After a strong 2016 in content marketing, it’s time for Ladder to take a look back at our first full year of content.
Last year it was a test – does content actually work for us as an agency? The answer was an overwhelming yes, with our blog and content becoming one of our most important growth pillars alongside AdWords and Facebook Ads.
Beyond what we wrote, we also expanded our team, adding on a new content marketer in Ladder’s Content Marketing Strategist, Malaika Nicholas, and involving more voices from the team, like our strategists Edwin Plotts and Morgan Schofield, and our Design Director Natalie Lazo.
On top of that, we’ve been doing tons of work getting our voices heard beyond the borders of our in-house publication. From HubSpot Sales Blog to Entrepreneur, Business.com, Salesforce Blog, Success Magazine and beyond, we’ve been featured in more major 3rd party publications than ever before – and we intend to keep that going.
Just as with last year’s roundup post, we’re sharing some top-line numbers with you so you can get an idea of how our blog performed, and why it’s so crucial to our current and future growth.
Here are some stats from 2017:
- 152k pageviews
- 116k sessions
- 4:26 average time on page
- 7200+ newsletter subscribers
Top 5 posts by traffic (published 2017):
- Optimizely (8.9k pageviews, 6:50 time on page)
- Marketing Plan (5k pageviews, 3:55 time on page)
- Facebook Ads (4.5k pageviews, 7:59 time on page)
- ICO Marketing Strategy (2.8k pageviews, 13:00 time on page)
- SEO Audit (2.1k pageviews, 4:28 time on page)
Top 5 posts by traffic (all posts):
- Marketing Certifications (23k pageviews, 5:51 time on page)
- Event Tracking (9.1k pageviews, 7:59 time on page)
- Optimizely (8.9k pageviews, 6:50 time on page)
- Business Idea (7.5k pageviews, 6:01 time on page)
- Marketing Analysis (5.3k pageviews, 5:53 time on page)
Beyond that, here’s how our top 5 traffic sources broke down:
- Google Organic – 51k sessions
- Direct Traffic – 22k sessions
- Ladder Newsletter – 10k sessions
- Facebook Social – 3.5k sessions
- Twitter Social – 2.5k sessions
But enough about numbers, you came here to find out about our best articles of the year. So without further ado, let’s dive into our top 5 growth posts of 2017, starting with…
Without a well-written marketing plan, you’ll make avoidable mistakes, spread your resources too thin, and ultimately fail to hit your growth goals.
Taking the time to define your strategy up front can keep your team focused on doing the right things to grow your company, giving you a real competitive advantage.
The problem is that most people don’t know how to make a technical, data-driven marketing plan. They Google “Marketing Plan” and get a list of contrived, theoretical, impractical templates.
Very few businesses are willing to be transparent about what’s working for them, for fear of giving competitors an upper hand. After all the old adage says all warfare is based on deception.
If you read our blog, you know our thinking isn’t that outdated. However, NDAs with our clients stop us from sharing any of the 30+ marketing plans we generate every month as examples.
I’ve tackled this issue before, but that was built entirely from publicly available information. To do this right, I needed a business willing to share all of its confidential marketing data.
Eventually, we had a brainwave: why not open-source our own marketing plan?
So that’s exactly what we did.
ICO Marketing Strategy
An ICO is essentially a crowdfunding round that uses crypto-tokens instead of traditional currency. An ICO is like an IPO (Initial Public Offering) but without the many layers of regulation associated. That can mean funding rounds of £20M+ with only a team and a whitepaper.
Unlike VC or an IPO, buying a token does not necessarily entitle you to a share of the company, only the project the ICO represents. This is a tradable Kickstarter commitment that shows an early interest in a project and its application.
Moreover, anyone can release a coin or ‘token’ claim it has value and takes everyone’s money and people have been stung by these fraudsters. But, while it may be the wild west for regulation, these offerings give opportunities for small businesses and startups to quickly test their idea and get a temperature on how much people are willing to pay for their solution, or even better, get a huge round of support (like a Kickstarter) before they have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on developing their final product.
When marketing an ICO, the first and biggest question to ask is: “What does this token do?”
You should understand:
- How it works in your system?
- What problem does it solve?
- Why is this the best way to do it?
- What features does yours have that makes it unique?
Then, the marketing strategy for your ICO should focus on three elements:
- Introduce potential investors to your team
- Community Building
- “Get out of the Building” and meet potential investors
Everybody loves trend buckers. It’s human nature to laud those we feel are visionaries. It can also be foolish. Take this oft-repeated Steve Jobs statement, for example: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Entrepreneurs love to recite this mantra when asked to consider market data. Who cares what the public says? Gut feeling tells them otherwise, and they jump aboard the Jobs cargo cult train without a second thought.
Jobs was fired for his “my way or the highway” attitude, but eager founders ignore that. It’s a turnoff, just like the $2,500 Mac and a host of other forgettable unveilings. Sure, Apple was worth $100 billion by the time the iPhone launched, but it’s worth nearly $700 billion now because other companies build and sell software through the App Store.
People who follow Jobs’ approach suffer from confirmation bias, believing that he succeeded because of his stance on research. The truth is that he might have been even more successful if he’d taken a less unorthodox approach.
Here’s the truth: Saying the iPhone couldn’t have been made through testing and iteration is like saying the human eye is too complex to be a result of evolution.
Rebuilding Ladder’s Sales & Marketing Automation
As a growth marketing agency focused on driving ROI for businesses of all sizes and industries, Ladder focuses on building and optimizing campaigns for our clients.
From ads to emails, CRO to list building, and beyond, our focus is always on looking at performance and making data-driven decisions on what we do next.
But for the longest time, the same couldn’t be said of our internal marketing and sales efforts.
Compared to the impactful growth marketing process we built to power our client services team, our internal efforts were slapdash, disorganized, and without guidance.
So at the beginning of 2017, we decided to take our own medicine. We took a deep dive into following the process that’s helped us grow startups and enterprises alike.
And here’s the thing — it’s worked tremendously well… on the marketing side.
But what’s missing from this equation?
Unlike software development, where most unqualified people have the decency to give up or go to bootcamps to brush up on their skills, marketers have no shame. They will apply for literally any job, no matter how unqualified.
But say you wanted to get “qualified” …what would you do?
There’s no equivalent of a medical board, CFA qualification, or the bar exam for marketing. Most of the top people in marketing don’t have a marketing degree (shocking, right?). New techniques come out every week and old ones stop working (radio ads, anyone?). Online courses are more up to date and relevant, but there are thousands to choose from. It seems like these days every half-baked platform is offering a certification as a shady marketing ploy.
The tough question to answer, then, is this: Which certifications are the good ones? What certifications should you get to land that marketing job?
There’s no good answer, but we’ve hired 20+ marketers in the past 3 years, so here’s our answer
These are the certifications we look for on the resumes of prospective marketing hires:
Those were our most impactful articles of 2017, from the “oldies but goodies” to the new and shiny, they helped Ladder drive leads, grow blog and homepage traffic, and increase brand awareness beyond the niche audience we developed in past years.
So here’s to an even stronger 2018, featuring even more growth driven by content.