the inbound-i blog: Inbound Marketing Information, Ideas & Intelligence

How Inbound Marketing with HubSpot is Like Time-Lapse Photography

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 @ 18:01 PM

 

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.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, E.R. Becker Company, Lead Generation, HubSpot

Inbound Marketing Advice: Get a Content Management System

Posted by Ellie Becker on Sun, Jan 06, 2013 @ 12:01 PM

Take control of inbound marketing with a content management system

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.

 

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The image in this post is from the flickr photstream of Roger Schultz under Creative Commons license.

 

Topics: HubSpot, Content Management Systems, CMS, GX Software, WordPress

HubSpot3: Beyond Lead Generation

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Sep 17, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

HubSpot3 Love 255

 

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.

Inbound Leads Generated by HubSpot

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 ellie@erbeckercompany.com for a demo.

Also...Learn more about generating leads online and download your free Lead Generation Tips here.

Lead Generation Tips

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Lead Generation, HubSpot, HubSpot3

Breaking Inbound Marketing News: HubSpot3 Launches

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

 HubSpot Dashboard

Dear Readers of the inbound-i blog,

You are among the very first on the planet to get groundbreaking news about the present and future of marketing. Culminating a year of intense development, HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah have just rolled out HubSpot3 a powerful new version of its software that even more fully integrates and analyzes the many functions of successful Inbound Marketing.

HubSpot3 Just Announced at Inbound 2012

The announcement came minutes ago during their keynote presentation here at Inbound 2012, a gathering of HubSpot users, Inbound Marketing agency partners and those interested in learning more about Inbound Marketing and evolving their marketing for the way both B-to-C and B-to-B customers buy today. A number of new features – particularly those that provide Smart/Dynamic delivery of content, forms and calls to action -- fulfill the vision that Brian Halligan put forth at last year’s Inbound event: To enable marketing segmentation to the individual level.

HubSpot3 provides marketers unprecedented control and ease of implementation of all aspects of Inbound Marketing. If you had to cobble it all together yourself, you’d have to purchase at least eight separate products and then try to get them all to talk to each other effectively. And you still wouldn’t have as elegant and impressive a solution.

Any business owner or corporate marketer who has looked at HubSpot in the past must take another look now. Some of the new elements are available across all levels of the HubSpot product – Basic, Professional and Enterprise. Some features are available only at the Professional and/’or Enterprise levels. These decisions were based on providing features of greatest importance to each HubSpot persona group at realistic pricing levels for each customer type.

What's New in HubSpot3?

We’ll be blogging more about the specifics of the new HubSpot3 platform, but here are the highlights of what’s rebuilt or is brand new in HubSpot3 as provided by the HubSpot team:

HubSpot Logo

The following new or rebuilt elements in the release of HubSpot 3 join blogging software, CMS, SEO tools, Marketing Analytics and other tools (including the marketplace) to make up the complete HubSpot 3 Platform:

  • Contacts Database: Originally released to a small audience in June, Contacts is an ever-evolving information portal on a company’s audience (Prospects, Leads and Customers). Contacts is really the brain of the new platform with lead and customer profiles automatically adapting and updating based on changing preferences and interactions with the company.
  • Email: Also released to a small audience in June, the email system is closely integrated with the contacts database, workflows social media, dynamic content and a company’s CRM system. It enables greater personalization and deliverability than ever before.
  • Workflows: Workflows leverage the enormous amount of data in the Contacts database and a series of rules set by the marketer to create dynamically evolving segments and automate marketing actions. More than email automation, workflows enables marketers to trigger campaigns, change contact profile properties, score leads, send notifications, and sync to a CRM system based on when a lead has met a set of conditions.
  • Landing Pages: Landing pages have been rebuilt to be closely integrated with the Contacts database, CRM systems, email, dynamic components, and social media. Using the new landing pages, marketers can build, implement, and measure a full multichannel campaign in one place. A/B Testing is built in (at the enterprise level) and the new landing page templates have responsive design to optimize for different devices and browsers. Because of Smart Forms and Smart CTAs (See these points below), HubSpot's landing pages are also among the most adaptive on the market.
  • Smart Forms: Smart forms adapt and minimize over time. As a company gathers contact information about a given lead, the forms remove fields that have been filled in during previous submissions, making for a better user experience. For example, any of you who have filled out the same long form in HubSpot every time you want to download a piece of content will never have to do so again.
  • Smart CTAs (Calls to Action): Built off the Contacts database, HubSpot 3 enables you to show images and CTAs that adapt in real time to the interests of each visitor based on previous interactions with your website. This is AWESOME and cutting edge!
  • Smart Lists: Smart lists are continually evolving contact lists based on a set of criteria. Each time an individual meets the rules of a smart list, they are added. You can have an unlimited number  of Smart Lists that are segmented based on the value of a contact property, being a member of a static list, or having ever filled out a specific form.
  • Social Media: With a new integration directly into Contacts, HubSpot Social Media now enables you to view a lead's social activity and create dynamic segments based on your most engaged social media followers. In addition to that functionality, called "Social Contacts," HubSpot social media now has an in-app view of all your Twitter and Facebook interactions and enables you to respond, follow or other action.
  • Mobile App: Available for free in the apple store, HubSpot has added a mobile application to enable marketers to keep tabs on their lead generation and customer conversions on the go. The mobile app includes a view of Sources, Marketing Grader and Contacts.
  • Salesforce.com Integration: HubSpot 3 brings you an even stronger Salesforce.com connector than ever. (The software also integrates with other CRMs and software platforms via plug-ins and interfaces developed on the HubSpot API.)

The evolution of the HubSpot software was enabled by significant investment in the past couple of years by online marketing giants Sequoia Partners, Google and Salesforce.com. Some of the features – like the new email product -- are already available to new customers and are being rolled out to existing customers. Other features will be rolled out over time. A new pricing structure has also been rolled out – effective September 1. Contact us for more info and demos at info@erbeckercompany.com. 

If you're still not sure what Inbound Marketing is or how it can help your business, download our free Inbound Marketing fact sheet here.

 

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, HubSpot, Inbound 2012, HubSpot3

Online Lead Generation: Blogging Builds Business

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Jun 11, 2012 @ 09:06 AM

Online Lead Generation Blogging Builds Business  When I say, “Blogging Builds Business,” I say it   with certainty. Why am I so sure? Because, I’ve personally built business through blogging. For online lead generation, blogging is an undeniably powerful and essential tool.

With consistency – at least one post per week -- I’ve seen my website traffic grow continuously. I share my blog on social media and almost always offer another piece of content with each post via a call to action button. And my business has grown.

In fact, I’ve become so busy implementing inbound marketing programs for clients, that I’ve further proved the value of blogging to build traffic and help convert traffic to leads. This time it’s a negative proof.

As my blogging consistency has waned, so has my traffic and so has my online lead generation – dramatically. I know this because I track my marketing progress through my HubSpot analytics.

So, this week I’m doing what I recommend to my clients: Sit down at your computer and take a bit of time to share what you know about your business. In today’s marketing environment, content publishing is the Holy Grail. We ignore it or abandon it at our own peril, and that of our businesses.

Fortunately my online community, those I respect and whose blogs have inspired me in the past, reminded me that I just have to rededicate myself to my blog and online marketing efforts. Ironically today, both Chris Brogan and Mark Schaefer had posts that got me to sit down first thing and share these thoughts with you. Please be sure to read them for some great advice.

I expect that with a few extra blog posts, my traffic will build pretty quickly. I’m also going to spend part of today creating a new piece of content to offer on a new landing page to help my blog visitors engage with my company. These efforts will also make my site more enticing to search engines as they continuously seek fresh information to provide to those looking for it online.

Even as someone who understands and believes in the value of inbound marketing – and the critical role of blogging, I’m no different than any small business owner trying to take the best care of clients, while continuing to market and build business. These activities are not mutually exclusive and both are critical to success. So I stand by the advice that I offer to you and to myself. Start blogging. Keep blogging.

How will you get your online lead generation on track?

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The image Keep Up and Blog On is from the flickr photostream of futureshape under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Lead Generation, HubSpot, Online Lead Generation

Inbound Marketing Tips: My Interview With HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, May 28, 2012 @ 15:05 PM

Ellie Becker Interviews HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan

For an hour on Friday, I interviewed HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan when I guest-hosted the LinkedIn Lady Show on Internet-based RockStar Radio Network for my friend Carol McManus.

It was a rare opportunity for all of us to learn about the current state and future direction of Inbound Marketing from one of the acknowledged leaders of marketing thought and action today. 

Brian is a straight-talking, accessible guy - an open book as he puts it. So we had a lively and wide-ranging conversation. You can download the 05-25-12 podcast on iTunes. Here are a few highlights of Brian’s comments:

Definition of Inbound Marketing

After I complained that I haven’t been able to come up with a one-liner to define Inbound marketing, Brian empathized, saying he’s only been able to get it down to about four or five lines.

Brian's definition:

Inbound Marketing is the opposite of traditional outbound marketing (advertising, direct mail/phone, tradeshows, etc.), where you interrupt your way into your people's lives. Instead of interrupting, Inbound Marketing pulls prospects into and down through your sales funnel in a new and natural way based on how they search for information and make purchase decisions today.

Adapting to the Shift in Marketing

Brian compared the shift in marketing today as similar to the shift in transportation that came with the automobile. Whoever decided to keep on selling buggies, horses and whips wasn’t around too long after the public started buying cars.

He and I agree that it’s still pretty early in the Inbound game and a moment of opportunity for those who jump in now. But it’s a window of opportunity that won’t last too long, Brian Halligan predicts.

The Challenge of Inbound Marketing

The hardest part of Inbound Marketing, he believes, is pulling prospects into the top of the sales funnel and converting them to leads. That’s the part that takes creativity and persistence – developing great content and getting calls to action and landing pages just right. Once visitors convert to leads, nurturing them and pulling them through sales funnel can be more mechanical. He and his co-founder Dharmesh Shah have built into HubSpot the functionalities to automate the lead nurturing process and make it efficient.

LinkedIn Lady show with Carol McManus

Other Tidbits of Inbound Wisdom from Brian Halligan

  • Make the time and free the resources to create great content by stopping marketing efforts (like Google Adwords, Advertising, Tradeshows) that don’t drive as strong results.

  • The trip through the sales funnel is not linear. Leads can bounce up and down between different levels.

  • HubSpot was created not just to sell software, but to give customers the knowledge they need to transform their marketing.

An hour with Brian Halligan is an hour well spent for any marketer or business owner.  I hope you’ll take the opportunity to listen to the full interview.

And while you’re here, please download our free fact sheet that details 20 reasons you should consider transforming your marketing with HubSpot.

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Images from the LinkedIn Lady Show Webpage on May 25, 2012

Topics: Inbound Marketing, LinkedIn Lady Show, HubSpot, Inbound Marketing Tips, Brian Halligan

How To Research Keywords: A High Return Online Marketing Activity

Posted by Ellie Becker on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 @ 20:03 PM

This is the second in our SEO series. Optimizing your website is probably the top way to leapfrog your competition today in my opinion.Choose Longtail Search Terms for SEO

The basic building block of SEO – and all online marketing -- is the keyword or search term. There are free research tools to learn how your prospects are actually searching for your products/services. The words they use may never occur to you. But you can discover them and use them to drive traffic to your website from these active searchers.

Here’s how important keyword research is according to SEOMoz – one of the top authorities on search engine optimization – excerpted from its “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO”:

“Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Through the detective work of puzzling out your market's keyword demand, you not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually every niche - not taking advantage is practically criminal.”

Here’s how to start researching keywords. Click on this link to Google’s free keyword tool. It was developed to help companies target Adwords in Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. It’s also very useful in organic (unpaid) search.

Here’s what to do. In the search field type in keywords and search terms that you believe are important in your industry. In the left column of the tool, you’ll see an option called Match Type. Select the option that says Exact Match.  This will return you suggestions related to the exact broad term you typed in.

The suggestions provided are based on actual searches that have happened over the past month. Refer to the column marked ‘Local’ which is the searches performed in your country. The Global search column is for searches worldwide.

The second column from the left tells you the difficulty – or competition -- of ranking for the search term. The lower the number, the easier to rank for it on Page one of search results.

The suggested search terms are considered “longtail” search terms. For example, a recent search for the exact broad search term Social Media Marketing revealed 22,200 local monthly searches and competition of .92.

The longtail search term “using social media for marketing” only had 480 local searches but had a competition of only .62. Plus, those 480 people are more likely to be interested in finding help using social media for marketing rather than those who may be seeking broader information. That would be an interesting longtail search term for me.

You’ll make similar search term decisions for yur own industry. Keyword research is not an exact science and it’s a bit of an art. As you’ll discover, there are thousands of ways that prospects may search for your products or services. It’s humbling, actually, and important motivation for dropping jargon from our marketing language.

The best advice I can offer is to explore, experiment and analyze. HubSpot has keyword tools and analytics built in, including your ranking for specific keywords. There are other tools out there like Keyword Spy, which also gives you competitive intelligence.

Optimizing your web pages and content based on keyword research will pay off in more traffic to your site from targeted prospects.

 

As you consider your keyword strategy learn more about another key element of ranking for search terms - Social Media. Download your free White Paper.

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The Longtail image is from the Flickr photostream of Mister-E chris Eason under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing Strategy, SEO, Keyword Spy, Keyword Research, HubSpot, SEOMoz

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