Inbound & Digital Marketing Blog

Michael Karp

Lead Generation Strategist at Inbound Team
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You're Closer To Inbound Out Marketing Than You Think

Posted by Michael Karp

July 7, 2015

Your digital marketing strategy probably looks something like this:

  • You take out pay-per-click ads to drive traffic from search engines and social media

  • You write guest articles on other sites to get more exposure

  • You invest in SEO and try to rank for important keywords in your industry

  • You drive traffic and increase conversions on your website

This is great. You’re doing what you’re supposed to do.

However, you might be missing out on a buyer-focused marketing process that could exponentially increase your leads. It’s called Inbound Out Marketing, and you might actually be closer to it than you think.


Inbound Out Marketing combines inbound marketing with targeted outreach. This outreach is laser-focused to your ideal prospects. It fills the gap that other digital marketing strategies may miss, because many prospects do not hang out in the traditional online channels.

Here’s the thing:

Your sales team is probably already doing targeted outreach. Your marketing team is probably creating content and finding prospects.

But they’re not combining their efforts as effectively as they could be. That’s why you’re close to Inbound Out Marketing, but you’re not quite there yet.

Let me show you why:

How Your Sales Team is Close to Inbound Out Marketing

Salespeople are masters of converting leads into customers. They reach out, they identify wants/needs, and they close the deal.

Your sales team is conducting targeted outreach. They get a list of potential customers and contact each one to weed out the tire kickers from the devoted customers.

Their outreach is effective, but it’s not as effective as it could be. You see, these leads don’t have a strong connection to your business yet. Your customers will eventually have this connection, but your leads don’t.

This lack of trust makes it more difficult for your sales team to close. It’s a snag in the marketing/sales funnel.

But you can remedy this by moving some of that targeted outreach over to marketing. This will make your sales team even better at what they do, and your marketing team will become a stronger asset to your business.

How Your Marketing Team is Close to Inbound Out Marketing

Marketing has one primary job: Generate leads.

But they also have many secondary jobs:

  • Get your business in front of potential buyers

  • Execute various online marketing strategies

  • Interact with potential customers after they find your business

  • And much more.

To do this, they probably create valuable content in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics, webinars, etc. This content is one of the best ways to attract prospects.

But they’re missing one key ingredient.

Your marketing team is only engaging prospects once they have found your business. They lack the targeted outreach to find potential customers who are not actively seeking you out.

These prospects aren’t on social media, they aren’t Googling your services, and they’re not trying to find you. Heck, they may not even know your service exists. (This is especially the case in specialized markets.)

You can fill this hole in your lead generation by adding targeted outreach to your marketing strategy. In other words, Inbound Out Marketing.

It involves reaching out to prospects with useful content, establishing a connection with your business, building micro-rapport, and ultimately developing a relationship with your company.

Then these leads are sent over to Sales, where they are much warmer than they ever would have been before.

Your sales team is more effective. Your marketing team is more effective. And your business grows at an astounding rate because of it.

What To Do Next

To find out more about how Inbound Out Marketing can grow your business, here are a few resources to check out:


  • You might be missing out on a buyer-focused marketing process that could drastically increase your leads -- Inbound Out Marketing.

  • Both your sales and marketing teams could benefit from adding this process to your strategy.

  • This helps your business grow faster and more efficiently.

Topics: Lead Generation, Blogging, Inbound Marketing

5 Ways to Optimize Your Site for Lead Generation

Posted by Michael Karp

June 30, 2015

Lead generation is a crucial part of any business’s success. Those leads turn into customers, clients, and brand ambassadors.

But too many businesses make one fatal mistake in their lead generation efforts:

They don’t optimize their website to capture leads before driving traffic.

They create content, promote it around the web, and drum up some buzz, but that traffic comes and goes. Those visitors don’t stay long enough to check out their products/services (let alone buy them).

The fact of the matter is most people who visit a website aren’t ready to buy yet, but they might be in the future. That’s why you need a way to contact them, stay in touch, and remain a part of their lives.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Site for Lead Generation 

Amazon does this by making you create an account. This is how they email you deals and promotions.

Software companies usually offer a free trial. They collect an email address or phone number when you download, so they can follow up with you later.

Countless other businesses find ways to get that contact info and generate leads. Now you’re going to learn how to do the same thing.

Here are the five tactics you will learn to optimize your site for lead generation:

  1. Lead magnets

  2. Landing pages

  3. Pop-up forms

  4. Content upgrades

  5. Sidebar and end-of-post opt-in forms

Let’s get started:

1. How to Create Lead Magnets that Convert Prospects

Lead magnets are free gifts that are given away in exchange for contact info. They could be ebooks, checklists, free trials, quizzes, mindmaps, videos -- anything prospects would find valuable.

Before creating these lead magnets, you need to know who your ideal prospects are and what they will find valuable. Use our Precise Prospect Profile Kit to help discover who your ideal prospects are.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Lead magnets are targeted to your ideal customer/client. Here are a few examples:

Their value should be high enough so prospects are willing to exchange their contact information, but not so high that they take away from the value of your paid products and services.

Lead magnets should follow a few criteria:

  1. They’re quick to consume and attain value from. 10 minutes or less.

  2. They can be delivered online automatically (usually through an email service or redirection).

  3. They naturally lead into your products and services.

With each of the following four tactics, you will be offering a lead magnet to your prospects. Let’s check them out:

2. Use Landing Pages to Hyper-Optimize Lead Generation

Landing pages have one goal: Convert prospects into leads.

Landing pages are designed so that every aspect compels a visitor to opt in and download the free resource (or lead magnet).

A well-optimized website has landing pages sprinkled all over. According to a HubSpot study, businesses with between 31 and 40 landing pages got 7x more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages.

Here are some landing page best practices to follow:

  1. Remove site navigation from the page. You only want your prospects to be faced with one decision: Whether or not to opt in.

  2. Include a prominent call to action button.

  3. Use bullet points to outline the main benefits of opting in and downloading the free resource.

  4. Split test including/excluding certain elements, like testimonials, trust symbols, security symbols, certifications, and other aspects that can improve your credibility.

Once you have your landing pages set up, it’s time to spread them around your site. Link to them in your navigation bar, footer, and sidebar.

You might also want to share your landing pages on social media and generate leads that way.

3. Harness the Conversion Power of Pop-Up Forms

Many people despise pop-up forms.

  • They think they’re annoying.

  • They think pop-up forms diminish user experience.

  • They associate them with spam ads.

In some cases, these feelings are understandable. However, in terms of capturing email addresses, lots of case studies show that they can do wonders for your lead generation efforts.

Take a look at these numbers:

  • Visual Website Optimizer got a 50% increase in free trial sign ups by using a pop-up form on their home page. (case study)

  • WPBeginner increased email signups from 70-80/day to 445-470/day with pop-up forms (a 600% increase). (case study)

Those increases in sign ups (especially with WPBeginner) mean massive changes in their lead generation from that day forward.

Depending on your content management system and how your site is set up, the installation process of a pop-up form will differ. But due to the results other people are getting, it’s well worth testing on your site.

Analyze your sign ups for 30 days without a pop up form, and analyze them for 30 days with one. Then take a look at your user experience metrics in relation to the leads you’ve generated.

This will help you decide whether a pop-up is right for your business.

4. Upgrade Your Content to Capture Even More Leads

Content upgrades are powerful lead generation tools. Bloggers and solopreneurs have been using them with great success to build their email lists, but bigger businesses haven’t caught on yet.

This is where you can get a leg up on your competition.

Content upgrades are lead magnets that are targeted to a specific piece of content. Just like regular lead magnets, they can be checklists, mindmaps, videos, etc.

However, they help the reader get even more value out of the specific article they’re reading. So instead of a site-wide lead magnet, content upgrades are article-specific.

Why are they so effective?

Well, for one, they are hyper-targeted to the reader. Answer this: If someone is already reading an article on lead generation, will they be more likely to want an ebook on the benefits of inbound marketing or 5 extra strategies to generate leads?

They’d be more likely to want those extra strategies, because this content upgrade provides value over and above what they’re already reading (AKA what they’re already interested in).

You can deliver a content upgrade just like any other lead magnet, with one little twist:

  1. Create a landing page for your content upgrade.

  2. Make sure the resource can be delivered to subscribers automatically, either through email or by redirecting them to the correct page.

  3. Link to the landing page within your article.

  4. Include a benefit-rich call to action that compels the reader to opt-in and download your content upgrade.

If you create a content upgrade for each article you publish and drive traffic to, you can increase your lead generation substantially.

5. Sidebar and End-Of-Post Opt-In Forms

These are the two classic places to include opt-in forms:

  1. Your sidebar

  2. The end of your articles

As email opt-ins have gotten more popular, people have become more desensitized to these opt-in forms.

(That’s why other techniques, like pop-up forms and content upgrades, have become more effective.)

That being said, you should still include these on your site. As long as people are still opting in to them, you can generate leads. In other words, if you exclude opt-in forms in your sidebar and at the end of your posts, you could miss out on email subscribers.

But you do want to make sure these forms are as effective as possible. Here are a few best practices to follow:

  • Give each form a specific benefit for opting in. Quickly describe the lead magnet they’ll receive.

  • Make them stand out. Use an interesting design.

  • Make your call to action button prominent.

  • Make it quick and painless to opt-in. Simply ask for an email address.

Wrap Up

If you follow the steps in this article, you’ll avoid the one crucial mistake that far too many businesses make--they drive traffic before optimizing their site to capture leads.

This is a crucial mistake for a reason. They’re leaving quality business opportunities on the table!

These strategies can be implemented in one morning or one afternoon, and you can reap the benefits for the life of your website.

Have you tried any of these strategies? Which ones are you going to implement?

Let me know in the comments below.


  • Optimize your website to generate leads before driving traffic.

  • Use lead magnets, landing pages, pop-up forms, content upgrades, and sidebar/end-of-post opt-in forms to collect contact information.

  • This will help you avoid leaving quality business leads out on the table.


Topics: Lead Generation

3 Ways Targeted Outreach Boosts Your Sales Team

Posted by Michael Karp

June 23, 2015

Targeted outreach is part of a new inbound marketing philosophy — Inbound Out marketing

This philosophy takes the best parts of sales and incorporates them into marketing for a more effective approach.

Why is this approach more effective? Well, that’s what you’re going to learn in this article.

Specifically, you’ll learn how targeted outreach through inbound marketing helps your sales team become more effective.


Here we go:

1) Leads Are Warmer When They Reach Sales

Targeted outreach involves your marketing team reaching out to prospects and establishing initial contact. The goals of this contact are to:

  • Establish trust

  • Build a relationship

  • Develop micro-rapport

  • Introduce your content

Through this process, these prospects become accustomed to interacting with your business. They get to know your expertise and what you can do for them.

They also get introduced to your products and services, while building an interpersonal relationship with someone at your company.

By the time these prospects reach your sales team, they already know, like, and trust your business. Your sales team doesn’t have to shoulder the burden of achieving this anymore. It’s taken care of before a representative even picks up the phone.

2) Your Sales Team Becomes a Guide

Targeted outreach leads to warmer prospects interacting with your sales team. This means your sales team doesn’t have to “sell” and pitch your services as hard as they used to.

(Hint: Today’s prospects aren’t as receptive to this anymore, anyway.)

Your sales team is still an expert on your products and services. This is where their true selling power lies.

They become a guide. When speaking to prospects, their job is to uncover problems that your leads are having. They then use their expertise to determine how your products and services can help.

Your sales team doesn’t have to pitch. They can become guides who show prospects the best path for them to take.

3) Prospects Already Know What They Want

One of the goals of targeted outreach is to introduce your products and services. Prospects trust your authority through the content you produce, and they get introduced to your services naturally through calls-to-action on your website.

This process helps them decide which of your products/services could be right for them. They typically decide on one (or a few) that they might be interested in.

When they reach your sales team, they already have this list prepared. All they need is more information to help them make the best decision possible.

This makes your sales team’s job much easier (and more effective). People don’t want to be sold to. They want to be helped.

The most effective route for your sales team to take is to help prospects as much as they can. And it all begins with a targeted outreach campaign that warms prospects and introduces them to your business.

Wrap Up

Targeted outreach is one of the most effective ways to introduce prospects to your business. But it also provides benefits further down the marketing/sales funnel.

These prospects are warmer when they reach your sales team. Your sales team’s job now becomes that of a guide rather than a salesperson.

Why does this work?

Because today’s prospects are more receptive to being helped than to being sold to.


  • Through targeted outreach, leads are warmer when they reach sales.

  • Your sales team guides prospects, rather than sells to them.

  • Prospects already know, like, and trust your business. This is what leads to a more effective sales process.


Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales & CRM

How to Get Your Sales Team to Use Inbound Selling

Posted by Michael Karp

June 18, 2015

The buying process has changed. Prospects don’t want to be pitched to by sales people anymore.

They do their own research. They weigh their own choices. They already know what they want before they talk to your sales team.


This calls for a new type of selling. It involves guiding prospects down the path they’re already on, rather than showing them the path.

It’s inbound selling -- a focus on educating the buyer through the sales process. Your sales team needs to adopt this methodology to be an effective asset as the sales landscape continues to change.

Here’s how to get your sales team to use inbound selling:

Teach Your Sales Team How to do Pre-Contact Research

Know your buyer as well as they know themselves. In fact, get to know them better than they know themselves.

This type of knowledge gives your sales team the power to help prospects. That’s one of the key differences between inbound selling and traditional sales. You’re not trying to convince prospects to become customers. You’re trying to help them make the best decision possible.

How do you do this? With pre-contact research.

Teach your sales team how to research prospect’s wants, needs, and pain points before getting in contact with them. This could involve scouring online forums for information. It could involve paying attention to discussions on social media. It could mean looking up a prospect’s LinkedIn profile to gather specific knowledge about their background.

Every piece of information your team can gather helps the sales process become a much better experience for your prospects (and leads to better results for your bottom line).

Know the Right Time to Call Prospects

In a previous article, I discovered that it’s best to contact a lead within 5 minutes after lead generation.

  • After they’ve downloaded an ebook

  • After they’ve started their free trial

  • After they’ve opted in to your blog

If you can’t contact a lead within 5 minutes, you want to get in touch sometime within that first hour. This also gives your sales team time to conduct pre-contact research.

However, during these calls, your sales team needs to act in an inbound way rather than a sales way. What do I mean by that?

In general, it’s about the types of questions that are asked and the ultimate goal of these calls. For example, inbound questions usually contain the word “help.”

“I see you downloaded our lead generation ebook. Do you need help with anything?”

The focus is on identifying your prospect’s biggest challenges and showing them how your business can be of service. It’s less about the products/services and more about the prospects.

The key is to really know your prospects. If you need help putting that together, download the Precise Prospect Profile Kit. 

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Have your salespeople keep in mind that they are advisors who happen to know a lot about your products/services. If they can identify problems that your products/services can solve, that’s when they start discussing them.

Don’t Try to Force Sales

Here’s the thing:

Getting the sale is always a good thing. But there’s also an opportunity cost involved.

When your sales team tries to force sales on bad leads, these interactions usually last abnormally long. Even if they do get the sale, that time could have been spent on higher quality leads, meaning they could have gotten multiple sales in that same time frame.

If the lead doesn’t have problems your business can help them with, or they’re simply not ready to buy right now, make sure your sales team knows to postpone the interaction and move on to warmer leads.

Create a Seamless Buying Process for Prospects

What’s the ultimate goal? To make sales.

Who ends up buying your products and services? Your prospects.

Therefore, it makes sense to make the entire process as smooth and painless for these people as possible. No hassles. No gimmicks. Just a smooth ride to their destination.

Put yourself into a prospect’s shoes. What is this person expecting? What would make their life easier?

As you think about the process from your prospects’ perspective, you’ll discover different ways to make the buyer experience a more pleasant one.

Inadvertently, this also leads a more effective sales funnel.

Focus on the Buyer

Finally, it’s crucial to communicate to your sales team the importance of having a buyer-focused mentality.

It used to be that salespeople mastered the ins and outs of your products/services and that’s what gave them the power to make sales.

Not anymore.

Buyers already know about your business. They’ve done their research. Now they need a trusted advisor to help them along the way.

They need sales people who have their best interests at heart and can lead them to the right decision.

That’s inbound selling at it’s finest.



  • The buying process has changed. Prospects don’t want to be pitched to by sales people anymore.

  • Inbound selling is a focus on educating the buyer through the sales process.

  • To get your sales team to use inbound selling, teach them how to do it and why it’s so important in this era of sales and the buying process.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales & CRM

What Does Inbound Marketing Cost?

Posted by Michael Karp

June 11, 2015

A 2012 study found that inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads.

That being said, inbound marketing is not free. Even though the three main channels (blogging, SEO, and social media) are free to utilize, there is a cost for successful execution.

What Does Inbound Marketing Cost

That’s what we’re going to break down today. How much does this style of marketing actually cost? How big of a budget does it take to be successful?

Whether you’re considering inbound marketing or you’re already an active practitioner, these are important questions to answer.

I’ve broken this information up into two categories:

  • The cost of doing inbound marketing internally

  • The cost of hiring an agency to do it for you

Let’s get started.

The Cost of Handling Your Own Inbound Marketing put together a great overview of inbound marketing costs. We’re going to start with their ideas, then expand upon and update all the aspects of inbound marketing.


First, inbound marketing takes planning. You need to develop buyer personas, put together a content strategy, a promotion plan, etc. All of these make execution a smooth ride, but this planning takes time and labor.

Strategy and analysis will typically cost $1,000 a month if outsourced to an agency. The demand for inbound and digital strategists has been growing, and you want a top strategist.

The business results depend on having an excellent strategy, so this is not the place to trim your budget.


Content is the driving force behind inbound marketing. It’s how you attract prospects, nurture them, and eventually convert them into customers.

There are many forms of content, but the number one way to publish it is blogging. Blogging takes time and resources. Often, companies need to outsource their writing, and quality writing commands strong pay. But quality writing also attracts and converts leads at a higher rate.

Blog posts cost at least $1,600 a month (8 blog posts at $200 each). Eight posts per month is a minimum, and it's better to plan for twelve. So, $2,400 per month.

Premium Content, Landing Pages, and Nurturing Emails are also required. You want a website that delivers leads and keeps them engaged. Regularly create premium content like a PDF or Infographic, then design a landing page that captures the prospects information.

Select the key points from the premium content and create an email sequence. We're all busy. So send out the key ideas via email. This way, the prospects will get the message even if they never get around to reading the PDF.

Premium content requires writing, design, and layout. Budget $4,000 to $6,000 per piece including the landing page and email sequence. Develop new pieces monthly or quarterly, but keep on a regular schedule.

One of the goals of inbound marketing is to be found when your prospects are searching for information related to your business.

They can find this information on social media and online communities, but the first place they typically go is Google. You want to be one of the first businesses that pops up, and this involves search engine optimization.

On SEO, there's good news. Your investment in great content eliminates much of the work and costs of old-school SEO.

Still, you will need to budget $1,000 to $2,000 for an interactive engineer to maintain your website and keep your on-page SEO humming.

Social Media

Next up we have social media. This is where you will do significant content promotion and traffic generation.

But once again, there is a cost to manage these accounts and execute this promotion.

Social media marketing typically costs $2,000 to $3,000 a month.

You can do basic social marketing for less, but unless your competitors are doing nothing, this rarely works. We recommend you actively target influencers and even high-value prospects for direct outreach. 

You've done the hard work of creating content, so put it in front of the people who can sign a check or get others to become customers. The only catch is you can't automate this. All the outreach must be personalized. 

Total Budget

OK, so we're biased. We think hiring an Inbound Marketing agency gives most businesses a “fast track” to success. 

If you add up all the numbers above, you'll see that a bare bones budget is $8,000 per month. Our typical client invests $10,000 or more. We've tried to deliver results for less, but there's a tipping point between $8,000 and $10,000 per month where you really get a great ROI.

We see companies think, "Oh, I'll just hire a 20-something recent college graduate. They get all this online stuff." But, will they think strategically and will they have the business experience to turn your website into your best salesperson?

By hiring an agency, you skip the learning curve and head straight to the results you’re looking for. These people are experienced, they have a proven track record of success, and they’re ready to get started right away.

Even if you do make a modest hire, someone earning $40K per year, with benefits and overhead, they'll still end up costing at least $5,000 to $6,000 per month. And you'll have to train and manage them.

Unless you're with a larger company and can afford a full team of people, working with an Inbound Marketing agency is usually your best value. Even a very bright $40K to $60K employee can't be good at everything. And there are a lot of skills that are required. Strategy, project management, sales coordination, writing, editing, design, interactive engineering, social media, social prospecting. And, that's before you try to keep up with the Internet trends and new tactics that pop up every day!

The right strategy and tactics will vary from one company or industry to the next. Visit our Lead Investment Calculator for an estimate tailored to your specific situation.

Lead Investment Estimator

Wrap Up

In the end, the cost of inbound marketing depends on your business and its needs. It also depends on whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring an agency.

Make sure to do your research beforehand. And if you decide to go with an inbound marketing agency, choose an agency you trust and respect.


  • While Inbound Marketing is cheaper than outbound, it's still a lot of work. 

  • A minimum budget for Inbound Marketing is $100,000 per year—more for aggressive companies or companies with aggressive competitors.

  • Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire an agency, do your research.


How to Write Enticing Headlines

Posted by Michael Karp

June 6, 2015

Smart copywriters will tell you the headline is the most important part of an article, because if it falls short, no one will read your content. We know headline-writing is crucial, but why do some headlines fail, while others go viral?

Today, I’m going to pull back the curtains and reveal a process for creating headlines that entice visitors to click and read your content. Not only that, but you will get exact, plug-n-play formulas for creating headlines that are proven to get results.

Let’s get started.

What is The Ultimate Purpose of The Headline?

Whether it’s an article, an ad, or a sales page, the headline has a distinct purpose--to get the first sentence read. And the purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read, then the third, and the fourth; all the way to the end of the article or sales page.

But it starts with the headline, so the better the headline, the more people will read the article. Not only that, but the headline shows up on social media and search engines, so its effects extend much further than just your website.

So when writing headlines, keep in mind that you’re trying to get people to read the first sentence.

How to Master the Subtle Art of Headline Writing

Mastery of any skill takes one thing--practice. Those who achieve mastery deserve it because of the amount of blood, sweat, and tears they put into practicing that skill.

The same is true of writing enticing headlines, as our president, Clarke Bishop, discusses in this video on effective headline writing:

At Inbound Team, we suggest coming up with 10-20 headlines per article before picking a winner. This ensures that you have gone through enough permutations of the headline to pick the best one.

If you publish 5 articles per month and come up with 20 headlines for each one, you’re already practicing 100 headlines a month (or 1,200 a year). At that level, you’re well on your way to headline mastery, but here’s the kicker:

As your headlines improve, you’ll see concrete changes in how people interact with your articles — in the form of clicks, social shares, and traffic. That’s where the true fruits of your labor lie.

A Sneaky Trick to Write Viral Headlines

The importance of headline writing is relatively new to the blogging and inbound marketing world. However, it has been vital to the success of newspapers and magazines for as long as they have been around.

In all those years, they’ve gotten pretty good at writing headlines for articles that go viral. So what we’re going to do is mimic them.

Here’s how:

Head over to a popular magazine or online newspaper. How about BuzzFeed?

Here are a few headlines from the home page:

Let’s see if we can make some viral marketing headlines out of these.



13 Times We Wished Computer Shortcuts Existed in Real Life

Inbound Team:

13 Times You Wished People Clicked Your Headlines


9 Bizarrely Specific Myths That Every Culture Seems to Have

Inbound Team:

9 Bizarre Marketing Myths Everyone Seems to Believe


23 Things You Never Noticed in “Zoolander”

Inbound Team:

23 Things You Never Noticed About Blogging

I can see the social shares pouring in now. That’s how you can create powerful headlines by simply piggy-backing off the publications that have been creating these forever.

Now, let’s break down some headline formulas, so all you have to do is plug in your subject matter and you’re good to go.

7 Proven Headline Formulas That Work

1.  7 Proven [BLANKS] That Work

Everyone wants proven strategies that actually work. If you’ve got case studies and evidence to back up your claims, this is a great headline formula.

2.  How to [BENEFIT] and [BENEFIT]

“How to Win Friends and Influence People”

That book, by Dale Carnegie, has sold 15 million copies since 1936 and is one of the best-selling self-help books — ever.

One of the reasons why? If I had to guess, I would say it’s because he combined a “How to” headline with two benefits that almost everyone in the world wants to achieve:

  1. Make friends

  2. Influence people

Simple yet powerful.

3.  The Secret of [BLANK]

Everyone wants to know secrets. They involve hidden treasures that in business, can help you get a leg up on your competitors.

If you have a relatively unknown tactic or strategy to share, this headline could help it go viral.

4. The List Post

“15 Reasons Why Kale is Good For You”

“8 Ways to Cure a Hangover (Without Taking Pills)”

“32 Smart Inbound Marketing Strategies Your Competitors Aren’t Using”

List posts are great because they provide the reader a specific number of items they’re going to read. This prepares them for the length of the article before they even click it.

They might also click just because they’re curious about what each item is. List posts are, and always will be, effective pieces of content.


“More Customers: Get 20 Prospects Knocking on Your Door in 2 Days”

“Lose Weight: Shave Off 10 Pounds in 1 Week”

People want a specific benefit in a specific time period. This headline delivers both.

6. Why [BLANK] is [BLANK]

“Why Inbound Marketing is So Effective”

“Why Playing Basketball Makes You Taller (On Average)”

If you have something interesting to say, the “Why” headline is one of the best ways to get people to read it.

7. Announcing…

“Announcing a New Product That Reverses Wrinkles and Smoothes Skin”

“Announcing The Best Thing in SEO: No More Google Penalties”

People are naturally attracted to novelty and news. If you’ve just launched a new product or service, this headline will help you get it in front of people’s eyes.

Just make sure not to say “Announcing [PRODUCT NAME]” but rather “Announcing [PRODUCT BENEFIT]”.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it!

You know that the purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read. You also know that practice will help you master headline writing, and that you can use news sites and magazines to help you come up with viral headline ideas.

Finally, you’ve got 7 proven headline formulas to use whenever you get stuck. You’re on your way to writing enticing headlines that attract readers, get clicked, and get shared on social media.


  • The ultimate purpose of a headline is to get the first sentence read.
  • To write viral headlines, head over to online magazines or newspapers and use their headlines as templates.
  • When you're stuck, use headline formulas that are already proven to be effective.
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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing

Lead Management: How to Optimize Lead Engagement and Response Time

Posted by Michael Karp

June 4, 2015

Lead transition from marketing to sales often poses many questions.

How long until these leads are warm enough? What should happen before they’re introduced to sales? When is the right time for sales to engage with leads to maximize customer acquisition?


These are big questions that affect your bottom line.

Today, I’ve put together two distinct processes to help you determine the right time for your specific sales team to engage with leads. Here they are:

  1. A lead response management study (to break down exact numbers)

  2. The inbound marketing methodology

Let’s get started.

Lead Response Study -- The Exact Days/Times to Engage Leads published a study to determine the best day, time of day, and response time to contact leads to get the highest qualification ratios.

Their mission was to “fill the knowledge gap that exists between marketing and sales, where companies are using intuition and experience to manage lead response timing rather than science.”

They used data from, which generates and stores call data linked directly with lead process and flow information. They examined three years of data from six companies (that generate and respond to web leads). The study included over 15,000 leads and 100,000 call attempts.

Here are the results:

Day of the Week

The study found that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call to make contact with a lead (with Thursday being the top day).

Wednesdays and Thursdays are also the best days to call to qualify a lead (with Wednesday being the top day).

Time of Day

Between 4PM and 6PM is the best time to call to make contact with a lead.

8-9AM and 4-5PM are the best times to call to qualify a lead (with 8-9AM at a slight advantage).

Response Time After Lead Generation (Hours)

The odds of making contact with a lead drop 10 times after the first hour.

The odds of qualifying a lead drop 6 times after the first hour.

After 20 hours, every additional dial to contact a lead hurts your chances of qualifying that lead.

Response Time After Lead Generation (5 Minute Intervals)

The odds of making contact with a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour.

The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times. From 5 minutes to 10 minutes, the odds drop 4 times.

What does all of this mean?

Here are the takeaways from the study:

  1. Wednesdays and Thursdays will provide the highest response rate when making initial contact with a lead.

  1. When qualifying leads to nurture them into the sales process, they’re most receptive on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

  1. 4-6PM (end of the work day) is the best time to make initial contact with a lead.

  1. 8-9AM and 4-5PM are the best times to nurture leads into the sales process.

  1. It’s best to contact a lead within the first 5 minutes after lead generation, regardless of day or time.

  1. If you cannot make contact within the first 5 minutes, it’s best to make contact within the first hour.

  1. After 20 hours, each additional contact attempt hurts your chances of qualifying that lead.

How to Apply These Results to Your Business

These results are not universal. They come from 3 years of data and 6 companies.

However, it does show that tweaking your response times can have a significant impact on your sales team’s ability to get in contact with leads and nurture them into the sales funnel. (Just look at the discrepancies in the data between different days/times/response times.)

Use these results to test different contact strategies. For example, for one month, have your sales team make contact within the first hour of lead generation. Then analyze your sales.

Change that variable back to its original, and have your sales team attempt to qualify leads between 4-5PM every day for one month. Then analyze your sales.

Continue this process by leaving everything equal except for one variable (so you can determine that variable’s impact). After 6 months, you could have an entirely redefined sales strategy that has grown your sales by a vast percentage.

This is one way you can optimize the exact day, time, and response time for your sales team to engage with leads.

Let’s try another.

Using The Inbound Methodology To Determine Correct Response Time

Inbound marketing typically follows a 4-step process:

  1. Attract

  2. Convert

  3. Close

  4. Delight

To use this methodology to determine the right time for sales to engage with leads, focus on Attract, Convert, and Close.

The primary lead generator and nurturer in inbound marketing is content. Content is how you:

  1. Introduce prospects to your business in a non-intrusive way.

  2. Build your trust and authority in the space.

  3. Convert prospects into leads.

Make sure #1 and #2 have been accomplished before sales talks to your leads (the Attract and Convert steps). This is the “warming” process where prospects and leads become accustomed to your business’s presence in their lives.

They’ve already been introduced to your products and services. They know what you offer and the role you play as a provider. Now they just need a small push to become buyers and brand advocates.

That’s when it’s the right time for sales to engage with leads.


To Wrap It Up

We looked at two processes to determine when sales should start working its magic:

  1. A lead response management study

  2. The inbound marketing methodology

At Inbound Team, we advise combining both processes.

  • Test different times, days, and response times after lead generation.

  • Analyze your sales after each test and determine which time is best.

  • Make sure your leads are primed with valuable content that builds trust and authority before they talk to sales.

This creates a one-two punch marketing and sales strategy that grows your business.


  • The exact time for sales to engage with leads is different for every business.

  • It’s crucially important to test different response times, to make sure you’re not allowing valuable sales to slip away.

  • Before sales talks to leads, make sure your leads have been primed with useful content (by following the inbound methodology).


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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales & CRM

4 Steps to Generate Qualified Leads From Inbound Marketing

Posted by Michael Karp

May 28, 2015

Have you noticed?

Doing business online has changed drastically in the last several years. With the growth of social media, search engines, and the information available online, buyers have become much smarter about why and how they spend their money.

They don’t want to be sold to anymore.

4 Steps To Generate Qualified Leads From Inbound Marketing 

Many businesses have relied on commercials, print ads, tradeshows, and cold calls. Unfortunately these methods get less and less effective every year.

People have the power to research everything about a product or service before they buy it. They don’t want to hear sales pitches anymore. This changes the lead generation landscape:

How do you get qualified leads if prospects aren’t receptive to traditional marketing?

The answer is Inbound Marketing -- a marketing methodology based on providing value to customers first before presenting your products and services. It’s the best way to attract qualified leads online, and you’re about to learn how to do it.

Are you ready? Then let’s get started.

Step 1. Get to Know Your Ideal Customer

To market effectively, you have to know the prospects you’re targeting. This means gaining intimate knowledge of your audience’s personality and professional ideals.

Here are a few things you want to nail down:

  1. Their goals. What are they aiming for? What are they trying to achieve?

  1. Their biggest challenges. What’s stopping them from reaching those goals? (And how can your products/services help them?)

  1. Their strongest pain points. What do they complain about the most? Which issues would they love to have disappear?

  1. Common objections to your products/services. What is stopping them from pulling out their wallets?

Discovering this information involves diligent research. There are two types of research that you want to conduct: passive research and active research.

Passive Research

To conduct passive research, you want to dive into online hubs where your target audience hangs out. This is where they discuss their wants, needs, desires, and challenges -- the exact information you’re looking for.

Find forums related to your ideal customers. Head over to Quora and other Q&A sites. Hop on Twitter and search for conversations your prospects are having. Join Google+ communities and Facebook/LinkedIn groups.

In each of those online hubs, read through the conversations that are going on. Then jot down these three pieces of information: their goals, challenges, and pain points.

This information is marketing gold that will make your prospecting much more effective.

Active Research

Active research involves communicating with your target audience directly. You ask them insightful, open ended questions to find out all four pieces of information (especially common objections to your products and services).

Here are some methods to try:

  1. Send a survey to your email list.

  1. Respond to comments on your blog and ask people questions.

  1. Create a promotional deal for your products and services. Afterwards, contact the people who didn’t buy and ask them why they decided not to. (This will uncover common objections.)

  1. Contact people directly on social media and ask them if they wouldn’t mind giving their opinion on your product, service, blog post, etc.

Strategies like these will uncover your audience’s strongest pain points AND help prospects create a stronger bond with your brand.

Using all of this knowledge, you can create buyer personas that will permeate all of your marketing materials and lead generation.

For an example of a buyer persona and a complete guide to create your Precise Prospect Profile, download our kit.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Step 2. Create Content That Attracts Prospects

Too many marketers create content without thinking about their ideal prospects. They come up with articles ideas, write those articles, and publish them without considering which people they’re trying to attract.

But you won’t make this mistake. Why? Because in Step 1, you just gathered all of the information you need. By creating content that solves the same problems your prospects are having, you will naturally attract these people to your business.

All of your content ideas should be based around the goals, challenges, pain points, and common objections you found in the previous step.

However, you also need to base your content around your own products and services. Here’s the catch: your content should solve the same types of problems your products and services solve.

This is how you attract qualified prospects who are predisposed to want and need what you offer. If you help them fix the same types of issues your products/services do, these prospects begin to trust your authority in the space.

They trust that if your free content can help them solve this problem, your paid products and services will solve an even bigger problem they’re having.

Now you know how to create the right content, but how do you get it in front of your ideal customers?

This involves cunning content distribution.

Step 3. Distribute Your Content and Make Your Business Visible

It’s not enough to create content that’s targeted to your prospects. Not even close.

They won’t visit your website unless you distribute it in channels where they hang out. I mean, how else would they find it?

Distributing content the right way makes you visible on the internet. It makes it easy for your ideal customers to find you.

Your qualified leads are searching for solutions to their problems RIGHT NOW. These are solutions that your content, products, and services can solve. The #1 issue: they just can’t find you.


Here are four types of distribution you should take advantage of:

  1. Social networks

  1. Forums

  1. Search engines

  1. The Inbound-Out style of outreach

Social Networks

At the very least, you should share your content on each social account you have. This is the bare minimum to make yourself visible on the internet.

However, you should be doing much more than that. You should be reaching out to influential people in your space who have large followings and present your content to them. Odds are, if they like it, they will share it with their audience.

You should be reaching out to those same prospects you found on social networks in Step 1 and present your content as a great place to get more information.

You should head over to the Google+ communities and Facebook/LinkedIn groups and share your content with those people (because you’ve already qualified them to want and need it).

Social media marketing methods like these tap into the true viral power of social media and the benefits it can bring to your business.


Forums can be packed with your target audience. They exist to bring people with similar interests together to discuss those interests and help each other out.

They want to find and share amazing content with the community. Your content can elevate the community. All you have to do is share it there.

Here are three ways to do this:

  1. Create a thread that introduces your content. Then, link to your content at the end if they want to read more.

  1. Create a thread describing the main ideas of your content, and link to your content at the end if they want to learn more.

  1. Link to your content in the signature, then become active on the forum by answering questions and helping people.

Your content acts as the lure, but you have to cast the rod for it to attract people to your website.

Search Engines

Search engine optimization -- the process of creating assets that search engines like and want to rank on the first of their results.

This process still eludes many people, but it’s some of the highest quality traffic you can get. Where else are people naturally turning to again and again to solve the problems they suffer from most?

Here is a general process you can follow:

  1. Base each piece of content you create around a keyword with a high search volume.

  1. Scour the internet for link building opportunities. “Links” pages and weekly roundups are two of the best backlink sources.

  1. Reach out to the site owner and present your content as a nice addition to the page.

If your content is of high enough value (relative to the content already ranking for that keyword), and if you can build a solid amount of authoritative links, you give your content the best chance to rank on the first page.

Once it ranks, you get to reap the benefits of long-term, qualified traffic for as long as your content remains there.

The Inbound-Out Style of Content Distribution

Inbound-Out Marketing is a new marketing philosophy that involves active prospecting and outreach. It takes the best parts of sales and incorporates it into effective inbound marketing.

To distribute your content this way, you actively reach out to prospects. You establish micro-rapport by communicating with them directly, and you get in contact by phone and through personal emails.

Then, you present your content to them. This is where they can get more information if they need it, which will eventually expose them to your products and services.

Steps 1-3 will help you drive qualified traffic to your website because this process is based on helping people with the same types of issues that your products and services do.

However, these prospects might be qualified, but they’re not leads yet.

That’s where Step 4 comes in.

Step 4. Convert Qualified Traffic Into Qualified Leads

Your site must be optimized to capture the traffic that’s coming in. These people may have a need for your products and services, but they’re not convinced quite yet. They’re still wondering if you’re the one to choose.

To convince them, you need to be able to establish long-term communication. You need their contact information.

This involves incorporating 4 crucial elements into your website:

  1. Lead magnets

  1. Sign-up forms

  1. Clear calls-to-action

  1. Landing pages

Lead Magnets

Lead magnets are downloadable freebies that you give away in exchange for contact information. They typically come in the form of ebooks, but they can be checklists, free trials, mindmaps, spreadsheets -- anything that a prospect would find valuable.

These need to be sprinkled around your website to entice visitors to give up their contact information, join your sales funnel, and convert into leads.

But how do you facilitate this exchange?

You do it through sign-up forms.

Sign-up Forms

Sign-up forms are the gateways to your sales funnel. They facilitate the exchange between your lead magnet and a prospect’s contact information.

You need at least one of these for each lead magnet you give away.

Clear Calls-To-Action

A call-to-action lets a prospect know exactly what you want them to do and when you want them to do it.

“Sign Up Now For Immediate Access”

“Buy Now!”

“Download Instantly!”

These calls-to-action come at the end of each sign-up form. They let the prospect know that once their information is filled out, they must click this button in order to finalize it.

Landing Pages

Landing pages are the final piece of the conversion puzzle. They combine lead magnets, sign-up forms, and calls-to-action in one highly-optimized location.

These pages have one job: convert the traffic you’re generating into leads. Make sure your landing pages are easily accessible from every page of your website.

In Closing

Inbound Marketing is the best way to sell without selling. It leaves your prospect's lives uninterrupted by pushy sales pitches and ads. It allows them to slowly but surely build trust in your business.

By following this process, you become an asset to your prospects lives, rather than a burden. Not only that, but you attract high quality, qualified leads at the same time, which grow your business as well.


Follow this process to consistently generate qualified leads:

  1. Do in-depth research on your ideal customer.

  1. Create content that solves 1) the same problems your prospects are having and 2) the same types of problems your products/services solve.

  1. Distribute your content in multiple channels and use various outreach methods.

  1. Optimize your website to capture leads with lead magnets, sign-up forms, calls-to-action, and landing pages.


Topics: Inbound Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing

How to Use Micro-Rapport to Enrich Your Sales Funnel

Posted by Michael Karp

May 27, 2015

Many businesses have two main issues with their sales funnel:

    1. They struggle to capture leads

    2. They struggle to convert those leads into sales

Both of these issues stem from a major lack of one key ingredient. This part of the recipe is often missing in a marketing department’s repertoire, simply because they haven’t been exposed to it yet.


Salespeople typically reach out to leads and use their interpersonal skills to convert them. Since salespeople rely on these skills, they’ve honed them to a fine art.

Too many marketing departments, on the other hand, focus on getting as many prospects as possible over to sales. As soon as they detect interest from a prospect, they shovel them down the sales funnel.

This is a huge mistake! It’s a kink in the sales funnel, and it’s probably costing your company sales (and repeat customers).

How to Fix This Leaky Sales Funnel

So. How do you fix it?

You need to establish interpersonal communication with prospects across the entire funnel, not just when they hit the sales department. Some of those people skills need to transfer to the marketing department. It spreads out your communication with prospects.

This is called micro-rapport, and it acts to warm prospects from the very second they interact with your brand. Your marketing department becomes more hands-on. They start engaging in targeted, interpersonal outreach.

They establish rapport from the get-go, so when these leads eventually hit the sales department, they’re used to interacting with people in your business. It’s not foreign to them.

The Goal of Micro-Rapport

This is the goal of a micro-rapport based sales funnel:

Establish trust and open communication.

People buy from people and businesses they trust. Rapport builds trust. Communication builds trust. Blatant selling does not.

To incorporate this, we’ve established a system called “Inbound-Out Marketing.” This system takes the best aspects of sales and sprinkles them into your marketing interactions. It involves active social media prospecting. It involves email outreach with buyer-focused content.

This is marketing that’s quota-driven, and it’s the type of marketing that will raise the quality and depth of your lead generation ten-fold.

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So Should You Just Transfer Sales Over to Marketing?

Absolutely not. Micro-rapport will not work without a solid marketing foundation.

You still need intimate knowledge of your ideal prospect. This establishes a standard of communication across the sales funnel. It helps you identify the right prospects, not just any old lead who might make a good fit.

You still need a marketing department who understands that valuable and useful content is still the name of the game in digital marketing. Your business needs to provide value first before prospects will even consider you over your competitors.

This up front value can come in the form of discounts, deals, and promotions. But anyone who’s been exposed to inbound marketing knows that targeted content trumps it all.

Inbound-Out Marketing Takes This to a New Level

Traditional inbound marketing assumes that prospects are actively looking for your services through various channels (social media and search).

Then, it calls for creating content and distributing it in these channels to attract prospects and eventually convert them into leads and customers.

But what if your prospects don’t hang out in social watering holes? What if it’s the CEO who’s too busy to handle social media? What if your prospect’s needs are highly specialized?

Simply distributing content in these channels won’t cut it. Your marketing department needs to actively seek out these prospects, as well as engage in traditional inbound marketing practices.

They need to actively seek them out and establish micro-rapport throughout the interaction. A follow up email here and there. A request for a short phone call. A personalized introduction to a new piece of content.

This opens the lines of communication and builds trust, while exposing prospects to your products and services at the same time.

With a well-oiled inbound-out marketing system, this is how micro-rapport enriches your sales funnel, warms leads, and closes customers.


  • Establish interpersonal communication with prospects throughout your sales funnel
  • Use micro-rapport to build trust and open the lines of communication with potential buyers
  • Use inbound-out marketing to acticely seek out prospects who may not hang out in social watering holes

How to Edit Content: 9 Copy Editing Tips

Posted by Michael Karp

May 7, 2015

Ernest Hemingway once said: “The first draft of everything is sh*t.” Despite his potty mouth, I think he’s right.


Think about this: When you write an article and read it over for the first time, how many elementary mistakes do you make? Words are spelled wrong. Sentences don’t make sense. Commas are missing.

It’s chaos.

But after that first round of editing, the article becomes infinitely better. At least, that’s what you hope.

Well, hope no longer. I’m going to teach you 9 copy editing tips that will polish any content you edit.

You will learn how to edit consistently and effectively. Here we go:

1.  Don’t Forget The Purpose of Your First Paragraph

The purpose of the first paragraph is to get the second paragraph read. The purpose of the second paragraph is to get the third one read, and so forth.

When you’re editing, pay attention to how your article moves the reader along. Focus on how each paragraph compels people to read the next one.

2.  The 3 Parts of a Magnetic Intro

After the headline, your content lives and dies at the introduction. It needs to be as compelling as possible.

Here are the 3 parts to a magnetic introduction:

  1. Hit the reader early on with your most compelling idea.

  2. Break your intro in small paragraphs.

  3. Give the reader a subtle nudge towards the rest of your content.

Let’s break it down:

Hit the reader early on with your most compelling idea

At the beginning of this article, I discussed the mistakes we make in the first draft (and Ernest Hemingway agreed with me).

This is the most compelling idea: The first draft (usually) needs a ton of work.

Break your intro in small paragraphs

The first three lines of this article are one sentence each, and there are no more than two sentences per line.

Breaking your introduction into small paragraphs makes it easier to read. If it’s easier for people to read, they’re more likely to read it. Simple as that.

Give the reader a subtle nudge towards the rest of your content

I also included a slight nudge to keep people reading — with a benefit for reading and a call to action:

“You will learn how to edit content consistently and effectively.

Here we go:”

The three elements above make your intro work for you, rather than against you. It compels people to keep reading, rather than click the back button.

It’s really important to make sure these elements are present in your introduction.

3.  Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Entire Paragraphs (And Replace Them)

You’re not married to your first draft.

If a word, sentence, paragraph, or an entire section doesn’t fit well in the piece, remove and/or replace it.

4.  Watch Out For Words Like “Very” and “Really”

Are you very tired? Or are you tired?

Are you really hungry? Or are you hungry?

We use words like “very” and “really” in our everyday language to emphasize thoughts and feelings. However, in writing, they can actually diminish the power of the words that follow.

“I’m really happy you came. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.”

“I’m happy you came. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.”

As you edit, when you read a word like “very” or “really”, delete it and re-read the sentence. Then decide which sentence works best.

5.  Use This Simple Trick To Draw Readers In

Here’s the trick:

Break your paragraphs into fewer sentences.

Just like with the intro, this also improves the readability of the rest of your content.

Breaking up your paragraphs makes your writing easier to read. It’s easier for the reader’s eyes to identify words and stay on the correct line.

This is especially true of online content, because reading from a screen causes more strain on one’s eyes. A good guideline is no more than 3-4 sentences per paragraph, with most of your paragraphs at 2 sentences.

6.  Keep Word Choice and Your Topic In Sync

Our President, Clarke Bishop, demonstrates this very well in his Youtube video on editing content:


Word choice is important to both the flow and comprehension of your piece. You will find that as you read over your content, certain words will make you stop and re-read the sentence.

Odds are, those words don’t fit with the topic or they need to be replaced with a word that makes more sense.

7.  Simplify Your Sentences to Connect With More People

Studies indicate that the average adult reads at about a middle school to 9th grade level.

This means they might not understand (or want to read) complicated sentences and advanced vocabulary.

If you want to reach more people with your content, products, and services, simplify your sentences. Use words that are more common in everyday language.

The people with more advanced vocabulary won’t complain, and your content will connect with more readers.

8.  Use Subheadings to Break Up Your Content

Subheadings also make your articles easier to read. They give the reader’s mind a break every once in a while and help keep their minds from wandering off topic.

9.  Write In The Active Voice

Here’s an example of the passive voice:

“He was hit in the head by the ball.”

And the active voice:

“The ball hit him in the head.”

The active voice is easier to read and comprehend. But how can you tell whether you’re writing in the active or passive voice?

In passive voice, the subject (he) is being acted upon (was hit in the head).

In active voice, the subject (the ball) is performing the action (hit him in the head).

To identify the passive voice easily, look out for the word “by”. When you identify the passive voice, rearrange the sentence so the subject is performing the action.

Then decide which one sounds better.

10. Bonus Editing Tip: Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules Every Once In A While

While bad writing is distinct from good writing, sometimes it’s necessary to break a rule here and there. No sentence should be judged on its own, but rather, in combination with the sentences surrounding it and the piece overall.

If that means breaking a rule, so be it.

A Challenge For You

I have purposely left a few edits that could make the writing flow better.

Leave a comment below if you think you have found the mistake. Let’s see if you can get it right ;). If you can’t find the problems, leave a comment anyway, and I’ll send you the answer.


  • Good writing is a result of good editing.
  • Make sure to write a compelling intro that draws people into your content.
  • Refer to this list of editing tips whenever you need a refresher.

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Topics: Blogging, Content Marketing