• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • MCohen
    Marcy Cohen on January 21, 2015

    Could a Pair of Bedazzled Bowling Shoes Lead to Social Good?

    What if 2015 became the year when the collaborative model didn’t just make it easier to buy groceries but helped emerging economies on their path to inclusive growth? What if it could be a force for social good?
  • The marketing world is filled with buzzwords, and it can be tricky to tell which tactics are the real deal and which are passing trends. Inbound Marketing has gained a lot of attention in the past few years. However, inbound techniques have been around long enough that they are unlikely to be replaced by the next big thing in the near future.

    The marketing world is filled with buzzwords, and it can be tricky to tell which tactics are the real deal and which are passing trends. Inbound Marketing has gained a lot of attention in the past few years. However, inbound techniques have been around long enough that they are unlikely to be replaced by the next big thing in the near future.

    Not convinced about the strength of Inbound Marketing? It's getting more difficult to succeed with straightforward search engine optimization, but Inbound Marketing can improve your rankings, according to Business 2 Community.

    Inbound Marketing: more leads and best SEO

    89 percent of people conduct online research before making any purchase, which highlights the importance of optimized landing pages. Blogging is one of the most basic forms of inbound marketing, and this is one of the easiest ways to increase page rank because blogs bring more traffic to your website.

    Web pages that utilize reliable inbound marketing tactics get more traffic. These companies are also able to generate more leads. In fact, going from 10 to 15 landing pages can result in 55 percent more leads, the article said.

    The greater number of high converting landing pages you maintain, the more leads you can attract. For example, websites with 51 to 100 landing pages are able to gain 48 percent more traffic than sites with 1 to 50 pages. If you have the right content and forms to convert visitors, this can translate to a significant uptick in qualified leads.

    It's important to remember that not all leads will become customers, but providing high-quality content and a good user experience has a strong influence on visitors. If content is targeted for your audience, you can increase the number of qualified leads you gain from your website.

    Content vs. Inbound Marketing

    Inbound Marketing has become synonymous with content, and some people in the industry worry that inbound will lose out because content marketing is a slightly newer concept.

    Both concepts are similar, but there are subtle differences, and they may be worth paying attention if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your website as a lead-generation tool.

    Inbound marketing emerged as consumers and business buyers migrated to the Internet to research different product offerings. Companies wanted a way to stand out, especially as the Web became more saturated with competing sites. Because Inbound Marketing improves online visibility, this tactic only exists on the Internet.

    Content Marketing, on the other hand, can apply to offline materials. Good content focuses on the needs, challenges and goals of a particular target audience. Many brands often utilize different forms of Content Marketing at various stages of the sales cycle to build the relationship with potential customers.

    While inbound marketing can boost SEO results, you need to be aware that Google's nearly constant updates pose a threat to inbound marketing if it's used alone. When people do a quick search, Google has started displaying a snippet of the answer at the top of the page above all other links. In some cases, this may answer the user's question, which means he or she doesn't have to click to the website. However, high-quality content will make people want to gain more in-depth knowledge and, more importantly, return to your website in the future.

    You shouldn't see content and inbound marketing as working against each other, but rather as two techniques that work in conjunction to bring traffic to your landing pages, help you attract qualified leads and gain more customers.

    Do you think Inbound or Content Marketing is more important?

    In the world of messaging, content creation and postings, we forget that taking a minute to listen can help steer us in the appropriate direction.

    Something in every marketing blog, whitepaper or case study is being where your audience is and then dominating the space so they interact with you. This works, in a forceful, not too friendly, kind of way.

    Or, you could listen for a while and find things you never knew existed.

    For instance, a previous project involved managing the social media outlets for a building code company. They created all of the building codes for the U.S. and a few other countries. They had several legacy organizations combined into one giant memberships organization. They also had an idea of where and what their members liked and listened to, LinkedIn, Facebook, a newsletter, an online membership magazine and their website.

    So, posting content began by putting it throughout their various social media outlets. Some items here, some items there, a little bit everywhere. Coverage mostly pertained to the big three social media channels at the time, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

    Twitter was one of the outlets where the content posted was not increasing growth and connections.

    Content from all sectors of the business were posted to the Twitter account; building code hearing schedules, releases of new products, other announcements and news items. However, posting all the various amounts of content was not the issue.

    We took a step back and began to monitor the conversations occurring with their followers and also monitored the followers and their content, something surprising occurred.

    This organization with legacy members, who (more often than not) liked things the way they were and were not open to a lot of quick changes, were totally digging content about green and sustainability building codes. At this time, green and sustainability building codes were fairly forward thinking for their audience.

    Upon further digging, we found more surprising information. The users who were engaging with the green and sustainability content weren’t their regular legacy members. They were architects or younger industry professionals. A whole new audience had appeared who was not necessarily being reached through the other communication outlets.

    The lesson learned was not be to frustrated by a lack of growth of outlets but to make sure, that with monitoring and listening to the outlets we were offering content our users were wanting.

    The communication strategy changed to accommodate the new audience and they posted green and sustainable content mostly through Twitter while leveraging their various other outlets for other news, updates or notifications for a successful integrated communication strategy.

    In this post, we’ll highlight the top five trends in lead-generating websites, with examples of how the some of the best marketers use these strategies to drive increased engagement and leads.

    At the top of every marketing director’s mind is having a website that converts web visitors into leads and leads into new business opportunities. How can your firm get there? In this post, we’ll highlight the top five trends in lead generating websites with examples of how the some of the best marketers use these strategies to drive increased engagement and leads.

     

    1) Calls-to-Action (CTA).

    A lead generating website uses effective calls-to-action to convert visitors into leads. CTAs offer something valuable to users usually in exchange for some information from the user. This could be an email address, the name of the company they work for or more detailed information about their role or interest in your firm.

    Offers will differ depending on the industry, but there are a few common kinds of offers traditionally used in professional services. Offers could include a blog subscription, guides, ebooks, industry whitepapers, webinar signups, or a free consultation.

    Example: The Daily Egg’s right sidebar offer is a good example of an effective CTA. The website also offers an incentive by offering a free ebook when the visitor signs up for the blog.

    The CTAs are also bright yellow, drawing your attention to the offer. Color should be a thoughtful element of your CTA’s design, making sure not to blend in with your website’s overall color palette. This will help capture visitor’s attention and motivate an intended action.
     

    CTA example

     

    2) High Quality Content.

    Today people expect access to information and expertise at no cost. Many professional services firms are educating and persuading prospects up front, prior to the point of sale.

    The best way to convey your expterise and educate your audience is by producing high quality content and make it readily available to your prospective buyers. Our research has shown that high growth firms consistently rate the effectiveness of content, and specifically online content, higher than average growth firms. 

    online marketing research, high growth firms

    When a firm decides to create content for their audience, they should consider which formats would be most valuable for their readers. What kind of format does your audience respond to most? Keep in mind the habits of your intended audience and tailor your content to their interests and needs.

    Example: KISSmetrics has an entire library of guides around the topics that they have an expertise in. They also display infographics and webinars on their homepage and in their main navigation. This allows users to learn more about these topics and positions KISSmetrics as an expert on these topics.
     

    kissmetrics screenshot

    SEE ALSO: Top 10 Marketing Techniques for Professional Services Firms

    3) Responsive Design.

    As smart phone adoption increases and as Google hints to near-future algorithm changes, it’s becoming clear that firms need to create an experience for their users that is accessible across devices.

    Responsive design renders your site so that it adapts to the screen size a user is accessing your website from. On a smaller screen, details of a desktop version of a website can be distracting or difficult to process. Responsive design attempts to optimize the user experience by removing elements from a website and simplifying the layout so that it’s easy to navigate on a mobile device.

    Example: Search Engine Journal demonstrates how a responsive version of a website can simplify the user experience across different devices so that only essential information is displayed.

    In the mobile version of the website, the menu items are included under a menu icon, instead of in their position at the top of the site on the desktop version of the website. This eliminates clutter for the mobile version of the website while maintaining the functionality of the full site. The responsive version of the site also stacks the blog posts vertically so that scrolling is natural and doesn’t require mobile users to zoom in or scroll horizontally. 

    responsive web example

     

    4) Pop Up Offers.

    Nobody likes pop-ups. If done poorly, they can distract from the user experience on a website and may even cause visitors to leave a website. But there are ways to integrate pop-ups into your website without impeding the user, in turn increasing your conversions and offering something valuable to your audience.

    First, to understand how pop-ups can be employed effectively, it’s helpful to describe the do’s and don’ts.

    Don’t set a pop-up to open upon entry to a website. It’s highly unlikely that someone will immediately opt in and give you their email address if they don’t know anything about your firm.

    Do set your pop-ups to trigger after some condition has been met, such as time elapsed on website, or scrolling down past a certain point on a page. This allows users to spend some time engaging with your website and content before being prompted to take an action.

    Don’t include condescending language in your pop-up. Peer pressuring your audience into giving up their emails with negative language won’t build trust with your audience and poorly reflects your brand.

    Do ensure that your pop-ups are relevant to the content the user is engaging with. If someone is reading about a specific service or topic, make sure the pop-up offer is related.

    Example: Marketo has an effective pop-up with a compelling blog subscribe offer. The offer uses complimentary colors to draw users’ attention to the subscribe button, as well as a simple graphic to give the offer a little character and direct users attention to the subscribe button. The text below the CTA is subtle but important, stating that Marketo will respect users privacy. 


    marketo cta

     

    5) Video.

    Lead generating websites often use video to communicate elements of their brand and messaging to their audience. There are a number of different video formats that firms can use in their branding efforts, but there are a few formats that are most common for lead generating B2B websites.

    • Video blog posts are typically short 30 second to 5 minute clips that aren’t always highly polished in format. They can offer unique perspectives or opinions on a topic, and are aimed at starting a discussion or educating your audience.
    • Video case studies and testimonials are a great way to showcase your firm’s clients as well as successful projects that your firm may have completed.
    • Branding videos can communicate the differentiators of your firm, and your approach or values as a firm. They can also highlight your firm’s culture or notable team members.

    Example: Convince & Convert uses a number of video formats to effectively communicate brand message, capabilities, and thought leadership. The homepage prominently features a video that gives users an idea of what's on the site, and what the brand stands for.

    Convince & Convert also makes good use of video blog posts. Jay Baer discusses a number of topics around content marketing, social media and marketing, encouraging the audience to weigh in on the discussion in the comments section.
     

    Jay Baer

     

    Implementing these elements into your website will create new opportunities to convert visitors and build trust and engagement with your web visitors. When implemented thoughtfully and strategically, these techniques can transform your website into a high performance lead generation tool.

    Ready to learn more? Download our Lead Generation Website Guide to get started.

    In this episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast I share 10 tips to help franchisors set up an infrastructure and culture that promotes teamwork, collaboration, and successful adoption of social media and the latest digital technologies and methodologies.

    Many franchise organizations shy away from implementing social media, new media and the latest digital and web technologies due to fear and lack of ability to roll out such big marketing and media changes to their franchisees from the corporate organization.

    Often, the franchisor fears that adopting social media and new technologies will put the brand at risk. They are afraid of brand inconsistency, negative interaction with audiences and the list goes on.

    The truth is that regardless if a franchisor, franchisee or brand of any type or size decides to engage on the social web, there is a conversation happening in their honor already. The question is do they want to be a proactive part of the conversation.

    My agency, Marketing Nutz has worked with numerous franchise organizations. We help them not only implement social media, adopt new technologies but also setup an infrastructure that empowers the franchisees while also ensuring brand consistency, streamlined communication and ensuring the corporate organization and franchisor is consistently providing value and partnering with franchisee teams.

    In this episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast I share 10 tips to help franchisors set up an infrastructure and culture that promotes teamwork, collaboration, and successful adoption of social media and the latest digital technologies and methodologies. These tips are also helpful and applicable for any brand and organization setup in a distributed model with teams in different locations and geographies.

    Episode Highlights

    • 10 tips for franchisors to successfully implement social media at the corporate and franchisee level.
    • The importance of having a servant heart vs only focusing on control.
    • Why franchisors must stay knowledgeable on the latest media and technology to empower franchisees to succeed.
    • How to setup a social media policy that empowers vs simply controls.
    • Why social media policies are required, not optional.
    • How to provide value to franchisees in the form of social media templates, training and more.
    • How to more quickly roll out new media to franchisees by learning and rolling it out at the same time.
    • Why franchisors must quit overwhelming their franchisees with too much marketing information. Less is truly more.
    • Embracing imperfect perfection

    Supporting Resources:

    How to Subscribe to Social Zoom Factor Podcast 

    Why is President Obama now seeking to increase internet service provider (ISP) competition in America? It's about ensuring that the U.S. is prepared for the next wave of disruption in the Global Networked Economy.

    Leichtman Research Group (LRG) latest market study has found that 79 percent of U.S. households get a broadband Internet service at home -- that's an increase from just 20 percent in 2004. Broadband adoption reached 95 percent of all households with Internet service at home -- that's an increase from 94 percent last year, 89 percent in 2009, and 33 percent in 2004.

    The mean reported time spent online at home per day is 2.8 hours among all individuals online at home -- that's up from 2.2 hours per day in 2009. Given these findings, why is President Obama now seeking to increase internet service provider (ISP) competition in America? It's about ensuring that the U.S. is prepared for the next wave of disruption in the Global Networked Economy. In order to compete globally, he believes that America requires infrastructure that's at parity (both capabilities and retail price) with the recognized broadband market leaders around the globe.

    Challenging the Broadband Duopoly

    LRG also found that the seventeen largest cable and telephone providers in the U.S. -- representing about 94 percent of the market -- acquired over 700,000 net additional high-speed Internet subscribers in the third quarter of 2014.

    These top broadband providers now account for 86.6 million subscribers -- with top cable companies having over 51.2 million broadband subscribers, and top telephone companies having nearly 35.4 million subscribers.

    Other findings from the market study include:

    • Overall, broadband additions in 3Q 2014 amounted to 135 percent of those in 3Q 2013.
    • The top cable companies accounted for 83 percent of the net broadband additions for the quarter versus the top telephone companies.
    • The top cable companies added about 580,000 subscribers, representing 133 percent of the net additions for the top cable companies in 3Q 2013.
    • The top telephone companies added about 120,000 broadband subscribers in 3Q 2014 – compared to a gain of about 80,000 in 3Q 2013.
    • Over the past year, there were about 2,930,000 net broadband adds – compared to about 2,540,000 over the prior year, and 2,925,000 two years ago.

    Despite there being 86.6 million broadband subscribers in the U.S. via major cable and Telco providers, the industry has added subscribers at a faster pace over the past year than it did over the prior year. According to LRG, over the past year, cable companies accounted for 86 percent of the 2.9 million net broadband adds.

    Apparently, the American ISP duopoly of cable and Telco providers is prospering, regardless of government attempts to generate more competition in the marketplace and thereby increase broadband service capabilities while lowering the retail cost of services.

    global network / shutterstock