Understanding Information Security & Risk Management via @sejournal, @DrSScheuing

This edited extract is from How to Use Customer Data by Sachiko Scheuing ©2024 and reproduced with permission from Kogan Page Ltd.

I have an extremely confidential piece of information on a particular sheet of paper. This A4-sized paper contains a list of Christmas presents I plan to give to my family members.

To make sure that no one gets access to this information, I have hidden it in my home office, in the cupboard next to my desk. There you find a chunky English dictionary.

When you open the page where “Christmas” is listed, you will find my precious list, carefully folded into two.

But what if my children or my other half comes to look something up in an analogue dictionary? Arguably, the risk is small, but I am not taking any chances. I have a secret language called Japanese.

My family might find that piece of paper, but all they will see will be タータンチェックの野球帽 and 腕時計, which are basically hieroglyphs to them.

Thanks to this, my family enjoys wonderful moments exchanging gifts every Christmas. Just writing about this makes me grin, imagining the surprised faces and a burst of laughter, surrounded by the green scent of the Christmas tree and the obligatory mulled wine.

This motivates me to conceal this highly sensitive information even more!

We will discuss how companies and their marketing department can protect their secrets, and their data, so that they, too, can bring a smile to their customers’ faces.

Understanding Information Security

In some games, you have this “get out of jail card.” With these cards, you can avoid missing out on a round of games. What if I said GDPR has something similar?

It is called data security.

The GDPR provisions for data security are in line with the risk-based approach embedded in law, where risk is mini­mized, and more flexibility is given to controllers.

For instance, when regulators decide on fines, they must take security measures companies have put in place to protect the data into consideration (see Article 83(2)c of GDPR) (legislation.gov.uk, 2016).

Say your laptop is stolen.

If it was encrypted, you do not need to inform your customers that there was a data breach. Not having to inform your customers saves the brand image your marketing department has been building for years.

That is one reason why data security is such an important discipline. Many organizations have a separate security department and a chief information security officer who heads the functional areas.

Those marketers who had security incidents published by news outlets must know how life-saving security colleagues can be in times of need.

Definition Of Information Strategy

The word data security is not found in Article 4 of GDPR, the article where definitions are listed. Instead, the word “security” appears in Article 5, where the basic premises of the data protection law are described.

In other words, data security is one of the main principles of the GDPR, “integrity and confi­dentiality.”

GDPR expects organizations to ensure the prevention of unauthorized or unlawful processing, accidental loss, destruction, or damage of data as one of the starting points for protecting personal data.

TOMs must be implemented to this end so that the integrity and confidentiality of the data are protected (Article 5(f) GDPR) (legislation.gov.uk, 2016).

Outside Of GDPR, Information Security Is Defined As Follows

Information security is the safeguarding of information and information systems against deliberate and unintentional unauthorized access, disruption, modification, and destruction by external or internal actors. (Gartner, Inc., 2023)

Information security is the technologies, policies, and practices you choose to help you keep data secure. (gov.uk, 2018)

Information security: The protection of information and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction in order to provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability. (NIST, 2023)

Approach To Information Security

Just as marketing professionals created strategic frameworks – 4Ps, 7Ps, 4Cs, and so on – so the school of information security strategy has come up with frameworks: the CIA triad and the Parkerian Hexad.

CIA stands for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.

Donn Parker, a security consult­ant, later expanded this framework with three more elements, namely Utility, Authenticity, and Possession.

Below is a brief description of the six aspects of the Parkerian Hexad (Bosworth et al, 2009).

Availability

Availability refers to the ability of the organization to access data. When, for instance, there is a loss of power and your marketers cannot access customer data, it is considered an availability problem.

The file is there, so it is not stolen. However, the marketer is temporarily unable to access the particular data.

Utility

Utility of the Parkerian Hexad relates to the problem of losing the usefulness of the data. For instance, if a campaign manager loses the encryption key to the data, the data is still there, and it can be accessed.

However, the data cannot be used because the emails needed for carrying out an email campaign are encrypted so they are useless.

Integrity

Maintaining integrity refers to preventing unauthorized changes to the data.

For instance, if an intern of the marketing department accidentally deletes the field “purchased more than two items” within the dataset, this is an integ­rity-related security incident.

If the manager of the intern can undo the deletion of the field, then the integrity of the data is intact.

Typically, integ­rity is maintained by assigning different access rights, such as read-only access for interns and read-and-write access for the marketing manager.

Authenticity

Authenticity relates to the attribution of data or information to the rightful owner or the creator of that data or information.

Imagine a situation where your advertising agency, acting as your data service provider, receives a fake email which instructs them to delete all your customer data.

The agency might think that it is a genuine instruction from your company, and executes the command. This is then an authenticity problem.

Confidentiality

When someone unauthorized gets access to a particular marketing analytic file, confidentiality is being breached.

Possession

The Parkerian Hexad uses the term possession to describe situations where data or information is stolen.

For instance, a malevolent employee of the marketing department downloads all the sales contact information to a mobile device and then deletes them from the network. This is a possession problem.

Risk Management

In addition to understanding the problems you are facing, using the Parkerian Hexad, your organization must know the potential security risks for the business.

Andress suggests a useful and generic five-step risk management process, for a variety of situations (Andress, 2019).

Step 1: Identify Assets

Before your organization can start managing your marketing department’s risks, you need to map out all data assets belonging to your marketing department.

In doing so, all data, some distributed in different systems or entrusted to service providers, must be accounted for.

Once this exercise is completed, your marketing department can determine which data files are the most critical. RoPA, with all processes of personal data mapped out, can be leveraged for this exercise.

Step 2: Identify Threats

For all data files and processes identified in the previous step, potential threats are determined. This may mean holding a brainstorming session with marketers and security and data protection departments to go through the data and processes one by one.

The Parkerian Hexad from the previous section can be a great help in guiding through such sessions. It will also be helpful to identify the most critical data and processes during this exercise.

Step 3: Assess Vulnerabilities

In this step, for each data-use surfaced in Step 2, relevant threats are identified.

In doing so, the context of your organization’s operation, products and services sold, vendor relations as well as the physical location of the company premises are considered.

Step 4: Assess Vulnerabilities

In this step, the threats and vulnerabilities for each data and process are compared and assigned risk levels.

Vulnerabilities with no corresponding threats or threats with no associated vulnerabilities will be seen as not having any risk.

Step 5: Mitigate Risks

For the risks that surfaced in Step 4, measures necessary to prevent them from occurring will be determined during this stage.

Andress identifies three types of controls that can be used for this purpose. The first type of control, logical control, protects the IT environment for processing your customer data, such as password protection and the placing of firewalls.

The second type of control is administrative control, which is usually deployed in the form of corporate security policy, which the organization can enforce. The last type of control is physical control.

As the name suggests, this type of control protects the business premises and makes use of tools such as CCTV, keycard-operated doors, fire alarms, and backup power generators.

With the time, risks may change.

For instance, your marketing department may be physically relocated to a new building, changing the physical security needs, or your company might decide to migrate from a physical server to a cloud-based hosting service, which means your customer data will have to move, too.

Both such situations necessitate a new round of the risk management process to kick off.

In general, it is advisable to revisit the risk management process on a regular interval, say annually, to keep your company on top of all risks your marketing department, and beyond, carry.

Approaching Risk Management With Three Lines Of Defence

Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) established a risk management model called Three Lines of Defence.

The model requires three internal roles: (1) the governing body, with oversight of the organization, (2) senior management, which takes risk management actions and reports to the governing body, and (3) internal audit, which provides independent assurance, to work together and act as robust protections to the organization (IIA, 2020).

The elements of the Three Lines of Defence are (IIA, 2020):

First Line Of Defence

Manage risks associated with day-to-day operational activities. Senior management has the primary responsibility, and emphasis is put on people and culture.

Marketing managers’ task here is to make sure that their department is aware of data protection risks, including security risks, and are following relevant corporate policies.

Second Line Of Defence

Identify risks in the daily business operation of the business. Security, data protection, and risk management teams carry out monitoring activities.

Senior management, including the CMO, is ultimately accountable for this line of defence. A well-functioning second line of defence requires good cooperation between marketing and security, data protection, and risk management teams.

Practically, it would mean understanding the importance of operational-level auditing and providing input to the security team, even when there are other pressing deadlines and business issues.

Third Line Of Defence

Provide independent assurance on risk management by assessing the first and second lines of defence. Independent corporate internal audit teams usually have this role.

Here, too, the marketing department will be asked to cooperate during audits. Assurance results reported to the governance body inform the strategic business actions for the senior management team.

References

  • Andress, J (2019) Foundations of information security, No Starch Press, October 2019.
  • Bosworth, S, Whyne, E and Kabay, M E (2009) Computer Security Handbook, 5th edn, Wiley, chapter 3: Toward a new framework for information security, Donn B Parker
  • Gartner, Inc. (2023) Information technology: Gartner glossary, www.gartner.com/ en/information-technology/glossary/information-security (archived at https:// perma.cc/JP27-6CAN)
  • IIA (2020) The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), The IIA”s Three Lines model, an update of the Three Lines of Defense, July 2020, www.theiia.org/globalassets/documents/resources/the-iias-three-lines-model-an-update-of-the-three-lines-ofdefense-july-2020/three-lines-model-updated-english.pdf (archived at https://perma.cc/9HX7-AU4H)
  • legislation.gov.uk (2016) Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council, 27 April 2016, www.legislation.gov.uk/eur/2016/679/ contents (archived at https://perma.cc/NVG6-PXBQ)
  • NIST (2023) National Institute of Standards and Technology, US Department of Commerce, Computer Security Resource Centre, Information Technology Laboratory, Glossary, updated 28 May 2023, https://csrc.nist.gov/glossary/term/ information_security (archived at https://perma.cc/TE3Z-LN94); https://csrc. nist.gov/glossary/term/non_repudiation (archived at https://perma.cc/DJ4A- 44N2)

To read the full book, SEJ readers have an exclusive 25% discount code and free shipping to the US and UK. Use promo code SEJ25 at koganpage.com here.

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

How Agencies Can Have Successful Client Partnerships [Part 2] via @sejournal, @coreydmorris

Let me start by saying that I know you’re successful and probably wonder what you can learn from me as an agency owner, leader, or staffer.

I will humbly admit that I can and do continue to learn from you; I have some great relationships with other agency owners and always learn something when I’m in the room with them – even if it sometimes feels more like a therapy session than one where we solve all of our problems.

The agency business is hard.

Whether we’re talking about advertising, digital, PR, or other niches and specializations, we’re in a hard industry. We care deeply about people – our own and those who are our clients – as well as the missions and causes that factor into the reasons we’re in our current gigs.

This article is my companion and “part 2” in this series. The first was about how brands can have successful relationships with agencies. In this one, I’m taking the other side.

I’m here today to share the 8 things I’ve learned over my nearly 20 years in agencies – mostly from the mistakes I have made – so if there’s anything you haven’t experienced, you don’t have to go through it yourself.

1. Know What You Want Or Need

This seems blunt, and I apologize if so. But it probably should be.

If you don’t fully push clients to share their goals or help define what success looks like for your partnership and their investment in an agency (or any resources), you’ll risk wasted dollars and time (for both sides) in getting to their ROI goals and risk churn or attrition of the client relationship.

For some clients, it is a process to figure out what they want and many agencies (including mine) have a robust planning and strategy process to help get to the definition and strategy mapping stage.

However, if you don’t work to elicit objectives and truths for their ROI math and measures that show if something is profitable or not, they might not be ready to go down the path of evaluating an agency partnership and, unfortunately, may sign on with you, but not last long.

2. Be Clear On Communication

I often emphasize to prospects and clients that I want them to be bold and honest and to share with us the details of when and how they want to be communicated with.

That is definitely not a one-way street.

Whether you have highly defined communication processes and cadences or typically adapt them to the client, I want to encourage you to be clear early in the relationship about what works best for your agency.

Be open to sharing how you like to communicate. That could be through email, Slack, text, phone calls, scheduled meetings, tickets, or messages in a project management system. Whatever it is, when it is, and what the response times they can expect, you are definitely best served in sharing about your communication parameters.

We never want clients guessing or our staff being caught up in out-of-cycle, off-hour messages or misaligned response windows.

Despite the constant change in subject matter (that we have to contend with), algorithms, and attribution, one of the biggest reasons prospects and clients still reach out to me is that they weren’t getting the communication they expected from their previous agency.

I know this is a two-way problem, and in many cases, the agency would probably acknowledge communication was an issue, too – or wish that they knew, as it is something that is, in many cases, easy to correct compared to the other challenges we face in meeting performance goals in an ever-changing marketplace.

3. Remember The Scope

My companion article mentions scope, and I want to make sure it isn’t lost or forgotten on the agency side as well. I’m as guilty as anyone of wanting to add value (aka over-service) to clients to show them love in the relationship.

Despite the goodwill built and the potential for growing lifetime value with a client, we have to make sure that our teams understand the scope.

If you have tailored scope documents to different clients, then maybe your team is really dedicated to scope management. However, regardless of what your scope management looks like, if you aren’t tracking utilization, efficiency, and profitability in your agency – down to the client level – then you’re likely operating without all of the information you need.

It is really easy for an owner, salesperson, or anyone to get a scope approved in a contract, SOW, MSA, or other document and then for the team to take over and not look back at it.

Be diligent about what is in scope and what is out of scope, and have dedicated processes to monitor and implement the proper change orders and management techniques to stay on budget in a professional manner.

4. Be Invested

This is a weird one. We all say that we are invested and excited about any client who comes through our doors and chooses to work with us—and that we choose to work with. However, I have seen a lot of strange things in my career.

Again, no judgment here, and I can’t say that my team has been fully engaged or invested in every single relationship. Naturally, there are clients and brands in some less-than-sexy industries.

There are clients who are not the easiest to connect with on a personal level. There are clients who are not themselves invested in the work. Or, there are clients who are not pleasant to interact with, and for any number of reasons, you can’t fire them at this moment.

In any situation, it shows when we aren’t invested in the client. Maybe they were the first to show it, or maybe we were. They could be quiet quitting on us.

Whatever it is, we need to show our commitment to not just the day-to-day but to being the idea-bringing, problem-solving, solution-seeking, and proactive communicating member of their team that we can be. We must show our commitment and do all that we can to be fully invested in the relationship.

5. Share Your Expectations

Understanding and managing client expectations is important in the agency/client relationship. It has been talked about forever and will continue to be.

Expectations, however, are a two-way street. We want to know what our clients expect and to help shape those expectations to be realistic based on the scope, our expertise, or the scale of the services we’re offering.

However, what if we also stated what we expect of our clients? I’m not saying it is a perfect process, as the party who is paying the bill typically wants to feel catered to and have their expectations met.

At the same time, as I think back on some of my team’s biggest challenges, they often stem from some type of asset, approval, deliverable, or step that a client hasn’t followed through on or done in a timely manner.

Did we do our best to clearly state our expectations on what we expected from the client? Did they know the consequences of not delivering?

Whether it is a balanced, mutual client agreement, a manifesto, bill of rights, or some other expectation-setting tool or document, I believe that agencies (including mine) should do a better job of stating our expectations while also trying to understand, manage, and set those of the client.

6. Be Patient, Yet Expect Accountability

This one is hard – sometimes really hard.

Accountability can be intimidating and something that is hard for agencies to accept as we typically, by default, don’t have control of client branding decisions, sales teams, ultimate marketing approvals, product roadmaps, or financial performance.

Yes, we often can get transparent ROI math, access to CRM, and possibly a seat at the marketing table.

The difficulty of accountability is that when we don’t have full control, we often can’t be fully accountable for results and actions. In relationships with little digital agency accountability, it is easy to stay on the search or marketing side of the table. That means doing what we can from the outside or a couple of levels deep.

We can report marketing metrics and KPIs and collaborate, but ultimately, it is up to the client to judge the effort’s ROI and connect all the dots.

On the other hand, to get to the depth we need in order to fully prove our ROI, we might not agree with or like the decisions being made and still have to settle for a certain level of accountability that isn’t totally fair to us.

In any situation, we must find a balance between being patient as we navigate getting as deep as possible with our clients versus pushing too hard or being walled off from information.

7. Provide A Clear Escalation Path

Most people in the business world are respectful and professional and want to maintain a positive reputation.

This leads to cordial relationships and often great camaraderie between people on the client and agency sides of the relationship.

However, if the day-to-day person on the agency side is close to the work or close to the client contact, chances are that the client contact may not feel super comfortable providing negative feedback.

Feedback is a great tool in general, as getting it early and often in a relationship allows for minor adjustments to strategy, communication, or other factors in the relationship. However, if someone doesn’t know where to give objective feedback or doesn’t feel they can do it without hurting feelings or being confrontational, then that is a problem.

I mentioned quiet quitting earlier.

I have observed a lot of quiet quitting of clients in agency relationships over the past couple of years. While I don’t know that having an escalation path is the biggest factor, I can definitely recommend making it clear and comfortable for the client to know how to give direct feedback, anonymous feedback, and feedback to others in the chain of command in a way that will be handled professionally so they aren’t shy about giving it.

8. Celebrate

This is possibly the most overlooked aspect of any agency relationship. It might be easy to keep the client at arms distance or even to assume they are celebrating their own wins separate from yours.

Assuming they have real wins in their company that have any attribution to or opportunity to bring in your agency for, then encourage it!

Good agencies care about their clients and their success. Companies who see that success and feel like their agency is a partner, not a vendor, should naturally want to celebrate together.

If you have a partnership that isn’t at arms length, please share your successes with the client and push them to share data and reasons to celebrate with you as well.

With how many years I’ve been doing this, I know our type. I know that we’re agency people who know how to properly party and celebrate things and love to hear about wins and share them.

Chances are, if we are good at sharing wins and cultivating a culture for our clients to share wins with us, we’ll be able to properly party with our clients and be one team instead of two in the relationship.

It might not seem like a big deal, but believe me – in the post-COVID era and in a decade with a lot of burnout, we need to celebrate wins more than ever.

Have Honest, Clear, and Difficult Conversations Earlier

While some of what I talked about might feel like tough love, please know that I will be the first to say that I’m not perfect, nor is my team.

Everything I have shared is what I believe in and is also something I want to be accountable for.

Whether it is setting expectations, making sure the fit with the client is right for both sides, being open to honest feedback, managing scope, or any number of other things that you can do to enhance the client experience and have smooth client relationships, I want to challenge you to test these things out and see how they improve retention, performance, and efficiency in your agency.

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Featured Image: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint (INP): A Step-By-Step Guide via @sejournal, @DebugBear

This post was sponsored by DebugBear. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Keeping your website fast is important for user experience and SEO.

The Core Web Vitals initiative by Google provides a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your website.

The three Core Web Vitals metrics are:

This post focuses on the recently introduced INP metric and what you can do to improve it.

How Is Interaction To Next Paint Measured?

INP measures how quickly your website responds to user interactions – for example, a click on a button. More specifically, INP measures the time in milliseconds between the user input and when the browser has finished processing the interaction and is ready to display any visual updates on the page.

Your website needs to complete this process in under 200 milliseconds to get a “Good” score. Values over half a second are considered “Poor”. A poor score in a Core Web Vitals metric can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Google collects INP data from real visitors on your website as part of the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). This CrUX data is what ultimately impacts rankings.

Image created by DebugBear, May 2024

How To Identify & Fix Slow INP Times

The factors causing poor Interaction to Next Paint can often be complex and hard to figure out. Follow this step-by-step guide to understand slow interactions on your website and find potential optimizations.

1. How To Identify A Page With Slow INP Times

Different pages on your website will have different Core Web Vitals scores. So you need to identify a slow page and then investigate what’s causing it to be slow.

Using Google Search Console

One easy way to check your INP scores is using the Core Web Vitals section in Google Search Console, which reports data based on the Google CrUX data we’ve discussed before.

By default, page URLs are grouped into URL groups that cover many different pages. Be careful here – not all pages might have the problem that Google is reporting. Instead, click on each URL group to see if URL-specific data is available for some pages and then focus on those.

Screenshot of Google Search Console, May 2024

Using A Real-User Monitoring (RUM) Service

Google won’t report Core Web Vitals data for every page on your website, and it only provides the raw measurements without any details to help you understand and fix the issues. To get that you can use a real-user monitoring tool like DebugBear.

Real-user monitoring works by installing an analytics snippet on your website that measures how fast your website is for your visitors. Once that’s set up you’ll have access to an Interaction to Next Paint dashboard like this:

Screenshot of the DebugBear Interaction to Next Paint dashboard, May 2024

You can identify pages you want to optimize in the list, hover over the URL, and click the funnel icon to look at data for that specific page only.

Image created by DebugBear, May 2024

2. Figure Out What Element Interactions Are Slow

Different visitors on the same page will have different experiences. A lot of that depends on how they interact with the page: if they click on a background image there’s no risk of the page suddenly freezing, but if they click on a button that starts some heavy processing then that’s more likely. And users in that second scenario will experience much higher INP.

To help with that, RUM data provides a breakdown of what page elements users interacted with and how big the interaction delays were.

Screenshot of the DebugBear INP Elements view, May 2024

The screenshot above shows different INP interactions sorted by how frequent these user interactions are. To make optimizations as easy as possible you’ll want to focus on a slow interaction that affects many users.

In DebugBear, you can click on the page element to add it to your filters and continue your investigation.

3. Identify What INP Component Contributes The Most To Slow Interactions

INP delays can be broken down into three different components:

  • Input Delay: Background code that blocks the interaction from being processed.
  • Processing Time: The time spent directly handling the interaction.
  • Presentation Delay: Displaying the visual updates to the screen.

You should focus on which INP component is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time, and ensure you keep that in mind during your investigation.

Screenshot of the DebugBear INP Components, May 2024

In this scenario, Processing Time is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time for the set of pages you’re looking at, but you need to dig deeper to understand why.

High processing time indicates that there is code intercepting the user interaction and running slow performing code. If instead you saw a high input delay, that suggests that there are background tasks blocking the interaction from being processed, for example due to third-party scripts.

4. Check Which Scripts Are Contributing To Slow INP

Sometimes browsers report specific scripts that are contributing to a slow interaction. Your website likely contains both first-party and third-party scripts, both of which can contribute to slow INP times.

A RUM tool like DebugBear can collect and surface this data. The main thing you want to look at is whether you mostly see your own website code or code from third parties.

Screenshot of the INP Primary Script Domain Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

Tip: When you see a script, or source code function marked as “N/A”, this can indicate that the script comes from a different origin and has additional security restrictions that prevent RUM tools from capturing more detailed information.

This now begins to tell a story: it appears that analytics/third-party scripts are the biggest contributors to the slow INP times.

5. Identify Why Those Scripts Are Running

At this point, you now have a strong suspicion that most of the INP delay, at least on the pages and elements you’re looking at, is due to third-party scripts. But how can you tell whether those are general tracking scripts or if they actually have a role in handling the interaction?

DebugBear offers a breakdown that helps see why the code is running, called the INP Primary Script Invoker breakdown. That’s a bit of a mouthful – multiple different scripts can be involved in slowing down an interaction, and here you just see the biggest contributor. The “Invoker” is just a value that the browser reports about what caused this code to run.

Screenshot of the INP Primary Script Invoker Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

The following invoker names are examples of page-wide event handlers:

  • onclick
  • onmousedown
  • onpointerup

You can see those a lot in the screenshot above, which tells you that the analytics script is tracking clicks anywhere on the page.

In contrast, if you saw invoker names like these that would indicate event handlers for a specific element on the page:

  • .load_more.onclick
  • #logo.onclick

6. Review Specific Page Views

A lot of the data you’ve seen so far is aggregated. It’s now time to look at the individual INP events, to form a definitive conclusion about what’s causing slow INP in this example.

Real user monitoring tools like DebugBear generally offer a way to review specific user experiences. For example, you can see what browser they used, how big their screen is, and what element led to the slowest interaction.

Screenshot of a Page View in DebugBear Real User Monitoring, May 2024

As mentioned before, multiple scripts can contribute to overall slow INP. The INP Scripts section shows you the scripts that were run during the INP interaction:

Screenshot of the DebugBear INP script breakdown, May 2024

You can review each of these scripts in more detail to understand why they run and what’s causing them to take longer to finish.

7. Use The DevTools Profiler For More Information

Real user monitoring tools have access to a lot of data, but for performance and security reasons they can access nowhere near all the available data. That’s why it’s a good idea to also use Chrome DevTools to measure your page performance.

To debug INP in DevTools you can measure how the browser processes one of the slow interactions you’ve identified before. DevTools then shows you exactly how the browser is spending its time handling the interaction.

Screenshot of a performance profile in Chrome DevTools, May 2024

How You Might Resolve This Issue

In this example, you or your development team could resolve this issue by:

  • Working with the third-party script provider to optimize their script.
  • Removing the script if it is not essential to the website, or finding an alternative provider.
  • Adjusting how your own code interacts with the script

How To Investigate High Input Delay

In the previous example most of the INP time was spent running code in response to the interaction. But often the browser is already busy running other code when a user interaction happens. When investigating the INP components you’ll then see a high input delay value.

This can happen for various reasons, for example:

  • The user interacted with the website while it was still loading.
  • A scheduled task is running on the page, for example an ongoing animation.
  • The page is loading and rendering new content.

To understand what’s happening, you can review the invoker name and the INP scripts section of individual user experiences.

Screenshot of the INP Component breakdown within DebugBear, May 2024

In this screenshot, you can see that a timer is running code that coincides with the start of a user interaction.

The script can be opened to reveal the exact code that is run:

Screenshot of INP script details in DebugBear, May 2024

The source code shown in the previous screenshot comes from a third-party user tracking script that is running on the page.

At this stage, you and your development team can continue with the INP workflow presented earlier in this article. For example, debugging with browser DevTools or contacting the third-party provider for support.

How To Investigate High Presentation Delay

Presentation delay tends to be more difficult to debug than input delay or processing time. Often it’s caused by browser behavior rather than a specific script. But as before, you still start by identifying a specific page and a specific interaction.

You can see an example interaction with high presentation delay here:

Screenshot of the an interaction with high presentation delay, May 2024

You see that this happens when the user enters text into a form field. In this example, many visitors pasted large amounts of text that the browser had to process.

Here the fix was to delay the processing, show a “Waiting…” message to the user, and then complete the processing later on. You can see how the INP score improves from May 3:

Screenshot of an Interaction to Next Paint timeline in DebugBear, May 2024

Get The Data You Need To Improve Interaction To Next Paint

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Screenshot of the DebugBear Core Web Vitals dashboard, May 2024

Google’s CrUX data is aggregated over a 28-day period, which means that it’ll take a while before you notice a regression. With real-user monitoring you can see the impact of website changes right away and get alerted automatically when there’s a big change.

DebugBear monitors lab data, CrUX data, and real user data. That way you have all the data you need to optimize your Core Web Vitals in one place.

This article has been sponsored by DebugBear, and the views presented herein represent the sponsor’s perspective.

Ready to start optimizing your website? Sign up for DebugBear and get the data you need to deliver great user experiences.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Redesign.co. Used with permission.

7 Ways AI Took My Job [To The Next Level] via @sejournal, @CallRail

With AI-powered call attribution, you can gain valuable insights into which channels are driving the most conversions.

How Call Attribution Works

  • Step 1: Assign – Select unique call tracking numbers to assign to each campaign or listing.
  • Step 2: Track – Potential customers see your ad or listing and call the associated phone number.
  • Step 3: Forward –The calls ring directly into your main business phone, regardless of which number they use.
  • Step 4: Analyze – Because they used one of your tracking numbers, you instantly know which ad or campaign inspired them to call.

With AI-powered call tracking, gone are the days of wondering how your digital marketing efforts are tied to high-value inbound calls.

For agencies, this helps prove the real value of your services and extend the life of your client relationships.

2. AI Can Help You Save Time On Manually Reviewing Calls

Listening to and analyzing phone calls manually can be time-consuming and inefficient for agencies.

However, it’s an important part of understanding the customer experience and sales team performance.

With AI-powered call analysis tools, you get quality, keyword-tagged transcriptions with near-human-level accuracy.

Not only can this technology help you save over 50% of the time spent listening to phone calls, but it can also help you deliver actionable recommendations to clients and drive better results.

Conversation Intelligence, for instance, is trained on over 1.1M hours of voice data and enables real-time analysis for instantaneous results.

This advanced tool provides opportunities for you to improve your strategy through the following granular insights:

  • Spotting disparities in the industry-specific lingo your sales team uses, compared to the lingo your prospects are using to describe their business challenges and goals.
  • Identifying trends or gaps in your service offerings based on what your prospects are asking for.
  • Identifying frequently asked questions and other important topics to address through content marketing.
  • Setting goals for lead qualification — not just the quantity of leads generated for your business.

Conversational AI is perfectly suited to summarize the content of long conversations – however, the call summaries still require a human to read them and determine the main takeaways.

But if you work in a bustling small business, it’s unlikely you’d have the bandwidth for tasks such as call transcription, summaries, keyword spotting, or trend analysis.

Rather than displacing human labor, conversational AI is assisting businesses in taking on tasks that may have been overlooked and leveraging data that would otherwise remain untapped.

3. AI Can Help You Lower Cost Per Lead / Save Money On Tools & Ad Spend

Ever wonder why certain campaigns take off while others fall flat? It’s all in the data!

Even failed campaigns can offer invaluable insights into your client’s audience and messaging.

But if you can’t spot the underperformers quickly enough, you risk wasting your ad budget on ineffective tactics.

The quicker you can identify what’s working and what’s not, the quicker you can pivot and adjust your marketing strategy.

With AI-powered tools, agencies can access instant insights that enable them to reduce wasteful spending and improve overall campaign efficiency.

How To Deliver More Value With AI

  • Make a bigger impact in less time: AI-powered technology creates a force multiplier within your agency, allowing you to make more of an impact with the same level of inputs you’re already using.
  • Unlock actionable insights from call data: AI is revolutionizing the way companies leverage call data by enabling them to gain insights at scale. As a result, businesses can increase their ROI and deliver greater value to their clients by analyzing hundreds of calls efficiently.
  • Foster alignment with data-driven strategies: By analyzing customer conversations with AI, businesses can align their marketing strategy with data-driven recommendations, enhancing overall coherence. Additionally, the ability to create triggers based on specific phrases enables automated analysis and reporting, further streamlining the alignment process.
  • Drive effectiveness with rapid insights: Leveraging Conversation Intelligence enables agencies to deliver better insights faster, increase conversion rates, refine keyword strategies, and develop robust reporting capabilities.

With the right AI-powered tools, you can access the insights you need to ensure maximum ROI for your clients.

4. AI Can Help You Improve Overall Agency Efficiency

Are you spending too much valuable time on tasks that produce minimal results?

Many agencies find themselves bogged down by routine, administrative tasks that don’t contribute much to their bottom line.

But with AI automation, agencies can streamline their operations and redirect their energy towards more strategic endeavors.

From email scheduling and social media posting to data entry and report generation, AI can handle a wide array of tasks with precision and efficiency – giving you time to focus on high-impact activities that drive growth and deliver tangible results.

Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Automation

  1. Automatically transcribe your calls to boost close rates: See how your team is handling difficult objections and ensure that they’re delivering your businessʼ value proposition in an effective manner.
  2. Score calls based on quality and opportunity: Take the time-consuming work out of scoring your calls and determine which campaigns drive the best calls to your business.
  3. Classify calls by your set criteria: Qualify, score, tag, or assign a value to the leads that meet your criteria, automatically.
  4. Automatically redact sensitive information: Protect your customers by removing billing or personal information. Keep your data safe and secure through complete HIPAA compliance.
  5. Monitor your teamsʼ performance: Use Conversation Intelligence as a valuable sales training tool to ensure your team doesn’t miss any key messaging marks.
  6. Know your customersʼ needs: Identify conversation trends in your phone calls and stay privy to evolving customer needs.
  7. Improve your digital marketing strategy: Use AI-powered insights to inform your digital marketing strategy and boost your online presence.

By automating mundane tasks, agencies can optimize workflows, increase productivity, and improve efficiency across the board.

Looking for 5 – 7? Download The Full Guide

Rather than fearing AI, the future belongs to those who embrace it.

By strategically combining human creativity with artificial intelligence, you can unlock capabilities that transcend what either could achieve alone.

Want to discover even more ways to level up your agency with AI?

Get the full guide here.

Top 15 Ways To Secure A WordPress Site via @sejournal, @inmotionhosting

Thankfully, there are plenty of steps you can take to protect your WordPress website.

Easy WordPress Security Basics

When setting up your WordPress site security, there are some basic things you can do to beef up your protection.

Below, we will take a look at some of the first things you should do to help protect your website.

1. Implement SSL Certificates

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates are a standard technology that establishes an encrypted connection between a web server (host) and a web browser (client). This connection ensures all data passed between the two remains private and intrinsic.

SSL certificates are an industry-standard used by millions of websites to protect their online transactions with their customers, and obtaining one should be one of the first steps you take to secure your website.

2. Require & Use Strong Passwords

Along with obtaining an SSL certificate, one of the very first things you can do to protect your site is use strong passwords for all your logins.

It might be tempting to create or reuse a familiar or easy-to-remember password, but doing so puts both you and your website at risk. Improving your password strength and security decreases your chances of being hacked. The stronger your password, the less likely you are to be a victim of a cyberattack.

When creating a password, there are some general password best practices you should follow.

If you aren’t sure if you are using a strong enough password, you check the strength of one by using a free tool like this helpful Password Strength Checker.

3. Install A Security Plugin

WordPress plugins are a great way to quickly add useful features to your website, and there are several great security plugins available.

Installing a security plugin can add some extra layers of protection to your website without requiring much effort.

To get you started, check out this list of recommended WordPress security plugins.

4. Keep WordPress Core Files Updated

As of 2024, there are an estimated 1.09 billion total websites on the web with more than 810 million of those sites using WordPress.

Because of its popularity, WordPress websites are oftentimes a target for hackers, malware attacks, and data thieves.

Keeping your WordPress installation up to date at all times is critical to maintain the security and stability of your site.

Every time a WordPress security vulnerability is reported, the core team starts working to release an update that fixes the issue.

If you aren’t updating your WordPress website, then you are likely using a version of WordPress that has known vulnerabilities.

There is especially no excuse for using an outdated version of WordPress since the introduction of automatic updates.

Don’t leave yourself open to attack by using an old version of WordPress. Turn on auto updates and forget about it.

If you would like an even easier way to handle updates, consider a Managed WordPress solution that has auto updates built in.

5. Pay Attention To Themes & Plugins

Keeping WordPress updated ensures your core files are in check, but there are other areas where WordPress is vulnerable that core updates might not protect such as your themes and plugins.

For starters, only ever install plugins and themes from trusted developers. If a plugin or theme wasn’t developed by a credible source, you are probably safer not using it.

On top of that, make sure to update WordPress plugins and themes. Just like an outdated version of WordPress, using outdated plugins and themes makes your website more vulnerable to attack.

6. Run Frequent Website Backups

One way to protect your WordPress website is to always have a current backup of your site and important files.

The last thing you want is for something to happen to your site and you do not have a backup.

Backup your site, and do so often. That way if something does happen to your website, you can quickly restore a previous version of it and quickly get back up and running.

Intermediate WordPress Security Measures That Add More Protection

If you’ve completed all the basics but you still want to do more to protect your website, there are some more advanced steps you can take to bolster your security.

Let’s take a look at what you should do next.

7. Never Use The “Admin” Username

Never use the “admin” username. Doing so makes you susceptible to brute force attacks and social engineering scams.

Because “admin” is such a common username, it is easily-guessed and makes things much easier for scammers to trick people into giving away their login credentials.

Much like having a strong password, using a unique username for your logins is a good idea because it makes it much harder for hackers to crack your login info.

If you are currently using the “admin” username, change your WordPress admin username.

8. Hide Your WP Admin Login Page

On top of using a unique username another thing you can do to protect your login credentials is hide your WordPress admin login page with a plugin like WPS Hide Login.

By default, a majority of WordPress login pages can be accessed by adding “/wp-admin” or “/wp-login.php” to the end of a URL. Once a hacker or scammer has identified your login page, they can then attempt to guess your username and password in order to access your Admin Dashboard.

Hiding your WordPress login page is a good way to make you a less easy target.

9. Disable XML-RPC

WordPress uses an implementation of the XML-RPC protocol to extend functionality to software clients.

Most users don’t need WordPress XML-RPC functionality, and it’s one of the most common vulnerabilities that opens users up for exploits.

That’s why it’s a good idea to disable it. Thanks to the Wordfence Security plugin, it is really easy to do just that.

10. Harden wp-config.php File

The process of adding extra security features to your WordPress site is sometimes known as “hardening” because you are essentially giving your site some extra armor against hackers.

You can “harden” your website by protecting your wp-config.php file via your .htaccess file. Your WordPress wp-config.php file contains very sensitive information about your WordPress installation including your WordPress security keys and the WordPress database connection details, which is exactly why you don’t want it to be easy to access.

11. Run A Security Scanning Tool

Sometimes your WordPress website might have a vulnerability that you had no idea existed. That’s why it’s wise to use some tools that can find vulnerabilities and even fix them for you.

The WPScan plugin scans for known vulnerabilities in WordPress core files, plugins and themes. The plugin also notifies you by email when new security vulnerabilities are found.

Strengthen Your Server-Side Security

So you have taken all the above measures to protect your website but you still want to know if there is more you can do to make it as secure as possible.

The remaining actions you can take to beef up your security will need to be done on the server side of your website.

12. Look For A Hosting Company That Does This

One of the best things you can do to protect your site from the very get-go is to choose the right hosting company to host your WordPress website.

When looking for a hosting company, you want to find one that is fast, reliable, and secure, and will support you with great customer service.

That means they should have good, powerful resources, maintain an uptime of at least 99.5%, and use server-level security tactics.

If a host can’t check those basic boxes, they are not worth your time or money.

13. Use The Latest PHP Version

Like old versions of WordPress, outdated versions of PHP are no longer safe to use.

If you aren’t on the latest version of PHP, upgrade your PHP version to protect yourself from attack.

14. Host On A Fully-Isolated Server

Fully-isolated virtual private servers have a lot of advantages and one of those advantages is increased security.

The physical isolation offered from a cloud-based VPS is inherently secure, protecting your website against cross-infection from other customers. Combined with robust firewalls and DDoS protection, your data remains secure against potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Looking for the perfect cloud environment for your WordPress website? Look no further.

With InMotion Hosting’s Platform i, you receive unparalleled security features including managed server updates, real-time security patching, web application firewalls, and DDoS prevention, along with purpose-built high-availability servers optimized for fast and reliable WordPress sites.

15. Use A Web Application Firewall

One of the final things you can do to add extra security measures to your WordPress website is use a web application firewall (WAF).

A WAF is usually a cloud-based security system that offers another layer of protection around your site. Think of it as a gateway for your site. It blocks all hacking attempts and filters out other malicious types of traffic like distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks or spammers.

WAFs usually require monthly subscription fees, but adding one is worth the cost if you place a premium on your WordPress website security.

Make Sure Your Website & Business Is Safe & Secure

If your website is not secure, you could be leaving yourself open to a cyber attack.

Thankfully, securing a WordPress site doesn’t require too much technical knowledge as long as you have the right tools and hosting plan to fit your needs.

Instead of waiting to respond to threats once they happen, you should proactively secure your website to prevent security issues.

That way if someone does target your website, you are prepared to mitigate the risk and go about your business as usual instead of scrambling to locate a recent backup.

Get Managed WordPress Hosting featuring robust security measures on high-performance servers, complete with free SSL, dedicated IP address, automatic server updates, DDoS protection, and included WAF.

Learn more about how Managed WordPress Hosting can help protect your website and valuable data from exposure to hackers and scammers.

Google Universal Analytics 360 Sunsetting Soon: Migration Tips & Top Alternative Inside via @sejournal, @PiwikPro

This post was sponsored by Piwik PRO. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

This year, Google will finally phase out Universal Analytics 360, requiring paid users to switch to Google Analytics 360.

This is not something you can skip or postpone, and the clock is ticking.

The new analytics differ significantly from the previous version, and you can’t migrate data between them, so the transition can be challenging for organizations.

Since you’ll be starting from scratch, now is a good time to explore other options and determine if there are better solutions for your needs.

The three main areas to consider when deciding if you want to stay with Google or move to another platform are: the migration process, privacy and compliance, and ease of use.

When Is Google Universal Analytics 360 Sunsetting?

July 1, 2024 is when Google will phase out Universal Analytics 360.

What Should I Do Next?

Google encourages you to migrate to Google Analytics 360 as quickly as possible.

If you don’t, you could:

  • Lose critical advertising capabilities.
  • Lose the ability to export historical data.
  • Face delays in setting up Google Analytics 360.

    How To Migrate To Your Next Analytics Platform

    Moving to a new platform is much more than just implementation; it is vital to plan your migration properly. Below are five steps to help you through the entire process.

    Step 1. Evaluate Your Stack & Resources

    Before you switch analytics tools, take the time to evaluate your entire stack, not just the tool you’re changing. Ensure that your stack is up-to-date and meets your current business needs. Migrating to a new analytics vendor almost always requires more people and more time than originally estimated. It’s a good occasion to remove redundant tools from your stack; it might also allow you to integrate with new ones that can help you run your analytics and collect data more comprehensively.

    Step 2. Tidy Your Data

    Over time, data collection may get messy, and you find yourself tracking data that isn’t relevant to your business. A migration gives you a chance to clean up your data taxonomy. Ensure that your new tool allows you to use the same categories of data as the previous one. Pay close attention to any data that needs to be collected automatically, like location data (country, region, city), and device details (device type, browser). Finally, make sure the SDKs you need are supported by your new tool.

    Step 3. Implement A New Platform

    This step involves setting up the tracking code that collects data about visitors to your website or app and making any necessary modifications. Remember to set up tags to gather more detailed data through events or connect third-party tools.

    Speed Up The Transition: If you switch to Piwik PRO, you can use a migration tool to easily transfer your settings from Universal Analytics (GA3) and Google Tag Manager.

    Step 4. Evaluate Tour New Data

    Once you’re done implementing your new platform, you should run it parallel to your existing tool for a few months before finalizing the migration. During this time, you can audit your new data and correct any errors. In this manner, you can retain your historical data while simultaneously generating new data segments on the new platform.

    Step 5. Provide Training For Your Team

    All end users need training to comprehend the platform’s operations, retrieve necessary data, and generate reports. This step is frequently missed as it falls at the end of the project.

    Upon finishing this step, you will be set to switch to your new platform fully. If you find the migration process challenging, consider getting help from outside sources. Some analytics vendors offer hands-on onboarding and user training, which accelerates product adoption.

    Is Switching To Google Analytics 360 Worth The Hassle?

    You might be thinking, “Migrating to the successor of UA 360 won’t be a walk in the park,” especially if you work for a large organization.

    In addition to subscription and data migration costs, you may also need to train your staff or increase fees for external marketing agencies that will face new challenges.

    While Analytics 360 has incredible use cases, there may be other tools that better suit your needs.

    Switching to alternative solutions may be a good option for you.

    How To Pick A Replacement For Universal Analytics 360

    To decide whether to choose a new platform or stick with Google, consider a few important factors:

    1. Because GA 360 is a different software, your marketing and analytics departments will need to allocate extra resources to learn the new platform. You will also need the support of analysts, developers, and data architects to help you reconstruct reports based on the data architecture of the chosen platform. Choosing a solution with similar features and user experience to UA 360 can be a good option, because it saves resources, making onboarding faster and easier.
    2. You will also need to redesign your entire customer journey, because the data model in GA360 has changed from sessions to events. This process can be more challenging and costly than choosing a session-based platform or one that offers you freedom of choice.
    3. Another important consideration is the level of support offered by the vendor. This can greatly affect the quality of the migration and onboarding to a new platform. Although Google Analytics is currently the most popular tool for analyzing web traffic, the level of support it provides is limited. Other companies like Piwik PRO can offer more in this area, including personalized onboarding, product implementation, training, and dedicated customer support at every step.

    Consideration 1: Think About Privacy & Compliance

    Organizations around the world are increasingly concerned with data privacy and compliance. A 2023 Thomson survey found that 80% of business professionals acknowledge the importance of compliance as a crucial advisory function for their organizations. Gartner, on the other hand, predicts that, by 2025, 60% of large enterprises will use at least one privacy-enhancing computing (PEC) technique in analytics, business intelligence, and/or cloud computing.

    This is due to a growing number of new regulations that place greater control over personal data at the forefront. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are two of the most prominent examples. The landscape has been further complicated by events such as the Schrems II case, Brexit, and China’s Personal Data Protection Law. Data protection is also increasingly important in some sectors, such as healthcare, where regulations like HIPAA are mandatory.

    If your company operates globally or has ambitions to do so, the first thing to consider is who has full ownership of the data, where the servers hosting the data are located, and who owns them. Google Analytics 360 only offers cloud deployment in an unknown location, which means that data might be transferred between data centers in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. This makes it difficult to know exactly where the data is stored and ownership is unclear. For now, the issue of data transfers between the US and the EU has been resolved by the EU-US Privacy Shield framework agreement, but the future stays unclear. Last year, NOYB, led by Max Schrems, announced that it would soon appeal this decision to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

    To meet privacy and compliance requirements in different countries and industries, choose a platform that allows you to customize your hosting plan and set specific parameters for data collection and analysis. Platforms like Piwik PRO Analytics Suite enable you to store your data on servers in Europe, the US, and Asia, based on your preferences. This translates into flexibility and security of your data.

    Consideration 2: Ease Of Use & Integration

    This may sound counterintuitive, but the new GA 360 might be too complex for many. While it offers numerous advanced functions for data analysts, it lacks features specifically designed for marketers. As a result, marketers may need help in configuring the system to efficiently use the data.

    On the other hand, in GA 360, the data model shifts from session-based to event-based. This is especially important if your teams depend on UA 360 behavioral reporting, benchmarking, and e-commerce flow reports, as these features are unavailable in the new release. You also need to revise all the reports for all the stakeholders.

    Conversely, Piwik PRO strongly emphasizes simplicity and enables marketers to quickly access the necessary data. Additionally, the data model combines both session-based and event-based structures. This approach ensures that you can start working with the data faster and deliver the reports that stakeholders are used to. Another big advantage of Piwik PRO is its model for working with raw data, which is a valuable source of knowledge about users and provides richer reporting in more contexts. Google Analytics does not provide raw data exports, so you have to use various services and tools to accomplish this. To be fair, however, exporting large raw data packets with Piwik PRO software may take longer than with Google solutions.

    The new GA 360 is most effective when used mainly with products from the Google ecosystem. When considering data activation, Google Ads is the most suitable option. When it comes to Piwik PRO, you still have this option, but integrating with other solutions is much easier. The platform offers four modules: Analytics, Tag Manager, Consent Manager and Customer Data Platform (CDP). The CDP module, available in the paid plan, lets you create detailed customer profiles and categorize your data into various audience segments. You can activate them to provide a personalized experience and run effective campaigns across multiple channels.

    The landscape of modern analytics is constantly changing. On the one hand, there are ongoing discussions about privacy and compliance regulations, while on the other, companies are trying out various methods to collect and analyze data. In the end, your choice of analytics platform will impact the performance of your marketing and sales efforts. So take the time to explore, and you may find other solutions that better suit your organization’s needs.

    Piwik PRO is a solid choice to explore for your next primary analytics solution. Book a personalized demo of the Enterprise version and see the benefits of introducing Piwik PRO Analytics Suite in your organization.


    Image Credits

    Featured Image: Image by Piwik PRO Used with permission.

    How To Address Middle And Bottom Of Funnel Pain Points via @sejournal, @alexanderkesler

    The B2B marketplace has evolved rapidly in recent years due to various global factors, with the pandemic and economic turbulence being the top drivers.

    As a result, there has been a notable change in both marketer and buyer priorities in recent years.

    Speaking with our clients and partners, I have observed that in 2024, marketers’ top priorities have shifted from personalized outreach to generating sales-ready leads and driving pipeline opportunities.

    This likely results from a more evident objective of proving return on investment (ROI), and pressuring marketers to effectively guide prospective clients through the discovery and purchase journey more efficiently.

    However, this focus is understandable given the benefits of a stable pipeline with middle (MOFU) and bottom (BOFU) of the funnel leads.

    Not only does it offer a consistent avenue for sustained growth, but it also allows sales teams to capitalize on the best opportunities for conversion.

    In this guide, I present playbooks we implemented at INFUSE and recommend for B2B organizations in 2024 to effectively address the most common MOFU and BOFU pain points to increase conversions.

    The Evolution Of The B2B Buyer

    The increasing complexity of the buyer’s journey – a result of buyers taking a largely defensive position in an effort to de-risk their portfolios – has resulted in expanded B2B buying committees, extended sales cycles, and more discerning buyers across buying committees of organizations of all sizes and complexities.

    This shift is unsurprising, considering that 83% of buyers initiate first contact with vendors. It suggests that sellers learn about buying processes on the buyer’s terms.

    Buying committees are also increasingly younger, with many now comprising Millennials and Gen Z. These generations demonstrate unique buying behaviors compared to their predecessors; they are more independent, tech-native, and display a greater need for autonomy in their client journeys.

    In fact, research shows that approximately 70% of the buyer’s journey is now done completely independently, without ever engaging with sales.

    These young buyers have also prioritized cloud purchases, particularly due to the effortless integration of low/no-code solutions that allow organizations to build on their purchases in their own time as resources allow.

    Addressing Middle-Of-The-Funnel (MOFU) Pain Points

    Below is a list of the four most common middle-of-the-funnel pain points and strategies to address these challenges:

    1. Lack Of Personalization

    Conversions often stall due to a lack of understanding of the key needs buyers face in MOFU, as well as identifying the right timing and messaging to increase velocity to the bottom of the funnel.

    Below are four tactics to address this pain point effectively:

    Utilize Accurate Targeting With Segmentation

    Ensure that prospective buyers are correctly segmented throughout their buyer’s journey.

    Adjust targeting as their pain points and goals change to ensure aligned messaging. This can be streamlined with the use of data analytics tools to identify and categorize audiences based on their unique behaviors.

    Make Use Of Data Throughout The Buyer’s Journey

    It is normal for prospective clients to move freely in their buyer’s journey, often skipping phases or going back to research as needed.

    Be sure to continually assess their position using behavioral data and other feedback mechanisms to ensure they receive the correct nurturing for their funnel stage.

    Implement Feedback Mechanisms To Understand Prospect Challenges

    Set up regular feedback loops via surveys, focus groups, and social listening tools to gather insights.

    These can be used to make adjustments and optimize nurturing to target buyers at the right time with relevant messaging on the platforms or channels they frequent.

    Find The Right Go-To-Market (GTM) Motion To Lead Your Nurturing And Funnel Efforts

    GTM models act as a blueprint for molding an organization’s frameworks.

    This involves determining target buyer personas, establishing interdepartmental data processes, and coordinating efforts to ensure a seamless revenue cycle.

    Often, organizations have several GTM motions running simultaneously, which can be beneficial to accelerate velocity with certain buyer segments, hone in on the right product-market fit, or test a new market or solution.

    2. Limited Budgets

    Budgets will consistently remain a focal point, particularly in a time of high expectations – not only for vendors, but internally within organizations and buying committees.

    Committee members are tasked with making carefully considered purchases that yield tangible returns, underscoring the importance of budget consciousness.

    Below are three tactics to address this pain point effectively:

    • Create a tiered pricing structure per persona designed to evolve alongside their budget and requirements. This allows for strategic upsells and cross-sells, maximizing revenue and catering to diverse needs.
    • Provide referral programs to accommodate their budgetary requirements (with incentives) while encouraging clients to stimulate top-of-funnel demand.

    3. Incorrect Content Or Messaging

    When buyers receive content or messaging that is not relevant to their pain points, role, or stage in the buyer’s journey, it diminishes their interest and trust in the brand.

    In fact, 47% of buyers reported that the key driver behind opening emails was relevant messaging.

    Below are three tactics to address this pain point effectively:

    • Deliver the right content to the right audience by tailoring messaging to suit the specific pain points and buyer’s journey stage of each prospect. Utilize customer relationship management systems (CRMs), data analytics, surveys, and other sources of buyer data to build highly personalized nurturing programs.
    • Ensure your content is demand-ready by understanding the role of core decision-makers in the buying process and tailoring your content accordingly. In addition, ensure that your messaging is adjusted to the channels they frequent.
    • Keep your brand top of mind by engaging buyers early with relevant content that addresses their evolving pain points. Providing answers to frequently asked questions and highlighting distinctive value propositions are essential for driving high engagement rates at the top of the funnel. This, in turn, facilitates the transition toward conversions in the subsequent phases, fostering sustained interest.

    4. Single Channel Engagement

    Buyers utilize more channels than ever, with the majority engaging with brands on 10 or more channels.

    This trend is evident in current B2B buyer behavior, as prospective clients consult a variety of sources before making buying decisions. As a result, organizations that rely solely on single-channel engagement risk overlooking crucial audience segments.

    Below are two tactics to address this pain point effectively:

    • Omnichannel engagement is a necessity. B2B buyers increasingly seek a seamless omnichannel journey, with 87% preferring a personalized and consistent experience across all channels. To meet this demand, it is important to integrate your sales and marketing efforts across multiple touchpoints, ensuring consistency and continuity throughout the buyer’s journey.
    • Email-only does not work anymore. While email remains a fundamental tool in B2B communication, its effectiveness as a standalone channel is fading. With crowded inboxes and evolving buyer preferences, organizations must diversify their communications and invest in strategies across multiple channels to create demand in their market – not just capture it.

    Addressing Bottom-Of-Funnel Pain Points

    Below is a list of the three most common bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) pain points and strategies on how to address them:

    1. Performance Against Competitors

    Considering the increased scrutiny of buyers in the current landscape, it comes as no surprise that most buying committees will seek to compare your solution with multiple competitors.

    This highlights the importance of establishing key differentiators and demonstrating how your solution best supports your buyers’ business growth and objectives.

    In fact, brand equity – as a precursor and counterbalance to full-funnel demand generation – is a critical element of a solid business strategy. Research shows that 84% of deals are won by the first vendor a buyer contacts.

    This first contact requires companies to have comprehensive brand-to-demand strategies in place, to ensure they are first on their buyers’ minds.

    Below are three tactics to address this pain point effectively:

    • Offer competitor analysis that clearly defines your unique value proposition (UVP) to engage BOFU leads. Develop personalized comparisons of products against your competitors based on the features that are of the most interest to each segment. Make this information engaging and accessible in brief reports and datasets that highlight your strengths at a glance.
    • Provide assurance through nurture streams that engage and educate prospective clients. Offer problem-solving content such as case studies, whitepapers, webinars, executive briefs, and industry reports demonstrating how your solution addresses challenges and delivers ROI.
    • Offer free tools and demos illustrating personalized problem-solving. Enable buyers to experience the benefits of your solution firsthand by offering free tools, demos, or trials that allow them to explore its capabilities. Tailor demos to address the specific pain points and objectives of each buyer or segment, and adjust your demo tactics to meet the needs of the increasingly younger, tech-savvy, and independent buyer.

    2. Integration And AI Concerns

    Amidst the challenge of managing bloated tech stacks, integration has become a key concern. 35% of executives reported their legacy software was rigid, expensive, and difficult to use.

    Buyers actively seek tools to solve new business challenges while navigating integration requirements.

    In addition, the B2B landscape has embraced the advantages of incorporating generative AI into day-to-day operations, as demonstrated by the fact that 73% of marketers were already leveraging generative AI, just six months after the release of OpenAI’s GPT4.

    Below are three tactics to address these pain points effectively:

    • Ensure solutions seamlessly integrate with existing systems. Proactively evaluate compatibility features of popular software and prioritize features that facilitate seamless integration. Establish a robust testing protocol to verify compatibility before deployment, ensuring minimal disruption and maximum value to clients.
    • Integrate AI into existing solutions where possible. Identify areas within your solution where AI integration can truly enhance functionality and value for clients. Collaborate with developers to seamlessly embed AI capabilities into these solutions and ensure thorough testing to guarantee integration and optimal performance.
    • Provide training to meet the demand for innovation and automation. Develop customized training and coaching programs tailored to your buyers’ specific needs and skill levels. Offer ongoing support and resources to facilitate continuous learning and adaptation to new technologies.

    Due to the democratization of technology, the rise of low-code/no-code solutions, and the increasing tech-savvy Millennial and Gen Z buyers, sellers now require a more solution-oriented approach, equipped with technical knowledge.

    By the time buyers are ready to meet with sellers (typically 70% or more into their purchasing journey), they often have detailed technical inquiries and may no longer require the high-level discussions that vendors are traditionally accustomed to.

    Meeting buyers where they are has become a fundamental requirement.

    3. ROI Concerns

    Buyers are increasingly pressured to achieve ROI goals, making this a recurring concern among those seeking information on how solutions can assist them in reaching their performance objectives.

    Below are two tactics to address this pain point effectively:

    • Support claims with case studies and/or customer testimonials. Utilize tangible ROI data from existing clients, preferably from the same or similar industries to the buyers. Combine this with case studies to inform bottom-of-funnel nurturing activities such as content and webinars.
    • Foster brand evangelism to build confidence. Provide exemplary post-sales service to support clients and regularly check in with them to ensure their satisfaction. Brand evangelism can be utilized to address common objections after a sale while establishing brand credibility within your industry.

    Key Takeaways

    Engage Buyers Where They Are In Their Buyer’s Journey

    Lead nurturing and engagement tactics should always be tailored to address the pain points, challenges, platforms, and context of your buyers at their current stage in the sales funnel, ensuring relevance and effectiveness.

    Innovate In Both Service And Technology To Maintain A Competitive Edge

    In the B2B landscape, where technology is becoming increasingly democratized, it is crucial to consistently evaluate and refine your strategies, such as prioritizing low/no-code approaches, to stay updated with industry trends.

    Explore Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategies

    To fuel your GTM strategies with iterative approaches and data-driven insights, establish protocols for testing and optimization.

    Continuously analyze performance metrics, refine tactics based on feedback, and foster collaboration across teams to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

    Continuously Assess And Optimize Strategies To Streamline Nurturing

    Given that each buyer’s challenges, needs, and readiness to purchase will frequently shift, ensure that you are closely monitoring their behavior triggers to optimize nurturing activities.

    More resources: 


    Featured Image: NicoElNino/Shutterstock

    5 Ways To Leverage Business Coaching To Grow Your Marketing Agency via @sejournal, @jasonhennessey

    As the owner of a marketing agency, it can be tempting to try and handle every aspect of your business single-handedly.

    After all, your vision and passion are often driving your agency forward.

    However, attempting to tackle every challenge alone can quickly lead to burnout and stagnation.

    This is where many agency owners bring in their secret weapon: a business coach.

    Many of today’s successful entrepreneurs — such as Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, and Eric Schmidt — were able to take their ventures to the next level with business coaching.

    From providing invaluable guidance and accountability to offering fresh perspectives and strategies, a business coach can revolutionize how you operate and scale your agency.

    Why Hire A Business Coach?

    Many agency owners don’t realize that business growth starts from the inside out.

    Rather than a toolbox of “strategies,” you need to re-examine how you perceive success, manage your team, and harness your unique strengths.

    The right business coach will help you foster personal growth – then professional growth – to achieve long-term, sustainable results.

    A business coach can provide:

    • An objective perspective on your business, providing insight into what is working well and what might be holding you back.
    • First-hand experience, advising you on the best strategies for scaling your team, reaching new revenue milestones, establishing your brand, etc.
    • Accountability, keeping you honest when it comes to your goals and commitments.
    • Skill development, spanning everything from financial planning and hiring to communication and public speaking.
    • A supportive environment for you to vent, navigate challenges, revel in successes, and discuss concerns in your business.

    After hiring my business coach, I quickly realized that I needed to shed old habits and open my mind to new ways of running my business.

    For example, I realized that losing myself in the day-to-day operations was not sustainable.

    My coach advised hiring a COO to manage operations, opening up more time for me, the Visionary, to create our Vivid Vision, and explore new business ventures and speaking opportunities.

    1. Lead Your Team With Confidence

    As an agency owner, it’s time to shatter the illusion of self-sufficiency and embrace the power of teamwork. Even if you’ve taken the steps to hire contractors or employees, I would bet there are some areas of your business where you’re resisting giving up control.

    A business coach will empower you to focus on the things you do best, whether that’s creative thinking, marketing your agency, speaking to clients, building a personal brand, etc.

    They will also be honest in identifying areas where you can delegate tasks to team members, allowing you to scale your agency more efficiently.

    Consider how much time and money are invested in you getting bogged down by tasks like social media posting, scheduling meetings, responding to emails, etc.

    A business coach may advise you on how to hire great talent, lead with confidence, develop a strong company culture, and ultimately achieve better results.

    2. Find Your “Trillion Dollar” Idea

    Many business owners consider themselves to be visionaries, as it takes creative thinking to come up with a business idea and follow it through to fruition.

    But these imaginative qualities can be hard to wrangle when you have too many ideas. A business coach can help you find clarity in the noise.

    That might not mean discovering a literal trillion-dollar idea, but at least focusing on the idea (or ideas) that will have the most impact on your business.

    That could mean launching a new offer, expanding to a new market, exploring speaking opportunities or brand partnerships, etc.

    Shiny object syndrome is often the death of many entrepreneurs; a business coach will help you stay on track with the right ideas.

    Beyond that, an experienced business coach will know how to quantify the success (or failure) of your latest venture.

    If your efforts aren’t paying off, they can help you shift focus. If your project is gaining traction, they can help you capitalize on that momentum.

    3. Avoid “Been There, Done That” Mistakes

    It’s important to learn from our mistakes – but many mistakes are avoidable.

    The value of working with a business coach is that they have made many mistakes before and can help you avoid preventable challenges.

    For example, there is a ton of bad advice out there about how to “scale.” You might assume that, say, launching a digital product is the best next step for your agency.

    But a business coach might have already launched a digital product many times over, and can tell you what to do and what not to do during the process – or whether you should scrap the idea completely.

    Also, in a personal development sense, they can warn you of the signs of burnout or notice when you are out of alignment with your goals. They’ll help you stay true to your priorities and avoid getting sidetracked on your journey to success.

    3. Get Your Finances In Check

    Financial management is a common area of avoidance for many business owners.

    The truth is that many of us have distorted beliefs about money, as well as general inexperience with how to manage it.

    An experienced business coach has likely overcome many of the mental blocks that make managing finances difficult. They’ll have learned the ins and outs of business bookkeeping, financial planning, tax preparation, and when to hire financial services.

    Your business coach can help you create a realistic budget and financial plan for your agency.

    They might advise on how to forecast future revenue and expenses, set financial goals, and set key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress.

    They’ll also likely have experience in cash flow management, helping to maintain a healthy influx of revenue to sustain your business.

    They might suggest strategies for improving cash flow, such as developing passive income streams, enforcing payment terms with clients, or optimizing your internal processes.

    Perhaps most importantly, business coaches can help with financial decision-making. This might mean advising on smart investments, expanding the business, up or downsizing personnel, integrating technology, or taking on debt.

    The right coach will empower you to take control of your agency finances.

    You’ll feel more prepared to dig into the numbers, incorporate best practices, and make informed decisions that benefit your business.

    4. Know When To Trim the Fat

    There’s a common trend in the marketing “agency” model of offering a wide, incohesive range of services. The result is a lack of point-of-view on what the agency does best, the audience it serves, and what it achieves for its clients.

    Business coaches help agency owners “trim the fat,” so to speak, when it comes to what’s superfluous in the agency.

    In other words, there may be several services that are generating little-to-no revenue and are instead causing a distraction in what is the core purpose of your agency.

    Even Sheryl Sternberg’s business coach highlights this concept, with the appeal to “[not] fall so deeply in love with your own content that you can’t see that some of it is excess.”

    Ultimately, your service offerings are most effective when they are clear, simple, and relevant to your target audience.

    For example, perhaps your agency does website design, branding, social media management, and email marketing, but 90% of your revenue comes from websites.

    Doubling down on your website design services may allow you to hone your offer, streamline your development process, increase your rates, and scale your new client acquisition system.

    5. Expand Your Network Of Winners

    One of the benefits of having a business coach that I wasn’t expecting was the networking opportunities.

    My executive coach was able to connect me with so many professionals and mentors who ended up helping me and my business. I’ve also formed friendships with other CEOs, and that support has been invaluable.

    Your business coach might introduce you to other winners in their network. You might not even realize you need their help.

    You’ll be able to tap into a wider pool of talent, mentors, thought leaders, and, yes, even friends.

    Again, the illusion of self-sufficiency can be a real killer in your business. Don’t assume that you can or should navigate this journey alone.

    Networking with other industry professionals can help you avoid common pitfalls, overcome growing pains in your agency, and step into new opportunities for growth.

    Finding The One

    While it may seem intimidating to invite an outsider into your inner circle, the benefits of hiring an experienced coach are undeniable.

    In hiring my business coach, I’ve gained invaluable insights and support that have allowed me to scale my agency to new heights.

    Finding “The One” (i.e., the right coach for you) will look different for everyone. For me, I happened to stumble across a TED talk by someone who challenged the way I saw business success.

    I read his books, followed his social media, and set a goal to work with him one day.

    That speaker was Cameron Herold, and I’m happy to say that I was able to hire him as my coach. And, man, am I glad that I did.

    In the early stages of our coaching journey, he illuminated a fundamental truth: While books provide valuable knowledge, a coach offers the swiftest route to implementation and tangible results.

    With his help, we were able to take our agency from $5M to $10M in revenue.

    Selecting a coach who is aligned with your specific needs is paramount.

    Whether that’s doubling your revenue, scaling a team, fine-tuning your offer, or striking a work-life balance, find someone who has been where you are now and has made it through to the next level.

    LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, Instagram, YouTube, and podcasts are great places to find people who are doing amazing things.

    As an agency owner, you’ll quickly discover how coaching is an investment that can have significant returns for your business.

    More resources:


    Featured Image: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

    10 Law Firm Marketing Tactics For Business Building In 2024 via @sejournal, @krisjonescom

    The legal industry is more competitive than ever, requiring law firms to leverage a blend of advanced technology and refined marketing tactics to stay ahead. A blend of SEO tactics to improve organic visibility and PPC advertising to target high-intent audiences can give you the edge.

    Modern marketing strategies require personalized approaches that resonate with clients and potential audiences. A mix of strategies can put your law firm in front of the right people at the right time.

    Below are timely recommendations for law firm marketing tactics, each designed to address distinct aspects of a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy.

    1. Develop A Comprehensive Marketing Calendar

    A well-planned marketing calendar is essential for law firms to strategically organize and schedule their marketing activities throughout the year.

    By mapping out campaigns, budgets, and key dates in advance, law firms can avoid ad-hoc marketing efforts and ensure a consistent and sustained approach.

    This proactive strategy enables firms to align marketing efforts with business objectives and key dates in the legal calendar, providing a framework for systematic progress and evaluation.

    Adapt to today’s dynamic omnichannel environment. Consider blending traditional channels like billboards and TV ads with a mix of organic and paid strategies on popular online platforms like Google and Facebook for optimal results.

    Read more: How To Create An Editorial Calendar For Content Marketing In 5 Easy Steps

    2. Embrace Digital Marketing

    A robust online presence is indispensable for law firms.

    This involves leveraging SEO to enhance search engine visibility, engaging in content marketing to provide value and establish authority, and utilizing social media platforms to connect with and expand the client base.

    While paid acquisition on Facebook and Google is competitive and expensive, it is necessary if your firm wants to stay top of mind when someone may need your services.

    Although competitive, digital marketing can be more cost-effective than traditional forms of advertising like print ads or billboards.

    With proper planning and execution, your law firm can reach a large audience without incurring the high costs associated with traditional marketing channels.

    A dynamic digital marketing strategy can significantly increase a law firm’s reach and reputation, attracting potential clients and reinforcing relationships with existing ones.

    Digital marketing offers robust analytics tools that allow your law firm to track the performance of your campaigns in real time.

    This means you can measure the effectiveness of your efforts and make data-driven decisions for optimization.

    Today’s digital marketing can be complex for non-trained and experienced professionals.

    Consider hiring an experienced digital marketing agency to gain access to experienced marketers.

    Be careful not to put your marketing dollars in the hands of inexperienced marketers who have recently graduated from college and are unlikely to have the skills necessary to compete effectively in the fiercely competitive legal vertical.

    Read more: 15 Top Digital Marketing Tools & Why We Love Them

    3. Personalize Marketing Efforts

    Personalization in marketing is about understanding and addressing the specific needs and interests of potential clients.

    Tailored messaging that resonates with a client’s unique legal situation enhances engagement and conversion rates.

    This involves creating content and marketing materials that speak directly to the concerns and questions of your target audience, making them feel seen and understood, thereby fostering trust and loyalty.

    Use audience targeting on paid digital ad platforms like Facebook to boost performance by showing ads to the most relevant audience.

    Audience targeting on Facebook refers to the process of selecting and defining specific groups of Facebook users who are most likely to be interested in your content, products, or services.

    You can also set up Custom Audiences, which allow you to target people who have already interacted with your business in some way, such as website visitors, app users, or people on your email list.

    You can upload your own customer data to create Custom Audiences.

    Once you’ve created a Custom Audience, you can use it as a source to create Lookalike Audiences.

    Facebook will find users who share similarities with your existing audience, expanding your reach to potential customers who are likely to be interested in your offerings.

    Read more: How To Use SEO To Target Your Audience Throughout The Funnel

    4. Implement Google Local Service Ads (LSAs)

    Google Local Service Ads (LSAs) are a cost-effective way for your law firm to connect with local clients.

    The pay-per-lead model ensures that your firm only spends on ads that directly result in client contact.

    LSAs appear at the top of Google’s search results, above even traditional paid search ads.

    This prime placement can significantly increase your law firm’s visibility and attract potential clients.

    Google verifies businesses that use LSAs, which can enhance your law firm’s credibility and trustworthiness.

    Potential clients are more likely to choose a verified and trusted legal service provider.

    LSAs operate on a pay-per-lead basis rather than pay-per-click.

    This means that your law firm only pays when a potential client contacts you directly through the ad, making it a cost-effective advertising option.

    LSAs allow your law firm to target ads to specific geographic areas, ensuring that they reach your potential clients who are actively searching for legal services in your local service area.

    By targeting individuals searching for legal services in specific areas, LSAs can generate high-quality leads.

    LSAs are designed with mobile users in mind, making it easy for potential clients to contact your law firm directly from their mobile devices. This is especially important considering the increasing use of smartphones for local searches.

    LSAs facilitate direct communication between potential clients and your law firm through phone calls and messages, streamlining the process of connecting with potential clients.

    Even if your law firm does not have a website or a limited online presence, you can still benefit from LSAs, as they provide a direct way for potential clients to contact your firm without visiting a website.

    Finally, maintaining an optimized Google Business Profile and gathering positive reviews are key to maximizing the effectiveness of LSAs as an acquisition channel for your law firm.

    Read more: Is Getting Your Google Business Profile “Google Guaranteed” Worth It?

    5. Implement And Use Google Analytics 4

    To gauge the effectiveness of marketing strategies, your law firm must employ analytics tools.

    Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a free software that provides detailed insights into how your law firm’s website performs.

    GA4 makes it easy for your law firm to understand how users navigate their website, including which pages are most visited, where users drop off, and the paths users take.

    This information can help optimize website content and user experience.

    Your law firm can also assess whether your website is effectively engaging and retaining visitors.

    By properly tracking the performance of your online campaigns, your firm will be able to understand client behavior and make more effective data-driven decisions.

    Regular analysis of these metrics enables your firm to refine its marketing strategies, optimize resource allocation, and enhance the return on investment (ROI) of your digital marketing efforts.

    Importantly, Google Analytics tracks specific actions that are valuable to your law firm’s marketing efforts, such as contact form submissions, phone calls, or appointment bookings.

    Also, by knowing where your website traffic is coming from – whether from organic search, paid advertising, social media, or referrals – you’ll be empowered to allocate marketing resources effectively and identify successful marketing channels.

    Finally, with the increasing use of mobile devices, Google Analytics 4 offers insights into how well your website performs on different devices and screen sizes.

    Your law firm can ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive, resulting in more traffic, leads, and marketing success.

    Read more: 7 Top Tips To Become A GA4 Pro (Even If You’re A Beginner)

    6. Utilize Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

    PPC advertising provides your law firm with immediate visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and other digital platforms.

    One of the clearest benefits of PPC advertising is that as soon as a campaign is launched, ads can start appearing in search results, generating traffic to your firm’s website quickly.

    PPC allows precise targeting based on keywords, demographics, location, and other factors.

    This precision ensures that ads are displayed to a highly relevant audience actively searching for legal services.

    With PPC, your law firm has full control over your advertising budget.

    You can set daily or monthly spending limits, and only pay when someone clicks on your ads.

    This “Pay for Performance” makes PPC campaigns unique to other forms of marketing, increasing the likelihood that it is cost-effective and manageable.

    That said, keep in mind the advice given for all forms of digital marketing: It’s almost always best to hire a professional to properly create and effectively manage your PPC campaigns.

    If you are a smaller law firm, PPC can level the playing field by allowing your smaller firm to compete with larger, more established competitors.

    By bidding strategically on relevant keywords, your smaller firms can gain visibility alongside more established law firms.

    PPC campaigns enable your law firm to conduct A/B testing of ad variations, landing pages, and call-to-action buttons.

    This testing helps you identify the most effective messaging and design elements to maximize conversions.

    Read more: 12 Hidden PPC Features You Should Know About

    7. Get Into Legal Directories

    Legal directories are a primary digital marketing tactic for law firms.

    Getting listings in online legal directories can provide a few benefits for your law firm, and it’s relatively easy for you to do.

    Being listed in directories is important because they’re a reputable source of information for potential clients.

    However, directories also provide some SEO benefits that will give an added boost to the rest of your digital marketing efforts.

    You want your law firm to be one of the top results for those looking for lawyers in your area.

    For this to happen, search engines need to know where you’re located, and local listings in directories are one more way of doing this.

    A listing in one of these directories will also help with link building, an important part of SEO.

    These listings ensure that you’ll get backlinks from websites that you know have good authority.

    Read more: How To Attract Backlinks To Your Law Firm Website

    8. Incorporate Video Marketing

    Video content has become a powerful tool in digital marketing.

    Your law firm can use videos to provide a more personal and engaging way to communicate your values, services, and expertise.

    Video content tends to be more engaging and memorable than text-based content.

    Video can capture your target audience’s attention and convey information in a visually appealing and concise manner.

    Videos can be utilized across various platforms, including your law firm’s website, social media, and email marketing campaigns.

    Incorporating professional-quality videos, with attention to accessibility through subtitles, can significantly enhance user engagement and SEO performance.

    Videos also empower your law firm to communicate complex legal concepts and information in a more accessible and understandable way.

    This can help potential clients grasp the nuances of their legal issues and your firm’s services.

    To extend your thought leadership beyond the service area of your law firm, you can post your videos on YouTube.

    Building out a channel for your law firm on YouTube may increase its reputation, leading to hiring profile cases and opportunities.

    Read more: How Digital Video Advertising Will Dominate The Next Decade

    9. Market To Existing And Past Clients

    Retaining existing clients and re-engaging past clients is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

    Happy clients are more inclined to refer friends, family, and colleagues to your law firm.

    Word-of-mouth referrals from your existing clients can be a powerful source of new business.

    Implementing a Google Review tool, such as BirdEye or Zappy Cards, can significantly enhance word of mouth, as well as serve as social proof of the quality of your legal services.

    Marketing to existing and past clients keeps the firm at the forefront of your client’s mind. It can be through regular newsletters, updates on legal developments, and direct mail campaigns, which can encourage repeat business and referrals.

    A focus on maintaining strong relationships with current and former clients can yield significant returns in terms of client loyalty and new business opportunities.

    Read more: 10 Key Client Questions To Inform Exceptional Quality Content

    10. Engage Locally

    Local involvement can set your law firm apart in your community.

    This can include sponsoring local events, participating in community service, or offering pro bono services.

    Such engagement not only builds brand awareness, but also establishes your firm as a committed and integral part of the local community.

    This approach can also increase trust and respect within the community, potentially resulting in more client referrals and higher client retention rates.

    In such a highly competitive industry, many clients prefer working with local attorneys who deeply understand the local legal landscape and community.

    Engaging your law firm locally helps differentiate it from non-local competitors.

    Building relationships with local businesses, organizations, and professionals can also lead to a strong referral network.

    Other local businesses may refer clients needing legal services to your law firm if given the opportunity to meet and get to know you or one of your law colleagues.

    Read more: Using Local Business Partnerships And Collaborations To Build Authority And Visibility

    Conclusion

    For law firms in 2024, success in marketing requires a balanced blend of technology-driven strategies and personal engagement.

    Firms must innovate and adapt to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market.

    From embracing digital tools and analytics to fostering deep community connections, these tactics are not just about attracting clients but building enduring relationships and a strong, reputable brand.

    By implementing these strategies, law firms can navigate the complexities of the modern legal landscape and achieve sustained growth and success.

    More Resources:


    Featured Image: FotoSajewicz/Shutterstock

    How An Enterprise Digital PR Firm Earns 100’s Of Links In 30 Days via @sejournal, @hethr_campbell

    Struggling to earn links from journalists and the press?

    Digital PR for SEO has quickly become an alternative to traditional link building. However, earning links from the press can be a challenge creatively.

    That’s where we come in.

    Watch our on-demand webinar, as we explore how to scale the very time-consuming and complicated process of earning links from digital PR, with proven case studies showing how you can earn hundreds of links in 30 days.

    You’ll learn:

    • The process and tools to earn press links in just 30 days.
    • A scalable process to gather data to enhance journalist storylines.
    • How to combine data and expert commentary for the press.

    Kevin Rowe, Founder and Head of Strategy at PureLinq, will give away the process his firm has used to secure hundreds of meaningful links and mentions on top-tier domains using data-driven digital PR, with proven examples.

    Kevin’s firm has systematized a scalable process for data-driven digital PR for SEO, and now he wants to share it with you.

    Discover how to earn quality links through a strong digital PR presence.

    View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

    Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

    9 Major Google Updates From 2023 & 2024 SEO Predictions

    Join us for an in-depth, actionable recap of the need-to-know Google updates from 2023, along with key predictions for 2024.