blog

Your email:

Inbound Unwound - Marketing Insights

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

How Long Do I Have To Wait For Inbound Marketing To Generate Leads?

  
  
  
  

Inbound Marketing LeadsEvery now and then, I like to dedicate a blog post to the questions we receive from both clients and prospects.

This particular question came up during a team meeting regarding a client that is on its third engagement with us and seeing remarkable results. My comment was, “Every client sees amazing results if they stay the course and run the program like we designed it.”

The challenge is that many clients become impatient with inbound marketing and bail out on the program before they even get a chance to gain traction and start delivering leads. So the question remains: How long does it take for inbound marketing to start generating leads?

The answer isn’t as easy as you might think.

Company To Company

Every company is slightly different, and these differences impact a program's capacity for lead generation. Some companies make decisions quickly and autonomously, which enables us to respond efficiently, post content proactively and generate results more quickly. Some companies are more progressive with messaging and allow us to differentiate their business more aggressively, which, in turn, helps them stand out and generate more leads.

Industry To Industry

Every industry is slightly different, and again, these differences impact the program's ability to generate leads. In industries that publish a lot of content (very few fit into this category), it takes longer to gain traction with the content we create for clients. In highly technical industries, it may take longer to find the sweet spot with messaging and content. But the beauty of inbound marketing is that everything is measurable, so in any case, the program self-optimizes over time.

Person To Person

Every person we work with is a little different. Some clients are extremely trusting and allow us to work our magic. Others require more handholding and education. Both bring pluses and minuses, but the differences impact program performance. The more often our clients allow us to run with the ball, the more quickly we are able to deliver leads for them.

Program Tactics

Not every single inbound marketing program is identical. We co-create every program for each client based on their goals, but sometimes budget and other issues require us to remove key tactics from our recommendations. There are times when clients are not able to execute elements of the inbound marketing program that fall on them, and this impacts results.

Tracking And Testing

Finally, one of the secrets to inbound marketing performance is utilizing data, analysis and optimization to see what’s working and what’s not. You have to look at performance daily, weekly and monthly. And you must be making adjustments during each month to ensure positive results month over month. This is an integral part of what we do throughout our inbound marketing engagement, and it's one of the elements clients often fail to plan for when running these programs on their own.

So, after all that posturing, what’s the answer?

We have been executing inbound marketing programs for hundreds of clients over the past ten years, and based on our experience, research and data, we’ve found that initial inbound marketing results are able to be delivered in about three months from going live with a new highly optimized inbound marketing website. Now, the traction and upward trajectory of those leads depend on two variables: blogging and content creation. For programs that include blogging multiple times per week and content creation monthly, website visitors and leads generated typically reach 2x and 3x the results around the six-month mark.

However, the exciting numbers aren’t what you get at the six-month mark. What you should be thinking about is how the program is going to look at the 12-month mark, the 18-month mark and the 24-month mark. This is because inbound marketing programs retain their upward trajectory month over month, continually building on the success of the previous month.

The most successful programs have generated 10x the leads and even better results with website traffic. Companies that had been getting hundreds of visitors are now getting tens of thousands of visitors. The results accelerate over time if the program is actively managed and optimized by an inbound marketing agency that knows how to do this type of work.

Start Today Tip - Don’t give up too early: Stay the course. Even if your program is underperforming, take the time to understand why. Don't throw your hands in the air and give up. What are you going to do ... go back to traditional advertising? This is how you want to market your company. This is how you're going to market your company next year, in five years and in 10 years. Get good at it today, so you get the leads you need tomorrow.

Using Inbound Marketing To Generate More Leads Today  

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolutions!

Inbound Marketing's Lead Nurturing Ensures You Never Forget To Follow Up

  
  
  
  

Lead Nurturing CampaignsDoes the following scenario sound familiar? You go to a trade show, where you and your sales reps get a handful of business cards. When you get back to the office, the cards end up on the rep’s desk. Maybe the rep calls a couple of the people, but most are just forgotten.

How about this one? You want your sales team to be more proactive with your prospects, emailing them interesting articles or sharing industry news, and maybe even promoting some of your new blog content or actually inviting prospects to your webinars.

How effective are your sales people with that type of follow-up? It’s okay, you’re among friends, and you're free to admit that they’re just not that great at tasks like those. We won't judge.

There is some good news: You're able to let them do what they're good at, leaving this type of follow-up to technology and sound inbound marketing process enhancements. The bad news is that because this type of follow-up is often what your prospects are seeking, when it's lacking, your company comes off as unresponsive, irresponsible or, worse, apathetic. These are adjectives you want to stay away from.

Let’s look at how lead nurturing emails (often referred to as workflow emails) deliver the kind of experience your prospects want to have with your business.

Back to the trade show story from above: If you have a planned lead nurturing email campaign set up before you go to the show, when you get back, load all those new contacts into your database, and out come the emails. They can be personalized by sales rep and according to each of the recipients, and the content can be preplanned.

What if your new contacts had this email before they even got back to their office? What if it included a special offer or video that was just for people who attended the show? What if it was personal and came from the CEO or VP of Marketing? All these touches contribute to making the potential customer’s experience remarkable, differentiating you from your competitors throughout the sales process.

Shifting gears, when visitors come to your website and connect with your company emotionally, they then want to learn more. When they download an e-book, watch a video or look at an infographic, they’re not ready to be contacted by a sales rep. They didn’t ask for it, and most likely, they don’t want that call or email. But there is a way to stay in front of them and give them that remarkable experience.

Once they interact with your company, they need to be nurtured. You want every lead nurtured in the same, exact way. The problem with letting sales people handle this is that each one does things a little bit differently: some good, some not so good. Lead nurturing removes the guessing. Now you create a series of personal emails that say exactly what they need to say to get prospects starting to feel safe and positive about your business.

All of the prospects that download your e-book get the same personal and positive email. They get it the same day or the day after the download. Two days later, they get another amazing email and, two days after that, the last of the series. Each one gives them more educational information, introducing them to another one of your educational resources and positioning your company as the obvious choice to do business with. No muss, no fuss, no sales reps needed.

I’m not suggesting we get rid of the sales reps, but I am suggesting that we focus their attention on working with prospects that are ready to work with a rep. These are the prospects that are a little further down the sales funnel, the ones who are already thinking about working with you but just need a few more questions answered or some additional information that isn’t available on your website, like pricing, delivery or engagement details.

Now you have a well-oiled inbound marketing and inbound sales system that ensures your prospects get a remarkable experience every single time, no matter what is going on at your business.

Start Today Tip – There is a ton of software systems that deliver the kind of functionality we are discussing here. Make sure yours can deliver it, too. If not, consider a switch. Then map out what you think your prospects want to get – and when, and start writing those emails. Once they are programmed into the system and set up with triggers, the rest is easy. Check back from time to time to see how those emails are performing. You should be able to see click-through rates, open rates and opt-out rates, just like traditional email marketing.

  7 Undeniable Reasons Your Enterprise Needs Inbound Marketing

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolutions!

How Inbound Marketing And Content Increase Your Close Rate And Help You Hit Your Sales Goals

  
  
  
  

Inbound SalesIf you’ve been following our blog and actively implementing an inbound marketing program at your business, you may have a decent inventory of educational content by now. This includes all of your e-books, whitepapers, tip guides, infographics, videos and podcasts.

You might even be thinking, “Wow, we spent a nice chunk of change to get this stuff. I see it on our website, and it's contributing to increased leads, but is there a way to use it in other places?”

That’s a great question, and the answer is yes. You should be using your content in at least two other places.

In The Sales Process

As we update our sales and marketing processes to fit the new buyer behavior, one of the most important adjustments is making the marketing experience match the sales experience. If you’re educating your prospects and creating a remarkable experience prior to them connecting with a sales person, and then your sales person comes on too strong, you blew it.

Just as we suggest that you guide, consult and advise your prospects with educational content, your sales people have to bring the same approach. In this way, content becomes an amazing tool to deliver a more positive inbound sales experience.

Here are some of the content assets you should have and how to use them.

Blog – Your blog is going to give prospects unique insight into your company’s thought leadership. Your blogging is often done in a more casual and conversational voice, so it's typically easier to digest than more traditional marketing copy. If you are updating your blog a few times per week, this fresh content gives sales people a reason to reach out to prospects with valuable and insightful content.

In fact, sales people should be actively asking prospects if they want to be subscribers to the blog. A "yes" is an excellent qualifier for future opportunities. Once your sales people understand your prospects' pain, they are able to forward relevant blog posts all throughout the sales process. Now they are helping instead of selling.

Video – People like watching as opposed to reading, and since your prospects are all people, sending them videos is going to help them get your message and connect with your stories. For instance, a reference reel filled with client testimonials is a great piece of content for the end of your sales process. Instead of providing references, send your prospects the reference reel link in an email BEFORE they even ask. This shows you are a proactive, thoughtful and progressive company.

E-Books, Whitepapers And Tip Guides – These pieces of content, if created properly, should map directly to the sales process. Prospects are looking for different content all throughout the sales process, so you should have content for prospects at the top of the funnel (the awareness stage), at the middle of the funnel (the consideration stage) and at the bottom of the funnel (the decision stage).

To Service Current Customers

Engaging in marketing and sales to current customers is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient exercises, but it’s often overlooked. By focusing a content marketing effort on current customers, you enable your biggest fans to buy more, stay longer and refer you to new prospective customers.

It’s critical that you know your buyer’s journey with your company intimately. You have to understand the questions your prospects ask your sales people at all phases of the sales funnel. As long as your content answers those questions, your inbound marketing program and educational content are going to contribute to lead generation, increased close rates, shorter sales cycles, higher average sales, higher retention rates and improved business performance.

Start Today Tip – Create the content map that connects your prospects' questions directly with content that answers those questions. That map should include a variety of different content formats and various types of content. Top-of-the-funnel content should include materials that are delivered with minimal effort on your prospects' part. Remember, they don’t know you well enough yet to give you a full bio, but they should be willing to give you their email addresses. Middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel content may require them to give you more info.

How To Increase Your Lead Generation By 4,445% | Read The Case Study  

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolutions! 

How Many Times Do Prospects Need To See Your Stuff Before They Buy?

  
  
  
  

Inbound Marketing TacticsThis is one of the age-old questions for marketers, CEOs and business owners all over the world. One study indicates that subjects “voiced a greater preference for the product after receiving three ad exposures” compared to those who received “either one or five.”

Other experts contend, however, that “a consumer won’t purchase your product or service until it has been a part of your campaign seven times.” Still others say that 20 is the magic number.

For inbound marketers, the question becomes a little less complicated, and when you factor in today’s buyer behavior, I think the magic number of exposures actually becomes completely irrelevant. Let me help you see why.

While there are a lot of theories and hypotheses around this number, our perspective is a little different. People make purchase decisions ONLY when their pain becomes acute. This event (the pain becoming acute) is impossible to predict and impossible to influence. Marketers might think they can influence it, but that remains to be proven.

Here is an illustration: I have been looking for a programmable thermostat for my home HVAC system for months. I am past the awareness stage (I know about them, what they can do and how they help). I am past the consideration phase (I know enough about them to make a decision, have looked at specific brands, have talked to experts and know what features I want). But I haven’t bought one yet. Why?

First, I’m not "safe" yet. I can't install it myself (I am project impaired). But, more important, my pain isn’t acute. My current thermostat is just fine. My house is warm when I want it to be and cold when I want it to be, and my energy bills are within reason. No amount of advertising is going to get me to buy -- not one more impression, not 20 more impressions.

Should my pain become acute, I would likely go with the company that has been helping me or with the unit manufacturer that did the best job of educating me on the features it offers. Now, what might move me is strong messaging directed at my concern -- like free installation when I buy a unit or free programming, setup and app installation on my iPhone.

This story teaches us that the marketing is more about understanding your prospects' pain, developing messaging that assuages their pain and, most important, creating an experience for your prospects that gets them to feel safe. I would continue to argue that the more quickly you get them to feel safe, the less marketing touches you require in order to get them to want to buy your product or service.

Inbound marketing or, more specific, the content marketing part of inbound marketing does an amazing job of creating the experience, educating your prospects, moving them down the sales funnel and getting them to feel safe -- as opposed to the traditional stuff that tries to sell to them, entertain them or grab their awareness as many times as possible.

Inbound marketing’s application of content all throughout the buyer’s journey makes it much easier to earn a prospect’s attention. Here is how inbound marketing and content could have been applied to my thermostat search:

Take a look -- I saw an ad on TV for the Nest. I noticed an end-cap at Home Depot for the Nest. A few months later, I saw an end-cap at Lowe's for a Honeywell product. I went online and did research, read reviews, looked up product features and checked out the pricing. Then I spoke with my HVAC guy to get his opinion. Here I am today, still not a customer. But what if the Nest had handled me differently? What if in the TV ad, there was a free report or e-book on how easy the product is to install or to be programmed on my device? I would have visited the company website (which I did later anyway) just to get that info. I would have downloaded it, and the company would have received my email address. They could have been emailing me for months with tips, insights and other information that would have nurtured me along.

Even the current site, which looks great and has amazing videos, still doesn’t have any offers other than "Buy Now!" Had the video on installation included a gate for my email address, I gladly would have provided it. Speaking of videos, this one (linked above) did exactly what I was looking for: It showed me how easy it is to install the product. I’m almost feeling safe.

Today’s marketers should worry less about how many times people see your ads and more about creating a remarkable and amazing experience for all your prospects. It’s the content that becomes the backbone of this experience, including videos, infographics, e-books and other tools strategically placed up and down the sales funnel, all with one goal in mind: Make them feel safe.

Start Today Tip – What is your prospect’s experience today? We do a lot of secret shopper calls for our clients, and many of them come to us with horrible prospect experiences. Create a content inventory for your educational content and strategically place those pieces in front of your prospects. If you don’t know who they are, add in the key tactic that allows you to collect their contact information. If you’re not thinking about marketing like this, you’re still thinking about it like people were 10 years ago. Get with the program and start applying inbound marketing today if you want to get found, get leads and grow sales.

  NRO - It's Not Me, It's You

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolution!

The Secret Data Behind How Inbound Marketing Delivers ROI

  
  
  
  

Inbound Marketing SecretsThe age-old question for marketers, CEOs and business owners has always been, “What is my return on investment for money spent on marketing?”

Managing By The Numbers

In a recent HubSpot survey, 25% of marketers reported this as their major challenge. In the same study, 20% said that securing enough budget is their major challenge. I could argue that if you were able prove ROI, you might get more budget. So perhaps ROI is important to almost half of the people surveyed.

But, is inbound marketing really the answer to ROI and getting more money for marketing? The same 3,339 people who responded to the first question also responded to the following: “Did inbound marketing demonstrate ROI for your company?” A remarkable 41% said that it did, and only 9% said that it didn’t. If you're curious about what happened to the other 34%: They either didn’t calculate ROI or were uncertain about the impact.

Our Research Validated The Study

Let’s go one level deeper. In our own research, which compared our clients to businesses that haven’t worked with us yet (prospects who let us do a little research into their outbound efforts), we found the following information.

For businesses practicing inbound marketing, the average cost to acquire a lead was $43 dollars, and for businesses doing something other than inbound marketing, the average cost per lead was $68 dollars. This is a significant reduction in the cost associated with driving leads for a business.

Along the same lines and from the same study, the average cost to acquire a customer is around $300 for companies using inbound marketing, and the average cost to acquire a customer at non-inbound companies is almost $500. This is primarily due to highly inefficient and overstaffed sales teams with broken sales processes. Regardless, there are significant cost savings associated with deploying an inbound marketing program in your company.

How Inbound Marketing Delivers

Let’s look at how inbound marketing delivers these real cost savings and adds real dollars back to your bottom line, making marketing pros that use inbound marketing look like stars to their CEOs.

First, inbound marketing comes with a very active lead nurturing program that leans on email marketing. Typically, email marketing can be done for pennies per email, meaning you can continue to talk to prospects up and down the sales funnel multiple times per month for less than a dollar per lead.

Next, inbound marketing primarily uses content and your website experience to engage your prospects, which requires a one-time investment only, as opposed to the reoccurring expenses associated with traditional advertising, direct mail or cold calling. Even if you are making minor adjustments to your website, and even if you are regularly creating content for your site, these expenses pale in comparison to the expenses associated with renting your audience’s attention.

Alignment With Your Sales Process

Even better, both your website and your educational content should extend beyond the marketing effort and into the sales effort, giving you even more bang for your buck when your sales people are using links and sharing PDFs with your best prospects.

Finally, inbound marketing provides offers for people in all phases of the sales funnel, so as the number of leads increases, the cost per lead decreases dramatically. If you extrapolate that into more leads equaling more sales opportunities, and more sales opportunities turning into more sales, you end up with improved metrics up and down the sales funnel. 

While inbound marketing might be more complicated and take longer to impact results, it delivers a much more sustainable Marketing Machine that builds on itself month over month. Clients who see modest results in the first few months, see significant lift in performance between the sixth and ninth months. But the real ROI comes in year two, when for the same level of investment, lead and sales opportunities can be as high as 10 times what they were in the third and fourth months.

Start Today Tip – Knowing your key metrics is one of the first steps to seeing if your marketing performance is working and to what level. These calculations aren’t difficult, but it does require getting access to the information required to do the math. Once you have your benchmark marketing metrics, you can start trying inbound marketing tactics. Make sure you give these newer tactics enough time to gain traction. This means at least 30 days. When you get enough data to compare, you’ll quickly see the cost savings associated with inbound marketing.

Webinar: Using Inbound Marketing To Generate More Leads Today  

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolutions!

Five Insightful Inbound Marketing Metrics For The CEO

  
  
  
  
describe the imageWhether you are a CEO or a marketing executive working with your CEO, the Chief Executive Officer often has a different perspective on the metrics associated with marketing performance. For the most part, CEOs don’t care about visitors, conversion rate or leads. What they care about is the overall growth. However, there are a handful of key metrics that do provide insight into your inbound marketing effort’s overall impact on the business.
 
Sales Opportunities – While I could make a compelling argument for why leads are an important metric, most C-level execs care more about actual sales opportunities. That makes sense as well. Typically, about 10% of total leads are immediate sales opportunities for the sales team. The remaining 90% of the leads are people in the awareness or consideration phase of their buying process. One of the advantages of inbound marketing over other marketing approaches is the ability to build in automated lead-nurturing activities to move these people from awareness to purchase more quickly.
 
Close Rate – If your inbound marketing is doing well, prospects should be entering your sales funnel more qualified than in the past, contributing to an increased close rate for all of your sales opportunities. This requires your sales team to be guiding as opposed to selling. They must also use all the content you created as part of your marketing program and tell the right stories at the right time. If your sales team isn’t aligned perfectly with your marketing effort, your CEO isn’t going to see the improvement in close rate that he or she might be looking for.
 
New Customers – This is an easy one, but it might not be easy to track a specific new customer back to your inbound marketing efforts. In our opinion, it shouldn’t matter. Since the beginning of time, marketers have been trying to attribute sales to a single marketing tactic. The reality is that most people are exposed to a large number of marketing tactics before they decide to hire your company. In fact, good inbound marketing should feel like you are having a conversation with your prospects, and it’s the overall experience that turns them from prospects into customers.
 
Cost Of Acquisition – This is a great metric for your CEO, and it's one that is relatively easy to calculate. Take a look at all the costs associated with getting new business. This has to include everything. Then divide by the total number of new customers, and you end up with the cost to acquire a new customer. We can work to reduce that number, and in most cases, inbound marketing allows us to lower that cost of acquisition metric significantly.
 
Sales To Current Customers – In many cases, current customers present a significant opportunity to increase revenue. But most people spend their time and money looking for new customers. Inbound marketing campaigns directed at current customers and designed to make sure all customers know about all the products and services from your company can shake a lot of low-hanging fruit off the tree, metaphorically speaking.
 
More specifically, you should be considering your customers as a separate market segment from the segments that make up your prospects. Inbound marketing campaigns targeted directly at your customers drive a variety of key metrics that all positively impact the business, including retention rates, average lifetime value of your customer and referrals.
 
Each of these key CEO metrics relates to revenue, which is typically a major driver for most executives, and inbound marketing directly drives those metrics that lead to revenue. Another suggestion: Create a CEO Dashboard that includes a current performance benchmark around these metrics and then update the metrics monthly.
 
Start Today Tip – Associating numbers with marketing is a big part of the changing nature of marketing itself, and while marketers have one perspective, CEOs clearly have another. The metrics mentioned in this post are relatively easy to gather, and a regular conversation with your CEO about the performance of your marketing is critical to getting support, maintaining budgets and building credibility within your company.
10 Secrets To Turning Your Website Traffic Into Leads
 
Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolution!

Marketing Strategy Wins Inbound Marketing Tournament, Top Inbound Marketing Tactic

  
  
  
  

Top Inbound Marketing TacticLast night, Marketing Strategy was crowned the champion in our March Madness Inbound Marketing Tournament. Marketing Strategy outlasted Blogging (both number-one seeds) to take the title.

In what turned out to be an amazing game, both teams put up good numbers all throughout. However, Marketing Strategy had a little more zip than the younger and more athletic Blogging.

It would be hard for us to crown anything other than Marketing Strategy in 2014. While there was a number of other teams that could have easily taken the title of Top Inbound Marketing Tactic, we have seen too many businesses that tried to execute inbound without a plan, only to fail or to have to regroup and create the plan midstream.

Over the years, experience and research have shown us that inbound marketing without a strategy and plan in place is much more complicated, delivers lower results, takes longer to get traction and requires more investment to make the tactics deliver measurable results.

It’s due to this experience that our team selected Marketing Strategy as the Top Inbound Marketing Tactic in 2014.

Let’s take a deeper look into how Marketing Strategy is a non-negotiable requirement if you’re considering or even in the middle of executing an inbound marketing program at your company.

First, inbound marketing is much more complex than traditional outbound. While interruptive marketing tactics still require integrated messaging, the tactics are often unconnected. But inbound marketing requires that all the tactical elements be threaded together by strategy.

As an example, your website requires search engine-optimized copy based on keywords that are defined during strategy and planning. Those keywords are directly connected to the questions that your prospects are asking at all phases of the sales funnel, and these questions map directly to your content strategy, also created during the planning process.

Each of these pieces of educational content requires a refined conversion strategy to ensure it converts website visitors into leads. Remember that without well-defined personas, messages that emotionally engage your personas, a remarkable story like nothing your prospects have ever heard and a set of validation testimonials, even the best website and the hottest educational content won't deliver leads.

Add the need to proactively get your content to your prospects via guest blogging, content publication and social media, and all these moving parts quickly become very complicated to manage, automate, track and adjust in real time. Yet, this optimization is one of the secrets to inbound marketing that actually generates leads.

Strategy is as much about setting expectations as it is about planning for tactics. Inbound marketing provides the rare opportunity to set goals for website visitors, conversion rate and leads generated. Set goals for each of these, month over month, as part of your planning process. Then measure performance religiously – daily, weekly and monthly.

It should also be noted that inbound marketing strategy is one of the more challenging deliverables to execute. Blogging, email, social media and even educational content creation are all easier to develop and execute than the marketing strategy required for success. This fact alone drives many practitioners to skip the strategy step and jump right into tactics.

We have seen this time and time again, and the major indicators are almost always anemic lead generation and mediocre results across the board. Add a well-thought-out marketing strategy and ... boom! The leads start flowing in.

Start Today Tip – We’ve written about marketing strategy and planning over and over again, by design. We know how critical it is to success with inbound marketing. Now you have to look at your own company. Do you have all the elements of a solid strategy? Have you invested the right amount of time and thinking into your own marketing strategy? Are you seeing the results you expected from your own inbound marketing? If the answer is "no," you can still make a course correction. Pause your tactics, create your strategy, adjust your approach and get back in the game.  

Webinar: Using Inbound Marketing To Generate More Leads Today  

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolution!

Marketing Strategy & Blogging: Inbound Marketing Tournament Final Two

  
  
  
  

MMFinal2014In our Inbound Marketing Tournament, Marketing Strategy outlasted Social Media to move to the championship game on Monday night. While the number-one seeded team from the East Region has had little trouble with its competition until now, it took a variety of last-second heroics to get past Social Media.

First, Marketing Strategy impacts so many aspects of inbound marketing. While a powerhouse in its own right, Social Media has more to do with reach and distribution, whereas Marketing Strategy is the backbone of any inbound marketing program.

Social Media lit up the court early on with a number of long-range three-pointers, but Marketing Strategy consistently rebounded, moved the ball and played shutdown defense down the stretch. Social Media used new-fangled tactics to keep it close, but in the end, a series of missed three-pointers and easy baskets allowed Marketing Strategy to advance.  

While Social Media is mandatory in any inbound marketing program, its application is varied. Not every company needs to be on every platform, and focusing your engagement delivers improved results. If you’re a B2C business, it’s going to be better to work hard to engage your prospects on Facebook and leave Twitter or Pinterest as a secondary tactic than to spread yourself too thin and appear mediocre on all three.

The same holds true for B2B: Put all of your energy into LinkedIn and Twitter, leaving Facebook and Google+ to be a clearing house for videos, simple posts and updates. This allows you to actively engage your prospects where they want to be engaged, leaving the other sites to support your search strategy.

In the second game, dubbed the "battle of the blogs," Blogging downed Guest Blogging in a buzzer beater. While both types of blogging are proven to be highly effective at driving website visitors and new leads, blogging on your own site had just a little extra when it was needed the most.

When you boil it down, blogging on your own website is the most important tactic in the first part of the inbound marketing formula. All of our research and experience with running inbound marketing programs for businesses has shown that the best way to drive more visitors to your website is blogging. The more you do it, the more visitors you get.

Now we do ask the regular question: How often? The answer is difficult because every business, every industry and every situation is a little different. For instance, if you have a competitor that is blogging every day, it’s imperative that you do too. However, if you are in a market where no one is blogging at all, you're probably going to get away with doing it once or twice a week.

In our estimation, guest blogging is critical, but you don’t have to guest blog every day. Once a week, as needed, is typically how we apply guest blogging. The result is an extra influx of both visitors and leads. Remember: Guest blogging requires a third party to agree, approve and post your blog, while your own blog is in your hands.

If you want to read a little more about blogging and guest blogging, check out these posts from earlier in the tournament. Keep in mind that both blogging and guest blogging are important elements of an inbound marketing program, and they both need to be part of your company’s effort.

Blogging and Marketing Strategy square off in the tournament’s championship game tonight, and we will report on the final outcome on Tuesday morning. Enjoy the championship game.

Start Today Tip – We have been talking about blogging for a long time. By now, you should have a blog on your company website, and it should be active. I know how I feel when I go to a company’s blog and the last post was from November 2012. You should be blogging as least weekly. The same tactics are applied to both your blog and your guest blog efforts. You need to make sure your blog posts have keywords in the title, first paragraph and last paragraph. Also ensure that your blog has a CTA because this is how you use both blogging and guest blogging to generate leads.

7 Undeniable Reasons Your Enterprise Needs Inbound Marketing  

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolutions!

Social Media Rounds Out Our Inbound Marketing Final Four

  
  
  
  

Social MediaI’m sure you’re not surprised to see Social Media in the Final Four. With close to 2 billion users involved in social media of some kind, it’s hard to avoid it from a marketing perspective.

Are people still trying to figure out how to use it, what it’s good for and how to make money on it? Yes, but that is going to continue well into the future.

The major takeaway associated with social media is that it needs to be part of any inbound marketing program, and here's why:

Content is king, and people share content on social media – With all the videos, infographics and e-books being created, you're going to want to get them out in front of potential customers. One high-performing way to do so is to get them moving around the social media networks.

If you can create compelling, entertaining and educational content, the people who are already connected to your company will do the sharing for you. But if you’re not on this super highway of sharing, you're sure to run into less-than-satisfying lead generation results.

Search engines are ranking content that is shared – The more people who share your content, the higher your business is going to rank. If you read anything Google writes these days, you might have noticed that it stopped referring to your “website ranking” and started referring to your “content ranking.”

That’s right. It isn't listing as many websites as it used to, and now it's listing blog posts, videos, graphics, reviews and articles. This means your content has to be so good that people share it. Then it will rank, driving more new people to your website and getting you more leads.

Building your audience gives you access to target prospects – Building your audience on social media isn’t something you do in an afternoon, and if you think buying followers, friends or connections is a short cut, think again. Inbound marketing rails against renting an audience and teaches you to earn one. The sooner you start, the better off you're going to be. Your prospects are on these sites, and you have to find them by creating the kind of content they want to read, listen to or watch.

People are talking about your business on social media – Like it or not, people are talking about your business (and mine) on social media. You can either get into the game or continue to ignore it. If you want to drive the conversation, you have to do so proactively from your own social media properties. We have blogged about this a number of times.

First, do it frequently – and that doesn’t mean once a week. It probably means more than once a day, but I suggest at least once per day to get you in the game. More important, take a stand, grab a position on a controversial topic, jack some news and use content to continue the conversation. The more you do this, the more people will follow you, giving you a better chance to turn them into customers.

You have to track everything – Marketing isn’t a guessing game anymore. With the click of a button, I can tell you how many people came to my website from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and YouTube. I can tell you this for every single one of our clients too. This gives me insight into how to optimize the traffic and turn those visitors into leads.

Not only do I know where they came from, but I also know what they are talking about. Social media monitoring allows us to keep tabs on conversations, alert salespeople and have them reach out to help those who are looking for guidance around important keywords or questions.

Inbound marketing is so connected to many of the tactics discussed throughout the tournament that it’s very difficult to remove any of them. Social media is perhaps one of the most connected and critical elements of any successful inbound marketing program. That might be one reason it’s in our Final Four.

Start Today Tip – Take a hard look at your social media sites. Are they complete? If not, you should complete them today. If they are telling a different story than your website, that needs to be corrected too. If they don’t have educational offers, whitepapers, e-books or videos, you are missing an amazing opportunity to drive visitors to your website and leads for your business. Last but not least, how engaged are you with your social media followers? If you’re not talking to them daily, you’re not really engaged with them at all.

4.5 Ways To Drive Leads With Social Media

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolution!

Guest Blogging Advances To The Inbound Marketing Final Four

  
  
  
  

Guest BloggingBlogging on your website is one way to get found, but Guest Blogging on other websites is a way to drive highly targeted leads right to your doorstep.

With some properly placed guest blog posts and some well-defined guest blogging techniques, you have the ability to drive business leads for your business tomorrow with a guest blog post today.

Here are a few of our secrets to identifying the best opportunities for guest blogs, connecting with those editors who control the blog, writing a guest blog post that helps your site get found while driving leads and, last but not least, tracking which sites are working and which ones are not.

Identifying – You have to do some research. Typically, this is performed during the planning phase of our strategy creation. You are going to want to identify all of the bloggers that are already talking about issues and challenges faced by your prospects (and they are definitely out there). BuzzSumo is a great tool for doing some of that research in an automated fashion.

Connecting – Unfortunately, there isn’t an automated or expedited way to connect with these people once you find them. You have to do it the old-fashioned way. That means reading what they are writing about, following them on Twitter, messaging them on Twitter, retweeting their posts and then reaching out with some additional content for them to consider. One way we accomplish this is by emailing them some of our blog posts so they are able to read what we are writing about, see how we advise (rather than sell) and ensure that what we're writing about matches the type of content they want on their blogs.

Creating – Now you have to deliver. Because you are writing for their “baby,” they are going to be counting on you to deliver. You have to meet all of your deadlines and follow all of their rules. Working with a schedule is helpful. Try to get in a regular rhythm with the blogger. A weekly or monthly cadence would be best. Make your guest blog post keyword- or question-focused, meaning it helps you from a search perspective. Build three to five links back to your website into your copy. Include the picture you want to use and make sure it has a hyperlink as well.

Converting – Guest blog posts are just as effective at lead generation as they are at driving new visitors to your website. But only if you apply the right methodology. Every guest blog post for our clients includes an additional CTA (call-to-action) button at the bottom. If the editor won't allow us to include one, we might choose to pass on the opportunity. This means each guest blog post is able to drive leads for your business.

Analyzing – This is an important and often overlooked element of inbound marketing. Today, we get real-time feedback on which blogs are effective and which ones are not. By creating dedicated landing pages with unique URL tracking codes, we are able to know exactly how many people shared the guest blog post, how many people visited the landing page and how many visitors turned into leads. Knowing which content is driving leads is critical to optimizing your inbound marketing over time.

Start Today Tip – Today’s tip is simple: If you don’t already have a marketing strategy and tactical inbound marketing plan for 2014, put everything on hold to create one.

  5.5 Ways Inbound Marketing Benefits Your Next Exterprise-Level Marketing Campaign

Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing And Inbound Marketing Revolution!

All Posts