Sizing Up The Competition

Does anybody remember “Used Cars”?

For those of us of a certain age – or non-film buffs of any age – “Used Cars” is a 1980 comedy starring Kurt Russell as Rudy Russo a ruthless salesman at a struggling used car lot. Most of his time is spent trying to sell the clunkers that make up his inventory and scheming against the lot and its equally slimy manager across the street.

Anyone looking for social commentary or a clever message in between the laughs is better directed elsewhere: “Used Cars” is a boneheaded, vulgar and fun comedy worth a watch, albeit not with the young ones around.

At its core, though, “Used Cars” is about one-upping the competition, which is something any business owner or sales person strives toward regularly. And, unlike the movie, this is serious business.

In any industry, consumers can always purchase products or services at more than one place. Consumers know this, as do the companies vying for their business.

For a company to have a working knowledge about their competition’s operations is critical. Oftentimes, the competing businesses share many of the same supply vendors, compete head-to-head for new clients or accounts, and are keenly aware of any big sales or events the other guys have lined up on the horizon.

It’s also commonplace for the dueling businesses to poach each other’s employees, which can be as big a win as landing a desired contract or client. For many industries, this isn’t shifty or unethical: it’s simply the nature of the beast.

When it comes to providing a prospect a thorough assessment of their current online setup and creating a winning, long-term and profitable marketing program, we also hone in on professional opponents. Basically, when we come on board, we do a thorough competitive analysis and their competition becomes our competition.

The same detail and energy we put into evaluating a prospective client’s pre-Leverage Internet marketing operations is also put into those of their rivals. We look for any strengths they may have working in their favor and make ourselves aware of any elements sorely missing or neglected in their online operations.

As each business that requests our services or takes us on as a client is unique, our approach to providing them a winning online presence is unique as well.

We pride ourselves on tailoring a plan for our prospects that’s exclusive solely to their operations: we never have and never will offer a one-size-fits-all or boilerplate plan for any companies who seek our expertise. And this philosophy along with our competitive analysis is most important when it comes to aiding companies who look to the Internet as a means to sway clients or customers from their professional adversaries.

Also, we expect our clients to experience changes – for the better or for worse – in their business. Be it an unexpected bump in profits or the arrival of a new company with deeper pockets opening up down the road that poses a threat to their existence, we at Leverage find ways for our clients to capitalize on their surprise windfall with their website or counter any adversity when it comes to their online endeavors. While a company may experience bumps in the road, we’re continuously evolving, and all for the continued benefit of our clientele.

And unlike Russell’s Russo and his “Used Cars” cohorts, there’s not a lemon to be found in our lot.

Landing on Success

I like to think that “The Real Deal” is appropriately titled.

Like many a blogger that came before and the many that will follow, I, more often than not, have fun shooting the proverbial shite here. Be it in my blog, in a professional setting with a prospect or established client, or shooting the breeze with friends and family outside of work, I get a charge at whatever forum is available for me to talk about what Leverage has done, can do, and its place front and center in the ever-growing internet marketing universe.

“The Real Deal” allows me to have fun in discussing these things, but fun is always secondary to the topic at hand. Take away my (occasional and admittedly goofy) insights and the primary goal is simple: relay to readers what Leverage has to offer and back up each entry with a Leverage or industry-related issue that I will sign off on without hesitation.

Or, to turn a phrase here, I have not, nor do I plan to, write a check here that my arse can’t cash.

In fact, there are many services and tools we encourage our prospects to consider that Leverage relies upon and utilizes when it comes to our marketing goals.

Here’s an easy example: for many of our clients, we incorporate the use of landing pages into their marketing strategy.  Generally, landing pages aren’t accessible through site navigation. For the most part, they bring in traffic from social ads, browser ads or long-tail searches. When the search history of a consumer or prospect shows that they are either ready to make a purchase or take the next step as it relates to our client’s operations, the consumer is then taken to a landing page.

Landing pages are designed with a singular goal: to convert. The landing page is a shortcut from wherever a user might be online to a page that can close the deal immediately. Landing pages are not only used for the B2C sale of consumer goods, they can also be used for micro-conversions that give hot leads to your sales team. For example, landing pages can provide another type of transaction: information for information. A landing page can ask for a tidbit of the prospect’s information, such as an email address, in exchange for a white paper or case study. This acts as a stepping stone of sorts for the next phase in what the client hopes is a profitable relationship with the person or organization on the other side of the monitor or tablet.

We at Leverage use landing pages for ourselves to reach prospects when they are ready to do more than just browse for internet marketing companies. Our pages prompt the prospect to give basic information (name, e-mail address and phone number) that provides us an introduction of sorts. The end goal for the page is that they request initial contact with us. Once they do, we can move the ball further down the field.

Over the years, landing pages have proven successful for Leverage. At the very least, we received inquiries from companies seriously considering making an investment in the marketing of their company or overhauling their current digital marketing model. Our clients have also reaped many benefits, from direct online sales credited solely to the placement of our pages to bringing browsers further down the path to conversion.

To me, that’s yet another real – and good – deal.


It’s funny how a couple casual cold ones with a friend can turn into fuel for this here blog.

A few Fridays ago, I met up with a pal for a pit stop close to the home front. Being a Friday afternoon, the corner pub was its usual busy self, but on this particular end-of-week stop, all eyes were on a table full of 20-somethings and early 30-somethings who, judging by the rowdy celebration (not to mention quantity of booze consumed), were celebrating landing a big client or account.

Anyone whose livelihood is tied to sales should be able to identify with these guys. The crushing hangover that had to follow that Saturday morning, though, is optional.

The importance pretty much any company puts on new business is immeasurable, from the CFO making sense out of spreadsheets and percentages to the corporate salesperson whose fate lies in those numbers their bosses are looking over. New business is paramount, putting it mildly, to companies of all sizes, shapes and forms.

Leverage is hardly immune to this mindset. Like any business of any size, our annual goal isn’t solely to keep the lights on and our staff paid: we want to prosper and grow, both fiscally and in terms of innovation, at a steady clip. We are also elated when our hard work results in a new client and, on the other side of the coin, have been dealt our fair share of blows in terms of missed opportunities.

Yet to continue to thrive, we at Leverage are just as concerned about maintaining our relationships with the clients who have rewarded us with their business. That means continuous evolution of their online marketing strategies, with the end result being further success – and profit – in their online endeavors as well as continued satisfaction with our work.

For our clients, this means retaining their customers or clients. Once they have established their relationships with their base, continuing and expanding upon those relations is crucial.  While this is a long-term and continuously evolving process for all parties involved, the cost to our clients to retarget their customers is, compared to the cost of establishing the relationship in the beginning, much lower, and the practice is as, if not, more rewarding long-term than bringing them into the fold the first time. We all know how significant the lifetime value of a client is. Retargeting keeps customers in the loop and makes the rewards of customer lifetime value a reality.

Retargeting generally produces between 25%-40% more in sales revenue than targeting new clients

There are many approaches to site retargeting for an online client base, but three proven methods immediately come to mind:

  • Using marketing automation to trigger customized e-mail retargeting based on the browsing and purchasing behavior of customers.
  • Using paid search to retarget current customers with ads based on items they have viewed.
  • Using an e-mail database to trigger ads in social media news feeds based on the clients’ interests.
  • Remarketing solutions generally produces between 25%-40% more sales revenue than targeting new clients.

To me, the ability to be a company that continues to dazzle our clients by retargeting their proven customers with unique and profitable solutions is as satisfying and worth celebrating – be it with a Budweiser, bourbon or Barq’s root beer in hand – as that first success. First time clients are exciting, but repeat customers are what keep you in business. Are you ready to start reaching out to your customers? Contact us today for a FREE evaluation on your digital marketing strategy and learn how retargeting can benefit your business!



Although we still have a few weeks until Thanksgiving, many consumers have already started their holiday shopping, or are at least starting to think about what gifts their loved ones might appreciate this year. And not all of their shopping is taking place at local malls and department stores—60% of consumers are planning to do at least some of their shopping online, making online retail the top sales channel this holiday season. If you sell any products or services online, it’s time to prepare for the onslaught of online shopping by rolling out your holiday email marketing campaign. Unsure how to stand out from all the other online retailers competing for attention in shoppers’ inboxes? Read on for 6 tips to improve your email marketing in time for the holidays.


Make Your Messages More Personal

Rather than just sending the same bland mass messages to your entire email list (and seeing your open and click-through rates suffer as a result), consider dividing your list into segments so that you can send slightly more personalized emails. You might, for example, look at behavioral data such as past purchases to offer product recommendations to different segments of your email list. If a shopper has abandoned their shopping cart on your site, you could send them a transactional email reminding them that the product is still waiting for them. You might also use demographic data, such as gender or geographical location, to promote the products and deals that are most relevant to specific groups of customers.

Tease Time-Sensitive Sales

If you’re planning to offer discounts on major shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t just assume shoppers will know about your great deals—give them all the important information they need and get them to anticipate your discounts by sending a series of emails leading up to the sale date. You might send email subscribers a message several weeks before the sale reminding them that it’s coming up, another reminder a few days before the event, a reminder on the day of the sale, and a message after the sale. Let shoppers know about other last minute holiday shopping deals they may enjoy even if they missed this sale. Just be careful not to get too carried away with your series of emails—there’s a negative correlation between email frequency and engagement, which means that at a certain point, sending too many emails leads to fewer recipients opening them. The ideal send rate depends on the type of business, so be sure to track your email open rate to determine at what frequency you are most successful and at what frequency engagement begins to drop off.

Share Gift Guides

While the holidays should be a happy time, they’re often overshadowed by the anxiety of finding and purchasing the perfect gifts for friends and family members.  In fact, a Consumer Reports survey found that 68% of shoppers stress out about holiday crowds and long lines at stores, while 28% stress over picking gifts. You can reduce your email recipients’ stress levels—and make them more likely to buy from you—by sending out emails with gift guides featuring groups of products that may be good choices for different people on their list (e.g. ‘Gifts for Mom’, ‘Gifts for Outdoor Lovers’, etc.). You might also consider writing a blog post with actionable holiday shopping advice (such as ‘How to Find a Meaningful Gift for the Person Who Has Everything’) and including an excerpt from that post and a link to your blog in your next monthly newsletter.

Offer Special Holiday Deals for Email Subscribers

Reward your email subscribers by offering them special holiday discounts, deals, coupons, or gift cards that can be redeemed on your site. Be sure to include the specific deal in the subject line of the email (e.g. ‘10% Off’) in order to encourage recipients to click through and receive the deal. If it’s not feasible for your business to offer huge product discounts or free shipping for the entire month of December, consider participating in Free Shipping Day on December 18th and notifying email recipients ahead of time. Free shipping is the holiday promotion that gets the single biggest response from shoppers, so it’s a good choice even if you only pick one holiday deal to offer. Just make sure to tell email recipients how long their purchases should take to ship so that they can be sure their gifts arrive on time.

Track Your Metrics

You should be keeping track of email marketing metrics throughout the year, but it’s especially important to measure your email campaign results close to the holidays so that you know what works well (and what doesn’t work well) when it comes time to roll out another holiday email campaign next year. Keep track of your open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, and revenue per email in order to determine which holiday emails had the greatest success. You should also pay attention to your conversion rate, as this will have a huge impact on your revenue per email. Pay attention to what pages on your website users land on after opening your email and what path they take if they make a purchase.

A/B Test Your Emails

If you want to tweak specific components of an email to figure out what works best, you can also A/B test it by sending one version to a percentage of your email list and another version with one change (such as a different subject line) to another equal and representative percentage of your email list to see which version gets more engagement. You can then send the more successful version to the remaining, larger percentage of your email list.

By paying attention to what works well with your holiday email marketing this year, you can be better prepared to anticipate your customers’ needs and hit the ground running when the holiday season comes around next year.