Inbound Marketing

Moving Day. Come with Me and Come Back.

Posted on November 14, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , , , |

This Blog is Moving. Come With Me and Subscribe

This Blog is Moving and Will Now Be Known as 'the inbound-i blog'. Click the link and come subscribe for uninterrupted service. I'll miss you if you don't!

Dear Subscribers,

Today is moving day. I’m launching a new blog called ‘the inbound-i blog’. It’s a continuation and evolution of New PR Words and Music, which will remain here so that you can come back and access the 110 posts created here. When you click on the link to the new blog and read the first post, you’ll understand why I’m making the change.

While you’re there, please subscribe by email or RSS feed so that you receive the latest information, ideas and intelligence about inbound marketing without interruption.

The new blog is a result of the evolution of online marketing and my own business focus. In explaining why the new blog, there’s also some good information for you about the importance of tailoring your online marketing to maximize the use of inbound marketing analytics.

Come with me to the new blog for future posts and come back here as often as you like to re-read and to re-listen to your musical favorites.

I will, too.

The moving image is from the Flickr photostream of aldenjewell under Creative Commons license.

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Proof: Hot Topics Can Get Posts to Google Page 1

Posted on November 9, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Google, Inbound Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Search | Tags: , , , , , |

Kardashian Post Makes Google Page 1

A search for Kim Kardashian Divorce PR Strategy got my post to Google Page 1 Positions 2 and 3

My last post has made it to Google Page 1 for searches related to the Kim Kardashian divorce – the intended point of an experiment I conducted with it. See above and below for the proof.

The post contended that including hot and trending topics in your blog posts can boost your traffic by getting your post to come up in more searches. As an experiment I created an Inbound Marketing metaphor to the Kim Kardashian Kris Humphries Divorce.

The post also referenced Siri, which had brought another of my posts to Google Page 1 for sumerous searches and led to the topic of the last post and the Kardashian experiment. Here are more results.

Kardashian Experiment on Google Page 1

A search on Kim Kardashian Siri brought my post to Google Page 1 Position 2

The searches are actual searches that got people to my blog. Note that the first Page 1 positions were out of 165,000,000 results and the second was out of 7,030,000 results. Case made. Hot topics can get you visibility you’d never get otherwise!

What trending topics and current events will you tie your next post to?

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Keywords: Take Your SEO Clues From Reality

Posted on October 24, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Inbound Marketing, Search, SEO | Tags: , , , , , , , |

 
Siri vs Watson Jeopardy Page One SERP

A Search for Siri vs Watson & Jeopardy Brought My Post to Google Page One

What really brings us up on page one of Google search results? I just took a look at my blog analytics. As I frequently am, I was surprised at what people typed into the Google search field that brought my blog up on page one – out of hundreds of thousands to millions of results. For almost none of these specific search terms did I set out to optimize my posts. But, nonetheless, they came up.

The lesson is that no matter how hard we work on our SEO, the people searching will determine by their searches if they land on our pages. The further reality is that we may or may not ultimately be relevant to what they’re looking for – but we never know.

It’s just a good thing to temper our SEO efforts with an understanding that there are infinite queries that can bring us to someone’s attention. This to me is what’s so exciting about marketing online!!! It’s the ultimate in interactivity with our audiences, and the possibilities are endless.

Here are the searches that brought me up on page one today–  plus the url’s for the actual posts that came up with the search results. How relevant do you think my posts might have been to the queries?

  • siri Watson    http://bit.ly/rMKrdw (same for all of the Watson siri queries)
  • siri vs Watson
  • watson vs siri jeopardy
  • watson siri
  • siri versus Watson
  • how are apple’s siri and ibm’s watson the same and different?
  • siri vs. Watson
  • how to identify key messages          http://bit.ly/slp4f7
  • respect and listening lessons         http://bit.ly/swDGrt
  • jazz manager ken Blanchard            http://bit.ly/vXTYyP
  • emily post etiquette social networking tips        http://bit.ly/srjnwa
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Help Crowd-Source an Inbound Marketing Definition (There’s a Prize)

Posted on October 10, 2011. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing, Small Business, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Inbound Marketing - Crowd Source Definition

Question: What's the Definition of Inbound Marketing? Thanks for sharing your answer!

Can you succinctly describe Inbound Marketing? Do you have an idea but are not quite certain? Would you like to know more about what it is? Do you have absolutely no idea, but would be willing to take a stab at explaining it anyway?

Then this is the post for you! You just have to be prepared to share your take on Inbound Marketing in the comments. There’s a prize involved. Read on.

Why am I looking for a definition? I talk to companies about Inbound Marketing every day and each time I try to find the tidiest way to help people get it. I’m a pretty darned good communicator – been doing it professionally and successfully for decades. I’ve explained lots of complex concepts and technologies.

But Inbound Marketing seems tougher for some reason. Maybe it’s because people think they know what it is, and are resistant to accepting that there’s more to it. Eventually people understand, but given today’s short attention spans, we need a short explanation. Time is of the essence!

I’ve checked out Inbound Marketing groups on LinkedIn, the websites of fellow Inbound Marketing agencies, HubSpot’s website and Wikipedia, which was able to shed light on an earlier sense of Inbound/Outbound Marketing that I encountered once trying to explain it to a software company product development executive.

So far I’ve found nothing that encompasses all the parts and benefits of today’s Inbound Marketing in a way that’s quickly understandable. I’ve blogged about how people don’t get it. I’ve wracked my own brain for a tight definition and come up with something that I’m trying out in my networking groups and to audiences I’m speaking to in the near future. But I have a feeling I can do better.

So I decided to reach out to the online community of all stripes to see if we can crowd source something that works. There’s a prize for the best definition: A copy of Inbound Marketing  by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of HubSpot. Brian coined the phrase Inbound Marketing.

Let’s have at it. I’m passionate about Inbound Marketing, know it works and want more companies to get it and buy in, so that they can start reaping the benefits. Plus we can have some fun!

Let’s get all the help we can. Please share everywhere!!

The image is from the photostream of tj scenes on Flickr.com under Creative Commons license.

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Social Media Does Not Equal Inbound Marketing

Posted on September 30, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

 
Welcome to Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is a bigger, more strategic concept than Social Media

When someone asks me what I do for a living and I say, “I’m an Inbound Marketing consultant and they get that blank stare, I try to help them by saying, “Online Marketing,” as a potentially more understandable explanation. Almost inevitably, they then say, “Oh. Social Media. We’re doing that.”

Then I say to myself, “There’s still so much education necessary to help people understand that:

  • Inbound Marketing is a total process for growing business online
  • Social media engagement is one important part of implementing Inbound Marketing, but to really make social media pay off, you first have to understand its purpose in the big picture.

 Here’s a list of what Social Media is good for:

  • Identifying people online who can buy your products/services or refer others who can.
  • Cultivating relationships with those individuals.
  • Publicizing your website, blog posts and other valuable original content to drive traffic.
  • Providing outposts for your company other than your website to engage with audiences in different ways.

This is all great and these activities can stand on their own to a point. But Inbound Marketing as an overall approach:

  • Originates from a more strategic than tactical mindset.
  • Looks at marketing as a driver of growth and takes business objectives and metrics into consideration.
  • Is concerned with not only creating online traffic but converting it to sales.
  • Tailors tactics to address a prospect’s progress in the purchase cycle.
  • Incorporates analytics to measure success and set productive marketing directions.
  • Offers ROI proofs.

So if your company has a Facebook page, a Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Google+ account – even if you’re blogging like crazy in addition to your social media efforts – and you’re not sure what it’s actually contributing to the bottom line, it’s time to graduate to the next level of online marketing. Start thinking and implementing like an Inbound Marketer.

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A Marketing View: 20 Steps to a Website that Maximizes Business Growth

Posted on September 26, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Small Business, Website Design | Tags: , , , , , |

Grow Your Business Online

Marketing Strategy is the First Step to Growing Business Online

In the past, if you wanted a new website – or to redesign an existing one – the first step was to find a web design firm. This was fine when your website was an online brochure.

Today, if you make your first concern the design and look/feel of your site, you’re missing valuable opportunities to use the web project to refine or redefine your business focus, to add new business lines – and to get found.

A marketing/business consultant is well suited to help you in this effort and is a prudent first stop. Getting an outside eye on your business and online marketing can yield fresh ideas about how you can use your web presence to grow.

Then find a good design/web development firm capable of implementing your brand identity and web strategy, offering technical advice, and organizing your content for usability. Your marketing consultant will undoubtedly be able to help you source the right partner.

Here are 20 steps to structuring a website project to maximize business growth:

1. Review and audit your current marketing, as well as new marketing approaches you’d like to add.

2. Be able to articulate, “What’s our business?”

3. Do a lot of competitive research. Look at other sites. See what your competitors are doing or not doing. A good consultant will come up with ways that you can leap-frog them with your expanded web presence. (Tip: SEO utilizing current best practices provides fertile soil for growth. Most businesses simply aren’t doing it, or doing it right.)

4. Be sure to answer the question: “Are there any new products, services or offerings related to our core business that we can and should add?”

5. Make sure you’re focused on the right customer.

6. Identify your market positioning.

7. Think out of the box to identify all stakeholders and key influencers.

8. Interview a few of them

9. Develop your key messages – the most important ideas you want to convey consistently to your audiences.

10. Do your keyword research – identify the words/phrases people are actually using to search on line for products/services like yours. (Hint: Not necessarily the words you’d use to search for them).

11. Organize your site by developing a sample navigation. Be sure to include a blog if you want to drive maximum traffic to your site. Have your consultant recommend internal linking strategies to help users work efficiently through your site.

12. Decide: What existing content can be re-used? What content should be scrapped? What new pages do you need to develop?

13. Determine the level of control you want or need to have over your website. What edits do you want to be able to make in-house without tech assistance. We recommend having as much control as possible if you want to use your website to help grow your business.

14. Source a web designer/developer who works in technology platforms that will accommodate the level of control you desire.

15. Provide the navigation and all the guidance you’ve developed in completing the steps above to your web developer. It will help them prepare a realistic budget.

16. Write/develop the content for all of your pages – including all SEO information for each page, any photos, videos and other media you’ll want to use – and provide the content to the web developer.

17. Get into the design process and have fun with the visual.

18. Code the site in accordance with the provided SEO, content and linking strategies. In the case of website re-do’s, make sure to properly re-direct existing pages and to retain important backlinks to the site.

19. Test and tweak for usability.

20. LAUNCH!!

Emphasizing business and marketing strategy first in the web development process has never failed to yield new directions for our clients’ businesses.

The illustration “Dollar Sign in Space” is by DonkeyHotey under Creative Commons license.

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Lessons from the 2011 Inbound Marketing Summit

Posted on September 20, 2011. Filed under: Business Strategy, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Media, Online Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Inbound Marketing Summit 2011 in Boston

The Inbound Marketing Summit 2011 Was Packed With Ideas From Top Experts

My Twitter account was hacked last night, so no Tuesday Tweets til I get things back to normal. Instead, I’ll share more learning from the 2011 Inbound Marketing Summit (#IMS11 if you want to follow it on Twitter), which I attended last week in Boston.

I put up a couple of quick posts while I was there, but now that I’ve had a chance to process the experience and review my notes I can offer you more in depth reporting and some key takeaways.

As in the past two years that I’ve attended, the speakers were the top names in marketing and media – online and offline. I’ll be sharing highlights of their talks over the next week or so – starting now.

Differentiating Your Company from the Competition

After a welcome by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who talked about the opportunities for tech companies in his state, Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon gave the opening keynote on the topic of marketing differentiation. This is a favorite topic of mine as I see so much boring sameness out there, industry to industry. Translate that to mean loss of opportunity.

In true HBS tradition, as she put it, Moon explained ‘being different’ via case studies of IKEA, Mini Cooper and Apple. These ‘different’ companies have built very devoted customers and share certain qualities that we can all try to emulate:

  •  Nurturing the seemingly crazy ideas that lead them to buck the status quo and become ‘different.’ (Think about launching a tiny car to the U.S. market in an age of SUVs.)
  • Embracing their negatives. According to Moon, the genius is often in the negatives.
  • Being willing to ignore critics.
  • Not over-listening to customers, who can tell you how to improve, but not how to be different.
  • Being passionate beyond belief – the extreme version of caring and believing.

Do You Really Need to Be On Google+?

Chris Brogan, who’s been evaluating Google+ in depth since it launched in June tackled the subject of why we need another social network. His answer: Technology Evolves! We need to go where our people are.

Brogan pointed out an array of now-defunct – or almost defunct – technology and sites to make his point. Do you remember Friendster? Does anyone log onto Geocities these days?

Beyond its ‘clean’ visual look, Google+ has added social functionalities that have been missing and that Twitter and Facebook have now responded to with similar features. Selective sharing has been embraced, along with the video conferencing capabilities of which people are making varied and creative use, i.e. holding intellectual ‘salons’ of gurus and regular folk or hosting international customer support forums.

But the most powerful reason to have a Google+ presence is that it’s the first social network that combines social with search. Google no longer indexes Twitter, but being on Google+ might just help you come up higher in organic search results than those who aren’t.

Middle of the Sales Funnel in the Spotlight

HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan used his speaking slot to address the shifting sales funnel. The first few years of inbound marketing have focused on stretching the top of the sales funnel by attracting more traffic to our websites and other online outposts and then converting the traffic to leads.

Inbound marketing 2.0 will be about how to better nurture leads through the middle of the sales funnel so that we develop a significant enough relationship to convert leads to customers when they’re ready to purchase. HubSpot recently acquired the company Performable, which has focused on middle-of-the-funnel technology that will now integrate with the HubSpot platform.

The key takeaway from Brian’s talk is that this shift in focus to the middle of the funnel coincides with the shift in power from the sales rep to the buyer created by the ability to research products and services online before buying. This has created a paradigm shift in the relationship between marketing and sales.

The new realities of buyer power require bigger marketing departments to handle the lead generation and nurturing processes and a smaller sales force that can concentrate on converting to customers the highly-qualified and sales-ready leads that marketing turns over to them.

More to come! Have you begun shifting your marketing to take advantage of new thinking and online tools?

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Report #2 from Inbound Marketing Summit

Posted on September 15, 2011. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , |

How much better does it get for online marketing geeks? Former Apple chief evangelist and author Guy Kawasaki spoke about his book Enchantment this morning. His updated take on How to Win Friends and Influence People gives a fresh take on how to connect offline as well as online in a digital world. He definitely models his first premise: Be Likable!

The day ended with Fast Company writer Dan Heath offering wisdom from his NY Times bestseller Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. Perfect for inbound marketers who are working to change marketing so that it works for today’s realities.

Between the two talks HubSpot founder and CEO Brian Halligan updated us VARs on the direction the company is taking to help companies embrace the changes in the way they must market to be successful.

Let me share with you that it’s such exciting stuff. Successful marketing has never been easy or without sufficient investment.

At least now, you can finally see the results of your marketing investment – of dollars and time – in concrete terms. More than ever before you can integrate your efforts for great efficiency and with maximum control.

When I get back to the office I’ll share more specifics. Just thought I’d give you a small rundown and a bit of the day’s energy.

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Report from the Inbound Marketing Summit

Posted on September 14, 2011. Filed under: Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media |

This will be a short post to share a couple of key takeaways so far at this Summit of inbound/online marketing pros.

It’s been interesting to hear what the experts are saying about the direction of marketing. Lots of talk about segmenting audiences down to the level of the individual customer. It’s great to have the vision that we can all become Amazon.com inthe next few years.

The truth is – and lots of my colleagues here agree – we still have a lot of work to do before most companies are using the existing tools effectively and even embracing the new marketing realities in the first place.

I’m posting this between sessions, so no photo today.

Will share more tomorrow. Follow the hashtag #IMS11 on Twitter if you want to get the flavor of the conference.

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Web DIY: Why You Must Take Control of Your Site – And How to Do It

Posted on August 29, 2011. Filed under: Business Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

DIY Web Take Control of your Website

To Succeed in Online Marketing You Must Take Control of Your Website

I was in the mood for some music today. This post is about embracing new systems for managing your own website. Listen to the upbeat, funky instrumental Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda by The Crusaders with Joe Sample on keyboards. Hope that’s not us!

Today the way to reach customers, prospects and other key audiences is to connect with them where they are – Online. And to do that you must have the right web-based marketing tools. The days of calling the IT department or your webmaster to update your website are over. Marketing has changed forever. It’s moved online, too, and now has lots of moving parts that need to be integrated to be as effective as possible.  

For that reason, it’s absolutely essential that you have control of your website. You need to be able to update it frequently, publish new content constantly, optimize your pages and content for search engines, add pages whenever you need to, create landing pages as destinations for respondents to email campaigns or social media site links.

For that matter, you need to be able to implement email campaigns from your site – and if you’re selling products and/or services you need to incorporate ecommerce, too. And don’t forget capturing the contact info for those who download your white papers, or subscribe to your blog.

Once you have those contacts engaging with you on your site, you need to be able to keep track of how they’re interacting with you over time so that you can keep offering content of value, convert them to customers, retain them and have them as brand advocates. You need integrated analytics so that you can track all of this – beginning with where traffic is coming from to begin with and which of your offers convert best.

So many companies are still trying to handle their online marketing piecemeal – and they’re losing opportunities – and precious time. If you don’t make online marketing efficient, it can be a voracious productivity gobbler.

I’ve written about this before, til I’m almost bored hearing myself say it. But we’re in an evolving process (I’ll say that again, too) and change – especially in times of change and innovation — never comes without repeatedly educating oneself and one’s audiences. So thanks for indulging my repetitions.

For those who are in marketing denial or just plain overwhelmed/confused, hopefully you’ll find some answers and a way forward in one of the online marketing systems that follow. 

HubSpot

The good news is that there are more and more tools available all the time for online/inbound marketing education. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I use HubSpot to manage and integrate my own inbound marketing efforts and that I am a HubSpot VAR.

HubSpot has received some fanfare lately as it launched its App Marketplace. There is a great deal of independent plug-in development going on at the present time to make HubSpot an even more robust option.

Adobe Business Catalyst

There are also other platforms. Of note is Adobe Business Catalyst, a hosted service available through professional website developers with modules for content management, email, ecommerce, CRM, blogging and a host of other online marketing activities – all connected to integrated analytics.

WordPress

WordPress offers a free hosted, templated blogging platform with limited plug-ins and customization at WordPress.com. Or you can download the far more customizable version at WordPress.org and host it with your own service provider. There are probably thousands of WordPress plug-ins and widgets that you can add to make a full-function website – or ecommerce site – using what was began as open platform blogging software.

Drupal and Joomla

These templated content management systems allow for some customization and also have numerous functionalities available via plug-ins. These are probably best for website DIY’ers who are a bit more tech-savvy than your average user.

Bottom line: If you’ve done nothing to update your website in the past two to three years, you’re undoubtedly not in control and in danger of falling seriously behind your competitors. If you take control now, you can get ahead!!

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