Inbound & Digital Marketing Blog

Exactly When Did Marketing Stop Working?

Posted by Clarke Bishop

July 24, 2015

Marketing, well at least traditional marketing, stopped working in 2008!

The combination of the 2008 financial crisis and recession, plus the never-ending advances in technology, killed it.

Read on and I'll tell you exactly what happened.

My Marketing's Not Working Why?

Traditional marketing was never easy, but it did work. After all, people do need and want our products and services. Just get their attention and some will buy.  

Buyers used to keep Yellow Page phone books and other print directories handy. Not any more. Yellow Pages started to decline in 2008, and revenues are now just a fraction of early-2000 levels. Buyers have changed and don't do what they used to do.

No worries, prospects just moved to the web to find your business. Except the web changed. Apple launched the first iPhone in mid-2007. And by 2009, smartphone sales really accelerated.  By 2014, smartphone web use surpassed desktops for web searches. Technology changed and buyers don't do what they used to do.

At least prospects still rely on word-of-mouth referrals, right? Only, referrals changed. Social networking usage took off for most adults in 2008 and referrals went along for the ride. Of course, referrals still matter to many companies. But, you need to be on social sites to get great referrals. Buyers have changed and don't do what they used to do.

If you want even more data points:

  • The recession caused many businesses to rush to Google AdWords. Before 2008, you could buy many keyword clicks for 50 cents or less. Now, the same clicks cost $2 or more.

  • Before Google's Panda update in 2011, there were are bunch of SEO tricks that could get you easy traffic. Then Google put the Schemers and Scammers out of business, and they took out easy SEO, too.

  • That beautiful website you bought a couple of years ago still looks great. But, it's not setup for mobile devices and isn't "responsive." Google is now penalizing you for not having a “mobile-friendly” site.

Bottom Line: Buyers have changed and don't do what they used to do. Fast changes in web technology will keep changing the buying process, and you’ve got to keep up.

Buyers Have Changed - You Must Adapt

In many markets, buyers refuse to talk with a salesperson until late in their buying process. It used to be that your salespeople had all the relevant data. Not anymore. There's information on nearly any topic all over the web. Your sales team used to have control of the sales process. Now, the buyers are in charge.

There are a few exceptions, but they are hard to find. One of my business friends runs a waste management business. He's got a fleet of trucks that drive around and collect garbage, so he went looking for some Route Management software to maximize efficiency. The Routing software companies are all on the web, but their websites are bland and there's little information. My friend wanted to buy, but was frustrated. It won't be long before one of these companies discovers that buyers have changed, and they'll dominate their competitors.

What's a CEO to do?

Prospects and customers still crave useful information to help them run their lives and businesses. They want it on their terms and time schedule. Deliver quality education and they'll welcome talking to your salespeople—at least once they are ready for a sales call.

It makes no sense to resist the wave of changed buyers. Give them what they want. Create quality content (Information that's helpful, educational, and easy to read). Then, get the content in front of your prospects and customers.

And don’t forget your current customers. They want access to your knowledge, and they'll appreciate you for helping.

The method for creating and delivering quality content is called Inbound Out marketing. It provides affordable leads for nearly all business-to-business companies and for many consumer-oriented firms.

OK, but how do I get actual leads for my sales people?

Easy. You're being helpful and spreading your knowledge far and wide—prospects are paying attention. Add an offer to your content. To get the offer, prospects must provide their name and email address.

So now you can call and email like crazy? Well, no. The buyers are still in charge. You'll just waste the good will you've created.

Instead, create content and offers that pull prospects down the sales funnel. They won't go any further than they want. They are still in charge. You can't force it. Make them feel safe and add value.

Prospects who are qualified and have the budget will gladly move through your funnel. Even better, your sales team can focus on closing sales instead of prospecting and presenting.

How do I know this will work and will I get a good ROI on my marketing investment?

Digital marketing is very measurable which lets us carefully monitor what’s working and identify opportunities for improvement.

However, focusing on ROI is in some ways the wrong question.

Buyers have changed. If you want to stay in the game, you've got to have an Inbound Out marketing strategy and deliver quality content. Otherwise, your competitors will quickly make you irrelevant.

Digital marketing has become a cost of being in business. Like having phones or office space. When was the last time someone tried to calculate the ROI of office space? No one does because it’s a cost of being in business.

To learn how Inbound Out marketing can work for your company, get a free Lead Boost Review.

Schedule Lead Boost Review

Takeaways
  • Buyers have changed and don't do what they used to do.

  • Fast changes in web technology will continue to impact your business. Make sure you’ve got professionals on your team that can handle all the elements.

  • Inbound Out marketing delivers a framework to help you adjust to always changing buyers and get more good leads.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


A 7-Step Method to Find Untapped Keywords in Any Niche

Posted by Michael Karp

July 23, 2015

Keyword research is the first step in any SEO campaign. If you get it wrong, you could waste valuable time and resources trying to rank for impossible keywords.

If you get it right, you set yourself up to attract heaps of traffic your competitors don’t even know about.

Here’s why:

If you pick a keyword with a ton of search volume, but it’s very competitive, you’re going to spend a lot of time and resources to rank for it, with little traffic to show for your efforts.

However, if you find a keyword that your competitors haven’t discovered yet, you can optimize a page around it and end up ranking in days/weeks (rather than months).

A-7-Step-Method-to-Find-Untapped-Keywords-in-Any-Niche

The success of your SEO campaigns all starts with keyword research. And the holy grail is finding untapped keywords that allow you to rank quickly and easily.

I use a 7-step process to find untapped keywords. That’s what I’m going to walk you through today.

Let’s get to it:

Step 1. Find Your Topic

Let’s assume you want to create a piece of content, optimize it around a keyword, and rank for it in Google. Here are the top two results we need:

  1. Social shares

  2. Backlinks

Social shares give your content exposure, help with ranking, and provide social proof (which makes link building easier). Backlinks tell Google that other people/sites think your content is valuable, which tells Google that it’s worth ranking. Simple as that.

To get these results, you need to find a topic that is 1) shareable and 2) linkable. Here’s how to do it:

Head over to BuzzSumo and type in a topic related to your niche:

BuzzSumo shows you all of the content related to that keyword that has gotten the most social shares. Look at each piece and see if they’ve received a good amount of shares:

If they have, you have just found a topic that’s prone to attracting social shares. If that topic doesn’t get a lot of shares, simply search for another one until you find a topic that does.

Now you need to make sure this topic is linkable. To do this, head over to Google and do a search for that same topic.

Grab the URLs for each article in the top 10-20 results. Then plug each one into a backlink checker (like Ahrefs or SEO Spyglass). This will tell you how many backlinks each article has:

If the top ranking articles are attracting a lot of links, you’ve just found a linkable topic. Now you know that this topic is proven to get shared on social media, attract backlinks, and rank in search engines.

You’re already miles ahead of your competitors.

Move on to Step 2.

Step 2. Initial Keyword Research

This step is quick and painless. Plug keywords related to your topic into a keyword research tool (like the Google Keyword Planner).

Make sure the top keywords are getting at least 300-400 monthly searches. This range isn’t set in stone, but generally, this means you will get a fair amount of traffic for the work you put in.

Here’s an example:

(Note: If you’re using the Google Keyword Planner, don’t worry about the “Competition” column. This is paid advertising competition. Not how hard/easy it is to rank.)

If your topic is getting a fair amount of monthly searches, move on to the next step.

Step 3. Gather a Master List of Keywords To Fit Your Topic

Remember, you’re looking for untapped keywords that will be easier to rank for than the ones your competitors are targeting. This means you need to find a lot of potential keywords to analyze.

In this step, you’re going to pull together a master list of keywords to potentially optimize your content around.

Here’s how:

First, create a spreadsheet to record keywords and their corresponding monthly searches. Then brainstorm as many possible keyword variations of your topic as you can.

Plug these into a keyword research tool and pull up their monthly search volume. If any have a fair amount of searches, add them to your spreadsheet.

Then, do a Google search for the keyword with the highest search volume, and scroll down to the “Searches related to…” section:

Grab any search terms that might apply to your content, plug them into your keyword tool, and pull up their monthly searches.

Add any that get a good amount of search volume into your spreadsheet. If you’re using the Google Keyword Planner, don’t forget to also scroll down and sift through the keyword ideas that it generates for you:

Then search for another high-volume keyword, scroll down to the “Searches related to section…” and repeat the process. Keep doing this until the only new keywords you’re finding have a very small search volume.

This is your master list.

Arrange them in order of highest monthly searches to least. Your untapped keyword is most likely hiding in the top 20-30. All you have to do is find it.

Step 4. Competitive Analysis #1 - Domain Authority and Page Authority

The next three steps involve running competitive analyses on the top 20-30 keywords in your spreadsheet.

The first metric you’re going to look at is the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) of the top ranking results for each keyword.

Here’s how:

First, install the MozBar Chrome/Firefox extension. Then do a search for your first keyword.

Click the ‘M’ symbol in your toolbar. This will pull up data for each search result:

Take a look at the PA and DA for each result. The higher the numbers, the harder it will be to rank above those pages (in general). The lower the numbers, the easier it will be.

Record the PA and DA for each result into your spreadsheet.

Step 5. Competitive Analysis #2 - On-Page SEO

On-page SEO tells Google what your content is about. It also tells Google how relevant your page is to the target keyword.

One of Google’s top goals is to provide the most relevant results for any given search term. So here’s where you can make a stand with your content:

If the sites currently ranking for your keyword are not well-optimized for that term, you can optimize your content better than them and immediately get a leg up. Often, this can trump Domain and Page Authority (all else being equal, like backlinks).

Remember, on-page SEO is about relevance. Let’s see if you can make your page more relevant:

Do a search for each term once more, and look at the top 10 results. How many instances of the exact-match keyword do you notice? Look in the title, URL, and description.

If you don’t see many, that’s one opportunity to optimize your content better than them.

Next, scan each article and look at the keyword distribution. Look for exact-match keywords and keyword variations in the intro, body content, and subheadings.

Are they over-optimizing and/or under-optimizing for the keyword? If so, you can optimize your content better than them.

Move on to Step 6.

Step 6. Competitive Analysis #3 - Length and Depth of Content

Next, go to each each article and look at content length. Google wants to rank long content, because in general, it contains more information and is more valuable/relevant to what people are searching for.

You also want to look at how actionable each piece of content is. Are people doing a search, going to this piece of content, and coming out of it with more knowledge? Or is it only surface level information?

Actionable content also tends to get linked to and shared more often, so if you can create content that is longer, more actionable, and provides more value than what’s currently ranking, that’s another opportunity for you to outshine the competition.

Come up with a metric and record how these two levels of competition (on-page SEO and Content Length/Depth) stack up for each keyword. I usually use a scale from 1-5.

Then move on to the final step:

Step 7. Choose the Keyword With the Best Competition-to-Search Volume Ratio

Look over your top 10-20 keywords and the data you’ve complied. Identify the ones with the least competition.

Then look at those keywords and determine which one has the best competition-to-search volume ratio. This will give you the best ROI when trying to rank for this keyword.

That’s your untapped keyword.

Simply create your content, optimize it for that keyword, build backlinks, and you're on your way to a first page ranking and targeted search engine traffic.

To Wrap It Up

I hope this article gave you some insight into keyword research, but also how to strategically navigate your SEO campaigns.

It’s much easier and faster to rank for multiple, lower competition, lower search volume keywords than one high competition keyword (despite how many monthly searches it gets).

Spend some time on the keyword research process, because it makes the rest of your SEO campaign that much easier.

Takeaways

  • Keyword research is one of the most important parts of SEO

  • The success of your SEO campaigns starts with keyword research

  • Follow these 7 steps to find untapped keywords that are much easier (and faster) to rank for

 

To learn more about Inbound Out Marketing Strategy, and to get a complete evaluation of your situation, schedule a Free Lead Boost Review.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


Secrets of Successful Inbound Out Marketing

Posted by Kami Valdez

July 11, 2015

What kind of leads do you want? The kind of leads that seem qualified or the kind of leads that actually turn into buyers? 

Inbound Out Marketing combines inbound marketing with targeted outreach. It is the one, two punch your business needs. When you combine inbound marketing with targeted outreach, you reach more prospects, find more leads, and close more deals.

How do you know what will generate leads for your business? Keep reading and I will help you. If you still have questions, schedule a Lead Boost Review

Combining-Inbound-and-Outbound-Marketing-Successfully-InboundTeam

Inbound Out Marketing is not about getting likes or followers. It is a methodology to start conversations with qualified prospects and generate more leads.

Let's get started!

1. Plan your strategy.

If you haven't already, look at your ideal clients and develop a persona for them. Make sure you know the company size, type, job title, etc. that you want to target.

If you want to really develop your personas, use the Precise Prospect Profile Kit. The worksheet and template will help you discover everything you need to know about the ideal personas for your business. 

2. Develop marketing content.

If you don't have it already, develop content for each segment of your sales funnel. Create content that builds awareness--pulling your audience towards you, and content that compels your audience to act--building trust.

For top of the funnel prospects, write list posts. For middle of the funnel prospects, write "how to" posts. For bottom of the funnel prospects write posts that help answer your top sales questions.

3. Put together a targeted prospect list.

Find the appropriate prospects for your business. If you are not talking to qualified prospects, the chances of anyone turning into a customer are very minimal. 

Do an Advanced Search on LinkedIn by job title, location, company size, etc. to find your target prospects. Tag these prospects in LinkedIn and add them to your CRM.

4. Establish a meaningful connection.

Building meaningful relationships takes time. However, there are definitely some things you can do to save time. 

Once you have your list of target prospects created, and you are certain you want to connect with them, there are a few things you can do to make a good first impression:

  1. Look at which LinkedIn Groups they are a part of, join these groups and join in on the discussion. Be helpful by answering any questions you can or commenting on posts in those groups. This will help make you known to this prospect, and others as well.
  2. Most people that use LinkedIn will have a link to their website and Twitter profile. If they have a Twitter account, follow them and retweet some of their content. If they write a blog, share some of their content. 

Once you have done this a few times, send them a message through a group you share and let them know you are interested in connecting on LinkedIn.

5. Reach out to those prospects.

Once you have a list of prospects put together, and your prospect has accepted your connection request,  it is time to reach out. Targeted outreach gets your quality content directly to the right audience.

Send your new prospect helpful information and you will build the relationship. You will become a trusted advisor before they are ready to buy.

Send emails with links to content you have created--things they would find educational and helpful. Use your CRM and automate follow up tasks to stay top of mind. Remember, persistence pays off!

Still have questions? We love a good marketing challenge. Schedule a Lead Boost Review.

Schedule Lead Boost Review

Takeaways:

  • Inbound Out Marketing generates leads faster and reduces the cost per lead.
  • Combining inbound marketing with targeted outreach helps your team reach more prospects, find more leads, and close more deals.
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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Sales & CRM, Content Marketing


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.

 

BuzzFeed:

13 Times We Wished Computer Shortcuts Existed in Real Life

Inbound Team:

13 Times You Wished People Clicked Your Headlines


BuzzFeed:

9 Bizarrely Specific Myths That Every Culture Seems to Have

Inbound Team:

9 Bizarre Marketing Myths Everyone Seems to Believe


BuzzFeed:

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.

5. [DESIRED OUTCOME]: Get [BENEFIT] in [TIME PERIOD]

“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.

Takeaways

  • 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.
Did you know that the title to your LinkedIn profile is a headline? Let us take a few minutes to look at your headline and your entire profile and let you know what we think. Why not, it's free!
Free LinkedIn Profile Review 
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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


Where Are All The Good Prospects Hiding?

Posted by Clarke Bishop

June 2, 2015

If only I had more leads, I could really grow this business!Every CEO and Business Owner

Every CEO I know says that good leads are a bottleneck. So, where are all the good prospects hiding?

Where-are-all-the-good-prospects-hiding

All hidden prospects are not the same. In fact, there are three types of  evasive prospects, and your marketing approach needs to be different for each type.

Secretive Prospects

Secretive prospects are real buyers. They have a problem or pain and a budget to solve the problem. It’s just that they aren’t ready to engage with a salesperson. Not yet.

In 2012, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) estimated that “57% of the B2B buying process is complete before a prospect is ready to talk with a salesperson.” Others have different estimates and each market is certainly different. Still, it’s safe to assume that at least 50% and as many as 70% of active buyers are secretive. They are collecting information, filtering providers, and making their initial choices.

Secretive prospects are not open to engaging with your sales team. If you try to call them, they’ll avoid you. They won’t return phone calls and they won’t respond to emails. They’re just not ready.

As a business owner or CEO, you probably don’t like this situation. You’d like to believe that secretive prospects do want to hear from you. If only your sales team would work harder. After all, you have a great product or service that would make the prospect’s world so much better. Why won’t they listen?

Like it or not, here’s the reality. Before the information explosion known as the Internet, you did have a lot more control. You had all the relevant knowledge, and buyers had to come to you. Now, buyers have all the information they want, and they can access it whenever they want—right from their smart phone.

It gets worse. If you don’t connect with secretive prospects early in their buying process, it’s often too late once they come out of the shadows. What can you do?

Inbound Out Marketing

Inbound Out Marketing is the best option to engage early with secretive prospects. It’s inbound marketing combined with targeted outreach.

Secretive prospects want to learn about you on their own terms. So, help them out. Create blog articles, helpful guides, infographics, videos—whatever it takes to help prospects understand their situation and realize you are one of the market leaders. Focus on the prospect’s problems and questions. It’s about them, not about you. They aren’t ready for you. Not yet.

Back in the day, good salespeople used to provide a lot of education in the early part of the sales process. Now, you have to rely on your website to teach prospects about your overall product category and possible solutions. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on your solution too soon. Help prospects learn about their options. They will buy from you unless your company is not a good fit, so don’t worry about telling them too much and losing them.

Targeted outreach is the secret we use to get significantly better results. If you know and can discover your ideal prospects, contact them directly. Find them on LinkedIn or through other social sites and lists.

It’s essential that you have a very clear picture of your ideal prospects. Once you know exactly “who” they are, it gets much easier to find their hiding places. That’s why we developed our Precise Prospect Profile toolkit.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Once you’ve identified some ideal prospects, offer helpful information. It’s too early to sell, so don’t. Instead offer to send your special report regarding “Common questions about _____ (Your product category).” Prospects do want helpful information, and they’ll appreciate you for it. They just don’t want sales information, yet.

Your objective is to be a helpful resource and to be positioned as a trusted option once the prospect is ready to buy.

Wannabe Prospects

Wannabe prospects do have a problem—a problem you could solve. They just don't have enough pain or budget.  Wannabe's are earlier in the buying process, but many of them will become buyers, so they are still important targets. Their pain will get worse and they'll allocate budget for their next cycle.

Inbound Out marketing continues to offer a great option. However, the content and information Wannabe's need is different.

Wannabe prospects are higher up (earlier) in the sales funnel. Give them more general content like:

  • 5 trends this year in the _______ industry

  • Top challenges faced by people in the ______ role

  • How a top company solved the ______ problem.
    NOTE: This could be a case study involving your product, focus on the customer and their problem. Don’t make it all about your product.

This is great positioning for your sales team—you get to be the first company on their short list. They see you as helpful and have favorable feelings about your company. All your competitors will be fighting from behind.

Potential Prospects

Potential prospects are similar to your ideal prospects. They are in the right industry and the right jobs. You can expect some of them to become prospects at some point.

Perhaps they already have a solution that’s working or they are pleased with their current provider. Still, what’s working today may not be working next year. You want these prospects to know you.

The prospect’s company may be too small for your solution—at least for now. After they grow, they may be a fit.

You want to know these prospects and have them know you. When they do need you, you’ll already be positioned as an excellent choice. Even better, potential prospects fit your ideal prospect profile. That means they know others in the industry who are good prospects. Some of their friends may be secretive or wannabe prospects. You’ll get referrals from people who aren’t even customers yet. Potential prospects are influencers, so don’t ignore them.

Marketing to potential prospects is much like marketing to wannabe prospects. Create content for the broader industry. They’ll eat it up and love you for it.

Takeaways

  • Buyers now control the buying process. Companies and salespeople have to give up the delusion that they have any control. Instead adjust to this new situation and work to serve buyers.

  • Inbound Out Marketing is the best way to reach hidden prospects that are not ready or willing to engage with a salesperson.

  • There are different kinds of hidden prospects—Secretive, Wannabe, and Potential prospects. All are reachable through Inbound Out Marketing. All that needs to change is the content of your materials to best serve each type of prospect and to deliver the information they want.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


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.

Yet.

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

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.

Takeaways

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.

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


What Is Buyer-Focused Content and How Can You Use It?

Posted by Kami Valdez

May 21, 2015

How do you search for answers when you have a problem you need to figure out? If you're like me, you type your question into Google to find the information you need.

Your buyers do the exact same thing! Over 70% of buyers turn to Google to search for answers when they realize they have a problem and are trying to find a solution. Google processes over 3.5 billion searches a day!

However, not all the content those searches return is good. Content that focuses on a product's features, isn’t easy to find, and doesn't provide the answers to the questions buyers have, will drive them to find their answers elsewhere.

But if that content addresses buyer's needs, provides solutions to their problems, and differentiates from the competition by showing why a product or service is the perfect solution to their issues, buyers will devour it and crave more.

What-Is-Buyer-Focused-Content-and-How-Can-You-Use-It

Focusing on the needs of your buyers by having content that is both engaging and relevant is rewarded with their attention, and if buyers find your product or service to be a fit, their business.

But this kind of high quality content that is buyer-focused can be difficult to create. Below are 3 things you can do to create the kind of content your buyers will love!

#1  Know Your Buyers.

To create content that will attract and inform, you must understand who your buyers are, what they want, what they like, and what they dislike. To get information like this you need to spend time developing your buyer personas.

We have done a lot of the ground work for you with our Precise Prospect Profile Kit. It requires some work, but will be well worth the effort. The better you know your audience, the easier it is to create the kind of buyer-focused content you need to win their business.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

#2  Know Your Buyers’ Most Pressing Issue, Pain, or Desire.

Understanding the predominant problem that has brought your previous buyers to your door -- especially your best and most profitable ones -- will help you create content that attracts more of those kinds of buyers.

Invite and analyze feedback from these buyers to ensure more content is published around the topics that are affecting them. The better your understanding of what is driving people to seek out products and services like yours, the better your content will be.

#3  Talk About Benefits Not Features

Your content needs to focus on benefits, not features. It will fail if you use it to talk about the features of your product.

A feature is something that is in a product and a benefit is something your customer gets from a product. When you focus on telling your buyers about the most important benefits they will get from using your product or service, they won’t be able to get enough of the information you produce.

So there we have it, three things you can do to ensure you are creating content your buyers will love.

Creating buyer focused content includes: Understanding who your buyers are, knowing their most pressing pain or desire, and talking about the benefits they will get from using your product or service. Do this and you will create content that is buyer-focused that is valuable and engaging, and has the greatest potential of turning those buyers into customers.

Takeaways:

  • Develop your buyer personas to understand who your buyers really are.
  • Address your buyer's pain points and desires with your content.
  • Talk about the benefits your buyers will achieve by using your product or service.
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Topics: Blogging, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


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.

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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.

Takeaways

  • 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.

Have you edited your LI profile lately? Get a Free LI Profile Review.

 
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Topics: Blogging, Content Marketing


5 Steps to Win Content Marketing MVP

Posted by Kami Valdez

March 20, 2015

Are you playing to win when it comes to content marketing? The key to content marketing success is sharing valuable and interesting information, consistently, that draws in your readers and keeps them reading.

win-content-marketing-mvp

You need a game plan--a process to produce and consistently deliver information your readers will quickly devour. Below are the steps needed to help get you started on your own game plan and win with your marketing.

Follow these 5 steps to become a content marketing MVP:

1. Perform a Content Marketing Audit

Pull all your existing marketing collateral together, such as current web pages, printed material, slide decks, blog posts, advertising, brochures and any old material hidden away in filing cabinets or folders that might be put to good use.

Analyze what you have, how effective it’s been, and then consider what objectives you hope to accomplish. Ask yourself, “What is my goal?" With this knowledge, you can determine the gap between where you are and where you want to be and create the content you need to reach your buyer.

2. Create your Content Marketing Strategy

This will provide strategic direction on how your marketing content and content marketing processes will help you achieve your business goals. Your content strategy should be directly related to your business objectives and your customers’ needs.

You need to document your strategy. To properly plan content, you should clearly list the goals your business has and then prioritize them. Then, create objectives that help you reach these goals. Review your content and ask how well the content matches or serves these goals and objectives. Then you will have no problem creating meaningful content that achieves your goals because it stays on message.  

3. Develop Well-defined Targets

To make content marketing work, you need to understand who you are selling to. Your blogs, email marketing, white papers, videos, e-books, podcasts and advertising all need to speak to your buyer. The best way to keep visitors engaged with your site and company is to set business goals and then create content that helps you meet them. With your goals in place, you can create content that serves those goals.

Determine your target audience and build buyer personas or profiles for each sector you intend to target. You can then build an editorial calendar to plan the content you are going to deliver to each audience.

4. Compose and Distribute Great Content

The content you create will depend on the objectives outlined in your content marketing strategy. Remember to create the kind of content your target audience will actually care about.

Simply creating good content isn’t enough, you need to distribute that content to reach people. Your distribution plan will be guided by where your target audience consumes content. Make sure your content is easy to share to encourage more engagement and sharing.

5. Monitor, Measure and Make Improvements

Most important, you need to measure your progress on an ongoing basis. These metrics will provide you with valuable information on what’s working and what can be improved upon.

The metrics will also provide insights into developing new opportunities for engagement and content delivery and will guide your strategy and content marketing system moving forward.

By creating great content, developing a strategy, defining your target reader, composing and distributing your content, and measuring your success, you will become a true content marketing MVP.

If you need some extra help creating a content marketing plan for your business, use our Content Marketing Kit. Or you can always give us a call.

Are you a content marketing MVP? Please share the tricks and techniques you have discovered that are delivering the best results for your business.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


How To Get Prospects To Listen To Your Marketing

Posted by Kami Valdez

February 18, 2015

shutterstock_158199479

Do you know your clients? Really know your clients? Do you understand what puts them over the moon and what keeps them up at night? Are you listening? Or are you so busy talking about you, that you know nothing about them?

Here’s the truth. No one cares about you. People are only interested in themselves. The only way to get someone to pay attention to you is if you are talking about what interests them!

Knowing your audience is essential for inbound marketing success. Every individual prospect will be different, but there are things they have in common, and you can use these commonalities to create marketing personas that will make your prospects think you are talking directly to them, about them.

Marketing personas should represent your best clients. They give guidance for molding your future products or services. They help with the decision making process of your marketing strategies. They direct your sales and marketing teams in knowing what to say.

Here's a simple three-step guide to help you create a marketing persona:

  1. Identify your ideal client(s). You need to gather the basic facts about them like: What's the size of their company? What industry are they in? Are they a new startup or an established business? Where are they located? Questions like these will help you define who they are.
  2. Know what they like. Identify the things that they actually buy and use or how they spend their money. Based on these facts, you will know what and if they are willing to pay for your products or services.
  3. Find out their drivers. What desired result are they seeking? What problems do they need to have solved? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you understand the wants and needs of your ideal clients so you can speak their language.

These are just a few basic things to remember when creating your marketing personas. Spend some time getting to know your ideal clients better, and you will discover your best prospects will hang on your every word.

If you need some help creating the perfect marketing persona for your business, download our Precise Prospect Profile Worksheet. Or you can always give us a call.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

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Topics: Lead Generation, Small Business Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


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