Social Media

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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Blogging: Why Wouldn’t You Do Something That Works?

Posted on October 5, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Content, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media, Writing | Tags: , , , , , |

Blogging Opens Doors

Blogging Opens Doors

Why would you not do something guaranteed to bring people to your website and introduce your company’s expertise and offerings? There are so many marketing efforts people chase that cost time and money with no guarantee that they’ll yield anything. So, I ask again…Why wouldn’t you spend a few hours a week on an activity guaranteed to pay off?

I’m talking about blogging. I guarantee you that when I write and publish this post today, I will get traffic. And I’ll get more traffic than yesterday when I didn’t post. I get traffic to my blog every day when I’m posting at least three times a week.

Some of it comes from publicizing the posts on social media. But lots of it comes from organic search – people searching online for topics represented in keywords contained in the posts — and they find me.

I almost talked myself out of posting today in favor of other things that require my attention. But I prioritized getting a post out – regardless of how short. Because I know it will get results. It will provide opportunities for new relationships and potential business.

That feels great to me and I hope that sharing this with you will be motivating and helpful. Success feels great. Blog for success!

 

Image from Ben Zvan 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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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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9/11 Legacy: Better Communication

Posted on September 11, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Human Business, Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , |

 

9-11 Memorial Greenwich Village

We began communicating better right after 9/11 starting with impromptu memorials like this one in Greenwich Village, NY

 

Since 9/11 ten years ago, much has been said about the role that lack of communication played in the tragic event.

Our various national security offices failed to connect the dots among various pieces of intelligence that may have led to foiling the evil plot. Simply they didn’t speak to one another.

On the ground on that day that changed our lives forever, first responders did not have equipment adequate to communicate moment-by-moment events to each other. This led to unnecessary further loss of life.

I recall the frustration and fear that came from the inability to confirm whether friends in the city were safe or lost. Cell phone communication with New York was lost.

Today we hear of credible – though unconfirmed — terrorist threats that enable us to thwart attacks. When we see something, we’re encouraged to say something – and we do.

New York Mayor Bloomberg spoke today of the advances in equipment and technology now available to our first responders when they go into harms way.

When cell service is down because of man-made or natural disasters – like the recent hurricane – we can turn to Twitter, Facebook and other social media to keep abreast of news and stay in touch with loved ones.

I received a group email today from Scott Heiferman, CEO of MeetUp, the offline networking group he co-founded as a direct result of his experience of community and personal communication in his New York neighborhood in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He chose today to tell the story.

Although ten years after 9/11, we are paradoxically divided as a nation, its encouraging that we are more earnest communicators. We share our thoughts on blogs and elsewhere online. We get offline to gather in person at meet-ups, tweet-ups and town meetings to voice our views.

Maybe the goal of the decade to come should be to hone our listening skills and try to recapture the commonality we felt as a country right after that fateful and dreadful shared experience.

The image of the Greenwich Village 9/11 Memorial is from Paull Young under Creative Commons license.

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Web Crossroads: Quantity vs Quality

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Business Strategy, Communications, Human Business, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

Is Social Media at a Crossroad?

Is Social Media at a Quantity vs Quality Crossroad?

For the past couple of months you may have been noticing some posts here complaining about  social media etiquette – lack of it, actually – over-commercialization and inattention to community that was the original hallmark of social media.

These days, so much activity seems to be related to numbers over substance. Get as many followers as possible. Maybe they’ll help you monetize your blog. Maybe you can sell them something right away and get your revenues up. It’s all about me, not about you. Relationship building is going by the wayside.

The counter measure to this phenomenon seems to be happening on Google+. People – mostly online-early-adopter types – are building different kinds of connections. They’re savoring the non-reciprocal nature of the place and experimenting, including communicating interests and passions other than what they share on their existing business and social networks.

Why is this happening? I say that it’s out of a dissatisfaction – and perhaps a fast-cycling nostalgia — for the hopes they saw in social media. Instead of companies getting on board for the journey, their inevitable push for results and ROI is grating against the notion of building trusting relationships that will lead to longer term rewards.

Among other recent blogs I’ve read  expressing this thought, a couple of days ago social media consultant and author Jay Baer wrote a post on his well-regarded blog railing against the expectation that’s been developing that online marketing should be easy and yield instant results. I felt compelled to comment on his post having written with a similar sentiment recently.

Although it’s a young marketing approach, it seems to me that online marketing is at a Quantity vs Quality crossroads. Are you experiencing any evidence of this. This is an important conversation to have and hope you’ll join in.

The image is by Soundlessfall under Creative Commons license.

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Tuesday Tweets for August 30, 2011

Posted on August 30, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Business Strategy, Communications, Content, Marketing, Small Business, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Twitter Tweet Reviews

Reviews of Tweets from My Twitter Timeline

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for August 30, 2011 — where we take a look at tweets from my Twitter feed for do’s, don’ts, best practices – and sometimes just for fun. Keep in mind that what we examine here is in no way personal. We’re all learning about building audiences online. In that spirit, if you disagree with my assessments, let me have it! I’m learning, too!

This week we’re adding an extra special treat – a musical accompaniment to your read. Be sure to hit the play button if you’d like to smile.

The most frequent comment I hear when I broach the topic of adding Twitter to the social media mix is, “We have an account, but have no idea what to do with it.” So I decided that it might be useful to use this week’s Tuesday Tweets to show how a number of businesses and organizations are using Twitter to move toward their objectives.

@NewsTimes It should read $15,000. Good catch! #correction RT @JackBouffard @NewsTimes $1,500 or $15,000?

Here’s a daily newspaper using Twitter to interact with a reader to flag and quickly correct an error in its reporting. This is the kind of nimble use of social media that might help traditional media evolve and survive.

@TheArtsCenterNY  Red Cross is here until 5:30PM accepting blood donations! By taking a short time to donate blood, you can save lives.

This arts center is using Twitter for real time promotion of a Red Cross blood drive – a nonprofit boosting another nonprofit’s mission, helping its community and boosting its own engagement and value at the same time

@dancommator Social Media Check-In Promos Reward Frequent Branch Visits http://t.co/EJ… via @FinancialBrand #financialservices #banking #sociallmedia

Can you believe that a few banks are reversing the trend of pushing customers from bank branches to online banking, and are using social media check-ins to encourage branch visits – and human contact! This retweet could be a harbinger of a new era of bank service. One can hope!

@ScottMonty RT @ThePeoplesFleet : Help @abetterla win $5K by simply watching a video! Check it out here: http://t.co/Ic… #tpfla

Another smart nonprofit is using Twitter to boost its chances to win a $5000 grant from Ford by asking folks on Twitter to vote for them. Using the hashtag gets them beyond their own followers.

@AMAnet New programs added to the AMA’s upcoming events calendar — Webcasts are FREE! —http://t.co/6t…

The American Management Association is using Twitter to get the word out about a new free Webinar series, a great way to develop its membership.

@1day1brand  Are you ready for a bold new brand? Complete our assessment below, and we’ll email you the results right away – http://ow.ly/6…

@1Day1Brand used this Tweet to recruit participants to take a survey that was designed to subtly (sort of) educate about its brand building seminars and generate leads. A bit obvious, but not bad.

@MichelleDamico Change supply parents into demand parents. I tell principals: parents yelling at u are engaging. #CPS #Brizzard #chicagoPublicSchools

Thanks to live tweeting, an address by the Chicago Public Schools Superintendent gets wider attention. You can get similar visibility and leverage for your organization’s spokesperson and amplify public speaking engagements.

@HourWestport Connecticut Humane Society is having an emergency Cat Adoption Event. Locally try theWestport location:455 Post Road East, 203-227-4137

Another local newspaper is using its Twitter bully pulpit to get out community news that it probably doesn’t have room for in the print edition.

@SierraSez  It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a bus? More details coming soon…you won’t want to miss out on this.

An enterprising tweet creates anticipation for one that’s yet to come. I’ll put up a Twitter search for @SierraSez so that I’m sure not to miss whatever it is. Curiosity is a powerful motivator! ;-}

@MagicSauceMedia Looking 4 SRProduct & Co Evangelist 4start-up in search,aggregation,content & semantic search space. Loc: San Fran or NYC.Email me w/leads

And we’ll end with a highly practical – and hopeful – tweet. Here’s a company using its Twitter updates to seek and hire a new employee.

It would be great if you’d share the creative ways your business or organization is using Twitter.

The Tuesday Tweets graphic is from Freshalex Online under Creative Commons license.

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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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Tuesday Tweets for 8-23-11

Posted on August 23, 2011. Filed under: Content, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Twitter Tweet Reviews

Reviews of Tweets from My Twitter Timeline

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for August 23, 2011 — where we take a look at tweets from my Twitter feed for do’s, don’ts, best practices – and sometimes just for fun. Keep in mind that what we examine here is in no way personal. We’re all learning about building audiences online. In that spirit, if you disagree with my assessments, let me have it! I’m learning, too!

@Georg_Grey Georg Grey Please follow ===> @7shines @AyaMones @haceeb @karine_frigon @BrensView @Vernon_J_ @ProNetworkBuild @reneedobbs @bigmoneywebs @RDavidMacNeil

This is a typical booster tweet – similar to #followfriday (#FF) but for any day — to promote people whose tweets we find of interest an with whom we’d like to build stronger relationships. Even though it seems like a time saver to string a bunch of Twitter handles together as in the above example, it’s actually more useful and powerful to do one at a time and include something about why we should follow that person, who they are, what they do, what they share. If you have two people who have similar reasons to recommend them you can send them both. But let people know why.

Since the 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of theU.S.an hour or so ago, my Twitter timeline is full of earthquake tweets. So I’m going to give in and dedicate the rest of Tuesday Tweets to the best of the earthquake tweets that are coming in. Hope you didn’t get too shook up. The windows rattled here and the building shook a bit, but fortunately it looks like there were no serious consequences.

@Chase_TheHour Chase Wright by TheHourNews

Did you feel the earthquake? Tell us about it @TheHourNews

My local daily paper seeking citizen journalists to help them report on the earthquake.

@alexashrugged alexashrugged by richmac  Co-worker “We didn’t have earthquakes like that when Bush was president” #earthquake

Yup. A D.C. earthquake would be sure to stimulate political commentary! ;-}

@muz4now stan stewart The D.C. area quake was powerful enough (5.8) to rattle my chair in the Poconos at 2PM Eastern. Wow. Haven’t felt that sinceOakland.

This poor guy thought he’d escaped earthquakes when he moved east.

@paulhelmick Paul Helmick West Virginia Shaken Not Stirred #earthquake

Good one. Hope it’s also dry. Anyone have other Martini references?

@typeamom Kelby Carr Did the CNN anchor seriously just suggest the quake could have possibly been terrorists? Oh my.

Why am I not surprised?

@petershankman Peter Shankman So bummed I don’t have any pressing deadlines I can miss by blaming the #earthquake.

I felt the same way. Though I was sorry it cut into Dan Zarella’s HubSpot webinar at 2.

@benjaminstrong benjaminstrong  Did you feel the earth move? “That’s what she said!” #DCearthquake #earthquake

Love an old saw brought out at the perfect moment!

@shashib Shashi Bellamkonda DCRestaurants : Good day for a earthquake Happy Hour Special

Shashi is Network Solution’s social media guru down in DC and a great guy. He’s always thinking of opportunities for 4square promotions! ;-D

And today I’ll end with my own contribution to the #earthquake discussion, which was the number one trending topic on Twitter this afternoon.

@elliebpr Ellie Becker Nothing like an #earthquake in CT on a sunny day. At first I thought it was the impact of my latest blog post. ;-}

The recently adopted Tuesday Tweets graphic is from Freshalex Online under Creative Commons license.

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Ticked Off on Twitter: How Not to Thank Me for Following

Posted on August 14, 2011. Filed under: Business Strategy, Communications, Content, Human Business, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , |

Get 4100 Twitter Followers

Need I Say More?

People use Twitter in different ways. Some go for volume. Get as many followers as possible. This is often part of a monetization strategy and utilizes some automation program or builds from following others’ lists, which is fine.

I’ve made the decision to build a smaller community on Twitter based on mutual interests and the ability to gain and add value. My community is focused on two groups: other marketing professionals and small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs), the kind of companies that my business serves.

Perusing my Twitter stream gives me access to information about my profession and my target audiences that I might not ever connect with otherwise. It’s a great listening station. It also affords me the opportunity to give back information and experience-based knowledge, as well as to engage with people who may be able to refer business or to hire me directly. The way I approach Twitter and other social media is in exactly that order.

Before I follow someone, I check their profile to be sure they meet the above criteria. When someone follows me, I also check their profile before following back. Before I thank someone for following me, I check their profile so that I can reference something specific about them that I’m interested in knowing more about or that we share in common.

That’s one of the benefits of cultivating a smaller group of followers. You can get to know them over time. I recognize almost everyone in my Twitter stream and have a good idea of the kinds of information they’ll share or be interested in.

So what ticks me off? Automated ‘Thanks for following’ direct messages. They’re cold and impersonal to me. I feel this way: Why bother thanking me at all? You don’t really care about who I am or what I can share with you. You just connected with me based on some keyword to build your followers. It’s about you…not us. If you are going to thank me, at least make it for the right thing.

I especially hate it when the auto DM contains a further ask: Thanks for following. Now connect with us on Facebook, too, or visit our website, or check out how we can make you a million online with our great software. It reminds me of how annoyed I used to get when I’d drive two hours to visit my dear, departed grandmother and the first thing she’d say to me when I got out of the car wasn’t, “Hello, darling,” but, “So when are you going to come again?”

Call me old fashioned, but I like the idea of community and getting acquainted first. Let me know why you’re looking forward to following each other and I can better deliver on my end of the bargain!

How do you use Twitter? How do you feel about auto DMs that say thank you and sell you more at the same time?

Image ‘Get 4100 Twitter Followers for $12.95″ is from redplasticmonkey under Creative Commons license.

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