How to

Nurturing Leads With Email Marketing

by Joe B on February 14, 2012

Lead nurturing is the process of developing that relationship with your potential customer by sending targeted, relevant, and valuable messages to them in a timely manner. Companies that excel at lead nurturing are able to generate more sales-ready leads at a lower cost-per-lead.

Email Marketing Best Practices:

List Building

  • Create opt-in opportunities.
  • Give people a reason to opt-in.
  • Only send messages to people who have explicitly opted in.

Sending

  • Stay relevant.
  • Get personal. Use a name and email address in the “from” line of your email that your recipients will recognize.
  • Get into the mind of your recipient and ask, “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM) Make the value clear in both the email body and the subject line.
  • Don’t rely on images.
  • Be consistent.
  • Brush up on CAN-SPAM regulations to make sure your email practices comply.

Converting

  • What do I do here? When someone opens your email, make it clear what they’re supposed to do.
  • The landing page is part of your email campaign. Make sure your email offer and landing page flow.

Measuring

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) measures response.
  • What about open rate? Open rate is an increasingly unreliable metric. Focus instead on how many clicks your email received.
  • Unsubscribe rate measures annoyance and spam. You want to make sure your unsubscribe rate does not exceed 5%.
  • Conversion rate measures actions. Test different landing pages to improve the conversion on your website.

Lead nurturing is all about developing relationships with your leads. Do it right and it can payoff big time.

For more information on nurturing leads with email marketing download our “Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing”.




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Create a Business Blog & Other Content

by Joe B on February 9, 2012

Business blogging and creating other content, like ebooks and webinars, are powerful ways to help more of the right people discover your business online.

How to Think About Business Blogging

When business blogging, try to think like a magazine publisher. The goal of your business blog should be to publish articles that are not promotional but instead share industry expertise.

Getting Set Up With Blogging

There are many paid and free tools available that will let you start blogging easily. The most important thing you can do when you first start blogging is to make sure your blog is a section of your business website. A blog makes your website more dynamic. Search engines reward higher rankings to websites that consistently add fresh content.

Blogging Platforms to Consider

Some of the blogging platforms for your business include HubSpot, WordPress, Drupal and Posterous. These platforms all offer a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily add and update content without having to know any HTML code or calling you webmaster to post changes.

Key Components of a Great Blog Post

While it is important that your blogging software be easy to use, it is more important that the content you create be interesting.

A well-constructed blog post should include several key components:

  • An Attention-Grabbing Article Title
  • Well Written & Formatted Text
  • Images/Videos
  • Links
  • Call-to-Action

Deciding What to Blog About

A great way to start business blogging is to think about the 10 most common questions you get asked by prospective new customers. Take each one of those questions and write a short article explaining an answer. Use each of these articles as a blog article.

Convert Blog Visitors Into Leads

The purpose of your blog and your website is to help you get new customers. You do this by converting your visitors into leads, and then nurturing those leads until they become customers. You can convert your blog visitors into leads by using calls-to-action (CTAs). These CTAs work best if the offer is closely related to the subject matter of the blog post.

Other Types of Content

Blog content isn’t the only type of content you can be creating. Consider producing longer-form content items like ebooks, whitepapers, or research reports. Also consider using how-to videos, webinars, slideshows, etc.

For more tips about how to use internet marketing effectively, download the Essential Guide to Internet Marketing today!



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Create a Keyword Strategy

by Joe B on February 7, 2012

Why Build a Keyword Strategy?

Today, most people looking to buy a product or service begin the process by using a search engine to find vendors and product information. How do they do this? By using keywords and keyword phrases. You need to make sure that your website is ranking high in the search engines for the keywords that people are using to find companies like yours.

Some things to remember:

  • You have to be on the first or second page of search results or it’s almost like not being there at all.
  • Shorter search phrases are searched for more often and usually more difficult to rank for than longer phrases. For example, more searches occur for “shoes” than for “tennis shoes” and both of those are searched more frequently than “red tennis shoes”. However, if you are selling red tennis shoes, you would probably get better qualified visits (leads) by ranking for “red tennis shoes” as opposed to either “tennis shoes” or “shoes”.

How to Create a Keyword Strategy

1. Create a list of 3-5 keywords relevant to your business.

Think like someone searching for your product.

2. Choose keywords based on difficulty and relevance.

Some very general words such as “marketing” or “business” are very competitive, making it difficult to rank well for them. If you are a small- or medium-sized business, you probably want to choose less competitive keywords, more specifically related to your business (these are commonly referred to as long tail keywords).

You should find a balance between relevance and difficulty. Choose about 5 keywords that match your business well.

Note that these keywords do not have to be perfect at first. You can try out different ones to see which work best for you.

3. Design and optimize your website around your keywords.

Now that you’ve chosen your keywords, you should incorporate them into your website. We will talk more about this tomorrow.

For more information on Keyword Strategies as well as internet marketing, download our “Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing”.




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Google Merges Search and Google+

by Joe B on January 10, 2012

Today, Google begins blurring the line between the web as we know it and the web as you and your Circles of friends know it. Today, Google begins integrating Google+ into Google search in an update they call “Search Across Your World.” For more information on this update, go to the Google Merges Search and Google+ Into Social Media Juggernaut on Mashable.com.

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Facebook News Feed | How Do I Control What I See?

by Christi on September 29, 2011

The Facebook News Feed has undergone some major changes. Sometimes, this can cause a bit of frustration. I am a fan of Rocky Ridge Refuge on Facebook. Janice Wolf, at the refuge, does a wonderful job of rescuing abused and neglected animals. I’ve noticed many of her fans have mentioned that her daily pictures are not showing up in their news feed. I’ve put together a video tutorial to show you how to create lists that will help you control what you see in your news feed. First, let’s look at what Facebook has to say about it:

How do I control what I see in my News Feed?
Filter by friend lists
Click the name of one of your lists on the left side of your home page to view only stories by people on the list you’ve selected. Hide a person or a story type (e.g. a quiz)
Click the drop-down menu that appears when you hover over the top right corner of a story you want to remove from your stream. Then, select an option from the drop-down menu:

  • “Hide story” will remove the individual story
  • The “Hide all by” and “Unsubscribe from” links will remove the post and prevent all future stories from a person, Page, group, event or app
  • “Report story or spam” will remove the post and help keep your News Feed clear of similar stories in the future

Unhide stories from a person, Page, group, event or app

  1. From your home page, hover your mouse to the left of the left side News Feed menu.
  2. Select Edit
  3. A list of people, apps, Pages, and groups you’ve hidden or unsubscribed from will appear in a pop-up box. Click the X next to each one you’d like to remove from this list. Removing someone or something from your list of hidden stories means those stories can appear in your News Feed again.
  4. Click Save.
The first option listed by Facebook is to control what you see with lists. Of course we’ve always had the option of creating lists, but, now, Facebook is making them even more important. Ready? Here is how to create lists for your favorite pages.




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For purposes of this post, we will be using the term keywords to refer to words and phrases on a webpage not the words in the “keyword” meta tag.

Marketing Titan says:

Generally, keywords can be defined as a word or words identifying something on a page. More accurately, however, keywords can be defined as the specific terms used by a person to search for something on the internet. In general, you want to identify the phrases being used to search for your product or service and then incorporate those in your Internet marketing.

Keyword Importance

Keywords are important because keywords are what lead people using search engines to your website. So, choosing and using the right keywords on your website is extremely important for higher search engine rankings.

How to Choose Keywords

To choose the right keywords, first analyze your business carefully and think of all the words and phrases that relate to your company, product or service that people may use to find you on the internet. Then, use a keyword tool such as Google’s Keyword Tool to determine which keyword phrases are being searched the most.

After you determine a particular keyword phrase to use on your web page, sprinkle that phrase within the content of that web page. You should not use more than one or two keyword phrases on a web page.

Other places to use your keyword phrase:

  • HTML Page Title
  • Text (content) of the Page
  • Meta Description
  • Meta Keywords
  • ALT Tags
  • URL name

Selecting the wrong keyword phrase or not selecting a keyword phrase at all can cost you dearly in the search engine rankings.




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How Are You Surviving the Economy?

by Christi on September 8, 2011

Surviving the economyReading the news can be kind of a depressing proposition these days. Some have said that this is a great time for those who have lost their jobs to start their own business. Of course, starting your own business may not be the best idea for all. Here are some of the myths that you need to be aware of:

Myth 1: You can be your own boss. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once your start your own business, you actually increase the number of “bosses” you have because, now, all of your customers are your boss. Now, instead of just keeping one or two bosses happy, you have to keep all of your bosses happy because they are the ones who decide whether or not you will get paid!

Myth 2:  You can set your own hours. While you are working for a regular employer, you probably worked set hours. When you own your own business, you have to work whatever hours are necessary to get everything done. Especially in the beginning when you probably won’t have employees to help you, you are it. You do everything. That often means working long hours, weekends and holidays.

Myth 3: I have always loved cooking/making dolls/fishing… Now I will get to do what I love all the time. While you will get to spend some time getting to do what you love, you will also spend a great deal of time running your business. That means doing things like management, marketing and bookkeeping among others. Running a business is more than just making a product or providing a service. It is much more, and that is something you need to keep in mind.

Myth 4: I will get rich because instead of working for someone else, I get to keep all the money myself. Unfortunately, most businesses will have a hard time making any profit in the first year because they will need to be putting any money they make back into the business. They will need to invest in their own business to keep it going and improving.

Over 90% of start up businesses fail. That may be because they believe the myths. So, what can you do? If you still have a job and you are thinking you would like to own your own business, start small and do it on the side. Try it out first. If you do not have a job, think about what your product or service offers to your target market. Do research. By the way, the best source of new business research can come from your local small business development center.

Learn how to connect with the people who may be interested in your product/service. Use social media to connect with everyone you know that may support you in your effort. Consider how inbound marketing can help you reach people who would not otherwise know about you. Inbound marketing is all about being there when people are looking for you. When you can, get some help with your inbound marketing. Get someone to help you get found. Start blogging about what you offer. Start coming up with compelling offers for your target market.

This truly is a challenging time. What are you doing to survive and thrive? Would love to hear your ideas.

Get a free 30 minute inbound marketing consultation.

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Looking for Internet Marketing Training?

by Christi on September 1, 2011

internet marketing trainingTechnology information can be quite overwhelming. In fact, new technology information doubles every 2 years! According to former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 may not have existed in 2004. The knowledge a technology student in college learns in their first year will be obsolete by the time they graduate.  Karl Fisch tells us, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented yet, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

In early 2004, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Yelp and Twitter didn’t exist yet. At that time, WordPress and MySpace were the newest kids in town. While MySpace has declined, WordPress continues to grow and, at this time, over 50% of new websites being developed today are built on the WordPress platform.

Technology has certainly changed the way we do business. Three years ago, we used to say, “If you don’t have a website, your are invisible to a lot of your customers.” Now we say, “If you don’t have a website, a social media presence and a comprehensive internet marketing strategy, you will be left behind.” The ROI of learning about and effectively using internet marketing is that your business will still exist in the years to come.

What are today’s businesses to do? It seems that we are overloaded with so much new information and so many new opportunities, it’s just hard to make sense of it all. I think author, Corbin Ball has it right, “Information is cheap, the value is in wisdom.” Businesses need someone to help them break down the information and show them how to make new technologies work for them.

Businesses have some options. One is to seek out training from your area’s Small Business Development Center. These centers often offer great training. I am one of the speakers for the SBDC at Arkansas State University. I am always impressed by the center director, Herb Lawrence. Herb understands the need for businesses to keep up with technology. If the center director in your area is as savvy as Herb, you may be able to find some great group training that will help you.

Another option is to obtain in-house training. This is something that Wharton Marketing now offers. We spend several hours per week on education in the latest and most effective internet marketing technologies and techniques that are available. Because of my background in training and education, it is a natural choice for me to turn around and teach others what can help their business.

It may be that your business needs to learn how to use Facebook effectively or how to integrate social media into your marketing plan. It may be that you need training on how to update your website. I can come to your business and work with your team to train them on the best in internet marketing. I can also speak to your association or convention about internet marketing.

There are two opportunities that you can take advantage of today.

  1. Go check out my speaking page to see some of the past topics that I have trained and get more information about how internet marketing training can help you and your business.
  2. Register for the ASBTDC seminar that I will be teaching on September 27th on Website Strategy and Planning. Just click on the “register” button below.




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How to Succeed

by Christi on August 10, 2011

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great! Don’t know who originally said that, but it is very true. We help businesses get found on the web and convert visitors into qualified leads for their business. We use proven methods that absolutely work. But, nothing works if you never start! Proven methods also don’t work well if you get started and then quit because you think they aren’t working fast enough.

It seems that some businesses are too busy looking for a magic bullet that will miraculously save them, while they should just get down to doing the real work that will yield results. Will you get results overnight? No, you won’t. Is there something that is a magic bullet, that will make you rich overnight and solve all of your problems instantly? No, there isn’t.

Technology is wonderful. It has provided us with ways to communicate and connect with our target market that was simply not ever possible before. But it has also made us impatient. We want guaranteed, fast results and we want them yesterday! Unfortunately, our impatience can cause us to give up too soon. Although we have a virtual persona, we still live in the real world where consistent, hard work still pays off.

Part of the methodology we use that is most effective and rewarding is blogging. It is also one of the most difficult because it is time consuming to do the research and then sit down and actually do the writing. However, sharing knowledge is not only helpful to other businesses (hopefully), it is also good for helping them find us online. We actually love helping businesses succeed whether they use our services or not. We write this blog to share business and marketing ideas that we know work. Successful businesses help all of us!

Last year, we were blogging occasionally. In December of 2010, we started using HubSpot software and in February of this year, we completely moved our site to the HubSpot CMS and started consistently using their methodology which includes regular blogging. Here is what has happened since February:

Marketing StatsThe darker green at the top of the graph is organic traffic that has found us through search engines. Did our traffic grow overnight? No! Have we felt discouraged at times? Yes! However, we remained committed and have consistently put in the time and work to keep pushing through. HubSpot is both a tool and a process. Just like any tool, if it is just sitting in the drawer, unused, it is useless. And like any process, if you don’t follow the steps, it doesn’t work.

If you are looking for a magic bullet, just stop! There is no magic bullet. Start making a plan for success with realistic goals and methods that will work. As my daddy used to say, “Plan your work, then work your plan.”




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How To Be Remarkable?

by Christi on August 4, 2011

Be RemarkableI was reading Joe B.’s post yesterday that talked about website design and being remarkable and easy to use. It got me to thinking. What does it mean to be remarkable. What does it mean to be creative? That brought me full circle back to being useful and making things easy. Making things easy is what is remarkable. It is what drives innovation.

Think about how many innovations have occurred to make things easier. The light bulb makes it easier for us to read and live after the sun goes down. Ever had your electricity go out after dark? Those candles and flashlights just don’t get the job done quite as well. How about the microwave. Microwaves make it easy and fast to heat up/cook food.

The telephone made it easier for us to connect with our neighbors and friends and family and even easier to contact help in case of emergencies. Now, we have cell phones that help us stay connected all the time. We used to have to dial numbers on rotary phones. Think about how long that took compared to today when you just look at your contact list and tap a button or speak a name and it calls them automatically.

When the internet was invented, it wasn’t intended to be used as it is today, but innovation took over and has driven us to where we are now. We can now connect so easily! Ease of use is what drive innovation!

How can you be remarkable? Make things easy! Can you streamline your product? Can you make it faster, smaller, easier to use? Maybe you provide a service. What can you do to make things easier for your customers? Can you provide better, faster service with more attention to detail? How many times have you stood in a checkout line and thought, “There must be a better way?” How many times have you needed information and had a difficult time finding it? How many times have you started a project and discovered you didn’t have all the tools you needed?

Sometimes, don’t you just think, “There must be and easier way!” Do your customers think that about your products and services? Okay, here is your chance to be remarkable – just figure out a way to make things easier!




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