise of these organizations; however, we believe there is one fundamental element they all have in common: resistance to change. Over the years, we’ve dealt with thousands of businesses of all shapes and sizes, and overwhelmingly, we notice businesses that continue to struggle. The root of the issue is leadership that is resistant to change… This is even more apparent in the small business segment. We find that most small businesses are still owner- or founder-operated, and as a result they have substantially more emotional investment built into the business. This translates to emotion-based business decisions as opposed to business-led decisions, typically resulting in significant resistance to change.

What we find more interesting is that the structure of a small business gives it a huge competitive advantage over the larger businesses in the very same segments. Larger businesses have significantly more structure in place with countless layers of red-tape, which makes getting changes made the equivalent of getting congress to pass a new bill. Another analogy would be the difference between turning an aircraft carrier vs. a speedboat…  BUT due to the emotional attachment, or just straight up resistance to change within small businesses, we find that implementing change can be equally as—if not more—challenging than their larger counterparts. This is why so many businesses are struggling in today’s economic times… Most small business leaders have the best intentions in mind and may not even be aware of their inability to implement change and its direct effect on the businesses.  All is not lost, as again, with small businesses we find that one of their greatest strengths is their ability to be agile and make quick decisions… Before someone can change, they must first be able to identify that they have a problem… Here are the most frequent areas of resistance we come up against:

This is how we’ve been doing it for years – We constantly run up against this hurdle, and the older the business, the more they fall back on this… they are relying on tactics that once helped their businesses become extremely successful, but over time those activities may not be as successful as they once were. However, because of their prior success, we find that leadership is resistant to moving away due to fear of abandoning what they believe to be a successful tactic.

That’s too new / we don’t understand it – Some struggle with new concepts or something that they just do not understand. As a result, they overcomplicate the process by asking their teams to spend a significant amount preparing information and analysis to help leadership understand the nature of the tactic better… This typically takes untold amounts of time, and in some cases leads to decisions that are put off too long.

It takes time – Many small business leaders believe they are doing their teams a favor by implementing a new strategy over time. This results in something that could essentially be addressed directly and within days, taking months if not years of implementation. Consequently, valuable time is lost on the process, along with a significant competitive advantage loss.

We’ll address this next year – We’ve lost count to how many times leadership has “kicked the can down the road” on an idea because they either wanted to take more time to educate themselves or they were just “too busy” to address it now… Sure, everyone is busy, however when it comes to your business, the time is now to seize the moment. In the business environment of today, business is extremely competitive, and any missed opportunity to gain a competitive advantage, allows your competition to move that far ahead of you.

Jim’s not going to like this change – One of the single greatest things about small businesses is that some of us have employees that have been with us for so long that they have practically become family. This is something we all strive for with our business environments as it boosts morale, increasing overall productivity within the team and just generally makes the workplace a better place to be. However, this can also be a huge challenge as many hold off on implementing changes for fear of how their longtime employee may accept the change. As a result, they miss out on competitive advantages that end up hurting the business in the long run.

Jim’s a bottleneck – A bit of a continuation of the above, we sometimes find that those long-term employees that we love can be straight-up bottlenecks for getting things done. As previously stated, many are fearful of implementing change to correct that employee’s working situations, purely because of the relationships that have been built.

We can’t let Jim go ­– Again, a continuation of the previous two bullets and quite honestly one of the hardest to address… Sometimes we become such close friends with our employees that we are emotionally invested in their personal wellbeing. This can be great, but there are times when these employees will take advantage of the situation and frankly let their work slip and become under-performers. As a direct result, the business takes a performance and revenue hit. Now, we are firm believers of giving employees as much opportunity to turn around their behavior, however there are going to be times where you need to make these tough business decisions in order for the business to strive and become successful once again.

The competitive and technological landscape in today’s economy is changing faster than it ever has before, which means that strategies and tactics that were once successful, may no longer be affective… In order for a business to be successful and maintain its competitive advantage, it needs to be constantly on the hunt for new areas of improvement. We use the term “Continuous Improvement,” and if you don’t strive for it, your general resistance to change will slowly kill your business.

Additional Tip: One tip that we always love to share when dealing with leadership that is adverse to change is the “Fail Fast” methodology… The fail fast methodology is essentially a strategy of implementing a virtual “fence” around ideas for change. Fences are metrics which define success for the change along with an allocated timetable of typically a few weeks or months depending on the nature of the changes being implemented. This allows your team to adopt a change and regularly check in against these success metrics as a gut check on progress. As time progresses, you can reflect against those success metrics and work to tweak the program to improve performance. However, if time continues to show little to no success, you pull the plug and walk away… Time and time again, we see too much time and money wasted chasing down a bad idea and working to make it successful, when in the end, not all good ideas will be successful. This methodology provides a happy medium of implementing change or working out new ideas without losing too much time and money in the process.


Why Email Marketing is Broken, and How To Fix It

Email is brokenEmail marketing is broken but still remains a strong communication channel… Most business professionals spend an unprecedented amount of time per day (28% of the week to be exact) chained to their inboxes responding to countless amounts of email! This would make one think: if you have such a captive audience, then why is email marketing so broken? Well, it isn’t broken; it’s the way the majority of businesses structure their messages that makes it broken.

When you break down the messages from most email marketing campaigns, they fundamentally fall into a few categorical buckets, but they tend to focus on one thing: the sender of the message and not the receiver. Let’s dive in a little deeper on this. Most campaigns can fall under the following buckets: deals, product catalogues, and the super generic sales message. As a bit of an exercise, go into your inbox and find the last ten or twenty marketing messages and you’ll find that they fall into one of those few categories. You’ll find subject lines similar to the following: “Final days To Save 20%”, “Special Offer”, “Register for this event”, or the ever so cleaver “Did you see my last email message?” and “Can we talk at 3pm?”… In this day and age, we are truly amazed that any of these messages even work at all…

I’m going to personally pick on Lyft as an example. Personally, I use Uber, but once—and only once—I had to use Lyft. And as a result, every few days they hit my inbox with a new “compelling” marketing message… but are they really “compelling”? For starters, you’ll see on March 14th, 17th, 31st, and April 4th, their key message was 10% off, with three emails entitled “Ends Soon” with a date of April 9th. Seems compelling right? Well, not so much… On the 10th of April, only one day after that 9th deadline, they hit me with a 25% off special. As you can see from the screenshot below, every single message over the period of four months is essentially the same! I’m using Lyft as an example, though they are certainly not alone; I have an untold number of businesses that use the very same tactic, which makes those “compelling offers” not so compelling…

Lyft Marketing Campaign

This is essentially why email marketing is broken for so many today. The majority of campaigns focus on the great deal, showcasing a product, or those very witty generic sales emails (that quite honestly are not so witty). The only time these messages happen to work is when you happen to catch someone right about to make a purchase where saving 25% would be valuable. Otherwise, your emails are getting deleted or unsubscribed the minute they hit their inbox.

To unlock the secret of email marketing, you need to stop thinking about traditional email marketing and the idea of needing to generate sales with every message… There is a rule of thumb in sales that four out of every five touches should be non-sales related. This essentially means that the majority of your outreaches to a prospect or customer should be adding some type of value to them beyond asking for a sale (and, no, 25% off messages are not adding any real value to them). Translated into email marketing, that means that at least four out of every five campaigns should be non-sales related… When you can fundamentally make this shift as an organization, you’ll find that not only do you stop people from unsubscribing or deleting your emails, but people actually become engaged with your campaigns. As an example, let’s pick on Lyft once again… What if instead of constantly bombarding their prospects and customers with yet another 10 or 25% off special, they found more creative messaging. As a consumer, topics that would get me to at least open the email would be something like: “Top 10 Tips for Keeping Safe While Using Ride Sharing Apps”, “Did You Know Ride Sharing Costs x% Less than Traditional Cabs?”, “How to Use Ride Share to Plan Your Next Trip”, “The Top 10 Things Your Lyft Driver Would Like You to Know”, “Legislation is Trying to Kill Ride Share. Here is How You Can Fight Back”, “The Top 5 Reasons to Ride with Lyft over Uber”… These are just a few messages that literally took me about five minutes to think up and would compel me to at least open the email… Now, I only pick on Lyft because I am a fan of Ride Share but use their competitor, Uber, and through their marketing communications, Lyft has given me zero compelling reasons to shift.

Therein lies the secret of email marketing: don’t make the message about you, make it about your customer. And again, no, a 25% off promotion is not a customer-centric message. The core of successful marketing campaigns is to find ways to continuously engage your prospects and customers by finding ways to add value to their lives. Topics that are informative and educational are exponentially more successful than your more traditional methods. There is also an interesting byproduct of utilizing email marketing in this nature, and that is creating a more informed and educated buyer… These types of buyers tend to take less time in the decision-making process and end up becoming more successful customers who are more likely to buy again, renew, or refer additional business. Email marketing done right can completely change how you function as a business…

Stuck on ideas for content for email campaigns? Here are a few tips:

  • Recent industry news
  • Addressing questions about the industry
  • Addressing frequent sales or support questions
  • Addressing legislation questions
  • Sharing an interesting use-case for your solution
  • Sharing cost of process savings stories
  • Customer testimonials

When it really comes down to it, almost anything directly or tangentially related to your company, industry, or solution are all areas that can be explored more to help keep your clients and prospects engaged via email. Once you start a strong stream of educational and informative content, it doesn’t hurt to drop in a sales-related email from time to time… Once people begin to trust your email brand, those 25% off offers will then become more valuable over time…. Finally, if you’re struggling on what messages work best, you can always address that via AB Testing which we discussed in another article. Finally, if you need assistance tackling this change of marketing methodology, you can always contact 3SixtySMB directly at


Leadership and the impact of not doing what you say

Impact of LeadershipTrust and respect are at the core of all truly great leaders. A team that trusts and respects their leader will follow them into any battle and will fight until the bitter end without question or hesitation… When a leader loses the trust and respect of their team, the structure of the team falls apart and failure is all but eminent. This concept seems to be lost with many leaders in government and business today, and as a result, trust in government is at an all-time low, and employees are no longer sticking around organizations for decades at a time with the average tenure of employees 25 to 34 years old is only 2.8 years. There are many factors that lead to lack of trust within leadership, however one of the fastest ways to guarantee a loss of trust is speaking without action.

Whether it is a politician running for office, a corporate executive speaking at an annual kick-off conference, or a one-on-one meeting with a direct manager, we’ve all had the pleasure of being a part of these meetings and listening to pontifications about a bright future and actions “they” plan to take. It all sounds great, right? Well, not so much. Fast forward a few weeks or months later where absolutely nothing has happened, and you’ll notice that no one wants a talking head for their leader; nothing is more frustrating than following the conviction and direction of a leader, only to be left disappointed due to their inability to take action. This happens day in and day out across the scope of leadership of all levels, and it is no wonder why confidence in leadership is at an all-time low. This is even truer in business today. Let us share a scenario…. You’re in a direct manager’s office during a one-on-one meeting, and they begin to tell you about their plan for you: more responsibility, higher pay, and fixing operational roadblocks. You leave the meeting invigorated and ready to put forth 110% effort into your job. Only a few weeks or months later, absolutely nothing has happened with the exception of more promises of a bright future. Over time, your trust in that manager’s ability to produce actual results diminishes, and that 110% effort turns into 90%, 80%, and then 50%… However, it can go even deeper than a manager’s pontification about a bright future. Sometimes it breaks down to the simplest request, such as fixing an HR issue like payroll.

As an example, say an employee asks their manager to fix a small payroll issue. As managers, we have so many items on our plates, and that request simply gets forgotten. At the end of the day, it is only a small payroll issue and there are so many other bigger fires to put out. No big deal, right? Well, what if that very same employee was having personal financial hardships at home and that “small” issue for them actually meant the difference in their ability to seek medical care, take a vacation, pay for college, or any other number of unknown issues to you? Well, your inability to take action around their “small” payroll issue just diminished their perspective of you as a leader. You can guarantee that they will not be putting forward 110% effort for “you” anymore. Heck, they might even start thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and begin looking for employment elsewhere, where the money and leadership structure looks better. Whether it is big or small items, it is up to you, leadership, to do all that is humanly possible to take action on promises made to your team or face them losing confidence in you.

At the end of the day, most leaders truly do have the best intentions in mind, and with so many items on their plates, they may not even realize that they had promised items but failed to take action. Trust me, I’ve known some great people that have had a tendency to do this without knowing; however, going unchecked has the consequences of losing the confidence of your team. Therein lies the challenge of leadership, whether you knowingly did not take action on an item or simply just forgot, your employees will never tell you when you’ve wronged them and lost their confidence. All is not lost—there a few things to keep an eye out for that may be signs that you are losing the confidence of your team:

  • Average tenure has declined – Five years ago, the average tenure of your team was five to ten years. However, recently, people have been only sticking around for two or three years. This could be a major red flag, as we all know people typically do not leave jobs they are happy with. Sure, there are many items that can contribute to this drop in tenure; however, at the core is their ability to trust in leadership’s ability to affect change for the better.
  • Glassdoor ratings have dropped – Glassdoor has become a game changer for taking a deep look inside the soul of a business. Current and former employees use Glassdoor to provide their own approval rating of leadership, reviews of their experiences, and even recommendations for leadership. Nothing will provide more insight to how you are performing as a leader than spending time reviewing Glassdoor for your business. One word of caution: people can be brutally honest in these reviews and they can be hard to read. However, this is the way people truly think about your company and how you lead. Use these reviews to find ways to improve yourself.
  • Internal NPS polling or 360 reviews are negative – When looking at Glassdoor, we do find that the majority of reviews tend to be from employees after they’ve left the organization. For them and many, it is too late to fix the issue. Another successful approach is around creating an internal NPS polling or 360 review system that is anonymous and allows employees to provide feedback in real-time. Again, this could be something that is hard to digest, as some can and will be fairly harsh. BUT again, this is valuable information to understand how you can change to be a better leader.
  • Frequent faces are no longer frequent – Human nature is to avoid what is uncomfortable. When your team no longer seeks you out for council or even just friendly discussions, they could be actively avoiding you. This is a sign that something may be amiss.
  • You receive more than one email per issue – Refer back to the payroll example used above. Did that person ask you once and wait for your response, or did they message you multiple times on the same items? Trusting people will trust in your ability to get something done and leave you to the task. However, untrusting people tend to want frequent updates to ensure you are moving forward with the various items.
  • Employees have become 9 – 5 – I’ve personally seen this flip happen almost overnight. Some employees tend to work all hours of the day; they are first in the office and last to leave, responding to emails at all hours of the night. Then all of a sudden, they are out the door the minute the clock hits five and almost never respond to emails during off hours. This could be a sign that something is amiss with their attitude towards the business.

Again, we completely agree that leadership inaction could be one of many items that could lead to tarnished employee confidence. However, as leaders, it is up to us to always find ways to improve ourselves, ensuring that our team members do not lose that confidence. The hard part is that they will never tell us to our faces when we’ve done them wrong. We have to read all the signs and piece the puzzle together ourselves. Unfortunately, inaction is one of the fastest ways to lose the trust and respect of our team, and it is something we always need to be conscious of…

I’ll share one example of executive leadership doing this right: HubSpot… HubSpot as an organization has done a lot of things right; they have a great model, great team, great vision, and great culture, and anyone can learn a thing or two from them. This stems from their leadership team of Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah… They have been known to talk about their corporate culture and have stated on multiple occasions that it was not planned and more of a mistake, which turned into something great. It simply was their ability to say what they are going to do and do what they said they would do… and if for any reason they could not do something, they would publically share why, not hide it. This is how the two of them ran the company! It incited a culture within HubSpot where employees were known as HubSpotters, and they would move mountains for the organization if it meant getting something done… They always knew from the top down that HubSpot as an organization had their back and would never leave them stranded. The end result was a team always giving it 110% making HubSpot a unicorn company of legends… Again, they did many things from creating a strong business model, product, and methodology, but it was the corporate culture that got their team moving forward as one cohesive unit, knowing that leadership always had their backs.

It is up to leadership to ensure we always do right with your teams. A team that trusts and respects their leader will follow them into any battle and will fight until the bitter end without question or hesitation.