As we launch into 2014, the biggest opportunity we still see for companies seeking to build their businesses through inbound marketing is optimizing their websites and content assets. Why do we think this?
Every new client engagement we begin includes a competitive analysis. I have yet to compare how a client's competitors are optimizing their sites without discovering that my client has the potential to leapfrog the competition -- large and small -- by better optimizing their sites to improve their search engine rankings.
SEO according to best practices is still critical to attracting qualified Web traffic. However, what's changed in the past year is how you must go about doing that. Although search and SEO practices have been evolving continuously, prior to 2013 we still focused primarily on keyword research to determine what search terms were generating search volume, i.e. people actually searching for those terms, and which we had a chance to rank for.
We made sure that our chosen search term for a given page or piece of content appeared in certain places on the page and in the page source code in accordance with Google's stated preferences of the moment. That's about all it took to start ranking for a variety of search terms.
No longer is that true. In 2013, Google made a number of changes to both its search algorithms and its overall strategy. The end goal is its march towards contextual search, where the search engine better understands the user's needs and delivers ever more meaningful results.
I recently read an article from The Financial Post that gives a terrific wrap-up of the most significant of Google's changes. It's reprinted with permission at the end of this blog post. Please read it if you want a good understanding of the topic.
Here's the big take-away: SEO is no longer a stand-alone keyword and coding operation.
Search rankings now depend on:
- A strong focus on content, i.e. creating content that is truly useful to your audience/s. It helps if your content is diverse -- blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, related images with alt text, video (Google owns YouTube, remember), webinars.
- Having social proof of your credibility as a thought leader and content creator, i.e. followers on social media, 'Likes' and '+1s' on your content
Although what a prospect types into a search field is still at the heart of online connection, today companies must move way beyond a keyword mentality. I believe that 2014 is the year that inbound marketing will come into its own. It's the year when companies are beginning to wake up from their tactical approach -- put up a Facebook page, write a blog targeted to who knows who, call in an SEO expert to 'solve their problems'.
Google -- rightfully so, in my evolving opinion -- is making changes that will force us to become more strategic and successful online marketers.
By the way, for those of us who suffer from a lack of time to focus on our content creation duties, the Financial Post article reprinted here is an example of a new tool for content creators. A client of mine iCopyright.com has launched a new service called repubHub where you can get free, fully licensed content to embed on your website like you would embed a YouTube video. Check it out for yourself at www.repubhub.com
Sharing this article is a way to provide you with great additional information, as part of this brief piece of original content that explains my take on the evolution of SEO. And you don't have to leave my blog to read it. It's a tool that I intend to use for myself and my clients to provide more content.
I would love to hear about your SEO and content strategies for 2014 in the comments. Of course, feel free to ask your questions, too.
Enjoy the article. BTW...It's ad supported. The ads being served are supposed to be relevant to the content, so please let me know if any ads are served that you find distracting or offensive and I'll feed the info back to my client. If you scroll down, you'll see that you also have the option to reprint the article on your own website.
Five biggest changes in search and digital marketing for entrepreneurs in 2013
In online or inbound marketing much of lead generation strategy has to do with establishing a quid pro quo – this for that. We offer useful information about a product or service in exchange for a prospect’s contact information.
When a website visitor types their name and email address into a form in order to download a whitepaper or sign up for a webinar, they go from being an anonymous prospect to being a known lead who has opted onto our marketing list. This is known as conversion.
Now, not every visitor is at the same stage of the purchase process, which can be visualized as a funnel. Someone who is just starting to gather information about an item or service they’re thinking about maybe buying will want information, but be unwilling to give up much information in return.
These visitors are considered to be at the top of the sales funnel – or ToFu. Our job is to engage them appropriately at this early point in their exploration and then build a relationship that pulls them through the bottom of the funnel to a purchase.
The focus of this post is the top of the funnel and ToFu content offers. If we fail to match the TOFU content offer with what we’re asking for in return, we lose opportunities to convert visitors to leads. Here’s an example of what can happen.
Recently, we worked with a client to develop a webinar and a related email campaign to introduce their service to a hard-to-reach audience. It was clearly a ToFu content offer. We created the webinar content and the email announcing it, which was sent to a qualified list. The client’s in-house marketing team created the registration landing page.
The client was delighted that 25 participants signed up for the webinar. However, when we got the final statistics from the webinar service provider, we learned that more than 100 recipients of the email had clicked through to the registration landing page but failed to sign up.
Obviously the webinar offer was compelling and reached the right people. So why did we lose more than 75% of their potential attendees?
I asked two questions:
- Did the registration landing page re-state the offer?
- Did the contact form require more than the name and email address?
The answer to the first question was, “No.” Only the day, date and time, and the name of the webinar were re-stated; but not the key agenda and take-away points or information about the presenter and his qualifications.
The answer to the second question was, “Yes.” The registration form also required a phone number.
Unfortunately, the wrong answers.
When someone clicks to get a piece of content or register for a webinar, it’s important that the landing page re-state the offer to reinforce the action we want them to take. And more important, it’s critical that the required fields in the contact form are appropriate to the level of the offer.
In this case – a ToFu offer -- potential participants would probably not be ready to part with a phone number. They wouldn’t want to receive a follow up call. However, they would be okay with getting additional information via email, which calls for less commitment. The required phone number field - along with a lack of information on the landing page -- likely caused 75 potential leads to leave without registering.
So, as this example clearly illustrates, matching quid to pro quo is the path to more productive online lead generation.
How are you converting leads using online content? Click the button below to get more lead generation info.
The image is from Jon Gosier's Flickr photostream under Creative Commons license.
I consider myself the luckiest of inbound marketing consultants. I love and respect each and every one of my clients. It is a joy to get up each morning and work for them. Here are the qualities that make them so worthy of effort beyond the call of duty.
- They are passionate about what they do and more passionate about delivering great value to their customers. Great role models!
- They are industry leaders and innovators.
- They are confident about their professional knowledge and experience and humble about where they need help.
- They are curious about the solutions to their problems and pursue a variety of options.
- They are really smart and, I believe, are the best at what they do.
- Once presented with it, they are able to acknowledge and embrace solutions in their best interest.
- They negotiate with win/win and long term relationships at heart.
- They treat vendors as friends and partners.
- Their motivation comes from a desire to make things better.
- They invest in themselves and their stakeholders.
- They are damn nice people.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my dear clients. It’s such a pleasure to work with you.
Why do you love and respect your clients - or vendors?
Please take this bouquet of Inbound Marketing Facts and have a Happy Valentine's Day!
The image is from the flickr photostream of bswise under Creative Commons license.
I recently read highlights of a survey by Ragan Communications and NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions assessing how some 2700 organizations – for-profit, non-profit and government – are implementing social media. The study makes clear that, in general, the respondents are taking a tactical approach. There is very little strategy.
This is because it seems that they are not recognizing the value of having a social media specialist – let alone a strategist -- handle this part of today’s marketing mix.
Here are two pieces of data that are particularly interesting to this inbound marketing consultant.
- Sixty five percent of the surveyed organizations pile social media on top of other responsibilities, while only 27 percent have someone who focuses exclusively on social media.
- Seventy percent of respondents are either "dissatisfied" or only "somewhat satisfied" with how they measure their social media efforts, compared to a mere 31 percent who are "satisfied" or "very satisfied." Many don’t make the time and resources available to track data and/or admit that they don’t even know what to track.
The scary part of this for marketers and those charged with getting bottom line results is that social media constitutes only a fraction of the marketing mix in our digital age.
According to colleague Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of PR 2020 and author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint, this is all part of a larger issue – a talent gap that’s impeding successful marketing implementation – for both marketing agencies and their clients.
Today’s marketer needs to be a hybrid beast – a copyrighter, an analytics expert, a Pay Per Click advertising pro, a website designer and user experience consultant and much more. The hybrid marketer doesn’t have to DO everything – that’s impossible.
But they have to understand the big picture and know what to assess, what channels should be considered for a particular campaign or an overall marketing plan. They need to understand how Buyer Personae figure into targeting and messaging and brand positioning.
Paul Roetzer addressed a bunch of his fellow HubSpot partners last week on this talent gap topic and cited an eye-opening statistic: Consumers consult 10.4 information sources before making a purchase as opposed to half that number in 2010.
This means that companies have to get their acts together to intersect with customer journeys – the cross channel, multi device paths that customers control and that lead to their buying decisions.
That’s what Inbound Marketing does. And it takes more than someone in marketing communications being tasked with ‘doing social media’ on top of their other responsibilities.
There are increasingly robust tools available to leverage lean in-house resources. Check out www.blueconic.com -- an enterprise level tech platform that can continuously profile millions of website visitors and use the information to fuel in-the-moment dialogues that guide the customer journey.
But before you can implement the right tools, you need to understand why you need them in the first place. This requires acknowledging that marketing has changed, and that we need different talent to create and implement winning programs.
Part of it is evolving hiring criteria for in-house and agency resources. Companies also have to create silo-breaking training for marketing personnel that makes seeing the big picture the foundation for success.
While you're here download our Social Media Whitepaper with our compliments.
The image at the top of this post is from the Flickr Photostream of cambodia4kidsorg under Creative Commons license.
This weekend I experienced two live performances that made me think about why the communication in our content marketing should be direct, useful and, above all, personal.
The first performance was a jazz concert at the Nyack Library in Nyack, New York featuring the wonderful Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi and two masters of Brazilian guitar, Roni Ben-Hur and Paul Meyers. The setting was the library's charming and intimate Carnegie Room, which seats maybe 150.
The two sets that comprised the evening were as much conversation with the audience as concert. For example, during the introductions the emcee had a memory lapse concerning the many top performers Roditi has played and recorded with. Audience members began to help, shouting out favorite collaborations.
I contributed singer Mark Murphy to the list. Roditi played on a marvelous album called Night Mood, the music of Brazilian composer Ivan Lins. When the players took the stage, Roditi asked, "Who just mentioned Mark Murphy? Last week I listened to the album I made with him. Hadn't heard it for years and man it was a good session!" Listen to a cut here with a great Roditi solo. docs/02 - Madalena.mp3
That was only the beginning of the musicians' connection with the audience. The entire evening was a conversation on many levels. The music was incredible and included well-known standards, as well as original compositions.
We also heard behind-the-scenes stories about life on the road with other jazz greats. We learned about Roditi's musical influencers and interests. There was fun and humor. The audience was fully engaged. When the call to action came before the intermission to buy CDs, dozens of hands went for wallets.
On Sunday evening Jeff and I watched the Super Bowl, both for the football and Beyonce's half-time show. Even though it was happening live, the game had the trappings of a recording. By the third time the sound-enhanced graphic of the SuperBowl trophy whooshed onto the screen between plays, I wanted to run into the kitchen and make popcorn to escape. But at the heart of the game was a rivalry of cities and brothers and the drama of a power outage caused by human error. Salvation.
Beyonce's performance was electric and overly produced, but her singing was authentic – quashing the criticism that she sang to a pre-recorded track in her far more human and emotional performance at the presidential inauguration two weeks before. According to reviews, the most human moment – Beyonce’s reunion with the members of her original group Destiny’s Child – was the crowd favorite, trumping pyrotechnics and special effects.
Oh…and let’s not forget the Super Bowl commercials. According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, the top five ads as voted by almost 8,000 viewers all used humanity and gentle humor to engage.
- Budweiser – The tale of a man and the Clydesdale he raised from birth and their subsequent emotional reunion. (Watch above if you haven't seen it yet. Get a tissue first.) By the way the YouTube version includes a call to action for further engagement - Name the Baby Clydesdale.
- Tide – Gentle humor when a football fan finds a ‘miracle salsa stain’ of Joe Montana on his football jersey which his wife, a Baltimore Ravens fan, washes out with Tide – ending media fame and fortune.
- Chrysler Ram Trucks – Paul Harvey’s ode to the American farmer reprised in magnificent photography from the heartland.
- Doritos – In Fashionista Daddy a father and his burly football friends play princess dress-up with his daughters in exchange for Doritos. Silly and heartwarming fun.
- Jeep – A tribute to our servicemen and women fighting overseas.
I think you get the message by now. The most engaging formula for creating successful content is to connect authentically and personally. Share your business knowledge and expertise, your products and services. But do it with humanity. That’s what makes people want to buy from you.
What are your favorite content marketing take-aways from the Super Bowl? Thanks for reading and sharing in the comments. Please take home some Lead Generation Tips while you're here.
Anyone who’s read my posts over the years knows I’m a huge fan of jazz – and often use it as a metaphor in discussing business and marketing issues. Playing jazz at a high level is all about successful collaboration. A set I heard last night at the well-known club Jazz Standard in Manhattan made me think about the nature of successful marketing collaboration, including a wonderful one I’m currently involved in.
Please invest a few minutes to read about the jazz experience that sets up the marketing story. You’ll pick up some usable ideas for how to collaborate to make your marketing much better – and learn a bit about America’s Music in the 21st century as a bonus.
The set at Jazz Standard was a ‘big band’ gig led by drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts’. He’s a collaborator of Wynton Marsalis, a composer of original music and is married to horn player and arranger Laura Kahle who created the arrangements – or charts, in jazz parlance – for last night’s performance. The set was spectacular to me for two reasons:
- It took place in an extremely intimate setting. The tiny stage is right up close and personal to the audience and was packed with about 15 musicians. We had to move our table so that the first row of players could squeeze into position. We literally felt part of the band. This happens rarely.
- Every player was a leader and star in his or her own right and it was the first time they’d all played together. If you’re not familiar with jazz and its top artists, just Google these names from the lineup and you’ll have a clue about the magnitude of that performance:
Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums; Lew Soloff, trumpet; Frank Lacy and Conrad Herwig, trombones; Marcus Strickland, Yosvany Terry, Jacam Manricks, Claire Daly, saxophones; Don Byron, clarinets; Paul Bollenbeck, guitar; Chris Smith, stand up bass; and our good friend David Budway, piano.
There was well-earned ego in evidence to be sure. For example, Frank Lacy’s trombone slide almost clocked Don Byron sitting in front of him. Byron shot a dark look and made an exaggerated effort to get out of Lacy’s way. But ego was put aside in favor of their incredible professional chops and their overarching dedication to creativity and delivering to the audience a performance worthy of the collaborative tradition of their art form. Plus they know and like each other and so there was delightful camaraderie, too.
The delivery was messy and delicious like the Chipotle chicken wings and collared greens I feasted on prior to the show. No pristine bandstand with logo-laden music stands and matching band jackets. Each musician brought individual style, talent and experience to the stage and gave us an unforgettable hour of incredible music, fun, humor and the sense that we were part of something unique in that moment.
Now, as an example of how collaboration is critical to successful marketing today, let me tell you about the greatly rewarding collaboration I’m involved in with Rhonda Hurwitz of HMR Marketing Solutions.
She and I have known each other for several years and transitioned in tandem from traditional marketing and PR to inbound marketing.
We both have family background in marketing. We come from different experience. I have been on the agency/consultant side. Rhonda comes from the corporate side and is now a consultant. She hired vendors like me. I sold to and served clients like her. Our combined experience is pretty powerful in putting together strategic plans and implementing them for clients.
We really respect each other. I think she’s incredibly smart and an exceptionally good writer. (“Takes one to know one,” I say with zero humility.) We also trust each other. We see each other as equals and, in certain respects, we see each other as more than equal.
That said, we are messy like that band last night. As we engage in the work of helping our shared clients succeed, it’s not always pretty. We butt heads over ideas. But neither of us is bull-headed. We try to confine our brainstorm interactions to our private conversations, but sometimes they spill over into discussion with other collaborators and even the clients.
We can’t help it. We’re both passionate about reaching our clients’ goals within the realities of running our businesses. So if you’re a client and at some point it seems that we’re not on the same page, take heart. We are. We’re on your page and will risk shaking things up with each other to help you succeed.
Like the jazz guys last night, this takes a certain courage. It’s uncomfortable in the contentious moments, my friends. But because we trust and respect, we synthesize and process. I give ground, Rhonda gives ground. Or when neither of us can give ground, we keep generating more ideas and find something that we both like better than our initial concepts. It’s rewarding to us and it’s really important to the results we get for our clients.
We also plan for continuous improvement like the band did last night. At the end of the last number of their set, someone said – a la Count Basie – “One more time!” And then they did another take on the ending of the tune. After that, they did it one more time again.
When we asked one of the musicians about it later, he said, “We haven’t played together before. And since you guys were having such a good time, we figured you wouldn't mind if we tried to make it better for the next set!
The video at the top of the post is Jeff “Tain” Watts with the Danish Radio Big Band, with which he collaborates. You’ll get a flavor of last night’s music.
The image of the two little superheroes is Rhonda’s collaborative contribution to this post. She received it in an email from eloqua.com and thinks it’s hysterical! I agree. Especially since she made it funnier by tagging it!! Not sure who to credit for the image. If it’s yours please give me the appropriate attribution or let me know the cost of licensing it for this post.
Would you share your collaboration success stories in the comments? Thanks!
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Last week I was doing a demo of Hubspot for the marketing team of a former PR client. During our meeting, I had an experience that I'd like to share with you. HubSpot, for those new to the inbound-i blog, is the all-in-one inbound marketing software I use for E.R. Becker Company and re-sell to other businesses.
Let me set the stage with some background. When you log in to HubSpot, you land on a dashboard that lets you know how you're doing with your inbound marketing efforts. Two key measurements featured on the dashboard are website traffic and number of leads generated from that traffic.
When we started the demo, my traffic count was 90 visits so far this month - up 85% over the same date last month. (Yes, I admit that I fell behind in my blogging over the holidays.) It was early in the month and I hadn't yet converted any traffic to leads.
I had published a blog post the evening before and publicized it automatically in HubSpot to all of my social networks and to select LinkedIn groups. The blog post was optimized for two of my important keywords and had a call-to-action (CTA) at the end, inviting readers to download a social marketing eBook, in exchange for which they would leave me their contact information.
As I demonstrated the many features of HubSpot, I spoke to the marketing team about the importance of blogging, SEO and social media to driving traffic. I showed the team how driving targeted traffic to landing pages and providing useful content offers through strategically placed CTAs is the path to generating leads.
The demo took about 30 minutes and in Q&A, one of the team members asked if we could go back to the dashboard. We did.
"Wow! You already have 30 more visitors!" someone shouted out. "Look! You have a lead, too!"
Sure enough, the traffic count was up to 120 and one of the new visitors had downloaded the social media eBook, converting from a visitor to a lead. It reminded me of a piece of time-lapse photography I've seen showing the building of a skyscraper condensed from years to a few minutes.
While inbound marketing results take time to build, it's motivating to see the growth before your very eyes. After this dramatic end to my demonstration, I told the group the following:
When I was providing PR services to your organization, even though we got great results, I could not and would not ever guarantee those results. In PR we work to present your information in a way that earns a media outlet's valuable space for editorial coverage. But we don't own the space and can't give it away.
With inbound marketing I WILL guarantee you that if you blog regularly in the online space that you own, sharing useful information based on your expertise, if you publicize your posts in social media and optimize the content for search engines, you WILL grow your traffic. If you provide further remarkable content and CTAs, you WILL convert traffic to leads. If you analyze your results with software like HubSpot or Google Analytics, you WILL be able to see the growth of your marketing skyscraper as it builds steadily toward success!
As a consultant, it feels great to offer a process that makes me feel comfortable guaranteeing success! If you've experienced your own inbound marketing time-lapse moment, thank you for sharing in the comments.
Learn more about marketing with HubSpot by clicking the CTA button below and if you have 2-an-a-half minutes, enjoy watching the YouTube video at the top of this post depicting the two years of construction of the Denver Spire condensed via time-lapse photography.
If you're still depending on the IT department or your 'web person' to update your website, make 2013 your year of web freedom. Take control of your website -- and boost your online marketing success by a mile. How to accomplish this? Invest in a website update or re-do that incorporates a content management system or CMS.
What's a CMS? It's website software that allows you to add or change content on your website without needing to be a techie. If you can use a word processing program like Word, you can operate many content management systems.
There are a number of CMS choices, depending upon the complexity and size of your business. We'll mention some of them later in this post. But first let's examine the benefits of taking control of your website for marketing purposes.
Here's a fact: marketing success goes to the nimble. To compete today, marketers need to be able to create and launch blog posts, email marketing campaigns, webinars, ebooks and other content with immediacy. They need to be able to optimize this content so that search engines can find it and serve it up in response to user queries.
There is absolutely no good reason today why marketing should miss opportunities to attract website visitors and convert them to leads because of someone else's schedule and work priorities.
The Internet has speeded up the pace of business and leveled the playing field for smart competitors at the same time. Although nothing takes the place of sound planning, once you have a marketing strategy in place, you need as much flexibility as possible to implement it. A CMS is the indispensable tool for turning strategy into sales.
Need to drive more web traffic quickly? You need to step up the pace of your blogging right away. Need to convert more visitors to leads? You need to post some useful premium content for them to download in exchange for their contact info now. Need to stay in touch with your existing contacts? You need to launch an email campaign with an offer that will keep them engaged with you and create a landing page where they can easily find and act on your offer.
For the most part, you can do all of the above on your own schedule with a good CMS. Here are some of the most popular and effective content management systems:
WordPress - My first blog was on WordPress.com, a hosted platform that can allow you to choose a design template and launch a blog and small site in a couple of hours. It's free, but I recommend paying a few dollars to redirect your WordPress url to a personal one. Example: Go from www.mysite.wordpress.com to www.mysite.com. It's more professional.
For custom designed sites and greater functionality, download a theme from WordPress.org and host it with a WordPress enabled Internet Service Provider (ISP) of your choice. There are robust plugins available like the Yoast plugin for SEO and icopyright.com for copyright protection and content licensing/syndication. I know companies with revenues of a billion dollars or more running on WordPress. So it scales.
Joomla and Drupal - These popular content management systems are a bit less user friendly in my opinion, and so are a bit more limiting for marketers. You may still need help from your IT person to add pages and change navigation. But you can certainly update copy, add images and media files and blog posts.
GX Software - For enterprise level users, the GX CMS from Netherlands-based GX Software has been steadily rising in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management Systems, a well-respected rating system for the large-user market. GX also offers BlueConic, innovative engagement software that enables users to provide the most relevant possible content dynamically to visitors across an array of web channels and via multiple digital devices. For full disclosure, GX is a client for whom I consult on content marketing for the U.S. The company provides its products direct and through significant partners like PB Software (Pitney Bowes).
HubSpot - This is the CMS I use for E.R. Becker Company. It was built to deliver on the new Inbound Marketing results oriented approach to marketing online. I can manage all of my online marketing from HubSpot by myself - blogging, social media, SEO, landing pages, email, content marketing and - most important - integrated analysis. And as I said earlier, I am neither 'techie' nor graphic designer.
You could cobble together seven or eight applications to try to approximate the all-in-one functionality of HubSpot, but you'd never get them talking to each other to measure success and marketing ROI. It's the most elegant solution I've found and so I became a HubSpot partner to help my clients implement HubSpot for their inbound marketing. HubSpot is getting into dynamic content delivery - still ahead of the curve. It scales from the single consultant/small business to the Fortune 1000.
What CMS are you using? If you have questions about which CMS would be best for your company feel free to ask.
If you find this information helpful, please subscribe to the inbound-i blog using the form at the left. Or take home more info about online marketing by downloading our free Social Media Whitepaper.
The image in this post is from the flickr photstream of Roger Schultz under Creative Commons license.
As the world of marketing changes around us, it can be tempting to just take action: put up a new website, dip our toes in the waters of blogging, try out the latest social platform. In fact, that's what many companies I've consulted with have done.
The result was that they were not getting anywhere near the benefits that connecting with potential customers online can bring. Why? Because they took what they believed to be shortcuts without mapping out a destination.
Lately, I've been called in by more companies that recognize they're going in circles online. They want to understand how to chart a better course. What they're learning is that going back and adding some fundamental, strategic steps to their marketing journey is the key to planning far more successful tactical efforts.
Here are five steps that may seem like the long way around to boosting your online marketing. But guaranteed, if you stop and take them, you'll get to your objectives much faster than if you ignore them.
1. Create Buyer Personae: It's surprising how many businesses haven't analyzed their best customers to identify the qualities and motivations they share. Who among us wouldn't want to attract more of our most enjoyable and profitable customers? The process of understanding our best customers' buyer personae can be very enjoyable. Give each buyer persona a name. Then, when you're creating content, choosing social media platforms or making other marketing decisions you can do so with your buyer personae in mind. Will this messaging appeal to them? You'll be able to answer 'yes' or 'no'.
2. Analyze the Competition: Online marketing is relatively new and it's highly likely that your competitors aren't any farther ahead than you are. We're all very visible online and marketing moves that used to be private are now knowable. But most companies are unaware to what extent. Knowing the quality of your competitors' online marketing before they know yours will reveal incredible opportunities for you to leapfrog them. If you find they're ahead of you, you'll have a roadmap for improving your marketing for the competitive environment. You will also see where your products and services stand apart so that you can better position them in the competitive field. Go to www.marketinggrader.com. Grade your own company first. Just type in your website url and your email address to get a detailed assessment of your online marketing. Then repeat for each competitor. You'll be amazed at what you'll learn.
3. Identify Key Messages: Now that you know who you're speaking to, and what will attract them to your products and services compared to your competitors', write a list of messages that will appeal to them. Having a key message list will keep your communications on track and consistent.
4. Perform Keyword Research: Keywords are the words that your buyer personae use to find products and services like yours. They are often not industry buzzwords. You need to know these search terms so that you can optimize your website and content for them. They create a path to your website or blog when search engines are seeking relevant responses to queries from your buyer personae. Google has a free keyword research tool. Or perform a few Google searches on terms related to your business and at the bottom of the first results page, Google will offer a list of 'related searches'.
5. Optimize Your Website and Content: Once you have a list of the keywords actually used to search for your products or services, you can optimize your web pages and blog posts to let search engines know that your pages are relevant to their interests. You can read a series of posts, beginning here, that address various aspects of search engine optimization, SEO.
Once you've taken these five steps, you'll have a compass in place for your marketing and your best customer prospects will have a short-cut to your website and online content.
What online marketing strategies have worked for your company?
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The image is from the Flickr photo stream of Patrick Hoelsy under Creative Commons license,
So far this year, the 8000+ users of HubSpot have generated more than 35,500,000 leads using the all-in-one inbound marketing software. Its creators have just launched HubSpot3 – a powerful new version – which promises to exponentially increase both HubSpot users and lead generation.
If you’re a small or mid-sized business or even an enterprise level company trying to use Internet tools to generate leads, you owe it to your business to look into HubSpot3. In fact, this version not only helps you generate leads, but provides new methods of interaction, CRM integration and analytics -- all designed to move you beyond lead generation to closed business.
We’re still within a window of opportunity for those companies that adopt Inbound Marketing before their competitors do. Most businesses are still stuck on figuring out how to drive traffic to their websites (read “Home Pages”) without a fundamental understanding of how to convert web traffic to leads and then to sales.
HubSpot allows you to both understand and implement the process. The most important aspect of HubSpot3 is that it organizes the inbound marketing process far more intuitively than its initial release, while providing and demonstrating new ways to connect disparate online activities to drive results.
For one example, when I log into the Contacts section of my HubSpot -- which is at the heart of the new release -- and click on a specific individual, I can now see the social media he or she is active on – including handles. I can click to go direct to their social profiles and follow them right from HubSpot.
This allows a new level of proactive engagement with those who choose to provide their email to download a piece of content from my website. I can now create a social media conversation, with their past interactions with my site as a starting point. As contacts continue to interact with my business over time, their profiles automatically update so that I can segment them for additional engagement based on selected criteria.
One of the most powerful features of HubSpot for larger companies with outside sales departments is a more robust integration with Salesforce.com and other major CRM systems. The result is that sales people can become stakeholders in the marketing process and leads get turned over to them when they’re far more purchase-ready, making for a more efficient and productive sales process.
eMail in HubSpot3 is arguably the most effective email marketing software available today. An array of templates, customization and personalization capabilities (even custom personalization fields) help create appealing and audience-appropriate emails. Open rates and other stats are incorporated into overall analytics and contact profiles. Subscribers now have the ability to opt in or out of various email offer types.
Those marketers charged with creating emails and email campaigns can view page-development progress in an on-screen preview panel. Lists can be easily segmented and contacts assigned to specific salespeople for personalized responses.
At the Professional and/or Enterprise levels of the HubSpot3 product, email can drive clicks to Smart Landing Pages that adapt automatically based on browser and device, as well as previous contact interaction and behavior. Full campaigns can be launched from landing pages.
Marketers can also embed smart forms which remove fields a contact has filled out previously and Smart CTAs (calls-to-action) that adapt to the individual contact’s interests based on previous actions. It’s easy to imagine how such individualized user experiences can build relationships with leads and encourage them to become buyers when they’re ready.
Get a sneak peak of HubSpot3, which will roll out between now and early 2013. Get a jumpstart on next year’s marketing plans! eMail me at email@example.com for a demo.
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