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It is often said that niching down and making your offer specific to a particular need and section of the market is the key to success. Rick Carlson, our guest today believes that this idea is still under-appreciated. Rick is the CEO of SharpSpring, an all-in-one marketing automation platform that has experienced great success in its young life. We hear from Rick about his career in the marketing sphere, what he has chosen to give his attention to and the events leading up to the founding of SharpSpring. We chat about the company’s base in Florida and why Rick decided to keep the company in his home state instead of one of the other startup hubs in the US. From there, Rick takes us through how SharpSpring approaches customer acquisition and their own marketing before we talk about finding the right type of customers and how he does this. The conversation ends off with the customary questions, with Rick opting to share his favorite business podcast instead of a book! For all this and a whole lot more from someone who is making great waves in the marketing world, and doing things slightly differently, join us on Leveling Up today!


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How to Start Tailoring Your Emails with Marketing Automation

Today, I’m going to give you a little refresher (or crash course) on marketing automation and tailoring your email messages to people who behave a certain way on your website.

Tag Your Visitors and Put Them into Sequences

Take Single Grain, for example. If you visit our services page or our case studies page, you’re different from someone who has just visited our home page and bounced in a minute or less. So, as the site owner, I want to tailor my messaging based on visitor behaviors.

Single Grain services

How many lead magnets does a visitor download on my site? What kind of content are they most interested in? Maybe they visited my SEO section 5 or 6 times. My goal is to find these interested visitors and tag them appropriately, then send them the correct message. That way it’s not just one general email nurture sequence for everyone. It’s tailored to what I think they want or need.

Marketing Funnels

That being said, you should definitely still have a general email nurture sequence. Give people consistently useful content so they can raise their hand when they’re ready to buy from you. I’ll show you what that looks like. I’m also going to show you a little more sophistication with marketing automation, because a lot of the clients we work with don’t even have funnels built out and they need funnels.

If you need a little more elaboration on what marketing funnels are, just Google “marketing funnels.” We are usually the #2-#4 result (How to Create A Marketing Funnel That Generates Sales). Also check out AWeber and Kissmetrics because they also have great resources on this and they’re great companies.

Google marketing funnels

Email Marketing Solutions

Our email marketing solution, Drip (owned by Leadpages), is basically a cross between MailChimp and Infusionsoft (also known as “Confusionsoft”). MailChimp is a little too simplistic, but they’re getting more sophisticated. Also, I’m not going to hate on Infusionsoft because I’ve seen it do powerful things for Neil. But Drip is awesome because it gives you the best of both worlds.

Drip dashboard

Now let’s see how Drip works. If I go to the Growth Everywhere email campaigns, the content is basically my interview podcasts where I talk to a lot of different entrepreneurs. I’ve done over 200 interviews, so that’s a lot of content right there.

Related Content: Cold Emailing: Best Outbound Sales Automation Tools

Drip email campaign

The great thing about this type of content is it’s helpful to everyone who’s looking to learn how to grow a business, because I’m talking to these people, I’m getting their story, I’m finding out how they grew their business, how they started it, what struggles they went through, etc. The stories are evergreen. So it’s pretty easy for me to put all these emails into a general sequence (because everyone can benefit from them).

The Kind of Email Content I’m Sending Out

Here’s one: How a Middle School Dropout Built a 50 Million Pageview Site. Or how about this one: How Social Triggers Grew to 300,000 Subscribers Using this Formula. So I just keep going and going and I keep hitting them with content. This podcast is once a week, in addition to our new blog posts that are coming out regularly.

The idea is to keep hitting your list with incredibly useful, FREE content over and over and over. You don’t say, “Hey, come buy my stuff.” You keep giving value over time. And, naturally, your list will raise their hands when they’re ready to buy. Yes, you could throw an offer at them, like a webinar, but ideally you’re nurturing them through a sequence.

Learn More: Why Neil Patel Pays $30,000 for Content & Gives it Away For Free

One of the guys from Drip, Zach Grove, actually did an audit of our work flow. When Zach audited our account, he said, “Well you know, you have all these important emails, such as trying to get people to go to a webinar or trying to get people to check out a PDF. But in your current sequence right now, your general nurture sequence, you’re only hitting them once.”

They’re only going to see that email one time and then they’re going to move onto the next thing. Chances are, most people aren’t going to click these emails.

He was right. My open rate was 57% on the first one, but it started dropping and dropping until it was averaging around 20%. Instead, you should be hitting your list over and over with the same email (with minor variations, mostly in the headline), until they actually open it.

If they don’t open it over a 5-email span, we’re going to move them to the next sequence. But we want to give them more opportunities to view our main offers. That way we’re going to convert more people at a higher level.

Have a Solid Email Workflow

So, after learning this from Zach, I made a Single Grain “important emails” workflow and anyone that opts into Single Grain or Growth Everywhere is going to move through this sequence.

Drip workflow

If they subscribe, great, they’re going to be put into a delayed sequence. And then we’re going to send them a campaign, like a “13 customer acquisition campaigns” webinar. Once they open the email, they’re tagged and then they move to the next sequence.

I can also make a segment where if they’ve viewed all this stuff, I know that they’re really qualified and I’m going to try and send them additional offers because they’re further down the funnel.

Single Grain Marketing Funnel

But you’re not able to do this with a basic email marketing tool. You need something that’s more sophisticated, like Infusionsoft or Drip.

For access to Drip, just go to

Eventually, once someone has moved through a lot of the workflow and they’re ready for more commitment, I start sending them to webinars. And then from the webinar we might send them our case studies or our marketing roadmap. I’ll send them a backlink campaign as well.

And if they view this backlinks campaign, guess what? I’m going to send them our Airbnb backlinks case study.

Analysis of 1 Million Backlinks Airbnb

This is a study on 1 million backlinks, this is another one on 1 million Udemy backlinks. We have 10 of these studies, and this is just one sequence. Overall, we put people through 420 days of content.

That’s 14 months of content in addition to the general nurture sequences we run and that’s okay. That’s worth it, because a lot of our clients actually start working with us maybe a year or two in. Our sales cycle is pretty long; usually it takes about 3-4 months to close. And this is true for many agencies.

So, if you have all this content, why are you not doing a better job of getting it in front of the right people? If you have amazing stuff, it’s your job to put it in front of your audience.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:


3 Competitive Analysis Tools Every Marketer Should Use

Let’s talk about some simple ways to do competitive analysis. I’m just going to go through a couple of marketing tools I often use.


First and foremost is Ahrefs, which I use all the time. If you want to get access, just go to

Let’s put Nike into Ahrefs, as an example. You can see that their domain ranking/domain authority is scored on a scale of 1-100. Nike has 73, which is great. They have over 105,000 referring domains pointing to their site. They ranked for over 500,000 organic keywords, which means that they drive over 8.8 million visits per month.

Related Content: Analysis of 1 Million Backlinks: Dollar Shave Club (Part 6/10)

Ahrefs Nike Competitive Analysis

Now, these are by no means exact numbers, but it does give you a realistic range in terms of where Nike’s at and how many keywords they’re bidding on. You can start with organic keywords and see the keywords they’re ranking for, the volume they drive, which pages they’re ranking for, and go from there.

Ahrefs Nike organic keywords

You can also see what features they have for specific keywords. Do they have site links? Are they in the image pack? Are they in a knowledge panel as well?

If I were to search for Nike right now, just to show you what I mean…

Google Nike

…they have an ad showing. Then they have a link right there. They have images. They have the knowledge box, as well, and so on. 

I also like to look at ads (to see what types of offers and images they’re using), as well as top pages (to see what I or my client can emulate). With Nike, there’s obviously a lot of Nike-related branded keywords, but we want to see what else they have that’s not tied to Nike specifically.

I can filter by position, from 5 to 30, if I want to look for low-hanging fruit keywords. Like “marathon training” for example or “half marathon training schedule.” Ahrefs shows me the types of low-hanging keywords that Nike is ranking well for, and then I just click on the page and ask myself, “Well, what I can do to emulate that? What can I do to beat this page?”

Alex Morgan, the soccer star, is ranking 14 for it. “Nike size chart,” “10K training plan,” I can see all these different keywords right here.

Obviously, for the brand-related keywords, they’re going to do well on those almost always. But I can get some ideas from their other top pages and see how I can emulate those. 

Ahrefs can also help you see the content gap, which is just great. For example, I can type in,, Reebok, etc. By doing this, we can see all the things that Nike and Adidas rank for, but that Reebok does not rank for.

Ahrefs content gap

Now let’s look at marketing blogs. Let’s look at Neil Patel, Quick Sprout, and Single Grain. This will give me some content ideas. We can see that Quick Sprout ranks for all the expected keywords: they’re #7 for “online marketing” and #12 for “marketing automation.” A lot of great keywords that can help me (if I were a competing marketing blog) come up with great ideas for the types of content I should be creating.

Learn More: 7 Tips to Creating Killer Blog Posts that No One Else Is Writing

Ahrefs keywords Quick Sprout

Then I can just export this info, maybe select 1,000 rows, for example, and hit export.

We can also look at PPC keywords. Going back to Nike—what are they bidding on, exactly? What’s the URL? We can look at their top landing pages, too. All this will help us get an idea of what they’re doing.

So, there’s a lot that we can do with Ahrefs. Just go to


Another great tool that I use is Adbeat.


Adbeat gives me a deeper look at how certain companies are spending, what ads they have, and where they’re spending. Let’s take Jet for example. Let’s say they spend $121 million. You can see that their ad spend is actually increasing over time. Most of their spend is going towards Google, and to Direct Buy as well.

Adbeat Jet

Then we can look at the different kind of creative stuff they’re running, and how much spend went towards this creative component. We can also look at their newest campaigns. We can look at competitors, too. And, just as we did with Ahrefs, we can export all this Adbeat info and make it into a PowerPoint presentation. That’s a lot of actionable information at my fingertips.

One thing to keep in mind is that usually the spend amounts on these kinds of tools are incorrect. Same thing with a traffic map. I would say take the traffic or the ad spend with a grain of salt.


Finally, let’s look at SimilarWeb, another tool I love to use for investigating competitors.


Let’s go back to Nike and look at how they’re doing. We can see that this is their traffic trends over time. It’s saying that they get 54 million visits a month.

SimilarWeb Nike

Category rank for shopping and sports, they’re number one. It shows you the different mobile apps that they have for Google Play, App Store as well. Lot of different stuff going on here. You can see their traffic by country and where the bulk of their traffic is coming from and where their referrals are coming from. It’s search, and then direct, and then you have referrals, too.

You can see keywords plus which are paid, their social and how they’re doing there. You can see their distribution and then display advertising. Their sub-domains, too. You can also dive deeper and look at certain categories.

So, with these three great competitive analysis tools, there’s a lot that you can see.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

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Rob Walling CEO Drip email automation

Today’s interview is with Rob Walling, founder of Drip, an extremely user-friendly email marketing automation tool that allows you to craft every interaction with your leads, Troux users, and customers. I personally just became a customer about a week ago and I’ve been very happy with both the team and the product itself.

In this interview, Rob and I talk about how the idea for Drip manifested as a result of the problems he was having with the email marketing tool he was using at the time, why a simple change in the software features was the key to finally growing the business, and how acquiring just one marketing skill at a time is the path to success.

Making the Leap to Freedom 

Rob Walling is a software developer by training—it was a hobby of his when he was a kid, in fact—so it was only natural that he start writing code for a living. But after realizing that being a salaried employee was not something he could do forever, he made the leap to freedom by starting to launch some small software products and websites on the side. As you would expect, there were a bunch of failures, and then he had his first product success—DotNetInvoice, invoicing software that he had acquired from other developers.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

Before Drip was even a vision of email automation, Rob was struggling with an SaaS app that he owned called HitTail. He wanted an email capture form on every page of the app, but he wanted a simple JavaScript widget in the lower right (like a chat window), not a big Lightbox that was going to be irritating to the user. And besides wanting that widget to capture email, he wanted to offer people a 5 or 7-day mini course. Just to do this plus get the design for it plus get it into MailChimp plus get the autoresponder set up took two or three full days. To Rob it was insane that there wasn’t an easier way to do it.

Today, that’s what Drip does.

In 2012 the idea for Drip finally manifested when Rob was having a problem setting up marketing funnels in the current email marketing tool he was using. He was frustrated by its inability to tell him who had converted, when they had converted, and why specifically they had converted. He also wanted it to do basic things like moving people from one interest list to another and he wanted it to do all this without having to spend hundreds of dollars a month.

Changing the Software Features Triggered the Growth of the Business

By the time he and Derek—the developer who’s now co-founder—launched Drip, they had built up a pretty good launch list, but then they spent the first few months trying to figure out why they weren’t able to grow the app. He kept putting people into the funnel and they kept leaking out as fast as they were going in. So the challenge was to find out how to keep these people, and the overwhelming feedback was that they needed to build in some marketing automation—basically build in the ability to tag and move people in and out of lists. So they spent 3-5 months building what the people wanted and as they started rolling that out, churn went down, trial-to-paid conversions went up, revenue numbers went in the right direction and, as the saying goes, they were off to the races.

It was as simple as changing the features of this SaaS app that finally allowed their audience to really comprehend the power of Drip and the business to flourish. Once they started calling themselves a lightweight marketing automation platform all the trial-to-paid conversions leapt up to 45-50% and the churn dropped down to about 5-6%. The interesting thing was that they had the same amount of traffic and yet their revenue numbers started growing by $1,000-2,000 a month, and then as things started accelerating, it started growing by $3,000-5,000 a month.

Pre-launch Strategy: How Drip Acquired Emails 

At the time Drip launched, they had about 3,400 emails from about 4 or 5 different sources, because Rob believes that you start marketing the day you start coding. And that’s literally what they did. While Derek was writing code, Rob focused on building an email list.

He has this concept called Concentric Circle Marketing. So if you imagine a dart board, there’s a circle at the center of your bull’s eye and that is circle one, that’s your audience—your email list, your podcast or blog audience, your Twitter following. And the next circle out is your warm audience—so maybe your colleagues or your friends if they run podcasts and they’re willing to vouch for you. And the third one out is cold traffic.

When building an email list, Rob always starts with that inner circle because he has a pretty good blog, podcast, and Twitter following. And the minute he starts to build the product, that’s when he talks about it on all these platforms because the folks who follow him are also building startups and software. That’s how he built Drip’s email list up to about 500-600 pretty quickly. And even though he knew that the conversion rate wouldn’t be phenomenal because part of his audience was made up of people who were unable to pay $50 a month for a marketing automation tool (or an “email marketing tool” back then), he still consistently talked about it.

He was asked to go on podcasts to talk about software, entrepreneurship, and building startups, so even when he wasn’t actively trying to promote Drip, that’s what he wound up doing—and that accounted for about another 500-600 emails. Then he ran Facebook ads to a landing page based on email marketing interests which accounted for another almost 1,000 emails. And finally, there were about 300-400 emails from beta lists.

Facebook Ads and Cost Per Acquisition

They were paying about $3.50 per email and he was sending people to a landing page—or rather, different landing pages with different headlines. And that was a key part of this process: not just getting the interest lists, but figuring out which of these value propositions resonated with the audience. In other words, are people more willing to provide their email address if the headline is “Create a Double Digit Jump In Your Conversion Rate” or “More Leads More Customers” or different phrasing? Based on their prior experience with HitTail, where testing these value propositions had created a double digit jump in conversion rates, they ran different Facebook ads with different landing page headlines and different images.

From Software Developer To Marketer

Having first-hand experience on a small project with which you can play around is really critical to learn marketing. You can certainly read about all the approaches, but nothing beats first-hand experience.

To be honest, early on I was terrible. I didn’t know what I was doing when I launched several sites between 2002 and 2005 and I just expected them to market themselves—because that’s what Inc. Magazine or Tech Crunch tells you!

So what he did was just acquire one marketing skill at a time, and focus on it, learn it, get good at it, then move on to the next one. It’s just like learning development—you don’t jump in and try to learn PHP, C Sharp, and Rails all at once. You learn a single language until you master it and then move on to something else.

Rob is a big believer in a thing he calls The Stair Step Approach, which is basically building small products first rather than trying to build a SaaS app like Drip which is quite complicated, expensive to build, and not very easy to manage and market. He “stair stepped” up with several small products that had a single sales channel which usually drew its traffic organically from Google or from AdWords and Facebook ads. This is simple stuff, but practicing on these channels teaches you how to write copy, optimize pages, split test, and you can use those skills when you’re ready to launch a larger app.

How Drip Differs from the Competition

Drip offers almost the complete InfusionSoft tool set. InfusionSoft does a bunch of things, like landing pages and affiliate tracking and shopping carts—and Drip doesn’t do that. But the core of InfusionSoft that most people use is the heavy email automation, the ability to send the right message to the right people at the right time and manage all that. Drip does this, but the main difference is that Drip is far less expensive and is far, far easier to use. That’s their big selling point: usability, ease of set up, and ease of understanding the paradigm.

If you’re building a mailing list and want to do things that are pretty exotic, you’re going to outgrow the basic tools like MailChimp and Aweber. But InfusionSoft is $300-500 a month, $2,000 up front, and it’s quite hard to use. Drip lands right between those two products.

Patience Is a Virtue When You’re Growing a Business

After launching Drip, revenue went flat for about 4 or 5 months. Having launched, acquired, and grown a ton of different apps in different industries, Rob expected that he’d be able to grow this one faster, and when that didn’t happen he became extremely frustrated. The first phase of building a startup is building, the second phase is learning, and the third phase is scaling. And that learning phase is going to take longer than you want it to even if you have the experience and the confidence that you can do it. Patience is critical because you can’t compress that learning phase any further than it needs to be. Even if you’ve raised $5-10 million you still can’t accelerate the learning phase because trial and error is a necessary component of building anything.

But he and Derek were able to turn their struggle into a learning experience—they were recording their weekly calls at that time and edited them down into a two-hour audio documentary, which is available to listen to at

A Piece of Advice For His 25-Year-Old Self

Everything good that has come out of me being a founder or an entrepreneur of any type has come out of me doing something that has scared the crap out of me.

Rob says that if he could give his younger self a piece of advice, it would be to start doing things in public sooner, like starting a blog and publishing the first post about software development. He was terrified to put himself out there, and even though no one was reading it, it was still scary. But he has realized that once you actually face that fear and take the action, the terror eventually goes away—and now Rob’s blog has grown to 30,000 followers.

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How many of you out there are actually manually prospecting and sending emails out on your own? When you do that, there’s basically no follow-up. Ideally, you should use an automated sequence, like an outbound autoresponder.

This was something I really wanted for my own business, and thankfully there are three tools out there that can help you automate your sales outreach.

  1. Outreach [01:58]
  2. Sendbloom [02:50]
  3. Cadence from SalesLoft [03:53]

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jon-miller-vp-marketing-marketoEven though he started his educational journey as a physicist, Jon Miller has become one of the biggest heroes of internet marketing automation and helping businesses create and employ sophisticated marketing campaigns that match today’s customer expectations.

He co-founded Marketo, one of the industry leaders in marketing automation software, and there’s a lot to learn from what he has to say about small businesses moving to marketing automation software and creating effective marketing funnels.

Why Veering Away From a Doctoral Program in Physics at MIT Was the Best Step of Jon’s Career

Even though he earned is undergrad degree in physics and was all set to go to MIT for a top-of-the-line doctoral program, Jon veered off into internet marketing and never looked back. In fact, he’s spent his entire career in marketing and hasn’t ever regretted not pursuing his doctorate.

But he does give some credit to his background in physics: He thinks the quantitative and analytical way of thinking he learned during his undergrad years has helped him become the marketer he is today.

Starting Online Marketing Automation When People Didn’t Really ‘Get’ Marketing SaaS

In 2006, when Marketo was trying to raise venture capital, marketing technology had a bad reputation, and the venture capitalists themselves had seen a lot of non-SaaS marketing technology that didn’t provide a very good return.

But they caught their break when they met Bruce Cleveland from Inter West.  He had just stepped away from his position of CMO at Siebel, so talking to him felt more like talking to a marketer than a VC. He understood their product and saw the value an investment in them could provide, so he wrote them a check.

Marketing’s Fundamental Shift & How Marketo Fills the Gaps

According to Jon, marketing has changed more in the last 5-10 years than it ever did in the 100 years before that.

Before the internet became so pervasive, it was relatively easy for companies to reach their buyers, but kind of hard for buyers to find product information.

Today, that’s completely flipped around. The internet has brought a very profound change in the way companies need to reach out to and interact with their customers, which is where Marketo comes in: it’s a software service that provides the technology marketers need to thrive and succeed in this new way of buying.

But… How is Marketo Different from HubSpot?

According to Jon, HubSpot is a company that serves the needs of very small businesses, which is further proven by their recent CRM launch.

While there is a need for a mile-wide, inch-deep solution, Jon says that as companies reach higher levels of sophistication in their marketing, they need more functionality, which is where Marketo comes in. Even though Marketo isn’t a solution that tries to be everything for everyone, it is a marketing-first solution that helps marketers successfully do modernized demand generation.

Practicing What They Preach (Or Drinking Their Own Champagne) from the Get Go

Marketo has grown into a company with more than 3,500 clients by practicing what they preach.

Even though a lot of SaaS companies rely on their own networks to generate their first handful of leads, the Marketo founders took a different route – the route of online marketing & demand generation.

Before they even had a product to launch, Jon started blogging to generate an audience who wanted to hear what he had to say, and then scaled from there.

But there was a problem: by pumping out piece after piece of thought leadership and best practices, Jon got an incredible inbound flow of people, but they weren’t actually ready to buy – they were coming in for his content, not his product.

To solve the problem, they used their own solution (Marketo) to help nurture their incoming leads and develop them over time.

Marketo’s Lead to Customer Cycle & the Lag of Picking up Marketing Automation

On average, it takes Marketo 327 days to convert someone from a lead into a customer. Some leads are way faster, and some have been sitting around in their system for years.

But leads from inbound marketing content funnels are far faster: taking an average of just 170 days to convert.

It might seem like people are kind of slow to pick up on marketing automation, but that’s not the way Jon sees it.

He points out that it took 20 years for CRM services to get the market penetration they have today. So, in the case of marketing automation, it’s moving from something that was only being purchased by early adopters into something that is becoming more mainstream.

When to Move to Marketing Automation: Know Your Numbers & Be Ready to Work

Jon says that the time to move from manual marketing to marketing automation depends on the number of customers and prospects you’re trying to process. 100 to 200 can be done manually, but when you get into the thousands, that’ll be too much to handle.

He also says that you need to be willing to use the automation software, because despite the word “automation,” it doesn’t actually run by itself. You’ve got to be willing to tell it the marketing that you want it to do, which is why you’d probably need to have at least one person on your staff who is 100% dedicated to marketing before you’re ready to invest in automation technology.

How Marketo Sets Up an Effective Inbound Content Marketing Funnel

Jon says Marketo doesn’t really do anything unique or out of the box for user acquisition, but he does say that they’re really good at running their own software to create a really wide top part of their funnel, nurture the new leads, and identify when someone is ready to be passed along to sales.

In fact, the leads & sales that come from their inbound content marketing funnel account for 58% of their business.

To get such a high success rate, they apply a lot of rigor to each of the three stages of their funnel:

  1. Tofu – Top of the funnel
  2. Mofu – Middle of the funnel
  3. Bofu – Bottom of the funnel

Creating the Interesting, Engaging Content to Fill the Top of the Funnel

Marketo’s most popular pieces of content aren’t their blog posts – it’s their definitive guide series.

They set aside the time & mental energy to create 100-page ebooks that are extremely educational, highly visual, and easy to read. They give them away for free, but don’t treat them as Marketo commercials.

For example, Jon’s guide on marketing automation tells readers everything they need to know about buying marketing automation software. It’s had over 200,000 views, but only has one paragraph in it about Marketo.

Jon finds the guides to be so effective and valuable, that he says he’d rather create one 100-page definitive guide than seven ebooks.

The Marketo Institute

One thing Jon’s wanted to do from the very beginning was to provide a way to educate and empower marketers.

He feels most marketing programs don’t train their students to do modern, engaging marketing, leaving them to flail around guessing at things. With the Marketo Institute, he can empower marketers with fact-based insights and quantitative research to tell them what strategies actually work and why. Because Marketo has the unique opportunity to access anonymous marketing data of their 3,500 client companies in 20 industries and 36 countries, the teachings of the institute are based on the best data set of its kind.

Reverse Logic: How Making Marketo More Expensive Improved Their Sales

Imagine opening Excel for the first time ever. People have told you how amazing and powerful of a tool it is. You click around, try to enter some data, but can’t figure it out for the life of you. You soon get frustrated and write it off as too difficult to be worth anything, not realizing what you’re missing out on.

Now imagine if you’d had to pay a hefty upfront fee to get access to Excel & couldn’t figure it out. Because you’d invested the money, you’d be on the phone to customer service to figure out how to get that thing working, right?

With Marketo’s first product – they had to figure out this same thing. In 2007, when they launched their PPC bid management solution, they found the biggest problem with selling was that a lot of people simply didn’t know what to do with the technology to make it effective.

To solve the problem, they figured out that putting some barriers in the way to the product could actually work in their favor… it was too easy for their prospects to write off their product during a free trial, but after they’d invested a three-month payment up front, they’d force themselves to work through it and get it working at optimum efficiency.

Jon’s Best Productivity Hack

Rather than becoming obsessed over time management, Jon thinks a more effective take at increasing productivity is managing his energy. One hour of being really alert and focused is far better than four hours of sluggish work, he says.

He also says this is key for managers to understand – all too often people try to micro-manage the time of their employees, rather than their energy.

One Must-Read Book

Jon suggests reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz because it’s the closest thing he’s ever seen to a step-by-step instruction manual for a startup CEO.

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A Cheap and Easy Way to Get Started With Marketing Automation

Hello and welcome to another edition of Growth Bites. Today we’ll talk about how you can start marketing automation without breaking the bank. Chances are, if you’ve done any kind of online marketing, you’ve heard of HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Marketo – all kinds of marketing automation tools.

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