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Buyer Personas Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Websites

Website Redesign Checklist

Gobeyond Website Redesign Checklist

Introduction

Every now and again, your website needs a refresh. This is true whether you are rebranding, you’re moving to a new Content Management System (CMS), your site isn’t getting the results you like, or worse, your site was built in 2000 (gulp).

Looking down the barrel of a website redesign can be a frightening thought. Many clients cringe when I propose such a grandiose idea. However, eventually there comes a time when you’ve exhausted your possibilities and tweaked all you can. Radical redesigns are a great way to transform your site into a beautiful new butterfly.

The difference between a successful website and a terrible failure is preparation. And what better way to prepare that to have a checklist? Whether you are working with an agency or a freelance designer, or taking on the redesign yourself, this checklist will save you from some headaches down the road.

The following steps will turn your website into an inbound marketing machine for long-term success.

1. Benchmark your current metrics

Before you dream up all those bells and whistles or elements you liked about those other websites, you must document your current performance metrics. Start analyzing your current site, including:

  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors/bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • Total amount of sales generated

If you do not have access to this information, I recommend adding Google Analytics to your site for better tracking and visibility into site performance.

2. Determine your goals

Be as clear as possible about why you’re doing the redesign in the first place and tie it to measurable results. Communication between your team and your designer or agency is key at this juncture. Consider the following objectives for your website:

  • Number of visits/visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • Total sales generated
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords

3. Avoid Pitfalls. Review your assets.

While a redesign may be absolutely necessary for you at this time, you may be hurting yourself by eliminating a lot of your assets that you have built up. These assets may include:

  • Most shared or viewed content
  • Most trafficked pages
  • Best performing keywords you rank for & associated pages
  • Number of inbound links to individual pages

Speaking from experience – keep in mind that many web designers don’t consider this step because they are not marketers. Removing a page on your current site that has a higher number of inbound links could lose a lot of SEO cred, which will decrease keyword rankings.

4. Analyze your Competition

Stealing like an artist doesn’t have to be an obsession, but knowing a bit about your competitors will help you compare where you are currently. The following steps will help:

  1. Run your website through Marketing Grader to get a report card of how your website and marketing is performing.
  2. Next, run each competitor’s site through the same Marketing Grader so you are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Take a look at their websites, and note what you do and do not like. Avoid copying them completely, but rather review and uncover what you can do better.

After you run your reports, put together an action list of areas you can improve and what you can do differently than your competitors.

5. Design your site around personas

Your website is not all about you. I repeat. Your website is not all about you. Consider yourself a customer and ask “what’s in it for me?”Speak to them in their language by designing content around your buyers’ personas.

A buyer persona is where you slice your marketplace into individual groups of people. They are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior.

For instance, if you are a marketing manager for an embroidery business that is looking to attract new business, you might target 4 buyer personas: an independent shopper, a corporate business, a small mom & pop business, and a hobby embroidery enthusiast.

6. Optimize site for search

Getting found online is essential to improving your site metrics. With no one coming to your site, you can lose leads, downloads and sales.

Try these few tips to integrate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into your site:

Document your most search valued pages
As mentioned in tip #3, know what pages have the strongest SEO status, the most traffic, the most inbound links, and the best keyword rankings. Create proper 301 redirects if you plan on moving those high-ranking pages so you don’t lose any of that value.

Create a 301 redirect strategy
Maybe the most important step in terms of retaining traffic and rankings. Create a simple spreadsheet to record and map out all your 301 redirects you want to keep.

Keyword research
For every page, pick one to three keywords that the page will focus on. Use SEO tactics such as internal links and optimizing your header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) to focus on those keywords and pepper them throughout your page.

7. Identify Calls to Action

Calls to Action, commonly referred to as CTAs, are elements on your website that drive visitors to an action, whether it’s a whitepaper download, a redirect to a landing page signup offer, or to contact sales. Your website should prompt visitors to do something that further engages them with your brand.

When planning a redesign, think about all the potential opportunities for conversion. For example:

  • Ebooks and whitepapers
  • Email newsletter subscription signup
  • Free trial
  • Product purchase
  • Contests and promotions
  • Contact us

Remember to focus on functionality over design. Make sure you have plenty of CTAs so your visitors don’t lose interest or get lost when they get to your site.

8. Don’t forget the extras!

Any website built today should include the following basics: a homepage, product pages, industry resources, and a contact us/about us page. However, going beyond the basics can really make your site shine:

Blog
A blog or “news” section is a great way to create content on an ongoing basis, as well as to converse with your customers and new prospects. Keep your topics relevant to your site, but a “fun” post about your weekend or goings-on shows you are human… just keep it PG or in line with your buyer personas.

Add RSS / Email Subscription
RSS or an email subscription signup form allows blog posts from your website to be automatically pushed out to other website and people, increasing the reach of your content.

Shareability
Add social media icons/links to all your pages. Typically, you should put these in the header or footer or both places on your website. Check out tools like ShareThis or JetPack if you are building your site on a WordPress platform.

Analytics
Insight is everything for a marketer. Use Google Analytics to gain a better picture of your website performance.

Conclusion

A successful website redesign starts well before the actual “design” even begins. It’s easy to get caught up in how the website will look and this focus overshadows how well it will work.

As a designer first, developer second, I have to constantly remind clients that content is king. Design is the castle to house that king.

Following this checklist will help you better prepare for your website redesign and have you focusing on the important building blocks that make a website redesign a success.

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B2B Marketing Blog Business Blogging Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Marketing Small Business Marketing

8 Questions to Ask an Inbound Marketing Agency Before Hiring Them

 

 

questions to ask an inbound marketing agency So you’ve decided to take your business to the next level and you are implementing an Inbound Marketing strategy; great!  When you are in the research phase of who to hire you will want to be armed with some questions, so you can hire the best agency for your needs.

8 Questions to Ask an Inbound Marketing Agency Before Hiring Them

1.  Do You Do Inbound Marketing For Yourself?

This question is a little tricky because there are plenty of professions who do great work for other people, but neglect to do it for themselves.  Think of a landscaper with an over grown lawn, or a tailor with raggity clothes.

Now with that being said, I would still prefer if an Inbound Agency was doing work for themselves and this is why;  When they are doing Inbound themselves they can clearly show you that it works.  They’ll be able to show you an increase in web traffic, downloads and leads.  I also like this question better than, “How long have you been in business?”  Just because an agency hasn’t been in business for awhile doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing.  Granted they can learn with experience, but if it’s a newer agency you may get a better price; and if they preformed exemplary for themselves they can prove that they’re on the right track.

2.  How Much Does it Cost?

Inbound Marketing is not a one-size fits all solution.  Some agencies prefer to offer “packages” that offer a set amount of services.  Other agencies will tailor their services to better fit your needs and will adjust the pricing accordingly.  The price can also change depending on what you specifically want.  Maybe social media is better for your business, but infographics are better for somebody else.  This will all change how much you are paying a month.

3.  What Type of Software Do You Use?

Almost every Inbound Marketing agency is going to use some type of software to create landing pages, CTAs, and to track visitors and leads.  We use HubSpot but there are a bunch out there.  It’s important to ask what type of software will be used because like the cost, your needs will be different.  You may want software that integrates with salesforce or PPC campaigns.

It’s also important to ask what software will be used because they vary in price.  Most likely the cost of the software will be in addition to what you pay the agency.

4.  Do You Have Any References?

This question is somewhat associated with #1, but if an agency has been around awhile, and does a good job, they should have no problem providing references.  In fact, you should check out their website and they may even have case studies or testimonials that clearly show who they’ve worked with.

5.  Who Is On Your Team?

When a lot of businesses hire an Inbound Marketing Agency they do so because they don’t have a large marketing department themselves, if any at all.  Don’t be afraid to ask who will be on the team you’re hiring and/or who you’ll be working with.  Is there a dedicated copy writer, social media person, account manager, etc?

6. How Often Will We Be In Touch?

This question is important because you don’t want to just send someone a check each month and trust that they’re doing work.  It relates to #5 in the sense that you should know who’s working on what and when.  If there’s a dedicated account manager you should be able to call or email them anytime.

In addition to open communication you should also receive progress updates.  These will most likely be monthly or quarterly, and they will highlight what happened in the previous month/quarter and what’s coming up.

7. How Long Will It Take?

I like this question a lot because an agency needs to give you an honest answer.  If they tell you a week then you need run and not look back.  Inbound Marketing is not a silver bullet and it does take time.  Now with that being said, the timing can vary.  If you blog 2x a week, publish an eBook & an infographic a month it may be quicker than if you just blogged 2x a month.  It takes time for leads to funnel through the sales cycle, and a potential client that you close may need to visit your website 3-4 times before they become a ‘qualified lead’.

8. What Is Required of Me?

Like a lot of these questions this answer will vary.  It’s important to ask because you might not want to do anything.  When you work with us it is definitely not just hiring us and staying in the background.  We prefer to know the intricacies of your business so we can target your specific buyer persona’s and do the best job possible.  We are going to require that you fill out Blueprints and that certain staff members are available for interviews.  This may not be your thing and that’s ok.  You just need to know before you sign any contracts.

When done properly Inbound Marketing can be an extremely effective marketing tool, but you are certainly right to be thorough in who you hire.  Even if an agency gets stellar results they may not be right for you because of price or the size of their organization.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions when investing in an Inbound Marketing plan.

 

 

 

 

 

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Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Marketing sales

Defy your Summer Sales Slump!

Inbound Marketing SalesThere isn’t a single person I know who enjoys being in the midst of a slump. Slumps can cause you to question yourself on a fundamental level and that never feels good.

There is, however, an upside. If a slump is used as a tool rather than an excuse, you can climb to the other side of the slump in a better position than when it began. If you’re willing to use your slump as an opportunity rather than a hurdle, the following tips can get you to the promised land.

Do more.

Sales is a numbers game. It always has been and it always will be. This then begs the question, how many sales calls are you making per day or week? Double them. It is very, very rare that sales will dry up completely. Keep calling until you’ve set 5 appointments. Search LinkedIn groups for prospects. Revisit your buyer persona and rewrite your pitch.

Try a new approach.

The simple act of changing your perspective, and this holds true in all areas of life, can be revelatory. It can uncover leads or prospects you hadn’t considered. Maybe the market has changed and you need to present your marketing material in another way.

Revisiting your prospecting is another way to try a new approach. We rely heavily on inbound marketing lead generation, but when you’ve hit a sales slump, inbound leads may not be enough. My go-to prospecting ace in the hole is finding a cluster of businesses. Since we pursue B2B leads, I check out the directories at office parks. Most office parks and shopping centers have a website with the directory listed. If you filter through those businesses, you can usually find some solid prospects.

Reach out to existing happy customers.

Check in with them to make sure they’re happy with the solution you’ve sold them. See if there’s anything you can do to make them even happier. At the end of the day, businesses are made of people and they like to know you’re thinking of them. Don’t try to upsell them, just check on their current status. If they need more, then sell them more… but don’t force it.

If they’re already happy and satisfied with their current level of service, ask for a referral. You have a high chance of getting one, and referrals close at a much better rate too. If they don’t have anyone to refer, write a case study about their experience with your service or product. A positive case study is akin to a supercharged testimonial and can be a very powerful closing tool.

Automate competitive research.

Though no one likes to admit it, a sales slump may be caused by a direct competitor. There will always be someone trying to build a better mousetrap. One of our clients was very proactive when they discovered that a major international competitor of theirs was going to be in the same area. While they successfully avoided a sales slump, they could have very easily fallen into a substantial sales abyss had they not been mindful of new competitors. Even if there aren’t any brand new competitors, your existing competitors may have improved their marketing efforts, thus eating into your market share.

Another possibility is that a new product that directly competes with your solution has just been introduced to the market. An example of this is the phone book. Once the internet appeared and offered several robust search engines and capabilities, the phone book needed to make drastic changes or suffer the consequences. Though they have since diversified and offer new marketing opportunities, they’ve never really recovered from the impact of the internet.

There are ways to keep up with what activities your competitors are doing. You can enjoy deep understanding of their social media progress and engagement by using a tool like Rival IQ or Klout. Noticing significant changes in your competitors’ strategies and successes can provide a heads up that you might need to make some changes in your approach and in your efforts.

Keep an eye on your sales funnel.

The sales roller coaster is not for the faint of heart. My former boss used to say, “When you close a big sale, give yourself 15 minutes to celebrate and congratulate. Then it is back to work.” He was right then and he’s still right. Many times sales slumps come from previous success. When you are delivering one sale after another it takes time to make sure that everything goes smoothly. This can take the focus away from what got you those opportunities in the first place – leads and business development activity. Depending on your industry, sales cycles can run from a few weeks to many months. When you place your focus on closing current deals, you are not spending time on prospecting and moving fresh leads further into your sales funnel.

To keep the process moving and the funnel funneling, you’ll want to employ some modern software. My favorite prospecting and sales funnel tool is PipeDrive. The interface is a sales person’s dream. It provides enough analysis to satisfy a picky Sales Manager and is easy enough for even rookie sales people.

By identifying the overall funnel activity of the sales team, you are able to identify potential slowdowns and put actions in place to improve your processes. This type of information can make the difference between identifying problems early and alleviating them or identifying them too late and missing your sales goals for the year.

Re-qualify your prospects.

Social media, well done SEO, blogging, and targeted marketing can drive an increased number of “leads” into your sales funnel. That is a good thing.

A slump can come from a drop in leads or sales in the funnel, but it can also come from a lack of perception. Leads that have not been rigorously qualified can lead to wasted sales time. Leads that did not acquiesce the first time around may be in a better position to hear more about your product or service. This particular tip has a 2-fold process. Just because a prospect registered to download one of your company’s eBooks or attended one of your webinars does not automatically translate to a prospect worthy of your time. Do some further investigative research to see if this prospect is a good fit. On the flip side, prospects who are flirting with content on your site may be a perfect fit and this is an opportunity to provide them with case studies about your product or service. There is no magic formula, but there is an intangible sense that a sales person can get. It is important to trust your gut and learn to hone your poker skills.

If you’re not sure about your ability to discern truly qualified prospects or when to reach out, there are tools like Enkata that can help define the risk in your prospects and forecasting. By using a tool like Enkata, you can avoid wasting time with leads that may be adding to your slump and depleting your efforts.

Don’t Abandon Your Process.

Though I’m a firm believer in changing your vantage point to offer a fresh perspective, abandoning your process can unintentionally sabotage your sales. Don’t stop prospecting. Continue to follow up and provide value to your prospects. Continue to learn more about how your product or service can benefit your customers. Stay positive and proactive.

A Note to Sales Managers!

I’ve worked in many sales environments and a deficit in sales causes a strange phenomenon. Tension is exponentially increased and the climate of the sales floor is viciously competitive, not collaborative. It is a lot like watching the nature channel. What’s worse is that many sales managers try to protect their interests by micro-managing the day to day processes of the sales team. This ‘save the day’ mentality breeds an environment of ‘learned helplessness’. Most effective sales people are better with a level of autonomy.

A far more effective method in pulling a team out of the slump is to simply stop pulling. It is vital to treat sales professionals like professionals. Empower them with the ability to make a deal within appropriate parameters, be accountable for their own progress, and make mistakes. Experience is the greatest mentor and it never micro-manages.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely mid slump or nervous that one is coming. Don’t panic. This too shall pass. Employ the methods I’ve mentioned and you will get through it.

Inbound Marketing Sales

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” -Hank Aaron

 

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Blog Business Blogging Calls To Action Content Marketing Email Marketing Graphic Design How We Can Help Inbound Marketing Landing Pages Lead Generation

6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Landing Pages

 

 

landing page improvementLanding pages are the hub of all inbound lead generation efforts. Every campaign that you run and every funnel offer that you create should be tied back to a landing page.

With so much effort focused on driving traffic to landing pages, you want to make sure your design reflects those same efforts, while effectively attracting and converting your targeted traffic into qualified leads

1. Single Focus Messaging

Identify a pain point or single compelling reason to attract the prospect. Reiterate this message on your landing page. Address benefits or problem solving points within your content that are in line with your offer.

*Note: The messaging should be consistent throughout the conversion process. This includes your calls to action in blog posts and/or PPC ads. Accurate descriptions help build trust, avoid user annoyance, and improve your qualified leads.

2. Responsiveness

You want people to be able to fill out your landing page form no matter what device they use. A non-responsive page that makes your user scroll and wince and pull out their hair just to try to fill out a form won’t fly. So make sure your landing page layout is responsive. This will give easy access to your page on any browser and any device. If your marketing software (or designer) already has this in place, it’s still best to double check that it’s working before you go live.

3. Remove the Navigation

Unlike other pages on your website that are designed to be more informative, landing pages are completely conversion focused. For this reason, you should remove any navigation from your landing page in order to keep the viewers’ attention focused on exactly what you want them to do – fill out your form to access your exclusive content.

4. Reduce Required Form Fields

Speaking of forms, who likes filling these things out anyway?

In general, if you want more leads, try fewer required fields on your landing page forms. Looking for more qualified leads? Ask for more information – this will help weed out some of the people who are just checking out your content for informational purposes.

5. A/B Test Your Landing Pages

Every landing page has different goals, each funnel offer has a different perceived value, and every business is attracting different buyers. Testing is the only way to identify what works best for your specific case.

Using a simple A/B test, you can segment your traffic to find out which landing page receives a higher conversion rate. Try using different headlines or alternate colors. Explore forms with more required form fields or with less copy.

A/B testing rules because you can test and optimize everything about your webpage until you receive the response rate you are looking for. There’s no universal answer to what works best, so testing can ensure your landing page is the best it can be.

*Note: A/B testing a single site design has a glass ceiling – at some point your design will reach its maximum conversion, yet it’s possible a completely different design may capture better rates. Once more, test and test again.

6. Thank-you page & walk through

Last, but certainly not least, make sure the entire conversion process is functional. After people fill out your form, are they really taken to the thank-you page? Do they really get a kickback email? Make sure this is all working properly so you don’t put your contacts through the frustration of filling out a non-working form.

Conclusion

Although it’s just one page of your website, leaving out certain elements could cause you to lose out on valuable conversions. Using the above tips will not only improve your conversion rates but will increase how much your target audience trusts you and will make the conversion process all that much smoother for your potential customers.

 

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Blog Business Blogging Buyer Personas Calls To Action Content Marketing General Inbound Marketing Landing Pages Lead Generation Marketing Small Business Marketing

The Do’s & Dont’s of an Effective Inbound Marketing Campaign

 

 

effective inbound marketing

A well designed and executed Inbound Marketing campaign can help open up the flood gates to new leads.  You will start to see your traffic go up, qualified leads will come in and you’ll get more business.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  As you may have guessed it takes a lot more than that behind the scenes, but the good news is it’s not impossible and just about any one can do it with the right direction.  A well designed and executed Inbound Marketing campaign doesn’t happen over night but there are many best practices to follow so you’re not wasting your time and energy.

The Do’s & Don’ts of an Effective Inbound Marketing Campaign

What to Do

Develop Buyer Persona’s

One of the first things you need to do is develop buyer persona’s.  This goes a lot further in depth than just “middle aged men” or “stay at home moms”.  You need to have precise details of the people you’re trying to sell to.  If you don’t know who they are how can you possibly target them?  You can read more about buyer persona’s on our blog and be sure to check out HubSpot, one of the leaders in helping develop them.

Perform Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of Inbound Marketing and too often it goes ignored.  If you have buyer persona’s and you are going to start attracting them through blogging, eBooks, whitepapers, etc, keyword research can really start you off in the right direction.  You can use different tools to literally find out exactly what your customers are searching for or what they want answers to.

Blog Consistently

Once you have a clear definition of your buyer persona’s and certain keywords to target, one of the best ways to attract them is through blogging.  Blog with a goal in mind, and use it as a tool to attract qualified leads and to make sales.  This is not a one time thing! It will take a consistent blog schedule and maybe a few people on your staff.  We recommend to blog at least 2x a week, but the more the better.  What blogging can do for your business is astonishing and there’s stats to back it up.

What Not To Do

Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good

I stole this line from Brian and Trish who use it often but it’s true.  Too many times businesses want everything to be perfect, and of course it can’t, so what do they do? Nothing!  This is probably more commonly known as ‘paralysis by analysis’, but it doesn’t matter what you want to call it.  Don’t let it happen to you.

Don’t Get it Right Get It Written

This is one of my favorite sayings and I don’t want you to take it the wrong way.  Of course you want to produce quality, though provoking, industry leading type content but it may not happen in the first draft.  That’s what editing is for.  If you’re having trouble with an opening paragraph (which many of us do) move onto the meat of the blog post and go back later.  Don’t just sit there and stare at the screen trying to write the perfect sentence.

No More Half Measures

no more half measuresYou may have noticed that I took that last header from Mike Ehrmantraut, a character on one of the greatest TV shows of all time, Breaking Bad.  Now granted, Mike was talking about drugs, wife beaters and renegade cops, but nonetheless there’s a lesson in there. If you’re going to do something why not do it right?  No more half measures!

Take the time to produce quality content; split test landing pages and CTAs; perform keyword research; develop buyer persona’s; blog consistently; design an effective website.

All of this will not happen overnight and it doesn’t all have to happen at once, but the more thorough you are in the design and execution of your campaign, the more successful you will have.

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Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Marketing

The Best B2B Inbound Marketing Methodology

 

 

GB Blog Featured Image“We’d love to blog but we just don’t have the time.”

“We tried social media but it didn’t lead to any sales.”

“We’d do content marketing but we don’t know what to write about.”

At GoBeyond SEO, we’ve heard all the excuses. Heck, we’ve even used them ourselves sometimes. But believe me when I tell you that this 6 step B2B inbound marketing methodology will transform your business:

  1. Define your campaign target
  2. Set campaign goals and benchmarks
  3. Create High Value offers – 1 each for the top, middle and bottom of the funnel
  4. Address common sales questions and objections
  5. Leverage other offers to nurture your leads closer to a sale
  6. Win the business & their love!

Let’s take a deeper look into each one of these steps so you can finally ditch the excuses and get some results!

The Definitive 6 Step B2B Inbound Marketing Methodology

Step 1 – Define Your Campaign Target

In a recent conversation in the Inbound Marketing Group on LinkedIn, Jan Nathanson asked, “In your opinion what is the number one reason marketing campaigns fail or succeed?”

There were lots of great responses including the inability to make adjustments, can’t gain the trust of prospects, and no follow up.

While I agree that all of these things will derail a marketing campaign I left this response:

b2b marketing methodology

It’s gotten to the point that I am like a broken record around the office – “Let’s begin with the end in mind.”

Don’t get caught up in “creative” ways to be promotional or how to shoot the next viral video. Don’t even set up an Adwords campaign without first defining your goals and knowing what success will look like.

It has to start with knowing your target buyer for your campaign. Once you know who you are targeting, then you can begin to uncover her needs, wants, fears and desires. Without this information you will have no idea what kind of marketing content to produce.

And a campaign with-out a target, doesn’t go anywhere.

Step 2 – Set campaign goals and benchmarks

There is no way to determine the success of a marketing campaign without first establishing the definition of success. And “increasing revenue” or “leading to sales” is not a legitimate campaign goal.

You have to be SMART about your marketing campaign goals.

If you are putting together a campaign to promote your bookkeeping service and you generate sales of your business valuation service – was your marketing successful? I doubt it.

Your campaign goals should be specific, measurable and time sensitive.

In fact, the smart guys at Inbound Marketing Agency GuavaBox (who created the Inbound project management App, DoInbound), require all campaigns to have 3 elements:

  • A starte date
  • An end date
  • And a specific goal

Some good examples of SMART goals are:

  • Generate 500 new website leads in 3 months
  • Close 2 new customers in 45 days
  • Increase online lead generation by 5% every month, for 1 year.

Having these specific goals in the front of your mind, along with the avatar of your ideal buyer (created in step 1), will save your B2B inbound marketing campaign from getting derailed as you move closer to execution.

Step 3 – Create 3 High Value Offers

This is where the rubber really meets the road in this B2B inbound marketing methodology. Now that you know your target and your goals, you need to start creating content that moves your ideal buyer through your funnel.

Each visitor to your website can be classified into 3 main types –

  1. Top of the Funnel
  2. Middle of the Funnel
  3. Bottom of the Funnel

Most of your visitors will be in the top of the funnel. They are searching the internet looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. The need information!

You need to provide it or risk losing that visitor forever.

There are 2 main sources of top of the funnel content in your B2B inbound campaign. An informational e-book and your blog posts.

Here is the bad news – You need to create this content
Here is the good news – Create a great e-book and then use the information inside it as your blog posts

This is how you get leverage in your content marketing – repurpose and re-use everything you can.

Pro Tip: We understand that writing an ebook isn’t an easy process. If you can’t write it on your own, hire someone to write it for you. If you’re on a budget, get a journalism student to interview you, do some research and write the book. You can even email me for the outline our writers use to construct a top of the funnel e-book – trust me, it’s worth every penny!)

Once you are attracting visitors to your site with your informational content and converting them into leads with you e-book – you are going to need to nurture those leads to a sale.

This is where your other offers come in.

Step 4 – Address common sales questions and objections

Your sales team knows how to sell.

But does your website?

Any salesperson worth her salt knows that you have to overcome objections in order to get the sale. It’s a rare sale indeed when you just make your pitch and the prospect says – o.k., sign me up.

Prospects have questions. And as you answer their questions, they come up with more questions and objections.

It’s your job to answer their questions and objections. The best way to do this is to have your sales team write out all the questions and objections they typically get and then answer them.

Set up your answers in a drip e-mail sequence so that while your nurturing leads down your sales funnel, you are also overcoming providing every answer they need to pull the trigger and buy from you.

It is only when there are no questions or objections left that the sale can be made. Your best salespeople know this. Know it is time for website to learn it too.

Step 5 – Leverage Other Offers to Move Leads Down Your Funnel

You’ve gotten them to your website.
They downloaded a top of the funnel piece of content.
You are emailing them answers to their questions before they even ask them.

What else do you need to do?

You need to guide them down your funnel, closer to the point of acquisition.

How do you do that?

You make more down funnel offers while your answering their questions. Here is a potential workflow for a top of funnel lead:

  1. Downloaded Content & became a top of funnel lead
  2. Immediate follow up email to make sure they received content
  3. 3 Days later – Email to see if they have questions about content
  4. 5 days later – Email addressing a common sales questions AND making a a down funnel offer
  5. 5A – If they download the new offer you can move them to another workflow addressing objections and offering bottom of funnel offers
  6. 5B – If they don’t move down the funnel, keep sending them emails answering questions and making down funnel offers

You can have lots of fun with these workflows once you start to use them. The above 5 steps are a basic plan for moving prospects down your sales funnel.

Step 6 – Win the business & their love

If you’ve executed the above 5 steps, by the time you actually speak to the prospect, most of the selling will have been done for you.

They’ve read your content and like what you have to offer.
They’ve clicked your emails and engaged with your message.
You’ve answered their questions and overcome their objections.

You’re going to love it the first time a prospect calls you because they’ve been nurtured all the way from information qualified to sales qualified and are ready to buy.

It’s a happy day indeed when you turn your website into your best salesperson.

Move Your Off Line Sales Process Online

The B2B inbound marketing methodology we just outlined moves your offline sales process, online and onto your website.

Instead of having an electronic brochure for a website, we transform your site into a lead generating machine, and then nurture those leads through your sales funnel to the point of sale.

You know this process works because you already do it offline.

What benefits will you see when your website is able to generate and nurture leads?

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Categories
Blog Business Blogging Calls To Action Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Small Business Marketing

5 Most Important Things to Do Before You Publish a Blog Post

blog post checklistMore businesses are starting to use blogging as a sales and marketing tool.  If you have read our blog you know how we feel about blogging for business & leads, as well as part of an inbound marketing strategy.

If you have started to blog that’s awesome, but there are a lot of things you need to do before you publish a blog post.  Here’s the:

5 Most Important Things To Do Before Publishing a Blog Post

Edit, Edit, Edit

I’m starting with this one first because it is something I need to do more of and it’s also something I see all the time.  Of course you’ll edit for spelling & grammar, but something that’s often forgotten is syntax.  When writing a blog post think of yourself as Ernest Hemingway.  The less words the better! Get to the point!

Avoid phrases like “looking to discover”, “If I’m being honest” and “in my opinion”.  You are writing the article, of course it’s ‘in your opinion’.  There are some great tips in this post but be sure to follow their advice on #4 and give it the chop.    Spelling and grammar are important, but editing can go a little deeper.

Check Meta-Data

The meta-data is the SEO aspect of your blog post, and it’ll help your blog post get found.  If you write a great post but no one  reads it, did it really happen?  Write a blog post centered around a keyword and plug that keyword in the right spots.  The crucial spots for the keyword are:

  • Title
  • URL
  • Alt-Image Tag
  • Meta-description
  • Title Tag
  • Header Tag

And obviously if you are going to insert your keyword into these different areas, make sure you have these areas (headers and images) in your post.  Headers are great for SEO benefits, but they also make the post easier to read.  They provide whitespace and allow the reader to skim.  Pictures also help add a little flavor to a post.

Insert a Call-To-Action

Every blog post needs to encourage the reader to do something either throughout the post, or at the end.  At the end of this post I want you to be so intrigued that you’re going to want to download the checklist.

Add Links

A general rule I like to follow is that every blog post should have at least one internal link and one external.  The internal link can essentially link to any page.  I personally like to link to offers on the website, and other relevant blog posts that expand on what I’m saying.  (The external link above doesn’t have much to do with this topic, but I’m psyched for the US soccer match later. I also previously linked in the Edit section.  Be sure to link to relevant sites.)

Assign Authorship

At the end of this post you’ll see an awesome picture of me with a little bio.  It’s crucial to assign authorship to the post in business blogging where there’s a lot of different authors.  Assigning authorship gives credit where it is due, and if it’s connected to G+ it has a better chance of showing up in the search ranks and getting clicked.  It may even have your pic (depending on the latest Google changes).  No matter what Google feels like doing that day shouldn’t matter.  Assigning authorship can help your readers identify with you.  They see a real person and they are more interested in what you have to say, or what you’re selling.

A lot goes into a blog post.  A lot more than just sitting down and writing.  There are tons of things to do before you publish a blog post, but these are the 5 most important (and meta-data is really more like 5 or 6 on its own).  These tips will help establish authority, have it read well, help get it found and they’ll turn leads into customers.

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Categories
Content Marketing Inbound Marketing

8 Ways to Repurpose Blog Posts

 repurpose inbound marketing

Anyone who actively writes a blog . . . ahem . . . like me or creates content as part of an inbound marketing strategy, can tell you that it is time consuming.  While I do love talking to people about marketing and explaining the benefits of inbound marketing, it is a best practice to repurpose your content.  In addition to the SEO benefits, it’s a great way to save time and avoid double work.  Some of the tips outlined in this post can be used together or alone, but all of them will help you stretch all of your inbound marketing efforts.

SlideShare Presentation

SlideShare is a great way to repurpose a blog post.  Any educator with experience will tell you that not all people ingest information in the same way.  SlideShare is a way to reach your more visual learners and impatient learners as well.  With SlideShare, you have the ability to have visual aids as well as some brief explanation.  SlideShare is also highly shareable and can be less intimidating to people who are not “tech savvy.”

Infographics

Few things can make complex or new topics more approachable than a well-crafted infographic.  An information graphic, or infographic, is a graphic representation of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.  They double as a great branding tool.  See a fun example below from Marketing Profs:

social-media-infographic

 

Well laid out, explains the message clearly, and offers visual interest.  Well done and approachable.

Instructographics

Instructographics are a close relative to the infographic.  As the name would indicate, instructographics are more instructional as opposed to just informational.  It can be a “how-to” with pictures and often a step by step tutorial.

Here’s an example of one of our earlier instructographics (circa 2012). Please note the use of Bill Murray.  There may not be a specific SEO benefit to using an image of Bill Murray, but he’s awesome and makes people happy.

SEO-Strategy-Instructographic

Podcasts and Video

Just like the infographic, instructographic, and SlideShare, podcasts offer your audience another way to engage with your information.  For many, reading is tedious and too time consuming.  In this sense, podcasts and videos could be one of the most important repurposing methods because they open up a whole new way to connect with others.  Expanding your audience, simply by presenting the same info in a new way, is a great way to stretch your content.

To take the repurposing to the next level, don’t just put your post in an audio file.  Use the information to encourage further discussion.  Pose some of your points as questions or suggestions for your audience.  You can increase engagement and lead to more sales.  You can also reference previous posts or podcasts to make a case for your topic.

Write a speech

I’ve been asked to speak at several events.  Some events are small and intimate; other events are for larger groups.  When you have a wealth of content to illustrate your topic, you are afforded several mediums to engage your audience.  Most speakers, myself included, are not engaging enough to stand on stage for 30-60 minutes and hold an audience’s attention.  The use of visual aids or some audio support can keep your speech progressing and make for a successful event.  When you have infographics, a SlideShare presentation and a podcast to draw from, you’ll certainly have enough to keep a speech entertaining.

Turns Your Posts into Twitter Tips

Several of our posts, including this one, offer information in bite size pieces.  “10 ways to XYZ” or “4 tips to improve ABC” are titles that are often used for blog posts.  An interesting way to both repurpose your blogs and expand your audience is to split those tips and post them on Twitter.  140 characters may not seem like a lot of space, but offering tips one at a time will keep your followers engaged and your tweets interesting and valuable.

Sales training

A good sales person knows that he or she must display the benefits of using the product or service he or she is selling.  Blog posts are a great way to offer up valuable information without being overly technical.  When training a new sales team or arming a seasoned sales professional with tools to help make a close, having a wealth of blog posts about your product or service is a great way to create a sales manual or a series of “one-sheets” as they were called back in the day.

Toolkit/ebook: The Crown Jewel of Inbound Marketing

This is one of my favorite ways to use blog posts.  It is the crux of inbound marketing and is truly where the rubber meets the road from a lead generation perspective.  If you find that certain blog topics are gaining a lot of traction, you can write an ebook or craft a toolkit on that topic and explain your products or services in more detail.  To make this method work harder for you, have the ebook or toolkit available as a download.  If a prospect or lead is truly interested in that information, they may be willing to trade their email address for the ebook.  You now have their permission to market to them more directly.

Efficiency is the anthem of the digital age.  The revolution is in full force.  It’s not the hours you work, but the work in your hours.  Delivering information in several formats is not only efficient; it is effective.

“Progress isn’t made by early risers.  It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”
Robert A. Heinlein

 

Categories
Blog Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Small Business Marketing

Using Keyword Research for Lead Generation

 

 

lead generationKeyword (KW) research is a buzzword that is most often associated with SEO. When you know what types of words and terms people are searching Google for, you can then use the keyword research for things like on-page SEO. Internet marketers also use keyword research in their link-building and ranking strategies.

It makes perfect sense! Find what people are searching for, make the appropriate changes to your website to let the search engines know what your site is about, and then rank for these terms. It’s pretty basic SEO.

Keyword Research for Lead Generation

KW research can also be used in your lead generation strategy. The best part about it is that it doesn’t require any additional work. You were going to do KW research anyway. Now all you have to do is dig a little deeper.

When I perform keyword research for a website I use different pieces of software but I also use Google Keyword Tool (or whatever they’re calling it today). In this blog post I will demonstrate using the GKT, which anyone with a Google account can access.

Google Keyword Tool

The first thing you’ll want to do is sign into AdWords. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have start or pay for a PPC campaign in order to access the tool. After you log in, click Tools at the top and select Keyword Planner.

keywrod research

Next, click the first option, ‘search for new keyword and ad group ideas.’ In this example I entered ‘inbound marketing,’ clicked enter, and got this result.

keywords and leads

Now we have almost everything you can possibly think of that is associated with ‘inbound marketing’ in these results. In AdWords Google calls them an ‘ad group,’ but for our purposes these will be where we generate leads.

When you click on the first group, ‘marketing company,’ you’ll see terms like ‘inbound marketing strategy’ and ‘inbound marketing strategies.’

(The avg. monthly searches are how many times it is being searched for in Google, and the competition is for PPC bids. Don’t let high competition sway you from picking certain terms. The competition would mean more if you were going to run a PPC campaign and wanted to bid and pay for certain terms.)

These are two solid terms that we’ll use for lead generation, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

google keyword tool

As I go through some of the other groups I look for terms that are phrased as questions, like ‘What is inbound marketing?’ I also look for certain words; for instance I like it when terms have ‘ideas,’ ‘plan’ or ‘strategy.’ These certain types of words tell me that people are looking for ways to execute. People are also typing in the questions because they obviously want answers.

Lead Generation

Blogging, eBooks & Infographics for Lead Generation

Now you may be asking yourself, ‘Great, but what does this have to do with leads?’ Well, a solid inbound marketing campaign uses its website and blog as lead generation tools. By now you should be blogging but you may be running out of ideas. The results that the GKT generate are a perfect way to come up with blog topics that your customers actually want answers to. After typing in ‘inbound marketing’ I now know that I should write a blog post titled ‘What is Inbound Marketing.’

If you want to take it a step further, you can make a really cool infographic about inbound marketing, and if you feel there is enough, or too much for one blog post, you can turn that one question into an eBook. You can even do both.

Let’s say someone is searching the Internet, and they type in ‘What is inbound marketing’ and find my blog post because it is in-depth and useful. They read through my blog post, love what I have to say, and subscribe to my blog.

They are now a very solid lead. They found my website, liked it enough to read through it, and subscribed to my blog. I have information that they are looking for. I am becoming a trusted resource for this person, and they are becoming a solid lead.

CTAs & eBooks for Lead Gen

We can take the last example one step further. They finish reading my blog post and love it (obviously), but this time at the bottom is a CTA (call to action). I had a graphic designer make a cool looking CTA that says, ‘What is Inbound Marketing? Download the guide to get access to effective Inbound Marketing Strategies.’

See what I did there? For the CTA and the eBook I used two of the terms that I found using the GKT. Now they love my post and download the guide, I get their email, and they get entered into my lead generation funnel.

Having great blog posts, eBooks, CTAs, landing pages, etc. doesn’t mean much if people aren’t typing in the terms that you are targeting. If they can’t find it, how will they ever know how great it is? You must use keyword research properly in order to target the right prospects.

Keyword research has to be taken a step further and be used in an effective inbound marketing campaign. No longer can it just be used for on-page SEO and link-building purposes. While it’s still important for header and title tags, as well as meta descriptions, why not truly use it to full capacity? You were going to use the GKT to do research anyway. It’s also great because if you want to stick to a consistent schedule of publishing blog posts 2x a week, you are going to need some ideas. Why not write useful content that is being searched and get some leads out of it?

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Categories
Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Marketing Social Media Marketing

6 Cool Places to Share Your Content Marketing

Content Marketing
Sharing is caring. Everyone knows that.

As an active follower of our blog or any blog that speaks to inbound marketing and content creation, you are aware of the need to produce and share high value content. It is the cornerstone of our vision for marketing your website and your business. Without high value content that serves the needs of your clients and prospects, you stand to lose market share in a fast growing space.

So, you’ve taken the advice of so many experts and have been actively producing high value content. You share your blog posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and maybe even Facebook.

Now what? Is that it? Do you share it there and hope that enough people see it, value it, and share it as well? That happens every day. If you want to expand your digital footprint beyond the basics, keep reading this post for more places to share your content.

SlideShare

This is one of my favorite places to share content. Since content marketing comes in so many frms (blog posts, infographics, ebooks), I like having a few places to share content that are different than the big three. Here is a PowerPoint on social media I used when I spoke to the femfessionals Charlotte group last September. Three things make SlideShare a great source for original content:

  • SlideShare can generate tons of referral traffic – from the link on your business channel to the links embedded in the document itself or the descriptor box below it. Our company got started doing SEO exclusively. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the SEO benefits as well. SlideShare auto-transcribes your entire document and puts the text just underneath it. That’s keyword optimization for dummies right there!
  • Infuse SlideShare into your content marketing strategy to help publish and promote the content that you’re already sharing via ebooks, blog posts, and downloadable content, just as I did with the femfessionals document I mentioned. It has since received 300 views and directed more traffic – and new leads!
  • Always be measuring. LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Pinterest shares and document views; SlideShare likes, comments, and embed totals; plus you can gauge your influence by the new followers and number of downloads your content is receiving. With proper tracking software, you can also determine how much traffic is coming to your site through the content you share on SlideShare.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn is a great tool in any business owner’s toolbox. To take your LinkedIn usage to the next level, you’ll want to look into LinkedIn Groups as another hidden gem for sharing content.

The best option with LinkedIn groups is to test out which groups work best for you and post only to those groups. When you post, make sure to try to generate conversation as opposed to just providing a link to your content. You have to be careful when sending your content to multiple LinkedIn groups. If you just leave a link behind, you’re not going to get much benefit. The key is to not dilute your efforts by being in every group, but rather spending quality time in the best groups for your business.

 Reddit

I’m not trying to make my hipster friends cringe, but Reddit may just be a bit mainstream. #Sorrynotsorry.

Reddit helps identify a wealth of valuable content as discovered and voted on by its deep user base. While the user interface is a little sloppy, http://www.reddit.com/r/SmallBusiness is a good place to share valuable B2B content and also learn a thing or two as well.

Specialized subreddits focus on a single topic and can be an ideal place to share your fresh, hot-off-the-press content. If your business is more B2C, there is a robust list of subreddits that covers just about any topic you could imagine.

Content Marketing Beyond Twitter: Twitter Lists

Many Twitter power players rely on lists to manage their huge stream of tweets. Lists are an ideal, minimal way to focus on a smaller number of voices, which is perfect for niche-y content marketing. A common practice is to set up a list around a topic (e.g., startups, design) or a group of people (e.g., influencers, coworkers).

Here are a few handy ones to get started:

Not unlike LinkedIn, the power doesn’t just exist in using the medium, but getting to know where the hotspots are and diving deep. The content is generally perceived as more “expert” and more valued.

Triberr

Since you’re actively blogging (you know you should be), Triberr can be another feather in your cap. Triberr is a community of bloggers that share one another’s content.

A tribe is a group of people with content around a similar area who get to know and trust your content. If you join the right tribes you can easily find great content but also get your great content shared out. You can set Triberr up so that content is automatically picked up and posted to Triberr from your RSS feed.

Though Triberr doesn’t have the same recognition as LinkedIn, to find people who are actively searching for your content and trust your content inherently, Triberr can be a small but highly effective tool to help build an audience and get leads.

Email is still the Darling of Content Marketing

According to mobile publishing platform Rumble’s Q1 engagement study, users overwhelmingly prefer sharing articles via email compared to Facebook and Twitter. With the rise in mobile traffic to news sites, publishers are recognizing that the mobile audience and the social audience are increasingly one and the same.The study looked at over 100,000 users across multiple publishers, and found that 76 percent of all articles shared were through email. The percentage was even higher if the email contained a video.

At this point, you’re saying, “Trish, everyone knows to share content via email. This is not something we haven’t considered.” True. There is a fact I came across that is especially interesting when sharing content. This study also pointed out that while many mediums share stories and other content, a large percentage of it is not shared. I repeat, not shared.

A catchy headline may grab your reader for the click, but it’s the content that gets shared. Sharing something is an endorsement of the content. The lesson in this is that you’re better off sharing high value content to a smaller, more niche based list than sharing your content to everyone in your reach.

Your email list and your content marketing will become your workhorses if you follow a few of these tips going forward:

  • Segment your list; by business type, leads, or some other qualifier. BONUS: Build templates for your lists and save time.
  • Offer valuable content that is easy to read and, when possible, has a call to action.
  • Don’t sell to them. Show them the benefits you offer within your expertise and through your wealth of knowledge and resources, and make that knowledge and those resources available to them.

Content marketing is both highly effective and measurable. To stretch your content as far as it can go, use some of these tips to expand and deepen your reach. One of these sources may help you reach those elusive sales goals and increase your bottom line. What’s more, content will live for a long time on the internet. Strong content marketing can be called upon for years to come. This beats a 30-second spot on the radio any day of the week.