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Constant Contact Acquires SharpSpring

What does this mean for your company?

By Dan Winter  |  June 28, 2021

Last week it was announced that SharpSpring has been acquired by Constant Contact – an established leader in online marketing technology.

As many of our valued clients are currently using, or in the process of implementing, SharpSpring, we wanted to give you a quick update on the latest news.  

In a session for agencies late last week, SharpSpring’s CEO Rick Carlson assured us that the fundamentals of the software will not change – Constant Contact and SharpSpring share the same values and vision. The acquisition provides the opportunity for further investment in the platform – meaning more great features for you and us!

What happens next?

Well, mainly, it’s business as usual. Constant Contact and SharpSpring will spend the next couple of months completing the legal necessities, and at Sharp Ahead we’ll continue to drive growth for our clients through the SharpSpring platform. 

We’ve been informed there will be no major changes for the foreseeable future. There are, however, a range of exciting new features already in the pipeline for this year, including: 

  • An SMS marketing tool
  • New integrations
  • New navigation
  • New opportunity manager
  • An updated mobile app
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Any questions?

We’ll keep you updated as and when we hear more about the acquisition and any exciting new features, but if you have any questions, or if you’re interested in becoming a SharpSpring user please do get in touch!

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Preparing for the Summer Holidays

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 30, 2017

Despite the weather outside, summer is nearly here, and you may be looking forward to a break abroad, or even taking your chances here in the UK (with umbrellas and cagoules at the ready).  But who is looking after your digital marketing while you’re away?

If you have an agency helping you out, you might not be too worried. However, if you’re looking after it on your own, or with a small team – some of whom are also on holiday – there are a few things you can do to make sure all the hard work of the past few months isn’t compromised by a week or two away…

Using AdWords?

If you have Google AdWords campaigns running, download the Google AdWords app (not AdWords Express). This handy app gives you top-line campaign information including:

  • Stats
  • Bids and budgets
  • Real-time alerts and notifications
  • Call a Google expert
  • Act on suggestions to improve your campaigns

Schedule Your Content

Not all of your potential customers will be on holiday, so don’t let your content go stale while you are away. You can schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

There are loads of tools you can use, including HootSuite, Sprout Social and TweetDeck.

Also, make sure you’re promoting an appropriate CTA—don’t offer a free trial sign up if there aren’t enough staff around to actually set up the free trials!

Using Facebook

With Facebook Pages Manager you can view and respond to comments and private messages from your phone (as well as see Page Insights), and Facebook Adverts Manager allows you to edit your ads and budgets, get notifications of when ads are finishing and keep an eye on your spending.

(I’ve yet to find a good app for managing LinkedIn advertising, please get in touch if you find one!)

Still Send Emails

Most email platforms will allow you to send emails scheduled for a specific time. Marketing automation platforms also allow you set up automatic email sends based on user behaviour. So you don’t need to stop your lead nurturing over the holiday period whilst you’re at that barbecue or lying on the beach…

Think About Your Website

As with email, most content management systems (CMS) have an option to schedule content. Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content on your site.

If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing content on the homepage whilst you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out-of-date event during your break.

Budgets

Use the budgeting functionality on your paid media platforms to ensure you don’t overspend while you’re away. If your business is seasonal, have a quick look at last year’s performance; and if it’s not, a quick look at last month’s, to determine your maximum exposure.

The main platforms all have daily budgets as part of standard set up, but AdWords and Bing also offer decent monthly budgeting functionality for those longer holidays.

Analytics

Google also offers a Google Analytics app which is reasonably good for basic monitoring and will allow you to at least get a high-level view of your activity, especially useful for answering ‘quick’ questions from your MD whilst you’re away.

Again, keep in mind seasonality and remember many sensible people like you will also be on holiday so volume (though hopefully not performance) may dip.

Finally… Check with Your Sales Team

Make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads. If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address and the phone won’t be going unanswered.

If unfortunate scheduling means there will be days when no one can manage calls from prospects, or customers for that matter, consider enlisting the help of a call handling agency to get you through the holiday season.

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Why you should read one more blog article on B2B content marketing

By Jennifer Esty  |  April 25, 2017

Enough I hear you say!

Enough about content marketing, and thought leadership, storytelling, brandscaping, big data; and while we’re at it, enough about tailored content, content consumption and low hanging fruit.

I promise not to use any of those buzzwords (again).

But there’s just one more thing we should discuss about your B2B content marketing strategy: Marketing Automation.

No, it’s not just another piece of technology that will sit unused in your virtual cupboard like the popcorn maker of marketing appliances.

Marketing Automation is quite possibly the one thing standing between your content marketing strategy and utter pointlessness.

Back in 2015, SirusDecisions published research that suggested anywhere from 60-80% of B2B content was wasted- as in never read and never nurturing or generating a single lead.

And it’s not getting better.

How Marketing Automation can help

The beauty of Marketing Automation is that it brings process and measurability to content marketing.

Process to what content is created when, for whom, with what messages, for which stage of the funnel.

Measurability to what content actual contributes to lead generation and lead nurturing—for the right kinds of leads.

It can make sure that your content strategy is the right strategy and that it’s being implemented effectively.

How does it do all that and make popcorn?

Well it doesn’t really make popcorn.

But by combining your content library, landing pages, email marketing, social marketing, SEO, website prospecting, lead scoring, testing, and analytics in a single platform, marketing automation helps you understand what content you should create and how it performs once you have.

Most MA tools offer so much functionality that I’d need a whitepaper rather than a blog article to discuss each one, but for the purposes of convincing you that content marketing without marketing automation is a waste of time, let’s briefly discuss one.

Lead Nurturing

Leading Marketing Automation provider Act-On defines lead nurturing as systematically contacting prospects over a set amount of time and providing relevant content that eases them through the buyer’s journey.

Sounds good, right? And the whole point of your content strategy is providing relevant content. Right?

But how do you know it’s relevant? For whom? At what stage of the buying journey? And how do you know when it does and doesn’t work?

Marketing automation provides the following functionality to answer these questions. Or test possible answers to these questions. In real time. In a single place.

  • Lead scoring: a points system to assign values based on pre-determined criteria, such as the person’s industry and job title, website visits, content downloads, event attendance, form completions, etc. This scoring helps define what content you should be creating for prospects at different points in the funnel.
  • Triggered emails: emails sent out automatically based on important or momentous events that are related to your prospects’ actions, ensuring content is relevant.
  • Automated email programmes: email programmes based on real-time behaviours, overall engagement, or a pre-set schedule to push engagement with content based on real knowledge of your prospects
  • Funnel reports: track prospects through key conversions and create models that help you better predict the buyer’s journey and evaluate which, how and when content is contributing
  • Analytics: for everything from your emails and downloads to landing pages and form submissions, helping you answer the question: does my content matter?

So, if you plan to do any content marketing in the next 12 months, please make Marketing Automation part of your strategy.

And if you need a popcorn maker, I have one in my cupboard for sale.

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Digital Transformation Events for B2B Companies

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 14, 2016

We still have places available for our free digital transformation event in Reading on June 9.

Join us for an evening with industry experts from Google, Act-On, and Sharp Ahead to:

  • Understand the digital transformation opportunities available for your business
  • See how paid search can quickly enhance your digital presence
  • Explore the impact marketing automation software has on efficiency
  • Hear first-hand how Oxford Innovation digitally transformed their organisation

(Not to mention networking, nibbles and drinks.)

Designed for marketing and sales decision makers, this digital transformation event will take place in Reading on June 9.

The event will begin at 6pm.

More about the digital transformation events speakers:

Google Logo

Hear directly from the experts at Google how digital marketing can quickly and effectively drive awareness, influence purchase consideration and increase sales.

Act-On Logo

Marketing Automation experts Act-On will take you through the new buyer’s journey, focusing on the stages of modern marketing and how to turn your customers into advocates for your products and brand. He will provide top tips for content marketing, email marketing, lead nurturing, marketing automation and more.

Oxford Innovation Logo

Find out how Oxford Innovation achieved a 90% reduction in client acquisition costs, a 400% increase in qualified sales leads and are 110% ahead of target for sales.

We surveyed the digital presence of over 500 UK B2B companies. Based on this we think most B2B digital marketing in the UK is broken – that is, poorly done and hurting sales. Dr John Woods will present the survey findings along with quick fixes that B2B digital marketers need to know.

Contact us to book your place or read the 2016 Broken Report.