Nimble: The Tail Wagging the Monkey

frowinin mailchimp“WE HAVE SINNED!” opened the email that I had to send manually to my entire email list. It went on…

Being swashbuckling guinea pig marketers, we always test on ourselves before making recommendations to our clients.

Yesterday, we pushed Mail Chimp too far! We have been found GUILTY of committing a Mail Chimp Carnal Sin for which the only redemption is begging your forgiveness and asking you to opt into our mailing list! 

So here’s the deal:

If you do us the favor of opting in here, we will tell you the sin we are guilty of — cool huh? 

When the Internet Gods hold their bible secrets too close to be known, being very very bad is the best way to learn where the boundaries lie :)

Looking forward to your opting in… here

Aw hell, let’s make this even more fun! I’ll buy lunch for the 7th, 17th, 27th and 107th person to opt in, and I will share the rest of the seven deadly sins we’ve committed over pasta Fra Diablo!

Be well and stay out of hell!


As promised:

MailChimp shut down our ability to import our corporate house list because our list was riddled with problems and resulted in too many hard bounces. How many is too many? According to MailChimp we were pushing 30%!  And given that, it is no surprise we were shut down. 

But how did the list get that way? The real problem was with the program we were testing before we got to MailChimp: Nimble. Nimble was the tail wagging the monkey.

Why Nimble?

A week does not go by when a client doesn’t ask me to recommend a good CRM (customer relationship management) program to easily manage their customer/prospect lists and associated information. Most of our clients are mid-sized businesses. For these companies, the IT world provides very little in the way of truly useful solutions. They fall into one of three categories: 

  • Overpriced, once global applications shrunk down for smaller companies, 
  • Overly complex and overpriced SAAS (Software as a Service) offerings (such as that has gotten so complex it requires consultants to customize it), and 
  • Products so lightweight as to be laughable. (such as Full Contact, it has a slick little interface that allows you to photograph business cards that are beamed to India where workers type what they see — yes you read that right, manual typing means better accuracy.  Beyond that, attempting to manage your lists on Full Contact is a horror show of near zero functionality.

Nimble Integrates Your Contacts on the “Big 4” Social Networks into One Fabulous River of Posts

That’s why when I found Nimble, even my jaded geeky self felt a shimmer of excitement. The price was right $15 a month. The functionality was cool: 

Nimble features integration with Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin plus your own email client and brings them all together in one nice interface. That means that when you upload your house list Nimble fetches all of the user profiles from those services AND their posting streams and integrates them into one river of posts that can be viewed by individual contact or as a group. 

And what about those followers, connections and “friends” that are not on your house list? It brings them right into the interface as if they were on your house list. Integrate your email and send and receive mail, posts and tweets all from one interface. Well slay me now!

To that Nimble spices it up with the ability to connect company credit ratings and a host of other details in a very nice tabbed interface. Leads can be attached to “deals” that can be tracked.  It tells you the last time you communicated with a contact, you can attach Google docs (such as proposals), and when you receive mail you can see the backgrounds of everyone on the thread. It features a bevy of integrations, I was particularly excited about its integration with MailChimp.

The benefits are huge! People I had not seen in years, and for whom I had old addresses would be found on Linkedin, Google+, Facebook or Twitter automatically and I could populate their card with the latest contact information. And for an old bird like me with many old contacts scattered hither and yon that was just magic! 

But Nimble is a Roach Motel!

I quickly hooked it all up and discovered when integrating my Apple Mail, sent emails would not sync with my Apple client. It ends up that Apple Mail is not supported by Nimble. For most of my clients this is not an issue. For me it was a speed bump. The joy of connecting all my communication streams kept my attention. Nimble became my go to contact list.

Then Linkedin pulled the plug on their integration. I figured it was for “walled garden” reasons — Linkedin is notoriously uncooperative with other services. But that just meant I had to bulk download and upload my Linkedin connections. Another speed bump.

Overtime I synched all my accounts regularly so I’d be sure to keep all my lists up to date. 

And then I noticed something dark: my list always seemed to get bigger never smaller! It seems that Nimble is like the Roach Motel — roaches check in but they can’t check out. 

New contacts are added, but contacts that have stopped following you are NOT deleted. This is especially a problem with Twitter where followers blow in and and out like the wind.

In fact many of Nimble’s integrations are Roach Motels! The ramifications of this did not fully sink in as I was dazzled by the concept of one beautiful river of social postings coursing through my interface. But it did hit me like a bad hangover after MailChimp whacked us.

Still smarting from our MailChimp hangover I kicked myself for assuming that everyone keeps their social media accounts up to date — they don’t — and that just meant more bounces. I also realized that the MailChimp integration was another Roach Motel: Unsubscribes or bounces would not be fed back into the Nimble mother list from Mail Chimp. Making Nimble useless if you want to keep a clean house list.

Bottom line: I so want Nimble to work! What a concept! Practically until Nimble works out two-way integration taking a wrecking ball to its Roach Motels it is not fully functional. And as we learned the hard way, it cannot be relied on to deliver clean up-to-date email lists. That said, Nimble has demonstrated that they have an engaged development team. I remain optimistic. I think they will be a great service one day, but they are not there yet.

As for the Fra Diablo pasta lunches — we have our winners and I’ll be emailing you soon to set up a date.


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Getting to Hockey Stick Growth — and making VC funders smile :)

b2ap3_thumbnail_hockeystick-growth.jpgVCs dream of big growth graphs moving aggressively up and to the right – and in the best of all worlds, straight up like a hockey stick. I have never met a founder for whom this not-too-subtle demand did not terrify because by most business standards it is extremely difficult to achieve.

However, over the last three years we have seen that aggressive growth has not only become possible, it is repeatable. Changes in B-to-B shopping habits and a comprehensive response make it possible. We have seen 600% to 850% ROI on marketing programs and growth to match. But certain conditions must apply and specific tactics must be executed. Here they are: 

Product Price Point

The price point of the service or product must be high enough to absorb the ever increasing cost of customer acquisition. In the last decade, the cost of customer acquisition has risen so high that your average sales value (ASV) must be well into the thousands.  This can be achieved through bundling hardware with service wrap arounds for example. Or, by finding a way to sell your product or service using a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model and annual contracts. Under these conditions there is enough revenue to balance the cost of customer acquisition. 

Death of a Sales Team

Pre-shopping online – a common practice among consumers – has invaded the B-to-B space. A recent Google/CEB study showed that shoppers are up to 70% through the shopping process by the time they want to speak to someone from your firm. That means that your web site must work very hard for you. It must quickly telegraph your differentiation and attributes. And it also means that the prospect does not want to waste time with a glib salesperson. They have tougher technical questions they need resolved before moving forward. So fire your salesforce and hire a few good sales engineers who can work in pairs with skilled sales closers.

Then hold expectations high. Today the freshness value of a lead expires within hours not days. Your sales team must jump on that lead within 30 minutes — for better success within three minutes. Like a mental-health hotline, some companies create 24/7 on-call schedules, rotating sales engineers to off hours and forwarding calls and emails to mobile phones.

Dig Deeply Into Your Prospects’ Brains

If your firm meets those conditions, then it is worth investing in a comprehensive online presence and lead-generation program to match. We call it a “stra-tactical” approach. The strategy was developed over years of practice but it is otherwise executed tactically.

Many companies attempting to achieve aggressive growth are also aggressively talking to themselves, repeating their sales mantra to prospects over and over like a jackhammer. That’s old school and no longer works. Reverse the process:

Come to understand your market’s inflection points. That is, the moment when a prospect perceives the need for your product or service. The question is no longer “how did you find us” but rather, “what preceded your search for us.” A finely-tuned ear is key to success.

Once you have cataloged their inflection points, consider how the prospect articulates their search. Here is where program complexity increases exponentially. The search is articulated differently by market, geography and even within organizations: the person in pain will search differently from the person managing the person in pain, from the guy signing the check.  Or simply put: one person’s green eggs in ham, is another person’s chartreuse eggs and pork. Your program must address each and do so with great specificity. Achieving specificity requires building comprehensive libraries that align to your inflection point catalog, then building a web presence with multiple aligned architectures: backbone, paid search, social and to a lesser extent SEO. 

Lead-generation programs based on search articulations are then rolled out over the architectures. Your firm will now be presented in the right place at the right moment when your prospect needs you: be it via paid search ads, social media platforms or at the right face-time conferences. 

Take an Agile Approach

A few leading edge marketers have moved Agile into the marketing discipline. In 2011, Anthony Freeling from McKinsey UK published Agile Marketing. Our team had already developed our own Agile framework called ZebworksTM in 2009. Our objectives were the same: drive out risk, drive in results. Agile marketing requires measurement and reporting, which is possible leveraging Google Analytics and CRM data.

 For example: Google Paid Search is very Agile: sprinting out a program that leverages your comprehensive architecture, your advanced sales team delivering urgent response, then measuring, adjusting, pivoting and sprinting again. Similarly this can be applied to all lead-generation efforts even conferences and networking events. 

Aggressive growth is achievable (and repeatable) under the right conditions, when comprehensive groundwork is laid and an Agile approach is taken to adjust in real-time.


First published in NJTC Tech News August 2014


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SEO Vs Agile Marketing


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Great Graphics Make the Case for Agile Marketing

Here are some new graphics that make the case for Agile Marketing, Business Strategy and IT at our Zebworks Agile Marketing Framework site.

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Destaque-se na Multidão das Mídias Sociais - Um guia rápido para se tornar um participante nas mídias sociais

As Mídias Sociais fazem parte do nosso modo de vida moderno e as estatísticas nos contam a história: 91% dos adultos que usam a internet participam nas mídias sociais e, por esse motivo, as empresas não podem mais ignorá-las. No entanto, para atingir o sucesso, é importante que você (a) estabeleça objetivos para sua empresa com relação às mídias sociais, (b) alinhe tais objetivos com seus recursos, (c) concentre seus esforços onde o seu público-alvo está concentrado e que seu plano de comunicação seja direcionado de acordo com cada canal de mídia social. Cada esforço deve ser cuidadosamente mensurado para determinar (a) o nível de sucesso, (b) o que funciona e o que não funciona, e (c) o que proporciona maior ROI (retorno no investimento).

A miríade de redes sociais e toda publicidade exagerada a seu respeito são exaustivas, até mesmo para os mais sofisticados. O disposto acima muitas vezes nos leva à suposição de que as empresas devem estar em todas as plataformas de mídia social para obter algum sucesso. E isso é tão esmagador que muitos querem lavar suas mãos e dizer: "Por que me preocupar? É impossível fazer isso". O que muitos não percebem é que o sucesso não é determinado pelo fato de você ser um craque em todas as plataformas existentes (o que realmente é uma tarefa impossível), mas o sucesso pode ser obtido através da escolha da plataforma correta e da participação nela de maneira mensurável, ponderada e relevante.

Como declarado anteriormente, as mídias sociais não podem ser ignoradas. Por volta de setembro de 2012, 91% de todos os adultos usavam as mídias sociais regularmente e nela gastaram 22,5% de seu tempo online. A mídia social é a nova televisão. Em contrapartida, apenas 27% das pequenas empresas e 34% das empresas de médio porte estão usando as mídias sociais e 25% delas não têm qualquer estratégia de mídia social. Para piorar a situação, em média, apenas 30% dos comentários dos fãs é respondido por empresas e 56% dos tweets de clientes para as empresas é ignorado. As empresas estão perdendo uma tremenda oportunidade de interagir com clientes e clientes em potencial. Mas, por onde começar?

Cada rede social tem um único propósito: se conectar com amigos e familiares, se conectar com colegas de profissão, notícias, compartilhamento de fotos e, até mesmo, jogos e TV. Quando você decidir que sua empresa deve participar de uma rede social, você estará solicitando que seu público se conecte com você, participe e compartilhe com a sua marca, o que exigirá que você ofereça a ele algo em troca. Para fazer isso de forma eficaz, você deve escolher sua mídia social e colocar seus recursos na melhor plataforma, onde os seus clientes e clientes em potencial gastam seu tempo online.


1) Determine o porquê de você querer se envolver em um ambiente social online. É muito importante determinar seu objetivo. Você quer gerar vendas? Aumentar a notoriedade de sua marca? Prestar serviços de pós-venda aos clientes? Aumentar a retenção e fidelização de clientes? Você escolhe. O seu objetivo irá determinar onde concentrar sua presença nas redes sociais, como engajar e como mensurar seu sucesso.

2) Avalie os recursos que você precisa para alcançar seu objetivo. Há um equívoco comum de que a mídia social é um meio de comunicação gratuito, mas, na verdade, ele é um meio de comunicação muito caro. O fato é que você vai precisar de uma grande quantidade de recursos, ou seja, de pessoas com talentos diferentes, dependendo de seus objetivos. Para começar, você vai precisar de bons escritores e comunicadores que entendem o seu negócio e seus produtos. Se os seus produtos e serviços puderem ser visualmente demonstrados, o uso de vídeos será uma ótima maneira de se comunicar e, para isso, você vai precisar de produção de vídeo e talentos editoriais. Se você tiver um serviço altamente conceitual, um vídeo ou apresentação de slides poderá ajudar a organizar e simplificar seus serviços e, nesse caso, você precisará de talentos para fazer apresentações em powerpoint e edição de vídeos, além de grandes comunicadores em sua equipe. Pode ser que você não tenha todos esses talentos na equipe, mas eles poderão ser necessários futuramente. No entanto, antes de sair contratando, considere quais departamentos de sua empresa vão contribuir para o seu esforço nas redes sociais. Em seguida, treine sua equipe para atender o público de forma inteligente, profissional e que solucione qualquer problema. Por último, contrate talentos terceirizados para executar tarefas para as quais você não pode justificar uma pessoa adicional em sua equipe.

3) Descubra onde seus clientes se reúnem online. Seu objetivo social irá guiá-lo aqui também. Se você deseja se conectar com os defensores de sua marca, tente o Facebook. Se você quiser inspirar visualmente o seu público, crie uma board no Pinterest. Se você precisa se conectar com executivos de alto nível, comece pelo LinkedIn. Encontre o seu público-alvo, alinhe-o com o seu objetivo social e se envolva. Um bom ponto de partida é olhar para onde seus concorrentes estão e como eles utilizam cada meio que você escolheu.

4) Determine seus KPIs antes de começar. Determine os indicadores-chave de desempenho (KPIs ou key performance indicatorsˆ) para o seu programa antes de começar. Geralmente, a quantidade de "curtidas" e "compartilhamentos" é utilizada como uma forma de mensurar o sucesso, mas estes dados, por si próprios, representam uma medida medíocre. Os KPIs mais poderosos são aqueles dados que podem ser vinculados à receita. Você precisa concentrar seu tempo de análise e mensuração de resultados nos dados que causarem impacto em sua receita. Por exemplo, a tendência que mostra o aumento crescente de números de fãs da sua página no Facebook com o aumento de vendas ou o relacionamento entre o aumento de compartilhamentos e o aumento de ligações, ou, até mesmo, contatos diretos através da sua página em uma mídia social que impactaram a receita ou o serviço ao cliente. Estes KPIs não são fáceis de mensurar, mas são muito mais eficientes.

5) Crie um plano para cada canal! Pessoas que reutilizam o conteúdo no mesmo formato em todos os meios de comunicação social não estão dando a ninguém uma razão para que sua página no Facebook seja curtida, seu Twitter seja seguido, para que inscrições sejam feitas em seu canal no YouTube ou que novas conexões surjam em seu LinkedIn. Lembre-se, cada rede social tem um propósito e uma audiência, por isso é importante que você tenha um plano de conteúdo para cada canal que decidir investir seus recursos. E, principalmente, não se esqueça de se envolver com o seu público, respondendo suas perguntas e comentários em tempo hábil.

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