• Is Your Marketing Any Good? 3 Simple Rules to Find Out

    by Renee Cohen | Jul 09, 2018
    Is your marketing any good? 3 tips to find out 

    Anything worth doing is worth doing well. It’s great advice…but how does one measure “well”? A quick Google search on the subject will deliver exhaustive lists of “The Top 18 KPIs” or “The 50 KPIs Your Company Should Be Measuring,” spelling out different metrics that range from revenue attribution to social likes. It’s enough to leave anyone disoriented and unsure of where to start.

    At Trellist, we know that metrics are crucial for understanding performance, success, and future planning. And while there are literally hundreds of ways to measure your campaign, and even more ways to interpret your findings, we base everything we do here on just three simple rules.

    Rule #1: If you’re not measuring what you’re doing, that’s just dumb

    Every move you make, every line of copy you write, every piece of creative you design, and every form of collateral you produce should have a quantifiable justification for its existence. Even if that justification is “This didn’t work, but now we know.” Tracking your campaigns is crucial for future success.

    You need to understand what resonated with your audience, and what didn’t. Even those campaigns that “flopped” can provide valuable insights for others down the road. It’s called optimization for a reason, and striving to do better should always be what drives your decisions, even if better isn’t always the final result. If you learn enough from what didn’t work, eventually you’ll have a pretty accurate recipe for what does.

    Rule #2: Don’t hold things to impossible standards

    In the world of marketing, there is always some new platform or tool that puts messages in front of audiences. But just because it’s lauded by experts as the next big thing in marketing, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be a game changer by launching your brand into the realm of Nike, or turning your company name into a verb like Google.

    Marketing should be a well-thought-out combination of messaging platforms that tell the story of your product/service to the audience you want to reach. The idea that one social media campaign, or one tradeshow, or even one commercial is going to launch your brand from obscurity into a household name is unrealistic. Coca-Cola wasn’t built in a day.

    Rule #3: Set yourself up for success by defining success BEFORE you start

    This is probably the most important, and yet the most overlooked, rule when beginning a new campaign. If you ask the general public what the purpose of marketing is, most people will respond with something along the lines of “to drive sales.” Which, at a high level, is 100% true. However, there are a plethora of other ways to define marketing success and just as many means of getting there.

    Having a clear picture of what would constitute a successful campaign before it begins ensures that the actions you take and the strategies you implement align with your goals. This also manages performance expectations and offers a more definitive meaning to the metrics measured.

    Three simple rules. Hundreds of ways to follow them. Infinite success. For more marketing insights, or to find out how Trellist can help with your marketing goals—whether reaching them or defining them—contact our team at

  • What Marketing Automation Can’t Automate

    by Renee Cohen | Jan 17, 2018

    We’re about 10 years past marketing automation’s advent, so most business leaders are familiar with the ROI to be gained in automating top- and mid-funnel marketing touchpoints. But while 40-50% of companies have invested in an automation platform,1 a staggering 85% percent of B2B organizations report not using their platform to its full potential.2

    The propensity for underutilization starts even before purchasing an automation tool for your business. I recently met with an old colleague who confided that the B2B tech start-up he works for was trying to address their lead generation pipeline problem, and they had identified “marketing automation” as the solution. So I started to ask questions about their marketing maturity and process. Almost immediately red flags popped up, and it became clear that they weren’t ready to launch into the RFP process to select a marketing automation vendor.

    “Slow down” or “not yet” are often unpopular phrases in business, but sometimes slowing down and considering the business challenge more carefully is what is needed to avoid costly errors in selecting technology.  I know first-hand as a marketer how easy it is to geek-out on improved visibility and reduction in tedious tasks promised by marketing automation. I was a beta customer power user for Hubspot in their infancy. I trained our marketing programs team on Eloqua. I love the closed-loop insights and enhanced productivity the technology provides, but I’ve also experienced that the effort to stand up and direct a marketing automation platform is often underestimated.

    This is a cartoon image of a business leader presenting the simplicity of marketing automation.

    It is more complex than configuring a new system and pressing a button to start generating and nurturing leads. While that statement sounds patronizing, and most marketing leaders understand there’s more to it than that, almost every organization I’ve worked with has blind spots to areas of their marketing lifecycle that need further development. And a piece of new technology will not solve those gaps.

    Put simply: Strategy and planning cannot be automated.

    Before you make your marketing automation investment, consider what the technology will not solve for you:

    • Knowing in detail who your ideal buyer is. And in more complicated sales cycles, who the influencers are. This requires research and auditing both internally and externally.
    • Knowing what your audience responds to at various stages of decision making. Marketing automation can facilitate testing to understand this better, but the hypotheses of what tools/content to test require expertise and must be input into the system.
    • Building the communications roadmap. What are the mini actions you want your lead to take before they’re ready for human contact from a sales team? What is your sales team telling you about the objections and education challenges they hear when they first get someone on the phone?
    • Creating the content. Not just the emails and landing pages themselves, but the offers, tools, insights, demonstrations, validation, education, coaching, etc. that will build up to the ultimate action you want your audience to take. Additionally, you should plan to regularly reevaluate content to keep it fresh and relevant.
    • Developing the content and workflows in the system. This is taking the entire plan that you currently have in place “manually” and enhancing it, personalizing the right content and touchpoints for the right type of lead.

    Failure to document the insights and the rollout plan prior to investment means that all those amazing features you were pitched by the automation vendor cannot be realized for your organization. I’ve seen Fortune 1000-sized companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on their marketing automation tool to use it as a glorified email marketing system (and sometimes build WYSIWYG landing pages with forms).

    The most underutilized marketing automation features are lead scoring and targeting communications (both email triggered and dynamic web content) based on web tracking.3 Lead scoring fails if you have only a generic understanding of your buyer. This should go beyond the most obvious industry and job title questions that can be added to a lead gen form. Looking at your top customers, retroactively piece together all the touchpoints and activities – both marketing and sales team activities – that occurred prior to sale. By measuring content consumption and interest indicators, you can tailor communications for the lead not just based on what they filled out in the form or clicked on in an email, but also based on where they go on your website as a returning visitor 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks later. You can also be more judicious about when the lead is assigned to your sales team, which optimizes their time to be spent on leads that are more engaged and informed.

    But neither of these features can be implemented and optimized without the human insights to craft the communications criteria. And paramount to the success of this entire venture is the content itself. The need for a constant stream of relevant, interesting, and persuasive content is one of the biggest roadblocks to a program’s success, as companies are often willing to invest in the tools, but not in the creative manpower.

    The reality is that many organizations begin considering marketing automation when they feel their marketing team is overtaxed. Addressing these core considerations in-house requires even more time and headspace from an already overburdened marketing team. This is why 63% of companies outsource marketing automation strategy planning.4

    Trellist’s full service capabilities from Consulting to Marketing and Branding to Digital and Enterprise Technology allow our teams to work as an extension of our clients to ask the right questions that will set them up for success, build the tactical plan aligned to real data and insights, and create workflows and content that will improve the marketing and sales funnel. If you want to learn more about our experience in marketing automation and content marketing, please contact my colleague Neil Dougherty to begin the conversation.





  • Creating Dynamic Content That Gets People Talking

    by Renee Cohen | Aug 20, 2013

    creating dynamic content for your audience
    Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

    I’d say his statement is only partially true. When the rules are changing around you, if you continue to do what you’ve always done at some point your efforts actually become less effective.

    And the rules have changed. Social media has turned digital marketing into a set of sound bites. With decision makers having to sift through more and more information, how do you stay above the noise?

    By being mindful of what’s working in this age of social sharing, you can transition your traditional media (white papers, research reports, and case studies) into dynamic, engaging content and interactive experiences. By upping your content marketing game, you’ll begin to stimulate deeper conversation and drive more awareness of your solutions earlier in the buying cycle.

    Check out the infographic below for more thoughts on creating engaging, dynamic content. And follow us on Twitter @trellist or connect with us via

    How Dynamic is your Content

  • The Yin and Yang of Content Marketing: Which One Are You Missing?

    by Renee Cohen | Sep 28, 2012

    “Content marketing” has been part of the savvy marketer’s vocabulary for years.  It’s touted as the savior for any marketing plan – increase website traffic, improve conversion rates, become a market leader!  Yet, many who embark on the journey to launch their content marketing strategies fail to achieve these goals: Web traffic is flat (or, horrifyingly, lower); leads and sales aren’t converting; and market share is lost to the new kid on the block.

    Is it simply that content marketing is the snake oil solution to all that ails a languishing brand?  Not so…after all, someone’s getting those results promised on the label.  No, the more likely scenario is that many marketers are missing one of two secret ingredients:  either the Thought Leader or the Do Leader.

    A few months ago, I came across this excellent infographic (below), which defined the role of the “do leader” in contrast to the more well-known “thought leader.”  It was crafted by MindJet, a collaborative work management software company. I was struck with the thought that successful content marketing must also rely on these same two contrasting roles – seemingly at odds personalities, but each one side of the same coin.


    Thought Leadership

    The thought leader is typically seen as the rock star.  This guru drives the creative process that is integral to any content marketing program…specifically, creating content.  And not just any content, but interesting content.

    The content you create has to be compelling to your future and existing customers.  It must be provoking, provide validation for them to share upstream, and foster kinship with your brand.  For some brands, this may seem like an easy task – particularly for B2C or trendy products. But when you sell something as dry as ERP software, or you’re educating consumers about retirement financing, the task requires considerable skill and dedication.

    Many companies fail to dedicate resources to their content marketing program.  “You mean I’m paying someone to sit around just to think about my industry, write about it and present on it?” a CMO might say.  Yes, that is precisely what I’m suggesting.  Or better yet, identify multiple thought leaders within your organization and allow them the time to generate and advance their ideas.  If you want to truly reap the benefits of your content marketing program, thought leadership must become a way of life in your organization.

    Do Leadership

    The “do” leaders are often overlooked.  These are the people in the background, creating opportunities for the thought leader to shine.

    The old philosophical conundrum comes to mind: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Your thought leaders can espouse the most cutting-edge corporate positioning and philosophies – but if no one hears, reads or sees what they have to say, it’s like silence in the forest.

    The do leader must effectively map out communications plans, keeping teams honest on timelines, meeting deadlines and budgets.  The do leader will identify outlets for content – blogs, videos, webinars, events, emails, social networks, editorials, infographics, reports and more.  While the do leader may not typically be in the spotlight, this role is critical to setting milestones, creating plans for execution, and measuring and refining success.

    If your content marketing program isn’t giving you the results you’d hoped, look at which of these two roles may be lacking.  Is your content actually compelling?  Do you have a plan for distribution of those captivating thoughts?  It’s time to regroup and ensure you’re working the program from both angles.

    If you’d like to talk about your content marketing efforts and how Trellist can help, feel free to drop us a line, and follow us on Twitter @trellist to get daily insights.

  • Re-examining Our Image of the Black Friday Shopper

    by Renee Cohen | Dec 02, 2011

    Several years ago, we defined the prototypical shopper as a woman with a family, two and a half children and a dog, living in suburban house with a minivan. On Black Friday, we pictured the holiday shopper lugging bags from eleven stores, smiling while she struggled to carry all her purchases. This year, we saw her as an aggressive and brutal beast, trampling other Wal-Mart shoppers and fighting for $2 waffle makers. While we might find amusement – and sometimes horror – at the exaggerated images shown on the nightly news, we know better. Let’s really examine today’s Black Friday Shopper.

    She, (because 62% of purchase decisions are made by a woman - NPD), started holiday shopping on Black Friday (52% of Americans did, according to ComScore). She did not complete her shopping on Friday and used work time on Monday to shop online (28% percent did, up 33% from last year according to NPD).

    She is within reach of her mobile device 75% of the time, often taking it to bed and the bathroom. According to IBM, her favorite mobile device is the iPad, and she’s more than twice as likely to use a mobile device to research retailers this year (10.8% vs 3.8% last year). At the same time, she is three times more likely to actually complete a purchase through her mobile device this year (6.6% vs 2.3%). Her favorite activity on her mobile device is to research gifts and prices while still in the store.

    While online, she watches mobile videos on Google (according to IBM’s Coremetics data). She most likely viewed advertising videos on Hulu, and has opted in to receiving retailer-based emails weekly. She is connected to brands on Facebook (80% are), and she has more friends her age than younger or older than she is. Although, according to IBM, less than 1% of purchases were directly inspired by a referral from social media (0.56% of sales on Black Friday), 86% of all social media referrals came from Facebook.

    We think today’s Black Friday Shopper is very different from what we saw on ABC and NBC News. She is a smart, mobile-savvy, well-researched consumer who seeks value based on real information and the opinions of the people and brands that she trusts.

    Just a thought – Happy Holidays!

Insights posts by: Renee Cohen

Renee Cohen
Savvy in both strategy and analytics, Renee helps clients harness their digital marketing potential with ROI-minded campaign planning and a keen understanding of customer needs in both B2C and B2B scenarios. Renee's work style is a prime example of our collective approach to client success.